Roy White's Greatest Baseball Memory
ALSO: TAMPA BAY'S WILD, UNEXPECTED RIDE TO DOMINATION OF THE A.L. EAST
Did you know…
Veteran outfielder Adam Duvall, now with the Boston Red Sox, won’t need surgery on his left wrist, broken for the second year in a row. A career .233 hitter, he was batting .455 with a 1.030 OPS and four homers in 37 trips to the plate when he broke his wrist trying to make a diving catch over the weekend . . .
Thanks to a scheduling quirk, the Atlanta Braves will not face Fernando Tatís, Jr. at all this season; their seven games with the San Diego Padres will be history before Tatís returns from his PEDs suspension April 20 . . .
Injured Philly outfielder Bryce Harper, the two-time NL MVP, plans to play first base when he returns from Tommy John elbow surgery by Memorial Day . . .
The Texas Rangers will miss the bat of slugging shortstop Corey Seager, who will miss a month with a strained hamstring . . .
Darin Ruf, a bust with the Mets, is back with the Giants, who signed him as a minor-league free agent and promoted him almost immediately . . .
Baseball is obviously a good game for keeping your Witts together: Bobby Witt, Jr. hit a foul ball Thursday caught by his dad, former pitcher Bobby Witt, Sr., in the stands
My Greatest Baseball Memory
By Roy White as told to Dr. Paul Semendinger
I had an extremely memorable baseball career full of many great moments. There were so many highlights that I sometimes find it difficult to recount them all, but when I stop to think about it, they all come back, slowly, one by one.
I have been blessed to have lived the life that I have. Baseball, of course, has been a big part of who I was and who I still am.
People often ask me to recount my greatest baseball memory. Some who remember me ask me about specific moments. I’ll list a few here, all of which were great and are dear memories, but none of which ranks as my greatest memory.
• In my first Major League game, I singled in my first at bat (off Dave McNally of the Orioles). I later scored on a base hit by Tom Tresh. That was in 1965.
• I became known as an outfielder, but I played second base in my first big league starting assignment, a game in which I had two hits.
• The next year (1966), I hit my first big league homer off Sam McDowell (who would one day be my teammate).
• I batted fourth, behind the great Mickey Mantle. I was there to protect him in the batting order.
• I was a two-time American League All-Star.
• I once went an entire season (1971) without making an error in the field. I was the first Yankee to do that!
• I played in the World Series in 1976, 1977, and 1978. We won the World Series, of course, in 1977 and 1978.
• I had some big post season hits including the game winning home run to win the American League Championship Series in 1978 and another home run in the 1978 World Series.
• It was my bat that Bucky Dent used to hit his famous home run in Boston (also in 1978).
• In Japan, I got to play alongside the great Sadaharu Oh. Once again, I hit fourth in the batting order to protect Japan’s greatest home run hitter.
• I am one of only two players in baseball history to play for a winning team in the World Series and the Japan Series (which we won in 1981).
• I served as a Major League Coach and as a front office executive.
• I helped found the Roy White Foundation to assist high school graduates with some of the costs associated with attending college
• Even today, more than 40 years after my last Major League baseball game, fans approach me and tell me that they loved the way I played the game.
I’ll tell those stories and many more over the pages of this book. This is my story, the story of my life and my baseball journey. I am glad to have the chance to share it with you.
As for my greatest baseball memory, well, it was something a bit simpler than just hitting a home run, making a catch, or being part of something memorable.
My greatest baseball memory was when I walked into the Yankees clubhouse in Yankee Stadium in 1965 as a player for the very first time. I walked in and looked around the room. I saw Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Elston Howard and Roger Maris. When I was a kid in Little League, I was watching these players. I had their baseball cards. And now, here I was, one of them. I was a big leaguer. I was a New York Yankee.
I remember Tom Tresh, who had been the American League Rookie of the Year in 1962, coming over to me and stating that he was glad that I was part of the team. Phil Linz and then other players did so too. These weren’t just any baseball players; these were the New York Yankees. The great New York Yankees.
Those Yankees had been to the World Series the previous year, and the year before that, and the year before that too. These were the Yankees that had been to the World Series 14 times in the previous 16 years. This wasn’t just a great team… these players were part of the greatest dynasty of all time. And there I was, now part of it.
I was welcomed by these players into their locker room as an equal member of this distinguished squad. I soon got to know all of these players personally. I was a New York Yankee.
What could be greater than that?
Paul Semendinger, Ed.D. wote From Compton to the Bronx with Roy White. It was released to positive reviews on April 11, 2023. Paul's other books include The Least Among Them, Scattering the Ashes, and Impossible is an Illusion. Paul also runs the Yankees site Start Spreading the News and hosts two podcasts on the North East Streaming Sports Network.
‘Little Engine That Could’ Grows Into Huge Locomotive
By Dan Schlossberg
Who could have predicted THIS?
