Jan 31, 2016

Remembering NY Giants Hall of Fame Legend: Monte Irvin (1919-2016)

Monte Merrill Irvin was born February 25, 1919 in Haleburg, Alabama but his family soon moved up North. Irvin grew up in West Orange, New Jersey. He was to become became one of just five players from the state of New Jersey to go to the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

He went to West Orange high school and starred in four different sports, setting a state record for javelin throwing. He was offered a scholarship to the University of Michigan but turned it down, because he could not afford to move to Ann Arbor.

He went to play for the Newark Eagles in the Negro Leagues on weekends under a different name to keep his amateur status. In baseball Irvin could do it all and was a five tool player in the style of his future team mate: Willie Mays. 

Irvin was a five time All Star with his home state Newark Eagles in the Negro Leagues, hitting over .400 twice & just missing a third time batting title when he hit .396. He led his team to a championship win over the Kansas City Monarchs as well. He also played in the Mexican League winning an MVP award & a Triple Crown in 1942. 

He then went off to serve in World War II returning in 1945 to hit .400 again and lead Newark to a Championship over the Kansas City Monarchs. Many people believed he should have been the first player to break the color barrier and was probably the best all around player at the time. 

He was approached by Branch Rickey & the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1945 about being signed for the major leagues. As the story goes, Irvin felt he wasn’t ready to play at that level, especially after just leaving the military. Eventually The New York Giants paid $5,000 for his contract he while was playing in Cuba.

He was assigned to their affiliate in Jersey City back near his home town. After batting .373 in 63 games at Jersey City, he was brought up the Giants big league team in July at the age of 30. 

He was mostly used as a pinch-hitter, playing some outfielder, third & first base, going 16-76 in 36 games. In 1950 he started out the year in Jersey City again, but after hitting .510 after 18 games, he arrived in the major leagues for good. 

In just his third game that year, On May 18th, 1950, he hit a grand slam HR off Dutch Leonard of the Chicago Cubs. He drove in five total runs in the 10-4 win. The next day he hit another HR & drove in three more runs. He cooled off into a slump that brought his average below .200 in mid June.

Things got better, especially in August as Irvin had an eleven game hit streak, hit three HRs & drove in 14 runs in the month. In the first two weeks of September he hit five HRs, and had big month with 25 RBIs, falling one point below the .300 mark. On the 1950 season he hit 15 HRs with 19 doubles, five triples, 66 RBIs & a .392 on base %.  

By 1951 Irvin would become one of the star players on the Giants NL Pennant winner. He came in third place in the NL MVP Voting, leading the league in RBIs (121). He hit .312 (5th best in the league) with a .415 on base % (4th best in the league).

He hit 24 HRs (10th in the NL) with 19 doubles & 11 triples (3rd in the NL).. He stole 12 bases (8th in the league) & posted the third best fielding % in the outfield (.996). Irvin would have an important role, as a mentor to a young rookie, 19 year old Willie Mays. 

On April 19th Irvin hit a grand slam HR in Milwaukee, & drove in a total of six runs, although the Giants lost 13-12 to the braves. He fell into a slight slum then took off in May. He would drive in runs in six straight games from May 5th through May 9th, with three of those games being multi run games.

On May 23rd his two run HR at Wrigley Field was all Sal Maglie needed to beat the Cubs 2-1 on a four hitter. In a five day stretch in mid June he drove in ten runs in the midst of a thirteen game hits streak. ON June 12th he hit a three run HR in the top of the 10th inning, off Cincinnati’s Ken Raffensberger for the 6-3 win over the Reds. Later that week, 

On June 18th Irvin’s, single in the top of the 12TH off Cloyd Boyer, drove home Bobby Thomson with the game winning run over the St. Louis Cardinals. He continued to drive in runs & hit throughout the summer. In late August the Giants made their incredible come back from 13 games back to catch the rival Brooklyn Dodgers. On August 12th he drove in all three runs in the Giants 3-2 win over the Phillies. That win sparked an incredible 16 game Giant win streak. 

