Friday, June 29, 2012

They Call Him Lechero (it means...Milkman)

Ever since the Giants sent Jonathan Sanchez to the Kansas City Royals for this player the team has been christened with some unbelievable particles.  Let's review, remembering it is only June 29, 2012.

All beautiful stories have questionable beginnings as did the Giants (in Arizona) this season.  Stumbling, bumbling and fumbling the ball all over the diamond it was 'looking for the remote' time. (Because when you cannot bear what you are watching on TV you must change the channel.)

The Panda injured the hammate bone on his other hand (fortunately, after doing it last season, there are no more hammate bones to deal with) and once again, Senor Sandoval got off to a solid start out of the gate. 

Then records were broken.  Melky Cabrera, also known as, Lechero, then broke Willie Mays' record for hits in one month.  Later he became the fastest Giant to get to 100 hits, passing the "Say Hey Kid" one more time. 

Then on June 13, 2012, Matt "the Horse" Cain pitched the first perfect game in New York/San Francisco Gothams/Giants history. 

After the Dodgers visited Oakland for an inter-league series and got swept the belief was the Giants were primed to catch and pass their archrival, a.k.a. "Da Bums" the Los Angeles Dodgers. And after having quite the intense series themselves versus the Oakland Athletics they were ready to face the Dodgers.

Three shutouts in-a-row!  Are you kidding.  Zito-Vogelsong-Lincecum.  The first time ever in New York/San Francisco Gothams/Giants history this happened between the two teams that have been battling each other prior to the turn of the 20th century. And to make their rivalry as fantastic as it has been, they both left New York the same year to go west in 1958.  Think about it, these two teams were meant to butt heads.

They overtook the team in first to be tied for first.  The next team they would face, the Cincinnati Redlegs were leading the Central Division.  They would be pitching their ace, Johnny Cueto against Madison Bumgarner.  MadBum would only add to the lore as he threw a 1-hit complete game shutout over the Central Division leaders.  MadBum himself had as many hits as he allowed, a well placed roller through the middle of the field by Reds' catcher Ryan Hanigan in the top of the sixth inning.

 So now it's four shutouts in a row.  Who's turn is it tonight?  The aforementioned Matthew Thomas Cain.  Now don't you think he wants to join this exclusive party?  (For the record all Cain needs is a scoreless first inning to permanently etch this 2012 San Francisco Giants' team in the Giants' all-time record book.)

For those of us who saw Willie Mays, Willie Mc Covey, and Juan Marichal in the 1960s into the 1970s this is saying something.  There were other exceptional ballplayers like Orlando Cepeda, Bobby and Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent, J.T. Snow, Robb Nen (to name a few).  And with all of that talent those guys weren't able to pull off what the 2010 Giants and now the 2012 Giants have accomplished. 

Buster Posey was there in 2010.  He caught Matt Cain's perfecto. He's here in 2012.  Pablo Sandoval, Nate Schierholtz, Lincecum, Bumgarner, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt, the re-habbing Freddy Sanchez and Aubrey Huff are the remaining bunch from 2010.

Now we have Gregor Blanco, Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera, a.k.a.  Lechero  in the outfield.  Brandon Belt, Ryan Theriot, Brandon Crawford, Joaquin Arias, Hector Sanchez, Ryan Vogelsong, Barry Zito, Clay Hensley, George Kontos as new additions.  (Note:  Zito was left off the postseason roster. Which makes his contributions this season all the more noteworthy.)

And because of the 2010 and these 2012 Giants,  Amigos de Lechero, the Giants fans regale the team with costumes (Milkmen and Milk Maids, a guy in a Horsehead guzzling beer, Panda hats, Giraffe hats, Timmy hair attached to the hat, Brian Wilson's beard) and a positive energy that makes those particles come into play between the foul lines.

All those years of coming in second with Mays, McCovey and Marichal.  Those astroturf years at Candlestick when the team stank out loud. I feel for those who weren't able to make it into 2010.  I empathize and sympathize for those Giant fans who weren't able to witness what those of us who made it are celebrating.  

