Inside Pulse » Alex Schuhart A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:30:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse no A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse » Alex Schuhart Dusty Baker: Did Reds’ Manager Punch Ticket to Cooperstown with 1,500th Win? Sun, 20 May 2012 19:00:49 +0000 For a long time, I never really thought of Dusty Baker as a Hall of Fame manager—or, for that matter, as having any Hall of Fame argument at all.

Really, he never quite had the feel of a Hall of Fame skipper. Just as during his playing days when he was solid, he has been similarly solid as a manager.

But “solid” doesn’t cut it. Not when we’re talking about the Hall of Fame.

Yet, the numbers are undeniable. Upon winning his 1,500th game on May 9, he joined an elite fraternity—only 19 other managers ever have earned that many victories.

Let’s break those helmsmen down. 12 of them are already in Cooperstown. Three are recently retired and will be heading to the Hall when they become eligible,* while three more are retired and not in the Hall yet—but they have their supporters.** The other, Jim Leyland, is still active and steadily making a case for a plaque of his own as we speak.

*Tony LaRussa (2,728 wins), Bobby Cox (2,504) and Joe Torre (2,326)
**Gene Mauch (1,902 wins), Lou Piniella (1,835) and Ralph Houk (1,619)

History indicates a manager with at least 1,500 wins has a great shot at earning induction into the Hallowed Halls—but is that singular victory milestone enough for Baker? Maybe, maybe not.

Despite compiling all those regular season victories, he doesn’t have very many from when it counts the most—the postseason. In his nearly two decades of managing in the majors, Baker has never led a team to a World Series victory and he has led only one team to the Fall Classic at all.

Sure, he has managed six teams to 90 or more victories—and one to over 100 wins—but he also has eight losing campaigns to his name. Though he has four first place finishes to brag about, there are also also four fourth place finishes on his record that tarnish his legacy.

So maybe he shouldn’t be planning his “Hall of Fame induction party” just yet—to say that Baker “punched his ticket” to Cooperstown upon winning his 1,500th game may be a bit premature. As it stands, he is in that borderline grey area—on the edge, but perhaps not quite worthy of enshrinement.

But still, he may get the call to the Hall someday. Most 1,500 game winners have.

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Recent Baseball Deaths—Part III Sat, 26 Nov 2011 17:00:44 +0000 Here’s the final installment, for now, of my Recent Baseball Deaths series, chronicling those Major League Baseball passings that have occurred within the past couple months. See here for Part I and here for Part II.

Jesse Jefferson – Died September 8, aged 62
Position: Pitcher
Teams: Baltimore Orioles (1973-1975), Chicago White Sox (1975-1976), Toronto Blue Jays (1977-1980), Pittsburgh Pirates (1980), California Angels (1981)
Notes: Went 39-81 with a 4.81 ERA in nine-year career…best season was 1981—in 77 innings, he had a 3.62 ERA…completed nine games in 1978…won 40 games at minor league level

Bill Taylor – Died September 15, aged 81
Position: Outfielder
New York Giants (1954-1957), Detroit Tigers (1957-1958)
Hit .237 with seven home runs and 26 RBI in five-year career…slugged .516 for Giants in 1955…hit .348 for Tigers in 1957 and .375 for Tigers in 1958…hit .311 with 186 home runs in minors

Danny Litwhiler – Died September 23, aged 95
Position: Leftfielder
Teams: Philadelphia Phillies (1940-1943), St. Louis Cardinals (1944, 1946), Boston Braves (1946-1948), Cincinnati Reds (1948-1951)
Notes: Hit .281 with 107 home runs and 451 RBI in 11-year career…1942 All-Star…oldest former Red and Philadelphia Blue Jay at the time of his passing…fought in World War II…first big league outfielder to play 150-plus games without an error

Eddie Bockman – Died September 29, aged 91
Position: Third baseman
Teams: New York Yankees (1946), Cleveland Indians (1947), Pittsburgh Pirates (1948-1949)
Notes: Hit .230 with 11 home runs and 56 RBI in four-year career…traded for Dutch Meyer in 1946…managed in minor leagues for four years…scouted for Philadelphia Phillies, signing Bob Boone and Larry Bowa

Johnny Schmitz – Died October 1, aged 90
Position: Pitcher
Chicago Cubs (1941-1942, 1946-1951), Brooklyn Dodgers (1951-1952), New York Yankees (1952, 1953), Cincinnati Reds (1952), Washington Senators (1953-1955), Boston Red Sox (1956), Baltimore Orioles (1956)
Notes: Went 93-114 with a 3.55 ERA in 13-year career…All-Star in 1946 and 1948…won at least 10 games six times, at least 15 games once…threw only one pitch in major league debut…wore a single-digit number in 1941, a rarity for a pitcher

John Romonosky – Died October 2, aged 82
Position: Pitcher
Teams: St. Louis Cardinals (1953), Washington Senators (1958-1959)
Notes: Went 3-4 with 5.15 ERA in 32 big league games…decent hitter, posted .231 batting average…best year was 1959—he went 1-0 with a 3.29 ERA in 12 games…fought in Korean War

Ralph Hodgin – Died October 4, aged 96
Position: Outfielder/third baseman
Boston Braves (1939), Chicago White Sox (1943-1944, 1946-1948)
Hit .285 with four home runs and 188 RBI in six-year career…White Sox’ starting third baseman in 1943 and 1944…struck out only 63 times in 1,689 at-bats (26.8 AB/K)…played in minors for 16 seasons, hitting .307 with 2,148 hits

Cy Buker – Died October 11, aged 92
Position: Pitcher
Brooklyn Dodgers (1945)
Went 7-2 with a 3.30 ERA in 42 games in only big league season…won 42 games at minor league level…played eight years in minors…served in American military during World War II, but was discharged due to asthma

Don Williams – Died October 16, aged 80
Position: Pitcher
Teams: Pittsburgh Pirates (1958-1959), Kansas City Athletics (1962)
Went 0-0 with a 7.20 ERA in 11 big league games…identical twin brother Dewie played in minor leagues…fought during Korean War…went 66-45 in nine minor league seasons

Merritt Ranew – Died October 18, aged 73
Position: Catcher
Houston Colt .45s (1962), Chicago Cubs (1963-1964), Milwaukee Braves (1964), California Angels (1965), Seattle Pilots (1969)
Notes: Hit .247 with eight home runs and 54 RBI in five-year career…hit .338 in 78 games in 1963…spent 14 years in minors, hitting .286 with 915 hits…hit .340 or better twice at minor league level

Roy Smalley – Died October 22, aged 85
Chicago Cubs (1948-1953), Milwaukee Braves (1954), Philadelphia Phillies (1955-1958)
Notes: Hit .227 with 61 home runs and 305 RBI in 11-year career…slugged 21 dingers for Cubs in 1950…traded for pitcher Dave Cole in 1954…replaced by Hall of Fame shortstop Ernie Banks…managed in the minors

Bert Cueto – Died October 25, aged 74
Position: Pitcher
Teams: Minnesota Twins (1961)
Notes: Went 1-3 with 7.17 ERA in seven games…first four batters he faced were all studs: Luis Aparicio, Nellie Fox, Minnie Minoso and Roy Sievers in that order…first six batters he faced were all All-Stars at one point

Dave Cole – Died October 26, aged 81
Position: Pitcher
Teams: Boston Braves (1950-1952), Milwaukee Braves (1953), Chicago Cubs (1954), Philadelphia Phillies (1955)
Went 6-18 with a 4.93 ERA in six-year career…posted 1.13 ERA in first big league stint… hit .230 with three home runs in 61 at-bats…pitched six years in minors, winning 32 games

Ricky Adams – Died October 28, aged 52
Position: Infielder
Teams: California Angels (1982-1983), San Francisco Giants (1985)
Notes: Hit .215 with four home runs and 16 RBI in 120 games…best year was arguably 1983, when he hit .250 in 58 games…spent 11 years in the minors, hitting .276…hit over .300 at minor league level three times

Mickey Scott – Died October 30, aged 64
Position: Relief pitcher
Teams: Baltimore Orioles (1972-1973), Montreal Expos (1973), California Angels (1975-1977)
Notes: Went 8-7 with a 3.72 ERA in 133 appearances…never started a game at big league level…posted 2.74 ERA in first season, 3.27 mark between 1975 and 1976…spent nine years in minors, going 60-32 with a 3.20 ERA

Houston Astros prospect Dustin Kellogg, All-American Girls Professional League player Joan Jaykowski, Cincinnati Reds owner Carl Lindner and Negro Leaguers Bill “Ready” Cash and Sonny Smith passed away recently as well.

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MLB News: Recent Baseball Deaths – Part II Wed, 19 Oct 2011 16:00:04 +0000 Here’s the rundown of some more recently reported baseball deaths, ordered by date of death.

