Nov 29, 2014

The Legend of Brooklyn Dodgers- Clyde Sukeforth

Clyde Leroy Sukeforth was born November 30, 1901 in Washington, Maine. He certainly wasn’t a star player (.264 lifetime hitter) but he was involved in some classic baseball events for the Brooklyn Dodgers & New York Giants.

He was a career backup catcher, first in Cincinnati from 1927-1931, seeing action in over 100 games in his last season there. He damaged his eye in a hunting accident but still continued to play baseball. 

He was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers and backed up Al Lopez for four seasons. He hit for awful averages, after a .234 season he dropped to .086 then .163 in his last season. But during the man power shortage of WW II he got another chance to play nine years later, hitting .294 in 51 at bats in his final season of play (1945).


After his playing days, he became a long time Dodgers coach and scout working closely for Branch Rickey. He was coach for both Jackie Robinson & Roy Campanella at the minor league level working closely to ease racial tensions within the club & the communities. 

Sukeforth was the only other person present in 1946 when Rickey told Jackie Robinson his plan for integration the next season. As the 1947 began, Leo Durocher was still the Dodger manager; he got suspended for the first few games of the season.

Sukeforth took over the helm as interim manager, and goes down in history as the manager of the first integrated team in MLB history as Robinson made his debut. The Dodgers won the game. Sukeforth did not want the job for the whole season and Burt Shotton took over. He was Shotton’s brains, helping him call the shots leading Brooklyn to a pennant. 

In the 1951 famous Giants- Dodgers Playoff series, it was Sukeforth who was in the bullpen warming up pitchers in the last inning. As manager Chuck Dressen called the pen, he told him Carl Erskine’s curve was hanging and Ralph Branca was ready. He had caught both pitchers over the past few innings and felt Branca had better stuff. The rest is history as Branca came in & gave up the final blow to Bobby Thomson, the HR sealing the pennant for the Giants.
Sukeforth was let go after the season. He went to work for the Pirates and was key in drafting Roberto Clemente away from the Dodgers in the Ruke Five Draft. He again declined the major league level manager position, this time with Pittsburgh. He coached there until 1962 then scouted for the Braves throughout the sixties. He lived a very long life, passing at the age of 98 in Waldoboro, Maine in 2000. 
Trivia: In the famous Norman Rockwell painting Game called because of rain there is more Sukeforth lore. The illustration focuses on three stern umpires deciding whether the baseball game should be called on account of rain, in the background are two other baseball figures. It is Clyde Sukeforth, who is suppose to be the Brooklyn Dodger figure on the left.

Nov 26, 2014

Former Mets 1980's Prospect: Randy Milligan (1987)

Randy Andre Milligan was born November 27, 1961 in San Diego California. Milligan was another highly touted prospect that never quite made it with the Mets at the big league level. Randy was the 1981 first round draft pick for the Mets. 

He didn’t develop like the Mets had hoped and didn’t make his MLB debut until September 7th, 1987 as a pinch hitter for Bobby Ojeda. 

He struck out in the Mets 8-1 loss at Busch Stadium. He appeared two more times, going hitless, with one walk. It was the only three games he played in as a Met. He was still considered a prospect and the next spring the Mets traded him to Pittsburgh for Mackey Sasser & Tim Drummond. 

He hit .220 in 40 games in Pittsburgh then went to the Baltimore Orioles where he spent four seasons. He saw alot of action in Baltimore, playing in over 100 games each season. His best year was 1990 when he hit 20 HRs20 doubles, 60 RBIs and batted .260. He followed that up with 16 HRs70 RBIs and a career high .263 average. 

He didn’t make the Orioles 1993 squad and spent some time with the Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians & Montreal Expos, finishing up in 1994.

Milligan is a  .261 lifetime hitter, with 70 HRs 106 doubles 284 RBIs in 703 games. Retirement: Milligan became a scout with the Orioles after his playing days.

Nov 25, 2014

Former Italian / American Pitcher: Larry Gura (1970-1985)

Lawrence Cyril Gura, was born November 26, 1947, in Joliet, Illinois. The six foot left handed pitcher attended Arizona State University winning two National championships (1967 & 1969) under Coach Bobby Winkles.

