R.I.P. Don Larsen

Don Larsen is perhaps best known for pitching the only post-season perfect game in Major League Baseball history, accomplishing the feat in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.  He won the World Series MVP Award and Babe Ruth Award in recognition of his pitching during that postseason.

Larsen was born on August 7, 1929 in Michigan City, Indiana.  He passed away in Hayden, Idaho yesterday, January 1, 2020 from of esophageal cancer.

Rest in peace.

 


This day in baseball: The Yomiuri Giants are formed

On December 26, 1934, Matsutaro Shoriki, the head of Yomiuri Newspapers in Japan, announced the formation of Japan’s first professional team, the Tokyo-based Yomiuri Giants.  The team consisted of players signed to compete against the American all-star team (originally called the Great Japan Tokyo Baseball Club).  However, professional league play, with six teams, would not begin until 1936 with the formation of the Japanese Baseball League.

Today, the Yomiuri Giants are considered “The New York Yankees of Japan” due to their widespread popularity, historical dominance of the league, and their polarizing effect on fans.

Yomiuri_giants_insignia

Yomiuri Giants insignia (Wikipedia)


This day in baseball: Carl Mays sold to Reds

Yankees submarine pitcher Carl Mays was sold to the Reds for $85,000 on December 23, 1923.  Mays had a personality that tended to clash with most people, and he never really got along with manager Miller Huggins in New York.  Mays would go 49-34 in Cincinnati before ending his career with the New York Giants.

Carl Mays

sabr.org


Mickey Mantle: The Definitive Story

I can’t help but chuckle inwardly a little bit whenever a documentary or book declares itself “definitive” or something similar (really, can any biographical account ever truly be  definitive?).  Nevertheless, this documentary on Mickey Mantle is a good one, and a person can get a good solid overview of his life and career from it.

Even better, if you find yourself unable to get your hands on a copy, you can watch the film through YouTube.


This day in baseball: MVP Jeter

On October 26, 2000, Derek Jeter was named World Series MVP, making him the first player to win both All-Star Game MVP and World Series MVP in the same season.  Jeter hit .409 in the World Series that year, including two doubles, a triple, and a couple of home runs to help the Yankees win four games to one over the New York Mets.

Derek Jeter

Wikimedia Commons


Quote of the day

The Yankees are only interested in one thing, and I have no idea what that is.

~Luis Polonia

luis polonia


“Destiny, Ah Fate, Mighty Reggie has Struck Out!”, by Jules Loh

The 1978 World Series pitted the defending champion New York Yankees against the Los Angeles Dodgers in a rematch of the previous year’s World Series.  Although the Dodgers won the first two games of the Series, the Yankees swept the next four, winning in six games to repeat as champions.

The Series featured some memorable confrontations between Dodgers rookie pitcher Bob Welch and Reggie Jackson of the Yankees.  In Game 2, Welch struck Jackson out in the top of the ninth with two outs and the tying and go-ahead runs on base to end the game.  In Game 4, Jackson avenged the strikeout when he singled off Welch to advance Roy White to second, allowing White to eventually score the game winning run on a Lou Piniella single.  In Game 6, Jackson hit a two-run homer off Welch in the seventh inning to increase the Yankees’ lead to 7–2 and solidify the Yankees’ victory to win the Series.

The poem below was written by AP correspondent Jules Loh.  In a tribute to the famous “Casey At the Bat” verse, Loh writes about Jackson’s Game 2 strikeout to Welch to end the game.

*

The outlook wasn’t brilliant
for the Yankees in L.A.
The score stood 4-3, two out,
one inning left to play.
But when Dent slid safe at second
and Blair got on at first
Every screaming Dodger fan had
cause to fear the worst.
For there before the multitude —
Ah destiny! Ah fate!
Reggie Jackson, mighty Reggie,
was advancing to the plate.
Reggie, whose three home runs
had won the year before,
Reggie, whose big bat tonight
fetched every Yankee score.
On the mound to face him
stood the rookie, young Bob Welch.
A kid with a red hot fastball —
Reggie’s pitch — and nothing else.
Fifty-thousand voices cheered
as Welch gripped ball in mitt.
One hundred thousand eyes watched Reggie rub his bat and spit.
“Throw your best pitch, kid, and duck,” Reggie seemed to say.
The kid just glared. He must have
known this wasn’t Reggie’s day.
His fist pitch was a blazer.
Reggie missed it clean
Fifty-thousand throats responded
with a Dodger scream.
They squared off, Reggie and the kid, each knew what he must do.
And seven fastballs later,
the count was three and two.
No shootout on a dusty street
out here in the Far West
Could match the scene:
A famous bat,
a kid put to the test.
One final pitch. The kid reared back
and let a fastball fly.
Fifty-thousand Dodger fans
gave forth one final cry…
Ah, the lights still shine on Broadway,
but there isn’t any doubt
The Big Apple has no joy left.
Mighty Reggie has struck out.