Break out the Visine 'cause my eyes are fogging up almost as bad as the Candlestick nights.  Nowadays there's an occasional night game at AT&T when the fog rolls in but even that has gotten better.  It's unbelievable, to me, how things have turned around for the better.  And I have to thank Bruce Bochy and his boys for making it happen.

Note:  I would like to thank Duane Kuiper who said on the "Wrap" of June 28, 2012 that someone told him Melky Cabrera's name was "Lechero."  (The "Wrap" closes each and every broadcast when Dave Flemming, Jon Miller, Mike Krukow and Duane all have their say about the game that was just played.)

Kevin J. Marquez

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Look at the Catcher Position for the San Francisco Giants

From 1960 to the current roster there have been several catchers- underachievers- calling pitches for the men, in orange and black, toeing the slab.  The pitcher and catcher considered as a single unit is known as a battery.  A term coined by baseball historian, Henry Chadwick, drawing from the military sense of the term "artillery battery."  But it also suggests a play on words, as its activities center in on the batter.

 These two players are of great importance to the outcome of each and every game.  They must form a bond, a trust in their abilities because the person throwing the ball has to trust that the person catching the ball can call the kind of game that brings out his batterymate's best. 

During the progression from inning to end of game or from starter to reliever or vice versa both the pitcher and catcher have to be on the same page.  Their position player teammates also need to know what is being thrown and why, depending on the situation, so they can be in the proper position to catch the ball.  It's a process that gives the players who are best equipped to perform this function the best chance of winning.  Sometimes reaching a different level of play (known as the postseason) is the end result of good chemistry between a battery and their teammates.

(from Andrew Peters' "I'm a Pitcher")
             I remember hating my catcher
             I remember having whole-hearted faith in my catcher
             I remember the beauty of a catcher's framing
             I remember the calm of knowing my teammates were fielding for me.
 From 1960 to 2012, those who played catcher for the San Francisco Giants were:
1960:  Bob Schmidt
1961:  Hobie Landrith, Tom Haller
1962:  Ed Bailey, Tom Haller
1963:  Ed Bailey, Tom Haller
1964:  Tom Haller, Del Crandall
1965:  Tom Haller, Jack Hiatt
1966:  Tom Haller, Ozzie Virgil, Bob Barton
1967:  Tom Haller, Dick Dietz, Bob Barton
1968:  Dick Dietz, Bob Barton
1969:  Dick Dietz
1970:  Dick Dietz, Russ Gibson
1971:   Dick Dietz, Russ Gibson
1972:   Dave Rader, Fran Healy, Russ Gibson
1973:   Dave Rader, Mike Sadek
1974:   Dave Rader, Ken Rudolph
1975:   Dave Rader, Marc Hill
1976:   Dave Rader, Mike Sadek, Gary Alexander
1977:   Marc Hill, Gary Alexander, Ken Rudolph
1978:   Marc Hill, Mike Sadek
1979:   Dennis Littlejohn, Marc Hill, Mike Sadek
1980:  Milt May, Mike Sadek
1981:  Milt May, Mike Sadek
1982:  Milt May, Bob Brenly
1983:  Bob Brenly, Milt May, Steve Nicosia, Johnny Rabb
1984:  Bob Brenly, Steve Nicosia, Randy Gomez
1985:  Bob Brenly, Alex Trevino, Matt Nokes
1986:  Bob Brenly, Bob Melvin
1987:  Bob Brenly, Bob Melvin, Kirt Manwaring
1988:  Bob Melvin, Kirt Manwaring
1989:  Terry Kennedy, Kirt Manwaring
1990:  Terry Kennedy, Gary Carter, Steve Decker
1991:  Steve Decker, Kirt Manwaring, Terry Kennedy
1992:  Kirt Manwaring, Craig Colbert, Steve Decker
1993:  Kirt Manwaring, Jeff Reed
1994:  Kirt Manwaring, Jeff Reed
1995:  Kirt Manwaring, Jeff Reed, Tom Lampkin
1996:  Tom Lampkin, Rick Wilkins, Kirt Manwaring, Steve Decker
1997:   Rick Wilkins, Brian Johnson, Damon Berryhill
1998:   Brian Johnson, Brent Mayne, Doug Mirabelli
1999:   Brent Mayne, Scott Servais, Doug Mirabelli
2000:  Bobby Estalella, Doug Mirabelli, Scott Servais
2001:  Benito Santiago, Edwards Guzman, Bobby Estalella
2002:  Benito Santiago, Yorvit Torrealba
2003:  Benito Santiago, Yorvit Torrealba
2004:  A.J. Pierzynski, Yorvit Torrealba
2005:  Mike Matheny, Yorvit Torrealba, Yamid Haad
2006:  Eliezer Alfonzo, Mike Matheny, Todd Greene
2007:  Bengie Molina, Guillermo Rodriguez, Eliezer Alfonzo
2008:  Bengie Molina, Steve Holm
2009:  Bengie Molina, Eli Whiteside, Buster Posey
2010:  Bengie Molina, Buster Posey, Eli Whiteside
2011:  Buster Posey, Eli Whiteside, Chris Stewart
2012:  Buster Posey, Hector Sanchez

