Posts Tagged ‘Joe Garagiola’

Good Bye to 2016

December 29, 2016
Hopefully I won't have to be this old before the Dodgers win

Hopefully I won’t have to be this old before the Dodgers win

Another baseball season is over. The winners are crowned, the loser mourned. The postseason awards are announced, the winter meetings are through, and the Veteran’s Committee has spoken. Here, in my usual nine things for nine innings format, are a few random thoughts on what we saw (and didn’t see) in 2016.

1. The Cubs finally won. It hadn’t happened in 108 years and the Cubs fans are joyous. But I wonder if some of the mystique that surrounded the Cubs wasn’t harmed. The “loveable loser” moniker is gone, as is the “sit in the sun, drink beer, and don’t worry about the score” motif of Cubsdom is over. Will it hurt the overall fan base, or not. I have no idea.

2. Can the Angels find a pitcher? They have Mike Trout, arguably the best player in the Major Leagues in a long time. They have Albert Pujols, a shadow of what he was at St. Louis, but still a formidable player (He had 119 RBIs and needs nine homers for 600). C. J. Cron is 26 and Kole Calhoun is 29. And they still can’t win. Maybe the problem is the staff, maybe it’s the coaching staff (Scioscia hasn’t led them very far in a while), but they just don’t win.

3. Sticking with the West Coast, but moving to Chavez Ravine, we say good-bye to Vin Scully who, for 67 years, graced us with his voice, his wit, his stories. I liked Jack Buck and Dizzy Dean. I liked Bob Prince and Russ Hodges, but there was only one Vin. Maybe he’ll be the first broadcaster elected to the Hall of Fame itself, not just to the broadcasters niche. And the Dodgers answered the question, “who needs an ace?” by rattling off a ton of wins with Clayton Kershaw injured.

4. I loved that Royals team that won in 2014 and 2015, but injuries and free agency have taken their toll. I’d love to see them back in the mix again, but I’m afraid it will have to be with a very different set of players. That’s a shame; they were fun to watch.

5. Then there’s Cleveland. They now have the longest streak of not having won the World Series (since 1948). It’s a good team with a very good manager and I’d like to see them break their streak (but not at the expense of my Dodgers). And sticking with the Indians, I hope the Terry Francona method of using his relievers in key situations, not just the ninth inning, catches on.

6. So Bud Selig is now a Hall of Famer. OK, I guess. There have been better choices and there have been worse choices. Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mike Piazza also made it. They were better, and easier, choices.

7. We lost W.P. Kinsella this year. He gave us the book Shoeless Joe, which in turn gave us the movie Field of Dreams. We also lost Hall of Famer Monte Irvin and broadcast legend Joe Garagiola, and  current pitcher Felix Fernandez, among others.

8. Dan Duquette is an honest man. He told us that the Orioles weren’t interested in Jose Bautista because the fans didn’t like him. OK, I guess. It’s honest, but I don’t know how much baseball sense it makes. Thoughts, Bloggess?

9. Buck Showalter is getting another year. He’s a fine manager, but he’s gotta know when to bring in his relief ace.

And finally it’s time for my annual Dodgers rallying cry “Wait ’til next year.” Why change the cry now; it’s been good for 28 years.

 

RIP Joe Garagiola

March 23, 2016

Just saw that Joe Garagiola died at age 90. He played for St. Louis in the 1940s, making the 1946 World Series team, then bounced around with teams like Pittsburgh, Chicago, and the Giants. He last played in 1954.

Never a particularly great player he made his name as one of those broadcasters who came out of St. Louis in the 1950s (Jay Randolph, Jack Buck, Dizzy Dean were others). He was on national television broadcasting several World Series’ for NBC. He also did a stint on the “Today” show and hosted a handful of game shows. In 1991 he won the Frick Award for broadcasting, giving him an entrée into the Hall of Fame (he’s not actually a member but the award winners are recognized at the same time as the inductees). Additionally, his son Joe Junior became general manager of the Diamondbacks and serves as VP for on-field operations of MLB.

