Aug 24, 2012

Former Mets Reserve Player: Gerald Williams (2004-2005)

Gerald Floyd Williams was born August 10, 1966 in New Orleans, Louisiana in a family of ten brothers & sisters. The six foot two right hand hitting outfielder was drafted out of Grambling State University by the AL New York club, in the 14th round of the 1987 draft.

His career started out well in the New York Penn League batting .385 at Oneonta. He struggled the next season but hit 20 HRs with 100 RBIs & 37 steals in 1990 between A & AA ball. By 1992 he hit .285 with 37 more stolen bases at AAA Columbus getting a call up to the big leagues. Williams would play sparingly, his first three seasons with the A.L. New York team, getting into the most 57 games in 1994.

In 1995 he saw action in 100 games batting just .247 with6 HRs 28 RBIs. In 1996 Williams was batting .270 in August when he was traded along with Bob Wickman to the Milwaukee Brewers for Graeme Lloyd, Pat Listach, and Ricky Bones.

The next year he hit a career high 32 doubles, while stealing 23 bases in Milwaukee batting .253 with 10 HRs & 41 RBIs. After that season he was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Chad Fox. Williams was one of three Braves to appear on Saturday Night Live making a cameo appearance with Mark Wohlers and Pedro Borbón, Jr. on December 19, 1997, in an episode hosted by Helen Hunt.

In Atlanta he had his best season the following year in 1998, batting .305 with 10 HRs 19 doubles 11 steals a .352 on base % & 44 RBIs. He got to his second post season that year going 1-2 in the NLDS against the Chicago Cubs. Then he hit just.154 in five games of the NLCS against the San Diego Padres. His good year at the plate got him to the Braves regular leftfielder position for 1999, hitting .275 with 17 HRs 24 doubles, 11 steals, 76 runs scored & 68 RBIs.

Post Season: He hit .389 in the NLDS against the Houston Astros with two RBIs in the final Game #4. In The NLCS against the New York Mets he hit just .179 going 5-28 with an RBI. In the final Game #6 Williams led off the bottom of the 11th inning with the score tied 9-9 at Turner Field.

He doubled off Mets pitcher Kenny Roger & then scored the winning walk off run when Rogers walked Andru Jones. In the World Series Williams was 3-17 playing in all four games. In his career he got to appear in the post season three times, batting .217 (18-83) with five RBIs, five stolen bases & ten runs scored.

Brawl: Williams signed with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2000 getting career highs in hits (173) HRs (21) runs scored (87) & RBIs (89) while batting .274 with 30 doubles. While playing with Tampa in a home game against the Boston Red Sox, he felt pitcher Pedro Martinez had intentionally thrown a pitch at him. Williams charged the mound throwing a landing a few punches to the Sox star pitcher. This resulted in a huge bench clearing brawl.

Over the next two years, he was sent back to New York (AL) & then to the Florida Marlins before finding himself unsigned at the start of the 2004 season. In late April he was signed by the New York Mets and reported to AAA Norfolk. There he hit .305 with 7 HRs & 28 RBIs in 63 games, earning a call up to the Mets in June.

In his first Mets game, on June 9th he hit a two run HR against Johan Santana & the Minnesota Twins in an interleague game, although the Mets lost the game 5-3. In his second game he hit a pair of doubles in Kansas City against the Royals. On August 19th he had a three hit night against the Rockies at Colorado, including a two run HR in the Mets 10-3 win. Williams then had two multiple hit games in a row at Shea Stadium, against the San Diego Padres the following week.

He saw a lot of playing time in September but slumped to see his average fall thirty points. In 57 games as a backup outfielder, he hit .233 with 4 HRs, 8 doubles a .277 on base % & 11 RBIs. He was tied for the team lead in triples with two, and stole two bases as well.

He began 2005 in the minors with the AAA Norfolk Tides, batting just .230. But he resurfaced in June to help fill in the outfield spots, when Carlos Beltran & Mike Cameron went on the DL after their brutal outfield collision.

In an important July game, he missed a fly ball that was scored a hit, ruining a no hit bid for non other than Pedro Martinez who was now his Mets teammate. On August 13th Williams had a two hit game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, & he hit his only HR of the season. He drove in runs in three straight games that week as well. On the season in 39 games he hit .233 with one HR, three RBIs & two stolen bases.

