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OKay guys I can't believe nobody has put "The Kid" in yet.

 

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Teddy Ball Game was the last player to hit over .400 in a season.

Awards

 

1939 Rookie of the Year Award

1942 American League Triple Crown

1946 Most Valuable Player Award

1947 American League Triple Crown

1949 Most Valuable Player Award

1958 Silver Slugger Award

1966 Baseball Hall of Fame Induction

 

Honors

17 All-Star Game Player Honors

1953 All-Star Game First Ball Honor

12 Career Batting Title Honors

1946 World Series Game Honor

1999 Baseball All-Century Team Honor

1999 All-Star Game Honors

 

Also how much better could have his statistics been if he hadn't gone to serve in the Marines twice!!! He was amazing and most likely the greatest hitter of all time!!!

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Ted Williams:

1918-2002

 

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Honus Wagner

 

Honus Wagner is considered by many to be baseball's greatest all-around player. The Pittsburgh Pirates' shortstop was a sensational hitter, a brilliant base-runner and a flawless fielder. He broke into the majors by hitting .344 in 1897 and put together 17 consecutive .300 seasons. He was the NL batting champion for seven of those 17 seasons with a lifetime average of .329.

 

One of the first five players inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame, he led the league in stolen bases on six occasions, finishing his career with a total of 722 steals. Wagner retired with more hits, runs, RBI, doubles, triples, games and steals than any other National League player.

After his career as a player, Honus became a manager for his longtime team, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Honus Wagner baseball card, one of the most valuable in existence today, was recalled in 1909. At the time, the cards were distributed along with tobacco; Wagner, a nonsmoker, objected to being included in the promotion because he did not want to set a bad example for children.

 

 

Honus Wagner.jpg

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Joseph Jefferson Jackson (Shoeless Joe)

It's been written that the great Babe Ruth copied Joe Jackson's swing when he came up to the major leagues. Ruth, of course, at the time was a pitcher and he knew a good hitter when he saw one. Joe Jackson was more than a good hitter, he was a superstar. His career batting average of .356 is third highest in baseball history. Jackson is not in Baseball's Hall of Fame due to his supposed involvement in the fixing of the 1919 World Series, a fact that has never been proven to this day.

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For more information on Shoeless Joe, go to this site:

http://www.blackbetsy.com/

 

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Bernie Williams

------------------------------

 

Born: September 13, 1968, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Full Name: Bernabe Figueroa Williams

Height: 6-2

Weight: 205 lbs.

Bats: Both

Throws: Right

Pos: CF

Season after season, Bernie keeps piling up huge offensive statistics, partly explaining why he's becoming a Yankee legend. It also doesn't hurt that he plays a solid center field in mythic Yankee Stadium and provides quiet though steady leadership to the clubhouse. He also has been a member of four world championship Yankee squads, as well.

 

Bernie outdid himself a bit in 2002, posting career bests in at-bats (612) and hits (204) on his way to hitting at a .333 clip, third best in the AL. Bernie smoked 37 doubles, 19 homers and collected 102 RBI, the fifth time he's gone over 100 in the latter category. He accomplished all that despite battling shoulder pain throughout the season.

 

Bernie is the picture of consistency, hitting more than .300 the past eight seasons and scoring over 100 runs the previous seven. The perennial all-star (six times) can also handle the glove, winning four straight Gold Gloves (1997-2000). His career numbers are rapidly piling up into something quite special, as he boasts 1,833 hits, 1,066 runs, 353 doubles, 226 home runs and 998 RBI while hitting .308.

Bernie grew up in Puerto Rico and played Little League ball against current Texas Rangers Juan Gonzalez and Ivan Rodriguez. As a teenager, Bernie also was one of the world's top 400-meter runners for his age group.

 

Many people forget that Bernie is one of the few remaining Dynasty players on the Yankee team, meaning he has played on the Yankees throughout the 90s.

Bernie Williams.jpg

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The true balla at short - Walt Weiss, 'nuff said.

 

 

Played for the A's (won Rookie of the Year in the three-peat of A's rookies with Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire), Marlins, Rockies and Braves.

Walt Weiss.jpg

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Joe Dimaggio

 

Joe Dimaggio.jpg

 

"Joltin' Joe" and "The Yankee Clipper."

 

 

Played For

New York Yankees (1936-1942, 1946-1951)

 

Post-Season

1936 World Series, 1937 World Series, 1938 World Series, 1939 World Series, 1941 World Series, 1942 World Series, 1947 World Series, 1949 World Series, 1950 World Series, 1951 World Series

World Champion?

 

Yes, nine times.

 

Ultimate Games (2-0)

1947 World Series Game Seven, 1949 Regular Season

 

Honors

All-Star (13): 1936-1942, 1946-1951; American League MVP 1939, 1941 and 1947; voted Greatest Living Player in a 1969 Major League Baseball fans poll.

 

 

DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak in 1941 remains one of baseball's most cherished records. As a young player he teamed with Lou Gehrig to lead some of the best Yankee teams ever. As an older player he formed a powerful lineup with Johnny Mize and Yogi Berra. When he retired, young star Mickey Mantle arrived to fill his shoes. Baseball fans soon realized that no one would ever accomplish that.

According to many eye witnesses, DiMaggio was the best all-around player of his time. He could hit, hit for power, throw, field, and run. He bridged the Gehrig era to the Mantle era. He was a winner: playing on ten pennant winners and failing to win the World Series just once in those ten tries.

 

He retired when he could have played a few more years and won some more titles. But that wasn't his style. He moved aside to make way for Mickey Mantle. Joe DiMaggio lived the life of an American Hero. In an amazing life as an American icon, DiMaggio married Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe, becoming the envy of every American male. Even after they split, DiMaggio remained in the spotlight as a spokesman for several products, including the Mr. Coffee maker.

 

DiMaggio came from a baseball family, his two brothers also were major leaguers. Dominic was the better of the two siblings, starring with the Red Sox, earning All-Star status and Hall of Fame support from teammate Ted Williams. Vince was best known for his defense and the long swing which led to him lead the league in strikeouts six times in his ten year career.

 

DiMaggio frequently battled the Yankees over his salary and was once almost traded straight up for Williams, in what would have been the biggest deal in baseball history. The Yankees benefited from his leadership, as DiMaggio helped break in Phil Rizzuto, Yogi Berra, and Mickey Mantle.

 

In 1969, as Major League Baseball celebrated the 100th anniversary of professional baseball, DiMaggio was voted the "Greatest Living Player."

 

Chasing .400

 

As the 1939 season drew to a close, 24-year old Joe DiMaggio was on the brink of baseball history.

 

"I remember there were about three weeks to go in the season and I had a plus-.400 batting average," Joe recalled in 1963. "I figured I was odds-on to finish the year with a .400 mark. I remember Joe McCarthy calling me into his office and telling me he didn't think I wanted to be a cheese champion so he was going to play me every day, even though the pennant was about clinched."

 

"I agreed, but a few days later I got this terrible pain over my right eye. I didn't tell anyone, and I went to a doctor who gave me Novocain shots over the eye to kill the pain. I was taking a terrible chance, but I never thought of the consequences. All I wanted to do was stay in the lineup and hit .400. I didn't make it though."

 

DiMaggio finished the season at .381, winning his first batting title and Most Valuable Player Award.

 

Position

Center field

Major League Debut: May 3, 1936; Dimaggio's debut was delayed by his contract holdout.

Feats

His record 56-game hitting streak has stood for more than 60 years.

Uniform #'s

#9 (1936), #5 (1937-1942, 1946-1951)

Best Season, 1941

 

Though Ted Williams great '41 season denied DiMaggio a batting or slugging title, Joltin' Joe had a monster year. He slugged .643 with a .440 OBP (1.083 OPS). He led the league with 125 RBI, and hit 30 homers and 43 doubles. He also scored 122 runs, collected 193 hits, and smashed 11 triples. Amazingly, he struck out just 13 times! He had 76 walks, and did all of this while playing his usual fantastic center field. Oh yes...and he also posted his 56-game hitting streak and led the Yankees to a World Series title.

 

Hitting Streaks

 

56 games (1941); DiMaggio's streak was stopped by Cleveland pitcher Jim Bagby Jr., son of former big league pitcher Jim Bagby. In the minor leagues, DiMaggio had a 610game hitting streak stopped by Ed Walsh Jr., son of Hall of Fame right-hander Ed Walsh.

