Oct 29, 2014

Late 2000's Mets Pitcher: Darren O'Day (2008)

Darren Christopher O'Day was born on October 22nd 1982 in Jacksonville, Florida. The six foot four right handed, side armed pitcher attended the University of Florida where he was a top pitcher.

In 2006 he was signed by the Anaheim Angels as an amateur free agent. In 2007 he shot through all levels of A ball saving a total of 21 games going 7-4 with a 2.53 ERA. The Angels were impressed and he made the 2008 club out of Spring Training as a reliever. He appeared in thirty games going 0-1 with a 4.47 ERA. In 2008 he was a Rule V draft selection of the New York Mets.

O'Day began the year with the Mets making his debut in Cincinnati in the third game of the season relieving Oliver Perez after an eight run outing. O'Day would only pitch in four games with the Mets, three innings of work overall. On April 11th he allowed two runs on three hits to the Marlins in Florida pitching just 1.1 innings. On April 22nd he was placed on waivers & was picked by the Texas Rangers.

O'Day arrived with the Rangers during a game in Toronto against the Blue Jays. That night he was needed to pitch in relief but a uniform with his name had not been completed yet.

With nothing else to do, he borrowed team mate Kason Gabbard's #30 and went on to pitch. Eventually his uniform with O'Day #56 was ready the next day. He went to have a good year in Texas going 2-1 with 21 holds posting a 1.94 ERA in 64 appearances.

He remained with the Rangers for through 2011 getting to two World Series with them. In 2010 he led the staff with 72 appearances going 6-2 with 21 holds & a 2.03 ERA. In the ALCS he appeared in three games taking a loss in Game #1. In 2011 he only pitched in 16 games and was injured missing the rest of the year. He was placed on waivers in November & picked up by the Baltimore Orioles.

In 2012 he was back as a solid middle reliever going 7-1 with 15 holds & a 2.28 ERA making 69 appearances for a surprising Oriole team that won an AL Wild Card spot.

Post Season: He pitched two scoreless innings of the AL Wild Card game, as the Orioles beat the reigning AL Champion Texas Rangers. O'Day made four appearances in the ALDS pitching five scoreless, hit less innings.

In 2013 he returned with the Orioles going 5-3 with a pair of saves posting a 2.18 ERA with 20 holds.

For the 2014 AL East Champion Orioles the side arm thrower, was second in the O's bullpen to Zach Britton in ERA (1.70) & appearances (68). He finished 14 games going 5-2, which posted the staff's second best win % (7.14%).

Post season: In the 2014 ALDS against the Detroit Tigers, O'Day gave up one run in his only appearance, coming in the Game #1 Orioles win. In the ALCS he made three appearances, taking two of the series losing decisions to the Kansas City Royals.

In Game #1 he gave up a lead off 10th inning HR to Alex Gordon breaking the 5-5 tie. He then walked Salvatore Perez who turned out to be the winning run when Mike Moustakas hit a two run HR off Brian Matusz, later in the inning. 

In Game #2 he gave up a lead off walk in the 9th inning of a 4-4 tie. He was relieved by Zach Britton who gave up two runs including Infante which turned out to be the winning run. O'Day was charged with the loss.

In a seven year career he is 25-11 with eight saves, 349 strike outs & 97 walks in 378 innings pitched in 391 appearances.

Family: O'Day has been married to FOX News reporter; Elizabeth Prann since 2010. For FOX Prann is based in the Washington D.C. area & also is a rotating anchor for the America's News on Saturday afternoons. 

Elizabeth graduated from the University of Florida & began her career working locally in Florida. In 2006, she began as a production assistant for the show; On the Record With Greta Van Susteren. She helped launch Gretawire.com & became a FOX TV correspondent in 2010.

Oct 28, 2014

Former Bronx Born New York Giants Prospect Turned Manager: Charlie Fox (1942)

Charlie Francis Fox was born on October 7th, 1921 in the Bronx, New York. Fox earned the nickname Irish and as a boy sold newspapers in the shadows of the Polo Grounds. He later attended high school at James Monroe High School in the Bronx. This was the same high scholl long time Met Ed Kranepool would also attend.

As a young ball player he dreamed of playing for the team he rooted for the New York Giants. Fox got his chance, getting signed by the New York Giants in 1942 & making it right to the big league club. He got to play in three career games going 3-7 giving him a lifetime .429 batting average. From there he went off to serve in the Navy in World War II for the next three years, where he was involved in some very dangerous assignments.

Fox returned to baseball but would never play in the big leagues again. He spent 12 seasons in the minor leagues, mostly playing catcher & batting a career high .271. In those years he coached & managed in the Giants minor leagues. As the Giants moved to the West Coast, Fox became a scout for them from 1957 through 1963. He then managed & coached again in the Giants minor leagues through 1970.

In May of 1970 Fox took over as manager of the Giants big league club, replacing Clyde King. That season the Giants finished third behind the NL Champion Reds & the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 1971 he won the Manager of the Year Award, in what became known in San Francisco as "The Year of the Fox".

