Archive for July, 2009
Posted by athomeatfenway on July 30, 2009
Posted by athomeatfenway on July 28, 2009
Long after we sat down in our folding chairs facing the induction stage and jumbotron, Dorkus White of Bennington, Vermont bared his spooky grin. “Mind if we pull up next to you ?”
I nodded affirmatively. A light aroma of body odor wafted in the air. He plunked into his seat. “You don’t mind since I’m not wearing any of that YANKEE SHIT !”, he snarled.
I am no Yankee fan for sure, but my hackles were up.
I am too old to fight. I am too smart to fight. But I cannot tolerate those who begin a conversation by disrespecting the traditions of other fans. I was pissed.
My anxiety level was up from spending 4 hours in a car with nothing but prunes, coffee and peanuts in my belly.
I was ornery.
I clenched my left hand into a fist and drew it back, positioned to thwock this boob and lead with my wedding ring.
Then I thought about the resultant civil suit and relaxed, so as to preserve my home, my 401K and all other small assets so that they may be picked over by my children, and their future generations to come.
We met all kinds this day, Sun., Sept. 26, 2009 in Cooperstown. Without even trying, we spoke with 30-odd fans who flew in from the Oakland area, others from St. Louis, Kansas, Virginia, Staten Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maryland. As expected, Baltimoreans made their presence felt during the national anthem by Shouting “O !” instead of “Oh, say can you see?”
These were baseball loving people from all over the States. They treated each other well, and showed their loyalty is expected and curious ways.
The streets of Cooperstown were populated with young and old, trim and fat, Black, White, Hispanic and Asian.
They were decked out in mustard green, baby blue, Redbird red, road greys, home whites and the multi-colored Houston horizon.
We were at The United Nations of Baseball. 20,000 of us sat comfortably in our lawn chairs on a great field.
A delegate from Alexandria testified on the greatness of Stan Musial, he with 3,630 hits – exactly half of them on the road. A delegate from St. Louis railed against the unbearably high cost of All Star Game tickets. A delegate from Mississippi invoked State birth rights and claimed ownership of one Jonathan Papelbon, who currently resides in Boston.
Secret languages were being spoken. Everyone understood every word of it. Those who confessed to ignorance became learned.
On this field and in the village, 20,000 hard-wired Baseball fans, age 2 to 92 walked, sprinted, sat and leisurely strolled through Cooperstown, engaged in conversation.
The talk was unrelenting.
20,000 pilgrims expressed a baseball thought every 15 seconds for 10 hours, resulting in 480,000,000 baseball opinions.
Not one positive thing was said about Bud Selig.
Dorkus was a sinner. This runt of a man was given to excess. Excess eating, and by his smell, excessive sweating. 5 ft., 5 inches tall and 260 lbs., he wore non-matching green cargo shorts and a yellow-and-white checkered shirt from the mark down table at Ocean State Job Lot. His gnarly toe nails stared up at me from a pair of open toed flip flops.
As he skootched his chair so close to me that our armrests interlocked, I swear I heard him fart.
He pushed back his oily hair with one hand, then followed it with the other, snugging a Red Sox cap, a 1946 Cooperstown Collectible repro, above his greasy brow.
This pig of a man……like me…..was a Red Sox fan.
Dorkus White, on a one-day parole from his trailer park, scanned the crowd of 20,000, observing the stage and Baseball circus before us.
He smiled broadly.
Judy Gordon is a lean, lion-maned, energetic woman who conjures the intellect and grace of a PBS historian. She stood up for her family and accepted the HOF plaque for her Father, Joe Gordon.
Gordon, a second bagger, clouted 253 HR’s, a remarkable total for a keystoner. He batted .278, beat Ted Williams for the 1942 MVP, played the field acrobatically. He won FIVE World Championships with the Yankees and Indians in an 11-year war-interrupted career.
Judy was the first speaker to draw emotions. Although the day was marked by lusty cheering and standing ovations from fans of Rickey & Jim, it was Joe Gordon’s girl who compelled thousands to choke up.
