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Science, Culture, & Humanities
Topic: baseball (Read 9122 times)
August 12, 2007, 11:37:57 AM »
Looking at Alex Rodriguez's numbers are amazing when one sees he is only 32 years old.
He already has hall of fame numbers the likes of Willie McCovey, Eddie Matthews, Ernie Banks and others.
But every time I see this kind of thing I can't help but wonder. Is he using or not?
I have no idea. Just kind of taints it for everyone in the game. Even those who don't use. I still suggest they make it legal. May as well. At least get out and into the open.
Anyway, if he stays healthy he should overtake Bonds.
Reply #1 on:
August 16, 2007, 11:49:19 AM »
He is a Yankee..He can do no Wrong in my heart!
Ya..Yankees fan here..What about it sukka?!
Peace, Love and PitBulls
Violence. It may not be the answer, But it sure cuts down on the questions!
Real field of dreams
Reply #2 on:
September 02, 2007, 10:41:46 AM »
The rookie's no-hitter almost makes me want to be a baseball fan again. No obvious help from performance enhancing drugs. The next Greg Maddux? By the way anyone know if Prince Fielder related to Cecil - my favorite player of the 90's?
Growing up in the NYC metropolitan area in the 60's and 70's I was a Yankee fan too. During the days of Murcer, White, Michael, Clarke, Alou, Pepitone, Munson, (saw Mantle ground out a couple of times), Howard, Boomer Bloomberg, and more.
Remember Reggie Jackson throwing a guy out at the plate from right and receiving a standing ovation. The very next half of the inning he walked and got picked off first only to be booed and fans screaming "bum". Only in NY!
Re: other sports - hockey
Reply #3 on:
March 22, 2008, 10:52:38 PM »
I will put this post here until my sports of tennis and hockey are DB recognized as combat games with martial arts significance.
The intro i read on this video, was that if you thought Wayne Gretzky was the greatest hockey player ever, then you were too young to know Bobby Orr. He was the strongest and fastest skater, best shooter, best playmaker, best with stick control, best puck handler, best defense, best hitter, best vision of the whole ice. etc. etc. FWIW, now with helmets and face masks, you will never again see players with this kind of vision for everything in play. Enjoy 7 minute highlights of Boston's no. 4.
Last Edit: March 22, 2008, 11:20:18 PM by DougMacG
Reply #4 on:
July 13, 2008, 10:39:17 AM »
It's hard to think the time has gone by. I remember the summers listening to the radio and watching the TV hoping that Murcer would live up to the hype of being the next Mickey. He never lived up to Mickey on the field. But he lived up to (and surpassed) Mickey off the field. He was a very good player but never reached the star status. But I do not recall anything bad ever written about him as a person.
He played during a time period when batting averages, home runs and runs batted in declined. Before the explosion of numbers came with the explosion of performance enhancing drug use. If he played today or in the 90s he would probably have acumulated 500 not 250 home runs. As a Yankee fan growing up I join the rest of the fans and am saddened by the loss.
Ex-Yanks star, broadcaster Bobby Murcer dies at 62
By BEN WALKER, AP Baseball Writer Sun Jul 13, 4:01 AM ET
NEW YORK (AP) — Bobby Murcer succeeded Mickey Mantle, played in pinstripes with Don Mattingly and watched proudly from the broadcast booth when the New York Yankees returned to power.
A cherished link from former Yankees greats to the club's current stars, Murcer died Saturday due to complications from a malignant brain tumor, the team said. He was 62.
In his final moments, Murcer was surrounded by family at Mercy Hospital in his hometown of Oklahoma City, the Yankees said. A five-time All-Star outfielder, he spent nearly four decades with New York as a player, executive and announcer.
"Bobby Murcer was a born Yankee, a great guy, very well-liked and a true friend of mine," owner George Steinbrenner said. "I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife Kay, their children and grandchildren. I will really miss the guy."
Murcer was diagnosed with a brain tumor on Christmas Eve 2006 after having headaches. He had surgery that week in Houston and doctors later discovered the tumor was malignant. Determined to be around his beloved Yankees, Murcer returned to the broadcast booth last year and briefly this season.
The only person to play with Mantle and Mattingly, the popular Murcer hit .277 with 252 home runs and 1,043 RBIs in 17 seasons with the Yankees, San Francisco and the Chicago Cubs. He made the All-Star team in both leagues and won a Gold Glove.
"All of Major League Baseball is saddened today by the passing of Bobby Murcer, particularly on the eve of this historic All-Star game at Yankee Stadium, a place he called home for so many years," commissioner Bud Selig said. "Bobby was a gentleman, a great ambassador for baseball, and a true leader both on and off the field. He was a man of great heart and compassion."
Always a fan favorite in New York and known for his folksy manner as a broadcaster, Murcer won three Emmy Awards for live sports coverage. His most dramatic words came during his time as a player on one of the saddest days in Yankees history.
Murcer delivered one of the eulogies in Ohio after captain Thurman Munson was killed in a plane crash in August 1979. The team flew home after the funeral and, that night, Murcer hit a three-run homer and then a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth to beat Baltimore 5-4.
A tearful Murcer fell into the arms of teammate Lou Piniella after the game and gave his bat to Munson's wife.
"There is no way to explain what happened," Murcer said. "We used every ounce of strength to go out and play that game. We won it for Thurman."
The Yankees learned of Murcer's death Saturday after a 9-4 victory in Toronto. Visibly upset, players such as Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte spoke softly about how much Murcer meant to them.
"He touched everybody," Rivera said.
"One of the greatest Yankees of all-time," Alex Rodriguez added. "One of the greatest human beings I ever met."
It was the second consecutive summer that the Yankees lost a former star and beloved broadcaster. Hall of Fame shortstop Phil Rizzuto died in August 2007.
Now, the Yankees are mourning Murcer.
"If there's a Hall of Fame for people, he's in it," Reggie Jackson said. "He was such a good person, and he was appreciative of the people who cared so much for him."
Touted by many in New York as the next Mantle — they were both from Oklahoma, played shortstop and came with strokes fit for Yankee Stadium's short right-field porch — Murcer made his major league debut as a 19-year-old player in 1965.
After serving in the U.S. Army during the 1967-68 seasons, Murcer homered on opening day in front of President Nixon in 1969 at Washington to launch a career as a full-time player.
Murcer moved from shortstop to third base to begin that year, but soon was in center field, Mantle's old spot. Murcer also took over Mantle's locker.
"That was supposed to be the tag. You know, he was going to follow Mantle and do it with ease," said Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre, who managed the Yankees from 1996-2007. "He certainly understood it. It's not easy, but he wore the mantle with a lot of class and never shied away from the responsibility.
"Bobby was a great human being. He really zeroed in on the person he was with, and he was a lot of fun. A lot of class. He's going to be missed."
Murcer spent most of his career in pinstripes. He was traded to San Francisco for Bobby Bonds after the 1974 season and was with the Chicago Cubs when the Yankees won the World Series in 1977 and 1978.
