Sunday, April 19, 2015

Why Don't The San Diego Padres Wear That Number Anymore?

Every team in the league has its own legends.  Some legends tower over the history of the game.  Some tower over a certain portion of the history.  Some define an organization and are the first thought anyone has when the team is mentioned.

Each team finds a way to honor their legends, usually with the retirement of the player's number.  For the fans of that team it is easy to sit in the stadium seats, look out on the display of retired numbers and feel pride in the part that number represents to their team's history.  Unfortunately, fans of the visiting team stopping  by to see a game may not know the meaning of those numbers.

So during this series we will explore what the retired numbers for each team mean and why they were retired.

This week we will look at the San Diego Padres.


Jerry Coleman started his career in baseball as a Rookie of the Year in 1949 for the World Series Champion Yankees.  His road to the majors had been slowed slightly by World War II,  where he served in the military.  Coleman would play a total of nine years, all with the Yankees, and was a member of six World Series teams. After retirement Coleman broadcast games for the Yankees, CBS and the Angels.  His association with the Padres started in 1972.  He broadcast for the Padres consistently from 1972 through 2013, although he did take over as manager during the 1980 season.  Despite never playing a game for the Padres Coleman was elected into the Padres Hall of Fame in 2001.  There is a statue in Coleman's honor at Petco Park.  He passed away this past winter.

Ray Kroc bought the Padres organization in 1974.  He was already well known as the genius behind McDonald's restaurants.  Before Kroc's ownership the team had never finished higher than 6th in a 6 team division.  Following Kroc's purchase of the team they slowly (very slowly) started to turn things around.  To be fair, during the first few years of his ownership they were playing in the same division as the Big Red Machine and the Dodgers of Garvey, Lopes, Cey and Russell.  Kroc eventually built the team into a contender.  He passed away in January of 1984.  The Padres won their first ever Division and National League title that same year.

Steve Garvey is better known for his time with the Dodgers as an 8 time All Star, MVP winner and the face of the Dodgers of the 1970's.  In 1983 Garvey joined the Padres organization where he would play a total of five years. Garvey's arrival in San Diego coincided with the improvement of the team's young players like Eric Show, Craig Lefferts and Tony Gwynn.  Garvey's signature moment as a Padre came in Game 4 of the 1984 NLCS against the Cubs.  With the game tied in the bottom of the 9th and the Cubs one win away from  advancing to the World Series, Garvey launched a 2 run Home Run to send the series to a deciding 5th game.  Garvey would win the NLCS MVP.  Following Garvey's departure only Keith Moreland wore the number 6 for San Diego before Garvey's number was retired.  Despite having his number retired Garvey does not appear in the top 10 of any major offensive category of the Padres' history.

This should speak for itself.  #19 was Mr. Padre, Tony Gwynn.  Gwynn leads the team's all time stats in WAR, Offensive WAR, Batting Average, Games Played, At Bats, Plate Appearances, Runs, Hits, RBI, Total Bases, Doubles, Triples, Walks, Stolen Bases, Singles, Extra Base Hits, Times on Base, Sac Flies and Intentional Walks.  Gwynn made 15 All Star Games, received MVP votes 12 times, won 7 Silver Slugger Awards and 5 Gold Gloves.  He also won 8 batting titles, hit over .300 every season except his first year when he played in only 54 games (he hit .289).  Seven times he hit above .350 for the year and twice (1987 and 1994) he was a serious threat to hit .400 for the year.  Gwynn was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.  Gwynn was a part of the only two World Series teams in Padres history.  No player was issued the number 19 for the Padres between the time Gwynn retired and the retirement of the number.  

