Monday, January 30, 2017

SABR Day 2017: Connie Mack Chapter hosts Howie Bedell and others

The 2017 edition of the Connie Mack Chapter SABR Day featured a full slate of fun and interesting presentations. Guests included Phillies Alum Howie Bedell and Author Charles Kupfer. Additional presentations were given by several chapter members who covered a variety of topics ranging from the 19th century manufacture of the original “Base Ball” to present day Cuba excursions to see games.

Howie Bedell
The highlight of the day was a personal appearance by former Major Leaguer Howie Bedell. The 81 year old Pottstown native spoke for over two hours regarding his upbringing and career both on and off the field. As a player Bedell spent only spent part of the 1968 season with the Phillies as a player but spent a decade in the organization fulfilling various coaching and player development roles.

Bedell confirmed something that I think many Phillies fans suspect. The Phillies do too much hiring and decision making from within. He cited nepotism as a problem within all organizations but felt as though there was a particular lack of leadership within the Phillies. He cited several examples of individuals that did not have enough commitment to make painful decisions, even if they were the right decisions. A theme throughout Bedell’s career appears to having to be the axe-man when it came to firing people. He was also careful to mention in several cases the ensuing changes worked out better for the person involved. They would get into better careers in other facets of baseball where they were better suited. Jim Bunning was relieved as his job as a minor league manager, but this led to him becoming an agent. This experience may have helped the Future Hall of Famer in getting involved in politics and eventually becoming a senator. Similar stories were mentioned that involved folks such as Dallas Green and Granny Hamner.

The Phillies won the 1980 World Series while Bedell was in the organization, it would the first of three World Championships with three different clubs.  He also won a ring with the Royals as a coach in 1985 and with the 1990 Reds as a member of their front office.

Bedell's time in Kansas City included the development of the slide step for pitchers. The Royals needed a way to neutralize the Cardinals fleet footed running game. The Slide Step was the solution - and it must have worked. The Cardinals only stole 2 bases in the 7 games series (while getting caught 3 times). Compare that with the 314 Thefts the Cards racked up during the regular season. Of course one needs to mention that the Cardinals also lost Rookie Vince Coleman (and his 110 steals) for that series due to injury.

Charles Kupfer on the Orioles 1979-1983
Harrisburg based Professor and author Charles Kupfer discussed his upcoming book “Something Magic: the Baltimore Orioles, 1979-1983” which he was gracious enough to amend to 1982 for purposes of entertaining a room full of Phillies fans. One of the interesting points he brought up was that the Oriole Way is documented in the book “Modern Baseball Strategy” by Former player and manager Paul Richards. Kupfer’s book is due out in May and will be available via Amazon.

Mark Kanter on Cuba
Mr Kanter discussed the SABR Group Travel experience to Cuba that he had this past fall. As could be expected there was a lot of interesting info that went beyond baseball. Among the slides Mark displayed were several of decrepit stadiums that are 60+ years old. Games are played during the day and have sparse attendance, despite a meager three-cent admission. Several SABR members took baseball equipment to Cuba to be given to the teams – the Items were much appreciated. For more details see Mark's article in the Jewish Voice.

Seamus Kearney
Connie Mack Co-Chair Seamus Kearney led a discussion on the career of John Kruk who is returning to Philadelphia this year as a broadcaster. Kruk always brings warm memories to Phillies sports fan and it was very enjoyable hearing al the stories told by and about Kruk over the years.

The Chapters other Chairperson, Dick Rosen, was also scheduled to speak but unfortunately due to time constraints his presentation on Goose Goslin was postpone for a future meeting.

Steven King
Yes SABR has it’s own Steven King who is also a writer. King often covers early 20th century baseball, and this weekend his presentation was titled “Andy Coakley: Man of Mystery”. King related several anecdotes about Coakley using various aliases to get involved in both baseball and non-baseball activities. None of this deception appears to have been malicious, and some of the stories may be puew legend based off of Coakleys previous deceptions. Regardless Coakley is in various local Hall of Fames including Columbia University where he coached for 30+ years which included the tenure of Lou Gehrig.

Ed Morton
Connie Mack regular Ed Morton put together a detailed powerpoint that discussed the birth of the "Base Ball" covering the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Much of the information concerned the relationship between AJ Reach and Spalding as well as another baseball manufacturer Victor.

Phil Williams
SABR Bioproject author Phil Williams detailed a terrible October 1913 evening in Brainerd Minnesota. That night Philadelphia Athletics Pitcher Joe Bush was fresh off a World Series triumph with the club.  All that good fortune turned in an instant as Bush while at home in Brainerd accidentally ran over a pedestrian. Bush was acquitted of any wrong doing and went on to have a very successful baseball career which included winning two additional World Titles, one each with the Red Sox and Yankees.

