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Archive for February, 2007

Santo Narrowly Misses as Baseball Hall of Fame Veteran’s Committee Vote Comes Up Blank

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

                    Ron Santo              Ron Santo

Former Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo, with lifetime career stats of 342 homers, 2254 hits, a lifetime .277 batting average and numerous gold glove awards narrowly missed becoming inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in the veteran’s committee bi-annual segment of the voting which took place on Tuesday.

Santo just missed the 75% threshhold, polling 69.5 percent of the ballots cast.

The Hall of Fame’s website reports on the Veteran’s Committee vote;

Former Cubs third baseman Ron Santo led all candidates on the Player Ballot with 57 votes, totaling 69.5 percent of all ballots cast. Umpire Doug Harvey led all Composite Ballot nominees with 52 votes, 64.2 percent of the tally.

With 82 of 84 (97.6%) ballots cast for the Player Ballot, 62 votes were necessary to meet the 75% standard for election. Eighty-one of 84 (96.4%) ballots were cast for the Composite Ballot (managers, executives and umpires), with 61 needed to earn Hall of Fame election.’s report on the election includes a chart with all of the voting results.

In looking at the players on the ballot, it seems incredulous that Santo didn’t make it.  Similarly, it is eye-opening how many other great major leaguers of the past 50 years didn’t even come near the threshhold.

Of particular note in missing the Hall on the vote were;

Former lefthanded Pitcher Jim Kaat, a 25 year veteran who had a number of great seasons with the Minnesota Twins (including 25-13, ERA 2.75, 19 CC in 1966) and two 20 game winning seasons with the Chicago White Sox.

Former Dodgers first baseman and 18 year veteran Gil Hodges who hit 370 homers in his career and who from 1949 to 1959 drove in at least 80 runs a season with the exception of 1958 when he drove in 64.  The Dodgers teams he was on went to the world series  in 1949, 1953, 1953 and 1956.  Hodges finished out his career by playing two partial seasons on the Mets.

Former Twins outfielder Tony Oliva who won 3 batting titles led the AL in hits 5 times.

Former Dodgers infielder Maury Wills who stole 586 bases in 14 seasons, a 73.8% success rate, including 104 thefts in 1962 and 94 thefts in 1965 and who finished with a lifetime .281 batting average.  Wills spent the 1967 and 1968 seasons with the Pirates and part of 1969 with the Montreal Expos before returning to the Dodgers through 1972 to finish out his career.

Former pitcher Don Newcombe who played 10 seasons, 7 of them with the  Dodgers, and who won 17 games or more in each of 5 seasons, 3 seasons winning 20 or more games including a phenomenal 27-7, 3.06 ERA in the 1956 season.  Newcombe pitched in the both the 1949 and 1956 World Series.  He retired in 1960.

Former Braves and Cardinals catcher and infielder Joe Torre, with a lifetime .297 batting average played 18 seasons, 9 of them with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, 6 with the St. Louis Cardinals, including  1971 when he led the NL with a .363 BA and with most hits; 230.  He finished his career with 2 seasons and a part of a 3rd with the New York Mets.  He has managed the Yankees since 1995.  

Chicago Tribune staff writer Paul Sullivan reports on reactions by the Cubs to Santo’s near miss;

Santo was too distraught to talk to the media, and his good friend and former teammate, Billy Williams, said he probably was devastated by the news.

“I felt sorry for him because he was so looking forward to getting the call,” Williams said. “I felt really good about it this year. I talked to Ernie [Banks] yesterday and I think everybody who was involved [wanted it to happen]. Maybe we were a little partial to him because we were teammates, but I really thought with the credentials he had, he was deserving.”Santo was followed in the voting on the players’ ballot by former pitcher Jim Kaat, who garnered 52 votes (63.4 percent). Former Dodgers first baseman Gil Hodges finished third with 50 votes (61 percent), while former Twins outfielder Tony Oliva was fourth with 47 votes (57.3 percent). The candidate getting the most votes on the composite ballot, featuring managers, umpires and executives, was former ump Doug Harvey with 52 votes.

