Top 100 Baseball Blog

Tuesday, July 23, 2019


More interviews with players, writers and other figures throughout baseball history 

I have released my new book, which is another collection of interviews with baseball figures, both past and present. It is available in the following formats: 

I appreciate your support in reading this, providing reviews and feedback. Thank you!

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

I have also authored a number of books (eBook and paperback) on topics of baseball that are available on Amazon.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Jim Woods: The High School Student Who Was a Major League Baseball Player

Third baseman Jim Woods was a coveted prospect, who first played in the major leagues before he had even turned 18. Unfortunately, his big-league career consisted of several cups of coffee instead of the stardom some had him pegged for, as injuries cut his aspirations short and he was forced to hang it up when he was just 24. 
In what must have been a dream scenario for him, the Chicago native was signed by the Chicago Cubs in 1957 when he was still in high school. With the team on its way to 92 losses, there was more leeway to be creative with the roster, and the 17-year-old right-handed hitting Woods appeared in two games. Although he did not get to bat, he did score a run in a pinch-running appearance.

The Cubs took a wiser approach and let Woods do some developing in the minor leagues. At 19, in 1959, he hit .287 with 20 home runs and appeared to be a budding star. In the winter before the start of the 1960 season, he was the proverbial prospect in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies that netted Chicago star outfielder Richie Ashburn
Woods appeared in a total of 36 games with Philadelphia over the next two seasons, spending the bulk of his time in the minors. His big-league numbers consisted of a .207 batting average, with three home runs and 12 RBIs. Although a year apart, two of his homers came against Bob Friend of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Over the final few years of his career, Woods battled injuries and finding a permanent home. From 1961-1964 he played in the organizations of the Phillies (twice), the Los Angeles Angels, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds. 
His final season came in Double-A for Cincinnati in 1964. After playing in just 65 games and hitting .206, he retired as a player. 
Keep reading for some of his memories from his baseball career.
Jim Woods Questionnaire:
If you could do anything about your career differently, what would that be?: Nothing. It was what it was to be.
What was the strangest play you ever saw as a player?: We were playing in Louisville against a Bob Uecker team. He struck out and threw his bat over his head in disgust; with two hands, directly over his head.
Who was your favorite coach or manager?: Wow, a lot of great guys, but Chuck Tanner and Red Davis stick out. 
What is your favorite moment from your playing career?: Having respect of all the fans, and just having the chance to play. Not many have that chance. 
My first home run. I have the ball.
Signing with the Cubs, but as a Phillie, playing in Wrigley Field. I am a Chicago boy.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

I have also authored a number of books (eBook and paperback) on topics of baseball that are available on Amazon.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Carl Nichols: Former Catcher Still Continuing His Baseball Dreams

The Baltimore Orioles were one of the most dominant teams in baseball, winning their division five times and playing in three World Series (winning one of them). A good portion of their success was owed to their dogged pursuit of top-flight talent through the major league draft. One player they tabbed to join their dynastic organization was Carl Nichols.

A catcher, Nichols was selected in the fourth round (103rd overall pick) of the 1980 draft out of Compton High School in California. Still months from his 18th birthday, he was sent to Bluefield, West Virginia in the Appalachian League to start his career. Grady Little was his first professional manager.

Initially, Nichols’ calling card was his athleticism and versatility. The right-handed hitter batted .212  in his first season and .250 the next, with just one home run total. However, as he matured, so did his game. By 1986, when he was 23, he hit .269 with 14 home runs and 72 RBIs at Double-A. 

The production earned him his first big-league call up the Orioles. Appearing in five games, he struck out four times and drew a walk in six plate appearances.

Over the next five years, 1987-88 with Baltimore and 1989-1991 with the Houston Astros (acquired in a trade), he bounced back and forth between Triple-A and the majors. His strong glove made him a valuable fill-in behind the plate.

During his six major league seasons, Nichols hit a combined .204 with 18 RBIs in 96 games. He also nailed 41 percent of base runners who attempted to run on him.

After not playing in 1992, he revived his career in 1993 in independent baseball. He played for several teams over the next five years, hitting a combined .291 with 56 home runs and 283 RBIs in 364 games before calling it a playing career following the 1997 season.

Like many others in his profession, he couldn’t just leave the game when he stopped playing. He remains in coaching and helping others realize their baseball aspirations; much like he did on his way to a 17-year professional career. Keep reading for more about his time in baseball.

Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: My favorite players were Johnny Bench of the Cincinnati Reds and Steve Yeager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. They were the two best defensive catchers when I was growing up in LA.