Matt Albertson
Matt gave a status update on the attempt to get a historical marker placed at the Jefferson Street Ball Park site. The major hurdle remaining is funding. A facebook page related to the project can be found here. If you would like to make a contribution to the project the crowdsourcing site is here.

Extra Innings
In additions to the presentations a raffle was held and lunch was served. Despite a tight schedule there was some time for socializing and catching up on the off-season. I didn’t make an exact count but I estimate 30 members attended 2017 Connie Mack SABR Day.

There is much more detail I could go into but that would require much more time. I could do a weeks worth of postings on Howie Bedell alone.

The Connie Mack chapter of SABR has their next Hot Stove meeting scheduled for February 11th. It will likely be smaller in scope then SABR Day but still should be fun.

Sources and Links
Columbia University
SABR - Jefferson St Grounds
The Jewish Voice
SABR - Paul Richards

Monday, December 5, 2016

2017 Hall of Fame Canidate: Pat Burrell

Today we take a look at the most prominent Phillies player on the 2017 Hall of Fame Ballot, Pat Burrell.

2009 UD A Piece of History Box Score Memories #BSM-PB Pat Burrell

For close to a decade Pat Burrell was fixture in the Middle of the Phillies batting order. The 2009 UD card featured here honors one of those games. On October 5th 2008 the Phillies defeated the Brewers 6-2 in game 4 of the NLDS. The W clinched the franchise first Postseason series victory in 15 years.

WAR Stories (actually WPA stories)
Pat Burrell was the offense hero of that game going 3-4 with a pair of Homers and 4 RBI. The big blow was a 2 out/2 strike three run homer in the third. The shot gave the Phillies a 4-0 which they never relinquished. Burrell led all players in Win Probability Added for the game with a healthy 0.282 number. The 3 run homer accounted for 23 of those 28 points.

2009 UD A Piece of History Box Score Memories #BSM-PB Pat Burrell (b-side)

Back of the card has a nice box score with Burrell Boldfaced in the #5 spot in the batting order. Other noteworthies in the box are Jimmy Rollins who Homered to lead off the game and Jayson Werth who hit a dinger immediately after Burrell's 3 run blast.

Upper Dreck
couple of complaints with the UD box score. I would like to see the line score of the game - Hell UD doesn't even mention who the Phillies played. There pitching portion of the box is also ignored. The often overlooked Joe Blanton went 6 innings allowing just 5 hits and a single run (Homer Prince Fielder)

I have one other complaint. That is on the front of the card - The Phillies and Brewers played this game in Milwaukee, wish that UD would have selected a photo Burrell in an away uni. It is one of those things that I am OCD about on baseball cards - especially cards that are "inserts"

Phungo Verdict

Hell Yes Hall of Fame!

Pat Burrell's tenure in Philadelphia concluded with a World Championship. He followed that up by being part of a World Series winner in San Francisco.  Phungo Verdict = HoF

Phungo Pat Burrell Index 

1999 Topps #T44
1999 Topps Stadium Club #151 Pat Burell - 1998 First overall Pick
2001 Topps #144 (rookie cup)
2001 Topps Stadium Club
2002 Topps Heritage #179
2003 Topps Heritage #11
2004 Fleer Authentix #50
2006 Topps Opening Day #117
2006 Fleer Ultra Diamond Producers #DP19 
2007 Topps Heritage #90 
2008 UD Documentary 2008 06 20
2009 Phungo #5
2011 Topps (w/ Giants)

2010 08 17 Game Report (Burrell returns to Philadelphia with Giants)
2015 Alumni Weekend
Pat Burrell's farewell letter to Philadelphia

Sources and Links
2017 HoF Candidates
Game Dated Card Index
Check out my Cards 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Philly Show returns to Valley Forge this weekend.

The Philly Show is back in Valley Forge this weekend. Busy times at HQ right now, Not sure if team Phungo will be able to make the trek.

1971 Topps #49 Don Money

I hope I get there as both of my favorite dealers are scheduled to be at the show. If anyone else is going let me know and I will keep an eye open for you.

There are always autograph guests at the Philly Show, this edition of the show is largely football based, but there is one baseball player scheduled to appear, Don Money.

1971 Topps #49 Don Money (b-side)

1971T finds Money at the peak of the five seasons he spent with Philadelphia. As can seen on his back stats he compiled 14 Homers along with a .295 average - In today's modern stats that would be a very healthy 123 OPS+ and a 3.5 WAR. 

Other Autographs
There are a number of football guests at the show including Hall of Famers Jack Lambert, Lenny Moore (age 83!), Gino Marchetti (89!), and Herb Adderley. Famous Notre Dame alum Rudy will be there as well.

The show runs December 2-4 and admission is $8. For more information on the show click here.

Sources and Links

Monday, November 28, 2016

2017 Hall of Fame Candidate: Vladimir Guerrero

Getting to the 2017 HoF Candidates a little late this year. There are at least a half dozen players I would like to profile including a couple of prominent players who spent time with the Phillies.

