Tag: baseball

RIP, Brooks Robinson


Hall of Fame third basemen Brooks Robinson has died at age 86. No cause of death has been provided.

Brooks Calbert Robinson Jr. was born on May 18, 1937, in Little Rock, AR, to parents Brooks and Ethel. His father worked as a baker and a fireman while his mother worked for the local Sears. He played football, basketball, and baseball in high school, although baseball was always his favorite and best sport.

Robinson signed a contract with the Baltimore Orioles shortly after graduating high school in 1955 and began his professional career in the Class B Piedmont League with the York PA team. The 18-year-old was called up to the big club at the end of the season playing in six games but hitting only .091 (2-22). He bounced between the minor leagues and the Orioles for the next couple of years before getting the starting 3B job for the Orioles in 1958, hitting .238 with just 3 HR in 145 games while playing a solid third base.

RIP, Gaylord Perry


Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry passed away on December 1, 2022, at the age of 84.

Gaylord Jackson Perry was born on September 15, 1938, to Evan and Rubi Perry in Williamston, North Carolina. Perry had two siblings a younger sister Carolyn and an older brother Jim. The family farmed a small plot and their father, who pitched semi-pro baseball, passed along his sports knowledge to his athletic sons. Both sons took the same general path with Gaylord following Jim by two or three years – starring in basketball and baseball in high school (both brothers turned down college basketball scholarship offers), both attended a local college for a year or so pitching for the baseball team before signing professional baseball contracts as pitchers and making their way to the majors within several years.

Gaylord signed a professional contract with the San Francisco Giants in June 1958. He started out in the low minors and worked his way up the minor league ladder to the parent club in 1962. He bounced up and down between the majors and Triple A for a couple of years before sticking for good in 1964. Coincidently or not, 1964 was also when he learned how to throw a spitter from journeyman pitcher Bob Shaw. More about that a bit later.

Naddafingah! Bakerses


A pitcher, cruising along through six innings in game four of the World Series, with a no-hit shutout going, was taken out of the game without even the chance for the complete game shutout no-no. Without at least waiting until the first hit was given up. What kind of soulless anti-baseball monster would do such a thing? Oh. Dusty Baker. Naddafingah! Bakerses!

Here’s the kicker: now I have to hear all the raving about the “combined” no-hitter as if that’s a thing now. A no-hitter is a term applied to a pitcher. Singular. Also, it’s only applied to a complete game, otherwise the proper terminology is to refer to the number of no-hit innings that a pitcher threw. Words have meaning, Basesball.

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Normally I take baseball season off from Ricochet.  I just don’t have the free time to do both in a constructive manner.  This year I had resolved to keep both feet in each bucket but my favorite team made this season so enjoyable that the resolution went down the drain.  For those that may remember, […]

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Karma Is Relentless


First, I know very little about professional sports. The only sports I ever paid attention to were the ones in which I had a child participating….Little League baseball, little kid soccer, etc. I only know all the rules for high school football because I attended every home game of my children’s schools because I was a Band Mom for 12 years. You know…marching band? Halftime shows? I’ve never watched sports on television because I’m just not interested in the pros.

However, tonight when I was driving home I heard on my truck radio that the Atlanta Braves had beaten the Houston Astros in game three of the World Series so the next game would be played in Atlanta on Saturday night.

Calling Out Baseball Academies


On June 12, a George Mason pitcher named Sang Ho Baek died from complications from Tommy John surgery. He was 20 years old.

Now I have a question. What was a 20-year-old kid doing on the operating table for that kind of surgery in the first place? Either his arm was damaged at that age, which I am going to get into in a moment, or was it an elective surgery?

Elective Tommy John surgeries do happen quite a bit. In 2018, a study showed that athletes aged 15-19 accounted for 57 percent of Tommy John surgeries. It’s been attributed to an increased emphasis in kids specializing in a single sport.

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As I write this, I am watching “Petty Blue”, a documentary narrated by Kevin Costner. I’m currently on the part where he was in his last race, and after a wreck, the team, and Richard himself, willed that car to race the final lap for the farewell to the fans. It was the perfect goodbye. […]

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Did you know Dr. J was an Atlanta Hawk for two preseason games? It’s true. Long story short, the Milwaukee Bucks picked him in the 1972 draft after one year in the ABA, which would have put him with Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar(So much for there not being super-teams back then). He ended up […]

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I really shouldn’t be writing this. I shouldn’t be writing this because it’s 2021. Last Chance U exists, Outside The Lines, or OTL, has been doing investigative journalism on ESPN since 1990. This isn’t the old days of Mike Royko lifting the veil off of corruption in Chicago, and making fun of his beloved Cubs […]

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Baseball and Bootleggers in the Roaring Twenties


It is 1927. Prohibition is on and the stock market crash is in the future. Joe Rath is a catcher for the National League Baltimore Beacons.

“Pickoff,” a novel by GP Hutchinson, opens with Joe heading off for the ballpark to join the team for a road trip to Chicago.

