May 28, 2009

centerfield maz catches Ramon Castro's Citi Field Foul Ball

I am proud to say that at last nights Mets win over the Nationals, not only did I witness live, (1) the 1st ball affected by the right field Pepsi Porch over hang (2) the 4th Mets win in a row (3) Rookie Fernando Martinez getting booed for lazily not running out a pop fly that was dropped (4) another Santana win, and a wild wacky game as a whole. But I also caught the second foul ball of my life. Well I actually didn't catch it, but I benefited from a miss play of the row in front of me.

In the 2nd inning Ramon Castro hit three foul balls in my area (Section 409), I got the third. First the ball hit off some ones arm in front of me, then the ball bounced into my row, and beneath the scrum of hands, elbows and heads banging together, I came out victorious!! Yes thanks to an assist I got my first Citi Field ball. I was impressed to see all the balls used at Citi Field games have the Inaugural season logo on them.

My 1st foul ball was caught in at Shea in 2005. I was down in the 1st row off the San Francisco Giants dugout at a Sunday double header. There was hardly anyone in the seats due to the fact that the DH was added because of a prior rain out. The Giants Jason Ellison hit a high fly ball right above me, it came down like it was in slow motion. I caught it with one hand & cupped it with my other hand. The crowd cheered, and I felt like a little kid. Security came over to see if I was ok, and I said couldn't be better.

May 24, 2009

1954: New York Giants Score 21 Runs at the Polo Grounds

May 25, 1954: By todays standards a game lasting 2 minutes 54 seconds is the norm. Back in 1954 it took that long to comlplete a game where the Giants scored 21 runs pummeling the Pirates 21-4 at the Polo Grounds. The Tuesday afternoon matinee only had a crowd of 7000 plus on hand to see the Giants score the most runs they would in any game all year.

Behind Johnny Antonelli's complete game seven hitter, his sixth victory in the 21 he would win on the season, the Giants scored 21 runs on 22 hits off five different Pirates pitchers. Whitey Lockman led the charge with 4 hits and a grand slam HR to right field in the 7th inning off Joe Page. It was Lockmans 7th HR of the year and gave him 21 RBIs up to that point. Second baseman Davey Williams hit a three run shot in the 8th inning and was one of four Giants to have three hits on the day. Weak hitting catcher Ray Katt was batting .314 at the time, he had 3 hits, including a double, triple & an intentional walk, driving in five runs. Young Willie Mays had 3 hits including a triple to drive in his 29th RBI, on his way to his MVP season. Out fielder Don Mueller who was on fire batting .370 at the time, also had 3 hits driving in two runs. Mueller would go on to lead the league with 212 hits that season. Even pitcher Johnny Antonelli hit a home run, his 1st of the year, on this day. Antonelli hit 2 HRs with 9 RBIs and a .163 average on the year.

Leo Durocher's Giants were just starting to go on a roll, winning their 4th straight of a 6 game win streak, putting them 1 1/2 games out of 1st place. They would take over 1st place in two weeks, going on a tear winning 33 of their next 41 games. By July they would have a 4 game lead and never look back winning it all.

May 23, 2009

30th Anniversary of The Who's Film : The Kids Are Alright

Back in June1979 I was graduating the 8th grade, for myself and a generation (or two) The Who's Kids Are Alright album & movie was a major soundtrack to that time. It was all over the radio in the summer & fall of 1979, especially on 95.5 WPLJ in its prime. When VCRs first came out we spent many an afternoon & evening renting out this movie watching it over & over as we partied to the music, as it came alive in video.

The Kids Are Alright is movie that documents the Who's first 15 years in old television & concert footage. The producer was Jeff Stein who was a fan with no prior experience. He approached Pete Townshend in 1975 with the idea, and Pete was coaxed by the bands manager to do it. When the initial footage was shown to the band & their wives, they loved it. It was one of the first documentries where the story was told by the band and people close assciated with them. They also used the project moved forward but needed more recent material. A film crew followed Keith Moon around for a week getting some great Moon material including his 31st birthday. There was the great segment of Keith destroying a hotel room with Steve Martin along side him, an interview where a leather clad girl is whipping him behind a leather mask, and a funny on going interview with his good friend Ringo Starr.

