Thursday, July 13, 2017

Orioles at the All-Star Break. Record: 42-46

I hope you have been enjoying our little Baltimore Orioles latest scores/standings widget on the side of this website.

Since it is the All-Star break I thought I would check in with a few Baltimore journos to see how they assess the second-half chances.

Just looking at the record, 42-46, it's only a game different from the St. Louis Cardinals. Yet there is a world of difference between their two chances for the second half.  The Cardinals go into the break winning six of the last 10, whereas the Orioles lost seven of 10. And the big difference is in their respective divisions.  The Orioles are seven and 1/2 games out and must vault over three teams.  The Cardinals are five and half back and are in second place (tied).

http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/orioles/blog/bs-sp-orioles-midseason-analysis-0713-story.html

One jurno is actually saying that they should rip-up and rebuild the 2010's powerhhouse that gave Baltimore their first taste of postseason in 15 years and has gone to the dance three of the last five years!  What do you think should be done?Actually I might drive out this weekend talk to Ed Mickelson and see what he thinks should be done to his former team's lineup to cure their woes.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Happy Bobo Holloman Day... May 7th!

It's interesting: 1) the three greatest pitching feats in Browns history happened on 3 successive days: May 5, 6 & 7th (see below for May 5, 6 "events").  2)  Bobo Hollomon pitched the only no-hitter in the 14-year history of "Busch Stadium I". Gibson, Broglio, Spahn, Koufax, Drysdale, Robin Roberts ... all couldnt pull it off.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Happy Ernie Koob/Bob Groom 100th Anniversary No-hit Weekend, everybody!


MAY 05, 2017 7:18 PM

Belleville’s Bob Groom made baseball history 100 years ago

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Browns Bottomley Milks, Takes Home Cow

Contrary to popular belief, not all Browns ballpark stunts were purveyed during the Bill Veeck era. Since the 1930s, Browns owners were thinking of ways to make the Brownies, who were not entertaining between the baselines, entertaining outside of them.  In 1936, during the ownership of the Phil Ball estate*, and the managership of Rogers Hornsby, the Browns donated a cow to the avid farmer, Sunny Jim, on "Jim Bottomley Day".  But, ever the promoters, in addition to giving Bottomley the cow (and a goat and a host of other farmyard animals), they also gave him a pail and a milking stool. Not missing a beat,, and to the "shrieking" delight of 10,000 fans attending Ladies Day, Bottomley thanked the crowd by demonstrating his milking prowess.
* Louis von Wiese executor, and L.W. McEvoy, general manager.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Roy Sievers, New York Times Obituary




Photo

Roy Sievers of the Washington Senators, right, with the Yankees’ Mickey Mantle in 1958. CreditAssociated Press

