The Favorite Obscure Baseball Figure Project, Part Three

Last February I started a project here of asking fans to send in their picks for their favorite obscure baseball figure from the past. It took two different posts to list all the choices that came in, many of them via the now-defunct Baseball-Reference blog.

I’m restarting the project for spring training 2012. Here’s a quick primer: As the word “figure” indicates, the person didn’t have to be a player; it can be anyone (male or female, of course) who was employed within the game itself, by a team or by a league, including umpires, coaches, scouts, and front office personnel.

Obscurity is a little hard to define, but by definition it excludes anyone in the Hall of Fame. My general guideline is that if the typical enthusiastic but non-obsessive baseball fan either hasn’t heard of him or barely recognizes his name, he’s obscure. By “favorite” I don’t necessarily mean that you admire or like the guy, just that you think he’s interesting, compelling, or represents something important in baseball history.

I’ve posted about this project on Seamheads.com, message board Baseball-Fever.com, and, for Seattle Mariners fans, a message board called Mariner Central. (And, for Oakland A’s fans, the Athletics Nation site.)

You can look at all the choices offered at those three places. Here are a few of the choices offered by some people on Baseball-Fever:

abolishthedh
Pitcher: Danny Jackson, of the Royals, Reds and then the Phillies. He was a big game pitcher, had one huge season when he might have won the Cy had it not been for Orel Hershiser. He also had an odd facet to his pitching motion, where his knee seemed to buckle somehow as he drove himself off of the mound. He was fun to watch pitch, especially in big games.

Hitter: Nate Colbert, of the Padres for his big years from 1969 through 1973. The Padres played in a stadium with a 17′ high fence all around the outfield wall, and that fence was a bit further from the plate than was typical. Nevertheless, Colbert hit 38 HRs twice in 1970 and 1972, and he had 111 RBI in 1972 for a club which did not score many runs at all.

chinese home run
Frank Shellenback is one that comes to mind for me. He came up with the White Sox as a teenager in the late 1910’s; his specialty was the spitball. In 1920, major league baseball declared the spitball and other trick pitches illegal, but each team was allowed to grandfather up to two pitchers who threw the spitter. (No, Gaylord Perry wasn’t one of them-lol) Shellenback was on the roster of a Pacific Coast League team at the time, and he could not be included on the list. He instead won 295 games in the PCL, became Ted Williams’ first manager in the minors and became Leo Durocher’s pitching coach with the Giants in 1949. Shelly worked with Sal Maglie when he came back in 1950 and taught Johnny Antonelli how to throw a changeup when he came over to the Giants; without Johnny’s 21 wins they probably don’t win the pennant and World Series in 1954. Durocher was quick to give him credit for the Giants’ success. “Frank can see more with a pitcher in ten minutes than I could see in a lifetime,” Durocher said once.

Herr28
Wasn’t an obscure player while he was still pitching, but his name and accomplishments have been lost over the past 2 decades since he retired: John Tudor. The smooth lefty had an amazing 1985 campaign for my Cardinals, going 21-8 with a 1.93 ERA and NL leading 10 shut outs and 0.938 WHIP. Unfortunately for Tudor, that was the year Doc Gooden had a season for the ages and beat him out in the NL Cy Young voting. Tudor went 117-72 over parts of 12 seasons in the bigs with Boston (1979-1983), Pittsburgh (1984) St Louis (1985-1988, 1990) and LA (1988-1989). I always loved watching him pitch when I was a kid, and glad he did get a ring with the Dodgers in 1988, even though he had to leave his only World Series start that year in the second with an injury. Always one of my all time favorites!

pheasant
One guy I really liked is Dan Gladden. His stats kind of sucked. But he helped my Twins win two World Series, which includes him scoring the winning run in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. He always played hard despite having no talent. Now that I’m looking at his stats, I see that he really sucked. He had a career OPS+ of 95 in only 4962 plate appearances. During the Twins’ championship seasons, he had an OPS+ of 76 and 80. He only had one season with an OPS above 104 and he had 5 seasons below 89. That is pathetic. Yet, I really like this guy. He always hustled and enjoyed the game. And he was good for the clubhouse too, from what I’ve read.

Here are three from Seamheads:
ghostofwadelefler
My favorite is the man whose name I use when I post of baseball fora anonymously: Wade Lefler. After going 0-for-1 in a cup of coffee with the 1924 Braves, he went back down to Worcester until acquired by the Nationals in September. Lefler went 5-for-8 with three doubles – two as a pinch-hitter – and 4 RBI to help the Nats make the push to the AL pennant. Lefler never played in the majors again but went on to have a long career as a public attorney.

