BR Bullpen:Featured Article Archive
From BR Bullpen
Featured Articles appearing on the main page.
1989 Baltimore Orioles
The 1989 Baltimore Orioles rose from the ashes of a 107-loss season (which famously began with a record 21-consecutive losses) in 1988 and battled for the American League East pennant. The Orioles held first place for 98 days before eventually being eliminated on the next-to-last day of the season by the Toronto Blue Jays. The team's 33-win improvement ranks as one of the greatest in history. Closer Gregg Olson won the BBWAA's Rookie of the Year Award and Craig Worthington won the Sporting News rookie award, while other key contributors included Mickey Tettleton, Randy Milligan, Cal Ripken Jr., Phil Bradley, Jeff Ballard and Bob Milacki.
Luis Polonia was a speedy journeyman with a high batting average who played 12 years in the big leagues. His speed resulted in many triples but he was not a wise baserunner and led his league in times caught stealing five times (3 in the majors, 2 in the minors). He appeared in 1,379 major league games with a .293 average. He was in the top five in triples four different times, and in the top five in stolen bases three times. Not a particularly strong defensive outfielder, Dennis Lamp once said "If you hit him 100 fly balls, you could write a book about it: Catch-22."
He appeared in four World Series. Polonia, though, is as notable for his star performances in the winter in over two decades of play. He is among the top 10 contact hitters in Dominican League history and led the league in numerous categories. As of 2012, he is the all-time Dominican League leader in hits, triples and runs and the all-time Caribbean Series leader in hits, doubles and Series played. He also appeared for the Dominican national team in both the World Baseball Classic and Pan American Games.
Third baseman Al Rosen was a four-time American League All-Star and won the 1953 American League MVP Award. He was the first rookie to lead the American League in home runs, doing so in 1950. He topped 100 RBI on five different occasions. He barely missed out on a Triple Crown in 1953, with controversial circumstances costing him the batting title. After his major league career ended, Rosen spent 15 years in the front office of big league teams as club president and general manager. A World War II veteran, Rosen was arguably the greatest major leaguer born on February 29th. He won a Texas League MVP on his way up to the big leagues.
2007 Japan Series
The 2007 Japan Series was the 58th match-up of the champions of the Central League and Pacific League, Japan's top two circuits. The Series was a rematch of the 2006 Japan Series, which Nippon Ham had won in five games. Both teams had worse records in the regular season than in 2006. Chunichi had not had the CL's best record but the Central League had gone to a playoff format for the first time in its 58-year history and they topped the Yomiuri Giants in the postseason. Chunichi won in five games to end a 53-year title drought. The Series features Yu Darvish setting a single-game Japan Series strikeout record and the only perfect game in Series history (a combined effort by Daisuke Yamai and Hitoki Iwase). The Series MVP was Norihiro Nakamura.
Sir Robert Eenhoorn had a brief major league career spread out over four seasons, but was a productive player in the minors and has been a big factor in Dutch baseball for many years. As a player, he appeared in the Olympics twice. He later managed the Dutch national team in both the Olympics and the World Baseball Classic. Eenhoorn won both MVP and Coach of the Year honors in the Dutch Hoofdklasse, leading that league in both home runs and doubles. He currently is the Technical Director for the Dutch national team, performing that role so well that it won him a knighthood in his homeland.
Frenchy Bordagaray had an eleven-year career in the major leagues, six of which were with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He appeared in the 1939 and 1941 World Series. Bordagaray was known as a colorful character who said "All the stories about me are true". He was the only major leaguer to sport facial hair in a 55-year period. He set a record for pinch-hit batting average in a season. A two-time .300 hitter, his career batting line was .283/.331/.366. As a minor league player-manager, he was named MVP the same year he helped guide the club that integrated the circuit.
1990 Kinston Indians
The 1990 Kinston Indians were the fourth Kinston Indians club. They went 88-47 to lead the Carolina League in both the first half and second half. They failed to win their second title, though, as they fell in the finals. Managed by Brian Graham, the team included 12 future major leaguers. The most notable player to come from the team was Jim Thome, with Curt Leskanic and Robert Person both reaching 50 wins in the majors. Ken Ramos won the league's batting title as was joined on the Carolina League All-Star team by teammates Nolan Lane and Rouglas Odor. Kinston reached 100,000 in attendance for the first time since 1964.
Ming-Tsu Lu has had a long and productive career in Taiwanese baseball. He played every position except for shortstop and pitcher during his career but was primarily an outfielder after starting out as a catcher. He won a Little League World Series then starred on the international stage from 1984-1987. Lu began his professional baseball career in Japan on such a hot note that he led to a rule change as a rookie. He only played four years in Japan, then set a record in his native Taiwan, where he ended his playing career. He later was an announcer and coach in Taiwan. He coached for his homeland in both the World Baseball Classic and Olympics.
