Monthly Archives: October 2011

Vote: The 50 best players not in the Hall of Fame, 2011 edition

With the 2011 baseball officially in the books, it is my pleasure to announce the second year of my project on the 50 best baseball players not in the Hall of Fame.

I debuted this project last year (here’s how it came out) with a simple goal. Rather than have my rankings based on some all-powerful stat or my opinion, I decided to go in a different direction and determine the picks through votes from other baseball writers, fans, and anyone interested. Sixty three people voted on about two week’s notice, including yours truly, and the project was a rousing success. Making it an annual thing here was an easy decision.

I have Super Ballot 2011 ready to send out to anyone who leaves a comment here or emails me  at I invite anyone and everyone to vote, and I’ll link out in the results post to any baseball blogger who participates.

All this being said, please take a second to read the rules for this project. I can’t count any ballot that doesn’t adhere to them.


You must vote for 50 players: This was the biggest issue last year, so as we head into the second round of this project, let me reiterate. The point here isn’t to name 50 players who need to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame tomorrow or, conversely, to send in a 12-player ballot boldly proclaiming that only that many players belong. This project is about identifiying the 50 best players not in Cooperstown, whether they’re Hall-worthy or not. So please vote for 50 players. I will not count any final ballot with less (or more) than 50 players selected.

Please do not vote for anyone who’s played since the end of the 2006 season: We go with the same five-year waiting period that the Baseball Writers Association of America observes in its Hall of Fame voting each year. Other than that, any player in baseball history is fair game, with no restrictions on number of seasons played, whether the player is banned, or even if he made it to the majors.

Write-ins welcome: I’ve included nearly 400 players on this year’s ballot. That being said, roughly another 17,000 men have played in the majors and are not in the Hall of Fame. Please feel free to write in any player who hasn’t played in the last five years.

All votes due by December 1, 9 p.m. PST: No exceptions on this one. I will be rolling out the results after the Veterans Committee announces at the winter meetings in early December whether it will be enshrining anyone in 2012, and I need time to count votes and get the post ready.

I will not campaign for any player: I’d like for the results of this project to be as organic and independently-determined as possible. Thus, I will not advocate for any player being in the top 50. I also encourage anyone who votes to make their selections any way they please. Whether it’s relying on career stats, favoring peak value, looking toward members of particular eras, or going with some other method, it’s no worry to me how people vote. Definitions of what constituted a top 50 player varied among different voters last year, and I think it made for a more interesting final project.

New for this year’s project

“Does he belong in the HOF?” tab: Next to each of the 50 players selected, please put a Y or N (for “Yes” or “No”) signifying whether each player belongs in the Hall of Fame. I will list how this comes out in the results post.

Super Ballot 2011, bigger and better: Last year’s ballot featured 300 players, and some voters encouraged me to exclude players this year who’d gotten little or no votes. However, one voter quit in a huff last year because I neglected to include Vic Power, and I don’t want a repeat of that scene. Thus, this year’s ballot has close to 400 players. I brought back everyone from last year’s ballot, save for Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven who were enshrined this past summer. I also added in guys who last played in 2006, a few prominent omissions from last year’s ballot, every eligible write-in from last year, and every starter from a certain pennant winning team. I’ll give a free Baseball: Past and Present t-shirt to the first person who identifies the team.

Help me write about the players: I’d invite anyone interested to contribute 50 to 100 words on any player they vote for. I’ll select the best blurbs for inclusion with the post, with full credit for the respective writers, of course.

Anyhow, I look forward to seeing how this goes and thank everyone in advance who participates.

Appreciating the Career of Tony La Russa

Tony La Russa himself wasn’t much of a ballplayer. The middle infielder hit .199 in 203 Major League plate appearances, toiling in the minors for most of his 16-year career in professional baseball.

Maybe it was all that time on the bench that prepared La Russa for his managerial career. Because his teams seemed to over-perform from day one, beginning in 1979 when he inherited the 46-60 White Sox and led them to a 27-27 finish. Four years later Chicago made the playoffs for the first time in 24 years with the franchise’s best winning percentage since 1920, and La Russa won his first Manager of the Year award.

The White Sox’s early season struggles in 1986 prompted La Russa’s mid-season firing, but the skipper didn’t stay jobless for long. Only three weeks after being kicked out of Chicago, he was hired to manage his former team, the Oakland A’s, and immediately turned them around, just as he had the White Sox seven years earlier. 31-52 when La Russa took over, the A’s finished the season with a 45-34 run under their new manager.

And thus began the glory days of managing for La Russa, who announced his retirement today. La Russa’s Athletics almost immediately posted one of the most dominant three-season stretches of all-time, winning the AL West in 1988, 1989 and 1990, averaging 102 wins during that time and reaching the World Series each year.

Leading this mini-dynasty were Bash Brothers Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, perennial Cy Young award candidates Dave Stewart and Bob Welch, future Hall-of-Fame closer Dennis Eckersley, and of course La Russa, who won another Manager of the Year award in ’88, then finished 3rd in the voting in ’89 and 2nd in ’90.

The 1989 A’s team, probably the weakest of the three great Oakland squads, was the only one to find success in the Fall Classic, sweeping their cross-bay rivals, the San Francisco Giants, in a World Series most remembered for the 6.9 magnitude earthquake that delayed Game 3 ten days. It was La Russa’s first World Series championship and his only in Oakland.

After a down 1991 season, the A’s bounced back to win the AL West again in 1992, and La Russa won his third Manager of the Year award. He would last three more seasons with the A’s, before the death of the team’s owner and the subsequent sale of the franchise prompted La Russa to bolt to St. Louis to manage the Cardinals.

It took only one season for La Russa to turn the 4th place Cardinals into an NL Central-winning squad, and despite a few down seasons to close the 20th century, St. Louis soon established itself as the perennial favorite in its division, finishing above .500 all but one year from 2000 to the present and earning six Central division titles during that time. In 2002 La Russa won his record-setting fourth Manager of the Year award (Bobby Cox has since tied that mark).

Arguably La Russa’s best Cardinals team, the 105-game winning 2004 squad, was swept out of the World Series, and the ’05 version lost in a seven-game NLCS. The 2006 Cards were worse than their predecessors by nearly every measure, but, despite only 83 regular season wins, unexpectedly brought La Russa his second World Series title.

This year’s Cardinals were not expected to deliver their manager championship number three. Ace Adam Wainwright was sent for Tommy John surgery after an injury in February, out for the year before throwing a single pitch. Closer Ryan Franklin blew four of his first five save opportunities, Albert Pujols battled a sluggish start, Matt Holliday struggled to stay on the field, and St. Louis trailed wild card-leading Atlanta by 10.5 games on August 24.

But with a bullpen rebuilt at the trade deadline and a newly-healthy offense, the Cardinals stormed back to clinch the playoffs on the season’s final day. In the NLDS, they upset the heavily-favored Phillies in five games. In the NLCS they handled the Brewers in six games, La Russa hailed as genius for his courage in pulling starting pitchers early in ballgames and his subsequent manipulation of his bullpen in the mid- and late-innings.

La Russa’s sixth World Series was an up-and-down one for the manager. Bullpenphonegate, as the Game 5 debacle came to be known, threatened to undermine La Russa’s successes and establish him as the series’ goat, but an all-time classic game 6—in which La Russa made no glaring errors and his counterpart Ron Washington orchestrated blunder after blunder—and a well-managed game 7 gave La Russa’s Cardinals another World Series championship.

Tony La Russa may from time to time appear whiny, stubborn or petulant. But you can’t argue with results, and with six pennants and three World Series titles in his 33 years as a Major League manager, the 67-year old is one of the most decorated skippers in baseball history. He’s third all-time in managerial wins and one of only two managers ever to win the World Series in each league. Where he ranks among the all-time greats is a discussion for another post, but in the wake of a World Series run during which he was praised repeatedly for his leadership and decision-making, we should all pause to admire the career accomplishments of Tony La Russa.

And Now It Begins

After such a wonderful 2011 World Series, I’m mentally if not physically exhausted as I write this week’s column.  All but game three were nail biting, nerve raking affairs even for someone who was not cheering for one team over the other.  It was a shame one team had to lose but despite the obvious managerial blunders, mental mistakes and errors, which I’m certain will be discussed to death in the next few days, it was a World Series we will all be talking about for years to come.  I must extend my congratulations to both teams for once again proving that baseball is indeed the most exciting of all sports.

But now it begins. The rumors, speculation, negotiations, the trade talk and all the rest that goes with this always too long baseball offseason.  Apart from a casual daily glance at what is going on, we all could use a week or two of relation and paying attention to other worldly events and happenings.  But only a week or two.

Certainly the biggest off field questions will be the financial situation of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the inevitable battle with the commissioner’s office,  the ongoing but far less bleak finances of the New York Mets, the search for GM and managerial replacements, new Houston Astros ownership and of course, the signing of  a new CBA.

The biggest and potentially most drawn out on the field headlines will be the opting out, or not, of C.C. Sabathia from his New York Yankee contract and  the signings of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. There are, as usual, many potential arbitration cases and many teams which have to decide which direction they plan on going for the 2012 season.

Now that the courts in California have decided, (well, for the moment anyway), that Dodger owner Frank McCourt will own the Dodgers as part of his nasty and drawn out divorce,  will Bud Selig force the issue and demand that McCourt sell his interest in the franchise?  Selig has continually made his opinion known that such a sale would be in the best interests of baseball.  McCourt has chosen to make this battle public and has stated in no uncertain terms that he will do whatever he feels is best for him.

The financial situation of the New York Mets is awaiting further rulings by the New York court which has stated that Fred Wilpon is liable for a fixed amount only no matter what the final judgment may turn out to be. Although the Mets have not repaid their $25 million loan to Major League baseball, Bud Selig has stated that he is not overly concerned.  This situation has been far less public and far more civilized, at least in public.

New ownership in Houston has yet to be approved and questions have come up as to the hiring practices of the potential new owner in other businesses he owns.  Selig also seems to be pushing that approval of this sale might be contingent on an agreement by the new owner to move the Astros to the American League.  He has hinted that any other reservations about the sale could be overlooked if such relocation were to be agreed to.

The signing of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, (CBA), seemed to be a done deal.  Now, a pet peeve of Selig has begun to raise its ugly head and threatens to delay or negate any new agreement.  Selig has pushed for years now to put a ceiling on bonuses awarded to draft picks.  Understandably, the players union want no part of such a ceiling stating that it amounts to nothing more than a back door salary cap. The proposal of a luxury tax above slot might be the compromise which gets the deal signed.

But let’s face it.  For us fans of the game these haughty financial matters are of little concern.  Those issues will be decided by lawyers and accountants. The biggest issue to fans around baseball, and especially in St. Louis, New York and Milwaukee is only one.  Who will sign Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and C. C. Sabathia?  Who will be lucky enough to sign them?  Will we still be talking about this in January?

For now, let’s simply bask in the glow of a wonderful season and a truly special World Series.   Spring is coming.

Dizzy Dean Stops the Tigers; Collects Big Endorsement Money

Editor’s note: With the St. Louis Cardinals heading into Game 7 of the World Series this evening (after a for-the-ages Game 6), Joe Guzzardi looks at what Dizzy Dean did with such an opportunity in 1934.

Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean pitched just six seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1932-1937 plus a single game in 1930. Those were the only years that Dean pitched more than 20 games in a single season. After Dean suffered an injury in the 1937 All-Star Game which ruined his career, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 1938 and pitched ineffectively for three more seasons before retiring at 31.

But in 1934, that bleak end couldn’t have been further away. Dean went 30-7 on his way to the National League Most Valuable Player award and a 4-3 World Series championship for the Cardinals’ “Gashouse Gang” over the Detroit Tigers. Dizzy won Games 1 and 7; brother Paul, Games 3 and 6. In the final game, Dean pitched a masterful 11-0 shutout.

The Cardinals’ couldn’t believe how far Dean had come from his days in 1930 when he was a raw, obnoxious 20-year-old rookie. To the consternation of manager Gabby Street, Dean slept late, missed the team’s 10:00 A.M. practice and ran up charges at local stores which he expected the Cardinals to pay. Instead, the Cards warned local merchants not to extend Dean credit and put him on a $1 a day budget.

Exasperated by his antics, the Cards finally sent Dean down to its AAA Houston farm club where the pitcher met his future wife Pat. After a six-week courtship, the couple married. Dean, a new man, settled down and turned in a remarkable season. Dean led the Texas League with 26 wins, a 1.57 ERA and 303 strike outs. His performance earned him a spot in the Cardinals’ 1932 rotation where he won 18 games. In four subsequent seasons, Dean won 20, 30, 28 and 24 games.

