Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ralph Branca, 1926-2016

Today baseball fans all across the world are remembering the life of former big league pitcher Ralph Branca, who passed away this morning at the age of 90.

Ralph Theodore Joseph Branca was born in Mount Vernon, New York on January 6, 1926, graduated from Davis High School.

Branca was signed as an amateur free agent by the old Brooklyn Dodgers in 1943, and made his big league debut with the Dodgers, at the age of just 18, on June 12, 1944.

Branca was a solid, dependable big league hurler for 11 years with Brooklyn, the Detroit Tigers, and New York Yankees. 

A three time National League All-Star, Branca was 88-68, 3.79 era in 322 career games.

Branca was on the Dodgers on April 15, 1947, when Jackie Robinson made his big league debut, breaking the color barrier in baseball.

Branca was a staunch defender of Robinson and his right to play big league baseball.

Branca is mostly remembered in baseball history for giving up The Shot Heard 'Round the World, the home run he gave up to New York Giants 3rd Baseman  Bobby Thompson in Game 3 of the N. L. playoff in 1951.

The home run in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Giants the Pennant, and made Thompson a national hero.

Branca and Thompson became lifetime friends, and would often join each other at card shows to sigh that iconic picture of the 1951 game.

We send out prayers and thoughts to the Branca family and the Dodgers organization on their loss today.

May God Bless Ralph Branca.

Monday, November 21, 2016


Starting today I'm celebrating my baseball hero, Bill Freehan, who's 75th Happy Baseball Birthday! will occur next Tuesday, November 29, 2016.

Since its rivalry week in college football, and the Michigan Wolverines will travel to Columbus, Ohio, to play the hated Ohio State Buckeyes, I'll start off the week with end Bill Freehan on the 1960 Michigan team.

                                     Bill Freehan is #88, 2nd from the right.

In 1960 Bill was the winner of the Meyer Morton Award, and annual award given out to the most promising player of of spring football camp.

The award, first given out in 1925, was named after Mr. Morton after his passing in 1948.

Among the many Morton Award winners on this list are former President of the United States, Gerald R. Ford, former Green Bay Packer Ron Kramer, and current head coach Jim Harbaugh, who won the award as a young Michigan QB in 1984.

Bill played in all 9 games for the Wolverines football team in 1960, catching one pass, for 11 yards.

1960 was Bill's only season  in Ann Arbor, as he signed a contract to play big league baseball for his hometown Detroit Tigers in 1961.

I think it's kinda cool that 1960, his only season as a Wolverine, is also the year that I was born.

It's like my hero and I were on ment to be.

⚾ On social media for the next 8 days I'm asking all Tigers fans, and baseball fans in general, to share their memories and thoughts of Bill by using the hash tag #Freehan75 in all posts.

Thanks to all who have  and will, participate in  celebration of my baseball hero on his 75th #HappyBaseballBirthday ! ⚾

Play Ball!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Baseball Bulletin, November 15, 2016

Here's some interesting stuff I've come across lately, things in the news, on the MLB Network , SportsCenter, and through my Twitter, Facebook pages.

⚾ The Miami Marlins have always been a colorful baseball team...their logo has been front and center colorful for a few years now...

...and now the Marlins offbeat color has extended into their Minor League system as well, as their Triple-All-Time affiliate in New Orleans changed its name from the Zephyr's to the New Orleans Baby Cakes.

The tradition of the Mardi Gras KING Cake has a small plastic baby...some call it the Baby Jesus.. baked into the festive cake, and the lucky person who first day the baby in their piece of cake must by the next King Cake.

The Baby Cakes are the second Marlins organizational  team to re-brand itself.

Just two weeks ago the Jacksonville Suns, the Marlins Double-A Affiliate on the Southern League, became, officially, the Jacksonville JUMBO Shrimp.

⚾ Coming of the Veteran's Day Weekend, we've learned that the Charleston River Dawgs have  even awarded the the Inaugural Charles K. Murphy Patriot Award.

