Monday, November 22, 2010

Basball's Best

I enjoy watching old baseball stuff.

Stuff like old World Series clips, old TV programs, old Movie Tone reels, old, well, old anything that's about the great game of baseball.

I have begun to re watch Ken Burns "Baseball" again on the MLB Network.

I just never get tired of watching that stuff. 

So, I thought, why not start to write about the best of baseball? 

Players, Managers, teams, uniforms, ball caps, stadiums, logos, well, you get it.

Baseball has an un paralleled history in sports, and a lot of it, all the way back to the 1869 Cincinnati Red Legs, the first ever professional team.

So, lets get started with the Best Big League Ball Caps of All-Time.

#1...New York Yankees
#2...St.Louis Cardinals(Red Cap)
#3...Detroit Tigers(Home)
#4...Brooklyn/LA Dodgers
#5...Chicago Cubs(Blue)
#6...Milwaukee Braves
#7...Houston Colt 45's
#8...Baltimore Orioles(1970's)
#9...Washington Senators
#10...Montreal Expos  

We start by looking at the greatest ball cap ever, like 'em, or hate 'em, the Yankees. 

The winners of 28 World Series, the team once known as the Baltimore Orioles, and the new York Highlanders.

That NY stitched across the front of the blue cap, the most recognizable cap in big league history, worn by the Bambino, the Iron Horse, Joltin' Joe DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra, Reggie, Mattingly, and Derek Jeter.

The best cap in the National League belongs to the team with the most World Series Championships from the Senior Circuit, the St. Louis Cardinals. 

I love that STL entwined together on that red Cardinals cap, the cap of Musial, Gibson, Brock,and the Wizard of OZ. 
 
Ball Caps are a unique part of the National Pastime. 

Fans associate themselves with their teams head gear. That bright red of the Cards, or the baby blue of the Royals, to the fans, those caps are as important to their identity as anything in their lives.

For me, the Olde English "D" of the Detroit Tigers has been my identity since the late 1960's. When I put that Tigers cap on I'm putting on the cap of Kaline, Cobb, Gehringer, Kell, Greenberg, Trammell, and the same cap that was worn by my hero, Bill Freehan.

Now, I've listed the best ball caps, in my opinion, but what about you. What's your to caps in big league history?
No list is wrong, It's your list, your a fan, and fans make baseball what it is.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hey, it sports radio time!

Starting on Monday, November 15th, @ 12 NOON, I will embark on a new challenge, sports talk radio.

You can now hear me talk about the great game of baseball, as well as football, hockey..yes, I love the pucks, some NASCAR, and even some hoops, although I'm not an NBA lover.

Just go to...John's Big League Radio Show

For all you terrific readers, we will talk some baseball, the AL and NL Gold Gloves are being awarded this week, and the Managers of the Year, Rookies of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP Awards will be handed out this month.

We'll also be talking about the off season, the "Hot Stove League" as it's known in baseball.

So, if you have a 1/2 hour on Monday night, give a listen.



Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sparky Anderson passes away

"She don't play  on Wednesdays." -Detroit Tigers Manager Sparky Anderson

In the early 1990's the Detroit Tigers had a big slugging first baseman named Cecil Fielder. 

I was going to a spring game in Lakeland, Florida,  where the Tigers have been playing since the Great Depression, to watch a Grapefruit League game. 

I couldn't wait to get a first hand look at the big man who had hit 95 HRs in his first two years when then Tigers Manager Sparky Anderson came over to start signing autographs for fans.

As Sparky took my baseball and started to sign, I asked, "...where's Big Cecil at...?"


That's when Sparky looked at me and said the quote at the top of the page..."he don't play on Wednesday's."

Sparky Anderson died today, at the age of 76.

Sparky Anderson passes away 

Sparky was the best Manager the Tigers ever had. The best.
 


Now, I know Hughie Jennings won plenty of games, took the Tigers to three straight American League Pennants, and Mickey Cochrahne, the Tigers Manager-Catcher skippered the Tigers to their first World Series Championship, but, to me, their was  none better than Sparky.

When George "Sparky" Anderson took over as the Tigers Manager in the 1979 season, he proclaimed that "we'll win a World Series within 5 years."


Now, at the time, the Detroit Tigers were not in the best of shape, losing more games than they won over the previous 5 years, including a horrible 100 loss season in 1975.

The Tigers had no Ty Cobb, no Harry Heilmann, no Charlie Gehringer, no Hank Greenberg, no Al Kaline, on the team in the late 1970's.