He pitched alongside future Mets Gary Gentry & Craig Swan. Gura was selected by the Chicago Cubs as a second round pick in 1969.

He made his MLB debut on April 30th 1970 finishing up a game against the Braves in Atlanta. He would go 1-3 on the year making twenty appearances at the major league level. He spent the majority of the next two seasons in the minors winning 11 games each season. After going 2-4 with the Cubs in 1973 he was traded to the Texas Rangers but two months later was sent to the A.L. New York club, in exchange for Duke Sims. He spent two seasons there going a best 7-8 in 1975 appearing in 26 games.

That off season he was traded to the Kansas City Royals for future Mets announcer, catcher Fran Healy. Gura would spend ten years with the Royals winning a World Series in 1985, two pennants & five AL Western Divisional titles.

In 1976 he was 4-0 with a save & a 2.30 ERA mostly pitching out of the Royals bullpen. He got the start in Game #1 of the ALCS & although he pitched into the 9th inning, he was the losing pitcher. In the 1977 ALCS he was the losing pitcher in Game #4 after surrendering three runs over the first two innings.

In 1978 Gura was third on the Royals fine pitching staff with 16 wins, going 16-4 with a .800 winning % (third best in the league). He pitched in 221 innings, posting a 2.72 ERA (6th best in the AL). In that year’s ALCS he was the winning pitcher in Game #2, beating Ed Figueroa & the A.L. New York club 10-4 at Royals Stadium.

Gura would win double figures for seven straight seasons, winning 18 games twice (1980 & 1982). In the Royals AL pennant season of 1980 he was 18-10 (8th in the league in wins) tossing four shut outs (3rd most in the AL) with a 2.95 ERA (5th in the AL) pitching 283 innings (3rd most in the AL) making 36 starts. That season he made his only All Star appearance & received votes for the CY young award.

Post Season: In the ALCS he was the winning pitcher in Game #1 beating Ron Guidry 7-2. He made two appearances in the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies but earned no decisions.

Gura was a fine fielding pitcher who led the league with a perfect 1000. fielding %, four times. He was also particularly good against his old A.L. New York team mates going 11-6 in his regular season career. In 1979 & 1980 he went 3-0 against them both times.

After winning 18 games in 1982 he led the league in losses in 1983 with 18 losses (11-18). In 1984 he rebounded to go 12-9 although he posted a 5.18 ERA.

In May of 1985 he was released by the Royals & then signed briefly ending his career where it began with the Chicago Cubs.

In his 16 year career he was 126-97 with 801 strike outs, 600 walks posting a 3.76 ERA in 403 games (261 starts).

Nov 23, 2014

Former Italian /American Player: Paul Sorrento (1989-1999)

Paul Anthony Sorrento born November 17, 1965 in Somerville, Massachusetts. Sorrento attended Florida State University getting drafted in the 4th round of the 1986 draft by the California Angels.

Sorrento was a hot prospect & in 1988 he & two minor leaguers were traded to Minnesota for Bert Blyleven.

In 1989 with the Twins organization, he was named to the AA Southern League's All-Star team as he led the league with 35 doubles and 112 RBI. His 27 HRs were  second only to league MVP; Eric Anthony's 28. Defensively Sorrento was rated as a fine first baseman with his glove.

Sorrento debuted with the Twins in 1989, hitting his first career HR the following season. He saw brief action in the 1991 World Series going 0-3 as a pinch hitter.

In March of 1992, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians where he had two straight 18 HR seasons, driving in over 60 RBIs both years. In 1995 he hit 25 HRs with 79 RBIs for the AL Champion Indians, averaging a HR every 13 at bats, although his batting average was only at .231.

Post Season: In the ALDS  against the Boston Red Sox, he batted .300 with an RBI in the Game #3 series clincher. In the ALCS against the Seattle Mariners he hit just .154 with two hits in 13 at bats.

In the World Series against the Atlanta Braves he struggled again batting just .182 with two hits in eleven at bats. 

