Monday, December 24, 2012

ML"what would"B: What if Ryan & Seaver Had Never Left the Mets 12/24/12

Hey baseball fans!

I put up another ML"what would"B post on More Than A Fan. In every ML"what would"B alternative history post, I discuss what would have happened if a famous event in baseball history had gone differently than it did in reality. For my latest post, I wondered what would have happened if Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver had stayed with the New York Mets for their whole careers. If you want to know the answer, just click here.

Hope you enjoy reading this one as much as I enjoyed writing it!  Happy holidays and new year to everyone!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

He's Not Malicious, He's Hal-icious 12/22/12

Hey baseball fans!

Today's blog will be about one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, which would explain why he is currently in the Hall of Fame. This pitcher pitched a majority of his career with the Detroit Tigers. His name is Hal Newhouser.

Hal pitched for the Tigers and Indians from 1939-1955. A seven-time All Star and a World Series champion in 1945, Newhouser's career record was 207-150 with a career ERA of 3.06. He also struck out 1,796 batters. I know those stats don't sound Hall of Fame-worthy, but just listen to what he did from 1944-1949: a record of 136-57, an ERA of 2.52, and 1,137 strikeouts! If he played like that his entire career, he might have been known as the best pitcher in baseball history! Anyway, going back to his career, he won two AL MVP Awards back to back in '44 and '45 and placed second in the MVP voting behind Ted Williams in 1946. In case you're wondering, he didn't win the Cy Young Award in those years because that award didn't start until 1956.

After retirement, Newhouser was a scout for the Astros, Orioles, Indians, and Tigers. In 1991, while with the Astros, Hal was credited with the discovery of  Derek Jeter, whom the Astros passed over for Phil Nevin in the 1991 draft. After Jeter went to the Yanks (thank you!), Newhouser quit his job with the Astros, because they ignored his advice about Jeter. A year later, 37 years after his retirement, Hal got into the Hall of Fame via the Veterans Committee. It was long overdue, but Detroit fans were happy nonetheless.

So, what have we learned from Prince Hal? We have learned that just because you didn't have the best pitching record, doesn't mean that you won't get into the Hall. So kids, don't strive to win 300 games in the bigs. Just strive to do well and have fun.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Roy to the World of Pittsburgh 12/19/12

Hey baseball fans!

Today's blog is about the pitcher who holds the record for the best single-season winning percentage in baseball history. He is known to some as Elroy.

It was October of 1959. Pirates fans everywhere were disappointed at their team for not winning the pennant and only going 78-76. There was, however, one bright spot during that year for Bucs fans: Roy Face! Who is Roy Face, you ask? Only the pitcher with the highest single-season winning percentage ever! That year, he went 18-1 with a 2.70 ERA. His winning percentage that year was .947, the best of all time (like I said before).  Sadly for Roy, his great year didn't earn him an MVP (he finished 8th) or Cy Young Award (he got zero votes).

Face didn't have the greatest of careers though, only going 104-95 in 16 years with a 3.48 ERA and a .523 winning percentage. However, he went 18-1 in 1959 AS A RELIEVER!!! That's how bad of a pitching rotation the Pirates had in 1959. He was the first modern closer in MLB history, and became the first pitcher to save more than 20 games in multiple seasons. He ended his career with 193 saves. It just goes to show that you can be a reliever and still make an impact on your team's wins and losses.

Shout-out to my friend Coach Moore for giving me the idea to write about Face. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

An Interview with the Hall of Fame President 12/16/12

Hey baseball fans!

I have another interview for you! This time, I interviewed National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum President Jeff Idelson! I talked to him a couple of days ago and he was a very nice and friendly guy. Click here to see the Hall of Fame's website. Anyway, let me tell you a little bit about Jeff:

Idelson began his involvement in baseball in junior high and high school as a vendor at Fenway Park, the home of the Red Sox. He went on to become an intern in the public relations department of the Sox from 1986 through 1988. Also, during that time, Jeff produced games for the Red Sox Radio Network. After that, he became the New York Yankees' director of media relations and publicity from 1989-1993.

