Thursday, December 30, 2010

Steve Boros, Ex-Detroit Tiger dies at 74

Former Detroit Tigers third baseman Steve Boros died Wednesday night in Deland, Florida according to the Detroit Free Press.. He was 74.

Boros was signed in 1957 as a "bonus baby" out of Northern High School in Flint, Michigan. Under the rules at the time, any rookie signed to a bonus exceeding $4,000 had to stay on the major league roster. Boros played sparingly during his rookie season appearing in only 24 games. He was sent to the minors in 1958, reappearing in six games for a late season call-up. He wouldn't return to the Tigers until 1961, when he became their full-time third baseman.

He played in the majors until 1965, spending time with the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds. He continued to play at the Triple-A level for another four seasons. In 1970, he immediately went into managing at the Single-A level for the Kansas City Royals.

Boros returned to the "big show" as a manger in 1983, replacing Billy Martin as the manager in Oakland. He was replaced in May of 1984 by Jackie Moore. He took the reigns of the San Diego Padres from Dick Williams for one season in 1986. He would go on to coach for the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles in the mid 1990's.

His career ended with the same team he started with, working for the Tigers as a special assistant to the general manager in 2004 before retiring.

Angel Torres, Cuban baseball historian dies at 82

Famed Cuban baseball historian Angel Torres passed away Wednesday morning in Pico Rivera, California from a long standing illness. He was 82.

Known as the "Bible of Baseball" for his extensive knowledge of the game, Torres came to the United States through Mexico in 1964, landing in New York for three years before moving to California where he would develop his journalism career.

As an author, he has penned five books, including, "La Historia del Béisbol Cubano, La Leyenda del Béisbol Cubano, Tres Siglos del Béisbol Cubano, La Biblia del Béisbol y El Legado Deportivo de Angel Torres."

In 2009, he was honored by the city of Hialeah, Florida with a day in his name on November 14th.

He most recently maintained columns on La Estufa Caliente (The Hot Corner), Terreno de Pelota (The Baseball Field) and worked for Fox Sports doing their Spanish language regular season and World Series broadcasts with Ulpiano Cos Villa.

More Info -

Fallece el destacado historiador cubano Angel Torres -  El Nuevo Herald

El Mundo de Béisbol, Angel Torres - La Estufa Caliente (Torres' Online Articles)

Angel Torres Column @ Terreno de Pelota - Terreno de Pelota

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What does Chin-lung Hu's acquisition mean for the rest of the Mets infielders?

Chin-lung Hu - shgmom56 / Flickr
With the New York Mets recently acquiring Chin-lung Hu from the Los Angeles Dodgers, what implications does it have for the rest of the Mets utility infielders? Click here to read some thoughts and analysis of the rest of the Mets players in competition with the former Dodgers top prospect.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Former Brooklyn Dodger Ken Lehman passes away at 82

Former Brooklyn Dodger left-hander Ken Lehman passed away earlier this month in Seattle, WA. He was 82. Lehman made his debut for the Dodgers in 1952 and also pitched for the Orioles and Phillies between 1956-1961. Click here to read more detailed on Lehman's career and passing.

Recent MLB Passings, Tony Roig, Bill Werle

The baseball family lost two more of its alumni, former Washington Senator infielder Tony Roig and pitcher Bill Werle who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox.

Roig played parts of 21 seasons in professional baseball between 1948 and 1968, spending 1948-1962 primarily in the minor leagues, playing 76 games for the Senators between 1953-1956. After the 1962 season, Roig headed to Japan, hitting 126 home runs (1963-68) with the Pacific League’s Nishitetsu Lions and the Kintetsu Buffaloes. He then went on to become a scout and minor league manager for 30 years. He died October 20, 2010 in Liberty Lake, WA. He was 82.

