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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Legend of Baseball : Roberto Clemente


Roberto Clemente Walker (August 18, 1934 – December 31, 1972) was a Puerto Rican Major League Baseball right fielder. He was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, the youngest of seven children. On November 14, 1964, he married Vera Zabala at San Fernando Church in Carolina. The couple had three children: Roberto Jr., Luis Roberto and Enrique Roberto. He began his professional career playing with the Santurce Crabbers in the Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League (LBPPR). While he was playing in Puerto Rico, the Brooklyn Dodgers offered him a contract to play with the Montreal Royals. Clemente accepted the offer and was active with the team until the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired him in the Major League Baseball Rule 5 Draft of 1954.


Clemente would then play his entire 18-year baseball career with the Pirates (1955–72). He was awarded the National League's Most Valuable Player Award in 1966. During the course of his career, Clemente was selected to participate in the league's All Star Game on twelve occasions. He won twelve Gold Glove Awards and led the league in batting average in four different seasons. He was also involved in humanitarian work in Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries, often delivering baseball equipment and food to them. He died in an aviation accident on December 31, 1972, while en route to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. His body was never recovered. He was elected to the Hall of Fame posthumously in 1973, thus becoming the first Latin American to be selected and the only current Hall of Famer for whom the mandatory five year waiting period has been waived since the wait was instituted in 1954. Clemente is also the first Hispanic player to win a World Series as a starter (1960), win a league MVP award (1966) and win a World Series MVP award (1971).


Clemente's professional career began when Pedrín Zorilla offered him a contract with the Santurce Crabbers of the LBBPR. He was a bench player during his first campaign, but was promoted to the team's starting lineup the following season. During this season he hit .288 as the team's leadoff hitter. While Clemente was playing in the LBBPR, the Brooklyn Dodgers offered him a contract with the team's Triple-A subsidiary.He then moved to Montreal to play with the Montreal Royals. The climate and language differences affected Clemente early on, but he received the assistance of his teammate Joe Black, who was able to speak Spanish. In 1954, Clyde Sukeforth, a scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates, noticed that Clemente was being used as a bench player for the team and discussed the possibility of drafting Clemente to the Pirates with the team's manager, Max Macon.The Pirates selected Clemente as the first selection of the rookie draft that took place on November 22, 1954.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Legend of Baseball : Walter Johnson


Walter Perry Johnson (November 6, 1887 – December 10, 1946), nicknamed "Barney" and "The Big Train", was a Major League Baseball right-handed pitcher. He played his entire 21-year baseball career for the Washington Senators (1907–1927). He would later serve as manager of the Senators from 1929–1932 and for the Cleveland Indians from 1933–1935.
One of the most celebrated and dominating players in baseball history, Johnson established several pitching records, some of which remain unbroken. He remains by far the all-time career leader in shutouts with 110, second with 417 wins, and fourth in complete games with 531. He once held the career record in strikeouts with 3,509 and was the only player in the 3,000 strikeout club for over 50 years until Bob Gibson recorded his 3,000th strikeout in 1974. Johnson led the league in strikeouts a Major League record 12 times — one more than current strikeout leader Nolan Ryan — including a record eight consecutive seasons.

Johnson won renown as the premier power pitcher of his era. Ty Cobb recalled his first encounter with the rookie fastballer:
"On August 2, 1907, I encountered the most threatening sight I ever saw in the ball field. He was a rookie, and we licked our lips as we warmed up for the first game of a doubleheader in Washington. Evidently, manager Pongo Joe Cantillon of the Nats had picked a rube out of the cornfields of the deepest bushes to pitch against us... He was a tall, shambling galoot of about twenty, with arms so long they hung far out of his sleeves, and with a sidearm delivery that looked unimpressive at first glance... One of the Tigers imitated a cow mooing, and we hollered at Cantillon: 'Get the pitchfork ready, Joe-- your hayseed's on his way back to the barn.'
...The first time I faced him, I watched him take that easy windup. And then something went past me that made me flinch. The thing just hissed with danger. We couldn't touch him... every one of us knew we'd met the most powerful arm ever turned loose in a ball park."
Although a lack of precision instruments prevented accurate measurement of his fastball, in 1917, a Bridgeport, Connecticut munitions laboratory recorded Johnson's fastball at 134 feet per second, which is equal to 91.36 miles per hour (147.03 km/h), a velocity which was virtually unique in Johnson's day, with the possible exception of Smoky Joe Wood. Johnson, moreover, pitched with a sidearm motion, whereas power pitchers are normally known for pitching with a straight-overhand delivery. Johnson's motion was especially difficult for right-handed batters to follow, as the ball seemed to be coming from third base.
The overpowering fastball was the primary reason for Johnson's exceptional statistics, especially his fabled strikeout totals. Johnson's record total of 3,508 strikeouts stood for more than 55 years until Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, and Gaylord Perry (in that order) all surpassed it in 1983. Johnson, as of 2010, ranks ninth on the all-time strikeout list, but his total must be understood in its proper context. Among his pre-World War II contemporaries, only two men finished within one thousand strikeouts of Johnson: runner-up Cy Young with 2,803 (705 strikeouts behind) and Tim Keefe at 2,562. Bob Feller, whose war-shortened career began in 1936, later ended up with 2,581.


