Showing posts with label Baseball Happenings Podcast. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Baseball Happenings Podcast. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Baseball Happenings Podcast | Rob Petrozzo Rally Co-Founder On Their Exclusive Topps Collaboration

Rally, the collectibles investment platform, has developed an unique partnership with Topps to produce ten "1st edition" 2020 Topps complete sets to be sold in shares exclusively through Rally's app. Rally's co-founder, Rob Petrozzo, joined the Baseball Happenings Podcast to discuss the details of their partnership, as well as explain exactly how Rally's platform works.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Baseball Happenings Podcast | Greg Genske VaynerBaseball CEO

Gary Vaynerchuk made another power move in the sports agency world by announcing a partnership with Greg Genske to lead VaynerSports' newly formed VaynerBaseball division. Genske joined the Baseball Happenings Podcast to discuss how he linked up with Gary Vee to bring his talents to VaynerSports to expand their agency's reach into Major League Baseball.




Friday, June 12, 2020

Baseball Happenings Podcast | 'Big Sexy: Bartolo Colon In His Own Words' Author Michael Stahl

Bartolo Colón still has hopes of returning to the majors leagues. At 47, and with labor negotiations at a stand still, his chances are as good as Vegas bookmakers trying to set the odds to win the World Series

According to SBD, "The second-tier favorites have generally gotten longer with the MLB planning to play a shortened, 80-game season with an expanded playoff field. Fewer games means greater likelihood for unexpected outcomes."


Despite the uncertainty surrounding Colón's return to the field or if the season will take place, fans will rejoice reading Colón's journey in his new autobiography, "Big Sexy: Bartolo Colón In His Own Words". The 21-year MLB veteran partnered with Stahl through a series of interviews at his New Jersey home to tell how he achieved major league stardom from his humble Dominican Republic beginnings.

In the latest Baseball Happenings Podcast episode, Stahl discussed how the rookie author was able to link up with Colón for his "big league" publishing debut. During the 18-minute interview, he tells some of his favorite stories from the book, while also explaining how this venture has validated his transition from a New York City high school English teacher to author during an unprecedented pandemic.


Monday, May 25, 2020

Baseball Happenings Podcast | Jeff Frye Interview




Jeff Frye was a fan favorite during his eight major league seasons with the Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox, Colorado Rockies, and Toronto Blue Jays, but little did he expect to gain massive social media fame almost 20 years after he last put on the uniform. After a series of videos where he is spoofing hitting instruction methods he's seen online, including the one below which has received 1.4 million views as of this writing, Frye's "She gone!" has become a cult cry among his fans and retired MLB peers.



Frye joined the Baseball Happenings Podcast to discuss how he's handled the unexpected attention, and how he hopes his videos will help young baseball players and their families become better informed consumers when selecting a hitting coach.
@examinebaseball

What to do if your ##hitting coach hands you a PVC pipe. ##baseball ##mlb ##tips ##shegone ##baseballcards ##batting

♬ original sound - examinebaseball


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Baseball Happenings Podcast | Brad Balukjian Wax Pack Book Interview

Brad Balukjian, author of The Wax Pack: On The Open Road In Search of Baseball's Afterlife, joined the Baseball Happenings Podcast for a special Q&A interview where readers submitted questions for Balukjian to answer live on-air about his 11,341 mile journey across the country to uncover the afterlives of 14 retired Major League Baseball players.



In 2015, I met with Balukjian in Brooklyn while he was in New York to meet with Lee Mazzilli and Doc Gooden for the book. After being rejected by multiple publishers, his book is currently the best-selling baseball book on Amazon at the time of this writing.

During the 45-minute Q&A, Balukjian explained his crazy travels trying to track down Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk, getting batting lessons from World Series champ Rance Mulliniks, and his conflict peeling away layers from his baseball hero, Don Carman.




Sunday, April 19, 2020

Baseball Happenings Podcast | Bobby Valentine Interview

Bobby Valentine joints the Baseball Happenings Podcast to discuss playing for Bobby Winkles with the California Angels. Winkles, who also managed the Oakland Athletics and won three College World Series championships at Arizona State University, died April 17, 2020 at age 90.

