Aug 29, 2013

Short Time Mid Sixties Mets Outfielder: Billy Cowan (1965)

Billy Rolland Cowan was born on August 28, 1938 at Calhoun City, Mississippi. The six foot right hand hitter, attended the University of Utah and was signed by the Chicago Cubs in 1961.

He was the 1963 Pacific Coast League MVP hitting .315 with 25 HRs & 120 RBIs at AAA Salt Lake City. Cowan made it to the big leagues the next season.

He had his best season in that rookie year, hitting 19 HRs with 50 RBIs, 16 doubles & 12 stolen bases (9th in the league) batting .241. He struck out 128 times (second in the NL) while posting a poor .268 on base %. In the outfield he made a league leading eleven errors with a .965 fielding %. In the off season he was traded to the New York Mets in exchange for George Altman.

He was the Mets leadoff hitter & centerfielder on Opening Day 1965, going 0-4. Cowan wasn't hitting barely keeping his average above .200 most of the season. On June 21st he hit his first HR of the season. It was the only run scored in the game, as Al Jackson beat Claude O'steen with a three hit shut out at Dodger Stadium.

At the end of June he hit HRs in back to back games at Shea Stadium in games against the Milwaukee Braves. That week he also had a five game hit streak. But after 82 games he was only hitting .179 with three HRs a .205 on base % & nine RBIs and was traded to the Milwaukee Braves for two players to be named later (Ernie Bowman & Lou Klimchock).

Trivia: He was the last Mets player in the sixties to wear the uniform #3 as Bud Harrelson took it over in August 65 when Cowan was traded. Harrelson would wear the number until 1977.

He spent 1966 in the minors, getting traded to the Chicago Cubs for Bobby Cox that same year. Cowan appeared briefly with the Philadelphia Phillies (1967) & the AL NY club (1969). That year at the end of July he was sent to the California Angels and hit .304 there the rest of the way in 28 games.

He would spend four years with the Angels averaging batting .276 in both the 1970 & 1971 seasons. He put up similar numbers each year hitting 5 HRs with 25 RBIs in 68 games in 1970 & then 4 HRs with 20 RBIs in 1971 in 74 games.

Trivia: He has a great 1972 Topps baseball card, with the Angels Stadium, Big A behind him and the large halo circling his head.

In his eight year career Cowan batted.236 with 281 hits 40 HRs 44 doubles 8 triples a .269 on base & 125 RBIs. He struck out 297 times 1190 at bats.

Aug 26, 2013

Former Italian/ America Pitcher: Ernie Broglio (1959-1966)

Ernest Gilbert Broglio was born August 27, 1935 in Berkley, California. The six foot two right hander, pitched locally with the Oakland Oaks in the Pacific Coast League.

He spent time in the Cincinnati Reds & New York Giants organizations before getting traded to St. Louis. In October 1958 he was traded along with Marv Grissom to the St. Louis Cardinals for future Met Hobie Landrith, as well as Billy Muffett and Benny Valenzuela.

He came to the big leagues in 1959 and started out by going 0-4 with a blown save. On June 16th he earned his first career win, coming against the Philadelphia Phillies. His season was highlighted by a four hit shut out on August 5th against the Pittsburgh Pirates. In his rookie year he went 7-12 with a 4.72 ERA. In 1960 he was one of the NL’s top pitchers, leading the league in wins (21-9) posting the second best ERA (2.74) pitching in 226 innings, striking out 188 batters & throwing three shutouts.

He even got to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated that season while pitching in San Francisco. He had originally began the year in the bullpen, but won three straight games in starts in mid June.

By July he was in the starting rotation, and went a remarkable 14-2 until the end of the September. He pitched three complete games that month including a three hitter against the Chicago Cubs.

He dropped to 9-12 the next year and then had a 12-9 season with a 3.00 ERA in 1962. His last good year came in 1963, winning 18 games (18-8) with a 2.99 ERA. He had career highs pitching in 250 innings, with 11 complete games & five shut outs.

In 1964 he found himself in manager Johnny Keane’s dog house and was struggling a bit on the mound at 3-5. On June 15th, he was then involved in what is considered, one of the biggest Lopsided trades in baseball history. He was sent to the Chicago Cubs with two other players for Lou Brock & two other players.

Brock of course became a superstar in St. Louis, going into the Hall of Fame. That year he helped lead the Cardinals to a World Series title & another in 1967. He went on to break Maury Wills single season stolen base record in 1974 & became the all time base stealing champion, by the time of his retirement.

