The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
An early look at the new crop of up-and-comers

Each season there’s a new group of young players who start to realize their potential in the majors. Some of them were high draft picks that were expected to reach the majors quickly. Others are relatively unknown international players who have risen to the majors on grit and determination. Then there are players who split time between the big league and minor leagues, before claiming a permanent job.

Sure, it’s still early in the season, but these are some names to watch for the balance of this year.

Jared Kelenic (Mariners OF) was a first-round pick of the Mets in 2018. He was traded to the Mariners after the 2018 season in the deal that brought Robinson Cano to the Mets. After two mediocre seasons with the Mariners in 2021 and 2022, he appears to have solved major-league pitching with 10 home runs and 25 RBIs in 45 games. He pairs well with teammate Julio Rodriguez, last year’s AL Rookie of the Year.

Bryce Miller (Mariners SP) has had a fantastic major-league debut with three wins in five starts. His ERA is 1.15, while posting a WHIP of 0.511. The 24-year-old has been a pleasant surprise as a replacement for Robbie Ray, who is on the permanent injured list.

Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2019, Yennier Cano (Orioles RP) is in only his second major-league season, appearing in only 13 games last season with the Twins and Orioles. In his 29.2 innings pitched as a reliever this season, he’s yielded only one walk while averaging 10 strikeouts per 9 innings. The opposition is batting only .126 against him.

Cano’s catcher Adley Rutschman (Orioles C) is proving he isn’t a one-year-wonder. After finishing last season in second place for AL Rookie of the Year Award, he has an impressive slash line of .276/.402/.441, with 8 HRs and 26 RBIs. He’s one of the main reasons the Orioles are in second place.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Felix Bautista (Orioles RP) has assumed the full-time closer role for Baltimore in only his second major-league season. He has 12 saves, while compiling a 1.44 ERA and recording 50 strikeouts in 25 innings pitched.

Masataka Yoshida (Red Sox OF) was a veteran player in Japan whom Boston signed in December 2022 to a five-year, $105.4 million contract. He’s proved to be solid addition in their outfield, with a slash line of .297/.371/.471, 6 HRs and 29 RBIs. He had a banner day on April 23, when he collected 2 HRs and 6 RBIs.

Riley Greene (Tigers OF) was the fifth overall pick of the 2019 draft. He made his major-league debut with the Tigers in 2022 and is one of the main reasons the Tigers currently hold second place in the AL Central this year. He’s currently slashing .295/.359/.437, with 5 HRs and 19 RBIs. He boasts a .405 batting average on balls in play (BAbip).

Alex Lange (Tigers RP), a first-round pick from LSU in 2017, has become a mainstay in Detroit’s bullpen. He’s being used in a closer role this season, where he’s collected 9 saves in 13 games finished. He’s sporting a 1.27 ERA and impressive .098 WHIP.

Josh Lowe (Rays OF) is having a breakout year with Tampa. The brother of Texas Rangers first baseman Nathaniel Lowe, Josh has 11 HRs and 36 RBIs for the Rays, who lead the American League in home runs. Lowe was a first-round pick of the Rays in 2016. He’s currently at 170 OPS+.

Eli Morgan (Guardians RP) is proving to be solid middle reliever in his third season with Cleveland. In 17 appearances, he has a 1.71 ERA and has walked only 4 batters in 21 innings. He’s claimed two wins against no defeats.

Hunter Brown (Astros SP) has filled in admirably in Houston’s starting rotation after the loss of Jose Urquidy and Luis Garcia to injuries. He currently has a 5-1 record in 10 starts. With an ERA of 3.12, he’s averaging 10 strikeouts per nine innings.

Brent Rooker (A’s OF/DH) is in his fourth big-league season, but he’s never played more than 58 games in a season. He’s having a breakout season in 2023 with 11 HRs and 32 RBIs in 47 games. He is the lone bright spot on a very weak A’s team. He’s currently eighth in the AL with an .893 in OPS. Rooker was a first-round pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2017.

Bryce Elder (Braves SP) is making his case for taking the top spot in Atlanta’s starting rotation. With starters Max Fried and Kyle Wright out due to injury, Elder stepped in and leads the NL in ERA (2.01). His ERA+ is 220, tops in the NL. With only 10 games under his belt prior to this year, he has become a nice complement to starter Spencer Strider, who was last year’s runner-up for NL Rookie of the Year.

Francisco Alvarez (Mets C) won the starting job as New York’s catcher in only his second major-league season. (He played in only five major-league games last year.) The 21-year-old Venezuelan native is slashing .273/.333/.545, with 7 HRs and 16 RBIs.

Lefty pitcher Justin Steele (Cubs SP) has been a pleasant surprise for a mediocre Chicago team. He is 6-2 in 11 starts, posting an impressive 2.77 ERA. He is seventh in WAR for pitchers (1.8).

Second-year second baseman Nolan Gorman (Cardinals 2B/DH) has been the best player for St. Louis this season. He currently leads the NL in slugging percentage (.583), based on 11 HRs and 10 doubles. He is second in RBIs with 40.

As a frequent leadoff hitter, TJ Friedl (Reds, OF) is leading Cincinnati with a .326 batting average, which places him eighth in the NL. He had been a part-time player for the Reds in 2022, batting only .240.

James Outman (Dodgers, OF) is considered one of the leading candidates for NL Rookie of the Year. Unproven at the big-league level before this season, he stepped up as the Dodgers centerfielder, when teammate Chris Taylor was forced to play multiple positions because of injuries to other starters. He currently has 9 HRs and 28 RBIs.

This year's Oakland A's bring back memories of the 1962 New York Mets

The Oakland A’s are by far and away the worst team so far this season. Through Friday, they were 10-36, already 18 games behind the West Division-leading Texas Rangers. At the rate they are playing now, they project to win only 45 games during a full 162-game schedule. Will that qualify them as the worst team ever in the modern era? Not quite, but close. The 1962 New York Mets are remembered as one of the most futile teams in history when they finished 40-120, with one tie.

As an expansion franchise, 1962 was the Mets’ inaugural season. They had legendary Casey Stengel as their manager. From 1949 to 1960, his New York Yankees teams won 10 pennants and seven World Series. He was the genius behind the teams that were stocked with superstars.

Then 71-years-old, Stengel may have still been a genius with the Mets, but what he didn’t have was a roster of superstars. Instead, he had a bunch of “washed-up” veterans and fringe players that were acquired from other teams through an expansion draft.

Through their first 46 games of the season, the Mets were in similar shape at this year’s A’s. They were12-34, 23 games behind the National League-leading San Francisco Giants.

They finished last in the National League in batting and pitching, as measured by OPS+ and ERA+. Their run differential was a whopping negative 331. Another way of putting it, the Mets’ scored two runs less (on average) than their opponents per game for the entire season. They lost 37 games by five or more runs.

The team started the season with a few “name” players such as Richie Ashburn, Gil Hodges, Frank Thomas, Gus Bell, and Charlie Neal, all of whom had been all-stars with prior teams. (Ashburn and Hodges would ultimately be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.) But most of them were past their prime years in the Mets’ first season.

Frank Thomas was the star of the team, banging out 34 home runs and driving in 94 runs, while Richie Ashburn was the lone representative of the Mets on the National League All-Star team.

Stengel didn’t vary his starting pitching rotation much throughout the season, as Roger Craig, Al Jackson, Jay Hook, and Bob Miller made 121 of their starts. But all of them were below average from an ERA+ standpoint. Craig led the league with 24 losses.

The Mets never won more than three consecutive games, while their longest losing streak was 17 games. Almost one-fourth of their wins came against the Chicago Cubs, against whom they had a 9-9 record. (It should be noted the Cubs were a pathetic team, too, as they won only 59 games.)

As bad as the 1962 Mets were (.250 winning percentage), they actually don’t have the worst record of all time. The Philadelphia A’s won only 38 games in a 154-game schedule for a .235 winning percentage, while the 1935 Boston Braves won only 38 games in a 153-game schedule for a .248 winning percentage.

In any case, with players like “Marvelous” Marv Throneberry and Choo-Choo Coleman, the 1962 Mets will forever be associated with ineptness.

Baseball analyst and writer Joe Sheehan noted this year’s A’s were playing .500 ball (9-9) in one-run games through last Wednesday and were 3-28 in all other games. He wrote that the A’s decent performance in one-run games went against the long-held myth that good teams know how to win close games. He definitely wasn’t putting the A’s in the “good” team category though.

So, what’s the problem with the A’s? Batting-wise they are almost average in the American League, as measured by OPS+ (98). However, pitching-wise, they are the worst team, as measured by ERA+ (59). The team ERA is a whopping 7.00. First-year manager Mark Kotsay must be pulling his hair out because of an overall lack of talent.

Stay tuned to see if the A’s will wind up being worse than the Mets.

Taking a Look Back at How Ohtani-Mania Got Started

Five years ago, I wrote about how Shohei Ohtani had created a stir during his major-league debut as a two-way player. His auspicious start was likened to the way Fernando Valenzuela created a fervor among fans in his debut season in 1981, called Fernandomania. I called it Ohtani-mania. Shohei has lived up to the initial fanfare and is now one of the brightest stars in the games.

Here is my blog post from April 2018:


Remember back in 1981 when Fernando Valenzuela took the baseball world by storm as a relatively unknown Mexican-born pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers who won his first eight games of the season?  He fueled a period of “Fernando Mania” that had baseball fans excited all across the entire country, not just in L. A.

We’re witnessing a similar situation this spring, except now the national sensation is Shohei Ohtani, a Japanese two-way player with the Los Angeles Angels, who may well be the re-incarnation of a young Babe Ruth.

Unlike Valenzuela, 23-year-old Ohtani came into this season with a lot of hype from the recruiting period last fall involving virtually every MLB team, which eventually resulted in his signing with the Los Angeles Angels.

Baseball analysts and commentators speculated whether Ohtani would play as a pitcher or position player, since he had excelled in Japan in both capacities.  (In 2016, he posted a 10-4 record with a 2.12 ERA and .957 WHIP, while recording a .322 batting average with 22 HR, 67 RBI, and 1.004 OPS).  Of course, as part of their sales pitches, MLB suitors promised he could do both, even though most observers estimated his pitching ability was ahead of his hitting.  In reality, no major-league player had been effective as a routine two-way player since Babe Ruth’s early days in the majors over 100 years ago.

During spring training though, Ohtani wasn’t overly impressive as a hitter or pitcher.

In his first outing as a pitcher, the slender right-hander struggled with his command, and his fastball wasn’t topping out like it has been advertised.  But most people were quick to write off his performance as just needing more time to adjust to the major leagues.  He was better in his next appearance, recording strikeouts for all eight outs in 2 2/3 innings, but still gave up two runs on four hits.  However, he did display an effective slider as his secondary pitch.

Ohtani was then relegated to pitching on the back diamonds for the rest of the spring.  In his last tune-up against minor-league hitters before the season started, his performance was still uneven, as he walked five batters, hit a batter, and threw two wild pitches.

As a hitter, he wasn’t the same player he was in Japan either.

All in all, his stats for the spring included an 11.77 ERA and a .107 batting average.  He didn’t fulfill the expectations initially set for him from his Japanese career, but it was speculated he just needed more time to adjust, including some time in the minors to polish his game.

However, the Angels took a gamble and kept Ohtani on the major-league roster as they broke spring training camp.  Perhaps they were thinking they couldn’t send him down to the minors from a marketing standpoint.

And then Ohtani demonstrated why spring training stats can sometimes be misleading. Here’s a recap of his first few major-league games:

·        Opening Day:  he got a hit in his first at-bat as the Angels’ DH.

·        April 1:  he won his first start as he pitched six innings, yielding only three hits and a walk while striking out six.

·        April 3:  he went 3-for-4 including his first home run and three RBI

·        April 4:  he went 2-for-5 including a two-run home run off Cleveland’s ace Corey Kluber.

·        April 6:  he homered in his third straight game

·        April 8:  in his second start, he flirted with a perfect game, when he struck out 12 batters before giving up a single in the 7th inning.

·        April 12:  he hit a three-run triple

Ohtani’s combination of having a homer in three consecutive games and posting a double-digit strikeout game as a pitcher in the same season made him only the third player in history to accomplish this feat.  Babe Ruth did it in 1916 and Ken Brett in 1973.

These are the kinds of performances baseball fans had expected, and Ohtani is now fulfilling the pre-season hype his signing had originally generated.  Not surprisingly, the comparisons to Babe Ruth immediately emerged, and Ohtani-mania is well underway.

Of course, Ohtani isn’t the first Asian pitcher to attain significant notoriety in Major League Baseball.  Before him, there were Hideki Irabu, Hideo Nomo, Chan-Ho Park, Chien-Ming Wang, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and most recently Masahiro Tanaka and Yu Darvish.  Most of them achieved periods of success  in the United States, and Ohtani appears to be on a similar path.

Through April 13, Ohtani is batting .367 (11-for-30) with five extra-base hits, including three home runs, 11 RBIs and three walks in the eight games in which he batted this season.  He’s been just as impactful on the mound, going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and 18 strikeouts over 13 innings.  Ohtani was scheduled to make his third pitching appearance on Sunday against Kansas City, but the game was postponed due to weather conditions.

The fans in Los Angeles surely welcomed Ohtani this season.  Even though the Angels already have the best player in baseball in Mike Trout, they’ve played in the post-season only once in Trout’s seven seasons.  They’re hoping Ohtani’s bat and arm can provide the extra boost to get them a playoff berth this year.

Hometown Heroes: Southeast Louisiana products in MLB, MiLB (Through April 30)

Here’s the first report of regular-season pitching and hitting stats for many of the 2023 major-league and minor-league players who prepped or played collegiately in the New Orleans area and Southeast Louisiana. All stats are cumulative for the season, through Sunday April 30. Below are some of the highlights in April.

Blue Jays right-hander Kevin Gausman (LSU) racked up 13 strikeouts in seven innings against the Mariners last Saturday. He’s averaging 12.6 strikeouts per 9 innings, higher than he’s ever posted.

Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jake Fraley (LSU) had a 2-for-4 game last Friday, with a home run and 2 RBIs, and 3 runs scored.

Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola (LSU) had his best outing of the season last Friday with an 8-inning, 3-hit game against the Houston Astros.

Jake Rogers (Tulane) is back in the majors with the Detroit Tigers after missing the entire 2022 season due to injury.

Drew Avans (Southeastern Louisiana) had a fantastic spring training as a non-roster invitee with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is currently playing for Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Hunter Feduccia (LSU) is off to a great start at Triple-A Oklahoma City, posting a slash line of .360/.515/.680.

Hunter Haskin (Tulane) started the season at Triple-A Norfolk, with a slash line of .391/.500/.652.

Kramer Robertson (LSU), who plays for Triple-A Memphis, is the son of Kim Mulkey, coach of the LSU women’s national championship basketball team.

Pitchers Mac Sceroler (Southeastern Louisiana) and Zack Hess (LSU) returned in 2023 after missing all of last year due to injury.


Alex Bregman—Astros (LSU) 28 G, .219 BA, .354 OBP, 3 HR, 12 RBI

Jake FraleyReds (LSU) 26 G, .234 BA, .341 OBP, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 3 SB

Kevin Gausman—Blue Jays (LSU) 6 G, 2-2, 2.33 ERA, 38.2 IP, 54 SO

Ian Gibaut—Reds (Tulane) 12 G, 1-0, 3.60 ERA, 10.0 IP, 12 SO, 0 SV

Alex Lange—Tigers (LSU) 13 G, 1-0, 1.42 ERA, 12.2 IP, 15 SO, 3 SV

Aaron Loup—Angels (Hahnville HS, Tulane) 10 G, 0-2, 5.40 ERA, 8.1 IP, 8 SO, 0 SV

DJ LeMahieu—Yankees (LSU) 25 G, .250 BA, .323 OBP, 3 HR, 11 RBI

Wade Miley—Brewers (Loranger HS, Southeastern) 5 G, 3-1, 1.86 ERA, 29.0 IP, 19 SO

Aaron Nola—Phillies (Catholic HS, LSU) 6 G, 2-2, 4.46 ERA, 36.1 IP, 28 SO

Austin Nola—Padres (Catholic HS, LSU) 21 G, .156 BA, .280 OBP, 1HR, 5 RBI

Tanner Rainey—Nationals (St. Paul’s HS, Southeastern) On 60-Day Injured List

Jake Rogers—Tigers (Tulane) 18 G, .213 BA, .339 OBP, 3 HR, 8 RBI

Josh Smith—Rangers (Catholic HS, LSU) 22 G, .143 BA, .344 OBP, 1HR, 1 RBI



Drew Avans–-Dodgers (Southeastern) 24 G, .226 BA, .365 OBP, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 5 SB

Hunter Feduccia—Dodgers (LSU) 16 G, .360 BA, .515 OBP, 4 HR, 21 RBI

J.P. France—Astros (Shaw HS, Tulane, Miss. State) 5 G, 2-1, 2.33 ERA, 19.1 IP, 26 SO

Hudson Haskin—Orioles (Tulane) 13 G, .391 BA, .500 OBP, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 4 SB

Cole Henry–-Nationals (LSU) (7- Day Injured List)

Eric Orze—Mets (UNO) 7 G, 1-0, 6.35 ERA, 11.1 IP, 10 SO, 0 SV

Michael Papierski—Tigers (LSU) 9 G, .192 BA, .333 OBP, 0 HR, 1 RBI

Kramer Robertson—Mets (LSU) 25 G, .188 BA, .331 OBP, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 1 SB

Cam Sanders – Cubs (E. D. White HS, LSU) 8 G, 1-0, 2.70 ERA, 10.0 IP, 17 SO, 1 SV

Andrew Stevenson—Twins (St. Thomas More HS, LSU) 21 G, .253 BA, .341 OBP, 2HR, 9 RBI, 9 SB



Jared Biddy–-Rockies (Southeastern) 4 G, 0-0, 22.24 ERA, 5.2 IP, 3 SO, 0 SV

Collin Burns Orioles (De La Salle HS, Tulane) On 7-day Injured List

Daniel Cabrera—Tigers (John Curtis HS, Delgado, LSU) 15 G, .205 BA, .321 OBP, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 2 SB

Brendan Cellucci—Red Sox (Tulane) 6 G, 0-0, 7.71 ERA, 9.1 IP, 7 SO, 0 SV

Greg Deichmann—A’s (Brother Martin HS, LSU) 17 G, .238 BA, .368 OBP, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 SB

Kody Hoese—Dodgers (Tulane) 6 G, .192 BA, .192 OBP, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 SB (On 7-Day Injured List)

Mac Sceroler—Reds (Denham Springs HS, Southeastern) 5 G, 1-0, 7.00 ERA, 9.0 IP, 14 SO, 1 SV

Chase Solesky—White Sox (Tulane) 4 G, 1-0, 3.60 ERA, 15.0 IP, 8 SO, 0 SV

Bryce Tassin—Tigers (Southeastern) 1 G, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.0 IP, 1 SO, 0 SV

Zach Watson—Orioles (LSU) 14 G, .260 BA, .289 OBP, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 4 SB

Grant Witherspoon – Tigers (Tulane) 21 G, .244 BA, .340 OBP, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 4 SB



Donovan Benoit–-Reds (Tulane) 5 G, 0-1, 1.86 ERA, 9.2 IP, 17 SO, 0 SV

Jacob Berry – Marlins (LSU) 19 G, .161 BA, .181 OBP, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 1 SB

Cade Doughty – Blue Jays (LSU) 13 G, .233 BA, .333 OBP, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 0 SB

Paul Gervase – Mets (LSU) 6 G, 0-1, 0.00 ERA, 8.2 IP, 13 SO

Zack Hess—Tigers (LSU) 5 G, 1-0, 9.00 ERA, 6.0 IP, 8 SO, 0 SV

Aaron McKeithan–-Cardinals (Tulane) 14 G, .283 BA, .421 OBP, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 1 SB

Todd Peterson—Nationals (LSU) 7 G, 0-2, 9.35 ERA, 8.2 IP, 6 SO, 0 SV



Jack Aldrich—Cubs (Tulane) 6 G, 2-0, 5.68 ERA, 6.1 IP, 9 SO, 1 SV

Tyree Thompson--Braves (Karr HS) 4 G, 0-0, 4.70 ERA, 7.2 IP, 7 SO, 0 SV


Japanese League

Kyle Keller–-Hanshin (Jesuit, Southeastern) 6 G, 0-0, 3.00 ERA, 6.0 IP, 8 SO, 0 SV

Who are the contenders and pretenders after a surprising first month of the MLB season?

The 2024 presidential election cycle is starting to heat up. We’ve got the “old guys” with their hats in the ring. And then there are some relative newcomers who have cast their names on the nominee list. As with most political elections, the nominees include contenders and pretenders—those who have a strong case for election and those hoping for a miracle. Similarly, after a somewhat surprising month of the MLB season, there are contenders and pretenders.

In my reckoning, the overachievers are the Rays, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Orioles, and Rangers. The underachievers are the Cardinals, White Sox, and Mariners. The question is, will these teams stay this way?

The Tampa Bay Rays are the most surprising team thus far. As in recent years, they figured to be in hunt for a playoff berth this season, too. But it’s the way they started the season that is most surprising. After setting records by winning 13 straight to start the season, they are still the hottest team in both leagues, with a 23-5 record. The stat that defines their season thus far is their run-differential. They’ve always had solid pitching, but this year their offense is putting up Bronx Bomber-type of home run numbers with a lineup not generally known for hitting the long ball. The Rays are contenders. They could play .500 ball for the rest of the season and still count 90 wins.

After finishing last in the NL Central in 2022 with only 62 wins, the Pittsburgh Pirates are the second-most surprising team this year. They have posted the best record in the National League, 20-8. With the exception of all-star outfielder Bryan Reynolds and former MVP outfielder Andrew McCutcheon, they are mostly a team of no-name players. Closer David Bednar has been lights-out, with a .069 ERA and 9 saves already. However, 12 of the Pirates’ wins so far have come against four teams currently in last place in their respective divisions. This young team needs more seasoning, and I don’t see the Pirates sustaining their current level of play when facing tougher competition. The Pirates are pretenders. Pirates fans must believe that, too, as the Bucs are 14th out of 15 NL teams in attendance.

The Texas Rangers are atop the AL West Division with the Houston Astros, after finishing fourth in 2022. They took steps to improve over the winter, with the hiring of manager Bruce Bochy and the addition of starting pitchers Jacob deGrom, Nathan Eovaldi, and Andrew Heaney. That has paid off since the Rangers currently rank in the top 5 of the AL in several pitching categories. They’ll finish as a better-than-.500 team, which would be a minimum 14-game improvement. However, I put them in the pretender category for a postseason berth this season. But watch out for 2024.

The NL West Division teams don’t have much differentiation in win-loss records, except for the lowly Colorado Rockies. But one current surprise is the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are challenging for first place. After a dismal record against division opponents last year, they are playing .500-ball this season. The D’backs will benefit from the reduced number of intra-division games this year. However, their team pitching stats are already well below league average in most of the key categories. I don’t see that improving. The Diamondbacks are pretenders.

The Baltimore Orioles seem to have picked up where they left off in 2022, when they were the surprise team in all of the majors with a 31-game improvement in wins. They are currently sporting a 18-9 record, 4 1/2 games behind the Rays. But unless Toronto and New York have a dramatic fall-off, Baltimore doesn’t figure into post-season activity this year.

The St. Louis Cardinals (10-18) are surprisingly in last place of the NL Central, largely because of an underperforming pitching staff in terms of runs allowed. Historically, the quality of their starters indicates they will pick up their performance as the season progresses. Offensively, the team is led by future Hall of Famers Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. The Cards acquired All-Star catcher Willson Contreras to replace long-time Cardinal Yadier Molina. Second-year player Nolan Gorman is off to a fast start, while spring training rookie sensation Jordan Walker has already been sent back to the minors. When Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol publicly called out Tyler O’Neill for not hustling on the basepaths, the backlash rippled throughout the locker room. However, the Cardinals will get over their slow start to contend for the NL Central title. They don’t look like it right now, but the Cards will eventually become contenders.

Equally disappointing have been the Chicago White Sox, who are currently 7-21. Pedro Grifol might be struggling in his first rodeo as a major-league manager. His pitching staff is off to an awful start-- second-to-last in ERA (5.88), WHIP (1.582), ERA+ (78), and FIP (5.22). Fourteen games under .500 will be hard to make up. The only saving grace for the White Sox is that the AL Central Division is relatively weak. If I had to bet right now, I’d put them in the pretender category.

Even though the Seattle Mariners (11-16) currently hold fourth place in the AL West, only ahead of the hapless Oakland A’s, there isn’t anything to be overly concerned about at this point. They were projected to finish behind Houston and likely get a playoff berth. Nine of their losses have been in one-run games. Robbie Ray, 2021 Cy Young Award winner, who has pitched only 3 1/3 innings, will be lost for the rest of the season after requiring tendon surgery. That’s a huge loss. Outfielder Jarred Kelenic is having a breakout season and figures to be an offensive force along with last year’s Rookie of the Year sensation Julio Rodriguez. Despite the loss of Ray, the Mariners will be back in the hunt again as a postseason team.

The bottom line of my analysis, with few exceptions, is that April performance is not a good indicator of how teams will fare during the remainder of the season. The “surprise” performances are often temporary. The old adage is “a team can’t win a pennant in April” still holds true.

Back to politics, based on what I’ve seen so far for presidential candidates, I’m not too fired up about the forthcoming 2024 election. Our country should be able to do better than a couple of octogenarians with a lot of baggage as our leaders.

But I am pretty excited to see which major-league teams will come out of April to make a run at the pennants this Fall.

Flashback: $100,000 "bonus baby" Paul Pettit was a flop in his pro debut with the 1950 New Orleans Pelicans

Paul Pettit was one of the most heralded pitchers to come out of high school in 1949. The Pittsburgh Pirates signed him to a contract that paid a $100,000 bonus, the largest ever paid to an amateur player. Unusual for the time, the 18-year-old Pettit started his career at the Double A level of the minors at New Orleans, then a Pirates affiliate. While his arrival with the team in 1950 was met with a high level of anticipation, both locally and nationally, he turned out to be a huge disappointment.

Pettit prepped at Narbonne High School in Harbor City, CA, near Los Angeles. It was reported he struck out 945 batters in 549 innings in three years of high school, American Legion, and semi-pro games. He pitched six no-hitters and batted .460 for his high school team. All sixteen major-league teams at the time had expressed interest in the pitcher who was dubbed “a left-handed Bob Feller” because of his fastball.

In a bizarre business deal, Hollywood film producer Frederick Stefani, first signed Pettit to a film, radio and television personal services contract worth $85,000 over several years, while still in high school. Stefani wanted rights to Pettit’s entertainment career in the event the prospect turned into a sensation. Organized Baseball rules at the time prevented major-league clubs from signing prospects until graduation. After Pettit’s graduation Pittsburgh ended up assuming Stefani’s contract and added $15,000, which also went to Pettit.

St. Louis Cardinals owner Fred Saigh appealed to commissioner A.B. “Happy” Chandler that the Pirates’ deal had violated the high school rule. But Chandler gave the Pirates a clean bill of health on the transaction.

Pirates general manager Roy Hamey decided Pettit would start the regular season in New Orleans after an initial Pirates training camp in San Bernadino, CA. After looking over Pettit in camp workouts, Pirates manager Billy Meyer declared, “He’s got the best fastball since Bob Feller in his prime.”

Pettit’s arrival in New Orleans in early March was greeted with a much publicized dinner at Antoine’s, where he got his first taste of autograph seekers in the Crescent City, in addition to a culinary feast.

Pettit’s every movement in spring training was chronicled by local newspapers. New Orleanians remembered the 1937 season when 18-year-old phenom Bob Feller was in spring training camp with the Cleveland Indians. Heinemann Park was packed when Feller was scheduled to pitch.

In Pettit’s initial outing with the Pelicans on March 24, he gave up a run in a three-inning stint against the Indianapolis Indians. 3,200 fans braved the cold weather to see their much-awaited star. When Pettit, who pitched five innings, and Bob Purkey combined for a no-hitter against the Nashville Vols, it gave the Pirates’ front office a good feeling about their large investment.

Yet an unassuming Pettit was practical about his appearance. He said, “Don’t let the game fool you--I’m not ready to pitch in this league yet, but I’m going to learn everything I can while I’d down here.” He added, “This season can the most vital one of my career, because I’ve got to learn in one year what most fellows find out in four or five years in the minors.” He was referring to the baseball rule for bonus players who can play only one year in the minors before the Pirates have to bring him up to the majors.

Pettit was among several pitching prospects the Pirates were grooming as part of a youth movement to move the needle for the traditionally losing franchise. They included Purkey, Vern Law, and Bob Friend, all of whom went on to long, successful careers. Native New Orleanian Lenny Yochim was also among the pitchers who played for the Pelicans and Pirates during this period.

In Pettit’s first start of the regular season on April 23, 11,000 fans packed the 9,000-seat Pelican Stadium. But he was less than stellar, as he showed wildness from the beginning of the game. He ended up walking 11 batters, while giving up seven runs in 7 2/3 innings. Altogether he threw 152 pitches. Pirates pitching coach Ben Tincup, who had been assigned to monitor Pettit’s progress since spring training, wasn’t surprised by his erratic outing. He said, “He was wild. That was to be expected. I think he’ll get better as he goes along. If he loses some of that wildness that has been plaguing him, he’ll be okay.”

After a couple of more starts, Pettit developed a sore elbow in mid-May and was sent to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore for evaluation by specialists. The doctors determined he had not suffered a permanent injury. There was concern he had overworked himself in high school. In any case, he had lost speed on his fastball. Pettit told newspaper reporters that the Pirates had changed his delivery, and he believed it had something to do with his ineffectiveness.

He was used sparingly in relief situations in an effort to give him time to rest his arm. By mid-July he was back in the starting rotation. But he remained wild. In a July 14 start, he walked eight in his longest outing (8 innings) of the season. It wasn’t until August 10 against Birmingham that he picked up his first win of the season.

He finished the 1950 season with a 2-7 record and 5.17 ERA. He yielded 73 hits and 76 hits in 94 innings, while striking out 46. It was not the type of season he or the Pelicans had hoped for.

Pettit broke spring training in 1951 with the big-league Pirates, but it wasn’t until May 4 that he saw action. In his major-league debut against the New York Giants, he pitched one scoreless inning in relief. He made 10 appearances with the Pirates in 1953, gaining his first major-league win against two losses.

Arm problems continued to plague Pettit, until he finally turned his efforts toward playing as an outfielder and first baseman, beginning in 1954. In 1962 at age 30, he was out of baseball for good, unable to live up to the billing he received as an 18-year-old.