The River Dawgs employ over 30 military veterans on the day of games, and has extended taken the lead in employing homeless veterans in the Charleston area.

⚾ The 2017 Ford C. Frick Award nominees have been announced.

There are many fine baseball people up for the annual award given out to the best of the best who cover big league baseball across print, radio, and's hoping that one of my all time favorite baseball announcers, Hawk Harrelson, wins this year.

Nobody embodies the love and passion broadcasting baseball like Hawk Harrelson, the current play by play man for the Chicago White Sox.

⚾  Toops announced Tuesday that future Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter will be included in several sets of 2017 baseball cards.

This beautiful autographed Jeter card is absolutely beautiful...

Only 5 of those card..the search for all insert cards of the former New York Yankees Captain will no doubt that boost sales of all the Topps sets he's included in...take a look at this beauty of a card...

Over at Topps Bunt we were given a digital 1992 Derek Jeter Rookie Card....a card that I also have in my collection.

⚾ The 2016 Awards season as started.

The Baseball Writers Association of America hands out awards annually for Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, the Cy Young, and Most Valuable Players for the 2016 big league baseball year.

The 2016 American League Rookie of the Year was awarded to Detroit Tigers RHP Michael Fulmer, and in the National League, the ROY Award went to Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager.

⚾  The 2016 National League Manager of the Year went to Dodgers skipper, and former Jacksonville Suns player Dave Roberts.

In the American League the award went to Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona, who led the Tribe to the 2016 American League Championship

⚾ One Wednesday the BBWAA will announce the 2016 Cy Young Award winners, and on Thursday the Most Valuable Player Award will be revealed .

All of these awards will be revealed live nightly at 6 p.m. on the MLB Network .

⚾ I will update the Cy Young and MVP Awards in a post later this week...look me up on Twitter ... @freehan11 ...or on my Facebook page... anytime to talk about out great game of baseball.

Play Ball!

Your 2016 BBWAA Rookies of the Year

On Monday the  Baseball Writers Association of America revealed the winners of the American and National League Rookie of the Year Award, chosen annually by ballot of the members of the BBWAA.

⚾ The American League Rookie of the Year is Detroit Tigers RHP Michael Fulmer, who received 24 of the 30 first place votes by the baseball writers of the BBWAA.

Michael Joseph Fulmer, Detroit Tigers

Fulmer was inserted into to the Tigers starting rotation on April 29th, setting the club record for scoreless innings pitched on June 6th, having tossed

⚾ The National League Rookie of the Year is Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, who was unanimously selected by the BBWAA writers, receiving all 30 first place votes.

Seager was outstanding this year for the Dodgers  batting .308, with 26 home runs and 76 rbi, collecting 193 hits in 627 official at bats.

Seager joins an elite club of Dodgers rookies, becoming just the 3rd unanimously selected ROY, joining Raul Mondesi in 1994, and Hall of Famer Mike Piazza in 1993.

Play Ball! 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Happy Baseball Birthday! "Moonlight" Graham

Today  we celebrate the 139th Happy Baseball Birthday! of former big league outfielder Moonlight Graham.

Born in Fayetteville, North Carolina on November 12, 1877, Archibald Wright Graham dreamed of playing in the big leagues, and on June 29, 1905, Moonlight played right field for one half inning for the old New York Giants, but never got to step into the batters box.

That would be the only game for Graham, with no official at bat in what would be his only game.

Moonight and his one inning in the outfield was a crucial part of the 1988 movie Field of Dreams.

Moonlight Graham, Field of Dreams.

Moonlight Graham SABR page.

Archibald Graham passed away on August 25, 1965, in Chisholm, Minnesota .

Friday, November 11, 2016

Happy Veterans Day, November 11, 2016

On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, November 11, 1918, World War 1 was ended by the signing of the armistice.

Every year we remember all those who have served in America's Armed Services beginning with the Revolutionary War in 1775.

From this United States Navy Ships Serviceman, March 25, 1985, to September 25, 1989, I say Thank You! 

Happy Veterans Day America !

