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.
Random Miscellany

Stolen Bases: A Rejuvenated Offensive Weapon

MLB has instituted several rule changes that favor the use of stolen bases. They have re-emerged as an offensive weapon. Ronald Acuna Jr. has attained the 40-40 Club (40 home runs and 40 stolen bases) this year, joining Jose Canseco, Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, and Alfonso Soriano as the only players to reach these combination of milestones. Acuna is also the first in the 40-60 Club and with two more steals, the 40-70 Club. Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez made it to the 30-30 Club, and there are 13 players who reached the 20-20 Club. Just eight years ago, there were only four players that reached 20-20.

Ohtani: A Money Machine

Sports Illustrated recently reported that the Angels’ superstar Shohei Ohtani will earn a non-baseball income that exceeds his baseball salary this year. Forbes estimates an income of $35 million from endorsement partners this year, while his salary is $30 million with the Angels. By comparison, Aaron Judge’s non-baseball income this year is $4.5 million. Some analysts believe Ohtani will command the first $500 million contract in sports history, including the NFL, NBA, and NHL. He will be a free agent after this season.

Spencer Strider: Keeping Company with Braves HOF Pitchers

Atlanta pitcher Spencer Strider is doing his best imitation of Braves Hall of Fame pitchers Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, and Tom Glavine. As of Saturday, he leads the National League in wins (18), Strikeouts (270), Fielding Independent Pitching (2.81), WHIP (1.063), and SO/9 (13.8). He’ll be a strong candidate for the Cy Young Award. The three Hall of Famers collected seven awards between them. Amazingly, all three played as teammates.

Kyle Schwarber: Unconventional Leadoff Hitter

Normally you wouldn’t think of a team’s leadoff batter hitting 45 home runs. Baseball-Reference displayed some distinctive stats for Philly’s Kyle Schwarber as their leadoff hitter. As of last Thursday, he was batting .196. 63 of his 109 total hits were extra-base hits, including 45 home runs. But his On-Base Percentage (OBP) is .344 (league average is .3xx), because he has walked 123 times. He has 99 RBIs. The only knock on him is that he has struck out 207 times. His total for the “three true outcomes” (comprised of walks, home runs, and strikeouts—those plate appearances in which only the opposition’s pitcher and catcher are involved) is a whopping 54.4%. The National League average is 34.3%.

AL West Division: Going Down to the Wire

Houston, Texas, and Seattle have been battling back and forth for the last couple of weeks for the division title and possibly one or two additional playoff teams. And it appears the battle will continue through the last few games of the regular season. None of the teams seem to want to separate themselves from the others. For example, the Astros lost three series to two of the worst teams in the league—the Royals (twice) and the A’s. Texas lost three games to the Guardians, a team it’s supposed to beat. Seattle can’t seem to break the Rangers.

St. Louis Cardinals: Most Disappointing Season

I don’t think anyone foresaw the pitiful showing by the Cardinals this year. For a team that won the NL Central title in 2022 to finish dead last in the division this year was unthinkable. It’s true the Reds and Pirates improved over last year, but they weren’t blowing teams away. The Cardinals stand to finish 20-25 games worse than last year. Offensively they were slightly better than league average, but their pitching was second from the bottom of the league. The Mets weren’t too far behind the Cardinals in having the most disappointing season.

Former Ehret two-sport star Webster Garrison made a career of professional baseball

At the end of his spectacular high school athletic career in 1983, Webster Garrison was faced with the difficult decision of whether to play baseball in college or to sign with a professional baseball team. His decision was complicated by the fact he was a second-round draft selection in the MLB draft, which ultimately earned him a significant bonus.

Garrison’s senior season (1982-83) at John Ehret High School in Marrero was one of the best in the metro New Orleans area. His athleticism manifested itself as the Patriots’ quarterback who guided the team to an unbeaten season and got them as far as the semifinal round in the state football playoffs. His performance was recognized when he was named 1982 All-State quarterback and Offensive Player of the Year. In baseball he pitched and played shortstop, becoming an All-District performer for the second year and earning district MVP honors. He was also an All-Metro baseball team selection.

Although he had been heavily scouted by several major-league teams, Garrison decided to accept a grant-in-aid scholarship to play baseball at UNO before the major-league draft occurred in June. But then the Toronto Blue Jays selected him in the second round of the 1983 MLB draft.

He was the 37th overall pick in the entire draft. Baseball scouts saw him as a young, raw talent with a lot of potential. To put his selection into perspective, Roger Clemens, who became one of the best pitchers in the history of baseball, was the 19th overall pick of Boston. Wally Joyner, Charlie Hayes, and Ronnie Gant were eventual major-league all-stars selected in the third and fourth rounds behind Webster.

Initial discussions with the Blue Jays didn’t change his mind about signing. He enrolled at UNO and was ready to start classes, when the Blue Jays approached him at the last minute and offered him a $100, 000 signing bonus. Garrison rejected the offer because he wanted to play at UNO and get an education first. But Toronto was intent on getting him under contract before attending classes, or otherwise they would have lost their rights to him. The Blue Jays countered with a $150,000 offer, which Garrison felt he couldn’t turn down. His bonus turned out to be higher than any of the draft’s first round picks.

The Blue Jays were patient with him in his early professional years, as he struggled with hitting. But after getting a few seasons under his belt, Garrison was starting to realize the potential that major-league scouts saw in him coming out of high school. He made the Southern League All-Star team in 1987, while playing for Double-A Knoxville. He had another good season in 1988, when he stole 42 bases with Knoxville, and he repeated as an All-Star selection.

By 1989 at age 23, Webster appeared to be on track to get to the big leagues, as he was promoted to Syracuse at the Triple-A Level for the first time and played in 50 games with them.

However, the Blue Jays’ parent club already had good-hitting, slick fielding shortstop Tony Fernandez who made his first of five major-league all-star teams in 1986. Fernandez, who was only three years older than Garrison, became entrenched as their future shortstop. After Garrison had an injury-plagued season in 1990, the Blue Jays granted him free agency.

Garrison inked a contract with the Oakland A’s organization for the 1991 season. He had his best year to that point in his career in 1993, batting .303 with seven home runs and 73 RBIs for Triple-A Tacoma. But he was again granted free agency by the A’s after the season.

Garrison then signed with the Colorado Rockies organization, where he improved his play during the next two seasons, with .302-13-68 and .293-12-77 offensive statistics for Triple-A Colorado Springs in 1994 and 1995. He was a member of the Pacific Coast League championship team in 1995. However, by that time Garrison was 29 years old and considered past his prime as a major league prospect. He was granted free agency and ended up returning to the A’s.

Webster turned in respectable seasons with the A’s organization and finally made his major league debut on August 2, 1996. He appeared in five games with the Oakland A’s, going hitless in 10 plate appearances. It had taken him 13 years and 1,500 games to make the major leagues at age 30.

He finished his professional playing career in 1999, not able to get another shot in the big leagues. In all, he played 16 minor-league seasons. He appeared in 1,796 games, garnering 1,721 hits in 6,426 at-bats, for a .268 batting average. During his career, he hit 101 home runs and 786 RBI and scored 963 runs.

After serving as a player-coach for Double-A Huntsville in 1999, Garrison turned to full-time coaching for the 2000 season. He was promoted to minor-league manager in 2001. In the Oakland A’s organization, he managed for 13 seasons for teams at the Rookie, Single-A, and Double-A levels. The popular manager compiled a 718-723 record as a manager. He also spent several seasons as a minor-league coach.

Webster contracted COVID-19 in March 2020, shortly after arriving at spring training with the A’s in Arizona. He ended up spending over seven months in the hospital battling life-threatening complications from the coronavirus. He has not been able yet to resume his baseball career.

While Webster’s playing career did not turn out as he and others hoped, he was a model of perseverance by finally reaching the majors at age 30. He became a stabilizing force in the A’s organization, developing young talent in their farm system. Altogether, he spent over 35 years as a player, coach, and manager.

My conscience is clear to pull for the Astros in the postseason

I’ve been a life-long New York Yankees fan. It’s been easy to be a Yankees fan. They were winning world championships with regularity. I even survived a couple of droughts when they fell into the back of the pack of pennant contenders.

I got hooked on the team in the early ‘60s when their lineup featured Mantle, Maris, Berra, Ford, Skowron, Howard, Richardson, Kubek, and Boyer. I thought they were invincible, but then their ages caught up with them.

My loyalty to the Yankees was tested from 1965 to 1975 and again from 1982 to 1995 when they were just average teams, even though George Steinbrenner tried to buy championships with expensive players during the second drought.

Then along came the “Core Four’ (Jeter, Posada, Rivera, and Pettit), supplemented with Clemens, Williams, O’Neill, Martinez, Giambi, Brosius, Hernandez, Cone, and Mussina, and the championships started to roll in again during 1996 to 2012. While many other baseball fans despised the Evil Empire, as the Yankees had become known, I was a happy camper.

In the mid-80s I started to develop a liking for the Houston Astros. A group of my friends and I made annual pilgrimages to the Astrodome for a weekend series. The Astros were in the National League at that time, so I didn’t feel any particular conflict with my Yankees.

The hometown New Orleans Pelicans minor-league team became an affiliate of the Astros in the late ‘90s, and it was fun to track players like Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt eventually reaching the big league Astros.

I became an enthusiastic fan of the Astros’ “Killer B’s (Bagwell, Biggio, and Berkman). I went to a 2005 World Series game in Houston to pull for the Astros against the White Sox, yet I had never been to even one game at Yankee Stadium in my life.

But then the Astros were switched to the American League in 2013 by Major League Baseball. I rationalized that I could pull for both teams since they were in different divisions. But I realized I would have a dilemma if they wound up competing for the AL pennant.

My next test of Yankee loyalty came in 2015 when the Astros squared off with the Yankees in a wild card game. The Astros won that year, as they would do in three American League Championship Series against the Yankees in 2017, 2019, and 2022. My sentimental side forced me to pull for the Yankees. Upon defeating the Yankees for the AL pennant in those three seasons, I sheepishly pulled for the Astros in their World Series quests.

But now the Yankees are on a path to elimination from postseason play. They are in last place in the AL East, nine games behind Toronto, who would be the sixth AL team in the playoffs. It would take a miracle for the Yankees to recover at this point. In fact, I believe they have already packed it in for the season by bringing up several prospects to get a good look at them for next year. It will be the first time since 2016 and only the fifth time since 1995 that they didn’t make the playoffs.

With the Yankees out of the playoff picture, at least I will be able to root for the Astros with a clear conscience this Fall.

Hometown Heroes: Southeast Louisiana products in MLB, MiLB (Through August 31, 2023)

Here’s an update 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 Thursday August 31. Below are some of August’s highlights.

Keving Gausman (LSU) maintained his AL lead in strikeouts with 202 and 11. 7 strikeouts per 9 innings.

Michael Papierski (LSU) picked up 16 RBIs in eight games for Triple-A Toledo. He had an impressive slash line of .321/.444/.571 for the month of August.

Jake Slaughter (LSU) leads Triple-A Iowa Cubs with 22 HR, 77 RBI, and 16 Stolen Bases.

