Hanging Up The Spikes.

•November 21, 2013 • 1 Comment

Gehrig Retires 1939
Every season, many Major League Baseball players say goodbye to the game they love; some by choice and others forced by powers beyond their control. Most of them are far from the players they once were and that’s fine by me. I’m ok with players hanging on as long as they (naturally) can, even longer than they “should” in some cases. To me, this often reflects the fact that they love Baseball and still want to play. Hell, if I had it my way, there would be a professional senior league that old ball players could “graduate” to once they retired from the big leagues. I just look at the game in a humanistic and romantic frame of mind. I am aware I’m in the minority in this day and age when it comes to this.

Just to put it out there, I get a little sad and a confused when I see guys retire from the game after watching and admiring their careers. Whether it be a “AAAA” player who could not find success in the big leagues, a career utility infielder who will disappear without fanfare, or an aging superstar who has wrapped up a spectacular career; I always ask myself how can they COMPLETELY stop playing the game of Baseball?

I play Baseball and intend to until I physically can not do so anymore. There’s something deep inside of me which keeps me playing this game, even with the injuries that often plague me. It’s a fire that just won’t go out. I suppose it’s much different for someone who has played professionally for many years and therefore has had a much different experience than myself. For these guys, I just assume the fire inside to play should still be flickering though? I look at people like Bill ‘Spaceman’ Lee and say to myself “That’s how I wanna be.” The guy is 66 years old and still plays competitive Baseball long after his major league career ended. Whether it be men’s senior leagues, independent minor league teams, pick-up clubs, etc., he plays for the love of the game. After being cut by the Expos in 1982, Lee was interviewed and asked if he cares if he’s out of Baseball for good. He answered with “Oh, I’ll never be out of Baseball for good, that’s my life.” It’s an admirable quote that I often think about as it resonates with me.

With all that said, I know not everyone feels the same about the game of Baseball as Bill Lee and myself. For many, when it comes to time to say goodbye to the game, it really is goodbye and that is what this post is about. A number of players that I admire have recently decided to hang up the spikes and I know I will not see them play again. This post is a “digital” tip of the cap to these men and what they accomplished during their careers. I know not everyone who left the game in 2013 is listed on here, but these are the players that I personally admire for what they did on the field and have actually officially announced their retirement. Much like my “30 Teams, 30 Posts” project, I’ll leave a photo I like, along with feelings or a memory that’s triggered by it. Enjoy.

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Mariano Rivera

Rivera Jeter Pettitte
I’m just going to start with the biggest and most obvious name and that would be Mariano Rivera. What can I say that has not already been said about the best closer of all time? I may be VERY critical of the role of the modern “closer” but I still have to admit that he is a legend and an easy first ballot Hall of Famer. Growing up as a fan of the Padres, I was always more of a Trevor Hoffman fan for obvious reasons. There always seemed to be a lot of comparison and debate between these two closers and only members of the 600 Save club: East vs West, large market vs small market, cutter vs change-up, AC/DC vs Metallica, etc. I always (and still do) follow Hoffman more for obvious reasons, but I could never remotely dislike or disregard Mo. He was the greatest and anyone who says otherwise is taking crazy pills. I finally got to see him pitch in person this last summer and while he did blow a save in the game, I felt honored to finally seem him pitch in person.

If you were somehow in the 1% of Baseball fans who managed to miss Mo’s last appearance, do yourself a favor and click HERE. It gets good right around the 3:20 mark. If you don’t get a little misty eyed, I question your love for the game.

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Mark Kotsay

Mark Kotsay A's
Towards the end of this season, Mark Kotsay decided that it would be his last year in the big leagues. This guy is by far my favorite player on this list and was always one of my favorite players in Baseball. I followed him closely throughout his career due to his connection to both the Padres and A’s always got excited when I saw him in the lineup or take the field. With that said, it was obviously a little saddening to hear of his retirement, but then again he did play 17 years in the big leagues. That in itself is quite admirable for someone who was never a “superstar,” let alone ever an All-Star. I’m going to miss that left-handed swing of his but I have feeling he’s still going to be involved in the game as the general consensus regarding Kotsay is that he would be a great coach or manager in the future.

