Sep 30, 2014

Italian / American Father & Son MLB Players With New York Ties: Sal & Drew Butera

Salvatore Philip Butera was born September 25, 1952 in Richmond Hill, Queens. His parents had emigrated from Italy, settling in Brooklyn, New York at first, then moving over to Queens.

After Sal was born, the family moved to Long Island where Sal grew up playing ball in high school at Bohemia, NY. He attended Suffolk County Community College, getting signed by the Minnesota Twins in 1972.

The six foot right hand hitting catcher, would spend eight years in the Twins minors leagues. He didn’t hit for power & hit a best .278 in the minor leagues in 1977. In 1980 he made the Twins club out of Spring Training, starting out as the back up to Butch Wynegar.

In 1981 Butera saw most of the action behind the plate, appearing in 62 games for the Twin; hitting .240 with no HRs & 18 RBIs. He had a strong arm and nailed 54% of base runners attempting to steal, while posting a .970 fielding percentage. But lack of power & hitting made him Tim Launders back up the following season.

He was sent to the Detroit Tigers (1983) appearing in four games & then the Montreal Expos(1984-1985). In 1985 he became former Met catcher; Mike Fitzgerald’s back up in Montreal, seeing action in 67 games.

That season he hit his first career HR, it came at Wrigley Field off Cub pitcher Ray Fontenot. Overall he hit just .200 & struggled behind the plate throwing out just 17% of would be base stealers. That December he was Traded along with Bill Gullickson to the Cincinnati Reds for John Stuper, Jay Tibbs, Dann Bilardello & Andy McGaffigan.

He remained with the Reds until midway through 1987 when he was dealt back to Minnesota, just in time to win a World Series there. He backed up Tim Launder once again, who was struggling himself at the plate, batting .191 on the season. Butera hit .171 in 51 games with the Twins, improving his defense to throwing out almost 30% of base stealers.

Post Season: He got to catch a game in the ALCS, against the Detroit Tigers, playing in Game #3 & getting two hits.

In the World Series win over the St, Louis Cardinals, he went 0-1 as a pinch hitter. 

He attended a Twins Championship Team Anniversary years later; joining fellow Long Islander; Frank Violia & Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven among others.

Sal finished his nine year career in Toronto with the Blue Jays in 1988. Overall he played in 359 games, batting .227 with 182 hits, 8 HRs 24 doubles & 76 RBIs.

Retirement: In the early nineties he managed in the Astros organization, then returned to the Blue Jays as a bullpen coach in 1998. Since 2008 he has been a special assistant to the Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulous.


Sal Butera's son: 
Andrew Edward Butera, known as Drew, was born on August 9, 1983 in Evansville, Illinois. He was also a catcher getting drafted by the New York Mets in the third round of the 2005 draft.

He spent the 2005 season with the Brooklyn Cyclones batting .217, getting promoted to AA Binghamton the next season.

In 2007 he was traded along with minor leaguer Dustin Martin to the his Dad's old Twins team, for Luis Castillo. He didn’t hit much for average or power, but defensively; he threw out 45% of would be base stealers in his minor league career. 

 In 2010 he was promoted to the Twins big league club as Joey Mauer's backup catcher. At the big league level he still threw out over 40% of base stealers, but hit under .200.

By 2011 he was known for keeping the Twins pitching staff calm behind the plate, while calling a good game. He became Carl Pavano's private catcher & on May 3rd caught Francisco Liriano's no hitter.

He hit just .167 in 93 games , throwing out 31% of base runners trying to steal on him. In 2012 he played in 42 games throughout the season, but still could not hit over the .200 mark, finishing up at .198.

In 2013 he played for the Italian National Team, as their catcher in the World Baseball Classic. He spent most of his season at AAA Rochester, getting to the Twins for two brief games in July. Later that month he was traded to the L.A. Dodgers for a player to be named later. Since then he had mostly played at AAA Albuquerque for their Isotopes team. 

In 2014 he was the Dodgers reserve catcher behind main back stop; AJ Ellis. Through August he was batting .196 with 3 HRs & 13 RBIs.

In a four year career he hit .182 with 5 HRs 21 doubles & 41 RBIs in 186 games. In 183 games at catcher he tossed out 33% of would be base stealers.

