Doing My Arnold Schwarzenegger Impression

October 12, 2016


My wife and I are taking a couple of weeks to head out and see our son, daughter-in-law, our granddaughter-in-law, our grandkids, and our great granddaughter. I’ve neither written nor researched a bunch of stuff and stored little missives to post at intervals while I’m gone. So I’m telling you that for the next two weeks you’ll be wasting your time coming here and expecting new and thrilling items. Instead, go hug your kids, or significant others, or friends, or cats.

But like Arnold Schwarzenegger, I promise “I’ll be back.” (Said in an Oklahoma drawl rather than an Austrian accent).


Games in April

October 10, 2016
Cards logo

Cards logo

How many times have you heard some idiot talking sports head on TV or the radio or the internet tell you “It’s only April. The games don’t matter until August” or at least heard words to that effect? I’ve heard it a lot. Unfortunately I have to admit I’ve probably even said it. We all like the comfort of it, but if you think about it, we al so all know it’s utter nonsense. A case in point–the 2016 St. Louis Cardinals.

In case you didn’t notice the Cardinals didn’t make the playoffs although they won the last game of their season. They lost the final playoff spot to the San Francisco Giants (of course they did, it’s an even numbered year) by one, count ’em, one game.  On 5 April 2016 the Cards played the Pittsburgh Pirates and lost 6-5. On that same date the Giants played the Milwaukee Brewers and won 2-1. There it is, team, the critical game of the season. Had St. Louis won that one game, then they would have been in a one game playoff to see who got to face the New York Mets in the wildcard game. But, nope, they lost and in doing so lost the chance to tie the Giants and go on toward a possible pennant and World Series date.

Now I know you’re going “wait a minute, they lost a bunch of games, most of them after 5 April.” And you’re right. Any one single win by St. Louis would change the nature of the playoffs in the National League. My point isn’t so much that they lost on 5 April, but that the idea that early season games don’t count as much is just plain silly. So the next time you hear someone say it (and you undoubtedly will in April 2017) remind yourself that this particular so-called expert is an idiot (even if it’s me you hear say it–or type it).

And now on to the playoffs. Congrats to all the winners (and to you, Bloggess, on your Orioles). And Go Dodgers.

Picking the Winners for the Latest Vet’s Committee

October 7, 2016

Well, we have the newest version of the Veteran’s Committee getting ready to make its call for the Hall of Fame (5 November). The ballot is posted below and I always make my choices for enshrinement. This year is no different, but the way I’m going at it is.

Let me start with the players (Baines, Belle, Clark, Hershiser, McGwire). It’s not like there’s a bad player there, but there’s not much to be excited about either. McGwire has the steroid issue, Hershiser is known for one season (and more like two months), Clark was great for a few years and got hurt, Belle was a monster (ask Fernando Vina about it) but also got hurt, and Baines may be the ultimate in compiling numbers over a long, long time. It’s not like any of them is exactly a bad choice, it’s just that none of them are an inspired choice. I wouldn’t be overly upset if any of them got in, and in Albert Belle’s case I’d certainly tell him I’m all for him if he asked (I very much value my continued good health), but then again if none of them got in, I wouldn’t be overly upset either. So I guess all that means I wouldn’t, as a member of the committee, vote for any of them.

The managers are quite a different story. I loved Lou Piniella. He had fire, he had savvy, he could win with weaker teams. Davey Johnson seemed to win when he had good teams and lose with weaker teams. Like Piniella he won it all once (in 1986, before the current committee’s beginning date of 1988) and went to the playoffs a lot. But I’m setting both aside because I think the people who set up the ballot made a huge blunder here. Where the heck is Jim Leyland? Like Piniella and Johnson he made the playoffs a bunch and won it all once (1997). He’s a three time manager of the year winner, as is Piniella (twice for Johnson). Of course I’ll admit his winning percentage is lower than either of the others, but he spent time making the Pirates a winner and had to put up with Loria at Miami and still won a World Series. I’m not about to vote for the other two without being able to at least consider Leyland.

For the executives I know I would vote for John Schuerholz. He built winning teams in both Atlanta and Kansas City. Granted the KC team already had Brett and Willie Wilson and many of the others, but Schuerholz added the players necessary to get to the 1985 championship. The other two, Bud Selig and George Steinbrenner have decent cases (and I expect Selig to make it in November), but I have a personal preference for one executive at a time, so Schuerholz gets my nod.

