May 31, 2018

2016 Mets Reliever: Fernando Salas (2016)

Noel Fernando Salas was born May 30th, 1985 in Sonora, Mexico. The six foot two right hander, grew up in Mexico watching baseball there & not much MLB action.

He began pitching in the Mexican League for former big leaguer Sid Monge. Monge taught him to be a better pitcher & four years later. he told Salas that he was ready for America & the big leagues.

In 2010 he was signed by the St. Louis Cardinlas & invited to Spring Training. That year he got into 27 games, finishing off eleven games for St. Louis in relief.

In 2011 he became the Cards closer, replacing Ryan Franklin & saved 24 games in 68 appearances. The next year he started out at 0-3 with an ERA over six & was sent down to the minor leagues. He suffered from a kidney stone & returned later in the season.

Post Season: Salas made three appearances in the NLDS against the Philadelphia Phillies & then four games in the NLCS against the Milwaukee Brewers. In the Cards 12-6 Game #6 win to force a Game Seven, he pitched two innings (3rd & 4th) striking out three batters but allowed one run.

In the World Series against the Texas Rangers, he was roughed up for three runs in Game #3 at Arlington & then two more runs in Game #6 at St. Louis.

He pitched two more seasons in St. Louis going 1-7 with a 4.40 ERA in those two years, making another post season in 2012.

Post Season: After pitching a scoreless inning against the Washington Nats in the NLDS, he appeared in four games of the NLCS loss to the San Francisco Giants. In that series he allowed two runs in six innings of work.

In 2014 he was traded along with David Freese to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for Peter Bourjos & Randal Grichuk. In his first season there he went 5-0 with nine holds, getting to another post season, losing to the Kansas City Royals. The next year he recorded 18 holds going 5-2 with a 4.24 out of the bull pen in 2015.

He began 2016 with the Angels, after 58 games on August 31st, he was traded to the New York Mets for minor leaguer Erik Manoah. Salas proved to be a great acquisition for the Mets, solidifying the 7th inning relief spot getting to Addison Reed in the 8th & closer Jeurys Familia in the 9th. He helped the Mets catch the top NL Wild Card spot.

In 17 games with the Mets he was credited with seven holds, while taking one loss September 15th after a Wilson Ramos HR in 1-0 loss to the Nats. Overall he posted a 2.08 ERA striking out 19 batters while issuing no walks in 17 innings of work.

He began the 2017 season with New York getting used frequently early on, collecting two holds in the Mets first nine games. On April 15th he blew a game in Miami as Christian Yelich & Giancarlo Stanton blasted back to back HRs off him. On June 9th he took another loss in Atlanta. His only win came on July 1stm pitching the 6-7 innings against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field in a 7-6 Met win.

He would get credit for 11 holds with the Mets, but also had games where he allowed two or more runs, eight different times in 48 appearances. His ERA was at 6.00 when the Mets released him on August 15th. He was picked up by the NL Champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

There he was 1-0 in 13 games, finishing up four. He did not pitch in the post season. He was granted free agency & signed with Arizona for 2018.

Family: Ramos has a son with his girlfriend Daniela, they live in Mexico.

May 29, 2018

One of the First New York Giants Star Players: Amos Rusie (1890-1898)

Amos Wilson Rusie was Born on May 30, 1871 in Mooresville, Indiana. The tall six foot one right handed fastball pitcher, was known as "The Hoosier Thunderbolt" & became one of the most dominant pitchers of the 1890’s. After one season at Indianapolis he came to the New York Giants in 1890.

In those days the distance between home plate & the pitcher’s mound was only 50 feet, & Rusie's fastball was frightening to batters. They were scared of the speed but even more so of his control issues. He would lead the league in walks five straight seasons & set the all time single season base on balls mark 1890 (290).

That season he also, led the league with 36 wild pitches. Rusie is seventh on the all time list with 1707 walks & 33rd with 153 wild pitches. In his first season with the Giants he won 29 games, but also led the league in losses with 34. He would win 30 games or more over the next four seasons, posting winning records every year.

