Steve Carlton’s 1972 season was the best since the Deadball Era


Warren Giles gives the Cy Young to Steve Carlton

Steve Carlton’s 1972 season is one of the greatest performances by a pitcher in the last 100 years. The National League Cy Young Award winner, Carlton went 27-10 for a last-place Phillies team that finished 37 1/2 games out of first place.

Any way you measure it, Lefty’s season was one of the ages.

Carlton won the National League’s pitching Triple Crown by leading the Senior Circuit in wins, ERA and strikeouts. He completed 30 of his 41 starts.

SABRmetrics are predictably kind to Carlton’s season. He posted the highest single-season WAR by a pitcher since Walter Johnson in 1913. Lefty also led the majors in ERA+ and fielding-independent pitching.

Many feel his 1972 performance is vastly underappreciated.

It’s plain to see, the career year for one of baseball’s best pitchers was one of the ages.

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Vic Wertz did much more than fly out to Willie Mays in the ’54 World Series


Willie Mays catch

World Series heroics in a losing cause Vic Wertz played over 1,000 big league games by the time he reached his only World Series in 1954. Once he got to baseball’s biggest stage he was sensational. In Game 1 Wertz opened the scoring with a two-run triple to deep right. In his next two at bats, Wertz hit sharp singles. Then in the 8th inning and the score tied 2-2, Wertz came to bat with two runners on. The first baseman ripped a line drive to deep centerfield in New York’s cavernous Polo Grounds. Giants center fielder Willie Mays turned his back to the plate and sprinted toward the wall. Mays caught up to it and made a spectacular over-the-shoulder grab 450 feet from the plate. “The Catch” brought the 52,751 fans in attendance to their feet. The Giants won the game 5-2 in ten innings. Though his Indians were swept in the Series, Wertz went 8-for-16 with four extra-base hits. For Mays the Game 1 play was another memorable moment in a career filled with them. With 660 homers, 24 all star appearances, 12 straight Gold Gloves and four consecutive MVP Awards, he is regarded by many as the […]

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Tommy Bond was one of the best pitchers in the early days of baseball


Tommy Bond

Tommy Bond was one of the greatest pitchers at the start of professional baseball. Many believe he belongs in Cooperstown.
His 2.14 career ERA is bested by only 6 Hall of Fame Hurlers.
He had six seasons of 20 or more wins, four seasons of 30 or more wins, and three seasons of 40 or more.
Some criticize the brevity of his 10-year career but his 3,628 2/3 innings remains 60th all time.
His case is now in the hands of the Veterans Committee.

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Living on America’s frontier cost Deadball Era star Charles “Deacon” Phillippe a chance at Cooperstown


Pitcher Deacon Phillippe

A career worthy of Cooperstown review Deadball Era star Charles “Deacon” Phillippe pitched in more than 450 professional games in a career that almost never happened. Born less than a decade after the end of the US Civil War, Phillippe grew up on the outskirts of the American frontier, beyond the reach of pro baseball. His big league talent undiscovered, Phillippe had to wait until just before his 27th birthday to throw his first pitch in the majors. Once he reached baseball’s highest level, Phillippe made an immediate impact, topping the 20-win plateau in each of his first five seasons. A control artist, Phillippe’s career walk-per-nine-innings rate is the lowest since the pitching distance moved to 60’6″. Phillippe’s glove work was also top-tier. His career fielding percentage was 23 points above the league average. As a hitter, he topped the .200 mark 8 of his 13 seasons. In 1910 the 39-year old Phillippe became the first pitcher to hit an inside-the-park grand slam. More than a century later Mel Stottlemeyre is the only moundsman to match the feat. The forgotten Deadball Era star also has an impressive postseason pedigree. The winner of baseball’s first World Series game, his performance in […]

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The William J. Slocum Award is one of MLB’s most prestigious honors


Vin Scully was presented the prestigious Slocum Award in 1995

The oldest professional sport in the United States, baseball remains America’s National Pastime to this day. The game’s current leagues were flourishing soon after the end of the 1800s. Every city with a team had multiple newspapers reporting their games. Sportswriters worked from stadium press boxes describing their team’s contests in great detail. The widespread news coverage helped grow the game.
In 1908 writers banded together to form the Baseball Writers Association of America. The BBWAA’s founding mission was to “ensure professional working conditions for beat writers at all MLB ballparks and to promote uniformity of scoring methods.
Early in the 1900s New York City boasted three big league teams, the Giants and Dodgers of the National League, and the Highlanders – who later became the Yankees – in the American League. The Big Apple soon became the hub of the baseball world.
One of the writers who covered the New York teams was William J. Slocum. Respected for his baseball knowledge and writing ability, Slocum quickly rose to the top of his profession. Well-liked, he helped organize the New York chapter of the BBWAA.
The Bill Slocom Award is one of the most prestigious awards baseball has to offer. The little-known honor has been given to more than 50 members of the Hall of Fame.

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Baseball’s rule change kept pitcher Gus Weyhing from reaching Cooperstown


Pitcher Gus Weyhing

One of the best hurlers of the 1880s. When pitcher Gus Weyhing began playing professionally in 1887, baseball was a different game than the one we know today. According to the Major League Baseball’s Official Historian John Thorn, the pitching distance was 4 feet, 3–1/2 inches shorter than that of today. Fielders didn’t wear gloves. Playing under those circumstances for the first half of his career, Weyhing was dominant. In his rookie year he won 26 games. Gus was just getting started. Following a 28-win sophomore campaign in 1888, the man they called Rubber-Winged Gus then reeled off four straight 30-win seasons. From 1887 to 1893, Weyhing was consistently among the league leaders in wins, strikeouts, and shutouts. While throwing from the shorter distance, Weyhing was a star swing-and-miss hurler. By the end of his age-26 season Weyhing had 200 career wins. His numbers through his first seven seasons compare favorably to many Hall of Fame hurlers. Everything changed in 1893 Then everything changed. In March 1893, the National League voted to increase the pitching distance to the familiar modern mark of 60’6″. Though Weyhing managed 23 wins in his first year at the new distance, his path to greatness […]

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


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 post-season return 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 whose 153 runs batted in led the league. 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, Davis, and the pitching of Cy Young […]

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


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 […]

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


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 […]

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


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 […]

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

~Jacques Barzun, 1954