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Archive for the ‘Ted Williams’ 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.

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

Birdie Tebbetts & Ted, Rudy York & Lou

Posted by athomeatfenway on April 10, 2011

Birdie Tebbetts was from 1936 to 1952 a platoon catcher for the Tigers, Red Sox and Indians.  In his time, he played with Hank Greenberg, Mickey Cochrane & Ted Williams. Though he batted over .300 just once (BOS 1950), Birdie was a 4x All Star — 1941, ‘42, ‘48 & ‘49.

 

After his playing days ended he managed in the minors and later at the highest level with the Redlegs, Indians and Braves.  He never reached the post season but he was named 1956 Manager of The Year in the National League.

 

It wasn’t his batting that made him an All Star.  The Vermont native was an excellent defensive catcher.  He twice led the AL in throwing out base stealers.

 

It wasn’t his playing skills that earned him a coaching and scouting career that lasted until he was 79 years old.

 

Birdie Tebbetts was a hale fellow well met.  He had a lively and charismatic charm about him. He was direct, decent and funny.  Birdie was someone that everyone liked to be around.  His personal charisma helped his career.  His joie de vivre comes across plainly in “BIRDIE, Confessions of a Baseball Nomad.”  (Triumph, 2002.)

 

This 196 page hardcover book was published 3 years after his death at age 87.  It is written entirely in his voice, as if co-author James Morrison worked straight from a series of tape recordings.

 

Let Ted do it.

 

He tells a great one about how Ted Williams was second guessing his ability to call a game when they were Boston teammates.  Cleveland’s Lou Boudreau had hit Boston pitching pretty hard with Birdie behind the plate so Ted  suggested incompetence relentlessly.  To his credit, Tebbetts didn’t argue.  He told Ted, “OK, let’s see how you do.”.  And he told Ted how to signal the pitches to him from his position in left field the next time Boudreau batted.  Sure enough, the next time the Indian player-manager stepped into the box, Ted signaled the pitches to Birdie, Birdie signaled them to the pitcher, and Ted was calling the game.  Whack !  A Double !  Next time Boudreau was up Ted called them again.  Whack !  Another Double.  That shut up Mr. Williams.

 

 

A gritty era.

 

Tebbetts arrived in the majors a bit ahead of schedule due to a horrific beaning of Mickey Cochrane.  On May 25, 1937, Irving Darius Hadley threw to Gordon M. Cochrane an inside fastball that came out of the white shirts in the Yankee Stadium bleachers, striking Cochrane on the skull and fracturing his cranium.  The incident was the beginning of the end for Cochrane’s playing days.  It gave rise to Hadley’s nickname: Bump.  It caused the gradual establishment of dark batting backgrounds in the major leagues.  And it propelled Birdie Tebbetts from minor leagues into the Tigers catching platoon, a role he shared with Rudy York, a slow footed, ham-handed Indian that could not catch a lick but could surely bang 35 home runs a year.

 

 

The Big Indian liked to hit & he liked to drink.  He wasn’t the only character around.  The authors paint a picture of the radio era, when the Depression was on and America needed heroes like DiMaggio, Feller, Gehrig, Williams, Boudreau, plus a few square pegs like York.

 

It was a simpler and more straight-forward time populated with poverty-hardened characters.  When Ben Chapman left the Yankees for the Senators in 1936, Gehrig told Tebbetts to punch the Nats new outfielder if he got the chance.  If Tebbets would punch Chapman twice, Lou would buy Birdie two suits.

 

Birdie lost three years to military service during World War II.  He was approached during the 1942 season to volunteer, and put together a morale team consisting entirely of major league players.  Tex Hughson, Joe Gordon, Sid Hudson, Max West, Enos Slaughter, Ferris Fain and Howie Pollet were all on Lieutenant Tebbets’ team.  At first, they played all around Texas but were later deployed to the South Pacific.  They flew secretly to Iwo Jima the day after the Marines raised the flag.  Before 12,000 dirty, bloody, hardened Marines, they played a game of baseball to create normalcy within the context of insanity.  Birdie Tebbets called it the most important game he ever played.

