Future King Went To A Baseball Game In D.C.
PLUS: RATING THE BASEBALL'S BEST RIGHT-LEFT PUNCHES
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Did you know…
Now that Andruw Jones had his No. 25 retired and his name added to the Braves Hall of Fame, he shouldn’t have to wait much longer for the one in Cooperstown . . .
His number, taken out of circulation by Atlanta last Sept. 9, was the 11th one retired by the Braves . . .
Another player who had his jersey retired last year was pitcher-turned-broadcaster Fernando Valenzuela, whose No. 34 was given the special treatment on Aug. 11 . . .
Adam Wainwright, Miguel Cabrera, and managers Terry Francona and Dusty Baker all retired after the 2023 season and could become Hall of Famers within five years . . .
After pitching a perfect game last June 28, Domingo German has fallen so far that no team might be willing to sign him out of free agency . . .
Michael Lorenzen, author of one of the three other no-hitters in 2023, also may lack multiple suitors after a sharp second-half decline . . .
Dodgers star Mookie Betts had a record 107 RBI from the lead-off spot last year but Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna, Jr. was right behind him at 106.
As a prince, King Charles was introduced to baseball at RFK Stadium
By Andrew C. Sharp
Britain’s King Charles III turned 75 last month, after waiting 74 of those years to take the throne.
He and I have a couple of things in common. We each saw the Washington Senators play at D.C.’s Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, and we were born days apart on the same island nation.
Unlike me, Prince Charles sat in a field level, front-row, box seat when visited RFK on July 20, 1970, the first and only time he attended a major-league game. He did so at the behest of David Eisenhower, Dwight Eisenhower’s son, who was interning with the Senators that season.
The crowd of about 8,500 politely applauded as the Prince of Wales arrived as the game was about to begin. The 21-year-old prince was accompanied by his 19-year-old sister, Princess Anne, and President Richard Nixon’s two daughters, Julie and Tricia. Julie was married to David Eisenhower.
The game was played on typically-hot Saturday afternoon in D.C. with the temperature at game time approaching the low 90s.
The British and American national anthems were played. The British royals stood silently for both, according to The Washington Post. Charles “appeared very studious throughout the game,” smiling “only when the Senators scored and when a fan made a clean catch of a high foul into the upper deck.”
As the game was the annual camera day, many in the crowd hoped to snap a picture of the prince, but were kept at a distance by the Secret Service. Several of the players, however, brought out their own cameras and, from the field, snapped clear shots of the British royals.
The prince was seated next to Tricia, with whom he had danced three times the evening before at a White House dinner in his honor. “That was the time when they were trying to marry me off to Tricia Nixon,” Charles told CNN in 2021. “That was quite amusing, I must say.”
Pitcher Tom Bradley, who grew up in the D.C. area and attended the University of Maryland in nearby College Park, was making his third start for the Angels since being recalled earlier in July. The presence of family and friends, not that of the prince, he said, made him a bit nervous. He left after four innings, down 2-0, having given up one earned run on three hits. But he walked three and threw a wild pitch.
His mound opponent was longtime Angel workhorse George Brunet, who threw a six-hit shutout in winning 4-0.
“Charles had great trouble understanding the concept of the foul ball,” the Washington Post reported the next day. “When the Senators’ Mike Epstein hit one into the stands in the first inning, the prince … could not understand why it was not a home run. He was quickly straightened out by the gestures of young Eisenhower, who pointed toward the two bright yellow foul poles.”
After an inning in a field-level box, the prince’s group moved to the enclosed club level before leaving the game at the end of the fifth to visit an art gallery.
Later that afternoon, Charles ended his three-day U.S. trip by talking with President Nixon for more than an hour at the White House. “Come back again, and maybe the Senators will win again,” Nixon reportedly told the prince.
Prince Charles grew up in England, of course. My parents took their 3-year-old son from Scotland to a new life in Washington, D.C., where I was exposed at a much earlier age than the prince to the strange and wonderful game of baseball.
Andrew C. Sharp is a retired daily newspaper journalist and a SABR member who has written and edited dozens of essays for the Bio and Games projects. He blogs about D.C. baseball at washingtonbaseballhistory.com
Acuña + Olson = Baseball’s Best Right-Left Punch
By Dan Schlossberg
While the arrival of Juan Soto in the Bronx is an enormous boost for the Yankees, it does not automatically give them the best 1-2 punch in the game.
The former batting champion will a boon to Aaron Boone’s lineup, sandwiched between DJ LeMahieu — another past batting king — and Aaron Judge but even the proximity of Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right field doesn’t make that tandem the best.
Here’s how the game’s top right-left tandems line up:
Ronald Acuña, Jr. and Matt Olson, Braves — Like Ohtani, the 26-year-old Acuña was a unanimous MVP selection after compiling the first 40/70 season in baseball history. En route to a career-best .337 batting average, second in the National League, he stole a club-record 73 bases, hit 41 home runs, and led both leagues with 217 hits, 149 runs scored, 383 total bases, a 1.012 OPS, and a .416 on-base percentage. Olson, an Atlanta native in his second full season with the Braves, merely led the majors with 54 home runs, 139 runs batted in, and a .604 slugging percentage. He won’t turn 30 until after the start of next season.
Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, Dodgers — The top two hitters in the Los Angeles lineup last year combined for a .319 average, 68 home runs, 209 runs batted in, 257 runs scored, and 37 steals (mostly by the speed-blessed Betts). Both are former Most Valuable Players who also bid for the award in 2023.
Aaron Judge and Juan Soto, Yankees — Entering the walk year of his contract, Soto should be nothing short of sensational in pinstripes. He led the majors with 132 walks but batted a pedestrian .275 despite 35 homers. With a healthy Judge behind him and that short fence beckoning, he should provide the lefty power the Yankees lacked last year. Judge won’t approach his record 62-homer season but still should contend with his new teammate for MVP honors — and perhaps bring his team back into postseason play.
Marcus Semien and Corey Seager, Rangers — The best double-play tandem in baseball, Seager and Semien were both 2023 All-Stars who displayed MVP credentials in a year dominated by Ohtani. Overcoming injuries that limited him to 119 games, Seager enjoyed one of the most productive seasons ever recorded by a shortstop — then kept slugging in the playoffs as the Rangers won their first world championship. That helped justify the $500 million cost of signing the two free agents.
Yordan Álvarez and José Altuve, Astros — The shortest man in the majors at 5’6”, Altuve has no trouble hitting for contact and power. He’s won three batting crowns and an MVP award while making the American League All-Star team eight times. Both he and Alvarez seem to turn on the competitive juices even more during post-season play, when the left-right tandem invariably proves particularly explosive.
Here’s The Pitch weekend editor Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ is the author of 41 baseball books and, for the past six years, regular baseball columns for forbes.com. Now booking book talks for 2024, he can be reached via email@example.com.
The Texas Rangers had a record 10 straight post-season wins in 2023, breaking the record of nine held by the Yankees (twice) . . .
The Arizona Diamondbacks, facing Texas, hit four home runs in an inning of a post-season game — against the Dodgers in NLDS Game 3 . . .
Last June 13, the Oakland Athletics became the first team since 1895 to win seven games in a row after starting the string with a “winning” percentage below .200 (at 12-50, they went in at .194) . . .
The Tampa Bay Rays actually won a game last year in which they gave up a grand-slam and hit into a triple play (on August 18) . . .
Paul Goldschmidt is the only man to play regular-season MLB games in five different countries: Australia, the USA, Canada, Mexico, and United Kingdom.
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