Although Dean had only a second grade education (with him noting, “I didn’t so well in the first grade, either”) he shrewdly realized that every time he pitched, the stands were full. Dean reverted to his old self by routinely demanding during the season that his $8,500 contract be renegotiated. Owner Sam Breadon just as regularly turned Dean down. The pitcher would then leave the team, often for days at a time.

But the Cardinals forgave all after Dean’s 11-0 clincher in Detroit. A huge tickertape parade awaited the team with the Dean brothers and their spouses in the lead convertible. Dean, to wild applause, sat in the front seat swinging a stuffed tiger doll from the end of a noose.

After street cleaners swept up the confetti, the Deans left for a two week barnstorming tour against an All Star Negro League team and followed it up with a week on Broadway performing vaudeville routine before finally filming a Warner Brothers short film, Dizzy & Daffy with one of the Three Stooges.

Dozens of personal appearances and endorsement deals later Dean, who the Cards had once limited to a measly $1 a day and whose winning series share was $5,300, earned nearly $75,000 in just a few short months.

Any player/Any era: Don Drysdale

What he did: Adam Darowski’s piece Monday on pitchers who could hit got me thinking about Don Drysdale. If Drysdale didn’t have the greatest year at the plate ever for a pitcher in 1965, it had to be somewhere close. Not only did he smack seven home runs with 19 RBI and an OPS+ of 140, Drysdale was the only .300 hitter on a team that batted .245. His 2.2 offensive WAR was better than all but four Dodger batters. Drysdale even went to the plate as a pinch hitter 14 times, going 3-for-12 with two RBI. And of course, he was also brilliant on the mound, finishing 23-12 and fifth in National League MVP voting and helping his Dodgers to a World Series title.

Drysdale, one of the subjects of a recent outstanding paper here, did enough in his career to finish 209-166 with a 2.95 ERA, 2,486 strikeouts ,and 49 shutouts. Seeing as he played his prime years in perhaps the greatest pitcher’s era ever, with Sandy Koufax as a rotation mate, he might have been in the best possible time to reach the Hall of Fame as he did in 1984. Still, Drysdale’s hitting numbers suggest he might have been the best player in baseball in an earlier era.

Era he might have thrived in: Men like Drysdale ruled baseball in the late 19th century, Bob Caruthers, Guy Hecker, and others able to dominate both on the mound and at the plate. Official MLB historian and longtime baseball writer John Thorn explained to me awhile back, when I did one of these columns on Josh Hamilton, that the overall talent level was lower in the early days of baseball, forcing the best players to both pitch and hit. Drysdale would have been even more of a menace than he was in his prime when he loomed 6’5″ and set the record for hit batsmen in a career.

Why: It’s about increased opportunity, mostly. As Caruthers averaged 290 at-bats a season and Hecker annually had about 330, Drysdale would likely double his number of trips to the plate. He might not belt 29 career home runs playing before the Live Ball Era, but his seven lifetime triples and lanky frame suggest he still would have put up good power numbers. And other parts of his game would benefit as well.

On the hill, Drysdale would be well-equipped to handle the draconian, “Let’s pitch 600 innings this season” workloads of 19th century hurlers, seeing as he pitched at least 270 innings seven times in his career and made at least 40 starts five consecutive years. It was a pace that may have contributed to him having to quit playing two weeks after his 33rd birthday in 1969, but that wouldn’t be an issue in the late 1800s, when pitchers rarely lasted in the majors beyond their mid-30s. His short but brilliant peak would be nothing out of the ordinary.

And it’s worth noting here, too, that Drysdale’s “Hit one of my guys and I’ll hit two of yours” baseball ethos would play perfectly in the 1800s, when respectable women were barely allowed at ballparks and none but the sketchiest of hotels would put up ballplayers.

Any player/Any era is a Thursday feature here that looks at how a player might have done in an era besides his own.

Others in this series: Albert PujolsBabe RuthBad News Rockies,Barry BondsBilly BeaneBilly MartinBob CaruthersBob FellerBob Watson,Bobby VeachCarl MaysCharles Victory FaustChris von der Ahe,Denny McLainDom DiMaggioEddie LopatFrank HowardFritz MaiselGavvy CravathGeorge CaseGeorge WeissHarmon KillebrewHarry WalkerHome Run BakerHonus WagnerHugh CaseyIchiro SuzukiJack ClarkJackie RobinsonJim AbbottJimmy WynnJoe DiMaggioJoe PosnanskiJohnny AntonelliJohnny FrederickJosh HamiltonKen Griffey Jr.Lefty GroveLefty O’DoulMajor League (1989 film),Matty AlouMichael JordanMonte IrvinNate ColbertPaul DerringerPee Wee ReesePete RosePrince FielderRalph KinerRick AnkielRickey Henderson,Roberto ClementeRogers HornsbySam CrawfordSam Thompson,Sandy KoufaxSatchel PaigeShoeless Joe JacksonStan MusialTed WilliamsThe Meusel BrothersTy CobbVada PinsonWally BunkerWill ClarkWillie Mays

Night World Series Games—Okay in the Pacific Time Zone; in the East, Not So Much

You can blame it on the Pittsburgh Pirates. I’m talking World Series night baseball which the Pirates kicked off in fourth game of the 1971 fall classic.

Of course, the Pirates weren’t really at fault. Major League Baseball came up with the bad idea and introduced it that year. Most predicted that it wouldn’t fly. But when every game eventually was scheduled to start at 8:05, what choice do fans have but to watch even through half closed eyes? When I lived in California, I had no problem: come home, turn on the television, fire up the barbeque and sit down to watch. Now that I live in Pittsburgh, I struggle to watch most of innings one through three and, if I’m lucky, wake up in time to catch innings seven through nine.

The 1971 series is famous for introducing Roberto Clemente, who hit .414 during the seven games, to a national audience, for the Pirates coming off the floor after falling behind 2-0 and for having to play and win the deciding game at Baltimore against the well-stocked Orioles who won 101 games.

The fourth game, the first at night, was the series’ turning point. After winning game three behind Steve Blass, manager Danny Murtaugh gave the nod to lefty Luke Walker. Walker retired just two batters before Murtaugh summoned the scrawny ( 6’4”; 178 lbs) but effective 21-year-old rookie Bruce Kison who pitched 6-1/3 innings of one-hit ball before giving way to Dave Guisti in the ninth. Guisti earned the save in the 4-3 nail bitter. The Pirates’, despite pounding out 14 hits couldn’t put the Orioles, who collected only four, away until the final out.

ut if you were to ask Kison for his fondest memory of the series, he might not point to his performance or the Pirates’ eventual 4-3 world championship triumph but instead to his wedding that took place immediately following the seventh game.

By prearrangement, the Pirates flew Kison back to Pittsburgh while the post-game celebration was still in progress. A police escort led Kison to the airport where a Lear jet awaited him. The flight from Baltimore took 22 minutes and landed at 7:33. Kison was 33 minutes late for his big day but no one really cared.

As seventh game winner Blass recalled, the groom-to-be Kison came up to him and in a reference to the tidy 2:10 game time, said “Thanks for making it a quick one.”

If these baseball players had come out of retirement….

I wrote a couple weeks ago about my adventures with a computer demo, Baseball Mogul 2012 that allows for great players to be unretired and used in simulation. I wrote of signing a 44-year-old Ted Williams to play for the 1963 New York Mets and how the Splendid Splinter hit about .350, perhaps taking advantage of the short right field porch at the Polo Grounds. Williams isn’t the only comeback player who’s thrived for me. The demo allows users to play six seasons– 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, and 2011– and at almost every level, at least one former great has done serviceable work. It makes me wonder what might have been.

Here are a few players I turned to:

1951: Arky Vaughan was gone too soon, both in baseball and in life. An elite National League shortstop in the late 1930s and early ’40s, he quit in 1943 at 31 following a fight with Brooklyn Dodgers manager Leo Durocher. After sitting out the next three seasons at his ranch in California, Vaughan returned to Brooklyn when Durocher was suspended for the 1947 season. Vaughan played two more years as a reserve before quitting for good in 1948 at 36 (save for one more year in the Pacific Coast League), and I got to wondering how he might have done on the 1951 St. Louis Browns. In an all-retired lineup that also featured Hank Greenberg, Jimmie Foxx, and Mel Ott, Vaughan hit over .300 for me. Maybe his talents could have kept him in baseball longer and from drowning in a freak accident in 1952.

1963: I’ll admit the game isn’t perfect. I’ve used Herb Score a couple of times in assembling 1963 teams, and twice, he’s won more than 20 games for me. One of those times, Score even won a Cy Young Award. Granted, Score was something of a virtuoso when he broke into the majors in 1955, making the American League All Star team his first two years and going 20-9 with a 2.53 ERA in 1956. But he was never really the same pitcher after getting struck by a Gil McDougald line drive in 1957 and by the time Score quit playing in 1962 at 28, he was a little-used has-been. The game disregards this, seemingly offering only Score’s peak abilities.

1975: This was the beginning of the end for the Oakland A’s, with Catfish Hunter gone to the Yankees and Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers, and others not long for town, rising salaries the death knell for small market Oakland. My challenge, as I saw it, was to cut payroll to keep the three-time defending World Series champs winning and in the black. To do this, I enlisted Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax. Drysdale, who retired in 1969 at 33, went 10-4 for my ’75 A’s before suffering a season-ending injury. Koufax quit after the 1966 season because of his arthritic left arm, but was supposedly throwing heat at fantasy camps into the 1980s; in my simulation, he went 15-16 with an ERA somewhere over 4.00. My revamped A’s turned a profit but fell short of the AL West-leading 98-64 mark the real ’75 team posted.

1987: I built a Baltimore Orioles team with aging veterans like Fred Lynn, Mike Schmidt, and Nolan Ryan complementing unretired stars Rod Carew, Jim Palmer, and others. Carew quit in 1985, and I figured that as a 42-year-old contact hitter, he might be capable of some good work. He proved something of a disappointment and ended the year, I think, as my pinch hitter. Palmer fared better. While in real-life the Hall of Fame pitcher’s 1991 comeback didn’t last beyond spring training, a 41-year-old Palmer went 15-11 for me in ’87. It’s a wonder he quit in 1984 at 38, just 32 wins shy of 300.

1999: I haven’t played a 1999 team yet, though I’m curious what a 46-year-old George Brett would have left. He was something of an ageless wonder, winning batting titles in three decades, and in 1999 when more than 20 players had OPS scores over 1.000, Brett might have batted .250 as someone’s designated hitter.

2011: I turned to a couple of 46-year-old former All Stars to play for my Kansas City Royals. Jose Canseco didn’t do so hot, not a surprise really, regardless of how many times Canseco has taken to Twitter claiming he could still hack big league pitching. I was more bummed that I had to release my all-time favorite player, Will Clark, who like Canseco had a batting average somewhere in the lower .200s for me. Some things just aren’t meant to be, I guess.

What Wes Ferrell has in common with Babe Ruth

Editor’s note: Please welcome Adam Darowski. Adam is a loyal reader, a regular in the comments section here, and also a fine baseball history writer in his own right. He contributes often to Beyond The Boxscore and did a post about this site last year. Today, Adam covers one of the more interesting classes of ballplayers in baseball history.


Want to see an interesting group of players? How about the players in history who were most formidable on the mound and at the plate?

Players with 10+ position player WAR and 10+ pitching WAR, minimum 40+ total WAR (Source:
Player WAR/pos WAR/p WAR/tot
Babe Ruth 172.0 18.0 190.0
Walter Johnson 12.1 127.7 139.8
Al Spalding 10.0 70.7 80.7
Bob Caruthers 18.8 52.6 71.4
Red Ruffing 13.7 53.6 67.3
Monte Ward 39.5 25.4 64.9
Wes Ferrell 12.0 41.3 53.3
Jack Stivetts 10.5 42.5 53.0
Dave Foutz 18.1 30.0 48.1
Mike Smith 31.6 15.4 47.0
George Uhle 11.3 34.5 45.8

Babe Ruth: There’s not really much I could write about Babe Ruth that hasn’t already been written. One thing I’ve been wondering about is how good of a pitcher he could have been if he stuck with it. He was worth 18.3 WAR as a pitcher in Boston through his age 24 season (his Yankee pitching appearances were more for novelty). How many other pitchers have been worth that much through their age 24 seasons? Well, it turns out that in the 19th century there were a ton. Silver King, for example, already piled up 52.9 WAR. Granted, he did it in 2727 innings. If we limit it to 1500 innings, we get Bob Feller on top with 35.6 WAR followed by Frank Tanana at 30.9 and Dwight Gooden at 30.2. Ruth is actually only 24th, surrounded by pitchers like Robin Roberts, Mel Harder, Dutch Leonard, Dizzy Dean, and Dick Ellsworth. So, while these are all very good pitchers—and some are Hall of Famers—Babe Ruth the pitcher probably wouldn’t have been quite as dominant as Babe Ruth the hitter. But the very fact that he could have been a Hall of Famer as a pither or hitter is remarkable.