Dave Winfield played for the Padres from 1973 through 1980 before leaving for the Yankees as a free agent.  In the days before Tony Gwynn, Winfield was the closest thing the Padres had to a Mr. Padre.  With the Padres Winfield was a three time All Star, Gold Glove winner and twice received MVP votes finishing 3rd in 1979 behind Keith Hernandez and Willie Stargell.  After leaving the Padres Winfield would go on to play with the Yankees, Angels, Blue Jays, Indians and his home town Twins.  At the end of his career he had collected over 3000 hits and over 500 Home Runs.  Winfield still ranks high in many Padres categories: WAR (2nd), Offensive WAR (2nd), Average (10th), Slugging % (7th), OPS (8th), Games (3rd), At Bats (3rd), Plate Appearances (3rd), Runs (2nd), Hits (3rd), Total Bases (2nd), Doubles (5th), Triples (3rd), Home Runs (4th), RBI (2nd), Walks (4th), Stolen Bases (7th), Singles (4th), Extra Base Hits (2nd), Times on Base (2nd), Sac Flies (2nd), Intentional Walks (3rd).  Winfield was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2001.  Following Winfield's departure seven players wore the number 31 for the Padres (LaMarr Hoyt, Ed Whitson, Dave Staton, Bill Beane, Bob Tewksbury, Trey Beamon and Matt Clement).

Randy Jones spent 8 years as a Padre.  He finished his Padre career with a 92-105 record.  In 1972, his first full season with the Padres, Jones finished with an 8-22 record.  The following year he went 20-12 and followed that up with a 22-14 season.  In both of those 20 win seasons he finished high in the Cy Young voting (2nd in 1975 and 1st in 1976).  Jones was often referred to as a "junk ball" pitcher (his nickname was Junk Man) but he was one of the few pitchers that Pete Rose hated to see on the mound.  Jones ranks high in many of the Padres' all time pitching categories:  WAR (4th), ERA (8th), Wins (2nd), WHIP (7th), Walks per 9 inings (1st), Innings (1st), Strikeouts (8th), Starts (1st ) Complete Games (1st), Shutouts (1st), and Losses (1st).  The Padres retired his number on 5/9/1997.  Six players wore the number 35 for the Padres between Jones' retirement and when the number was honored (Luis DeLeon, Chris Brown, Walt Terrell, Rafael Valdez, Al Osuna and Jason Thompson).

During the Padres' only consistently competitive period of their history Trevor Hoffman was the team's closer.  When opposing batters heard Hell's Bells chiming over the stadium speakers , they knew for whom the bells were tolling.  From 1993 through 2008 Hoffman was consistently one of the best relief pitchers in the game.  Hoffman saved a total of 601 games in his career.  Hoffman's name is very prominent in the Padres record books: WAR for Pitchers (1st), ERA (1st ), Wins (10th), WHIP (1st), Walks per 9 IP (6th), K per 9 IP (1st), Games (1st), Saves (1st), Innings (9th) K's (3rd) and Losses (7th), Following Hoffman's departure no player was issued the #51.

The league retired the number 42 permanently for all teams in 1997.  In total there were 13 players who wore the number 42 for the Padres.  The final was Pedro Martinez from 1993-1994.  It is not the Pedro Martinez pitcher of Red Sox fame but a pitcher who spent just two years with the Padres as a relief pitcher.  The other players to wear 42 for the Padres were: Billy McCool (1969) , Earl Wilson (1970), Dick Kelley (1971), Ron Taylor (1972), Al Severinson (1972), Bob Miller (1973), Frank Snook (1973), Jerry Turner (1974-1976), Mark Lee (1978-1979), George Staberlein (1980), Sid Monge (1983-1984), Greg Harris (1984) and Rich Rodriguez (1990-1993).

Trevor Hoffman is second all time in Major League Baseball history with 601.  Although their numbers are not retired by the Padres, there are two Hall of Fame Relief Pitchers in the top 25 all time for saves, both of whom spent time in a Padres uniform.  Who are these two players?

Answer to Last Week's Trivia Question:
The Pacific Coast League started in 1887 and consisted of four teams:  Oakland (no team name), San Francisco (no team name), San Francisco A & G's and San Francisco Damianas.

