Friday, July 31, 2015

100 Years of Baseball

At the risk of getting a bit too personal this week, my family is celebrating a milestone.  My grandfather is turning 100.  He is an amazing man.  He spent part of his life in Italy, spent time in an American orphanage, worked in a sock factory, spent time in the military during World War II, lived in Chicago, Cleveland and Reading, spent decades teaching high school and (of course I'm biased) he is the best grandfather anyone could ask for.

For decades he was an avid golfer, speaks five languages (possibly more but I know of five) and is a huge baseball fan.  His teams are the Phillies, White Sox and Indians and in his life time he has seen great ups and downs for all three teams.

So in preparing to celebrate this man's 100 years life my baseball obsessed mind of course turned to the game of baseball.  Or to more accurately give credit where credit is due, my brilliant wife did.  As she watched me working on a blog one day during the planning of our trip home, she said "What if you did an article about all the things he has seen in his lifetime?"  My original thought was I should do the top 50 things and was worried I would be stretching it a little.   Then I hit the 50 most amazing things and realized I hadn't even scratched the surface.  So I stretched it to 100 and I realized I still had a million things that were left out.  Needless to say I capped it at 100 and realize that there are many players, managers, teams, wins, events, changes, and personalities that have been left off.  For example, the evolution of the mascot, the evolution of fan baseball attire (suits to t-shirts to jerseys), bench jockeying and a million others.

So in honor of my Grandfather, born July 31, 1915, here are 100 great things that he has seen over the years:

1. Black Sox Scandal:  
At the ripe old age of 5 years, 1 month and 27 days, my grandfather saw Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver, Chick Gandil, Swede Risberg, Fred McMullin, Happy Felsch, Lefty Williams and Eddie Cicotte play their last game.  Of course, at that age he had no idea who any of them were or what this meant  but as a White Sox fan he would some day learn.
2. Strikes/Lock Outs:  
Strikes by players were technically happening as far back as the 1880s.  The Boston Americans nearly went on strike before Game 1 of the 1903 World Series because their contracts were technically done the last day of the season and they were worried they would not get paid.  The 1912 Red Sox nearly went on strike before a World Series game over a dispute about distribution of payment for a tied game.  The Cubs-Red Sox nearly went on strike before the 1918 World Series and the 1947 Cardinals (allegedly) threatened a strike over Jackie Robinson's inclusion on the Dodgers. There have been 8 recognized work stoppages:  1972, 1973, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1985, 1990 and the ever present 1994-1995.
3. Mitchell Report:
In March 2006 it was impossible to ignore the growing presence of steroids in the game and Commissioner Selig appointed George Mitchell to investigate.  On December 13, 2007 the results were released in what has come to be known as the Mitchell Report.  It named names and gave evidence and changed the way some players were viewed.
4. Replacement Players:
As the 1995 season approached and little progress was made in the strike there were rumors that replacement players, non-union players, would take the place of the Major Leaguers.  The replacement players made it to spring training but the MLB Players Union objected, Sparky Anderson, the Tigers long time manager, said he would quit before managing the replacements and the MLB Players' Union discussed giving Cal Ripken Jr an exemption so that his quickly approaching date with Lou Gehrig's record would remain in tact.  In the end though the strike was settled before the regular season started.
5. Pete Rose Scandal:
Still a hot and divisive topic among baseball fans, Pete Rose was banned for betting on baseball.
6. On field Death (Ray Chapman):
Just 17 days after he turned 5 my grand father could have picked up a paper and found the story of Ray Chapman being killed on the field.  Of course, just as with the Black Sox scandal, it would have meant nothing at the time.  The Chapman scandal came with questions of whether the ball had been scuffed and possibly been thrown at Chapman on purpose.

Great Teams
7.  Yankees Dynasty 1921-1932
During the days of Ruth and Gehrig the Yankees won the AL in 1921, 1922, 1923, 1926, 1927, 1928 and 1932.  They won the World Series in 1923, 1927, 1928 and 1932.
8.  Yankees Dynasty 1936-1951:
During the DiMaggio years the Yanks won the AL in 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1942, 1943, 1947, 1949, 1950 and 1951.
9.  Yankees Dynasty 1952-1964:
During the Mantle years the Yankees won the AL in 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1964.  They won the World Series in 1952, 153, 1956, 1958, 1961 and 1962
10  Yankees Dynasty 1976-1981:
In the Munson-Nettles-Reggie dynasty the Yankees won the AL in 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1981 (they also won the AL East in 1980).  They won the 1977 and 1978 World Series
11. Yankees Dynasty 1995-2001:
During the Jeter-Posada-Rivera-Pettite era (and you could include Bernie Williams and Paul O'Neil in there as well) the Yankees reached the playoffs in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001.  They won the World Series in 1996. 1998 1999 and 2000 and lost one of the greatest World Series in 2001.
12, Gashouse Gang:
A legendary team. although this particular group won only one World Series, had some of the biggest names of the 1930s:  Dizzy and Daffy (though he preferred Paul) Dean, Leo the Lip Durocher, Pepper Martin, Ripper Collins and Frankie "Fordham Flash" Frisch.
13. Big Red Machine:
Though they are best remembered for the 1975 and 1976 World Series Champs, Tony Perez says he felt the Machine went as far back as 1967 or 1968.  Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, Pete Rose, Dave Concepcion, George Foster, Cesar Geronimo, Ken Griffey Sr, Don Gullet, Jack Billingham, Lee Maye, Alex Johnson.  The Machine reached the post season in 1970, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976 and 1979.  Although they won only the 1975 and 1976 series, they also reached the 1970 and 1972 World Series.
14. Braves Domination:
Almost overnight the Braves went from doormat to domination.  Shocking everyone with a 1991 World Series appearance, they followed up with 1992 World Series appearance.  With the exception of 1994 when there were no playoffs, the Braves reached the post season every year through 2005.  During that run they reached the World Series in 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996 and 1998 but won only the 1995 series.
15. Miracle Mets:
Considered a joke of an organization the Miracle Mets shocked everyone. In just their 8th season the Mets upset the heavily favored Orioles.
16. Swingin' A's:
The Swingin' A's were some times swinging at the ball and sometimes at each other.  The colorful description applied to the players and the uniforms.  Reggie Jackson, Ray Fosse, Sal Bando, Bert Campaneris, Catfish Hunter, Gene Tennace, Rollie Fingers and Vida Blue reached the playoffs every year from 1971 through 1975 and won the World Series in 1972, 1973 and 1974.

