Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Happy Baseball Birthday...Gettysburg Address

151 years ago today, on November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address commemorating the final resting place for the fallen soldiers at the Battle of Gettysburg during the United States Civil War.

"Four score and seven years ago."

Baseball was a huge part of the Civil War, as soldiers used the game to interject some fun and recreation during the lulls in between conflicts.

Baseball was recently a new sport in the 1860's, and play during the Civil War helped the expansion of the game throughout the United States and the Confederacy.

Baseball boomed after the war as soldiers from both sides took the game of baseball back home with them and introduced baseball to their hometown's across the country.

President Lincoln spoke for a little more than two minutes, yet the few words he did speak became this countries greatest speech ever given by a sitting Commander In Chief.

Happy Baseball Birthday to the Gettysburg Address!

PLAY BALL!


Happy Baseball Birthday...Roy Campanella

Today's Happy Baseball Birthday is former big league catcher Roy Campanella.



Roy Campanella was born on November 19, 1921, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Roy attended Simon Gratz High School in Philadelphia.

At age 16 "Campy" left school to play pro baseball with the Washington Elite Giants of the Negro National League, and became a star after the team moved to Baltimore in 1938.

Campy played in the Mexican League in 1942 and '43 before  signing on with the Brooklyn Dodgers as a amatuer free agent in 1946.

Campy made his way through the Dodgers farm system and made his big league debut with the Brooklyn club on April 20, 1948.



Campy quickly became the standard for all big league catchers, both at the bat and behind the plate.

Roy Campanella caught 1,183 ball games in his ten years as a Dodger, commiting just 85 errors in 7,155 chances, collecting 6,520 putouts and 550 career assists.

Campy finished with a career .988 fielding percentage, leading the National League in 1952 (.994), and 1957(.993).

Campy also led the N.L. in assists by a catcher In 1951 and is #1 All-Time with a record caught stealing percentage of 57.4%.
There were no Gold Glove Awards in Campy's prime, but its pretty safe to say he would've won quite a few in his hey day as a big league backstop.

There are many debates as to who the best catcher in baseball history is, including Campy, Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench, Bill Dickey, and Mickey Cochran.

In my opinion there are two reasons baseball history hasn't and cannot proclaim Campy as baseball's best backstop.

Neither was Campy's fault.

The first is color.

Roy Campanella  was half Italian and half African-American.


Campy made his big league debut at the age of 26 when he started with the Brooklyn Dodgers, but started playing pro ball at age 16 with the Elite Giants of the Negro Leagues.


That's 10 year's that Campy, because he was a black man, couldn't play baseball in the big leagues 


The second was purely an accident.

Roy Campanell was returning home from closing his store, Roy Campanella Liqours, when he hit a patch of ice driving in the early moring hours on January 28, 1958.

The accident left Campy paralyzed, ending his ability to walk,  and tnus ending a brilliant baseball career.

How many more years Campy could've played after age 36 is unknown, however, three or so years added to his age 16-25 years that he wasn't allowed to play would've given Campanella hitting stats that no catcher would ever break.

In his 10 years in the big league Roy Campanella played in 1,215 ballgames, collecting 1,161 base hits, 252 home runs, 856 RBI, with 627 runs scored, 18 triples and 178 doubles in 4, 815 plate appearances.

Roy Campanella was the National League MVP three times, 1951, '53, and '55.

That last MVP in 1955 came in the magical Brookly Dodgers World Series Championship season, the only title the Dodgers won playing in Flatbush.

Campy's last game as a ballplayer was at Ebbets Field, on September 29, 1957.

It also the final big league baseball game ever played at the Dodgers famed ballpark.

The Dodgers were headed to Los Angeles, leaving the Burrough of Brooklyn without they're beloved 'Bums.

The Dodgers alao went on to California without  Campy, but they never forgot him.

The Dodgers hosted Roy Campanella Night on May 7, 1959, at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

A big league record 93,103 attended the special exhibition baseball game between the Dodgers and the World Series Champion New York Yankees 

The Yankees won the contest, 6-2, but the big winner that night were baseball fans, fans who got to honor Campy for the pure joy he gave them as a ballplayer and as a remarkable man.

