Showing posts from November, 2023

If Your Birthday is November 29th...

Image share it with the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera .  Cooperstown's only unanimous inductee spent 17 years holding baseball's most tension-filled assignment -- nailing down the last three outs of a game.  Those 652 career saves -- p lus 42 more (matching his uniform number) in the post-season -- were part of five Yankee World Championship clubs.   Modest, gracious and always team-first, the native of Panama became so synonymous with the Metallic song "Enter Sandman," that they performed for him when the Yankees celebrated Mariano Rivera Day on September 22nd, 2013. Sharing the date with Mo are longtime Mets 3rd baseman Howard Johnson and the late White Sox Hall of Famer Minnie Minoso , who was born 100 years ago today! While I normally post my Baseball Birthday stories on Friday, how could I overlook the chance to spotlight Mariano Rivera?  

Rewind 2023: Yankee Stadium's Retired Numbers

F rom April 4th, 2023: this panel at Yankee Stadium is always a work in progress.  Every year, players work their way toward future consideration for this forever honor.  If he remains healthy and productive, it's easy to envision Aaron Judge's #99 being added; now that he's won his first Cy Young Award, one could imagine a space to honor Gerrit Cole. I contend that there is at least one other Yankee legend who should be considered.  The trouble is that no one reading this saw him play.  Earle Combs , the original number-one, was the leadoff batter on those iconic clubs led by Ruth and Gehrig.  Because he played before the era of TV (and in the Yanks' case, radio, as well), his exploits never received all the publicity he deserved.  Still, it's hard to overlook a career .325 hitter with a lifetime .397 on-base percentage who led the league in triples three times -- and averaged 17 a season. I understand that sports and marketing are forever linked.  It's easier

On This Date in 2016...

... Vin Scully receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Honored by President Obama in a White House ceremony, the recently retired Voice of the Dodgers joins Hank Aaron, Moe Berg, Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Ted Williams, and Stan Musial as baseball figures to receive the nation's highest civilian honor.   These images are from the Dodgers 2008 celebration marking 50 years in Los Angeles -- highlighted by an exhibition game at their first California home, the L.A. Coliseum, where Vin was the master of ceremonies.

Rewind 2023: Citizens Bank Park

It's about a half-hour before the first pitch on August 11th.  The sun and clouds team up for a compelling sky that provides a warm glow for fans arriving early for the Phillies/Twins game. While I love capturing the action on the field, this is a moment to enjoy the natural beauty working its magic for my lens.

If Your Birthday is November 17th...

Image share it with the late Hall of Famer Tom Seaver.   With the possible exception of Jackie Robinson and Babe Ruth, no player ever changed the destiny of a team more than the Fresno, California-born pitcher.   When he arrived in New York in 1967, the Mets had finished 10th in four of their five seasons and had never come anywhere near even a .500 record.  Uncomfortable with the team's image as lovable losers, Seaver not only set a standard for excellence but focused on erasing the legacy of ineptitude symbolized by "Marvelous Marv" Throneberry.   He exceeded all expectations.  Going 16-13 and winning the Rookie of the Year, he went on to win 20 more games five times and claim three Cy Young Awards, while leading the Mets to a pair of pennants, including their stunning 1969 World Series championship.  311 career victories (198 with the Mets) later, he was named on 425 of 430 ballots when he was voted into Cooperstown in 1992. Nicknamed "The Franchise," it'

On This Date in 2010

Buster Posey  becomes the sixth catcher to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award -- joining Johnny Bench (1968), Earl Williams (1971), Benito Santiago (1987), Mike Piazza (1993), and Geovany Soto (2008).  The sweet-swinging backstop, who helped lead San Francisco to its first World Series championship, would earn two more rings with the Giants (2012 and '14) and retire after the 2021 season as the greatest catcher in franchise history. He's a likely first ballot Hall of Famer when he becomes eligible three years from now. ( Top image of Buster Posey is from a Giants/Mets game at Citi Field in September 2013; below, same place and matchup in April 2016 .)

