Friday, July 31, 2015

First Reigning Cy Young Award Winner Traded At The Deadline July 31, 1989

On This Day in Baseball History July 31, 1989: Minnesota Twins ace and reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Frank Viola was traded to the New York Mets for Rick Aguilera, Tim Drummond, Kevin Tapani, David West and Jack Savage.

While the trading of ace pitchers during the in-season trading period isn't rare, this transaction between the Twins and Mets marked the first time that a reigning Cy Young Winner was traded the following season after winning the award. Since the 1989 trading deadline deal that sent Viola to the Mets, only two reigning Cy Young Award winners have been traded the following season after winning the award.

In 2007, C.C. Sabathia was the American League Cy Young Award winner with the Cleveland Indians. He would be traded to the Milwaukee Brewers during the 2008 season for Rob Bryson , Zach Jackson, Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley where he would go 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA down the stretch helping to catapult the Brewers into the postseason.

In 2008, as with C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee was the American League Cy Young Award winner with the Cleveland Indians and he would be traded by the deadline with Ben Francisco during the 2009 season to the Philadelphia Phillies for Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald and Lou Marson. Lee would go 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA as the Phillies would lose to the New York Yankees in their bid to repeat as World Series Champions.

As for Frank Viola? His trade to his hometown team didn't prove to be as successful as he would have wanted. Viola went 5-5 with a 3.38 ERA down the stretch for the Mets in 1989. He would finish third in the 1990 NL Cy Young race by posting a 20-12 record with a 2.67 ERA. Though Viola was an All-Star for the Mets the following season, Viola would finish with a disappointing 13-15 record. Viola would become a free agent at the end of the season and sign with the Boston Red Sox for the 1992 season.

The Twins on the other hand would fare better in the deal. Both Rick Aguilera and Kevin Tapani were pivotal players in the Twins' march to becoming World Series Champions in 1991. Aguilera would save 42 games for Tom Kelly's Twins while Tapani would go 16-9 with a 2.99 ERA.

With the trading deadline looming, I don't think we'll see reigning Cy Young Award winners Corey Kluber or Clayton Kershaw being moved from their respective teams. But as we've seen in recent days, big name pitchers like Johnny Cueto, Cole Hamels and David Price can be moved for the right price. Any guesses on who else gets traded by the deadline?

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access Frank Viola's career statistics from Baseball
- Click Here to access Rick Aguilera's career statistics from Baseball
- Click Here to access Kevin Tapani's career statistics from Baseball
- From Left Field: Only 3 Teams Have Traded A Reigning Cy Young Winner by Jim Mancari from the Mets Merized Online blogpage dated November 15, 2012

Saturday, July 25, 2015

My First Memories of the 2015 Hall of Fame Class

Looking at the 2015 National Baseball Hall of Fame class of Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz, I started to think about when I first remember seeing each player.

Photo: Julio Cortez, Associated Press
As I have mentioned before on this blog, I grew up as a kid in an era where we didn't have 24-hour/7-day a week sports networks, up to the minute news updates through the internet and apps. The majority of my Baseball information came the old fashioned way via baseball cards, newspapers, the local televised ballgames and the weekly games of the week. So after establishing that I am one of the last of the dinosaurs ;) here are my recollections of the first time I saw the Hall of Fame class of 2015.

Craig Biggio

I remember Craig Biggio coming up as a catcher for the Houston Astros. Watching a game that contained the Astros would require me to watch a New York Mets telecast on WWOR-9. I honestly believe that the first time I remember Biggio was from his Baseball Card. One such card was the 1989 Donruss #561 card of Craig Biggio at the plate in his catching gear.

