Kershaw, Tiant and One Other Guy……

Friday night Clayton Kershaw took to the hill in Pittsburgh sporting his 37 consecutive inning scoreless streak. In a pregame report on the MLB Network, it was stated that Kershaw had joined Luis Tiant as the only pitchers to have consecutive scoreless innings streaks of 35 innings or more in two separate seasons.

The drama lasted exactly one pitch…..As the Bucs right fielder Gregory Polanco took him deep.

http://m.mlb.com/news/article/141793316/clayton-kershaws-scoreless-streak-ends-on-hr

In 2014 Clayton Kershaw flipped 41.2 scoreless innings from June 13th through July 10th. His 2015 streak ended at 37 innings on Friday nights first pitch.

The 27 year old lefty’s streak began this year on July 3rd in the fourth inning against the Mets. It lasted 35 days through five starts, two of which were complete game shutouts; against the Phillies at home and the Mets on the road. The other two starts were eight inning outings against the Nationals in Washington and at home against the Angels last week.

Let’s take a look at his numbers through the stretch. He pitched 37 innings (duh), went 4-0. He struck out 49 and had, ready for this? One walk! He allowed but 17 hits and his opponents hit .135 against him. Of those 17 hits, two were for extra bases, both doubles. His strikeouts per 9 innings was 11.9 and he allowed 4.1 hits per nine innings. His WHIP (walks plus hits/IP) was a microscopic 0.486. To get an idea of just how miniscule that is, the lowest one on record for a single season is 0.737 by Pedro Martinez in 2000.

Last season his streak began in the fourth inning on June 13th in Dodger Stadium against the Diamondbacks. He went seven innings surrendering a run in the third, garnering the win. His following start was against the Rockies and the young lefty made history.

On June 18, 2014 Kershaw no-hit Colorado, punching out 15 and walking nobody in the Dodgers 8-0 win.

Hanley Ramirez’s throwing error leading off the seventh was all that came between Kershaw and perfection.

His 2014 streak covered six starts, one complete game shutout, the no-no, and 41.2 innings. It lasted 27 days and he went 6-0; beating the Diamondbacks, Royals, Padres, Cardinals and the Rockies twice.

Now for the fun stuff, the numbers. He struck out 50 and walked 6 while allowing 17 hits and his opponents hit .121 against him. Of the 17 hits he allowed in this streak three (doubles) were for extra bases. His strikeouts per nine innings was 10.7, his hits per nine was 3.6 and his WHIP was 0.551.

Luis Tiant’s two separate season streaks took place in 1968 with the Cleveland Indians, 41 innings and in 1972 with the Red Sox, 40 innings.

El Tiante’s 41 straight scoreless innings went from April 28-May 17 1968.

On April 20th Tiant was pitching in Fenway against the Red Sox. He took a 1-0 lead into the fourth. Mike Andrews singled to lead off the inning and he walked Joe Foy. After Yaz flied out to center, Reggie Smith took him deep. Down 3-1, Luis was pinched hit for leading off the fifth.

His next start came eight days later in the second game of a double-header in Washington’s DC Stadium. He flipped a two hit shutout. Luis 41 innings covered five starts in a span of 19 days. He went 4-1 during the streak with four complete game shutouts against the aforementioned Senators, Twins, Yankees and Orioles. In his fifth start against Baltimore he hurled five scoreless innings before giving up a three run homer to “Boog” Powell and he would eventually be on the short end of a 6-2 loss.

He had 42 strikeouts and 11 walks while giving up only 16 hits (2 doubles) leaving his opponents with a batting average of .116. His strikeouts per nine innings was 9.2, his hits per nine was 3.5 and his WHIP was 0.658.

Following arm injuries, trades and finally being cut by the Minnesota Twins on the last day of camp in 1971, Luis found himself in the minors; first with the Richmond Braves and then with the Red Sox AAA affiliate in Louisville, appropriately enough.

After going 21-8 in 1968 and leading the league with a 1.60 ERA, arm woes befell Tiant and following a 9-20 “69” season he was traded to the Twins, along with Stan Williams. The Indians received Dean Chance, Bob Miller, Graig Nettles and Ted Uhlaender.

By June of 1971, he was back in Boston as he struggled through the summer bouncing back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen.

It was more of the same in 1972 and on August 16th Luis stood with a respectable record of 6-4 with a 2.95 ERA. He had pitched in 32 games, eight of them starts. He had three saves and four blown saves.

AND THEN….

Three nights later came a start in Chicago. The result, a 3-0, two hit shutout. Luis was off and running again. Forty innings and 20 days would pass before Tiant surrendered another run and in that stretch of five starts Luis went 5-0 with four complete game shutouts in a row. He gave up only 16 hits with two doubles being the only extra base variety.

Throughout this particular stretch, Tiant had 32 K’s, 9 walks and his opponents hit .122 against him. His hits per nine innings was 3.6, his strikeouts per nine was 7.2 and his WHIP was 0.625.

