Matty Alou was the second of three ballplaying Alou brothers, all outfielders, all signed by the Giants at a time when the team was swimming in outfielders and first basemen. In addition to Felipe, Matty, and Jesus Alou, in the early 1960s the Giants also employed Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey, Willie Kirkland, Harvey Kuenn, Manny Mota, and Jose Cardenal—nine players essentially competing for left field, right field, and first base. Center field, the province of Willie Mays, was unavailable.
In the 2014 World Series, Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner came out of the bullpen to save Game 7 with five innings of scoreless relief. On just two days of rest, Bumgarner shut out the Royals on two hits, and it was considered a remarkable feat. The use of top starting pitchers in relief, which occurred fairly regularly during the twentieth century, had (due to high salaries, five-man rotations, and pitch counts) become a novelty in the twenty-first.
Any Mets fan knows the hangover from the ’86 World Series lasted well beyond the ground ball that whispered through Bill Buckner’s legs. No, that golden era, if any one-off championship can be memorialized as such, lived on for several summers, all the way to 1989.
One of the perks of covering Mariano Rivera’s career was learning not just about his famed cut fastball, but about his soul. We spent many hours dissecting what mattered most to him. Winning championships was at the top of the list, but so were faith and the pursuit of man’s better angels.
In April 1987 Los Angeles Dodgers General Manager Al Campanis appeared on the television show Nightline, on an episode intending to mark the 40th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut with the Dodgers. Campanis appeared live and made some incendiary remarks about African-Americans and their suitability to hold management positions in the game.
Mickey Cochrane’s final at-bat was on May 25, 1937. He hit a home run. That landmark ending concluded a glorious career as a catcher; a singular triumph as player-manager. His baseball tenure was characterized by myriad accomplishments as well as periods of deep depression and physical hardships. He was a man of intense emotional swings, yet regardless of his mental state, he remained an inspirational leader for teammates, a hero and a role model for millions during the Great Depression.
Tino Martinez had spent the winter of 1996 promising himself not to let New York suffocate him in its long, powerful tentacles. On the other hand, everything about the Yankees appealed to this young hotshot first baseman who figured he was holding a winning lottery ticket after being traded by the Mariners.
When New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died in 2010, having presided over the franchise for 37 years and seven championships, his obituary in the New York Times credited him for taking over a “declining Yankees team” and building it into a powerhouse. Most Yankee fans would agree, just as they might shudder at the mention of the “CBS Years,” the eight seasons (1965–1972) when the Yankees were owned by Steinbrenner’s predecessor, the Columbia Broadcasting System.
Throughout their history, the St. Louis Browns gave their fans little to cheer about. In their years in St. Louis (1902–1953), they won one pennant, in 1944. In all, over those years they finished in the first division only 13 times but finished last or next-to-last 22 times. (The Browns moved to Baltimore for 1954, becoming the Orioles.)