Best of the Week: 5/24/2020 – 5/30/2020


It’s been a terrible week. I contemplated posting nothing this week – how could there be a “best” anything with COVID deaths reaching 100,000 in the U.S., MLB firing scores of minor leaguers, and the death of George Floyd? And while 2020 likely had its worst week yet, there was one tiny bit of news that kind of, sort of, wasn’t awful: although minor leaguers are being released and others may or may not get their measly pay from their parent clubs, Dodgers’ pitcher David Price will be giving $1,000 to each of the Dodgers minor leaguers.

I mean, it won’t pay the rent, but at least he’s paying them more than MLB is.

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

 

 

Sports Humanitarians


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Nelson Cruz with the Seattle Mariners in 2015. Photo by Keith Allison via Wikipedia.

Last week, ESPN announced the finalists for the 2020 Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award – and Nelson Cruz is one of them. The news release states, “Cruz has transformed the infrastructure of his hometown of Las Matas De Santa Cruz in the Dominican Republic. He has secured a fire engine and an ambulance, built a new police station and contributed wheelchairs and crutches, and he annually brings dentists and optometrists to a local clinic to provide checkups, medicine and eyewear.”

According to ESPN, the award, which is part of the ESPY awards, “is given to an athlete whose continuous, demonstrated leadership has created a measured positive impact on their community through sports. The candidate must embrace the core principals that Muhammad Ali embodied so well, including confidence, conviction, dedication, giving and respect. ” The website notes that the award was previously called the Sports Humanitarian of the Year Award; it was renamed in 2017 to honor Muhammad Ali. (Note that the Muhammad Ali Center has a separate award called the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award.) Previous MLB finalists have included Curtis Granderson (2017) and Yadier Molina (2019).

In addition to the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award, ESPN awards the Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year Award. The Los Angeles Dodgers are again finalists for this award, as they were last year. They were nominated for the 2020 award because of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation’s work to improve education, health care, homelessness, and social justice. The Dodgers have developed “Dodgers Reading Champions,” an online reading program, and the “Dodgers Dreamfields” program, which builds and refurbishes ball fields in underserved communities.

Other MLB teams that have been finalists for the Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year Award are the San Francisco Giants (2016), Chicago White Sox (2017), and Boston Red Sox (2018). The Giants won the award in 2016 for their work with the Junior Giants. The Giants created the Junior Giants in 1991 to help address violence in impoverished neighborhoods in the San Francisco area. The Giants Community Fund supports Junior Giants leagues in Northern California, Nevada, and Oregon, and provides assistance to community programs focused on education, health, and violence prevention.

These are just two of ESPN’s Sports Humanitarian Awards, which have been awarded since 2015. The 2020 ESPYS will be awarded on June 21.

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

The Sociological Importance of April 15 in Baseball History


Jackie Robinson, Brooklyn Dodgers, 1954.jpgIn this period of no baseball, I’ve been reading up on baseball history. There are several good sites for this, including: Today in Baseball History, Nationalpastime.com, and Baseball Reference. As I checked out these sites today, I was surprised to learn how important April 15th is for baseball – both historically and sociologically.

Of course, we all know April 15th as Jackie Robinson Day. On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball. The 50th anniversary of his feat was commemorated in 1997 and during the celebration the Commissioner of Baseball announced that the number 42 would be retired for every team. On April 15, 2004, MLB began the annual tradition of celebrating Jackie Robinson Day.

