Showing posts from January, 2024

15 Years Ago This May

Rewinding to May 22nd, 2009 ,  the first season of the new Yankee Stadium and  what turns out to be a World Series preview.  The Yankees -- who missed the post-season in '08 -- are hosting the defending champion Phillies in the opener of a weekend inter-league series.   After a friendly pre-game encounter of rival fans, it's on to the action. On this Friday night in the Bronx, it's a packed house.  Above, Phils starter Brett Myers faces Yankees center fielder fielder Johnny Damon .   Below, it's  Mark Teixeira  getting his chance against Myers.    Notice the on-field scoreboards, reminiscent of the original Stadium -- I miss them.  Sorry that after going unused for a couple of years, they were replaced by more advertising.   The defending champs have the upper hand on this night, smacking four home runs (Rollins, Ruiz, Werth and Ibanez -- watch his land in the right field seats ) en route to a 7-2 victory.   Come October, it would be a different story, as the Yankees wo

Former Yankees Find New Homes

A pair of onetime Yankees have landed free agent deals.  David Robertson will begin his 16th major league season in Texas.  The reliable reliever split his 2023 between the Mets and Marlins -- where, save for a rocky August, he was generally effective. For trivia buffs: since the retirement of Robinson Cano, he's now the last Yankee to have played at the old Stadium and is still active . (Below): Aaron Hicks , who bounced back, hitting .275 in a 65 game Orioles stint after being released by the Yanks, heads to Anaheim.  There, he'll both backup Mike Trout and try and help fill the huge void in the Angels offense after Shohei Ohtani left for the Dodgers.   Both of my images were taken in the Bronx during the 2018 season: Robertson was on the mound facing the Angels, while Hicks was batting against the Red Sox.

If Your Birthday is January 26th...

Image share it with "Mister Baseball."   Bob Uecker  might be  the most famous .200 hitter in baseball history -- and, thanks to the Ford Frick Award, the only one enshrined in Cooperstown.  Finding  his true calling as a Brewers broadcaster and standup comic, the Milwaukee native made  100  Tonight Show  appearances, where Johnny Carson coined his nickname.   One of the stars of the Miller Lite TV ads, he branched out into sitcoms with   Mister Belvedere and extended his brand as the play by play announcer in the Major League movies.    Seen here in the 1965 Cardinals Yearbook, Uecker is about to begin his 54th season as the Brewers radio voice. Also in our January 26th baseball circle: Davis Schneider   was promoted to the Blue Jays last August after slugging 21 home runs during the first two-thirds of the minor league season.  The New Jersey native cleared the fences eight times in 35 Toronto games and will get a shot at being the club's regular 3rd baseman this comi

The Call From the Hall

Adrian Beltre (above),  Todd Helton  (below) and Joe Mauer (bottom) got the call Tuesday night -- letting them know they'd been voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Careers of excellence and achievement... Helton was a two-sport star, preceding Peyton Manning as the U of Tennessee's quarterback and winning college baseball's Dick Howser (Player of the Year Award) before playing his entire 17 season MLB career in Colorado.  Runner up for 1998's NL Rookie of the Year, he was the league's 2000 MVP, winning the batting and RBI titles and making the first of his five All Star Game appearances.   Beltre enjoyed stellar seasons with the Dodgers and Red Sox but really hit his stride during his eight years in Texas, where he combined stellar glove work with consistent hitting -- being named to four All Star teams and finishing in the Top 10 of MVP voting five times.  He's also the only third baseman with 3000 hits and 400 home runs. Mauer lived out every kid's dream

Rare Remnant of a Lost Ballpark

When the subject of baseball in Brooklyn comes up, the discussion centers around Ebbets Field, the Flatbush venue most famously home to The Boys of Summer.  Those legendary 1940s and '50s teams that featured such historic and beloved players as Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella and Gil Hodges. Ebbets Field hosted its last major league game in 1957 and was torn down during the winter of 1960. But decades earlier, just before World War One, the Dodgers were based in the Park Slope area and played at Washington Park.  Once they moved out, the land was occupied by another stadium, which housed a different franchise.  The upstart Federal League, which played in the 1914 and '15 seasons, had a Brooklyn team called the TipTops.  Owned by a local baking magnate Robert Ward, whose company produced TipTop bread, the club took over the abandoned lot along 3rd Street and built a new brick and steel venue. The only no-hitter in the Federal League's two-year r

If Your Birthday is January 19th...

Image share it with Jon Matlack .  One of the array of talented pitchers developed by the Mets from the mid '60s through the early '70s, the West Chester, PA native was the 1972 NL Rookie of the Year.  The lefty won 10 or more games seven times in his 12 full MLB seasons and was named to three All Star teams.  Matlack later coached in the Padres, White Sox, Tigers and Astros organizations. And, celebrating on Saturday the 20th... Travis Taijeron played 26 games with the Mets in the final weeks of the 2017 season.  Seen here that March during Spring Training, his big league highlight was a September 26th walk-off single at Citi Field to beat the Braves 4-3.  

10 Years Ago This Spring

Derek Jeter shares a friendly moment with Tony Tarasco during a 2014 Yankees/Nationals Grapefruit League in Tampa.  The two will always be linked by Jeter's home run in the opening game of the 1996 ALCS, when young fan Jeffrey Maier snatched Jeter's fly above the right field fence before Tarasco had the chance to catch it -- turning what could have been a routine out into a memorable home run.  A home run that led to victory in a post-season capped by the Yankees first championship since 1978.     

