Mar 22, 2009

Baseball Players of the Seventies Who Died During their Playing Careers

ROBERTO CLEMENTE is 3000 hit Hall of Famer and one of the most famous players to have died tragically while still active. He was the 1966 NL MVP & won four batting titles in the sixties. He made the All Star team 12 times & won 12 gold gloves in right field. He was MVP of the 1971 World Series, playing great outfield and batting over .400 in the Series with a home run in the deciding 7th game. He got his 3000th hit on the last day of the 1972 season off Mets pitcher Jon Matlack. He did play in the 1972 NLCS & his last game was Game #5 in Cincinnati. He ended his career with a .317 batting average, 240 HRs, 1305 RBIs, 440 doubles, 166 triples, & 1416 runs scored.

On Christmas week of 1972 Nicaragua suffered an earthquake. Clemente soon sent over three airplane supplies of relief for the quake victims. He found out the aid packages never made it to the victims due to the corrupt government. He decided to accompany the relief supplies on a fourth flight making sure they got to the victime. He chartered a DC-7 plane that was known for mechanical problems, sub par person ell and was over loaded by 5000 lbs. The plane crashed immediately after take off into the ocean off the coast of Puerto Rico on New Years Eve.

Sadly Clemente's body was never recovered and the only personal item was an empty brief case belonging to him. The pilots body & fuselage were found a few days later. All members of the 1972 Pirates attended his funeral, except best friend Manny Sanguillen who instead chose to help the divers recover his body. Clemente was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973 in a special election, and his #21 was retired by the Pirates.

He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1973, the Roberto Clemente is awarded each year to a player who does exceptional charity work, various parks & bridges are named after him throughout the world. The right field was at Pittsburgh's PNC park is 21 feet high in his honor.
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BOB MOOSE: Moose was born October 9th 1947 in Export Pennsylvania. The six foot right hander came up to the big leagues at the age of 20, as a starter & reliever. He pitched his entire career for the Pittsburgh Pirates during their early 70's hey days. He had the best won/loss percentage in the league in 1969 going 14-3 with a 2.91 ERA, 165 strike outs, 4 saves & threw a no hitter against the Champion Mets.

He pitched in three straight NLCS from 1970-1972. In the 1971 World Series he pitched in three games (1 start-no decisions) but was hit hard by the Orioles giving up 12 hits, & 7 earned runs in 9.2 innings pitched. In the 9th inning of Game #5 of the 1972 NLCS against the Reds at Riverfront Stadium, Pirate closer Dave Gusti gave up a game tying home run to Johnny Bench. Two more singles brought in Bob Moose who had pitched Game #2 for relief. He retired the first two batters he faced, then with Rookie George Foster pinch running at third base he threw a wild pitch that allowed Foster to score the winning run. The Pirates missed their second consecutive World Series by one out, and the Reds advanced losing to the Oakland A's.

Moose never seemed to recover as he went 18-29 over the next four seasons, mostly in relief. He did have 10 saves in his 1976 season.

On his 29th birthday, October 9th 1976 Moose was on his way to former Pirate team mate Bill Mazeroski's golf course in Martin's Ferry Ohio. He was tragically killed in a car accident. In his career he went 76-71 with a 3.50 ERA & 10 saves.
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DON WILSON was born February 12th, 1945 in Monroe, Louisiana. He made his debut in 1966 with the Houston Colt 45s. He was a hard throwing strikeout pitcher and one of the better pitchers of his era. He won 15 games or more four times in his eight year career. He was amongst the league leaders in strikeouts, ERA & complete games during those years, and his some times wildness also put him tops in wild pitches & hit batters.

In June of 1967 he threw a 2-0 no hitter against the Atlanta Braves, striking out Hank Aaron for the final out. Wilson threw another no hitter in 1969, the day after Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jim Maloney no hit Wilson’s Astros. It was only the 2nd time in MLB history this 2 no hitteres were thrown back to back. He finished the year with 16 wins and 235 strike outs (4th in the NL) in 225 innings pitched. In 1974 he had a third no hitter going into the 8th inning, but trailing 2-1, when he was removed for a pinch hitter by manager Preston Gomez.
On July 14th 1968 he struck out 18 Reds to tie what was a record at the time & still an Astros single game mark. Two months later he had a 16 strikeout game as well. In 1970 his 11-6 record was amongst the top winning percentages in the league.