He came back to the Yankees during the 1979 season. He had a pinch-hit grand slam in the 1981 opener and was a part-time player when he reached the World Series for the only time later that year, with New York losing to the Dodgers.
"Just a wonderful person, a great teammate and a heck of a baseball player," Piniella said in Chicago after managing the Cubs to a victory over San Francisco. "It's a sad day."
During his career, Murcer had a three-homer game, hit for the cycle and once homered in four straight at-bats.
Smart at the plate, he beat out Willie Mays in 1971 to lead the majors in on-base percentage. The next year, Murcer set career highs with 33 homers and 96 RBIs, and led the AL in total bases and runs. He finished with more career walks (862) than strikeouts (841).
Murcer made the All-Star team for five straight seasons, starting in 1971.
"He was a tough man," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, fighting back tears. "He was a great Yankee, but probably more importantly he was a great friend. He always put others first. He played the game the right way. He got what life was about, and that was making life better for the people around you."
Murcer retired in June 1983 and moved into the broadcast booth that season, working as a color analyst on radio. He served one year as assistant general manager of the Yankees, returned as an announcer in 1989 and stayed in the booth as New York won four World Series titles from 1996-2000.
"He always had that bright smile and that positive spin on everything," Yankees slugger Jason Giambi said. "He was the type of guy who never had a bad day."
Murcer also served as chairman of B.A.T., the Baseball Assistance Team charity that provides financial help and other support to players in need.
"I've never met a more genuine person," Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay said. "What he went through the last couple of years no one should ever have to go through, but he went through it with such grace. He was an amazing, amazing guy. He was a piece of work in the best way possible."
A family service will be held within the next several days in Oklahoma City. In addition, a celebration of Murcer's life will be held at a date to be determined, the Yankees said.
Murcer is survived by his wife, his children, Tori and Todd, and his grandchildren.
Reply #5 on:
January 11, 2010, 03:43:56 PM »
Well at least he is honest. He seems like a geniunely good person. I remember someone telling me he was quite gracious signing an autograph for a young relative even while being asked/distrubed during dinner at a restaurant with his family (he reportedly has a brother bigger than him).
The "steroid era" as he puts it, not only admits his but basically says steroid use was rampant among all/most players.
It may still be. I don't know.
I used to be a big buff on baseball stats. Should he be in the Hall. I don't know. He would have been a great home run hitter anyway (I think) though he certainly wouldn't have hit 70 any more than Sosa would have broken 60 or Bonds would have hit 73.
Now if only I could get the music industry admit to all the lies &they all sing stolen lyrics and they are all a bunch of lying low lives....Sorry, I am bitter...
****In a statement released by the St. Louis Cardinals, McGwire said that he began using steroids in the late 1980’s and used them “on occasion throughout the 1990’s,” including the 1998 season, when McGwire captivated the nation by hitting 70 home runs to break the all-time single season record of 61 held by Roger Maris.
McGwire’s statement comes as he prepares to return to baseball as the hitting coach for the Cardinals, the team he played for when he set the home run record.
“Now that I have become the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals,” McGwire said, “I have the chance to do something that I wish I was able to do five years ago. I never knew when, but I always knew this day would come. It’s time for me to talk about the past and to confirm what people have suspected. I used steroids during my playing career and I apologize.”
McGwire said that he briefly used steroids in the off-season before the 1990 season and then resumed using them after he was injured in 1993. McGwire retired after an injury-marred 2001 season, in which he played in only 97 games and hit .187.
“I wish I had never touched steroids,” he said in the statement. “It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era.”
McGwire is one of dozens of players from the past two decades who have been tied to the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Last year it was revealed that Sammy Sosa, who dueled with McGwire for the home run record in 1998, tested positive for performance-enhancig drugs in 2003.
“I’m sure people will wonder if I could have hit all those home runs had I never taken steroids,” McGwire’s statement read. “I had good years when I didn’t take any and I had bad years when I didn’t take any. I had good years when I took steroids and I had bad years when I took steroids. But no matter what, I shouldn’t have done it and for that I’m truly sorry.”
McGwire’s statement confirmed what had widely assumed within baseball and what has damaged McGwire’s chances in the last four years of balloting for the Hall of Fame; in none of them, did he come anywhere near the number of votes he needed for induction.****
Reply #6 on:
September 25, 2010, 11:51:17 AM »
105 mph! I looked up his size - 6'4" but onlty 185 pounds. Pretty lanky. All leverage and technique. Like Brazalian ju jsitsu masters:
***Chapman throws fastest pitch ever recorded
By Steve Henson, Yahoo! Sports
– Aroldis Chapman(notes) was summoned from the bullpen one batter too late to make a difference in the game. No matter. The 22-year-old Cincinnati Reds left-hander made do by making history Friday night, throwing the fastest pitch recorded in a major league game, a 105-mph fastball.
Ardolis Chapman's 25 pitches on Friday night (each registering 100 mph or faster, including his record-breaking 105 mph heater) must have been a blur to Padres batters.
(Christopher Hanewinckel/US Presswire)
The blazing pitch pushed a white-hot pennant race to the back burner. Yes, the San Diego Padres won the game 4-3 to pull ahead of the Atlanta Braves in the National League wild-card race. Sure, the San Francisco Giants all but buried the Colorado Rockies thanks to a dominant performance by Tim Lincecum(notes).
But the lingering memory was of a now-you-see-it, did-I-actually-see-it fastball to Tony Gwynn(notes) in the eighth inning. The pitch was not a fluke: Chapman threw 25 pitches in his 1 1/3 innings of relief, and every one was at least 100 mph. He didn’t throw a slider. He didn’t throw a changeup. Why would he?
More From Steve HensonJamie McCourt is admittedly clueless Sep 21, 2010 Latos belongs in the NL Cy Young discussion Sep 11, 2010 From Walter Johnson to Bob Feller to Steve Dalkowski to J.R. Richard to Nolan Ryan to Stephen Strasburg, blistering velocity is etched forever in baseball lore. Rush Chapman to the head of the list. Has anybody in the history of the game had a comparable 25-pitch sequence?
“I didn’t see it until the ball was behind me,” Gwynn said. “I was trying not to look at the radar reading because I’d be intimidated. I saw how hard he was throwing and just tried to be slow and work my hands.”
The 105-mph pitch was inside for a ball and evened the count at 2-2. Gwynn had fouled off the previous two pitches and fouled off the next before striking out. He ought to be pleased with his effort, forcing Chapman to make seven pitches, the slowest of which was 102 mph.
Gwynn’s father, Tony, a Hall-of-Famer and one of baseball greatest hitters, never saw a pitch as fast as the one Chapman threw. Maybe nobody else has, either. Since radar guns were introduced in the 1980s, the fastest pitch recorded was 104.8 mph by Joel Zumaya(notes) of the Detroit Tigers in a playoff game Oct. 10, 2006. Chapman, who defected from the Cuban national team in 2009, was clocked at 104 on Sept. 1 in his second major league appearance and also hit 105 mph with a pitch for Triple-A Louisville earlier this season.