 

 

He’s on to something.

 

The authors make one claim about a relief pitching tandem that should spark a SABR research presentation if it already has not.  Tebbets refers to Don Mossi and Ray Narleski as “the two best relief pitchers of all time in a tandem.”

 

I chuckled when I read that, realizing that the baseball cards of these two guys (for the most part) fill the common boxes and bargain bins at sports collectible shows.  Further, not only are they largely unknown and unrecalled, but Mossi’s baseball cards revealed that his ears were bigger than any other mammal known to humanity.

 

“The two best relief pitchers in tandem of all time ?”

 

Is he kidding ?

 

So, I looked it up.

 

Mossi & Narleski pitched for the Indians from 1954 to 1958.  Ears was named an All Star in 1957.  Mossi was an All Star in 1956 & 1958.  Interestingly BOTH received MVP votes in 1955.

 

Could their MVP ballot worthy year indicate their best combined contribution ?

 

In 1955, Mossi appeared in 57 games and Narleski in 60, their respective ERA’s being 2.42 and 3.71.  Narleski led the major leagues with 19 saves in ’55, and Mossi had the 5th most in the A.L. that year with 9.  No other two bullpen team mates had as many combined saves in either league.  Their combined won-lost record was 13 – 4.

 

Pretty damn good.  And, it was pretty damn good team they played for.

 

Their team mates were Hegan, Wertz, Rosen, Kiner, Doby.  A rookie named Rocky Colavito would make a late debut, too.  Plus Wynn, Score, Lemon, Garcia & Feller.  The 1955 Indians finished 93 – 61 in 2nd place, 3 games behind the Yankees, winning 13 of 22 vs. New York.

 

 

Old Birdie was onto something.

 

 

 

Breaking the code.

 

If you love Ted, or if you love head games, you’ll love this one.  No longer teammates, Ted & Birdie squared off in regular play beginning in 1951.  Now an Indian, Birdie had just as much trouble getting Ted out as anyone.  He decided to “break the code”.  Birdie would break Ted’s focus on the cat-and-mouse guessing game of what pitch was coming by simply telling Ted what was on the way.  “It’s a curveball Ted.”  And, “It’s a fastball, Ted.”   When Ted took those pitches and they were exactly what Tebbets said they would be, Ted became enraged and stayed mentally out-of-whack for the next 2 days. The distraction worked.  He couldn’t buy a hit.

 

 

This book is a great & fast read.  Birdie passed 12 years ago but this little book conveys his good will and energy.  I think you’ll like it.

Posted in BASEBALL, BASEBALL BOOKS, Ted Williams | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The journey of Bill Monbouquette : from Billy Martin to Jacoby Ellsbury

Posted by athomeatfenway on January 20, 2010

The Ace in his Prime.

Jacoby Ellsbury could act terribly dumb when he was 22 years old.

“You have to be dumb to try to steal a base when your team is winning 14 – 2.”, said Bill Monbouquette.

So, he talked to him about it.

“If you do that again, you’re going to get drilled right in the flippin’ coconut.’”, Monbouquette told Ellsbury that day in 2005.

Monbo was coaching for Oneonta against Ellsbury and his Lowell team mates at the time.

“And when I told him that, this is what he did –“, Monbouquette mimed Ellsbury’s reaction with the drop of a jaw and the jump of both brows.

I imagined that this dose of inelegant but visceral wisdom made a lasting impression on Ellsbury.

You only need to spend 5 minutes with Bill Monbouquette to know that he is thoughtful and rough-edged, like many men were in the 1940’s and 50’s, and quite politically incorrect in 2010.

Honest, working class guys.  Guys who take no shit, but will take prisoners.  They’ll fight you when you are wrong, and stop just short of pounding a stake through your heart.

I am grateful to have spent time with him at the Boston S.A.B.R. meeting on MLK Day.

++++++++++++++

Bill Monbouquette won 114 games and registered a 3.68 ERA over an 11 year career, 8 of them with the Red Sox.

Ask 10 RSN members under 55 years old who Bill Monbouquette is and they typically will not know.  He doesn’t get his due.

