Posts Tagged ‘Dustin Pedroia’
Posted by athomeatfenway on December 24, 2009
Posted by athomeatfenway on December 22, 2009
SWEET SPOT, 125 Years of Baseball and the LOUISVILLE SLUGGER
David Magee and Philip Shirley. Triumph Books, 2009. 182 oversized pages. Copiously illustrated with archival photos.
This wonderful book blends the histories of the Hillerich & Bradsby company with that of Major League Baseball, starting in 1884, when Pete Browning accepted Bud Hillerich’s invitation to make a replacement for the bat he had just cracked.
John “Bud” Hillerich was the black sheep of the family, and his love for baseball soon diversified their lines of butter churns and bed posts.
Browning, the hard of hearing Louisville outfielder who refused to slide and caught flies standing on one leg, would soon win a batting championship with Hillerich’s bat. Hillerich catered to professional players and gained a share of the professional bat market.
In 1884, the business was called J.F. Hillerich Job Turning. Father would begrudgingly recognize the son in 1897 by re-naming it J.F Hillerich & Son.
It seems Bud Hillerich deserves 99.9% of the credit for creating his legendary family business. Those who came before him rejected baseball. Those who came after him were good stewards that recovered from their rare mistakes.
The bat that Bud made for Browning and others in the early days also had a different name. It was called the “Falls City Slugger” in tribute to Louisville’s location at the Falls of the Ohio River.
Bud Hillerich replaced production of wooden churns & bowling balls with baseball bats -against his father’s will. Overtime, Louisville Slugger, which Bud trademarked in 1894, became a high quality brand.
Bud conducted business in The Polo Grounds, Baker Bowl, the Huntington Avenue Grounds and their like. He built relationships and made bats for the best players in the majors.
Company history took a shocking turn in 1910 when a fire decimated their spring stock just as it was to be shipped to retail stores, a niche that drove 74% of their revenue at that time.
Recovered but wounded financially, the Hillerichs pondered whether to fold the business, sell it, or attempt to manufacture something else entirely.
J.F. Hillerich, the founder, decided to sell the business in 1911.
In his 60’s and unwilling to hand over the company to son Bud, J.F. accepted $125,000 for “controlling interests in all facets of the business, including machinery, brand, and receivables, to 33-year old Frank Bradsby.” The company was renamed J.F. Hillerich & Sons.
Bradsby, a super salesman who helped to build the Simmons Hardware retail chain, “had as much business acumen as he did sales savvy.”. He knew Bud was the backbone of the bat business, so he sold him back part of the business and made him President of the company.
Smart guy, that Frank Bradsby.
Bradsby collaborated with Bud to sign players to autograph model contracts for retail stores. This caused total sales to soar by 600% by 1916. The addition of golf equipment (Powerbilt) that year added even more revenue to the growing company.
Bradsby worked with Bud and his family up until his death in 1937. Under pressure from rebuilding their flood ravaged LVS facility in the midst of the Great Depression, Bradsby suffered a fatal heart attack aboard a train bound for Baseball’s Winter Meetings in Chicago.
He left behind a company that supplied 80 % of the bats in pro baseball and 60% of all other bats sold in the U.S.A.
LVS would be the dominant brand in bats up until 1970 when a tannery in Tullahoma, Tennessee decided to produce a bat made from Aluminum.
Prior to 1970, Worth had only made leather covered baseballs and softballs at its tannery. But an employee named John Parish sensed that there was a new market in a very old idea, one that could challenge LVS’s stranglehold on the bat market.
Aluminum bats were first patented in the 1920’s, but players did not then warm to them. Worth received a completely different reaction when they brought them to market 50 years later. Little League players quickly purchased aluminum bats, preferring the cost effectiveness due to the bat’s durability. They didn’t break !
Little League officially accepted the aluminum bat in 1971, and the NCAA did the same in 1974. Within a year, H & B’s all time bat production peaked…..and then it dropped.
Easton soon entered the aluminum bat market, too.
By 1976, H & B production fell from 7 million to 1 million bats annually.
H & B didn’t see all this coming. They were slow to react. 8 years after Worth took the first bite out of them, H&B finally bought an old Alcoa plant in California and launched their first all in-house aluminum bat production.
In between the utter domination achieved in 1916 and the cataclysmic losses in 1976, the Louisville Slugger story is packed with fascinating associations with Babe Ruth, Gehrig, Musial, Ted Williams, Mantle, Killebrew and many others.
Page after page details the history of baseball and the H & B company, from Alexander Cartwright to Longoria and Jeter.
Embedded in this book among the photos of knob ends, superstars, and model records are tantalizing nuggets of baseball lore past and present.
Here are a few……….