After the 2005 season he was a free agent but had no takers & retired at age 39. In a 14 year career he batted .255 with 780 hits 85 HRs 183 doubles 18 triples 106 stolen bases a .301 on base % & 365 RBIs while playing in 1168 games.

Aug 20, 2012

Former Italian American Player of the Day: Oscar Melillo (1926-1937)

Oscar Donald Melillo was born on August 4, 1899 in Chicago, Illinois. His parents had emigrated from Tuscany, Italy in 1883 settling in the Chicago area raising their five children. Oscar wasn’t much for school dropping out of high school and working instead. He earned the nickname “Ski” after a local football hero he rooted for, and later the nick name of “spinach”.

He began playing organized ball in Canada & eventually at AA Milwaukee getting better each year. He raised his average to .291 in 1925 & was an outstanding defensive second baseman that some writers called the next Napoleon Lajoie.

Manager George Sisler was trying to strengthen his St. Louis Browns defense and according to two different reports, either traded five players for Melillo or paid the Brewers $50,000. Either way he began his MLB career in 1926 and would play ten seasons with the Browns.

That year he suffered from a kidney disease known as Brights disease, and was told by a doctor he would only survive if he ate nothing but spinach. He did that until he fully recovered.

According to the Sporting News in 1963, Wilde said “They told me to eat nothing but spinach for the next few months if I wanted to live, I tried to talk them into letting me have a steak, spaghetti, or ravioli, but they said nothing doing. When I told them I couldn’t stand the monotony of spinach three times a day, they told me I could have some variety by boiling it for breakfast, making a salad of it for lunch, and baking it for dinner.”

The cartoon character of Popeye did not come out until a few years later, possibly his eating spinach came from the Melillo real life story, but there are no proven reports.
In 1929 he hit for the cycle in May, & and finished out the season hitting .296 with 11 triples. Over the next four seasons, Oscar would hit 10 or more triples every year.

In 1930 he set an MLB record at second, handling 971 chances without committing an error (17 fewer that Nap Lajoie's 1908 record). He would be rated the best defensive second baseman twice, leading the league in fielding percentage three times, assists four times & put outs three times. His .991 fielding percentage in 1933, would stand for a decade for second baseman.

He also hit over .290 three times, enjoying his best season in 1931 with career highs in batting (.306) hits (189) doubles (34) runs scored (88) along with 2 HRs & 75 RBIs.

In 1935 new manager Rogers Hornsby was looking for a .300 hitter, while Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey & manager Joe Cronin wanted defense. They felt Melillo was the best second baseman in the game & a trade was set up for Moose Solters. Solters went on to hit .330 in St. Louis while Melillo began to slow down with injuries at age 36. He helped tutor a young infielder named Bobby Doerr who would go on to be a Red Sox legend, claiming he learned more from Oscar than he did in all his years in the Pacific Coast League. After three seasons he was allowed to be released to take a coaching job with the Browns.

Retirement: Melillo coached there, then with the Cleveland Indians under Lou Boudreau winning the 1948 World Series. He coached in Boston, again under Boudreau, & with then with the Athletics. During World War II, Melillo left baseball for a bit, working to rivet airplane wings in a Chicago factory throughout 1943 and 1944.

Personally he was an avid bowler, & had a phobia of certain animals which made him the target of many practical jokes. He passed away in November 1963 at the age of 64.

Aug 14, 2012

Remembering Woodstock 43 Years Later - Day Three: Sunday August 17, 1969

Sunday August 17, 1969

330PM: JOE COCKER (with the Grease Band)- Delta Lady-Somethings Going On- Lets Get Stoned- I Shall Be Released- With A Little Help From My Freinds
Joe Cocker Opens the Third & Final Day. It's still sunny out and as soon as he finishes his set, the skies open up with another torrential thunder storm. Wind gusts were reported at over 40 mph and the rain lasted about two hours. The equipment had to be protected and the crowd was urged to find shelter. Unfortuantley there wasn't much shelter any where. The crowd amused themselves by starting their own music, performing the famous Rain Chants.
800 PM: Country Joe & the Fish- Rock & Soul Music- Thing They Call Love- Barrys Caviar Dream- Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine- Love Machine- Fish Cheer (Feel Like I'm Dying To Fix A Rag)
Country Joe McDonald had played an acoustic set, sans the Fish on Day Two. The West Coast Band were big political protesters at the time and a poular rock act.

