Sunday, February 27, 2011

Duke Snider

September 19, 1926-February 27th, 2011.

Rest in Peace Duke Snider

Duke Snider, the legendary Brooklyn Dodger center fielder, has passed away, at the age of 84.

Snider hot 407 big league home runs, 389 as a Dodger, and still a franchise record.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Countdown to Opening Day, by the Numbers...Big #6

We continue our countdown toward opening day in big league baseball with a look back at the number 6.

Six...#6, the shortstop on your scorecard.

The number six is 6 innings, now a "quality start" in big league baseball.

Six is Yankee manager Joe Torre, outfielder Roy White, and the great Tony Lazzeri of the 1927 "Murder's Row."

#6 is Dodgers 1st baseman Steve Garvey, the cornerstone of the best infield in the 1970s...Garvey, Lopes, Russell, and Cey.

Six is "Big Six," the legendary Christy Mathewson of the old New York Giants, who died of tuberculosis at the young age of just 45.

Six is the best right fielder in baseball in the 1960's, Al Kaline, the Hall of Famer of the Detroit Tigers.

Six is the number of Cy Young Awards for "Rocket" Roger Clemens, the most All-Time for any big league hurler.

#6 is Johnny Callison of the Phillies, Melvin Mora of the Orioles, Johnny Pesky, and the "Pesky Pole" in Fenway Park.

#6 is the sweet swing of the great Stan "The Man" Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals, and the power of Phillies star 1st baseman Ryan Howard.

#6 is Tony Oliva of the Twins, and Wally Backman, 2nd baseman of the 1986 New York Mets.

Bobby Cox, who managed to get himself tossed out of  RECORD 158 big league games, wore #6 as Manager of the Atlanta Braves, guiding the team to 14 consecutive N.L. East Titles, 5 N.L. Pennants, and 1 World Series Title, in 1995.

Do you have a favorite #6?

What #6 did I miss?

Comment below on what #6 and baseball means to you.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Countdown to Opening Day, by the Numbers...#5

And now, it's time for baseball.

The Super Bowl ends the football season, and gives us pause, and awaiting the arrival of pitchers and catchers in Florida and Arizona.

Our countdown to Opening Day 2011 continues with a look at our National Pastime and the #5, the slider, and 3rd base on your scorecard.

Five is the number of consecutive World Series Titles for the 1949-53 Bronx Bombers.

#5 is Tigers OF Jim Northrup, and Dodgers 1st Baseman Mike Marshall.

#5 is the great Albert Pujols, the best 1st baseman, and the best hitter in baseball.

#5 is the slick fielding, power combination of Mr. Royal, George Brett, pine tar and all.

Five is the best 3rd baseman during my childhood, #5, Brooks Robinson, the "Human Vacuum."

5 is the number of consecutive Gold Gloves won by Tigers catcher Bill Freehan from 1965-69, the 1st big league catcher to accomplish the feat.

Number 5 is the grandeur of Joe DiMaggio, the Yankee Clipper, who was born to play Center Field at Yankee Stadium.

#5 is the best catcher who ever squatted behind Home Plate, a kid from Binger, Oklahoma named Johhny Bench.

#5 is the Tampa Bay Rays Rocco Baldelli, Hall of Fame Indians short stop Lou Boudreau, and the power of the Astros slugging 1st baseman Jeff Bagwell.

#5 is for the Florida Marlins Carl Barger, their 1st ever President, who passed away before the team ever played a game. The Marlins retired #5 on April 5th, 1993, the teams 1st game, in his memory.

#5 is the first player to ever win an MVP Award at two different positions, the Detroit Tigers Hank Greenberg won the awards at 1st base and left field.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Countdown to Opening Day, by the Numbers, #4


We arrive at the number four on our countdown to opening day, by looking back at the best and most memorable players, teams, terms, and happenings in baseball and the #4.

It is impossible to talk about #4 and not mention the original #4, the Yankees Lou Gehrig.

Why Gehrig?

When the Yankees were putting numbers on the players uniforms for the 1st time, they decided to go by the order in the batting lineup.

And because of that decision, the Yankees created the two most famous uniform #s in big league history, #3, Babe Ruth, and #4, Lou Gehrig.

Why did the Yankees win so many games?

#3 and #4 in the lineup, that's why

Lou Gehrig's #4 is the 1st uniform number to ever be retired, by any team, in any sport.

Ball 4 gets you to 1st base with a walk, and is also "Ball Four," the tell all book about life as a New York Yankee.