That season he led the Giants to a first place finish & a 90 win season. That year the Giants were loaded with four future Hall of Famers; Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Gaylord Perry & Juan Marichal.

In the NLCS they lost to the eventual world champion Pittsburgh Pirates. Fox would manage the Giants into 1974 when he was replaced by Wes Westrum. Overall he would be associated with the Giants for over thirty years. Fox would move on to the Montreal Expos organization where he would serve as a manager briefly in 1976.

He then was named the team's General Manager through 1978, getting credit for selecting players like Bill Gullickson, Charlie Lea, Scott Sanderson & Tim Raines. He also maneuvered trades that brough Tony Perez, Will McEnaney, Chris Spier & Stan Bahnsen to Montreal.

Fox would again get a chance to mange, briefly in 1983 with the Chicago Cubs. In his final years in baseball he served as a scout with the Houston Astros until 1993.

Passing: Fox died of pneumonia at age 82 in Stanford, California in 2004.

Former Mets Prospect Who Went On To A Fine Career: Jim Bibby (1965-1971)

James Blair Bibby was born on October 29th, 1944 in Franklinton, North Carolina. The six five, right handed pitcher was signed by the New York Mets in 1965.

Bibby began his career pitching for the Marion Mets in the Rookie League in 1965, going 2-3 giving up 30 earned runs in 24 innings. He then went off to serve in the military for two years during Vietnam, where he saw actual combat action. When he returned he was assigned to A ball Raleigh Durham in the Carolina League going 7-7.

In 1969 as the Amazing Mets were winning the World Series, Bibby started out by going 10-6 at AA Memphis getting promoted to AAA Tidewater. He went 4-4 with the '69 Tides posting a 3.48, on a team that featured 14 game winner; Jon Matlack & 11 game winner; Danny Frisella.

 In 1970 he missed the entire season with an injury & returned to have a top year in 1971. In 1971 at AAA Tidewater Bibby led the club in wins (15-6) strike outs (150) innings (176) & starts (26). He was the top pitcher on a staff that included Buzz Capra (13-3) Jon Matlack (11-7) Don Rose (11-10) & Rich Folkers (7-11) all of whom would have major league success.

At the end of the 1971 season, Bibby was traded along with Folkers, Art Shamsky & Charlie Hudson to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Harry Parker, Jim Beauchamp, Chuck Taylor & Chip Coulter. The deal did help the 1973 Mets, as Parker did a fine job out of the bullpen & Beauchamp was a solid pinch hitter. But Bibby did go on to have a long career in the major leagues & had much success.

Bibby made his big league debut with the Cards in 1972 & in June of the 1973 season, was traded to the Texas Rangers for Johnny Wockenfuss & Mike Nagy.

On July 30th, he threw a no hitter in Oakland, shutting out the World Champion A's while striking out 13 batters & walking six. Bibby would have seven double digit strike out games that season, including a 15 K performance on August 30th against the Minnesota Twins. He ended up going 9-10 that season with 153 strike outs, posting the seond best strike outs per nine inning ratio at 7.7. He allowed just six hits per nine innings which was best in the AL.

In 1974 Bibby won 19 games (10th in the AL) tied with three other 19 game winners. That season the A.L. proudly showcased ten twenty game winners. Bibby was second, on the second place Rangers staff to Hall of Famer; Fergie Jenkins, who led the league with 25 wins (tied with Catfish Hunter).

Bibby also lost 19 games (4th in the AL) while walking 113 batters 3rd most in the AL) , throwing 11 wild pitches (6th most) & serving up 25 HRs (8th in the AL). Over the next few years he was used both as a starter & reliever, getting traded to the Cleveland Indians (with Rick Waits & Jackie Brown) in 1975 for Gaylord Perry.

There he went 13-7 for the 4th place Indians in 1976 behind Pat Dobson & a young Dennis Eckersley. After spending three seasons in Cleveland (1975-1977) he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a free agent in 1977.

In 1979 he was 12-4 with the league's best winning percentage (.750%) for the World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates. He posted a career best (up to that pint) 2.81 ERA , striking out 103 batters in 110 innings.

Post Season: In the NLCS against the Cincinnati Reds, he got the start in Game #3 against Frank Pastore. Bibby allowed just one run on four hits in seven innings. The Pirates used six pitchers that day, winning the game on a Dave Parker base hit to score Omar Moreno in the 10th inning.

In the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles, he started Game #4 pitching into the 7th inning, allowing three runs (two earned) striking out seven in the 9-6 loss. He then started the final Game #7, against Scott McGregor, but was relieved after four innings when he gave up just one run.

He returned in 1980 to win 19 games once again (3rd most in the NL) while posting the league's best win percentage for the second time. In the strike shortened 1981 season, he was 6-3 but then needed surgery after suffering a torn rotator cuff. He missed all of the 1982 season, returning to go 5-13 in 1983. He signed with the Rangers again in 1984 ending his playing career there.