Broglio on the other hand, struggled in the small confines of Wrigley field. He went 4-7 with a 4.04 ERA in 1964 as the Cubbies finished in eighth place. Overall he was 7-19 with an ERA above six in three seasons in Chicago and was done pitching by 1966. The fans at Wrigley really let him have it and he never lived down the trade.

What no one except the Cardinals knew, was that he was suffering from arm troubles. Back in those days players weren’t checked out by doctors before a deal was completed.

Years later at an Old timers Day Game he & Brock were introduce to a full house crowd at Wrigley Field. Brock got a standing ovation & Broglio got booed while the crowd was still standing. He said “I have to be the only guy to get a standing booing ovation”.

He finished his eight year career at 77-74 with a 3.74 ERA, 849 strikeouts, 587 walks in 1337 innings pitched in 259 games.

Aug 23, 2013

2000 N.L. Champion Mets Pinch Hitter / Role Player: Matt Franco (1996-2000)

Matthew Neil Franco was born August 19, 1969 in Santa Monica, California. He is the cousin of actor Kurt Russell, and his uncle is actor, minor league player / owner Bing Russell.

Franco was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the seventh round of the 1987 draft. He spent eight years in the minor leagues, taking six years just to get to the AAA level. The six foot two left hand hitting Franco, came up briefly with the Chicago Cubs in September 1995 hitting .294 (5-17).

He was traded to the New York Mets at the start of the 1996 season for Chris Dewitt. He hit .321 at AAA Norfolk with 8 HRs & 81 RBIs, getting him a September call up.

He made his Mets debut on September 8th in Atlanta, playing third base going 0-4. He played at third base & was used as a pinch hitter that month batting only .194 (6-31). He would see action in over 100 games in five straight years while in a Mets uniform, becoming a favorite weapon of Bobby Valentine. Franco would excel in the role of pinch hitter for the Mets through the Bobby Valentine era.

On Opening Day of 1998 he got two at bats in the 14th inning 1-0 Mets win getting one hit against the Phillies. On May 3rd as the Mets went ahead of the Rockies 3-1 with two 9th inning runs, Franco then came up & doubled off Dave Veres, driving in two more runs leading to a 5-2 Mets win.

After gathering two pinch hit RBI doubles in the next two months, he had a game winner on July 23rd. Franco came to bat in the 9th inning of a 5-5 tie in Milwaukee's County Stadium as a pinch hitter. He singled off Chad Fox to put the Mets ahead of the Brewers 6-5, in what was the game winning run. 

A little more than a week later, on August 1st he hit a pinch hit HR in the bottom of the 9th inning off the L.A. Dodgers’ Jeff Shaw to tie the game; that the Mets would win later in the inning. Two weeks later he tied a game in Arizona, with a 7th inning pinch hit single off Bobby Chouinard, in another game the Mets would go on to win. In September he was 3-12 as a pinch hitter. He finished the year batting .276 with 5 HRs 5 doubles 21 RBIs & .330 on base %.

In 1999 Franco helped the Mets get to a wild card berth, by setting an MLB record with 20 pinch hit walks in a single season. On April 17th he got an outfield start & drove in two of the three Met runs with a 3rd inning double off the Montreal Expos Carl Pavano.

On May 25th he hit an 8th inning pinch hit HR against the Pittsburgh Pirates,in a 8-3 Mets victory. A week later on June 2nd in a home game against the Cincinnati Reds, he drove in two runs on a 7th inning pinch hit single bringing the Mets within one run. Unfortunately Armando Benitez would blow the game in the end losing 8-7.

Later in the month he hit a two run HR in Cincinnati while starting a game in the outfield. One of Franco’s biggest Met moments came in a July 1999 interleague Subway Series game at Shea Stadium. In the bottom of the 9th inning with two outs & two strikes Franco drilled a base hit off Mariano Rivera, scoring the tying & winning runs for the walk off 9-8 victory. In August he had more heroics; first in a game against the St Louis Cardinals he walked in the bottom of the 9th inning then scored the winning run on Edgardo Alfonzo’s walk off game winning base hit.

Two days later he kept the Mets on pace, a half a game out of first place, with a walk off pinch hit single at Shea Stadium in a game against the Houston Astros. Franco would finish the year with 15 pinch hits, batting well over .300 in that role.