Changes in the Game
17.  Night Baseball:
On May 24, 1935, just months before my grandfather's twentieth birthday, the Cincinnati Reds hosted the Philadelphia Phillies in the first night game.  The Reds would play at least one night game against each National League team that year.  Eventually every stadium would host night games and baseball under the lights would become common place for "prime time" post season baseball.  The Cubs were the last to install lights when they hosted the first night game at Wrigley Field on August 8,  1988.
18,  Radio:
On August 5, 1921 Pittsburgh Radio Station KDKA broadcast the Pirates-Phillies game.  It was the first ever use of radio to broadcast the sport.  Although owners first feared the use of radio would kill the sport since people would not come out to the stadium, the smart teams used the broadcasts to promote the team and to draw larger crowds.  Today every game of every team has a radio feed.
19  Television:
According to the first ever televised game came on August 26, 1939.  The game between the Reds and Dodgers was televised but since there were only an estimated 400 televisions in existence who knows how many people saw the game.  In Game 1 the Reds' ace Bucky Walters would win his 21st game of the year.  Hugh Casey of the Dodgers won the second game of the double header thanks to some help from Cookie Lavagetto. It would take until the mid-1940s for teams to start regularly broadcasting.  The 1950s was when the phenomenon grew and today every game is available at any time (unless you're a Dodgers' fan living in the LA area).
20.  Franchise Shifts:
On July 31, 1915 there were three Major Leagues (technically): the American League, the National League and the Federal League.  The Federal League went belly up due to a never ending court battle with the two remaining leagues so we won't count that for the purposes of this section.  That puts 16 teams in play on the day my grandfather was born.  In that time he has seen:
the St. Louis Browns become the Baltimore Orioles,
the Washington Senators become the Minnesota Twins
the new Washington Senators become the Texas Rangers
the Philadelphia Athletics become the Kansas City Athletics and then the Oakland Athletics
the Seattle Pilots  become the Milwaukee Brewers
the Boston Braves become the Milwaukee Braves and then the Atlanta Braves
the Montreal Expos become the San Juan Expos then the Washington Nationals
the Brooklyn Dodgers become the Los Angeles Dodgers
the New York Giants become the San Francisco Giants
21. Expansion:
As mentioned in #20 the league was 16 teams on 7/31/1915 (8 American League and 8 National League).  Since then my grandfather has seen the creation of:
Los Angeles Angels (then the California Angels, then the Anaheim Angels and now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)
Washington Senators (now the Texas Rangers)
New York Mets
Houston Colt .45's (now Houston Astros)
Seattle Pilots (now Milwaukee Brewers)
Kansas City Royals
Montreal Expos (Now Washington Nationals)
San Diego Padres
Toronto Blue Jays,
Seattle Mariners
Florida Marlins (now Miami Marlins)
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
Tampa Bay Devil Rays (now Tampa Bay Rays)
22. Birth of Relief Pitcher
In 1915 a relief pitcher was either a regular starter who filled in because the actual starter got knocked around so badly the manager gave up on him or a pitcher that was not good enough to start and was on the roster for emergencies (only to be used in dire straits).  By the 1940s men like Joe Page were starting to be looked upon as valuable members (maybe) of the roster.  By the 1960s men like Moe Drabowsky and Phil Regan (nicknamed "the Vulture" by Sandy Koufax because he circled Koufax's kills then swooped in and picked up the win)  were gaining recognition.  Yet it was not truly until the 1970s that the sport recognized the relief pitcher as a truly vital piece of the team.  Sparky Anderson gained a reputation as Captain Hook because he was always ready to switch to the bullpen at a moment's notice.  It worked and his Reds won two World Series (he won a third with Detroit using the same method).  Pitchers like Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage and Sparky Lyle strengthened the belief that a team needed a fresh, strong arm in the late innings.  By the 1980s everyone had a "closer" and pitchers like Lee Smith, Bobby Thigpen, Mitch Williams and Dennis Eckersley really solidified the bullpen.  Tony LaRussa, from his days with the A's, revolutionized the use of the pen.  He took it from just "long relief" and "short relief" to right handed/left handed specialist, 6th inning guy, 7th inning guy, set up man, closer.
23. Birth of Designated Hitter
When my grandfather was born there were just 9 positions.  Players were expected to play the whole game (although a pinch hitter or pinch runner might be acceptable depending on the situation).  In 1973 the league officially added a new position to the game: the Designated Hitter.  The brain child of Charlie O, Finley (although it had been suggested as far back as the 1890s) the Designated Hitter was adopted by the American League.  The National League refused to adopt the rule.  The addition of the position caused debate among the league and among fans.  To this day there are those who argue for or against the rule and there is still debate over whether it should be taken out of the AL or added to the NL.  Just this year, when Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright got injured there was varying opinions on whether the NL should adopt the rule.
24. Spitball Outlawed:
White Sox Hall of Fame pitcher Ed Walsh threw an amazing spitter.  One batter used to say that whatever he used seemed to make the pitch disintegrate on the way to the plate and reassemble itself in the catcher's mitt.  In 1915 anything a pitcher wanted to do was legal.  You could throw it overhand, side arm, 3/4 rotation, "sub marine".  You could scratch, scrape, spit, smear, smash, mash, stomp, poke or prod the ball to get it to the plate.  It was all legal.  That was until 1920 when the league outlawed "freak deliveries" focusing mostly on the spit ball.  Since there were a few pitchers who made their (very successful) livings on the pitch the league allowed 17 pitchers to be "grandfathered" into the spitball rule.  No other pitchers were allowed to use the method and once these 17 retired from the game, so would the pitch.  The 17 grandfathered players were:
Doc Ayers, Tigers
Ray Caldwell, Indians
Stan Coveleski, Indians
Red Faber, White Sox
Dutch Leonard, Tigers
Jack Quinn, Yankees
Allan Russell, Red Sox
Urban Shocker, Browns
Allan Sothoron, Browns
Bill Doak, Cardinals
Phil Douglas, Giants
Dana Fillingim, Braves
Ray Fisher, Reds
Marv Goodwin, Cardinals
Burleigh Grimes, Dodgers
Clarence Mitchell, Dodgers
Dick Rudolph, Braves
25. Catcher's Equipment:
A fan today traveling back in time to the 1880s to watch a game might not even recognize it.  The distance between home and the pitcher were shorter and the Catcher was well behind home plate.  It was entirely possible for a pitch to be called a strike even when the Catcher got it on a bounce.  The Catcher was so far behind the batter because they were so amazingly exposed. Although chest protectors (often hidden under the uniform) were used by the 1890s, it wasn't until Roger Bresnahan showed up in 1907 at the Polo Grounds that the shin guards were put in play.  These were cricketing shin guards and looked completely different from what we know today.  The Catcher's mask dates back as far as the 1870s.  They were often made of poor wiring and little padding that could cause severe gashes if a foul was taken right to the mask and a mouth guard that may have done more damage than good.  As the quality improved the Catcher moved closer and was able to squat directly behind the batter.  The mask developed as technology and sports science developed.  The mask has gone from a dangerous scar maker to a hockey goalie mask that can be customized and painted to reflect the team logo.  The shin guards, once bulky and inhibiting can now include pads on the back of the leg to reduce the impact on the knees.  I was actually able to see some of the earlier versions of the equipment last year when I visited an exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.
26. Batting Helmets
The idea of a batting helmet was widely discussed in 1920, just after the spitball/freak delivery was outlawed.  During that season Carl Mays hit Ray Chapman, fracturing Chapman's skull and causing the only on field death in Major League history.  Still, nothing changed.  The 1941 Dodgers tried batting helmets when Joe Medwick and Pee Wee Reese both were hit in the head but that disappeared.  The conversation arose again when Tony Conigliaro was hit in 1967.  By 1971 it was mandatory for all but a handful of "grandfathered" players (including Norm Cash).  By 1982 the helmet needed ear flaps for extra protection.  Some players, like Dave Winfield, wore a more loose helmet that would fly off on the base paths.  Players who wanted further protection, such as Glenn Hubbard of the A's and Braves, added an extension that protected the cheek.  In recent years with players like Jayson Heyward and Giancarlo Stanton suffering gruesome hits to their face there is now talk that the cheek protection may become mandatory.
27. Solid Bats/Weak Bats
When my brother and I were kids we benefited from the fact that my grandfather was cleaning out some "old junk".  I don't know how old we were, probably 10 or so, but one day my grandfather showed up and added a bat to our baseball gear.  It was a massive piece of wood.  It was a Jimmie Foxx model bat.  Honestly, as a skinny, weak kid I could barely lift the damn thing and I couldn't imagine how someone could swing that behemoth with any control.  For a truly amazing, detailed and well researched study of the evolution of the bat you can check out this article by Jimmy Stamp of  The bats that were used by Foxx and Ruth in their days were like tree trunks while today's bats used by Stanton and Cabrera are closer to toothpicks by comparison.  The evolution was also clearly shown at the exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum
28.  Messersmith/McNally
The early days of the league saw players jump from team to team on a whim.  The overly aggressive pursuit of other team's players even led to the creation of the Pirates' team name.  To combat the problem the owners added a "reserve clause" to every player contract.  Each and every player's services were reserved by their team for the following season, every year for eternity.  Essentially a player signed with his team for life (although the team had the option to change their mind on that at any moment).  That contract renewed at the end of every season automatically.  The player could sign a contract with that team and play for that season at the terms given or they could go home and work in coal mines and industrial factories.  In the late 1960s Curt Flood fought against this system when he was traded from the Cardinals to the Phillies.  He lost.  The next challenge came in 1975.  Cy Young winner Andy Messersmith of the Dodgers loved pitching in Los Angeles.  In fact he wanted to stay there so badly he insisted on a multi-year contract.  The Dodgers refused.  So Messersmith continued to play for the Dodgers in 1975.  He was paid for his time but he never signed his 1975 contract.  At the same time, the Orioles had traded star pitcher Dave McNally to Montreal.  Not necessarily wanting to pitch in Montreal, and refusing to sign the contract when he claimed the team failed to live up to their promises, McNally at first retired, then returned to the team without signing.  At the end of the season both pitchers claimed they were no longer bound by the reserve clause because they had not signed contracts.  Arbitrator Peter Seitz agreed.  What was more, Seitz found that the reserve clause was not equally beneficial to players and owners and the reserve clause was no longer permitted.
29. Birth of Free Agency
Free agency was not unheard of before the Messersmith and McNally decisions.  In the 1930s Tommy Henrich of the Cleveland Indians appealed to Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis that the Indians organization was keeping him in the minor leagues and not allowing him to properly advance to the Major Leagues, essentially they were "hiding" players.  Landis agreed with Henrich and released Henrich from his contract allowing him to sign with the Yankees where he was a key piece of # 8 of this article.  A few years later Judge Landis found that Branch Rickey and the Cardinals were illegally holding players in the minor league system and declared more than 20 Cardinals minor league prospects free agents. One of those was Pete Reiser, Rickey's favorite prospect.  Rickey made a quiet deal with a friend in Brooklyn to sign Reiser and keep him in the minors for a few years when they would then sell him back to St. Louis.  Essentially, doing the same thing that had led to his release, only with another organization.  The plan would have worked if Reiser wasn't so damn talented and Leo Durocher hadn't ignored ownerships' demands to keep him off the field.  Despite those events the Seitz decision on the Messersmith and McNally cases are usually seen as the birth of free agency.  However, in the winter of 1974-1975 there was a preview (a nightmare of the future for some owners) of what might happen if players could choose where they played.  Catfish Hunter of the three time World Champion A's (see # 16 above),  had an agreement with Charles Finley that a certain portion of his money be deferred.  Finley either misunderstood or refused (depending on the version) to follow the contract.  Either way, Finley failed to live up to his contract and the deal was voided making Catfish a free agent.  This led to teams climbing over each other to land Finley for their team.  While owners normally fought each other to see who could win while paying players the lowest possible amount, they were now throwing money at Hunter to try to land one of the best pitchers in baseball.  The A's, White Sox, Dodgers, Padres, Red Sox, Orioles and Yankees all offered unheard of sums and incentives to Hunter.  He would eventually land with the Yankees and help them to # 10 of this article.  This mad scramble was a harbinger of today's free agency where team's play with monopoly money and sign players for a decade worth of service.
30. Pitch Counts
Imagine Red Schoendienst or Solly Hemus walking out to the mound on a hot August St. Louis night.  It's about 105 degrees on the field in about the 6th inning of an afternoon game and Bob Gibson has two men on and one out.  First of all it would be a suicide mission to walk out to the mound to ask Gibson anything, but in this fictional meeting the manager tells Gibson: "Sorry Bob, you're at 100 pitches and you've got two guys on.  I have to pull you."  That manager would probably lose an arm trying to pull the ball from Gibson's hand.  Until about 30 years ago a pitch count was useless.  The starter was expected to start and finish.  Of course the pitch count came from the theory that a pitcher probably has about 100 good pitches in his arm a night and then will tire and risk injury.
31.  Interleague:
The American League and National League despised each other, yet, agreed to face off in the World Series every year.  Why?  Simple: self preservation.  It was a peace move, a compromise of sorts, to allow co-existence.  Yet those owners and League Presidents never intended to be equal or combined.  That would explain why the AL has the DH and the NL does not and why the NL had only 12 teams while the AL had 14 from 1977-1993.  The All Star Game and the World Series were the only chance each league had to prove superiority.  As the decades went on and free agency saw players jump from AL to NL and back and vice versa, the divide lessened.  In the late 1990s regular season inter league play was added as a novelty.  Today there is at least one interleague series every day.
32. Defensive Shifts:
Connie Mack was famous for standing at the top of the dugout adjusting his fielders pitch by pitch and batter by batter.  Johnny Evers used to read his own catcher's signs from Second Base then adjust his team mates in the field.  1946 saw the Cardinals use a dramatic shift against Ted Williams in the World Series to compensate for the fact that Ted usually hit to right field.  It worked.  Today the exaggerated shift has become a common place thing and is still sometimes referred to as the Williams Shift.
33. Baseball Cards:
Back in 1915 baseball cards were used to promote tobacco.  Cracker Jack also used to have a card series.  Of course kids were buying a pack of cards hoping for a superstar.  No one wanted an Olaf Henriksen of the Red Sox card in 1915.  It was only the stars that had cards.  In 1950 the Topps Chewing Gum Company released a series of trading cards featuring "Hop Along Cassidy".  The cards were a success so in 1951 the company designed a set of baseball cards for the 1952 season.  The cards sold well enough to release another set the following year but they did not sell out.  Legend has it that the overstock cards were put on a garbage barge and dumped in the Atlantic.  Today the production, selling and trading of sports cards is a business all to itself.