Werle pitched six seasons in the majors between 1949-1954. He compiled a career record of 29-39 in 185 games, with his best season coming in 1949 with the Pittsburgh Pirates where he posted a 12-13 record with 10 complete games. He began his professional career with the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League in 1943, pitching with them through 1948 with a brief interruption in 1945 for service in World War II. He would go on to play AAA ball until 1961, serving as a player manager for Hawaii during his final season. This was Werle's introduction to his managerial career, as he mananged eight additional seasons from 1963-1970 at the A and AAA levels. After finishing his career as a manager, he became a scout for the Orioles and Indians for over 20 years. He died November, 27, 2010 in San Mateo, CA due to complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 89.

Jackie Robinson discusses morality from 1958 TV program

Via PingNews
Excellent footage was discovered recently of Jackie Robinson from a 1958 TV program discussing the morality of firing workers. This is of special interest due to Robinson's position at the time as vice president of personnel at Chock Full o’ Nuts, where he often had to make employment decisions.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Yogi Berra pays tribute to Phil Cavarretta

With the report of Phil Cavarretta's passing, a few New York Mets shared their thoughts on their former hitting instructor including Mets manager and Hall of Famer Yogi Berra. In a statement released through Dave Kaplan of the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center, Berra recalled Cavarretta's talents as a player and a coach.

"Phil was a heck of a hitter, just look it up," Berra said. "Bob Scheffing (the Mets GM) knew him well, they played on the Cubs together and brought him in as an instructor. Phil was good, he knew hitting and was a good help to us. I remember him as a good baseball man and a nice fellow."
Phil Cavarretta /
Outfielder Jim Gosger was fond of Cavarretta's coaching approach as it was a direct contrast from another Hall of Famer he played for, Ted Williams.

"Phil was a great guy working with us hitting wise," Gosger said. "He just had a knack that made you enjoyed listening to him. I had a few other great instructors [Ted] Williams and them, but Phil was a pretty quiet person. Williams was pretty wild, screaming and hollering. Phil was very quiet as opposed to Williams who was very verbal.

"If you had any questions or if you wanted to talk baseball, he was great. He would never approach you and say, 'Hey this is what I did a long time ago.' He would never say that. You would have to go and inquire from him and ask, 'Phil is this a good idea? When you played was this the right thing to do?' That's the way he was. He was quiet but if you needed something answered he was very direct with you. Phil had no enemies. He was an easy going fun loving guy to be around."

Jack Heidemann was an infielder with the Mets during the 1975 season trying to find his place back in the majors after suffering a major knee injury a few years prior. As a fellow infielder, Cavaretta took a liking to him right away.

"I came over from St. Louis and he helped me in Spring Training that year," Heidemann said. "I was still a young guy then, I was coming off a pretty good year with St. Louis and I had a knee operation in St. Louis that sent me back to the minors for two years after Bobby Murcer took me out in Cleveland. I was coming in and he took me under his wing. He liked me because I was an infielder too.

"He was like Alvin Dark, very low key, but not a manager or coach that would just go ballistic like a Earl Weaver. 'Cavvy' could give you the look now, but he didn't show you up. He was to the point but he wasn't a rah-rah guy. He expected you to do your job and that was it. He wasn't somebody who would pull you by the side and say, 'Hey you've gotta do this and you've gotta do that.' He never downgraded, it was always, 'You can do better or try this, try that, etc..'"

Cavarretta, who spent almost 50 years in baseball as a player, coach, manager, and scout, will be missed by the baseball community. He continued to interact with his fans through the years, remaining responsive to autograph requests until the time of his death.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dwight Gooden serves customers at Sofrito

Last week legendary New York Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden appeared at the famous Puerto Rican restaurant Sofrito as a guest server. Gooden assisted in the kitchen and greeted patrons at the Midtown establishment owned in part by current New York Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran. Click here to see more photos and read a complete review of the event.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Walt Dropo, 87, 1950 American League Rookie of the Year, 1923-2010

One of the University of Connecticut's greatest stars, Walt Dropo passed away Friday night at his Boston area home. He was 87.

The Mossup native beat out Whitey Ford for the 1950 American League Rookie of the Year Award after swatting 34 home runs and amassing 144 runs batted in. A giant of a man, standing 6'5", Dropo starred in three sports at Connecticut. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears of the NFL and the Providence Steam Rollers of the BAA. Over 60 years later, Dropo still ranks second in career scoring average with 20.7 ppg.