Andrew Stevenson (LSU) leads Triple-A St. Paul Saints with a .317 BA, 91 Runs, and 44 Stolen Bases.

Cade Doughty (LSU) leads High-A Vancouver Canadians with 58 Runs, 17 HR, and 67 RBI.

Jacob Berry (LSU) hit four HR and 19 RBI during the month of August for Pensacola Blue Wahoos.

Todd Peterson (LSU) picked up four saves in five opportunities for the month of August

After being promoted to High-A Rome Braves, Tyree Thompson (Karr HS) recorded three wins and two saves in seven relief appearances.

Promotions to Double-A during August included Collin Burns (Tulane), Paul Gervase (LSU), and Bryce Tassin (Southeastern)

Making their professional debuts from the LSU national champions were Paul Skenes, Dylan Crews, Gavin Dugas, Zach Arnold, Giovanni DiGiacomo, Brayden Jobert, Blake Money, and Jordan Thompson. Carson Roccaforte (Louisiana Lafayette) and Tyler Hoffman (Tulane) also made their debuts.

When Skenes made his debut with Double-A Altoona, 10,164 fans attended, the largest in the ballpark’s history.

On August 13, Cruz had a 5-hit game for Double-A Harrisburg, including two home runs.


Alex Bregman—Astros (LSU) 134 G, .263 BA, .346 OBP, 22 HR, 90 RBI, 3 SB

Jake FraleyReds (LSU) 92 G, .268 BA, .349 OBP, 15HR, 63 RBI, 20 SB

J.P. France—Astros (Shaw HS, Tulane, Miss. State) MLB: 20 G, 10-5, 3.49 ERA, 116.0 IP, 86 SO; MiLB: 5 G, 2-1 ERA, 19.1 IP, 26 SO

Kevin Gausman—Blue Jays (LSU) 26 G, 10-8, 3.30 ERA, 155.1 IP, 202 SO

Ian Gibaut—Reds (Tulane) 61 G, 8-3, 3.36 ERA, 61.2 IP, 56 SO, 1 SV

Alex Lange—Tigers (LSU) 54 G, 6-3, 3.93 ERA, 52.2 IP, 65 SO, 19 SV

Aaron Loup—Angels (Hahnville HS, Tulane) 48 G, 2-2, 5.88 ERA, 41.1 IP, 38 SO, 1 SV

DJ LeMahieu—Yankees (LSU) 112 G, .243 BA, .324 OBP, 13 HR, 35 RBI

Wade Miley—Brewers (Loranger HS, Southeastern) 18 G, 7-3, 3.17 ERA, 93.2 IP, 60 SO

Aaron Nola—Phillies (Catholic HS, LSU) 27 G, 12-8, 4.30 ERA, 167.1 IP, 174 SO

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

Jake Rogers—Tigers (Tulane) 89 G, .205 BA, .279 OBP, 16 HR, 38 RBI, 1 SB

Josh Smith—Rangers (Catholic HS, LSU) 72 G, .203 BA, .322 OBP, 4 HR, 8 RBI



Drew Avans–-Dodgers (Southeastern) 115 G, .251 BA, .350 OBP, 11 HR, 56 RBI, 20 SB

Greg Deichmann—A’s (Brother Martin HS, LSU) 89 G, .246 BA, .333 OBP, 15 HR, 51 RBI, 14 SB

Hunter Feduccia—Dodgers (LSU) 78 G, .286 BA, .399 OBP, 8 HR, 48 RBI

Hudson Haskin—Orioles (Tulane) 33 G, .287 BA, .394 OBP, 3 HR, 20 RBI, 8 SB (On 7-Day Injured List)

Austin Nola—Padres (Catholic HS, LSU) MiLB: 8 G, .185 BA, .267 OBP, 0 HR, 2 RBI; MLB: 52 G, .146 BA, .260 OBP, 1HR, 8 RBI

Eric Orze—Mets (UNO) 32 G, 2-4, 6.27 ERA, 51.2 IP, 62 SO, 0 SV

Michael Papierski—Tigers (LSU) 60 G, .269 BA, .367 OBP, 8 HR, 45 RBI

Kramer Robertson—Cardinals (LSU) 103 G, .203 BA, .358 OBP, 2 HR, 28 RBI, 21 SB

Cam Sanders – Cubs (E. D. White HS, LSU) 42 G, 6-2, 5.76 ERA, 54.2 IP, 83 SO, 4 SV

Jake Slaughter—Cubs (LSU) 102 G, .243 BA, .342 OBP, 22 HR, 77 RBI, 16 SB

Chase Solesky—White Sox (Tulane) 22 G, 3-10, 5.42 ERA, 98.0 IP, 78 SO, 0 SV

Andrew Stevenson—Twins (St. Thomas More HS, LSU) 106 G, .317 BA, .395 OBP, 16 HR, 57 RBI, 44 SB

Grant Witherspoon – Tigers (Tulane) 73 G, .238 BA, .350 OBP, 10 HR, 29 RBI, 9 SB (Released on August 9)



Donovan Benoit–-Reds (Tulane) 20 G, 0-4, 3.72 ERA, 29.0 IP, 37 SO, 3 SV (On 7-Day Injured List)

Jacob Berry – Marlins (LSU) 107 G, .233 BA, .284 OBP, 9 HR, 59 RBI, 10 SB

Jared Biddy–-Rockies (Southeastern) 5 G, 0-0, 19.64 ERA, 7.1 IP, 4 SO, 0 SV (Released on May 23)

Collin Burns--Orioles (De La Salle HS, Tulane) 44 G, .213 BA, .305 OBP, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 14 SB (On 7-Day Injured List)

Daniel Cabrera—Tigers (John Curtis HS/Parkview Baptist HS, LSU) 60 G, .234 BA, .364 OBP, 0 HR, 20 RBI, 5 SB

Hayden Cantrelle—Giants (Louisiana Lafayette) 91 G, .218, .399 OBP, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 14 SB

Brendan Cellucci—Red Sox (Tulane) 33 G, 1-2, 5.89 ERA, 44.1 IP, 52 SO, 0 SV

Dylan Crews – Nationals (LSU) 23 G, .311 BA, .396 OBP, 5 HR, 25 RBI, 3 SB

Paul Gervase – Mets (LSU) 35 G, 3-2, 2.24 ERA, 52.1 IP, 86 SO, 6 SV

Keagan Gillies—Orioles (Brother Martin HS, Tulane) 29 G, 5-1, 2.80 ERA, 35.1 IP, 51 SO, 3 SV

Cole Henry--Nationals (LSU) 10 G, 0-3, 4.82 ERA, 28.0 IP, 30 SO, 0 SV

Kody Hoese—Dodgers (Tulane) 85 G, .240 BA, .299 OBP, 10 HR, 31 RBI, 1 SB

Paul Skenes – Pirates (LSU) 4 G, 0-0, 7.71 ERA, 4.2 IP, 7 SO, 0 SV

Bryce Tassin—Tigers (Southeastern) 32 G, 3-5, 3.93 ERA, 50.1 IP, 40 SO, 0 SV



Cade Doughty – Blue Jays (LSU) 97 G, .261 BA, .337 OBP, 17 HR, 67 RBI, 4 SB

Jaden Hill—Rockies (LSU) 16 G, 0-9, 9.48 ERA, 43.2 IP, 57 SO, 0 SV (On 7-Day Injured List)

Aaron McKeithan–-Cardinals (Tulane) 63 G, .266 BA, .375 OBP, 5 HR, 35 RBI, 2 SB (On 7-Day Injured List)

Tre Morgan—Rays (Brother Martin HS, LSU) 14 G, .396 BA, .482 OBP, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 4 SB

Braden Olthoff—Angels (Tulane) Voluntarily Retired on August 21

Todd Peterson—Nationals (LSU) 39 G, 2-5, 4.73 ERA, 53.1 IP, 41 SO, 7 SV

Mac Sceroler—Reds (Denham Springs HS, Southeastern) 11 G, 3-0, 5.89 ERA, 18.1 IP, 22 SO, 1 SV (On 7-Day Injured List)

Tyree Thompson--Braves (Karr HS) 26 G, 3-2, 3.32 ERA, 62.1 IP, 71 SO, 2 SV



Jack Aldrich—Cubs (Tulane) 6 G, 2-0, 5.68 ERA, 6.1 IP, 9 SO, 1 SV (Released on August 22)

Zach Arnold—Phillies (LSU) 19 G, .297 BA, .403 OPB, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 6 SB

Gavin Dugas—Nationals (LSU) 16 G, .200 BA, .403 OBP, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 1 SB

Tyler Hoffman—Rockies (Tulane) 32 G, 3-2, 8.40 ERA, 30.0 IP, 31 SO, 0 SV

Brayden Jobert—Cardinals (Northshore HS, Delgado CC, LSU) 25 G, .197 BA, .341 OBP, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 4 SB

Landon Marceaux—Mets (Destrehan HS, LSU) 18 G, 3-9, 5.50 ERA, 75.1 IP, 59 SO, 0 SV (On 60-Day Injured List)

Blake Money—Orioles (LSU) 4 G, 0-0, 1.59 ERA, 5.2 IP, 6 SO, 0 SV

Carson Roccaforte—Royals (Louisiana Lafayette) 22 G, .361 BA, .455 OBP, 0 HR, 14 RBI 15 SB

Jordan Thompson—Dodgers (LSU) 16 G, .268 BA, .323 OPB, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 1 SB


Rookie League

Zack Hess—Tigers (LSU) 10 G, 1-0, 7.20 ERA, 10.0 IP, 13 SO, 0 SV


Independent League

Giovanni DiGiacomo—(LSU) 27 G, .299 BA, .460 OBP, 0 HR, 10 RBI, 4 SB

Brandon Kaminer—(LSU) 15 G, 5-4, 9.18 ERA, 50.0 IP, 35 SO, 0 SV

Zach Watson—(LSU) IND: 21 G, .322 BA, .365 OBP, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 3 SB; MiLB: 52 G, .209 BA, .265 OBP, 8 HR, 31 RBI, 11 SB


Japanese League

Kyle Keller–-Hanshin (Jesuit, Southeastern) 27G, 1-0, 1.71 ERA, 26.1 IP, 28 SO, 1 SV

Jacob Waguespack—Orix (Dutchtown HS, Ole Miss) 31 G, 4-7, 4.71 ERA, 49.2 IP, 67 SO, 2 SV

Turn Back the Clock: The legend surrounding Mel Ott's intentional walk with the bases loaded

When Barry Bonds was putting up one of his historic batting seasons in 2004 for the San Francisco Giants, he was intentionally walked 120 times during the season, including four in one game. Opposing teams feared his bat so much they were willing to give him an automatic free pass rather than see him hit another home run or extra-base hit.

There have been several instances in baseball history in which a batter was intentionally walked in a bases loaded situation, the most recent by Texas Rangers shortstop Corey Seager on April 15, 2022. With Texas leading 3-2 with one out in the fourth inning, Seager was given a free pass by Los Angeles Angels pitcher Austin Warren. Angels manager Joe Maddon made a gut call to walk Seager and give up the run in the relatively close game. He rationalized that the human element (with the dangerous Seager at the plate) dictated the situation, versus the numbers. Maddon was vindicated when his team ultimately won the game, 9-6.

