Updated: September 21st, 2006
On April 17th, Pedro Martinez reached a monumental milestone when he
defeated the Atlanta Braves for his 200th victory. Now Pedro is closing
in on an even more exclusive club, 3,000 K’s.
The K count is presently 2,997. Pedro has struck out 136 batters in 22
starts so far this season. After a lengthy respite because of a very
calf, Pedro has returned albeit not 100%. Tonight was a positive step however, as Pedro rode a dancing curve and sharp changeup on his way to striking out 7 Marlins over 5 innings. While the Mets have clinched, the September drama for Pedro’s final regular season start coudn’t be anymore charged than it will be next week. Pedro will need only 3 K’s to reach the magic number when he goes against the the same team he garnered his 200th victory against, the Mets’ greatest antagonist over the past 10 seasons, the Atlanta Braves. To make sure you don’t miss this historical moment, keep track of Willie’s rotation for the next week as Pedro’s final start will be at Atlanta on either Tuesday, 9/26 or Wednesday, 9/27.
When Pedro reaches 3,000, he will
be the 15th major leaguer
to accomplish this amazing feat. Curt Schilling was the last pitcher to
reach the magic number. He accomplished the feat just a few weeks ago
Oakland when he struck out Nick Swisher in the first inning. Last year
reached the rare and special number on 7/26/05 vs the Giants. Goooooooooooo Pedro!
Present Strikeout Total Strikeouts Needed
*3,000 K Fast Fact
Cesar Geronimo is
the only batter who was the 3,000th victim of two different pitchers.
On 7/17/74, he was the 3,000th batter to whiff against Bob Gibson. On 7/4/80 it was deja vu when Nolan Ryan struck him out for his 3,000th strikeout.
I thought that on the eve of the Yankees first trip to Fenway this season, a good Ted Williams story was called for. Recently, a good friend of mine and a rabid Red Sox fan, Dan Gwirtzman shared this story with me about how Teddy ‘Ballgame’ got the umpires to call the strike zone the way he liked it. This is the story the way Dan told it to me. It is adapted from the original telling in the book, "The Brothers K" by David James Duncan.
When Williams came into the league he was confident and quiet, he was focused and he kept to himself. He wouldn’t sign autographs and he wouldn’t say anything much to the reporters. The Boston fans didn’t much like it. So the press and the fans booed him. But Ted didn’t care a bit. He just took it in. He accepted the resentment and the press. This made the fans complain he was arrogant. But he stuck to his game.
As Teddy’s greatness continued to grow, the tension with the fans and the press mounted. He was hitting so well, making Boston shine in the AL East, that people now simply had to know what made him tick. They still resented him, but they needed to have some substance. So now every reporter in town was after him for an interview. But Old Ted held his ground and continued to hit the ball. He also never so much as glanced at an umpire after a close pitch. The umps didn’t mind this. Also, as much as fans hate umps, umps hate fans. So the fact that the fans also booed Williams in his own stadium gave him solidarity with the umps.
All the while Ted was just waiting. And then, one summer day, out of nowhere he relaxed his public stance and decided to grant one sports journalist an interview. They met at a hotel. The journalist fired off three questions – whose your favorite director? what’s your favorite burger in Boston, how long is your noodle?"
Williams didn’t flinch. He answered the questions except the last one. Then the reporter hauled off with the question everyone wanted to ask him, "how do you hit so darn well?"
Ted sat back, took a sip of tea, folded up the paper, and relaxed his manner. He talked of high fastballs, and curveballs he had known, and bat speed, hitters with quick wrists and slow wrists, and as he got on to the subject of fast sliders, Williams suddenly sat up and leaned in.
The reporter was rapt.
"The thing is," Ted said, "I can see the ball from the moment it leaves the pitcher’s hand right to where it jumps off the bat."
The reporter took it in, delighted – he had an article. He ran home and typed it out. It was in the papers the next day. And now the message was out: Williams had perfect eyes. The umps began to figure he was right and who were they going to try and be by disagreeing with Ted Williams on a meaningful close pitch? From then on Williams had his strike zone and went on to put together two of the best seasons any man ever had, including probably the last .400 season.
Carl The Cabbie
"Take Me Out To The Ballgame"
Click On Photo To Enlarge
*Notice that the famous baseball ditty was a ‘crossout’ away from being known as,
"Take Me out To The Ballgame, Take Me Out To The Rank"
Click below to listen to rare versions of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" & "The Umpire"
Sung by Phil Rizzuto, Roy Campanella, Tommy Heinrich and Ralph Branca
Care of Golden Records (Arthur Shimkin)
There was a time before catcher’s masks, an era when catchers wore tightly wound rubberbands around their teeth to protect from getting them knocked out. As with any popular new past time, baseball evolved quickly. Cincinnati Red Stockings’ founder and shortstop George Wright began to use a mouthpiece in the 1860’s. He patented it and made a pile of money selling his mouthguard on the open market. While many catchers were saving teeth, there wasn’t much they could do for the rest of their face, until the mid-1870’s. That’s when a few fellows at Harvard started talking about making a mask that would change the catching position forever.