In the 2010 season, Buster Posey took the team to a different level and it ended up being the San Francisco Giants' first winning season ever!

In the entire history of the New York/San Francisco Gothams/Giants no pitcher has ever pitched a perfect game.  From Christy Mathewson to Carl Hubbell to Juan Marichal and all of the quality pitchers in-between and after, up until 2012, (June 13th to be exact) it was Matt Cain and his catcher Buster Posey, who were the battery for the first ever perfect game in Giants' history.

Some may say Buster is overrated but he has brought the team a World Series championship and the franchise's only perfect game.  Now that's saying something.

(thanks to for the information, and Wikipedia)

Kevin J. Marquez

Friday, June 15, 2012

No Jinx Just the Human Element

According to "Game of Inches" The Stories Behind the Innovations that Shaped Baseball (The Game on the Field) by Peter Morris, the first perfect game was pitched by left-hander J. Lee Richmond of Worcester against Cleveland on June 11, 1880.  An apparent clean single was erased when right fielder Lon Knight threw the batter out at first.

The first perfect game known to have been pitched- at any level- was tossed by James "Pud" Galvin of the Reds of St. Louis against the Cass Club of Detroit on August 17, 1876, in a tournament in Ionia, Michigan.

More extraordinary was that it was Galvin's second no-hitter of the day.  That morning he had shutout the Mutuals of Jackson, allowing only 3 runners to reach base on errors.  Thus only 3 fielding misplays prevented Galvin from accomplishing twice in one day a feat that had never happened before. (Note: The Cass and Mutuals were said to be stocked with former and future major leaguers.)

A little glance at the past before reflecting on Matt Cain's masterpiece on June 13, 2012.

Today is the 49th anniversary of Juan Marichal's no-hitter versus the Houston Colt 45s, the name before they became the Astros.

For Matt Cain's perfecto I listened to Dave Flemming and Jon Miller.  When the game went past five (5) innings mentions of a masterpiece were beginning to become more and more frequent.  There was absolutely no worry about such a thing as "jinxing" the pitcher.

Putting a twist on that notion, (I wonder) if all the worry about speaking too soon (a sort of prognostication) or luck was involved, thinking what you do has something to do with the fortuity supposedly taking place is preposterous.  But many superstitious people linger around and on the ballfields all across the country, don't they?

(Note:  The Giants' broadcasters weren't describing what might happen. They were only painting the verbal picture of what was happening and presenting the possibility of something almost serendipitous taking place which would be equivalent to baseball perfection.)

In reflecting on the June 13, 2012 masterpiece by Matt Cain we must first remember this is 2012.  Barring Harry Wendelstedt's call when Don Drysdale had the consecutive scoreless innings streak and plunked rookie Dick Dietz but the umpire decided to abuse his authority and take full advantage of the Los Angeles spotlight by saying Dietz never tried to get out of the way.  In young Harry's eyes because Dietz made no effort he wasn't allowing him to reach first base. 