In the win streak Irvin drove in runs in seven games. On August 27th with the Giants down to the Chicago Cubs 4-3 in the bottom of the 12th inning, Irvin hit a base hit to left field & then scored the game winning run on pitcher Bill Rigney’s base hit. Then in the second game of that days double header, he hit a two run HR leading to a 6-3 Giants win. 

On September 5th he hit a three run HR & drove in four runs in a 9-1 win over the Braves. The next game in a 7-3 win, he hit another HR with three more runs driven in. Two days later he hit drove in both runs with a two run HR off Ralph Branca, to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field 2-1. The win cut the Dodger lead to 5.5 games. 

On September 18th he hit a two run HR helping in a 6-5 win over the Reds at Crosley Field. He then drove in runs in five straight games, all Giants wins, topped off with a three run HR& four RBIs in a 10-1 win at Philadelphia. He drove in runs in five straight games from September 22nd thru the 26th during another Giants win streak, lasting nine games. 

On September 26th he hit a three run HR in the first inning of a 10-1 blowout of the Phillies. On September 30th, he drove in what turned out to be the game winning run, in the 5th inning at Boston to beat the Braves. He drove in another the next day as the Giants kept pace with Brooklyn for the pennant race. 

The Giants & the Dodgers finished in a regular season tie ending the ’51 campaign. A three game playoff series was set to determine the NL Pennant. In the first game, after Bobby Thomson hit a two run HR off Ralph Branca, Irvin added an 8th inning insurance HR in the 3-1 win. In the second game he went 0-4 as the Dodgers tied the series at one game each. 

In the legendary third game, on October 3rd, 1951 led off the 7th inning with a double off Don Newcombe & scored the tying run on Bobby Thomson’s sac fly.

In the bottom of the 9th, he fouled out to Gil Hodges at first base with two runners aboard making the first out of the inning. Next Whitey Lockman doubled & Bobby Thomson followed with the most famous HR in baseball history, sending the Giants to the World Series. 

In the three games he had a hit in each one, drove in a run & scored three runs. Defensively he led all left fielders with a .995 fielding %, making eight assists (4th most in the NL). Post Season: In the 1951 World Series, Irvin had big start gathering up four hits in Game #1. In the first inning he singled & eventually stole home off pitcher Allie Reynolds in the Giants 5-1 win. He would have three more hits the next day in the 3-1 loss across the Harlem River.

In games #4 & #5 he would have two more hits in each game. Overall in the Series he hit .458 (11-24) with two walks & a .500 on base percentage. He drove in two runs, scored three runs, stole two bases & hit a triple. Monte hit .500 (4- 8) in both Games at the Polo Grounds. 

 Trivia: In that 1951 World Series Mont Irvin along with team mates, Willie Mays & Hank Thompson made history, as they formed baseballs first all black outfield.  

In 1952 he broke his ankle in April and was limited to just 46 games all season. He did bat .310 & made his only All Star appearance. In 1953 he was having another MVP type season until an injury to the same leg he had the broken ankle with the previous year affected his play.

In June of 1953 he hit 6 HRs with 30 RBIs, hitting safely in all but three games that month. On July 8TH he cleared the bases with a three run triple in the first inning in a game at Pittsburgh. He later hit a grand slam driving in seven of the Giants ten runs in the 10-7 over the Pirates. That season the Giants finished fifth going 70-74. Irvin finished the year batting .329 with 21 HRs 21 doubles 5 triples & 97 RBIs while posting a .406 on base %. 

In the 1954 Giants Championship season Irvin was already 35 years old & injuries had weakened his strength in his legs. During the first week of the season, he helped beat the rival Brooklyn Dodgers with a HR & a four RBI day in a 6-3 win at Ebbets Field. On May 13th he hit a pair of HRs at the Polo Grounds in a 6-3 win over the Chicago Cubs. He was hitting for lower average but still was driving in runs, as had nine RBIs from May 31st to June 8th.