Though no one has been voted into the Hall by the Veterans Committee in the three years it has held a vote—2003, 2005 and 2007—Hall of Fame Chairman Jane Forbes Clark said “we feel strongly the process is open and fair.”

But Clark also said the voting process will be re-evaluated on March 13 because no one has been elected under the new system, which replaced a committee that was composed primarily of a select group of baseball writers.

Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan said it was unfair to criticize the Veterans Committee for not voting anyone in because “the writers voted on these guys 15 years without any of them being elected.” Morgan was referring to voting by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, which gives players up to 15 years on the ballot to receive the 75 percent vote total required.

Morgan disputed the notion that the Hall of Famers who are currently voting aren’t studying the candidate’s credentials.

“The players did their due diligence,” Morgan said.

Santo tried to downplay his feelings about the voting last week, but added: “Let’s be honest, I want this badly, mainly because [the voting] is every two years. To me, two years, because of what I have with the diabetes and [getting] older, it’s like eternity. If I do get in, I’d like to enjoy it.”

Santo, who turned 67 on Sunday, said he’s not interested in gaining the honor posthumously. In 2005 he tied for first on the ballot with the late Hodges with 52 votes, but was still eight votes shy of induction. In ’03 he placed third on the ballot with 46 votes, behind Hodges and Oliva.

Williams was puzzled as to why Santo keeps coming close and missing out. Asked if Santo’s heel-clicking celebrations during the 1969 season had any bearing on the voters, Williams replied: “I don’t know. I hope not. I hope they look at it from the standpoint of what he did in the game of baseball. I know a lot of players in the Hall of Fame don’t look at that.”

Cubs manager Lou Piniella said Santo was worthy of induction and was disappointed when told Santo was denied entrance once again.

“Santo was a dominant player at his position for a long, long time, an All-Star and a Gold Glover and a great ambassador for the game of baseball,” he said. “It’s a shame he just fell short.”

The entire Cubs family shared in Santo’s disappointment. Mark Prior may have put it best Monday when asked how Santo would handle it if he didn’t make it this year.

“Ron’s pretty resilient,” Prior said. “The city has obviously embraced him as one of their own. He’ll get over it. … He’s deserving of the honor, and it will be an awesome day to see him up there giving that speech at Cooperstown.”

The next vote is scheduled for February 2009. Williams believes the Hall of Fame will revise the voting procedure to ensure there won’t be a repeat of the last three ballots. Some believe voting should take place every year instead of every two years.

“That might be a good question that the committee is going to look at again,” Williams said. “Every two years is a long time.”

Googling for Baseball Prospects

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

Inquirer Columnist Phil Sheridan reports from Phillies training camp in Clearwater that the team has discovered a new scouting tool.

                           Baseball Blogger

For those of us in baseball blogosphere, this story is too good to pass by.

While other teams’ scouts look for talent in all conceivable places; Japan, Latin America, on the local sandlots, etc., the Phils may be the first MLB team to have googled a player.

Here’s more from Sheridan’s report;

The story begins in October, when Phillies general manager Pat Gillick hired a scout named Mal Fichman, who specializes in finding overlooked players in the independent leagues. Fichman, himself a longtime independent league manager, used to run an annual tryout camp for the San Diego Padres.

The Padres signed 145 players out of those camps over the years, 17 of whom made it to the big leagues. On Saturday and yesterday, Fichman ran the first of his camps for the Phillies, who signed four pitchers out of the 75 players invited.

“It’s a creative way to find players,” Phillies assistant GM Mike Arbuckle said. “There are a fair number of guys that have seen big-league time after coming out of the independent leagues.”

The Phillies have several, including Jamie Moyer and Chris Coste. As organized and thorough as professional teams are in scouring for talent, some players slip through the nets.

Fichman knows how to find them, even if it takes a search engine.

As he was gathering names from his friends and colleagues around the country, Fichman heard about a lefthanded pitcher who dazzled at a tryout camp for the new South Coast League. The problem was, he had no idea how to contact the kid.

“Someone sent me an e-mail about him,” Fichman said. “I’m not very good with computers.”

