Author Archives: JT
Rookie of the Year in 1949. Four times an All-Star. Cy Young and MVP Award winner in 1956. 149 wins. But Don Newcombe was more than just a good pitcher. He was a good hitter, too.
Often used as a pinch hitter during his career, Newk racked up 15 homers and 108 RBI in his 10-year career. In 1955 alone, he knocked the ball out of the park seven times on his way to a 2.5 oWAR score for the season. His batting average was .271, with 238 hits in 878 at-bats.
The Dodgers foolishly traded Newcombe during the 1958 season to the Redlegs for four players: Steve Bilko, Johnny Klippstein, Art Fowler, and Charlie Rabe. He continued his hitting display during three seasons with the Reds, pounding out 58 hits in 201 at-bats. That’s a .289 average!
The Reds sure could use a bat like Newcombe’s on the bench this year…or any year. He was an underrated player during his career, and while the Dodgers do a good job of recognizing his greatness, he is still overlooked by many fans.
From the Backstreet Boys to Montgomery Gentry, the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame embraces diversity. It is called the Bluegrass State for good reason, but Kentucky residents appreciate more than just banjo music. Influenced by the Nashville scene to the south, many Kentucky musicians go the country route. Past inductees to the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame include Wynonna and Naomi Judd, Dwight Yoakam, Keith Whitely, and John Michael Montgomery.
On April 10, 2015, Eddie Montgomery will join his younger brother as the popular country duo Montgomery Gentry is inducted into the Hall of Fame. Ten days later, the group’s eighth studio album will be released on Blaster Records. I still recall hearing “Hillbilly Shoes” for the first time in 1999. I was the program director for a radio station in southern Kentucky, reviewing new country singles for possible airplay. As soon as I heard Troy Gentry’s baritone voice, I knew this song would be in heavy rotation—not only on our station, but on country stations across the nation. What I could not predict was the immense popularity the duo would enjoy throughout their career as other artists of the time faded into obscurity.
The Backstreet Boys also have eight albums to their name since 1996, and have enjoyed massive success particularly among the female population. Two members of the boy band, Brian Littrell and Kevin Richardson, hail from Lexington, and will be honored as 2015 Kentucky Music Hall of Famers. Littrell and Richardson are more than just bandmates—they are first cousins. Littrell has appeared on all BSB records, as well as the NKTOBSB compilation with New Kids on the Block. Richardson left the group after the 2005 release Never Gone, but returned for 2013’s In a World Like This. The Backstreet Boys have toured extensively since 2013 to promote that release, and are scheduled to perform in Asia less than a week after the Hall of Fame induction.
The other 2015 Kentucky Music Hall of Fame inductees are country singer Doc Hopkins, country music comedian Pete Stamper (“A Chevy-Kaiser-Olds-Mo-Laca-Stud-War-Linco-Baker”), vocal R&B group The Moonglows, manager Clarence Spalding, and singer/songwriter Larry Cordle (“Murder on Music Row”).
The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place April 10, 2015, at the Lexington Center. Tickets to the historic event are still available and include a three-course meal served banquet-style, giving attendees the chance to “dine with the stars.” Reserve your table today by calling 877-356-3263 or 606-256-1000.
For more information about the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum, please visit www.kentuckymusicmuseum.com.
The Edgar Allan Poe Keepsake Journal
Rock Point, 2015
The new Edgar Allan Poe Keepsake Journal comes with ten illustrated quote cards and 128 lined pages, some with quotes on them, to inspire writers. Poe is one of the most famous American authors in history, known for his mysterious tales, short stories of horror, and poetry such as “The Raven.”
The 7.5×9.8-inch journal seems to be designed for aspiring female writers, with a purple color scheme, but the quote cards may have more universal appeal. The quotes within the journal come not only from Poe’s stories and poems, but also from his letters. One such quote from a letter to James Russell Lowell reads, “My life has been whim—impulse—passion—a longing for solitude—a scorn of all things present, in an earnest desire for the future.”
My favorite of the quote cards shows an illustration of Poe, with a raven above his head, and the quote, “I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” These cards are nicely done and would look nice framed or even taped or sticky-tacked to the wall around one’s writing station.
The End Records announces the release of their Free 2015 Sampler in conjunction with ADA, featuring exclusive and previously unreleased tracks by select The End Records’ artists of 2015. This is a special gratis compilation of breakthrough and multi-platinum talent, with special live recordings sure to satisfy the collections of new and die-hard fans alike.