In 1971 he made his 1st All Star team, pitching 2 hitless innings in the classic. Wilson was 3rd in the NL in ERA (2.41), 5th in complete games (15) & allowed the fewest hits per nine innings. He won 16 and struck out 180 batters. In a game against the Phillies he bunted toward short stop Larry Bowa who broke the opposite way and Wilson, got a rare bunt double. He closed out the season with a two hit shutout against the Braves.

In 1972 he again was in the top 10 in wins, strikeouts, ERA, complete games & wild pitches. Over the next two seasons he won 11 games each year, but had more losses, while posting low ERAs.

In January 1975 Wilson was found dead in the passenger seat of his Ford Thunderbird in his garage at his Houston home. The engine was running, the garage door was open, his legs crossed over & he had a pack of cigarettes on the dash. The cause of death was carbon dioxide poisoning, most likely a suicide.

Sadly his children’s bedrooms were above the garage and his children also suffered from carbon monoxide pioning. His five year old son was also found dead, & his nine year old daughter fell into a coma. His wife survived the ordeal and was met at the hospital by Astros pitcher Dave Roberts. Wilsons #40 is retired by the Astros.
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LYMAN BOSTOCK was born November 22, 1950 in Birmingham Alabama, his father was a retired Negro League player. He was drafted by the Twins in 1972 & brought up in 1975 when he hit ,282. He learned from team mate Rod Carew & batted over .320 in 1976 & 1977. His best season was 1977 when he hit .336 (2nd in the AL) 14 HRs -90 RBIs -36 doubles (4TH)199 hits & scored 104 runs (4th in the AL) runs. He signed on with the California Angels as a free agent in 1978. That year he batted .296 with 71 RBIs. No doubt he was one of the top players in the game with a bright future ahead of him.

On September 23, 1978, Bostock visited his uncle in Gary, Indiana. They had dinner with a childhood friend, & her sister Barbara Smith. Bostock and his uncle were dropping the women off and Smiths estranged husband, followed the car to an intersection. He assumed the two were having an affair, his wife had a history of cheating. He pulled alongside the car & fired a shot gun into the back seat. Bostock was hit in the head & died a few hours later at the age of 27.

The killer was deemed insane & after seven months cured and freed. He only manged to serve a total of 271 months time. The laws were changed after Bostocks case so a person would still be guilty even if no longer insane.
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DANNY THOMPSON: was born February 1, 1947 in Witchita, Kansas. He played shortstop for the Twins from 1970-1976, seeing over 100 games of action each year from 1972 on. In the 1970 ALCS vs. Baltimore he went 1-8. In 1972 Thompson batted .276 with 48 RBIs, playing in 144 games, the most in his career. That year he came in the top 10 in hits, triples, singles, at bats & sacrafice hits. In 1975 he led all AL shortstops with a .270 batting average.

Thompson was diagnosed with leukemia before the 1974 s
eason but continued to fight & play for the next three seasons.He won the Hutch Award in 1974, the award is given out each year for the player who best exemplifies the fighting spirit and competitive desire to win. On June 1st, 1976 he was involved in a big trade with the Texas Rangers. Thompson & Bert Blyleven were sent to Texas for Bill Singer, Roy Smalley, Mike Cubbage, Jim Gideon, and $250,000. Overall Thompson would play in 98 games in 1976 batting .222. His last game at short stop was in Metropolitan Stadium in Minnesota.