Trivia: The Butera’s are the first father son combo to play for the Minnesota franchise.

Sep 28, 2014

Former Mets Relief Pitcher: Heath Bell (2004-2006)

Heath Justin Bell was Born September 29, 1977 in Oceanside, California. The tall right handed pitcher was signed by the New York Mets as an amateur free agent in 1998. Bell was a lifelong reliever saving over 20 games twice at the A ball level, then saving 16 games twice at the AAA level.

He was brought up first in August 2004, making his debut on August 24th pitching two innings at home against the San Diego Padres. On September 3rd he gave up HRs to Jason Michaels & Pat Burrell, taking a loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. In 17 appearances he was 0-2 with a 3.33 ERA.

In 2005 he remained with the club most of the season appearing in 42 games, getting credit for four holds. On May 11th he served up a walk off HR to Derek Bell at Wrigley Field in Chicago. He was soon 0-3 then won his only Mets decision on July 7th in Washington D.C. against the Nationals. On the year he was 1-3 with a 5.59 ERA.

In 2006 he began the year at AAA Norfolk & had 12 saves with 1.29 ERA, getting brought up to the Mets in May & again later in September. He was mostly used in mop up situations, in 22 games Bell posted no record with a 5.11 ERA in 37 innings of work.

In November of 2006, the Mets had come off an Eastern Divisional title & General Manager Omar Minaya began to make a few bad decisions. One of them was trading away Heath Bell, along with Royce Ring to the San Diego Padres for Ben Johnson & Jon Adkins.

Bell spent his first two seasons as the set up man for the Padres Trevor Hoffman. In 2007 he posted a 2.02 ERA with 34 holds, posting a 6-4 record in 81 games. In 2009 he took over as Hoffman's successor in San Diego as the teams closer. Bell became one of the National League's top closers & was outspoken about how the Mets had no patience in waiting for him to develop.

He came to the Opening Day of Citi Field in 2009 and after receiving a large round of boo’s during the introductions, closed out the game with a save for the Padres. Bell went on to win the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award, saving a league leading 42 games with a 6-4 record & a 2.71 ERA.

In 2010 he may have been even better, posting 47 saves with a 5-0 record and a 1.93 ERA for a first place NL Western Division Champion Padres team. From May 29th through May 3rd the following seasons he converted 41 consecutive saves tying a Padre record set by Trevor Hoffamn. In his next game, he was credited with a blown save when infielder Chase Headly made a throwing error leading to two runs & ruining a bid for the 42nd consecutive save.

That year Bell made the All Star team, came in 8th in the Cy Young voting & even received votes for the MVP Award. In 2011 he had 43 saves (4th in the NL) as the Padres dropped off to a last place finish.

In 2012 he signed on with the Miami Marlins ready to play in the new Marlins Stadium in South Florida. Bell was terrible in his Miami debut, by May he had already blown four saves with an ERA over ten.

In May he got back on track saving seven games going 2-0, but his ERA was still at 7.20.

By July he was reduced to being the set up man for Steve Cishek who woul save 15 games. Bell ended the year at 4-5 with a 5.09 ERA saving 19 games.

Drama: In September he had told a Florida Radio station "its been an interesting year with Ozzie, That's about all I have to say about it".

Manager Ozzie Guillen shuted back saying he had no respect for Bell as a person. Gillen had his own troubles all year in Florida from the start, most notable when he said he liked Fidel Castro, much to the dismay of many Cuban/Americans in South Florida.

Guillen also fought with other players & the teams owner. Bell said his comments were taken out of text & refused any further interviews with the media.

In October 2012, the Marlins parted ways with Bell. He was part of a three team trade that sent him to the Arizona D-backs. It was the same deal that sent Chris Young to Oakland.

In 2013 for Arizona, he led the team, with 15 saves, three ahead of Brad Ziegler. He went 5-2 with a 4.11 ERA, striking out 72 batters, walking 16 in 65 innings pitched, in 69 appearances.

In December of 2013, Bell was traded again, this time in another big three team deal involving The Tampa Rays & Cincinnati Reds. Bell landed in Tampa. After a terrible start he posted an ERA over seven & was released. 