He was sent to the Seattle Mariners the next season, having career highs in hits (136) RBIs (93) doubles (32) & batting average (.289). In 1997 he hit 31 HRs averaging a HR every 15 at bats (7th most in the league) while posting the leagues second best fielding % at first base (.996).

He got to another post season that year, batting .300 with a HR in Game #3 of the NLDS against the Baltimore Orioles. In 1998 he signed with the Tampa Rays as a free agent, playing out his last two seasons there.

After an 11 year career, Sorrento hit 166 HRs in 3412 at bats, averaging a HR every 20 at bats, ranking him in the top 140 all time. He batted .257 with 565 RBIs enjoying four 20 plus doubles seasons as well as three 30 plus HR seasons. At first base his career .994 fielding % in 55th best all time.

More recently he has coached baseball in the state of Washington.

Nov 21, 2014

Three Time World Series New York Giants Pitcher: "Prince" Hal Schumacher (1931-1942 / 1946)

Harold Henry Schumacher, nicknamed Prince, was born on November 23, 1910 in Hinckley, New York on the Southern end of the Adirondack Mountains.

Hal began attending Lawrence University but had to quit due to financial reasons, even though he was an exceptional student in academics as well as in sports. He was offered a contract by the New York Giants, but he told them he’d only sign if they paid for him to finish his education, which they did.

From there on, he would spend his entire career with the New York Giants pitching 13 seasons and appearing in three World Series. He threw fast ball which was called a "heavy ball" in those days so hard, it sounded like a cannon ball when it hit the big catchers mit. He made a brief debut in April 1931 pitching just two innings in two games for manager John McGraw. He returned in June & July then got his first career win that September.

The next season Bill Terry took over as manager & by 1933 Schumacher became second on the Giants staff to Carl Hubbell, winning 19 (19-12) fifth most victories in the league, with seven shutouts, 96 strike outs and a 2.16 ERA (3rd in the NL) pitching 258 innings (8th in the NL). He made baseballs first All Star team that year and got some votes for the MVP award. That June he had his proudest moment when he graduated from Lawrence University and Manager Terry took, the whole team up North for the ceremony.

Post Season: In Game #2 of the 1933 World Series in the Polo Grounds, he pitched a five hit complete game win over the Washington Senators. He returned in Game #5 at Washington D.C. but got no decision pitching into the 6th inning leaving in a 3-3 tie. The Giants would win it & capture the Championship when Mel Ott hit a tenth inning game winning HR.

Schumacher had his best season in 1934 as he even topped his teammate Hubbell, winning 23 games (23-10) striking out 112 batters (7th in the NL) making 36 starts (3rd most in the NL) pitching in 298 innings (4th in the NL) with a 3.16 ERA (6th in the NL), 18 complete games (6th in the NL) & two shut outs. He also led the league with 10 wild pitches.

At the plate he was one of the leagues best hitting pitchers, hitting 6 HRs with 15 RBIs batting .239.On a hot day in St. Louis, while pitching Schumacher collapsed from heat exhaustion. He actually had no heart beat t one point, but was revived. He was packed in ice & recuperated right away. He would win 19 games again in 1935 (19-9) with a 2.89 ERA, making his second All Star game.

That year his average dropped a bit to .196 but he drove in 21 runs while hitting two HRs. He had an an off year in 1936 due to arm problems. The shoulder issues affected his fastball so he learned to throw a palm ball to go along with his overhand curve, That year he went 11-13 but the Giants still won another pennant, losing in the World Series.

Post Season: In that World Series he got beat up in Game #2 allowing five runs in just two innings, taking the loss. He came back to win Game #5 although he scattered ten hits & allowed six walks. He still pitched a complete ten inning game with ten strikeouts, taking a 5-4 win. At one point in the game he had the bases loaded with no one out, he then struck out Joe DiMaggio &Lou Gerig. He then got Bill Dickey to fly out to right field.

From there Schumacher went on to have four straight 13 win seasons, followed by two straight 12 win seasons, finishing above .500 all but one time. He would get to one more World Series (1937) taking the loss in Game #3.

