Archive | April, 2012

Baseball Misadventures: Delmon Young pulls a Mel Gibson

30 Apr

First off, I have this to say. Wow Delmon. Just wow. The Tigers aren’t exactly feeling all that hot these days. After a embarassing home sweep from Seattle and losing Brandon Inge, I’m not sure why you thought it was a good idea to get super drunk like this. (Unless, of course, you were celebrating the release of the veteran Tiger Inge like many fans were that night…)

But I digress, if you don’t know the story already, you can read about it here…Delmon is going on the restricted list, and has pretty much jeporadized the future of his career in Detroit. As a baseball player, I had become somewhat attached to Delmon. I mean, don’t get me wrong…he wasn’t my Tiger or anything, but I liked him for his homerun power and his interesting facial expressions while at the plate. I liked how he helped us a lot in the postseason last year and he seemed like a fairly nice guy overall. Well, that last part doesn’t seem so true anymore.

via Baseball Misadventures: Delmon Young pulls a Mel Gibson.

via Baseball Misadventures: Delmon Young pulls a Mel Gibson.

Women playing baseball

29 Apr

As a youngster I had no idea there was any such thing as softball, I only knew baseball. It was baseball I saw on television and heard the adults talking about. The glove I wore was a baseball glove and my cap was called a baseball hat. There simply was no other option to baseball in my mind.

My mom was a die hard baseball fan and had been quite a ballplayer in her youth. On more than one occasion I heard people comment how it is very possible she could have played in the All American Girls Baseball League (AAGBPL) had it not folded shortly after she turned eighteen. She was my mentor, not my father, who was quite the ballplayer himself before sustaining a foot injury in the Korean war. When I was six my training began. I wanted to be a catcher as my hero was Yankee catcher Thurman Munson but mom knew best and insisted I be well versed at every position.

 Most days we would spend a couple of hours in the backyard with mom running me through very simple fielding drills. As I was only six these generally consisted of her rolling a ball to me from several feet away and me just trying to stop them. By the end of the summer I was kind of catching some soft tosses in the air. At least I was blocking the ball and had learned not to be afraid of it.

When sports registration was opened the following year my parents never even asked if I wanted to play baseball or softball, they simply signed me up for the minor leagues. At the time I had no idea I was such a trailblazer as no other girl had ever even attempted to sign up. Needless to say I was the last player picked and stuck in right field three innings each game. I can’t recall doing anything more than chasing errant throws but I was out there on the field. I was disappointed I didn’t get to play more but wasn’t about to quit the game I loved.

When I got older and little league registration came around I was again there for that and still the only girl. My parents were strongly encouraged to get me into softball (Which I knew existed by then) but I refused. I was a baseball player and in fact better than most boys. That first year I was good enough in fact to catch every inning and lead my team in hitting. My coaches named me the team MVP but when it came time for the all star team I guess having a girl was too much and I didn’t make the cut.

By the time Babe Ruth started I was told I had to play softball. It was too dangerous for a girl to be on the field with much stronger boys and the risk of me getting hurt was too great they said. I wasn’t about to play softball and after the issue was picked up in our local newspaper the league relented and allowed me to play. I spent the next three years playing shortstop and pitching in relief, and by all accounts more than held my own. My next step was to play in high school.

While I thought I had a good chance of making a historically poor team with few returning upperclassmen it was not to be. I was allowed to try out but told by the coaches that even if I hit a home run every at bat and played flawless defense I was not going to make the team under any circumstances. Welcome to the early eighties deep south. I did report for tryouts anyway and was cut before I got to the field. In fact most of the guys hadn’t even finished changing clothes by the time I was gone. To my surprise some of my teammates from seasons past did raise a small protest that I be given a fair chance at least but it was to no avail.

Already dressed I wandered over to the softball field and did something I never considered before. I asked if could try out. Coach Dixon put her hand on my shoulder and said “We’ve been waiting for you.” At that moment it finally sank in: My baseball playing days were over and my softball career was beginning. I went on to play softball in college and enjoyed the experience, travel and friends I made. As good as it was, it wasn’t baseball.

Now in my elder years I am the only woman currently or ever to coach a boys Babe Ruth level baseball team in my city. Over the past few years a girl does occasionally show up for tryouts, and biased as I am I always take them. I encourage them to keep playing so long as they are having fun. Sometimes the girls play a year or two and hop to softball which is fine and understandable as it is easier for girls to get softball scholarships that it is for baseball. I offer them my best wishes and even go to many of their games. Now when I talk to them they are the ones reminding me softball is fun, but it just isn’t baseball.

Back to Bad

28 Apr

It looks like the run explosion from the Phillies offense in Arizona was really just a desert mirage after all. Because against the Cubs tonight, they went right back to their losing ways.The game started out promising with runners on first and third with no outs. But that short, 5 minute elation was squashed quickly by two straight pop-ups from Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence plus a ground out from Shane Victorino. Those three hitters, the core of the Phillies current line-up, combined to go 0-for-12 on the night.

via Back to Bad.

via Back to Bad.

Great baseball game experiences

27 Apr

The greatest baseball game I ever experienced took place in 1977 at the newly renovated Yankee Stadium. The Yankees squared off against the Boston Red Sox, Catfish Hunter matched against Dennis Eckersley. From my vantage point mid way up the first base line this little girl fell in love with the game.

