Category Archives: In memoriam

Jose Fernandez (1992-2016)

jose fernand

This is unbelievable news to wake up to – that Jose Fernandez has died at age 24 – in a boating accident.

There just aren’t many pitchers I really enjoy anymore. There aren’t that many I would consider good. I knew the first time Fernandez pitched that we had a bad ass on the mound and one that was going to be good for a very long time.

Things like this should never happen, but they do. When they do there just really aren’t words. This is so incredibly saddening.

I had a horrible dream back in Spring Training that a player had died, and I won’t name the player. I’m not sure why I had the dream. It was horrifying enough I woke myself up in a panic. This is like living that nightmare. Again, I can count on two hands the pitchers I really enjoy in baseball. Fernandez was on that short list.

His final start five days ago was a work of art. A 1-0 victory in which he had 12 strikeouts and no walks.

Thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by the horrible loss of this young man and immense talent.

It was a Purple Rain type day all over Baseball


Today we lost a music legend. And if you’re frequent to this site you know we love some 80’s music. Prince, rest in peace. This was the coolest tweet we saw today in regards to Prince’s death:

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 9.47.54 PM

And it’s surprising how much homage was paid around baseball to the man himself. Brandon Phillips used a different batter walk up song each time he came to the plate tonight. The Purple Prince logo was on the big screen in Arlington (even though the announcer said ‘what is that’). As seen above, the Twins lit their park up purple. And then they went out and spanked the Brewers 8-1.

I was always partial to Little Red Corvette in a big way, but on a day like today; no other song needs played.

Your Saturday Baseball Post


When I think about Tiger Stadium and the players that roamed there when I was a kid, of course I think of Cecil Fielder. I think about Alan Trammel and Lou Whittaker. I think about their skipper Sparky Anderson. But when I think hard about those blue walls and facades and barricades and ironsides that made up beautiful Tiger Stadium; the player I probably think of most is Tony Phillips.

There was something cool about Phillips, who was a Tiger from 1990 to 1994. He often batted wearing shades during day games. I am shocked to see he was never an All Star. Look at his 1993 stats for crying out loud. When I was a kid and Nintendo and Sega Baseball were part of my daily routine, Phillips was the man.

Tony Phillips died yesterday of a heart attack at just the age of 56. That’s far too young.

This Saturday baseball post is dedicated to the man who had a Hall of Very Good type career. He played 18 seasons and scored 1300 runs. His 160 career long balls are evidence that the little guy had some pop.

Enjoy your Saturday, folks. Thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers.

“It Gets Late Early Out There”

Yogi Berra

He played his final game some 17 years before I was born, but if you’re going to have a baseball website and you’re going to marry into a Yankees family, you’re going to do a post to bid adieu to the guts and glue of some of the greatest Yankees clubhouses of all time.

Yogi Berra is often remembered for his ‘Yogi-isms’ and everyone loved the guy. He was a great human being by all accounts, an ambassador if you loved baseball. You could not think of Yogi if you knew the game without a fond thought. Lost in all this is that he was a lifetime .285 hitter with a formidable .830 OPS. Pretty good numbers for a guy who caught 1699 games.

And then comes the part where; I married a New Jersey girl. Yogi Berra resided in the town next to where my in-laws live. Many times when I run on the beautiful boardwalk out there, I have my eyes up and I’m looking for Yogi. I’m told he used to take his early morning walks out there and I might see him if I’m alert. I never saw Yogi. But I still felt his heroic presence when I would eat breakfast in many of the Yankee decorated diners out there. He passed away 11 years to the day that I started dating my wife.

One of the greatest Yankees ever is now in the ballpark cathedral in the sky. Rest in Peace Yogi Berra, from 1925 to 2015 you kept it loose.

RIP Ernie Banks 1931-2015


Mr. Cub Ernie Banks passed away last night at age 83, meaning another timeless legend has left the earth forever. At a time when it seems like these generational talent ballplayers from our father’s youth are becoming extinct like dinosaurs, it’s important to remember that guys like Banks were more than just a guy with gaudy numbers.