Walter Johnson: In addition to being one of the very best pitchers of all time (if not the best), Johnson hit .235/.274/.342 for a 76 OPS+. While a 76 OPS+ sounds weak, let’s remember that Omar Vizquel’s career OPS+ is 82 and some are talking about him for the Hall of Fame. For a pitcher, that winds up being worth 12.1 WAR when you keep it up over 2517 plate appearances. In 1925 (at age 37), he hit .433/.455/.577 in 107 PAs, good for 1.9 WAR.

Al Spalding: The first great pitching star of the major leagues, Spalding also played 64 games in the outfield and 52 at first base (among other positions). He hit .313/.323/.379 (an OPS+ of 116) over 1988 plate apparances. His 10.0 WAR as a hitter accents 70.6 pitching WAR (10.4 listed on Baseball-Reference, but an estimated 60.2 from his National Association career).

Bob Caruthers: It really is a wonder that Bob Caruthers is not in the Hall of Fame. In his 10-year career, he posted a 218-99 record as a pitcher with a 2.83 ERA (123 ERA+). He posted a pair of 10+ pitching WAR seasons (and two more above 8.0). His total of 52.6 pitching WAR is in addition to the 18.8 wins he provided as a hitter (71.4 total). He hit .282/.391/.400 in 2906 plate appearances., good for a 133 OPS+. He actually appeared in more games in the outfield (366) than at pitcher (340). He also played first base 13 times and second nine times.

Red Ruffing: Not your typical Hall of Famer, Red Ruffing posted a 273-225 record in 22 years. His ERA of 3.80 gives him an ERA+ of 110. He didn’t have much of a peak, maxing out his pitching WAR at 6.3 en route to a career total of 53.6. Compare him to Tommy John, who went 288-231 over 26 years with an ERA of 3.34 (111 ERA+) and 59.0 WAR (career high of 5.7). Where they differ is that special little extra Ruffing provided at the plate. He turned a .269/.306/.389 line (81 OPS+) and 36 homers into another 13.7 WAR. That gave him a total of 67.3. John, if you’re wondering, was worth -2.0 WAR at the plate.

Monte Ward: John Montgomery Ward is the only player in history with 25 WAR as a position player and 25 WAR as a pitcher. He is also one of the most interesting figures in baseball history. He was a Columbia Law School graduate. He started the first player’s union—and then formed the Player’s League. He literally wrote the book on how to be a baseball player. He could hit, run, play a mean shortstop, and pitch. Like Ruth, his pitching career was over with the end of his age 24 season. He had accumulated 25.4 WAR in nearly 2500 innings already, but an injury forced him to become a position player. In fact, while his arm healed, he taught himself to throw left-handed so he could play center field. Once his arm was healed, he became an exceptional shortstop. In all, he played 826 games at short, 493 at second, 214 in the outfield, and 46 at third while accumulating 39.5 WAR (for a total of 64.9).

Wes Ferrell: Because of the era in which he played, Wes Ferrell holds the highest career ERA (4.04) for any pitcher with an ERA+ of 115 or better and 1000 or more innings—and that includes “steroid era” pitchers. For example, in 1936 Ferrell went 20–15 with a 4.19 ERA. But the league was busy posting a 5.04 ERA, so Ferrell’s mark actually gave him an ERA+ of 128. Ferrell was hurt by his era even more than a guy like Andy Pettitte. Pettitte owns a 3.88 career ERA to Ferrell’s 4.04, but both have an ERA+ of 117. Ferrell brought another demention to his game, and that dimension involved hitting the baseball hard. He clubbed 38 home runs to go along with a .280/.351/.446 batting line. That gave him an OPS+ of 100. Think about that. In the most offense-heavy era in history, a pitcher posted a league average batting line for his career. That was worth 12.0 wins, giving him a total of 53.3.

Jack Stivetts: Stivetts was a star hurler in the American Association, spending three seasons in the league and compiling 22.9 of his 42.5 career pitching WAR. He didn’t have the same success in the National League, but he was still a valuable pitcher, averaging about four WAR per season in his first five NL seasons. His career was over at age 31 with 203 wins, 132 losses, and a 3.74 ERA (for a 120 ERA+). What makes him more interesting is his power hitting line. He hit .298/.344/.439 in 2148 plate appearances for an OPS+ of 106. He accented those numbers with 35 homers and 46 triples. His 10.5 WAR as a hitter brings his total to 53.0 WAR.

Dave Foutz: From 1884 to 1891, Foutz was a teammate of Bob Caruthers with St. Louis and Brooklyn. Foutz did the majority of his pitching during his St. Louis years, compiling 1458 of his 1997 innings and 25.4 of his 30.0 career pitching WAR in those four seasons. In 1886, Foutz was worth 12.3 WAR on the mound while Caruthers was worth 9.6. Caruthers was also worth 4.3 at the plate while Foutz brought in 1.4. The team, needless to say, was impressive (going 93–46). Overall, Foutz won 218 and lost 99 for a gaudy .688 winning percentage. That went along with a 2.83 ERA and 123 ERA+. Foutz actually played far more in the field than on the mound, playing 596 times at first, 320 times in the outfield, and 251 times on the mound. He hit .276/.323/.378 for an OPS+ of 102. He was worth 18.1 WAR at the plate and 30.0 on the mound, totaling 48.1.

Mike Smith: Smith, also listed as “Elmer Smith”, was a very unique player in that he’s just one of five on this list with 15+ WAR in both columns. He started his career as a teenage pitcher with Cincinnati in the American Association in the late 1880s. After a nine-game stint in 1886, he posted 11.3 WAR on the mound in 1887. He followed that up with a 6.0 WAR season in 1888 and a -0.6 WAR season with an arm injury in 1889. After missing two seasons, he re-emerged as a power hitting left fielder for Pittsburgh. At the plate, he hit .310/.398/.434 for a 126 OPS+ over 5422 plate appearances (including a pair of 6+ WAR seasons). He totaled 31.6 WAR at the plate and 15.4 on the mound (with final numbers of 75-57, 3.35 ERA, 113 ERA+ in 1210 innings), giving him 47.0 WAR overall.

George Uhle: After three 19th century players, we get back to the 20th century with Uhle. Uhle, a pioneer of the slider, pitched 17 seasons and went 200-166 with a 3.99 ERA (106 ERA+). The three-time 20-game winner earned 34.5 WAR for his performance on the hill. Uhle is a bit unique from most pitchers on this list, as he never played anywhere other than pitcher. He was frequently used as a pinch hitter and accrued 11.3 WAR at the plate thanks to a .289/.339/.384 (86 OPS+) line. He total value overall was 45.8 WAR.

Some other two-way players who don’t quite fit the above criteria include Jim Whitney (35.9 as pitcher, 9.1 as hitter, 45.0 overall), Don Newcombe (29.7 as pitcher, 9.0 as hitter, 38.7 overall), George Mullin (26.3 as pitcher, 11.7 as hitter, 38.0 overall), Smokey Joe Wood (26.2 as pitcher, 9.3 as hitter, 35.5 overall), and Nixey Callahan (11.0 as pitcher, 10.8 as hitter, 21.8 overall). Looking at only modern pitchers, Mike Hampton (20.8 as pitcher, 7.3 as hitter, 28.1 overall), Carlos Zambrano (31.8 as pitcher, 5.3 as hitter, 37.1 overall), Tom Glavine (67.0 as pitcher, 4.6 as hitter, 71.6 overall), and Dontrelle Willis (13.0 as pitcher, 4.3 as hitter, 17.3 overall) come the closest.

The College Professor vs. the High School Coach

This 2011 World Series is thus far proving to be a showdown between two managers with polar opposite managing styles.  Both got their teams to the big game but both did so with wildly different styles.  Only time will tell which style is more effective

I find it interesting the contrast in styles as both teams are very similar.  Through no fault of either organization, St. Louis and Texas are built to score runs and rely on their starters to get them to the sixth inning where the bullpens take over.  Apart from Chris Carpenter for the Cardinals, neither team really has a dominant starting pitcher. I mean, generally speaking. Any of the starters can have one of those dominant games but the teams are not built around starter dependency along the lines of a team such as the Philadelphia Phillies. Never mind that games one and two were low scoring and pitching dominated. That can be explained by some stellar infield defense, especially from the middle of the Texas infield. Certainly, either manager would like to have a starting staff whose numbers one through three could dominate but both managers realize, especially in a short series such as a best of seven, waiting for the starter to work his way through a tough inning could be a dangerous  form of strategy.

Both managers continued to use their pitching staff as if the game was a low scoring affair as in the previous two matchups. Each had different reasons and in doing so, shone the spotlight on how different they really are. The college professor vs. the high school coach. Both wore a path from their respective dugouts to the pitching mound despite a score which ended up more like a football game than anything else. Both had different reasons for doing so.

Texas used five relief pitchers, St. Louis used four. Washington’s’ hand was being forced by the prodigious offence of St. Louis and with the knowledge that his team were equally capable of another touchdown or two. But he also knows that there is a limit to how many runs any team can score and continued to try to find someone in the bullpen that could stop the Cardinal onslaught. Obviously, he wasn’t successful last night.

Tony LaRussa had a different motivation in almost emptying out his bullpen despite the offense he was getting. He is from an older school of managing. These managerial types worry no matter what the score. They are often accused of over managing but their thinking is as follows. They worry if their team is well out in front because losing a big lead would be disastrous. They worry if they are far behind and try to come up with a way to catch the opponent and eventually win the game. If the game is close either way, they worry equally. When the game is over, win or lose, this type of manager is already planning the next day’s strategy immediately after the last pitch has been thrown. The joy for them seems to be in the intellectual pursuit of a victory. Sometimes how the game was won rather than if the game was won. Every pitch is analyzed, second guessed and fretted over.

Ron Washington seems to be more of the let the guys play and cheer them on. It’s a kids game and after the game let’s all go out for a soda and a couple of Big Macs. Nothing wrong there. His style has obviously worked well as this is the Rangers second straight World Series appearance. His Rangers might be looser than the Cardinals and he unabashedly cheers his team on with every success, minor or important. The Rangers looked tight last night which would explain the physical and mental errors which lead to the lopsided game three score, with three Albert Pujols  home runs certainly not helping things.

But I think Texas will bounce back from game three and, if not able to win the trophy, at least make the World Series interesting and hopefully a seven game affair.

The professor is deadly serious and using a surgeon’s knife to cut precisely where it is needed. The high school coach cheers on his guys and hopes to get them tomorrow. Both styles are interesting and both are legitimate. We shall see which works better in the next few days.

A new look here

It started on Tuesday evening when I couldn’t log in to this Web site to schedule a post by Joe Guzzardi for publication.

I emailed the friendly tech guys here, and for the next day and a half, they couldn’t figure out the issue that was keeping my site from loading, save for an error message onscreen that the server was down.

Finally, one of the tech guys determined today that the issue had to do with the old background theme. He swapped it out, and what sits here now was originally meant as a placeholder. I like the look though, and after almost two-and-a-half years, I think we were long overdue for a redesign. Before today, in fact, there had never actually been one.

Thus, the new look will stay. Any feedback is welcome and appreciated.

“Old Pete” Handcuffs the Yankees

Editor’s note: With this site back up and running, replete with a new look, please enjoy the latest from Joe Guzzardi.


Whatever may happen to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, it’s unlikely to produce a moment as dramatic and historic as Grover Cleveland Alexander’s strike out of the New York Yankees’ Tony Lazerri in the seventh 1926 game.