Winkles managed the Angels in 1973, when Valentine suffered his career-altering injury while playing the outfield. Valentine explains how the injury changed both of their career trajectories.





Thursday, April 16, 2020

Baseball Happenings Podcast | Sophia Chang Interview

Queens based artist Sophia Chang joins the Baseball Happenings Podcast to discuss her work on Topps Project 2020. In the interview, she explains what inspired her debut 1992 Bowman Mariano Rivera design, her foray into the baseball card collecting world, and how she's putting a Queens touch on the new cards.

- Website - www.esymai.com
- Instagram - @esymai




Saturday, April 11, 2020

Baseball Happenings Podcast | Mike Sommer Of Wax Pack Hero

Mike Sommer of Wax Pack Hero joins the Baseball Happenings Podcast to discuss how collectors are adapting their purchasing habits due to the coronavirus pandemic. We also take a dive into how the card companies like Topps are reacting with their production plants temporarily shutting down to due to forced work stoppages.






Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Baseball Happenings Podcast | Ted Lepcio Interview

On the latest Baseball Happenings Podcast, we present an interview with the recently deceased Ted Lepcio, an infielder who played primarily with the Boston Red Sox in the 1950s.


During our conversation from 2017, we discuss Lepcio's relationship with his teammate, Jimmy Piersall, as well as his memories of facing Satchel Paige. Lepcio died December 11th, 2019, in Dedham, Massachusettes. He was 90.





Saturday, December 14, 2019

Baseball Happenings Podcast | Emily Waldon of the Athletic Discusses Rob Manfred's Proposal To Contract 42 Minor League Baseball Teams

Emily Waldon, Detroit Tigers and National Prospect writer for The Athletic joins the Baseball Happenings Podcast to discuss Major League Baseball's proposal to contract 42 teams from Minor League Baseball. She shares how the two Detroit Tigers affiliates that Rob Manfred has put on the chopping block have responded to the news.

Baseball Happenings Podcast
"They're very against it, and they're both fighting to make sure that they don't lose their places," Waldon said. "They're working with Congress to try and fight against it. Obviously wanting to defend their place in the organization's farm system, I'm working very hard to make sure that that can stay reality."

In the 11-minute interview, Waldon also shares her thoughts on Lou Whitaker missing out on the Hall of Fame, her grinding journey covering the minor leagues, and the top organizational farm systems to watch in 2020.




Saturday, October 26, 2019

Baseball Happenings Podcast | Author Eric Moskowitz On The New World Of Baseball Card Collecting

Eric Moskowitz, author of the recent Atlantic piece, "How Baseball Cards Got Weird," joined the Baseball Happenings Podcast to discuss his venture into the new waters of collecting baseball cards online.


During the interview, Moskowitz explains how during his research he caught the collecting bug through watching online breaks, and eventually found a community through their chat rooms that has substituted for a lack of local card shops.




Sunday, September 1, 2019

Baseball Happenings Podcast | Onyx Authenticated President Lance Fischer's Quest For Baseball's Next Top Prospects

Onyx Authenticated president Lance Fischer joined the Baseball Happenings Podcast to discuss how their company is making an exciting push for collector's in search of baseball's next top prospects. In the 20-minute interview, Fischer explains their careful prospect selection process, why they only use on-card autographs, and their new Unique Baseball Prospects and Legends set done together with the Futera brand.


You can click here to listen and subscribe to the Baseball Happenings Podcast on your favorite platform.




Saturday, August 31, 2019

Hal Naragon, one of the Cleveland Indians last 1954 World Series links dies at 90

Hal Naragon, a catcher on the Cleveland Indians 1954 World Series team, died Saturday, August 31, 2019 in a statement the Indians released. He was 90.


We had Naragon as a guest earlier this year on the Baseball Happenings Podcast, where he spent over 40 minutes discussing his lengthy major league career. Naragon signed with the Indians in 1947 and debuted in 1951.

“I know it was a chilly day and they called me in from the bullpen,” he said. “Naturally I was a little nervous, but usually by the time you get to the plate you get yourself together and do what you can do.”

