Saturday, June 27, 2009

My Dear Friends of Dodgertown West

My Dear Friends of DTW,

It is with great regret that I am announcing my retirement from this great thing we call DTW.

I was informed today that my cancer has spread to my bones and that at best I have 2 months left and will soon be having hospice care.

The fantastic people I have met and the friendships I have formed have brought me great comfort the last six seasons and I hold them dear to my heart.

Some may think that sharing my illness so openly with you all might have been wrong, but who else would you share it with but with your family and I have consider everyone at DTW as family.

I cannot say in words what playing baseball with you all has meant to me and I realize I might have gotten under some's skin by the way I exhibited my love of the game, I would also like to think I was a good teammate who would do the things that might help whatever team I was playing on (lay down the bunt, move the runner over, taking the walk, doing the Dennis Rule, later to become a rule change) always pushing the envelope :-) and making some plays that even I could not believe I made (right Gary :-), complimenting both teammates and opponents on good plays and hits and most of all playing clean but still getting my uniform dirty.

There is so much more I wish I could say but that would take days to write and I am sure you don't want to read a novel on how much DTW has meant to me since I joined in 2003.

I am OK with my fate and am coming to terms with it, but if you hear an annoying voice coming from the stands at Veteran's Memorial Park in the future it might be me cheering you on.

Peace and happiness to all,

Dennis Martin
Dodgertown West


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Definitive Rickey Henderson: The 25 Best Stories of "Rickey Being Rickey."

Rickey Henderson
From FanIQ; 12/2/2008

With Rickey having just been named among the new candidates for the Hall of Fame, we have a treat for you, the greatest 25 stories of Rickey's career. Rickey was quite a character over the course of his long career.

Just so everyone knows, these quotes and stories about Rickey come from
Fantistic from back in 2006. But in full disclosure, Fantistic didn't compile the quotes. Someone, somewhere out on the blogosphere did.

Lou Blasi of Fantistics wrote: "The following stories come from a blog post I ran across last month. I wish I knew who collected and posted his top 25 Rickey stories so I could give him credit. As it is all I can do is thank him for the memories."

So anyway, here you go. The definitive Rickey Henderson.

1) In June 1999, when Henderson was playing with the Mets, he saw reporters running around the clubhouse before a game. He asked a teammate what was going on and he was told that Tom Robson, the team’s hitting coach, had just been fired. Henderson said, “Who’s he?”

2) Rickey... on referring to himself in the third person:
“Listen, people are always saying, ‘Rickey says Rickey.’ But it’s been blown way out of proportion. People might catch me, when they know I’m ticked off, saying, ‘Rickey, what the heck are you doing, Rickey?’ They say, ‘Darn, Rickey, what are you saying Rickey for? Why don’t you just say, ‘I?’ But I never did. I always said, ‘Rickey,’ and it became something for people to joke about.”

3) In the early 1980s, the Oakland A’s accounting department was freaking out. The books were off $1 million. After an investigation, it was determined Rickey was the reason why. The GM asked him about a $1 million bonus he had received and Rickey said instead of cashing it, he framed it and hung it on a wall at his house.

4) In 1996, Henderson’s first season with San Diego, he boarded the team bus and was looking for a seat. Steve Finley said, “You have tenure, sit wherever you want.” Henderson looked at Finley and said, “Ten years? Ricky’s been playing at least 16, 17 years.”

5) This one might be my second favorite. This wasn’t too long ago, I think it was the year he ended up playing with the Red Sox. Anyway, he called San Diego GM Kevin Towers and left the following message: “This is Rickey calling on behalf of Rickey. Rickey wants to play baseball.”

6) This one happened in Seattle. Rickey struck out and as the next batter was walking past him, he heard Henderson say, “Don’t worry, Rickey, you’re still the best.”

7) Rickey once asked a teammate how long it would take him to drive to the Dominican Republic.