Walter Johnson on a 1909-1911 American Tobacco Company baseball card



As a right-handed pitcher for the Washington Nationals/Senators, Walter Johnson won 417 games, the second most by any pitcher in history (after Cy Young, who won 511). He and Young are the only pitchers to have won 400 games.
In a 21-year career, Johnson had twelve 20-win seasons, including ten in a row. Twice, he topped thirty wins (33 in 1912 and 36 in 1913). Johnson's record includes 110 shutouts, the most in baseball history. Johnson had a 38-26 record in games decided by a 1-0 score; both his win total and his losses in these games are major league records. Johnson also lost 65 games because his teams failed to score a run. On September 4, 5 and 7, 1908, he shut out the New York Highlanders in three consecutive games.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Legend of Baseball : Babe Ruth


George Herman Ruth, Jr. (February 6, 1895 – August 16, 1948), best known as "Babe" Ruth and nicknamed "the Bambino" and "the Sultan of Swat", was an American Major League baseball player from 1914–1935. Ruth originally broke into the major leagues with the Boston Red Sox as a starting pitcher, but after he was sold to the New York Yankees in 1919, he converted to a full-time right fielder and subsequently became one of the league's most prolific hitters. Ruth was a mainstay in the Yankees' lineup that won seven pennants and four World Series titles during his tenure with the team. After a short stint with the Boston Braves in 1935, Ruth retired. In 1936, Ruth became one of the first five players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.


Ruth has since become regarded as one of the greatest sports heroes in American culture.[1] He has been named the greatest baseball player in history in various surveys and rankings, and his home run hitting prowess and charismatic personality made him a larger than life figure in the "Roaring Twenties".[2] Off the field he was famous for his charity, but also was noted for his often reckless lifestyle. Ruth is credited with changing baseball itself. The popularity of the game exploded in the 1920s, largely due to his influence. Ruth ushered in the "live-ball era", as his big swing led to escalating home run totals that not only excited fans, but helped baseball evolve from a low-scoring, speed-dominated game to a high-scoring power game.

Babe Ruth in 1921.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Legend of Baseball : Mickey Cochrane


Gordon Stanley "Mickey" Cochrane (April 6, 1903 – June 28, 1962) was a professional baseball player and manager.[1] He played in Major League Baseball as a catcher for the Philadelphia Athletics and Detroit Tigers. Cochrane was considered one of the best catchers in baseball history and is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Cochrane was born in Bridgewater, Massachusetts to Northern Irish immigrant John Cochrane, whose father had immigrated to Ulster from Scotland and Scottish immigrant Sadie Campbell. He was also known as "Black Mike", because of his fiery, competitive nature.Cochrane was educated at Boston University where he played five sports, excelling at football and basketball. Although he considered himself better as a football player than as a baseball player, professional football wasn't as established as Major League Baseball at the time so, Cochrane signed a contract to play for the Portland Beavers of the Pacific Coast League in 1924.



After just one season in the minor leagues, Cochrane was promoted to the major leagues, making his debut with the Philadelphia Athletics on April 14, 1925 at the age of 22. He made an immediate impact by earning the starting catcher's assignment over Cy Perkins, who was considered one of the best catchers in the major leagues at the time. A left-handed batter, Cochrane ran well enough that manager Connie Mack would occasionally insert him into the leadoff spot in the batting order. Most frequently, Cochrane would bat third, but wherever he hit, his primary job was to get on base so that hard-hitting Al Simmons and Jimmie Foxx could drive him in. In May, he tied a major league record by hitting three home runs in a game.[8] He ended his rookie season with a .331 batting average and a .397 on base percentage, helping the Athletics to a second place finish.


