Sachio Kinugasa, Iron Man

Sachio Kinugasa and Cal Ripken, Jr., in Japan in 2011.

Last week the world lost Sachio Kinugasa, who passed away on April 23 at the age of 71. Kinugasa was the Japanese Iron Man who broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played record in 1987. Ultimately, he would play 2,215 consecutive games.

Kinugasa was born in 1947 in the Higashiyama Ward in Japan. He made his Japanese baseball debut on May 16, 1965, at the age of 18. He played for the Hiroshima Carp for his entire 23-year career and set the Japanese record for consecutive games played on August 2, 1980, after playing his 1,247th consecutive game. This earned him the nickname Tetsujin, (Japanese for Iron Man) after the robot Tetsujin 28 of Japanese Manga (known as “Gigantor” in the United States).

In 1996, Kinugasa’s consecutive games record was broken by Cal Ripken, Jr., who had broken Lou Gehrig’s record of 2,130 consecutive MLB games the previous year. Cal would go on to play in 2,632 consecutive games – 417 more than Kinugasa. (Cal ended his streak voluntarily in 1998.) Kinugasa retired in 1987 and went on to become a baseball commentator. He was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996. After meeting Cal Ripken during Ripken’s streak, Kinugasa and Ripken maintained their friendship, even co-hosting youth clinics in Kyoto as part of Ripken’s work as a U.S. Public Diplomacy Envoy.

Last week, upon hearing of Kingasa’s death, Cal stated: “I am very saddened by the news of Sachio Kinugasa’s passing. He and I shared an approach to the game we love, but for me, the friendship we shared was so much more valuable. Mr. Kinugasa was a great man and I was honored to call him my friend and the respect I have for him is immense. My condolences and thoughts are with his family, friends, and the wonderful baseball fans throughout Japan.”

Rest in peace, Sachio.

~ baseballrebecca


According to Cal

The Baseball Hall of Fame posted this yesterday and, well, it’s Cal – so I had to share:


The Derby Must Go On

Miguel Cabrera, 2012 (photo courtesy of Cbl62 via Wikipedia)
Despite previous announcements that David Ortiz, Robinson Cano, and Miguel Cabrera would be participating in the Home Run Derby for the Caribbean Series tonight, MLB and the MLBPA announced on Monday that they would not be allowed to participate, reminding us yet again of the business aspects of the game.  As reported by ESPN, the MLBPA executive director explained that participation in the derby would be contrary to the players’ best interests because, “Unfortunately, the people in charge of the event didn’t follow the necessary protocol to ensure that any major leaguers participating in an event like that one is protected from a possible injury.” Nonetheless, the derby will go on. Remaining in the contest are: Alfred Despaigne and Yosvani Alarcon of Cuba’s team, Felix Perez of Venezuela, Cyle Hankerd of Mexico, Kennys Vargas of Puerto Rico, and retired MLB player, Vladimir Guerrero. ESPN noted that Vargas is also an MLB player, but will be permitted to participate in the home run derby, unlike the other, higher paid, MLB stars.


Tonight’s home run derby will also make history as the first one conducted as part of the Caribbean Series. That made me wonder how long the concept has been around. The first home run derby I can remember is, naturally, the one Cal Ripken won in 1991. The other memorable HR derby, for me, was part of last year’s AAA All-Star Game, where another of my Orioles, Dariel Alvarez, won with a total of 21 home runs over three rounds.

So when did “home run derby” first become part of our lexicon? Although the first MLB home run derby was conducted in 1985, it wasn’t televised until 1993. Unfortunately, minor league baseball home run derbies were not so easily Googled, so they will require more research. I did, however, find out about a TV show from the 1960s called, “Home Run Derby.” (I’ll post more about that tomorrow.)

One of the coolest things I uncovered was this footage from 2009 with 16-year-old high schooler, Bryce Harper, competing against minor leaguers – and winning – a home run derby in Salt Lake City, UT.


 ~ baseballrebecca

The Brother Plan, Part 2

Harper brothersYesterday I posed the question, if your brother signs with an MLB team, can he get you a job too? In that post I covered Zach and Buck Britton, Jonathan and Sharlon Schoop, and Caleb and Corban Joseph – all brother teams that have a connection to the Baltimore Orioles. Curiously, the younger brother is in the big leagues, while the older brother still toils in the minors.

This is also the case with the Washington Nationals’ Bryan and Bryce Harper. Bryan Harper was drafted in the 31st round of the 2008 draft by the Washington Nationals, and in the 27th round of the 2010 draft by the Cubs. He was drafted again by the Nationals in the 30th round of the 2011 draft, one year after his little brother Bryce was the first pick of the first round of the 2010 draft. Bryce started his career in the Arizona Fall League in 2010 and made his major league debut on April 28, 2012. Bryan spent 2012 in the New York-Penn League. He finished the 2015 season with the Nationals AAA team, the Syracuse Chiefs.

Of course, some baseball brothers have followed more parallel paths. Take, for example, Dylan and Bobby Bundy, both of whom are in the Orioles organization. The older of the two, Bobby, was drafted by the Orioles in 2008, and the younger, Dylan, was drafted in 2011. Dylan made it to the majors first – after beginning his minor league career in 2012 and was called up to Baltimore from Bowie at the end of the 2012 season. Dylan, who had been in the Orioles farm system since 2008, had been promoted to Bowie in 2011 and remained there in 2012.