Chapman, speaking through an interpreter with bags of ice strapped across his arm, credited his stepped-up velocity Friday to the fact that he’d pitched only once in the last week. He didn’t allow an earned run in his first eight relief appearances after being promoted Aug. 31, but the Astros nicked him for two runs a week ago. He pitched a scoreless inning on Monday against the Brewers, then had three more days off.
“My arm had been a little sore and the rest helped,” he said. “I felt as good as I did a couple weeks ago. Not the best I’ve ever felt, but I felt good.”
Reds manager Dusty Baker appreciated the moment, but the loss grated on him. Chapman was warming up in the bullpen when Miguel Tejada(notes) delivered a bases-loaded, two-out single in the seventh against Nick Masset(notes) that drove in the Padres’ third and fourth runs. Chapman came in and struck out Adrian Gonzalez(notes) on three fastballs that registered 101, 102 and 103 mph.
Baker had been reluctant to summon Chapman to face Tejada with the bases loaded and the Reds holding a one-run lead, envisioning a wild pitch or a walk.
“A guy throwing that hard, looking back you can say I should have brought him in earlier, but he can’t pitch against everybody all the time,” Baker said.
Asked if that was the hardest he has seen Chapman throw by a small degree, Baker replied, “By a big degree.”***
George Brett and the Pine Tar incident
Reply #7 on:
July 09, 2013, 08:53:52 PM »
I remember this game well. No one could believe George Brett going so bananas over being called out. The homerun was reinstated. So I guess there was no illegal use of extra pine tar. But the day before the bat was covered in it? In any case. From what I recall, George Brett was never the same hitter again after this. I don't know if that was coincidence or it affected his hitting skills thereafter:
POTH: Maple bats
Reply #8 on:
July 26, 2013, 09:54:50 AM »
Welington Castillo smashed a double for the Chicago Cubs late in a game in the 2010 season, his bat exploding on impact with the ball. A long shard of wood flew at a teammate, Tyler Colvin, sprinting home from third base, impaling him a few inches from his heart. Though Colvin scored, his season was over.
But the season of the maple bat shows no signs of ending. Ever since 2001, when Barry Bonds broke the single-season major-league home run record using maple bats, more and more players have abandoned the ash bats favored by Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron and Derek Jeter. About 64 percent of the 60,000 bats sold to major-league teams last year were maple.
“It feels different than ash,” said Michael T. Rains, acting director of the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wis., part of the United States Forest Service. “It feels like you can swing the bat faster.”
Vince Malta, who authenticates major-league bats for collectors, added: “A maple bat has a hard surface. It’s got more pop.”
Trouble is, while all bats may break, some maple bats did not so much break as explode. Bits of them have ended up in Colvin’s chest, and in the faces of fans in ballparks in New York and Kansas City. For five years, Major League Baseball has been trying to end the era of the shattered bat.
Now, it seems, they are more than halfway home. In 2008, statistics show, 5,000 bats broke in hitters’ hands, with 2,500 of those shattering in what wood technicians call “multipiece failures,” and those in the line of fire call less printable names. Last year, the number of broken bats was down only slightly, but the number of shattered bats dropped to just over 1,200.
The change is the result of an unusual partnership between Major League Baseball and the Forest Service, whose scientists looked deep into maple’s core to find why it was so brittle, and how it could be made less so. Giving up the wood entirely was deemed out of the question.
As David E. Kretschmann, the Forest Service scientist who led a team of colleagues working on the maple mystery, said, “If someone’s making millions of dollars using a certain thing, they’re not going to mess with it.”
What Mr. Kretschmann’s team told Major League Baseball’s equipment specialists is that it was harder to follow the orientation of the grain of maple wood than of ash. In ash trees, the veinlike vessels that carry water up through the trunk are larger and arrayed in clear, almost regimental form in the growth rings.
In maple trees, these vessels are smaller and scattered through the dense wood fiber nearly randomly. This makes them harder to see, and harder to follow when carving billets — the round cylinders that are carved into bats — out of a tree. The more that the wood grain in the cut wood deviates from its original slope, the more shatter-prone the bat, he said.
With Mr. Kretschmann’s information in hand, baseball changed the specifications for its maple bats. Handles had to be thicker. The wood had to meet a minimum density. The weight-to-length ratio could not fall below specified limits. And the grain in the bat could not deviate more than 3 percent off the true path of the grain in the original wood.
To ensure that the grain was easy to see and measure, a black ink dot was added, allowing the ink to bleed into the grain and make it more visible.
Chuck Schupp, the director of pro baseball sales and promotions for Hillerich & Bradsby, the makers of the Louisville Slugger bat, credited these rules for lessening the risk of flying maple shards in ballparks. “Maple’s been around for 13 years,” he said. “The rules helped make it less a question of safety.” Mr. Schupp said that his company has about 50 percent of the bat market.
Don Fine, the president of Viper Bats in Washington State, a boutique operation that sells to teams like the Philadelphia Phillies and Seattle Mariners, said that he has changed the way he cuts the cylindrical billets out of the wood, mimicking the action of splitting a fence rail.
Mr. Fine said ballplayers are very conscious of the shattered bat issue, and will quickly call if they feel a bat has shattered because of poor construction. “Most of the guys will know. ‘That was an outside slider. I shouldn’t have swung at it. Drat, I broke my bat.’ ”
“But if they are hitting it on the sweet spot and it’s still shattering,” he said, “they will sent it back.”
The decline in shattered bats has continued for the past four years, and it can be measured by the new statistic Mr. Kretschmann’s team has given to baseball, a sport famous for them: multipiece failures per game. In 2008, the MPF rate was about 1.0. Through the first 1,300 games of 2009, after the rules were changed, it was 0.69, he reported.
Through the first 1,300 games of 2013, it is 0.47.
This is, however, a downside to the trend, at least for Mr. Fine at Viper Bats. “It’s created a longer business cycle for wood bats,” he said. “A guy might have bought six of them every summer until last year. Now he’s buying three.”
Reply #9 on:
July 27, 2013, 12:03:01 PM »
Very interesting. I recall reading theories of why baseballs seemed to travel farther than in the past. If I recall the focus was on the baseball construction. Not the bat. I remember seeing surge in what appeared like balls rocketing off bats into the bleachers and thinking how the heck was that a homerun. Even announcers were questioning how balls seemed to travel farther with what appeared to be less bat contact than in the past.
Some estimated a change in ball composition led to an extra 20 feet to the distance of balls hit.
Maybe bats are also part of the equation. As well as steroids. As well as better training methods. It seems like everyone swings like Mickey Mantle these days. The one hand finish to the swing is ubiquitous. Studies must have shown that letting go with the one hand at the end of the swing is superior.
I wish they would have done more for pitchers. I miss the perennial 20 game winners. Going to be tough for any more 300 game winners anymore.
