ESPN.com's Elizabeth Merrill wrote an excellent article on Ernie Harwell's busy life and the special people around him that keep him going after being diagnosed with inoperable cancer at the age of 91. Harwell is a standout in the baseball community; one who has given so much of his life to the sport and helping others. I selfishly hope that he continues to elude the grasp of cancer so he can reach many more while he is still with us.
With the 2009 year coming to an end, we salute all of the baseball players who died this year that represented the major league teams of New York (Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants, New York Mets and New York Yankees). Among those that passed away were: 1954 World Series hero Dusty Rhodes, "Old Reliable" Tommy Henrich, and Bill Werber who reached the age of 100 before his January death. May all of their memories live on in the hearts of New York baseball fans and fans worldwide. For the complete list of New York baseball players who died in 2009, check the following article on Examiner.com
Rarely did a pitcher get the best of Ted Williams. During his Major League career, Williams fanned only 709 times in 9,791 plate appearances. In 1961, a year after retiring from the Red Sox, Williams was asked to participate in an exhibition against Joan Joyce to raise money for the Jimmy Fund. Click here to read about when "the best hitter that ever lived" faced the best softball pitcher in the land.
Long time Houston Astros scout and former MLB player with the Phillies and Indians, Stan Benjamin passed away on Christmas Eve, 2009 at the age of 95 in Cape Cod, MA.
Benjamin was a star with Framingham High School in Massachusettes and went on to play from 1939-1942 with the Phillies and finished up his Major League career with the Indians in 1945. In 1965, Benjamin joined the Houston Astros as a scout. He remained with the Astros for nearly 40 years. He scouted American League East clubs for several seasons before becoming the team's scouting supervisor for the Northeast. Benjamin was a frequent visitor to Fenway Park during the baseball season.
Astros president Tal Smith, who was born in Framingham, called Benjamin a "vital cog" in the organization and a "keen judge of talent."
Current area professional baseball players returned to their roots this Saturday to give back to the next generation of New York City baseball talent at the 3rd annual Lou DeMartino GNYSAA Baseball Clinic. On hand to assist at the clinic were four local professionals, John Halama (Milwaukee Brewers - 9 season in MLB), Pedro Beato (Baltimore Orioles - 1st Round Pick), James Jones (Seattle Marines - 4th Round Pick) and Matt Rizzotti (Philadelphia Phillies - 6th Round Pick). To read more about how our local professionals got involved, read the entire article at Examiner.com.
Right before he started the 1962 season as a batting coach with the inaugural New York Mets team, Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby collaborated with Bill Surface to put his 48 years in baseball down on paper. Hornsby goes full steam ahead on baseball, witholding nothing back in this 250 page classic. Read the review of "My War With Baseball," to find out why this book is widely sought after by fans and historians.
ESPN.comreports right-handed pitcher Javier Vazquez will be making a return to the Yankees, being traded from the Atlanta Braves for outfielder Melky Cabrera as part of a five-player trade. Vasquez pitched for the Bombers in 2004.
Relief pitcher Boone Logan also joined the Yankees, while reliever Mike Dunn and minor-league pitcher Arodys Vizcaino moved to Atlanta, the Yankees said in a news release. New York also sent an undisclosed amount of cash to the Braves. Ironically, this is the second time that Logan has been traded with Vasquez to another club, as he was involved in the 2008 trade that brought Vasquez to the Braves.
To celebrate the 60th birthday of a popular Yankee hero, we take a look back at the career of Oscar Gamble, and investigate the many travels of the man who will forever be immortalized by his famous Afro. Here is the article at Examiner.com.
Bruce Weber wrote a poignant review in the New York Times of Roger Guenveur Smith's one-man show, “Juan and John,” that is being presenting at the Public Theater in Manhattan through December 20th. Weber details an emotional reunion of Juan Marichal and Morgan Fouch Roseboro, the daughter of John Roseboro. Continue reading the story here.
As a tremendous hip hop aficionado, the article on Peter Nash (aka Pete Nice) sparked my interest. I knew he he had a memorabilia museum and shop in Cooperstown, but I did not anticipate the twist in his story.
Hey Pete, you might be the one getting the Gas Face after this all clears.
The future Brooklyn Dodgers of 1952? Look hard in the bottom left hand corner and you'll see Solomon "Hampton" Coleman. The righty "curveball artist" is the only player pictured that didn't make the Major Leagues.
The story of this "Dodger That Never Made It" is an interesting one that involves a meteoric rise from the low minors to AAA early in his career while crossing paths with some of the finest players in baseball's history.
