“Better Never then Late”- My recollection of Dan Devine

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My Baby…My Labor of Love

This writer played Football at the University of Missouri from 1969 through 1972. Two of those seasons were under Dan Devine in 1969 and 1970. He was a tough coach but you didn’t mind too much because he won a lot more games then he lost. In addition to being a great Coach he also was a great recruiter.

The 1st time this writer met Coach Devine was on a campus visit the Football Coaches set up. The Ozark jet touched down at Columbia’s new Regional Airport in late fall,1968. This was my Senior year in high school and the biggest thrill in this young man’s life.

Three of the Coaching Staff met me at the airport and took this totally awed 18 year old Independence, Mo. kid to Coach Devine’s house! They took me into his house and introduced me to Coach and Mrs. Devine.

For the next hour or so Coach Devine and I played “foosball”. Being understandingly afraid to beat him; he let know that I wasn’t playing my hardest and to play harder. Even playing my best, he was the better “foosball” player.

After about 45 minutes of talking Football and playing “foosball,” Mrs. Devine brought some lemonade for us to drink. Then things got serious with Coach. He told me he really wanted me to play at Missouri and that we’d go to some Bowel Games during my career. He had this young man totally committed to Mizzou that afternoon in Columbia, Missouri.

The rest of the recruiting season was tough because I kept telling other Coaches “No” I was committed to Missouri, but it didn’t stop them from calling back and asking for me to visit their school’s campus. I must have turned down 25 or 30 schools.

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Fast forward to my Freshman season at Missouri. The first thing the Freshman Coaching Staff told us was NEVER talk to Coach Devine unless he talked to you first! And they were right! Coach Devine didn’t remember our names even. We couldn’t play Varsity our Freshman year so we weren’t of any use to him.

I remember his first team meeting. The Freshman Coaches told us to be 15 minutes early and in our chairs with pencil out and notebook open. In walked Coach at “exactly” the appointed time and the meeting began. The first thing he said was: “It was better Never then Late” when coming to a meeting. Those coming late were met at the door by other Coaches and not allowed into the meeting. The penalty…running the Football Stadium’s steps.

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Coach Devine was strict, but he also had the winningest program in the nation during the decade of the 1960′s. My Freshman year, 1969, we went to the Orange Bowel but got beat by Joe Paterno and Penn State.

Coach Devine left Missouri in 1970 to become the Head Coach at Green Bay in the NFL. Pro Football wasn’t kind to Coach Devine. He lasted a few years and was fired. He tried to replace an icon in Vince Lombardy and couldn’t do it.

From Green Bay he went Notre Dame. Replacing another icon in Ara Parsegian. This time he won a National Championship with a young man named Joe Montana.

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Dan_Devine_1965.jpg (297×391)

Coach Devine was probably better known as the nemises to Rudy in the movie “Rudy”. I guarantee you Coach Devine would have kept the players jerseys when they laid them on his desk. Those players giveing their jersey to Coach Devine so Rudy could play would have been kicked off the team or suspended.

This writer was so young and impressionable when he first met Dan Devine. Now as an old man he can look back and see that he was a part of a magical time at Mizzou, and Coached by one of the greatest college coaches of all time.

Written with love and respect

Mr. BallCard

Owner of CheapBallCards.com

 

I loved the Kansas City Athletics

My Baby...My Labor of Love

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Although they never finished higher then 7th place in the American League, I never cared.The A’s were my heroes. I was 5 years old when they came to Kansas City in 1955.  Jerry Lumpe and Norm Siebern were my favorites. Oh, and my neighbor – Harry Chiti.

My Grandfather and Grandmother would visit us every other year. They were from New York. My Dad would always have them come visit when the Yanks were in town. From 1959 to about 1964 I got to go to Yankee vs A’s double headers once every two years.

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I always rooted for the A’s and my grandfather always rooted for the Yankees. I would tell him on the way to the game that the Athletics were going to sweep the double header. He would just laugh and tell me the A’s didn’t have a chance.