Can you please describe what your draft experience was like, being taken in the 4th round by the Orioles in 1980?: It wasn't much of an experience. There wasn't the big production back then as it is today. I found out I was drafted after coming home from a school picnic. The scout was waiting for me at my house.

What was your mindset to make the majors, but always have veteran stars like Rick Dempsey and Terry Kennedy in front of you?: My mindset was, when am I going to get a chance to play? My mindset should have been work your butt off to be ready for your opportunity. I teach that to the kids I work with today. Nothing is going to be given to you. You have to go work for it and take it.

What do you remember most about your first major league hit against Tom Henke?: I remember it being a game they were blowing us out (Baltimore lost the game 18-3). He hung me an 0-2 forkball that I hit back up the middle for a hit. When I got to first base I remember all the years dating back to even before little league about all the work I put in and all the people helped me on my journey.

Which one pitcher intimidated you more than any other, and why?: The guy who intimidated me, if you want to call it that, was Dale Mohorcic. And it was because he threw sidearm and the white ball would come right out of his white uniform.

What is your favorite moment from your baseball career?: Hard to narrow it down to just one moment. But I guess my favorite would be when I got called up to the big leagues for the first time. A surreal moment.

You experienced a second career in independent ball. How did you enjoy playing at that level?: Independent ball was probably the most fun I had playing professional baseball. There was no pressure. No call ups or demotions to worry about. Just go out and have fun with a bunch of guys who still loved playing the game.

What pitcher that you caught had the nastiest pitch, and what was it?: I guess there are a few guys who could fit that category. Jim Clancy's slider. Darryl Kile's curveball. Dave Smith's curveball. Probably Mike Scott's cutter. That was a tough pitch for guys to hit.

What, if anything, would you have done differently in your baseball career?: I would have learned to switch hit. And I would done more weight training.

What are you up to these days?: Coaching and training kids. Working to promote my home-based business.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

I have also authored a number of books (eBook and paperback) on topics of baseball that are available on Amazon.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Bill Ray Cyrus Supports Pete Rose: The Baseball Historian's Notes for July 14, 2019

With the conclusion of the recent All-Star Game festivities, the major league baseball season has officially reached the other side. It will now be an all-out sprint to the finish line to see who makes it to the playoffs, and of those teams, who has what it takes to advance to the World Series. In the meantime, refresh yourself with another helping of the Baseball Historian’s Notes.

-Former right-handed pitcher Jim Bouton has passed away at the age of 80. A solid hurler, who won 21 games for the 1963 New York Yankees, and had a total of 62 victories in a 10-year career, he gained his greatest fame with his pen. His seminal work was titled Ball Four, which was a tell-all of his experiences as a player. It was the first work to fully draw back the curtain and allow fans to see the often ribald and wild/inappropriate behavior that went on behind the scenes. This insider view was a first of its kind and was a complete departure from the saccharine takes newspaper baseball writers offered (since their livelihood quite literally depended on not embarrassing their subjects). Widely ostracized by his peers after being published, he launched a brief playing comeback in 1978 after eight years away from the mound and honed his career as an accomplished author and speaker.

-Alex Rodriguez retired following the 2016 season as undeniably one of the most talented and most polarizing players to ever step on a baseball diamond. A first-ballot Hall of Fame career was complicated by PED positive tests and a suspension, along with a personality that often seemed to run people, including fellow players, the wrong way. Now that he is on to the next chapter of his life, the former slugger has become a savvy entrepreneur, who is engaged to mega star Jennifer Lopez. Sports Illustrated has profiled the improbable turn he has taken from heel to likeable in the past few years.

-Jerry Remy enjoyed a 10-year playing career as an infielder before going on to become a beloved television announcer for the Boston Red Sox for more than the past 25 years, has released a book titled If These Walls Could Talk. The Rem Dawg tackles difficult topics, such as his bouts with cancer and his son, who is serving a life-sentence in prison for murdering his girlfriend and mother of his child. Co-written with the late great Boston Globe writer, Nick Cafardo, the book has garnered much buzz and promises to be a captivating read.

-All-time hit king Pete Rose, who is currently under permanent banishment from baseball, has gained an unlikely supporter advocating for his inclusion in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Country singer Billy Ray Cyrus recently publicly threw his support behind the push to put Rose in Cooperstown. That would definitely help mend his achy, breaky heart…

-Former player David Segui doesn’t think it’s fair that baseball turns its back on those associated with PEDs, but in his opinion embraces those who test positive for other illicit substances. An outfielder, the switch hitter spent the bulk of his 15-year big league career with the Baltimore Orioles and Montreal Expos, hitting a combined .291 with 139 home runs. He has previously admitted his own PED use as a player but believes he has been held to a different standard since that admission.