While Dropo never could match his rookie season, he spent 13 seasons in the big leagues with Boston, Detroit, Chicago (White Sox), Cincinnati and Baltimore. He finished with a lifetime .270 average and 152 home runs.

More Info - 
Walt Dropo, UConn Star and A.L. Rookie of the Year in 1950, dies - NY Times

Walt Dropo, UConn legend, Red Sox rookie for the ages - Hartford Courant

Mossup icon Walt Dropo dies at 87 - Norwich Bulletin

Former Red Sox first baseman Walt Dropo dies at 87 - Associated Press

Former New York Mets coach and 1945 NL MVP Phil Cavarretta dies at 94

1945 National League MVP Phil Cavarretta passed away Saturday night due to complications from a stroke he suffered a week earlier. Cavarretta was a fixture in Chicago baseball, beginning his career in 1934 at the age of 18 with the Cubs, playing there through 1953 until his firing as player-manager, where he then moved across town to play for the White Sox. Cavarretta stayed involved in professional baseball until the late 1970's serving as a minor league manager and a major league coach for the Detroit Tigers and New York Mets.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Remembering Bob Feller

Bob Feller regales the crowd during the 2009 MLBPAA Legends for Youth dinner
With the news of the passing of baseball's longest tenured living Hall of Famer, Bob Feller,  his appearance at the 2009 MLBPAA Legends for Youth Dinner in New York City once again was lucid in my mind.

When Feller grabbed the microphone that evening, everyone was on the edge of their seats, including the other Hall of Famers. Receiving a standing ovation after he addressed the crowd, a then 91-year-old Feller vowed to return to New York City the following year to be a part of the celebration for the alumni association that he was so deeply involved with.

Feller understood the fraternity of the rare few who shared the title of major league ballplayer, and took every chance to represent the history and integrity of the game. Driven by the industrious values of growing up on a farm in Iowa through the depression, Feller insisted that succeeding in baseball was a result of the spirit he developed as a young kid laboring in the fields.

Always eager to speak, the vigorous Feller answered questions all night from seemingly every fan in attendance, all of whom were trying to get a glimpse into the vaults of the legend. Stopping his interactions only to take small bites from his plate, Feller simultaneously signed countless autographs and fielded questions from the eager crowd. He thanked just about everyone who asked him for an autograph. For a player who accomplished so much in his career, Feller displayed a great deal of humility and sincerity, something that seems to be lacking from the current generation of players.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bob Feller eneters hospice care

The longest living tenured member of baseball's Hall of Fame has entered hospice care. Bob Feller, a 1962 inductee of baseball's greatest shrine was placed into hospice care Wednesday after suffering a bout with pneumonia. It unfortunately looks like baseball is going to shortly lose one of their greatest pitchers and World War II heroes.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ron Santo, 70, Chicago Cubs legendary third baseman 1940-2010

Legendary Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo died Thursday night in Arizona due to complications from bladder cancer. He was 70.

The third baseman played 14 of his 15 major league seasons for the Cubs is regarded as one of the best third basemen in major league history. Santo win five consecutive Gold Gloves from 1964-1968 and was selected to the All-Star team nine times.

Santo was the first player to openly admit to playing with diabetes. Santo later in life had both of his legs amputated due to complications from the disease. He became a champion for juvenile diabetes donating countless time and money to spreading the word to youngsters afflicted by the disease.

A beloved figure in Cubs history, Santo became a radio broadcaster for the Cubs in 1990, opening up a new generation of fans to Cubs baseball and its history.

A public visitation will be held at 4 p.m. on Dec. 9 at Holy Name Cathedral with the funeral Friday at 10 am.

More Info -
Cubs legend Ron Santo dead at 70 - Chicago Breaking Sports 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Gil McDougald, 1951 American League Rookie of the Year Passes Away at 82

1951 American League Rookie of the Year, Gil McDougald, passed away Sunday from prostate cancer in his home in New Jersey. He was 82. Click here to read more about the career of the Yankee infielder.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tom Underwood, 56, pitched 11 seasons in the majors

Tom Underwood, who pitched 11 seasons in the majors with the Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Yankees, Athletics and Orioles passed away Monday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 56.

