Posts Tagged ‘Stan Coveleski’

A Series of Firsts

November 3, 2016
Cubs win

Cubs win

Let me start by congratulating the Cubs on finally winning a World Series in my lifetime (can’t say the same for the Indians). So now they are officially 1-108. Also congrats to Ben Zobrist, one of my favorites, on winning the Series MVP Award. Like most World Series’ there were a number of firsts in this one. In honor of a nine inning game, here’s nine for the Cubs:

1. One of the most important firsts involves Dexter Fowler. The last time the Cubs participated in a World Series was 1945. Jackie Robinson didn’t arrive in Brooklyn until 1947, so Fowler becomes the first black man to play in a World Series for the Cubs. It also means that now every franchise that has been to a World Series, (all but the Nationals and Seattle) has carried a black player on its roster during the World Series. It may be the most important first. And sticking with Fowler we get two more firsts. He is the first Cub to strike out in a World Series since 1945 and he is the first Cubs player to hit a home run since Phil Cavarretta did it in game one of 1945.

2. Jake Arrieta became the first Chicago Cubs pitcher to win a World Series game since integration when he won game two. The last Cubs pitcher to win a Series game? Hank Borowy won game 6 of 1945 (3 October 1945).

3. Ben Zobrist has a number of firsts. He became the first Cub to get a hit since 1945 and the first to get an extra base hit (a double) since 1945. As the MVP he becomes the first Cub to win the World Series MVP award (there was no Series award in 1945–it began in 1955).

4. Kyle Schwarber became the first player ever to get his first hit of the season in the World Series. Never been done before. He also got the first Cubs walk since 1945.

5. Kris Bryant scored the first Cubs run since game 7 of 1945.

6. Jon Lester became the first Cubs pitcher to lose a game (game 1) since Hank Borowy lost game seven in 1945. Yes, Borowy both won game six and lost game seven in 1945. He relieved in six and started seven.

7. Addison Russell hit the first grand slam in Chicago Cubs World Series history.

8. In 1945 the Cubs won game six at home. Their game five win in 2016 is their first home victory since. And it continues a Cubs tradition. Chicago played its first World Series game in Wrigley Field in 1929 (the 1906-08 and 1910 World Series were played in a different park and the 1918 Series was in Comiskey Park). Between 1929 and 2016 the Cubs are, in World Series play, 7-9 (.438 winning percentage) on the road. They are 3-14 (.176 winning percentage) in Wrigley (wins coming in 1935, 1945, and 2016).

9. In 1935 Frank Demaree hit two home runs against Detroit. In 2016 he was joined by both Bryant and Fowler, making them the first Cubs to hit two home runs in a Series since 1935 and the first time two Cubs did it in the same Series..

10. And in honor of the game going 10 innings last evening, here’s one for the Indians. In 1920 Stan Coveleski started three games on the mound for Cleveland. Corey Kluber is the first Indians pitcher to start three games in the Series since Coveleski. Kluber went 2-0, Coveleski 3-0.

 

The Cat,

May 19, 2014
Harry Brecheen

Harry Brecheen

This is the first of three posts about left-handed pitchers of the 1940s and 1950. All three were major contributors to their teams, but were never considered top line pitchers (although one came close). I wanted to take some time and introduce you to them.

Harry “the Cat” Brecheen spent most of the 1940s pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals. It was a team dominated by hitters like Stan Musial and Enos Slaughter. But the pitching was pretty good also and Brecheen ended up the best of the lot.

Brecheen was born in October 1914 in Oklahoma. He liked baseball, was left-handed, and learned to throw a screwball as a kid. Major Leaguer Cy Blanton barnstormed in the area and Brecheen credited him with explaining the mechanics of the screwball. In 1931 he was the ace of an American Legion youth team that won the Oklahoma state championship.

