Saturday, August 24, 2013

Don't Choke!

Hitting was not my specialty as a baseball player.  Given that, I tried anything to get on base.  Lean into that fastball and get a free ride to first (and a really nasty bruise to boot)?  Sure, why not?  Choke up a few inches?  Heck, let’s choke up a lot of inches!  Choke and poke – that was me!

My 15-year-old, on the other hand, would rather die than choke up.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him choke up ever.  Even with an 0 and 2 count, he would never do anything so unmanly. 

Hey, Conor (my 15-year-old)!  Take a look at these guys.  Major leaguers all.  And nobody here’s afraid to choke up.

Light-hitting middle infielder now, are we?  How come these kind of guys never just posed with their gloves?

Though Terry Harmon did manage to stick in the majors for ten years, he was never a starter.  Playing backup to Dave Cash, Larry Bowa, and Mike Schmidt certainly didn’t help. 

In fact, in 1974, he was on the roster for the whole year but got in only 20 games (and 15 at bats!).  Cash, Bowa, and Schmidt?  They all got in 162 games each.

Wikipedia says Terry followed up his baseball career as an announcer with a local sports station, then a home shopping channel, and finally with a 24/7 jewelry channel.  Sounds like Terry finally found his niche.

That’s Mr. Light-Hitting Middle Infielder to you.

Larry Bowa managed to stick in the bigs for 16 years, and was a five-time All Star to boot.  It was not, however, his bat that got him there.  Over those 16 years, he batted a mere .260 and hit only 15 homers (less than one per year!).  On the flip side, though, he did lead the league in fielding average six times and win two Gold Gloves.

You may also know him as a manager, coach, and announcer.
Are you kidding me?

We’ve already talked a little about Felix Millan in this blog – in particular, about his Groucho-Marx-like eyebrows

I reviewed some of his stats there.  One thing I didn’t share was his wonderful nickname, “El Gatito.”  That’s Spanish for “The Kitten,” and was given him for his smooth hands in the field. 

No, really – is this a joke?  There’s more bat below this dude’s hands than above them.

Love the ‘stache though.

“Oh, if only I could hit like Felix!”

Actually, Gene Richards wasn’t a bad player at all.  In fact, he:
  • Was the first player selected in the ‘75 draft
  • Set a then rookie record for stolen bases with 56
  • Led the NL in triples in 1981
  • Can fix you up with a nice mortgage in Burlington VT (oops – wrong Gene Richards)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bill Buckner: In a Brow of His Own

“Billy Buck” was quite the ballplayer.  Up for 22 years, he finished with almost 10,000 at bats, 1200-some RBIs, over 1000 runs, 2715 hits, and almost 200 steals.  He also was an All Star, led the league in batting, and got votes for MVP in five separate seasons.  He was great with the glove too, as well as being especially tough to strike out.

In addition, Buckner was surely one of the hairiest players to ever have played the game.  I’m talking about Andy Etchebarren territory here, folks.  Interestingly, though, most of the pictures I could find of him do not have his two brows meeting (though some of them do seem to?!?!).  Hmm, perhaps he tweezed.

So, given all these many accomplishments, why is the only thing anyone can remember about this poor guy is that ball going between his legs …  [sigh]

I was gonna say that it starts out pretty normal, but – heck - there’s more hair in his eyebrows than there is on his head.

1972.  He had a couple of cards before this, but I love the Peter Max look of the 72s so much that I just had to start with this one.

Okay, we got a little hair going on now – or is that a tree back there?

1973.  Not bad.  He didn’t get 400 at bats, but he did bat .319.

Definitely hair.

1974.  His first year as a real regular, getting in 140 games and only 25 bats away from 600.

Major brows plus major ‘stache equals major ‘70s hunky.

1975.  Very similar to the previous year, but with a .314 average and 31 steals.  Also the first time he gets some MVP votes.

He’s gotta be a paisan, right?  Buccerino maybe?  Guglielmo Buccerino?  It’s gotta be.

1976.  Oops, might have been hurt this year.  Down to only 288 at bats.

We’re approaching some sort of apotheosis here.  I expect hair to sprout from his bat, hat, and batting glove any minute now.