As Judy Gordon closed her summary of Joe Gordon’s life and career, she explained how personal humility stopped him from allowing a funeral to be conducted.
There had been no service for Joe Gordon upon his death in 1978, Judy said.
Her voice shut down with emotion. She breathed silently, trying to gather herself.
In that instant, all realized that Gordon had passed from this Earth without a celebration of his life. No gathering. No chit chat about his exploits and loves. No public recognition of the impact he had on others.
Judy explained that on this day, July 26, 2009, the family considered this induction ceremony to be Joe Gordon’s funeral celebration, and his eternal resting place to be the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Jim Ed Rice is many things. Put your arm around the “Boston Strong Man” and feel the shoulder muscles that writhe like a barrel of snakes. Stick a microphone in front of him and hear him elaborate like an Emerson graduate. Take him off camera and hear him talk about the importance of family, love, and teamwork.
Rice’s speech dragged a finger across the arc of human life. Youthful days enjoyed. Finding the love of your life. Earning what you own. Bringing children into the world. Experiencing many, many pleasures, and then knowing the confounding joy of grandchildren.
The man who once allegedly deposited a reporter upside down in a locker room garbage can made his induction speech about family, love, marriage, teammates.
He honored Johnny Pesky, his personal batting coach and BP pitcher in Jim’s rookie season. He honored Celcil Cooper, his roommate.
He did not back away from his denial that war with the media had hurt him. Instead, he pointed out the irony that he had become one of them.
Jim Rice. Ed Rice. Poppa. Uncle Jim. Jim the Friend Who Never Calls You Back.
Jim Ed said that he is all of the above.
He said he is also Jim the Grateful.
Though massive talents and achievements prevented Jim’s words from resonating with humility this day, the cocky confidence that marbled his words was not unbecoming.
He knows what is important. And he knows he belongs in Cooperstown.
The High School Baseball Coach brought ice cream to Rickey’s home to recruit him.
His Mom told him to stop with the Football, and concentrate on the diamond.
A teacher offered him 25 cents for every hit, run and stolen base he made. He made cash money.
Rickey’s life has turned on small things.
As the entire baseball world waited for Rickey to float into a eubonic-plagued “Rickey-says-this and Rickey-says-that” soliloquy, Rickey Henderson instead carefully enunciated a well constructed speech of gratitude.
He recognized Billy Martin as a great manager. He pointed to his best friend, Dave Stewart. He allowed that his wife of 30 years, Pamela, has supported him in all that he has done.
Rickey hit every consonant. (And a few that do not normally get hit.)
He spoke carefully, making every syllable heard.
He had prepared his ass off.
What else would you expect from the man who scored more runs than anyone (2,295), stole more bases than anyone (1,406), and led off more games with a HR than anyone (81)?
As Bill James once said, he’s so good you could split him in half and get two HOF’ers.
Rickey was not going to be embarrassed at his celebration.
And, oh the numerous A’s fans did rejoice. They played banjo, danced, shouted and screamed. They let out their Rickey Love, their A’s Ardor. They represented the Bay Area impressively.
They may have outshined Red Sox Nation, which interrupted Rice with a loud “Let’s Go Red Sox” chant just as he started, and earlier gave Yaz a long and loving ovation.
You just had to tip your hat to the many from Oakland who traveled 3,000 miles. Decked in splendor, elephants on their sleeves, mustard on their jerseys, they soared on the achievements of a player the likes of which we will never see again.
Dorkus White of Bennington, Vt. had impressed me.
There were his loathsome characteristics, sure. But his heart seemed to be in the right place.
Dorkus had jumped to his feet and cheered 92-year-old patriot, Bob Feller. He had hollered for Yaz, Yogi, Koufax and Reggie. He had applauded Rickey when the speedy one paid respect to Roberto Clemente.
I had observed that a small, yet warm, heart was radiating from his unwashed and ill-clad breast.
Still, I didn’t want to get too close to Dorkus as the wife and I pulled up stakes. I moved silently and avoided eye contact.