So let me begin with the numbers

Banks played in parts of 19 seasons, compiling 512 career home runs and a 67.5 bWAR. When you ask someone what position Banks played, they’re going to tell you shortstop. But Banks actually played the second half of his career primarily at first base – something I didn’t realize until I took a look at his numbers thoroughly. In fact, he appeared in 1259 career games at first base compared to 1125 at short, mixing in 46 sporadic appearances in the outfield. This was an exceptionally versatile slugger whose best overall season came in 1959 when he had a WAR of 10.2, hit .304 with 45 home runs and 143 RBI. He won the MVP award in back to back years in 1958 and 1959.

More than anything – Banks signified a culture – known as “Mr. Cub” he was possibly the most beloved of a fan base who has been known as the most loyal and die-hard in the rich history of the game.

Banks played in an era of innocence, when players weren’t as selfish. They played for less, and they probably gave more of their time. His most famous quote was at it’s very core, about his love for the game and playing it:

“It was about 105 degrees in Chicago,” Banks told the Houston Chronicle’s Richard Dean. “And that’s a time when everybody gets tired. I came into the clubhouse and everybody was sitting around and I said, ‘Beautiful day. Let’s play two!’ And everybody looked at me like I was crazy. There were a couple of writers around and they wrote that and it stayed with me.”

If guys today are honest, they probably loathe double-headers at the present day. Double headers are loved by fans; they’re loved by kids who are in little league. They’re not loved by guys who are being paid to play the game who have other things to do when their five hours at the park are done. But Banks became known for this quote because it said everything about him by saying so little.

He also once said that digging for gold was more important than the gold itself. The reason he’s so heralded and beloved isn’t because of the exceptional numbers he put up – though they certainly didn’t hurt things – it’s because he was a great player who loved the game at his core and was approachable in a sincere manner. He’s a reminder of how innocent and bare bones the game used to be. When it was truly the soul of the country, a player like Banks was one of the reasons our fathers and grandfathers loved the sport.

Rest in Peace, Oscar Taveras


I’m by no means a Cardinals fan, but I am a huge fan of talent; and I am an even bigger fan of young phenomenal talent.

When I got a text message from a friend while at dinner last night that Oscar Taveras was dead, I had to take a moment to read it several times. I didn’t want to believe it.

Oscar Taveras’s don’t die – they marvel us with their talent. They win Rookie of the Year awards. They hit .353 at a ridiculously young age. They play 15 years in the big leagues and we hate seeing them come to town to play our team because they spend a series filling the box score. The win championships and continue to build the legacy of one of the best organizations in the game.

They don’t pass at age 22; not on a night when they could have been playing in the World Series if the ball had bounced a bit differently.

It still doesn’t seem real to me. I can’t believe I’ll never get to buy a ticket and go watch the second coming of Vlad Guerrero play live. In a weird way, I was looking forward to Taveras torturing the Cincinnati Reds over the next ten years. He would have, too.

I’ll always remember where I was when Oscar did this in the rain the first time we got to witness his talent:

I’m sad to say I didn’t see his last big league hit on television, or his NLCS home run off Jean Machi. And unfortunately, I’ll remember forever where I was standing when I got the horrifying text that Oscar Taveras died, hoping somehow that there had been a mistake; and then learning that it was reality.

Rest in Peace, Primo. Like all things in life, this remarkable young talent had an expiration date. It doesn’t make it any easier to understand or deal with. I will forever go on wondering what this young man could have accomplished if things had not ended tragically, maybe more so than anyone I’ve ever followed in my three decades of loving baseball.

RIP, Frank Cashen


If you don’t know Frank Cashen’s name, you should.

He was one of the finest baseball architects of all-time, crafting what we believe was one of the greatest teams ever assembled, the 1986 Mets. We first learned of Frank Cashen while reading The Bad Guys Won by Jeff Pearlman (perhaps one of the best and most underrated baseball books ever written).

Cashen passed away today at age 88. If it were not for his vision, we would have never known of Mookie Wilson, Lenny Dykstra, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Gary Carter, Ron Darling, Jesse Orosco, Roger McDowell, Keith Hernandez, Ray Knight and all the various other guys who made that team so special.

The Mets of the mid-to-late 80’s didn’t win the three or four titles that many thought they would, but when Cashen arrived in 1980 the Mets were the laughingstock of baseball. By the time he left, they were a feared team that no other franchise wanted to cross in a postseason series.