In a 12 year career Bibby was 111-101 with 1079 strike outs & 723 walks in 1722 innings of work over 340 games posting a 3.76 ERA.

Retirement: He earned himself a bachelor's degree in health & phys ed. from Lynchburg College in 1980. Bibby pitched for the Senior Professional Association in Florida in 1990.

After his pitching days, he coached at Lynchburg for the Mets & then Red Sox from 1985-2000. There he is a legendary coach, having his #26 retired by the Hillcats.

In 2010 he passed away at age 65 due to bone cancer.

Family: His brother (Henry) & nephew (Mike) both played in the NBA.

Oct 27, 2014

Former Brooklyn Born Italian / American Player: Mike Fiore (1968-1972)

Michael Gary Joseph Fiore was born October 11th, 1944 in Brooklyn, New York. The six foot left handed hitter, played first base & outfield. Like so many Brooklyn born baseball players, Fiore attended Lafayette High School in the Bath Gate section.

The school has produced John Franco, Sandy Koufax, Pete Falcone, Ken & Bob Aspromonte, Al Ferrara, Luis Lopez & Kevin Baez.

Fiore was signed by the New York Mets in 1963, just the teams second year in existence. The new ball club was hungry for some home grown talent, and looking for another local kid like Eddie Kranepool.

But in 1963 he was drafted away by the Baltimore Orioles & spent six years in their minor league system. In 1968 he hit 19 HRs & batted .271 but wasn't going anywhere in the talented Orioles system. He played in six games at the MLB level, going 1-17 before getting drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 1968 expansion draft as the 17th pick.

He was the fourth place, Royals main first baseman in the club's inaugural season. Fiore hit the franchise's first ever HR, coming in the teams fifth game. It came in the 2nd inning off the A's Blue Moon Odom at Oakland. At the end of May he drove in runs in four straight games and had a big week with RBIs in eight of ten games.

That year Fiore led the team in walks (84) & on base % (.420%). He batted .274, second on the club to the AL Rookie of the Year; Lou Pinella. Fiore hit 12 HRs (third on the club to Ed Kirkpatrick & Bob Oliver) with 14 doubles & 35 RBIs. At first base he committed ten errors (third in the AL) making 94 assists (4th in the AL) with a .988 fielding %. Bob Oliver would take over at first base the next season & the outfield was filled with exciting young players like Pinella, Pat Kelly & Amos Otis acquired from the New York Mets.

The next year he struggled batting just .181 in May & was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Tommy Matchick. He became a reserve player batting under .200 the next two seasons. He would go to the St. Louis Cardinals & San Diego Padres in 1972 ending his once promising MLB career at age 28. He played in the minors through 1978 at AAA Columbus.

In five seasons he batted .227 with 13 HRs 18 doubles 50 RBIs & a .369 on base % in 254 games.

Oct 26, 2014

Ground Breaking Early Sixties Mets Infielder: Sammy Drake (1962)

Samuel Harrison Drake was born October 7, 1934 in Little Rock Arkansas.

The speedy five foot eleven infielder attended Phlander Smith College at Little Rock. He began his pro career in the Negro Leagues playing with the legendary Kansas City Monarchs. Drake was a team mate of Hall of Famer Ernie Banks under manager Buck O'Neil.

Drake seems to have been forgotten throughout the annals of time, but he did make a few ground breaking feats in his career.

In 1955 he made history when he & his teammate Ernest Johnson, were the first two black players to play for the AA Macon Peaches. Next, Sammy & his brother Solly Drake became the first African American bothers to play in the major leagues during the 20th century.

Solly Drake would play for the Chicago Cubs (1956) Los Angeles Dodgers (1959) & Philadelphia Phillies (1959) in the late fifties batting .232 lifetime in 141 career games. Sammy Drake hit .318 in the Chicago Cubs organization in 1960 & got a cup of coffee with the big league club for 15 games that September.

He was used primarily as a pinch hitter going 1-15. In 1961 he hit .307 at AAA Houston getting another brief September call up going 0-5. As an infielder, there wasn’t much room for Drake on a Cubs infield that had Ernie Banks at short, Ron Santo at third & Don Zimmer at second base.

He was chosen by the New York Mets in the 1961 expansion draft as the 24th pick. He played at AAA Syracuse & Columbus before being brought up to the expansion '62 Mets in early August 1962.

Drake debuted as a Met on August 1st going 0-1 as a pinch hitter in a 11-9 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. He was used as a pinch hitter most of the month, getting his first Mets hit in his fourth career game.

It was an RBI base hit against Don Drysdale & the Dodgers at Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium. By September he was seeing more steady playing time at second & third base through the rest of the season.

His big day in the sun came in a Polo Grounds double Header against the Houston Colt 45’s on September 18th. Although the Mets lost both games, Drake had a hit and an RBI in the first game, and then went 2-5 with three RBIs in the night cap. He only hit .192 with ten hits, no extra base hits & seven RBIs in 25 games that season & never made the major leagues again.