 In the Mets wild card winning year, Franco hit .235 with 4 HRs 5 doubles 21 RBIs 28 walks & a .366 on base % in 132 at bats in 122 games played. The versatile Franco even pitched in two games, making his first appearance on the mound since the minor leagues. He posted an ERA of over thirteen but did strikeout two batters in 1.1 inning pitched.

Post Season: In the 1999 NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks he went 0-1 as a pinch hitter. In the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves he went 1 for 2. In Game #6 at Turner Field, Franco hit a pinch hit double leading off he 7th inning against John Smoltz. He would score on Rickey Henderson's double in the next at bat.

In 2000 Franco continued his pinch hit success driving in runs five different times as a pinch hitter. On April 24th he came to bat as a pinch hitter in the 9th inning, of a scoreless game at Shea Stadium against the Los Angeles Dodgers. With two men on he singled to left field, thrilling the Mets fans with a game winning walk off hit. He struggled early on not hitting over .100 until May 3rd. In May he went 3-10 as a pinch hitter, & by June 3rd was batting over .200.

On July 28th he gave the Mets the go ahead winning run over the Expos, with an 8th inning single off Montreal’s Steve Kline. He was sent down to AAA Norfolk after an injury in August returning for the pennant stretch in September. On September 6th he got a rare start & hit a first inning three run HR against the Reds at Cinergy Field. Five days later he hit another HR in another start against Milwaukee at Shea Stadium.

Overall he saw action 101 games batting .239 with two HRs four doubles 21 walks a .340 on base % & 14 RBIs. He went hitless in the 2000 post season going 0-4 as a pinch hitter.

After being granted free agency in December 2000 he went to play in Japan for the 2001 season. In November 2001 he signed with Atlanta Braves for the 2002 season. There he hit .317 in 81 games. He finished up his career in Atlanta in 2003 after playing in 112 games hitting .246 with 3 HRs & 15 RBIs.

In his eight year MLB career, Franco batted .267 life time with 261 hits 22 HRs 43 doubles 4 triples 117 RBIs & a .395 on base % , with 977 career at bats in 661 games.

Retirement: He went back to Japan playing for Bobby Valentine, on the Chiba Lotte Marines from 2004-2006. In 2007 his name was mentioned for steroid use in the Mitchell Report.

Aug 22, 2013

Former 1990's Mets Outfielder: Darrin Jackson (1993)

 Darrin Jay Jackson was born August 22, 1962 in Los Angeles, California. Jackson was a star outfielder at Culver City high school, was selected in the second round by the Chicago Cubs in 1981.

Early in his minor league career he was a good base stealer, swiping 58 bases in 1983. Injuries slowed him up as he got older, making it to the big leagues by 1985. He was back & forth to the minor leagues for most of his 12 year career.

From 1985-1992 Jackson played for the Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres & Toronto Blue Jays mostly as a reserve outfielder. He had his best years at San Diego in 1991; hitting 21 HRs with 12 doubles 49 RBIs while batting .262 playing in 122 games. The next year he had career highs in games (155) doubles (23) runs (72) triples (5) stolen base (14) & RBIs (70) playing as a regular.

He came to the New York Mets in June 1993 in a trade with Toronto for short stop Tony Fernandez. He missed six weeks of the season with hyperthyroidism, and never settled in New York.

In 31 games as a Met ht only hit .195 with one HR one double & 7 RBIs. At the end of the year he was not resigned and went to the Chicago White Sox. He went on to Minnesota, Milwaukee & back to Chicago finishing his 12 year career batting .257 with 676 hits 80 HRs 114 doubles & 317 RBIs in 810 games played.

"Hawk" Ken Harrelson & Jackson
Retirement: After his playing career, Jackson became a White Sox broadcaster in 2000. He worked alongside “the Hawk”, Ken Harrelson in the television booth until 2009 when he was moved into the Sox radio booth.

Former Hoboken N.J. Born Italian / American Catcher: Johnny Romano (1958-1967)

John Anthony Romano Jr. was born on August 23, 1934 in Hoboken, New Jersey. At a young age his uncle gave him the nickname of “honey” which would stick withhim. His father was a semi pro base ball player and taught Johnny to play the game. The five foot ten inch, two hundred pound catcher, got signed by the Chicago White Sox in 1954.