#4 is the slick fielding Aurelio Rodriguez and the hard charging Bobby Higginson of the Detroit Tigers.

#4 is the home run, the four bagger, and #4 is a Grand Slam HR, the "grand salami."

#4 is The Duke, Duke Snider and his 407 HRS in Brooklyn and L.A.

#4 is the legendary Orioles manager Earl Weaver getting thrown out of 97 big league games.

Four is also the number of pitchers who won 20+ games for Weaver and the O's in 1971, Jim Palmer, Pat Dobson, Mike Cuellar, and Dave McNally.

Four is the "Core Four" of the Yankees, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera, who won five World Series as teammates in the Bronx.

Four is 4 dingers, 4 long balls, 4 HRS in a game, done fifteen times in big league history...and yes, once by #4, Lou Gehrig.

#4 is Joe Cronin of the Red Sox, and the ChiSox Luke Appling, wearing #4 as he homered in an Old Timers game, at age 75.

#4 is Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, and his five hits in Game 1 of the 1982 World Series.

#4 the power of Ralph Kiner of the Pirates, Rusty Staub as a Met, and Charlie, "Paw Paw" Maxwell, who delighted Tigers fans by seemingly always hitting HRS on Sundays.      

#4 is Jackie Jensen, Jim Hegan, Shane Halter, and Bobby Allison.

Four is the 4-seam fastball, and 4 free tosses for an intentional walk to the batter.

Larvell Blanks, Tony Phillips, Hal McRae, Tommy Hutton, and Chris Spier all wore the number 4.

The #4 is "Nails," Lenny Dykstra, and Ernie Lombardi, and his "snooze" at home plate.

Four is how many names are attached to "The Corner" in Detroit, Michigan and Trumbull, Bennett Park, Navin Field, Briggs Stadium, and Tiger Stadium, from 19895-1999.

So, did I forget someone?

Let me know what #4 means to you.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Photo by Grand Cards

This is a very cool card...hey, my birthday is February 19th.

Photo by Grand Cards: "Feb 2, 2011"

Countdown to Opening Day, by the Numbers...#3

I'm getting baseball fever.

Bought my 1st baseball magazine yesterday, the Sporting News, which I buy every year, as I have, for 35 years.

I'm really looking forward to today's baseball countdown, the #3.

The #3 is one half of an inning, 3 up, 3 down.

3 is the change-up,  the 3-bagger...the triple..."he's going for 3."

#3 is baseball lore, the Sultan of Swat, The Great Bambino, George Herman "Babe" Ruth.    

 #3 is Orioles manager Earl Weaver looking for that game winning 3-run home run.

#3 is the middle of the order, the 3 sluggers who power the offense.

#3 when keeping score...1st base, grounding out, third to first, in the scorecard, GO, 5-3.

#3 is the methodical, sure hands of Tigers Gold Glove shortstop Alan Trammell, and the power of the Atlanta Braves Dale Murphy, who has the honor of being the only #3 the Colorado Rockies have ever had, in 1993.

The #3 is Steve Sax, of the Dodgers, who, upon arriving in New York to play for the Yankees didn't know why he couldn't wear #3....uh, Steve, that was Babe Ruth's number.

#3 is three strikes...yer out!...maybe you were struck out by the Cubs Mordecai "Three Fingered" Brown.

3 is how many home runs my hero, Bill Freehan, hit in a game against the Red Sox, at Fenway Park, in 1971. I was listening on the radio, in the back of my uncle's car, on the way to playing baseball.

#3 is the sweet swing of Harold Baines, who wore #3 for the White Sox...3 times.

Baines #3 was retired by the ChiSox in 1989, even though he was still an active player with the Texas Rangers.

#3 is the power of Alex Rodriguez, a 3 time A.L. MVP winner, and the Killer, Harmon Killebrew, who won 3 HR titles in a row, in 1962-63-64.


#3 is hard nosed 2nd sacker Dick McAuliffe of the Tigers, and outfielder Brian Jordan of the St.Louis Cardinals...when he wasn't playing football.

Bill Terry, the New York Giants Hall of Fame 1st baseman wore #3, as did the Cleveland Indians Earl Averill while he was patrolling the outfield in the mammoth "mistake by the lake," Munincipal Stadium.

3 is the number of MVP'S for Yankee greats Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle.

3 is for the three straight World Series of the "Swinging A's" of Oakland in 1972-73-74.

#3 is how many HRS Yankee right fielder Reggie Jackson hit in Game 6 of the 1977 World 3 different Dodger got it...3 pitches.