Joe is a family man, with a young son and a wife he dearly loves. His wife, Mena loves Joe, but is less thrilled with his peripatetic career. She believes being married means being with your family, not haring off on long road trips. She wants him to quit.

Happy Birthday Wishes for the ‘Say Hey Kid’


Willie Mays cropped.jpgWillie Mays celebrated his 90th birthday. One of the legendary baseball players is still with us. Willie Howard Mays, born on May 6, 1931, is one of the greatest players in baseball history.

His 22-year career, with the exception of one year with the Mets, was spent with the New York/San Francisco Giants.

Mays finished his career batting .302 with 660 home runs, the sixth-most of all time, and 1,903 RBI. He holds MLB records for most putouts (7,095) and most extra-inning home runs (22). He also had 338 stolen bases.

Et Tu, Major League Baseball?


Good Friday traditionally is honored by Christians as part of their Easter weekend religious practices to honor the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is where our focus should rest, especially for devout people of faith, Catholic and Protestant.

Sadly, Major League Baseball (MLB) chose to use the afternoon to pay homage to perhaps our newest and fastest-growing religion – woke progressive politics. To wit: under pressure from so-called “Civil Rights” groups and activists, they chose to relocate the 2021 All-Star game and draft scheduled for Atlanta, Georgia to another city, to be named later. My money is our national capital of wokeness, San Francisco.

7 Inspiring Baseball Players Who Overcame Adversity


Mordecai Brown, Chicago Cubs

It’s tough to make it to the major leagues and it’s even tougher to stay there. It takes a not-insignificant amount of natural physical ability, a lot of hard work, and plenty of self-confidence to get there and stay there. It’s a battle that plays out every day through competition from the amateur level through the minor leagues and at the major league level. It’s even tougher for some who have an additional opponent they have to conquer along the way. That’s the purpose of this post – to briefly tell the stories of a few of those who had an additional obstacle on their way to the majors. I think I’ll proceed in chronological order.

Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown

RIP, Hank Aaron


Hank Aaron in the batting cage spring training 1960

Baseball great Hank Aaron passed away today, January 22, 2021, at age 86. No cause of death has been provided.

Henry Louis Aaron was born on February 5, 1934, in Mobile, Alabama to Herbert and Estella Aaron. He was one of eight children which included a younger brother, Tommie, who would also play in the major leagues. The family was quite poor and so the young Henry had to work at odd jobs including picking cotton to help ends meet. He loved sports and learned baseball in sandlot games in which bottle caps or rocks usually substituted for balls and sticks or broom handles substituted for bats. He hit cross-handed from the start and he would keep hitting cross-handed until he began his professional career. Perhaps this is how he developed such quick and strong wrists which was much remarked upon from the beginning of his career. He did play baseball and football in high school, but like the young Willie Mays, he also began playing semi-pro baseball around the age of 14 thus adding another small sum to the family income.

RIP, Joe Morgan


This year has been a terrible year in many ways for just about everybody. It’s been no exception for baseball fans. This year had so far seen the loss of five Hall of Famers; Al Kaline, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, and Whitey Ford. This Sunday, a sixth has been added to that list, Joe Morgan. Morgan passed away at his California home on Sunday at the age of 77 due to non-specified polyneuropathy.

Joe Leonard Morgan was born on September 19, 1943, in Bonham, TX, the youngest of six children. He moved to Oakland, CA with his family at five when his father found work with the Pacific Tire & Rubber Company. As a boy, Joe played baseball, basketball and ran track. His best sport was baseball, but he was not considered a major league prospect in high school because of his lack of size (he is listed at 5′-7″, 160 lbs during his playing career) and he was, at best, the second-best player on his team behind Rudy May who was highly sought after in high school and would have a fine major league career as a pitcher. He played baseball at a local junior college where he did attract the attention of the scouts and he signed a contract with the Houston Astros for all of $500 per month plus a $3,000 signing bonus. He worked his way through the expansion Astros minor league system rapidly, getting cups of coffee in the bigs in 1963 and 64 becoming the Astros starting second baseman in 1965 at age 21.

With the Astros, “Little Joe” quickly blossomed into a fine player. He finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 1965 and made two All-Star teams while in Houston. However, the combination of the dismal performance of the team (they were always in the second division) and playing his home games in an awful hitter’s park (The Astrodome) helped to hide his light behind a bushel. A blockbuster trade between the Cincinnati Reds and the Astros in the winter of 1971 would change that. The Astros sent Morgan, Cesar Geronimo, Denis Menke, Jack Billingham, and Ed Armbrister to the Reds in exchange for slugging 1B Lee May, fellow 2B Tommy Helms, and Jimmy Stewart. Morgan was initially upset with the trade. He’d made a home in Houston, and he and his wife were expecting their second child. However, the trade would kick his career into overdrive. Over the next six seasons, he was probably the best player in baseball. And, playing for manager Sparky Anderson and teaming with all-time greats Johnny Bench and Pete Rose in one of the best eight-man lineups in history, the Reds would average 98 wins per season and win back-to-back World Championships in 1975-76.