900 PM: TEN YEARS AFTER- Good Morning Little School Girl- Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes- I May Be Wrong- I'm Going Home

Alvin Lee a guitar virtuoso who was called the fastest guitarist of his time put on one of the best performances of the weekend as the band did an eleven plus minute masterpiece of I'm Going Home.

1030 PM: THE BAND- Chest Fever- Tears of Rage- We Can Talk- Dont You Tell Henry- Dont Do It- Aint No More Cane- Long Black Veil- This Wheels On Fire- I Shall be Released- The Weight- Loving You (Is Sweeter Than Ever)

The Band were Bob Dylans backing band since 1965 and resided in the actual town of Woodstock. Home to their famous Music From Big Pink (album) recorded in the little Pink House which still stands today. They didn't appear on the Woodstock album or in the movie because their manager felt their fee was too small.

Midnight: Johnny Winter- Mama Talk To Your Daughter- Six Feet In the Ground- To Tell the Truth- Johnny B. Goode- Leland Mississippi Blues- Rock Me Baby- Mean Mistreater- I Cant Stand It & Tobacco Road (with his brother Edgar Winter)- Mean Town Blues

130 AM: BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS- All In A Day- More & More- I Love You Baby More Than You'll Ever Know- Spinning Wheel- I Stand Accused- Somethings Coming On

BST were hot in 1969 with two husge hits. They were a contrast to the guitar rock of Day Three with their horn section & Jazz style. Al Koooper had leftthe band by Woodstock & David Clayton Thomas was belting out vocals.
400 AM: CROSBY, STILLS , NASH & YOUNG- (Acoustic CSN) Suite: Judy Blue Eyes-Blackbird- Helplessly Hoping- Guinnevere- Marrakesh Express- 4+20-

(Stills, Young acoustic) Mr. Soul- I'm Wondering- You Dont Have To Cry- (Electric) Pre Road Downs- Long Time Gone- Bluebird- Sea of Madness- Wooden Ships (acoustic CSNY) Find the Cost of Freedom- 49 Bye Byes

Another one of the best performances of the Festival. CSNY had came from big groups; The Byrds (Crosby), Buffalo Springfield (Stills & Young), The Hollies (Nash). They had formed as one of the first supergroups and were riding high with a top album. Everyone was anxious to see them live, musicians & the crowd, it was only their second live gig. They were nervous but were sensational, securing their legendery status.

530 AM: Paul Butterfield Blues Band- Everythings Gonna Be Alright- Driftin' Blues- Born Under A BAd Sign- All My Love Comin'-Love March
730 AM: ShA NA NA- Sha Na Na Theme-Yakitey Yak- Teen Angel- Jailhouse Rock- Wipe Out- The Book of Love- Duke of Earl- At The Hop- Na Na Theme

The next to last act before Jimi, Sha NaNa was a strange surprise. The remainder of the crowd dint know how to react, but the group won them over during the set.

1030 AM: JIMI HENDRIX (aka: Gypsy Sons & Rainbows)- Message To Love- Hear My Train A Coming/ Getting My Heart Back- Spanish Castle Magic- Red House- Master Mind- Here He Comes- Foxey Lady- Jam Back at the House- Izabella- Gypsy Woman- The Star Spangled Banner- Purple Haze- Improv- Villa Nova Junction- Hey Joe

Jimi closes out the Festival with a two hour set on Monday morning to a crowd of only about40,000 to 60,000 left overs. His manager insisted he end the show, hence the early morning set. He recieved the most money of any artist at the Festival, estimated at $35,000. The average salary in America in 1969 was $7000. His now legendery performance was highlighted by his rendition of he Star Spangled Banner which spoke for the generation!!

Remembering Woodstock 43 Years Later- Day Two: August 16, 1969

Saturday starts out a hot humid Catskill summer day An approximate 1/2 million people are at the site with probably another million on the way somwhere in Upstate NY but can't arrive. All set lists are approximates.

