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Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Joe Torre

Torre

Joe Torre spent fifteen years on the BBWAA ballot as a player, but only received more than 20% of the vote once in that entire time. His time as the Yankees manager, however, made him a no-brainer selection for the Hall of Fame. Under Torre’s leadership, the Yankees won four World Series in five years, and two additional AL Pennants.

R.I.P. Frank Torre

(December 30, 1931 – September 13, 2014)

Frank Torre

Former first baseman for the Milwaukee Braves and Philadelphia Phillies, and older brother of Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre, Frank Torre passed away today.

Fun Cards Submissions: First pitches (part 2)

Here’s a few more first pitch “fun cards” from TWJ contributor Patrick…

Geddy Lee first pitch

I love how he decided to use an O-Pee-Chee card for Canadian rock legend Geddy Lee.

There are a couple more after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry

The Ceremonial First Pitch

One of the neatest things baseball teams do is the “ceremonial first pitch,” often honoring past stars or community leaders. One of the highest honors someone can receive is to be asked to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day. Here is a run-down of some of yesterday’s ceremonial first pitch honorees:

Piniella
Lou Piniella took the mound before the Yankees-Red Sox game.

Rusty
Rusty Staub tossed the ball before the Mets opener.

Torre
Former big leaguer Joe Torre was asked to throw the first pitch before the Reds-Angels game. This one doesn’t make any sense to me since Torre has no connection to either organization.

Webb
Brandon Webb was honored by the Diamondbacks.


Bo knows first pitches…Bo Jackson did not wear a jersey when he threw out the first pitch before the White Sox-Royals game in Chicago.

Romesha
Medal of Honor recipient Army Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha was the Nationals’ choice to throw the first pitch in Washington.

Larry
Future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones returned to the field in Atlanta.

Koufax
My favorite, though, was Sandy Koufax for the Dodgers with Orel Hershiser catching. Watch the video below and prepare to smile.

Who is the greatest catcher of all-time?

Bench 2002 Topps

A few weeks ago, I set out on a mission to discover who was the greatest player at each position on the baseball diamond. I decided on a mixture of traditional statistics and modern metrics, threw in a few decimal points here and there, and came up with a system of ranking players. I decided not to include the “steroid” guys, so don’t expect Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, or Ivan Rodriguez to pop up on any of these lists. Over the next several days, I’ll be revealing some of those results, starting today with the backstop.

Berra 1973 Topps

The number one guy on this list was really no surprise to me. Who in the world would doubt that Johnny Bench was the greatest to ever wear the tools of ignorance? His final score was 262.36, taking into account not only his offensive production, but his defensive contributions, awards, and midsummer appearances. Yogi Berra (255.05), Carlton Fisk (233.45), Gary Carter (229.3) and Mike Piazza (223.86) round out the top five in that order (if awards and All-Star seasons are included in the calculations…more on that later), but the big surprise is in the bottom half of the top ten.

Piazza and Gibson

Only three more Hall of Famers appear in the number 6-10 slots: Gabby Hartnett (#7, 204.08), Bill Dickey (#9, 202.25), and Roy Campanella (#10, 189.55). The sixth greatest catcher of all-time is the current Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations, Joe Torre. Granted, he was not a career catcher, retiring the gear after the 1970 season and moving to first and third base. Regardless, Torre’s offensive output was impressive, scoring 206.33 in this project.

Simmons 1986 Topps

The eighth greatest catcher of all-time took over catching duties for Torre when he moved to the infield. Ted Simmons hit 248 home runs and drove in 1389 runs over a 21-year career while keeping a .285 average, all pretty impressive numbers for a guy who crouches for a living. How was Simmons rewarded for his work behind the plate? One year on the Hall of Fame ballot, only 17 votes for 3.7%, the year Steve Carlton was ushered in with 95.6%. Is Simmons the most overlooked full-time catcher in history?

Fisk 1988 Fleer

Back to the inclusion of awards and All-Star appearances. About halfway through the project, I decided I was being a bit unfair to old-timers who never had a chance to win an MVP or be invited to the All-Star game. So I made another column that omitted those calculations, and what happened surprised me. Bench still comes out on top, but Berra got knocked down a few notches. In fact, only one player was replaced in the top ten list. Without awards, the top ten is Bench, Fisk, Carter, Berra, Piazza, Simmons, Dickey, Torre, Hartnett, and Lance Parrish. Campanella actually dropped six spots on the list without his three MVP awards and eight All-Star seasons.

So perhaps Parrish is the most underrated backstop in history? I would never personally support Parrish as a Hall of Famer, but the numbers are there to give his supporters some room to argue. In the case of Simmons, however, I believe the Hall of Fame voters should be charged with a passed ball.

And the non-Cooperstown home of the Braves…

The Braves are the oldest team we have discussed thus far as a part of the NON-HOF project on Baseball Fever. It has also been one of the most difficult to get my head around, because I had to compare much older players which didn’t play the same game to guys of the modern age. You can see the discussion about the Braves by clicking here.

My picks:
C: Deacon White
1B: Joe Adcock
2B: Ross Barnes
SS: Johnny Logan
3B: Bob Elliott
LF: Ron Gant
CF: Wally Berger
RF: Dale Murphy
sub1: Bob Horner
sub2: Tommy Holmes
LHP: Steve Avery
SP: Lew Burdette
SP: Johnny Sain
#4 SP or RP: Jack Stivetts
sub3: Ginger Beaumont

The top picks of the BBF think tank:
C: Joe Torre/Deacon White
1B: Joe Adcock
2B: Ross Barnes
SS: Herman Long
3B: Bob Elliott
LF: Rico Carty
CF: Wally Berger
RF: Dale Murphy
Sub 1 and 2: Darrell Evans, Tommy Holmes
P: Steve Avery (LHP)
P: Tommy Bond
P: Jack Stivetts
P: Charlie Buffinton
P: Johnny Sain

While there were no unanimous selections, Barnes and Long missed by only one. Murphy is the guy that I think is the most glaring omission from Cooperstown, but he won’t get there by the BBWAA. It will be up to the Veterans Committee to right that wrong in a decade or so.

Thanks, Joe Torre!

This blog has experienced a surge in visits over the past couple of days thanks to Torre’s retirement announcement. Everyone is searching for Don Mattingly Dodgers and winds up here.

No relation to this at all, I discovered this song recently and really like it. Listen to it. NOW.

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