Category Archives: Baseball

Pitchers Hitting In The Postseason

It Still Happens – Pitchers Hitting In The Postseason (And Making A Difference)

sandy-koufax-singles-world-series-october-12-1965This photograph of pitcher Sandy Koufax shows a rarity.

In 20 times at bat, Dodger great, Sandy Koufax got only one hit in postseason play.

Koufax is leaving the batters box after stroking a single in game six of the 1965 World Series driving in Ron Fairly. Koufax’s single gave the Dodgers a 6-0 lead in the bottom of the seventh in an eventual 7-0 shutout over the Minnesota Twins. It wasn’t Koufax’s hitting that won the game, it was the complete game, four hitter with 10 strikeouts that he hurled. Still to everyone watching, sans Twin fans, Koufax’s hit was a pleasant surprise.

The Dodgers went on to win the seventh game and Koufax was named the series MVP.

Koufax was one of the worst hitters ever, compiling a miniscule .097 career batting average over 12 seasons. But no one ever came to see Koufax hit, they came to see him pitch. As bad as a hitter as Koufax was there was always the slim chance that he might get a base hit. And when he did guess what? It was exciting.

The use of the designated hitter in the American League and the DH’s use in World Series games only in American League ballparks has effectively eliminated the thrill out of watching the pitcher impacting the game with his bat.

So in this day and age when it is considered a shock when a pitcher comes to the plate and gets a hit, it is refreshing to see pitchers in the 2016 postseason hitting and making a difference in many games.

Travis Wood homers photo: Dennis Wierzbicki USA Today

Travis Wood homers photo: Dennis Wierzbicki USA Today

Giants starter Madison Bumgarner was actually used as a pinch-hitter in game two of the NLDS playoff game against the Cubs.  In that same game, Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks singled in two runs and reliever Travis Wood blasted a home run against the Giants pitcher George Kontos.

Then in the next game of the series Cubs starter Jake Arrieta hit a three run homer against the Giants. In the fourth inning of game 4 Giants pitcher Matt Moore singled home the go ahead run in a losing effort.

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw helped his own cause in game four against the Washington Nationals by doubling and scoring the go-ahead run in what ended up being a 6-5 L.A. victory.

If you polled baseball fans most would say they want more offense and never have pitchers bat. Continue reading

World Series Action 1950

October 6, 1950 World Series, Game Three – Yankees Hold off The Phillies in the Top of the Ninth

yogi-berra-granny-hamner-sequence-1-2-world-series-oct-6-1950yogi-berra-granny-hamner-sequence-3-4-world-series-oct-6-1950Remember when the World Series used to be played and concluded by early October? Of course you don’t unless you are over the age of 50.

The endless rounds of playoffs, a 162 game season and the elimination of scheduled doubleheaders during the regular season have lengthened baseball’s post-season to an interminable length. Baseball’s fall classic is moving closer to becoming a winter classic. If there is a game seven this year, the World Series will conclude November 2.

Maybe that’s okay if the game is played in Los Angeles, but if it ends up in Cleveland, Chicago or Boston you can rest assured the players will not be playing under the best possible conditions and the attendees will not be warm.

Let’s look back to a simpler time. The year was 1950. The date – October 6 and game three of the World Series was played at Yankee Stadium. The Philadelphia Phillies lost the first two games of the series to the New York Yankees by scores of 1-0 and 2-1. The sequence of photos from above capture exciting action that would probably be against the rules today Continue reading

The 40th Anniversary Of The Best Baseball Movie Ever Made

The Bad News Bears – The Best Baseball Movie Ever Made

bad-news-bears-1976-lobby-card-1The approaching end of the regular baseball season got me thinking, what is the best baseball movie ever made? The clear winner for me would be the The Bad News Bears, hands down.

Some might disagree and say Field of Dreams, The Natural, A League of Their Own or Pride of The Yankees are better films. While those are all excellent movies, the 1976 Bad News Bears has an honesty and appeal that has endured for over 40 years. It’s also not just about baseball, it is about real life and overcoming challenges and disappointments. By the way, you can forget the lame remake in 2006 that failed at every level.

Yes, it’s been 40 years since the release of The Bad News Bears. That just blows my mind. I was a kid in 1976 and could very strongly relate to the action on the screen with things happening in my little league and off the field experiences.

Viewing the film now, I believe this exact version, line for line and scene for scene, could not and would not be made today. The world has become too politically correct and “sensitive.” The kids use the “n” word liberally. Pre-teens drink alcohol. 12 kids ride with beer drinking Walter Matthau (while he’s behind the wheel) in an overloaded convertible, all of them not wearing seat belts. The fact that the film mirrored the way kids behaved and talked like in real life would probably upset too many people nowadays. Continue reading

Roger Maris Hits His 59th Home Run September 20, 1961

55 Years Ago Today Roger Maris Hit His 59th Home Run Putting Him One Behind Babe Ruth

roger-maris-hits-home-run-number-59-september-20-1961In the pre-steroid era of baseball, Roger Maris had one magical season. Shown above, Maris connects for his 59th home run of the season on September 20, 1961.

