Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Surprise Baseball Birthday

Today I had a surprise gift delivered for my 53rd birthday.

My birthday was last month, but a Pastor from my church surprised me today with a belated gift...we hadn't ran into each other until today.

Sometime last month I saw a cool 1908 Detroit Tigers ball cap, the kind Tyrus Raymond Cobb would've worn, and posted it on my Facebook page, jokingly suggesting that I would accept the cap from someone looking for a last second gift for me.

So, here it is, just in time for the start of the big league baseball season.

I never thought someone would actually by it for me.

Thanks to Pastor Eddie Hastings, from my church, Chets Creek Church, on making my day today.

The ball cap I'm now sporting, part of the Cooperstown Collection, was the cap worn by the Tigers during their first dominate American League run, from 1907-08-09.

The Tigers won three straight A. L. Pennants, the first A.L. team to do so.

The Tigers had great players like Cobb, Wahoo Sam Crawford, Boss Schmidt, George Mullins, and Wild Bill Donovan.

Thanks Eddie...Play Ball!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Justin Verlander on Sports Illustrated 2013 Baseball Preview

Tigers ACE right hander Justin Verlander graces this week's cover of the 2013 Baseball Preview Issue.

SMASH and GRAB...Justin Verlander...The Game's Scariest Pitcher Has His Eye On A Ring.

Isn't it great when your favorite player from your favorite team is on a national magazine like Sports Illustrated....YES it is!

2013 Detroit Tigers Scorecard

With less than one week to go until Opening Day the Detroit Tigers sent out this image on the teams Twitter and Facebook pages.

The 2012 Triple Crown Winner and American League Most Valuable Player, Miguel Cabrera, the 2011 Cy Young Award Winner and American League Most Valuable Player, Justin Verlander, and Tigers All-Star First Baseman Prince Fielder are featured.

 This would make for a terrific poster for any baseball fan, and every Tigers fans.

Go Tigers!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Remembering Virgil "Fire" Trucks.

Today I have learned of the passing of Virgil "Fire" Trucks.

Virgil Trucks spent 17 years in the big leagues, most of them with the Detroit Tigers.

Yesterday Trucks nephew sent this Tweet to Tigers P Justin Verlander...

my great grandfather is Virgil Trucks.He passed away today. He gave you your no hitter award in 2007.

Virgil Trucks pitched in 517 games, starting 328, compiling a 177-135 record, with a 3.39 ERA.

After one appearance in 1941,Trucks went 14-8 in 1942 for the Tigers, with a 2.84 ERA.

Trucks won 16 games in 1943, then headed off to World War II.

In 1946 Trucks won 14 games for the Tigers, then won 10 games in '47, 14 in '48, and in 1949 Trucks won 19 games for the Tigers while leading the American League with 6 shutouts.

For Tigers fan Trucks is special because of two games in 1952.

Two legendary games.

In 1952 Trucks didn't exactly have what you would call a good season, winning just 5 games and losing 19.

However, of those 5 wins, Virgil trucks is special in Tigers history for pitching 2 no hitters.

On May 15th "Fire" Trucks no-hit the Washington Senators, 1-0, and then on August 25th he no-hit the New York Yankees, 1-0, as well.

Only four other big league pitchers have accomplished what Trucks did in twirling those two gems in one baseball season, Johnny Van Der Meer(back-to-back in 1938), Allie Reynolds, Nolan Ryan, and Roy Halladay.

Trucks got back from World War II just in time for the 1945 World Series, winning Game 2 vs. the Chicago Cubs as the Tigers won the teams second championship, beating the Cubs in seven games.

We say a prayer for Virgil Trucks, and his family today.

May God Bless them.

Thanks Virgil, for being a great Tiger, and a greater person.

Special thanks to Graham Womack @grahamdude , at Baseball Past and Present for Tweeting the news today.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Today's Baseball Birthday...Bill Wambsganss

When I do the Baseball Birthday's I always try and find that one special ballplayer to write about.

Today's birthday's consist of former  Philles Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn, current Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw, and former Tigers OF Gee Walker, just to name a few.

Any of those would be a terrific subject to write about today, however, as I scrolled down the birthday list at Baseball I came across a name I hadn't heard of in a while.

Today we celebrate the birthday of the only big league ballplayer to record an unassisted triple play in World Series history.

