Category Archives: Baseball

Mickey Mantle’s Final All Star Game – July 9, 1968

51 Years Ago Today – Mickey Mantle Plays In His Last All-Star Game July 9, 1968

Mickey Mantle final All Star game July 9 1968 strikeout photo Sam C Pierson Jr. Houston Chronicle

Mickey Mantle’s final All Star game July 9, 1968 Mickey Mantle swings through a Tom Seaver fastball. photo: Sam C Pierson Jr. / Houston Chronicle

Mickey Mantle hit the first home run ever at the Houston Astrodome, in an exhibition game on April 9, 1965. The Astrodome was then the new home of the National League’s, Houston Astros.

When Mantle next returned to the Astrodome in 1968 it was for the All-Star Game. Continue reading

A President Behind Home Plate

Who Is That Masked Man? A Future President? Ask Chevy Chase.

Future President Gerald Ford plays baseball in 1949

No, It’s not Donald Trump. Trump did play baseball in college. But behind home plate is a career politician who later became President.

Maybe a closer look will help.

Close-up of President Ford 1949 playing catcher in a softball gameWhen catching a ball it usually helps to have your eyes open. We’ll pardon you if you didn’t recognize Chevy Chase’s favorite comedic target when starring on Saturday Night Live,  President Gerald Ford.

The 1949 photograph comes from the UPI archive. We see Michigan Congressman Gerald Ford crouching behind home plate. In the batters box Representative Glenn R. Davis of Wisconsin demonstrates how to execute a bunt improperly by gripping and exposing his right fingers around the bat directly into the path of the ball so he can break his fingers.

Contrary to popular belief, Gerald Ford was very athletic and was not clumsy or simpleminded. In 1934 Ford was named the Most Valuable Player of the University of Michigan’s football team.

Why and when did people begin thinking Ford was awkward?

Probably when President Ford fell down a few steps disembarking Airforce One in Vienna on June 1, 1975. He also stumbled a few more times on the trip. Unfortunately for Ford, network TV was there to capture the airplane moment and show it nationally.

Then, Chevy Chase capitalized on the event and began portraying Gerald Ford in comedic sketches on SNL, as absent-minded, uncoordinated, constantly falling down and being prone to accidents. Though Chase neither looked or sounded like Ford, people began to believe that Chase’s characterization was how Ford was in real life!

For a year, week after week, Chase satirized President Ford on late night TV.

Finally, Ford and Chase met each other at the Radio and Television Correspondents Association dinner on March 25, 1976.

At the dinner in front of 1000 people at the Washington Hilton Hotel, Chase performed his Gerald Ford routine as President Ford sat at the dais and laughed at his impersonator.

Afterwards, Ford got up to speak and said Continue reading

Oh Brother! Could They Pitch – The Dean, Perry, Martinez & Niekro Brothers

Winning Brothers, Dizzy & Daffy Dean

Dizzy & Daffy Dean 1935

Hold Chat On Bleachers

Dizzy and Daffy, those two Dean boys. Paul on the left looks a little skeptical as Dizzy shows his brother the way a ball is held for a “hook”. Just before the Giants and Cardinals got going  March 15 at Flamingo Park, Miami Beach, Florida, these two boys held a chat on the bleachers. The Giants defeated the Cardinals 2-0. — 3/17/1935 Associated Press Photo

In the history of Major League Baseball there have been many brothers who have each taken the mound to be pitchers. For both of them to be successful however, is another story. Continue reading

Brooklyn Dodgers And Fans Avoid A Foul Ball In Spring Training 1953

Look Out! – No Screens, Fences or Protection For Brooklyn Dodgers Players or Fans At Spring Training

Clearwater, FL, March 26, 1953 – Brooklyn Dugout and Fans Dodge Fly Foul Ball – George Shuba, Ben Wade and Coach Jake Pitler cover up. photo: International News

Ah, the baseball spring training of yesteryear.

Note the deluxe dugout and lavish seats for the players.

