Babe vs Big Train. Van Slyke & Bonds. Dom & Joe. The Babe in Brooklyn. Dick vs. Philly.
1942. During WWII, a benefit game at Yankee Stadium placed retired players Babe Ruth and Walter Johnson against each other for one last showdown. Ruth was now 48 years old Johnson was 55 years old. So awesome.
As a kid I LOVED Andy Van Slyke. He was without a doubt one of my favorite players as he was one of the guys who rarely left the field with a clean uniform, was a great hitter, and had one of the must unbelievable arms I have ever seen. Well as a kid my dislike Barry Bonds started before he joined the Giants due to his attitude with the media and for brushing Van Slyke off during the 1992 NLCS and effectively losing the game for Pittsburgh. Let’s just say the Pirates have not really had an ounce of success since that game. The photo above is from right after Sid Bream scored. Andy doesn’t look too happy and if I remember correctly he sat there like this in Centerfield for quite a while. Here is Van Slyke setting the record straight about the incident:
Q: There’s an urban legend in Pittsburgh that, from center field, you tried to wave Barry in to play more shallow in left before Francisco Cabrera’s famous game-winning hit in the 1992 NLCS.
Van Slyke: That’s not a legend, that is not a rumor, that is an absolute, 100-percent, truth that I did.
Q: Was he just ignoring you?
Van Slyke: I always felt that I got a sixth sense on the field that, as an outfielder, I had these premonitions that seemed to come true about half the time. I just felt, given when I saw, that Cabrera was going to hit the ball to left field and nowhere else. Based on scouting reports, based on the count, and that he had just ripped the ball down the left-field line foul when it was 2-0. I was trying to make Barry move in to not let the winning run score from second. He chose to ignore me. Now, if he had moved in two steps, I don’t know if it would have made a difference. I’ll never know that. It might have been a harder play for him because the ball was hit to his left a little.
Q: Maybe he could have trusted you?
Van Slyke: Barry was a great player. It’s sort of like, dealing with Barry made me a greater player in center. But also, it was sort of like being a catcher with a pitcher. He made the last decision. He chose not to move. The unfortunate thing was, if the ball had been hit 10 more feet to his right, I have no question he would have thrown out Sid Bream.
God, Bonds is such a dick. For the rest of the interview, click HERE. Van Slyke is a very entertaining dude and it’s worth reading the entire thing.
Dom DiMaggio of the Boston Red Sox along with brother Joe of the Yankees. While everyone knows that Joe was incredible in so many ways, Dom often lived in the shadows of Joe but he in fact had an incredible career. He played in Boston for 11 seasons during his career which would have been 14 seasons if not for the WWII, was a 7 time All-Star, had a career average of .298, and was one of the fastest and smartest base runners of his time. Oh yeah, the oldest brother Vince was awesome also and had a great Baseball career. Their parents must have been extremely proud.
Babe Ruth in 1938 as First Base Coach of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
1969. Dick Allen played his final season of his first stint with the Philadelphia Phillies. Allen had become extremely unhappy in Philly due to racism from fans and the local media turning on him. He demanded a traded which he was promised after the season was over. When the hometown fans booed him, he took to writing messages in the dirt back which everyone (players, umpires, fans) loved and thought was clever…with the exception of the Phillies upper management who demanded he stop which of course he didn’t. Oh yeah, he wore a helmet in the field for the rest of his career after fans would throw batteries, bolts, and other things at him. Let’s just say Allen had a rough time in Philly and dealing with racism of the 1960’s which still was very much heavy in Baseball. I have said it once before and I will say it again, I think Allen is a Hall of Famer and that anyone who has the slightest interest in Baseball should read his autobiography “Crash, The Life and Times of Dick Allen,” by Dick Allen & Tim Whitaker.