Flashback: The Zephyrs brought pro baseball back to New Orleans 30 years ago

When Denver got its Major League Baseball expansion franchise Colorado Rockies in 1993, the minor-league Denver Zephyrs, which had been a mainstay in the Mile High City for years, was required to relocate to another city. It was then that professional baseball returned to New Orleans after a sixteen-year absence. The city’s baseball fans rejoiced when the National Association awarded the Zephyrs franchise to the city.

After an unresolved battle with New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson over the use of UNO’s Privateer Park, Zephyrs owner John Dikeou finally reached an agreement with the LSU Board of Supervisors to use the university’s 2,500 seat stadium for its home games. Benson had acquired the lease rights to the stadium when he had plans to relocate a minor-league team from Charlotte to New Orleans. But that never materialized. The Board’s decision came less than a month before the start of the Zephyrs’ regular season.

New Orleans had experience with an entry in the Triple-A American Association when the city was home to the New Orleans Pelicans, an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals in the American Association in 1977. The Pelicans played their home games in the Louisiana Superdome.

The Zephyrs, an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, were managed by Chris Bando, who was in his fourth season as a minor-league manager in the Brewers organization. His philosophy for the team was to mirror the Brewers’ major-league club—put pressure on the opposition by being aggressive on offense and defense, including a running game on the bases.

Bando expected Mark Davis, Troy O’Leary, Larry Sheets, and Eddie Williams to supply power in the lineup. Knuckleballer Steve Sparks, Jamie McAndrew, Mike Farrell, Rafael Novoa, and Matt Maysey formed Bando’s starting rotation.

The Zephyrs’ first regular-season home game was scheduled for April 16 against the Buffalo Bisons. The Times-Picayune reported that GM Jay Cicero and his staff had been busy selling 420 pre-season tickets and another individual 800 tickets a week before the game and were hopeful for a sellout. He told the Times-Picayune days before the home-opener, “We’ve had nothing but positive response from the public coming into our office and purchasing tickets, calling us up and asking for schedules.” Ticket prices for Zephyrs home games were $7 for reserved seats, while general admission tickets were $4 for adults and $3 for students and seniors.

On the strength of its pitching, the Zephyrs started the season with a 5-0 record on its road trip against Indianapolis and Louisville.

The team followed that with its Friday night home stand before a Privateer Park sellout crowd of 2,764 against Buffalo. Local musician Deacon John graced the crowd with his rendition of the national anthem.

Dikeou said before the game, “There is no question that everyone is excited to have baseball back in New Orleans. The people can’t wait to get out to the ballpark. I just wish we had more seats to accommodate them.” Dikeou was referring to his initiative to upgrade UNO’s seating capacity to 5,000, one of the conditions of his acquiring the stadium lease.

Bando went with Maysey as his starter against the Bisons. The right-hander had also started in the season-opener against Indianapolis. Buffalo’s manager Doc Edwards countered with Victor Cole as his starter.

The hometown crowd, contending with chilly winds coming off Lake Pontchartrain, were treated to an entertaining game that involved five home runs.

The Zephyrs got off to great start in the first inning when Matt Mieske hit a home run in his fourth straight game. John Finn, who had singled, also scored on Mieske’s homer.

Buffalo put up its first score in the third inning on a solo home run by Jose Sandoval.

Buffalo took the lead in the fourth then they added two more runs on a home run by Glenn Wilson with Gary Cooper on base, making the score 3-2.

The Bisons scored four more in the fifth inning, including Wilson’s second home run of the day.

The Zephyrs closed the gap in the sixth on Tom Lampkin’s two-run home run, resulting in a 7-4 score.

Behind the eight-ball in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Zephyrs tied the game with three runs.

The score remained tied, 7-7, until the top of the 12th inning. With two outs, Russ Mormon doubled in Wilson for the game-winning run.

Wilson was the Bisons’ star of the game, going 3-for-5 with 3 runs and 4 RBIs. Mike Zimmerman was credited with his first win of the season, while the Zephyrs’ Garland Kiser took the loss.

The Z’s ended the season with a respectable 80-64 record, good for second place in the league’s West Division, five games behind the Iowa Cubs. The Zephyrs’ attendance for the season was 161,846. Although Dikeou negotiated the option to play 15 of the team’s home games in the Superdome, the Zephyrs never played a game there.

The team moved to the new 10,000-seat Zephyr Field in Metairie for the 1997 season.

2023 MLB Predictions


The 2023 MLB season kicks off on Thursday. A lot of the preseason banter has been about the rules changes that are being implemented. It should make for an interesting beginning of the season. I saw on social media that some fans want ticket price reductions because the games will now be 25-30 minutes shorter. Go figure.

I’m not forecasting a lot of change from last year’s playoff teams, although I’m picking a few new division-winners. The Central divisions of both leagues are the most in flux for picking a clear winner.

I didn’t foresee the Phillies making it to the World Series last season. I don’t think many people did. Will there be another “surprise” team in 2023?

Oh, yeah, I’d be remiss in not making my annual case for MLB’s Opening Day to be a national holiday. Go to a ballpark if you can. Or stay at home to watch a game or two. Have a great season!


AL East

The Blue Jays will finally win the division title after eight seasons in which the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox were winners. All the pieces on offense and pitching will come together for them....The Yankees are getting old again and Judge won’t be able to carry them single-handedly, like he did in the second half of last year....The Rays don’t have any punch in their offense, while their ace Tyler Glasnow will start the season on the injured list.....The Orioles will improve again, although only slightly this season (after a whopping 31-game improvement last year), and hence are not yet ready to contend for a wild card berth..... Boston has lost its way since trading away Mookie Betts....The Yankees, who wish they had the Orioles’ youth, will claim a wild card spot.

AL Central

This might be the most uncertain division for predicting its winner. The Guardians, White Sox, and Twins will contend.....The Indians showed how to win by playing “small ball” last season. Will that work again in 2023?....The White Sox have the best pitching staff of the three and are hoping Andrew Vaughn will offset the loss of slugging first baseman Jose Abreu to free agency. Losing 77-year-old manager Tony La Russa to retirement is a good thing for the White Sox.....The Twins are counting on Carlos Correa to lead its offense again. (He returns to the Twins after he initially decided to accept free-agent offers from the Giants and Mets.) The White Sox will prevail as the division-winner.....Detroit and Kansas City are trying to rebuild, but with little talent.

AL West

The Astros will take the division again, but not by as much of a margin as last year. Their roster is very stable from last year’s World Series-winning team. Losing Verlander won’t be as costly as it may seem.....Seattle, led by last year’s Rookie of the Year Julio Rodriguez, will get a second-place finish again and a repeat wild card appearance.....The Angels are an enigma with the two best players in baseball today (Ohtani and Trout), but they can’t seem to supplement the two superstars enough to become winners.....Texas is poised to become a better-than-.500 club (their first since 2016) but is still a couple of years away from contending.


NL East

The Braves will slip past the Mets for first place, despite losing shortstop Dansby Swanson.....Not having Edwin Diaz for the entire season is a huge loss for the Mets. Verlander and Sherzer re-unite again, but keep in mind they were much younger when they joined forces to get the Tigers to the World Series in 2012. But the Mets will still claim a wild card berth.....Last year’s pennant-winning Phillies won’t make the playoffs this year. Trea Turner was a huge pickup by them, but Bryce Harper being out for much of the season and Rhys Hoskins getting injured this week will make a big difference. Pitching remains a concern.....Miami may actually pass up the Phillies in the standings.....Washington will still be trying to find its “lost ball in high weeds.”

NL Central

Like the AL Central, this division will be a toss-up. The Cardinals, Brewers, and a potentially upstart Cubs team will challenge for the division title.....The Cardinals lost sentimental favorites Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols to retirement, but that’s just fine. Good-bye and best wishes. New catcher Willson Contreras is an all-star. Jordan Walker may be the new Pujols. Goldschmidt and Arenado anchor the team offensively.....The Brewers have a pitching staff that makes them competitive and they have a bunch of grinders as position players who can sneak up on teams.....The Cubs are the really interesting team in this division. They picked up shortstop Swanson, who’s a winner. Also Cody Bellinger, Eric Hosmer, and Trey Mancini, who might appear to be washed up, but also could be the stabilizing force for the young team.....The Reds and Pirates are still the Reds and Pirates of last year. They haven’t figured out they have to spend their own money on players to win. They’ll always be bottom feeders.

NL West

The Dodgers won’t have the advantage of piling up wins against weak division opponents, since the schedules have been re-structured for 2023. Their traditional lineup depth has weakened. They will finish second (behind the Padres) in the division for only the second time in 11 years, but still make the playoffs as a wild card..... Everything finally comes together for the Padres, who have one of the most potent (and expensive) lineups in the game with Soto, Machado, Bogaerts, Tatis Jr., Croneworth and Nelson Cruz....Arizona, San Francisco, and Colorado will bring up the rear as usual.


American League: Blue Jays, White Sox, and Astros are division winners; Yankees, Mariners, Indians are wild cards.

National League: Braves, Cardinals, and Padres are division winners; Mets, Dodgers, and Cubs are wild cards.

World Series: Blue Jays over Braves


2023 Astros are poised for another banner season

I don’t think there is a more formidable lineup in either league to start the 2023 season than the Houston Astros. As last season’s World Series champion, they were obviously really good. And it looks like they will be REALLY (notice the extra emphasis) good again this season, since they are currently favored to win the World Series.

Some would characterize the Astros as a dynasty team, having appeared in four World Series during the last six seasons, capturing two championships. The rosters over his period have been carefully constructed by the organization to win championships. Strong scouting (both domestic and international) and player development departments have been key to their winning strategy.

Here’s the projected lineup to open the 2023 season:

Altuve 2B

Brantley LF

Alvarez DH

Bregman 3B

Tucker RF

Abreu 1B

Peña SS

Chas McCormick CF

Martín Maldonado C


What’s not to like about this lineup?

Now that Brantley is back from injury, after missing most of the 2022 season, and Abreu was acquired over the winter, the Astros actually have a better starting lineup than last year’s championship team.

First baseman Abreu represents a significant offensive improvement over Yuli Gurriel, who was a reliable, serviceable player for the Astros over the last seven years. Abreu was a 133 OPS+ player last season, while 38-year-old Gurriel posted a below average 84 OPS+.

Yeah, Brantley is 36 years old this season, but the veteran has been a 124 ERA+ player in his four seasons with the Astros. He doesn’t strike out a lot (12% of at-bats), while slashing .306/.368/.464.

Pena was a pleasant surprise last year, replacing all-star shortstop Carlos Correa, who left to go to Minnesota. The rookie turned in a Gold Glove season, while also providing his share of the offense. Last year’s ALCS and World Series MVP figures to only get better with more major-league at-bats.

Only 26 years old, Yordan Alvarez finished third in the MVP voting last season. In a short span of four seasons (including one in which he appeared in only two games due to injury), he’s become one of the best hitters in the league.

Altuve (5th in MVP voting), Bregman, and Tucker (Gold Glove winner) are All-Star-caliber players who can be counted on, year in and year out unless they incur injuries. Any offense that McCormick and Maldonado provide is lagniappe. Their primary contributions will be in defense, and in Maldonado’s case also handling the pitching staff.

All of the Astros’ starting pitchers return, with the exception of Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello. Verlander’s loss is significant--after all, how do you replace a Cy Young Award winner? However, the Astros will partially offset his loss in the starting rotation with Lance McCullers, who had only eight regular-season appearances last year. Framber Valdez figures to slot into the top of the rotation. The bullpen is largely intact from last season, headed by closer Ryan Pressly.

If the Astros have a weakness, it’s the depth and experience of their bench.

Looking at the rosters of American League competition, the Astros will be challenged by the Yankees and Blue Jays. In the National League, the Mets, Braves, Padres and Dodgers will contend for the right to play the Astros in the Fall Classic.

According to, the Houston Astros are the only MLB team to exceed their preseason over/under win total by at least seven wins in each of the last three full seasons (2019, 2021, 2022). Their projected win total for 2023 has declined, but their World Series odds have improved. (Per FanDuel, the Astros are +600; the Dodgers, Braves and Mets are +800; and the Yankees are +850.) If successful, the Astros would become the first team to defend their championship since the New York Yankees in 2000.

Former Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum turned in "freakish" seasons from 2008 to 2011

I was reminded last week by my friend Tim about the career of former major-league pitcher Tim Lincecum, who had one of the more spectacular four consecutive seasons in baseball history. That’s saying a lot, since it would put him in the same company as Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax, Pedro Martinez, and Randy Johnson. But it turned out his career wouldn’t last much longer after those four seasons, and there would be no bronze plaque in Cooperstown for him.

Lincecum, whose delivery was once described as “violent” because of the way his head and arm snapped when he threw the ball, acquired the nickname “The Freak.” He was a freak of nature because his small stature (5-11, 170 lb.) belied his ability to throw hard. He was a workhorse on the mound, pitching deep into most of his games and piling up a lot of innings early in his career. His unconventional delivery, combined with his extreme workload, ultimately took a physical toll on his body and prematurely curtailed his career.

One year after being drafted in the first round by the San Francisco Giants in 2006, Lincecum remarkably made his way into the Giants’ starting rotation. It should have come as no surprise, since he struck out 104 batters in 62 innings of work during his 13 starts (8 in 2006 and 5 in 2007) in the minors.

Lincecum made an inauspicious major-league debut with the Giants on May 6, 2007, as he gave up five runs, including two home runs, in only 4 1/3 innings. He occasionally experienced control problems and ended with a 4.00 ERA, but continued to impress with a high strikeout rate (9.2 strikeouts per 9 innings). He finished with a modest 7-5 record in 24 starts.

The baseball world began to take notice of Lincecum the next season, when he won 10 of his first 11 decisions. He went on to post an 18-5 record and 2.62 ERA for the season, leading the league with 265 strikeouts, 168 ERA+, and 10.5 strikeouts per 9 innings. His performance was rewarded with his first Cy Young Award. He made 34 starts, piling up 227 innings pitched. He averaged 108 pitches over those 34 starts. (By comparison, in 2022 Justin Verlander averaged 97 pitches over 28 starts, on 41% fewer total pitches.)

Lincecum had a repeat performance in 2009, earning another Cy Young Award, based on a 15-7 record, 2.48 ERA, and 1.047 WHIP. He again led the league with 261 strikeouts and 10.4 strikeouts per 9 innings. He pitched four complete games in 32 starts, while racking up 225.1 innings. He averaged 107 pitches over those 32 starts, including 10 with 115 or more.

He experienced a bit of a fall-off in performance in 2010, when his ERA increased by nearly one point to 3.43 (although it was practically the same as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ team-leading average ERA in the league). He led the league in strikeouts for the third consecutive year with 231, while compiling a 16-10 record in 33 starts and 212 innings pitched. Lincecum finished 10th in the Cy Young Award voting. Still the ace of the Giants staff, he won four games in the postseason, including two in the Giants’ World Series win over the Texas Rangers.

Lincecum posted an impressive 2.74 ERA in 2011, while finishing third in the league with 220 strikeouts. He made 33 starts again, compiling 217 innings. His 13-14 win-loss record was reflective of the fact that the Giants finished last in the league in runs scored. Yet he still managed to finish sixth in the Cy Young Award voting. He was still averaging over 100 innings pitched per game (104).

While Lincecum was an All-Star selection during those highly productive 2008-2011 years, 2012 was a turning point in the downfall of his career. He pitched 31 fewer innings than the year before, as his ERA ballooned to 5.18. He lost a league-leading 15 games, while collecting 10 victories. When the Giants made it to the World Series again, his role was much different from the 2010 Series. He made only one start in six playoff games, although his appearances as a relief pitcher were instrumental in the Giants winning their second Series in three years.

He continued to stay in the Giants starting rotation for the next three seasons, but he was clearly a different pitcher. His ERA during those seasons was well over 4.00, while his number of innings continued to decline. When the Giants won the World Series again in 2014, Lincecum did not pitch in any of the playoff games preceding the Series. He faced only five batters in a relief appearance in Game 2. What a difference in the Giants’ reliance on him from just five seasons earlier!

Lincecum played his last season with the Los Angeles Angels in 2016, when he made only nine starts. He was only 32 years old.

During his prime years, 2008-2011, Lincecum led the National League in innings pitched. When including his “down” years following that, he was third behind only Cole Hamels and Clayton Kershaw.

Here’s a look at three other pitchers who put in stellar four-season stints. Each of them is in the Hall of Fame. Unlike Lincecum, they were well into their careers when they accomplished their stretch of greatness.

From 1963 to 1966 Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax won the Cy Young Award three times and finished third the other year. The left-hander led the National League in ERA four times, with three of the years under 2.00. He led the league in strikeouts three times, topping out at 382 in 1965.

Pedro Martinez was a three-time Cy Young Award winner from 1997 to 2000. He finished second in the fourth season. He had three seasons as ERA leader and two as strikeout king. His 1997 season was with the Montreal Expos, while the other three were with the Boston Red Sox.

Arizona Diamondbacks lefthander Randy Johnson won the Cy Young Award in four seasons, from 1999 to 2002. He led the league in strikeouts all four seasons, while capturing the ERA title in three seasons.

Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw, who is still active, was a contemporary of Lincecum’s. From 2011-2014, he won three Cy Young Awards, while finishing second the other year. He led the league in ERA all four years, with two seasons as strikeout leader. He’s a likely future Hall of Famer.

Lincecum is one of only five pitchers to win multiple Cy Young Awards through his age-25 season, along with Roger Clemens, Denny McClain, Clayton Kershaw and Bret Saberhagen.

He only received nine votes when he became eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2021. Even though he was one of baseball’s best pitchers during his four-year stretch, he didn’t have enough years at a high level to warrant more consideration.

Lincecum’s unorthodox mechanics and his untiring efforts on the mound worked against him in the long run. If he were starting his career today, his total number of pitches per game would be managed better, while he would likely benefit from current-day use of biomechanics data to limit the stress on his arm and hips.

But he’ll hold a place in the hearts of Giants fans forever. They’ll remember “The Freak” for his part in helping the Giants capture those three World Series rings.

Flashback: New Orleans area Goldens made baseball a family affair

You’ve probably heard the old adage “like father, like son” to describe sons who follow in the footsteps of their fathers, often in the same career path. In the case of the Golden family from New Orleans, it was four brothers taking up a baseball bat and glove, like their father. They have a remarkable record of playing on numerous teams that achieved success at regional and national levels.

I recently caught up with three of the Golden brothers-- Pat, Wayne and Steve. They were full of stories about growing up in a baseball family, getting support from their parents, playing on championship teams, and sometimes even playing on the same teams. Kenny is the fourth sibling of the locally well-known diamond bunch.

John Golden began the family’s baseball legacy while playing for S.J. Peters High School in New Orleans in the early 1940s. He was a second team All-Prep selection from Peters in 1942 when they won the state prep title, with teammates like future professional players Bo Strickland, Ray Campo, and Pete Modica. After serving in World War II, John played second base for New Iberia in the Class D Evangeline League in 1946 and 1947. (Lenny Yochim, a future major-league player and long-time scout from New Orleans, was an 18-year-old rookie teammate of John in 1947). John’s sons said a knee injury ended his baseball career prematurely.

Baseball dominated the Golden household. John would frequently pitch batting practice to his sons and anyone else who showed up in their big back yard. He coached his sons in youth baseball. Pat related how his father said he hated it when aluminum bats began to be used, because balls hit hard up the middle during batting practice were tough on his shins. The brothers said it was remarkable how their parents attended most of their games, often going in different directions on any given day to catch all of their games. Steve noted they even traveled to out of town regional and national championship tournaments.

All four brothers wound up playing on some of the best teams from the New Orleans area.

The oldest brother, Pat, was a member of the 1963 Metairie Dixie Youth team that won the state tournament and lost out in the semi-finals of the Dixie Youth World Series. He played prep baseball for De La Salle High School and was an All-District Legion selection representing Gulf States American in 1967. In 1968, he played for the NORD-Candies All-American team that won the national championship in Johnstown, PA.

Two years younger than Pat, Kenny was an All-District player for De La Salle, when the team was District 5-AAA champion in 1968. His Bohn Ford American Legion team won the state title and advanced to the Mid-South Regional that same year.

Wayne, five years younger than Kenny, was the starting third baseman on Rummel High School’s state championship team in 1974. The Rummel-based Schaff Brothers American Legion team was also the state champion that year, eventually making it to the American Legion World Series, where they finished third. Wayne was one of the leading hitters for Schaff in the Regional and World Series tournaments, going 7-for 18 and 6-for-13. Those two teams are regarded among the all-time best Prep and Legion teams from Metro New Orleans.

Youngest brother Steve was 3 ½ years younger than Wayne. The only left-hander of the brothers, he received early exposure on the national stage when the JPRD East Bank All-Stars won the Babe Ruth world championship in 1975. Steve said their title was a breakthrough for Jefferson Parish in Babe Ruth play, since the New Orleans Recreational Department (NORD) had previously dominated locally. He was only 16 years old as the starting right fielder on the 1976 Schaff Legion team that again won the state title and ended up advancing to the World Series. They played against opponents whose rosters contained college-eligible freshmen from major schools. Steve was an All-District performer for Rummel in 1977.

Pat, Wayne, and Steve embarked on college careers at Southeastern Louisiana, while Kenny’s baseball career was curtailed by service in the Navy during the Vietnam War.

Pat was recruited by Frank Misuraca, a former Southeastern player, and played there from 1967 to 1970. It was a time when the Lions’ squad had a heavy New Orleans flavor. He led Southeastern in batting average, hits and runs scored as a sophomore in 1968, earning him a spot on the All-Gulf South Conference (GSC) team.

Wayne was a freshman starter on the 1975 Lions team. In one of their regular-season games, he tied a team record with five hits in a game. The team, again populated with numerous  New Orleans area players, won their NCAA Regional tournament and went on to play in the Division II College World Series, where they won two and lost two. Southeastern finished third in the final Division II poll. As a senior in 1978, he was an All-GSC West Division selection, as Southeastern captured the conference title. He was also named to the second team of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) All-Region team.

Steve’s career with Southeastern began in 1978, when he got to experience the College World Series with Wayne. A first baseman, he went on to letter all four years. At one point in in his senior season, he reached base in 23 straight games.

When Steve was playing his final season in 1981, a Baton Rouge newspaper profiled him in an article titled “Golden era will end for SLU baseball team.” The piece noted that in 12 out of the last 16 years a Golden brother had been on the Southeastern team. Years after their college days, Southeastern honored the brothers by having them throw out the first pitches at a Lions home game.

Steve offered his observation about the quality of baseball in New Orleans. “All four of us have played almost everywhere in the country in World Series and National tournaments in Babe Ruth, American Legion, Johnstown, College World Series, and NBC World Series in Wichita, KS. There is no doubt that the greater New Orleans area had as good or better baseball than anywhere in the country.”

He added, “As Wayne (’74 Schaff Brothers in ’74) and I (’76 Schaff) witnessed at the American Legion Regional and World Series level, we were one school (Rummel) competing against all-star teams from big cities, like Los Angeles, Memphis, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. We held out own and were close to winning those championships, even with those odds against us!”

None of the brothers seriously considered playing professional baseball, but that didn’t stop them from continuing to compete after college.

They played for various teams in semi-pro leagues around the city, such as the Mel Ott League on the West Bank and the Audubon League.

In 1983, Steve played for Roy’s Supply in the National Baseball Congress (NBC) semi-pro tournament in Wichita, where they finished 5th. Steve was proud of the team’s finish, saying many of the opposing teams had former major-leaguers on their rosters. Wayne and Kenny played in an Over-40 baseball league in the early 2000s when their team won a national championship one year.

The brothers’ love of competition also carried over to softball diamonds. In 1981 all four of them manned infield positions for the Noah Chips softball team. Wayne said they became known as the “Golden infield.”

When asked which teams or games were the most memorable in their careers, they each recalled their favorites. Pat’s was his four-for-four game in Southeastern’s shutout against Tulane in 1968. Wayne mentioned the 1974 Rummel Schaff team that had 10 players who went on to play at the college level and several at the professional level. Steve’s unforgettable game was Roy Supply’s win against the No. 1-seeded Fairbanks, Alaska team in the 1982 NBC tournament. His favorite teams were the 1975 Babe Ruth and 1976 Schaff Legion squads.

The brothers acknowledged several of their coaches as instrumental in leading successful programs in which they were fortunate to participate-- Jim Robarts for Jefferson Parish Babe Ruth, Larry Schneider Sr. for Rummel prep and Legion teams, John Altobello at De La Salle High School, and “Rags” Scheuermann for the All-American league.

They avoided the question, “Who was the best Golden?” I came away with the sense that each of them deeply admired all of their brothers’ successes. It was obvious they were pleased with the baseball legacy the entire family left in the New Orleans area.

Will MLB schedule changes in 2023 change the landscape for postseason berths?

Major League Baseball will implement significant changes in its baseball schedules for the upcoming season in an attempt to create more balanced schedules among its 30 teams. It raises the question of what effect the changes will that have on determining playoff teams.

It’s been long argued that division-leading teams who play in relatively weak divisions have an advantage when determining postseason teams and wild card berths. With teams playing each division opponent 19 times per season, a team’s overall winning percentage can be skewed from mounting up a large number of wins against much weaker divisional teams. For example, 54 (48.6%) of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ wins in 2022 came against its four division opponents. They lost only 22 of their games against the same opponents. The Houston Astros were 51-25 against their AL West Division opponents while the Mets were 50-26 against NL East opposition.

Another factor that has frequently contributed to unbalanced results is teams don’t play against all the other league’s teams in interleague play. Drawing the other league’s weaker teams can boost winning percentages inequitably. Again, using the Dodgers as an example, they were 15-5 against six American League opponents, only one of which was a playoff team (Cleveland). The Chicago Cubs were 3-10 against four tough AL East Division opponents, three of which made the playoffs (New York, Toronto, and Tampa Bay) and a surprisingly good Baltimore team.

Here's a recap of the changes being implemented this season:

** Divisional games will decrease from 76 to 52 (from 19 against each team to 13).

** Other intra-league teams will decrease from 66 to 64.

** Inter-league teams will increase from 20 to 46 (each team will play a four-game home-and-home series against a geographic interleague rival, in addition to one three-game series against the other 14 teams in the other league.)

** All 30 teams will play each other at least one series.

To summarize, less emphasis will be put on results against division opponents and more on interleague opponents.

There’s no way to accurately predict how these changes will impact teams’ records and their potential to claim postseason berths in 2023.

However, I did an analysis in which I used the actual winning percentages of each team’s 2022 results for division play, other league play, and interleague play, and applied the percentages to the new breakdown of games.

The results were mixed. 1) Although there were some minor changes in wins, the same American League teams that actually made the playoffs in 2022, came out the same in the analysis. 2) In the National League, the Brewers replaced the Cardinals for first place in the NL Central. 3) The Mets dropped six wins, thus were not tied with the Braves for first place in the NL East. 4) The Padres and Phillies ended in a tie with same number of wins, but due to head-to-head competition in 2022, the Phillies filled the wild card berth, while the Padres lost their berth.

Of course, my analysis is a retrospective “paper” exercise for the 2022 season. But it demonstrates it is possible for the proposed balanced schedule to have an impact on which teams get playoff spots.

Below are the results of my analysis. The Blue cells represent teams that received wild card berths. Green Cells represent playoff teams with byes in first round.




Actual 2022 Overall Record

Adjusted 2022 Wins with Schedule Changes

AL Central




AL Central




AL East




AL East




AL East




AL East




AL West




AL West




NL Central




NL Central




NL Central




NL East




NL East




NL East




NL West




NL West




NL West




Flashback: Francingues brothers' accomplishments filled New Orleans sports pages during the '60s and '70s

Brothers Wayne and Ken Francingues grew up in a sports-minded family in the New Orleans area, so it was only natural that they both participated in sports, excelling at multiple levels. During their respective careers, they accumulated numerous honors, including several on the regional and national sports stage. Being ten years apart in age, the brothers’ stellar accomplishments made good headlines in the sports pages of New Orleans newspapers for nearly two decades.

Wayne was a four-sport letterman at Jesuit High School, played American Legion baseball, and competed in baseball and football at Tulane University. His younger brother Ken played prep and American Legion baseball for Rummel High School and also competed in baseball at Tulane. The brothers were all-stars for their respective teams. Both were ultimately selected in Major League Baseball’s amateur draft and played professionally at the minor-league level.

Wayne and Ken’s father, Joe Francingues (correctly pronounced Fra-SANG), played prep baseball in the late 1930s at S.J. Peters High School, where he was a teammate of future Boston Red Sox star Mel Parnell. Joe served as equipment manager at Metairie Playground and head supervisor at Girard Playground. Both of the brothers attribute their sports interest to their father. Their mother Dolores was a frequent attendee at her sons’ games. Ken recalls a comical situation at one of his games, when his mother shouted at the home plate umpire on a close call of one of Ken’s pitches, and the umpire questioned Ken about her when he came to bat.

In Wayne’s junior and senior years, Jesuit won the State AAA basketball championships in 1965 and 1966. He downplays his offensive contribution to his senior team, saying his primary job in the backcourt was to get the ball to Fabien Mang, the Blue Jays’ leading scorer. Yet, Wayne was selected to the All-District second team.

In his senior football season at Jesuit in 1965, he was only one of seven returning lettermen, yet he led the team to the District title over Redemptorist. As a defensive back and quarterback, Wayne was named the District MVP. He was selected for the city’s All-Prep, All-State and All-Southern teams, and the Catholic All-American High School team. In 1980, Wayne was included on the New Orleans area high school All-Decade Team of the 1960s as a defensive back.

Jesuit advanced to the State prep baseball tournament in both his junior and senior years. As a shortstop, he was again named to the All-District, All-Prep, All-State, and All-Southern teams. Playing with the Jesuit-based Tulane Shirts American Legion team in 1965, Wayne helped them advance to the Region 4 playoffs, where they finished in second place to Memphis.

In between his baseball games during his senior year, his overall athleticism allowed him to excel in track and field events, too. Wayne finished first in the District in the broad jump and second in the triple jump.

He was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the third round of the 1966 MLB June Amateur Draft. He says he didn’t consider signing at that point because he was being awarded a coveted full athletic scholarship with Tulane University. He recalls the Orioles only offered a $10,000 signing bonus.

Although he entered Tulane on a baseball scholarship, Wayne was encouraged by Coach Jim Pittman to join the freshman football team in 1966, when one of the quarterbacks became injured in pre-season drills. After playing on the junior varsity team as a freshman, he played tailback, as well as backup to quarterback Bobby Duhon, as a sophomore in the fall of 1967. Wayne’s best game came against rival LSU, when he rushed for 70 yards and passed for 61.

