For anyone that follows Major League Baseball

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KevinM

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I’ve always been a big baseball fan, loving the game since I was a youngster and having played it through high school. That amounts to about 57 years of watching some of the greatest players to ever play the game.

In all those years, I’ve never seen anything like Shohei Ohtani, who plays for the LA Angels. Until Ohtani, I (and many others) considered his teammate Mike Trout to be the league’s greatest all around player, and to me he still is as an everyday player that doesn’t pitch. But Ohtani is unlike any player the game has seen since Babe Ruth, because he is one of the games best hitters AND one of its best pitchers when healthy. If he continues to stay healthy, he could have the most amazing season in history.

He is the first player in American League history to have at least 30 home runs and 10 or more stolen bases at the All Star break, which is the halfway point in the season. He is one of the games greatest power hitters, one of the league‘s fastest runners, and every time he pitches he is capable of throwing a no-hitter with his 100 MPH fastball and untouchable sinker.

After my diagnosis I had lost interest in so many things I always enjoyed. But this year, after the horrors of COVID for the past year and a half, I’ve found a renewed joy in watching games this year and especially following this amazing young man. I Hope others here are enjoying this season as I am. Best, Kevin
 

EricInLA

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Well said, Kevin. I am a Dodgers fan so I don't watch much of the Angels or Ohtani, but I agree this guy is a unique player in our lifetime. We haven't seen anything like it, other than grainy footage of the Babe (who played in a segregated era and therefore is not as impressive, IMHO).

Quite a coincidence that you bring this up today, because I was just looking yesterday at the calendar of local sporting events, and I happened to notice that my 2nd favorite team (and my AL team), the Boston Red Sox, are heading into town to play the Angels this week. So, I've decided this gives me a great excuse to get out to Orange County and see the Sox and Ohtani to boot -- though Mike Trout is nursing an injury so we wont see him. I haven't been to the 'Big A' in about 10 years, so I'm due. And to bribe my kids to go with me (I know. . . you wouldn't think I'd need to bribe them. . . I don't know where I went wrong there), I've worked Disneyland into the plan, as it's practically across the street. So that's my Tuesday.

Happy 4th everyone. Don't get any ideas from Joey Chestnut - that won't end well.
 

rmt

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My husband and I are both huge baseball fans! He's a Dodgers fan and I'm a Red Sox fan (the World Series a few years ago was fun!). I agree that Ohtani is a once in a lifetime player! Truly amazing. I hope he can stay healthy because his career will be incredible. Though I hope he totally sucks when the Red Sox come to town! Go Red Sox!
 

jonico

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I'm liking this thread... As a near life-long Sox fan (5th grade - those were some painful years growing up in NY), it's fun to hear you guys on the west coast are fans, even if they're your second favorite team :-}. Living in upstate NY, the majority of my friends and family are Yankee fans so it's fun to feel a little love from afar. Lot's of us upstaters who love the Sox tend to have a second-favorite type of fondness for the Mets, so this is a rare good year in that respect.

And Kevin, even though I'd consider myself a pretty big fan of baseball, I've never really watched much of it during the regular season... for various reasons. Presently I have no cable and I hardly watch TV in general, so I had never heard of Ohtani (guess I'm not that big a baseball fan after all). That being said, I am going to go now and try to figure out which streaming service I might be able to jump on for a two week trial so I can watch the Angels and Sox Tuesday, and keep an eye out for Eric.

Thanks for the heads-up and an interesting off topic post...Jon
 
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KevinM

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Jon, I actually don’t watch too many regular season games from start to finish Either. I like to watch a few innings here and there, but I follow the highlights each day and of course the statistics. Baseball and stats go hand in hand more than any other sport, in my opinion.
 

Wilson2009

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Othani is simply amazing. Friday night versus the Orioles with the score tied in the bottom of the ninth, he walked, stole second when everyone in the ballpark knew he would be running (he actually stole it twice, but the first time was called back because of batter interference with the catcher), then scampered home on a single to right, just beating the tag for a walk-off. Barring injury, he is on track to be the greatest all-around player of his generation.

Not sure how old I was, but the outfield for the Red Sox for my first game at Fenway was Williams, Piersall, and Jensen. My dad always said both of us were born to suffer through each season waiting for the moment that breaks our hearts. Whether it was Enos Slaughter, Bucky Dent, Bill Buckner, or Aaron Boone, our fate was always 'wait till next year'. Until 2004 when the AL team from New York (I cannot say the Y word) collapsed and the Sox finally won the Series (if only Dad had been with me as I watched the final out). Since Dave Roberts stole second, the Red Sox have routinely exceeded our expectations to the point that a lot of fans now expect the Sox to be in the world series every year. Being more realistic, I just want to finish ahead of the AL team from New York every year. :ROFLMAO:
 

KevinM

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Dave, you even pre-date me! Jimmy Piersall was a sad story during his playing career with his bipolar disorder. There were just no treatments at the time. I’ll never forget the pictures of him homering and then running the bases backwards all the way around. I always liked the Red Sox as a kid because of Carl Yastrzemski and his Triple Crown year. I was 10 in 1967 and vividly remember rushing home from school with my buddies to watch as much of the ‘67 Series against the Cardinals as we could (for you younger folks, the Series was played in the afternoon back then). Again, so close but no cigar for the Sox.