Josh Hancock was a right-handed pitcher who pitched for six seasons with four major league clubs including the Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals. He was a member of the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals team which won the World Series. During college, he had appeared in a College World Series. He once tied for a AAA league's lead in shutouts. Hancock battled injuries and weight problems during his career. He died in a automobile accident during the 2007 season, which was followed by a legal case by Hancock's relatives.
1942 Colored World Series
The 1942 Colored World Series marked the resumption of the Colored World Series after more than a decade, and was the first of seven consecutive official postseason series to crown a champion of the two Negro Leagues. This series featured future Hall of Fame performers Ray Brown, Willard Brown, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard, Satchel Paige, Hilton Smith, and Jud Wilson. Games were played in five different cities (including one game that was thrown out) and the series was notable for the appearance of Paige in every single venue. The Kansas City Monarchs swept the Washington-Homestead Grays in four games, though the series included one exhibition game, and the results of one game were thrown out after a protest.
Koichi Tabuchi was a catcher, first baseman, coach and manager in Japan. He made the Best Nine team five years in a row and was a 11-time All-Star. The slugger set a college home run record and later won a home run title in the Central League and went deep 474 times in Nippon Pro Baseball. He was the center of one of the more notable trades in Japan in the 1970s. Unlike some sluggers, Tabuchi did not hit many doubles, usually hitting high and long homers when he connected. After finishing up as a player, Tabuchi worked as a baseball commentator and then as a manager. He most recently has been a hitting coach, including a stint with the Japanese national team that included the 2008 Olympics.
Lou Brissie pitched seven seasons in the major leagues. He nearly died as a paratrooper in the US Army during World War II, but after many operations and much hard work he went on to a successful major league career. He was on the 1949 American League All-Star team. Overall, he was 44-48 with 29 saves in the majors. He later worked as a scout as well as for the American Legion and the State of South Carolina. Brissie is a member of the South Atlantic League Hall of Fame and also has been honored by the Hall of Fame and by the Governor of South Carolina.
1946 World Series
The 1946 World Series was the first played with rosters not depleted by the War since 1941. It opposed the St. Louis Cardinals, taking part in their fourth World Series in five years, against the Boston Red Sox, who were making their first World Series appearance since Babe Ruth was a young left-handed pitcher in 1918. The Series would turn out to be a classic, seven-game, see-saw affair, with one play in particular, Enos Slaughter's mad dash around the bases in Game 7, still controversial 60 years later. In the end, the Cardinals won the Series, prolonging the Red Sox's title drought and sending them to wait until 1967 for another World Series appearance, while the great Ted Williams was held to a paltry .200 average in his only post-season appearance, thanks in part to a defensive shift devised by the Cardinals.
Beau Mills is a highly regarded prospect in the Cleveland Indians organization. The first round draft pick has played mostly first base in the minors, but he also has experience at third from his high school and college careers. The Indians like what they have seen so far from Beau, and his career seems to be progressing nicely. The Tribe recently awarded him their highest honor for position players in their system - the Lou Boudreau Award. Mills is a second generation professional ballplayer. His dad, Brad, made it to the majors with Montréal.
Catcher/first baseman Dave Nilsson was, arguably, the most accomplished Australian baseball player in history. He was the first Australian to make the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. He was MVP of the first major international competition in which the Australian national team won a Gold Medal. He won a Silver Medal in the Olympics. In the Australian Baseball League, Nilsson set numerous records. His career was sidelined several times due to injuries, including foot, shoulder, knee and virus problems. He later led a group that purchased the ABL and tried to keep it afloat under a new name and structure. Nilsson was part of the first All-Australian battery in major league history. Australian baseball analysts Flintoff & Dunn write that "David Nilsson owns the biggest profile in Australian baseball history".
Longest game in Organized Baseball history
The longest game in Organized Baseball history occurred in 1981 between the Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings of the International League at Pawtucket's McCoy Stadium and lasted 33 innings. The game began on April 18 and lasted 32 innings before being stopped, with play to resume later in the season. On June 23, the game resumed with it only taking one additional inning to settle the game as Pawtucket won it by a score of 3 - 2 in the bottom of the 33rd inning. The game included future Hall of Famers Wade Boggs and Cal Ripken Jr. as the two third basemen. Bob Ojeda and Marty Barrett also went on to notable careers in the major leagues.