8) Moments after breaking Lou Brock’s stolen base record, Henderson told the crowd – with Brock mere feet next to him – “Lou Brock was a great base stealer, but today, I am the greatest of all-time.”

9) Henderson once fell asleep on an ice pack and got frostbite – which forced him to miss three games — in mid-August.

10) A reporter asked Henderson if Ken Caminiti’s estimate that 50 percent of Major League players were taking steroids was accurate. His response was, “Well, Rickey’s not one of them, so that’s 49 percent right there.”

11) Henderson broke Ty Cobb’s career record for runs scored with a home run. After taking his usual 45 seconds or so around the bases, Rickey slid into home plate.

12) On being Nolan Ryan’s 5,000th career strikeout: “It gave me no chance. He (Ryan) just blew it by me. But it’s an honor. I’ll have another paragraph in all the baseball books. I’m already in the books three or four times.”

13) San Diego GM Kevin Towers was trying to contact Rickey at a nearby hotel. He knew Henderson always used fake names to avoid the press, fans, etc. He was trying to think like Rickey and after several attempts; he was able to get Henderson on the phone.

Rickey had checked in under Richard Pryor.

14) I didn’t believe this one at first. However, I emailed a few contacts within the Sox organization and they claim it actually happened. This is priceless, it really is.

The morning after the Sox finished off their 2004 World Series sweep against St. Louis, Henderson called someone in the organization looking for tickets to Game 6 at Fenway Park.

15) The Mets were staying in a hotel less than a mile from Cinergy Field in Cincinnati. While some players walked, most took the team bus. A few minutes after they arrived — again it was less than a mile – the last players off the bus noticed a stretched limo that had just pulled up.

Of course, Rickey emerged from the back seat.

16) A reporter once asked Rickey if he talked to himself, “Do I talk to myself? No, I just remind myself of what I’m trying to do. You know, I never answer myself so how can I be talking to myself?”

17) OK, I know everyone has been waiting for it. Alas, according to both parties involved, it’s not true. I wish it were. Heck, both Rickey Henderson and John Olerud have said they wish it were true. But it just didn’t happen.

The story went that a few weeks into Henderson’s stint with the Mariners, he walked up to Olerud at the batting cage and asked him why he wore a batting helmet in the field. Olerud explained that he had an aneurysm at nine years old and he wore the helmet for protection. Legend goes that Henderson said, “Yeah, I used to play with a guy that had the same thing.” Legend also goes that Olerud said, “That was me, Rickey.”

Henderson played with Olerud on the Blue Jays and the Mets.

18) Rickey was asked if he had the Garth Brooks album with Friends in Low Places and Henderson said, “Rickey doesn’t have albums. Rickey has CDs.”

19) During a contract holdout with Oakland in the early 1990s, Henderson said, “If they want to pay me like Mike Gallego, I’ll play like Gallego.”

20) In the late 1980s, the Yankees sent Henderson a six-figure bonus check. After a few months passed, an internal audit revealed the check had not been cashed. Current Yankees GM Brian Cashman – then a low-level nobody with the organization – called Rickey and asked if there was a problem with the check. Henderson said, “I’m just waiting for the money market rates to go up.”

21) This is my all-time favorite. Rickey was pulled over by a San Diego police officer for speeding. As the officer was approaching Rickey’s car, the window went down a few inches and a folded $100 bill emerged. The officer let Rickey and his money head home without a ticket.

22) When he was on the Yankees in the mid-1980s, Henderson told teammates that his condo had such a great view that he could see, “The Entire State Building.”

23) During one of his stays with Oakland, Henderson’s locker was next to Billy Beane’s. After making the team out of spring training, Beane was sent to the minors after a few months. Upon his return, about six weeks later, Henderson looked at Beane and said, “Hey, man, where have you been? Haven’t seen you in awhile.”

24) To this day and dating back 25 years, before every game he plays, Henderson stands completely naked in front of a full length locker room mirror and says, “Ricky’s the best,” for several minutes.