He was signed & released by the Baltimore Orioles & the AL New York club as well. In his eleven year career he is 38-32 with 168 saves in 590 appearances. He struck out 637 batters & walked 214 in 628 innings.

Sep 27, 2014

Former Mets Relief Pitcher: Mike DeJean (2004-2005)

Michael Dwain DeJean was born on September 28, 1970 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The right handed Cajun boy was drafted out of the University of West Alabama in the 24th round in 1992 when he was still a shortstop. He was soon converted to a relief pitcher, and saved 16 or more games four times at various minor league levels.

He made the big leagues by 1997 debuting with the Colorado Rockies, going 5-0 with two saves & a 3.99 ERA in 55 appearances. He stayed in Colorado for four seasons, mostly as a mid reliever.

In April 2001 he was Traded along with Mark Leiter and Elvis Pena to the Milwaukee Brewers for Juan Acevedo, Kane Davis and Jose Flores. In Milwaukee he became a closer, saving 27 games with 1-5 record in 2002. He posted 18 saves in 2003 when he found himself traded to the St. Louis Cardinals toward the end of the season. From there he became a journey man middle reliever, going to the Baltimore Orioles where he was 0-5 before getting traded to the New York Mets in July 2004 for Karim Garcia.

Dejean made his Mets debut at Shea Stadium, on July 20th in a game against the Florida Marlins. He would pitch five scoreless innings, getting credit a hold in three appearances on that same home stand. He pitched well enough to post a 1.69 ERA with 24 strike outs in 21 innings pitched in 16 games with New York for the season.

In 2005 he earned an extra inning win, when Jose Reyes singled home Victor Diaz with the games winning run. In May he earned two more victories in a weeks time, pitching less than inning of work each outing.

On June 20th The Mets released him & he was picked up by the Rockies once again. Overall for the '05 Mets Dejean made 28 appearances going 3-1 with two holds, 17 strike outs in 25 innings pitched but had a high 6.21 ERA, allowing 36 hits & 18 earned runs. He finished his ten year career there that season, at age 35.

Lifetime he was 30-33 with 52 saves, 446 strike outs & 292 walks in 623 innings of work over 565 games pitched, posting a 4.30 ERA. Retirement: Mike runs his own baseball & softball academy in Monroe, Louisiana.

Original 1962 Mets Pitcher: Herb Moford (1962)

Herbert Moford was born on August 6th, 1928 in Brooksville Kentucky. The six foot one right-hander spent a total of 17 years in the minor leagues going 147-131 in 462 games pitched at that level. In 1954 he won 17 games (17-14) at AA Columbus and made his debut the next year with the St. Louis Cardinals.

He was 1-1 with a 7.88 ERA in 14 games through mid June when he was sent back down to the minors. He was 1-6 the rest of the year & was traded to the Detroit Tiger organization for Bob Thorpe. He returned to the majors in 1959 going 4-9 with a 3.61 ERA & was soon traded to the Boston Red Sox.

On April 16th 1959 he was shelled for two HRs & four earned runs in his Red Sox debut in a game against the Washington Senators. In his third & final outing of the season he was hit for five runs on five hits , again by the Senators. His ERA ballooned to 11.42 as he lost both decisions & was shipped back to the minors the rest of the year. He ended up in Baltimore Orioles organization until December 1961 when he was purchased by the expansion New York Mets.

Moford became a true original Met, pitching a scoreless 7th inning in the first game ever played in Mets history. He was the third Met pitcher to ever take the mound, following Roger Craig & Bob Moorhead. He also pitched in the first Mets home game, two days later allowing one run in two innings to the Pittsburgh Pirates, in the Polo Grounds.

 On April 17th, 1962 the Houston Colt 45's Don Buddin tagged him for a three run HR in extra innings to give him his only Mets decision, a loss. In seven appearances he was 0-1 with seven strike outs & six walks with a 7.20 ERA.

He pitched one more year in the minors before ending his brief four year career, He was 5-13 with a 5.03 ERA in 50 games, 78 strike outs & 64 walks in 157 innings.

Retirement: After baseball he became a tobacco farmer & cattle rancher in Minera Kentucky. Moford turned to politics, becoming the campaign manager for former team mate Jim Bunning, who once ran for the Governor of Kentucky. Bunning of course is best remembered for throwing a perfect game against the Mets on Father's Day 1964.