Then the filfthy, decent little Dorkus reached out to me with a friendly shake and a warm goodbye.
I realized that Dorkus White, Red Sox fan of Bennington, Vt., had had a pretty good day.
He is overall, it seems, a pretty damn good baseball fan.
Posted in Boston Red Sox, Hall of Fame, Jim Rice, Oakland A's, RED SOX, Rickey Henderson | Tagged: Cooperstown, Hall of Fame, Jim Rice, Oakland Athletics, RED SOX, Rickey Henderson | Leave a Comment »
Posted by athomeatfenway on July 18, 2009
One of the best Red Sox trivia stumpers I know goes like this: Who are the five current Red Sox that won the Golden Spikes Award in college ?
The Golden Spikes is like the Naismith Award, going to the best college player in the nation.
Answer: J.D. Drew, Mark Kotsay, Jason Varitek, Dave Magadan and Terry Francona.
Surprised about Francona ? The injury prone manager batted .401 in 1980, was College World Series MVP, lead his team to the National Title, and left the University of Arizona in the Top 8 all time in RBI, Hits, Extra Base Hits, and Total Bases among all Wildcat players.
His bench coach, Brad Mills, wasn’t half bad either, with a .515 career OBP, third on the Cats’ all time list.
Francona batted .274 with just 10 HR’s in 16 gimpy MLB seasons, but his 900 – 525 WL record as Sox Manager burnishes his image.
J.D. Drew starred at Florida State University (1997), and .now sports a career .282 BA w 202 HR’s in 12 (part time) MLB seasons — very respectable.
Mark Kotsay won when at Cal State Fulleron (1995). His career MLB .282 BA and 1542 Hits in 13 campaigns is a workmanlike line.
Sox Batting Coach, Dave Magadan, University of Alabama (1983), had an MLB career .288 BA and squeezed out 1197 hits over 16 seasons. Certainly qualifies him to teach.
Jason Varitek won when at Georgia Tech (1994). Considered altogether, the two World Championships, .261 BA and 174 HR’s over 13 years are very respectable. Add in the 4 no-hitters he has called with 4 different pitchers, and you understand why he has earned a special place in the hearts of baseball fans, and baseball history.
These five Sox pretty well represent all GS winner when it comes to position players. Plenty of long MLB careers among the winners, but no MVP’s or Batting Champs. And, of course, no Hall of Famers.
The Sox Golden Spikers beat out some fine competitors in college, including Nomar Garciaparra, Todd Walker, Todd Helton, Troy Glaus and Lance Berkman, to name a few.
Since the award’s inception in 1978, a lot of matriculated MLB superstars were not selected — Barry Bonds (Az. State), Roger Clemens (Texas), Ryan Howard (Mo. St.), Jeff Bagwell (Hartford), Frank Thomas (Auburn), Jason Giambi (Cal-Longbeach), Dustin Pedroia (Az. State), Tony Gwynn (San Diego St.), Kirby Puckett (Bradley), and Randy Johnson (USC).
The award has produced a steady supply of starting pitchers like Ben McDonald, Alex Fernandez, Jim Abbott, Darren Dreifort, Jason Jennings, Mark Prior, Jered Weaver…..and Tim Lincecum.
32 winners. 20 position players. 12 pitchers.
All but 4 of the 32 players reached the majors.
Nice players, yes.
It’s a roster of talent, but the big guns signs out of high school.
College has not been, since the Class of 1978 at least, a path to the Hall Of Fame.
But that could change.
Mark Prior and Tim Lincecum are the only Golden Spikes winners who pitched themselves to the MLB All Star game. The similarity should end there. Young Lincecum projects to have a long and fruitful career, unlike the injury prone Cub, who hung it up after just 5 seasons.
At the All Star Break, USA Baseball’s Executive Director Paul Seiler announced that the 2009 Golden Spikes Award winner is Stephen Strasberg of San Diego State. He had a 13-1 WL record this year, with a 1.32 ERA, and 195 K’s in 109 IP.