He was right of course. The games were usually one sided. At the time it killed me to loose to the hated Yankees. However I was watching baseball history when the Bronx Bombers came to town.

One of my all time favorites A's player

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I saw Yogi Berra and Elston Howard hit shots into Sam’s Parking Lot in left center field. I saw Mantle and Maris hit shots onto Brooklyn Ave. in right field. Old Municipal Stadium had a lot of character. Except when you were seated behind a support beam and couldn’t see the game very well. There were a lot of “blind seats” in old Municipal Stadium. Usually an Usher would move you to another seat because sell outs were rare. Except when the Yankees came to town.

 

I saw Whitey Ford and “Bullet Bob” Turley pitch. I saw Elston Howard and Yogi catch behind the plate. Bill (Moose) Skowron usually played first. Tony Kubec and Tom Tresh and Bob Cerv were usually in the lineup too. The old professor was in the dugout running everything. Casey Stengle was a very shrewd Coach.

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One of my Heroes Jerry Lumpe

With all these stars I still was a fan of the A’s. They were my guys – win or loose. And my neighbor down the street, Harry Chiti caught some of these games!

Old Municipal had an electronic rabbit (Harvey) that came up out of the ground behind the umpire. It held new game balls. It was really cool to watch Harvey pop up when the Ump needed a new game ball. The Ump would step on a button & up popped Harvey!

After the game my father, grandfather and myself would go to my dad’s favorite watering hole. They sold beer by the schooner. It was the biggest glass of beer I ever saw. And the glass was in a freezer so it was all icy. Perfect for two grown men who sat for 6 hours in the sun to watch two baseball games.

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We would talk about the game. My grandfather was really knowledgeable about the Yankees. I, not realizing I had just watched some of the greatest ball players of all time, would defend my A’s. Truth was; we were Minor League compared to the Yankees.

My father and grandparents have long passed away. But those golden, magical moments at old Municipal will be indelibly marked into my memory.

Mr. BallCard – With Love & Respect April 11, 2012

My Heroes have never been Cowboys – they were Chiefs

My Baby...My Labor of Love

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I grew up in greater Kansas City. Actually in Independence, Missouri. Like everyone, we were “starving” for a winner. Lord knows we didn’t find victory too often with the Kansas City Athletics. They never finished higher then 7th place in the American League!

Then the Chiefs entered the scene in 1963. From the beginning you could tell they were pretty good. I was a young boy of twelve and I followed them religiously. To this day their names role of my tongue with the same reverence as if it’s still 1963.

Names like: * Lenny “the cool” Dawson  * Curtis McClinton  * Bert Coen   * Bobby Bell  *Smokey Stover  *Buck Buchannon  * Otis Taylor

Lenny "the Cool" Dawson

After Super Bowel 1 Vince Lombardy made a statement to the Press. In it he stated the Chiefs were no better then a second division NFL Team. That is…the Chiefs were no better then 5th or 6th or 7th or 8th… in the 8 team NFL.

The Chiefs talked about that statement in the Press. It bothered them. And they were going to do something about it. Usher in 1969. Every piece of the talent puzzle was in place. The Chiefs went through a meat grinder of a season and either by luck or the grace of God they earned the right to play the great Minnesota Vikings.

Leading up to Super Bowel 4 the NFL biased press released an untrue story about Len Dawson. They claimed he was associated with gamblers that fixed sporting events including football. Lenny was heartbroken that he was being portrayed as “dirty”. The story was rebutted and the press backed off. To this day I think this whole story was an attempt to sidetrack the Chiefs by attacking and immobilizing their leader.

I don’t know how Dawson did it but on game day, Super Bowel 4, there wasn’t a hint of preoccupation about gambling accusations. Len Dawson and the Chiefs were ready to make history. And Boy did they!

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The Chiefs defense was remarkable that day. And the “Purple People Eaters” Viking’s Defense was pretty darn good too. I don’t think I was able to take a deep breath until the 4th quarter.

In that quarter Otis Taylor ran a short 12 yard hook & go. The Viking “D” Back missed the tackle and Taylor ran down the right sideline for the go ahead score. The Chiefs never looked back. The Chiefs defense took over. Poor Joe Kapp, the Vikings QB! He got so beat up in that game!

