Nov 28, 2012

Concert Review: The Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas Rocks Extravaganza: Westbury, New York

Over the past few years I have gotten away from Christmas music during the Holiday Season. It's over saturation of the market way in advance has kind of turned me off, as well as the fact that everyone puts out a Christmas album these days, even those who don't believe in what Christmas is all about. That said, I've always enjoyed the rock & roll Christmas songs most notably Ronnie Spector & Brian Setzer.

Last night the Brian Setzer Orchestra's 9th Christmas Extravaganza rocked the Westbury Music Fair on Long Island. The local Long Island boy, from Massapequa, comes home almost every year to put on his special concert. It was an exciting night since it also was the opening night of a U.S tour that takes BSO right to Christmas over the next month.

Setzer first received fame as leader of the Stray Cats in the early eighties capturing a revival of rockabilly music. The Stray Cats were popular on Long Island & in Manhattan at places like CBGS & Max's Kansas City. When they heard of a rockabilly revival in England they packed up & went to London.

Soon they hit it big there, even attracting members of the Stones & Led Zeppelin to their shows. (Setzer later played as a guest in Robert Plant's Honey Dripper's project, even appearing on Saturday Night Live with him in 1984.) The Stray Cats album; Built For Speed made it to number two on the Billboard charts & stayed there for six months, spawning two top ten singles.

In the 1990's Setzer revitalized his career, as a new Swing movement was taking place, fronting the Brian Setzer Orchestra. He has had successful albums & tours since with the project. Years later, they are the last survivors of that Swing movement.

Setzer has taken it a step further, adding Christmas music into his mix of musical styles & taking it on the road. The result is a fantastic, a unique style that combines everything; rockabilly, swing, rock & roll, punk, big band, & Holiday music all fronted by a wailing guitar.

The band is led by Brian Setzer who is an incredible, well respected guitarist in his own right. He plays a classic variety of fifties & sixties guitars making a sound all his own. He also is an excellent singer whose voice is perfect for the styles of music he has perfected. The Theater in the round at Westbury, could hardly hold the entire ensemble of musicians on its tiny stage.

Setzer is backed by a full orchestra (12 piece horn section) a drummer, stand up bassist & two female singers (referred to as the vixens) one of which is his current wife.

The set list features Brian Setzer Orchestra songs, Christmas songs that make even the Scroogiest people feel good & of course Stray Cats classics.

I was a Stray Cat fan back in 1982, with our MC leather Jackets & long hair, chasing girls on the streets of the Bronx, the Stray Cat Strut was (still is) one of my favorites of all time. That tune alone was worth the price of admission.

It cleverly broke into the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, during the middle part, which took a bit away from it for me, but was still great as it faded back to Stray Cat Strut. Other highlights were Sexy & Seventeen, Fishnet Stockings & of course Rock This Town.

During the last segment of the show, Setzer, his drummer Tony Pia & stand up bass player Johnny Hatton, performed as a trio, ala Stray Cats.

They were fantastic during this portion of the night, maybe the best part of a really great show. The ladies came out as well joing the trio showing off their vocal talents too.

They rocked the house, especially during Rock This Town which had everybody up singing & dancing along. The full orchestra joined after the second verse in a grand finale.

The night had an appearance by the Grinch & of course Santa Claus who threw out Candy Canes to the crowd, fun stuff.

I'd also like to make note of the fantastic opening act Totsy, who are described as "burlesque pop with a forties throw back sound".

The Los Angeles based band were a real pleasant surprise. Lead by singer Beth Curry, who used to be a backup singer in the Brain Setzer Orchestra & guitarist Brett Boyett.

The eight piece band were very impressive & nice to look at too, with two lovely backing singers in their brunette bob wigs, corsets & fishnet stockings.

Songs included their single Dope on a Rope, Red Balloon & Santa Likes Naughty Girls Too.

Brian Setzer Orchestra Set List:
Dig That Crazy Santa Claus
49 Mercury Blues
This Cat's On A Hot Tin Roof
Boogie Woogie Santa Claus
Sexy & Seventeen
Stray Cat Strut
Your a Mean One Mr. Grinch
Drive Like Lightning Crash Like Thunder
Flight of the Bumble Bee
Gloria in Excelsis Deo
Jump Jive & Wail
Run Run Rudolph
Jingle Bell Rock
Blue Christmas
Fishnet Stockings
Rock This Town

Nutcracker Suite
Getting In The Mood
Jingle Bells

Nov 27, 2012

Italian / American Player Turned Manager: Mike Sciosia

Michael Lorri Scioscia was born on November 27, 1958 in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. He went to high school in the Italian American neighborhood outside of Philadelphia where Tommy Lasorda had grown up. Lasorda was certainly involved in helping to recruit the young catcher.

