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

Remembering Mets History (1988) Mets Hit Record Six Opening Day HRs & Straw Hits Longest Ever @ Stade Olympique

Opening Day '88 Monday April 4th,1988: An exciting Opening Day in Montreal brought 55,413 Canadians out to Olympic Stadium (Stade Olympique) to see Buck Rogers' Expos host Davey Johnson's New York Mets.

The previous year the Expos won 91 games (91-71) finishing in third place four games behind the St. Louis Cardinals & just one game behind the second place Mets (92-70).

Todays starters were the Mets Dwight Gooden &  the Expos, Dennis Martinez. Gooden would be an 18 game winner for the 1988 NL Eastern Champion Mets, while Martinez would go on to win 15 games & win 14 games or more in six of the next seven seasons.

Starting Lineups

Former Met Hubie Brooks put the Expos on board fist with an RBI single. In the 2nd, Darryl Strawberry started out his season with a HR, to tie the game. In the 3rd, Lenny Dykstra walked, stole second & advanced to third on a balk. Kevin McReynolds then singled, bringing in his first run of the year.

In the 4th Howard Johnson singled & short stop Kevin Elster hit a HR putting the Mets up 4-1. The Expos would chip away at Gooden to tie it 4-4 after five innings.

In the Mets 6th, Gary Carter singled & Dave Magadan walked, setting the stage for Lenny Dykstra's two run HR to make it 7-4.

The Mets were not done yet, with Randy St. Claire on in relief in the 7th, Strawberry connected with a mammoth HR, estimated to travel up to 525 feet from home plate. The blast reached a set of lights on the upper rim of the ballparks dome.

It is considered to be the longest HR ever hit at Olympic Stadium. It was his second HR of the day. The next batter, Kevin McReynolds followed with another HR, giving the Mets an Opening Day record of six HRs on the day.

Hubie Brooks was not done taunting the Mets yet as he hit a two run HR off reliever David Cone, scoring Mitch Webster in the 8th, making it 9-6.

In the top of the 9th, McReynolds hit his second HR of the day, starting out his year on a good note as the Mets went on to 10-6 victory.

That year McReynolds hit 27 HRs & drove
in a career high 99 runs while tying his career best batting average at .288. Straw would become the second Met to ever lead the NL in HRs with 39, matching his career best from the previous year. He also led the league in slugging (.545) while driving in over 100 runs for the second straight year.

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 11, 2017

A Look Back At the Mets AAA Affiliate Tidewater Tides

In 1969 the New York Mets changed their AAA affiliate from Jacksonville, where the Jacksonville Suns played,to Tidewater, Virginia.

Tidewater is located in the area of southeast Virginia (Norfolk & Portsmouth) & northeastern North Carolina . The area got its name because of the changing tides in local rivers, sounds & the Atlantic Ocean. The Tides would play at Metropolitan Memorial Park from 1970-1992.

The Tides became familiar to Mets fans of the seventies & eighties, as we knew that's where the players who hadn't been traded, or later signed as free agents, came from out of the minor leagues.

The Tidewater Tides got to the playoffs in their first season.  After two years of losing in the first round, they got to the finals & became league champions in 1972 under Hank Bauer. Pitchers like Buzz Capra, Harry Parker (14 wins), Brent Strom, Tommy Moore (11 wins), Chuck Taylor (9 wins) & Barry Raziano (10 wins). Dave Schneck, Don Hahn, George Theodore & Jose Morales made up the offense.

In 1975 the Tides were league champs under manager Joe Frazier who would get the Mets big league managerial position the next year. His MLB results weren't as good as with the Tides. Players like Roy Staiger (81 RBIs) Brock Pemberton (.297 Ave) Bruce Boisclair, Mike Vail, Ron Hodges & Benny Ayala made up the offense. 

Although they had limited MLB action, they never matched their minor league success. As was typical with Mets minor leagues, they had a soild pitching staff, consisting of Craig Swan (13 wins), Nino Espinosa (8 wins), Randy Sterling (10 wins), Dwight Bernard (9 wins) & Bill Laxton (11 wins).

Over the next six years, the Tides would make the playoffs three times but be eliminated in the first round each time, under managers Frank Verdi (twice) & former Met Jack Aker. Aker would skipper the team to league champs in 1982 & then as the team repeated in 1983, Davey Johnson took over the helm. Many of these players were part of the Mets 1986 Championship team & quality teams of the mid to late eighties.

Pitchers like Ron Darling (10 wins) Walt Terrell (10 wins) Tim Leary (8 wins) & a guy named Jeff Bittiger (12 wins) led the staff. On the field Darryl Strawberry, Wally Backman, Kevin Mitchell, Rafael Santana, Ron Gardenhire, Jose Oquendo, Mike Fitzgerald,  with guys like Rusty Tillman & Mike Howard who never made it big in the majors.

In 1986 Mets coach Sam Perlozzo took over & as the big league team won the World Series, the Tides got to the playoffs but fell in the first round.

Mike Cubbage would take over & get to two finals in a row but lost both times. Cubbage was always being looked at as the Mets future manager, but it never turned out that way, except for a brief period in 1991.

In the early 1990's Steve Swisher managed for two years. Then Clint Hurdle, who became a very successful MLB manager, took over as the last skipper of the Tidewater Tides. 

In 1992 a new ownership took over, the team moved to Harbor Park & for marketing, as well as political reasons, the changed their name to the Norfolk Tides. The next  year they introduced the mascot, Rip Tide.

The Tides were the Mets AAA affiliate for 38 years, ending the relationship in 2006, when the Mets AAA team became the New Orleans Zephyers (2007-2008). They then moved to Buffalo (2009-2011) & then Las Vegas (2013-2017).

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.