Moford passed away in December 2005 at age 77 in Cincinnati Ohio.

Sep 26, 2014

Former Mets Relief Pitcher: Jon Rauch (2012)

Jon Erich Rauch was born September 27th in Louisville, Kentucky. The big six foot eleven Rauch attended Morehead State University, the same school the great Football New York Giant Quarterback Phil Simms attended. He was originally signed by the Chicago White Sox in the third round of the 1999 draft.

In 2000 he pitched for the US Olympic Team at Sydney Australia. That same year he was voted the Sporting News Minor League Player of the year. In 2002 he made the White Sox out of Spring Training getting his MLB debut against the Seattle Mariners pitching the 7th inning in relief. On April 21st he was roughed up by the Detroit Tigers allowing eight runs in just four innings of work. He was sent down to the minors but returned in September. In eight games he allowed seven HRs that season.

He spent all of 2003 at AAA Charlotte, as well as most of 2004. That year he went 7-1 striking out 94 batters getting him back to the big leagues. He was traded to the Montreal Expos for Carl Everett and went 3-0 there with a 1.54 ERA. He moved with the franchise to Washington D.C. in 2004 and would get credit for the teams first win at Nationals Park in D.C. He would be a solid reliever in the Nationals bullpen for the next four seasons.

In 2007 he led the NL in games finished with 88, going 8-8 with a 3.61 ERA striking out 71 batters in 87 innings. In 2008 he was given the Nats closing job after Chad Codero went down with injury, saving 17 games while going 4-2 with a 2.98 ERA in 48 games. On August 28th he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Emilio Bonifacio. In Arizona he was terrible going 0-6 with a 6.56 ERA for the second place D-backs.

In 2009 he was traded to the Minnesota Twins where he reached his first post season. He went 5-1 with a 1.72 ERA in just 17 games for the Twins. He made three appearances in that post season pitching 1.1 innings of relief work.

In 2010 the Twins won another AL Central title, Rauch was the teams closer, after the departure of Joe Nathan. He saved 21 games, until Matt Capps arrived to take over the role. Rauch went 3-1 finishing up 41 games in 59 appearances. In January he signed on with the Toronto Blue Jays and went 5-4 with 11 saves in the 2011 season.

In 2012 he signed a deal with the New York Mets. The big tattooed guy debuted as a Met on Opening Day earning a hold in the Mets 1-0 win. After getting another hold, he earned his first win on April 9th against his old Washington team mates. In that game Daniel Murphy singled home the game winning run in the 9th inning. In the final week of the month he earned two more wins & found himself at 3-0 with two holds posting a 0.00 ERA on April 25th.

Things went sour in May as he blew two leads & took four losses on the month, seeing his ERA climb over four. In June he allowed three runs including a walk off game loser to Russel Martin in the subway series sweep across town on that Sunday night June 10th.

Later in the month the Mets blew a three run lead in the subway series at Citi Field, then in the 7th inning Rauch served up an Eric Chavez HR, in what turned out to be the game winning run. After a good first half the Mets floundered in the second half of the season. Rauch was credited with three holds in July as well as four more in August. That month he also earned a pair of saves, when he had to bail out Frank Francisco both times.

On August 12th, Francisco had a 6-1 lead in the 9th inning, but the Braves came back to score four runs before Rauch struck out Justin Heyward to end the game, with a 6-5 Mets win.

Rauch came back four days later in Cincinnati, earning another save after Francisco gave up three 9th inning runs to the Reds. He struck out Wilson Valdez to end the game with two runners on base. He earned one more save on September 22nd, coming against the Miami Marlins.

In 2012 for the Mets he was 3-7 with four saves & 16 holds, posting a 3.59 ERA in 73 appearances (second on the Mets staff). He had 42 strike outs with 12 walks & seven HRs served up in 57.2 innings.

Trivia: Keith Hernandez referred to Rauch as "The Wookiee" during SNY broadcasts in 2006. After having been informed by colleagues Ron Darling and Gary Cohen that he'd shaved off his somewhat unkempt hair, Hernandez began referring to him as "The Shaven Wookiee."

