Category Archives: In memoriam

RIP Ralph Kiner

ralph_kiner_autograph

Today, a Hall of Fame player passed away at age 91. It seems like Kiner is a forgotten man amongst the greats of the past who played this game. His career numbers didn’t end up gaudy, but it’s hard to imagine a player in baseball history ever having a better prime or five-year stretch than the one Kiner put together from 1947 to 1951 in Pittsburgh.

During those years (beginning when he was 24 years old) he strung together home run totals of 51, 40, 54 47, and 42. His OPS over that span was 1.029. Back in that era before weights existed and PEDs and all of those evils, that’s nothing short of insanity. And the guy never won an MVP!

RIP, Kiner.

RIP Tony Soprano

sopranos

I’m pretty shocked by the news that Tony Soprano died today at age 51 of a suspected heart attack. It’s weird and ironic, because in the last week I’ve been looking online for the complete DVD set of the Soprano’s at a reasonable price. I wanted to show it to my wife who is from New Jersey where all this stuff went down every week on the show.

And it brings up a larger point that I was trying to explain to her. When I was in high school and college, after the NFL went off the air on Sunday’s it wasn’t time to pack up the laundry my mom did and head back to the dorms just yet. The Sopranos would come on, and my mom and dad and I would watch them every week. We would laugh at the stupid shit that Paulie would say. We would laugh at Tony’s son. We would argue about who was on the hot seat to get whacked next.

It truly became known in our house as “Family Hour”. And not too long after that I visited New York City and there was a billboard with the Soprano’s gun on the side of a large building in Times Square that said exactly that: ‘Family Hour’. That’s all it said and that’s all the ad needed to say.

When the show ended I was closer to being an adult and my parents were going through a divorce – much like Tony and Carmella on the show. But we always had the memories of family hour and to this day I still debate with friends, co-workers, and anyone who enjoyed the show their theory on if when the screen went black; did Tony get whacked?

Personally, I think he was shot. RIP, Tony and thanks for the memories.

A sad day in baseball continues: Stan Musial passes away at 92

The Man.  What a nickname.  Can there be a better one?  Stan Musial was one of the best baseball players in the history of the game and pretty much defines what it means to be a St. Louis Cardinal.  A 1969 Hall of Fame inductee, a 3 time MVP, and a 24 time All-Star, he was consistently great for so long, that sometimes his name can get lost in when mentioning the all-time greats – don’t make that mistake.  Musial didn’t just fade into the sunset after his playing career, but proved in his post playing career that he was as good of a man as ball player.  A great Musial quote?

“You wait for a strike, then you knock the shit out of it.”

So simple, so great.

Baseball is a little worse off today.  Rest in peace Stan.

Rest in Peace Ryan Freel

Ryan Freel was always a favorite of mine. So much that one night, I felt compelled to add him as a Facebook friend. In fact, whatever occurred between today and yesterday was not something that I would think was planned all along by Freel. As of yesterday, Freel had added a submission to The Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Field fan page stating “Let me know if I can help in anyway……”

I lived in Cincinnati in 2004 and 2005. I spent countless summer nights by myself at the ballpark, where I saw Freel up close and nearly felt like I knew him. Those years would coincide with the finest seasons of Freel’s MLB career. Over three seasons, he was a fixture at the top of the Reds lineup that desperately needed a leadoff man and stole 103 bases from 2004 to 2006. He played every position on the diamond except for first base and shortstop. He was a hustling, down and dirty throwback of a renaissance man.

I got the feeling that Freel; in all his battling from the dusty fields of the minor leagues, was a guy who never forgot where he came from.

A short story I never about Freel that might illustrate that comes to mind. One night I was sitting in the first row of the seats on the Reds dugout. A guy next to me was someone from Freel’s past; a coach, a friend, someone who had known Ryan for some time and had traveled a long way to see him play in Cincinnati from what I gathered. Freel was finishing a few warm-up tosses when he noticed the guy and he nodded and came over and spoke to him. He told the guy to hold on a second, popped into the dugout and emerged from it with a couple game used bats for the guy and his kid.

He was likable and approachable to Reds fans. He played the game like a warrior, running through walls and generally having no reservations about his own health when it came to stealing a bag or making a play. One night at Great American Ball Park the giveaway was Ryan Freel dirty t-shirt jersey night. I still have that shirt somewhere in my dresser with the dirt stains down the front covering Freel’s number six to commemorate his head first slide.