This game was an historical one. This was the 2nd Super Bowl in a row the NFL lost. Parity had been established in the AFL. The American Football League had become the equal of the NFL.

To this day I’m an AFL man. If an established NFL team is playing an old AFL team I root for the AFL team. My allegiance is “still” with that group of ragged underdogs.

Caught the winning Touchdown -Super Bowl 4

David took on Goliath…and kicked his butt again!!

To this day I love my Chiefs. I followed and rooted for them when they were terrible in the 80′s and early 90′s. Except for one stupid move by GM Carl Peterson the Chiefs might have been in another Super Bowl.

Nick Lowrey for Linn Elliot? Come on Carl what were you thinking?

Oh…and maybe taking Todd Blackledge instead of Dan Marino or Jim Kelly in 1983!!

Mr. BallCard…with Love and Respect April 10, 2012

Harry Chiti was my Friend and Neighbor

My Baby…My Labor of Love

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Harry Chiti was only a journeyman catcher. His statistics were unremarkable. He was big, slow and a .240 hitter. But I loved him!

He was my neighbor in Independence Mo. We both lived on North Hocker.

One day in 1959 Harry got the word out to the neighborhood kids that he was giving away autographed baseballs. I remember my 7 year old future brother in law knocking on my door and breathlessly telling me about Harry signing autographs. We quickly hopped on our bikes and road down the hill to Harry’s house. A ride of about 12 houses.

Sure enough, there was Harry sitting on the front porch of his house surrounded by kids. My 5 year old future wife was right next to him anxiously awaiting her turn for a signed baseball. I quickly inserted myself at the front of the line. Harry told everyone not to worry. He had enough baseballs to go around. When it was finally my turn Harry gave me the most beautiful sight my eyes ever beheld. A signed Major League Baseball.

Unknown to anyone there was a photographer from the Independence Examiner Newspaper taking pictures. A couple of days later my 5 year old future wife, my 7 year old future brother in law, and 9 year old me – made the sports page of the Examiner.

I still have that baseball and somewhere in my house is that newspaper clipping. I just saw it a couple of years ago.But the story doesn’t end here.

A few days later I put my ball glove on and walked down to Harry’s house and knocked on his door. His wife opened the door and gave me the nicest smile. I asked if Harry could come out and play catch. She said she didn’t know but would ask him. Much to my surprise…out came Harry with his catchers mitt and a baseball.

We started playing catch. I was in heaven. I was playing catch with a professional baseball player! Then I started showing off by trying to throw curve balls.Harry told me to quit showing off because he was tired of running after my throws.

This was my friend Harry that summer of 1959

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Harry played catch maybe 5 minutes and politely ended our catch. Harry played catch with me probably a half dozen times that summer. Some days he would let me sit with him on his front porch waiting for A’s pitcher Dick Hall to pick him up for the game that night. Dick would pick him up in a light blue Ford Falcon. I would wave at both when they left.

When Harry was traded, Dick Hall bought his house. I would go down to Dick’s house and ask him to play catch. But he would tell me to go home; he didn’t have time to play catch with kids. I quit asking after a while.

Before Harry moved  my father took me to old Municipal Stadium and we watched the A’s play. Harry was the starting catcher. I used to tell Harry that he was better then Haywood Sullivan, the Athletics other catcher. I even saw Harry get a hit.
It was a shot to the outfield that should have been a double. Harry turned it into a single. I didn’t care. My friend got a hit.

Harry went to my church – St.Mary’s Catholic Church in Independence.The first time I saw him in church I almost jumped over the balcony wall to go say hi! My dad had to hold me back. I got in trouble for that.

I lost track of Harry when he moved. I grew up and he became a fond memory. Now, as an old man 52 years later, I often think about that special man. He gave me his most precious gift…his time!

Harry in 1962. He looks so much older then his 1959 Card

He influenced me to become a catcher myself. I was a pretty good one too. I started a few games for the University of Missouri behind the plate. I played for the “old man” Coach John “Hi” Simmons. I even had a tryout with the Pittsburgh Pirates after high school.