That was in 1967.  We are in an era where batters are allowed to act as if the ball had so much movement moving wouldn't do any good.  And in Matt Cain's perfect game, this was a factor on two occasions.

Third baseman Chris Johnson and outfielder Brian Bogusevic both behaved as if Wendelstedt himself was calling balls and strikes.  And I tip my cap to their selfless efforts because they showed an appreciation for the magnitude of what was developing and did not cheapen it by becoming cardboard cut-outs.

I would have missed a good game had I not mentioned another Houston Astro player, Jordan Schafer.  Schafer was the batter who hit a one-ball two-strike pitch down the first base line that was ruled foul much to the chagrin of writer Gil Imber.  Imber pointed to video evidence and the laws of physics in his suggestion the bouncing ball glanced off the bag.

Unfortunately for Schafer, he was also the batter who was robbed by a "white shark" who goes by the name of Gregor Blanco.

Imber concludes that: after instant replay review, it appears the human element- both on the field and in the living room- has greatly contributed to the mystique of baseball's defensive dream.

I'm in agreement that instant replay effects the human element of the game as much as performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). But if the person hired to make the call is a deputy of decision he or she cannot be Barney Fife, or records will be broken not made.

Kevin J. Marquez

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Intimidation in the Major Leagues

Bits and pieces from a book I read a couple of months ago. (Baseball's Book of Codes by Jason Turnbow)

The 2012 baseball season is beginning to pick up, what with the Dodgers and Giants and Diamondbacks being competitive.  The Pirates and Reds are renewing memories of the early 1970s when Willie Stargell, Kent Tekulve, Roberto Clemente, Al Oliver, Richie Hebner, Manny Sanguillen, Jerry Reuss, Jim Rooker, Ken Brett and Dock Ellis battled Pete Rose, Dave Concepcion, Cesar Geronimo, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and "Doggy" Tony Perez.  The Big Red Machine had decent pitching back then with Jack Billingham, Ross Grimley, Freddie Norman and Don Gullet. They both had the artificial turf and the multi-purpose stadiums (both of which did not last that long). The only difference was their uniform colors.  Because they were good ballclubs. 

The Dodgers kicked some tail back in the early 70s with Dusty's boys rapping orbs and picking it afield.

I remember going to Candlestick with a buddy who loved Ron Cey, "the Penguin."  Cey set the record, at the time, for hitting the most homers against the Giants at Candlestone-cold Park.  Right there with Dale Murphy.  And due to the number of games one attends it pretty much had to seem like "the Penguin" yanked one every time he was in Dodger ba-lue.  And for us Giant fans, that pretty much ba-lows.

1977 was the year Reggie Smith, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey and Dusty "Toothpick chewing" Baker all hit at least 30 round-trippers.


According to Bob Gibson, "When (Lou) Brock would keep stealing after we had built up a three- or- four- run lead, guys on the bench would say, "Goddamn it, Brock, you can't do that!"
"He'd say, 'F--k you. I'm going to do it.'  His attitude was to beat the other team as badly as possible and that was my kind of baseball.

A fierce tag is one of the primary methods a fielder can utilize to intentionally be agressive.  Said shortstop Chris Speier, "If you're going to steal this base, you're going to pay for it."

Willie McCovey delivered among the hardest blows in the business (although like Willie Stargell, he did it with a smile), inspiring Lou Brock to claim that leading off against the Giants was the worst experience one could have.  (Will Clark labeled Big Mac's tag "the sledgehammer.")

There's a reason that so few players complained about it however:  These fielders are all protected by the code!  The code that says it's just the price runners pay for doing business.

As for intimidation, "The pitcher has to find out if the hitter is timid, and if he is timid, he has to remind the hitter he's timid, "  quoth Don Drysdale.  A pitcher who learned this trait from Sal Maglie, a man they called "the Barber."

Phil "Scrap Iron" Garner, a young infielder with the Oakland A's, made a mistake that would inform his decision on plate strategy for the rest of his career facing Nolan Ryan.