Maris would hit 61 home runs during the 1961 season, breaking Babe Ruth’s record of 60.

Yet Maris’s accomplishment wasn’t considered an “official” record. That is because Ford Frick, the former sportswriter and then Commissioner of baseball, ruled that Maris had to beat Babe Ruth in the same number of games that the Babe was eligible to play in 1927, which was 154.

If Maris did not hit 60 by his 154th game the record would be denoted with an asterisk, indicating that Maris had more opportunities (163)  than Ruth did.

The news caption for this photo reads:

Baltimore, Sept 20 – Homer No. 59 For Maris – Roger Maris of the New York Yankees swings into the ball in the third inning tonight as he connects for his 59th home run of the season. The blow came against Baltimore Orioles pitcher Milt Pappas. If Maris can add one more during the game he will equal Babe Ruth’s  official 1927 record of 60 in 154 games. He has hit two homers in one game seven times this season. The ball is just a streak as it flies off the bat, right. (AP wirephoto)

It wasn’t until September 26 Continue reading

Boston’s New Fenway Park Packs In 45,400 Fans -1934

How They Squeezed 45,400 Fans Into Boston’s Fenway Park

Fenway Park April 22 1934There’s only one way to get 45,000 people into Boston’s Fenway Park and that is to let the fans sit everywhere, including the outfield.

Yes that’s right, square on the field of play.

Boston’s owner Tom Yawkey never spared expenses when it came to his beloved Red Sox. After the 1933 season during the height of the Great Depression, Yawkey decided to update Fenway Park.

The biggest changes would be the new outfield stands in center and right field. And of course the new 37 foot tall left field wall which would eventually become known as the Green Monster.

During the renovation on January 5, 1934, a large fire destroyed the bleachers and the outfield walls which had wood, oil and debris stored under them.

After the clean-up,  work was quickly resumed and the new outfield stands were made fireproof, being encased in reinforced concrete. The new electronic scoreboard indicating balls, strikes and outs was an innovation. The feature known as Duffy’s Cliff, a hill in left field, was removed, leaving only a small incline.

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Ted Williams At The All-Star Game

Ted Williams In Action At The 1946 & 1947 All-Star Games

Ted Williams hitting a home run off of Rip Sewell's blooper pitch in the 1946 All-Star game

Ted Williams hitting a home run off of Rip Sewell’s blooper pitch in the 1946 All-Star game

One of the most famous moments in the history of baseball’s All Star game occurred when Ted Williams connected for a long home run on a Rip Sewell eephus or blooper pitch in the July 9, 1946 game held at Boston’s Fenway Park. The eighth inning homer came with the American League holding an 8-0 lead. The home run definitely put a charge into the bored crowd. The game ended up being a 12-0 American League blowout over the National League.

Rip Sewell said it was the only time anyone ever hit a home run off of his high arc, super slow blooper pitch. What many people do not know is that Williams fouled off the first eephus pitch Sewell threw. Williams challenged Sewell to throw the pitch again, which he did. Below is Sewell describing the homer and film footage of the famous clout.

In 1947 Ted Williams started again in left field for the American League All-Star team and went two for four in an A.L. 2-1 victory. Continue reading

Pee Wee Reese and Red Schoendienst – Action At 2nd Base – 1949

A Play So Close You Need Two Umpires To Make The Call

Pee Wee Reese and Red Schoendienst 7 23 1949Reese Safe at Second on Long Double
New York: Pee Wee Reese of the Brooklyn Dodgers slides safely into second in third inning of game with the St. Louis Cardinals at Ebbets Field July 23. Al Schoendienst dives in vain for the putout, but is too late. The two umpires calling the play are Art Gore (left) and Scotty Robb. Cardinals won 5-4. Credit: Acme 7/23/49

The fact that there are two umpires about to call this play is not so unusual. What makes it strange is that Continue reading

Photographs of Presidents At Opening Day in Washington D.C.

Presidents of the United States Attend Baseball’s Opening Day

President William Howard Taft throws out the ceremonial first pitch at opening day

President William Howard Taft throws out the ceremonial first pitch at opening day  -1911.

President McKinley was invited to the Baltimore Orioles National League opening day in 1897, and though he assured the team he would try to make it to the game, he ended up not going. Had McKinley attended he might have been the first president to attend baseball’s opening day and throw out a ceremonial first pitch.

In 1910 President William Howard Taft threw a ceremonial first pitch to begin the baseball season. Taft, threw the baseball from the grandstand to pitcher Walter Johnson, but catcher Gabby Street who Taft was supposed to throw it to, took the ball from Johnson and promptly put the ball in his pocket to keep as a souvenir. Later, Street returned the baseball to Johnson who went on to pitch a one-hit, 3-0  shutout against the visiting Philadelphia Athletics.