Babe Ruth & Johnny Bench both used an R43 model. Babe’s weighed 37 to 40 ounces. Bench’s weighed far less. Bench was strong and had massive hands, but he couldn’t swing the same weight as the Bambino. Time, and the chubbiness of Babe in his later years, obscured just how powerful Ruth’s body was.
Dustin Pedroia, the little guy with the big swing, uses a black finished, maple S318 cupped LVS which is 33.5” long and weighs 30.5 ounces. This web-site has for 2+ years consistently been asked to share what size and weight bat D.P. uses. It’s a mystery to so many because what they see visually just doesn’t compute. The bat looks disproportionately large and it is illogical to think he can control the lumber. Thanks to the authors, we now know specifically what he swings.
Ken Griffey, Sr. was liberal when introducing his young son to different bat brands, even the ones he himself did not use. Junior tried Cooper, Adirondack, and others. But Ken Griffey, Jr. chose & stuck with LVS model C271 as he smashed 630 HR (5th All Time) and 1,829 RBI (16th All Time). He used the C271 to become the only player to hit the B & O Warehouse behind right field at Camden Yards with a bomb.
Red Sox Scout Early Johnson cultivated a relationship with Harmon Killebrew long before he appeared on the radar of the Washington Senators. Johnson put the hook in Killebrew for good when he gave the teenaged Killer a LVS model W166, the same model that Ted Williams used. Soon, Killebrew gave the Sox the inside track to match the $12,000 bonus he was offered by the Nats. Incredibly, the wealthy Red Sox passed on the $12,000 investment and the 573 career HR’s that went along with it.
Two photo pages of model records are eye-popping. Mantle swung a K55, but he also ordered M110 and B220 as he went head-to-head with Maris in ’61. Yogi Berra went along with Bench and Ruth in the use of the R43. Rod Carew ? H185, R161 and C243. Gehrig frequented a 37 ounce A-1 in ’31.
Bat lovers and baseball historians alike will love this book. After you read it, you can supplement the experience with a visit to the web-site of the Louisville Slugger Museum at http://www.sluggermuseum.org/default.aspx.
Posted by athomeatfenway on October 31, 2008
THE MVP, THE COACHES, THE BAT
This post was written one week before Dustin Pedroia was announced as the winner of the 2008 Al MVP Award.
Artists paint and musicians compose. Artists do their thang. It comes from inside. Who knows why. Only those closest to Dustin Pedroia know what is driving him to be the competitive, overachieving pride of Woodland, California.
Something burns inside Pedroia.
Don’t take my word for it. Read what his Woodland High School Coaches & A.D. have to say……
5 VS. 1 IS A FAIR FIGHT
The Woodland Athletic Director
JOHN MORELLI is the current AD at Woodland H.S. in Woodland, California and knew Pedroia even earlier. John recalls that in Jr. High, Dustin played shortstop, may have pitched his first year, showed versatility, and shined like a star throughout his entire youth career.
Pedroia is a 2001 graduate of Woodland High School where he was a three-time All-Delta League selection, never hit below .445, and captured league MVP honors. He took All State and area honors multiple times.
Woodland is a farming community of under 60,000 residents located west of Sacramento.
Woodlanders read the Bee, but more often read the Daily Democrat. High school kids read The Orange Peal. Their farms produce corn, wheat, sunflower — and tomatoes that end up in your ketchup bottle.
Mr.Morelli has seen the current Red Sox second baseman & MVP-contender play occasionally on regular TV. John does not have cable, which gives him a Thoreau-like balance most of us lack.
When John thinks of Dustin’s MVP possibilities he says that it’s just plain fantastic to have a young man from Woodland succeeding in MLB on the highest level.
John says the MVP talk comes up in the faculty lounges, at the football games, the volleyball games, and elsewhere around Woodland.
John says Dustin has raised Woodland’s profile & made everyone proud. It’s not every day a Woodland kid hits the pro’s, although the town was made proud by Tony Torcato. Torcato batted .298 in 43 Games as a lefty corner outfielder for The SF Giants between 2002 and 2005.
John says Dustin stood out from the start. When bombardment was played in gym class, the teachers marveled at how Pedroia did simultaneously avoid a ball, catch a ball, and throw yet another ball to knock a player out. ALL SIMULTANEOUSLY.
Dustin’s coordination is so good that John Morelli was comfortable challenging him against a team of 5.
5 vs. 1.
Bombardment, in John’s opinion, is a good measuring tool and Dustin was one of the very best.
He never lost.
John says the scuttlebutt on Dustin in H.S. is just what it was in MLB, …he’s awful small, he hits well, he makes no errors, he reads situations well, he runs well, he goes 110% all the time ……but it’s doubtful he will make it due to size…..
