Monday, October 27, 2014

A Little Touched

I guess you’d have to be a little touched to stand up there with a hard rock coming at you at 99 miles per hour from 60 feet 6 inches away and with only a little piece of wood to defend yourself. 

But, then again, I guess you’d have to be even a little more touched to be the one throwing that little rock and then having it come back to you at 122. Sure enough, most of these lunatics are indeed pitchers.

Not too bad. In fact, I’m not sure Jim if is a little touched or just really, really happy.

Jim Kern’s been here before, sporting a slightly different look. I shared his stats in that post, but didn’t mention that Jim is quite an interesting fellow. To wit:

  • His nickname was “the Amazing Emu”
  • He effectively got himself traded outta Cincinnatti by growing a scraggly beard (and, thus, violating their “no facial hair” rule)
  • He became an outdoor guide when he retired

You’ve also gotta check out this great – and very cute – autograph story involving Jim.

This shot was taken right before Chris climbed up the tower and shot all those people.

Chris Knaap’s been here before, where we caught him looking more like an extremely dorkily dressed accountant. I shared his stats there, and – to tell you the truth – there ain’t a whole lot else to say about ol’ Chris. Oh, wait a sec … He was 6’5”.

Jim Roland’s another repeat offender. He, too, had a very different look in his other post – in particular, Jim looked really, really stoopit.  Not a lot out there on ol’ Jim either, though you may enjoy this bio (and attendant childhood memory) some blogger was inspired to put together.

If I remember my high school Spanish correctly, “Vida” does indeed mean “crazy.”

Boy, did this guy make a big splash when he first hit the bigs. In his first year, he appeared in two games and pitched two complete-game shutouts. In the subsequent year, he went 24-8; led the AL in ERA, WHIP, and shutouts; was an All Star; and won the Cy Young and MVP awards. 

By the way, one of my childhood memories is creating a decoupage of Vida on a piece of wood in 7th grade art class.

I understand “Rogelio” means “crazy” in Azblekmian, which is what they speak on Rogelio’s native planet.

And, yes, you’ve seen Rogelio here before as well – looking especially skinny. One thing I didn’t mention there is that Moret actually was a little crazy. In fact, he had a nervous breakdown right before a game in Texas (he was playing for them then). He went into a catatonic state and had to be hauled off to a psych hospital. I kid you not.

Just to show you position players can be bat-shit crazy as well.

In addition to being clinically insane, Hal McRae was also a pretty darn good player. Up for 23 seasons, he hit over .300 six times and was  a four-time All Star. He finished with over 2,000 games, a .290 average, over 1,000 RBIs and 100 steals, and almost 200 homers.

Hal also managed for all or parts of six seasons, though he did finish under .500. He also had a son, Brian, who also played in the bigs.

And here’s another great – though rather traumatic – childhood story from yet another blogger.

Called third strike? Howl at the moon? Both?

Lenny Randle (as he’s more often referred to) was a decent player with some speed. Of his 12 years, six were as a starter. He stole 30 bags twice and batted over .300 twice as well. Pretty versatile, he played second, third, and outfield, and even caught a game once.

He’s much more famous, though, for

Another weird look at Lenny right here.

As if the name weren’t enough.

Broderick Perkins was a character actor often cast in tough-guy roles and best known for his portrayal of Willie Stark in All the King's Men … Wait a minute, wrong Broderick. That guy was Broderick Crawford. Honestly, how many Brodericks are there out there?

Our Broderick was up for seven seasons, but averaged less than 200 at bats per year. Overall, he finished with only eight homers (not what you typically want from your first baseman). 

I’m afraid there aren’t any cute stories out there for Broderick. In fact, there’s next to nothing. We still love you, though, Broderick!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mountain Men

I’m really curious how this became a fashion around the end of the decade. Was baseball particularly popular in the Ozarks during this time?  Did some scout make a name for himself by sweeping the remote hollows of West Virginia for talent? Or did some GM discover that guys raised by wolves in Montana just so happen to have particularly strong throwing arms? 

Honestly, what gives here?

Now Richmond, Texas (where Tom’s from) is right outside Houston. Funny, though, I don’t recall any mountains in that area. 