Biggio made his debut for the Astros in 1988 and for three season he would share duties at catcher, various outfield positions and second base. He was such a versatile athlete that he played 161 games at second base during the 1992 season and the rest as we know today is history

- Click Here for Craig Biggio's career statistics from
- Craig Biggio: From Kings Park to Cooperstown by Steven Marcus from dated July 24, 2015

Randy Johnson

My first recollection of Randy Johnson is in the powder blue uniforms that the Montreal Expos used to wear. Now those uniforms were truly unique and add to the mix that Randy Johnson was 6'10" and as wild as Major League's Rick Vaughn. But when I really got to know Randy Johnson was when he was traded to the Seattle Mariners in 1989. Not so much for because he was traded but because of who he was traded for.

I used to play Micro League Baseball religiously on my old Commodore 64-C (see, I am one of the last dinosaurs) and Mark Langston was always money for me in that game. I used to update the lineups every couple days a week and when the trade happened, I remember wonder who this Randy Johnson was. I remember seeing footage of his being wild either on This Week in Baseball or on the George Michael Sports Machine.

Luckily for Johnson, he would learn to utilize his size and velocity to become the Hall of Fame pitcher he is today.

- Click Here for Randy Johnson's career statistics from
- Cooperstown-bound Randy Johnson recalls the moment everything changed for him by Daniel Brown from the San Jose Mercury dated July 24, 2015

Pedro Martinez

My first memory of Pedro Martinez wasn't so much about Pedro himself but about the hype of his being the little brother of Dodgers prospect Ramon Martinez. Ramon Martinez was supposed to be the next great Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher when he came up in 1988. Ramon posted a 20-6 season in 1990 with a 2.92 ERA and 12 complete games which earned him a spot on the All-Star team and was the runner up for the 1990 NL Cy Young Award behind Doug Drabek of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

While Ramon was establishing himself as a mainstay of the Dodgers rotation, Pedro made his debut September 24, 1992. Luckily for Pedro, he wouldn't get much of a chance with the Dodgers. Pedro would be traded to the Montreal Expos for outfielder Delino DeShields after the 1993 season. It was in Montreal that Pedro would develop and shine. The 1997 trade to Boston only cemented the legendary status that Pedro Martinez would earn on his way to Cooperstown.

- Click Here for Pedro Martinez's career statistics from
- What made Pedro Martinez so great by Peter Abraham from the Boston Globe dated July 23, 2015

John Smoltz

I'm sure that I had heard of John Smoltz before the moment that I am going to mention. But if I hadn't, that Game 7 performance of the 1991 World Series against Jack Morris of the Minnesota Twins is a good place to start. Smoltz was part of an amazing starting rotation the Atlanta Braves that included Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. Also anchoring the rotation was veteran Charlie Liebrandt and prospect Steve Avery. But it was Smoltz performance that stood out to me in that classic World Series.

Smoltz matched goose-eggs on the scoreboard with Jack Morris through seven innings. And though Morris will always be remembered for arguably the second best World Series performance of 10-shutout innings, it was at this point that John Smoltz stands out in my memory.

Smoltz would not only be an outstanding starter, but also an amazing closer putting him in the same league as Denniz Eckersley as having succeeded not only as a starter but as a closer. And as Eck, Smoltz became a Hall of Famer.

- Click Here for John Smoltz's career statistics from
- Unparalleled John Smoltz a worthy Hall of Fame recipient Bby Ivan the Great from the Talking Chop blogpage on dated on Jul 24, 2015

What were your first recollections about the 2015 Hall of Fame class. Make sure to let me know in the comments box. I'd like to hear when it was that you discovered these future Hall of Famers.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Juan Marichal Debuts With a Complete Game 1-Hitter on July 19, 1960

On This Day in History July 19, 1960: 21-year old rookie Juan Marichal of the Dominican Republic makes his major league debut for the San Francisco Giants and does so in an impressive fashion. Facing the Philadelphia Phillies at home at Candlestick Park, Marichal was throwing a no-hitter until the Phillies sent up pinch hitter Clay Dalrymple with two outs in the eighth inning.

