Wednesday, February 25, 2015

This Week's Sports Illustrated Cover...Giancarlo Stanton

Miami Marlins slugging outfielder Giancarlo Stanton graces the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated.

Stanton is SI's first painted athlete on the magazine's cover.

The magazine has been known to paint over athletes and models in past pages, including this year...

Stanton is coming off a season ending beaning in September, and the Miami Marlins hope he takes off right were he left off, smashing home runs and making the Marlins fun to watch.

I can't wait until April 4th, when Stanton and the Marlins come to Bragan Field  to play the hometown Jacksonville Suns in the last exhibition game before the 2015 big league season.

My wife and I were fortunate enough to see Stanton smack two home runs for the Suns in 2010, and we have watched many Suns players like Christian Yelich come through our city on their way to the show.

Well, time to go find this week's SI.

Play Ball!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day 2015

Happy Valentine's Day to all the great baseball fans out there, especially to those who take time to read this blog. 

51 big league ballplayers were born on February 14th, starting with Al Nichols in 1852, through current Oakland Athletics catcher Derek Norris in 1989.

Today is a day filled with love.

May you all spend quality time with your special Valentine, make sure to tell that someone special you love them.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday the 13th

Today is Friday, February the 13th, 2015.

I was thinking about baseball and the number 13, and why any player would ever want to wear the "unlucky" number on their baseball uniform.

Then I thought, hey, my Detroit Tigers current starting catcher Alex Avila wears #13... did another Tigers backstop, former Gold Glove catcher Lance Parrish...

...a classic baseball poster!

Bill Shores of the 1931 Philadelphia Athletics was the first big league ballplayer to wear #13, and there has been a total of 293 big league ballplayers to wear the number 13.

The number 13 and baseball.

Ralph Branca is probably the most famous #13 big leaguer.

Branca, pitching for the Brooklyn Dodgers in relief, served up a fastball in Game 3 of the 1951 National League playoff to Bobby Thompson of the New York Giants in the bottom if the ninth inning, a ball that landed in the left field seats at the old Polo Grounds in New York, sending the Giants to the World Series,  and Branca into #13 infamy.

Roberto Clemente briefly wore #13, for the 1955 Pittsburgh Pirates, as did Zack Greinke, Bobby Tolan, Ray Fosse, Mort Cooper,  Joe Ferguson, Harold Baines,  Dick Pole, Ozzie Guillen, Steve Kemp, and Bobby Wine.

Omar Vizquel  is the all-time leader in wearing #13.

Omar donned a big league uniform with the number 13 on the back for a big league record 21 years, from 1989-2001.

Runner-up players include...

19 years...Dave Concepcion (1970-88)

 18 years...Lance Parrish (1977-95)

16 years...Ozzie Guillen (1985-2000)

Some players wore #13 as champions, like Concepcion, the shortstop on the 1975-76 Big Red Machine of Cincinnati, Lance Parrish of the '84 Tigers, 1981 Dodgers catcher Joe Ferguson,  and Mort Cooper of the 1942 and 1944 Cardinals.

Myself,  I'm not afraid of the number 13, and I'm not overly superstitious when it comes to breaking glass, or walking under laders, and I even own two black cats.

One of my black cats is named Mr. Paws, after the Detroit Tigers mascot.

My Mr. PAWS...

Have a great Friday the 13th.

Play Ball!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Happy Baseball Birthday... John Paciorek

Today we celebrate the 70th  Happy Baseball Birthday  of former Houston Colt .45  outfielder John Paciorek.

John Francis Paciorek was born on February 11, 1945, in Detroit,  Michigan.

John played baseball at St. Ladislaus High School in Hamtramck,  Michigan, and signed an amateur free agent contract at age 18 with the Houston Colt .45s.

After a summer in the Houston farm system, John made his big league debut on September 29, 1963, the final day of the season.

That one game John went 3/3, with 3 singles,  3 RBI, 2 walks, and scored 4 runs, in 5 plate appearances.

A perfect line score... 3/3... a  1.000 batting average.

