Blog Archives

Goodbye, Don Baylor

(June 28, 1949 – August 7, 2017)

Baylor

Slugging outfielder and 1979 American League MVP, Don Baylor passed away today from multiple myeloma, a form of cancer of plasma cells. Baylor his 338 home runs in his career, was an All-Star in 1979, and won the World Series with the Minnesota Twins in 1987. He presided over the Boston Red Sox’s kangaroo court, and fined Roger Clemens $5 for giving up a single to Spike Owen on an 0-2 count during his 20-strikeout game in 1986. He was also the Colorado Rockies’ first manager.

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The New York Times Story of the Yankees 1903-Present edited by Dave Anderson (2017)

Yankees

The New York Times Story of the Yankees 1903-Present
edited by Dave Anderson
Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2017

Regardless of your personal opinion of the New York Yankees, there can be no denying the rich history of one of baseball’s most storied franchises. In The New York Times Story of the Yankees 1903-Present, nearly 400 articles are presented for the reader to peruse, covering many of the most famous names in baseball history. Tales of their accomplishments on and off the diamond, battles with health, battles with each other, good times and bad times are all presented to present a baseball yet human narrative.

Major events such as Babe Ruth’s 60-homer season, Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, Don Larsen’s perfect game in the World Series, Billy Martin’s hiring and firing and hiring and firing ad nauseam can be found within these pages. Tributes to the greats like Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Casey Stengel at their passing are present. The reprinted articles span from September 1902 through December 2016, presenting as full a picture as a 542-page book will allow.

The casual baseball fan will recognize many of the stories presented here, and it is certainly interesting to read them in the context of when they happened, rather than decades later. The evolution of newspaper reporting and use of language is also clearly seen. For instance, an article from 1910 reporting Willie Keeler’s retirement called him “the most scientific of batsmen.” Such a turn of phrase may have sounded clever in the early twentieth century, but now seems quaint and antiquated.

The New York Times Story of the Yankees 1903-Present is a highly recommended anthology for fan of baseball’s history, especially the history of the New York Yankees.

Learn more about Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers.

Purchase The New York Times Story of the Yankees 1903-Present edited by Dave Anderson.

Baseball cards from Orlando

packs

I have been sitting on this post for absolutely no reason other than laziness. I bought a handful of fifty-cent packs when I was in Orlando at the beginning of the month, and scanned a handful of them, even uploaded the scans, but just haven’t been motivated to post them. I have nothing else planned for today, so let’s see what I got…

Davis

First up is Eric Davis from the 1987 Fleer Star Stickers set. These cards are very similar to the 1986 set, but with a green border instead of maroon. Either way, the border clashes with the red jersey.

Mattingly

The 1988 Fleer Star Stickers went with a gray border sprinkled with colorful stars. This Don Mattingly is the best card I pulled from that pack.

Davis mini

Franco mini

Back to 1987, and a pair of Reds in a pack: the best centerfielder and the best relief pitcher of the second half of the decade. John Franco is criminally underrated.

Benzinger

Benzinger

Clark

Clark

I bought a couple of packs of 1990 Donruss. Don’t look at me like that. I did not have any Grand Slammers cards, and I wanted a couple. I pulled the Todd Benzinger from one pack, and Will Clark from another. If I had found another pack with Bo Jackson on top, I would have bought that one too.

Big Hurt

I did not know the 1992 Fleer “The Performer” cards came in packs of their own. I assumed they were inserts. In a five-card pack, I pulled Nolan Ryan and Frank Thomas. And probably some ‘roiders, I can’t remember now.

Griffey All-Star

Henke

Art cards will always be my weakness. I’m not sure why I picked up a pack of 1992 Score, but I was happy to pull these bad boys.

Ryan

Henderson

Also from the same 1992 Score pack.

Thome

There it is. I knew there had to be something cool showing on the top of a 1992 Score pack for me to buy it, even at only fifty cents. Jim Thome is the man.

Dennys

Kirby Puckett from 1996 Pinnacle Denny’s. Not sure why I bought this one-card pack. Oh well, at least it’s a Hall of Famer.

Double Headers

Double Header

I have always wanted some Double Headers, but have never seen them in person. Vince Coleman is from 1990, while Wade Boggs and Andre Dawson are from 1989.

Brett

candy

Think this candy is still good from 1991?

buttons

Finally, a couple of 1990 Baseball Buttons. I already have several of these, so I probably shouldn’t have bought them, but it was only fifty cents.