-African American former player Jim Wynn hit 291 home runs in a 15-year major league career that spanned 1963-1977 with five teams. Unfortunately, it was less than easy along the way, having to work and succeed in an unfair and often biased climate during the Civil Rights era. The “Toy Cannon” spoke about some of his experiences in the new documentary film, “A Long Way from Home: The Untold Story of Baseball’s Desegregation,” which is detailed in this recent piece in the Dayton Daily News.

-Organists and batter walk-up songs have long been part of big-league baseball. But, where did it all start? Michael Clair from did some checking and has published a very interesting article that outlines the evolution of this musical aspect of the game.

-Former right-handed pitcher Dwight Gooden saw what should have been a generational Hall-of-Fame career hijacked by lingering drug problems. He still managed 194 wins and a 3.51 ERA over 16 seasons, but never achieved all that he was capable of (His 1985 season saw him go 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA) because of ongoing issues with cocaine, which continued after he retired following the 2000 season. Sadly, it was just reported that, now 54, he was just arrested for possession of cocaine during a traffic stop. Here’s hoping he can get his life together.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

I have also authored a number of books (eBook and paperback) on topics of baseball that are available on Amazon.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Minor League Baseball Announces its Top 25 Teams in Licensed Merchandise Sales

Minor League Baseball Announces its Top 25 Teams in Licensed Merchandise Sales 

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., July 8, 2019 — Minor League Baseball today announced its list of Top 25 teams in licensed merchandise sales for 2018, with the combined totals of all 160 teams setting a Minor League Baseball record with more than $73.8 million in retail sales. 

The $73.8 million total marks a 4.2% percent increase over 2017’s total of $70.8 million, which had been the highest total recorded since Minor League Baseball’s Licensing Program began in 1992. The numbers are based on total licensed merchandise sales from Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, 2018, and include the 160 teams that charge admission to their games. 

The Top 25 list includes (alphabetically, with Major League affiliate): Albuquerque Isotopes (Rockies), Charleston RiverDogs (Yankees), Charlotte Knights (White Sox), Columbia Fireflies (Mets), Columbus Clippers (Indians), Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros), Durham Bulls (Rays), El Paso Chihuahuas (Padres), Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres), Gwinnett Stripers (Braves), Hartford Yard Goats (Rockies), Indianapolis Indians (Pirates), Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Marlins), Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies), Nashville Sounds (Rangers), Pawtucket Red Sox, Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox), Richmond Flying Squirrels (Giants), Rochester Red Wings (Twins), Sacramento River Cats (Giants), Salt Lake Bees (Angels), San Antonio Missions (Brewers), Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners), Toledo Mud Hens (Tigers) and Trenton Thunder (Yankees). 

The Charleston RiverDogs, Corpus Christi Hooks, Gwinnett Stripers, Pawtucket Red Sox, Richmond Flying Squirrels and San Antonio Missions are new additions to the 2018 list after a hiatus in 2017, though all 25 teams have made the list at least once before (the Stripers previously made an appearance as the Gwinnett Braves). Durham is the only team to make the list every year since the first ranking was established in 1993. 

Additionally, six teams have made the list every year of their existence, or since the list originated in 1993: Columbia Fireflies (three years), Durham Bulls (26 years), El Paso Chihuahuas (five years), Lehigh Valley IronPigs (12 years), Sacramento River Cats (19 years) and Trenton Thunder (25 years). 

Twenty different Major League organizations were represented by teams on the list, with only the Boston Red Sox, Colorado Rockies, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants placing two affiliates in the Top 25. The Pawtucket Red Sox were the only team to make the list using the nickname of their major league affiliate. 

“Minor League Baseball team names and logos continue to grow in popularity each year. Our teams work hard to promote their brands and solidify MiLB identities in the conversation among the most enjoyed brands in professional sports,” said Brian Earle, Minor League Baseball’s head of licensing and consumer products. “To have their names and logos recognized and admired by fans locally, nationally and, in come cases, globally, speaks to the tremendous amount of effort and attention our teams dedicate to creating, building and promoting their brands.” 

Minor League Baseball’s licensing partners, led by New Era Cap Co., 47 Brand, Bimm Ridder, Majestic/Fanatics, Original Retro Brand, Outdoor Cap and Nike, support its growth and longevity through innovative designs that continue to meet consumer demand. 