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Your 2016 Big League Gold Glove Award winners

The 59TH annual Rawlings Gold Glove Awards were handed out to the top 9 big league defensive ballplayers.

The photo above is the 1965 National League Gold Glove of Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Johnny Roseboro.

The Gold Glove had been handed out each year since 1957.

Here's the 18 Gold Glove Award winning players for 2016....

A few thoughts on this year's winners...

⚾ I'm especially happy for Detroit Tigers 2nd Baseman Ian Kinsler, who won his first career Gold Glove .

The 34 year old native of Tucson, Arizona has been the Tigers starting shortstop for three years now after coming over from the Texas Rangers in a trade.

This year Kinsler made just 9 errors as the Tigers second sacker in 151 games, with 744 chances, 303 put outs, 432 assists, and 109 total double plays in 1299 innings.

If the baseball is hit in the general direction of Ian it's a pretty good assumption that the batter that hit the ball will be out.

⚾⚾  San Francisco Giants catcher and 3-time World Series MVP Buster Posey 
 won his first career Gold Glove Award, breaking the 8 year stranglehold that St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina had on the award.

The 29 year old Posey, the former Florida State Seminole, was terrific behind the plate again for the Giants this year, commiting just 3 errors in 123 games, with a .997 fielding percentage.

If you read this blog enough, you know that I have an affinity for big league baseball catchers.

My favorite ballplayer, Tigers 11-Time All-Star Bill Freehan won 5 consecutive Gold Glove Awards , the FIRST catcher to ever achieve that distinction.

Congratulations to all the Gold Glove winners this year... Play Ball!

My Official 2016 BBBA Awards Ballot

Last month I posted my choices for the annual Baseball Bloggers Alliance post season awards.

Here's my American League post...

Here's my National League post...

Today, as a member of the BBBA , I officially entered my choices onto the computer ballot.

In both the American League and National League posts, I forgot to list my choices for the Goose Gossage Award for the best relief pitchers in baseball .

So, here are the pitchers I voted for today...

⚾ American League Relief Pitcher of the Year

#1... Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles 

#2... Francisco Rodriguez, Detroit Tigers 

#3... Andrew Miller, New York Yankees / Cleveland Indians 

National  League Relief Pitcher from the Year

#1... Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers 

#2... Jeurys Familia, New York Mets

#3... A.J. Ramos, Miami Marlins 

Thanks again to all of you who take time to read my blog... PLAY BALL!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Your 2016 World Series Champions!

Last night in Cleveland, Ohio, the Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians, 8-7, in Game 7, to with the teams first World Series Championship incentives 1908.

With that victory very the Tribe last night you knew the fine folks over at Sports Illustrated would waste no time in putting the champions on the next cover...

...Congratulations to the Cubs, the City of Chicago, and all their great fans.

Play Ball !

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The NEW Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp!

Today the Southern League Jacksonville Suns changed their look and their name today, as the team formally announced that they have changed the teams name to the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

I absolutely love the new road ballcap... a size 7 3/8 will be com8ng my way for sure.

I lived in Jacksonville for 36 years, and while I'm surprised with the change, its not a unprecedented over by the franchise.

The Suns changed their name to the Jacksonville Expos...the JAXPOS... in 1985, upon the arrival of new owner Peter Bragan, Sr.

JUMBO Shrimp owner Ken Babby isn't new to name changes and Minor League Baseball either, having bought the Akron Aeros and changing the team name to the Akron Rubber Ducks.

The Jacksonville franchise has been a member of the Southern League since 1962, when the Suns started playing on the First Coast.

The Jumbo Shrimp are currently  the Double-A Affiliate for the Miami Marlins.

There are plenty of people out there on social media who are upset that the team has made the change...change is never easy, but this isn't like the Jaxpos...who went back to the Suns after five years.

This owner is young, energetic, and it's my opinion he's not changing the name back...this is a bold move in the Bold New City of the South.

Welcome to the new era of baseball in the sunshine...welcome to the bold, new, energetic JAX JUMBO SHRIMP!