Blog

Baseball Items July

Things I came across: Christian Yelich’s great-great grandfather was a running back in the NFL. His name was Fred Gehrke and he is the man who designed the logo for the L.A. Rams.

The son of actors Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon is named Deacon and that was done to honor a relative of Ryan’s–Deacon Phillippe who was the first pitcher to win three games in a World Series. In fact, he did that in the first modern World Series ever, the 1903 best-of-nine Series won by the Pirates over the Boston Pilgrims.

Coincidentally, 57 years later, a man with the nickname of the Deacon, Vernon Law, came very close to winning three in the Series versus the Yankees. The 1960 World Series was the most lopsided, wildest one ever in the opinion of many. The Bucs lost three games by scores of 16-3, 10-0, and 12-0 (two shutouts by Whitey Ford) but won it all in seven thanks to the famous walkoff homer by Bill Mazeroski. The Yanks’ stats destroyed those of the Pirates which led Gino Cimoli of the Pirates to quip after the deciding contest, “They set all the records and we won the game.”

Al McGuire’s Greatest Players

From a 1984 Inside Sports magazine: Al McGuire picked his “Blue Chippers” teams including his All-Americans. His all-time All-American was Oscar Robertson and his five for the ’84 draft featured just one senior Kevin Magee. He rounded out his picks with Sam Bowie, Terry Cummings, Ralph Sampson, and James Worthy.

His All-Blur team: all-time pick was Calvin Murphy. The ’84 selections included Dwight Anderson and Rocket Foster. How many of the men mentioned so far have you remembered vividly?

All-Radar: all-time best shooter was Rick Mount; others included Trent Tucker, Byron Scott, Quintin Dailey, and Randy Wittman.

All-Slam-Jam-in-Your Face: all-time pick was Bill Russell. Also on the list were Sam Perkins, LaSalle Thompson, and Dominique Wilkins. By the way, McGuire had a rule that no man could be on more than one list.

His all-time power forward was Larry Bird. His ’84 picks included Antoine Carr, Michael Cage, and Clark Kellogg.

All-time take charge guy: Bob Cousy. From ’84–Sleepy Floyd, John Paxson, and Doc Rivers

Best freshman ever was Magic Johnson. From ’84–Pat Ewing and Michael Jordan.

He had some dubious picks for ’84 first-round NBA picks such as Kevin Magee, Fred Roberts, Darren Tillis, Corny Thompson, Rory White, and Alvis Rogers. I’ll be honest, I can’t recall most of those men.

Big Red Machine’s Underrated Cog: Griffey Sr.

The MLB network selected their greatest teams ever based on what they accomplished in one season. The #1 team was the Yankees of 1998–that team won 114 games and was stacked with talent.

However, being from Donora, Pa. (and knowing many followers of this site are from there), I thought it was worth sharing that the Reds of ’75 (they won 108 games, most in their league since 1909) came in second and that Donora’s Ken Griffey Sr. was highly instrumental in that success.

Only Pete Rose and Joe Morgan scored more runs than Griffey’s 95 (#6 in the NL) and he hit .305 that season as well. He stole 16 bases, ripped 9 triples (#6 in the league), and his on-base percentage, which was nearly .400, was the tenth best in the NL (the next year he jumped up to the fourth highest OB% in his league). Plus, he did all of that in just 132 games at the age of 25, and in his first full season in the majors.

He was so durable and skilled, he lasted until 1991–and in his final two seasons only four players were older than him. Frankly, some of the stats I examined were a surprise to me–for example, I never realized he finished so high in on-base percentage or that one season his on-base percentage plus slugging placed him in the #7 slot in the entire NL!

To see all of his stats and how he ranked among league leaders (and more), go to:

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/g/griffke01.shtml

Howard Cosell & deGrom item

One last deGrom stat that I found noteworthy from 2018. Yes, he ended his Cy Young season at 10-9, but did you know the Mets record in his 32 starts was 14-18? I know there are many reasons for that such as poor run support and I know he DID have some incredible stats, but I still have a hard time with a CYA winner with 10 wins!

Do you recall the time Howard Cosell was working a Monday Night Baseball game in 1977 and suddenly the audience could clearly hear a voice saying, “Howard, the entire state of Texas hates you,” and “You stink, Howard [or was it Howie].” It turned out the voice was coming from a 16-year-old batboy who was near a live microphone on or near the field. He claimed he didn’t know his comments would be heard on TV. The youngster was earning $8 per game. He was also suspended for his actions–even though so many of us thought he was correct.

Cosell was woefully lacking in baseball knowledge. One day the Phils were trailing by, I believe it was, three runs late in the game with slugger Mike Schmidt at the plate and two men on. The count ran to 2-0 or 3-0 and Schmidt took a big cut prompting Cosell to say he just couldn’t believe a batter wouldn’t be taking in that situation! Schmidt saw a pitch he felt he could drive–maybe even far enough to tie the game up with one swing–and he took that chance. After all, how many chances were the Phillies going to get to come back in that game and here’s your top power man at the plate awaiting a pitch that just might be grooved to him. You can bet he had a green light if the pitch was to his liking, but Cosell, with his limited knowledge, didn’t see it.