Steve Kuczek, 85, had 1.000 batting average in the Major Leagues

Steve Kuczek, one of only 84 major league players to retire with a perfect 1.000 batting average passed away November 21, 2010 in Scotia, NY. Kuczek rapped a double off of Brooklyn Dodger star Don Newcombe in his only plate appearance for the Boston Braves in 1949. With Kuczek's passing, only 25 members of the Boston Braves are currently living.

More Info -
Steve Kuczek SABR Bio - Charlie Bevis
One-Hit Wonders: Baseball Stories - George Rose

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Danny McDevitt, 78, pitched final game at Ebbets Field

Danny McDevitt, who pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field in 1957 passed away Saturday at the age of 78. Click here to read more information on McDevitt's passing.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dwight Gooden honored by the Winning Beyond Winning Foundation

Legendary New York Mets and Yankees hurler Dwight "Doc" Gooden was inducted into the Winning Beyond Winning Foundation's Winner's Circle. Also honored were former New York Mets and Yankees players Ron Swoboda and Ralph Terry. Click here to see photos and read a complete review of the event.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gooden, Swoboda, Terry to be honored at the 2010 Gil Hodges Legacy Dinner

Gil Hodges Jr. and Joan Hodges
Former New York Mets and Yankees stars Doc Gooden, Ron Swoboda and Ralph Terry will be honored at the 2010 Gil Hodges Legacy Dinner on November 18, 2010 at the Chateau Briand in Carle Place, NY. Click here for more information on the dinner including ticket reservations.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Jay Van Noy, 82, former St. Louis Cardinal and BYU baseball coach

Utah sports legend Jay Van Noy passed away last Saturday at his home in Logan after battling Bacterial Endocarditis. He was 82.

Van Noy was a four-sport athlete at Utah State, competing in baseball, basketball, football and track. He was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1946 and was also drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in 1950. Van Noy chose baseball and quickly ascended through the ranks, making the Cardinals ball club in 1951 only after his second full season in the minor leagues.

Van Noy was called up to the big leagues in June of 1951 after getting off to a quick start in Triple-A Rochester. His results with the Cardinals wouldn't match his Triple-A prowess, going 0-7 with six strikeouts in six games. During a 2008 interview I conducted with Van Noy, he discussed his experiences in a major league uniform.

"I pulled a hamstring muscle and that's when they took me up to St. Louis," he said. "They weren't getting the results in Rochester. I was taking my at-bats up there and I was knocking them out of the ballpark. They signed me from there. When you are in that company, it was an honor just to be part of it. They were great baseball people, and they're great individuals, great citizens (Musial, Schoendienst, etc). Nobody tried to cut your throat, they tried to help you. Great people."
Van Noy would continue playing at the Double-A and Triple-A levels until 1960. He went on to become the head baseball coach at Brigham Young University, as well as an assistant in basketball and football. Van Noy was proud of one of his accomplishments while coaching at BYU that wasn't necessarily tied to wins and losses. He was instrumental in moving conference championships away from Sundays.

"My club at BYU, won the conference, and district, but we couldn't go to the championships because it was played on Sundays," he said. "We started the negotiations of that rule, so that if the school can't play on Sunday, that they let them play on Monday."

After his tenure at BYU, he became the director of Logan Parks and Recreation for 17 years. He remained active in baseball by delivering clinics through the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association. As we ended our interview, Van Noy shared his sentiments about playing during the 1950s that have been echoed by many of his peers.

"It was the greatest time to come up in baseball," he said. "You came up because you loved baseball. It wasn't commercialized like it is. And the money. When they started paying money and they had money invested in you, it all went down the tubes. We had players that played both sides, offense and defense. It made a great big difference."