He spent the next two years in serving in the Marines during the Korean War and returned for good in 1954. He came back right in time to help the Indians to the 1954 World Series. Serving as a reliable backup catcher, Naragon looked back 65 years later at his lone series appearance as a major thrill.

“You know, I was hoping that I would get in one,” he said. “When I was called up out of the bullpen to come in, I, of course, felt a little on edge at first but then I kinda settled down. I liked to be able to play in a World Series.”



He played in the majors until 1962, spending time with the Washington Senators and Minnesota Twins, before moving into coaching. He was a member of the Twins' coaching staff during their 1965 World Series appearance, and he finally won his ring as a coach with the 1968 Detroit Tigers.

“That was a good team,” he said. “They would hit in the clutch … they got hits when it really counts, they were good defensive players, and they always had a lot of fun.”

Naragon left coaching after the 1969 season to take over a local sporting goods store in his hometown of Barberton, Ohio. He ran the store from 1974 until his 1990 retirement. The town paid a massive tribute to their native son when they named Barberton High School’s baseball field Naragon Field in his honor in 2006.

You can listen to Hal Naragon's Baseball Happenings Podcast interview below, as well as subscribe to future episodes.


Click here to listen on Stitcher


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Baseball Happenings Podcast | Author Gaylon White Pays Tribute To Tom Jordan, Oldest Living MLB Alum

On the latest episode of the Baseball Happenings Podcast, author Gaylon White discusses the life and career of former major league catcher Tom Jordan, who died August 26th, 2019 in Roswell, New Mexico. Jordan was just ten days shy of his 100th birthday, and at the time was the oldest living former Major League Baseball player. Jordan played parts of three seasons from 1944-1948 with the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, and St. Louis Browns.

Tom Jordan as a member of the Cleveland Indians

White spent an extensive amount of time with Jordan in preparation for his book, "Left On Base In The Bush Leagues." The two formed a close relationship which White proudly explains on the Baseball Happenings Podcast. Click here to listen and subscribe on your favorite platform.









Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Baseball Happenings Podcast | Mike Oz Dishes On How He Got His 2019 Topps Allen And Ginter Baseball Card

Mike Oz has a knack for keeping it fresh. Whether he is running his "Old Baseball Cards" show for Yahoo! Sports, organizing the Taco Truck Throwdown, or hosting his radio show on KFRR 104.1 FM, Oz has put quality content at a premium. He joined the Baseball Happenings Podcast to discuss how a kid who collected baseball cards starting in the 1980s finally came to have his own in 2019 Topps Allen and Ginter.

Mike Oz 2019 Topps Allen And Ginter / @CardboardIcons

An idea that started from looking at sealed baseball card packs in his garage four years ago, led to the iconic baseball card manufacturer Topps taking major notice. As Oz grew "Old Baseball Cards," to include the likes of Andre Dawson, Randy Johnson, and Manny Machado chopping it up while opening packs, Topps made a move that Oz never envisioned.

“Fast forward four years later,” Oz said during our recent Forbes interview, “I get an e-mail from Topps [asking], ‘Do you want to be in Allen and Ginter?’”

In our 30 minute Baseball Happenings Podcast interview, Oz explains the surprisingly intense process of signing his official cards, what made "Old Baseball Cards" take off, and his love for hip hop music.








Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Baseball Happenings Podcast | Cory Aldridge Explains The Long Road Back To The Major Leagues

Cory Aldridge knows Wilkin Castillo's pain all too well. After Castillo returned to the major leagues with the Miami Marlins in June 2019 after a 10-year absence, Aldridge discussed his realities of waiting nine years to get a new lease on big league life. In my recent piece for Forbes, Aldridge said just how impactful even one major league paycheck is for a long-time minor leaguer.

“Your average minor league ballplayer is making $500 every two weeks,” Aldridge said. “If you were playing [in the majors] you probably went from making well below minimum wage to one check is what you probably made in the last two years. … Your average minor leaguer probably makes five grand a year, and your average first [Major League] paycheck is probably 10-to-15 grand.”

