Around the Diamond
Congratulations to Scott Rolen on being elected to the HOF. Rolen, a 7-time All-Star who won eight Gold Gloves, a World Series in 2006 (St. Louis) and was 1997 ROY (Philly). The big third baseman will wear a Cardinal's hat for all eternity in Cooperstown.
Three weeks 'til "Pitchers and Catchers!"
RIP Sal Bando, 78. Sal was a 4x All-Star and a 3x World Series champion with the Oakland A's.
Just 18 third baseman are in the HOF, the least represented position on the field.
Angle's CF Mike Trout to play for team USA in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.
The Cubs announced HOF'er Ryne Sandberg will have a statue outside Wrigley Field for the 2024 season. His will be the sixth statue for the North Siders.
Pitching great Felix Hernandez will be the 11th player inducted into the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame.
Sal Bando was on the Simpsons as himself in the "Regarding Margie" episode.
The Guardians announced $200 million in renovations to Progressive Field over the next three years. No word if the city of Cleveland plans to follow suit. Opened in 1994, Progressive Field is already the 11th oldest in the majors.
Sal Bando hit the first grand slam in Oakland's Alameda County Coliseum history.
Did you know "The Hill" neighborhood in St Louis has three Hall of Famers? Yogi Berra was born here and won the most World Series of any player with 10 and was inducted in 1972. Joe Garagiola was also born here and played for the hometown Cardinals. He entered the Hall as a broadcaster in 1991. And legendary Cardinal broadcaster Jack Buck, who lived on the Hill in the 1950s, was inducted in 1987. A block of Elizabeth Ave on the Hill is now called "Hall of Fame Place" and plaques adorn the houses of the respective men who lived there.
Scott Rolen's 10.2% is the lowest first ballot a player has ever received before eventually reaching the Hall of Fame.
The Carlos Correa contract musical chairs ends with the team it started with, the Minnesota Twins. After failing physicals for both the Giants and the Mets for deals north of $300 million, Correa returned to Minnesota after opting out of a deal worth $285 million with the Twins, who he played for last season. The ex-Astro will now play in the Twin cities for six seasons and $200 million with options worth another $70 million.
The Tigers are bringing in the center field wall 10 feet and lowering it from 8 1/2 to 7 feet. It's the team's biggest move of the offseason!
With the addition of Nelson Cruz, the Padres have now signed two veteran bats to bring some stability to the DH spot. Cruz, 42, signed a 1yr/$1M deal after Matt Carpenter inked a 2yr/$12M deal. The moves are meant to make manager, Bob Melvins life a little easier after using 13 players at DH last season.
"Problems are the price you pay for progress." ~ Branch Rickey
Red Sox announce 2B Trevor Story had elbow surgery. His timeline to return is four to six months.
The World Baseball Classic is expanding from 16 to 20 teams this year. The tournament begins March 8.
"I have discovered in 20 years of moving around a ballpark, that the knowledge of the game is usually in inverse proportion to the price of the seats." ~ Bill Veeck
Determined to pitch again after the Cincinnati Reds cut him in 1922, Jack Scott would wait in the lobby of the NY Giants Cincinnati hotel and approach their manager John McGraw to ask him for another chance in the majors. McGraw agreed and Scott would go 8-2 down the stretch and pitch a four-hit shutout verses the Yankees in game three of the World Series to help the Giants win the title.
"Are you trying to say Jesus Christ can't hit a curveball?" ~ Major League
Congratulations to Detroit writer John Lowe on being elected to the HOF by the BBWAA. He retired in 2014 after covering the Tigers for the Detroit Free Press for 29-years. John will be inducted this summer in Cooperstown.
Last season, the Baltimore Orioles went 67-55 after calling up rookie sensation C Adley Rutschman. Adley finished with just 8 errors, first among catchers and was in consideration for ROY.
Ted Williams and Albert Pujols are the only two players to hit 20-plus home runs in both their first and last seasons (10-season minimum).