Ted Gray – Died June 15, aged 86
Position: Pitcher
Teams: Detroit Tigers (1946, 1948-1954), Chicago White Sox (1955), Cleveland Indians (1955),  New York Yankees (1955), Baltimore Orioles (1955)
Notes: Went 10-7 with a 4.40 ERA in 1950, earning All-Star selection…won 59 games in big league career…led pitchers in fielding percentage in 1948…had 2.07 ERA in minors in 1942…served in World War II

Richie Myers – Died June 24, aged 81
Position:  Pinch Runner
Teams: Chicago Cubs (1956)
Notes: Appeared in four games for Cubs in 1956 and had one at-bat…scored one run at big league level…spent nine years in minors, including six in Pacific Coast League…hit as many as 18 home runs in a season

Elmer Sexauer – Died June 27, aged 85
Position: Pitcher
Brooklyn Dodgers (1948)
Notes: Pitched two games at major league level…posted 13.50 ERA with no decisions…1948 was only season in professional baseball…went 11-7 with a 2.25 ERA in 24 games at minor league level

Billy Baldwin – Died June 28, aged 60
Position: Outfielder
Teams: Detroit Tigers (1975), New York Mets (1976)
Notes: Hit .273 in nine games with Mets…hit .231 with five home runs and 13 RBI in 39 big league games…traded to Mets with Mickey Lolich for Bill Laxton and Rusty Staub…hit .283 in minors

Don Buddin – Died June 30, aged 77
Position: Shortstop
Teams: Boston Red Sox (1956, 1958-1961), Houston Colt .45s (1962), Detroit Tigers (1962)
Notes: Hit .241 with 41 home runs and 225 RBI in 711 big league games…Hit over 10 home runs twice…traded for Eddie Bressoud in 1961…played in minors until 1965…hit as many as 25 home runs at the minor league level

Wes Covington – Died July 4, aged 79
Position: Left Fielder
Teams: Milwaukee Braves (1956-1961), Chicago White Sox (1961), Kansas City Athletics (1961), Philadelphia Phillies (1961-1965), Chicago Cubs (1966), Los Angeles Dodgers (1966)
Notes: Hit .279 with 131 home runs and 499 RBI in 11-year career…hit .305 with 45 home runs and 139 RBI between 1957 and 1958…hit over .300 twice…had four RBI in 1958 World Series…hit .312 in minors

Dick Williams – Died July 7, aged 82
Position: Manager, outfielder
Teams: As player: Brooklyn Dodgers (1951-1954, 1956), Baltimore Orioles (1956-1957, 1958, 1961-1962), Cleveland Indians (1957), Kansas City Athletics (1959-1960), Boston Red Sox (1963-1964). As manager: Boston Red Sox (1967-1969), Oakland Athletics (1971-1973), California Angels (1974-1976), Montreal Expos (1977-1981), San Diego Padres (1982-1985), Seattle Mariners (1986-1988)
Notes: Won 1,571 games as manager…led teams to four Pennants and two World Series titles…won over 90 games seven times and 100 games once…as player, hit .260 with 70 home runs and 331 RBI…hit as many as 16 home runs in a season…elected to Hall in 2008

Howard Hilton – Died July 12, aged 47
Position: Pitcher
Teams: St. Louis Cardinals (1990)
Notes: Pitched in two games with Cardinals…posted 0.00 ERA…first batter he faced was Spike Owen…last batter he faced was Spike Owen…pitched in minors for eight seasons…won 44 games at that level

Tex Nelson – Died July 22, 2011, aged 74
Position: Outfielder
Teams: Baltimore Orioles (1955-1957)
Notes: Played 79 games for Orioles over three seasons…hit .205…two of his five hits in 1957 were triples…two of his 14 hits in 1956 were doubles…spent five years in minors…hit as high as .301 there

Mike Palm – Died July 24, aged 86
Position: Pitcher
Teams: Boston Red Sox (1948)
Notes: Cup of coffee lasted three games…posted 6.00 ERA…walked five batters in three innings…struck out one…went 14-8 with a 2.20 ERA for Birmingham (Southern Association) in 1948…won 54 games in minors

Hideki Irabu – Died July 27, aged 42
Position: Pitcher
Teams: New York Yankees (1997-1999), Montreal Expos (2000-2001), Texas Rangers (2002)
Notes: Went 34-35 in major league career…won 13 games for Yankees in 1998…pitched in Japan for nearly a decade before moving stateside…pitched in Japan for two years after leaving majors

Joe Caffie – Died August 1, aged 80
Position: Outfielder
Teams: Cleveland Indians (1956-1957)
Notes: Hit .342 in first year with Indians…hit .291 with three home runs and 11 RBI in  career…nicknamed “Rabbit”…played in Negro Leagues…spent 11 years in minors, hitting as high as .342

Al Federoff – Died August 2, aged 87
Position: Second Baseman
Teams: Detroit Tigers (1951-1952)
Notes: Hit .238 with 14 RBI in 76 big league games…averaged more than one walk per strikeout…had .973 fielding percentage…played 14 seasons in minor leagues, collecting nearly 2,000 hits at that level…hit as high as .308 on the farm

Joe Trimble  – Died August 11, aged 80
Position: Pitcher
Teams: Boston Red Sox (1955), Pittsburgh Pirates (1957)
Notes: Posted 0.00 ERA in cup of coffee with Red Sox…went 0-2 with 7.48 ERA in career…pitched six seasons in minors…won as many as 11 games at that level…had .733 winning percentage in 1955

Bob Will – Died August 11, aged 80
Position: Right Fielder
Teams: Chicago Cubs (1957-1958, 1960-1963)
Notes: Hit .247 with nine home runs and 87 RBI in 410 big league games…was Cubs’ starting right fielder in 1958…was used as a pinch hitter most of career…spent eight years in minors…hit .333 at that level

Ernie Johnson – Died August 12, aged 87
Position: Pitcher
Teams: Boston Braves (1950, 1952), Milwaukee Braves (1953-1958), Baltimore Orioles (1959)
Notes: Early relief pitcher…posted .635 winning percentage…had 1.29 ERA in 1957 World Series…led NL pitchers in fielding percentage in 1954…went 40-23…served as broadcaster in Braves organization for decades

Mike Flanagan – Died August 24, aged 59
Position: Pitcher
Teams: Baltimore Orioles (1975-1987, 1991-1992), Toronto Blue Jays (1987-1990)
Notes: Won 167 games in big league career…won 15 or more games five times, 20 or more games once…1979 Cy Young winner…1978 All-Star…received votes for the Hall of Fame in 1998…finished 6th in AL MVP voting in 1979

Frank Fanovich – Died August 27, aged 88
Position: Pitcher
Teams: Cincinnati Reds (1949), Philadelphia Athletics (1953)
Notes: Pitched in 55 games…posted 5.49 ERA…struck out 64 batters…fought in World War II…played eight seasons in minor leagues…won 73 games at that level…posted 2.41 ERA and won 16 games in 1947

Executive Howard Fox, Negro Leaguer Willie Williams, Mexican League Hall of Famer Leo Rodriguez and Manny McIntyre, the first African-Canadian to play professional baseball, died recently as well.

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MLB News: Recent Baseball Deaths – Part I Wed, 05 Oct 2011 17:00:16 +0000 Since I last wrote about deaths in baseball way back in May, quite a few notable players have passed on – including former All-Stars and even a Hall of Famer. Here’s the rundown of some recently reported passings, ordered by date of death.

Randy Brown – Died April 13, 1998, aged 54
Position: Catcher
Teams: California Angels (1969-1970)
Notes: Died in 1998, though death wasn’t reported until May 2011…hit .138 at major league level…played in 18 games…hit .337 in first professional season…wore number 28…collected first hit off of Marty Pattin

Cardell Camper – Died December 7, 2010, aged 58
Position: Pitcher
Teams: Cleveland Indians (1977)
Notes: Died in December, though death wasn’t reported until May…pitched three games for Indians in 1977, posting a 3.86 ERA…went a combined 25-14 with an ERA below 2.70 in the minors from 1974-1975

Al Grunwald – Died January 18, aged 80
Position: Pitcher
Teams: Pittsburgh Pirates (1955), Kansas City Athletics (1959)
Notes: Pitched in nine games, starting one…was both a pitcher and a first baseman in the minor leagues…hit .250 at the plate…nicknamed “Stretch”…hit as high as .331 in the minors…only “Grunwald” to ever play in the majors

Jim Heise – Died April 21, aged 80
Position: Pitcher
Teams: Washington Senators (1957)
Notes: Pitched eight games for Senators…had 8.05 ERA…won 35 games in the minors…son of big league pitcher Clarence Heise…had 2.52 ERA in minors in 1957…had 2.93 ERA in minors in 1959

Mike Krsnich – Died April 30, aged 79
Left fielder
Teams: Milwaukee Braves (1960, 1962)
Notes: Brother of big league third baseman Rocky Krsnich…hit .333 in 1960 cup of coffee…hit .349 with 33 home runs for Topeka (Western League) in 1957…fought in Korean War…played in Japan

Mel Queen – Died May 11, aged 69
Position: Pitcher
Teams: Cincinnati Reds (1966-1969), California Angels (1970-1972)
Notes: Began career as an outfielder…went 14-8 with a 2.76 ERA for Reds in 1967…went 20-17 with a 3.14 in career…managed Blue Jays in 1997…pitching coach for Blue Jays from 1996 to 1999…batted .179…son of big league pitcher Mel Queen, Sr.