In right field John caught two fly balls in his only two fielding chances.

John fought injuries after that one day in the big leagues, and finished playing baseball in the minors until he retired in 1969.

Jim Paciorek, the only player in big league history with a perfect batting average, slugging, and fielding percentage.

John Paciorek...the Perfect ballplayer. 

I must admit that I knew of John Paciorek mainly because if his brother, Tom Paciorek, who I remembered playing for the Mariners and White Sox.

John's brother Jim Paciorek also played big league baseball.

I also heard John Paciorek on TV this morning on Hot Stove, on the MLB NETWORK, and that led me to write today's HBB post.

I also saw that there's a book, Perfect, by Steven K. Wagner, and its definitely on my must read baseball book list.

John went to the University of Houston, and has a terrific blog on coaching and teaching at

John teaches physical education at a private school in California,  and is the author of two books,  "Plato & Socrates,"

 and "Principles of Baseball."

Happy Baseball Birthday John Paciorek!

Play Ball!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Happy Baseball Birthday. ..Don Hoak

Today's Happy Baseball Birthday is former big league third baseman Don Hoak.

Don Albert Hoak was born on February 5, 1938, in Roullette, Pennsylvania.

Don played baseball at Roullette High School and signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers as a amateur free agent in 1938, and served in the Marines during World War II.

Don made his big league debut for the Dodgers on April 18, 1954, at the age of 26.

Don played third base for 11 big league seasons,  smacking 1,144 base hits, 214 doubles,  44 triples,  89 home runs, 498 RBI, scoring 598 runs in 1,263 games, batting .265, in 4,322 at bats.

Don was a terrific 3rd sacker,  who led the Senior Circuit in fielding percentage in 1957 (.971), with the Reds, and in 1962 (.969), with the Pirates.

Don was a National League All-Star in 1957 as a member of the Cincinnati Reds,  and was a member of two World Series Championship teams, the 1955 Dodgers, and the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates.



3rd Base?

Billy Crystal made me remember Don in City Slickers...

Don Hoak played his final big league game with the Philadelphia Phillies on May 12, 1964, at the age of 36.

Don Hoak passed away due to a hear attack on October 9, 1969, at the age of 41.

Happy Baseball Birthdayon Don Hoak!


This Week's Sports Illustrated Cover...2015 Swimsuit Issue

We like to celebrate when baseball graces the cover of Sports Illustrated.

With Spring Training baseball right around the corner, the annual SI Swimsuit Edition will be out on Monday, just in time for pitchers and catchers to report to the sunshine of Florida and Arizona.

In case you were wondering how former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was doing in retirement,  you have to look no farther than the SI Swimsuit Cover, graced by Derek's girlfriend, Hannah Davis. 

Congratulations Hannah!


Friday, January 30, 2015

Happy Baseball Dwier Brown

Today we send Happy Baseball Birthday wishes to Field of Dreams star  Dwier Brown.

Dwier Brown was born on January 30, 1959, in Ohio, and attended Ashland University.

Dwier has appeared in 58 movies and TV shows, from the  1982 movie "The Member of the Wedding, " 1983's "Thorn Birds," TV shows such as "ER," "Murder She Wrote," and "Criminal Minds."

It's the 1989 movie "Field of Dreams" that we all know and remember Dwier from.

Dwier plays John Kinsella, father of Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner, and the ending of the movie still brings me to cry every time I see the movie.

"...hey, Dad...wanna have a catch?"

Field Of Dreams is in my top 5 baseball movies, and I watch it every time I come across it on TV.

Dwier has written a book, "If You build It,"  available at

The book is definitely on my 2015 baseball book reafing list.

If you're on social media, I follow on Twitter,  @DwierBrown and on Facebook...
Dwier Brown on Facebook

Be sure to go to Dwier's Facebook page and wish him a great big #HappyBaseballBirthday

Happy Baseball Birthday Dwier!

Play Ball!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

This Week's Sports Illustrated Regional Cover...Ernie Banks

Sports Illustrated honors the late Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, on one of their regional covers this week.

