Blog Archives

Dick Perez should be inducted into the Hall of Fame

Paige

I have been a fan of Dick Perez as long as I have collected baseball cards. Some of my favorite baseball cards feature his artwork, especially the Donruss Diamond Kings from 1982-1990. When I saw this set sitting on the table at the antique mall, I knew I had to add it to my collection, even though there are no Reds in it at all.

Hammerin Hank

“Hall of Fame Heroes” was released by Donruss in 1983, 44 cards in all. Two Mickey Mantle cards, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Stan Musial, Ted Williams…some of the biggest names in baseball history. My favorites, though, feature Negro League stars. Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson are two of the most popular players that never got the Major League spotlight for their talents in their prime. Paige did pitch in the bigs, but his legendary status was cemented before integration.

Gibson

Josh Gibson never played in the majors (though the Pirates were rumored to have signed him in 1943). He died in January 1947 after suffering a stroke, and never saw Jackie Robinson break the color line.

Dick Perez’s Diamond Kings and Hall of Fame Heroes will always be my favorite baseball cards featuring artwork.

Henry Aaron’s Dream by Matt Tavares (2010)

Henry Aarons Dream book review

Henry Aaron’s Dream
by Matt Tavares
Candlewick Press, 2010
40 pages

When Hank Aaron was young, there were no black men playing baseball in the major leagues. Jackie Robinson‘s debut in 1947 paved the way for players like Aaron to show the world their talents. Author Matt Tavares writes about a time in Aaron’s life many ignore: his early years in Mobile, Alabama, and his brief time in the Negro Leagues with the Mobile Black Bears and Indianapolis Clowns. There are also several pages devoted to Aaron’s life in the minor leagues, both on and off the field, and finally his ascent to the majors in 1954. Though he was not the first black baseball player, Aaron still faced a great deal of racism as he played the game he loved.

Much like There Goes Ted Williams, the best part of Henry Aaron’s Dream is the artwork. Written for third through seventh graders, Tavares’ artwork makes the story come alive for youngsters who are being taught about the legends of baseball as well as important social issues. There is nothing new here for long-time fans of the great home run hitter, but the beautiful illustrations easily make it worth the purchase price.

Learn more about Matt Tavares.

Learn more about Candlewick Press.

Purchase Henry Aaron’s Dream by Matt Tavares.

Who is the greatest right fielder of all-time?

Hammerin Hank

The only real surprise in right field may be the order of the rankings, as nine of the top ten right fielders are already enshrined in Cooperstown. Two players topped the 300-point mark, with Hank Aaron (362.05) beating out Babe Ruth (331.13) for the #1 spot. Even when removing the awards and All-Star appearances, Aaron still edges out Ruth for the top spot, though only by a mere .42 points.

Triple Crown Frank

I feel that Frank Robinson (#3, 289.8) is one of the most under-appreciated ballplayers in history, and his spot on this list supports at least the notion that he was a great right fielder. The man won two MVP awards and was a Triple Crown hitter, but is almost never mentioned among the all-time greats.

Reggie

Continuing down the list: Mel Ott (#4, 268.80), Al Kaline (#5, 265.82), Roberto Clemente (#6, 264.23), Andre Dawson (#7, 247.13), Reggie Jackson (#8, 244.48), and Dave Winfield (#9, 234.04). That’s right, all you Hawk haters, Dawson beats Mr. October. Granted, it’s because of Reggie’s less-than-stellar fielding; if offense were the only thing considered here Jackson would win the head-to-head battle.

Vladdy

The last name on the top ten list is not yet eligible for the Hall of Fame: the recently retired Vladimir Guerrero (#10, 233.95). While there is little doubt Guerrero will eventually have a plaque hanging in the Hall, he may not make it his first time on the ballot considering recent elections. If Craig Biggio, a 3000-hit club member, can’t make it his first try, how can you elect a player who didn’t hit any magic numbers on his first ballot appearance? Only time will tell.

Bushville Wins! by John Klima

Bushville Wins book review

Bushville Wins!
by John Klima
Thomas Dunne Books, 2012
336 pages

The Boston Braves were a struggling franchise. No one wanted to go to their games—which they couldn’t win anyway—and financial problems beset the team. Owner Lou Perini made the bold decision to move the team out of Boston where the Red Sox reigned, and head west to Milwaukee. Mocked by “those in the know” who thought the city was too small to support a franchise, Perini established the Braves as a force to be reckoned with in Milwaukee, drawing upon the city’s insatiable appetite for big league ball. In a matter of years, the Milwaukee Braves would defeat the New York Yankees in a seven-game World Series to become baseball’s champions.