When I first thought about this list I got a call from my son. We spent time talking about a lot of things, including the Vet’s Committee vote. He had a suggestion, which I pass along to you. Currently there are 4 Veteran’s Committees. He suggested pushing it to five. Now hear me out before you scream too loud, “They already have four and you idiots want to jump to five?” His idea was that the four current committees confine themselves to players and that a new fifth committee meet periodically (the frequency can be determined) to vote strictly on non-players (managers, owners, executives, contributors, Negro Leagues, etc.). This would allow the current committees to concentrate more on players while the new committee did all the others. Frankly, I think it’s a decent idea. They’ll never do it because then the current committees would never elect a player. In all the time they had the three previous committees they elected two total players: Deacon White and Ron Santo. They did elect a handful of non-players and taking those away would require the committees to focus on players. Maybe they wouldn’t elect anyone and maybe they shouldn’t. Anyway I thought it an idea worth passing along.

A Sad Anniversary

October 6, 2016
Sandy Koufax

Sandy Koufax

Today marks the 50th Anniversary of Sandy Koufax’s last Major League game. He lost game two of the 1966 World Series on this date, then retired. It was, when we watched it, or in my case listened to it (I was in school and most of the game was on radio) just another World Series game. True, it was one the Dodgers lost on the way to a four game sweeping by the Baltimore Orioles, but no one knew we were watching and listening to the end of legendary career. And yes, 50 years ago the World Series ended by mid-October, not early November.

Five years later Koufax became a first ballot Hall of Famer, which cemented his status as a living legend. There are few of those. Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle are some (although Mantle is now gone). It doesn’t seem like it was fifty years ago that I watched that graceful Koufax delivery or for that matter watched Mantle’s powerful swing.

To those of you too young to see Koufax (or Gibson, or Mantle, or a host of others from my youth) I offer my condolences. They really were that good. And when you reach my age I hope you will be able to say the same thing to your kids about your youthful heroes.


New Veteran’s Ballot Announced

October 4, 2016

After revamping the Veteran’s Committee (s) for the 1000th time (give or take), the Hall of Fame just announced its newest ballot. This one is for the Vet’s Committee now known as “Today’s Game.” It covers the last handful of years (since 1988) and includes the following names:

Players: Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Mark McGwire;

Managers: Lou Piniella, Davey Johnson (who might also be considered a player);

Executives: John Schuerholz, Bud Selig, George Steinbrenner.

The election will be 5 December 2016 by a 16 member committee. For election an individual must get 75% of the vote (12 voters).

My Own Little Hall of Fame: Class of 1932

October 3, 2016

The 1932 baseball season saw Babe Ruth make his last World Series appearance. It marked John McGraw’s last season as a manager. And in this blog universe it ushers in the next class of My Own Little Hall of Fame.


Louis Santop

Louis Santop

Louis Santop was a slugging catcher for the Negro Leagues from 1909 through 1926. Considered both an excellent fielder and a great hitter, he spent time with the Lincoln Giants and later with Hilldale. While at the latter he participated in the first two Negro World Series, helping his team to a victory in 1925.

Bobby Veach

Bobby Veach

Outfielder Robert “Bobby” Veach played in the American League from 1912 through 1925. While with Detroit from 1912 through 1923 he won three RBI titles, two doubles titles, and led the league with 191 hits in 1919. As a defender he led the league in putouts and assists on several occasions.


1. Once the decision was made to add Negro League players to this fictional Hall of Fame, Santop became an easy choice. Most places that try to rank Negro League players rank him as easily the second or third best catcher (behind Josh Gibson and in competition with Biz Mackey) of the leagues. He was noted for good hands as well as a big bat.

2. It is a surprise to me that Veach isn’t already a Hall of Famer. He was excellent and deserves another look by the Veteran’s Committee the next time his era’s committee comes up. BTW I note that his Baseball page is sponsored by our buddies at The Hall of Miller and Eric. Good for them.

