Sports Outside the Beltway

Former Baseball Manager Sparky Anderson dead at 86

He managed both the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers to World Series Championships. He played Major League Baseball for exactly one season, 1959, with the Philadelphia Phillies. He spent a long time in the Brooklyn Dodgers organization as a player and began managing in the minor leagues in Toronto.

I grew up as a kid watching baseball in the 1960′s and 70′s, so I got many memories of Anderson led Reds teams. Though my favorite team was the New York Mets. The Reds and Mets played a NLCS in 1973. After a fight broke out between Bud Harrelson and Pete Rose, Met fans started throwing garbage on the field. Anderson pulled his team from the field for safety purposes. I didn’t blame him then or now.

Anderson was nicknamed Captain Hook because of his tendency to pull starters quickly while managing the Reds(Wouldn’t you if your best pitcher was a Don Gullet who couldn’t be worked too hard, backed up by Fred Norman, Jack Billingham, and Gary Nolan?) but in his later days he swung to the other extreme. He stuck with his mediocre starters in Detroit. RIP George Anderson.

Anderson, who directed the Big Red Machine to back-to-back championships and won another in Detroit, died Thursday from complications of dementia in Thousand Oaks, Calif. He was 76. A day earlier, his family said he’d been placed in hospice care.

Anderson was the first manager to win World Series titles in both leagues and the only manager to lead two franchises in career wins.

“Sparky was, by far, the best manager I ever played for,” said former Reds star Pete Rose, the game’s career hits leader. “He understood people better than anyone I ever met. His players loved him, he loved his players and he loved the game of baseball. There isn’t another person in baseball like Sparky Anderson. He gave his whole life to the game.”

Anderson’s teams in Cincinnati — featuring Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Rose — won crowns in 1975 and 1976 and rank among the most powerful of all-time. Led by Kirk Gibson and Alan Trammell, Anderson won with the Tigers in 1984.


Tampa Bay Ray Matt Garza no-hits Detroit

It was the first in franchise history. From AP-

The Tampa Bay Rays finally wound up on the right side of a memorable pitching performance.Garza

Matt Garza threw the first no-hitter in franchise history and the fifth in the major leagues this season, beating the Detroit Tigers 5-0 Monday night.

“We needed one. I don’t care who it came from. We just needed one for our own confidence,” Garza said, mindful that the Rays have been held hitless four times in their 13-season history — three times in the past year. “The guys are just as excited as I am. It’s fun.”

The 26-year-old right-hander faced the minimum 27 batters in his 106th career start, allowing only a second-inning walk to Brennan Boesch, for a team that’s often been on the wrong end of pitching gems lately.

Two of the no-hitters tossed against the Rays since July 2009 were perfect games. They didn’t manage a hit Monday off starter Max Scherzer until Matt Joyce’s sixth-inning grand slam.

There has been a high amount of no-hitters this year, but not unheard of. Contrary to what the AP writer of the article thinks, this is not the year of the pitcher. That belongs to 1968 when one fifth of the games played that year were shutouts and only one AL batter(Carl Yaztremski) batted over .300. The AL league batting average was .230. 2010 only matches up to 1968 in one thing, no-hitters thrown(5).


Former MLB Pitcher Billy Hoeft dead at 77

He won 20 games for the 1956 Detroit Tigers and once was selected for the All-Star game. RBilly HoeftIP.

From Baseball Library- Hoeft was a mainstay in the Tigers starting rotation in the 1950s, then embarked on a second career as an itinerant lefthanded reliever, changing teams six times between 1959 and 1966. He spent most of his rookie season in the Detroit bullpen, then struggled as a starter in 1953-54, winning only 16 games over the two seasons. In 1955 Hoeft was still only Detroit’s third starter in terms of starts and innings, but he led the AL with seven shutouts on his way to a 16-7, 2.99 record and a spot on the AL All-Star team. In 1956 Hoeft became the first Tiger lefthander since Hal Newhouser to win 20 games, posting a 20-14 mark, but after mediocre seasons in 1957-58, Hoeft returned to the bullpen for the balance of his career.

He was traded to the Red Sox for Ted Lepcio and Dave Sisler in May, 1959, then shipped to Baltimore for Jack Harshman six weeks later. Hoeft enjoyed his best seasons in relief with the Orioles, recording a 2.02 ERA in 1961 and four wins plus seven saves in 1962, then was traded to the Giants and later to the Braves, spending single seasons with each club. On July 14, 1957 Hoeft hit two of his three career home runs.