34.  Everett Scott/Lou Gehrig/Steve Garvey/Cal Ripken:
A big part of the game's history has been the fascination with the "consecutive games played" streaks.  Over the last 100 years that title went from Everett Scott to  Lou Gehrig to Cal Ripken, with a serious challenge from Steve Garvey in between,
35. Ty Cobb/Ted Williams/Pete Rose/ Tony Gwynn/Mike Trout:
There is also the fascination with who is the greatest hitter of all time.  Over the last 100 years that debate has included (along with some others):
Cobb (12 batting titles, 4189 hits),
Ted Williams (6 batting titles, 2654 hits, last man to hit .400)
Pete Rose (3 batting titles, 4256 hits)
Tony Gwynn (8 batting titles, 3141 hits, last player to seriously threaten hitting .400)
Miguel Cabrera (3 batting titles, triple crown winner 2223 career hits)
36. Babe Ruth/Henry Aaron/Barry Bonds
The sport has been fascinated with the Home Run since Babe Ruth came on the scene.  The fascination has grown through the years and has seen three major Home Run kings.
37. Uniform Trends:
In 1915 teams had a home uniform and an away uniform, mostly utilizing red, white or blue as the base color (though some did use black).  By the 1920s teams began using numbers on the back of the uniform.  By the 1930s teams started using more elaborate lettering. By the 1940s teams were using the player's names on the back of the uniform.  By the 1970s the uniforms were becoming more colorful with the A's Yellow/Green and the Padres Mustard Brown.  By the 1980s it seemed every team used a powder blue colored road uniform.  In the 1990s teams returned to the traditional.  In the 2000s teams had an almost endless parade of uniforms: Batting Practice Uniforms, Home and Away Uniform, Alternate Jersey, 4th of July special jersey, etc.
38. Era of the Pitcher:
The league has always tried to keep a balance of fairness between the hitters and pitchers.  In 1915 the game was dominated by pitchers.  That disappeared for awhile but returned in the 1930s with Lefty Grove and Carl Hubbell.  It disappeared for a few decades but returned in the 1960s with Gibson, McLean, Koufax, Drysdale, Marichal, Spahn and Whitey Ford.
39. Ea of the Hitter
The balance throughout history usually tips toward the hitters.  In the 1920s Ruth dominated the game.  Although the numbers dropped slightly in the late 1920s (for everyone not named Ruth or Gehrig) they rebounded in the early 1930s.  They exploded again with the influx of talent from the Negro Leagues in the 1950s.  The true era of the hitter can probably be seen as beginning in the late 1980s when Canseco, Cecil Fielder, Mark McGwire, Ken Grifffey Jr and Barry Bonds exploded on the scene.
40. Stadiums
In 1915 many teams (the Phillies for example) were still playing in dilapidated, tiny, wooden stadiums that often suffered fires.  By the 1920s teams were building larger, concrete stadiums (the Athletics, Red Sox and Giants were ahead of the curve on these).  By the 1960s, with the birth of the Houston Astros indoor stadium, came Astroturf.  By the late 1960s, with the popularity boom of professional football, teams created multi-sport facilities like Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati and Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.  That gave way (thank God!) when the Orioles built their new "retro" ballpark at Camden Yards.  Thankfully it was perfection and most new stadiums have followed that trend.
41. Rogers Hornsby/Paul Waner/Lou Boudreau/Richie Ashburn/Roberto Clemente/Pete Rose/Robin Yount/Mark Grace/Ichiro Suzuki
What do these players have in common?  Each one led the Major Leagues in base hits spanning a decade.
42.  Burleigh Grimes/Lefty Grove/Hal Newhouser/Warren Spahn/Juan Marichal/Jim Palmer/Jack Morris/Greg Maddux/Andy Pettite
And what do these men have in common? Each has led the Major Leagues in Wins for a decade.  (And at the risk of getting off track with another rant:  Jack Morris is the only pitcher among them who is not in the Hall of Fame.  Pettite is not in the Hall of Fame yet but he will be).
43.  Length of Game
In 1915 there were no commercial breaks, few pitching changes and few substitutions.  A game could be finished in about 90 minutes.  Batters were not adjusting batting gloves or checking signs on every pitch.  A walk didn't involve the player standing at home to remove elbow guards, shin guards and batting gloves.  While a four hour game in 1915 meant they were probably headed into 20+ innings, today it just means a regular 9 inning game.
44. Endorsements:
As long as advertising existed, companies wanted someone famous to promote their product.  When Ruth became the biggest star on the planet the idea of baseball players as corporate shills exploded.  Ruth even had his own brand of under wear.  In the 1930s and 1940s the biggest deals for players usually came from the tobacco companies.  In 1950 with the explosion of suburbia and mass marketing, the opportunities grew.  By the 1980s players were making millions on the job off the  field.  Dwight Gooden's autobiography talks about his disbelief of looking up at a picture of himself throwing a fastball that took up the entire side of a building in New York.  Of course as the corporate image of sports evolved the promotion of alcohol or tobacco was forbidden but athletes can pretty much promote anything else you can think of.
45. Spring Training:
Spring Training started as a way for players to work off the fat of the winter and work themselves back into shape. Most players held off season jobs to supplement their pay, so winter training was not an option for many.  Teams would find a nice, quiet, secluded town (the smaller the town, the less opportunity the players had to get into trouble).  The Giants would train in Marlin, TX.  The Cubs had a spot on Catalina Island in California.  The Dodgers even went to Cuba one year. The teams would eventually leave camp and play games against colleges, minor league teams and semi-pro teams on their way north to their home city.  By the 1960s most teams were training in either Florida or Arizona and started scheduling games between major league competition.  Today Spring Training is a big business, almost a separate season from the regular season.
46. Minor League System:
In 1915 it was taboo for a team to admit they had a working agreement with a minor league team.  Of course there were always the nod and wink agreements of old friends working closely but technically it was against the rules.  In fact, as late as the late 1930s Commissioner Landis ordered the Cardinals to release 91 players from their minor league contracts, ruling that they had been unfairly kept in the minor leagues  by the team despite playing at a Major League level.  Among those players was Pete Reiser.  By the 1950s it was accepted that the minor league system was in place and teams were allowed to bring all of their players to spring training.  Today teams promote or demote players to the minor leagues on what seems like an hourly basis.
47.  All Star Game:
In 1915 there was no All Star Game.  That did not come around until 1933 in Chicago as part of the World's Fair exhibition.  The success of the first led to a second in 1934 in New York and has now become a seasonal tradition.  It has been played every year (except 1945 during World War II) and from 1959-1962 there were two All Star Games each year.  In 1957 the Cincinnati Reds "stuffed" the ballot box and elected 7 Reds to start.  That stunt got the fan voting portion taken away until 1970.  When the game started it was a bitter fight between leagues for bragging rights and most of the time the starters were expected to play the whole game.  By the 1980s, with free agency blending the leagues more and more, it became a showcase for the fun side of the sport.  By the mid 1980s managers tried to get every player in the game.  This led to the debacle in 2002 when teams ran out of players and a tie game.  This led to the decision to make the winner of the game decide home field advantage.
48.  Replay
The first motion picture was shot in 1889.  By 1915 Motion Pictures were becoming big business with The Birth of a Nation and movie stars like Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford.  As motion picture technology grew, so did the business of sports films.  In what was the very rudimentary version of ESPN, newsreels showed highlights of the World Series or All Star Games.  By the 1950s games were being televised live on television and baseball programming like Home Run Derby was seen on TV.  Yet it wasn't until the 1960s that television found a way to play back a previous play that had just happened.  By the 1970s "instant replay" was a regular feature.  By the 1980s, as the NFL was exploring replay as a device to review questionable plays, there was talk of using the same for baseball.  Today, replay is used on TV, in stadiums and by umpires.  100 years ago it was impossible to imagine watching a game with the chance to see it again in any format.  Today, it is impossible to watch a game without the ability to immediately review what you just saw.

Families:  (Of course there were more than just these families in baseball but in a failed attempt to limit the length of the article I kept it at 5)
49.  Boones: 
Ray Boone (Indians 1948-1953, Tigers 1953-1958, White Sox 1958-1959, Athletics 1959,  Twins 1959-1960, Red Sox 1960)
Bob Boone (Phillies 1972-1981, Angels 1982-1988, Royals 1989-1990)
Bret Boone (Mariners 1992-1993, Reds 1994-1998, Braves 1999, Padres 2000, Mariners 2001-2005, Twins 2005)
Aaron Boone (Reds 1997-2003, Yankees 2003, Indians 2005-2006, Marlins 2007, Nationals 2008, Astros 2009)
50.  Ripkens
Cal Ripken Sr (No major league experience but coached in Orioles organization)
Cal Ripken Jr (1982-2001 Orioles)
Billy Ripken (1987-1992 Orioles, 1993-1994 Rangers, 1995 Indians, 1996 Orioles, 1997 Rangers, 1998 Tigers)
51.  Griffeys
Ken Griffey Sr (Reds, 1973-1981, Yankees 1982-1986, Braves 1986-1988, Reds 1988-1990, Mariners 1990-1991)
Ken Griffey Jr( Mariners 1989-1999, Reds 2000-2008, White Sox 2008, Mariners 2009-2010)
52. Alomars
Sandy Alomar,Sr (Braves 1964-1967, Mets 1967, White Sox 1967-1969, Angels 1969-1974, Yankees 1974-1976, Rangers 1977-1978)
Sandy Alomar, Jr (Padres 1988-1989, Indians 1990-2000, White Sox 2001-2002, Rockies 2002, White Sox 2003-2004, Rangers 2005, Dodgers, 2006 , White Sox 2006, Mets 2007)
Roberto Alomar (Padres 1988-1990, Blue Jays 1991-1995, Orioles 1996-1998, Indians 1999-2001, Mets 2002-2003, White Sox 2003, Diamondbacks 2004, White Sox 2004)
53. Alous:
Jesus Alou: (Giants 1963-1968, Astros 1969-1973, A's 1973-1974, Mets 1975)
Matty Alou (Giants 1960-1965, Pirates 1966-1970, Cardinals 1971-1972, As 1972, Yankees 1973, Cardinals 1973, Padres 1974)
Felipe Alou (Giants 1958-1963, Braves 1964-1969, A's 1970-1971, Yankees 1971-1973, Expos 1973, Brewers 1974)
Moises Alou (Pirates 1990, Expos 1990-1996, Marlins 1997, Astros 1998-2001, Cubs 2002-2004, Giants 2005-2006, Mets 2007-2008)
Mel Rojas (Expos 1990-1996, Cubs 1997, Mets 1997-1998, Dodgers 1999, Tigers 1999, Expos 1999)
Jose Sosa (Astros 1975-1976)