In his 13 year career "Prince Hal" was 158-121 with seven saves posting a 3.36 ERA. He pitched 2482 innings in 391 games, making 329 starts striking out 906 batters walking 902. He threw 138 complete games with 26 shut outs. At the plate Schumacher was one of the best hitting pitchers during his time batting .202 with 15 HRs & 102 RBIs.

Military: He enlisted with the Naval Reserves in 1942 during World War II, serving America for four years. He lost his brother in the war & was devestated only pitching one more year after his Naval discharge.

When he returned he briefly pitched with the Giants in 1946 going 4-4 with 3.91 ERA in 24 games.

Retirement: After playing baseball he worked for the Adirondack Bat Company in upstate New York for twenty years. After that he worked at Little League headquarters in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

He passed away from stomach cancer at Cooperstown, New York in 1993 at age 83. He was survived by his wife of 47 years, a son, daughter & four grand children.

Nov 20, 2014

Two Time Eighties Mets Infielder: Bill Almon (1980/1987)

William Francis Almon was born on November 21, 1952 in Providence, Rhode Island. The six foot three right hand hitter, attended Brown University, getting drafted as the number all around pick by the San Diego Padres in 1974. After flying through AA & AAA minor league ball, the Padres brought him up right away that September after just 39 games.

He played in 16 games batting .316 with three RBIs. He spent most of the next two seasons down at AAA, having a rough 1975 season batting .228 while making 48 errors at short stop (.939%). He was brought up for six brief games that September as well. The next season at AAA Hawaii he batted .291, making 36 errors at short for a .947 fielding %.  

In 1977 he became San Diego’s main short stop, leading all NL shortstops in put outs (303) errors (41) and sacrifice hits (20). He batted .261 with 2 HRs 18 doubles & 43 RBIs while stealing 21 bases. He was the Padres short stop again in 1978 but his days were numbered in 1979 when a young Ozzy Smith arrived on the scene. That year Almon played 65 games at second base & just 25 games at short stop. 

In December of 1979 he was traded along with Danny Briggs to the Montreal Expos for former All Star second baseman Dave Cash. On July 7th, 1980 after playing just 18 games he was granted free agency and four days later he signed with the New York Mets.

It would be the first of two brief stints with the Mets. Almon played a utility role backing up Frank Tavares at short stop, as well as Doug Flynn at second base. He played in 48 games batting .170 with 19 hits in 112 at bats, with no HRs and four RBIs. He made his Mets debut coming in as a pinch runner on July 11th in Pittsburgh. In his fifth Mets game, he had a big four hit day, scoring four runs in a big Mets 13-3 win over the Reds in Cincinnati. The fifth place Mets released him that December.  

He went on to play for Tony LaRussa with the Chicago White Sox for two seasons, having a fine season in 1981. He was back in a starting role, playing in 103 games in the strike shortened season, batting .301 (349 at bats) with 16 stolen bases, posting a .969 fielding % .

He played two seasons in Chicago & then signed a two year deal with the Oakland A’s playing there as their main short stop. In 1983 he had career highs in doubles (29) stolen bases (26) & RBIs (63). He went to the Pittsburgh Pirates for two seasons dropping off to a .219 average in 1986.  

In May of 1987 he came back to the Mets in a trade for Al Pedrique who had played in six Mets games going 0-6 at the plate. Almon played in 49 games for the ’87 Mets, at short stop (22 games) second base (10 games) & first base (2 games). On June 24th he had his big Mets moment, as he singled in the bottom of the 9th inning against Cubs closer, Lee Smith. The hit drove in Kevin McReynolds with the game winning walk off run. Overall he hit .241 with three extra base hits while driving in four runs.

He wrapped up his 15 years career in 1988 with the Philadelphia Phillies. Lifetime he batted .254 with 846 hits, 138 doubles, 36 HRs, 296 RBIs, & a .305 on base %. At short stop he posted a lifetime .960 fielding percentage (616 games) at third base .927 % (212) games, in the outfield (.990 %) 161 games second base .973 % (102 games) & he even played one game at catcher.  

Retirement: After his playing days Almon went back to Brown University as their baseball coach from 1993-1996.

Short Time Early Nineties Mets Infielder: Dick Schofield (1992)

Richard Craig Schofield was born on November 21, 1962 in Springfield, Illinois.

