Happy Birthday, Mac Suzuki


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Mac Suzuki in 2009 with the Calgary Vipers (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

In honor of the last day of American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Mac Suzuki’s birthday, today we take a look at Suzuki’s baseball career. In 1996, Suzuki became the first Japanese player in the American League, and the third player from Japan in the Major Leagues. Suzuki was preceded by Masanori Murakami (who debuted with the Giants in 1964) and Hideo Nomo (who debuted with the Dodgers in 1995).

Makoto Suzuki was born in Kobe, Japan, on May 31, 1975. He played baseball for 18 seasons in both the U.S. and Japan. After his final game in Japan, Suzuki continued to play minor league baseball for another five seasons in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. His first job in baseball, however, was in 1992 as a batboy/clubhouse attendant for a minor league team in Salinas, California. When Suzuki was 16, his parents sent him to the United States partly as punishment for getting kicked out of high school and partly so that he could get a fresh start. Through family connections, Suzuki got a job with the Salinas Spurs making $300 a month. His main responsibilities were in the clubhouse washing uniforms and doing other housekeeping chores. However, at the end of the season, the team let Suzuki pitch in the final game. The next year, he became a full-time player.

The team moved to San Bernardino and was renamed the San Bernardino Spirit for the 1993 season (check back next week – I’ll trace the movements of the Salinas Spurs as a franchise). In 1993, Suzuki appeared in 48 games, winning 4 and losing 4, with an ERA of 3.68. After the season ended in September, Suzuki signed with the Seattle Mariners. Assigned to the AA Jacksonville Suns for the 1994 season, Suzuki appeared in 8 games and had an ERA of 2.84. He spent the 1995 season with the rookie-level Arizona Mariners and the high-A Riverside Pilots compiling a 5.40 ERA in 10 games. Suzuki spent the 1996 season with the AA Port City Roosters in Wilmington, North Carolina, and the AAA Tacoma Rainiers; he made his major league debut with the Seattle Mariners on July 7, 1996.

Suzuki spent the 1997 season and part of the 1998 season in Tacoma before being promoted to Seattle where he remained until he was traded to the Mets on June 18, 1999. Four days later he was claimed off waivers by the Royals. He was with the Royals for the remainder of the 1999 season, the 2000 season, and part of 2001. On June 24, 2001, Suzuki was traded to the Rockies. He appeared in 3 games for the Rockies before being claimed off waivers by the Brewers on July 12. He appeared in 15 games with the Brewers before being released from the team on October 12, 2001. Two months later, Suzuki signed as a free agent with the Royals for $200,000. He played 30 games in the minors in 2002 at both the AA Wichita Wranglers and the AAA Omaha Royals, as well as appearing in 7 games for the Kansas City Royals.

The Royals released Suzuki in 2002 and he subsequently announced he would enter the Japanese leagues the next season. He was selected by the Orix BlueWave. After not pitching at all in 2005, he was cut from the team at the end of the season. In December, Suzuki signed a minor league contract with the Oakland A’s. However, he did not make the major league team out of Spring Training and later signed instead with the Tijuana Petroleros of the Mexican League. He also signed a minor league contract with the Chicago Cubs and spent some time with the AAA Iowa Cubs in 2006.

The following year found Suzuki in Tabasco, Mexico, playing for the Olmecas de Tabasco. He pitched in 16 games in 2007, achieving a 5-4 record and an ERA of 3.28. Suzuki spent 2008 with the Chihuahua Dorados of the Mexican League and the Calgary Vipers of the independent Golden League. In 2009, he played again with Calgary and also played for the independent Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the Atlantic League. In 2010, he returned to both Calgary and Chihuahua. His final appearance was with the Chihuahua Dorados on July 25, 2010.

Today, Suzuki is a baseball analyst in Japan and also operates a fitness club and a sports bar. Hopefully he’ll make an appearance next year when the Mariners open the season against the A’s in Tokyo.

Happy birthday, Mac!

~ baseballrebecca

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A Week Without Baseball: Postscript


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Tower at Heathrow Airport (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Last week I recounted my agony over being without baseball for an entire week while on vacation in Europe. Its really hard to find anything baseball-related in London, Malaga, or Paris (aside from the random person wearing a Yankees cap no matter where you go). After a week of longing for my teams, we spent one last night in London before our return flight home.  We arrived at the Heathrow Airport Hilton, checked in, and immediately turned on the TV. And to my great surprise and delight, there was a baseball game!

