Results tagged ‘ Jackie Robinson ’
Considering the weakened state of the Yankees’ batting order, it makes absolutely no sense to pitch to Robinson Cano. Kevin Youkilis, Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay and Eduardo Nunez have done nice work offensively early on while Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter are healing, but the opposition would be wise not to put Cano in any position to create havoc.
The Yankees are grateful that Diamondbacks starter Brandon McCarthy ignored this advice that resulted in Cano cranking a three-run home run in the fourth inning to wipe out a 2-0 deficit.
Cano, back in the 2-hole where he has flourished this season (.395, four doubles, four home runs, 11 RBI), had a single and was stranded in the first inning. McCarthy wisely walked Cano intentionally after falling behind 2-0 in the count in the second inning with runners on first and third and two out. Kevin Youkilis ended the inning with a grounder to third base.
In the fourth, McCarthy came back from yielding leadoff singles to Overbay and Chris Stewart by striking out Brett Gardner. It appeared McCarthy would take the same approach to Cano and fell behind 3-0 in the count. McCarthy got a strike with a changeup on the black, and then threw a curve out of the strike zone that Cano fouled off. Getting to 3-2 must have given McCarthy some confidence that he should go after Cano.
Bad move for the pitcher; good move for the Yankees. Cano cranked a full-count change into the bleachers in right-center field for his fourth home run and a 3-2 Yankees lead. The Yanks had nine nits over the first four innings off McCarthy, who was gone after 102 pitches, but had left five runners on base over the first three innings and were hitless in four at-bats with runners in scoring position before Cano connected for his fourth home run of the season.
Yankees starter Ivan Nova also made a relatively early exit after a 94-pitch, five-inning stint. The D-backs left seven runners on base against Nova, who gave up two runs in the third but avoided further damage with a big strikeout of former teammate Eric Chavez and getting another former Yankee, Eric Hinske, on an infield out.
Nova’s best work was in the fourth inning after yielding a leadoff double to A.J. Pollock. Cliff Pennington sacrificed Pollock to third base, which prompted the Yankees to bring the infield in against Geraldo Parra, who rolled a grounder to Overbay at first base that kept Pollock at third. Nova ended the threat with a strikeout of Martin Prado.
It was a serviceable outing for Nova, who has been under intense scrutiny but how about cutting him some slack. With all the weather problems, Nova has made only two starts 17 days into the season. It is hard to get into a rhythm. He had a very good curve Tuesday night and made pitches when he needed them for the most part.
The Yankees added a run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Nunez, and the bullpen did a great job after Nova with Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera combining for four shutout innings of one-hit, no-walk, three-strikeout relief.
How appropriate that on a night when players on both clubs wore No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson’s legacy that Rivera, the last active player to wear that number, got the save, his third of the season and 611th of his career, with a 1-2-3 ninth and that the deciding runs were driven in by a player named after the trail blazing Hall of Famer.
Equally appropriate was the final score:
Curtis Granderson, who is recuperating from a fractured right forearm sustained in the first game of spring training, will appear at a Jackie Robinson Tribute Program at Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn Monday as part of his Grand Kids Foundation (GKF) series of programs.
Lincoln High sustained significant damage from Hurricane Sandy. GKF has donated a new scoreboard and wind screens for the outdoor athletic fields. Following a ceremony at the school, Granderson will accompany student athletes to a screening of the new movie, 42, about Jackie Robinson’s breaking baseball’s color barrier.
There is a great void in baseball now that Bob Feller has left us. He was a Hall of Famer more than half of his life, a distinction for which he took great pride. Somehow, Induction Weekend in Cooperstown will never be the same.
Feller, fallen by leukemia at the age of 92, represented the epitome of the American Dream, the Iowa farm boy who made it to the big leagues before he graduated from high school and became one of the icons of an era depicted so memorably in Tom Brokaw’s book, “The Greatest Generation.”
Of all his accomplishments – and there were many – Feller was most proud of the four years he served in the United States Navy as a gunner on the U.S. Alabama during World War II. It cost him four precious seasons at the height of his pitching career, but he never regretted a single day he devoted to his country.
I remember his appearance at the 1986 New York Baseball Writers Dinner when he did me a huge favor. That year, Yankees first baseman Don Mattingly and Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden were co-winners of our Sid Mercer Award for the player of the year. The original plan was to have Stan Musial present the award to Mattingly and Feller to Gooden.
