A founding member of Baseball Weekly, Tim Wendel is the author of 11 books, including the award-winning baseball trilogy – High Heat, Summer of ’68 and Down to the Last Pitch: How the 1991 Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves Gave Us the Best World Series of All Time. He is a writer in residence at Johns Hopkins University and can be reached at www.timwendel.com.
Soon after the 1961 season concluded, Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda sat side by side in a Cadillac convertible as it drove through the streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Crowds lined the route and cheered for the two Latino superstars.
The T-shirt hung with so many others at the National Baseball Hall of Fame gift shop. “Latino All-Stars” was emblazoned across the front and a list of Latino Hall of Famers ran down the back—Juan Marichal, Roberto Alomar, Orlando Cepeda, Roberto Clemente, and so forth. Yet, toward the bottom, a surprising entry could be found—Ted Williams.
In the spring of 1991, Atlanta Braves Manager Bobby Cox believed that his starting rotation held plenty of promise. After going 10–12 the year before, left-hander Tom Glavine appeared ready to become his staff ace. He was backed by veteran Charlie Leibrandt, with youngsters John Smoltz and Steve Avery ready to step up.
Few teams have been under more pressure to begin a season than the 1968 Detroit Tigers. Not only were expectations high for postseason play (the Tigers had finished one game back of the pennant-winning Red Sox the year before), but several local officials turned to the ball club in an effort to quell civic unrest.
Back when the Seattle Mariners still called the Kingdome home, the construction of Safeco Field took place right next door. By midseason of 1998, enough had been done so that the Mariners’ hitting stars could hold an impromptu batting practice at the new digs.
Oh, how they loved to argue. Debates about what pitches to throw, how to manage the game, even how to deploy everyone else on the Major League roster. Yet the fractious, volatile relationship between Jim Palmer and Earl Weaver in many ways personified “The Oriole Way.”
While the best pitcher and the best manager in franchise history rarely got along, they enthralled fans for decades and both reached the Hall of Fame. That they were so different, and willing to talk about it, only added fuel to the fire.
When the revolution comes, we like to believe we’ll understand the ramifications right then and there. But, of course, we never do.
So it was when I began to cover baseball in the mid-1980s. As the “swing man” for the San Francisco Examiner, I bounced between the Giants and A’s, spelling the main beat writers.