This day in baseball history — Denny McLain’s debut

Featured image On September 21, 1962, Denny McLain pitched his first major league game, a complete game 4-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox, the team that originally signed him. The White Sox let McLain go after only half a season in the minor leagues. He had pitched well that season, but had already showed signs of being “trouble,” having gone AWOL a few times. Whether for that reason or based on »

This day in baseball history

Featured image On September 18, 1963, the St. Louis Cardinals played a must-win game at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the finale of a three-game series. At the start of the series, the Cards trailed the Dodgers by just one game, having won 19 of their last 20 contests. But the Dodgers won the first two games, limiting the Cards to one run and seven hits. In the previous 20 »

Yesterday in baseball history

Featured image Yesterday we selected as one of our Power Line Picks a Weekly Standard article in which Lee Smith argued that Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons may be the best defensive player at his position in baseball history. Smith is one of my favorite analysts of the Middle East, but I had no idea he’s the expert on baseball that his piece about Simmons revealed. Smith’s piece was not only well-argued, »

This day in baseball history

Featured image On September 17, 1963, the Los Angeles Dodgers extended their NL lead over the second place St. Louis Cardinals to three games, as Sandy Koufax shut out the Cards 4-0. Koufax ran his record to 24-5 and lowered his ERA to 1.87. Koufax’s four-hitter was a model of efficiency, very unlike the performances that had characterized his early career. He struck out only four and didn’t walk anyone. The only »

This day in baseball history

Featured image Until early September, it didn’t appear that the 1963 baseball season would offer fans a pennant race. The New York Yankees had the AL crown wrapped up before September. Going into the final week of August, they led second place Minnesota by 11.5 games. On today’s date, September 16, they were 14 games ahead of second place Chicago. The Los Angeles Dodgers also looked secure at the beginning of September, »

A Reminder That Not All Athletes Are Jerks

Featured image The Minnesota Twins traded Justin Morneau to the Pittsburgh Pirates today, for more or less nothing. The move was not a surprise. Morneau was in the last year of his contract, the Twins are going nowhere in 2013, and there has been a lot of speculation about his future. Morneau is a first baseman from Canada who debuted with the Twins in 2003. He is a four-time all star and »

Out at third

Featured image Our Minnesota Twins are a bad team mired in a miserable season, but rookie center fielder Aaron Hicks put on a tutorial for Carly Rae Jepsen in the first game of the three-game series that the Twins played against the Yankees in New York just before the All-Star break. On Friday night, Hicks made an incredibly athletic throw from deep center field to nail Vernon Wells at third base on »

Breaking News: Barack Obama Is NOT the World’s Worst Pitcher!

Featured image Barack Obama has thrown out several first pitches, all of which have been more or less embarrassing. Like this one: Despite Obama’s lame efforts, it is now clear that he is NOT the worst pitcher in the world. That honor goes to Carly Rae Jepsen, a singer who made it big with “Call Me Maybe.” Here she is throwing out the first pitch at Tropicana Field prior to the Astros-Rays »

This day in baseball history — the all-star game devolves

Featured image In the 1963 all-star game, American League manager Ralph Houk did not use a player from the Cleveland Indians (the host club), the Washington Senators, or the Kansas City Athletics. He did play all five New York Yankees on the AL squad. National League manager Alvin Dark used at least one player from all 10 National League teams. But he did so at the expense of some huge stars. For »

This day in baseball history

Featured image On July 9. 1963, the National League defeated the American League 5-3 in the all-star game, played in Cleveland. It was the only all-star game played that year, Major League Baseball having mercifully ended its four year practice of putting on two per-year. The NL’s victory ushered in a period in which the Senior Circuit won 19 of 20 all-star games. And with the New York Yankees beginning their decline, »

This day in baseball history — a prolonged duel of ace relievers

Featured image On June 11, 1963, relievers Dick Radatz and Terry Fox dueled for more than seven innings in a game between the Boston Red Soc and the Detroit Tigers. Boston eventually prevailed 7-3 in 15 innings. Radatz and Fox were two of the very best relief pitchers in baseball. Radatz was known as the Monster (Detroit baseball writer Joe Falls quipped that “the Red Sox don’t warm him up, they assembled »

In Baseball, Hope Springs Eternal

Featured image The Minnesota Twins won the World Series in 1987 and 1991, but they haven’t been a serious contender since the early ’90s. Still, over the last decade or so the franchise has fielded a good, competitive team. Their typical pattern was to make the postseason, and then lose ignominiously to the Yankees. That wasn’t so bad, especially since, for the last few years, we have enjoyed the world’s best baseball »

When Ted Williams didn’t eject

Featured image Colonel Jerry Cadick’s recounting of some of his “ejection” experiences reminds me of a story about Ted Williams that John McCain told a group of us one New Hampshire day aboard the “Straight Talk Express.” McCain, a Boston Red Sox fan and (of course) an ex-fighter pilot, greatly admired Williams, who served as a fighter pilot in two wars. During a mission in North Korea, Williams’ fighter plane was crippled »

This day in baseball history

Featured image On May 24, 1963, the first place San Francisco Giants took on the second place Los Angeles Dodgers at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. It had taken a dramatic playoff series (won by the Giants) to separate the two teams in 1962, and well into the 1963 season, they were separated by only one game. To add to the drama, the pitching matchup featured Sandy Koufax for the visitors and »

This day in baseball history

Featured image On May 12, 1963, Mickey Lolich made his major league debut for the Detroit Tigers. He pitched two scoreless, hitless innings of mop-up relief against Cleveland Indians, striking out the first two batters he faced — Max Alvis and Sam McDowell. He was 22 years old. Lolich went on to win 217 games, 207 of them for Detroit. And in 1968, he won three World Series contests. Nineteen sixty-three was »

This day in baseball history

Featured image On May 10, 1963, Tony LaRussa made his major league debut at the age of 18. Playing for the Kansas City Athletics, LaRussa appeared as a pinch-runner for Chuck Essegian. Pinch-running would be LaRussa’s role for the next three months. It wasn’t until August 15 that he recorded his first plate appearance, after coming on as a “caddy” for Jerry Lumpe in a rout of the A’s by Detroit. He »

Our town

Featured image In his five years with the Minnesota Twins, David “Big Papi” Ortiz struck me as a player with awesome potential who persistently underperformed, partly as a result of injuries and partly as a result of poor coaching. The Twins sought to turn him into a singles hitter. As he put it, “They tried to make me hit like a girl!” There’s actually a lot of that going around. Regardless of »