Oct 28, 2010

Old Time New York Giants Pitcher: Bill Walker (1927-1933)

William Henry Walker was born on October 7th, 1903 in East St. Louis Illinois. Long before there was an Arch on the other side of the Mississippi, Walker was playing baseball in the St. Louis area. He was brought up by the New York Giants back in 1927 & got his feet wet his first two seasons mostly in relief. In 1929 he emerged as the Giants #3 starter behind Carl Hubbell & Freddie Fritzmorris, winning 14 games against 7 losses. His 3.09 ERA was the best in the National League surprising many people.

In 1930 he was 3rd in ERA with a 3.90, 4th in wins with 17, 6th in strikeouts with 105, but he also lost 15 games. His last good season was 1931 when he led the NL in both ERA (2.26), and shutouts (6). He won 19 games (16-9) and threw 239 innings striking out 121 against only 64 walks.

Things turned sour the nest season going 8-12 with his ERA doubling to 4.14. He also gave up a league leading 23 HRs after only giving up six the previous season. He was traded to his hometown St. Louis Cardinals in 1933 and was a member of the famous 1934 Gas House Gang World Series champions. He was 12-4 with a .750 winning percent and a 3.12 ERA, as pretty much the fifth starter on a team behind 30 game winner Dizzy Dean & his brother Paul. In the 1934 World Series he took two losses in relief allowing five earned runs in six innings.

Bill won 13 games the next season and retired after the 1936 season with a lifetime 97-77 record And a 3.59 ERA, two ERA titles and a World Series championship. He remained in East St. Louis until his death in 1966 at age 62.

Oct 23, 2010

Former Italian / American Player of the Day: John Castino (1979-1984)

John Anthony Castino was born on October 23, 1954 in Evanston, ILlinois. He attended Rollins College at Winter Park, Florida getting picked by the Twins, third round in 1976. In the minors he was the AAA Southern Leagues All Star third baseman leading the league in fielding percentage.

He came up to the Twins in 1979 taking over as their third baseman winning the Rookie of the Year Award, tied in the voting with Alfredo Griffin. He played in 148 games but only had 393 at bats. He hit .285 with 112 hits 5 HRs 13 doubles 8 triples, 52 RBIs & a .331 on base percentage. He followed that up with career highs in HRs (16) RBIs (64) batting average (.302) & games (150).

In 1981 he led all AL third basemen in put outs (86) turning 24 double plays posting a .975 fielding percentage. He would play in over 100 games the next three seasons, but began to suffer from chronic back issues which ended his career by 1984. He never matched his first two seasons numbers, batting a best .277 in 1983, with 11 HRs & 57 RBIs when he switched over to being the teams main second baseman.

He finished his six year carrer after being released in October 1985, with a fused disc in his back. He played in 666 career games, batting .278 with 41 HRs 86 doubles & 249 RBIs.

Oct 20, 2010

Former New York Giant: Wally Berger (1936-1938)

Walter Anton Berger was born October 10, 1905 in Chicago, Illinois. He grew up in San Francisco & was a high school team mate of future Hall of Famer Joe Cronin. He came up with the Boston Braves in 1930 and set a rookie record by hitting 38 HRs that record stood for 58 years until Mark McGwire broke it in 1988. Berger drove in 119 runs, also a rookie record until broken by Albert Pujols in 2001. Berger also hit 27 doubles 14 triples & batted .310, quite a debut.

He hit over .300 over the next three seasons & over .290 the next five. In 1934 he hit 34 HRs with 131 RBIs both third best in the league.

The following season (1935) he led the league in both HRs (34) & RBIs (130) with 39 doubles a .295 batting average & a .355 on base percentage. He hit over 30 HRs three times & drove in over 100 runs four times, making four All Star teams & coming in among the top vote getters for the MVP Award five times. Babe Ruth called him the best centerfielder in the league in 1933. He set Braves all time HR marks that were broken by Eddie Mathews, & in 1933 his 27 HRs were more than half the teams total.

During the 1936 season he suffered a shoulder injury that took a huge toll on his career. He was traded to the New York Giants mid season, and his first Giants HR was the 200th of his career. He hit .291 with 12 HRs & 43 RBIs the rest of the season for New York, as the Giants won the pennant. He only made three pinch hit appearances in the Series going hitless.

He spent the first part of the 1938 season in New York hitting .188 & was traded to Cincinnati after 18 games. He finished the year with 16 HRs & hit 14 the next year before winding down by 1940 in Philadelphia. In his 11 season career he had 1550 hits with 242 HRs 299 doubles 898 RBIs batting .300 in 1350 games played. He was a fine defensive outfielder who led the league in fielding percentage in 1932 & put outs in 1935.

Retirement: After baseball he was a scout & minor league manager. He passed away in 1988 of a stroke in Redondo Beach California at age 83.

Oct 8, 2010

Ozzy's Birthday Tribute to John Lennon

This is just great, well done Ozzy!