In his junior football season in 1968, he led Tulane in total offense with 1,376 yards. His mark put him second on the Green Wave’s all-time list, behind only Don Zimmerman’s 1,459 yards, 42 years earlier.

As a sophomore in the spring of 1968, Wayne led Tulane’s baseball team in RBIs and walks, as the team finished 10-10. Coach Milt Retif’s Green Wave improved to 15-3 in the following season, with Wayne leading the team in home runs and RBIs and batting .342. He and catcher Billy Fitzgerald, a first-round draft choice of the Oakland A’s, became known as Tulane’s “F & F Boys” for their offensive leadership in helping the Green Wave to their best record in 22 years. Both players were selected for the College All-District 13 team that covered several southern states.

The Chicago White Sox selected Wayne in the 10th round of the 1969 draft. But again, he intended to return to Tulane for his senior season and didn’t sign immediately. While playing summer baseball in the Central Illinois Collegiate League, Wayne says he was tearing up the league in hitting, when the White Sox contacted him and urged him not to wait another year to sign. After being offered a $10,000 signing bonus, he consulted with his father and fiancé and decided to accept the team’s offer.

Beginning in 1969, Wayne played three seasons in the low minors, including part of a season with Double A Mobile. After his first season, he required knee surgery that he believes caused him to lose a step on the diamond. While playing for Appleton in the Midwest League in 1970, his teammates were future White Sox major leaguers Bucky Dent, Rich Gossage, and Terry Forster. Wayne recalls that Gossage was an 18-year-old, first-year minor-league fireballer who was just learning to throw a curveball.

Ken Francingues was a right-handed pitcher who received attention in 1974 as a 15-year-old sophomore for Rummel High School and the Rummel based Schaff Brothers American Legion team. Both teams captured state titles. They are considered one of the all-time best high school and Legion teams in New Orleans.


Senior pitcher Rick Zibilich and Ken shouldered most of the pitching load for the Rummel High School team that went 22-2 for the season, including 19 consecutive wins. Ken was named to the All-District team.

Ken split his summer between the Schaff Legion team and the JPRD East Bank Babe Ruth 13-15 team. The East Bank team won the State tournament, with Ken being named the MVP.

Behind a strong hitting team and the pitching of Zibilich, Vince DeGrouttola, and Ken, Schaff advanced all the way to the American Legion World Series in Roseberg, Oregon, where they finished fourth. The team ended with a 30-4 record, including 27 consecutive wins.

Ken has nothing but high praise for that year’s teammates. He said, “I was the luckiest man in the world playing for the Rummel teams with the type of hitters we had.

In 1975 Ken was an All-City and All-State performer for Rummel High School and a Legion All-District selection for Schaff. Among his highlights that season were a no-hitter against Holy Cross in prep and a no-hitter in the Legion South Louisiana tournament.

Ken repeated as an All-City and All-State selection for Rummel in 1976. He pitched an opening day no-hitter against Brother Martin on the way to Rummel making it to the State prep quarterfinals.

Later that summer, Coach Larry Schneider’s Schaff Legion team returned to the World Series being played in Manchester, New Hampshire. Ken lost the opening game but came back in relief in Schaff’s Game 2 victory. However, Schaff finished fourth again, with Ken’s teammate Gus Malespin named the American Legion Player of the Year.

In the long history of New Orleans-based teams who played in the American Legion World Series, Ken is one of only a handful of players to compete in two World Series.

When asked if his brother Wayne had any advice for him during his early career, Ken said, “He taught me how to play the game, how to play with respect and class, and to never show your emotion on the field. That advice served me well.”

Ken followed in his brother’s footsteps to Tulane on an athletic scholarship, playing his freshman season in 1977. Coached by Joe Brockhoff, the Green Wave fielded very competitive teams in the Metro Conference. Ken was in the starting rotation during his first two seasons. His junior season in 1979 was one of the best at that point in Tulane baseball history.

Ken led the Metro Conference in wins (13), ERA (1.95), innings pitched (115.3) and strikeouts (104), as Tulane finished 35-13. They won the Metro Conference Tournament, with Ken being named the MVP. The Green Wave made their first-ever appearance in an NCAA Regional tournament. Ken was an All-Conference player and named the Metro Conference Player of the Year. He finished his career with a 26-9 record, 3.59 ERA, and 212 strikeouts. Over 40 years later, he remains on Tulane’s list of Top 10 all-time pitchers in several pitching categories.

Wayne makes a special point about the type of pitcher his brother was. He said, “Ken was a very successful pitcher, but we have to remember he didn’t throw hard.” Ken acknowledges he kept batters off balance by feeding them a steady diet of curveballs, with some mid-80s fastballs mixed in. He added, “I wasn’t afraid to throw my curve on a 3-and-0 count.”

Ken followed Wayne once again, this time into professional baseball. He was drafted in the 16th round by the Minnesota Twins in June 1979. He was used as a reliever during his first two season with Class A Wisconsin Rapids in the Midwest League.

He went to spring training with the big-league Twins in 1981. He got into one spring game against the Detroit Tigers. He remembers getting Tigers manager Sparky Anderson’s autograph after the game.

Ken was sent to Visalia of the California League, where he had one of his best minor-league outings. In a game against Modesto, he came in to relieve with one out in the sixth inning and proceeded to retire 23 consecutive batters without yielding a hit or walk and striking out 11. Visalia won the game after four runs in the 13th inning. However, Ken left the team in early July in a dispute with the Twins organization over his infrequent use.

Wayne and Ken actually got to play in a baseball game together, years after both were out of baseball. Rags Scheuermann’s All-American League all-stars played an exhibition game against a team of former All-Am players that included the brothers.

Both brothers had successful careers after hanging up their spikes. Wayne is an insurance executive in the New Orleans area, while Ken has been a teacher for 41 years, 38 of which he also served as baseball coach.

They are among the most notable baseball brothers in the city, joining the likes of the Gilberts, Yochims, Staubs, Cabeceirases, Cuntzes, Bullingers, Hrapmanns, and Migliores, just to name a few.

Black History Month: Game 4 of 1948 Negro League World Series played in New Orleans

In 1948 the Homestead Grays and Birmingham Black Barons opposed each other in what turned out to be the last Negro League World Series. After the first three games of the Series were played in Kansas City (September 26) and Birmingham (September 29 and 30), Game 4 was unexpectedly played in New Orleans.

With the Grays leading the Series, 2-1, the fourth game was scheduled to be played in Birmingham, too. However, the Birmingham Barons, a minor-league team in the Southern Association, was in the midst of their own postseason playoff and took precedence over the Black Barons for the use of Rickwood Field, which was the usual home field of the Barons.

Negro League teams were used to playing in ballparks other than their own. They often moved around to different cities to showcase their talents. So, the shift to New Orleans wasn’t all that odd for the times. The Black Barons’ team officials and a large number of their fans trekked to New Orleans to support their team.

Piper Davis and Artie Wilson were the offensive stars for the Black Barons. 17-year-old Willie Mays, a native of Birmingham who was still in high school, played 13 games for them. He was instrumental, both offensively and defensively, in the Black Barons’ win in Game 3. Luke Easter, Buck Leonard, Sam Bankhead, and Bob Thurman led the Grays to a 42-23 record during the regular season.

Game 4 was played on October 3 in New Orleans’ Pelican Stadium. Negro League teams based in New Orleans over the years often played their home games in the stadium when the minor-league Pelicans played out of town.

Wilmer Fields was Homestead’s starting pitcher, while Bill Greason took the mound for the Black Barons.

It turned out to be blowout game for the Grays, who won, 14-1. They took an early lead with four runs in the second inning and five in the fourth. Grays’ outfielder Luke Easter, a future major-leaguer with the Cleveland Indians, hit a grand slam to account for four runs in the fourth frame. The Grays piled on more runs with three in the fifth inning and two more in the eighth.

Altogether, the Grays pounded four pitchers for 19 hits. Fields held the Black Barons to seven hits and one run, in the fourth inning.

The World Series returned to Birmingham for Game 5 on October 5. With the game tied, 6-6, in the top of the ninth, the Grays scored four tallies to win the game and the Series.

New Orleans newspapers didn’t cover Game 4 played in the city. Black-owned newspapers around the country carried an account of the game several days later.

Jackie Robinson’s breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers marked the beginning of the end of the Negro Leagues. Black players sought every opportunity to follow in Robinson’s footsteps for a roster spot in Organized Baseball. The major-league teams were slow to integrate, so many of the Black players began to populate minor-league rosters in 1948.

After the 1948 season, the Negro National League disbanded, ending the need for a World Series. The Negro American League continued to play through 1950 before disbanding.

Flashback: Tad Gormley Stadium home to New Orleans Pelicans baseball team in 1958-59

When New Orleanians think of Tad Gormley Stadium they usually don’t think “baseball.” It’s more likely they attended football, soccer, or track and field events there.

Yet the stadium, then known as City Park Stadium, was transformed into the home baseball field of the minor-league New Orleans Pelicans for the 1958 and 1959 seasons.

The Pelicans played their last game on their long-time home diamond at Pelican Stadium in 1957. With the team deep in debt at the end of the season, the stadium at the corner of Tulane and Carrollton avenues was razed. In an effort to retain the team, the city decided to allow use of City Park Stadium, which was met with resistance from nearby property owners who filed a lawsuit against the Pelicans. Others argued the facility was intended for the use by the city’s youth, not professional sports. However, the court judged in favor of the Pelicans, with the organization promising not to damage or destroy any of the physical beauty of the stadium.

Since City Park Stadium had been built during the Depression years to only support football and track and field events, modifications were required to convert it into a baseball venue. Pelicans general manager Vincent Rizzo and his engineers took a similar approach to the way in which the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was temporarily adapted for major-league baseball, after the Los Angeles Dodgers moved from Brooklyn after the 1957 season.

City Park Stadium’s outfield dimensions from home plate ended up being 254 feet in left field, 320 in right field, 380 feet in center field and right-center, and 360 in left-center. To compensate for the unusually short left-field fence, a 50-foot high screen was placed in left field for 25 yards. A lower fence encircled the rest of the outfield. 400 floodlights were added to the existing lighting system, and 4,000 arm and back-rest type seats were installed.

The Pelicans were slated to be the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees for the second straight year.

The road to get the modified stadium ready for the 1958 regular season was rocky. It took until March 4 for the Pelicans organization to produce $50,000 required by its Board of Directors to start the season. The Yankees threatened to revoke its affiliation because of the Pelicans’ tardiness in getting its financial house in order. On March 8, New Orleans Mayor Chep Morrison finally secured the pact with the Yankees. The Pelicans had only five weeks to make the changes to the stadium.

Charlie Silvera, who was a catcher with the Yankees for nine seasons, was named the player-manager. First baseman Frank Leja, an $80,000 bonus baby, was assigned to the team. Outfielder Jack Reed, a former football and baseball player at Ole Miss, came to New Orleans, along with outfielders Ken Hunt and Russ Snyder, who were held over from the 1957 Pels. Pitcher Robert Riesener, who went 20-0 with Class C Alexandria (Evangeline League) and also saw action in two games with the Pels in 1957, returned in 1958.

After three road games opening the season at Mobile on April 11-13, the first game in City Park Stadium was scheduled for April 14 against the Bears in a five-game series. The stadium work was finished on time, except for a portion of the lighting.

Due to rain, the home opener was pushed back to the next day. The Pelicans lost to Mobile, 6-0, before 5,531 fans. The stadium’s new lights got rave reviews, even though three of six new light standards had yet to been installed.

Right-handed batters took advantage of the short left field fence, with the Pelicans getting their share of home runs. Balls hit into the left field fence extension turned into automatic singles or, in some cases, doubles. Encouraged by his team’s early slugging sprees, Rizzo said, “This park could win a pennant for us.”

The Pels’ offense posted a respectable slash line of .273/.359/.434. for the season. With the benefit of the relatively short fences, the team hit 180 home runs, compared to only 60 the season before. Ken Hunt and Frank Leja led the team with 29 each.

But Rizzo couldn’t have been more wrong about winning a pennant. The team finished last in the Southern Association standings with a 57-94 record. Attendance for the season was a meager 50,369, which was an average of less than 700 per game. In retrospect, the high attendance at the first game in April was likely attributed to the fans’ curiosity to see the new stadium.

In 1959 former Boston Red Sox pitcher Mel Parnell, a native New Orleanian, became the Pels’ manager. Two other former big-leaguers from New Orleans, Tookie Gilbert and Jack Kramer, were activated as players to boost attendance. The Pelicans improved to sixth place in the league, posting a 68-81 record. But the team continued to struggle financially and was moved to Little Rock in 1960. The last baseball game in City Park Stadium was played on September 7, 1959.

According to Pie Dufour’s April 15, 1958, column in the New Orleans States, City Park Stadium was the fifth ballpark in the Pelicans’ 72-year history.

City Park Stadium was officially renamed Tad Gormley Stadium in December 1965, shortly after Gormley’s death.

Hammond native Benny Latino embraces change as long-time MLB scout

Benny Latino knows baseball talent. In fact, he knows so much that major-league teams have used his ability as a scout to identify and evaluate amateur baseball players for over 25 years. And it’s his ability to adapt to change that has kept him a valuable asset in the baseball industry.

A native of Hammond, Louisiana, Latino said he was attending a local high school game in 1995 when he off-handedly offered some comments to baseball scouts, who were in attendance, about a couple of players he thought were better than the player the scouts had come to see. The scouts took Latino’s recommendation to watch these other players and determined he was correct in his assessment.

The Rangers ended up offering him a part-time job to scout players in Southeast Louisiana. He worked with scouts Bill Schmidt and Doug Gassaway, whom Latino credits with teaching him the ropes of baseball scouting. When Gassaway moved to the Tampa Bay Rays, he took Latino with him.

Latino is currently a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers, with responsibilities to evaluate amateur players in Louisiana, Mississippi, and southern Alabama. Prior to taking the Dodgers job in 2021, he had scouted for the New York Mets, and Florida Marlins, in addition to the Rangers and Rays. He has also held assignments as a professional scout, evaluating players already in the pros, and as an international scout finding prospects in the Dominican Republic.

The game of baseball has seen many changes in recent years, and scouting has had to change along with it. Latino said, “The tools of the major-league scout used to be a stopwatch, a radar gun, and a notepad.” He added, “Nowadays, the tools involve the use of sophisticated video viewing capability, web conferencing, social media, and a laptop.” He said the hardest part of his job is the information gathering on the players. He said, “Sometimes it’s overwhelming.” Despite all the latest technology available today, Latino maintained, “You still can’t judge a player’s work ethic without watching and talking to the player.”

For the past two years, Major League Baseball has reduced the number of amateur player draft rounds to 20, where it was formerly 40 or more. Part of the reason is attributed to MLB forcing 25 percent fewer affiliated minor-league teams two years ago, thus requiring fewer players. Latino believes it has resulted in a situation where some amateur players are missing out on getting the opportunity for a professional career. He noted, “Look at how many players in the past were drafted in round 21 or higher and advanced to the majors.” A prime example is Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza, who was a 62nd round draft pick in 1988.

Latino said many of the better amateur players today are not attending high school. This is especially true in Florida, Georgia, Texas, and California. Instead, they are enrolling in baseball academies, where they can focus on improving their baseball skills for a chance to play professionally. They attend classes a few hours a day at the academies, or are home-schooled, and then spend the rest of their day training.

Latino said that “select” or “travel” teams are great for the sport because they provide a high level of competition for aspiring players. But it has reduced the pool of potential college and professional players, especially among African Americans. Colleges are providing a higher percentage of professional players, while high schools are experiencing reductions.

The changes in the sources of prospects have affected some aspects of how Latino does his job. He previously spent more time at the grass-roots level, making connections with coaches and watching the players in person. The technology being used to capture information about prospects has also had an impact.

The availability of technology and the situation with fewer minor-league teams have caused some major-league clubs to downsize their scouting staff. Latino says the Dodgers took a balanced approach instead. They combined the efficiency and objectivity of a data-driven approach with supplemental in-person evaluations by their existing cadre of scouts.

Latino said baseball players as young as 12 and 13 years old are being tracked by major-league scouts.

Latino has signed between 280 and 300 prospects over his career. 29 of them have made it to the majors. They include some names familiar to New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana.

Chad Gaudin, whom Latino called the “ultimate warrior,” prepped at Crescent City Baptist in New Orleans and played in 11 major-league seasons during 2003 and 2013. He was a 36th round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2001.

Joey Gathright, also drafted by the Rays in 2001, prepped at Bonnabel. Latino said Gathright was the one of the fastest players in the city. He played in seven major-league seasons from 2004 and 2011.

Reid Brignac was an outstanding prep player at St. Amant High School. He was a second-round pick of the Rays in 2004. He played in nine major-league seasons from 2008 to 2016. Brignac is currently a manager in the New York Mets organization.

Drew Avans, a Southeastern Louisiana product, was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 33rd round in 2018. He had an excellent season at the Triple-A level in 2022, at one point with 43 consecutive games getting on base.

One of Latino’s oddest finds drew national attention in 2001. Greg Nash was a raw talent from Gonzales, Louisiana, whom Latino discovered in 2000 playing in the local Sugar Cane League with 30- and 40-year- olds. Nicknamed “Toe” because of his size 18 shoe, Nash was six-foot-six and weighed 215 pounds. Latino had never forgotten he had seen a big kid play in the area six years earlier as a little-leaguer. It turned out that kid was Nash.

Nash, at 18 years old, was a switch-hitter that could hit 400-foot bombs from both sides, and as a pitcher he could throw in the 90s. Since he hadn’t gone to school since seventh or eighth grade, he had flown under the radar as a baseball prospect. According to Peter Gammons’s article for in 2001, Latino said, “I couldn’t believe what I saw--he was The Natural.”

Latino signed Nash to a contract with Tampa Bay for $30,000. Since he had never received any formal coaching, Nash was sent to the Rays’ Instructional League in Tampa to help refine his skills. He played in the outfield alongside future MLB All-Stars Josh Hamilton and Carl Crawford, according to Gammons’s article.

Nash played well in the 2001 season in the Appalachian (rookie) League for Tampa Bay affiliate Princeton. But after one season, he was out of baseball due to personal issues.

Latino said recently, “Nash had the most God-given talent of any player I’ve seen. He had the body type of a Dave Winfield, but he was raw.” Latino added, “Remember, Nash did not play organized baseball from age 13 to 18, but there he was, having a credible professional debut season.”

Latino says the best part about his profession are the relationships he’s built with players, coaches, and other scouts over the years. He said, “I’ve gotten to travel all across the country. I’ve probably been to every minor-league ballpark. Along the way, I’ve met some of the best people in the game.


Flashback: Former World Series-winning manager Danny Murtaugh got his experience with New Orleans Pelicans

Danny Murtaugh got his first opportunity as a minor-league manager with the New Orleans Pelicans in 1952. He leveraged his three seasons with the Pels into becoming the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1957, his first of 15 seasons.

Just three seasons later, Murtaugh’s Pirates shocked the baseball world with a dramatic Game 7 victory over the New York Yankees in the 1960 World Series. It was the Pirates’ first World Series championship since 1925. He led the Pirates to another world championship in 1971. Considering the Pirates have won only five World Series in their 135-year National League history, Murtaugh is regarded one of the all-time best managers in team history.

As a player, Murtaugh began his professional career as a 19-year-old in 1937 in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. The infielder made his major-league debut with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1941 and spent two more seasons with them before being called into military service in 1944 and 1945 during World War II. For the most part, he had an undistinguished career as a player.

He was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1948, when he had his best major-league season, finishing ninth in MVP voting. After a poor season in 1951 with the Pirates, he approached Pirates GM Branch Rickey about a managerial job in New Orleans, then a Pirates affiliate.

At 34-years-old, Murtaugh became player-manager for New Orleans in 1952. In that era, it was rare that a person’s first job as manager would occur at the Double-A level. The Pels finished with an 80-75 record for fifth place in the Southern Association. Frank Thomas, a future big-league player with the Pirates, was the best player on the Pels team, with a league-leading 35 home runs, 131 RBIs, and 112 runs scored. Lefty pitcher Lenny Yochim, a New Orleans native who prepped at Holy Cross, fashioned a 12-8 record. Murtaugh appeared in 55 games as a player, with a .212 batting average.

The Pelicans posted a 76-78 record in 1953 for sixth place, followed by an impressive second-place finish in 1954 with a 92-62 record. The 1954 Pelicans included several players who later played for Murtaugh in the majors—Roy Face, Gene Freese, Danny Kravitz, Hardy Peterson, and Nelson King.

Murtaugh was promoted to a coaching position with Pittsburgh in 1956. After Bobby Bragan was fired as manager after 103 games in 1957, Murtaugh was elevated to manager. In his first full season as skipper in 1958, he was named the Associated Press Manager of the Year.

Murtaugh brought respectability back to the Pirates. They won the NL pennant in 1960, their first since 1927, and went on to face the favored New York Yankees in the World Series. The Yankees heavily outscored the Pirates, 38-3, in their three wins, while the Pirates barely skipped by the Bronx Bombers in each of their first three wins. In Game 7, the Pirates came from behind to defeat the Yankees on Bill Mazeroski’s dramatic walk-off home run off Ralph Terry.

Murtaugh walked away from the game as Pirates manager on three occasions, due to health problems. He took front office jobs instead, but each time was convinced by Pirates GM Joe L. Brown to pick up the managerial reins again.

After his second return in 1970, the Pirates won their division, as he was named the NL Manager of the Year for the second time. They won the NL pennant again in 1971 and went on to defeat the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series.

He was absent from the dugout again during the 1972 season and most of 1973.

Following his third return as manager late in the 1973 season, he won two more division titles before finally retiring after the 1976 season. He died from complications of a stroke on December2, 1976, at age 59.

His 15-year MLB career managerial record was 1,115-950. He is second only to Fred Clarke in career wins by a Pirates manager. His number 40 was retired by the organization in 1977.

In addition to Murtaugh, former Pelicans personnel who went on to the big-league Pirates in various capacities included: Joe L. Brown, general manager; Joseph O’Toole, assistant GM; and Lenny Yochim, a scout for over 36 years.

Are the Astros the latest "dynasty" team?

The Houston Astros won only 51 games in 2013, finishing last in the AL West Division. In the two seasons before that, the team won only 55 and 56 games, while in the NL Central Division. They rightfully acquired the label L’Astros. But now, after four World Series appearances in the last six seasons that includes two world championships, the Astros’ impressive run has raised legitimate questions about being regarded as the latest dynasty team in the majors.

Before I delve further into that question, let’s review some Astros history.

The team sunk to low division standings in the early 2010s when ownership decided to overhaul the team, following a long period of mediocrity after their first World Series appearance in 2005. Key players like Lance Berkman, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Roy Oswalt, Carlos Lee, and Hunter Pence had retired or were traded.

The team took a long-term view for rebuilding the roster. Their front office acknowledged they would struggle for several years while building up its minor-league system, in order to be competitive again.

The Astros finally shed its identify as “losers”in 2015, when they finished second in the division and made their first postseason appearance since 2005. Actually, the team had surpassed its own expectations for when they would become a contender again. Youngsters like Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Marwin Gonzalez, Dallas Keuchel, and Lance McCullers Jr. began to emerge as leading players.

The Astros’ plan reached fulfillment in 2017 when they improved by 17 wins over the previous season and went on to capture the World Series. Newcomers Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel broke into the starting lineup, while veteran pitchers Charlie Morton, Joe Musgrove, and Mike Fiers, acquired through trades and free agency, shored up the starting rotation.

The Astros loaded up with free-agent gunslingers Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke in the starting rotation, but lost the World Series in 2019 to Washington and 2021 to Atlanta before reclaiming the championship last year.

The Astros’ good fortunes, beginning in 2017 and beyond, can be largely attributed to Jeff Luhnow who joined the Astros as general manager at the beginning of the 2012 season. He focused on domestic amateur scouting and international scouting to re-stock the minor-league system.

Baseball America magazine’s ranking of the Astros’ organizational talent saw a dramatic turnaround from 26th (out of 30 MLB teams) in 2011 and 29th in 2012, to 4th in 2017, 11th in 2018, and 5th in 2019.

The 2022 team was the manifestation of the organization’s successful scouting and player development activities. Seven of the Astros’ starters (position players) came up through their system, the latest being Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker and Jeremy Pena. While McCullers had emerged through the amateur draft, five of their other key pitchers were the result of international player signings.

Now, back to the discussion about an Astros dynasty.

The dynasty label usually refers to teams that win multiple, often consecutive, World Series within a relatively close timeframe. The New York Yankees franchise is most often referred to as the standard for dynasties. Over its legendary history, the Yankees had several dynasty periods (1921-1928, 1936-1942 and 1947-1964, 1976-1981, and 1996-2003). The Philadelphia A’s (1910-1914 and 1929-1931), St, Louis Cardinals (1926-1934 and 1942-1946), Oakland A’s (1972-1974), and Cincinnati Reds (1970-1976) are examples of other noteworthy dynasties.

The Astros have been one of the most dominant teams during the last six seasons, winning their division five times. They won more than 100 games in four of those six seasons, which is an understated feat these days. An argument can be made that the AL West Division has been one of the weakest in all of baseball. Yet the Astros managed to win the AL pennant in four of those seasons.

One of the keys to their success has been a core group of players who have contributed throughout the Astros’ run. Verlander, the 2022 AL Cy Young Award winner, opted to sign with the Yankees in the offseason, but the rest of their key players have stayed intact for 2023. Two off-season transactions will strengthen their offense this year: Chicago White Sox slugger Jose Abreu was acquired in the free market by the Astros, and outfielder Michael Brantley (a .300+ hitter) was re-signed after spending most of 2022 on the Injured List.

Another World Series ring in 2023 would definitely put the Astros in the dynasty conversation. But the odds are against them accomplishing that. The Yankees were the last team to win back-to-back World Series in 1998, 1999, and 2000.

Another factor that could affect future opportunities for the Astros extending their dynastic ways involves the strength of the Astros’ farm system. Luhnow left the Astros after the 2019 season because the 2017 Astros’ sign-stealing scandal occurred under his watch as general manager. Since his departure, the Astros’ strength of organization has declined to 27th in 2020, 26th in 2021, and 26th in 2022.

It's not likely Houston will return to its L’Astros days any time soon, but are they a dynasty team? The Sporting News rates them the odds-on favorite right now to win the 2023 World Series. Perhaps we can re-visit this discussion in November.

Certainty is absent among candidates in this year's Hall of Fame balloting

Baseball Hall of Fame ballots for the Hall’s Class of 2023 were due from the baseball writers last Friday. While there are always numerous carryover candidates from the previous year, it seems like the writers are being afforded a clean slate with their ballots this time.

That’s because the writers don’t have to consider four controversial players for the first time in ten years of balloting. Last year Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and Curt Schilling reached their tenth year without ever receiving the required minimum of 75% of the votes for election. Consequently, they are removed from the ballot this year, according to the Hall’s voting rules.

Furthermore, there are no sure-fire electees on this year’s ballot.

While it was apparent the voters remained steadfast in rejecting real or perceived PED users (Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, and Alex Rodriguez) from being elected, it was a bit ironic that they elected David Ortiz, who once failed an MLB-administered drug test, on his first time on the ballot.

Schilling was seemingly on a path to enshrinement (receiving 71.1% in the Class of 2021) until he publicly expressed damaging social and political views the following year. It was a clear signal that voters considered him unworthy of election because of character issues, even though they occurred after his playing career.

As will be discussed later, the PED and character issues have not totally gone away with some of remaining candidates on this year’s ballot.

The Tenth Inning readers, who have followed me for several years, know I annually cast my own mythical Hall of Fame ballot. It’s a fun exercise even though it counts for nothing.

With Clemens, Bonds and Schilling off the ballot and the election of Ortiz last year, there are more open spots for new candidates on the ballot or re-consideration of carryover candidates. The problem I had was coming up with enough candidates who are truly Hall of Fame worthy, versus players who more rightly fit into the category of Hall of “Very Good.”

But I’ve always been of the mindset that I should fill all ten ballot slots with the ten best eligible players, even if I think a player is marginally worthy of Hall induction. Of course, that means I may not vote for one or more of them in future years if a better player becomes eligible.

So, here are my ten for this year: carryovers Scott Rolen, Todd Helton, Billy Wagner, Andruw Jones, Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez, Jeff Kent, and Manny Ramirez; and newly eligible Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez. That means I’m leaving out Omar Vizquel, Andy Pettitte, Jimmy Rollins, Bobby Abreu, Mark Buehrle, and Torii Hunter.

I’ll admit I haven’t always been steadfast in prior years in voting for Rolen, Wagner, Jones, Vizquel, and Kent. When I think of them, I don’t view them in the same light as contemporary players who did make the Hall of Fame, such as Chipper Jones, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Larry Walker, and Vlad Guerrero

My arguments for first-timers Beltran and reliever Rodriguez are as follows:

Beltran was a nine-time All-Star, a three-time Gold Glove winner, and a two-time Silver Slugger winner. He appeared in seven postseasons (with five different teams), including the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros. His post-season batting line is impressive --.307/.412/.609, with 16 home runs and 42 RBIs. He is 47th all-time in home runs (435) and 41st in RBIs (1,587). The main knock against him is that his OPS+ is only 119.

Rodriguez is fourth on the all-time list for saves (437), finishing first in three seasons. He finished in the Top 4 for Cy Young honors in three seasons. (Note: relievers rarely win the Cy Young Award.) He was a six-time all-star. Rodriguez posted a career 2.86 ERA and 1.155 WHIP and helped the Angels win their last World Series in 2002. His career ERA+ was 148.

Here’s why I passed on some of the eligible players.

Having voted for Vizquel in the past, I have now jumped off his bandwagon. While his defensive skills were among the best of shortstops in his era (11 Gold Gloves), he was a below-average hitter for offensive impact (only 82 OPS+). Of his 2,877 career hits, accumulated over 24 seasons, 80% were singles. In my view, a Hall of Fame position player should at least be an average hitter (100 OPS+), even if he was a defensive wizard.

Bobby Abreu is gaining increasing public support for election. He was an On-Base-Percentage (OBP) “machine,” but he doesn’t have black ink on (indicating a league leader) in any significant offensive category throughout his 18-year career. He never finished higher than 12th in MVP voting.

Even though Andy Pettitte had 256 career wins, his career ERA was 3.85 and his WHIP was 1.351, not the kind of numbers for a pitcher who was among the best of his era. It appears his higher Cy Young Award finishes were largely based on number of wins, which is now generally acknowledged as not the main factor for winning the award. (One year he finished fourth with a terrible 4.25 ERA.) Tommy John and Jim Kaat had 280+ career wins but were not elected by the baseball writers for similar reasons as Pettitte. (Kaat was later elected by a “veterans” committee.