Bill Wambsganns was born on March 19th, 1894, in Cleveland, Ohio.

The shorthstop/second baseman made his debut in the big leagues on August 4th, 1914, for the Cleveland Naps(later the Indians).

In 13 seasons Wambsganns batted .259,  7 home runs, and 520 RBI.

The best hitting stat for the former Tribe star may be that he had 323 career sacrifice hits, leading the American League in both 1921 and 1922.

In the 1920 World Series our birthday big leaguer turned that famous triple play in Game 5 vs. the Brooklyn Robins (later Dodgers).

As he caught a line drive (out #1), Wambsganns stepped on 2nd base, forcing the runner moving from 2nd base (out #2), then tagged the runner coming from 1st base (out #3).

Wambsganns is quoted as saying this about the famous play...
“Just before I tagged him, he said, ‘Where’d you get that ball?’ I said, ‘Well, I’ve got it and you’re out number three.’” (quote courtesy of

 Game 5 of the 1920 World Series is also remarkable in that the first ever WS Grand Slam was hit, by the Naps Elmer Smith in the first inning, and that Naps pitcher Jim Bagby, the winning pitcher, hit a 3-run HR, the first pitcher to ever hit a HR in a WS game.

That's gotta be one of the great World Series games ever, regardless of the lopsided 8-1 Naps win.

Wambsganns post big league days included managing the Muskegon Lassies of the AAGPBL.

Happy Birthday Bill...Play Ball!!

Hammerin' Hank on Twitter

One of the best things about Twitter is the amount of baseball coverage you get.

From MLB, every one of the 32 teams , the media, the fans, and the players, both current big leaguers and retired players make Twitter a great place to follow baseball.

Just a few minuets ago I saw this tweet from +MLB

This is HUGE. Let's give a warm Twitter welcome to the one and only !

Yes, Hammerin' Hank Aaron has joined Twitter... @HenryLouisAaron 

Many baseball fans still consider Hank Aaron the All-Time Home Run Leader, and I can't blame anyone, myself included, who do.

This was Hank's first Tweet...

I am officially on Twitter! I won’t be posting a lot, but look forward to sharing with you.”

I hope the Hammer Tweets on baseball quite a bit, that would be a great thing.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Today's Baseball Birthday...Pete Reiser

Today is St. Patrick's Day, but instead of green, we go Brooklyn Dodger Blue and celebrate the birthday of former National League batting champion Pete Reiser.

 It seems to me that Pete Resier is the forgotten man in the era of the great Brooklyn Dodgers teams of the 1940s and 1950s.

With great ball players like Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Don Newcombe, Gil Hodges, and Roy Campanella, the former Dodgers outfielder is often overlooked.

Resier made his big league debut as a Dodger on July 23rd, 1940, playing in 58 games, collecting 66 hits.

1941 made Reiser a household name in Faltbush.

Playing in 137 games, Pete led the N.L. in runs, triples, slugging percentage, total bases, hit by pitches, and batting average, a cool .343 in 601 plate appearances.

That .343 BA made him the first rookie to ever lead the N.L. in hitting.

After hitting .310 in 1942 Resier served in the U.S. Army, in WWII, during the 43-44-45 seasons.

Reiser returned in 1946 to lead the N.L. in stolen bases, with 34, his second straight year (1942 also) leading the N.L.

Pete Reiser only knew one way to play baseball, and that was full steam ahead, and his aggressive, all out play caused many an injury, including having to be taken off on a stretcher quite a few times.

Many knowledgeable baseball people, including Reiser's Dodger Manager, Leo Durocher, think his many injuries kept Pete from being one of the great players of the era.
Leo Durocher once said of Reiser..."Pete had more power than Willie(Mays) — left-handed and right-handed both. He had everything but luck."

Pete played for the Dodgers through the 1948  season, then played for the Boston Braves in '49-'50, the Pittsburgh Pirates in '51 and the Cleveland Indians in '52.

In 10 big league seasons, in 861 games, Peter Reiser played in three All-Star Games, hit .295, with 58 home runs and 368 RBI.

Happy Birthday Pete!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Happy Baseball Birthday...Tom Bradley

Today's Happy Baseball Birthday! wishes have a local Jacksonville flavor.