Roy Sievers, who won the American League’s first Rookie of the Year Award playing for the 1949 St. Louis Browns and became one of baseball’s leading power hitters of the 1950s with the original Washington Senators, died on Monday at his home in Spanish Lake, Mo. He was 90.
His daughter, Shawn Sievers, confirmed his death.
Playing in the outfield and at first base for 17 major league seasons, Sievers hit 318 home runs. His best season came in 1957, when he had a league-leading 42 homers and 114 runs batted in while hitting .301 for the last-place Senators. The right-handed-batting Sievers also hit home runs in six consecutive games at the Senators’ Griffith Stadium that summer, conquering its cavernous left field in matching an American League record that has since been broken.
Playing for the Senators from 1954 to 1959, Sievers was a favorite of Vice President Richard M. Nixon, who was master of ceremonies at a night for him in September 1957.
In 1959, after Nixon’s so-called Kitchen Debate with the Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev over the merits of capitalism versus communism at a model kitchen in an American national exhibition in Moscow, Sievers was among those at Nixon’s welcome-home party at a Washington airport.Continue reading the main story
At the time, the Senators were in the midst of a losing streak, and when he greeted Nixon, Sievers recalled, “The first thing he said was, ‘What in the hell is wrong with the Senators?’
“And I said, ‘Mr. Vice President, we’re just not hitting good, the pitching’s not good.’ He said, ‘I’ll be out the next night.’ Usually, when he came out we’d win the ballgame. But we lost.”
The Senators went on to drop 18 straight games.
Beyond the ballpark, Sievers was part of the Singing Senators, organized by the team’s broadcaster Bob Wolff. One day in June 1958, Wolff, playing the ukulele, appeared on the Washington Mall with Sievers, his fellow outfielders Jim Lemon and Albie Pearson and a couple of Senators pitchers and joined them in song for the NBC-TV “Today” program, hosted by Dave Garroway.
Sievers had his salary battles with the Senators’ owner, Calvin Griffith, but “it was a great life,” he told Larry Moffi in the oral history “This Side of Cooperstown.”
“I met Khrushchev when he came over here,” Sievers recalled. “I had lunch with four presidents: Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Eisenhower.”
Roy Edward Sievers was born on Nov. 18, 1926, in St. Louis. He was signed by the Browns out of high school and made his debut with them after military service and two years in the minors.
Sievers hit 16 home runs, drove in 91 runs and batted .306 to win the inaugural A.L. Rookie of the Year Award with a last-place Browns team; Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe won National League honors.
But Sievers was later hampered by a shoulder injury, and when the Browns became the Baltimore Orioles in 1954, they traded him to the Senators.
He was a three-time All-Star with Washington and followed up his 1957 slugging by hitting 39 homers and driving in 108 runs the following season.
But the Senators traded him to the Chicago White Sox in 1960. He had two productive seasons for them, gaining All-Star honors again, then played for the Philadelphia Phillies. They sold him during the 1964 season to the second Senators franchise, created when the original Senators became the Minnesota Twins, and he closed out his career in Washington.
In addition to his 318 home runs, Sievers drove in 1,147 runs and had a career batting average of .267.
In addition to his daughter, he is survived by a son, Rob; a brother, William; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. His wife, Joan, died in 2006, and another son, David, died in 1999.
After his playing days, Sievers coached for the Cincinnati Reds, managed in the minor leagues and was a salesman for a freight company.
He also had a brief movie career.
Sievers can be glimpsed in the 1958 Warner Brothers motion picture “Damn Yankees,” an adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name and the Douglass Wallop novel “The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant” — the story of how a middle-aged Senators fan with a humdrum life sells his soul to the devil to become a sensational home run hitter, leading Washington to a pennant over the hated Yankees.
Tab Hunter, who played the fantasy slugger Joe Hardy in the movie, wore Sievers’s No. 2 jersey, and Sievers was Hunter’s double in distance shots. Because Hunter took his close-up cuts from the left side of the plate, Sievers is shown as a left-handed batter, thanks to mirror-image technology.
And so, Walter Johnson and a young Harmon Killebrew aside, Roy Sievers, at least for a few moments on the screen, could be called the greatest Senator of them all.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Opening Day, 1965: 3rd Reunion of Old Brownies Turley, Larsen is Scrubbed by Astros as 'Bullet Bob' is Cut


Meet me in Houston?

Don Larsen and Bob Turley were stalwart right-handers for the Browns who both made the trip to Baltimore in 1954.  They were traded together in 1955 to the New York Yankees, in what is still the biggest trade in baseball history, involving 17 players.

Although serviceable for the Browns and Orioles, they always had losing records. It is with the Yankees that both flourished: Don, in 1956 pitching a perfect game in the World Series and Bob, in 1958 winning the Cy Young Award and finishing second in the MVP voting.  Don left the Yankees after the 1959 season, and Bob after the 1962 season.

Don was being used sparingly by the National League champion San Francisco Giants in 1964, so was given a new lease on life by being purchased by Houston Colt 45's general manager Paul Richards in late May. Richards had been Don's general manager in the days of pre-Yankee fame in Baltimore, and had engineered that 17 player deal.  And Richards intended to give Bob a similar opportunity, and invited him to camp in Cocoa, FL.

Turley had retired after the 1963 season, to do a season of coaching for the Red Sox, had come to feel that was a mistake.  Still 34 years-old, Turley regretted: “I should not have quit because I could still throw good.”  Richards gave him that chance in spring training 1965.  Richards and Astro pitching coach (and former Cardinal) Howie Pollet believed that the key for Turley in camp was to speed up his pitching motion above the waist.  "Bob may turn out to be a pleasant surprise," commented Richards to the Sporting News on March 6, 1965.

But despite having pitched his first-ever no-walk complete game with the Los Angeles Angels in 1963, the wildness that had plagued Bob at other points in his career returned in exhibition bouts against the Twins and Mets.  The reunion with Don Larsen was not to be: Bob was cut on opening day.