Tuffy Rhodes has been one of the top foreign players in the history of Nippon Pro Baseball. He holds many records for gaijin, including home runs and RBI in a career. He tied the single-season NPB home run record that had been held by Sadaharu Oh for decades. The Japanese reaction to Rhodes' chase generated controversy both in Japan and the United States as he was pitched around by Oh's team. Rhodes was the second foreign player in NPB history to cover the required 10 seasons to no longer be deemed a foreigner. He holds the all-time Japanese record for ejections. Rhodes retired before the 2006 season but returned in 2007 as a productive player for the Orix Buffaloes. In 2007, he set numerous "firsts" for foreign players while extending his records for foreign hitters. Rhodes began his career as a speedster who developed his power stroke while in the high minors. In the US, he tied the record for home runs on Opening Day while he was with the Chicago Cubs.
The Chronicle-Telegraph Cup was a postseason trophy series that was played once, in 1900. It was a challenge cup, created by the Pittsburgh Chronicle-Telegraph. The newspaper offered a silver cup to the winner of a best-of-five series between its local club, the Pittsburgh Pirates, who finished second in the National League, and the league's champion, the Brooklyn Superbas. The series was held at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's Exposition Park in mid-October. The Superbas prevailed in the series,three games to one, to take the cup. The teams were evenly matched in every aspect of their games except fielding, as the Pirates' fourteen errors led to ten unearned runs, dooming the club. The Pirates would go on to win the next three National League pennants and appear in the first modern World Series played in 1903. The Brooklyn club, who had won the last World's Series ten years earlier, would not win another postseason series until 1955. The series would be the last intra-league championship series in Major League Baseball history.
Martín Dihigo (pronounced Mar-TEEN DEE-go) is widely considered the be one of the greatest two-way players in baseball history, along with Babe Ruth, Bob Caruthers and Bullet Rogan. The Matanzas native was the first man to be a member of the Hall of Fame, Salon de la Fama (Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame), and Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame. Dihigo played every position except catcher during his career, which ran from 1922 to 1950. A top hurler who won over 250 wins as a pro, he also won two batting titles. Dihigo hit for power as well and also showed off a fine glove; Ted Page rated his throwing arm from the outfield as being superior to that of Roberto Clemente. At least two fellow Hall-of-Famers said he was the best player they ever saw. He set offensive and pitching records in both Cuba and Mexico. On the mound, these included Mexican League single-season records for ERA and strikeouts, the Cuban Winter League career record for wins. At the plate, his records included the most doubles in a Cuban Winter League game and the first six-hit game in Mexican League history. Throughout his career, he played year-round, spending summers in the United States, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela and the winters in Cuba. He managed championship teams in Cuba, Venezuela and Mexico. Dihigo won four Cuban Winter League MVP awards, the most of any player.
Lou Limmer was a first baseman for 13 years, two in the Major Leagues and eleven in the minors. He won two minor league home run titles, fell one shy in a third year and was in the top 5 seven times. A former American Association Rookie of the Year, Limmer twice led the Caribbean Series in home runs. He hit two historic home runs in the majors - the last by a member of the Philadelphia A's and the only homer by a Jewish batter against a Jewish pitcher with a Jewish catcher. He drove in 1,041 runs in Organized Baseball. He also was once nicknamed the "Babe Ruth" of Batting Practice.
Atsuya Furuta is the manager of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. A player on the Japanese team in the 1988 Olympics, he was voted the greatest catcher in Nippon Pro Baseball history in 2000. He was the first person to hit for the cycle in an All-Star Game in Japan. He was the first catcher to win a batting title in the Central League. A two-time Central League MVP, he has also won the Matsutaro Shoriki Award. One of the few players to hit four home runs in a game in NPB, Furuta has battled knee problems for years. He became Japan's first player-manager in three decades when he took over the reigns of the Swallows in 2006.
Mike Easler was known as "The Hitman" due to his aptitude at the plate, but it took him over a decade before he got a shot at regular action in the major leagues. A two-time batting titlist in AAA, Easler was traded from one organization to another, often for players who would never make the majors. Eventually, he settled into a role with the Pittsburgh Pirates, becoming an All-Star. He later went on to success with the Boston Red Sox and Nippon Ham Fighters. When his playing career ended, Easler became a minor league manager, then established himself as a hitting coach at both the minor and major league levels.
The 1983 Expos were strong competitors in the 1983 NL, involved in a tight pennant race until mid-September before finishing with a disappointing 82-80 record. The team lost their original bullpen coach, Mel Wright, to cancer. Tim Raines became the first player in 68 years to have 70 stolen bases and 70 RBI in the same season. Al Oliver led the league in doubles and Andre Dawson won both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award while setting a club record for home runs. Other prominent names on the team included Gary Carter, Jeff Reardon and Tim Wallach.
