Saturday, December 30, 2006

Jim Kaat - The Last Active Original Washington Senator

Nickname: Kitty

LHP 1959-83 Senators , White Sox, Phillies, Yankees, Cardinals

Led League in wins in 1966
All-Star in 1962, 1966, 1975
Gold Glove in 1962-77

Regular Season:
4528.0 Innings Pitched
283-237 Won-Loss Record
3.45 ERA

League Championship Series:
8.0 Innings Pitched
0-1 Won-Loss Record
0.99 ERA

The square-shouldered, 6'4" Kaat is one of a handful of major leaguers to play in four decades. His 25 years of pitching was a major league record. The last active original Washington Senator, Kaat moved like a cat around the mound, winning 16 consecutive Gold Gloves. He won 18 games for the AL champion Twins in 1965, then had his best season in 1966, going 25-13 and leading the league with 41 starts, 19 complete games, and 304 innings. That year only one Cy Young trophy was awarded for both leagues, to the Dodgers' Sandy Koufax, but TSN selected Kaat as AL Pitcher of the Year.

Following five more seasons with victories in double figures, Kaat was 10-2 in 1972 when he sprained his left wrist and missed the remainder of the season. He was 11-12 in August 1973 (including a one-hitter at California on July 1) when, thinking Kaat's best days were behind him, the Twins sold him to the White Sox. In Chicago, Kaat was reunited with his former Minnesota pitching coach and mentor, Johnny Sain. In his two full seasons in the Chicago stable, Kaat won 41 games, often using a quick-pitch delivery.

Despite his 20-14 record with over 300 innings pitched in 1975, Kaat, age thirty-seven, was sent to the Phillies in a trade for Alan Bannister, Dick Ruthven, and Roy Thomas, the oldest of whom was twenty-four. In his first tour of duty in the NL, Kaat was 26-30 in three seasons. In May 1979, he was sold to the Yankees and, for the first time, relieved in more games than he started. He spent most of his final four ML years working out of the bullpen, and pitched in relief in four games of the 1982 World Series for St. Louis against Milwaukee.

A good all-around athlete, Kaat also hit 16 homers in his career, with a .185 lifetime batting average. He stands as the Twins' all-time winningest pitcher, with 189 victories. After retiring as a player, he was the Reds' pitching coach in 1986. He has also worked as a TV announcer for the Yankees. (RM) Rich Marrazi


Monday, December 25, 2006

He Uncovers a Rare Gem and Shares It with the Artist

By Jerry Crowe, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
December 25, 2006

Not everything was for sale this holiday season.

A Claremont man, for instance, discovered in an old box a rare, vintage recording of an immensely popular and critically acclaimed artist, spent hours digitizing it to improve the sound quality and transfer it to CD, ignored advice from friends and co-workers to auction it off to the highest bidder and happily handed it over to the company that signed the artist more than 50 years ago.

He did this, he said, out of respect for the artist and the artist's equally revered subject.

"I just wanted to do what was right," he said.

His name is Jim Governale and the recording is of word-painter extraordinaire Vin Scully's over-the-air description of the final inning of the Dodgers' 5-0 victory over the New York Mets on June 30, 1962, at Dodger Stadium, the only known surviving audio account of the first of Sandy Koufax's four no-hitters.

The recording was made by Governale's uncle, Dave Fantz, who was 14 years old and sensed Dodgers history in the making when he fed a tape into his father's reel-to-reel recorder. About 40 minutes long, it picks up in the bottom of the eighth inning and carries through Jerry Doggett's postgame interview with Koufax.

The Dodgers were thrilled to receive a copy last month.

"This is really, truly a gift he's giving to the club," team historian Mark Langill said. "The magnitude of this is monumental, historically and emotionally."

No commercial video recordings of Koufax's no-hitters are known to exist, and no audio accounts of his second and third no-hitters have surfaced. Scully's poetic description of the final half-inning of the great left-hander's perfect game against the Chicago Cubs in 1965 was preserved only because Scully phoned the radio station in the eighth inning and suggested that it record the ninth.

As Scully is well aware, Governale's recording could have wound up just as easily in an online auction as in the Dodgers' hands.