As an old man today I can’t help but think what a rare good man I had for a friend. Harry Chiti will always be my favorite ball player of all time.

Mr. BallCard with love and respect April 10, 2012

A twelve year old boy remembers the 1963 Chiefs

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Kansas City, Missouri is home to the Kansas City Chiefs. The stadium they now play in is called Arrowhead. It holds over 79,000 seats and is the place to be during the fall in Kansas City. However, it wasn’t always like this.  Let’s go back in time and look at the humble beginnings of the Chiefs..

The Kansas City Chiefs in the beginning were known as the Dallas Texans. They were part of an “upstart” league known as  the American Football League or AFL for short.

Times were tough and some of the Owners were going broke.Owners Lamar Hunt and Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders knew they had to do something. They got the Owners together and decided to make the game “more fun” for the fans. There were crazy promotions which gave away prizes; but the best decisions the Owners made was to open up the game and throw the ball more.

Compared to an NFL game the pass happy AFL game looked like a three ring circus. The fans loved this new version of football. The NFL saw the increasing number of fans attending AFL games and decided to do something.

The NFL fought back by putting a new team in Dallas in 1960. The NFL was pretty sure the AFL Texans wouldn’t be able to survive the competition. The Dallas Cowboys were born. They ran Lamar Hunt and the Dallas Texans out of town in 3 years. 1962 was their last year as the Texans. The Texans were also the AFL Champions in 1962 and had the AFL rushing leader in Abner Haynes.

This writer remembers like it was yesterday when word reached Kansas City. We were  getting a professional football team!

That winter the Kansas City Star newspaper ran a promotion…name the new football team! You can rest assured  that I entered that promotion. And was I ever disappointed when my name wasn’t the winner!

Someone had suggested “the Chiefs” which I thought wasn’t near as cool as my name. Which by the way was the “Thunderbirds”. My older brother was in a band and their name was the Thunderbirds.

Later on I heard a rumor that the Chiefs were named after Kansas City Mayor, H. Roe Bartle. His nickname was “chief” and he was a very powerful ally to have on your side.

Chiefs vs. Chargers regular season game (not the preseason game in this Blog)

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Lamar Hunt liked the name and the Texans were now the Chiefs. That winter the Chiefs Players played basketball games all over greater Kansas City against anyone who wanted to play them. A lot of service groups made good money from the gate receipts of these games. I even went to one in Independence. After the game the Chiefs signed autographs until everyone had an autograph. I still have those autographs today.

All spring and summer Kansas City was anxious to see their new team play. A local Super Market named Milgrams sold tickets for $1 if you bought $5 of their food. Owner Les Milgram was one of the 1st big corporate sponsors the Chiefs had.

Old Municipal Stadium - Home of the Kansas City Chiefs & Athletics - Brooklyn Ave. entrance

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The Chiefs played in old Municipal Stadium where the Kansas City Athletics played. The first preseason game was against the San Diego Charges. My family and I had seats behind the 1st base dugout. When the Chargers came out of the dugout my father’s jaw dropped when he saw Ernie Ladd. My dad said he was as big as two men.

The Chiefs lost the coin flip for their very 1st game in Kansas City. Everyone was on their feat screaming when San Diego kicked off. I remember this kickoff like it was yesterday. Abner Haynes took the kickoff on the one foot line…backed up into the end zone…and took a knee! Yep!! On the Chiefs very 1st play as Chiefs they got a Safety. 2 points for the Chargers.

I can’t remember the final score but I think the Chiefs won. I was twelve years old when that game was played. 49 years later I’m writing about it.

The Chiefs became a successful franchise over the years.  With Hank Stram they had one of the most creative Head Coaches in all of football including the NFL.They have made the playoffs 14 times.  In 1967, the Kansas City Chiefs played the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl 1. The Chiefs were beaten 35-10 and became part of history.

