Tag Archives: Philadelphia Phillies

How Don Hoak Scared The Hell Out Of Me When I Was A Kid

Don Hoak Becomes The Bogeyman

Don Hoak was a professional baseball player for 11 seasons. From 1954-1964 Hoak played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies. By all accounts he was a nice man and a decent player who had a career .265 batting average.

In real life Don Hoak probably never intentionally scared a child. Little did he know one day this baseball card would affect one superstitious, naive, ignorant kid.

One day when I was about 7-years-old I acquired some old baseball cards from the 1960s from my grandfather. I showed them to an older boy and when he came to Don Hoak  he said, “you know, he’s dead,” as he handed the card back to me.

Well I stared at the card and I got the willies. An actual shudder ran down my spine.

“Dead? What do you mean, dead?” I said.

My simpleton mind knew what dead meant, but I did not have much real life experience with death.

All I knew was that I was holding a dead man in my hand. How could he be dead? This card is only a few years old and he couldn’t have been an old man?

“How’d he die?” I needed to know.

“I don’t know but he died a few years ago (1969)” my companion said. Then he added, “He may have been murdered.”

Wellllll  now I was transfixed for about a full minute. This simple 1964 Topps baseball card of a smiling ballplayer took on new meaning. 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

Alvin Dark Slides Home Safely At The Polo Grounds – 1950

Al Dark – Giant Star And Religious Man

Andy Seminick Al Dark May 27 1950

Dark Deed

New York: Alvin Dark of the Giants plows home safely from third in the eighth inning of the game with the Phillies at the Polo Grounds May 27. Action came in Don Mueller’s grounder to Eddie Waitkus at first. Eddie ran in for the ball and threw to catcher Andy Seminick in an attempt to nail Dark, but the throw was late. Umpire is Al Barlick. Phillies won, 8-5. credit: (Acme) 5-27-50

(UPDATE 11/13/2014 – Alvin Dark dies of natural causes at age 92)

Al Dark is 92 and living in Easley, South Carolina. He is at peace with his life and can look back on a very successful fourteen year playing career in which Dark compiled a .289 career batting average, had over 2,000 hits and was a three time all-star.

Alvin Dark in 2012 ERIK S. LESSER FOR SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

Alvin Dark at home in Easley, SC in a 2012 photo: Erik S. Lesser for the San Francisco Chronicle

Dark said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle on the eve of his 90th birthday, “I never drank, never smoked, never chewed, never anything like that. It was all against my sports upbringing. I feel very fortunate. And very happy. God blessed me.”

After his playing career ended in 1960 at the age of 38, Dark managed four teams over the course of 13 seasons winning the pennant in 1962 with the Giants and the World Series with the Oakland Athletics in 1974. Athletics owner Charlie Finley dumped Dark after the 1975 season when the team went 98-64, but the Athletics were swept in three games by the Red Sox in the divisional playoffs. Finley had previously fired Dark in 1967 with the Kansas City Athletics.

According to sportswriter Harold Parrott, Finley fired or technically “did not rehire” Dark, not for losing the playoffs in 1975 but for something Dark said at a prayer meeting!

Dark recounted what he said in the prayer meeting in his autobiography When in Doubt, Fire the Manager: My Life and Times in Baseball, “You know — and I’m saying this with respect — Charlie Finley feels he is a fantastic big person in the game of baseball. And he is. He has accomplished things, and I give him credit for building up the ball club. But to God, Charlie Finley is just a very little bitty thing that’s lost, and if he doesn’t accept Jesus Christ as his personal savior he’s going to Hell.”

Shortly after he was fired Dark claimed he held no grudges against Finley and delivered a sermon at a church in Louisville saying, “I really care for Charlie Finley, my family and I pray for him; in fact we have Christians all over America praying for him.”

When later asked by a reporter, “Would you ever work for Charlie Finley again?”

Dark said, “If I thought that was what the Lord wanted, certainly.”

Great Baseball Nicknames – Willie “Puddin’ Head” Jones

Willie “Puddin Head” Jones Safe At The Plate 1949

Willie Puddin Head Jones Joe Garagiola 1949

Did anyone ever call “Puddin’ Head” Jones, Willie? Jones even signed his baseball card with his nickname.