He then put up some impressive numbers in the minor leagues. Romano bashed 38 HRs while batting .351 at Waterloo in 1955 winning the MVP Award, getting promoted to the Pacific Coast League the next year. He soon set a minor league record by hitting HRs in seven straight games. In 1957 he played at AAA Indianapolis under Former New York Giants catcher Walker Cooper the teams manager. Cooper helped Romano work on his catching abilities. In 1958 he hit .291 with 25 HRs & 89 RBIs getting his big league call up.

He debuted in the big leagues in 1958 playing briefly with the White Sox for two seasons. There he learned even more about the art of catching from manager Al Lopez, one of the best catchers of his era. In 1959 Romano batted .294 with .407 on base % , five HRs & 25 RBIs in just 126 at bats (53 games) for the A.L. Champion (Go Go) Chicago White Sox. In the World Series he got one at bat going hitless. In December 1959 he was traded with Norm Cash and Bubba Phillips to the Cleveland Indians for Dick Brown, Don Ferrarese, Minnie Minoso and Jake Striker. It was in Cleveland he would have his best years.

In 1961 he made his first of two straight All Star appearances, batting .299 with 21 HRs 29 doubles a .39 on base % & 80 RBIs. That season he set a club mark for catchers with a 22 game hitting streak, later broken by Ray Fosse in 1970. He threw out 40% of would be base stealers over the next three seasons, averaging a .990 fielding percentage. In 1961 he was first in the league throwing out 31 base runners; he would come in second & third in that category over the next two years.

In 1962 he had career highs in HRs (25) RBIs (81) 7 triples (3) while batting .261. He was injured part of the next season and after a .242 batting averahe & 19 HR year in 1964 he was Traded in a three-team deal. Romano went back to the White Sox along with future Met Tommie Agee and Tommy John, other notables involved in the trade were Rocky Colavito & Cam Carreon, former Met Mark Carreon’s dad.

He spent two more seasons with the White Sox hitting over 15 HRs both times, and playing a solid defense behind the plate. In 1965 he led all catchers in assists with 61. He was traded to the St. Louis Cards in 1967 for Walt “no neck” Williams & Don Denis. He played in 24 games for the ’67 World Champion Cardinals behind Tim McCarver & Don Ricketts, but did not play in the World Series.

Retirement: Romano retired after the season, batting .255 lifetime with 706 hits 129 HRs 112 doubles & 417 RBIs. He posted a .990 fielding percentage throwing out 35% of would be base stealers.

After his playing days he sold swimming pools in New Jersey & worked for the offices of Bergen County, New Jersey. He retired in Naples, Florida and has taken up the hobby of flying model airplanes.

Aug 19, 2013

Original 1962 Mets Player: Cliff Cook (1962-1963)

Raymond Clifford Cook was born August 20, 1936 in Dallas, Texas. The six foot, right hand hitting Cook was signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 1955, scouted as a third baseman with power.

In the minor leagues he had three seasons of 30 plus HRs & 100 plus RBIs. He was brought up for a cup of coffee by the Reds in September 1959 going 8-21, good enough for a .381 average.

In 1960 he hit his first career HR but struggled batting just .208 after 54 games when he was sent back to AAA. In 1961 he was the American Association MVP belting 32 HRs with 119 RBIs while batting .311. He was called back up in September for four games with the ’61 NL Champion Reds.

In May of 1962 he was traded along with Bob Miller to the expansion New York Mets for Don Zimmer. 

He got his first start at third base on May 9th 1962, in Chicago, going 1-4 in the Mets 3-2 win. In his first home start at the Polo Grounds, he got two hits, including a triple and an RBI against Bob Shaw & the Milwaukee Braves. He would have six multiple hit games in his first month, but was barley hitting .200.

On June 9th he hit a HR at Wrigley Field & then drove in two runs two games later in the Mets , Cubs series finale. Cook played in 46 Mets games,seeing the majority of his playing time at third base. Cook made five errors in 41 chances at third (.878%) and was moved to the outfield for ten games. It was another third base experiment for the early Mets that failed, a dilemma that would go on for years.

Cook suffered from chronic back problems that kept sidelining him from steady action, and by mid July his season was over. On the year he had 117 at bats with two HRs six doubles & nine RBIs hitting for a .232 average.

In 1963 Cook returned to the Mets, as a utility player. On May 5th 1963, in the second game of a double header, Cook hit a two run HR against Billy Pierce & the San Francisco Giants at the Polo Grounds helping New York split the twin bill, 4-2. He would hit his fourth & final Mets HR later that month in San Francisco against the Giants as well.