Garagiola was also famous for his books on baseball and for his after dinner speeches at various functions. Many of the stories about Yogi Berra and many of Berra’s more famous quotes came from Garagiola speeches. He’s someone who definitely deserved the title “lifelong baseball man.”

RIP, Joe.

The Kid vs. The Man: Fenway

August 25, 2014

With the 1946 World Series tied at one win apiece, the action moved to Fenway Park in Boston. If either team could sweep in Fenway, the Series would end. A split would send the teams back to Sportsman’s Park for at least one game. The question of using the “Williams Shift” was answered in St. Louis, but the question of how well Ted Williams and Stan Musial would do remained, as did the question of how well each pitching staff would hold up.

Rudy York

Rudy York

The Bosox sent Boo Ferriss to the mound. With two out he walked Musial who immediately stole second. Then in a bazaar pick-off play, third baseman Pinky Higgins slipped in behind Musial and Ferriss caught “The Man” flatfooted for the final out of the inning. Cardinals starter Murry Dickson managed to get an out, then a single and ground out put Johnny Pesky on second with two outs. Dickson intentionally walked Williams to bring up Rudy York. York smashed a ball to left that cleared the “green monster” for a three run home run. It turned out to be all the help Ferriss needed. He gave up six hits, walked one, and struck out two on the way to a complete game shutout. Meanwhile the Red Sox tacked on another run in the eighth to win the game 4-0 and go up 2-1 in the Series.

 

Cards catcher Joe Garagiola

Cards catcher Joe Garagiola

Game four was the only blowout in the Series. The Cards jumped on Red Sox starter Tex Hughson for six runs in three innings. An Enos Slaughter home run, a couple of singles, a sacrifice and St. Louis had three runs in the second. They added three more in the third on a single, an error, a double, and another single. Hughson didn’t get a single out in the third. The Cardinals proceeded to pile on five Boston relievers finally scoring a total of 12 runs. Catcher Joe Garagiola went four for five with two doubles and three RBIs. Shortstop Marty Marion was three for four with three RBIs. Boston managed all of three runs off St. Louis started Red Munger, only one of them earned. Two came on a home run by second baseman Bobby Doerr. Now with four games played, the Series was tied 2-2, making the championship a best two of three with St. Louis having two home games.

 

Joe Dobson

Joe Dobson

Game five was played on a Friday, 11 October. It was one of the best games of the Series. The Sox got three hits and a run off St. Louis starter Howie Pollet. It was enough for manager Eddie Dyer and out went Pollet and in came reliever Al Brazle. Boston starter Joe Dobson gave back an unearned run in the top of the second, but Boston went ahead in the bottom of the second on two singles sandwiched around a sacrifice bunt. The score stayed 2-1 until the bottom of the sixth when Leon Culberson launched a home run to put the Red Sox up 3-1. In the seventh a tiring Brazle gave up a double to Dom DiMaggio, then intentionally walked York. Higgins drove in DiMaggio then after another intentional walk, Roy Partee hit a double play ball to Marty Marion, who proceeded to throw it away allowing both York and Higgins to score. Then with two outs in the ninth, an error plated two final runs for the Cards giving Boston a 6-3 win. Dobson pitched well, striking out eight, walking only one, and allowing four hits. All three St. Louis runs were unearned.

With the Series set to return to St. Louis with the Red Sox up 3-2 the question of how well the pitching staffs would hold up was pretty well answered. Other than the Boston meltdown in game four both staffs had done their job. The Cards had given up 14 runs, and Boston only 20 (12 of those in game four). So far neither Williams nor Musial were doing much.

The Kid vs. The Man: the Opening Games

August 22, 2014

The 1946 World Series began in Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis on Sunday, 6 October. There were a number of questions that hung over the Series. How would Ted Williams do? How would Stan Musial do? Was either pitching staff up to the task? Would St. Louis employ the “Williams Shift”? The Shift was designed to defend against Williams’ tendency to pull the ball to right field. The shortstop (in this case Marty Marion) would move to the first base side of second while the third baseman (in this case Whitey Kurowski) would assume Marion’s normal shortstop position. As long as second and third base were unoccupied it gave the defense a distinct advantage versus the best hitter in the American League. The short answer was “Yes,” the Cardinals would use the Shift.