Former MLB Pitcher Hal Manders dead at 92

He was a cousin of Hall of Famer Bob Feller. RIP.

Waukee native and former Major League Baseball player Harold “Hal” Manders died Thursday at The Village at Legacy Pointe in Waukee. He was 92.

Manders, a right-handed pitcher, played parts of three seasons in the majors (1941, ’42 and ’46), mostly with the Detroit Tigers — but also two games with the Chicago Cubs.

He broke into the majors, at age 24, in the same season as future Yankees star Phil Rizzuto. The 1941 baseball season Manders is remembered for Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak — still a major-league record — and the .406 batting average of Ted Williams (no player has hit over .400 since).

In 30 major-league games, Manders produced a 3-1 record and 4.77 ERA, with an equal number of walks and strikeouts (28).

Manders, who attended the University of Iowa, was the cousin of Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller.


Detroit Catcher Gerald Laird and his brother arrested after brawl

Were they the last professional athletes to be arrested in 2009? From AP-

Detroit Tigers catcher Gerald Laird and his younger brother, New York Yankees infield prospect Brandon Laird, were arrested following a brawl in the lounge area of Phoenix’s NBA arena, according to police.

Phoenix police said Gerald Laird, 30, was cited for assault Wednesday night and 22-year-old Brandon Laird was cited for disorderly conduct. Police said the Lairds and a third man were arrested at U.S. Airways Center after the fight during the Phoenix Suns-Boston Celtics game.

Police said arena security previously contacted the group of men about their loud behavior. Two of the men were allowed back into the lounge after a conversation with security, but a melee broke out shortly afterward and the Laird brothers allegedly assaulted the security guards.

Brandon Laird is a infield prospect in the New York Yankees farm system.


Los Angeles Angels sign reliever Fernando Rodney

From AP-

Reliever Fernando Rodney signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels yesterday.

The 32-year-old right-hander spent his first seven major league seasons with the Detroit Tigers, including the last two years as their closer. He converted 37 of 38 save opportunities last season, pitching a career-best 75[0xb7] innings.

Rodney is a very good relief pitcher. In light of his talent and the terms of their contract with him, I see this as a very low risk move for the Angels.


Washington Nationals sign C Ivan Rodriguez

The Nationals will be Pudge’s 5th team in three years. From the Washington Times-

The Washington Nationals have agreed with former Texas Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez on a two-year deal, according to a club source. The deal is believed to be worth $6 million, and it gives Washington the veteran catcher who can both spell and mentor Jesus Flores that general manager Mike Rizzo said he’s been looking for.Pudge

The move came shortly after the midnight deadline for free agents to accept arbitration offers. Rodriguez declined arbitration, instead landing a multi-year deal at the age of 38.

What the Nationals will primarily be getting is experience; the future Hall of Famer has played nearly 2,400 major-league games and reached 14 All-Star Games. He has thrown out 46 percent of baserunners during his career.

Washington has been searching for an insurance policy behind the plate with Flores trying to return from shoulder surgery. He also won rave reviews for his work with a young pitching staff in Detroit from 2004-08, and will be counted on to duplicate those efforts with the Nationals’ young arms, particularly top overall pick Stephen Strasburg.

The Nationals goals of having Rodriguez tutor Flores and Strasburg are realistic. Pudge’s goal of playing 70 or more games next season, is more problematic. He is 38 and with almost 2,300 games under his belt. I don’t think he is capable of maintaining a heavy and productive workload but that’s my opinion.


Philadelphia Phillies sign IF Placido Polanco

He previously played for the Phillies from 2002 to 2005. From ESPN-

Placido Polanco is returning to the Philadelphia Phillies, signing a three-year, $18 million deal, with a mutual option for a fourth year.

The 34-year-old infielder arrived in Philadelphia on Thursday morning to take a physical, and told NBC-10 TV’s John Clark that he’s “excited to join a championship team.”

Before Wednesday, the Phillies appeared to be locked in on three potential free-agent third basemen — Polanco, Adrian Beltre and Mark DeRosa. But talks intensified with Polanco’s agents Wednesday, a day after his old team, the Tigers, declined to offer him arbitration.

Polanco is a Type A free agent, so the decision to not offer him arbitration means the Phillies signed him without losing their first-round draft pick.