On June 8th, with the Giants down by a run, his top of the 9th inning double at Milwaukee drove home two runs, leading to the Giants 5-4 win. Starting on July 7th he would hit HRs in four straight games, all Giants wins including a three game sweep of Brooklyn at Ebbetts Field.

He was hitting .286 at the end of July, but then slumped to finish off the year at .262. He only hit two HRs in the final two months, both coming in early September, over a three game stretch where he drove in two runs in each game. 

In 1954 he hit 19 HRs with 13 doubles 3 triples & 64 RBIs. His 70 walks were second on the club to Hank Thompson & helped him post a .363 on base % . 

Post Season: In the 1954 World Series Irvin went hitless in the first three games. He was removed for pinch hitter Dusty Rhodes in Game # in the 10th inning & Rhodes went on to hit a walk off HR. In Game #2 Rhodes pinch hit for him in the 5th inning, & went to drive in all three Giants runs in the 3-1 win. 

In Game #3 he was removed in the 3rd inning in favor of Rhodes. In the final Game #4 of the Giants sweep, he had two hits driving in two runs and scoring another. In the 5th inning he singled off Hal Newhouser driving in the fifth run in the 7-4 Giants win. hit .222 (2-9) seeing less playing time due to his aging & the huge Series Dusty Rhodes was having. 

Overall in his career, Irvin played in two World Series’, batting .394 (13-33) with 13 hits four RBIs & two stolen bases. 

1955 would be his last year with the Giants; he was limited to only 51 games hitting .253 with one HR & 17 RBIs. He spent his final season with the Chicago Cubs after being drafted (Rule V) away from the Giants. 

In his final season he batted .271, with 15 HRs 13 doubles & 50 RBIs while playing in 111 games. 

Trivia: While in New York, he & Willie Mays owned the Wilmont Liquor store located in Washington Heights.

He retired at the age of 37 in 1956 after an eight year playing career in the majors. Lifetime he batted .293, with 731 hits 99 HRs 443 RBIs 366 runs scored 97 doubles & 31 triples in 764 games played with a .383 on base %. 

Quotes: His long time Brooklyn Dodger rival, Roy Campanella once said “Irvin was the best all around player I ever saw”. 

Retirement:  After his playing days he served as a scout for the New York Mets in the late sixties. Then he spent seventeen years (1968-1984) as a public relations specialist for the baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. Irvin was living in Florida during these years.

Honors: In 1973 he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame for his play in both  the major leagues & in the Negro leagues. He also served as a member of the Hall of Fame Veterans & Negro Leagues Committee. 

On June 26th 2010, Irvin’s uniform number was officially retired by the Giants in a ceremony at AT&T Park. Irvin joined fellow Giants Hall of Famers; Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry & Orlando Cepeda in tossing out the ceremonial first pitch of the 2010 World series.

In January 2016, Monte Irvin passed away in Houston, Texas at the age of 96. He was living in Texas in a retirement community for some time. Prior to his death Irvin was the oldest living member of a World Series team.

Jan 30, 2016

1999 NL Wild Card Mets Reserve Player: Jorge Toca (1999-2001)

Jorge Luis Toca was born on January 7, 1975 in Villa Clara, Cuba. The six foot three, right hand hitting Cuban defector was signed by the New York Mets in 1998 as an amateur free agent.

The first baseman /outfielder quickly got to the Mets big league club, as a September call up during their 1999 Wild Card season. He debuted on September 12th, getting a hit in his first MLB at bat, a single in a 10-3 Mets win at Dodger Stadium. He would play in just four games, going 0-3, being used mostly as a pinch hitter.

In the Mets 2000 NL Pennant season, Toca was at AAA Norfolk  batting .272 getting another September call up. He got into eight games and batted .429 (3-7).

His moment in the sun came on Saturday, September 30th in a game against the Montreal Expos at Shea Stadium. Toca hit a line drive bases loaded double to left center field off Javier Vazquez, clearing the bases to help lift New York to a 4-2 victory. The next day he got another pinch closing out the regular season with a 3-2 win at Montreal.

