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Sports Then and Now



45 Years Ago: The Billy Martin-New York Yankees Saga Begins 0

Posted on August 01, 2020 by Dean Hybl

Regardless of whether you love or hate the New York Yankees, you couldn’t help but follow the 14-year saga of Billy Martin, George Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees. Like a car accident, you just had to slow down and see what was happening.

Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner during one of the lighter moments during their 14-year relationship.

It all started 45 years ago when it was announced on August 1, 1975 that manager Bill Virdon was being replaced by the already flamboyant and controversial Billy Martin. Though owner George Steinbrenner was technically suspended by MLB at the time for making illegal campaign contributions to the campaign of President Richard Nixon in 1972, he was in reality still the top decision maker for the organization and believed that Martin would provide a fire that was lacking under Virdon.

Martin was familiar to Yankee fans from his time as part of Casey Stengel’s squad during the hey day of the 1950s. During seven seasons as an infielder with the Yankees, the scrappy Martin won four World Series rings and made one All-Star team, but was perhaps better known as a party partner for all-time great Mickey Mantle.

Many believe that it was his negative influence on Mantle that led to the Yankees trading Martin to the Kansas City Athletics during the 1957 season. He later played for the Tigers, Indians, Reds and Twins before retiring following the 1961 season.

He became a major league manager at the age of 41 in 1969 with the Minnesota Twins. He led the Twins to 97 wins and the first AL West Division title. However, the Twins lost to the Baltimore Orioles in the playoffs and a number of disagreements with management and off the field issues ultimately led to his dismissal following the season.

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Great Baseball All-Star Game Moments: Part 2 (1960-1989) 1

Posted on July 12, 2020 by Dean Hybl

After becoming an American tradition following its inception in 1933, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game evolved into the “Midsummer Classic” through some memorable moments in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

Pete Rose took out Ray Fosse to help the National League win the 1970 All-Star Game.

The exhibition eventually moved beyond being just a game to include a home run contest and many other activities that gave fans the opportunity to see their heroes in a completely different atmosphere than ever before.

From the very beginning, the All-Star Game was a highly competitive contest that even though technically an exhibition, lacked little in desire by the great players to win the game and claim bragging rights over the other league.

The game began to lose a little of the competitive edge following the inception of free agency in the 1970s. More players were switching from league to league and by the 1980s it started to be more important to give as many players as possible a chance to play, rather than keep your best players out there for the entire contest.

Of course, that strategy culminated with the 2002 game, which had to be called with the game tied in the 12th inning because both teams had run out of players. We will look more in-depth at that game in part three of this series.

In this second installment of the three part series, we will relive some of the legendary moments and games in All-Star history between 1960 and 1989. You can also catch the first installment with memories from 1933-1959.

July 13, 1960 (Yankee Stadium, New York City)
Between 1959 and 1962, two All-Star Games were played each year to provide the opportunity for fans in different cities to see the players up close and personal.

The second All-Star Game of the 1960 season provided a homecoming for Willie Mays, who had not been back to New York City since the Giants moved to San Francisco following the 1957 season.

He didn’t disappoint as Mays led off the game with a single and then hit a home run in the third inning.

Eddie Mathews, Ken Boyer and Stan Musial also blasted home runs for the National League as they won the game 6-0.

Also of note in the game was that it marked the 18th and final All-Star appearance for Ted Williams.

July 31, 1961 (Fenway Park, Boston)
The second meeting between the All-Stars in 1961 marked the first time that the game ended in a tie as the game was knotted at 1-1 when rain prevented the game from continuing after nine innings.

The American League scored first on a home run by Rocky Colavito in the first inning. The National League didn’t score until the sixth inning when Eddie Mathews scored on a hit by Bill White.

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The Fall Classic: When Mr. October Reggie Jackson Once Starred 2

Posted on October 05, 2015 by Mike Raffone

Mr. October Reggie JacksonIt’s only fitting that former Major League Baseball star Reggie Jackson leads off the month of October in this Sports Then and Now blog.

The Hall of Fame slugger wore the colorful uniform of the Oakland A’s and the traditional pinstripes of the New York Yankees.

He normally starred during the spring and summer months of the Major League Baseball season.

However, Reggie Jackson flourished on the baseball field during the fall – especially during the sport’s beloved Fall Classic.

That’s when he earned his nickname Mr. October.