For the next six seasons Luis Tiant as the ace of the Red Sox staff, one of baseball’s best pitchers of the decade and one of the Fenway Faithful’s all time favorite players; a mantle he holds to this day!

Friday night Clayton Kershaw took to the hill in Pittsburgh sporting his 37 consecutive inning scoreless streak. In a pregame report on the MLB Network, it was stated that Kershaw had joined Luis Tiant as the only pitchers to have consecutive scoreless innings streaks of 35 innings or more in two separate seasons.

However, baseball almanac lists another fellow, who was not bad, that the MLB Network seems to have overlooked.

Walter Johnson threw a stretch of 40 consecutive scoreless innings in May of 1918 AND in 1913 he threw a stretch of 55.2 scoreless innings. A major league record he held for 55 years.

So, if I may add an addendum to this story; In the summer of 1972, Luis Tiant joined Walter Johnson as the only two pitchers to hurl consecutive scoreless innings streaks of 40 innings or more in two separate seasons.

That fact remains true!

And so it is on this day in Fenway history, August 10, 2015.

 

 

 

 

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“Pitching always beats batting — and vice-versa.” Yogi Berra

Last Saturday August 1, 2015 baseball history was made. For the first time the reigning league MVP’s faced each other in a game. Well it’s sorta true. Thanks to the not so great idea of interleague play, it happened during the regular season for the first time. Confused?

It took place in Dodger Stadium as the Dodgers and Angels squared off. On the mound for the Dodgers was the 2014 NL MVP Clayton Kershaw.

In centerfield for the Angels was 2014 AL MVP, Mike Trout.

Now the adage goes that good pitching will beat good hitting and in this particular matchup it turned out to be true. Trout faced Kershaw three times: was caught looking in the first, grounded out weakly to third in the fourth and lined out to right in the seventh. He squared up on one ball in three at bats and hit it hard right at Yasiel Puig in right field.

Kershaw and the Dodgers prevailed as the southpaw went eight innings extending his scoreless innings streak to 37.

Well, the historical significance of this game got me to thinking, so I went a looking. What I had to find first was how many times pitchers were named MVP.

In the National League a pitcher has been named MVP 11 times, the first being Dazzy Vance of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1924 and the last of course Kershaw. The American League has had 13 hurlers earn the league’s MVP award with Washington Senator Walter Johnson being the first in 1913 and the Tigers Justin Verlander the last in 2011. Three pitchers won two MVP awards, Johnson in ’13’ and ’24’, the Giants Carl Hubbell in 1933 and ’36’ and Detroit’s Hal Newhouser earning the award in back to back years of 1944 and ’45’.

Dazzy Vance was 28-6 for the ’24’ Dodgers pitching 308 innings and leading the league in ERA 2.16, complete games 30 and strikeouts, 262. His Wins Above Replacement (WAR) was 10.5, best among pitchers. He was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1955.

Check out his lifetime record and then tell me why Luis Tiant is not in the Hall? But I digress.

Walter Johnson was the first pitcher to be named MVP in 1913. He was 36-7 with a league leading 1.14 ERA. He led the league in wins, ERA, shutouts (11), innings pitched (346), complete games (29) and strikeouts (243). His Wins Above Replacement, WAR was 16, highest in the modern era. He was a member of the Hall of Fame’s inaugural class of 1939.

Neither Vance nor Johnson got to face the other league’s MVP for that could only happen in the World Series. Although they both were MVP’s in 1924, Vance’s Dodgers did not win the pennant as the Senators beat the Giants in a seven game series. The first, last and only World Series won by a team calling our nations capital home.

In fact there have been only eight occasions in which the league MVP’s (one of course having to be a pitcher) had the opportunity to square off against each other. The first coming in the 1931 World Series when the St. Louis Cardinals; led by their MVP Frankie Frisch (The Fordham Flash) faced the Philadelphia A’s led by their MVP Lefty Grove.

Frankie Frisch more than held his own against Lefty Grove in the 31 World Series. He went 4-12 against Grove with a run scored and an RBI. The Cards won in seven games. Frisch was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1947.

Lefty Grove was the 12th 300 game winner in baseball history and the sixth in the Modern Era (since 1900). He did it with the Red Sox in 1941, the only pitcher to record win number 300 in a Red Sox uniform. He went into the Hall of Fame in 1947 with his 1931 counterpart Frankie Frisch.

Three years later the Cardinal’s Gas House Gang returned to the World Series behind MVP pitcher Dizzy Dean. They were underdogs to the Tigers who had won 101 games and they were led by their MVP catcher Mickey Cochrane. The Cards came back from down 3 games to 2 to take the Series. Dizzy Dean threw a six hit shutout in game seven to crown the Cards champs. He silenced his AL counterpart in the Series as Cochrane mustered two hits in 12 at bats (.167), both singles.

Dizzy Dean won game 7 of the ’34” World Series 11-0. And he started the seven run third inning rally with a one out double. He came to bat again and added an RBI single his second time up in the inning.

