Tag Archives: Robinson

Yanks sign OF Robinson to a minor league contract.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

You would think with Gardner, Hicks, Stanton, Judge, Ellsbury, Clint Frazier, Jabari Blash, and minor leaguers like Billy McKinney that the Yanks didn’t need another OF.

Instead, the Yanks signed Shane Robinson to a minor league deal. Robinson, 33, a righty bat, has played with St. Louis (2009, 2011-2014), Minnesota (2015) and the Angels (2016-2017). He has played in 436 games with 795 plate appearances, hitting .226-6-64 with 18 SB. His 162 g. average is .226-2-24 with 7 SB, OPS+ 64.

He has played in 18 postseason games (2012/2013 Cardinals) going 5 for 24 with a HR and 4 RBI.

He also pitched a scoreless inning for the 2015 Twins.

A bit of a head-scratching move, but a move for more OF depth.

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Ralph Branca dies at 90.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The scene, on grainy black and white, is still poignant 65 years later. Bobby Thomson hits a 3-run HR to win the pennant for the NY Giants over the Brooklyn Dodgers on October 3, 1951. The Giants were 13 1/2 games behind the Dodgers in mid-August. The Giants would go on to lose the World Series to a Yankees team that for that one year, featured Joe DiMaggio AND Mickey Mantle.

65 years later, you still hear Russ Hodges’ call of that home run by heart.

The pitcher who gave up that home run, Ralph Branca, died yesterday at the age of 90. The announcement was made by his son-in-law, ex-major league player and manager, Bobby Valentine.

For 65 years, Branca carried that HR with him. But he carried it with great dignity. Often, he and Thomson would tour or appear together, and they became great friends.

When I think of that, I think of Donnie Moore, who by contrast, never got over the HR he gave up in the 1986 ALCS that helped cost the Angels a WS berth, and who killed his wife and himself three years later.

Branca showed true class, dignity and sportsmanship, even when it came out in 2001 that the Giants were stealing pitches and that Thomson may have known what pitch was coming.

The Polo Grounds was shaped like a bathtub. Short down the lines (way under 300 feet) and deep (over 440) to the power alleys. Thomson’s HR barely cleared the 16′ high wall at the 315 mark. If it were hit in Fenway Park today, it most likely would be a single off the scoreboard, not even a double with the short wall.

Branca was more than that one pitch. He was only 18 when he made his major league debut in 1944—a year where the majors were devastated by players having to be in the service due to WWII; a year when the St. Louis Browns—the BROWNS—won their only pennant.

At the age of 21 in 1947, Branca won 21 games. There was no CYA then, since Cy Young wouldn’t die until 1955. Branca was an All-Star and finished 11th in the MVP voting.

More importantly, he befriended Jackie Robinson, who that year, as he was breaking the color barrier, was being ostracized by many, including his own teammates.

The movie “42”, about that year of Robinson’s life, portrays Branca very well.

Branca started Game 1 of the WS against the Yanks in 1947, pitching four scoreless innings before the Yanks tagged him for 5 runs in the fifth for a 5-3 win. Branca pitched a couple of innings in relief in Game 3, and got the win in Game 6, pitching a couple of innings in relief in the “Al Gionfriddo” game.

A 3x All-Star, Branca finished 21st in the MVP voting in 1948. He started, and lost, Game 3 of the 1949 Series to the Yanks, giving up just 1 run for 8 innings before tiring and giving up 3 in the top of the ninth. The Dodgers scored two in the bottom half of the ninth but lost 4-3.

Branca was 1-2, 6.35 in four WS games.

He pitched for the Dodgers from 1944-1953, then was with the Tigers 1953-1954, Yankees (5 games, 3 starts, 1-0, 2.84) 1954, was out of the majors in 1955—ironically the only year Brooklyn won the WS—and got in one more game, fittingly with the Dodgers, on September 7, 1956.

His MLB career was over before he turned 31.

He then helped with BAT, an assistance program for ex-players.