Cochrane compiled a .320 batting average while hitting 119 home runs over a 13 year playing career. His .320 batting average was the highest career total for catchers until being surpassed by Joe Mauer in 2009. His .419 on-base percentage is among the best in baseball history, and is the highest all-time among catchers. In 1932, Cochrane became the first catcher in Major League Baseball history to score 100 runs and have 100 RBI in the same season. He hit for the cycle twice in his career, on July 22, 1932 and on August 2, 1933. In his first 11 years, he never caught fewer than 110 games. Cochrane led American League catchers six times in putouts, and twice each in double plays, assists and fielding percentage.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Legend of Baseball : Rogers Hornsby


Rogers Hornsby, Sr. (April 27, 1896 – January 5, 1963) was an American Major League Baseball infielder, manager, and coach. Nicknamed "The Rajah", he played 23 seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals (1915–1926, 1933), New York Giants (1927), Boston Braves (1928), Chicago Cubs (1929–1932), and St. Louis Browns (1933–1937). Hornsby accumulated 2,930 hits, 301 home runs, and a .358 batting average during his career, was named the National League's Most Valuable Player (MVP) two times, and was a member of one World Series championship team.
Hornsby's major league career started when the St. Louis Cardinals signed him in 1915. He remained with the Cardinals until 1926, and he won a World Series with the team that year. After the season, he was traded to the New York Giants. He spent one season with them before getting traded to the Boston Braves, and he spent one season with the Braves before getting traded to the Chicago Cubs. He played with the Cubs until they released him in 1932. He then re-signed with the Cardinals in 1933, but he was claimed off waivers by the St. Louis Browns during the season. He remained with the Browns until his final season in 1937. Hornsby managed each of these teams all or part of the time that he played for them, and he also managed the Browns and the Cincinnati Reds in the 1950s after his career had ended.

Hornsby was one of the best batters ever to play major league baseball. His career batting average of .358 is second only to Ty Cobb in major league history. He also won two Triple Crowns, and he batted .400 or more three times during his career. He is the only player to hit 40 home runs and bat .400 in the same year (1922). His batting average for the 1924 season was .424, a mark that no player since has matched. He was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1942.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Legend of Baseball : Eddie Collins


Hall of Fame Major League Baseball Player. Born in Millerton, New York, at age 19, he joined the Philadelphia Athletics as a second baseman in 1906. From 1910 to 1914, with the A's he won four of five AL pennants and three World Titles, After the 1914 season, he was sold to the Chicago White Sox where he played for the next twelve seasons including the 1919 Word Series Black Sox Scandal. In 1924, he was named player manager of the Sox and guided them to winning records. He was released by Chicago following the 1926 season and rejoined on the A's as a coach and player, mostly as a pinch-hitter. He ended his career with a .333 batting average, 3315 hits, 47 homeruns, 1300 runs batted in and holds the American League record for service, at 25 seasons. In 1939, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Columbia University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005. He died in Boston, Massachusetts.
Edward Trowbridge Collins, Sr. (May 2, 1887 – March 25, 1951), nicknamed "Cocky", was an American Major League Baseball second baseman, manager and executive. He played from 1906 to 1930 for the Philadelphia Athletics and Chicago White Sox.
At the end of his career, he ranked second in major league history in career games (2,826), walks (1,499) and stolen bases (744), third in runs scored (1,821), fourth in hits (3,315) and at bats (9,949), sixth in on base percentage (.424), and eighth in total bases (4,268); he was also fourth in AL history in triples (187). He still holds the major league record of 512 career sacrifice hits, over 100 more than any other player. He was the first major leaguer in modern history to steal 80 bases in a season, and still shares the major league record of six steals in a game, which he accomplished twice in September 1912. He regularly batted over .320, retiring with a career average of .333. He also holds major league records for career games (2,650), assists (7,630) and total chances (14,591) at second base, and ranks second in putouts (6,526). Under the win shares statistical rating system created by baseball historian and analyst Bill James, Collins was the greatest second baseman of all time.

