Monday, July 1, 2013

Action, Action, We Want Action!

You call that action?  How about me getting off my couch?  Would that qualify?  Look, I’m gonna get another beer.  Would that do it?  Huh?

“Huh?  Whuh?  Strike?”

Cliff Johnson was not a bad player.  He was up for 15 yrs, finishing with 196 dingers.  Rather challenged defensively, he was primarily a DH.

Cliff was an official member of the Bronx Zoo, and once put Goose Gossage on the DL for two months after a locker room brawl.

His nickname was “Heathcliff.”

“You call that a strike?”

Cesar Cedeno was a pretty decent ballplayer as well.  He had an unusual combination of power, speed, and defense.  Cesar finished with four All Star berths, five Gold Gloves, and 550 steals.

Unfortunately, Cedeno was not a very decent human being.  He once shot and killed one girlfriend, beat up another, beat up a bar patron, and wrecked a nice Mercedes.

A foul ball, right?  The guy hit a foul ball?  That’s all he did, correct?  And that constitutes action?

Chris Speier was also a pretty decent player.  He was known more for his glove though.  He was a three-time All-Star and was in the bigs for 19 years. 

Since retiring, Chris has kept busy as a major league coach.  By the way, Justin Speier is his son.

Man, I never saw a foul ball go up so far.  Now, that is impressive.

Looking at Rudy Meoli’s stats, I’m kinda thinking this foul ball may have been the highlight of his career.  I’m talking six years, 626 at bats, 2 homers, and a lifetime average of .212. 

He did, however, lead the league once – in errors committed, with 30 in 1973.  Wait a minute, that’s a bad thing, right?

Nothing like a shot of your hero striking out.

If you read this blog, you may know that Brooks Robinson is indeed one of my heroes.  In fact, my first official post talked about him – and his incredibly dorky 1958 card.

I like this photo as it shows that strange short brim that he always sported on his batting helmet.  

Here’s what Brooksie has to say about it:

Back in the early ’70s, the Commissioner’s Office made it mandatory for anyone coming into the big leagues to wear a flap on your hat.  When I got the helmet with the flap and put it on, it seemed like the bill was a little longer than my normal hat.  The flap was a little longer and consequently when I went up to hit I could see the brim and part of the flap.  It made me lose my concentration.  I took care of it by taking a hacksaw blade and cut off about 1 ½ inches off the brim and about ½ off the flap.  That’s how I got my short brim.

Part deux.  Though I do have to admit that “Sweet Lou” was never really my hero.

That said, Lou Piniella was one of those players who – like Joe Torre or Dusty Baker – was a pretty decent player and a pretty decent manager as well.

On the player side, he was AL Rookie of the Year and a one-time All Star.  Over 18 years, he finished with a very respectable .291 average.

As a manager, he actually comes in number 14 on the all-time win list.  He won a World Series in 1990 with the Reds, and tied a record for wins in one season with 116 with the Seattle Mariners in 2001.

More Piniella right here.

“Hold on, let me shake the dirt outta this thing.”

Ed Kirkpatrick was a classic handyman, hanging around for 16 years in the bigs by playing every position except shortstop and pitcher.

Ed was in a terrible car accident in 1981 that left him in a coma for half a year and paralyzed for almost 30.  He didn’t seem to let it get him down though.

Fittingly, his nickname was “Spanky.”

“Wait a minute, I got some sand or somethin’ in here.”

Another player/manager, Pat Corrales was a so-so player as well as a so-so manager.  As a player, he was pretty much your classic backup catcher (.216 career average). 

As a manager, he was at the helm for nine years, finishing with a .474 winning percentage.  He’s the only manager to be fired while his team was in first.

Here’s a better look at him.

“Wait a sec.  I got sumthin in my eye or sumthin.”

Though he sounds more like a character on Seinfeld, George Mitterwald was actually a major league baseball player.  He was up for 11 years, starting in about half of those years. 

He didn’t have a bad bat for a catcher.  Though he did finish his career with a .236 average, he also had two years where he hit 15 and 16 home runs.

His nickname was “Baron von Mitterwald” – “the Baron,” for short.

Few know it, but it’s entirely legal to punt the ball up to the plate.

It’s kinda hard to believe, but Dick Bosman was one of my heroes as a kid.  Here, let me explain …

I lived in Northern Virginia at the time, and there really wasn’t a lot to cheer for when it came to the local baseball team, the Senators.  Dick did distinguish himself, however, by leading the AL in ERA in 1969.

Dick’s other claim to fame is a no-hitter.  That one could have actually been a perfect game except for Dick’s own fielding error.

Two more shots of Dick, here and here.
Yoga position or follow-through?  You don’t have to worry about it when your nickname is “Blue Moon.”

It’s a pretty good one, isn’t it?  Hall of Fame, if you ask me.  (It was given to him in his childhood because he had a round face, BTW.)

The career meanwhile was just okay.  Odom finished with 84 wins, one win below .500.  He shined in the post-season though.  I’m talking a 3-1 record and 1.13 ERA, all with those great A’s teams of the early ‘70s.

Another fine human being, Odom was arrested for selling cocaine and for a hostage situation with his wife.

It’s okay when they pump their fists and shout, I guess.  But to laugh at you?  Even if they are Tom Seaver.  That’s just not right.

Well, I guess I don’t need to say too much about ol’ Tom Terrific.  So, here’s some trivia about him you may not know:

  • His dad was a golf pro
  • He’s the only Hall of Famer with a Mets hat
  • He’s a former Marine
  • He was originally signed by the Braves (contract voided)
  • He owns a vineyard

“Do they ever listen to me?  Huh?  I tell them they can stand up.  The ball’s goin’ to second base.  Do they ever pay any attention?  I ask you.”

Gary Matthews (the guy sliding into 3rd) was a pretty good player.  Rookie of the Year and All Star, he finished with over 200 homers, almost 1000 RBIs, over 1000 runs, and a .281 average.

Matthews was, of course, known as Sarge.  Sarge, Tom Terrific, Blue Moon, Baron Von Mitterwald …  Hey, who said the golden age of baseball nicknames was way back before WWII?


  1. I have to pick up a copy of that '75 Topps Meoli one of these days. A great card from one of the greatest sets ever.

  2. After being fired by the Phillies in 1983, Corrales then became manager of the Cleveland Indians, replacing Mike Ferraro. The Indians finished the season 7th, meaning that Corrales managed both first-placed and last-placed teams in the same season.