Mike Lynch
I’ve mentioned him before in other “obscure player” references, but my all-time favorite is Smead Jolley. He spent only four years in the bigs and amassed 500+ at-bats in only two, but they were two very good seasons: .313/16/114 in 1930 (he also had 38 doubles and 12 triples), and .312/18/106 in 1932 (struck out only 29 times in 606 plate appearances). Jolley could hit, but he was slow as molasses (don’t let the triples fool you; he was 5-for-12 in SB attempts during his career and had a range factor of only 1.80 vs. a LGRF of 2.37), and couldn’t field (.944 career FLD%). In fact, Jolley allegedly made three errors on one play once.

But dude could hit (did I already mention that?). He batted .367 in 2,228 minor league games, rapped out 3,043 hits in 16 years, 640 of which were doubles and 336 of which were homers, and slugged .584. He also enjoyed one of the greatest seasons at any level when he hit .404 with 52 doubles, 10 triples and 45 homers, and slugged .675 in 1928. His top minor league averages were: .404, .397, .387, .383, .380, .373 (twice), .372 and .360. If Jolley were better with the glove or there was a DH in the 1930′s there’s no telling how great he might have been.

Ike Boone was similar. He batted .370 in 1,857 minor league games with a career year in 1929 when he hit .407 and belted 55 home runs in 198 games. Boone hit .321 in 1,160 major league at-bats, but committed 13 errors in 118 games in 1925 (.941) and that sealed his fate as a major leaguer. It’s too bad because both of them could hit the hell out of the ball.

David
Stubby Clapp.
I was at the first game (of two) he ever started in the Majors, St. Louis @ Milwaukee, July 5, 2001. He went 1/4 with 2 Ks (and man alive did those two Ks look bad). Even though 2001 was his only season in the Majors, he’s still made his mark more recently on the international baseball scene. He’s Canadian, so he played with them in both World Baseball Classic tournaments. In 2006, he started all 3 of Team Canada’s games at 2nd base, going 2/13 with a triple and one RBI, walking twice, and getting caught stealing in his only attempt. He was much less of a factor in 2009, going 0/1 in his only plate appearance.

Here are two from Mariner Central:

Dag Gummit
For some reason, I was a fan of the two 1B we had between the Tino and Olerud eras — Paul Sorrento and David Segui. Both were quality, though unspectacular bats with very underrated gloves at first (especially Segui). In fact, I’m still pissed to this date how Segui was robbed of a Gold Glove in 1999 to Palmeiro — the first DH to win a Gold Glove (well… I don’t really know if he was actually the first, but who cares?!).

Leo Gomez
Jim Bullinger: Didn’t really like him as a player, but loved him in general because he would quickly punch the ball in to his glove a couple of times during his leg kick. I attempted to emulate this in a little league game with disastrous results.

Turk Wendell: Who didn’t love this guy?

Scott Bullett: Always expected this guy to steal more bags because of his name. But he was a good story baseball reference-wise. He actually had a very long and successful minor league career: 150 HRs, almost 300 steals, over 1500 hits.

Orlando Merced/Howard Johnson
: Guys who played for years elsewhere, played only briefly in Chicago, but I distinctly remember both of them hitting late-inning pinch hit homers. That’s a good way to win me over.

My absolute favorites:
Kevin Foster: My favorite pitcher when I was a kid. Had a couple of really good seasons, and was a pretty solid hitter too. I’m still baffled as to why he didn’t stick around in the big leagues longer than he did.

Joe Kmak: I’m really not sure why I liked this guy so much. He was they typical veteran catcher who didn’t play much, but seemed to be especially clutch when you least expected it. He’s a HS teacher now, and a few years ago one of his students wrote a great Wikipedia page for him that’s since been sterilized.

Leo Gomez: Had good power and always hit the first baseman right in the chest with his throws to first. Ended up having a really good career in Japan, but I still don’t understand why he never caught on in the majors.

And some Ms:
Rey Sanchez: I’m cheating here, because he was a Cub. But I was so excited when the Ms picked him up to replaced the ill/injured Carlos Guillen. I think even today I’d take Sanchez as the M’s utility player over Carlos.