In 2013 he signed with the Miami Marlins, but went 1-2 with a 7.56 ERA in 15 games & was released. In June he was signed by the Baltimore Orioles & pitched for their AAA Norfolk Tides going 1-0 in ten games. In 2014 he was signed but released by the Kansas City Royals.

In his eleven year career, Rauch is 43-40 with 62 saves, 475 strike outs & 179 walks in 595 innings in 556 games with a 3.90 ERA.

Former Italian / American Player & New York Reataurant Owner: Jerry Casale (1959-1962)

Gennaro Joseph Casale was born on September 27th 1933 in Brooklyn, New York. The six foot, two right handed pitcher was signed as an amateur free agent by the Boston Red Sox in 1952.

In his first pro year he won 14 games (14-13) in the California League of the minor leagues. By 1954 he won 14 games again (14-8) at A ball Albany. 

From there he was projected to be a starter with the Red Sox for 1956, but he was then drafted into the US Military. He spent two years there making it back to the big leagues fo two games in 1958.

In 1959 Casale led the Sox fifth place staff with 13 wins (13-8) posting a 4.31 ERA. His three shut outs were fourth best in the AL & his .619 winning % was tenth best. More famously he hit three HRs on the season batting .169 with nine RBIs. His HR against Russ Kemmerer & the Washington Senators is forever famous in Red Sox lore.

Quotes: Jerry Casale: "I believe I hit the longest home run ever by a Boston player. I hit it over the center field wall over the screen, under the flag. The ball left the park. It was a three-run homer and it happened in my first big league start." 

That season was his most successful, he fell to 2-9 the next year & began bouncing back & forth to the minor leagues.  In 1961 he was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the expansion draft going 1-5 with a 6.26 ERA, before he was traded to the Detroit Tigers in June.

 In 1962 he pitched in just 18 games 91-2) before going back to AA Denver where he was 4-2.

In 1963 Casale was given a chance by the New York Mets, he pitched at AAA Buffalo going 1-1 in 18 games but never made it to the big leagues. After that he retired & went into the restaurant business.

In a five year MLB career he went 17-24 with one save recorded. He struck out 207 batters, walked 204 in 370 innings pitched in 96 appearances.

Retirement: Jerry Casale opened up an Italian Restaurant on 34th St. in Manhattan right off Park Avenue, called Pino's. The restaurant enjoyed success for many years before closing its doors in 2003. Pino's was a haven for Red Sox fans visiting or living in New York. Red Sox players also frequented the place, even Ted Williams who was a team mate of Casale.

An entire wall of the establishment, had a mural of Fenway Park with a young Casale slamming a HR over the Green Monster. Casale would play a recording of his famous HR quite often & would hand out replica's of his 1960 baseball card as a business card. That card was displayed in the window near the menu as well.

Casale had a bout with prostate cancer & since that time has joined forces in an annual softball (Bat For the Cure) game raising money for the cause. Today Jerry lives in Seacacus, New Jersey.

Sep 25, 2014

The Drama of Early Nineties Mets Outfielder: Vince Coleman (1991-1993)

Vincent Maurice Coleman was born on September 22, 1961 in Jacksonville, Florida. Coleman attended the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University setting stolen base records there as well as playing football.

He followed in the footsteps of his cousin Greg Coleman who was one of the first African American punters in the NFL. Greg Coleman is a member of the Florida A & M Hall of Fame, as well as being a member of the Minnesota Vikings 40th Anniversary team. He played for the Vikings from 1978- 1987, leading the NFC in punts in 1982. He is currently a sideline reporter for the Vikings in Minnesota.

Vince Coleman chose baseball instead of a football career, getting drafted by the St, Louis Cardinals in the tenth round of the 1982 draft. In the minor leagues he set a professional baseball record by stealing 145 bases with A ball Macon in 1983 depite missing a month of the season.

During his prime he was one of the fastest men in the league & baseballs best base stealer. He would lead the league in stolen bases in his first six years, breaking the Dodgers Maury Wills NL record of consecutive years leading the league. Strangely with all his stolen bases, Coleman was never a great hitter, although he batted .289 or better twice in his six years with the Cardinals.