Rudy York

Rudy York

Game 1

For the opening game, the Cards sent Howie Pollet to the mound. He pitched reasonably well, giving up three hits and striking out another three. He did, however, give up four walks, two to Williams. The Red Sox picked up a run in the second when Pollet hit Rudy York with a pitch. York went to second on a walk, and came home on a single by Pinky Higgins. The Cards got the run back off Boston starter Tex Hughson when Red Schoendienst singled then scored on a Musial double. In the bottom of the eighth, they got another run when Kurowski singled and catcher Joe Garagiola doubled to plate Kurowski. Pollet needed three outs to clinch game one. With one out Higgins singled and was replaced on base by Don Gutteridge. A Rip Russell single sent Gutteridge to third. With two outs, right fielder Tom McBride singled to score Gutteridge and tie up the game. It went 11 innings. In the top of the 11th, York homered off Pollet and reliever Earl Johnson set down St. Louis without a run to pick up the win and put Boston ahead.

Harry Brecheen

Harry Brecheen

Game 2

The second game of the Series was held the next day. It was a pitching masterpiece for Cards starter Harry Brecheen. He pitched a complete game shutout allowing four hits, three walks, and struck out four. He allowed a first inning single, then got out of the inning on a double play. In the second he walked two (one intentionally) but got out of it with three harmless groundouts. In the fourth it was a walk and a single that put two men on, but again a groundout ended the threat. After that he never allowed two men on in any inning. Meanwhile, St. Louis got a run in the third when catcher Del Rice doubled and Brecheen singled to score Rice. They tacked on two more in the fifth when Rice and Brecheen scored on a single by Terry Moore and groundout by Musial (Brecheen could hit a little too.). Both runs were unearned. Losing pitcher Mickey Harris went seven innings, gave up six hits, walked three, struck out three and gave up all three runs.

After game two the Series shifted to Boston with the teams tied at one win each. How were the questions being answered? So far Williams was one for seven with two walks and a strikeout. Musial was one for nine (a double) with two RBIs and a strikeout. Both pitching staffs had done well. St. Louis had given up three runs, one in extra innings, and Boston had given up five, only three of which were earned.

 

The Kid vs The Man: St. Louis

August 20, 2014
Stan The Man

Stan The Man

If Boston was new at winning pennants, to St. Louis it was something like old hat. The Cards had picked up two pennants in the 1920s (one Series championship), three in the 1930s (two championships), and three in the 1940s (winning two championships). But the team underwent changes in the aftermath of World War II, including losing former MVP Mort Cooper to the Braves along with his brother Walker to the Giants. Long time manager (and Hall of Famer) Billy Southworth was gone. In his place was rookie manager Eddie Dyer. He managed to get the team to a 96-58 record and a tie with Brooklyn for first place. In the best of three playoff format of the era, the Cards won the first two games (4-2 and 8-4) to claim the pennant and advance to the 1946 World Series.

The Cardinals infield consisted of Hall of Famer and 1946 MVP Stan Musial at first (he also played 42 games in the outfield). It was a fairly typical Musial year leading the National League in runs, hits, doubles, triples, batting average, slugging, total bases. Throughout their 1940s pennant run, St. Louis had burned through a series of second basemen with names like Creepy Crespi and Emil Verban. In 1946 they finally decided to move a new outfielder named Red Schoendienst into second base. It worked. He hit .281, stole 12 bases (tied for the team lead), scored 94 runs, and eventually made the Hall of Fame. Marty Marion held down shortstop. He had his usual solid season in the field leading the NL in defensive WAR (Baseball Reference.com version), assists, putouts, and double plays. Unfortunately, he hit only .233. At third, Whitey Kurowski hit .301 with 14 home runs, and 89 RBIs.

