Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)
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The only spin here is on a curveball
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Top of the 1st
THE BUCK STOPPED HERE
While Effa Manley became the first woman elected to the baseball Hall of Fame when the former Newark Eagles co-owner was among 17 people from the Negro leagues and pre-Negro leagues chosen Monday by a special committee, Billy-Ball must admit to have been disappointed to learn that neither Buck O’Neil nor Minnie Minoso, the only living members among 39 candidates on the ballot, was elected by the 12-person panel chaired by former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent chaired the committee. I was particularly upset for the 94-year old chairman of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo, Buck O’Neil.
Anyone who has been lucky enough to have met Mr. O’Neil or have heard him speak will attest to the fact that he truly is one of the game’s great ambassadors. But to gain induction to the Hall, sentiment is not enough. While O’Neil won two Negro League batting titles, had a successful career as a player/manager with the Kansas City Monarchs and become the first black coach in the major leagues his stats were simply not Hall worthy.
Speaking in Kansas City for what was anticipated to be a big celebration, O’Neil said, “I couldn’t attend Sarasota High School. That hurt,” he said. “I couldn’t attend the University of Florida. That hurt. But not going into the Hall of Fame, that ain’t going to hurt me that much, no. I’m still going to be in Cooperstown representing these guys that’s in the Hall of Fame. So shed no tears for me. This is old Buck.”
Let’s just hope that O’Neil is honored by baseball in some fashion while he is still alive to appreciate it.
Top of the 2nd
GOOD DAY, EH? FOR TOMMY
Tommy Lasorda, the former Los Angeles Dodgers manager will join Chatham Ontario’s Stead, Alberta baseball administrator Ron Hayter and classical-era major league catcher Larry McLean of New Brunswick as the 2006 inductees to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in St. Marys, Ont. in June.
Lasorda, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., in 1997, was not inducted for his managerial skills or his love of pasta, but for his pitching skills. Tommy pitched for the Montreal Royals for parts of nine years and ended up the Royals’ career wins leader (107). He didn’t record a victory in the majors.
Top of the 3rd
HUDDY’S THE GUY
Tim Hudson will start Opening Day for the Atlanta Braves. The change in the rotation comes with the blessing of 2005 Opening Day starter John Smoltz, who says it’s time to pass the honor to Hudson. “Huddy is Opening Day starter for the future here,” Smoltz said. “As long as Huddy’s here, he’s going to start Opening Day. Huddy’s the guy.”
Top of the 4th
For those of you too impatient to wait till the next Billy-Ball for the answer to a trivia question, here’s one with the answer below.
Can you name the Hall of Famer who had the highest lifetime winning percentage for the Yankees when pitching for them? He was traded to Boston at the end of his career but did not pitch a game for them.
* Hint: He was considered one of the best left-handers of his time.
* Hint: Kids don’t remember this feat, because even though he was a back-to-back 20-game winner and had led the league in shutouts and winning percentage, he never won either pitching title back to back. He did lead the league in strikeouts in consecutive years twice, but that’s another story.
* Hint: You could argue that he was an even better pitcher in the World Series.
(ANSWER: in the Top of the 9th)
Top of the 5th
A CHANGE OF JUICE
Barry B*nds wore a strapless dress and a blonde wig, trying to look like Paula Abdul in front of a small gathering of fans and teammates, as the San Francisco Giants staged their version of “American Idol.” For a simply outstanding article on transgender athletes head to http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10809648/.
Top of the 6th
Hideki Matsui has a puffy left knee that he says isn’t a problem.
Gary Sheffield has had back spasms.
Pedro Martinez is still out of pitching shape as he remains tentative about his toe problem.
Former pitcher Rick Ankiel, trying to make the St. Louis Cardinals as an outfielder, will miss 10 to 14 days of spring training after injuring his left knee.
Red Sox closer Keith Foulke is receiving injections in both knees. The injections are to lubricate the joint and help the healing process following the surgery the pitcher had on both knees in the offseason. Chances are the injections are Synvisc which Billy-Ball, his ownself, has had. Let’s hope Foulke also doesn’t end up short, fat and bald.
Top of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM – 3/1/2006
On this date in 1969, this baseball legend and Billy-Ball all-time favorite retired.
BILLY-BALL-TRIVIA – 3/1/2006
Who was the first Texas Ranger to hit for the cycle?
Send your answers to Bill@billy-ball.com
Bottom of the 7th
BILLY-BALL-A-GRAM ANSWER – 2/22/06
Happy birthday, George.
DARN! PESKY ARSON. – Sparky Anderson
BILLY-BALL-TRIVIA-ANSWER – 2/22/06
Who was the second manager ever fired during spring training?
Alvin Dark – On March 21, 1978, the Padres fired Blackie, replacing him with pitching coach Roger Craig.
Top of the 8th
DID YOU KNOW?
Barring trades or injuries, manager Jerry Narron says the Reds’ starting rotation will be, in no particular order: Aaron Harang, Brandon Claussen, Paul Wilson, Eric Milton and Dave Williams. The Cardinals must be shaking in their cleats when they see that rotation.
Bottom of the 8th
Curt Gowdy’s funeral took place this past Saturday morning. As his funeral procession circled Fenway Park, I couldn’t help but think that Billy-Ball’s funeral procession will circle the Recycle Bin on your Desktop.
Top of the 9th
Here’s your answer to the question posed in the Top of the 4th –
Babe Ruth, who won 20 games in consecutive seasons for the Boston Red Sox in 1916 and ’17? After joining the Yankees, Ruth moved to the outfield, but made five more pitching appearances from 1920 to ’33. He won all five of those games. He also went 3-0 with a 0.87 ERA as a World Series pitcher with Boston, but never pitched in the World Series with the Yankees.
As a hitter, Ruth led the AL in strikeouts five times in his career: 1918, 1923, 1924, 1927 and 1928. At the end of his career, he joined the Boston Braves for just 28 games in 1935. He batted just .181 and called it a career.
Bottom of the 9th
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Information provided in Billy-Ball has been gathered from A.P. reports, espn.com, sportsline.com, mlb.com and numerous other e-sources. Opinions expressed in Billy-Ball are obviously solely the opinions of the author of Billy-Ball and do not reflect those of source material no matter how off the wall they may be.