We open this series with a longtime member of the Phillies division rival Montreal Expos, Vladimir Guerrero.

1998 Topps #5 Vladimir Guerrero 

Vlad deserves HOF nod just for this card alone. One of my gripes about recent Topps is the plethora of action shots. While 1998T might not have the best design, at least there is some interesting variations in the photography.

1998 Topps #5 Vladimir Guerrero (b-side)

The text on the back discusses a play early in Vlad Guerrero's career where he scored from second on a sacrifice fly. The run gave the Expos a 2-1 lead versus the Braves and future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux. Unfortunately for Montreal Ugueth Urbina would later give up a 2 Run Homer to Keith Lockhart which would give Atlanta a 3-2 victory. 

Regardless the rare 2 base sacrifice score gave us a glimpse into the talent of the young Vlad Guerrero. The fly out came off the bat of Doug Strange who hit the ball to Right Fielder Michael Tucker.

The play was featured on a 1998 Stadium Club Card

 1998 Stadium Club #3 Vladimir Guerrero (image swiped from Play at the Plate)

A nice analysis of this card was done by the fine crew at Play at the Plate (who else).  I may need to add this card to the Phungo Collection just as a companion for the 1998 Base card.

Phungo Verditct


The scoring from 2nd on a Fly Out is the kind of hustle that makes one want to cast a Yes HoF vote.

Sources and Links
Play at the Plate
2017 HoF Candidates Index
Phungo Game Dated Index
Check Out My Cards 

2017 Hall of Fame Candidates Index

This is an index of our posts related to the 2017 Hall of Fame Candidates

 2009 UD A Piece of History Box Score Memories #BSM-PB Pat Burrell

New to the BBWAA HoF Ballot in 2017
Aaron Rowand
Arthur Rhodes
Carlos Guillen
Danys Baez
Derrek Lee
Edgar Renteria
Freddy Sanchez
Ivan Rodriguez
J.D. Drew
Jason Varitek
Javier Vazquez
Jorge Posada
Julio Lugo
Magglio Ordonez
Manny Ramirez
Melvin Mora
Mike Cameron
Orlando Cabrera
Pat Burrell
Tim Wakefield
Vladimir Guerrero

Final BBWAA Ballot in 2017
Tim Raines
Lee Smith

Players from previous BBWAA Ballots 
Barry Bonds
Billy Wagner
Curt Schilling
Edgar Martinez
Fred McGriff
Gary Sheffield
Jeff Bagwell
Jeff Kent
Larry Walker
Mike Mussina
Roger Clemens
Sammy Sosa
Trevor Hoffman

Sources and Links

Sunday, November 27, 2016

2008 Topps Heritage News Flashbacks #NF3 Fidel Castro

I honestly did not think I had any Fidel Castro cards but came across the one when doing some weekend paging.

 2008 Topps Heritage News Flashbacks #NF3 Fidel Castro

The Card Title "Fidel Castro Becomes Prime Minister of Cuba" pretty much sums it up. The Back goes into a bit more detail and briefly alludes to Castro's baseball career. 

2008 Topps Heritage News Flashbacks #NF3 Fidel Castro (b-side)

One of the benefits of a SABR membership is access to the Paper of Record archives which includes back issues of "The Sporting News". The late 1950s articles on Cuban baseball are pretty interesting, The Havana Sugar Kings were a pretty successful team playing in a very uncertain environment.

As you can see on the card above Castro took power on February 16 1959. The issue of "The Sporting News" that hit the stands two days later included the following:

The Sporting News (1959 02 18)

The Sugar Kings President Bob Maduro appeared to truly believe that Havana would eventually get a Major league baseball team. According to future issues of the Sporting News Castro did hold up his commitment to throw out the first pitch at the Havana opener.

However any trust between Maduro and Castro quickly ended. In 1962 Maduro fled the country after the Castro Regime confiscated all of his assets.

Bobby Maduro immigrated to the United States and remained in Baseball. He held a variety of different positions with different minor league clubs and worked for Major League Baseball as a liaison with Latin American Leagues and ballplayers. 

Sources and Links
SABR Bobby Maduro Biography - Rory Costello
New York Times

Monday, November 14, 2016

Welcome to the HoF Eric Lindros!

Tonight Eric Lindros is being inducted into the Hall of Fame. This gives us another chance to post this fun card.

1990 Score Traded #100T Eric Lindros

I remember Lindros quite fondly. He is probably the number one reason I developed any interesting in Hockey. One of my favorite playoff games was a 1996 Conference Semi-Final contest versus the Panthers. The Flyers won the game 3-2, Lindros scored a goal and recorded a pair of assists. At the end of the game he basically kept the puck away from the Panthers for a good 10 seconds.  Greatest single player performance I ever saw live.

Sources and Links
Phungo Eric Lindros Index
Hockey HoF

a thousand words

a thousand words
2008 World Champions