On June 9th he drove in runs in both ends of a double header, in the second game as a pinch hitter. In July he was hitting just .142 when he was sent back down to AAA Buffalo to finish out the year.

Cook played in 50 games with the ’63 Mets, with two HRs a pair of doubles & eight RBIs. In 1964 at AAA Buffalo he hit only .224 & retired from baseball after the season.

After a five year career he batted .201 with 80 hits 7 HRs 17 doubles 35 RBIs & .254 on base %. He posted a .937 fielding percentage at third base making 14 errors in 86 career games. He also played 35 games in the outfield & five games at first base..

Retirement: After baseball he ran a sporting goods shop in Fort Worth, Texas.

Short Time Mets Pitcher: Lance Broadway (2009)

Lance Daniel Broadway was born August 20, 1983 in Bryan, Texas. The six foot four right hander attended Texas Christian University, where he was a star pitcher. He threw two no hitters, while winning the Triple Crown of pitching going 15-1, getting selected All Conference. Broadway also majored in communications.

In 2005 he was the Chicago White Sox number one draft choice, the 15th pick overall. In 2006 at AA Birmingham he struck out 111 batters in 25 games, getting labeled as having the best breaking ball in the league. Baseball America chose him as the fourth best prospect in the Sox organization.

Although he struggled in 2007 he got a September call up, debuting on September 7th, earning his first MLB strike out in 2/3 of a perfect innings work. His first decision came as a loss against the Cleveland Indians the following week. Back at AAA in 2008, he was ranked as the #2 Sox prospect, being ranked with the best curve & change in their system. He was now considered an even more desirable prospect.

With a last name like Broadway, he had to land in New York, and on May 30th 2009 he came to the New York Mets in a trade for catcher Ramon Castro. After starting out at AAA Buffalo he replaced Oliver Perez on the roster in late August.

He made his debut on August 29th, at Wrigley Field in Chicago pitching three innings, allowing two runs on four hits to the Cubs. He never pitched well in the final month of the dreadful ’09 season. Broadway would get pounded by the Florida Marlins at Citi Field with four runs over two innings of work.

He would have another bad outing vs. the Atlanta Braves on the September 21st. He would only pitch in eight games as a Met, earning no decisions while posting a 6.75 ERA in 14 innings of work. He was not tendered by the Mets after the season & signed a minor league with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Drama: On New Year’s Eve 2010, he was involved in a night club brawl in Dallas Texas, getting arrested for damaging a mans eye.

Aug 17, 2013

New York Mets First Base Coach: Tom Goodwin (2012-2013)

Thomas Jones Goodwin was born on July 27th, 1968 in Fresno, California. The six foot one, left hand hitting outfielder attended Cal State University at Fresno. There he played baseball, football & basketball. He was originally drafted as a 6th round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1986 but chose not to sign.

He was a member of the 1988 USA gold medal winning Olympic baseball team. He stole nine bases, & hit .250 scoring nine runs in the 12 games. In 1988 he was the Los Angeles Dodgers first round draft pick. He was a great base stealer, stealing 82 bases at the A ball & AA ball levels in 1990. In 1991 he stole 48 bases at AAA Albuquerque, getting a September call up to the Dodgers for 16 games.

Goodwin played three seasons with the Dodgers as a backup outfielder, never making it as a top player. In 1994 he was placed on waivers & got picked up by the Kansas City Royals. With the Royals he stole fifty or more bases for three straight seasons, coming in second in the league twice & third one time.

He would also lead the AL in sac hits two straight seasons while hitting over .280 both times as well. In those Royals season, he posted career highs in steals with 66 & caught stealing with 22 in 1996.

In 1997 he had career highs in doubles (26) & was traded to the Texas Rangers for Dean Palmer. He spent three years in Texas hitting .290 with six triples in 1998. In 2000 he signed with the Colorado Rockies putting up big numbers in Rocky Mountain air, 5 Hrs 8 triples & 47 RBIs in 91 games.

He was traded back to the Dodgers later that season for Todd Hollinsworth. Overall in 2000 he hit two grand slam HRs & had an inside the parker as well. He spent two more season with the Dodgers (200-2001) then moved on to the San Francisco Giants (2002). .

In 2003 he signed a two year deal with the Chicago Cubs. He only hit one HR as a Cub, it was a May 22nd game winner against Scott Sauerback of the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 3-2 win. In 2005 he played in the independant Atlantic League before retiring.