So Karen Cope, Fichman’s friend and neighbor in Boise, Idaho, Googled the name. She came up with a phone number in Englewood, Fla. Fichman called, found out the pitcher was working out in Warren, Ohio, and got a cell phone number for him.

And that’s how Jake Ociesa wound up in Clearwater Saturday morning.

To read more about young pitcher Jake Ociesa, click here.

Spring Training: “Around the Horn”

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

With the first spring training exhibition games set to begin on Wednesday, this blog is checking out the news at some of the training camps.

                     Bobby Abreu

In Tampa, the Yankees are reporting that right fielder Bobby Abreu, obtained from the Phillies at the end of July, 2006, could miss a few weeks of exhibition play, according to Yanks manager Joe Torre, after having suffered a strained right oblique muscle.  For the Yanks, it looks like more training at-bats for outfielders Melky Cabrera, Kevin Thompson and Kevin Reese while free agent outfielder Bernie Williams apparently remains out in the cold.

Apparently Yanks GM Brian Cashman does not share Torre’s assessment of
of Abreu’s strain.’s Bryan Hoch reports;

“He had a significant oblique strain, and it could be timely,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “I know Joe said two weeks, and I’ll probably say three weeks. But we’ll see. It could be one week.”

Torre said that Opening Day is not considered to be in jeopardy for Abreu, who batted .330 with seven home runs and 42 RBIs in 58 games for New York last season after being acquired from the Phillies on July 30.

“You’re happy that it happened at this juncture because you do have time,” Torre said. “The only thing he’s going to have to do is basically keep his sanity and keep in shape. He’s going to be limited on what he can do, conditioning-wise.”

Cashman was less optimistic, saying that he could envision a situation in which Abreu was not ready for the Yankees’ April 2 opener against Tampa Bay. That would be a “worst-case scenario,” however, with Abreu returning to action too late to round into regular-season form.

“If it was going to happen, you’d rather it happen on Feb. 26 than June 26, or March 26,” Cashman said. “Right now, I know where he’s going to be spending his days.”

Abreu is expected back to the team’s complex on Tuesday, but will be limited over the next few weeks to simple cardiovascular exercises, such as riding a stationary bicycle. He will be unable to throw or swing a bat, which will put his readiness behind the Yankees’ active outfielders.

“The only bad part about this is that you basically shut down,” Torre said.

In the spring training home of the Washington Nationals, Viera, Fla., things are not all fire and brimstone or  head to the grindstone as the Nationals prepare to try to make a dent in the NL East.

Washington Post staff writer Barry Svrluga relates a human interest story;

                             Robert Fick

Each morning when Robert Fick walks into the clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium — shades covering his eyes, hat cocked a bit sideways on his head, Starbucks in his hand — the rest of the Washington Nationals brace for whatever might follow.

“Look at him, right now,” reliever Ray King said Saturday. “He looks like he’s ready to do something silly.”

Such is Fick’s reputation, a 32-year-old cross between class clown and traffic cop. His stream of jokes is endless, his wit biting, his boundaries nonexistent and, as King said, “no one’s off limits.”

But what the Nationals don’t know about Fick is that right now, this is all just an escape. Jokes, baseball, hanging with the guys. “This isn’t life,” Fick said. “This is a game.”

two weeks ago, as he closed the door to his Southern California home and headed east for spring training, Fick had just one inescapable thought.

“I’m probably never going to see my mom again,” he said Saturday. “She’s probably going to die.”

Gloria Fick is 75. She is stricken with lung cancer. She doesn’t leave her home in Thousand Oaks, Calif., has a portable oxygen machine, eats little more than grapes and carrot juice, has refused chemotherapy and radiation and surgery and, her son said, believes she is going to beat the disease. A year ago, she was told she had two months to live. She is still here.

“The doctors are amazed,” said Robert’s older brother, Joe. “She really thinks she can trick the disease.”

Unbeknownst to the rest of the clubhouse, he is now an example of how to keep his personal travails from affecting anyone else. “I don’t need anybody’s sympathy,” he said.

