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Mike Trout’s contract has eight years to go but friends and neighbors in South Jersey are urging the Angels center-fielder to get his no-trade clause waived so he can come home to Philadelphia . . .
The off-season acquisitions of Daulton Varsho and Kevin Kiermaier gives Toronto one of the game’s best outfields — even with Teoscar Hernandez traded to Seattle . . .
Will Wagner, son of future Hall of Famer Billy Wagner, plays third base in the Astros system . . .
With starting pitchers Kyle Wright, Ian Anderson, and Mike Soroka all unlikely to start this season on the Atlanta varsity, the Braves are considering carrying rookies Jared Shuster and Dylan Dodd, both impressive this spring . . .
In Ronald Acuña, Jr., Matt Olson, and Austin Riley, Atlanta is the only team to have three players at the top of the lineup who have tallied 38 or more homers in at least one season since the start of the 2019 campaign . . .
Aroldis Chapman’s Kansas City contract could rise to $8.75 million if he meets several performance factors, including games finished . . .
Key San Francisco starters Alex Wood and Anthony DeSclafani combined for a bloated 5.29 ERA last year in 31 starts . . .
If the White Sox avoid injuries, they’ll make noise in the AL Central; Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Luis Robert, and Eloy Jimenez missed a combined 283 games in 2022.
Joe DiMaggio Was Greater Than His Numbers
By Paul Semendinger
I became a baseball fan in the late 1970s. At that time there were certain truths about baseball that almost everyone subscribed to. These were facts that were accepted by all. As I learned about the game and its history, these were the conventional truths. Among these was the idea that Lou Gehrig's 2,130 consecutive games played streak would never be broken. "They just don't make players like Gehrig any longer. No one will eclipse that record."
Another conventional truth at that time was that the three greatest Yankees ever were Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Joe DiMaggio. I don't think there was any debate about that. Those were the big three.
I can almost remember the first time I saw an article that surmised Mickey Mantle was a better player than DiMaggio. When I first read that, I paused, and laughed. "Mantle was great," I thought, "but better than DiMaggio?" No way...
Today, the conventional thinking is that Mantle was the more valuable player. DiMaggio batted .325 for his career, Mantle only batted .298. Back when batting average meant a lot more, that fact alone ended the debate.
But then WAR came along and it told a different story. Mickey Mantle's lifetime bWAR (110.2) is light years better than Joe DiMaggio's (79.2).
With WAR, Joe DiMaggio's accomplishments seems somewhat lessened.
In addition, Joe DiMaggio did not have the greatest lifetime counting statistics, as his career lasted only 13 seasons. Of course, he spent the 1943, 1944, and 1945 seasons in militray service which took away three of his prime years.
For his career, Joe DiMaggio didn't have 3,000 hits. He didn't even have 2,500 hits. He didn't hit 500 home runs. He didn't even hit 400 home runs.
Still, as a player, and as a legend, he was among the greatest ever.
There are certain names that say it all.
Joe DiMaggio is one of them.
Joe DiMaggio was a player who captured the imagination of baseball fans and ever since has been one of the biggest legends of the sport.
He might not have attained some of the sports most iconic numbers, but he is, most assuredly, the baseball player referenced the most in song.
All of the following are songs that reference Joe DiMaggio.
Captian Crash and the Beauty Queen from Mars
Talkin' Baseball (Yankees Version)
Where Have All Our Heroes Gone
I don't believe any other baseball player, or sports legend, had as many superstars in the music industry sing his name. Among the legends to sing about Joe D were Simon and Garfunkel, Les Brown, Madonna, Billy Joel, John Fogerty, Jennifer Lopez, and Bon Jovi. That's a pretty impressive all-star team of music icons.
And, of course, Ernest Hemingway referenced DiMaggio in The Old Man and the Sea. Gay Talese and Joyce Carol Oates also based characters in stories they wrote on Joe DiMaggio.
This was Joe DiMaggio - a baseball player that was bigger than his stats, bigger, in some senses than the game.
Joe DiMaggio played 13 seasons. He was an All-Star 13 times. Joe DiMaggio's Yankees went to 10 World Series in his 13 seasons. The Yankees won nine of those series. (Imagine a 9-1 World Series record!)
And, of course, Joe DiMaggio still holds one of baseball's most iconic and seemingly unbreakable records, his 56 game hitting streak. Sometimes conventional widsom holds true.
He was larger than the numbers.
He was greatness personified.
This was the great Joe DiMaggio.
Dr. Paul Semendinger's latest book, his collaboration with Yankees great Roy White on his autobiography From Compton to the Bronx will be released on April 11. Paul also wrote The Least Among Them, Scattering the Ashes, and Impossible is an Illusion. Paul is a retired principal but he still plays baseball. Contact him via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fifty+ Years Of Personal Baseball Highlights I Could Never Forget
By Dan Schlossberg
My colleague, friend, and fellow author Marty Appel is out with a book detailing his half-century inside the clubhouse, dugout, and press box of the New York Yankees.
Called Pinstripes by the Tale and published by Triumph, the well-crafted hardcover consists of anecdotes from the author’s career as publicist, confidante, and chronicler of all things Yankees. He is best-known for Pinstripe Empire but there are two-dozen other books bearing the Appel byline.