And the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams, a man whose sole focus was to be the greatest hitter of all time. I would certainly put him in the top two or three. Imagine his career stats if he didn’t lose a couple of years in his prime serving so honorably in the Korean War. Hell, the man hit .388 at the age of 40! And talk about a storybook end to his career—hitting a homer into the right field bullpen in his last at bat. Stayed true to form and didn’t tip his cap, though.

I actually shook Ted’s hand as a 12 year old in 1969. My Dad was in the Army and was stationed at the Pentagon from 1966-69, when I lIved and breathed baseball. My team was the woeful Senators, and of course my hero was the gentle giant, Frank Howard. Williams had been coerced out of retirement fishing for tarpon in the Keys, and had just taken the job as manager. Dad took me to a bunch of games that April and May, and we liked to show up early to watch BP. Williams came over where me and some other kids had gathered, and he took the time to chat with us and shook our hands. One of my greatest thrills.

Speaking of Howard, I’ve seen many of the games great sluggers in person over the years and seen many tape measure homers, but never in my lifetime have I seen someone hit the ball as hard or as far as Howard. He didn’t have an uppercut like Killebrew or most all the sluggers today, and his blasts usually started as ferocious line drives that kept climbing and climbing. I swear they would still be going today if they hadn’t crashed into the upper deck seats at RFK stadium.

They painted the seats white where some of his more memorable shots landed. When Washington finally got another team in 2005-6, some of the young players asked about the seats and when they were told why they were painted they thought it was a joke, because no one could hit a baseball that far. Even the Mick himself (Mantle), no stranger to legendary, monstrous clouts, said Howard hit the ball harder and further than anybody.

Mantle liked to tell the story of the 1963 Series between the Yankees and Dodgers, where Howard started his career. Whitey Ford was pitching, and Howard hit one of his ridiculous line drives. Mantle said it started out so low that the slightly built Ford actually jumped to try and catch it, but it ended up 470+ feet away in dead center. Mantle said if Ford had actually gotten a glove on the ball it would have carried him over the fence with it.

Thank you for the trip down memory lane, Dave. They come flooding back with threads like this. I’d love to hear from some others about their favorite baseball stories. Kevin
 

Wilson2009

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We had season tickets to the night games during the 1960 campaign. I was thus one of the fortunate who was able to see several games during Ted's last year. 1960 was a terrible year, starting with the trade of Sammy White and ending with a 7th place finish. However, watching Ted return to form with 29 home runs and a 316 batting average was pure joy for me. I got to see him make two spectacular plays with balls hit off the tin that cut down runners at 2nd base. He also stole a base during one game, which I think was the final straw for Billy Jurgens as the manager. Who sends a 41-year-old at a meaningless point of a game.

Now for my two favorite Williams stories. When he returned from the Korean war where he flew a John Glenn's wingman, he complained that home plate was out of alignment during his first couple of at-bats. To humor him, Joe Cronin had the plate's alignment checked and sure enough, it was out of alignment by a ridiculously small amount.

The other I witnessed. During one of the games in 1960, a gentleman sitting one row in front of me and my dad was riding Ted unmercifully during the game both at bat and in the field. Ted heard him and during his next at-bat hit at least 6 foul balls with uncanny accuracy into the section we were sitting in. And this is why I proudly say he was the greatest hitter who ever played the game.
 

EricInLA

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Those are fantastic stories. I had forgotten (or didn't know) that Ted Williams hit .388 at the age of 40. That's ridiculous. Growing up a Dodger fan in the late 70s, it seemed the Dodgers were always playing the Yankees in the World Series. Naturally, this led to my dislike of the Yankees. Then I found out the Yankees and Red Sox had a bitter rivalry, and just like that I became a fan of the Boston Red Sox! I spent the summer of '86 in northern Massachusetts and had occasion to go to a few games at Fenway, and thought that was coolest ballpark ever. That sort of solidified my affection for the Red Sox.

I have a goofy baseball story from just last week, though not as good as the ones above. We did a quick weekend trip to San Diego to take my niece to Sea World. We were staying in a hotel connected to the San Diego Padres home field, Petco Park. The Padres were hosting Arizona, but we didn't plan on going to a game because that wasn't the point of the trip. We had dinner reservations with our extended family. By the time dinner was over (about 9:00), the game was only in the 4th inning! So my immediate family of 5 decided we would buy cheap tickets and walk into the park. We did exactly that, arriving in the top of the 5th. The fans seemed to be in a frenzy, and the score was already something like 8 to 5. Turns out, Francisco Tatis Jr. had already been up 3 times, and had hit it out all 3 times, all in the first 4 innings! We arrive in the 5th. Oh well. We did see him get another hit and then score. The Padres won, 11 to 5.
 

swalker

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Kevin, I see we both suffered through watching the Senators!

