Dec 30, 2017

centerfieldmaz Top Albums of 2017






The DARK ELEMENT (featuring Anette Olzon)

















ROLLING STONES - ON AIR (BBC Performances 1963-1964)



Dec 15, 2017

Mets Player From the Original 1962 Team: Neil Chrisley (1962)

Barbra O'Neil Chrisley was born on December 16, 1931 in Calhoun Falls, South Carolina. He was a local high school star playing with the Calhoun Falls Clippers leading them to a 1950 State Championship. In the final game Neil as he had become known, hit a HR to help lead his team to the title victory.

The tall six foot three outfielder also played Football & basketball in high school One week after his high school graduation he was signed by the Boston Red Sox & had batting practice with Ted Williams.

He had a long minor league career, getting traded to the Washington Senators organization in 1955. Over the years he played in the Mexican League where he caught a dangerous virus, in which he lost 15 pounds. He also played winter ball in Cuba the following winter during the dangerous period when Fidel Castro took over power of the country.

Chrisley began 1957 with the Senators big league club, catching President Eisenhower ceremonial first pitch to start off the season. He made his debut as a pinch hitter for Camillo Pasqual on April 25th, in the 11th inning against the brand new Baltimore Orioles club.

He singled in that at bat but was soon back in the minors. The rest of the year he batted .343 (second in the league) with Indianapolis in AAA, making it back to the Senators for the 1958 season.

He hit his first career HR that May, as a pinch hitter against Bob Turley & the A.L. New York team, in the Bronx & hit two more HRs in his next three games. Unfortunately he only batted .215 with 5 HRs in 105 games on the season & was traded with Rocky Bridges and Eddie Yost to the Detroit Tigers for Reno Bertoia, Jim Delsing and Ron Samford.

He became a reserve outfielder & pinch hitter the rest of his career, having his best season in 1960. In 1959 he hit a career high 6 HRs but only batted a weak .132 in 106 at bats. The next year he hit .255 with 5 HRs & 24 RBIs in 220 at bats, posting a .981 fielding % in the outfield. In a game against his old Boston teammates, he singled in the first inning off future Mets pitching coach Bill Monbouquette. It was the only hit Monbo allowed the rest of the day.

At the end of the season he was drafted as the 44th pick of the Los Angeles in expansion draft but was returned a few hours later. He was traded to the Milwaukee Braves where he saw action in his last 10 MLB games in 1961 going 2-9 as a pinch hitter.

In October of 1961 his contract was purchased by the expansion New York Mets, & he did attend the clubs very first Spring Training making him an original Met. In at least one game he made headlines by getting three hits in a game against Washington. Even though Chrisley still couldn’t make the ’62 Mets squad out of Spring Training, he did get himself on a 1962 Topps Mets baseball card.

He was returned back to the Braves on April 2, 1962. Chrisley also came in fourth place in the first annual players Bowling tournament, competing against 64 other major league players from various spring training camps that March.

Chrisley went on to hit 60 plus HRs in his final three minor league seasons, finishing his playing career in 1964 with a .286 minor league average In 302 major league games over five seasons he batted .210 with 16 HRs & 64 RBIs.

Retirement: After baseball he sold insurance in Greenwood, South Carolina where resided until his passing in May of 2013.

In 2014 Calhoun Falls high school placed him in the schools Hall of Fame & the charter school named their baseball field named in his honor where he starred in the 1940's.

Dec 14, 2017

Former A.L. MVP & Short Time Met: Mo Vaughn (2002-2003)

Maurice Samuel Vaughn was born on December 15, 1967 in Norwalk, Connecticut.

He is a cousin to former MLB player, four time All Star Greg Vaughn who played 15 seasons Greg with Milwaukee (1989-1996) San Diego (1996-1998) Cincinnati (1999) Tampa (2000-2002) & Colorado (2003) hit 355 HRs with 284 doubles 1072 RBIs & a .242 average.

