Posted in Autographs, Baseball

A surprise from Clay Parker

1516642684853-f71d3fec-70b7-40b4-88e3-90ddf20f637e.jpgI used to be very into mailing baseball cards to current and former players to see if they’d sign them for me. It used to be fairly common for all but the biggest stars to respond.

As time went on, responses from current players grew less common and I’d already gotten many of the former players that I remembered watching when I was younger. So I’ve cut back on mailing.

It was always fun to get a surprise in the mail beyond the standard advertisements and bills, and that’s the part that I miss now that I might send out five or ten letters during the year instead of five or ten dozen like I used to.

But every so often I’ll still get one of the old ones back. On Monday, I got an envelope postmarked from Chattanooga, Tenn. I figured it must be someone who was taking care of last year’s fan mail before they left for spring training.

I opened it and found a 1990 Fleer card from Clay Parker, and I had to check my records at SportsCollectors.Net because I didn’t remember writing to him. Turns out I tried twice, in 2011 and 2012. Yup, my card had been out for at least six years.

Now I think it’s pretty cool that former players will actually bother to open and respond to fan mail from strangers, period. And considering that my likely response to finding a pile of letters from 2011 or 2012 would be to get rid of the clutter, I’m happy Mr. Parker decided to sign my card and mail it back.

While I root for the Mets, I consider myself a baseball fan… and I had a soft spot for the not-very-good Yankee teams of the late 1980s/ early 1990s. (We didn’t have cable, so we tended to watch whichever team had a game on broadcast television on a given night.)

As a rookie with the 1989 Yankees, Clay Parker won four of nine decisions and threw two complete games in 17 starts. He also made five relief appearances, posting a 3.58 ERA.  The next summer, he was shipped the Detroit Tigers with Lance McCullers Sr. in exchange for catcher Matt Nokes, who had been an All-Star three years before. I thought he’d have a solid MLB career, even if he never became a star.

By 1992, Parker had thrown his final MLB pitch. I’m not really sure what happened, whether injuries derailed a career or whether MLB hitters proved to be better at making adjustments… or maybe just bad fortune.

Regardless, I’m happy Mr. Parker took the time to bring back some memories for me.

Odds & ends

I’m not sold on the pitch clock either, and Manfred’s plan to limit mound visits doesn’t go far enough to suit me. Want to speed up baseball games? Get rid of all of the trips to the mound! We know that most of the time, the manager, pitching coach and catcher are going out there to stall for time… and that it’s boring! Forcing managers to have relievers ready and making quicker decisions about bringing them in will have less of an effect on the integrity of the game than Manfred’s pitch clock, and would do more to get rid of dead time. Another pace-of-play improvement I’d like to see is to force managers to make an instant decision on whether to ask for replay review – no more consultations with replay coordinators.

Posted in Uncategorized

Subway Series momentos

Sure, MLB unveiled this year’s spring training uniforms today and Topps released the first baseball cards of 2017 this week. We can totally talk about those in the comments if you want.

subway-series-cards-dscn0116

But I’m going to show you a couple of 17-year-old baseball cards I got from my friend Vinny back in December. (And wow, I didn’t really want to think about it being 17 years since the Mets and Yankees played in the World Series.)

At least in the New York metropolitan area, it was a really BIG DEAL that our two teams were playing in the Fall Classic. I had pretty much gotten away from following baseball after the 1994-95 work stoppage, but the excitement of the possible Subway Series developing had me glued to the playoffs in 2000. Looking back at the television ratings, I don’t think the rest of the country really cared for the match up that much. Continue reading “Subway Series momentos”

Posted in Baseball

Yankees name Trenton Thunder manager & coaches

Former Los Angeles Dodgers and Minnesota Twins outfielder Bobby Mitchell will manage the Trenton Thunder in 2016, the team announced today.

Mitchell, 60, has previous minor league managerial experience with the Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and Triple-A Salt Lake Bees in the Angels’ organization and has been an  Outfield, Base Running & Bunting Coordinator for several organizations, including the Boston Red Sox.

“I am honored to be a member of the most prestigious and successful organization in professional sports,” Mitchell in a team-issued press release. “I grew up a huge Yankee fan, so it is truly a dream come true for me. I enjoyed my visits to Trenton as a coordinator when they were an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox and look forward to a successful season as the Trenton Thunder Manager.”

Hitting coach P.J. Pilittere and pitching coach Jose Rosado will both return for their second seasons with Trenton.  Justin Tordi will join the Thunder as their defensive coach after serving in that same role for the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate last season.

Former Colorado Rockies catcher JD Closser joins Trenton as the bullpen coach from the coaching staff of the Single-A Tampa Yankees.

Source: Trenton Thunder website

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Retiring uniform numbers

Andy Pettite‘s son Josh broke the news this weekend that the Yankees will retire #46 this summer in honor of his dad.

Pettitte’s 219 wins rank third on the Yankees’ all-time leaderboard, behind Hall of Famers Whitey Ford (236) and Red Ruffing (231), but ahead of Ron Guidry, who had his number retired in 2003. (It’s interesting to note that Ruffing and Hall of Famer Lefty Gomez, who falls between Pettitte and Guidry on the Yankees’ all-time win list, have not been honored with retired numbers – though Ruffing’s #15 was later retired for Thurman Munson.)

