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.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Former Yankees benefit the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor Foundation

Franco Harris, David Cone, Darryl Strawberry, Roy White and Mickey Rivers
Billed "The Ultimate Yankee Stadium Experience", supporters came out to the Delta 360 Club Monday evening to assist the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor Foundation. Attendees had the opportunity to mingle with Pro Football Hall of Famer Franco Harris (who is also a board member) and former Yankee greats David Cone, Mickey Rivers, Darryl Strawberry and Roy White, all while benefiting the hard work of the Sisters. Click here to see more photos from the evening's festivities and to read interviews with the players in attendance.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Willie Fordham, Pitched in the Negro Leagues, 83, 1927-2010

Willie Fordham
It is with a sad tone that I report the passing of Wilbur "Willie" Fordham, who pitched for 1952 with the Harrisburg Senators, becoming only the second black player to play for that team. He then played in the Eastern Negro League with the Harrisburg Giants from 1954-55.

Ten days ago, Willie Fordham was a bundle of energy, openly discussing his career as a pitcher in the Negro Leagues with fans as he signed autographs throughout the entire nine innings at the home of the Class A Wilmington Blue Rocks. Fordham was there as part of the 15th Annual Judy Johnson Night which was sponsored by the Judy Johnson Foundation. Late Monday evening, the Museum of Bus Transportation, where Fordham was a fixture for their Negro Leagues tribute, announced his death from pneumonia on August 22nd. He was 83.

Fordham was born July 15, 1927 in Millerstown, PA. He was a graduate of Carlisle High School, served in the Army during World War II and later earned a degree in Elementary Education from Cheney University. He would become the fourth black player for the Harrisburg Senators, which was a Class B affiliate of the Philadelphia Athletics. The lefty ace spent one season (1952) with the Senators and then played for the Harrisburg Giants of the Eastern Negro League in 1954 and 1955.

After his baseball career was over, he worked for the Mechanicsburg Naval Supply Depot for thirty-five years, becoming the first black Twelve Supply Systems Analyst.

In 1996, he published his autobiography, "I Gave It My Best Shot" which details his upbringing in Carlisle, his career in and out of baseball, and his later struggles with MLB to address his patented idea to speed up games. As the details of Fordham's journey are revealed, he provides actual copies of his letters home from Brooklyn Dodgers camp as well as his exchange with MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent to shorten the length of the game.

Fordham was cheerful during the time I spent with him a few weeks ago, and we discussed the process required to produce his autobiography. He explained that he wrote it over the course of a few years following a heart attack to capture his life story for his family and friends. Upon my departure for the evening, after exchanging pleasantries, Fordham left me with the following piece of advice in my quest to publish a book.

"Continuity," he said. "Remember, your readers are going to want continuity. It's the most important thing!"

More Links -

Willie Fordham Video Interview - Highmark Blue Shield Living Legacy
Bus Museum Honors Negro Baseball Teams - NY Times
834 - Wilbur Fordham - Penn Live

I Gave It My Best Shot (The Movie) - Daniel Fordham

Harrisburg Senators 2003 Negro League Tribute -

Monday, August 23, 2010

Charlie Brown knows baseball cards

For anyone out there that collected cards and looked far and wide for that small known player to finish their sets, Charlie Brown feels your pain.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Former Yankees and Phillies lend their support to the BEST Scholarship Fund

2010 BEST Scholarship Award Winners
August 15, 2010 saw close to twenty former major league players lending their support to the BEST Scholarship Fund by attending their Meet and Greet Dinner. Attendees were treated to an evening that allowed them to mingle with the ballplayers as well as hear success stories from the scholarship recipients. Click here to read a complete recap and see photos from the event.
L-R Terry Harmon, Dennis Kinney, Wil Royster, Ross Moschitto and 1952 AL MVP Bobby Shantz

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ultimate Yankee Stadium Experience to benefit the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor Foundation

While the Yankees are out on the road this Monday, many of the New York Yankee stars that lit up the stadium will be in attendance August 23rd at the Ultimate Yankee Stadium Experience in the Delta 360 club which will benefit the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor Foundation. Click here for more information on the players that will be attending and how to purchase tickets to this wonderful event.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bobby Thomson, famous for the 'shot heard 'round the world dies at 86

Bobby Thomson, the famed outfielder for the New York Giants died Monday at his home in Savannah, Georgia. He was 86. Thomson gained notoriety for his home run off of Ralph Branca to win the 1951 National League pennant, which would later be labeled the "Shot Heard 'Round The World". Click here for a more complete write-up of Thomson's passing.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gene Hermanski, 90, Brooklyn Dodger outfielder 1920-2010

Gene Hermanski, the former Brooklyn Dodger outfielder who suggested that they all wear number 42 to confuse the alleged snipers threatening Jackie Robinson, died Monday afternoon in Florida. He was 90.