My thoughts and my prayers go out to Ryan’s family and friends tonight. This is a terrible and senseless thing.

Never Knew Pesky’s Pole Had So Much Grafiti on It

I figured that if the less famous distant cousin of the Green Monster is ever going to get a post on this blog, today had to be that day.

Johnny Pesky was a Red Sox legend who hit .307 for his career, and he died today at age 92. This is one of the most famous baseball landmarks in the game. When I make my first trip to Fenway (God willing), I’ll be sure to write something cool on that pole.

You want to read why they call it Pesky’s Pole, right here.

You want Pesky’s Baseball-Reference page, right here.

Henry Hill of Goodfellas Fame has Passed

Not the real Henry Hill

We promise to never make too many pop-culture references, but when it pertains to Goodfellas we have to mention it in a post.

Henry Hill–the rat played by Ray Liotta in the Hollywood film–has passed away at age 69. I wouldn’t have known it until I read this Grantland article.

Rest in peace ‘Hendry’ as Tommy said in the movie. Thanks for the great movie and mystique surrounding wiseguys everywhere.

RIP Kid

Gary Carter is gone.

In the first baseball video game I ever played–the Original RBI Baseball on the NES–Gary Carter was the clean-up guy for the New York Mets. They were my team of choice. That GCarter guy could really swing it back in those days. I wanted to learn more about him. As I collected all the Darryl Strawberry Mets items I could find, Carter was a good Robin to his Batman for me.

In one of the first baseball books I ever remember reading–a book about the ’86 Amazin’ Mets in my school library–I read all about the heart and soul of the Mets team. It was not Strawberry they spoke of as I wished, but this Carter character.

Ironically it was Strawberry today who said the following about his former teammate:

“I Wish I Could Have Lived My Life Like Gary Carter…He Was A True Man.”

A sad day for baseball. Gary Carter, gone too soon.

“Hulkamania is like a single grain of sand in the Sahara desert that is Macho Madness.”

RIP, Macho Man.

I know this is a baseball blog. But this guy was a huge piece of my childhood. If you grew up in the 80′s and you liked old WWF, today is a sad day.

Countless VHS tapes of old wrestling pay per view’s that my parents rented for me when I was just a little guy had the Macho Man straight dominating.

The pinnacle of his career, Wrestlemania 4:

He’ll definitely be missed, and he should definitely be remembered for not being a guy who hung around too long. Unquestionably one of the greatest of all-time and a legend. Thanks for all those Saturday morning memories, Mach.

Saying goodbye to the Duke of baseball

Over the weekend we lost one of the greatest Dodgers to ever walk the earth. Duke Snider passed away at age 84.

We won’t pretend to have much of a tie of any type with Duke. We knew he was special as a player, he’s a guy who you wish you could have been around to have watched play the outfield back in the day ‘when it was a game’. He’s also featured in the song ‘Talkin’ Baseball’ if you’ve ever heard it.

For those closer to the situation, we refer you to True Blue L.A. for some memories of the Duke.

Goodbye, Rapid Robert

One of the greatest Cleveland sports figures of all-time has passed away. Bob Feller is dead at age 92.

This is a sad story–Cleveland loses another sports hero–and one that would have never forsaken or left the city behind. Feller played for 18 years and struck out nearly 3,000 hitters in an Indians uniform and won 266 ballgames.

Heaven just gained a Helluva fastball.

via Golden Sombrero.

UPDATE: Feller is not dead yet. Morning Journal report was incorrect.

UPDATE: Steinbrenner Dead at 80

Multiple reports this morning reported that George Steinbrenner has suffered a massive heart attack. We have since learned that George Steinbrenner has died at age 80 in Tampa, Florida.

It was just two days ago that Steinbrenner reacted to the death of legendary Yankees public address anouncer Mel Sheppard.

Obviously in the midst of the All-Star Game going on, it’s about to become a full blown Yankees fest. We’ll pay our respects to Steinbrenner in a post here, and then we’ll move on. Obviously we respect that this is huge news. Steinbrenner is the most legendary owner in the sport’s history and maybe all of sports.

Update: Yikes! YES Network Nightmare.