In 1976 he was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a first round draft pick (19th overall). The six foot two, two hundred pound cather batted left handed but threw right handed. After five minor league seasons, he made the Dodgers big league team by 1980. Scioscia made his MLB debut on April 20th 1980 in the 11th game of the season.

He would play in 54 games that year & in the Dodgers 1981 Championship season, he took over as the main catcher replacing veteran Steve Yeagar.

Quotes: Tommy Lasorda was quoted as saying: When I made Mike the No. 1 catcher, the writers came to me and said, Yeager said you made Scioscia the No. 1 catcher because he's Italian." I said, "That's a lie. I made him the No. 1 catcher because I'm Italian."

By 1981 Fernando Valenzuela had come on the scene causing "Fernandomania" in Southern California. Scioscia went out & learned Spanish so he could communicate better with the new rookie sensation pitcher. The 1981 Dodgers consisting of the new guys; Scioscia, Valenzuela, & Pedro Guerrero as well as the old long time Dodger core veterans, Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Dave Lopes, & Bill Russell went on to win a long awaited Championship for Los Angeles, in that strike shortened season. In 93 games he hit .276 with 2 HRs & 29 RBIs.

Post Season: In the 1981 NLCS he hit a HR off Montreal’s Jeff Reardon in Game #1 helping the Dodgers to a 5-1 win. He hit .250 in the World Series playing in only three of the six games. In the post season overall he was he went 5-32 with two RBIs.

Although he was a decent hitter, Mike Scioscia was known for his great defense, and his incredible ability to block home plate. When blocking the plate he would be positioned on an angle down on both knees while making the tag with the ball in his catcher's glove, different from the most catchers style.

In 1985 he was knocked unconscious by the Giants Will Clark but still held onto the ball for the out. The next year he & the Giants Chili Davis were both knocked out cold, in another brutal home plate collision. That was the one Scioscia called the worst of his career.

He led the league in throwing out base runners caught stealing twice, (1988-1989). He would throw out over 40% of would be base stealers twice in his career with over 35% seven times. He led all catchers in put outs three times, assists & passed balls twice each. He also caught two no hitters in his career one from Fernando Valenzuela in 1990 & another thrown by Kevin Gross in 1992.

Scioscia went to two All Star Games, becoming the first Dodger catcher to start an All Star Game since Roy Campanella. He was a solid contact hitter, that did not strike out too much, averaging one strike out every 14 at bats during his career. In 1995 he batted a career best .296 with his second best average coming in 1981 when he hit .276. He was not much of a power hitter, hitting a career high 12 HRs in 1990.

Post Season: Scioscia returned to the post season in 1985, batting .250 in a series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

But it was the 1988 NLCS that Met fans always remember. In Game #4 the Mets were leading 4-2 in the 9th inning & had a 2-1 Series advantage. Mets ace Dwight Gooden was on the mound & walked John Shelby with Mike Scioscia coming to bat as the tying run.

He blasted a game tying HR, silencing & stunning the Shea Stadium crowd. The Dodgers would go on to win the game when Kirk Gibson hit his 12th inning HR off Roger McDowell. Although they took it to a Game seven, the Mets could never recover. A matter of fact it would be eleven years before they got to another post season.

Scioscia hit .364 in that Series as his team advanced, going on to shock the Bash Brothers & the Oakland A’s in the World Series. After a 13 year career, the lifelong Dodger had to retire due to injuries taking their toll on him by the age of 34.

He finished his career batting .259 with 68 HRs 198 doubles 446 RBIs & a .344 on base % with two World Series titles.

Behind the plate he caught in 1395 games (39th most all time). He made 8335 put outs (23rd all time ) with 737 assists (89th all time). He threw out 500 base runners trying to steal (64th all time) 34%.

