“There Comes a Time When All the Cosmic Tumblers Click and the Universe Opens Up To Show You What’s Possible”…..Terrance Mann

It was an unusual day in Boston 46 years ago today. A chilly day in early spring in which the low temperature was 45 and although the thermometer would not get past the 52 degree mark, a brief thunderstorm appeared.

April 23 1967

There were 18,041 patrons who made their way to Fenway Park on this Sunday afternoon, to watch the four and four Red Sox take on the New York Yankees. It was the ninth game of the young season and it was the sixth time the Sox and Yankees squared off against each other.

Darrell “Bucky” Brandon was on the mound for the Sox while knuckleballer and soon to be best-selling author Jim Bouton got the call for the New Yorkers.

 

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Bouton  violated the sanctity of the clubhouse with the first ever “tell all” book about the inner workings of a pro baseball team. Revealed in his 1970 book, among other things was  Mickey Mantle’s propensity to consume large amounts of alcohol on a consistent basis; a well-known fact within baseball’s inner circle which had protected Mickey throughout his career. The book led to Bouton being blackballed from baseball.

The day before, the Red Sox had come from behind to take a 5-4 win sparked by a three run fifth which saw Carl Yastrzemski single with the bases loaded to plate two runs and then steal second base. Yaz had homered in the first inning, his first of the season.

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The aged Mickey Mantle made a great play at first on Reggie Smith tagging him out on the first Sox play of the game.

It was Yaz who got em going on this day when he staked the home town team to a 2-0 lead with his second, first inning homer in as many days.

Yaz homered after Dalton Jones doubled giving the Red Sox a 2-0 lead.

A George Thomas single, scored first baseman Tony Horton and after the first inning the Sox had a 3-0 lead. Bouton did not get out of the second inning and an RBI single by Mantle in the third made the score 3-1.

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Local hero, rookie Russ Gibson had caught Billy Rohr’s one hitter in their big league debuts just nine days earlier.

Russ Gibson countered with a clutch two out, two run double in the bottom of the third giving Brandon and the Red Sox a comfortable 5-1 lead.

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Brandon could not get out of the fifth.

It all unraveled in the fifth inning and the chief “unraveler” was veteran Yankee catcher and 1963 MVP Elston Howard. For on this day he would complete his own personal troika of dagger wounds inflicted on the Red Sox in their young 1967 season.

 

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Elston Howard

His first had come on the aforementioned debut of Gibson and Rohr at Yankee Stadium; for it was Howard who had singled with two outs in the bottom of the ninth spoiling Rohr’s no-hitter. The second came exactly a week later at Fenway Park when Howard again singled, this time in the eighth inning knocking in the only Yankee run of the day and ruining Rohr’s bid for his second shutout in as many big league starts. On this day he was called upon to pinch hit for shortstop John Kennedy. There were two outs, two on in the top of the fifth and the Yankees were trailing 5-4. Howard delivered with a double giving the Yanks a lead they would never relinquish on their way to a 7-5 win.

Howard would turn things around in August when he donned a Red Sox uniform and played a crucial role on their march to their Impossible Dream pennant.

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 The Red Sox acquired Howard on August 4, 1967. A key acquisition for the stretch drive. As Red Sox announcer Ken Coleman stated, “the man who had broken our hearts in April, made them soar in September.”

In the Red Sox half of the fifth, Carl Yastrzemski was in the box. He took a called strike which Manager Dick Williams didn’t particularly agree with and the young Skipper let plate ump Red Flaherty know about it. In fact he let him know about it so vociferously  that Flaherty decided to give Williams the rest of the day off. When Flaherty called a second strike on Yaz that he did not particularly agree with, he too found his way to the clubhouse courtesy of the home plate umpire. There were the first ejections of the 1967 season and only Yaz’s second in his then seven-year career.

Those who play and understand this great game know that there are good losses and bad losses. On the surface this one looks like a bad loss. A 5-1 lead blown, the manager and star ejected for losing their cool after the lead melted away. However, how much of this game, indeed life, plays out beneath the surface? On this day this team showed a fire that had been absent from the Back Bay for a long, long time.