“I wish all mothers could have this,” Gloria Fick said. “He’s a great kid. You’ve always been there for them, but when you need them, they’re there for you.”

Robert has been through this once before, when he was coming up through the Detroit Tigers’ system. His father, Charles, had been sick most of Robert’s life, beginning with open heart surgery six months before Robert was born, continuing with the insertion of nine pacemakers into his chest. But in the summer of 1998, Charlie Fick’s youngest kid made his way to the majors. A gang of perhaps 20 Ficks — Charlie included — made its way to Kansas City for Robert’s second series as a big leaguer.

Charlie Fick was so ill he was afforded use of a private elevator and had to be carried to his seat at Kauffman Stadium. That night, Sept. 21, Robert hit his first major league home run, his dad looking on. The following night, he hit another.

“It wasn’t his only dream for his son to play in the big leagues,” Fick said. “But he sure did want that for one of his boys.”

By Thanksgiving, Charlie Fick was dead. Robert was 24. Now, all his bats, all his gloves, bear the word “Charlie.” “He was my best friend in the world,” Fick said.

Now, he feels as if he is preparing to lose another friend. Because he is gone nine months of the year, because his brothers and sisters have families to tend to, he said he felt the offseason was “my turn” to take care of Gloria.

“I would tell her every day,” he said, “‘There isn’t anywhere in this world I’d rather be than here with you.’ . . .

“My mom raised eight kids. I know everybody says they have the best mom in the whole world, but my mom has set the best example my whole life. Now, she’s setting this example when she’s dying. Dude, it’s unbelievable how tough she is and how disciplined she is, the way she’s fighting it.

“Most people would quit. She really thinks she’s going to get better.”

The din in the clubhouse continued in the background. Robert Fick — catcher, comedian, caretaker — continued to speak quietly.

“I don’t know if that’s the case,” he said. “It wears on me every day.”

In Port St. Lucie, the Mets apparently have found a new dimension to outfielder Lastings Milledge’s game.’s Marty Noble reports;

                                 Lastings Milledge

The Mets still can swing the bats. The offseason has not changed that, evidenced by developments in the first intrasquad game Monday. Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes hit home runs — Reyes’ came with two runners on base — in a 5 1/2-inning dress rehearsal for the first exhibition game Wednesday.

The most eye-catching play, though, had nothing to do with offense. Lastings Milledge, playing right field, made a brilliant throw in the third inning to catch pinch-runner Fernando Martinez trying to advance from first to third on a single by Shawn Green. Milledge charged the ball and from medium right field made a low, pinpoint, one-bounce throw to David Wright at third, the kind of throw seldom seen in recent Mets seasons.

Manager Willie Randolph said Milledge’s arm isn’t his best tool, and Milledge agreed.

“I hit. I’m here to hit,” he said, aware that any team will make room for a hitter; not so for a guy with an arm.

But his throw is what stood out most on Monday.

Milledge made a few strong throws last season, but none that he or anyone else recalled with the “carry” he demonstrated on Monday. The strength of the throw, he said, was the result of his daily work with coaches Jerry Manuel and Howard Johnson.

Milledge, a right-handed thrower, explained that his technique deteriorated two years ago. He began throwing from a different arm slot, i.e., a different arm angle, and with his left shoulder opening too early and too wide. His throws began to sail.

“I was putting my body in an awkward position,” he said. “It’s like I was throwing around my body.”

With input from Manuel, who helped Cliff Floyd make dramatic improvement in his throwing in 2005, Milledge has concentrated more on technique and essentially forced his arm into the proper slot by throwing an oversized, weighted ball against a small trampoline in the clubhouse and throwing repeatedly off a mound.

“The heavy ball makes your arm go to it’s natural angle,” Milledge said, “and if you repeat it enough times, you develop muscle memory.”

Throwing may not be what Milledge does best. But he does it well enough to be the strongest right field arm the Mets have developed since Darryl Strawberry. And he likes to throw.

“When you can throw,” Milledge said, “you can control the damage.”