He made no post season appearances but did return in 2001 for 13 games, only batting .176 and not returning to the big leagues again.

Trivia: At the plate Toca held the bat very loosely & on more than one occasion had it fly out of his hands into the stands.

In 2003 his contract was purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates but he was soon released. After minor league stints with four more teams he was found guilty of violating the minor league drug policy & was suspended. He was last seen playing in the Mexican League in 2008.

Former Mets Back Up Catcher / Infielder: Alex Trevino (1978-1981)

Alex Castro Trevino was born on August 26, 1957 in Monterrey Mexico. The New York Mets purchased his contract in 1974 when he was just 16 years old. The five foot ten, catcher never batted over .240 in the minors until 1978.

That year he hit .294 at AAA Tidewater leading the club in hitting. He earned a September call up getting inserted as a defensive replacement on September 11th in a game vs. the Chicago Cubs. At the end of the month he started his first game catching pitcher Mike Bruhert in a game at Wrigley Field. He got his first career hit, that day and went 2-4 the next day finishing the year batting .280 in six games.

In 1979 the 21 year old Trevino became a versatile utility player, mostly backing up John Stearns behind the plate in 36 games. With his strong arm, he had the league’s best percentage of throwing out would be base stealers for two seasons. In 1979 he threw out 48% of base runners trying to steal & also played 27 games at third base. in 1979 & 14 in 1980. On June 11th he doubled off the Cincinnati Reds Fred Norman with the Mets down 2-0, and helped lead them to a 3-2 win.

On June 17th 1979 he singled off the Atlanta Braves ace reliever Gene Garber in the bottom of the 9th inning driving in Lee Mazzilli with the Mets game winning run. On July 24th he had another big hit, a single scoring Joel Youngblood in the top of the 12 inning in San Francisco. John Stearns would drive him home in what turned out to be the games winning run. In mid August he drove in runs in three straight games, including a three RBI day in Atlanta in the Mets 18-5 win.

In 1979 Trevino hit .271 with no HRs 11 doubles & 20 RBIs on the season. He never hit a HR in his Mets career (256 at bats) which lasted parts of five seasons.

In 1980 he had Mets career highs in games (106) as main backstop John Stearns battled through many injuries. On June 28th in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Trevino singled home Joel Youngblood & Steve Henderson tying up the game 4-4. The Mets would win it in the top of the 9th on a Henderson RBI single. Trevino drove in runs in three straight games in July, and still had his average up over the .300 mark for the season. In August he drove in two runs in a tight game against the Pittsburgh Pirates leading Ray Burris to a 3-1 win.

At the end of the month he also had a pair of double RBI games coming against the Giants in San Francisco. He had a good September driving in tens runs, finishing the year batting .256 with 11 doubles & 37 RBIs. Behind the plate he threw out a league leading 43% of would be base stealers.

In 1981 he saw half the playing time, due to injuries and batted .262 with 10 RBIs. In 45 games he threw out 41 % of would be base stealers while posting a .963 fielding %.

In the off season he was the main chip, in the deal that brought George Foster to Shea Stadium. He went to the Cincinnati Reds along with Greg Harris & a washed up Jim Kern. Trevino would remain in the majors for nine more seasons bouncing around to the Cincinnati Reds (1982-1984) & Atlanta Braves (1984).

In Atlanta he drove in 28 runs playing in 79 games batting .243. He then went to the San Francisco Giants (1985), Los Angeles Dodgers (1986 & 1987) where he was battery mate of fellow Mexican, pitcher Fernando Valenzuela. He then went to the Houston Astros (1988-1990), there he hit a career high .290 in 131 at bats. He made a brief return signing with the New York Mets in 1990 as a free agent.

