How beloved and respected was Gil Hodges during his playing career? Enough that when he sank into a ferocious batting slump crossing the end of the 1952 season and the beginning of the 1953 season, the entire borough of Brooklyn, if not all New York City, took up prayers for him. A devout Roman Catholic, Hodges was genuinely touched that even non-Catholic churches joined the prayer chain.
Roy Sievers modeled his batting stroke on that of Joe Medwick, his baseball hero growing up in St. Louis. He made a respectable career as a slugging first baseman and a smooth swinger who studied the game and didn’t let the seedier sides of it soil his shyly genial nature.
Sievers, the first to win an American League Rookie of the Year award when it became an each-league prize (in 1949), died 3 April at 90. He’d overcome early career shoulder miseries to convert from the outfield to first base at the impetus of Bill Veeck, who owned the St. Louis Browns with whom Sievers first arose.
So you think the Kansas City Royals won a wild card game the weird way? How about a team winning a World Series by way of a Hall of Fame starting pitcher throwing four shutout relief innings into the extra innings and the Series-winning run scoring when an infield grounder took a high bad hop over a third baseman’s head?
Jackie Robinson suffered few baitings more vicious than those led by Ben Chapman, the former outfielder who managed the Philadelphia Phillies, when Robinson broke into the Show with the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers. And, yes, it really did get to a point where Chapman’s job was on the line, and he posed for photographs with Robinson—clearly ill at ease—in a bid to turn down the heat he had brought himself and his team.
The Walking Man has walked home at 86.
Eddie Yost as a player could hit a little bit, sometimes with power, usually early in the order, but had one of the most remarkable facilities for wringing first base on the house out of opposing pitchers. At his death Tuesday he sat number eleven on the all-time pass list, having led his league in walks six times, and having averaged 124 walks per 162 games in his eighteen-season playing career.
Bobby Valentine’s bicycle seems to spend more time backpedaling than anything else when he’s aboard. And he has no better sense of direction than when he’s trying to pedal forward.
A few days ago, when a reporter had the audacity to ask in which if any areas the Red Sox needed improvement, Valentine delivered yet another remark the kind that has Red Sox Nation and Red Sox critics alike wondering when, not if, Valentine gets pinked. Not because he’s wrong, necessarily, but because he has a need, apparently insatiable, to take the low road, implying he can do nothing much past playing what he’s been dealt.