Sunday, February 28, 2016

Hammerin' Hank's Salary Leaps on Leap Day 2/28/16

Hey baseball fans!

Over the years, baseball players' contracts have gotten higher and higher than they ever have before and such was the case on February 29, 1972. On this exact date, Hank Aaron became the first player in baseball history to make $200,000 per year when he signed a 3-year, $600,000 deal with the Atlanta Braves and, even though he was on the older side, "Bad Henry" was still very, very bad for those three years.

1972 was a wonderful year for Hank Aaron. At the age of 38, he smacked 34 homers out of the park while collecting 77 RBIs and 119 hits. He also made the All Star Game for the 22nd time in his career and was 16th in the NL MVP race. The next year, Aaron hit 40 home runs, the eighth time in his career that he hit 40+ homers in a single season, and drove in 96 RBIs. He batted over .300 for the final time in his career (.301 to be specific), made his 23rd career All Star Game, and placed 12th in the NL MVP voting. In the last year under his lucrative contract, the 40-year-old Aaron broke the all-time career home run record and finished the year with 20 homers and 69 RBIs and his final All Star Game appearance as an Atlanta Brave.

On November 2, 1974, Aaron was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers and then retired two seasons later. His 3-year, $600,000 contract may not look so huge now, but it certainty was gigantic back then and without that then-big contract, some players of today would be earning a lot less money. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Sunday, February 21, 2016

And My Hall of Fame Birthday Buddy Is...... 2/21/16

Hey baseball fans!

Over the past couple of posts, I've discussed things that have to do with my Hall of Fame birthday buddy. No, he didn't get into the Hall for his play, but rather his ability as an executive. Ladies and gentlemen, my Hall of Fame birthday buddy is...Tom Yawkey!

After a 111-loss season in 1932, the Boston Red Sox needed a change in the front office and it just so happened that someone was looking to buy the team. After receiving a multimillion dollar inheritance from his late uncle, Tom Yawkey, then only 30 years old, at the advice of Baseball Hall of Famer Eddie Collins, purchased the struggling Sox. He never saw his team win a championship when he was the owner, but Yawkey surely did transform the franchise from the MLB's laughingstock to one of its prime World Series contenders.

Tom Yawkey owned the Boston Red Sox from 1933-1976 and brought the team three American League pennants (1946, 1967, and 1975). He was a very aggressive owner, signing some of the best players of his era from other teams in a time when free agency wasn't popular. You might recognize some of those signed players' names: Joe Cronin, Jimmie Foxx, Rick Ferrell, Lefty Grove, Heinie Manush, Bobby Doer, Ted Williams, and Dom DiMaggio. All of those players were All Stars and all but DiMaggio are enshrined in Cooperstown. He also gambled on a few prospects, such as Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice, and Carl Yastrzemski, hoping they would become All Stars. Well, they became Hall of Famers.

Yawkey sure did bring in some of the best hitters and pitchers in baseball history onto his squad, but every great sports figure has some controversy to go along with his greatness. Yawkey was accused of being a racist. The Red Sox became the last team in the Major Leagues to field an African American player in 1959 (Pumpsie Green), 12 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier for the Dodgers, and Yawkey's racism was always believed to trigger many Red Sox moves involving African American players.

Despite his racism, Tom Yawkey was beloved by Red Sox fans. In fact, he was so beloved by the Red Sox fan base that the street where Fenway Park is located is named Yawkey Way. The cherished executive was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A Historic Year for Yaz and the Sox 2/16/16

Hey baseball fans!

Carl Yastrzemski was one of the greatest hitters in not just Red Sox history, but baseball history as well. His numbers are tremendous, which explains why he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989, his first year of eligibility. But perhaps Yaz's biggest accomplishment during his career came in 1967, when his BoSox were in the thick of one of the best pennant races in baseball history. Not only did he come up in the clutch, but he did so while making baseball history.

In 1966, Frank Robinson (pictured below) won the Triple Crown by leading the league in batting average (.316), home runs, (49), and RBIs (122). There hadn't been back-to-back Triple Crown winners since the 1930s and with pitching starting to become the focal point of the game, individual hitting statistics continued to decline. Yaz wasn't expected to do anything out of the ordinary that year by any means, except to be his own Yastrzemski-like self. Little did anyone know that he would end up having one of the greatest years ever.