He spent the next three seasons at the AAA level, leaving baseball at age 31. Overall he hit .153 with 11 hits, seven RBIs & a .238 on base % in 53 major league games. In 782 minor league games he batted .273 in a career lasting over ten years.

Retirement: In 2008 Drake said his best asset was his speed. "God had blessed me with so much speed, "I ran the 100-yard dash in 9.7 seconds. It's on my baseball card." 

After baseball, he served as a Sunday school teacher in his older brother Solly Drake's Baptist Church. He passed away in January 2010 at the age of 75 in Los Angeles, California.

Remembering Cream's Jack Bruce (1943-2014)

One of my favorite bands growing up was Cream, I am still amazed at how three guys could play such powerful music. Each one a master a their instrument, long live Cream & Jack Bruce............

John Symon 
Asher Bruce was born on May 14th, 1943 in Bishopbriggs, Lanarkshire located in the central lowlands of Scotland. Bruce was born into a musical family that moved the family around quite often. He began playing the bass as a teenager & was awarded a scholarship to study cello. While being classically trained, he left college to play jazz music which at the time, was not accepted at his school. 

Jack Bruce 1960's
By the early sixties he was in London & playing in various bands, ,most notably a band called- the Graham Bond Organization, which featured drummer; Ginger Baker. He & Bruce started a musical rhythm unit as well as a hostile relationship that led to some legendary confrontations. The two would sabotage each other's equipment, shout & even have fist fights on stage. Bruce finally left the band after Baker once pulled a knife on him.

Over the next few years Jack Bruce played in various bands, most notably a short stint with John Mayall's Blues Breakers that featured one Mr. Eric Clapton. Bruce was also a one time member of Manfred Mann, who were commercially successful in the UK.

In 1966 Eric Clapton & Baker decided to form a band together. They were unhappy in the groups they were in & Calpton brought up the idea to Baker. 

Clapton requested they recruit Bruce to play bass. Baker almost crashed the car, upon Clapton's suggestion of Bruce. The two agreed to put their differences aside, and Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton & Ginger Baker formed the power trio, Cream. 

All of three of these Cream members were well known & respected musicians around swinging London at the time. The band was considered one of the first rock super groups to form. Cream played a mix of hard rock, blues & psychedelic rock becoming one of the most popular groups of all time. 

Bruce sang most of the lead vocals, since Clapton was still shy about his singing in those days. Bruce also wrote much of the groups most famous material. His bass playing became as legendary as Clapton was on guitar & Baker on drums. 

In less than three years time years Cream, would release four incredible albums; Fresh Cream, Disraeli Gears, Wheels of Fire & Goodbye Cream. Their sales total somewhere near 30 million albums sold. 

In late 1967, Cream released the classic album; Disraeli Gears which is usually defined as their best work. The album reached #5 on the US charts & brought them into superstar fame in America. The album featured classics like; Sunshine of Your Love, Strange Brew, Tales of Brave Ulysses & SWLABR. It's mix of heavy blues rock & psychedelic rock was signature best for the times. It holds up still as some of the greatest music to come out of the sixties. 

Trivia: The strange name of the album comes from a time when Clapton was talking to Ginger Baker about buying a racing bicycle. Mick Turner a roadie, commented, "it's got them Disraeli Gears". 

He meant to say derailleur gears but mistakenly mentioned a 19th-century British Prime Minister; Benjamin Disraeli. The band thought this was hilarious, and decided that it should be the title of the next album.

As the band began head lining, they quickly became popular in the US. They would stretch their less commercial songs into long musical jams on stage, mesmerizing the crowds. Some songs could go on for a half hour.  
Cream 1968
In 1968, their double album: Wheels of Fire became the first double album to go Platinum. This album featured long time classic rock hits; Crossroads, White Room as well as powerful blues songs like Politician, Born Under A Bad Sign & Pressed Rat & Warthog, which featured a hard rock musical backdrop with spoken vocals. By 1968 Clapton wanted to leave the band & explore a different career path. Cream had a farewell tour & Goodbye album & broke up while on top of the music world in 1969. 

Bruce would go to a solo career as well as play in various bands in the seventies, most notably; West Bruce & Laing featuring ex-Mountain members; Leslie West & Corky Laing. Unfortunately, Bruce developed a bad drug habit & lost most of his money by the end of the seventies. 

In the eighties he formed Jack Bruce & Friends which featured Asbury Park, New Jersey's own; David Sancious, an original Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street band member on keyboards. 

Bruce would also play in a couple of different bands with Robin Trower through the years.

In 1997 Bruce was a popular member of Ringo Starr's All Star Band, bringing the crowd to it's feet with his Cream songs. In 1993 he first rejoined Claton & Baker for the Cream induction into the R&R Hall of Fame. 

Cream Reunion Tour 2005
In 2005, Cream played a long 37 year anticipated reunion tour. The band played multiple dates, but only in two locationsl London' Royal Albert Hall & at New York's Madison Square Garden. 
(Centerfieldmaz attended an incredible New York show.
An album & DVD was released as well, bringing Cream back into the mainstream with rock fans. 