The day began with the oddity of thunder clouds in the midst of only 50 degree weather, the cosmic tumblers of the universe clicking in to show what’s possible? Signaling the arrival of an energy force never before seen in the city?

And what of today, four and a half decades later? Is it coincidence that the heavens are putting on a meteor display the likes of which we have never seen? Is it coincidence that this team playing at Fenway Park is taking on many of the characteristics of that team of so long ago, the grit, the fire, the zeal?

Are the cosmic tumblers which set that energy force in motion so long ago clicking once again? Opening up to show the possibilities?

The cosmos clicks, and will reveal itself to those who dare, those who believe, those who open themselves to it. So on this April 23rd I look to the heavens, I look to Fenway…..For I’ve seen the miracle and I know what’s possible…..

May I Hope!!!!!

 

 

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“Long Live Their Fame and Long Live Their Glory and Long May Their Story be Told”……

A year to the date that the Red Sox celebrated Fenway Park’s 100th birthday, the Fenway Faithful participated in a different kind of pre-game ceremony. A ceremony that was a combination memorial service/tribute to remember and honor the fallen and acknowledge the heroic efforts of law enforcement, first responders and simple citizens; all of whom played their parts in caring for and treating the wounded and in apprehending the faceless cowards responsible for their acts of terror.

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As the city’s secular cathedral, Fenway Park became the chosen venue in which the community paused, mourned, honored and remembered taking the city’s, indeed the region’s, official collective first step toward healing.

In times of turmoil and crisis, we turn to traditions and rituals to emote, to process, to grieve and to heal. There is no other sport that is more steeped in tradition than baseball and there is no other city which surpasses Boston nor is more steeped in their baseball team. So to borrow the words of the Great Emancipator, ‘it is all together fitting and proper that we should do this”.

There were prayers for young lives stolen…..

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Martin Richard, Sean Collier, Lu Lingzi and Krystle Campbell.

 There was acknowledgement of heroic acts of compassion and courage,

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Steven Byrne who was wounded shielding others from the blast, waves to the crowd. He had just been released from the hospital.

There were expressions of gratitude.

And there was of course, traditions; some old, some new, some old with a new twist.

First there was the uniforms.

The traditional Red Sox on the front of the home jerseys was changed to Boston with the Boston Strong patch displayed over the heart!

The symbol of the city’s determination and strength was emblazoned on the Green Monster where I suspect it will be for a long time, like maybe forever.

There appeared the embodiment of determination which is indicative of the Marathon and the city.

Police commissioner Ed Davis shakes hands with Boston marathon participant Dick Hoyt prior to the start of a game between the Boston Red Sox and Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Dick Hoyt (with his son Richard) shakes hands with Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis. Dick has run 31 Boston Marathons pushing Richard in his wheelchair. Monday was to be his last, however because of the bombing he was unable to finish. Next year he will run again in honor and memory of this years victims.

Seventy-two year old Neil Diamond showed up to lead the “Faithful” in Sweet Caroline, bringing with him “love from all over the country”.

And as for the game? Well the script could not have been written better in Hollywood.

Daniel Nava celebrates at home with Johnny Gomes (5) following his three run homer in the eighth.

Daniel Nava!

A kid who didn’t make his college team and became the manager just so he could be around the team and practice.

A kid who, in 2007, was signed by the Red Sox after playing for the Chico Bandits in California’s independent Golden Baseball League which had been formed just two years earlier.

A kid whose signing bonus was one American dollar!

A kid who, in his first major league at bat, on the first pitch he ever saw, hit a grand slam home run into the Red Sox bullpen off Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton.

A kid who came to bat in the bottom of the eighth inning on the 101st birthday of Fenway Park with his team losing 2-1 and blasted a three run homer into that same bullpen, propelling his team, his city to victory!

A kid who now has woven himself forevermore into the patchwork quilt of Boston, the Red Sox and Fenway Park history.

So on Saturday April 20, 2013, the city of Boston took a step forward, a step toward healing. The lives of  Martin Richard, Sean Collier, Lu Lingzi and Krystle Campbell will now be incorporated into the tradition that is the Boston Marathon. And their names will, with Daniel Nava’s be forevermore woven into that same patchwork quilt of Boston, the Red Sox and Fenway Park history!

