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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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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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25 Years Ago: Cal Ripken Jr. Passes the Iron Horse 0

Posted on September 05, 2020 by Dean Hybl

It is hard to believe that a quarter century has passed since Cal Ripken Jr. put Major League Baseball on his back and helped it get past one of the darkest periods in its illustrious history.

On September 5, 1995 Ripken matched the seemingly unbreakable record of Lou Gehrig by playing in his 2,130th consecutive game. After the game became official and the streak numbers on the B&O Warehouse turned to 2,130, he punctuated the night with a sixth inning home run.

The drama was even better the following night as Ripken hit a home run in the fourth inning. Then, with Baltimore leading 3-1 midway through the fifth inning the game was halted for the dramatic unveiling of the number 2,131.

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Remembering the Great Frank Robinson 0

Posted on February 07, 2019 by Dean Hybl

Frank Robinson-OriolesThe baseball universe is missing a major star today with the passing of all-time great Frank Robinson. Anytime you use the words “only” and “first” in someone’s biography, you know that they were probably quite special.

That is certainly the case for Robinson during his playing days as well as throughout his career as a manager and administrator.

There are many superlatives to share about what Robinson accomplished on the field, but one thing that makes him stand out is that he remains the only player in Major League Baseball history to earn the Most Valuable Player Award in both the American and the National Leagues.

Starting his career with the Cincinnati Reds in 1956, Robinson blasted 38 home runs and was named the National League Rookie of the Year. He quickly joined Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente as one of the elite outfielders in the National League.

In his first seven major league seasons, Robinson eclipsed 30 home runs six times and the other season hit 29. He was a regular .300 or better hitter and annually ranked near the top of the league in runs batted in.

He reached new heights during the 1961 campaign when he was named the National League MVP while leading the Reds to the National League Pennant and a spot in the World Series. He hit 37 home runs with 124 RBI and a .323 batting average. Read the rest of this entry →

Fortunes Turn Quickly For Mid-Market Major League Baseball Teams 0

Posted on September 02, 2018 by Dean Hybl

Orioles-Royals-2018

Just four years ago the Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals played in the AL Championship Series. This year they may not COMBINE for 100 wins.

The Major League Baseball matchup this weekend between the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles illustrates exactly how quickly the fortunes can change for mid-market teams in the modern era of baseball.

It was just four years ago that the two teams combined for 185 regular season wins and met in the American League Championship Series.

This season, the two teams entered September with a combined total of 83 victories and a staggering 186 losses.

Baseball executives like to brag about having competitive balance where no matter what size the market a team can compete for a title.

However, the reality is that for teams outside of the big-budget Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox, competitive balance means they have a small window for success before they have to drop back down to the bottom and try to crawl their way back to competitiveness.

The Houston Astros are a prime example of that reality. In 2014 while the Orioles and Royals were playing for the AL title, the Astros were celebrating that they won more than 56 games for the first time in four years. After going 162-324 between 2011-2013, the Astros “improved” to 70-92 in 2014 and then in 2015 went 86-76 and reached the playoffs.

The way things are looking, both the Orioles (40-95) and Royals (43-91) will be hard pressed to finish the 2018 season with a better record than the 51-111 mark the Astros posted in 2013.

In the 24 seasons since the baseball strike of 1994, the New York Yankees have posted a winning record every year. The Dodgers have been above .500 21 times and the Red Sox 20.

Conversely, of the other 27 teams, the St. Louis Cardinals are the only other team with 20 or more winning seasons during the last 24 years. In fact, the Cardinals are the only one of those 27 teams that hasn’t endured a stretch of at least three consecutive losing seasons.

All told, 16 teams have endured stretches of at least six consecutive losing seasons since 1995. The Pirates (18 straight), Orioles (14 straight) Tigers (11 straight), Brewers (10 straight) and Rays (10 straight) had double-digit periods of losing records since 1995. The Marlins, Reds and Royals each had nine consecutive losing years. Both the Orioles and Pirates did not have a winning season in the first decade of the new century and the Royals had a losing record in 17 of 18 seasons between 1995 and 2012. Read the rest of this entry →

Waiting for the Weekend: MLB Is Trying to Force the Orioles Out Of Baltimore 0

Posted on July 15, 2017 by Dean Hybl

There are a lot more empty seats for a Saturday afternoon Orioles game than there used to be.

There are a lot more empty seats for a Saturday afternoon Orioles game than there used to be.

I used to think that the New York Yankees were the greatest enemy of my favorite team the Baltimore Orioles. However, it is now becoming abundantly clear that the greatest threats to the future of the Orioles is not a division rival, but instead the evil duo of the Washington Nationals and Major League Baseball.

While it may take another decade or two to come to fruition, it now seems abundantly clear that the goal of the Nationals and Major League Baseball is to force the Orioles out of the city they have called home since 1954 (during which time three different franchises have called Washington home).

Considering that for 50 years the Orioles were one of the model franchises of the league, the fall from grace is quite surprising and disappointing.

It all started when Major League Baseball seized ownership of the Montreal Expos and in 2005 moved the team to Washington, DC.

At that time, Baltimore owner Peter Angelos fought the effort to move the team fearing that it would negatively impact the Orioles television revenue and fan base since Northern Virginia and Washington had long been an important part of the fan base for the Orioles, but while he could not stop the move, he did get some short-term financial concessions.

The Orioles received majority ownership of the MASN (Mid-Atlantic Sports Network) network and were given the rights to broadcast Nationals games at a discount from 2005 through 2011. While this was a short-term win for the Orioles, it seemed to have created resentment from both the Nationals and MLB.

When the initial broadcast compensation agreement ended in 2012, the Orioles were looking to secure future rights at a rate of $34 million per year, but the Nationals and MLB wanted closer to $100 million. Eventually, an arbitration panel made up of executives from other franchises said the value was as much as $66 million. The Orioles appealed the ruling saying the rate should be decided by a group not selected by MLB. The case was in the courts for several years before the ruling came back this week saying that MLB had the right to select the arbitrators.

So, in the five years that this issue has been festering, it appears that MLB and the Nationals have decided that they don’t just want more money from the Orioles TV network, they eventually want the Orioles out of the market. Read the rest of this entry →

  • 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.

      Read more »

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