My father was in the Air Force, and was assigned to the Pentagon in the late 60s. We moved there in 1968 (when I was 11) and were there for 5 years. I don't follow baseball very closely now, but did when we lived there. There sure was not much to cheer about during those days.

The only professional baseball game I ever attended was to watch the senators. It was an abysmal performance! They lost badly. Their play was close to unwatchable. I still had a good time, though.

Steve
 

KevinM

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This is so great! Keep the stories coming, my friends! Steve, it never mattered to me whether the Senators won or lost, because me and my friends loved going to the games for one reason: Frank Howard. He was in his prime from 1967-1970, and when he connected it was beyond awe inspiring. I think he still holds the record for most home runs in six straight games when he hit 10 in May 1968. Others have had longer consecutive game homer streaks, but his record still stands for six games.

Usually the outfielders never moved a muscle after he launched one, since there was never a doubt. In one game I saw against the Red Sox he hit two monsters and Yaz never even looked up or moved one inch from his crouch. And don’t forget, for that magical season in 1969 when Williams was manager they actually went 86-76 and finished fourth. That was as good as it got.

Dave, I loved the Williams stories, and you were a first hand witness as a kid. That’s about the coolest thing ever. I have always loved stories about Teddy Ballgame, so here are a couple more that I read about.

As your story about home plate being misaligned by a fraction indicates, Williams’ eyesight and knowledge of the strike zone were beyond legendary (20/10 vision). Umpires, especially later in his career, had so much respect for his awareness of balls and strikes that they rarely called a strike if Williams didn’t offer at it. In fact, they would often ask him if was a strike!

The other story that tickles me, if for no other reason than Ted’s desire for self preservation, was about his one encounter with Steve Dalkowski. I don’t know if anyone here has ever heard of Dalkowski, but a number of old timers that saw him pitch consider him to be one of, if not the hardest thrower the game has seen. Even faster than Aroldis Chapman. Whatever his speed (some claim it approached 110 mph) his fastball was well above 100.

If you saw the movie Bull Durham, the Tim Robbins character of “Nuke“ Laloosh was loosely based on Dalkowski. The reason you might not have heard of him (he died from COVID last year) was because he never made it to the major leagues due to alcoholism and because he could never get enough control of that insane fastball. He was a 5’11” stocky lefty with poor eyesight (he wore thick horn rimmed glasses) that spent his entire career with the Orioles minor league clubs.

He struck out more batters and walked more batters per nine innings than any pitcher in professional baseball history. In 1960, he struck out 262 batters and walked 262 batters. In an extra inning game, he struck out 27 and walked 16. He tried everything to harness his fastball, but it had so much upward movement that he would start it below the batters knees and it would be over their head when it reached the plate. As such, most hitters lived in abject fear when they faced him, and many would mysteriously get sick when his turn in the rotation came up.

Williams and Dalkowski faced each other one time, in the Spring of 1956. Dalkowski was 18 years old.

This is from an article about the moment:
“ Before a Spring Training game in 1956, Williams was watching Dalkowski, then with the O's, pitch from behind the batting cage. He decided to try his luck against the 18-year-old and stepped up to the plate. Dalko delivered a fastball and, well, let's just go to the Sports Illustrated article from 1970 for more:
"The catcher held the ball for a few seconds a few inches under Williams' chin. Williams looked back at it, then at Dalkowski, squinting at him from the mound, and then he dropped his bat and stepped out of the cage ... [Williams] told [reporters] he had not seen the pitch, that Steve Dalkowski was the fastest pitcher he ever faced and that he would be damned if he would ever face him again if he could help it."

Here is a link to the legend of Steve Dalkowski:
 
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KevinM

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I just wanted to say yippee! The home run derby is back, baby. Tonight should be interesting at Coors Field. Pasta for dinner, then a cold beer for the derby. Put my woes aside for the night, and see how far Ohtani, Gallo, Alonzo, and Story can launch one.
 
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KevinM

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Ok, color me a little disappointed In the derby, and here is my little (real little) rant for my fellow forum baseball fans. This post is also evidence that I have way too much idle time on my hands.

It had nothing to do with the great players on display, and everything to do with the format and the fact that it was held in daylight. I completely understand that an All Star game out west must start the derby and the game while it’s still bright sunshine to fit in the 8:00 pm Eastern time zone, but on tv you couldn’t even see most of the home runs. Probably amazing in person, but poor tv viewing.

My other disappointment is with the format. For me, a major part of the fun was watching the blasts from start to finish, and being amazed when a monster homer occurred that they would replay in the evening darkness.

With the fairly recent format based on a clock instead of “outs,” the pitcher is throwing as many as he can and the hitters are swinging as fast as they can, so the camera can’t even follow the flight of one before another one is hit. And the first round wipes most of the hitters out, so by the second and third round they are usually running on empty. Less long balls, less crowd enthusiasm, etc., at least until the final showdown.

I guess there is no ideal format, since the earlier Derby’s based on three outs would sometimes last forever, and some real good participants that couldn’t get in an early groove would be embarrassingly eliminated with zero or one homer. I have my ideas about how to do it better, but my time isn’t so idle that I want to go into even more excruciating detail!

Ok, enough...Kevin
 
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