Retirement: After his playing days he coached for the Dodgers organization until he was hired by the Los Angeles Angels f Anaheim as their manager during the 1999 season. With Scioscia at the helm the Angels had their most successful period in their history, winning five AL West titles, & their first World Series title in 2002. Scioscia won the Manager of the Year Award that season becoming the 17th person to win a World Series as both Player & Manager.

He is the first manager to reach the post season in six of his first ten seasons, and has become the Angels all time leader in victories. In 2009 he won another Manager of the Year Award & had his contract extended through 2018.

On May 8, 2011 Scioscia became the 56th manager to win 1,000 or more games and just the 23rd to have all 1,000 or more victories with a single team He is the major league's longest tenured manager going into the 2013 season.

Family: He met his wife Anne while she was bringing him cookies at Dodger Stadium. Together they have two children & live in Westlake Village, California. His son Matt Scioscia was drafted in the 45th riund of the 2011 draft by the Angels.

Nov 23, 2012

Mets Infielder: Justin Turner (2011-2012)

Justin Matthew Turner was born on November 23rd, 1984 in Long Beach California. The red headed six foot infielder attended California State University at Fullerton, getting named freshman All American by Baseball America. He was named to the 2003 College World Series All Tournament team as a short stop.

In 2005 he was drafted in the 25th round by the AL New York club but did not sign. He signed in 2006 with the Cincinnati Reds in the 6th round. Turner hit well in the minor leagues hitting .300 or better in five of six seasons.  

In December of 2008 he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles along with Ryan Freel in exchange for Ramon Hernandez. He hit .300 at AAA Norfolk & and earned himself a September call up, debuting in Boston going 0-2 in a 10-0 loss to the Red Sox. In 2010 he began the year with the Orioles but was hitless in five games, he was demoted & placed on waivers. On May 25th he was picked up by the New York Mets.

With the Mets he batted .333 in 78 games at AAA Buffalo making an impression on a team with a lot of openings at the big league level. At the start of the 2011 season, Terry Collins gave Brad Eamus the starting second base job out of Spring Training. After just 14 games he lost his position & was gone. Justin Turner began the year at AAA Buffalo where he hit .300 in ten games and was brought up to the replace Eamus. He took over the spot & was the clubs main second baseman through the year, as Daniel Murphy took over at first base in place of the injured Ike Davis.

On May 7th Turner came in the 8th inning as a pinch hitter of a tie game with the bases loaded. He singled off the Los Angeles Dodgers Matt Guerrier putting the Mets ahead for the win. On May 15th in the middle of an eight game hit streak, Turner drove in five runs with a three run HR &two run double, leading the Mets to a 7-4 win over the Astros in Houston. On May 19th his fourth inning RBI single was the only run of the game as he helped Dillon Gee to a 1-0 victory.

The next day in the first matchup of the subway series with the cross town rivals, Turner drove in the first run of the game with a double off Freddy Garcia. Daniel Murphy would later hit a HR leading the Mets to a 2-1 win. Turners incredible month of May had him drive in runs in seven straight games that week & then another six games closing out the month. He set a Mets Rookie Record with seven consecutive games with an RBI. He was also named the May NL Rookie of the month.  

He stayed over the .300 mark into June before tailing off his hot hitting. On June 22nd, in an interleague game at Citi Field against the Oakland Athletics he singled in the 8th inning scoring Jose Reyes with the go ahead run. The A's tied it in the 9th but in the bottom of the inning Turner was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, which scored thw winning run. In the month he drove in eleven runs & then in July added a ten game hit streak. On August 6th Turner hit a pair of HRs driving in four runs against the Atlanta Braves in an 11-7 New York win.

A month later on September 9th, he won another game with a ground rule double against Sean Marshall to beat the Chicago Cubs. On September 22nd with the Mets down to the Cardinals 6-2 in the top of the 9th inning, Turner began a big Mets rally by walking with the bases loaded. He later came in to score the tying run on a Willie Harris base hit, as the Mets went on to an 8-6 win. On the year he played in 117 games batting .260 with four HRs 30 doubles 51 RBIs & a .334 on base %.  

In 2012 Turner played more of a utility role, as Daniel Murphy took back over at second base. On April 26th Turner came to bat in the bottom of the 9th inning with the Mets down to the Florida Marlins 2-1 facing Heath Bell. He drew a walk scoring David Wright with the tying run & the Mets won it on Kirk Nieuwenhuis' single. He got to see more playing time when Ruben Tejada went down with injury, as he played shortstop in rotation with Jordanny Valdespin. Then Turner missed a month of action going on the DL from late May into late June.