DiMaggio and the MVP Award

 

DiMaggio won two controversial MVP awards over Ted Williams: in 1941 (by 37 votes, despite Williams' .406 average); and in 1947, (by a single vote). Twice he finished second, once in a very close vote. In 1937 he lost the honor to Detroit's Charlie Gehringer by four votes.

 

1936 - 8th

1937 - 2nd

1938 - 6th

1939 - 1st

1940 - 3rd

1941 - 1str> 1942 - 7th 1943-45 (military)

1946 - 19th

1947 - 1st

1948 - 2nd

1949 - 12th

1950 - 9th

 

Fighting with Casey

Late in his career, DiMaggio had a feud with Yankee manager Casey Stengel, whom he had little respect for. On July 8, 1951, after DiMaggio committed an error in center field, Stengel measured some revenge when he replaced Joe with rookie Jackie Jensen in the middle of the game. DiMaggio retired at the end of the 1951 season.

 

 

Joe Dimaggio, the Yankee Clipper.jpg

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Nolan Ryan

 

Born: January 31, 1947

Height: 6'2"

Weight: 195 Lbs.

First Game: September 11, 1966

Final Game: September 22, 1993

Bats/Throws: Right/Right

Drafted: 12th Round (!) of the 1965 draft by the Mets

Teams: New York Mets, California Angels, Houston Astros, Texas Rangers

Elected to HOF: 1999 (98.79% of votes)

Notable Achivements: 324 Wins, 27 Seasons, 5714 Strikeouts, 8 Time All-Star, 1 World Series Win

 

 

 

Nolan Ryan.jpg

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Billy Herman

Billy Herman played on pennant winners in the 30's for the Chicago Cubs and in the 40's for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Manager Leo Durocher called Herman the final piece to the puzzle in 1941 for Brooklyn when he acquired Herman in a trade that year. Durocher proved to be right as the Dodgers won their first pennant that year in twenty-one years.

 

About Herman

One of the best hitting second baseman in history, Herman spent nearly four years in the minor leagues before being purchased by the NL's Chicago Cubs late in the 1931 season. He became a starter in 1932.

 

Although he wasn't fast, his reflexes and lateral quickness gave him great defensive ability. He led NL second baseman in putouts a record 7 times, in assists 3 times, and in fielding percentage 3 times.

 

He batted .314 in his first full season, collecting 206 hits and 102 runs to help lead the Cubs to a pennant. However, they lost the World Series in four games to the New York Yankees. After slipping to .279 in 1933, he hit over .300 the next 4 seasons, leading the league with 227 hits and 57 doubles in 1935, when the Cubs again won the pennant.

 

Herman batted .333 against the Detroit Tigers in the World Series, but the Cubs again lost. They won another pennant in 1938, again losing to the Yankees in the series, when Herman hit only .188.

 

He led the NL in triples with 18 in 1939, then was traded early in the 1941 season to the Brooklyn Dodgers, where he played on another pennant-winner but batted just .125 in a five-game World Series loss to the Yankees.

 

After serving in the Navy in 1944 and 1945, Herman returned to the Dodgers in 1946. He was traded during the season to the Boston Braves and in 1947 he became manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, appearing in only 15 games. He was fired the day before the last game of the season.

 

Herman managed in the minor leagues and coached in the majors for several years before becoming manager of the AL's Boston Red Sox for the last two games of 1964. He was replaced late in the 1966 season.

 

 

Billy Herman.jpg

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Nolan Ryan

Born: January 31, 1947

Height: 6'2"

Weight: 195 Lbs.

First Game: September 11, 1966

Final Game: September 22, 1993

Bats/Throws: Right/Right

Drafted: 12th Round (!) of the 1965 draft by the Mets

Teams: New York Mets, California Angels, Houston Astros, Texas Rangers

Elected to HOF: 1999 (98.79% of votes)

Notable Achivements: 324 Wins, 27 Seasons, 5714 Strikeouts, 8 Time All-Star, 1 World Series Win

Also known for punching Robin Ventura in a classic brawl...

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"Wahoo" Sam Crawford was born in Wahoo, NE, near Lincoln where I was born and raised. I played many Legion games on Sam Crawford Memorial Field in Wahoo. He was an apprentice to become a barber before he turned to baseball full-time in Omaha. If anyone has the chance to read The Glory Of Their Times, they should. Here are some other HOFers who were born in Nebraska (Not necessarily living there anymore):

Pete Alexander (P), Richie Ashburn (OF), Wade Boggs (3B), and Bob Gibson (P).

Another great Nebraskan was Bob Cerv. Cerv was an All-Star in the '50's with the Kansas City A's before becoming a backup outfielder in 1961 with Mantle and Maris. He is portrayed as Maris' roommate in Billy Crystal's movie "61*."

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Herb Pennock

 

Herb Pennock was born on Saturday, February 10, 1894, and began his Major League baseball career on May 14, 1912, with the Philadelphia Athletics. The 18 year-old played for 22 seasons on 3 different teams and ended his big league playing career in 1934. The highlight of Pennock's career was being a member of the 1927 Yankees, a team considered the greatest of all time. Pennock that year was 19 - 8 with a 3.00 ERA. Pennock was called the "Knight of Kennett Square" because he hailed from Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

 

About Pennock

Every great team has a strong mix of hitting and pitching. The 1927 New York Yankees had "Murderer’s Row" of Ruth, Gehrig, and company to provide offensive explosions. The pitching staff was just as instrumental in the team’s success. The staff was anchored by left-handed journeyman, Herb Pennock. When the Yankees traded for Pennock in 1923, they figured to get a few solid starts out of the ten-year veteran. What they got was an ace that would perform brilliantly for ten more seasons and compile a perfect 5-0 World Series record. When all was said and done and his career ended in 1934, Pennock tallied a 240-162 record and completed an astounding 247 games. In 1948, Herb Pennock joined many of his Yankee teammates in Cooperstown with his election to baseball's Hall of Fame.

 

Fast Facts

Name: Herbert Jefferis Pennock

Born: February 19, 1894 Kennett Square, PA

Died: January 30, 1948

Batted: Both

Threw: Left

Position: Pitcher

Pitcher for Philadelphia Athletics 1912-15

Boston Red Sox 1915-22 and 1934

New York Yankees 1923-33

Earned 33 career saves Compiled a perfect 5-0 record in World Series Play Had a league-leading .

760 winning percentage in 1923

Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1948.

Led the league in innings pitched in 1925

Logged 247 complete games in his career

 

 

Herb Pennock.jpg

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Bobby Shantz

Bobby Shantz was a crafty lefthanded pitcher that played in the major leagues for 16 seasons on eight different teams. His best year was in 1952 when he was the American League's Most Valueable Player for the Philadelphia Athletics. He went 24 - 7 with a 2.48 ERA for a team that only finished four games over .500

 

About Shantz

The 5'6" 139-lb Shantz broke in spectacularly, winning a 13-inning game in relief, pitching nine hitless innings along the way while giving up one run and two hits overall. He was handicapped by manager Connie Mack, a former catcher who wouldn't let Shantz use his knuckleball and was predisposed against small pitchers. When Mack finally retired after the 1950 season, Jimmy Dykes took over the club and gave the little lefthander more rest between starts; Shantz blossomed. Finally allowed to use his knuckler, and with a curveball that Ted Williams called the best in the AL, Shantz learned to change speeds and went 18-10 for the 70-84 Athletics.

 

 

Shantz reached the peak of his career in 1952, going 24-7 for a fifth-place team to win the MVP award in a landslide. He led the AL in wins, winning percentage, and fewest walks per game (2.03), and finished third with a 2.48 ERA and 152 strikeouts, tied for third with five shutouts, second with 27 complete games, fourth with 255 innings, and fifth in fewest hits per game (7.39).

 

Plagued by injuries for most of the next four seasons, Shantz went to the Yankees in a 12-player deal before the 1957 season and made a great comeback that year, leading the AL with a 2.45 ERA while going 11-5. After that, he was used more frequently in relief, and contributed 11 saves to the 1960 pennant winners before being traded to the Pirates, who had defeated New York in the World Series; Shantz saved Game Two for the Yankees. He bounced around the NL after that, effective until his last year.