Pat Zachry’s career started out with a major bang. I’m talking 14-7 record, 2.74 ERA, two post-season victories, and sharing the NL Rookie of the Year award (with the immortal Butch Metzger no less!).

Unfortunately, it all went downhill from there. For the rest of his career, Pat would go 55-60, with a 3.71 ERA. He would also lead the league in losses in 1981.

Okay, okay. If your nickname’s “The Mad Hungarian,” I guess you can get away with – even be expected to go with – this kind of look. I still think the fu manchu looked so much better though.

I’ll bet a lot of folks don’t remember Al Hrabosky was anything other than a Cardinal. He was, however, the Royals closer for a couple of years. 

I’m sure we all remember his antics on the mound though. But here’s a link, just in case – happy birthday, Al! Needless to say, there’s plenty more out there on the YouTubes where that one came from.

Now, Roy here just so happens to be from Lompoc, CA. Funny, though, I just don’t associate anywhere in California with hillbillies.

Roy Howell’s been here before, where we admired some particularly groovy shades he was sporting as well as discussing some of his stats. Here are a couple of career highlights I neglected to share at that time:

  • Was the fourth overall pick in the ’72 draft
  • Set a Blue Jay record for RBIs in a game, with 9
  • Was a one-time All Star

Oh heck!  Is this an '81?  Ah well. This really was something that cut right across the decades.

Another California hillbilly (Corona). Who woulda thunk it?

Doug Bird kicked around the majors for 11 years, bouncing back and forth between starter and reliever. He did finish with 60 saves, to go along with 73 victories against 60 loses total. Wikipedia, though, says that Bird is “most known for surrendering a two-run homer to Thurman Munson in the 8th inning of Game Three during the 1978 ALCS.”

Most of Bird’s time was actually spent with the Royals, and this site has him finishing as the #43 Royal of all time. BTW, the #43 Yankee of all time includes – depending on what list you’re looking at – two Hall of Famers, Herb Pennock and Jack Chesbro. Hmm, I guess the Yankees just had a little bit more to work with.

It’s an ’82, but is still pretty darn great. And a Hall of Famer to boot.

Bruce Sutter was only the fourth reliever to be inducted into the Hall. Can you name the first three? (Answers below)

Some highlights from Sutter’s career include:

  • Being the first pitcher to effectively throw the split-finger fastball
  • Leading the league in saves five times
  • Winning a Cy Young award
  • Going to the All Star game five times
  • Tying the record for most saves in a season
  • Throwing over 100 innings in relief five times
  • Retiring with 300 saves, the third most overall at the time

Click here for a very different look.

Another 80s – and a Donruss – but, dang, what a classic!

Jim Kern was a fairly decent reliever. He was a three-time All Star, going 13-5 with a 1.57 ERA and 29 saves and finishing fourth in Cy Young Award balloting for one of those years. Overall, he was up for 13 years, finishing with a 3.32 ERA and 88 saves.

And here's Jim with a very different look.

Apologies to Jayson Werth, but you weren’t even born when these guys were rockin’ it, kid!

Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley

Monday, October 13, 2014

Uniforms II

Last week, we looked at some ‘70s fashion abominations. You know, stuff like moon boots, elephant bells, big ties, even bigger lapels … and baseball uniforms as well (which may actually be worse than all the rest). Tell ya the truth, there were so darn many of those that I had to break ‘em into two posts. Enjoy!

Mustard yellow.  A color only the ‘70s could love.

Bill Greif’s been here before, in close up. I talked about his (pretty woeful) stats in that post, but I’ll bet you didn’t know that Bill:
  • Pronounces his name “grife” (no, his last name - his first name’s pronounced “bill.”)
  • Is 6’5”
  • Was signed by Texas to play football
  • Threw a knuckle curve

Nice to see the Pads toned things down a bit.

Don Reynolds’ major claim to fame is having a brother named Harold. In other words, Don is Tommy to Harold’s Hank, Billy to his Cal, Henry to his Christy. To wit:

Don Harold
Years 1 12
At Bats 132 4782
Hits 32 1233
Runs 14 640
RBIs 16 353
HRs 0 21
SBs 1 250

Like I say …

Things sure started out with a bang for Bill Almon. An Ivy League grad (Brown), Almon was National College Player of the Year and the first pick in the draft. 