Based on what John Morelli knows of Pedroia’s 2008 performance and the competition for the award this year, the MVP has certainly been earned by DP in John’s mind. He can’t imagine someone else taking it away.
HE NEVER GETS BEAT & IT’S C-O-N-T-A-G-I-O-U-S
The Woodland Assistant Coach
FELIX CASTILLO is the current Baseball Coach at Woodland. He served as Assistant Coach when Dustin was there. To Felix, Pedroia is a character guy.
Felix believes Pedroia is able to perform above his limited size, strength & speed due to his mental approach. He has the talent, but he also has a contagious will to win. Pedroia gets a team going in the right direction. Anytime you can get a leader with his type of confidence and toughness it will be passed to his team mates.
With regard for the MVP consideration, Felix feels Pedroia’s numbers speak for themselves. And when you consider that Manny Ramirez departed on July 31, it is even more remarkable how far Pedroia took the BoSox. “I believe he’s got to be the guy who takes the MVP.”, says Castillo.
Felix suspects that what enables Dustin to perform above his limits is character. To paraphrase Felix: It’s his confidence. He rises to the occasion, has mental confidence, Superstar guts. Pedroia is driven only by winning so he plays with enthusiasm, and he never gets beat. If he gets no hits in a game, he considers it a fluke. And he’s big in a game 7 situation.
Felix touts Pedroia’s defense as phenomenal, endowed with incredible hand-eye, without great speed but with great range, has a knack for making plays you don’t see often, certainly deserving a Gold Glove Award this year.
How does Felix feel about Dustin as an MVP candidate ? “It couldn’t happen to a better guy.”
Felix’s best memory of a Pedroia performance is the famous Clovis game. Rob Rinaldi will share the details next…….
HE WAS GOING TO FIND A WAY TO WIN.
The Baseball Coach
ROB RINALDI, Baseball Coach when Dustin was at Woodland, is eloquent about Dustin’s MVP credentials: “Clearly I’m not objective…he should win…he’s a difference maker in so many ways…..he’s an iron man while others get hurt…guys in the clubhouse see it and respect it…. He works long pitch counts and has the fire everyday……..last (rookie) year they were going to have him bat 9th and play defense and he went way above and beyond expectations….”
Rinaldi coached Dustin’s older brother, Brett. Little Dustin came to Brett’s High School practices as a Little Leaguer. As he took BP with the older boys, “he thought he was as good as the varsity guys, he wanted it at the same speed, and hit liners all over the field. He was a Switch then, dabbling as a lefty hitter.”
Rob recalls that Dustin was the Quarterback of the Freshman Football team. As a QB, Pedroia couldn’t run, but was a great leader. Dustin broke his leg on the gridiron, so severely broke it that Dustin didn’t join Frosh Baseball until mid-year, and then he played hobbled.
Even hobbled, it took just two games for Rob to realize that Pedroia was the best among many good baseball players. The injury ended Dustin’s football career and pre-empted one as a basketball point guard, another position at another sport for which he showed promise.
Outstanding among the memories at Woodland High was Dustin’s performance in a game against Clovis at the 2001 National Classic, the biggest High School Baseball Tournament of them all. Clovis had already won two mythical National titles & were inherently regarded with respect. Clovis had an extremely talented shortstop that Rinaldi had coached in camp the prior year. All year long, Rinaldi told Pedroia that the Clovis shortstop was of the highest caliber, building up the kid for 12 months until the day Clovis and Woodland checked into the same hotel before playing in the National Classic Consolation Game. Rinaldi said that when Pedroia learned the Clovis shortstop was in the house he blurted, “Which guy is he ? Go get him right now. I want to take grounders in the parking lot against him.”
The competitive fires burn with this guy.
Rob recalls that the Clovis kid had a great game. But the game Pedroia had was singular. First, Dustin put his team up 1-0 to the shock of the other team by scoring on a tag up from 3rd on a foul pop caught in front of one of the dugouts. Who the tags up and beats a throw from 90 feet ? A heady play. Next, with Woodland down 3-1 in the top of the 7th (and final) inning, Pedroia hits a 3-run homer to create a 4-3 lead. Last, in the field for the final 3 outs in the bottom of the 7th, Dustin starts a difficult double play, and then registers the 3rd out, closing out Clovis.
He was going to find a way to win.
He was going to show that Clovis kid who was better.
Rob makes the point that while Pedroia is the picture of competitiveness on the field, away from the field he is a great guy….no conceit or arrogance.
Bring him to Boston. Let him do his thang. Before you know it, he’ll be running the place.
I regret to say that schedules didn’t permit ASU Coach PAT MURPHY to speak with me, but Murphy graciously answered a few questions by email.