"SMALL BALL" ~ In-between games of a double header on August 19, 1951, the St. Louis Browns owner, Bill Veeck, always trying to find creative ways to boost his struggling team's attendance, decided to celebrate the American League's 50th anniversary by wheeling a cake onto the field with 3'7" "midget" popping out of it to the crowd's delight. The "midget" was a 26-year-old man named Eddie Gaedel, who Veeck had wrapped in blankets and snuck into Sportsmans Park before the game. Only a couple people besides Veeck in the stadium knew what he was really there for. When the second game started, the Browns pinch-hit the 3'7" Eddie for leadoff man Frank Saucier. The umpire balked at the idea, but the Browns manager produced a legal contract stating that Eddie Gaedel was signed to play in the majors forcing the umpire to allow him to bat. Bill Veeck had submitted the proper paperwork to the league's offices late Friday knowing no one would read it until Monday morning, the day after the stunt. Eddie Gaedel came to bat wearing the number "1/8." The uniform he wore was borrowed from the team bat boy Bill DeWitt Jr. who was the son of the Brown's owner and he himself is now the owner of the then cross-town rival, St. Louis Cardinals. Eddie was as nervous as nervous could be. He had never played baseball and certainly had never faced a major league pitcher. He was so nervous, one of the coaches had to help him tie his shoes. Adding to his fear was the knowledge that if he even tried to swing at a pitch, a sniper in the stands would shoot him. It was a lie Veeck told Eddie as part of the plan. It worked. Eddie stepped into the batter's box and though he did his best Joe Dimaggio impression, never swung. His strike zone was a mere one and one-half inches due to his size. The Tigers catcher Bob Swift and Tiger pitcher Bob Cain could be seen laughing at the absurdity of the situation. Eddie took four consecutive balls, all high, for a walk. On his way to first, Eddie began to ham it up and tip his cap to the crowd, one of the largest the Brown's had that season. Once at first, a pinch runner was sent in. Eddie patted the runner on the rear the way ball players do and tipped his hat as he stopped to let the crowd lavish him with applause and laughter before exiting the stage into the dugout. It was the only time a little person ever pinch hit in the majors and the league immediately made a rule disallowing the practice. Despite the ruling, his official on-base percentage is 1.000. Before the infamous game, Eddie was famous for being the winged Roman god mascot Mercury for Mercury Records. During WW2 he was a valued riveter utilizing his size to crawl into the wings of planes to do the work larger men and woman could not. He was a member of a performer's union and found work with Ringling Brothers Circus and as Buster Brown at shoe store openings. After the infamous game, Eddie was able to parley his fame into a small fortune with radio, tv and convention appearances. Off the field he was not as jovial. He would lament his size and often ask his mother, who he still lived with, if it was her fault, he was so small. He was picked on in school and throughout his life. He drank too much and was known for his temper. He once cussed out two police officers who mistook him for a child being out too late so badly, they arrested him for disorderly conduct. Late on a June night in 1961, 10-years after his one at-bat, Eddie was coming home from a bowling alley near his Chicago home and was beat up. He managed to stagger home and put himself to bed. He never woke up. His mother found him the next morning unresponsive with cuts and bruises to his face and knees. A coroner deemed Eddie had suffered a heart attack, likely from the events of the night before. It is still not known if Eddie was simply mugged, or something happened in that bowling alley that caused an altercation. The case remains open in Chicago to this day. When Eddie was buried, Bob Cain, the pitcher who walked him, was the only person from baseball to pay his respects. In his honor, Eddie Gaedel Societies exist across the country from Spokane Washington to St. Louis Missouri to Los Angeles California to Three Oaks Michigan and to Elburn Illinois where there is also a bar named in his honor. There is even an Eddie Gaedel Society Chapter in Dublin Ireland. They all gather annually on August 19th, the day Eddie stepped to the plate. In an interesting twist of fate, Dave Stevens who is 3' 2" tall due to being a congenital amputee played a game at second base for the minor league St. Paul Saints in 1996. The owner of that team was Bill Veeck's son Mike. Dave also has the distinction of pinch-hitting for Daryl Strawberry! After being exhibited in Cooperstown, Eddie Gaedel's "1/8" jersey is now on permanent display inside the St. Louis Cardinals distinguished hall of fame where they also have items from the St. Louis Brown's. After Eddie earned his walk, was pinch-hit for and walked back to the Brown's dugout to the roar of a standing ovation, he told his teammate Frank Saucier, the man he pinch-hit for, "I feel like Babe Ruth today!" There are 10 known Eddie Gaedel autographs, and any one of them is worth more than any of Babe Ruth's.
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