As an old Chiefs Fan I have to interject a factoid here! The Chiefs top draft choice in 1965 was Gale Sayers. It would have been a perfect fit. “KU boy does good in KC”! Gale Sayers could have been in the Chief’s backfield in 1966. I’ve never forgiven Pappa Bear – George Halas!

Once again in 1970 the Chiefs reached the Super Bowl. In Super Bowl 4 they “rocked” the football world and beat the Minnesota Vikings.  That was the last time the Kansas City Chiefs have been to the Super Bowl.

The Chiefs have had many great players on their roster.  Here are a few of the many great players to play in a Kansas City uniform. All are Hall of Famers.

*  Len Dawson  * Joe Montana  *  Marcus Allen  *  Willie Lanier  * Buck Buchanan

* Bobby Bell  * Jan Stenerud  *  Hank Stram  *  Mike Webster

Throughout the Chiefs history they’ve had their tragedies:

* Mack Lee Hill, a great running back died on the operating table during knee surgery. He was so terrified of hospitals that he died from a heart attack.

* Joe Delaney, another great running back jumped into a pool of water to save some kids. Joe couldn’t swim and drowned.

* Derrick Thomas liked fast cars. On his way to the airport the weather was snowy and icy. He was in a hurry and flipped his car many times. He died shortly after the accident.

The Chiefs moved to Arrowhead Stadium in 1972. Old Municipal Stadium, that held 28,000 fans, became a Parking Lot. Opposing players agree that Arrowhead is one of the toughest stadiums in the NFL to play in.The noise created by the fans is equal to a jumbo jet taking off. And the Chiefs have no equals in the NFL when it comes to Tailgate Partying!

Game time is a “sea” of red jerseys. It’s a beautiful site to behold!

Mr. BallCard – with love and respect – April 8, 2012

A 14 year old boy remembers Satchell Paige

1948 Leaf/Bowman Rookie Card1953 Topps Rookie Card - Arguably the Greatest Pitcher who ever lived!

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As you get older you should  “Never Look Back”

But it’s hard not to!

Many years ago – nearly 47 — I heard some rules of wisdom  by the legendary African-American baseball player Leroy Paige…

He was known as “Satchell” – a nickname he got as a young boy carrying luggage for nickels at the Mobile, Ala., train station. He could carry so much luggage he was called “the satchel tree”.

I never had the pleasure of seeing this superstar when he earned a living barnstorming the country with other great legends from the old Negro League.

At that time, I was just a “gleam” in my daddy’s eyes.

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There are few of us old baseball fans around to pass on the exploits of Satchell Paige; who may have been the greatest pitcher of all time. My opinion of Satchell is incomplete because he played the game before blacks were accepted in baseball and because I wasn’t born yet.

* * * * *

There were many “pro” Negro teams in the early days of baseball. African American players were famous in big cities where there was a large enough population of Black players to support a team.

In addition to Paige, there were many great black players that played in his era.

One was Cool Papa Bell. Of whom Satch said was “so fast” that he could turn the light switch off and be in bed before the “lights went off”!

Cool Pappa Bell - 1993 Ted Williams Cards - "So Fast that he could turn the lights off & be in bed before it got dark"

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Another was Josh Gibson. The Black Babe Ruth.

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Josh Gibson - The Black Babe Ruth

 

 

 

1962 Topps Buck O'Neil - Baseball Greatest Emissary - Kansas City's Greatest Treasure

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Perhaps one of Satchell’s greatest contemporaries was Buck O’Neil. Because this writer lived in Kansas City during much of Buck’s life; not enough words are possible to sum up Buck O’Neil. I loved this man. Heck, all of Kansas City loved him. He quite simply was Baseball’s greatest Emissary.

Other Paige contemporaries were Oscar Charleston who often back-flipped to catch a fly ball, Jody Johnson and Pop Lloyd – just to mention a few.

They team names were magical. Today they are spoken with reverence… St. Louis Stars, East St. Louis Cubs, Chicago American Giants, Kansas City Monarchs, Washington Homestead Grays, Birmingham Black Barons and Pittsburgh Crawfords.

