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Sports Then and Now



Fernando Valenzuela: Remembering Fernandomania 5

Posted on April 09, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Fernando Valenzuela

It was 30 years ago that the April Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month became a national phenomenon as he captured the hearts and spirits of baseball fans across North America.

The rise of Fernando Valenzuela was exactly what the baseball world needed at a time when labor unrest started to lift its ugly head. Read the rest of this entry →

Great News For Baseball: Vin Scully Isn’t Done Yet 25

Posted on August 22, 2010 by Dean Hybl

After more than 60 years, Vin Scully still loves his job broadcasting baseball for the Dodgers.

When I heard this morning that Vin Scully had called a press conference for prior to today’s Los Angeles Dodgers game against the Cincinnati Reds, my heart sank. Could this be the end for the last of the legendary broadcasters from the golden era of baseball?

Fortunately, instead of announcing his retirement, Scully announced that he loves the game too much to walk away and will continue to broadcast at least through 2011.

Sometimes the great ones hang on too long and don’t know when it is time to walk away, but that couldn’t be further from the case for Scully. All you have to do is listen to a Scully broadcast to know that this is a man who truly loves what he does and that nobody does it better.

Just two nights ago, I listened mesmerized for more than an hour as Scully didn’t as much “call” the game between the Dodgers and Reds as he did tell the story of the game.

Unlike most broadcast booths that now include two people and include announcers who spend more time utilizing graphics and talking to each other instead of the audience, Scully works alone and I imagine broadcasts on television today much in the same way he did when he first started announcing games on the radio for the then-Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950.

When listening to Scully you can almost close your eyes and let his voice guide you through the game in a manner atypical of most modern television announcers. As he probably did 60 years ago, during the first game of a series Scully typically spells out the names of those players with unusual last names on the opposing team. Though fans today can simply go to the internet to find the live game box score, Scully still has one foot in an era when young boys sat at the radio scoring along with the broadcast. Read the rest of this entry →

Why Isn’t Gil Hodges In The Baseball Hall of Fame? 11

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 →

NLCS Goes From Sunny LA To Chilly Philly 2

Posted on October 18, 2009 by Richard Marsh

National League Championship Series

Weather could be a factor in game three of the National League Championship Series.

In what might have been a game that could have put the Los Angeles Dodgers back against the wall, this series stands even at one game a piece. Charlie Manuel’s decision to remove Pedro Martinez after seven brilliant innings in Game Two, only to see his bullpen give away the game in the 8th inning.

The bright side is that Pedro will certainly be ready for a repeat performance in Game Six if it should go that far. As I have mentioned in earlier stories I like the way the Phillies rotation sets up for the rest of the series.

Today in Game Three, Cliff Lee who has been nothing short of un-hittable takes the mound against eight game winner Hiroki Kuroda pitching in his first playoff appearance in the 2009 post season.

Read the rest of this entry →

How “Manny” is Manny Ramirez These Days? 2

Posted on October 16, 2009 by Don Spieles
NLCS Game 1: Philadelphia Phillies at Los Angeles Dodgers

Since his return from a 50-game suspension, Manny Ramirez has struggled to regain his offensive form.

Manny Ramirez has had a long strange trip on the way to this year’s postseason.  The question on many lips then is: “Is Manny still Being Manny?”

Boston fans and media coined the phrase “Manny Being Manny” as a gentle, catch-all euphemism many of the things that the slugger did while playing for the Red Sox.  There was his outfield play that sometimes bordered on the comical.  There were is strange behaviors with the press, putting forth a sort of “I’m shy” affect where reporters were concerned.  When he had to answer nature’s call (or a call on his cell phone) he was known to disappear in the Green Monster to… well, do whatever he needed to do.

All of Manny’s quirkiness was tolerated with a smile and a shake of the head for one reason: He hit a ton.

Well, to be specific, he hit a ton when he wanted to.  Read the rest of this entry →

Pedro Martinez is Back on the Main Stage 2

Posted on October 16, 2009 by Richard Marsh
Diamondbacks-Phillies

Pedro Martinez is back on the main stage with the Philadelphia Phillies.

It is no secret among these parts of my love affair with Pedro Martinez. I can qualify that statement by the countless number of articles I have devoted to him in the past year on these very pages. I have been enormously critical of the Mets organization for their lack of foresight when it comes to this living legend.

I have said it more than once, that if Pedro were to have been resigned by the Mets, his buddy Manny Ramirez would have roamed left field this past year in Citi-Field. But those were pipe dreams, and the reality of another post season begins to today for Pedro when he takes the mound against another former Philadephia Pitcher Vincent Padilla, which excites me as a fan to get the opportunity to, once again, be in the presence of a true future Hall of Famer, and the best pitcher of this past generation.

I love it.

Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rusty Staub: A Man For All Ages
      April 8, 2024 | 1:26 pm
      Rusty Staub

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

      Originally signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, he made his major league debut as a 19-year old rookie and became only the second player in the modern era to play in more than 150 games as a teenager.

      Though he hit only .224 splitting time between first base and rightfield, Staub did start building a foundation that would turn him into an All-Star by 1967 when he finished fifth in the league with a .333 batting average.

      Read more »

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