Rugger. Clemente. Raimondi. Cobb. Paige.

•August 21, 2015 • 2 Comments

Rugger Ardizoia Hollywood Stars
Last month, Bay Area baseball legend and mainstay, Rugger Ardizoia passed away at the age of 95. Rugger’s popularity had risen in the last few years due to being the oldest living member of the New York Yankees. This is in addition to being the last living member of the San Francisco Mission Reds of the old Pacific Coast League, which lead to me meeting him in 2012. He will be missed and I have to admit that I was legitimately sad when I learned of his passing.

Back in April, The New York Times wrote THIS article on Rugger and after his death, SFGate wrote THIS. I suggest reading both if you like old baseball stories and are interested in the life of Rugger.

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Clemente and Berra 1960 World Series
The Pirates battled the Yankees in the 1960 World Series, which ended with Bill Mazeroski‘s famous game winning home run in Game 7. It also produced this incredible color photo of an at-bat by Roberto Clemente at old Forbes Field, with Yogi Berra behind the plate. (Photo Source: It’s a Long Season via Sports Illustrated)

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Oaks vs Rainiers

A great photo of Earl Torgeson of the Seattle Rainiers sliding into home plate under the tag of Oakland Oaks’ catcher, Billy Raimondi. Due to never playing in the big leagues, many people are not aware of who Billy Raimondi, and that’s a shame.

What everyone should know about him is that he was a Bay Area baseball legend, who spent 21 of his 22 years of professional baseball in the PCL, with the majority of them with the Oaks. In fact, he played more seasons in the PCL than any other non-pitcher and is a member of the league’s Hall of Fame. Baseball: Past and Present wrote about Raimond after his death back in 2010 and it’s definitely worth reading. Check it out HERE(Photo Source: SportsPressNW)

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Ty Cobb Steals Home Against Boston

I recently came across this incredible photo of Ty Cobb, during his time with the Philadelphia A’s, stealing home against the Red Sox. Grover Hartley looks like he’s somewhat attempting to put the tag on Cobb, but by his body language, it looks like he wanting nothing to do with his cleats. I think it’s safe to say that The Georgia Peach was safe. (Photo Source: Detroit Free Press)

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Satchel Paige 1961

When I came across this photo, it caught me off guard. It was labeled as Satchel Paige pitching during the 1961 Negro American League All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium.” At first, I thought this was odd, as I had no idea Paige had pitched in any Negro League game (official or exhibition) at this point in his life. Hell, I thought the Negro Leagues were pretty much said and done by 1960. Well, it turns out I was both right and wrong as there was an East-West All-Star Game held in both 1961 and 1962, even though official games and seasons ceased to exist at this point. In all likelihood, the 1961 and 1962 games were probably held by the remaining owners as a way to squeeze the last drop of money out of Negro League baseball.

In regards to the 1961 game, Paige pitched 3 scoreless innings for the West team, who beat the East team to a score of 7 to 1. The 55 year old pitching legend was rewarded with the win and wore a Chicago American Giants uniform while doing so. The Chicago uniform is interesting though, considering he only pitched there for a minimal amount of time. I assume someone paid him well to wear the Chicago uniform? In any case, his performance caused the Portland Beavers of the Pacific Coast League to call for his services, where he signed a contract to finish the 1961 season in Portland. He ended up pitching 25 innings with the Beavers and accumulated a respectable 2.88 ERA. Not bad for an old man.

In 2010, Philly.com wrote about the 1961 game HERE, however the author was under the assumption that this was the last Negro League game, which was not the case as I noted above. The last game happened a year later at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, where the East beat the West, 5 to 2. Unfortunately, as far as I know, Paige did not pitch in this game.

Williams & Minoso, A’s vs Giants, Negro Leaguers, Seals, Greenberg.

•July 14, 2015 • 2 Comments

Ted Williams Minnie Minoso

Ted Williams and Minnie Minoso enjoy a moment together during the 1959 All-Star Game. It was Minoso’s 6th All-Star appearance and Williams’ 18th, so this was far from a new experience for two of my favorite ball players of all time. Unfortunately neither player made much of an impact in the game as Minoso went 0 for 5 and Williams did not start but was used as a pinch hitter late in the game; where he took a walk.

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1913 World Series

I have no idea who this woman is or what the backstory is on this, but it’s a great photo related to the 1913 World Series in which the Giants and A’s faced off in the Fall Classic for the third time in less than a decade. Both teams have played each other in the World Series four times (1989, 1913, 1911, 1905), with the A’s coming out on top each year besides 1905.

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Doby Paige Robinson

This photo of Larry Doby, Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson is simply amazing. What I’d give to listen to these former Negro League stars and future Hall of Famers talk.