Roberto Petagine: I remember SportSpot being up in arms that this guy never got any playing time. He was Roy Hobbs in spring training and made the team. In (I think…) his first two at bats he hit a pinch-hit double and a walk-off home run, then went on to rot on the bench. The man dominated in Japan, but never got the reps in the big leagues. He drove in 100 runs and hit .335 while playing overseas in 2009 at age 38.

Shane Monahan: I’ve heard tell that this guy was kind of a punk. But he was a left-handed hitter who didn’t have a lot of power, much like me. So he gave me hope that I could be a ball player too.

Here’s one from Athletics Nation:
CarneyLansfordFan:
Damon Mashore (Properly pronounced Ma-Shore, not May-Shore!) His superhero name made him an instant favorite, even though he never lived up to his handle.

And here are a few other choices:

Rob Harris:
I would go with Billy Maharg, who played as a replacement Tiger in 1912, played for the Philadephia Athletics on the final day of the 1916 season, and then helped conspire to fix the 1919 World Series. He then spilled the beans on the whole affair in 1920. A fringe player, to be sure, but an influential one too, in a really bad way.

Jesse:
It seems only appropriate for me to submit my vote for Dennis Mattingly, who passed away last month.

Mattingly founded the Anchorage Bucs of the Alaska Baseball League and served as the General Manager until the end of the 2011 season. The introduction of a second team in Anchorage met some resistance at first, but when all the dust settled it resulted in the forging of the league as we know it today. Under Mattingly’s leadership, the Bucs brought gave many future pros the opportunity to hone their skills, and put them in front of the scouts. Some of my favorite players who owe their success, in part, to Mattingly include Ike Davis, CJ Wilson, Jeff Kent, and Paul Goldschmidt. Mattingly was a blue-collar man who built the team from the ground up, and was never above any job — no matter how dirty — required to keep the team on the field. He passed away in January after battling with cancer for over a decade, but he left a huge legacy.

I wrote a couple of articles on Mattingly’s passing:
http://49thstatehardball.com/2012/01/words-of-support-for-dennis-mattingly.html

http://49thstatehardball.com/2012/01/dennis-mattingly-1948-2012.html

Bill Miller:
My favorite obscure player is OF Del Unser, formerly of the Mets and Phillies.  In 1975, the first year I was a full-time Mets fan, Unser was there lead-off hitter and starting centerfielder.  He was a poor man’s Freddy Lynn (who I was also a big fan of.)  Unser played well in center, and he had a swing with a little hitch in it that I tried to copy as a kid (I was about 12 at the time.)  My big thrill that summer was going to Shea Stadium with my family and getting to see Unser and the Mets play live.  As I recall (and who knows if this actually happened) Unser hit a single to leadoff the bottom of the first inning for the Mets.  And that’s about all I remember from the game.

Former big-leaguer Jack Perconte:
the one that comes to mind for me would be Gary Weiss – fellow Dodger rookie with me in 1980 and 1981 – you said it didn’t have to be someone liked or admired but Gary certainly was by all who knew him. I think the compelling thing was that he was young and probably had his better baseball days ahead of him, but he was able to up and retire after making the big leagues – satisfied with what he had accomplished and being able to easily move on with his life. As you know most players have a very difficult time when their career ends.

Published in: Uncategorized on February 17, 2012 at 7:06 am  Comments (3)  
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The Favorite Obscure Baseball Figure Project, Part Two

When the initial post on this subject went over the 5,000-word mark, I figured I’d better start a new post to handle all the input I was getting. The project is described in more depth in the predecessor post, but it’s about asking various baseball fans to pick their favorite obscure baseball figure from the past. As the word “figure” indicates, the person doesn’t have to be a player; it can be anyone employed within the game itself, by a team or by a league, including umpires, coaches, scouts, and front office personnel (but not the media).

The idea is that time and a focus on sabermetrics and efforts to determine who should be in the Hall of Fame have left many uniquely interesting and/or appealing retired/deceased baseball people by the wayside. So, I’m asking for help in bringing to light some old baseball people who are worth remembering.

If you’ve come by this post and have someone in mind, just put his name in the comments. I’m only asking for a name, but if you’ve already written something online about the person (it can be either a man or a woman, of course), I’ll link to that; and if you want to write a few sentences talking about your favorite obscure baseball figure, that would be fine. Most of the links go to the Wikipedia pages for the figures chosen. (I’ve also posed this question to people on the Baseball Fever website, and you can read that message board thread too.)