1977.  Nice year: 641 at bats, .301 average, 28 steals.

Feeling very smug about the whole hairy package now, aren’t we?

1977 again.  A second card to emphasize the big trade, I guess.  Makes a nice prom photo too.

Paging Mr. Marx.  Paging Mr. Groucho Marx …

1978.  Breaks into double figures in homers for the first time, with 11.  “Cozy confines” indeed.

I never realized Bill’s brows and hair were connected.

1979.  Hits .323 – his best average to date.  (He would hit .324 – and lead the league – two years later.)

Wait, Bill Buckner played for the Red Sox?

1985.  A pretty good year for the Buckster – 19 dingers, .299 average, 201 hits, 110 RBIs …

The next year wasn’t so bad either (in fact, it was his last really good year) … except for that … er, um … oh, never mind.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Brow Bros (‘70s Version)

The whole point of eyebrows is to channel sweat and rain from your forehead off to the side – so it doesn’t get in your eyes.  They also provide a little bit of shading, as well as keeping out dust, insects, and such like.

Interestingly, they are also used rather extensively in non-verbal communication.  They happen to be a very effective way to signal emotions such as surprise or anger.  Go ahead, try to look angry or surprised without ‘em.

So, I’m thinking these guys here either have really sweaty foreheads or major problems communicating their emotions.  Why else would nature give them such wide, wild, and wooly eyebrows?

Not too bad.  I do like the way they sweep up at the end though.

An argument could be made that Ed Kranepool is the original “Mr. Met”:
  • He never played for anyone else
  • He made his debut with them at age 19
  • He was with them for 18 years
  • He was there in ‘62
  • He was there in ‘69
  • He’s a local boy

Once again, I’ve seen worse.

Larry Haney was your basic backup catcher.  He was up for 12 years, never got 200 at bats in a season, and finished with 12 homers and a .215 average.

His son was Chris Haney, who arguably had an even worse major league career, though as a pitcher (5.07 ERA, 38-52 record).

Okay, this is more like it.  In fact, I think I’ve seen this look on some of the owls at the local raptor center.

Gary Gentry made a big splash in his rookie year, 1969.  He went 13-12 for the Mets in the regular season, started and won the division clincher, then won Game 3 of the World Series. 

After that, it was all rather downhill.  He started two more years for the Mets, but finished under .500.  After a trade to the Braves (for Felix “Groucho” Millan – see below) and an elbow injury, he played his last major league baseball in 1975.

Roger, on the other hand, has opted for the Muppet character look.

Roger Freed had a pretty non-descript career, with one major aberration.  Overall, he was up eight years, getting in a little over 700 at bats, and finishing with 22 homers, just over 100 RBIs, and a .245 average.  The aberration was 1977, where Roger hit .398, though in only 83 at bats. 

Freed died shockingly young – at only 49 – from heart disease.

Funny, Cox doesn’t sound like an Italian name.

Larry Cox had a very similar career to Roger Freed’s.  Cox was up for nine years, got in a little over 800 at bats, hit 12 homers and 85 RBIs, and finished with a .212 average.

You’re not going to believe this, but Larry also died very young of heart disease – at age 42.

I like these ‘cause they’re just plain weird.  Are they Velcro?

Greg Garrett was up for only two years and 83 innings, but finished with some decent numbers.  Though his record was under .500, he did have a 2.48 ERA.

His stats on, however, do not do him justice.  Would you believe that:
  • He was an All-American badminton player at Cal State Fullerton
  • He was also on the archery, golf, racquetball and swimming teams there
  • After baseball, he became a bodybuilder, winning three power lifting world championships
  • He had a kidney transplant at age 44, then won multiple gold medals in the National Transplant Olympics

"If I told you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?"

Felix “Groucho” Millan is the real star in this blog.  Over a 12-year career, he finished with almost 6,000 at bats, was elected to three All Star teams, and won two Gold Gloves.  He also won a batting title in Japan.

Somebody get this guy a cigar.

More brow bros, from the '50s (here) and '60s (here).