Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Holtzman, Blomberg, Shamsky Set to Manage in Israeli Baseball League

The Associated Press
Monday, February 26, 2007


NEW YORK: Ken Holtzman, Ron Blomberg and Art Shamsky are among the former major leaguers who will manage teams in the new Israeli Baseball League.

Tel Aviv, Bet Shemish, Modi'in, Ra'anana, Netanya and Petach Tikva were announced on Monday as the six clubs to play this summer in the inaugural season of the league. Former Boston Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette is the director of baseball operations.

Holtzman (Ra'anana), Blomberg (Bet Shemesh) and Shamsky (Modi'in) will be managers, along with former Houston pitcher Steve Hertz (Tel Aviv) and Shaun Smith (Australia's Auburn Orioles). The Petach Tikva manager has not been hired.

"The idea really grew on me as a challenge and a chance to get involved with something that was starting up and be able to grow with this league," said Shamsky, an outfielder who played for Cincinnati, the New York Mets, Oakland and the Chicago Cubs from 1965-72. "These games are being played in the most historical place in the world and I think it will be interesting to see how everyone reacts to this."

The six-team league starts play on June 24 and will use Gezer Field in Kibbutz Gezer (Bet Shemish Blue Sox and Modi'in Miracle), Sportek in Tel Aviv (Tel Aviv Lightning and Ra'anana Express) and Baptist Village Field in Petach Tivka (Netanya Tigers and Petach Tikva Pioneers).

Duquette has supervised three tryouts over the last few months, signing 80 players from eight countries, including Israel, the United States, Australia and the Dominican Republic. The league plans to hold tryouts in the Dominican Republic next month and set a goal of obtaining an invitation for Israel to play in the 2009 World Classic.

"We're going to have a very representative league," Duquette said. "But at the same time we're going to build up the infrastructure and the coaching and the fundamentals and the programs and the role models so that we can perpetuate the education of ballplayers in Israel."

Shamsky joked about having to learn a new language so he could argue with umpires, reading out the Hebrew translations of "Are you blind?" and "Open your eyes."

"Hopefully, a little of what we've learned in all the years I played in the major leagues, we can try to pass on to these players and the people of Israel," said Holtzman, a pitcher who won 174 games during his 15-year career with the Chicago Cubs, Oakland, Baltimore and the New York Yankees.

Leon Feingold, a 33-year-old right-hander, spent two years in the Cleveland Indians' organization before shoulder surgery in 1995. He's now a real estate broker in New York and intends to play in the new circuit.

"Getting the chance to play baseball again, it's like getting a second chance at something most people don't get a first chance at," he said. "If nothing else, this will make my mother extremely happy."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wills' Exploits Changed the Game

02/16/2007 10:00 AM ET
By Justice B. Hill / MLB.com

Not since Babe Ruth in the 1920s had one player changed the game of baseball the way Dodgers shortstop Maury Wills did in the 1960s.

Taking over as a starter in 1960, Wills brought his revved-up energy to a ballclub that needed an infusion of it. Not that the Dodgers hadn't had other speedy ballplayers in their storied history. They were, after all, the team that introduced Jackie Robinson to the Major Leagues.

But no player did quite what the switch-hitting Wills, the quintessential leadoff hitter, did with his legs. He frustrated opposing pitchers. He disrupted defenses. And he jump-started the Dodgers' offense.

Wills allowed the pitching-rich Dodgers to use "small ball" to contend for National League titles and World Series rings.

His 14-year career, which ended in 1972, has the Veterans Committee of the National Baseball Hall of Fame evaluating its place in baseball history.

Was that career worthy enough for induction into Cooperstown?

Look at his numbers. He became the first National League shortstop since Max Carey in 1923 to steal 50 bases. But that number was only the start of Wills' baseball larceny.

Two years later, Wills broke Ty Cobbs' Major League record for steals when he recorded 104.

"In 1962, one seemingly unbreakable record that stood for nearly a half a century was shattered by a slender man who specialized in singles and bunt hits," wrote Al Doyle in a 2003 article in Baseball Digest. "As the first 100-steal player, Wills breached a barrier that was once thought to be untouchable."

