Monday, October 29, 2012

Cecil Who? 10/30/12

Hey baseball fans!

I'm back with another post! Sorry I haven't put out anything in the last few days. School has been pretty tough on me. I hope all of you on the east coast are safe and sound in your homes because of Hurricane Sandy. Anyway, let's get to the post, shall we? Today, I will be telling you all about a player that played during the time of Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. This player is not very well known, but is considered by many to be the third best (to DiMaggio and Williams) of his era. Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce you to Cecil Travis.

Travis signed with the Washington Senators before the 1933 season as a third baseman. In his first career game, he got five hits! He is the second and last person to do that to date (Fred Clarke also did it in 1894). Cecil hit .302 in 18 games in 1933 at the age of 19, but did not play in the five-game loss in the World Series to the Giants that year. In 1934, he took over the starting role at third base and proceeded to hit .319 that season. Over the next four seasons, he batted .318, .317, .344, and .335. In 1938, the year he hit .335, he made it to his first All-Star Game. After a dismal .292 in 1939, he put together All-Star caliber seasons in 1940 and 1941, batting .322 and .359, respectively (the .359 in '41 was a distant second to Williams' .406 that year).

Travis was enlisted into the Army at the beginning of 1942 and served until 1944. Stationed in the States until brought to Europe in '44, he suffered a horrible case of frostbite during the Battle of the Bulge. He had to undergo surgery to prevent amputation of his feet. He was awarded a Bronze Star for his bravery. However, when he came back to baseball in 1945 at the age of 31, he was not the same player. Over the next three years, he batted .241, .252, and .216. He was forced to retire midway through the 1947 season.

His career stats are as follows: 1,544 hits, 665 runs, 657 RBIs, 27 homers, and 23 stolen bases in 1,328 games. Although his career stats aren't pretty, he will be remembered by many as one of the greatest hitters of his era. Had he stayed healthy, he probably would've been a Hall of Famer. He may not be a Hall of Famer, but he is an American hero who should always be remembered.

P.S. - A special shout-out today to Lenny Neslin of the Daily News who convinced me to upgrade my blog's font to a better one for everyone.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

MLwwB: What if the Boss had bought the Indians? 10/24/12

Hey baseball fans!

I just started a really cool new blog series for More Than A Fan called ML"whatwould"B. It discusses famous events in baseball history and looks at what might have happened if history had gone a different way.  For my first post, I wondered what would have happened if George Steinbrenner had bought the first baseball team that he looked at, the Cleveland Indians. If you want to know the answer, just click here.  One sneak peek: Derek Jeter isn't the king of New York!

Hope you like this new series. If you do, send me your comments and suggestions.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Holy Cow, It's The Scooter!! 10/22/12

Hey baseball fans!

I'm back with another blog post! This post is about a certain shortstop; a shortstop that could field, bunt, and broadcast Yankee games, and who happens to be in the Hall of Fame. All the old folks who are reading this probably know this ballplayer already, but if you don't, let me give you a hint: Scooter.

Phil Rizzuto, a Brooklyn native, stood at five foot six and weighed 150 pounds. Casey Stengel, the manager of the Dodgers of 1937, said he would never amount to anything. Funny, Branch Rickey, owner of the Cardinals during 1945, said the same thing about Yogi Berra. Both became stars, but first was the Scooter, who got that nickname from his minor league teammates because of the way he ran the bases. He was drafted by the Yanks in '37 and played his entire career with the Bronx Bombers from 1941-1956 (he missed 1943-1945 because of military service). He went to five All-Star games and had his best season in 1950, when he won the MVP Award with a .324 BA and excellent defense with the help of double-play partner, Billy Martin. Phil has one of the worst careers for a Hall of Famer, only batting .273, hitting only 38 homers and 563 RBIs. He was a pretty good bunter, but he was really well-known for his broadcasting. With the help of his trademark slogan "HOLY COW!!", he made Yankee games as fun as can be for people to watch, from 1957-1996. He called many famous hits in Yankee history, like Maris' 61st homer of 1961 and Derek Jeter's first of his career in 1996. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1994, with his bowling alley-opening best buddy Yogi Berra (also in the Hall of Fame) in the audience in Cooperstown. Rizzuto sadly died in 2007 because of pneumonia, but he will be remembered by many as a wonderful player, broadcaster, and Yankee.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Minnesota Miracle 10/19/12

Hey baseball fans!