You are and will forever remain a part of us!

In Memory

Martin Richard, Sean Collier, Lu Lingzi and Krystle Campbell

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Patriots Day, The Boston Marathon, The Red Sox and Fenway Park…..

 Yesterday the Fenway Faithful emerged from Fenway Park as they have every Patriots Day for near a half century. The mood was light as they made their way to and through Kenmore Square, many on their way to Copley and the finish line of the Marathon. The Sox had battled back from a blown save and finished off a sweep of the Rays with a walk-off 3-2 win.
Boston is a city steeped in tradition and Patriots Day, the Red Sox and the Boston Marathon are woven within the fabric of that tradition. Yesterday faceless cowardice attempted to kill that tradition with murderous hate, terror and fear!
What faceless cowards do not understand is that tradition does not simply whither away and crawl off into the night. What faceless cowards do not understand is that tradition will take their act of hatred and weave into its own fabric of honor, of remembering, of tradition.
What faceless cowards do not understand is that this great city will bleed, will weep, will grieve as we heal and as we mourn and we will endure.
What faceless cowards do not understand is that we are emboldened and what they have done is unified a people and in the midst of their hate they have, once again, brought out the best in us!

This morning I repost last years story about this special day, in honor of the innocents lost, the wounded and in memory of a simpler time…..

What do

Johnny Kelley (the Elder), 1935 and 1945.

Mike Timlin, 2004.

Johnny Kelley (the Younger), 1957

Josh Beckett, 2007

Bill Rogers, 1975, ’78′, ’79′, ’80′.

Clay Buchholz, 2008.

Timothy Cherigat , 2004.

Dice K Matsusaka, 2011, and

Wesley Korir, 2012.

all have in common? It’s simple really, they all won on Marathon Day!

The Boston Marathon ran its first race in 1897 and yesterday marked the 54th year in a row that the Red Sox played at Fenway Park on the same day the race was run; and it was the 44th time that the game started at 11 AM.

You see Marathon Day also happens to be Patriots Day. That day is big doings in Boston for it is the day that marks the Battle of Lexington and Concord.

Perhaps you have heard of it? If not, it took place on a green a bit northwest of Boston on April 19, 1775 and it began a small event that had a slight impact on history. I think it was called the American Revolution or something like that. But I digress.

Patriots Day is a holiday in the state of Massachusetts and until 1969 it was celebrated, strange as it may seem, on April 19th. In 1969 a law was passed that now celebrates the day on the third Monday in April every year giving the residents of Massachusetts a three-day weekend.

It is a day steeped in tradition and since 1969 that tradition has included the Red Sox playing at Fenway Park in a game that starts at 11:00 AM. I’m sure you are wondering why 11 AM, a lot of visiting players probably wonder why too.

The Boston Marathon started in Hopkinton Massachusetts at noon and ended in Kenmore Square, 26 miles away, hence a marathon.

Fenway Park is in Kenmore Square and back in the day the Marathon winning times were in the two-hour 15 to 20 minute range so they would be hitting the finish line at between 2:15 and 2:25. Well also back in the day, a baseball game that lasted three hours was a very long game however even if the game was also a marathon, it would end at right around two PM affording the Fenway Park patrons time to spill out of Fenway, walk down the hill over the Brookline Avenue bridge and watch the winner hit the finish line. Pretty good plan don’t cha think?

A while back the finish line was moved a mile up the road to the Prudential Center in Copley Square, baseball games got longer and longer and the Fenway Patrons could, if timing were right, catch a glimpse of the leaders with a mile to go. In 2005 it all changed and now there are varying starting times for various groups of participants and the Fenway patrons have zero chance of seeing the leaders unless they leave the game in the third inning or so.

But tradition is tradition and they can still saunter down the hill and catch the battlers, the everyones who run the Boston Marathon because it is the Boston Marathon, the oldest one in the country.

Yesterday the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Red Sox 1-0 in a great duel of pitchers between Daniel Bard and James Shields. The game took three hours and eight minutes, perfect for the back in the day time to see the Marathon come through.