He is the son of Dick “Ducky” Schofield who played shortstop & infield for 19 seasons from 1953-1971. Ducky backed up Alvin Dark & Alex Grammas in St. Louis with the Cardinals. He then backed up the 1960 NL MVP, Dick Groat in Pittsburgh winning a World Series there that same year. He became the Pirates main short stop from 1963 to 1965, leading the NL in fielding (.981%) in 1965. He would move on to the Los Angeles Dodgers (1966-1967).

By 1968 he was back in St. Louis where he got to another World Series with the Cards losing to the Detroit Tigers. After that season he went to the Boston Red Sox backing up Rico Petrocelli (1969-1970). He ended his career in Milwaukee in 1971 after 19 big league seasons batting .227 with 699 hits 21 HRs 113 doubles 20 triples & 211 RBIs. The senior Schofield posted a .961 fielding % turning 385 double plays at short.

His son Dick Schofield was drafted out of high school first round in 1981 (3rd pick overall) by the California Angels. Two years later the highly touted shortstop made his debut. He was one the finest glove men of his era at the short stop position. He led the league in fielding four times (1984-1987-1988 & 1992), and was one of the game’s best sacrifice hitters in the 1980’s.

In 1986 he had career highs in HRs (13) RBIs (57) & stolen bases (23) as the Angels won the Western Division. He hit .300 in the 1986 ALCS with a HR off Boston Red Sox pitcher, Oil Can Boyd in Game #3. He was considered so valuable to the Angels team that he came in 22nd in the MVP voting. At short he posted a .972 fielding % turning 103 double plays. After spending ten seasons with the Angels, he was traded to the New York Mets for Julio Valera in early April of 1992.

He took over Kevin Elster’s vacant spot after he went down with injury ending his season. Schofield played in 142 games for the fifth place 1992 Mets team. Schofield led all NL shortstops in fielding that year (.988%) making only seven errors in 603 chances. On May 10th he hit his first Mets HR, a solo shot against the Los Angeles Dodgers. That day he drove in two Mets runs in the 3-0 win.

On July 19th in a game at Shea against the San Francisco Giants, Schofield had a career day. In the 4th inning he doubled with the bases loaded off John Burkett driving in three runs. Then in the bottom of the 8th he hit a three run HR off Bryan Hickerson leading the Mets with his six RBI day to an 8-4 victory.

On September 22nd he singled in the bottom of the 8th off the Cubs Paul Assenmacher to break a 5-5 tie. The Mets went on to an 8-6 win. Schofield stole 11 bases & was tenth in the league with ten sac hits. Overall he only batted .205 with 18 doubles 4 HRs 36 RBIs & 52 runs scored.

At the end of the year he ran out of New York signing as a free agent with the World Champion Toronto Blue Jays. Schofield played in just 36 games for the '93 Blue Jays as he broke his arm & missed playing in the entire 1993 post season. That year the Toronto Blue Jays won their second straight Worlds Championship. He signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers & finished his career in Anaheim in 1996.

In 14 big league seasons he hit .230 with 989 hits, 137 doubles, 56 HRs 353 RBIs & 120 stolen bases. At short he posted a .976 fielding % (27th best all time) with 2140 put outs (91st all time) & 3873 assists (83rd all time).

Retirement: Schofield was recently a coach for the Angels minor league club in Tempe, Arizona. He is also the uncle of the Washington Nationals Jason Werth, making him part of a rare three generation baseball family.

Nov 19, 2014

Early Eighties Mets Pitcher: Greg Harris (1981)

Greg Allen Harris was born on November 2nd, 1955 in Lynwood California. The six foot right handed pitcher was signed by the New York Mets as an amateur free agent in 1976. Harris was actually a switch thrower if there is a such thing, as he could pitch both right handed & left handed.

He pitched at both A ball Lynchburg & AA Jackson in 1978 going 8-9 with a 2.16 ERA. By 1980 he was promoted to AAA Tidewater after a nine win season at Jackson. He was 2-9 there but improved to 4-0 with a 2.06 ERA in 1981. The Mets were always looking for something positive in those days & brought him up to the big league club.

