Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Doug Clark, ex-major leaguer receives 50 game suspension in Mexican League

Doug Clark, a former major league outfielder with the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics, was named as one of three Mexican Leaguers players that tested positive for using performance enhancing drugs. The results of Clark’s drug test indicated the use of norandrosterone, a form of anabolic steroids. He will receive a 50-game suspension during the 2015 season for his violation of their drug abuse policies.

Doug Clark playing in 2014 for the Mexico City Red Devils

Clark's suspension is an abrupt turn from his feelings on steroid use in Marty Dobrow's 2010, "Knocking on Heaven's Door: Six Minor Leaguers in Search of the Baseball Dream."


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Documents reveal the accounting behind Negro League baseball

Negro League teams barnstormed the country not only in search of the next game to play, but the next paycheck as well. Clubs would routinely play multiple games per day to maximize their earning potential while the sun was still shining. Recently, due to the finds of collector and memorabilia dealer Jim Stinson, individual game ledgers have surfaced showing how each club split the gate at games.
Joe Black - Baltimore Elite Giants

In one document dated July 18, 1950, the carefully calculated accounting for a game between the Birmingham Black Barons and the Baltimore Elite Giants showed not only the attendance, but the divisions for taxes, the league's percentage, as well as what was paid to both the home club and visitors. The visiting Elite Giants split $164.29, which amounted to approximately $10 per man, furthering their impetus to play as often as possible. Baseball fans might recognize the signature of the Elite Giants representative Joe Black, who won the 1952 Rookie of the Year Award with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

1950 Ledger with Joe Black

1950 Ledger with Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe
1942 Black Barons vs Memphis Red Sox Ledger

1942 Black Barons vs Memphis Red Sox Ledger




1950 Black Barons vs Houston Eagles Ledger signed by Bob Harvey

1950 Black Barons vs Buckeyes Ledger signed by George Jefferson



Sunday, January 18, 2015

Video: Satchel Paige pitching in 1957 with Miami Marlins

The whirling wonder Satchel Paige was still knocking them down as he entered his 50s as a member of the Miami Marlins. The Marlins were a AAA club in the International League operated by Paige's long time supporter, Bill Veeck. Recently video has surfaced of Paige pitching with the Marlins from Labor Day in 1957, when he spun a shutout against the Havana Cubans.
Satchel Paige - Miami Marlins

Below is the video from the Wolfson Archive, showing Paige not only pitching, but making his way to the plate as well. Rare footage indeed of the legendary hurler. You will also find the September 11, 1957 issue of The Sporting News mentioning Paige's shutout of Havana.





Ed Charles honors the memory of Gil Hodges at the 2015 Queens Baseball Convention

Ed Charles was honored with the Gil Hodges Unforgettable Fire Award at the 2015 Queens Baseball Convention.

Ed Charles at the 2015 QBC / N. Diunte
The ceremony was led by Greg Prince of Faith and Fear in Flushing, who presented Charles with the award in honor of his former manager. Once Prince finished introducing "The Glider," Charles needed little help capturing the attention of the crowd. The 81-year-old Charles thrilled the listeners with stories of how Hodges' arrival in Flushing turned the tide for the New York Mets, running the club with a firm grasp that quickly shaped up a struggling franchise.

At approximately 35 minutes into the interview, I posed a question to Charles about playing with Satchel Paige on the 1965 Kansas City Athletics. He told not one, but two different stories about playing both with Satchel in his last game in the majors, but also against him in 1961 in Portland (which he told to me during this 2013 interview).

It is always a treat not only to hear stories about the ageless Satchel Paige, but to hear Charles speak, as he holds a key to a lot of baseball's history as the elder statesman from the 1969 team.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Negro Leaguer Jim Zapp no longer able to accept fan mail

Jim Zapp 2010 Topps Allen and Ginter
Jim Zapp, an outfielder in the Negro Leagues from 1945-1954 with the Baltimore Elite Giants, Atlanta Black Crackers and Birmingham Black Barons is unfortunately no longer able to respond to his fan mail. Zapp is 90 years old and facing end stage Alzheimer's disease.

In a letter from his son Jim Zapp Jr., dated January 8, 2015, the younger Zapp states that due to his declining health, the family is politely asking for fans to no longer send autograph requests.

They are however, asking for any unsigned copies of his 2010 Topps Allen and Ginter baseball card (as pictured above). If you have any copies that you would like to send, please send me an e-mail and I help to facilitate the process.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Piazza, Bonds HOF worthy to former teammate

For Queens native Allen Watson, Tuesday’s Hall of Fame election should be a slam dunk for two of his former teammates, Barry Bonds and Mike Piazza.

“Two unbelievable players,” Watson said during an interview at a baseball clinic this past weekend in Glendale, New York. “Barry Bonds was the best player I’ve ever seen, and Piazza was a tremendous hitter. They both should be in the Hall of Fame.”

Watson starred locally at Christ the King High School in Middle Village and earned All-American honors at New York Tech, which led to a first-round selection by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1991 MLB draft. He played for six different teams in his eight-year big league career, with two of those stops providing Watson the opportunity to watch Bonds (Giants, 1996) and Piazza (Mets, 1999) operate up close and personal.

While Bonds didn’t tag Watson for one of his 762 home runs, Piazza hit an epic blast off of Watson in St. Louis in 1995 that looked like it was shot out of a cannon. Watson marveled not only at the speed at which Piazza's home run traveled, but the fact that shortstop Ozzie Smith almost had a chance to catch the ball.

“One time Mike Piazza hit a line drive and then [Ozzie Smith] leaped to get it — it went out of the stadium", h said. "He [Smith] almost caught it and it went out; that’s how hard Mike hit the ball.”

Despite both candidates’ resumes being clouded with allegations of steroid use, and Watson's own alleged steroid use in an affidavit by former teammate Jason Grimsley (which he vehemently denied), Watson said that none of the players from the steroid era should be excluded from the Hall of Fame because of the drug’s ubiquity during that time.

“Steroids were around for everybody back then,” he said, “so they should all be there, not just one guy. If one person was doing it, all right, but everyone was doing it, so they should be in there.”

Allen Watson with the San Francisco Giants

Bernard Fernandez, 96, pitched ten seasons in Negro Leagues

Bernard Fernandez, a pitcher in the Negro Leagues with the Philadelphia Stars, New York Black Yankees, Atlanta Black Crackers and Richmond Giants from 1938-1948, passed away in Las Vegas on November 19, 2014 at the age of 96.

Bernard Fernandez / Philadelphia Stars
In 2007, I had the opportunity to interview Fernandez at his home in Philadelphia, where we spoke for over an hour about his lengthy baseball career. He discussed his entry into the Negro Leagues and how he had to face the mighty Homestead Grays with Hall of Famers Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard in his Negro League debut. Fernandez went on to play ten seasons in the Negro Leagues, missing some time during World War II when he worked in a war defense job.

Parts of the interview were used for a full career retrospective published for Medium.com in their sports section, "The Cauldron."
Fernandez was also interviewed at length in Brent P. Kelley's "The Negro Leagues Revisited," which includes in-depth interviews with 66 different Negro League ballplayers, many of whom are sadly deceased.