By age 20 he’d been discovered. He pitched in Class C Greenville, Mississippi and A level Galveston, Texas in 1935. He went 5-7 with an ERA north of five. In 1936 he split time between Class C Bartlesville, Oklahoma and Galveston. This time he went 6-22 and his ERA dropped into the fours. But he got the attention of the Chicago Cubs. They signed him to Class B Portsmouth, Virginia where he went 21-6. Being the Cubs, they traded their 21-6 lefty to St. Louis. The Cards left him in the minors into 1942. He had a winning record every year, kept his ERA in the threes or twos and in the years where the stats are available he had a lot more strikeouts than walks (He di pitch three innings with the big league club in 1940, but that’s all).

He got to the Majors to stay in 1943. He went 9-6, starting 13 games (of 20 pitched), with four saves, and posting a 2.26 ERA. He got into three World Series games that postseason, losing one game (the fourth) in relief.  He was 28 already which meant he’d gotten to the big time about the same time as a pitcher’s normal peak. For the next several years he was a mainstay of the Cardinals staff. They won a World Series in 1944 With Brecheen pitching a  complete game victory in game four.

But it was 1946 that made him famous. He went 15-15 in the regular season with a 2.49 ERA (ERA+ of 139) with 117 strikeouts and a league leading five shutouts. That got him multiple starts in the World Series. He won game two against Boston 3-0, then picked up the win in game six 4-1. Both were complete games. After nine innings on 13 October, no one expected him to pitch in game seven (15 October) on one day’s rest. But with the Cardinals leading 3-1 in the top of the eighth starter Murry Dickson tired. In came Brecheen to save the day. He struck out one, got a liner for out two, then gave up a double that tied the game (there were two inherited runners from Dickson). He got the last out to leave the score tied. Slaughter’s famous “Mad Dash” put St. Louis back on top in the bottom of the eighth. Brecheen then gave up two hits before consecutive outs ended the game. Having gone from a blown save to game winner, Brecheen became the first pitcher to win three games in a World Series since 1920 (Stan Coveleski), the first left-hander ever to win three in one Series, and the first to win one of them as a reliever.

He continued pitching well through 1949 with a career year in 1948. In the latter year he went 20-7, led the National League with a 2.24 ERA (ERA+ of 182), added a league leading 149 strikeouts, and an NL leading seven shutouts to his resume. he was 33.

He began to slip in 1950, having his first losing season (8-11). his ERA jumped to 3.80 (a career high). He hung on two more years with the Cardinals, then ended his career in 1953 with the Browns. He was 38. For his career he was 133-92 (a .591 winning percentage), had an ERA of 2.92 (ERA+ of 133), struck out 901 batters over 1907.2 innings while walking 536 men and giving up 1731 hits. He had 25 shutouts and his WAR is 41.3 (Baseball Reference version of WAR).

After retiring he became pitching coach for the Browns and stayed with them when they moved to Baltimore. He remained as pitching coach through 1967, including one more World Series as his young staff stopped the Dodgers in 1966.  He died in 2004 and is buried in Oklahoma.

Brecheen's final resting place

Brecheen’s final resting place

Hot Stove League 1912 (AL)

January 5, 2012

Duffy Lewis, Tris Speaker, Harry Hooper about 1912

Today we baseball junkies get our November-February fix by engaging in what’s called “The Hot Stove League”. It was no different 100 years ago. Here’s a few things the 1912 American League fan had to be discussing in January 100 years ago.

Could the Athletics repeat? The Philadelphia Athletics were two-time defending champions. Could they make it three in a row? No one ever had in the American League. We know the answer is “no.” Chief Bender had a down year, rookies Herb Pennock and Stan Coveleski (future Hall of Famers) didn’t do much (Coveleski only pitched 21 innings).

If not, who could take them? Boston had finished fifth in 1911, but  Jake Stahl took over as manager (and had a good year at first base), the outfield of Harry Hooper, Tris Speaker, and Duffy Lewis became arguably the finest Deadball Era outfield, third baseman Larry Gardner had a good season (better than Hooper’s), and Smokey Joe Wood won 30 games.