Question: Why is it Pedroia is able to perform above his limited size, strength & speed ?
Coach Murphy: Because his belief system is the best.
Question: What are your thoughts about Pedroia getting MVP consideration this year ?
Coach Murphy: He will win it.
Question: What is the most memorable performance or event involving Pedroia at ASU ?
Coach Murphy: Not just one! He was awesome for 3 years, every day.
A FEW QUESTIONS THAT REPEAT AND REPEAT
Athomeatfenway.com is repeatedly asked several questions about Dustin Pedroia. The questions pertain to Dustin’s ethnicity, and the specs of the bat he swings. Here are some reactions from the Coaches.
WHAT BAT DOES DUSTIN PEDROIA SWING ?
There’s a mystery about Dustin’s lumber. Listed at 5’9”, assumed widely to be 5’6” tall, his bat looks disproportionately large for a small player. With his height in dispute, speculation on bat specs become uncertain, too.
The Coaches, who should know better than anyone, made educated guesses.
Felix Castillo: 32 or 33 inches long weighing 30 oz.
Rob Rinaldi: 32.5 inches long weighing 31 oz.
Coach Murphy: 33 ½ inches in length, weighing 31 oz
Based on a little inside info from Rob, I’ll bet on the Rinaldi answer.
DUSTIN PEDROIA : ETHNICITY
We get questions like “Is Dustin Pedroia Italian ?” every week presumably from fans who are Italian themselves and hope to confirm they share the same heritage. In various conversations with Woodland folk who know Dustin, the speculation is that he is of Spanish, and/or Portugese and/or Italian heritage.
He’s the quintessential American then, isn’t he ?
Well, that clears it up. Doesn’t it ?
PEDROIA OR HAMILTON
Josh Hamilton had a terrific year. He topped Dustin in RBI, homers, triples, BB, Slugging & striking out. Dustin beat Hamilton in B.A., Hits, Runs, doubles, stolen bases, sacrefice hits and to the bad side, grounding into double plays.. The Stats:
Hamilton played for team without a pitching staff.
Dustin carried a team that suffered a frequent lack of timely hitting. He fueled the Sox after Manny left.
Hamilton is a basher, and basher’s get the benefit of the doubt with MVP voters.
Hamilton’s personal story is one of addiction-recovery and religous-discovery over the 3 years.
Pedroia’s personal story is one of achieving beyond all expectations for a lifetime.
Hamilton is worthy of MVP votes.
But he’s no Dustin Pedroia.
What we see with Pedroia is like what we saw with Tony Gwynn. Gwynn lacked the body and speed to be a HOFer & Batting King, but he sure did do it.
Pedroia may be in the process of defining the post-steroid All Star. We’ll soon find out. His canvas is just partially completed.
Although none of his Coaches can be charged with impartiality, they are nonetheless correct.
The little guy has got to be the MVP.
Posted by athomeatfenway on November 24, 2007
The Sox are in the hunt for Johan Santana. The Twins want two young, cheap, excellent-upside players plus two minor league prospects. And now, Jon Lester, Clay Bucholz, and Jacoby Ellsbury, and possibly Coco Crisp are in the discussion. I’d really like to see Theo pull the trigger on this one. Give Jon Lester a plane ticket. Lester doesn’t get better with every start, he seems to get worse. He puts men on and struggles to have a clean inning. And, give Clay Buchholz a plane ticket, too, because a no-hitter doesn’t make Buchholz a solid major leaguer. Plenty of kids have had a big day in the spotlight. Remember Anibal Sanchez, who pitched a no-hitter in his 5th MLB start, then whoops, tore his labrum. Remember Bud Smith, who pitched a no-no for the Cards in 2000 at the age of 21, and pitched his final MLB game at the age of 22 ? AJ Burnett was 24 when he no-hit the Padres, but he’s 58W-54L since, with 8 trips to the D.L. in 7 years. Eric Milton, Jose Jimenez, the list goes on. Meanwhile, Santana brings a career winning pct. of .679, a 3.33 career ERA, and four sub-3.00 ERA seasons. He strikes out many and walks few. He has had just one stint on the D.L .- 6 years ago. At age 28, he could give his next team a great 5 year run as a #1 starter. I like a rotation of Beckett, Santana, Schilling, Wakefield and Matsuzaka. Holy Smokes ! Don’t you ? Schill, sadly, is not expected to be here in 2009. Send Lester, Buchholz plus two prospects for Santana. Just lock up Johan for 5 years before the trade gets done. And if they insist on Ellsbury in a package w Lester and prospects, do it ! Red Sox fans deserve a long, long extension of this heady era of Soxcess, and Santana will help extend it.