01. HINDER – I Need Another Drink
02. EVERCLEAR – The Man Who Broke His Own Heart [Radio Edit]
03. BETTER THAN EZRA – Gonna Get Better
04. BILLY TALENT – Chasing The Sun
05. HIM – Right Here In My Arms [Live At El Teatro Flores Bs.As.Mmxiv]
06. ALOKE – Old Lady
07. BEN OTTEWELL – Patience And Rosaries
08. CHARM CITY DEVILS – Lying To Yourself
09. ALIEN ANT FARM – Our Time
10. MICHELLE CHAMUEL – Golden
11. JUTTY RANX – Dead Awake
12. BLACK ONASSIS – D5001
All these artists are staying busy in 2015! Please visit The End Records’ website for information on recent and upcoming releases, as well as tour dates and special appearances.
Like what you hear? Explore these artists and many others at The End Records YouTube. Subscribe for music videos, lyric videos, full albums streams, full album playlists, and life performances!
Opening Day is almost upon us, and I have yet to show you the design for the 2015 TWJ baseball card set. TWJ cards are only available digitally, and you can only see them all by visiting TWJ cards on tumblr. We are wrapping up the “pre-season” set, and that design will be retired on April 5 with no new cards created. So if you want to see your all-time favorite baseball player on a card design like this…
…then you need to send me a message via e-mail, or on tumblr, or on Twitter, or leave a comment here.
The new 2015 TWJ set will consist only of current players, with a few very special exceptions.
And here, ladies and gentlemen, is the 2015 TWJ baseball card design, as modeled by speedy Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton…
He will be entering his first professional season outside of the Cincinnati Reds organization in 2015. The question is, will he be with the Dodgers or in the minor leagues? Chris Heisey is only batting .074 this spring—that’s 2 hits in 27 at-bats. One of those hits was a home run, but that really doesn’t do much to help his cause in an already crowded Los Angeles outfield. I was disappointed when the Reds let Heisey walk away; he was a valuable bench player over the past five seasons in Cincinnati. I hope he is able to get out of this slump and succeed with LA…as long as he doesn’t hit the Reds’ pitchers too hard.
Ted Williams and Friends: 1960-2002
by Dick Trust
Arcadia Publishing, 2015
One of the latest offerings from Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of Modern America” series, Dick Trust’s Ted Williams and Friends: 1960-2002 is a superb collection of photographs featuring the “Splendid Splinter” after his playing days. Many photos from Old Timers Days at Fenway Park are featured, showing “the greatest hitter who ever lived” along with former teammates and opponents such as Joe DiMaggio, Warren Spahn, Carl Yastrzemski, Jimmy Piersall, Jackie Jensen, and Bobby Doerr.
Other photos show Williams at his Hall of Fame induction in 1966, at Jimmy Fund activities, and at the 1999 All-Star Game with Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken. Trust ends the book with a reproduction of a personal letter Williams wrote to a young fan in 1943. The Hall of Famer said he didn’t answer many letters, but decided to respond to this fan “because you sounded like you wasn’t one of those meathead wolfs that howl there lungs out when they get to the ballpark.”
Ted Williams and Friends: 1960-2002 contains a fantastic assortment of photographs, and baseball fans will appreciate the historical significance of this volume.
It appeared that Jason Bourgeois, a speedy outfielder who has played with six teams since his 2008 debut, was on track to be the backup for Billy Hamilton in center field when the season starts next month. His recent injury—a left shoulder fracture—will sideline him for 4-6 weeks, however, according to reporter John Fay.
This opens the door for Brennan Boesch, a free agent signing from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Boesch has only played one major league inning in center, and his defense in the other outfield positions in not spectacular, but he is stronger offensively than Bourgeois. He is having a better spring at the plate, hitting .448 with 3 home runs to Bourgeois’ .350 and a solo homer. The defensive liability was likely to give Bourgeois the nod to begin the season in Cincinnati before the injury, but Boesch may have an opportunity to force a tough decision when Bourgeois’ shoulder heals.
Inspired by a conversation with Patrick, here are a few more Will Ferrell “fun cards” I created while watching the seventh season of True Blood early this morning.
- WSC Birth Years: Will Ferrell [White Sox Cards]
- Customs for the Comedian [Mint Condition]
- One More Rub-Off [Wrigley Wax]
- 1972 Topps-style Spahn custom & Final Spahn custom is ’65 make-over [Bob Lemke’s Blog]
- Why Doesn’t Alan Trammell’s Career Get Any Respect? [The Intelligent Fan]
- Former Guns N’ Roses Bandmates Duff McKagan + Izzy Stradlin Record New Song [Loudwire]
- Brad Dourif is Not Just a Doll [Johngy’s Beat]
- Bo Knows Funny [Capewood’s Collections]
TWJ contributor Patrick sent over this Will Ferrell “fun card,” based on the 2015 Topps “Spring Fever” design. He also gave me an idea for another Ferrell card or two, which I plan to work on tonight and post tomorrow afternoon if they turn out satisfactory.