He was the Ace of the Sox staff.  A four-time All-Star, he pitched a no-hitter in 1962 against the White Sox.   He tossed three one-hit games.  He set a club record with a 17 strikeout-game against the Washington Senators in 1961.

He played during an extended period of Sox failure.

He departed Boston after the ’65 season for Detroit, New York & San Francisco, thus missing the Impossible Resuscitation by a mere 2 years.

And that, my friends, is why few know who he is today.  He was not there when Yaz set New England ablaze.

++++++++++++++

When Fenway was Monbo’s home, the Sox were 581 – 688, finishing in 7th, 8th, or 9th place five times.

There was not a lot to look forward to then.   Ted Williams was there for the first 3 seasons.  The excellence of Dick Radatz was on display for a while.  Yaz was a budding star, a doubles guy, and a hit-for-average man.

Of course, Frank Malzone’s was there, too.  Malzone’s run in Boston parallels that of Monbouquette.  From 1955 to 1965, Malzone starred at 3rd Base.  He went to 6 ASG’s, hit .274, registered 239 doubles, and was cheated out of the 1957 ROY by Yankee fans that complained his 133 At Bats in 55-56 disqualified him.

And every 4th day, Monbo got his start and the Sox had a chance of getting a W.

“I pitched inside.  That’s how I made my living.  And you tried to get ahead of the batter.  What is it with these 2 – 0 and 3 – 1 counts with pitchers today ?  That’s when you’re forced to take something off your fastball and throw it over the plate, which is what they want.  You need to get ahead of the batter so you can get the out on your pitch, not his.”

+++++++++++++.

He made his major league debut on July 18, 1958 against TheTigers.  Billy Martin stole home on him that day.  In  Billy’s third time at bat, Monbo threw at him, flipping Martin over backwards.  The Rookie Righty then induced a pop out.  Next, Billy took steps toward the mound.  Monbo slipped the glove off his hand and made two fists.  Then Billy quipped, “You owed me that Rook.”, turned, and trotted off to his dugout.

Billy The Kid didn’t just steal home on the righthanded Monbo, he did it with two out and the Tiger pitcher, Milt Bolling, at the plate.  Billy must have read the Sox rookie like a book.

+++++++++++++.

This man from Medford was a control pitcher.  He had control of his pitches, and often his temper.

He walked 100 batters in 236 IP in 1961, but it was an aberration.  Typically, he made about 35 starts a year and walked 40 batters.

In 1965, he had a 3.70 ERA and somehow lost 18 games.

In 1963, he won 20 games and asked the Red Sox for a raise to bolster his $14,000 salary.

Even then, he didn’t get his due.

When he didn’t sign the contract for 1964 that GM Pinky Higgins had mailed to him, there was a public confrontation.  The fight ended with just one punch. Pinky hit the ground with his backside when Bill uncorked a right to the forehead.

Pinky got up and ordered Bill to meet him in his office the next day.  Bill reported as ordered.  A bodyguard was present.  Words were exchanged again.  Down to the floor went Pinky for a second time.

The fighting cost Monbo some of his leverage for 1964.

But Bill did negotiate a 33,000 salary for 1965, his last year in Boston.

+++++++++++++.

In 2007, Monbouquette was diagnosed with leukemia.  Chemotherapy and drug treatment didn’t work, but in October 2009, he celebrated the one year anniversary of a successful bone marrow and stem cell transplant.

Monbo is grey now, his face peppered with age.  He walks with a stiff gait. He has lost 37 pounds in his battle with cancer.  He says he feels good.

He pauses before answering a question, and begins to speak in a whisper, his volume rising as he gets to the end of the story.

“I was there for Ted Williams last game.  There was nobody there.  Maybe 4,000. They say it was more than that but there wasn’t.   Everyone thought Ted would probably go to New York for the last series of the season.  But I knew he wouldn’t go.”

“Everyone knows he hit that home run on his last at bat.  I was in the bullpen.  I watched it all the way and thought I’d catch it, but it kept going.  I was nowhere near it where it came down.”

