In the late afternoon here on the east coast, the usual thing my brother-in-law does is channel surf to see if any sports or sports talk shows are on before we have supper. He was doing that and I was here working on the computer when he hit the MLB network and we both heard a famous voice that made me stop in my tracks. While I knew the voice I couldn’t make out what he was saying, so I asked my brother-in-law if he were watching a modern game or ESPN Classic. He said it was the Orioles and the Dodgers and turned up the volume until I could locate the game on the Internet. Vin Scully was on, and I couldn’t keep working. I just had to listen.
When Vincent Edward Scully was born in November 1927, radio was in its infancy and the world had recently been absorbed with interest about Charles Lindbergh flying across the Atlantic. By the time Scully graduated Fordham, television was beginning to make inroads into radio’s audience in the few cities that had stations. His earliest major league broadcast was in 1950 with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The earliest recording of him known to exist comes from 1957, the Dodgers’ final year in Brooklyn. He followed the team to Los Angeles in 1958, the year of hula hoops and songs like “The Witch Doctor,” and “Purple People Eater.” Playing in the vast Los Angeles Coliseum the fans brought the latest technological gizmo, their transistor radios. Scully’s view was so much better than theirs they kept bringing their radios even after the Dodgers left the Coliseum for Chavez Ravine, where they play to this day. Transistor radios gave way to boom boxes, then to the Sony Walkman, and now people can listen on their phones, and in Los Angeles they’re still listening to Vin Scully. As I sat transfixed yesterday, the game itself was an exciting one, a 4-4 tie in the 6th. But my attention was on Vin Scully describing one of the players’ harrowing exit from Cuba. Scully will be 89 in November, and all any of us can do is pray that we think as clearly and talk with his facility if we reach age 89.
Oh, and the game? It was an Orioles 6-4 win in 14 innings. Jonathan Schoop (pronounced Scope,) doubled home two runs in the visitors’ half of the 14th inning. Chris Hatcher, who had thrown 31 pitches on Tuesday got the loss in a game where his manager Dave Roberts had hoped to give him a day off, but extra innings had left him no alternative but to put Hatcher in. Roberts also had no pinch-hitters left, so Hatcher had to bat for himself and made the final out with the bases full. Chase Utley became the third hitter since Saturday to notch 6 hits in a game, following the Angels’ C.J. Cron and the Mets’ Wilmer Flores. Both of whom did the seemingly impossible over the weekend. No Dodger had gotten 6 hits in 14 years. Shawn Green had been the last one to do the deed in 2002. Utley had never gotten 6 hits even in his long career in Philadelphia. Both starting pitchers barely lasted 5 innings. While O’s starter Bud Norris struck out 6, reliever Dylan Bundy struck out 7. All told, 36 hitters went down on strikes in the game which took just under 5 and a half hours to complete. Corey Seager of the Dodgers put up a double and now has a 19-game hitting streak. The Dodgers’ rookie record is 20, done by Tommy Davis. The mark goes back to the Coliseum and transistor radio days of 1960. For the Birds, Mark Trumbo hit 2 home runs and has 26 now as we approach the All-Star break.
Remember at the beginning of the season when I talked of the ruin of the Pirates over the winter? I had them at the bottom of Davy Jones’ locker, which is where sailors of another day thought they would go when they died. With last night’s 7-5 win in St. Louis, the Pirates passed by the Cardinals and are in second place and gaining on the Cubs. While the Cards built up a 5-1 lead early on, Pirates’ rallies in the 6th and 7th sealed the win for them. To add injury to insult, the Cards lost yet another player, Matt Carpenter to an oblique strain. Meantime, today the Pirates will see their top prospect, Tyler Glasnow make his MLB debut. They’re in a matinee at 1:45 Eastern and will see if the Glasnow is half full or half empty. He was 7-2 with a 1.78 ERA in AAA, but now he’s up against the big kids.
As early as the Pirates game is, it isn’t the earliest game in the league today. The Angels and Rays play at 12:10 in St. Pete. In that game the Rays turn to another top prospect, Blake Snell who is in his sixth major league start. The Pirates’ novice Glasnow doesn’t have an easy assignment facing Adam Wainwright, a guy he probably saw on a baseball card. All the rest of tonight’s action is under the arc lamps. The game of the night may be the Mets and Nationals at Citi Field. After being swept in Washington, the Mets stomped the Cubs in 4 straight and took 2 of 3 from the Marlins. The Mets have to deal with the fact that Matt harvey is on the DL with right shoulder discomfort, a bulletin Vin Scully had before anybody else.