Jimmy Rollins is another player who had a below average OPS+ (95). Speed was one his main assets, as he led the league in triples in four seasons and had 12 seasons in which he was a Top 10 finisher in stolen bases. His most significant achievement was the National League MVP Award in 2007, when he narrowly edged out Matt Holliday by 17 points. It was a career year for Rollins, yet he was the seventh-ranked player (6.1) in the voting that year based on WAR. Albert Pujols led the NL with 8.7 WAR.

As I mentioned earlier, the specter of PEDs and character issues still hovers over this year’s balloting. A-Rod sat out the 2014 season due to his suspension for admitted PED usage. Sheffield was implicated in the 2007 Mitchell Report on steroid use in MLB. Ramirez was suspended twice for violating the MLB’s drug policy. They aren’t likely to gain any more support than Bonds or Clemens. Vizquel still suffers from allegations of domestic abuse and sexual harassment.

There’s not a player in the entire eligible list who is a shoo-in for election this year. My sense is that if any of the candidates are elected this year, it will be Rolen who had 63.2% of the votes in last year’s balloting. Helton had 52.0%, but it would be uncommon for him to see an increase of almost 25 percent in one year.

All-time baseball team featuring Christmas holiday names

Let’s put aside free agency, Hall of Fame candidates, pre-season predictions, and other essential topics of the Hot Stove season for a week.  All of them will still be around for us to debate after the first of the year.

The Christmas season is a time to have some fun, so I’ve come up with an all-time baseball team of major-league players whose names fit with a Christmas holiday theme.  Here’s a bit of background on each player of this eclectic team.

Starting Pitcher – Ervin Santana.  Okay, his last name isn’t exactly “Santa,” but it’s close enough.  Regardless, Santana wasn’t delivering any presents to the Cleveland Indians on July 11, 2007, when he threw a no-hitter.  The two-time all-star has won 151 major-league career games through 2021.

Relief Pitcher – Clay Carroll.  Carroll had a lot to sing about as a member of the Cincinnati Reds “Big Red Machine.”  They won three National League pennants in the 1970s, including a World Series ring in 1975.  The two-time all-star posted an impressive 2.94 ERA during his 15-year career.

Catcher – Steve Christmas.  Of course, Christmas has the ultimate holiday celebration name.  But it’s too bad he wasn’t able to celebrate more on the playing field.  In 24 major-league games scattered over three seasons, Christmas batted a paltry .162.

First Base – J. T Snow.  J. T. Snow covered first base for the San Francisco Giants as effectively as a wintry snow covers the ground at Grandma’s house during the holidays.  He was a Gold Glove Award winner for six consecutive seasons while playing for the California Angels and the Giants.  Snow’s father, Jack, played 11 seasons the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.

Second Base – Cookie Lavagetto.  Lavagetto is best known as the hitter who broke up Bill Bevens’s no-hitter in Game 4 of the 1947 World Series.  His all-star career was interrupted by four years of military service during World War II.  If his family made cookies for the Christmas holidays, they would surely have been an Italian-style treat.

Third Base – Gene Freese.  Freese had the best season of his 12-year career in 1961.  He helped the Cincinnati Reds put a December-type “freeze” on the Los Angeles Dodgers’ attempt to overtake them for first place during the final two months of the season.  It was the Reds’ first National League pennant since 1940.

Shortstop – Billy Klaus.  Had Santa Claus also been a major-league player, he probably would have hit better than Klaus.  Klaus was a weak-hitting shortstop with only 40 home runs and 250 RBI in 11 major-league seasons.  Billy’s brother, Bobby, also played in the majors, and he didn’t hit much either.

Outfielder – Candy Maldonado.  Maldonado helped to make sure his 1992 Toronto Blue Jays teammates’ Christmas stockings were filled with World Series candy (playoff shares), as he hit three post-season home runs in the Blue Jays’ first World Championship.

Outfielder – Jesus Alou.  Alou was no savior for his major-league teams, as he hit only 32 home runs in 15 big-league seasons.  He is best known for having been part of the first trio of brothers to play in the same major-league game, while with the San Francisco Giants in 1963.

Outfielder – Gift Ngoepe.  Ngoepe’s name isn’t a nickname; it’s actually part of his given name.  He is South Africa’s “gift” to baseball, since he’s the only major-league player in history born in that country.  The Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder made his debut in 2017. His brother Victor played in the Pirates organization for four seasons.

DH – Rob Deer.  Deer is the closest name to “reindeer” I could find.  He made some appearances as a designated hitter, although he was primarily used as an outfielder and first baseman.  He managed to “rain” on opponents’ parades many times during his 11-year career, as he hit 230 career home runs.  But he also led the American League in strikeouts four times during 1984-1996.

Pinch-hitter – Turkey Tyson.  Unlike Ngoepe, Tyson’s real name was Cecil Washington, but he was known by “Turkey” during his professional career.  However, his only major-league appearance was as a pinch-hitter in 1944.  The 29-year-old got his “cup of coffee” in the big leagues when there was a shortage of players during World War II.

Manager – Charlie Dressen.  You can’t have turkey without the dressing for Christmas dinner, so Charlie Dressen is the closest name I could come up.  He played eight seasons in the majors, but it was as a manager that he made his mark.  He was the skipper of five different teams over 16 seasons between 1934 and 1966.  His teams won over 1,000 games, and his Brooklyn Dodgers captured two National League pennants in the 1950s.

Merry Christmas to all.

Baseball's Family Ties Still Flourishing in 2022

I just completed the annual update of my Family Ties database for the 2022 season, and I’m happy to report family relationships remain noteworthy throughout the major and minor leagues.

My process for applying updates involves reading all the major-league media guides for the 2022 season to identify new players and “non-players” (e. g., managers, coaches, scouts, executives, front office personnel, broadcasters, etc.) who have relatives in professional baseball, as well as other sports. The other major source of inputs comes from daily Google alerts based on search criteria such as “family ties,” “father and son baseball relatives,” and “brother baseball relatives.”

This information is then entered into my database that now has over 8, 700 major-league and minor-league players and non-players, representing over 12,700 family relationships within professional baseball. The database contains entries going back to 1870, the beginning of professional baseball leagues.

I am not aware of another comprehensive compilation of this type of information in a digital format. Sure, there are subsets of baseball relatives information on various websites, mostly pertaining to major-league players. However, none have coverage that includes minor-league players, major-league non-players, or family relationships in addition to fathers, sons, and brothers. (My database also includes uncles, nephews, cousins, daughters, in-laws, grandsons, grandfathers and distant relatives.)

My Baseball Relatives website, which hosts the current season’s Family Ties Database, gets thousands of views and downloads each month. I believe my database has become the “go-to” on-line source of family ties information for many baseball researchers and followers.

For the 2022 season, there were 621 active players and 670 non-players with relatives in professional baseball. The numbers are similar to the 2021 season even though there were 25% fewer minor-league teams this year due to MLB’s restricting of the minor-league system. This was mostly offset by an increase in players in independent (unaffiliated) leagues.

Click here to view the Family Ties database for the 2022 season.

Following are some of the familial highlights from this season.

There are several current players with a large number of baseball family participants, such as the Hairstons, Roofs, Pacioreks, and Alous, covering several generations. One of the more recent families involves current Atlanta Braves superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. His grandfather, father, two brothers, and several cousins played in the minors. The Acunas are an example of multiple generations becoming more prevalent in the game.

In broadcasting, legendary announcer Harry Caray has two great-grandsons that made their debuts behind the mike in 2022. Twin brothers Stephan and Chris Caray (son of Chip Caray and grandson of Skip Caray), called games for a minor-league team in the Arizona Diamondback organizations. They’ll eventually make their way to major-league ballparks.

In the Minnesota Twins front office, Drew MacPhail is the fourth generation of his family of baseball executives. His father Andy was an executive with the Cubs, Twins, Orioles, and Phillies. His grandfather Lee MacPhail Jr. and great-grandfather Larry MacPhail are both in the Baseball Hall of Fame for their careers as baseball executives covering four decades.

Jake Boone, an infielder currently playing in the independent leagues, is the fourth generation of players in his family. His great-grandfather Ray Boone, grandfather Bob Boone, father Aaron Boone, and uncle Bret Boone were All-Stars at times in their respective careers. If Jake makes the majors, the Boone family would become the first in baseball history to have four generations of big-leaguers.

Kody Clemens, an infielder with the Detroit Tigers, is the first of three sons of former major-league pitcher Roger Clemens to reach the majors. Roger’s two older sons, Kobe and Kacy, didn’t make it out of the minors. Kody had a special moment this year when he followed in his father’s footsteps by pitching in relief for the Tigers in a blowout game, even recording a strikeout. Roger was a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, striking out 4,672 batters (third all-time) during his career.

Twin brothers Tyler and Taylor Rogers pitched in a game against each other this year. They are only the tenth set of twins to play in the majors.

Brothers William (Braves) and Willson Contreras (Cubs) started for the National League All-Star team this summer, becoming only the fifth set of siblings to start together in the Midsummer Classic.

Brothers Aaron and Austin Nola played against each other in the National League Division Series this Fall. Aaron pitched for the Phillies, while Austin was the Padres catcher. They became the first brothers to face each other as pitcher and batter in MLB post-season history.

Infielder Bobby Witt Jr. made his major-league debut with the Kansas City Royals in April. He was the Royals’ first-round pick (second overall) in 2019. His father Bobby Witt Sr., who pitched in the majors for 16 seasons, was the first-round pick (third overall) of the Texas Rangers in 1985.

Another dimension of my Family Ties Database is the identification of players and non-players that have relatives in another sport (football, basketball, hockey, softball, volleyball, track and field, etc.) or in another level of baseball (amateur, college, Negro Leagues, Foreign Leagues). In 2022, there were 419 such players and non-players. This demonstrates that pro baseball players do not always follow in the same sports footsteps as their fathers, mothers, brothers, or cousins.

The Yankees step up to the plate and ink megadeal with Aaron Judge

I’m glad Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman heeded my blog request at the end of October to “Just do it: sign Aaron Judge.” Cashman, who just extended his own contract with the Yankees for four years, had to practically empty the Steinbrenners’ coffer, but it was the right decision.

Judge signed a nine-year deal worth $360 million, eclipsing the previous free-agent record of $330 million by Bryce Harper. His $40 million average annual value is third most behind only Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. If he completes the full term of this contract, Judge will become one of the longest-tenured Yankees (16 seasons) in recent history.

Cashman bucked current MLB front office trends that teams shouldn’t sign long-term deals (more than five or six years) for players who are already 30+ years old. It’s true Judge won’t likely provide commensurate value for the full nine years of the deal. The Athletic’s Keith Law makes the case that tall players like Judge, who is 6-feet-7, aren’t generally productive past 34 years of age.

So, the Yankees could wind up with another situation like Alex Rodriguez, where the last few years of his contract were a drag on the team—his performance didn’t warrant his hefty salary. The Yankees currently hold another long-term, big-dollar deal with Giancarlo Stanton (who is 6-feet-6). He’s had trouble staying healthy and some would argue he’s not worth the $29 million per year he is currently making. His contract extends through 2027, when he is 37 years old. Judge has already had his own share of health issues in 2018 and 2019, causing him to miss over 50 games each season.

Despite the cautions and past experiences, the Yankees took the plunge with Judge. For a while, the rumor mill had Judge going to San Francisco, but the Yankees ended that talk with its mega-offer.

Here’s the way I think the team rationalized their decision. They are desperate for a world championship. Their last one, in 2009, seems like ages ago. If Judge can lead the Yankees to the World Series a couple of times within the next four or five years, they will feel like they got their just return for him. Whatever happens after those four or five years becomes less important.

Judge is certainly capable of carrying the Yankees on this broad shoulders. He proved that in 2022, when the team swooned in August and the first half of September. It was Judge that kept them from completely spiraling out of contention. He finished the season with one of the best offensive performances in history by leading the league in home runs, RBIs, runs scored, walks, on-base percentage, and on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

The 2022 season took its toll on him since he played in 157 games (15 more than any other Yankee) while dealing with the pressure of breaking Maris’s home run record. That manifested itself in the playoffs when Judge went 5-for-36, with 16 strikeouts and only two extra-base hits (both home runs) in nine games.

The Yankees front office could take some of the pressure off Judge next season by adding a top-flight starting pitcher and acquiring a shortstop who can give them some power, in addition to defense. Names like pitcher Carlos Rodon and shortstop Carlos Correa have been mentioned in the press as Yankee pursuits. Will the Yankees continue their spending spree?

Judge had turned down a 7-year, $213 million offer at the beginning of the 2022 season. By waiting until after the season to finally negotiate his deal, he raised his value by $147 million. Not too shabby for a well-timed delay. Of course, his case was helped immensely when he turned in the MVP season and broke Maris’s long-time record.

Judge is capable of repeating his extraordinary 2022 season, but don’t expect it. The Yankees will give him more days off, in order to help him prevent nagging injuries from the day-to-day grind of a long schedule. Plus, if a few of his teammates step up their production, Judge won’t be compelled to carry most of the load by himself.

I’m guessing at some point in the negotiations with Judge that Cashman asked himself, “What would George [Steinbrenner] do?” I think he got the answer he was looking for.

Former "spitballer" Gaylord Perry dies at age 84

Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry died last Thursday at the age of 84. He was a two-time Cy Young Award winner, the first to win the prestigious award in both leagues. Yet he is most famous for throwing the spitball in the modern era of baseball. There were many times he also made batters “think” he was throwing the spitter.

Controversy surrounded him throughout his 22-year career. He was hassled by umpires who tried to catch him greasing his sleeve or the rim of his baseball cap with a substance like Vaseline or K-Y jelly. In his 1974 autobiography Me and the Spitter, Perry confessed to using the illegal pitch, but said he had since been reformed. Or so he claimed. His book caused even more suspicion about his continued use of an occasional spitball in a critical situation.

Perry went on to pitch until he was age 44 in 1983. The first half of his career was relatively stable. He played or the San Francisco Giants for 10 seasons and then with the Cleveland Indians for four seasons. After that, he became a journeyman pitcher, appearing for six more teams during his last eight seasons.

In his autobiography, Perry said he remembered the first time he used the spitter. In a game for the Giants against the New York Mets on May 31, 1964, he was brought in for the 13th inning of the second game of a doubleheader, as one of only two Giants pitchers left in their bullpen.

When the game dragged on with neither team jumping out to a lead, Perry said he was encouraged by his catcher Tom Haller to load up the ball with saliva. He used the illegal pitch frequently to hold the Mets at bay, until the umpire started to suspect foul play. The Giants finally scored two runs in the top of the 23rd inning and ended up winning, 8-6. It was then the longest game in major-league history, seven hours and 23 minutes. Perry got the win after pitching in relief for 10 innings, striking out nine and giving up only seven hits.

Perry said he tried everything for the next eight years to give him an advantage, including the mud ball, the emery ball and the sweat ball, in addition to greasy substances. He said he never bragged about his spitter. When confronted by the media about suspected use, he would tell them his “out” pitch was really a super-sinker.

During that timeframe, Perry averaged 18 wins and 12 losses per season. He was a workhorse, averaging 18 complete games (something unheard of in today’s game) and posted an impressive 2.75 ERA. He won the Cy Young Award in his first season with the Indians in 1972, when he was 24-16 with a 1.92 ERA for the fifth-place Indians.

After Cleveland traded Perry to Texas in June 1975, he continued to have double-digit win seasons even though he was in his late 30s. In 1978 with the San Diego Padres, he posted a 21-6 record and 2.73 ERA to win his second Cy Young Award.

In 1982, while pitching for the Seattle Mariners, he was ejected from a game for using foreign substances. It was the first and only time he was tossed from a game for throwing an illegal pitch. The home plate umpire didn’t even bother to check the ball since he had observed an extreme drop in Perry’s pitch.

Sometimes Perry’s pitched ball was so slick from foreign substances, his catcher would simply walk the ball back to him on the mound for fear he would make an errant throw back to Perry.

Perry’s older brother Jim was also a major-league pitcher from 1959 to 1975, claiming his own Cy Young Award in 1970 with the Minnesota Twins. Together the Perrys trailed only Joe and Phil Niekro for career wins by major-league brothers with 529. The Niekros produced 539 wins.

Gaylord finished his career with 314 wins, 265 losses, a 3.11 ERA, and 3,534 strikeouts (8th all-time). He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on his third ballot in 1991.

Analysis: A retrospective review of Mel Ott's disappointing MVP results

The Yankees’ Aaron Judge and Cardinals’ Paul Goldschmidt were announced as the Most Valuable Player in their respective leagues last week. It was the first selection for both players, who won handily in the voting.

There have been over 80 major leaguers from the New Orleans metro area, but none of them have ever won MLB’s Most Valuable Player Award. Not even Mel Ott, the only Hall of Famer from the area.

Yet a retrospective evaluation of Ott’s career suggests he might have had several MVP trophies to his credit if today’s award voting situation existed during his era.

Ott was one of the premier sluggers of his era, spanning from 1926 to 1947. When the 12-time All-Star retired in 1947, he was the National League’s career leader with 511 home runs. He led the National League in home runs in six seasons. He posted nine seasons with 100+ RBIs, including leading the National League in 1934 with 135. The left-handed hitter led the league in On-Base-Percentage (OBP) four times and topped the league in Adjusted On-Base Plus Slugging Percentage (OPS+) five times.

One would think these kinds of performances should have warranted at least one MVP-season. But it didn’t happen. The closest Ott came to winning the prestigious award was in 1942 when he finished third. He also had fourth-, fifth-, sixth- and seventh-place finishes in the 13 seasons in which he received votes.

Video of Mel Ott:

Before we analyze why Ott fell short in receiving this celebrated honor, let’s review the background on the award.

Members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) vote on the award at the end of each regular season. There are no specific criteria for players being considered for the award. The instructions for voters simply say, “the actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense” should be considered.

That essentially leaves it up to individual voters to apply their own criteria. For many years, players who led their respective league in batting average, home runs, or RBIs received the most consideration. But the voters were sometimes guilty of introducing subjective elements such as player likability and whether the player’s team won the pennant.

Furthermore, before the Cy Young Award was instituted in 1956 to recognize the most outstanding pitcher, they were routinely considered for MVP honors. A pitcher’s number of wins was normally the statistic most considered by voters. Pitchers are not excluded in today’s voting, but they typically don’t receive the same regard as position players, because of the Cy Young.

With the wide acceptance of advanced baseball metrics around 12-15 years ago, Wins Above Replacement (WAR), a metric that produces a single number incorporating elements of both offense and defense, has become the most commonly used statistic (despite some of its flaws) to rank relative values of players.

Now, for a deeper analysis of Ott’ MVP rankings in several of his more productive seasons.


MVP Award Winner

Ott’s Ranking



Rogers Hornsby


Hornsby was clearly the best player (10.5 WAR). Ott had the third highest WAR (7.2) following Lefty O’Doul (7.4), yet he was only ranked 11th in the voting.


Bill Terry

Zero votes received

Ott’s teammate Bill Terry had the highest WAR (6.6) in the league. Ott had the second-highest WAR (6.1) among non-pitchers yet strangely he didn’t receive any votes.


Chuck Klein


Klein led the league in Runs, Hits, Home Runs and Slugging Percentage. Ott had the highest WAR (8.3) in the league, compared with Klein’s 7.5. He was tied with Klein for Home Runs (38) and led the league in Walks and On-Base Percentage.


Dizzy Dean


Dean led the league with 30 wins. Ott had the highest WAR (7.2) for non-pitchers, yet his teammates Jo-Jo Moore (WAR 3.5) and Travis Jackson (WAR 3.8) finished third and fourth, respectively.


Gabby Hartnett


Hartnett had a 4.9 WAR when his Cubs team won the NL pennant. (Hartnett didn’t lead the league in any batting categories.) Ott had the fourth highest WAR (7.2). His teammates Carl Hubbell, Bill Terry, Hank Leiber and Gus Mancuso (all with WAR values lower than Ott) finished higher than Ott in the voting. Arky Vaughan (9.8 WAR) should have finished first, but Ott should have been in the Top 5.


Carl Hubbell


Giants pitcher Hubbell led the league with a 26-6 record as the Giants won the NL pennant. Ott had the highest WAR (7.8) for non-pitchers.


Joe Medwick


Medwick (8.5 WAR) was clearly the most valuable player as the Triple Crown winner. Ott had the second-highest WAR (6.8).


Ernie Lombardi


Lombardi (4.8 WAR) led the league with .342 batting average; his Reds team won the NL pennant. Ott had the highest WAR (8.9) while leading the league in Home Runs, Runs, and On-Base Percentage. Pitcher Bill Lee (who won 22 games) finished second, and shortstop Arky Vaughan unexplainably finished ahead of Ott because Vaughan didn’t lead the league in any offensive category.


Mort Cooper


Cardinals pitcher Cooper led the league with 22 wins, while his team won the NL pennant. Ott had the highest WAR (7.1) for non-pitchers while leading the league in Runs, Home Runs, and On-Base Plus Slugging Percentage.


Playing the “what-if” game, if the Cy Young Award had existed (such that pitchers were not generally considered in the MVP voting) and if the WAR metric existed in Ott’s era, it’s conceivable he could have won the MVP Award in 1934, 1936, and 1942. He was arguably the best overall player in 1938, too.

Despite never winning an MVP Award, Ott received the ultimate Major League Baseball honor with his enshrinement in the National Baseball Hall of Fame on his first ballot in 1951. At the end of the day, that’s what really counts in a player’s career.

Yankee backstop Jose Trevino exceeded all expectations in 2022

New York Yankees catcher Jose Trevino is not a name on the tip of the tongue of most major league baseball fans. He doesn’t have the pedigree of high draft round selections of recent catchers like the Orioles’ Adley Rutschman or the Pirates’ Henry Davis. He doesn’t have the experience of veteran catchers like the Phillies’ JT Realmuto or the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina. But what he does have that all the other 60+ catchers in the majors this year don’t have is the American League Rawlings Platinum Glove Award.

This coveted award is given to the player considered to be the best defensive player in the entire league, regardless of the position on the field. While MLB’s Most Valuable Player Award is largely based on offensive production, one could say the Platinum Glove Award winner is the “most valuable player” for defensive performance.

Trevino played in his fifth major-league season in 2022. Not counting his debut season in 2018 (when he appeared in only three games), he averaged only 51 major-league games per season with the Texas Rangers prior to 2022. He had been a sixth-round draft pick of the Rangers in 2014.

After the Yankees traded 2021’s starting catcher Gary Sanchez to the Minnesota Twins, they needed a catcher to split duties with Kyle Higashioka, who had been Sanchez’s backup.

Trevino slashed .245/.270/.364 before coming to the Yankees. But neither Trevino nor Higashioka were expected to provide much offensive punch for a team that had been among the AL’s top four in home runs in 2021.

As Trevino began to get more consistent at the plate in May and June, he became the primary starter as catcher, averaging around .270 while hitting six home runs and 22 RBIs. Plus, he was showing how well he was performing behind the plate. His contributions were rewarded with a spot on the American League All-Star team, even though he had started only 49 games.

His offensive contribution fell off during the second half of the season, when the entire Yankees team, except for Aaron Judge, faltered at the plate. He ended up slashing .248/.283/.388, with 11 home runs and 48 RBIs.

However, he proved it’s not always offensive production that wins games. His defense continued at a high level. He ended up leading all AL catchers in throwing out baserunners trying to steal bases (33% caught stealing). He was considered a master at pitch framing, which means he has stolen and held strikes better than anyone in baseball, thus making it more likely umpires will call a strike. He led the AL with 17 catcher framing runs, a stat that converts strikes to runs saved. He led all catchers with 21 defensive runs saved, which tied him for third among all position players.

Trevino was the first Yankee player to win the Platinum Glove Award and the first AL catcher to win the award since its inception in 2011. His achievement certainly helped increase the awareness of him as a premier defensive catcher.

His performance behind the plate allows the Yankees’ front office to focus on improving other positions that will help compete for the AL pennant in 2023.

Former LSU slugger Albert Belle gets second chance for election to Baseball's Hall of Fame; Will Clark omitted from ballot

On Monday the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Contemporary Baseball Era Committee nominated eight players for a ballot to be considered in December by a 16-member panel for induction into the Hall of Fame. Former LSU star outfielder Albert Belle was one of the eight. New Orleans native Will Clark, who had been included on previous Era Committee ballots, was left out this time.

The Contemporary Baseball Era Committee is charged with re-considering major league players who had not been elected through the annual voting process by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Players who made the most impact on the game since 1980 were considered.

A player who fails to receive 75% of the votes by the BBWAA for ten years is dropped from the annual balloting process. A player who doesn’t receive a minimum of 5% of the votes at any point during their ten-year period is immediately dropped from future consideration.

Belle retired from major league baseball after the 2000 season. He first became eligible for the Hall in 2006. He received 7.7% of the votes in his first year. But after obtaining only 3.5% in 2007, Belle was dropped from future ballots.

Belle, a native of Shreveport, played at LSU from 1985 to 1987. The outfielder had nearly identical batting statistics in the 1986 and 1987 seasons. He hit 21 home runs and drove in 66 runs in each season. He batted .354 with a slugging percentage of .708 in 1986, while batting .349 with a slugging percentage of. 750 in 1987.

He received All-SEC second-team honors in 1986, followed by a first-team selection in 1987. He was named to Baseball America’s All-America team in 1986. Belle was a member of Skip Bertman’s first College World Series team in 1986.

Belle was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the second round of the 1987 MLB Draft. He played a total of 12 seasons in the majors, eight with the Indians and two each with the Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles.

He became one of baseball’s most dominant sluggers during the last eight years of his career. He was a five-time All-Star (1993-1997) and a five-time Silver Slugger Award winner. In American League MVP Award voting, he placed second (1995), third (1994 and 1996), seventh (1993), and eighth (1998).

In 1995, Belle led the American League in runs (121), doubles (52), home runs (50), RBI (126), and slugging percentage (.690).

His career stats include a slash line of .295/.369/.564, 381 home runs, and 1,239 RBIs. He had a career 144 OPS+. Belle was a member of the 1995 Cleveland Indians that won its first American League pennant since 1954.

One of the main questions about Belle’s viability as a Hall of Fame selection is whether he played long enough at an elite level. Plus, he was often viewed as a controversial player within the clubhouse, while also not endearing himself to the media. These situations likely contributed to his failure to receive a larger number of votes by the BBWAA during his original 10-year eligibility period. But there is no doubt he was one of the most feared hitters during his era.

Other players nominated for this year’s Era Committee include Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Curt Schilling, who fell off the annual ballot last year after not obtaining 75% during their ten year period. The remaining four on this year’s ballot include Fred McGriff, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, and Rafael Palmeiro.

Players elected through the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee process will be included in the Hall of Fame induction Class of 2023.

New Orleans Pelican legend Larry Gilbert played for 1914 World Series champion

Larry Gilbert was most known in New Orleans baseball circles as a long-time successful player and manager for the New Orleans Pelicans baseball team from 1917 to 1938. However, before that part of his legendary career occurred, the New Orleans native was a member of one of the most famous major league teams in baseball history.

The Boston Braves in 1914 became known as the “Miracle Braves” because they were in last place in the National League on July 18 and wound up miraculously winning the pennant by 10 ½ games over the New York Giants. Gilbert was an outfielder on this Braves team in his major-league debut season.

After playing semi-pro baseball in New Orleans, Gilbert signed his first professional contract in 1910 as an 18-year-old pitcher. When he injured his arm from overuse of the curveball, he converted to an outfielder and quickly worked his way to the Milwaukee Brewers in the American Association in 1913.

He was selected in the minor-league draft by the Boston Braves before the start of the 1914 season. Manager George Stallings saw him play in spring training, liked what he saw, and put him in the Opening Day starting lineup.

Gilbert injured ligaments in his ankle early in the season, but the Braves kept him on their roster. He platooned with several other players in the outfield and was used frequently used as a pinch-hitter. In 72 games, he hit .268 with five home runs and 25 RBIs.

The Braves mounted one of the most startling single-season turnarounds in major-league history.

They had a record of 35-43 on July 18, mired in the cellar of the National League where they had been for all but nine games since the start of the season.

Their dramatic turnaround began on July 19. From that date through August 25, the Braves lost only six games, putting themselves in a tie for first place with the Giants.

The Braves continued their winning ways, as they posted an unthinkable 26-5 record during the month of September. Because the Braves’ home ballpark couldn’t handle the large crowds, they moved many of their games in the final month to Boston Red Sox’s Fenway Park. By the end of the regular season, the Braves had built a 10 ½ game lead over the Giants.


The Braves swept the Philadelphia A’s in four games of the World Series. Gilbert made one pinch-hit appearance, drawing a walk. He was the first native of New Orleans to play in a World Series.

Gilbert decided that he preferred playing in the minors, specifically in his hometown. He was sold to the Pelicans for the 1917 season for $2,500, considered a large amount for that time.

He proceeded to play nine seasons for the Pelicans, while managing the team for 15 seasons. During 1923 through 1925, he served as both player and manager. He became a popular figure in New Orleans, as he brought Southern Association titles to the city in 1923, 1926, 1927, 1933, and 1934. He turned down offers to go back to the majors.

After the 1938 season, the city was shocked when Gilbert left New Orleans for Nashville, where he became a part-owner of the team in addition to serving as manager. He added four more Southern Association titles to his resume in 1942, 1943, 1944, and 1948. He was reportedly the highest paid manager in the majors or minors in 1941.He retired as manager after the 1948 season but continued as Nashville’s business manager until 1954. With 2,128 career wins, he is one of the best minor-league managers of all time.

Larry Gilbert Stadium in New Orleans is named in his honor.

Gilbert’s three sons Larry Jr., Charlie, and Tookie were prep stars at Jesuit High School in New Orleans before following in their father’s footsteps in professional baseball. Each of them played a minor-league season for their father during their careers.

Other New Orleans area players who have appeared in the World Series include Putsy Caballero, Will Clark, Mike Fontenot, Chad Gaudin, Will Harris, Al Jurisich, Lou Klein, Jack Kramer, Aaron Loup, Joe Martina, Mel Ott, Howie Pollet, Tanner Rainey, Connie Ryan, Rusty Staub, George Strickland, and Gerald Williams.

Message to the Yankees and Brian Cashman: Just do it!

As the Nike slogan says, “Just do it!” That’s my advice to Brian Cashman, Yankees GM. Go ahead and re-sign slugger Aaron Judge to a long-term contract at the current market rate. Don’t fall into the trap other teams have when they attempted to reduce their team payroll by avoiding a long-term commitment for record-setting dollars with their superstar.

When teams trade their “face of the franchise,” like Judge is with the Yankees, they often wind up setting up a scenario of future mediocrity. Plus, they’re telling their fans to go pound sand in the process.