And finally, from Phillies training camp in Clearwater, the debate about the #5 spot in the Phils lineup goes on.  For previous posts on this debate,  click here and here.  Personally, I find the idea of leading off with Shane Victorino, batting Jimmy Rollins #5 behind NL MVP Ryan Howard and moving Pat Burrell to the 6th slot intriguing.  In my humble opinion, it may be worth trying during spring training where the games don’t count.  

                    Ryan Howard            Pat Burrell          

But despite all of the statistical mumbo jumbo, Burrell remaains in the #5 slot, at least at present.   Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports for MSN;

For the Phillies, that guy remains Burrell, a walking statistical contradiction, and thus the perfect symbol of this complex debate.

Burrell’s critics point to his .167 batting average with two outs and runners in scoring position last season as proof that he is incapable of protecting Howard. Yet, Burrell finished with 29 homers, 95 RBIs and an .890 on-base/slugging percentage even in a trying season. And, in 22 plate appearances after a Howard walk, his OPS zoomed to 1.356.

Those numbers, along with Burrell’s overall track record, suggest that he should be given another shot to hit behind Howard. But so many other factors will help determine how Howard is pitched.

Howard points out the importance of the three hitters in front of him — Rollins, Shane Victorino and Chase Utley — getting on base. His manager, Charlie Manuel, says the sixth hitter, most likely center fielder Aaron Rowand or third baseman  Wes Helms, also will play an important role.

Baseball History: Past and Contemporary

Monday, February 26th, 2007

February 25th and 26th mark two baseball events of some moment.

                    Steve Carlton             Rick Wise

Thirty-five years ago, on February 25, 1972 the Phillies and the St. Louis Cardinals consumated the momentus trade which brought Lefty Steve Carlton to the Phillies in exchange for righthander Rick Wise.

Carlton went on to amass 241 wins, including a 27-10, 1.97 ERA 1972 record for a team which won a mere 59 games, 4 subsequent 20 win seasons and 4 Cy Young awards in leading the Phillies to contention between 1974 and 1983 including 5 division championships, 2 NL pennants, 2 world series appearances in 1980 and in 1983 and a World Championship (in 1980).

Wise, on the other hand, went 16-12 in 1973 leading the Cards to a tight 2nd place finish, 1 1/2 games behind the Mets who went on to lose the  world series to the Oakland Athletics 4 games to 3.  In 1975, after going to the Boston Red Sox, he led the pitching staff with a 19-12 mark joining  Luis Tiant and Bill Lee in leading the Red Sox to the world series which they lost by 4 games to 3 to the Cincinnati Reds.

           Alou      Steve Bartman     Alou

On February 26, 2004, the infamous ball interfered with by Cubs’ fan Steve Bartmen in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS with the Florida Marlins was exploded “an attempt to exorcise the curse that has kept the Cubs from reaching the  World Series since 1945.

Baseball reference writes on that series and the incident;

 2003 Postseason

  • NL Division Series (3-2) Cubs (NLC) over Braves (NLE)
  • NL Division Series (3-1) Marlins (WC) over Giants (NLW)
  • NL Championship Series (4-3) Marlins over Cubs
  • World Series (4-2) Marlins over Yankees

Steve Bartman is the Chicago Cubs fan who interfered with a foul fly ball that Moises Alou was attempting to catch with one out in the 8th inning of Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS on October 14, 2003 (Boxscore). The Cubs ended up losing the game and the series to the Florida Marlins. The Cubs were ahead 3-0 at the time, but proceeded to squander the lead following this play, thanks mostly to an error by shortstop Alex Gonzalez. While Alou would have had a chance to make the catch, it would have been a stellar play by him and by no means a sure thing; in any case, Bartman’s intervention prevented Alou from having any shot at the ball. The Marlins went on to score 8 runs during the inning to put the game away, while FOX repeatedly showed Bartman during the broadcast. He was forced to leave the game early out of fear for his safety. He has not returned to Wrigley Field since despite being an avid Cubs fan all of his life.

                 Jeb Bush

Florida Governor Jeb Bush offered Bartman asylum in Florida following the series.