My fondest Kotsay moment would have to be as a member of the 2006 A’s when he hit an inside the park homerun and helped win Game 2 of the ALDS. Since I can’t find the video of this, HERE is a link of the Padres honoring Kotsay before his final game in San Diego.

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Todd Helton

Todd Helton

Todd Helton is another player who announced late in the season that 2014 would be last in the big leagues. As someone who follows the NL West closely, I’m quite familiar with Helton and what he accomplished during his 17 seasons as the first basemen of the Rockies. He beat up on Padres pitchers for years and even though it was infuriating at times, I could not help but take a step back at times, throw away my fandom and admire what a great player he was. Helton may have played some of his greatest seasons at Coors Field prior to the humidor and benefited from the elevation (which are reflected in his home/road splits), but he had some legit great all around seasons. In my eyes, Helton is a Hall of Famer. Not to mention he played his entire career with one team, which is always admirable and Hall of Fame voters seem to like.

The last weekend of the season, the legendary Vin Scully paid tribute to Helton via THIS video. I believe it sums up how most Baseball people feel about Helton and his impact on the game.

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Chris Carpenter

Chris Carpenter
Chris Carpenter has officially hung up his spikes due to nerve issues in his throwing shoulder, which have essentially robbed him of his last 2 seasons. When Carpenter was healthy, he was an absolute beast on the mound who often ran with his emotions. This meant yelling at himself and opposing players, staring down batters and playing harder than most. Some may call it competitive and others may call it irrational. I know the yelling and staring down of opposing players rubbed many the wrong way, but I was always kinda conflicted in regards to this. I loved how fierce of a competitor he was, but some of the dramatics that came along with this were unneeded. In any case, I’d rather have someone like Carpenter than have someone who was lacking in the competitive juices department.

Recently, I read somewhere that it was suggested if Carpenter could have possibly had a Hall of Fame caliber career if it were not for the 6 surgeries that undoubtedly cost him a lot of time during his peak years. This is debatable, but what can’t be debated is that Carpenter had a great career. A Cy Young award, three All-Star games and a great post-season career which lead to 2 World Series rings all stand out on his resume.

I gotta admit that my favorite Carpenter moment actually happened last year during his late season comeback from thoracic outlet syndrome. He came back early from his injury late in the season and eventually defeated the Nationals in Game 3 of the 2012 NLDS. While I may have been rooting for the Nats to win, Carpenter coming back from his injury to beat them was something you just had to tip your cap to and enjoy. To watch highlights of this game, click HERE.

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Andy Pettitte

Andy Pettitte 2007
Andy Pettitte
is a player that I always enjoyed watching. He was a class act and I watched him pitch some amazing games over the years, especially in the post-season. In a nutshell, I feel similar about Pettitte as I do about Rivera, Posada and Jeter. All four of them were part of an amazing group of players and I found it hard to dislike anything about any of them. I guess the only knock against Pettitte would be his connection to PED’s but to be honest, this does not judge how I view him and his entire career; which may or may not land him in the Hall of Fame.

One of, if not my favorite thing about Pettitte was his unbelievable pick-off move to first base. Against the Mariners in the 1995 ALDS, Pettitte picked off not one, but two base-runners at first base. Not to mention, this was his first post-season start of his career and it makes it even more impressive. His mechanics were incredibly deceiving and I feel that most left-handed pitchers could learn a thing or two from him. Watch these post-season pick-offs HERE and be stoked…unless you’re a fan of the Mariners.

2013 BBA Post-Season Voting.

•October 23, 2013 • Leave a Comment

As a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance it is required that I vote 4 times a year in regards to different matters relating to Major League Baseball. We have a lot of fun doing this and it’s always interesting to see everyone’s take on the it. The following awards are what we vote on each and every calendar year:

-January: Hall of Fame vote.  This vote is based on the official Hall of Fame ballot for the BBA recommendation of who should be selected.

-March: We vote for the Ring Lardner Award. This is given to the baseball writer who, along with quality writing, has a strong internet presence.

-June: All-Star Game voting, self explanatory.

-October: Post-Season awards. There are five awards voted on: Willie Mays Award (Rookie of the Year), Connie Mack Award (Manager of the Year), Walter Johnson Award (Cy Young Award), Stan Musial Award (MVP), and the Goose Gossage Award (Top Reliever).