“The thing people forget is that there was a stiff wind blowing that day.  Ted hit three balls HARD into that wind, and the wind knocked down the first two.  The third one got out. But he could have hit three that day.  I saw it.”

+++++++++++++.

Bill Monbouquette didn’t reach the post-season.  He missed the glory of ’67 by a smidge.  He is off the radar track of most Soxaholics.

But what he witnessed was wondrous.  And what he received, he earned.

And in the end, standing anonymously among us at age 73, traveled and wise, he is a strong and righteous man.

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury, RED SOX, Ted Williams | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Ortiz & Youkilis add to tradition

Posted by athomeatfenway on September 8, 2008

 

(AP) Dick Whipple photo

(AP) Dick Whipple photo

 
 
 
 
 

 

The 1901 Boston Americans

 

On May 2, 1901, Boston beat Philly on the road by a score of 23 to 12. 

Boston scored 9  in the 2nd and 10  in the third as 22 batted, with 7 BB,10 hits, 3 triples.

 

This was a special team, created with great care by the brains behind the new league.

 

Ban Johnson set up teams for his new American League in Boston, Philly and Chicago as he believed the AL could not succeed without stealing market share from the NL in these cities.

 

Led by HOF 3rd Baseman and manager Jimmy Collins, 1st Baseman Buck Freeman, CF

 

 Chick Stahl, and HOFer Cy Young, The Boston Americans hit more HR’s than any AL team (37), featured a regular lineup in which every man stole 20 or more bases, yielded the fewest runs scored, and struck out the most opposing batters.

 

Jimmy Collins (3rd B), Freddy Parent (SS), Hobe Ferris (2nd B), Buck Freeman (1st B), Lou

 

 Criger (C), Tommy Dowd (LF), Chick Stahl (CF) and Charley Hemphill (RF) backed up

 starting pitcher Winford Kellum on opening day, which they lost to John McGraw’s

 Baltimore team. 

 

1901 was a fascinating campaign. 

 

Right from the start, the Americans outdrew their  in-town rivals Boston Braves.  The Americans outdrew the Braves approximately 300,000 to 160,000.

 

9,000 fans at the Grounds was a common event. 

 

By May 10, Boston was short on pitching and in 5th place.  Collins made some clever roster

 

 moves, including signing YMCA pitcher George Winter, who was a temporary wonder. 

 

By June 21, Boston had won 15 of 16 games, was tied for 2nd, and had knocked Chicago

 out of first.

 

Aided by a remarkable 49-20 record at home at the brand new Huntington Ave. Grounds, the Americans were soon in a tie for first.

 

But when Collins soon went to a 3-man rotation of Young-Lewis-Winter, the Sox faded. 

 

They were in the mix until Aug. 25, when a 4-2 loss to Cleveland was marred by an attack on Umpire Pongo Joe Cantillion.  50 or more Sox rooters were outraged over Pongo Joe’s calls and attempted a physical beating after the game.  Stahl pulled Cantillion out of the mess and ushered him to safety.

 

The loss to Cleveland came when Boston was just a half game out of first.  The Cantillion incident signaled the initial slide out of contention.

 

In the end, Boston would finish 4 games out of first.

 

Just like the 1950 team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 1950 Boston Red Sox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 29, 1950.  By the time the second inning was over, 21 total runs had been scored and the Sox led 14-7.  The succession of unending base hits and walks saw nine pitchers giving up 39 hits and 21 bases on balls.

 

What a Red Sox line up ! 

 

DiMaggio (CF), Goodman (3rd B), Williams (LF), Stephens (ss), Dropo (1st B), Zarilla (RF), Doerr (2nd B), Batts (C), backing up Stobbs, the starting pitcher.

 

The hero of the day was Ted Williams.  His 9th inning double drove in the record breaking run.  He hit the only HR of the game, his 24th  of the year.  He drove in 6 runs, making his total 80 RBI through 69 games.

 

Williams was on the greatest power tear of his life.  At this pace he could finish with 54 HR’s and 179 RBI.  He could challenge Gehrig and Ruth’s respective RBI and HR season records.