When Johan Santana threw the first no hitter in Mets history, it was Turner who gave Johan a pie in the face during the post game interview. It certainly did not seem the right time, after a history making moment to do something like that. Although the good natured fun loving Turner has always been the jokester in the Mets club house.  

In June he doubled driving in two runs in the subway series helping the Mets to a much needed 6-4 win. At the All Star break he was batting .289 as the Mets finished off a successful first half of the season.

Their second half was nowhere near as good as they fell to fourth place. On August 25th he hit his first HR of the year & hit his second a month later at Citi Field in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In 94 games he batted .269 with 2 HRs 13 doubles & 19 RBIs. The versatile Turner played at second base (14 games) first base (11 games) third base (11 games) & short (10 games).

Mid 2000's Mets Pitcher & Former Japan Save Leader: "Mr Zero" Shingo Takatsu (2005)

Shingo Takatsu was born November 25th, 1968 in Hiroshima, Japan. The six foot right hander pitched in Japan with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows for thirteen seasons. At the time he set the all time save record there with 260 saves, it has since been broken. In Japan he was known as "Mr. Zero" since he had not allowed any runs in ten Nippon Series championship games. I

n 2004 he signed on in the Major Leagues with the Chicago White Sox. Takatsu made a big mark in America, coming in second in the Rookie of the Year voting as he saved 19 games (tenth in the AL). He was 6-4 with a 2.31 ERA striking out 50 batters in 62 innings while walking 21. That year the White Sox finished in second place.

In the 2005 White Sox championship season, he had issues. He was eventually replaced after going 1-2 with eight saves while posting an ERA near six. Ozzie Guillen gave the closer job to Dustin Hermanson as Bobby Jenks was waiting in the wings. By August he had fallen out of favor with the Sox & was released. He was given a chance by the New York Mets signing on August 12th.

Takatsu debuted in Florida on September 3rd blowing a save in a 5-4 loss to the Marlins. Four days later he blew another save in Atlanta to the Braves. On September 26th he finished off the 7th inning in Philadelphia serving up a HR to Pat Burrell. In the top of the 8th the Mets scored three runs which earned him his only Mets victory.

He was granted free agency that November, after making nine Mets appearances going 1-0 with a 2.35 ERA, six strike outs & three walks in 7.2 innings. The following year he went back to pitch in Japan.

Nov 21, 2012

Concert Review: Aerosmith & Cheap Trick- Madison Square Garden 11-20-12

What an incredible night at Madison Square Garden for the Aerosmith / Cheap Trick Concert. It began at 5:30 PM with a meet & greet with Cheap Trick. This was very kool & something I would do again in the future with other bands (if affordable).

We got to walk backstage & under the stage out on the same path the band takes during the concert. There were a small group of us which included people from Australia, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Boston & Connecticut as well as us local New Yorkers. We were met by a Cheap Trick representative & taken on our journey. We received a signed lithograph, a backstage lanyard pass & lots of guitar pics. Rick Nielson's thing is throwing out & giving out pics.

There was a photo op. with actual guitars the band used on stage that night & then the big moment. A meeting with the band & photo op taken by the representative. This was so kool, first off the guys were great; Nice, polite approachable & very thankful for fan support.

Tom Peterson made a strong impression on me as being maybe the most friendly of all in his quiet way. "Hi I'm Tom" he said as I walked over, "I know who you are" I said .

Later, since all the people who bought the meet & greet package were sitting together on the side of the stage, in the same section; Peterson walked over, searched us out by putting his hand above his eyes to block the glare & acknowledged us personally.

Nielson did do the same but not as personable as Toms Some of these folks also purchased tickets to sit on the stage itself & Nielson seemed very accommodating to them during the performance.

I also got to shake Robin Zander & Rick Nielson's hands as well. When Nielson asked where I was from, I said it's hard to follow up on all these people from all around the world, I'm just from the Bronx & Queens! As we laughed.

I said if there is one thing I'd ever want to ask Cheap Trick it's "what was it like to play with John Lennon" (in reference to their 1979 session of "I'm Losing You, released on the Lennon box set.) There wasn't much time to chat, as this whole process was planned out on a time limit, but I caught him off guard & he just said "yea (taken off guard) well, it was great" with strong emotion seeming like he wanted to elaborate more.