More Info -
Aggie Great Jay Van Noy Passes Away - Herald Journal 
Former Aggie Jay Van Noy Passes Away - Utah State Athletics
Jay Van Noy Obituary - Cache Valley

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Johnny Antonelli a true New York Giant and Army veteran

On this Veterans Day 2010, take a look back at one of the heroes from the last Giants championship team of 1954, Johnny Antonelli. Jim Callaghan of the Wall Street Journal recently caught up with Antonelli, who is 80 and living in Rochester, N.Y.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hall of Famer Goose Gossage receives the MLBPAA Lifetime Achievement Award

The crowd weren't the only ones eagerly listening to the wisdom of Hall of Famer Goose Gossage this Friday at the annual Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association's Legends for Youth Dinner. As pictured to the left, Hall of Famers and All-Stars closely hung on the words of the great closer as he addressed the crowd.

Click here to see more photos from the event and read about Gossage reception of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

2010 MLBPAA Legends for Youth Dinner, November 5, 2010 New York City

The 2010 MLBPAA Legends for Youth Dinner will take place at the New York Hilton on Friday, November 5, 2010. The honored guest is Hall of Famer Goose Gossage. The rest of the MLB alumni scheduled to attend include a bevvy of Hall of Famers and former All-Stars. Click here for more information on the event and attendees.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Artie Wilson, Negro Leagues great and New York Giants shorstop dies at 90

Artie Wilson, who was one of the first black players for the New York Giants died Sunday in Portland after suffering from Alzheimer's disease. He was 90.

While Wilson only batted .182 in 22 at-bats for the Giants in 1951 as a "rookie" at the age of 31, he is regarded as the last .400 hitter from the Negro Leagues, batting .402 for the Birmingham Black Barons in 1948. At the time, his teammate was a 16 year-old outfielder named Willie Mays. Ironically, it would be Wilson who was farmed out by the Giants in 1951 to make room for the future Hall of Famer.

In a September 2000 interview, Wilson reflected on his short time with the Giants. His opportunity to crack their infield was stifled by an established double play combination.

“I figured I’d get a chance," he said. "If anybody could make it, I could make it. If I’d gotten with some other club, I’d have been the main shortstop, but the Giants had a tough combination: Alvin Dark at short and Eddie Stanky at second. It’s pretty tough to break into a lineup like that. I was a rookie and didn’t know the club, didn’t know the players. So I just sat there and waited.”

Wilson would find tremendous success in the Pacific Coast League, swatting over 200 hits during five different seasons between 1949-1954. A notorious spray hitter, teams tried to employ a shift on him while batting left-handed, moving the infielders to cover the hole between third base and short stop. The effort proved futile as Wilson continued to rattle the veterans of the PCL.

The gifted shortstop appeared in four East-West All-Star games in the Negro Leagues alongside Hall of Famers Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Leon Day, Monte Irvin and Willie Wells.

After his baseball career, he found success working at a car dealership in Portland.

I had the good fortune of being able to interview Wilson in 2008 on the telephone. He gave me about an hour of his time talking about a young Willie Mays and his teammates Piper Davis and Ray Dandridge. He was humble and gracious, playing down his achievements and yet so willing to highlight the strengths of the greats that he played with. I was so captivated by the interview that I forgot to start my tape recorder. Future attempts to interview Wilson proved futile and I am left with the fleeting memories of an evening phone call between Wilson and myself.

As the San Francisco Giants attempt to lock up their first World Series championship since moving from New York, Wilson's death marks the third former New York Giant in as many weeks and leaves 37 living players who donned the uniform in the Polo Grounds.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Selig supports more teams in the playoffs

Does baseball really need another round of playoffs? Check out the following statement from Commissioner Bud Selig regarding his feelings on expanding baseball's playoff format. How do you feel about baseball wanting to add another round? Where is the support coming from?

Book Review: Stan the Man: The Life and Times of Stan Musial

Stan the Man: The Life and Times of Stan Musial
Wayne Stewart
Triumph Books, 2010
256 pp.

Somehow Stan Musial's name seems to be omitted when discussing the upper echelon of baseball's royalty. He ranks fourth all time in hits (3,630), sixth in RBI's (1,951), appeared in 24 All-Star games and won the National League MVP award three times. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969 with over 93% of the votes.