 

Williams would break his elbow less than 2 weeks later, crashing into the wall to pull down a Ralph Kiner fly at the All Star Game.

 

Ted would miss the next 10 weeks and hit just 5 more HR’s.

 

This team would finish a very respectable 94 W – 60 L.  They would lead the AL in batting at .302, Slugging at .464, Runs scored at 1,027, Doubles with 287, Fielding at .981.

 

Despite losing Ted, the team kept winning without him.  Walt Dropo was the ROY, and Walt tied Vern Stephens for the Al RBI title with 144.  Doerr and Pesky had fine seasons.   Billy Godman led the AL in batting with .354.

 

The team liked home cooking, too, with a 55 – 22 record at Fenway.

 

The Yankees went 8 – 4 in the final 12 games of the season while the Sox went 5 – 7, sealing their fate.

 

Our guys had entered the middle part of the vast 86-year span of mishaps and suffering.

 

God help us.

 

 

 

 

The 2008 Boston Red Sox

 

Lowrie rounds third

Lowrie rounds third

 

August 12, 2008.  Big Papi hits TWO 3-run HR’s in the first inning.  Sox lead 10-0 after 1 inning.

 

Sox starter Charlie Zink, the knuckle baller from Pawtucket, lost his edge while waiting for the long offensive inning to end.  No longer in the groove, he yielded 7 quick runs. 

 

The next 5 Sox pitchers would yield 10 more.

 

Sox 12- 2.

 

Sox 12 – 10.

 

Rangers 12- 14.

 

Dustin Pedroia, who went 5 for 6 and scored 5 runs, drove in Ellsbury in the 8th, and then Youkilis drove in the last 2 runs with his second HR of the game.

 

Sox 19- 17.

 

What an extraordinary comeback.

 

This team showed little speed in that game with just 3 SB’s. 

 

But speed is a hallmark of this team, just as it was in 1901.

 

Crisp and Ellsbury have game changing speed.

 

Pedroia, who defies expectations in so many ways, steals efficiently and hustles on the bases with nut busting effort.

 

Lowrie, Bay, and Kotsay are fleet, smart base runners.

 

There is enough power in the middle with Papi and Youk…or Papi and Bay….or Papi and Lowell.  Take your choice.

 

No insult to Lugo, but with Julio out of the picture, fielding is also this team’s hallmark.   Bay, Crisp & Ellsbury are the most exciting outfield trio in years.  The infield and catcher positions are solid.  There could be three gold gloves for our guys this year:  Ellsbury, Pedroia and Youkilis.

 

Today the Sox got a great start out of Paul Byrd.  Starting pitching has been the leading strength of this team all year.  You get a quality start 67% of the time from Beckett, Matsuzaka, Lester and Wakefield

 

(Yes, Wakefield !)

 

 

As the Sox took their 6th consecutive series today with a win in Arlington, the table was set for a strong finish.

 

20 games left.  6 games on the road.  14 at home.

 

The Sox are 1.5 games behind Tampa, almost assured of the wild card and closing in on a Division title.  

 

Despite no Manny Ramirez.

 

Like the 1950 Red Sox, the 2008 edition lost its best hitter in July.

 

Like the 1901 Bostons, the 2008 edition has speed, pitching and power.

 

Unlike either of these two teams of history, the 2008 Boston Red Sox are a team of destiny.

 

3 Championships in this golden era of Red Sox baseball ?

 

I’m feeling it.  Are you feelin’ what I’m feelin’ ?

 

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, RED SOX, Ted Williams, Youkilis | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Michael Bowden impresses with Win #1

Posted by athomeatfenway on August 31, 2008

Aug. 30, 2008

Fenway Park

 

All of this on Ted Williams’ birthday.

 

 

Michael Bowden took the mound today for his first MLB start backed by a makeshift Sox line-up featuring the “strongest 160-pound man in Baseball” batting cleanup.

 

Ellsbury (CF), Lowrie (3rd), Ortiz (DH), Pedroia (2nd), Kotsay (RF), Bay (LF), Tek (C), Bailey (1b) and Cora (ss).