Current Yankees managing partner Hal Steinbrenner should take a cue from his late father George, who was famous for shelling out the big dollars to acquire big-name players. In 2022, there was no bigger name in baseball than Judge, who held fans’ attention throughout the season when he put on an assault of Roger Maris’s home run record. An attempt to be frugal with team salaries at this time seems to be futile.

Where would the Yankees have been in 2022 without Judge? With the terrible swoon that befell the team in August and most of September, the Yankees could very well have been left out of the playoff picture if it weren’t for Judge. When the Yankees’ bullpen disappeared and injuries took its toll on some of their veteran position players during the final months, Judge kept them competitive enough to fend off Toronto, Tampa Bay, and upstart Baltimore.

Judge passed on the Yankees’ offer for a contract extension before this season started, when he declined a seven-year deal for $213.5 million. The two sides finally settled on a one-year deal worth $19 million in June, thereby avoiding a salary arbitration situation. Did that become Judge’s motivation to get locked in during the season, resulting in a 62-home run season? His fantastic season couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. It was one of the best offensive seasons of all time.

Back in April, the New York Post reported Judge was asking for 9-10 years at $36 million per year. Judge is likely to get that much or more now. The question is whether it will be the Yankees who pay up or another team. It’s been reported several other teams might be in on the bidding, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, who might be willing to move all-star right fielder Mookie Betts to second base (his original position in the pros) if they secured Judge. (By the way, Judge grew up in California.) The Mets are flush with dollars and are expected to make a run for his services.

Other MLB teams have been in similar situations with decisions on whether to extend their superstars with lucrative contracts or to allow them to be traded, or worse go into free agency. Recent examples have been the Red Sox with Mookie Betts and the Nationals with Bryce Harper and Juan Soto. And what happened to those teams after letting their ‘face of the franchise” go? A couple of years later, those teams are at the bottom of the pack, while their discarded superstars are leading their respective new teams to the playoffs.

Judge is by far the top free agent in the market over the winter. So, if the Yankees aren’t successful in locking him up, who is else available in the free-agent market? Shortstops Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts or Trea Turner? Sure, any one of them would be a huge improvement in the Yankees infield. But they won’t have nearly the offensive production of Judge. Outfielders J. D. Martinez and Brandon Nimmo or first baseman Josh Bell? Again, they are nowhere near being comparable to Judge.

It’s been 13 years since the Yankees won an American League pennant. It ties a period between 1979 and 1994 when they were similarly dormant. And they’ve won only one World Series since 2000. The team has several needs to get back to the point of dominating the American League again, including pitching and the left side of the infield.

But the Yankees have no more important need than to re-sign Judge. Don’t haggle with him. Just do it!

The Houston Astros are armed and dangerous

No, the Astros aren’t packing guns these days, although they may have been three years ago, to protect themselves from the backlash of the sign stealing scandal. For today’s Astros though, “arms” refers to their talented pitching staff. And their pitchers have been a real danger to their postseason opponents.

By far, the Astros’ starters and relievers are head and shoulders above the rest of the postseason pack. As one of the TV broadcasters said in a recent game, “The Astros are an embarrassment of riches,” referring to the depth of their impressive staff.

A common theme with this postseason has been “it’s not about which team is better, but which team gets hotter at the right time.” Well, the Astros are showing why they are the best team and also happen to be playing really hot right now, led by its excellent pitching.

Astros pitchers were key factors in taking care of the Seattle Mariners in the League Division Series, sweeping them in three games. Yeah, two of the Astros’ wins were by a single run, including the 18-inning marathon. But with the way the Astros pitch, they don’t have to score many runs to win.

Consider these stats for the ALDS against the Mariners:

Only three of the 11 pitchers used by the Astros gave up runs, with ace Justin Verlander surprisingly giving up 6 of their total of 9 for the three-game series. The team ERA was 2.25.

In 36 innings pitched by the Astros, they yielded only 25 hits and 11 walks, for a WHIP of 1.000.

Astros pitchers struck out a total of 39 batters in the series, for an average of 1.08 per inning or 9.95 Strikeouts Per 9 Innings (SO/9), 3.55 Strikeouts per Walk (SO/W).

But these results should come as no surprise. During the regular season, the Astros pitching staff finished first in the American League with a 2.90 ERA, a 1.092 WHIP, 9.5 SO/9, 3.33 SO/W.

Against the Yankees in the League Championship Series, the Astros were even better during the first three games in which they defeated the Bronx “not-so” Bombers. The Yankees have been in a funk since August, and the Astros pitchers didn’t provide them any opportunity to get out of it during their series.

Here are the stats for the first three games of the ALCS:

In 27 innings, Astros staff yielded only 12 hits, 9 walks, and 2 earned runs, while striking out 41. They never gave the Yankees a chance to get ahead in the score or gain any momentum throughout the three games. Yankees batters, including home run record-setter Aaron Judge, had trouble making contact.

In Game 4 on Sunday the Yankees broke the spell of the Astros’ pitchers. The Yankees finally showed some life in the series by getting to starter Lance McCullers Jr. early. He wasn’t sharp in his five innings, as he gave up 4 runs (3 earned) on 8 hits and a walk, while striking out 6. Each time the Yankees went ahead in the game, the Astros responded with their own lead, ultimately winning the game, 6-5, and earning the American League pennant.

The Astros have four solid starters, led by probable Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander, who happens to hold the all-time record for strikeouts in postseason play. He is followed by Framber Valdez, who broke the record for quality starts during the regular season, Cristian Javier, and McCullers Jr., all of whom have prior postseason experience.

From the bullpen, manager Dusty Baker isn’t hesitant to call on any of his Latino Express that includes hard-throwing pitchers Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero, Hector Neris, and Luis Garcia. Then he also has his closer Ryan Pressly, Hunter Brown, and Ryne Stanek. Baker’s pitching staff struck out 26% of batters faced during the regular season.

The Astros have a clear advantage against the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. And their big weapon will again be their solid pitching staff.

A shaky start of the 2022 season turned into a dandy one

2022 was a baseball season to remember, but maybe that could be said about all of them. Yet it was indeed different because it started out on shaky grounds with the owners’ lockout on December 1, 2021. It could have easily gone in a drastically different direction and wound up as one of baseball’s biggest blemishes in the sport’s 140+ year history. But cooler heads prevailed by the owners and players, and for the most part we have forgotten that the season’s start was delayed by a week, because full 162-game schedules were completed.

The season’s highlights were many. Aaron Judge captivated the nation in his chase to break Roger Maris’s record. Judge recorded one of the best offensive seasons of all time. Japanese pitcher Shohei Ohtani showed he was no fluke in the comparison with Babe Ruth as a two-way player.

Aging players such as Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, and Yadier Molina were still making an impact with their respective teams. Justin Verlander found the “fountain of youth” as he returned from a two-year absence following Tommy John surgery. Newcomers like Julio Rodriguez, Spencer Strider, Bobby Witt Jr., Adley Rutschman, Jeremy Pena, and Michael Harris Jr. demonstrated the future of the game will be in good hands.

Seasons are often defined by the hitting and pitching milestones reached by the players. 2022 was no exception. Below are some of the highlights:

  • ·        Aaron Judge became the all-time American League single-season home run leader with 62, passing Roger Maris.



  • ·        41-year-old Nelson Cruz, one of the most feared designated hitters of his era belted his 450th career home run.



  • ·        Justin Verlander passed John Smoltz and Max Scherzer on the all-time strikeouts list. He is currently 12th with 3,198.



  • ·        Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and Cardinals pitcher set an all-time record of games started together as batterymates with 325. They passed Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan with the Detroit Tigers in the 1960s and 1979s.



  • ·        Molina set the all-time record for putouts by a catcher.



  • ·        Miguel Cabrera passed the 3,000-hit milestone. He is 25th on the all-time list with 3,088. He is only the seventh player with 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.



  • ·        Juan Soto hit his 500th career hit, becoming only the seventh active player with 500 or more hits at age 23 or younger. He also hit his 100th career home run on April 12.



  • ·        Clayton Kershaw became the all-time Dodgers leader in strikeouts, passing Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax.



  • ·        Astros manager Dusty Baker reached his 2,000th career win as manager. He is 12th on the all-time list of wins and has the most by any Black manager.



  • ·        Mike Trout’s 161st home run at Angel Stadium is the most in franchise history. He also passed the 1,000-run scored mark.



  • ·        Albert Pujols hit his 703rd career home run becoming only the fourth player in history to pass the 700-mark,


While the above milestones were more career-based, there were many outstanding single-game performances by players.

  • ·        Mike Trout hit a home run in seven straight games in September. Boston’s Trevor Story did it in May. The record is eight games held jointly by Dale Long, Don Mattingly, and Ken Griffey Jr.



  • ·        Houston’s Framber Valdez broke a major-league record when he made his 25th consecutive quality start on September 18.



  • ·        Atlanta’s Kyle Wright won his 21st game on October 1. He was the majors’ only 20-game winner.



  • ·        On May 10, Angels pitcher Reid Detmers pitched a no-hitter in only his 11th major league start.



  • ·        Jerar Encarnacion’s first major-league hit was a grand slam on June 19.



  • ·        Cleveland first baseman Josh Naylor recorded eight RBIs from the eighth inning until the end of the game in the 11th inning.



  • ·        Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw was removed from the game with a perfect game after seven innings on April 13.



  • ·        Joc Pederson hit three home runs and 8 RBIs in a comeback win for the Giants on May 24.



  • ·        Three Astros pitchers no-hit the Yankees on June 25, including Cristian Javier who had 13 strikeouts. On July 1, Javier struck out a career-high 14 against the Angels.


Today’s game is centered around a “throw hard, hit hard” strategy. With the technology available nowadays, it is possible to accurately track the speed of balls thrown and hit. Below are some speed and distance highlights from the season, many of them setting records.


  • ·        Reds pitcher Hunter Greene hit 100+ miles-per-hour 20 times in a game on April 10. Six days later he threw 100+ mph 39 times



  • ·        Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley threw a pitch 104-mph on September 22. It was the fastest pitch in 2022



  • ·        On June 20, Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz thew out a runner at first base on a 96.7 mph throw. On August 24, he recorded the hardest-hit ball in Statcast history with a 122.4 mph single that nearly went out for a home run.



  • ·        Giancarlo Stanton recorded a 120-mph home run on June 11. On the other hand, Harold Ramirez with the Rays hit the slowest home run ever tracked, at 84.5 mph on June 21.



  • ·        C.J. Cron hit the longest home run of the season with a 504-foot blast on September 9. Other long home runs included Christian Yelich with 499 feet and Jesus Sanchez with 496 feet.



  • ·        Jhoan Duran recorded the fastest off-speed pitch in history, a split-finger at 100.8 mph, on August 29.


Every season has its share of oddities. Here are a few from 2022.


  • ·        The Diamondbacks’ Seth Beer hit a three-run walk-off home run on National Beer Day.



  • ·        Batting against a late-inning position-player-turned-pitcher in a blowout game, the Angels’ Anthony Rendon hit a homer from the left side. He is strictly a right-handed hitter.



  • ·        On May 11, Twins pitcher Yennier Caro made his major-league debut without throwing a pitch. He came into the game as a reliever, but the game was postponed before he threw a pitch.



  • ·        It took 40 at-bats at the beginning of the season before Cleveland’s Steven Kwan swung and missed a pitch.



  • ·        Pitcher Mark Appel made his major-league debut on June 29 for the Phillies, nine years after being the overall No.1 draft pick.



  • ·        Reds pitcher Fernando Cruz made his major-league debut on September 2, 15 years after being drafted. He spent parts of 11 seasons in foreign leagues.



  • ·        Reds pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter on May 15, but lost the game to the Pirates, 1-0.



Oh, brother! 2022 was a banner season for baseball siblings

2022 was a good year for major-league brothers to share the baseball diamond. All too often they don’t get to play with or against each other when growing up or perhaps later in college, because they are separated by age or schools they attend. But once both brothers have signed major-league contracts, they begin to dream about eventually playing on the same field at the same time, whether as teammates or opponents.

Then when it actually happens, the brothers relish the moment because they realize it’s a rare occurrence. Their feat often comes with the notoriety of being part of a small group of players in baseball history who have done the same.

Below are highlights of brotherly activity during the 2022 season.

Identical twin brothers Taylor and Tyler Rogers played against each other on April 11, when Tyler’s San Francisco Giants opposed Taylor’s San Diego Padres. They are both pitchers and are mirror images of each other—Taylor pitches left-handed, while Tyler is right-handed. Tyler entered the game in the sixth inning with the score tied, 2-2. He gave up two hits and a run in his one-inning outing. Taylor pitched the ninth and recorded his third save of the season. Tyler was credited with the loss. The game was the first time they had shared a field since they were in high school. In 2019 they became only the tenth set of twins to play in the majors.

Brothers Aaron and Austin Nola faced other as batter versus pitcher for the first time in 2021. Phillies pitcher Aaron had the better day then, allowing Padres catcher Austin only a walk in three at-bats. On June 24, 2022, they battled against each again, but this time Austin knocked in game-winning run off his brother with a single in the sixth inning. Aaron managed to strike out his brother once, in collecting 10 for the game, but he took the loss in the 1-0 game. The only other time they had ever faced each other was in a practice game while they were both at LSU.

In a rare occurrence in an MLB All-Star Game, Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras and his brother, William Contreras of the Atlanta Braves, were in the starting lineup for the National League team. William started as the designated hitter and hit behind his brother in the batting order. Only four other sets of brothers have started in the same All-Star game. They include Mort and Walker Cooper, Dixie and Harry Walker, Joe and Dominic DiMaggio, and Roberto and Sandy Alomar Jr. The Contreras brothers are natives of Venezuela, where they used to dream about being big leaguers. Willson said, “Man, I think we’re blessed. I can say a lot of things, but there’s not a specific word to describe how I feel and how my family feels.”

New York Mets closer Edwin Diaz and his brother, Cincinnati Reds rookie reliever Alex Diaz exchanged the lineup cards for their respective teams at home plate before their game on August 9 at Citi Field. However, neither of them appeared in the game. Mets manager Buck Showalter said, “That’s a great moment for their family. Can you imagine how proud they are?” Earlier in May, the Diaz brothers became only the third set of major-league brothers to record a save on the same day.

On September 8, brothers Jason and Scott Alexander exchanged the lineup cards for their teams (Brewers and Giants, respectively) before the first game of a doubleheader at American Family Field in Milwaukee. Scott pitched a scoreless inning for the Giants in the first game, but Jason didn’t get called on in either game. But it was a special moment for them in any case. “This will probably go down as one of my favorite moments in baseball,” said Jason, who is four years younger than Scott. It was the first time they had shared a field together at any level.

Bo Naylor made his major-league debut with the Cleveland Guardians on October 1, as he joined his brother Josh on the team. Josh was the starter at first base, while Bo entered the game in the sixth inning, replacing Luke Maile as catcher. Both brothers were hitless for the day as the Kansas City Royals won, 7-1. The brothers batted back-to-back in the lineup the next day in a Guardians win. Josh is playing his first full season in the majors after having made his own debut in 2019. Bo was a first-round pick of the Guardians in 2018.

On the last day of the season, Houston Astros reliever Phil Maton faced his brother Nick in the eighth inning of the Astros’ 3-2 win. It was the first time they had faced each other in a game at any level, since Phil was four years older than Nick. Nick got the best of his brother when he singled into right field off a 91 mph fastball. An infielder, Nick is in his second big-league season with the Philadelphia Phillies. Phil is the veteran of the brothers, pitching in his sixth major-league season. “It was super exciting,” Nick said about their confrontation. “I just wanted to treat it as another at-bat. Once I got up there, it definitely wasn’t like that. It felt like were in the backyard. Just seeing him out there was pretty fun.”

On July 1, the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers featured a matchup of brothers--sort of. Blue Jays pitcher Jose Berrios faced his brother-in-law Javier Baez with the Tigers. Baez claimed bragging rights over Berrios that day by hitting an opposite field home run in the fourth inning. But it was the Tigers’ only run of the day, as Toronto won the game, 4-1. Berrios said, “When he hit the homer, I didn’t want to see his face because I didn’t want to be laughing, and that wouldn’t look good on the mound.” They had faced each other twice before, with Berrios having the edge by holding Baez hitless in five at-bats. The two Puerto Rican players are married to sisters.

This last set of brothers aren’t players yet have a strong connection with the game, nonetheless. When someone mentions the name “Caray” it usually evokes the memory of the three generations of major-league broadcasters—Harry, Skip, and Chip. Now, the fourth generation is in the works for twin brothers Chris and Stefan Caray. They are the sons of current Braves broadcaster Chip Caray. They both broadcasted games in 2022 for the Double-A Amarillo Sod Poodles, an affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. “We want to create our own style,” Stefan said. “That way, we’re not Chip 2.0 or Skip 2.0 or Harry 2.0. We want to be independent of our family’s legacy while also continuing it in a way that is unique.” Perhaps one day they’ll be behind the mike together for a major-league team.

Hometown Heroes: Southeast Louisiana products in MLB, MiLB (End of Season)

Here’s the final report of regular season pitching and hitting stats for many of the 2022 major-league and minor-league players who prepped or played collegiately in the New Orleans area and Southeast Louisiana. All stats are cumulative for the season, through Wednesday, October 5. Below are some of the highlights for September and October.

Alex Bregman’s (LSU) finished second in the American League with 87 walks. Defensively, he finished first in Assists and second in Double Plays for third basemen.

Toronto Blue Jays starter Kevin Gausman (LSU) led the American League in Strikeouts Per Walk (7.32) and Fielding Independent Pitching (2.38). 2022 was his second straight season with over 200 strikeouts. He is going to his fourth MLB postseason with a different team.

Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola (Catholic HS, LSU) finished in third place in the National League in Strikeouts (235) and fourth in WHIP (0.961). He led the NL in Walks Per 9 Innings (1.160) and Strikeouts per Walk (1.273). This will be Nola’s first post-season.

Austin Nola (Catholic HS, LSU) reverted to his old position in a blowout game against the Dodgers on September 3, when he played two innings at second base. He had converted to catcher in 2017. He is making his first MLB playoff appearance with the Padres.

Alex Lange (LSU) recorded three wins in September-October. He gave up on only two earned runs in 14 appearances for the month. He finished third in the American League for games pitched (71).

Oklahoma City’s Drew Avans (Southeastern) had one of his best games of the season on September 25, when he went 3-for-4, including a triple, a home run, and 4 RBIs.

J.P. France (Archbishop Shaw, Tulane, Miss. State) posted an impressive 2.31 ERA in September with Triple-A Sugar Land.

Andrew Stevenson (LSU) posted a batting line of .313/.377/.594, with five home runs and 14 RBIs in September-October with Triple-A Rochester.

Grant Witherspoon (Tulane) was a member of the Durham Bulls that won the Triple-A National Championship.

Shawn Semple (UNO) was a member of the Eastern League champion Somerset Patriots.



Alex Bregman—Astros (LSU) 154 G, .259 BA, .365 OBP, 23 HR, 93 RBI

Jake FraleyReds (LSU) MLB: 68 G, .259 BA, .344 OBP, 12 HR, 28 RBI, 4 SB; MiLB: 13 G, .262 BA, .392 OBP, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 SB

Kevin Gausman—Blue Jays (LSU) 31 G, 12-10, 3.35 ERA, 174.2 IP, 205 SO

Ian Gibaut—Reds (Tulane) MLB: 34 G, 1-2, 4.50 ERA, 36.0 IP, 48 SO, 1 SV; MiLB: 17 G, 2-0, 3.20 ERA, 19.2 IP, 19 SO

Alex Lange—Tigers (LSU) 71 G, 7-4, 3.69 ERA, 63.1 IP, 82 SO

Aaron Loup—Angels (Hahnville HS, Tulane) 65 G, 0-5, 3.84 ERA, 58.2 IP, 52 SO, 1 SV

DJ LeMahieu—Yankees (LSU) 125 G, .261 BA, .357 OBP, 12 HR, 46 RBI, 4 SB

Wade Miley—Cubs (Loranger HS, Southeastern) MLB: 9 G, 2-2, 3.16 ERA, 37.0 IP, 28 SO; MiLB: 6 G, 0-0, 4.50 ERA, 22.0 IP, 15 SO

Aaron Nola—Phillies (Catholic HS, LSU) 32 G, 11-13, 3.25 ERA, 205.0 IP, 235 SO

Austin Nola—Padres (Catholic HS, LSU) 110 G, .251 BA, .321 OBP, 4 HR, 40 RBI

Michael Papierski—Reds (LSU) MLB: 39 G, .143 BA, .228 OBP, 1 HR, 4 RBI; MiLB: 57 G, .232 BA, .329 OBP, 6 HR, 41 RBI

Tanner Rainey—Nationals (St. Paul’s HS, Southeastern) 29 G, 1-3, 12 SV, 3.30 ERA, 30.0 IP, 36 SO (On 60-Day Injured List)

Jake Rogers—Tigers (Tulane) On Injured List entire 2022 season

Josh Smith—Rangers (Catholic HS, LSU) MLB: 73 G, .197 BA, .307 OBP, 2HR, 16 RBI, 4 SB; MiLB: 55 G, .290 BA, .395 OBP, 6 HR, 45 RBI, 9 SB



Drew Avans–-Dodgers (Southeastern) 119 G, .282 BA, .379 OBP, 7 HR, 48 RBI, 40 SB

Greg Deichmann—Cubs (Brother Martin HS, LSU) 78 G, .214 BA, .271 OBP, 7 HR, 33 RBI, 8 SB

Hunter Feduccia—Dodgers (LSU) 83 G, .238 BA, .331 OBP, 15 HR, 51 RBI

J.P. France—Astros (Shaw HS, Tulane, Miss. State) 34 G, 3-4, 3 SV, 3.90 ERA, 110.2 IP, 136 SO

Will Harris—Nationals (Slidell HS, LSU) 7 G, 0-1, 8.44 ERA, 5.1 IP, 5 SO (On 60-Day Injured List)

Cole Henry–-Nationals (LSU) 9 G, 1-0, 1.71 ERA, 31.2 IP, 34 SO (On 7-Day Injured List)

JaCoby Jones—Royals (LSU) 38 G, .214 BA, .270 OBP, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 2 SB

Eric Orze—Mets (UNO) 34 G, 4-3, 1 SV, 4.83 ERA, 50.1 IP, 69 SO

Kramer Robertson—Mets (LSU) MLB: 2 G, .000 BA, .000 OBP, 0 HR, 1 RBI; MiLB: 116 G, .239 BA, .393 OBP, 11 HR, 47 RBI, 30 SB

Cam Sanders – Cubs (E. D. White HS, LSU) 35 G, 2-9, 4.94 ERA, 98.1 IP, 111 SO

Andrew Stevenson—Nationals (St. Thomas More HS, LSU) 135 G, .279 BA, .344 OBP, 16 HR, 67 RBI, 39 SB

Justin Williams—Phillies (Terrebone HS) 27 G, .211 BA, .324 OBP, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 4 SB (On 7-Day Injured List)

Grant Witherspoon – Rays (Tulane) 115 G, .266 BA, .343 OBP, 17 HR, 61 RBI, 15 SB



Jared Biddy–-Rockies (Southeastern) 32 G, 4-1, 2.06 ERA, 48.0 IP, 45 SO

Nick Bush—Rockies (LSU) 19 G, 7-6, 3.68 ERA, 100.1 IP, 98 SO

Brendan Cellucci—Red Sox (Tulane) 45 G, 3-4, 4.34 ERA, 64.1 IP, 85 SO

Hudson Haskin—Orioles (Tulane) 109 G, .264 BA, .367 OBP, 15 HR, 56 RBI, 5 SB

Kody Hoese—Dodgers (Tulane) 80 G, .234 BA, .282 OBP, 6 HR, 36 RBI, 1 SB

Andrew Mitchell—Mets (Jesuit HS, Delgado, Auburn) 23 G, 1-1, 3 SV, 6.37 ERA, 29.2 IP, 30 SO

Braden Olthoff–-Angels (Tulane) 23 G, 5-9, 1 SV, 4.15 ERA, 108.1 IP, 73 SO

Kaleb Roper—White Sox (Rummel, Tulane) 30 G, 2-6, 7.78 ERA, 83.1 IP, 84 SO

Mac Sceroler—Reds (Denham Springs HS, Southeastern) On Injured List entire 2022 season

Shawn Semple—Yankees (UNO) 14 G, 5-1, 5.73 ERA, 37.2 IP, 27 SO

Chase Solesky—White Sox (Tulane) 26 G, 4-8, 4.10 ERA, 116.1 IP, 88 SO

Zach Watson—Orioles (LSU) 95 G, .199 BA, .251 OBP, 8 HR, 32 RBI, 5 SB



Donovan Benoit–-Reds (Tulane) 33 G, 3-4, 13 SV, 4.00 ERA, 45.0 IP, 61 SO

Collin Burns-–Orioles (De La Salle HS, Tulane) 82 G, .269 BA, .337 OBP, 6 HR, 34 RBI, 13 SB

Daniel Cabrera—Tigers (John Curtis HS, Delgado, LSU) 120 G, .238 BA, .309 OBP, 8 HR, 46 RBI, 7 SB

Saul Garza-–Royals (LSU) 37 G, .177 BA, .272 OBP, 0 HR, 12 RBI

Zack Hess—Tigers (LSU) On Injured List entire season

Aaron McKeithan–-Cardinals (Tulane) 84 G, .275 BA, .375 OBP, 5 HR, 30 RBI, 1 SB

Bryce Tassin—Tigers (Southeastern) 38 G, 2-3, 4.85 ERA, 1 SV, 55.2 IP, 47 SO

Tyree Thompson--Rangers (Karr HS) 14 G, 1-0, 7.13 ERA, 17.2 IP, 18 SO



Jack Aldrich-–Royals (Tulane) 28 G, 4-2, 4.15 ERA, 56.1 IP, 48 SO, 3 SV

Jacob Berry – Marlins (LSU) 37 G, .248 BA, .343 OBP, 3 HR, 26 RBI, 1 SB

Cade Doughty – Blue Jays (LSU) 26 G, .272 BA, .370 OBP, 6 HR, 24 RBI, 3 SB

Paul Gervase – Mets (LSU) 8 G, 1-1, 5.56 ERA, 11.1 IP, 16 SO

Connor Pellerin–-Yankees (Episcopal HS Baton Rouge, Tulane) On Injured List entire 2022 season

Todd Peterson—Nationals (LSU) 14 G, 0-2, 2 SV, 5.09 ERA, 17.2 IP, 21 SO

Eric Reyzelman – Yankees (LSU) 4 G, 0-0, 6.75 ERA, 4.0 IP, 8 SO


Independent League

Antoine Duplantis—Mets (LSU) Ind:  84G, .299 BA, .331 OBP, 8 HR, 36 RBI, 13 SB; MiLB: 26 G, .132 BA, .184 OBP, 1 HR, 7 RBI

Cole Freeman—Nationals (LSU) Ind: 19 G, .324 BA, .346 OBP, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 3 SB; MiLB: 50 G, .243 BA, .299 OBP, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 15 SB 

Nick GoodyMexican League (LSU) 14 G, 2-1, 2 SV, 2.40 ERA, 15.0 IP, 24 SO; Ind. 15 G, 0-2, 5 SV, 4.20 ERA, 15.0 IP, 24 SO


Japanese League

Kyle Keller–-Hanshin (Jesuit, Southeastern) 52 G, 3-3, 2.72 ERA, 49.2 IP, 64 SO

Why Aaron Judge's 61 home run achievement was more impressive than Roger Maris's

Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris’s American League record of 61 home runs on September 28, 61 one years after Maris. Judge hit his 61st at Rogers Centre in Toronto. Maris wore jersey number 9, while Judge wears 99. Maris won the American League MVP Award in 1961. Judge is a good bet to win it this year. But that might be where the parallels end. When you look behind the details of the home run totals, an argument can be made that Judge’s is more impressive.

Judge’s accomplishment comes in an era in baseball that is quite different from that of Maris. As a result, I believe Judge’s quest to hit 61 home runs has been more extraordinary.

Below is my rationale. My analysis is not meant to diminish Maris’s feat, but to highlight Judge’s impressive season.

Maris got his 61st home run on the last day of the season in his 161st game of the season. Judge hit his 61st in 10 less games.

Judge routinely faces pitchers who throw harder than pitchers did in Maris’s time. For the past 8-10 years, pitching strategies have emphasized pitchers who can regularly hit 97-mph or greater with their fastball. In 2021, 335 pitchers fell into that category, with more this year. It’s common to see 100-mph pitches in practically every game. Maris didn’t routinely face pitches of that caliber.

Starting pitchers typically stayed in the game longer when Maris played. Consequently, batters had better chances of hitting homers in later innings, after having seen the pitcher’s repertoire three or four plate appearances. It’s common for Judge to see three different pitchers in a game, so he has to adjust to a different pitching style for each plate appearance.

Batting third in the Yankees lineup, Maris had Mickey Mantle hitting behind him in the batting order. For most of the 1961 season, Mantle was in the race for 61 homers as well, until he got injured in September. So, pitchers couldn’t pitch around Maris because Mantle was just as dangerous at the plate. Judge has been batting leadoff for a good part of the second half of the season. He’s had a variety of teammates hitting behind him, but none as threatening as Mantle.

Related to the above, Maris was never intentionally walked during the 1961 season. Judge has been issued free passes to first base on 19 occasions. If you use his ratio of plate appearances to home runs (one home run for every 11 plate appearances) he could theoretically have one or two additional home runs this season.

At 6-feet-seven, Judge has a larger strike zone than the 6-foot Maris. He is particularly vulnerable to low pitches in the strike zone, although he has proven to be a patient hitter this year by leading the AL in walks.

Left-handed batter Maris was a dead-pull hitter to right field. He took advantage of Yankee Stadium’s short right-field porch, at 318 feet, for many of his home runs. Right-handed hitting Judge has sprayed his homers to all fields, including 40.7% to left field, 27% to center field, and 32.3% to right field.

It is well-documented Maris felt the pressure of chasing Ruth. His hair fell out. He received death threats from people who didn’t want to see Ruth’s record broken. Judge has been calm, cool, and collected at the plate during his run at Maris’s magic number. If he’s suffered from any type of anxiety attack during his chase of Maris, he’s hidden it very adeptly.

Maris’s OPS+ in 1961 was 167, exceptional when compared to an average major-league player’s 100 OPS+. Judge will end the season with an OPS+ around 215. We’re seeing history being made by him, not just for the home runs, but as an all-around offensive juggernaut. He is leading the American League in practically every statistical category, and still has a reasonable chance to capture the Triple Crown.