Two years later MVP Carl Hubbell of the New York Giants faced MVP Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees. This marked the fourth time these two New York teams had faced each other in the World Series and the first time they had done so without Babe Ruth on the field. The Yankees had some rookie named Joe Somethingorother in centerfield.

Anyway, the Bombers dispensed of the Giants in six games and thus Carl Hubbell pitched in only two games going 1-1. Gehrig went 0-3 in game one but more than made up for it going 2-4 with two runs scored and two RBI in the series’ fourth game; including a home run.

The Iron Horse was a two time MVP who played in 34 games in seven World Series. He hit .361 with 10 home runs and 35 RBI. His OPS was 1.214 and the Yankees won six of those World Series. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in a special election in 1939.

The next two times that MVP’s faced off against each other came in the war years of 1942 and ’45’.

Cardinals pitcher Mort Cooper went 22-7 with a league leading 1.78 ERA and hurled 10 shutouts on his way to the NL MVP award in 1942. Meanwhile in the American League one of baseball’s most controversial MVP awards was voted to Yankee second baseman Joe Gordon. Gordon hit a career high .322 with 18 home runs and 103 RBI; a very solid season. He led the league in only two categories; strikeouts and hitting into double plays.

The guy who finished second in the voting won the American League Triple Crown hitting .356 with 36 home run and 137 RBI. He led the league in runs, total bases, on base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, OPS+ and WAR. Safe to say, Ted Williams dominated the league, but yet again I digress.

The 1942 MVP’s fell significantly short of MVP performances in the 1942 World Series. Cooper pitched 13 innings in two games going 0-1 with a 5.54 ERA. He surrendered 17 hits in his 13 innings of work. Gordon hit .095 with two hits in 21 at bats and he went 0-6 against Cooper striking out twice and never hitting the ball out of the infield.

Joe Gordon was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 2009.

The last “war year” was 1945 and that year saw Tiger southpaw Hal Newhouser win his second MVP award in a row while in the National League; Cub first baseman Phil Cavaretta captured the coveted trophy. They faced off in the World Series.

Cavaretta had an MVP type World Series hitting .423 with a home run, 5 RBI while scoring 7 runs. He went 6-9 against Newhouser including the home run, three of his five RBI and scoring four of his runs.

Newhouser’s numbers were not that impressive for the World Series. He surrendered 14 runs and 25 hits in 20 2/3 innings of work. However he gave up seven of those runs and eight of those hits in 2 2/3 innings of the Series’ first game. He won game five giving the Tigers a one game edge and he was the winner in game seven giving the Tigers the title of World Champs.

Hal Newhouser is the only pitcher to win back to back MVP Awards, 1944 and ’45’. The Veterans Committee placed him in the Hall of Fame in 1992 and his number 16 is retired by the Tigers; in large measure due to the efforts of noted SABR member Kerry Keene.

It would be 11 years before MVP’s would face each other again and it would come in the 1956 World Series when American League MVP and Triple Crown winner Mickey Mantle’s Yankees faced the Brooklyn Dodgers and their MVP Don Newcomb. Newcomb also was the winner of the first ever Cy Young Award.

Created in 1956, the Cy Young Award was given to only one pitcher each year until 1967. Newcomb was 27-7 in 1956, following a 20-5 campaign in Brooklyn’s World Championship year of 1955.

Mantle hit .353 with 52 homers and 130 RBI becoming the seventh American League Triple Crown Winner.

The 1956 World Series gave us Don Larsen’s perfect game in game five which was followed, the next day, by one of the best pitching duels in World Series history. Dodger right hander Clem Labine locked horns with Bob Turley in a game which went 10 innings and was won by the Dodgers 1-0, on a Jackie Robinson single in the 10th. This set up game seven with Newcomb on the hill for Brooklyn.

Newcomb was pounded serving up five runs on five hits in three innings and the Yanks won 9-0 to take the game and the Series. In fact the Dodger ace had also been hammered in his previous start in game two giving up six run in 1 2/3 innings. His line for the Series was 0-1 while serving up 11 runs and 11 hits in 4 2/3 inning of work. Not exactly MVP caliber. However, he faced Mantle three times, walking him once and striking him out twice.

Seven years later it would again be the Dodgers and Yankees and by this time the Dodgers were in LA. MVP and Cy Young Award winner Sandy Koufax led the Dodgers while Yankee catcher Elston Howard wore the AL MVP crown.

This Series was dominated by Dodger pitching as LA swept the Yankees allowing them a total of four runs in four games and holding them to a team average of .171. In a Series which saw Mantle hit .133, Kubek hit .188, Pepitone hit .154 and Bobby Richardson hit .214; AL MVP Elston Howard went 5-15 (.333) including 3-8 (.375) against Koufax.

Sandy Koufax struck out a record 15 Yankees in game one of the ’63’ Series. He went 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA winning the Series MVP Award as well.

The most interesting MVP World Series matchup came in 1968, the last time it happened. What made it so interesting is the fact that the MVP’s were both pitchers.