Post Season Moments
54. World Series Droughts (droughts over 10 years since 1915):
Orioles (1915-1965 as Browns/Orioles, 1971-1982, 1984-Present),
Red Sox (1919-2003),
Yankees (1964-1976, 1979-1995),
Blue Jays (1977-1991, 1994-Present)
Rays (1998-Present),
Indians (1921-1947, 1949-Present),
Tigers (1915-1934, 1946-1967, 1969-1983, 1985-Present),
Twins (1925-1986 as Senators/Twins, 1992-Present)
Royals (1969-1984, 1986-Present),
White Sox (1917-2004),
Athletics (1915-1928, 1931-1971, 1975-1988, 1990-Present),
Angels (1961-2001, 2003-Present),
Rangers (1961-Present),
Astros (1962-Present),
Mariners (1977-Present),
Braves (1915-1956, 1958-1994, 1996-Present),
Mets (1970-1985, 1987-Present),
Nationals (1969-Present as Expos/Nationals),
Marlins (2004-Present),
Pirates (1926-1959, 1980-Present),
Brewers (1969-Present as Pilots/Brewers),
Reds (1920-1939, 1941-1974, 1977-1989, 1991-Present),
Cubs (1915-Present),
Cardinals (1915-1925, 1947-1963, 1968-1981, 1983-2005),
Diamondbacks (2002-Present),
Padres (1969-Present),
Rockies (1992-Present),
Giants (1934-1953, 1955-2009)
Dodgers (1915-1954, 1966-1980, 1989-Present)
55. 35 Game 7's:  And that only counts the World Series Game 7's not the LCS.  The best of the best were: The Senators winning thanks to a pebble (1924), Grover Alexander striking out Tony Lazzeri with the bases loaded (1926), Enos Slaughter's mad dash (1946), Johnny Podres' masterpiece and Sandy Amoros' catch (1955), Smoltz vs Morris (1991), Luis Gonzales' base hit (2001), Royals leave the tying run on 3rd (2014).
56. Wild Cards:  Still controversial but you can't deny it has changed the game.  Since 1995 there have been 5 Wild Card teams that won it all: 1997 Marlins, 2003 Marlins, 2004 Red Sox, 2011 Cardinals and 2014 Giants
57. LDS:  Introduced in 1995, some still fight it but the 1995 Yankees-Mariners LDS was reason enough to accept it. There are plenty of other great LDS series over the last 20 years:  Indians-Yankees (1997), Yankees-A's (2001), Cubs-Braves (2003), Brewers-Diamondbacks (2011),
58. LCS: Just like the 35 Game 7's there are too many great moments to list but here are just a few:
Chris Chambliss' Home Run (1976), Astros-Phillies (1980), Brewers come back (1982), Ozzie Smith makes St. Louis go crazy (1985), 12 Inning Marathon in Cleveland (1997), Aaron Boone (2003), Red Sox destiny (2004), Polanco's frigid frolic (2006), Nelson Cruz dominates (2011).
59. Shot Heard Round the World:  Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and "The Giants won the pennant".
60. Homer in the Gloamin: So it wasn't exactly post season but it certainly had the feel of a post season game.  Trailing the Pirates by 1/2 game in the standings and tied at 5 in the 9th with darkness descending and with the umpires threatening to end the game in a tie, Gabby Hartnett sent everyone home with a twilight Home Run that came to be known as the Homer in the Gloamin, which vaulted the Cubs into first place and eventually on to the 1938 World Series.
61 Buckner: " Little roller behind the bag..." and another 18 years of the Curse of the Bambino.
62.  The Catch:  Mays was so damn good that even his glove had a nickname.  The place where triples go to die.
63.  Babe Ruth's Called Shot:  Pre-curse of the Billy Goat and the Cubs were already 24 years into their drought when Ruth hit his legendary shot.
64.  Bill Mazeroski:  "A long fly ball going deep to left.  This may do it..." and boy did it ever do it.  Pandemonium at Forbes Field.
65.  Carlton Fisk:  "If it stays fair..." It did and the breeze from Fisk's flapping arms as he danced down the base paths may have kept it there.

Cultural Impact
66 Hank Greenberg: In an era when many team locker rooms were divided by Catholics and Protestants, Hank Greenberg was a completely different presence.  Playing in Detroit in the 1930s while Reverend Charles Coughlin was taking to local airwaves to spread a message of anti-semitism, Greenberg had the Tigers' fans cheering for the first Jewish star in baseball. (And of course I found a way to bring up Hank Greenberg again)
67 Jackie Robinson:  Baseball Eras has already spent a lot of time talking about the impact of Jackie so you know I could go on for ever about this one. We'll keep this short.  His number is retired across the entire Major Leagues.  Enough Said.
68 Italian Americans:  Being an Italian American, the presence of these players had a big impact on my Grandfather's love of the game.  DiMaggio, Furillo, Lazzeri, Crosetti, Colavito, Berra, Branca, Camilli, Cavaretta, Maglie, Garagiola, Lasorda, Righetti, Petrocelli and a million others.
69. Negro Leagues:  It ended in 1960 once the Majors had raided the talent of the league but the professional era of the Negro Leagues began in 1920.  Great talents went unnoticed by the white press so we will never know how Rube Foster would have done against Ty Cobb, how Josh Gibson would have done against Carl Hubbell, or how a young Paige would have done against Babe Ruth.
70. Bay Quake:  Just before Game 3 of the 1989 World Series Candlestick Park started shaking.  The first reaction from the fans was a cheer but as the reality of the situation set in the horror of the situation became real.  The Bay Bridge had collapsed and the entire Oakland/San Francisco area appeared to be on fire.
71. 9-11:  A normal Tuesday September morning with talk of the Red Sox-Yankees and pennant races turned into a world wide shift in priorities.  After a layoff to recover the Yankees' playoff run became the symbol of New York's strength.
72. Women in Baseball:  Mostly forgotten until the movie "A League of Their Own" the All American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) was real.  It was started in 1943 by William Wrigley and ran through 1954.  The teams named in the movie were real: Rockford Peaches, Racine Belles, Kenosha Comets and South Bend Blue Sox.
73. Marvin Miller and the Players Union:  After decades of failed attempts at a Union, Marvin Miller was finally able to get the players organized.  It was one of the owners' greatest fears.  Miller's efforts led to free agency, appeals of fines and suspensions, limits on pay cuts and no trade clauses among other things.

Rivalries (Just as with the families there are many more rivalries that could be included like Tigers-White Sox, Phillies-Pirates, etc.  In the interest of length I chose just a few)
74. Giants -Yankees: This started as a clash between old and young.  McGraw's "inside baseball" vs Ruth's Home Runs.  The two teams faced each other in the 1921, 1922 and 1923 World Series and again in 1936, 1937, 1951 and 1962.
75. Red Sox-Yankees:  Technically this goes back to the start of the American League but it truly started when Boston fans saw their 1912-1918 dynasty sent to the Yankees piece by piece.  Since then the teams have battled for supremacy in often ferocious fashion.
76. Dodgers- Yankees:  This one kicked off officially in 1941 when Mickey Owen allowed a passed ball (or a wild pitch) to get past him.  It continued in 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1955 and 1956.  When the Dodgers went to the West Coast it continued in 1963, 1977, 1978 and 1981.
77. Dodgers-Giants East: This was one of the most vicious rivalries at one time.  The spark of the rivalry is given in varying stories but many feel the rivalry stemmed from the small town Brooklyn fighting to keep their identity against the big city neighbor.  It certainly grew with the constant pennant battles and led to ugly confrontations many times.
78. Dodgers-Giants West:
The rivalry continued when the teams moved west and featured many more ugly confrontations.  Never uglier than the John Roseboro-Juan Marichal incident but the Barry Bonds-Eric Gagne era got quite heated quite often.  This season could lead to another explosion.
79. Cubs-Cardinals:  This is a rivalry that is more of a regional rivalry.  It may not have the same cache' as the ones listed above but in the region the one certainly despises the other.
80. Royals-Yankees:  A sometimes forgotten rivalry, the Billy Martin/Thurman Munson/Reggie Jackson era Yankees from about 1976-1981 certainly clashed often with the George Brett/Paul Splitorff/Willie Wilson/Frank White era Royals.  It included a bench clearing brawl kicked off by Brett and Graig Nettles at Third Base in the 1977 ALCS and the Pine Tar incident among other nasty situations.
81. Braves-Mets: This was a vicious but short lived rivalry in the late 1990s to early 2000s.  The Piazza era Mets tried continuously to take out the Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz era Braves with several memorable playoff confrontations.
82. Astros-Cardinals: The LaRussa era Cardinals against the Killer B's era Astros was a great rivalry for a very short time.  The 2004 and 2005 NLCS were the pinnacle of the match up but the embers of the rivalry burned in the daily divisional battles.  Sadly when the Astros moved to the AL West the rivalry fires were extinguished for good.