The popular tale begins in 1875 with a late season game between arch-rivals Harvard and Yale. Somewhere in the early innings, Harvard pitcher Harold Ernst came to bat. As the first pitch approached he jumped back, startled by the extreme new swerving movement on the ball as it crossed the plate. Ernst struck out on three pitches. The rest of the Harvard lineup also seemed to be swinging at air. Ernst watched Yale pitcher Charles Avery’s throwing motion very closely for the rest of the day. Yale went on to easily defeat Harvard for the sixth time in their last seven meetings. After the game, Ernst knew that to be one of the best he would have to learn the delivery of this tantalizing pitch. In the off-season he went about teaching himself how to throw what we now call the curve ball. The effects of Ernst’s offseason work were immediate. On opening day in 1876, throwing as many curves as his elbow could stand, Ernst no-hit the powerhouse Lowell, Massachusetts club. He led Harvard to a 25-12 record that season and established himself as one the pioneers of pitching.
The curve ball was considered by most players and spectators as the best new pitch in baseball- but also the riskiest. Catchers everywhere were having a heck of a time holding on to pitches, causing a rise in errors as well as a rise in mangled jaws and noses. Harvard catcher Howard Thatcher wasn’t returning for the 1877 season, but he had helped to prepare James Alexander Tyng (man with mustache in photo to the right) as his replacement. Tyng was Harvard’s best all-around athlete and would later go on to become the first Harvard alum to play in a major league game (1879 Boston Red Caps). Like Thatcher before him, Tyng was having a terrible time catching Ernst. His face was taking a beating and he was becoming increasingly worried about permanent disfigurement. This safety concern prompted Player/Manager, Fred Thayer (man with hat in photo to the right) to consider how to boost Tyng’s confidence and protect his face:
"In one or two games in which he caught behind the bat, he had been hit by foul tips and had become more or less timid. He was, by all odds, the most available man as catcher for the season of ’77, and it was up to me to find some way to bring back his confidence,"
Thayer had been brewing an idea for a while, ever since some dugout chats he had once held with former catcher Howard Thatcher. Back in 1875, after Thatcher had taken a few too many foul tips to the noggin, the two men had discussed how to better protect a catcher without impeding his visibility. Realizing he could no longer sit on the idea, Thayer decided a fencing mask provided the closest blueprint to what they needed. In the winter of 1876 he hired a local tinsmith to construct a "bird cage" mask with padding in the chin and forehead area. During practices Tyng and Thayer experimented and revised the mask several times until they got it just right for Tyng’s face. On April 12th, 1877 James Tyng became the first man to wear a catcher’s mask in a professional game. The reaction in the media was mixed to say the least:
"The new mask was proved a complete success, since it entirely protects the face and head and adds greatly to the confidence of the catcher, who need not feel that he is every moment in danger of a life-long injury. To the ingenious inventor of this mask we are largely indebted for the excellent playing of our new catcher, who promises to excel the fine playing of those who have previously held this position."
"There is a good deal of beastly humbug in contrivances to protect men from things that don’t happen. There is about as much sense in putting a lightning rod on a catcher as a mask."
Thayer received a patent for the mask in 1878. Later in the year, A.G Spalding and Brothers Company, the leading sporting goods dealer in the country, began selling the Thayer Catcher’s Mask for $3.00 in their catalogue. Slowly, catcher’s started to use it, but it wasn’t until 1879 that sales took off because of a rule change that did away with the one bounce rule. It was now necessary for a catcher to catch a two-strike foul tip in the air in order to record an out. With catchers moving closer to the batter in order to take advantage of this new ordinance, the catcher’s mask became indispensible. Although Fred Thayer received the patent, it should be noted that both Howard Thatcher and James Tyng also layed partial claims to the invention of the first catcher’s mask.
Super Bowl XL is upon us, and coaches Mike Holmgren and Bill Cowher are busy preparing their teams for battle in the National Football League’s main event. Come Sunday- the scouting, the practicing, the strategizing, the game planning will be done, and all that will be left for the coaches to do could be the most important job of all. The job will be to stir the troops, rally the spirit, to lead their men out of that locker room believing with every ounce of their hearts and souls that they are going to win. As the pre-game hysteria culminates, there will be a moment just before the player introductions, deep in Ford Field beneath the din of Super Bowl madness, when the two coaches will be faced with a final golden opportunity to leave a lasting impression- some inspired words that can spur their team into football immortality… Helluva responsibility! My advice to Holmgren and Cowher is, if you get a little tongue-tied before the big speech, remember, you can always call on Lombardi. A little Vince goes a long way.
Vince Lombardi Quotes:
"A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe
in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication,
the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice the little
things in life and pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it
can be done."
"Teamwork is what the Green Bay Packers were all about.
They didn’t do it for individual glory. They did it because they loved
"Teams do not go physically flat, they go mentally stale."