Harmon Killebrew – Died May 17, aged 74
Position: First baseman/third baseman/leftfielder
Teams: Washington Senators (1954-1960), Minnesota Twins (1961-1974), Kansas City Royals (1975)
Notes: Elected to Hall of Fame in 1984…hit 573 home runs with 1,584 RBI in 22-year career…led league in home runs six times, walks four times and RBI three times…nicknamed “Killer”…spent only three years in the minors

Carlos Pascual – Died May 12, aged 80
Position: Pitcher
Teams: Washington Senators (1950)
Notes: Brother of big league pitcher Camilo Pascual…pitched in two big league games, going 1-1 with a 2.12 ERA…completed both games…saw success as an infielder in the minors…hit .350 in 1957…Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame member

Jim Pyburn – died May 21, aged 78
Position: Center fielder
Teams: Baltimore Orioles (1955-1957)
Notes: Also spent considerable time at third base…played in 158 games over three years…hit first home run off Dick Brodowski…was a bonus baby…played football at Auburn University

Paul Splittorff – Died May 25, aged 64
Position: Pitcher
Teams: Kansas City Royals (1970-1984)
Notes: Went 166-143 in big league career…won at least 15 games four times and 20 games once…called games for Royals for over 20 years…had 2.79 ERA in the postseason…finished seventh in Cy Young voting in 1978

Bill Harris – Died May 27, aged 79
Position: Pitcher
Teams: Brooklyn Dodgers (1957), Los Angeles Dodgers (1959)
Notes: Had two cups of coffee at big league level…posted 3.12 ERA in 8.2 innings…won 174 games at minor league level…posted a tiny 0.83 ERA in 294 innings with Miami (Florida International League) in 1952…Canadian Hall of Fame member

Jose Pagan – Died June 7, aged 76
Position: Shortstop/third baseman
Teams: San Francisco Giants (1959-1965), Pittsburgh Pirates (1965-1972), Philadelphia Phillies (1973)
Notes: Hit .316 in postseason…traded for Dick Schofield in 1965…stole as many as 13 bases in a season…coached for Pirates in 1970s…hit .250 with 52 home runs and 372 RBI in 15 big league seasons

Jim Northrup – Died June 8, aged 71
Position: Outfielder
Teams: Detroit Tigers (1964-1974), Montreal Expos (1974), Baltimore Orioles (1974-1975)
Notes: Hit .267 with 153 home runs and 610 RBI in big league career…slugged two home runs with eight RBI in 1968 World Series…received vote for the Hall of Fame in 1981…hit as many as 25 home runs in a season

Executives Dick Walsh, Bill Bergesch and Negro Leaguer Eugene Smith also passed away recently.

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MLB News: 31-Year-Old Amaury Sanit Makes Major League Debut Sat, 14 May 2011 20:51:04 +0000 It always tickles my tailbone whenever an “old” career minor leaguer makes his major league debut. These grizzled veterans are the epitome of dedication, never giving up long after many of their younger, fresh-faced counterparts have been selected ahead of them for big league duty.

New York Yankees pitcher Amaury Sanit is one such “old guy.” At 31 years old, he was one of only a few tricenarians still toiling in the minor leagues—most guys his age, if they haven’t had a taste of the majors, stop playing by then. But not Sanit.

He made his debut on May 12 against the Kansas City Royals and pitched 4 2/3 innings of relief after starter Ivan Nova struggled. He allowed three runs on four hits and two walks, while striking out two batters (including the very first man he faced, Jeff Francoeur) and though he did not pitch particularly well—he left the game with a 5.79 ERA—he still accomplished what every minor league baseball player dreams of accomplishing—he played in the major leagues.

His story really begins in Cuba, where he was born in 1979. In his native land, Sanit pitched seven seasons, going 25-25 with 58 saves and a 4.11 ERA in the Cuban Serie Nacional. He was a solid pitcher who was one of the better closers of his era.

In 2003, he made the perilous trek out of Cuba. The Yankees signed him in 2008 and he pitched two games for their Dominican Summer League team—a group comprised of teens and young adults…and one 28-year-old Cuban defector. He moved stateside in 2009, pitched for three teams and performed well with each—combined, he posted a 3.16 ERA with 10 saves.

Then he got in trouble with the law—the laws governing baseball, that is. During the 2010 season, Sanit was caught using much-maligned performance enhancing drugs, which earned him a 50 game suspension. For a 30-year-old minor leaguer, such an event can be the death knell for a professional career.

Not for Sanit, however. He bounced back from his transgression and pitched well to start the 2011 minor league season, winning two games and striking out 24 batters in 16 1/3 innings.

And then he got the call that 100 percent of all minor leaguers yearn for, but only a small percent receive. Amaury Sanit, after years of playing baseball in various countries all over the world, is now a major leaguer.

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MLB News: Recent baseball passings Sun, 08 May 2011 21:22:28 +0000 Here’s a rundown of some recent baseball deaths.

Jose Ortiz – Died January 20, aged 63

Though he died in late January, Jose Ortiz’s death was not reported until mid-March. An outfielder, he played in the majors from 1969 to 1971 and performed quite well in limited duty, hitting .301 with three stolen bases, 14 runs and six RBI in 67 games. He began his career with the Chicago White Sox, however on November 30, 1970, he was traded to the neighboring Chicago Cubs with first baseman Ossie Blanco for pinch hitter Roe Skidmore and pitchers Pat Jacquez and Dave Lemonds. He spent 11 seasons in the minor leagues, hitting .286 with at least 176 stolen bases in 1,159 games. He later managed at the minor league level, skippering in the Arizona League in 1999 and 2000.

Joe Frazier – Died February 15, aged 88

Joe Frazier both played and managed at the big league level. An outfielder and pinch hitter during his playing days, Frazier spent time with the Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Baltimore Orioles. In 217 games, he hit .241 with 10 home runs and 45 RBI, with his best year being 1954, when he hit .295 with three home runs and 18 RBI in 81 games. He skippered the New York Mets in 1977 and 1978, after successfully managing in their system for eight years. As a minor leaguer, he hit .282 with 144 home runs in 14 seasons. With the Oklahoma City Indians in 1953, he hit .332 with 22 home runs, 55 doubles and 113 RBI.

Len Gilmore – Died February 18, aged 93

Len “Meow” Gilmore spent one game in the big leagues, pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1944. Though he allowed seven runs on 13 hits against his opponent, the Philadelphia Phillies, Gilmore still logged a complete game, making him one of only five players since 1920 to finish his only big league appearance. Even more incredibly, Gilmore went the distance without striking out a single batter. He performed much better in the minor leagues, going 128-94 in 11 seasons. In 1944, he went 21-5 with a 2.63 ERA for the Albany Senators.

Spook Jacobs – Died February 18, aged 85

Second baseman Spook Jacobs played in the big leagues from 1954 to 1956, donning the Philadelphia Athletics, Kansas City Athletics and Pittsburgh Pirates uniforms in that three-year span. He performed well as a rookie in 1954, hitting .258 with 63 runs and 17 stolen bases in 508 at-bats for the Athletics—however, he would never again duplicate his initial success, as he hit .247 overall in his career. He showed a dearth of power in his three seasons, as he slugged only .274, but he made up for that with a good eye at the plate (he had 80 walks to only 32 strikeouts) and good speed. He played 14 years in the minors, hitting .300 with only nine home runs in 6,537 at-bats.

Buddy Lewis – Died February 18, aged 94

Washington Senators player Buddy Lewis was an All-Star twice in a career that lasted from 1935 to 1949, with World War II an interruption in-between. He hit .297 with 71 home runs and 607 RBI in his 11-year career, with his All-Star nods coming almost a decade apart in 1938 and 1947. His best year, however, was probably 1939, when he hit .319 with 10 home runs, 16 triples, 75 RBI and a 132 OPS+. Not often a league leader, he paced the loop in at-bats in 1937 and triples in 1939. He split his career between third base and the outfield, performing competently at both. He only played 164 games in the minors, hitting .304 at that level.