Donora, PA native Wayne Stewart does his best to elevate Musial's standing in the public eye with his biography, "Stan the Man: The Life and Times of Stan Musial." Stewart treads down a similar path that others have traveled chronicling Musial's upbringing in the small town of Donora. We watch Musial develop into a multi-sport athlete at Donora High School where he would play with Buddy Griffey, the patriarch to the Griffey baseball legacy. He was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals at the age of 18 out of high school and the rest shall we say has been well documented.

While Stewart attempts to follow Musial through his Hall of Fame career, he leaves bits and pieces of different stories hanging, leaving you wondering why certain anecdotes weren't further developed or why they were mentioned in the first place. He attempts to fill the gaps by quoting some of Musial's living teammates and opponents, most notably Carl Erskine, who is frequently quoted during the book. Conspicuously absent are testimonials from Musial's long time teammates Red Schoendienst, Marty Marion and Musial himself.

For the younger fans who aren't familiar with the achievements of Musial, "Stan The Man" will serve as a primer about the Cardinal great to whom Albert Pujols respectfully deferred the title of "El Hombre". For the baseball fan or historian that is searching for greater depth into the annals of Musial's career, they may not be satisfied by Stewart's work.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rudy Rufer, former New York Giants infielder dies at 83

Rudy Rufer, who played 22 games for the New York Giants from 1949-1950 died October 25, 2010. He was just three days shy of his 84th birthday. Rufer grew up in Ridgewood, Queens and attended Aviation High School. He attended Dartmouth College, the University of Oklahoma and served in the Navy.

Rudy Rufer

Rufer was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1948 and was quickly drafted by the Giants the next season. After hitting .266 at Jersey City in AAA, Rufer made his major league debut on September 22, 1949 in only his second year in professional ball. He would receive another cup of coffee in 1950, compiling two hits in 26 at-bats. He would play minor league ball until 1957, serving as a minor league manager from 1956-58 with the Class D Thomasville Dodgers.

Rufer transitioned into the role of a scout for the Dodgers organization, working in that capacity for 25 years. Unfortunately, in his waning years while recovering from cancer surgery, Rufer was robbed by one of his nurse's aides, stealing most of his baseball memorabilia including his World Series ring. Luckily the material was quickly recovered by police.

Rufer's passing leaves only 38 living players who played for the New York Giants before they moved to San Francisco in 1958.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Valmy Thomas dies at 84; First MLB player from the Virgin Islands

Former New York Giants catcher and legend from the U.S. Virgin Islands Valmy Thomas passed away October 16 at his home in St. Croix at the age of 84. Thomas' mother went to Puerto Rico for his birth because she believe the medical care was better there. They immediately moved back to the Virgin Islands where Thomas became a national hero. He played five seasons in the majors and was the starting catcher on the legendary 1954-55 Santurce Crabbers whose outfield contained both Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A tour of the new Yankee Stadium

  A view from center field
As the New York Yankees return to their home Monday evening to host the Texas Rangers for Game 3 of the ALCS, I wanted to give the readers an inside look at the new Yankee Stadium. Click here to see photos from a recent tour of their Bronx residence.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Baseball greats come out to support the Harrison Apar Field of Dreams Foundation

Columbus Day Weekend brought together a wonderful assembly of retired major leaguers at the Mohansic Golf Club in support of the Harrison Apar Field of Dreams Foundation. Check out the following link see photos and read more about the benefit for the foundation which included appearances by Chris Chambliss and Jerry Koosman.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ike Davis aims at Mets rookie records

New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis is close to reaching the Mets rookie records for home runs and RBI's. Click here to see who he has surpassed and the player he is chasing.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bobby Valentine headlines fourth annual Sports Angels Inspiration Awards Dinner

Bobby Valentine with Emcee Len Berman

Sports Angels honored a true New York hero, former Mets player and manager Bobby Valentine with their 4th annual Inspiration Award last week at the University Club in Manhattan. Valentine is fondly remembered for his efforts as Mets manager in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, assisting in the community and helping to provide morale to the entire city. Valentine sparkled on the stage, mixing some of his baseball wit and humor with his genuine passion for helping others as he addressed the few hundred supporters in attendance.
    Also honored for his philanthropic efforts was Global Excess Partners CEO Diarmuid Hogan. He is also the director of Boys Hope Girls Hope, an organization that provides assistance to promising youth living in at-risk family and community situations.
   Sports Angels is a grassroots organization committed to helping youth benefit from the life lessons available through sports participation. They have raised over $250,000 since their inception in 2005. To find out more about Sports Angels and contribute to their cause, visit their website

