Babe Ruth’s last surviving daughter dies at 102

Julia Ruth Stevens, the adopted daughter of Babe Ruth, died on Saturday in an assisted living facility in Henderson, Nev.

Babe Ruth married Claire Hodgson on the opening day of the 1929 baseball season. He adopted Julia, and Claire adopted Dorothy (Babe Ruth’s biological daughter) in 1930, and they all lived together, with Claire’s extended family, in an apartment on West 88th Street.

http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/26218325/babe-ruth-last-surviving-daughter-dies-102

Thurman Munson

On August 2, 1979, I remember the news that afternoon at 6 saying that a plane crash happened in Canton Ohio and Thurman Munson was dead. It was shocking because he was only 32 years old and catcher for the Yankees.

Image result for thurman munson

While I was watching the 77 and 78 World Series there was one player I dreaded seeing at-bat with men on…, not Reggie Jackson…it was Thurman Munson. He is the only then Yankee player that I liked and respected.

Thurman is more remembered today for how his life ended than being a very good baseball player. He didn’t look like a prototypical Yankee. He was short and squatty with a sometimes difficult personality. He never did hit with a lot of power, the most home runs he ever hit in a season was 20. He ended up with a career batting average of .292 and an OBP of .346…very good for a catcher in that time period or now.

He was born in Canton Ohio in 1947 and grew up in a dysfunctional family. He kept progressing at baseball and attended Kent State. He was drafted with the 4th pick of the draft by the Yankees in 1968. He played with the Yankees from 1969 – 1979. Munson won Rookie of the Year in 1970.  He was a 7-time All-Star and an MVP in 1976. Thurman hurt his shoulder in the mid-seventies and had problems throwing the ball to second but he played through it all.

He had a rivalry with Carlton Fisk with the Red Sox and was fun to watch play. He was grumpy with reporters but good with kids and teammates. Former GM Gabe Paul said, “Thurman Munson is a nice guy who doesn’t want anyone to know it.”

He missed his family and wanted to be at home. He learned to fly and bought a prop plane so he could go home every night after a game. He kept progressing from plane to plane until he bought a Cessna $1.4 million twin-engine jet. He was practicing takeoffs and landings that day and came in and clipped some trees. He had three passengers, David Hall, and Jerry Anderson.

The plane caught fire as soon as it landed. Munson was conscious but had suffered serious spinal damage and couldn’t move. Anderson and Hall tried to pull Thurman to safety but the main door was jammed. Munson’s legs were trapped inside the crushed fuselage and wouldn’t budge. By the time the two men burst through the emergency exit, the smoke had consumed the entire plane. Hall and Anderson jumped out of the jet barely surviving. Thurman was dead at 32.

At the time I thought Thurman would be in the Hall of Fame. His numbers at the time of his death were comparable to Carlton Fisk. Munson appeared on the ballot in 1981, two years after a plane crash ended his life, and never got more than 15.5% of the vote.

Here is a list of his accomplishments from Wiki…but remember he was passed in many categories after he died.

  • 1st all time – Singles in World Series, 9
  • 10th all time – Batting average by catcher, .292
  • 11th all time – Postseason batting average, .357
  • 11th all time – Caught stealing percentage
  • 16th all time – On base percentage by catcher
  • 20th all time – OPS by catcher
  • 24th all time – Slugging by catcher
  • 26th all time – Hits by catcher
  • 26th all time – Runs by catcher
  • AL Rookie of the Year (1970)
  • AL MVP (1976)
  • 3× Gold Glove Award
  • 3 AL Pennants
  • 2 World Series titles
  • 7× All Star

 

 

Baseball in the 1970s

Growing up in Tennessee I was and still am a huge baseball fan. My father grew up liking the underdog Dodgers with Jackie Robinson when they played in Brooklyn while his brothers were Yankee fans. In 1977 I started to watch baseball and through my father connected with the Dodgers. He was more of a college football fan (Tennesse loves football) but I never got his passion for that. I watched some baseball before 77 but I was totally lost in it from then on.

Watching the 70s baseball was a special event. The hair, mustaches, and every color of uniform were interesting. For some reason, the Oakland A’s uniforms were my favorite.

Image result for oakland a's 1970s

I’ve always liked the individualism of baseball. No rigid measurements in baseball parks like football or other sports. Every park is a unique home. There were cookie cutter (multi-purpose) parks with astroturf like Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. The 8th wonder of the world Astrodome in Houston. A very old Tiger Stadium in Detroit. The pavilion and palm tree Dodger Stadium. The ivy-walled Wrigley field in Chicago and the oh so green Fenway Park.

Baseball wasn’t as accessible then as it is now. You had to wait for the Saturday game of the week and Monday night baseball. That made it more special. There were certain teams they showed more than others. I was lucky, the Dodgers were one of the teams. I remember a lot of Pirates, Reds, Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodger games because they all were very good.