Tom Bradley turns 66 years young today.

Bradley played college baseball at Maryland and pitched in the big leagues from 1969-1975, for the California Angels, Chicago White Sox, and San Francisco Giants.

In 183 appearances Tom finished with a 55-61 record, with a 3.72 ERA.

"The controlled breaking pitch that (Johnny) Sain teaches already has saved me in a couple of games and it's certainly easier on my arm, and easier to control than the full curve or regular slider." - Tom Bradley in Baseball Digest (August 1971)...from Baseball Almanac

I first became familiar with Tom Bradley when I moved to Jacksonville 32 years ago.

Bradley was the Manager of the Jacksonville University Men's Baseball team, and for 12 years he guided the Dolphins to a 432-291-5 record.

JU has always put a competitive team on the field, and Bradley was the man who started the building of the foundation that is Dolphins baseball.

Over the years the Dolphins have played in 14 NCAA Baseball Regionals...that's a pretty big deal when you have to go against Florida, Florida State, and Miami every year for ballplayers.

JU has had 34 All-American's, and have sent 9 players to the big leagues.

You can follow Dolphins Baseball on Twitter here... @JUBaseball

Happy Birthday Tom...Go Dolphins!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Home Runs and the Pope

I just saw a Jason Stark link over on Twitter, and I just had to share it.

With the election of Pope Francis I, Dan Connolly at the Baltimore Sun, a Catholic, wrote a quite interesting post on baseball home runs and the Catholic leader.

Starting with Pope Pius IX in 1846, through Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, he gave a list of every HR champion during the reign of the 11 Pontiff's who've served since the beginning of big league baseball.

Here's just a couple of interesting Pope/HR stats...

...Babe Ruth is the only slugger to lead baseball in home runs over two different Pope's....

...Charley Jones hit the fewest home runs, 6, while a Pope held office.

The link above will take you to Dan's article.

Stuff like this is why baseball, and it's history, are second to none.

Play Ball!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Mexico-Canada WBC brawl(from MLB)

Courtesy of Major League Baseball, here's the video of the Mexilco-Canada brawl in Saturday's World Baseball Classic.

MLB sent this link from Twitter...

Here's the brawl from tonight's Canada-Mexico game:

World Baseball Classic

I must admit I haven't been much into the World Baseball Classic.


As I'm preparing this blog post, a fight, baseball style, has broken out in the Mexico-Canada game.

Twitter  is all abuzz about this fight...

Benches empty in really ugly Canada & Mexico brawl. Team Canada players may have also been hit by objects thrown from stands.

6 up, 6 down for Zambrano. And apparently there was just a brawl in Canada/Mexico game.

Looked like  Luis Cruz threw first punch in scrum. Canadian coach hit directly in face by bottle thrown from stands.

OK...back to baseball...

The world wide tournament, first played during the spring of 2006, is a showcase of just how talented baseball players are all over the world.

I am trying to become much more interested in this years WBC, and have actually been watching games all week on the MLB Network.

Team USA has already lost, a 5-2 set back last night vs. Mexico.


I'm sorry, but a big league baseball team should never lose to a team from Mexico.

Then again, team USA isn't exactly throwing the best of the best out onto the field during the WBC.

Team USA does have Jimmy Rollins, David Wright, Ryan Braun, Giancarlo Stanton, Joe Mauer, Brandon Phillips and Adam Jones.

But hey, where's Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Josh Hamilton, Prince Fielder, Andrew McCutcheon?

On the pitching side, the USA has N.L. Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, who started and lost Game 1 last night, and Gio Gonzales, and...Jeremy Affedlt? 2011 A.L. MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, no 2011 N.L. Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw, no 2012 A.L. Cy Young winner David Price, no Nationals flame  throwing Steven Strasburg.

It's not easy trying to win when the best American players, for whatever reason, aren't playing.

Team USA will probably always fail to field a great team, because many teams just won't want their star pitchers leaving spring training camp to throw pitches for some other team.

Hey, as a Tigers fan, I really don't want Verlander anywhere near the WBC.

I don't want Verlander taxing his arm in what is really a meaningless tournament to American baseball fans.

I think the WBC is a good idea, but why play the tourney in March, as teams are preparing for the start of a brand new season?