“With increased popularity of Minor League Baseball brands and the production and manufacturing of high-quality products, Minor League Baseball can continue to prosper year after year,” said Earle.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

I have also authored a number of books (eBook and paperback) on topics of baseball that are available on Amazon.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

The New York Mets Kill Off Two of Their Former Players: The Baseball Historian's Notes

The Major League Baseball All Star break is almost upon us and so is another edition of the Baseball Historian’s Notes!

-Former star Dmitri Young has a bone to pick with the National Baseball Hall of Fame. From his perspective, it’s a glaring omission that former Detroit Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker has still not been enshrined nearly 25 years after he played his final big league game.  Dmitri recently shared a petition on social media taking up Sweet Lou’s Cooperstown cause. Take a peek and sign it if you agree.

-The former house of legendary pitcher Satchel Paige in Kansas City has fallen into disrepair in recent years; ravaged by fire and neglect. Happily, that should be remedied by a recent $150,000 grant awarded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Now owned by the Kansas City Homesteading Authority, the idea is to restore the once-beautiful home to its former glory and use it to honor the legacy of the Hall-of-Fame hurler, who according to his daughter Linda, entertained everyone from “Count Basie to the Harlem Globetrotters there.”

-July 6th marks the 86th anniversary of former Chicago Cubs infielder Billy Jurges being shot in his hotel room by a spurned girlfriend, Violet Popovich Valli. After receiving information that Jurges was seen with other women, she confronted him in his room. An argument ensued, and she drew a gun. When he grabbed the firearm and attempted to wrestle it away from her she managed to get off several shots, hitting him in the rib, a finger and arm. Surprisingly, the 24-year-old missed less than a month and returned in time to help his team square off in the World Series against the New York Yankees.  He declined to press charges and she walked free, using her newfound notoriety to launch her career as a Chicago showgirl.

-The July 21, 1958 cover of Life Magazine featured the resilient Roy Campanella, recovering from a severe auto accident that left the Brooklyn Dodgers catcher paralyzed. Despite the severity of his injuries, his competitiveness and positive spirit are clearly evident in this photo, which is a tribute to the all-time great.

-In 2003, Lou Piniella, the well-known prickly manager of the Tampa Bay D-Rays, followed through on a wager he made with his teams, dying his hair blonde after they won three consecutive games. As this picture attests, he didn’t necessarily enjoy having to pay up. recently released previously unseen footage of baseball legends of Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb from around 1924. Although brief, it’s an amazing opportunity to see these players up close and personal and think about how they achieved what they did during their remarkable careers.

-The New York Mets celebrated the 50th anniversary of their “Miracle Mets” World Series winning team from 1969. Unfortunately, they made the type of gaffe that has come to be expected of the franchise in recent years, as they struggle to regain the glory of their past. They had a number of the players from the 1969 team at their pre-game ceremony, but erroneously included outfielder Jim Gosger and pitcher Jesse Hudson in their Jumbotron tribute of those who had passed away. The only problem is that both men are still very much alive.

-Something you can file under things you don’t see any more, here is a video of former Toronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston conducting his team in a rendition of “This Land is Your Land.” If you look closely, you can likely identify former players, including Carlos Delgado and Otis Nixon, dressed as various historical characters doing solo vocal work.

-Here is a rundown detailing how all 30 major league teams got their names. Each entry is brief but interesting. Some names were fairly straightforward, while others evolved and changed over time. Definitely worth checking out if you’ve ever wondered about these origins.

-Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana is one of the oldest ballparks in professional baseball, first opening in 1915. Now, more than a century later, it is still being used by the Evansville Otters of the independent Frontier League. Check out this article by Chad Lindskog of the Courier & Press, detailing the history of this wonderful old venue.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

I have also authored a number of books (eBook and paperback) on topics of baseball that are available on Amazon.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Minor League Baseball Announces June Uncle Ray’s Players of the Month

Ten organizations represented by June winners 

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., July 3, 2019 — Minor League Baseball today announced the Uncle Ray’s Player of the Month Award winners for each of the 10 leagues for the month of June. In recognition of the honor, each winner will receive an award from Minor League Baseball and Uncle Ray’s, the “Official Potato Chip of Minor League Baseball.” 

