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Sports Then and Now



Former MLB Stars Who Deserve Their Day in Cooperstown 18

Posted on July 27, 2013 by Dean Hybl
With 398 home runs and two MVP Awards, would Dale Murphy had made the Hall of Fame if it hadn't been for the Steroid era?

With 398 home runs and two MVP Awards, would Dale Murphy had made the Hall of Fame if it hadn’t been for the Steroid era?

In a year in which baseball’s all-time leader in home runs, a member of the prestigious 3,000 hit club and the winner of 354 games on the mound are all eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame for the first time, not a single modern-era player will receive baseball’s greatest honor during the annual induction ceremony on Sunday.

To honor this auspicious occasion, Sports Then and Now is recognizing five baseball players that we believe have legitimate claims to being in the Hall of Fame and who very likely might have received the “call to the Hall” years ago had not a generation of players totally changed the perception of offensive production.

Dale Murphy
398 HR, 1,266 RBI, .265 Batting Average, 161 stolen bases, 1,197 runs, 350 doubles

When Dale Murphy retired from baseball in 1993 the PED era in baseball was just getting started. By the time he became eligible for the HOF ballot in 1999, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa had made a mockery of the single season home run record and Murphy’s career total of 398 home runs and top season of 44 dingers were no longer particularly impressive.

As a result, Murphy was included on 19.3% of the ballots in his first year and 23.2% the next year, but as the home run totals of current players escalated, his vote totals steadily declined. He was included on only 8.5% of ballots by 2004 and never legitimately had a chance for induction. His run through the HOF gauntlet mercifully ended earlier this year as he received 18.1% of the votes (75% needed for induction) in his final year on the ballot. Read the rest of this entry →

Don Larsen’s Perfect Game: My Uncle’s Tall Tale 3

Posted on October 08, 2010 by Andrew Jeromski

On October 8, 1956, New York Yankees pitcher Don Larsen arrived in the clubhouse, and much to his alleged surprise, found a baseball tucked into one of his shined cleats. Placed there by pitching coach Jim Turner, the ball was the signal that Larsen would be the starting pitcher that afternoon–game five of the World Series.

Halladay pitched the second no-hitter in postseason history

What happened next was one of those magical moments in sports when the near-impossible, the utterly implausible is dragged into reality through little more than sheer force of will. Larsen set down 27 Brooklyn Dodgers in a row, and recorded the first perfect game and the first no-hitter in postseason history. His was the only such feat ever accomplished until 53 years and 363 days later, when Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy “Doc” Halladay no-hit the Cincinnati Reds in game one of the National League Divisional Series with an epic one-walk performance during a 4-0 win.

In the spirit of remembrance, I thought I would share with you a piece of family lore that concerns Larsen’s perfecto; but first, a little more background.

Charlie Manuel played for Billy Martin

Interestingly enough, when Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel was a player, the only two managers he ever played for were Billy Martin (Min 69-72) and Walter Alston (LAD 74, 75), both of whom were present for Larsen’s perfect game. Alston, of course, as the Brooklyn Dodgers manager, and Martin as the Yankees starting second baseman that afternoon.

Larsen maintains to this day that he had no idea he was to start game five. The claim is a bit dubious simply because he was listed as the starter in most national newspapers that day, but former Yankee teammates like Bill “Moose” Skowron have backed his assertion.

“I still can’t believe the look he had on his face when he saw the ball,” said Skowron, “… shock or something.”

Larsen had performed poorly in game 2, lasting less than two innings and surrendering four runs on four walks, but his control didn’t desert him that way in game five. Larsen needed just 97 pitches to complete his perfect game, a supremely economical performance.

“I had great control,” recalls Larsen, “I never had that kind of control in my life.”

“His stuff was good, good, good,” agreed hall of fame catcher Yogi Berra. “Anything I put down he put over.”

There were several close plays in the contest, and Larsen surely benefitted from luck to some extent, as must any pitcher who throws a perfect game.

Read the rest of this entry →

Why Isn’t Gil Hodges In The Baseball Hall of Fame? 10

Posted on July 24, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Few players are more deserving of Hall of Fame selection than Gil Hodges.

With a new class set for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend, it provides another opportunity to ask the question of why baseball legend Gil Hodges does not have a plaque in Cooperstown.

It is very likely that many longtime baseball fans (and perhaps even some Hall of Fame voters) just assume that Hodges took his rightful place in Cooperstown decades ago. Because he passed away in 1972, Hodges’ omission does not receive the same annual publicity as that of other deserving candidates who are still living.

One of the famed “Boys of Summer” that led the Brooklyn Dodgers to six World Series appearances between 1947 and 1956, Hodges was the starting first baseman in an infield that included Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson at second base and Pee Wee Reese at shortstop.

Along with Duke Snider, Hodges served as a steady power threat and run producer for the Dodgers. Hodges drove in more than 100 runs for seven straight years between 1949 and 1955, including a career-high 130 RBIs in 1954. His 1,001 RBIs in the 1950s were the most in the National League during the decade.

Hodges eclipsed the 30 home run mark six times, including blasting 40 home runs in 1951 and 42 in 1954. He also scored more than 100 runs three times and had a season batting average above .300 twice.

A member of seven World Series teams during his entire tenure with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers from 1947 (he did make a brief appearance for the Dodgers in 1943, but because of military service didn’t return to the majors until 1947) through 1961, Hodges often saved his best for the postseason. Read the rest of this entry →

New York Mets: Anatomy of a Franchise – Part 3, 1969 “Amazin” 2

Posted on October 15, 2009 by Richard Marsh
The 1969 New York Mets captivated a city and a nation.

The 1969 New York Mets captivated a city and a nation.

What the New York Mets achieved in 1969 was truly amazing and the world witnessed not only man’s first steps on the moon but equally remarkable, the first World Championship by a National League team in New York in 14 years.

I had just turned 24 that April and I was unable to attend opening day on April 8th where the Mets lost to the newly created Montreal Expos expansion team 11-10 in front of 44,541 fans.

What had become a tradition of sorts was to try to go to the game on April 11th, my birthday, where the St. Louis Cardinals were coming to town and the proposed match-up was going to be Steve Carlton vs. Jerry Koosman. I was stoked, only in those days no one ever said the word stoked.

Read the rest of this entry →

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      September 28, 2019 | 7:09 pm
      Sid Luckman

      After years of struggling to find a consistent quarterback, the Chicago Bears now hope third-year player Mitchell Trubisky will be their quarterback for years to come. As the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month we are recognizing the best quarterback in Chicago Bears history.

      Chosen out of Columbia–where he played tailback–with the second pick in the 1939 NFL Draft, Sid Luckman spent 12 seasons as the quarterback for the Bears and led them to five NFL Championship Game appearances and four titles.

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