Results tagged ‘ third baseman ’
Joe Sewell turned another man’s tragedy into an opportunity that eventually landed him in Baseball’s Hall of Fame. When Cleveland shortstop, Ray Chapman was struck and killed by a pitch thrown by the Yankees’ Carl Mays in a late-season game in September of 1920, Sewell was called up from Cleveland’s farm system to replace Chapman. During the remainder of that month Sewell did not field his position very well, committing 15 errors in just 22 games, but what he did do was get on base, averaging .329 with a .413 on base percentage. That was enough to earn Sewell the Indians’ shortstop job for the next season and Sewell never looked back. There were quite a few other things Sewell never or hardly ever did while wearing a Major League baseball uniform. He never broke his bat. In fact, Sewell used the same bat during his entire 14-season big league career. He also never took a day off. From that first game as a replacement for Chapman in September 1920 until May 2, 1930, Sewell played in 1,103 consecutive games, which was the Major League record until Lou Gehrig shattered it. And Sewell hardly ever struck out. In fact, the 5’6 inch left-handed hitter, whiffed just 114 times in 1,903 games for an average of about eight strikeouts per 154-game season. It was said of Sewell at the time that if he didn’t swing at a pitch, umpires knew it wasn’t a strike. When Sewell played in just 109 games for Cleveland in 1930 and his batting average slumped to .289, the Indians coldly released him. That’s when the Yankees signed him and manager Joe McCarthy made the Titus, Alabama native his starting third baseman. Sewell responded by hitting .302 and scoring 102 runs during his first season in pinstripes. The following year, Sewell and McCarthy both won their first World Series rings on a team that included seven other future Hall of Famers in addition to the Manager and third baseman. Sewell played one more season for New York and retired. He had a .312 lifetime batting average and a .391 career on base percentage. He passed away in 1990 at the age of 91.
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As a student of Yankee history, I find myself wondering how will Yankee fans fifty years from now look back at the behavior of A-Rod from the 2012 postseason onward. Ryan Dempster did something I didn’t think was possible. He made me root for Alex Rodriguez again. Don’t get me wrong, I still wish the greedy and self-absorbed A-Rod had never been a member of my favorite team’s roster but what Dempster did when he threw at Rodriguez was gutless. It was also stupid. In fact, from this point forward, I will be referring to the Boston pitcher as Ryan Dumb-ster.
As A-Rod celebrates his 38th birthday and continues his now-sputtering quest to become Baseball’s all-time home run king, you would think he is a lot more at peace with himself than he was just two years ago at this time. I believe the key is that he has finally stopped trying to portray himself one way to the public while living his private life in a completely different way.
I did not become a true fan of A-Rod the player until 2007, when two things happened simultaneously. First, he had the most incredible year on the field of any Yankee I’ve ever seen play the game. Secondly, he learned how to say “no comment” whenever the New York media asked him questions that were not about his play on the field.
Then, A-Rod and his agent, Scott Boras orchestrated that tasteless and clueless announcement during the 2007 World Series that A-Rod was opting out of his Yankee contract. Even though the move did end up making millions more Yankee dollars for Rodriguez, it was a public relations disaster for him at the same time.
By the time 2008 rolled around, A-Rod was still saying no comment to the reporters but the papparazzi photos of his extra marital actions started speaking a lot louder than his words. With the Yankees struggling with injuries under then new manager, Joe Girardi, the sports pages of the New York tabloids were filled with photos of Rodriguez in night time action. Unfortunately, none of those photos showed A-Rod with a baseball uniform on.
Then during the spring of 2009 we learned that A-Rod did take steroids. So in the space of just two and a half pinstripe seasons, Rodriguez’s actions verified his greed, his marital infidelity and his cheating on the field, a sort of modern day ballplayer’s triple crown. But then came the Yankees’ glorious ’09 post season run, with Alex leading the way with some of the most impressive clutch hitting I’ve seen during my fifty years as an avid fan of MLB. He had reversed his reputation as a perennial goat of October, captured his elusive World Championship ring and gained the somewhat begrudging adoration of Big Apple fans all at the same time. It seemed too good to be true and perhaps it was. This past year we learned that Rodriguez visited, Dr Anthony Galea, the recently convicted Canadian “blood doctor” without telling the Yankee front-office.
So like many Yankee fans, I’m still wondering who this superstar is. The one good thing is that the newest version of A-Rod no longer attempts to profusely deny his faults. Instead, he just refuses to discuss them with the media, which is perfectly OK by me. The one I’ve watched play in pinstripes these past eight seasons is certainly one of the most talented baseball players I’ve seen in the last half-century and I guess I’m hoping that is how he will be remembered.
Ironically, this Yankee who stopped talking about himself shares his birthday with another Yankee who never could. This utility-infielder and this Yankee starting pitcher from the 1950’s were also born on July 27th.
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When I think about Boone two things immediately come to mind. The first of course is the home half of the 11th inning of the seventh and final game of the 2003 ALCS, Red Sox versus Yankees in the Bronx. Score is tied, 5-5 with Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield on the mound as Aaron Boone steps into the batters’ box to lead off the inning for New York. His brother Brett is doing the game for Fox in the booth. I absolutely knew that Boone was going to hit a home run off of Wakefield and when he did, against the hated Red Sox and I got to see it on my television set, it just does not get any better than that for die hard Yankee fans like me.
The next thing that comes to mind when I think about Boone is the famous line from the movie, The Godfather II, “This is the business we chose.” Boone’s whole life, his whole heritage had been baseball. His grandfather, father and brother were all Major Leaguers. He had just hit one of the most famous home runs in the history of the most famous sports franchise on earth. He was the starting third baseman for the AL Champion Yankees. He was at the peak of his playing career when he made the decision to play some pick-up basketball during the off-season and ripped apart his knee. In what seemed like a blink of an eye, the Yankee front office went out and got A-Rod and dropped Boone like a lead weight.
Talk about going from the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat in record time, Boone’s odyssey was unbelievable. But the guy took it with grace and professionalism every step of the way. I will always be a fan of Aaron Boone. Always!
This is not the switch-hitting Bobby Brown who played a lot of outfield for the Yankees in 1980. This is the Bobby Brown who was a decent hitting, terrible fielding utility player for New York in the late forties and early fifties. This is the Bobby Brown who shined in four Fall Classics as a Yankee and holds a .439 lifetime World Series batting average. This is the Bobby Brown who gave up baseball to become a cardiologist and then gave up his medical career to become a front office executive for the Texas Rangers and then President of the American League. This is not the Bobby Brown who married Whitney Houston.
Brown shares his October 25th birthday with another former AL President, this former Yankee reliever from the early sixties, this former Yankee shortstop from the early eighties and this Yankee bullpen coach.