Toledo Mud Hens (Tigers) outfielder Victor Reyes led the International League in batting average (.435), hits (40) and doubles (11), was second in runs scored (23) and OPS (1.158) and finished fourth in total bases (66), RBI (25), on-base percentage (.441) and slugging percentage (.717). His month was highlighted by three separate promotions to Detroit for games on June 13, 18 and 28. Reyes hit safely in 11 straight games for Toledo from June 8–June 23 and recorded 13 multi-hit games. Reyes, 24, was signed by Atlanta out of Barcelona, Venezuela, on July 2, 2011. 

Las Vegas Aviators (Athletics) infielder Franklin Barreto batted .387 in June and led the Pacific Coast League in total bases (85) and was second in hits (41), doubles (13) and RBI (32) and was third in slugging percentage (.802). Barreto, who was promoted to Oakland on June 30, recorded 11 multi-hit games and posted an 11-game hitting streak from June 15–27. For the month, he had three three-hit games, two four-hit games and a five-hit game. In a four-game stretch from June 2–6, he recorded 13 hits. Barreto, 23, was originally signed by the Toronto Blue Jays out of Caracas, Venezuela, on June 20, 2013. 

Harrisburg Senators (Nationals) shortstop AdrĂ­an Sanchez led the Eastern League in batting average (.400), on-base percentage (.429), slugging percentage (.613) and OPS (1.042). He began June with a nine-game hitting streak from June 1–12 and ended the month on a 10- game on-base streak that began June 15. He reached base safely in 19 of 20 games and spent two games with the Washington Nationals on June 16 and 20. Sanchez, 28, was signed by Washington out of Maracaibo, Venezuela, on January 21, 2007. 

Chattanooga Lookouts (Reds) infielder Mitch Nay led the Southern League in RBI (29) and total bases (61), was second in runs scored (19) and hits (37) and finished fifth in batting average (.356), slugging percentage (.587) and OPS (.985). He posted 13 multi-hit games and hit safely in 21 of 27 games. Nay, 25, was originally selected by Toronto in the first round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Hamilton High School in Chandler, Arizona. 

Arkansas Travelers (Mariners) first baseman Evan White led the Texas League in OPS (1.087), slugging percentage (.691), home runs (eight), runs scored (22) and total bases (67), was second in RBI (19) and hits (36), and was third in batting average (.371). White hit safely in 21 of 22 games in June and posted 12 multi-hit games. White, 23, was selected by Seattle in the first round of the 2017 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Kentucky. 

Rancho Cucamonga (Dodgers) third baseman Devin Mann led the California League in home runs (10) and total bases (63), was second in slugging percentage (.656) and RBI (21) and was third in OPS (1.017). He posted nine multi-hit games, including four straight games from June 20–23. Mann, 22, was drafted by the Dodgers in the fifth round of the 2018 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Louisville. 

Salem Red Sox center fielder Marcus Wilson led the Carolina League in home runs (six) batting average (.375) total bases (50), OPS (1.227) and slugging percentage (.781), finished third in on-base percentage (.446), and was fifth in RBI (16). Wilson, 22, was originally selected by Arizona in the second round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of Junipero Serra High School in Gardena, California. 

Dunedin Blue Jays outfielder Demi Orimoloye led the Florida State League in batting average (.342), RBI (21), slugging percentage (.644) and OPS (1.051). He finished second in total bases (47), triples (two) and home runs (five) and was third in on-base percentage (.407). He hit safely in 17 of 20 games and posted seven multi-hit games. His .644 slugging percentage led the league by 100 points. Orimoloye, 22, was originally selected by Milwaukee in the fourth round of the 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of St. Matthew Catholic Secondary School in Orleans, Ontario. 

Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres) pitcher Joey Cantillo went 3-0 in four starts in June and posted a Midwest League-leading 0.36 ERA with an identical WHIP. The left-hander struck out 30 while walking just one in 25 innings pitched and held opposing batters to a .099 average. On June 20, Cantillo fanned 10 and allowed just two hits in six scoreless innings in his only no-decision of the month. He currently holds a 22- inning scoreless streak. Cantillo, 19, was selected by San Diego in the 16th round of the 2017 First-Year Player Draft out of Kailua High School in Kailua, Hawaii. 

Asheville Tourists (Rockies) shortstop Terrin Vavra led the South Atlantic League in batting average (.350), was second in OPS (.957) and third on-base percentage (.444). His 15 walks outnumbered his 12 strikeouts, and his 17 runs scored were good for fourth-best in the league. Vavra reached base safely in 21 of 22 June contests and he hit safely in 18 games. Vavra, 22, was selected by Colorado in the third round of the 2018 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Minnesota.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

I have also authored a number of books (eBook and paperback) on topics of baseball that are available on Amazon.