In 1994, he served on the 1994 (Soccer) World Cup committee. Also in that year, Jeff joined the Hall of Fame Museum on September 26th and was appointed director of public relations and promotions. In 1999, he was named the Hall of Fame's Vice President of Communications and Education. On April 16, 2008, Jeff Idelson was named the President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. All in all, Jeff knows a lot about baseball history. Well, that's some background on the HoF Museum Prez, so without further ado, here's the interview:

Matt: As the President of the Baseball Hall of Fame, what is the favorite part about your job?
Jeff: Everything about my job is equally fun. Working with the staff and meeting Hall of Famers is a good time for me.

Matt: What major sports did you follow and play as a kid?
Jeff: I played baseball and basketball and I followed mainly baseball, basketball, and hockey. I followed football a little.

Matt: I know that you were on the 1994 World Cup organizing committee. Who was your favorite soccer player in that World Cup? Who is your favorite soccer player today?
Jeff: During the World Cup that year, I fell in love with the Brazilian team. They won the Cup that year. There was this one forward on the team named Bebeto who I really like. Now, I don’t really follow soccer because I'm so involved in baseball. I guess Ronaldo would be my favorite player today.

Matt: I saw that you produced games for the Red Sox Radio Network in 1987 and 1988. If you were to broadcast any game in the Red Sox history, which one would it be?
Jeff: I think it would have to be the last game of the 1903 World Series, where the Sox became the first team to win the modern World Series. It would also be fun to broadcast the last game of the ’04 World Series because of the Red Sox reversing the Curse of the Bambino.

Matt: Who is your favorite ballplayer of all time?
Jeff: I would say Jackie Robinson because he was the most influential. He opened up the sporting world to a whole new level.  He also made the United States a better country. He helped lay the foundation for Martin Luther King Jr. (Click here if you want to find out more about Jackie Robinson and click here to see an interview I did with his chief historian.)

Matt: Which are your favorite ballparks of all time?
Jeff: They would have to be Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, and Ebbets Field (see picture below). They’re all such memorable parks with such rich history.

Matt: What is your favorite World Series of all time?
Jeff: I think the 2001 World Series is my favorite because of how much drama there was. If two World Series games in a row go into extra innings, that specific Fall Classic is going to be memorable. The Hall actually has the bat that Luis Gonzalez used to hit the ball off Mariano Rivera to win that World Series (see below picture of Jeff with the bat). It's pretty cool.

Matt: When you joined the Hall of Fame Museum in 1994, there was a baseball strike. Did it affect the Museum in any way?
Jeff: Definitely. Attendance went way down for the next couple of years because there were no games to watch, meaning no history. Baseball was in a stage where it wasn't really America's national pastime. In those years, it was probably football. Baseball did resume its popularity soon after the strike, however.

Matt: What is your favorite artifact in the Hall? What artifact do you wish the Hall of Fame had?
Jeff: I really like the Jackie Robinson jersey that we have and the bat that the Babe used to hit his called shot. Another cool artifact in the Hall is Tim Robbins’ jersey from the movie “Bull Durham”. He was a pitcher in that movie and the movie is very famous. Some artifacts I wish we had in the Hall are the ball Bobby Thomson hit to win the ’51 pennant for the Giants and another one is the ball Carlton Fisk hit to win Game 6 of the ’75 World Series. That hit is pretty memorable. A cool artifact I wish we had was Ed Delahanty’s (see below) train ticket that he used to get on the train that he got kicked off of because of misbehavior. The train was going to the U. S. from Canada. After being kicked off, Ed tried to cross the train tracks separating the U. S. from Canada and he fell into Niagara Falls. Ed's plaque is currently in the Hall of Fame, but the ticket is in the bottom of Niagara Falls. That event happened in 1903.

Matt: Can you tell me something about yourself that most people don’t know?
Jeff: I was a DJ for three years and I used to play rock music. I loved the British Invasion music, like the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and the Who. (Check out more bands from the British Invasion and more by clicking here.)

Matt: Part of the Hall of Fame’s mission is education and connecting generations. Do you have any suggestions on how to educate the younger generation of baseball fans about baseball history?
Jeff: We do it all the time. The Hall goes to schools in all 50 states each year and educates the kids about baseball history and other subjects. We also have a scavenger hunt for kids at the Museum where they can collect baseball cards. It’s pretty cool.

Well, that's the interview. Shout-out to Jeff (see picture of him below) for taking the time to let me interview him. I hope you enjoyed reading this interview as much as I had doing it. Thanks for reading!

Friday, December 14, 2012

An Interview with the Official Historian for MLB 12/14/12

Hey baseball fans!