In the outfield despite all his speed he was the team’s left fielder as opposed to being its centerfielder. He certainly scored a lot of runs but never drove in more than 43 & was criticized by his manager Whitey Herzog for lack of RBIs.

Coleman began his career winning the 1985 Rookie of the Year Award, leading the NL in stolen bases (110) while batting just .267 with one HR 20 doubles 10 triples (4th in the NL) & 107 runs scored (5th in the NL). In left field he posted a .982 fielding % (2nd among left fielders) & made 16 assists (also second in the NL).

Coleman killed the Mets in fourteen games on the season he stole seven bases & gather up twenty hits as the Cardinals beat out the Mets for the Eastern Division crown. The Mets & Cards would battle for the divisional crown for the next four seasons stirring up a bitter rivalry.

In the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers Ccoleman played in three games going 4-14 (.286) with an RBI a stolen base & two runs scored.

Prior to Game #4 Coleman was injured as the mechanical tarp was being out on the field as a light rain began to fall. Coleman was unaware of the tarp being rolled out & had his leg get caught underneath it. He chipped a bone & missed the rest of the post season.

The Cards routed the Dodgers 12-2 that night & advanced to the World Series losing to the Kansas City Royals in seven games. Coleman’s replacement Tito Landrum went on to hit .378 during the rest of the post season after taking over left field.

Controversy: Coleman offended many fans in 1985 when he was asked about Jackie Robinson, saying “ I don’t know nothing about him, why are you asking me about Jackie Robinson?” Jackie’s widow Rachel Robinson, responded by saying, "I hope somehow he'll learn and be embarrassed by his own ignorance."

Coleman stole over 100 bases three straight years, also leading the league in caught stealing each year. He became known as Vincent Van Go running ramped on the fake turf at Busch Stadium.

In the Cardinals 1987 pennant season he stole 109 bases hitting .289 with 14 doubles 10 triples 70 walks posting career highs in hits (180) runs scored (121) & on base % (.363 on base). He struck out 126 times as well. In left field he made nine errors (third in the NL) while the previous season he had led the league with nine errors as well.

In the 1987 NLCS he got a hit & an RBI in the Series opener in St. Louis against the San Francisco Giants. In Game #3 at San Francisco his 7th inning single off the Giants Don Robinson drove in the tying & go ahead runs in what would be the Cards 6-5 win.

Coleman finished the series with seven hits in 26 at bats & four RBIs. He only hit .143 in the World Series loss to the Minnesota Twins striking out ten times, although he did manage to steal six bases & drive in a pair of runs while scoring three other runs. Coleman remained in St. Louis for three more season, hitting a career best .292 in 1990.

On December 5th 1990 Coleman went from earning 1.0 million dollars to signing a 3.1 million dollar deal with the New York Mets. Unfortunately his career went downhill before the ink was dry, between injuries, poor play & lots of embarrassing drama.

On Opening Day 1991 Coleman was batting leadoff in a lineup that included his former 1980’s Cardinal teammate Tommy Herr at second base. Also it was the return of Hubbie Brooks who was batting cleanup, & Charlie O’ Brien catching behind the plate. Coleman led off his Mets career with a double & scored the first run of the new '91 season. On April 11th he doubled home two runs & drew two walks in a 6-3 Mets win over the Montreal Expos. From April 10th through the 15th he drew eleven walks.

On April 26th he stole three bases in Mets 2-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. He closed out the month only batting .219 but increased his average up to .275 by June 1st.In mid June he went down with his first injry of the year , missing over a month of action. Coleman did steal 37 bases on the year but had his season shut down in early August & would only play in 72 games all season. He batted just .255 with one HR 5 triples 7 doubles 45 runs scored & 17 RBIs.

In 1992 Coleman only played in seven games over the first two months of the season. He was part of Jeff Torborg's 5th place Mets labeled the worst team money could buy. When he returned to the lineup he had a good June raising his average up to .316.

From there he missed most of the month of July & went he returned in August he slumped off to finish with a .275 average playing in just 71 games. That season he stole 24 bases with just 14 extra base hits & 37 runs scored.

