The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘Cincinnati Reds’

The day that Dock Ellis beaned everybody

Posted by keithosaunders on April 15, 2016

Dock Ellis, who spent the better part of his career pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates, is mostly famous for having claimed to have pitched a no hitter while on acid.  He managed, however,  to compile some impressive stats in his 12 year major league career.  His lifetime ERA is 3.46, he has a record of 138-119 including 71 complete games and 14 shut outs.

A couple of days ago I read an article in Deadspin about Ellis that knocked me out.  I’ll summarize, but you really should check this out, if for no other reason than to see how differently the game was played 35-40 years ago.

According to Ellis the only team that intimidated the Pirates was the Cincinnati Reds.  The Reds and Pirates had been alternating appearing in the World Series — the Pirates in 1969 and ’71, and the Reds in 1970, and ’72 – and the two had been meeting in the playoffs almost every year.

By 1974 Ellis had had enough and he decided that the next time he faced the Reds he was going to bean every batter.  Every batter!   On May 1st Ellis faced the Reds for the first time that season and he proceeded to make good on his threat.

He considered not hitting Pete Rose because he knew Roses would shake it off like it was nothing and charge towards first base like a bull. ( Rose was also a personnel friend) He thought better of it and hit him anyway.  He proceeded to hit Joe Morgan in the kidneys.  Then he beaned Dan Driessen.  He tried to hit Tony Perez but Perez was already backing up.  So he threw behind him, but Perez stepped forward, eventually walking.  He tried to hit Johnny Bench but once the count got to 2-0 manager, Danny Murtaugh, came out of the dugout and pulled him.  Ellis said that “[Murtaugh] looked at me hard.”  All I could think of was Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm when he stares down an adversary to detect if he is lying.

For those of us used to observing today’s pinkies-up style of baseball, in which the catchers are no longer allowed to block the plate, and pitchers are not allowed to complete potential no-hitters for fear of exceeding the magical number of 100, this is outrageous stuff.  The fact that Ellis was not ejected after hitting the third batter, and had to be pulled by his manager, is shocking!

I’m not advocating violence.  Obviously Ellis was a free spirit and his behavior was out of line to say the least.  But for crying out loud, is there a middle ground?!  Is baseball better off in this sanitized homogenized age?  Allow me to offer a response:

NO.

dockellis

 

 

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Martin Saunders Jan 15th, 1927-November 18th 2015

Posted by keithosaunders on November 23, 2015

My earliest memory is of my father encasing my brother and I in his arms and rolling us down a hillside in a park in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.  That’s all you need to know about him.  He was there for us.  He took us to ballgames, to the beach, Disneyland, played catch with us in the summer, and shot hoops with us in the winter.  Even though he didn’t make any real money until well into his middle age, he rented a piano and gave me piano lessons from the time I was 8 until I turned I8.  When I decided to make music my life’s work, rather than discourage me by suggesting I find something to fall back on he encouraged me to keep playing and to follow my dream of moving to New York City.

He was born in Brooklyn in 1927.  My grandfather Leo was a rabid Dodgers fan and he passed this on to my Dad who would pass it on to me, although unlike him I would become a traitor , turning to the New York Mets in 1984.

Dad grew up with those bad Dodgers teams of the ’30s but would see them develop into a juggernaut in the 40s and 50s. He used to tell me about those bad Dodgers teams — how Leo would take him to Ebbets field and insist on staying to the end of the game no matter how far the Dodgers were behind. “You never know!”  One day Leo wanted to take my Dad to a Dodgers game but the skies looked threatening.  He decided to phone the stadium.  My Dad tells the story that all of a sudden Leo burst out of the phone booth with a huge smile, shouting, “GAME TODAY!”

He had this uncle Bill who somehow knew Babe Ruth. One day Uncle Bill took my Dad, who would have been 4 or 5, to Manhattan to the hotel Ruth was staying in. Somehow Dad ended up in Ruth’s lap and the Bambino asked him, “Are you a Yankees fan, son?” My Dad scowled and shot back, “I root for the Dodgers!!” The Babe smiled, laughed, and answered, “You stick with them, son. One day they’ll be good!”

Shortly before coming out of the army in 1946 Dad was quarantined and finding himself bored with nothing to do he invented a card football game.  At some point it was actually published in Esquire magazine.  He also invented card baseball and basketball games but the game that my brother and I loved the most was card boxing.  Not because it was a good game — it wasn’t.  You assigned  the two boxers a color – red or black. If two cards of the same color turned over that was a knockdown – if three in a row came up it was a knockout.  What we loved about it was that Dad would announce the fight, often making it an imaginary fight between a pair of friends or our neighbors. His announcing was so funny that he would have us in hysterics.

He could name every World Series and how many games it went going back to 1940.  Through him I learned that Stan Musial was a Dodger-killer, the most rabid Dodger fans lived in Bay Ridge, and that Jackie Robinson was the most exciting player he ever saw.

When I was 19 I had my first gig away from home playing in a cruise ship lounge band.  Dad drove me to the harbor in San Pedro to board the ship.  We pulled up to find the ship 30 yards from the dock and moving in the wrong direction!  (I had been given an erroneous arrival time and would have to fly to San Francisco the next day to catch up with the ship)  It just so happened that the Dodgers were home playing a day game and on the spur of the moment my Dad suggested we go.  I’ll never forget that game.  The Reds got off to a 4-0 lead in the 1st inning and just when I was wondering if the day could get any worse the Dodgers answered with a 10 run bottom of the 1st and coasted to an easy victory.  But what has stuck with me all of these years is that stolen time that I had with my Dad at a weekday baseball game.  He took time off from work to cheer me up and ended up giving me a memory that lasted a lifetime.