If, as Yogi Berra famously uttered, 'Ninety-percent of the game is mental,' then dominating the mental half will produce impressive results.  Proper focus involves imperviousness to tactics of intimidation. Skill is finite, fear is not.

On Hugh Casey, Rex Barney (another Dodger pitcher) said, "He was mean."  "He would set you up and then he would knock you down. And he'd look you right in the eye when he did it, too. And yes, he'd actually throw at guys in the on-deck circle. I saw him do it in Brooklyn."  (In 1946, Casey did, in fact, throw a pitch at Marty Marion of the St. Louis Cardinals, who was standing near the batter's box, timing Casey's warm-ups, a violation of another unwritten rule.)

Casey even went so far as to throw three straight pitches at the head of the plate umpire, George Magerkurth in 1941, after Georgy had called a dubious balk on him to force in a run.

Catcher Randy Knorr put it in baseball terms: "They say the anticipation of death is worse than actually dying. Well, the anticipation of getting hit is a lot worse than actually being hit. You can't play your game. You think you're going to get drilled, so you aren't focused on hitting. You're focused on avoiding."

There are two options for pitchers who want to instill fear without having to hit a batter: the brushback and the knockdown.  It's the near misses that inspire philosophical soliloquies. From uncontemplative men about the meaning (and shortness) of life.

"Show me a guy who doesn't want to pitch inside," said Don Drysdale, "and I'll show you a loser."

"Most of the time, you figure out a player's reputation early- guys you could throw at, guys you could knock down," said 14-year veteran, Dave Henderson. "Guys who if you knock them down it makes them better players, and guys who if you knock them down you can make them cower."

"The idea is to see how you react to being knocked down," said ex-Dodger and Expo and Giant announcer, Ron Fairly.  "If it doesn't bother him, we're not going to do that. We've got to figure out a different way to get him out."

I don't know, this part of the book just got me to thinking about when I was playing hardball and some of things mentioned hit home.

Kevin Marquez

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Prince Hal (Chase)

(I guess this is a blog version of something that went into the repeat mode. The article on Prince Hal was done in March. With the passing of my folks and putting them to rest on June 8, 2012, I suppose idle thoughts were free-flowing like the germs of an infested petrie dish.  I apologize for the repeat article.)

Harold Homer Chase born February 13, 1883 in Los Gatos, California and left planet Earth on May 18, 1947, last seen in Colusa, California.  In between, he lived a most colorful life that he admits could have been done a little differently.

He is sometimes considered the first true star of the franchise that would eventually become the New York Yankees. His days, from 1905-1913, they were mainly known as the Highlanders until 1912.  He was a player-manager for the Highlanders in 1910 and 1911.

Chase made his professional debut with the Los Angeles Angels of the Class-A, Pacific Coast League in 1904.  It was then the NY Highlanders selected Chase from Los Angeles in the 1904, Rule 5 draft on October 4, 1904.

Chase faced allegations of wrongdoing as early as 1910, when his manager, George Stallings, claimed that Chase was "laying down" in games. This claim was later made by Stallings' successor as manager of the Highlanders, Frank Chance.  Yet, during this era, gambling was so rampant that whenever a player was not at his best, particularly in a big city like New York, there were claims of players laying down, whether it was true or not.  Stallings' claims may have resulted from a feud between him and Chase.  While Chance allegedly made the same claim, he later told management that Chase was giving his all, but his abilities were in a state of decline.

"When Mr. Stallings accused Hal Chase, the captain and first baseman of the New York Americans, of laying down, or deliberately losing games for the purpose of preventing the team from becoming a pennant winner, he made a very serious charge against Chase. One that demanded a most thorough and careful investigation. That has been conducted by the owners of the club, whose good name were at stake, assisted by the president and vice-president of the American League.  President Ban Johnson, the head of the American League said, "Stallings has utterly failed in his accusation against Chase. He tried to besmirch the character of a sterling player. Anybody who knows Hal Chase knows that he is not guilty of the accusations made against him, and I am happy to say that the evidence of the New York players given to Vice-President Somers this morning showed Stallings up."