This guy…..

Denny McClain, baseball’s last 30 game winner, went 31-6 in 1968 winning the AL Cy Young and MVP Awards.

And this guy…..

Bob Gibson registered a 1.12 ERA in 1968 leading St. Louis to their second straight World Series. Gibson and McClain are the only pitchers to garner both their leagues, Cy Young and MVP Awards in the same season.

“The Year of the Pitcher” is what 1968 came to be known and it led to the lowering of the mound. Carl Yastrzemski was the only AL player to hit .300 leading the junior circuit with a .301 average.

There was quite a buzz as Gibson and McClain faced off in game one of the World Series and that day belonged to Gibson as he shutout the Tigers 4-0. Seventeen Tigers went down on strikes a Gibson broke the World Series strikeout record set five years earlier by Sandy Koufax.

The two MVP’s went at each other in game four but not for long as McClain was gone after 2 2/3 having surrendered 4 runs and six hits as the Cardinals went on to thump Detroit 10-1. McClain batted once in each game against Gibson, striking out in game one and popping out to first in game four. Gibson stood in three times against McClain striking out and laying down a sacrifice bunt in game one and grounding out to short in game four.

They didn’t face each other again in the Series as Detroit came back from a three to one deficit to win it. And it was this guy who was the difference.

Mickey Lolich was the 1968 World Series MVP going 3-0 with three complete game wins and a 1.67 ERA.

With all the talk surrounding the phenomenal years of Bob Gibson and Denny McClain, the Tigers portly southpaw simply stole the show; putting an exclamation point on the Series and the season beating Gibson 4-1 in the seventh game.

So where does that leave us? Well, Kershaw and Trout’s faceoff last weekend was the ninth time an MVP pitcher faced an MVP batter following their MVP seasons. Eight of them occurred in the World Series and in those games, MVP hitters hit a collective .293 (17-58) with two home runs, six RBI and seven runs scored.

The best hitting performance was Cubs first baseman Phil Cavaretta beating up Detroit’s Hal Newhouser in the ’45’ Series going 6-9 (.667) with a homer, three ribbies and four runs scored.

Adding in Mike Trout taking the collar against Kershaw and the collective batting average dips to .279 but there is good news for both of them. For of the 16 previous MVP’s who squared off versus each other in the same season; 11 of them are in the Hall of Fame!

Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout, future Hall of Famers? A long way to go but they’re well on their way!

So what does it all mean? It means that once again Yogi, the three time MVP, was right!

“Pitching always beats batting — and vice-versa.”

And so it is on this day in Fenway history, August 7, 2015, the Red Sox 59th straight day in the cellar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Show Us The Future PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE…Pretty PLEASE…..

Henry Owens is here!!!!

He finally arrived last night making his debut in Yankee Stadium and overall it was a fairly impressive beginning for the 6’6″ southpaw. Physically sporting a tad of resemblance to Randy Johnson (mullet noted); the kid overcame a tough first inning; showed flashes of brilliance and ultimately took the loss.

Obviously a bit over amped in the first inning, Owens had trouble finding the plate and threw 34 pitches. After striking out Jacoby Ellsbury (remember him?), a single, a walk and a single put him behind 1-0. A visit from pitching coach Carl Willis was followed by a Brian McCann line out to center and a Carlos Beltran pop foul and the kid had his first big league inning under his belt.

Chase Headley led off the second with a single following which Owens became a big leaguer. The next 12 Yankees went down and in the fifth his mates grabbed two runs to give him the lead.

He threw 34 pitches in the first, 17 in the second and then threw a combined total of 37 in the third, fourth and fifth.

Jackie Bradley Jr. had a great at bat in the fifth, battling back from a 0-2 count to get to 3-2 and hitting a sacrifice fly giving Owens and the Sox a 2-1 lead in the fifth.

Coming out for the sixth, Owens faltered hanging a slider to Chris Young who lined a single to left and then leaving a pitch up to Alex Rodriquez who doubled putting men on second and third. By the way, a great defensive play by Bradley kept Young from scoring.

Sox manager John Farrell comes with the hook for Owens in the sixth.

So Henry Owens’ long awaited arrival came and went last night in Yankee Stadium. His line, not really all that impressive; 5 innings pitched, 3 earned runs, 5 hits, a walk and 5 strikeouts. His ERA this morning is 5.40.

Within that line however was 12 straight Yankees going down and going down in an impressive manner on a mixture of Owens’ arsenal of fastball, curve, slider and change.

I, for one, want to see more! I want to see more of him, in fact I would have liked to have seen him try and pitch out of the jam he created in the sixth. I want to see more of Bradley Jr., I want to see more of Brian Johnson.

                                                                                           Brian Johnson

Conversely, I’m tired of a few things as well.

I am tired of David Ortiz never running beyond a home run trot. Has he not figured out that it only works when you hit a home run? Not on a ground ball to the right side. Oh and did you notice last night? He was doubled off of first base on a line drive, back to the pitcher and the best part; he was NOT BEING HELD ON!!!! Yikes.