Major Accomplishments
83. Worst to First:  The 1990 Braves and 1990 Twins both finished in last place. In 1991 they faced off in arguably the greatest World Series of all time.
84. Koufax's dominance:  Sandy Koufax left Brooklyn as a kid who could throw fast but didn't know where it would end up.  By the time he was done he was considered one of the greatest pitchers in history.  Yogi Berra summed it up best after the 1963 World Series when he said "How the hell did that guy lose 5 games?"
85. 213 No-hitters:On August 16, 1915 (just over 2 weeks after my grandfather's birthday) Alex Main of the Kansas City Packers (Federal League) threw a no-hitter.  Since then there have been 212 more.  Bob Feller has three of those.  Koufax has four (including a perfect game).  Nolan Ryan has 7.
86.  12 Batting Triple Crowns:  Rogers Hornsby (1922 and 1925), Jimmie Foxx (1933), Chuck Klein (1933), Lou Gehrig (1934), Joe Medwick (1937), Ted Williams (1942 and 1947), Mickey Mantle (1956), Frank Robinson (1966), Carl Yastrzemski (1967) and Miguel Cabrera (2012)
87. 27 Pitching Triple Crowns: Grover Cleveland Alexander (1915, 1916, 1920) Walter Johnson (1918 and 1924), Hippo Vaughn (1918), Dazzy Vance (1924), Lefty Grove (1930 and 1931), Lefty Gomez (1934 and 1937), Bucky Walters (1939) Bob Feller (1940), Hal Newhouser (1945). Sandy Koufax (1963, 1965 and 1966), Steve Carlton (1972), Dwight Gooden (1985), Roger Clemens (1997 and 1998), Pedro Martinez (1999), Randy Johnson (2002), Johan Santana (2006), Jake Peavy (2007), Clayton Kershaw (2011), Justin Verlander (2011)
88. 35-5 start:  The 1984 Tigers were legendary in my household.  Every year there is some team that jumps off to some unbelievable start.  The Braves did it in 2013.  The Cardinals are doing it this year.  Still none of them have come close to the 35-5 start of the 1984 Detroit Tigers
89. Collapses and comebacks:  1926 Pirates, 1929 Cubs, 1934 Giants, 1941 Yankees, 1951 Dodgers, 1964 Phillies, 1969 Cubs, 1978 Yankees, 1982 Angels, 1985 Cardinals, 1986 Mets, 1995 Mariners, 1997 Orioles, 2004 Red Sox, 2007 Rockies.  Every one of them either gave up or overcame an almost unbeatable lead.
90. Johnny Vander Meer:  On June 11, 1938 Johnny Vander Meer of the Cincinnati Reds no hit the Boston Bees.  Vander Meer's next turn in the rotation came up on June 15.  How did he follow up his no-hit performance?  He threw another no-hitter.  He is still the only pitcher to throw no-hitters in consecutive starts.
91. Hack Wilson  As records begin to fall from year to year the sacred numbers start to change.  At one time 61 was the sacred number along with 755.  Those have changed.  Since 1930 there is one number that few have even sniffed, let alone seriously threatened.  191.  In 1930 Hack Wilson of the Cubs drove in 191 runs.  Lou Gehrig reached 184 in 1931 and Hank Greenberg reached 183 in 1937.  Since 1940 no one has come within 25 RBI of old Hack.  Manny Ramirez (1999) reached 165.  To put this in perspective, in 2001 when Bonds hit 73 Home Runs, he only reached 137 RBI.
92.. 56:  This is one of those sacred numbers.  Joltin' Joe's sacred streak.  56 straight games with a hit.  Since 1941 this has been the golden number.  Only 4 players have come within 20 games of the feat since DiMaggio's streak ended: Pete Rose (44 in 1978), Paul Molitor (39 in 1987), Jimmy Rollins (38 from 2005 to 2006) and Tommy Holmes (37 in 1945).

Other miscellaneous
93. Sale of Babe Ruth:  Ruth was already a star pitcher for the Red Sox when he started to play the outfield and revolutionize hitting.  On December 26, 1919 Ruth was sold to the Red Sox for $100,000 dollars.  It was a player transaction that changed the landscape of the game in a way that is still felt today.
94. Oddball Owners:  Baseball owners have always been an odd group but some stand out over others.  There was Bill Veeck who came up with Disco Demolition night, Five Cent Beer Night, and signed Eddie Gaedel.  There was Charlie O' Finley who gave his players bonuses for growing odd mustache's, proposed the designated hitter and installed a mechanical rabbit named Harvey that popped up behind home plate to present the umpires with new baseballs.  There was Marge Schott who constantly had her faithful St. Bernard Schotzie next to her.  There was George Steinbrenner who was suspended by the commissioners twice before rebuilding the Yankees into the great team they had been in the Ruth, DiMaggio and Mantle years.There was Larry MacPhail who would fire his managers in a drunken rage only to hire them back the next morning.  Just a few of the owners who kept the game interesting.
95. This Week in Baseball:  Starting in 1977 baseball had a weekly television show reviewing the events and news of the past week.  This Week in Baseball (often abbreviated as TWIB) was hosted by legendary Yankee announcer Mel Allen.  The show brought Allen's famous "How about that?" catchphrase into households nationwide.  Allen hosted until 1996.  The show continued (although with a few breaks) until 2011.
96. Mike Schmidt:  Living in the Philadelphia area there are few names that resonate more than that of Michael Jack Schmidt.  Obviously as this is in honor of my grandfather and he lives in the Philadelphia area, #96 is particularly significant to him.  There have been players with greater impact on the game than Schmidt but in the Philadelphia area I can't think of any.
97. Rocky Colavito:  Just as with #96, this is near and dear to my grandfather's heart.  Having spent quite a bit of time in the Cleveland area, my grandfather had a great love for the Indians.  No player was more beloved in the household than Rocky Colavito.  The legends of the family still paint the day that Colavito was traded to Detroit as one of the darkest days in history.
98. Phillies World Series: Spending so many years as a baseball fan, my grandfather has had some long stretches of losing ball.  With myself growing up as an Orioles and Phillies fans and living with Indians, Brewers and Tigers fans, it clearly was hereditary.  My grandfather not only got to see the Phillies win one, but two World Series.
99. Indians World Series: Living in Cleveland for a good stretch of time, my grandfather saw some dark times for the Indians.  He also saw one of the greatest moments: the 1948 World Series champions featuring legends like Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Lou Boudreau, Larry Doby and Ken Keltner.
100.  His Very own White Sox winning the World Series:
I can honestly still remember the revelation like it was yesterday. I was probably about 10 years old.  my brother and I were at the kitchen table in my grandparent's house listening to the great INXS album Kick and organizing our baseball cards.  My Grandmother is working on cooking her perfect spaghetti sauce that no one else will ever duplicate, In looking at a Jerry Hairston card with the red, white and blue uniform with SOX written across the chest, it suddenly dawned on me how stupid those uniforms were.  They were hideous.  The lame script of the SOX across the chest. the small amount of color across the chest surrounded by an awkward amount of white.  The numbers on the legs of the pants.  It looked like they were a softball team trying to fit in with the rest of the league.  I hated those uniforms so I looked at the White Sox logo with dumb little stick figure holding a bat and I thought that was lame too.  Then there were the uniforms they had where the hat just had a C on it but it was a cursive C with some weird twist on it and when you're a 12 year old, unartistic kid who decides he wants to draw the team logos that C would send you into fits trying to get it right.  So I made a decision right then and there and decided to tell my brother about it.  I thought it was an obvious statement that couldn't possibly offend anyone.  "I hate the White Sox".  The immediate response from my Grandmother was "Don't let your grandfather hear you say that?"  Wait. What?  Why would pop-pop care if I hate the White Sox?  He's a smart guy and he's been around longer than I have.  He must know more reasons to hate them than I do.  So I asked my grandmother, why?  "Because he's a White Sox fan."  What?  That can't be right.  So I immediately ran to my grandfather who confirmed the dark revelation that yes, he was in fact a White Sox fan.  It was then that I finally learned for the first time that my grandfather had lived in Chicago when he was much younger and how he loved the city.  He told me that he was not only a White Sox fan but also a Bears fan (which I still have not been able to accept).  So year after year my grandfather calmly, quietly, unexcitedly followed the White Sox in the standings and year after year he was quietly, inwardly disappointed.  He saw the Indians win the World Series and I'm sure that was nice for him.  He saw the Phillies win a World Series and that was slightly satisfying.  But in 2005 his White Sox did what no one expected out of them.  They won the World Series.  I spoke to him about it a few times when it happened.  He was happy of course.  I don't believe he shed any tears over it.  I know he didn't pop any champagne bottles but yes, he was very satisfied that his White Sox had won during his lifetime.

Between 1915 and 2015 the Yankees clearly have won the most World Series (27).  What teams round out the top 5 of most World Series titles between 1915 and 2015?

Tom Glavine pitched in the Post Season in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 with the Braves and 2006 with the Mets.  In 9 NLDS he was 4-3.  In 10 NLCS he was 6-10.  In 5 World Series he was 4-3 for a total post season record of 14-16.

Greg Maddux pitched in the post season in 1989 with the Cubs, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 with the Braves and 2006 and 2008 with the Dodgers.   In 11 NLDS he was 5-3.  In 9 NLCS he was 4-8 and in 3 World Series he was 2-3 for a total overall post season record of 11-14.

That gives the 2014 Hall of Fame class a record or 25-30.

John Smoltz pitched in the post season in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 with the Braves and 2009 with the Cardinals.  In 11 NLDS he was 7-0, In 9 NLCS he was 9-2 and in 5 World Series he was 2-2 for a total post season record of 15-4.

Randy Johnson pitched in the post season in 1995 and 1997 with the Mariners.  1998 with the Astros, 1999, 2001 and 2002 with the Diamondbacks and 2005 and 2006 with the Yankees. In 4 ALDS he was 2-3 and 4 NLDS he was 0-5.  In 1 ALCS he was 0-1 and in 1 NLCs he was 2-0.  In his only World Series he was 3-0.  His combined post season record was 7-9.

Pedro Martinez pitched in the post season with the Red Sox in 1998, 1999, 2003 and 2004 and with the Phillies in 2009.  In 4 ALDS he was 4-0.  In 3 ALCS he was 1-2 and in 1 NLCS he was 0-0.  In 2 World Seris he was 1-2.  Thus, his total post season record was 6-4.