In route to tying Maris, Judge has had one of the most productive offensive seasons in major-league history. But even if he surpasses Maris, No. 9 will always hold his own place in history as the slugger who passed the great Bambino.

Former base-swiper Maury Wills would have loved to play under the proposed 2023 base-stealing rules

Major League Baseball announced plans to bring back the stolen base. New rules for the 2023 season will make it easier for teams to use the stolen base as an offensive weapon. It’s part of an attempt to make the game more exciting and create more tempo during games.

Shortly after this announcement was made, we got news of the death of Maury Wills, who made a name for himself as the premier base-stealer in the big leagues in the 1960s. He took the baseball world by surprise in 1962 when he broke Hall of Famer Ty Cobb’s 1915 record of 96 stolen bases. No one had ever come close to Cobb, but Wills smashed the mark with 104 steals while playing the Los Angeles Dodgers.

After toiling in the minors for eight years, Wills finally made his major-league debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers at age 26 in 1959. He took over the starting shortstop position for the Dodgers in 1960, and promptly led the National League in stolen bases with 50. No one in the National League had swiped 50 bases since Max Carey did it in 1923. Wills led the league again in 1961 with 35.

With 208 hits and 51 walks, Wills had plenty of opportunities to steal bases in 1962, the year the Dodgers moved into their new stadium. He was a terror on the bases, putting together the best season of his career as he stole 104 stolen bases while being caught attempting to steal only 13 times. The switch-hitter batted .299 and scored 130 runs. His efforts earned him the National League’s Most Valuable Player Award.

For the next three seasons, Wills continued to lead the league in steals, including 94 in 1965.

During the decade of the 1960s, Wills led all major leaguers with 535 stolen bases. His closest competitors weren’t that close -- Lou Brock with 387 and Luis Aparicio with 342.

Wills retired in 1972, finishing with 586 career stolen bases. Cobb was the career leader at the time with 897. The only players to surpass Wills in a single season were Lou Brock (118 in 1974), Rickey Henderson (130 in 1982 and 108 in 1983), and Vince Coleman (110 in 1985, 107 in 1986, and 109 in 1987).

Base-stealing is rarely used as a high-leverage weapon in today’s game. With the emphasis on home runs for scoring runs, managers have been less willing to risk giving up outs on unsuccessful stolen base attempts. By comparison, in 1982 when Henderson set the all-time record for stolen bases in a season, the entire 26 teams in the major leagues attempted 4,993 stolen bases. So far this season the 30 major league teams have attempted 3,078 stolen bases.

The new 2023 rules will create more opportunities for stolen base attempts. Bases will become 18-inches square, versus the current 15 inches, thus creating a 4 ½ inch shorter distance between bases. Furthermore, pitchers are limited to two disengagements (pickoff attempts or step-offs) per plate appearance. However, this limit is reset if a runner or runners advance during the plate appearance. If a third pickoff attempt is made, the runner automatically advances one base if the pickoff attempt is not successful.

Wills and these other base thieves would likely be even more proficient if they played under the new rules being instituted for next season.

Flashback: New Orleans native Lenny Yochim made Venezuelan winter league history in 1955 with no-hitter

New Orleans native Lenny Yochim had been a standout pitcher at Holy Cross High School and several minor league teams including New Iberia and New Orleans. Yet when he got his opportunity to play with Pittsburgh Pirates in the major leagues, he had difficulty sticking with the team.

Fringe major leaguers like Yochim often played winter ball in the Caribbean to hone their skills, with the hope of improving their chances for a major-league roster spot the next spring. Yochim played four seasons in the Venezuela Association during his career, and in 1955 he became a national sensation in the country when he pitched the first no-hitter in the league’s eight years of Organized Baseball.

Leading up to his 1955 winter league stint, Yochim had signed his first professional contract following his graduation from Holy Cross High School in 1947. He played five seasons in the minors before making his major-league debut on September 18, 1951. His late-season call-up with the Pittsburgh Pirates included only two games. He got another opportunity with the PIrates in 1954, but it lasted only 10 games.

Yochim had previously played in the Venezuelan winter league in 1952-1954. After spending most of the 1955 season with the New Orleans Pelicans, he returned to Venezuela to play for Caracas. New Orleanian Hal Bevan, who was vying for a roster spot with the big-league Kansas City A’s, was Yochim’s teammate. Other major leaguers on the Caracas team included Venezuelan natives Pompeyo Davalillo and Chico Carrasquel and American players Gail Harris and Earl Battey.

In the historic game on December 8, Yochim got the start for Caracas against Magallanes. The opposing team featured major-leaguers Jack Lohrke, Norm Larker, Bob Borkowski, Gale Wade, and Raymond Monzant, who was the Magallanes starting pitcher. The rivalry between the two teams was analogous to the Yankees playing the Red Sox.

In the night-time game played at University Stadium in Caracas, Yochim didn’t allow a hit, while the only two Magallanes base-runners came via walks.

Bevan and Yochim contributed two hits apiece for Caracas, who scored two runs in the second inning and one in the seventh for a 3-0 final score.

In a clubhouse interview after the game, Yochim said, “I depended chiefly on my screwball.” He said it was the first no-hitter of his professional career.

The next day’s sports pages in Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional contained a full-page story and box score of the game, including a photo of Yochim being carried off the field by the Caracas fans. The story mentions that some of the fans tried to tear pieces of his uniform as souvenirs.

Yochim pitched one more season in the minors in 1956, helping Atlanta win the Southern Association championship, before retiring. He had a 100-63 record in the minors and 1-2 record in the majors.

He went on to spend 37 years as a scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He received the “Pride of the Pirates” Award in 1996 recognizing the person in the Pirates organization who displayed sportsmanship, character, and dedication during a lifetime of service.

Yochim was named to the Diamond Club of New Orleans Hall of Fame in 1972, the Sugar Bowl New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in 1995, and the New Orleans Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Yankees vs. Twins: the "Curse of Knoblauch"

For the last 22 seasons, when the New York Yankees needed a boost to their record to remain in contention for a playoff berth, they could always count on the Minnesota Twins to contribute to the cause. The Twins haven’t had a winning record in a season against the Yankees since 2001, when the Twins captured four of six regular-season games.

An even more mind-rattling situation between the Yankees and Twins is the fact that the Yankees have eliminated the Twins in the first round of the American League playoffs in six of those seasons, including 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2017 (wild card), and 2019. The Yankees’ cumulative post-season record against the Twins during those seasons is an astonishing 16-2.

What is it about the Yankees that they have easily dominated the Twins for over 20 years?

Recall the “Curse of the Bambino” that supposedly plagued the Boston Red Sox until they won the 2004 World Series, their first since Babe Ruth played with the Red Sox in 1918. Two years later, Ruth was sold to the Yankees, where he was the main cog in building a Yankee dynasty.

Well, it got me to thinking the Yankees may hold a modern-day “curse” over the Twins.

Looking at the history of the Twins, they last won a World Series in 1991. On their roster that season was second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, who won the Rookie of the Year award. He was a four-time all-star for the Twins, but they traded him to the Yankees in 1998 for four prospects.

Knoblauch proceeded to play on four World Series teams with the Yankees from 1998 to 2001, collecting three world championship rings, while the Twins haven’t won a pennant since 1991.

Aha! I discovered the source for the Yankees’ domination of the Twins—the “Curse of Knoblauch.”

Knoblauch was certainly no Babe Ruth, but he became an integral part of the Yankee lineup during those four seasons, three as their second baseman and one as the leftfielder. The “Curse of Knoblauch” also doesn’t have the same ring as the “Curse of the Bambino,” but Twins fans can nonetheless blame Knoblauch for inflicting the jinx on their team.

Knoblauch had left the Yankees by the time the two teams played against each other in the ALDS in 2003 and 2004, so there was no opportunity for him to gloat over the Twins in playoff competition.

Now, in the final month of this season’s race to the playoffs, the Twins suffered the latest effect of the “Curse of Knoblauch,” as the Yankees took three games in their four-game series last week. The Twins are only 2-6 against the Yankees this year. As of the fourth game in the series on Thursday, the victories allowed the Yankees to stay ahead of the Rays by 4 ½ games. On the other hand, the Twins were no longer tied with Cleveland for first place in the AL Central and were tied with Chicago for second place, 1 ½ games behind the Guardians.

Of course, Knoblauch has had nothing to do with the Twins’ bad luck against the Yankees or any other team all these years. My postulation of the “Curse of Knoblauch” is strictly an attempt at tongue-in-cheek humor.

The Twins are still in the running for a playoff berth. But heaven forbid if they run up against the Yankees in the playoffs again.

Who are the real New York Yankees?

Through the end of June, the Yankees had been practically unbeatable with a 58-21 record. In July, they leveled off (13-13 record), but there wasn’t too much of a cause for alarm then. They were still 12 games ahead of the next team in the AL East. However, from August 1 through August 27, the Yankees have been playing like the lowly Washington Nationals, with a 9-15 record. It begs the question, “Who are the real Yankees?”

A few weeks ago in my blog email, I posed the question, “Are the Yankees swooning?” That question was relevant then and is even more relevant now, with 35 games remaining.

Have we been seeing the real Yankees for the past two months? Or is this just a temporary setback.

Injuries have taken its toll on the team and I tend to think that’s been the main contributor to their drop-off in performance.

Giancarlo Stanton, who had 24 homers and 61 RBIs, went out on July 23 with left Achilles tendonitis. Matt Carpenter, a free agent signee on May 26 who was surpassing all expectations with a slash line of .305/.412/.727 and 15 homers, went out on August 8 with a left foot fracture. The Yankees have missed their bats. Outfielder Harrison Bader, whom the Yankees acquired from the Cardinals at the trade deadline, has yet to play due to left Achilles tendonitis.

Part of the Yankees’ success story prior to July was that the team’s bullpen had performed well, even though it had taken a hit with injuries. Albert Abreu missed the month of May, and Chad Green was lost for the remainder of the season on May 19, while Aroldis Chapman missed the month of June, and Jonathan Loaisiga missed the month of June and half of July. Their replacements had adequately filled the gaps caused by injuries.

Abreu, Chapman, and Loaisiga came back to the active roster in June and July. But there’s been another revolving door with the pitching staff in July and August.

The bullpen took further hits with the loss of relievers, including Michael King who was lost to a season-ending arm surgery on July 23, Clay Holmes (their best reliever who has been out since August 12), Miguel Castro (out since July 10), and Clarke Schmidt (only three appearances during those two months). Abreu went back on the injured list on August 21 with right elbow inflammation, while Chapman is back on the 15-day IL.

Starter Luis Severino has been out since July 13, but he was effectively replaced by Domingo German, who pitched for first time during 2022 on July 21.

Overwhelmed in following all the changes in the Yankees’ pitching staff? Aaron Boone must have been pulling his hair out dealing with the situations.

The Yankees’ front office apparently was worried about their pitching situation, so they acquired starter Frankie Montas and relievers Scott Effross and Lou Trivino at the trade deadline. But they gave up the steady Jordan Montgomery in the process. Montas, Montgomery’s replacement in the starting rotation, has had only one quality start in four appearances. He has yet to demonstrate why the Yankees sought him out. Effross went on the injured list on August 20, after eight relief appearances.

Injuries aside, the main storyline for the Yankees this season has been slugger Aaron Judge, who is on a pace to hit 60 home runs and is making a strong case for AL MVP. He’s been the one constant for the Yankees throughout the year. Besides Stanton and Carpenter, before their injuries, Judge has gotten offensive help from Anthony Rizzo, Gleyber Torres, and super-utility player DJ LeMahieu.. Third baseman Josh Donaldson has been an offensive disappointment like Joey Gallo, who the Yankees thankfully dealt to the Dodgers at the trade deadline.

The Yankees still rank first or second in most of the team batting and pitching stats in the American League. Despite their sluggish (“swooning”) months July and August, one of the main reasons they still have a comfortable lead in the AL East is that they are 35-23 against division opponents.

The projected roster for September is encouraging, which is why I think the Yankees will get back on track before the post-season.

Stanton returned late last week. Carpenter’s foot didn’t require surgery, and he will return in late September. Bader is targeting the first week of September to return. Newly acquired outfielder Andrew Benintendi hasn’t yet hit like he did with the Royals, but he’s an improvement over Gallo.

Reliever Zach Britton, who has yet to pitch this season because he has been recovering from Tommy John surgery last September, is now throwing in re-hab assignments. Holmes will be activated after he finishes his time on the injured list on August 29 and return to the closer role. Severino is on a re-hab pace to get four or five starts during the balance of the regular-season schedule, and eventually join Gerrit Cole, Jamison Taillon, German, and Montas in the rotation. Wandy Peralta, Lucas Luetge, and Ron Marinaccio have been solid middle relievers, while Trevino has proven to be a solid addition in the bullpen.

Beginning in September, the Yankees have 18 remaining games against their tough division opponents. If they can win 60% of those games (as they have to date), they should continue to maintain their division lead.

Injuries are the bane of every team. Always has been. Always will be. Yes, they had several hiccups in July and August. At this point, it appears the Yankees have a path to get beyond their health issues and return to their winning ways.

Flashback: 1974 Rummel-based baseball teams ranked among the best ever in New Orleans

In a city with a long, rich tradition of high school and American Legion baseball, dating back to the 1920s, identifying the New Orleans area’s best teams of all time would be a difficult undertaking. Yet on two occasions several years ago, the 1974 Archbishop Rummel High School Raiders and the Rummel-based Schaff Brothers American Legion team were designated among the all-time best in the city. When considering the combined achievements of both teams, largely consisting of the same players, they are arguably the best ever baseball team in the city.

In 2003, the Times-Picayune produced its list of all-time Top 10 high school teams in the New Orleans area which included the 1974 Rummel High School squad. The Raiders’ case was based on the 22-2 record, including 19 consecutive wins on their way to a state championship.

In 2009, Ken Trahan, then president of, convened a comprehensive panel of local baseball coaches, sportswriters, historians, and former players to rank the best American Legion teams in New Orleans history. Rummel’s 1974 Schaff Brothers team and the 1980 Jesuit-based Odeco Drillers team were tied for first. The rationale for naming Schaff was based on a 30-4 record, including 28 consecutive wins, as they finished tied for third in the American Legion World Series.

There will be no argument from Larry Schneider as to which team was the all-time best. He was the coach for both the prep and Legion teams in 1974. Forty-eight years later, Schneider says about those teams, “They never gave up. They played hard all the time. It was hard to go undefeated in prep district play and to run off a long string of wins in Legion, but we were consistent. The players believed in themselves and they enjoyed the game.”

The Raiders’ prep team was used to winning. They had gotten all the way to the state finals in 1973, but lost to New Iberia, 2-1. After winning both rounds of district play in 1974 with duplicate 7-0 records, Rummel waltzed through the district playoffs with a one-hitter by senior Rick Zibilich and a five-hitter by sophomore Kenny Francingues. The duo had shouldered the pitching chores all season and saved their best for the state playoffs. Francingues hurled a two-hitter over Baton Rouge Tara in the semis, while Zibilich countered with a no-hitter, including 14 strikeouts, over Baton Rouge Broadmoor in the finals.

Rummel finished 22-2 for the season, including 19 consecutive wins. Schneider was named Coach of the Year for the Times-Picayune All-City team, while Zibilich was named the MVP. Catcher Dom Giambrone and infielder Jim Kropog also received All-City honors. Francinges and outfielder Steve Foster joined them on the All-District team. Zibilich was also named to the Class 4A All-State team.

With an already talented prep team, the Rummel-based Schaff Brothers American Legion roster was bolstered even more by the addition of college-eligible players Vince DeGrouttola, Frank Judice, Don Albares, and Tommy Casse. Schaff, who had finished with a 16-1 record in 1973, was the favorite to repeat as Second District champion, according to the Times-Picayune. Additionally, there was a suggestion Schaff could even advance far into the national playoffs.

DeGroutolla, who had just completed his freshman season pitching for Tulane, took Francingues’ place in the pitching rotation during Legion district play. The 15-year-old Francingues was still eligible for Babe Ruth league competition. Looking back, Francingues talks about an agreement between his Babe Ruth coaches and Schneider that Babe Ruth participation would take precedence in the event of scheduling conflicts. He wound up pitching sparingly for Schaff during district competition.

In Schaff’s opening game of district play, DeGroutolla put the league on notice with a perfect game, 14-strikeout performance against Bonnabel’s Bayou Rigging. But after three wins, Schaff surprisingly lost two consecutive games to Shaw-based Tasty Bread and Chalmette Post 360.

Schaff rebounded when Zibilich tossed a no-hitter against East Jefferson-anchored Metairie Post 350, and Francingues worked in a rare start against Bayou Rigging, producing 10 strikeouts. With Chalmette winning the first round, Schaff finished tied for second with Tasty, posting a 7-2 record. Schaff proceeded to sweep its opponents in the second round, including four-hit and five-hit performances by DeGroutolla. Schaff closed out district play with a 17-2 record, including 14th straight wins.

Zibilich and DeGroutolla were outstanding during Second District competition. They were practically an unbeatable one-two punch. The Times-Picayune reported Zibilich went 6-0 with a 0.93 ERA, while DeGroutolla finished with a 7-1 record and 1.52 ERA. Zibilich, who played shortstop when not pitching, also captured the district batting title with a .423 average.

In the Second District championship series, Schaff swept Chalmette in two games to advance to the South Louisiana Regional.

Schaff squeezed by Brother Martin-based Deviney’s, 5-4 in 10 innings, in the first game of the South Louisiana tournament. Deviney’s coach, Tom Schwaner, who led his squad to a 16-3 record as First District champion, recently recalled that he had “tried every trick in the book just to stay even with them.” He added, “I remember being mentally spent after that game They were great on both sides, hitting and pitching, and they just had more weapons than us.”

After defeating familiar foe Chalmette, 9-1, on Francingue’s four-hitter, Schaff turned its attention to a seasoned De La Salle-based Melville Equipment team. Zibilich shut down Melville with 18 strikeouts in a Schaff 7-0 win that left them the only undefeated team in the winner’s bracket. Melville coach Gerry Burrage recently recalled that Zibilich had great command, with a good curve. Melville worked its way back to the championship round, needing two wins to take the title.

But Schaff claimed the regional title when DeGrouttola went the distance in an 11-inning contest, 5-4. Right fielder Gus Malespin was the hero of the day. In the top of the 11th, Melville put a runner at second base with two outs. Melville’s Rick O’Krepki lined a single to right that Malespin fielded and threw the runner out at the plate. Malespin then led off the bottom of the 11th with a walk and eventually scored the winning run on Don Albares’ single. Burrage vividly remembers another good play in the championship game. He said, “We had a chance to go ahead earlier, but their outfielder Judice makes a miraculous back-handed catch to end our rally.”

Schaff’s record went to 22-2 at that point. Times-Picayune sportswriter John Joly suggested that the Rummel prep and Legion teams were on par with the best local teams over the past 10-12 years.

Schaff faced North Louisiana champion New Iberia in the state finals. Schaff fought back from deficits twice to forge a 15-9 win in the first game, and then captured the title with a 6-3 victory on DeGroutolla’s four-hitter. Schneider said he and the team felt a measure of revenge after having been defeated by New Iberia in the state prep finals the year before.

Schaff advanced to the Mid-South Region 4 tournament in Memphis. Schneider remembers telling his players that they were well-prepared to compete in the next levels of tournament play, because they had already faced tough competition in the First and Second Districts in New Orleans, against teams like DeViney’s, Chalmette, Tasty Bread, and Melville Equipment.

The Schaff players took Schneider’s words to heart, as they swept all of their opponents in the Mid-South Regional, including Fort Smith in the championship game.

One of the memorable contests in that tournament was a 12-inning affair against Brazosport, Texas, Schaff’s second opponent of the tournament. The outcome was indicative of Schaff’s clutch capabilities, as Zibilich pitched the entire game, striking out 21, both career highs. With the game tied in the bottom of the 11th inning, right fielder Malespin saved the game when he made a running shoe-string catch with runners on first and third. Giambrone and team captain Matt Bullinger drove in 12th-inning runs to cinch the dramatic victory, 6-4. Schneider said at the time, “When you win a game like that, you just have to get a lift. It was about the toughest game we played all year, but the kids never stopped hanging in there.”

Schaff earned its first entry in the American Legion World Series which was being played in Roseburg, Oregon. The mid-season predictions that the Rummel-based team could go far in the post-season had come true.

Schaff defeated Bristol, Connecticut with five runs in the top of the 9th inning for a 7-4 win in the first game. However, the victory did not come without great cost to the team. Catcher Giambrone, who had been named the Mid-South Region 4 tournament MVP, broke his hand in the game. Zibilich followed with a four-hitter to defeat Oswego, Oregon, 3-0.

Facing an imposing Puerto Rican team, the defending national champions, Schaff played sloppily and lost, 6-3. Puerto Rico apparently took the wind out of their sails, as Schaff fell apart in a 13-1 loss and elimination by Cheverly, Maryland. In recent discussions with Coach Schneider and Francingues, both echoed sentiments that playing without Giambrone after his injury in the first game made a significant difference in their final outcome in the Series. Schneider said, “Without a doubt, we missed him at some crucial times during the World Series.”

Schaff finished the season with a 30-4 record, including 27 consecutive wins.

Francingues, who has coached baseball for 38 years, characterized the makeup of those Rummel teams. “We had talent on the field and on the bench. We had depth in pitching. If we could score at least four to five runs a game, we had a good chance of winning because our pitching staff was pretty stingy in giving up runs.” He added, “I was the luckiest man in the world playing for Rummel with the type of hitting team we had.” He’s also quick to add, “Our captain Matt Bullinger was the best defensive first baseman I ever played with, and that includes teammates I had later in the pros, like future MLB all-star Kent Hrbek.”

Francingues has high praise for Coach Schneider. “He was a really good game coach. He let us play. For example, he let us call our own pitches. Coach was a stickler for fundamentals in fielding and hitting. We were well-prepared when the season started.”

Another testament to being ranked among the best local teams ever was the number of players that progressed to collegiate ranks. Zibilich played for Ole Miss, DeGrouttola and Francingues for Tulane, Bullinger for USL, Giambrone and Judice for LSU, Wayne Golden and Gus Malespin for SLU, Jimmy Kropog for UNO, and Tommy Casse for Nicholls State. Francingues, Bullinger, and Malespin went on to play in the pros. DeGroutolla was drafted but did not sign.

Additional players on the combined teams that have not been previously mentioned included Nick Olivari, Clay Morgan, John Lorino, Tommy Bryant, Ray Boudreau, Eric Leingang. Other prep team members included Chuck Melito, Tim Richard, and Steve Speeg.

Two years later, Schaff made a return trip to the American Legion World Series in Manchester, New Hampshire. In their fourth game, they were eliminated by the Arlington Heights team from Des Plaines, Illinois. Malespin was named American Legion Player of the Year for his performance in the tournament.

Schaff finally gained its first American Legion World Series title in 2006 over Terre Haute, Illinois.


Hometown Heroes: Southeast Louisiana products in MLB, MiLB (July 31)

Here’s the monthly update of pitching and hitting stats for many of the 2022 major-league and minor-league players who prepped or played collegiately in the New Orleans area and Southeast Louisiana. All stats are cumulative for the season, through Sunday July 31. Below are some of the highlights for July.

DJ LeMahieu (LSU) had his best month of the season with a slash line of .344/.462/.490, with 4 HRs and 11 RBIs.

Will Harris (Slidell HS, LSU) finally came off the Injured List, but struggled in his first few minor-league outings.

Alex Lange (LSU) is averaging 11.7 strikeouts per 9 innings and has a 146 ERA+ with Detroit.

Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola (Catholic HS, LSU) is third in the National League in strikeouts (152) and WHIP (0.938).

Texas Rangers infielder Josh Smith (Catholic HS, LSU) hit his first MLB home run on July 11, a three-run slam.

Jacob Berry (LSU) was the 6th overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft by the Miami Marlins, receiving a $6 million bonus. Other MLB draftees from the area include Cade Doughty (LSU, 2nd round, supplemental pick of the Blue Jays), Eric Reyzelman (LSU, 5th round pick of Yankees), and Paul Gervase (LSU, 12th round pick of Mets).



Alex Bregman—Astros (LSU) 73 G, .242 BA, .350 OBP, 13 HR, 55 RBI

Jake FraleyReds (LSU) MLB: 17 G, .180 BA, .255 OBP, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 1 SB; MiLB: 13 G, .262 BA, .392 OBP, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 SB

Kevin Gausman—Blue Jays (LSU) 19 G, 7-83.30 ERA, 103.2 IP, 122 SO

Ian Gibaut—Guardians (Tulane) MLB: 9 G, 0-0, 5.79 ERA, 9.1 IP, 16 SO; MiLB: 17 G, 2-0, 3.20 ERA, 19.2 IP, 19 SO

Alex Lange—Tigers (LSU) 44 G, 4-1, 2.70 ERA, 40.0 IP, 52 SO

Aaron Loup—Angels (Hahnville HS, Tulane) 42 G, 0-3, 4.71 ERA, 36.1 IP, 44 SO

DJ LeMahieu—Yankees (LSU) 93 G, .285 BA, .389 OBP, 11 HR, 42 RBI

Wade Miley—Cubs (Loranger HS, Southeastern) MLB: 4 G, 1-0, 2.84 ERA, 19.0 IP, 12 SO; MiLB: 2 G, 5.68 ERA, 6.1 IP, 4 SO (On 15-day Injured List)

Aaron Nola—Phillies (Catholic HS, LSU) 21 G, 7-8, 3.25 ERA, 138.2 IP, 152 SO

Austin Nola—Padres (Catholic HS, LSU) 68 G, .241 BA, .313 OBP, 2 HR, 26 RBI

Michael Papierski—Reds (LSU) MLB: 21 G, .161 BA, .266 OBP, 0 HR, 1 RBI; MiLB: 40 G, .210 BA, .297 OBP, 3 HR, 28 RBI

Tanner Rainey—Nationals (St. Paul’s HS, Southeastern) 29 G, 1-3, 12 SV, 3.30 ERA, 30.0 IP, 36 SO

Jake Rogers—Tigers (Tulane) On 60-day Injured List

Josh Smith—Rangers (Catholic HS, LSU) MLB: 37 G, .221 BA, .333 OBP, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 2 SB; MiLB: 44 G, .266 BA, .370 OBP, 4 HR, 30 RBI, 8 SB



Drew Avans–-Dodgers (Southeastern) 78 G, .291 BA, .382 OBP, 5 HR, 28 RBI, 22 SB

Greg Deichmann—Cubs (Brother Martin HS, LSU) 68 G, .225 BA, .282 OBP, 7 HR, 29 RBI, 7 SB

J.P. France—Astros (Shaw HS, Tulane, Miss. State) 20 G, 2-4, 1 SV, 4.55 ERA, 85.0 IP, 105 SO

Cole Freeman—Nationals (LSU) 47 G, .233 BA, .285 OBP, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 14 SB

Will Harris—Nationals (Slidell HS, LSU) 3 G, 0-1, 15.43 ERA, 2.1 IP, 1 SO

Cole Henry–-Nationals (LSU) 9 G, 1-0, 1.71 ERA, 31.2 IP, 34 SO; Currently on 7-day Injured List

JaCoby Jones—Royals (LSU) 38 G, .214 BA, .270 OBP, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 2 SB (Released June 12)

Eric Orze—Mets (UNO) 28 G, 4-2, 5.05 ERA, 41.0 IP, 57 SO

Kramer Robertson—Mets (LSU) MLB: 2 G, .000 BA, .000 OBP, 0 HR, 1 RBI; MiLB: 72 G, .242 BA, .398 OBP, 7 HR, 30 RBI, 20 SB

Cam Sanders – Cubs (E. D. White HS, LSU) 19 G, 2-7, 5.35 ERA, 70.2 IP, 79 SO

Shawn Semple—Yankees (UNO) 3 G, 1-0, 7.04 ERA, 7.2 IP, 3 SO; Currently on 60-Day Injured List

Andrew Stevenson—Nationals (St. Thomas More HS, LSU) 87 G, .281 BA, .339 OBP, 7 HR, 41 RBI, 26 SB

Grant Witherspoon – Rays (Tulane) 74 G, .281 BA, .351 OBP, 11 HR, 42 RBI, 11 SB



Jared Biddy–-Rockies (Southeastern) 21 G, 3-1, 3.00 ERA, 33.0 IP, 33 SO

Nick Bush—Rockies (LSU) 19 G, 7-6, 3.68 ERA, 100.1 IP, 98 SO

Hudson Haskin—Orioles (Tulane) 73 G, .264 BA, .351 OBP, 11 HR, 34 RBI, 3 SB

Kody Hoese—Dodgers (Tulane) 56 G, .269 BA, .299 OBP, 5 HR, 30 RBI, 1 SB

Andrew Mitchell—Mets (Jesuit HS, Delgado, Auburn) 23 G, 1-1, 3 SV, 6.37 ERA, 29.2 IP, 30 SO

Braden Olthoff–-Angels (Tulane) 17 G, 5-5, 1 SV, 3.06 ERA, 85.1 IP, 62 SO

Kaleb Roper—White Sox (Rummel, Tulane) 19 G, 2-4, 7.68 ERA, 65.2 IP, 67 SO

Mac Sceroler—Reds (Denham Springs HS, Southeastern); Currently on 60-Day Injured List

Zach Watson—Orioles (LSU) 67 G, .186 BA, .246 OBP, 7 HR, 19 RBI, 2 SB



Donovan Benoit–-Reds (Tulane) 26 G, 3-4, 4.34 ERA, 37.1 IP, 49 SO

Collin Burns-–Orioles (De La Salle HS, Tulane) 72 G, .277 BA, .337 OBP, 6 HR, 30 RBI, 11 SB

Daniel Cabrera—Tigers (John Curtis HS, Delgado, LSU) 82 G, .252 BA, .314 OBP, 7 HR, 32 RBI, 6 SB

Brendan Cellucci—Red Sox (Tulane) 31 G, 1-3, 4.84 ERA, 44.2 IP, 60 SO

Saul Garza-–Royals (LSU) 23 G, .167 BA, .222 OBP, 0 HR, 10 RBI, 0 SB

Zack Hess—Tigers (LSU) On 60-Day Injured List

Aaron McKeithan–-Cardinals (Tulane) 60 G, .283 BA, .390 OBP, 4 HR, 23 RBI

Chase Solesky—White Sox (Tulane) 19 G, 3-7, 4.75 ERA, 85.1 IP, 58 SO

Bryce Tassin—Tigers (Southeastern) 28 G, 2-2, 4.87 ERA, 44.1 IP, 39 SO, 1 SV

Tyree Thompson--Rangers (Karr HS) 14 G, 1-0, 7.13 ERA, 17.2 IP, 18 SO

Justin Williams—Phillies (Terrebone HS) 15 G, .259 BA, .322 OBP, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 4 SB



Jack Aldrich-–Royals (Tulane) 20 G, 1-2, 4.81 ERA, 39.1 IP, 31 SO, 2 SV

Connor Pellerin–-Yankees (Episcopal HS Baton Rouge, Tulane) On 60-Day Disabled List

Todd Peterson—Nationals (LSU) 14 G, 0-2, 2 SV, 5.09 ERA, 17.2 IP, 21 SO


Rookie League

Jacob Berry – Marlins (LSU) 3 G, .167 BA, .231 OBP, 0 HR, 2 RBI


Independent League

Antoine Duplantis—Mets (LSU) Ind:  43 G, .298 BA, .314 OBP, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 10 SB; MiLB: 26 G, .132 BA, .184 OBP, 1 HR, 7 RBI

Nick GoodyMexican League (LSU) 14 G, 2-1, 2 SV, 2.40 ERA, 15.0 IP, 24 SO; Ind. 15 G, 0-2, 5 SV, 4.20 ERA, 15.0 IP, 24 SO


Japanese League

Kyle Keller–-Hanshin (Jesuit, Southeastern) 31 G, 0-3, 2.79 ERA, 29.0 IP, 41 SO

Will Clark's No. 22 retired this weekend by San Francisco Giants

New Orleans native Will Clark added to his collegiate and professional baseball honors this weekend by having his jersey number 22 retired by the San Francisco Giants. He played for the Giants from 1986 to 1993, as part of his 15-year major-league career.

