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Yogi Berra Transcended Baseball 2

Posted on September 23, 2015 by Dean Hybl
Yogi Berra made his major league debut in 1946 and reached his first World Series in 1947.

Yogi Berra made his major league debut in 1946 and reached his first World Series in 1947.

Yogi Berra, who has passed away at the age of 90, wasn’t just a baseball legend, but also an American hero, cultural icon and national treasure. Not too bad for the son of an Italian immigrant who grew up in St. Louis.

Growing up across the street from another future baseball icon Joe Garagiola, Berra was an American Legion standout before signing with the New York Yankees in 1942.

Starting his career with the Norfolk Tides, who were a member of the Class B Piedmont League, Berra once drove in 23 runs in a doubleheader.

Like many other future baseball stars, Berra served in World War II. As a gunner’s mate, Berra served on the USS Bayfield during the D-Day invasion of France.

Following the war, Berra returned to baseball and despite not possessing great size or athleticism, soon began turning heads with his baseball abilities. He was tutored as a catcher by Hall of Famer Bill Dickey and eventually followed in Dickey’s footsteps wearing number 8 for the New York Yankees.

After appearing in seven games at the major league level in 1946, Berra appeared in 83 games in 1947 and was on his way to a long and illustrious major league career.

Berra made the first of his record 14 World Series appearances in 1947 and earned his first championship ring despite hitting only .158 with a home run and two RBI in six games against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The following season Berra made the first of 15 straight All Star appearances while hitting .305 with 14 home runs and 98 RBI.

One of the elements that made Berra such an iconic baseball figure was that he served as a bridge between generations of Yankee greatness. He played five seasons with the legendary Joe DiMaggio and then spent more than a decade with the next iconic Yankee Mickey Mantle. While Berra didn’t necessarily have the physical talents of either of those stars, he ended up matching the Yankee legends  as three-time winners of the American League MVP award. Read the rest of this entry →

Gary Carter Helped Make the Montreal Expos Into a Winner 11

Posted on February 18, 2012 by Dean Hybl
Gary Carter spent the first 11 years of his career with the Montreal Expos.

Gary Carter spent the first 11 years of his career with the Montreal Expos.

It was sad news out of the baseball world this week with the passing of Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter at the age of 57 following a battle with cancer. While many best identify Carter with helping the New York Mets win the 1986 World Series, it was during his initial 11 years as a member of the Montreal Expos that Carter became one of the elite catchers of his era.

Selected by the Expos in the third round of the 1972 amateur draft, it took Carter just two years before he made his Major League debut as a September call-up in 1974.

Carter hit .407 with a home run and six RBI during nine games in 1974 and the next season finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting and made his first All-Star appearance while hitting .270 with 17 home runs and 68 RBI. Though he struggled the next year with a .219 average, by 1977 it was obvious that he would be one of the key lynch-pins of future success for the Expos.

In 1978 Carter blasted 31 home runs and drove home 84 runs while hitting .284. Two years later, Carter began a string of 10 straight All-Star appearances as the Expos posted the first winning season in team history while winning what still remains a franchise record 95 games. Unfortunately, in an era before the wild card, the Expos were unable to earn a postseason bid as they finished two games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Carter finished second in the National League MVP race in 1980 as he hit 29 home runs with 101 RBI. The Expos nearly won the NL East, but dropped two of three games to the Philadelphia Phillies on the final weekend of the season. Read the rest of this entry →

Rusty Staub: A Man For All Ages 4

Posted on July 31, 2010 by Dean Hybl

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. 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 →

Willie Mays – The Say Hey Kid 0

Posted on July 10, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Willie Mays

We recognize as the July Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month a player who is always on the short-list of greatest players in Major League Baseball history. Willie Mays is one of three players (along with Hank Aaron and Stan Musial) to earn 24 All-Star appearances.

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.

Mays was the rare player who could win games with his bat, glove and legs. Read the rest of this entry →

Is It Time For The New York Mets To Panic? 1

Posted on April 17, 2010 by Richard Marsh
New York Mets Francoeur scores from third base after a throwing error by St. Louis Cardinals Ryan in St Louis

The New York Mets are in last place in the NL East.

Those who know me, those who follow my “Sound Offs” on “Vegas Unwrapped”, or on these and other hallowed Blog pages know if nothing else, I rarely hit the panic button nor do I demand change for the sake of change only or because of one incident alone.

It takes a lot to rattle these old bones especially when it comes to making changes in the Mets organization, particularly with the man at the helm, for it has always been my opinion that a manager does just that, manage. He doesn’t pitch one pitch, steal one base, or score one run. He is there to use his considerable skills in motivating his players to do their best and on really very few occasions will make a move within a game that can clearly determine it’s outcome. Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Earl Morrall: The Perfect Backup
      November 16, 2019 | 10:46 am
      Earl Morrall

      In a career that started in 1956 and ended in 1976, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was never really a leading man, but he seemed to be part of the supporting cast for many huge moments in NFL history.

      The second overall pick in the 1956 NFL Draft out of Michigan State, Earl Morrall joined a San Francisco 49ers team that already included the famous “Million Dollar Backfield” of Y.A. Tittle, Hugh McElhenny, Joe Perry and John Henry Johnson.

      Morrall started four games during his rookie season, but just before the start of the 1957 season was traded along with guard Mike Sandusky to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for linebacker Marv Matuszak and two first-round draft picks.

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