In a 14 year career he hit .268 with 1029 hits 369 stolen bases 125 doubles 39 triples 24 HRs 284 RBIs & a .332 on base %. He was a solid centerfielder posting a .991 fielding % making 22 errors in 2402 chances with 24 assists.

Retirement: In 2012 he was named the New York Mets first base coach under manager Terry Collins.
He holds the same position in 2013.

Former Italian / American Queens Born Brothers: Tony & Al Cuccinello

Anthony Francis 'Tony' Cuccinello was born on November 8, 1907 in Long Island City, Queens New York. He played baseball at Bryant High School in Queens getting a baseball contact with the Cincinnati Reds.

Tony hit over .300 three times in the minors getting to the big leagues by 1930. He hit .312 with 22 doubles & 10 HRs in his rookie year, making a big impression. He followed that up with another .300 season (.315) posting a .374 on base percentage, although his power numbers fell off. In 1932 he got traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers and was back home in New York.

He spent four seasons in Brooklyn getting to two All Star games, as the Dodgers main second baseman. In 1934 he had career highs in HRs (14) & RBIs (94) with 32 doubles.

On July 5th 1935 at the Polo Grounds both Cuccinello brothers (Tony & Al) hit HRs for their respective teams, becoming the first big league brothers to do so in a game while opposing each other. This feat has only been accomplished six times since.

Cuccinello moved on to the Boston Bees for four and a half seasons, moving on to the New York Giants for part of the 1940 season. He then went to the Boston Braves & Chicago White Sox. In his career Cuccinello batted over .300 five times, drove in over 80 runs four times, hit over 30 doubles five times, & posted on base percentages over .370 four times. These were all good numbers for second baseman of his time.

In 1945 at the age of 37 his last year of play, he batted .308 coming in second for the batting title. He had hit around .390 in the first three months of the season but wore down as the season went on. He went into the final day of the season having just enough at bats to qualify but his game was rained out. New York's Stuffy Stinweiss went 3-4 & beat out Cuccinello by the closest margin in baseball history. One of Stuffy's hits was first ruled an error & then changed by the official scorer.

The scorer ironically worked for the old Bronx Home News & later said he changed the ruling when he found out Cuccinello's game was rained out. Years later Stuffy was on an Indians team where Cuccinello was the coach, even he said the writer gave him the batting title.

Defensively he led the league in assists & double plays three times at second base. In his last season (1945) he batted .308 missing the batting title by one point, losing out to Snuffy Stirnweiss who went 3-3, as Cuccinello’s game was rained out. That year he made his third All Star team as well. He finished his 15 season career batting .280 with 1729 hits, 334 doubles, 94 HRs & 884 RBIs.

Retirement: After his playing days, he managed & coached in the minor leagues until 1949 when he became a coach for the Cincinnati Reds for three seasons. Then his old team mate Al Lopez now a big league manager, hired him as a coach. The two first worked together with the Cleveland Indians & then with the Chicago White Sox. He got to coach in two World Series; 1954 with the Indians losing to the New York Giants & then 1959 with the Go Go White Sox. He was on the losing end both times.

In Game #2 of the 1959 Series Cuccinello was coaching at third base & was involved at in a controversial play. The Sox had a runner on second & future Met Sherm Lollar on at first base. Al Smith doubled, the first run scored and Cuccinello waved home Lollar to attempt to score. He was thown out by a mile, the Dodgers wnt on to win the game & eventually the series. The Chicago press & fans blamed Cuccinello for the loss but his friend Al Lopez stood up for him, saying the odds were against the Dodgers making the play. He moved on to coach in Detroit in 1967 & in 1968 was part of the Tigers World Championship team.

Family: Tony is the brother of former New York Giants player Al Cuccinello & the uncle of Sam Mele who went on to manage the Minnesota Twins during their sixties hey days. Tony Cuccinello passed away in 1995 of congestive heart failure at the age of 85 in Tampa, Florida.

Alfred Edward Cuccinello was born on August 26, 1914 in Long Island City, Queens, New York. He is the brother of All Star Second baseman Tony Cuccinello who played four seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Tony also played with the Cincinnati Reds, Boston Braves, Chicago White Sox & half a season with the New York Giants (1940).

Al hit .320 during his first year of minor league ball & when he began the next season hitting over .300 again, he was called up to the Giants team. Al was one of three Giants second baseman in 1935, along with Mark Koeing who saw the most time & Hughie Critz. His first game at the Polo Grounds was at the end of May in a double header against his brother’s team, the rival Brooklyn Dodgers. Al hit a two run HR that day along with Mel Ott lifting the Giants to an 8-3 victory.