Prior to the start of the 2013 season, however, Dylan experienced elbow pain and ended up undergoing Tommy John surgery in June of that year. Three months later, Bobby would have the same surgery. The pair spent 2014 rehabbing and both began the 2015 season in Bowie. However, in May the Orioles announced that Bobby needed knee surgery and would miss the rest of the season. Then in June, the Orioles shut down Dylan “indefinitely” due to a shoulder injury. Hopefully we will see these two brother again.

Cal and Bill 1989Of course, one of the most famous brother duos – at least in the Maryland-DC area – was Cal and Billy Ripken. In this case, it was the older of the two that would make history. Cal Ripken was drafted in the 2nd round of the 1978 draft and made his MLB debut on August 10, 1981. Younger brother Billy was chosen by the Orioles in the 11th round of the 1982 draft. Cal played through the 2001 season – the entire time for the Baltimore Orioles. Among other honors, Cal was a 19-time All Star, was AL MVP twice, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007. Billy played in the majors from July 1987 through July 1998. After the 1992 season, Billy was signed by the Texas Rangers. He finished his career with the Detroit Tigers in 1998. But he’s still Maryland’s favorite little brother.

Have you hugged your brother today?

~ baseballrebecca

Lando Calrissian vs. Cal Ripken

CHT2D32UMAAgi6wAs the minor league season winds down, it’s time to update you on the latest in minor league theme jerseys. A few weeks ago, held it’s first-ever “Jersey Joust” competition. Folks could go online and vote for their favorite jersey. Pictures of all 124 jerseys in the contest are on the website.

And the winner was… the Potomac Nationals Lando Clarissian jersey!  According to the P-Nats’ general manager, Josh Olerud (as quoted on “‘When our players got it, some of them are so young that they didn’t even know who the character or actor was. Once they did a little research, they thought it was the coolest thing ever.'”

I agree the Lando jerseys are pretty cool. But last night, another team wore even cooler jerseys: the Aberdeen Ironbirds donned Cal Ripken 2131 jerseys in honor of the 20th anniversary of Cal’s iron man streak. Of course, it was only fitting since the team is owned by Cal, they are located in Cal’s home town, and they play in Ripken Stadium.

Sorry, Billy Dee Williams, but Cal is way cooler!

~ baseballrebecca


More Bobbles Coming!

It’s 2015_Promo_Schedule_grnvz89p_v816qe6qOpening Day for the New York-Penn League and time for another update to the bobblehead giveaway list. And these are definitely worth listing! This year, the Aberdeen Ironbirds are celebrating the 20th anniversary of Cal Ripken’s streak of 2,131 games played with four separate bobblehead giveaways – one each month (on June 30, July 15, August 5, and September 2). Cal will also make several appearances at his ballpark throughout the season.

Other notable bobble giveaways are: Madison Bumgarner from the Connecticut Tigers on July 4; a Juan Lagares bobble glove from the Brooklyn Cyclones on July 29; and a trio of Yankees from a trio of teams – Dellin Betances from the Staten Island Yankees (7/18), CC Sabathia from the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (7/25), and Bernie Williams from the Tri-City Valley Cats (8/21). Of course, only one of those teams is a Yankees affiliate (can you guess which one?). It sorta makes sense that a Cleveland farm team would be giving away a CC Sabathia bobblehead, though it seems like he’s been a Yankee forever. But I had to do some research to see the connection between Bernie and the Tri-City Valleycats, which is currently an affiliate of the Houston Astros. (Tomorrow, I’ll give you my report on the connection between Bernie Williams and the Tri-City Valleycats and it will all become crystal clear.bobbleahd)

The New York-Penn League’s teams will also giveaway several non-baseball bobbleheads, including NHL and NFL players, a university president, and a zombie player. In addition, the Brooklyn Cyclones will pay tribute to “Seinfeld” and “The Honeymooners” with bobbleheads. The Cyclones will also offer what is believed to be the first-ever Sidd Finch bobblehead.

And just in case you aren’t fond of some of the bobbles you collect, the Lowell Spinners are hosting a Bobblehead Swap Day on August 24.

~ baseballrebecca


6/26 Mahoning Valley Jim Tressel (Youngstown State Univ. president)
6/30 Aberdeen Cal Ripken – Rookie Year
7/4 Connecticut Tigers Madison Bumgarner
7/5 Brooklyn Lil’ Jerry Bobble Beak (Kramer’s pet rooster from Seinfeld)
7/15 Aberdeen Cal Ripken – World Series Champ
7/15 Lowell Dogman (local legend)
7/17 Williamsport Pat Borders
7/18 Brooklyn Bus Driver Sandy Bobblehead (from the Honeymooners)
7/18 CT Tigers Mike Rabelo (manager)
7/18 Staten Island Dellin Betances
7/19 Brooklyn Impractical Jokers (Tru TV) Bobbleheads
7/21 Lowell Fan Vote Bobblehead
7/23 Lowell Keith Aucoin (NHL)
7/25 Mahoning Valley CC Sabathia
7/26 Lowell Pete Frates (Boston College) Bobble Ice Bucket
7/29 Brooklyn Juan Lagares Bobble Glove
8/1 Staten Island Jason Arnold
8/5 Aberdeen Cal Ripken – Season for the Ages
8/8 Mahoning Valley Cody Allen
8/9 State College Jerome Bettis (NFL) Gold Jacket Bobblehead
8/13 Vermont Ted Williams
8/15 CT Tigers Eric Campbell
8/19 Brooklyn Greg Kelly and Rosanna Scotto (from “Good Day New York”)
8/21 Tri-City Bernie Williams
8/23 Lowell Zombie Player Bobblehead
8/26 Brooklyn Sidd Finch Bobblehead
9/2 Aberdeen Cal Ripken – 2131 Bobblehead