There was no Mickey Lolich, or Schoolboy Rowe, or George Mullins, or Joe Coleman, or Jim Bunning on the mound.

What Sparky inherited was a still un proven batch of rookies, second, and third year players who had shown signs of being good, but not championship good.

Sparky knew what we, the fans didn't.

He made mistakes for sure, like calling a young outfielder named Kirk Gibson the "next Mickey Mantle," or talking about 3rd Baseman Chris Pitaro as the next Gold Glove man at the hot corner.

Five years after taking over as the skipper of the Tigers, Sparky Anderson guided the club to the 1984 World Series championship, right on schedule, just like Sparky said.

Sparky Anderson was a great baseball man, and an even better man.

And even though he was given #11, the number worn by by hero Bill Freehan, I loved Sparky, and the way he loved the game of baseball.

Baseball will never see a character like Sparky Anderson again.

Baseball will miss Sparky, but not as much as Sparky missed baseball.






Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Your World Champion San Francisco Giants

For the 1st time in San Francisco, and for the 1st time since 1954, the Giants are World Series Champions.

The Giants used great pitching by Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner, in defeating the Texas Rangers, 4 games to 1.


Brian Wilson struck out Nelson Cruz to end the 106th edition of the Fall Classic.

Edgar Renteria, who hit a 3 run HR in the 7th inning off the Rangers Cliff Lee, was named the Series MVP.
Renteria also got the game winning hit in Game 7 of the 1997 Series as a member of the Florida Marlins. 

The Giants are a great baseball story, and proof that baseball can be played without the big payrolls of the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, and Cubs.

 It was enjoyable to watch a World Series that featured guys who are living the dream of playing big league baseball, guys who know how truly fortunate they are to be called World Series Champions.

Just for the record, remember I had the Phillies over the Rays this year.

Well, I guess it's good I don't rely on those picks as a way to pay the rent.




Tip of the Cap

Baseball caps are one of the great things about the long history of big league baseball.

When your a little kid you love getting that new ball cap, especially when it's of your favorite team.

For me it was the Detroit Tigers, and that Olde English "D" home cap.

The Tigers were also the first team to wear different caps for home and road games, wearing an Orange "D" on the Navy ball cap instead of the home white.


Caps are a big part of the baseball uniform, and there have been some great caps over the years.

In this series I'll look back at some of the great ball caps, and I'll have a list of my personal favorite caps from all the big league, and even some Minor League teams.

What about you?

What's your favorite ball caps, or ball caps, of the past, or the present?





Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Birthday Uncle Bob

Today is my Uncle's Birthday.

My Uncle Bob is the reason my love of baseball exists today, and I give him all the credit in the world for opening up the greatest game ever invented to me.

In the summer time, starting in the mid 1960s, my Uncle Bob would come to Muskegon, or Kalamazoo, from were ever he lived,  and take me, and my brothers Robert, and Paul, out to the local ball fields to play.

I was Bill Freehan, the old Tiger catcher, and my boyhood hero, and Robert was Bobby Murcer, the Yankees Center Fielder who replaced Mickey Mantle.


It was the greatest time we ever had, playing baseball, me and Robert on one team, Paul and Uncle Bob on the other.


Uncle Bob had to hit the ball to the opposite field, or he was out...very rarely did that happen, as many a baseball landed in the cornfields behind the outfield fences.

On my Uncle would hit the ball for Paul, he was still to little, being just around 3 or 4. 

He would just run the bases....sometimes the wrong way...very funny, although I suppose we all did that when we were little guys.


When Paul got older, around the early 70s, he would start to play on his own , and then our baby brother, Joe, would run the bases, and Uncle Bob hit for him, and yes, watching little Joe run the wrong way, as the Sharp tradition of bad base running was continuing.


We had a great time.


Our baseball summer would always start by sitting in the middle of our living room, emptying  out an old coffee can full of change that my Uncle had collected since his visit the year before.


The coins were separated out by pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and we then would roll up  all those coins.

This was the money we would use for our baseball fun...gloves, bats, and balls...oh, and pop, lots of pop, Coke, Dr. Pepper, and  for me, Pepsi-Cola, in those great old 16oz. bottles.

My brother Robert and I very rarely won those games, mostly because we fought every game, blaming each other for mistakes, even though we made so many each that we shouldn't be blaming each other.

I miss those days playing baseball in the sandlots and green Little League fields of my youth, even at the age of 50.


Happy Birthday Uncle Bob, we love you very much.