Friday, May 30, 2008

MLB Bridges Gap Via Ceremonial Draft

05/30/2008 10:35 AM ET
By Justice B. Hill /

Dave Winfield doesn't want credit for the idea, but he can hardly escape getting credit for it since everybody else says Winfield came up with it.

And the idea is one that people across baseball are praising.

Winfield proposed having a "ceremonial" draft on June 5 for surviving players from the Negro Leagues. The draft would be a way for Major League Baseball to connect its past with its present, he said.

"You would truly bring the past into the present," said Winfield, a Hall of Famer and vice president with the Padres. "You would change these people's lives. You would change baseball history -- American history.

"I thought it would be poignant, timely and appropriate, and I thought we could do it."

So did people in the Commissioner's Office.

Winfield brought his initial idea to Commissioner Bud Selig and Jimmie Lee Solomon, baseball's executive vice president. The three of them tweaked it a bit before turning the idea into a plan that would accomplish what Winfield had hoped for: saluting those black and Latino ballplayers who had been excluded from the Majors because of their color.

As part of its 2008 First-Year Player Draft, each team will select a player whose career encompassed the Negro Leagues and other leagues. Participation in the Draft was voluntary, Winfield said, but all 30 clubs will participate as Major League Baseball keeps alive the legacy of "black baseball."

BaseballChannel.TV will stream the Negro League Draft live at 1 p.m. ET, and the opening rounds of this year's First-Year Player Draft will follow at 2 p.m. Both events will be held at The Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla.

Fans are encouraged to attend. Admission is free, with seating available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Those in attendance will see firsthand what Winfield and Solomon called the continuation of baseball's effort to fix a historical wrong.

Solomon cited other examples:

• The Commissioner's Office provided the money for a research project that led to the induction of 17 Negro League ballplayers and executives into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

• Major League Baseball has partnered with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City on several projects, including fundraisers for educational programs.

• Baseball has organized the Civil Rights Game as a tribute to the role the sport has played as a social force in America.

Still, the game's history of exclusion -- the wrongs of segregation -- often haunts baseball, Solomon said. What is adequate redress for its sordid past?

Solomon didn't know, but for Major League Baseball to do nothing didn't seem just, either.

"You've got to make peace with your past -- to draw a line in the sand and say, 'No more,'" Solomon said. "Here is evidence that we recognize that this class of people were not treated fairly."

Winfield said he'd been weighing ways to honor Negro Leaguers for many years, and he took serious stock in finding the appropriate recognition in 2006.

He said the death that year of Buck O'Neil, the iconic chairman of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and baseball's greatest ambassador, proved the flashpoint.

O'Neil, Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, Satchel Paige, Monte Irvin, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks and their Negro League contemporaries had done much for baseball, Winfield said. Baseball needed to do something for the survivors who played alongside these stars.

"The game has experienced a lot of success, and there were some people who just were not fully embraced by the family of Major League Baseball," Winfield said. "I thought we should before they passed on."

At the Disney sports complex, Negro Leaguers like Joe Scott, Neale "Bobo" Henderson, James "Red" Moore, Cecil "Minute Man" Kaiser, Emilio "Millito" Navarro, John "Mule" Miles and Mamie "Peanut" Johnson, a female pitcher, will be drafted.

The spotlight will be on all 30 players as ballclubs extend an official invitation to each of them to join baseball's family. All of them have been invited to the event itself.

"It's good to embrace these people as much as you can by the family of baseball," Winfield said. "I think it will be a great day."

Winfield hopes, however, the spotlight will remain on these players for more than one "great" day. He'd like each team to welcome these Negro Leaguers beyond the Draft. He'd like to see these former ballplayers involved in meaningful ways with the teams that draft them.

"It's not just a promotional day," Winfield said. "The event has historical implications that border in importance on rivaling the induction of the 17 Negro Leaguers into the Hall in 2006."

Justice B. Hill is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Who is eligible for the Hall of Fame
in the next five years?

Here's a partial list of players who are eligible for consideration in coming years:

2009: Steve Avery, Jay Bell, Mike Bordick, John Burkett, David Cone, Ron Gant, Mark Grace, Rickey Henderson, Todd Hundley, Orlando Merced, Charles Nagy, Denny Neagle, Jesse Orosco, Dean Palmer, Dan Plesac, Rick Reed, Greg Vaughn, Mo Vaughn, Matt Williams.

2010: Roberto Alomar, Kevin Appier, Andy Ashby, Ellis Burks, Dave Burba, Andres Galarraga, Pat Hentgen, Mike Jackson, Eric Karros, Ray Lankford, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mark McLemore, Shane Reynolds, David Segui, Robin Ventura, Fernando Vina, Todd Zeile.

2011: Wilson Alvarez, Carlos Baerga, Jeff Bagwell, Bret Boone, Kevin Brown, Cal Eldred, John Franco, Juan Gonzalez, Marquis Grissom, Bobby Higginson, Charles Johnson, Al Leiter, Tino Martinez, Raul Mondesi, Jose Offerman, John Olerud, Rafael Palmeiro, Paul Quantrill, Steve Reed, Kirk Rueter, Rey Sanchez, Benito Santiago, B.J. Surhoff, Ugueth Urbina, Ismael Valdez, Larry Walker, Dan Wilson.

2012: Pedro Astacio, David Bell, Jeromy Burnitz, Vinny Castilla, Scott Erickson, Carl Everett, Jeff Fassero, Alex S. Gonzalez, Danny Graves, Rick Helling, Dustin Hermanson, Jose Hernandez, Brian Jordan, Matt Lawton, Bill Mueller, Terry Mulholland, Jeff Nelson, Phil Nevin, Brad Radke, Joe Randa, Tim Salmon, Ruben Sierra, J.T. Snow, Jose Vizcaino, Bernie Williams, Eric Young.

2013: Sandy Alomar Jr., Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Jeff Cirillo, Royce Clayton, Roger Clemens, Jeff Conine, Steve Finley, Julio Franco, Shawn Green, Ryan Klesko, Mike Lieberthal, Kenny Lofton, Jose Mesa, Damian Miller, Eric Milton, Russ Ortiz, Neifi Perez, Mike Piazza, Reggie Sanders, Aaron Sele, Mike Stanton, Todd Walker, David Wells, Rondell White, Bob Wickman, Woody Williams.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Minor leaguer traded for 10 baseball bats

Associated Press Writer
May 23, 2008
From yahoo sports

McALLEN, Texas (AP)—During three years in the low minors, John Odom never really made a name for himself.

That sure changed this week—he’s the guy who was traded for a bunch of bats.

“I don’t really care,” he said Friday. “It’ll make a better story if I make it to the big leagues.”

For now, Odom is headed to the Laredo Broncos of the United League. They got him Tuesday from the Calgary Vipers of the Golden Baseball League for a most unlikely price: 10 Prairie Sticks Maple Bats, double-dipped black, 34-inch, C243 style.

“They just wanted some bats, good bats—maple bats,” Broncos general manager Jose Melendez said. According to the Prairie Sticks Web site, their maple bats retail for $69 each, discounted to $65.50 for purchases of six to 11 bats.

“It will be interesting to see what 10 bats gets us,” Melendez said.

The Canadian team signed Odom about a month ago, but couldn’t get the 26-year-old righty into the country. It seems Odom had a “minor” but unspecified criminal record that wasn’t revealed to immigration officials before they scanned his passport, Vipers president Peter Young said.

Odom said the charge stemmed from a fight he was in at age 17. Although he thought it had been expunged from his record, it popped up during immigration.

Odom spent hundreds of dollars driving to the Canadian border and staying at a Montana hotel while the matter was sorted out. He then drove to Laredo after the trade.

Originally from Atlanta, Odom was drafted late by the San Francisco Giants in 2003. He pitched 38 games, all in Class A, from 2004-06, and was released by the organization this spring.

Laredo intends to activate Odom on Monday and have him make his first start Wednesday.

Odom said he was supposed to be traded for Laredo’s best hitter. But when that player balked at moving to Calgary, the bats entered the deal.

Laredo offered cash for Odom, but Young said that was “an insult.”

The bat trade wasn’t the first time Calgary came up with some creative dealmaking. The Vipers once tried to acquire a pitcher for 1,500 blue seats when they were renovating their stadium, Young said.