April 15, however, was the date for several other important firsts, including:

  • The first game played by a “full-blooded” American Indian. On April 15, 1921, Moses J. Yellow Horse (also known as Chief Yellow Horse), made his Major League debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The right-handed pitcher was a member of the Pawnee tribe in Oklahoma and played for the Pirates in 1921 and 1922.
  • The first Puerto Rican to play Major League Baseball. On April 15, 1942, Hiram Bithorn made his Major League debut. Also a right-handed pitcher, Bithorn was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, in 1916 and spent four years in the majors.
  • The first Major League game played on the west coast. On April 15, 1958, the first File:Reggie Jackson - New York Yankees - 1981.jpgMLB game was played in California as the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers meet for the first time.
  • The first Major Leaguer with facial hair – at least since the 1930s. On April 15, 1972, Reggie Jackson, reflecting the times, played for the Oakland A’s wearing a mustache. This began a trend with the team and the 1972 A’s became known as the “Mustache Gang.”

There were many other baseball firsts on April 15, but perhaps none as sociologically important as the ones mentioned above.

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!


Image result for baseball and thanksgivingHappy Thanksgiving! Here are just a few examples of how baseball teams helped out their communities this year:

  • Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox hosted about 100 community members at Fenway Park for a “Friendsgiving” dinner on November 18.
  • Cleveland Indians: The Indians front office and Delaware North Companies hosted their annual Thanksgiving Meal at Progressive Field this past Sunday.
  • Kansas City Royals: For the 14th consecutive year, he Royals provided a Thanksgiving meal at the City Union Mission.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: Current and former L.A. Dodgers Joc Pederson, Kyle Garlick, Ken Landreaux, and Dennis Powell participated in the Dodgers Foundation’s 15th annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaway.
  • Miami Marlins: Catcher Will Banfield and volunteers with the Miami Marlins Foundation and AT&T’s Believe Miami sorted food and distributed meals to members of the community.
  • Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers Community Foundation hosted a “drive-thru” food drive at Miller Park, offering a Josh Hader bobblehead to first 100 cars that donated three or more turkeys.
  • New York Yankees: The Yankees, Legends Hospitality, and the Supportive Children’s Advocacy Network hosted a Thanksgiving feast for several hundred local residents at SCAN-NY’s Mullaly Recreation Center in the Bronx. They also distributed 3,000 food vouchers to residents of the Bronx to assist them in preparing their Thanksgiving meals.
  • Texas Rangers: Rangers’ players Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, Taylor Hearn, and Jeffrey Springs helped the Rangers and local organizations distribute Thanksgiving food items at the Texas Rangers Youth Academy at Mercy Street Sports Complex in West Dallas.
  • Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders: The Yankees’ AAA affiliated hosted 200 middle and high school-aged life skills and special education students at their ballpark for a Thanksgiving meal.

A few current and former Major Leaguers are doing their part as well. Last week, Jo Adell of the California Angels partnered with his hometown Louisville Metro Police Department to deliver Thanksgiving meals and San Diego native and Padres infielder Greg Garcia helped give away meals at Petco Park. In addition, Gary Sheffield teamed up with Magic Johnson to give away meals in Tampa, Florida.

Check out some scenes from Miami’s 2018 giveaway below.

Happy Thanksgiving!

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, Orlando!


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Orlando Cepeda with the Giants in 1962

Orlando Cepeda turns 82 today. Born on September 17, 1937, in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Cepeda made his MLB debut on April 15, 1958. Between 1958 and 1974, the right-handed first baseman played for San Francisco (1958-66), St. Louis (1966-68), Atlanta (1969-72), Oakland (1972), Boston (1973), and Kansas City (1974). He was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1959, an 11-time All-Star, and the 1967 NL MVP.

Whenever I hear Cepeda’s name, I think of this song by Danny Kaye – even though its about his Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants and Orlando Cepeda are an important part of the tale:

 

 

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

Eight . . .


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Manny Machado with the Dodgers in 2018. Photo by Ian D’Andrea (via Wikipedia)

Opening Day is just eight days away!! Two of my all-time favorite players have worn no. 8: Cal Ripken and Manny Machado. And since Manny is no longer an Oriole (or a Dodger, where he wore no. 8), I’m a San Diego Padres fan this year. (I already have my tickets for when they play more former team, the O’s!)

~ baseballrebecca