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Happy 80th Birthday Boog Powell 2

Posted on August 17, 2021 by Dean Hybl
Happy 80th Birthday Boog Powell.

The Baltimore Orioles of the 1960s and early 1970s boasted a roster busting with stars from top to bottom. While Brooks and Frank Robinson were the two best players on the team, the most imposing figure was a 6-foot-4, 240 pound first baseman who hit towering home runs and picked throws out of the dirt with ease. It was that player, Boog Powell, who became a favorite to many young fans, including myself.

It is hard to believe that today is the 80th birthday for one of the great sluggers of his era and we at Sports Then and Now want to wish a Happy Birthday to one of our all-time favorite players.

Given the super-sizing of professional baseball players in recent decades, Powell’s size may no longer seem all that special, but in the 1960s and 1970 when most players were shaped like string beans, Powell was hard to miss. With tree trunks for arms that looked even larger when wearing the Orioles tight fitting gray uniform top, he spent more than a decade launching mammoth home runs and playing first base for the Baltimore Orioles.

A fair-skinned giant with reddish hair, Powell looked like a farm boy from the Midwest, but actually was born in Lakeland, Florida and grew up in the Sunshine State. Though his given name was John Wesley Powell, he earned the nickname “Boog” as a kid due to his mischievous nature. He seemed to always be getting into something and became known as Booger, as in, “What’s that little Booger doing now?” The nickname was eventually shortened to Boog, probably around the time he got big enough to beat the snot out of anyone who would dare call him Booger.

Powell’s prowess on the baseball field was evident from an early age. In 1954 he was part of the Lakeland Little League squad that played in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Signed as a free agent by the Baltimore Orioles in 1959, Powell quickly made his way to the majors. He led the International League in home runs in 1961 and made his major league debut that September.

The next season he became the starting leftfielder for the Birds and was an important reason the Orioles were steadily moving from perennial doormat to contender in the American League. Powell blasted 25 home runs in 1963 and the following season hit 39 homers and led the American League with a .606 slugging percentage despite missing several weeks with a broken wrist.

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Shohei Ohtani Latest in Evolution of Elite Athletes in Baseball 1

Posted on July 11, 2021 by Dean Hybl
There have been many great athletes in the history of Major League Baseball, but you can draw a clear line in the evolution from Ruth to Mantle, Jackson and now Ohtani.

There are quite a few exciting young players in Major League Baseball, but while most of them fit the traditional model of players in baseball history, in my opinion one stands out as part of a very elite lineage of special athletes in baseball.

Whether he is throwing a 100 MPH fastball, launching a tape measure home run or gliding around the bases like an Olympic sprinter, Shohei Ohtani is clearly a unique athlete within the current game of baseball.

In my opinion, Ohtani is the fourth player over the last 100 years who stood out from the crowd, not just in relation to their baseball production, but more specifically in how their unique level of freak athleticism allowed them to do things never seen before.

The first of these four was Babe Ruth. Though most common images of him are from later in his career when he was slightly overweight, the reality is that the young Babe Ruth was a transcendent athlete who forever changed the game of baseball.

Ruth first burst on the scene in 1914 as a 19-year-old left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. He posted an 18-8 record with 2.44 ERA as a 20-year-old in 1915 and then won 23 and 24 games respectively over the next two seasons. He also led the American league with a 1.75 ERA in 1916.

Part of three World Series Championship teams in four seasons with the Red Sox between 1915 and 1918, Ruth set a World Series record by pitching 29.2 consecutive scoreless innings (it stood until 1961).

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Al Bumbry: From Bronze Star to AL Rookie of the Year 0

Posted on May 31, 2021 by Dean Hybl

The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month won a Bronze Star in Vietnam before going on to win American League Rookie of the Year honors and playing 14 seasons in the Major Leagues.

Though only 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds, Al Bumbry was a four-year basketball player at Virginia State College (now University). The school restarted its baseball program during his career and Bumbry hit .578 during his senior season to earn notice from the Baltimore Orioles, who picked him in the 11th round of the MLB Draft.

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The Most Sought After Baseball Collectibles 3

Posted on May 21, 2021 by Mark Geddes

Memorabilia has become a cornerstone of modern sports. It takes but a minute of entering a stadium to be inundated with concession stands and vendors hawking the latest merchandise. Fans collect, display, and sell these in an ever-growing marketplace. But things were not always this way.

Sports collectibles were an afterthought in the past. These throwaway items were given out in a box of cereal or a pack of cigarettes. As people discarded these items that ended up stored in attics with other junk, their scarcity created higher prices. Below are some of the rarest and most sought-after collectibles in sports.

Honus Wagner Baseball Card

Ask any baseball card collector what the industry’s crown jewel is, and they’ll immediately zero in on the infamous T206 Honus Wagner. This card was produced by the American Tobacco Company back in 1909 and had a limited release. A recent sale of this card in 2016 went for over $3 million.

What makes this card so unique is its rarity. While the company produced thousands of cards, very few Honus Wagner ones went into circulation due to a rumored financial dispute. Even fewer are in existence today.

For fans of the card, Topps did reissue it in 2002 and 2020. But don’t expect to fetch the same price.

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Happy 90th Birthday Willie Mays 1

Posted on May 06, 2021 by Dean Hybl
Shown celebrating his 41st birthday in 1972, the great Willie Mays turns 90 years old today!

The beauty of sports is that even though his birth certificate tells us that Willie Mays turns 90 years old today, our minds can still remember the “Say Hey Kid” as the young superstar with a smile and personality that could light up New York and who possessed enough talent to fill up a baseball stadium.

You can argue about who was the greatest baseball player of all-time, but there is little doubt that Mays is on the short list for any discussion.

Mays was the rare player who could win games with his bat, glove and legs.

After earning Rookie of the Year honors in 1951, Mays missed most of the 1952 season and all of the 1953 season while serving in the military.

When he returned in 1954, Mays began a streak of 19 straight years earning an All-Star spot as he won the first of his two National League MVP Awards.

During his career, Mays led the league in runs, hits, triples, home runs, stolen bases, batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage.  He was the first player in baseball history to steal 30 bases and hit 30 home runs in the same season.

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Luis “El Tiante” Tiant 1

Posted on April 06, 2021 by Dean Hybl
Luis Tiant

The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the ace of the Boston Red Sox staff when they reached the 1975 World Series and is considered by many to be someone worthy of induction in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Luis Tiant, known as “El Tiante”, spent 19 years in the majors between 1964 and 1982.

Though he was 75-64 with a 2.84 ERA in six seasons with the Cleveland Indians and then helped the Minnesota Twins reach the playoffs in 1970, it appeared that Tiant’s career might be over following the 1970 season.

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Drew Pearson: Mr. Clutch
      August 7, 2021 | 6:59 pm

      Drew Pearson

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former NFL wide receiver know as “Mr. Clutch” for his penchant for making big receptions at crucial moments of the game. After waiting for more than 30 years, he is finally earning his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2021 Hall of Fame Class.

      During his decade with the Dallas Cowboys, Drew Pearson had a habit of making the big catch at the right moment to help the Cowboys time and again snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

      The favorite target of Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, Pearson was widely recognized as one of the great receivers of his era. Though at the time of his retirement many expected Pearson to easily breeze into the Hall of Fame, his enshrinement was derailed by changes to the game which artificially inflated receiver stats and made the numbers he produced during a time when wide receivers weren’t catching 100 passes a season seem inferior.

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