Showing posts from July, 2022

Baseball Birthdays

Today, July 29th , doesn't include any Hall of Famers... but features several players worth noting: Jack Suwinski, the Pirates rookie outfielder who emphasizes power over batting average. While hovering around the .200 mark, he's already belted 14 homers. Chad Billingsley won 83 games in his eight seasons (2006-'13) pitching for the Dodgers. His best year was 2008, when he won 16 games and struck out 201. Luis Alicea spent 13 seasons in the majors. Known for his good defense, he broke in with the Cardinals and later played for four American league teams. Dan Driessen played on three 1970s pennant winners and two World Series champions with the Reds... and ended his career as a bench player on the '87 NL champion Cardinals. The lifetime .267 hitter also owns a "famous first": the first National Leaguer to be a Designated Hitter in a World Series game (1976 vs. the Yankees). Felix Mantilla  broke in with the Braves back-to-back pennant winners of 1957 and &#

Not Quite There

Jacob deGrom wasn't in prime form as he made what he hopes will be his final rehab start. Over four innings and 67 pitches for the Syracuse Mets, he was tagged for a pair of second inning home runs -- by Royals prospects Brewer Hicklen ( closeup below ) and Drew Waters -- and walked three, while striking out six.  To be fair, the former Cy Young winner calmed down and was dominating in the 3rd and 4th innings, but the damage had already been done (the Omaha Stormchasers went on to a 10-4 win ). Below, Walters, connecting, then following the flight of his ball...  As it soard toward and past the pole. From that point on, deGrom looked his old self, retiring seven straight Omaha batters -- including Royals catcher Salvador Perez (also on a rehab assignment), in a rematch of the 2015 World Series. Only one question was left: after 67 pitches over four innings, would deGrom take (the mound for) the 5th?  The answer was no, as his day ended with more questions than answers:  Does he app

Remembering Paul Sorvino

A talented artist and passionate baseball fan, the former Law & Order co-star died today at age 83.  I had the pleasure of meeting him at a Jackie Robinson-related event in New York back in 2016, which he debuted this sculpture he'd created of the Dodgers legend.    Learn more Paul's baseball connection at:

If Your Birthday is July 22nd...

Image share it with  Jake Barrett , a righthanded relief pitcher who appeared in parts of three seasons (2016-'18) with the Diamondbacks, and a pair of 2019 games with the Yankees. Fortunately, I was on hand to see him work against the Twins three years ago on May 4th. As an aside, on a team that's retired over 20 numbers, no one has laid claim to 36 for very long. Of the more than 50 Yankees donning the "triple dozen," it might be most closely associated with pitcher David Cone and Hall of Famer Johnny Mize, who spent only part of their careers in pinstripes. Barrett shares his birthday with a far more famous Yankee reliever.  Sparky Lyle : the lefty who won the 1977 Cy Young Award and was famous for riding in from the bullpen in a Datsun subcompact -- whose ad slogan "Datsun Saves" was redubbed in his honor as "Sparky Saves." After coming to the Yankees in a lopsided trade for Danny Cater, Lyle twice led the AL in saves (1972 and '76). Jos


After jump-starting the American League offense with a game-tying two-run homer, Giancarlo Stanton was named the MVP of last night's All Star Game.  The choice came down to the Yankees right fielder/DH or the Twins' Byron Buxton, who followed Stanton's blast with one of his own. That 3-2 victory at Dodger Stadium made it nine straight for the "junior circuit." Seen here on a chilly April night in 2018, Stanton became just the third Yankee in 60 years to win ASG MVP honors -- the award wasn't established until 1962, thus denying Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle in his prime a chance to be so honored. So the L.A. native, who enjoyed recalling boyhood visits to Dodger Stadium, where he sat in the same pavilion in which he planted his home run, joins Hall of Famer Yankees Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter in that select circle. As the season begins its second half, based on being named ASG MVP, can we predict that Stanton will do from now through the first week of

The Legend Continues to Build

There is absolutely no way Matt Carpenter could have imagined that five years after I captured this 2017 image, he'd call Yankee Stadium home -- and he'd be New York's favorite newcomer! Since I haven't yet been to a Yankee game this year, I'll have to make do with these photos of Carpenter from his Cardinal days. Most likely the hottest hitter not going to the All Star Game, Matt made history Saturday night against the Red Sox when he homered twice -- becoming the first Yankee ever with 13 home runs in his first 30 games, as well as the first with 13 homers in his first 20 starts. Think about it: he outpaced some pretty impressive company, beloved names ranging from Ruth and DiMaggio, to Mantle, Maris and Jackson. The last time a former Cardinal did this well in a Yankee uniform late in his career might've been Hall of Famer Johnny Mize -- but he sandwiched in six years with the Giants in between his time in St. Louis and the Bronx.  

If Your Birthday is July 15th...