Clark, a former Jesuit High School standout, joins the likes of Christy Mathewson, John McGraw, Bill Terry, Gretna native Mel Ott (Number 4), Carl Hubbell, Monte Irvin, Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda, and Gaylord Perry in receiving this recognition. Except for Clark and Bonds, all of these former Giants players are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The ceremony to retire Clark’s number, which took place on July 30 at San Francisco’s Oracle Park, was originally planned for July 11, 2020, but had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Acquiring the nickname “Will the Thrill” from teammate Bob Brenly, Clark made an immediate impact when he joined the Giants as a rookie in 1986. In his first major-league at-bat, he hit a home run on his first swing off Houston Astros pitcher Nolan Ryan in the Astrodome. It was the start of his heroics with the Giants.

Twitter video of Clark’s first home run:

In 1987 Clark helped the Giants win their first division championship since 1971, when he led the Giants with 35 home runs and 91 RBIs. He became known for his smooth, sweeping swing, prompting sportswriters to tag him with the moniker “The Natural.”

The Giants won the National League pennant in 1989, their first since 1962. Clark finished second to teammate Kevin Mitchell in the voting for NL MVP, when he had a .333/.407/.546 slash line, 23 home runs, and 111 RBIs. He lost the league batting title to Tony Gwynn (.336) on the last day of the season.

Clark single-handedly dismantled the Chicago Cubs in the 1989 NLCS by hitting .650/.682/1.882, with two home runs and 8 RBIs in five games. But the Giants were swept by the Oakland A’s in his only World Series appearance.

Youtube video of Clark’s 1989 NLCS Game 1:

He led the National League in total bases (303) in 1991, contributing to his fourth-place finish in the MVP voting, and won his second Silver Slugger Award and the Gold Glove Award for first basemen.

Clark was an All-Star Game selection in five of his eight seasons with the Giants. He signed as a free agent with the Texas Rangers after the 1993 season. He spent five seasons with Texas before moving on to Baltimore and St. Louis during his final two years. He retired at 36 years old after the 2000 season. His career stats include a .303/.384/.497 slash line, 2,176 hits, 284 home runs, and 1,205 RBIs.

The jersey number retirement is just one of many post-career honors Clark has garnered.

In his native state of Louisiana where he played for American Legion and high school baseball teams for Jesuit High School, he has been inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame (2003), the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame (2012), the New Orleans Professional Hall of Fame (2007), the Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame (2003), and the Diamond Club of New Orleans Hall of Fame (2001).

In the state of Mississippi, where he was an All-American at Mississippi State University, he holds a place of honor in the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame (2008) and the Mississippi State University Hall of Fame (2003). He was inducted into the Mississippi State Baseball Ring of Honor in 2019.

Clark was included into the inaugural class of the College Baseball Hall of Fame (2006) and was named to the College World Series Legends Team (2010), in a poll of college baseball writers and Division I coaches.

The Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in California honored him in 2007.

Clark currently serves as a special assistant for the Giants organization.

For more on the baseball career of Will Clark, Crescent City Sports has a nine-part series on one of the best players the metro area has ever produced.

Hall of Famer Mel Ott an enigma in MLB all-star games

The 92nd MLB All-Star Game is coming up on July 19 at Dodger Stadium, and it’s an appropriate time to recall how former New Orleanian major leaguers fared in the annual mid-summer classic. One player who was paradox in All-Star Game contests was Gretna native Mel Ott. Considering the consistent offensive production by the Hall of Famer during his 22-year big league career, his performance in 11 all-star games was surprisingly mediocre at best.

One of the early “phenoms” in major league baseball, Ott signed with the New York Giants as a 17-year-old in 1926. After two years as an understudy of Giants manager John McGraw, Ott was a regular in McGraw’s lineup in 1928 at 19 years of age. He immediately lived up to expectations with a slash line of .322/.397/.524, 18 home runs, and 77 RBIs.

In 1929 Ott posted career highs in home runs (42) and RBIs (151) and was well on his way to becoming one of the best ballplayers in Giants history.

He went on to become one of the most productive hitters in major-league history, batting .302 and blasting 511 home runs and 1,860 RBIs during his career that ended in 1947. Ott was the National League career leader in home runs when he retired, and his record stood until Willie Mays passed him in 1966. The left-handed slugger was famous for his batting stance which featured a high leg lift before making contact with the ball.

However, Ott’s excellence in hitting didn’t carry over to All-Star Games. His first appearance came in 1934, in only the second year the American League all-stars faced their National League counterparts. He was selected for the next 11 seasons as well, making him one of the longest-tenured all-stars at the time.

But Ott managed only five hits in 24 all-star plate appearances, and he failed to hit a home run or RBI for which he had become famous. (He led the NL in home runs in five of the seasons he was named to the all-star team.)

In researching his career, there is no obvious explanation for Ott’s meager all-star performance. After all, he was facing the American League’s best, including future Hall of Famers such as Lefty Gomez, Red Ruffing, Lefty Grove, Bob Feller, and Hal Newhouser. Perhaps he was just saving his best for the regular-season games.

A long-time popular baseball park and playground in Gretna bears Ott’s name. A section of Louisiana Highway 23 in Gretna was named Mel Ott Parkway by the Louisiana legislature in 2004. He was the target of Leo Durocher’s now-famous phrase “Nice Guys Finish Last.”

Last year at All-Star Game time, I posted an article about New Orleans native Connie Ryan’s noteworthy performance in the 1944 All-Star Game. He fared better than Ott, who went hitless.

Tom Schwaner: A New Orleans baseball institution

Baseball followers in New Orleans during the mid-1950s through 2000 were well familiar with Tom Schwaner. That’s because his baseball career spanned those years playing at the high school, college, and professional levels, followed by long stints as a high school and college coach. Except for the years he played professionally, he was a fixture in local baseball, capped by his 14-year tenure as the head baseball coach at the University of New Orleans.

Last week, I had the pleasure of talking to Schwaner, now 83 years old, about his extensive career.

A three-sport letterman at St. Aloysius, Schwaner also played football and track in addition to his favorite sport, baseball. Schwaner said about his high-school days, “I couldn’t wait for one season to roll over to the next, but baseball was the one I thought I had the best chance to excel in.”

After his senior season in high school in 1957, Schwaner played for Coach Rags Scheuermann on the All-American Amateur Baseball Association all-star team that played in the national tournament in Johnstown, PA. It was through this relationship that Scheuermann offered him a baseball scholarship at Loyola University in New Orleans. Schwaner recalled, “I had already enrolled at LSU, but when Rags came up with the scholarship offer at the last minute, I couldn’t pass it up.”

Schwaner played two seasons at Loyola for Scheuermann. “He taught me just about everything I know about baseball,” said the former shortstop.

After his stellar sophomore season that included a .415 batting average, six homers, six triples, and seven doubles, Schwaner thought he would be signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Dodgers scout Tony John had closely followed him at Loyola and indicated he would get an offer. But the Dodgers’ offer never came, and Schwaner signed with the St. Louis Cardinals who produced a lucrative bonus offer, reported by the Associated Press to be $50,000.

According to the Associated Press, Cardinals farm director Walter Shannon called Schwaner “the outstanding shortstop prospect in the United States.”  Shannon said,” Tom has shown marked improvement over the past two seasons. He can run, field, hit, and throw. He’s aggressive and has a wonderful attitude toward the game.”

Scheuermann, who had coached other amateurs in the city receiving substantial bonuses, told the Times-Picayune, “I’d have to say that Tom probably is the best boy I have ever coached.” Scheuermann said, “He thinks like a major leaguer. I’m happy to see him get this wonderful opportunity. I’m certain he’ll be a credit to the game.”

Schwaner’s first minor-league assignment was with Class A York in the Eastern League in 1959. Schwaner remembers his first at-bat was against a menacing Juan Marichal, a future Hall of Famer with the San Francisco Giants. “I was overmatched in my first minor-league season,” he said. “Remember, I had only played 18 games with Loyola that season.” He was optioned to Class D Keokuk later in the season, where his roommate was 17-year-old Tim McCarver, who went on to play 21 major-league seasons.

He worked his way up to Class AA Tulsa toward the end of the 1961 season and then started the 1962 season with them. However, he was hitting under .200 when he was released to Class A Binghampton in the Kansas City A’s organization toward the end of what was his last season. In four minor-league seasons, he batted .246 with 34 home runs and 218 RBIs.

Schwaner recalls his professional career. “I had a lot of fun, but I had to weigh my chances of getting to the big leagues, and I remember major leaguers were only making about $12,000 per year at the time. I didn’t see that as an enticing future. And being married with two children, I decided to move on.”

Schwaner returned to New Orleans and secured a job as math teacher and baseball coach at Rummel High School for the 1962-63 school year, the school’s first year of operation. Having earned his master’s degree at Loyola, he was also assistant principal during his last two years of employment with Rummel. After a two-year stint as principal at St. John Vianney in 1972 and 1973, he became the baseball coach at Brother Martin High School through 1977.

During his years as prep coach, his Rummel-based Schaff Brothers American Legion teams won the district championship in 1968, followed by state titles in 1970 and 1971.

With Brother Martin-based Deviney’s, he won the American Legion district title in 1974, when he was named the Coach of the Year. In 1975, Brother Martin High School won its first-ever district title and finished second in the state playoffs. Schwaner was named the All-City Coach of the Year.

After 16 years in a prep coaching career, Schwaner applied for a coaching job at the University of New Orleans. Schwaner says head coach Ron Maestri initially took him on as a volunteer coach, while he taught math classes at UNO and Xavier University. The role later became a full-time assistant coaching job.

UNO was in its heyday as a college program under Maestri. He led the Privateers to six NCAA Regional appearances during 1977 to 1983, including the College World Series in 1983. Schwaner credits Maestri with building teams with top talent from around the country that contributed to a nationally-recognized program.

After 13 seasons as UNO’s head coach, Maestri retired and turned over the reins to Schwaner in the spring of 1985. With his first season at the helm in 1986, Schwaner continued the Privateers’ winning tradition with three straight NCAA Regional teams in 1987-89. UNO had a fourth Regional appearance under Schwaner in 1996.

Schwaner recalled, “I had a number of good teams, but I’d have to say the 1988 team was probably the best because it featured future major leaguers Ted Wood, Brian Traxler, and Joe Slusarski.”  The team won the American South Conference regular season championship. Schwaner pointed out that Slusarski and Wood represented UNO in the Olympics that summer.

He earned American South Coach of the Year honors in 1989. During his 14 seasons, he coached over 40 players who played professional baseball, including another major leaguer, Jim Bullinger.

Schwaner retired from UNO after the 1999 season with a 462-373 record, which is currently the second highest winning percentage in UNO history, trailing only Maestri.

The Schwaner baseball family tree continued with Tom’s son Jeff, who played for Louisiana Tech, and his grandson Tyler, who played for University of Louisiana Monroe. Tom’s nephew Scott played for UNO (including 1983 with the College World Series team), while great-nephews Nick played for UNO and Taylor played for Southeastern Louisiana. Nick also played two seasons in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Schwaner is quick to point out the family’s athletes also included daughter Karen, who played AAU basketball, and granddaughter Lindsay, who played soccer with Southern Mississippi.

Whenever the history and tradition of New Orleans baseball is discussed, Tom Schwaner belongs in the conversation, not only because of his longevity in the sport, but also because of what he accomplished as a player and coach across multiple levels of the sport.


Former Jesuit and Loyola star Don Wetzel swapped his baseball glove for a history-making business career

We never think about what we’d do without ATM machines. We take them for granted nowadays. Looking back at the history of ATMs, you’ll find former New Orleanian Don Wetzel as the inventor.

Before Wetzel embarked on his business career and created the ground-breaking technology over fifty years ago, he was a Jesuit High School prep baseball and American Legion star in the 1940s. He also played a season for Loyola University and then pursued a professional baseball career as a 19-year-old. However, with counsel from a veteran major leaguer, he decided to leave the sport he loved after three pro seasons and complete his college education. His course correction ultimately led to a career in financial services and banking, where he developed and implemented the first commercial use of ATMs.

I caught up with Wetzel earlier this week to talk about his baseball career. Now 93 years old living in Dallas, he was happy to recall his time at Jesuit High School and Loyola University and in the minor leagues with the Giants organization.

He was an All-Prep performer as an infielder with Jesuit for three straight years beginning in 1944. Jesuit won Louisiana state championships in 1945 and 1946, with 5-foot-7, 140-pound Wetzel playing a key role. The Times-Picayune called Wetzel “one of the finest fielding infielders of the league.” Other key contributors of the 1946 team included additional All-Prep Blue Jays: first baseman Tookie Gilbert (MVP of the league), pitcher Hugh Oser, catcher Jack Golden, and outfielders Stanley McDermott and Monroe Caballero.

When coach Eddie Toribio’s roster for the 1946 summer American Legion team for Jesuit players was formed, Oser, Golden and infielders Pete Tusa and Rene Kronlage were missing due to an age limitation for Legion participation. Gilbert opted to skip the American Legion season so that he could participate in a prestigious high school all-star game in Chicago.

The absence of these players forced Toribio to use less experienced players as backfills. The average age of the team was 16 years old. Yet Jesuit defeated Shreveport for the state title and Little Rock for the regional title. In three regional games, Wetzel collected seven hits in 16 at-bats, scored five runs, and handled 21 chances without an error. The Blue Jays defeated Thomasville, Georgia for the sectional championship, earning them a berth in the Little World Series in Charleston, South Carolina. Jesuit’s last appearance in the Legion World Series came in 1934.

Their World Series opponents were Trenton, Los Angeles, and Cincinnati. After going into the loser’s bracket with a loss to Los Angeles, Jesuit rebounded with wins over Cincinnati, Los Angeles, and Trenton twice to capture the championship. Wetzel and pitcher Pat Rooney were named to the all-tournament team. Wetzel was the second-best hitter in the tournament, with nine hits in 20 at-bats for a .450 average. He received the tournament’s sportsmanship award.

Wetzel said about the team’s success. “I was surprised we went as far as we did. We were left with a very young team that lacked experience at several positions. But we pulled together to play good ball.”

Wetzel got an opportunity to play baseball for Loyola in 1947, along with several of his American Legion teammates. Loyola finished with a 17-4 record with two ties, as Wetzel led the team in batting average.

Wetzel recalled he was scouted by Gernon Brown, the long-time Jesuit baseball coach, who was then working for the New York Giants. He said, “Brown offered me a contract after my freshman season, so I decided to give it a try. It was my first time being away from home, but I enjoyed it. I was around people who loved baseball. We would rent housing from local residents during the season.”

Wetzel said he was initially assigned to Jersey City in the Giants organization but then was sent to Class B Trenton in the Interstate League for his first season, where he batted .243 with 61 RBIs. Trenton finished second in the league during the regular season, and then defeated York in the playoffs.

He started out with Trenton for the 1949 season, and after 50 games was sent to Class C St. Cloud in the Northern League. Between the two teams, he batted .236 with five home runs and 46 RBIs. His on-base percentage was an impressive .416.

He returned to St. Cloud in 1950, where his manager was Charlie Fox who was then only 28 years old. Fox would eventually wind up in the major leagues as a manager for San Francisco, Montreal, and the Chicago Cubs. St. Cloud won the regular season title, with Wetzel batting .274.

Wetzel said he got sound advice from fellow New Orleanian Connie Ryan, who was a major leaguer at the time. “Connie told me that if player didn’t make the major leagues within five years, the chances of eventually making it were very slim. Since I hadn’t progressed in my three years, I decided to quit and return to college full time.”

Wetzel had continued to attend classes at Loyola around his baseball seasons. He finished his degree in 1951 and went to work for IBM. Wetzel said, “At first, I went to work for a service bureau affiliate of IBM in the financial industry. I started out as a machine operator.” He progressed through the ranks at IBM as a service bureau manager, systems engineer, sales representative, and regional industry representative. The banking industry became his specialty.

He left IBM in 1968 and joined Docutel Corporation, where he first pitched the idea of a banking terminal available for use by customers. In 1969 he implemented the first “cash box” (an ATM that only dispensed cash) which was installed at Chemical Bank in Long Island, New York. Later on, he formed his own company that consulted with banks on providing remote ATMs, as well as ones that performed other banking functions.

In an interview with Fox News in 2019, on the 50th anniversary of the first ATM, Wetzel said his first attempts to market the ATM for use at banks was met with great skepticism. He said, “People [bank officers] thought I was nuts. They would say, ‘You mean a cash machine that anyone could just walk up to and use? I don’t think so. We have tellers who do that.’ Then I had to explain why I thought it would be of great value to their customers.”

ATMs eventually caught on throughout the banking industry and the rest is history.

In a 2019 ceremony at the site of the first ATM, a bank official declared, “The ATM revolutionized the banking industry, and its impact on our economy cannot be overstated.” Wetzel became known as the “father of 24-hour banking.” It is estimated there are over 3.5 million ATMs installed across the world.

In a 1995 interview with the National Museum of American History, Wetzel talked about how his professional baseball career influenced him later in his business and personal life. He said, “I think I learned two things. One was I met a lot of people that I would never have met and was able to interact with them. So, I learned about that – a lot about people, and how they feel, and how they react under situations that sometimes are a little pressing and trying. The other thing I learned was how to live away from home. You know, that’s an education in itself, and of course I’d always lived at home. So those two things helped me greatly.”

Wetzel says he still gets requests in the mail for his autograph. However, the requests are not because of his baseball career, but from people who remember his ground-breaking contribution to modern society.

Hometown Heroes: Southeast Louisiana products in MLB, MiLB (June 30)

Here’s the monthly report of pitching and hitting stats for many of the 2022 major-league and minor-league players who prepped or played collegiately in the New Orleans area and Southeast Louisiana. All stats are cumulative for the season, through Thursday June 30. Below are some of the highlights for June.

DJ LeMahieu (LSU) had a productive month of June with a slash line of .272/.398/.424, 4 HRs, 12 RBIs, as the Yankees went 22-6 for the month.

Austin Nola (LSU) got hit first hit, an RBI single, off his brother Aaron Nola (LSU) on June 24. It turned out to be the winning hit of the game for the Padres.

Alex Lange (LSU) has four wins in relief for a struggling Detroit Tigers team. He has the most appearances (31) of any Tigers pitcher, and he’s still sporting a nifty 1.95 ERA.

After being traded by the Astros to San Francisco and making his MLB debut in May, Michael Papierski (LSU) was selected off waivers by the Cincinnati Reds on June 25 and placed on the MLB roster.

Kramer Robertson (LSU) was claimed off waivers by the Atlanta Braves on June 5 and then claimed off waivers by the New York Mets on June 27. He is currently playing for Triple-A Syracuse.

Andrew Stevenson (LSU) is making his case for a callup with the big-league Nationals, with a slash line of .311/.377/.476, 6 HRs, 33 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases for the season.

After a horrid start in the first half of June, Collins Burns (De La Salle HS, Tulane) is currently on a 14-game hitting streak that includes the first three home runs of his pro career.

Greg Deichmann (Brother Martin HS, LSU) stepped up his game in June with a .295/.375/.590 slash line with 5 HRs, 18 RBIs.

Grant Witherspoon (Tulane) was promoted to Triple A Durham in the Rays organization, after a slash line of .294/.346/.490, 7 HRs, and 33 RBIs at the Double-A level.



Alex Bregman—Astros (LSU) 73 G, .242 BA, .360 OBP, 9 HR, 38 RBI

Kevin Gausman—Blue Jays (LSU) 15 G, 6-6, 2.93 ERA, 86.0 IP, 97 SO

Ian Gibaut—Guardians (Tulane) MLB: 1 G, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.1 IP, 0 SO; MiLB: 17 G, 2-0, 3.20 ERA, 19.2 IP, 19 SO

Will Harris—Nationals (Slidell HS, LSU) On 60-Day Injured List

Alex Lange—Tigers (LSU) 32 G, 4-1, 2.22 ERA, 28.1 IP, 34 SO

Aaron Loup—Angels (Hahnville HS, Tulane) 32 G, 0-2, 4.33 ERA, 27.0 IP, 31 SO

DJ LeMahieu—Yankees (LSU) 68 G, .262 BA, .359 OBP, 7 HR, 31 RBI

Wade Miley—Cubs (Loranger HS, Southeastern) MLB: 4 G, 1-0, 2.84 ERA, 19.0 IP, 12 SO; MiLB: 1 G, 0.00 ERA, 4.0 IP, 3 SO (On 15-day Injured List)

Aaron Nola—Phillies (Catholic HS, LSU) 16 G, 5-5, 3.13 ERA, 103.2 IP, 117 SO

Austin Nola—Padres (Catholic HS, LSU) 54 G, .235 BA, .306 OBP, 2 HR, 23 RBI

Michael Papierski—Reds (LSU) MLB: 7 G, .200 BA, .250 OBP, 0 HR, 0 RBI; MiLB: 40 G, .210 BA, .297 OBP, 3 HR, 28 RBI

Tanner Rainey—Nationals (St. Paul’s HS, Southeastern) 25 G, 1-2, 11 SV, 2.88 ERA, 25.0 IP, 30 SO

Jake Rogers—Tigers (Tulane) On 60-day Injured List

Josh Smith—Rangers (Catholic HS, LSU) MLB: 12 G, .258 BA, .439 OBP, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 2 SB; MiLB: 44 G, .266 BA, .370 OBP, 4 HR, 30 RBI, 8 SB



Drew Avans–-Dodgers (Southeastern) 56 G, .283 BA, .385 OBP, 5 HR, 22 RBI, 13 SB

Greg Deichmann—Cubs (Brother Martin HS, LSU) 50 G, .238 BA, .296 OBP, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 5 SB

Jake FraleyReds (LSU) MLB: 15 G, .116 BA, .208 OBP, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 SB; MiLB: 4 G, .182 BA, .400 OBP, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 SB (60-day Injured List)

J.P. France—Astros (Shaw HS, Tulane, Miss. State) 15 G, 2-3, 4.62 ERA, 62.1 IP, 83 SO

Cole Freeman—Nationals (LSU) 37 G, .217 BA, .276 OBP, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 11 SB

Cole Henry–-Nationals (LSU) 9 G, 1-0, 1.71 ERA, 31.2 IP, 34 SO

Jacoby Jones—Royals (LSU) 38 G, .214 BA, .270 OBP, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 2 SB

Eric Orze—Mets (UNO) 21 G, 2-2, 4.88 ERA, 31.1 IP, 47 SO

Kramer Robertson—Mets (LSU) MLB: 2 G, .000 BA, .000 OBP, 0 HR, 1 RBI; MiLB: 53 G, .233 BA, .393 OBP, 6 HR, 25 RBI, 17 SB

Shawn Semple—Yankees (UNO) 2 G, 1-0, 8.31 ERA, 4.1 IP, 3 SO; Currently on 60-Day Injured List

Andrew Stevenson—Nationals (St. Thomas More HS, LSU) 68 G, .311 BA, .377 OBP, 6 HR, 33 RBI, 20 SB

Justin Williams—Phillies (Terrebone HS) 1 G, .250 BA, .250 OBP, 0 HR, 0 RBI; Currently On 7-Day Injured List

Grant Witherspoon – Rays (Tulane) 56 G, .298 BA, .350 OBP, 8 HR, 35 RBI, 19 SB



Nick Bush—Rockies (LSU) 14 G, 5-5, 3.57 ERA, 75.2 IP, 71 SO

Hudson Haskin—Orioles (Tulane) 58 G, .269 BA, .348 OBP, 9 HR, 31 RBI, 2 SB

Kody Hoese—Dodgers (Tulane) 37 G, .284 BA, .306 OBP, 3 HR, 21 RBI

Andrew Mitchell—Mets (Jesuit HS, Delgado, Auburn) 17 G, 0-1, 4.88 ERA, 24.0 IP, 26 SO

Braden Olthoff–-Angels (Tulane) 13 G, 3-4, 2.94 ERA, 64.1 IP, 54 SO

Kaleb Roper—White Sox (Rummel, Tulane) 14 G, 2-4, 6.55 ERA, 57.2 IP, 57 SO

Cam Sanders – Cubs (E. D. White HS, LSU) 14 G, 1-4, 3.95 ERA, 57.0 IP, 66 SO

Mac Sceroler—Reds (Denham Springs HS, Southeastern) On 60-Day Injured List

Zach Watson—Orioles (LSU) 52 G, .199 BA, .260 OBP, 4 HR, 14 RBI, 2 SB



Jack Aldrich-–Royals (Tulane) 15 G, 1-2, 3.82 ERA, 33.0 IP, 28 SO, 1 SV

Donovan Benoit–-Reds (Tulane) 20 G, 3-2, 3.14 ERA, 28.2 IP, 35 SO

Jared Biddy–-Rockies (Southeastern) 14 G, 2-1, 2.92 ERA, 24.2 IP, 23 SO

Collin Burns-–Orioles (De La Salle HS, Tulane) 53 G, .279 BA, .350 OBP, 3 HR, 20 RBI, 10 SB

Daniel Cabrera—Tigers (John Curtis HS, Delgado, LSU) 61 G, .254 BA, .307 OBP, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 6 SB

Brendan Cellucci—Red Sox (Tulane) 24 G, 1-3, 5.50 ERA, 36.0 IP, 51 SO

Zack Hess—Tigers (LSU) On 60-Day Injured List

Chase Solesky—White Sox (Tulane) 15 G, 3-6, 4.41 ERA, 65.1 IP, 46 SO

Bryce Tassin—Tigers (Southeastern) 20 G, 2-2, 5.24 ERA, 34.1 IP, 28 SO, 1 SV

Tyree Thompson--Rangers (Karr HS) 8 G, 0-0, 7.00 ERA, 9.0 IP, 5 SO



Connor Pellerin–-Yankees (Episcopal HS Baton Rouge, Tulane) On 60-Day Disabled List

Aaron McKeithan–-Cardinals (Tulane) 39 G, .264 BA, .368 OBP, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 1 SB

Todd Peterson—Nationals (LSU) Currently On 7-Day Injured List


Rookie League

Kody Hoese—Dodgers (Tulane) 41 G, .281 BA, .304 OBP, 4 HR, 24 RBI

Saul Garza-–Royals (LSU) 15 G, .208 BA, .263 OBP, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 0 SB


Independent League

Antoine Duplantis—Mets (LSU) Ind:  16 G, .271 BA, .297 OBP, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 5 SB; MiLB: 26 G, .132 BA, .184 OBP, 1 HR, 7 RBI

Nick GoodyMexican League (LSU) 14 G, 2-1, 2.40 ERA, 15.0 IP, 24 SO; Ind. 9 G, 0-1, 2.70 ERA, 10.0 IP, 16 SO


Japanese League

Kyle Keller–-Hanshin (Jesuit, Southeastern) 27 G, 0-3, 3.24 ERA, 25.0 IP, 35 SO

2013's No. 1 draft pick Mark Appel finally reaches the big leagues

Stanford University pitcher Mark Appel was on top of the world in 2013, when he was made the first overall draft pick of the MLB June draft by his hometown Houston Astros. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound righthander was expected to be in the Astros rotation within a couple of years. But his career didn’t come close to turning out that way. Now, nine years later, Appel has finally been called up by the Philadelphia Phillies and will soon make his major-league debut.

The three years following his No. 1 draft selection were a huge disappointment for Appel and the Astros. He struggled with his pitching, not showing the consistency he had at Stanford. Some of his issues were attributed to lack of confidence. He was also beginning to experience arm problems.

The Astros gave up on their $6.35 million investment (Appel’s signing bonus in 2013) in December 2015 by trading him and four other minor-leaguers to the Philadelphia Phillies for closer Ken Giles and a minor leaguer. His MLB prospect ranking had dropped from No. 17 in 2014 to No. 70 prior to 2016.

He started the 2016 season at the Triple A level with the Phillies but was shut down after eight starts to undergo surgery to remove a bone spur in his elbow. Appel returned in 2017, but his control suffered, as he posted a 5.14 ERA and 1.738 WHIP.

Frustrated by his lack of progress in getting to the majors, he began thinking about a career outside of baseball. Prior to the start of spring training in 2018, Appel decided to step away from the game indefinitely. He said he was at peace with his decision if didn’t return.

But he found the desire and will to return to baseball in 2021. Although his attempt at a comeback was a long shot, he longed for one more attempt for an opportunity to reach the majors. He returned to the Phillies organization but his results, split between the Triple A and Double A levels, weren’t much different from when he retired three years earlier.

Now 30 years old, Appel came back for the 2022 season in a reliever role. In 19 appearances, he’s been remarkable, posting a 5-0 record to go along with an impressive 1.61 ERA and 0.929 WHIP.  It’s the best he’s been since his days at Stanford.

When Appel finally makes his long-awaited debut, he’ll avoid being only the third No. 1 overall draft pick in history to never play in the majors.  The other two were Steve Chilcott (1966) and Brien Taylor (1991).

“I have a story that’s not too common for first round picks,” said Appel. “But I think it’s common for a lot of minor league baseball players that go through struggles, find hardships and learn how to persevere through the midst of it.”

It’s been a long, arduous journey for Appel. But he teaches us a lesson about hope and determination.

Good luck, Mark.