Berra, Larsen Finally See Telecast of Larsen’s World Series Perfect Game

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

                Don Larsen        Berra and Larsen       Yogi Berra

After over 50 years in the record books former Yankees battery-mates, catcher Yogi Berra and pitcher Don Larsen finally got to view Larsen’s 1956 World Series perfect game, the only such masterpiece in major league baseball World Series annals.  They had never previously viewed the game.

An Associated Press report for ESPN explains how film of this great baseball highlight finally came to light after being missing for decades;

For decades, it was also considered one of the few images that survived from that day — black-and-white highlight reels of the last inning were common, but footage from the original broadcast of the entire game was assumed to be lost forever.

Then, an Illinois sports film collector revealed last year that in the early 1990s he had acquired a kinescope of the television broadcast that featured all but the first inning of Game 5 between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Yankees.

“I’m anxious to see it,” Berra said Thursday. “I want to hear the play-by-play, see the commercials. It got a lot of reaction from people, it was amazing. A lot of them said they saw it and want to see it again.”

Tickets, priced at $300 each, sold out “in a hurry,” according to David Kaplan, the museum’s director. Nostalgia buffs are coming from as far away as Seattle and Kansas City, he said. A portion of the ticket sales will go to the museum and to the Don Larsen Foundation, which donates to several charities, including the ALS Association.

The evening will begin with a baseball-style buffet, followed by the game and then a question-and-answer session with Larsen, Berra and Wolff.

The broadcast found its way into Ewing’s hands via a circuitous path.

According to Ewing, an Alaska man acquired the recording while serving in the armed forces overseas. It was a common practice in the 1950s for the networks to send kinescopes — made by using a movie camera to film a television broadcast directly off the screen — of the World Series to U.S. forces to watch, with the condition that they be destroyed afterward.

The Larsen game managed to survive and from Alaska made its way to an Oregon flea market, where a collector noticed it and notified Ewing.

Ewing, founder of Rare Sports Films Inc. of Naperville, Ill., didn’t show it publicly or reproduce it for fear of having it pirated, he said.

He said he has approached the major networks as well as YES, the Yankees’ television network, but has not reached a deal to have the game shown on TV.

“There’s interest and we’ve talked to him, but at this point we have nothing in place,” YES spokesman Eric Handler said Thursday.

In a later report for Yahoo sports, Associated Press writer David Porter gives an account of the Friday night viewing and festivities;

Along with a crowd of about 100 people Friday night that included former teammate Yogi Berra, the pitcher who owns the only perfect game in World Series history watched the television broadcast of the Oct. 8, 1956, game, courtesy of Illinois collector Doak Ewing.

“It ended the way I hoped it would,” Larsen cracked after the game ended and the audience whooped and hollered as if seeing it for the first time.

The black-and-white telecast originally aired on NBC and featured few camera angles, fewer commercials and little of the production values that are ingrained in modern-day baseball telecasts. Legendary broadcaster Mel Allen called the game along with a young Vin Scully.

“The game was two hours, with the commercials,” Berra said, adding, “I wish they did that now.”

The 77-year-old Larsen watched himself shut down a Brooklyn Dodgers lineup that included Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider and Carl Furillo, then strike out Dale Mitchell on a 1-and-2 count to end the game.

Larsen recalled how his teammates, cleaving to baseball superstition, refused to sit near him or talk to him in the final few innings.

“I didn’t believe in superstition,” he said. “I was more uncomfortable the last few innings because no one would talk to me or sit next to me. The only time I was happy was when I was on the mound.”

Superstitions played a role off the field as well. Bob Wolff, who did the national radio call, said he didn’t mention the perfect game for fear of meeting the same fate as announcer Red Barber in 1947, who repeatedly mentioned Floyd Bevens’ unfolding no-hitter only to see it broken up in the late innings.

“Gillette was the sponsor and they had received a lot of letters and telegrams from people complaining,” Wolff said. “Fear was my motivating factor; I wanted to work another World Series.”

Lioy’s son, Jason, traveled from Pittsburgh to see Friday’s broadcast, and neither he nor his father thought once of leaving early.