On October 25th, 2014 Jack Bruce passed away in Suffolk, England from liver disease, he was surrounded by his family. Bruce was married twice & is survived by four children & a grand daughter. His daughter Aruba Red is a popular trip hop artist based in London.

A statement from his family said: "It is with great sadness that we, Jack's family, announce the passing of our beloved Jack: husband, father and granddad and all-round legend. The world of music will be a poorer place without him, but he lives on in his music and forever in our hearts."

Ginger Baker expressed condolences on his Facebook page for "the loss of a fine man." Eric Clapton, on his Facebook page, said Bruce "He was a great musician and composer, and a tremendous inspiration to me." 

Many now legendary rock bass players have considered Bruce one of the greatest bassists, as well as a huge influence. Pink Floyd's Roger Waters called Bruce "probably the most musically gifted bass player who's ever been".

Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler commented "So sad to hear of Jack Bruce passing. My biggest influence and favorite bass player. Thank you, Jack. RIP,".

The Red Hot Chili Peppers Flea added "Oh man. Jack Bruce. Too much. Wow. Holy holy. I love that guy. One of a kind greatness. End of an era."

Ringo Starr tweeted: "We lost Jack Bruce today an incredible musician writer and a good friend peace and love to all his family,"

Oct 25, 2014

Former Italian / American Pitcher: Tony Fiore (2000-2003)

Anthony James Fiore was born on October 12th, 1971 in Oak Park, Illinois. The six foot four, right handed pitcher attended Triton College, getting drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 28th round of the 1992 draft.

He spent six years pitching in the minor leagues as a starter, before being converted to a reliever in 1998. In 1999 he was signed by the Minnesota Twins and saved 19 games at AAA Salt Lake. He was still granted free agency & got signed by The Tampa Rays.

He made his MLB debut the next year, appearing in 11 games that season going 1-1. In May of 2001 he was released & signed with the Tampa Rays. He had his career best year in 2002, going 10-3 with five holds & a 3.16 ERA in 48 games for the first place Twins.

Post Season: He had a rough outing in the ALDS against the Oakland Athletics, giving up three runs, on a two run triple to David Justice & a double to Mark Ellis.

Fiore only pitched in 21 games the next season & saw his ERA soar to 5.50. He ended up back in the minors & never pitched in the majors again. In a four year career he was 12-6 with 94 strike outs 76 walks & a 4.39 ERA in 87 games.  

Retirement: In 2006 he pitched for former Met; Bud Harrelson's team in the Independent League, the Long Island Ducks.

Fiore then moved on to pitch in Italy for Rimini in the Italian Baseball League. Rimini is a beach resort town located on the Adriatic Sea, in the Northern Emilia Romagna region. He pitched for Rimini in the 2007 European World Cup & in the World Baseball Classic.

Oct 23, 2014

Former Mets Infielder Turned Sucessful Manager: Ron Gardenhire (1981-1986)

Ronald Clyde Gardenhire was born October 24, 1957 in Butzbach West Germany. His family migrated to the United States, settling first in Oklahoma where Gardenhire went to high school. He then attended college at the University of Texas at Austin.

The six foot right hand hitting infielder, was drafted by the New York Mets in 1979 in the sixth round. In his first pro season he made the Carolina League All Star team while at A ball Lynchburg. He was promoted to AA Jackson in 1980 & then had a fine season at AAA Tidewater in 1981.

He hit just .254 but played a fine defense & made it to the Mets team by September 1981. He debuted on September 1st at the Astrodome, as a pinch runner for Rusty Staub & stayed in the game playing at second base in a 3-2 loss to the Astros. He went 13 for 48 that month good for a .271 average. He played mostly at short stop (18 games) posting a .969 fielding %.

The next season in 1982 he got the Mets main short stop job after the departure of veteran Fran Tavares. he saw the most playing time of his career playing in 141 games, making 29 errors (third in the NL) while turning 68 double plays.

On April 11th at Wrigley Field he singled in the top of the 6th continuing a Mets rally that he helped tie the game, in the 8th he added an RBI sac fly for insurance in the 5-4 Met win. He was certainly not known for his power but he did hit three HRs on the year.

On June 29th with the Mets behind 4-3 in the 7th inning, he hit a two run HR off the Expos Ray Burris in Montreal, leading New York to a win. On September 22nd Gardenhire hit a surprising walk off HR against Byrn Smith to beat the Montreal Expos in the 10th inning. Overall he batted .240 with 3 HRs 17 doubles & 33 RBIs while stealing five bases.

In 1983 he wasn’t hitting, batting just .083 in early May when he was sent back down to AAA Tidewater. There he hit .287 but kept getting hamstring injuries which certainly added to shortened his career. He returned to the Mets in September & by now Jose Oquendo had become the teams main short stop. He finished the year batting .063 playing in just seventeen games.