To go along with his league leading walks, he also led the league in strikeouts five times, shut outs four times, starts twice, innings, games, games & finished all one time each. Rusie also won two ERA titles & was among the league's top five times.

It was said that catchers used to have to put a thin sheet of lead under a sponge in their mitts to take the sting away from his fastball. In 1893 he was 33-21 with a 3.23 ERA. He led the league in starts (52) games (56) complete games (50) innings (483) hits ( 451) walks (218) & strike outs (208). That same year tragedy struck as one of Rusie’s fast balls hit Louisville's future Hall of Famer Hughie Jennings in the head.

The blow put him in a coma, taking him four days to recover from the fastball. This led to baseball changing the distance from home to the pitcher's mound from 50 feet to 60 feet 6 inches. This change didn’t hurt Rusies’s effectiveness, in fact he came back to win the Pitchers Triple Crown in 1894. He was 36-13 with 195 strike outs & a 2.78 ERA. He also led the league in starts (50) shut outs (3) walks (200) & strike outs (195).

He became a popular figure in New York & was one of the first baseball stars in the city. He was known as "Mr. Giant" & "Colossus of Coogans Bluff". The famed vaudeville act of Weber and Fields used his name in their show, & famed Broadway actor DeWolf Hopper proudly called him a personal friend.

He even received a message of congratulations from the popular 1890’s sex symbol/ performer Lillian Russell. Russell was a Broadway star as well as one of the foremost singers of operettas in America. It was her voice that was first heard when Alexander Grahm Bell first introduced long distance telephone service as she sang to audiences in Boston & Washington D.C. from New York.  Russell also starred in burlesque, vaudville & early motion pictures. In her later years she wrote a column for womens suffrage & was a popular lecturer. A movie of her life was made in 1940 starring Alice Faye, Henry Fonda & Don Ameche.

Back to Rusie, a 25 cent paperback book was also written about him; "The Secrets of Amos Rusie, The World's Greatest Pitcher". In Manhattan Bars & Restaurants named drinks after him, as did bars  around the Polo Grounds ballpark. Rusie was one of the first celebrity athletes in New York City by far.

After a bitter contract dispute with Giants' owner Andrew Freedman, Rusie publicly gave the thumbing of his nose to Freedman, which was equal to today's version of giving someone the middle finger. He was fined $200 (he made only $2,500 a year) & held out for the entire 1896 season. It was terrible for baseball, the fans boycotted the game and the press railed against the owners.

A settlement was reached just before the 1897 season, out of respect for Rusie & fear of legal action against the reserve clause. In 1898 he was hit in the head with a line drive & suffered hearing damage from the after effects. He soon suffered arm trouble, as well as personal problems getting traded to the Cincinnati Reds for the great pitcher to be; Christy Mathewson. After just three games with the Reds his career ended.

Lifetime in ten seasons he won 246 games (49th best all time) lost 174 with a 3.07 ERA (185th all time) 1950 strikeouts (77th all time) 1707 walks (7th all time) & 30 shutouts (110th all time) 393 complete games (18th all time) 427 starts (94th all time) & 153 wild pitches (33rd all time).

Retirement: Afetr his playing days he & his wife moved to Seattle. It was tough for him to earn aliving there & when New York Giants manager John McGraw learned of his troubles offered him a job as a special officer at the Polo Grounds. Rusie accepted & was once again a celebrity in New York, he said "It was like climbing out of your grave & going to a dance". He stayed in that job for eight years before buying a chicken ranch back in Seattle.

Rusie was injured in a car accident & never fully recovered. He passed away in 1942 at the age of 71 in Seattle, Washington. Amos Rusie was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1977.

May 27, 2018

Early Eighties Mets Pitcher: Dyar Miller (1980-1981)

Dyar Miller was born on May 29, 1946 in Batesville, Indiana. The Indiana farmer attended Utah State University and got signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1968.