In that marvelous season, Wills batted .299 en route to winning the National League MVP Award. He outpolled the great Willie Mays for the honor.

Wills, who toiled in the Minor Leagues for eight seasons, never had another season quite like this one. What player in his era did?

From the time he reached the bigs, he was a player who set a standard for disrupting defenses, aggravating pitchers and setting up the Dodgers' hitters behind him in the manager Walter Alston's lineup to knock in a run.

"Winning 1-0 or 2-1 became our plan of attack," Wills told Doyle for his 2003 article. "I'd get on base, steal second, get advanced to third and score on a single."

Wills continued to do that throughout his career. He also continued to play the kind of defense that a pitching-dominated, offensively-challenged ballclub like the Dodgers of the 1960s needed for success.

Those teams didn't need gawdy numbers, and Wills, when his numbers are stacked up alongside other Hall of Fame shortstops, might not be as impressive. But throw in five All-Star Game appearances, two Gold Gloves, his MVP, six straight seasons of leading the league in stolen bases and a career .281 average, and Wills has credentials that measure up to or surpass those of Hall of Fame shortstops Luis Aparicio, Johnny Evers, Phil Rizzuto, Ozzie Smith and Pee Wee Reese.

Yet as good a player as Wills was, he was an even better person. He was one of the earliest athletes to embrace and relish his role as a celebrity.

"I am proud to be a role model to children and aspiring athletes," Wills once said. "I feel it is my obligation to give back something to this community that has done so much for me. If I can accomplish that, then I feel I have truly realized my greatest victory."

Another great victory should await Wills shortly, if the Veterans Committee looks closely at his baseball credentials. For those credentials should earn him a plaque in Cooperstown alongside Dodgers teammates Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.

From mlb.com

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Berman's Baseball Nicknames

CHRIS BERMAN, FROM ESPN FAME, HAS MADE A NAME FOR HIMSELF WITH NICKNAMES FOR ATHLETES. HERE ARE TWO LISTS, WITH A FEW REPEATS

FROM LARRY'S BASEBALL RESOURCES:
Newest additions at the end.

A
Shawn "Little" Abner
Rick "see ya later" Aguilera
Mike "Enough" Aldretti or Mike "Mario" Aldrete
Doyle "Brandy" Alexander
Dana Allison "Wonderland"
Bill Almon "Joy" or Bill "Toasted" Almon
Roberto "Remember The" Alomar
Sandy "Remember the other" Alomar Jr.
Brady "Bunch" Anderson
Joaquin "the dog" Andujar
Tony "Brothers In" Armas
Don "Guns of" August

B
Scott "Hay" Bailes
Mark "Beetle" Bailey
Scott "Tallulah" Bankhead
Floyd "Up and Down the" Bannister
Marty "Grin and" Barrett
Kevin "Small Mouth" Bass
Randy "Large Mouth" Bass
Billy "Lima" Beane
George "Taco" Bell or George "Liberty" Bell
Bruce "Eggs" Benedict
Andy "Merchant of Venice" Bends
Todd "Mercedes" Benzinger
Damon "Blue" Berryhill
Karl "these are the" Best "of times"
Bud "paint it" Black
Lance "You sank my" Blankenship
Bert "Be home" Blyleven
Bruce Bochte "Ball"
Randy Bockus "is willing"
Wade "Cranberry" Boggs
Barry "U.S." Bonds
Pat "North of the" Borders
Daryl "Please come home to" Boston
Sid "Coffee and" Bream
Greg "Crocodile" Brock
Hubie "Babbling" Brooks
Bob "Bulldog" Bower
Britt "Third Degree" Burns
Randy "Burning" Bush
Brett "Tara" Butler

C
Greg "life is a" Caderet
Ivan "Bubbling" Calderon
Sylvester "When the swallows return to" Campusano
John "Candyman" Candeleria
Tom "Cotton" Candiotti
Jose "can you see" Canseco
Don "roses" Carman
Mark Carreon "my wayward son"
Ron Cey "Hey" or Ron "born in the US" Cey
Steve "Kentucky fried" Chitren
Will "The Natural" Clark
Mark "Crystal" Clear
David "Sili-" Cone
Ed "Chick" Correa
Henry "Ava-" Cotto
Jose "Won't you take me on a sea" Cruz
Todd "Carribean" Cruz