All in all a great experience. Now I have to wait for them to post the pictures on their website.

As we walked from backstage we caught Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith on stage having a Q & A with fans that paid for that package. It was strange to be in the Garden so early, with no one around.

We settled in to our seats later as Cheap Trick took the stage. They played to a pretty small crowd at the start of their set, but it filled in nicely by the final songs. They are a great veteran classic rock band, doing what they do best, playing good rock music very well.

Earlier at the meet & greet, Elyse had asked for a Beatles song. The band is notorious for being huge Beatles fans, as mentioned earlier they even played with John Lennon who admired their music as well. Cheap Trick have gone on tour doing a full Sgt. Pepper show & had a hit with a cover of Magical Mystery Tour.

Tom Peterson told her they haven't been playing any on this tour but maybe we can do one tonight. Rick Nielson chimed in "for her we'll do three!". Sure enough to our surprise they did a version of the Golden Slumbers medley (three songs) from Abbey Road- how kool is that!

They did mention they had requests for Beatles songs. By playing this song they dropped The Flame, which had been a regular in the set list up to tonight.

For me it was the final three songs that made the show. By now the crowd was on their feet singing & dancing to Cheap Tricks biggest songs; I Want You to Want Me- Dream Police & Surrender in which Nielson played his famous yellow checker board, five neck guitar.

Surrender is one of the best songs of all time, probably in my top ten. During the classic line " mom & dad were rolling on the my Kiss records out" Nielson threw out a Cheap Trick album to the crowd followed by a barrage of guitar pics.

Original drummer Bun E. Carlos no longer tours with the band,
 Rick Nielson's son is the touring drummer.

It was thirty five plus years since Cheap Trick hit it big with Live at Budokan. I was in the sixth grade & a big fan of them at thier peak through the Dream Police album. Those songs will always be a soundtrack to those adolescent days. I have seen the band a maybe four times through the years, most notably on Halloween 1985 at Radio City Music Hall.

Cheap Trick Set List:
Hello There
Big Eyes
Come On, Come On
California Man
On Top of the World
Ain't That a Shame (with Aerosmith's Brad Whitford)
I Know What I Want
Need Your Love
Baby Loves to Rock
Sick Man of Europe
Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End (The Beatles cover)
I Want You to Want Me
Dream Police


In between sets there were a few celebrity sightings, from our great seats which were; first section on the side of the stage, row five. This was right at the end of the ramp on the right side of the stage & right over the walk way to the floor/front row seats. My new Australian friend from the meet & greet ( a member of the band Enticer) pointed out Liv Tyler ( & her kids) as well as Sean Lennon. I spotted Mark Hudson (producer/ musician & song writer) as well as the legendary producer Jack Douglas. I also got a text from one of my life long best friends & his wife who were also at the show.

 photo taken from Dana Gavin
Aerosmith hits the stage & the crowd goes wild for the next two hours. The band opened up with Mama Kin, as Steven Tyler & Joe Perry come up out of the floor at the end of the long runway which ran half way into the Garden's audience. This is where Tyler spent most of his night hamming it like the rock star he is. At other times he was up alongside his other band mates, singing & sticking his mic into their faces.

He dances, he strutted, he jumped around & threw himself on the ground. Above all he sang & he sang well, very well. He was amazing with all the energy the man has & all the running around he does, that his voice can be that spectacular.

At this point in time, Steven Tyler is probably the best rock performer in the business, anywhere, any age. The man electrifies an audience, he steals the show. He never stops moving or performing the part he is suppose to play. In classic Tyler fashion, he has the long scarves hanging from his microphone stand, which he twirls around like it's a baton adding to his stage persona.

But of course it's not all about Steven Tyler. It's about the music & Aerosmith are one of the world's greatest bands. They are the original members & one of the best live bands you'll ever see. These guys have been playing together since the early seventies & they've been through it all. From break up, to drug addiction, divorces, fist fights & falling out of being on top to rising back up time & time again. By now it all looks easy for them. They are just great! Amazing!

Joe Perry with his new half moustache, was donning scarves over his leather jacket, grimacing at his guitar while he plays like he's trying to melt the neck with his hand. He certainly has all the classic poses & when he stands in front of the large wind fans with his hair blowing back, he is what a rock guitar player should look like. And yes he certainly can still play, his lead guitar work was phenomenal.