Image share it with Mark Appel , the onetime first-overall draft pick whose long and winding road took him nine years to reach the majors. A college standout at Stanford, he was selected by the Astros in 2013, traded to the Phillies two years later where injuries and ineffectiveness led to his walking away from the game in 2018. A year ago, he mounted a comeback in the Phillies system, which paid off in his promotion last month to the big leagues. Ramon Laureano  made history August 3rd, 2018 when he made his major league debut: he's the first Athletics player (in any of the franchise's three home cities) with a walk-off RBI hit as their first major league hit. Arbitration-eligible next year (though he won't be a free agent until 2025), he could be on the trade block -- though his value could be impacted by the 80-game PED suspension he served which cost him parts of the '21 and '22 seasons. Among the other players born July 15th, we see some familiar names, such a

Baseball History

July 12th, 1921: Babe Ruth becomes baseball's all time leading home run hitter. He clears the fence twice off Dixie Davis to pass previous record-holder Roger Connor's total of 136, in the Yankees 6-4 win over the Browns at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. By the time he retired in 1935, the Babe's total would become the iconic number of 714 -- a record that would stand for 39 years until broken by Henry Aaron. As an aside, if you follow the Yankees to Baltimore for a couple or three games, be sure to visit the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum, just a few blocks from Camden Yards. The rest of this date belongs to pitchers : July 12th, 1975 : Steve Carlton 's 2000th strikeout victim is Wilbur Howard as the Phillies clobber the Astros 14-2  in Houston. Lefty would eventually more than double that total: his 4136 k's are the most ever among southpaws. Speaking of pitchers and milestones timestamped 7/12 : 1901 :  Cy Young won his 300th game, as the Boston Americans bea

All Star Omissions

With only 32 roster spots spread among 15 teams per league, there will always be some deserving players overlooked for the All Star Game.  Still, some decisions come down as head scratchers -- Zach Wheeler front and center. Last year's NL Cy Young runner-up admittedly got off to a slow start.  In this season that began after a lockout and dramatically shortened spring training, the Phillies righthander struggled out of the gate. His first three starts resulted in losses; in two of them, he was hit hard. But from his fourth start (April 28th) on, Wheeler has been as good as he was in 2021. Per 13 appearances, an 8-1 record, 93 strikeouts in 82 innings and an E-R-A of 1.53.  Sure looks like an All Star to me. A few other standouts who got the short end of the stick: Ty France : the Mariners 1st baseball has followed his breakout 2021 season with the second-best offensive numbers for any American Leaguer at his position. 10 homers, 45 RBIs and a .379 on-base p

If Your Birthday is July 8th...

Image share it with  Hector Lopez . The valuable utilityman was one of many important Yankees who came to the Bronx via Kansas City -- in his case, along with Ralph Terry -- in a mid-season 1959 deal. Whether it was playing 3rd base, platooning with Yogi Berra in left field or filling in for an ailing Mantle or Maris, Lopez was one of the Yankees of my youth. Never a big star, but just the kind of fourth outfielder that contenders always need. As the Yankees first Panamanian player, Hector helped mint legions of Yankee fans in his home country. And he's been a fixture at Old Timers Games since his retirement after the 1966 season. Kevin Russo played just over 30 games with the Yankees, but left his mark in regular season Subway Series history: On May 8th, 2010, his two-RBI double provided all the scoring in a 2-1 win over the Mets. Josh Harrison has spent over a decade in the majors as valued utility player. After breaking in with the Pirates, the Cincinnati native is with the W

On This Date: Cardinals Managerial Changes

July 6th, 1990: Whitey Herzog steps down after 10 seasons with the Redbirds. After three pennants and a World Series championship in 1982, things had changed around Busch Stadium since owner Gussie Busch's passing the year before.  Stuck in last place with a roster loaded with potential free agent defectors and playing erratic sloppy ball, Herzog leaves as the second winningest manager in Cardinals history. While one St. Louis baseball era ended on July 6th, another one began on this date. In 1961, with the ballclub in 6th place, 14-1/2 games back of the pacesetting Reds, Solly Hemus is replaced by coach Johnny Keane (who'd served the organization as a coach minor league player and manager for 30 years). While his  tenure got off to a slow start, with Cards falling 10-1 that night to Don Drysdale and the Dodgers, Keane would lead St. Louis back to the top of the National League. Just three years later, he'd be in the dugout as the franchise broke an 18 year drought, winning

On this 4th of July

 From the current Yankee Stadium 's preview on April 2nd, 2009.

If Your Birthday is July 1st...

Image share it with Ron Marinaccio , one of several young Yankee relievers who have emerged this season. A 19th round draft pick from the U of Delaware, the Jersey Shore native has struck out more than a batter an inning since being promoted to the Bronx. Nelson Cruz  , the late blooming slugger who spent time in the Mets, A's and Brewers farm systems before becoming a star with the Rangers at age 28. With more than 450 career homers as he turns 42 -- but just seven this season as time seems to have finally caught up with him -- Cruz might have been a Cooperstown candidate. But a 2013 suspension for using PED's will likely keep him out of the Hall. Charlie Blackmon also waited until his late 20s for his career to kick into high gear. The bushy bearded outfielder has been a solid performer during the last decade in Colorado, highlighted by 2018 when he led the National League in batting and doubles.  Craig Anderson holds a forever place in Mets history. Actually, several. The