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.