I figured they were just playing the game because MLB had just announced that day that they would be playing a game in London in 2019. Nonetheless, I imprinted the name of the TV channel on my brain in case I ever had occasion to be in London during baseball season again. It turns out that BT Sport-ESPN is an all-sports TV channel airing in the United Kingdom and Ireland – and it focuses on North American sports. It had been operated by ESPN from 2009 to 2013. In 2013, England’s BT Group acquired ESPN’s UK and Ireland TV business. In 2015, the channel was renamed BTS-ESPN.

Satellite_dish_1_C-BandThe important thing here is that baseball games are televised in the United Kingdom. This is good news for those of us who find themselves in the UK during baseball season. BT has several other sports channels as well and, in fact, BTS 1 is showing the Astros-Yankees game tonight. Or tomorrow morning. Sometime soon? Yesterday? I’m not sure about the whole time difference thing…

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

Elmer J. Gedeon, Captain, U.S. Army Air Force


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Elmer Gedeon in 1939 at the University of Michigan (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Memorial Day may be the unofficial start to summer, but its also a federal holiday to remember those who died while serving in the armed forces. In conducting research for this post, I stumbled upon the website, Baseball’s Greatest Sacrifice, developed by Gary Bedingfield. The site honors major leaguers, minor leaguers, Negro Leaguers, and college, semipro, and amateur ballplayers who died during wartime.

According to Bedingfield’s research, one such player was Elmer Gedeon. After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1939, Gedeon signed with the Washington Senators and was assigned to the Class D Orlando Senators. At the end of the season he was called up to the Senators, where he made his major league debut on September 18, 1939. Gedeon appeared in 5 games with the Senators batting .200 in 17 plate appearances with one RBI.

Gedeon attended Spring Training with the Senators in 1940 and was assigned to the Class B Charlotte Hornets for the 1940 season. In Charlotte, he appeared in 131 games and had a batting average of .271. He had 127 hits, including 11 home runs. That September he was again called up to the Senators but did not appear in any games.

Gedeon received a draft notice in January 1941. Although he went to Spring Training with Charlotte he joined the Army in March. He reported to the U.S. Army Cavalry Replacement Center at Fort Riley, Kansas, on March 18, 1941, and was placed on the Washington Senators’ National Defense Service List. In October 1941, Gedeon transferred to the U.S. Army Air Force and, in 1942, earned his pilot’s wings and a commission as a second lieutenant at Williams Field in Arizona. He then joined the 315th Bomb Squadron, 21st Bomb Group at MacDill Field in Tampa, Florida.

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B-26 Marauder, photo courtesy of Maxwell Air Force Base via Wikipedia

Gedeon was transferred to the newly formed 394th Bomb Group at MacDill in March 1943 and the group was assigned to Boreham Field in England the following February. By this time, Gedeon had been promoted to captain. On April 20, 1944, Captain Gedeon piloted a B-26 Marauder, one of 30 Marauders, from Boreham Field to Bois d’Esquerdes, France. Their mission was to bomb a site being constructed by the Germans. Unfortunately, the group was hit by anti-aircraft fire. Gedeon’s co-pilot, James T. Taaffe, was able to eject from the plane, but Gedeon was not. Taafe was taken prisoner by German soldiers. Later, it was discovered that Gedeon and the other missing airmen from that night had been buried in a British Army cemetery in St. Pol, France. Gedeon’s remains were later returned to the United States where he was interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

Thanks to Gary Bedingfield for this amazing research.

And thank you for your service, Captain Gedeon.

Happy Memorial Day!

~ baseballrebecca

 

Best of the Week: 5/20/18 – 5/26/2018


On Monday, in his first game with the Washington Nationals as a starter (he struck out pinch-hitting on Sunday), 19-year old Juan Soto got his first hit. And his first hit was a home run. And his home run was a 3-run home run.

Soto started the season with the low-A Hagerstown Suns. He was promoted to high-A on April 23. On May 10, he went to the double A Harrisburg Senators where he played in 8 games before being called up to the majors on May 20. His rose through the minors so quickly, I never even got a chance to see him there!

Congrats, Juan! Welcome to Washington!

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

Stat-urday, 5/26/2018


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Harry Wright in 1863 (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

In keeping with this week’s theme of baseball in Europe (or the lack thereof), just how many players have come from England, France, and Spain?

A total of 48 MLB players were born in the United Kingdom, starting with Hall of Famer Harry Wright in 1871. Twenty-two of these players played during the 18th Century, 23 during the 20th Century, and 3 in the 21st Century. These 48 players played a total of 11,903 games with a combined batting average of .252 with 457 home runs. The only All-Star among them is Bobby Thomson, who hit 264 of those 457 home runs.