This is the anniversary of one of only 3 walk-off home runs in All-Star history. On this date in 1964, at a brand spanking new Shea Stadium, John Callison of the Phillies won the game for the National League with a 3-run walkoff home run. The other two were hit by Stan Musial in 1955 and Ted Williams in 1941, a game which will get a treatment tomorrow in this forum.
Today’s first birthday guy has maybe the most unusual name in the game today. Yangervis Solarte is 29 today. In February of 2014, nobody knew him from Adam. He was 26 then, a kid from Venezuela in the Yankees’ system. But he had a breakout spring training with the Yankees and came north with them in 2014. He had begun in 2005 in the Twins’ system where he lasted through 2011. Then the Rangers had him in the minors for two more long seasons. The Yankees sent him to the Padres for Chase Headley near the 2014 trading deadline. With Solarte now a career .270 hitter and Headley heading for oblivion that looks like a bad deal for the Yanks. Solarte’s uncle is Roger Cedeno who played for the Mets around the turn of the new century.
Pitcher Brandon McCarthy is 33 today. He has been in the show since 2005, breaking in with the White Sox. He hasn’t stayed long with any team, playing for the Rangers, A’s, Dodgers, D-Backs and Yankees. He blees Dodger blue now. While he was with the White Sox for most of 2005 and got into a dozen games he wann’t chosen for the postseason roster as they swept the Astros in 4 in the World Series. Near Christmas 2006, he went to the Rangers for John Danks. The injury bug began to bite in 2007 with a broken shoulder blade. then it was elbow trouble in 2008 and devastating shoulder surgery in mid-2009 that kept him on the shelf for the entire 2010 season. Showing what modern medicine can do, he had his best year in 2011. In September 2012 McCarthy made the headlines for the wrong reason. A line drive by the Angels’ Erick Aybar struck him in the head. He underwent surgery to relieve cranial pressure. Boxers often die after undergoing this surgery, and my own nephew who had the operation done after a car crash is handicapped for life. Somehow McCarthy made a full recovery, but he never pitched for Oakland again. With the D-Backs in 2013 he had more shoulder issues and a seizure related to the 2012 skulling he had received. They sent him to the Yankees in July 2014 for Vidal Nuno. He signed with the Dodgers after 2014, but had Tommy John surgery in April, 2015. He only returned to the majors this past Sunday following the third major surgery of his career.
Chuck Knoblauch is 48 today. The Twins took Edward Charles Knoblauch in round 1 of the draft in 1989 out of Texas A&M. he made the majors in a year and a half, reaching the Twins in April 1991 at second base. He was Rookie of the Year that year. He hit .289 in a career that ran through 2002. He was an All-Star 4 times between 1992-97. He also was part of 4 World Series winners-the 1991 Twins and the Yankees of 1998-2000. But for a fluke error by Mariano Rivera, Knoblauch and the Yankees would have the 2001 World Series as well. He hit game-tying home runs in two different World Series games, one each in 1998 and 1999.
Tim Teufel (Pronounced Tuffle) is 58 today. He was a utility man on the 1986 World Series winning Mets, and has been their third base coach since 2012. In 1986 he platooned with Wally Bachman at second base. Bachman is now the Mets’ AAA manager in Vegas, and there has been talk of him replacing Terry Collins one day. Meantime, Dan Gladden is 59. He was a Twins’ outfielder in their great years of 1997 and 1991 and is now one of their two radio broadcasters. He began at the mike in 2000, with Herb Carneal and John Gordon handling play-by-play. Following Carneal’s death in early 2007 Gladden did color full time.
Len Barker is 61 today. The native of Fort Knox, KY had a golden moment on May 15, 1981 when he twirled a perfecto for the Cleveland Indians. All told he was 74-76 with an ERA above 4.0. He led his league in wins in 1980 and 1981 and was an All-Star in the year of his perfect game. Up to then only 9 had ever been thrown. 13 more have happened in the 35 years since, but none by an Indian.
Bill Melton, a noteworthy third baseman with the White Sox is 71 today. Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige may have been born on this day in 1906, or may not. He died in 1982. His birthday has always been mysterious as he was throughout his long career. He was an All-Star twice, in 1952 and 1953 when he was believe to be in his mid-forties, having pitched throughout his prime in the Negro Leagues. In 1971he was the first man put into the Hall of Fame by the Negro Leagues Committee. Twice he was employed by Bill Veeck-in 1948-49 with the Indians and the early 1950’s by the St. Louis Browns which Veeck acquired after leaving the Indians. His last major league hitch was with the Kansas City Athletics of owner Charlie O. Finley. He pitched in a game against Boston and the only man to get a hit was future Hall of Famer Karl Yastrzemski.