While nothing earthshshaking has happened recently, there are a few things I want to make clear.
First, two sources asserted that the Pirates had gotten rid of slugger Pedro Alvarez and closer Mark Melancon. These reports are not true, at least not as I write this. Alvarez was not_ made an offer, but nothing about Melancon’s future has come to my attention. The only Pirate news I can find is that they have lost starter J. A. Happ who signed on with the Blue Jays for a 3-year deal.
Next, a recent Facebook post by me revealed the source of a couple of baseball’s more colorful nicknames. As a result, I was requested to find out how Milwaukee Brewers’ pitcher Brian Haas got his nickname Moose, considering he was not a particularly burly man. It turns out, his daddy gave him that nickname at birth. While he wasn’t a large baby at 7.25 pounds, (consider Dave Parker was a 14-pounder,) his dad hoped he’d grow into a big moose. And what new dad doesn’t hope that for his son?
You might want to look on e-bay for these calendars with mistakes on them. The Bluejays’ calendar for 2016 features cover boys David Price, (gone to Boston,) Jose Reyes (exiled to Colorado,) and pitcher Daniel Norris, (gone to Detroit.) These are liable to be collectors’ items. I wouldn’t care to be the calendar designer who perpetrated this debacle. He or she will be lucky if all that is required is a re-design of the cover with actual Blue Jays’ players on it before they leave the country.
There are a few birthdays to mention. Carlos Gomez is 30. It seemed like last season he was off to the Mets for Wilmer Flores and Zack Wheeler. Instead he finished in Houston. As a member of the Brewers Carlos Argelis Gomez was twice an All-Star (2013 and 2014) and once won a Gold Glove. As a Met in 2007 he started in the lineup with carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado, the only time a team started 3 men named Carlos.
Lee Smith is 58 today. Yes, that Lee Smith who, as a Cub said during a radio interview that he knew which opposing players liked to hang out after games on Rush Street, and knew he could take advantage of them the next afternoon. He wasn’t boasting. He earned 478 saves in his career. Arthur Lee Smith of Jamestown, LA was 7 times an All-Star. Astonishingly the last 5 were between 1991-1995, in the twilight of his career between ages 34 and 38. A giant of a man at six feet six and 265 pounds, he was frightening anyway and must have been terrifying to those opponents struggling in the late afternoon to recover from too much fun the night before. In 2006 and 2009 he coached the South Africa national team in the World Baseball Classic. In 2007 he went to Italy to coach at a baseball academy run by MLB in that country. he’s also spent many years as a roving pitching instructor with the Giants.
Harvey Kuenn was born on this day in 1930 and died in 1988. While he had a lifetime .303 average and was an All-star 10 times, Harvey Kuenn is little known now. Twice he was the last out in a Sandy Koufax no-hitter. The first time was in 1963 against the Giants. Then, He was the final out in Sandy Koufax’ perfect game on Sept. 9, 1965. Who knew that neither man would be playing in 1967, though Koufax was 4 years younger than Kuenn. By 1982, having to live without his right leg he took the Brewers to the World Series, losing to the Cardinals. The Brew Crew was called “Harvey’s WallBangers in his brief tenure. Some of the WallBangers were Paul Molitor and Robin Yount, (now both in Cooperstown,) plus Cecil Cooper, Ben Oglivie, Gorman Thomas and Ted Simmons. Every one of them was handy with the willow when offense was called for.
Lastly is an anniversary of a real baseball old timer for the benefit of one particular reader who covers the old timers like a blanket. Bob Shawkey was born on this day in 1890 and died in 1980. James Robert Shawkey threw his first major league pitch for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics in 1913, and his last for Miller Huggins’ Yankees in 1927. After Huggins’ death at age 50 Shawkey managed the 1930 Yankees. In 1919 he struck out 15 Athletics, a Yankee strikeout mark that took 59 years to fall. It was Ron Guidry who broke it striking out 18 Angels. Shawkey pitched the first game at The Yankee Stadium when it opened in 1923, beating Boston 4-1.0