 

Shantz won Gold Gloves in the first four years of the award (1957-60). His brother Billy was a catcher for the A's in 1954-55 and in one game for the 1960 Yankees.

 

 

Bobby Shantz.jpg

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Gaylord Perry

Born: September 15, 1938

Height: 6'4"

Weight: 215 Lbs.

First Game: April 14, 1962

Last Game: September 21, 1983

Bats/Throws: Right/Right

Drafted: N/A (Signed as free agent with S.F. Giants in 1958)

Teams: San Fransisco Giants, Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, San Diego Padres, New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Seattle Mariners, Kansas City Royals

Elected to HOF: 1991 (77.20% of votes)

Notable Achivements: First player to win Cy Young in both leagues, 314 Wins, 3534 Strikeouts, 5 Time All-Star, 22 Year Career

 

 

Gaylord Perry.jpg

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Roger Maris

 

Some consider him still to be the home run king. He was one of the most underated and underapreciated players of his era.

Everyone knows that he hit 61 in 1961. He hit his last one on the last day of the year. A little known fact is that he not only won the MVP award in 1961, but the year before in 1960. He led the league in many single season stats during his career other than homers including slugging(1960), runs (1961), total bases (61), RBIs (1960, 1961), extra base hits ( 1960, 1961). He also won a Golden Glove in 1960.

 

 

Roger Maris.jpg

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Roger Maris

Some consider him still to be the home run king. He was one of the most underated and underapreciated players of his era.

Everyone knows that he hit 61 in 1961. He hit his last one on the last day of the year. A little known fact is that he not only won the MVP award in 1961, but the year before in 1960. He led the league in many single season stats during his career other than homers including slugging(1960), runs (1961), total bases (61), RBIs (1960, 1961), extra base hits ( 1960, 1961). He also won a Golden Glove in 1960.

Baseball-Reference.com says he is most like Jeremy Burnitz.

Have you seen the Movie 61*

It is just great!

Billy Crystal @ his best!!!

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Have you seen the Movie 61*

It is just great!

Billy Crystal @ his best!!!

Yes, I own it. Top 5 baseball movie ever. Top 10 sports movie ever. I think ESPN when they did all of those top 25 lists thought it was the 16th best.

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Mickey Mantle

Boys across America in the 1950's looked to Mantle as a hero and he did not let them down. A member of five Yankee champions in the 50's, Mantle was the successor to Joe Dimaggio in centerfield in New York. Mantle was racked by injuries for his entire career, but that did not stop him from hitting 536 homeruns and going to the Hall of Fame.

 

Mickey Mantle.jpg

 

Mickey Mantle rates as one of the greatest players in baseball history; he was the greatest switch-hitter the game has ever known. Mantle led the league 27 times in various batting titles. He led the league in home runs in four different years, he won six runs scored crowns, four times he led the league in walks, Mantle won three slugging titles, he led the league in batting average and RBI's in 1956.

 

Mickey Mantle, was a popular and well-regarded ballplayer and he won the Most Valuable Player Awards in 1956, 1957, and again in 1962. He is the only switch-hitter to win the Triple Crown, accomplishing this in 1956 when he clubbed 52 home runs, batted .353 and had 130 RBI's. Mantle is one of only three Triple Crown Winners who also won a Gold Glove Award. Mantle was one of the greatest fielding centerfielders of all-time. He was a league leading centerfielder in four different seasons.

 

Mantle, when batting left-handed was timed running from home-plate to first base in 3.1 seconds (the fastest time of any player in history), this is incredible feat. Mickey Mantle is the greatest late inning clutch hitter that ever played. He led the New York Yankees to twelve pennants and seven times the Yankees won the World Championship. If the Yankees were tied or losing the game in the late innings, Mantle would somehow come to their rescue with his late inning heroics. He was the most feared hitter in his time; smashing late inning bases loaded doubles or by hitting a game winning home run. If Mickey Mantle and the Yankees were playing your team; no lead was safe.

 

Mantle was "the Destroyer of Dreams", with his blinding speed and potent hitting. This Hall of Famer holds seven world series records including most home runs with 18, most runs scored with 42, most RBI's - 40 and most total bases with 123. (these records in his world series play are better than a lot of players get for a full season).

 

Mickey Mantle MVP.jpg

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Carl Furillo

Any New Yorker on this board that has relatives that followed baseball in the 1950's will know of Carl Furillo and remember him fondly. Furillo was a "gamer", before that word was used to describe baseball players who played the game hard for nine innings each and every day. He was Brooklyn's regular right fielder and was a fan favorite.

 

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About Furillo

Furillo played his entire 15 year career with the Dodgers in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, taking part in seven World Series and finishing with a career batting average of .299. He hit 192 home runs and had 1,058 runs batted in.

 

His best season was in 1953 when he led the National League in batting with a .344 average. He won the title despite being sidelined with a broken finger incurred in a brawl. Furillo had been hit by a pitch from the New York Giants' Ruben Gomez, and then charged the Giant manager, Leo Durocher.

 

We hated the Giants,he recalled years later. We just hated the uniform.

 

Furillo batted over .300 in four other seasons and drove in 90 or more runs for the Dodgers six times.

 

He was one of the star players for the Dodger team recalled in The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn and was a member of the only Brooklyn team that won the World Series, in 1955.

 

Furillo, who was raised in Lower Alsace Township, Pa., near Reading, started playing baseball as an outfielder for the Pocmoke City in the Eastern Shore League at a salary of $80 a month.

 

He fought his way up through the Dodger organization, where he acquired the name Reading Rifle for his fine throwing arm.

 

Pee Wee Reese, the former shortstop for the Dodgers, recalled a few years ago how the sign for Abe Stark's clothing store at the base of the right-field wall promised a free suit to any batter who hit it on a fly.

 

But Furillo played right in front of it,said Reese. Nobody ever hit it.

 

In 1959, Furillo, then 37 years old, played only 25 games in the outfield, but he delivered a game-winning hit in the World Series to help Los Angeles defeat the Chicago White Sox. His pinch-hit single in the seventh inning of Game 3, coming with the bases loaded, drove in two runs to break a scoreless tie. The Dodgers went on to win that game, 3-1.

 

The following season, however, Furillo was released after suffering a torn calf muscle. It was a heavily publicized incident that left him bitter. Furillo wanted to finish his 15th season so he would qualify in the players pension fund and receive $285 a month compared to $30 a month less if he left when the Dodgers wanted him to leave.

 

But the slugger who had smashed 192 homers over 14 years had only two hits in 10 times at bat.

 

After being released, he sued the Dodgers, saying his release was illegal because he had a baseball-related injury. A court awarded him back pay, and later he said he was blackballed from baseball coaching and scouting jobs.

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Juan Marichal

 

The pride of both the Dominican Republic and the Giants, Juan Marichal won 243 games and lost only 142 over 16 marvelous seasons. The high-kicking right-hander enjoyed six 20-win seasons, hurled a no-hitter against Houston in 1963, and was named to nine All-Star teams.

 

The "Dominican Dandy" twice led the National League in complete games and shutouts, finishing 244 contests during his career while fanning 2,303 and compiling a 2.89 ERA. After his playing days, Marichal became minister of sports in his homeland.

 

Major League Debut:

July 19, 1960, Pitched a 2-0, one-hit victory over the Phillies!!!

Best Games: 1) No hitter vs. Houston Colt 45's on 89 pitches

2) Pitching 16 Innings against Warren Spahn, winning 1-0....

 

 

 

 

Juan Marichal.jpg

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Wesley Branch Rickey

 

Branch Rickey.jpg

 

This man is another person many of you have never heard of but you know of his accomplishments just the same. Branch Rickey invented the farm system when he was the general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals. Before the farm system came about, minor league teams would sell their best players to any of the major league teams for the highest price. Rickey's system eliminated that and it proved to be so popular, every team copied this practice in no time.

 

As an owner of the Dodgers in Brooklyn, he pioneered the use of baseball statistics. He was the first to hire a statistician. Also, Rickey introduced batting helmets to the major leagues. Before that, players would go up to bat wearing only their baseball hat.