There were no good performances existing on film of for two of their biggest songs. (Won't Get Fooled Again & Baba O'Reiley). So after two private filming's in 1978 new footage of Wont Get Fooled Again, & Baba O' Reily were completed in front of an invited audience that summer. These two fantastic performances would come to define the two songs visually for millions of Who fans. This performance marked the last time Keith Moon would perform live with the Who. At Londons Battersea's studio a great promo for Who Are You, their newest record of the time, was also filmed along with a rendition of the oldies classic Barbra Ann. Barbra Ann featured Moon on rare vocals. It was the last time Moon was in the studio with the band.

The movie opens with the 1967 Smothers Brothers Show which introduced The Who to America. During intros, with Tommy Smothers, Roger Daltrey claims he is Roger from Oz. Keith says my friend call me Keith you can call me John. The band rips into My Generation complete with explosions & smashing of equipment in the finale. Extra explosives were put into the drum kit by a stage hand who was bribed by Moon. The explosion surprises the band, burns Pete's hair leaving him temporarily def for twenty minutes. Pete then takes Tommy Smothers guitar and smashes it to bits.

Also seen is footage from; 1965 Shindig TV show- I Cant Explain, 1965 Ready Steady Go- Any Way Any How Any Where, and an 1966 promo film for Happy Jack. The Who are seen in all their classic images; smashing equipment, Moons explosive drumming, Pete's pinwheel style playing of guitar, Rogers microphone twirling, John's silent but incredible bass playing. The look like mod clothes; Keiths target shirt, John military medals jackets, Rogers long curly blond locks, and the Who being the Who.
Performances from major events like Woodstock (See Me Feel Me, Pinball Wizard, Sparks, My Generation jam,) the Montery Pop Festival: My Generation), & The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus. The R & R Circus footage had never seen the light of day before this film. It has the band performing their first mini rock opera; A Quick One While He's Away.

Also included are Young Man Blues from 1969 at the London Coliseum, Tommy Can You Hear Me from the 1969 German TV show the Beat Club, Road Runner /My Generation Blues from the Silver Dome in Pontiac Michigan 1975. There is a montage of clips from 1966-1968 of Pictures of Lily, Magic Bus & Substitute. There are various interviews through out the movie including a British TV show where Moon rips Pete's shirt off & strips down to his under wear. Another scene has John Entwhistle firing a machine gun at Roger Daltrey solo records, at his mansion with a staircase full of guitars. The film ends with the song Long Live Rock & the Kids Are Alright playing to the credits rolling over various footage of the band saying good byes to the crowd at the end of concerts. Long Live Rock became a big hit on FM radio in the summer of '79.

Unfortunately Keith Moon died during the sound editing of the film. The band chose not to change anything in the film and have it released as it was suppose to be. A soundtrack album was released and got huge radio airplay in the hey days of FM radio. It reached #8 on the US chars and went platinum. A tour also followed, the first tour without Moon, featuring new drummer Kenny Jones.

The picture on the album cover was a photo of the Who in 1968 at Carl Schurz Park, at 116th St. & Morning Side Drive on the West Side of Harlem in New York City. It was taken in 1968 by photographer Art Kane and 1st appeared in Life magazine. Schurz was a Civil War Union General & politician.

May 22, 2009

The 1912 New York Giants - Three Straight NL Pennants

The 1912 NY Giants dominated the National League and are considered one of the best teams of all time. John McGraw's Giants were in the middle of winning three straight pennants although they didn't win any of the those World Series. 

On May 22, 1912 Christy Mathewson scattered three hits in the 1st three innings of a road game in Cincinnati. He retired the next 18 batters in a row, rolling along to a 6-1 Giants victory. The Giants came home to the Polo Grounds and went on a nine game wining streak. They would have a 10 game lead by the start of June and never looked back.They finished with 103 wins and a .682 winning percentage, 10 games ahead of the 2nd place Pirates.