130 PM: QUILL- That's How I eat- They Live the Life- Driftin'- Waiting For You

Quill's management was promoter Michael Lang, so the band played the venue. The week prior they were busy entertaining the stage crew & festival workers. Also a a good will gesture Woodstock ventures had them play local prisons, mental hospitals & 1/2 way housed to appease the locals. Quill handed out percussion instruments to the audience and played a good set. They didn't make the film because the audio & video was malfunctioning during their set.

220 PM: COUNTRY JOE McDONALD- Janis-All Around the World- Flying High All Over The World- Seen A Rocket- Fish Cheer / Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die Rag
Country Joe, Janis Joplin's boyfriend, agreed to play an acoustic set because non of the scheduled acts had arrived and everything was way behind. He screamed out his classic Fish Cheer-"Gimmie an F- Gimmie a U- Gimmie a C- *** Whats that Spell?" and the rowd stopped everything and joined in. He invented it at a Central Park concert the previous year, so most of the NY area crowd knew it. His anti war Feel Like I'm Fixin' got a standing ovation & huge sing along response. On Sunday he did his set with his band the Fish.

310 PM: JOHN SEBASTIAN- How Have You Been- Rainbows All Over Your Blues- I Had A Dream- Darling Be Home Soon- The Younger Generation

Sebastian was a a big star at the time, coming off a great bunch of hits as singer of The Lovin Spoonful (Summer In The City- Day Dream- Do You Believe In Magic- etc.). He lived in the town of Woodstock and came to the festival as a fan, didn't even have his guitar. He was urged backstage to buy more t
ime because of rain & sound problems. He did a phenomenal acoustic set that made the film & album only adding to his legend. He was tripping on acid because he didn't expect to play.

400 PM: The KEEF HARTLEY BAND- Spanish Fly- Believe In You- Rock Me Baby- Leavin Trunk-Halfbreed- Just To Cry- Sinnin' For You

They were an English band, and in 1962 Drummer Keef Hartley made history by replacing Ringo Starr in Rory Storm & the Hurricanes when he joined the Beatles.
500 PM; MAX YASGUR's Speech

520 PM: SANTANA- Waiting- You Just Don't Care- Savor- Jingo- Persuasion- Soul Sacrafice- Fried Neckbones & Some Homefires

At the time Santana were still unknown to most. They came from the San Francisco music scene & were regulars at Bill Grahm's Filmore's. Grahm got them a spot at Woodstock and they blew the crowd away. They were thrust into stardom right during their set, Soul Sacrifice becoming a classic and a high point of the film.

Carlos Santana had just turned only 22 years old. He is seen grimacing during his set because he was tripping on mesc at the time. Jerry Garcia told him they were going on before the Dead, probably around midnight, so he figured he'd be coming down by then. One thing led to another & they said 'Your on!"

630 PM: The INCREDIBLE STRING BAND- Sleepers Awaken- The Letter- This Moment is Different- When You Find Out Who You Are
Due to play Friday after Shankar but the rain meant they could only do an acoustic set. They got Fridays bill after Santana & before Canned Heat, not good for the English fold band.

800PM; CANNED HEAT- A Change Is Gonna Come- Leaving This Town- The Bear Talks- Going Up Country- I'm Her Man- Lets Work Together- Too Many Drivers at the Wheel- I Know My Baby- Woodstock Boogie- On The Road Again
Canned Heat were a blues/rock band from L.A. led by Big Bob the Bear Hite. They were popular with two hits out at the time, their Going Up the Country was a perfect backdrop to the festival. It appears in the film as the crowd makes their way. In the Directors cut & 40th anniversary versions of the film, the band is seen playing live at dusk. Tragedy & drugs plagued the band after Woodstock.

900PM: MOUNTAIN- Blood of the Sun- Stormy Monday- Theme From An Imaginary Western- Long Red- For Yasgurs Farm- Waiting To Take You Away- Dreams of Milk & Honey- Blind Man- Blue Suede Shoes- Southbound Train- Mississippi Queen
Felix Pappalardi had produced three Cream albums and formed a trio Heavy Rock band of his own when he found Long Islands big man Leslie West.
They had only played three live shows as a band before Woodstock Corky Lang was a roadie that night & he became the bands drummer a year later.
Midnight: The GRATEFUL DEAD- St. Stephen- Mamma Tried- Dark Star- High Time- Turn On Your Lovelight
The Deads performance had never been released until 2009, finally. They considered it one of their worst gigs. They were stoned, and ran late due to technical problems. Their heavy equipment was too large for the stage and it was feared it may collapse during the set. Technical difficulties from the flooding was causing electrical shocks on the instruments and mics.