 

Rickey of course is best known for breaking baseball's long standing color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson to a Dodger contract in 1945. He sent Robinson to Montreal to play in 1946 and he promoted him to Brooklyn in 1947, helping the Dodgers win the pennant that year.

 

Rickey was also a major league player. He played for the Browns and was a catcher. He didn't play long in the majors and he made it to the Hall of Fame as an executive and not a player.

 

Branch Rickey, Dodgers.jpg

 

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Charles Albert Bender

 

Born: May 5, 1884, Crow Wing County, Minnesota

Died: May 22, 1954, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

 

Batted: right

Threw: right

 

Played for: Philadelphia Athletics, Baltimore Terrapins, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago White Sox

 

Elected to Hall of Fame by Committee on Baseball Veterans: 1953

 

Charles Albert Bender overcame subtle discrimination including the derisive nickname "Chief" to become one of the top pitchers of the dead ball era. A member of the Chippewa tribe and a graduate of Carlisle Indian School, Bender won 212 games over 16 seasons, mostly for Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics. He led the American League in winning percentage three times, tossed a no-hitter in 1910, and was one of the first World Series stars, winning six games and posting a 2.44 ERA in five career series.

 

Did you know?... that Chief Bender is credited with inventing the nickel curve, also known as the slider?

 

 

Chief Bender.jpg

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Papa Bear George Halas founder of the NFL and owner of the Chicago Bears.

 

George Stanley Halas (February 2, 1895 - October 31, 1983), nicknamed "Papa Bear" and "Mr. Everything", was an American player, coach, owner and pioneer in professional football and the iconic longtime leader of the NFL's Chicago Bears.

 

 

Halas, born in Chicago, Illinois, had a varied career in sports. After graduating from Crane Tech High School in Chicago, he attended the University of Illinois, playing football for coach Bob Zuppke as well as baseball and basketball, and earning a degree in civil engineering. He helped Illinois win the 1918 Big Ten football title. Serving as an ensign in the Navy during World War I, he played for a team at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station, and was named the MVP of the 1919 Rose Bowl. On a team which included Paddy Driscoll and Jimmy Conzelman, Halas scored two touchdowns and returned an intercepted pass 77 yards in a 17-0 win; the team was also rewarded with their military discharges.

 

Afterward, Halas played minor league and semi-pro baseball. He was so good at baseball, he eventually earned a promotion to the New York Yankees, where he played 12 games as an outfielder in the major leagues in 1919. However, a hip injury effectively ended his baseball career. He was replaced in the outfield by the legendary Babe Ruth.

 

 

George Halas.jpg

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Thurman Munson

 

Any Yankee fan who is knowledgeable about the history of his team can give you statistics about Thurman Munson, but to really appreciate him you had to see him play. The great statistics were just a part of who he was. Munson was the first Yankee captian named to the team since Lou Gehrig. That alone shows how special he was. Munson was a clutch player and for a catcher, had very good speed. In 1976, the Yankees broke a twelve year drought by winning the pennant. They lost to the Reds that year in four games but Munson was the only one who had a good series.

 

On August 2nd, 1979, Thurman Munson died while practicing takeoffs and landings near his Canton, Ohio home. He was 32.

 

Thurman Munson.jpg

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Jimmie Foxx

 

Foxx was 6-foot and 195 pounds, but he seemed bigger, probably because he could hit the ball so far. He joined the AL's Philadelphia Athletics in 1925 as a catcher, but didn't play much during his first few seasons because Philadelphia already had the best catcher in baseball, Mickey Cochrane.

 

In his infrequent appearances, Foxx showed that he could hit, and in 1929 he became Philadelphia's starting first baseman. He hit .354 with 33 home runs and 117 RBI. It was the first in a record streak of twelve years in which he hit 30 or more home runs and drove in 100 or more runs.

 

Foxx had a .335 average with 37 home runs and 156 RBI in 1930, then batted .291 with 30 homers and 120 RBI in 1931, as the Athletics won their third straight pennant. In their three World Series appearances, Foxx hit .344, with 4 home runs, 11 runs scored, and 11 RBI.

 

Philadelphia owner-manager Connie Mack began to dismantle the team in 1932 because of financial problems. The Athletics started to slide, but Foxx didn't. He led the AL with 58 home runs and 169 RBI, batting .364. Foxx lost two home runs that were hit in games called by rain before they became official, which kept him from tying Babe Ruth's famous record of 60 in a season. He was also deprived of the triple crown because the batting title was awarded to Dale Alexander, even though Alexander didn't have the required 400 at-bats for the season.

 

In 1933, Foxx did win the triple crown, batting .356 with 48 home runs and 163 RBI. He won his second MVP award that season. Despite a pay cut, he hit .334 with 44 homers and 130 RBI in 1934. Foxx ended his career with Philadelphia by tying Lou Gehrig for the home run lead with 36 in 1935, when he hit .346 and had 115 RBI.

 

Mack then sent him to the Boston Red Sox in a trade that brought $150,000 to the Athletics, along with two inconsequential players. Foxx was an immediate favorite among Boston fans. He hit .338 with 41 home runs in 1936. After slipping to a .285 average and 36 home runs in 1937, he won his third most valuable player award in 1938 with a .349 average, 50 home runs, and 175 RBI. He led the league in average and RBI, but finished second to Hank Greenberg in homers.

 

After leading the league in home runs with 35 in 1939, Foxx hit 36 in 1940, then declined to 19 in 1941. He got off to a poor start the following season and was released. The Chicago Cubs picked him up, but he was no more successful there, and he announced his retirement. The Cubs talked him into coming back in 1944, when players were scarce because of World War II, but he played in only 15 games, mostly as a pinch-hitter. After appearing in 89 games for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1945, he retired for good.

 

He later coached and managed for a few years in the minor leagues. Known for drinking and for buying other people drinks, Foxx had little money left from his glorious baseball years. He suffered a heart attack in 1963 and choked to death while eating at his brother's house in Miami four years later.

 

In 2,317 games, Foxx batted .325 with 2,646 hits, including 458 doubles, 125 triples, and 534 home runs. He drove in 1,922 runs and scored 1,751.

 

 

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Vida Blue

 

As a 21-year old, Blue burst on the scene in 1971, winning the American League's Cy Young and MVP awards. The rest of his career was spent trying to live up to that standard. He managed to win more than 200 games, despite several contract battles, shoulder injuries, and a drug conviction. Showing rare good judgment, he declined several thousands of dollars in bonus money offered by A's owner Charlie Finley if the left-hander would legally change his name to "True Blue."

 

Blue never won a World Series game (0-3, 4.04), and he was 1-5 in 17 post-season games. His shining moment in the post-season was a two-hit shutout of the Orioles in game three of the '74 playoffs, when he out-dueled Jim Palmer. Blue was also 0-for-13 with 12 K's at the plate in the post-season.

 

 

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Sadaharu Oh

 

From wikipedia:

 

Sadaharu Oh was a professional baseball player and manager. He is one of Japan's most revered sports heroes, although he has never had Japanese citizenship and holds a Republic of China passport. His Chinese name is Wang Zhenzhi

 

Oh was born in Tokyo, Japan, was the son of a Chinese father and a Japanese mother. In 1959 he signed a contract to pitch for the Yomiuri Giants. He was a weak pitcher and switched to first base. In those early seasons, Oh worked with coach Hiroshi Arakawa to improve his batting stance. This led him to developing a unique stance, in which he raised his right leg high, flamingo-style, in anticipation of the pitch. It took Oh a few years to blossom, but he would go on to dominate baseball in Japan for the next twenty years.

 

Oh led his league in home runs 15 times, 13 of which were consecutive, and drove in the most runs in 13 seasons. More than just a power hitter, he also won the batting title five times. Twice in his career Sadaharu Oh won the batting triple crown, led his team to eleven championships. Oh was named his league's Most Valuable Player 9 times, and voted to the All Star team eighteen times.

 

In 1980, Sadaharu Oh retired at age 40 having a record of 2,786 hits, 868 home runs, 2,170 runs batted in and a .301 lifetime batting average out of 9,250 at bats in 2,831 games. His 868 career home runs surpassed America's Hank Aaron, making him professional baseball's all-time home run king.

