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Sports Then and Now



Baseball World Says Goodbye to Several All-Time Greats 0

Posted on October 04, 2020 by Dean Hybl

There is no question that 2020 has been a tough year for everyone, but it has been an especially sad year for long-time baseball fans. Bob Gibson, who passed away this weekend, is the fourth member of the Baseball Hall of Fame to pass away in 2020. The other members of the HOF to pass away this year are Al Kaline, Tom Seaver and Gibson’s long-time teammate Lou Brock.

Bob Gibson facing Al Kaline in the 1968 World Series.

In addition, the game has said goodbye to several other notable players including Don Larsen, Jimmy Wynn, Tony Fernandez, Tony Taylor, Bob Watson and Claudell Washington. Here is the full list from Baseball Reference.

Gibson, Brock and Kaline were all part of the dramatic 1968 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers. As should be the case on the World Series stage, all three of the future Hall of Famers were at their best during the seven-game series.

For Kaline, who played his entire 22 year career with the Tigers, the 1968 World Series marked the first post-season opportunity of his career. He definitely made the most of it as he registered at least one hit in each of the first six games and finished with a team-high 11 hits and a .379 average. He also hit two home runs and drove home eight runs.

Gibson and Brock were both playing in their third World Series in five seasons in 1968. The Cardinals claimed World Series titles in 1964 and 1967. Both Gibson and Brock were key performers in both of those wins.

In the 1964 World Series against the New York Yankees, Gibson won two of three starts, including a 7-5 victory in the decisive seventh game. Brock had two hits, scored a run and drove home a run in the seventh game. Over the full seven game series, Brock had four multi-hit games and drove home five runs.

Read the rest of this entry →

Bob Gibson: Big Game Hurler 6

Posted on October 04, 2015 by Dean Hybl

Bob Gibson

Bob Gibson

With the baseball playoffs upon us, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a two-time World Series MVP who hurled eight complete games in the Fall Classic and still holds the record for strikeouts in a World Series game.

Throughout his 17 year career with the St. Louis Cardinals, opponents knew they were in for a battle every time they faced Bob Gibson.   Read the rest of this entry →

10 Players Who Thrived in Baseball’s Clutch Moments 3

Posted on September 22, 2011 by Jena Ellis

Reggie Jackson's play in the post season earned him the nickname "Mr. October."

You can debate whether or not there’s such a thing as “clutch” hitting. Scoring runs in the first inning is just as important as scoring runs in the ninth inning, right? Does the process of securing a hit change dramatically as the situation changes dramatically? Should we completely ignore the human elements of emotion, concentration and focus, each of which may fluctuate depending on the person in the batter’s box?

The following players (five hitters, five pitchers), for whatever reason, hit and pitched extremely well during the postseason, a period of time when the margin for error — and patience for under performing — is at a minimum.

1. Babe Ruth
He’s the greatest for a reason. As a pitcher in the postseason, Ruth boasts a microscopic 0.87 ERA in 31 innings pitched, a shutout and a 3-0 record. His best performance came in a 14-inning, complete game win in Game 2 of the 1916 World Series. In both World Series in which he pitched, the Red Sox won (1916 over the Brooklyn Robins and 1918 over the Chicago Cubs). As a hitter, he amassed 15 home runs in 167 plate appearances, accumulating an impressive 1.211 OPS. In 1928, he hit .625 in a four-game sweep of the Cardinals, notably mashing three home runs in the series-clinching game.

2. Reggie Jackson
Mr. October kindly disagrees with the idea that clutch hitting doesn’t exist. He was the first player to win World Series MVP with two different teams (Athletics and Yankees), and was just the second player to hit three homeruns in a World Series game — that, as you probably know, came in the series-clinching Game 6 of the 1977 World Series versus the Dodgers. During the six games, he hit five home runs with a .450 average and 1.792 OPS. A year later, he led the Yankees to a repeat in a rematch, hitting a meager two home runs with a .391 average and 1.196 OPS. He hit 18 home runs during his postseason career. Read the rest of this entry →

Being a Staff Ace Isn’t What it Used To Be 1

Posted on October 31, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Despite being the staff ace, there was never any thought by the Rangers of having Cliff Lee pitch three games in the World Series.

If I was writing this column in 1970 or even in 1990, it would be about Cliff Lee’s preparation to start game four of the World Series for a Texas Rangers squad that trails two games to one and desperately needs a strong performance from their best pitcher.

However, because we are in the year 2010 when pitchers are often treated like fine china, this column is about how the Rangers must figure out how to win three more games though their staff ace will pitch just one more time in the series.

What is interesting about the decision by Ron Washington to pitch Tommy Hunter in game four, instead of to start Cliff Lee on three day’s rest, is that it really isn’t a decision at all. I every interview from prior to the World Series through game three, Washington never wavered in his insistence that Lee would not pitch a day earlier than normal regardless of the situation in the Series.

Given that Lee struggled in the first game with a week of rest, it makes sense not to take a chance bringing him back early. However, the decision means that should the Series come down to one final game, the Rangers would not be pitching their staff ace.

Of course the same would be true for the San Francisco Giants, but even with consecutive Cy Young Awards to his credit, there has never been discussion about maneuvering their rotation to get a third start out of Tim Lincecum.

What is interesting about the situation for the Rangers is that just a year ago, Lee and his previous team the Philadelphia Phillies were in the same exact situation.

Trailing two games to one against the Yankees, Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel did not start Lee in game four though the Yankees were pitching their ace C.C. Sabathia on short rest. The Yankees went on to win the game and take a 3-1 Series lead. Lee won game five, but the Yankees claimed the Series in six games. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Stan Jones – Weight Training Trailblazer
      October 11, 2020 | 1:48 pm
      Stan Jones

      The Sports Then and Now Athlete of the Month was one of the great linemen of his era and is considered a trailblazer for using weight training and conditioning to develop his skills.

      After a standout career at the University of Maryland, Stan Jones spent nine seasons as an offensive lineman for the Chicago Bears, making seven Pro Bowl appearances and earning first team All-Pro three times.

      In 1962, assistant coach George Allen suggested Jones move to defense to help solidify that unit for the Bears. He played both ways in 1962 and then in 1963 moved permanently to the defense.

      Read more »

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