Why not play the tourney for three weeks in November, after the World Series, after all, they do play fall baseball in Arizona, and the Caribbean World Series is also played after the World Series.

I'd rather see the Tigers continue to play spring games, continuing the process of building a pennant winning...a World Series championship baseball team.

I hope Team USA rebounds, plays better tonight and Sunday, and advances to round 2.

That said,  I'd rather see Tigers Triple Crown slugger Miguel Cabrera, playing for Team Venezuela, smashing home runs at Joker Marchant Stadium and around the Graperfruit League.

Are you watching the WBC?

Please vote in the poll on the top right side of the blog home page.

Enjoy the baseball...Play Ball!


Today's baseball Happy Birthday is former American League MVP Jackie Jensen.

Jackie Jensen played 11 seasons in the big leagues, starting for the New York Yankees in 1950.

Jensen was a Yankee through parts of 1950-51-52 with New York before moving on to the Washington Senators in 1952-53, and then to Boston, and famed Fenway Park, where Jensen became one of baseball's best outfielders.

Jensen drove in over 100 runs five times as a member of the BoSox, leading the A.L. in RBI three times, including a 122 RBI performance in his MVP year of 1958.

Jensen was a great all-around athlete, and was the very first person to play in the Rose Bowl Game and the World Series.

 Happy Birthday Jackie Jensen!!

To celebrate Jackie Jensen go to Jackie

Play Ball!!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Un Professional

When I saw last night's end of the Dominican Republic's win over Venezuela I saw something that made me very unhappy.

Baseball is supposed to be played by professional ball players, and not by guys like this...

For many years now I cringe at the sight of baseball players, Fernando Rodney in particular, and their disrespect for the game of baseball, and the wearing of a baseball uniform.

This is disgraceful, and MLB needs to do something about it.

Rodney is supposed to look like a professional baseball player when he enters the game, and for many years now he has decided he doesn't have to.

When Rodney was a closer for my Detroit Tigers, it made me sick to see him wear the Olde English D with his cap crooked.

Rodney didn't always wear his cap wrong, and I have no idea why he stopped, however, playing baseball is an honor, at least it is for most ball players.

Over at Big League Stew there's a nice article on Rodney's cap wearing.

Look, I'm old school when it comes to sports, and when it comes to baseball it's far more pronounced.

I believe many baseball players have to much money these days, and really don't care what they do, or how the look, because they make millions of dollars, and so what.

Baseball needs to start making the players wear their uniforms properly...the players need to look like a baseball player...a professional baseball player, and not like a clown.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Today's Baseball Birthday...Pete Gray

Today's we celebrate the Happy Baseball Birthday! of former St. Louis Browns outfielder Pete Gray.

Pete was born on March 6th, 1915, in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania. 

Despite having lost his right arm at age 6, Pete made it to the big leagues, for one season, 1945, playing in 77 games for the Browns.

In 253 plate appearances for the Browns, Pete batted .218, collected 51 hits, drove in 13 runs, and stole 5 bases.

Today we say Happy Baseball Birthday! to Pete Gray, who became a big league ball player despite great odds.

Play BALL! ⚾️ 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Holy Cow it's Harry Caray's Birthday!

Today's baseball birthday is in celebration of the great Harry Caray.

Harry Caray was born on March 1st, 1914, in St. Louis, Missouri.

I first saw Harry broadcast games in the early 1970s, when he was the colorful play by play announcer for the Chicago White Sox.

I loved his enthusiasm, his love of baseball.

I liked that he would get after a player for dropping a simple pop up, or a grounding into a double play with the bases loaded.

Harry was a one of a kind announcer, who made no excuses about being a team homer when it came to broadcasting baseball games.

Here's some vintage Harry calling a Cardinals game.

Caray started broadcasting baseball games for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1945, and along with Jack Buck, announced Cardinals games over famous KMOX radio.

Caray broadcast Cardinal World Series Championships in 1946, 1964, and 1967.

Harry moved on the ChiSox in 1971, then to the crosstown rival Cubs in 1982.

Harry was beloved by Cubs fans, who couldn't wait to hear that famous 7th inning stretch version of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

"Ah one, ah two, ah three..."

When I worked at a sports bar in the early 1990s I would always turn up the sound during the Cubs home stretch, so the patrons could hear Harry do his thing.

Happy Birthday Harry!!