In 1984 he spent the entire season up with the Mets big league team. He played in 49 games at short stop, behind Oquendo & Rafael Santana who would eventually take over the position. On the year he hit .246 in 74 games posting a .947 fielding % at short stop. Gardenhire, played in just 26 games with the second place 1985 Mets as injuries kept nagging him. He would bat .179 with two RBIs.

In the 1986 Championship season he spent the entire year at AAA Tidewater as well as missing time due to injuries. In November of 1986 he was traded to the Minnesota Twins for a player to be named later.

Manager: He never played on the Twins big league squad & ended his playing career in 1987 at age 30. He soon managed in the Twins minor leagues winning two first place finishes in three years. He was promoted to the Twins big league team as the third base coach in their 1991 Championship season.

He was a Twins coach for eleven seasons before being named manager in 2002 as Tom Kelly’s replacement. Kelly was had a very quiet demeanor about him, and Gardenhire just the opposite.

He is fiery & aggressive known to exit the dug out to argue with umpires quite often. He is known as "Gardy " & is a very successful manager for the Twins over the past decade. He has made the post season six times as manager and only had three losing seasons. After finishing third or better for nine seasons, the injury ridden 2011 Twins finished last, the worst season of Gardenhire's career. The Twins finished last again 2012, although that season he won his 900th games as a Twins manager.
In 2013 the Twins finished fourth but in 2014 they fell one more spot to last place.

His Twins have won 90 games or more five times, with a career high 96 wins in 2006. On the down side; his teams have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs each time with the exception of 2002. That season they lost in the ALCS to the eventual world champion Anaheim Angels.

Through 2014 Gardy has managed the Twins for 13 seasons, second only to Tom Kelly (15 seasons) since the franchise moved from Washington D.C.

Family: His son Toby was born in Manhasset, Long Island New York during Ron’s days with the New York Mets. Toby was an infielder in the Twins organization through 2011. In 2012 he was named head coach at University of Wisconsin (Stout).

Oct 22, 2014

Former Mets Broadcater & His Amazing Career: Tim McCarver

James Timothy McCarver was born on October 16, 1941 in Memphis, Tennessee. The six foot left handed hitting catcher was signed out of the Christian Brothers High School in Memphis in 1959.

That year he flew through the minor leagues all the way up to AAA Rochester batting .359 overall. At 17 years old he was briefly called up to the Cardinals, debuting on September 10th, 1959 in a game against the Milwaukee Braves. He appeared in nine games that season.

In the next two years he shuttled between St. Louis and the minor leagues, developing his skills. By 1963 he was up for good at age 21 becoming the Red Birds main catcher taking over the position from Jimmy Schaffer. McCarver established himself as one of the top defensive catchers of the 1960s and early 1970s, throwing out over 40% of would be base stealers five times & leading all backstops in fielding percentage twice.

He became the personal catcher for Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson, helping develop him into one of the games most dominant pitchers. He was Gibson's battery mate for his 1968 Cy Young Award season, where he posted a 1.12 ERA. He also caught Gibson in four twenty win seasons & two World Series, including his dominant 1967 performance where he won three games.

McCarver also would be personal catcher to another Hall of Famer; Steve Carlton. In 1965 he got into an argument with the stubborn rookie pitcher over pitch selections. The two would form a friendship & have a great working relationship as well. He would catch Carlton in his early years with the Cardinals, then move on with him to the Philadelphia Phillies. McCarver was Carlton's personal catcher over Bob Boone, handling the plate in two of Carlton's Cy Young seasons (1972 & 1977).

As he was developing his skills he led the league in passed balls twice & errors committed once. But by the late sixties he was on top of his game. Besides his outstanding defense and abilities to call a good game, he was a good hitting catcher especially for his time. In his first two full seasons (1963 & 1964) he batted .288 with over 50 RBIs both seasons. He hit double figures in HRs from 1965-1967, with seventeen plus doubles six times in his career.

In the 1964 Cardinals championship season, he hit .288 with a .343 on base %, 9 HRs 19 doubles 52 RBIs & 15 intentional walks (5th most in the league). That season McCarver handeled not only Gibson (19 wins) but future Met Ray Sadecki who won twenty & Curt Simmons who won 18 games.

Post Season: In the 1964 World Series McCarver opened up the Series with two hits in Game #1. He had a big Game #5 putting the Cards ahead in the Series, as he broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the 10th inning, with a three run HR off New York's Pete Mikkelsen.

In the Cards Game #7 win he drove in the first run of the game with a sac groundout off Mel Stottlemyre.

In that Game#7 Gibson pitched a complete game win for his second win of the series, clinching the title. McCarver was the World Series' leading hitter with a .478 average, getting 11 hits with one HR, one double, one triple, five RBIs & five walks.

In 1966 he became the first catcher in the modern era, to lead the N.L. in triples with 13. That year he even stole nine bases with 12 HRs 68 RBIs & 19 doubles. In the Cardinals dominant NL years he hit .275 or better each season, batting a career high .295 with 54 walks in 1967.