The Pacific Coast League disappeared from 1887 to 1898.  It returned for the 1898 season consisting of 8 teams: Fresno/Watsonville (bizarre pairing conisdering the distance between the cities), Oakland Reliance, Sacramento Giltedges, San Francisco (no team name), San Franciso Athletics, San Jose (no team name), Santa Cruz (no team name) and Stockton,

The league disappeared again until returning in 1903 (the year of the first World Series).  Every year since then the Pacific Coast League has operated at various levels of the minor league.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

I Didn't Know He Played For: Hollywood Stars

The city of Hollywood is known world wide for many things.  There is the famous Hollywood sign, of course. The Sunset Strip.  The Miracle Mile.  Paramount Studios.  The Walk of Fame.  The LaBrea Tar Pits.  It has the streets where Lucille Ball, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Rudolph Valentino walked.  It has the bars that launched the careers of The Doors, Van Halen, Motley Crue and Guns N Roses.

One of the lost traditions of the Hollywood area is the legacy of the Hollywood Stars.  From 1926-1957 (with the exception of 1936 and 1937) the city of Hollywood had a team in the Pacific Coast League.  In 1958, when the Dodgers arrived in town, the Hollywood Stars closed up shop.

Of course those in the Los Angeles/Hollywood area know the legendary Dodgers who came through town. The names like Koufax, Drysdale, Hershiser, Garvey, Cey, Lopes, Valenzuela and Gibson will never be forgotten.  What has been forgotten are the days when the Hollywood Stars played at Gilmore Field (now the site of The Grove at 3rd and Fairfax.  There is a small display at the Farmer's Market entrance honoring the history of Gilmore Field).  So although you may know the Dodgers who came through town, here are a list of other players who came through town as part of the Hollywood Stars  (and don't miss the other teams in this series and learn about players you may not know played for  ReadingOrioles,  Red SoxYankeesBlue Jays and Rays):

Braggo Roth:

Braggo Roth would play 8 years in the Major Leagues, mostly with Cleveland.  He never played in a World Series game but he seemed to have a knack for just missing the action.  In fact he was moved around so much his nickname became the "Globetrotter".  He played for the White Sox in 1914 and 1915.  In 1915 he was traded to the Cleveland Indians and in return the White Sox received Shoeless Joe Jackson.  Two years later the White Sox were World Champions.  He played for the Indians through 1918.  In March 1919 he was sent to Philadelphia in exchange for Larry Gardner, Charlie Jamieson and Elmer Myer.  While Roth suffered in the depths of the A's dark years, the three players that went to Cleveland helped the Tribe win their first ever World Series.  He wouldn't spend long in Philadelphia and would be sent to Boston half way through 1919.  Unfortunately for Roth, the Red Sox were on the decline as most of their stars (including Babe Ruth and Carl Mays) had been sent to the Yankees. From the Red Sox he was sent to the Senators and then sent to the Yankees for 1920.  He left the Yankees after the 1920 season.  Had he made the team one more year he would have made his first ever World Series, at the same time the Yankees made their first.  Roth was out of baseball as a player for 1921 and 1922 before returning to the minor leagues for 1923.  His final professional ball was played with the 1928 Hollywood Stars.  In 67 games he hit .283 with 1 Home Run.

Emil Yde:
Emil Yde had a brief but sometimes spectacular Major League career.  He started with the Pirates in 1924 and went 16-3.  It was a great personal season in the midst of a tough season for the Pirates.  His 1925 Pirates season was strong (17-9, 4.13) and although his ERA was high his win total helped the Pirates reach their first World Series since 1909.  Yde made one appearance in the Fall Classic that year.  He started Game 4 and allowed 5 hits and 4 runs in 2 1/3 innings for a Series ERA of 11.57.  The Pirates would win the Series but Yde was never effective again.  In what was a disaster of a season in 1926 Yde struggled (8-7, 3.65) while the team imploded in the middle of the ABC affair.  Yde would play part of 1927 for the Pirates but would again be ineffective.  1929 saw him drop to Indianapolis in AAA before resurfacing  with the Tigers for one average season (7-3, 5.30).  Trying to hang on to the baseball life for another shot at the big time, Yde landed in Hollywood.  He spent three years in Hollywood with the best year being 1932 with a 17-9 record and 3.94 ERA.