“Ol’ Pete,” by then 39-years old, weary, nearly deaf from a World War I injury sustained during seven weeks on the front under heavy bombardment, alcoholic and epileptic nevertheless managed to summon up his skills once more to lead the Cards to victory in its first series appearance.
In the middle of the 1926 season the Chicago Cubs released Alexander even though he had won 325 games. In a thinly veiled reference to Alexander’s losing battle with alcoholism, the Cubs’ crusty manager Joe McCarthy said that if the Cubs were going to finish last again, as the team did in 1925, he would rather it be without the troubled pitcher.

Looking back on her husband’s release, Alexander’s wife Amy said:

He thought he was through in baseball forever. Whenever he tried to speak, tears came to his eyes.

But Cardinals manager Rogers Hornsby, who postponed his mother’s funeral because it would have interfered with the series, viewed Alexander differently. Admitting that “I’m no Sunday school teacher,” Hornsby jumped at the chance to sign “Old Pete”.

Alexander helped guide the Cardinals to the National League pennant where they faced the young, upstart Yankees and their imposing Murderers’ Row line up with the slugging Babe Ruth, Lou Gerhig, Tony Lazerri and Bob Meusel.

Hornsby gave the starting assignment in games two and six to “Old Pete” who promptly mowed the Yankees down with complete games, 6-2 and 10-2.  After winning the sixth game Alexander, incorrectly assuming his work was done, went on an all night bender.

Alexander, however, had one more appearance to make. With two men out in the bottom of the seventh of the final game, Cardinals starter Jesse Haines faltered. The Yankees loaded the bases when Hornsby summoned “Old Pete” to face the slugging rookie, Lazerri.

Cardinals’ third baseman Les Bell recalled the moment:

I can see him yet…walking in from the left field bull pen through the gray mist. The Yankees fans recognized him right off, of course, but you never heard a sound from anywhere in the stadium. They just sat there and watched him walk in. And he took his time. He just came straggling along, a lean old Nebraskan, wearing a Cardinals’ sweater, his face wrinkled, that cap sitting on the top of his head and tilted to one side, the way he like to wear it.

After a mound conference during which Hornsby tried to tell Alexander not to throw inside fastballs, the manager left the mound muttering:

Who am I to tell you how to pitch?

Alexander’s first pitch was a curve ball, strike one. His second, an inside fastball fouled off, strike two. Then on another curve on the outside corner, Lazerri swung and missed. In the eighth and ninth innings, Alexander held the Yankees hitless to preserve the Cardinals first world championship. In 20-1/3 World Series innings, Alexander struck out 17 Yankees.

In 1927 and 1928, Alexander won 21 and 16 games. But two years later, he drank himself out of baseball and subsequently several other jobs. For a brief period, Alexander worked in Times Square at Hubert’s Flea Circus retelling the story of how he struck out Lazerri on three straight pitches.
In 1938, the Hall of Fame recognized Alexander’s amazing achievements that include 373 wins, a 2.56 ERA and a 1.5 walks per nine innings ratio. Alexander was famous for his pinpoint control and his fast work on the hill where he routinely took care of business in less than two hours.

But by the time the Hall honored Alexander, he was an emotional and physical wreck. As he said in 1944:

I’m in the Hall of Fame…and I’m proud to be there, but I can’t eat the Hall of Fame.

In 1950, after two decades of uninterrupted post-baseball tragedy that included an operation to remove his cancerous ear and abject poverty, Alexander died alone in a rented room in St. Paul. Alexander, the most tragic figure ever to wear a Major League uniform, was buried with full military honors.

The 20 greatest World Series events

1. Carlton Fisk waves it fair: Game 6 of 1975 featured enough moments to fill a list in itself, from a pinch hit home run by Bernie Carbo that tied it for Boston in the eighth inning to a catch by Dwight Evans that saved a home run in the eleventh. But it’s Fisk’s home run an inning later that lives greatest in baseball lore, with the iconic image of him waving his shot down the left field line fair (supposedly, the NBC camera man who captured Fisk doing this was distracted by a rat and froze, ignoring orders to follow the flight of a hit ball.)

2. Kirk Gibson’s home run: I’m a San Francisco Giants fan, and I still love to watch video of a hobbled Gibson fouling off pitch after pitch from Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of 1988, then lifting a shot into the right field stands at Dodger Stadium, and staggering around the bases fists pumping. It was the only Series at-bat for Gibson, who didn’t even come out for a pregame introduction, though it spurred the Dodgers on to an upset of the heavily favored Oakland A’s.

3. Babe Ruth’s Called Shot: This might take the top spot here were it a real story. Ruth hit a home run off Charlie Root in Game 3 of 1932, and there’s a photo of Ruth supposedly pointing to the center field stands just before. It’s more likely Ruth was gesturing to Root, who swore that if Ruth really had called any shot, he’d have knocked him down. Still, teammates like Lou Gehrig backed Ruth up, and the rest of the story is history.

4. Bill Mazeroski’s Game 7 walk-off: David slew Goliath and decades later, Mazeroski got a plaque in the Hall of Fame for hitting a ninth inning home run that lifted the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-6 over the New York Yankees in 1960.

5. Joe Carter wins it for Toronto: Maybe this doesn’t rate quite with Mazeroski for dramatics, since Carter hit his walk-off in Game 6 of 1993, though the image of him racing around the base paths thereafter is equally joyful.

6. The Catch: Willie Mays made a number of great catches in his career but none greater perhaps than what he did in Game 1 of 1954. With the New York Giants locked in a tight game versus the favored Cleveland Indians, winners of 110 games in the regular season, Vic Wertz smacked what looked like a sure triple to deep center at the Polo Grounds. But Mays caught the ball on a dead run and fired an equally remarkable throw back to keep Larry Doby from tagging up. The Giants went on to a sweep.

7. Don Larsen’s perfect game: Larsen made baseball history Game 5 of 1956 on just 97 pitches, atoning for getting shelled in Game 2. He overcame fine work from his opponent that day, Sal Maglie who allowed just two Yankee runs on five hits. Asked after the game if Maglie had made any mistakes, Dodger catcher Roy Campanella said, “Sal make mistakes? The only mistake he made today was pitching.”

8. Reggie Jackson earns the nickname Mr. October: Whoever doubted Jackson’s $2.96 million free agent signing by the Yankees in November 1976 was silenced about a year later when he smacked three home runs in the series-clinching Game 6 against the Dodgers.

9. Bill Wambsganss’s unassisted triple play: The Indians second baseman accomplished his feat in Game 5 of 1920, recounting it years later in The Glory of Their Times:

Well, Jim Bagby was pitching for us, and he served up a fast ball that (Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Clarence) Mitchell smacked on a rising line toward center field, a little over to my right– that is, to my second-base side. I made an instinctive running leap for the ball, and just barely managed to jump high enough to catch it in my glove hand. One out. The impetus of my run and leap carried me toward second base, and as I continued to second I saw Pete Kilduff still running toward third. He thought it was a sure hit, see, and was on his way. There I was with the ball in my glove, and him with his back to me, so I just kept right on going and touched second with my toe (two out) and looked to my left. Well, Otto Miller, from first base was just standing there, with his mouth open, no more than a few feet away from me. I simply took a step or two over and touched him lightly on the right shoulder, and that was it. Three out. And I started running in to the dugout.

10. Jack Morris’s 10-inning win: Morris gave the Minnesota Twins the World Series in 1991 with his 1-0 shutout in Game 7. John Smoltz offered a Maglie-like performance with seven shutout innings in the Braves’ loss. Like Carter, it wouldn’t be overly stunning if this moment is enough to get the Veterans Committee to overlook some lifetime statistical shortcomings, not that that’s kept everyone from the Hall of Fame.

11. Grover Cleveland Alexander strikes out Tony Lazzeri: It was like something out of a movie with the aging, alcoholic Alexander nursing a hangover in the bullpen during Game 7 of 1926 before his big moment. The moment came when St. Louis Cardinals starter Jesse Haines ran into trouble in the seventh inning, and Alexander was called in to face Yankee Hall of Famer Tony Lazzeri, two outs, the bases loaded, and St. Louis leading 3-2. Alexander fanned Lazzeri on three pitches and went two more scoreless innings to give the Cardinals the title.

12. Howard Ehmke’s surprise brilliance: On the occasion of Ehmke’s death in 1959, famed newspaper columnist Red Smith wrote of how Ehmke was due to be cut by Connie Mack late in the 1929 season before begging the A’s manager that he had one more good game in him. Mack gave Ehmke orders to clandestinely scout the Chicago Cubs for a week, and the move paid off, with the 35-year-old junkballer striking out a then-record 13 batters and winning 3-1.

13. Sandy Amoros’ catch: Johnny Podres got a lot of the credit for winning Game 7 of the 1955 World Series for the Dodgers, even being named “Sportsman of the Year” by Sports Illustrated. But it was Amoros who kept things alive in the sixth inning that day, making a dramatic catch on a Yogi Berra fly ball down the left field line and then relaying a throw into the infield to double up Gil McDougald.

14. Cookie Lavagetto breaks up Bill Bevens’ no-hitter: In general, I tried to stay away from famous miscues for the purposes of this list. It’s why there’s no spot here for Bill Buckner in 1986, Mickey Owen in 1941, or Fred Snodgrass in 1912, among so many others. There’s nothing especially great about men making errors, something that could happen to anyone in extraordinarily stressful circumstances. And that’s what was facing Bevens, a journeyman, when he reached two outs in the ninth in Game 4 of 1947 with a chance at the first no-hitter in World Series history. But fellow journeyman Lavagetto found greatness of his own, smacking a double (and the final hit of his career, incidentally) to win the game for Brooklyn.

15. Relief from Walter Johnson: The Big Train was American League MVP in 1924, his case bolstered by four innings of relief and victory in the twelfth inning for his Washington Senators in Game 7 of the series

16. Bobby Richardson’s catch: The Giants looked like they had their first World Series title in San Francisco when Willie McCovey hit a screamer in Game 7 with men on second and third. But Yankee second baseman Richardson made a leaping catch and the game was over.

17. Casey Stengel’s inside-the-park home run: The Giants lost the 1923 World Series, but Stengel won Game 1 for them in style, smacking a ball into the Death Valley of left-center field at old Yankee Stadium and then running cockeyed around the bases. He said after that he felt the rubber pad in his shoe shift as he rounded second base and that he ran the way he did to keep the shoe from coming off, though he never resembled a typical player, with legs later described in his obituary that “looked like two Christmas stockings stuffed with oranges.”

18. Enos Slaughter’s Mad Dash: Slaughter scored what proved to be the decisive run in Game 7 of 1946, dashing around from first on an eighth inning single by Cardinals teammate Harry Walker and beating a late throw from Red Sox shortstop Johnny Pesky.

19. Joe DiMaggio’s inside-the-park home run: The Yankee Clipper hit what looked like a single to right in Game 4 of 1939. But Charlie Keller barreled into Reds catcher Ernie Lombardi, knocking him senseless and allowing DiMaggio to run all the way around the bases and slide by a dazed Schnozz. The Yankees closed out the sweep in short order.

20. Randy Johnson channels Old Pete and the Big Train: Johnson followed up a 104-pitch performance in Game 6 of 2001 by recording the final four outs of Game 7 to give his Arizona Diamondbacks the win over the Yankees.

The All-Time World Series Roster

Editor’s note: Please welcome the latest from Alex Putterman.

Babe Ruth accomplished quite a bit in the Major Leagues, to say the least. The game’s first—and arguably greatest—power hitter batted .342 during his career with 714 lifetime home runs. But Ruth’s consensus-signature moment didn’t count toward those totals. It was the Babe’s “called shot” on the biggest stage in baseball, the World Series, that crystallized his legend. A player who performs in the Fall Classic adds a whole extra layer to his legacy; he’s always remembered as a winner.

In honor of the soon-to-commence 2011 World Series, these are the players (not coincidentally all current- or future-Hall of Famers) at each position who had the most success when it counted most – in the World Series.

C Yogi Berra: Yogi holds World Series records for games, at-bats, plate appearances and hits, having played in more Fall Classics (13) than any man in baseball history. His team won 10 of those series, and the catcher did his part, batting .274 with 12 home runs and an .811 OPS. Johnny Bench posted similar World Series numbers (albeit in far fewer games), but Berra’s legacy is s0 closely tied to postseason baseball that this list couldn’t be complete without him.

1B Lou Gehrig: Ruth gets all the attention, but Gehrig was in many ways a more productive October hitter than his teammate. The Iron Horse’s .361 batting average and 1.208 OPS in seven World Series (of which the Yankees won six) place him comfortably atop the list of 1st base World Series performers.