According to the website:, President Johnson was obviously eager to disbelieve any charges against Chase.  He didn't want the prize jewel of the New York franchise branded as a cheater. Johnson developed a protective attitude toward Chase and shielded him from controversy to maintain good will with the American League fans.  The "thorough investigation" by the New York owners Frank Farrell and Bill Devery never did take place. Stallings, angered that the owners backed Chase, quit as a manager.

In 1914, Chase found conflict playing for the overbearing Charles Comiskey and got into an argument over his contract. A feature of many of Comiskey's contracts and of other clubs at this time, was a "ten day clause," meaning the team could terminate a player's contract within ten days.  Chase jumped the White Sox and played for Buffalo of the "outlaw" Federal League.  Chase's explanation:  At the time, Comiskey called me into his office and asked me to have the ten-day clause stricken from my contract. I demurred at this. A contract, it seemed to me, ought to bind both parties to the agreement. If that agreement allowed him to dispose of my services with ten days notice, I didn't see why I shouldn't enjoy the same privilege."

In the next month, Comiskey and the White Sox took Chase to the Supreme Court.  Long before Curt Flood challenged baseball's reserve clause, Prince Hal Chase found himself in the midst of a historic case against baseball ownership.  Whether he was motivated out of selfishness or principle in fighting his contract, the judge in the case saw his point. The ruling in the case of the Chicago White Sox versus Hal Chase, as given by Judge Herbert Bissell, is as follows:

"While the services of these baseball players are ostensibly secured by voluntary contracts, a study of this system..reveals the involuntary character of the servitude which is imposed upon players by the strength of the combination controlling the labor of practically all of the players in this country. This makes it necessary for the player either to take the contract prescribed..or abandon baseball as a profession and seek some other livelihood...This system of servitude..provides for the purchase, sale, barter, and exchange of the services of ball players, skilled laborers, without their consent...(the players servitude) under the operations of this plan of agreement is contrary to the spirit of American institutions (and) to the spirit of the Constitution of the United States... This court will not assist in enforcing an agreement which is part of a general plan having for its object the maintenance of a monopoly, interference with the personal liberties of a citizen, and the control of his free right to labor wherever and for whom he pleases."

On July 23, 1918, as the Reds traveled to Boston for a doubleheader, Magee sat in the smoking car, watching out the window. Chase soon joined him. Chase made it sound that the bet would be placed on the Reds to win. The bet was to be placed with Jim Costello, owner of a poolroom at the Oxford Hotel in Boston.  Magee knew Costello and was going to place the bet himself, but Chase insisted, "No, I'll make the bet."  Chase wagered $500 for both Magee and himself and the Reds won 4-2 in 13 innings.  At the end of the game Chase revealed he had bet on the Reds to lose. Magee then stopped payment on his check.  The real intrigue began when Jim Costello was called to the stand. He contradicted Magee's tale.  Here is a portion of Costello's colorful testimony...

Q: I wish you would describe what was said between you and Lee Magee, if anything was said, on or about July 24, 1918. A:  On the vening (in question), about eight o'clock, Magee came in my place looking for me.  I says, "What is it?"  He says, "On tomorrow's ball game," he says "We can't talk details just now," he says.  "But I will have another man tomorrow with me and we will talk it over together."  I says, "What time?" He says, "Ten o'clock."

Q: Before you come to the next morning, what was said by Magee, as to what was to be done?  A: He said it was in regard to a ball game the next day; they wree going to "fix" a ball game.   By "tossing" a game it means your own side loses the game- bet against his own side...The next morning at ten o'clock Magee and the other party came in my room and we go down in the corner and talk things over. Q: Who was the other party?  A: I says, "What is your proposition?"  Q: (Repeated) Who was the other party?  A: The other party was Hal Chase."

An unknown individual sent National League president, John Heydler, a copy of a $500 check that Chase received from a gambler for throwing a game in 1918- the same year that he had acquitted Chase for throwing games. Armed with this evidence, Heydler ordered Giants owner, Charles Stoneham, to release Chase. Since no American League team would sign him (on the advice of Detroit Tigers manager Hughie Jennings), Chase was now effectively blackballed from the major leagues.