Cory Aldridge / Minda Haas Kuhlmann - Flickr
In our 30-minute interview for the Baseball Happenings Podcast, Aldridge shares his own struggles with injuries and how he contemplated quitting baseball multiple times after his 2001 Major League debut with the Atlanta Braves. His journey that landed him back in the majors with the Los Angeles Angels in 2010 is one of extreme perseverance under conditions that would have caused most professional athletes to hang up their gloves and spikes.


Sunday, May 12, 2019

Baseball Happenings Podcast | Cholly Naranjo Interview

Starting as a 17-year-old in 1952 with the Washington Senators organization, Gonzalo “Cholly” Naranjo has ties to a unique baseball world from his ten-year career in both the United States and Cuba. The Cuban-born former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher recently appeared on the Baseball Happenings Podcast to discuss the Trump administration canceling the deal between Major League Baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation, his first meeting with Roberto Clemente, and a host of other wonderful tales from his baseball journey between Cuba and the United States.

Cholly Naranjo / 1956 Hollywood Stars

President Trump's decision to end MLB and the Cuban Baseball Federation's relationship

In April 2019, President Donald Trump ended a four-month-old agreement between MLB and the Cuban Baseball Federation that allowed Major League teams to sign Cuban players for a 25% fee over their signing bonus to the Federation, as well as paying their Cuban income taxes. In his 85 years, Naranjo has lived through a variety of regimes in Cuba, as he was one of the few ex-Major League players who stayed in Cuba after the laws changed for professional baseball players in 1961. Naranjo returned to the United States full time in 1995 and feels this decision is a repeat version of an old tale.



“You don’t pick where you’re born,” Naranjo said. “You come out wherever you come out, and you’ve gotta go through the rules in the place where you live. You come to the United States, you’ve gotta go by the rules. We come [here] to play baseball, and we don’t pick where we’re born. What can you do?

“Now all of that is kind of juggling between baseball and the places where you live. All we wanted to do is play baseball and make a living. It happened before with us. We had that in 1961. The guys who couldn’t accomplish making the big leagues came back to their home. It’s a new copy of what baseball in Cuba is going through with the ballplayers. You’ve gotta face it because you cannot do anything with the laws of the country.”

Cholly Naranjo's favorite Almendares teammate

Naranjo built his chops playing for Almendares of the famed Cuban Winter League from 1952-1961, serving as a mainstay of their pitching staff for a decade. When asked to choose his favorite teammate, he went out of his way to recognize Willy Miranda. Regarded by many as the premier defensive shortstop of the 1950s, Naranjo told how even Miranda could poke fun at his own light hitting abilities.

“I was right beside Willy Miranda for 10 years and Willy was an outstanding guy,” Naranjo said. “He knew more about baseball than you could ever believe. … He came up one time to hit against Vinegar Bend Mizell with three men on. Dick Rand was the catcher. He turned to Dick and said, ‘Do you want to see a home run with the bases loaded?’ [Rand] said, ‘Are you going to hit it?’ He said, ‘No, the guy that’s coming after me [will hit it].’ That’s what kind of guy he was.

“He was incredible. Paul Richards said a lot about that. He could get rid of the ball faster than anybody he’d ever seen. He could make that play in the hole out on the left field grass and throw you out.”

Naranjo's toughest foes in the Cuban Winter League

On the mound, Naranjo battled established veterans during his Cuban League tenure, even drawing Branch Rickey’s attention for how he improved his curveball in the winter league. Surprisingly, when Naranjo recalled the batters who gave him fits, he pointed to two rookies whom he just could not get out.

“Jose Tartabull and Sandy Valdespino, they could read me like they owned me,” he said. “Everybody was a tough hitter for me. Those two guys, they were rookies. The rest, were day in, day out.”

Cholly's most cherished Roberto Clemente memory

Naranjo eventually reached the majors in 1956 with the Pittsburgh Pirates after narrowly missing the Washington Senators Opening Day roster in 1954. His time in Pittsburgh opened the door for a relationship with Roberto Clemente, a topic Naranjo frequently encounters. He revealed how they built their kinship before they were teammates during a chance February 1954 meeting in Puerto Rico.

