Emmett Ashford

July 29, 2009

A big congratulations to Joe Gordon, Rickey, and Jim Rice on becoming Hall of Famers.

Here’s an interesting LA Times article on the man who broke the umpiring color barrier. Emmett Ashford didn’t just break the barrier, he broke it with flair.

Apparently he wore french cuffs, gleaming cuff links, and supremely polished shoes. His ball/strike and out calls were pure theater. Check out this photo and you’ll get the idea.

The man who broke the umpiring color barrier with style, Emmett Ashford.

The man who broke the umpiring color barrier with style, Emmett Ashford.

Mr. Ashford spend 15 years in the minor leagues, 12 of them in the Pacific Coast League. He broke into the big leagues in 1965 at the age of 51 and called it quits after umpiring the 1970 World Series.

I had to laugh when I read this part of the article… During games, he was accurate and courteous. Once, when a 3-and-0 count turned into a walk, Ashford told the batter, “That, sir, is a ball, and you may now proceed in the general direction of first base.”

How'd you like to get rung up Ashford? Eat your heart out Leslie Nielsen.

How'd you like to get rung up by Mr. Ashford? Eat your heart out Leslie Nielsen.

Leslie Nielsen in the Naked Gun.

Leslie Nielsen in the Naked Gun.

Geez, umpires get yelled at anyway…can you imagine how much abuse Emmett Ashford must have endured as the first black umpire? And to do it with that much style and grace…awesome.  I would have loved to have met you Mr. Ashford or caught a game in front of you.

If I had a vote, I’d put you in the Hall of Fame right now.

Wow...that about sums it up.

Wow...that about sums it up.

U.S. Open of Surfing

July 26, 2009

The U.S Open of surfing is held every year in my backyard at Huntington Beach….and I’ve never gone.

I had a good excuse for a long time (playing ball) but I’ve got no reason for not checking it out in recent years. I just thought crowds, parking, chaos, etc. I still had a picture in my mind of all the crazy Californians tipping over cop cars and starting fires during the 1986 Open…not exactly a kid friendly scene.

1986 US Open riot scene.

1986 US Open riot scene.

Well it all came to a head on Friday.  We had an enormous south swell predicted, Kelly Slater was showing up for the first time in 10 years, the weather was nice, and an early morning start (thus better chance of finding a parking spot).  It was now or never.

So I rounded up my son Noah and we made the dreaded 3 minute drive up the beach.

To sum it up, it was one of the best sporting events I’ve ever witnessed.  The surf was huge…so big that they had to use jet skis to get the competitors into the line up.  There was just too much water moving around to paddle out.

Slater killed it. It seemed as if his feet were glued to the board. Rob Machado surfed beautifully. Timmy Curran scored a perfect 10 on a wave.  Yadin Nicol (a hot new young gun) broke his board and my son got it.  He even got Yadin to autograph it. The TV cameras ate it up…this cute little kid with a smile from ear to ear with half a pro’s board.  The LA Times took his photo and all the girls wanted a piece of Noah.

Shoot, I even got a parking spot close to the action.  What can I say? It all came together.  Here’s some images of our great day.

The scene

The scene

Jet skis towing guys into the waves.

Jet skis towing guys into the waves.

Surfing action on a smaller wave.

Surfing action on a smaller wave.

Tim Curran after a perfect 10 score.

Tim Curran after a perfect 10 score.

Rob Machado exiting.

Rob Machado exiting.

Slater holding court.

Slater holding court.

Noah hitting up Yadin for an autograph on TV.

Noah hitting up Yadin for an autograph on TV.

One very stoked little boy.

One very stoked little boy.

Jim Parque/HGH

July 23, 2009

This is a quick and easy blog for me….but a really powerful one for you. Click  Jim Parque for an excellent article on one player’s admission and account of why he took performance enhancing drugs.  This is a very unique perspective and riveting reading.  Enjoy.