Becoming Babe Ruth written and illustrated by Matt Tavares (2013)

Becoming Babe Ruth

Becoming Babe Ruth
written and illustrated by Matt Tavares
Candlewick Press, 2013
40 pages

The very talented Matt Tavares has written and illustrated several children’s books about baseball players, including Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, and Pedro Martinez. His book about the most famous baseball player of all, Babe Ruth, was originally released in 2013, and is now available in paperback. Becoming Babe Ruth tells of the ballplayer’s roots at Saint Mary’s Industrial School for Boys in Baltimore and his ascension to greatness in Boston and New York.

More than that though, Becoming Babe Ruth shows the Sultan of Swat’s generosity and heart toward those who helped him along the way. Tavares does a wonderful job of painting a picture—both figuratively and literally—of this positive aspect of Ruth’s personality. As in his other baseball books, Tavares’ artwork is second-to-none.

For those who have young children, Tavares’ books are a wonderful introduction to both the sport and the personalities that play it. Becoming Babe Ruth is recommended for readers 5-8 years old.

Learn more about Candlewick Press.

Purchase Becoming Babe Ruth by Matt Tavares in hardback or paperback.

Huge baseball memorabilia auction happening online tomorrow

The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory Auction Event, is on November 14 at 11am EST online with Invaluable.com and in person at the museum and factory in Louisville, Kentucky. The auction features memorabilia like signed or used pieces by some of the biggest names in baseball. There are pieces from legendary players like Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Ken Griffey Jr., Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and more. Here are a few of the noteworthy auction items available:

Lot 289: Fine Lou Gehrig professional model baseball bat c. 1930-31 (PSA/DNA graded “GU 8”)
Estimated Price:
$75,000 – $100,000
The bat originates from a primary source descendant of a former Washington area bat boy whom is believed to have spent time with several teams inclusive of the Washington Senators. According to family history, the young bat boy had the occasion to meet several notable individuals during yankees copythis period and one particularly special encounter was with Lou Gehrig. The 1930-31 time period was particularly productive for Gehrig who turned in numbers that would have been career years for nearly any other player conceivable. A fresh to market Gehrig game bat is always noteworthy and an example with strong provenance and usage characteristics is an exceedingly rare find.

Lot 376: Jackie Robinson professional model baseball bat with uniform #42 on knob c. 1952
Estimated Price:
$50,000 – $100,000
This particular bat was obtained in the 1950s by a Brooklyn area youth, Edward Guidi, whose father was well acquainted with a Brooklyn Dodgers clubhouse employee. On one of the occasions which the boy and his father attended a Dodgers game the team employee brought the offered bat to the man and gave it to his son indicating that, He’d like him to have the bat since he did not have any kids and to enjoy it. The bat has since resided in the collection of the original recipient until its current offering. This particular Jackie Robinson bat ranks among the very finest of its type to have been offered with direct primary source provenance and extremely rare #42 player indicator on knob end.

Lot 293: Fine 1931 New York Yankees team signed baseball
Estimated Price:
$10,000 – $15,000
Red and blue stitched Reach W.Harridge Official American League baseball has been signed by (25) incl. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, Lefty Gomez, Red Ruffing, Earle Combs, Bill Dickey, George Pipgras, Cy Perkins, Herb Pennock, Sam Byrd, and others. Joe Sewell and Dusty Cooke are clubhouse signed. All are done in period fountain pen rating 7-8 out of 10. Ball displays some mild toning and light evident usage wear with faded but well defined stampings. A choice example dating to this highly desirable period.

Finished? Not quite.

Scherzer no-hitter

The 2015 regular season is in the books, but the narrative is far from over. Clayton Kershaw struck out 300 batters, the first time a pitcher has reached that mark since 2002. Another cheater reached the 500-home run mark. And Max Scherzer pitched two no-hitters this year; the last pitcher who did that in the regular season was Nolan Ryan in 1973.

Cueto Royals

The National League Central is sending three teams to the postseason, but the Reds will be watching from home. Johnny Cueto, traded to the Royals in July, will attempt to put Kansas City over the top after the team fell to the Giants last year. The upstart Houston Astros, powered by Dallas Keuchel, will try to derail that plan. There are only two teams in the playoffs that I despise, so I fully expect a Yankees/Cardinals World Series this year.

Yogi

I will post a few more highlights cards for the World Series winners and award winners as they are announced, but the regular season cards are finished. 125 “revamped” cards, 13 “highlights” so far, and 18 All-Star cards. Prior to the “revamped” design, 65 cards were posted, along with ten Will Ferrell cards plus four tribute cards to legendary players who have passed away. Add to that 200 “preseason” cards, and I would say 2015 was a busy year for TWJ cards.

twj2015

You can see all the cards at TWJ cards on tumblr. Plans are already underway for an even better set in 2016.