When baseball records involving intentional walks come up, Gretna native and Hall of Famer Mel Ott is often recalled for his game on October 5, 1929, when he was walked with the bases loaded. A belief developed over the years that it actually happened, and it is often included in the all-time list of batters who were intentionally walked with the bases loaded. But a deeper look at the specifics of the game leaves the situation in question.

By Ott’s fourth major-league season, he had developed into a feared hitter, always a threat to knock one out of the park. Going into a doubleheader with the Phillies on October 5, Ott and Phillies slugger Chuck Klein were tied for the National League lead in home runs with 42.

Klein moved ahead of Ott with a home run in fifth inning of the first game of the doubleheader on a blow that hit the right field foul pole and bounced back onto the field. Ironically, Ott was the player who retrieved the ball. Meanwhile, Ott managed to get only a single in four plate appearances, as the Phillies won the game, 5-4.

The second game of the doubleheader got out of hand early for the Phillies, as the Giants scored six runs by the third inning, while holding the Phillies scoreless. Ott posed little threat of tying Klein since he walked four times and singled in his first five plate appearances.

With the Giants leading 11-3 in the ninth inning, Ott came up to bat for a sixth time. Phillies manager Burt Shotton, determined that his slugger would retain the home run lead, ordered his pitcher Phil Collins to intentionally walk Ott with the bases loaded. Following his manager’s directive, Collins hurled three balls wide of the plate.

Realizing the Phillies’ intentions, Ott became angered by Klein’s tactic. Collins followed with the next two pitches that were also wide of the plate, yet Ott swung at and missed both.

Phillies second baseman Fresco Thompson took exception to Ott’s futile attempt to hit one of the last two pitches and rushed in from his position to argue with umpire Bill Klem. Thompson was trying to make the case that Ott’s at-bat should be considered a walk whether he swung at the pitches or not. The dispute went on for several minutes, until Klem finally ejected Thompson from the game. With the game restored, Ott ended up accepting ball four.

While it was clear that Shotton’s intention was to keep Ott from getting a good pitch to hit in his last at-bat, in order to protect Klein’s home run lead, his decision to walk Ott intentionally was not an in-game tactic to protect his team’s lead or keep the score close if behind, which is the typical usage of an intentional walk.

Thus, the Phillies’ basis for using the intentional walk against Ott in his last-at bat makes the act questionable in the eyes of many baseball historians.


Ott, a left-handed hitter with a unique batting style, went on to have an illustrious career. He was considered the “Babe Ruth of the National League,” becoming the league’s all-time home run leader (511, second only to Ruth’s 714) when he retired as a player in 1947. Ott’s National League homer record was not broken until Willie Mays hit his 512th in 1966. Ott was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1951.

Mel Ott Park and Recreation Center in Gretna is named in his honor.

Former Shaw HS and Tulane pitcher JP France making strong case for AL Rookie of the Year

When JP France was called up by the Houston Astros in early May, he was brought in to backfill injuries to key Astros pitchers Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidy. At the time, it wasn’t definite how long France would stay with the big-league club. After all, he wasn’t rated as one of the Astros’ top pitching prospects. But now, 3 ½ months later, France has arguably been the steadiest pitcher in the Astros’ starting rotation, and he’s doing his best to contend for the American League Rookie of the Year award.

France, who prepped at Archbishop Shaw High School and played three seasons for Tulane University before transferring to Mississippi State, is in his fifth professional season. He was the 14th- round selection of the Astros in the 2018 MLB Draft.

He wasn’t particularly effective in his first full minor-league season in 2019 with High-A Fayetteville, posting a 4-9 record and 4.31 ERA.

He missed the entire 2020 season when the minor leagues were shut down by COVID. The year’s layoff apparently worked in France’s favor, because he made great strides in 2021 when he finished with a 9-3 record and 3.79 ERA, split between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Sugarland.

France was back with Sugarland for the 2022 season, where his 34 appearances were split between starter and reliver roles. If he was to make it to the big leagues with the Astros, it wasn’t certain which role he would fill.

Garcia and Urquidy were expected to pick up where they left off in 2022, when they combined with Framber Valdez and Justin Verlander to propel the Astros through the playoffs, ultimately defeating the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. Their performances were a big reason the Astros let Verlander go into free agency after the season. Plus, the Astros expected Lance McCullers Jr. to return to the rotation in 2023 after missing most of 2022 due to injury. The prospect of France breaking into the Astros’ starting rotation looked grim. At 28 years old, time was running out for him to get a fair shot with Houston.

Yet, the Astros turned to France when Urquidy and Garcia went down during the first month of this season. Further complicating Houston’s situation was McCullers’ start of the season on the Injured List. France was picked over the Astros’ No. 1 prospect Hunter Brown to backfill the injured pitchers.

It turns out France’s major-league debut on May 7 was a good omen of what he would contribute to the ailing rotation. He threw five shutout inning against the Seattle Mariners, giving up only three hits and a walk.

He’s has been a key factor in Houston’s ability to remain close to AL West Division leader Texas Rangers. He now sports a 9-3 record, with an impressive 2.74 ERA. He is tied with Cleveland’s Tanner Bibee for most wins by a rookie this season. France has won his last seven decisions. Lately, he’s been more effective than Valdez, the team’s No. 1 starter.

Urquidy is back with the Astros and Verlander was re-acquired at the major-league trade deadline. France was temporarily assigned to bullpen duty, but he returned to the rotation on August 12, when he handily defeated the Los Angeles Angels. Now flush with starters, the Astros are considering a 6-man rotation that includes France.

He will have stiff competition for Rookie of the Year honors. Baltimore infielder Gunnar Henderson, Rangers third baseman Josh Jung, Cleveland’s Bibee, and France’s teammate Brown, who was elevated to the Astros shortly after France, have also earned worthy consideration.

Joe Oeschger: They Don't Make Them Like Him Anymore

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law were traveling in northern California and came across a marker at a baseball field in Ferndale that called attention to Joe Oeschger. They sent me some photos and asked if I was familiar with him and his historic game in 1920, one in which he pitched all 26 innings of the longest game in major-league history.

I was aware of Oeschger, but only long-time baseball historians would readily know his name. His contemporaries on the hill were more familiar pitchers such as Hall of Famers Burleigh Grimes, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Jesse Haines, and Eppa Rixey. But since they all pitched in the majors over 100 years ago, many people wouldn’t know them either. Okay, well how about Babe Ruth?

Aside from his historic game on May 1, 1920, Oeschger didn’t have much to brag about during his 12-year career from 1914 to 1925. His individual records weren’t the type he would write home about. He led the National League in losses with 18 in 1918; earned runs allowed and home runs given up in 1920; and walks allowed and batters hit by pitch in 1921. By all accounts, he was a below average pitcher during his career (measured today by an 88 ERA+, when 100 is average).

However, on this day pitching for the Boston Braves, Oeschger was as good as they come—then and now. He faced 90 batters in the 26-inning contest that ended in a 1-1 tie, because of darkness. He yielded only nine hits and four walks to Brooklyn (then known as the Robins), while pitching 21 straight scoreless innings. His pitch count was not recorded, but if he averaged 10 pitches per inning (which is pretty efficient in today’s terms), that’s a whopping total of 260 pitches. It’s likely that he actually exceeded that. His feat would be unheard of today, as most big-league managers would be frowned upon if they allowed a pitcher to throw over 120 innings in a game.

Think about this. Oeschger’s 26 innings in one ballgame would constitute four or five starts for most pitchers in today’s game. But that’s just how the game has evolved. The term “workhorse” is hardly ever used anymore to describe pitchers, since they rarely grind out even a couple of nine-inning games a season.

Boston manager George Stallings did acknowledge Oeschger’ tireless performance. The skipper gave him 11 days rest before his next outing, when three or four days rest was the norm.

But the story of this historic game doesn’t end with Oeschger’s untiring performance. Brooklyn’s pitcher that day was Leon Cadore. Guess what he did? He matched Oeschger’s 26 innings pitched. Makes you wonder if the opposing managers had a bet on whose pitcher could last the longest.

Thanks, Brad and Suzanne, for jogging my memory of Oeschger and his noteworthy game.

Can Aaron Judge salvage the Yankees?

The New York Yankees are currently trailing all of their AL East Division opponents in the standings. There have been numerous reasons why the team is floundering, some of which are the same old problems from previous years—injuries, lack of starting pitching starting depth, and the underperformance of several key players. With Aaron Judge having to return from the injured list for the last month of the season, it begs the question of whether the slugger can give the Yankees a much-needed boost to assure their berth in the playoffs.

On the surface, being a cellar-dweller doesn’t sound too promising with regard to their postseason opportunities. But the Yankees’ last-place position, unlike most last-place teams in the other divisions, still has them at a .529 winning percentage, eight games behind the Orioles as of Saturday. (By comparison, the last-place Kansas City Royals are 23 games behind their division leader, while the dismal Oakland A’ are 30 1/2 games behind the Texas Rangers.)

Judge has carried the Yankees on his back before. During the second half of 2022 while the Yankees offense began to wane in mid-August, Judge’ performance during his race to 61 home runs single-handedly kept the team in first.

At the time Judge went on the injured in early June in 2023, his performance was similar to his 2022 second half. He was slashing .291/.404/1.078 with 19 home runs and 40 RBI. The Yankees were in third place, only six games behind the division-leading Rays, yet posted the fifth-best overall record in the AL. The Yankees eventually dropped to fifth place by the All-Star Game, never winning more than two games in a row. Yet they never fell below .500.

The division has been the best in all of baseball (every team currently playing above .500). Tampa Bay jumped out to one of the best starts of any major-league season, yet they never held a lead over the second-place team by more than 6 ½ games. It wasn’t until July 20 that they relinquished first place to the Orioles.

The Yankees’ pitching staff has probably kept them competitive more than any other aspect of their game. Their team ERA+ is 111, tied for third in the league with the division rivals Boston and Toronto. They trail Houston and Minnesota by only a couple of points. Of course, Gerrit Cole is the headliner of the starting rotation. He’s putting up his usual Cy Young-worthy numbers. Carlos Rodon, who was acquired by the Yankees during the offseason to be the No. 2 guy in the rotation, didn’t pitch his first game of the season until July 7, because of an injury.

The Yankees have had a revolving door to their outfield positions this season. The production from outfielders like Oswaldo Cabrera, Harrison Bader, Jake Bauers, Billy McKinny, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa has been woeful. If Judge’s first two games upon returning to the lineup are any indication, there’s reason to be optimistic about his contribution during the balance of the season. The Yankee captain was 3-for-6, with three walks, a home run and two RBIs.

According to, the Yankees are currently sitting outside the projected playoff scenario, while the Orioles, Rays, and Blue Jays are taking spots. The Yankees will need to overtake the Red Sox (who is one game ahead of them), and one of their other division foes (currently 3 ½ games behind the Blue Jays).

There’s still a lot of baseball to be played. I’m looking for Judge to provide the lift the Yankees need to solidify their chances. Of course, it would help if veterans Giancarlo Stanton, Anthony Rizzo, DJ LeMahieu, and Josh Donaldson could kick in some additional offense.