After the game Johnson sent the ball to the White House to have it autographed by Taft. President Taft returned the ball to Johnson with this inscription:  “To Walter Johnson, with the hope that he may continue to be as formidable as in yesterday’s game. William H. Taft.”

Since then it has become a tradition for the president to attend baseball’s opening day and toss a pitch.

President Wilson Opening Day 1916President Woodrow Wilson with his wife Edith at opening day – 1916.

It was relatively easy for the president to show up at opening day with the Washington Senators having their home games at Griffith Stadium from 1911 – 1961, only five miles from the White House.

In recent years many presidents have shirked the tradition and have attended only one or two opening games during their presidential tenure. While he was President, Jimmy Carter never attended an opening day, but did throw out a ceremonial first pitch at the 1979 World Series. In his eight years as commander-in-chief Barack Obama has only attended one opening day.

Here is a gallery of president’s at opening day.

President Harding first pitch 2 photo locPresident Warren G. Harding at opening day – 1922. Continue reading

Old Time Baseball Stars With Their Wives

Baseball Wives Of Yesterday

Feb 14, 1956 --- New York Giants star outfielder Willie Mays, 25, is shown with his bride of a few hours, Marguerite, (Wendelle), 27, at her home in Elmhurst, New York, after their wedding in Elkton, Maryland, early on February 14th. It is Willie's first and her third marriage. En route to Elkton, Mays was arrested for driving 70 miles an hour on the New Jersey turnpike and paid a $15 fine. photo - Associated Press

Feb 14, 1956 — New York Giants star outfielder Willie Mays, 25, is shown with his bride of a few hours, Marguerite, (Wendelle), 27, at her home in Elmhurst, New York, after their wedding in Elkton, Maryland, early on February 14th. It is Willie’s first and her third marriage. En route to Elkton, Mays was arrested for driving 70 miles an hour on the New Jersey turnpike and paid a $15 fine. photo – Associated Press

Baseball players traditionally have never had any trouble attracting women, see Jim Bouton’s book Ball Four for more details on the subject.

Today, the public has an unquenchable and somewhat bizarre fascination for baseball stars and their private lives which extends to what their spouses look like. Just search “baseball wives” to get an idea.

There was a reality TV program in 2011 called Baseball Wives that aired eight episodes on VH1 before being canceled. Comprised mostly of ex-wives of ballplayers, the show apparently did not intrigue enough viewers even if the women were “hot”. Tawny Kitean 1980 photo Neil Zlozower

Generally the wives of baseball players keep a low profile with some exceptions like video star Tawny Kitean who was once arrested for spousal abuse of her then husband, pitcher Chuck Finley.

In the old days baseball wives pretty much wanted to stay out of the limelight and usually did.

With that said you may never have seen these old time baseball stars together with their wives. So we present a short gallery.

Bill Dickey and wife Violet Arnold
Bill Dickey and Wife Oct 4 1932Yankee Catcher and Bride To Be
Bill Dickey, first string catcher on the world champion New York Yankees, and his bride-to-be, Violet Arnold of Jackson Heights, N.Y. They are shown as they attended the wedding of Sammy Byrd to Miss Rachel Smith of Birmingham, ALA., at St. Malachy’s Church, N.Y., October 4, when Dickey served as best man. They will be married in the next few days. – Associated Press Photo 10/4/32

Dizzy Dean and wife Patricia NashDizzy Dean and wife 1934Cardinals Invade Detroit
Jerome “Dizzy” Dean, the biggest half of baseball’s greatest brother team, and Mrs. Dean read telegrams wishing success, shortly after their arrival in Detroit, MI., Oct. 2nd, for the World Series with the Tigers. – Credit Line Acme 10/2/34

Eddie Matthews and wife Virjean LaubyEddie Mathews and wife Dec 4 1954 Continue reading

Carl Yastrzemski Heads Up The Red Sox Outfield – 1961

Spring Training 1961, Carl Yastrzemski Offers Hope To Red Sox Faithful

Carl Yastrzemski and Red Sox 1961 outfieldEarly indications in the Red Sox spring training camp in Scottsdale, Arizona are that this trio will be patrolling the outfield for the Red Sox in 1961. (l-r) Carl Yastrzemski, Gary Geiger and Jackie Jensen. (March 1961 – photo: Sporting News)

After 1960, the Boston Red Sox would be without their stalwart star Ted Williams who had retired at the end of the season. The reins to lead the team would be passed to Carl Yastrzsemski and he would not disappoint. Yastrzemski was born and raised in Long Island, NY and was signed by the Red Sox organization in 1958 and rapidly advanced through the minor league system.

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