Reply #10 on:
August 07, 2013, 09:54:55 AM »
Reply #11 on:
August 09, 2013, 11:09:30 AM »
Hat tip to BigDog:
Reply #12 on:
August 11, 2013, 12:05:16 PM »
Quote from: Crafty_Dog on August 09, 2013, 11:09:30 AM
Hat tip to BigDog:
This is a great piece. I like that they transition into other sports and into learning psychology. In tennis, the relationship between server and receiver is very similar to that of pitcher and batter. Pete Sampras was one of the most successful servers of all time. Asked about his serve in a US Open interview he said that what he does is try to get up as high in the air as he can, hit as hard as he can, and aim for the corners. What he didn't say is that unlike the 100th or 1000th best player in the world with a similarly hard serve, he gives off almost no discernible information to the receiver about which serve to which corner he is about to hit until it is too late to react. Obviously Finch also has that same ability.
The 10,000-hour 'rule' to master a skill is interesting. A followup is that I think it takes a pretty high level of talent and inclination in order to dedicate total concentration into anything for that duration. That the virtuoso violists spend a disproportionate amount of their time on self-directed practice is evidence of that. In tennis, the Dad of an 11 year old who went on to become the top junior in the region by 13 told me his daughter would play out entire matches in her head while just 'hitting' a pretend ball against the side of the house. That is not the intensity level of the ordinary player.
WSJ: Strong Arm Tactics
Reply #13 on:
October 01, 2013, 04:29:25 PM »
A Bank Executive's Strong-Arm Tactics
Keeping Fit for a Weekend Job Playing Baseball
By JEN MURPHY
"Have arm, will travel" is Rodney Tafoya's motto. During the week, Mr. Tafoya works as a vice president of a Bank of the West branch in Albuquerque, N.M. On weekends and during vacations, he travels the country as a pitcher for amateur baseball teams in need of one.
At 49, Mr. Tafoya would be considered a dinosaur in most professional sports circles. "I can still throw an 86-mile-per-hour fastball," he says.
He is often called on to pitch during games for teams in the affiliated 25-and-over Men's Senior Baseball League and 18-and-over Men's Adult Baseball League. This season he also played for the Taos Blizzards, who are part of the Pecos League, an independent baseball league.
Rodney Tafoya, age 49, is a vice president of the Albuquerque, N.M., branch of Bank of the West who pitches for amateur baseball teams, such as the Albuquerque Athletics, on weekends and during vacations.
Mr. Tafoya pitched for Newman University in Wichita, Kan., on a baseball scholarship. When he didn't get drafted by a Major League Baseball team after his senior year season in 1986, he left school to play in the Mexican minor leagues.
He returned to Newman in 1988, and a year later he graduated and signed with the Boise Hawks, a Single-A minor-league team. An elbow injury in 1990 forced Mr. Tafoya into retirement from the game and he took a job as a management trainee at a bank in Eugene, Ore.
"I thought my pitching career was finished, but a customer of the bank brought in his kid and we started playing catch outside and the pain in my elbow was gone. I thought maybe I could start over," says Mr. Tafoya.
In 1993, he started playing for the Eugene Rockies in the Men's Senior Baseball League. In 2007, he joined Bank of West and started playing for a Men's Adult Baseball League. "The 18-and-over league is more competitive," says Mr. Tafoya. "It's a faster game. A lot of the players are in college and come home for the summer and play on this league."
Mr. Tafoya, who lives in Santa Fe, N.M., says he uses all of his 4½ weeks of paid vacation for baseball. In the offseason, he keeps his pitching arm in shape by playing in tournaments in the Caribbean. "I try to pitch one game a week if I can," he says.
During a game, Mr. Tafoya says his goal is to pitch all nine innings of a game, which he estimates is about 90 minutes on the mound.
"I let pain dictate how many innings I throw," he says.
Mr. Tafoya logs at least 25 miles of cardio a week. Monday through Friday, he walks 5 miles at a brisk pace at 5:30 a.m. with his girlfriend. "We found that walks were a nice way to spend time together during the week," he says.
He starts Saturday and Sunday with a 10-to-12-mile brisk walk. Three days a week he runs 3 miles on the treadmill. On Wednesdays, he does speed work, running five 20-yard sprints, five 30-yard sprints and five 50-yard sprints.
He uses dumbbells to strengthen his arms and shoulders.
Sometimes Mr. Tafoya will wear a 50-pound backpack and climb some of the peaks in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range near Santa Fe. "My latest climb was Nambe Lake, where I climbed in 5 feet of snow to an elevation of over 11,000 feet," he says. "This workout does wonders for my push-off leg on the mound and for my core. It's core strength that supplies the velocity of a pitch."
He keeps his arm in shape with a conditioning routine that involves 15 to 20 minutes of long-toss throws at a maximum of 350 feet one day a week. On Sundays, he spends 10 minutes before a game doing long-toss throws of about 300 feet. (A long-toss workout for pitchers involves throwing a ball over certain distances, which extends the arm muscles in a way that promotes strength and health.)
The repeated throwing puts wear and tear on Mr. Tafoya's rotator cuff, shoulder and elbow, so he pays close attention to strengthening the muscles around those joints. Two to three days a week he does a strength routine such as lateral and front raises as well as bent-over reverse dumbbell flies using tubing and 1-pound weights.
He also does core exercises on a stability ball.
Mr. Tafoya's protein-rich diet includes poached eggs with toast and yogurt and a vegetable and fruit juice he makes in the morning.
He regularly brings lunch to work, often a salad topped with tuna or chicken. Dinner is often chicken, turkey, sardines or tuna with a salad. He keeps almonds on hand for snacking. He has two protein drinks a day, but no alcohol or soda.
To reduce muscle inflammation, Mr. Tafoya takes three to six caplets of fish oil daily and adds fresh pineapple and ginger root to his juices. He also has an amino acid drink twice a day and takes a glutamine supplement twice a day.
Inside Baseball: A Guide to AntiInflammatory Foods to Help Sore Muscles
A massage and a hot bath aren't the only ways to relieve sore muscles after a hard workout. What you eat also can help ease the pain.
"Certain foods can help decrease muscle inflammation and will have long-term benefits," says Jessica Crandall, a Denver dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Ms. Crandall says a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, lean proteins, whole grains and fruits and vegetables is ideal for muscle recovery.
"Foods work on a cellular level, so you might not notice a difference in the first hour after eating them," Ms. Crandall says.
Salmon, tuna and sardines are high in omega 3-fatty acids, she says. Antioxidant-rich foods such as beans, berries, pomegranates and nuts also help reduce cellular inflammation.
"Studies have also shown that herbs such as cinnamon, turmeric and even green tea help promote healthy cells and decrease inflammation," she says.
Eating protein is important, as it will assist with muscle repair, says Ms. Crandall.
"Cutting out or cutting back processed refined grains, salt and trans fats and saturated fats will also help, as these things increase inflammation," she says.
Drinking plenty of water also helps to "lubricate your joints and may decrease joint pain," says Ms. Crandall.