Harris made his MLB debut on May 20th at Candlestick Park, pitching six solid innings allowing two runs, earning no decision in a 4-3 Mets win. His next start came at Shea Stadium where he beat the Philadelphia Phillies. Harris was 2-1 in June & then was sent back to AAA Tidewater returning in August. Upon his return he was put in a relief appearance where he earned a save at Wrigley Field. He lost three straight decisions that month ending with an ERA up near five.

On September 4th Harris pitched seven innings allowing just one run, earning a win against the Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium. On September 21st he pitched a season best eight innings allowing two runs but earned another no decision in a 4-3 Mets win.

On the year in 16 games he was 3-5 with a 4.46 ERA, striking out 54 batters in 68 innings. In February 1982 Harris, Alex Trevino & Jim Kern were traded to the Cincinnati Reds for George Foster. Although Foster was never the super star he was in his Big Red Machine hey days, it must be noted that his arrival was the beginning of the Mets turn around to being a contender two years later.

Harris pitched two years in Cincinnati (1982-1983) the spent 1984 in Montreal & San Diego. He pitched in Texas (1985-1987) having a big season in 1986. He saved 20 games that year (6th in the AL) winning ten games going 10-8 with a 2.83 ERA. From there Harris went to the Philadelphia Phillies (1988-1989) getting put on waivers where he was picked up by the Boston Red Sox.

When he arrived in Boston the ambidextrous pitcher had a special glove made where he could switch from righty to lefty. The Red Sox were not happy about his versatility & banned him from making the cross over. Harris pitched six years in Boston, winning a career high 13 games (13-9) in 1990 when he was back in a starting role.

He made the transition from a starter to a middle reliever by 1990, leading the league with 80 appearances in 1993, earning eight saves. After finishing the 1994 season with the AL New York team, he pitched his final year with the Montreal Expos.

On September 28, 1995 his dream came true as he got to pitch both right handed & left handed finishing off a game against the Cincinnati Reds. On the season he appeared in 45 games going 2-3.

In his 15 year career Harris was 74-90 with a 3.69 ERA. He saved 54 games striking out 1141 batters walking 652 in 1467 innings in 703 appearances. In seven of his fifteen seasons he posted ERAs below the three mark.

Former Italian / American Player: Dante Bichette (1988-2001)

Alphonse Dante Bichette was Born on November 18, 1963 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The six foot three, right handed hitting outfielder was signed at age 19 after attending Jupiter, High School in Jupiter Florida. He was drafted by the California Angels in the 17th round in 1984.

Dante had a modest minor league career peeking in the majors for two seasons early on his career (1988 & 1989). He spent three years overall with the Angels hitting 15 HRs in 1990 in his first full season (109 games). He was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for Dave Parker in March 1991. He hit his Brewer best 15 HRs the next season.

In 1993 he was traded to the expansion Colorado Rockies for Kevin Reimer, becoming an original Rockie. There he became one of the teams first stars, as his offensive numbers exploded in the Mile high air of the Rocky Mountains. 

Bichette was part of the "Blake Street Bombers" which also included sluggers Larry Walker, Andres Galarraga, and Vinny Castilla.

In the Rockies first season he batted .310 with 21 HRs for the fifth place team playing in the Denver Broncos Mile High Stadium. The thin Colorado air had him hit 20 or more HRs for eight straight seasons, including a monster 1995 season when the team first moved into Coors Field. On Opening Day 1995 he hit the very first HR at Coors Field, a 14th inning walk off blast against Mike Remlinger & the New York Mets.

That year he led the league in HRs (40) RBIs (128) hits (197) slugging % (.620) & total bases (359) posting a .340 batting average (3rd in the league). He came very close to winning a triple crown that season was the most baseball player in Denver.

He was second in the MVP voting and made the second of three straight All Star appearances. That year the Rockies won the wild card & made the post season in just their third season of play.

In his only post season appearance he batted .588 (10-17) with three doubles, a HR & three RBIs off the Atlanta Braves fine pitching staff. In addition to his HRs he also hit for average, Bichette hit over .300 six straight years, while batting over .290 eight straight times.