I just received the answers to the interview questions that I sent to.... John Thorn, the Official Historian for Major League Baseball! Thorn was appointed Official Baseball Historian for Major League Baseball by the Commissioner on March 1, 2011. He has written books like "Treasures of the Baseball Hall of Fame" and "The Hidden Game of Baseball". In June, 2006, he was awarded SABR's (Society of American Baseball Research) top award: the Bob Davids Award. In 2004, Thorn discovered documents that traced baseball back to 1791 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts! That's about 70 years before people say that baseball actually was invented! I think I've said too much about John already, so here's the interview:

Matt: What is your favorite World Series ever?
John: Of the ones I have witnessed in real life, 1960, because of the great upset that a Pirates victory represented and how thoroughly they were knocked around in the three games they lost. I have to mention 1986, too, because of my rooting interest in the Mets and the implausibility of their comeback from the brink of defeat in Game 6, particularly. Game Six of the 2011 Series was an alltime classic, too, as was Game Six in 1975. Of the World Series I have seen in my mind only, I'll go with 1912, the only Series ever to conclude with a final-inning comeback in a final game. There, you asked for one and I gave you five; sue me.

Matt: Who do you think are the three best hitters and three best pitchers in baseball history?
John: Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Barry Bonds; Walter Johnson, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux--and not necessarily in that order for either category.

Matt:What do you think are the top three moments in baseball history?
John: Defining moments as singular events, I must eliminate Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak as well as any season-long performances, or granting of MVP or Cy Young Awards.. 1947: Jackie Robinson integrates the game. 1951: A pennant turns on a single swing of Bobby Thomson's bat. 1975: Carlton Fisk's home run that reminded a nation, at a time when the game seemed to be slipping, of baseball's unique combination of excitement and suspense.

Matt: What is your favorite artifact in the Hall of Fame and what artifact do you wish they had?
John: Favorite artifact: the Gotham Base Ball Club pin of the 1850s. Artifact I wish they had: the Gotham Base Ball Club pin of the 1850s. This pin was lost in the 1990s during one of the Hall's periodic exhibit reconstructions. Here's what I wrote recently about the pin: To give an idea of how large a story a small artifact may tell, and how rich in association it may prove, allow me to tell you of a baseball pin no larger than a dime, along with a common nursery tale. “Three wise men of Gotham went to sea in a bowl,” went the Mother Goose rhyme; “and if the bowl had been stronger, then my rhyme had been longer.” Mother Goose's Histories or Tales of Passed Times was first published in London about 1775, based upon English and French sources, including Charles Perrault’s Contes de ma mère l’Oye (1695). There is more to this tale, but I will stop here for now, fearing that I may try your patience.

Matt: What's your favorite ballpark in baseball history?
John: The Ebbets Field is the lost home of memory for me, as I grew up as a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers. But the bathtub-shaped Polo Grounds was the greater park. Buck Ewing and Christy Mathewson played there, and that's where Babe Ruth began his glory years with the Yankees. And I saw my first major-league game there, on May 12, 1957.

Matt: How do you suggest MLB get kids more interested in baseball history?
John: Keep the stories alive--the legends spring to life for young people with imagination, like yourself. The game is about so much more than who won and who lost.

Matt: What is your fondest personal baseball memory?
John: Umpiring, in turn, my three sons' first Little League games.

Matt: As the official historian for MLB, can you describe what you do on a typical day?
John: There's something to do every day with the Origins Committee and Memory Lab. And I receive many letters, and participate in many research bulletin boards, to "keep up" with newfound events of long ago. The job of MLB's official historian is not merely to know--or know how to find--who did what and when, but to supply the perspective of the past to enhance fans' pleasure in the present.

I hope you enjoyed reading the interview. I sure enjoyed doing it.  Thanks again to John Thorn for doing such a great interview!!! He's a really good guy.

P.S. - I recently passed 20,000 page views on my blog and I couldn't have done it without everyone who reads my blog.  So thanks to all of you who read my blog. Lots more good stuff is in the works.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Wampum Walloper 12/10/12

Hey baseball fans!

Today, I will be blogging about a certain ballplayer who was very good at the major league level. He made seven All-Star Games in his 15-year career from 1963-1977. Ladies and gentleman, Dick Allen.

