Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Countdown to Opening Day, by the Numbers, great 8

In 1985 John Fogerty  released the song "Centerfield," and a baseball anthem was born.

As we continue our countdown to Opening  Day in the big leagues, we look back, back to the #8, and what that number means to the great game of baseball.

The number 8 is, as Fogerty says, center field, #8 on the score sheet, a fly ball out to center field...F-8.

#8 is the sure hands of Gold Glove short shop Eddie Brinkman, and catcher Mike Heath of the Detroit Tigers.

8 is pre-Camelot baseball, 8 American League, and 8 National League teams in the big leagues until expansion in 1961.

In 1919 the Chicago White Stockings were found to have thrown the World Series, losing to the Cincinnati Reds, on purpose, in 8 games, forever changing the game of baseball.

The players, Hap Feltch, Buck Weaver, Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte, Lefty Williams, Swede Risberg, Chick Gandil, and Fred McMillan, all eight , are part of baseball history, immortalized in books, and the movie "Eight Men Out."

#8 is two Hall of Fame catchers of the New York Yankees, Bill Dickey, and Yogi Berra, who backstopped the Bronx Bombers for 30+ years, winning 17 World Series.

#8 is current Dodgers manager Don Mattlngly, who, as a Yankee in 1987, hit a home run in 8 consecutive games, tying the big league record of the Pirates Dale Long, and then later accomplished by Ken Griffey, JR.
#8 is the "Hawk," Hall of Fame out fielder Andre Dawson of the Chicago Cubs,ans a magical MVP season in 1987, and his former Montreal Expos teammate, "The Kid," Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter of the 1986 Mets.

#8 is back to back MVP Awards and World Series championships for Cincinnati Reds second baseman Joe Morgan.

Baseball and the number eight are quite a pair, they go together like, well, like father and son,  Phillies catcher Bob Boone, and his father, Tigers 3rd baseman Ray Boone.

The #8 is the Dodgers Reggie Smith, the Cubs Michael Barrett, the Angels Max Venable, and the ChiSox Bo Jackson.

Eight, ain't it great, like the "Eighth Wonder of the World," the Houston Astrodome, the 1st ever indoor ball park in the big leagues.

#8 is the grace of the great Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox, and the "impossible Dream" of 1967.

 #8 is Cal Ripken, JR., who played in 2, 632 consecutive big league games for the only team he ever new, the Baltimore Orioles.

 #8 is the magnificent Willie Stargell, and the 1979 "We are Family" Pittsburgh Pirates.

 #8 is Garry Gaetti of the Twins, Mark Belanger of the Orioles, and the Phillies Tony Taylor.

#8 is the Tigers Marv Owen, the Brewers Mark Loretta, and Hal Smith of the 1964 Houston Colt 45's.

The #8 is the eighth spot in the batting order, reserved for the worst of hitters, and sometimes, if your Cardinals Manager Tony LaRussa, who likes to hit his pitchers in the 8th spot.

As we see, there have been a lot of number 8's that make baseball great over the years, and more are yet to come.

Who's your favorite #8?

Did I miss someone?

Please comment below, and I'll see you tomorrow for the #9.

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