Flashback: 1980 Jesuit baseball team repeats as the state's prep and Legion champions

In April, Crescent City Sports featured a story about the 1936 Jesuit High School team that won the state baseball championship with a roster whose entire starting lineup made the All-Prep team, including seven who went on to professional careers. In fact, there have been numerous other Jesuit-based teams which have had success in prep and American Legion seasons. 1980 was one of those special seasons.

Based on information from Jesuit’s baseball website, there have been 21 seasons in which Jesuit won state high school championships and 12 seasons in which Jesuit-based teams have won American Legion state titles. However, there have been only three years in Jesuit’s history in which the Blue Jays captured both the prep and Legion state titles in the same season. Two of those came in back-to-back years, 1979 and 1980, with the third in 2021.

Following Jesuit’s repeat of the state high school championship in 1980, their American Legion squad used its state title as the springboard that ultimately landed them in the American Legion World Series in Ely, Minnesota. The team finished fourth, unable to claim a championship like their 1946 and 1960 predecessors. Yet Frank Misuraca, Jesuit’s coach from 1967 to 1981, told the Times-Picayune after the 1980 season, “Without a doubt, this is the best ball team I’ve ever had, based on their accomplishments.”

The 1979 Jesuit High School team, with only four seniors on the roster, defeated New Iberia in the state prep finals. Junior pitcher Dickie Wentz was an all-state selection, posting a 9-1 record and a 1.71 ERA in 13 appearances. He was joined by senior first baseman Bobby Caire (.396 batting average) and junior second baseman Casey Snyder (.375 batting average). The Jesuit-based Odeco American Legion team proceeded to also win the 1979 state championship over Abe’s Grocery from Lake Charles.

The 1980 team boasted a veteran roster containing 11 senior members, including seven who were starters from the year before. Several of the players had been together since their Babe Ruth league days when they played for legendary coach Firmin Simms.

One of Jesuit’s seniors, Rodney Lenfant, recently recalled the 1980 team. “Coach Misuraca was all about preparation, preparation, preparation. Our work started in January and for the first month we weren’t allowed to touch a baseball. After several grueling weeks of near bootcamp-like experience getting us in shape, we were finally allowed to hit and throw the baseball.”

Lenfant’s senior teammate John Faciane said about Misuraca,  “He actually set the tone for the team when we were sophomores in 1978. He stressed fundamentals and got us to pay attention to the little things. We were not the most physical team, but we knew how to play. As a result, we were never out of a game.” Faciane’s assessment would be borne out by Jesuit’s comeback to win the state prep title and three occasions in Legion play when they rebounded from the loser’s bracket.

Pitching was expected to be a strength, with three returning starters who had experience in 1979, led by Dickie Wentz. Brian Shearman and Faciane were the other key hurlers, with third baseman Lenfant available in reserve. All four would figure into the 1980 season’s prep plans by Misuraca. The returning position players were led by Snyder and Gregg Barrios who had been an all-district outfielder in 1979.

The Blue Jays won the first-round of prep district play in 1980 with an undefeated record, including two wins over rival Rummel. At one point early in the season, Jesuit’s pitching staff rattled off a string of 36 scoreless innings. But Rummel rebounded in the second half and defeated Jesuit twice to clinch the 11-AAAA district title. Both teams earned spots in the state playoffs.

Jesuit defeated East Jefferson in an 11-inning thriller, followed by a win over Belaire, to advance to the state finals against Rummel. Brad Escousse delivered key hits in both games. On the fourth attempt to schedule the championship game, due to three earlier rainouts, Jesuit got revenge against Rummel, who held the momentum from their previous two district wins. The Blue Jays won, 3-2, on the shoulders of Shearman, who relieved Wentz early in the game, and catcher Steve Riley, who hit the go-ahead home run. Jesuit won its first back-to-back state high school titles since 1945, 1946, and 1947. The 1980 team finished with a 22-3 record.

Lenfant remembers the win over Rummel as especially gratifying since members of both team were friends off the diamond. He said, “That win was the highlight of our Jesuit careers, as it was a repeat of the state championship. It was made even sweeter by knowing those guys so well on a personal level and due to the two losses they put on us in the second round of District play.”

Wentz recently recalled how Faciane and Shearman were key to the prep team’s success. “As high school pitchers, I’m not sure you could find many better than those guys. They both had more guts than a daytime burglar, but with different stuff.” Wentz added, “Shearman was sneaky fast, threw a heavy fastball and had a wicked ‘slurve.’ Faciane was NOLA prep’s version of Gregg Maddux, and he could throw a grape through a donut hole from 60 feet, six inches.”

Yet the hard-throwing Wentz was no easy opponent either. He was joined by Snyder, Barrios, and Riley on the All-Metro team. Shearman and Barrios joined them on the All-District 11-AAAA team, with Barrios being named Player of the Year.

Following the high school season, Wentz weighed his options of being selected by a major-league team in the June MLB draft versus attending college. He had been recruited by numerous colleges and had received interest letters from most of the major-league teams. The three-time All-Metro pitcher had been reported by Times-Picayune sportswriter Brian Allee-Walsh as the “best left-hander to come out of New Orleans since Mel Parnell,” who prepped at S. J. Peters High School in the 1940s and became an all-star pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. Wentz decided to accept a scholarship from Tulane.

The Jesuit-based Odeco Drillers’ starting lineup carried over from the high school championship squad, with two exceptions. Wynn Landry backfilled shortstop Tim Parenton, who opted to begin preparations related to his football scholarship at Mississippi State. Landry also added to the pitching depth as an occasional reliever. Sophomore Will Clark took over the first baseman’s job on a full-time basis, after playing as designated hitter for most of the prep season.

Odeco clinched the First District American Legion title behind Wentz’s two-hit shutout over Saucer Marine. The Drillers finished 15-4-1 in district play. Brad Escousse led the district with a .526 batting average.

Odeco was upset in their first game of the Southeast Louisiana Regional by Shaw-based Conmaco. But they fought their way out of the loser’s bracket to face undefeated Pelstate Automobile. Odeco wound up as the regional champion with two wins against Pelstate, the last one in 10 innings. Lenfant commented about Odeco’s comeback in the regional, “No other team had five arms, any one of which they could bring in at any time, and that made all the difference in our ability to come from behind time and time again.”

The next round of the Legion playoffs pitted Odeco against Morgan City in the South Louisiana tournament. The hard-throwing Wentz pitched one of the most topsy-turvy games of his career in the first game. He struck out 19, but also issued 10 walks and seven hits. Riley hit a grand slam home run in the eighth inning to lift the Drillers to an 8-4 win. Wentz remembers that Riley crushed the ball. “He was a big guy, and he kind of lumbered about. Pitchers tried to sneak the ball past him, but he had incredible wrists and a fast bat.”  In the next contest, Faciane pitched eight strong innings, while Warren Cuntz collected four RBIs in Odeco’s 15-3 win, advancing them to the state finals.

Odeco had little trouble with Crowley in the state finals, backed by two masterful pitching performances. Shearman won the first game, while Wentz, who struck out 18, won the title game. The victories earned them a spot in the Mid-South Regional. Wentz recalls about his outing, “I just remember throwing darts. The ball just jumped. Coach Misuraca took me out after eight innings, but I remember thinking I could throw five more innings if I had to. It was an incredible feeling.”

For the second time in their playoff run, Odeco went into the loser’s bracket after their first game in the Mid-South Regional. Jackson, Mississippi defeated them, 6-2. With the aid of their pitching depth, they rebounded with victories over Nashville, Memphis, and Little Rock. Lenfant, who got the win against Memphis, remembered how special it was to pitch in the stadium of the Memphis Chicks, a minor-league affiliate of the Montreal Expos at the time.

Odeco faced Oklahoma in the finals, winning 5-4 on Will Clark’s game-winning hit. Lenfant recalled the upstart Clark, who batted in the bottom third of the lineup at the time, had a breakout tournament in the Mid-South regional. People started to take notice of his hitting. After the game, Misuraca praised his team, “We came here with a job to do and the kids did it. Even after we lost Wednesday, the kids were still intent on staying until Sunday. We got embarrassed in that first game [against Jackson] and that made us determined to come back.”

Odeco advanced to the American Legion World Series in Ely, Minnesota. It was the first appearance by a Jesuit-based team since the 1960 Tulane Shirts team that won the title behind the play of future major leaguer Rusty Staub and Dick Roniger.

For the third time during their Legion playoff run, Odeco didn’t fare well in their first game of the World Series as Boyerton, Pennsylvania edged them, 2-1. But Wentz stepped up again with 14 strikeouts in a 6-3 win against Warwick, Rhode Island.

Odeco followed with a win over Palo Alto, California, whose team was primarily comprised of college-eligible freshmen. Faciane came on in relief in the fourth inning and gave up only two hits in 6 2/3 innings. He recalled one of the highlights of his career was striking out future major leaguer Bob Melvin to end the game.

However, Odeco’s run ended when Honolulu, Hawaii scored 10 runs in the third inning in a blowout win, 15-3. Odeco sent six pitchers to the mound in what turned out to be a futile effort. Honolulu’s star pitcher Sid Fernandez, who later pitched in the majors, shut down Odeco early. The Hawaiian team wound up defeating Boyerton for the championship. Lenfant remembered Fernandez as a sophomore pitcher who was the fastest pitcher the team had faced, throwing in the low-to-mid 90s.

Odeco finished with a 30-8 Legion record.

Wentz recalled, “I don’t think we ever had a moment where we didn’t believe we could win. In general, over ’79 and ’80 I think the collective belief among us was that we knew we were a better team. We may not stack up against some teams as individuals, but as a team, there was none better. Faith and trust, we had it in spades.”

Gerry Burrage, who coached against Jesuit and Odeco, with De La Salle in prep and Chiquita Brands in American Legion, recently said, “In my 30 years of coaching, I would rank these Jesuit-based teams in the top five best teams. They had a balanced team, including depth in the pitching staff, which Misuraca used wisely. There were no weak spots, and they usually didn’t beat themselves.” He added, “Their roster was built for tournament play.”

The two-year cumulative record of both the prep and Legion teams was 102-25. Misuraca told the Times-Picayune after the World Series, “I’ve had some good kids at Jesuit, but this [1980 team] is the best. And that’s not knocking any of the kids I’ve had here. But this team’s accomplishments make it the best of my career.”

Most of Jesuit’s starters continued their baseball careers in college. In addition to Wentz, Tulane also signed Riley, Barrios, Lenfant, and Shearman. Cuntz signed with LSU, while Escousse and Landry got tryouts with the Tigers. Parenton played baseball at Mississippi State, in addition to football. Faciane signed with Nicholls State, and Snyder signed with Notre Dame. Two years later, Clark signed with Mississippi State and followed with an illustrious 15-year major-league career. Riley and Barrios played briefly in the minors, while Parenton was a manager in the minors for three seasons.

In 2012 Retif Oil made the next American Legion World Series appearance by a Jesuit-based team, when they captured the national title over Brooklawn, New Jersey.

Hometown Heroes: Southeast Louisiana products in MLB, MiLB

Here’s the monthly report of pitching and hitting stats for many of the 2022 major-league and minor-league players who prepped or played collegiately in the New Orleans area and Southeast Louisiana. All stats are cumulative for the season, through Sunday May 31. Below are some of the highlights for May.

Mike Papierski (LSU) was traded by the Houston Astros to the San Francisco Giants for pitcher Mauricio Dubon. He made his MLB debut with the Giants on May 21.

Kramer Robertson (LSU) made his MLB debut on May 10 with the Cardinals. He is the son of Kim Mulkey, LSU’s head coach for the women’s basketball team.

Josh Smith (LSU) made his MLB debut on May 30 and went 3-for-4 in his first game with the Rangers.

Kevin Gausman (LSU) continued his control mastery, as he has issued only 6 walks in 61 innings and sports the lowest walk rate in the league. His record for the Blue Jays is 5-3, with an ERA of 2.51 and 1.066 WHIP.

Tanner Rainey (Southeastern) is one of the few bright spots for the Washington Nationals pitching staff. The closer has five saves and a 2.35 ERA.

Aaron Nola (LSU) is second in the National League in strikeouts with 74, trailing Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes with 78. His WHIP is 0.94, also second only to Burnes.

Wade Miley (Southeastern) came off the Injured List and made his 2022 debut on May 10.



Alex Bregman—Astros (LSU) 49 G, .226 BA, .345 OBP, 6HR, 27 RBI

Kevin Gausman—Blue Jays (LSU) 10 G, 5-31, 2.51 ERA, 61.0 IP, 70 SO

Will Harris—Nationals (Slidell HS, LSU) On 60-Day Injured List

Alex Lange—Tigers (LSU) 22 G, 2-1, 1.83 ERA, 19.2 IP, 25 SO

Aaron Loup—Angels (Hahnville HS, Tulane) 21 G, 0-2, 4.82 ERA, 18.2 IP, 20 SO

DJ LeMahieu—Yankees (LSU) 42 G, .256 BA, .333 OBP, 3 HR, 19 RBI

Wade Miley—Cubs (Loranger HS, Southeastern) MLB: 3 G, 1-0, 3.38 ERA, 16.0 IP, 10 SO; MiLB: 1 G, 0.00 ERA, 4.0 IP, 3 SO

Aaron Nola—Phillies (Catholic HS, LSU) 10 G, 2-4, 3.56 ERA, 60.2 IP, 74 SO

Austin Nola—Padres (Catholic HS, LSU) 36 G, .223 BA, .288 OBP, 1 HR, 14 RBI

Michael Papierski—Giants (LSU) MLB: 5 G, .000 BA, .100 OBP, 0 HR, 0 RBI; MiLB: 30 G, .200 BA, .298 OBP, 1 HR, 17 RBI

Tanner Rainey—Nationals (St. Paul’s HS, Southeastern) 15 G, 1-1, 5 SV, 2.35 ERA, 15.1 IP, 18 SO

Jake Rogers—Tigers (Tulane) On 60-day Injured List

Josh Smith—Rangers (Catholic HS, LSU) MLB: 2 G, .600 BA, .714 OBP, 0 HR, 0 RBI. 1 SB; MiLB: 40 G, .273 BA, .382 OBP, 4 HR, 29 RBI, 8 SB



Drew Avans–-Dodgers (Southeastern) 31 G, .235 BA, .343 OBP, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 7 SB

Greg Deichmann—Cubs (Brother Martin HS, LSU) 30 G, .204 BA, .243 OBP, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 3 SB

Jake FraleyReds (LSU) MLB: 15 G, .116 BA, .208 OBP, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 SB; MiLB: 10 G, .200 BA, .333 OBP, 1 HR, 1 RBI

J.P. France—Astros (Shaw HS, Tulane, Miss. State) 10 G, 1-3, 5.73 ERA, 37.2 IP, 47 SO

Cole Freeman—Nationals (LSU) 20 G, .241 BA, .286 OBP, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 5 SB

Ian Gibaut—Guardians (Tulane) 10 G, 1-0, 4.76 ERA, 11.1 IP, 11 SO

Jacoby Jones—Royals (LSU) 31 G, .196 BA, .256 OBP, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 2 SB

Andrew Mitchell—Mets (Jesuit, Delgado, Auburn) 10 G, 0-0, 5.17 ERA, 15.2 IP, 14 SO

Eric Orze—Mets (UNO) 13 G, 0-2, 6.52 ERA, 19.1 IP, 31 SO

Kramer Robertson—Cardinals (LSU) MLB: 2 G, .000 BA, .000 OBP, 0 HR, 1 RBI; MiLB: 36 G, .203 BA, .391 OBP, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 12 SB

Shawn Semple—Yankees (UNO) 2 G, 1-0, 8.31 ERA, 4.1 IP, 0 SO; Currently on 7-Day Injured List

Andrew Stevenson—Nationals (St. Thomas More HS, LSU) 43 G, .293 BA, .369 OBP, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 14 SB

Justin Williams—Phillies (Terrebone HS) 1 G, .250 BA, .250 OBP, 0 HR, 0 RBI; Currently On 7-Day Injured List



Jared Biddy–-Rockies (Southeastern) 9 G, 4.02 ERA, 15.2 IP, 12 SO

Nick Bush—Rockies (LSU) 9 G, 4-2, 3.94 ERA, 48.0 IP, 46.0 SO

Daniel Cabrera—Tigers (John Curtis HS, Delgado, LSU) 37 G, .182 BA, .245 OBP, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 5 SB

Antoine Duplantis—Mets (LSU) 26 G, .132 BA, .184 OBP, 1 HR, 7 RBI

Hudson Haskin—Orioles (Tulane) 39 G, .272 BA, .374 OBP, 7 HR, 23 RBI, 1 SB

Cole Henry–-Nationals (LSU) 7 G, 0-0, 0.76 ERA, 23.2 IP, 28 SO

Kody Hoese—Dodgers (Tulane) 37 G, .284 BA, .306 OBP, 3 HR, 21 RBI

Braden Olthoff–-Angels (Tulane) 8 G, 2-1, 2.23 ERA, 40.1 IP, 40 SO

Kaleb Roper—White Sox (Rummel, Tulane) 9 G, 0-3, 6.75 ERA, 34.2 IP, 38 SO

Mac Sceroler—Reds (Denham Springs HS, Southeastern) On 60-Day Injured List

Zach Watson—Orioles (LSU) 35 G, .175 BA, .263 OBP, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 2 SB



Donovan Benoit–-Reds (Tulane) 12 G, 1-0, 2.60 ERA, 17.1 IP, 21 SO

Collin Burns-–Orioles (De La Salle HS, Tulane) 29 G, .305 BA, .387 OBP, 0 HR, 13 RBI, 7 SB

Brendan Cellucci—Red Sox (Tulane) 15 G, 1-3, 7.06 ERA, 21.2 IP, 29 SO

Saul Garza-–Royals (LSU) 4 G, .333 BA, .429 OBP, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 SB; Currently on 7-Day Injured List

Zack Hess—Tigers (LSU) On 60-Day Injured List

Todd Peterson—Nationals (LSU) Currently On 7-Day Injured List

Chase Solesky—White Sox (Tulane) 9 G, 2-3, 4.19 ERA, 38.2 IP, 28 SO

Bryce Tassin—Tigers (Southeastern) 12 G, 1-1, 4.50 ERA, 24.0 IP, 21 SO, 1 SV

Tyree Thompson--Rangers (Karr HS) 4 G, 0-0, 1.93 ERA, 4.2 IP, 3 SO; Re-assigned to ACL Rangers



Jack Aldrich-–Royals (Tulane) 9 G, 1-0, 3.32 ERA, 19.0 IP, 22 SO

Connor Pellerin–-Yankees (Episcopal HS Baton Rouge, Tulane) On 60-Day Disabled List

Aaron McKeithan–-Cardinals (Tulane) 18 G, .263 BA, .368 OBP, 1 HR, 5 RBI


Independent League

Nick Goody—Mexican League (LSU) 14 G, 2-1, 2.40 ERA, 15.0 IP, 24 SO


Japanese League

Kyle Keller–-Hanshin (Jesuit, Southeastern) 18 G, 0-3, 3.31 ERA, 16.1 IP, 19 SO

Flashback: Phenom Boo Ferriss took the baseball world by storm in mid-1940s

This week’s blog post is a story about Dave “Boo” Ferriss and his first two seasons as a major leaguer with the Boston Red Sox in 1945-46. He won more games in his first two seasons that anyone in history, except Grover Cleveland Alexander. Ferriss became an instant sensation in New England, and the rest of the country found out about him when The Sporting News put his caricature on the front page of a June 1945 issue. He was a “phenom” before the word became popular in describing budding stars.

Click the link below to another of my websites where the story about Ferriss is posted, including photos and images.

Flashback: Phenom Boo Ferriss took the baseball world by storm in mid-1940s | Baseball's Relatives (

Early musings about the 2022 MLB season

A lot has already happened in the first six weeks of the 2022 seasons. There have been broken records, impressive debuts, disappointments and surprises, old-timers and newcomers. Here are some of my observations about the season so far.

In my pre-season projections back during the first week of April, I predicted Buck Showalter would need a full season to right the ship with the New York Mets. He’s proven my wrong; his Mets currently lead the NL East by 7 ½ games over the Braves. His pitching staff has really come on strong, ranked in the top five in most pitching categories. We knew newcomer Max Scherzer would bring stability to their starting rotation, especially with Jacob deGrom on the Injured List. But other Mets pitchers have stepped up, too. It now looks like Mad Max will join deGrom on the Injured List for 6-8 weeks due to an oblique strain suffered last week.

Boston second baseman Trevor Story was supposed to add another big bat to the lineup. He was a highly-prized free agent during the off-season, with the Red Sox shelling out some big dollars to sign him. But he didn’t hit his first home run until May 11, and a lot of BoSox fans began to wonder just what did they get? Then he hits three homers at Fenway against Seattle on May 19 and another on May 20. Red Sox Nation is feeling a little better now.

The St. Louis Cardinals have four potential Hall of Famers on their roster this year. They re-acquired Albert Pujols, who is a sure-fire first ballot electee. In his 19th Cardinals season, catcher Yadier Molina merits Hall of Fame induction for both his offense and defense. Nolan Arenado is the premier third baseman in baseball with the glove, having won nine consecutive Gold Glove awards. Not too shabby with the bat either, Arenado’s a four-time Silver Slugger Award winner. If first baseman Paul Goldschmidt can add a few more banner years, he’ll be a solid candidate for the Hall. And I’m not counting pitcher Adam Wainwright, who’s been in the top 3 for Cy Young Award in four seasons. Wainwright and Molina have been batterymates 307 times in their careers (third place on the all-time list).

Twins pitcher Jhoan Duran threw the fastest recorded pitch of 2022 at 103.3 miles per hour. Reds pitcher Hunter Greene broke the record for most 100+ mph pitches in a game with 39. Remember when we used to gawk at pitchers who could throw consistently in the mid-90s?

39-year-old Justin Verlander has found the Fountain of Youth. It looks like the Tommy John surgery that kept him out of the 2020 and 2021 seasons is working. He’s 5-1 with a 1.38 ERA and WHIP of 0.679. Can he pitch until he’s 46 years old, like the original Tommy John did in the 1980s?

Will Mike Trout finally make it back to the post-season this year? It’s been eight years since he and the Los Angeles Angels made a playoff appearance. They are trailing the division-leading Astros by only 1 ½ games. Trout and two-way star Shohei Ohtani are leading the way for the Angels. Outfielder Taylor Ward is having a breakout season, leading the AL in all categories of the slash line with .370/.481/.713.

The Yankees look impressive with the best record in the AL, 28-10, as of Friday. However, if you look more closely at their schedule, 12 of their wins have come from the lowly Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, and Kansas City Royals. The only Yankees opponent currently with a winning record is Toronto. They haven’t played second-place Tampa Bay yet. The verdict is still out on whether the Yanks can maintain their lead. The good news is that they have a healthy roster for a change. Look for Joey Gallo (.176/.294/.333) to get dumped by the Yankees.

In 2021 it was Chicago White Sox rookie Yermin Mercedes who took MLB by storm at the start of the season. After the first month, he had a slash line of .415/.455/.659 with 5 homers and 16 RBIs. In 2022, Mercedes started the season in the minors. Cleveland rookie Steven Kwan was the talk of the town during the first month of this season for having not swung and missed until his 40th at-bat of the season. At the end of April, he was batting .354/.459/.500, and now he’s at /.265/.374/.373. Is he just a flash in the pan, too?

The award for “Worst MLB Team of the Year” so far goes to the Cincinnati Reds. They are officially in “tanking” mode, so it’s no surprise. Besides having the worst record in both leagues, they rank near the bottom of the NL in practically every hitting and pitching category. Future Hall of Famer Joey Votto is in the worst funk of his career, batting only .122 with no homers and three RBIs in 22 games before a 15-game absence due to COVID-19 diagnosis. He returned to the lineup this week.

Dusty Baker won his 2,000th game as a manager. In his 25th year as skipper that has included stints with the Giants, Cubs, Reds, Nationals, and now Astros, he is making his way to the Hall of Fame. The 73-year-old is proving that “old school” managers can adjust to “new school” thinking and win.

Former Jesuit, LSU, and Pelicans baseball star Jesse Danna was a winner at every level

Jesse Danna was a boxing standout at age 15, but it was ultimately in baseball where he made his mark. He was a champion in a lightweight boxing division, yet when it came to pitching a baseball, he was a genuine “heavyweight.” The diminutive left-hander was the leading pitcher for his team at every level of competition, including high school, American League, college, and professional.

Danna first appeared in New Orleans sports pages in 1933 as a competitive boxer at St. Aloysius High School. The 15-year-old fought in the 112-pound class, recording four knockouts in ten winning decisions leading up to the state tournament. The scrappy freshman claimed the state title with five wins in his weight classification.

Danna swapped his boxing gloves for a baseball glove in the summer of 1933 when he was an outfielder for the St. Aloysius-based American Legion team.

He transferred to Jesuit High School and played for their Legion team in 1934, becoming the go-to pitcher in critical games for coach Gernon Brown. He was the winning pitcher in city, South Louisiana, and state playoff games, as Jesuit captured the state Legion title. The Blue Jays breezed through the Sixth Regional tournament in Little Rock, followed by the Western Sectional where Danna defeated Wichita and Seattle. Jesuit earned a berth in the Legion World Series in Chicago. After defeating Cumberland, Maryland, in the first contest for Jesuit’s 18th consecutive win of the season, Danna lost a heartbreaker in 13 innings in the second game. Cumberland defeated Jesuit in the deciding championship game.

Danna was a second-team All-Prep player for Jesuit High in 1935, when the Blue Jays won the city and state championships.

Jesuit went undefeated in 1936 and captured the city and state prep titles. The team featured eleven players who earned All-Prep honors, including Danna and seven others on the first team. The Blue Jays had seven future professional players, including major leaguers Charlie Gilbert, “Fats” Dantonio, and Connie Ryan, as well as future major-league scout George Digby. The 1936 team was ranked the best high school team of all-time in the New Orleans area by the Times-Picayune in 2003.

Danna enrolled at LSU in 1937and played one season of freshman ball followed by lettering in three years on the varsity squad. He quickly established himself in the starting rotation for coach Harry Rabenhorst.

As a junior in 1939, the little lefthander helped the Tigers win their first SEC baseball championship with a 10-2 conference record. Danna was credited with five of the wins. He posted fifteen strikeouts in one of his victories. During his senior season, the Times-Picayune called Danna “one of Louisiana State’s greatest pitchers in university baseball history.”

He enrolled in medical school in the fall of 1940, a promise he had made to his dad. After getting a scouting report on Danna, Brooklyn Dodgers manager Leo Durocher asked him to join the team at the end of the 1941 season. He stayed six weeks but never signed a contract with the Dodgers.

After convincing his father to give pro baseball a try, Danna signed with the New York Giants in 1942 and was initially assigned to their Jersey City affiliate in the International League. His contract called for a $5,000 bonus if he remained with the team by July 1. However, the Giants released him before that date. He signed with the Atlanta Crackers at mid-season but suffered a broken left hand when he was hit by a line drive. When Atlanta wanted to send him to a lower classification to rehabilitate, he exercised an option in his contract to gain his release if he didn’t play for Atlanta. Danna went home to New Orleans where he signed with the Pelicans, then a St. Louis Cardinals affiliate, for the remainder of the season. He won only two of 11 decisions for the entire season.

The New Orleans Pelicans, a Brooklyn Dodgers affiliate in 1943, offered Danna a contract to return. He had a breakout year with league-leading 22 wins and only 7 losses. He posted a 3.16 ERA, slightly behind Ed Lopat’s league-leading 3.05. He was the last Pelicans pitcher to win 20 or more games. Danna’s catcher with the Pelicans was his former Jesuit teammate “Fats” Dantonio. The Pelicans finished in second place, four games behind the Nashville Vols. It was their highest finish since 1935. The Pelicans lost the playoff in five games to Nashville.

Over the winter Danna took a job with Pendleton Shipyards in New Orleans where he also played for their semi-pro team. In late April 1944 he signed with the Pelicans, but his season wasn’t as favorable as the previous year, since he finished with an 11-18 record for the last-place Pelicans.

Danna won 17 games for fourth-place New Orleans in 1945. The Pelicans qualified for the playoffs and upset the league-leading Atlanta Crackers in the first round, with Danna earning two of the wins. But the Pels wound up losing to Mobile in the final round.

The Pelicans repeated its fourth-place finish again in 1946, with Danna leading the team with 15 victories. The Pelicans, which had become a Boston Red Sox affiliate, pressed regular-season champion Mobile to seven games in the first round of playoffs but wound up losing. Danna received votes for the Southern Association’s MVP honors.

After starting the 1947 season with the Pelicans with a 4-4 record, Danna was released to manage the Class D Valley Rebels (Georgia) in the Georgia-Alabama League. He was also on the roster as a player. He finished with an 18-6 record and led the league with a 2.15 ERA, in roughly half of a season. Valley finished in third place and then won the playoffs over Opelika. Danna’s brother Charlie was the catcher on the team. They were both named to the league’s post-season all-star team.

A well-respected manager in the Georgia-Alabama League, Danna was offered another contract as the skipper for Valley in 1948. He was credited with developing young, inexperienced pitchers into winners. He had no problem inserting his own name into the lineup, as he posted a 22-6 record and 2.06 ERA. He was the winning pitcher on both ends of a doubleheader on three occasions. The team finished in first place during the regular season and won the playoffs by defeating Newnan in the first round and sweeping Carrollton in four games in the finals. The Danna brothers appeared in a mid-season all-star game pitting Alabama players against their Georgian foes.

Following his success in the previous two years with Valley, Danna had ambitions to move up the ladder as a manager in the pro ranks. Valley president Fob James had nothing but praise for Danna, “Jesse is a fine disciplinarian and a smart baseball man. His 1948 club was composed largely of rookies sent to the club by the Boston Red Sox. Big league scouts and other old baseball men say that Danna did as fine a job in teaching these rookies inside baseball as could be found on any professional ball club.”

However, with Valley in last place in mid-May 1949, Danna was released as manager, ending his hope to manage at higher levels. During the remainder of the season, he was able to catch on as a player with Class C Thibodaux in the Evangeline League and then Class C Helena in the Cotton States League. It was the last season of his career.

Danna’s career minor-league record was 113-81, including 69 wins with the Pelicans.

New Orleans native George Strickland, a teammate of Danna’s with the Pelicans and later a major-league player and manager with the Cleveland Indians, had the following assessment of Danna: “He didn’t throw particularly hard. He was a control guy. I think he could set you up. He could throw it by you if you looked at enough junk.” 

Danna used his managerial experience to coach the NORD-D. H. Holmes team to national championships in the National Rookie League in 1954 and 1955. He was inducted into the Diamond Club Hall of Fame in 1975.

Danna died in 2005 at age 87.