Daniel Bard threw eight straight balls in the 7th inning yesterday, four of them to Rays third baseman Evan Longoria accounting for the games only run.

The Red Sox are now 4-6 in fifth place in the AL East, two games behind the division leading Baltimore Orioles.

On April 16th 1912, they defeated the Philadelphia Athletics 9-2 at Shibe Park. They were 4-1 and in first place by 1/2 game and they headed home to open their new ball park which was slated for April 18th. Oh and on Marathon Day, Patriots Day 1912, a young man named Mike Ryan, had himself quite a day!

And so it is and so it was at this time in Fenway Park history, Patriots Day.

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Patriots Day, The Boston Marathon, The Red Sox and Fenway Park…..

fenwaypark100:

Yesterday the Fenway Faithful emerged from Fenway Park as they have every Patriots Day for near a half century. The mood was light as they made their way to and through Kenmore Square, many on their way to Copley and the finish line of the Marathon. The Sox had battled back from a blown save and finished off a sweep of the Rays with a 10 inning 3-2 win.
Boston is a city steeped in tradition and Patriots Day, the Red Sox and the Boston Marathon are woven within the fabric of that tradition. Yesterday faceless cowardice attempted to kill that tradition with murderous hate, terror and fear!
What faceless cowards do not understand is that tradition does not simply whither away and crawl off into the night. What faceless cowards do not understand is that tradition will take their act of hatred and weave into its own fabric of honor, of remembering, of tradition.
What faceless cowards do not understand is that this great city will bleed, will weep, will grieve as we heal and as we mourn and we will endure.
What faceless cowards do not understand is that we are emboldened and what they have done is unified a people and in the midst of their hate they have, once again, brought out the best in us!

Originally posted on fenwaypark100:

What do

 Johnny Kelley (the Elder), 1935 and 1945.

Mike Timlin, 2004.

Johnny Kelley (the Younger), 1957

Josh Beckett, 2007

Bill Rogers, 1975, ’78′, ’79′, ’80′.

Clay Buchholz, 2008.

 

Timothy Cherigat , 2004.

 Dice K Matsusaka, 2011, and

Wesley Korir, 2012.

all have in common? It’s simple really, they all won on Marathon Day!

The Boston Marathon ran its first race in 1897 and yesterday marked the 54th year in a row that the Red Sox played at Fenway Park on the same day the race was run; and it was the 44th time that the game started at 11 AM.  

You see Marathon Day also happens to be Patriots Day. That day is big doings in Boston for it is the day that marks the Battle of Lexington and Concord.

Perhaps you have heard of it? If not, it took place on a green a bit northwest of Boston on…

View original 524 more words

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Billy, Lee and Me…..

This is Billy…..

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This is Lee….

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And this is me…..

BLMRay

Billy was born in San Diego California in 1945, Lee was born in Albany, New York in 1944 and I was born in Boston in 1953. Our lives would intersect on Friday April 14, 1967 in Yankee Stadium and then would serendipitously converge again in April of 2013.

Sunday April 14th marked the 46th anniversary of that intersection and a very special day in Red Sox history. It was Billy who, on that day, took center stage when in his major league debut he shutout the Yankees losing a ho-hitter with two outs in the ninth inning. I wrote about it a couple of weeks back.

  http://fenwaypark100.org/2013/03/22/billy-rohr-on-the-threshold-eight-hits-in-the-game-all-of-them-belong-to-boston-ken-coleman/

Lee has been a Yankee fan since the days when Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle patrolled the outfield together. He was listening to the game on the radio when Mickey ruined his knee catching his cleats on a Yankee Stadium drain going after a fly ball.

Mickey Mantle (prone) and Joe DiMaggio in 1951, Mantle’s rookie year.

Mickey was Lee’s favorite player but in deference to his grandfather, who was a diehard Red Sox fan, he became a huge fan of Ted Williams. He rooted for Ted but Mickey and his pinstripes were where his heart lay.

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 Ted and Mickey, two all time greats.