He had five straight seasons with over 100 RBIs, hitting 30 or more doubles eight times, including a career high 48 in 1998. That season he also had a career high 219 hits leading the league in that category for the second time. He batted .331 (3rd in the league) while posting a .357 on base %. Bichette was also a quick base runner, stealing 14 or more bases six times.

In 1996 he joined the exclusive 30/30 club along with team mate Ellis Burks. They became only the second set of team mates to accomplish this feat. By the late nineties he was suffering from back problem and was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Stan Belinda and Jeffrey Hammonds.

His bad back affected his hitting as his numbers fell off completely. In August of 2000 he was traded to the Boston Red Sox retiring by 2001 at age 37. In a 14 season career he hit .299 with 1906 hits , 274 HRs 401 doubles a .336 on base % & 1078 RBIs.

Retirement: After a two year layoff, Bichette played in the Atlantic Independent League in 2004, winning a Player of the month Award there.

The next season his son played in the Little League World Series with his Maitland Florida team. Dante Bichette Jr. was a 2011 first round pick.

Nov 18, 2014

Short Time 1951 N.L. Champion New York Giants Player: Spider Jorgesen (1950-1951)

John Donald Jorgensen was born on November 3, 1919 in Folsom, California. He was known as Spider, & would play minor league ball in 1941 before going off to serve in World War II. He returned to baseball in 1946 in the Brooklyn Dodgers organization as a left handed hitting third baseman who threw right handed.

He made the Dodgers team in 1947 making his debut on the same day Jackie Robinson made his. At the time Jorgenson didn't remember there being alot of hoopla around Robinson's debut by the Brooklyn papers. As for Jorgensen he was more surprised at being named the Dodgers Opening Day third baseman than seeing Robinson across the diamond. In fact he used Robinson's glove on that historic day, since his equipment was still up at AAA Montreal & Robinson played first base. Spider went hitless but drove in a run with a walk in Brooklyn's 5-3 win.

In 1947 Jorgenson hit .274 with 29 doubles, 8 triples (6th in the league) 5 HRs & 67 RBIs playing in 129 games posting a .360 on base percentage. He made 19 errors at third base but still had the league’s 4th best fielding percentage (.949). In the World Series he went 2-4 with 1 RBI in Game #3, and then drew two walks in Game #4. In Game #7 he went 1-2 driving in one of the two Dodger runs. Overall he hit .200 (4-20) in the Series.

In the off season he injured his throwing arm hunting, & then damaged it even further in Spring Training of 1948. He eventually lost his starting job to Billy Cox, although he hit .300 in 90 at bats that season. He would appear in four games of the 1949 World Series, hitting two doubles, going 2-11. In 1950 his contract was purchased by the New York Giants and he would bat only .135 in 24 games that season.

He spent 28 games on the 1951 Giants N.L. Pennant team hitting .235 with 2 HRs but was sent to the Pacific Coast League on July 1st. He would spend five good seasons there before finishing his playing career at Vancouver in 1960.

Retirement: After his playing career he managed at the minor league level in the sixties then moved on to scouting well into his eighties. He passed away in November of 2003 at age 84 in Rancho Cucamonga, California.

Nov 14, 2014

Former Italian /American Mets Player & Current A Ball Coach: Val Pascucci (2011)

Valentino Martin Pascucci was born on November 17th, 1978 in Bellflower, California.

The big six foot six right hander was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers but chose to go to college instead. He attended the University of Oklahoma, playing with the Sooners baseball team as a pitcher going 4-0. 

In 1999 he was drafted by the Montreal Expos as a position player in the 15th round. After playing three years at A ball he hit 27 HRs with 82 RBIs at AA Harrisburg in 2002 although he batted just .235.

In 2004 he made a brief appearance with the Expos in May but was sent back down, where he batted .98 with 25 HRs & 98 RBIs at AAA Edmonton. Pascucci earned a September call up to the major leagues and would play in the final game in Montreal Expos history that October.

The next year he went to play in Japan for two seasons with the Chiba Lotte Marines under Italian /American former Mets manager Bobby Valentine. He returned to the USA playing in 2007, for the Florida Marlins AAA Albuquerque Isotopes team hitting 34 HRs with 98 RBIs.

