Hanging Up The Spikes: Pops, The Babe, Satchel, Ted and Dizzy.

•November 30, 2015 • 2 Comments


Willie Stargell Listening to the President

September 6th, 1982. An emotional Willie Stargell speaks to President Ronald Reagan in front of a packed house at Three Rivers Stadium. Stargell had announced that 1982 would be his last season and September 6th was dubbed “Willie Stargell Day.” Stargell was honored prior to the game and had his #8 uniform number retired, which he wore proudly as a Pirate for 21 consecutive seasons.  He went 1 for 1 in the game with a single, as a pinch hitter late in the game. Less than a month later, he collected his last career at-bat, also going 1 for 1 with a single in a game against the Expos. (Image Source: Explore PA History)

.

Babe Ruth Final Game

May 30th, 1935. At the age of 40 and now playing for the Boston Braves, Babe Ruth decided to call it quits after an 0 for 1 performance against the Phillies. The Babe pulled himself from the game after making a poor play in the outfield, which resulted in a run scoring. This was a sad and unglamorous end to the most prolific career in the history of the game. It’s almost as if you can see the defeat in Ruth’s face as he sits in the dugout during his last day as a big league ballplayer.

The Babe should’ve hung up his spikes 5 days earlier, after a game with the Pirates where he went 4 for 4, with 3 homeruns. Now that would’ve been fitting and poetic. Ruth ended up finishing his last season in the big leagues with an un-Ruthian .181.359/.431 batting clip, with 6 home runs in 28 games.

.

 Satchel Paige Indianapolis Clowns
From what I can piece together, Satchel Paige last pitched in a professional baseball game in 1967, at the age of 60, with the Indianapolis Clowns. At this point, the Clowns were an independent barnstorming team, and (I believe) were the last team hanging on from the Negro Leagues, with the Monarchs disbanding in 1965.

I can’t find any legitimate photos of Paige from 1967, but I found this photo of him with the Clowns from 1966. While his time with the Clowns in 1967 is the last professional baseball that Paige supposedly played, he did pitch in 1, possibly 2 exhibition games for the Braves during his time as a coach in 1969. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen video or photos of him actually pitching with the Braves. (Image Source: Baseball History Daily)

.

Ted Williams Last Game

In the history of baseball, I’d say that Ted Williams had one of, if not the most memorable last game of a career. This is due to hitting a home run in his last at-bat, which ended up being number 521 of his incredible career.

This famous moment took place on September 28, 1960 and was well documented, as there are both video and photos capturing his last swing. However, when I came across the above photo of Teddy Ballgame taking the field alongside second basemen, Marlan Coughtry, it resonated with more than his home run. Maybe it’s because I’ve never seen this image? Maybe because it’s not glamorous and shows a more “normal” moment of a ballgame? Either way, I love it and I love Ted Williams. (Image Source: Boston Globe)

.

Dizzy Dean Browns 1947

When most people think of Dizzy Dean, they associate him with the Cardinals or maybe even the Cubs. But what about the Browns? It turns out that Ole’ Dizzy’s last hurrah as a player in a the big leagues was with the downtrodden St. Louis Browns, with whom he’d been a broadcaster for since 1941.

On September 28th, 1947, Dizzy left the Browns broadcast booth to play in a game against the White Sox. Dean was supposedly paid only $1 for the game along with a cut of the ticket sales for the day. The last time he had pitched in the big leagues was with the Cubs, so it was safe to say that he was a little rusty. Well, ole’ Dizzy ended up pitching 4 complete innings, where he only allowed 3 hits and no runs. After successfully hitting a single in his first and only at-bat, Dean took himself out of the game after pulling his hamstring. Not bad for a retired 37 year old. (Image Source: Bob Lemke’s Blog)

Remembering Yogi Berra.

•October 9, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Yogi Berra pose
On September 22nd, baseball lost a great ambassador, a great character and one of the greatest players to ever don the tools of ignorance. Many people don’t realize the kind of career that Yogi Berra had and I feel as if his Yogisms and place in pop culture often overshadow his on-field accomplishments. I won’t list everything on his Hall of Fame resume, but after Yogi passed away, I was listening to Buster Olney’s podcast and it was suggested that if you wanted to put Berra’s career into perspective, you can take what Buster Posey has accomplished so far in his career and multiply it by three. I’d say that’s pretty spot on.

Yogi Berra is my favorite catcher of all time and this is reflected in “The Tools Of Ignorance: My Favorite All-Time Catchers,” which I wrote a few years back. Unless you’re a huge Reds fan and Johnny Bench is your guy, I can’t grasp how anyone can not pick Yogi as their all time favorite catcher. Either way, Yogi is one of the most legendary figures to ever step foot on the baseball field and while he was 90 years old and surely lived a full life, he will still be missed by all who love the game of baseball. This one is for you, Yogi. 