He made his first trip to Yankee Stadium in 1955. Boarding the train from Albany, he made his way to “the Stadium.” His memory of the specifics of that game have long since left him except that Mickey, walked twice, bunted once and was called out on strikes. It was his first pilgrimage.

It was in Juinor High music class where he watched, on a 12 inch black and white TV,  Don Larsen pitch his perfect game in the 1956 World Series.don-larsen1-595x395

Don Larsen pitching his way to immortality October 8, 1956.

In 1960 he watched his first ever baseball game on a color TV at his buddy’s house as Pittsburgh Pirate second baseman Bill Mazeroski broke the hearst of Yankee fans with his game winning home run in the seventh game of the ’60′ Fall Classic.

He had his own car in 1961 and it was on its radio that he listened as Roger Maris hit his 61st home run off of Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard in the season’s last game.

 Maris hits number 61, October 1, 1961 at Yankee Stadium.

After graduating  high school, Lee gave college a whirl but left to join the Marine Corps in 1963.

Around this same time, Billy was tearing things up at Bellflower High School; hurling four no-hitters and captaining his basketball team. An outstanding athlete, his special talents on the mound opened the door to a professional career and it was the Pirates who came a calling. The Red Sox drafted him from them in 1963 and Billy’s course with destiny was set.

Billy Rohr number 30.

As for me, well, I watched Mazeroski’s home run on a TV as well. It was a black and white one and it was at Tom’s Barber Shop in lower Jackson Square in East Weymouth Massachusetts.

Unlike Lee, I was delighted by this home run. It is my first TV baseball memory!

In 1961 I was one of 19,582 patrons at Fenway Park for a Memorial Day baseball game between the Red Sox and Yankees. The Bronx Bombers lived up to their reputation that day as they clubbed the Red Sox 12-3 with what was, at the time, a record seven home runs in the game.

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 Maris hit home run numbers 10 and 11, on his way to 61 in ’61′. Mantle (third from left) hit numbers 12 and 13 on his way to 54 in ’61′. Skowron (Mantle’s right) added a couple of homers that day as well and for good measure Yogi Berra hit one.

Billy’s trek to the mound at Yankee Stadium on April 14, 1967 would take him through Wellsville New York, Winston-Salem North Carolina and Toronto Canada.

Lee’s trek toward April 14, 1967 would take him to the deck of carriers in the Caribbean, the Mediterranian, the Atlantic, artillery field training and then to Chu Lai Vietnam.

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Lee in Chu Lai 1967.

My trek toward April 14, 1967 would take me through the halls of East Junior High School to the soda fountain at Reidy’s Drug Store in East Weymouth Massachusetts and an eight transistor radio.

As Billy was breaking camp in Winter Haven Florida to head to Boston and the big leagues, Lee was receiving orders that his time in Vietnam was done. He left on March 26th and headed to California and the El Toro Marine Base. He was discharged on April 4th and arrived back home in Albany New York on the following day, his Mom’s birthday! His buddies tracked him down and told him they had a ticket for him for Opening Day at the Stadium, Friday the 14th.

He and his buddies along with Jackie Kennedy Onassis and her two little ones were in the crowd as Billy Rohr worked his magic on the mound. Two hundred miles north, I was huddle around that eight transistor radio with my high school buddies listening as Tom Tresh came to bat for the Yankees, setting up Carl Yastrzemski’s catch for the ages. Our hearts sank as Elston Howard singled to right ending Rohr’s bid for immortality!

I met Lee a couple of years ago at the Capris Isle Golf Course in Venice Florida. he’s a snow bird now and he spends his winters among we Venetians. We play every Sunday morning and Lee follows this blog. After my story on Billy Rohr, he emailed me….”believe it or not, I was at that game, I never gave Rohr another thought, until today.”

A couple of weeks ago I communicated with Mr. Billy Rohr. We spoke on the phone and exchanged some emails. He wrote about his moment at Yankee Stadium, his “fifteen minutes.”. He’s a gracious gentleman and a successful attorney with a practice in California and he is forevermore linked to that day in Yankee Stadium and the magic it ignited for the Impossible Dream Red Sox.  He too is a passionate golfer.