 

Pedroia would reach safely for the 10th AB in a row and hear the MVP chant. 

 

 

Bowden did not have it easy.

 

He faced a ChiSox starting 9 that already poled 185 HR this year. 

 

The 3-4-5 hitters, Quentin, Dye and Thome, have 96 HR between them. 

 

Add to that the sensational rookie Alexei Ramirez (.310/15/60), a still potent 38-yr-old Junior Griffey, and a few other clutch performers, and this was no team of pushovers facing Mr. Bowden.

 

Bowden was as advertised in terms of a powerful, condensed pitching motion.  After walking Cabrera on 5 pitches to start the game, he fired four 92 MPH fastballs to Pierzynski, inducing a 1-3 double play.  5 fastballs later, he grounded Quentin out to third to record his first MLB inning, facing the minimum 3 batters.

 

Bowden would put up only 5 innings this night.   He wouldn’t go unmolested.  But he limited the damage, showing great character and composure in tight spots.

 

In the second, he worked his fastball and a 77 mph cutter to get 2 strikes on Jermaine Dye, but with the crowd calling for the rookie’s first MLB strikeout, Dye smashed the ball 390 ft. to the Garage Door area in dead center.  It had HR distance but hit the CF wall 10 ft below the fans in Bleacher 36.  Two batters later, Bowden gave up his first run in the majors when Alexei Ramirez stroked a 2-2 fastball on a line before Bay in left and turned on the speed to register a double and an RBI.

 

With the crowd still waiting for his first K, Mr. Bowden then fed Nick Swisher a fastball and three 78 mph Cutters, striking Swisher out on a cutter in the dirt.   Swisher, a very good player, looked like a bad one.

 

The 2nd inning damage was 1 run.  Ramirez was stranded on second.  Bowden kept his cool.

 

Bowden gave up one more run this day.  That run almost never scored because Joe Crede, the runner, almost produced an out instead of a triple.  Crede led off the 3rd by smacking the 8th pitch Bowden hurled 379 ft to the base of the left center wall. There, Ellsbury caught up with it, and on the ball’s descent, tipped the fly up not once but twice before it fell for a triple.  He stuck his glove out at the end and just missed it.  Not an easy catch potentially.  A great try by the centerfielder.

 

Crede, who could have been out, trotted in two batters later on Pierzynski’s ground out to Pedroia.  1 run.

 

Bowden fired fastball after fastball over the course of his outing.  He threw about 60 fastballs out of 89 total pitches. 

 

Power Against Power

 

Bowden disarmed Carlos Quentin, holding the MVP candidate to personal O-for-three before leaving. 

 

Bowden displayed his intangibles in the fifth.  After yielding two singles to Cabrera and Pierzynski, and with Dye on deck, he fed the power hitting Quentin four 92 mph fastballs, two of them partially over the plate, two of them not. 

 

On the second pitch, with a 1-0 count, two ducks on the pond, Bowden was not afraid to pound another fastball in letter high to the White Sox slugger.

 

Power against power. 

 

Quentin couldn’t catch up to it. 

 

Bowden did not get Quentin to chase the pitches out of the zone, but he did make him fly out to Bay on the last pitch.   Then he stranded two ChiSox when the slugger Dye flew out to Bay on a ball with HR height to the track.

 

Bowden never looked to be in serious trouble.  He surely put runners on base, yielding 4 hits in the 4th and the 5th, but no one scored.

 

He was aided by one double play, initiated by him self in the first.

 

 

More than a fastball

 

At the end of the day, Bowden had a fine first outing.  His fastball, 5 or 6 mph slower than Manny Delcarmen’s or Josh Beckett’s, had the movement needed to stay away from the heart of the plate and give the White Sox batters conniptions.  Although heavy on the heater, Bowden mixed in an effective Cutter (77 mph), Curve (78 mph), and a Change (85 mph).  He really made Swisher look bad with the curve in particular.

 

Licking His Chops

 

Young Alexei Ramirez stood on deck while Griffey made the last out in the 9th.   He was asked what he thought of the kid who started tonight.  Alexei smiled sweetly at the questioner in the second row.  He looked like a cat licking its whiskers after biting the mouse on it’s hind quarter, but somehow letting it get away.  He smirked, but said nothing.

