At home at fenway

Keeping on eye on Dustin, Papi, Youk & a few good books

Archive for the ‘Carl Yastrzemski’ Category

The Ever Popular Rico Petrocelli

Posted by athomeatfenway on December 19, 2012

Rico 1 Rico 2

Rico Petrocelli, the Brooklyn boy who became an all-time fan favorite in Beantown spent the evening of Dec. 17 with 180 rabid fans at the World Series Club dinner in West Hartford.  http://www.worldseriesclub.com/

Rico was a multi-sport star athlete in High School.  NC State, Cal & Wisconsin all offered the young quarterback a full scholarship.  But he was too smart to bite on a football career.  He was also a power pitcher in High School.  8 MLB clubs were after him until he snapped a ligament in his throwing arm.  The interested teams dwindled to 4.  The Sox signed him as an amateur free agent on June 2, 1961.

Rico’s talk at the WSC was frequently related to the tale of 2 teams:  the 1967 and 1975 Red Sox.

Rico roomed with Dalton Jones when the Sox were a young and undisciplined team.  They formed a keystone combination that was mostly in place from 1964 to 1969.

When Rico & DJ came up to  Boston, the Sox led the league in batting average but committed the most errors with 330.  They finished 8th.  3 years later they made 142 errors and approached the summit of baseball.

In 1967, the team was coming off 190 losses in two years.  According to Rico, they could not field, throw or run.  Dick Stuart (’63-’64) was a prime example of fielding incompetence.  “For every 3 RBI he got, he allowed 4 unearned runs to score.”, said Rico.

In 1966, when the Twins were top-top, the Sox beat them only once, and they needed an error and an unearned run to make that happen.

The 1967 Sox hated Dick Williams because he was a stickler.  Williams stressed fundamentals right from spring training.  He had a conniption when Conigliaro air mailed a throw over 3rd into the 15th row of the grandstand.  He roared.  He laid down the law.

And things started to change in Boston.  After 8 consecutive losing seasons some magic took hold.  O’Connell, the new General Manager swung some deals.  The discipline-oriented Williams established order.  A young batting champ and slugger named Yaz reported in fantastic shape from an off season of heavy conditioning.

The pitchers were pitching, the hitters were hitting and the fielders slowed their rate of making errors.

Rico pointed out, “We came out of the All Star break and went on a 10 game winning streak.  That’s when it happened.  We never looked back.”

That streak was July 14 to 23, 1967.  The morning it started, the team stood at 42 – 40.  They went 50 – 30 the rest of the way, a .625 clip.

The big difference between the 1967 and 1975 Red Sox was the tension level. 

The ‘75 Sox were laid back.  When Manager Darrell Johnson wandered out to the mound to pull the pitcher, they’d tell him to get back in the dugout…and he did !

One of the closest friendships that Rico continues to keep with a ’75 teammate is with Luis Tiant.  “Luis Tiant should be in the Hall of Fame.  He belongs.”

Tiant was Mr. Laid Back himself, speaking in a calm, high pitched voice.  He enjoyed creating special nicknames for his mates.  Petrocelli was Salami for obvious reasons.  Bob Montgomery was Mr. Ed because he had a head the size of a horse’s.  Carlton Fisk, due to his imposing & squarish build, was tabbed Frankenstein, and Tiant delighted in doing the Frankenstein walk with extended arms when he teased Pudge about it.

PARKING LOT

–When asked about how it was to face Koufax, Rico said, “The ball whistled when it went past.  You had no chance.”

–When asked what moundsman he hated to face, Rico said, “Well, there was this guy named Nolan Ryan who threw 98, but when he needed to crank it up he threw 102.  Sure, when Nolan was pitching and I got in the on deck circle, he just used to get this little smile on his face.”  A contented smile, to be sure.

–Rico has 4 sons: Michael, James, Bill and Danny, and improbably, one of them is 6 foot 7 inches tall.

–On John Lackey:  “If he had been on one of our Sox teams and had stared down his teammates like he did (in 2011), we’d have freaking choked him right there on the mound.”

–On Ted Williams:  “Ted came to spring training.  I talked to him many times about hitting.  I should say HE talked to ME about hitting.  You didn’t talk to him about it, he did the talking.  And he was always loud.  Ted was a loud person.  It was like he had 3 lungs.”

Gotta love Rico.

Go Sox.