Mitchell Report Baseball

Baseball Curiosities

July 20, 2009

Here is a smattering of wacky baseball related stuff I’ve come upon lately. The photos and most of the text comes from the Baseball Reliquary in Southern California (http://www.baseballreliquary.org/).  Check this out.

BabeCigar2

This curiosity demonstrates the weird and wacky confluence of popular culture, business entrepreneurship, and baseball hero worship — a 1950s era unopened black-market pack of prophylactics whose colorful image bears an extraordinary likeness to that of the Splendid Splinter himself, Ted Williams.

condom_67tedwilliams_25

Here’s the little tiny jock that 3′7″ midget Eddie Gaedel wore when he was sent up to bat by Bill Veeck, Jr.  Gaedel pinch hit for the St. Louis Browns in the second game of a double header against the Detroit Tigers on August 19, 1951.  It was retrieved from the shower room floor at Sportsman’s Park and donated to the Baseball Reliquary.

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Here’s a strange one.  It’s a potato which was disguised as a baseball and thrown by former minor league catcher Dave Bresnahan. Now in a somewhat desiccated state, the potato has been preserved since 1987 in this specimen jar filled with denatured alcohol.

BR6_th

In October of 2000, the Baseball Reliquary acquired for its permanent collections what is believed to be the actual potato thrown by former minor league catcher Dave Bresnahan in one of the classic stunts in baseball history. In August of 1987, Bresnahan, then a 25-year-old second-string catcher with the Williamsport (Pennsylvania) Bills of the Class-AA Eastern League, decided to liven up a meaningless late-season home game. Before the game, Bresnahan peeled and sculpted a potato in the shape of a baseball. Behind the plate in the fifth inning, with the potato concealed in his mitt and a runner on third base, he threw the potato wildly past his third baseman, hoping the runner would think he made an errant pick-off throw. The play worked to perfection. The runner at third trotted home, and Bresnahan tagged him out with the baseball. An umpire retrieved the potato and awarded the runner home for Bresnahan’s deception. The following day, Bresnahan was fined by his manager and then released by the Bills’ parent club, the Cleveland Indians, for what they perceived as an affront to the integrity of the game.

BR5_thAlthough his four-year professional baseball career was over, Bresnahan, much like Rupert Pupkin in Martin Scorcese’s film, The King of Comedy, became an overnight celebrity. He received numerous interview requests from around the world, and Bob Verdi of the Chicago Tribune named him the “1987 Sports Person of the Year.” In 1988, the Williamsport club held a “Dave Bresnahan Day” and retired his uniform number 59. Bresnahan told the more than 4,000 fans in attendance, “Lou Gehrig had to play in 2,130 consecutive games and hit .340 for his number to be retired, and all I had to do was bat .140 and throw a potato.” Today, Bresnahan is a successful stockbroker living in Tempe, Arizona.
After the catcher’s stunt, the umpires examined the potato and one of them pocketed it. When the inning was over, the umpire, incredible as it sounds, simply tossed the potato in a trash can near the front row of stands. A teenage boy instantly ran to the discarded potato and, after brushing off hot dog wrappers and beer cups, salvaged it. He took it home and placed it in a specimen jar from his high school biology class, wisely filled the jar with denatured alcohol, and the potato has been preserved in this desiccated state since then. The teenager, now a Reading, Pennsylvania attorney, purportedly offered the potato to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in the summer of 2000, but officials in Cooperstown showed little interest in this historic relic; in fact, they said that “it would be perfect for the Baseball Reliquary.” The attorney then contacted the Reliquary and arrangements were made to transfer the potato, in its original specimen jar, to its new home in Southern California.

Montana…and a baseball interview

July 16, 2009

Here are some images from the family trip up north….kinda random and not baseball related but….

Ok, I feel bad.  Here’s something baseball related.  It’s an interview I recently did with Jimmy Scott.  Click here and enjoy.
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