Saturday, June 24, 2006

June 24th, 1988

Doug Jones Born

Last November I did a story on Matt Lawton, who had what could only be described as a terrible birthday. On this day in 1988, Doug Jones had his thirty-first birthday, but unlike Lawton, he enjoyed his. For one thing, Doug--still in the top twenty all-time for career saves--nailed down the save in the Indians' 7-5 win over the Yankees. The save was doubly good because not only did it secure the Indians' victory, it also was Doug's fourteenth save in fourteen straight appearances. That topped the Major League record set by Steve Bedrosian just the season before.

A thirty-first birthday, a record breaking save and a team victory. Add in a nice slice of cake, and Doug had a pretty good birthday.

Friday, June 23, 2006

June 23rd, 2006


One of the nicer things about the increased audience for the blog--topped 18,000 yesterday, many thanks as always--is that people write in and fill in details of stories I would otherwise never know. This happened earlier this month with the help of Scott Sanders. Today we have another update, one that answers one of my famous "What the hell...?" entries: Joe Cicero. As that entry reveals, Joe "Dody" Cicero had a brief career that included bits of three decades: 1929, 1930 and 1945. At the time I speculated that perhaps Cicero's relation to Clark Gable had something to do with his returning to the Majors in 1945.

As it turned out, I was way off, as I know now thanks to an e-mail from a reader. Baseball was actually not Cicero's best sport (as a quick glance at his statistics indicates) but rather football. During the baseball off-season, Cicero returned to Canada and played football there, apparently making more money than he did playing baseball. When his football career ended, Cicero went into scouting for Connie Mack which makes his 1945 appearance logical, given it came for the Philadelphia A's, Mack's club. Clark Gable, as you might've guessed, had nothing to do with it.

Cicero apparently retired to Panama shortly thereafter (Mack left the A's in 1950, so perhaps Cicero went with him) and he lived until 1983 when he died in Florida. So many thanks to my readers for their help solving mysteries, and if you think you can be of service (or if I can do something for you, I'm unemployed these days with lots of free time), please don't hesitate to contact me via the address on the left.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

June 22nd, 1978

Anthony Ferrari Born

As much as that sounds like a mobster, or maybe a porn star, Anthony Ferrari was, in fact, a pitcher. Now admittedly not much of one; he only appeared in four games, for a total of four innings, with the 2003 Expos, and managed only a 6.75 ERA. Like I said, not much of a pitcher. But he does have a pretty good name going for him, so that's something.

He's not, of course, the best pitcher with a car name, that title belongs (and presumably will for quite a while) to Whitey Ford. There have been a fair number of Fords in the Majors over the years, but oddly enough one could probably make a rotation solely out of car names. Headed by the Chairman of the Board, the second starter would be Joe Benz who posted a 2.43 ERA (119 ERA+) over nearly 1400 innings with the White Sox in the teens. The quality heads down a bit after that, the third starter would be Sam Dodge who pitched seven innings with a 5.14 ERA for the Red Sox in the early thirties while Anthony Ferrari would be the number four. Finally, and this is only cheating a bit, the fifth starter is of slightly better quality, but we'll keep Don Carman, he of the career4.11 ERA in a little over nine hundred innings, in the fifth spot.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

June 21st, 1998

Reds at Astros

Although I do enjoy constructing a well put together blog, with meticulous (or at least some) research, a bit of my own humor thrown in and an enjoyable conclusion, there is also a certain joy in blogs which pretty much write themselves. I don't mean blogs that almost literally write themselves, like this past Saturday's or ones which quite literally do write themselves as in my guest writers, but rather stories which are basically complete, joke and all, and leave me only to put them out there.

Such is today's Reds-Astros game. It was largely an underwhelming game. The Astros, winners of 102 games that season, predictably triumphed over the Reds, losers of eighty-five, by a three-one score, the go-ahead run scoring on a bases-loaded double-play, of all things. This is the kind of game that even someone like me would find unremarkable, except for the Reds starting outfield. In left field was current-Tiger (and Betty Ford clinic resident) Dimitri Young, while center was manned by Mike Frank who had more first names (two) than years in the Majors (one). Rounding out the group was Chris Stynes, for whom I don't have a joke.


Moving right along however, Mel Brooks fans among you will recognize the delightful outfield that manager Jack McKeon had (presumably) unwittingly assembled. Young, Frank and Stynes. It's a shame that Juan "Igor" Gonzalez wasn't involved, because then we could all observe, once and for all, that's it's pronounced "eye-gor."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

June 20th, 1995

Kevin Maas Plays Final Game

These five things and these five things alone do I know about Kevin Maas:

(1) Came up to the Yankees in 1990 and suddenly starting hitting piles of home runs--one every twelve at-bats--making him, at age twenty-five, the "Baby Bomber."
(2) Just as suddenly stopped hitting piles of home runs and more-or-less immediately ceased being a useful ballplayer.
(3) Played only one full season as a regular.
(4) Mentioned in Michael Lewis' Moneyball as an example of what happens to hitters when they fail to adjust to pitchers adjusting to them.
(5) In the "Family Album" of Yankee Yearbooks in the early 1990s, Kevin was always pictured standing alone, suggesting that hitting piles of home runs and then suddenly not hitting them makes for a lonely existence.

Monday, June 19, 2006

June 19th, 1957

Bob Gibson Born

I've written before on people with the same name as great players. The thing about those names is that they almost entirely came either before or simultaneously with the player who made the name famous. Now admittedly the parents of Robert Louis Gibson can't be blamed; they didn't know their son was going to grow up to be a Major League pitcher and the Bob Gibson hadn't even made his MLB debut in 1957. So this one is all on Bob.

And the question must be asked, then: Why Bob, Why? Robert is a fine name all on its own, and one that leads to plenty of nicknames. You could've been Robert Gibson, or Bobby Gibson or Rob Gibson. And Louis isn't a bad name either. Louis Gibson. Or Louie Gibson. Both good. Instead you chose to give yourself the same nickname as one of the greatest post-war pitchers who ever lived. That's a tough comparison for any pitcher not named "Clemens" or "Pedro." And this Bob Gibson isn't exactly on that level.

He finished his career with a 12-18 record and 4.24 ERA over five mediocre seasons. Gibson did once earn eleven saves in 1985. That was the best year of Gibson's career, as he posted a 3.90 ERA in ninety-two and one-third innings. That's forty earned runs, which is indicative of just how badly Gibson suffers in comparison to the Bob Gibson. In his best season the Gibson threw three hundred four and two-thirds innings and gave up thirty-eight runs. That's a 1.12 ERA, of course. All of which, you see, is why Bob really, really should've been smart enough to be Louis Gibson.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

June 18th, 2005

Cubs at Yankees

This was part of the Cubs' first trip to Yankee Stadium since they had been swept during the 1938 World Series, losing the two games at Yankee Stadium by a combined score of thirteen to five. This series treated the Cubs not much better as they were again swept, losing by a combined twenty-three to ten score. Throw in the 1932 World Series (also a Yankee sweep) and the Cubs have never won a game at Yankee Stadium and been outscored fifty-three to twenty-three. That's roughly an average of seven and a half to three. Ouch.

Anyway, today's game was notable for something more than the eight to one beating the Yankees put on the Cubs. Five of those eight runs were driven in by Derek Jeter, with four of them coming on a grand slam. That was the story of the day because it represented Jeter's first career grand slam. Jeter had previously come to the plate one hundred fifty-five times with the bases juiced, and while he was no slouch, he had never hit a grand slam. With the slam--off one-time Cubs' closer Joe Borowski--Jeter not only took himself off the top of the list for most plate appearances without a grand slam, but also as the player with most homers without a grand slam.

I enjoyed that, of course, but what I really enjoyed was a relatively minor point. The television play-by-play man on the YES Network is Michael Kay. Kay isn't an awful announcer, but he has some flaws (notably his belief that any fly ball hit out of the infield should be called "deep"). I don't know if this was a passion of Kay or one of his producers but every time Jeter came up with the bases loaded a graphic would appear noting Jeter's position at the top of the list and they would have a discussion of the issue, usually centering on the inevitability of Jeter hitting one someday. Kay was no doubt looking forward to calling the granny, maybe then showing the graphic with Jeter no longer at the top of the list, things like that. The only problem with this was that the Cubs and Yankees were a marquee match-up, and on Saturday afternoon marquee match-ups are national games. So while Michael Kay sat at home, watching the game on Fox, Joe Buck got to call Derek Jeter's first grand slam.

Sorry, Michael.

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