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Carl Yastrzemski, Fred Lynn, Luis Tiant, RED SOX, Ted Williams | Leave a Comment »

Fenway Memories

Posted by athomeatfenway on May 27, 2011

The Red Sox have reached out to Red Sox Nation and asked for memories with which to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Fenway next year.

I want to share some with you.

First, I was present at a Papi walk-off victory in 2006.  Seated in section 35, to the left of the centerfield camera stand, I watched in the bottom of the 9th as the ball sailed over the right field fence into the visitor’s bullpen.  I sat next to four elderly guys from Rhode Island who had spent the prior 15 minutes discussing whether chance would allow David a shot at untying the game, and then interspersed giggling  remarks like, “Can he really do it ?”, is he Superman ?”  Such was David’s clutch hitting reputation at the time.  He did it again and again.  He was just a Miracle Man then.

 I am deeply thankful to have witnessed that walk-off because I saw Papi do it with my own eyes, and it touched me to see how giddy it made the old men around me.

Another memory involved a wedding party.  I, my brother Ben, and friends sat in the last row of Grandstand 16.  At the time, the stairs went from the top of the Grandstand 16 all the way down to the field, ending adjacent to the Red Sox dugout, where a little gate to the field was located.  It was a night game.  Round about the fifth inning, a wedding party emerged from the darkness behind us and stood at the top of the stairs.  The bride was still in dress and veil.  The groom was still in tie, vest and jacket.  The newlyweds drank and hooted behind us for awhile.  It was all in good fun.  The wedding reception had simply been moved from the reception hall to Fenway Park.

Then a chant, at first quiet, then building, came from behind us.  “Cookie.  Cookie.  COOKIE.  COOKIE !”.

We weren’t sure who Cookie was but going by the fact that we saw her standing at the top of the stairs looking straight down at the field while her drunken pals were yelling behind us, we concluded that Cookie was the Bride and that something unusual was about to happen.

Sure enough, with her Boyz still chanting her name, Cookie darted down the 100-odd steps to the little gate in her veil and gown, swung open the gate and made a run for Bill Buckner at 1st Base.  I remember the bridal party exploding in laughter and cheers.  I recall that once on the field, Cookie was very sweet in approaching Buckner and then was cooperative with the authorities.  I do not know if the poor thing spent the night in jail.  I do know that I will never see that at Fenway Park again, though I thank my lucky stars I was there to see it happen.

I have many wonderful memories of Fenway.  There was the day I, Ben, and my wife took all three of my daughters to Fenway when they were little (ages 2, 4 and 6) and we watched the Clemens-led BoSox lose from seats in the 5th row behind the visitor’s dugout.  My 4 year old, now 20, remembers somehow cutting her tiny finger on a Fenway Peanut shell and being horrified to see her own blood for the first time.

My pal, Bill Clark and I sat in the right field boxes for game 5 of the 2004 ALCS, the longest playoff game in history, the game that was win #2 after getting down to the Jeter Men 3-0.  I’ll never forget that game, or how I was bundled like an Eskimo to deal with MLB’s absurdly unseasonal scheduling of the late post season.

I’ll never forget the game I went to on October 11, 2009.  My friend, Bill Calhoun and I, saw Papelbon blow a 2 run lead in the 9th as the Halo’s swept the Sox out of the ALDS.  Bill was the liveliest, funniest, smartest Red Sox fan you could know.  He had everyone within earshot doubled over in laughter with his special nicknames for Chone Figgins and Scott Kazmir, as well as pretending I was a closet Yankee fan at one point and convincing our neighbors that he and I “were going to have a go” when the game was over.  That game was Bill’s last game.  He died suddenly 4 months later at age 47, leaving behind a wife and 4 small children.  I feel honored to have watched that game with Bill.

I’ll never forget having my wife and kids atop the Green Monster on a sunny day for a game.  I cherish the photo I snapped.

I’ll never forget speaking at the Player’s Gate with Rich Gedman in ’86, and how he refused to be cheered up after a particularly poor game.

I’ll never forget Rolando, an usher who worked the Roof Boxes for years, a great guy.  He started with the Sox in 1974 and has missed less than 10 games in the 47 years that followed.

My greatest baseball memory at Fenway Park happened on Sunday, Oct. 2, 1983.  I sat in grandstand 13 with several friends, Yankee fans included, for Yaz’s last game.  I bought 6 grandstand tickets @ $8 and a handful of bleacher seats @ $4 months in advance, realizing the emotional potential of the day.  We sat down 45 minutes before game time.  The crowd was already at their seats but they were standing and clapping.  It was sensational.  Emotion rippled through Fenway Park.  Yaz was nowhere in sight but Fenway Park was full of noise and shouting.  Then, out he came, treating us to a special jog around the park, slowing circling counter clockwise around the perimeter, slapping hands and waving as he went.  He stopped and gazed into the stands several times.