I’m tired of watching this….Nuf Ced!

I am tired of the fragility that is Clay Buchholz.

I am tired of the performance, or lack there of, of the bullpen. And for that matter what do you think of the idea put forth in the spring that all the starters could be aces? Really?

The Red Sox are 47-60 on pace to equal last years stellar record of 71-91. That will mean for three of the last four years they will have cracked the 90+ loss barrier. Do you know how far back you have to go to the last time that happened? All the way back to 1964, ’65’ and ’66’! That’s right, the days of :Arnold Early , Ed Connolly, Dick Stuart, Lou Clinton, Jim Gosger, Bob Duliba, Don Demeter, Dick Stigman and Pete Magrini. The days when Mike Higgins sat in the GM’s chair and Billy Herman skippered on the field.

Not that anyone has asked but this is what I want to see the rest of the summer. Put Johnson and Owens in the rotation with Rodriquez. Keep Wright there and of course Porcello. Maybe he’ll find some semblance of himself.

Take Joe Kelly and say, “look kid, let’s try you in the bullpen.” See if he can be turned into a one inning guy! I don’t care which inning but good Lord it seems worth the effort. Maybe just having to focus it all to get three outs could be helpful to the kid! Maybe try the same with Masterson. Could it be worse?

                                                         Could Joe Kelly be a future closer? Worth a try!!!

I want Jackie Bradley Jr. to get the rest of the year as the centerfielder. I want to see if in fact he can become a .250-.270 big league hitter! The fact is that they set him back by rushing him to fill Ellsbury’s slot; he’s worked his kiesta off to get back and I think they owe him a shot, a real shot! What’s to lose? 92 games? When Mookie comes back put him at second!

I’m not a big, big fan of Castillo but he’s paid so let’s see what he can do. Truth is, I’ve seen high school hitters with a better approach than him.

I’d also like to see Hanley play some first base. Oh, but he doesn’t want to. UGH!!!!

And I would love to see, love to see David Ortiz RUN!!!!!! Play the game the way it should be played David! You’re better than that!

That’s all for now….. But please, please, please….Give us a glimpse of the future!!! PLEASE!!! The present is just too damned ugly!

And so it is on this day in Fenway history, August 5, 2015; the 57th straight day in the cellar!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reflections on a Parade…..

I am back in Florida, arriving Wednesday following two days of driving which included the wonder of the Shenandoah Valley. There is a serenity in weaving through mountain roads and for good measure I encountered a thunder storm or two, a rainbow, a double one actually and a veteran of WW II, Korea and Vietnam in a line in a Pennsylvania grocery store!

I was in Cooperstown last weekend and as always came away reinforced that there is nothing quite like Induction Weekend and baseball is the single greatest thing America has exported. It is truly a festival of baseball. Many times I have visited during the joy and celebration of this special time; but on this particular weekend I did something I’d never done….I stayed for the Saturday night parade!!

And I will not miss another one!

Never really a big fan of the parade, any parade, I always cut out before and all I have to say about that is, I was a dope!

I spent the day at a table outside of this lovely little Cooperstown establishment.

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Just opened two weeks ago, this wonderful place is a welcome addition to the Cooperstown landscape.

I left my brother’s home in Duxbury Massachusetts at 4:30 AM arriving in Cooperstown at 9:10. I set up and was ready to go by 10 and the day unfolded.

As the crowd grew throughout the day I was struck by the amount of folks who were bedecked in the orange of the Houston Astros.

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       “Bee Gee O…..Bee Gee O…..Bee Gee O…..Bee Gee O…..Bee Gee O…..Bee Gee O.”

And the vast majority of those orange shirts bore the number 7 under the name Biggio! These people were celebrating and they had every right to do so. Craig Biggio was the first career Astro to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Throughout the day someone would spontaneously chant “Bee Gee O” and they all would join in the tribute! They were warm, they were proud and they were friendly.

There is one common thread which runs through everybody present and that is their passion for the game of baseball. There is a love of the game which permeates the air with gratitude and appreciation. And for this, sometimes cynical bird, it is refreshing.

I would not appreciate just how refreshing until that little boy who still lives in me, stood on his chair to watch the parade.

For those of you who have never been to Cooperstown; Main Street runs uphill. It covers about four blocks and at the top of the hill across from the post office sits the Hall of Fame.

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                                                      The center of town.

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                     The Hall of Fame is on the right at the top of the hill.

The parade began about six o’clock and each Hall of Famer who participates rides in the back of a truck either alone or with his spouse and/or family. They come through the center of town in the order of their years of induction; essentially oldest to youngest. As they are making their way up the hill, the parade’s emcee is in the center giving a synopsis of his career. And as they get to the center of town, he announces their name. It’s perfect!

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Leading off the parade was Whitey Ford and his wife of 64 years Joan. They made their first Cooperstown parade ride in 1974.

They then followed in a steady stream as a whos who of baseball greats echoing across the mountains and the decades of baseball’s landscape.

