Sunday, August 29, 2010

From the JBLBB Desk

"The one constant through all the years Ray has been baseball..."

James Earl Jones Field of Dream speech 

That is just part of the great line by James Earl Jones, as Terrence Mann, in the 1988 movie Field of Dreams. You can listen to the entire speech at the link above.

The one constant for me this year is my constant battle with my health issues, including my arthritis and my diabetes.

My lack of writing anything on a constant basis is because of my health, and I appreciate my loyal readers for your understanding.

There are many days when I simply cannot write because of a lack of energy, even though the thoughts are constantly running through my head.

I hope September brings me better health, and a better chance to post new articles, which will include my favorite players from the National League East, the Atlanta Braves, Florida Marlins, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, and Washington Nationals.

Remember, when it comes to the Braves it's the Atlanta Braves, and not the entire franchise.

Same for the Nationals. 

The Montreal Expos will be a separate article,  on teams that no longer exist, as will both the Milwaukee Braves, and the Boston Braves.

I'm also going to be featuring a few new things, such as my All-Time team lineups, my favorite baseball books, movies, and some posts on collecting baseball cards,

If you collect baseball cards, and simply cannot wait, just go to MyDetroitTigersbaseballcards blog site.

I blog about my collection, and I have links to other baseball fans blog sites. These guys are great baseball fans, so check 'em out.

Thanks for following my writing.

God Bless.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Greatest Little Leaguer Ever

Every year the town of Williamsport, Pennsylvania hosts the Little League World Series, the culmination of 11 and 12 year old ball players all over the world.

I played Little League baseball in Portage, Michigan in the early 1970's. I never even knew there was a World Series for us kids. We just loved playing baseball as much as possible.

My brother Robert and I played on a team together, and we were the best right side of the diamond in the Portage Little League. Me at 1st base, and Robert at second. If you hit a ball to the right side on the infield, you made a right turn, and went back to your dugout.

I did play one game of All-Star baseball in Little League, but I was out matched by the older, more talented kids. 

That was as good as I got. Time to move on.

The reason for this look back to my Little League days is this article I saw in the Detroit News about the 1959 Little League World Series Champions from Hamtramck, Michigan.

1959 Little League Champions from Hamtramck. Michigan

The link above to the article tells the story of Pinky Deras. considered the "Greatest Little Leaguer there ever was."

Today Deras, 64, is a retired police officer, and father of a Little League ball player. He is a humble man, who reluctantly talks about those days over 50 years ago, because he, like the boys of that era, know that it takes a team to win.

Please take the time to read this story. Yes, I admit, I read the article because the team is the only Little League winner to ever come from the state of Michigan, my home state.

I hope you will forgive my bias this once, and take a few moments to read about a time when kids played baseball for the love of the game.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bobby Thompson passes away

Today the world of baseball lost one of the great men who ever put on a big league uniform as Bobby Thompson, who hit one of baseball's most famous home runs, died at the age of 86.

 Baseball fans growing up in the Metro New York area will always remember where they were on October 1st, 1951, the day that Bobby Thompson became part of big league baseball lore.

In Game 3 of the National League Playoff between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants, Thompson hit the second pitch he saw from Dodgers relief pitcher Ralph Branca into the left-field bleachers at the Polo Grounds, putting the Giants into the 1951 World Series.

That home run is know in baseball history as "The Shot Heard 'Round The World."

The Giants win in the playoff completed an improbable comeback as New York came roaring back in the second half of the season.

The Giants trailed the Dodgers by as many as 13 1/2 games during the 1951 season before tying Brooklyn on the final day.

Thompson was as an unlikely hero as there has ever been, but isn't that what makes the game of baseball so special?

Baseball honors men like Thompson, a good player during his 15 year career, who shied away from the limelight, always giving his teammates the credit over the things he did on the field.

Bobby Thompson was a gracious man, a Scottish born lad who hit .289 his rookie season in 1946, while belting 29 home runs, and driving in 82 runs for the Giants.

Thompson also played for the Milwaukee Braves, the Chicago Cubs, and the Baltimore Orioles, where his career ended, in 1960.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

#600 for Alex Rodriguez

Today at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York, Alex Rodriguez hit a two run home run in the bottom of the first inning, becoming the youngest player in big league history to hit 600 home runs. 

Rodriguez joins Barry Bonds,(762) Hank Aaron(755), Willie Mays(660), Ken Griffey Jr.(630), and Sammy Sosa(609) as the only players to hit 600 home runs in the big leagues.

There was a time when the thought of someone hitting 600 HR would be a national, crowning achievement by baseball fans everywhere, instead Alex Rodriguez's milestone HR has been welcomed with mild, and to some, even melancholy interest, at best.

Rodriguez's admittance of using steroids while playing for the Texas Rangers has soured many fans, including myself, on Alex, because I truly believed that he was a talented player, with God given talents, who didn't need any help in playing, and excelling at baseball.

The state of the game, with the continued revelation of players who have tested positive for HGH, steroids, etc., has taken milestones such as Rodriguez's 600th HR, and made them a non-factor for the majority of baseball fans.

Only die-hard Yankee, or Rodriguez fans are really ecstatic today, and that's a shame.

I can still see #715 like it was yesterday. 
I sat in front of my TV, a 14 year old boy who loved baseball, and was ready to witness history. 

I knew Hank Aaron would hit that magic HR off the Dodgers Al Downing, you could just sense it.

The NBC Monday Night Game of the Week was as highly anticipated as any game in baseball history, as it should have been, and when Aaron hit the blast that sent him past Babe Ruth, a nation of baseball fans across the country celebrated the grand achievement.

I love the great game of baseball, and have always respected the players for how hard they play the game. Baseball is a hard game to play, and it's now a fact that because of the steroid era, the game has been damaged. 

Milestone's like 600  home runs, or 300 wins, or 3,000 hits, should be celebrated as great achievements in  a players career, and I hope baseball gets the game turned around to that again.

Anyone who starts hitting home runs at an alarming rate will have fans asking if that player is using a banned substance, and that's just unfair to the tens of thousands of players who have played the game the right way, the honest way.

Next up...the Chicago White Sox DH Jim Thome, who has 577 hrs. Thome will next have to pass Mark McGwire, who hit 583 HRs, and finally, this year, admitted that he to, had taken steroids. 

After McGwire, Thome will then have to pass Frank Robinson, who hit 586 round trippers in his big league career.

How will you feel about Thome, a guy who has never been even remotely rumored to have taken any substances at any time?

For me. I've always like Thome, and like the way he has approached, and played the game, and so I will cheer on Thome as he nears 600 dingers, I just hope he doesn't hit the magical HR against my Detroit Tigers.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Stan the Man

Big league baseball fans, check out the article in the current issue of Sports Illustrated about Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan Musial.

 Joe Posnanski wrote a terrific article about the legendary Cardinal, who at 90 years young still takes the time to sign fan autographs, and upon request, will play "Take me out to the Ball Game" on his harmonica.

Musial, to me, is simply the greatest ball player that ever put on a uniform for the Redbirds.

This is a must read for both old school, and young baseball fans alike.