Greg Goossen – Died February 26, aged 65

First baseman/catcher Greg Goossen played for the New York Mets, Seattle Pilots, Milwaukee Brewers and Washington Senators in a six-year career that spanned from 1965 to 1970. He hit .241 with 13 home runs and 44 RBI in his career, with his best season his second-to-last—with the Pilots in 1969, he batted .309 with 10 home runs, 24 RBI and a 175 OPS+ in 139 at-bats. He was involved in a few trades in his career, including a deal that sent three-time All-Star centerfielder Curt Flood to the Washington Senators. Goossen spent eight years in the minors, where he hit 130 home runs.

Duke Snider – Died February 27, aged 84

From 1947 to 1964, Duke Snider was one of the most respected and feared ballplayers in the game as he roamed the outfield for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets and San Francisco Giants. Mostly a centerfielder, Snider exhibited great strength, speed and agility that would land him on eight All-Star teams and, eventually, in the Hall of Fame. In 2,143 big league games, Snider hit .295 with 407 home runs, 1,333 RBI and 2,116 hits. He never won an MVP award (though in 1955, he won the Sporting News’ Major League Player of the Year Award), however he finished in the top ten in voting six times, including an astonishing five years in a row. He helped lead the Dodgers to six World Series, and though the New York Yankees vanquished them in four of those Fall Classics, Snider cannot really be to blame—he hit .286 with 11 home runs and 26 RBI in 133 World Series at-bats (including .345 with four home runs and eight RBI in the 1952 Classic, which his team lost) and ended up with two World Series rings. As Hall of Famers often do, Snider led the league in a whole slew of categories, finishing with a black ink score of 28. When he wasn’t leading the league, he was finishing close to the top as evidenced by his incredible grey ink score of 183. As a minor leaguer, Snider hit .297 with 18 home runs and 43 RBI in 344 games.

Scott Cary – Died February 28, aged 87

Pitching for the Washington Senators in 1947, Scott Cary went 3-1 with a 5.93 ERA in 23 games (three starts). He tossed a single complete game, which came on September 1—in that match, he held the Philadelphia Athletics to eight hits and four runs. He pitched three years in the minors, going 38-26 with an ERA around 3.00. In 1946, with the Orlando Senators, he went 22-7 with a 2.08 ERA in 36 games.

Bob McNamara – Died March 9, aged 94

One of the last players to appear in the 1930s, infielder Bob McNamara worked in nine games for the 1939 Philadelphia Phillies, collecting two hits in nine at-bats for a .222 batting average. One of his two hits was a double which came off future Hall of Famer Ted Lyons. He spent three years in the minor leagues, and though his statistical record is incomplete, it is known that he collected at least 168 hits, of which at least 30 were doubles, four were triples and four were home runs.

Mitchell Page – Died March 12, aged 59

Mitchell Page had a solid eight-year career for the Oakland Athletics and Pittsburgh Pirates, which lasted from 1977 to 1984. Originally drafted by the Pirates, he was involved in a big trade in March 1977 that sent Tony Armas, Doug Bair, Dave Guisti, Rick Langford and Doc Medich to the Athletics for Chris Batton, Phil Garner and Tommy Helms. In 1977, he had an incredible rookie season—he hit .307 with 21 home runs, 75 RBI, 42 stolen bases and a 154 OPS+, finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting behind only Eddie Murray. He followed that up with a solid sophomore year (.285 average, 17 home runs, 70 RBI, 23 stolen bases, 134 OPS+), but never again performed as well as he did in 1977. Overall, he batted .266 with 72 home runs, 104 stolen bases and 259 RBI in 673 games. He also spent eight years in the minors, hitting .292 with 114 home runs in 678 games. Following his playing career, he became a coach at both the minor and major league levels.

Marty Marion – Died March 15, aged 93

The 1944 National League MVP, shortstop Marty Marion was a seven-time All-Star who some believe should be in the Hall of Fame. He played from 1940 to 1950 and from 1952 to 1953, hitting .263 with 36 home runs and 624 RBI. Though he won the MVP in 1944, his best year probably came a couple years earlier in 1942, when he hit .276 and led the league in doubles with 38 (that year, he finished seventh in MVP voting. He would finish in the top-10 once more in his career, 1945, when he placed eighth). He played in four World Series, helping lead the Cardinals to victory in three of them by hitting seven doubles and driving in 11 runs in 78 Fall Classic at-bats. He was an especially solid defender, leading league shortstops in fielding percentage four times, putouts twice and assists twice. Following his career, he garnered quite a bit of Hall of Fame support, as he received votes for election multiple times, earning as much as 40.0% of the vote. As a minor leaguer, he hit .260 with 20 home runs in 509 games.

Fred Sanford – Died March 15, aged 91

Pitcher Fred Sanford went 37-55 in a seven-year career that lasted from 1946 to 1951 with a small cup of coffee in 1943. He played for the St. Louis Browns, New York Yankees and Washington Senators. Despite leading the league in losses, he had arguably his best year in 1948 when he went 12-24 with a 4.64 ERA in 227 innings of work. He had nine complete games and a career-high 79 strikeouts that year. In 1949 and 1950, he helped lead the Yankees to the World Series, though he did not pitch in either Fall Classic. Interestingly, he was traded for Dick Starr twice in his career—the first deal came in December 1948, when Starr was sent with All-Star catcher Sherm Lollar and others from the Yankees to the Browns for Sanford and catcher Roy Partee. The second transaction took place in June 1951, when Sanford was traded by the Senators to the Browns for Starr. As a minor leaguer, he went 94-91 in 268 games over nine seasons.

Tom Dunbar – Died March 16, aged 51

Outfielder Tom Dunbar spent parts of three years in the big leagues, from 1983 to 1985, hitting .231 with three home runs and 18 RBI in 91 games for the Texas Rangers. His best season was his second, when he hit .258 with two home runs and 10 RBI in 97 at-bats—he hit .250 the year before and .202 in his final season. He also spent 12 years in the minors, hitting .283 with 89 home runs and 614 RBI in 1,300 games. In 1982, he hit .323 with 16 home runs and 85 RBI, making that year his best professional season as a whole. A first round pick by the Rangers in 1980, Dunbar never lived up to the hype, yet he still managed to put together a solid minor league career.

Charlie Metro – Died March 18, aged 91

Outfielder Charlie Metro played from 1943 to 1945 for the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Athletics, hitting .193 with three home runs and 23 RBI in 171 games. Though not a solid hitter, he showed some signs of brilliance at the plate—including back-to-back three hit games in June 1945. As a minor leaguer, he performed considerably better, hitting .257 with 133 home runs in 16 seasons. His best year came in 1948, when with the Twin Fall Cowboys, he hit .351 with 22 dingers. Metro also managed in the minor leagues for many seasons, leading his teams four league championship victories. He worked his way up to the major leagues, skippering the Chicago Cubs for part of 1962 and the Kansas City Royals for a single game in 1970. He also scouted for many years.

Tom McAvoy – Died March 19, aged 74

Pitcher Tom McAvoy spent only one game in the major leagues, which took place on September 27, 1959 with the Washington Senators. In the bottom of the second inning, he replaced starting pitcher Jim Kaat, who had allowed six earned runs. He pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and two walks. He even faced legendary slugger Ted Williams, who promptly grounded out to second base. In the minors, he went 38-72 with a 4.74 ERA in seven seasons. He later became involved in fastpitch softball and was inducted into the International Softball Congress Hall of Fame.

Bob Rush – Died March 19, aged 85

Starting pitcher Bob Rush pitched from 1948 to 1960 for the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Braves and Chicago White Sox. He went 127-152 with a 3.65 ERA in his 13-year career and was named an All-Star twice—in 1950, despite finishing the year 13-20 and leading the league in losses and in 1952, when he went 17-13 with a 2.70 ERA. He was involved in one major trade in his career—on December 5, 1957, he was sent with outfielder Eddie Haas and pitcher Don Kaiser to the Braves for pitcher Taylor Phillips and catcher Sammy Taylor. He spent only one year in the minors, going 15-8 with a 2.85 ERA in 1947.

Normie Roy – Died March 22, aged 82

Nicknamed “Jumbo,” Normie Roy spent only one season in the major leagues, pitching for the Boston Braves in 1950. He was used both as a starter and in relief, going 4-3 with two complete games, four games finished and one save in 19 games (six starts). He went the distance for the first time in just his second career game and his second complete game should have been a shutout—except he allowed one unearned run. As a minor leaguer, he went 27-15 (.643 W%) over five seasons.

Tom Silverio – Died April 2, aged 65

Outfielder Tom Silverio spent parts of three seasons with the California Angels, from 1970 to 1972, where he was mostly used as a pinch hitter. In 30 career at-bats, he hit .100 with three hits, two runs scored and two walks. He played considerably longer in the minor leagues, hitting .285 with 87 home runs in 869 games over eight seasons. His son, Nelson Silverio, coached for the New York Mets in 2004.