Baltimore's obsession with drafting shortstops could come in handy this week

Anyone who has followed major league baseball in the last 45 years knows the best-ever shortstop for the Baltimore Orioles was Cal Ripken Jr. He was a second-round pick of the Orioles in the 1978 MLB draft and went on to a Hall of Fame career. 32 years later the Orioles made shortstop Manny Machado their first-round selection (third overall pick of the draft) in 2010. He was a four-time all-star with the Orioles, while he now plays for the San Diego Padres. Many would argue he’s bound for the Hall as well.

Since 2015, the Orioles have selected 12 shortstops in the draft and signed two other international shortstops. It seems the O’s GMs have been obsessed in selecting this many infielders at the same position. Perhaps they’ve been looking for the next Ripken or Machado.

That hope may finally be realized since Jackson Holliday was selected out of high school as the first overall pick of the 2022 draft. The highly-touted shortstop, with a major-league pedigree (his father is former MLB all-star Matt Holliday), has already progressed to Double-A. He was Jonathan Mayo’s ( No. 12 ranked prospect prior to the 2023 season.

However, Holliday could have a huge challenge ahead of him if he advances to the majors within the next couple of years. He’s got several other high-round draftees already ahead of him on the major-league roster.

Jorge Mateo, acquired from the San Diego Padres during the 2021 season has been the starting shortstop for the O’s since his arrival. Gunnar Henderson, the second-round pick of the Orioles in 2019, was promoted to the big-league club earlier this season. With Mateo entrenched at shortstop, Henderson has been primarily playing third base. He’s already projecting to be a regular at one of the infield positions.

Then there’s Jordan Westburg, a first-round pick of Baltimore in 2020, who was also recently promoted. He’s primarily been seeing action at second base. Joey Ortiz, a fourth-round pick in 2019 who is on the Orioles’ 40-man roster, made his major-league debut this season. He’s been seeing action at shortstop, third base, and second base.

Even as the Orioles are contending for the AL East Division lead, they haven’t been shy about giving these youngsters a shot in the big leagues. They’re all contributing since they are capable of playing multiple positions.

But the odd thing is there are four more infielders at the Orioles’ Triple-A level who were high draft picks or international prospects as shortstop. Cesar Prieto, a Cuban native who signed in 2022, has somewhat flown under the radar because he wasn’t as well known as the top amateur draft picks. Others include Connor Norby, a second-round pick in 2020; Coby Mayo a fourth-round pick in 2020; and Caydn Grenier, a first-round pick in 2018. These prospects are being given an opportunity to play other infield positions, including first base, as well as the outfield. That strategy worked out well with another first-round shortstop in 2015--Ryan Mountcastle, who is the Orioles’ regular first baseman and sometimes DH.

As if that weren’t enough, the Orioles’ organization has two more high draft-pick prospects below the Triple-A level-- Anthony Servideo, a third round pick in 2020, and Collin Burns, a sixth-round selection in 2021, both of whom came out of the college ranks.

While there is a logistical logjam in the Orioles infield, in both the majors and minors, the situation actually puts the Orioles in a good position to acquire much-needed players at other positions by offering up several of these quality prospects. For example, pitching depth is always a necessity at this time of the season.

It seems far-fetched, but perhaps the Orioles can deal a couple of those high-profile shortstop prospects at the upcoming trade deadline for Shohei Ohtani, as a three-month rental. (Ohtani is a free agent after this season.) It would go a long way to ensure their berth in the playoffs and position them as a real threat throughout the postseason.

Oh, did I mention the Orioles picked two shortstops in the final two rounds, 19th and 20th, in this year’s draft? I guess their front office just couldn’t resist.

Turn Back the Clock: Lance Berkman powered Zephyrs to Triple-A World Series title

At the beginning of the 1998 season, the New Orleans Zephyrs hadn’t won a league title in their five years in the Crescent City. They had managed to play in one postseason playoff series (in 1997) but were swept in three games. But that would change during the 1998 campaign. A late-season youth movement by the team, led by Lance Berkman, propelled the team to a Pacific Coast League championship, followed by a coveted Triple-A World Series title.

The Zephyrs became a minor-league affiliate of the Houston Astros in 1997, after having started out with the Milwaukee Brewers as their parent in the American Association in 1993. Another organizational change occurred in 1998, when the American Association merged with the Pacific Coast League. Memphis, Oklahoma, and Nashville became the Zephyrs’ new rivals in the East Division of the PCL.

John Tamargo took the reins as Zephyrs manager in 1998 and led them to a division championship with a 76-66 record, three games ahead of Memphis and Oklahoma. During the last month of the season, the Zephyrs roster was supplemented by promotions for Berkman, third baseman Chris Truby, shortstop Julio Lugo, catcher Scott Makarewicz, outfielder Chad Alexander, and pitchers Derek Root, Mike Blais, and Kent Wallace. They served as backfills for other Zephyrs who were called up to the majors, and the new prospects ended up seeing a lot of playing time.

The Zephyrs got a boost from several of the younger players down the stretch of the regular season. Berkman put up 6 HRs and 13 RBIs in 17 and posted a remarkable .411 on-base percentage. Chris Truby had a slash line of .412/.444/.765 in five games. Blais and Wallace made nine relief appearances between them.

The Zephyrs played the Iowa Cubs, the Central Division champion, in the first round of the playoffs. Their scheduled five-game series was shortened to three games, after Tropical Storm Frances affected the ability to get in all the games. Behind the complete-game pitching of Bob Scanlon, the Zephyrs defeated the Cubs in the third game to advance to the PCL championship round against Calgary.

After trailing Calgary 2-1 in their series, the Zephyrs rallied to even the series. Truby, Berkman, and Lugo led the hitting attack in the Game 4 win, as Scanlon hurled another complete game.

The Z’s came from behind in the deciding Game 5 to defeat Calgary and take home the PCL championship trophy. Bob Milacki gave up only five hits in recording the 4-3 win. 23-year-old Daryl Ward hit his fourth home run of the postseason.

New Orleans faced the Buffalo Bisons, the International League champion, in the Triple-A World Series.

With two home runs, Ward was the hitting star again for the Z’s in Game 1. After Buffalo rebounded with a win in Game 2, New Orleans won the next two games to capture the World Series title. In the fourth game, the Zephyrs won handily,12-6, as Berkman put on a hitting show with four hits, including three home runs (from both sides of the plate) and six RBI. He was named the Most Valuable Player of the series.

Tamargo attributed the successful postseason to his newcomers. He said, “It was the new blood. Those kids really fired everybody up.” When the big-league Astros took four of the New Orleans’ starters and traded a fifth, the Zephyrs managed to jell with the replacement players. Veteran first baseman Paul Russo observed, “The other guys left, new guys came in, and they played outstanding. The older guys tried to take the pressure off them by just telling them to relax and play ball.”

Berkman also spent parts of the 1999 and 2000 seasons with the Zephyrs. He went on to have a spectacular major-league career with the Astros, becoming one of the most productive players in their history. In 14 Astros seasons, he collected 326 home runs and 1,090 RBIs. His slash line was .296/.410/.549. With the Astros, he was a five-time All-Star and finished in the top seven in the MVP voting in five seasons.

The Zephyrs were declared the co-champions of the PCL in 2001 with Tacoma since the championship series was cancelled due to the 9/11 attack.

The Zephyrs remained an Astros minor-league club through the 2004 season, after which they became affiliated with the Washington Nationals (2005-2006), New York Mets (2007-2008), and Florida/Miami Marlins (2009-2019).

A once-in-a-lifetime baseball game

Saturday’s baseball game at Comerica Park in Detroit started out kind of shaky. It had threatened to rain all morning and the weather forecast for the 1:10 afternoon game showed the game was in jeopardy. The game wound up getting postponed by an hour and twenty-two minutes. And true to the forecast, it did rain during the game. Yet it was how the game ended that made it one of the most memorable I have ever attended.

My son Lee, my son-in-law Kenny, my grandson Jackson and I had been in Cleveland two days before to take in games between the Guardians and the Kansas City Royals. The Guardians won both games handily, but it was no surprise since the Royals are a pretty pathetic team. Practically every Royals batter in the lineup was hitting around .220. It’s one of the reasons they are neck-and-neck with Oakland for being the worst team in the American League.

We anticipated a lot of offense from the Toronto Blue Jays in the contest against Detroit. Just the day before, the Blue Jays blew away the Tigers, 12-2, by collecting 14 hits backed by two home runs and three doubles. We were sure we’d see a repeat performance by Toronto.

The rain started almost immediately after the game got underway. Fortunately, we had bought ponchos on our walk to the stadium, just in case. They came in handy; otherwise, we would have been drenched. Remarkably, the game was never interrupted by the weather. We even remarked among ourselves that the game officials must have expected the inclement weather to clear out soon, to have not taken the teams off the field.

We expected former LSU pitcher Kevin Gausman, who is leading the American League in strikeouts, to have a double-digit strikeout game for the Blue Jays.

His opponent on the mound was Tigers pitcher Matt Manning, who was making his fifth start of the season. He had been recently called up from Triple-A Toledo.

Manning had a hard time gripping the wet ball during that first inning when it rained. He started out hitting Blue Jays leadoff batter Dante Bichette and walking Brandon Belt, he but managed to get out of the inning without yielding a hit or run.

On the other hand, Gausman also struggled during the first inning, allowing two runs on a single by Riley Greene (it was his bobblehead day), a double by Spencer Torkelson, and a triple by Kerry Carpenter.

The rain ended in the second inning and sunny skies dried out the drenched fans during the rest of the game.

Both pitchers settled into a routine. Gausman struck out seven batters in six innings, after which he was relieved by Nate Pearson.

Backed by sparkling defensive plays by Carpenter and Javier Baez, Manning held the Blue Jays at bay through six innings without a hit. But in the seventh, after Manning walked Cavan Biggio with two outs, the crowd was stunned when Tigers manager A. J. Hinch pulled Manning from the game. Hinch drew the ire of Tiger fans, who boisterously booed the move; after all, they were anxious to see a no-hitter. Spencer Turnbull was the last Tigers pitcher to hurl a no-hitter in 2021, against the Seattle Mariners.

Hard-throwing Jason Foley came in relief of Manning to get the final out of the seventh and then also blanked the Blue Jays in the eighth.

The crowd came to its feet, as another former LSU pitcher, Alex Lange, came in to close out the game and preserve the no-hitter in the ninth for the Tigers. He was tasked with facing the formidable top of the Blue Jays order consisting of Bichette, Belt, and the always dangerous Vlad Guerrero Jr.

Lange quickly retired Bichette on a strikeout and Belt on a fly ball and then induced Guerrero on a weak ground out to cinch the no-hitter. Detroit won the game, 2-0. History was made.

It was the first combined no-hitter in Tigers history. There have been only 318 no-hitters in the majors since 1876. Of these, there have been only 20 combined no-hitters. Considering there have been over MLB 237,000 games since 1876, the Tigers’ no-no was extremely rare.