2B Eddie Collins: Before the Yankees acquired Babe Ruth and dominated the ensuing 80 years of baseball, the Philadelphia A’s were the American League’s dynastic powerhouse and Collins was their best player. A career .328 World Series hitter with the A’s and later the White Sox, he beats out 1920’s star Frankie Frisch as the Fall Classic’s best 2nd baseman.

3B Home Run Baker: Another member of Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s and a teammate of Collins, Baker hit .375 or better in each of his team’s three World Series victories, finishing his career with a .952 World Series OPS. Honorable mention to former-Yankees 3rd baseman Bobby Brown and his .439 batting average and 1.207 OPS in 46 World Series plate appearances.

SS Derek Jeter: Jeter is the most contemporary player on this list and also one of the most deserving. He’s hit .321 career in the World Series, highlighted by an MVP performance in 2000, and his 2001 “Mr. November” home run in the wake of 9/11 is one of the greatest Fall Classic moments of all-time.

LF Babe Ruth: In three World Series starts on the mound for the Red Sox Ruth went 3-0 with a .87 ERA in 31 innings, including a 14-inning complete game in 1916. The Babe’s postseason dominance memorably continued as a Yankee outfielder; he retired with a 1.211 career World Series OPS (second all-time minimum 50 Series at-bats) and one of the most iconic moments in baseball history, the aforementioned “called shot” in 1932.

CF Duke Snider: Center field was a surprisingly difficult position to fill. Willie Mays struggled in the World Series, and Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle often underperformed in October as well, while Tris Speaker and Kirby Puckett were good in the Series but didn’t get there often enough to compile viable sample sizes. That leaves Snider, who hit .286 in six career Fall Classics with 8 doubles and 11 home runs in 149 plate appearances, enough to earn him recognition here as the best ever World Series center fielder.

RF Reggie Jackson: Mr. October was perhaps the easiest choice for this list. Jackson hit .357 career in the World Series and boasts the best OPS in its history. His 1977 series was among the most remarkable ever and included arguably the best single game the Series has seen, game 6, in which Reggie hit home runs in three consecutive at-bats, each on the first pitch and each off a different pitcher. His .450 batting average and 5 total home runs in that series earned him his second World Series MVP award, making him one of three players (and the only non-pitcher) to receive that honor more than once.

SP Christy Mathewson: Matty threw 101.2 total innings in four World Series appearances, posting a .97 ERA in these outings and finishing all but one of the 11 games he started. He is second all-time to Sandy Koufax in World Series ERA and WHIP (minimum 50 innings) and first in complete games and shutouts. Mathewson’s 1905 series was essentially perfect; he threw three consecutive complete game shutouts, winning games 1, 3, and 5, in probably the greatest single-series pitching performance in the history of the Fall Classic.

SP Sandy Koufax: So I cheated and went with two starting pitchers, a righty and a lefty. I just couldn’t leave off Koufax and his .95 ERA (best all-time) in 57 career World Series innings. Along with Jackson and Bob Gibson (who would be my choice were I to add one more starter to this list), Koufax is one of three two-time World Series MVPs.

RP Mariano Rivera: 11 career World Series saves, 36.1 innings pitched in seven World Series appearances, and a .99 career ERA in the Fall Classic. One infamous blown save certainly doesn’t diminish Mariano’s unparalleled World Series career.

The Dynamic Duo, 1959-1966: When Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax ruled

Editor’s note: It is my immense pleasure to present a first-ever research paper written exclusively for Baseball: Past and Present. A few months ago, Dr. Vassilios E. Haloulakos and his son George, a University of California, San Diego professor approached me about offering something here on Dodger greats Drysdale and Koufax. The following marks the culmination of a lot of hard work and, with the postseason underway, is very apropos.


The careers of Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax were my childhood. From 1959 to 1966, this Hall of Fame pitching duo hurled the Los Angeles Dodgers to three world championships and four National League pennants while breaking records that had stood since the early 1900s. Their dominance and personas took on a mystical aura as their diamond exploits were carried over the airwaves, uniting Southern California into a huge community of baseball fans following the games on their portable transistor radios.

This paper celebrates a special era in Major League Baseball and one that is particularly meaningful to the history of Southern California– and America, overall. When the Dodgers and Giants moved from New York to California in 1958, it not only changed the baseball landscape but placed an exclamation mark on America’s westward expansion that had begun in earnest a century before. The longstanding rivalry between the two teams peaked over the next decade, with both clubs often near the top of the National League, and for the Dodgers, the heroics of their two star hurler often gave them the edge.

Drysdale and Koufax were especially notable for accomplishing their feats at a relatively young age and in short time. Their Hall of Fame careers not only offered impressive stats but feats that are appreciable from a scientific perspective. This paper offers statistical, historical, and scientific appraisal of the Drysdale and Koufax era when perhaps the best righty-lefty pitching duo in baseball history dominated baseball and left a lasting, positive legacy in Southern California.

A Statistical Profile on the Era of Drysdale and Koufax: 1959-1966

  • Koufax is first with wins, 145 and strikeouts, 2083 for all of baseball and registers a 2.68 ERA. He averages 18 wins and 260 strikeouts per season.
  • Drysdale is second with wins, 143 and strikeouts, 1777 and registers a 2.98 ERA. Like Koufax, Drysdale averages 18 wins per season and is good for 222 strikeouts a year.
  • Drysdale is first with innings pitched, 2316.2, and Koufax is fourth at 1961. On a per season basis, Drysdale averages 290 innings pitched and Koufax averages 245.
  • During this period, Dodgers score 5412 runs in 1280 games, an average of 4.23 runs per game. During the 1965-66 pennant winning seasons, the Dodgers average less than 3.75 runs per game. This marks a steady decline in scoring evident throughout baseball during this 8-year run.
  • The Dodgers lead the NL with the lowest ERA from 1963-66 as LA wins three pennants and two championships.
  • The ’66 Dodgers are third best in baseball history for Net Earned Average with an ERA 0.99 points lower than the average for NL during 1966 season.
The following chart illustrates the number of times Drysdale and Koufax led the National League in various statistical categories between 1959 and 1966:

Pitching Category Don Drysdale Sandy Koufax
Wins 1 (1962) 3 (1963, ’65, ’66)
Strikeouts 3 (1959–60, ’62) 4 (1961, ’63, ’65-66)
ERA 5 (1962-66)
Shutouts  1 (1959) 3 (1963-64, ’66)
Starts  4 (1962-65)
Innings Pitched  2 (1962, ’64) 2 (1965-66)
25+ Win Seasons  1 (1962) 3 (1963, ’65-66)

In this stretch, the Dodgers finished first in the NL four times (1959, ’63, ’65-66), second two times (1961-62), fourth (1960) and sixth (1964.) The Dodgers also had winning records every season except one, 1964 and averaged 91 wins per year, with Drysdale and Koufax accounting for 40 percent of those wins. In this period, the Cy Young Award was awarded to one pitcher annually in the majors. Drysdale won the award in 1962, and Koufax won it three times, 1963, ’65 and ’66. Los Angeles won three World Series in seven years, after making a practically annual thing of falling short in Brooklyn. World Series play, Drysdale recorded three wins with a 2.95 ERA, with Koufax doing even better, posting four wins and a 0.95 ERA.

Here’s a summary of their career accomplishments:

Pitching Category Don Drysdale (1956-69) Sandy Koufax (1955-1966)
Wins  209 165
Strikeouts 2486 2396
ERA  2.95 2.76
Shutouts 49 40
Signature Record 6-consecutive complete game shutouts (58-2/3 innings) in 1968 Four no-hitters four straight years, capped by a perfect game in 1965
Memorable WS Play Three-hit shutout in 1963 with nine strikeouts and one walk. Drysdale matches Koufax pitch-for-pitch in Game 7 of 1965 on standby bullpen duty Record 15-strikeout win in 1963; 3-hit shutout in Game 7 (1965) with 10 strikeouts and three walks on
two days’ rest

This chart shows the six righty/lefty duos with over 300 wins combined since 1940:

Pitchers Team Years Combined Win-Loss WS Champs
Lew Burdette/Warren Spahn BSN/MIL (NL) 1951-63 443-278 1957
Dizzy Trout/Hal Newhouser DET (AL) 1939-53 361-300 1945
Greg Maddux/Tom Glavine ATL (NL) 1993-02 347-160 1995
Robin Roberts/Curt Simmons PHI (NL) 1948-60 347-299 N/A
Don Drysdale/Sandy Koufax BRO/LA (NL) 1956-66 340-219  1959, ’63, ’65
Tom Seaver/Jerry Koosman NYM (NL) 1967-77 326-232 1969

Historical Observations

The historical record affirms that Drysdale and Koufax set records while playing against the stiffest competition of the day, played their best when it counted most for their team, finished a high percentage of their starts, and were very efficient.

In pitching six consecutive complete game shutouts in 1968, Drysdale defeated three future Hall of Fame pitchers, Bob Gibson, Jim Bunning ,and Ferguson Jenkins and the defending NL Cy Young Award winner Mike McCormick. In the 1963 World Series, Koufax outpitched his mound opponent, future Yankee Hall of Fame pitcher (and all-time WS game winner) Whitey Ford by winning two games, the first and the fourth of the Series, to complete an unprecedented sweep of the two-time defending champs. Koufax set a record with 23 strikeouts in pitching two complete games.

Drysdale’s World Series ERA was equal to his career ERA of 2.95 while Koufax’s World Series ERA was 0.95, nearly two points lower than his career 2.76 ERA. With Drysdale winning three games and Koufax winning four games, the Dodgers were three-time World Series Champions in 1959, ’63 and ’65. In order, the Dodgers defeated the “Go-Go White Sox” who featured the base running of Luis Aparicio and Nellie Fox; the “M&M Bronx Bombers” of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris; and the “Twins Murderer’s Row” led by Harmon “Killer” Killebrew. In 1966, the Dodgers held the Orioles to a meager 3.25 runs per game, comparable to their performances in 1959, ’63 and ’65, but this time it was not enough as Baltimore held LA to 0.50 runs per game in a 4-0 sweep.

Drysdale and Koufax delivered the following clutch performances in pennant-winning stretch drives:

  • 1959: Koufax registers 41 strikeouts in his final three starts of the regular season that puts the Dodgers one game out of first place on August 31. Drysdale wins the second game of a double-header on September 19 that puts the Dodgers into a first place tie with six games remaining in regular season. The Dodgers finish the season in first place two games in front.
  • 1963: With 11 games remaining in the regular season and the Dodgers in 1st place by one-game, Drysdale and Koufax win two games each, with Drysdale registering one shutout and Koufax shutting out the opposition in both wins. LA finishes the season in first place, six games in front.
  • 1965: That September, Drysdale won 5 games, with two shutouts, and Koufax won another, with four shutouts including a storied perfect game. On the next-to-last day of season Koufax wins to clinch NL pennant for LA. At the start of the month, the Dodgers were in a first place tie. LA finished the season in first place, two games in front. The Dodger staff allowed 521 runs or 3.21 runs per game for the season.
  • 1966: Drysdale won four games with two shutouts in September, and Koufax won five with one shutout. On the final day of the season, October 2, Koufax won again for a total of six wins in the final four weeks to clinch the Dodger’s third pennant in four years. For all of 1966, LA’s pitching staff allowed just 490 runs, barely three runs per game and good for a net ERA of -0.99. This latter stat means Dodger pitchers were essentially 1-run lower than the average for the National League in 1966, third best all-time.

Complete Games: Drysdale completed 167 games of 375 career decisions and Koufax completed 137 games of 252. Over the course of a 162-game season, this took pressure off the remaining starters and relievers so that the team could operate at full strength, particularly in the pennant stretch and World Series.

Efficiency: Despite record-setting strikeout performances and a high percentage of complete games, both pitchers were very efficient as measured by four critical metrics:

  1. Pitch count: From 1959-1966, Drysdale and Koufax each averaged 90-115 pitches per game. There few deep counts for hitters as both men pitched into the strike zone to give batters a chance to put the ball in play. Yet they both registered high strikeouts because batters were often unable to make contact.
  2. Shutouts: Both pitchers shut out the opposition in 25 percent of their wins or one shutout out of every four wins.
  3. Strike-to-Walk Ratio. Both pitchers had a career strike-to-walk ratio of 3:1.
  4. Total Bases-to-Total Innings Ratio . Drysdale registered a career total bases-to-total innings ratio of 1.15 and Koufax registered 1.11.