“The story about Roberto [was] in 1954,” he said. “We won the pennant in Havana. The year before, I was in Chattanooga and I went to Havana. Manuel Maldonado (Denis), the Puerto Rican pitcher who beat me in Mexico in the Amateur World Series in 1949, he went to Chattanooga when I went to Havana. He was going out with the same girl I was going out with. I came back home after the season ... we won the pennant and we flew out to Puerto Rico because the Caribbean Series was in San Juan.

“He [Maldonado] came up to the hotel and he was going to the University of San Juan. He came to see me as a friend. He said, ‘Come on, I’m going to take you to the university, and I’m going to introduce you to a guy who is going to be a hell of a ballplayer.’ You know who it was, Roberto Clemente. He was sitting in the track and field stands by himself. Branch Rickey just signed him and gave him a $15,000 bonus. Rickey was the general manager of the Dodgers. He sent him to Montreal. He told the Montreal manager not to play him. When he went to Havana, the fans in Havana knew a lot of baseball. They were calling the manager a “racista” because he didn’t play Roberto. They didn’t know that Rickey told him not to play because he didn’t want the scouts to see Roberto [so] they could get him in the draft. He already knew that he had the job with the Pirates and got Roberto for $5,000 in the winter meetings of the draft.”




During our 40-minute talk, Naranjo shared just a sliver of his baseball treasures that spanned his 85 years of playing and observing the game. He was especially proud that both his mind and body were clear enough to lead an active lifestyle.

“I’ve got my health at my age,” he said. “I got this far, and I’m better than when I was playing ball. Can you believe that? Sometimes I think, well, give me the ball; I’m going to get somebody out.

“It makes me feel well that I can be a normal person and do all the things necessary to live in the United States and travel. … To me, it’s like a prize that I have proven that it can happen to anybody. ... I’ve lived over there and over here, and I’m clean in both of them. I have lived long enough to show everybody what is what. I feel proud of that inside. … I say Cholly, how old are you? Well, I’ve got more miles than Pan American Airlines!"

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Baseball Happenings Podcast | Don Newcombe's memory celebrated by Nashua teammate Billy DeMars

Don Newcombe was instrumental in breaking down barriers when the Brooklyn Dodgers signed him in 1946. Instead of sending him to join Jackie Robinson in Montreal, they sent him along with Roy Campanella to play for the Nashua Dodgers where they integrated the Class B New England League. In the wake of Newcombe’s recent passing, I reached out to the 93-year-old Billy DeMars for the latest Baseball Happenings Podcast to discuss the experience of playing with his pioneering teammate.




Click here to listen on Spotify.
Click here to listen on iTunes.

“The one thing I remember about Don was he was a helluva great pitcher,” DeMars said from his Florida home. “We were playing in Manchester New Hampshire one night, and Walter Alston was our manager that year. He brought him in the ninth inning. ... He didn’t hold anything back, he struck out all three batters. Just to watch him throw, he let the air out. He was tremendous!”

Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella in Nashua, 1946 
DeMars also noted that in addition to being lights out on the mound, Newcombe was a force at the plate. He led the team in with a .311 batting average, even besting his future Hall of Fame teammate Campanella.

Branch Rickey sent both of Negro League talents north to New Hampshire, as he could not place them in the hostile cities of his other southern minor league affiliates. DeMars said the Nashua team readily accepted both players and treated them like family.

“We had absolutely no problems whatsoever on the team," he said. "They were just other players. We got along absolutely great with Don [Newcombe] and [Roy] Campanella. In fact, Campanella had a little boy who was five or six. We used to put him on an iron crate and let him play on the pinball machine.”

The Brooklyn native wound up on the Nashua team after returning from his World War II service, where he played with Ted Williams and Charlie Gehringer at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station. The trio of future major leaguers, as well as player-manager Walter Alston, helped guide the team to the championship. Some seven decades later, DeMars chuckled at the reward.

“Another funny thing about that season, we lost the pennant on the last day of the season,” he said. “We went into the playoffs, and we won that to [become] the champions and our winning share was ten bucks apiece!”

Long removed from his playing and coaching days, DeMars marveled at the amount of money, or lack thereof, that he made while in the minor leagues.