While I wasn’t sure of all the particulars of how the game was played having just turned seven I knew somehow this was a day that would stay with me forever. Hunter made his way through the Sox lineup with guile only truly great veterans possess. Eckersley overpowered the opposition with with his blistering fastball. Graig Nettles seemingly saved the day time and again with one amazing defensive play after another to only be matched by the youthful hard charging Boston star Fred Lynn in center field.

With the score knotted in the seventh inning I was introduced to an aspect of the game I love to this day. The Home run. Reggie Jackson stepped to the plate. After causing a small windstorm with two mighty swings and misses he launched a ball deep to right field that bounced of the upper deck facade. As Reggie always did, he stood admiring his own handiwork in the signature pose he is known so well for. Sparky Lyle entered the game and closed down the Sox offense for a Yankee win. I was hooked.

While seeing six future Hall of Famers on the field was amazing in and of itself (Hunter, Eckersley, Jackson, Fisk, Rice, and Yastremzski) the game meant far more than what happened on the field to me. It is the enduring memory of the people around me that day. My mom buying me my first Yankee shirt. Thumbing through the program and trying my best to keep my own form of score that even some thirty years later I cannot decipher. My dad picking me up in his arms when the game was over to carry this cranky tired young girl back to the car.

I can’t remember much more than the highlights of that game anymore, but the emotions of the day reside strongly inside my heart. While my team winning seemed of the utmost importance that day, as I got older it taught me winning is great if it happens, but there is more to the game. Sometimes the greatest baseball game experiences have more to do with what happens off the field than between the lines. At least for the seven year old inside this woman it does, and hopefully will for my daughter as well when her first game rolls around this year.

West Coast Yankee Fan – Phil Hughes?? I Just Don’t Know

25 Apr

Confessions of a West Coast Yankee Fan – Volume X Phil Hughes?? I Just Don’t Know – And Whose This “Jeter Guy” Whose Rippen It Up… Ohhh Yeah, Mr. Baseball, I Know Him Well Ok, so lets take a look at “Phil Hughes“, one of the Yankee’s “Current” Starters…And I say “Current”, because frankly, I don’t know how long he’s goina last.

via West Coast Yankee Fan – Phil Hughes?? I Just Don’t Know.

via West Coast Yankee Fan – Phil Hughes?? I Just Don’t Know.

5 reasons why life should be more like baseball

23 Apr

I’ve been trying to slow the pace of our life lately. It occurred to me that the deliberately slow approach to the game is what makes me love baseball so much. I enjoy all sports, but there’s something special about baseball that helps me relax. You girls aren’t too excited about my love for baseball, but I’m happy to have a partner now in you, Max. You love to watch “ball”.Here are 5 reasons we should be okay with living our life like a game of baseball:

via 5 reasons why life should be more like baseball.

via 5 reasons why life should be more like baseball.

The oldest professional baseball player in history

21 Apr

Writing as to the oldest professional baseball player in history is no easy task. Granted a simple biopic would be no problem, but the problem is nobody is truly sure who the oldest player ever was. Some purists say it is Nick Altrock who at age 56 pinch hit for the Washington Senators in 1933. Others say it was Minnie Minoso, and others swear it is Leroy “Satchel” Paige. The problem lies in birth certificates. Paige and Minoso either no longer had or declined to present them which makes their true ages unknown whereas Altrock was confirmed.

Still even if we accept (Which most historians do) that Minoso and Paige were older than Altrock as lying about being older at that point in their lives is contrary to conventional logic we still don’t know which was actually older. Paige and Minoso were also motivated to lie about their age as they began careers when baseball was segregated. Paige played his last game in 1965 for the Kansas City A’s at the believed age of 59. Many people generally believe he could have been as old as 65. Paige was commonly known to dodge issues of age, in part because he wanted to be considered younger and therefor more “signable” when integration entered the world of Major League Baseball. His own mother stated he was three years older than he claimed but Paige maintained she was in her nineties and forgetful when she stated that. However any way you slice it Paige was at the least 59.

Minnie Minoso was a position player making his final appearance for the Chicago White Sox in 1980 at the believed age of 57 although like Paige it is commonly accepted he lied about his age to appear younger at the time of his signing in 1948 by Cleveland. Even at the time of his last appearance reports of his age are conflicted as some sources listed him as 54, others 57, and yet another as 58. Quite frankly it was anybodies guess. His official year of birth is listed as 1925 however that was a year he supplied, not one taken from an official document.

Where this gets cloudy is that in 2003 Minoso drew a walk at the age of 77 as per his possible 1925 birth date for the Independent minor league team the St. Paul Saints. He was paid for the game, however this was something like his 1976, 1980, and 1990 one to three day contracts with the Chicago White Sox which were purely promotional. Again some argue as Minoso did not appear in an Actual MLB game his appearance with the Saints does not count.

So you have your pick of the oldest player. Nick Altrock is the oldest validated by birth certificate player to appear in an MLB game. Minnie Minoso is the oldest known player to appear at any professional level, at least in the United States. Satchel Paige is however likely the oldest player to regularly appear in a game and any doubt about his age shouldn’t be about whether he was younger, but older. Even though his appearance was purely staged as he spent his time in the bullpen being tended to by a “nurse” he did pitch against Boston for three innings and whether it was a one game contract or not, he is in my opinion the oldest player in baseball history, well at least Major League baseball History.