Meanwhile, Don, who had rewarded Richards' faith in him with a dandy 1964 (4-6, 2.33 ERA for a team that finished in ninth place), relapsed in 1965 as a newly rechristened 'Astro' and was soon traded back to Baltimore.

The GM making the deal to reacquire Don for the Orioles?   Lee McPhail, who had been director of player personnel when Don was a  Yankee!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Ned Garver: 'Against All Odds' (BFC retweeting the very best obits)


Against All Odds: Ned Garver and the ’51 Browns

Ned Garver completed 24 of his 30 starts in the 1951 season. (h/t Hardball Times).
Few fans today remember seeing Ned Garver pitch. For one thing, when he died late last month, he was 91 and more than a half century removed from major league baseball. For another, in his prime he pitched for the little-watched St. Louis Browns.
But he has a special distinction, centered on his 1951 season.
Given the prevalence of five-man rotations, pitch counts and relief specialists, the 20-game winner is rare even on a dominant team today. Winning 20 games for a losing team is highly unlikely but it can be done (e.g., R.A. Dickey won 20 games and the NL Cy Young Award for the 74-88 Mets in 2012).
Winning 20 games for a last-place team is tough in any era, but it does happen.  Since the American and National Leagues broke into divisions, finishing last could mean anything from fourth to sixth place. Famously, Hall of Famer to-be Steve Carlton went 27-10 for the 59-97 Phillies of the NL East in 1972 and won the NL Cy Young Award. Two years later Nolan Ryan (also now in the Hall) went 22-16 for the 68-94 Angels of the AL West. Roger Clemens, not in the Hall of Fame but not for lack of credentials, went 21-7 for the 76-86 Blue Jays in 1997 and also got the AL Cy Young Award.
Through the first six decades of the modern era, finishing last meant eighth place (or 10th in the AL in 1961 and both leagues from 1962 to 1968). During those pre-division days, winning 20 games for a bottom-feeding team was particularly rare. A couple of pitchers who did so also flirted with 20 losses, as Noodles Hahn went 22-19 for the last-place Reds in 1901, and Scott Perry went 20-19 for the cellar-dwelling Philadelphia A’s of 1918.  The totals are particularly impressive considering the Reds played just 139 games (52-87), while the A’s ended at 128.
During a standard 154-game season, in 1923, Howard Ehmke went 20-17 for the 61-91 Red Sox. One year later, Hollis “Sloppy” Thurston of the White Sox went 20-14 for the 66-87 White Sox.
But the real standout of the bunch was Ned Garver of the 1951 St. Louis Browns (52-102, 46 games behind the pennant-winning Yankees), for whom he went 20-12. All these years later, Garver remains one of only two pitchers to win 20 games for a 100-loss team. (The other was Irv Young, who won 20 — and lost 21 — for the 1905 Boston Beaneaters.)
Born on Christmas Day in 1925, Ned Franklin Garver was signed by the St. Louis Browns. As a modest-sized right-hander (5-foot-10, 180 pounds.), Garver would probably receive little attention from scouts today.
Exempt from military duty due to flat feet, he made his pro debut in 1944 (the year of the Browns’only pennant) with the Newark Moundsmen (no, the team was not composed entirely of pitchers; the name derives from nearby Indian mounds) of the Class D Ohio State League. He turned heads with a 21-8 record and a 1.21 ERA.
He moved up to Single-A Elmira (Eastern League) and then on to Double-A Toledo (American Association) in 1945, and spent 1946 and 1947 with Double-A San Antonio of the Texas League. In the latter year he went 17-14 in 257 innings.
The Browns took notice. Having returned to their traditional pre-war status as doormats (59-95, good for last place and a total attendance of 320,474, in 1947), they were in the market for young pitchers.
Garver’s 1948 rookie year resulted in a 7-11 record in 198 innings. On a team like the Browns, however, just reaching double figures in victories qualified a hurler as an ace. In 1948 only two Browns pitchers surpassed Garver: Cliff Fannin with 10 wins and Fred Sanford with 12.
The next year Garver himself qualified as the Browns ace, leading the staff in victories with a 12-17 record. His ERA of 3.98, was no show-stopper, but given the staff ERA of 5.21, it was laudable.
In 1950, it was more of the same, as Garver went 13-18. More importantly, he improved his ERA to 3.39 while hurling 260 innings and tied Early Wynn for the league lead in complete games with 22. The staff ERA remained the same (5.20), and the team finished 58-96, ahead of only the hapless Philadelphia A’s. Attendance, never the Browns’ strong suit, sagged to 247,131, inspiring a number of quips. Garver’s stock line was “Our fans never booed us.  They wouldn’t dare.  We outnumbered them.”
