Stat-urday, 7/20/2019: Gaylord Perry’s “Moon Shot”


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Gaylord Perry with the Tacoma Giants in 1961 (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

On July 20, 1969, pitcher Gaylord Perry hit is his first major league home run. In his 22-year career Perry would amass a batting average of .131 with 141 hits, including 17 doubles, 6 home runs, and 47 RBI. As a Hall of Fame pitcher, however, he’d finish his career with a 3.11 ERA, allowing 399 home runs with a win-loss percentage of .542.

One of the myth’s surrounding Perry is the tale that his manager with the Giants once said, “a man will land on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run.” According to MLB.com’s Cut 4, the story goes as follows:

One day during the ’64 season, [San Francisco Giants Manager Alvin] Dark and San Francisco Examiner reporter Harry Jupiter looked on as Perry smacked some home runs during batting practice. Jupiter told Dark that Perry looked pretty good with a bat in his hands and remarked that the pitcher might even hit a home run one of these days. Dark’s response set in motion one of the weirdest coincidences in baseball history: “Mark my words,” he said, “a man will land on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run.”

And if you don’t believe that, here’s Perry telling the story himself:

 

Happy Stat-urday! Happy Moon Landing Day!

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

 

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Stat-urday, 7/13/2019


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Vida Blue pitching for the Oakland A’s, July 1973 (photo courtesy of the National Archives via Wikipedia)

Next Saturday marks a big anniversary. Well, make that two – because July 20th is the 50th anniversary of Vida Blue’s Major League debut, when he pitched 5 1/3 innings for the Oakland A’s giving up 6 hits and 5 runs (3 earned). The following day, the New York Times barely mentioned Blue’s inauspicious first outing in its summary of the Angels and A’s doubleheader: “In the first game Aurelio Rodriguez and Jim Spencer greeted the major league debut of southpaw picture, Vida Blue, with Homers.” [“A’s Top Angels, 9-6 after 7-3 Defeat: Jackson Clouts 37th Homer – Bando Also Connects,” The New York Times, July 21, 1969, p. 44]

Of course, the less than memorable event may have been overshadowed by news of the Apollo 11 moon landing on the same day, which got more space in the sport section than did Blue:

Baseball paid tribute to America’s astronauts yesterday by halting play at three ball parks when the lunar module, Eagle, touched down on the moon. In Philadelphia, the second game of a double-header between the Phillies and the Chicago Cubs was stopped for five minutes in the third inning and players from both teams lined up along the foul lines. There was a moment of silent prayer for continued success of the mission and a recording was played of Kate Smith singing “God Bless America.” The lunar landing was also observed at Montreal’s Jarry Park, where the Expos played the New York Mets, and at Atlanta Stadium, where the Braves played the San Diego Padres.” [“Three Baseball Parks Salute the Touchdown,” New York Times, July 21, 1960, p. 43.]

According to the Society of American Baseball Research, Blue started three more games for the A’s in 1969 and then spent the rest of the season in the bullpen. The following season he started for the triple-Iowa Oaks before being called up to the A’s in September. Blue would go on to pitch in the majors for an additional 15 years until his retirement in 1986. Over his MLB career, he pitched in 502 games, starting 473 times. He won 209 games, lost 161, and saved 2. His career ERA was 3.27.

Happy Stat-urday!

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

 

Tyler Skaggs, 1991-2019


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Tyler Skaggs with the Diamondbacks in 2013 (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Los Angeles Angels’ pitcher Tyler Skaggs died on Monday. He was just a week or so away from his 28th birthday. The authorities have yet to identify a cause of death, though they have ruled out foul play and suicide. A lot has already been written about Skaggs’ life, career, and impact on others, so I won’t reiterate that here (see yesterday’s post by RIP Baseball, for example, which was a really nice tribute).

As the Angels play clear across the country, I really don’t follow them and knew very little about Skaggs. Nonetheless, as a baseball fan I was saddended by the news of his death, like other fans. As a sociologist, I wondered why that was.

Baseball fans are a community – we share a love for the game and an admiration of those who play. The players represent ourselves and our cities. Thus, is natural that we feel a connection to the larger baseball community at a time of tragedy or deep sadness. Even if Skaggs didn’t pitch for your favorite team, the impact was felt by your team and your community. And, thus, by you.

As a society, we are afraid death and of the unknown. When death comes “too soon” and takes away someone with a promising future, we fail to understand how such an injustice could happen. Our hearts ache for Skaggs’ family and we can barely fathom what his young wife must be going through. Often, thoughts turn to our own lives and families. And that’s ok.

Because death is a taboo subject in society, we often do not have ways to cope with our emotions surrounding death – perhaps even more so when we are not in the person’s inner circle. Grieving for celebrities and athletes, seeking out information on what happened, and reading the many tributes and memorials is natural. It helps us connect with our own feelings and the larger community. It proves we are human and capable of empathy.

As part of the larger baseball community, we, the fans, share in the grief over the loss of a member of our community. We may not have known Tyler, but we understand what he meant to those who knew him personally, played with him, and were his fans. We share your sadness and support you in your time of loss.

Rest in peace, Tyler. You will be missed – by many.

~ baseballrebecca

 

References:

Deborah Carr, “3 Reasons We Mourn Celebrity Deaths: The benefits of sharing emotions communally,” Psychology Today, January 19, 2016, accessed at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/bouncing-back/201601/3-reasons-we-mourn-celebrity-deaths.