In 2008 he went over to the Phillies AAA club at Lehigh Valley but was then traded to the New York Mets organization. He hit .290 with 21 HRs & 81 RBIs in 114 games at AAA New Orleans playing right field as well as at first base in 2008.

It seems he was always on the move & after representing Italy in the 2009 World Baseball Classic he went to the Padres & Dodgers organizations.

His numbers fell off to 19 HRs 77 RBIs & a .248 batting average and he was back to the Mets organization as a free agent in January 2010.  

He played 14 games in the Independent League then 72 games at AAA Buffalo hitting 17 HRs for the 2010 Bison’s.

In 2011 he was their first baseman (85 games) & Designated hitter (38 games) hitting 21 HRs with 91 RBIs batting .264. In September at age 32 he got his second chance in the major leagues as a September call up.  

Pascucci debuted as a Met on September 8th as a pinch hitter for Willie Harris, getting a base hit. He would make eleven pinch hit appearances for the 2011 Mets getting three hits (.273).

On September 24th, he hit a game tying, seventh inning pinch hit HR off Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field. The HR turned out to be the game winning 2-1 difference. The next day in the first game of a double header against the same Phillies, he had a pinch hit RBI base hit driving in Jason Pridie. He finished the year batting .273.  

In 2012 he played back at AAA Buffalo hitting 17 HRs with 62 RBIs but batted just .217 in 123 games as the clubs outfielder & first baseman. He was invited to the AAA All Star Game & HR derby which was played in Buffalo, NY. He won the HR derby & was a huge hit with the home town crowd.

He was cut & spent 2013 playing in both the Mexican & Independent Leagues.

In 2014 Pascucci became the hitting coach for the Mets single A team; the Savannah Sand Gnats.

Nov 13, 2014

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

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

Tony hit over .300 three times in the minors getting to the big leagues by 1930. He hit .312 with 22 doubles & 10 HRs in his rookie year, making a big impression. He followed that up with another .300 season (.315) posting a .374 on base percentage, although his power numbers fell off.

In 1932 he got traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers and was back home in New York. He spent four seasons in Brooklyn getting to two All Star games, as the Dodgers main second baseman. In 1934 he had career highs in HRs (14) & RBIs (94) with 32 doubles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Game #2 of the 1959 Series Cuccinello was coaching at third base & was involved at in a controversial play. The Sox had a runner on second & future Met Sherm Lollar on at first base. Al Smith doubled, the first run scored and Cuccinello waved home Lollar to attempt to score. He was thown out by a mile, the Dodgers went on to win the game & eventually the series.

The Chicago press & fans blamed Cuccinello for the loss but his friend Al Lopez stood up for him, saying the odds were against the Dodgers making the play.

He moved on to coach in Detroit in 1967 & in 1968 was part of the winning World Series Tigers team.

Family: Tony is the brother of former New York Giants player Al Cuccinello & the uncle of Sam Mele who went on to manage the Minnesota Twins during their sixties hey days. 

Tony Cuccinello passed away in 1995 of congestive heart failure at the age of 85 in Tampa, Florida.

Alfred Edward Cuccinello was born on August 26, 1914 in Long Island City, Queens, New York. He is the brother of All Star Second baseman Tony Cuccinello who played four seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Tony also played with the Cincinnati Reds, Boston Braves, Chicago White Sox & half a season with the New York Giants (1940).

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

On July 5th back at the Polo Grounds both Cuccinello brothers hit HRs for their respective teams, becoming the first big league brothers to hit HRs in a game while opposing each other. This has only been done six more times since 1935.

Al ended the year batting .248 with 4 HRs & 20 RBIs. Cuccinello booted the ball 13 times in the 48 games he played at second, but turned 26 double plays posting a .964 fielding percentage. He was back at AAA in 1936 where he hit .310 but when his average slipped over the next two seasons he hung ‘em up & retired.
Retirement: After his playing days he became an MLB scout. He moved to Malvern, New York on Long Island. He passed away there at the age of 89 in 1993.