Dalrymple ruined the young pitcher's bid for a no-no in his debut with a solid single to center field on the first pitch Marichal delivered to the plate. Had Marichal been able to no-hit the Phillies, he would have been the second pitcher to throw a no-hitter in his debut after Charles Leander "Bumpus" Jones (January 1, 1870 – June 25, 1938) did so for the Cincinnati Reds on October 15, 1892 ***Bobo Holloman and Ted Breitenstein of the St. Louis Browns also threw no-hitters in their first major league starts but each had appeared in relief before making their first start.

Marichal would complete his game with a 1-hit, 12-strikeout, and 1-walk gem as the Giants beat the Phillies 2-0. Here is the boxscore of that game from the July 20, 1960 edition of the New York Times:

Marichal would become the first Dominican enshrined in Cooperstown in 1983. Marichal did it with style, flair and a bulldog determination. Pitchers today can take notes on how Marichal was able to succeed in an era where he was often overshadowed by such names as Koufax, Gibson, Drysdale and Ford. Luckily for us, we have similar pitchers in today's game in the form of Scherzer, Kershaw, Hernandez and Grienke.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Ty Cobb Becomes The First Player to Reach 4,000 Hits July 18, 1927

On This Day in Baseball History July 18, 1927: Philadelphia Athletics outfielder Ty Cobb became the first Major League Baseball player to reach the 4,000 hit plateau against his former team the Detroit Tigers at the Tigers home Navin Field. He would hit his 4,000th hit against Tigers pitcher Sam Gibson in the top of the first inning.

Unlike the fanfare that reaching such a milestone would garner in today's Baseball world, Cobb reaching 4,000 barely garnered any press. The New York Times of July 19, 1927 not only doesn't mention Cobb reaching 4,000 hits, he isn't even mentioned in the two paragraph article describing the 5-3 loss by the Athletics. The blogpost No hoopla when Ty Cobb got his 4,000th hit by Richard Bak from the Detroit Athletic Company dated November 18, 2013 mentions some of the Detroit press from that day's baseball action:
As Harry Salsinger wrote in the next day’s Detroit News, “Cobb hit a line drive into right field and [Harry] Heilmann, trying for a one-handed catch, got his glove on the ball but it bounced out and gave Cobb a scratch two-bagger.” Harry Bullion of the Detroit Free Press described Cobb’s hit as “a lucky double [that] slid off Heilmann’s gloved hand and helped in the making of two runs.” The 2-0 lead didn’t last long as Detroit countered with three runs in the bottom of the first off Lefty Grove.
Significantly, the game was not held up to acknowledge the historic base hit and Cobb didn’t ask for the ball. In fact, Cobb’s accomplishment was scarcely acknowledged in the next day’s papers. One reason is that little emphasis was put on such arcane records then. Another is that it was considered just another ho-hum day at the office for the 40-year-old Cobb, a hitting machine who seemed likely to go on forever. Who was to say that he wouldn’t reach 5,000 hits someday? The same attitude prevailed at the end of the summer when Babe Ruth clouted his 60th home run, breaking his own record. Like 4,000 hits, 60 home runs made for a nice round number, but many observers figured the Yankees’ slugger might one day hit 65 or 70, so why get too excited?
The Free Press ran a column of notes with the headline: “Bengals In Third Place; Ty Cobb Gets 4,000th Hit.” Bullion wrote: “When Cobb made his fluke double in the first inning, it was his 4,000th major league safety. He’s so far ahead of all records of other batsmen that he will never be beaten or tied.”
Trying not to be defeated in trying to find something on Cobb's 4,000th, I decided to look into a trusted resource that I have used before when posting about Cobb.