He went 88-68, 3.79 in his MLB career, ERA+ 105. His average year would have been 25 starts, 18 relief appearances, and 12-9, 3.79.  As a hitter, he hit .142 with 2 HR.

He and Thomson are both gone,as are most of the players from that game (Willie Mays, 85, was the on deck batter when Thomson homered).

That moment, however, will live forever.

Game 156. Mo’s #42 retired, Andy great in last home start, but Yanks lose 2-1.

What a special day I was privileged to attend yesterday. A great day… except for the ending.

The Yanks put up a special plaque on a side wall of Yankee Stadium honoring Jackie Robinson’s #42 being retired throughout baseball in 1997. Jackie’s widow, Rachel, was there and she looks marvelous considering that she has to be somewhere around 90.

Then, where #42 used to be in Dodger Blue for Robinson, a sheet was dropped to reveal the #42 in Yankee Blue. For the Yankees retired Rivera’s number—Mo is the last player ever to wear it, he was grandfathered in in 1997—so not only is 42 retired throughout baseball for Robinson, it’s also retired by the Yanks for Mo.

What a wonderful pre-game ceremony. Back to honor Mo were Gene Michael, Jeff Nelson, John Wetteland, Coney, Tino, Godzilla, O’Neill, Jorge, Bernie, Torre, Gene Monahan… and Metallica was even there to play a live rendition of Enter Sandman. In between innings, there were testimonials to Mo from teammates, opponents and others in the sporting world, like Magic and Kareem, even Tom Brady. I had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.

Andy Pettitte, also retiring, made the last home start of his career, and Andy was fabulous. He retired the first 14 batters he faced. Mark Reynolds hit a solo HR in the second (20). Andy had a no-no for 5 1/3. Then he gave up a game-tying HR to Ehire Adrianza, his first MLB HR.

Going into the eighth, it was 1-1 and Andy had a one-hitter going. Then he gave up a double to Kung Fu Panda, Sandoval. Sandoval left for a PR and Pettitte left, period. No longer will he grace the Yankee Stadium mound as an active player. More ovations. More tears.

Robertson came in and got a groundout but then gave up a double and the lead. 2-1 Giants.

Andy (L, 10-11, 3.88) 7+, 2 R, 2 H, 1 walk and 6 K. He was brilliant, and it’s a shame he has to take the loss in his last home start with such a great effort.

Robertson 1/3, 0 R, 1 H, 0 walks and 0 K. 2.13.

Then on the day they retired his number, Mo got the last five outs.

1 2/3, 0 R, 1 H, 0 walks and 1 K. 2.15.

The Yanks got a single by Alex and a double by Cano to start the eighth, but a great stop by Noonan on Soriano’s smash then he nailed PR Almonte at home. I don’t think Almonte should have gone there and it hurt the Yanks. Instead of bases loaded and none out (there is no way Noonan could have got Sori at first), there was 1st and 2nd, one out and Granderson whiffed. Nunez singled but Cano was gunned down at the plate.

The Yanks had their chances. They blew them, and lost 2-1 on a day in which Mo’s # was retired, Andy pitched great in his last home start and Mo himself pitched.

Worse yet, the loss puts them 4 back of the second wild-card slot with just 6 games left.

It’s just about impossible to make the playoffs now.

I have some computer issues, so if I don’t post in a while, you’ll know why.

Larry Doby

My facebook page today had a great comment and link by Mark Healey. I encourage you to check out the link. We saw, heard and read about the courage of Jackie Robinson this past weekend on Jackie Robinson day (and, by the way, doesn’t Jackie’s widow Rachel look absolutely stunning for 90?).

But there were and are TWO leagues. While Jackie integrated baseball and was the first to undergo cruel treatment in the N.L. and in the majors, someone had to do it in the A.L., and that was Larry Doby, who so often gets overlooked on Jackie Robinson day.