25) In the last week of his lone season with the Red Sox, Chairman Tom Werner asked Henderson what he would like for his ‘going-away’ gift. Henderson said he wasn’t going anywhere, but he would like owner John Henry’s Mercedes. Werner said it would be tough to get the same make and model in less than a week and Henderson said, “No, I want his car.” Turns out the Sox got Henderson a Red Thunderbird and when he saw it on the field before the last game of the season, Rickey said, “Whose ugly car is on the field?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Calabasas baseball team turns lemons into lemonade

By Stephanie Bertholdo

After several members of the Calabasas High School baseball team were suspended in March for hazing new team members, coach Ed Edsall decided to use the incident to teach the boys a lesson in compassion.

Edsall arranged for the team to play a game of baseball with the Challenge Team in Simi Valley. The Challenge Team comprises students with various degrees of physical and mental disabilities.
The Calabasas players were so impressed by the experience that Edsall decided to make the competition a permanent part of the school's baseball program. The CHS squad has played against the Challenge Team twice, and Edsall expects to schedule one more game before the end of the year.

"The cool thing about it is the first time we went out we were off to a slow start," Edsall said. "I could see the guys were down a little bit."

But competing against other players with special abilities put "everything in perspective," for the Calabasas team, he said.

"For them to see baseball— kids playing purely for the love of the game—was really refreshing," the coach said.

"It's easy to lose sight of why you play the game and why we all love the game so much to begin with," he said.

Players on the Challenge team arrived early dressed in their uniforms and didn't care about winning or losing.

"I was impressed with how our players handled the game," Edsall said. "They showed maturity."
Playing ball with the special students allowed the Calabasas athletes to reassess what was important in life.

"It was a great and amazing experience," Jordan Pollack said. "It made us feel good to be a part of something so extraordinary."

Adam Silverman was taken by the kids' "priceless smiles" that "showed us how much they loved the game of baseball."

Adam Landecker said the experience was "rewarding and enjoyable," because the kids showed so much enthusiasm for the game.

During one activity, each Calabasas player was paired with a member of the Challenge team to help them field balls, run the bases and have a good time.

"I felt like (Challenger baseball) brought our team closer together, and at the same time we did a really nice thing," said Dalton Saberhagen.

Next year, the freshman, junior and varsity teams will alternate playing the Challenge games each weekend.

By Stephanie Bertholdo

Monday, June 08, 2009

WALL: There used to be our ballparks here ... and here ... and here

By Tom Hoffarth, columnist

L.A. Daily News - 6/7/2009

Behind the 12-story L.A. Mart and across from the ominous Los Angeles Superior Court Metro Courthouse just south of downtown, Dick Beverage surveys the vacant public parking lot Saturday morning to try to get his bearings.

"Where's north?" asks Beverage, founder of the Pacific Coast League Historical Society and president of the Society for American Baseball Research.

This matters because ...

"That would put home plate over there," Beverage says, pointing back toward the corner of Washington and Hill, where a McDonald's now competes with a Burger King across the street, "and left field was out there," he turns around, gesturing toward some graffiti-enhanced warehouses on Broadway.

This marks this spot where Washington Park went up nearly a century ago. It's a piece of real estate that once betrayed Babe Ruth during a home-run exhibition on a 1919 barnstorming tour.

"He was two feet short of the center-field wall," adds historian Ron Selter, explaining that the 13,000-seat ballyard had a 460-foot reach to its deepest part, and a 20-foot fence to clear.

On this cloudy, gray morning, the ghosts of L.A.'s baseball past seemed fairly easy to summon. The local SABR chapter held its first guided tour of the city's former horsehide shrines, some of which triumphantly appeared and sadly vanished before the Dodgers even began sniffing a move west more than 50 years ago.

On the five-plus-hour journey, the well-read guides were helpful, and imagination and a sense of adventure were required.