He appeared in just nine games that season, going 2-5 as a pinch hitter. Trevino also appeared in eight innings over seven games behind the plate. He was released that August & finished his career playing seven games for the Reds later in 1990. In a 13 year career Trevino was a lifetime .249 hitter with 604 hits, 23 HRs 117 doubles a .310 on base % & 244 RBIs. After years of being among the best in the league at throwing out base runners, he finished his career with a 35% average nailing runners trying to steal on him.

Retirement: Trevino remained in the Astros organization moving into broadcasting. He has been an analyst for the Houston Astros Spanish radio broadcasts for 15 seasons.

Jan 29, 2016

Remembering Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane / Jefferson Starship (1941-2016)

This week Rock & Roll lost yet another classic legendary artist. The past few months have been rough in the Rock world as we have lost many great artist, some bigger than others but all have had an impact on music or more importantly to this site to centerfieldmaz.

Paul Kantner was born March 17th, 1941 in San Francisco California. He attended a Catholic High School & then finished three years of College between the University of Santa Clara & San Jose State. At an early age he developed a love for science fiction & music. He dropped out of college to enter the music scene & sing protest songs, as he was a fan of Pete Seeger.

Kantner was a very outspoken political anarchist & counter culture advocate. Early on he was an openly admitting drug user, particularly marijuana & psychedelics. Later in life he changed his tune saying "As you get older and accomplish more things in life in general, you realize that drugs don't help, particularly if you abuse them."

The San Francisco music scene was very happening in the mid sixties & about to explode into helping forge main stream Rock & Roll. Janis Joplin, David Crosby & Jerry Garcia were among the many music people Kantner became friendly with. In 1965 he met Marty Balin who was starting to form the Jefferson Airplane.

Trivia: The name origins of the name Jefferson Airplane is disputed. Some say that it was taken from the slang "Jefferson airplane" which is a home made roach clip using a matchstick to smoke a marijuana joint as it got too small to hold. Jorma Kaukonen said it came from a take on old blues names like Blind Lemon Jefferson.

Kantner & Balin recruited female singer; Signe Toly Anderson into the band in a somewhat ground breaking move that is very much over looked through time. She & Balin would share the lead vocals. Next Kantner reached out to his old guitarist friend from San Jose; Jorma Kaukonen to join as well. Kaukonen then got his old pal from Washington D.C. bassist Jack Cassidy to join next. The Airplanes first drummer was Skip Spence (who went on to form Moby Grape) he was replaced by Spencer Dryden. The band played all the San Francisco music clubs (The Filmore, the Matrix,The Avalon Ballroom) & earned a huge local name for themselves.

In 1966 they released their first album, a folk rock album: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. It sold well going gold even though the band had not played outside of the Bay Area. In October 1966, Signe Anderson became a mother & left the group. Her replacement was an already known female Bay Area singer, who was in a band called the Great Society with her brother in law, Darby Slick.

The chick was Grace Slick, who would help push the Airplane forward into huge commercial success, as she herself would become a pioneeress for Women in Rock & Roll. 

She brought two songs originally written by her "White Rabbit" & Darby Slicks "Somebody to Love". These songs would be huge top ten hits & forever classics breaking the band into the mainstream of the changing music scene.

Their classic 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow, sold a million copies & reached #3 on the charts. The Airplane led the way for the San Francisco groups, along with Janis Joplin (Big Brother & the Holding Co.), the Grateful Dead, Santana, Quick Silver Messenger Service, the Beau Brummels, Sly & Family Stone, Blue Cheer, Country Joe & the Fish, the Steve Miller Band & one of the first all girl bands The Ace of Cups to name a few.

This & the major music festivals, The Human Be-In at Golden Gate Park & The Monterey Pop Festival ushered in the Summer of Love & the influx of hippies & youth to the Haight Ashbury section of San Francisco.

The band purchased a house at 2400 Fulton Street across from Golden Gate Park, where they lived & conducted business. The house & its tales are legendary.

Grace Slick & Paul Kantner 1966

The Airplane played all the major Festivals mentioned, as well as Woodstock in 1969 as one if its headliners. The band was due on Saturday night but didn't get on stage until sunrise of Sunday morning. Later that year they played at Altamont Raceway outside Frisco supporting the Rolling Stones.