#3 is the Cardinals Frankie Frisch, Chuck Klein of the Phillies, and Ducky Medwick, the last Triple Crown winner in the National League, for the Cardinals in 1937.

Double XX, Jimmie Foxx, wore #3, as did Black Mike, Mickey Cochrane, for the A's and the Tigers.

#3 is "Scrap Iron," Phil Garner of the '79 Pirates, and Bud Harrelson, the Mets shortstop who fought the Reds Pete Rose in the 1973 N.L. Playoffs.

3 is the number of Cy Young Awards for Hall of Fame pitchers Sandy Koufax of the Dodgers, and Jim Palmer of the Orioles, and for future HOFer Pedro Martinez, with the Expos and Red Sox.

Three is for 3 straight RBI titles for "Big Daddy" Cecil Fielder, who drove in more runs than any other American League player in 1990-91-92.

3 is the number of N.L. East titles for the Pirates, 1971-72-73, and the 1976-77-78 Phillies, and the Pirates again, 3 in a row in 1990-91-92.

Well, that's 3 in the book, #'s 1-2-3 in our countdown to Opening Day.

I'm sure I forgot something, or someone, so leave a comment on your 3s in bog league baseball.

Tomorrow is the number four, #4, four baggers, 4 balls, and the players who have hit 4 HRS in a game.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Countdown to Opening Day, by the Numbers, #2

We started the countdown to opening day with #1...the fastball, Richie Ashburn, Cookie Rojas, and Billy Martin.

Today we move on, we call the next pitch, #2...the curve ball, Uncle Charlie, oh, and a 2 seam fastball.

#2 is "What's on second...who? No, he plays 1st base.

"Let's play two..."  Ernie Banks

#2 doesn't take a back seat to the old #1, #2 stands on it's own.

#2 is the heart, the fire, the Soul of Tommy Lasorda, both as a lefty pitcher in Brooklyn, and as a manager in Los Angeles.

#2 is the Junior Circuit, the American League, who started playing ball in 1901, 25 years after the National League, making them #2 to the Senior Circuit.

Derek Jeter is #2, the last Yankee to wear a single digit number @ Yankee Stadium, both old and new.

#2 has been retired by...the Chicago White Sox, for Nellie Fox, by the Detroit Tigers, for "The Mechanical Man," Charlie Gehringer, and by the St. Louis Cardinals for the "Red Head." Red Schoendienst, and by the Dodgers for Lasorda.

Speaking of Gehringer, he wore #3 in 1931, the 1st year the Tigers began using numbers. #2 was outfielder Gee Walker.

#2 is Jerry Remy, Dalton Jones, Carl Everett, and Paul Blair... as a Yankee.

2 is two teams in Ohio, the Reds and Indians, 2 teams in Texas, Rangers and Astros, two Florida teams, the Rays and the Marlins, and 2 is the number of teams in the Windy City, Cubs on the North Side, White Sox on the South.
#2 is also how many teams remain in the Big Apple, New York City.

The Mets, the Metropolitan Baseball Club of New York, and the Yankees, always reliving the Subway Series.

There used to be three teams in Gothan City, led by Willie, Mickey, and The Duke, until 2 teams, the Dodgers, and the Giants, left, becoming the first 2 teams to play big league baseball in California.

#2 is for Randy Winn, the first #2 in Tampa Devil Rays history, and #2 is Gerald Young, the first #2 in the history of the Colorado Rockies.

#2 is 2 for the price for 1, an old school double header, a real twin bill, not same day, and a double play ball...Tinkers to Evers to Chance.

Number Two is 2 outs in the bottom of the ninth, 2 out, the 2-2 pitch on the way..fouled back into the 2nd deck.

#2 is the Cubs Leo Durocher, who was also #2 as a Brooklyn Dodger manager, and was wearing #2 when Bobby Thompson hit the "Shot heard 'round the World."

Bobby Murcer was #2, for the Cubbies, and for the Yankees the 2nd time around.

#2 is Heinie Manush, Brett Butler, and the great Mickey Cochrane of the Philadelphia A's.

Billy Herman, Ernie Lombardi, Red Rolfe, and Bobby Valentine were #2, but I'm sure to their Mom's they were #1.

Frank Crosetti, "The Crow." was #2 in Yankee Pinstripes  from 1947-1968.

Dick Dietz wore #2 as a catcher for the San Francisco Giants, Sam Rice was #2 for the old Washington Senators, and Sparky Anderson wore #2 for a cup of coffee for the 1959 Phillies.