That gives the 2015 Hall of Fame class a total record of 28-17.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen, Your 2015 Hall of Fame Class

Much like the All Star Game, baseball gets their Hall of Fame right.  Also much like the All Star Game, the fact that so many people are so vocal and passionate about the players enshrined in the Hall of Fame also proves just how deeply embedded the game is in our national psyche.  

Unfortunately, this year's inductees make me realize my age.  All of these players were coming into the league when I was playing junior high ball and collecting baseball cards.  Let's put it this way: I'm old enough to remember Pedro as Ramon's little brother, Randy Johnson as that goofy  tall guy on the Expos, Smoltz as the young kid pitching a Game 7 and Biggio as that Catcher on the Astros who looked like he was 12.

Nevertheless, each of these players well deserves their elections and you would be hard pressed to find an argument that any of these players does not belong.  So without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I present your 2015 Hall of Fame class:

Randy Johnson
At 6'10'' and 225 pounds it was impossible not to notice Randy Johnson.  If you didn't see him you would have heard the hiss of the terrifyingly fast moving fast ball.  Johnson was drafted by the Braves in 1982 but failed to sign (imagine if he had: Glavine, Avery, Smoltz, Maddux and Johnson). He was drafted again in 1985 in the second round by the Expos and reached the majors in 1988.  As the 1989 season neared the mid point, the Expos felt they had a chance to win now, while the Mariners were perpetually building for the future.  In what was seen as a steal for the Expos and a disaster for Seattle, the Mariners sent their only star, Mark Langston to the Expos in exchange for Gene Harris, Brian Holman and Randy Johnson.  It took less than a year for the Mariners to find out what they got.  On June 20, 1990 Johnson no-hit the Tigers.  Johnson would go 14-11 in his first full Mariners season and would establish himself as a star the following year with his first All Star appearance.  He would make 9 more in his career.  By 1995 Johnson was the most feared pitcher in the game and his dominance led the Mariners to their first ever post season birth.  He finished the season at 18-2 and in a one game playoff for the AL West title beat Mark Langston, now pitching for the Angels, whom he had been traded for years earlier.  He won his first Cy Young Award that year and finished 6th in MVP voting.  He continued to pitch for Seattle but had a rocky relationship with the ownership.  At the 1998 trading deadline he was moved to the Astros where he went 10-1 and helped Houston to the playoffs.  He signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks in the off season and immediately helped the expansion team become a contender.  He would win the next four straight Cy Young awards, three of four ERA titles and the 2001 World Series MVP (shared with co-ace Curt Schilling).  The Cy Young run ended after an injury plagued 2003 season when Johnson made just 18 starts and finished 6-8.  He returned healthy in 2004 and pitched a perfect game that year.  He was traded to the Yankees following that year and although he had a strong year, the team behind him was not the dominant Yankees of years past and the team struggled.  Johnson never seemed entirely comfortable in the big city and after the 2006 season he returned to Arizona in pursuit of 300 wins.  He had an injury plagued 2007 season but returned to win 11 in 2008.  He spent his final year with the Giants in 2009 and retired as one of the greatest pitchers in the history of the game.  It is impossible to list all of the achievements he had during his 22 year career. Suffice it to say he was without a doubt, a clear choice for the Hall of Fame.

John Smoltz's life was chosen for him by age 4.  He would follow in the path of his mother's and father's and grandfather's chosen calling, an accordion player.  Luckily John got up the courage to tell his parents he had different ideas, although not before winning several contests with the instrument.  Smoltz grew up in Detroit idolizing Jack Morris.  His grandfather worked at Tiger Stadium for decades and would get John into the press box or on the field before batting practice.  When the Tigers won the 1984 World Series, John and his brother got a piece of the grass at Tigers Stadium, replanted it and built a shrine around it.  So when he was drafted by the Tigers in 1985 it was a dream come true.  Yet before he could fulfill his dream  of pitching with Jack Morris as a 1-2 dynamo, he was traded to Atlanta for Doyle Alexander.  At the time Atlanta was a baseball grave yard and it took John a long while to accept the fact that he would not get to pitch with the Tigers.  Smoltz reached the majors in Atlanta in 1988 and went 2-7, not exactly rookie of the year, but his follow up season saw him at 11-6 with a 2.10 ERA by the All Star Break, enough to earn him a trip to Anaheim for the Bo Jackson show.  Smoltz took the loss in the game but the remembered moment is the back to back Home Runs Rick Reuschel served up to Bo Jackson and Wade Boggs.  Smoltz would make 7 more All Star Games in his career.  Following that first All Star appearance, Smoltz would work with a strong Braves rotation that would learn how to win.  Glavine, Avery and Pete Smith joined Smoltz and veteran Charlie Leibrandt to take the young Braves from last place in 1990 to the brink of a World Series title in 1991.  Starting Game 7 in Minnesota against childhood idol Jack Morris, Smoltz pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings to give the Braves a chance to win, but Morris came out on top with 10 scoreless innings.  The young Braves core would go on to win 13 consecutive division titles, reaching the World Series 5 times and winning the 1995 World Series.  During that long run of playoff appearances Smoltz won 15 games.  He was also the 1992 NLCS MVP and the 1996 Cy Young winner.  Smoltz missed the 2000 season with an injury and was not strong enough to crack the rotation for 2001.  He convinced Bobby Cox that he could help the team out of the bullpen and saved 10 games in the 2001 season.  He had intended it as only a partial season answer but his performance was strong enough for the Braves to make him the team's closer for a full season.  In three years as the closer he would save 154 games, make 2 All Star Appearances and finished 3rd in the Cy Young voting in 2002.  As the rest of the rotation mates (Avery, Maddux and Glavine) moved on, the Braves moved him back to the rotation where he would again shine.  The Braves post season run had come to an end by this time but Smoltz was still dominant winning as many as 16 games.  Early in the 2008 season Smoltz needed shoulder surgery, leading the Braves to give up on him.  After being released by the Braves, Smoltz had to decide whether to retire or try a comeback at the age of 42.  Not ready to go out on a sour note, Smoltz signed with the Red Sox and had to convince the Red Sox he was worth it.  It was a disaster for Smoltz.  He started the year in the minor leagues and made his season debut in June against the Nationals.  Smoltz would go 2-5 for the Sox with an ERA over 8.  He was released in early August and worried that his career was over.  Still he worked hard at home and found a mechanical flaw in his delivery.  He auditioned for the Cardinals and was able to convince Tony LaRussa that he could help the Cardinals.  He asked for just one thing, the opportunity to start two games before being exiled to the bullpen.  With a big division lead LaRussa and the Cardinals agreed.  Smoltz was impressive in the two starts, impressive enough to be included in the post season rotation plans.  With the Dodgers up 2-0 in the NLDS Smoltz appeared in relief in the third game in St.Louis. Smoltz pitched 2 innings, allowed 4 hits and 1 run as the Cardinals were eliminated.  Hoping to resign with St.Louis in the off season, he was not in the team's plans and retired.  Like Johnson he has too many accomplishments to name here but he was a clear Hall of Fame choice.

Julia Roberts was once known as Eric Roberts' little sister.  Ken Griffey, Jr was once known as Ken Griffey's kid and Pedro Martinez was once known as Ramon's little brother.  Pedro came to the majors as a late season call up in 1992.  He appeared in 2 games and took a loss in his only decision.  After a 10-5 1993 season the Dodgers traded him to Montreal in exchange for Delino DeShields.  He immediately helped the Expos become a contender, and had it not been for the season ending strike, Pedro might have led the Expos to a post season berth.  He would spend the next three years in Montreal, making his first All Star appearance in 1996.  His final year in Montreal, 1997, saw him go 17-8 with a 1.90 ERA (best in the league) and won his first Cy Young award.  As always happens when a dominant player lands on a bad team, the press started the campaign of "what a shame he's stuck in that situation" and the Red Sox made the Expos a deal that the Expos had to take. The Red Sox sent Carl Pavano and Tony Armas to the Expos in exchange for Pedro and he made an immediate impact.  Pedro went 17-8 with a sub 3.00 ERA and helped lead the Red Sox into the post Roger Clemens era of Post Season baseball.  Pedro won the first game but the Red Sox were bounced from the ALDS by the Indians.  Pedro's season was good enough to give him a second place finish in the Cy Young race.  It would be a better year in 1999 as he went 23-7 with a 2.07 ERA, 313 K's and his second Cy Young.  Pedro started the All Star Game in Fenway Park with the legends of the league in attendance.  The "All Century Team" was revealed before the game but the legends saw the biggest cheers go to Pedro as he struck out Barry Larkin (Hall of Famer), Larry Walker, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Jeff Bagwell (with only Matt Williams reaching on an error).  He would again beat Cleveland in the first round of the post season and win a game against the hated Yankees as the rivalry between the two started to heat up.  The Red Sox would miss the playoffs in 2000, 2001 and 2002, although Pedro would continue to dominate the league.  At 18-4 and a 1.74 ERA Pedro won his third Cy Young award in 2000.  An injury plagued 2001 (7-3 in 18 starts) led to a big comeback in 2002 with a 20-4, 2.26 ERA and a second place finish in the Cy Young voting.  2003 was a turning point for the Red Sox and their rival Yankees.  A hard fought season series with boiling tempers led to an even more heated ALCS and a bean ball war.  In a now infamous scene, Pedro threw Don Zimmer to the ground during a bench clearing brawl that continued through a heated series. With a Game 7 deciding game at stake Pedro was the man on the mound and gave the Red Sox a lead into the late innings.  As all of America screamed at the television, hoping for Grady Little to get Pedro out of the game the Yankees rallied to tie the game and eventually destroy the dreams of the Red Sox nation.  It was, they said, the curse of Babe Ruth.  The 2004 Red Sox had a mantra.  "Reverse the Curse". Though late into the 4th game of the ALCS it looked like it was the same old story.  Just moments away from being swept from the playoffs the Red Sox rallied and won the game.  They kept the rally going three more games to reach the World Series where they won another four straight to end the curse once and for all.  As the biggest free agent in the wake of the win Pedro signed a big deal to go to New York.  Although Sox fans hated Pedro going to the rival city, they could at least be thankful it wasn't to the hated Yankees.  Instead, Pedro signed with the Mets.  He would be part of a big rebirth in the National League's big apple team.  He would go 15-8 and make another All Star appearance but the Mets failed to reach the post season.  2006 would be a post season appearance for the Mets but a below average year for Pedro.  At 9-8 and a 4.48 ERA it was his worst personal year to date, although he would be an All Star.  Injuries slowed his success and he would miss the post season.  The Mets could have used the help as they fell in 7 games to the eventual World Champion Cardinals.  2007 was another injury plagued year as he appeared in only 5 games, going 3-1.  He returned in 2008 to appear in 20 games but the Mets were a mess by that point and Pedro ended his New York tenure with a 5-6 record and an ERA of 5.61.  With the last two injury plagued and sub-par years Pedro failed to sign a contract in the off season and some thought his career was over.  Yet, the defending champion Phillies entered the All Star break looking for pitching help and signed Pedro to a contract for part of the 2009 season.  Pedro proved he was not done yet and went 5-1 in 9 starts, helping the Phillies win the NL East again.  Pedro started one game in the NLCS for the Phillies and went 7 very strong innings, allowing only 2 hits and 0 runs, leaving without a decision.  The Phillies advanced to the World Series for the second year in a row. With Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Pedro the Phillies looked to have a strong chance but Pedro took 2 losses and the Phils fell to the Yankees four games to two.  It was the last series of his career.  Although there was talk of Pedro getting another half season contract, it never developed.  He retired as one of the most accomplished and most feared pitchers of his generation.

