Showing posts from October, 2023

Rewind 2023: Revisiting My First Baseball Day of the Year

By the end of this week, the World Series will be over and we'll have officially entered the off-season.  So, it's time to start looking back on some images that reflect what I took in during 2023.   To start, flip the calendar back to March 30th, at Syracuse Mets media day.  The sky and the trees say that we're somewhere between winter and spring.  There's a freshness in the air and promise of games and achievements to come.  Having lost a Wild Card round series the previous fall, the Mets felt close, very close to making a strong run.  While the roster was built around veterans such as Verlander, Scherzer, Alonso and Lindor, some of the organization's top prospects were also knocking at the door. Especially Francisco Alvarez .  Just 21 and coming off a tremendous minor league season -- that earned a five-game big league debut -- he likely came into spring training expecting to be named the Mets everyday catcher, especially after the veteran James McCann was dealt

If Your Birthday is October 27th...

Image share it with the greatest home run hitter in Forbes Field history.  Ralph Kiner smacked 301 in a Pirates uniform   and made history leading the National League in homers in each of his first seven seasons. Two stadiums later, the Pirates honor Ralph's Pittsburgh legacy with this large plaque at PNC Park. A back injury cut his career short after just a decade -- but his baseball story was just beginning.  After a year behind a White Sox microphone, he signed as the ex-player to join play by play voices Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy in the Mets booth.  The legendary trio spent 17 years together, while Ralph, who concentrated on TV from 1982 on, called Mets games for a total of 53 years. Less polished than his broadcast partners, Kiner's occasional malaprops, if anything, made him more lovable.  Calling the Mets catcher Gary Carter, "Gary Cooper" or  “On Father’s Day, we again wish you all Happy Birthday,” added an everyman quality that rivaled Yogi Berra.   Gro

On This Date in 1986...

"A little roller up along 1st... behind the bag, it gets through Buckner... here comes Knight and the Mets win it!" The dramatic, yet simple call of the great Vince Scully, as the Mets capped a remarkable bottom of the 10th inning rally to stun the Red Sox 6- 5 and send the World Series to a seventh and deciding game. Ranking with the greatest post-season games ever, the Red Sox jumped off to the early lead, with Dwight Evans and Marty Barrett driving in runs in the 1st and 2nd innings.  The Mets pulled even in the 5th, only to have Boston move back on top in the 7th -- but were held to just one run when Mookie Wilson nailed Jim Rice, trying to score on a Rich Gedman single to end the inning.  Gary Carter's 8th inning sacrifice fly forced extra innings. Dave Henderson homered off Rick Aguilera leading off the top of the 10th; the Sox tacked on an insurance run on a Marty Barrett single. Boston up two; three outs to go before the "curse" would be broken and the R

If Your Birthday is October 20th...

Image share it with Juan Marichal .  The greatest pitcher in San Francisco Giants punched his ticket to Cooperstown with 243 career victories -- including four consecutive 20-victory seasons (1963-'66).   The year before, he won 18 as the Giants grabbed their first pennant on the West Coast, outlasting the Dodgers in a three-game playoff and starting  game four of the Fall Classic , where he twice struck out Mickey Mantle -- with whom he shares October 20th .  It was the only time those two legends faced each other! Unfortunately for Marichal, his game -- as it turned out, the only World Series appearance of his career -- was cut short in the top of the 5th inning, when he smashed his thumb on a bunt attempt.  That, after tossing four shutout innings and holding the eventual champs to just two hits and two walks.  The Giants never made it back to the World Series during Juan's time in San Francisco. Mantle never had that problem.  As familiar an October presence as a Hallowee

On This Date in 1977...

Reggie Jackson laid claim to the nickname Mister October, blasting three home runs as the Yankees pounded the Dodgers 8-4 to claim their first World Series championship since 1977 (winning in six games).  Joining Babe Ruth as the only players with three homers in a World Series game, Reggie connected off Burt Hooten, Elias Sosa and Charlie Hough to make history before a sellout crowd of 56,407. 15 years after their previous title -- which featured beloved names such as Mantle, Maris, Howard and Skowron -- the Yankees were finally back on top! ( My image of Jackson is from the Yankees 2015 Old Timers Day .)  