The tall right hander was soon released & then signed on with the Baltimore Orioles. He was 12-10 with a 3.23 ERA at AA Dallas / Fort Worth in 1970 but remained at that level until 1973 due to the talented Orioles pitching depth at AAA. At AAA Rochester in 1974 he won another 12 games & then was 5-0 in 1975 posting a 2.20 ERA. He finally got a call up to the Orioles staff at age 29 that season.

As an Orioles reliever out of Earl Weaver’s bull pen, Miller was 6-3 with eight saves and a 2.72 ERA. In 1976 was second to O's reliever Tippy Martinez in saves by one game, as he posted seven saves going 2-4 while posting a 2.94 ERA. At the trade deadline in 1977 he was traded to the California Angels for Dick Drago.

He pitched well in Anaheim in 1978 going 6-2 with a save & a 2.66 ERA, out of their bull pen. His contract was purchased by the Toronto Blue Jays then he was sent to the Montreal Expos to complete an earlier deal. He was released after Spring Training 1980 & then signed as a free agent with the New York Mets that April.

He pitched 31 games as a middle reliever for the 1980 Mets, posting a strong 1.93 ERA going 1-2 with one save. Miller was usually good for two or even three innings of solid relief work. In 1981 he appeared in 23 games of the strike shortened season (1-0) with a 3.23 ERA. During the '81 baseball strike he worked on his Indiana farm, returning to the team after play resumed.

But Miller pitched his final game by early September & retired from the game at age 35. In his seven year career he went 23 -17 with 22 saves, a 3.23 ERA & 235 strike outs in 465 innings pitched over 251 appearances.

Retirement: Miller began a long career of coahing in 1985 starting within the St. Louis Cardinals organization. He became a coach for the 1987 & 1988 Chicago White Sox under Jim Fregosi.

In 1996 he began a long stretch coaching in the St. Louis Cardinals organization where he would work with his old frien Tony LaRussa. After a stint as manager of the AAA Memphis Rd Birds, Miller became Cardinals minor league pitching coordinator. In 2012 he had a rief stint as Cardnials bullpen coach. After that he let go by the organization for no apparent reason.

In 2014 he was named minor league pitching coordinator for the Houston Astros.

Former Nippon Pro Baseball Pitching Star & Mets Pitcher: Ryota Igarahi (2010-2011)

Ryota Igarashi was born on May 28th 1979 in Chiba Japan. The five foot eleven right hander began his pro career in Nippon Pro Baseball where he was once known as the league's fastest Pitcher.

In 2000 he was named All Star Central League pitcher going 11-4 with a 3.11 ERA. By 2004 he was a four time All Star & won the Fireman of the Year Award, becoming one of Japans best closers.

He was injured in 2005 & then lost his closer job to Hirotoshi Ishii. He became his set up man there but needed Tommy John surgery in 2007. By his return the veteran was now thirty years old & expressed interest in going to the Major Leagues.

In December 2009 he signed a contract with the New York Mets. Igarashi made his MLB debut at Citi Field on April 8th, 2010 relieving Jonathan Neise in a game against the Florida Marlins.

He was used in late middle relief collecting a hold on April 20th. He was sent down to shapen his skills for a month in the minors. After just one five games going 1-0 at A ball St. Lucie he was promoted to the AAA Buffalo Bisons where he was 2-1 with five saves in 15 games.

He returned on May 23rd pitching the 9th inning of a subway series game at Citi Field. Although he was roughed up for three runs the Mets still held on to win it 6-4. Later that week he gave up a walk ogg game winning HR to Corey Hart in Milwaukee. He earned his first win late in the season on October 2ns in a 7-2 win against the Washington Nationals. In 34 appearances he was 1-1 with 11 games finished posting a 7.12 record.

In 2011 he started out the year blowing a save on April 11th, when he allwed a 6th inning double scoring two runs that were charged to Mike Pelfrey. At the end of April he earned a middle relief win against the Nationals & then earned his second win a week later against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

By the end of May he was 2-1 but his ERA was 4.24 and he was sent back down to the minors. He returned two months later & finished out his year with the Mets. In 45 games he was 4-1 with a 4.66 ERA, striking out 42 batters with 28 walks & allowing 20 earned runs in 38 innings pitched.