I remember the players of that time so well. Thurman Munson (the only then Yankee I liked), Al Hrabosky (The Mad Hungarian), Dave Parker (He looked like the biggest man ever), Luis Tiant, Oscar Gamble (the cool hair), Bill Lee, Willie Stargell, Greg Luzinski, Gary Maddox, Mike Schmidt, George Foster (who I met a few years ago), Joe Morgan (who I liked better as a player than announcer), Catfish Hunter.

I could probably still mimic most of the players batting stances now.

Some of the managers were just as popular as the players for different reasons. Earl Weaver (one of the pioneers of sabermetrics), Billy Martin (could make about any team win…for a short time), and Sparky Anderson.

Some events I remember are Disco Demolition Night in Chicago (exploding disco records) and 10 cent beer night (that turned into a riot in Cleveland…who would have guessed that?).

My favorite player… Hands down Ron Cey. Steve Garvey was the marquee name of the Dodgers but Ron Cey would come through in the clutch and had a better batting eye than Garvey. I played 3rd base in little league and on up because of Cey. His nickname was “The Penguin” because he ran like one. I tried running like that until the coach asked me what was wrong with me…he thought I was hurt.

When the Dodgers traded Cey to Chicago it broke my heart. He went on to do good with the Cubs but to this day I don’t understand that trade.

I still watch baseball and don’t miss a box score and it is still a game full of characters…maybe not as colorful now.

 

 

 

 

 

Don Newcomb

Don Newcomb passed away yesterday February 19, 2019. I don’t remember him playing because I’m too young. Being a Dodger fan all of my life I have read about his playing days and him talking to and mentoring the younger players with today’s Dodgers.

He was born on June 14, 1926, and played in the Negro Leagues finally making it to the Major Leagues in 1949 with the Brooklyn Dodgers winning Rookie of the Year. He won a World Series (the only one Brooklyn won) in 1955. He won the Cy Young Award in 1956. He battled alcoholism in the 50s and 60s. He mentored everyone from  Maury Wills, Steve Garvey, Orel Hershiser, Mike Piazza, to current players Kenley Jansen, Clayton Kershaw and manager Dave Roberts.

At 92 he would still come to the ballpark and talk to the Dodgers and opposing players.

Here is a link. http://m.thecourierexpress.com/sports/national/bc-bbn–obit-newcombe-nd-ld-writethru/article_cad2236f-faad-5d8f-ad10-bc430854b7e9.html

The Dodgers released this today. 

 

So you need to choose between baseball and football

https://www.sbnation.com/2019/1/15/18183785/kyler-murray-nfl-draft-choice-baseball-football

I found this article by Grant Brisbee about Kyler Murray who is going to choose between baseball and football. It’s a great article that relates to any athlete choosing between the two sports. He writes in the article if you want fame quickly choose football… if you want a long career and more money in the long run…pick baseball…but it’s not that easy on either.

He touches on quality of life also a little in this…For me, this is the key thing to think about. In years after retirement being able to…think and function would be a nice benefit.

Jeff Samardzija is a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants.

Right now, Jeff Samardzija is somewhere either smoking a cigarette or rehabbing his shoulder, unless he’s doing both at the same time because he’s an absolute legend. But his brain is still good. In 10 years, his brain will probably still be good, and he’ll have made more money over his career than Joe Thomas, who was one of the best offensive linemen in NFL history.

It’s a good article.

 

Dodgers vs. Red Sox

It’s been 102 years since these organizations met in the World Series. Back then it was the Red Sox…with Babe Ruth against the Robins. In my lifetime they came close to meeting in 1978.

I’ve waited a long time for this, 40 years to witness the Dodgers play the Red Sox in the World Series. As a kid, I always loved to see Fenway Park on television with its vision of green and know that Babe Ruth once played there along with other greats. The team I love, The Dodgers, were winning their division in 1978 and I thought instead of playing the Yankees I could see the Dodgers play in Fenway. This was before Interleague entered the picture.

In 1978 The Red Sox had a commanding lead in the American League East division. They led the Yankees by 14  games in July I thought for sure the Sox had it. The teams ended up tied on the last day and it came down to a playoff game between the Sox and Yankees. The Yankees ended up winning the game and the American League pennant with the help of the famous Bucky Dent homer.

Now I’ll finally get to see it 40 years later in the World Series. Win or lose I’m looking forward to this World Series. Instead of Cey, Garvey, Lopes vs Lynn, Rice, and Yaz it will be Bellinger, Puig, Turner, and Kershaw against Betts, Bradley Jr., Martinez, and Sale.

Should be a good series.

 

Five Baseball Songs

Since the playoffs are in full swing…thought I would list my 5 favorite baseball songs in no certain order.

Take Me Out To The Ball Game – The classic song of the game written in 1908 and still going strong.

Talking Baseball – Terry Cashman released this in 1981 but it didn’t do much in the charts when it was released but has caught on to be a classic.

Centerfield –  John Fogerty on his “comeback” album of the same name. This is played at every ballpark.

Glory Days – Bruce Springsteen – Based off a true encounter with an ex-classmate that Bruce played little league baseball with when they were young.

Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball – Count Basie