San Francisco grounds crew helped the Giants win the pennant in ’62

May 29th, 2020

They tried and tried again. No matter what National League clubs did, they just couldn’t slow down Maury Wills in 1962. Wills’ Dodgers were in their fifth year in Los Angeles and thirsty for another World Series appearance. Winners of the 1959 Fall Classic, the team finished a disappointing fourth in 1960. They climbed to second place in ’61 and seemed poised for a return to the post season in ’62. Wills did his part. The Dodger shortstop was historically great on the bases, swiping 104 bags. To put that into perspective, the last time a National Leaguer stole even half that many was in 1920. No big league team matched Wills’ total in ’62. The Dodger squad had one .300 hitter in batting champ Tommy Davis who also led the league in runs batted in with 153 . Davis got help from Frank Howard, the only other Dodger to tally 100 RBI. Together they counted on Wills to get aboard and make his way into scoring position. Dodgers and Giants vie for NL supremacy While Wills was on his way to the stolen base record, the Dodgers fought the Giants for the top spot in the NL. Behind Wills, […]

Read More >

Vin Scully and high school teammate Larry Miggins shared a magical MLB moment

May 12th, 2020

During the second semester of the 1943 school year, Fordham Prep High School baseball teammates Larry Miggins and Vin Scully sat in their school’s auditorium sharing dreams of reaching the big leagues. While Miggins fancied himself as a future Major League player, Scully hoped to become a big league baseball announcer. The two men created a dream scenario that would come true on May 13, 1952 at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field. Larry Miggins tells the story “Vince Scully and I were attending Fordham Prep in 1943,” Miggins wrote in a letter. “At a school assembly he was sitting behind me, grabbed me by the shoulders and said, ‘Larry someday you will be in the big leagues and the first time you hit a home run, I will be the announcer and tell the world about it.’ “Sure enough it happened in 1952. I was with the Cardinals and the first time we played in NY – my home town – Eddie Stanky put me in left field and I hit a home run (my first) off of Preacher Roe and beat him for the first time in two years. Scully had joined Red Barber on radio broadcasts and he actually told […]

Read More >

Alan Newman balked in a run before throwing his first big league pitch

May 5th, 2020

CooperstownExpert.com

By Jim Smiley Every big leaguer counts his Major League debut among life’s most memorable moments. That first appearance is the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice. It’s the accomplishment of a dream shared by many and achieved by few. For Tampa Bay Devil Rays pitcher Alan Newman that moment is one he’ll always remember – and one he’d like to forget. A long and winding road to the big leagues Newman grew up less than ten miles from the Angels home park in Anaheim and attended nearby Fullerton College. In 1988 the Minnesota Twins selected Newman in the second round of the draft. The 6’6″ lefty-hander then spent more than a decade bouncing around the minor league organizations of the Twins, Reds, White Sox, Padres, and Devil Rays. Newman finally became a major leaguer with Tampa Bay on May 14th, 1999. A dream come true for the 29-year old reliever, his debut came just minutes away from his childhood home against the Angels, the team he grew up rooting for. Bobby Witt started the game for Tampa, throwing five scoreless innings before surrendering a grand slam to Mo Vaughn in the 6th. Witt came back out in […]

Read More >

Jimmie Foxx and Chuck Klein made Philadelphia the center of the baseball universe

July 30th, 2019

Philadelphia sluggers Chuck Klein and Jimmie Foxx

From 1929 through 1933, Jimmie Foxx and Chuck Klein put on a show and treated Philadelphia to the greatest era its baseball fans ever knew. During the five-year run, Klein led the league in homers four times and finished second once. He wasn’t just a slugger. Starting in 1929, Klein reeled off at least 200 hits each year through 1933 to become the only player to reach the mark in each of each of his first five full big league seasons. Incredibly, he averaged 224 hits per year and hit .359. In 1932 the Phillies right fielder captured the National League Most Valuable Player Award. He followed up that season with by winning the Triple Crown in ’33. Klein’s team struggles; Foxx’s shines While Klein put up outstanding individual numbers his Phillies struggled. Under manager Burt Shotton, the Phillies finished last twice and went a combined 113 games below .500. Their only first-division finish came in 1932 when they finished in fourth place, two games above the break-even mark. Predictably, fans didn’t embrace the woeful team. From 1929-1933 the Phillies ranked last in the league in attendance four times, averaging just over a half-million fans per season. Foxx’s Athletics provided […]

Read More >

Trade of Ferguson Jenkins was one of the worst in Phillies franchise history

January 3rd, 2019

Imagine trading a 23-year old pitcher to your rival only to see him post six straight seasons of at least 20 wins. That’s just what the Philadelphia Phillies did when the shipped Fergie Jenkins to the Chicago Cubs in 1966. By the time his career was over, the 1971 Cy Young Award winner won 284 games and struck out 3,192 batters. In 1991 Jenkins became the first Canadian-born player to reach baseball immortality via induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. In the CooperstownExpert.com collection is the document from the commissioner’s office that made official what many consider the worst trade in Phillies’ franchise history. Enjoy this video then click here to see Fergie’s own thoughts on the trade in a shoutout to this website.