 

Oh's outstanding totals have led baseball fans in many countries to speculate how well he could have done had he played in the American major leagues. His hitting exploits benefited from the fact that for most of his career, he batted #3 in the Giants' lineup, with Shigeo Nagashima, a dangerous hitter in his own right, batting behind him. The fences in the ballparks Oh played in were shorter than in the U.S. (about 300-320 feet down the foul lines), and many Japanese teams in his time used only three starting pitchers, often leaving them exhausted. On the other hand, the Japanese season is shorter than the American season by 32 games, and veteran American players who observed Oh's play firsthand compared his strength and skill to Aaron and Ted Williams. All told, there is little doubt among baseball scholars that Oh could still have been a superstar even if had he played for an American team instead of the Yomiuri Giants.

 

Following his retirement, Oh was hired to manage his Giants team in 1984. He was manager until 1988 when he and the also retired Hank Aaron teamed up on a campaign to increase the popularity of baseball by working with youngsters.

 

 

 

 

 

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Steve Dalkowski

 

If any minor leaguer is going to be included, it should be this guy.

 

 

Again, from Wikipedia:

 

Steve "White Lightning" Dalkowski (born June 3, 1939 in New Britain, Connecticut) is a former Minor League Baseball left handed pitcher. He is sometimes called the fastest pitcher in baseball history with a fastball that may have exceeded 100 mph (161 km/h). Experts believe it went as high as 110 mph (177 km/h), but some have stated that his pitches only traveled at 105 mph (169 km/h) or less. His fastball earned him the nickname "White Lightning".

 

He was also notorious for his unpredictable performance and inability to control his pitches. His alcoholism and violent behavior off the field caused him problems during his career and after his retirement. After he retired from baseball he spent many years as an alcoholic, making a meager living as a migrant worker. He cleaned up in the 1990s but his alcoholism has left him with dementia and he has difficulty remembering his life after the mid 1960s.

 

Writer and director Ron Shelton played in the minor leagues alongside Dalkowski. His 1988 film Bull Durham contains a character named "Nuke" LaLoosh (played by Tim Robbins) who is based loosely on his life.

 

Dalkowski began playing baseball in high school and also played football as a quarterback for New Britain High School. During his time with the team they won the division championships twice in 1955 and 1956. However, he excelled the most in baseball, and still holds a Connecticut state record for striking out 24 batters in a single game.

 

After graduating from high school in 1957, Dalkowski was immediately signed by the Baltimore Orioles franchise for a $4,000 bonus. He initially played for their Class D minor league affiliate of Kingsport. He spent his entire career in the minor leagues, playing in nine different leagues during his nine-year career. His only appearance at the Orioles' stadium was during an exhibition game in 1959, when he struck out the opposing side.

 

Dalkowski's reputation has as its centerpiece the high velocity with which he was able to throw his fastball. But Dalkowski also often had extreme difficulty controlling his pitches; many times they would go wild on him, sometimes so wild they would end up in the stands.

 

Often, he would walk more batters in a game than he would strike out. Batters found his wild pitches intimidating. Oriole Paul Blair stated that "He threw the hardest I ever saw. He was the wildest I ever saw." During a typical season in 1960, while pitching in the California League, Dalkowski struck out 262 batters and walked 262 in 170 innings. These numbers will yield the statistics strikeouts per nine innings and walks per nine innings. Dalkowski for 1960 thus figures at both 13.81 k/9IP and 13.81 BB/9IP. Just for comparison, Randy Johnson currently holds the major league record for strikeouts per nine innings in a season with 13.41. On the other hand, a pitcher would be considered wild if he averaged four walks per nine innings, and it's safe to say that a pitcher of average repertoire who consistently walked as many as nine men per nine innings would shortly be out of work. But such was the allure of Dalkowski's velocity; the Orioles gave him chance after chance to harness his stuff, knowing that if he ever were able to control it, he'd be unstoppable.

 

During a game at Kingsport on August 31, 1957 Dalkowski struck out 24 Bluefield hitters in a single minor league game, yet lost, 8-4. He had issued 18 walks, hit four batters, and threw six wild pitches. Dalkowski pitched a total of 62 innings in 1957, struck out 121 (averaging 18 strikeouts per game) but won only once, because he walked 129 (8 more than he struck out) and threw 39 wild pitches.

 

During the 1960s under Earl Weaver, the manager for the Orioles' Double-A affiliate in Elmira, New York, his game began to show improvement. Earl had given all of the players an IQ test and discovered that Dalkowski had an IQ of only 60. Armed with this knowledge, it became apparent why Dalkowski had had such difficulty keeping his game under control: he hadn't the mental capacity. Weaver kept things simple for Dalkowski, allowing him to concentrate on his fastball and strikeouts. Under Weaver's leadership, he had his best season in 1962; for the last 57 innings, he struck out 110, walked 11 and had an ERA of only 0.11 - a remarkable improvement and one that must have had the Orioles' upper management drooling.

 

He was finally invited to major league spring training in 1963. On March 23, he was called up as a relief pitcher during a game against the New York Yankees. Whilst throwing a slider to Phil Linz, he felt something pop in his left elbow, which turned out to be a severe muscle strain. He was out for the rest of the 1963 season and his arm never fully recovered.

 

When he returned in 1964 his fastball had dropped to 90 mph (145 km/h) and midway through the season, he was released by the Orioles. He played for two more seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Angels organizations but was unable to overcome his injuries, retiring in 1966.

 

He had a lifetime won-loss record of 46-80 and an ERA of 5.59 in nine minor league seasons, striking out 1396 and walking 1354 in 995 innings.

 

 

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James Rodney "J.R." Richard, #50

JRRichard.jpg

"He had the greatest stuff I have ever seen and it still gives

me goosebumps to think of what he might have become"

Joe Morgan, Hall of Famer

 

The tragic story of J.R. Richard is one that deserves to be told and retold for as long as the sport of baseball survives. Much like the timeless Greek tragedies written thousands of years ago, it is the story of a great figure brought to ruin at the height of his glory by forces beyond his control. When people talk of J.R., their conversations will inevitably end with an unanswerable series of "What If?" scenarios. Would the Astros have gone to the World Series in 1980? Would J.R. have struck out 300 batters again? Would he have won the Cy Young? Would he have been a Hall of Famer?

 

James Rodney Richard was born on March 7, 1950 in Rustin, Louisiana. Growing up, his great height and athleticism allowed him to excel in sports. By his senior year at Lincoln High, Richard was a giant among his schoolmates, standing at 6'8" and weighing 220 pounds. As a result, he dominated in both basketball and baseball. An overpowering right-handed pitcher, J.R. did not allow any runs in his Senior season -- period. His teammates knew that he could swing a mean bat as well. In one game, he hit four consecutive home runs while pitching his team to a 48-0 drubbing against a local rival. Upon graduation, J.R. turned down over 200 basketball scholarship offers to sign with the Houston Astros, a rising team that had made him their first-round pick in the 1969 Summer draft.

 

It did not take long for the Astros to realize the incredible talent they had on their hands. J.R. was not polished, but could overpower the opposition when he was able to find the plate. Though he walked 68 batters in only 109 innings in his first full minor-league season, he also struck out 138 batters and threw a no-hitter. His fastball was explosive and often reached 100 mph. But more devastating than his fastball was his slider. J.R.'s slider could reach 93 mph, faster than most major-league fastballs. And because of his reputation for wildness, hitters were unwilling to dig in against the slider.

 

A late-season callup in 1971, the 21-year-old Richard made his major-league debut against the San Francisco Giants and immediately caught the attention of the baseball world. In his first game, the giant rookie tied Karl Spooner's record by striking out 15 batters in his major-league debut. But J.R.'s wildness bounced him between the majors and the minors for several years as the team tried to remain competitive in the National League West. In 1974, however, J.R. would post an 0.00 ERA in 33 innings in the team's AAA affiliate in Denver, forcing the team to keep him on the major-league roster for good. He was still wild, but there was no longer any doubt about his future with the team.