The day of the dinner, Musial’s plane was re-routed to Albany due to fog in New York that forced the three metro airports to close for several hours. I offered Stan a private car to come down to Manhattan, but he declined. “I don’t know how old you are, Jack, but I’m 65, and three hours in a car is not something I’m comfortable with anymore,” The Man said.
I thanked him and told him he should just go back home. Less than an hour later, I found out that Gooden couldn’t come, either. Just a couple of hours before the dinner, I had lost two marquee attractions. Mattingly and Feller had come to New York the night before, so I knew we still had them. The idea now was to ask “Rapid Robert” to present the award to “Donnie Baseball.”
Prompt as usual, Feller was the first to arrive in the dais room an hour before the dinner. I explained my dilemma and asked him if he would give the award to Mattingly.
“I’d be honored to,” he said. “Just do me two favors. One, write down some of Donnie’s statistics; I know he had a helluva year, but I don’t know the exact numbers. Two, make sure in your introduction of me that you mention my four years’ service in the Navy in World War II. Nothing I have done in my life is more important than that.”
My father and uncle were at a table up front with Anne, Feller’s wife, and got pretty friendly during the dinner. The last award presentation was Mattingly’s, and I introduced Bob with emphasis on his war record. At that point, Anne leaned over to my father and uncle and said, “He made that poor boy say that.”
Several years later, I did a piece in the Hartford Courant on Feller in connection with the Hall of Fame honoring World War II veterans. He had just come home from a tour of Okinawa where he had served in the war. I figured he was suffering from jet lag and suggested we do the interview when he was more rested.
“Come on, O’Connell, let’s do it now; I’ll have plenty of time to rest when my eyes close for good,” he said and spent the next 90 minutes detailing every step of his tour of duty in the Pacific.
Feller was proudest of the fact that he was the first major league player to enter the armed services after Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese fleet. Another Hall of Famer, Hank Greenberg, also lay claim to being the first, but Feller said, “I checked it out; I beat Hank by about half an hour.”
Here’s the rub. At the time of Bob’s enlistment, his father had terminal cancer. As the sole support of his family, Bob Feller could have been excused from serving in the war, but he felt it was his duty. Think for a minute what his career statistics would have looked like had Feller not joined the Navy and played in those four seasons from 1942 through ’45.
Considering the shape of many of the war-depleted lineups in the early 1940s, Feller might have had seasons of 30-plus victories. Heck, he might have even challenged Jack Chesbro’s 1904 record of 41 victories. Since Feller had pitched in 44 games in 1941, it is conceivable that a 41-win season might not be out of the question. I have a feeling, however, that Feller would have never been able to live with the asterisk that might have been attached to all those victories against hollow lineups.
He had a tremendous career anyway with three no-hitters, including the only Opening Day no-no in 1940, and 12 one-hitters and a ring from the 1948 World Series, still the most recent championship by the Indians. He remains the greatest player in the history of that franchise, which was a charter member of the American League in 1901.
When he and Jackie Robinson were elected to the Hall of Fame in 1962, they were the first to do so in their first year on the ballot since the original class of 1936: Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson.
No one wore his Hall of Fame stature more gallantly. Here are some thoughts on Feller from his Hall teammates:
Bobby Doerr: “Bob was just a regular, solid person. He was the same guy, all the time. He gave his opinions and he said what he thought. He didn’t hedge around anything. He was one of the top pitchers I saw in my time. He was timed at 100 miles per hour, and he had a real good curve ball. You had to always be alert with him. He was a real competitor.”
Gaylord Perry: “I really enjoyed Bob’s company, and hearing his stories about history – from baseball to war and everything else, from out of the cornfields to the major leagues. He did so much for baseball and had so many great stories, particularly about barnstorming and his memories of players like Cool Papa Bell and Satchel Paige. I was very fond of Bob. I traveled to his Museum in Van Meter to support his Museum. I consider Bob a great American.”
Cal Ripken Jr.: “The passing of Bob Feller is a great loss for the game of baseball. Clearly Bob was one of the greatest pitchers in history, and anyone who knew him understood that he was one of the game’s great personalities as well. That said, baseball didn’t define Bob. His service to our country is something that he was very proud of and something we are all grateful for. Bob lived an incredible life, and he will be missed.”
