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

1936 N.L. Champion New York Giants Player: Wally Berger (1936-1937)

Walter Anton Berger was born October 10, 1905 in Chicago, Illinois. Berger grew up in San Francisco, California & was a high school team mate of future Hall of Famer Joe Cronin. Beregr played in the PacificCoast Leage with the AA Los Angeles Angels were he was a slugging star. In 1929 he bashed 40 HRs while batting .335, his third straight year of batting over .325. He was signed & brought up to the Boston Braves in 1930 and had a record setting year.

He set a rookie record by hitting 38 HRs, a record stood for 58 years until Mark McGwire broke it in 1988. Berger drove in 119 runs, also a rookie record until broken by Albert Pujols in 2001. Berger also hit 27 doubles with 14 triples while batting .310 overall. It was quite a debut but hard to follow up. He hit over .300 over the next three seasons &.290 or better over next five seasons. Berger made thAll Star team for four straight years from 1933-136, gaining votes for the MVP award each year as well.

In 1934 he hit 34 HRs with 121 RBIs both third best in the league, as he hit .295 posting a355 on base %. The following season (1935) he led the league in both HRs (34) & RBIs (130) with 39 doubles a .295 batting average & a .355 on base percentage. He would hit over 30 HRs three times at the big league level & drive in over 100 runs four times. Babe Ruth called him the best centerfielder in the league in 1933. He set Braves all time HR marks in those tears that were broken by future Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews.

In 1933 his 27 HRs were more than half the teams total combined. Throughout the thirties he was on top in the leader boards in HRs, Slugging %, on base %, doubles, total bases, extra base hits, RBIs & strike outs, He twice had the best at bat per HR ratio in the league. Berger was also a top centerfielder & left fielder. He led the league in games played three times, fielding & put outs one time each, while being among the league leaders many times. During the 1936 season he suffered a shoulder injury that took a huge toll on his career.

He was traded to the New York Giants mid season, and his first Giants HR was the 200th of his career. He played as fourth outfielder behind the great Mel Ott, Jo-Jo Moore & Jimmy Ripple. Berger arrived at the Polo Grounds on June 15th & would play in 59 games with the Giants. He hit .291 with 12 HRs & 43 RBIs the rest of the season for New York, as the Giants won the pennant under manager Bill Terry. He only made three pinch hit appearances in the 1937 World Series going hitless.

He spent the first part of the 1938 season in New York hitting .188 & was traded to the Cincinnati Reds after 18 games. He finished the year with 16 HRs & hit 14 more the next year before winding down by 1940 in Philadelphia.

In his 11 season career he hit an even .300 with 1550 hits 242 HRs 299 doubles 59 triples 809 runs scored 898 RBIs & a .359 on base % in 1350 games played.

Retirement: After baseball he was a scout for the Giants & became minor league manager. Berger passed away of a stroke at Redondo Beach, California in 1988 at age 83.