Sorry I haven't posted in a few days. Just busy with school. Anyway, today, I will be blogging about a great outfielder for the Twins in the '80s and '90s. He was known for his style of playing a game as if it was his last. Ladies and gentleman, I give you Kirby Puckett.

The Chicago native played for the Minnesota Twins for his entire 12-year career, from 1984-1995. He was a ten-time all-star, two-time World Series champion, six-time gold-glover, and just plain amazing. His career batting average of .318 is ranked 58th in history. He also had 2,304 hits, 207 homers, and 1,085 RBIs. One of his most legendary moments came in the 1991 World Series against the Braves. In the bottom of the 11th in Game 6, Kirby smacked a homer to win the game. In his previous at-bats he hit an RBI triple and a single with a stolen base. The Twins went on to win that World Series. They also won the World Series of '87, where the Cardinals just couldn't win in the raucous Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. Puckett could have had much better stats and a longer career if he didn't get glaucoma during Spring training of 1996. If you don't know what that is, it's a disease that causes blindness. He died very young, March 6, 2006, because of a stroke. Yes, he is just another Hall of Famer, but the roly-poly, always smiling, enthusiastic outfielder who provided magical plays for Minnesota will always be remembered by the adoring fans of baseball.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Baseball's Mount Rushmore 10/15/12

Hey baseball fans!

It is officially time to learn who would be's Mount Rushmore! The way I evaluated who made the cut is based on his contributions to baseball and his similarities to the President that he represents. Hope you enjoy:

George Washington - Babe Ruth:
Washington was the first President of the United States and helped the nation gain independence from Great Britain. Ruth was the first real baseball star who everyone knew and helped baseball gain publicity throughout the country because of his exciting play.

Thomas Jefferson - Lou Gehrig:
Jefferson, overshadowed by Washington, was a great leader in his own quiet way. He was also one of the first Presidents of the United States and performed this task with great consistency. Gehrig, overshadowed by Ruth for most of his career, was the first captain of the Yankees and led the team with a quiet fist. Also, he performed the act of captain of the Yankees with great consistency, playing in 2,130 consecutive games, the all-time record for more than 60 years.

Theodore Roosevelt - Willie Mays:
Teddy was an all-around person in his skills and interests. He was also the youngest president in U.S. history. Willie was very good in MLB at a very young age. He was in baseball at the age of 20, won Rookie of the Year in 1951, won his first MVP Award at the age of 23, and made his famous World Series catch only three years into his career. Willie is also considered the best all-around player of all time.

Abraham Lincoln - Jackie Robinson:
Abe had a big impact on civil rights during the time of his presidency and brought the country together by ending the Civil War. Jackie broke the sports color barrier and, in simple words, integrated baseball forever.

Hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please tell all your friends about it, if you did.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

An Interview with Walter Johnson (Sort Of) 10/14/12

Hey baseball fans!

Before I get to telling you all who I think deserves to be on baseball's Mount Rushmore, let me tell you who I have just interviewed: Walter Johnson (aka "the Big Train")! I know what you're all thinking: how is it possible to interview someone who's already dead? My answer to you is that I did this interview like my interview with the Sultan of Swat, Babe Ruth. Instead of reaching out to the Walter Johnson Museum (which doesn't even exist), I reached out to the next best thing: his 89-year old daughter, Carolyn Johnson Thomas. I called her at her house and asked her to answer some questions in the way she thinks her father would have answered them if he were alive today.

If you want to know more about this great pitcher (who had the second most wins and the most shutouts of all time), click on this link from my prior Proficient Pitchers blog post on him. Anyway, here's the interview:

Matt: Who was the toughest hitter you ever pitched against?
Walter: Probably, Babe Ruth.

Matt: If you were playing today, who would you want to pitch to?
WalterBryce Harper, definitely.

Matt: When did you start using your sidearm delivery?
Walter: I never used anything else.

Matt: What was your favorite ballpark to pitch in?
Walter: Griffith Stadium, home of my team, the Washington Senators.

Matt: Were you excited to be part of the first Hall of Fame class?
Walter: It was a really big honor and I'm proud of that accomplishment.