Author John Klima brings to life the story of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves team in Bushville Wins! Beginning with Perini’s initial decision in the early part of the decade to relocate and the assembling of the players, leading up to the story of the season itself and the Series that saw the “Bushers” outplay the perennial favorite Yankees, Klima highlights the players and personalities that made it all possible, from Hank Aaron to Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn to Lew Burdette. After laying the groundwork, Klima devotes the final one hundred pages of the book to the World Series itself. It is, as the cover suggests, the “wild saga” of a team that no one expected to win, and a team that laid the groundwork for baseball’s expansion to the west. Fans of baseball history, especially of the Milwaukee Braves, will treasure this volume.

Learn more about Thomas Dunne Books.

Purchase Bushville Wins! by John Klima.

Retired Numbers: #43 & #44

Another group of solid Hall of Famers, all first ballot selections for immortality.


Willie McCovey, San Francisco Giants

McCovey was “the other Willie,” overshadowed by the legendary Willie Mays. However, McCovey accomplished plenty on his own. Rookie of the Year in 1959, MVP in 1969, three other top 10 finishes, 500+ homers and 1500+ RBI. This same photo was used on the Cards That Never Were blog for a custom ’81 Donruss card.


Dennis Eckersley, Oakland A’s


Hank Aaron, Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves


Hank Aaron, Milwaukee Brewers


Reggie Jackson, New York Yankees

How magical are “magic numbers”? (part 2)

In June, I examinded 300 wins and 3000 strikeouts. I intended to jump right into 500 home runs and 3000 hits after that, within a week maybe, but wouldn’t you know…I never did. So let’s knock that out and put this question to rest.

Twenty-five guys have hit 500 or more career home runs…a lot more than I thought.

1. Barry Bonds (762)
2. Hank Aaron (755)
3. Babe Ruth (714)
4. Willie Mays (660)
5. Ken Griffey (630)
6. Alex Rodriguez (626)
7. Sammy Sosa (609)
8. Jim Thome (596)
9. Frank Robinson (586)
10. Mark McGwire (583)
11. Harmon Killebrew (573)
12. Rafael Palmeiro (569)
13. Reggie Jackson (563)
14. Manny Ramirez (555)
15. Mike Schmidt (548)
16. Mickey Mantle (536)
17. Jimmie Foxx (534)
18. Willie McCovey (521)
Frank Thomas (521)
Ted Williams (521)
21. Ernie Banks (512)
Eddie Mathews (512)
23. Mel Ott (511)
24. Gary Sheffield (509)
25. Eddie Murray (504)

Of those, eight are not yet eligible for the Hall of Fame. Eleven were first-year inductees. That leaves us with six names to look at: Killebrew, Foxx, Mathews, Ott, McGwire, and Palmeiro. The problem with McGwire and Palmeiro is steroids, no doubt. Both would be ushered into Cooperstown on the red carpet had they come by their numbers clean. The way they have been handled by the voters will make future elections very interesting, with Bonds, A-Rod, Sosa and Sheffield on the horizon.

But what about the four old-timers, who never stuck a needle in their buttocks?

Foxx and Ott were on the ballot under a different set of rules than what are currently in place. Voters were not required to wait for a player to be retired five years, or to even wait until they were finished playing. Both Foxx and Ott received good support running up to their eventual induction, and would have been first-ballot inductees had the five-year waiting period been in effect.

Then you have Killebrew and Mathews. Mathews waited five years for the call, receiving only 32.3% of the vote in his first year on the ballot. He eventually climbed the list and was enshrined in 1978. Killebrew was on the ballot four years before getting his plaque. What makes this so crazy is that Killer led the league in home runs six times, and was at the time in the top 5 on the all-time list (he now sits at 11).

While it is somewhat insane that Mathews and Killebrew did not get first-ballot treatment, there are no pre-steroid players with 500 home runs outside the Hall of Fame.

Now on to 3000 hits…

1. Pete Rose (4256)
2. Ty Cobb (4189)
3. Hank Aaron (3771)
4. Stan Musial (3630)
5. Tris Speaker (3514)
6. Cap Anson (3435)
7. Honus Wagner (3420)
8. Carl Yastrzemski (3419)
9. Paul Molitor (3319)
10. Eddie Collins (3315)
11. Willie Mays (3283)
12. Eddie Murray (3255)
13. Nap Lajoie (3242)
14. Cal Ripken (3184)
15. George Brett (3154)
16. Paul Waner (3152)
17. Robin Yount (3142)
18. Tony Gwynn (3141)
19. Dave Winfield (3110)
20. Craig Biggio (3060)
21. Rickey Henderson (3055)
22. Rod Carew (3053)
23. Lou Brock (3023)
24. Derek Jeter (3020)
Rafael Palmeiro (3020)
26. Wade Boggs (3010)
27. Al Kaline (3007)
28. Roberto Clemente (3000)

Four of these guys (Speaker, Anson, Collins, Lajoie) were elected within the first few years of the Hall’s opening, and since there was such a backlog at the time, we’ll overlook the indiscretion of making them wait. The only two eligible on the outside are Charlie Hustle (who didn’t know when to fold ’em) and Raffy (Mr. Positive). Biggio should make it in next year, and Jeter in his first year of eligibility (whenever that may be).