"After a hard workout most people reach for a protein shake or a bar," says Jae Berman, a San Francisco sports dietitian, "but the best way to help the body recover is to give it the nutrients it needs from a plate of real food."
Reply #14 on:
April 02, 2014, 09:13:53 PM »
The myth about Ruth's famed called shot into the bleachers. Took a life of its own. Early on Ruth himself said he was simply pointing out it only takes "one" He said that if did actually pointing a location in field to hit one would invited getting beaned. And it was ridiculous to think anyone could know where the ball is going in advance.
But legends live on when there are living and loving admirers still alive who can verify what they are "sure" he did.
His living 96 yr. old daughter says her did do it. He pointed to a bleacher and hit a colossal shot right into that same bleacher.
My take is he was ordering a hotdog from a vendor when he lifted his finger.
Reply #15 on:
April 02, 2014, 09:18:34 PM »
The article about the called shot ;
Reply #16 on:
April 16, 2014, 07:43:52 AM »
Response to Doug's post from the race thread on Hand Aaron's recent comparison of GOP and KKK.
Yes I too was Very disappointed to see him say this in an interview. I recall when a friend and I were sitting a AA spring training Atlanta Braves game in Florida (West Palm Beach?) in the early 90's some guy walked across the other side of the bleachers and everyone started clapping. The word was it was Hank Aaron.
Great player and always came across as a gentlemen. Performed under extreme pressure and surely was a victim of segregation and racism.
Yet I don't quite get the comparison of the GOP to the KKK. Perhaps someone should email him the post of the history of racism and the two major American parties on the racism board.
Re: Hank Aaron
Reply #17 on:
April 16, 2014, 11:13:36 AM »
The American flag burned at the same game where they honored him. Unexpected wind shift...
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution If you were at the game Tuesday night, you watched as baseball legend Hank Aaron was honored and the team's latest division banner was unveiled. You might've missed the red glare of a firework bursting in air, burning holes in a nearby American flag at Turner Field.
Faster than Nolan Ryan!!! Wow!!!
Reply #18 on:
April 25, 2014, 03:34:17 PM »
102.9 mph and rising? Royals' Yordano Ventura brings heat like no other starting pitcher
By Jeff Passan 13 hours ago Yahoo Sports
The hardest-throwing starting pitcher ever stands 6-foot on a really tall day, weighs 180 pounds if he's got a Costanza wallet in his back pocket and remembers vividly the first time he threw a baseball 100 mph. It was only 1 mph more than the 99 mph his arm generated hundreds of times before, but in that 1 mph a pitcher crosses the baseball Rubicon. For those who reach triple digits never, ever want to come back.
"It was in Arizona, my first time throwing 100," Yordano Ventura said. He's working on his English these days, getting better and better, and talking about that magical binary number extracts the best in him. "No scoreboard. Radar gun only. One of my teammates hold it. He told me, 'Hey. You throw 100 today.' "
Yordano Ventura has thrown 14 pitches in the 100 mph range this season. (USA TODAY Sports)
Ventura was 19. Two years earlier, Kansas City Royals scouts and executives looked past his slight frame and at his right arm, which birthed some of the smoothest, easiest fastballs any of them had seen. They offered him $28,000 to sign, a small bonus even by the deflated standards in the Dominican Republic. He accepted. They saw his potential. His fastball leaped from the mid-80s to mid-90s within months. They marveled. He crept up to 98, 99. They refined his mechanics. He hit 100. They pushed him. He went to 101, then 102. They gave him a rotation spot. And in his first start this season, Ventura threw the fastest fastball ever clocked from a starter, 102.9 mph, a number that boggles the mind because it's only April, and almost every pitcher throws harder as the season progresses.
With 14 fastballs at 100-plus mph already this season, Ventura owns the record for triple-digit heaters from a starter in April, according to calculations from the invaluable Dan Brooks, who uses PITCHf/x data to give the greatest insight yet into the fascinating speeds at which pitchers today throw. It's not just Ventura, now 22, either. Since 2008, when Brooks began running his website brooksbaseball.net, 77 pitchers have thrown 4,354 pitches at 100 mph or more.
The King of 100 is, not surprisingly, Cincinnati closer Aroldis Chapman, generally regarded as the hardest thrower in baseball history. He owns the two biggest 100-mph-pitch seasons with 356 last year and 332 the year before, and his 998 triple-digit pitches account for nearly 23 percent of the 100-plus pitches in the major leagues since 2008.
After a horrific line drive to the skull sidelined Chapman for the first month, Ventura ascended to the throne for the time being, accounting for nearly half of the 31 triple-digit pitches thrown by 11 pitchers this season. His average fastball sizzles at 97.8 mph. He's among the league leaders in swings and misses on fastballs. And as he makes his fourth start Friday night in Baltimore, the Camden Yards scoreboard will get to flex a muscle it rarely does. Even Tommy Hunter, the hard-throwing Orioles closer, has hit 100 just once this season.
Reaching 100 isn't the chore it used to be, not with the shoulder-strengthening exercises required of pitchers today helping generate excess velocity. Ryan Tucker, Tom Wilhelmsen, Al Alburquerque, Wily Peralta and Jake McGee all have touched 100 exactly once in their careers. Doing so consistently takes far more work. Just 31 players have hit 100 at least 10 times in one season. Just six have gotten to triple digits with triple digits. Ventura looks like a safe bet to beat the record for a starter: 61, by Justin Verlander in 2012.
The limited history of PITCHf/x does not allow the inclusion of Nolan Ryan, who hit 100-plus on radar guns, and Bob Feller, who used military equipment to register a fastball at 98.6 mph and swore he threw harder. It does ensure never again will we need to guess whether one pitcher threw harder than another. The cameras in the system will tell us, and scientists can do with the data what they please. Brooks, for example, sets his release point at 55 feet (more realistic than PITCHf/x's 50) and adjusts the numbers by park, because the system does have noticeable errors in certain stadiums.
Unquestionable is the power of the 100-mph fastball, the lore that comes with it and the number of pitchers who do everything they can in hopes some day they, too, can trigger the third digit to flicker.
"Mark McGwire used to always say, 'Anybody can throw double digits,' " Cardinals reliever Jason Motte said last spring, with 32 triple-digit notches on his belt. "What'd you hit? Ten? Ninety-nine? Still double digits. Only a few can throw three digits. So it's pretty cool if you can do that. Might as well try to do it every now and again."
Next to him sat Trevor Rosenthal, who took over as St. Louis closer after Motte blew out his right elbow. The previous fall, as the Cardinals romped to a World Series title, Rosenthal lit up radar guns, sitting in the high 90s and tickling 100 with scary regularity.
"I don't think God reached down and put a lightning bolt in my right arm … " Rosenthal said, trailing off, incapable of explaining why he can throw so much harder than most. Though he's onto something. It is a gift. Even as 90 mph is a necessity and 95 something of a requisite and 100 increasingly common, velocity remains romanticized by pitchers and executives alike.