Coleman, speaking via telephone from his Florida residence in July of 2008 discussed how he came so close to becoming a Brooklyn Dodgers.
He was first signed by the Boston Red Sox in 1947 and was sent to Roanoke of the Class B Piedmont League. After posting a record of 13-5 with a 3.17 ERA, he was given an invite to major leagur spring training. What a jump for the young rookie from Red Springs, N.C., to go from the bushes to the big leagues in two years!
The 1948 spring training season allowed Coleman rub elbows with baseball's elite.
"I pitched against Joe DiMaggio," he said. "There were a few men on base and he hit a home run off of me to win it. The Red Sox had a pitcher Boo Ferriss, and he said, 'Don't worry about it, he's hit home runs off of better pitchers than you!' That picked me up a little bit."
In only his second season, Coleman wasn't flustered by his encounter with DiMaggio. He was sent to Triple-A to play with Louisville of the American Association. After playing the 1948-1950 seasons with Louisville (with a short loan to Seattle of the PCL in 1949), Coleman's next break would come courtesy of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Coleman explained how he moved from the Red Sox organization to that of the Dodgers.
"I was playing in Louisville, and St. Paul was the Dodger team in the American Association," he said. "When Boston was on the verge of winning the pennant that year (1950), they were looking for a pitcher by the name of Harry Taylor to buy. They purchased him from the Dodgers, and the Red Sox gave them any choice of a Triple-A pitcher in their system, so they selected me. That's how I got to the Dodgers. I played with Montreal for a couple of years. Walter Alston was the manager, and when he went to Brooklyn, he took four of us to the Dodgers."
Alston was hired as the Dodgers manager in 1954 and it was the break that Coleman needed. Prior to the start of the season, Coleman chose to go to Cuba to sharpen his skills in preparation for his big break.
He pitched the 1951-52 winter season with Almendares and 1952-53 winter season with Marianao in Cuba. He received help from many veterans including tips from a future Hall of Famer.
"Do you remember Hoyt Wilhelm?" he asked. "He was down there. I was trying to get another pitch, and he was helping me with a knuckleball to use as an out pitch. He helped me a lot."
Discussing Cuba evoked the memories of some of his legendary teammates. One Hall of Fame teammate he recalled was Ray Dandridge,
"I played with him in the Cuban winter leagues. The first time I saw him was with Louisville against Minneapolis in the American Association. He was a great third baseman; he was like a vacuum cleaner, anything that came his way, he scooped up. He was a terrific fielder and good hitter. I absolutely thought he should have been a Major League player. He was a tough man to get out."
Another Hall of Famer there was a familiar lefty from the Dodgers organization, Tom Lasorda.
"The years I was in Cuba, I played with him, as well as two-and-a-half years in Montreal. Lasorda was managing the whole time he was playing. He was a motivator from day one. He didn't like to see anybody loafing. He'd get on your case if you were losing. Nobody loses more than a player that is loafing. I spent a lot of time with Tommy."
Despite the legendary connections he made, a car accident towards the end of the 1953-54 winter season in Cuba derailed his chances of making the Dodgers club.
"I had my wreck at the end of the season on my way to Cuba for the third
year down there," he said. "I had a car accident and almost got killed. I fell
out of the car on my shoulder. I was a right hand pitcher and I could
never gain any momentum again. The doctors said I would never pitch
again. Later on when technology improved, they said they could have
fixed my shoulder in two hours!"
The doctors were wrong about Coleman pitching again. He returned in time for spring training, and Alston held to his word, giving Coleman a shot in February, 1954. Unfortunately, Coleman knew he was at the end of the line.
"It was pretty much the end of my career. I had nothing left on the ball."
He was there long enough to be included in the Dodgers 1954 Spring Training team photo, but lasted only 10 games at Montreal after he was cut from the major league squad. He spent his last season in baseball in 1955 with Double-A Fort Worth and Mobile, posting a combined record of 4-11 in 20 appearances.
Coleman, 81 is currently retired in Lady Lake, FL.
According to a report published by the Associated Press former New York Yankee outfielder Tommy Henrich died on Tuesday December 1, 2009 at the age of 96. He was nicknamed "Old Reliable" after a train which ran from Ohio to Alabama by Yankees broadcaster Mel Allen for his knack of getting a hit just when it was needed. Henrich was the last link to the 1938 World Series Team, as well as the last living teammate of Lou Gehrig. Henrich reportedly admitted taking three years off of his age to compensate for having played softball instead of baseball growing up. If this is the case, Henrich was between the ages of 96-99 at the time of his passing.