In the same week two new members were elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame, a member of long standing has passed on. Monford Merrill “Monte” Irvin, of Haleburg, Alabama passed away last night at age 96. He joined the Giants in 1949 after a lengthy career with the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League, of whom Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella are alumni. He could also have been a Dodger, but Branch Rickey wouldn’t pay for his services, as he hadn’t paid for Newcombe. Irvin was an All-Star 5 times in the Negro Leagues and hit over .400 twice. He mentored Willie Mays when Mays joined the Giants. In today’s lingo he would be called Mays’ “wing man.” The two of them with Hank Thompson formed the first all black outfield in baseball. Irvin was an All-Star in 1952. His Giants team had lost the World Series in 1951 but swept Cleveland in 4 in 1954. Irvin worked in the Commissioner’s office under Bowie Kuhn from 1968 until 1984. When word came of his death, Irvin was the oldest living Negro Leaguer, New York Giant and Chicago Cub. R I P
On a much lighter note, Gerardo Parra has a new home in hitter-friendly Coors Field. The Rockies signed him for 3 years at $27 million. He’s 28 and hails from Venezuela. He won two gold gloves with the D-Backs, the last in 2013. He went to the Brewers in 2014 and to the orioles this past July.
Two notables have birthdays today. Kevin Mitchell is 54. Kevin Darnell Mitchell of San Diego was never drafted, but made the show as early as 1984 with the Mets. He scored the game tying run in game 6 of the 1986 World Series on a wild pitch by Bob Stanley. He made his mark with the Giants between 1987 and 1991, and bounced around quite a bit after that. He was an All-Star twice with the Giants and played on their 1989 World Series team that lost to Oakland. He had one of the many bizarre injuries baseball players can have, although I can identify with it. He had a frozen chocolate doughnut, put it in his microwave too long. It hardened, he took a bite and broke a tooth. Just last week I had some frozen cookies, put them in the microwave and they hardened. I could have broken a tooth if I hadn’t been lucky.
Bob Forsch was born on this day in 1950 and passed in 2011. He had a lengthy career between 1974 and 1989. He pitched two no-hitters for the Cardinals-one in 1978, one in 1983. No other Cardinals pitcher has done that. He and his brother Ken are the only brothers to both have pitched no-hitters. Bob lost two World Series games in 1982 but the Cardinals won the series in 7 over the Brewers. He was also on their World Series teams in 1985 and 1987. He was pitching coach for the Cardinals’ rookie league team, the Billings Mustangs at the time of his sudden death in 2011.0