More than Beards, Bellies and Biceps: The Story of the 1993 Phillies (And the Phillie Phanatic Too) by Bob Gordon and Tom Burgoyne (2013)
More than Beards, Bellies and Biceps: The Story of the 1993 Phillies
(And the Phillie Phanatic Too)
by Bob Gordon and Tom Burgoyne
Sports Publishing, 2013
[Review by TWJ contributor Jim.]
The 1993 Phillies were one of many good teams to fall short of winning a title but they were truly one of a kind. They didn’t have any superstars, just a bunch of guys who played the game hard, with heart and left it all on the field. In More than Beards, Bellies and Biceps, authors Bob Gordon and Tom Burgoyne take a behind the scenes look at the 1993 Phillies, a team that lost the World Series that year in heartbreaking fashion. Readers also get a unique behind the scenes look at the Phillie Phanatic, the most popular mascot in the game.
The Phanatic has been pulling pranks and making fans laugh—or making them angry—since April 25, 1978, and you get to hear all about what went into making the Phanatic successful from the men who brought life to the green suit. As you read through the stories of the 1993 Phillies, stories about the Phanatic keep popping up when you least expect it, just like real life! The players had just as much fun as the Phanatic, from John Kruk, Darren Daulton and Curt Schilling to Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams, you will learn about the players’ approach to the game and that season and how it led to their success. Even if you are not a Phillies fan, More than Beards, Bellies and Biceps is a great read—not just for baseball fans, but for anyone who likes to laugh and can relate to people who have been written off by others but are able to rise to success.
How to you follow up a second-place finish in Cy Young Award voting? Hopefully with a Cy Young Award. The undisputed ace of the Reds’ pitching staff, Johnny Cueto has already had two top-five finishes in Cy Young voting. He is one of five Reds pitchers to finish second (Tom Seaver, Mario Soto, Danny Jackson and Pete Schourek were the others). No Cincinnati pitcher has ever won the award. Will 2015 be Johnny’s year?
I have begun archiving all of my “fun cards” on a new tumblr page: twjfuncards.tumblr.com. The image hosting site I used to use is very finicky, and several of my older “fun cards” are long gone. But I have gone back through the pages here and re-posted everything that is still alive to the new tumblr, and will continue to do so in the future. Plus, it’s kind of like flipping through a baseball card binder at a card show…no words, just the cards. Check it out when you have some time to kill.
The D-Train signed a minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers in January, and was working out with the club in spring training. Last week, Dontrelle Willis announced that he was retiring, officially ending his latest comeback attempt. Originally drafted by the Cubs in 2000, Willis was traded in 2002 along with three other players to the Marlins for Antonio Alfonseca and Matt Clement. At the major league level, Willis played for the Marlins (2003-2007), Tigers (2008-2010), Diamondbacks (2010), and Reds (2011). He also signed on with Giants, Phillies, Orioles, Cubs (again), Angels, Giants (again), and Brewers, but never reached the top level with those organizations.
His primary position, according to baseball-reference.com, is pinch hitter. Donald Lutz has appeared in 62 games at the major league level, but has appeared defensively in only 30: 24 times in the outfield and six times at first base. He also appeared as a designated hitter once. In 109 at-bats, Lutz has a .211 batting average with one home run and nine RBI. So far this spring, he is hitting .286 with a homer and three RBI.
(February 29, 1924 – March 13, 2015)
1953 MVP and 4-time All-Star Al Rosen passed away last night. He was inducted into the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame in 2006.
Arguably the most exciting player to watch on the basepaths in the majors, Billy Hamilton is the Young Superstar in center field for the Cincinnati Reds. The early favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award in 2014, Hamilton faded after the All-Star break and Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom overtook him, but the speedster stole the hearts of a lot of fans in the Queen City.
The glossy “Young Superstars” set from Score, if I recall correctly, was offered to baseball card collectors through the mail. I decided to create a front and back for this card so I could show off that sweet All-Star Game patch on Hamilton’s sleeve on the back. The midsummer classic is coming to Cincinnati for the first time since 1988.
I doubt I will go because of finances, but you better believe I’ll be entering nearly every contest hosted by local businesses for tickets. I’d love to see the game, but would settle for at least the Home Run Derby. I attended the Home Run Derby in 1988, but it was rained out. If I still had the ticket stub, I would try to exchange it for this year’s event.
A picture is worth one thousand words, so here are ten thousand nineteen (including these words, but not the title)…