It was my first time witnessing a major-league no-hitter in person. (I’ve seen a no-hitter and a perfect game in the minors when the New Orleans Zephyrs fielded a team.) This will now rank as the most memorable MLB game I’ve attended, replacing the one I saw in Atlanta in August 1978, when Pete Rose broke his 44-game hitting streak.

Who is Luis Arraez?

If you don’t already know the name Luis Arraez, you should. The Miami Marlins second baseman has quietly come onto the major-league landscape. It’s probably because he hasn’t played for a big-market team. But here’s a player who apparently knows how to hit. He won the American League batting title last year when he was playing for the Minnesota Twins. And now he’s pushing the .400-mark at mid-season.

The 26-year-old Venezuelan made his major-league debut with the Minnesota Twins in 2019, when he hit .334 in half of a season. Again, he flew under the radar in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season as he batted .321.

Arraez had trouble finding a full-time position with the Twins in 2021. With Jorge Polanco entrenched at second base (with 33 homers and 98 RBIs), Arraez was by the Twins used a “super-utility” player, with appearances in both infield and outfield positions. Still, he turned in a .294 batting average.

Last season, Arraez led the American League with a .316 batting average, earning an All-Star appearance and a Silver Slugger Award. When Aaron Judge was threatening to win the Triple Crown, it was Arraez who was standing in his way to accomplishing the rare feat. (Judge finished second with a .311 batting average.) Arraez was the first Twins player to win a batting title since Joe Mauer in 2009.

Oddly, Arraez was traded to the Marlins after the 2022 season for veteran pitcher Pablo Lopez and two teenage prospects. When the Twins decided to bolster their pitching rotation for 2023, Arraez was the one who became expendable, even though he was under team control until 2025. He is the first player since Hall of Famer Rod Carew (1978) to be traded after winning a batting title.

Arraez is currently batting a phenomenal .388 at mid-season. He already has 116 hits, on a pace to exceed 200, which is generally acknowledged as a significant milestone for a single season. His closest NL competitor is Ronald Acuna Jr. with a .333 average. Arraez has a .439 OBP, first in the NL. Intentional walks are usually employed against power-hitting threats, yet he’s been intentionally walked eight times, first in the league. If there is a knock against his performance, it’s that he doesn’t hit for power. His highest home run total for a season is eight in 2022. He has only three so far this season.

Arraez had his third 5-hit game in the month of June on the 16th. He is one of only four players to accomplish this in a single month, along with Dave Winfield, Ty Cobb, and George Sisler.

For advanced batting stats using FanGraphs, Arraez is second in the majors with a BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) of .402. He is fifth in wRC+ (Adjusted Runs Created) at 153. He has the lowest Strikeout Rate at 5.2%.

He is one of the main reasons the Marlins are 12 games above .500. They are in second place, 8 games behind the Atlanta Braves. The Marlins have the third-best record in the National League.

Past history says Arraez won’t end up with a .400 batting average. The last player to do this was Ted Williams in 1941, when he hit .406. Tony Gwynn came the closest since Williams, with a .394 mark in the strike-shortened (114 games) 1994 season. George Brett hit .390 in 1980. Arraez would be in rare company with those Hall of Fame hitters, if he can maintain his current pace.

Turn Back the Clock: Red Sox outslug Yankees in 1971 exhibition game in Tad Gormley Stadium

Long before the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox developed their heated rivalry in the late 1990s and early 2000s, New Orleans was the site of a high-scoring exhibition game on April 4, 1971, between the two teams.

The game was part of an spring exhibition series in the Crescent City in which the New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles faced off in two games. The city was no stranger to major-league teams popping in for one or two exhibition games on their way North from Florida to start the regular season. This had been a common occurrence since the 1940s.

The exhibition games in 1971 were of particular importance because the city had begun the project to build the Louisiana Superdome and set its sights on attracting an MLB team as a tenant of its future indoor stadium. The major-league contests were sponsored by the Louisiana Domed Stadium Baseball Committee to provide an opportunity to showcase the city as a “baseball town.”

New Orleans had been without a professional baseball team since 1959, when the minor-league New Orleans Pelicans last fielded a team. The old Pelican Stadium, located at Tulane and Carrolton Avenues, had been razed even before the hometown Pelicans discontinued its franchise. Tad Gormley Stadium, better known for its high school football games and track and field meets, was pressed into service as the site of the three major-league exhibition games in 1971. To accommodate the games, the stadium’s managers revived an old configuration that had served the Pelicans during their last two seasons in 1958 and 1959.

The Yankees and Red Sox had been long-time adversaries in the American League, but their legendary head-to-head competitions for league pennants wouldn’t occur another three decades. Coming off the 1970 season, the Yankees and Red Sox finished second and third in their division, respectively, but well behind the World Series champion Baltimore Orioles.

The Yankees were managed by Ralph Houk, who had led the team to three pennants and two World Series rings in his first three years (1961-1963) at the helm. Twenty-three-year-old Thurman Munson had emerged as the Yankees new catcher the year before, when he captured AL Rookie of the Year honors. Roy White and Bobby Murcer were up-and-coming outfielders, while Mel Stottlemyre, the only holdover from the Yankees’ last World Series team in 1964, was their ace on the mound.

Eddie Kasko was starting his second season as the BoSox manager. The Red Sox finished first in home runs in the AL in 1970, led by perennial all-star Carl Yastrzemski and Tony Conigliaro, who had recovered from a tragic beaning a couple of years earlier.

The Sunday afternoon contest attracted a nice crowd of 11,203 despite cold weather and the threat of rain. Stottlemyre and Red Sox veteran Gary Peters drew the starting assignments.

Both teams started off hot at the plate. The Yankees scored six runs in their first two innings, with Munson and Roy White providing home runs. The Red Sox scored four in the first two innings, with Yastrzemski and Luis Aparicio providing run-scoring singles.

Both teams added a run in the fourth inning, including White’s second homer of the day.

Boston tied the game in the fifth inning, 7-7, on solo home runs by shortstop Rico Petrocelli and newly acquired catcher Duane Stephenson.

Boston broke the game open with seven runs in the seventh inning, when they sent 10 players to the plate. Don Pavletich and Joe Lahoud each delivered two-run home runs, while Mike Griffin’s double and John Kennedy’s triple plated the other runs.

The Yankees could muster up only one more run in the eighth for a final score of 14-8.

It was a rough day for both pitching staffs. Each team recorded 16 hits. Stottlemyre gave up seven runs on 11 hits in six innings, while Peters yielded seven runs on 10 hits in five innings. Yankees right-hander Gary Waslewski, who gave up seven runs in two innings, was charged with the loss. Ken Brett turned in the only creditable performance of the day with two scoreless innings and got credit for the win.

The Mets and Orioles split their two-game series on Friday and Saturday, with the Orioles winning, 12-2 and the Mets getting revenge with 4-3 victory.

The attendance for the three days was 26,500. Tickets for the game were $2 for adults and $1 for children and students under age 16. Bill Connick, the boss of the Superdome’s baseball committee, was pleased with the weekend series. He told the States-Item, “We are nothing but thrilled. The future holds a lot for us as far as baseball is concerned.”

Yet despite concerted efforts by the city and Superdome officials over the next several years, they never realized their plan to bring a major-league baseball franchise to the city. The Yankees would return to New Orleans in 1980 through 1983 to play exhibition series in the Louisiana Superdome

Remembering New Orleans area baseball dads on Father's Day

Father’s Day is a good time to remember some of the noteworthy baseball dads who played at the high school level in the New Orleans area, followed by careers playing at the college or professional levels, as well as coaching. For many of the dads, their sons continued the baseball legacy by also playing prep, college or professional baseball.

Within the last year, Crescent City Sports featured a couple of fathers who were blessed to have multiple sons continue the family baseball tradition, including Henry “Doc” Cabeceiras, who had five sons play collegiately, and John Golden, with four sons, three of whom played for Southeastern Louisiana.

Several baseball-playing families spanned three generations. For example, the Wineski family featured nine ballplayers over three generations. Others include the Faust, Hughes, Schwaner, and Whitman families.

Below is a list of New Orleans area father-son combos. A number of fathers and sons have links to a Crescent City Sports article about their careers.




Terry Alario Sr. – Pitcher, West Jefferson HS; Northwestern State University (1966-1969); N-Club Hall of Fame

Terry Alario Jr. – Catcher, John Curtis Christian HS; Northwestern State University (1992-1994); N-Club Hall of Fame

Corey Avrard – Pitcher, Rummel HS; 3rd round draft pick of Cardinals (1994); Minors (1995-2003)

C.J. Avrard – Pitcher, Jesuit HS; Delgado CC (2015-2016)


Casey Avrard – Third baseman, Rummel HS

Gregg Barrios – Outfielder, Jesuit HS; Tulane (1981-1984); Minors (1984-1986)

Briggs Barrios Outfielder, Jesuit HS; Tulane (2011-2013)

Lou Blanda Sr. – Marrero HS; Tulane (1942-1943)

Lou Blanda Jr. – Pitcher, West Jefferson HS; Tulane (1963-1965)

Kenny Bonura – Infielder, De La Salle HS; UNO (1982-1985)

Kal Bonura – Infielder, Holy Cross HS; UNO (2010-2011)


Chip Bonura – Infielder, Holy Cross HS; Delgado CC (2016-2017)


Bret Bonura—Outfielder, Holy Cross HS; assistant coach at Holy Cross

Joe Brockhoff – Catcher, East Jefferson HS; Perkinson (MS) CC; Minors (1958-1959); Tulane head coach (1974-1993)

Joey Brockhoff – East Jefferson HS, Tulane (1982-1986)

David Burch – Pitcher, De La Salle HS; Southeastern Louisiana (1977-1979, 1981)

David Burch – Pitcher; Central Catholic HS; UNO (2007-2008); Nicholls State (2006)

Barry Butera Sr. – Outfielder, Jesuit HS; Tulane (1975-1977); 14th round draft pick of Red Sox (1977); Minors (1977-1980)

Barry Butera Jr. – Infielder, Jesuit HS; Boston College (2007-2009); 21st round draft pick of Astros (2009); Minors (2009-2010)


Blake Butera – Infielder, Mandeville HS, Boston College (2012-2015); 35th round draft pick of Rays (2015); Minors player (2015-2016); Minors manager (2018-present)

Ralph “Putsy” Caballero – Infielder, Jesuit HS; Signed as 16-year-old with Phillies (1944); Majors (1944-1952)

Robert Caballero – Outfielder, De La Salle HS; Loyola University; 20th round draft pick of Red Sox (1970); Minors (1970-1971)

Henry “Doc” Cabeceiras Jr. – American Legion and Babe Ruth coach

Jim Cabeceiras – Outfielder, Ridgewood HS; Southeastern Louisiana (1975-1978)


Henry Cabeceiras III – Pitcher, John Curtis Christian HS; Southeastern Louisiana (1984)


Joey Cabeceiras – Pitcher, Jesuit HS; UNO (1994-1997)


Larry Cabeceiras – Catcher/Infielder, Ridgewood HS; Tulane (1976-1979) 


Steven CabeceirasPitcher, De La Salle HS; Delgado CC (1973); UNO (1974-1975)