Nolan Ryan: “I am deeply sorry to hear of the passing of Bob Feller. He was baseball’s top power pitcher of the 1940s and 1950s and was a source of inspiration for all Americans for his service during World War II. He was a true Hall of Famer.”
Dennis Eckersley: “Bob was truly a great American and a great ambassador for the game of baseball.”
Hall of Fame board chairman Jane Forbes Clark: “We are all saddened to hear of the passing of Bob Feller. He represented the National Baseball Hall of Fame longer than any individual in history, as 2011 would have been his 50th year as a Hall of Fame member. No one loved coming back to Cooperstown more than Bob, which he and Anne did often. Bob was a wonderful ambassador for the Hall of Fame, always willing to help the Museum. Watching him pitch just shy of his 91st birthday at the Hall of Fame Classic in Cooperstown will be a memory that we will always treasure. He will always be missed.”
Hall president Jeff Idelson: “The Baseball Hall of Fame has lost an American original – there will never be anyone quite like Bob Feller ever again. He was truly larger than life – baseball’s John Wayne – coming out of the Iowa cornfields to the major leagues at age 17 and then dominating for two decades. Bob loved being a member of Baseball’s Hall of Fame, but he was most proud of his service as a highly decorated soldier in the Navy in the Pacific during World War II. He reached the pinnacle of individual achievement in 1962, earning enshrinement in Cooperstown, spending more than half his life as a Hall of Fame member.&nbs
p; He probably flew more miles, signed more autographs, met more people and visited more places than anyone, a testament to his ceaseless zest for life, baseball and country. Cooperstown will never be the same without Rapid Robert.”
That’s for sure.
Derek Jeter’s leadoff single to right field Wednesday night off Cliff Lee was career hit No. 2,877 for the Yankees shortstop and captain, and it was a big deal.
Coming in the same week in which Jeter passed Babe Ruth on the career list, this time he pushed ahead of Mel Ott and in so doing now has the most hits of any player while playing for a New York team, not just the Yankees but also the Mets and the former New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers. That covers a lot of territory.
Not all of the Babe’s 2,873 hits were for the Yankees. He also played for both Boston teams, the Red Sox and the Braves. In Ott’s case, all of his 2,876 hits were with the Giants in a 22-season career spanning 1926 to 1947. No player wearing a New York uniform had more hits than Ott, a record he held for 63 years until Wednesday night.
Just last year, Jeter surpassed Lou Gehrig as the Yankees’ franchise hit leader, which was rarified air enough. Now this. Think about the long history of major league baseball in New York City, much richer than even the supposed hot beds of St. Louis and Boston, and now Derek Jeter stands heads and shoulders over all the hit makers.
There are 203 players in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Of that total, 92 played a portion of their careers for at least one of the New York teams. The city has seen some of the greatest hitters ever, from the Babe and Lou to Joe DiMaggio and Jackie Robinson, from Willie (Mays), Mickey (Mantle) and the Duke (Snider), on to Don Mattingly and Keith Hernandez.
Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle all won batting titles as did fellow Yankees Snuffy Stirnweiss, Paul O’Neill and Bernie Williams. Other batting champions in New York were the Dodgers’ Robinson, Jake Daubert, Zack Wheat, Pete Reiser, Dixie Walker and Carl Furillo and the Giants’ Mays, Larry Doyle and Bill Terry, the last National League player to hit .400 (.401 in 1930). No Mets player has led the league in batting, but Dave Magadan and John Olerud came close.
Ott won no batting titles, either, even though he was a career .304 hitter. Ott’s specialty was the long ball. His total of 511 was the NL record for 20 years before Mays passed him in 1966. Ott led the league in home runs six times, and the NL trophy for the annual home run champion is named after him. He also had 488 doubles and 72 triples and hit .295 with four homers and 10 RBI in 16 World Series games.
Ott would have fit very well into today’s game as an on-base specialist. He led the NL in walks six times, walked more than 100 times in 10 seasons and had a career .414 on-base average. A left-handed batter, Ott took advantage of the short right field dimensions at the Polo Grounds utilizing a quirky hitting style in which he lifted his right leg as he started his swing. Copying that style years later was the Japanese slugger Sadaharu Oh of the Yomiuri Giants.