At Washington Park (1911-1925), we learn that the PCL's Los Angeles Angels and Vernon Tigers could only play Sunday afternoons because of city ordinances to support church-going residents. To get around that, the teams ventured over to Vernon, the incorporated area about three miles southeast of downtown, and play the first of a doubleheader at about 10 a.m.

That's over at 38th and Irving, where the first 4,000-seat Vernon Stadium stood and Al Parnis, asemi-retired teacher from San Bernardino, goes through his index cards retelling what he's uncovered about this area. Today, it's where an abandoned brick building supports a sign warning anyone that it "may be unsafe in the event of a major earthquake."

Or a strong sneeze.

Wandering over to the first Wrigley Field, on 42nd Place and San Pedro near Avalon, Chuck Carey recalls Sept. 29, 1947.

His dad was able to score some box seats 10 rows up from first base, allowing him (among the 22,996) to witness Clarence Maddern's dramatic eighth-inning grand slam that pushed the Los Angeles Angels past the San Francisco Seals 5-0 for the PCL championship.

"It cleared the trees and went around the light pole in right field," said Carey, preaching next to a skateboard park and soccer field where Wrigley's right field used to be.

Duck back under the Harbor Freeway and to the regal Coliseum - the Dodgers' first L.A. settlement. Author and SABR national director Andy McCue takes pride in being among the World Series record-setting 92,706 who were at Game 5 of the 1959 Fall Classic, although he terms the attendance figures that the football facility generated for baseball as "grotesque." He also points out that if one sat in the top row behind home plate, above the west tunnel, "you were farther away from the action than where most fans today would be while sitting in the outfield."

While there's a giant plaque bolted to the peristyle entrance of the Coliseum to acknowledge the Dodgers' existence from 1958-61, the most poignant display for historical purposes of the tour comes up where Gilmore Field led a glamorous existence as the Hollywood Stars' stage from May 2, 1939, to Sept. 5, 1957 - more than 1,700 games. It says so on the bronze landmark that, in 1997, Beverage's PCL group had attached to the building at CBS Television City on Beverly and Genesse. It's easy to spot, around the corner from the entrance to Studio 46 - known now for where "The Price Is Right" and "Dancing With the Stars" is taped.

"This is where the ticket booth stood," Beverage says with certainty, since he's written a book on the team. "And if you go around the side of the building, there's a driveway, and about 80 feet in, that's where home plate is."

He quickly corrected himself. "Where home plate was," he said.

It's OK. We can still pretend to see it.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

John Shelby Goes 0- for- 10

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Today is the 20th anniversary of a 22-inning game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros (box score). Houston ultimately won, 5-4. From a streakiness perspective, the thing I've always remembered about this game is L.A.'s John Shelby going 0-for-10.

Looking at Shelby's career statistics, he clearly had a bad year with the bat in 1989, hitting only .183. (63-for-345). A .183 batting average translates into a .817 (i.e., 1 - . 183) failure rate on each at-bat. Raising .817 to the 10th power, for the probability of 10 successive failures (assuming independence of events), yields .133 as the likelihood of Shelby's going 0-for-10. We have not, of course, taken into account the quality of the opposing pitchers or any other factors, so this will have to be a rough estimate.

A 13% chance of Shelby going 0-for-10 is not astronomically small by any means. It's still fairly rare, however. The following figure shows Shelby's probabilities of getting 0, 1, 2, 3, etc., hits out of 10 at-bats. Not surprisingly, the likeliest scenarios were for him to get 1 or 2 hits. For the probability of 1 hit (and 9 failures), for example, we would take .817 to the 9th power, then multiply the result by .183, thus yielding .0297. There are 10 different ways to get exactly 1 hit out of 10 (i.e., in the first at-bat, or in the second, ... , or in the 10th), so we multiply .0297 X 10, yielding .297 (which is shown in the figure).

Shelby also had a higher probability of getting 3 hits in the game than 0 hits, but the chances start tailing off once we get to 4 hits. The above probabilities were obtained from the Vassar Binomial Calculator.