Read More >

Joe DiMaggio’s 1939 October blast left an impression on the baseball lifer who surrendered it

October 7th, 2018

1939 World Series

Pro career starts at age 17 Gene Thompson enjoyed a pro baseball career that spanned parts of eight decades. Signed by the Reds as a 17-year old in 1935, Thompson played until 1950. Two years later at age 35, he embarked on a scouting career that lasted until after his 88th birthday. The highlight of his playing career came in his first year as a Major Leaguer in 1939. Debuting as a 21-year old, Thompson excelled in his role as the Reds swingman, going 13-5 with a 2.54 ERA in 11 starts and 31 relief appearances. Thompson wasn’t the only stellar performer. The Reds got 27 wins from MVP Bucky Walters and a league-leading 128 RBI from first baseman Frank McCormick. Cincinnati won 97 games to earn the National League pennant. Thompson’s Reds face the Yankees in October In the World Series, Cincinnati squared off against Joe McCarthy’s heavily-favored Yankees. After dropping the first two games in New York, the Reds tabbed Thompson to start Game 3 in Cincinnati. A win by the home team would put the Reds back in the thick of things; a loss would put them in a 3-0 hole against the two-time defending champs. In […]

Read More >

Harry Caray’s rumored affair with the daughter-in-law of the Cardinals owner helped forge two Hall of Fame Careers

July 20th, 2018

CooperstownExpert.com

Famed announcer Harry Caray was the voice of the Cardinals for a quarter century. Beloved in St. Louis, he was known as a womanizing man-about-town. That penchant for sharing time with beautiful women just may have ended his career with his hometown team and solidified the career of Jack Buck. Did the affair happen? The unsubstantiated rumor – that Carey never denied – is that an affair with August Busch III’s wife led to the announcer’s dismissal. Proof of the affair supposedly came to light after Caray was hit by a car on November 3, 1968 and nearly lost his life. The Busch family phone bill for the month showed many calls to Caray’s hospital room. The charges were traced to Susan Busch, the young wife of August Busch III who was the son of the team owner. The story continues that the Busch family hired a private investigator who confirmed that Mrs. Busch was indeed romantically linked to Caray, who was then in his 50s. Whether the story is true or not, Susan and August Busch III were divorced in 1969, the same year the Cardinals opted not to renew the contract of the immensely popular Caray. Caray’s firing […]

Read More >

Inducted into Cooperstown’s Honor Rolls of Baseball in 1946, Bill Carrigan managed Boston to back-to-back World Series titles

August 2nd, 2017

Every summer the baseball world pauses as the Hall of Fame induction weekend puts the village of Cooperstown on display. Players, managers, executives, owners, and umpires who are deemed worthy receive a plaque and along with it, baseball immortality. The election process during the Hall’s infancy bears little resemblance to today. For the first decade of induction, Cooperstown recognized only its players with the exception of pioneer Henry Chadwick. The Hall establishes the Honor Rolls of Baseball Wanting to recognize non-playing personnel, the Hall established the Honor Rolls of Baseball in 1946 as a second level of induction. That year the museum’s Permanent Committee voted to include 39 non-players into the Honor Rolls. Eleven umpires, 11 executives, 12 sportswriters, and 5 managers were inducted. Of the five skippers, four have since gained full induction with plaques in Cooperstown. The lone manager not so recognized is former Red Sox pilot Bill Carrigan. Born in Maine in 1883, Carrigan broke in with Boston in 1906 as a backup catcher. In time he became a favorite of the pitching staff, catching the likes of Cy Young, Bill Dinneen and a young Babe Ruth for the Red Sox. Soon Carrigan was one of the game’s most […]

Read More >

There was no champagne for Red Sox, Lonborg in ‘67

July 20th, 2017

World Series championships are won on the field, not in the newspapers. In 1967 the press might’ve given the Cardinals extra motivation in their epic seven-game battle against the Red Sox. Boston wins the pennant on the last day Boston had to grind it out just to get to the postseason. The battle for supremacy in the American League came down to the last day of the regular season. Boston and second-place Detroit were separated by just a half-game.  The Tigers had a doubleheader at home against the Angels. The Red Sox played the Twins at Fenway Park. Boston turned to ace Jim Lonborg for the regular season finale. The 1967 Cy Young Award winner, Gentleman Jim responded with a gutty performance. On three days rest he went the distance allowing one earned run before the sellout crowd at Fenway. The October 1st contest was his 15th complete game of the season. The Tigers needed a sweep of California. Detroit won the first game 6-4 but couldn’t contain the Angels in the second, losing 8-5. With the Detroit loss, Boston earned a berth to the World Series against the National Champion St. Louis Cardinals. The World Series begins On only […]

Read More >

Al Niemiec was a hero to WWII veterans returning to baseball

July 2nd, 2017

CooperstownExpert.com

A fine second baseman Al Niemiec played in just 78 big league games but made his presence felt throughout the game. Niemiec sued baseball in a landmark court case, earning a win that sent ripples throughout the game.  Niemiec played in 199 minor league contests before getting a September call up to the Red Sox for nine games in 1934. He spent the next year back in the bushes before being traded to the Athletics in a package that sent Hall of Fame slugger Jimmie Foxx to Boston. Though Niemiec spent most of season with Connie Mack in Philadelphia, it would be his last as a big leaguer. By 1938 Niemiec moved to the Pacific Coast League for a five-year run that included three consecutive championships with the Seattle Rainiers. The ’41 season was a good one for Niemiec. He hit .297 while leading second basemen in fielding for the third straight season. For his efforts, he was named the PCL’s outstanding player at his position. Niemiec joins the war effort At the end of the following season Niemiec was called to serve in the US Navy.  He stayed in the military until his honorable discharge in January of 1946. When retired […]

Read More >

"Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball…"

~Jacques Barzun, 1954