All that never really translated into major league success however. Though Almon was up for 15 years, he was a starter for only a handful of them.  Overall, he finished with 3330 at bats, but only 36 home runs and a .265 average. He also bounced around quite a bit, playing for six teams.

Whoa, turn down the lights!

Jerry Reuss has been here before, where we made fun of his hat and discussed his (not unimpressive) stats. 

Since retirement, Jerry’s done some announcing and coaching, as well as penning an autobiography, Bring in the Right Hander! (and, yes, Jerry is in fact a lefty).

I’d be bummed too, if they made me wear a silly uniform like that

Al Oliver was one of my boyhood heroes, being a real mainstay for some of those great Pirate teams in the ‘70s. That said, he actually played for six other teams over his 18-year career.

“Scoop” finished with a .303 average and over 9,000 at bats, 1,000 runs, 1,000 RBIs, and 2,700 hits. There’s a fair amount of folks out there who feel he should be in the Hall. In fact, if you Google him, four of the first ten hits discuss this very topic. makes a good argument that he possibly might ... maybe. Similar players in the Hall include Zack Wheat, Joe Medwick, Roberto Clemente, and Enos Slaughter. And here are his ratings compared to typical Hall of Famers:

Rating Al Likely Hall of Famer
HofF Monitor 116 100
HofF Standards 40 50
Black Ink 16 27
Grey Ink 127 144

It’s like he’s got a giant caterpillar for an arm.

Grant Jackson’s no Al Oliver, but there are some peculiar similarities. For example, both played for 18 years, for six different teams, and both were on a Pirate World Series champ. Jackson’s similar players, on the other hand, include guys like Hank Aguirre, Paul Lindblad, and Eddie Fisher (hey, wasn’t he married to Elizabeth Taylor?). And I don’t recall any of those dudes making it to Cooperstown. 

Magenta goes particularly well with baby blue … and a deranged expression … and spit curls.

Like Bill Almon, Eric Raich is another number one draft pick. Things turned out even poorer for Erich however. I’m talking two years, a 5.85 ERA, a 1.636 WHIP, and a 7-8 record.

Plush velour track suit?

Jackie Brown is a 1997 crime drama written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. It is an adaptation of Elmore Leonard's novel Rum Punch, the first adaptation …

Wait a minute. Wrong Jackie Brown. 

Our Jackie Brown was up for seven years, playing for three different teams. He finished 47-53, with a 4.18 ERA and over 500 strikeouts. Also, he has never been portrayed by B movie queen Pam Grier.

Magenta explosion!  Also, is that a dress?  I mean, what happened to the guy’s crotch?

Wow! What a great name. Would you believe, though, that Larvell’s nickname was even better? Yup, Larvell Blanks was the original “Sugar Bear.” According to Wikipedia, that name came from Larvell’s "aggressive batting style" (nah, I don’t get it either).

His stats? How about nine years, 1,766 at bats, 20 homers, 9 stolen bases, and a .253 average?

Sounds like Larvell had a hard time giving up the game. After his nine-year stints in the bigs, he played with the interestingly named Coatzacoalcos Azules of the Mexican League and the Orlando Juice of the Senior League.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Uniforms I

Hot pants.  Flares.  Tube tops.  Leisure suits.  Palazzo pants.  Nehru jackets.  Earth shoes.  

And then there were these guys …

I blame the Pilots. 

Steve Hovley ... If you can remember this guy, there’s probably a pretty good chance you’ve read Jim Bouton’s Ball Four. In that classic, we learned that Steve:

  • Was a Stanford grad
  • Liked to read Nietzsche
  • Went by the nickname “Orbit”

Really, I do. (Blame the Pilots, that is.)

Bobby Bolin didn’t make many appearances in Ball Four. But, then again, he didn’t score too high on the zany character meter either. 