The six foot one, 220 pound Mo Vaughn, went to high school in Pawling, New York starring in baseball. Mo attended Seton Hall University in South Orange New Jersey & was a teammate of future MLB All Star Craig Biggio.

In his freshman year he was named the Big East Freshman of the year with 28 HRs & 90 RBIs. After another successful sophomore season, his numbers dropped as pitchers began to pitch around him more.

He was still a top prospect & was selected in the first round of the 1989 draft by the Boston Red sox as a first baseman, the 23rd pick overall. He hit 22 HRs at AAA Pawtucket in 1992, his second year in the monors & the next year got his MLB call up.

Vaughn became the Red Sox regular first baseman in 1992 playing in 113 games with 13 HRs & a .234 average. In 1993 he began to emerge as big name player with 29 HRs with 101 RBIs. After an injury limited him to 111 games the following season he returned to have two monster seasons.

In 1995 he won the AL MVP Award, making his first All Star team, leading the league in RBIs (126) with 39 HRs 28 doubles 3 triples a .300 batting average, a .388 on base % & even 11 stolen bases. He also led the league with 150 strikeouts and would strike out over 150 times the next three seasons. In the post season he went 0-15 against the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS.

The next season he put up even bigger number during baseballs inflated stats era; 44 HRs (4th in the AL) 143 RBIs (3rd in the AL) 207 hits (4th in the AL) 29 doubles, a .420 on base % & a .326 batting average (10th in the AL). The big numbers continued the next two years as well, batting over .300 and putting up on base percentages over .400% for the fourth time during his big years in Boston.

In 1998 his last season in Boston, he made his last All Star team, hit 40 HRs with 31 doubles 115 RBIs & a .402 on base % (6th in the AL). In that year’s ALDS he hit two HRs in the Red Sox Game #1 11-3 victory, overall he batted .412 with seven RBIs against the Cleveland Indians in that series.

He did a lot of charity work and was a pretty popular player in Boston at first, but he soon had issues with the media & the front office. He kept saying the conservative Sox didn’t want him around because he was outspoken.

Some of his drama included punching a guy out at a night club in Boston & a car accident after leaving a strip club in Rhode Island. After the 1999 season he signed a two year deal as a free agent with the Anaheim Angels. In his first season there he hit 33 HRs with 108 RBIs but his batting average fell to .281.

In 2000 he hit 36 HRs with 117 RBIs & a .272 average. Vaughn missed the entire 2001 season due to injury & his bat was missed in the Angels line up. Mets GM Steve Phillips wanted Vaughn badly as he was rebuilding the team with the additions of Roberto Alomar, Jeromy Burnitz & the return of Roger Cedeno.

Phillips brought Bobby Valentine a Connecticut resident, as well as some Mets brass to Connecticut to watch Vaughn hit off a tee. It was risky but the GM was convinced Mo was ready to play again. The Vaughn trade & the previously mentioned Mets additions all led to Phillips firing as they all failed.

After Christmas in 2001 Mo Vaughn was traded to the New York Mets for Kevin Appier. The Mets took a gamble hoping he could return to his MVP form of a few years ago & hit some long HRs at Shea Stadium.

When he left California Angels closer Troy Percival said "We may miss Mo's bat, but we won't miss his leadership. Darin Erstad is our leader." The mild mannered Vaughn exploded saying the Angels haven’t ever won anything big, so they should shut up. Of course that was the year they went on to win their first World Series.

Mo Vaughn started out hitting a HR in the second game of the season & was batting .311 at the end of April. In June during an interleague game against the Kansas City Royals, a Joe Randa error in the bottom of the 9th inning made Vaughns ground ball the game winner as the final run scored. The next month on July 26th, Vaughn's single in the bottom of the 9th was the walk off game winning hit against the Cincinnati Reds.

One of his biggest highlights on the season was hitting a three run HR off David Wells on Sunday Night Baseball helping the Mets take two of three games in the Subway Series against their cross town rivals.