3. The list of eligible everyday players for 1933: George Burns, Cupid Childs, Jack Daubert, Jack Fornier, Larry Gardner, Heinie Groh, Baby Doll Jacobson, Tommy Leach, Herman Long, Bobby Lowe, Tommy McCarthy, Stuffy McInnis, Clyde Milan, Wildfire Schulte, Cy Seymour, Roy Thomas, Mike Tiernan, George Van Haltren, Zack Wheat, Ross Youngs (a total of 20 with a maximum of 20 allowed).

4. The pitchers: Babe Adams, Chief Bender, Jack Chesbro, Wilbur Cooper, Walter Johnson, Sam Leever, Rube Marquard, Tony Mullane, Deacon Phillippe, Bob Shawkey, Jesse Tannehill, Doc White (a total of 12 with a maximum of 10 allowed).

5. The contributors: umpires-Bob Emslie, Tim Hurst; manager-George Stallings; owners: Barney Dreyfuss, Charles Ebbets, August Herrmann; Negro Leagues-Pete Oliver Marcell, Jose Mendez, Dobie Moore, Spottswood Poles; and pioneer William R. Wheaton (a total of 11 with 10 being the maximum).

6. I think it’s a pretty safe bet that Walter Johnson makes it next time.



Out of the Blue: A Review

September 29, 2016
Out of the Blue cover

Out of the Blue cover

Back almost 30 years ago, the Dodgers won the World Series, beating Oakland in five games. The most famous play was Kirk Gibson’s home run in game one, but Gibson didn’t win the Series MVP. Orel Hershiser did. It was Hershiser’s year. He set a record with the most scoreless innings pitched in a row, led the Dodgers to the pennant, won the National League playoff MVP, then won the Series MVP, and finished the year off with the NL Cy Young Award. Of course, out of all that came a book: Out of the Blue by Hershiser with Jerry B. Jenkins.

My guess is you’ve read some of this kind of thing. It’s basically a baseball biography of the player, in this case Hershiser, until he gets to the big season and leads his team to victory in the World Series. There are a bunch of these and they’re all pretty much the same. If, by this point, you don’t really care about how the Dodgers won the Series in 1988 or how Hershiser rose from relative obscurity to one of the great one year wonders ever, then you probably think you could care less about this book. You’re wrong.

As I just typed, most of the book is fairly typical of this genre of literature, but there is a single section that makes it different and still interesting for non-1988 freaks. The most interesting part of the book is first 53 pages (specifically section 2 of five), which are a chronicle of how Hershiser prepared to pitch a game. It begins with his getting out of bed, goes through his breakfast routine, his morning, how he got to the park, what he did there to prepare for the game, and ends with him taking the mound. He talks about pitching mechanics, how to prepare for a particular team, his daily regimen, how he deals with his family on game day (and the days he isn’t pitching). It is, all in all, a fascinating look at how a pitcher goes about preparing to do his job. Hershiser reminds us a pitcher doesn’t just show up, grab a ball, warm up, and pitch. If you really think about it, you instinctively know that, but how often do you think about it? Hershiser does a good job letting us in on how it’s done at the big league level.

The book came out in 1989 and is by Wolgemuth & Hyatt Publishers. I got mine as a gift from my wife, so I have no idea what it cost at the time (there’s no price on the jacket). I still read it every so often when I want to remind myself just how much commitment it takes to be a Big League ball player. For that it’s worth the read. For the other stuff, it’s dated and of interest only if the 1988 season is of particular interest to you. You can probably find it used online or at a library.

Evermey6r’s Glove

September 26, 2016
A glove

A glove

Sometimes you just love a game. You can’t play it well, but you love it anyway. You get a chance to play it, you go play it. You don’t care what people say about your skills, you just want to play. I had a friend like that in Viet Nam. His name was Evermeyer and he was the kind of guy they talk about when they say about his batting that he “couldn’t hit the floor if he fell out of bed.” Or when fielding that he “couldn’t catch a cold.” But we all loved him.

To explain the kind of guy he was, let me tell you this story. When you arrived in Viet Nam you got new jungle fatigues. Those were the normal uniform you wore, not the fancier green or khaki uniforms with all the fancy ribbons, bells, and whistles. They fit loosely, were always baggy (which in Nam heat was a good thing), and of course they came with nametags. The local populace provided girls who would sew on your name over the right pocket and “US Army” over the left pocket. Of course the American names meant nothing to them, so you got some odd spellings. In Evermeyer’s case one of the girls didn’t quite cut off the stitching on the two lower lines of the last “e” in his name and more or less sewed them together. That made it look suspiciously like a 6. Of course that led to a name tag that looked something like this: Evermey6r. If it was wrong, you could take it back and they’d fix it, but Evermey6r loved it, so he kept it and made sure to wear it when he was going to be in what passed for formal surroundings in our unit (that means when some bigwig was around). Someone always took the bait and the conversation generally went something like this:

“You got a six in your name?”