Gene Hermanski pictured on his 1951 Bowman Baseball Card
His death was confirmed by his wife Carol, after a brief phone interview from their home in Homosassa.

Hermanski was born May 11, 1920 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, but spent his formative years in Newark, New Jersey where he would become a standout at East Side High School. After graduating, he signed in 1939 with the Philadelphia Athletics and later moved on to the Brooklyn Dodger organization in 1941 after his Pocomoke City team disbanded.

He served in the Navy and the Coast Guard during World War II, spending most of his time stationed at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. During his military service, he was granted a two-month leave in 1943 which allowed him to make his major league debut with the Dodgers. He hit .300 in 60 at-bats before returning to the Navy.

While stationed at Floyd Bennett Field, Hermanski would play with the legendary semi-pro Brooklyn Bushwicks. Hermanski explained in a 2009 interview why he had to play under the name "Gene Walsh."

 "I had to change it [my name]," he said. "It was the smartest thing I ever did in my life. If my commanding officer ever found out that I was playing ball in some ball park, he'd ship me overseas."

Upon his return to the Dodgers in 1946, Hermanski made the club as a reserve outfielder. It was there with the Dodgers that he witnessed baseball's integration happen before his eyes. Hermanski was the starting left fielder on April 15, 1947, the day Jackie Robinson made his major league debut. Ralph Branca, along with Hermanski, went over that day to greet Robinson with a handshake while Robinson was largely ignored by the rest of his teammates.

He played in two of the Dodgers' World Series appearances (1947 and 1949), batting .308 in their loss to the Yankees in the 1949 classic. He played with Brooklyn until 1951 when he was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Andy Pafko. He would spend two more seasons with the Cubs before becoming part of the exchange between the Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates that sent Ralph Kiner to Chicago. Hermanski would play one more season in 1954 with the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League, reuniting with former Dodger manager Charlie Dressen before retiring from baseball. He finished with a lifetime batting average of .272 over nine major league seasons.

After his playing career was over, he worked as a sales representative for Tose Incorporated. At the time of his passing, he was the last living player from the Brooklyn starting lineup for Robinson's debut. Marv Rackley and Ed Stevens are currently the last surviving Dodger players that participated in that game.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mark Teixeira makes his way into the history books with his 25th home run

Mark Teixeira / Chris Ptacek - Wikimedia Commons
New York Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira joined exclusive company when he hit his 25th home run of the season Sunday night against the Boston Red Sox. Find out the other three major leaguers Teixeira joined that hit at least 25 homers during their first eight seasons in the big leagues.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hiroshima's Masato Akamatsu makes one of the greatest catches ever

Masato Akamatsu put himself into the record books August 3rd in a match between the Yokohama Bay Stars and Hiroshima Carp of Japan's Central League. Due to the wide reaches of internet broadcasting, Akamtsu's Spiderman-like routine will be forever etched into the memories of baseball fans. Performing a feat previously unseen, Akamatsu, an outfielder for the Hiroshima Carp robbed Yokohama's Shuichi Murata of a homerun by scaling the top of the wall with both feet, timing his leap correctly to catch the ball in stride. Some have argued that it rivals Willie Mays' catch in the 1954 World Series, and while that might be debatable, what isn't is the skill and grace with which Akamatsu made the catch.

Recommended Reading

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Darryl Strawberry's Sports Grill grand opening a star studded affair

Wednesday night marked the opening of Darryl Strawberry's Sports Grill in Douglaston, a short cry from the stadium where he built his legend. Situated next to the LIRR stop in Douglaston, the establishment is easily accessible via public transportation and both the Long Island Expressway and Grand Central Parkway.

Justin Timberlake (center) with Darryl Strawberry (r.) / Nick Diunte

Partnered with Eytan Sugarman who owns Southern Hospitality BBQ and Justin Timberlake, the two have created an enclave in Queens where families and baseball fans can enjoy great food and New York baseball memorabilia. Omnipresent when you enter are Strawberry's locker from Shea Stadium and two adjacent stadium seats from his former Mets home.

The menu sampling was impressive which included zesty pork sliders, crawfish and cheddar hushpuppies, buffalo shrimp, BBQ chicken and ribs, as well as what they call their "championship chili," which had the right blend of sweet and spicy.

Equally impressive was the mix of sports stars and celebrities for the celebration. Hall of Famer Whitey Ford, Doc Gooden, Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams, Mickey Rivers, Bobby Valentine and current Yankees Nick Swisher and David Robertson were there to lend support to Strawberry's endeavor, as well as former New York Knick John Starks, Miss USA Rima Fakih, the aforementioned Timberlake, Ali Fedotowsky of the Bachlorette, and Karina Smirnoff from Dancing with the Stars.