On July 5th back at the Polo Grounds both Cuccinello brothers hit HRs for their respective teams, becoming the first big league brothers to hit HRs in a game while opposing each other. This has only been done six more times since 1935. Al ended the year batting .248 with 4 HRs & 20 RBIs. Cuccinello booted the ball 13 times in the 48 games he played at second, but turned 26 double plays posting a .964 fielding percentage.

In 1936 he was back at AAA Rochester where he hit .310. He played in the minor leagues through the 1938 season, ending his baseball career. After five minor league seasons he batted .293 with 17 HRs playing in 479 games.

Retirement: After his playing days he became an MLB scout. He moved to Malvern, New York on Long Island. He passed away there at the age of 89 in 1993.

Aug 15, 2013

Former Italian American Player: New York Born Pitcher: Sal Campisi (1969-1971)

Salvatore John Campisi was born on August 11, 1942 in Brooklyn, New York. The right handed pitcher attended Most Holy Trinity high school & & Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus.

He was signed by the Cardinals in 1964. He won 10 or more games five different times in the minors, going 58-21 with a 2.69 ERA in his minor league career.

In 1969 he was 13-2 with a 1.99 ERA, at AAA Tulsa, and got a promotion to the big leagues, going 1-0 in seven games. In 1970 he saw action in 37 games, going 2-2 with 4saves posting a solid 2.92 ERA in 49 innings pitched.

In October 1970 he was Traded with Jim Kennedy to the Minnesota Twins for Herman Hill & a minor leaguer. He only saw action in six games and was done in the big leagues. His 1971 Topps baseball card is on the high number end giving him a value of around $6. Lifetime he was 3-2 with a 4 saves and a 2.70 ERA.

Aug 7, 2013

Former Mets Relief Pitcher: Brandon Lyon (2013)

Brandon James Lyon was born on August 10, 1979 in Salt Lake City Utah & is a Mormon. The six foot one right hander attended Dixie State College of Utah, getting drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 14th round of the 1999 draft.

Lyon made his MLB debut on August 4th, getting a start against the Baltimore Orioles. He went an impressive 7.1 innings allowing just one run taking a 2-1 victory over Sidney Ponson. Lyon pitched well enough to be 5-2 by late September, before losing his last two starts.

In 2002 he began the year in the Blue Jays rotation but by mid June he was 1-4 & his ERA was at 6.53. He was sent down to the minor leagues & was placed on waivers at season's end. He was picked up by the Boston Red Sox & from there on became a middle reliever.

In 2003 he was a big part of the Sox bullpen, making 49 appearances going 4-6, finishing up 31 games. He earned nine saves, second to closer Byung Hyun Kim's 16. Lyon did not pitch in the post season. At the end of November he was involved in a big trade that sent Curt Schilling to Boston, as he went to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Lyon missed all of 2004 with an injury, then saved 14 games in 2005 second to Jose Valverde (15) on the D-backs staff. In 2007 he went 6-4 with two saves & a 2.68 ERA out of the Arizona bullpen, making 73 appearances for the first place D-backs.

Post Season: He made three appearances, pitching three scoreless innings against the Chicago Cubs in the NLDS victory. In the NLCS he made two appearances as Arizona lost to the Colorado Rockies who made their first World Series.

Lyon returned in 2008 as the second place D-backs main closer, saving a career high 26 games going 3-5 with a 4.70 ERA. Lyon signed a one year deal with the Detroit Tigers as a set up man, going 6-5 with 15 holds & a 2.86 ERA. His year started out terrible, as he posted an ERA over eight in May but then went 1.56 the rest of the way. He then moved on to the Houston Astros where he saved twenty games in 2010 for the fourth place club that won 76 games.

Injuries nagged him & he lost the closing role. He stayed in Houston through July 2012, when he was involved in an eleven player deal. He was 4-0 at the time of the trade.

In 2013 he was signed by the New York Mets, and made the club out of Spring Training. He made his Mets debut on Opening Day, pitching to one batter in a 11-2 win over the San Diego Padres.

On April 6th, he earned his first Mets win, pitching a scoreless 8th inning against the Miami Marlins. On April 23rd, the Los Angeles Dodgers roughed him up for three runs in the 7th inning & he took the loss.