The Red Sox were well represented as their contingency made it’s way through downtown.

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               Carlton and Linda Fisk made their fist parade ride in 2000.

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                    Dennis and Jennifer Eckersley. “Eck” was inducted in 2004.

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        Wade and Debbie Boggs made their first journey up Main Street in 2005.

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                     Jim and Corine Rice and family. Rice was inducted in 2009.

As the names rung out and the crowd cheered, the Astros crowd gave a deafening cheer when this guy came by.

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Nolan and Ruth Ryan. Ryan was elected in 1999, name on 98.79% of the ballots; second highest percentage of votes in Hall of Fame history.

And with the passage of each enshrined all time great, the anticipation of the arrival of this year’s inductees grew.

And then something very interesting happened.

The emcee stopped talking, there was no career synopsis and at the bottom of the hill, the chant began “Bee Gee O, Bee Gee O” and then there he was in the center of town and the chant, the cheers were deafening!!!

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Craig and Patty Biggio make their first trip up Main Street in Cooperstown New York.

The joy on the face of Biggio and his wife Patty was matched only by all of the Houston fans who shared it. And I proudly proclaim it brought a tear to my eye and goose bumps to my skin; as once again I was filled with gratitude! Good Lord do I love this game

Following Biggio and riding alone came the “Big Unit”.

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The intensity he brought to his camera made me smile as I watched. No one who ever saw Randy Johnson throughout the years would describe him as a warm and fuzzy type of guy. However, watching him videoing literally every second of his ride up Main Street told me something different. He wanted to capture every face, every shout, every cheer and I imagine that there will be many a night when Randy Johnson will watch this day and remember! And he will smile!

As Johnson was making his way past me I could hear the crowd down the street a ways; “Pedro, Pedro, Pedro, Pedro”.

He was not the intimidating figure we all saw on the mound. He was not that relentless fiery competitor who refused to let up, refused to give in. He was not that undersized big leaguer who carried a chip on his shoulder to keep his edge; he was none of those.

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No he was none of those. I did however recognize immediately who he was….

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He was a 10 year old boy sitting under a mango tree in the Dominican.

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And he was celebrating……Celebrating not only for him, but for all from his native Dominican who, because of him, have hope.

I know that 10 year old boy and because of baseball I get to keep him around. He may get lost at times but I can always count on baseball to find him.

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                                  John and Kathryn Smoltz ended the parade.

And as I watched the parade fade out of sight I was wistfully taken by each of this years four inductees. I was taken by their joy; born of accomplishment and the recognition of same. The satisfaction that comes from the highest validation their profession can give and how that satisfaction showed in that joy. And yet, in the midst of that joy, that recognition, that validation their was a humility that as palpable.

Last Saturday I did something I had never done before. I stayed to watch a parade! I won’t miss another one!!! Only next year I’ll share it!

May I hope!!!!

And so it is on this day in Fenway history, July 31, 2015, reflection day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Magical History Tour Continues…..ADAMS DAY!

Yesterday our personal Magical History Tour continued. It was ADAMS Day which included Jake and Brady ADAMS, along with cousins, Addy, “Yeagan” and Quinn visiting the Abigail ADAMS house in North Weymouth, the birth houses of both John ADAMS and John Quincy ADAMS in Quincy Massachusetts and the ADAMS estate on ADAMS street also in Quincy Massachusetts.

Abigail ADAMS, wife of our second president and mother to our sixth president was born in this edifice on November 22, 1744. The home is situated on the grounds of the Old North Cemetery in my home town of Weymouth Massachusetts.

We began our Magical History Tour here and to my dismay there was nobody there, the place was locked and there were no signs of operation, openings, closings. Just an air of less than indifference. And as we peeked in the one window we could around the back, nowhere could we see the picture of Senator John Kennedy signing the guestbook in 1958. Disappointing!

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Sorry Abigail, you deserved better than that!

Undaunted we moved forward and it was over the Fore River Bridge and on to Quincy.

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The Fore River Shipyard opened in 1893 and closed in 1986. During that time hundreds of ships were built, one of which, whose name I’ve forgotten, I saw christened as a kid!

When the 1918 baseball season was shortened and players had to seek employment in “essential industries”, Red Sox pitcher and outfielder Babe Ruth consideration working here and playing on their baseball team. He ended up playing a few games in Lebanon Pennsylvania.

1918 Bethlehem Steel Team Photo with Joe Jackson , Babe Ruth, Rogers Hornsby Photo

Babe Ruth, back row third from left on the Bethlehem Steel Team in Lebanon PA, 1918. Shoeless Joe is kneeling, third rom left in front of Babe.

We arrived at the ADAMS estate on ADAMS street and hopped the ADAMS trolley….

to the birth houses.

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Keeping busy waiting for the trolley or the “tain” as Quinny called it.

John ADAMS was born in the upstairs room (top right) on October 30, 1735.

John ADAMS sat for this portrait at 88. It hangs in the ADAMS house on ADAMS Street.