Bob Weir was flung off the ground, after that everyone was paranoid about getting electrocuted. During the set they kept getting delayed, they had long pauses between songs and the sound never got fully repaired. It added to the festivals chaos. They were received pretty well, being so popular and their 45 minuter version of Lovelight was fantastic.

1:30AM- CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL- Born ON A Bayou- Green River- 99 1/2- Commotion- Bootleg- Bad Moon Rising- Proud Mary- I Pu a Spell On You- Night Time Is Right Time- Keep On Chooglin'-Suzy Q

CCR were one of the biggest acts in the country at the time, top 10 albums, top 10 hits & 2 number one hits. The Berkley California based band did a fantastic show but never made the film or album because of contract issues that have always plagued the group.

Fogerty claims the crowd were asleep and or stoned from what he could see. Bodies all laid out covered in mud. He said he noticed a guy in the crowd with a lighter saying "We're with ya john" & he played the rest of the set just for him.

230 AM; JANIS JOPLIN (w/the Kosmic Blues Band)- Raise Your Hand-As Good As You've Been To This World- To Love Somebody- Summertime- Try (A Little Bit Harder)- Kosmic Blues- Cant Turn You Loose- Work Me Lord- Piece of My Heart- Ball & Chain

Janis was no longer with Big Brother & the Holding Co. and just feeling her way in front of the new Kosmic Blues band. The hard drinking was starting to take a toll on her, the long delays & partying of the day didn't help. Her performances were not in the original film or album but are now available and she is always something to watch.

No one sang the Blues like Janis. Yes she could have been better, and wasn't as good as at Monterrey in 1967, but one year later she was found dead, so Woodstock was certainly a legendary performance for her.

330 AM: SLY & THE FAMILY STONE- My Lady- Sing A Simple Song- You Can Make It If Your Try- Stand- Love City- Dance To the Music/ I Want To Take You Higher

Sly had been known to be difficult to work with & had a bad rep with large crowds, but tonight he shined. He woke people out of their sleeping bags at almost four in the morning with an electric set of psychedelic funk. They brought the crowd to their feet as witnessed in the film during Want to Take You Higher. It may have been the best performance they ever did according to band members.

500 AM: THE WHO- Heaven & Hell-I Cant Explain- (Tommy in its entirety) Its A Boy-1921- Amazing Journey- Sparks-Eyesite to the Blind- Christmas- Tommy Can You Hear Me- Acid Queen- Pinball Wizard- Underture- Do You Think Its Alright- Fiddle About- There's A Dr. I Found- Go To The Mirror- Smash the Mirror- Im Free- Tommy's Holiday Camp- We're Not Gonna Take It- See Me Feel Me- Summertime Blues- Shakin All Over- My Generation- Naked Eye
Pete Townshend hated it, he called it a bunch of tripping hippies in mud walking around thinking the world was going to be different, which he said wasn't. During the set Abbie Hoffman jumped on stage and started ranting about an arrested friend, Tonwshend hit him in the head with his guitar. Abbie was thrown into the crowd and slithered away, not to be seen again near the stage.

Roger Daltry loved it. He said it was the best gig ever. The Who were fantastic totally on top of their game as seen in the film & on the album. They performed Tommy which was their newest project, that along with Woodstock put them into super stardom in America. Dawn begins to break in the distance as Pete smashes his guitar and throws it into the audience. Quite a souvenir.
700AM: JEFFERSON AIRPLANE- 3/5 of a Mile in Ten Seconds- Somebody To Love- White Rabbit- Saturday Afternoon- Plastic Fantastic Lover- Volunteers- Eskimo Blue Day- Uncle Sams Blues
The headliners for Saturday night didn't play until day break on Sunday, officially ending a super Day Two. The Airplane were huge at this point in time, hit songs, hit albums, psychedelic icons, veterans of all the big Festivals and leaders of the San Francisco Haight Ashbury sound.