These great and talented men made only a fraction of their white counterparts — $60 a month plus food and a place to sleep was typical. Negro League players played a heads-up brand of unorthodox baseball. It was unorthodox because of an “entertainment value” interjected into their game. For example: Satchell Paige would call his outfield in to sit behind him on the mound. Paige would then strike out the side or get them to hit to his infielders!.

A few stars such as Paige and Gibson drew $125 a week.

After the World Series was over, in the off season, white major league players played Negro League Teams in exhibition games. The African-American teams regularly trounced the white stars.

* * * * *

Satchell Paige brought the Kansas City Monarchs to Flint, Michigan one time  to play the leading team in the professional & very competent Industrial League. The Monarchs, with Paige on the mound, walloped the local boys — but with a grace and skill that brought fans to their feet multiple times.

Satch had an fastball that was wicked fast, but also accurate.He could nip the corner of the plate so often, opposing hitters swore it disappeared on its way to the plate.

His curve ball had drop that reduced grown men to cry. It was like a ball falling off a table.

Satchell was a showman and sometimes would pitch an inning while sitting in a rocking chair on the mound, or bring in the outfield to sit behind him while he fanned out the side.

One time Josh Gibson led off the first inning with a single and then harrassed Satchell from 1st base. Perturbed, Satchell directed his teammates (except the catcher) to go the dugout. Satchell ignored Gibson, who stole 2nd & 3rd base. Without his team on the field, Paige  struck out the next three batters.

Satchell’s greatest pitch was the “hesitation.”He could…in some incredible way…pause in mid delivery…and confuse hitters.

* * * * *

In 1947. Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Forever changing the Negro League. With a lack of superstars the Negro League faded into obscurity.

Satchell was picked up up by Cleveland in 1948. The Indians had signed the oldest rookie ever to play professional baseball. He had a credible 6-1 pitching record with a 2.48 ERA . Satchell’s contribution helped the Indians win the American League pennant.

He saw one inning of action in the 1949 World Series won by the Indians.

Retiring a couple of years later, then coming back for one season with the St. Louis Browns, age had caught up with the great Satchell Paige. He was somewhere in his late forties (or older – no one really knew) – an old man by baseball standards. Page would never tell his age and gave out many different dates for his birthday.

With his youthful speed gone from his fast ball, he relied on curve balls and his famous hesitation pitch.

He did pretty good until Major League Baseball outlawed the hesitation pitch.. Satch was finished. He somehow hung on to play the in the 1952 and 1953 All Star games.

Which brings us full circle …a 14 year old looks back! Twelve years later, at the “ancient” age of 59, Satchel pitched three innings for the Kansas City A’s to become the oldest player to pitch in a major league game.

This writer was in the stands for this game in Kansas City. Satch had a padded rocking chair sitting next to the dugout. He sat in it between innings. It was hilarious. When Satch pitched; his delivery and trajectory was similar to a “slow pitch’ softball pitcher. The ball came to the plate in a huge arch.

I remember the opposing team swinging so hard they fell over at the plate. They would get up, dust themselves off and grumble at Satch. Satch would just smile back.

I remember each inning as he went back out to the mound. I feared for Paige. If a line drive came back up the middle he would surely get hurt.

Somehow he pitched for 3 innings. Most importantly, I got to see the great Satchel Paige play baseball.

Later on I found out that the KC A’s let Satchell play long enough to qualify for his major league pension. He needed 5 years of major league tenure to qualify for a retirement from baseball.

Baseball finally gave back a little of what it had taken away.

Another Honor was given to Satch – the first African-American to be enshrined at Cooperstown  – based on his superb pitching record, not skin color. Satchell Paige  was enshrined in 1971. He died in 1982.

I wonder, often. if he had any regrets the color barrier wasn’t broken earlier in his prime, instead of in his later years.

But…I read the Rules of Wisdom coming from this man and his whimsical manner makes me think that Satch didn’t look back in his life.

A 14 year old looking back could have much worse Rules to live by:
1. Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood.

2. If your stomach disputes with you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.

3. Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you go.