This show was a disaster as Hells Angels hired as security killed a man. During the Airplanes set, Marty Balin was knocked out by a Hells Angel trying to stop them from beating another person. Kantner appears in the film on stage very angry at the situation.

The Airplane would get more attention appearing on television shows such as American Bandstand, The Smothers Brothers, the Dick Cavett Show & Johnny Carson. They also received attention from articles in Newsweek & Life Magazine as the scene grew larger.

Trivia: In April 1967 Paul McCartney visited San Francisco & jammed a bit with Kantner & Jorma Kaukonen. Macca had a hard time with Jack Cassidy's bass & it is legend the three then took an acid trip together.

Their commercial success reached it peak & they may have never captured the genius of Surrealistic Pillow again but they continued on still putting out good music & were very popular. Their 1968 album Crown of Creation reached #6 on the charts.

Trivia: On the morning of December 7th, 1968 the band was filmed by Jean Luc Godard playing live on the rooftop of the Schuyler Hotel in New York City. The noise led to the Police shutting down the operation & taking them in, since no permits were ever issued to film or perform. This was almost a year prior to the Beatles famous rooftop performance in London.

1969's Volunteers reached #13. The Volunteers album featured guests Jerry Garcia, Nicky Hopkins, Steven Stills, David Crosby & the Ace of Cups. Two songs featured curse words & made the album controversial. The song "We Can Be So Good Together"  had the lyric "up against the wall mother fu@#er" & "Eskimo Blue Day where Slick sings "it doesn't mean shit to a tree".

Grace Slick had love affairs with everyone in the band (except Marty Balin) & by the late sixties she & Kantner fell in love. The two were labeled "The Psychedelic John & Yoko", in 1971 their child  China Wing Kantner (who later became an actress & MTV VJ) was born. In the mid seventies, Slick would eventually leave Kantner & marry a Jefferson Starship roadie Skip Johnson.

 Jefferson Airplane: Woodstock:

Domestic Battle: Slick was once arrested after an argument with Kantner, as she was intoxicated. She tossed their car keys on to some ones lawn & was later spotted by the cops screaming & intoxicated crawling on the lawn searching for the keys.

The Airplane took a break after China's birth, Slick & Kantner recorded a bit together celebrating China's birth. In 1970 they released "Blows Against The Empire" credited to Jefferson Starship, a sci fi rock experience led by Kantner's love of the two art forms (much like Gene Simmons of KISS). By 1973 Kaukonen & Cassidy left Airplane, devoting all their time to their Hot Tuna project. Dryden had already left after Woodstock.

Trivia: Kantner wrote many of the Airplane's early songs, including The Ball of You Me & Pooneil" "Watch Her Ride" "Crown of Creation" 'Martha" "Wild Tyme" & "We Can Be Together" He & Balin wrote "Today" & "Volunteers". He also co-wrote Crosby Stills & Nash's "Wooden Ships" with them.

The group now officially became the Jefferson Starship. Kantner would be the longest tenured member of the band there from the start to 1984, then returning in 1992- until his death in 2016.

Grace Slick would stay with the band until 1978 & then returned in 1981 to 1984). Marty Balin, the other main member was there from 1974-1978 & again (1993-2008). Bassist, guitarist, keyboardist & singer David Freiberg was with the band from 1974-1984. Other members came & went which also led the band to many different sound variations.

Jefferson Starship 1975
Jefferson Starship: Their main success came in the 1970s with albums such as Dragon Fly (1974) the multi platinum #1 Red Octopus (1975) featuring Balin's "Miracles" which reached #3 on the charts. Spitfire (1976) which reached #3, also going platinum featuring the hit "With Your Love".

