Saturday, November 28, 2009

Negro Leaguer James "Red" Moore Honored with Hartland Statue

Former Negro League first baseman with the Baltimore Elite Giants, Newark Eagles and Atlanta Black Crackers, James "Red" Moore has been honored with a famed Hartland statue. The statue which is pictured above, comes autographed and is limited to 100 copies. Moore is 93 years old and one of the Negro Leagues living treasures, frequently making appearances in the Atlanta area to spread the history of Negro League Baseball. To get more information on the Hartland Statue, click here.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Book Review: Playing Ball with Legends: The Story and Stories of Don Lund

Playing Ball With LegendsPlaying Ball with Legends: The Story and the Stories of Don Lund
James Robert Irwin
Saint James Books, 2009
456 pages



When one thinks of Don Lund, what image comes to mind? Is it the first-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears? Perhaps one envisions the strapping outfielder for the Dodgers, Browns and Tigers. How about the head coach of the NCAA World Series Champion Michigan Wolverines? Baseball insiders might suggest it is the farm director of the Detroit Tigers.

James Robert Irwin would argue that it may be none of these, but the outstanding character of Lund, which is a constant theme throughout the book. Lund receives glowing praise from former teammates, players, coaches and executives.

While Irwin's work gives fine detail about Lund's playing career, it is the stories in between the lines about the lives he touched along the way and the journey he took to get there that makes the book worth reading.

It is evident that while writing this book that Irwin became great friends with Lund, at times the book reads as if it were not written by a biographer but a true friend with the utmost respect and admiration for the person whose life they're chronicling.

At over 450 pages, "Playing Ball with Legends" will keep you occupied for quite awhile as you read about Lund's 60-year involvement with athletics from the sandlots of Detroit, through the legendary grounds of Ebbets Field, to his retirement from his position as Associate Athletic Director at the University of Michigan.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Audio Interview with Hall of Famer Wahoo Sam Crawford

From the audio archives of Lawrence Ritter's The Glory of Their Times, I found an interview with Hall of Famer Wahoo Sam Crawford about how he made his way on to the Cincinnati Reds in 1899. The interview was done in 1964. There is also audio of Ritter's interviews with Hans Lobert and Jimmy Austin. Take a moment to listen to the actual stories told by the players that played during the turn of the 20th century. If you haven't read Ritter's book, I suggest that you do; it's a highly regarded classic.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Kropf gave up center field for Willie Mays

I recently wrote an article on Ridgewood, Queens native Johnny Kropf, who was an outfielder at the AAA level for 11 seasons with the Giants and White Sox organizations. He gave up centerfield in 1951 while playing with the Minneapolis Millers to a young star in the making, Willie Mays. While he was there, he was teammates with two other Hall of Famers, Ray Dandridge and Hoyt Wilhelm. Kropf speaks on his experiences playing with the aforementioned legends and his travels from Class D ball to AAA. Click here to read the Times-Ledger article on Kropf.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bob Dillinger, 91, Former St. Louis Brown 1918-2009

Former St. Louis Browns infielder and World War II veteran Bob Dillinger passed away November 7, 2009 at the age of 91. Dillinger led the American League in hits in 1948 with 207, was an A.L. All-Star in 1949, and was the A.L. stolen base champion for three consecutive seasons (1947-1949). Dillinger played 6 seasons total in the Majors Leagues for the Browns, Athletics, Pirates and White Sox.

In a 2003 interview with Bob Kuenster in Baseball Digest Dillinger, reflected on his All-Star and wartime playing experiences. "We played hard and played to win. You wanted to do good," he said. "Even though it was my first and only All-Star game, I played in those types of games before. During the war, I played on the special service team with guys like Joe DiMaggio, Ferris Fain, Jerry Priddy and other big leaguers. I played center field for DiMaggio's club in Guam in front of 40,000 troops."

In 2006, Ronnie Joyner and Bill Bozman wrote Dillinger's autobiography, entitled "He Hits! He Steals! He's Bob Dillinger!" Autographed copies of the book are available from the Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society.

Winning Beyond Winning's 2009 Gil Hodges Legacy Dinner Recap


Winning Beyond Winning held their annual Gil Hodges Legacy Dinner this past week at the Chateau Briand in Long Island. Winning Beyond Winning is an charity organization headed by former New York Yankee Rusty Torres and Tom Sabellico that prepares athletes for their careers after their sports participation and provides outreach to school-aged children on the benefits of healthy living that can be achieved through participation in sports. Over 200 supporters turned out for the evening's festivities.

This year's Gil Hodges Dinner was a tribute to the 1969 New York Mets, and featured appearances by Bud Harrelson, Ed Charles, Cleon Jones, Joe Pignatano, Ron Swoboda, Mrs. Maxcine Agee, Gil Hodges Jr. and Joan Hodges. Mrs. Hodges received a standing round of applause for her riveting speech in delivering the Gil Hodges Lifetime Achievement Award.

Roland Hemond was given the Great American's Awards for his nearly 50 years as an executive in Major League Baseball. Hemond has served as the General Manager for the Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles. Current New York Mets coach Howard Johnson was honored with the 2009 Winner's Circle Award. Johnson stated,"I feel proud to carry on the traditions of the Mets that came before him, and to pass what I have learned on to the new generation of Mets players."

The 2009 Gil Hodges Legacy Dinner proved to be a successful event to further Winning Beyond Winning outreach in the community to encourage clean youth participation in athletics and assist athletes transitioning from the field into the next phase of their careers.