A week later in Miami, he blew a save opportunity & then threw a wild pitch to Greg Dobbs, as Juan Pierre scored the winning run. In the subway series on May 27th at Citi Field, he earned the win as a David Wright 7th inning HR & an 8th inning Daniel Murphy double got the Mets a 2-1 victory. In June he was credited with three holds & then blew another save (his third blown save) against the Washington Nats in the 8th inning.

On July 4th he made his last Mets appearance, in a 9-1 win over the Arizona D-backs. Lyon was released on July 9th after making 37 Mets appearances, going 2-2 with seven holds, three blown saves, 23 strike outs, 13 walks & a 4.98 ERA in 34 innings. He was signed by his old Red Sox team a week later.

In his 12 year career Lyon is 42-47 with 79 saves. He struck out 465 batters walking 220 in 681 innings making 572 appearances for six teams.

Aug 5, 2013

The Only MLB Player To Be Born In Vietnam: Danny Graves (2005)

Daniel Peter Graves was born on August 7, 1973 in Saigon, South Vietnam. His father was a United States serviceman serving in the Vietnam War, and his mother was a native Vietnamese citizen. After getting married & having young Danny, they moved to South Florida by early 1975. Danny Graves is the only MLB player to ever be born in Vietnam.

He grew up in South Florida & became a star pitcher at the University of Miami. In his sophomore year he made 59 appearances & earned a save in the College World Series. In his junior year he set a school record with 21 saves while posting a 0.89 ERA. The right hander was drafted in the fourth round of the 1994 draft by the Cleveland Indians. He pitched in the college World Series that year, then tore his ACL missing all of 1995. He recouped & became the Indians top prospect, being bred as a closer right from the minor league level.

He had two brief seasons in Cleveland (1996 & 1997) appearing in just 15 games each season going 2-0. On July 31st 1997 he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds along with Damian Jackson, Scott Winchester & Jim Crowell for John Smiley & Jeff Branson. It was in Cincinnati where he became a quality closer, finishing in the league’s top ten in saves five times (1994-2004).

In 1999 he had his first big year, making 75 appearances, with 27 saves (10th in the NL) going 8-7, as the Reds tied the New York Mets for the NL Wild Card. Graves made the 2000 All Star team going 10-5 on the year, with 2.56 ERA posting 30 saves (5th in the NL). He would save 32 games in each of the next two seasons as well, going 7-3 with 68 appearances & a 3.19 ERA in 2002.

Over the 2000 & 2001 seasons he only had six at bats, but made the most of them. He had two hits in those at bats, but both were HRs, including a two run shot in the 2001 season. In 2003 the Reds attempted to make him a starter but he was terrible, going 4-15 (the second most losses in the N.L) allowing 100 earned runs & 204 hits while posting a 5.33 ERA in 169 innings pitched.

In 2004 he returned to the bullpen and saved a career high 41 games, going 1-6 with a 3.95 ERA, making another All Star team. In 2005 he struggled and the Reds fans let him have it. He was frequently booed and during a game in late May he gave the crowd an obscene hand gesture as he was being removed from the game. That ended his career in Cincinatti, he was released later that week. In June he was given a shot by the New York Mets.

The Mets were hoping he had something left in the tank and a that a change of scenery would help. Graves debuted on June 14th in an inter league game at Oaklnad pitching one inning of scoreless relief. The next day he was shelled for three runs on four hits in a 9-6 Mets loss.

He never pitched more than two innings out of the Mets pen in any single game and had four terrible outings along the way. The A’s, Pittsburgh Pirates & Philadelphia Phillies all pounded him for at least two runs in his twenty appearances. Graves was credited with a hold on August 4th in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Shea Stadium.

In late August he had a terrible day when The Washington Nationals scored five runs off him (only one earned) in a 9-8 loss, where Roberto Hernandez took the losing decision. Graves was sent to AAA Buffalo where he went 0-2 before rejoining the Mets staff in September as the rosters expanded. He finished the year with a 5.25 ERA, pitching in twenty games, with 12 strike outs & 8 walks in 20.1 innings of work for the Mets. He played briefly in Cleveland in 2006 (13 games going 2-1) but didn’t make it back to the big leagues after that.

In an eleven year career, Graves had 182 saves going 43-44 with 429 strike outs, 271 walks & a 4.05 ERA in 518 appearances.

Retirement: In 2007 he was a meber of the Independant League Long Island Ducks where he led the league in saves.