 Was Walter Johnson a fluke? After three so-so seasons, Johnson put together two 20 win seasons in 1910 and 1911. Fans had to wonder if he could continue. Short answer? Yes.

After hitting .400 in 1911, could Ty Cobb do it again? Again the answer turned out to be yes.

After hitting .400 in 1911 and losing the batting title to Cobb, could new guy Joe Jackson hit .400 in 1912 and win the batting title? Jackson slipped to .395, but led the AL in triples.

Would the team in New York, which had finished second in 1910 and slipped back to sixth in 1911 under now ousted manager Hal Chase recover or continue to slide. They dropped all the way to last place in 1912 with Chase still at first and sulking (among other things). He did lead the team in RBIs with 58.

And finally would Chicago pitcher Ed Walsh’s arm fall off? Walsh led the AL in games pitched in 1907, 1908, 1910, and 1911. Could he do it again? He could. He pitched in 62 games, starting 41, completing 32, and pitching 393 innings (read that last number closely).  Apparently the arm stayed attached, but the toll finally got to him. He developed a sore arm in 1913 and his career was effectively over.

Part of the joy of baseball is actually the offseason. The speculation, the anticipation, the questioning all make for a lot of fun. I love it, I hope you love it, and I’m sure fans 100 years ago loved it too.

A Baker’s Dozen Things You Should Know About Rube Marquard

December 30, 2011

Rube Marquard while with Brooklyn

Since I’ve been hung up on left-handed pitchers for a while, I thought I should end the year with one more lefty.

1. Richard William Marquard was born in Cleveland 9 October 1886. He was nicknamed “Rube” because his pitching (not his eccentric ways) reminded people of Rube Waddell.

2. He got his start in baseball working for the Telling Ice Cream Company as a deliveryman. During the week he delivered ice cream. On the weekends he delivered strikes for the company team. He also was a batboy for the Cleveland Naps (now the Indians) for a while.

3. In 1908 the Giants paid $11,000 for him (a huge sum at the time). For a return they got nine wins over the next three years.

4. He hit his stride in 1911 winning 24 games and leading the National League in strikeouts.

5. The Giants made the first of three consecutive appearances in the World Series that season, losing to the Athletics in six games. During the Series Frank Baker became “Home Run” Baker when he hit two crucial home runs. The first was off Marquard. For the three World Series’ Marquard’s record was 2-2 with 20 strikeouts and six walks.

6. In 1912 he put together a 19 game winning streak. New York won the pennant, Marquard won two games in the Series, but Boston won the championship.

7. His numbers slipped in 1913, ’14, and ’15. In late 1915 he was traded to Brooklyn, not long after tossing his only no-hitter. It was against Brooklyn.

8. In 1916 he was 13-6 with a 1.58 ERA (his career low), and 107 strikeouts to go with only 38 walks. Brooklyn won the pennant, but lost the World Series to Babe Ruth’s Red Sox. Marquard was 0-2 with a plus 5 ERA (He did not pitch against Ruth).

9. He won 19 games in 1917, lost 18 in 1918 and continued having up and down seasons for the rest of his career. He got into one last World Series in 1920 with Brooklyn, losing his only start (game one to Hall of Fame pitcher Stan Coveleski). For his postseason career he was 2-5 with an ERA in the threes.

10. Just prior to game four of the 1920 Series he was arrested by an undercover policeman for scalping tickets (he had box seats for the game). He was fined one dollar and court costs (the judge saying that the embarrassment should be enough punishment). Charles Ebbets took a dimmer view of the matter and traded Marquard to Cincinnati.

11. He had one last decent year at Cincinnatti, the was traded to Boston (the Braves) where he stayed until his retirement in 1925.

12. For a time he was married to Vaudeville actress Blossom Seeley, refered to at the time as “The Hottest Woman in New York”. Here’s a tobacco card image of her (Actresses got trading cards too? Who knew?). You can judge “hot” for yourself. The marriage produced a child, but didn’t last.

Blossom Seeley about 1910

13. He was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee in 1971 and died 1 June 1980.