Matt: Were you friendly with any of the Hall of Famers from your time?
Walter: I got along with everybody. Even Ty Cobb was pretty nice to me.

Matt: You were known for a great fastball that hissed by a batter. If there were radar guns back in the time you pitched, how do you think your fastball would compare to pitchers from today like Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson?
Walter: I think it would hold up pretty well compared to those guys.

Matt: What should MLB be doing to educate the young fans of today about baseball history?
Walter: I think they're doing pretty well. The sport is widely publicized throughout the nation. (Note from Matt: Walter has been in the news a lot lately due to the Nationals' run and also because he is one of the all time greats!!)

Well, that's the interview. I know that the answers are kind of short, but imagine that this is Walter Johnson saying these things. Anyway, I hope you all liked the interview. For my next post, I will tell you all who I think deserves to be on baseball's Mount Rushmore. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Who Should Be in the Hall of Fame, But Isn't (Some Guys I Missed) 10/13/12

Hey baseball fans!

Recently, I've been working on a blog series for More Than A Fan about baseball players who I think should be in the Hall of Fame, but aren't. So far, I've covered players from before 1970, the 1970's and the 1980's. I was about to do my next post on players from the 90's but, after doing more research, I realized that I missed some guys.  So here is the link to my post on the four more guys I missed who I think should be in the Hall. After this, I will do my post on players from the 90's. Hope you like who I put down.

By the way, I've also started a really cool new series of blog posts for More Than A Fan. It's totally different, and the first post will involve George Steinbrenner and the Cleveland Indians.  That's all I'm going to say. So keep on reading my blog!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Baseball At Its Weirdest 10/11/12

Hey baseball fans!

Today is finally the day you will all know who the "Chicken Man" is (hint: he had 3,010 career hits)! In other words, today, I will be blogging about some of the most interesting (and strangest) baseball superstitions and customs of all time. Hope you enjoy:

Moises Alou
This great ballplayer never got callouses on his hands and never wore batting gloves! Why? He would urinate on them before every game in order to make them tougher. It paid off (except for the smell of his hands) in the end, though. He hit .303 lifetime with 332 homers. Do you think his teammates shook his hand after he homered?

Kevin Rhomberg
In the '80s when Kevin would get tagged out on the base paths, he would then tag the person who tagged him, trying to start a game of tag. Indians fans loved to watch this, which is why he was very entertaining to watch.

Don Robinson
Once a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, Robinson would never catch a ball that was supposed to be used to pitch in the inning. If an ump threw him the ball, he would not catch it. He would make sure that it came to a complete stop after rolling and then he would pick it up.

Joe DiMaggio
The great Yankee of the '30s and '40s always had a ritual when he went out to his center field position: he would touch second base on the way to the outfield.

Mark McGwire
One of the most disgusting superstitions in baseball: he wore the same athletic cup in every single one of his games in his 16 seasons of the MLB that he did in high school. I have no idea why someone would have even known to ask him, "Hey Mark, how long have you had that cup?" It makes no sense. Nonetheless, it's pretty funny.

Richie Ashburn
This Hall of Famer for the Phillies respected his bat very much; so much so that he slept with it every night with the hope that it would make him good at the plate the next day.

Mike Hargrove
He didn't earn the nickname the "Human Rain Delay" for nothing. His pre-batting ritual took him over 40 seconds!

Jim Palmer
You all should be familiar with this superstition based on my interview with Jim: before every game, this Hall of Fame pitcher for the Orioles would eat a full stack of pancakes. Well, it's official. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Wade Boggs

For those of you who don't know already, BOGGS IS THE CHICKEN MAN!!! Why? He ate a full plate of fried chicken before every game.

What do all think? Weird, right? Either way, there's no baseball without some weird stuff, and these superstitions just about sum up the MLB's history of weirdness. Anyway, I hope you all liked this post. In my next post, you will all find out one thing: Who's on baseball's Mount Rushmore? Check back in a  couple of days for that post. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Kid Blogger Interviews Youngest Starting Pitcher Ever 10/6/12

Hey baseball fans!