Larry Shepard – Died April 5, aged 92

Larry Shepard was an excellent minor league pitcher, going 179-84 in 13 seasons. He won 20 or more games four seasons in a row and posted a .681 winning percentage—and yet he never reached the major leagues as a player. After his playing days, he became a successful minor league manager, eventually working his way up to the big leagues—he headed the Pittsburgh Pirates for all of 1960 and for the first 157 games of 1961. Working with such players as future Hall of Famers Robert Clemente, Willie Stargell, Bill Mazeroski and Jim Bunning, he put together a 164-155 record in nearly two full seasons at the helm. He later coached for the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants.

Eddie Joost – Died April 12, aged 94

Shortstop Eddie Joost had a long career that lasted from 1936 to 1955, with a handful of interruptions in-between. Over the course of 17 seasons, he hit .239 with 134 home runs and 601 RBI, earning a spot on two All-Star teams and finishing as high as tenth in MVP voting. He began his career with the Cincinnati Reds, helping them to a World Series victory by collecting five hits and driving in two runs in the 1940 Fall Classic, and also spent some time with the Boston Braves. Though it was with the Philadelphia Athletics where he really shined—from 1947 to 1952, his first six years with the team, he averaged 18 home runs and 68 RBI a season. He finished his career in 1955 with the Boston Red Sox. He was involved in only two trades in his career—the first sent pitcher Nate Andrews and himself to the Braves for shortstop Eddie Miller and the second sent Joost to the Cardinals (with whom he never played) for outfielder Johnny Hopp. He also played 800 games in the minors, where he hit .280 with 34 home runs. At the time of his passing, he was the oldest former Red Sox and Reds player, being replaced by Lou Lucier and Danny Litwhiler, respectively.

Reno Bertoia – Died April 15, aged 76

Reno Bertoia never played in a lot of games and he never hit for a high average, yet he still fashioned himself a solid career, which lasted from 1953 to 1962. Originally signed by the Detroit Tigers, he played in the Motor City until 1958 and then spent time with the Washington Senators and Minnesota Twins, wrapping up his career back with the Tigers in 1961 and 1962. He hit .244 with 27 home runs and 171 RBI, with highs of .275, eight and 45 respectively—though it wasn’t his offensive prowess for which he was known (though as a minor leaguer, he hit .288 with 19 home runs in 261 games). He was a very versatile defender, starting games at third base, second base and shortstop and finishing in the top five among third basemen in fielding percentage in 1957 and 1960. He was involved in multiple notable trades in his career, including one that netted the Tigers All-Stars Rocky Bridges and Eddie Yost. With his passing, only one Italy-born big leaguer remains: 91-year-old Rugger Ardizoia.

Bobo Osborne – Died April 15, aged 75

First baseman Bobo Osborne played from 1957 to 1959 and 1961 to 1963 for the Detroit Tigers and Washington Senators, hitting .206 with 17 home runs and 86 RBI in his six big league seasons. Interestingly, he best season was his very last (and his very first, and only, with the Senators, to whom he was traded by the Tigers on March 23, 1963 for outfielder Wayne Comer)—he hit 12 home runs and 14 doubles with 76 hits, 42 runs and 44 RBI in 1963, by far all career highs. Nevertheless, his power output was not enough to counter his .212 average, as he was replaced by the Senators for the 1964 season. In the minor leagues, Osborne played considerably longer—and better as a result. In 12 seasons, he hit .263 with 190 home runs and 247 doubles, with his best season coming in 1960 for the Denver Bears, with whom he hit .342 with 34 home runs and 40 doubles (all career highs). He later managed in the minors and became a scout for the San Francisco Giants.

Bobby Thompson – Died April 25, aged 57

Outfielder Bobby Thompson played in the big leagues for the Texas Rangers in 1978, with whom he hit .225 with two home runs, 12 RBI and seven stolen bases in 64 games. He arrived in the big leagues with a bang, hitting .333 through his first eight games, though he slowly tapered off after that. He played in the minors for six seasons, stealing at least 165 bases with a career-high of 65 in 1975.

Duane Pillette – Died May 6, aged 88

Pitcher Duane Pillette worked in the big leagues from 1949 to 1956 for the New York Yankees, St. Louis Browns, Baltimore Orioles and Philadelphia Athletics. He went 38-66 with 34 complete games, four shutouts and a 4.40 ERA in his career. He had perhaps his best season in 1954, when he went 10-14 with 11 complete games and a 3.12 ERA in 25 starts for the Orioles. In 1949, he helped lead the Yankees to the World Series by going 2-4 with a 4.34 ERA in 12 games. He was involved in a couple deals in his career, though the most notable transaction took place on June 15, 1950 when he was traded by the Yankees with Jim Delsing, Don Johnson, Snuffy Stirnweiss and cash to the Browns for Tom Ferrick, Joe Ostrowski and Leo Thomas. As a minor leaguer, he went 74-61 in 11 seasons.

Former Negro Leaguers Elmer Carter, Bill Deck, Stanley “Doc” Glenn and Emilio Navarro, Red Sox general manager Lou Gorman, Cardinals co-owner Drew Baur and umpires Bill Kinnamon and Frank Dezelan passed away recently as well.

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Looking back: A review of some pre-2010 milestone predictions Tue, 12 Apr 2011 19:48:40 +0000 From time to time I like to go back into the archives and read some of the older posts I have written. Most of the time I wind up criticizing myself, realizing two years after the fact that I could have written this better, or been more succinct with that, or totally left an irrelevant morsel of worthless information out altogether.

Sometimes, I find myself reading an article wherein I make various predictions—who’ll win the World Series, who’ll make the Hall of Fame, that sort of thing. Well, today I was reading an article from January 2010 where I attempted as best I could to predict which players would reach various baseball milestones like 500 home runs, 3,000 hits and so forth. Let me just say this: never ask me to pick your lottery numbers for you.

Now, the beginning of the article was something of a tease—I actually (surprisingly?) started off pretty well. For example, I said before the 2010 season that no really momentous milestones were going to be met that year—and I got that pretty much right. I said that Derek Jeter would finish the season within 100 hits of 3,000, and I got that right too! Oh man, two in a row!

Ah, oh, uh-oh. This is where it gets bad. Just a tiny bit further down the article I predicted the chances of guys like Ken Griffey, Jr. and Ivan Rodriguez reaching the big 3K, 3,000 hits—Griffey had a 28% chance according to my random-number-but-it-sounds-good odds generator and Pudge had a 53% chance. Well, uh, Griffey has retired and Rodriguez is a 39-year-old catcher who still needs nearly 200 hits to reach the magical marker. (All hope is not lost for Pudge, however. I have revised my previous prediction and now give Rodriguez, rather than Griffey, a 28% chance of reaching 3,000 hits).

But hey, add another one to the “you got it right” column for me! I said of Garret Anderson, “I don’t think he’ll stick around long enough to get to [3,000 hits],” and since he retired prior to the 2011 season, I was correct! But, temper the joy, temper the joy—I also hinted that Manny Ramirez might play until 2014 and reach 3,000 knocks—well, since he just retired, I don’t think that will happen any time soon. So, again, I was wrong.

Onto the home run predictions—this is where it gets good. The following is a list of players I said might have a shot at reaching 500 home runs by 2014:

Carlos Delgado
Chipper Jones
Vladimir Guerrero
Andruw Jones

Now, here is a list of players who I presently don’t think will reach 500 home runs by 2014:

Carlos Delgado
Chipper Jones
Vladimir Guerrero
Andruw Jones

Oh, how haughty I was about Delgado in my pseudo-prescience! How sure, how unequivocally sure I was that he would reach 500 dingers! In fact, I did not say he might reach the mark—nay, I almost guaranteed it! Excuse me while I release this hearty chuckle, while I admonish my foolishness, my downright credulity.

And, sure, I wasn’t as completely certain about Jones and Guerrero reaching the mark, however I insisted that both would stick around to blast the big five-zero-zero, an event sure to take place sometime in 2014. Jones, at 39, is still over 60 home runs away, as is Vlad, who is 36.

And don’t get me started on Andruw Jones. About him I said, “It’s not likely, but the possibility [of reaching 500 home runs] is still there.” Ahem, I’ll just go out the back door if you don’t mind.

Now, perhaps I’m treating myself too harshly. I mean, sure, I didn’t completely rule out Andy Pettitte reaching 300 wins and yes, I did say that Javier Vazquez, in all his greatness, would reach 3,000 strikeouts and become a “potential Hall of Famer.” And, yeah, I did say that Chipper Jones was going to reach 2,500 hits last year (it took him until April 2011 to actually do it) and that Luis Castillo and Brian Giles were going to reach 2,000 hits themselves and that Joe Nathan would reach 250 saves in 2010. However, I did accurately predict that Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon would reach 2,500 hits last year, that Magglio Ordonez would reach 2,000 hits that season and that Francisco Rodriguez would reach 250 saves in 2010 as well. So, I saved some of my credibility. I guess.