To learn more about the award and its history, go to www.goldenspikesaward.com
A herd of future pro’s go for the sheepskin at Arizona State, which alone has sent 91 players to the major leagues since 1961, including the player-of-the-century (in his own mind) Reggie Jackson (’66), the durable Gary Gentry & Larry Gura (’67), ’86 BoSox keystoner Marty Barrett, the loveable ’69 Met Duffy Dyer, and the first Golden Spikes winner ever, Bob Horner. Just part of what makes Arizona a FANTASTIC Baseball state.
Posted by athomeatfenway on July 9, 2009
Tim Wakefield passed Whitey Ford on the All Time Strikeout List this month. He is 19 K’s behind Red Ruffing, 31 K’s behind Billy Pierce, and 44 K’s below Catfish Hunter.
He is #70 on the list.
Wake will pass Catfish later this season. Of course, Hunter was 33 when he pitched his last, and Wakefield is almost 43. Saying Hunter and Wake are highly accomplished is a bit like saying that Kate Beckinsale and Madonna are good looking. It’s true, though with polarizing differences.
Still, climbing the list into the company of HOF’ers garners respect.
Imagine baby-faced Justin Masterson or Daniel Bard sharing the same clubhouse with the old goat. These are two 24-year-olds who, if they eat their veggies, may someday each record half as many K’s as Wakefield. They are shaving and tossing spades near the lumpy, middle aged guy with a small beer belly – a man who may ultimately climb high on the all time K list.
Watching Wake defeat Oakland to go 11-3, my wife remarked how Tim just doesn’t look like the other Sox. He has a belly. He has poor posture. “Why doesn’t he work out like the other players ?”, she puzzled.
His physique adds as much to his mystique as his 68 MPH knuckler.
He is everyman. He is the love object of the middle aged fan. He is…..old and has a tummy.
But picture this: On August 2, 2013, old man Wakefield climbs the mound on his 47th birthday and records career strikeout 2,396. In doing so, he moved past Sandy Koufax. In the rear view mirror will be Lefty Grove (2,266), Tommy John (2,245), Jim Palmer (2,212), Juan Marichal (2,303), Robin Roberts (2,357), Luis Tiant (2,416), Dennis Eckersley (2,401), Charlie Hough (2,362) & many others.
He’ll be #38 on the list.
It may just happen. He’s a knuckler. Hoyt Wilhelm pitched until he was 49, Phil Niekro until he was 48 and Charlie Hough until he was 46.
Who’d have thought a guy that typically blows up 5 times a year with a 15.00 GAME ERA could climb so high ?
And don’t rule out Wakefield eventually passing Drysdale (2,488), Christy Mathewson (2,562), Bob Feller (2,581) and Warren Spahn (2,583).
It is all within his reach.
If Wake passes the immortal Mathewson, the Sox might bid out a statue to place on Van Ness Street, down the block from Ted’s.
Not bad for a guy who walked 28 batters in three starts for the Bucs in 1993.
(To review the all time K list, see the link on our home page under the “Historical Ball” category.)
I hope someone has told Dennis Eckersley not to speak aloud about a no-no in progress while on the air. It is it jarring to the ear and disruptive to the soul. He has no right to break tradition while 10 Million Sox fans are squeezing their sphincters, silently frozen in their lazy boys trying not to jinx the pitcher. It’s an egregious mistake. Otherwise, Eck is a breath of fresh air substituting on NESN for Remy, bringing the gas, the cheese, and kudo’s for his yakker.
Is anyone serious about the Sox acquiring Roy Halladay ? He’ll command premium young talent. We’re not going to ship off Lars Anderson and Clay Buchholz to get him. Shoot, we could have gotten Johan Santana for those guys and we passed. Theo is committed to maintaining our depth.
Youk looks tired. Dustin looks tired. These guys are making me tired.
The BoSox lack of timely hitting again reared its head as we lost 3 of 4 at home to begin the current home stand. The offense comes and goes. And yet, they string together winning months. They are on pace to win 98 games, their most since 2004, when they went 98 – 64. You have to score runs, but it really is 80% about the pitching — isn’t it ?