Rest in Peace, Batman (Tony Gwynn)


The baseball Grim Reaper has been hard at work of late, but man; this one really stings.

I always really loved Tony Gwynn growing up as a kid. I loved the fact that in an era of steroid sluggers, a roly-poly line drive hitter could be so feared. I loved that he played his entire career in one uniform. The dude started raking the year I was born, and didn’t stop until the year I went to college.

I remember where I was in my life when I learned of a lot of the legends dying – Ted Williams, George Steinbrenner, Mickey Mantle. I’ll forever remember where I was when I learned that the greatest pure hitter of my childhood died. I came out of a meeting this morning and checked my phone, and I was shocked to see the news blip that Tony Gwynn had passed away at the age of 54 from salivary gland cancer.

Obviously, Gwynn’s ailments could have been brought on by his long-term use of smokeless tobacco. This is one of the few addictions that has afflicted me throughout my adult life since I played baseball. My connection to Gwynn runs deeper than simply saying I saw him play live once that August 15th day in 1992 in Cincinnati. It runs deeper than having a couple pages in my baseball card album as a kid dedicated to his Diamond Kings Donruss cards.

You see, Tony Gwynn should be reason enough that I never touch smokeless tobacco again. I wish I could sit here and say that him getting me to quit was his final parting gift to me; after all the wonderful memories like that 1994 season when he had so much magic. Like that 1998 the World Series when he hit .500, because Tony Gwynn is the type of hitter that gets a hit every other time up on the game’s grandest of stages. But the truth is, I don’t know if this will be enough to make me quit. It should be though, because the memories I have of Gwynn are nothing but pleasant.

When he spoke he sounded like an everyday guy, a nerd almost. Not a jock. Not like you would expect a lifetime .338 hitter to sound like. There probably isn’t a story anywhere on the large scary internet of Tony Gwynn being anything but pleasant to journalists and fans alike. He was a once in a lifetime hitter, but he was also a once in a lifetime person by all accounts.

It’s hard for me to me to grasp the concept that Gwynn really passed away today, because legendary figures like Gwynn just don’t seem to go out so quietly. Reports at this point are sparse – and while I am sure we will get a more in-depth story on this soon – there are no real details that Gwynn had taken a turn for the worse.

I will always remember that 1993 to 1997ish era where Tony Gwynn was one of the most dominating hitters in the sport I love. The Ted Williams of my generation, the closest thing I ever saw to The Splendid Splinter. His place in the game and his 3,141 hits will never be forgotten by this man. And hopefully someday when I consider of taking that next pinch of chew, I’ll think of Mr. Padre and throw my can away for the final time.

RIP Bob Welch


The year I got really into baseball, Bob Welch won 27 games for the 1990 Oakland Athletics. He’s one of the first really dominant pitchers I remember seeing and pulling his baseball cards out of my stack because I thought he was pretty good – and he was.

What’s more is that Bob Welch had a long and storied career that spanned back about a dozen years before I got to know him. He lost game two in Cincinnati in that 1990 World Series, which is the first that I really remember in my life in baseball.

Bob Welch passed away today at the young age of 57 to a heart attack. In his career he won 211 games with the Dodgers and Athletics. He is most often remembered for allowing three home runs to Reggie Jackson in that 1978 World Series when Welch was a 21 year old youngster.

RIP, Don Zimmer


I don’t really know why – but there was something that always felt comforting about seeing Don Zimmer on television in a baseball uniform. Today he passed away at age 83, and baseball lost one it’s most coveted members of it’s storied fraternity.

Zimmer spent much of his time in uniform with three of the most storied organization in baseball history: Dodgers, Cubs, and Yankees.

He lived a charmed life in baseball. He’ll probably be most remembered for getting thrown to the ground by Pedro Martinez in the 2003 ALCS. It’s arguably one of the most famous moments in the rivalry’s history:

And at that moment, you wanted to walk down on the field and pick up the little man they called ‘Popeye’ and dust him off. Much of the baseball world became forever endeared to the bald fat man who sat next to Joe Torre in the Yankees dugout at that very moment.

You get the feeling that Don Zimmer loved extra innings and more baseball. Where he’s at now, every day is like a new 19-inning marathon, all-you-can-eat baseball buffet. Sleep well old timer.

RIP Ralph Kiner


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


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.