When he & Tyler team get side by side to sing together on the mike, it's about as classic as classic rock can get.

Perry always sings lead on one song in concert & this time it was Combination, from my favorite Aerosmith album; Rocks (1976). Tyler sang along on the song too, as I saw him sitting near the drums behind the scenes.

Joey Kramer did a great drum solo & he is certainly on top of his game as one of rocks best drummers. Tom Hamilton bass (along with Kramer) make the back bone to the whole blues/ rock sound Aerosmith has always been.

Hamilton has become a big spokesman for the group recently on you tube, & with the meet & greets as mentioned earlier. He also addressed the crowd on our side, as he walked up the ramp & played there for a good long while. And so important to the band is the most low keyed member on stage, Brad Whitford; who's rhythm guitar work is so vital to Aerosmith. Wilford also came out on stage with Cheap Trick playing on their classic cover version of Ain't that A Shame".

As for the set list, it was a great mix of old & new, as well as big hits & deeper album cuts. With such an incredible library a lot is put into what songs the band will play on each tour. They need to make everyone happy.

This time around they pretty much left out the slow ballads, only doing Jaded & What It Takes from Pump (1989). It was done with Tyler starting out telling a story of a break up, as he lie down on the stage & focused on a woman in the crowd, certainly making her night. He then started out the song acapella with no music behind him, showing off how good his voice is. The band then joined in & Perry added a great solo.

They did some biggies; Elevator, Rag Doll, & Dude Looks Like A Lady, which is a song Tyler usually never liked to play live, so it was a treat. Of course then the Big Three ended the show.

There was some old stuff thrown in the set list; Walking the Dog & Movin Out (both from their debut album) as well as Boogie Man. Mixed in were No More No More from Toys (1975), Livin on the Edge from Get A Grip (1993) & the great Last Child from Rocks (1976).

They did two songs; Lover Alot & Oh Yeah, from the new album; Music From Another Dimension. It is a great album, certainly their best album in twenty years. It has the old Aerosmith sound from the roots of the seventies as proven with the two songs they played in concert.

Another surprise & certainly a treat for us Beatles fans, was having Sean Lennon come on stage to join them on Come Together. This is a rare one that I haven't seen played live in I don't know how long. Aerosmith first covered Come Together in 1978 for the dreadful attempt of a move version of Sgt. Peppers Lonley Hearts Club Band that the Beatles had nothing to do with. Aerosmith being the only good thing that came out of the project.

If I tallied it up correctly the most songs came from the first album (3) & Toys in The Attic (3) with Rocks, Permanent Vacation, Pump & Music From Another Dimension all getting (2). Nothing from Draw the Line!

photo taken from Dana Yavin

Aerosmith Set List:
Mama Kin
Love in an Elevator
Oh Yeah
Livin' on the Edge
Movin' Out
Walkin' the Dog
Last Child
Drum Solo
Rag Doll
Boogie Man
Lover Alot
What It Takes
No More No More
Come Together (with Sean Lennon)
Dude (Looks Like a Lady)
Walk This Way 
Encores: Dream On
Sweet Emotion

Nov 19, 2012

Early Twentieth Century New York Giants Backup Catcher: Lew McCarty (1916-1920)

George Lewis McCarty was born on November 17th, 1888 in Milton Pennsylvania. The five foot eleven rugged catcher played three years in Newark, New Jersey playing AA ball from 1913-1915.

Lew McCarty began his career in Brooklyn playing for the Brooklyn Superbas who changed their name to the Robins. They would become the Dodgers in the early thirties. In his first full season he was one of the league's best catchers, coming in the top twenty for the MVP voting. He batted .254 with one HR 30 RBIs. Behind the plate he threw out 42% of would be base stealers, although he allowed 103 stolen bases (third most in the NNL) posting a .970 fielding %. In Brooklyn he was a team mate to Casey Stengel.

Late in th 1916 season he was traded to the New York Giants in exchange for the infamous Fred Merkle. At the time of the trade the Robins were in first place & went on to win a pennant that year as well. With the Giants he settled in as the backup catcher to Bill Rariden, playing 25 games while batting a strong .387. In 1917 he played in 56 games behind Rariden, 24 at catcher, throwing out 32% of would be base stealers. His batting average fell off to .247.