He was, however, a fairly decent player. Some of his accomplishments included:

  • Posting a sub 2.00 ERA in 1968 (and finishing second behind Bob Gibson’s record-setting 1.12)
  • Finishing in the top ten three times for ERA and WHIP
  • Finishing in the top ten twice for shutouts and K’s per nine innings

Sorry – I have no idea which German philosophers Bolin favored.

Now pitching for Poteat’s Collision Service’s Softball All-Stars  … 

Joe Hoerner was a pretty decent pitcher as well. A reliever, he finished with a 2.99 ERA over 14 years. 

Looks like there’s a fair amount of interesting factoids out there about Joe. Did you know, for example, that he:

  • Had a heart condition that forced him to switch to throwing sidearm
  • Played in the minors for nine years
  • Never started a game in the bigs
  • Had a home run for his first major league hit
  • Was the first player to get a hit in the World Series without getting a hit in the regular season
  • Limited Hank Aaron to a .000 average over 21 at bats
  • Was ejected in his last major league appearance
  • Died in a farming accident

Super bio of him right here.

Mike was the right side of Poteat’s killer pitching staff.

Mike Thompson’s been here before, where we made fun of his ears. I shared his stats there. 

Actually, I really couldn’t find much else on ol’ Mike. Indeed, “Mike Thompson” appears to be a very common name. Wikipedia lists 21 of these dudes, including two MLB pitchers, a congressman, a star of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, and a former leader of the Aryan Brotherhood. (By the way, our Mike Thompson is only one of those.)

Francisco picked up this ensemble at the local truck stop, right off the interstate.  

We can’t really blame Francisco, though, can we? It was owner Bill Veeck who did pretty much all he could to ensure that, if you played for his team sometime during the ‘70s, you were going to look like a complete dork at some point or other.

And poor Francisco Barrios played his entire career with the Chisox – and from the years 1974 to 1981 to boot. His main claim to fame appears to be being part of a no-hitter with John “Blue Moon” Odom (with Odom pitching five innings and Barrios four).

All the style of a trash bag. 

Jorge Orta was actually not a bad ballplayer. He was up for 16 years, finishing with not quite 6,000 at bats. He was also a two-time All Star. 

Now, that’s all fine and good, but what poor Jorge will always be remembered for is a single play, a play that has been called “one of the most controversial play in World Series history” (and that on Wikipedia, no less!). 

Let me set the scene … It’s 1985. The Royals are playing the Cards. The Cards are up three games to two. The sixth game has gone to the bottom of the ninth, with the Cards leading 1-0. Jorge comes to the plate as a pinch hitter. 

Jorge hits a slow roller to first baseman Jack Clark. Pitcher Todd Worrell covers the bag and Jorge is out. Or is he? Umpire Don Denkinger actually calls him safe. 

The Royals then go on to win the game, and then the next game, and are World Champions. But would that have happened if Jorge had been called out?  You make the call (tape right here)!

Larry’s not a White Sock, but that’s definitely a garbage bag. 

Larry Dierker had a pretty distinguished career. He started by making his major league debut on his 18th birthday (striking out Willie Mays in his first inning to boot!). He would then go on to be the Astros’ first 20-game winner, make the All Star squad twice, and throw a no hitter. He would then go on to manage the ‘Stros for five years, finishing with a wonderful 435-348 regular season record, but a woeful 2-12 one in the post-season. Houston retired his number in 2002. 

Oh oh.  Here they come.  Astro alert!  Astro alert! 

Greg Gross was one of the better pinch hitters of all time. He currently ranks fifth in number of career pinch hits. He was also famously hard to strike out, notching only 250 K’s in 2475 at bats. A true “baseball lifer” and lover of the game, Greg’s been a long-time minor league hitting coach. 

The Astros … in all their full glory. 

In a way, Larry Dierker and Ken Forsch are twins:

Larry Ken
# of Years 14 16
Record 139-123 114-113
ERA 3.31 3.37
WHIP 1.217 1.249
K's 1,493 * 1,047
No-hitter? Yes Yes
All-Star? 2 years 2 years

* - Okay, so Larry threw a little harder.

As it turns out, Ken actually did have a brother in the majors, Bob Forsch. And his numbers are eerily similar to Ken and Larry’s, right down to the no-hitter (actually, though, Bob had two).