Drysdale and Koufax spanned two different eras, from the Reserve Clause which bound a player to his team for life to the cusp of free agency. The joint holdout prior to the 1966 season in which Drysdale was awarded a salary of $115,000 and Koufax $125,000 presaged the the formation of a player’s union and arbitrator-sanctioned free agency that prevails to this day. In addition, Drysdale and Koufax pitched at a time when baseball was becoming a transcontinental affair. The Hall of Fame careers of both pitchers was a major factor in legitimizing the westward expansion of the game.

The 1959 season featured many signs of great things to come:

  • Drysdale is NL strike-out king with 242.
  • Drysdale named starter for NL All-Star Team.
  • Drysdale is NL leader in shut-outs with four.
  • Drysdale wins second game of double-header on September 19 that puts Dodgers into a first place tie with six games remaining in regular season.
  • Koufax ties NL record with 16-strikeouts in a June night game against the Phillies.
  • Koufax ties MLB record with 18-strikeouts in August versus the Giants.
  • Koufax registers 41-strikeouts in his final three starts of regular season that puts the Dodgers one game out of first on August 31.

Lessons learned from “The Barber”

Both Drysdale and Koufax were influenced by Sal “The Barber” Maglie during his tenure with Brooklyn in 1956 and ’57. Maglie, whose 13-5 record and stretch-drive no-hitter in 1956 helped the Dodgers win the pennant by one game, taught Drysdale and Koufax the necessity of pitching inside and developing an effective curve ball. Maglie’s intimidating and aggressive style was adopted by both pitchers and taken to an even greater level in terms of helping their team reach the World Series four times in eight years. That Drysdale and Koufax pitched even better in the postseason was testimony to Maglie’s influence.

Maglie was noted for pitching center stage in three of the biggest games of the Fifties: Game 3 of the 1951 pennant-tiebreaker when Bobby Thomson hit the Shot Heard Round the World to win the pennant; Game 1 of the 1954 World Series when Willie Mays made his great catch off Vic Wertz; and Game 5 for the Dodgers in the 1956 World Series when Don Larsen pitched a perfect game. Drysdale and Koufax carried on Maglie’s tradition as both pitchers elevated their performances in pennant races and on the World Series stage numerous times.

Drysdale and Koufax measured accomplishments in terms of how they helped their team reach the World Series. Individual achievement was secondary. Both men expressed this in interviews and their autobiographies. For example, after the 1963 pennant was clinched, Drysdale rested to prepare for the World Series, thus sacrificing the opportunity for a 20th regular season win. He got his 20th win, though it came in Game 3 of the Series when he threw a three-hit, 1-0 shutout with nine strikeouts. Drysdale considered this the signature game of his career. In September 1965, Koufax pitched his perfect game after LA had dropped two games to the Giants and fallen into a first-place tie with them. Including Koufax’s perfect game, the Dodgers won 18 of their final 22 contests to edge the Giants by two games.

Fan Favorites

Not only did their Dodger teammates benefit financially as the Drysdale/Koufax duo pitched their team to glory but management noted that each time Drysdale pitched, LA drew an extra 3,000 fans to the ballpark while Koufax drew an extra 8,000 fans. Great things were expected to happen anytime this duo pitched and often did as evidenced by the body of their work.

The amazing thing about the Drysdale/Koufax era was that it occurred well before ESPN and saturated sports media coverage. It was truly a cultural phenomenon for its day with a very strong, pervasive presence throughout Southern California. This still resonates in the memories of all those who were present (including the authors of this paper) during those exciting years. These days, people walk around connected either to their cell phones doing e-mail or exchanging text messages while listening to podcasts.

But in the 1950s and ’60s, the Drysdale/Koufax era united Southern California into a huge community of baseball fans following the games on their portable transistor radios. People followed the box scores posted in the daily newspapers and tracked the National League standings. Conversations at family mealtimes, the workplace, school yards and casual exchanges while running errands featured the common theme of talking baseball with emphasis on the Dodgers, their dynamic pitching duo and the NL standings. People from all walks of life, including those from the Hollywood television and film industry embraced the Dodgers.

The Word’s Eye View

With the Dodgers games being broadcast on 50,000-watt, clear channel KFI 640 AM, it was possible to walk up and down the neighborhoods in Southern California from the San Fernando Valley to the beaches to to the deserts and never miss a pitch as nearly every household was tuned in, especially when Drysdale and Koufax were pitching. Since games were infrequently televised, and there were no all-news or all-sports TV stations, Vita Pact Orange Juice, a Southern California based citrus company, would sponsor Dodger final score updates on TV for every game throughout the season.

As it turned out, Dodger baseball in Southern California was initially not all that different from Brooklyn. One could go about from homes, automobiles, public venues, stores and restaurants and, as famed New Yorker baseball writer Roger Angell has written, still hear the radio voice of Vin Scully calling the play-by-play of the games just as he had done while the team was in New York. During the Dodgers first four years in LA, they played in Memorial Coliseum, and its cavernous environs required that fans get the word’s eye view from Scully. Even after moving to Dodger Stadium, fans continued to bring their transistor radios perhaps to verify what they were actually watching.

Enshrined in The Twilight Zone

As noted, the enormous and near-immediate success of the Dodgers in Southern California was largely driven by the record-setting pitching of Drysdale and Koufax. This was immortalized by Rod Serling in his classic CBS television series, The Twilight Zone in an episode titled “The Mighty Casey” originally broadcast June 17, 1960. The episode involved a fictitious baseball team named the Hoboken Zephyrs that moved west and became a dynasty noted for stalwart pitching. “The Mighty Casey” was shown not long after the Dodgers beat the White Sox in the 1959 World Series that had featured the pitching of Drysdale and Koufax amidst a dominant staff.

Here is Serling’s closing narration that makes obvious references to the extraordinary pitching of Drysdale and Koufax, as well the Dodger owner Walter O’Malley, who orchestrated the team’s move:

Once upon a time there was a major league baseball team called the Hoboken Zephyrs who, during the last year of their existence, wound up in last place and shortly thereafter wound up in oblivion. There’s a rumor, unsubstantiated of course, that a manager named McGarry took them to the West Coast and wound up with several pennants and a couple of world’s championships. This team had a pitching staff that made history. Of course, none of them smiled very much, but it happens to be a fact that they pitched like nothing human. And if you’re interested as to where these gentlemen came from, you might check under “B” for baseball– in the Twilight Zone.

Two other things are worth noting here. First, the original draft of the story featured the Brooklyn Dodgers. And in a radio adaptation of this episode in recent years, Drysdale and Koufax’s names were actually used in the closing narration, possibly in tribute to Serling.

Observations on pitching styles and techniques


Both pitchers were blazing fast, but the key to long-term success and dominance is the ability to change speeds and create movement to keep hitters off-balance. Drysdale, noted for pitching with a sidearm motion, threw a two-seam fastball that created topspin and a bite when it landed in the catcher’s mitt. Jeff Torborg, who caught both pitchers, characterized Drysdale’s fast ball as hard hard when interviewed by Jane Leavy for her Koufax biography. Torborg observed that by contrast, Koufax, who pitched with an overhand motion threw a four-seam fastball so that his fingers would pull back on the stitching to create backspin and lift. In Torborg’s estimation, Koufax’s fastball was an easy hard because it would rise while Drysdale’s fastball would sink.

This subtle, but critical, distinction created havoc with the opposing hitters. Since both pitchers were schooled in the art of pitching inside by Maglie, this dynamic duo kept the opposition off-balance at all times. As noted, both pitchers were extraordinarily efficient in terms of throwing strikes and wasting few pitches. This further strengthened the advantage of Drysdale and Koufax because their efficiency and stamina enabled them to complete most of their starts, thus putting further pressure on opposing line-ups to score early or risk getting behind, that in turn, made most of these contests one or two-run affairs.

Curve ball

Both pitchers were able to throw very effective curve balls. Drysdale’s sweeping sidearm motion would cause his curve ball to follow a fish tail path. This would cause right-handed batters to back away from the plate for fear of being hit. (Such fear was not unfounded as Drysdale– being a star pupil of Maglie– set an NL record by hitting 154 batters in his 14-year career.) By contrast, Koufax’s overhand curveball tended to break down so sharply at the last moment that it appeared to fall off a table.

Koufax, though not afraid to pitch inside, exercised more control. In his final and greatest season, 1966, Koufax pitched 323 innings without hitting any batters. His overhand curve ball was distinctly different and this can be explained. Typically, an average major league curve ball rotates 12 to 13 times on its way to home plate. Former All Star pitcher Al Leiter, a Koufax pupil, claims that by slowing old film footage of his mentor he counts the number of revolutions on a Koufax curve ball at 14 to 15. These extra rotations help explain the very sharp breaking pattern associated with the Koufax curve ball.

A brief look at the physics of the Drysdale/Koufax pitching styles

Whenever a spinning object like a baseball travels through the air it experiences a lateral force that deflects it sideways from its normal path. This is known as the Magnus force and the resulting change in the flight path of the ball is the Magnus effect.

The direction and strength of the force is a function of how fast and in what direction the ball is spinning. For example, if a baseball is traveling at 95 MPH, the ball forces the air to flow around it, but the flow of air moving around the ball is the same as if the ball were stationary and the air was moving past at 95 MPH. If the ball is not spinning, the deflection of the air caused by the ball creates a low pressure region immediately behind the ball that is termed a wake.

The difference in pressure– higher in the front of the ball and less in the rear– creates aerodynamic drag that slows the forward speed of the ball. But without spin, there is no lateral force. But when the ball is spinning, the rotating surface of the ball crashes against the oncoming air. This causes the air on one side of the ball, specifically the side turning toward the oncoming air, to be deflected from the ball. At the same time, the air on the side turning away from the oncoming air is carried slightly further before moving away. In other words, the wake is now shifted sideways rather than immediately behind the ball.

In this instance, Newton’s law is applied because when the baseball deflects the air in one direction, the air must deflect the baseball in the opposite direction. The resulting Magnus force causes the ball to travel a curved flight path. From this, we can infer the following:

  • If the spin axis on the baseball is vertically aligned, counterclockwise spin will cause the ball’s flight path to move from right to left while clockwise spin will cause the ball to travel from left to right, thus explaining Drysdale’s fishtail curve ball.
  • The greater number of spins would cause the curvature of the flight path to be much sharper at the end versus the beginning. This would explain Koufax’s sharp breaking curve ball that Leiter observed had a greater number of rotations versus other pitchers.
  • When the baseball is thrown with topspin, the Magnus force acts downward that causes the ball to drop as it approaches the catcher’s mitt and land hard-aided by gravity. This would explain Drysdale’s “hard hard” sinking fastball.
  • When the baseball is thrown with backspin, the Magnus force acts upward that partially counteracts gravity so that the pitch falls less than it would under gravity alone. This would explain Koufax’s “easy hard” rising fastball.

Closing Thoughts

The late 1950s through the mid-to-late 1960s was a heady, almost magical period for Southern California baseball fans as the Dodgers created an equally loyal following as they had in Brooklyn. This was done in large part through Drysdale and Koufax setting records and helping win repeated championships.

The memories of this period were generated when baseball was still followed by radio. Although we have video footage of both Drysdale and Koufax, it is not as much as if their exploits were taking place now in this age of Internet streaming and 24/7 digital media coverage. But the constancy of the game, their statistical records, and recollections by their contemporaries and students of pitching have sustained an appreciation that seems to grow stronger with the passage of time. From the Baseball Hall of Fame to The Twilight Zone the superlative pitching exploits of this duo define greatness.

Baseball continues to have a mythical hold on so many generations. My father, Vassilios, considered the game part of his education in becoming an American citizen. I wrote the following in a 1996 issue of Fan: A Baseball Magazine:

My father took me to my first major league baseball game in June 1968. We saw Don Drysdale set the record for consecutive shutouts. The game also marked the first time my father sang the national anthem word-for-word in public. He had obtained his U.S. citizenship just a few years earlier. Several days before the game, I wrote out the words of The Star Spangled Banner on a small index card so that he could sing it. Twenty five years (later), on the occasion of Drysdale’s unexpected passing, Dad and I reminisced about the game. It was then that I learned Dad was still carrying that small index card I had prepared for him in his wallet.

Together, my father and I learned the game through the word’s eye view provided by Scully and have a lifetime of shared memories that remain forever linked to Drysdale and Koufax. May any baseball fan be so blessed.