I recall another time Johnny Bench got fooled on a pitch and swung late, making just enough contact to hit the ball into the opposite field for a weak single. Cosell bellowed out something like, “Look at Bench. What a hitter. He purposely went with the pitch and guided it into right field.” It all makes me wonder just how many good sports fans really liked him? Did you?

 

June 2019: Misc. Baseball Items

Things I’ve come across:

The 2018 Dodgers didn’t have one pitcher throw 162 or more innings. That’s how much the game of baseball has come to rely upon bullpens. That means not one Dodger qualified to league leadership in any category because rules state in order to do so a pitcher must work a total amount of innings that would equal the number of games their team played (normally, 162).

Last season also featured just the third player to top his league in hits and steals–Whit Merrifield, an underrated player. The other two men were Dee Gordon and Ichiro.

I read that Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom, who had an ERA of 1.70, was deserving of winning the Cy Young Award, but I have some trouble with that. Yes, some of his stats, including that tiny ERA, are very impressive, but a Cy Young winner with 10 wins?! That bothers me. Maybe that’s because I grew up in an era when a Cy Young recipient such as Sandy Koufax put up numbers such as a sizzling 25-5 record (.833 WL%), with a 1.88 ERA. The year I’m using as an example, 1963, wasn’t an aberration–it was one of five consecutive seasons in which he led his league in ERA. In fact, that season Koufax had more shutouts, 11, than deGrom had wins!! I know baseball has changed so I won’t dwell on the contrast between their complete games, but here it is in black and white– Koufax turned in 20 CG (two other times he hit a personal high of 27) while deGrom had ONE! Koufax’s .833 winning percentage puts deGrom’s .526 to shame. Guess I’m getting resistant to changing times, but, again, the thinking of recent voters for awards is perplexing to me.

Likewise, the reliance upon homers is troubling. On September 6, 2018, the Yankees who set a record for the most homers by a team in a season, became the first team ever to field a team which had each of their nine lineup slots filled with men who had already powered 20+ homers. Of course, as of this early June writing, they’re saying the 2019 Twins are slugging at a pace which would shatter the Yanks record.

Mookie Wilson became the first batting crown winner to join the 30 HR/30 SB club…The Red Sox were a juggernaut last year: in their three rounds of playoff action, they clinched wins against three pitchers who were Cy Young winners in CC Sabathia, Justin Verlander, and Clayton Kershaw…I heard an interesting trivia item about Shohei Ohtani. It seems that he is the only man to homer off a reigning Cy Young winner and strike out the reigning MVP in 2019.

Flashback to a 1970 item. Cotton Nash set a University of Kentucky basketball scoring record with 1,770 points. That mark fell to Dan Issel, but Nash went on to play minor league baseball (and was up to the majors for a couple of cups of coffee–playing in 13 games). On August 3, 1970, he made Evansville (of the American Association) history when he drilled his 12th homer within a period of one month. Nash’s 25th homer tied a league record first set by Danny Walton and he went on to break Walton’s mark even though Nash got a late start in his quest for the record–his first blast didn’t come until May 7th. He wound up the year with 33 HR. Though he enjoyed quite a few years of power hitting in the minors, he never hit one in the majors.

The old record was shared by Leonard “Preacher” Williams and Lee Maye–how many of you remember him? He is NOT the Lee May (who spelled his last name without an “E”). That man compiled 354 homers with teams such as the Reds and O’s.

Lee Maye had a good career, lasting 13 seasons in the majors and collecting 94 HR and once leading the NL in doubles with 44. For doo-wop lovers, Maye also gained fame under the name of Arthur Lee Maye (mainly as an R & B/soul singer) long ago. As a high school student he sang with friends such as Jesse Belvin, who went on to record a hit in “Goodnight My Love,” and Richard Berry who wrote “Louie, Louie,” as well as Cornell Gunter who later sang with the Coasters. Maye formed a singing group called Arthur Lee Maye and the Crowns but also became a solo act. For those of you who are really into old music, here are a few of his titles: I’m Happy and In Love, Moonlight, and a version of Gloria.

Musial Item

From an old magazine: Larry King interviewed Stan Musial who displayed his modesty and his loyalty to his roots when he said, “Sometimes late at night, if I’m driving home from a function or something, I go by the [the Cardinals] stadium and look at that statue of me out front. I really get a kick out of it. Ya know, here’s a kid from Donora, Pa. with a statue of himself while he’s alive. Wow!”

I read somewhere else that Musial wasn’t too happy about the sculptor’s rendition of himself, but he was too nice to complain. I’ve seen it and I think the artist did a very poor job of capturing Stan’s appearance and his famous stance. Here’s a link to pictures of the statue. Let me know your thoughts, especially if you are, like me, a Donora native:

https://images.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search;_ylt=AwrEeB1c4OJc5RoAGAAPxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTByMjB0aG5zBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzYw–?p=stan+musial+statue+at+busch+stadium&fr=yhs-Lkry-SF01&hspart=Lkry&hsimp=yhs-SF01