Don Newcombe

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Don Newcombe in 1955 with the Brooklyn Dodgers (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

“What I have done after my baseball career and being able to help people with their lives and getting their lives back on track and they become human beings again — means more to me than all the things I did in baseball.” ~ Don Newcombe

Don Newcombe passed away on Tuesday at the age of 92. The Dodgers’ pitcher played an important role in the integration of baseball. Along with Roy Campanella, he played for the first racially integrated team in the United States – the 1946 Nashua Dodgers – and became the third African American pitcher in Major League Baseball when he made his MLB debut in May 1949.

Newcombe pitched for the Newark Eagles in 1944 and 1945 before signing with the Dodgers in 1945. He spent the 1946 season with the Class B Nashua Dodgers. According to Wikipedia, the Dodgers chose Nashua, New Hampshire, as the location for its Class B minor league team given its large French Canadian population (who, it was assumed, would be more accepting of Black players) and its “racially progressive newspaper.” (Meanwhile, Jackie Robinson spent the 1946 season with the Dodgers triple-A team in Montreal, Canada.)

Newcombe spent two seasons in Nashua and one in Montreal before making his debut with the Dodgers in 1949, becoming the third African American pitcher in the majors. Dan Bankhead and Satchel Paige preceded him in 1947 and 1948, respectively. Newcombe won Rookie of the Year with a 19-11 record and followed that with a 20-9 season in 1951.

Newcombe missed the 1952 and 1953 seasons while in the Army during the Korean War, but returned to the Dodgers in 1954. He was traded to the Reds in 1958 and to the Indians in mid-1960. He was released at the end of the year. In 1962, he played for the Chunichi Dragons in Japan, primarily as an outfielder and first baseman. Newcombe returned to the Dodgers as their Director of Community Affairs in the late 1970s, and later was named special advisor to the chairman of team.

Although he battled alcoholism during and after his playing career, he became sober in 1967. In 1980, he established the Dodger Drug and Alcoholic Awareness Program and later became a consultant for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. He also served as the director for special projects for the New Beginning Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program and worked with veterans dealing with substance abuse through the USO.

Yesterday, Stan Kasten, president of the Dodgers, noted: “’Don Newcombe’s presence and life established him as a role model for major leaguers across the country. He was a constant presence at Dodger Stadium and players always gravitated to him for his endless advice and leadership. The Dodgers meant everything to him and we are all fortunate he was part of our lives.”

Thank you for your service and rest in peace, Mr. Newcombe.

~ baseballrebecca





Stat-urday, 2/16/2019

Radhames Liz during Spring Training with the San Diego Padres in 2010. Photo by SD Dirk via Wikipedia.

As I pointed out previously, right-handed pitcher Radhames Liz appeared on the roster for the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean Series. He was signed by the Orioles in 2003, and was in the Orioles system from 2005 to 2009. I remember him best from his years with the Bowie Baysox (2006-07, and a few games in 2009).

In three partial seasons with Bowie, Liz won 18 games and lost 6. His overall record in double A ball (which includes 8 games with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats) was 20-8 with a 3.31 ERA. In 42 games in the majors – with Baltimore and Pittsburgh – he had a record of 7-12 with a 6.94 ERA.

In his three seasons in Korea (2011-2013), Liz won 26 games and lost 38; his ERA was .406.  In 2016 he played only 5 games with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan, where he was 0 and 3 with a 6.94 ERA.

Liz seems to have fared better in winter ball – perhaps because he was playing in his own country. In 8 seasons with the Estrellas de Oriente, he’s 12-8 with an ERA of only 1.84. His playing career is summarized below:

Season Team(s)/Events
2005 Season Delmarva Shorebirds (A) and Aberdeen IronBirds (A-)
2006 Season Frederick Keys (A+) through 7/6; selected for All-Stars Futures game; Bowie Baysox; Estrellas de Oriente, Dominican Winter League (10/21-10/27)
2007 Season Bowie Baysox through 8/20, then made his Made MLB Debut with the Baltimore Orioles on 8/25; Estrellas de Oriente (11/12-12/16)
2008 Season Norfolk Tides (AAA); Baltimore Orioles; Estrellas de Oriente (11/28-12/13)
2009 Season Norfolk; Baltimore (4/15-4/20); Bowie (6/20-7/28); Estrellas de Oriente (11/7-12/9)
11/25/2009 Claimed off waivers by the San Diego Padres
2010 Season Portland Beavers (AAA); Estrellas de Oriente (10/23 – 12/20)
1/4/2011 Released by the San Diego Padres.
2011 Season LG Twins (Korea)
2012 Season LG Twins
2013 Season LG Twins
3/1/2014 Signed as a Free Agent with the Toronto Blue Jays.
2014 Season Started the season on the disabled list; New Hampshire Fisher Cats (AA) (5/25-7/12) and Buffalo Bisons (AAA) (6/4-7/28); Estrellas de Oriente (10/16 – 11/13)
11/4/2014 Granted Free Agency
12/12/2014 Signed as a Free Agent with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
2015 Season Pittsburgh Pirates and Indianapolis Indians (AAA) (6/13 – 8/30) (was designated for assignment on 5/25, assigned to Indianapolis, added to the MLB roster on 9/1, DFA’d again on 9/15)
11/5/2015 Released by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
2016 Season Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (Japan) (3/23 – 6/8)
2017 Season Estrellas de Oriente (10/15 – 12/2)
12/21/2017 Signed as a Free Agent with the Milwaukee Brewers.
2018 Season Colorado Springs Sky Sox (AAA) (4/7 – 5/23); released by the Brewers on 6/1; Estrellas de Oriente (10/13 – 12/15)
2019 Season Signed with the Lamigo Monkeys of the Chinese Professional Baseball League on 2/1/2019


Happy Stat-urday!