Campy wrote an autobiography, "It's Good to be Alive," in 1959, and the book was made into a made for TV movie in 1974, starring Paul Winfield, who played Campy.

Roy Campanella served the Dodgers in the front office after his accident, first as a assistant scout supervisor, then mentoring and teaching young baseball players at the Dodgers spring training complex in Veto Beach, Florida 

Campy moved to Los Angeles and joined his old teammate Don Newcombe as a an assistant Director of Community Relations.

In 1969, on his 7th try on the ballot, Roy Campanella was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Campy was also inducted onto the Mexican Baseball League Hall of Fame in 1971.

On June 4, 1972, the Los Angeles Dodgers retired Roy Campanella's uniform #39, along with fellow Brooklyn Dodgers teammates Sandy Koufax's #32 and Jackie Robinson's #42.

As a kid learning about baseball on the 1970s, Roy  Campanella was on TV quite a bit, especially when the Dodgers got to the World Series.

I will always remember that big beaming smile of Campy's when he talked about baseball on TV, and he's my second favorite catcher of All-Time.

Roy Campanella passed away on June 26, 1993, in Woodland Hills, California.

Campy was 71 when he passed away,  35 years after that terrible accident that put him in that wheel chair at the age of 36.

Today we ccelebrate the life of Roy "Campy" Campanella.

Happy Baseball Birthday Campy!

PLAY BALL!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The 25 Most Influential People in Baseball History

The game of baseball has been around a long time.


From the ball fields of Cooperstown,  New York, Elysian Fields in New Jersey, baseball's beginnings evolved some 180 years ago, a game derived, some say,  from the British game of  "Rounders."





Since the first formation of professional baseball,  by the 1869 Cincinnati Reds, fans have had their favorite ballplayers,  and that has led to many a discussion about who the very best of the best have been.




From Cap Anson and Albert Spalding of the 1880s to Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout in 2014, baseball fans have listed their favorite players, managers, broadcasters, and writers.




How can we, as fans, look back on 145 years of organized professional baseball and truly know for certain who the best of best were, or are now.




Trying to figure out the top 25 most influential people in baseball history seems impossible,  and yet that didn't stop baseball fan extrodinare Graham Womack at Baseball Past and Present. 


Baseball's 25 Most Influential People in Baseball History






Graham asked baseball fans to vote for their own top 25, and calculated all votes received into his completed list. 



I was more than excited, I was honored, to be involved in the balloting.



There is, of course, no right or wrong choices,  its purely based on the fans knowledge and understanding of baseball history as they see it.






Below are my top 25...


Ty Cobb

Babe Ruth

Kennesaw Mountain Landis

Ban Johnson

Ken Burns

Curt Flood

Marvin Miller

Ernie Harwell

Henry Chadwick

Connie Mack

Albert Spalding

Jackie Robinson

Branch Rickey

John McGraw

Rube Foster

Cy Young

Bill Klemm

Dr. Frank Jobe

Roger Bresnahan

Ring Lardner

Ichiro Suzuki

John Thorn

J. G. Taylor Spink

Effa Maney

Alexander Cartwright



In choosing my ballot I tried to think on all aspects of the game, from its humble beginnings in post Civil War America,  through the formation of the National League in 1876, the American League in 1901, through men like Henry Chadwick, and women like Negro League owner Effa Maney.


I placed long time baseball announcer Ernie Harwell among the top 25, not because he's my favorite baseball play by play guy, or that he was once traded from announcing Atlanta Crackers games to the Brooklyn Dodgers radio team for catcher Cliff Dapper.



I chose Ernie to represent all the fabulous baseball announcers,  from Red Barber and Mel Allen, from Curt Gowdey, Vin Scully, and Joe Garagiola.





I voted for Dr. Frank Jobe,  an orthopedic surgeon who saved a left handed pitchers career, changing the way baseball looked at injured ballplayers...Tommy John surgery influenced baseball.


My list isn't perfect, I know.