 

In 1975, the Astros were rebuilding and gave J.R. a full-time spot in the starting rotation. Even though the team slumped to its worst record in franchise history, 64-97, Richard's 12-10 mark was the only winning record among the starters. Although this might represent a good start for most pitchers, it would be the following season in which J.R. would claim his place among the elite pitchers in baseball. It started innocently enough, with J.R. unseating another Astro great, Larry Dierker, as the opening-day starter for the team. Beginning his season with an 11-5 blowout loss to the defending World Champion Cincinnati Reds, Richard quickly rebounded with a shutout against the Giants and his way to five consecutive wins. Even though the team floundered around .500 most of the season, J.R. slowly accumulated wins. After winning his 18th game with only seven games remaining, J.R. pitched twice more, allowing only one run in two complete games to finish as only the second Astro pitcher to win 20 games in a season. During a year in which the Astros finished more than 20 games behind the Cincinnati Reds, J.R. had given the hometown fans something to cheer about all of the way until the last day of the season. In addition, his 2.75 ERA was 7th in the league and his 214 strikeouts were second-best.

 

Fresh off of his 20-win season, J.R. would post another solid season in 1977, finishing with an 18-12 record, a 2.97 ERA and 214 strikeouts yet again. It was the first time that any Astros starter had won at least 18 games in back-to-back seasons, yet J.R. would go on to win at least 18 games for four consecutive seasons. As a follow-up to this performance, J.R. raised his game up to another level in 1978. Although the team could not reach the .500 mark, Richard kept Astros fans excited in the final weeks of September. He was not chasing 20 wins this time, but 300 strikeouts. In his final start of the season against Atlanta on September 29, J.R. would reach that plateau by striking out Rowland Office in the second inning.

 

It was 1979, however, that would turn out to be J.R.'s finest full season in the majors. After getting off to a slow start, Richard won 11 of his last 13 decisions to finish with an 18-13 record. In addition, he led the league with a 2.71 ERA and set a new personal high with 313 strikeouts. J.R.'s fame was now undeniable; he had joined Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax as the only modern-era pitchers to strike out 300 batters in consecutive seasons. But despite leading the league in ERA and strikeouts, J.R.'s 18 wins were not enough to win the Cy Young Award. Instead, he finished third in the voting behind reliever Bruce Sutter and teammate Joe Niekro, who had won 21 games.

We have now reached the "Greek tragedy" chapter of the story of J.R. Richard. At this point, he seemed unstoppable. Batters were striking out in record numbers against him. Richard was racking up win after win after win. On Opening Day in 1980, J.R. was only 30 years old and had already achieved greater success than any other Astros pitcher in history. But something was about to go terribly wrong, and this is the part of the story that Astros fans are all too familiar with. Opening Day went as expected. J.R. ushered in the new season against the Dodgers, retiring the first 19 batters he faced before finishing with a two-hit victory. In his next start, he would pitch five scoreless innings against Atlanta before leaving with shoulder stiffness and a no-decision. If this was a harbinger of things to come, nobody recognized it yet. His third start was brilliant. Dominating the Dodgers once again, Richard threw the only one-hitter of his major-league career, allowing only a fourth-inning infield single to Reggie Smith.

 

After that, though, Richard would begin to take himself out of games early, complaining about a variety of ailments: shoulder stiffness, back stiffness, forearm stiffness, a "dead arm". Nobody complained, though, because he was still winning. By the All-Star break, J.R. was leading the league with a 10-4 record, a 1.89 ERA, and 119 strikeouts. In fact, the "talk" about J.R. was much more insidious. What started as whispers soon worked its way into the mainstream media. Some accused him of being jealous of Nolan Ryan's new $1 million salary, even though J.R. was making $850,000 himself and had never complained about Ryan's contract. There was also talk that he was "loafing", even though he had not missed a single start in the five years preceding 1980. Some suggested that he couldn't handle the pennant-race pressure with Los Angeles, blindly ignoring the fact that he had gone 11-2 during the 1979 pennant stretch run against Cincinnati. Much of the talk had racial undertones, and that cannot be ignored. It is just inconceivable that this kind of rumor-mongering would have occurred if instead Nolan Ryan had been taking himself out of games early.

 

Finally, though, J.R.'s career came crashing down. After complaining of dizziness on July 14, Richard was placed on the Disabled List and underwent a battery of tests. Some arterial blockage was found in his right shoulder, but it was not deemed to be serious. In fact, the team doctor suggested that Richard's problems might be emotional in nature. Just days later, on July 30, J.R. collapsed during pre-game throwing drills with Wilbur Howard and was rushed to Southern Methodist Hospital. It turned out after all that he wasn't lying, he wasn't faking, he wasn't loafing, and his problems were not emotional in nature. J.R. had suffered a major stroke and would have died that day without emergency surgery. When reporters asked about the condition of J.R.'s arm, the doctors replied that they were interested in saving his life, not his arm.

 

After more surgery in September, J.R. went about the business of recovering and returning to baseball. It was not meant to be. His left side had been partially paralyzed and he was unable to re-learn the coordination required to pitch effectively. After a partial season in the minor leagues in 1982, he was quietly released by the team. With the loss of his fame and income, J.R.'s personal life spiraled downward as well. He lost over $300,000 in a business scam and almost $700,000 in a divorce. With no money, Richard found out how rare true friends really are. While people were asking themselves, "Whatever happened to J.R.?", Richard was too proud to ask for help and eventually found himself homeless and living under an interstate bridge. But when his plight became known, his friends rushed to his assistance. In 1995, J.R. returned to the game that had once turned its back on him by making an appearance in the Old-Timer's Game.

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Rick Manning

 

Number 2 draft pick (right out of high school) for the Indians in 1975. A high school shortstop he was moved into the outfield by the Indians. An average hitter (.256 lifetime average, 56 homers, 458 RBI's, and 168 stolen bases over a 13 year career), he was an exceptional Center Fielder, earning the Golden Glove in 1976. While he wasn't a flashy player, he had an enthusiasm and work ethic that made him a favorite of mine. He showed up for work every day and put everything he had into the game. He always seemed to be enjoying himself and was never too busy or self-important to talk to a fan or sign a ball (even when that fan was a thirteen year old who lacked the sense of decorum to not bother the man in the middle of his meal).

 

 

 

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Willie The Say Hey Kid Mays

 

There is no doubt where Willie got his athletic genes. His father and grandfather were ballplayers, while his mother was a champion sprinter. He started pro ball at the tender age of 16 in the Negro Southern League, but his father restricted him to home games only so he could finish high school.

 

The day he received his diploma the New York Giants signed him. By age 20 he was playing in the majors, in New York City no less. He helped the Giants win the NL pennant but then was drafted into the Army for a 2-year tour. He returned to lead the Giants to the World Series crown with a sweep of the Indians. The '54 Series will always be remembered by his remarkable catch-twirl-and-throw of Cleveland's Vic Wertz's 450 foot drive in the 8th inning of a tied Game 1.

 

 

Who knew that 36 years later it wouldn't even be the most famous Catch in the city he is most associated with. Mays, a two-time MVP who hit 660 home runs, won 12 Gold Gloves and three stolen base titles. But here's Willie in his own words.

 

New York Journal American sportswriter Barney Kremenko said that in Mays' rookie season, the reticent Mays "would blurt 'Say who,' 'Say what,' 'Say where,' 'Say hey.' In my paper, I tabbed him the 'Say Hey Kid.' It stuck."

 

 

Voted into the Hall of Fame in 1979, he was the ninth player to be so honored in his first year of eligibility. But when 23 of 432 baseball writers failed to vote for Mays, Dick Young wrote, "If Jesus Christ were to show up with his old baseball glove, some guys wouldn't vote for him. He dropped the cross three times, didn't he?"

 

"If he could cook, I'd marry him." - Leo Durocher (1951)

 

"I can't believe that Babe Ruth was a better player than Willie Mays. Ruth is to baseball what Arnold Palmer is to golf. He got the game moving. But I can't believe he could run as well as Mays, and I can't believe he was any better an outfielder."- Sandy Koufax

 

"They invented the All-Star game for Willie Mays."- Ted Williams

 

"You used to think if the score was 5-0, he'd hit a five-run homer." - Reggie Jackson

 

"There have been only two geniuses in the world. Willie Mays and Willie Shakespeare. But, darling, I think you'd better put Shakespeare first." - Actress Tallulah Bankhead (1962)

 

"Willie Mays' glove is where triples go to die" - Jim Murray, American Sports writer

 

"I'm not sure what the hell charisma is, but I get the feeling it's Willie Mays." - Ted Kluszewski

 

I think I was the best baseball player I ever saw. - Willie Mays

 

They throw the ball, I hit it. They hit the ball, I catch it. - Willie Mays

 

My next player will be a little more obscure. Had a small role in the Shot heard ˜round the World :lol: Don't even try to beat me to it.