About the authors

George A. Haloulakos, MBA, CFA: Teacher, Author and Entrepreneur. Chartered Financial Analyst [CFA] and consultant: DBA Spartan Research and Consulting specializing in finance, strategy and new business ventures. Award-winning university instructor. Author of DOLLAR$ AND SENSE: A Workbook on the ABCs of Investments. Hobbyist in aviation, baseball, spaceflight and science fiction. Lifetime member of Strathmore’s Who’s Who Registry of Business Leaders. Reverend Protodeacon, Orthodox Church in America. Email:

Dr. Vassilios E. Haloulakos: Award-winning educator, eminent rocket scientist and university professor. President of the California Academic Decathlon Board of Directors, Member of the West Coast University Board of Trustees and Accreditation Board Proceedings. Played key role in the design and development of numerous space projects, a dynamic national distinguished lecturer in the use of high technology in the areas of education, medicine, manufacturing and commerce. Listed in Who’s Who in the West and American Men in Science & Engineering. Author of Mathematics, the Layman and Daily Life.  Email:


Charmed Circle: Twenty-Game-Winning Pitchers in Baseball’s 20th Century, Mel R. Freese, McFarland & Company, 1997.
Christy Lembesis, old-time radio hobbyist, amateur baseball historian.
Close Shave: The Life and Times of Baseball’s Sal Maglie, James D. Szalontai, McFarland & Company, 2002.
Franklin Big League Baseball Electronic Encyclopedia, 1993.
John M. Deegan, baseball enthusiast and collector.
Koufax, Edward Gruver, Taylor Publishing, 2000.
Koufax, Sandy Koufax with Ed Linn, Viking Press, 1966.
Once a Bum, Always a Dodger: My Life in Baseball From Brooklyn to Los Angeles, Don Drysdale with Bob Verdi, St. Martin’s Press, 1990.
Personal collection of George A. Haloulakos, baseball hobbyist. DVDs, scrapbook of news and magazine articles, baseball cards, game programs and books.
Players of Cooperstown: Baseball’s Hall of FameInternational Ltd, 1998.
Sandy Koufax: Strikeout King, Arnold Hano, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1964.
Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy, Jane Leavy, Harper Collins, 2000.
Sir Isaac and the Rising Fastball, P.J. Brancazio, page 44, Discover Magazine, July 1984.
The Best & Worst Baseball Teams of All Time: From the ’16 A.s To The ’27 Yanks To the Present, Harry Hollingsworth, S.P.I Books, 1994.
The Summer Game, Roger Angell, Bison, 1972.
The Twilight Zone Companion, Marc Scott Zicree, Bantam, 1982.
Vassilios E. Haloulakos, scientist, engineer and professor. Lecture notes on physics and applied mathematics.

How Not To Hit the Panic Button

Did I miss something?  No really, did I miss something in Boston?  Perhaps it was only a misunderstanding but it seems to me if memory serves that the ongoing and consistent success of the franchise after years of frustration was born out of management finally realizing that finding the right front office personnel and scouting people is the key to success for any sports organization.  Ups and downs are going to happen.  The right people ensure that the ups are more frequent.

The ownership of the Boston RedSox were right in unceremoniously dumping Terry Francona as manager and putting him out on the street. They were right in pushing GM wunderkid Theo Epstein out the door with nothing but an “if you really want to go.”  It makes a lot of organizational sense. I mean, Boston did finish last in the AL East this season didn’t they?  That’s simply not acceptable is it?

Oh wait, Boston didn’t finish last.  Not once in the Francona-Epstein years. Sure they had one of the worst Septembers in memory and didn’t make the playoffs but if I read the recent baseball history correctly, Boston had a pretty decent run from 2003-2011. Well perhaps not that good– they only won two World Series titles and were strong contenders each season in the toughest division in baseball.  I mean, most of the other 29 teams can make the same claim can’t they?

Talk about cutting off your own nose to spite your face. What exactly did Terry Francona and Theo Epstein do that was so heinous that any semblance of loyalty or good business sense was thrown completely out the window by Boston ownership?

Certainly the signings of John Lackey and Carl Crawford were ill advised, some might even say disastrous. In the case of Crawford, someone should have noticed that Crawford had a lifetime batting average of .242 in Fenway Park. Odds were that he was going to play half of his games in Fenway. His performance in Fenway was over the course of nine seasons could hardly be considered a blimp on the statistical radar.

John Lackey had an understandable distraction throughout the 2011 season with the serious illness of his wife.  Ownership should have known that such a situation was more than enough pressure and throwing a player already distracted into the wolves den which maybe should have given the Boston press pause. Lackey had never shown anything near the mental toughness needed to play in Boston or New York. Apparently ownership didn’t notice.

Some of the veteran players, David Ortiz especially, put themselves above the team with their massive egos which weren’t covered by their performance, especially in September. A manger has to count on player responsibility. The press loved Ortiz for his Big Papi stature, with performance and leadership overlooked and blame shifted elsewhere. There was little if any criticism towards a completely one-dimensional player who demanded millions yet produced nothing in September.

Terry Francona had so many distractions from prima donna players and indecisive ownership that he had little or no time to actually concern himself with what was going on during the game. Maybe it was the pills, booze, off field distractions which the Boston press has recently “uncovered” about him.

Historically, the best way to cover up an embarrassing mistake is to manufacture dirt on the innocent victim(s). I had never read anything which questioned Francona’s on field managing skills or his offield behavior. In a town where every breath is written about by someone, I find it odd that nothing had ever surfaced before.

Theo Epstein was the man who brought Boston out of their historically dismal showings.  Certainly Epstein made some questionable signings. Certainly the Boston clubhouse had too many players concerned only with their next paycheck.  Epstein had the resources to fix this problem, letting the prima donnas go by eating what has turned out to be some bad contracts. But when the rumors began to fly that Epstein wanted out of Boston, potential suitors formed a line a mile long.

Boston ownership has finally become more despised than the New York Yankees. Looks good on them.  I hope they pay for it long after Francona has landed somewhere he is appreciated and Epstein builds his next dynasty. Boston ownership decided to throw the baby out with the dirty bath water.


I have some good news and some bad news.

I’ll start with the bad news. Today’s post isn’t ready to be published, well, today. It’s a 5,000-word research paper, sent in by a couple of readers, and I’d like another day to edit and get the format looking appropriate for publication.

The good news is that in terms of content, this should be one of the best posts ever published on this site. I’m very proud, and I hope it spurs more research-driven submissions.

Check back tomorrow evening, there should be something up. If I have your email address, I may send something to you when I have the post live. This one’s worth reading.

Any player/Any era: Ted Williams

What he did: I’ve written about the Splendid Splinter before, though I was motivated to feature him again thanks to a computer baseball game that I like. I’ve been burning large amounts of free time lately playing a demo for Baseball Mogul 2012, a sim that allows creating historical rosters. One of the niftier game features lets users pull players out of retirement, and today, I wondered how Williams might do on the 1963 New York Mets with their bathtub of a park, the Polo Grounds.

I plugged a 44-year-old Williams onto those Mets, and with other aging imports like Stan Musial and Yogi Berra in the lineup, Williams hit about .350 and helped New York to an 82-80 record (and that was with fellow 44-year-old unretiree Bob Feller going 7-22 with an ERA north of 6.00. It wasn’t pretty.) All of this makes me wonder if Teddy Ballgame’s 1960 retirement may have come a few years too soon.

Era he might have thrived in: For all their struggles, including a historically bad 40-120 in their inaugural 1962 season (which the demo won’t let me play), the expansion-era Mets were largely a veteran club. Their debut team featured the likes of elder baseball statesmen such as Gil Hodges, Richie Ashburn, and Frank Thomas among others, and at 43 on Opening Day that year, Williams wouldn’t have been terribly older. He might also have been a threat for the National League batting title and at least 30 home runs in the Polo Grounds, not to mention eight or ten more wins for the Mets.

Why: Most famous baseball players are pretty well done by the time they hang up their spikes or are forced to retire. Ken Griffey Jr. and Babe Ruth both quit at 40 after playing like men bused in from nursing homes. Steve Carlton made more stops at the end of his career than a kid with a paper route. Williams, on the other hand, may have had some more baseball in him, hitting .316 with 29 home runs and an OPS+ of 190 in his final season. Granted, his defense wasn’t anything nice at the end, though for a team like the Mets, Williams’ bat may have been enough to compensate.

There are other factors that might have made this interesting as well. The famously tough New York media would probably have been no problem for Williams who was excoriated and libeled by what passed for media in Boston during his career. I’m also curious how Williams might have gotten on with the Mets’ first manager, Casey Stengel. The Old Perfessor clashed with the conservative Joe DiMaggio in his time with the Yankees and once called Mickey Mantle his greatest disappointment, but otherwise seemed to have the temperament to welcome a hard worker and candid spirit like Williams. Whatever the case, I doubt it would have been too much to derail Williams’ stint as a Met.

I’ll admit I often wonder why players aren’t coaxed out of retirement more often. My guess is that a 44-year-old formerly elite player would be of more value than an average player ten years younger, and it wouldn’t be a bad thing for fan interest, either. When the U.S. men’s basketball program was in the toilet a few years ago, I thought it would have been cool to draft the ’92 Dream Team back into action, with ageless wonders like Michael Jordan and Clyde Drexler still capable of gold medal work. And then there’s Ty Cobb. Around the time Williams retired, Yogi Berra was asked what Cobb might hit in the modern game. Berra guessed .260. When asked if he thought pitching was that much better, Berra added something to the effect of, “Yes, but you have to remember Cobb’s about 70 years old.”

Any player/Any era is a Thursday feature here that looks at how a player might have done in an era besides his own.

Others in this series: Albert PujolsBabe RuthBad News Rockies,Barry BondsBilly BeaneBilly MartinBob CaruthersBob FellerBob Watson,Bobby VeachCarl MaysCharles Victory FaustChris von der Ahe,Denny McLainDom DiMaggioEddie LopatFrank HowardFritz MaiselGavvy CravathGeorge CaseGeorge WeissHarmon KillebrewHarry WalkerHome Run BakerHonus WagnerHugh CaseyIchiro SuzukiJack ClarkJackie RobinsonJim AbbottJimmy WynnJoe DiMaggioJoe PosnanskiJohnny AntonelliJohnny FrederickJosh HamiltonKen Griffey Jr.Lefty GroveLefty O’DoulMajor League (1989 film),Matty AlouMichael JordanMonte IrvinNate ColbertPaul Derringer, Pee Wee ReesePete RosePrince FielderRalph KinerRick AnkielRickey Henderson,Roberto ClementeRogers HornsbySam CrawfordSam Thompson,Sandy KoufaxSatchel PaigeShoeless Joe JacksonStan MusialTed WilliamsThe Meusel BrothersTy CobbVada PinsonWally BunkerWill ClarkWillie Mays

Bob Friend: The Warrior

On October 13, the Pirates celebrated the 51st anniversary of the team’s spectacular seventh game, bottom of the ninth, come from behind World Series victory over the heavily favored but universally disliked (at least in Pittsburgh) New York Yankees. In one form or another, Pittsburgh has continuously celebrated the upset since the instant Bill Mazeroski hit his historic home run in Forbes Field at 3:36 P.M. See it here.

The most popular event occurs annually at a small section of the old Forbes Field that was left behind for posterity after the Pirates moved to Three Rivers Stadium in 1970.  Hard core fans gather to share their recollections and chat with some of the players on the 1960s team. Among them are Dick Groat, Elroy Face and Bob Friend.

When it comes to the 1960s Pirates, it’s pretty much a non-stop love fest until Friend’s name is mentioned. Friend was then and still is now a fan favorite. We just hoped that the World Series would have turned out differently for Bob.

During the years that led up to the Pirates fifth World Series appearance, Friend acquired the nickname “The Warrior”. A quick look at Friend’s statistics explains why. From 1956 through 1960, Friend averaged 39 starts and led the league twice in that category. During that same period, Friend also led the league in innings pitched twice. In 1955 for the 60-94 Pirates, Friend posted a 14-9 record with a National League best 2.83 ERA, the first pitcher ever to record the league’s lowest ERA while toiling for a last place team.

Friend’s stellar 1955 and 1956 seasons earned him a spot on the All Star Game roster. During his three innings, Friend struck out Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Ted Williams and got credit for the win. In the 1960 All Star Game, Friend also notched the victory and thus shares the record for most All Star Games won. two. Years later, Friend ran into Williams.  Teddy Ballgame asked him, “What were you doing throwing me a curve ball?”