Grace Slick woke anyone who wasn't up with "Good Morning People, You have seen the heavy groups, now you'll see morning maniac music, yea, believe me, Its the new Dawn" how prophetic. The Airplane set was great, maybe a little tired since they were up all night backstage partying as well. Looking back it was their last high point before a slow decline of a great band.

Remembering Woodstock 43 Years Later- Day One: Friday Agust 15th, 1969

It was billed as Three Days of Peace & Music, and it became the biggest concert in rock & roll history. The show starts later than expected on Friday evening. The throngs of people are still coming, hundreds of thousands are already flooding the town of Bethel and Max Yasgur's farm has become a history making seas of humanity. Far out man. Here is what the music looked like on the first day which was pretty much a bill of folk artists.

Day One (Friday August 15, 1969)

500 PM- RICHIE HAVENS- Minstrel From the Gault- High Flyin' Bird- I Cant Make It Anymore- I Had a Woman- Handsome Johnny- With A Little Help From My Friends- Strawberry Fields Forever- Hey Jude- Freedom

The traffic jams had the roads blocked and the musicians who were staying at a Holiday Inn a few miles away couldn't get to the site, until the helicopters started flying them in. Obviously there were many delays on Friday afternoon. Havens was asked to go on first because he & 2 band members got there, he was scheduled to go on fifth originally. Artie Kornfield (one of the organisers) knew Havens from Greenwich Village and kept pushing him out there to buy time. Havens played a much longer than expected set and made up his classic Freedom on the spot.


715 PM: Swami Sri Satchidananda- 15 minute speech & mantra.

At the time he was a famous Yoga, meditation guru. Due to the delays he was given some stage time.

730 PM: SWEETWATER- Motherless Child- Look Out- For Pete's Sake- Day Song- Whats Wrong- My Crystal Spider- Two Worlds- Why Oh Why- Hey Jude/Let The Sun Shine In/ Oh Happy Days

Sweetwater were suppose to open due to the keyboardist having military obligations the next day. They were a diverse band (white,black, latino) with an eclectic style. They played many big festivals of the time without having any hits. Sadly that winter singer Nancy Nevens was seriously injured in a car crash & the band disbanded except for a few get togethers thru the years.

830 PM: BERT SOMMER- Jenifer- Road to Travel- I Wonder Where You'd Be- Shes Gone- Things Are Going My Way- And When Its Over- Jeanette- America- A Note That Read- Smile

900 PM: TIM HARDIN- Misty Roses-If I were A Carpenter

A resident of Woodstock, NY, Hardin was an acclaimed singer songwriter, plagued with drug problems. He is seen totally out of it in the film and was pretty much a disappointment.

1000 PM: RAVI SHANKAR- Shankar was popular with his Indian music thanks to George Harrison & David Crosby. The influence of the sitar was the in thing of the mid sixties. His set was cut short after a half hour by the first rainfall of the weekend.

1100 PM: MELANIE- Beautiful People- Birthday of the Sun.

At the time Melanie was an unknown folk singer from Queens but worked in the same office buildings as the promoters. She asked to join in. It was dark just before she came on stage & one of the stage announcements told the crowd it was the largest group of people ever assembled. Light a match to see yourselves, the massive seas of light is when Melanie entered and launched her career.

Midnight: ARLO GUTHRIE- Coming Into Los Angeles-Walkin' Down The Line
Just 18 years old, Guthrie wasn't expected to go on he claims and partied a little to much that day which affected his performance. He was famous at the time for being Woody Guthrie's son & having the Thanksgiving classic Alice's Restaurant. It was a tripping Guthrie who said "I don't like how many of you can dig how many people there are man, like I was rapping to the fuzz, can you dig it? There's suppose to be a million 1/2 people here by tomorrow. The NY State Thruways closed man"...Lotta freaks!!

1 AM: JOAN BAEZ- Joe Hill-Sweet Sir Galahad- Drug Store Truck Driving Man- Swing Low Sweet Chariot- We Shall Overcome

The veteran folk singer activist was pregnant & well known at the time. She did a good deed & performed at the Free Stage area earlier during the day to those far away from the main stage.