On his legacy: "You note that I am not in the Hall of Fame. Some of the old-timers said I was one of the greatest fielding first basemen of all-time.  When I die, movie magnates will make no picture like Pride of the Yankees, which honored Lou Gehrig...I am an outcast, and I haven't a good name. I'm the loser, just like all the gamblers are.  I lived to make great plays. What did I gain? Nothing. Everything was lost because I raised hell after hours. I was a wise guy, a know-it-all, I guess."

In his Historical Baseball Abstract, Bill James quotes a poem entitled "You Can't Escape 'Em:"

Sometimes a raw recruit in spring is not a pitching find;
He has not Walter Johnson's wing, nor Matty's wonderous mind.
He does not act like Harold Chase upon the fielding job,
But you may find in such a case, he hits like Tyrus Cobb.

(thanks to and for the information I was able to relay toward accuracy in this rant.)

Kevin J. Marquez

Not So Fast My Giants'-fan Friends

We know, by now, that statistically Tim Lincecum has an ERA at 6.00  We know that he seems to have that one inning where the home plate umpire cannot seem to distinguish a ball from a strike.

We know he has that one inning where a below average hitter smacks a ball he leaves in the "hit me zone."  And we also seem to think he has lost some of the fire in his belly.

Fans are an interesting lot, to say the least.  I mean, heck, we all have the answers.  Some of our reasons are well-thought out while others are merely to hear our own voices on the 7-second delay of KNBR.

I have a question, though.  What are the Giants batting when Tim Lincecum is in the game?  Because it has caught my interest on a couple of occasions that once Timmy was replaced the hits seemed to find holes and flares fell untouched.

We should all remember how poorly they supported number 55 last season.  And the Giant defense, so far this year, has generally been less than stellar.

So I say, "Not so fast, my Giants'-fan friends.  Let's play a good game- all the way around- and see how the outcome materializes."

Kevin J. Marquez

Monday, June 11, 2012

Not Just About Baseball

(from the book, The Golden Game (The Story of California Baseball) by Kevin Nelson)

"Baseball was a boyhood passion," for Gene Autry.  He played shortstop on his Tioga, Texas American Legion team.  Played it well enough to be offered a $100 per month contract with a minor league club in Tulsa, a farm team of the St. Louis Cardinals.  The then 19-year-old had been working for the railroad in Oklahoma at the time.  He would chum around with the likes of Dizzy Dean.  Dean and Autry also shared a taste for ginger whiskey, and although Prohibition was in effect and alcoholic spirits were against the law, the pair knew a storekeeper who manufactured it and sold it for a fair price.

Autry turned down Tulsa because it paid less than the railroad.  But Dean went on to the Cardinals and a Hall of Fame career.  Autry eventually pursued singing and had the talent to make him a hit-making recording artist who was a major country & western touring attraction.  Hollywood beckoned and in 1934, Autry arrived to see if his charms and ticket-selling prowess could translate into the big screen.  But California struck him as "formless, too sprawling." Too far from the rest of the country.  So he left Hollywood to go back on tour after his first few movies did so-so at the box office.

The next time he returned he made "Tumblin' Tumbleweeds" which became a smash hit and propelled Autry- singing songs of the Old West on his horse, Champion- to movie fame on top of his recording and radio success.

Autry is the only person to have 5 stars on the Hollywood Walk-of-Fame, wrote "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," which sold more than 25 million records.  In finances, he turned his radio stations (KSFO-Giants, KMPC-Dodgers) into a Bonanza-sized real estate and media empire.

When the Dodgers decided to switch to KFI, in late 1960, leaving KMPC without a team, Autry contacted Bill Veeck and Hank Greenberg who were certain to be owners of the new franchise for the American League (the Angels).  They assured Autry that if they became the owners, KMPC would broadcast its games.

Autry and Veeck had a distant baseball connection. Veeck was in the stands for the 1934 barnstorming game in Hollywood in which Autry's friend Dizzy Dean squared off with Satchel Paige in what may have been the greatest pitching duel of the segregated era. Autry described Veeck as "a born boat-rocker, with the sly grin of a man who is about to drop an egg in your pocket."