New York Yankees teammate Thurmon Munson first used the title when questioned during the 1977 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Munson told a reporter to interview Jackson. He referred to the Yankee right fielder’s history of fantastic post-season games and said, “Go ask Mr. October.”

A 1999 Cooperstown Hall of Fame inductee, Reginald Martinez Jackson enjoyed a stellar 21-year Major League Baseball career. He retired in 1987. Jackson was a 14-time All-Star who hit 563 dingers, drove in 1,702 runs and batted .262 with 2,584 total hits.

The 1973 American League MVP also had his number 9 jersey retired in Oakland and his number 44 jersey retired in New York. Pretty great accomplishments, indeed!

A clutch hitting right fielder, Jackson had the ability to perform his best during post-season play. Mr. October ranks as the only baseball player ever to be named World Series Most Valuable Player for two different teams. Jackson first won the award in 1973 with the Oakland A’s. He won it again in 1977 with the New York Yankees.

Jackson’s World Series numbers are incredible. In 27 Fall Classic appearances, Mr. October belted 10 home runs, drove in 24 runs and batted an impressive .357. He won five world titles. In the deciding Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, Jackson hit three consecutive first pitch home runs off of three different Dodger hurlers.

Baseball fans will never forget this amazing Oakland A’s and New York Yankees’ right fielder and his Fall Classic heroics.

In a Boys of Summer sport, this Baseball Hall of Famer rightfully earned his fitting autumn nickname – Mr. October.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

Losing Derek Jeter Hurts the Yankees and Major League Baseball 0

Posted on October 14, 2012 by Dean Hybl

The Yankees lost Derek Jeter for the rest of the season with a broken ankle in the 12th inning of game one of the ALCS.

The New York Yankees suffered two significant losses in opening game of the League Championship Series. Not only did the Yankees drop a 6-4 decision in 12 games to the Detroit Tigers, but they also lost their captain, Derek Jeter, for the rest of the season with a broken ankle. Losing Jeter is not just a major blow to the chances for the Yankees, but also a huge loss for Major League Baseball.

Even for baseball fans whose two favorite teams are the squad they follow and then whoever is playing the Yankees, this isn’t the way you want to see the Yankees go down. Only fans that have far crossed the line can be pleased to see the symbol of the franchise for the last 15+ years lying on the ground agonizing in pain.

In an era where star power is a major driver of fan interest, Derek Jeter has been among the steadiest players in the game. Though he has never been the league MVP or posted lofty power statistics, Jeter has been a key member of five World Series Champions and collected more than 3,000 career hits. In just the last few weeks some were debating whether he might be the one to break the all-time hit mark held by Pete Rose.

After Jeter went down while diving for a ground ball in the 12th inning of the opening game against the Tigers the thoughts are no longer about potential records, but instead of what baseball will be like without the Yankee captain.

That is something the Yankees have little time to digest as they will be back in action today for game two against the Tigers and must try to overcome not just his loss, but also the fact they are trailing in the series. 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 →

Baseball All-Star Game Memories, Part 2, 1960-1989 4

Posted on July 10, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Great All-Stars Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron

Great All-Stars Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron

After becoming an American tradition following its inception in 1933, the Major League All-Star Game evolved into the “Midsummer Classic” through some memorable moments in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.  

The exhibition eventually moved beyond being just a game to include a home run contest and many other activities that gave fans the opportunity to see their heroes in a completely different atmosphere than ever before.

From the very beginning, the All-Star Game was a highly competitive contest that even though technically an exhibition, lacked little in desire by the great players to win the game and claim bragging rights over the other league.

The game began to lose a little of the competitive edge following the inception of free agency in the 1970s. More players were switching from league to league and by the 1980s it started to be more important to give as many players as possible a chance to play, rather than keep your best players out there for the entire contest.

Of course, that strategy culminated with the 2002 game, which had to be called with the game tied in the 12th inning because both teams had run out of players. We will look more in-depth at that game in part three of this series.

In this second installment of the three part series, we will relive some of the legendary moments and games in All-Star history between 1960 and 1989.

Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Early Wynn: 300 Game Winner
      August 1, 2020 | 8:37 pm
      Early Wynn

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month pitched in four decades, was a veteran of World War II and is one of only two pitchers to finish with exactly 300 career victories.

      Hall of Famer Early Wynn began his career as a 19-year old in 1939 by pitching three games for the Washington Senators. After spending the 1940 season in the minors, he went 3-1 with a 1.58 ERA in a brief stint in the majors in 1941.

      Read more »

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