1959 Topps Puddin' Head Jones baseball card

1959 Topps Puddin’ Head Jones baseball card

“Puddin’ Head” Jones, had a lifetime .258  batting average with 190 career home runs and 812 RBI’s. Known for his defensive prowess around the hot corner, “Puddin’ Head” played most of his fifteen seasons in the majors as the starting third baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1947-1959.

“Puddin’ Head” was traded by the Phillies to Cleveland for a short eleven game stint and was then sold to the Cincinnati Reds for the remainder of the 1959 season. He remained there until he was released in 1961 at the age of 35.

“Puddin’ Head’s” best offensive output was during the Phillies 1950 pennant winning season in which he batted .267 with 25 home runs and 88 RBI’s with 100 runs scored.

So just how did “Puddin’ Head” get his unique nickname? He received it as a child after a song that was popular in the 1930’s called Wooden Head, Puddin’ Head Jones.

In the action photograph shown above, “Puddin’ Head” Jones is safe at home plate as Cardinals catcher Joe Garagiola awaits the throw.

Here is the original caption:

July 16, 1949 – Philadelphia Phillies – St. Louis baseball. Willie Jones of Phils safe at home in third inning. Del Ennis hit to third baseman Kazak  of Cards who threw him out at first. First sackman Nelson of the Cards then threw home to Garagiola (catcher) but it was too late. Jones was safe (credit  ACME Telephoto)

“Puddin’ Head” Jones died from cancer of the lymph glands at the age of 58 in Cincinnati, OH on October 18, 1983.

The Best Baseball Card Error – Ever!

Something Even Babe Ruth Couldn’t Do

I stopped collecting baseball cards in 1981 after it became speculative and was more about card values rather than flipping, trading and completing sets.

This was one of my favorite baseball cards simply because of the obviousness of the mistake and the fact that it was never corrected.

The Dave Bennett – Rick Wise rookie card from the 1964 Topps set is nothing extraordinary on the front. But on the back of Dave Bennett’s very short biography is this astounding piece of information:

“Dave is the younger brother of the Phils’ ace, Dennis Bennett. The 19-year-old righthanded curveballer is just 18 years old!”

Now that is some feat!

Vintage Photos – Stealing Home

or Jackie Robinson Makes Stealing Home Look Easy

One of the most famous film highlights of a baseball game is from September 28, Game 1 of the 1955 World Series where the Brooklyn Dodgers star Jackie Robinson stole home against the New York Yankees. The photograph above captures the bang-bang action. The play was incredibly close and you could look at the film 100 times and still not be sure of the outcome. Robinson was called safe by umpire Bill Summers. To this day, Yankees catcher Yogi Berra vehemently Continue reading

Baseball Theme Songs

When Baseball Teams Had Their Own Unique Songs

Dodge Dart radioWhen my Dad and I would drive places at night in the 1970’s, my father would put on the Baltimore radio station, WBAL-AM to hear the Orioles games. At night the radio signals were stronger and you could pick up most of the bigger radio station’s broadcasts within a 400 mile range, so he would listen. I vividly remember the upbeat song that used to be played to start the O’s broadcast. I searched the internet and have had no luck finding “Orioles Baseball” which is what I believe the title was. But I have collected a number of baseball theme songs and thought I would share them.

For every baseball fan who can remember…

(click on link to hear the mp3 of the song)

Yankees Theme Song

In the 1970’s when I was listening to the radio, before the start of every ball game, the New York Yankees would have their theme played. The Yankees announcers, Phil Rizutto, Frank Messer and Bill White would eventually talk over the song and it would fade out. At the end of the game they would play the theme again. The Yankees still play a truncated version of the song at the beginning and conclusion of games on the radio, but they rarely play this version with the lyrics.

Mets Theme Song

Musically well constructed and simply the best song ever written for a team with its catchy lyrics. The “Meet The Mets” song still holds up nearly 50 years after the Mets introduction to New York. This version is the original version. (ed note: strangely enough I wrote this article on June 30 and originally scheduled it to be posted on July 5. I moved it up to July 3 after seeing that the writer of the Mets theme song Ruth Roberts passed away Friday, July 1 at age 84.)

Cubs Theme Song

If you grew up in Chicago you may remember “Hey, Hey Holy Mackarel” which was the Chicago Cubs song.

White Sox Theme Song

Now, if you were a Chicago White Sox fan, the song dear to your heart would be “Let’s Go, Go, Go White Sox.”

Tigers Theme Song

In the late 1960’s this is what the Detroit Tigers were playing – “Go Get ‘Um Tigers.” Continue reading