“I signed and went up to Olean New York in 1943 just before I went in the Navy,” he said. “I tell everybody I made $3.50 a day. It was $100 a month — $25 a week, which came out to $3.50 a day. It is a little bit different than today.”

He cited a broken current minor league system that continues to underpay both the players and coaches. He explained that with record-setting major league contracts, baseball needs to reach down into the minor leagues and improve salary conditions.

“That’s what’s wrong with the game,” he said. “I just saw [Manny Machado] signed for $300 million and the guys who have to take cuts in salary are the minor league managers and the players. They are not paid as much as they should be [making]. The scouts and minor league managers need to make good money too. They are developing the players, and they have to work hard as hell down there.

"I spent 11 years as a minor league manager, and I was married and I had children at the time. You had to write up the whole league twice a year, the players once a month. At that time, I used to drive the team. We used to have cars; me and two other players would drive the club around. It wasn’t easy but we made it.”

DeMars played parts of three major league seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics and the St. Louis Browns. After 11 years as a minor league manager, he spent the next 19 as a major league coach with the Philadelphia Phillies, Montreal Expos, and Cincinnati Reds. He has managed to outlive most of his peers, with Newcombe’s death serving as a mortal reminder of his place in history.

“In August, I will be 94,” he said. “Now with Newcombe gone, I moved up to 22 [he is currently the 23rd oldest living former major league baseball player]. It’s a helluva a list isn’t it?”

Still, the nonagenarian is popular with the fans due to his status as one of the few remaining St. Louis Browns alumni.

“I get a hell of a lot of mail,” he said. “I think there are 12 of us left from the St. Louis Browns. St. Louis was great, everything about St. Louis was great.”

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Baseball Happenings Podcast | Hal Naragon Interview

Hal Naragon is a baseball treasure. At age 90, the former major league catcher spun baseball yarns of catching Bob Feller, playing in the 1954 World Series, and later coaching the Detroit Tigers to 1968 World Series victory on the Baseball Happenings Podcast.


Click here to listen on Spotify

Signing with the legendary Bill Veeck

Naragon signed with the Cleveland Indians after attending an open tryout during the summer of 1946; however, there was just one problem — he was still in high school. This led to his first meeting with the legendary Bill Veeck.

“I found that when I filled out the application it said you had to be out of high school,” Naragon said during his 2019 interview. “They wanted to sign me and I got nervous then because I knew that I shouldn't have been there, but my dad said that we would go back up and talk to Mr. Veeck.

“Mr. Veeck said to my dad, ‘We'd like to sign your son.’ My dad said, ‘I have to tell you he has not graduated from high school yet ... and he thought that this would be a good time to see if he had an ability to play professional baseball.’”

Hal Naragon 1956 Topps / Topps
Veeck’s keen eye would not allow Naragon to walk away that quickly. He extended an olive branch to the elder Naragon, and the two came to a gentleman’s agreement for the Indians to have the first crack at his son when he graduated.

“Well after you graduate will you give us a chance to talk to him?" Veeck asked. "My dad said, ‘Will a handshake do?’ They shook hands and they got me out of the ballpark.”

Naragon's major league debut

Naragon kept his word and signed with the Indians in 1947. He moved quickly through their minor league system, and by the time he was 22 he was in the major leagues. He eagerly recalled the September day in 1951 when he singled off Virgil Trucks in his first major league at-bat.

“I know it was a chilly day and they called me in from the bullpen,” he said. “Naturally I was a little nervous, but usually by the time you get to the plate you get yourself together and do what you can do.”

He played a few more games during his September call-up, and then the Marines quickly grabbed him to serve in the Korean War. While many players suffered from losing their peak years to military service, Naragon returned right in time to take part in Cleveland’s record-breaking 1954 World Series run.

Catching Bob Feller

Now that he had an entire big league season in front of him, Naragon was able to learn from the best in the game. His pitching staff included Hall of Famers Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Early Wynn, and Hal Newhouser. With that staff, it was easy to understand why the Indians won a then-record 111 games in 1954. For a rookie, catching Feller was one of the highlights of his career.

“When I saw Feller he wasn't really in his prime, but still he had he had a good movement on his ball, a good curveball, and his fastball still was moving,” he said.