To view additional photos from the event, click on the slideshow below.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wallace 'Bucky' Williams, 102, Former Negro League Pittsburgh Crawfords

The second oldest living Negro League player, Bucky Williams passed away on November 16, 2009 at the age of 102. Williams played infield for the Pittsburgh Crawfords from 1927-1932, and then with the Homestead Grays in the late 1930's, playing with and against many baseball luminaries including: Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Judy Johnson, Oscar Charleston, Cool Papa Bell, Martin Dihigo and Smokey Joe Williams. He retired in 1971 from Edgar Thomson Steel Works and moved to Penn Hills after his wife passed away in 1977. He was a fixture at the Josh Gibson Foundation dinners in recent years. He is only surpassed by 103 year old Puerto Rican Milito Navarro who played for the Cuban Stars in 1928-1929. Click here to view his entire obituary from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Feller, Perry and Perez Headline the 2009 MLBPAA Legends for Youth Dinner

Orestes Destrade and Tony PerezGaylord Perry and Bob FellerBob FellerThe longest standing member of the Hall of Fame Bob Feller stood on the podium 91 years young, a veteran of World War II, addressing a crowd of 250 former players and aficionados Friday at the Hilton Hotel in New York City. Feller, looking ever spry, expressed his affection for the supporters of the MLBPAA, and vowed to be a fixture at the annual reunion dinner for years to come. He introduced the 2009 Alumni Achievement Award honoree, Gaylord Perry, who was being honored for his service to the association. Perry is extremely active with the Legends for Youth Baseball Clinics, where he and other retired MLB players give clinics around the country for young aspiring ballplayers. Fellow Hall of Famer Tony Perez was on hand to announce the 2009 Heart and Hustle Award recipient, which was Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Following the awards, the fans were treated to a round-table where Perry, Feller, Dennis Leonard, Jim "Mudcat" Grant, Tommy John, Rick Cerone, Jeff Cirillo, Mike Torrez, Billy Sample, John Franco, Orestes Destrade and Jimmy Wynn spoke on their favorite MLB experiences. All of the alumni spoke candidly about their travels in the Majors, and showed a genuine appreciation for being able to share them with the fans. "Mudcat" Grant captivated the crowd with an entertaining story of how early in his career he got revenge on an umpire who he believed was "squeezing" him. Grant dipped the unsuspecting umpire's mask in manure, and in the 100 degree heat, the oblivious umpire swore the catcher had soiled himself during the game. The umpire was none the wiser to Grant's prank. Grant also went out of his way to recognize the efforts of Feller for helping to ease baseball's integration by touring with Jackie Robinson's All-Stars in 1946, playing with Larry Doby in 1947 and honorably serving in WWII. Feller graciously accepted Grant's acknowledgment to a standing ovation from the crowd.

To keep up with MLBPAA sponsored events and clinics, check out their website at BaseballAlumni.com

To view additional photos from the event, watch the slideshow below.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hideki Matsui's World Series Performance Evokes Memories of Dusty Rhodes 55 Years Earlier

Hideki Matsui earning the 2009 World Series MVP as a designated and pinch hitter drums up memories of another New York World Series hero. A year before the World Series MVP award was created, and over 20 years before the emergence of the designated hitter, James "Dusty" Rhodes terrorized the pitching of the American League champions, the Cleveland Indians. Rhodes hit a pinch-hit homer off of Bob Lemon in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series with two runners on in the 10th inning to win the game 5-2. In game 2, he had a pinch hit single off of Early Wynn in the 5th inning, and then followed it up with another homerun off of Wynn in the 7th. In game 3, he had a pinch-hit single that drove in two runs in a 6-2 Giants victory. In the 3 games he played, he was 4-6 with 2 homeruns and 7 RBI. The Giants swept the series in 4 games over the Cleveland Indians.

Matsui had a homerun, a single and 2 RBI as a pinch-hitter, and was 8-13 overall as a DH / PH en route to his award winning performance. While many remember the 1954 World Series for Willie Mays' catch of Vic Wertz's smash; if a World Series MVP had existed in 1954, it would have gone to Rhodes for his timely hitting off of the bench for the Giants. The parallel to Matsui, plays out similar in their roles of "professional hitter" for their respective teams in World Series victory.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

MLBPAA Legends for Youth Dinner Friday November 6, 2009 List of Expected Guests and Schedule



2009 Legends for Youth Dinner
Friday, November 6, 2009
New York Hilton
Avenue of the Americas

6:00 p.m. Cocktail Reception (Rendezvous/Petit Trianon)
6:45 p.m. Call to Dinner Program
7:00 p.m. Awards Dinner (Trianon Room)
9:45 p.m. Dinner Program Ends

**Dress is Business Attire/Semi-Formal/Coat & Tie

Please be aware of the MLBPAA autograph policy for the event. Limit the items you bring to the event to items that fit in your pocket. Bags, bats, or other large items are not permitted.

List of Confirmed Guests as of October 28, 2009

Gaylord Perry – Honoree
Bob Feller
Tony Perez

Craig Anderson
Tony Balsamo
Fred Cambria
Rick Cerone
Ed Charles
Jeff Cirillo
Don DeMola
Orestes Destrade
John Doherty
John Franco
Oscar Gamble
Jim “Mudcat” Grant
Jim Hannan
Paul Hartzell
Tommy John
Brian Johnson
Joe Lahoud
Tim Leary
Al Leiter
Dennis Leonard
Phil Linz
Skip Lockwood
Bob Miller
Jerry Moses
Jim Poole
Dennis Rasmussen
Ron Robinson
Steve Rogers
Will Royster
Billy Sample
Steve Shillet
Charles Smith (NBA)
Craig Skok
Gary Thorne – Master of Ceremonies
Frank Tepedino
Rusty Torres
Mike Torrez
Jose Valdivielso
Jimmy Wynn