HoFer Bert Blyleven gave Don Mattingly an earful in ’84!


After fourteen years on the ballot, Bert Blyleven got elected in 2011, his final year on the Writers’ ballot. The first Dutch-born inductee, Blyleven was a practical joker off the field, and a competitor on it. Renowned for having one of the game’s best curveballs, Blyleven could also bring the heat. Just ask former Yankee Don Mattingly. The first time the two squared off was in August of 1984 at Cleveland’s Lakefront Stadium. Blyleven was in the midst of one of his finest seasons. The Dutchman went 19-7 with a 2.87 ERA that year and finished fourth in the American League in strikeouts. Mattingly was near the apex of his career, finishing the year as the A.L. batting champ, leading the league with 207 hits, and 44 doubles. “The first at bat, I hit a seed, a one-hopper right at the first basemen,” Mattingly said. Feeling confident Mattingly came up for his second at bat ready to do some damage. “I was like all right, I’m going to hit him hard again,” Mattingly recalled. Did the confidence pay off? “The first was right at my chin and knocked me down on my ass,” said a smiling Mattingly. After dusting himself off, the slugger dug in […]

Read More >

Absent from Cooperstown, former Cy Young and MVP Don Newcombe made a US President’s Hall of Fame


By Jim Smiley Don Newcombe’s baseball resume reads like a history lesson, spanning from the pre-integration era of the 1940s to the present day. The first player to win Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and Most Valuable Player awards, “Newk” won 20 games and hit .359 in the Brooklyn Dodgers’ only championship season. Despite his accomplishments, Newcombe never received more than 15.3% of the writers’ vote in elections for Baseball’s Hall of Fame. Though Cooperstown has yet to beckon, Newcombe may very well be in a more prestigious Hall of Fame — one that requires presidential approval for admission. To understand the accomplishments that warrant inclusion into such a Hall of Fame, one must peer into Newcombe’s groundbreaking baseball experiences. Two seasons after beginning his professional baseball career with the Negro Leagues’ Newark Eagles, Newcombe played for the Nashua Dodgers, America’s first racially integrated baseball team since the color line was drawn in 1888. By 1949, Newcombe, with teammates Jackie Robinson, and Roy Campanella, and Cleveland outfielder Larry Doby was among the first African-Americans to be named to a Major League All-Star team. Apparently aware of Newcombe’s role in breaking baseball’s color line, it was President Obama himself who included Newcombe in the […]

Read More >

Dodger press box can be a lonely place — just ask Don Hartack


Many boys dream of making it to the major leagues, hitting balls over the fence and into a crowd of wildly cheering fans.  They picture toeing the pitching rubber with the crowd hushed in anticipation of the pitch.  The big league dream is strong for many, but elusive for all but the special few. Don Hartack, a former high school shortstop, realized early his ability to cleanly field grounders and stay back on a curve ball would not carry him to  baseball’s zenith. It’s Hartack’s other skills that would take him all the way to The Show. You’re watching a baseball game and a hard hit one hopper glances off of the infielder’s glove.  Quick — is it a hit or an error?  The pitch that made its way to the backstop.  What do you think, is it a wild pitch or a passed ball? There’s only one person whose opinion matters. With his precise knowledge of the rule book and keen decision-making skills, Hartack got to the majors as Major League Baseball’s official scorer at Dodger Stadium. The uniformed men play and umpire the game, but it’s Hartack who interprets the plays and decides how they will be statistically recorded.  When he’s […]

Read More >

Eric Smith PA Announcer: The man with the voice from above


When Eric Smith talks, people listen. As public address announcer for theDodgers, Smith’s commanding voice is a sound as familiar to fans attending Dodger games as the organ music of Take Me Out to the Ball Game. For the last ten years, Smith has been the voice from above, announcing the players to the fans who come through the turnstiles each season – all three million of them. “That’s an intimidating number when you think about it,” Smith says. “There’s certainly responsibility that comes with that.” Perhaps Smith’s biggest responsibility is announcing players into the game. When a player is on deck as a pinch hitter, he becomes a part of the game when Smith announces him. Before that happens, the manager tells the umpire he’s making the change. The umpire then gestures to the press box in Eric’s direction to alert him to announce the player. In a preseason game in Smith’s first year, he learned this procedure in dramatic fashion. Jim Tracy, the Dodger manager at the time, instructed a player swing a bat in the on-deck circle. Tracy had no intention of actually having the player pinch-hit. “He was hoping the other manager would see the on-deck hitter and change […]

Read More >

Orel Hershiser’s Cy Young Season had its own Soundtrack


Music has a way of making memories come to life. All it takes for a return to childhood is to hear the lullabies mom sang, or the songs of our youth on the radio. Baseball has its own soundtrack. Take Me Out to the Ball Game brings smiles to the faces of baseball fans no matter where it’s heard. For Dodger faithful, there’s a song that evokes images of Cy Young Award winner Orel Hershiser and the team’s last championship in 1988. Master of the House, a song from the musical Les Miserables, was played each time Hershiser warmed up before home games. Fans at the stadium soon associated the song with Hershiser’s goosebumps-producing performances that featured a Major League record 59 consecutive scoreless innings, and a World Series championship. So how did the tune become Hershiser’s own private song? Turning back the clock to ‘88, we find Nancy Bea Hefley, then in her first year as organist at Dodger Stadium. A poised, classy figure, Hefley fondly recalls watching Les Mis at the Shubert Theater, hearing Master of the House for the first time early in the 1988 season. “Even though it was a rowdy number, I thought it was catchy,” Hefley said. But it wasn’t Hershiser she had in mind when she decided […]

Read More >

ESPN profiles the collection of CooperstownExpert.com


ESPN calls the CooperstownExpert collection, “One of the most comprehensive Hall of Fame collections outside of Coopertown. The collection is home to autographs of all but three MLB Hall of Famers who debuted since 1900. This site is dedicated to the display and explanation of the collection.   CooperstownExpert.com is not solely about autographs. Make your way to the Babe Ruth player page and read first-hand accounts of the “Called Shot” in the 1932 World Series, click on the Stunning Stories category on the home page and find the post on Barry Bonds. There’s something for everyone.   In the video above, ESPN interviews lifelong collector Jim Smiley. Jim and his collection have been profiled on the internet, radio, television, podcasts, and newspapers coast to coast. We hope you enjoy your time spent at CooperstownExpert.com.

Read More >

Judgment of Steroid Era comes every year at Hall of Fame


(Editors’ note: Mike Piazza was inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 24, 2016.) Can the game’s story be complete without a plaque of the baseball’s all-time home run leader? Doesn’t the man with the most Cy Young Awards deserve induction? How about the catcher with the most career homers? All have been on the ballot, yet none is enshrined. The allegations pointed toward Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are well-documented. The case for Mike Piazza remains less clear. Certainly his numbers are certainly Cooperstown-worthy. Amassed in any other era, his 427 homers and .308 lifetime average would be enough to garner the catcher a bronze plaque. Piazza’s six seasons with at least 100 runs batted in, 12 all-star appearances, and ten Silver Slugger awards certainly seem Cooperstown-worthy. In today’s Hall of Fame voting process, however, numbers aren’t enough. That’s where hypocrisy begins to creep in. During the steroid era, the Baseball Writers concerned themselves only with on-field performance. Seven times they voted prickly Barry Bonds the MVP; seven times they cast enough votes for Roger Clemens to receive the Cy Young Award. No one cared then that the players’ statistics might have been aided by performance enhancing drugs. When those same two players were on the Hall of Fame […]

Read More >

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

~Jacques Barzun, 1954