D
Kal "Jack" Daniels
Ron "Oh My" Darling
Eric "The Red" Davis
Glenn "Mr. Outside" Davis
Jody Davis "Eyes"
"Eye of the" Storm Davis
Bill "Hello" Dawley
Jeff Dedmon "Don't wear plaid"
Rob "Bomba" Deer
or Rob "Rein" Deer
Jim "Two sillouhettes on" DeShaies
Bo "Beunos" Diaz
Bill "Doran" Doran
Rich "280z" Dotson
Brian "Number 10" Downing "Street"
Kelly "Churchill" Downs
Curt "Devil with the blue" Dressendorfer
Dan "Salad" Driesen
Mike "Well" Dunne
Leon "Bull" Durham
Jim "Washer and" Dwyer

E
Lee Elia "Kuriakin"
Dave "Right" Engle

F
Steve "A bridge too" Farr
"El" Sid Fernandez
Cecil "Is No" Fielder
Curt "Model-T" Ford
Bob "Air" Forsch
John "Generalissimo Franscisco" Franco
"Starvin'" Marvin Freeman
Jim "Bela" Fergosi
Rollie "Chicken" Fingers

G
Oscar "six-to-five" Gamble
Greg Gagne "with a spoon"
Andres "The Giant" Galarraga
Mike "Leggo" Gallego
Wes "Kenny the" Gardner
Dan "Man from" Gladden
Tom "Heard it through the" Glavine
Dwight "Johnny Be" Gooden
Mark "Amazing" Grace
Mark "Federal" Grant
Johnny "Pass the" Grubb
"Fettucini" Alfredo Griffin
Jose "Mother" Guzman
Tony Gwynn "and bear it"

H
Moose "Antlers" Haas
Von "Purple" Hayes
Jeff Hamilton "Joe Frank and Reynolds"
Mike Heath "Bar"
Danny "Dung" Heep
or Danny "Uriah" Heep
Dave "Harry and the" Henderson
Tommy "Ben" Herr
Jay "Thurston B." Howell
LaMarr "Where does it" Hoyt
Kent "Buy a vowel" Hrbek
Glenn "Mother" Hubbard
Charles "Moscow on the" Hudson
Tom "Ex-" Hume
Bruce "Patty" Hurst

I
Garth "Clockwork" Iorg

J
Bo "Diddley" Jackson
Chris "Bartles &" James
Dion James "and the Belmonts"
Stan "You can" Javier "way"
Gregg "The Hammer" Jeffries
Jimmy "Handyman" Jones
Wally "Absorbine" Joyner

K
Jimmy "Francis Scott" Key
Dana "Field Goal" Kiecker
Eric "Burger" King
Bob "Yom" Kipper
Ron "Ma and Pa" Kittle
Joe "Wilhelm" Klink
Ray "I dub thee" Knight
Chuck "New Kids On" Knoblauch or Chuck "Chip off the ol'" Knoblauch
John "I am not a" Kruk

L
Mike "Izod" LaCoss
Mike Laga "beer"
Steve "Great" Lake
Dennis "Fluorescent" Lamp
Dave "Don't" LaPoint
Tim "Praise the" Laudner
Vance "Common" Law
Al "Cigarette" Leiter
Chet "Bitter" Lemon
Jeff "Sugar Ray" Leonard
Jose Lind "on me"
John "Tonight, let it be" Lowenstein
Ed "Merrill" Lynch
Steve Lyons "and tigers and bears, oh my"

M
Shane "Connie" Mack
Greg "Appa" Maddux
Bill Madlock "D.A."
Dave "Mary" Magadan
Rick "Junk" Mahler
Candy "Man" Maldanado
Kirt "What was that" Manwaring
Mike Mason "jar"
Don "Welcome Home" Mattingly
Oddibe "Young Again" McDowell
"Me and" Willie McGee
Fred "Crime Dog" McGriff
Mark "Eve of Destruction" McGwire
Bob Melvin "and the Blue Notes"
Jim "Love me two times" Morrison
or Jim "people are strange" Morrison
John "Holy" Moses
Eddie "eat, drink and be" Murray