In his last six seasons in the majors, Ott wore two hats for the Giants as a player manager. A soft-spoken man from Louisiana with a demeanor not unlike that of Gehrig, it was Ott to whom Leo Durocher came up with his famous line, “Nice guys finish last.”
Ott never did finish last, and when he did finish his career he was first among New York players in total hits. Now that distinction belongs to Derek Jeter, another nice guy who doesn’t finish last.
More than any other team in the majors, the Yankees make it difficult for a new player to receive his preferred uniform number. The main reason is that the Yankees have retired 14 numbers (including 8 twice, for both Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra), the most of any team. In the case of the three players traded to the Yankees over the weekend, two were able to get the numbers they had worn for their previous clubs, and none of the three numbers issued had been retired.
First baseman-designated hitter Lance Berkman received No. 17, which he had worn throughout his career in the National League with the Astros. Outfielder Austin Kearns got No. 26, the same number he had worn in his time with the Indians. Kearns’ preferred number would have been 28, which he wore with the Reds and the Nationals. He was unable to get it in Cleveland because it was worn by pitcher David Huff, now in the minors, and had no chance with the Yankees since 28 is the number of manager Joe Girardi.
Relief pitcher Kerry Wood, who made his Yankees debut in Sunday’s 3-0 loss to the Rays, was given No. 39, the first time he has worn a number in the majors other than 34, which he had with both the Cubs and the Indians. Number 34 was not available because it belongs to pitcher A.J. Burnett.
The matter of uniform numbers can get dicey. A lot of players have jewelry made up with their numbers, and the trinkets become useless if they can’t get their number with a new team. That was the case with Rickey Henderson when he came to the Yankees in 1985. He had worn No. 35 in Oakland, but Phil Niekro had that number when Rickey came to New York. Henderson took No. 24 and then continued to wear that number most of the rest of his career with eight more teams. The only teams he couldn’t wear No. 24 for were the Mariners, who had just traded Ken Griffey Jr. but wouldn’t give out the number, and the Dodgers, who had retired it for Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston.
Reggie Jackson did something similar. He had worn No. 9 with the A’s, but that was Graig Nettles’ number with the Yankees when Reggie reached the Bronx in 1977. Reggie switched to No. 44, which he later wore with the Angels and when he returned to Oakland. Both numbers were retired by the Yankees – 44 for Reggie and 9 for Roger Maris. The latter number was retired by the time Joe Torre, who had worn it throughout his career, came to the Yankees as manager in 1996. He wore No. 6 for 12 years.
Randy Johnson wore No. 51 in Montreal, Seattle, Houston and Arizona, but when he came to the Yankees in 2005 had to change because that number belonged to Bernie Williams. The Big Unit took No. 41, which was his age at the time.
Tino Martinez wore No. 23 with the Mariners, and the number was available when he came to the Yankees in 1996 because Don Mattingly, who had worn it, retired. In deference to Mattingly, a player he greatly admired, Tino declined and instead took No. 24, which is now worn by Robinson Cano. Robbie had worn No. 22 but gave it to Roger Clemens when the Rocket rejoined the Yankees in 2007. Cano then took 24 because it is the reverse of 42, now retired in perpetuity in honor of Jackie Robinson, for whom Cano was named.
The Yankees got an early start on the Fourth of July weekend with pre-game ceremonies Thursday at Yankee Stadium honoring young people making important contributions to their communities.
Mariano Rivera presented Yankees jerseys No. 42 to Rachel Robinson, Jackie Robinson’s widow, as donations from the club of those used in the 2009 and 2010 Jackie Robinson Foundation celebrations. The Foundation, which was started by Mrs. Robinson in 1973, the year after her husband’s death, funds college scholarships. Participating in the ceremony were Foundation president Della Britton Baeza and Jamal Cole, a Jackie Robinson scholar who is entering his senior year at Cornell University.
Jackie Robinson’s uniform No. 42 was retired in perpetuity by commissioner Bud Selig in 1997, the 50th anniversary of Robinson’s breaking baseball’s color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Players wearing the number at the time could continue to do so, but once they left that team or retired the number could not be worn again. Rivera is the last player in the majors to wear No. 42.
Yankees captain Derek Jeter joined Naya Gary on the field for the presentation of the VH1 Do Something Awards for her involvement in “Part of the Solution,” which has a mission of feeding and nourishing the community. Naya is the senior class president and valedictorian at Morris Academy in the Bronx.