Velocity with control, which Ventura flashed in his first two starts, is the sign of a star and the reason that after years of inapt comparisons to Pedro Martinez – Ramon Ortiz, Edinson Volquez, Jose Dominguez – Ventura might be the most reasonable facsimile yet. His changeup isn't Pedro quality yet, even though it decelerates through the strike zone at 90 mph. His breaking ball isn't as crisp, though it has better tilt than Pedro's hammer curveball.
While Ventura's secondary pitches will make him a star, his fastball is his meal ticket into the conversation, a legitimate game changer. The first time Royals center fielder Jarrod Dyson saw it, during an instructional-league intrasquad game, he couldn't fathom how someone so slight propelled a projectile with such force.
"He was about my size," said the 5-foot-9, 160-pound Dyson. "I was not expecting 100. The first fastball kind of jumped at me, and I'm like, OK, we got a gunslinger in here."
Now comes the toughest part: steadying the gun. Ventura's biggest issue, catcher Salvador Perez said, is that "he gets too excited and tries to throw 200 miles an hour." Which, if it were anatomically possible, Ventura might do. Being that 106 mph or so is a generally accepted ceiling before an arm goes kablooey, he does have room left to add a couple miles and challenge Chapman's record 105.1-mph pitch.
"I'd rather throw strikes and keep the ball down than throw 100," Ventura said.
Which is only partially true. Throwing strikes is nice. It helps. He will win lots of games because of it. But come on. No pitcher wants to be Jonathan Papelbon, hitting 100 mph three times in 2009 and sometimes struggling to crack 90 this year. Shoving a baseball at 100 mph connotes strength and power and animalism, the sort of thing that defines a pitcher.
"Sometimes you throw easy and it's 100," Ventura said. "I'd rather throw easy."
That's more like it. That's a man embracing who he is: the hardest-throwing starting pitcher ever, the one who crossed the Rubicon three years ago, hasn't come back since and has no plans to do so anytime
Reply #19 on:
April 26, 2014, 07:55:41 AM »
Very interesting!-- including the reference to new training methods for the shoulder. There was a gym buddy with a minor league contract in a gym I used to go to who could throw 96. As stickfighting uses motions similar to throwing a ball, I would keep an eye on him as he worked out. Amongst the things that he would do would be to thrust his hand into a full sized plastic garbage (the size you put out to the curb for the garbage truck to empty every week) can full of ming beans all the way to the bottom and then move the hand around in various ways while down there. I could not get to even half the distance down that he did.
Play of the Game!
Reply #20 on:
May 18, 2014, 07:10:48 PM »
Incredible outfield throw
Reply #21 on:
June 12, 2014, 12:21:51 PM »
I remember throwing a softball from the outfield to home as a kid, usually if not always on one bounce and always a little afraid of putting everything into the throw as it felt like my rotator cuff would give out. This is amazing. He turns an error into a fantastic play. This is the best of baseball:
The Mystery of the Vanishing Screwball
Reply #22 on:
July 13, 2014, 11:23:01 AM »
Reply #23 on:
July 16, 2014, 04:22:20 AM »
At the gym yesterday shared the squat rack with Brandon Hayes (not 100% sure of the last name) of the Chicago White Sox. Said he had played catcher, but had just been moved to third base.
Collection kept in family for 5 generations is very rare
Reply #24 on:
August 14, 2014, 09:45:51 AM »
R.I.P. Ernie Banks, 83.
Reply #25 on:
January 25, 2015, 11:40:48 PM »
Ernie Banks, the Eternally Hopeful Mr. Cub, Dies at 83
Ernie Banks, the greatest power-hitting shortstop of the 20th century and an unconquerable optimist whose sunny disposition never dimmed in 19 seasons with the perennially stumbling Chicago Cubs, died Friday. He was 83.
His death was announced on Major League Baseball’s website, which did not give a cause.
“It’s a beautiful day, let’s play two” became the mantra of the man known as Mr. Cub, a fixture in what he called the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. The most popular Cub ever in a franchise dating to the 1870s, Banks became as much an institution in Chicago as the first Mayor Daley, Studs Terkel, Michael Jordan and George Halas.
READ MORE »
R.I.P. Yogi Berra
Reply #26 on:
September 23, 2015, 11:31:29 AM »
Yogi Berra, Yankees Hall of Fame Catcher With a One-of-a-Kind Wit, Dies at 90
By BRUCE WEBERSEPT. 23, 2015
Yogi Berra, Baseball Catcher and Character, Dies at 90
Yogi Berra, one of baseball’s greatest catchers and characters, who as a player was a mainstay of 10 Yankee championship teams and as a manager led both the Yankees and Mets to the World Series — but who may be more widely known as an ungainly but lovable cultural figure, inspiring a cartoon character and issuing a seemingly limitless supply of unwittingly witty epigrams known as Yogi-isms — died on Tuesday. He was 90.
His death was reported by the Yankees and by the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in Little Falls, N.J. Before moving to an assisted living facility in nearby West Caldwell, in 2012, Berra had lived for many years in neighboring Montclair.
In 1949, early in Berra’s Yankee career, his manager assessed him this way in an interview in The Sporting News: “Mr. Berra,” Casey Stengel said, “is a very strange fellow of very remarkable abilities.”
And so he was, and so he proved to be. Universally known simply as Yogi, probably the second most recognizable nickname in sports — even Yogi was not the Babe — Berra was not exactly an unlikely hero, but he was often portrayed as one: an All-Star for 15 consecutive seasons whose skills were routinely underestimated; a well-built, appealingly open-faced man whose physical appearance was often belittled; and a prolific winner — not to mention a successful leader — whose intellect was a target of humor if not outright derision.
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That he triumphed on the diamond again and again in spite of his perceived shortcomings was certainly a source of his popularity. So was the delight with which his famous, if not always documentable, pronouncements, somehow both nonsensical and sagacious, were received.
“You can observe a lot just by watching,” he is reputed to have declared once, describing his strategy as a manager.
“If you can’t imitate him,” he advised a young player who was mimicking the batting stance of the great slugger Frank Robinson, “don’t copy him.”
“When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” he said, giving directions to his house. Either path, it turned out, got you there.
“Nobody goes there anymore,” he said of a popular restaurant. “It’s too crowded.”
Whether Berra actually uttered the many things attributed to him, or was the first to say them, or phrased them precisely the way they were reported, has long been a matter of speculation. Berra himself published a book in 1998 called “The Yogi Book: I Really Didn’t Say Everything I Said!” But the Yogi-isms testified to a character — goofy and philosophical, flighty and down to earth — that came to define the man.
Berra’s Yogi-ness was exploited in advertisements for myriad products, among them Puss ’n Boots cat food and Miller Lite beer, but perhaps most famously, Yoo-Hoo chocolate drink. Asked if Yoo-Hoo was hyphenated, he is said to have replied, “No, ma’am, it isn’t even carbonated.”
If not exactly a Yogi-ism, it was the kind of response that might have come from Berra’s ursine namesake, the affable animated character Yogi Bear, who made his debut in 1958.