Behind coach Pitler, as the fans scatter, Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella tracks the foul ball which is headed into the stands. It appears that there are only a couple of hundred people in attendance for this spring training game. The fans sit in bleacher type seating with no backs

Today many spring training games attract thousands of fans in souped-up ballparks offering fancy amenities. Fans are also now “protected” from foul balls with an obstruction called a “safety net.”

To show you how much the game has changed, Dodgers starting pitcher Preacher Roe Continue reading

Yankees Rookie Bill “Moose” Skowron Can Hold A Lot Of Bats

Bill Dickey With Rookie Moose Skowron In Spring Training – 1953

Lake Wales, FL Feb. 21 – BIG GUNS – New York Yankees coach Bill Dickey (left) looks over the big bats carried by Bill Skowron, rookie outfielder at the Yankees baseball school here today. Skowron, from Austin, Minn., hit .341 for Kansas City last season and won the American Association’s most valuable player title while blasting 31 home runs. (AP Wirephoto 1953)

Evidentlly Bill “Moose” Skowron could swing seven bats at once. You would think with the kind of season that Bill Skowron put up in the minors in 1952 he would at least get on the roster with the big team in 1953.

Nothing doing. The 22-year-old Skowron spent the entire 1953 season in the minor leagues with Kansas City. Continue reading

Baseball Approves Of Legalized Gambling In 2019 – Isn’t It Time To Re-Examine Joe Jackson?

MLB Approves Gambling On Baseball, Maybe Its Time To Reconsider “Shoeless” Joe Jackson’s Lifetime Ban

Joe Jackson 1915

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson before game vs. Yankees at Comiskey Park August 23, 1915

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson, believed by many to have been the greatest natural hitter of all-time, was banned from baseball for life after the 1920 season by Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis.

Jackson had a .356 batting average in his abbreviated 13 year career. Controversially, Jackson remains on baseball’s permanent ineligible list, meaning he can never be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. His alleged crime, as many people know, was participating in the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal.  Eight members of the Chicago White Sox including  Jackson were influenced by gamblers with promised payoffs to throw the World Series.

As the old car commercial goes “Baseball, Hot Dogs Apple Pie and Chevrolet, they go together in the good ole’ USA.” Where does gambling fit in? Apparently right beside baseball. Continue reading

The Woman in the First Row Behind Home Plate At Milwaukee Brewers Games? It’s “Front Row Amy”

“Front Row Amy” Gets National Attention Sitting Behind Home Plate During The Milwaukee Brewers Playoff Run

She is there for every pitch – “Front Row Amy”

The Milwaukee Brewers are battling the Los Angeles Dodgers in the playoffs and the games are being nationally televised. This has led to a discovery for most (male) fans outside of Milwaukee.

Front Row Amy

You’d have to be completely oblivious not to notice there is a woman sitting in the first row behind home plate at the Brewers home games always wearing a low cut blouse.

You may think she is there to distract the opposing team’s pitcher. She is not. She has been going to Brewers games for over 10 years and her name is Amy Williams, aka “Front Row Amy.”

Amy is a die-hard fan. As a season ticket holder she attends around 50 games per year. In 2011 she moved to her signature front row seat and started getting “noticed.”

As she told OnMilwaukee.com in 2011, “What first got people’s attention was probably, well, you know, “the girls.” But, I think what keeps their attention is that fact that I am so passionate about the Brewers. Brewers fans appreciate the fact that I drive an hour and a half to games by myself, that I keep score, and that I really get into the game! The Brewers are my life during baseball season, and I guess that shows when I’m at games. I love them so much it hurts! And baseball is the greatest game on Earth!” How famous is Amy? Well she has a bobble-head available for purchase. I don’t know many fans who have received that honor. She also has imitators at Miller Park, such as this person, “Front Row Andy.” Getting to the ballpark Continue reading

George Steinbrenner May Be Dead, But His Yankee “Hair Policy” Remains In Effect

George Steinbrenner’s “No Long Hair Or Beard Rule” Is Still Followed

Thurman Munson’s 1976 Topps baseball card shows something you won’t see on any Yankee today, a defiant beard.