Here are some from people who responded to a posting on the Seamheads Facebook page:
Jacob Pomrenke:
Great idea, Arne. My pick would be John “Lefty” Sullivan – the popular strikeout king of Chicago’s semipro leagues in the 1920s. Blazing fastball and a great spitball; his only weakness was a heart condition that made him dizzy when he bent over to field a ball, so he was bunted out of the American League after 4 games with the 1919 White Sox. I interviewed his grandsons and wrote about him for the BioProject.

Stephen Keane:
Coco Laboy had an amazing rookie year with the Montreal Expos in their first ever season in 1969 hitting 18 HR and knocking in 83 runs. He never came close to a season like that in the next four seasons of his career. I also like the Mets announcer Bob Murphy used always tell fans how Coco got his nickname from his grandmother for his love of chocolate milk.

Joe Williams:
Boots Day. Love the name. My childhood best friend and I used to joke about him. “He is no Boots Day” we used to say. We discovered him via a Topps baseball card.

Rj Lesch
When I was a kid I liked Horacio Pina (because of his unusual pitching motion) and Dick McAuliffe (unusual batting stance).

Ron Pacak
Doug Ault, who was the first matinee idol of the Toronto Blue Jays. On Apr. 7, 1977 he swatted two home runs on a snowy afternoon at Exhibition Stadium. The Jays won their first ever game 9-5. After a good opening month, reality set in for both Ault and the Blue Jays, and the home runs became rarer, and the struggles with his swing had him finished as a major leaguer by 1980. He wound up with 17 career home runs. Later he became a coach and manager in the Blue Jays farm system. Much beloved by Jays fans for that glorious opening day, he would show up occasionally whenever the old timers were saluted. Tragically, Ault died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 2004 at the age of 54.

Steve Timberlake
Moose Stubing. 5 career ABs,, no hits, all pinch-hit appearances with the Angels in 1967. Managed in the PCL for years, wining the title with the Edmonton Trappers once. He’s now a scout, if Wikipedia can be believed. I remember him from the times he brought his teams into Hawai’i to play the Islanders in the early 1980s.

Sean Agranov
not necessarily rare but always liked red ruffings name and bump wills too. wonder what would possess someone to call their kid bump?

Tom Zocco
I was always a fan of Coot Veal.

Here are some from people I’ve emailed:

From Mike Lynch, who runs Seamheads: Smead Jolley, who spent only four years in the majors despite hitting .305 with a 112 OPS+ because he was one of the worst fielders in MLB history.  Jolley committed 44 errors in only 413 games; Andruw Jones has committed 48 in 1,926 games.  So you can see how bad he was, especially when compared to one of the best ever.  But the guy could hit: in 16 minor league seasons, Jolley batted .367 with a .584 SLG and racked up 3,043 hits, 640 doubles and 336 homers.  In 1928, he batted .404 with 52 doubles, 10 triples and 45 homers for San Francisco.  If there had been a DH back then, Jolley might have been one of the great sluggers of his era.  Instead he spent most of his career in the minors.

(Mike adds: “He’s not my favorite but from 1907-1921 Ed Konetchy accumulated 3,080 total bases.  Only Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker had more during that span, yet you never hear of Konetchy.  I thought I knew every significant ballplayer until I discovered Konetchy while writing my Black Sox book.  Somehow he landed in the minors after the ’21 season even though he was only 35 and had hit .299 with a career-high 11 home runs.  He hit .345 with 41 dingers for Ft. Worth in 1925 at the age of 39.”)

From Jim Margalus, formerly of Sox Machine, now writing at South Side Sox:
1 – Wilbur Wood, especially with the way Chuck Tanner rode him like a deadball-era pitcher in the ’70s.

2 – Warren Newson, who was probably born 10 years too late.

3 – Joe Horlen, who had the lowest ERA in the AL from 1963-1968. When you look at the ERA leaderboard from that time, he sticks out:

Sandy Koufax
Juan Marichal
Joe Horlen
Luis Tiant
Bob Gibson
Whitey Ford
Don Drysdale

Mario Lanza, Mariners fan:
Mike Schooler. Total representation of the Mariners in the late 80’s/early 90’s.

Erik Lundegaard:
The first one that comes to mind is Cesar Tovar, a utility player and leadoff hitter for that great late ’60s Twins team that would’ve gone to the World Series if not for that great, late ’60s Orioles team.

Ted Leavengood, managing editor at Seamheads:
Joe Cambria is a great curiosity figure.