"Mental toughness is many things and rather difficult to explain. Its qualities are sacrifice and self-denial. Also, most importantly, it is combined with a perfectly disciplined will that refuses to give in. It’s a state of mind-you could call it character in action."
"Winning isn’t everything–but wanting to win is."
"Winning is not a sometime thing: it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do the right thing once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing."
"They call it coaching but it is teaching. You do not just tell them…you show them the reasons."
"The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender."
Then Click On Audio Player
Listen To Vince Lombardi
Thanks to early baseball pioneer Albert Spaulding, many fans stillthink of Abner Doubleday as the inventor of baseball. In truth, baseball
was born through the alchemy of many efforts by men who contributed
far more than the story of Abner Doubleday. In the first of a series here at INSIDE PITCH we will look at some of the ‘fathers’ of baseball who unduly lie in the shadows of General Abner- who should be more properly honored in his remembrance as a great leader during the Battle of Gettysburg (Civil War) rather than for his contributions to baseball.
In it’s early beginnings, as baseball or base ball (pre-19th century spelling) evolved from a series of games between social clubs into professional sporting leagues, a man known as Sir Henry Chadwick was busy putting pen to paper recording many of the first stories and statistics of this new professional game. Chadwick would become what most baseball historians consider the first ‘American Sportswriter’ or the ‘Father of Base Ball’.
While there were articles written about professional sporting events (boxing, cricket, chess, billiards…) before Chadwick, there had never been any continual coverage of a professional sport in this country. Professional sports in America were just bubbling in their infancy when Chadwick, a writer and amateur statistician, began to enlighten readers about this fanciful new game called base ball- a game he was impassioned to make into America’s pastime.
In the 1850’s he began submitting scores and stories to local Brooklyn newspapers. By 1862 he had every New York newspaper including the New York Times reporting on baseball. In the 1860’s as a scorekeeper for the National Base Ball Club of Washington D.C. he developed new ways for measuring the value of a pitcher and a hitter. Earned Run Average (ERA) and Batting Average (AVG) were two of the many statistics first employed by Sir Henry. He was also an integral member and contributor to the earliest rules committees in baseball and wielded strong influence on rule changes through his columns which were often pointed and severly critical of the powers that be. A weekly rant about his abhorrence for gambling and the need for temperance in baseball was a common theme in many articles.
The first hard-cover book about baseball was penned by Mr. Chadwick in 1868, "The Game of Base Ball?". His popularity as a writer began to blossom when he edited the first public baseball guides of the day, The Beadle Baseball Player and the annual Spalding and Reach Guide, where he taught readers how to develop their skills and play the game. His newspaper column, "Chadwick’s Chat", was one of the most read columns in New York City. His weekly articles helped shape the format for modern day sportswriting. A usual "Chat" would combine commentary with a game-recap and a boxscore. The modern day baseball boxscore can also be credited to Mr. Chadwick. Having grown up an avid cricket and rounders fan in England, Chadwick used the cricket boxscore as a template. A boxscore (Photo Below) from an 1876 game between the Boston Red Caps and the Philadelphia Athletics may look quite different from today, but it does show how baseball was beginning to stamp its own identity. The term home-run was already in use and scorekeepers had begun to differentiate between earned and unearned runs.
Henry Chadwick was more than just a sportswriter, he was also an accomplished pianist, a songwriter, a drama critic and during the Civil War- he spent a short time as a news correspondent. He was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in 1938 and remains the only writer elected into the Hall itself (as opposed to the Writers Wing). He will forever be remembered as one of the true forefathers of the game of baseball.
"The great National Game of Base Ball which he founded and fostered so steadily, firmly and conscientiously, as it now stands, is a monument to his memory. It is doubtless the only monument he would have wished. That is an imperishable as any statue of granite or marble."
—Sam Crane, 19th century Washington statesman and professional second baseman, posthumously talking about Henry Chadwick.
Click On Photos
When it comes to hitting, Ted Williams has long been remembered as the "Scientist" or the "Splendid Splinter" of baseball. Here is a photo from the Baseball Hall of Fame of Ted Williams’ hitting chart. He broke up the strike zone into 77 parts (signified by colored baseballs) and assigned a number for what his batting average should be if pitches were thrown in those areas. Notice that there are only three areas where he thinks he should hit .400—talk about a picky hitter! In 1941 Williams became the last major leaguer to hit over .400 for an entire season (.406). Williams’ uncanny patience also led to 2021 career walks and a lifetime .482 on base percentage.
The "Scientist" at Work
Bruce Sutter is the only player on this year’s hall of fame ballot who deserves to be inducted into the hallowed shrine. Rich "Goose" Gossage, the other closer who has a shot was a great reliever, but does not deserve induction.
Sutter saved only ten (300 Saves) fewer games than Gossage (310 Saves) in ten fewer seasons. He was the dominant National League Fireman between 1977-1984. Gossage was arguably the best in his league for only two seasons. Sutter was also only the second man in baseball history to save 40 or more games in a season (45 Saves in 1984). But, one of his greatest achievements was his invention of the revolutionary split-fingered fastball.