He passed away on December 10th 1976 at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota at the age of 29.He left behind a wife & two small daughters. A golf tournament in his name was started by former team mate, Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew.
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MIKE MILEY: Miley was born March 30, 1953 in Yazoo City, MS. A college football star who was LSU's starting quarterback in 1973. He played in the 1974 Orange Bowl, losing 16-9 to Penn State. The Angels chose him as their #1 draft pick in 1974. He played 70 games at short stop in 1975, driving in 26 runs with 4 HRs but only hit .174. In 1976 he only played in 14 games still batting under .200. He died in a car accident in Baton Rouge, LA on January 6, 1977 at age 23. A Stadium & street are named after him in Louisiana.
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On News Years Day 1977, former Met pitcher Danny Frisella was riding his dune buggy near Phoenix, Arizona. The vehicle overturned and caused irriversable head injuries. The accident ended Dannys life at the age of thirty. He left behind a pregnant wife, who gave birth to their 2nd son on what would have been Frisellas 31st birthday. (see Danny Frisella on the 12/29/08 Met of the Day profile)

Mar 20, 2009

Concert Review: Fleetwood Mac Unleashed Tour - Madison Square Garden


Lets start out by saying, I am a huge Stevie Nicks fan, and she is probably my favorite female singer of all time, so this review will be bias. But no matter what, if you’re a rock & roll fan you had to love Fleetwood Macs performance at the Garden last night.
1 st off, the negatives: As great as Fleetwood Mac is, the absence of Christine McVie who has retired was noticed and she was missed. How can you retire from rock & Roll and miss a tour like this? This just gave Stevie more spotlight and that part of it is fine with me.
The other negative was for most of the songs, the band just played them as they were without going off into a jam. Although the later part of the show did feature some of this, with such a good band you wanted them to jam on into frenzy. Besides the main group there was an additional guitarist & keyboard/piano player and three female back up vocalist. For Stevie Nicks fans we know them as her personal long time back ups on her solo tours; Her sister in law Lori Perry Nicks, Jana Anderson and the wonderful Sharon Celani who has been with Stevie since 1981.

Let’s start out with Stevie. As usual she just stole the show. She is looking as good as ever and her voice although a little deeper is as captivating as it ever can be. This woman can mesmerize an audience, and I admit when she sings she brings tears to my eyes on more than just one song. The classics Rhiannon, Gold Dust Woman,& Dreams are songs that just mean the world to Stevie diehard fans like myself. The fadeout to Rhianon was completely mystical with its "dreams unwind love's a state of mind" fade outs. I was floored with Sara, Landslide & Silver Springs as well. Mac covered one Stevie solo song- Stand Back, to much of the delight of the crowd, as this was one of the highlights of the night.
Stevie was dressed in her usual mystic attire as she danced like a sorcerer playing her tambourine with the fringes draping from it. She wore a black dress, knee high, showing off her thin calves, with flowing shawls and platform heels. She changed into a red velvet dress with red boots at one point, then back into a classic black outfit with a golden shawl. She pulled out the old black top hat, like the old days, for Macs classic Go Your Own Way, ending the main set before the encores. As the show got into its second song, the classic The Chain, we got to see how great the Nicks/ Buckingham harmonizing was and still is. There is always a touch of emotion when these two come on stage together holding hands and as they face each other singing during the concert.
Mick Fleetwood looks as though he comes out of an old English medieval novel. Standing tall in height over six feet, With his gray beard & hair slicked back into a pony tail. He pounds the drums and is definitely the maestro of this band. Proof is just watching John McVie on bass, as he stands on Fleetwood’s right hand side following his lead to form the massive Mac rhythm section. McVie never faces the crowd as he prefers to lie back under his white cap and just play an incredible bass. Mick Fleetwood grimaces with evil wide eyes all night behind his drum kit and stole the show during the 1st encore with a fantastic drum solo in World Turning.
Lindsey Buckingham is an under rated guitarist who is just outrageous live in concert. He carries the band and plays a wild lead guitar as he screams and shrieks along the way. He does all the male lead vocals of the Mac songs and when he duets with Stevie its still magic. Did I mention those two great harmonizing? This just all leads up to one great concert.
Since they are not promoting a new album, they are just “having fun” on this tour as Stevie Nicks said, so it was filled with vintage classics. The band chose to open surprisingly with Monday Morning from the 1975 Fleetwood Mac album; they did an unprecedented six tunes from this album. Wow!! They also covered six songs from the smash Rumors album as well. For you deep Mac fans out there they covered four songs from 1979s Tusk album, including Stevie’s great Storms which was never done live until this tour.