The outfield was in transition. Musial spent more time at first and center field stalwart Terry Moore became the fourth outfielder for much of the year (although by the World Series he was doing most of the center field work). Hall of Fame right fielder Enos Slaughter had a good year hitting .300 with 18 home runs (which led the team), and driving in 130 runs (which also led the team). Harry “the Hat” Walker (Dixie Walker’s brother) took over the bulk of the center field work but hit only .237 (he’d win a batting title later). It got him sent into something like a platoon situation in left field by the time the World Series came around. He also had 12 stolen bases to tie Schoendienst for the team lead. Erv Dusak played left field more often than anyone else, but hit only .240 with nine home runs. Joe Garagiola, who went on to fame as a broadcaster (he won a spot at the Hall of Fame as both a broadcaster and humanitarian) was a 20-year-old catcher. He hit .237 with neither power nor speed. Del Rice did a lot of the backup catching.

For much of their history, the Cardinals have produced a slew of pitchers who were very good for a short period of time, then faded for whatever reason. The 1946 staff was right inline with that tradition. With former ace Max Lanier in Mexico (and banned from the Major Leagues for five years), the Cards relied to two right handers: Johnny Beazley and Ken Burkhart. Both gave up more hits than they had innings pitched and had more walks than strikeouts. From the left side Harry Brecheen (the old man of the lot at 30) and Howie Pollet had ERA’s under 2.50 and had more strikeouts than walks. They also had more innings pitched than hits allowed. Both Murry Dickson and Al Brazle split time between starting and the bullpen with Ted Wilks and Red Barrett working mostly out of the bullpen.

All in all the team was not as formidable as the 1942 version (which some people still insist is the best ever Cardinals team) but was solid. The stretch run and playoffs against the Dodgers helped make the team more seasoned than the Red Sox (who coasted to victory). For the World Series, they would have home field.

 

 

2014 Spink, O’Neil, and Frick Awards

December 11, 2013
Roger Angell

Roger Angell

With all the hoopla present in the Veteran’s Committee and BBWAA votes for the Hall of Fame, we tend to forget that the Hall of Fame is also in charge of three other awards: The J G Taylor Spink Award for writers, the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters, and the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award for humanitarian contributions to the game. The winners of those three awards have been announced for this year.

The Spink Award was given to Roger Angell. Angell is a writer whose baseball prose is among my favorites. He is the first non-member of the BBWAA to win this award. His most famous work is probably “The Summer Game” written in 1972 (at least it’s my favorite). He was featured on Ken Burns’ “Baseball” series on PBS when it aired.

The Frick Award went to Eric Nadel, broadcaster for the Texas Rangers. Nadel has been Rangers broadcaster for years. Around here you get to listen to him a lot. He’s actually pretty good. Not least among his attributes is his ability to surmount a color guy who is a dope. He’s had some of those (and also some very excellent color guys too).

The O’Neil goes to Joe Garagiola. The O’Neil Award is the newest of the three. It’s given out at three-year intervals to persons who have enhanced “baseball’s positive image on society, who broadens the games appeal, and whose integrity and dignity are comparable to the namesake of the award” (quoted directly from the Wikipedia page about the award). Garagiola is the third to receive the award.

All three awards are officially given to the winner at the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Cooperstown and the winner gives a speech. This has led to the winners being referred to as “Hall of Famers.” This is incorrect, as none of the award winners are actually elected to the Hall. The Spink and Frick awards have plaques in the Hall library where the winner’s names are inscribed. Near the entrance to the Hall is a statue of O’Neil, the names of the winners are added to a plaque near the statue.

I like these awards being given out. The writers and broadcasters have added so much to the game that it’s fair they be remembered. As for the humanitarian award, it’s worthwhile to see an award named for Buck O’Neil, one of the grand men of the game. If I get to listen to the ceremony, I always look forward to the award winners speeches. They are generally more polished than the honorees and filled with anecdotes that are poignant and funny.

