Saturday, May 20, 2006

May 20th-22nd, 2006

Graduation Weekend

I'm getting my diploma, cum laude in (what else?) History, from The George Washington University this weekend, and then returning to New York, we'll be having a few days off. Blogs will return as normal on Tuesday, the 23rd.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Editor's Note: Hitting sixth in my line-up of guest writers is my friend Evan Drellich, who normally plies his trade as the "typist" for Mister Met, over at Mr. Met's Words of Wisdom. Today he reaches into the wayback file with the sort-of weird story I love.

May 19th, 1893

Billy Nash "Triples"

Robin Ventura's not the only one.

No, Boston Beaneater thirdbaseman Billy Nash didn't stop circling the bases after clearing the fence because a backup catcher who used to be a linebacker nicknamed "Tank" intercepted him, rather, Nash had a more devious (and dubious) plan in mind.

He remained on third base so he could "bother the pitcher." He did eventually score.

The contest between the Beaneaters and the Brooklyn Grooms had been a tight, scoreless affair until that ninth inning, when both teams scored three runs to send the game to extras. Nash homered again in the 10th, fully circling the bases this time, but the Beaneaters would not win until the 12th by a final of 5-4.

Luckily for Nash, he did eventually cross home, but the logic that his distraction on thirdbase was more valuable than a run is just priceless. Who knows, perhaps in that time pitchers could be shaken more easily. After all, 1893 was the first year that 60-feet 6-inches was estalished as the distance from the mound to home plate--it was a whole different ballgame.

Nash's Beaneaters would go on to an 86-43 record, tops in the National League.

It was three years down the road, however, when Nash would make his most profound impact on baseball: in 1896 he took a brief leave from his Philadelphia Phillies, for whom he was a player-manager, to travel to Fall River, Massachusettes, home of the Fall River Indians, a minor league team. Nash returned with Nap Lajoie.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Editor's Note: Batting in the five hole today is my cousin Joshua. Joshua has in the past written on one of the worst Yankees of all-time (Hideki Irabu) and one of the best (Lou Gehrig). Today he writes on a man who is far closer to the latter than the former, but really, in a category all his own.

May 18th, 1946

Reggie Jackson Born

My memories of Reggie Jackson consist of him wearing a suit and working in the Yankees front office. I’ve never actually seen him play, minus the occasional old timers day games at Yankee Stadium, but the numbers tell the story of a man who was a beast at the plate: 563 career home runs (which ranks him 10th all time), 14 all star appearances, and an AL MVP in 1973. What makes it all the more impressive is that Reggie is the career leader in strikeouts with 2,597. That’s thirteen more career strikeouts that his career hit total.

Most people know Reggie as Mr. October, for his monster performances in playoff games. Reggie still holds up as one of the best clutch playoff hitters of all time and it can be easily argued that he still is the best, though sad to say David Ortiz is making a run for that title. Mr. Octobers’ Hall of Fame
plaque reads “…10 home runs, 24 RBI’s and a .357 batting average in 27games. In 1977 Series, he hit record 5 homeruns, 4 of them in consecutive, including 3 in one game on 3 first pitches off three different hurlers”

Pretty good stuff for a career .262 hitter.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Editor's Note: Filling in today is my friend Sean McNally, a new guest blogger this year. Sean is a journalist by trade, and in his spare time writes the usually excellent "Week in Review" article at Count the Rings. Today he comes in with a story near-and-dear to the hearts of many Yankee fans.

May 17th, 1998

Twins at Yankees

For only the 13th time in modern major league history, a perfect game is tossed as David Wells beats the Twins 4-0 in front of nearly 50,000 fans on Beanie Baby Day at Yankee Stadium.

If there is a less-perfect person to throw a perfect game than David Wells, I’d like to meet him.

Wells entered the year, his final during his first stint with the Yankees, as the poster child for hard partying, perhaps in homage to his idol, Mr. George Herman Ruth.

However, on May 17, 1998 more than 50,000 people jammed the House that Ruth Built, not so much to see the beloved Wells – but for this little guy:

Yup, Valentino the Beanie Baby!

Anyway, the Twins were in town and the teams couldn’t have been headed in more opposite directions. At 27-9, the Yankees were on their way to 114 wins and a march to the World Series. The Twins were 18-23 and on their way to a 70-92 record.

Minnesota wasn’t much of an offensive club, they’d go on to score just 734 runs, just 4.53 runs a game good for 12th in the league and a .266 team batting average that was good for just 11th in the league. In other words, they were patsies. And to make matters better for Boomer – two of their best offensive players: Otis Nixon and Todd Walker didn’t play. Noted Yankee-killer David Ortiz also didn’t get into the lineup, no this was Minnesota’s starting nine:

CF – Matt Lawton
2B – Brent Gates
DH – Paul Molitor
LF – Marty Cordova
1B – Ron Coomer
RF – Alex Ochoa
3B – Jon Shave
CA – Javier Valentin
SS – Pat Meares


The Yankees however countered with:

2B – Chuck Knoblauch
SS – Derek Jeter
RF – Paul O’Neill
1B – Tino Martinez
CF – Bernie Williams
DH – Darryl Strawberry
LF –
Chad Curtis
CA – Jorge Posada
3B – Scott Brosius

A tad bit better lineup, no?

Anyway, it took Wells just two hours and forty minutes to dismantle the Twins – his final line, no walks, no hits, no errors, 11 strikeouts, induced nine flyouts (including Pat Meares’ lazy fly ball to O’Neill in right to end it) and seven groundouts, making him the second man to throw a perfect game in Yankee Stadium history, and the first to do it in the regular season – but that’s a story for another day.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Editor's Note: Batting in the third spot today is my Dad, my mentor as both a writer and baseball fan. Like my mother, my Dad is discussing an O's-Yankees game, but a very different one with a very different perspective.

May 16th, 1965

Orioles at Yankees

I believe that life sends you messages. It is up to each of us to pick up on them. In researching my blog for today I got a message that was hard to miss. The Yankees starting pitcher for this game, Jim Bouton, was born on March 8th 1939 and the game’s winning pitcher, Jim Palmer, of the Baltimore Orioles was born in New York City. The regular writer of this praiseworthy blog was born in New York City on March 8th.

I have always considered the Orioles a more worthy rival for the Yankees than the Red Sox for the simple reason that they have more World Series titles in my lifetime than the BoSox. For the uninformed, we Yankee fans consider anything short of a World Series title a disappointing year (we don’t actually but we like saying it because it annoys other teams’ fans so much). Finally for a brief but quite worrisome period of time it looked like the aforementioned regular writer of this blog would end up an Oriole fan. Obviously I am meant to write of this battle.

The game itself was not a classic. The Orioles starting pitcher, Dave McNally, only lasted 2 and a 1/3 innings giving up 4 runs when Palmer replaced him. Bouton didn’t fare much better lasting only 4 innings also giving up 4 runs but like McNally getting a no decision. Two notable events occurred. Jim Palmer hit the first of his three career home runs off Bouton in the fourth with one out and a man on. Johnny Keane left Bouton in despite this grievous error, a managerial sin that in the Steinbrenner era would have been cause for immediate dismissal. The second event is notable primarily to me for it involves my least favorite Yankee whom I have seen play, Horace Clarke, who came on as a pinch hitter in the 9th and was caught looking at strike three. The Yankees lost 7-5 giving Palmer the first win of his Hall of Fame career.

So is there another message here other than I was meant to write about this game? If you think so contact Richard and let me know.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Editor's Note: Rarely does one see a pinch-hitter coming in for another pinch-hitter. But it has been known to happen. Today, it happens here, as my friend Will Young (keeper of his own always excellent and recently retitled blog) calls upon his fiancee Laurie Sheen to write about her favorite player.

May 15th, 1981

Justin Morneau Born

Happy Birthday Justin Morneau. You have been my favorite player since I really started paying attention to baseball. It all started when I met my fiancee (though he wasn't that at the time). He was a CRAZY Twins fan with all sorts of knowledge about baseball. I wanted to learn more so he said I needed to pick a team. After being with him though a season, I decided to stick with the Twins. I don't know how I noticed Justin, but I did.

He was still in the minors, playing 1st base with a lot better offense than a player who shall only be named "Doug". I was wondering why Justin wasn't playing 1st base, or even called up as a backup. He just kept hitting home runs all the time while Doug was not doing so well at the plate. My fiancee thought it would be funny to get me a Justin shirt before he was even called up.

Then the hightlight of my summer occurred when Justin came to Baltimore to play the Orioles a week after being recalled. I was fortunate enough to be able to use my Uncle's season ticket (about 12 rows behind home plate) for the entire series. It was my opportunity to wear my Justin shirt proudly. The first day of the series I walked up to the dugout to get Justin's autograph, but he was taking batting practice. However, the fellow Canadien was at the dugout and looked at me and said "Is that a Justin shirt?!" I just smiled.

Then Koskie (the fellow Canadien) walked up to Justin and pointed me out. Well, I was Justin's first official fan. I appeared at every game for the rest of the series just to get more signed things from Justin. By the end of that weekend, I had two different t-shirts and a baseball card autographed.

People think that I like Justin for his looks (because I'm a girl), but that is not the reason. I see potential hidden in him. He promised me at TwinsFest this year that he was going to learn how to hit. Well, Justin... when are you going to follow through with your promise? You noticed I cut my hair and I noticed that you still can't lay off the first pitch. So, Justin, on your birthday, lay off the first pitch and hit for the cycle. It would be a great present to you and to me. Happy Birthday Justin Morneau!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Editor's Note: This marks the beginning of my "GradWeek," my last week as a college student before I move out into the big wide world. As such, I will be taking time off to enjoy it, but fear not, as in the past, I've arranged for a series of guest writers to fill the void. Batting lead-off this time is my Mother, most appropriately given what day this is, and writing a most appropriate essay.

Mothers Day, 1956

Orioles at Yankees

This was a Mother’s Day doubleheader at the old Yankee Stadium. Some mothers, myself included, would welcome spending their special day at the ballpark. Many more, however, would not, though this never occurred to my father. As far back as I can remember, his idea of a perfect gift for my mother was something he had his eye on. Over the years my mother unwrapped a steady stream of typewriters, tape recorders, cameras and other gadgets that sat around at home for a few weeks until my father pronounced “I could really use that at the office”, and whisked them away.

So it was not at all surprising that for this mother’s day, my father thought a doubleheader in the Bronx against the Orioles would be a perfect gift. Off we went, my father and I with our Yankee hats – at five, he had already turned me into a lifelong fan – and my mother grappling with my 2 year old brother and all the toddler accoutrements. Perhaps the best thing from my mother’s point of view was that my father always liked to arrive an inning or two after the game started. He knew an usher who would appear at a certain gate and for $2 would lead us all down to the best unoccupied seats in his section.

From my perspective it was a great afternoon. Don Larsen pitched the first game and won, 11-2. I was thrilled with the “autographed” ball my father bought me and I also got one of my favorite souvenirs, a little paper megaphone filled with popcorn. We didn’t make it all the way through the second game, which the Yankees lost, 5-1. My mother decided she had had enough of being a good sport and would prefer to head home and make herself a mother’s day dinner. The rest of us tagged along, tired, sticky and happy.

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