Growing up in Michigan in the 1960's and '70's, following the Detroit Tigers was very limited. Either you followed the team in the newspaper, on tv during the 11 o'clock news, on a Saturday afternoon during a Tigers homestand, the only time you got to see a game on tv, or by listening to Ernie Harwell describe the games on the radio.
Ernie and the Tigers were how i ended every night, with my trusty transistor radio under my pillow, rooting on my hero, Bill Freehan, and hoping the Tigers would win.
Ernie died on Tuesday, at age 93, survived by his wife Lulu, the first time they've been apart in 68 years. Tiger baseball was special with Ernie behind the mike, and he will never be forgotten.
Here's as look at my tribute to Ernie, as well as a look back at the Phillies Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts, who passed away yesterday, at age 83, as well as a Happy 79th Birthday to The Say Hey Kid, Willie Mays.
The articles below are from my blog, www.johnsbigleaguebaseballblog.blogspot.com.
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Friday, May 7, 2010
We remember Robin Roberts,Mr. Phillie
Robin Roberts, the hard throwing right handed pitcher for the 1950 National League Champion Whiz Kid Philadelphia Phillies passed away on Thursday at the age of 83.
A graduate of Michigan State University, were he was a star basketball player for the Spartans, Roberts was simply the best hurler in the National League between 1950, and 1955. He led the N.L. in wins in 1952-53-54-55, led the N.L. in innings pitched in 1951-52-53-54-55, and in complete games in 1952-53-54-55-56, once throwing 28 complete games between the '52-'53 seasons. Roberts won 286 big league games, struck put 2,357 batters, and finished with an ERA of 3.41. The strong right hander threw 305 complete games, 5 more than the total of every Phillies pitcher from 1985 to the present day.
. Roberts one problem during his big league career was the long ball...he gave up a record 505 HR's, a record that may be broken by current Phillies left hander Jamie Moyer, who has served up 498 gopher balls.
Roberts continued to follow the Phillies closely after his retirement, and the team will wear a special patch on their jerseys the rest of the season in honor of Roberts.
Roberts had his #36 retired by the Phillies in 1962, and in 1976 he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Posted by jaxtigerfan at 11:07 AM 0 comments
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Say Hey, Happy 79th Birthday to Willie Mays
Growing up as a young baseball fan, they were the numbers everyone knew...755, 714, and 660.
We all knew the numbers, those majestic home run totals of baseball lore, 755 home runs,...Hank Aaron, 714 home runs, Babe Ruth, and 660 home runs...the Say Hey Kid, Willie Mays.
660, The Say Hey Kid, Willie Mays, arguably the best all around player in the history of big league's celebrates his 79th birthday today, and so here's a look at the career of the man who made the basket catch a household name.
Willie Mays was born in Westfield, Alabama on May 6, 1931.
Willie began his professional career in 1947 with the Chattanooga Choo Choo's, and in 1948 began playing in the Negro National League with the Birmingham Black Barons.
Willie made his Major League debut with the New York Giants on May 25th, 1951, started his career 0-12, then hit a HR in his 13th at bat of future Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn.
Willie was the Giants on deck hitter when teammate Bobby Thompson hit his famous "Shot Heard 'Round the World" as the Giants defeated the Dodgers in the 1951 N.L. three game playoffs, 2 games to one.
Who can ever forget the Say Hey Kid's most famous play, "The Catch", off the bat of the Cleveland Indians Vic Wertz in 1954...
1951 N.L. Rookie of the Year
Member of the 1951 World Series Champion New York Giants
N.L. MVP, in 1954, and 1965.
1963, 1968 All Star Game MVP
24 Time All-Star Selection
12 Time Gold Glove award Winner
The First Player in the 30/30 Club, with 38 Home Runs, and 40 Stolen Bases in 1956.
Willie Mays had a .302 lifetime batting average, drove in 3,283 runs, and, of course, hit 660 HR's during his 23 years in the big leagues.
