Discover more from Here's the Pitch: the IBWAA Newsletter
Minor-League Game Helps California Teacher
ALSO: WELCOME BACK TO THE WORLD OF THE LIVING, HINCHLIFFE STADIUM
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Did you know…
The shortest man in the National League, Atlanta second baseman Ozzie Albies stands 5-foot-8 and weighs 165 pounds. He also packs a considerable punch, with 10 homers over the first six weeks. That’s a 40-homer pace, the most for anyone under 5’8” and lighter than 165 lbs. The previous record remains 30 — by Albies in 2021. Before that, the mark was 27 by Joe Morgan’s of the Big Red Machine in 1976.
Wild things often happen without fanfare during spring training but this year’s Pirates-Orioles game was truly remarkable: although Pittsburgh won the game, 7-4, in regulation time, the teams agreed to play an unnecessary bottom of the ninth so that Oriole pitchers could get extra work. The umps left when the game ended so Baltimore catcher Maverick Handley served as “the home-plate umpire.”
Marlins center fielder Jazz Chisholm, Jr. has turf toe and will be out 4-6 weeks — a major blow to a Marlins outfield that is already without Jesus Sanchez and Avisail Garcia.
Also in the Sunshine State, Tampa Bay is on pace for a record 120 wins, breaking the record of 116 shared by the 1906 Cubs (in 154 games) and 2001 Mariners (in 162). But the AL East team is also on track for 312 home runs, five more than the 2019 major-league mark of the Minnesota Twins.
Shohei Ohtani is the only pitcher in major-league history with a home run, triple, single, and walk in one game.
Minor Leagues: Where the Dream Begins
By Anthony Solorzano II
During my third year as a full-time teacher, I was put on a leave of absence because I had my 11th grade students read a satirical article. The text was about a teacher complaining that he couldn’t afford his vices to manage the stress of being a teacher because of his teacher salary.
Since being put on leave of absence, I have had the time to follow my dream of writing about sports, specifically baseball and soccer.
Last week, I had a cathartic experience while attending a Class A Minor League game between the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and the Stockton Ports.
Class A is where the dream of reaching the major leagues starts for many. This is where players embark on their professional careers. Class A is where they begin to pave their way to stardom and make a name for themselves.
During the top of the fourth inning, Tommy Stevenson hit a 1-1 pitch out the ballpark, giving the Ports a 1-0 lead. Stevenson began his professional career after being drafted by the Oakland A’s in the 19th round of the 2022 draft. His hard work at Missouri Southern State has paid off, and his pursuit of reaching the majors continues.
For the Quakes, despite finding themselves down by one run, they never waved the white flag or quit. The Quakes persevered, determined to figure out how to climb out of the hole — a stage I can relate to.
After being put on the leave of absence, my mental health took a dip. I found myself overeating and isolating myself while feeling sorry for myself. A couple of years ago, I applied for a program to become a therapist but was put on the wait-list. I want to make it clear that I am not an expert in mental health, but it seems like I was experiencing symptoms of depression.
It wasn’t until I started blogging about the Dodgers and writing for Here’s the Pitch that I began to feel like myself again. Just like the Quakes, I climbed out of the hole one blog at a time.
The Quakes started the bottom of the eighth with a fly-out by Cameron Decker. Following the out, Jose Izarra singled and Chris Newell walked. The next batter hit a ground ball for a potential double-play, but the Ports’ second baseman, Bjay Cooke, missed the throw, resulting in an error. The error allowed a run to score.
Due to the error, another batter came to bat. The Quakes took the lead when Jorge Puerta hit a double.
The error that likely impacted my career as a teacher ultimately led me to pursue writing. It allowed me to follow my dream of covering sports, which has resulted in me becoming a writer in the LA Galaxy press box. Just like the Quakes, I have taken the lead and embraced new opportunities.
No matter how many obstacles are thrown at you, such as a top of the ninth that resulted in the Ports taking the lead after scoring two runs, or being denied by multiple publications, remember that there is always a bottom of the ninth to be played.
The Quakes began the bottom of the ninth with a single by Jesus Galiz, followed by a single by Kenneth Betancourt. In the third at-bat of the inning, Dayton Dooney sealed the comeback with a walk-off double to left field.