Birthday Blast

Bryce Harper had a heck of a birthday celebration -- with 45,000 of his best friends joining him!  On the night he turned 31, the Phillies 1st baseman (seen here at the opening ceremonies for NLCS Game 3 in 2022) homered in the bottom of the 1st to further ignite the Citizens Bank Park crowd -- and make a little history -- en route to a 5-3 opening game win over the Diamondbacks. According to, Harper became just the fourth player ever -- joining Kolten Wong (2015 NLDS, Game 2),  Evan Longoria (2013 ALDS, Game 3) and  Willie Aikens (1980 World Series, Game 1) to homer on his birthday in the post-season .   Call it a unique and incredibly rare combination of talent and luck.  Hall of Famers such as Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron (born in February), Reggie Jackson and Yogi Berra (born during May) never had the chance to do so.  But with Harper -- born 10/16/1992 -- having already claimed a place as a post-season difference-maker, his feat Monday night surprised absolutely

Sending the Braves Home

The Phillies might have finished 14 games behind the Braves in the NL East,  but they entered the post-season brimming with confidence.  Fresh off a two-game Wild Card series sweep of the Marlins, they were primed for a Division Series rematch with Atlanta.  And just like 2022, the Phillies prevailed in four games, clinching last night in a tension-packed 3-1 victory. The standout performances begin with  Nick Casetellanos , who made history -- the first player ever with two homers in back-to-back post-season games.  Schmidt never did it, neither did Ruth or Mantle or Reggie.  (And hat tip to Matt Gelb of The Athletic: over the course of the series, Castellanos outhomered the entire Braves roster!) The defensive moment belonged to the rookie center fielder  Johan Rojas :  a running catch at the jut-out of the center field wall, robbing Ronald Acuna Junior with the bases loaded in the 7th inning to snuff out a bases-loading threat.  Remember that famous quote by broadcaster Ralph Kiner:

Vintage Phillies Merch

Since it is  #WaybackWednesday ... yesterday, while putting a box of souvenir tee shirts away for the winter, this one caught my eye.  I bought it during my final visit to The Vet -- a Labor Day 2003 makeup game against the Red Sox.  Marlin Byrd leading off for Larry Bowa's crew,  followed by Jimmy Rollins,  Bobby Abreu, Mike Lieberthal, Jim Thome and Pat Burrell.  Rookie Chase Utley, Tomas Perez and the pitcher's spot rounded out the order.  Memories! (Not the greatest of days for the Phils, who were outscored 13-9 by Boston.) Bringing it back to the present, NLDS Game Three tonight at Citizens Bank Park as the Phils look to re-take control of the series.

If Your Birthday is October 6th...

Image share it with Phillies 2nd baseman Bryson Stott .  A promising rookie shortstop a year ago, he upped his game after sliding over to make room for free agent Trea Turner.  Raising his batting average 55 points, he joined his middle infield partner as a threat on the bases, with 31 steals.  He enjoyed his biggest moment so far Wednesday night, when his majestic grand slam broke open the clinching Wild Card Series game against the Marlins and had Citizens Bank Park shaking with joy.   Also in our October 6th birthday circle: Ruben Sierra, best known for his 10 seasons with the Texas Rangers, where he was a three time All Star and runner up for the 1989 AL MVP. Jerry Grote , who spent 12 years as the Mets catcher and trusted battery mate to future Hall of Famers Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan. Jay Baller, the Oregon-born hurler who pitched briefly with the 1982 and '92 Phillies. In between, he was a Cub for three seasons and a Royal for one,

Good Omen?

On Wednesdays, I generally post "This Date in History" features, linking photos with games or events worth remembering.   So, while looking at the game that took place on this night in 1983, it instantly connected with last night's Phillies victory over the Marlins in the Wild Card Series opener. Alec Bohm 's 3rd inning RBI double opened the scoring as the Phils rolled to a 4-1 victory.  40 years earlier, another Philadelphia 3rd baseman opened the scoring in their first game of the post-season.  Of course, things were a bit different -- teams only needed to win one round to reach the World Series.  And Mike Schmidt 's solo homer in the top of the 1st at Dodger Stadium carried far more weight -- it proved to be the only run of the night, with Steve Carlton and Al Holland holding off L.A. 1-0 Philadelphia 3rd baseman, then and now... playoff series openers 40 years apart.  And opening game victories that were the first steps toward the World Series.

Random Images

Did Austin Wells win first dibs to be the Yankees 2024 catcher with a strong last two weeks?  Recalled at the beginning of September, the club's 1st round pick from 2018 started slowly before hitting the gas in his last 11 games, batting .317 with four homers, 10 RBI and an OPS of 1.065 .  Do I hear the names Kevin Maas and Shane Spencer ringing in my memory bank?  Or is he the right player in the right situation, with organizational lifer Kyle Higashioka eligible for free agency and 2022 All Star Jose Trevino recovering from hand surgery (and never holding offensive potential like Wells)? (Below) Is Weston Wilson about to win the 2023 Cinderella Award? After a breakthrough AAA season with 30 homers and 30 steals as he turned 29, the career minor leaguer -- who'd made waves by homering in his first big league at bat for the Phillies in August -- has apparently jumped past Rodolfo Castro to be a reserve player in the Wild Card round.  He only helped his chances Sunday with ano