Rewind 2023: Ottawa Stadium

This story is a riff on the classic Frank Sinatra song, "There Used to Be a Ballpark."  But here, there's a happy ending.  Unlike Ebbets Field, which fell to the wreckers ball two years after the Dodgers moved to L.A., Ottawa Stadium still stands, and is home to another ballclub. Canada's capital city had been home to a Triple A team between 1993 and 2007.  First, serving as the Expos' top farm club, followed next by the Orioles.  When the Phillies took over as the parent club of the Lynx in 2007, complaints arose that Ottawa's stadium was substandard and had inadequate parking.  Soon after, plans were announced the move the team 60 miles from Philadelphia, where a state of the art minor league park was being built (and to be honest, Coca Cola Park is one of the best venues in AAA).  So "affiliated ball" said goodbye to Ottawa at the end of the '07 season.  ( The image below of the Lynx is from a July 2007 game at Pawtucket .)   But baseball cont

If Your Birthday is November 10th...

Image share it with two players who combined for 668 career home runs.  Shawn Green came up with the Blue Jays, before moving on to the Dodgers and Diamondbacks, before closing out with the 2007 Mets, where he's seen in action against the Nationals.  A lefty power hitter,  Green belted 40 or more homers three times, drove in 100 runs four times and scored 100 runs four times.  He ranks as the second most prolific slugger among Jewish players, three fewer than Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg. There are 340 round trippers on the back of Jack Clark 's card.  Seen here at Cardinals spring training camp in 1985, he helped lead St. Louis to a pair of NL pennants in the next three seasons, before signing with the Yankees as a free agent.  He was then traded to the Padres before finishing up with the 1991-'92 Red Sox.

Rewind 2023: Jake Cave

When I snapped this at Yankee Stadium on April 4th, could Jake Cave have imagined how 2023 would play out?  Happy to have made the big league roster coming out of Clearwater, here was facing the team that drafted him a dozen years earlier.  Could he have expected to play almost as many games for AAA Lehigh Valley (and hit close to .350) as he would for the Phillies?  Did he forsee the diving catches he'd make playing left field?  Or that home run in the Little League Classic at Williamsport, PA?   And that he would make the last out of the NLCS in October, hoping to be a hero, but flying out in the bottom of the ninth after the Phillies bats fell maddeningly cold? Now, less than a month from turning 31, he wonders if he'll be back in Philadelphia, or land on any major league roster as 2024 approaches.  

If Your Birthday is November 3rd...

Image share it with Jett Williams , one of the impressive Mets prospects that finished 2023 with the Eastern League runner-ups in Binghamton.  Turning 20 today, the suburban Dallas product climbed three levels of the minor leagues, moving from St. Lucie to Brooklyn and then Binghamton, arriving a week before the AA playoffs began.   The back of his baseball card reflects the confidence shown by the Mets in  drafting him in the 1st round (14th overall) in 2022 -- speed (45 steals this season), power (13 homers) and a strike zone judgement rarely seen these days -- his 104 walks against 108 hits added up to an on-base percentage of .425.   This future Met shares November 3rd with one of the originals.  Rick Herrsher played in 35 games with Casey Stengel's 1962 club, pinch hitting and playing 3rd and 1st base.  His only career homer came in an  August 5th  victory over the Reds, a three run blast at the Polo Grounds off Jim O'Toole.

On This Date in 1978

Ron Guidry is named the American League Cy Young Award winner.   Winning 25 games and also leading the league with a 1.74 ERA and nine shutouts -- highlighted by an 18-strikeout effort against the Angels on June 17th -- made "Louisiana Lightning" an easy and unanimous choice as the AL's top pitcher.   Guidry's excellence continued through the post-season.  He defeated the Royals in the ALCS and the Dodgers in game three of the World Series.  All told, he pitched 17 innings and gave up just two runs! One of the most dominating seasons ever by a Yankee pitcher! ( My image of Guidry is from the 2016 Yankees Old Timers Day. )