On Wednesday, Alex Rodriguez joined Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center president and chief executive officer Miguel A. Fuentes Jr. and other board members and patients at the hospital on the Grand Concourse to dedicate a new children’s outpatient center named in his honor. A-Rod contributed $250,000 to help find construction and completion of the center, which offers a child-friendly environment for young patients and their families.
“I am proud to support the children’s outpatient facility and Bronx-Lebanon’s efforts to care for the children of the Bronx community,” Alex said.
Derek Jeter turned 36 Saturday. That may not be an age that is considered a milestone, but I have always thought it was. After all, once you’re 36 for the first time in your life you’re closer to 50 than 20. You may not be starting the back nine of your life, but the halfway house is clearly in view.
As for a professional athlete, 36 is definitely on the back nine, unless you know anyone playing in the pros in his or her 70s, excluding Minnie Minoso, of course. Yet in this day and age of dedication to conditioning and nutrition, the pro athlete can endure far long than his antecedents, and there are few in baseball in better shape than Derek Jeter.
It is hard to think of him as getting old. Other than natural maturity, I have not seen any great change in his approach or demeanor from the 21-year-old kid who came to the Yankees’ spring training camp at Tampa, Fla., in 1996 ready to assume the role of shortstop.
The plan was for regular Tony Fernandez to move to second base and be ready to switch back if Jeter did not handle the job. Fernandez got hurt and was out for the year while Jeter went on to win Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year honors and help the Yankees win their first World Series championship in 18 years.
Long ago and far away, sure, but all these years later Jeter is still a main cog on the Yankees at one of the sport’s most demanding positions. And he is in no mood to think about playing someplace else, not in a different city and not at a different position.
Yet Jeter has reached that age which historically players at his position often move to another position. No better example exists than Cal Ripken Jr., a player Jeter admires and emulates, who was shifted to third base in 1997, the year he turned 36. He played only three games at shortstop after turning 36, not counting the 2001 All-Star Game.
Two other Hall of Famers, Ernie Banks and Robin Yount, were moved from shortstop in their early 30s due to arm injuries that hampered their effectiveness in the middle infield. Banks went to first base, and Yount to center field.
A couple of years ago, I sat down with Jeter and talked to him about the Yount move. This was a time when Bernie Williams’ career was winding down, and I queried whether he had given any thought to playing center field in the future.
Not a word, just a blank stare from those piercing green eyes. “I just thought maybe we’d talk about it,” I said.
He grinned and said, “Then I guess you’ll have to find someone else to talk to about that.”
Needless to say, I never brought the subject up again, and I am not going to do so here, either. I have been of the opinion since that day that shortstop is where Derek Jeter belongs for as long as he wants to play it. If he was not coming off shortstop for Alex Rodriguez, he wasn’t coming off shortstop for Jack O’Connell.
And why should he? It is not as if he is Phil Rizzuto, who hit .195 at age 36 and was a part-time player the next year and a half. Or Pee Wee Reese, who won a World Series with the Dodgers at that age in 1955 but was moved to third base two years later. Or Joe Cronin, who played very little shortstop after the age of 35. Or such Hall of Famers as Joe Tinker, Travis Jackson, Arky Vaughan and Lou Boudreau, who were retired as players before they turned 36.
Further research shows plenty of evidence that moving off shortstop is not all that warranted. Hall of Famers Honus Wagner and Luke Appling played more than 130 games at shortstop when each was 41. Rabbit Maranville, another Hall of Famer, finished 10th in the National League MVP race when he was 36 in 1928. Dave Concepcion was the Reds’ regular shortstop until he was 38, and as late as the age of 40 Omar Vizquel played 143 games at shortstop.
There are two shortstops that really stick out to me and with whom I hope Jeter will keep company – Hall of Famers Luis Aparicio and Ozzie Smith. They share an amazing distinction. Shortstop was the only position they played in their entire careers – 2,518 games for Little Looie and 2,511 games for the Wizard of Oz. Each made the All-Star team playing shortstop at age 36, which Jeter will do next month.
Aparicio’s last year was 1973, the first year of the designated hitter but he was never used in that spot, and Smith spent his whole career in the DH-less National League. Jeter has been a DH in 17 games, but the only position he has played in the field is shortstop. He celebrated his 36th birthday with game No. 2,193 – and counting.