Before I get to my blog about the Chicken Man, I have another interview! This one is about Jim Derrington, the youngest pitcher EVER to start a game in baseball history. Let me tell you a little about him:

Jim Derrington was drafted by the Chicago White Sox during the 1956 season at the age of 16. He made his first major league start on September 30 of that year, when he faced the Kansas City Athletics at Municipal Stadium. He lasted six innings, giving up five runs on nine hits. He was charged with the loss when Chicago lost the game 7-6. He pitched the following year, winning none and losing one. He would never pitch again from the end of '57 to '61 due to an elbow injury, when he announced his retirement. Since he was a kid himself when he pitched, and I'm a kid blogger, I thought it would be cool to interview him and, thanks to some detective work, we tracked him down. Here's the interview:

Matt: How did you get into MLB at the age of 16?
Jim: I was signed right out of high school by Chicago. They didn't have drafts like they do today. The rule was back then that as soon as you were drafted, you had to play two years with the team that signed you.

Matt: Did you stop going to high school?
Jim: I skipped my last two years of high school and graduated at 16.

Matt: Did your teammates or other players tease you for being so young?
Jim: No. But there was a small amount of animosity in the team, because I was making more money than a lot of the players.

Matt: Did you travel on the road with the team? Did your parents travel with you?
Jim: I did travel with the team, but my parents were not with me.

Matt: Who was the toughest hitter you had to face? If you were pitching today, who would you like to face?
Jim: Probably, Al Kaline. Today, I would want to pitch to anybody.

Matt: Since I want to be a sports journalist and started my blog as a kid at 13 years old, what advice would you, as the youngest kid to ever start an MLB game, have for me?
Jim: Listen a lot. It really helped me when I started my career. Also, you have to know your own strengths. Just because someone else became a Hall of Fame journalist doesn't mean you're going to be one. Just try your best.

Matt: What should Major League Baseball be doing to educate the young generation about baseball history?
Jim: I don't know, really. Personally, I couldn't get enough of baseball as a kid. A kid just needs to like baseball history and educate him/herself.

Hope you all liked the interview. Jim was a really great guy and I want to thank him again.  Like I said in my last post, in my next post, I will tell all of you who the Chicken Man is and what a nickname like that has to do with baseball. Check back in a few days for that post. Thanks again for reading!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Al Leiter, He's All Righter 10/3/12

Hey baseball fans!

My post today is about a very well-liked pitcher in the Mets and Yankees' nations. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mr. Al Leiter.

Alois Terrance Leiter, a New Jersey native, was drafted by the Yankees in the 1984 draft and was brought up to the big leagues in 1987. His career lasted from then until 2005. In his career with the Yanks, Blue Jays, Marlins and Mets, he won 162 games and lost 132. You had to have grown up watching Al to appreciate his true talent. He was a very exciting pitcher, who won four pennants and was awarded three World Series rings. Two wins in '92 and '93 with the Blue Jays and another in '97 for the Fish. In 2000, he went to the World Series with the Mets, but (happily) lost to the Yankees. On top of all that, after his career ended, Al started a broadcasting career and won an Emmy Award. He has also won the Roberto Clemente Award and the Branch Rickey Award for his charitable work. So, all in all, Al was and is a great person on and off the field, and the only person I know whose name is Alois.

Thanks for reading this post. Hope you all enjoyed it.

Anyway, for my next post, I will be writing about someone named the Chicken Man. I know what you're all thinking: How could a name like "the Chicken Man" be associated with baseball? You'll have to check back here in a few days to find out.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Who Should be in the Hall of Fame, but isn't (1980-1989) 10/2/12

Hey baseball fans!

Recently, I've been doing some guest blogging for the super-cool web site, More Than a Fan, where I've written posts about who should be in the Hall of Fame from players who started playing before 1970 and players who started playing between 1970 and 1979.  Well, today is part three in the series, those players who should be in the Hall of Fame and started playing between 1980-1989. Can you guess who I picked? One of them is my dad's all time favorite player. If you want to read more, please click on this link to the More Than a Fan post.

Hope you liked my latest picks.

Finally, Baseball with Matt is now on Twitter.  So if you want to follow my blog and do some tweeting, just go to @BaseballwMatt.   And I now have a Twitter followers counter on the bottom of the right column of my blog -- I'm already at over 215 followers!!!!

P.S.  By the way, for those of you following the recent mustache survey, Rollie Fingers' present day mustache killed Luis Tiant's present day mustache by a 19 - 4 vote!!