Okay, okay, so it’s clear that I wasn’t the best at predicting which milestones would be reached within the next few years and by whom. But, that’s the predictions game—there’s definitely no guarantee they’ll be right (and a helluva good chance they’ll be wrong).

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The Fading of 1990s Baseball: An Update Wed, 16 Mar 2011 11:31:23 +0000 Last June, I wrote an article detailing the end of an era—that is, 1990s baseball. Fewer and fewer players from that decade remain as the years slowly creep forward.

When I wrote the article, there were, by my estimate, 130 1990s players still active in Major League Baseball. Let’s see just how many of those players will be around in 2011.

This is the original list of the 1990s players still active in the majors in 2010. It is organized by year of debut.

1990: None.
1991: Arthur Rhodes, Ivan Rodriguez, Jim Thome.
1992: Miguel Batista, Matt Stairs, Tim Wakefield.
1993: Brad Ausmus, Jim Edmonds, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Darren Oliver, Manny Ramirez.
1994: Garret Anderson, Chan Ho Park, Alex Rodriguez.
1995: Mike Cameron, Juan Castro, Craig Counsell, Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, Mark Grudzielanek, LaTroy Hawkins, Derek Jeter, Ron Mahay, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Jeff Suppan, Mike Sweeney, Billy Wagner, Greg Zaun.
1996: Bobby Abreu, Miguel Cairo, Luis Castillo, Vladimir Guerrero, Livan Hernandez, Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones, Jason Kendall, Trever Miller, Brian Mohler, Edgar Renteria, Scott Rolen, Jamie Wright.
1997: Henry Blanco, Orlando Cabrera, Chris Carpenter, Frank Catalanotto, Jose Guillen, Todd Helton, Torii Hunter, Paul Konerko, Mark Kotsay, Derrek Lee, Derek Lowe, Kevin Millwood, Magglio Ordonez, David Ortiz, Dennys Reyes, Fernando Tatis, Miguel Tejada, Jason Varitek.
1998: Ronnie Belliard, Adrian Beltre, Russell Branyan, Tim Byrdak, Eric Chavez, Bruce Chen, Alex Cora, Ryan Dempster, Mark DeRosa, J.D. Drew, Troy Glaus, Alex Gonzalez, Carlos Guillen, Jerry Hairston, Roy Halladay, Wes Helms, Bob Howry, Gabe Kapler, Mike Lowell, Bengie Molina, Russ Ortiz, Carl Pavano, A.J. Pierzynski, Placido Polanco, Aramis Ramirez, Mike Redmond, Javier Vazquez, Randy Winn, Kerry Wood
1999: Rick Ankiel, Rod Barajas, Kris Benson, Lance Berkman, Casey Blake, Geoff Blum, A.J. Burnett, Ramon Castro, Francisco Cordero, Doug Davis, Octavio Dotel, Chad Durbin, Kyle Farnsworth, Ryan Franklin, Freddy Garcia, Cristian Guzman, Ramon Hernandez, Tim Hudson, Adam Kennedy, Jason LaRue, Carlos Lee, Ted Lilly, Mike Lincoln, Damaso Marte, Gary Matthews, John McDonald, Gil Meche, Jose Molina, Melvin Mora, Guillermo Mota, Ramon Ortiz, Vicente Padilla, J.C. Romero, Scott Schoeneweis, Alfonso Soriano, Jeff Weaver, Vernon Wells, Dan Wheeler, Randy Wolf.

From the above list, a few players have since retired:

Garret Anderson (1994 debut)
Brad Ausmus (1993)
Kris Benson (1999)
Frank Catalanotto (1997)
Jim Edmonds (1993)
Mark Grudzeilanek (1995)
Trevor Hoffman (1993)
Bob Howry (1998)
Jason LaRue (1999)
Mike Lowell (1998)
Gil Meche (1999)
Russ Ortiz (1998)
Andy Pettitte (1995)
Mike Redmond (1998)
Billy Wagner (1995)
Gregg Zaun (1995)

Some are currently free-agents, despite Opening Day being just a few short weeks away:

Doug Davis (1999 debut)
Troy Glaus (1998)
Jose Guillen (1997)
Cristian Guzman (1999)
Mike Lincoln (1999)
Gary Matthews (1999)
Kevin Millwood (1997)
Brian Moehler (1996)
Bengie Molina (1998)
Scott Schoeneweis (1999)
Mike Sweeney (1995)
Fernando Tatis (1997)
Jeff Weaver (1999)

And one has even gone overseas:

Chan-Ho Park (to Orix Buffaloes in Japan)

It should be noted that two names can be added to the list of 1990s players who are still active. When I wrote the article last year, Mike Hampton (1993 debut) and David Riske (1999 debut) had not yet appeared in the majors—however, they made their season debuts later on. Some others who played in 2010 did not make the list last year, either (because of personal error or because they were not in the majors at the time), however they are currently free-agents: Elmer Dessens (1996 debut), Jay Payton (1998), Scott Strickland (1999) and Chris Woodward (1999). Russ Springer (1992 debut), who made his 2010 debut in July, retired in January 2011.

In addition, my numbers from last year need to be revised. Last season, I said 1,830 players made their debuts in the 1990s—that is incorrect. In actuality, 1,879 players made their debuts in those years. I also said that only 130 were still active (that is, they played in the big leagues in 2010). Factoring in the players that I missed and the players that appeared after I wrote the article, that number has changed to 138—meaning 7.3% of 1990s players were still around, as opposed to the 6.9% I stated last year. Even after revising the details, one thing is still certain: 1990s baseball is definitely waning.

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2012 Baseball Hall of Fame Election: Looking Ahead Fri, 04 Mar 2011 17:00:38 +0000 With the beginning of the 2011 baseball season right around the corner, there is no better time than now to analyze the upcoming Hall of Fame election, which is just eight short months away.

The 2012 voting (which actually occurs in late 2011) is going to be interesting—the calm before the storm, so to speak. While 2013 is going to feature many notable first-timers on the ballot like Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza, Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio, Sammy Sosa and Curt Schilling—which will make for a very exciting and debate-laden election—2012 does not feature any slam dunk new arrivals, or any shoo-in holdovers.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good baseball players that might make* their first appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot in this upcoming election cycle. 300-home run hitters Vinny Castilla, Jeromy Burnitz and Ruben Sierra are all eligible for the first time in 2012, as are consistent sluggers Bernie Williams, Tim Salmon and Javy Lopez.

*I say “might make” because the official final ballot will not be released for a few months.

In terms of pitching, there is 20-year veteran Terry Mulholland, as well as solid starters Brad Radke, Scott Erickson and Pedro Astacio. Danny Graves, with 182 career saves, and Jeff Nelson, with a 3.41 career ERA, are also eligible for the first time this year.

As stated, there are a lot of good names in the mix of new guys, but hardly any real Hall of Famers.

The following is a detailed run down the most noteworthy newcomers. Included are their career pluses and how I think they will do in the upcoming election.

Bernie Williams-Williams is the best newbie on the ballot. In a 16-year career, he hit .297 with 287 home runs, 2,336 hits, 1,366 runs and 1,257 RBI. He was an All-Star five times, a Gold Glover four times and a Silver Slugger once. Being a Yankee for his entire career, he appeared in many post-season series, hitting .275 with 22 home runs and 80 RBI in the playoffs. He is the owner of four World Series rings.

Many players who spent their entire careers (or large parts of their careers) with the Yankees have benefitted from the “Yankee factor” in the past—that is, because they played with the most well-known and successful baseball team ever, they tended to get more support. I have the feeling the same will happen with Williams. Very likely, he will receive 10-20% of the Hall of Fame vote this coming year and will remain on the ballot for many years to come, just as Don Mattingly has done year after year.

Javy Lopez-As far as catchers go, Lopez put up some very impressive numbers—his .287 batting average, 260 home runs and 864 RBI rank seventh,* fourth and fourth, respectively, among all big league catchers who played from 1990 to 2010. He was an All-Star three times, a Silver Slugger once and in 1996 he was the National League Championship Series Most Valuable Player. In 60 post-season games, he slugged 10 home runs and drove in 28 RBI.

*Among catchers with at least 2,500 plate appearances.

The specter of steroids looms, however, which will be Lopez’s Hall of Fame death knell. If Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire can get only scant support, then Lopez will get almost none. I believe he will receive around two percent of the vote.

Tim Salmon-Salmon was one of the best players of the 1990s to never make an All-Star team. In his 14-year career, he hit .282 with 299 home runs,  1,016 RBI and a 128 OPS+. In 2003, he helped lead the Anaheim Angels to World Series glory, hitting .288 with four home runs and 12 RBI in that year’s playoffs. He was also the recipient of the 1993 American League Rookie of the Year Award, the 2002 Hutch Award and a Silver Slugger.