Craig Biggio
The Astros in the mid 1980s were a great team.  A post season team.  A near World Series team.  With Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott, Glenn Davis, Billy Hatcher and Kevin Bass they were a powerful team.  In 1986 they came within a key hit of advancing to their first World Series.  By the time Craig Biggio reached the Astros in  1988 everything had gone down hill.  As the Astros rebuilt the team Craig Biggio was their lone remaining star.  He came up to the Major Leagues as a Catcher and made his first All Star team in 1991 along with Pete Harnisch, who had come over from Baltimore in the big off season trade.  Realizing the punishment that Biggio was taking behind the plate, Houston moved Biggio to Second Base.  Viewed with skepticism, it was portrayed as one more poor decision by Houston. Why would they take an All Star player and move him out of position?  All he did was make six All Star appearances at his new position and become the face of the Astros.  Never flashy, never putting up big power numbers in the increasingly important Home Run numbers, Biggio quietly led the Astros.  Five times he won Silver Slugger awards and four times he won Gold Glove awards.  By the mid 1990s the Astros organization was reborn around the "Killer B's" of Biggio, Bagwell, Derek Bell and Lance Berkman.  By 1997 the Astros were a regular contender.  In 2004 the Astros reached the NLCS for the first time since 1986 and in 2005, despite missing Jeff Bagwell, they reached the team's first ever World Series.  Although the Astros were swept by the White Sox every game was close.  Expecting a continuance of the post season runs, Astros fans were disappointed over the next few years.  Although Biggio could not lead the team back to the post season he did give the Astros fans one more big thrill as he reached 3000 hits during his final year, 2007.  4 times Biggio won player of the week.  He retired 5th all time in doubles, 6th in triples and 2nd in Hit by Pitch.  As much as Tony Gwynn is Mr. Padre, Craig Biggio is Mr. Astro.

The 2014 Hall of Fame class included Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, both big time post season pitchers.  Smoltz, Johnson and Pedro also proved to be big time post season winners.  Which Hall of Fame class had more post season wins?

Answer to Last Week's Question:
The 1985 All Star Game featured 16 future Hall of Famers (as of this writing).  On the American League side Henderson, Ripken, Winfield, Murray, Brett and Rice returned.  For the NL Gwynn, Sandberg, Carter and Smith returned. That made it a total of 10 returning All Stars.

Although there were six who did not return, Kirby Puckett, Wade Boggs and Mike Schmidt joined the Hall of Fame parade for 1986.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Forgotten All Star Moments: 1985 in Minnesota. Hall of Famers Everywhere.

The Baseball Eras blog has said this over and over again.  The only sport that gets the All Star Game right is baseball.  In Hockey, checking is taken out of the game meaning it becomes a different game all together.  In Football's Pro-Bowl, there are no blitzes and no defensive stunts leading to few defensive stops and an unbelievably boring exhibition of a normally exciting sport that turns into basically a 2 hand touch game.  In basketball the rules don't change but the players turn the game into a slam dunk contest with little semblance of an actual set offense.  Baseball's All Star Game understands that the point of this is not to punish the stars of the game by making them spend their three day break by playing one more game.  The point of the All Star Game is to give an exhibition of the best aspects of the entire sport.

One of the best rules that baseball has as part of this game is that every team in the league must be represented on the team.  Now, there are some that will argue this rule as taking up roster spots from those who are deserving.  I certainly understand that argument, however, every team has at least one deserving representative.  Regardless of how bad that team is there is always someone of All Star caliber.  Just because he is not as obviously deserving as your favorite player who was  "snubbed" does not mean he is not worthy of it.  You can use for an example the 1972 Phillies.  A truly terrible team that went 59-97.  That team used a total of 16 pitchers during the year.  Of those pitchers only three pitchers won 5 or more games.  Only  three others managed four wins.  That means ten pitchers on the staff managed 2 or less victories.  Still, Steve Carlton managed 27 wins for the year.  So although that team was ridiculously bad, Carlton definitely deserved to make an All Star Appearance.

Because of this rule,the fact that the All Star Game is intended to be a microcosm of one season and because you can never tell how some one's career will progress, you don't always get a list of Hall of Fame members on a team.

Yet in the 1985 All Star Game there was a Hall of Fame player everywhere you looked.  Of course there were those who did not make the Hall of Fame on the teams but even many of those still spark some pretty strong debate over whether they should be enshrined.

Here is a look at the starting lineups for the game:
American League                                                National League
Rickey Henderson, CF (Yankees, HOF)              Tony Gwynn, LF (Padres, HOF)
Lou Whitaker, 2B (Tigers, HOF snub)                Tommy Herr, 2B (Cardinals)
George Brett, 3B (Royals, HOF)                         Steve Garvey, 1B (Padres, HOF snub)
Eddie Murray, 1B (Orioles, HOF)                       Dale Murphy, CF (Braves, HOF snub)
Cal Ripken, SS (Orioles HOF)                            Darryl Strawberry, RF (Mets, Possible HOF)
Dave Winfield, RF (Yankees, HOF)                   Graig Nettles, 3B (Padres, HOF snub)
Jim Rice, LF (Red Sox, HOF)                             Terry Kennedy, C (Padres)
Carlton Fisk, C (White Sox, HOF)                      Ozzie Smith, SS (Cardinals, HOF)
Jack Morris, P (Tigers, HOF snub)                     Lamar Hoyt, P (Padres)

The 1985 All Star Game was played in Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. This was the second time Minnesota had hosted the game. The team first hosted the mid summer classic back in 1965 when the first place Twins would eventually win the American League Pennant.  The Twins fans got a sneak preview of their final painful memory of that year when Sandy Koufax got the win in the Midsummer Classic.  In Game 7 of the 1965 World Series, in the same stadium, Koufax would end the Twins' Championship hopes with a masterpiece performance.  1985 Twins fans were reminded of that immediately when Koufax and Harmon Killebrew were announced as the honorary team captains.

The Hall of Fame resumes started at the very top of both teams.  Managing the National League was Dick Williams.  Williams had guided the 1967 Red Sox to the World Series, won two World Series with Oakland and had taken the Padres to the World Series in 1984 which was his sixth overall appearance in the post season and at only half a game out of first it looked like he was headed for a seventh.  Williams was the first manager to lead four different teams to the post season.  Williams was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2008.  In the other dugout was Sparky Anderson, manager of the Tigers.  Sparky had just finished beating Williams and the Padres in the World Series.  He would one up Williams in history as well with seven post season appearances as a manager.  He led the 1984 Tigers to their first World Series since 1968.  It was Sparky's Third World Series title (1975 and 1976 with the Reds).  Anderson was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2000.

Of the two starting catchers one would be a Hall of Famer.  Terry Kennedy would make four All Star teams and two World Series teams (1984 Padres and 1989 Giants) but obviously was not a Hall of Fame player, and in fact his throwing error in the first inning of the game allowed Rickey Henderson to steal second, advance to third and eventually score.  The Hall of Fame Catcher starting the game was Carlton Fisk.  Fisk made 11 All Star Games, won the 1972 Rookie of the Year, retired as the all time leader in Home Runs by a Catcher (since passed by Mike Piazza).  Fisk was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2000 along with Sparky Anderson.  Fisk would get two at bats in the game and go 0-2.

The AL's First Baseman was a clear Hall of Famer when he retired.  The 1977 Rookie of the Year made 8 All Star Games, finished his career with 3255 hits, 504 Home Runs (one of only three players, along with Mays and Aaron, to reach both milestones).  He holds the record for most games played at First Base and played on four playoff teams, winning a World Series with the 1983 Orioles. Eddie Murray's power was feared by every pitcher in the league and as a switch hitter holds the record for most times homering from both sides of the plate in the same game. In this game he would go 0-3. Murray was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2003.   His opposing number was Steve Garvey, representing the Padres. Garvey was in his 10th and final All Star appearance.  He had also won an MVP, won four straight Gold Gloves, set the record for the most consecutive games played by a National League player and had almost single handed put the Padres in the World Series, earning NLCS MVP honors.  Garvey is not in the Hall of Fame but that is a discussion for a future series.