 

 

Willie Mays.jpg

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Reading about Carl Furillo reminded me of another player on that team.

 

Roy Campanella

 

 

Starting in the Negro Leagues in 1937, he was the second black man hired by Branch Rickey. Starting for the Dogers in 1948, he played in eight All-Star games and was the National League Most Valuable Player in 1951, 1953, and 1955. He was THE catcher for the Dodgers for a decade, leading the team to five pennants and a World Series title.

 

 

Campanella's contributions to the Dodgers were remarkable. He won the MVP award three times in five years. In 1953, his best season, he batted .312, and scored 103 runs. Also, his 142 RBI (which led the league) and 41 HR set ML records for catchers (plus one HR as a pinch-hitter). He fielded with grace that belied his physique and handled with distinction a predominantly white pitching staff.

 

Like those of many catchers, Campanella's career was punctuated by injuries. In spring training of 1954, he chipped a bone in the heel of his left hand and damaged a nerve. It affected his hitting and limited him to 111 games. Surgery helped in 1955, but the problem returned the next year. Then, in January 1958, Campanella was permanently disabled in an automobile accident. Returning home from his liquor store, which he ran in the off-season, he lost control of his car on an icy street. The car slammed into a telephone pole and flipped over, pinning him behind the steering wheel. The crash fractured his fifth cervical vertebra and damaged his spinal cord. He survived and endured years of therapy, living far beyond the normal span for quadriplegics, but his career was over.

 

Some quotes:

 

"You have to have a lot of little boy in you to play baseball for a living."

"I never want to quit playing ball. They'll have to cut this uniform off of me to get me out of it.

 

 

Roy Campanella.jpg

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Johnny Podres

In 1955, Podres ended the statement that Brooklynites asked after each season was completed. "Wait 'till next year!" was a rallying cry for those great Dodger fans of years past. In 1955, thanks to Podres, next year finally came. Only posting a 9-10 record for the year, Podres was still the game seven pitcher for Brooklyn at Yankee Stadium that year.He came through with a 2 to 0 win that gave Brooklyn their first, and only, championship.

 

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Johnny Podres stepped forward and led the Brooklyn Dodgers to a memorable triumph over the New York Yankees. He did it by pitching to two victories, the first one coming in the third game after the Yankees opened up with two straight victories, and the second coming in game seven with a sparkling, 2-0 shutout victory in the seventh game. This gave the Dodgers their first World Series. Podres won a white corvette from Sport Magazine. Although the left-hander went on to a noteworthy career with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers that included two All-Star Game appearances, membership on five World Series teams and a .561 won-lost percentage during his 15 years in the big leagues, he is best remembered for his performance in the '55 series.

 

After retiring from baseball with the San Diego Padres, he remained there for the next four years as a pitching coach. He joined the Boston Red Sox and spent five years as a minor league pitching instructor, before he joined the parent club as pitching coach in 1980. From 1981-85 he was a pitching coach for the Minnesota Twins and went on to serve four seasons as a minor league pitching coach for the Dodgers' organization. Podres has been with the Philadelphia Phillies since 1990.

 

Podres has developed a reputation as an expert of the changeup, and has taught it to pitchers such as, Frank Viola, Bob Ojeda, John Tudor and Ramon Martinez. Johnny Podres has been involved with baseball for 40+ years and he has been impressive as a coach as well as a player.

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Steve Bedrosian

 

I don't really know why I liked him so much, I guess cause he kinda looked like my dad, lol. He played in the bigs for 14 years: 8 w/ Atl, 3.5 w/ Phi, 1.5 w/ SFG, 1 w/ Min. His major league debut was on August 14, 1981 and his final game was on August 9, 1995. He won the 1987 NL Cy Young Award, he was 5-3 with a 2.83 ERA and 40 saves.

 

Steve Bedrosian.jpg

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ANDY VAN SLYKE

 

Didn't really know much about him cause he played while i was only around 5 but i always look stuff up on him and i like the guy stats.

 

AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG

5711/ 835/ 1562/ 293/ 91/ 164/ 792/ 245 /.274 /.349/.443

 

Van Slyke won 5 Gold Gloves as he served as the anchor for the Pirates defense during their championship caliber years of the 1990's.

-3-time All-Star (1988, 1992-93)

-5-time Gold Glove Award (1988-92)

-Twice Silver Slugger Award (1988, 1992)

-Twice in top 10 in National League MVP vote (4th, 1988; 4th, 1992)

-Finished second in the NL batting race (.324, 1992, behind Gary Sheffield, .330)

-Led NL in hits (199, 1992)

-Led NL in doubles (45, 1992)

-Led NL in triples (15, 1988)

-Led NL in sacrifice flies (13, 1988)

-3-time posted double figures in doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases (1987-88, 1992)

-Compiled a .987 career fielding average

 

 

Andy Van Slyke.jpg

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BILL MAZEROSKI

 

-Holds Major League record for career double plays by a second baseman with 1,706

-Led League in assists 9 times

-Led League in double plays 8 times

-Won 8 Golden Gloves

-Named to 7 All-Star games

-Hit game-winning homerun in bottom of the ninth of game 7, 1960 World Series against the New York Yankees

-Considered, by many, the greatest defensive infielder of all-time

AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG

7,755/769/ 2,016 /294 /62 /138 /853 /.260

 

 

Bill Mazeroski.jpg

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Ernie Banks

 

Noted for his sunny disposition, excellent all-round play and his powerful home runs, Ernie Banks was always a favorite of the Chicago Cubs fans. Banks was chosen to play in the All-Star Game during 11 seasons, was twice voted the National League Most Valuable Player and knocked 512 home runs during his 19-year career with the Cubs. He twice led the National League in home runs and RBI and picked up one Gold Glove Award in 1960. Mr. Cub displayed his perpetual love for the game with his signature phrase, "Let's play two!"

 

He will always be "Mr. Cub," the most popular player the Cubs ever had. His sunny personality is legend, as is his refrain on a sunny day: "Let's play two!" The first black player on the Cubs, Banks came up as a shortstop, where he won consecutive MVP awards, but actually played more games at first base. He is also one of a handful of Hall of Famers never to get into postseason play.

 

From 1955 to 1960, Banks hit more homers than anyone in the majors, including Mantle, Mays, and Aaron. At the end of the 1959 season, he was so popular that the Cubs wanted to give him his own day. The modest Banks gratefully declined, saying that he hadn't been around long enough to be so honored. By 1964, Banks had relented, and the honorary day was held.

 

At first, Banks's fielding was erratic. He posted error totals of 34, 22, and 25 early in his career, culminating in a league-leading 32 in 1958. He worked dilligently to cut his errors down to 12 in 1959, then a record for shortstops, and led NL shortstops in fielding in both 1960 (he won a Gold Glove) and 1961. Meanwhile, he kept hitting. In the first 1960 All-Star game he had a two-run homer in a 5-3 NL victory, and he ended the season leading the league in HR for the second time, with 41.

 

Even though Banks had led the league in fielding the previous two seasons, injuries to his legs had cut down his range, so he accepted a move to first base in 1962. When Leo Durocher took over the team in 1966, he kept bringing up young phenoms to replace Banks, but none did. Banks won the fielding title at his new position in 1969, and led NL first basemen in assists five times. By 1970, his legs had begun to weaken from nagging injuries and arthritis. On May 12, 1970, he hit his 500th homer, the most avidly anticipated event in Wrigley Field history, with the possible exception of the first night game. After Banks's retirement in 1971, the Cubs hoisted a pinstriped pennant with his number 14 atop the left field foul pole at Wrigley Field. He was the first Cubs player to have his number retired.

 

 

Ernie Banks.jpg

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Billy Williams

Soft-spoken Billy Williams let his bat do the talking for 18 seasons. His picture-perfect swing produced 2,711 hits, a.290 career average and 426 home runs. The six-time all-star was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1961 and the “Sporting News†Player of the Year in 1972, when he led the league with a .333 batting average while also hitting 37 home runs and driving in 122 runs. He held the National League mark for consecutive games played (1,117) until surpassed by Steve Garvey.