For some reason, when I think of Tim Salmon, I think of Fred Lynn. Unfortunately, Salmon is a poor man’s Fred Lynn—and since Lynn garnered a maximum of 5.5% of the vote, the outlook is bleak for Salmon. He’ll get around two percent of the vote.

Vinny Castilla-At first glance, Castilla’s numbers—like Williams—look very solid. He hit .276 with 320 home runs and 1,105 RBI in his career, clubbing at least 40 home runs three years in a row and leading the league in RBI in 2004. He was also an All-Star twice and a Silver Slugger three times.

Nevertheless, he posted a career OPS+ of 95, which is not a good number (100 is considered average). This can be attributed to his time spent with the Colorado Rockies—he played most of his career at Coors Field and was very much a product of the thin Denver air. Look, for example, at his home and away career splits. At home, he was a .295 hitter; away—.257. In short, he will probably do just as well as fellow Coors-ian Dante Bichette did in 2007—he’ll receive at most 1-2% of the vote and will drop off the ballot.

Ruben Sierra-In a 20-year career, Sierra hit .268 with 306 home runs, 2,152 hits, 1,322 RBI and 1,084 runs. An All-Star four times and a Silver Slugger once, he led the league in a few categories in his career, including triples, RBI and total bases in 1989. He even ranks in the top-ten on an all-time list, finishing sixth in sacrifice flies, tied with Hall of Famer George Brett.

Give Sierra’s numbers to a player who lasted only 10 years in the big leagues and you have someone with a legitimate Hall of Fame case. However, Sierra lasted twice that long, so his numbers do not seem quite so impressive—heck, he barely managed to average 100 hits a year. I imagine he will get two or three votes, maximum.

Jeromy Burnitz-Burnitz was one of the many, many 300-home run guys who played in the 1990s and 2000s. An All-Star once, he hit 315 career home runs with 981 RBI and 917 runs scored. He surpassed the 20-home run mark eight times and the 30-home run mark six times.

Burnitz will do just as well as every other 300-home run hitter from this era in Hall of Fame voting—he’ll get a token vote, maybe two.

Brad Radke-You know the crop of starting pitchers is really bad when Brad Radke is your best representative. Radke won 148 games in his major league career and was an All-Star in 1997. He posted a 3.60 post-season ERA.

He’ll get one vote from a diehard Minnesota Twins fan.

Eric Young-Power hitters will dominate the list of newcomers on the upcoming ballot, so I thought it was necessary to cover at least one speedster. Second baseman Eric Young averaged 31 stolen bases a year during an era when a 10-steal year was considered good. In his 15-year career, he stole 465 bases—swiping at least 40 bags in a season six times—and was an All-Star and Silver Slugger once apiece. He was one of only six players who played from 1990 to 2010 to steal at least 450 career bases.

Despite possessing rare speed in a power-dominated era, Eric Young will be hard-pressed to receive even a single vote for the Hall of Fame.

Jeff Nelson-The best relief pitcher of the upcoming class, Nelson made 798 appearances in his career, never starting a single game. With 237 games finished and a 133 ERA+, he was always a very solid choice out of the bullpen. He was especially solid in the post-season—in 55 playoff appearances, he had a 2.65 ERA. In 2001, he was an All-Star.

He’ll make the ballot, very likely just to give relief pitchers their own representative. He won’t get a vote.

Joe Randa-Randa, like Salmon above, never made an All-Star team despite being quite a solid player. He hit .291 with 1,542 hits, 327 doubles and 123 home runs in his 12-year career, passing the .300 batting average mark four times. He was also quite solid defensively.

He is going to have a real hard time making it onto the ballot and if he does, he won’t get a vote.

Terry Mulholland-Mulholland spent 20 years in the big leagues, winning 124 games in 685 appearances for 11 different teams. He was an All-Star in 1993.

I have a hard time believing Mulholland will make it onto the ballot. If he does, he will not receive a single vote.

Jose Vizcaino-Did you know Vizcaino played in 1,820 major league games? Neither did I. In an 18-year career, he hit .270 with 633 runs scored and a .663 OPS.

He won’t even make the Hall of Fame ballot.

Other notable first-time eligible players in this upcoming election: Carl Everett, Brian Jordan, Edgardo Alfonzo, Bill Mueller, Michael Tucker, Tony Womack, Matt Lawton, Jose Hernandez, Phil Nevin, Scott Erickson, Pedro Astacio, Jeff Fassero, Tim Worrell, Mike Remlinger, Danny Graves, Dustin Hermanson and Jose Lima.

Once again, there are a lot of solid players on that list, but no one too stupendous.

The returnee with the greatest chance of election in 2012 is shortstop Barry Larkin, but even he will have his work cut out for him. In 2010, his first year on the ballot, Larkin received 51.6% of the vote. The following year, 2011, he was on 62.1% of the ballots. If he again sees an increase in percentage of 10.5%, as he did from 2010 to 2011, he will wind up with only 72.6% of the vote—just shy of the requisite 75%.

Jack Morris has made relative strides since 2001, when he garnered a low of 19.6% of the balloting—in 2010, he reached 50% for the first time and in 2011 he received 53.5% of the vote. A jump from 62.1% to 75%, as Larkin must do to attain Hall of Fame immortality this year, is a hard enough task. Morris has more detractors than Larkin and must make a much greater jump, so his odds of reaching the magic threshold are even slimmer.

In reality, there is a good chance that a player might not be elected to the Hall of Fame this year by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Such an occurrence is rare, but it does happen—the last instance was in 1996, when four players were elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee, but none by the BBWAA. Considering the Veterans Committee has become very stingy about electing players in recent years, there is a chance that nobody will be elected through them in this upcoming cycle either (though Ron Santo has a shot, now that he is passed).

Of course, that is the pessimistic view of the situation. Optimistically, one could say that since there is such a weak crowd of newcomers, players like Larkin and Morris will receive even more support than normal, thus facilitating their elections. We’ll see.

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MLB News: Recent Baseball Passings Fri, 18 Feb 2011 00:33:15 +0000 Multiple notable baseball figures have passed away lately, including former All-Stars, well-known managers and the oldest living former baseball player.

Francisco de la Rosa – Died January 6, age 45

Pitcher Francisco de la Rosa appeared in two games for the Baltimore Orioles in 1991, posting a 4.50 ERA in four innings pitched. Though his major league career was not too notable, his minor league and overseas careers were impressive. In nine seasons on the farm, de la Rosa went 30-25 with a 3.70 ERA, surrendering only 503 hits in 571 innings. In 1990, he went 9-5 with a 2.05 ERA in 25 games (20 starts) and in 1991, before his stint in the big leagues, he went 4-1 with a 2.67 ERA in 38 games. He pitched successfully in the Dominican Winter League for many years as well, serving as a closer and a middle reliever.

Ryne Duren – Died January 6, age 81

A three-time All-Star, relief pitcher Ryne Duren played in 1954 and from 1957 to 1965 for the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Athletics, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds and Washington Senators. Over the course of his 10-year career, the bespectacled, fireballing Duren went 27-44 with a 3.83 ERA, with 630 strikeouts in 589 1/3 innings. His best years came with the Yankees—in 1958, his first season with the team, he led the league with 20 saves and posted a 2.02 ERA in 44 games. In that year’s World Series, which pitted the Yankees against the Milwaukee Braves, Duren pitched 9 1/3 innings, allowed only two runs and struck out 14 batters. The following season, he saved 14 games and had a 1.88 ERA in 41 relief appearances, striking out 96 batters in 76 2/3 innings. He also spent nine years in the minor leagues, going 95-76 with a 3.36 ERA in 271 games. In 1951, with the Dayton Indians, he went 17-8 with a 2.73 ERA and 194 strikeouts in 32 games. Though he had an already-intimidating fastball, Duren frequently threw warm-up pitches to the backstop to make opposing batters feel even more nervous.

Red Borom – Died January 7, age 95

Despite hitting .269 in 130 at-bats with the Detroit Tigers and helping them win the World Series in 1945, that year would be the last of second baseman Red Borom’s two seasons in the major leagues. Borom began his career in 1935 and toiled in the minor leagues until 1940. He did not play professionally in 1941 and 1942, and in 1943 he spent time with the United States Army, serving his nation during World War II. After being sent home due to medical problems, Borom resumed his professional career in 1944 and made his major league debut that season. In 1945, he scored 19 runs in 55 games, though his lack of power may have sealed his fate—he slugged only .300 and drove in only nine runs, relegating him to minor league status for the rest of his career. He was in the minors until 1950, playing in 1,111 games at that level. At the time of his death, he was the oldest living former Detroit Tiger.