At Yankee Stadium’s home opening game on April 11, 1973, the new owner and managing general partner, George M. Steinbrenner III was on hand to see his team. As he watched his players line up along the foul lines and remove their caps for the national anthem,  Steinbrenner pulled out an envelope from his suit pocket. He began writing down a series of numbers on the back of the envelope.

After the game the envelope was given to manager Ralph Houk.

“What is this?” Houk wanted to know.

Sparky Lyle 1974 Topps Baseball card showing his “long” hair

Players who need a haircut was the reply.

Still not knowing any of his players names, Steinbrenner had listed the players numbers who had hair that was not to his liking.

Among the stars on the list were Bobby Murcer,  Fritz Peterson, Thurman Munson, Sparky Lyle and Roy White.

Houk posted the list in the locker room and reluctantly informed his hippie players to go to a barber.

Steinbrenner had been perturbed about the long hair since first seeing the Yankees in spring training. Now it was time to do something about it.

This incident marked the beginning of George Steinbrenner’s 37 year odyssey of interference and unpredictability as owner of the Yankees.

To Steinbrenner, short hair and being clean shaven represented order and discipline. No one mentioned to Steinbrenner that baseball was not the military.

Mike Burke, part owner and president of the Yankees, had very long hair himself. Burke was not very concerned about Steinbrenner’s meddling and downplayed the hair cutting incident.

NEW YORK – JANUARY 3, 1973 Yankees President Michael Burke & George Steinbrenner at press conference at Yankee Stadium where the announcement is made that an ownership group led by Steinbrenner are the new owners of the Yankees. (Photo by: Olen Collection/Diamond Images/Getty Images)

Burke, who had been Yankee president since 1966, was instrumental in putting the deal together for Steinbrener and his 13 limited partners, to buy the Yankees from CBS. Burke was led to believe he would be considered a co-partner on an equal level with Steinbrenner.

When Steinbrenner spoke to the press on January 3, 1973 , he said he would be an absentee owner and Burke would run the team. “We’re not going to pretend we’re something we aren’t. I’ll stick to building ships.”

Burke should have more concerned about Steinbrenner’s controlling behavior and desire to be solely in charge.  Soon after the haircut incident, Steinbrenner started firing off memos left and right asserting his control of the team. Less than 3 weeks after opening day, Burke resigned. The truth was Burke had been forced out as president of the Yankees and later gave up his ownership stake.

Yankee Third baseman Graig Nettles asked with a straight face, “Was his hair too long?” Continue reading

Gary Sanchez Needs A Major Attitude Adjustment – A Trip To The Minor Leagues Might Do The Trick

It’s Time For Gary Sanchez To Be Sent To The Minors

The catcher is supposed to be the anchor of your team.

Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez has not been an anchor this year, but a weight.

Sanchez made the final out in a 7-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday July 23, 2018. * That out should serve as a clear sign that it is time to send Gary Sanchez to the minors – not for rehab, but for a major attitude adjustment.  *(see note at the end of the article) Continue reading

There’s Something The Cleveland Indians Haven’t Done in 51 Years

A Cleveland Indians Pitcher Has Not Stolen A Base Since 1967

In 1967 Cleveland Indians pitcher John O’Donoghue accomplished something that was not that uncommon at the time. On July 5, in the bottom of the fifth against the Detroit Tigers, O’Donoghue reached base on a force out. He then stole second base.

His steal was so uneventful it was not mentioned in most newspaper accounts of the game.

That unremarkable steal wound up being quite an achievement. It is the last time a Cleveland Indians pitcher stole a base. That’s right, 51 years ago, 1967. That it is the longest stretch any team in major league baseball has gone without one of their pitchers stealing a base.

There are three teams that came into the league through expansion where no pitcher has ever stolen a base. Two AL teams, the Seattle Mariners (1977) and the Tampa Bay Rays (1998) and one NL team the Miami Marlins (1993). Every other team has had a pitcher steal a base in the subsequent years.

Of course stolen bases have been steadily declining over the years for all of baseball.

But the idea has been propagated that pitchers are one-dimensional entities today. They’re specialists. They’re starters. They’re relievers. They may only be brought in to pitch to one batter. They’re not hitters. And they’re definitely not base runners. Continue reading