My votes are due tomorrow for the Post-Season awards and the results will be released the day after the World Series ends. So without hesitation, here are my picks:

Connie Mack Award (manager of the year):
American LeagueTerry Francona (What Tito did with the Indians is nothing but spectacular. John Farrell may have a had a great season as Boston’s new skipper, but he also had a more talented roster and payroll to work with.)

National League- Clint Hurdle (No one else is as deserving as Hurdle. I think this is a no-brainer.)

Willie Mays Award (rookie of the year):
American League- Wil Myers (This should be an easy choice as there are no other front-runners besides Myers. He had a great rookie season and in ways was comparable to Yasiel Puig in terms of breaking in the big leagues like a bat out of hell. I am looking looking forward to watching his career.)

National League- Yasiel Puig (This was honestly difficult as it could of easily been Jose Fernandez of the Marlins. Ultimately I had to go with Puig as he is an everyday player. Still, with that said I can’t honestly say that I made the right choice. It’s that close.)

Goose Gossage Award (top reliever):
American LeagueKoji Uehara (What can I say about Uehara which hasnt already been said? The guy straight up had an amazing season and if it were not for what he accomplished this season, I would be giving this award to Mariano Rivera.)

National LeagueCraig Kimbrel (Is Kimbrel a legendary closer in the making? I may not be a Braves fan, but watching this guy shut down teams and close out games is a delight.)

Walter Johnson Award (cy young):
American LeagueMax Scherzer (Amazing season. No one else even came close to touching him in the AL.)

National League- Clayton Kershaw (Much like Scherzer above, no one came closer to having a season like Kershaw did in 2013. He had one of those seasons that many years from now we will reflect on it in astonishment and tell our kids about it; much like people speak of Koufax and his heyday.)

Stan Musial Award (mvp):
American League- Mike Trout (No one else is even close. Without a doubt, the best player in MLB as far as I’m concerned.)

National LeagueAndrew McCutchen (Would the Pirates have made it as far as they did without McCutchen? In my eyes, he was the NL MVP with Paul Goldschmidt coming in not far behind.)

Gil Hodges. Thurman Munson. Black Sox. Ted Williams. Rockford Peaches.

•October 7, 2013 • 1 Comment

Gil Hodges Brooklyn BP

A great colorized photo of Gil Hodges taking BP. I love the Brooklyn Dodgers, Hodges and colorized old Baseball photos when done well. This one is done VERY well, so of course I felt the need to share it.

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Thurman Munson Death

A while back I came across this comic from August 3rd, 1979 by Bill Gallo of the New York Daily News entitled “No Game Today.” Thurman Munson is one of my favorite catchers of all time and while he died prior to me being born, reading this comic which came out the day after his death surely captured the feelings of Baseball players and fans everywhere when he passed away.

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The Black Sox of 1919

Another colorized photo that I really enjoy: The 1919 Chicago White Sox. If you click on the photo, you can view a larger version with much more detail. Some of detail and color looks a tad forced, but the majority of it looks great and helps paint a modern look on the infamous team which later gained the nickname of the Black-Sox.

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Ted Williams San Diego Padres At-Bat

Ted Williams at-bat. Photos of the Splendid Splinter actually playing during his time with the San Diego Padres of the old Pacific Coast League are hard to come by, so needless to say I REALLY like this photo. I’m not entirely sure if this was in 1936 or 1937, or who the opponent was, but I am quite certain that this is a game played in Lane Field due to what I can see of the background.

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rockford peaches 1950

July 7th, 1950. The Rockford Peaches of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League sit in the dugout at Beyer Stadium in their home of Rockford, Illinois. I absolutely love this photo and anything related to the AAGPBL.

Much like the Black-Sox photo above, click on this for an enlarged version that’s definitely worth checking out.

Great Baseball Quotes.