The Quakes displayed remarkable resilience and never gave up. Despite being down twice in the game, the team continued to fight relentlessly. Inspired by their determination, I will persevere and climb out of my own personal challenges, just as the Quakes fought hard to secure the win.
Coincidentally, the game happened to be Education Day, with the stands filled by students and school staff members. It served as the perfect culmination of my 10 years in education, as I transitioned into my new role as a sportswriter.
Here’s to dreaming and embracing new beginnings.
Anthony Solorzano II likes to write about baseball and soccer. Find his writing and blogs at The Squib Substacks
Hinchliffe Returns To Life Today After $103 Million Restoration
By Dan Schlossberg
Hinchliffe Stadium is back.
The one-time Negro Leagues ballpark, where Larry Doby Sr. and other future Hall of Famers played, will have a ribbon-cutting today in front of a flock of important guests.
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), comedian Whoopi Goldberg, and a handful of former black stars will gather to kick off a new chapter for the 90-year-old ballpark.
Reduced from an original 10,000 seats to 7,800, Hinchliffe has a distinctive oval shape and a regular tenants in the Jersey Jackals, a Frontier League team that plays its first home game tomorrow.
Projected as the cornerstone in the comeback of once-blighted Paterson, NJ, the ballpark has a food court, a museum, a 315-space parking garage, and even 75 units of housing for seniors.
The one-time home of the New York Black Yankees and New York Cubans sits a stone’s throw from the Paterson Great Falls, a 77-foot waterfall that is part of a National Historic Park. Alex Hamilton once harnessed its hydroelectric power to service the growing industrial power of Paterson in the late 18th century.
The return of the stadium, built in 1932, marks a major success story for Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh and developer Baye Adofo-Wilson, both of whom participated in the original groundbreaking more than two years ago.
At that time, the concrete stadium had weeds growing in the bleachers and trees poking through the asphalt that covered the original playing surface.
The stadium will be owned and operated by the Paterson school district, which hopes to revive its annual Thanksgiving Day high school football classic on the site.
Hinchliffe is one of four surviving Negro Leagues parks. The oldest is Rickwood Field in Birmingham.
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg lives in Fair Lawn, NJ, less than a half-hour from Hinchliffe. He’s currently writing a book on Hank Aaron, who not only began his professional career in the Negro Leagues but was the last active big-leaguer who played in them. Reach Dan via e.mail at email@example.com.
“I’m just glad my bat is in the Hall of Fame. It’s the only bat there because of a base-on-balls but it’s still in Cooperstown. It’s also the only bat that has a Star of David scratched into the knob. One at-bat changed the game — and my life — forever. Some say the designated hitter screwed up the game but I’d rather be associated with a controversial rule than forgotten.”
— Ron Blomberg, who became the first DH on April 6, 1973
Connie Mack came up with the DH concept in 1906 but got no support . . .
Yordan Alvarez, Bob Hamelin, and Eddie Murray are the only designated hitters to win Rookie of the Year trophies . . .
When Randy Johnson accidentally killed a bird in flight with a fastball during a 2001 spring training game, a Harvard professor projected the odds for such an event at 1 in 13 million . . .
Before the DH, pitchers hit two grand-slams in post-season play — and both for the same team in the same year: Baltimore’s Mike Cuellar hit one in the first game of the 1970 ALCS while Dave McNally banged on in World Series Game 3 ten days later . . .
Michael Blazek of the 2017 Milwaukee Brewers remains the only pitcher to give up five home runs in one inning. The Washington Nationals hit the homers, including four of them in a row . . .
Before Joe Musgrove pitched the first no-hitter in Padres history, five San Diego pitchers lost no-hit bids in the ninth inning . . .
After signing a four-year, $23.5 million contract with the Chicago Cubs, Todd Hundley hit .198 with 30 homers — but the Dodgers still traded Eric Karros and Mark Grudzielanek to Chicago to get the under-performing backstop.
Know Your Editors
HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Benjamin Chase [firstname.lastname@example.org] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [email@example.com] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [firstname.lastname@example.org] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.