John Quincy ADAMS was: the first president to be photographed, the only president to return to serve in the Congress after serving as president and he actually died in the Capital Building. He rose from his desk to speak and suffered a stroke. That desk is on display in the library at the ADAMS estate on ADAMS street in Quincy.

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The troops listening to the remarkable story of the ADAMS family.

It was heartwarming to see these young minds absorbed in the stories of the ADAMS’. It has always been and will remain, my contention that people love history they just don’t know it! For all it is, is stories and we all love stories. Watching the attentiveness of my troops ranging in age from 12 to 3 as they were regaled with the ADAMS story was delightful.

And we were not even close to done! For it was back to the main house and when we arrived we learned that we had our own special tour of the big house!

the kids and Carol

Carol took us through the house and made every one of those kids feel how special and important was the house, all that was in it and for them to continue to tell the ADAMS story.

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A splendid time was had by all and each kid had their thing they liked the best! Brady liked the gardens and the John Quincy ADAMS library at the big house. Jake liked the visit to the Hingham Shipyard where he looked out over the water where shipbuilders worked round the clock turning out ships to stop the madness of Hitler and Hirohito. Addy liked the kitchen sink at the big house. “Yeagan” also liked the library as well as the portrait (seen above) of John Adams which hung in his living room. The eyes followed you throughout. Quinny summed it up the best; she just liked being with her cousins, Jake and Brady, the ADAMS boys.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox continued their fall into the abyss of 2015 and as a diversion I took a tip toe backwards to find that in the entire history of the franchise, there have been two players who bore the great American name of ADAMS.

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Bob ADAMS pitched two games for the Red Sox in 1925. He pitched 5 2/3 innings, gave up five runs, 10 hits had one strikeout and three walks. He’d fit right in with this year’s staff.

The other one….

Terry ADAMS had an 11 year career and pitched in 19 games for the 2004 World Champion Red Sox; going 2-0 with a 6.00 ERA in 27 innings pitched. He joined them on July 25th and beat the Angels and Orioles in September.

Neither of them was as good as John, or John Quincy or Abigail!!!

Oh and the best part of the day for me…..

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Quinny calling everybody in for hugs!!!!

And so it is on this day in Fenway history, ADAMS day, July 23, 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hanley, Papi and a Man They Called Yaz…..

The 2015 Red Sox officially, unequivocally and beyond the shadow of any possible doubt expired last night in Houston Texas.

What remains is to now find out who can be part of the 2016 solution. The first thing that should happen is that Hanley Ramirez should move to first base and see if he becomes a solution piece for “16′.

All warm and fuzzy when he signed, what was it 111 years ago? Oh no just last fall. Hanley agreed to play left field. He has balked at the suggestion of playing first base becoming the second Red Sox player to nix being a first baseman in only two weeks.

You remember Big Papi said he couldn’t go out there, “didn’t want to”, was “too old”, yada, yada, yada…..

This morning as I went for my morning coffee my mind began to wander to a time when players were, well different. Now I have been told by some that I’m turning into one of those , “well back in my day” types and if that is the case then so be it; for this morning I ask you to harken back with me to those thrilling days of yesteryear.

The year is 1973…August to be exact, the 21st to be even more exact. Following a 15-9 win in Texas, the Sox were in third place, 4 games behind the Orioles and a half game behind the Tigers.

Rico Petrocelli, the Sox regular third baseman was felled in early August and would spend the remainder of the season on the DL. This created a vacuum at third and manager Eddie Kasko filled the void with the likes of John Kennedy, Buddy Hunter and Danny Cater.

This trio simply was not getting it done and as the void deepened up stepped Yaz. “I’ll do it” he told the skipper and on August 24th (two days after his 34th birthday) he took the field at third base. Now mind you, Yaz played shortstop in high school as had/has most big leaguers both then and now; and he had a stint at third in the majors. Two games in 1964.

 

 

Undaunted, he took extra infield with Eddie Popowski pounding ground ball after ground ball at him at third. Yaz played the remainder of the season at third base. He was not Brooks Robinson but he was more than respectable.

It was during this time that Big Bro and I decided we had to see Yankee Stadium before its renovation. So we drove down from Boston for the night game September 12th.

Yaz was at third, Rogelio Moret was on the mound. We arrived as soon as the park opened and to be among the first people to walk into a virtually empty Yankee Stadium was a moment that will live forever in my memory.

Moret and Lindy McDaniel were locked in a scoreless duel into the fourth when Tommy Harper led off with a single, stole second and went to third on a single by Luis Aparicio. This brought up Yaz. Luis stole second and with men on second and third Yaztrzemski deposited a bomb deep into the right field seats giving the Sox a 3-0 lead.

Yaz would do it again in the sixth, this time a two run shot with Aparicio aboard giving the Sox a 5-0 advantage. They won that game 7-1 and I still have the program complete with PENCILED autographs of Carlton Fisk, Ray Culp and Bill Lee.

But this morning I have the memory of a time when a player would simply say, “I’ll do it Skip”.