I’m curious as to when this was taken? The Indians and Dodgers never faced off in the World Series and all three men never played in an All-Star Game together during Paige’s years with the Indians. I assume it was taken during a barnstorming/exhibition game or maybe even during Spring Training? If anyone has any backstory to this photo, definitely let me know.

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Gene Lillard & Bill Lillard Seals

Gene Lillard and Bill Lillard both played together for a short time in 1937 with the San Francisco Seals. Although the brothers both had short careers in the big leagues, they had long careers in the minor leagues; with both spending time with various Pacific Coast League teams.

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Hank Greenberg 1940 World Series

Game 5 of the 1940 World Series. Hank Greenberg hits a homerun in the 3rd inning of Gene Thompson of the Reds. At first look, this photo of old Tiger Stadium (then known as Briggs Stadium) may not seem like something quite worth sharing. However, I suggest clicking on it for a large version, which has incredible detail for an action photo from that era.

Dem Bums.

•June 18, 2015 • 2 Comments

Dodgers Braves Brawl 1957

Mayhem breaks out during a 1957 Dodgers and Braves game after a Don Drysdale fastball comes too close to Johnny Logan‘s head. There’s a lot going on here, but this is a breakdown of what’s going down:

-Front: Logan cocking back to throw a punch at Dodgers manager Walter Alston.
-Rear: Pee Wee Reese attempting to pull Eddie Mathews off Drysdale.
-Right: Braves coach Connie Ryan holding back Gil Hodges

Assuming no one gets seriously injured, I love a good baseball brawl and this one looked quite epic; especially when you consider who was all involved.

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Casey Stengel Brooklyn Dodgers

Casey Stengel poses for a candid photo during Spring Training of 1936. The Old Perfessor is obviously associated more so as a Yankee, but he did spend a fair amount of time in Brooklyn as he played for the Dodgers from 1912 to 1917 and managed them from 1934 to 1936.

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Dodgerst retiring numbers

June 4, 1972. The Dodgers retire the numbers of Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Sandy Koufax in a pre-game ceremony. When looking at this photo, something crossed my mind- why did the team wait until 1984 to retire Don Drysdale’s number? Yes, Drysdale played a few years after Koufax hung up his spikes, but still it’s kinda odd to me.

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Tommy Lasorda Slide

I love this photo of Tommy Lasorda going into a sliding pit. I have no idea when this was taken, but based on the spectator’s clothing in the background, I’d guess it was in Dodgertown in the 1970s during his time as the Dodgers third base coach or in his early years of being the manager. Nothing delights me like seeing coaches and managers getting into the mix, well after their playing days are over.

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Jackie Robinson dugout

I recently came across this photo and fell in love with it. I have no idea when it was taken or what Jackie had accomplished and against who, but it captures the camaraderie of a baseball team perfectly. I assume that since Don Newcombe is wearing a bullpen jacket and no one else is, that he may have been pitching this particular day.

Cool Papa, The Babe, The Old Perfessor, The Mick and Campy.

•May 21, 2015 • 3 Comments

Cool Papa

Cool Papa Bell Grays

James “Cool Papa” Bell tracking down a flyball in an amazing Homestead Grays jersey. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Grays easily had one of my favorite uniforms in baseball history.

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The Babe

Babe Ruth 1B coach Brooklyn

Some people view Babe Ruth‘s time in as Brooklyn’s first base coach as the sad last chapter in his amazing baseball life. This may be true to an extent due to his expectation that the job would open the door to managing a big league club, which unfortunately never happened. For some reason I’ve always been fascinated by this time in his career, in addition to him wrapping up his playing days with the Braves. One thing that can’t be denied, is that he looked pretty cool in a Brooklyn Dodgers uniform.

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The Old Perfessor

Casey Stengel Polo Grounds. 1962.

1962. A then 71 year old Casey Stengel stands in the doorway of the Mets’ clubhouse at the Polo Grounds while New York fans admire the baseball legend. I love the fact that the clubhouse was located in the outfield at the Polo Grounds and I love the history of the early Mets teams of the 1960s, regardless of how bad they were.

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The Mick & Campy

Mickey Mantle & Campy

Roy Campanella waits on Mickey Mantle and the homeplate umpire. Any photo featuring Yankees and Dodgers stars from this era is amazing to me, especially if the involve Mantle and Campanella. I assume this photo is from a World Series (it looks like it could be Ebbets Field to me), but I don’t any patriotic post-season draping anywhere. With that said, it very well could have been taken at a spring training game between the clubs.

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Baseball in Hollywood

Bill Norman Hollywood Stars

1939. Bill Norman of the Hollywood Stars slugs a homerun at Gilmore Field against the Seattle Rainiers, while catcher Gilly Campbell watches from a vintage high stance crouch. As always, I can’t get enough of photos from the old Pacific Coast League and this is definitely one of my favorite that I’ve come across in recent years.