In a division expected to be dominated by power-packed, top-paid teams like the New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, and Boston Red Sox, the Tampa Bay Rays have owned the 2023 season since the Opening Gun on March 30.
The Rays not only won their first 13 games before losing last night but led the majors in home runs as well.
Once considered cream puffs who scratched, clawed, and squeaked to victory with a Small Ball blend of pitching, speed, and defense, all of a sudden these guys can hit too.
The first team of the Wild Card Era to win at least 10 straight at the start, the Rays are only the seventh team to do that since 1901.
The others were the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, 1962 Pittsburgh Pirates, 1966 Cleveland Indians, 1981 Oakland Athletics, 1982 Atlanta Braves and the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers.
The 1982 Braves and the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers shared the all-time record of 13 straight to open a season before the 2023 Rays joined them.
After missing the playoffs last year, the team is on track to again lead the American League in victories, as it did in 2020 and 2021.
They’re doing it by parlaying pitching and power with a schedule of weak opponents — at least until they arrived in Boston earlier this week.
Their lineup has five players with at least eight runs batted in and a pitching staff that yielded 18 runs — earned or unearned — in its first 10 games.
In addition to the 2023 Rays, the only other teams to win at least their first dozen were the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers and 1982 Atlanta Braves, who both started 13-0, the 1884 New York Gothams (12-0) and the 1884 St. Louis Maroons (20-0).
Tampa Bay won 12 in a row before but never at the start of the season. They ran off an even dozen in June 2004.
Even if they weren’t hitting home runs with regularity, their pitching has been unworldly. The Rays ran off three straight shutouts — a franchise first — before the scoreless streak ended Tuesday.
Two of the shutouts, in consecutive games, were by matching 11-0 scores.
Fortunes can change quickly in baseball, however, and the loss of lefty Jeffrey Springs, a starter who has been doing well, will hurt. He learned yesterday he’ll be out at least two months, joining Tyler Glasnow (oblique) on the injured list. But the team will play on ~ it always does.
Hidden from all its glowing early-season stats is the Tampa Bay payroll, which ranks 28th among the 30 clubs. Only the Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics pay their players less than the $74,537,681 payroll of the Rays, according to Spotrac.
The club is also third from last in attendance, or at least finished 2022 in that dubious slot. Tropicana Field is an old ballpark with a fixed dome in a lousy location (St. Pete instead of Tampa), so fans have to traverse a long causeway just to get there.
After an 86-76 record last year, GM Eric Neander jettisoned catcher Mike Zunino; outfielders Kevin Kiermaier, David Peralta and Roman Quinn; and pitchers Corey Kluber, Nick Anderson, Brooks Raley, Ryan Yarbrough, Javy Guerra, Matt Wisler, and Javy Guerra.
But the 2023 team has been riding the arms of Jeffrey Springs, Shane McClanahan, and Drew Rasmussen while waiting for erstwhile ace Tyler Glasnow to regain his former form after Tommy John surgery. Former Phillie Zach Elfin arrived as a free agent. Pete Fairbanks, the closer, has had an easy time.
Brandon Lowe, back from back problems, leads an attack that also includes postseason star Randy Arozarena, Wander Franco, and Yandy Diaz.
Manager Kevin Cash is cashing in so far, flying over a division of heavyweights. Since a win in April is as good as a win in October, the Rays are putting to rest rumors of their demise. This team is good, it is for real, and it is an example of how to succeed in baseball behind a good business plan.
The Rays get more than their money’s worth in every game.
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ covers baseball for forbes.com, Latino Sports, Sports Collectors Digest, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Memories & Dreams, and other outlets. He’s working on his 41st book, a Hank Aaron tribute due next year. Contact Dan via email@example.com.
"I found that every five years a man has to change his Sox."
-- Steve Lyons, traded to the Red Sox after spending five years with the White Sox
As general manager at Cleveland, Frank (Trader) Lane earned his nickname by trading home run king Rocky Colavito to Detroit for batting champion Harvey Kuenn and then sending manager Joe Gordon to the Tigers for Detroit pilot Jimmie Dykes . . .
Lane also traded Roger Maris, who later won consecutive MVP awards, and Norm Cash, who won a batting title, among others . . .
In the days before arbitration, free agency, and multi-year contracts, the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees once pulled off a 17-player trade, largest in baseball history . . .
Among those who went from Baltimore to New York were pitchers Bob Turley, who later won a Cy Young Award with the Yankees, and Don Larsen, who had a 3-21 season for the Orioles but pitched the only perfect game in World Series history after donning pinstripes . . .
Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews, who set the record for home runs by teammates (863), were later traded by the Braves — to the Brewers and Astros, respectively . . .
Thanks to trades, both Aaron and Willie Mays finished their careers in the same cities where they started but not with the same franchises (Aaron played for the Milwaukee Braves and Milwaukee Brewers while Mays was with the New York Giants and New York Mets).
Know Your Editors
HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Brian Harl [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.