My list doesn't include Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Ted Williams,  Lou Gehrig,  Joe Toree, Casey Stengal, or Elston Howard.


Any of those would have a reason to be included, but hey, I didn't vote for Bill Freehan either, abd that, I think, shows hiw much I cared about this project.







If you voted, thanks for your voice.


If you missed this time, fear not, because Graham is always asking fans for input in his research of our great game.



Make sure to clink on the link above and check out Graham's work.





Play Ball!




Happy Baseball Birthday... Buck O'Neil

Today's Happy Baseball Birthday celebration is in honor of Negro League First Baseman and Manager Buck O'Neil.




John Jordan "Buck" O'Neil was born on November 13, 1911, in Carrabelle, Florida.


Buck O'Neil was a resident here in Jacksonville,  Florida,  were he graduated from High School and attended  Edward Waters College.


Buck was a barnstorming ballplayer who became one of the best 1st Baseman in the Negro Leagues, winning the Negro American League batting title in 1947, hitting .350.


Buck played for the Monarchs 1942 Negro League Championship team and won two more titles as the Monarchs Manager.




Buck continued to play first base and manage the team through 1951, and would be an occasional pinch hitter through 1955.


After his playing days Buck became a scout and coach, becoming big league baseball's first African-American coach, in 1962, with the Chicago Cubs.

Buck signed both HOF ers Ernie Banks and Lou Brock as a Cubs scout.

In 1988 Buck O'Neil became a scout for the Kansas City Royals,  and was the Midwest Scout of the Year.


In 1990 Buck left scouting to help establish the Negro Baseball League Museum in Kansas City,  and was on the Board of Directors until he passed away.

Buck became an overnight sensation when he was profiled during Ken Burns Baseball on PBS in 1994.




http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/baseball/shadowball/oneil.html




Buck O'Neil lived and loved the game of baseball until his death on October 6, 2006,  in Kansas City.







During every Royals hone game a luck baseball fan gets the priviledge if watching baseball ftom the Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat.








Buck O'Neil was, and still is, what's great about baseball, and one day baseball will be much better off because some smart guys in baseball woke up and sent Buck to his rightful spot, in Cooperstown,  New York,  in the Baseball Hall of Fame.


Happy Baseball Birthday Buck!





PLAY BALL!











Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Letter

On January 15, 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt wrote the following letter to Kennesaw Mountain Landis, the Commissioner of Baseball, giving big league baseball his personal "green light" to continue for the 1943 season.

Coming just over a month after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, FDR believes the National Pastime will help all Americans as our nation headed into World War II.

The letter is a pure joy to read.

Happy Veteran's Day.

Happy Veteran's Day 2014

Happy Veteran's Day to all the brave men and women who have served our great country, from Valley Forge and the Revolutionary War to the current War on Terror across the world.

May God Bless the United States of America.

Friday, November 7, 2014

HELP US JV, YOU'RE OUR ONLY HOPE

The next installment of the famed Star Wars movie franchise,

"The Force Awakens," is causing quite the stir on Twitter today, and that includes baseball fans.



Over at Bless You Boys the staff was asking Detroit Tigers  fans to create their own "meme" that combines both the new movie and our hope for our beloved team in 2015.



So, even tbough I don't know what a "meme" is, I gave it my best effort.


May the Force be with you.






Thursday, November 6, 2014

Meeting Mr.Tiger

This Throwback Thursday picture is from either 2007/08 in Lakeland, Florida.



Yes, I'm trying not to cry as I pose with Detroit Tigers Hall of Famer and 10 time Gold Glove Award winner Al Kaline.



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Happy National Cat Day

Today is all about the kitty cats.

It's National Cat Day today, October 29th, 2014.

Now, I didn't wake up knowing it was a day for feline celebrations, but that changed when PAWS, the Official Detroit Tigers team mascot, posted this cool selfie today on Twitter.


As the proud owner of two new kitties myself, I'm going to make sure to give extra hugs and kisses to Mr. Paws and Miss Salem today.


In case you were wondering, yes, Mr. Paws was named after PAWS.


PLAY BALL!