Bob Meusel:

The name Bob Meusel has become forgotten and unfairly so.  The first extended run of Yankee American League dominance was not possible without Bob.  Meusel was the Lou Gehrig of the Yankee lineup before Lou Gehrig.  Joining the Yankees in 1920, he was the first power hitter to join Babe Ruth in the Yankee lineup.  The two formed a powerful duo until Gehrig came along and then the three of them formed a powerful trio.  Ruth batted third, Gehrig fourth and Meusel fifth.  Between 1920, when Meusel joined the Yankees and 1930 when he left,  the Yankees won six American League titles and three World Series titles.  In the infamous 1927 Murderer's Row lineup Meusel hit 5th, wearing the #5 before DiMaggio came along.  Like Yde, Meusel tried to cling to the professional baseball life after the majors.  He found himself in Minneapolis in 1931.  In 1932, Yde's final year in Hollywood, Meusel played there as well.  In 64 games he hit .329 but at the end of the year, at age 36, Meusel walked away for good.

Bobby Doerr:

Bobby Doerr was born and raised in Los Angeles attending Fremont High School, located on San Pedro Street in what would now be considered South Central Los Angeles.  Doerr would be a part of the successful Red Sox group of the 1940's and 1950's that included Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky but before he made it to the majors he played for his local minor league team the Hollwood Stars.  Doerr played the 1934 and 1935 seasons in Hollywood before being acquired by the San Diego Padres, at that time a minor league affiliate for the Red Sox.  Following one year in San Diego Doerr was on to a Hall of Fame career in Boston.

Willard Hershberger:
Willard Hersberger had a short but tragic career.  The minor league career for Willard was much longer than his Major League career.  He moved through El Paso, Springfield, Erie, Newark and Binghamton before landing in Hollywood in 1934 (along with Doerr).  He hit .307 in 114 games that year before continuing on in the minors to Oakland and then Newark.  In 1938 he finally made the Major Leagues with the Cincinnati Reds.  According to Billy Werber, the Reds third baseman and sometime room mate of Hershberger.  "he was a hypochondriac and asked Dr. Richard Rhode, the Reds trainer, to check him out almost every day."  Hershberger was the backup Catcher for the Reds but was most effective as a Pinch Hitter in the Reds championship seasons of 1939 and 1940.  In August 1940 Hershberger got a chance behind the plate when Reds' star Ernie Lombardi injured an akle.  Unfortunately that chance coincided with a losing streak and Hershberger assumed that he was the cause.  "I called the wrong pitches.  If Lom had been in there we wouldn't have lost.  I've let the team down." Werber says Hershberger told him.  The next day Hershberger commited suicide.

Rod DeDeaux:

Raoul Marshall "Rod" Dedoux played a total of 2 games in the Major Leagues for the 1935 Brooklyn Dodgers, during the era the Brooklyn team's poor play gave them the name of the "Daffiness Boys".  He was born in New Orleans in 1914 but the family moved to California and Rod attended Hollywood High School. After his two games with Brooklyn he was sent back to the minors where he bounced around for a few years.  His final stop was in his home town of Hollywood where he played all of 30 games and hit .165.  Dedeaux's impact on baseball came not as a player but as a coach.  He ran the USC baseball program until 1986 during which time he won more games than any collegiate coach and managed two US Olympic teams, including the 1984 games in Los Angeles.  His program also produced some of the biggest names in baseball including Fred Lynn, Mark McGwire and Randy Johnson.

Charlie Root:

Charlie Root is mostly remembered as the man who gave up the "called shot" to Babe Ruth.  Root was actually a very good pitcher for the Cubs from 1926-1941.  Over his 17 year Major League career Root won 201 games and appeared in four World Series for the Cubs.  Following his departure from the Cubs in 1941 Root spent three seasons with the Hollywood Stars.  His best year was 1943 when he went 15-5 with a 3.09 ERA.

Rip Russeell:
Rip Russell would not have a tremendously long Major League career but he would play on one iconic team:  the 1946 Red Sox.  He spent the first four years of his career with the Cubs before being returned to the minor league Los Angeles Angels.  In 1946 Russell resurfaced with the Red Sox and played 80 games for the eventual American League champions.  He would get two plate appearances in the World Series against the Cardinals and would get a base hit in both giving him a 1.000 career post season  average.  Russell would play part of 1947 with the Sox before returning to Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League.  He would play 114 games of the 1948 season in Hollywood and would finish his professional career in 1949 with the Toledo Mud Hens.