Drama: During the 1992 & 1993 seasons, Coleman became involved in two very ugly incidents which ruined his reputation & his career as a Met. Early in the year, he along with Dwight Gooden & Daryl Boston was accused of a sexual assault charge in the state of Florida, although prosecutors never perused the charges. In April of 1993 he injured Dwight Gooden’s arm by carelessly swinging a golf club in the clubhouse.

Then in one of his worst escapades, he threw a lit fire cracker out of Dodger outfielder Eric Davis’ car window into a crowd of fans waiting for autographs outside of Dodger Stadium. The firecracker injured a woman & two children including a two year old girl. The Mets took action, suspending Coleman for the rest of the season.

For 1993 playing in 92 games he stole 38 stolen bases (9th in the NL) while posting a .316 on base %. Coleman hit .279 with 14 doubles 8 triples 2 HRs 64 runs scored & 25 RBIs.

In the off season was traded to the Kansas City Royals for the return of Kevin McReynolds toward the end of his career.

Coleman hit .240 with the 1994 Royals & was traded away to the Seattle Mariners in August 1995. Coleman finished his career playing in 33 games with Cincinnati in 1996 & six games with Detroit in 1997.

In his 13 year career, Coleman stole 752 bases which is sixth on the all time list.

He batted .264 with 1425 hits, 176 doubles 89 triples (215th all time) 28 HRs 849 runs scored & 346 RBIs with a .324 on base %.

In the outfield he played 1311 games making 68 errors with 109 assists & a .974 fielding %.

Sep 24, 2014

Former Italian / American Player: Geno Petralli (1982-1993)

Eugene James Petralli was born September 25, 1959 in Sacramento, California. He is the son of former minor league player; Gene Petralli. 

Geno was drafted in the third round of the 1978 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays as a catcher. He made his debut in 1982 but only saw very limited action until the Indians purchased his contract in 1985. T

hey released him & he signed with the Texas Rangers as a free agent. He played a s a back up catcher to Don Slaught as well as seeing some time at third base & DH. In 1987 he was the teams main backstop getting into 101 games, batting .302 with 7 HRs 11 doubles & 31RBIs.

In 1987 he set a record with 35 passed balls on the season, while catching behind the plate. He broke former Met J.C. Martin’s record of 33 set with the White Sox in 1965. Martin’s passed balls were due, in part, to catching knuckleball pitchers Hoyt Wilhelm and Eddie Fisher. 

Petralli had one nightmare of a game where he had six passed balls in one game a few weeks after setting a record with four passed balls in a single inning. His biggest problem of that day & the season was that he was the personal catcher for knuckleball pitcher Charlie Hough. He would lead the league in passed balls three times (1987, 1988 & 1990).

In 1988 he hit .282 with 7 HRs & 36 RBIs in 136 games played. He was the Rangers Player of the Month in August batting .342 in 25 games. 

After missing a lot of action in 1989 he returned to having his last full time season in 1990, before 19 year old Ivan Pudge Rodriguez took over catching duties. One of his biggest highlights was catching Nolan Ryans 300th victory during the 1990 season.

Petralli remained with Texas until 1993 when he retired after 12 seasons, batting a career .267 with 24 HRs 83 doubles & 192 RBIs.

His last game was a near sell out since it was the next to last game played at Arlington Stadium before the Rangers moved into the new Ballpark at Arlington in 1994.

He has two sons one, James is the singer & guitar player in the Texas rock band White Denim. The other son Ben, is also a switch hitting catcher like dad, playing in the Detroit Tigers organization.

Sep 20, 2014

Father & Son Italian/ American MLB Players: Ed Spiezio (1964-1972) & Scott Spiezio (1996-2007)

Edward Wayne Spiezio was born on Halloween October 31st, 1941 in Joliet, Illinois. The five foot eleven infielder was signed out of college in 1963 by the St. Louis Cardinals. 

He made the team the next year during their 1964 Championship season playing in 12 brief games batting .333. Spezio played five seasons in St. Louis, mostly as a backup third baseman to Mike Shannon getting to three World Series. He hit .210 with three HRs & ten RBIs playing in 55 games in the Cards 1967 Championship season.

Post Season: He went 0-1 in the 1967 World Series against the Boston Red Sox. In the 1968 Fall Classic against the Detroit Tigers he got a hit in Game #5 off Mickey Lolich in the 5-3 Tiger win. In the off season he was traded to the expansion San Diego Padres with three other players for pitcher Dave Giusti.