That year the Giants won the pennant & face off against the mighty Chicago White Sox team of the time. The same team, that two years later would be black balled for throwing the 1919 World Series. In the Series McCarty saw action in three games going 2-5 with an RBI.

In 1918 he took over as the Giants main catcher for the next two years. He allowed seven passed balls each season, finishing second & fourth most in the league those years. The Giants finished in second place both years & McCarty never got to another World Series. He batted a best .281 in 1919 & threw out 36% of would be base stealers. On July 4th 1920 his contract was purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals. He ended his MLB career there that season.

He would play in the minors through 1927. In a nine year career he batted .266 with 393 hits 5 HRs 47 doubles 20 triples a .318 on base % & 137 RBIs. In 421 career games at catcher he threw out 40% of would be base stealers.

Retirement: After playing he did some managing with the Durham Bulls & Richmond Colts. McCarty passed away in Reading Pennsylvania in 1930 at age 42.

Nov 18, 2012

The Pitcher Who Won the First Game In Mets History: Jay Hook (1962-1964)

James Wesley Hook was born November 18, 1936 in Waukegan, Illinois. He was a star player at Northwestern University also earning a mechanical engineering degree. The six foot two right handed pitcher was signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 1957, making his MLB debut later that same year.

Hook made his debut pitching two innings of relief against the St. Louis Cardinals on September 3rd. On September 25th he made his first star, getting knocked out in the third inning after allowing seven runs (five earned) against the Chicago Cubs. He appeared in only four games over the next two seasons going 0-2 with an ERA over eight. By 1959 he got a starting role in the Reds rotation and went 5-5 with a 5.13 ERA.

In 1960 he went 11-18 (second most losses in the NL) allowing a league leading 31 HRs with a 4.50 ERA striking out 105 batters in 222 innings pitched. He was put in the bullpen as a reliever for Reds 1961 NL Pennant season, going 1-3 in 22 games posting a 7.76 ERA, allowing 14 HRs in 62 innings. He did not appear in the ’61 World Series. Hook was Chosen by the New York Mets as the third pick in the 1961 expansion draft.

On April 17th 1962 he made the fourth start in Mets history, going eight innings at the Polo Grounds against the Houston Astros. He allowed two runs and struck out five earning no decision that day. In his next outing, it turned out to be a historic one. on April 23, 1962, Hook earned the win in the first victory of New York Mets history, in a win over the Pirates at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. He threw a complete game five hitter, allowing only one run while striking out two, in the Mets 9-1 victory.

In his next outing Hook was knocked out in the first inning, after allowing four runs to the Philadelphia Phillies. In his fourth start he lasted just into the 4th inning, as he took a loss the Cincinnati Reds 8-2. On May 8th he got another complete game victory beating the Cubs at Wrigley Field 3-1. He had a few bad stretches on a bad team that didn’t score many runs, having two four game losing streaks throughout the summer and finishing up the season with five straight losses. He finished up the year at 8-19 (4th most losses in the league) with a 4.84 ERA.

In 213 innings pitched, he gave up 230 hits, 71 walks & 31 HRs (4th worst in the league). He did lead the lowly staff with 13 complete games, 34 starts and 137 runs allowed. At the plate he was one of the Mets best hitting pitchers, a natural left handed hitter, he hit .203 with five RBIs & six runs scored.

He started out 1963 losing his first five starts, and it didn’t get much better. He was moved to the bull pen for most of the second half of the season ending up at 4-14 with a 5.48 ERA. He had another good year at the plate and was one of the teams better hitters batting at .237 with an RBI & four runs scored.

In 1964 after only three games and an 0-1 record he was traded along with Wayne Garrett’s brother Adrian to the Milwaukee Braves for shortstop & future coach Roy McMillan. He retired never pitching for the Braves with a career record of 29-62, 396 strikeouts in 752 innings pitched in 160 career games posting a 5.23 ERA. His Mets career record was 12-34 with a 5.22 ERA.

Retirement: After his playing days, Hook used his mechanical engineering degree and worked for the Chrysler motor company. He then went to Rockwell International, where he was involved with the business operations for truck parts and subway undercarriages.

After that he was a senior executive at Masco Corp. When he retired from corporate work, he taught manufacturing management at Northwestern University and bought a farm in Maple City, Michigan.