Joey Cabeceiras (see above)

Jake Cabeceiras – Infielder, Rummel HS; UNO (2021); Loyola University (2022); Baton Rouge CC (2023)

Larry Cabeceiras (see above)

Miles Cabeceiras – De La Salle HS; UNO (2005-2006)

Gary Cannizaro – Holy Cross HS; Southern Mississippi (1973-1976); High school coach

Andy Cannizaro –Infielder, St. Paul’s; Tulane (1998-2001); MLB (2006, 2008); head coach, Miss. State; Holy Cross HS coach


Lee Cannizaro -- Mandeville HS; Southern Mississippi


Garrett Cannizaro – Infielder, Mandeville HS; Tulane (2010-2013); Minors (2013)

Kevin Cantrelle – Holy Cross HS; Louisiana Lafayette (1994-1998)

Hayden Cantrelle – Infielder, Holy Cross HS, Louisiana Lafayette (2018-2020); Minors (2021-present)

Jim Cesario Sr. – Outfielder, UNO (1982-1983); 34th round draft pick of Rangers (1983); Minors (1983-1984)

Jimmy Cesario Jr. – Infielder, Jesuit HS; Delgado CC (2005-2006); University of Houston (2007-2008); 46th round draft pick of Rockies (2008); Minors (2008-2012)


Joey Cesario – Catcher, Jesuit HS; University of Houston (2009); Delgado CC (2010); UL Monroe (2011-2012

Kevin Collet – Holy Cross HS; Tulane (1987)

Christopher Collet – Outfield/Catcher, Holy Cross HS; Panola TX CC (2019-2020); Delgado CC (2021)

Neal Comarda – De La Salle HS; Tulane (1975-1978)

Jerad Comarda – Infielder, Jesuit HS; UNO (2006-2010)

Jack Cressend – Pitcher, Mandeville HS; Tulane (1994-1996); Majors (2000-2004); Scout, Los Angeles Dodgers

Cole Cressend – Pitcher, Mandeville HS; UL Monroe (2021-present)

Warren Cuntz – Outfielder, Jesuit HS; LSU (1981-1984)

Alex Cuntz – Infielder/Outfielder, St. Paul’s HS; Belhaven College (2012); Delgado CC (2013-2014)

Vince DeGrouttola – Pitcher, Rummel HS; Tulane (1974-1977); 37th round draft pick of Indians (1973), did not sign

Kevin DeGrouttola – Pitcher, Grace King HS; Delgado CC (2007-2008); UNO (2009-2010)

Sam Dozier – Catcher, Shaw HS, Tulane (1978-1981); Coach at River Oaks, St. Martin’s, Jesuit, Country Day

Matt Dozier –Outfielder, Jesuit HS

Ned Eades – Catcher; William Carey College; Minors (1967-1968); Northshore HS coach

Ryan EadesPitcher, Northshore HS; LSU (2011-2013); 19th round draft pick of Rockies (2010), did not sign; 2nd round draft pick of Twins (2013); Majors (2019)


Chris Eades – Catcher, Northshore HS; Delgado CC (2013, 2014); Southeastern Louisiana (2015-2016); 35th round draft pick of Pirates (2014), did not sign

John Faciane Sr.Pitcher/Third Baseman, Jesuit HS; Nicholls State (1981-1984)

Josh Faciane – Infielder, Jesuit HS; UL Monroe (2012-2016)


John Faciane Jr. – Catcher, Jesuit HS

Rick Farizo – Pitcher, De La Salle HS; LSU (1968-1971; 20th round draft pick of Reds (1967), did not sign

Brad Farizo – Pitcher, Shaw HS; 24th round draft pick of Marlins (1996); Minors (1997-2002)

Jean Faust –High school coach, Chalmette HS, Holy Cross HS; NORD All-American League coach

Doug Faust – Infielder, Chalmette HS, Delgado CC (1987), UNO (1988-1990); head coach Loyola University; High school coach


Donny Faust—Infielder, Redeemer HS; Delgado CC (1991-92)

Doug Faust (see above)

Brady Faust – Infielder, Brother Martin HS; Southern Miss (2020-present)

Billy Fitzgerald – Catcher, Jesuit HS; Tulane (1967-1969); 15th round draft pick of Giants (1968), did not sign; 5th round January-secondary phase draft pick, Braves (1969), did not sign; 1st round June-secondary phase draft pick, A’s (1969); Minors (1969-1973); High school coach

Robert Fitzgerald – Outfielder/Pitcher, Newman HS; University of Tennessee (2001-2005)

David Flettrich – Infielder, Jesuit HS; Tulane (1964-1966); 13th round draft pick of Indians (1965), did not sign; Minors (1967)

Kyle Flettrich – Pitcher, Shaw HS; Delgado CC (2017-2018); Southeastern Louisiana (2019-2021)

Brett Forshag – Infielder, Jesuit HS, LSU (1985)

Trent Forshag – Catcher, Jesuit HS; LSU (2016)

Hilton Fortier-Bensen – Redemptorist HS; Delgado CC (1975)

Tony Fortier-Bensen – Infielder, Jesuit HS; Delgado CC (2012-2013); High Point University (2014-2015)

Lenny Frazier – Catcher/Outfielder, Bonnabel HS; Delgado CC; UL Lafayette (1980-1981)

Lenny Frazier – Hannan HS, Delgado CC


Lance Frazier – Hannan HS

John Fury Jr. – Ecole Classique; Southeastern Louisiana (1972)

Trey Fury – Jesuit HS; Delgado CC (2003); Loyola University (2004-2006)

Andy Galy – Infielder, Jesuit HS; LSU (1985-1988)

Alex Galy – Infielder, Jesuit HS; Nicholls State (2019-2021)

Larry Gilbert Sr.Outfielder, Majors (1914-1915); Minor league manager, New Orleans Pelicans (1923-1938) and Nashville Vols (1939-1948)

Larry Gilbert Jr. -- Infielder, Jesuit HS; Minors (1937-1938)


Charlie Gilbert – Outfielder, Jesuit HS; Majors (1940-1947)


Tookie Gilbert – First Baseman, Jesuit HS; Majors (1950, 1953)

John Golden –Infielder, S. J. Peters HS; Minors (1946-1947)

Kenny Golden – De La Salle HS; Louisiana Lafayette


Pat Golden – Infielder, De La Salle HS; Southeastern Louisiana (1967-1970)


Wayne Golden – Infielder, Rummel HS; Southeastern Louisiana (1975-1978)


Steve Golden – Infielder/Outfielder, Rummel HS; Southeastern Louisiana (1978-1981)

Keith Graffagnini – First Baseman/Outfielder, De La Salle HS; Loyola University; Minors (1965-1969)

Todd GraffagniniPitcher, Jesuit HS; UL Monroe (1988); Assistant coach, Loyola University (1992-1993); New Orleans Zephyrs play-by-play announcer


Keith Graffagnini – Infielder, De La Salle; Tulane (1995-1998); 47th round draft pick of Dodgers (1994), did not sign; Minors (1998)


Jon Graffagnini – De La Salle HS; Loyola University


Kyle Graffagnini – Jesuit HS; Tulane (1992-1995)

James “Pel” Hughes – Infielder, Jesuit HS; Loyola University (1933-1937); Minors (Pelicans, 1945)

Vic Hughes – Catcher, Jesuit HS; Loyola University (1965-1968)

Vic Hughes (see above)

Brian Hughes – Outfielder, Jesuit HS; Tulane (1995-1998; Minors (1998-1999)


Jacques Jobert – Infielder, Salmen HS; Nicholls State (1998-1999)

Brayden Jobert – Outfielder/First Baseman, Northshore HS; Nicholls State (2020); Delgado (2021); LSU (2022-present)

Ronnie Kornick Sr. – Chalmette HS; UNO (1970-1972); High school coach

Ronnie Kornick Jr. – Infielder, Hannan HS; Delgado CC (1993-1994); Southeastern Louisiana (1997-1997)

Joey Latino – Pitcher/Infielder, De La Salle HS, Delgado CC; UNO (1982); coached at Hannan HS, De La Salle HS, Jesuit HS and Shaw HS

Christian Latino – Pitcher, Jesuit HS; Delgado CC (2015-2017)

Lance Licciardi Sr. – Outfielder, Chalmette HS; Southeastern Louisiana (1989-1990); Tulane (1991-1993)

Lance Licciardi Jr. – Catcher, Holy Cross HS; Loyola University (2013-2016)


Max Licciardi – Outfielder, Holy Cross HS; Belhaven (2022-2023)

Drew Lukinovich – Pitcher, Jesuit HS; Tulane (1977-1980)

Stephen Lukinovich – Pitcher, Jesuit HS; Delgado CC (2008); University of Louisiana Monroe (2011-2013)

Vince Manalla – Chalmette HS; Tulane (1981, 1983)

Jordan Manalla – Infielder, Rummel HS; Delgado CC (2011); UNO (2012)

“Oyster” Joe Martina – Pitcher, Minors (Pelicans, 1916, 1921-1923, 1925-1928); Majors (1924-1924)

Joe Martina Jr. – Infielder, St. Aloysius HS; Minors (1935)

Tommy Mathews – First Baseman, Redemptorist; Delgado CC; Tulane (1982-1984); 15th round draft pick of Cardinals (1984); Minors (1984-1986); High school coach

Grant Mathews – First Baseman, Country Day HS; Tulane (2017-2020); 38th round pick of Braves (2019), did not sign

Joe Matranga Jr. – Pitcher, S.J. Peters HS; Southeastern Louisiana (1953, 1955)

Joe Matranga III – Pitcher, Ecole Classique HS, UNO (1976-1980)

Malcolm McCall – Pitcher; New Orleans Academy HS; LSU (1951-53)

Mike McCall – Pitcher, De La Salle HS; LSU (1975-1977)

Paul Migliore – Infielder; East Jefferson HS; Tulane (1982); Delgado CC (1983); 13th round pick of Angels in January draft regular phase (1984), did not sign

Taylor Migliore – Pitcher, Rummel HS; Delgado CC (2012-2013)

Allan Montreuil Sr. – Infielder, De La Salle HS; Loyola University (1962-1963); Minors (1964-1975); Majors (1972)

Allan Montreuil Jr. – Infielder, River Oaks HS; Gulf Coast Miss. CC (1984); Delgado CC (1985)

Don Moreau – Jesuit HS; Coach at Loyola University (1990-2002)

Dave Moreau -- Infielder; De La Salle HS; UL Monroe (1978-1981)


Doug Moreau – Public address announcer, minor league, college, high school, NORD, JPRD; Official scorer, college

Ryan Moreci – Pitcher, Rummel HS; Delgado CC

Jake Moreci – Pitcher, Jesuit HS

John Morreale Jr. – Catcher/Pitcher/Infielder, De La Salle HS; Minors (1961)

John Morreale III – Infielder, De La Salle HS; George Wallace CC (1990); Delgado CC (1991); UL Monroe (1992-1993); Minors (1994-1996)

John Morreale III (see above)

Johnny Morreale IV—St. Martin’s, Millsaps (2023)

