Yankees Aaron Judge is Judge, Jury and Executioner; R I P Choo Choo Coleman, Original Met

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Tuesday, August 16.

The Yankees won a 1-0 heart-stopper in Toronto, and Aaron Judge drove home the only run they got.  The Blue Jays had no appeal, though they tried.  They got two on in the 9th against Dellin Betances but he wiggled out of the mess and the Yankees pulled off yet another win.  Judge has RBIS in every game he’s played as of now.  This is why the fans clamoured to see him earlier than now.  While the Mets, who acquired Jay Bruce have imploded, the Yankees who seemingly waved the white flag have played like a team possessed  since getting rid of Carlos Beltran,  Alex Rodriguez, Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller and finding  out Mark Teixeira would retire after this season.  Chad Green, another youngster who has spent parts of this season both in AAA and in the show pitched six scoreless innings against the potent Blue Jays lineup.

Last month in this space I wrote about the passing of Jim Hickman.  Last night, I found out another original Met had gone to that great baseball banquet in the sky.  Clarence Choo Choo Coleman, age 79 passed away in Bamberg, South Carolina.  He was one of many catchers Casey Stengel employed during that interminable season. He missed turning  80 by 9 days. He began in the minor leagues at 18 with the Senators.  When he made the show it was with the Phillies, and he was hit by a pitch on his first time up. Welcome to the Show.  The Phillies set a league record with 23 losses in a row.  The Mets took Coleman in the expansion draft, and one of the low lights of their 40-120 season was a 17-game losing streak. After baseball he was part owner of a Chinese restaurant for two decades, where he was known to work and even cook meals in a pinch.

With Coleman’s passing, 23 original Mets still live 54 years after that first season in the Polo Grounds.  The oldest is pitcher Dave Hillman, who is 88.  He relieved Roger Craig in the first ever Met game, an 11-4 loss to the Cardinals on April 11, 1962.  Craig himself is still alive, at 86. Joe Pignatano, catcher and later bull pen coach is 86, as is power hitter Frank Thomas. Catcher Hobie Landreth who started behind the plate in that first game is 85. Another catcher, Sammy Taylor is 82. Pitcher Willard Hunter is 81. So are pitcher Ken Mackenzie and infielder Felix Mantilla. Outfielder Joe Christopher is 80, as are pitchers Bob Miller and Al Jackson.  Jackson got the first Mets’ win.  Galen Cisco is 79.  He pitched 9 innings in a 1964 Mets-Giants game that went 23 innings. He later became a pitching coach. Cliff Cook and pitcher Jay Hook are 79. Why Hook wasn’t ceremonially named Captain of the team I do not know.    Craig Anderson is 77. He was a pitcher who later coached baseball at Lehigh. Another catcher, Chris Cannizaro is 77.  The youngest living Met is Ed Kranepool, at 71.

Today features a matinee at Wrigley, as part of a day-night doubleheader there.  In the early game Trevor Cahill makes his first Cubs start this year.  He’s been on the DL for some six weeks with tendenitis in one of his knees. When he did pitch for the Cubs it was from the bull pen. In game 2 they have Jason Hammel, who has 12 wins this year which is the most ever for him.  He claims that eating potato chips stops him cramping during games.  This goes against logic, but if it works for him …  Everything else is at night.

The Rangers will have to do without outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.  He’s on the DL with a broken left arm. He was hit by a pitch last night in the fifth inning.  His year is probably done even assuming the first-place Rangers go to the playoffs.   Even if they wanted_ to replace him with the free agent A.Rod, it’s been announced that he won’t play again in 2016.

Delino DeShields JR. is 24 today. While he was an Astros’ draftee and a first-rounder at that, his MLB experience has been with the Rangers starting in 2015. He was taken by the Rangers in the rule 5 draft and finished 7th in Rookie of the Year voting.  It’s astonishing to me the Astros left him available to be plucked by the Rangers.  His sister Diamond is a terrific basketball player for the University of Tennessee, the second-best program in the sport only to the UConn Huskies.

Pitcher Yu Darvish is 30 today.  He was a star with the Rangers before Tommy John surgery put him on the shelf.  He’s back now but going through the ups and downs any survivor of that operation goes through. He pitched in Japan as early as 2005. In Japan he had an insane 93-38 record and he’s 42-28 here. He was an All-Star twice in japan and 3 times here before his injury.

Gene Brabender was born this day in 1941 and died at 55 in 1996 just after Christmas. He was a native of Madison, Wisconsin and wouldn’t get a second look except for Jim Bouton’s book “Ball Four.”  He was acquired before the  season started by the 1969 Seattle Pilots.  They were brainstorming a nickname, and one wanted to call him “Animal,” understanding that was an old nickname of his.  Then when they were told how rough he was, they decided to call him “Sir.” He came in at six-five and 225, a daunting figure to the likes of his Pilots’ teammates. He had a 35-43 record in spite of breaking in with the Orioles for whom he was 16-14.  He didn’t appear in any of their 4 World Series games in 1966.  When the Pilots pulled the rip cord  and headed to  Milwaukee he was with them and 1970 was his final year.

Another 1969 Seattle Pilot has a birthday today.  Bill Edgerton is 75.  His career was brief, starting with the old Kansas City Athletics at the end of 1966 and ended just after takeoff with the Pilots in 1969. He had an ERA just south of 5 and a 1-2 record. Again, we owe it to Jim Bouton that Edgerton is mentioned here on his 75th birthday.

It is also the anniversary of the death of Babe Ruth, who passed this day in 1948 at 53.  He had battled throat cancer for 2 years, though his doctors saw fit not to inform the Bambino of what was wrong with him. Elvis Presley, who has nothing to do with baseball also died on this day, and baseball showman Mike Veeck chose this day in 1993 to hold “Two Dead Fat Guys Night” with the Fort Myers Miracle of the Twins’ organization.

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  • Tom M. Thomas
    August 17, 2016

    I believe it was also Mike Veeck who gave fans popsicles when they arrived for Ted Williams Night.

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