“That’s what it says, sir.”

“How do you pronounce it?”

“Evermeyer, sir.”

“What happened to the six?”

“It’s silent, sir.”

Worked every time. So we loved him.

But he couldn’t play ball at all. He tried. I gotta give him credit, he tried. He was awful at the plate, worse in the field. We always stuck him in the outfield and told him to play deep. That led to him coming up with the following gag.

When someone asked him where he played, he’d tell them “outfield.” And of course they all took the bait and he just reeled them in.

“Which outfield position?”

“Way out.” See, I told you, we loved the guy.

So one day we’re playing on the field I’ve mentioned a few times before. It was dusty, not much of a field, and that day we had only a handful of guys on either team. Evermey6r was on mine and stationed well out in the field (I was at first as usual) when someone hit a long one. It wasn’t all that high, but it was going over Evermey6r’s head for a lot of bases. He must have been tired or disgusted or bored or something because he simply tossed his glove in the air at the ball.

And for the first, and probably only time in its life, the glove made honest-to-God contact with a ball in anger. Not only did they collide, but the ball stuck in the webbing somehow and the two of them, ball and glove together, fell to the dirt pocket side up so the ball wasn’t touching the ground. They landed a couple of feet from Evermey6r who stared at them. And all the rest of us froze.

Quite simply no one knew what to do. Today I know that it’s not a legal catch, because you can’t throw an object at the ball, but none of us knew that back in 1968. None of us had a set of the rules (we didn’t play well enough to need one), but here was a ball that was caught by a glove. The glove simply didn’t happen to be attached to a hand at the time. So we argued about whether it was an out or not. My team, the one in the field, said they guy was out, after all the ball was in leather and hadn’t touched the ground. There was no dirt in Evermeyr’s glove, he’d never managed to catch anything that would make it dirty, so you could obviously see the ball was in the glove. The other team was sure he was safe, but wasn’t quite sure where he was safe (first, second, third, maybe a home run?). After an indeterminate amount of time and argument common sense prevailed. There wasn’t much of that around or none of us would have ended up in Viet Nam, but someone finally came up with a solution. We gave the guy a ground rule double and went back to playing (and no, I don’t remember if he scored or not).

Evermey6r was ecstatic in a way only an incompetent who’d lucked into doing something right can be (dumb luck takes care of its own). He’d made a play. Well, sort of a play. Somebody suggested we let him keep the ball (which we did) and he could bronze the damned thing and his utterly useless glove so they could be together for all time.

I lost contact with Evermeyer (OK, I’ll spell it right this time) after I left Viet Nam. I ended up in Virginia and he went to Colorado (I think) to finish his tour of duty. I hope he still has the ball and the glove. If not, I hope he sold the glove for a goodly sum, after all it was only used once.


September 22, 2016
"Sport" Sullivan

“Sport” Sullivan

Recently I took a quick look at Abe Atell, one of the gamblers involved in the fixing of the 1919 World Series. As important as Atell was in the entire affair, other gamblers should really hold center stage. One of the most important was “Sport” Sullivan.

Joseph Sullivan was born in November 1870. His parents were from Ireland, making him first generation. For most of his life his census records show him as a realtor, or at least someone working in a real estate office. And I suppose he actually did make some money at some point in real estate, but by 1903 he was considered the premier gambler in the Boston area. Newspaper accounts of the era detail him making $1000 bets on the 1903 World Series (he bet on Boston to win). Either he was making a lot of money in real estate or he’d already begun his gambling ventures.

He found sports gambling to be the most lucrative bets, leading to his nickname. He bet on baseball, but he came to prominence primarily as a boxing gambler. He was accused of fixing fights, and of trying to influence early auto races in the Boston area. And as a successful gambler he was recognized as an expert on the sports involved. After all only an expert could make money the way he did when it came to sporting events.