The character Yogi Berra may even have overshadowed the Hall of Fame ballplayer Yogi Berra, obscuring what a remarkable athlete he was. A notorious “bad ball” hitter — he swung at a lot of pitches that were not strikes but mashed them anyway — he was fearsome in the clutch and the most durable and consistently productive Yankee during the period of the team’s most relentless success.
In addition, as a catcher he played the most physically grueling and concentration-demanding position on the field. (For a respite from the chores and challenges of crouching behind the plate, Berra, who played before the designated hitter rule took effect in the American League in 1973, occasionally played the outfield.)
Stengel, the Hall of Fame manager whose shrewdness and talent were also often underestimated, recognized Berra’s gifts. He referred to Berra, even as a young player, as his assistant manager and compared him favorably to star catchers of previous eras like Mickey Cochrane, Gabby Hartnett and Bill Dickey. “You could look it up” was Stengel’s catchphrase, and indeed the record book declares that Berra was among the greatest catchers in the history of the game, some say the greatest of all.
Berra’s career batting average of .285 was not as high as that of his Yankee predecessor Dickey (.313), but Berra hit more home runs (358) and drove in more runs (1,430). Widely praised by pitchers for his astute pitch-calling, Berra led the American League in assists five times, and from 1957 through 1959 went 148 consecutive games behind the plate without making an error, a major league record at the time — though he was not a defensive wizard from the start.
Dickey, Berra explained, “learned me all his experience.”
On defense, he certainly surpassed Mike Piazza, the best-hitting catcher of recent vintage — and maybe ever. Johnny Bench, whose Cincinnati Reds teams of the 1970s were known as the Big Red Machine, and Berra were comparable in offensive production, except that Bench struck out three times as often. Berra whiffed a mere 414 times in more than 8,300 plate appearances over 19 seasons — an astonishingly small ratio for a power hitter.
Others — Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter and Ivan Rodriguez among them — also deserve consideration in a discussion of great catchers, but none was clearly superior to Berra on offense or defense. Only Roy Campanella, a contemporary rival who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and faced Berra in the World Series six times before his career was ended by an auto accident, equaled Berra’s total of three Most Valuable Player awards. And though Berra did not win the award in 1950 — his teammate Phil Rizzuto did — he gave one of the greatest season-long performances by a catcher that year, hitting .322, smacking 28 homers and driving in 124 runs.
Berra’s career was punctuated by storied episodes. In Game 3 of the 1947 World Series against the Dodgers, he hit the first pinch-hit home run in Series history, and in Game 4 he was behind the plate for what was almost the first no-hitter and was instead a stunning loss. With two out in the ninth inning and two men on base with walks, the Yankees’ starter, Bill Bevens, gave up a double to Cookie Lavagetto that cleared the bases and won the game.
In September 1951, once again on the brink of a no-hitter, this one by Allie Reynolds against the Red Sox, Berra made one of baseball’s legendary errors. With two out in the ninth inning, Ted Williams hit a towering foul ball between home plate and the Yankee dugout; it looked like the end of the game, sealing Reynolds’s second no-hitter of the season and making him the first American League pitcher to accomplish that feat. But as the ball plummeted, it was caught in a gust of wind; Berra lunged backward, and it deflected off his glove as he went sprawling.
Amazingly, on the next pitch, Williams hit an almost identical pop-up, and this time Berra caught it.
In the first game of the 1955 World Series against Brooklyn, the Yankees were ahead, 6-4, in the top of the eighth when the Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson stole home. The plate umpire Bill Summers called him safe, and Berra went berserk, gesticulating in Summers’s face and creating one of the enduring images of an on-the-field tantrum. The Yankees won the game though not the Series — it was the only time Brooklyn got the better of Berra’s Yanks — but Berra never forgot the moment. More than 50 years later, he signed a photograph of the play for President Obama, writing, “Dear Mr. President, He was out!”
During the 1956 Series, again against Brooklyn, Berra was at the center of another indelible image, this one of sheer joy, when he leapt into the arms of Don Larsen, who had just struck out Dale Mitchell to end Game 5 and complete the only perfect game (and only no-hitter) in World Series history.
When reporters gathered at Berra’s locker after the game, he greeted them mischievously. “So,” he said, “what’s new?”
Beyond the historic moments and individual accomplishments, what most distinguished Berra’s career was how often he won. From 1946 to 1985, as a player, coach and manager, Berra appeared in a remarkable 21 World Series. Playing on powerful Yankee teams with teammates like Rizzuto and Joe DiMaggio early on and then Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle, Berra starred on World Series winners in 1947, ’49, ’50, ’51, ’52, ’53, ’56 and ’58. He was a backup player on the championship teams of 1961 and ’62. (He also played on World Series losers in 1955, ’57, ’60 and ’63.) All told, his Yankee teams won the American League pennant 14 out of 17 years. He still holds Series records for games played, plate appearances, hits and doubles.
No other player has been a champion so often.
Lawrence Peter Berra was born on May 12, 1925, in the Italian enclave of St. Louis known as the Hill, which also fostered the baseball career of his boyhood friend Joe Garagiola. Berra was the fourth of five children. His father, Pietro, a construction worker and a bricklayer, and his mother, Paulina, were immigrants from Malvaglio, a northern Italian village near Milan. (As an adult, on a visit to his ancestral home, Berra took in a performance of “Tosca” at La Scala. “It was pretty good,” he said. “Even the music was nice.”)
As a boy, Berra was known as Larry, or Lawdie, as his mother pronounced it. As recounted in “Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee,” a 2009 biography by Allen Barra, one day in his early teens, young Larry and some friends had gone to the movies and were watching a travelogue about India when a Hindu yogi appeared on the screen sitting cross-legged. His posture struck one of the friends as precisely the way Berra sat on the ground as he waited his turn at bat. From that day on, he was Yogi Berra.
An ardent athlete but an indifferent student, Berra dropped out of school after the eighth grade. He played American Legion ball and worked odd jobs. As teenagers, both he and Garagiola tried out with the St. Louis Cardinals and were offered contracts by the Cardinals’ general manager, Branch Rickey. But Garagiola’s came with a $500 signing bonus and Berra’s just $250, so Berra declined to sign. (This was a harbinger of deals to come. Berra, whose salary as a player reached $65,000 in 1961, substantial for that era, would prove to be a canny contract negotiator, almost always extracting concessions from the Yankees’ penurious general manager George Weiss.)
In the meantime, the St. Louis Browns — they later moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles — also wanted to sign Berra but were not willing to pay any bonus at all. Then, the day after the 1942 World Series, in which the Cardinals beat the Yankees, a Yankee coach showed up at Berra’s parents’ house and offered him a minor-league contract — along with the elusive $500.