Playing in the 1954 World Series

Naragon hit .238 as Jim Hegan’s backup en route to the Indians facing the New York Giants in the 1954 World Series. He did not figure he would get much action, but with the Indians behind in Game Three, manager Al Lopez summoned Naragon as a late inning defensive replacement.

“You know, I was hoping that I would get in one,” he said. “When I was called up out of the bullpen to come in, I, of course, felt a little on edge at first but then I kinda settled down. I liked to be able to play in a World Series.”


Witnessing Willie Mays' Catch

While the Giants swept the Indians courtesy of Dusty Rhodes peppering the short right field porch in the Polo Grounds, I couldn’t bring up the 1954 World Series without asking Naragon about perhaps the most famous catch of all-time. We revisited Willie Mays’ devastating over the shoulder grab of Vic Wertz smash during Game One.

“You didn't think that much about it at first of the catch,” he said. “He did turn around and throw a nice ball into the infield. I don't know whether we even talked about it, but you knew Vic Wertz hit the ball and you thought, ‘Oh my goodness this is going to go out the ballpark.’ Well, then Mays catches it and you just say, 'Well, he's a good outfielder.'"

While Naragon said that he felt Larry Doby made tougher catches than Mays' World Series spectacle, years later he was able to recognize its historical greatness.

“I guess when looking back on it eventually you decide, ‘Hey that was one heck of a good catch.’”

Throughout his time with the Indians, Naragon built deep connections with many of his teammates, bonded by their train rides traversing the American League. He shared a lesser-known World Series story that involved one of his early Indians mentors, Dale Mitchell.

A career .312 hitter, Mitchell unfortunately, is best recognized for making the last out of Don Larsen’s 1956 World Series perfect game. Well after the game, the first person Mitchell reached out to was his friend, Hal Naragon.

“He called me that evening,” he said. “I asked him about it and I told him I thought the ball looked a little outside. He said he thought so too.”

Larry Doby's lighter side 

The nonagenarian reached deep into his bag of stories to share a lighthearted tale of an unintentional slip of the tongue he had with Larry Doby. Fortunately, his pioneering teammate found humor during the awkward moment.

“I remember that we were playing one game, the sky was kind of high, and the ball was kind of tough to pick up right away,” he said. “He sat down beside of me and said to me, 'Gee it is really tough to pick up that ball.’ … I said, ‘Larry, why don't you go ahead and put on some of that black stuff underneath your eye?’ Once I realized what I said, I looked at Larry and he is busting out laughing you know, because he was a dark man, but he knew what I getting to.”

Herb Score's Injury

Playing with the Indians in the second half of the 1950s decade as they started to rebuild after their Hall of Fame stars retired, Naragon was able to witness their young stars blossom. Cleveland’s prized pitching prospect was Herb Score, a flame-throwing lefty that many expected to carry on Bob Feller’s legacy. In his first two seasons, Score led the American League in strikeouts with a 36-19 won-loss record.

As 1957 started, Score looked like he was en route to another spectacular season; however, that all changed when New York Yankees infielder Gil McDougald stepped to the plate during a May 7th game. McDougald sent a line drive back through the box that smashed Score directly in the face. He watched with his teammates in horror as a bloody Score tried to hold his face together. The gruesome injury kept Score out for the rest of the season and derailed a once promising career. Naragon insisted that it was arm troubles and not the line drive that kept him from regaining his mound dominance.

“You know what, that didn't hurt his career,” he said. “Basically, he threw just as hard after it as he did before he got hit. He would tell you that [too]. I think what happened, he hurt his arm a little bit and that hurt him. As far as when he got back, he had the same velocity and a good breaking curveball. He didn't blame anyone that he couldn't pitch later just as well afterward.”

Score was not the only talent that Naragon watched bloom during his Cleveland tenure. Both Roger Maris and Rocky Colavito were rookies that Dale Mitchell told him to keep his eyes on, both impressing with their power hitting and defense.

Ted Williams' thoughtful gesture

While he had a multitude of fond memories of the superstars he played with in Cleveland, he was also excited to share a favorite Ted Williams story. It was one that had nothing to do with his on-field exploits.