So David, Hanley and whomever……How about stepping up and giving a little more thought to the name on the front of the jersey!!!

David…Take more than love from Yaz, he was the ultimate grinder…..Learn from him. Oh yea never mind, you don’t really think those guys from back in the day were all that good; after all if you couldn’t do it, nobody could….Right?

Another story for another day.

And so it is on this day in Fenway Park History, funeral day for the ’15’ Sox.

 

 

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Where the Past Meets the Future…..

While the Red Sox were alternately napping with their bats and dancing with the raindrops this weekend in Anaheim; and subsequently getting drubbed by a collective 18-4 in a Monday doubleheader; I, along with some very special peeps, took a ride in…..

Mr. Peabody’s “Way Back Machine.”

First a little background. When my kids were little I regularly orchestrated what were called “Mystery Rides.” Now a mystery ride could or would include me and up to nine or ten kids. Four or five of them mine, the remainder nieces and nephews. It was not uncommon for me to load up Auntie Nancy’s banged up “beach wagon” with a loaf of bread, peanut butter and jelly, drinks and we were off. They usually involved some historical perspective and, if we traveled far enough, we would let some of Uncle Steven’s birds go for a training flight home.

The cast of characters has been added to and now we go out to lunch but the constant common denominator is the history flavor. Last week I wrote about a trip to visit Myles Standish with my girls. Well my boys arrived from Florida last week so this weekend they were added to the mix.

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The cast; Quinn(3), Addy(8), Jake(12), Reagan(6) and Brady(8).

Oh and their Moms were there too, no ages please.

We began here…..

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This is where JFK spent the first three years of his life. It was designated as a National Landmark on May 26, 1964, three days before what would have been his 47th birthday. The family repurchased the home in 1966 and for the next three years Rose Kennedy worked at restoring the house to how it was in the years JFK was a toddler. It was opened to the public in 1969.

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Daughter #2 helps Reagan set up her Junior Ranger booklet while Addy and Brady appear ready to go.

There is a special flavor to this tour, especially for kids. It begins on the front porch with a presentation of a series of photos of JFK as a kid. The first taken in the front yard. It encompasses the first three years of his life and he is thus referred to throughout as “Jack.”

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                 Heather shows the kids one of “Jack’s” favorite books, Billy Whiskers.

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       John F Kennedy was born in this bed by the window on May 29, 1917 at 3 PM.

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The kids got a kick out of the kitchen with NO REFRIDERATOR and the fact that the Kennedy Family ate Boston Baked Beans, cooked on that very stove, every Saturday night with some leftovers served with Sunday breakfast.

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Papa got a kick learning that, in Boston Society back in the day, a young woman would bring to her marriage, bathroom towels monogrammed with her maiden name; and they would be replaced with her married initials. Oh and Papa also liked the fact that all clocks in the house were set for 3:00, the time of the future president’s birth.

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The tour lasted about 40 minutes which was perfect for the kids and each of them made the grade and were named Junior Rangers equipped with badges, stickers and certificates!

A little over two miles from JFK’s place lay another landmark of historical significance.

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Being one for marking moments; Papa was not going to miss the opportunity to introduce the kids to some of Boston’s all time greats.

So we made our way down Yawkey Way….

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And then on to Van Ness Street. I told Jake about the 2004 World Series and that we pushed him in a stroller around the park as we were absorbing the joy of what was taking place.

I wanted a picture of all my cherubs and I at the Ted Williams Statue. This work of art holds  special significance to me as those of you who read this blog may remember. It involves the sculptor Franc Talarico who was my neighbor in Venice Florida. That story is told in several parts within this blog.

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Anyway things looked bleak as there was a contrarian in the group and it appeared as if a mutiny was on our hands.

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But alas……Mutiny quelled and Papa’s moment was marked!

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And my team stood with The Teammates while Yaz looked on bringing a smile to Papa’s heart.

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And just to connect the past with the future, I took a snapshot of one of Dad’s all time favorite players, Domenic DiMaggio, the Little Professor.

Recently my brother and I were discussing that expression about, you know, the autumn of your life, the winter of your life. We, with the help of his son Marc, actually put a mathematical equation to it and here’s what we came up with, I’m actually in early autumn, about September 25th. Not bad!!! Willie is putting on his snow boots.

With each passing day, each passing season I am reminded how very fragile and finite is our existence and on the rare occasions when all the grandkids are gathered I simply step back and watch them interact. My troops are separated by 1500 miles so seeing them together is something special. The times together may be brief but they are rich! Being with them can brighten even the darkest days and during this most tumultuous summer of my “Early Autumn” this crew has brought me light and I am grateful for their energy.

So as the Red Sox flounder and try to decide if they’re selling or buying; living or dying I will chase one of these…..

Take another trip here…..

And best of all, gather up those youngins for one more mystery ride where I promise to take them “Where the past meets the future”.

                And so it is on this dismal day in Fenway Park history, July 21,2015.

 

 

 

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