                                    Sports Illustrated 2/5/2015

Banks, the legendary Hall of Fame Chicago Cubs shortstop, passed away from a heart attack last Friday at the age of 83.

The regional Banks cover is available to all subscribers and newsstands throughout the Midwest.

As a baseball fan, I need to get this SI, in fact, I'm gonna buy two!

Play Ball!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Happy Baseball Birthday...The State of Michigan

Today we celebrate Happy Baseball Birthday #178 to the great State of Michigan.

Michigan gained Statehood on January 26, 1837, the 26th State in the Union.

I was born in Kalamazoo,  and lived in East Lansing, Kalamazoo, Muskegon, and Portage, graduating from Portage Northern High School. 

In both Muskegon,  and in Portage,  my brothers and I played a lot of baseball, both on the local sandlots, and in Little League Baseball.

My brother Robert and I even got to play together on the same Little League team, Robert at 2nd Base,  Me at 1st Base.

Michigan has a tremendous baseball history.

Kalamazoo baseball dates back to at least 1858, when the city's first "official" Village team was organized by early town residents,  including Oscar Coleman, playing many games in Bronson Park.

Bronson Park is the place where my Grandmother Sharp and Uncle Bob took us boys to play on the weekends and during the summertime in Kalamazoo.

The simple thought that as a young boy I played around in the  grass and water fountains of the same park young boys played base ball over 100 years previous,  is what makes baseball special.

Base Ball  was being played by kids in Michigan since at least the 1830s, and the State's first professional ball club, The Franklin Club,  formed in 1857.

The Detroit Base Ball Club  was formed in the Motor City on May 25, 1859.

Professional big league baseball in Michigan produced many great ball clubs, including the 1887 World Champion Detroit Wolverines,  the famed House of David, the American League Detroit Tigers, and the Negro Leagues Detroit Stars.

Tiger Stadium was always the place all us kids wanted to go to, to  go watch our heroes, Al Kaline, Willie Horton, Mickey Lolich, and Bill Freehan,  play baseball.

It was the same field that saw Ty Cobb, "Wahoo" Sam Crawford, Charlie Gehringer,  Hank Greenberg,  Schoolboy Rowe, and Dizzy Trout wear the Olde English D. 

 Jim Abbott, Kiki Cuyler, Bobby Grinch, Jim Kaat, Milt Pappas, J.J. Putz, Ted Simmons, and John Smoltz are all big league ballplayers born in the State of Michigan

Big League Ballplayers born in Michigan

The University of Michigan Wolverines  started a baseball team in 1866, Michigan State University Spartans in 1884, and my hometown Western Michigan University Broncos in 1911.

The very first College World Series was played in my hometown of Kalamazoo, at Hyames Field, Western's Home Ballpark.

The Yale University 1st Baseman that day was a young man named George Herbert Walker Bush.

1947 and 1948 College World Series

There's so much more baseball history I could write about, and the future I need to do that.

Many thanks for help in my research for this #HappyBaseballBirthday blog post go out to  Michigan's Past on Tumblr, and (@MichiganHist) on Twitter.

They sent me these links....

Hey Batter Batter

Baseball Fever: Early Baseball in Michigan

Thanks so much to that site for their help.

Follow them on their Social Media sites, it's worth getting tjosr great tweets every day.

#HappyBaseballBirthday to my home, my place of birth, the Great State of Michigan!


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Happy Baseball...Ernie Harwell

Just realized today is #HappyBaseballBirthday of former big league announcer Ernie Harwell.

William Earnest "Ernie" Harwell was born on January 25, 1918, in Washington, Georgia.

Ernie Harwell called big league baseball games for 55 years, 42 of those calling games of my beloved Detroit Tigers.

Ernie passed away almost 5 years ago now, on May 4, 2010, at the age of 92.

It's late, almost midnight here in Jacksonville, and I wanted to make sure I got Ernie's #HappyBaseballBirthday posted.

"...there's a pop foul out of play down the 3rd Base line...and a fine catch by a young fan from Kalamazoo. "

Happy Birthday Ernie!

Play Ball!