4. Go light on the vices, such as carrying on in society. The social ramble ain’t restful.

5. Avoid running at all times.

6. And, finally, the admonition that made Satchel Paige immortal: Never look back. Something may be gaining on you.

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Mr. BallCard – with much love & respect – April 6, 2012

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Kansas City Royals – George Brett and the Art of Hitting

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Any Royals Fan who followed the Kansas City between 1969 and 1993 feels  great pride at the name of George Brett. He remains the only player in Base Ball’s long and wonderful  history to win a batting title in three different decades one after the other! This rare hitter remained a ‘loyal Royal’ throughout his career, wearing only Royal Blue his entire career.

After his retirement in 1993, George Brett stated that he was leaving the game simply because he felt the game deserved a more motivated Rookie to take his place. Brett said that he had reached the stage where he could easily have played another season, but would have been motivated more by money than by love of the game. His
love and respect for the game of baseball went that deep, and every fan knew it.

When Brett entered the League:

Drafted by the Royals in 1971, Brett was selected 29th, his promise at the time giving no indication of the amazing talent that would soon develop. Although barely competent with a glove at third base, his first couple of seasons with the team demonstrated some weaknesses in his ability to attack the ball at the plate. Veteran pitchers were able to
identify his hitting weaknesses and consistently beat him due to his poor batting stance and lack of balance.. However, when the famous batting coach Charlie Lau pointed out Brett’s hitting problems in 1974, he began to work with Lau to
overcome this initial difficulty. Brett took Lau’s words to heart as “gospel”, and improved quickly, due to his willingness to want to be the greatest hitter of his era. The results were remarkable; his average rose the next season  to over.300, and then to.333 the next season after that. Brett’s hard work earned him the batting title in 1976. Brett’s dogged determination as a hitter and fielder over the next few years helped his team in winning the division title for three consecutive years.

George Brett Rookie Card

See anything familiar in their batting stances?

 

 

 

 

 

Brett’s soaring performance continued; his batting average after the ’80 season was .390. Brett flirted with .400 all during the year and a lot of his fans thought he may actually be the next Ted Williams and .400 hitter.

Average hitting performances the next few seasons were disappointing to Brett. George improved his swing once again to get his average back up to reflect his league leading hitting ability. Hitting better then a third of the balls thrown to him, he led the Royals to another division win. During the League Championship the American League saw him perform at a consistently high level, and his average of.370 in the World Series helped the Royals to yet another win.

A career batting average of.305, with great power, hitting 300 home runs, 1500 RBI’S and over 3000 hits, earned Brett a deserving  reputation as the gold standard of third basemen. He deserves the hero worship he still receives from the great fans of the Kansas City Royals.

When Brett was enshrined into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown; the Enshrinement Committee commented that the crowd that came to New York was the largest ever to see an Inductee. Most of them were wearing Royal’s attire with Brett’s #5 on their shirts.

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The early 90′s was a great period in basketball and other sports, with athletes like Michael Jordan, Scotty Pippen and Reggie Miller doing amazing things on the basketball court.
It was always young kids, of course, who would decide these cards were valuable.
A Michael Jordan card would be worth far more than a Luc Longley, for example.The companies that created these cards saw a great deal of profit in this time.

The most popular, however, were those from the Upper Deck brand.
The question is often asked: Why do kids place so much value on these little things? At first, it seems like a reasonable question.
It is only the fact that many different people agree on a card being valuable or not valuable that creates any value.
When one person says a piece of cardboard is worth a lot, he is delusional.

Michael Jordan – Hoops

Now, this all seems to be a strange thing to think of as true, yet consider this: What is money? Do the materials of money have any actual value? Of course not, greenbacks are worth something simply because everyone agrees that they are worth something.
Basketball cards have these days become highly unfashionable among youngsters.
It is easy for us to look at them and think of how silly they are, but were we really any better? Now here is a scary thought: When these kids are our age, what will their kids play with?

Remembering Tiger Stadium

 

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It’s all about the feeling of this great old ballpark.
Sure, we could do the name and date thing, but let’s focus on what that old ballpark was REALLY like- its atmosphere and feeling.
Named after Detroit’s most popular player, a catcher named Charlie Bennett.
The Tigers enjoyed a lot of success at old Bennett Park.
The arrival of Ty Cobb in 1905.
No wonder Frank Navin decided he had to do something by 1911.
April 12, 1912, three days before the Titanic sunk in the North Atlantic Bennet Park was built.
The stadium that Navin put up in ’12 didn’t look much like the one we remember, the one that still stands.
At the beginning it seated only 23,000 while Tiger Stadium eventually held well over 53,000 for baseball and had a look and feel all its own.
Like how the upper deck hung over the lower deck by about 10 feet.
probably not as many as we think, since the angle would have to be just right, but it’s still fun to think about!

- Maybe the best seats in the joint were upper deck between home and the bases.
Those upper deck bleachers, they got a little rowdy.
And how those seats had eroded before they were replaced in the late ’70s!
Remember the walls in behind the lower deck made of that tan/yellow tile especially down the 1st base line by the commissary?
Remember how crowded it was behind home plate with beer and souvenir stands?
Kaline thought so too, the first time he saw it as an 18 year old pheeenom in ’53.
Within a few years, left field was also doubledecked and the place could hold over 50,000. No one is ever gonna write any love stories about THAT place.

 

 

Remember that Upper Deck?

Entering through the main gate in right field.
If you were sitting in the upper deck, you could look down on it as you walked up the long ramps to the first base side.

Detroit Lion’s Barry Sanders

The spring place across the street with the slogan “Limp in, leap out!”

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t the top of the ramp, looking through all the steel gridwork, catching just a glimpse of the green below and rushing out
and seeing that field, greener than possible, the old time feel, the scoreboard -
and the feeling of 80, 90, 100 years of Tiger Stadium History, because you HAD to get there when the gates opened!

All those home runs
and how spectacular it was when it DID happen.
Norm Cash hit more out than anyone!

Tiger Stadium was the last ballpark in the American League to get lights- 1948.
Reggie Jackson hit one of them in the 1971 All Star game.
When John Fetzer took control, he changed the name to the enduring “Tiger Stadium” in 1961.
And renovated the exterior and replaced all those green seats in the late ’70s with the blue and orange ones – and painted the inside of the park blue, although many still think of it as green.
Very crude by today’s standards, but was pretty cool back then.
the last significant structural change in Tiger Stadium History.
But the rest of the ’90s were uneventful- well Cecil Fielder hit a bunch of home runs.
Bo Schembechler had made his famous “rusty girder” speech in the Tom Monaghan era and it was pretty apparent that the old ballpark’s days were numbered.
Not a whole lot was being spent on upkeep.
Let’s hope Comerica Park will add to the list of memories and championships that Tiger Stadium started.

 

Different Companies That Currently Issue Baseball Cards

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Old Judge and Gypsy Queen cigarettes were the first companies to introduce ball cards inside their products.
The Old Judge baseball cards were issued between 1886 and 1890 with over two thousand different cards actually being issued.
Determining the value of your baseball cards can be determined by using one of the two popular pricing guides, which are Beckett and Tuff Stuff.
The Beckett pricing guide is the most commonly used guide, so prices are determined by using Becket.

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Currently, they are both offered on-line, which can be subscribed to for a monthly fee.
Topps dominated the baseball card industry until they lost a lawsuit in 1980, then Fleer and Donruss started producing their own baseball cards.
Today other companies are producing baseball cards such as Score, Upper Deck, and Pacific which has led to a high quality of sport cards.

 Topps Roberto Clemente

Older baseball cards tend to be expensive due to them being so rare, however most collectors tend to collect newer cards, which can be purchased in packs at any convenient market or sports collectible shop.
There are many companies that release complete sets. The two major baseball card manufactures were Topps and Upper Deck.
Compete base sets are not very expensive and they are very popular with collectors who enjoy collecting their baseball cards in sets.
There are some collectors who will only collect cards manufactured by Topps, which may include premium sets like Topps Finest and Bowman Chrome.