~ baseballrebecca


[Note: I originally planned to post this last week, but wanted to honor Frank Robinson. So, I decided to post this today instead.]


Which Team Will Be My Valentine?

MachadoIt’s Valentine’s Day, and I still don’t know which team to give my heart to.

The other day I said, “We should go to Miami, visit family, hang out at Versailles, and see a Marlins game.” Then it struck me (again): how can we plan a trip to see the Marlins when we don’t know which team we want to see them play? How can I plan anything when I don’t know which team(s) I’ll be following this year?

I noted previously that I feel like my life has been in limbo because of this Free Agency Shutdown. Every day I google  “Manny Machado” and “Bryce Harper” desperately hoping for news. This, in fact, occurs several times a day. It’s beginning to feel like I’m living the same day over and over again. And I feel like all of the social media posts and articles on Spring Training are mocking me. Spring Training should be a joyous time of year – not a time of desperation and unease. This is not the Valentine’s Day we are looking for.

Phil Rosenthal of the Chicago Tribune is apparently feeling the same way. Yesterday he wrote,

“After reading Manny Machado was spotted with Kyle Schwarber at the baptism for Albert Almora Jr.’s son, I want more Manny news. I want to know where he is at all times and who is with him. Like the Stanley Cup. Or a Kardashian. Going out for food. Hanging out by the pool. Attending a school recital. Seeing the new Rebel Wilson rom-com. Driving for Uber. Where’s my MannyGram app?”

He also had a great solution to our dilemma:

“Maybe Machado and Bryce Harper should sign with Netflix. Put them in an RV and have them travel to major-league ballparks around the country. They could talk to fans about why owners charging a markup of more than 1,000 percent on beer can’t cover the cost of a top free agent. They could confront owners, asking on camera why teams couldn’t use their talent and what a fair price for their services might be. Let them surprise kids at Little League fields along the way, too, offering playing tips, signing autographs, explaining how arbitration works and the way free agency is supposed to go.”

Rosenthal went on to discuss free agency and labor issues in MLB (I’ll stop quoting him, though, just read the article). And this is where the Baseball Sociology comes in: this is not about players’ greed or owners’ stating they are losing money. It’s about workers rights, the labor market, and business negotiations. One hundred free agents remain unsigned. Is the free agency system “broken,” as Justin Verlander suggests?

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Curt Flood (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

To analyze this fully could result in an entire dissertation or multi-volume encyclopedia set. But it’s important to know the facts. We’re coming up upon the 50th anniversary of the infamous trade of Curt Flood from the Cardinals to the Phillies, which set us on the path to free agency. We’re also heading toward the end of the current MLB collective bargaining agreement (in December 2021), which means  a lot of negotiations are coming.

Here are a few sites to help put the free agency issue into perspective:

Of course, the best source of information on free agency and players’ rights in Marvin Miller’s book, A Whole Different Ball Game: The Sport and Business of Baseball. This book is a must-read!

What’s missing from that list, however, is information on how this impacts the fans. Because right now, all I want to know is: which team will be my Valentine?

~ baseballrebecca

Tributes to Frank, Part 3

The outpouring of love for Frank Robinson has been amazing. Of course he was a hall of famer and a trailblazer, but Baltimore fans are used to no one else recognizing the greatness of their players and their city. Its nice to see just how much the rest of world loved him and recognized his impact on both baseball and society.

Here’s one tribute I missed the other day. My favorite player honoring one of my favorite former players:

And a few others I missed, or who chimed in late:

Even this guy had something to say:

Tributes to Frank, Part 2

The entire world continues to mourn the loss of Frank Robinson, who passed away last Thursday. Yesterday, I posted a few of the tributes from current and former MLB players and MLB teams. In addition, news outlets, national television networks, teams in other sports, and even politicians paid tribute to the legendary Frank Robinson:


Tributes to Frank, Part 1

Even though its been a few days, the sadness of losing Frank Robinson has not gone away. His importance to the game has been remembered by the entire nation. Some of the most moving tributes have been made by the baseball world, who likely knew him best.

It was this tweet by Jim Palmer that broke the news to me that our beloved Frank had passed on:

The baseball world quickly shared the news and their sorrow. Below are just a few of the tweets expressing condolences and appreciation for Robinson’s career:

Of course, it wasn’t just MLB that recognized the significance of Robinson’s baseball career. Tomorrow, I’ll recap some of the other tributes to Frank.

~ baseballrebecca