“I asked Ted Williams that I would like to have a picture of him and he said to me, ‘When you get to Boston, you ask Vince the clubhouse guy and I will remember, and he will remember to get you a picture.’

“When I got to Boston, I kind of forgot that I asked Ted Williams [for the picture]. I was there leaning against the wall watching him hit and when he got through hitting, he came over and said, ‘I sent that picture over to you.’ Sure enough, when I went into the clubhouse, that picture was there. I thought, 'My goodness a big-time star like that remembers something like that!'”

In 1959, the Indians traded Naragon to the Washington Senators where he stayed with the franchise as they moved to Minnesota in 1961. After finishing his playing career in 1962, he stayed with the Twins as a coach, helping to guide them to the 1965 World Series where they lost in seven games to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

1968 Detroit Tigers World Series Victory

After his success with the Twins, he followed his good friend and pitching coach Johnny Sain to the Detroit Tigers. After two unsuccessful trips as a player and a coach, he was finally able to get a World Series ring when the Tigers won the 1968 World Series.

“That was a good team,” he said. “They would hit in the clutch … they got hits when it really counts, they were good defensive players, and they always had a lot of fun.”

Hal Naragon Tigers card courtesy of Mr. Naragon 
In 2018, as the oldest living alumni of the 1968 championship team, the Tigers invited Naragon and his wife to Detroit to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their World Series victory. He basked in the opportunity to rejoice once more with his former players.

“We had a great time,” he said. “They invited us over to that and they really did a nice job for us.”

Naragon left coaching after the 1969 season to take over a local sporting goods store in his hometown of Barberton, Ohio. He ran the store from 1974 until his 1990 retirement. The town paid a massive tribute to their native son when they named Barberton High School’s baseball field Naragon Field in his honor in 2006.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Baseball Happenings Podcast | Confessions of a Baseball Card Addict

Tanner Jones joins the Baseball Happenings Podcast to tell the listeners what exactly led him on the path to spend $100,000 to amass one of the finest single-player collections in the world en route to earning the "baseball card addict" title. In his new book “Confessions of a Baseball Card Addict” he narrates his fascinating journey of building a 10-million-card collection before deciding to roll the dice on one player — Jose Canseco.

“I call junk wax a cheap gateway drug in my book because I almost feel like it was engineered by the card companies to be mass produced in the '80s,” Jones said during his appearance on the Baseball Happenings Podcast. “So that way, when we all grow up, we are able to come back to a super easy. It's really easy to slip in a couple wax boxes of Score just for nostalgia sake, and while you're at the card shop you're like, ‘Wait a second here, there are some cards out here that have pieces of jerseys and autographs on them.’ You know, it's a completely different way of collecting than what we were used to as kids.”
Confessions of a Baseball Card Addict / Tanner Jones
Once Jones had the itch, he was off to the races. Armed with extra cash to spare, Jones started to buy back his childhood memories at pennies on the dollar.

“It didn't have anything to do with Canseco when I came back as an adult,” he said. “I was just absolutely enamored by the prices of the complete sets that I loved as a child. So yes, thinking, ‘Wait a second, I can get an '89 Upper Deck factory set for 60 bucks? Holy cow, how do you not buy that?’

“I started assembling a complete run of complete sets from 1980 to 1992, or '93 or so. Along the way is when I started discovering the game used and autographed cards, so I just got into that hardcore as well. After a while, I take step back and go, ‘Holy cow, I've already dropped a couple grand on this stuff — on baseball cards!' To me, that was like insanity back then, like a couple thousand dollars [spent] on baseball cards.”

For most, a few thousand dollars would have sufficiently scratched their nostalgic collecting itches; however, Jones is far from ordinary. His re-entry was just the tip of the iceberg that led him on a multi-million card chase for the next decade. Jones discusses how he moved from flipping cards to settling on one player before deciding to sell it all. In the midst of all of tales of wheeling and dealing, he gave valuable advice on how to keep your marriage intact during the process. Jones drops gems on the collecting conundrums throughout the latest episode of the Baseball Happenings Podcast below.