He was released at the end of the year. He was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates but was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays at the end of Spring Training 2012. He began the year at AAA Las Vegas & was placed on waivers.

He was selected by the AL New York club, where he pitched two games, allowing four runs in four innings. He was granted free agency in October 2012.

In three MLB seasons, he was 5-2 with a 6.41 ERA, getting 72 strike outs with 51 walks in 83 games played.

May 26, 2018

Former Italian / American Player & Manager: Joe Altobelli (1977-1991)

Joseph Salvatore Altobelli was Born on May 26, 1932 in Detroit, Michigan. Altobello was son to Italian immigrant parents.

In the early fifties Altobelli, known as Alto, was a Detroit All City high school player. At the next level, he set a record in the Florida State League with a 36 game hit streak. He was a slugging prospect, hitting 47 HRs for the Rochester Red Wings from 1963 to 1966.

He only played for three seasons at the major league level, with the Cleveland Indians & Minnesota Twins. He would never hit above .221 posting five HRs 28 RBIs & eight doubles for the 1961 expansion Twins. He was a versatile fielder playing all outfield positions, as well as first base, making only three errors in 98 games, posting a .989 fielding percentage.

In 1966 he began a successful eleven year minor league managerial career in the Orioles farm system. In six years at Rochester from 1971-1976, his team finished first four times, and made the playoffs each year.

The 1971 team was led by Minor League Player of the Year Bobby Grich, and featured five future MLB managers. They were; Johnny Oates, Don Baylor, Ray Miller & Mike Ferraro.

Utility infielder Ron Shelton would become a successful Hollywood screenwriter and director whose works included “Bull Durham”, “White Men Can’t Jump” and “Tin Cup.”. In “Bull Durham” the characters, Crash Davis and Nuke LaLoosh were based upon Altobelli & the hard-partying Steve Dalkowski.

In 1977 he got his first MLB manager job with the San Francisco Giants, which he held for two seasons. Even though his Giants finished in third place in 1978, (16 games above .500) he was still fired after the season. In 1983 he replaced Earl Weaver as manager of the Baltimore Orioles. There were some big shoes to fill, but the team he inherited was very good.

He led them to 98 wins & An N.L/ pennant. In the World Series Baltimore defeated Philadelphia in five games, giving him his only Championship. He then coached for the AL New York team & the Chicago Cubs, replacing Don Zimmer as manager for a brief period.

In his managerial career he went 437–407 (.518). He went back to Rochester serving as the clubs GM (1991-1993) then a special assistant (1994-1997) & finally a color commentator for 11 years (1998-2009).

Honors: He retired in 2009 becoming known as Mr. Baseball in Rochester. In September of 2010 he was honored with a statue at the Red Wings ball park, as the city officially declared it Joe Altobelli Day in Rochester.

May 25, 2018

2016 Mets Righthanded Pitcher: Gabriel Ynoa (2016)

Gabriel (Gomez) Ynoa was born on May 26th 1993 in La Vega, Dominican Republic. The six foot two right handed pitcher was signed by the New York Mets out of high school in 2009 as an amateur free agent.

He pitched winter ball in 201 & then for the Mets in the Rookie League in 2011. By 2012 he was in Brooklyn with the A ball Brooklyn Cyclones going 2-3 with a 3.00 ERA.

In 2013 he was promoted to the Savannah Sand Gnats, where he went 15-4 with a 2.72 ERA 7 struck out 106 batters. Topps named him the South Atlantic Player of the Year and he was also the league's Most Outstanding Pitcher.

He began 2014 at St. Lucie going 8-2 getting promoted to AA Binghamton where in 11 games he went 3-2. Overall he was 11-4 with 106 strike outs combined with both teams. In 2015 he was an even 9-9 with a 3.90 ERA.

In 2016 he started for Frank Viola & Wally Backman at AAA Las Vegas. Pitching in the known hitters ballpark, he went 12-5 with a 3.97 ERA. He is not known as a big strike out pitcher, striking out just 78 batters in 154 innings pitched.