So it is appropriate that on April 14, 2013, forty six years to the day of Billy Rohr’s major league debut that Billy and Lee and Me were on the golf course!

BLMLeeMe

Lee and me.

Rlationships, relationships, relationships!

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Lets Have at It…..

The Red Sox will open Fenway Park’s 101st year and their 102nd season this afternoon when Clay Buchholz takes to the hill against the Baltimore Orioles. There are smiles from the Fenway Faithful as the Sox have taken both series from the Yankees and highly touted Toronto Blue Jays. They come home in  first place with a 4-2 record well ahead of last years horrid pace.

Me thinks the Blue Jays will spend 2013 learning the Red Sox lesson of last year which is simply, a team filled with all-stars does not a team make! But that’s for another day.

The torch has been passed to a new generation of Red Sox. Born in this winter, tempered by the battles of seasons played, disciplined by the fight through the minors and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of the past decade of Red Sox success!

Will Middlebrooks, freshly off his three homer game yesterday, leads this new crew in sporting the number 16 on his back. A number indicative that he is here to stay. Gone is his number 64 and he joins illustrious company as he dons 16, the same number worn by the Red Sox first ever Cy Young Award winner, Jim Lonborg in 1967.

Middlebrooks became the 26th Red Sox player to hit three homers in a game in yesterday’s 13-0 romp over the Blue Jays. He felt just a few feet short of hitting number four when he flied deep to left in his last at bat.

There is a lot to like about this team! They are battlers, dirt eaters, hard-nosed and seem to be old-fashioned baseball players. There are kids who are here who can flat-out play and they are exciting and fun to watch.

Jose Iglesias is a defensive wizard at short who appears to have overcome his “can’t hit” knock as he comes in to Fenway’s home opener having gone 2-5 yesterday and watching his average DROP to .529. Yikes!

Jackie Bradley Jr. has generated enormous excitement with his glove in left and his wheels.

These kids coupled with the likes of Dustin Pedroia who is, well, Dustin Pedroia, a healthy and rejuvenated Jacoby Ellsbury, the additions of players like Victorino, Gomes, Napoli and back up catcher David Ross seem to have created a chemistry mix not seen at Fenway since 2008!

Add to the mix the return of John Farrell and the departure of Mr. Sweetheart oops Valentine and there is reason for excitement!

Lester is 2-0 this year and Blue Jay announcer and former catcher Buck Martinez noted during yesterday ‘s broadcast, his “swing and miss stuff is back….he hasn’t had it the past couple of years but it’s back today.”

Two starts does not a season make, however the Jon Lester I watched yesterday was the Jon Lester I watched three years ago! He dominated the lineup which many have said will rule the AL East this year! Buchholz shows signs that he may be back and early indications are that the bullpen has lights out potential .

There are 156 games to go and a lot can happen. I’m not one for making predictions about who will make the playoffs, win pennants and World Series for my answer is always the same, because it always is the same. The team(s) which get the best pitching in August and September will win! It’s really a simple game which begins and ends with those guys in the middle of the diamond!

But I will say this, the 2013 Red Sox will compete, something they have not really done much of the past couple of years!

Let’s Have At It!!!!!

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Rolling Out 2013 and Looking Ahead…..

Sunday night the Major League baseball season began its historic 2013 season when the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers battled in an American League game to open the ’13′ campaign. That’s right, the Astros are now in the American League, as the team to be named later in the Milwaukee Brewers joining the Senior Circuit in 1998. A full house showed up as the Astros made their A.L. debut with a win.

Yesterday the schedule began in earnest with 20-year-old Bryce Harper hitting two dingers and 25-year-old Clayton Kershaw joining Bob Lemon as the only pitchers in history to both homer and spin a shutout on opening day. Lemon did the trick for Cleveland at home in 1953 against the White Sox.  

As for my Red Sox, they opened up in the Bronx where 22-year-old left fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. made his major league debut contributing significantly to the Red Sox 8-2 win without getting a base hit; scoring twice, knocking in a run, saving a run with a great catch and allowing another to score utilizing his speed.  

All apropos as the today’s story is about the future!