"Some of my canceled checks from 40 years ago are up on EBay," Scully said. "It's really a joke."

Up to his neck in holiday preparations — he has 16 grandchildren — Scully had not heard Governale's recording when contacted for this article.

But he planned to listen and was touched by the gesture.

"I have it and I will treasure it," he said of the recording. "What will be the highlight for me is that Jerry Doggett, whom I loved, is on the CD. I've heard me, so that's that. But to be able to hear Jerry is really precious for me."

The Dodgers, Langill said, plan to post excerpts of the recording on their website starting this week.

Governale, a 40-year-old father of four and an on-air personality at a Glendale radio station, discovered the recording 16 years ago, after his grandfather died. His grandmother gave him a box of old tapes, and a newspaper clipping on the outside of the box indicated that it contained a recording of a Koufax gem.

Though a self-described "huge Dodger fan," Governale also is a procrastinator. He said he didn't actually listen to the recording until about 10 years ago, when he brought it into work, cleaned it up and burned it onto a CD.

"It was a real special recording and one of the first things that came to my mind was, 'I really want Vin Scully to hear this,' " he said. "In the back of my mind, I thought, 'One of these days I've got to mail this to Vin Scully.' "

But he didn't realize it was a rarity until about five years ago, when he contacted Cooperstown and was told the Hall of Fame did not have a copy.

That's when Governale's friends and co-workers weighed in.

Sell, they said.

He thought about it.

Through a co-worker, he contacted a copyright lawyer.

In the end, though, he believed that profiting from the recording would be unseemly and diminish his joy in sharing it.

"I just wanted to do what was right by the Dodgers and Vin Scully and Sandy Koufax," he said. "It would mean more to me to honor the two of them by just doing the right thing, rather than just to sell out. To me, it seemed like a way of cheapening the recording and cheapening the find if I were to sell it."

His co-workers, he said, thought he was "a little nuts."

But his uncle, who had been consulted, was not surprised.

"That's just the way Jim is," Fantz said from Denver, where he is an executive at a healthcare company. "He talked to me about it and I think it took me about a nanosecond to agree with him. It's just a stroke of luck that I happened to turn on the recorder that day, and that the recording has preserved all this time."

Also fortunate, the Dodgers might add, was that it wound up in the hands of Jim Governale, a true-blue fan and an honorable man.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Home Is Where Heart Is For Wolf

New Dodger talks holidays in special Q&A session
12/23/2006; By Ken Gurnick;

Life is good for Randy Wolf. His elbow is healthy, he's got a new team and it happens to be in his backyard. The Calabasas resident, who grew up a Dodgers fan, is ready for the holiday season, as he explained to How will you spend Christmas?

Wolf: On Christmas Eve, the whole family goes to a local deli for dinner. On Christmas morning, my mom cooks breakfast and we exchange presents. Almost all of my family lives right around the San Fernando Valley. My mom lives near me. My brother Jim (a Major League umpire) lives in Arizona and he comes in with his wife. Later in the day, we go to my aunt's house in Valencia for Christmas Night dinner. What does Christmas mean to you?

Wolf: It's all about family. With our travel schedule, being away from home all the time, we don't get to see our family much during the year. Christmas is a great opportunity for all of us to get together and catch up and hang out and be a family and eat a lot. What is your best Christmas memory?

Wolf: This is a little weird, but something I always remember is that my brother drove a 280-Z and my mom gave him a key chain and she was really proud of it, except that it said 280 ZX and when my brother opened it, you could just tell that he just sank. It was the wrong car. We always video tape opening our presents and I can just see it replaying. It was just one of those moments you don't forget for some reason. What is the best Christmas gift you've ever given?

Wolf: In 2003, I got my mom a car, a Nissan Altima. It was really cool, because the car she was driving could barely drive. I put it in the driveway and the dealer put a big bow on the hood and she was really surprised. What is the best Christmas gift you've ever received?

Wolf: When I was 12 years old, I had a huge collection of baseball cards and I got an '87 Fleer set. I was so into collecting cards and that set was so cool. It was a great set to have. How old were you when you realized the truth about Santa Claus?