Jose Vidal – Died January 7, age 70

Outfielder Jose Vidal spent parts of four seasons in the major leagues, from 1966 to 1969, playing for the Cleveland Indians and Seattle Pilots. Though he hit only .164 in 88 big league at-bats, he was still a very successful baseball player—in the minor leagues, that is. “Papito,” as he was nicknamed, showed a rare blend of speed and power, frequently hitting over 10 home runs and stealing over 10 bases in the same season. His best year was, by far, 1963 with the Reno Silver Sox—that season, he hit .340 with 40 home runs and 31 doubles in 139 games, numbers solid enough to earn him the California League MVP Award.

Dave Sisler – Died January 9, age 79

The son of Hall of Fame first baseman George Sisler and the brother of outfielder Dick Sisler, pitcher Dave Sisler played from 1956 to 1962 for the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Washington Senators and Cincinnati Reds. Though he was the only one of the triumvirate to never receive a major accolade (George was elected to the Hall of Fame, Dick was elected to an All-Star team) Dave quietly managed to put together a solid career. Used as both a starter and a reliever in his seven big league seasons, Dave went 38-44 with a 4.33 ERA in 247 games, allowing only 622 hits in 656 1/3 innings. Perhaps his best season was in 1960 with the Tigers, when he went 7-5 with a 2.48 ERA and a 162 ERA+ in 41 relief appearances. Though he never led the league in any pitching categories, he did lead pitchers in fielding percentage three times. As a minor leaguer, he went 18-16 with a 2.92 ERA in 56 games.

Roy Hartsfield – Died January 15, age 85

Roy Hartsfield played from 1950 to 1952 for the Boston Braves, hitting .273 with 13 home runs and 59 RBI in 265 games. Notably, he was the team’s starting second baseman in 1950 and 1951. He later became an excellent minor league manager, leading three teams to league championship victories over the course of a 19-year career skippering at that level. His performance was rewarded, when he was named the very first manager of the expansion Toronto Blue Jays, a role he held from 1977 to 1979. As a minor league player, he hit .267 with 108 home runs in 15 seasons.

Perry Currin – Died January 17, age 82

Shortstop Perry Currin hit .251 with 64 doubles, 19 triples and 21 home runs in five seasons, spanning from 1947 to 1951. That was his minor league career, at least. At the big league level, Currin played in only three games as a fresh-faced 18-year-old with the St. Louis Browns in 1947. Though he was hitless in his two major league at-bats, he did manage to draw a walk off of pitcher Joe Dobson.

George Crowe – Died January 18, age 89

First baseman George Crowe hit 31 home runs one year and was an All-Star once as well—though oddly, all those home runs and that All-Star nod did not come during the same season. In 1957 with the Cincinnati Reds, Crowe hit .271 with 31 dingers and 92 RBI at the age of 36. The next year, when he made the All-Star squad, he hit .275 with seven home runs and 61 RBI. Overall, Crowe played from 1952 to 1953 and from 1955 to 1961, spending time with the Boston Braves, Milwaukee Braves, Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals. He made his major league debut at 31 years of age after spending years in the Negro and minor leagues. As a minor leaguer, he hit .338 with 103 home runs in six seasons.

Gus Zernial – Died January 20, age 87

“Ozark Ike” spent 11 seasons in the major leagues and he powered his way through each of them. Eclipsing the 20-home run mark six times, the 30-home run mark three times and the 40-home run mark once, outfielder Gus Zernial hit 237 home runs in a career that spanned from 1949 to 1959. He played for four teams, the Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Athletics, Kansas City Athletics and Detroit Tigers and he slugged at least .465 with each. In 1951, he led the American League in home runs and RBI, and in 1953 he was an All-Star, hitting 42 home runs on the year. His major league success did not come as a surprise, however. Prior to his promotion to the major leagues, he hit .322 with 96 home runs in four minor league seasons, swatting 40 home runs for the Hollywood Stars in 1948.

Ron Piche – Died February 3, age 75

Known as “Monsieur Baseball,” Canadian native Ron Piche spent six years in the big leagues, going 10-16 with a 4.19 ERA in 134 games. He began his major league career in 1960 with the Milwaukee Braves and played with them until 1963. He did not play at the big league level in 1964, though he returned the following year with the California Angels and in 1966, he wrapped up his career with the St. Louis Cardinals. Perhaps his best season was his very first—that year, he went 3-5 with 27 games finished, nine saves and a 3.56 ERA in 37 appearances. He finished second on the Braves staff in saves and tied Don McMahon for the team lead in games finished. As a minor league, he performed very well as well—in 16 seasons, he went 130-65 in 517 games, posting a .667 winning percentage. In 1988, he was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

Woodie Fryman – Died February 4, age 70

18-year veteran Woodie Fryman won 141 games, struck out 1,587 batters and made two All-Star teams in a career that spanned from 1966 to 1983. He played for six different big league teams—the Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Detroit Tigers, Montreal Expos, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs, and won at least two games with each. Though he was solid as a starter, perhaps his most dominant streak of excellence came towards the tail-end of his career, as an aging reliever. From 1979 to 1981, pitching for the Expos, Fryman made 140 relief appearances and went 15-13 with 34 saves, 87 games finished, a 2.34 ERA and a 154 ERA+. He spent only one year in the minor leagues, 1965, going 3-4 with a 2.67 ERA in 12 games.

Cliff Dapper – Died February 8, age 91

Cliff Dapper’s major league career was short, but incredible. He spent eight games with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1942 and had only 17 at-bats with the team—but he hit .471 with a double, a home run and nine RBI. In addition, he posted an on-base percentage of .526, a slugging percentage of .706 and an OPS+ of 254. In fact, Dapper is the only ballplayer ever to have 15 or more career at-bats and a .470 or better batting average. As a minor leaguer, he hit .273 with 102 home runs in 17 seasons. Notably, with the Billings Mustangs in 1952, he hit .348 with 19 home runs. Dapper is also noteworthy for having been traded for Hall of Fame announcer Ernie Harwell. Read all about that here.

Tony Malinosky – Died February 8, age 101

Baseball’s oldest living player at the time of his passing, Tony Malinosky’s career might not have been long—but his life sure was. Born in 1909, he lived through both World Wars, the careers of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and much that we now can only read about in history books. In his own right, Malinosky fashioned himself a one-year major league career, playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1937. That season, he hit .228 in 35 games, swatting two doubles and scoring seven runs in 79 at-bats. He also spent seven seasons in the minor leagues, hitting over .300 multiple times. In 1933, he hit .320 with seven home runs in just 76 games. With Malinosky’s passing, only a handful of players from the 1930s remain, with the most notable being Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr. Mike Sandlock is now the oldest former Brooklyn Dodger, at age 95.

Chuck Tanner – Died February 11, age 82

Chuck Tanner is most well-known for his career as a manager, a job he held for 20 seasons with four major league teams. He started off with the Chicago White Sox in 1970, leading them to a .565 winning percentage and a second-place finish in 1972 and ending his time with them in 1975. He spent one season with the Oakland Athletics, leading them to a second-place finish in 1976. From 1977 to 1985, he skippered the Pittsburgh Pirates successfully, leading them to a World Series victory in 1979 as well as three other second-place finishes. He then wrapped up his career with the Atlanta Braves, managing them from 1986 to 1988. In total, Tanner won 1,352 games as manager, placing him 27th all-time—ahead of Hall of Famers Ned Hanlon and Whitey Herzog. From 1955 to 1962, Tanner played in the major leagues for the Milwaukee Braves, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Angels. He hit .261 with 21 home runs and 105 RBI as a big league outfielder. In the minors, he hit .313 in a 14-year career. He also managed at that level for several years.

Gino Cimoli – Died February 12, age 81

Gino Cimoli was an All-Star in 1957 and helped lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to World Series glory in 1960, though he is notable for one other, less publicized feat as well. On April 15, 1958, Cimoli became the very first big league batter on the West Coast, when he stepped up to bat against the San Francisco Giants’ Ruben Gomez in the top of the first inning of that history-making game. To ring in a new baseball era, Cimoli didn’t hit a home run or a double or a triple—instead, he struck out. Nevertheless, it was an important mark in California and West Coast baseball history. Cimoli began his big league career in 1956 with the Brooklyn Dodgers, with whom he played until 1957. When they moved to Los Angeles, he moved with them, spending one year in the City of Angels. He played in the majors until 1965, spending time with the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Milwaukee Braves, Kansas City Athletics, Baltimore Orioles and California Angels. In a 10-year big league career, he hit .265 with 44 home runs and 321 RBI. He also spent nine years in the minors, hitting .292 with 36 home runs.

Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies coach Carroll Beringer and umpire John Rice also died recently, as well as Negro Leaguers Cecil Kaiser and Butch McCord.

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