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Last week I had the honor of traveling to Cary North Carolina in the company of about 30 other men, some young, some well, not quite as young and a couple just a bit older, I’m one of the bit olders. The purpose of the journey was to participate in USA Baseball’s second annual National High School Invitational baseball tournament.

Sixteen teams gathered from all over the country to compete in this baseball extravaganza and what a festival of America’s pastime it was! I saw a few young men play who, in a matter of a few months, will be very wealthy young men. I saw high school baseball at its absolute finest and the Venice High School team was among the best of the lot!

The Indians of Venice entered the week ranked second in the country in the Baseball America prep poll. It is the highest rank they have ever attained and although very flattering, frankly it doesn’t mean all that much. For the only poll that matters is the one after the season has ended and that has been the focus of the coaching staff and players as they have gone about their daily business.

They disposed of Tennessee’s Christian Brothers High School their first game 5-1 behind junior pitcher Brandon Elmy which brought them face to face with Cathedral Catholic of California. It was a classic matchup as they entered the tournament ranked three in the nation.

The Indians came out swinging, scoring four in the second inning and with a lead of 5-3 put the ball in the hands of the kid they call simply, “Coop”, tacked on a couple of runs and made their way to the final four with a 7-3 win.

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Miami bound Cooper Hammond dominated Cathedral with four innings of dazzling relief work. Something the Venice Indians have grown accustomed to the past couple of years.

This set up the following days matchup with another California powerhouse, Harvard Westlake High School.

VHS Westlake

This day belonged to Harvard as the Indians bats could not get untracked and they took it on the chin 6-0.

All that remained was a battle for third place and a confrontation with Woodland High School of Texas the following morning. Woodland came into the tournament the number one ranked team in the nation and they had lost to yet another California team, Mater Dei, the tournaments reigning champ.

The game would be played at 8:30 AM on Saturday.

There are two things to know about tournament baseball. The obvious one is that a team will always get deep into their pitching. The other is that an 8:30 AM start time for young men 16, 17 and 18 years old is, to say the least, not optimum.

The early morning game was as much as anything a test of their metal!

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It was a chilly North Carolina morn as the Indians lined the field to begin their quest for a winning tournament. It was a battle of public school squads with the Indians throwing, for the first time this season, junior Ryan Miller.

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“Mils” acquitted himself well, throwing 53 pitches in 4 2/3 innings, 37 for strikes and left leading 2-1.

Hammond came into the game with a runner on second and two outs. A single into left field tied the game and a series of miscues put Woodland ahead 3-2. A pall fell over the Indians when a lead off double by Danny Raynor in the bottom of the fifth, did not result in them tieing the score but they were far from done. They plated three runs in the sixth with the key hit coming from a most unlikely source, pitcher Cooper Hammond.

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In “Coop’s” first at bat of the season, he stroked a two run double providing himself and the Indians the margin of victory.

The Indians finished the tournament 3-1 won and captured third place out of the sixteen teams. Mater Dei repeated as the tournament champs beating Harvard Westlake. It is a testament to Venice High School baseball and what they have come to expect of themselves that in their week in North Carolina they defeated the top ranked team in the nation, the number three ranked team in the nation and although gratified, they came home a little disappointed.

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The Indians receive the accolades of the USA Baseball staff following their win on Saturday over Woodland.

My thoughts as I look back on a terrific week of baseball….

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Catcher/Third Baseman Mike Rivera is the straw that stirs the drink. He walks the walk and all he cares about is winning!

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“Coop” is not only exceptionally talented, he possesses the immeasurable intangibles which make him a winner.  

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Colten Lightner showed his metal, battling a stomach flu for two days and contributing to the Indians success both at bat and on the field.

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There is no more even keeled high school player I have ever seen than Brandon “Elmo” Elmy.

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 Center fielder Danny Raynor quietly goes about his business, contributing key hits along the way and playing solid defense.

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This is a special group of individuals who understand what it means to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Each knows their role and understands that each of them is a contributor to the success of this team!

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“Yesterday’s dead and tomorrow is blind” and Mike Rivera summed it all up at the post game press conference. ” I don’t care what I do as long as we win a state championship”!

One day at a time!

Back to Work!

 

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