That year he made his second straight All Star team, & was leading in league in hitting (.355) at the All Star break. That season he posted a .369 on base percentage with 14 HRs 26 doubles & 69 RBIs playing in 138 games. He finished second in the N.L. MVP voting, losing out to team mate Orlando Cepeda.

During the season he contributed with many key hits, especially in tight games. In the last week of July he drove in eight runs & from August 19th to September 1st he drove in ten runs. On August 30th he hit a two run HR at Shea Stadium off Danny Frisella scoring the only two runs of the game.

Post Season: In the late sixties the Cardinals were riding high with a strong team playing in their new Bush Stadium. They would win two World Series in four years, & playing in three Series in a five year span. In the 1967 World Series, the Cards beat the “Impossible Dream” Boston Red Sox in seven games.

Tim only hit .127 in this Series driving in two runs overall. But it was in this series Bob Gibson won three games, extending his streak to five straight World Series wins. In Game #1 he struck out ten Red Sox matching that total in Game #7 as well.

In 1968 St. Louis returned to win another NL pennant, by nine games over the San Francisco Giants. McCraver hit .253 with 5 HRs 15 doubles & 48 RBIs in 128 games played. He threw out 37% of would be base stealers that season.

Post Season: In the World Series the Cards faced off against the Detroit Tigers. In this series, Detroit pitcher Mickey Lolich won three World Series games.

In Game #1 two of the game's best went at it, Gibson vs. Denny McLain at Busch Stadium. Gibson was incredible pitching a five hit shut out striking out a World Series record 17 batters.

In Game #3 at Tiger Stadium, McCarver hit a three run HR off Earl Wilson in the 7-3 St. Louis win. Gibson returned for his seventh straight World Series win in Game #4, as McCarver had three hits in the 10-1 victory. In Game #7 it was Lolich & the Tigers coming out on top.

McCarver had another good Series, hitting .333 (9- 27) with a HR, two triples, four RBIs and three walks. McCarver’s played in three Fall Classics, batting .311 playing in 21 games.

In 1970 McCarver was traded along with Curt Flood, Joe Hoerner, & Byron Browne, to the Philadelphia Phillies for Dick Allen, Cookie Rojas& Jerry Johnson.

This was the famous trade where Curt Flood refused to report to his new team deal, challenging the reserve clause. Instead a young Willie Montanez went to the Phillies in his place.

McCarver missed a lot of action in 1970 batting .287 in just 44 games as injuries got the best of him. The next season he batted .278 but committed 11 errors with 18 passed ball behind the plate, leading the league in those categories.

On June 23rd 1971, he was behind the plate catching Rick Wise no hitter at Riverfront Stadium, against the reigning NL Champion Cincinatti Reds. In 1972 McCarver began the year in Philadelphia, catching Steve Carltons 27 win season 310 strike out Cy Young season. But he was traded to the Montreal Expos for John Bateman on June 14th.

On October 2nd 1972, at Jary Park in Montreal in the final series of the regular season, McCarver he caught no hitter number two.
That day Bill Stoneman threw a no hitter against the New York Mets, striking out just two & walking seven.

The next year McCarver was back to St. Louis (1973-1974) then to the the Boston Red Sox (1974-1975) behind Carlton Fisk. In mid-1975, Steve Carlton now one of the league's best pitchers was pitching in Philadelphia.

He requested the Phillies get McCarver back to be his full time personal catcher. Carlton preferred McCarver over Phillies regular back stop Bob Boone. The Phillies granted his request & it was there he would spend the rest of his career through 1980. McCarver used to joke that when he and Carlton pass away, they'll be buried 60 feet six inches apart from each other.

On Americas 200th birthday, July 4, 1976, McCarver hit what is known as a "Grand Slam Single". That day after hitting a game-winning home run with the bases loaded, he passed teammate Garry Maddox on the base path. He supposedly said to the umpire, "I didn't pass him; he lapped me due to sheer speed".

Post Season: In the mid to late 1970’s McCarver got to play in three consecutive NLCS with the Phillies from 1976-1978. All three times they were eliminated, once by the Big Red Machine & twice by the L.A. Dodgers.

McCarver went 3 for 14 with three walks in seven games catching Carlton, in those years. McCarver briefly returned to play in September 1980 becoming one of the few players in history to play in four different decades.

He finished his 21 season playing career with a .271 batting average, 1501 hits 97 HRs 242 doubles 57 triples 548 walks & 645 RBIs with a .337 on base %. He is 41st all time in games behind the plate with 1387. He has 8206 put outs (24th all time) a .990 fielding percentage (96th all time) 132 passed balls (84th all time) while throwing out 34% of base runners.

Broadcasting Career: In 1980, he began his broadcasting career at WPHL Philadelphia, where he was paired with Richie Ashburn and Harry Kalas calling games for the Phillies.

He moved on to the New York Mets booth in 1983 and would remain there for 15 years. McCarver worked with the Mets mainly alongside Ralph Kiner through those years through 1998.