Christy Mathewson now 31, was 23-12 with a 2.12 ERA in 310 innings pitched. Believe it or not he wasn't the best of the staff. Rube Marquard set a record by winning 17 straight games, he ended up 26-11 with a 2.57 ERA, he pitched 294 innings. 

The #3 man was Jeff Tesreau 17-7 with a league leading 1.96 ERA. Red Ames (11-5) & Hooks Wiltse (9-6) rounded out the staff. In those days the bull pen had just one regular guy, Doc Crandle had two saves and won 13 games. Quite a staff indeed.

The offense was led by the 1912 NL MVP Larry Doyle. Doyle had just missed winning the award the previous year, he was in the top five in hitting four times from 1908 thru 1915, finally winning the title in 1915. In 1912 he hit .330 (5th best) drove in 90 runs (6th best) 10 HRs (6th best) scored 98 runs, had 184 hits & stole 34 bases.

Catcher Chief Meyers (of American Indian dissent) led the league in on base percentage and was second in the league in hitting at .358. The Chief caught 122 games behind the plate and handled the All Star pitching staff perfectly.

Fred Merkle, now a five year veteran and four years beyond his famous "1908 boner play", was also amongst the leagues best, his 12 HRs were 3rd in the NL, his 84 RBIs ninth best & his 37 steals fifth. 

Fred Snodgrass & Red Murray were 3rd & 4th in the league in stolen bases too. It is important to remember that home runs were a very small & rare part of the game in 1912, stolen bases played a more important role.

The bench was strong as well; Moose McCormick hit .333 and three players (Tillie Schafer, Art Wilson & George Burns) all hit around .290 or better. Even Christy Mathewson had 10 RBIs & batted .264.

Unfortunatley the Giants lost a classic World Series to the Boston Red Sox in 8 games. (The 2nd game ended in a tie.) The Series is forever remembered for an error made by Fred Snodgrass on a fly ball in the deciding game.

May 21, 2009

Today In Mets History: 1969- Mets Reach .500 Mark

5/22/1969: It was a historic day for the fact that the Mets reached .500 for the 1st time in 1969. Gil Hodges & his team were really starting to believe in themselves and wanted much more than being just .500. As the press was all smiles after the game, Tom Seaver told them “we’ll smile in September when we win the pennant”. It was that same confident Tom Seaver who threw a three hit shutout against knuckle baller Phil Niekro & his Atlanta Braves, at Fulton County Stadium on this night. Seaver won his 5th straight and improved his record to 6-2 with a fantastic 1.96 ERA.
Cleon Jones, came into the game as the league’s top hitter, he would get two hits in this game, bringing his average up to .391. He drove in two runs in the 1st inning to put Seaver up 2-0. In the 8th inning the Mets would load the bases with Jones, Art Shamsky & J.C. Martin. Bud Harrelson would drive them all in with a bases clearing triple. This gave Seaver a nice cushion to relax with for the 9th inning, as he completed the 5-0 shutout. The Mets still had a long way to go 7 games back.

May 16, 2009

Baseballs Only Designated Runner: Herb Washington

Herb Washington is the only player in baseball history to be used solely as a designated runner. It happened during the zany days of Charlie O Finley's Oakland A's Dynasty.

Charlie O believed a few extra wins could be had on the base paths. Those wins could be the difference in the standings & in the post season. He used six different players over the years as pinch runners, but all of them came to bat at one point or another, except for Herb Washington.

Washington had no pro baseball experience at all, which was criticized by the A's players. Washington was a track star, a four-time all-American that broke the world record in the 50 and 60 yard dashes. On the 1974 World Champion Oakland A's team, his official position was "designated runner." Washington had no baseball expierence, and didn't have much of a feel for the game. This upset the Oakland players, who felt the roster spot should have gone to a real baseball player. Washington had to learn how to take leads, & time pitchers. He made the opening day roster and ended up appearing in 105 games without ever batting or fielding. As a runner he stole 31 bases in 48 attempts, scoring 33 runs.