I pulled my worn copy of Ty Cobb: My Life in Baseball with Al Stump off my Baseball book shelf and to my dismay, I found NOTHING about the day Cobb delivered his 4,000th hit. The only mention of his accomplishments during the 1927 season for the A's is on page 257:
My personal performance in 1927 was satisfactory: a matter of 175 hits in 134 games, 104 runs scored and another 93 driven in for an average of .357. At forty-one, I could still leg it a bit, if 22 stolen bases was any evidence.
Cobb would become the charter member of the 4,000 hit club that day and finish his career with 4,191 hits. On page 146, Cobb would claim that out of the 4,191 hits he collected over his 24-year career, 72-plus percent of them were singles. He had 3,054 singles out of his total of 4,191 hits for an accurate 72.9 percent.

There is only one other member of the 4,000 hit club and that is the man who would eventually pass Ty Cobb as Baseball's All-time hit king: Pete Rose. Rose would reach 4,000 hits on April 13, 1984 and would pass Cobb on September 11, 1985 with his 4,192nd hit. Rose would finish his career with 4,256 hits.

So much for trying to find something Cobb may have said concerning the day he hit his 4,000th hit. Oh well. Though the article doesn't mention the accomplishment here is the boxscore for the Philadelphia Athletics vs. The Detroit Tigers on July 18, 1927 from the July 19, 1927 edition of the New York Times:

Will we ever see another player reach 4,000 hits? I always thought that Derek Jeter had a chance before he broke his ankle in the postseason against the Detroit Tigers in 2013. He would finish his career in 2014 with 3,465 hits. Anyone want to take a guess on who, if anyone, can reach 4,000 hits in today's game?

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

Friday, July 17, 2015

Ty Cobb Passes Away on July 17, 1961

On This Day in Baseball History July 17, 1961: One of professional Baseball's best, most intense and controversial players Tyrus Raymond Cobb passed away at the age of 74 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The man simply known as Ty amassed an amazing number of accomplishments in his 24-year Baseball career. At the time of his retirement after the 1928 season, Cobb finished with a still league high .366 career batting average, 4,189 hits (724 2B/295 3B/117 HR) and 1933 RBI. Cobb had a career slash line of .366/.433/.512 with an OPS of .945. What was most impressive about Cobb's accomplishments is that he led the league in batting 12-times with a never a batting average under .324 and hit over .400 three times.

Cobb would gain 98.2% of the vote in the inaugural National Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 1936. In doing so, he was the top vote-getter in a class that included such players as Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson.

Cobb would pass away of complications from diabetes and chronic heart disease at Emory University Hospital.

The following opinion piece was printed in the July 18, 1961 New York Times and I believe epitomizes who Ty Cobb the Baseball player was in conjunction with two of his contemporaries: Christy Mathewson and Babe Ruth:
Baseball as well as all sport has lost one of its great figures in the death of Tyrus Raymond Cobb. As with two of his outstanding contemporaries, the late Christy Mathewson and Babe Ruth, his was a name which became synonymous with America's national pastime. Curiously, each of these three was cast in his own mold.
The handsome Matty was the ideal American boy, the type that every mother hopes her son some day would emulate. The flamboyant Babe the uninhibited child of nature whose amazing exploits on the field, mixed with his engaging frankness and wayward habits, endeared himself to the public and made him the greatest attraction the game had ever known.
And Cobb, the Georgia Peach, epitomized the flaming spirit of youth. In Ty the will to win was ever uppermost. He set more records in baseball than any man who ever lived. But the setting of records, as such, meant very little to him. 
They were merely the accumulation of statistics compiled as he drove himself from day to day to live by the only code he knew. That was to play every afternoon a little harder and a little better than he had the day before. Victory was his only goal and to gain it he spared neither himself nor his adversaries. He knew no excuse for defeat. 
Some players are once in a generation. Some are once in a lifetime. Cobb was unique. There will only be one Ty Cobb.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:

Here are a series of articles printed in the July 18, 1961 edition of the New York Times reflecting back on the legacy of Ty Cobb

- Ty Cobb, Baseball Great, Dies
Cobb, Hailed as Greatest Player in History, Mourned by Baseball World
- Sports of The Times: The Cobb We Knew by John Drebinger
Ty Cobb