Wolf: I was really young, like 5, when I figured it out. I was thinking that with all the people in the world, how could one guy deliver everything? No way. And when I saw the cards on the gifts saying it was from Santa, it was in my mom's writing. Being from the valley, have you ever had a white Christmas?

Wolf: Not a white Christmas, but in '89, we had snow where we lived. My parents woke me up at 3 in the morning to see it. I knew if they were waking me at 3 in the morning, it had to be serious.

By Ken Gurnick, Courtesy of

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

American Memory at Library of Congress - A Real Treasure

This was taken from the American Memory site
at the Library of Congress, a real treasure of baseball history
Branch Rickey's Scouting Report on
Don Drysdale, 15 June 1954

Wesley Branch Rickey (1881-1965), major league baseball manager and executive, was associated over a long career with the St. Louis Browns, St. Louis Cardinals, Brooklyn Dodgers, and Pittsburgh Pirates. While with the Dodgers in 1947, as president, general manager, and co-owner, he brought Jackie Robinson (1919-1972) into the major leagues, the first black player to be admitted. For this Branch Rickey was hailed as "baseball's emancipator." Throughout his career he was known for his recognition of baseball talent and its subsequent development, especially through the farm system which he had pioneered. He joined the Pittsburgh organization relatively late in life, but on the evidence of his 1954 scouting report on the eighteen-year- old Don (Donald S.) Drysdale (1936-1993), his baseball instincts were as sharp as ever.

Rickey wrote that Drysdale had "a lot of artistry" and a fastball that was "really good" and "way above average." He deemed the young pitcher "a definite prospect." That Drysdale went on to meet and even exceed Rickey's opinion of him is beyond question. He never played for the Pirates, however. As the handwritten annotation at the bottom of the report indicates, Drysdale signed with the Dodgers, for whom his father was a scout. He then spent his entire major league career of fourteen years with the Dodgers franchise, first in Brooklyn and then in Los Angeles. He led the National League in strikeouts three years and won the Cy Young Award as the best pitcher in baseball in 1962. He was elected to baseball's Hall of Fame in 1984. Branch Rickey had preceded him there in 1967.

This was taken from the American Memory site
at the Library of Congress, a real treasure of baseball history

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bigger Than The Game

From Sports Illustrated
Nomar Garciaparra - Dodgers First Baseman

Nomar Garciaparra has famously rescued his teammates. His home run in the 10th inning against the Padres on Sept. 18 capped one of the greatest comebacks in Dodgers history. But his most significant rescue doesn't involve baseball. In October 2005 the former Red Sox shortstop was cleaning his Charlestown, Mass., condo overlooking Boston Harbor with his wife, Mia Hamm, and his uncle Victor Campos when they heard a splash and a scream. Garciaparra bolted to his balcony: A woman had fallen into the harbor.

Garciaparra sprinted to the marina. Meanwhile, another woman had fallen off the pier trying to help her friend. Garciaparra climbed a fence and jumped into the cold waters. When he reached the women, he took both in his arms and swam to a dock, where Campos pulled them out. "They were combative at first," Campos told the Chicago Tribune, "but when we pulled them up, one girl recognized [my nephew] and said, 'Are you Nomar?'"

Garciaparra, for his part, did not want a big deal made out of the rescue. "If I ever needed help," he said, "I would hope others would react the same way."
From Sports Illustrated

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Injuries During Cal Ripken's Streak

During Cal's Streak there has been tons of injuries. Here are some of the stranger ones.

This is from an article by Knight-Ridder Tribune News Service.

In what must be considered the quintessential modern athlete injury, Tony Gwynn missed a couple of games after he smashed his thumb in the door of his luxury car. While going to the bank.

Rickey Henderson missed several games because of frost- bite. In August.

Vince Coleman missed the 1985 World Series when he got rolled up in the tarp machine.

Pascual Perez missed a start in Atlanta when he circled the city for more than two hours searching for the exit ramp from Highway 285 to Fulton County Stadium.

Kevin Mitchell strained a muscle while vomiting.

Twins farmhand David Foster was knocked out for the season when a lightning strike through a phone line zapped him while he was making a call.

Pitcher Steve Foster injured his shoulder knocking over milk bottles during a segment with Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show."

Wade Boggs missed several games after straining his back while pulling on his cowboy boots.