Since 1875, there have been seven Major Leaguers from France: Larry Ressler (1875), Claude Gouzzie (1903), Paul Krichell (1911-12), Duke Markell (1951), Bruce Bochy (1978-87), Charlie Lea (1980-88), and Steve Jeltz (1983-90). In total, they played 1,333 games, amassed 664 hits, hit 31 homeruns, appeared in one All-Star Game, and have a cumulative batting average of .210. In addition, two of these players were pitchers (Lea and Markell) and have a combined ERA of 3.60 with a win-loss percentage of .563.

Just four players MLB players have been born in Spain. The first was Al Cabrera who played one game in 1913. Next was Bryan Oelkers who pitched in 45 games over two years (1983 and 1986). Next came Al Pardo a catcher who played in 53 games in fours years (1985-86 and 1988-89). The most recent Spanish-born Major Leaguer was Danny Rios who pitched in two games in 1997 and five games in 1998.

~ baseballrebecca

Films on Fridays: The Ubiquitous Yankees


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A-Rod in 2008 (wearing one of those shirts), photo courtesy of Keith Allison (via Wikipedia)

One of the most popular bands of all time in Spain, is Hombres G, headed by David Summers (not pictured on the right). I mean seriously popular. They’ve literally been called “the Beatles of Spain.” They also happen to be one of my absolute most favorite bands. Ever. I’ve been following Hombres G since the 1980s, and their popularity has grown exponentially since then.

Of course, even they have fallen prey to the dreaded Yankees. Here’s a clip of the band performing in 2016 in New York. And David Summers is wearing one of those shirts (also pictured on the right):

He did not wear a Washington Nationals or a Baltimore Orioles shirt at their concert in Silver Spring, Maryland, a few days later. What’s up with that? Maybe I’ll have to send him a shirt in time for this year’s concert.

If you want to actually hear the song, here’s an official video from the band from a 2015 concert in Madrid. What, no Yankees shirt, David?

Happy Friday!

~ baseballrebecca

PS Let me know what you think of my new Friday feature: Films on Fridays. I’ve been pretty much posting videos on Fridays anyway, so I figured I’d make it official!

A Week Without Baseball, Part 3


IMG_1927Paris. The City of Lights. The home of the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and the Louvre. But not, apparently, the home of baseball. The third leg of our European vacation was Paris, France. By the time we arrived there, we’d already spent nearly a week without baseball. We’d seen more ads for football than we ever thought we would. I was really missing my baseball teams at that point.

I have to admit, I wasn’t very prepared for this part of the trip. Not only was it the third city we’d be visiting, I also don’t speak French. Researching London and Malaga were exhausting enough – and I speak English and Spanish (sort of). All I knew I wanted to see in Paris for sure was the Eiffel Tower. So, we both figured we’d just experience Paris, maybe take one of those tourist bus tours and just get the lay of the land. So that’s precisely what we did.

However, if I had done my homework, I would have known that back in September, Paris had been awarded the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. At the same time, the International Olympic Committee had announced that Los Angeles would host the 2028 Summer Olympics. Recently it has been pointed out that the decision to have these two cities host the summer Olympics is good news for baseball. In fact, Franceinfo reported something about baseball in the 2024 Olympics just before we arrived in Paris. Of course, I have no idea what they reported. Did I mention I don’t know French?

Although baseball and softball were removed from the Olympic schedule beginning with the 2012 Olympics, they will be included in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Apparently, the host nation is allowed to select additional sports to be included at the games. Since baseball is big in Japan, the Tokyo Organising Committee for the 2020 games voted to include baseball and softball. With baseball almost a shoo-in to be included in 2028 in Los Angeles, that means there’s a good chance for my favorite sport to also be included in 2024. In March, the president of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) met with the French Minister of Sports to discuss just that.

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Stade Sebastien Charléty, Paris, France, in 2005 (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

So, had I done my research and known any of that, I would have been sure to include Stade Sébastien Charléty on my Paris itinerary. This stadium, currently used for football, of course, was built in 1939, and renovated in 1994. It is the proposed site for both baseball and softball should they be included in the 2024 Olympics.

Alas, I was not aware of any of that. Thus, sadly, I spent my time in Paris completely devoid of baseball.

That is, until we arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport for our flight back to London to go home. There I spotted a young lady wearing – of course – a Yankees cap. Fortunately, her traveling companion had better taste. She was wearing a Dodgers cap.

~ baseballrebecca