Vice Chairman Ralph Branca
Diarmuid Hogan receiving his Inspiration Award

NY1's Jessica Abo

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Recent MLB passings (Bob Shaw, Ray Coleman, Al Pilarcik)

This past week was a sad week for old-time baseball fans as a few more legends have passed on. It is said that celebrity deaths happen in triplicate and three baseball greats passed on this week, each with their link to baseball's history.

Ray Coleman
Former outfielder for the St. Louis Browns, Philadelphia Athletics and Chicago White Sox, Ray Coleman passed away September 19th at the age of 88. Coleman served valiantly in World War II from 1943-45 traveling all over the Pacific in the Navy. He would make his debut with the Browns in 1947 and would be witness to both Willard Brown and Hank Thompson joining the team that year, making them only the second and third African-Americans to play in the majors. I had the opportunity to speak with Coleman a few years ago and he spoke proudly of his World War II service.

Al Pilarcik

  Al Pilarcik was an outfielder for the Kansas City Athletic, Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox from 1956-1961. He passed away Monday September 20th at the age of 80. 50 years prior to his passing, on September 28, 1960, he caught the last out Ted Williams made in his career. Pilarcik later gladly handed it over to the Hall of Fame. After his playing career was finished, he had tremendous success as a high school teacher and baseball coach at Lake Central High School, earning an induction into the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987.

Bob Shaw

Bob Shaw, a famed member of the 1959 "Go-Go" White Sox, who led the league that year with an astounding .750 win percentage passed away Thursday September 23, 2010 at the age of 77. Shaw pitched a legendary battle in Game 5 of the 1959 World Series where he triumphed over Sandy Koufax in front of 92,000 fans. He would go on to pitch for seven teams during his 11-year major league career, including being traded for the aforementioned Al Pilarcik to the Kansas City Athletics in 1961. He would find success after his baseball career as a real estate investor and an American Legion baseball coach.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bobby Valentine to recieve the 4th annual Sports Angels Inspiration Award September 20th

Bobby Valentine
On September 20th Sports Angels will honor Bobby Valentine with the fourth annual Inspiration Award and also recognize corporate honoree Diarmuid Hogan of Global Excess Partners in a gala celebration at the University Club, 1 West 54th Street in New York City. This year's event is hosted by Emmy Award Winning sportscaster Len Berman and NY1's Jessica Abo. Other confirmed guests include former Brooklyn Dodgers Ralph Branca, Joe Pignatano, Yankee great Jeff Nelson and boxer Gerry Cooney. For more information on ordering tickets, visit the Sports Angels website or call the Sports Angels Event office at 212-243-3265.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Review: The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron by Howard Bryant

The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron
Howard Bryant
Pantheon, 2010
600 pp.

In baseball literature, 2010 will be marked as the year of the epic baseball biography. A good deal of my summer reading has been devoted to the life stories of Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, both of which weigh in at over 500 pages. After completing Mays' "The Life, The Legend", it was only right that I moved on to Howard Bryant's "The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron". Click here to read the rest of the review for "The Last Hero".

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fat Beats closing ceremonies: The end of an era

Outside Fat Beats during the closing ceremonies
This website is normally dedicated to baseball, but I feel as many of you have seen card shops close across the country that you would feel this one.

Labeled "The Last Stop for Hip Hop", Fat Beats served as the mecca for hip hop fans, DJ's and collectors. A legendary fixture in New York City on 6th Avenue, right near the famous West 4th Street basketball courts, hip hop "heads" would often gather to purchase the latest hip hop record and discuss who was next to blow up on the scene.