N
Tim "Golden" Naehring
Gene "Full" Nelson
Al "Paul" Newman
or Al "-fred E." Newman
Paul "Buenos" Noce
Matt "No" Nokes

P
Jim "Hanky" Pankovits
Mark "trans-" Parent
Dave "Parallel" Parker
Tony "Jala-" Pena
Melido "Shuffle" Perez
Pasquel "roadmap" Perez
Ken "Goodbye, Mr. " Phelps
Eric "Ker-" Plunk
Jim "Hound dog" Presley
Joe "Actual Retail" Price
Kirby "Union Gap" Puckett

R
Tim "Purple" Raines
or Tim "Torrential" Raines Johnny "Manta" Ray
Randy "Ever" Ready or Randy "Rough and" Ready
Gary Redus "a bedtime story"
Jerry "Rolls" Reuss
Craig Reynolds "wrap"
Jim "Pork Fried" Rice
Jose "Blame it On" Rijo
Cookie "Days of wine and" Rojas
Bruce "2 minutes for" Ruffin

S
Mark "Tossed" Salas
Juan "play it again" Samuel
Ryne "Carl" Sandberg
Rafael "Evil Ways" Santana
Benito "El Ducce" Santiago
Steve "Alto/Tenor" Sax
Mike "Pre-" Schooler
Bill "Beethoven" Schroeder
Mike "Nova" Scoscia
Rick "Really big" Schu
Mike "Great" Scott
Tom "Leave it to" Seaver
Bob "Ice Station" Sebra
Kevin "Alka" Seitzer
Larry "Satin" Sheets
Eric "Win, place and" Show
Ruben "High" Sierra
Don "On-" Slaught
Darryl "Rhubarb" Strawberry
or Darryl Strawberry "shortcake"
or Darryl Strawberry "Fields Forever"
Andy "Dick" Van Slyke
John "Irish Eyes are" Smiley
Franklin "Ticket" Stubbs
Bruce "3-piece" Sutter

T
Frank Tanana "daiquiri"
Andres "Doubting" Thomas
Fred Toliver "Twist"
Alan "Have Gun will" Trammel
Manny "Kingston" Trillo
Steve "Rainbow" Trout
John "House of" Tudor

U
Jose "Game-winning" Uribe

V
Bobby "Be My" Valentine
Dave "Rudy" Valle or Dave "Death" Valley
Frank "101 Strings" Viola
Ozzie "like a" Virgil

W
Tim "Eli" Wallach
Gary "Hospital" Ward
Bob "Intentional" Walk
Mitch "Noah" Webster
Walt "Three blind" Weiss
Bob "Ebony Eye" Welch
Glenn "Surfin' U.S.A." Wilson
Todd "We are the" Worrell
Butch "Oil and" Wynegar