Thank you, Dad.  Thank you for your wit, your humor, and your love.  You’re physical presence is gone but I’ll carry you with me forever.

 

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At last…the MLB playoffs!

Posted by keithosaunders on October 6, 2010

As we turn the page on another disappointing Mets season it’s time to focus on the playoffs.  The divisional series I’m most intrigued by is Phillies vs Reds — two classic teams which date back to before the turn of the 19th century. 

The Reds won the Black Sox Series of 1919 — there probably should be an asterisk after that one – and they appeared in back to back Series in 1939 and ’40, winning in 7 games against the Tigers in 1940.  They then endured a 21 year Series drought before losing to the Yankees in 5 games in 1961.  They lost to the Orioles in 1970 and the As in ’72, but by 1975 the Big Red Machine was in full bloom and they won a classic 7 game Series against the Boston Redsox.  Next year they would go on to sweep the Yankees.  Throw in a sweep of the steroidally-infused Oakland As of 1990 and you are up to date with Reds Series history.

It’s a much simpler endeavor to chronicle the Philadelphia Phillies World Series appearances.  In fact, until I was 20 years of age they had yet to win one.  They first appeared in the Series in 1915, losing to the Redsox in 5 games.  If you had been born in November of that year you would have had to wait until your 35th birthday to see them play post-season ball.  That’s 1950, for those of you scoring at home, when the team known as the Whiz kids finally returned to the Series.  They were the youngest National League champs in history with an average age of 26.  Youth was not served, however, as they were swept by the Yankees, who were in the midst of winning 5 consecutive championships.

In the 70s the Phillies got good again.  (note:  I am magnanimously skipping over the great pennant race collapse of 1964.)  With a nucleus of Mike Schmidt, Bake McBride, Larry Bowa, Steve Carlton, and Tug McGraw they appeared in 3 straight playoffs — from 1976 to ’78 — losing all of them.  Just when it appeared they would never get over the hump, they beat the Houston Astros in the 1980 NLCS, a series in which 4 out of the 5 games went to extra innings!  The Phillies would go on to win their first World Series ever, beating the Kansas City Royals in 6 games.

In 1983 the Phillies lost to the Orioles in 5 games, and in 1993 their Lenny Dykstra/John Kruk/Mitch Williams version lost to the Toronto Bluejays in 6 games.  (I’ll thank you not to mention Joe Carter)  That takes us into the current millennium in which the Phillies won their second Series, a 5 gamer against the upstart Tampa Bay Rays.  Throw in last year’s loss to the Yankees in 6 games and you are up to date.

Now let the games begin!

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The Bumblebee Bucs

Posted by keithosaunders on June 18, 2010

Between the years of 1977 and 1983 the Pittsburgh Pirates wore what was arguably the most garish uniforms in the history of baseball.  Their color scheme, like their Pittsburgh brethren Penguins and Steelers, was banana yellow and black.  The combination of colors changed every day.  One day they might wear a black jersey with yellow pants — the next it could be the opposite.  Or they could go straight black jersey and pants.  They also had white jerseys and pants which gave them nine different combinations.  I always looked forward to seeing the Pirates on their bi-annual trips to Dodger Stadium –for me the holy grail was all yellow.

Nowadays it’s common for a team to wear an alternate black jersey to go along with their regular pants.  Back then, however, it was a radical idea to have more than two possible uniform combinations, the norm being home whites and travelling greys. 

  The Pirates were dominant in that era and featured players every bit as colorful as their uniforms.  Kent Tekulve was a reed-thin submariner relief pitcher with a rubber arm.  He regularly would throw more than 100 innings a year.  In those days closers weren’t only used in the 9th inning, but when they were needed the most, which often as not was the 7th. 

Bill Madlock was a batting champ — a pure line drive hitter who regularly batted over .300 .  Willie Stargell, Pops, was my favorite.  Even though by the late 70s he was nearing the end of a great career, he was still a feared home run hitter.  To this day he is one of three players to hit a ball out of Dodger Stadium.  (Mark McGwire and Mike Piazza are the other two)  He did it twice.    He also owns the record for the longest home run ever hit in Dodger Stadium — 506 feet.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention two-time batting champ Dave Parker, the Cobra.  He was a tall, burly right fielder with a howitzer for an arm.  In the late 70s we thought he was on track to become one of the all time greats but injuries and cocaine use hampered the latter part of his career, largely spent with the Cincinnati Reds.

So let’s have a drink to the Pirates of the ’70s, a team that along with the Dodgers and Reds, dominated the post season.  The decade was framed by their twin championships of 1971 and 1979, but they also appeared in the NLCS in 1970, ’72, 74, and ’75.  As of now the Pirates have not appeared in a post season since 1991 which is a dubious record:  No other sports franchise has suffered through this long of a drought.  Perhaps they should bring back the Bumblebee Bucs unis.   

For those of you interested in sports uniforms here is a link to a great blog called uniwatch.

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