The inner walls of the store covered with autographed photos and posters of the many artists who graced the store during their record release celebrations. The names on the wall are too many to mention, but it reads like a "Who's Who" of hip hop. On any given day, you could run into a significant artist, DJ or producer who would stop by while they were in New York to see what was new in the "underground". If you wanted a hip hop 12" or CD by an artist large or small, chances are they had it. Customers would often come in with playlists from radio shows such as the Stretch and Bobbito Show or the Halftime Radio show and purchase every single record that was played on the airwaves. The fans demand it and they kept the fiends coming back every week for more. You better have acted quickly though because any record worth its salt didn't stay on the racks too long.

A look at the ceiling of Fat Beats
As digital forms of music began to dominate the market, trends saw a shift away from consumers, especially DJ's buying vinyl records. They now opted for MP3's which worked in their Serato programs that much more neatly held all of their music on a hard drive instead of bulky crates of records. CD sales tanked just as quickly as vinyl and Fat Beats felt the impact of a declining consumer base. Even though it managed to outlast such megastores as Tower Records, it couldn't continue to provide the services of a physical store with the decline in revenue.

This past week had an All-Star lineup of DJ's, MC's and producers performing to celebrate the institution that Fat Beats had become. I attended the closing ceremonies on Saturday September 4, 2010 that included performances by DJ Scratch of EPMD, DJ Spinna, Caron Wheeler of Soul II Soul and DJ Premier of Gangstarr. It was fitting that Premier closed out the week-long celebration, as he epitomized the essence of hip hop and vinyl. DJ's across the country immersed themselves in vinyl due to his work and have their crates full of his productions.

DJ Premier rocks the final set at Fat Beats
Its closing represented an end of an era. I had been shopping there since 1999 and I quickly relived the last 11 years of my involvement in radio, DJ'ing and the industry. No longer will there be a central place for "heads" to gather and discuss the culture, find out about local events and take a chance on spending $5 on that artist whose vinyl still remains a go-to record in your crates over a decade later. The chances of another place opening that represented the purity of a culture that roped in my generation to hip-hop is unlikely and it is for that I dedicate this post to Fat Beats. Fat Beats will still remain open online and continue to provide those who thirst for the music an opportunity to get their fix. I don't know how much the current generation will care about its closing, or pine for a hub to replace it, but for many who went through our era of experiencing hip hop emerge, this serves as a reminder that as much as we want to hold on to seasons of the past, the forces of nature will leave us behind as it writes its next chapter. Consider this one closed. RIP Fat Beats.

Caron Wheeler Performing Keep On Movin' At Fat Beats Closing 9/4/10 from Dee Jay on Vimeo.

Caron Wheeler Singing Back To Life at Fat Beats Closing 9/4/10 from Dee Jay on Vimeo.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Reggie Jackson versus cocaine

Photo by Rubenstein
A quick trip down memory lane discovers Reggie Jackson's anti-cocaine message. Something to think about over the weekend.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Was Nyjer Morgan really wrong for stealing two bases after being hit?

In an act of retaliation for Washington Nationals outfielder Nyjer Morgan separating the shoulder of Florida Marlins catcher Brett Hayes on Tuesday and then stealing two bases while down eleven runs last night, pitcher Chris Volstad threw behind Morgan which ignited a brawl that almost saw Morgan get his head taken off by Gaby Sanchez.

During the commentary, the announcers remarked that Morgan was wrong for stealing two bases while his team was down 11 runs in the 4th inning. I disagree with the commentators in this case. If Morgan can himself into scoring position after being purposely hit by the opposing pitcher, why not do it? There was plenty of baseball to be played in that game and if he could help creep the Nationals towards closing the gap by getting into scoring position, then he should do it. Morgan later scored on a sacrifice fly. The game ended with the Marlins winning 16-10, but how many of us have seen games that appeared to be a blowout and were decided by one run?

Leave a comment if you think Morgan was right or wrong for stealing those two bases after getting hit.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cal McLish, former Brooklyn Dodger, 84, 1925-2010

Cal McLish
The owner of the longest full name in baseball history, Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish passed away Thursday morning at the age of 84. Click here to read more about McLish's career which included his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1944.