Kantner with Jerry Garcia
Earth (1978) reached #5 on the charts, it featured two top ten hits "Count On Me" & "Runaway". This led to a long awaited tour, due to the fact that Balin didn't want to tour. But the Earth tour was a disaster due to Grace Slicks drinking problems, which came to a head in Germany as a riot broke out & the bands equipment was stolen. Kanter eventually had to ask Slick to officially resign.

Freedom At Point Zero (1979) pushed the band to a new direction with singer Mickey Thomas, it was highlighted by the great rocker Jane (#14 hit).

In 1980 Kantner suffered a cerebral hemorrhage at age 39.  He had a serious head injury from a motor cycle accident in the early sixties & the hole in his head left by that accident helped him from serious complications recovering from the hemorrhage.

The early eighties featured a more pop sound with Thomas, also Slick returned in 1981. Kantner left the band in 1984 saying "I think we would be terrible failures trying to write pop songs all the time. … The band became more mundane and not quite as challenging and not quite as much of a thing to be proud of".

He took out  lawsuit preventing the band to use the name Jefferson Starship which resulted in Starship. Under the terms of the settlement, no group can call itself Jefferson Starship without Paul Kantner as a member. Grace Slick had a huge pop hit with Starship "We Built This City" which reached #1.

Kantner with band mate Marty Balin
Kantner joined Balin & Jack Casady for the short lived KBC band in the mid eighties. In 1988 during a Hot Tuna San Francisco gig, Kantner, Balin & Slick all played for the first time since the early seventies. A short reunion tour followed but nothing more ever came of it except a live album.

In 1996 the Airplane were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The original band (with Dryden) all except Slick (who was suffering from a leg infection) played together for the first time since Woodstock. A VH1 Behind the Music was done on the Airplane the next year.

Kantner continued with various versions of Jefferson Starship until his death. They were never a mainstream band again due to all the line up changes. Even with Balin they were nothing like they were in the old days.

In March 2015 he suffered a heart attack, the band carried on without him but he did return  as his band celebrated the Jefferson Airplane's 50th Anniversary with a few small venue club dates. On January 28the 2016, Kantner passed away in San Francisco, due to multiple organ failure and septic shock after he had suffered anther heart attack days earlier. He was 74.

Quotes- Grace Slick: "Rest in peace my friend. Love Grace."

Marty Balin: "So many memories rushing through my mind now. So many moments that he and I opened new worlds. He was the first guy I picked for the band, and he was the first guy who taught me how to roll a joint. And although I know he liked to play the devil's advocate, I am sure he has earned his wings now. Sai Ram 'Go with God.'"

Jefferson Starship on Fridays 1981

Jan 28, 2016

Mid Sixties Mets Reserve Outfielder: Tommie Reynolds (1967)

Tommie D. Reynolds was born on August 15th, 1941in Arizona, Louisiana. The six foot two right hand hitting outfielder was signed by the Kansas City A's in 1963.

Reynolds played parts of three seasons with the Kansas City A's, seeing the most action in 1965 (90 games) batting just .237. In 1966 he played in the Pacific Coast League at Vancouver batting .248. That November he was drafted Rule V by the New York Mets.

Reynolds would be the fourth outfielder for the 1967 Mets team, that finished up in tenth place at 61-101 under Wes Westrum (151 games) & Salty Parker (11 games).

He debuted for the Mets on Opening Day 1967 entering the game in the 8th inning & playing left field. In the third game of the year he homered for the only Mets run against the Phillies at Connie Mack stadium. Reynolds struggled to bat near .200 most of the year.

On June 18th, in a game at Shea Stadium against the Chicago Cubs, Reynolds hit a walk off tenth inning HR off future Met Cal Koonce. Three days later his 1st inning sac fly was one of two Mets runs, that helped Jack Fisher beat the Phillies Jim Bunning 2-0 in a tight game in Philadelphia. On a August 17th double header he collected five hits against the Pittsburgh Pirates, with a pair of RBIs overall, helping the Mets to a 6-5 win in the first game.
Reynolds fin
ished the year batting .206 with 2 HRs one double a .278 on base % & nine RBIs. He played in 72 outfield games with New York. That off season he was taken away, Rule V by the Oakland A's.