Fleetwood Mac "Unleashed Tour" Set List: 3/19/09: Madison Square Garden
Monday Morning
The Chain
Dreams
I Know I’m Not Wrong
Gypsy
Go Insane
Rhiannon
Second Hand News
Tusk
Sara
Big Love
Landslide
Never Going Back Again
Storms
Say That You Love Me
Gold Dust Woman
Oh Well
I’m So Afraid
Stand Back
Go Your Own Way

Encore
World Turning
Don’t Stop
Second encore
Silver Springs

Mar 18, 2009

Remembering Randy Rhoads- 27 years After His Fatal Plane Crash

March 19th marks the 27th anniversary of the passing of Randy Rhoads. Rhoads was born in Santa Monica, California in 1956 into a musical family. His mother ran a music school in North Hollywood & Rhoads was trained in classical guitar. By the late seventies he would form the band Quiet Riot in Hollywood and would lave by 1979 to join Ozzy Osbourne. Back then Ozzy was down & out after being fired from Black Sabbath. He auditioned Rhoads & hired him on the spot as he was just tuning up. Ozzy described it like having "god enter his life".

The band would be called Blizzard of Ozz & in November 1979 material for the Blizzard of Ozz & Diary of a Madman albums were recorded. The rest is Heavy Metal history as the band went on a highly successful Tour in 1980/1981 and the albums became classics. Blizzard of Ozz has sold over four million copies and the songs "Crazy Train' "Mr. Crowley" "I Dont Know" & "Suicide Solution " are classics. Randy Rhoads became known as one of the best young guitarist in the world, he influenced a whole new generation of future guitarist and helped Heavy Metal music form its place in music history.

On March 18th 1982 Rhoads would play his last concert with Ozzy in Knoxville Tennessee. After driving for hours to Orlando Florida, the tour entourage stopped for an overnight rest in Leesburg Florida. The property had a small airstrip and one one of the planes there was owned by the bus driver Andrew Aycock. He took a joy ride test flight with keyboardist Don Airy and all went well.


Randy Rhoads had a fear of flying but was convinced to go on a second joy ride flight with Aycock. Rhoads loved photography and wanted to take some Ariel photos, and was assured by the pilot there would be no risks taken. Rhoads and hairdresser Rachel Youngblood climbed aboard for the flight ride as the rest of the band was asleep below in the tour bus. The pilot decided to "buzz" the tour bus' roof for fun. He made it twice but on the third try, the left wing clipped the back side of the tour bus, tore the fiberglass roof then sent the plane spiraling. The plane crashed into the garage of a nearby mansion, bursting into flames. Rhoads was killed instantly, as well as the others. All three bodies were burnedbeyond recognition, and were identified by dental records. The autopsy showed Aycock had traces of cocaine; (for the record)Rhoads' test revealed only nicotine. He was only 25 years old.

The tragedy hit the music world hard,and deeply affected Ozzy Osbourne. In 1987 he released the album Tribute which featured Ozzy & the band with Randy Rhoads on guitar from the 1981 tour.

Mar 15, 2009

Ever Wonder About the Real Ebbets Field Rotunda in Brooklyn?

With Citifield being designed on the look of Brooklyns old Ebbets Field, complete with a Jakie Robinson Rotunda, lets take a brief look back at the old ballpark.

Ebbets fields was built in 1913 on a garbage dump called "pig town" It was made of concrete & steel and originally held 25,000 fans (eventually its capacity became 32,000). It's location was perfect for early 20th century. It was located walking distance to the junction of a major hub for the trolley cars. Over twenty different trolleys ventured out of the that point on Flatbush Ave which was the main drag through Brooklyn. Yep in case you didn't know thats how the (trolley) Dodgers got their name. Two subway/rail lines also stopped at Ebbets Field, making the train ride from 42nd St. only 20 minutes. Before the age of cars, it was the way to go the game. If you wanted to drive there was a very small parking lot across the street, that's about it.