By 1951, Garver was primed to take center stage. Opening Day on April 17 was less than encouraging, however, as the White Sox trounced the Browns by a 17-3 score at Sportsman’s Park. Garver didn’t make it through the second inning.  Four days later, however, Garver went the distance in a 9-1 victory over the Indians in Cleveland. From that point, he was almost invincible through midseason.
After defeating the White Sox 4-1 in the second game of a July 11 double-header, his record was 11-4 on the brink of the All-Star game. He had half of his team’s victories.
Garver made it easy when the time came to pick the Browns’ representative for the July 10 All-Star game in Detroit. Casey Stengel not only chose Garver for the roster, he chose him to start the game. Garver did not embarrass himself, pitching three innings and giving up just one unearned run on an error by Nellie Fox.
Garver started the second half of the season in fine fashion with a 3-1 victory over the Red Sox in the first game of a double-header at Sportsman’s Park on July 15. The Garver/Browns ratio of victories held up, as both now had 12. Over the next two months, however, the Browns would inch ahead.
Midseason 1951 was the beginning of the Bill Veeck era. Always open to promotional possibilities, Browns owner Veeck was well aware of the marketability of a potential 20-game winner on a dismal team. His nickname for Garver was “The Team,” and after his 20-win season, he signed him to a $25,000 contract – a handsome annual salary in those days.
Garver enhanced his chances to win 20 games because he was rarely taken out for a pinch-hitter. According to Veeck, Garver was the best hitter on the team, which might sound like classic Veeck moonshine, but he wasn’t far off the mark.  The Browns hit .247 in 1951, but Garver, who sometimes was slotted sixth in the batting order, hit .305 in 95 at-bats.  Of all the other players on the roster, only outfielder Earl Rapp had a higher average (.327).
At any rate, it was obvious that playing to win was not as important as playing for Garver to win. Consequently, Garver appeared in three games in relief in 1951 in addition to his 30 starts.
No doubt manager Zack Taylor, who went along with all of Veeck’s stunts, was happy to give Garver every possible chance to achieve 20 victories. Given the Browns’ deplorable record, Taylor was hardly subject to the sort of second-guessing that the manager of a contending team might have to deal with.
On Aug. 19, when 3-foot-7 Eddie Gaedel made his famous sole major league appearance, waddlngb up to the plate at Sportsman’s Park during the second game of a double-header against the Tigers, Garver’s record stood at 14-8. Having just lost the day’s first game  he had gone 2-6 in the preceding five weeks.
The Browns lost the Eddie Gaedel game (6-2), so they were 0-2 for the day in front of their largest crowd of the season (18,000-plus ). On a day when the Browns were celebrating the 50th birthday of the American League as well as the birthday of their sponsor, Falstaff Beer, the team’s performance was less than festive and largely devoid of Falstaffian gusto. At the end of the day, Garver winning 20 games was not out of the question, but the odds were less favorable.
On Aug. 24, he notched his 15th victory in Veeck’s famed Grandstand Managers game, in which the fans voted on managerial decisions by holding up “Yes” or “No” signs. The fans retired with a 1.000 winning percentage as Garver and the Browns defeated the A’s by a 5-3 score.
On Sept. 13 at Fenway Park, Garver was on the losing end of the score (5-4) after a Red Sox walk-off victory in the 10th inning.  Garver’s record stood at 16-12, a superb season by Browns standards, but winning 20 was a longshot, since the Browns had just 17 games left on the schedule. But Garver was about to recover the mojo he enjoyed during the first half of the season. It didn’t hurt that in his final starts, he would be facing three teams (the Senators, Tigers and White Sox) that were out of the AL pennant race.
On Sept., Garver took the mound for the second game of a double-header at Griffith Stadium in Washington and came away with a 3-2 victory over the Senators. His 17th victory didn’t come easily; he had to labor 10 innings to get the complete-game victory.
Four days later, he had an easier time at Comiskey Park, defeating the White Sox 5-1 for his 18th victory. He had only two starts left but the Browns were finishing the season at home.
On Sept. 26, he had a relatively easy time against the Tigers, coming away with a 7-1 victory. So one start left, one victory needed for 20.