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, “When death goes viral: mourning celebrities on social media,” The Guardian, August 21, 2014, accessed at https://www.theguardian.com/media-network/media-network-blog/2014/aug/21/robin-williams-mourning-death-celebrities-social-media-viral.

Katherine Ellen Foley, “Feeling grief is a totally reaction to a celebrity death,” Quartz.com, June 8, 2018, accessed at: https://qz.com/1301069/when-celebrities-die-its-normal-to-feel-personal-grief/

Monica Hesse, “Tweet it and weep? Online, grief over dead celebrities is about us,” The Washington Post, May 24, 2012, accessed at https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/social-mourning-tweets-are-less-about-dead-celebrities-than-they-are-about-us/2012/05/24/gJQABtFFoU_story.html?utm_term=.6ed91c307902.

Lindsey Holmes, “Here’s Why Celebrity Deaths Can Feel So Personal,” Huffington Post, June 5, 2018, accessed at https://www.huffpost.com/entry/mourning-prince-why-we-grieve-celebrity-deaths-grief_n_57190ba4e4b0d4d3f722974a.

Tony Walter, “Viewpoint: Sociology of Mortality – Existential or Pragmatic?” February 6, 2018, accessed at https://discoversociety.org/2018/02/06/viewpoint-sociology-of-mortality-existential-or-pragmatic/.

 

 

 

 

Manny Returns


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Manny Machado in the on deck circle at Camden Yards, June 25, 2019

As I mentioned on Sunday, a week ago my favorite player, Manny Machado, was back in Baltimore playing  against the Orioles with his new team, the San Diego Padres. Since I still haven’t forgiven the O’s for trading him, I wore my Manny Padres shirt and my Lake Elsinore Storm cap. I wasn’t the only Padres fan there.

I’ve been a Manny fan ever since the O’s signed him, and I watched him play single-A and double-A ball with the Frederick Keys and Bowie Baysox before he skipped triple-A and went up to the Orioles in 2012. I even went to one of his rehab games in Frederick in 2014. So I certainly wasn’t going to miss seeing him when the Padres came to town for an inter-league game this year.

As I knew they would, Orioles’ fans gave Manny a standing ovation when he came up for his first at bat. He gave a little wave to the fans in response. When he hit a home run in the 3rd inning, we cheered again. It was a bittersweet night. But at least we got to see our Manny again. And he looked like he enjoyed catching up with his old teammates. Check out the pics below.

~ baseballrebecca

 

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Hugging Miguel Castro: this brought a tear to my eye.

A standing ovation for Manny.

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Manny and Fernando Tatis, Jr.

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Stat-urday, 6/22/2019


Corey Paul turned 50 yesterday. Who’s that, you ask? Corey Paul was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 16th round of the 1987 MLB amateur draft. He spent the 1987 season in Northwest League playing for the Bellingham Mariners. In 33 games, he had only 13 hits and 7 RBI, with a batting average of .137. Paul took the next year off, but returned to Bellingham in 1989. That year he improved his batting average to .237, hitting 3 home runs and 25 RBI in 59 games. In 1990, he was promoted to the high-A Salinas Spurs in the California League, where he batted .226 in 80 games with 28 RBI and 4 home runs.

Although Paul did not return to the Mariners’ system after the 1990 season, he did resurface a few years later in the independent Western League, playing for teams in California and Washington between 1995 and 1998. In 1999, Paul started the season in Taiwan before moving to Tokorozawa, Japan, to play for the Seibu Lions of the Japan Pacific League. He then spent the 2002 season in Korea with the Hyundai Unicorns. Paul returned to North America in 2003, playing for first for Saltillo, then for Tabasco. He also played winter ball for the Algonoderos de Guasave in the Mexican Pacific League and the Oriente Caribbeans in the Venezuela Winter League. In 2004, Paul was again the United States, playing in the independent Northern League with Fargo-Moorhead and Joliet. He played for Calgary in the same league in 2005. Check out his stats below.

During his professional baseball career, Paul played for teams in Mexico, Venezuela, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Canada, and the United States. I wonder what the stats are for the most countries a player has played in?

Happy Stat-urday!

~ baseballrebecca

Year Team League G H HR RBI BA OBP
1987 Bellingham Mariners Northwest League 33 13 0 7 0.137 0.281
1989 Bellingham Mariners Northwest League 59 47 3 25 0.237 0.367
1990 Salinas Spurs California League 89 52 4 28 0.226 0.35
1995 Grays Harbor Gulls Western League 74 76 9 36 0.297 0.399
1996 Tri-City Posse Western League 81 87 5 43 0.326 0.395
1997 Chico Heat Western League 53 64 6 41 0.348 0.496
1998 Tri-City Posse Western League 88 90 13 58 0.296 0.433
1999 Taipei Suns Taiwan Major League 39 0.360
1999 Seibu Lions Japan Pacific League 59 47 12 29 0.257 0.318
2000 Seibu Lions Japan Pacific League 47 30 4 18 0.242 0.333
2002 Hyundai Unicorns Korean Baseball Organization 113 111 18 64 0.28 0.345
2003 Saltillo Saraperos Mexican League 66 83 9 45 0.356 0.446
2003 Tabasco Olmecas Mexican League 28 25 2 8 0.258 0.405
2004 Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks Northern League 11 9 1 7 0.25 0.372
2004 Joliet Jackhammers Northern League 84 92 10 45 0.298 0.407
2005 Calgary Vipers Northern League 29 27 3 15 0.265 0.394
Career Totals: 914 853 99 469 0.283 0.389