Saturday, January 17, 2015

Behind Blue Eyes

I thought I was done with this blog, then I found this old post …

Maybe it was something in the film. There’s something about those pale blue eyes, though. Something scary. Something evil.  Here, let me show you what I mean …

Oh so subtle.

You’ve met Joe Niekro before, where I made fun of his dentition. There, I also shared some stats and also the great video of him and his emery board. Some things I didn’t mention:

  • He’s the father of major leaguer Lance Niekro
  • He hit only one homer in almost 1000 at bats – against his brother Phil!
  • It took him 20 years to make his first World Series appearance – a record
  • He’s in the National Polish Sports Hall of Fame
  • He could hypnotize people with his eyes

Starting to look a little alien like.

Joe Hoerner was a pretty decent reliever who seems mostly forgotten today. Over a 14-year career, he finished 39-34, with 99 saves and a sparkling 2.99 ERA. He was an All Star in 1970. Joe did bounce around quite a bit, though, playing for seven different teams.

Some Hoernerian trivia:

  • He was given the last rights after collapsing on the mound during a minor league game
  • His first hit was a homer – off Fergie Jenkins, no less – the only homer he would ever hit
  • He was the starter in an all-rookie lineup for the Houston Colt .45s.
  • As the Cardinals celebrated their ‘67 World Series victory, he severed a tendon when a champagne bottle he was holding exploded
  • He's been in this blog before
  • He was a space alien

This guy is so gone.

Gerry Nyman was up for a couple of forgettable years with the White Sox and the Pads. Things started out pretty well, as Gerry went 2-1 with a 2.01 ERA in eight games his rookie year. After that, though, it was all downhill. I’m talking a 5.29 ERA the next year and a 15.19 ERA the year after that.

After hanging up his spikes, Gerry began a long career as a minor league pitching coach, advising such powerhouses as the Eugene Emeralds, Burlington Bees, and Idaho Falls Chukars. Gerry is also a skilled carpenter in his spare time, and can bore holes through wood with his eyes.

Bad sunburn?  Or has the mother ship landed in right field?

Tom Hilgendorf’s main claim to fame to may be getting hit on the head with a folding chair during the White Sox’s infamous disco demolition night. Despite a concussion, he went on to pitch the next night and earn a save.

Career-wise, Tom was up for six years, and managed to post a decent 19-14 record and 3.04 ERA. Some people like to think of him as the poor man’s Joe Hoerner.

Something just occurred to me …  You know, another alternative explanation here is that the photographer captured poor Tom right in the middle of witnessing a nuclear explosion. Don’t forget to duck and cover, Tom! Those things can cause a really bad sunburn.

Run for your lives!  The zombies have taken over.

In spite of being given a girl’s name, Gail Hopkins somehow managed to make it to the major leagues. In fact, Gail was up for seven years, finishing with over 1000 at bats and a .266 average. Unfortunately, he also hit only 25 homers – not something you’d want on your resume if you were a first baseman. Gail wrapped up his career overseas with the Nankai Hawks and the Hiroshima Toyo Carp.

After returning from Japan, Gail went on to earn a Masters in theology, a PhD in biology, and an MD. Holy crap! He’s an orthopedic surgeon, a professor, and on the board of a college. Man, I really shouldn’t be making fun of this guy, should I? Sheesh!

But would you believe there’s another major league Gail out there?


  1. Joe Hoerner actually died on a farm by being ran over by his own tractor.

  2. Don't forget Padres pitcher Mike Corkins. The empty void of his eyes in his 1970 rookie card will burn holes in your soul.