Baseball Stadiums 2016 Calendar published by TF Publishing

Baseball Stadiums Calendar

Baseball Stadiums 2016 Calendar
published by TF Publishing, 2015

Now that October has arrived, it is time to admit that Christmas is just around the corner. Yes, we have to get through Halloween and Thanksgiving first, but it is never too soon to start thinking about what gifts you will be buying for others. One small gift that is timeless is the calendar. Whether you go with the daily boxed variety, or the monthly hang-on-the-wall calendar, everyone needs to know what day it is at some point.

Perfect Timing publishes a wide variety of calendars, including this very nice Baseball Stadiums 2016 Calendar. Twelve ballparks are featured, including such vital statistics as home team, opening date, dimensions, capacity, and playing surface. The twelve parks are Busch (St. Louis), AT&T (San Francisco), Fenway (Boston), Citi (New York Mets), PNC (Pittsburgh), Great American (Cincinnati), Yankee (New York Yankees), Wrigley (Chicago Cubs), Chase (Arizona), Comerica (Detroit), Rogers (Toronto), and Dodger (Los Angeles). The calendar measures 11.8×23.4 when hung on the wall, showing the stadium of the month; the calendar portion has plenty of room to jot down appointment and meeting reminders in the blocks.

Learn more about TF Publishing.

Purchase Baseball Stadiums 2016 Calendar published by Perfect Timing.

Goodbye, Yogi Berra

(May 12, 1925 – September 22, 2015)

The man known as much for his sayings as his abilities on the ballfield, the legendary Yogi Berra has passed away at the age of 90. One of the greatest catchers in the history of the game, he is famous for many sayings, most notably, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” But before you quote Berra, keep in mind that he also said, “I really didn’t say everything I said.”

Baseball Immortal: Derek Jeter by Danny Peary (2015)

Baseball Immortal Derek Jeter

Baseball Immortal: Derek Jeter
by Danny Peary
Page Street Publishing, 2015
368 pages

He was one of the most humble, yet most exciting players to watch over the past couple of decades. New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter redefined what a player could do under the pressure—and despite the constant attention—of the media in the Big Apple. Everything he accomplished was handled with poise and character, and he retired as one of the most respected players in the game. Looking through the pages of quotes by Jeter, and by others about Jeter, a reader can get a sense of what a special player he was going all the way back to high school.

Danny Peary’s collection of quotes does not bring much to light that was not already known. Despite being a highly private person, Jeter’s exploits on the field were widely reported. However, bringing all the information together into one place is an invaluable resource to fans of #2. Jeter’s family members, teammates, coaches, and opponents are all quoted in this extensive volume. Perhaps the best line comes from former Tampa Bay skipper Joe Maddon, who said, “They created the Hall of Fame for players like him. Never a doubt. Totally earned. He may be the first 100 percenter.”

Derek Jeter fans will treasure this book about one of the most loved figures in recent Yankees history.

Learn more about Page Street Publishing.

Purchase Baseball Immortal: Derek Jeter by Danny Peary.

Becoming Mr. October by Reggie Jackson with Kevin Baker (2014)

Becoming Mr October Reggie Jackson New York Yankees

Becoming Mr. October
by Reggie Jackson with Kevin Baker
Anchor Books, 2014 (paperback)
320 pages

Before Derek Jeter, the Yankee most associated with postseason glory was Reggie Jackson. Nicknamed “Mr. October” for his offensive prowess in the World Series, particularly with the Yankees (8 home runs, 17 RBI, .400 batting average in 15 games), Jackson epitomized superstardom in the Big Apple. In his memoir Becoming Mr. October, the slugger recounts his 1977 and 1978 seasons in New York, including his feuds with teammate Thurman Munson, manager Billy Martin, and owner George Steinbrenner, and the infamous interview with Robert Ward that set him at odds with his teammates right off the bat.

Jackson begins his memoir as a college athlete at Arizona State University, then quickly moving through his time with the Kansas City/Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles to set the stage for his debut with the Yankees. The first four chapters of the book deal with his pre-New York baseball career, while the final twenty-one chapters recall the events of just two seasons; there is no mention of playing for the California Angels or returning to Oakland at the end of his career. The writing style is extremely casual, almost to the point of distraction. This includes the use of text lingo such as “LOL” in some instances.

Overlooking that flippancy, though, Becoming Mr. October is a valuable resource as it presents Jackson’s side of the story. He had been villainized by the press and Yankee management, but was mot at the time afforded the opportunity to present his version of events. Further upset with his portrayal in The Bronx Is Burning (“the whole way they portrayed ‘Reggie Jackson in New York’ was a huge disconnect for me”), the Hall of Famer offers his take on what really happened during his first two seasons in pinstripes.

Learn more about Anchor Books.

Purchase Becoming Mr. October by Reggie Jackson with Kevin Baker.

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