•September 27, 2013 • 2 Comments

Bill Spaceman Lee Catcher Pacifics

“Baseball suspends time the longer you’re here on this planet, it takes aches and pains away when you play.”Bill “Spaceman” Lee

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Ty Cobb Athletics

“The longer I live, the longer I realize that batting is more a mental matter than it is physical. The ability to grasp the bat, swing at the proper time, take a proper stance; all these are elemental. Batting is rather a study in psychology, a sizing up of a pitcher and catcher and observing little details that are of immense importance. It’s like the study of crime, the work of a detective as he picks up clues.”Ty Cobb

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Ted Williams On Deck

“My name is Ted fucking Williams and I’m the greatest hitter in baseball.”Ted Williams

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WIllie Mays BP

“I remember the last season I played. I went home after a ballgame one day, lay down on my bed, and tears came to my eyes. How can you explain that? It’s like crying for your mother after she’s gone. You cry because you love her. I cried, I guess, because I loved baseball and I knew I had to leave it.”Willie Mays

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Pete Rose 3B

“I’d walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball.” – Pete Rose

An Interview with Pelican Print Shop.

•September 11, 2013 • 1 Comment

Pelican Print Shop

Last year sometime I was looking up some Pacific Coast League stuff online and discovered Pelican Print Shop, a San Francisco based print shop with a heavy emphasis in all things related to Baseball. I was delighted to find their collaboration with Ebbets Fields Flannels which consists of a wonderful t-shirt line of old PCL teams such as the San Francisco Seals, Mission Reds, and Oakland Oaks. Needless to say, this sparked my attention for obvious reasons. Fast forward some time and after a few online interactions, we quickly realized that we share mutual friends and contacts related to the baseball community here in San Francisco. The city itself is quite small and everyone here seems to know everyone else in some way shape or form. This is applicable to the Baseball community as well.

All this got me thinking that people need to know about the shop, their goals, products, and how Baseball ties in with all of it. Ultimately, I decided to do an interview with Dave Phillips from Pelican to help get the story and to help spread the word of the shop. Without further adieu, here is that interview. I hope this sparks interest in some of the readers of 90 Feet of Perfection to look up the shop and support Pelican!

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1) First of all, give us a little background on Pelican. How did you start, what were your initial goals, etc?

I started Pelican in the Summer of 2012. I co-owned a screen printing and supply company (Anthem Screen Printing) for 2 1/2 years before Pelican and learned the ropes of running a company but also realized I wanted something else. When I started Pelican, my goal was pretty simple. I wanted a studio where I could focus on print and design. I wanted to continue to do commercial work but also wanted to make time to be able to work on my own stuff, surf when the waves are good, play ball, and have a bit of a mellower work environment.

2) When did Baseball come into play in regards to the shop’s products? Was this a goal from the start or did it just kind of happen?

The baseball thing totally just happened. If you told me I was going to be making bat wax two years ago I would not have believed you. I’ve always loved and been pretty obsessed with baseball. Not just scores but stats, players backgrounds, the whole deal. When the Giants won the World Series in 2012, I co-designed a shirt with one of my clients that did pretty well. I sold them through my website and Etsy and that got me going on to do other things. It wasn’t until the past couple months that I finally decided to make the jump and really start pushing to create a brand that is focused on baseball and living in California.

Pelican Print Shop PCL Shirts

3) How did the collaboration with Ebbets Fields Flannels come about? Who approached who? I assume they currently control the rights to the old PCL teams in terms of merchandise and you had to get the green light from them to go ahead with the shirts?

So after the World Series shirt, I thought to myself “Ok I got lucky. I sold an un-licensed Giants shirt and didn’t get rung up by MLB or anyone else with MLB rights.” I got a great deal of satisfaction from making and selling that shirt and wanted to keep going but didn’t want to dance with the risk of getting sued. I love baseball history and there are so many teams that aren’t on the radar anymore but paved the road for the teams today that I wanted to pay homage to. I was aware of Ebbets and their shirts but I didn’t want to take an old logo and slap it on a shirt. I spent some time playing with some ideas and re-worked the Mission Reds shirt first. After I got to the Seals and the Oaks done, I received an email from the President at Ebbets saying that I can’t sell these shirts because I didn’t have a license. They offered to license them for me through MiLB and manufacture the shirts through their printer up in Seattle. I did an initial run and the shirts didn’t come out so hot so we worked it out so I was allowed to do the printing as long as they were co-branded with Ebbets. I paid them a royalty up front, sent the shirts to Seattle to get tagged and that was that. They’re nice people and I look forward to moving on to hats and more shirts with them in the future.

4) While the Seals, Missions and Oaks shirts all make sense as you are a Bay Area based company, what made you decide to do a Albuquerque Dukes shirt?

I lived in Albuquerque from 2002-2007. The Albuquerque Isotopes are the triple A affiliate for the Dodgers but before the ‘topes, there were the Dukes. There’s something about the Dukes that the people of ‘Burque don’t want to let go of. First off, their name just sounds so tough. Their logo was very simple and it’s easy to connect with New Mexico. Everyone in SF wears a SF hat while people in Albuquerque continue to wear Dukes gear even though the team is long gone. It’s just golden old school New Mexico. Some pretty well known MLB players blossomed with the Dukes included Paul Konerko and Darryl Strawberry. When I thought of doing a logo for them, the idea was just there. It wasn’t something I had to think about for awhile so I just went for it.

Pelican Print Shop Shirt

5) Your “Playing Ball ‘Til The Day I Fall” shirt is one of, if not the coolest Baseball shirt I have seen in ages. It instantly hit a soft spot for me as I have a high respect for those who continue to play Baseball well after most people give up on playing the game. Do you want to give me the back story on making this shirt and the response you have received?

This shirt was my first go at doing something separate from something that was baseball related but not team oriented. I play in the Latin League in San Francisco and I’m super psyched on the dudes who come out and play and still carry their youth with them through baseball. Some guys are in their 60′s and have just as much energy as anybody. They just love the game and it’s obvious they’re going to keep playing until their body won’t let them anymore. I’ve gotten some great feedback on it form ball players as well as people who just dig the design.

Pelican Bat Wax 1Pelican Bat Wax 2

6) The Pelican Bat & Board wax. Explain what made you decide to make such a product. Has there been a good amount of interest in this so far? I know this definitely caught my eye as I have a good amount of friends who both surf and play Baseball.

I was just thinking about how both baseball and surfing have this act where you apply something to your bat or your board for traction. They both have this is in common and its part of the sport. I was holding a bar of Tiger Stick and was like, ‘shit I can make this stuff and it will be fun to include on orders.’ I started getting a lot of positive feedback on the bat wax and decided to jump it up a notch and actually develop a product for sale. I was originally going to have a universal bat & board wax but I decided to formulate the wax for baseball. Surf wax is up next. I just released the bat wax today.

7) What would you say are the Pelican product(s) you are most proud of so far?

I’d honestly have to say the Bat Wax. It was a super fun process. I got to meet and connect with a lot of players because of it and I had a great time developing it based off feedback I got from them. It was two different projects in one. I had to design and print the packaging and then develop the formula for the wax itself. I made well over 30 batches to get it where it is now and I’m super juiced on it. If I only sell 2 bars, I’m still glad I invested the time and molar into putting it out.

8) As someone who grew up going to punk and hardcore shows, I must say that I was delighted to see the Swingin’ Utters print you did last year. Have you done prints for other bands that you were genuinely excited about?

I did a Hot Water Music poster but I didn’t do anything with it. I just finished building my press and was so excited to print on it so I designed the Swingin’ Utters poster and cranked it out. I would love to get back into the gig poster game but its going to require some time off from printing commercially.

Pelican Print Shop Seals Shirt

9) What does the future hold for Pelican Print shop? Anything Baseball related?

Jeeez I think about this question probably more than anything. Yes more baseball related clothing as well as other items. I’m thinking of making rosin bags next and some other accessory type items and I’m going to continue to keep working on my new site for all this stuff, pelicansportshop.com. I love baseball and really want to make a brand that’s for the amateur player as well as the professional and kinda revolves around the sport rather then just team names and colors. I think this next year will be exciting!

10) Any last words?

Keep checking back at pelicansportshop.com for baseball related items and pelicanprintshop.com for screen printing services! Ummmm… I just listened to the Romance of Helen Trent by The Killing Tree and I just remembered that its probably one of the best records of all time and… yeah I think thats it. Thanks so much for the questions! I really enjoyed going through all of them and am psyched you’re into what I’m doing over here at Pelican. You da man!

Please check out and support Pelican at the links above and while you’re at it, visit their official Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

 
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