#2 is the second man up, the guy in the on deck circle.

Second base is #2 as you round your way around the diamond, trying to stretch a double into a triple.

#2 is for the Twin Cities, Minneapolis, and Twin #2s, Denard Spahn and Zolio Versalles, the 1965 American League Most Valuable Player.

#2 is for 2 tickets, row 2, seats 1 and 2.

Back to back is #2, as in 2 straight MVP Awards for the Tigers Hal Newhowser, in 1944-45.

 #2 is the back to back World Series of the Big Red Machine in 1965-76, and back to back N.L. MVP's for their 2nd baseman, Hall of Famer, Joe Morgan.

2 is back to back, 2 Hall of Fame catchers, Bill Dickey, and Yogi Berra, of the Yankees.

Did I forget someone, or something?

Please leave a comment...or 2.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Countdown to Opening Day, by the Numbers

Today is Tuesday, February 1st, 2011. There are 59 days until opening day in big league baseball.

I thought I'd enter each day looking ahead to March 31st, by looking back, looking back to the great past of our National Pastime by the numbers, until we get to the start of the 2011 baseball season.

So, here we go, starting today with #1.

 #1 IS...the pitcher, #1 in the baseball scorecard.

#1 is 1st base..."who's on first?" by Abbot and Costello.

#1 is the Dodgers Andy Pafko, card #1 in the Topps 1952 baseball card set. Sweet Lou Whittaker, Billy Martin, Pee Wee Reese, Bobby Doerr, and the Wizard, Ozzie Smith.

#1 is the first day of Spring Training, when  pitchers and catchers report, this year it's Valentine's Day, Feb. 14th.

#1 is baseball's All-Time leader in home runs, Barry Bonds, who passed the fans #1, Hank Aaron, finishing with 762 long balls.
Pete Rose isn't in the Hall of Fame, but he's #1 in All-Time hits, 4,256 of them.

Derek Jeter of the Yankees wears #2, but on opening day he's #1, the #1 active leader in career hits, with 2, 926, 74 base knocks away from the magical 3,000.

#1 is Phillies great Richie Ashburn, and the "Miracle" Boston Braves Rabbit Maranville.

#1 is the fastball, hard cheese, the gas, the heater.

#1 is Tyrus Raymond Cobb, the Georgia Peach, who, even though he played when there were no numbers on players uniforms, is #1 in lifetime batting average, .367, and #1 All-Time in batting titles, with 12.

#1 is the top of the order, #1 is the top of the 1st,the lead off hitter, like Rickey Henderson, who is considered the #1 All-Time lead off hitter, who's #1 in lead off home runs, with 81.
Rickey is also #1 in stolen bases All-Time, with 1,406.

#1 is Cookie Rojas, and Buddy Biancalana of the KC Royals, and Lance Johnson, the 1 Dog, #1 for the Chicago White Sox on the South Side and for the Cubs across town on the North Side.

#1, numero uno, is Jose Cardinal of the Cubs, eating the vines off the Wrigley Field outfield wall.

#1 is the fiery Larry Bowa, playing hard nosed shortstop for the Phillies and Cubs.

I mentioned Sweet Lou Whittaker of my Detroit Tigers at the beginning, and one...1 day, the Tigers will get around to retiring the #1 of Whitaker, but...did you know... one has worn #1 since Sweet Lou retired, but can you Tiger fans remember the last Tiger player to wear #1 for the ole English D.?

The answer is...Jerry Manuel, who wore #1 for Detroit in 1976.

How about extra trivia...before Manuel, #1 was worn by...Tigers manager, and former player, Billy Martin.

Martin managed the Tigers in 1971-72-73, and he also wore #1 as a Tigers infielder in 1958.

 #1 is were baseball begins...every team on opening day is #1 in the standings, and every fan thinks their team, their boys, will be #1.

Opening Day makes fans feel great, makes them feel #1.

#1 is the start, the beginning, the place where teams, and fans start the season.

#1 is the ceremonial 1st pitch, the 1st cry by the ump to "play ball."

#1 is the 1st pitch..."Halladay looks for the signals, winds and delivers... on the outside corner, and the 1st pitch of 2011is a fastball called strike."

Feel free to leave your comments about #1 and baseball.

What's #1 mean to you? I'm sure, I know there is much more out there, more #1 baseball uniforms, players, stats.

Let me know what you think, let's talk baseball and numbers every day.

See you tomorrow for day two, and #2.