Charlie Manuel has spent over 40 years in professional baseball. He won one minor league batting title and hit well at several stops, but failed to produce in limited opportunities in the major leagues. Going on to Japan, he won two home run titles in the Pacific League. His personality made him a larger-than-life character in the world of Japanese baseball. He was involved in one famous beanball incident, hit a key home run in the 1979 Japan Series and became the second American to be named MVP of the Pacific League. He later became a successful hitting coach. He managed the division-champion 2001 Indians and has managed the Philadelphia Phillies to second-place finishes in back-to-back seasons.
Josh Gibson is considered one of the greatest hitters of the Negro Leagues. A catcher, he spent much of his career with the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords and counted Buck Leonard and Satchel Paige among his teammates. He was inducted into the Mexico's Salón de la Fama in 1971 and into the American Hall of Fame in 1972 by the Special Committee on the Negro Leagues. Gibson is widely considered among the very best power hitters in baseball history, but never played in Major League Baseball as racial segregation excluded African-Americans from playing in the leagues during his lifetime. He won 12 home run titles not counting the winter leagues and also led his leagues in batting average, doubles, triples, RBI and slugging. While there are many who argue he was the greatest Negro Leaguer, catcher, or hitter in baseball history; there are also counter-arguments for each claim.
1903 World Series
The 1903 World Series was the first modern World Series played. It was played in October 1903 between the league champions of the American and the National Leagues. The Boston Americans (AL) defeated the favoured Pittsburgh Pirates (NL), 5 games to 3. The Americans were led to victory by pitchers Bill Dinneen and Cy Young. Pittsburgh pitcher Deacon Phillippe threw five complete games and was the winner in each of his team's victories. The series was the result of the peace pact signed in January 1903 in Cincinnati, OH between the presidents of the two leagues - Ban Johnson for the American League and Harry Pulliam for the National League - that ended two years of bickering, contract jumping and name-calling that was hurting both leagues' attendance. As a result, the National League, established in 1876, recognized the newly-formed American League, which had played its first season in 1901, as an equal.
Considered by many to be the greatest player in the history of Nippon Pro Baseball, Shigeo Nagashima was the star third baseman for the Yomiuri Giants from 1958 to 1974. He is unquestionably the most popular player in the history of Japanese baseball. Nagashima's legacy is closely intertwined with that of long-time teammate Sadaharu Oh as the "ON" attack led Yomiuri to a record nine straight Japan Series victories. While considered a great natural athlete, Nagashima was renowned for his practices - he got a house by the river so he could run every day there and he built a room in his home to practice his swings in constantly. He combined God-given talent with an excellent work ethic. He is also the father of Kazushige Nagashima.
Baltimore Orioles (IL)
The Baltimore Orioles (IL) were a team in the International League that played in Baltimore, MD. The club played from 1903 through 1914 and 1916 through 1953. The team joined the Eastern League in 1903 after the city lost its American League franchise to New York City. Due to Federal League pressure in 1915, the Orioles left Baltimore for Richmond, VA. After the collapse of the Federal League, the International League's Jersey City franchise moved to Baltimore and took on the Orioles name. In the early 1920s, under the direction of Jack Dunn, the team won seven consecutive league championships (1919 to 1925) and three Little World Series becoming the greatest minor league dynasty of all-time. For the next, thirty years the team remained a respectable member of the International League. The team ceased being an independent club in 1942 and the franchise ended in 1954 after the St. Louis Browns moved to the city and adopted the team's name. The club produced such stars as Babe Ruth and Lefty Grove and numerous other prominent baseball personages passed through as players or managers over the decades.
Charlie Metro is a former Major League outfielder, coach, manager, and scout. He was involved in baseball in various capacities for 47 years, and while he epitomizes the old-school baseball man, who has done everything in his career and knows every facet of the game, he was also an innovator and the author of a very entertaining autobiography. He was born Charles Moreskonich in Nanty Glo, Pennsylvania in 1919. His father's, first name, Metro, became his nickname, "Little Metro", and eventually his baseball last name because it would fit more easily in the boxscores. He was signed in 1937 by the St. Louis Browns, he made his Major League debut six years later and stayed in the big leagues there for three years. Metro managed the Denver Bears in to the American Association playoffs in 1960 and 1961. He later managed in the Major Leagues as a member of the Chicago Cubs’ "College of Coaches" in 1962 and with the Kansas City Royals in 1970 after having been the team's director of player procurement since their founding a year earlier. Metro retired from baseball in 1984.