Minnie Minoso

•April 3, 2015 • 1 Comment

Minnie Minoso ChiSox

When Minnie Minoso recently passed away at the age of 89, the city of Chicago and the world of baseball suffered yet another broken heart, much like in February when Ernie Banks died. Minnie Minoso has always been one of my favorite players from yesteryear. How can you not love a Cuban who played in the Negro Leagues, old Pacific Coast League, the Major Leagues and the Mexican League? He lived a long life in baseball and it was apparent that the man still loved the game very much as he was still quite involved with the White Sox.

If you’re not familiar with Minnie Minoso, a great starting point would be to watch the documentary “Baseball’s Been Very, Very Good to Me: Minnie Minoso Story.” It’s currently streaming for free, so you have no excuse to watch it. If you’re  familiar with the man that helped knocked down the barriers that stood in the way for both Latin and black players alike, I hope you appreciate this post which gives a snapshot into different eras of his long and storied career. Rest in peace, Minnie. May the world of baseball never forget you and hopefully you will get your spot in Cooperstown soon.

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Minoso Mariano Tigers

In 1945, Minnie Minoso made his professional debut with Havana’s Marianao Club of the Cuban League. The 19 year old was paid $150 a month while primarily playing third base for the team. Minoso, or the “Cuban Comet” as many called him, is a member of the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame.

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Minnie Minoso &  Lino Dinoso

At the age of only 20, Minnie Minoso left his country in 1946 and joined the New York Cubans of the Negro Leagues, where he proceeded to become a two time All-Star and helped the team win the Negro League World Series in 1947. Minoso played in the Negro Leagues until the Cleveland Indians signed him as an amateur free agent late in the 1948 season. He was immediately sent him to their single A affiliate team in Dayton, where he finished out the season.

In this photo, Minnie (right) poses for a photo with teammate Lino Donoso during his time with the New York Cubans.

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Minoso San Diego Padres Speech

After signing with the Indians late in 1948, Minoso proceeded to make his MLB debut during a quick cup of coffee in the big leagues early in the 1949 season. After spending 9 games with Cleveland, he spent the rest of 1949 and all of the 1950 season with the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League, where the team operated as an affiliate of the Indians from 1949 to 1951. Minoso flourished in San Diego, where he became a fan favorite and put up an accumulated .319 batting average, hit 42 home runs, drove in 190 RBI and stole 43 bases. Due to these numbers and the impact he had on the team, Minoso was elected to the PCL Padres Hall of Fame.

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Minoso LF Indians

During Minoso’s time in the Indians’ organization, he was converted from a third basemen to a left fielder and was soon recognized as one of the best defensive left fielders in the game. In what surely ended up being a move the team regretted, Minoso was traded to American League rival Chicago White Sox in April of 1951, when it became evident that Minoso did not have a spot on the team. As they often say, the rest was history.

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Minnie Minoso ST 1956 ChiSox

From 1951 onwards, Minoso was one of the best players in the Major Leagues. Minoso was an 9 time All-Star and earned himself 3 Gold Glove awards. With the exception of short stints with the Senators, Cardinals and even re-joining the Indians at one point, the rest of his Major League career was spent in Chicago. I can list more of his accomplishments in Chicago, but all you really need to know is that he eventually took on the name “Mr. White Sox” and made a significant impact on the organization, which eventually retired his #9 uniform number. Minoso’s playing career in the Major Leagues essentially ended after the 1964 season, but he was far from done playing the game he loved.

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Minnie Minoso Mexico

After Minnie’s MLB career ended, the Mexican League came calling and he spent the next 9 seasons there as a player and player-manager. Due to his accomplishments in Mexico, he was elected to the Mexican League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.

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In 1976, Bill Veeck convinced Minoso to rejoin the team as a coach, which Minnie happily agreed to. In a September series against the Angels, the 50 year old Minoso was reactivated as a player and served as a pinch hitter and designated hitter. He hit a single against Sid Monge on September 12th and became the 4th oldest player in history to get a hit in a Major League game. I can watch this video over and over again and not get sick of it.

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Minnie Minoso & Jose Abreu

From his return to the White Sox in 1976 up until his death, Minoso was still very much involved with the White Sox in different capacities and was currently a community relations representative for the team. One of the more interesting aspects of his later years was his relationship his sparked with Cuban slugger Jose Abreu, whom he took under his wing last season and became a mentor to.

Abreu was quoted as saying that he cared about Minoso like a family member and that in regards to his death said “It’s something that’s very painful for all of the Cubans that are here and for the fans of the White Sox, the organization and everyone. It’s something that’s very difficult. He was an incredible person. I learned so much from him.” 

 
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