Pat O’Shea – Jesuit HS; Nicholls State; Coached at Shaw HS, Jesuit HS; assistant coach at Delgado CC

Ryan O’Shea – Pitcher, Mandeville HS; UNO (2006-2008); Minors (2008-2011)

Johnny Owen – Pitcher, Fortier HS; Tulane (1945-1949); Minors (1950-1953); High school coach

John Owen – East Jefferson HS; UNO (1974-1977)


Jim Owen – East Jefferson HS; Nicholls State (1977-1980)

Wally Pontiff Sr. – Pitcher - Redemptorist; Loyola University (1970-1972); Minors (1973-1974)

Wally Pontiff Jr.Infielder, Jesuit HS; LSU (2000-2002); 21st round draft pick of A’s (2002)


Nick Pontiff – Outfielder, Jesuit HS; LSU (2006-2009)

Tony Reginelli – Catcher, Tulane (1955-1957)

Reggie Reginelli – Outfielder Newman HS; Tulane (1980-1983)

Milt Retif – Infielder, Jesuit HS; Tulane (1952-1955); Head coach, Tulane (1967-1974)

Mickey Retif – Outfielder, Jesuit HS; Tulane (1975-1978)


Ken Retif – Infielder/Outfielder, Jesuit HS; Tulane (1977-1980)

Mike Riley – Jesuit HS; Tulane (1978-1981

Bubby Riley Outfielder, Jesuit HS; Delgado CC (2012-2013); 40th round draft pick of Cubs (2013), did not sign; North Carolina State (2014-2015)

Mike Romano – Pitcher, Chalmette HS; Tulane (1991-1993); 3rd round draft pick of Blue Jays (1993); Minors (1993-2004); Majors (1999); Played in Japan, Korea, and Mexico

Michael Romano – Pitcher, Mandeville HS; Spring Hill College (2017-2022)

Connie Ryan – Infielder, Jesuit HS; LSU (1939); Majors (1942-1954); Major League coach

Connie Ryan Jr. – Infielder, Jesuit HS; Loyola University


Al Ryan – Infielder, De La Salle HS; Univ. South Alabama (1970-1972); 17th round draft pick of Red Sox (1972); Minors (1972-1977)

Louis “Rags” Scheuermann – Infielder, Nicholls HS; Minors (1945); Head coach, Loyola University (1958-1971); Head coach, Delgado CC (1972-1990); Director, NORD AAABA program; Head coach, AAABA Boosters

Joe ScheuermannRedemptorist HS; Tulane (1983-1984); Head coach and AD, Delgado CC (1990-present); Head coach, NORD AAABA Boosters

Larry Schneider Sr. – Infielder, Jesuit HS; Tulane (1965-1967); High school coach

Larry Schneider Jr. – Catcher, Rummel HS; Tulane (1991-1994); 9th round draft pick of Indians (1992), did not sign

Tom SchwanerInfielder, St. Aloysius; Loyola University (1958-1959); Minors (1959-1962); High school coach; Head coach, UNO (1986-1999)

Jeff Schwaner – Infielder, Brother Martin; Louisiana Tech (1984-1988); High school coach

Jeff Schwaner (see above)

Tyler Schwaner – Pitcher, Northlake Christian HS; UNO (2014); Jones County Miss CC (2015); UL Monroe (2016-2017)

Scott Schwaner – Outfielder, Slidell HS, UNO (1982-1985)

Nick Schwaner – Infielder/Outfielder, Slidell HS; UNO (2007-2010); 42nd round draft pick of Giants (2009), did not sign; 30th round draft pick of Rays (2010); Minors (2010-2014)


Taylor Schwaner – Infielder, Holy Cross HS; Southeastern Louisiana (2015-2018)

Brian ShearmanPitcher, Jesuit HS; Tulane (1981-1984)

Brandon Shearman - Pitcher, Jesuit HS; Delgado CC (2012-2013)

Larry Scott – De La Salle HS; NORD coach and supervisor

Ryan Scott – Outfielder, Rummel HS; Tulane (2007); Delgado CC (2008-2009); Loyola University (2010-2011)

Armand Sinibaldi – Pitcher, Holy Cross HS; UNO (1982-1983)

Justin Sinibaldi – Pitcher, Rummel HS; Nicholls State (2013-2016)

David Smith – Shaw HS; Delgado CC; Tulane (1986-1987)

David Smith – Pitcher, Brother Martin HS; Southeastern Louisiana (2008)

Irving St. Pe Sr. – Pitcher, Minors (1951-1956)

Irving St. Pe Jr. – Pitcher, Riverdale HS; Minors (1989-1990)

Ray Staub Sr. – Catcher, St. Aloysius HS, Minors (1937-1938); High school coach

Daniel “Rusty” StaubOutfielder/First Baseman, Jesuit High School, Majors (1963-1985)


Raymond “Chuck” Staub Jr. – Outfielder, Jesuit HS; Minors (1962-1962)

David Theriot Sr. – Pitcher, Chalmette HS; UNO (1982-1986)

David Theriot Jr. – Pitcher, Mandeville HS; Delgado CC (2019-2021); Texas Weslyan (2022)

Christopher Turpin – Catcher, Holy Cross HS; Tulane (1987-1988)

Chris Turpin – Pitcher, Holy Cross HS; Delgado CC (2017-2018); UNO (2019-2021)

Kennneth Vial – Hahnville HS; UL Monroe (1978-80)

Jared Vial – Hahnville HS; LSU Shreveport (2012-2016)


Brooks Vial – Hahnville HS; Delgado CC (2014-2015); Virginia Commonwealth (2016-2017)

Paul Waguespack – St. Charles Catholic HS; Delgado CC; Coached at St. Charles Catholic

Chris Waguespack – Catcher/First Baseman, St. Charles Catholic HS; Delgado (2008-2009); Louisiana Christian University (2010-2011)

David Ward – Infielder, Brother Martin HS; UNO (1984-1987); Minors (1987)

Austin Ward – Outfielder, Northlake Christian HS; Louisiana Tech (2014)

Frankie Watts – Shaw HS, Delgado CC; Southern University

Frankie Watts Jr. – Outfielder, Ehret HS; Delgado CC (2014)

David Welch – Pitcher, Holy Cross HS; Delgado (1989-1990); Tulane (1991-1992); 28th round draft pick of Indians (1992); Minors (1992-1995)

Chandler Welch – Pitcher, Holy Cross HS, Tulane (2022)

Chris Westcott – Pitcher, Delgado CC (1991-1992); 13th round draft pick of Indians (1992, did not sign; UNO (1994); 21st round draft pick of Red Sox (1994); Minors (1994, 1999)

Christian WestcottInfielder/Pitcher, Lakeshore HS; Southeastern Louisiana (2021-2022); Delgado CC (2023)



Robert Whitman Sr. – Metairie HS; Tulane (1948-1950); Head Coach, Tulane (1959)

Robert Whitman Jr. – Rummel HS, Tulane (1970-1973)

Robert Whitman Jr. (see above)

Robert Whitman III – Infielder, Rummel HS, Tulane (2004-2008)

Lou Wineski Jr. – Holy Cross HS; Loyola University

Lou Wineski III – Infielder, Holy Cross; Nicholls State (1978-1982); High school coach


Ray Wineski – Infielder Holy Cross HS, Tulane (1988-1989); High school coach


Bobby Wineski – Holy Cross HS

Lou Wineski III (see above)

Ben Wineski – Holy Cross HS


Paul Wineski – Holy Cross HS; Delgado CC (2004-2005); Nicholls State (2006-2007); High school coach

Bobby Wineski (see above)

Robert Wineski – Infielder/Pitcher, Harvard University (2010-2013)


Daniel Wineski – Pitcher, Miss. Gulf Coach CC (2011-2012); Southern Miss. (2013-2014)

Ray Wineski (see above)

Peyton Wineski – Infielder, Fontainebleau HS; Bishop State (AL) CC (2016-2017)

William Young Sr. – Redemptorist HS; Delgado CC; UNO (1975-1978)

William Young Jr. – Crecent City Christian HS; Delgado CC (2005-2006)

Joe Zimmerman – Pitcher, Shaw HS; LSU (1985-1987)

Ryan Zimmerman – Outfielder, Fontainebleau HS; Northwestern State University (2020-present)

Paul Zimmerman – Jesuit HS; UNO (1971-1972)

Joe Zimmerman – Pitcher, De La Salle HS; UNO (2009-2010); Louisiana Lafayette (2011-2012)


The above list is by no means exhaustive of all the baseball father-son combinations from the New Orleans area. Readers can send updates to Richard Cuicchi at He maintains a database of high school ballplayers from the New Orleans area who also played at the college and professional levels. Click here to view a current list of over 2,000 players sorted alphabetically and click here to retrieve the player list sorted by high school.

Grae Kessinger's promotion to the Astros adds to the family's baseball legacy

The name Kessinger holds a lot of significance for baseball fans of Mississippi and especially those from Ole Miss. When Grae Kessinger was called up by the Houston Astros last week, it reminded those fans of two other generations of Kessingers who came through Ole Miss and played in the majors.

Don Kessinger was an all-American shortstop at Ole Miss in the early ‘1960s. He went on to have a 16-year major league career (1964-1979), including six seasons as an All-Star shortstop with the Chicago Cubs.

Kessinger’s two sons, Keith and Kevin, followed in his footsteps at the Ole Miss baseball program. In fact, the father served as head coach of his sons’ Rebels teams, after he had been retired.

Keith was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 1989 and ended up playing 11 major-league games with the Cincinnati Reds in 1993.

Kevin was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1992 and played only two games in the minors before having to retire due to a back injury.

Grae, who is Kevin's son, continued the Ole Miss tradition as a three-year letterman at shortstop. During his junior season, Grae was a first-team All-SEC selection after batting .330 with seven homers, 50 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases. His performance earned him a second-round pick of the Astros in the 2019 MLB Draft.

Grae is having the best season of his brief professional career in 2023. He is being called up because of a short-term injury to Jose Altuve. With the Astros’ young shortstop Jeremy Pena, last season’s MVP in the ALCS and World Series, already entrenched at shortstop, it’s not likely Grae will stick with the big-league Astros, unless further injuries occur.

The Kessingers are the latest family to have three generations play in the majors.

Similar to the Kessingers, the Schofield/Werth family had three generations, which was comprised of Jayson Werth (2002-2017), his grandfather John Richard (Ducky) Schofield (1953-1971), and his uncle Richard Craig (Dick) Schofield (1983-1996). Werth’s mother is the daughter of Ducky Schofield. His stepfather is former major-leaguer Dennis Werth (1979-1982).

However, the Bells (Gus, Buddy, and brothers David and Mike, during 1950 to 2006)), the Boones (Ray, Bob, and brothers Aaron and Bret, during 1948 to 2009), the Hairstons (Sam, brothers Johnny and Jerry, and brothers Jerry Jr. and Scott, during 1951 to 2014), and the Colemans (Joe Sr., Joe Jr. and Casey, during 1942 to 2014) are the only major-league families with a grandfather, son, and grandson as the three generations.