 

Sweet-swinging Billy Williams quietly carved out a Hall of Fame career. Often overshadowed by flashier players during his heyday, he was a dependable star for 14 full seasons as a Cub. From September 22, 1963 to September 2, 1970, he established a National League record of 1,117 consecutive games played that stood until Steve Garvey broke it in 1983. He also set NL marks for games played by an outfielder in one season (164 in 1965) and consecutive years with 600 or more at-bats (nine, from 1962 to '70, broken by Pete Rose). He tied major league records with five homers in two consecutive games (September 8 and 10, 1968), and four consecutive doubles in a game (April 9, 1969).

 

Two of Williams's greatest games came in 1968; he hit for the cycle on July 17, and hit three homers on September 10. But he was stuck on a losing club, and overshadowed by the jovial Ernie Banks and the outspoken Ron Santo. The arrival of Leo Durocher, another flamboyant figure, brought winning back to the Cubs, with Williams leading the way. June 29, 1969 was designated Billy Williams Day at Wrigley Field; the man of honor broke Stan Musial's NL record of 896 consecutive games played, and went 5-for-9 as the Cubs took two from the Cardinals. Chicago seemed pennant-bound that year, but fell before the late-season charge of the "Amazing" Mets. While many of the Cubs slumped, Williams hit .304 in September.

 

 

Billy Williams.jpg

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Glenn Beckert

The Cubs' regular second baseman for nine years, Beckert was a reliable contact hitter who hit second in the batting order for most of his career. He was the most difficult batter to strike out in the NL five times (in 1968 he whiffed only 20 times in 643 at-bats), and he walked only slightly more often, but nonetheless led the NL in runs scored with 98 in '68. Although never considered a power hitter, he had 20 or more doubles in six seasons.

 

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Beckert was a minor league shortstop, but switched to second base after Ken Hubbs died. He won the Cubs' second-base job in 1965 and adjusted quickly to his new position, leading the NL in assists while finishing second in double plays and total chances per game. For his entire Cub career, he played alongside shortstop Don Kessinger (who often led off in front of Beckert), giving the Cubs an outstanding defensive keystone combo. Throughout Beckert's career, he was overshadowed by two of the greatest second basemen in baseball history. When he first came up, Bill Mazeroski was regularly leading the league in most defensive categories; after Maz faded, Joe Morgan grabbed the second-base spotlight. Beckert was second in the NL in assists from 1966 to 1969, and in 1971 he won a Gold Glove. He received his nickname, Bruno (after the wrestler Bruno Sammartino), from teammate Paul Popovich in the minor leagues, because Beckert frequently knocked down other infielders in pursuit of pop-ups.

 

Although he hit only .239 as a rookie, Beckert quickly improved and went on to hit .280 or better the next six seasons, peaking at .342 in 1971. On June 3, 1971, he drove in Ken Holtzman with the only run of the game in Holtzman's no-hitter against the Reds.

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Dale Berra

 

Position: SS Born: Dec 13, 1956 Bats: Right Throws: Right

 

Yogi Berra's son was a highly-touted prospect from the time of his first-round selection by Pittsburgh in the 1975 draft. At first a utility infielder, Dale finally became a regular at shortstop in 1982. A productive bat (.263, 10 HR, 61 RBI) could not compensate for poor defense. Traded to the Yankees after drug problems, he played just 16 games with his father as manager before Yogi was fired. Dale was a spare part the rest of his career. He established a major league record in 1983 by reaching base seven times on catcher's interference. Dale and Yogi held the record for father-son home runs (407) until Bobby and Barry Bonds broke it in 1989.

 

 

Dale Berra.jpg

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Josh Gibson

 

In black baseball, only Satchel Paige was a better known personality than Josh Gibson. A natural hitter, the right-handed slugger hit for both distance and average, and was the standard against whom other hitters were measured.

 

Gibson, was aptly titled "the black Babe Ruth" and his indomitable presence in the batter's box personified power and electrified a crowd. The slugger's rolled up left sleeve revealed the latent strength in his massive arm muscles, and his eyes riveted the pitcher from beneath a turned-up cap bill as he awaited the pitch with a casual confidence.

 

Gibson is credited with 962 home runs in his 17 year career, although many of these were against nonleague teams. Many of the individual season marks that are accredited to him are also against all levels of opposition, including 75 home runs in 1931, 69 in 1934, and 84 in 1936 in 170 games. He also hit for average compiling a .354 lifetime batting average in the Negro Leagues, a .373 average for 2 seasons in Mexico, a .353 average for 2 winter seasons in Cuba, a .412 average in exhibition games against major-leaguers, and a .479 average while earning the MVP award in the Puerto Rican winter league.

 

Always affable and easygoing, Gibson was well liked and respected by his peers. His popularity extended to the fans, and was voted to start in 9 East-West All-Star games, in which he compiled a sensational .483 batting average.

 

With the Pittsburgh Crawfords in 1932, Gibson combined 34 home runs with a .380 batting average in his first season with the club. Thereafter, he recorded batting averages of .464, .384, .440, and .457, and he slugged 69 hoe runs in 1934. Although their exsistence as a team was brief, the Pittsburgh Crawfords are considered the greatest team in the history of the black baseball.

 

The exceptional success achieved by every team on which Josh played stands as further tribute to his extraordinary talent. While Gibson was enjoying continued success on the playing field, off the diamond, a dark side of his personal life had begun to manifest itself. Earlier in his career, he had avoided a lifestyle that would lead to dissipation. But by the end of the 1942 season, a decline in his physical and psychological well-being was in evidence, and in January 1943 he was committed to the hospital after having suffered a nervous-breakdown. For the remainder of his life he was plagued with personal problems resulting from excessive drinking and possible substance abuse. In 1943, the source of recurring headaches was diagnosed as a brain tumor. Gibson understood the gravity of that condition, but didn't flinch.

 

"Death ain't nothing," he said. "You can't tell me nothing about death. Death ain't nothing but a fastball on the outside corner."

On a January evening four years later, having sought refuge from the pounding in his head in a darkened movie theater, Gibson was found unconscious in his seat when the lights came on. He was taken to his mother's house, where he passed away early the next morning -- at 35 -- three months before Jackie Robinson kicked down the door to the Majors.

 

In 1972, preceded only by Satchel Paige, Gibson became the second player from the Negro League to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

 

Led League in BA in 1938, 42-43, 45

Led League in HR in 1932, 34, 36, 38-39, 42, 44-46

 

Did you know that Josh Gibson got his start with Homestead of the Negro National League in July of 1930 when he came out of the stands to replace the Grays' injured catcher.

 

 

 

Josh Gibson.jpg

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10107085.jpg

Name: Johnny Podres

Born: September 30, 1932 in Witherbee, NY

Debut: April 17, 1953

Final Game: June 21, 1969

Teams: Brooklyn/LA Dodgers (53-55/57-66), Detroit Tigers (66-67), San Diego Padres (69)

 

Johnny Podres became a Brooklyn legend in 1955 when he pitched the Dodgers to their first-ever World Championship. Only 9-10 during the regular season, he beat the Yankees 8-3 in Game Three and shut them out 2-0 in Game Seven, giving Brooklyn its only title after five consecutive Series losses to their Bronx rivals. Podres also became the first ever World Series MVP after the 55 World Series as well. After spending 1956 in the Navy, Podres was a consistent winner on strong Dodger staffs from 1957 to 1963. He used a good fastball, a curve, and an outstanding changeup. In 1957 he led the NL in both ERA (2.66) and shutouts (6). In 1961 he won a career-high 18 games and led the NL in winning percentage (.783), and on July 2, 1962, he pitched his finest game, retiring the first 20 Phillies before Ted Savage singled, and striking out eight batters in a row.

 

Career Reg. Season Stats: 2,265 IP, 148-116 Record, 3.47 ERA

 

Career World Series Stats: 38 IP, 4-1 Record, 2.11 ERA

 

Note: I chose him because he was the first ever World Series MVP, and also I'm a Dodgers fan =)

Credit goes to Baseball-Almanac.com, BaseballLibrary.com, and Baseball-Reference.com for material.

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