Baseball passings.


Tony Phillips and Jim Davenport, two infielders of the Bay Area, passed away this week.

Phillips, 56, was a utility man who was on the 1988 A’s AL Championship team and also the 1989 WS Champion A’s team. He played in the majors from 1982-1999 for Oakland, Detroit, the Angels, White Sox, Angels again (first Angels when they were the California Angels, the second time the Anaheim Angels), Toronto, the Mets, and back with the A’s again.

He finished 16th in the 1993 MVP voting when he hit .313 for Detroit and led the majors with 132 walks.

The versatile Phillips played over 100 games at five different positions (2B, SS, 3B, LF, RF) and 97 games at a sixth (CF), and played over 100 games at DH as well.

His 162 g. average was .266-12-61, with 13 SB, 99 walks and an OPS+ of 109. Phillips led the league in runs scored in 1992 and walks in 1993 and 1996.

Davenport was a slick fielding 3B for the SF Giants from 1958-1970. He was the 3B on the 1962 NL Champion Giants squad. Davenport, 82, was an All-Star, Gold Glove, and finished 24th in MVP voting in 1962.

Davenport’s 162 g. average was .258-8-49, OPS+ 90. Besides 3B, he put some time in at 2B and SS as well. He led the majors in sac bunts in his rookie year of 1958.

I would like to understand the logic and criteria of some radio hosts where I live. Granted, I was coming home from work and only heard the last half hour of the show, so maybe I missed something. But they were talking about the 100 most famous athletes of the last 100 years. Not best, mind you, but famous. I did scratch my head when they weren’t going to include Tiger Woods.I could see and understand their exclusion of Jim Thorpe, who as talented as he was, is mostly forgotten today except by the most avid and knowledgeable of sports fans.

I nominated Yogi Berra. They poo-poohed it, saying that “other than Yankee fans…”

Really? Yogi was one of the most recognizable people in America. He crossed over from the sports culture to everyday life culture. Even people who know little about baseball would a) recognize Yogi Berra in an airport b) recognize one of his famous quotes. Maybe it was just that unique face of his, maybe it was the quotes, maybe it was the commercials he did. But Yogi wasn’t just a baseball icon, he was an AMERICAN icon. That is my point. If that (crossing over from a sports icon to an AMERICAN icon) doesn’t qualify as famous, what does? They did list Derek Jeter.

I’d love to hear their point. Granted they (the hosts) are some 20 years younger than me and not as experienced  (or as knowledgeable as they think they are). But by famous, are they talking just in the USA or worldwide? As I mentioned, this wasn’t about BEST athletes in the past 100 years, but the most famous. They did mention Derek Jeter. I’d love to see how many of their choices are of more recent vintage as opposed to people like Berra, Mantle or DiMaggio, for instance.

Or even a Wilt.

UPDATE: The Yanks will continue to wear Yogi’s #8 on their uniforms this season as a tribute to the legend who passed away late in the 2015 season.


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