Quick Garagiola story (that I hope he tells in his speech). He came to the Majors with the Cards and later became a broadcaster. As a broadcaster, he asked to see his scouting report. They showed it to him. Under the heading Speed was the word “deceptive”. Then in parenthesis the phrase “slower than he looks.” See why I look forward to those speeches?

Hollywood Meets the Diamond

May 3, 2013
John McGraw, budding Thespian

John McGraw, budding Thespian

As something of a followup to the last post, I decided to look more heavily into Hollywood’s love affair with baseball. I’ve done some of this kind of thing before, but this time I decided to see if I could put together a full team of players who have appeared on either TV or in the movies playing someone other than themselves (or a baseball player). It got a little silly for a while, but this is a pretty good set of players (I wonder if Olivier could hit).  I had to violate the playing someone else or not being a ball player a few times, but you’ll see why when you read them. I’m sure I missed a couple of greats, so feel free to add to the list.

1st base–Lou Gehrig. Back on 26 February 2010 I did a review of Gehrig’s foray into Westerns. He did an oater called “Rawhide” a year before he retired.

2nd base–Jackie Robinson. I also did a review of Robinson’s movie “The Jackie Robinson Story.” Gehrig did a better acting job. OK, this violates the play someone other than themselves (or a ball player) caveat, but it’s Robinson.

shortstop–Maury Wills. Wills shows up with four credits, three as a coach. The other is on “Get Smart”, the old spy spoof.

3rd base–Ron Cey. In 1987 he shows up as an uncredited member of the band in “Murder, She Wrote.”

outfield–Babe Ruth. Again I violated my “no ball player” rule, but it’s the Babe. He played a ball player named Babe Dugan in a film called “Babe Comes Home” in 1927. The IMDB indicates that the movie is lost.

outfield–Ty Cobb. Ok this time I violated the “appeared” part of my criteria. During the 1950s, Cobb wrote five stories and screenplays that showed up on television. Two were for a show called “The Adventures of Champion” (ole Champ was a horse).

outfield–Duke Snider. The Duke shows up with five credits. In one he plays himself, in a second he’s a center fielder. In the other three he has a role. One of those is opposite another former ball player, Chuck Connors, in “The Rifleman.”

catcher–Joe Garagiola. Best catcher I could find who played something other than himself. He appeared in one episode of “Police Story” in 1975. He played a cop. 

DH–Mike Donlin. Of all these guys, Donlin had the best movie career. I did a post on him on 5 January 2011. He ended up with 63 credits, most of them silents.

pitcher–Sandy Koufax. Way back when he was still an unknown, Koufax got into four TV shows: two Westerns, two cop shows. One of the cop shows was in 1959, the other three credits were in 1960.

manager–John McGraw. In 1914, McGraw appeared as Detective Swift in a short called “Detective Swift.” To top it off, Hans Lobert’s wife (cleverly called “Mrs. Hans Lobert) has a role in the short.

Not a bad list, right? There are an inordinate number of Los Angeles Dodgers in the list. That’s not because I’m a fan (although I am), but it makes great sense that the team in LA is going to have a large number of players available locally to show up for bit parts in both the moves and TV.

This list also excludes those players who showed up on Broadway (like Donlin) or in Vaudeville. McGraw and Christy Mathewson had a vaudeville act where they showed the audience how to throw a pitch. The earliest one of these I could find was an 1880s reference that indicated that King Kelly would appear on stage and dance while the band played “Slide, Kelly, Slide.” We’ve come a long way, I think.

Calls of a Lifetime

May 11, 2011

The one and only Vin Scully

You know what I miss about modern baseball? No, it isn’t the great pitching, there’s a lot of that around. It isn’t the wonderful fielding, take a look at “Web Gems”. It isn’t the hitting, these guys can hit. What I miss is the men who used to call the games.

