December 3, 1969: The Mets traded OF Amos Otis and RHP Bob Johnson to the Kansas City Royals for 3B Joe Foy.
A very smart general manager once told me that of all the pitchers who dominated in the late 1990s to early 2000s, none was as fierce as Pedro Martinez. And that was saying something.
“Think about this list. I’m talking about Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Hall of Famers,” he said. “But if I had to win one game down the stretch or Game 7 of the World Series, it’d be Pedro every time. He had more than great stuff. That guy wasn’t afraid of anyone.”
Ask the average fan what Joe Sewell was known for and you’d get two answers—1) He was the guy who replaced Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman after Chapman tragically died less than a day after being struck in the head by a Carl Mays pitch in August 1920, and 2) He rarely struck out.
December 8, 1914: The Philadelphia Athletics sold 2B Eddie Collins to the Chicago White Sox for $50,000.
There was a three-hour time difference that separated me and Tom Seaver; breakfast was just finishing back east, which meant it was inhumanly early in northern California where The Franchise was calling from. But we were working on Seaver’s schedule, not mine. Who was I to contest the starting time of our conversation about Nolan Ryan.
Ask any culturally alert fan to identify the best general manager of recent vintage and 10 out of 10 will point knowingly to Oakland’s Billy Beane. Their one-word rationale—Hollywood—will be as simple to grasp as it will be erroneous.
December 8, 1966: The New York Yankees traded OF Roger Maris to the St. Louis Cardinals for 3B Charley Smith.
Charley Smith was a career .239/.279/.370 hitter, so if you didn’t know that the player the Yankees were giving up was vastly degraded from his peak, you’d be puzzled as to why the single-season home-run leader, a two-time MVP, had brought so little in return. As such, this trade represents not just an ill-judged swap, but the culmination of a series of bad decisions.
I had the pleasure of meeting Julia Ruth Stevens in 2011, when—at the age of 93—she was serving as America’s oldest (and best) historian on the subject of Babe Ruth. If anyone could consider herself an expert on the matter, it was Stevens. She was the Bambino’s stepdaughter and was unembarrassed to still be calling him “Daddy” almost a century later.
On January 10, 2018, the 14th Annual Portsmouth Murals Baseball Banquet will take place in the picturesque Scioto County seat on the Ohio River. The murals stretch for 2,200 feet and have become one of the greatest tourist attractions in the Buckeye state. They have turned the desolate decaying walls erected in 1937 to stem a major flood into over one-third of a mile of inspiring art, the largest such installation in the United States.