But it must be noted, Ynoa's control is impeccable, in nearly 800 innings in the Mets minor league system, he has only walked 134 total batters. A 1.5 per nine innings pitched is quite an accomplishment for a youngster.

In mid August he was brought up to the Mets big league staff to make up for all the injuries to Mets starters. He debuted on August 13th earning a win in relief, at Citi Field as the Mets downed the San Diego Padres.

The next day he finished up a Mets 5-1 win over the Padres, allowing a run.

On August 17th he served up three earned runs in Arizona, in a Mets 13-5 loss to the D-backs. He was back down at AAA for two weeks returning as a September call up. After a brief scoreless appearance in Cincinnati on September 6th, he gave up runs in his next two relief appearances.

On September 18th, he got his first big league start & struck out eight Milwaukee Brewers in a 3-2 win, where he allowed just one run in 4.2 innings.

His next start came in Philadelphia where he only pitched two innings, allowing two runs as the Mets went on to a 10-5 victory, maintaining a wild card lead.

His next relief appearance came in Miami the day after Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident, in an emotional game where the Mets took a 7-3 loss. He made another start on October 2nd with no decision.

He finished off his first big league season at 1-0 with 17 strike outs seven walks in 18 innings of work in ten games.

May 22, 2018

Former Mets Relief Pitcher & A Good Guy : Vic Black (2013-2015)

Victor Lawrence Black was born on May 23rd 1988 at Amarillo, Texas. The six foot four right hander attended Dallas Baptist, University where he was a star pitcher & the highest ever drafted player at the school. He was selected as a first round draft pick (49thpick overall) for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2009.

In 2009 he was 1-2 at State College in the New York Penn League, going to A ball West Virginia the next year. He was injured most of 2010 pitching in just two games going 2-1 with a 5.28 ERA. 

He moved up quickly going to AA Altoona in 2012 & getting to AAA Indianapolis by 2013. There he was 5-3 with 53 strike outs n 46 innings, posting a 2.51 ERA, making the All Star team.

Black was called up to the Pirates on July 25th, making his debut pitching the 8th inning in a 9-7 loss to the Washington Nats. He made three appearances with Pittsburgh, and was sent to the New York Mets, as the player to be named later in the Marlon Byrd & John Buck deal.

Black debuted with the Mets in Atlanta on September 2nd, 2013 making a mid-relief appearance in a 13-5 loss to the Braves. On September 8th, Black blew a save at Cleveland, when he relieved Daisuke Matusuzaka with the bases loaded & hit Asdrubal Cabrera with a pitch,, that resulted as the Indians winning run. 

From there Black pitched well, he recorded three wins & save against no losses the rest of the way. He also was credited with four holds, as a late reliever. In 12 innings he struck out 13 batters, walked four & posted a 3.46 ERA in 15 appearances.

Black was being looked at as the Mets set up man for 2014, but he had a rough Spring Training, posting a 5.79 ERA with ten walks in 9 ½ innings pitched. The hard throwing pitcher did not make the trip North, as he was sent to AAA Las Vegas.

There he was the 51's closer, earning seven saves with a 1.47 ERA in 17 games. That quickly got him back to the Mets big league club by the end of May.

Black returned on My 27th & earned a win in relief against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In June he took two losses as well as earning three holds as a set up man. By July 12th hed had seven holds to his credit, as he earned a win against the Miami Marlins pitching a scoreless 8th inning. 

Through August he was the main set up man before injuries shortened his season. He finished 2014 with 12 holds a 2-3 record & a 2.60 ERA in 41 appearances. He struck out 32 batters & walked 19 in 34 innings pitched.

At Spring Training 2015 Black was shut down after just two innings of work with weakness in his pitching shoulder. He began a rehab program pitching at St. Lucie (0-1 in two games) & then a relief stint at AA Binghamton. He spent most of the season suffering from a recurring herniated disc as well as arm fatigue. As the Mets were on to a National League Championship, Black was a fading memory. He struggled at AA Las Vegas & hoped for a September call up that never came. In stead he was placed on waivers & is currently a minor league free agent.