At the end of the 1967 regular season, the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, and Minnesota Twins were all only separated by one game, with the Sox winning 92 games and Detroit and Minnesota winning 91. The Sox miraculously won the pennant, but that might not have been so without the help of their star left fielder, Carl Yastrzemski. Yaz finished the year with a .326 batting average with 44 home runs and 121 RBIs. His batting average was only the sixth best in baseball, but all the hitters who finished with better batting averages than him played in the National League, which means that Yaz won the 1967 AL batting crown. His 121 RBIs were the best in the game, eight ahead of the second place finisher, Harmon Killebrew. Killebrew and Yastrzemski tied for the league lead in homers at 44, but Yaz still technically led the league in out-of-the-parkers.

Wait a second: if Carl Yastrzemski led the AL in batting average, home runs, and RBIs in 1967, that means he won the 1967 AL Triple Crown! He also won 1967 AL MVP (his only one) and the Gold Glove Award for his play in left field. What a year for such an incredible hitter! Anyway, thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sox in Seven? Not During the Curse 2/10/16

Hey baseball fans!

I found out that I have a Baseball Hall of Fame birthday buddy, but I won't reveal who that is until my birthday, February 21st. But for my next couple of posts, I'll be talking about things related to him. So, for this post, it's time to talk about one of the greatest World Series droughts in history: the Boston Red Sox from 1918-2004.

In 1919, Babe Ruth was sold by the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees for $100,000. At the time, the exchange didn't seem like the worst deal in the world, but it ended up being basically just that. You see, prior to the sale of Ruth, the Red Sox were arguably the best team in baseball history, winning five of the first 15 World Series, but after their fifth championship in 1918, the Sox did not win the big one for a whopping 86 years. Because of the coincidental timing of the Sox selling Ruth and the drought, the deal with the Yankees became known as the Curse of the Bambino.

However, Boston did make four World Series during the 86-year period: 1946, 1967, 1975, 1986. In 1946, Ted Williams and the BoSox squared off against Stan Musial and the St. Louis Cardinals. In what is considered one of the more heartbreaking Series of all time thanks to a fielding mishap by Sox shortstop Johnny Pesky in Game Seven, the Cards took the '46 Fall Classic in seven games. In 1967, the Red Sox and Cardinals again met in the World Series, but Bob Gibson and the rest of the Cardinals' squad were able to pitch their way to another World Series title in seven games.

In 1975, the Red Sox met the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. Both clubs were full of All Stars and this Series is considered one of the best of all time. Like in 1946 and 1967, the Series came down to a seventh game, thanks to a walk-off, Series-tying 12th-inning homer by Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk in Game Six. Sadly for Bostonians, the Reds took Game Seven and the Series. 11 years later, the Red Sox and Mets faced off on baseball's biggest stage. Boston was one strike away from winning their first championship in 68 years, but the Mets rallied and walked off in  Game Six because of a botched attempt to field a ground ball by Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner. With all the momentum on their side, New York took care of the Sox in Game Seven to keep the Curse of the Bambino alive.

So you know that my Hall of Fame birthday buddy was involved with the Red Sox. That's all I will tell you for now. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Friday, February 5, 2016

Ruth and Aaron: Different Era, Similar Careers 2/5/16

Hey baseball fans!

Today and tomorrow, baseball will be celebrating two very important birthdays: Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth! Aaron was born on February 5, 1934 and Ruth was born on February 6, 1895. Besides their birthdays, what is similar between these two great Hall of Famers? Ruth played in the '20s and '30s, while Aaron played in the '50s and '60s, so how alike could they be?

Power, Power, and more Power

Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth are second (755) and third (714), respectively, in career home runs and are two of three hitters in baseball history to collect over 700 of them. They are also back-to-back on the all time RBIs list at one (2,297) and two (2,214), respectively, and are only two of four hitters to drive in 2,000+ runs in a career.

The Leader of a Dynasty
Babe Ruth won three World Series with the Red Sox in 1915, 1916, and 1918, but he was the true catalyst for the Yankees' World Series triumphs in 1923, 1927, 1928, and 1932. He led the team (and the league for that matter) in most offensive categories during the championship years and made each of his teammates a better ballplayer. A few decades later, Hank Aaron was leading his Braves to back-to-back World Series appearances in 1957 and 1958. The Milwaukee Braves' 1957 pennant turned out to be their only World Series victory during the Aaron era, but those two years were still some of the best in Braves history.

The Stars of Their Eras
Ruth was absolutely the best hitter in baseball during the time when he smacked long balls in the Bronx, which explains why he was inducted in the first ever Baseball Hall of Fame class in 1936. Aaron, even though his era was dominated by hitters like Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Duke Snider, and Roberto Clemente, was probably also the best hitter in baseball during his time. These two titans on the diamond really flourished under the spotlight.

But the question still remains: which one of these great baseball players was better, Ruth or Aaron? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."