He also worked with Rusty Staub, Steve Zabriske, Howie Rose, Matt Laughlin, Bud Harrelson & Fran Healy on television with channel 9 as well as the cable outlets. In his time he worked on Sports Channel, Fox Sports Net & the MSG network. McCarver went on to call the Mets 1986 NLCS games for the ABC network alongside veteran broadcaster Keith Jackson.

This included the 16-inning Game #6 clincher in Houston, where Tim got to interview the NL champion Mets. He also worked the 1988 NLCS disappointing Met loss to Los Angeles Dodgers for the network.

As a broadcaster, McCarver became a star. His knowledge of the game is outstanding. He has won three Emmy Awards for Sports Event Analyst. McCarver has revolutionized the color analyst job, with his tremendous baseball intelligence & ability to break down a situation affecting all aspects of the play.

He tells the viewer things that we had never heard before from a broadcaster. He explains the importance of the positioning of fielders, as well as the upcoming circumstances that may occur with future hitters coming up in the line up. He foresees pitching matchups, base running possibilities and certain points that may result in the out game of the game like no one had done before. He is never afraid to tell it like he sees it & can be critical at times as well. When rule questions come up during a broadcast, McCarver will explain the rule in detail. He goes by the book with hunches & like to play percentages.

Some people have criticized his style all throughout his career, saying he over analyzes . McCarver will outspokenly second guess a managerial move if he doesn’t agree with it. No matter what anyone says, he knows the game better than anybody, as well as any situation which occurs.

He is author to two books, Tim McCarver's Diamond Gems. & his Tim McCarver's Baseball for Brain Surgeons and Other Fans: Understanding and Interpreting the Game So You Can Watch It Like a Pro. That book is an incredible breakdown of the game explaining baseball situations on every level.

On a broadcasting network level he began with ABC, where he was originally teamed with Don Drysdale on Monday Night Baseball games in 1984. Next he worked with Al Michaels and Jim Palmer from 1985-1989 and again from 1994-1995. He worked at CBS teamed with Jack Buck in 1990-1991 and then Sean McDonough from 1992-1993.

Since 1995 he has been working on the FOX Network, paired with Joe Buck for Saturday afternoon games of the week and the post season. McCarver has been on hand for some of baseball's most memorable and exciting moments since 1984.

In 2003, McCarver set a record by broadcasting his 13th World Series on national television passing the legendary Curt Gowdy. He has covered every post season in the last 28 years. The first World Series that McCarver worked on was in 1985 for ABC, replacing the legendary Howard Cosell. Tim served as a field reporter during the 1984 NLCS between the San Diego Padres and Chicago Cubs & never missed commentating on the League Championship Series since.

While covering the Mets, McCarver criticized Darryl Strawberry for staying in the same place in the outfield regardless of the hitter at bat. He often said Strawberry would make more outs if he made some adjustments. Then-Mets manager, Davey Johnson responded, saying that Darryl sees the ball come off the bat best in that spot . Anywhere else, he cannot read the ball well, and any advantage will be lost because he will misplays it.

During the 1992 NLCS, he criticized Deion Sanders for playing both football and baseball on the same day. Sanders dumped a bucket of water on McCarver three times while he was covering the clubhouse celebration for CBS.

McCarvers's showed who the real mature man was, holding back any verbal abuse. Being the true professional, all he did was say sarcastically to Sanders “You’re a real man Deion”.

On October 17, 1989 before Game 3 of the World Series in San Francisco, McCarver was talking about the Giants slim chances to win when the earthquake hit California. Some game footage of the Oakland Athletics was being shown, when, the ground began to shake. The broadcast picture became full of static, and a distracted McCarver, did a verbal double-take. Al Michaels broke in and said, "I'll tell you what; we're having an earthqu-" just as power went out.

In 2008 he publicly called Manny Ramirez despicable for his lazy play in Boston & then turning it up when he arrived in Los Angeles with the Dodgers.

In 2010, he compared how the AL New York teams ownership treated former manager Joe Torre to Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia treated its generals, a position he was later forced to apologize for .

McCarver is one of three sportscasters (the others being Fran Healy and Tom Seaver) to have covered both New York teams on a regular basis. He also covered the A.L. New York team (1999-2001) & then did one season with the San Francisco Giants in 2002.

The Tim McCarver television Show, had been syndicated for over a decade. He has also hosted the HBO series Race for the Pennant & the 1992 Winter Olympics with Paula Zahn for CBS.

In 2009 he released a CD of Jazz standards where he sang the lead vocals. McCarver has recently lived in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

Honors: In 2012 he was honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame with the Ford Frick Award. The minor league stadium in Memphis was christened Tim McCarver Stadium in 1978. .

Originally 2013 was suppose to be Tim McCarver's last year behind the mic at as he decided to retire. He did leave the Fox broadcast booth but chose to work about a quarter of the St. Louis Cardinals games on Midwest Sports network.