 

Bowden gets an A+ for cool.  He gets an A+ for getting ahead in the count.  He gets an A for controlling the rythym of his outing.    

 

He gets a B- for overall performance though, unable to keep the able ChiSox batters off the bases. 

 

We’ll someday see how he does against the Ginger and Mary Anne’s in Baltimore, Kansas City and Seattle.  

 

Ellsbury, Pedroia & Kotsay win it 8-2

 

Mr. Bowden owes thanks to the self-acknowledged “Strongest 160 pound Man in Baseball”, and a few other mates, for notching his first MLB victory on Ted Williams’  90th birthday, by a score of 8 – 2.

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Charlie Zink, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis, Manny Ramirez, Matsuzaka, Michael Bowden, Mike Lowell, NESN, RED SOX, Ted Williams, Terry Francona, Tim Wakefield, Uncategorized, Youkilis | Leave a Comment »

Josh Beckett — High & Flat

Posted by athomeatfenway on August 19, 2008

August 17,2008 Fenway

Field Box Dream Becomes Nightmare by Josh.

I was never so confident in the fact that the Sox would win a ball game.  Wake, Beckett, Matsuzaka and Lester already have 55 quality starts between them.  With Wake on the DL, the other 3 would respond out of pride.  Starting with Josh on Sunday.

Beckett, Matsuzaka and Lester.  The 3 strongest legs on the table.

Beckett is the strongest.

Ballplayers are almost universally taller and thinner than you think when seen up close.  This even applies to Sean Casey.  I kid you not. 

Viewed from a field box in the 4th row of Field Box 29 on Sunday, Beckett looked every bit of  the listed 6 ft. 3”, and a solid 190 to 200 lbs.

Even a bull has weak moments.  Weak moments, emotional moments, moments when you make a mistake and then reflexively repeat the mistake 30 times in less than 3 innings.

In one of the poorest outings of his career, Beckett chucked a 96 mph fastball time after time, mixing in several 78 mph curves and 90 mph changes.  The curves were pretty darn effective.  The Fastballs came in high and straight and came back at Beckett & his teammates as sharply as they went in. 

The Blue Jays batted .600 against Josh and .458 against Boston pitchers for the day.

**********

Beckett looked sharp at first.  He snapped the leather in Tek’s mitt facing Inglett, the first batsman of the day.  That snapping sound was sharp, almost painful.  He was pounding it.

Inglett didn’t succumb easily.  He fouled off 3 fastballs and 2 curves before striking out swinging.  He could see it coming in flat, he just couldn’t time it.

Scutaro then singled sharply by a leaping Cora in the hole.  Just missed it.


Rios doubled on the next straight 95mph fastball Josh threw.  The first of 4 doubles Rios would rifle on the day.

Wells walked.  Lind singled on another fastball.  Barajas was then HBP.  McDonald soon doubled in the 6th and last run of the inning.

Parade of Porkchops

With 1 on and 1 out in the 3rd, the Sox sent in Aardsma.

They altogether trotted out 7 relief pitchers to stop the bleeding. 

The first 6 relievers pitched woozily, like a bottle of cough syrup was being passed around the bullpen.

6 firemen in 6.2 IP yielded 14 hits, 3 walks and 7 Runs.

When the top of ninth arrived, intoxicated by success, Barajas and Overbay drooled from the on deck area as they watched Papelbon warm up.

Clearly, they expected the parade of porkchops to continue.

But Pap succeeded where Beckett, Aardsma, Timlin, Buchholz, Masterson and Okijima had not.

Pap K’d Barajas looking on a 2-2, 95 mph fastball.


Then he K’d Overbay looking on a 1-2 94 mph fastball.


Finally, leading with his heater for the third time, he induced a fly to centerfield to record the only inning of the day in which a Blue Jay did not reach base.

 

The Ides of August

The Sox looked tired.  Just like they looked in August 2007 when they went 16 W – 13 L and suffered through a lack of timely hitting.  That lacking, for some reason under the radar of the press, has been present for 3 seasons.  You can look it up.