In Game #2 of the 1974 World Series at Dodger Stadium, Herb stepped in as a pinch-runner for Joe Rudi. It was the 9th inning & he was the tying run on 1st base with one out. After a long cat & mouse game, he was picked off first base by Dodgers' reliever Mike Marshall. It was Herb's only Series appearance. The A's won the Series 4 games to 1, the only loss coming on the day of the Washington pick off. It was their 3rd straight Championship.

Washington's 1975 Topps baseball card is the only baseball card ever to have "pinch runner" listed as a position. He was released by the A's in May, 1975. After baseball Washington became a sucessful buisness man owning several McDonalds in the Cleveland/Youngstown Ohio areas. Herb is now 58 years old.

May 15, 2009

Today In Mets History: 1983- Daryl Strawberry Hits 1st Career HR

May 16, 1983: In front of a tiny crowd of just under 2000, Mets manager George Bamburger inserted his top rookie prospect into the line up again for the eighth time. In just his first week in the majors, a young Daryl Strawberry hit his first career home run . It came off Pittsburgh's Lee Tunnel at Three Rivers Stadium. The home run came in the top of the 5th inning with Hubbie Brooks aboard, putting the Mets up 7-1. They would go on to win the game 11-4 with Ed Lynch getting the win, and Craig Swan getting credit for a save. The interesting Met line up of the day had Brooks & Jose Oquendo both drive in 3 runs and Strawberry & Lynch drive in two each.
Strawberry would hit another home run the next day at Shea Stadium against the Padres Tim Lollar. That day Tom Seaver got his third win of the season in his 1983 return to the Mets. Two days later he would hit his 3rd of the season off the Padres Luis DeLeon, although the Mets lost this game. Straw would go on to hit 26 HRs for the year and win the NL Rookie of the Year Award. Daryl would also become the Mets All Time HR Leader.

May 10, 2009

Today In Mets History: 1972- Say Hey Returns To NY & Seaver Wins 100th

On May 11, 1972 the Mets made a major announcement; they had acquired future Hall of Famer and former New York Giant Willie Mays from the Giants for Charlie Williams and $50,000. Mays who was in the twilight of his career, was finally lured from the Giants by Mets owner Joan Payson to finish off his career in New York where it all began. The 41 year old Mays was still a fan favorite and he was aquired more for nostalgia than his skills.

Late that afternoon the 1st place Mets played a twi-night double header against the Dodgers at Shea Stadium. Shea was abuzz with news of the Say Hey Kids return, the 1st place Mets & Tom Terrific taking the mound. Tom Seaver pitched a fantastic 8 inning one run performance, allowing five hits and striking out six to beat Bill Singer 2-1 to earn his 100th career victory. Seaver bested his 1972 record to 5-1 and lowered his ERA to under two. Danny Frisella came on in the 9th to earn his 1st save of the year. The two Met runs came in the 5th inning, as Ed Kranepool hit his third HR of the season and then a bizarre inning followed. Catcher Duffy Dyer walked, he was bunted over to second, then Bill Singer walked Bud Harrelson & Ken Boswell. Boswell got picked off of 1st base, but steady gold glove 1st baseman Wes Parker made a rare error allowing Dyer to score what would be the winning run.

The Mets would split the double header, as Jim McAndrew lost the 2nd game 6-4 to Tommy John.

May 9, 2009

Today In Mets History: Dr. K & El Sid Make For Quite A Weekend at Shea

May 10th 1985: 46,000 fans fill Shea on a Friday night,to see Doctor K go against aging Phillies veteran, future Hall of Famer Steve Carlton. The Doctor was definitely in as he threw a complete game three hit shutout. He struck out 13 Phillies blowing his fast ball right by them; Juan Samuel went down four times all by himself. Gooden improved to 5-1 on the year, with a 1.31 ERA, and was amongst the top in the league in all pitching categories. His 13 Ks, and seven fly outs to the outfield gave the infield only four put outs all night.