There were loud cheers when Mickey Mantle homered in the bottom of the fourth inning to give the Yankees the only run they would need, then ran down a liner by Gil Hodges; groans when Snider made a diving catch to rob Berra, and guffaws at  Roy Campanella’s wooden delivery of a promo for Gillette razors between innings.

Through it all, Larsen and Berra watched intently from different vantage points in the small auditorium.

“Whatever sign I put down, Don got it over,” Berra marveled. “He pitched a hell of a game.”

Larsen noticed himself on film reaching for the rosin bag more than he remembered in the later innings.

“I was very nervous out there,” he said. “I was probably doing that routine to keep myself comfortable.”

The earlier AP report concludes;

                                     Yogi Berra

Berra still recalls what he said to Larsen after the Yankees won the ’56 Series in seven games and Larsen was named MVP.

“I told him I could have won the car if he hadn’t pitched the no-hitter,” Berra said with a laugh. “But it was great.”

1945 All-Star Game Cancelled, Only Time in MLB History

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

              Fenway Park             Fenway Park         

    1945 All-Star Game Cancelled

Due to America’s top priority being the War effort against Germany and Japan, Baseball Library records that the Major League owners decided on February 22, 1945, to cancel the 1945 All-Star game scheduled to be played at Fenway Park in Boston on July 10.

Even after the cancellation‚ schedule-makers leave the dates of 9‚ 10 and 11 in case circumstances might change‚ permitting the game. In place of the All-star game‚ 8 simultaneous games pitting the NL vs. the AL are to be played. Seven are played‚ with the 8th being cancelled. Also approved is a rule change stating that a player needs 400 at bats to qualify for a batting title.

In a seperate entry for April 24, 1945, Baseball Library further records;

Approved is the Malaney Plan for interleague play‚ first brought up at the February meeting. Besides the same-city games‚ Cincinnati will play at Cleveland‚ Brooklyn at Washington‚ and Detroit at Pittsburgh. The latter contest will later be scrapped when the ODT refused to grant the Tigers permission to detour 62 miles to get to Pittsburgh. The seven benefit games will held on July 9 and 10.

Baseball Almanac records the cancellation of the All-Star game, the only such cancellation in MLB history, in more detail;

Initially, the entire season was in jeopardy as the American war effort against Japan was receiving full attention and resources. In February, a memo was sent out from the Office of Defense Transportation ensuring that the season could take place if all teams reduced their travel by twenty-five percent (as compared to the 1944 season). Like most of America, both the league and its fans agreed to sacrifice and the Midsummer Classic was one of the first events to go. Originally scheduled to take place in Boston at Fenway Park, the affair was the first All-Star Game to be cancelled since its inception in 1933. According to Ford C. Frick, president of the National League, cutting out the contest would bring a significant savings with approximately 500,000-less passenger miles spent.

As a replacement, eight simultaneous “inter-league” games were scheduled between the National and American Leagues to help raise money for the American Red Cross and War Relief efforts. These games included the New Yankees versus the Giants at the Polo Grounds, the Chicago Cubs versus the White Sox at Comiskey Park, the Cincinnati Reds versus the Cleveland Indians at Cleveland Stadium, the Brooklyn Dodgers versus the Washington Senators at Griffith Stadium, the St. Louis Cardinals versus the Browns at Sportsman’s Park, the Philadelphia Athletics versus the Phillies at Shibe Park and the Boston Braves versus the Red Sox at Fenway. 

The rosters for the 1945 All-Star Game are not considered official and the selections were made during an Associated Press poll in which thirteen of the sixteen managers participated (those who did not were Joe McCarthy of the Yankees and the two managers selected to manage the theoretical Midsummer Classic).

Baseball Almanac further records that ten players who were selected to the non-official All-Star rosters and who missed playing due to the cancellation had not been All-Stars previously and were never selected again.  Many of them had their only banner year in 1945. 

The ten were; pitchers Red Barrett and Russ Christopher, first baseman  Nick Etten, third baseman Oscar Grimes, pitcher Steve Gromek, infielder  Eddie Mayo, catchers Ken O’Dea and Mike Tresh, outfielder Goody Rosen and pitcher Hank Wyse.