Tag Archives: WILLIE MAYS

“This Day in History ~ 50 Years Ago Today”

Pitching Duel of the Century

Pitching Duel of the Century

50 YEARS AGO TODAY: 42-year-old Warren Spahn of the Milwaukee Braves and 25-year-old Juan Marichal of the San Francisco Giants hooked up in a 16-inning duel ended only when Willie Mays homered leading off the last inning. Both pitchers went all the way. Jim Kaplan wrote a great book on the event: “The Greatest Game Ever Pitched.”  Courtesy of Dan Schlossberg, Facebook”

Nothing like promoting one of my favorite books to get me back in the blogosphere.  I’ve been adrift for nearly a month now and missed it terribly, but had to take a minute to comment on two of my favorite baseball heroes and one of the many special moments in baseball history. 

I was one year out of high school when I witnessed this game (via the sports section unfortunately and not in person) but I remember the stats well.   The book takes a few chapters to get into the game, dwelling on the individual pitchers, Marichal and Spahn, instead.  But Kaplan’s insight is purposeful and steady and I found myself grasping each page instead of skipping directly to the game which is what I intended to do when I cuddled up to spend the entire day recapturing the memories of the game.

My enthrallment with Juan Marichal began a few years ago when I watched an in-depth interview Bob Costas had with him.  He’s really a very humble man and the honesty he portrayed when talking about the awful incident when he lost his temper and went after an opposing player, with a bat no less, that put the fellow in the hospital was painful to listen to.  But I didn’t doubt his sincerity when he spoke about it saying it was the one regret he had during his baseball career.  And it didn’t surprise me that the two of them ended up being good friends in the end.

As usual, I won’t go into details about the book or the game since there’s huge amounts of readily available data written about both.  I just wanted to take some time to comment on the game and also to thank you for the kind notes I’ve received as I’ve been on a mini-vacation from blogging this past month. 

It’s nearly time for the All Star break when baseball starts to take shape for the rest of the season, and when, hopefully, the Giants (and others, of course) start getting their act together .  When you look at the Divisions, it’s amazing to see that the Dodgers are only 3 1/2 games behind in the NL West, but are in the cellar, with the Giants 3 games behind and only 1/2 game ahead of the Dodgers. 

So it’s going to be an interesting and fun rest of the year for all of us baseball fans.  Will there be a sequel to this greatest game?  Maybe.   I’m sure the thrill of victory and agony of defeat had its origins in baseball so why should we possibly expect anything less?

Advertisements

A Thanksgiving Poem to Baseball

"Here's to the little kid in all of us"

I’m  enjoying a visit with my family this week so I’m taking the Thanksgiving holiday a little early.  Here’s a poem that can easily be construed as one of  thanksgiving when looking back over the years and realizing how important baseball has been in my  life.

                                                   Dreams and Things        

  • If you had told me way back then
  • That baseball diamonds filled with men
  • Would somehow make my life a den
  • Of hopes and dreams and acumen
  • I doubt I would have listened.
  • That memories from way back then
  • of Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays,
  • Of Whitey Ford and double plays
  • Would somehow make my older days
  • Much better than my childhood Continue reading

Best Players in Past 58 Years ……. A Mathematical Study!

I came upon an interesting study a few months ago.  It was written by Don Davis, Mathematics Professor at Lehigh University, Bethleham, PA.   There’s a lot of criteria used in determining different aspects of this study, but for the most part the players names are all recognizable and only a few to make the list are surprises.   The following table lists the top five All Star Teams, using 4 pitchers per team.    It also lists the overall rating percentage by player.   Take a look:

Pos’n First team Second team Third team Fourth team Fifth team
P1 Roger Clemens, 266.2 Tom Seaver, 166.9 Bob Gibson, 129.2 Jim Palmer, 106.4 Johan Santana, 85.4
P2 Greg Maddux, 203.9 Warren Spahn, 160.5 Robin Roberts, 128.3 Gaylord Perry, 96.1 Tom Glavine, 84.8
P3 Randy Johnson, 202.4 Bob Feller, 143.7 Sandy Koufax, 126.0 Phil Niekro, 96.1 Curt Schilling, 80.7
P4 Pedro Martinez, 185.7 Steve Carlton, 140.7 Juan Marichal, 109.5 Fergie Jenkins, 91.7 Bob Lemon, 79.9
C Johnny Bench, 115.5 Yogi Berra, 97.2 Mike Piazza, 82.2 Ivan Rodriguez, 77.7 Gary Carter, 75.5
1B Albert Pujols, 145.4 Jeff Bagwell, 103.2 Eddie Murray, 95.2 Willie McCovey, 92.1 Harmon Killebrew, 86.4
2B Joe Morgan, 140.3 Rod Carew, 94.5 Ryne Sandberg, 92.4 Jackie Robinson, 82.4 Roberto Alomar, 81.1
3B Mike Schmidt, 173.2 George Brett, 119.2 Eddie Mathews, 111.7 Wade Boggs, 108.0 Brooks Robinson, 88.4
SS Alex Rodriguez, 145.4 Cal Ripken, 113.6 Robin Yount, 93.0 Ernie Banks, 90.7 Derek Jeter, 81.6
OF1 Barry Bonds, 270.7 Stan Musial, 205.2 Frank Robinson, 145.3 Ken Griffey, 114.2 Tony Gwynn, 100.3
OF2 Willie Mays, 226.8 Mickey Mantle, 198.3 Rickey Henderson, 141.5 Al Kaline, 110.1 Pete Rose, 99.7
OF3 Ted Williams, 213.4 Hank Aaron, 195.6 Carl Yazstremski, 127.5 Reggie Jackson, 108.9 Roberto Clemente, 99.3
DH Frank Thomas, 115.0 Edgar Martinez, 64.4 Paul Molitor, 62.4 David Ortiz, 43.4  

Are you kidding me?  Can you even begin to imagine a game with all of these guys on the same team?  What was particularly interesting to me is  that mathematically Roger Clemens is the highest rated pitcher and Barry Bonds is the highest rated batter.   These  ratings are through the 2009 season,  and personalities and private lives are not taken into account.   This is just  using good old fashioned baseball statistics.  

I found the study intriguing and spent a lot of time viewing the criteria used in coming up with the lists.  Rather than go into all the particulars here, you can view the study yourself @ Lehigh University   http://www.lehigh.edu/~dmd1/baseball.html  

 This information is being used with the permission of Professor Davis.

It was 1958 when I first met Willie Mays …..

It was 1958 and Pan Am introduced the first 707 trans Atlantic jet service,  President Eisenhower sent 5,000 Marines to Lebanon,  The United States launched its first satellite  and the New York Giants moved to San Francisco.    The latter is important because if they had stayed in New York, chances are good I never would have seen a Professional Baseball Game.  And I  never would have met Willie Mays.  At least not when I was 15, when it really counted!  

Dad and mom took me and my cousin, Denny, to watch  the San Francisco Giants play at Seal Stadium on August 31, 1958.  I can remember everything.  The stadium probably wasn’t very big but to me it was the biggest stadium ever

Seals Stadium

 built.  And the crowd was probably pretty small by today’s standards, maybe 10,ooo, but to me it was huge, with the  best, loudest and wildest bunch of fans ever gathered for a sports event.  I was overjoyed with the thought of it all!  I’d spent the entire summer scoring every broadcast game, play by play, glued to the radio and occasionally the tv.  If there was a game that day, I had my home-made scorecard ready complete with line-ups, pencils sharpened and ready to go, and carefully recorded every play.  When dad walked through the door at night I went over the game with him,  play by play, every detail recorded precisely as it happened.

But this day I didn’t have my home-made scorecard and pencils.  No, today, I was a spectator at a Giants and Dodger game and boy was I proud to be there!    The one thing I remember most about that game was when Willie Mays hit his home run.  There were a couple home runs hit that day, but the only one I remember was Willie’s.  When Willie hit his

Willie Mays

home run and he  threw the bat down,  and he began his trip  around the bases, it was an incredible sight to see.  He had the longest legs I had ever seen, and they stretched out, straight out, with every step, and I swear it only took him  12 steps to get around the bases.   I kept telling my dad, “did you see that,  did you see that?”  We (Denny and I) were jumping up and down .   I’ve seen pictures of Willie Mays running the bases since then and it doesn’t seem like anything spectacular, but back on August 31, 1958, it was truly a spectacular thing.    

After the game, when the players left the ballpark, I leaned over the railing and yelled at Willie  and he looked at me and I did catch his eye for a split second (a very split second), and that was when I first met Willie Mays, at least in my mind, for a split second,  even though I’m sure  he would never remember this.  To a 15 year old kid back in 1958 , it was the making of a memory of a lifetime.  And that’s the way I’ll always remember it.  Me and Willie Mays, together at Seals Stadium, in downtown San Francisco, on August 31, 1958.