Berra’s professional baseball life began in Virginia in 1943 with the Norfolk Tars of the Class B Piedmont League. In 111 games he hit .253 and led the league’s catchers in errors, but he reportedly once had 12 hits and drove in 23 runs over two consecutive games. It was a promising start, but World War II put his career on hold. Berra joined the Navy. He took part in the invasion of Normandy and, two months later, in Operation Dragoon, an Allied assault on Marseilles in which he was bloodied by a bullet and earned a Purple Heart.
In 1946, after his discharge, he was assigned to the Newark Bears, then the Yankees’ top farm team. He played outfield and catcher and hit .314 with 15 home runs and 59 runs batted in 77 games, though his fielding still lacked polish; in one instance he hit an umpire with a throw from behind the plate meant for second base. Nonetheless, the Yankees summoned him in September. In his first big league game he had two hits, including a home run.
As a Yankee, Berra became a fan favorite, partly because of his superior play — he batted .305 and drove in 98 runs in 1948, his second full season — and partly because of his humility and guilelessness. In 1947, honored at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, a nervous Berra told the hometown crowd, “I want to thank everyone for making this night necessary.”
Berra was a hit with sportswriters, too, though they often portrayed him as a baseball idiot savant, an apelike, barely literate devotee of comic books and movies who spoke fractured English. So was born the Yogi caricature, of the triumphant rube.
“Even today,” Life magazine wrote in July 1949, “he has only pity for people who clutter their brains with such unnecessary and frivolous matters as literature and the sciences, not to mention grammar and orthography.”
Collier’s magazine declared, “With a body that only an anthropologist could love, the 185-pound Berra could pass easily as a member of the Neanderthal A.C.”
Berra tended to take the gibes in stride. If he was ugly, he was said to have remarked, it did not matter at the plate. “I never saw nobody hit one with his face,” he was quoted as saying. But when writers chided him about his girlfriend, Carmen Short, saying he was too unattractive to marry her, he responded, according to Colliers, “I’m human, ain’t I?”
Berra outlasted the ridicule. He married Ms. Short in 1949, and the marriage endured until her death in 2014. He is survived by their three sons — Tim, who played professional football for the Baltimore Colts; Dale, a former infielder for the Yankees, Pirates and Astros; and Lawrence Jr.
Certainly, assessments of Berra changed over the years.
“He has continued to allow people to regard him as an amiable clown because it brings him quick acceptance, despite ample proof, onfield and off, that he is intelligent, shrewd and opportunistic,” Robert Lipsyte wrote in The New York Times in October 1963.
At the time, Berra had just concluded his career as a Yankee player and the team had named him manager, a role in which he would continue to find success, though not with the same regularity he enjoyed as a player and not without drama and disappointment. Indeed things began badly. The Yankees, an aging team in 1964, played listless ball through much of the summer, and in mid-August they lost four straight games in Chicago to the first-place White Sox, leading to one of the kookier episodes of Berra’s career.
On the team bus to O’Hare Airport, the reserve infielder Phil Linz began playing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on the harmonica. Berra, in a foul mood over the losing streak, told him to knock it off, but Linz did not. (In another version of the story, Linz asked Mickey Mantle what Berra had said, and Mantle responded, “He said, ‘Play it louder.’ ”) Suddenly the harmonica went flying, having been either knocked out of Linz’s hands by Berra or thrown at Berra by Linz. (Players on the bus had different recollections.)
News reports of the incident made it sound as if Berra had lost control of the team, and though the Yankees caught and passed the White Sox in September, winning the pennant, Ralph Houk, the general manager, fired Berra after the team lost a seven-game World Series to St. Louis, in a bizarre move replacing him with the Cardinals’ manager, Johnny Keane.
Keane’s Yankees finished sixth in 1965.
Berra, meanwhile, moved across town, taking a job as a coach for the famously awful Mets under Stengel, who was finishing his career in Flushing. The team continued its mythic floundering until 1969, when the so-called Miracle Mets, with Gil Hodges as manager — and Berra coaching first base — won the World Series.
After Hodges died before the start of the 1972 season, Berra replaced him. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in that summer, but the Mets team he inherited faltered, finishing third, and for most of the 1973 season they were worse. In mid-August, the team was well under .500 and in sixth place, when Berra uttered perhaps the most famous Yogi-ism of all.
“It ain’t over till it’s over,” he said (or words to that effect), and, lo and behold, the Mets got hot, squeaking by the Cardinals to win the National League’s Eastern Division title.
They then beat the Reds in the League Championship Series before losing to the Oakland Athletics in the World Series. Berra was rewarded for the resurgence with a three-year contract, but the Mets were dreadful in 1974, finishing fifth, and the next year, on Aug. 6, with the team in third place and having lost five straight games, Berra was fired.
Once again he switched leagues and city boroughs, returning to the Bronx as a Yankee coach, and in 1984 the owner, George M. Steinbrenner, named him to replace the volatile Billy Martin as manager. The team finished third that year, but during spring training in 1985, Steinbrenner promised him that he would finish the season as Yankee manager no matter what. However, after just 16 games (the Yankees were 6-10) the impatient and imperious Steinbrenner fired Berra anyway, bringing back Martin — and worse than breaking his word, perhaps, sending an underling to deliver the bad news.
The firing, which had an added sting because Berra’s son Dale had recently joined the Yankees, provoked one of baseball’s legendary feuds, and for 14 years Berra refused to set foot in Yankee Stadium, a period during which he coached four seasons for the Houston Astros.
In the meantime private donors helped establish the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center on the New Jersey campus of Montclair State University, which awarded Berra an honorary doctorate of humanities in 1996 and where a minor league ballpark, Yogi Berra Stadium, opened in 1998. A tribute to Berra with exhibits on his career, the museum runs programs for children dealing with baseball history. In January 1999, Steinbrenner, who died in 2010, went there to make amends.
“I know I made a mistake by not letting you go personally,” he told Berra. “It’s the worst mistake I ever made in baseball.”
Berra chose not to quibble with the semi-apology. To welcome him back into the Yankee fold, the team held a Yogi Berra Day on July 18, 1999. Also invited was Don Larsen, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch, which Berra caught.
Incredibly, in the game that day, David Cone of the Yankees pitched a perfect game.
It was, as Berra may or may not have said in another context, “déjà vu all over again,” a fittingly climactic episode for a wondrous baseball life.
Correction: September 23, 2015
An earlier version of this obituary referred incorrectly to the Yankees’ finish in 1965, the year Johnny Keane replaced Berra as manager. The team finished sixth (in what was then a 10-team league), not last.
Reply #27 on:
September 23, 2015, 07:17:34 PM »
My father thought Yogi was the best clutch hitter he had ever seen.
In my day I thought Thurman Munson was.
Reply #28 on:
September 23, 2015, 08:58:13 PM »
When I was a boy, baseball was THE national sport. During the World Series we would sneak AM transistor radios in our pocket with a line to an ear plug hidden under our shirts during class. For the years of 1960-1964 when the Yankees were in the WS every year my dad would get him and me tickets to one of the home games. Also, the year of the home runs, he got Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle to sign a ball for me.
This was all in the era of Yogi Berra. Everyone liked and respected him.
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