.

1947 Yankees Catchers

Aaron Robinson, Ralph Houk and Yogi Berra of the New York Yankees pose for a photo during the 1947 season. Yogi was the youngest catcher of the group and came up as a September call up in 1946, where he played in 7 games and hit .364 with 2 home runs. During his actual rookie season of 1947, Yogi played in 83 games and came in 15th in the American League MVP voting.

.

Yogi Berra Babe Ruth

This photo of a young Yogi Berra shaking hands with Babe Ruth has been one of my favorite baseball photos for years. I’m not sure when this was taken, but I’m thinking it had to be in late 1946 or early 1947, as the Babe doesn’t seem ravished yet by the cancer that would eventually take his life in 1948.

What I love about this photo is that it directly links two generation of Yankee greats. It’s almost as if the Babe knew that Yogi would be the next pillar of Yankee greatness. I can almost imagine the Babe saying “The team is all yours, kid. Make me proud.”

.

Yogi Berra rundown

October 1st, 1953. A great action shot of Yogi Berra in Game 2 of the 1953 World Series getting caught in a rundown in the 6th inning. Everything about this photo is perfect and the fact that it features Pee Wee Reese, Jim Gilliam and Gil Hodges makes even more amazing.

.

1956 World Series, Yogi and Don Larsen

Anyone remotely familiar with baseball history can tell you that this photo is from the 1956 World Series, after Don Larsen made the last out of Game 5, in which he threw his perfect game. This will forever be one of the most iconic moments in baseball history, and when I recently found this photo taken from the side with Joe Collins in the background, I was delighted as I had never seen it before.

.

Yogi Berra Casey Stengel Mets

Yogi wrapped up his playing career after the 1963 season and was quickly hired on as Manager of the Yankees after Ralph Houk was promoted to General Manager. Yogi then proceeded to lead the Yankees to the World Series in 1964, but lost to the Cardinals in 7 games. After the season, he was fired by Houk as he thought that Yogi was not quite ready to manage yet. This seems crazy to me as he lead his team to the American League pennant.

The following season, Berra reunited with his longtime skipper, Casey Stengel as a member of the Mets coaching staff. In addition to coaching, Berra even played in 4 games early in the season before hanging up his cleats for good. Berra ended up being a Mets coach for 7 seasons, until taking over as manager in 1972, after Gil Hodges passed away in Spring Training. Berra managed the Mets until he was fired late in the 1975 season, therefore ending his 11 tenure as a member of the Mets.

.

Yogi Berra Astros Coach

Yogi eventually rejoined the Yankees again as a coach in 1976 to 1983, and then as manager for the 1984 season and the beginning of the 1985 season, before getting unfairly fired by George Steinbrenner 16 games into the season. This lead to Yogi refusing to step foot in Yankee Stadium or be associated with the team for almost 15 years. I don’t care what anyone says, but I never have and never will be a fan of George Steinbrenner and this is one of the MANY reasons why.

Anyways, Yogi was not done with baseball yet and after the 1985 season, he was hired by the Astros as the bench coach under manager Hal Lanier. After Lanier left the team at the end of the 1988 season, Yogi moved over to hitting coach, where he stayed with the team for one more season before retiring after the 1989 season. Maybe it’s because of THIS card from my childhood, but I always thought Yogi looked kind of cool in an Astros uniform.

.

yogi final game at yankee stadium

After Steinbrenner apologized, Berra became a regular at Yankees games and made an impact on many young players over the years, such as Derek Jeter. This photo was taken at his last appearance at old Yankee Stadium and I love it so much. During the last game at Yankee stadium, the team played THIS short video narrated by Yogi, in which he discusses the stadium, it’s legacy and what he experienced there. It’s definitely worth watching as there’s something about it that’s almost tear jerking, especially now that Yogi is gone.

Baseball Quotes.

•September 10, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Miguel Cabrera 24

“I feel like my first year was last year. Sometimes I’m scared because I don’t want to stop playing baseball, you know? I just want to stop aging.”Miguel Cabrera

.

Ted Williams and Jimmy Piersall

“One day a writer in KC said both me and Ted were mentally ill, and Ted (Williams) got up and spat at him. The writer was a fuckin’ prick.”Jimmy Piersall

.

“I can’t get Cubans out; I can’t get anybody out that’s got a vowel at the end of their name.”Bill Lee

.

Ernie Banks

“Awards mean a lot, but they don’t say it all. The people in baseball mean more to me than statistics.” – Ernie Banks

.

Buck Leonard Grays

“We were not disorganized, just unrecognized.”Buck Leonard (on the Negro Leagues)

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.

.

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)

.

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)

.

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)

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

 
%d bloggers like this: