Saturday, July 08, 2006

July 8th, 1948

Lerrin LaGrow Born

That sounds like a made-up name to me, although I'm at a loss for what kind of situation would prompt one to make up a name like that. Despite having done some research, I can find no explanation for the origins of the name, but if there are any Lerrins out there who want to enlighten me, I'm listening. As for the last name, this is just a guess, but it might be an Anglicization of LeGros, a relatively more common last name albeit one that rather unfortunately translates from the French as "The Fat One." Perhaps changing it to LaGrow wasn't a bad idea.

Moving right along, Lerrin LaGrow is probably most famous as the man who hit Bert Campaneris in the 1972 ALCS which prompted "Campy" to throw his bat at LaGrow in retaliation; both were ejected for their trouble. LaGrow's best years were still ahead of him then; he was the closer for the White Sox in 1977 and 1978. His best year was the first of the pair, throwing nearly a hundred innings at a 2.46 ERA, while recording twenty-five saves and seven wins. He was generally not too great a pitcher, however, losing as many as nineteen games in a season and finishing with a career 4.11 ERA.

After his retirement LaGrow returned to his native Phoenix and now works for the "Ler'rin Company," sporting a delightful

Friday, July 07, 2006

July 7th, 1995

Al Unser Dies

Earlier this year, I did an entry on Terry Bradshaw the mediocre baseball player as opposed to the Hall of Fame quarterback. Today we come to Al Unser, the mediocre ballplayer as opposed to the all-time great race car driver. (Having done some research, I can report that Unser is actually a member of not one, but two racing Hall of Fames, so I guess he can be described as Hall of Fame race car driver.) Baseball Al Unser was actually a pretty decent minor league player, winning an MVP for the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association in 1951 but as a Major League player he simply wasn't very good. Playing in the World War II years, Unser managed just a career .251 average and 90 OPS+ across almost four hundred plate appearances.

Al Unser is nearly the only prominent racing name to occur at the highest levels--shocking, I know, that there has never been a Major Leaguer named Arie Luyendyk. There was a Jessie Lee Petty, who shared his middle and last names with the patriarch of NASCAR's Petty racing dynasty, but he went by Jesse instead of Lee. The man some consider to be the best "natural racer" of all-time, Scotsman Jim Clark, shares his name with three highly mediocre players, but he represents the exception rather than the rule. The ultimate example of that exception, however, remains Al Unser.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

July 6th, 2004

Twins Hold G.I. Joe Night

You might remember that a while back I did an entry on the Indians holding "Beat Eddie Lopat Night." I mentioned it would never happen these days, in part because they gave out several thousand rabbit feet, which today would cause of a storm of protest. Well, a night like that one hasn't happened in some time, but as if to prove just how right I was, we come to G.I. Joe Night at the Metrodome.

The Twins' intentions in holding the promotion were to honor their local military personnel. That's a noble effort, and frankly, giving out G.I. Joe to the first five thousand children in attendance is a far better idea than wearing a terribly ugly camouflage uniform as the Padres do when honoring local military presence. As usual with well-intentioned ideas, however, problems began almost instantly. Local pro-peace groups began to protest (rather at a Queen Gertrude level, but that's just my opinion) that the dolls were tantamount to supporting war and should therefore not be given out.

Moving swiftly in order to keep a small arm--er, group of peace advocates from protesting outside their stadium, the Twins spoke to Hasbro, the manufacturers, about making some modifications to Joe. When the dolls arrived at the Metrodome, Joe was no longer with gun, his sidearm having been removed. This news assuaged the peace advocates at the time, and the game went on protest-free. The controversy refused to die, however, when it was discovered that while Joe no longer had his sidearm, he was still armed with a hand grenade, a rather more dangerous weapon. With the giveaway over, however, this bit of scandal passed relatively quietly and everyone moved on.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

July 5th, 1985

Mets at Braves Game Ends

This is such a good entry--I named it one of my ten best of 2005--that I would probably be repeating it even without the long weekend leaving me feeling rather drained. I'll be back with all new entries starting tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

July 4th, 1939

Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium

"Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I’m lucky.

When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift - that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies - that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter - that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body - it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed - that’s the finest I know.

So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for."

Monday, July 03, 2006

July 3rd, 1912

Rube Marquard Wins 19th Straight Game

Sorry about the repeats the past few days, Fourth of July promotes many things in me, but the urge to sit inside and blog isn't one of them. I'll be back with original material after the long weekend is over. Until then, enjoy last year's entry.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

July 2nd, 1964

Jose and Ozzie Canseco Born

In honor of the birth of the Canseco twins--to say nothing of Jose's recently rejoining the world of professional baseball--we celebrate their birthday with a look back on other twins, both of the same womb, and of the "played in Minnesota" variety.

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