Paul Molitor dislocated a knuckle when it got stuck in another player's glove.

Milwaukee's Dave Nilsson missed part of this season with Ross River Fever, a mosquito-borne virus that annually affects 200 out of Australia's 17 million residents.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan required dozens of stitches when he was scouting a game and a bat flew out of the hitter's hands, sailed through a space in the backstop and struck him in the forehead.

Pitcher Jeff Juden had a start early in the 1994 season pushed back after getting an infection from a tattoo.

Outfielder Bret Barberie missed a game when he accidentally rubbed chili juice in his eye.

Ken Griffey Jr. missed a game after his protective cup slipped and pinched a testicle.

Doc Gooden missed a start when Coleman accidentally hit him with a golf club in the Mets' clubhouse.

Mark Portugal missed a start because of food poisoning from eating bad mahi-mahi.

Pitcher Steve Sparks dislocated his shoulder while tearing a phone book in half.

Reliever Larry Anderson strained a rib muscle getting out of a Jacuzzi.

Pitcher Ted Power pulled a hamstring jumping off the bullpen bench to join a brawl.

Kent Hrbek missed the final 10 games of the 1990 season when he sprained an ankle while wrestling with a clubhouse attendant.

Florida's Randy Veres hurt his hand pounding on a hotel room wall trying to get the people in the next room to quiet down.

Dennis Martinez injured his arm tossing his luggage onto the team bus. He was diagnosed with Samsonitis.

Chris Brown missed a game with a strained eyelid after sleeping on an eye a funny way.

Former Seattle shortstop Rey Quinones was unavailable as a pinch-hitter because he was in the clubhouse playing Nintendo.

Terry Harper (OF-Atlanta) Injured his shoulder after giving another player a high five.

Greg Harris (RP-Texas) injured his shoulder trying to flick sunflower seeds into the stands from the Bullpen.

Baltimore's Mark Smith was hurt when he stuck his hand in an air conditioner to see why it wasn't working properly. As if the Orioles would let Ripken test the air conditioner?

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Roy and Roxie Campenella Foundation

July 15, 2006

Ebbets Field may have been a more appropriate locale but Yankee Stadium will do as Roy Campanella and three other big bats became immortalized on postage. Campy, as he was known to teammates and fans alike, joined Mickey Mantle, Hank Greenberg and Mel Ott as the four were immortalized as the Postmaster General, joined by the Hall of Famers’ family members, dedicated the “Baseball Sluggers” commemorative stamps and stamped postal cards. The ceremony took place before a sellout crowd of more than 54 thousand.

Campanella (1921-1993) was the first black catcher in the history of Major League Baseball. Known for his years with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Campanella is remembered as a talented all-around player who hit 242 home runs during his 10 year Major League career, was catcher in five World Series, and named MVP three times.

Born in Philadelphia, Campanella began his career during his teens by playing ball with a semiprofessional Negro League team, the Bacharach Giants. He played for the Baltimore Elite Giants from 1937 to 1945, and was considered one of the best catchers in the Negro Leagues. He also played briefly in the Mexican League.

Campanella began playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1948. During his 1953 MVP season, he hit 41 home runs, chalked up 142 RBIs, scored 103 runs, and batted .312. It was considered one of the best seasons ever recorded by a catcher. With Campanella, the Dodgers won five National League pennants between 1949 and 1956 and won the World Series in 1955.

In 1958 as the Dodgers were preparing to move west to Los Angeles, Campanella was involved in an automobile accident that left Campy paralyzed. Despite the fact that his playing career was over, Campy continued to work for decades as a coach, behind the scenes and in community relations for the Dodgers in Los Angeles. In 1969 he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

He and his wife Roxie were committed to education and were proud to support their five children through college. In 1991, two years before he died, Campanella and his wife founded The Roy and Roxie Campanella Physical Therapy Scholarship Foundation, which provides support for those living with paraplegia and funds scholarships for students who pursue degrees in physical therapy.

“Dad exemplified courage and athletic talent,” said Joni Roan, one of Campanella’s five children. “Our family is very grateful for this recognition that pays tribute to our father’s life and career. Now his life can be celebrated by millions of new fans.”