Mel Queen:

Mel Queen came to the Yankees as a highly touted pitching prospect in 1942.  After a few unsuccessful years with New York he was sold to the Pirates where he continued to disappoint based on the high expectations placed on him.  He would finish his career in the major leagues with a 27-40 record before being sent to the Hollywood Stars, by that time a minor league affiliate for the Pirates. In 1952, his first year with the Stars, he went 14-9 and would also have a 16-8 season for Hollywood but his success in the minors could never be translated into Major League success, baffling the experts.  In all he spent four years in Hollywood.

Bill Mazeroski:
Bill Mazeroski was a 7 time All Star, 7 time Gold Glove winner, eventual Hall of Famer and hit one of the most famous Home Runs of all time.  Before all that he was a Hollywood Star.  Mazeroski played part of the 1955 and part of the 1956 season in Hollywood.  His minor league career was short since his talent was obvious and talent in Pittsburgh, at the time, was missing.

Al Zarilla:
Al Zarilla was never the star of a team.  He was never the driving force on a pennant winner.  He was never someone that changed the way an opposing team approached the game.  He was a very good player similar to a modern day Mark Ellis, Jamey Carroll or Nick Punto.  He would play 10 years in the Major Leagues, mostly with the St.Louis Browns and was a member of the only Browns World Series team.  His big league career ended in 1953 but he hung  on in the minors for a few years after.  He made a quick stop in Hollywood in 1955 trying to catch on with the Pirates but a .111 average did nothing to get him back to the big leagues.

Gene Freese:
Gene Freese was sort of a journeyman ballplayer.  He made stops with the Pirates, Cardinals, Phillies and White Sox before landing with the Reds where he made his biggest impact. The 1961 Reds were the first Cincinatti NL Champs since 1940 and Freese was a major part of that.  Freese had a 12 year career in the majors but was never really able to stick with one team.  Early in his career while trying to stick with the Pirates he made a stop in Hollywood.  In 68 games there he hit only  .274 but hit 11 Home Runs and drove in 36.  It was enough to get him called up to the Pirates.

The Pacific Coast League started play in 1887.  The league disappeared and returned in 1898 for one season.  What year did the Pacific Coast League establish themselves as an annual league?

Answer to Last Week's Question:
There are very few teams in the league who have never reached the World Series.  Even teams like the Padres, Brewers and Rockies who are often overlooked for their success have reached the World Series at least once in their history.

The Montreal Expos joined the National League in 1969, the same year as the San Diego Padres.  The Expos reached the post season in 1981 when they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS and came very close to playoff berths several other years as well.  Unfortunately, following the 1994 strike the Expos experienced a steady decline.  Eventually they moved to Washington and became the Nationals.  The Nationals reached the NLDS in 2012 but failed to advance.  They reached the playoffs again in 2014 but lost to the Giants in the NLDS.

The Seattle Mariners joined the American League in 1977.  From their entrance in the league until 1994 the team was the joke of the league.  In 1995 the team made a miraculous comeback while the Angels collapsed and the Mariners made their first post season appearance.  After beating the Yankees in one of the greatest post season series of all time the M's lost to the Indians in the ALCS.

The Mariners reached the ALDS in 1997 but were beaten by a strong Orioles team.  They would reach the ALCS in 2000 and 2001 but lost to the Yankees both seasons.  The Mariners have not reached the post season since 2001.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

2015 Final Predictions

***The Season Preview and Predictions that follow are not betting advice in any way shape or form.  Please do not bet any money based in any part on these predictions.***

This looks like it will be another great season.  This could be one of the most competitive seasons in years and there are few teams who look like they have no chance at all to make the playoffs.  So get ready because it is a long, fun trip to October.  I hope everyone enjoys the ride as much as I will.

Head of the Class: 
The Giants, Cardinals and Dodgers look to remain at the top of the league while the Nationals seem to be on the verge of joining them.

The Red Sox and Tigers remain the favorites in the AL.