Michael Clair, who runs Old Time Family Baseball:
There are just so many to choose from–I’m pretty fond of Kevin Rhomberg (I wrote a short piece about him here) and Toad Ramsey, but my personal favorite may be Dave ‘Lefty’ Brown. He was a Negro Leagues pitcher who was signed off of a chain gang, played for a few years, was accused of murder, and had to go on the lam. He ended up playing baseball across the country under a variety of aliases while the FBI searched for him and no one is really sure when he died. That’s an extremely truncated life story, but lot of the info I’ve found on Lefty is here if you’re interested.

Chris Donnelly, author of Baseball’s Greatest Series: Yankees, Mariners, and the 1995 Matchup That Changed History (read an interview about it, or buy the book):
Randy Velarde. All allegations aside, he endured through some of the worst Yankee clubs ever and was a major part of the team’s comeback in the mid 90s. He never put up big numbers with the Yankees, but you could always expect a good average, an occasional home run and pretty solid defense, whether it was at third, short, second, or somewhere in the outfield. He also hit Randy Johnson like no one else could. Just an all around solid player who nearly got the Yankees to the ALCS in 95.

Duane Harris, who runs the 90 feet of Perfection website:
My pick is Buck O’Neil. His place in Baseball history is forever solidified due to the following:

-1st Baseman of the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues.

-Manager of the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues.

-1st Black coach in MLB history as a member of the Chicago Cubs.

-A Scout for both the Cubs & Royals.

-A member of the Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee from 1981 to 2000 (played a role in inducting 6 Negro League players from 1995–2001 when the HOF previously had a policy of inducting 1 Negro League player per year)

-Helped get the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City up and rolling.

-His interview segments in Ken Burns’s Baseball documentary brought recognition of the Negro Leagues to another generation of Baseball fans who in most cases knew very little of the League and it’s stars. As a 13 year old when the documentary came out, he sparked interest in the Negro Leagues that I did not have before therefore setting a life long love affair with learning more….so in a way that’s a personal reason however I have read similar stories more than once like this.

O’Neil fell short of the HOF in 2006 unfortunately and I still have hope that he can make it posthumously. I have written/posted photos of Buck many times on my blog, but back in December I had a post dedicated to just O’Neil.

Paul Francis Sullivan of Sully Baseball:
RED OLDHAM!!!!

Jeff Polman, who has two retro baseball simulation experiments:
Mike De la Hoz.

Shawn Anderson, who runs the Hall of Very Good blog:
It’s Ross Grimsley. I sponsor his page on baseball-reference, use his likeness as my site’s logo (t-shirts are available) and will be dedicating a week in May to him. Did you know that May 16 is the 40th anniversary of his big league debut? I’ve already got some good support…trying to track down Grimsley himself for an interview.

Pat Lackey, who runs Pirates website Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke?:
Louis Bierbauer played for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1889 and defected to Brooklyn of the Player’s League in 1890. The Player’s League folded and the Athletics were supposed to retain his rights in 1891, but he signed with the Pittsburg Allegheneys instead. In the common parlance of the time, it was said that Pittsburg “pirated” Bierbauer from Philadelphia. Eventually, the name stuck.

Mark Sherrard, who runs the Cubs Billy Goat Blog:
Eddie Gaedel.

Steve Keane of The Eddie Kranepool Society and This Call To The Bullpen Podcast:
How about Effa Manley first female owner of a professional baseball team when she owned the Brooklyn/Newark Eagles of the Negro Leagues

(Another good name is John Montgomery Ward who played and managed in the late 1880’s and was voted in to the Hall of Fame went to Columbia Law School and started the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players the first pro sports union.)

Joe Tetrault, whose baseball site is Tetrault Vision:  
My favorite obscure baseball figure is not particularly obscure. No one with as striking a biography as he has can qualify. But he’s not famous. Moe Berg. The Catcher Was a Spy told his story of his duel life as a baseball player and military intelligence gatherer prior to the Second World War. His is just a damn fascinating story.

John Cappello, who runs the Baseball Engineer site:
I hope I don’t break any rules by giving you four names:
Oscar Gamble, because of his hair.

- Dave Cash, because he taught a young Phillies team how to win.

- Ken Brett, George’s brother, because it was fun seeing a pitcher hit that well.

- Willie Montanez, because of his entertaining catches of easy popups and fly balls (okay, coulda used some mustard, but still fun…).

