Monday, August 30, 2010

Last week was HUGE for my pursuit of interviewing the oldest living baseball players for my upcoming book, Chasing Greats (June 2011, McFarland Publishing). My goal is to interview the players who can still be interviewed, and cross off my list of the ones who can't be interviewed for whatever reason.
So, here's what happened last week:
First, I contacted Ray Hathaway (#21 on the list) and interviewed him on the phone.

On Sunday, I drove 12 hours to and from Oxnard to interview the oldest living player, Tony Malinosky.

Later that day, I traveled to Ventura to locate Don Lang (#9). I was able to contact Don's wife and she explained that he cannot speak or recognize anyone. So, unfortunately, no interview there.

And finally, I had to take Eddie Joost (#16) off my list. He told me in very simple terms that he doesn't want to be bothered by any writers. Oh well.
So, four off my list--I'm making good progress!
Top: Don Lang
Next: Tony Malinosky
Bottom: Ray Hathaway

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Should Gil Hodges Be in the Hall of Fame?

I recently wrote about Lefty O’Doul, a San Francisco baseball legend who deserves be in the Hall of Fame, I believe. Another player/manager who should be in the HOF is the late Gil Hodges. His statistics and contributions to the game as a manager and as a role model make him more than merely a candidate. The Marina has a connection to Hodges, because Gil Hodges III, Gil’s grandson, is well-known in the neighborhood as a co-owner of Liverpool Lil’s. Gilbert Hodges played first base primarily for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. He was the major leagues' outstanding first baseman in the 1950s, with teammate Duke Snider being the only player to have more home runs or runs batted in during the decade. For a time, his 370 career home runs were a National League (NL) record for right-handed hitters, and briefly ranked tenth in major league history; he held the NL record for career grand slams from 1957 to 1974. Hodges anchored the Dodgers’ infield on six pennant winners, and remains one of the most beloved and admired players in team history. As a sterling defensive player, he won the first three Gold Glove Awards ever awarded and led the NL in double plays four times and in putouts, assists and fielding percentage three times each. He ranked second in NL history with 1,281 assists and 1,614 double plays when his career ended, and was also among the league's career leaders in games (6th, 1,908) and total chances (10th, 16,751) at first base. He managed the New York Mets to the 1969 World Series title, one of the greatest upsets in Series history, before his untimely death in 1972. If you compare Hodges to Tony Perez, the Cincinnati Reds’ 1B who is in the HOF, you can plainly see that Hodges deserved to be there. It’s a complete disgrace that this incredible man and player and manager isn’t in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.
Random Thoughts
I went to NYC in August on vacation and I got to see both of the new baseball stadiums. I was talking to several fans and they all said the same thing: “The seats in these new ballparks are way too expensive.” Now NY Giants football fans are bailing on their season tickets, because the prices at the new Meadowlands are out-of-control, even at Big Apple levels. Are these new fancy stadiums pricing the common man right out of the running for seats? It sounds like it and it’s a shame. Pretty soon, corporations will be the only ones who can afford season tickets, $10 beers and $9 hot dogs! The Bay Area can now claim that we have the most successful horse racing jockey in the world right here. If you don’t know him, his name is Russell Baze, who recently celebrated his 11,000th race at the Sonoma County Fair this summer. When I played the horses many years ago, I made a lot of money betting on horses with Baze atop. When he was riding Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s horses for many years primarily at Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields, Baze was as close to being a sure thing as any jockey in the sport.
Will the Lions Roar Again in 2011?
Galileo Academy’s Head Football Coach Mark Huynh is excited about his team this year after the Lions surprised the rest of the Academic League by capturing the title last season (9-3 overall and 6-1 in league). After a talented group of seniors who graduated in June, this team is a very young, but enthusiastic unit, led by Sr. RB Quincy Nelson (“He’s smart, pretty quick and sneaky fast,” Huynh said.); Sr. QB Jonathan Lu (“He got a lot of snaps last year, so we’re excited to see how he’ll do as out #1 guy.”); Sr. Cornerback Waynelle Buckner (“He should make some big plays this year.”); Jr. Center Michael Brzozek, Sr. Cornerback William Kay (“Strong, quick and a hard worker.”); Sr. Middle Linebacker Max Malloy (“He’s a hard hitter and a tough kid.”) and Jr. Nose Tackle Marc Pineda (“He can clog up the middle, which is key to our defense.) Coach Huynh will be running a triple option offense, featuring one fullback and two slot backs, he explained. What teams will be the ones to beat in the Academic League this season? “Washington will be talented and deep and Lowell should be very competitive,” Huynh said. “We don’t know much about Lincoln this year, but I’ve heard they’re a very young, athletic group, so it should be an interesting league this season.” Galileo’s first home game will be against Moreau Catholic on September 18th. Let’s get out there and support the Marina’s only high school football program.