I miss Mel Allen. I miss Red Barber. I miss Russ Hodges. They were the main men in New York baseball when I was very young. They knew how to describe a game in vivid words that painted pictures of the game, of the field, of the players, and of the fans. Allen had sheer joy, Barber colorful use of words, Hodges wore his emotions on his sleeve. In fact, Hodges gave us all one of the single greatest calls of a lifetime with his 1951 “The Giants Win the Pennant” repeated a thousand times. Go to You Tube or somewhere and just listen to the joy and astonishment in his voice. Don’t look at the picture, just listen to the voice. You know what happened if you just listen.

Of course there were others. Dizzy Dean was a world to himself. Half the time I didn’t understand him (and neither did anyone else except for maybe Mrs. Dean) but who cared; he was wonderful. Jack Buck was understated and almost emotionless sometimes, and that was a wonderful tonic to the “rah, rah” types that drove me crazy. And nobody ever knew how to simply shut up and let the crowd do the talking than Buck.  Joe Garagiola knew more about baseball than most people could learn in a 1000 years. Both were out of St. Louis (And isn’t it amazing how many great play-by-play guys have come out of St. Louis?) so I got to hear them a lot. Ernie Harwell could describe a play better than anyone I ever heard. Bob Prince was a little too much for me, but his love for his Pirates was so obvious you let it slide sometimes. And Curt Gowdy could announce anything and have you impressed.

There aren’t a lot of them left. You still hear Jay Randolph on an occasional Cardinals broadcast (see what I mean about St. Louis) and there is not, nor has there ever been, anyone quite like Vin Scully. Take time someday and just listen to the man. Even his non-baseball talks are a treat to the ears.

Now it’s not that the new guys are bad, they just aren’t quite as good. Too many of them simply call a game and don’t describe it. I guess that’s television and the idea that you can see for yourself what’s going on. But you know what? I miss the old guys who knew you had to describe a game as well as call it.

Great Calls

May 6, 2010

The death of Ernie Harwell reminded me how much I miss the truly great voices of baseball. SportsPhd had a wonderful comment on Harwell (which you should read, especially if you’re a dad) and mentioned the now stilled voices of the past.  He mentions a lot of them, missing  Bob Prince at Pittsburgh and Russ Hodges with the Giants.  But then it’s a short blog, not a dissertation. It’s right that we sit and remember these people. They mean as much to baseball as the players, the managers, the peanut vendors, the owners, the fans, the print reporters, and the guy who trims the ivy at Wrigley Field. For some of us, it’s how we got our baseball.

They are sometimes famous for catchphrases like Red Barber’s “catbird’s seat” or Mel Allen’s “how about that”. Others are noted for the delivery style like Dizzy Dean’s mangling of the English language or Vin Scully’s use of classical allusion. Still others are best noted for simply knowing when to shut up. Jack Buck being the great practitioner of that.

There are specific calls that ring in my head when I think of baseball. None are more memorable than Russ Hodges’ “The Giants win the pennant. The Giants win the pennant. The Giants win the pennant.”  The call that announced that New York was going to the World Series in 1951 gets my vote as greatest call ever. Others will disagree. I know several people who love Bob Prince’s call of Bill Mazeroski’s home run in game seven of 1960.

Jack Buck also has two of my favorites. One is his response to Kirk Gibson’s home run in 1988, “I don’t believe what I just saw.” The other is his comment when Gene Larkin hit the little single that put the Minnesota Twins over the top in 1991, “The Twins are going to win the World Series.” What a wonderful bit of understatement. Then the Twins swarmed on the field and Tom Kelly went to the Braves bench to congratulate the Braves. Buck’s response? Silence. He knew when to shut up and let the camera do its job.

My personal favorite is Vin Scully, but then I’m a Dodgers fan. I love his use of the  language. I still remember him calling Sandy Koufax’s perfect game late in the evening on the radio. Wow.

I’ve left out a bunch: Joe Garagiola, Jay Randolph, etc. But there’s no slight meant. I’d give a whole lot just to hear the voices of those that are gone and those that are retired. I hope the generations that follow get to hear something like them. If not, those generations are really going to miss something very special.

Rest in Peace, Ernie Harwell.