A native of Millerton, New York, Collins was a graduate of Columbia University (where he was a member of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity), at a time when few Major League players had attended college.
As a player, Collins was renowned for his solid batting skills and speed on the basepaths.
He broke into the majors in 1906 with the Philadelphia Athletics and by 1909 was a full-time player. That season, he registered a .347 batting average and 67 steals. The following year, Collins stole a career-high 81 bases and played on the first of his four World Series championship teams.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Legend of Baseball : George Sisler


George Harold Sisler (March 24, 1893 - March 26, 1973), nicknamed "Gentleman George" and "Gorgeous George," was an American professional baseball player for 15 seasons, primarily as first baseman with the St. Louis Browns (now the Baltimore Orioles). From 1920 until 2004, Sisler held the Major League Baseball (MLB) record for most hits in a single season, a mark which stills stands for the 154-game season in which he played.
His 1922 season — during which he batted .420, hit safely in a then-record 41 consecutive games, led the American League in hits (246), stolen bases (51), and triples (18), and was, by general consensus, the best fielding first baseman in the game — is considered by many historians to be among the best individual all-around single-season performances in baseball history.[1]
Sisler was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.[2] In 1999, he received the eighth-largest number of first base-category votes in fan balloting for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, and editors at The Sporting News named him 33rd on their list of "Baseball's 100 Greatest Players."



Born in the unincorporated hamlet of Manchester (now part of the city of New Franklin, a suburb of Akron, Ohio[3]) and having played college ball for coach Branch Rickey at the University of Michigan, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering, Sisler entered the major leagues as a pitcher for the Browns in 1915. He signed as a free agent after the minor league contract he had signed as a minor four years earlier, and which the Pittsburgh Pirates had purchased, was declared void. The following year he switched to first base, to fully utilise his hitting skills. He posted a record of 5-6 with a 2.35 earned run average in 24 career mound appearances, twice defeating Walter Johnson in complete games victories.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Legend of Baseball : Jackie Robinson



Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson (January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972) was the first black Major League Baseball (MLB) player of the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. As the first black man to play in the major leagues since the 1880s, he was instrumental in bringing an end to racial segregation in professional baseball, which had relegated black players to the Negro leagues for six decades.The example of his character and unquestionable talent challenged the traditional basis of segregation, which then marked many other aspects of American life, and contributed significantly to the Civil Rights Movement.



In addition to his cultural impact, Robinson had an exceptional baseball career. Over ten seasons, he played in six World Series and contributed to the Dodgers' 1955 World Championship. He was selected for six consecutive All-Star Games from 1949 to 1954,was the recipient of the inaugural MLB Rookie of the Year Award in 1947, and won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949 – the first black player so honored. Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. In 1997, Major League Baseball retired his uniform number, 42, across all major league teams.
Robinson was also known for his pursuits outside the baseball diamond. He was the first black television analyst in Major League Baseball, and the first black vice-president of a major American corporation. In the 1960s, he helped establish the Freedom National Bank, an African-American-owned financial institution based in Harlem, New York. In recognition of his achievements on and off the field, Robinson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

Robinson in uniform for the Kansas City Monarchs
In early 1945, while Robinson was at Sam Huston College, the Kansas City Monarchs sent him a written offer to play professional baseball in the Negro leagues. Robinson accepted a contract for $400 ($4,882 in 2011 dollars per month, a boon for him at the time. Although he played well for the Monarchs, Robinson was frustrated with the experience. He had grown used to a structured playing environment in college, and the Negro leagues' disorganization and embrace of gambling interests appalled him. The hectic travel schedule also placed a burden on his relationship with Isum, with whom he could now only communicate by letter. In all, Robinson played 47 games at shortstop for the Monarchs, hitting .387 with five home runs, and registering 13 stolen bases.He also appeared in the 1945 Negro League All-Star Game, going hitless in five at-bats.
During the season, Robinson pursued potential major league interest. The Boston Red Sox held a tryout at Fenway Park for Robinson and other black players on April 16. The tryout, however, was a farce chiefly designed to assuage the desegregationist sensibilities of powerful Boston City Councilman Isadore Muchnick. Even with the stands limited to management, Robinson was subjected to racial epithets. Robinson left the tryout humiliated, and more than fourteen years later, in July 1959, the Red Sox became the last major league team to integrate its roster.