Dick "Richie" Allen started his career with the Phillies. In 1964, technically his second year in the bigs, he won the Rookie of the Year Award for the NL. He continued to post excellent stats in his years in Philly. After a couple seasons after him winning RoY, he started to be known as the "Wampum Walloper". He got this nickname because he was born in Wampum, Pennsylvania, and because of his power hitting that won over most of Phillies fans' hearts. Most of them.

After a fight with teammate Frank Thomas that resulted in Thomas being released the day after the fight, many Phillies fans were very mad at Dick. During Phillies home games, he was greeted by showers of food, garbage and debris. He eventually started to wear his batting helmet in the field because of this and earned the nickname "Crash Helmet", which was shortened to "Crash".

After 1969, he was traded to the Cardinals. He made the All Star team that year and established himself as one of the great power hitters of his day. After going to the Dodgers in 1971, Allen went to the White Sox before the 1972 season. He proceeded to win the MVP Award in the AL, hitting 37 homers,  113 RBIs, and batted .308. He continued to post solid stats until he retired in 1977. His final career stats were as follows: 351 homers, 1,119 RBIs, a .292 batting average, 1,848 hits, and 894 walks.

Sadly, Allen is not in the Hall of Fame. However, had he played longer, his stats might have been Hall of Fame-worthy. Shout-out to one of my biggest fans, Bart Fraenkel, the former mayor of my town, for giving me the idea to blog about Dick. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Ultimate Baseball One-Hit Wonder 12/8/12

Hey baseball fans!

Today, you will read about the best example of a one-hit wonder in baseball history. Enjoy.

Jim Konstanty had a very good 1950 season. The reliever for the NL pennant-winning Phillies went 16-7, had an ERA of 2.66, and collected 22 saves, earning him NL MVP honors. Some of the other players in the top ten that year were Stan Musial (2nd), Ralph Kiner (5th) and Gil Hodges (8th). Jim also made the All-Star team that year.

The only thing was that 1950 was Konstanty's only good year! He never went to another All-Star Game in his 11-year career from 1944-1956 (he missed '45 and '47 because of stints in the minor leagues) and he never had more than 12 saves in a season except for 1950! His overall career record was 66-48 and his career ERA was 3.46.

And to top off Jim's career, the year he won the NL MVP, the "Whiz Kid" Phils lost the World Series to the Yanks. Actually, they got swept. Ladies and gentleman, Jim Konstanty is the ultimate baseball one-hit wonder.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mustaches, Beards and Sideburns. Oh My! 12/5/12

Hey baseball fans!

I mustache you a question: Who do you think has the best facial hair and is in the Hall of Fame? Your answer will probably be in my list of top five mustaches, beards and sideburns of more recent ballplayers in the Hall of Fame.

Number Five: Rich Gossage
Why? "Goose" Gossage, with his classic horseshoe mustache, was always a danger to batters when he stepped to the mound as a reliever. He was known for his mustache, but couldn't grow it out a lot until he left the Yankees because of George Steinbrenner's "no facial hair" rule.

Number Four: Bruce Sutter
Why? The reliever elected into the Hall in 2006 had an awesome beard/sideburns combo. He is probably the Hall of Famer with the most facial hair on his Hall of Fame plaque.

Number Three: Mike Schmidt
Why? The slick-fielding and power-hitting Phillies third baseman had one of the best mustaches in baseball history. Philly fans loved it. For some of 1980, the year the Phillies won their first World Series, Schmidt was rockin' a mustache/beard combo. Later in his career, he shaved his famous mustache and grew out his sideburns. Don't worry, the Philly Facial Hair was back when he made his Hall of Fame induction speech in '95.

Number Two: Dennis Eckersley
Why? His mustache was very famous and was well-known around the MLB in the 1980s. What was even more famous was his long, flowing hair. Michael Kay, the announcer for the Yankees, said that he liked Eck's hair more than his mustache. Either way, the famous A's closer had some of the best facial hair in baseball history.

Number One: Rollie Fingers
Why? The Hall of Fame closer for the A's and Brew Crew is in the top spot on this list because his mustache is not only great, but famous. I have to give his barber shop-looking mustache some props for inspiring many baseball fans all over the country to grow this distinct mustache.

Well, that's my list of top five facial hair on a Hall of Famer. What's your top five? And what's your top five facial hair in baseball history of all players? Leave me a comment and tell me what you think. Thanks for reading!