Second Base was one of only two positions that did not have a Hall of Fame player on either team.  Tommy Herr represented the Cardinals for the National League and Lou Whitaker  represented the Tigers for the American League.  Herr was in his first and only All Star appearance.  He was well respected in the league but injuries limited his productivity.  Vin Scully pointed out during the broadcast that Herr had already had three knee surgeries.  The Cardinals had won the 1982 World Series thanks in large part to Herr's contributions and he would help greatly in their 1985 and 1987 World Series runs. Herr would double and score a run in the game.  Lou Whitaker is a different story.  Lou would win the 1978 Rookie of the Year and make five All Star Games.  He also won 3 Gold Gloves.  Lou did not get elected to the Hall of Fame but like Garvey should get more consideration.  Lou went 0-2 in the game but he did get recognized for one odd reason.  He had forgotten to pack his uniform for the game so he borrowed some Minnesota Twins uniform pants, bought a replica Tigers jersey from the souvenir stand and had the equipment staff use a sharpie to draw the number 1 on the back.  Whitaker helped the Tigers win the World Series in 1984 and reach the ALCS in 1987.  Whitaker would retire following the 1995 season and in his only appearance on a Hall of Fame ballot received 2.9% of the votes.

Both starting Shortstops would reach the Hall of Fame and would each be considered among the greatest in history at their position.  Ozzie Smith was arguably the greatest defensive Short Stop the game would ever know.  Smith won 12 Gold Gloves and made 15 All Star Games.  He defined the position of Short Stop as the small, quick, light hitting defensive wizard.  Although not known for the bat, Smith was a few months away from hitting one of the most famous Home Runs in Postseason history.  On the opposite side of the field was the opposite of Smith.  Cal Ripken changed the definition of a Short Stop.  He was tall, powerful, good with the bat.  When he debuted as a Short Stop the critics said Ripken wouldn't last a month.  His size was supposed to be a danger to him.  He surely would get crushed by a runner trying to break up a double play.  But Ripken would say at Short Stop and would set all kinds of records, including most consecutive games played.  By the time he retired Ripken would win the 1982 Rookie of the Year, two MVP awards, a World Series, 8 silver sluggers, 19 All Star appearances (including 2 All Star Game MVPs), 2 Gold Gloves (although he should have won more) and set records for the most consecutive seasons by a Short Stop with 20 or more Home Runs, most consecutive innings played, most consecutive errorless games played by a Short Stop and in the end he opened the door for players like Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez to be viewed as legitimate Short Stop possibilities.  Smith was an obvious choice for the Hall of Fame in 2002 and Ripken reached it in 2007.

At Third Base for the AL was George Brett.  Viewed as a legitimate threat to hit .400, he had chased that number in 1980, and without doubt the best third baseman in the game.    Brett had been a rookie in 1974 and within a few years he was leading the Royals to their first post season appearance.  They would be a regular participant in October during Brett's tenure (1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1984 and 1985) and Brett was a key in their only World Series win in 1985.  He won an MVP, 13 All Star appearances and a reputation of one of the best hitters in history.  Brett reached the Hall of Fame in 1999.  For the National League at the hot corner was Graig Nettles.  A key, but terribly under rated piece of the Yankees dynasty from 1976-1981, Nettles would make six All Star Games, win 2 gold gloves and helped the Padres to their first World Series.  Nettles is not in the Hall of Fame but could be.

The American League Outfield was nothing but Hall of Fame talent.  Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice were the best of the best.  Between the three of them there were 30 All Star Games, 2 MVPs, 8 Gold Gloves, 11 Silver Sluggers, 12 Stolen Base titles, 3 Home Run Titles, 3 RBI titles, 12 post season appearances and 3 World Series titles.  Winfield was inducted in 2001.  Henderson and Rice would enter the Hall of Fame together in 2009.

The National League Outfield had one Hall of Famer, one player who should be in the Hall and another who had as much talent as anyone in the history of the game.  Starting in Center Field was Tony Gwynn, Mr. Padre.  Gwynn was a clear first ballot Hall of Fame player with 8 batting titles, 15 All Star appearances, 5 Gold Gloves and a chase of .400 that was ended at .394 because of the baseball strike.  In Right Field was Darryl Strawberry, who in 1985 was still seen as the future of the game with an endless supply of potential yet to be fulfilled.  At this point of his career the Hall of Fame was being discussed as though it was a foregone conclusion but it would not come to be.  Strawberry's personal issues led to a down fall that took numbers away from the prime years of his career.  Strawberry's troubled life stood in contrast to the Left Field Starter for the National League, Dale Murphy.  Murphy did not drink or smoke and was considered the poster boy of clean living.   Murphy would make 7 All Star Teams, win two MVP awards, 5 times win a Gold Glove  and led the league in Home Runs.

Starting on the mound for the American League was Jack Morris, the man who would win more games in the 1980s than any other pitcher.  It should be obvious that this man needs to be in the Hall of Fame but for some reason he is not.  His counterpart on this day was never truly considered for the Hall of Fame but he was certainly the deserving starter for the National League in 1985.  LaMarr Hoyt had come to the Padres in the off season from the White Sox in  a trade that sent Luis Salazar, Tim Stoddard and a young Short Stop named Ozzie Guillen to Chicago.  Hoyt had been the ace of the White Sox AL West Champion 1983 squad but rumors of drug use helped him out of town.  The White Sox may have regretted that decision because Hoyt came into the game having won his last 10 straight games. Hoyt would continue his great season going three innings in Minnesota, allowing only two hits and one unearned run to earn the victory and the All Star Game MVP.

So of the 18 men in starting positions, only 3 (Tommy Herr, Terry Kennedy, Lamar Hoyt) would not be considered Hall of Fame candidates.  5 (Steve Garvey, Graig Nettles, Dale Murphy, Lou Whitaker and Jack Morris) deserve further consideration by the Hall of Fame, 1 (Darryl Strawberry) had Hall of Fame potential but lost that chance for reasons outside the game.  That puts 9 of the starters in the Hall of Fame (Gwynn, Smith, Henderson, Brett, Murray, Ripken, Winfield, Rice and Fisk).

But the talent didn't end there.  Of course, like Tommy Herr there would be players on these teams who were in their one and only All Star Games (or maybe two) and being rewarded for a great season.  These included:
Ernie Whitt, C Blue Jays,
Damaso Garcia, 2B, Blue Jays (this was actually his second All Star Game),
Scott Garrelts, P, Giants;
Ron Darling, P, Mets,
Glenn Wilson, OF, Phillies,
Phil Bradley, OF, Mariners,
Jay Howell, P, A's (he would make three total All Star Games),
Tom Brunansky, OF, Twins,
Gary Ward, OF Rangers (would make two All Star Games,
Dan Petry, P Tigers,
Willie Hernandez, P, Tigers (he would make three All Star Games),
Donnie Moore, P, Angels,
Ozzie Virgil, C, Phillies (he made two total All Star Games)

Each bench had a group of players who were never truly Hall of Fame candidates but during their playing time they were considered among the best in the business.  These players were constantly considered All Star players or MVP candidates.  This group included:
Tony Pena, C, Cardinals (5 time All Star, 4 Gold Gloves),
Jack Clark, 1B, Cardinals (4 time All Star, 2 time Silver Slugger, part of two Cardinals World Series teams),
Tim Wallach, 3B, Expos (5 time All Star, 3 Gold Gloves),
Willie McGee, OF, Cardinals (4 time All Star, MVP, 3 Gold Gloves).
Jose Cruz, OF, Astros (2 time All Star, 3 times top ten MVP candidate, 7 times batted over .300); Pedro Guerrero, OF, Dodgers (5 time All Star, World Series MVP);
Gary Templeton, SS, Padres (3 time All Star, 2 time Silver Slugger),
Joaquin Andujar, P, Cardinals (4 time All Star),
Dwight Gooden, P, Mets (4 time All Star, Cy Young Winner, Ace of two Mets playoff teams);
Jeff Reardon, P, Expos (4 time All Star, saved over 350 games),
Fernando Valenzuela, P, Dodgers (6 time All Star, 1981 Cy Young, 1981 Rookie of the Year);
Cecil Cooper, 1B, Brewers (5 time All Star, 2 time Gold Glove Winner, 3 times finished in top 5 MVP voting).
Rich Gedman, C, Rd Sox (2 time All Star),
Lance Parrish, C, Tigers (8 time All Star, 4 time Gold Glove winner),
Harold Baines, OF, White Sox (6 time All Star),
Jimmy Key, P, Blue Jays (4 time All Star, 2 time World Series Champion),
Dave Stieb, P, Blue Jays (6 time All Star).

Then of course each bench had those who are still receiving support as potential Hall of Famers:
Tim Raines, OF, Expos (7 time All Star, 3 times top 10 MVP, 4 times led the NL in steals),
Dave Parker, OF, Reds (7 time All Star, 1981 All Star MVP, 1979 NL MVP, 3 Gold Gloves, 3 Silver Sluggers, 2 time batting champ),
Don Mattingly, 1B, Yankees (6 time All Star, 6 Gold Gloves, 3 time Silver Slugger, 1984 Batting Champion, 1985 MVP),
Alan Trammell, SS, Tigers, (6 time All Star, 4 Gold Gloves, 1984 World Series MVP) and
Pete Rose, 1B, Reds.  No explanation needed there.

Finally, the amazing collection of talent on the bench included quite a few Hall of Fame members as well:
Ryne Sandberg, 2B, Cubs (2005),
Gary Carter, C, Mets (2003),
Rich Gossage, RP, Padres (2008),
Nolan Ryan, P, Astros (1999),
Wade Boggs, 3B, Red Sox (2005),
Paul Molitor, 3B, Brewers (2004)
Bert Blyleven, P, Indians (2011).

Of course by definition the All Star Game is designed to collect the greatest talent but in 1985 it certainly seemed like one of the best collections.

Of the 16 Hall of Fame Players mentioned in the 1985 All Star Game (Henderson, Brett, Murray, Ripken, Winfield, Rice, Fisk, Gwynn, Smith, Sandberg, Carter, Gossage, Ryan, Boggs, Molitor and Blyleven) how many made the 1986 All Star Game?

Answer to Last Week's Question:
J.R. Richard won a total of 107 career games for the Houston Astros ranking him 5th all time.  He finished one game ahead of Nolan Ryan and two ahead of his good friend Don Wilson.  You might wonder who finished ahead of him.  Here is the Houston top 10 in Wins:
1 Joe Niekro (144)
2 Roy Oswalt (143)
3 Larry Dierker (137)
4 Mike Scott (110)
5 J.R. Richard (107)
6 Nolan Ryan (106)
7 Don Wilson (104)
8 Shane Reynolds (103)
9 Bob Knepper (93)
10 Wandy Rodriguez (80)