At All Star break he had only 10 HRs & was hitting just .250 as the press ate him up & the fans began to boo him. It was clear the Mo Vaughn deal wasn’t going to work out. The Mets had been to the World Series two seasons before & wanted a return trip to the post season.

There were big expectations for Vaughn & company to fill, and they could not deliver. In late September the big guy hit one of Shea Stadiums longest HRs as he belted one into the large Bud sign on the huge Shea Stadium right field scoreboard.

Mo ended the year at .259 with 26 HRs & 72 RBIs (both second on the club to Mike Piazza) & 18 doubles, striking out 145 times. After just 27 games in 2003 a knee injury ended his season & his 12 season playing career.

He finished with a lifetime .293 batting average 1620 hits 328 HRs 270 doubles 1064 RBIs 725 walks 1429 strikeouts & & .383 on base%.

Retirement: After his playing days Vaughn started up a company called OMNI NY LLC.
The company rehabilitates & manages distressed properties in the New York metropolitan area while offering affordable housing. The company is also involved in projects in Boston, Miami, Las Vegas & Cheyenne.

Dec 9, 2017

Former Italian / American Player: Pretzel Pezzulo (1935-1936)

John Pretzel Pezzullo was born to an Italian American family, on December 10, 1910 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He earned the name Pretzel because of his strange twisty wind up & delivery. He began it with a high leg kick then he would drop down with a side arm delivery, totally confusing the hitter.

He started out in the New York Giants organization but was traded to the Phillies with Blondy Ryan & George Watkins for Dick Bartell. He only pitched one season at the minor league level going 16-4, before making it to the big leagues in 1935.

His stuff probably wasn’t all that good for the majors, because he only lasted two brief seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies. Prtezel was bit wild as well, walking 45 batters with hit seven hit by with pitches (5th in the league) in just 84 innings, going 6-4 with a 6.40 ERA in 45 games.

The next season he only appeared in one game, walking six batters in two innings. Next he was back in the minors, and won 26 games at Savannah in the South Atlantic League. He pitched in the minors until 1941 eventually settling in Dallas Texas where he passed away at the age of 80.

Dec 5, 2017

Italian/ American Mets Player Turned Coach: Larry Bowa (1985)

Lawrence Robert Bowa was born December 6, 1945 in Sacramento, California. His dad was an infielder in the St. Louis Cardinals organization but never played in the big leagues.

Bowa didn’t make his high school baseball team & while at Sacramento City College only had the Phillies interested in him. When the scouts went to see him, the fiery Bowa got thrown out of the game for arguing. Bowa has always had an excited personality as a player, coach & manager later in his career.
He always had a quick temper & has been known to throw an occasional water cooler & get tossed out of games.

Eventually the Philadelphia Phillies signed the young Bowa as an amateur free agent in 1965. The sure handed, solid fielding short stop hit .300 in his first minor league season. He played in the minors for five years & after batting .287 in 1969 made the 1970 Phillies team.

In 1970 he came in third in the Rookie of the Year voting batting .250 with 24 stolen bases, but it was his fielding that would make Bowa a solid big league player.

He became one of the National Leagues best short stops in the seventies, winning two gold gloves, making five All Star teams & leading the league in fielding six times. In 1979, he even set an MLB record for shortstops with a .991 fielding average.

Bowa put in a few good offensive seasons at the plate as well. He batted over .280 four times, including one .300 season in 1975. He was a good base runner, stealing 20 or more bases in nine different seasons. He would steal thirty or more bases three times, putting up the NL's best stole base average in 1977.

In 1972 Bowa hit .250 but led the league in sac hits (18) & triples with 13. He would come in the leagues top ten, five different times hitting triples. Bowa was a fine base runner stealing over twenty bases nine times in his career. In 1974 he stole a career high 39 bases (8th in the league), while hitting .275.