There was one other question to be answered at the end of the season. The Browns stood at 51-99 at the beginning of the final series of the season, a four-game set against the White Sox. Could they stave off a 100-loss season?  The suspense was immediately extinguished as the Browns lost the first game of the series plus two more for good measure.
So on the last game of the season, the only question  non Mound City minds was whether Garver could notch No. 20. The Cardinals, who rented Sportsman’s Park from the Browns, would finish the NL season at 81-73, good enough for third place, but well behind the Giants and Dodgers, who had a date with destiny at the Polo Grounds a few days later.
When Garver took the mound on Sept. 30, it did not go well initially. He was not effective in the early going and the two teams were tied at 4 after the top of the fourth inning. Then Garver took matters into his own hands.  He hit a solo homer in the bottom of the inning to give the Browns a lead they never relinquished. Final score: Browns 9, White Sox 5, with Garver garnering not only his 20th victory but his league-leading 24th complete game of the year. The second “winningest” pitcher on the squad was Duane Pillette with six.  Garver had racked up 38.4 percent of his team’s victories (impressive, but in 1972 Steve Carlton had 45.8 percent of the Phillies’ victories).
It was not only a superb way for Garver to wind up his season but also a merciful ending for Zack Taylor, who was managing his last game. It was arguably the most positive event of his managerial career (he also had a 16-year playing career as a catcher). His tenure with the post-war Browns had resulted in a 235-410 (.364 winning percentage) record.
At season’s end, Garver came in second in AL MVP voting behind Yogi Berra. If you’re wondering about the Cy Young Award, that must remain a matter of conjecture, as the award was not instituted for another five years.
Though Garver played 10 more seasons, 1951 was the high-water mark of his career. He never experienced a pennant race.  Indeed, he never played for a first-division team.
In August 1952 he was traded to the Tigers, who finished last that year. Battling assorted injuries, he remained with them through 1956, and while they escaped from the cellar, and even played above .500 in 1955 and 1956, fifth place was the best they could do.
After the 1956 season Garver was traded to the Kansas City A’s, who re-acquainted him with the hopeless atmosphere of Browns-like ineptness for four seasons. His reward was to be left unprotected in the 1960 expansion draft.
At age 35 he rounded out his career with the Los Angeles Angels, going 0-3 with a 5.59 ERA in 12 games before he was released. He finished with 129 victories and 157 defeats. His career ERA of 3.73 was the same as in his 20-game winning season. Today he is a member in good standing of a rapidly shrinking fraternity: former St. Louis Browns.
It is doubtful that Garver’s 1951 achievement will ever be matched. In 1996, the U.S. Postal Service honored Garver on the 45th anniversary of his 20-game season with a commemorative postmark at his hometown of Ney, Ohio.
Today 20-game winners are rare enough with teams that win 100 games, much less teams that lose 100 games. Yet when the topic of baseball conversation turns to the 1951 Browns, the first name that pops up is Eddie Gaedel, whose career consisted of one plate appearance.
Gaedel died just 10 years after his major league career began and ended. But, 64 years after the franchise played its last game in St. Louis, 15 other men who wore the Browns uniform survive.
Among them is George Elder turned  96 last week. It’s interesting to note that Jim Rivera is 95 and Don Larsen is 87, as they were not noted for behavior conducive to longevity. Other familiar names are Billy DeMars (91), a longtime coach with the Phillies; Roy Sievers (90) and Billy Hunter (88).
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Comments

  1. Thanks for an interesting article. . . . There’s a profile of the 1944 Ohio State League, where Garver got started, in the SABR Biography Project collection.
  2. Good story!
    However, there is one small error: Garver *never* batted 6th in 1951, and he started just one game there in his whole career, which was his highest starting spot. In ’51, he hit 9th in all 30 starts and 3 relief outings, and his 13 PH appearances comprised 8 in the 9th spot, 3 in the 8th spot, 1 in the 7th spot, and 1 in the 3rd spot. (That last one was batting for rookie 1B Ben Taylor, with a chance at walk-off heroics, but instead he struck out.)
    Garver started one career game in the 6th spot, one in the 7th spot, 11 in the 8th spot, and 317 in the traditional 9th spot. (All per Baseball-Reference.com.)