Of course we know there is another possibility that explains Sullivan’s expertise in sports gambling. He was, as early as 1906, getting in trouble with the Boston police for fixing sporting events. He’d pay fines and be back on the streets in hours, but I find no evidence that he spent time in jail. By 1916 he was the acknowledged king of Boston gamblers.

Hollywood's version of Sullivan (Kevin Tighe)

Hollywood’s version of Sullivan (Kevin Tighe)

As a gambler, and I suppose this is as good a time to point out that Sullivan seldom “gambled” on anything; he only bet on sure things, particularly things he could fix before hand. But as a gambler, Sullivan was well known in the community of ball players. He was known for cultivating them, dining with them, helping them out in a pinch (there is some speculation that he found them available female companionship). And that got him access to the 1919 Chicago White Sox and the idea of throwing the World Series. It’s impossible to tell who initially came up with the idea of fixing the Series, but Sullivan was front and center in the entire enterprise. He knew Chick Gandil (since at least 1912) and Eddie Cicotte played for Boston for five years (1908-1912). Things get a little murky here because Gandil said Sullivan proposed the fix while Sullivan laid the blame on Gandil (which ever one you believe, make sure you check to see that you wallet is still there when you leave them).

However it began, Sullivan provided much of the money to pay the players and got more from Arnold Rothstein. Not all of it went to the players and Sullivan made a lot of money betting on the Reds to win the Series. But there were consequences to winning all that money. When the dust settled in 1920 and 1921, Kennesaw Mountain Landis banned Sullivan from ball parks throughout the country.

That was the beginning of Sport Sullivan’s fall from the top of the gambling pyramid. Without access to the parks and players involved in the most important sport in the US, he rapidly faded. He still made money, but now was making ten bucks when previously he’d made thousands. He lived on to April 1949, mostly forgotten but not poor either.

Sullivan's grave from Find a Grave

Sullivan’s grave from Find a Grave



A Dozen Things You Should Know About George McQuillan

September 20, 2016
George McQuillan with the Phillies

George McQuillan with the Phillies

Another of the players on my fantasy team that I’ve been looking into is George McQuillan. Here’s a brief look at him.

1. George Watt McQuillan was born in 1885 in Brooklyn, the first generation son of Irish immigrants.

2. The family moved to Paterson, New Jersey where he finished high school, worked as an electrician for the Edison Company, and played minor league baseball.

3. In 1907, he was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies as a right-handed pitcher. He went 4-0 with an ERA of 0.66.

4. His career year was 1908. He was 23-17, had an ERA of 1.53, seven shutouts, 114 strikeouts, a 157 ERA+, and racked up 9.4 WAR.

5. He spent the offseason in the Cuban Winter League. His team folded, he got sick (the specific sickness is in dispute, ranging from jaundice to venereal disease to alcoholism), and returned to the US.

6. He was 13-16 in 1909, and if the alcoholism wasn’t already a problem, began drinking too much during the season. It led to bad numbers and to a divorce. He improved a little in 1910, but the drinking was still a problem. That got him sent to Cincinnati.

7. Late in 1910 he checked into a Hot Springs, Arkansas hospital and was diagnosed with second stage syphilis (the venereal disease seems most likely as the Cuban era problem). The Reds picked up the bill, and during treatment McQuillan reconciled with his wife.

8. This led to one of the more strange episodes in McQuillan’s career. He bought $270 in jewelry for his wife from a local jeweler (a peace offering maybe?). He didn’t have the cash so credit was arranged. It took two years for the jeweler to get his money. He had to appeal to the National League in order to have McQuillan’s check garnished.

9. Whether he was well or not, or an alcoholic, or both, George McQuillan was never again the same pitcher. He spent 1912 in the minors, then returned to the NL with the Pirates. He had a couple of winning seasons, but was never again the team “ace.” In 1915 he was traded back to the Phils where he helped them (4-3 with a 2.12 ERA) to a pennant. He did not pitch in the World Series, which Philadelphia lost 4 games to 1.

10. His last big league year was 1918. His career record is 85-89 with an ERA of 2.38 (ERA+ of 113), and 21.5 WAR. His career 1.79 ERA while in Philadelphia is still first among Phillies pitchers.

11. He remained in the minor leagues through 1924 and retired.

12. After baseball he managed a furniture warehouse in Columbus, Ohio and died in May 1940.