The Cruz family, with Jose Cruz and his son Jose Cruz Jr. having previously played in the majors, has a chance for a third generation. Tre Cruz (son of Jose Cruz Jr.), currently in the Detroit Tigers organization at the Double-A level, gives them a chance to become only the fifth family combo with three generations.

There has never been a four-generation family in the majors. The Boones had a chance for a fourth in the majors, when Bret’s son, Jake, played in the Washington Nationals minor-league organization in 2021, but the 24-year-old is now playing in an independent league.

What's up with the Astros?

What’s up with the Astros’ offense? Perhaps it’s more relevant to ask, “What’s down with the Astros?” The answer’s pretty clear—their offense this year has been struggling.

If it weren’t for the Houston Astros’ pitching, the team might well be “singing the blues” this year, after winning the World Series last season.

For the first time in a long time, the Astros are below average offensively, as measured by OPS+. In 58 games played through Saturday, they were tied for eighth in the AL in runs scored (266), nearly 100 runs behind division rival Texas Rangers. That’s over 1 ½ runs scored per game less than the Rangers.

As a team, their slash line is .248/.319/.398, certainly not in keeping with a world championship team.

For a team that usually is at the top of the league in home runs, the team has hit 62 home runs this season, seventh from the bottom of the league. The Tampa Bay Rays lead the league with 103 (which is actually unusual for them).

With roughly one-third of the season completed, the Astros project to hit 173 for the season if they maintain their current pace. That’s 41 fewer home runs than in 2022.

Designated hitter Yordan Alvarez is carrying the team offensively at the moment, as he is the only Astros player with double-digit home runs (15) so far. He also leads the team with 51 RBIs.

So, where are the Astros underperforming?

To begin with, the Astros’ big acquisition over the winter, Jose Abreu, looks like he’s turning out to be a bust. While he averaged 27 home runs per season with the White Sox over nine seasons, he hit his first homer of the season last week. His slugging percentage is a pathetic .264.

The Astros’ four outfielders have only 21 home runs between them. Kyle Tucker is usually more productive; but he has only seven so far, when he’s averaged 30 during his first two full seasons. But then the others--Corey Julks, Jake Myers, and Chas McCormick--have never known for their slugging.

Jose Altuve didn’t begin his season until May 19, because he broke a finger during the World Baseball Classic games in March. His replacement, Mauricio Dubon, has performed admirably as his backfill at second base, leading the team in batting average (.295). But Dubon has provided virtually no help in the slugging category. He has only one homer. Based on past history, Altuve would have hit 9 or 10 homers by now had he been playing full-time since the start of the season. It’s no coincidence that the Astros are 9-2 with Altuve in the lineup.

The players from the Astros bench haven’t been much help. They are no strangers to the “Mendoza Line.” There are no Bronx Bomber-types in that group.

Besides Alvarez, only Alex Bregman and Jeremy Pena are on pace with last year from a slugging standpoint.

With an offense that has been anemic, how can the Astros still have the fourth-best record in the American League and trail the Texas Rangers by only 2 ½ games in the AL West? Aside from Alvarez, it’s been all about their pitching.

While losing two of their starters in the rotation (Jose Urquidy and Luis Garcia), Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier have been phenomenal. Newcomers in the rotation, Hunter Brown, Brandon Bielak, and J.P. France, have picked up the slack. The bullpen has been productive, behind Ryan Pressly, Phil Maton, Bryan Abreu, Hector Neris, and Ryne Stanek. The relief staff is fourth in the league in Wins Above Average.

Overall, the Astros lead the American League in ERA (3.24), Runs Allowed per Game (3.57), Strikeouts per 9 Innings (9.9), and ERA+ (131).

If the Astros’ offense fully kicks in, they could overtake a Rangers team that has been overperforming. In any case, they will give the Rangers a run for the money for the balance of the season, and I fully expect to see the Astros in the post-season.

Hometown Heroes: Southeast Louisiana products in MLB, MiLB (Through May 31, 2023)

Here’s an update 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 Wednesday May 31. Below are some of May’s highlights.

Blue Jays right-hander Kevin Gausman (LSU) is second in the National League with 89 strikeouts.

Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jake Fraley (LSU) leads the Cincinnati Reds with 35 RBIs.

Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola (LSU) continues to be the workhorse of the Phillies staff, He leads the National League with 12 starts and 74.2 innings pitched.

Cincinnati’s Ian Gibaut (Tulane) leads the Reds with 5 wins, all of them coming in relief appearances.

Alex Lange (LSU) has become the go-to guy as Detroit’s closer. He is 3-0 with 10 saves and sports a 1.16 ERA.

J.P. France (Archbishop Shaw, Tulane, Miss. State) made his major-league debut with the Houston Astros on May 6. He pitched five scoreless innings and struck out 5.

Andrew Stevenson (LSU) is in seventh place in the International League with 18 stolen bases. He plays for Triple-A St. Paul in the Twins organization.

Former Brother Martin and Tulane pitcher Keagan Gillies is 3-0 with a 0.71 ERA for High-A Aberdeen.

Mike Papierski (LSU) had a fantastic May with Triple-A Toledo, batting .339 with 3 homers and 11 RBIs.



Alex Bregman—Astros (LSU) 55 G, .245 BA, .373 OBP, 7 HR, 29 RBI, 1 SB

Jake FraleyReds (LSU) 49 G, .248 BA, .337 OBP, 5 HR, 35 RBI, 7 SB

J.P. France—Astros (Shaw HS, Tulane, Miss. State) MLB: 5 G, 1-1, 4.00 ERA, 27.0 IP, 26 SO; MiLB: 5 G, 2-1 ERA, 19.1 IP, 26 SO

Kevin Gausman—Blue Jays (LSU) 11 G, 3-3, 3.03 ERA, 68.1 IP, 89 SO

Ian Gibaut—Reds (Tulane) 25 G, 5-1, 3.55 ERA, 25.1 IP, 22 SO, 1 SV

Alex Lange—Tigers (LSU) 23 G, 3-0, 1.16 ERA, 23.1 IP, 32 SO, 10 SV

Aaron Loup—Angels (Hahnville HS, Tulane) 15 G, 0-2, 6.57 ERA, 12.1 IP, 10 SO, 0 SV

DJ LeMahieu—Yankees (LSU) 51 G, .243 BA, .308 OBP, 6 HR, 21 RBI

Wade Miley—Brewers (Loranger HS, Southeastern) 8 G, 3-2, 3.67 ERA, 41.2 IP, 24 SO

Aaron Nola—Phillies (Catholic HS, LSU) 12 G, 4-4, 4.70 ERA, 74.2 IP, 65 SO

Austin Nola—Padres (Catholic HS, LSU) 40 G, .130 BA, .250 OBP, 1HR, 7 RBI

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

Jake Rogers—Tigers (Tulane) 36 G, .156 BA, .255 OBP, 6 HR, 16 RBI

Josh Smith—Rangers (Catholic HS, LSU) 38 G, .211 BA, .360 OBP, 3HR, 5 RBI



Drew Avans–-Dodgers (Southeastern) 48 G, .229 BA, .366 OBP, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 7 SB

Hunter Feduccia—Dodgers (LSU) 33 G, .272 BA, .391 OBP, 5 HR, 30 RBI

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

Eric Orze—Mets (UNO) 14 G, 1-2, 7.71 ERA, 23.1 IP, 27 SO, 0 SV

Michael Papierski—Tigers (LSU) 26 G, .294 BA, .396 OBP, 3 HR, 12 RBI

Kramer Robertson—Mets (LSU) 49 G, .178 BA, .326 OBP, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 7 SB

Cam Sanders – Cubs (E. D. White HS, LSU) 17 G, 2-0, 4.29 ERA, 21.0 IP, 33 SO, 1 SV

Andrew Stevenson—Twins (St. Thomas More HS, LSU) 43 G, .279 BA, .356 OBP, 3HR,18 RBI, 18 SB

Grant Witherspoon – Tigers (Tulane) 44 G, .255 BA, .356 OBP, 7 HR, 24 RBI, 6 SB



Donovan Benoit–-Reds (Tulane) 12 G, 0-3, 2.45 ERA, 18.1 IP, 24 SO, 2 SV

Jared Biddy–-Rockies (Southeastern) 5 G, 0-0, 19.64 ERA, 7.1 IP, 4 SO, 0 SV

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

Daniel Cabrera—Tigers (John Curtis HS, Delgado, LSU) 28 G, .220 BA, .353 OBP, 0 HR, 16 RBI, 3 SB

Brendan Cellucci—Red Sox (Tulane) 11 G, 0-0, 7.88 ERA, 16.0 IP, 15 SO, 0 SV

Greg Deichmann—A’s (Brother Martin HS, LSU) 32 G, .208 BA, .321 OBP, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 6 SB

Hudson Haskin—Orioles (Tulane) 20 G, .354 BA, .488 OBP, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 7 SB

Kody Hoese—Dodgers (Tulane) 22 G, .192 BA, .232 OBP, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 1 SB

Mac Sceroler—Reds (Denham Springs HS, Southeastern) 5 G, 1-0, 7.00 ERA, 9.0 IP, 14 SO, 1 SV (On 7-Day Injured List)

Chase Solesky—White Sox (Tulane) 7 G, 3-0, 2.79 ERA, 29.0 IP, 20 SO, 0 SV

Bryce Tassin—Tigers (Southeastern) 2 G, 0-1, 4.50 ERA, 2.0 IP, 2 SO, 0 SV

Zach Watson—Orioles (LSU) 29 G, .236 BA, .281 OBP, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 4 SB



Jacob Berry – Marlins (LSU) 36 G, .161 BA, .171 OBP, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 2 SB

Cade Doughty – Blue Jays (LSU) 36 G, .230 BA, .329 OBP, 5 HR, 24 RBI, 0 SB

Paul Gervase – Mets (LSU) 12 G, 0-2, 0.93 ERA, 19.1 IP, 28 SO

Keagan Gillies—Orioles (Brother Martin, Tulane) 11 G, 3-0, 0.71 ERA, 12.2 IP, 21 SO, 2 SV

Cole Henry–-Nationals (LSU) 3 G, 0-1, 0.82 ERA, 11.0 IP, 14 SO, 0 SV

Zack Hess—Tigers (LSU) 5 G, 1-0, 9.00 ERA, 6.0 IP, 8 SO, 0 SV (On 7-Day Injured List)

Aaron McKeithan–-Cardinals (Tulane) 36 G, .237 BA, .359 OBP, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 1 SB

Braden Olthoff—Angels (Tulane) On 60-Day Injured List

Todd Peterson—Nationals (LSU) 14 G, 1-2, 5.31 ERA, 20.1 IP, 17 SO, 1 SV



Jack Aldrich—Cubs (Tulane) 6 G, 2-0, 5.68 ERA, 6.1 IP, 9 SO, 1 SV (On 7-Day Injured List)

Tyree Thompson--Braves (Karr HS) 8 G, 0-0, 2.63 ERA, 13.2 IP, 13 SO, 0 SV


Japanese League

Kyle Keller–-Hanshin (Jesuit, Southeastern) 11 G, 1-0, 2.53 ERA, 10.2 IP, 12 SO, 0 SV

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.