Doby was rightly inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998. He died in Montclair, N.J. (where Yogi Berra lives) in 2003 at the age of 79. He played for the Indians 1947-1955, White Sox 1956-1957, Indians II 1958, Tigers 1959 and closed out his career with a second White Sox stint (Chisox II if you will) in 1959.

He hit .283 with 253 HR. A 7x All-Star, he led the A.L. in HR twice, Runs scored once and RBI once, as well as OBP, SA and OPS once and OPS+ twice. His career OPS+ was 136. His 162 g. average was .283-27-103. In 1948 he was a World Champ (the last time the Indians won it all), and in 1954 the Indians were A.L. Champs. After he played his last game in July 1959 for the White Sox, they went on to become A.L. Champs. Doby was 9 for 38 in WS play (1948 and 1954) with 1 HR and 2 RBI.

In 1954, Doby led the A.L. in HR and RBI for the 111-win Indians. He finished runnerup in the MVP voting to Yogi Berra. One reason he didn’t win? A vote split. While Doby got five first-place votes, another five went to teammate Bobby Avila and another five to teammate Bob Lemon. Yogi got seven first-place votes.

Doby also finished in the top 10 for the MVP in 1950 (8th) and got votes in two other years.

Doby later became the second black manager in the majors, going 37-50 for the 1978 White Sox, taking over in midseason and guiding them for the rest of the year.

While it’s right and appropriate to remember & honor Jackie, it isn’t right that Doby seems to be forgotten.

Football news.

Personally, I think that Pete Carroll is making a big mistake in leaving USC to go back to the NFL. The Seattle deal should come down any hour now. At USC, he has a pipeline to recruits. LA has no NFL team to compete with, so USC, when successful, owns the town, football-wise.

Good weather, the beaches, LA, Hollywood, the (cue the Beach Boys) California girls… what 18 year old high school football star wouldn’t like that? It seems like it would make recruiting easier, wouldn’t it?

Carroll put together one hell of a record in his time at USC. A couple national titles, one near miss thanks to Vince Young. But he follows in the footsteps of John McKay (who found lots of misery—and an 0 and 26 start—in Tampa Bay, where he was 44-88-1) and John Robinson (79-74 in the pros), both of whom won at least one national title, left USC for the pros, got into the NFC Championship game (once for McKay, twice for Robinson), and lost.

Robinson had a second, and not as successful, stint with USC after his pro (Rams) days.

McKay, by the way, had one of my favorite lines. From Wikipedia:

Following yet another Tampa Bay Buccanneer loss in their early seasons, he was asked what he thought of his team’s execution. He replied “I’m in favor of it.”

Also from Wikipedia, it’s noted that McKay forever regretted his decision to leave the Trojans. His son noted that he knew “within the first week he got to Tampa that he’d made a mistake.”

Let’s hope Carroll hasn’t done the same.    

As for Carroll, 97-19 in 9 seasons. Those two national titles and seven top-four finishes. (AP). Tough to walk away from. He must be getting one helluva package. Either that or there is something missing for him personally, NFL-wise, where he was 33-31 for the Patriots and Jets.  

As for today’s games, let’s just say that the only green and white I will like this weekend is the Celtics (NBA). I can’t root for Philly teams, and as for the Jets…maybe if they had a different coach. Maybe. Rex Ryan seems like a chip off the old block, and I couldn’t stand Blowhard Buddy.

By the way, did you check out the YouTube Video of an Eagles’ employee spitting on the star that Dallas has at midfield? The guy then posted the video on the Eagles’ website. Real classy. I’m no Dallas fan, but still…  I don’t know if he’s been fired yet, but he’ll hear it. But then, this is the fanbase who booed Santa Claus. Yup. If you don’t know that story, check it out. December 15, 1968 at Franklin Field.    

I had to laugh at the Post this week. They printed a 2010 Tiger Woods calendar. 12 of his affairs all provocatively dressed, many in bikinis. One for each month. Funny. I have  tags for posts, one of “players” , one of “ex-players”, and others of in-season and off-season moves, but I never intended it to mean…well, you know.