Pettite’s 2020 strikeouts are the most in Yankee history, though his 3.94 ERA ranks 41st among Yankee pitchers who made at least 100 starts. And Yankee fans won’t be likely to forget that Pettitte was part of five World Series championship teams.

On the other hand, Pettitte’s admitted use of HGH seems like something many Yankee fans are willing to forget, though not all of his former teammates are ready to let it go.

Yankee Stadium's retired numbers (Photo credit: John_from_CT, via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)
Yankee Stadium’s retired numbers (Photo credit: John_from_CT, via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Leaving aside the cheating issue, it’s interested to reflect on the philosophies of New York’s two teams. The Yankees are quick to retire uniform numbers to honor popular players – in addition to Pettitte’s #46, they will also retire Jorge Posada’s #20 and Bernie Williams’ #51 this season.

Not including the MLB-wide retirement of #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson’s legacy, there are 17 uniform numbers retired by the Yankees, though the team no longer seems to keep an updated list on its website. It is widely expected that Derek Jeter‘s #2 will also be retired.

Citi Field's retired uniform numbers (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Citi Field’s retired uniform numbers (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Across town, the Mets have retired three uniform numbers since 1962 and only one – Hall of Famer Tom Seaver‘s #41 – honors a player’s legacy. Casey Stengel‘s #37 was retired in a small, private ceremony shortly after the team’s original 75-year-old manager was forced to step down as the result of a broken hip. Gil Hodges‘ #14 was formally retired one year after his death. Hodges, the popular manager who guided the Mets to their first World Series title, passed away of a heart attack while he was still serving as the team’s skipper in 1972.

Many fans keep calling for the organization to honor the legacy of the 1986 team by retiring the numbers of its stars – co-Captains Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter, Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. Younger fans push for the team to retire Mike Piazza‘s #31 in honor of the best-hitting catcher who’s yet to make it into the Hall of Fame. Some older fans want to see Ed Kranepool‘s #7 retired to honor his longevity.

At one time, I was part of the group that wanted the Mets to honor our 1980s stars. Now I’m beginning to appreciate their more exclusive approach – I have confidence that Piazza’s number will be retired after he’s inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Met, since that seems to be the criteria these days. Retired numbers should be something really special for the legendary figures in a team’s history.

We’ve got the Mets Hall of Fame to recognize fan-favorites (though that committee needs to do a better job finding players to induct – after honoring John Franco in 2012 and Piazza in 2013, they didn’t choose anyone last year and have been silent so far this off-season.)

But I’m interested in what you think: should the Yankees retire Andy Pettitte’s #46? Which number-retiring philosophy do you prefer? And, I never thought I’d suggest this, but should the Yankees actually have even more uniform numbers retired to honor the Hall of Famers from the earlier years of their history?

Posted in Autographs, Uncategorized

Autograph show features new Hall of Famers, 2000 World Series champs

2015-01-13-22.35.33This October will be the 15th anniversary of the New York Mets’ last World Series appearance… but not surprisingly, the folks at MAB Celebrity Services are only interested in the winners of the 2000 World Series.

Next weekend, they’ll hold “Pinstripe Pandemonium,” a celebration of the 2000 New York Yankees World Championship team. The show will also feature appearances by other Yankee “legends” and three of the four newly-elected baseball Hall of Famers.

Fans will have the opportunity to meet and get autographs from former Mets Pedro Martinez ($159+), Doc Gooden ($35), Doc Medich ($20+), Rick Cerone ($30), Paul Gibson ($25), Mike Stanton ($25+) and Shane Spencer ($20).

I don’t expect to get anything signed at the show – I already have all of the ex-Mets and cannot even think about paying the $199 fee to have Randy Johnson sign an 8×10 photo – but I plan to tag along with my friend who wants to see Martinez and Johnson. Maybe I’ll find an inexpensive card or two to add to my Mets autograph collection while I’m there.

Pinstripe Pandemonium will be held at the Hilton Hasbrouck Heights-Meadowlands in Hasbrouck Heights on Saturday, Jan. 24 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 25 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. For more information, including the full guest list and prices, visit mab-celebrity.com.

Are you planning to attend the autograph show?

Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Tony Franklin will be a “roving evaluator” in 2015

Tony Franklin (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Tony Franklin will be a “roving evaluator” for the New York Yankees in 2015. (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

Former Trenton Thunder manager Tony Franklin, 64, will serve as a “roving evaluator” in the New York Yankees’ minor league system in 2015, according to Trentonian reporter Nick Peruffo.

The Thunder announced last week that former major league infielder Al Pedrique, 54, would manage the team in 2015. During Franklin’s eight years in Trenton, the Thunder won three Eastern League championships.

According to Peruffo, Franklin’s new job will be focused more on the Yankees’ lower level affiliates. However, he expects to make at least one trip to Trenton and the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre during 2015.

That would be a nice time for Trenton to honor Franklin for his contributions to the franchise… let’s see what happens this summer.