The Ebbets Rotunda, was the main entrance to Ebbets Field. It's archway entrances were reminiscent of the Roman Coliseum from the outside, and resembled a large movie theaters lobby on the inside. It was an 80 foot in diameter, enclosed circle made of Italian marble with the floor tiled in what resembled baseball stitching. The width of the entrance from the street was 56 ft long. The ceiling was a 27 foot high dome with a chandelier designed of 12 baseball bat arms holding 12 baseball shaped circles of light. Inside were 12 turnstiles and 12 ticket windows that made their way into the stands. They were seperated into four different areas leading to different sections of the ballpark as to prevent bottle neck. There were also 18 different arched exits for leaving the game.

The Dimensions varied through the years. Right field always remained a short distance at 300 ft down the line when it opened in 1914 to 297 ft. by 1957. The fence was 19 ft. high with a 19 ft. screen above it that kept balls in play. Center field was an incredible 450 ft. in 1914 shrinking down through the years to 393 ft. by 1957. The left field line started out at 420 ft. but was closed down to an intimate 348 ft. by its closing in 1957. What started out as a pitchers park, became a hitters paradise by the 1930s.

The Schaefer Beer scoreboard in right field was used for official scoring as well as scores. The letters lit up in the word Scaefer, the H meant hit & E meant error. Below that was the famous Abe Stark suit sign "Hit Sign Win Suit". Stark owned a clothing store nearby and eventually became Brooklyn Borough President. The sign was hit often through the years but most outfielders caught the ball before it got to that low point.

Outside the ball park, there was a portal in right field where kids could get a glimpse inside the stadium. Vendors set up grills on bricks and sold hot dogs.
Amazingly there was no press box until 1929, it hung under the upper deck behind home plate. A woman started playing the organ located under the girders on the 1st base side while players warmed up & during the 7th inning stretch in the late 1940s. The 1st televised baseball game was broadcast by Red Barber in 1939 at Ebbets Field.

Mar 8, 2009

Concert Review: Madeline Peyroux at Tarrytown Music Hall

Last night we saw a fantastic live performance by jazz singer Madeline Peyroux at the Tarrytown Music Hall. The show was hosted by my lifelong friend, WFUV 90.7 DJ, Darren DeVivo. We got to hang out backstage before the show and met Madeline who was very pleasant and accommodating to us. We also hung with guitarist Jon Herington who is a great guy, & an excellent guitar player. He has recently toured with Steely Dan & Boz Scaggs, and is currently playing on Madeline’s Tour which began in Albany on Friday night.

Madeline put on fantastic live performance last night, capturing the audience with her sultry jazz vocal style. She has been compared to a modern day Billie Holiday & a breath of fresh air blown into the modern jazz scene. Backed by a 4 piece band of musicians, Peyroux took center stage with her acoustic guitar and did what she does best- sings.
She is a quiet personality that speaks softly to her audience, only interacting a few times throughout the night. The show was mixed with some of her older classics, but featured three quarters of her new album “Bare Bones” which will be out this coming Tuesday. Her band was great too, receiving their own applause after their individual musical parts. An excellent show from a great artist, if you’re into female jazz vocalist, you must check out Madeline Peyroux. The set list included : Your Gonna Make Me Lonesome, Dance Me to the End of Love, Don’t Wait Too Long, Careless Love, I'm Alright, Damn the Circumstances, J’ai Deux Amours, A Little Bit, Bare Bones, Our Lady of Pigale, Love & Treachery, You Can’t Do Me, I Must Be Saved, & Instead .

Madeline grew up in New York City, Southern California & Paris. She began to sing in Paris and eventually put out her 1st album "Dreamland" in 1996, it was received well and she opened shows for various acts. Peyroux has always kept a low profile & disappeared at times from the music scene She didn’t release another solo CD until "Careless Love" in 2004. It sold a million copies and got her wide spread attention. Peyroux released her 3rd album "Half the Perfect World "in 2007; it featured guest artists, like Steely Dans Walter Becker. Her latest CD will be released this Tuesday March 10th, 2009 called "Bare Bones".

The Tarrytown Music Hall is an old theater built in 1885. Throughout its history its seen Vaudeville, concert balls, silent movies, & the new age of motion pictures. The 843 seat theater is known for its acoustics; it certainly lacks luxury but is a cozy setting. Recently its hosted concerts, live recordings, documentaries, TV shows & movies.