Quotes Vic Black from SI: “The last year — year-and-a-half — hasn’t gone according to plan,” “I was frustrated,” he said in a strained voice. “I was ready and I didn’t know what the Mets were doing. I couldn’t watch the games anymore. My goal — my understanding — was that it would be ‘New York next.’ And that didn’t happen.”

Citi Field is the best place ever. It really is.. I got to be a part of some cool games as soon as I got up there. The day I got traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates  my first game in New York — was Mike Piazza’s induction day. I’ve never seen 44,000 people in a stadium before. Never. In my life. I’ve never seen applause for 15 minutes before a game. Everyone is yelling. And we got the cool badge on the side of our hat. It was awesome.”

While with the Mets he leased an apartment in New York, was involved in the City even helping to create a baseball field in Staten Island.

Upon his release he thanked the Mets fans, being the true gentleman he is.............

“I didn’t play for 10 years, nor was I an All-Star or contributor to last season’s amazing run. But I’ll never forget my time playing for the greatest fans/city in baseball. From walking the streets of Manhattan, to riding the 7 line daily to Citi Field, I was given moments I’ll remember for my lifetime. You were kind in welcoming me to YOUR family and I’ll always have blue and orange running in my blood. New York captured my heart and nothing can ever take that away. You gave me a gift, experiences and moments I’ll cherish forever. I’m counting the days till my next visit in whatever capacity it may be. I love you New York!”

May 21, 2018

Former Mets Outfielder: Collin Cowgill (2013)

Collin Brannen Cowgill was born May 22nd, 1986 in Lexington, Kentucky. The five foot nine right hand hitting, left hand throwing outfielder, attended the University of Kentucky.

He was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2008. He hit 12 HRs at A ball in 2008 & then followed with 16 at AA Mobile in 2010. In 2011 he tore up the Pacific Coast League at AAA Reno, hitting .354 with 13 HRs in just 98 games, earning him a call up to the big leagues.

Cowgill made his MLB debut on July 26th, 2011 going 0-4 in a 6-1 win over the Padres in San Diego. He saw action in 36 games batting .239 hitting his first career HR off San Diego's Erik Hamren on Augsut 28th. He got two at bats in the NLDS against the Milwaukee Brewers getting one hit.

In December 2011 he was traded to the Oakland A's along with Jarrod Parker & Ryan Cook in exchange for Craig Beslow & Trevor Cahill.

He made the A's club out of Spring Training and hit .271 through June with a HR & 9 RBIs. He was still sent down to the minors returning as a September call up. That winter he was traded to the New York Mets for a minor leaguer.

Cowgill had himself a good Spring Training, impressing manager Terry Collins. On a team where the outfield spots were up for grabs, Cowgill got the call as the clubs every day center fielder going North platooning with Jorday Valdespin.

On Opening Day 2013 at Citi Field, Cowgill debuted in a Mets uniform batting leadoff & having a career day. The Mets 11-2 win was topped off with his 7th inning grand slam HR off Brad Brach, scoring John Buck, Ruben Tejada & Valdespin.

Four games later in Miami he hit a solo HR in the Mets 7-3 victory over the Marlins.

From there things went down hill, he did drive in three more runs in the month but found himself batting just .160 on May 1st. With Valdespin playing well, Mike Baxter & a bunch of other young possibilities, Cowgill was sent down to AAA Las Vegas as Andrew Brown was brought up.

In June he was traded to the Los Angeles Angels where he saw action in 50 games batting .231 with two HRs & 8 RBIs.

In 2014 he made the Angels club as a reserve outfielder going on to play in 106 games in Anaheim. Cowgill batted .250 with 5 HRs 10 doubles & 21 RBIs.

In 2015 he saw less action 55 games & hit just .188 see more time in the minor leagues.

In 2016 his contract was purchased by the Cleveland Indians & he made the club out of Spring Training. He appeared in two games against his old Mets team mates, getting a single off Jim Henderson in the 8th inning of the Indians 7-5 win . He played in just nine games for Cleveland that year.

In his six year career he batted .234 with 12 HRs 22 doubles 57 RBIs & .297 on base % playing in 317 games as an outfielder.