In a full season there playing in 107 games he hit .257 playing outfield alongside Reggie Jackson & Rick Monday. From there he went to the California Angels for two seasons & then ended his career with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1972. Reynolds played eight years batting .226 with 265 hits 12 HRs 35 doubles a .306 on base % & 87 RBIs.

Retirement: After his playing days he coach with the Oakland A's (1989-1995) winning a World Series there in the 1989 Earthquake Series in the Bay Area. He then coached in St. Louis in 1996 under Tony Larussa just as in Oakland.

Family: Reynolds is the cousin of former MLB player Floyd Robinson who played nine years in the major leagues as an outfielder. Floyd played seven seasons with Chicago White Sox, hitting over .300 there three times in the sixties. 

Robinson was third in the Rookie of the Year voting in 1961 & made the Topps All Star Rookie Team. He would receive votes for the MVP Award four times in his career. In 1962 he led the AL in RBIs batting .312 (third in the NL) with 109 RBIs (4th in the NL) & 11 HRs. That year he led the Midwest League in batting .332 with a .384 on base % & tied for the lead in RBIs (88). He hit .301 again in 1964 for the last time.

In 1967 he played with the Cincinnati Reds then in 1968 he played for both the Oakland A's & The Boston Red Sox. Robinson was a lifetime .283 hitter with 67 HRs 426 RBIs & a .36 on base %.

Mid Sixties Mets Pitcher: Darrell Sutherland (1964-1966)

Darrell Wayne Sutherland was born on November 14, 1941 in Glendale, California. The tall 6’ 4” lanky right hander, attended Stanford University, getting signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1963. The next year he was selected as a first year waiver pick by the New York Mets. The youngster went 10-1 at AAA Buffalo that season getting brought up to the Mets staff in late June. 

On June 28th, 1964 Sutherland debuted against the Milwaukee Braves, getting knocked out in the first inning, allowing five earned runs walking two batters. On July 2nd he made a start at the Astrodome, pitching five solid innings allowing two runs, but the Mets only scored one run for him & Sutherland was given another loss. 

He was placed in the bullpen the rest of the month, getting a start on July 23rd losing to the Reds in Cincinnati. By August 8th he was 0-3 & had given up a total of 26 runs in 26 innings pitched in his ten appearances (7.76 ERA). It was a classic example of a young pitcher brought up to early, even though he was not ready for the big leagues. 

In 1965 Sutherland was 8-8 at AAA Buffalo with a 3.99 ERA. The Mets were still in need of pitching & he was brought back up in early August. He earned his first career win at the Houston Astrodome pitching four scoreless innings of a 1-0 win, where Ron Hunt reached on an error with the bases loaded scoring Chuck Hiller. 

He earned two more relief wins in late September, both coming on the road at Chicago & Pittsburgh. He appeared in 18 games mostly in mid relief, finishing up 3-1 with a 2.31 ERA. 

In 1966 he made the Mets staff out of Spring Training & spent most of the year with the big league club. On April 26th he was credited with a hold, although he gave up three runs at Wrigley Field in the Mets 14-11 win. 

Three days later he notched a save in Pittsburgh but was sent back down to AAA for two months due to his 7.76 ERA. When he returned he struggled but posted a 2-0 record, allowing 60 hits with 25 walks in only 44 innings pitched, posting a 4.67 ERA in 31 appearances on the year. 

In 1967 he went 6-3 at AA Williamsport, fourth best on the team. In November of 1967 he was drafted away by the Cleveland Indians & pitched three games for them at the major league level in 1968, posting an 8.10 ERA. He pitched in the minors through 1969 with AAA Portland. In his brief four year career he was 5-4 winning all his games in relief & losing all his games as a starter. 

He posted a 4.78 career ERA with 11 saves, 50 strikeouts & 58 walks allowed in 122 innings in 62 appearances. At the plate he was a good hitter batting .238 lifetime going 5-21.