Willie Mays was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, in 1979.
Posted by jaxtigerfan at 11:15 AM 0 comments
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Jax Suns Duo win SL Honors
Suns fans, the Suns continued their great start to the 2010 season as two Suns players collected SL honors this week. Get to the park before these guys are playing in the big leagues.
JACKSONVILLE, FL - Two Suns players earned Southern League Player of the Week honors for the week of April 26-May 2. Mike Stanton was Hitter of the Week, while Alex Sanabia was named Pitcher of the Week. With 13 home runs and 29 RBI, Mike Stanton is having a phenomenal season at the plate. He leads the league not only in home runs and RBI, but he also has the highest slugging percentage at .884 as well as the most runs and the highest on base percentage, at 26 and .504, respectively. During the week of April 26-May 2, Stanton slugged six home runs and batted in 13 runs against Carolina and Mississippi combined, including a three-homer, seven RBI day on April 26 to back up his two-homer game on April 25. On the week, Stanton batted .476 with an incredible 1.476 slugging percentage. The Sunland, CA, native was selected to play in the 2009 Futures Game and is the Marlins #1 prospect. During his two starts this past week, Alex Sanabia struck out 14 batters over 13 innings, allowing only eight hits and two walks to go 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA. Sanabia has recorded 30 strikeouts across the 31 innings he's pitched in 2010, and for the season, Sanabia is currently third in the league with a 1.15 ERA. The right-hander was born in San Diego, California and was drafted by the Marlins organization in 2006. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
Posted by jaxtigerfan at 12:32 PM 0 comments
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
A long time ago, back in the days when people actually listened to baseball games on the radio, the Detroit Tigers were playing against, well, someone, the A's, or the Angels, when a pitch was fouled off into the crowd at Tiger Stadium. The Tigers announcer described the foul ball like this..."and a fine catch by a young man from Battle Creek." I was a young baseball fan, a Tigers fan, and I was perplexed. "How does Ernie know the one who caught the foul ball..", I asked my Uncle. My Uncle looked at me, and simply said "Son, Ernie knows everyone.",
That kid from Battle Creek, just like the kid from Port Huron, the one from Ishpeming, the one from Saginaw, the kid from Warren, and even myself, a kid from Kalamazoo, we all lost a part of us today, part of that kid still inside us. Today we lost Ernie Harwell.
Ernie Harwell, the legendary voice of the Detroit Tigers for 42 years, died today, succumbing to bile duct cancer at the age of 92.
What do you say about a man like Ernie Harwell, a man who lived his life to the fullest, who lived his boyhood dream of covering big league baseball. Even though he wanted to be a sports writer, Ernie never went a day without thanking God that he became a radio man, a job that kept him in the game of baseball for 55 years.
55 years. 55 years of covering Hall of Fame players like Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Willie Mays of the New York Giants, Brooks Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles, and Al Kaline of the Detroit Tigers.
55 years of painting the pictures of green outfield grass, towering grandstands, blazing fastballs, 5-4-3 double plays, and a batter looking at a called strike three.."and he stood there like a house by the side of the road."
Baseball has gone through many changes over the last few decades, things like five man rotations, the use of the Designated Hitter, the prominence of the closer, astro turf...both coming, and going, the Steroid Era. But the one change that I really miss is the love affair with baseball and the radio. Yes, I know you can still pick up a game on the internet, but today's game has lost that special relationship that we had as kids, when the only way to find out how the Tigers were doing was to get the old transistor radio, and tune in Paul Carey, Ray Lane, and Ernie Harwell.
They made baseball special. They made a kid listening to the radio think that he was talking directly to him or her, that he was talking to just you, and you alone. Men like Ernie Harwell made a young boy like me a fan for life, of not just the players on the field, but of the men in the booth. They were part of our family.
Today we mourn the loss of a beloved man, but we also celebrate his life, and the lives of every young boy and girl that caught all those foul balls in Tiger Stadium.