The move by the St. Louis Rams back to Southern California for the 2016 NFL season-they might soon be accompanied by the Raiders or San Diego Chargers-reminds you that the last MLB franchise to change cities was the Montreal Expos moving to D.C. after the 2004 season. Which franchise will be the next to move? The Tampa Bay Rays and/or Oakland A’s seem most likely, with their older stadiums and stated desire to have taxpayers pay for new ones. It seems that in pro sports, once a franchise has moved once, it’s fairly likely to move again.
Hendu was, on an Oakland A’s team filled with star power from 1988 to 1992, perhaps the A’s player who most appealed to fans. If you remember those teams, you know why he was so popular. In ’88, his quadruple slash line was .304/.363/.525/.887, for a 149 OPS+, second-best on the team and not that far behind Jose Canseco. In ’88 Hendu set career bests for runs, hits, homers, RBIs, doubles, batting average, and slugging percentage. In the World Series that year, his .300 batting average (6 for 20) led A’s hitters who played in all 5 games. He was the only A with more than one extra-base hit off the Dodgers.
Hendu made a lot of good memories for Mariners, Red Sox, and A’s fans, but he ended his career playing 56 games for the Royals in 1994. Despite playing most of his career as a center fielder, he never stole more than 9 bases in a season. He nearly hit 3 homers in the post-Loma Prieta earthquake game 3 of the 1989 World Series, with a 1st-inning double that hit off the top of the Candlestick fence.
His most famous hit is the homer off Donnie Moore in the 1986 ALCS, but he then hit the go-ahead homer in the 10th inning of game 6 of the World Series vs. the Mets. In that Series, Hendu was 10-25 with 6 runs scored, 2 homers, 5 RBIs, and a .760 slugging percentage. He presumably was going to be the Series MVP if the Red Sox won game 6-or game 7. Those ’86 postseason feats are probably why he got two Hall of Fame votes on the 2000 ballot.
This post isn’t so much about memorializing Hendu-a lot of people did that in the days following his death just after Christmas-as it is about highlighting some of the notable stats from his career.
I found a profile of Robinson in the January 7, 1948 issue of the Sporting News, whose Furman Bisher caught up with Robinson at his farm in rural South Carolina. See the photo below; here is part of Bisher’s story:
“There was talk last summer that Robinson had put himself in the doghouse because of a tendency to sulk when Yogi Berra, a rookie rated a good hitting prospect, was given every consideration. That was a state of affairs that might have irked a more complacent citizen than Robinson, who no doubt was unable to forget that only a year earlier he had been acclaimed by many as the finest young catcher in the majors.”
After the World Series with Brooklyn, Robinson had a West Coast barnstorming trip with Bobo Newsom fall through, his father-in-law, in North Carolina, suffer a critical illness, the collapse of his car’s rear end upon arrival in the Carolinas, and the collapse of his kitchen stove. Bisher of the Sporting News met with Robinson around the turn of the year in the countryside outside Lancaster, South Carolina, where his family was living in an old farmhouse with no telephone. They were “building a new five-room home across the highway behind the schoolhouse Aaron attended as a youngster.” Bisher added that Robinson was “quite a fancier” of gamecocks, breeding and training them at his farm.
Robinson was said to be hoping for better things in 1948; a sidebar column by Dan Daniel touted his virtues over “usurper” Berra, especially Robinson’s performance in the World Series after Berra and Sherman Lollar allowed many Dodger steals in the first four games. “All of us in the press box like Robinson, and we hope that he will stay with the club for many years to come,” Daniel concluded.
Robinson did not stay with the Yankees; instead, Gus Niarhos and Berra were the two main Yankee catchers in 1948. He eventually died in Lancaster, S.C., in 1966. You can read more about him in Robinson’s SABR bio: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/1d8f2b79.
Kershaw, Hershiser, Drysdale, Koufax: those are probably the four best LA Dodger pitchers, albeit with a sidelong glance at Don Sutton, Fernando Valenzuela, Bob Welch, and Tommy John. The question here is: how do you rank Kershaw, Hershiser, Drysdale, and Koufax? If you put Koufax or Drysdale first (baseball-reference’s WAR stat puts Drysdale at #1, Koufax at #2), what would Kershaw have to do to take over the #1 spot?
Also, does Zack Greinke have a chance of elbowing his way into the Dodger pantheon-assuming he decides to resign with the team?
This is a followup to the last post: here, from Baseball-reference, is a screenshot of the American League leaders for four significant batting categories in 1912 (again, click the image for a larger version):
My question is: how many of these names do you recognize? About half of the names in each category are not familiar to me, the same number as for 1942. That’s surprisingly high, but Cobb, Jackson, Speaker, Collins, Hooper, and Baker are about as well known as the great players of the ’40s, and in 1912 MLB players weren’t being drafted into the military.
Here, from Baseball-reference, is a screenshot of the American League leaders for four significant batting categories in 1942 (click the image to get a bigger version):
My question is: how many of these names do you recognize? About half of the names in each category are not familiar to me, and that’s probably because 1942 was a war season.
Here are two slices of the Boston Record-American’s wrapup of the Red Sox’s regular season from the newspaper’s October 11, 1967 edition. This, a cartoon showing highlights from the end stages of the season:
This, from the brief bio of Carl Yastrzemski that was part of a 2-page section profiling the Sox’s players:
Notice that Yaz, despite being well established as a big league star by 1967, was still working in the offseason, at a local printing firm. He probably wasn’t manning the presses-more likely in sales or some other relationship-building role-but, he had three kids to feed, and before arbitration and free agency, salaries weren’t that high for a younger ballplayer.
Here are two photos of Ichiro and Frank Thomas in the batter’s box that I took in 2008. First Ichiro:
And the Big Hurt:
Notice Ichiro at the front of the box, back leg at mid-plate, his body torquing as he takes a pitch. Ichiro, in his stance and torquing motion, was set up for shifting his body toward first base as he hit the ball. Hence all of his infield hits. The tradeoff was that he didn’t put himself in a great position to drive and launch the ball. Frank Thomas was at the back of the box, body crouched, poised: ready not to run toward first but to put his full leverage into the swing.