Y
Rich "Not ready" Yett

New Additions:
DAVE Don't LAPOINT
RUDY Mother in LAW
VANCE Common LAW
CRAIG Def LEFFERTS
CHET Bitter LEMON
JOHN Tonight let it be LOWENSTEIN
URBANO Renewal LUGO
RICK Innocent LYSANDER
JOE MAGRANE Headache
RICK Junk MAHLER
MIKE Perry MASON
ODDIBE Young again MCDOWELL
Me And WILLIE MCGEE
MARK Eve of Destruction McGWIRE
JIM People are strange MORRISON
JOHN Holy MOSES
DARRYL MOTLEY Crew
EDDIE Eat Drink and be MURRAY
AL What me worry NEWMAN
REID Buffalo NICHOLS
MATT No NOKES
BRIAN B.P. OELKERS
RON Chuck OESTER
DAVE Parallel PARKER
TONY Hali PENA
KEN Good evening Mr. PHELPS
TED Tower of POWER
JIM Hounddog PRESLEY
JOE Actual Retail PRICE
KIRBY Union Gap PUCKETT
TERRY Swimming PUHL
JAMIE Men at QUIRK
TIM Purple RAINES
JOHNNY Manta RAY
RANDY Ever READY
RANDY Rough And READY
JERRY Rolls REUSS
R.J. REYNOLDS Wrap
DAVE Prince RIGHETTI
JOSE Blame it on RIJO
BRUCE RUFFIN Ready
VERN Golden RUHLE
MARK Tossed SALAS
BILLY Free SAMPLE
RAFAEL Abraxa SANTANA
RAFAEL Say It Again SANTANA
BENITO Il Duche SANTIAGO
STEVE Alto SAX
BILL Crop SCHERRER
RICK Really Big SCHU
MIKE Great SCOTT
TOM Leave it to SEAVER
KEVIN Alka SEITZER
JEFF Wine SELLERS
LARRY Bed SHEETS
JOHN T-Bone SHELBY
CRAIG Brewer and SHIPLEY
ERIC Win Place and SHOW
RUBEN Hines SIERRA
JOEL Mule SKINNER
DON On SLAUGHT
JOHN Irish Eyes Are SMILEY
MARIO Scotch and SOTO
CHRIS Church SPEIER
JAMES Easter STEELS
BILL Beer STEIN
TERRY Grapes Of Wrath STEINBACH
DARRYL Rhubarb STRAWBERRY
FRANKLIN Ticket STUBBS
BRUCE Three Piece SUTTER
FRANK TANANA Daiquiri
ANDRES Doubting THOMAS
MANNY Kingston TRILLO
JOHN Private TUDOR
JOSE Game Winning URIBE
JOHN Stick it in your URREA
ANDY Dick VAN SLYKE
FRANK Hundred one strings VIOLA
OZZIE Like a VIRGIL
TIM Eli WALLACH
GARY Hospital WARD
BOB Ebony eyes WELCH
GLENN Surfin U.S.A. WILSON
BUTCH Oil and WYNEGAR
RICH Not YETT
Bobby "be my" Valentine
Ruben "High" Sierra
Ty "Corn on the" Cobb
Jim "Fried" Rice
Bill "Hard a" Lee
Don "Down the" Gullet
Jesus/Felipe/Matty "Skip to my" Alou
Juan "Field" Marichal
Willie "Lost in the" Mays
Frank "Play the" Viola
Jack "the Whiffer" Clark
Matt "Dying" Young
Tom "Dirty" Henke
Dave "Supreme Court" Justice
Dwight Gooden "Plenty"
Monty "Haul" Ferris

This list was compiled by members of the Rotisserie Newsgroup. All credit goes to Chris Berman and ESPN.

OTHER NAMES FROM OTHER SOURCES:
1. Chuck "New Kids On" Knoblauch
2. John "Tonight, let it be" Lowenstein
3. Eddie "eat, drink and be" Murray
4. Tony "Jala-" Pena
5. Frank Tanana "daiquiri"
6. John "Charcoal" Burkett
7. Oddibe "young again" Mcdowall
8. Bobby "Mill" Abreu
9. Tommy Agee "Breaky Heart"
10. Dick Allen "good time, my pretty"
11. Walt Alston "Purina"
12. Cap "You Make Me Feel Like" Anson
13. Kevin "couldn't be" Appier
14. Luke "What's" Appling "Ever After"
15. Richie Ashburn ", toast and coffee"
16. Steve "Ebony and" Avery
17. "Home improvement with" Bob Avila
18. Lance "You sank my" Blankenship
19. Jose "Won't you take me on a sea" Cruz
20. Danny "Dung" Heep
21. Joe "Wilhelm" Klink
22. Don't walk away Rene Gonzalez
23. Bert "be home" Blyleven
24. Brian "10" Downing "Street"
25. Mike "Matha" Maddux
26. Greg "Appa" Maddux
27. John "I am not a" Kruk
28. R.J. Reynolds "Wrap"
29. Rick "really big" Schu
30. Bruce "3 piece" Sutter
31. Larry "Satin" Sheets
32. Eric "Win, place and" Show
33. Ruben "High" Sierra
34. Don "On-" Slaught
35. Rick "Junk" Mahler
36. Danny "Theory" Darwin
37. Kevin "Small/Big Mouth" Bass
38. Von "Purple" Hayes
39. Jose "Can You See" Canseco
40. John Mayberry RFD
41. Sylvester swallows return to Campusano
42. Scott Little Deuce Cooper
43. Jody Davis eyes
44. Carlos in Delgado da vida
45. Brett Favre-egn├╝gen
46. Brook Jacoby Wan Kenobi
47. Scott Livingstone, I presume
48. Me and Willie McGee
49. Jon get thee to a Nunnally
50. Rafael Emerson, Lake, and Palmiero
51. Kevin Alka Seitzer
52. Heathcliff Slocumb if ya got 'em
53. Tony Tarasco sauce
54. Amani it's not a Toomer
55. Greg The Wrath Of Zahn
56. Hubie "Babbling" Brooks
57. Craig "Matinee at the" Biggio
58. Dana "Field Goal" Kiecker
59. Steve Lyons "And Tigers And Bears, Oh My"
60. Alex Ochoa "Gesundheit"
61. Randy Ready "or Not"
62. Buck Showalter "Raleigh"
63. Butch "Oil and" Wynegar
64. Rich "Not Ready" Yett
65. Mark "Get Back" Loretta
66. Ben "Good" Grieve
67. Curtis "My favorite" Martin
68. Jim "Glad sandwich" Bagby
69. Stan Bahnsen "burner"
70. Harold "Aches and" Baines
71. Frank/Dusty Baker "can't be choosers"
72. Dave "declared" Bancroft
73. Sal "rubber" Bando "Lakes butter"
74. Randy "touchdown" Bass "interference"
75. Johnny Bassler "party"
76. Hank "I got the" Bauer "steering"
77. Ginger Beaumont "the range"
78. Rod "I got your" Beck "to the drawing board"
79. Jake Beckley "Thatcher"
80. Steve Bedrosian "horse"
81. Johnny "Gentle" Bench
82. Chief "Bigs" Bender
83. Andy Benes "the Menace"
84. Charlie "won the National League" Bennett
85. Al Benton "the rules"
86. Moe "free as a" Berg "in the hand"
87. Lance Berkman "compensation"
88. Yogi "grin and" Berra
89. Angel "go for" Berroa
90. Jim "newborn" Bibby
91. Max Bishop "every morning, ten times!"
92. Nap "jumping for" Lajoie
93. Ty "corn on the' Cobb
94. Jim "your full of" Maloney
95. Ernie "don't be" Koy
96. Bill "don't get too" Stoneman
97. George "hurry up and no" Stallings
98. Wally Absorbine Joyner
99. Dave Rhigetti & Meatballs
100. Tony Rubix Kubek
101. John Count of Montefusco
102. Frank Hey Mr. Talley Man talley my Tanana.
103. Albert "Winnie the Pu"jols
104. Jim "Mr.Ed"monds
105. Scott "Rock an" Rolen
106. Scott 'Supercalifragilisticexpiali' Brosius
107. Mel Days of Wine and Rojas

Monday, February 12, 2007

Percival Delivers New Home Base

Former Angels closer finances and personally builds
baseball clubhouse at UC Riverside, his alma mater.

By Bill Shaikin
Times Staff Writer
February 12, 2007

It was early in the morning, way too early for a college student to stir. The coach was alone in his office, but the noise made it apparent he was not alone in the building.

He wandered into the clubhouse to see what was up. He was stunned. The greatest player in school history was perched atop a ladder, dipping a sponge into a bucket of water and scrubbing the ceiling.

Troy Percival looked down at his old coach. Then the longtime Angels closer and four-time All-Star went back to work, but not before UC Riverside Coach Doug Smith asked why. The Highlanders hoped Percival would build their new clubhouse, but not literally.

"I was going to go hire some guys," Percival told Smith. "I just decided to do it myself."

He imagined, designed, scrubbed, patched, hammered, sawed, painted, wired and installed. He paid for just about everything, with money and with sweat.

The Highlanders can't thank him enough and all he says is, hey, thanks for getting me out of the house.

"I like to work," he said, "and I've been sitting at home for a year. It gave me a chance to get my fingers dirty."

The Riverside baseball field is a second home to Percival. He still lives in Riverside, shows up for alumni games, headlines golf tournaments to raise money for the team. He used to work out with the team to get ready for spring training.

He recorded the last out of the Angels' World Series victory in 2002 and earned his 300th save two years later, then gave way to Francisco Rodriguez and signed a two-year, $12-million contract with the Detroit Tigers. But his elbow gave way, and he made the last pitch of his career July 9, 2005.

So he was in Riverside last year, when Smith shared some good news. The city no longer needed its storage facility at the field, so the Highlanders could move in and renovate.

"The place was a disaster," Smith said. "There were holes in the walls. The carpet needed to be ripped up. The place hadn't seen paint in 20 years."

Smith envisioned a shiny clubhouse, and Percival volunteered to help. Give me a key, he told Smith, and let me see what I can do.

"We figured he would make a donation to help cover the costs," Smith said. "I didn't have any expectation he would pay for the whole thing and do the whole thing."

Team Percival did the job. Percival enlisted his father, Richard, a former painter and his father-in-law, Jerry Close, a onetime woodworker. They designed, assembled and installed 34 lockers — eight feet tall, solid oak, with shelves.

"Major league quality," Smith said. "When I saw the first locker, I was blown away."

Percival toiled on ladders some days, on hands and knees other days, working as many as 12 hours a day by Smith's count, for about three weeks in November and December.

The Highlanders' season started two weeks ago, but the players haven't moved into the clubhouse yet. The stools are on order, and so are the nameplates for the lockers. The couch, the tables and the big-screen television are coming too.

"It'll be nice to see the kids in here, maybe playing cards," Percival said. "They can come in here and do their homework."

In a mischievous tone, he added, "One guy told me they'd put a computer in here, but I don't envision that."

Percival, 37, was a catcher at Riverside from 1987 to 1990, before the Angels drafted him and made him a pitcher. Smith was an assistant then, under 31-year coach Jack Smitheran, and the Highlanders played in Division II.

Now they're in the Big West Conference, competing against powerhouses Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State, hoping the new clubhouse might sway a recruit toward Riverside.

"We're in competition with some pretty good programs," Percival said. "We've got to step it up."

Percival's name adorns the outfield wall, one of two Highlanders to have his number retired. Eric Show, the former San Diego Padres' pitcher, is the other.

His name will soon grace a plaque at the clubhouse entrance, in recognition of a donation Smith estimated at "well over $100,000" in labor and materials. Percival could live without the plaque; Smith insisted.

And one locker will be reserved for Percival, so he can drop by and play catch whenever he wants. But even he will have to abide by Smith's rule: No bats in this locker room, since the lockers are so nice.

"The first guy that hits one of these with a bat," Smith said, "is dead."

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Eddie Feigner, 81; showman of fast-pitch softball's 'King and His Court'

Obituary - Los Angeles Times
From the Associated Press
February 11, 2007

Eddie Feigner, the hard-throwing softball showman who barnstormed for more than 50 years with "The King and His Court" four-man team, has died. He was 81.

Feigner, a former Marine known for his trademark crew cut and bulging right arm, died Friday in Huntsville, Ala., from a respiratory ailment related to dementia, said his wife, Anne Marie Feigner.

With a fastball once clocked at 104 mph, Feigner threw 930 no-hitters, had 238 perfect games and struck out 141,517 batters while playing more than 10,000 games. He was inducted into the National Senior Softball Hall of Fame in 2000.

A stroke suffered in 2000 — a day after he threw out the first pitch before the women's softball competition in the Sydney Olympics — ended his playing career at age 75. He left the team for medical reasons last summer.

Feigner, who served in the Marine Corps during World War II, visited more than 300 military installations around the world during his long career, including a stop in Cuba last summer.

Feigner pitched not only from the standard mound, 46 feet from home plate, but also from second base, behind his back, on his knees, between his legs, from center field and blindfolded. In a nationally televised exhibition against major leaguers at Dodger Stadium in 1964, he struck out Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Maury Wills, Harmon Killebrew, Roberto Clemente and Brooks Robinson in order.

Feigner began The King and His Court in 1946 on a dare in his hometown of Walla Walla, Wash. He had just thrown a shutout in his nine-man team's rout of a team from Pendleton, Ore., and the Oregon team challenged him to another game. Backed by just a catcher, first baseman and shortstop, Feigner pitched a perfect game, winning 7-0.

At the height of his popularity, the team played at major league ballparks and he appeared on numerous national television shows, including "The Today Show," "I've Got a Secret" and "What's My Line?" On the "Tonight Show," he pitched blindfolded to Johnny Carson, who loosely held a bat over a home plate. Feigner hit Carson's bat on his first pitch.

"On the field, a master showman, brilliant pitcher, creator of the most popular softball attraction in history," said Jack Knight, a longtime friend and teammate. "And off the field, one tough son of a gun. He was a former Marine; everything was by the numbers. He made millions, and was generous to a fault."

In addition to his wife, Feigner is survived by a son, Eddie Jr., who played with the team for 25 years; daughters Shirley, Carol and Debbie; nine grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Flashback - May 5, 1955

By Hogan Chen, from BaseballLibrary.com

One of the most famous -- but least heralded -- members of the World Champion 1955 Dodgers was a mediocre lefty who appeared in just four games. The addition of Sandy Koufax to the roster had ended his chances of making the starting rotation, and within three years his big-league career would be over. But in his first major-league start on this day in 1955, Tom Lasorda matched a National League record -- with three wild pitches in one inning.

A brash southpaw with a decent curveball, Lasorda was brimming with confidence when he was tried out for the club in 1954. "I don't intent to let anyone push me off this club," announced Lasorda in the spring, "regardless of the record he has." But the Dodgers were already well-stocked with twenty-game winner Carl Erskine, proven gamers Russ Meyer, Billy Loes, Clem Labine and emerging stars Koufax and Johnny Podres. Lasorda's first start didn't come until the following May.

He blew it. After taking the mound in the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals, Lasorda walked leadoff batter Wally Moon and promptly threw a wild pitch to Bill Virdon. Shaken, he uncorked two more with Stan Musial at the plate to tie the National League record. Adding insult to injury, Moon took the opportunity to deliver a painful souvenir when the record-setting wild pitch rolled to the backstop, spiking Lasorda as the hurler covered home plate.

Despite the wounds to his leg and his psyche, Lasorda came back to strike out Musial and Rip Repulski and induced a groundout to end the inning, allowing only one run. But Dodgers manager Walter Alston had seen enough of Lasorda and pulled him out of the game. Lasorda's career as a starter with the Dodgers lasted one inning.

After his two forgettable seasons in Brooklyn, Lasorda bounced around the minor leagues and had one final major-league stint in Kansas City where he pitched in 18 games in 1956, starting 5 games and finishing 0-4. He had a career ERA of 6.52.

Shrugging off his ignominious debut, Lasorda gained fame in his second career with the Dodgers. After replacing his former manager in 1976, Lasorda led the club to seven division titles, four pennants, and two world championships -- a six-game victory over the Yankees in 1981 and a five-game upset over the Oakland Athletics in 1988.

Delegation to Promote Baseball Arrives in Ghana

ACCRA, Ghana -- A delegation headed by Hall of Famer Dave Winfield and former Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants manager Dusty Baker arrived in Ghana on Friday for a goodwill trip aimed at promoting the sport in a region where little is known about it.

The delegation also includes New York Mets general manager Omar Minaya, Major League Baseball vice president Bob Watson and former major leaguers Reggie Smith and Al Jackson.
"I believe it's never too late to begin introducing the American game [baseball] to our Ghanaian youth, and others in Africa just as we've done in soccer. It is never too late to learn anything," said Joshua Benamba, a final year university student.

The delegation is expected to donate baseball equipment, organize baseball clinics and visit schools in Accra. It also will tour the coast and meet with President John Kufour on Monday before returning to the United States the next day.

"I feel good about the purpose of this trip, which is also to promote a game that unites and strengthen people," Minaya said at the welcoming reception. "I feel the enthusiasm in these young guys to adopt the game. They are serious and we are ready to go to limits with them."
Daniel Morde, a soccer fan from Ghana, looks forward to the period when there will be Ghanaian baseball stars.

"We should not only regard it as a strange game, but who knows," Morde said. "It could sooner than later become a hard currency earning opportunity for us."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press