They then went 16-11 in September 2007 despite dropping a 4 game set to Toronto,  and then recorded 11 W -3 L in the post-season.

They can do it again.  They will do it again.

 
 
 
 

 

 

Dejected Josh

Dejected Josh

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Josh Beckett, RED SOX, Ted Williams | Tagged: | 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 »

STAN MUSIAL, the Man’s own story

Posted by athomeatfenway on December 25, 2007

Stan Musial, the Man’s own story.  As told to Bob Broeg.  Doubleday.  1964

This is one of the most entertaining and easiest to read baseball autobiographies in existence.

From the start, Musial writes with intelligence and wit.  Stan met John F.Kennedy when he was running for President in 1959.  Musial met JFK again 3 years later at the 1962 All Star Game .  Stan reminded JFK  that at their first meeting Kennedy had said, “They tell me you are too old to play ball and I’m too young to be President, but maybe we’ll fool them.”   Kennedy chuckled as Stan said, “I guess we fooled them all right, Mr. President.”

That meeting at the “brand new” D.C. Stadium in ’62 was poignant.    JFK, at age 45, was the youngest President ever.  Musial, at age 42, was in the midst of hitting for a .330 average w 19 HR’s.  They both defied the odds.

Musial defied the odds over his entire career with a performance so consistently excellent it may be unmatched  —  in its consistency.   Stan got 1,815 hits at home in St. Louis — and exactly the same number — 1,815  — on the road.  That’s over 22 seasons, friends.  He batted .325 in April, .323 in May, .334 in June, .327 in July, .327 in August, and .344 in September.  Wow !   He left the game with the MLB record in 17 different hitting categories – including most extra-base hits and total bases.

Not bad for a guy originally signed as a pitcher, eh ?

Musial’s story is a link to the past.  He writes how negotiations between Players and Owners after WWII made “tremendous” improvements to the pension plan, and even resulted in bus transportation from hotel to ballpark, meal money increased to $8 a day, two uniforms provided instead of one per season, and families being allowed to travel to Spring Training with Players. Yesteryear’s gritty players bear little resemblance to today’s player-tycoons.

This book is a must-read for Cardinal fans.  Musial’s loyalty and affection for his teammates resonate.  He pays tribute to Enos (Bosco) Slaughter,  Harry “The Cat” Breechen, Terry (Tee) Moore , and Johnny Mize.  Stan states that the St. Louis front office pre-empted an extended era of excellence by unloading Mize and others.  The Cards went to 4 World Series between 1942 and 1946.   Musial says they should have gone to 4 or 5 more.   Had they kept their team together, they would have given the Yankees a run for their money as perennial champs.  They were stacked with players, and this book familiarizes us with all of those talented Cards.

Stan has a knack for making and keeping friends.  Dickie Kerr, the little lefty who won two World Series starts for the 1919 Black Sox, was Musial’s first Manager.  That gig was at Class D Daytona.  Kerr and his wife Pep took a liking to Musial and his wife Lil, even boarding them at their rented house in Daytona.  Musial’s first child was named after Kerr, and the two couples remained close until Dickie & Pep’s  death in 1963.  Musial was a fairly erratic hurler when he got to Daytona, but Kerr guided him to 18 mound victories that year, and wisely played him in the outfield  between starts to showcase his batting for Cardinal scouts.   Stan’s life turned on small things, chance meetings, strong influences.

Some say happiness lies in being good at your work and being good at getting along with others.  I think it was Freud and Erickson who said it.   Love and work, that’s what it’s all about.  Clearly Musial is great at both.   Baseball fanatics should do themselves a favor and read this book, if only to appreciate this low-profile superstar.   The book, like the Man, gets an A+.

You can shop and/or learn more about Musial at his web-site,  www.stan-the-man.com/ He will be 88 years young next Nov. 21.

Posted in BASEBALL, BASEBALL BOOKS, RED SOX, St. Louis Cardinals, Stan Musial, Ted Williams | 3 Comments »