That leaves only Paul Waner, who was on the ballot for seven years before being inducted. However, similar to Ott and Foxx, Waner had just retired when he began receiving votes. He climbed from 42.1% in 1948 to 83.3% in 1951, only seven years after announcing his departure from the playing field.

So back to the original question, how magical are the milestones of 500 home runs and 3000 hits? The only eligible players not inducted are gamblers and ‘roiders, and 3000 hits seems to be a first-ballot ticket so long as there is no controversy.

What time is it?

Time to reinstate the Hit King and put him in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

That’s what the Home Run King says. Hank Aaron says, “I think (Pete Rose) should join us. I think he paid the price for his mistake, and it’s time for baseball to open the door and bring him in.”

We go through this often, especially in Cincinnati. The support here is overwhelmingly in Rose’s favor, and I’m in his corner as far as the Hall of Fame is concerned. But now, I’m going to put the question to you…

Records are made to be broken

Yeah, I know it’s supposed to be “rules” and not “records,” but I’m not Bill Clinton. I believe in rules. Records, on the other hand, I love to see broken–as long as it is done legitimately. Roger Maris is still the single-season home run king, and Hank Aaron still tops the all-time list in my mind. Will these and other timeless records ever be broken for real?

The Career Home Run Record. Assume Alex Rodriguez keeps up his current pace of 44 home runs per season. Heck, let’s round it down to 40 just for fun. How long would it take him to surpass Aaron’s 755? About six seasons, that’s how long. He’s been around for fourteen years, but he started out pretty young (18!), so six more years isn’t out of the question. That would put him at 37 years young; Hank was 40 when he toppled Ruth’s 714. If you are among those who thinks Bonds’ mark should stick, then A-Rod would need to stick around just another year to pass him (assuming Bonds is done). What about the all-time professional mark of 868? You know, the one held by Sadaharu Oh of Japan. If A-Rod wants that record, he’ll have to stay healthy and consistent with 40+ homers for another 8.75 years.

The Career Hits Record. Pete Rose stands head and shoulders above everyone else in the field at 4256. No one else even comes close. But 33-year old Derek Jeter can try. Currently at 2356, Jeter would need an average of 200 hits over the next 9.5 years to pass Rose. Ichiro, who is just a tad older than Jeter, could pass Rose in just over 11.5 years if he continues his average of 230+ hits per season.

The Career RBI Record. Hank tops this list right now with 2297 knocked in, but A-Rod is again within striking distance considering his age. If he averages 125 RBI (just under his average) over the next 6.4 seasons, he’ll pass Aaron. Manny Ramirez could get there a little quicker though, if he keeps up his 130+ RBI average. It would take the Man Ram just over 5.3 years to pass the Hammer.

The Career Stolen Base Record. Rickey Henderson doesn’t have anything to worry about. Juan Pierre is the closest thing to a challenger, and he’s over 1000 behind Rickey. At an average of 50 steals per season, Juan would have to play until he turns 50 to catch Rickey.

In addition to the stolen bases record, there are a number of pitching records which will not be challenged for a long time, including strikeouts (Nolan Ryan has over 5700) and wins (Cy Young has over 500). Maybe someday there will be a real Sidd Finch to shatter all those records, but I doubt it happens in my lifetime.

1971 All-Star Game, part 2

He said he would do it, and he did! YouTube user as888990 posted a couple more clips from the 1971 All-Star game!

The first clip is the top of the third inning, Vida Blue on the mound for the AL facing his pitching opponent Dock Ellis at the plate. Willie Mays was next up, and then Hammerin’ Hank Aaron. The announcer states during Aaron’s at-bat, “The All-Star game has not been Henry Aaron’s bag…Tonight he wants his first All-Star extra base hit.” Well, he got it with an upper-deck home run. At the time, Hank was 98 dingers behind Babe Ruth on the all-time list, and he was suffering from knee problems. He stuck around long enough to break the record a few years later, and even bettered it by 41. It will be a big deal when that record is legitimately broken.

The second clip starts with Rod Carew’s plate appearance against Dock Ellis in the bottom of the third inning, and continues with Bobby Murcer (third baseman Joe Torre caught his pop-up on the first base side of the mound), Carl Yastrzemski, and Frank Robinson of the Orioles. At the time, Robbie was 12th on the all-time home runs list according to a graphic flashed on the screen during the game. He finished his career fourth on the list, but has dropped to seventh after Bonds, Sosa, and Griffey passed him.

For those who are interested, there are “cameos” in these clips of Jim Palmer, Willie McCovey, and Bud Harrelson. If you want to see the box score and play-by-play of the game, click here. Thanks for posting these, as888990!

%d bloggers like this: