Sunday, July 30, 2006

Buck O'Neil

Courtesy of

The first black coach in the major leagues was John "Buck" O'Neil of the Chicago Cubs.

Signed by Chicago as a scout in 1956, O'Neil, who managed the famed Kansas City Monarchs from 1948 to 1955, made major league history in 1962 when he donned his coach's uniform. O'Neil is currently a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame's Veterans Committee.

[Editor's note: Buck O'Neil will speak on behalf of the deceased inductees to the Hall of Fame at today's ceremonies]

Friday, July 28, 2006

Exhibit to Celebrate Negro League

By The Pittsburg Tribune-Review
Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Pirates on Monday will unveil a unique, permanent exhibit at PNC Park which pays tribute to the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords.

The display, located behind the left-field gate entrance, will include a theater, statues and interactive features. It will highlight some of the greatest players -- such as Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige and Buck Leonard -- from the era of segregated baseball.

"It's about tapping into baseball history and Negro Leagues history, and how it really parallels the history of Pittsburgh," Pirates spokesman Brian Warecki said.

Read the entire article here

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Baseball's `Rodeo' Balm

Baseball's `Rodeo' Balm Gives Pitchers Homespun Blister Remedy
July 14 (Bloomberg) -- Back in his days as a rodeo cowboy, Los Angeles Dodgers trainer Stan Johnston mixed some items in his medicine chest and came up with a balm that helped heal the burns and blisters on his hands from riding bulls and roping steers.

He kept the recipe, and now ``Stan's Rodeo Ointment'' mends professional athletes. Dodgers pitcher Derek Lowe, whose blisters would cause him to throw blood-stained baseballs when he was with the Boston Red Sox, says the black, tarry goo solved his chronic problem.

``It saved me from just having to make it through a game,'' Lowe, 33, said in an interview. ``Now talent can dictate a game again, not how long you can hold on and endure the pain.''
Johnston, who was a National League trainer at Major League Baseball's All-Star Game on July 11, has applied for a patent on his potion -- a combination of Polymyxin B Suflate and other ingredients. He says he's aiming to convince a pharmaceutical company to sell it as an over-the-counter medication.

``It heals things faster, any kinds of cuts, blisters, abrasions,'' Johnston, 46, said in an interview.
He already has believers. Most other Major League Baseball teams use it, along with the Houston Texans of the National Football League and the University of South Carolina football team. He said he expects to receive a patent July 20.

$35 a Tube

For now, he gets it made by SportPharm, a pharmacy based in Torrance, California, that supplies sports teams. It costs $35 for a 30-gram (1-ounce) tube, according to SportPharm President Robert Nickell.

The ointment is excluded from the requirement for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval because it's compounded by a pharmacy with substances that already have passed the agency's standards, said SportPharm's head pharmacist, Mike Pavlovich.

Johnston concocted the formula during his years in professional rodeo from 1974-1983. No ordinary cowboy, he had a bachelor's degree in sports medicine from Western Montana College in Dillon, which he attended on a rodeo scholarship. After he left the rodeo, he earned a master's degree in the field from Montana State University in Bozeman in 1985.

After suffering cuts and burns in the rodeo, Johnston used his expertise and combined Polymyxin B Suflate, Bacitracin Zinc and Povidone-Iodine, and applied it to his hands to toughen the skin.

`Bit of Force'

``The pressure of the rope and heat from the rope would tear off the skin on my riding hand through my leather glove,'' Johnston said. ``You are riding a 1,600-, 1,800-pound animal. It would put a little bit of force on your hands.''

Johnston began using the substance on baseball players when he joined the Dodgers as a trainer in the team's minor-league system in 1985. As players moved to other organizations, word spread.

South Carolina athletic trainer Rod Walters orders about 10 tubes a year for the football team and uses it to heal blisters on players' feet and quarterbacks' fingers.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Bobby Bonds' Grand Entrance

Courtesy of
Candlestick Park / June 25, 1968
By Nathan Hale

1999 was supposedly the Year of the Grand Slam, but it was 31 years ago -- during the Year of the Pitcher -- when one of the more remarkable bases-loaded blasts was hit.

Bobby Bonds, a 22-year old outfielder just called up by the San Francisco Giants, announced his arrival in grand fashion, clearing the bases in the sixth inning with a homer off Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Jack Purdin. The hit came in Bonds' third career at-bat and made him the first player in 70 years to hit a grand slam in his first major-league game.

Bonds arrived in San Francisco hotter than a pistol, leading the Pacific Coast League with a .367 batting average before his call-up from Triple-A Phoenix. In his debut, he joined a powerful Giants lineup that included Willie McCovey, Willie Mays and Jim Ray Hart. McCovey had just been voted the starting first baseman for the NL All-Stars by his fellow players on account of his .307 average (eighth best) and league-leading 18 HR and 48 RBI. Mays finished nine votes behind Hank Aaron and his .236 BA in the voting for outfielders despite having 12 homers; Hart also stood among the leaders, tied for second with 14 round-trippers.

The Dodgers-Giants rivalry wasn't much to speak of in 1968. On this night, fans saw a face-off between two pitchers who would share the league lead at season's end with 18 losses apiece: Ray Sadecki and Claude Osteen. Sadecki emerged victorious, racking up 10 strikeouts and allowed just two hits in the Giants' 9-0 victory.

Osteen did not fare as well, allowing six hits, three walks and hitting Bonds with a pitch before giving way to Purdin in the sixth. Purdin was in the midst of the best season of his four-year career, finishing the year with a 3.05 ERA. But Purdin wasn't so reliable this time, and Bonds made him pay with a grand slam into the Candlestick Park seats.

BONDS' HOMER SIGNALED THE ARRIVAL of a legitimate offensive threat. Never one to wait for a home run, Bonds would set a major-league record (broken by Rickey Henderson in 1988) with 30 career leadoff homers. He would achieve 30 homers and 30 steals in a season a record five times (matched by his son Barry in 1997) but consistently struck out at an alarming pace. At his best he smacked 39 homers and swiped 43 bases in 1973; at his worst he whiffed an unprecedented 189 times in 1970.

However, no player, Bonds included, has ever matched the clutch hitting and good fortune of Bill Duggleby, who remains the only man ever to hit a grand slam in his first at-bat. The right-handed pitcher, who would later come to be known as "Frosty Bill" due to his less-than-warm-relationship with teammates and a tendency to wear dark suits in the summer, found the bases juiced when he stepped to the plate for the first time as a member of the Philadelphia Nationals on April 21, 1898. He returned to the dugout after a quick circuit of the bases to make him the only player ever to hit a grand slam in his first major-league at bat.

Duggleby finished the 1898 season with just one homer and six RBI. He would go without another round tripper until 1904 but finished his career with six dingers in eight years. His record on the mound was an inauspicious 93-100, and he led the NL in home runs allowed with 10 in 1905.

SINCE THEN, ONLY TWO ROOKIES HAVE come close to matching Bonds and Duggleby, both putting up a four-spot for their first big league hit. In 1982, Seattle's Orlando Mercado entered the majors with a bases-clearing shot off Steve Comer. And less than two weeks after Fernando Tatis became the first man to swat two grannies in an inning in April 1999, Red Sox rookie catcher Creigton Gubanich knocked a grand salami of his own off a first-inning offering from Oakland's Jimmy Haynes on May 3. (Gubanich had gone hitless in three at-bats in his major-league debut on April 22.)

A typical good-field, no-hit catcher, Mercado lasted eight seasons in the majors despite a meager .199 lifetime batting average and only seven career home runs. So what's due in the books for Gubanich remains to be seen. Perhaps the best thing he's got going for him is that he is one of two graduates of Phoenixville High School in Pennsylvania currently playing catcher in the majors. The other is Mike Piazza.

Gubanich's first-hit grand slam almost didn't happen. With two outs, Oakland A's third baseman Olmedo Saenz dropped a pop foul by Reggie Jefferson, who subsequently walked to load the bases for Gubanich. Bonds enjoyed similar good fortune. Had he debuted a day later he would have found not Osteen and Purdin on the mound, but big Don Drysdale toeing the rubber.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Reuss Takes Stroll Down Memory Lane

From the Los Angeles Times
By Steve Henson
Times Staff Writer
July 16, 2006

ST. LOUIS — Odd how a new building can evoke memories from 50 years ago. St. Louis native Jerry Reuss strolled around Busch Stadium marveling at how the gleaming structure brought back "the smell of stale beer and cigars from the days of straw hats."

The former pitcher is a white-haired 57-year-old Dodgers radio broadcaster these days, but he vividly recalled how he felt as a 7-year-old attending his first Cardinals game at Sportsman's Park."

I looked out at the field from the reserved level and saw that perfectly manicured green grass," he said. "At that moment I knew I wanted baseball to be part of my life forever."

Half a century later, Reuss toured the new stadium with a digital camera, taking pictures of architecture that reminded him of Sportsman's Park and old Busch Stadium, and pausing just to breathe in the damp Midwestern summer air.

Could it have been nearly 40 years ago when he was a local high school hotshot going to $5 Teen Night games? It wasn't long before he was sitting in the Busch Stadium dugout, about to make his debut at 20 with the Cardinals, who had made the left-hander a second-round draft pick.

"I happened to look up at those seats I'd sat in just two years earlier and thought, 'Am I the luckiest guy in the world or what?' " he said.

Read the rest of the article at

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Baseball's Female Pioneer

'Kim Ng with Nomar Garciaparra (CBS)'
Kim Ng Wants To Become
The Big Leagues' First General Manager

VERO BEACH, Fla., July 8, 2006

(CBS) Baseball players have been called the Boys of Summer, but for the Los Angeles Dodgers, it's not just the guys swinging for the fences.
As CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason reports, the team has a rising star on the team who's breaking gender barriers.
If you ask Kim Ng if she thinks she's a pioneer, she says, "No, I don't – only when people remind me."
Ng is the Dodger's Assistant General Manager, and the top prospect to become the first female General Manager in Major League Baseball history.
"You know, I've loved sports all my life but never really thought that this was a possibility," she says.
Ng's career began on the high school softball team in Ridgewood, New Jersey. She broke-in to the majors as in intern with the Chicago White Sox and rose to assistant G.M. with the New York Yankees, before sliding into L.A.'s front office.
Now the 37-year old helps negotiate player trades and millions of dollars in contracts.
Ng says she definitely wants to become a general manger, so much so that she's "willing to wait as long as it takes."
There are 30 general manager jobs in baseball, but a woman has never run the on-field operations of a ball club in the big leagues. The same goes for the NBA, the NFL and the NHL.
In the past, the argument had always been that you had to have played on a professional team to run a professional team. But the recent success of young General Managers – like Boston's Theo Epstein, who never played professionally – has sparked demand for gifted minds regardless of experience or gender.
"It's going to take an owner willing to stick his or her neck out," says sports writer Steve Henson, "Maybe the owner will be a woman – we've had a couple in baseball – to go ahead and make that first hire."
Read the entire article at

Friday, July 07, 2006

Satchel Paige - Born 100 Years Ago Today

Satchel Paige 1906-1982
RHP 1948-49, 51-53, 65 Indians, Browns, Athletics

IP 476
W-L 28-31
ERA 3.29

» May 1, 1926: Satchel Paige, 19 years old, makes his debut in the Negro Southern League, pitching Chattanooga to a 5–4 win over Birmingham.

» July 4, 1934: Satchel Paige pitches a 4–0 no-hitter against the Negro League Homestead Grays in Pittsburgh, with only a walk and an error spoiling a perfect game. Paige then comes in relief in game 2 and is tagged with the loss. In his next start, Satch will shut out the host Chicago American Giants 5–0 in 10 innings on July 8. In Paige's autobiography, he erroneously recalls that he threw the no-hitter in Pittsburgh, then drove to Chicago and beat the Giants on the same day, but researcher Dave Marasco corrected Satch's story.

» September 9, 1934: In one of the most memorable games in the Negro League history, Pittsburgh Crawfords' Satchel Paige duals the Philadelphia Stars' Slim Jones to a 1-1 stalemate, called after 9 innings due to darkness. Paige strikes out 12, and Jones, 9, before 30,000 at Yankee Stadium.

» May 31, 1942: Before 22,000 at Griffith Stadium, Satchel Paige pitches five innings to defeat the Dizzy Dean All-Stars, 8–1. Dean pitches just the first inning, giving up three hits and two runs. Private Cecil Travis plays 3B. The game a week earlier, in which Paige won 3–1 at Wrigley Field, drew 29,000. Judge Landis will prohibit a scheduled July 4th matchup because the first two games outdrew ML games.

» July 21, 1942: At Forbes Field, the Monarchs (Negro League) Satchel Paige performs one of his legendary feats. Years earlier, Paige told Josh Gibson that one day he would strike him out with the bases loaded. With a man on, two outs, and Gibson third up, Paige walks the next two Grays to bring Gibson up. Satchel tells the crowd what is going to happen. "Three fastballs, Josh," Paige tells him, then proceeds to strike him out.

» August 2, 1942: At Yankee Stadium, Satchel Paige and Hilton Smith combine to pitch a one-hit shutout over the New York Cubans (Negro League). The Monarchs win, 9–0. In the first game of the twinbill, the Philadelphia Stars conquer the Baltimore Elite Giants, 7–4. Henry Spearman's grand slam sparks the Philley attack.

» September 14, 1942: In the Negro League WS, Leon Day, pitching for the Homestead Grays, fans 12 in beating Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Monarchs 4-1 in Game 4. The Monarchs protest, contending that Day and 3 other players were picked up from other teams. Day's win is disallowed, and the Monarchs sweep the 4 games.

» July 7, 1948: The Indians stun the baseball world by signing Satchel Paige, fabulous veteran Negro League pitcher. The move is ridiculed by some as a Bill Veeck publicity stunt, and A.G. Spink in The Sporting News editorializes, "Veeck has gone too far in his quest for publicity. . . . To sign a hurler at Paige's age is to demean the standards of baseball in the big circuits." The 42-year-old Paige will answer the critics in tomorrow, getting a relief decision in a 8–6 win over New York in a DH sweep. He will finish at 6–1. Paige is the oldest player to debut in the majors, but not the first 40-year-old: Chuck Hostetler in 1944 was 40.

» July 13, 1948: Before 51,013 at Comiskey, Satchel Paige makes his 3rd appearance and 1st start and allows five hits in nine innings to beat the Sox, 5–0. Teammate Larry Doby has two hits and two stolen bases.

» July 25, 1948: In Boston, the other DiMaggio makes two spectacular catches against the Indians as well as homering off Satchel Paige. The Red Sox beat Cleveland, 3–0 for their 15th win in 16 games. Joe Dobson tops Steve Gromek to leave the Sox percentage points ahead of the 2nd place A's. Cleveland and New York are each one 1/2 games back. With the Braves in 1st place, it is the first time since 1916 that both Boston teams are at the top spot.

» August 3, 1948: Before 72,434 in Cleveland, ancient Satchel Paige makes his first start pitching seven innings against the Senators, before being relieved by Eddie Klieman. Paige picks up the win, 5–3, which moves Cleveland (56-38) into a four-way tie for first.

» August 8, 1948: In Cleveland, 73,484 fans watch the Indians and Yankees square off for two games. Trailing in the opener, an ailing Lou Boudreau hits a bases loaded pinch single in the 7th to tie the game, and Satchel Paige wins it in relief, 8–6. Steve Gromek goes seven innings in the nitecap to give the Indians a 2–1 win over rookie Bob Porterfield, making his ML debut. The Indians and the A's are now tied for 1st (60-39), with the Yankees two games back and Red Sox in 4th place, two 1/2 out.

» August 20, 1948: The Indians draw record 78,382 for the largest crowd to attend a night game. The Indians go on to beat the Chicago White Sox, 1–0, at Memorial Stadium as Satchel Paige blanks the opposition on three hits for the 4th consecutive shutout by Cleveland hurlers. Bill Wight is the hard-luck loser. Besides Paige, Gene Bearden, Sam Zoldak, and Bob Lemon fired shutouts.

» February 9, 1951: The St. Louis Browns sign Satchel Paige, 45. He had been out of ML baseball since last pitching for the Indians in 1949.

» July 17, 1951: After pitching for Bill Veeck in Cleveland in 1948, Satchel Paige rejoins him with the St. Louis Browns.

» August 29, 1951: The Yankees pick on the lowly Browns for a 15–2 win at Sportsman's Park. Mickey Mantle has four RBIs including a three run homer in the 9th off Satchel Paige. Ned Garver (15-9) is the loser.

» September 9, 1951: The Indians use three 9th-inning bunts to edge the Browns, 4–3. Hegan leads off with a bunt that rolls foul, but then drives a single past the pulled-in 3B Jack Maguire. Two more bunts and a sac fly give Mike Garcia his 19th win. Reliever Satchel Paige takes the loss.

» May 26, 1952: In a Memorial Day doubleheader in St. Louis, 13,000 fans at Sportsman's Park cheer as the Browns sweep two from Detroit. Satchel Paige picks up a save in the opener and then wins his 4th game in the nitecap.

» June 30, 1952: Satchel Paige is named to the All-Star team.

» August 6, 1952: St. Louis Browns Satchel Paige, 46, beats Virgil "Fire" Trucks 1-0 in 12 innings.

» May 28, 1953: Bob Elliott drives in six runs—4 on a grand slam—to lead the Browns to a 7–5 win over the Indians. Satchel Paige picks up his 2nd save in two nights.

» December 23, 1953: Dodgers 2B Jim "Junior" Gilliam easily wins National League Rookie of the Year honors over Harvey Haddix and Ray Jablonski. Satchel Paige remains unclaimed on the American League waiver list.

» March 14, 1956: Satchel Paige signs with the Birmingham Black Barons (Negro League) at age 50 to play and manage.

» August 7, 1956: The largest crowd in minor league history (57,000) see Miami's 50-year-old Satchel Paige beat Columbus (IL) in the Orange Bowl.

» September 5, 1960: The first-place Pirates split with the Braves, winning 9–7 before losing, 7–1. The Bucs rout Spahn in the opener scoring seven runs in the 4th after the Braves had knocked out starter Bob Friend. Bob Buhl is the winner in the nitecap, scattering seven hits. Chuck Cottier has three doubles and three RBIs to back Buhl. Haddix is the loser and gives way to Diomedes Olivo, who makes his ML debut in relief. At age 41, or thereabouts, Olivo is the oldest rookie in ML history except for Satchel Paige. The IL MVP pitches two runless innings.

» August 24, 1961: Ageless Satchel Paige signs with Portland (PCL). In 25 innings for the Beavers, he will have a 2.88 ERA.

» September 25, 1965: Another Kansas City publicity stunt makes the great Satchel Paige baseball's oldest performer. At 59, Paige hurls the first three innings, garners one strikeout, and allows just one hit, to Carl Yastrzemski in his first ML appearance since 1953. The Red Sox jump on reliever Don Mossi for a 5–2 win.

» June 21, 1966: Satchel Paige makes his final pro pitching appearance, going the first two innings for Peninsula (Carolina L) against Greensboro. Satch gives up two runs. As noted by historian Bill Deane, Peninsula's regular catcher, Johnny Bench, took the night off.

» August 11, 1968: Satchel Paige, 62 years or so old, and needing 158 days on a ML payroll to qualify for a pension, is signed by the Braves. He will not pitch a regular-season game for Atlanta and will become a coach on September 30th and stay for another year.

» February 9, 1971: Former Negro Leagues P Satchel Paige is nominated for the Hall of Fame. On June 10th the Hall's new Special Committee on the Negro Leagues will formally select Paige for induction.

» August 9, 1971: The Indians score eight runs in the 5th inning to beat the Cubs 13–5 in the annual Hall of Fame game. Earlier, the Hall had inducted Satchel Paige and the seven others selected in January.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Mickey Cochrane

Gordon Stanley Cochrane
Black Mike
Induction Information
Elected to Hall of Fame by Baseball Writers in 1947, Player 128 votes on 161 ballots 79.5%

Hall of Fame plaque for Mickey Cochrane
Born: April 6, 1903, in Bridgewater, Massachusetts
Died: June 28, 1962, in Lake Forest, Illinois
ML Debut: 4/14/1925
Primary Position: Catcher
Bats: L Throws: R
Played For: Philadelphia Athletics (1925-33), Detroit Tigers (1934-37)
Primary Team: Philadelphia Athletics
Managed: Detroit Tigers (1934-38)

Post-Season: 1929 World Series, 1930 World Series, 1931 World Series, 1934 World Series, 1935 World Series
Awards: All-Star 1934-1935; American League Most Valuable Player 1928, 1934

Bio Mickey Cochrane batted .320 during his 13-year career and excelled behind the plate, but he also possessed that special trait - a fierce, competitive spirit - which gave him exceptional leadership qualities.

"Black Mike" was the spark of the Athletics' pennant-winning teams of 1929, '30 and '31, hitting .331, .357 and .349, respectively. As player-manager for the Detroit Tigers from 1934 to 1937, he directed them to a league championship in 1934 and the World Series title in '35. A beaning in 1937 ended his playing career.

Quote "There were few things as exciting as watching somebody trying to get in there on a close play with Cochrane. Home plate was his, you see. You had to take it away from him. Tough? Just the same as a piece of flint." — Doc Cramer

Did You Know... that Mickey Cochrane hit a home run in the last official at bat of his major league career?

Hall of Fame Teammate: Lefty Grove

Monday, July 03, 2006

Same Time Next Haircut

From The Los Angeles Times
Inside Baseball
Tim Brown; July 2, 2006

As a young ballplayer with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Manny Mota would wait for his haircuts until the schedule brought him to New York.

Mota knew a barber near the corner of 95th and Amsterdam. The shop owner also was from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, and Mota would have his cabdriver stop on the way to Shea Stadium.

The ritual blended necessity and a taste of his homeland, because other Dominicans, including children from nearby apartments, often filled the little shop.

One boy in particular adored baseball. So, when Mota arrived, the owner would call the boy, who would rush over to shake the ballplayer's hand and talk about his other favorites — Juan Marichal and the Alou brothers.

"He knew the schedule," Mota recalled. "Every time I'd go there, he'd come to see me."

Thirty-five years later, Mota attended a ceremony in San Francisco honoring Marichal. He was invited to sit beside Dominican President Leonel Fernandez.

"Oh, no," Mota told Fernandez. "Are you sure you want me to sit with you? There are a lot of important people here."Fernandez insisted, then asked Mota if he remembered 1965, the barbershop in Manhattan, the children who'd run to greet him, the one boy in particular who would never miss a visit.

"Yes," Mota said, "I remember my little friend." Fernandez said, "Manny, that boy, that was me."

Fernandez and Mota were together again June 24, when Fernandez threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Dodger Stadium.

"He's an idol," Fernandez said of Mota. "He's a hero in the Dominican."