Trivia: On April 8th 1969, Spezio made Padres history, getting the teams first hit & hitting the franchise’s first ever HR off pitcher Houston Astros pitcher Don Wilson.

He was the teams main third baseman their first two seasons, having his best year in 1970 batting .285 with 12 HRs & 42 RBIs. In 1971 he posted the second best fielding percentage of all NL third baseman (.962) although he saw less playing time (97 games). In 1972 he ended his playing career with the Chicago White Sox batting .238 in 74 games behind slugger Bill Melton.

In a nine year career he hit .238 with 367 hits 39 HRs 56 doubles 174 RBIs & a .303 on base %. 

Trivia: When his son Scott became a member of the St. Louis Cards in 2006, they were the third father & son combo to play for the St. Louis franchise. Both father & son Spezio have been on two World Series winning teams.

Scott Edward Spiezio was born September 21, 1972 in Joliet, Illinois. He was drafted in the 6th round in 1993 by the Oakland Athletics. He came up with the A’s in 1996 and was their main second baseman for 1997 & 1998. 

He was a fine defensive player leading the league in fielding percentage at second base with Oakland in 1997 (.990). He hit 14 HRs with 65 RBIs but only batted .243 in 1997. The versatile Spezio also played DH, first base, & third base.

For the 2000 season he signed on with the Anaheim Angels, and enjoyed the most success of his career. He hit a career high 17 HRs his first season, and became the clubs main first baseman for the next three seasons.

In the Angels 2002 Championship season he led all AL first baseman in fielding percentage for the first of two straight seasons. He also hit a career high .285 with 12 HRs 34 doubles & 82 RBIs.

Post Season: He had a big post season, starting out batting .400 with a HR & 6 RBIs in the NLDS. In the ALCS he hit a HR with 3 hits & three RBIs in Game #5 as the Angels rolled to a 13-5 victory on their way to their first World Series. Overall he batted .353 in the ALCS with a HR & 5 RBIs.

In the World Series he drove in 8 runs, having a big Game #3 with 2 hits & 3 RBIs. In Game #6 with the Angels trailing the Giants 5-0 down three games to two in the Series, Spezio blasted a three run HR off Felix Rodriguez bringing his team back in the game. The Angels rallied & went on to win the Series in seven games.

Spezio had a good 2003 season, hitting 16 HRs with career highs in doubles (36) & RBIs (83). The next year he signed on with the Mariners as a free agent but had the worst years of his career in Seattle. He only hit .215 in 2004 then .064 playing in only 29 games the next year before getting released.

In 2006 the Cardinals gave him a chance with a minor league deal a chance and he had a good spring making the team. He played as a reserve player getting into 119 games at third base, first base outfield, pinch hitting batting .272 with 13 HRs & 52 RBIs.

Post Season: In the NLCS he killed the Mets getting a two run triple off Guillermo Mota in the 7th inning of Game #2 tying the game, the Cards went on to win. Overall he drove in five runs in the Series and went on to win another World Series. 

 Spezio famously dyed the facial hair under his lip, Cardinal red during the series getting national attention on TV.

In 2007 he played his 7th position as a player when he took to the mound & pitched an inning against his old Oakland team mates.

In August he had a physical breakdown in a game against the San Diego Padres. He was sweating, irritable & had an elevated heart rate. Instead of getting medical treatment he left the ballpark, and a few days later entered treatment for substance abuse.

Drama: Six months later a warrant was issued for his arrest in Orange County California for for driving under influence, hit and run, aggravated assault and battery. 

He pleaded guilty to drunk driving & hit & run and was sentenced to 80 hours of community service. He went to AA & a three month alcohol treatment program.

Retirement: Since then he has played in two different Independent Leagues, spending 2010 with the Newark Bears. In his 12 year MLB career he batted .255 with 119 HRs 225 doubles & 549 RBIs. In two post seasons he hit .284 in 26 games, with 3 HRs 25 RBIs & World Championships.

Spezio is the front man for the heavy metal group Sand Frog. He plays guitar, sings & growls in California based Metal band.