Look Out Below:
The Phillies, Braves and Reds have unloaded and seem to be falling to the bottom of the NL.

The A's, Royals and Angels look like they may suffer major setbacks after playoff runs in 2014.

Ready to Strike?:
The Cubs, Padres and Marlins are sparking excitement with young talent and big offseason pick ups.  The Mets also want to join in the October conversation.

The Mariners and Blue Jays want to make their first post season appearances in over a decade each.  The White Sox want to take advantage of an aging and injured Tiger team.

Rock Bottom:
The Rockies, Brewers and Phillies are definitely at the bottom.  Each will likely be unloading talent as the season progresses.

The Astros, Rangers, Rays and Indians look to be the worst in the AL although depending on how things play out the Yankees could join them.

Here is a final prediction of what I believe the standings will look like at the end of the year:
American League East
1. Toronto Blue Jays
2. Boston Red Sox (Wild Card)
3. Baltimore Orioles (Wild Card)
4 New York Yankees
5. Tampa Bay Rays

American League Central
1. Detroit Tigers
2. Chicago White Sox
3. Kansas City Royals
4. Minnesota Twins
5. Cleveland Indians

 American League West
1. Seattle Mariners
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
3. Oakland Athletics
4. Texas Rangers
5. Houston Astros

Wild Card Game:
Boston Red Sox over Baltimore Orioles
American League Divisional Series: 
Boston Red Sox over Detroit Tigers
Toronto Blue Jays over Seattle Mariners
American League Championship Series:
Toronto Blue Jays over Boston Red Sox

American League Most Valuable Player: Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles
American League Cy Young Award Winner: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

1. Washington Nationals
2. Miami Marlins
3. New York Mets
4. Atlanta Braves
5. Philadelphia Phillies

1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Pittsburgh Pirates
3. Chicago Cubs
4. Cincinnati Reds
5. Milwaukee Brewers

1. San Francisco Giants
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (Wild Card)
3. San Diego Padres (Wild Card)
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
5. Colorado Rockies

National League Wild Card Game: 
Los Angeles Dodgers over San Diego Padres
National League Division Series:
St. Louis Cardinals over San Francisco Giants
Washington Nationals over Los Angeles Dodgers
National League Championship Series: 
Washington Nationals over San Francisco Giants

National League Most Valuable Player:  Andrew McCutcheon, Pittsburgh Pirates
National League Cy Young Award Winner:  Steven Strasburg, Washington Nationals

Washington Nationals over Toronto Blue Jays

If correct, this year's prediction would mean that the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos franchise would be appearing in their first ever World Series.  How many teams in the league have never reached the World Series?

Answer to Last Week's Question:
Mike Trout won the 2014 MVP.

In 1969, the year the league went to a divisional format, Harmon Killebrew of the Twins won the MVP, helping lead the Twins to the ALCS.

From 1971 through 1974 the AL West won every MVP (1971, Vida Blue A's, 1972, Dick Allen, White Sox, 1973, Reggie Jackson, A's and 1974 Jeff Burroughs, Rangers).  In 1977 Rod Carew won the MVP for the Twins.

Don Baylor led the Angels to the ALCS in 1979 and won the MVP and he was followed by the Royals' George Brett in 1980.

The East dominated the award until Jose Canseco's 40/40 season of 1988 and Rickey Henderson's 1990 season.  Dennis Eckersley made it three A's MVP's when he won the 1992 MVP and Cy Young.
Frank Thomas won the 1993 MVP in the last two division format season and although Thomas also won the 1994 MVP the Sox were in the Central.

From 1996 through 2004 the West dominated the award: 1996, Juan Gonzalez Rangers, 1997 Ken Griffey, Mariners, 1998 Juan Gonzalez, Rangers, 1999 Ivan Rodriguez, Rangers.  2000 Jason Giambi, A's, 2001 Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners, 2002 Miguel Tejada, A's, 2003 Alex Rodriguez, Rangers, 2004, Vladimir Guerrero, Angels.

Between Guerrero and Trout (2014) only Josh Hamilton of the Rangers (2010) won the MVP giving the division a total of 22 MVP.