The 1960 World Series was a nightmare for Friend. In his two starting efforts in the second and sixth games, the Yankees shelled Friend. In game 7, manager Danny Murtaugh summed Friend in from the bull pen to preserve a 9-7 lead.  But Friend gave up two quick singles to Bobby Richardson and to pinch hitter Dale Long. Murtaugh lifted Friend, charged with two earned runs, in favor of Harvey Haddix. By the series’ end, Friend’s record stood at a sorry 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA.

By the next season, Friend had put his disappointing World Series behind him. Between 1961 and 1964, Friend continued to be the Pirates’ go-to guy; he started 35, 38, 36, 35 and 34 games while averaging 15 wins a year for mostly second division teams. In 1965, the Pirates traded Friend to the New York Yankees who in turn swapped him to the cross-town Mets.

Friend ended his career with a 197-230 record and is the only Major League pitcher to lose 200 games without winning 200. A Purdue University graduate who served as the Allegheny County Controller from 1967 to 1975, Friend still lives in the Pittsburgh area.

Among Pirates’ fans who remember that Friend at his peak rarely missed a start, we know  that if fate had dealt him a different hand– like say 15 seasons with the Yankees and one with the Pirates– his final totals would be similar to Robin Roberts’ and he would likely be in the Hall of Fame.

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Harry Dalton

Editor’s Note: Please welcome Jon Daly to the site. Jon puts in long hours down at and is no relation to anyone who has golfed professionally.


Claim to fame: After graduating from Amherst College and spending a stint in the Air Force, Dalton took a front-office job with the Baltimore Orioles. Jim McLaughlin, the iconoclastic scouting director, hired him. Eventually, McLaughlin left after a power struggle with Paul Richards over the signing of pitcher Dave McNally, and Dalton took over for him. Lee
MacPhail was the Baltimore general manager in the early Sixties. When Spike Eckert was elected Commissioner, he needed someone who actually knew about baseball in his office and he tabbed MacPhail. Thus was while Baltimore was trading Milt Pappas for Frank Robinson. Dalton’s first task as GM was to finish up the deal and he tried to get another player for the Orioles.

Dalton became the auteur for three teams; Baltimore (‘66-‘71), California (‘72-‘77, and Milwaukee (’78-’91.) His teams won five American League titles and two World Series, and Milwaukee had the best record in the AL East during the shortened 1981 season. All told his teams had a W-L record of 2175-1965, good for a .519 winning percentage. Dalton was the Sporting New Executive of the Year twice. Only George Weiss and Walt Jocketty have won the award more often. More information about Dalton can be found in Daniel Okrent’s excellent Nine Innings, which I bought as a high schooler with money from my job at Roy Rogers’ and still own and will occasionally flip through to this day. It looks at baseball through the prism of a getaway day game at County Stadium between Baltimore and Milwaukee in 1982.

Eligibility: Veterans Committee or Golden Era Committee. Dalton last appeared on the VC ballot in 2007 and received eight votes. It is hard to keep track of eligibility rules of the VC, but Dalton may be eligible this year by the Golden Era Committee. I had not heard of this latter committee before researching this. According to the Hall’s website: “The Golden Era Committee (“The Committee”) shall refer to the electorate that considers retired Major League Baseball players no longer eligible for election by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA), along with managers, umpires and executives, whose greatest contributions to the game were realized from the 1947-1972 era.” I would consider Dalton’s best years to be those he spent with Baltimore.

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Baseball is a general manager’s game and has been for some time. Right now, Moneyball is in the theaters. Yet, there are only a handful of general managers enshrined in Cooperstown; Branch Rickey, Ed Barrow, George Weiss, and this year’s inductee Pat Gillick.

A lot of credit for the Nixon-era success of the Orioles goes to Earl Weaver, and rightly so. When Weaver and Dalton worked in the Oriole farm system, they collaborated on what was to become the Oriole Way; playing baseball the right way, and not in some clichéd sense. If you go strictly by who coached for him, Earl Weaver is the only prominent guy from those days who leaves much of a legacy of future managers. George Bamberger, Frank Robinson, Ray Miller, and Billy Hunter all coached under him. Davey Johnson played for him. Tommy Lasorda’s managerial tree has Mike Scioscia and Joe Maddon. But Lasorda and Anderson seemed to staff their coaching ranks with loyal lifers.

But it wasn’t just Weaver and his coaches. The front office had some long-lasting influence. Dalton had John Schuerholz and Lou Gorman work under him in Baltimore. He worked under Frank Cashen who was the president of the club. A baseball outsider, he was Jerry Hoffberger’s right hand man in his other ventures then Hoffberger bought the team. When Dalton left for California to pursue Gene Autry’s dollars, Cashen assumed the GM role. I’m guessing he learned a lot from Dalton. He eventually went to New York and turned the Mets around.

I couldn’t find anyone who worked for the Angels that later became a GM, but his Brewer employees included two future GMs in Sal Bando and Dan Duquette. Some of Schuerholz’s underlings in KC and Atlanta (like Drayton Moore) have become GMs, but it looks like Cashen’s branch has been fruitful. Billy Beane admired Dalton’s work and Beane spawned Ed Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta. Cashen’s successor GM’s in Queens worked under him: McIlvaine, Harazin, and Hunsicker. Theo Epstein, Omar Minaya, Jim Hendry, and Tim Purpura can trace their lineage to these Mets execs.

With men like McLaughlin (who tried to systematize scouting), Weaver, Paul Richards, and Dalton, it was like a regular Manhattan Project or Algonquin Roundtable of baseball whose effects reverberated well beyond the Charm City. Dalton had a great track record, but I think what makes him historically great is the widespread influence that he and his acolytes
have had on baseball.


Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? will relaunch on a weekly basis the first Tuesday after the postseason ends.

Others in this series: Adrian BeltreAl OliverAlan TrammellAlbert BelleAllie ReynoldsBarry BondsBarry LarkinBert BlylevenBilly MartinBobby GrichCecil TravisChipper JonesClosers, Curt FloodDan QuisenberryDarrell EvansDave ParkerDick AllenDon Mattingly,Don NewcombeGeorge SteinbrennerGeorge Van HaltrenHarold BainesJack MorrisJim EdmondsJoe CarterJoe PosnanskiJohn SmoltzJuan GonzalezKeith HernandezKen CaminitiLarry Walker,Manny RamirezMaury WillsMel HarderMoises AlouPete Browning,Phil CavarrettaRafael PalmeiroRoberto AlomarRocky Colavito,Roger MarisRon GuidryRon SantoSmoky Joe WoodSteve Garvey,Ted SimmonsThurman MunsonTim RainesTony OlivaWill Clark

The only thing ‘Moneyball’ is missing? The 2002 Oakland Athletics

Editor’s Note: Please welcome my friend Thia Bonadies to the site. I approached Thia last week about reviewing “Moneyball” here since she may be the biggest A’s fan I know and has written professionally. It’s my pleasure to present her piece.


So, Moneyball. Yeah, it came out. A while ago now– well, at least in ‘movie reviewing’ terms– however I, myself, have not read one of them. Nope. Not a single one. Unless you count typing ‘Rotten Tomatoes’ into Google the day it premiered only to see that the coveted website had given the Brad-Pitt-turned-Billy-Beane film a whopping 95% on their “Tomatometer”. Which is rarer than you’d think – I mean, as in almost unheard of. Almost. And, regardless of where you stand on the whole pro/con Billy Beane argument (which at this point is so zzzzzzz to me that even mentioning it makes me roll my OWN damn eyes), seeing something – ANYTHING – with a number THAT big, that also happens to be connected with the Oakland Athletics, is something every A’s fan is using as a source of pride. In fact, through some bizarre and non-sequitur form of mind-mathematics A’s fans have developed in the last few years – as a way to formulaically convince themselves NOT to trade in their green and gold hearts for a sparkly new black and orange one – that rating, and the movie itself, was almost, like, a reward for getting through the 2011 season. And, the 2010 season. And while we’re at it, the three seasons before that, as well.

In the years since Moneyball has become a technique in the baseball world, there are two types of A’s fans: those who are “with” Billy Beane and those who, well, aren’t. Me, I’m a member of “Team Against.” But, honestly, it’s probably only because that’s the stance my father has taken over the years and – doing his job to raise me as a loyal fan of the White Elephants, even in losing seasons, I just kind of copy him in every opinion possible.

The A’s have not had a winning season since 2006 when they followed up their ALDS sweep of the Twins by getting broomed by the Tigers in the ALCS. Sitting in the movie theater – which I saw opening night at Oakland’s own Grand Lake Theater (because watching it at another venue would be true fan blasphemy) I couldn’t help but remember watching all those games wishing and hoping for another outcome.

The movie itself was perfectly executed. And, yes there were some obvious places where the filmmakers took creative license to make it into a “better”(?) story. For instance, there’s a scene where Beane announces that he wants to have Jason Giambi’s brother, Jeremy, as part of the 2002 team. But, all of us A’s fans can’t ever forget (no matter how hard we try) that Jeremy was already part of the squad – no doubt spending 2002 reeling from his infamous not-sliding-into-home play during the 2001 Division Series, the very faux pas that resulted in the Yankees ultimately advancing to the next round of the playoffs. But, considering that Moneyball is a movie – and not real life – fictionalizing parts of what really happened seems necessary and not sacrilege. And, in general, although I’ve never personally met Mr. Beane, from what I can tell Pitt played him to a T. From his hot-headed temper to his mannerisms to his perfect hair, it was a movie that was more about Billy Beane, the man, than the A’s themselves.

From a filmic perspective, it makes sense that the A’s weren’t heavily featured in Moneyball. From the earliest scenes in the movie, Beane makes it very clear that he doesn’t really see the players in a personal light: he doesn’t watch them play– he listens to the games on the radio instead; he doesn’t take an interest in their lives– he sees them as statistics. To him, they’re merely walking, talking W’s and L’s and as long as he keeps a fair distance they’re expendable, tradeable, DFA-able, et ceter-able if need be. So, from this perspective, it only makes sense that screenwriters Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin and director Bennett Miller would keep the A’s presence more OFF the screen than ON. Which, they do. Throughout the 133 minutes I spent sitting in that theater, however, I found myself waiting in on-the-edge-of-my-seat anticipation for the scene that drastically featured the personalities of that fairy-tale team. Because, the movie had to have it, right?

Surely no motion picture about the 2002 Oakland Athletics wouldn’t include a scene with Barry Zito – the team’s ace pitcher whose 23-5 record won him the Cy Young award despite not making it past the American League Division Series, right? I mean, there certainly had to be a part that showed Zito’s lovable downward-dog-on-the-field self goofing off with his “Big Three” companions, Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder, right? No? Ok, well there would most definitely be some sort of montage that highlighted the notorious twenty-up, twenty-down streak, right? Something that showed how truly remarkable that 2002 roster was, right? Just a little – just a TINY – something that showed them laughing, and fooling around in the dugout, causing us fans to think, “Jeez, these dudes look like they’re having so much fun – I wish I could be their friend,” which is what we were ALL thinking, be tea dubs. But, that clip…that clip that showed how absolutely infectious that team was – as a whole – how absolutely magical the summer at that dilapidated coliseum in Oakland was, how fun it was to watch Miguel Tejada come up to bat, how great it was to see Oakland in the MLB limelight, that clip just never came.

Yes, the movie included the A’s twenty-game winning streak – it’d be impossible to make a movie about that year in baseball without doing so. But, even so, the scene left me feeling hungry and dissatisfied. It made it seem like the 2002 A’s were a total fluke. Like they weren’t even really ‘that good’. Like the entire country wasn’t watching them. But they were. Everyone was.

When I left the theater I ‘got it’. I understood that a movie about Billy Beane, the man couldn’t simultaneously be about the 2002 Oakland Athletics, the players. It just couldn’t. Not when the two are so separate. Regardless of my longing for ‘more Zito’ (because yum!), ‘more Miggy’, ‘more A’s’, what happened as I was exiting the theater is what solidified Moneyball as a film for me: I heard people who said they didn’t like baseball say they ‘loved’ the movie. And, that’s what it was. A movie. Nothing more. Moneyball did a stellar job of showing that you don’t have to know anything about baseball, or baseball history, to fall in love with a movie about one. So, job well done, Moneyball cast and crew – or should I say, job HELLA well done. And, hey, it could’ve been worse: it could have been another movie about the Yankees or Red Sox…