In September he was designated for assignment. He signed with the San Diego Padres in 2017 & was released in August. In February of 2018 he signed a minor league deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.

May 20, 2018

New York Giants Player & World War I Hero: Eddie Grant (1913-1915) Plus The Story of His Polo Grounds Monument

Edward Leslie Grant was born on May 21, 1883, Franklin, Massachusetts. Edward Grant graduated from Harvard University in 1905, earning the future nickname “Harvard Eddie”.

He often annoyed his less educated teammates by refusing to yell the traditional, "I got it," when a fly ball was hit, using the more grammatically correct, "I have it."

Grant began his MLB career with the Cleveland Indians in 1905, and then spent 1906 in the minors. He returned with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1907, and became their every day third baseman until 1910.

The quick third baseman batted leadoff and was known for his base stealing & fine fielding. His best years were the 1909 & 1910 seasons.

In 1909 he led the league in at bats (631) plate appearances (700) & played in every game of the season. His 170 hits were second in the league; he scored 75 runs stole 28 bases, hit 18 doubles with one HR & 37 RBIs. At third base he posted the league’s second best fielding % (.957) & would be third the next year while leading in put outs. 

In 1910 he drove in 67 runs, stole 25 more bases & was second in the league with 34 sac hits.

He was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 1911, playing there for two seasons. In the middle of the 1913 season, his contract was purchased by the New York Giants. Although he was no longer in the prime of his career he arrived in New York another Giants pennant year.

In the 1913 World Series he appeared in two games for John McGraw and scored a run as a pinch runner, going 0 for 1 at the plate. 

In 1914 he hit .277 in 282 plate appearances as a utility infielder, stealing 11 bases, scoring 34 runs, while hitting seven doubles and driving in 29 runs. In 1915 he hit only .208 with six steals and 10 RBIs, retiring at the end of the season.

In a ten year baseball career, he was a lifetime.249 hitter with 844 career hits, 153 stolen bases, 79 doubles, 30 triples, 5 home runs, and 277 RBIs. At third base he turned 105 double plays making 148 errors in 2533 chances posting a .942 fielding %.

Retirement: After baseball "Harvard Eddie" practiced law in New York City in 1916 & 1917.

American War Hero: Though he was exempt from the draft due to his age, the 33-year old attorney was one of the first to volunteer and serve in the U.S. Army in the First World War in April 1917.

He would serve as Captain of the 77th Infantry Division. During the fierce battle of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, all of Grant's superior officers were killed or wounded, and he took command of his troops on a four-day search for the "Lost Battalion" . These were thousands of soldiers stuck behind enemy lines in the freezing forest without supplies or ammunition. 

By the morning of the third day, which was October 5, 1918, Grant was totally exhausted. He hadn't slept since the beginning of the offensive, and some fellow officers noticed him sitting on a stump with a cup of coffee in front of him, too weak to even lift the cup.

One of his troops, a former policeman at the Polo Grounds, remembered: "Eddie was dog-tired but he stepped off at the head of his outfit with no more concern than if he were walking to his old place at third base after his side had finished its turn at the bat. He staggered from weakness when he first started off, but pretty soon he was marching briskly with his head up."

Later that day Eddie was waiving his hands and calling out for more stretcher bearers when a shell struck him. It was a direct hit, killing him instantly. Grant was buried in the Argonne Forest, only a few yards from where he fell. Later his remains were moved to the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Lorraine, France.

Quotes: “Edward Leslie Grant gave his all not for glory, not for fame, but just for his country.... His memory will live as long as our game may last.” —Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

Polo Grounds Monument Plaque: On Memorial Day, May 29, 1921, representatives from the armed forces, major league baseball, and his sisters, unveiled a monument in center field of the Polo Grounds to his memory.

A five-foot-high stone monument with an inscribed bronze plaque was erected in deep center field in front of the clubhouse building. Although it was 470 feet from home plate, the monument was in fair territory, so balls hitting it or rolling behind it remained in play.

