Carl Furillo…

Furillo- 1957 Topps smToday we note the passing of Carl Furillo, on this date, in 1989.

While the name just says “Brooklyn” to me, Carl was born and died in Stony Creek Mills, Pennsylvania. He was known as “The Reading Rifle” – he played some minor league ball in nearby Reading, and was known for his powerful throwing arm. He could also swing the bat. He finished his 15 year career with a .299 batting average, and he hit .344 in 1953 to lead the league. He also had some power, and drove in a lot of runs for those great Dodger clubs of the late 40s and early 50s.

Carl Furillo obit

Good game, Carl

Comings and Goings…

Happy birthday to ol’ Diz.


Dizzy Dean, born on January 16th, in 1910. I remember watching the game of the week on TV in the 60s, with Dizzy and Pee Wee Reese calling the game. Everyone loved Dizzy Dean.


But ol’ Diz could pitch a bit too. He came up in 1932 with the Cardinals, at age 22, and won 18 games, leading the league in strikeouts. The next year he went 20-18 and led the league in strikeouts again. In his third year he went 30-7 – the last National Leaguer to win 30 – and led the league in wins and strikeouts. In 1935 he went 28-12, and lead the NL in wins and strikeouts again. In 1936 he went 24-13, and in 1937 he went 13-10. What happened in ’37? In the ’37 all-star game Earl Averill hit a ball off Dean’s foot. Reportedly, when told that his toe was fractured, Dean replied, “Fractured, hell, the damn things broken!”

Dean reportedly tried to come back too soon after his injury, and changed his pitching motion to avoid landing on his injured toe. He hurt his arm, lost his blazing fastball, and was pretty much done as a pitcher.

The Cubs bought his contract in 1938, and he went 7-1 for them, helping them win the pennant over the Pirates, and winning a crucial 2-1 game against the Pirates on the 27th of September.


Diz pitched a bit for the Cubs till 1941, when he retired at age 31.

And, on the other side of the coin, stepping out on the 16th was Rudy Hulswitt.

Born in 1877, he passed away in 1950. The only reason I know anything about Rudy Hulswitt is because I noticed him on his T-206 baseball card, from back in the day, when he played with St. Louis, in ’09 or ’10. He played shortstop and hit about .253 lifetime.

Rudy Hulswitt - t206(Okay, he hit exactly .253 lifetime.)

I like his card, his cap pulled down low. He looks like he means business.

Hulswitt led the league in put-outs by a shortstop in 1902 and ’03, he was also third in the league with assists in ’03, but he also led the league that year in errors, with 81. That’s a lot of errors. Sounds like the guy might have had great range.

After his playing career was over, Rudy did a bit of coaching. I saw one picture of him coaching with one of the Boston clubs.

Good game, Rudy.

happy birthday…

Sandy Valdespino!

Sandy Valdespino


Born 14 January 1939 in Cuba, his real name was Hilario Valdespino – but he reminded Johnny Welaj, one of his minor league managers, of Sandy Amoros (whose real first name was Edmundo), and so Welaj started calling him Sandy, and, of course, it stuck. (Makes me wonder about all the other players named Sandy. Sandy Koufax? Did he ever play for Johnny Welaj?) In any case, Sandy Valdespino is a great name, no wonder it caught on. It slips off the tongue like a little bit of poetry.

Valdespino came up in 1965 with the Twins. He was a pretty fair hitter in the minors – in ’64 in Atlanta he hit .337 with 16 home runs – but he did not fare so well in the majors. 1965 was his high-water mark, I think. He hit .261 with a home run and 22 rbis in 245 at bats as the Twins won the junior circuit gonfalon. Sandy continued to play in the majors till 1971, finishing up with Kansas City, and with a lifetime average of .230.

Today Sandy is 75 years old, and reportedly lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Happy Birthday, Hilario Valdespino! Good game.

in the icebox

8 january 2014

Minneapolis in January is the opposite of baseball weather. The polar opposite. It was -10 when my wife went out this morning. When she came back she said, “it didn’t seem so bad.” Probably because this is day 4 or 5 of sub-zero days. We are either getting used to it or merely numb.

However, it might be a perfect day for listening to the Cubs play the Dodgers, at Ebbets Field, June 4th, 1957, where it is a comfortable early-summer day, and 75 degrees.

It’s Sandy Koufax on the mound for the Bums, vs. Dick Drott for the Cubbies.

Ebbets Field  - Koufax - Drott

Hey, Play Ball!

Hall of Fame

This Sunday’s paper had two major stories – the 50 game suspension of Twins prospect Eddie Rosario for a second failure on a drug test, and coincidentally, the Hall of Fame election, where people (or at least the Baseball Writers Association of America) are trying to figure out what to do about all the Big Stars from the Steroid Era. Bobby Bonds? Roger Clemens? Mike Piazza? Will any of them get into the Hall?

There was a nice article by La Velle E. Neal III in the Star Tribune last Sunday, looking at this year’s candidates. As no one was elected last year, there’s also a few strong carryover candidates, muddying the waters.

Here’s my ballot for 2014:

1. Greg Maddux *
2. Tom Glavine*
3. Jeff Bagwell
4. Tim Raines
5. Jack Morris
6. Frank Thomas*
7. Larry Walker
8. Lee Smith

It’s the first year on the ballot for Maddux, Glavine and Thomas, 4th year for Bagwell and Walker, 7th year for Raines,  12th for Smith, and 15th for Morris. (fifteen years already for Morris? That seems hard to believe.) I guess I’m holding off on letting the tainted players in. Perhaps the expansion era committee will vote them in, and maybe it would be best to let the players decide if these players are beyond the pale or not.

Jack Morris was a bull. He was a great pitcher for 14 years with the Tigers, had one famous year with the Twins, another great year with Toronto (21-6 at age 37), and then two not so good years at the end,with Toronto and Cleveland. All those years at Detroit, he was a pitcher you did not want to face. And then in ’91, game seven, there was no one you’d rather have on the mound for you.

Jack Morris - 1991 World Series

Good luck, Jack.

today in baseball history

Boy, Pretty Much Nobody was born on this day in any year you can name.

pretty much nobody

Okay, not entirely true.

jack kibble

Jack Kibble was born on this day in 1892. Jack played five games with the Cleveland Naps in 1912, four of them at third base. According to Wikipedia he was 0-8, but he did get on one time, when he was hit by a pitch. Something tells me this was his last at bat in the big leagues. Perhaps he was desperate to get on base by any means possible, or perhaps he was a rising young prospect, and getting hit by that pitch ended his career.

Even though he only played in five games, he still got a nickname. They called him “Happy Jack” Kibble. (Despite the picture, above, when he played with the Helena Senators in 1911.)

Well, perhaps he picked up the nickname after Helena. Anyway… here’s an article from the SF Call, August 1912. Kinda makes it seem like everyone knew who Happy Jack was.

Happy Jack - SF Call - Aug 1912

According to the December 26, 1912 Missoulian, the reason Happy Jack didn’t last:

Happy Jack

I think after baseball he may have gone into the pet food industry. [This is wild conjecture on my part.]

He died at age 77, and was buried in Custer Battlefield National Cemetery, Crow Agency, Montana. That seems odd, too. Anyway, Happy Birthday Happy, Jack. Good game.

[Two days in a row. I can’t keep up this breakneck pace for very long.]