Polanco played for the Phillies from 2002 to 2005. And their mutual familiarity appeared to be a major force driving their pursuit.


The Phillies declined the option on third baseman Pedro Feliz last month to see if they could find a righthanded-hitting offensive upgrade who could help balance their left-leaning lineup. They envision Polanco hitting second behind Jimmy Rollins, a move that would drop Shane Victorino lower in the order.

Polanco batted .337 at Citizens Bank Park while with the Phillies, with more walks (23) than strikeouts (20).

Philadelphia likes Polanco’s plate discipline. I think the signing was a good move. Polanco a more than solid Major League Baseball player.


Former NY Yankee Tommy Henrich dead at 96

He, Joe Dimaggio, and Charlie Keller formed a great outfield in the 40′s when men weren’t off fighting World War II. Henrich’s career stats would have better if not for the 3 years he lost due to his service in the Coast Guard, and back trouble late in his career. After his days were up as a ballplayer, he was a Coach for the Yankees, Detroit Tigers, and New York Giants. RIP.

Tommy Henrich, nicknamed “Old Reliable” for his knack of delivering clutch hits for the New York Yankees, died Tuesday. He was 96.Untitled

Henrich died in Dayton, Ohio, the team said.

Henrich was a five-time All-Star outfielder who joined the Yankees in 1937 and finished in 1950, winning four World Series championships. He missed three seasons while serving in the Coast Guard during World War II.

Henrich hit the first game-ending home run in World Series history, leading off the bottom of the ninth inning with a drive against Don Newcombe to beat Brooklyn 1-0 in the 1949 opener.

“He was extremely good in big games, games that meant something,” former teammate and family friend Bobby Brown told The Associated Press by telephone from his home in Texas.

“If we were ahead 10-1 or 10-2, he was just average. If we were behind 10-1 or 10-2, same thing. But get him in a big game and he was terrific,” Brown said. “We didn’t call him ‘Old Reliable.’ We just knew he was ‘Old Reliable.’”

Yet Henrich’s most famous at-bat may have been a time when he didn’t hit the ball.

In Game 4 of the 1941 Series against the Dodgers, Henrich struck out to seemingly end the game. But Brooklyn catcher Mickey Owen dropped the third strike, and Henrich raced safely to first base.

Given another chance, the Yankees rallied for four runs in the ninth inning for a 7-4 win and a 3-1 Series edge.

Henrich hit .282 with 183 home runs and 795 RBIs. He twice led the American League in triples and topped the AL by scoring 138 runs in 1948. Late in his career, he moved from right field and finished as a part-time first baseman.

Henrich played in the World Series in 1938, 1941, 1947 and 1949 and won championships every time. He hit one home run in each Series.

“I am saddened by the loss of Tommy Henrich, who was truly one of my personal favorites,” commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. “‘Old Reliable’ was beloved by his Yankee teammates.”

Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford were among Henrich’s Hall of Fame teammates. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, pitcher Virgil Trucks is now believed to be the oldest living Yankee at 92 years.

Henrich was born in Massillon, Ohio, a city known for its football prowess, and was longtime friends with famed coach Paul Brown. After retiring, Henrich was a coach with the Yankees, New York Giants and Detroit Tigers.

Bobby Brown had stayed in touch with Henrich, and said he last saw him about four years ago. Brown said he got a phone call from Henrich’s daughter on Tuesday informing him of the death.

“Tommy was a darn good ballplayer and teammate,” Berra said in a statement released by the team. “He always took being a Yankee to heart.

“When I came up in 1947, he taught me little nuances about playing the outfield. Being around Tommy made you feel good, whether playing cards or listening to him sing with that great voice. He was a proud man, and if you knew him, he made you proud, too,” Berra said.

Henrich hit a career-high 31 home runs in 1941 and had 100 RBIs in 1948.


Former MLB Pitcher Brian Powell dead at age 35

He was an All American for the U of Georgia and pitched a minor league no-hitter. Powell left behind a wife and three children. RIP.

A sheriff’s official in Georgia says former major league pitcher Brian Powell has died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 35.

Capt. Liz Crowley of the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office says Powell died Monday at a hospital in Tallahassee, Fla. Powell was from Bainbridge, Ga.

Powell was 7-18 with a 5.94 ERA in 59 games for Detroit, Houston, San Francisco and Philadelphia. He last pitched in the majors with the Phillies in 2004, and spent 2005 in Triple-A for Washington.


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