In scouting parlance, "working a living room" means that the scout is inside a prospect's house delivering his pitch on why the prospect should sign with the scout's organization. The Dodgers loved the quality about Tom Lasorda, his "bleed Dodger blue," rant tied together with his knack for selling a cup of sand to anyone in a desert made Lasorda a goose who was laying golden eggs.

Charlie O. Finley put in a bid for the Los Angeles Angels that would eventually be purchased by the "Singing Cowboy," Gene Autry.

From there, Finley sniffed out the Kansas City Athletics. Their owner just died and creepy Charlie O. became that guy after the funeral who could make everything better.  Arnold Johnson died of a heart attack which led to Finley buying a controlling interest in the club from Johnson's widow, then purchasing the remaining shares from the minority owners, Finley was in as an owner in a game he enjoyed.

According to Kevin Nelson...

While recovering from a severe case of tuberculosis he conceived of a group medical insurance plan for physicians, then an innovative idea that once he was back on his feet he tried to sell to numerous insurance companies. Finally, Finley found an insurance carrier willing to underwrite his plan and when the American Medical Association and other physician groups endorsed it, Finley heard those musical notes of success, "Cha ching."

(According to the author)
Finley was the Ty Cobb of owners. While he may have been despicable in many mannerisms or behaviors he offered the major leagues stability and could sign and develop talent.  Like Cobb, he was too good to ban from the league, no matter what was said about him.

In June of 1965, the College Player of the year, fresh off the Arizona State Sun Devil national championship roster was the first player chosen in the first-ever major league amateur draft, by the Kansas City Athletics, Charles O. Finley's A's. (His name was Rick Monday.)

Finley was advised that Oakland would be a good place to go because the Raiders of Oakland had just built a new stadium.  Gene Autry was looking for a new team to form a rivalry with the Angels and Finley liked the idea.

In the scouting game, Finley wanted Willie Crawford, Lasorda got him.  Lasorda wanted Rick Monday, Finley got him.

Kevin Marquez

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Early 1900 Fields in San Francisco

In a book, The Golden Game (The Story of California Baseball) by Kevin Nelson, he made mention of a couple of stadiums before Seal Stadium that captured my interest.

Big Rec at 15th and Valencia and Ewing Field near Masonic and Geary.  I did some research, beginning on the website

After the Great Earthquake a new ball park, Recreation Park was built in the Mission on Valencia between 14th and 15th streets. 

Big Rec was also referred to as Old Rec.  Behind home plate was a field-level section known as the Booze cage.  A bleacher seat in the park cost a quarter, but it took 40 cents to gain admittance to the Cage.  For the extra money you got a shot of whiskey or a beer or a ham and cheese sandwich.

Wanting to move the Seals out of Old Rec, Cal Ewing and his business partner, Frank Ish, decided to build a new ballpark.

Ewing and Ish found some land they liked off Geary Boulevard near Golden Gate Park, and the project broke ground in the fall of 1913.  The ground unveiling of Ewing Field came in the middle of May 1914.  The Chronicle prophesized it would be "the home of the Seals for the next 20 years."

Ewing Park became the new home of the San Francisco Seals, intended to be the finest minor league park to date, located one block south of Geary at Masonic. The San Francisco Chronicle said, "The only possible drawback is the possibility of meeting bad weather conditions."

Fans in the grandstands said on some days the fog was so thick they could not see the outfielders.  Wet, fog-bearing winds from the Pacific Ocean whipped across the park almost daily. 

Cal Ewing could not save himself from this mistake.  After only one season the Seals abandoned Ewing Field and returned to splintery Old Rec, which was at least in a sunnier part of town.

I was unable to locate any pictures of Ewing Park. At least not one with a view of the park being obscured.  The only picture was behind a Sand Hill being quarried near Masonic and Geary, 1914.

(much credit goes to the aforementioned website and Kevin Nelson's book, The Golden Game.)

Kevin J. Marquez