Winning Ugly


Let’s get superficial here at Ricochet and talk about looks. This is a tw0-part essay.

Coming into the 2020 season, 19,960 people had played at least one game in the major leagues. Among those 19,960 were all sorts, tall guys and short guys, guys as fast as greased lightning and guys slower than molasses, smart cookies and dummies, honest men and crooks, handsome devils, and those who were a little less fortunate in the looks department. Among that latter group was Don Mossi.

Mossi was a pitcher and pretty good one. He pitched 12 years in the majors as both a reliever and a starter and he was good in each role. He pitched in the majors from 1954 to 1965 and posted a career 101-80 won-loss record, a 3.43 ERA and 50 saves in 460 games and 1548 innings pitched. In his best individual season (1959) the left-handed Mossi went 17-9 and he was also a part of the best pitching staff of the 1950s as a rookie– the 1954 Cleveland Indians – the Indians that year won the AL pennant with a 111-43 won-lost record, one of the best regular-season records of all time, powered by a pitching staff which included Hall of Famers Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Early Wynn, and Hal Newhouser. Mossi held his own with a 6-1, 1.94 ERA, 7 save performance.

Jim is back! Join Jim and Greg as they cheer on former Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann as the Washington Post settles the $250 million lawsuit he filed against it. They also cheer on the advancement of a possible coronavirus vaccine with tens of thousands of patients set to be part of a clinical trial. And they cringe as COVID-19 suddenly threatens Major League Baseball.

Willie Mays: An Appreciation


Wednesday was baseball great Willie Mays’ 89th birthday and I thought I’d post a brief appreciation of his career. I’ve been a baseball fan almost all my life, and since I grew up in northern California and started following baseball circa 1960, the Giants were my favorite team and I gravitated quickly to their best player Willie Mays.

Willie Howard Mays was born on May 6, 1931, in Westfield, Alabama. Willie was a precocious athlete. His father was a semi-pro ballplayer, playing for a company team in the local league made up from coal and steel companies in the area. By the time he was a teenager, young Mays was on his father’s team playing against grown men twice his age. And, although he played on his high school football, basketball and baseball teams, he began his professional baseball career in 1947 at age 16 joining the Chattanooga Choo Choos, who were essentially a farm team for the Negro League Birmingham Black Barons, a team he would join within a year. The Black Barons manager, Piper Davis would become a mentor to Willie. He worked with the young ballplayer on his weaknesses as a player and required that he finish high school. Since the Dodgers had broken the color line with Jackie Robinson in 1947, major league scouts from those teams willing to add black ballplayers to their roster began scouring the Negro Leagues for major league talent and it didn’t take them long to stumble across Mays who had helped the Black Barons to the Negro League World Series in 1948 mainly with his great defensive play.

RIP: Al Kaline


Al KalineBaseball great Al Kaline passed away today April 6, 2020 at his Bloomfield Hills home at age 85. No cause of death has been given although it is known that he suffered a heart attack several months ago. Kaline, who was born and raised in Baltimore, MD, was an early “bonus baby” signing with the Detroit Tigers at age 18 for enough money ($35,000) that the rules of the time required that he stay with the major league club. He would stay with the Tigers from that first day forward in 1953 for the next twenty-two years until his retirement following the 1974 season thus being one of the few major league players never to spend even a day in the minors.

Kaline came into his own as a player in 1955 as the 20-year old led the league in hits (200), total bases (321) and in the process became the youngest batting champion (.340) in history. The following season he would drive in a personal best 128 runs and he would continue to play at an all-star level for the better part of the next two decades. Kaline took as much pride in his defense as he did with his hitting and the right fielder would garner 10 gold gloves to go along with 15 All-Star Game selections. He would not win an MVP but he would finish second in the voting twice and be considered one of the ten most valuable players in the league nine times. For his career, he would join the 3,000 hit club with 3,007 hits but would just miss several other round numbers with 399 home runs, 498 doubles, and a career .297 batting average. The newer advanced metrics also attest Kaline’s greatness – his 92.8 WAR ranks 29th all-time among position players, while his 443 Win Shares is 28th all-time among position players. The highlight of his playing career probably came in 1968 as his Tigers beat the St Louis Cardinals for the World Series Championship as he did his part hitting .379 with 8 RBI. Kaline played his entire career with a deformed left foot due to a childhood bout with osteomyelitis which caused him problems off and on during his playing career. Here is a link to his statistics.

Kaline’s playing career was capped with his selection to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1980. After his playing career, “Mr. Tiger” joined the Tigers as an executive and he would remain employed by them until his death. Kaline, who had been a clubhouse leader during his playing career was universally liked and respected throughout the baseball world. He is survived by Madge, his wife of 66 years, and their two grown children.