George Foster hit his 5th home run of the year in the 4th inning, a two run shot, 2-0 Mets. In the bottom of the seventh after a fun 7th inning stretch, Gary Carter came up with the bases loaded. He hit a bases clearing double to making it 5-0 Mets. Times were good at Shea, as the 1st place Mets were rolling along at 17-8 on the year.

May 11, 1985: 20,000 fans gathered at Shea to see the Mets & Phillies go at it again. "El Sid" Sid Fernandez went for the Mets against Shane Rawley. The Mets got to Rawley early on a Keith Hernandez RBI ground out, scoring Mookie Wilson in the 1st inning. Kelvin Chapman got a sac fly RBI in the 3rd, again scoring Mookie. In the 5th "El Sid" himself singled, he moved to second as Mookie Wilson walked, and then he scored chugging all the way around the bases on a Keith Hernandez base hit. Mookie would score on a wild pitch as former Met Pat Zachary made an appearance in the game, helping the cause.

It would be all the Mets needed for the 4-0 shutout victory. Sid Fernandez had some control issues walking six, and the high pitch count got him pulled from the game after six innings. In those six innings he only allowed one hit and struck out nine. Phillies 1st baseman Von Hayes singled in the 4th inning for the lone hit. Only one batter (future short time Met coach Luis Aguayo) would even reach third base. Roger McDowell came in relief in the 7th and threw three innings of hit less shutout ball himself, striking out 4, walking one and earning his 1st save of the season. The Mets had their 15th one hitter of their history.

May 3, 2009

How Marlon Brando Helped Influence the Name - The Beatles

There are a few different stories of how the Beatles got their name and they probably all have some truth to them. First there was Johns crazy story that was more of a gag than anything. Back in the early days John Lennon was always asked the question “How did you come up with the name Beatles”? In classic Lennon wit, he told the music paper Mersey Beat, he had a vision from a man on a “flaming pie” and he said you shall be beatles with an “a”, and we were. This article was dated back to 1961 in Liverpool. In 1997 Paul McCartney released one of his best solo efforts in years, the album titled 'Flaming Pie".

Back in 1961 Beat music had replaced skiffle as the popular music of the time in Liverpool, England. In a classic Lennon play on words, he came up with Beatles as in “beat music”. The music forming on the banks of the Mersey would soon become the British Invasion. It would take over America and change the course of popular music & pop culture forever.

The name Beatles was also an ode to Buddy Holly’s group, the Crickets. Holly & the Crickets may have well been the biggest influence on Lennon & McCartney’s early days, and their clever name also an influence.

Another theory came about during the release of the Beatles Anthology in 1995. Lennon and his best friend Stu Sutcliffe, were huge Marlon Brando fans & the great biker film “The Wild One”. (Sutcliffe was Lennon’s best friend from Art College, the original Beatles bass player who didn’t really play. He would just stand on stage with his back facing the crowd; It was Stu’s girlfriend Astrid, who gave the Beatles the famous hair styles. Stu tragically died of a brain hemorrhage at age 21.)

The film “The Wild One” came out in 1953; it has a scene where a young Lee Marvin & his biker gang roll into a small town that has been occupied by Brando & his biker gang "Black Rebels Motorcycle Club". Marvin taunts Brando, and Brando throws him to the ground, then Marvin says “we missed you Johnny, the beetles missed ya, all the beetles missed you”.

It is believed this quote was an influence on the name of the group. Remember Marlon Brando’s photo from the movie “The Wild One” is pictured amongst the crowd on the Sgt. Pepper album cover.
Brando was the man in the fifties; the movie was one of the first rebellious biker classics, based on a true story of events in a 1947 California town. The movie was a big influence on James Dean, & Elvis Presley, who imitated Brando’s look & style. Out of this film also came the fashion of side burns, tilted caps, blue jeans and leather jackets.

Paul McCartney said doing research he later found out, "beetles” was tern used in the forties for biker girls, or “chicks”. In the film Marvin does point to a bunch of biker girls standing behind the bikers. Great stuff.