Look here! - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpzggAVxLME
Did you know that the Beatles’ hit “Twist and Shout” was released as a single in the United States on March 2, 1964? That means I just missed its 50th anniversary by a couple of weeks! The song charted then, and even saw a return to the charts in 1986 after being featured in the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. But for me? It’s always going to remind me of this one Mets game I went to in 2000. It was a Sunday. My dad dropped in the church for 10 seconds, handed off the collection envelope to the guy with the long-handled collection basket (they raised our tuition because we didn’t come to church often enough!), and then drove over to Shea. It was a special day because they were celebrating the 10 greatest moments in Shea Stadium history. Many old time legends were the building that day, including Tom Seaver and Yogi Berra, and all in all it was a wonderful ceremony for the fans. Benny Agbayani led the game off with a solo shot off of Cardinals starter Garrett Stephenson, and the Mets were off and rolling like they were so often that year.
Now a few days prior, the Mets made deals with the Baltimore Orioles and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to acquire shortstop Mike Bordick and outfielder Bubba Trammell respectively (reliever Rick White was also included in the latter trade). The day before my game, the Saturday tilt, Mike Bordick hit the first pitch he saw in a Met uniform out of the ballpark. So here we are today, and Bubba Trammell is making his Mets debut, and he’s at the plate with two runners on in the second. While it wasn’t on the first pitch a la Bordick (Baseball Reference informs me it was on the third) Trammell also went deep in his first Mets at-bat. While he rounded the bases, “Twist and Shout” blared over the stadium’s speakers, and I thought it captured the happy moment perfectly. To this date, though they don’t play it during home run trots anymore, “Twist and Shout” will always be my favorite home run song. Anytime I hear it, Trammell and 2000 Mets instantly come to mind, without fail.
Baseball Hall of Famer Clark Griffith, aka The Old Fox, is a man of many firsts! Have you heard of him? He has something in common with more recognizable names like Babe Ruth, Thurman Munson, Don Mattingly, and Derek Jeter. Know what it is? Well, Clark Griffith is the very first ‘team captain’ in New York Yankee history. However his captaincy took place from 1903-1905, when the franchise was playing at Hilltop Park in Manhattan and was known as the New York Highlanders (not yet the New York Yankees!). In addition to that noteworthy first, Griffith is also the very first manager in Chicago White Sox history. His tenure as their player-manager actually took place before his stint with the Yankees/Highlanders, from 1901-1902. And to top it all off, in his first season as the Chisox skipper, he led the club to an 83-53 record, good enough for the franchise’s first American League pennant. And back then there was no World Series just yet, so this meant his club was #1. Griffith later went on to become the owner of the Washington Senators for three-plus decades. An absolutely fascinating baseball figure!
As my official knowledge of baseball is slim, I’ll share a personal memory. We have a Single A baseball team in Eugene, OR called the Eugene Emeralds. My dad used to bring the whole family there because he was a huge baseball fan, but for me it wasn’t really about the baseball. It was about the RC Cola, hotdogs, and peanuts. We ate pretty healthy at home, so this was a big deal. I’m still sad all these years later that they eventually switched to Pepsi. Also, we came from a tiny town, and Eugene was the big city, so going into the city for something was always pretty cool too. Everyone had the same idea, because it always seemed like our whole town was there. I’ve been to probably hundreds of games in my life, but I still don’t know much about baseball. It was never really about the sport for me.
Many people probably recognize Cal Hubbard as a member of the Hall of Fame as an umpire since 1976. Did you know however that Cal Hubbard was once an NFL player? According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum “[...] Cal Hubbard was a tackle on the three-time National Football League champion Green Bay Packers of 1929-1931, and was an All-League selection six consecutive years (1928-1933) [...]“.
Link to Cal Hubbard’s page from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum:
Memorable World Series Moments
If anyone is interested, here is a neat PowerPoint presentation created by an Adelphi University student. The font may be hard to view on occasion, but it covers some really vital moments in World Series history. Included are the infamous Curse of the Billy Goat saga in 1945, Willie Mays’ epic catch in 1954, the hobbled Kirk Gibson’s improbable home run in 1988, and the Red Sox breaking the Curse of the Bambino in 2004. Check it out for fun!
Wow what a play!
When we think of famous World Series catches, we typically think of Willie Mays’ sensational play in the 1954 World Series. With his back turned to home plate, Mays made an on the run grab denying Vic Wertz of a hit. However, have you ever seen this catch before? It’s Al Gionfriddo of the Brooklyn Dodgers stealing a home run away from Joe DiMaggio in Game 6 of the 1947 World Series. There’s a chance you may not have; Gionfriddo’s career was substantially less noteworthy than Mays’ was, which makes Al kind of an obscurity. However don’t let that make you unaware of his epic play! With two men on and two men down, Joe DiMaggio came to the plate for the Yankees representing the tying run in the 6th inning of Game 6. The Yankee Clipper cracked one high and deep to left, however Gionfriddo reached over the low left field fence to make the grab and end the threat! As Red Barber put it, “Oh doctor!” This game-saving catch helped preserve the Dodgers lead, one they would not relinquish, forcing the Series to a Game 7 the following day. Strangely, this was Gionfriddo’s final game in the Major Leagues! He would never play above AAA ball again. But hey, not a bad way to go out!
Hey have you heard of Walter Alston? If not, don’t feel bad, I don’t think many new age fans have outside of those rooting for the Dodgers. He’s a member of the Hall of Fame and has his #24 retired and out of circulation for the Boys in Blue. Though he only played 1 (!) solitary game in the Major Leagues for the 1936 Cardinals (and a forgettable one at that which he struck out in his lone plate appearance and committed an error in the field) Alston really made his mark as a manager for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers. What were some of his achievements? He won over 2,000 games, led his teams to 7 pennants and 4 World Series wins. But his biggest accomplishment to me? He managed the Dodgers for 23 seasons (1954-1976) and never once had a multi-year contract! That’s right! Alston managed every season as a lame duck manager, on a one year pact every year. That’s unheard of today! Talk about being comfortable with one’s employers!