Will He Wear Zero in the Bronx?

The Yankees bolstered their starting rotation with Thursday's signing of Marcus Stroman .  The Long Island native, who spent 2019 and '21 with the Mets before moving onto the Cubs, brings a 77-76 career record to the Bronx, along with a recent loyalty to uniform number (?) zero.  If he requests that, he'd become the third Yank to wear it, following the path of Adam Ottavino and Domingo German.  Of course, neither of their Yankee tenures ended all that well -- Ottavino struggled badly in 2020, before reviving his career with the Red Sox and Mets; German's alcohol and domestic violence issues sabotaged such Yankee highlights as last year's perfect game. Can a number truly be lucky? You can understand kids in little league or high school ball wanting to wear 2 in honor of Derek Jeter or 7 for Mickey Mantle.  But is there an heroic ballplayer associated with 0?  The closest I recall comes from pro football, where the Oakland Raiders Hall of Fame center Jim Otto wore 00

If Your Birthday is January 12th...

Image share it with Ivan Nova , who looked like a budding star when he went 16-4 in his first Yankees season (2011), but never again reached such lofty levels for the rest of his 11 year career. Also in today's birthday circle: Dontrelle Willis also got off to a fast start -- earning the 2003 NL Rookie of the Year award with the Marlins, then winning 22 two years later as the runner up for the Cy Young.  The lefty with a big leg kick was among the last of the strong-hitting pitchers: he batted a career .244, and hit two home runs in a 2006 game against the Mets.  Arm problems and an anxiety disorder shortened his playing career.  He's now a broadcaster with the Dodgers and Fox Sports. Mike Marshall was a power hitting outfielder-1st baseman with the Dodgers during the '80s, but found his greatest fame while dating Go-Go's lead singer Belinda Carlisle. Bill Madlock , the sweet-swinging 3rd baseman who won a pair of NL batting titles with the Pirates (1981 and '83)

10 Years Ago This Summer

Chase Utley (above) and Jimmy Rollins (below), seen on August 24th, 2014, are in their 10th and final season as the  Phillies middle infield combination.  And this year, for the first time, both are on the Hall of Fame ballot. Teammates for five consecutive NL East champs, a run highlighted by the 2008 World victory over the Rays, they hope to join such legendary 2nd base/shortstop duos as the Dodgers' Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese; Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio (White Sox); and Joe Gordon and Phil Rizzuto (Yankees) in Cooperstown. It's easy to check their stats (just click the links under their names).  But leadership and attitude are never as easy to evaluate.  As the gritty heart and soul of the Phillies lineup during the franchise's most successful five-year period, Utley and Rollins check off the boxes for me. The members of the BBWA made the decision.  We'll learn who gets this year's call to the Hall on January 23rd.   My images of Utley and Rollins were

Finally, a Free Agent Signing

With too much of the energy of this off-season concentrated on free agents Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, a lot of productive players remain unsigned.  That's still the case, eve after outfielder Teoscar Hernandez landed a one-year deal with the Dodgers.  The righty power hitter, who's crushed 25 or more homers in each of the last four full seasons, helps fill one of the weak spots for L.A., which is rich in pitching and infielders -- and of course DH, with the addition of Ohtani. With Hernandez off the market, the biggest bats still available include Cody Bellinger, Matt Chapman and Jorge Soler. Just five weeks from pitchers and catchers reporting, let's hope this marks the beginning of some Hot Stove activity. ( My image of Hernandez is from a 2018 Blue Jays/Yankees game in New York .)  

If Your Birthday is January 5th...

Image share your birthday with C.J. Cron , the power-hitting 1st baseman who reached  25 or more homers four times in his 10-season career.  ( He's seen above in a 2016 Angels/Yankees game in the Bronx .) Also in today's birthday circle: Vaughn Grissom , the young infielder the Braves just traded to the Red Sox for Chris Sale. Eduardo Escobar , the 13-year veteran infielder who spent 2022 and the first half of '23 with the Mets. Jose Iglesias , the Cuban-born sho rtstop whose 11 year career was bookended by time with the Red Sox and Rockies. Henry Cotto , who spent three (1985-'87) of his 10 big league seasons as a backup outfielder with the Yankees. Sandy Vance , a pitcher whose first and last names matched Dodgers Hall of Famers, but whose big league career with the same franchise lasted for just parts of the 1970 and '71 seasons, where he compiled a 9 - 8 record. Charlie Hough  also had Dodger roots, but the knuckleballer enjoyed his most productive seasons w

On This Date in 1973...

George M. Steinbrenner III leads a group of investors who purchase the Yankees from CBS for $8.8 million dollars.  Despite claims that this would be "absentee ownership" and he would "stick to building ships," the onetime graduate assistant to Woody Hayes would become the most famous owner in sports, overseeing a revival of the once mighty franchise, leading it to seven World Series in his 37 years as the helm -- and in the process, the outspoken and often impulsive executive becomes as big a celebrity as any of his legendary players. Is it any surprise that his is the largest monument in Yankee Stadium, strategically placed to hover above those for its  earliest and most enduring legends, Lou Gehrig, Miller Huggins and Babe Ruth. Like him, love him or hate him, The Boss gets credit for ending a period of malaise when after becoming New York's "other ballclub," and making the Yankees matter again. Hit the comment tab and share your memories and opinion

Happy New Year

  Jorge Posada and Rickey Henderson lead the chorus wishing you a terrific 2024.