Tino Martinez, Darryl Strawberry, and Bernie Williams (N. Diunte)
The event began rather innocently with Strawberry making the rounds while the guests sampled the generous food and drink for the evening. Things started to get a little hairy as the celebrities and debutantes entered the building. A free flowing event took the aura of a crowded Manhattan nightclub, with the clientele to match. The crowd of press, family, and friends was forced into the bar area to accommodate the VIP section, blocking off the narrow conduit between the bar and the main bathrooms. A bit of chaos ensued as people tried to jockey for position to take photographs of Timberlake and attempt to travel to the other side of the restaurant.

Aside of the glitz and glamour of the opening night crowd, Strawberry's Grill served up a robust menu of American fare and memorabilia that will please a wide variety of palates and the most sentimental of baseball enthusiasts.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Book Review: Forever Blue: The True Story of Walter O'Malley, Baseball's Most Controversial Owner

Forever Blue: The True Story of Walter O'Malley, Baseball's Most Controversial Owner and the Dodgers of Brooklyn and Los Angeles
Michael D'Antonio
Riverhead, 2010
400 pp.

In the hearts of Brooklyn baseball fans, the name Walter O'Malley evokes painful memories of the Dodgers being uprooted from Ebbets Field and moving to the far extremes of the West Coast. For the citizens of Los Angeles, O'Malley represents a forward thinking visionary who lead the progress of Major League Baseball to grow with our nation's westward expansion.

In "Forever Blue: The True Story of Walter O'Malley, Baseball's Most Controversial Owner and the Dodgers of Brooklyn and Los Angeles", Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael D'Antonio paints an in-depth account of O'Malley's life that goes beyond the Dodgers moving out of Brooklyn.

D'Antonio explores how O'Malley ascended the ranks as the son of a Tammany Hall pol to become one of the most influential lawyers for the Brooklyn Trust Company. It was there with the Brooklyn Trust Company that O'Malley would enter the foray of Brooklyn Dodger ownership, buying shares of the company in 1944.

Great and exciting detail is given to how O'Malley positioned himself to purchase the controlling shares of the Brooklyn Dodgers, including those of general manager Branch Rickey. With complete control of the Dodgers ballclub, he lobbied tirelessly to keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn. It is during this period that he would meet his greatest rival, Robert Moses, the powerful head of city planning. The two would engage in an embattled series of exchanges that would eventually lead O'Malley looking to California's greener pastures.

For the truly die-hard Brooklyn Dodger fans, the story might as well end here, as they could no longer cope with seeing the Dodger Blue wear jerseys that represented such a far away city. For the readers of "Forever Blue ..." this is just where the story picks up, as O'Malley has his own set of challenges moving the Dodgers to Los Angeles. See how he maneuvers through various lawsuits and city referendums before being able to build Dodger Stadium to the tune of $20 million.

D'Antonio does his best to devillify O'Malley as the leading cause for the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn. He is presented as a sharp businessman who dealt heavily with the politicos of his time to advance the positioning of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The book drags initially with an overload of information on O'Malley's upbringing and formative years. While necessary to develop the scope of O'Malley's persona, the real crux of the action begins when O'Malley gains his first stake in the Dodgers and continues his maneuvers until he has complete control of the ballclub.  It is at this point where baseball fans will take interest in the rest of the details of his journey.

Monday, August 2, 2010

2nd Annual BEST Sports Celebrity Golf Tournament August 15-16, 2010, Delware Water Gap, PA

2nd Annual BEST Sports Celebrity Golf Tournament

Golf with former MLB players Tommy John, Jim Eisenreich, Bobby Shantz, Mike Pagliarulo, Bill Madlock and many others as they lend their support to benefit the BEST "Building Education Support Teams" scholarship fund. BEST offers scholarships to high school students in the Lehigh Valley area.

The event will be held on Sunday, August 15 and Monday, August 16 at the Water Gap Country Club, Delaware Water Gap, PA. There will be a "Meet and Greet" reception and silent auction of baseball memorabilia and other items from 6:00-8:00pm on Sunday with limited open bar and hors d’oeuvres. Tickets are available for $60.00.

Monday’s events start with a buffet breakfast and registration at 8:30am followed by a shotgun start at 10:00am. The day will conclude with a cocktail reception and buffet at 3:00pm. Cost: $150 per golfer.

To register or for information about sponsorship opportunities, contact Judy Tierney at 610-504-4239 or

BEST was founded in 2008 by Billy Staples and Judy Tierney as an attempt to aid students in need of financial assistance to fulfill their dreams and goals of obtaining a college education. Students must maintain a 2.8 GPA while enrolled in college. They are required to select a volunteer mentor who reports on his or her performance to the scholarship board. Upon completion of their studies, they are asked to return and work in their community for two years.

For more information about BEST, please visit their website -