Each Memorial Day from 1921 until 1957 there was a wreath-laying ceremony at his plaque, usually between games of the customary Holiday doubleheader. This was the first monument to be placed in New York ballpark, honoring a past player.

Legends & Rumors of the Plaque Since: At end of the final game at the Polo Grounds on September 29th, 1957 the plaque was said to have been pried off the monument by fans. There were Rumors that NYPD had recovered it, but never verified.

Supposedly, in July of 1999, the Eddie Grant Memorial plaque was discovered in an attic in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey. It was the former home of Lena and Gaetano Bucca.  Gaetano was a NYPD officer who retired in 1958 after serving in the 32nd Precinct, jurisdiction of the Polo Grounds. It was assumed he was to take it to an Eddie Grant American Legion post in the Bronx, but never made it there.

The new home owners had discovered the plaque carefully wrapped in a blanket and hidden under a trap door in the attic. They contacted The Baseball Reliquary Board. Bucca's son, an attorney never knew of the plaque.

In 2001, the Great War Society approached the San Francisco Giants offering to help pay for a new Eddie Grant plaque at their new Stadium, but the team declined. Some believed there was a curse on the Giants because of the whole plaque history . Others were angry that they did not try to get the original plague back. Finally in 2006 a replica plaque was installed in San Francisco & in 2010 the Giants won the World Series.

May 16, 2018

Former Italian / American New York Giants Player: Louis Chiozza (1937-1939)

Louis Peo Chiozza was born on May 17, 1910 in Tallulah, Louisiana. The six foot left handed hitting Chiozza, was raised in Memphis Tennessee becoming an all around athlete in high school. He played baseball, basketball, football, handball, ran track & was also a boxer. He was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1933, getting his MLB debut the next year.

He became the Phillies main second baseman also playing third base & a bit of outfield. In his rookie year he batted .304 with a .357 on base %, 0 HRs 28 doubles 5 triples 34 walks & six hit by pitches (3rd in the league). He became known as one of the fastest men in the game at that time. He stole nine bases which don’t seem like much now, but it put him the league’s top ten back in the 1934 season.

In the first ever night game in baseball history on May 24th, 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt pressed a button from the White House which lit up Crosley Field, in Cincinnati. Chiozza made history as he stepped up to the plate as the first batter in that historic night game. That season he also set a record with eleven assists in a game against the Boston Braves. 

Family: His brother Dino Chiozza played in two games for the Phillies that year as well, making them one of baseball’s first big league brothers combo to play on the same team.

In a June 1935 game against Boston, Chiozza hit a ball in the Baker Bowl that a 40 year old Babe Ruth attempted to catch down the line. Ruth couldn’t get to it and the ball rolled around the outfield. The Braves short stop retrieved the ball & threw it to the catcher attempting to nail Chiozza at the plate.

The ump called him out, preventing the inside the park HR. Most people agreed that Chiozza was safe & the call was a sympathy gesture to make up for Ruth’s sloppy play. Even Ruth knew his career was done; he walked off the field and retired two days later. Chiozza would play two more seasons for the Phillies batting .284 & then .297 before getting traded to the New York Giants for the 1937 season.

He was the Giants main third baseman in their 1937 NL Pennant season, but his average fell off to just .232. He stole six bases, hit 4 HRs with 11 doubles & drove in just 29 runs, least among all the Giants main players. In the World Series he went 2-7 (.286) playing in just two Series games against the AL New York club.

By the 1938 season his role became that of a utility player as Mel Ott moved from the outfield to play third base. Chiozza played in 34 games at second base, 16 in the outfield & just one at home.

In 1939 he had a severe collision with outfielder Jo Jo Moore on a pop fly, in which he suffered a compound fracture to his leg. The injury ruined his career at age 30 and he was forced to retire after a failed comeback.

In his si277 with 633 hits, 14 HRs 107 doubles 22 triples 303 runs scored 107 RBIs & a .324 on base % in 616 games played.

Retirement: After his baseball career, he ran a grocery store with his brother. He also ran a liquor store, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was married & had five children, passing away at the age of 61 in 1971.
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