In 1975 he hit over .300 for the only time in his career (.305).  Bowa was a fine singles & sacrifice situation hitter. He would be in the NL's top five in sac hits four times & singles three times. He led the league in singles (153) in 1978. Being atop the lineup often, he was in the top ten in at bats six times, leading the league with 650 in 1971.

Bowa played in Philadelphia for 12 seasons, alongside Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt after his arrival in 1973. Together they led the Phillies to five NL Eastern Titles & one World Series victory in 1980.

Post Season: In his first two NLCS appearances he only had three hits in 25 at bats, posting a .125 batting average. In the 1978 NLCS Bowa hit .333 with six hits, two runs scored & a walk against the NL Champion L.A. Dodgers.

In the 1980 NLCS against the Houston Astros, he batted .316 with two runs scored. In the final Game #5, with the Phillies down 5-2, Bowa started an 8th inning rally with a base hit. He scored when Nolan Ryan walked Pete Rose with the bases loaded.

1980 World Series: In the 1980 World Series against the Kansas City Royals, Bowa hit .375 with nine hits, three stolen bases & two RBIs. He drove in a run in Game #2 with a base hit off Larry Gura and another in Game #4  off Dennis Leonard. Bowa had a three hit day in Game #3, which the Royals won 4-3. He added two more in the next game, in the Phil's 5-4 win in Game #5 .

By 1981 he wasn’t getting along with Phillies management any longer & expressed his intent to be traded. His former manager Dallas Green was now a GM in Chicago with the Cubs. He dealt Ivan DeJesus for Bowa, but demanded a youngster named Ryne Sandberg be involved in the deal.

Bowa's veteran leadership helped mentor Sandberg & got the Cubs to the post season in 1984. Bowa hit just .200 that year. In 1985 he was released by the Cubs in August & was quickly picked up by the New York Mets.

Everyone seems to forget Bowa finished his long 16 year career with the Mets. Bowas made his Mets debut on August 23rd, going 0-4 in a 3-0 loss to the San Diego Padres. The next day he got one of his two Mets hits. In 14 games in New York he went 2-19 (.105) with two RBIs, both of them coming on September 13th at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Bowa played at second base in his final game & was on deck as Rusty Staub recorded the last out of the Mets 1985 season.

Bowa finished his career with 8414 at bats (113th all time) 2191 hits (191st all time) 1815 singles (82nd all time) 151 sacrifice hits (171st all time) 262 doubles 99 triples 15 HRs, 525 RBIs & a .260 batting average.

Defensively he is 7th all time in games played at short (2222) twelfth in fielding % (.980) ninth in assists (6857) & eleventh in double plays turned (1265).

Retirement: After his playing days he became manager of the San Diego Padres (1987-1988) then went back to his old Phillies team as a coach from 1989-1996.

He became their manager in 2001 winning the Manager of the Year Award, finishing in second place. But after failing to make the post season in three seasons, was fired in 2004 after just ten games.

He became a coach for the Anaheim Angels, A.L. New York club, Seattle Mariners & L.A. Dodgers under Joe Torre in 2008. He has been named the bench coach for the Phillies in the 2014 season, under new manager Ryne Sandberg, whom he mentored back in the early eighties.

In June 2014 he ripped into his Phillies team on local radio, saying the were not playing big league baseball. Bowa singled out Dominick Brown, saying he had five or six good weeks last year & if it was up to him he wouldn't be playing now. He also said pitcher; Roberto Hernandez needed to get deeper into games “if you’ve got a big league uniform on, you gotta go more than five innings.”

In 2015 Sandberg resigned & Bowa remained bench coach under new skipper Pete Mackanin. In late August of 2015 the 69 year old Bowa, went on another tirade, this time against the New York Mets. It caused a bench clearing incident after Met pitcher Hansel Robles threw a quick pitch to Phillie Darin Ruf. 

Bowa has also worked for ESPN & Sirius XM on the MLB Channel.