During the game, we saw him get his last hit, his last walk, and make his last error by throwing a fielded ball into the ground in Left Field.  (He was not charged with an error.)  One has to suspect he was a little rattled by the events of the day.

That was a great day.  There have been many great days.  There will be many more to come.

Go Sox.  Long live Fenway Park.

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Carl Yastrzemski, RED SOX | Leave a Comment »

2 PEAS IN A POD ? BOBBY MURCER & CARL YASTRZEMSKI

Posted by athomeatfenway on January 4, 2009

Both 5 ft 11" tall & 180 lbs.

Both 5 ft 11" tall & 180 lbs.

A QUICK ANALYSIS: MURCER & YAZ


Bobby Murcer’s physical attributes are uncannily like those of  Carl Yastrzemski.

Baseball-reference.com has Murcer at 5’11”, 180 lbs. and Yastrzemski at 5’11”, 182 lbs.  Both are left handed hitters.

Though not identical in their statistical totals, they were VERY similar in stats-per-at-bat.

 

Yaz homered every 26.5 AB’s.  Murcer tatered every 26.7 AB’s.

Yaz got a hit every 3.5 AB’s.  Murcer did so every 3.6 AB’s.

Yaz scored a run every 6.6 AB’s.  Murcer — every 6.9 AB’s.

Yaz drove in a run every 6.5 AB’s.  Murcer got an RBI every 6.45 AB’s.

Yaz struck out every 8.6 AB’s  — Murcer K’d every 8.0.

 

Look at the comparison of some offensive totals —

HR’s:     Yaz 452       Murcer 252

2B’s:      Yaz 646       Murcer 285

Hits:       Yaz 3,419    Murcer 1,862

At Bats:  Yaz 11,988  Murcer 6,730


Yaz had 78% more at bats than Murcer.


Had Murcer had as many at bats as Yaz, this is what his totals could have been:

HR’s:                          Murcer 448

2B’s:                           Murcer 507

Hits:                            Murcer 3,314

At Bats:                       Murcer 11,988


Could be that Murcer had the make up and tools to achieve Hall of Fame numbers.  He would be right with Yaz, given the missing at bats.


The objective is not to simplify Yaz’s career.  Yaz received MVP votes in 14 seasons, was an 18x All Star, won 7 gold gloves, 3 batting titles, one MVP.   He substantively helped, or drove, the Red Sox to two AL Pennants.


Murcer had one Gold Glove, no batting titles, was a 5x All Star and received MVP votes in 4 seasons.


Still, Murcer may very well have put up Yaz-like plate numbers had he played in Boston, with the Pesky Pole 302 feet away, where coddling ownership & fans cling to star players.  (I speak with self-admittance, as a Red Sox National.)


Bobby Murcer’s career numbers suffered from a lack of playing time before age 23 and after age 33.  He was short changed by two years of military service.  He was cheated by new ownership that cut his playing time and looked for new answers after the Yanks’ temporary move to Shea cut Bobby’s power totals. He became a platoon DH at an age when Yaz still had 5,000 at bats to come.

Given that Murcer was never on the D.L. from 1969 to 1983, the argument is plausible.


He certainly believed he had more to give.


The passing of Bobby Murcer in June, 2008 at age 62 was a tragedy.  He certainly had more to give to family and fans, too.

Rest in Peace, Bobby.

murcer-pic

yaz-pic

Posted in Boston Red Sox, Carl Yastrzemski, NEW YORK YANKEES | Leave a Comment »

FOR THE RECORD

Posted by athomeatfenway on August 4, 2008

 

Fri., July 25    Joba outduels Beckett  1-0

 

Sat. July 26    Wake’s first bad outing since May 18, Yanks win 10-3

 

Sun. July 27   Lester cruises over Ponson, 9-2.

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Carl Yastrzemski, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Fred Lynn, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jim Rice, JOBA CHAMBERLAIN, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Manny Ramirez, Mike Lowell, NEW YORK YANKEES, RED SOX, Ted Williams, Terry Francona, Tim Wakefield | Leave a Comment »

Peter Gammons: Beyond the Sixth Game. Into the future without Yaz.

