This day in baseball: Willie Mays’s opening season streak

On April 6, 1971 at San Diego Stadium (later known as Jack Murphy Stadium), Willie Mays of the San Francisco Giants hit a home run in the first inning off Tom Phoebus of the Padres on Opening Day. This blast marked the beginning of an historic streak in which Mays hit home runs in each of the Giants’ first four games, setting a major league record. The record would later be tied by Mark McGwire (1998), Nelson Cruz (2011), and Chris Davis (2013).

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This day in baseball: Moises Alou signs with the Giants

On December 27, 2004, the San Francisco Giants signed free-agent outfielder Moises Alou to a one-year contract with an option for a second year. The Cubs refused to offer arbitration and let Alou go following the 2004 season, citing numerous fights with umpires. Alou’s signing with San Francisco marked the second time he would be managed by his father, Felipe, who was also his skipper when playing with the Expos from 1992-1996.

Moises_Alou 2005 - Wikipedia
Moises Alou, 2005 (Wikipedia)

RIP Joe Morgan

Legendary second baseman Joe Morgan played Major League Baseball for the Houston Astros, Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, and Oakland Athletics from 1963 to 1984. Over the course of his career, Morgan won two World Series championships with the Reds in 1975 and 1976 and was also named the National League MVP in each of those years. Morgan was also a ten-time All-Star, a five-time Gold Glove winner, and won the Silver Slugger award in 1982. Morgan was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990, and he has also been inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame and the Astros Hall of Fame.

Joe Morgan died on October 11, 2020 in Danville, California at the age of 77.

Rest in peace.

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Joe Morgan, 1973 (Baseball Hall of Fame)

“Ode to the Mets,” The Strokes

I was a big fan of The Strokes through my time in college and grad school, but I haven’t paid much attention to them in recent years.  So my thanks goes out to Jackie, a.k.a. The Baseball Bloggess, for sharing this gem with me!

The lyrics of this song look back at the band’s career and their history in New York City, where they grew up together. The title of the song, of course, references the New York Mets, whom lead singer Julian Casablancas calls the team of his youth. Casablancas wrote the song after the Mets lost Game 7 of the 2016 NL Wild Card to the San Francisco Giants — a loss that exacerbated the frustrations of fans of a team that has not won a World Series since 1986. The band views the name as symbolic, with the Mets representing something that you set your heart on, but that continues to disappoint.

“Spring Training,” by Lynn Rigney Schott

I’m still holding out hope that Spring Training won’t be the only baseball we get this year.  In the meantime, we look for other ways to stay engaged with baseball.  This piece by Lynn Rigney Schott was first published in The New Yorker on March 26, 1984.  The author’s father, Bill Rigney, had played Major League Baseball with the New York Giants from 1946 to 1953.  He then went on to serve as the manager for the Giants, making him their last manager in New York as well as the team’s first manager when they moved to San Francisco.  Rigney would also manage the Los Angeles/California Angels and the Minnesota Twins.

*

The last of the birds has returned —
the bluebird, shy and flashy.
The bees carry fat baskets of pollen
from the alders around the pond.
The wasps in the attic venture downstairs,
where they congregate on warm windowpanes.
Every few days it rains.

This is my thirty-fifth spring;
still I am a novice at my work,
confused and frightened and angry.
Unlike me, the buds do not hesitate,
the hills are confident they will be
perfectly reflected
in the glass of the river.

I oiled my glove yesterday.
Half the season is over.
When will I be ready?

On my desk sits a black-and-white postcard picture
of my father — skinny, determined,
in a New York Giants uniform —
ears protruding, eyes riveted.
Handsome, single-minded, he looks ready.

Thirty-five years of warmups.
Like glancing down at the scorecard
in your lap for half a second
and when you look up it’s done —
a long fly ball, moonlike,
into the night
over the fence,
way out of reach.

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Bill Rigney, 1953 (Wikipedia)

This day in baseball: Maury Wills named MVP

Dodger shortstop Maury Wills was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player on November 23, 1962.  Wills stole a record 104 bases during the season, leading Los Angeles to 102 victories.  Unfortunately, the Dodgers fell short of the pennant in a three-game tie-breaker series against San Francisco, losing two games to one.

Maury Wills
Maury Wills (California Historical Society)

“Be A Believer in Giant/Dodger/Philly Fever,” The Paid Attendance

I came across these somewhat randomly this weekend: three songs by a group called The Paid Attendance.  So far as I have been able to tell, these are the only three songs by this group, and I have only been able to find audio for two of them.  That being said, I suppose it’s not really a big deal that I cannot find audio for the third, as it would likely just fall in line with the other two songs.  First off, here’s “Be A Believer in Giant Fever,” released in 1978.

The group must have had a thing for New-York-teams-gone-California, because in 1979, they put one out for the Dodgers.

The third song, for which I have not been able to find audio online, appears to be the same song with a Philly twist: “Be A Believer in Philly Fever.”

I am curious as to whether the original intention was to put out a version for each team in the majors.  If so, they didn’t get very far into the process.  Whatever the intention, I did find the Giants and Dodgers versions fun to listen to.  It’s the kind of song that makes you want to do a little jig while you brush your teeth in the morning.