I’ve known and respected Marty for more than 50 years — a fact that made me think about mentioning some of my most memorable moments (many of them off the beaten track). Here are a few:
Stopping an interview with Hank Aaron in the Braves clubhouse because Georgia governor Jimmy Carter stopped by to wish him well. The next day, after the peanut farmer announced he was running for president, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a headline that said, “Jimmy Carter is running for WHAT?”
Witnessing an argument between Aaron and Satchel Paige over 75 cents. The Braves had signed Paige so that he could get the days needed to qualify for a major-league pension.
Meeting Gennifer Flowers, made famous by Bill Clinton, at a piano bar in New Orleans during the Baseball Winter Meetings many years ago.
Getting a signed thank-you note from Ted Turner, then owner of the Braves, after interviewing him for a magazine article.
Also getting a signed thank-you note from Bill Veeck, another maverick owner whose entry to Cooperstown came too late for him to enjoy it (what a speech he would have given).
Having Steve Garvey thank me for interviewing him; I said I should be thanking him but he said “You did your homework” in preparing for the interview.
Asking a player on the Washington Senators whether temperamental manager Ted Williams would come out of the dugout to pose for a picture, getting a “Take your chances” answer, and finally taking a photo that still hangs on my office wall.
Enjoying the company of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, Roger Craig, Pepper Paire-Davis, Carl Erskine, Bob Feller, Ernie Harwell, Monte Irvin, Ferguson Jenkins, Jim Kaat, Jay Johnstone, Clem Labine, Eddie Mathews, Stan Musial, Fritz Peterson, Brooks Robinson, Red Schoendienst, Art Shamsky, Enos Slaughter, Jeff Torborg, Billy Williams, and even Johnny (Double No-Hit) Vander Meer on baseball theme cruises I created, coordinated, and hosted since 1981.
Beating Brooks Robinson in ping-pong, 23-21, on a rocking ship as it passed the coast of Cape Hatteras, NC. The ball took some very strange bounces.
Helping Stan Musial fly a kite on a moving steamboat.
Arranging and receiving an exclusive one-on-one interview with Cal Ripken, Jr. for 45 minutes in the otherwise-empty visitors clubhouse at West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium after I promised in advance not to ask about The Streak.
Interviewing Bobby Bragan, manager of the Milwaukee Braves, at Shea Stadium on May 9, 1965 — three days after my 17th birthday.
Appreciating Dusty Baker always providing a warm greeting and telling everyone in sight that I wrote the first article about him — even though he never lived up to my billing him as “the next Hank Aaron.”
Signing books I wrote — and signing contracts for future books.
Ignoring the cold and wet conditions at Atlanta’s Truist Park while celebrating the 2021 Braves world championship win over the Houston Astros in person.
Interviewing John Smoltz on a live BRAVES BANTER podcast while he was in the middle of a golf tournament; he would leave to take a shot and then return.
Having the Hall of Fame display my posed photo of Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews, taken in West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium one month before Hank broke Babe Ruth’s record of April 8, 1974.
“Doing an inning” with Milo Hamilton during an Astros-Dodgers exhibition game and having a friend in Los Angeles hear it by accident and tell me about it.
Toiling with Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo to produce autobiographies I was proud to co-author and getting to spend considerable quality time with all three.
Beating Suzie Torborg, Jeff’s wife, in SCRABBLE, a word-game I love.
Knowing Ernie Harwell, one of the finest gentlemen I ever met in the game.
Serving as “seeing-eye person” for Ed Lucas, a blind sportswriter who was tough to stump in baseball trivia and loved laughter and one-liners better than most.
Receiving media credentials to cover the World Series, winter meetings, spring training, All-Star Game, the Hall of Fame inductions, and regular-season games.
Writing anything about baseball, especially during the winter. There’s never an off-season for America’s national pastime.
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ is the author of 40 baseball books, including this year’s Baseball’s Memorable Misses (Sports Publishing). The Syracuse University graduate now covers the game for forbes.com, Latino Sports, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Sports Collectors Digest, Memories & Dreams, and other outlets. E.mail him at email@example.com.
Walter Johnson pitched 369 2/3 innings without yielding a home run during the 1916 season . . .
The Yankees won seven of the ten World Series in which Babe Ruth played for them . .
With 22 division titles, the Atlanta Braves lead the major leagues, two up on the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers . . .
The players went 6-13 in arbitration this year, their worst record in a “normal” year since 2012, when they were 2-5 against the clubs . . .
Derek Jeter never won an MVP award but finished second once and third twice . . .
Fellow Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews didn’t win either — even in years when he led the majors in home runs (1953 and 1959) . . .
And how about Mel Ott? He won six home run crowns — two of them in championship seasons — but never took home the MVP hardware . . .
Other non-winners: Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, Eddie Murray, David (Big Papi) Ortiz, Mike Piazza, Duke Snider, and Dave Winfield.
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.
Thank you for your outstanding writing! That is a GREAT Walter Johnson stat, he was DOMINANT🙂👍⚾️