Jason Rosenberg, who runs It’s About The Money:
Despite growing up a Yanks fan, I remember the guys they played, and the oddballs stick out.  Here are a few:

  • John Wockenfuss, because of that odd batting stance, name and facial hair
  • Chet Lemon, because of the batting stance, bat pointed high in the sky
  • Amos Otis, only because when I was just a few years old, I named my stuffed dog “Amos Otis”

Mark Ahrens, who runs Books on Baseball:
Ossie Bluege from the Washington Senators.

Jeff Engels, who runs Jeff’s Mariners Fan Blog:
My Grandfather Gordon “Dusty” Rhodes

Danny Tully:
Vada Pinson

Herman Gilman:
I grew up in Milwaukee during the golden era of the Milwaukee Braves and would like to submit the name of Billy Bruton, who played center field for 7 years alongside Henry Aaron. Aaron makes many mentions of Bruton in his book, “the Hammer”. Bruton was an instrumental player in the Braves success from 1956-59, when they came within a game or two of winning four straight National league pennants (Brooklyn barely beat them out in 1956 and the LA Dodgers won a playoff from them in 1959). Bruton was active in the local NAACP in Milwaukee during that time and was a big social influence on Aaron.

Another player from that era was a teammate of Frank Robinson on the Reds, an outfielder named Vada Pinson. I don’t believe Pinson is in the Hall of Fame, though he was a premier base stealer during that era and hit for high average. Pinson also later coached for many teams, including my now home town Seattle Mariners. Both these players began their careers in the last stages of the Negro Leagues and were part of the large influx of African-American players who played prominent roles on good National League baseball teams of the mid-1950’s to mid-1960’s era.

From freelance writer Kevin Glew, who runs the Cooperstowners in Canada blog:

My favorite obscure player would be James “Tip” O’Neill, who hails from Woodstock, Ontario. Here is a bio I wrote about him for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame:

“Tip” O’Neill honed his baseball skills in the ballroom of his parents’ hotel in Woodstock during his youth. After starring locally, nationally and internationally with barnstorming teams, the gifted youngster was signed by the American Association’s New York Metropolitans.

Sometimes dubbed Canada’s Babe Ruth, the talented Canadian made his major league debut as a pitcher on May 5, 1883. A formidable moundsman (his career ERA was 3.39), O’Neill was hampered by arm problems early in his career. Fortunately, his bat was potent enough to convince the St. Louis Browns to employ him in their outfield.

It was in the Gateway City that O’Neill would become major league baseball’s first Triple Crown winner in 1887. In that magical campaign, he set big league marks in hits, doubles, slugging percentage and total bases. His batting average was an astounding .492 (walks were included as hits that season, but even without the walks, his average was .435, the second highest in big league history). Largely due to his hitting heroics, the Browns would capture four consecutive American Association championships from 1885 to 1888.

When his playing days were over, he moved to Montreal where he helped secure an Eastern League franchise for the city. One of the greatest Canadians to play in the big leagues, O’Neill’s legacy lives on. The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame hands out the Tip O’Neill Award annually to the player judged to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution while adhering to baseball’s highest ideals.

Rob Nelson, former Portland Maverick and proprietor of Big League Chew:

Steve Collette He was the manager of the 1977 Beavers. A magical guy, brilliant manager; hugely talented. He died way too young. Without him, Big League Chew never would have happened. He had me as his pitching coach in 1977, when we had the idea for the gum. He was the reason the Mavs had a magical last season: we had the best winning percentage in baseball in 1977: 44-22. Several ball fields are named after him in and around Salem, where he was from.

[Collette was a member of Linfield College's 1966 national championship baseball team]

Former Jeopardy champion Rich Lerner, via Ted Leavengood’s Facebook page:

I have three – Julio Becquer, Jackie Reed and Chet Trail.
Julio Becquer was a back-up first baseman for the Senators in
the 50s. Family lore has it that I heard my brothers trying to
trade his baseball card so often that my first words were
“Julio Becquer.”

Jackie Reed was a defensive replacement for Mickey Mantle from
1961-63, getting 129 AB in 222 games. In 1962, he replaced
Mantle in a game that went 24 innings and at the time was (and
may still be) the longest game ever played (in minutes). Reed
ended the game with his only major-league home run.

Chet Trail is the only player that has been on a WS roster
that never played a game in the major leagues. A late-season
call-up by the Yanks in 1964 he never saw any action. With
Tony Kubek injured and unavailable for the World Series, the
Yankees needed someone to back up Bobby Richardson and Phil
Linz (Kubek’s replacement), so they included Trail on the
roster.

(more…)

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