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 6, 2008

 

 

 

Gammons book a must-read

Gammons book a must-read

  

Beyond the Sixth Game.  What’s Happened to Baseball Since The Greatest Game in World Series History. By Peter Gammons.  Houghton Mifflin, 1985.

Do you remember when you first realized that the Size-XXL Dominican Gentleman with the big smile was a Red Sox ?

The Red Sox team that already had Manny, Nomar, ‘Tek, Pedro, Millar, Mueller, Lowe & Foulke. ?

Felt pretty good, didn’t it, Red Sox Fans ?

For the Fenway Faithful, things become aligned in a special way every decade or two.

Sox fans of a certain vintage got a similar high 33 years ago after looking in the sports section and seeing TWO Red Sox players, unknown, right smack in Baseball’s Top 10 Al Hitter list !  Jeesus ! What’s going on here, we thought.

It came to pass that Jim Rice and Fred Lynn were young blue chippers sent by the Baseball Gods and Dick O’Connell, to join Yaz, Rico, Spaceman, and the best Red Sox pitcher ever – Luis Tiant.

Euphoria set in.   The Sox were LOADED and could win several pennants !

If you can relate, or if you just want to dig a little into an intriguing baseball book, Peter Gammons’ Beyond the Sixth Game is for you.  Gammons has captured the Red Sox of 1975 to 1983, a team history backed up to the late Sixties for perspective.

Gammons peppered this book with golden nuggets.

Here are a few of my favorites –

Rick “Tall Boy” Jones’ claim to fame came in high school, when he was suspended with 3 members of the Lynard Skynard band, caught by gym teacher Leonard Skinner.

Carlton Fisk, a well rounded New England boy who could fight; on 8-1-73, he pinned Gene Michael to the ground with his left hand while he pounded Munson with his right.

Dennis Eckersley, a cocky & talented 23-year-old, who had his own language, offering batters ‘cheese for their kitchen, and a yakker for their kudo.”

George Scott, rugged 1st sacker, who, when asked about what he thought about Biafra, said, “I never faced the muddafuka, but by the 3rd time I do face him, I’ll hit a tater.”.

The Rooster, Rick Burleson, commenting on the Sox collapse of 1978, “….the abuse we must be prepared to take for the entire winter, we richly deserve.”.

Luis Tiant, a pitcher for the ages, on the Sox brilliant run to force the 1-game playoff of ’78, “If we lose today, it will be over my dead body. …bleep those guys who want to throw in the towel.”.

There are funny & touching details on Yaz through the various stages of his career, and much on how he handled his farewell weekend.  For anyone who was at Fenway on Oct. 1 or 2, 1983, this book is meant for you to read.

Gammons measures the Sox over 9 seasons.  The Sox rose.   They promised a dynasty.  They failed to adjust to changing times.  They won a pennant, nearly won one more, then slid into mediocrity & their first losing record in 17 years.  They enjoyed an historic influx of young talent and then released, traded away and otherwise squandered the talent, as the front office lost their way in an ownership battle.

Among the leading factors in the decline was Jean Yawkey.  Why would the aging doyen prefer to sell the Sox to two jokers with $400,000 on hand rather than to men with $14 Million in cash-money ?

The Yawkeys take the brunt of the criticism for mismanaging the Sox.

In 1965, Tom Yawkey replace old drinking pal Pinky Higgins with Dick O’Connell as G.M.  Dick O’Connell designed the regeneration of the Sox from ’67 to ’75.

And when Jean Yawkey and the Sullivan/LeRoux team fired O’Connell in 1977, a costly series of stupid decisions ensued, resulting in the departure of Fisk, Lynn, Lee, Carbo, and Tiant.

  

Dick O'Connell earned respect & grattitude.

Dick O

 The Sox pushed away pitching, said goodbye to their bench strength, and hoped that the salary spiral caused by free agency would correct itself.  Meanwhile, they hung back, stayed out of the bidding, and waited for the market to cool down.

They led us into the Valley of Mediocrity.

But where there is pain, there is also JOY.  You can’t go wrong reading BEYOND THE SIXTH GAME.

 

Younger fans will better understand the burden endured by more experienced ones.  Older fans will smile with the memory of quirky talents, and the long dark road that ultimately led home.

 

Dear Captain, we miss you.

Dear Captain, we miss you.

Gammons book a must read

Gammons book a must read

Posted in BASEBALL, BASEBALL BOOKS, Bill Lee, Carl Yastrzemski, David Ortiz, Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Luis Tiant, Peter Gammons, RED SOX, roger clemens, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »