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One of Ardizoia's old gloves.


He was one of the Yankees’

top pitching prospects in the early 1940s.



Jason Henry for The New York Times


Rinaldo Ardizoia, the Oldest Living Yankee, Reflects on His Career

By LOUIE LAZAR        NYT        APRIL 27, 2015



















Rinaldo Ardizoia,

who pitched just two innings against the St. Louis Browns in 1947,

in the house he has owned since the 1940s.



Jason Henry for The New York Times


Rinaldo Ardizoia, the Oldest Living Yankee, Reflects on His Career

By LOUIE LAZAR        NYT        APRIL 27, 2015































































































































Mo'ne Davis:

How the Little League Baseball Sensation Pitches

NYT    21 August 2014





Mo'ne Davis:

How the Little League Baseball Sensation Pitches

Video        The New York Times        21 August 2014


The 13-year-old pitching phenomenon Mo’ne Davis

has captured the nation’s attention with her strong performance

in the 2014 Little League World Series.


Produced by: Christian Roman and Adam Freelander

Watch more videos at: http://nytimes.com/video





















Roger Clemens


Clemens pitching in 1995.

He left Boston after the 1996 season

as the team’s career leader in victories with 192.


photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters


Clemens Returns, and So Does Hope for Yankees

By TYLER KEPNER        NYT        May 7, 2007















































































































Major League Baseball    MLB





























baseball’s Negro leagues










Negro American League










The Negor League










The Black Barons










Negro World Series










baseball scout




















baseball > black players






















Anthony Keith Gwynn    USA    1960-2014


Tony Gwynn (...) won a record eight

National League batting championships,

amassed 3,141 hits

and gained acclaim as one of baseball’s

most passionate students of the art of hitting













Earl Sidney Weaver    USA    1930-2013


Hall of Fame manager

who brought pugnacity and pragmatism

to the Baltimore Orioles dugout,

leading the team to five 100-win seasons,

four American League pennants

and the 1970 World Series championship,

and tormenting a generation of umpires

along the way










Stanley Frank Musial    USA    1920-2013


one of baseball’s greatest hitters

and a revered figure

in the storied history

of the St. Louis Cardinals

— the player they called

Stan the Man —












Marvin Julian Miller    USA    1917-2012


economist and labor leader

who became

one of the most important figures

in baseball history

by building the major league players union

into a force that revolutionized the game

and ultimately transformed

all of professional sports












William Joseph Skowron    USA    1930-2012


slugging first baseman who played

on seven pennant-winning teams

with the Yankees in the 1950s

and early ’60s










George Lee Anderson    USA    1934-2010


He managed Cincinnati’s

powerful Big Red Machine

to baseball dominance in the 1970s

and became the first manager

to win World Series championships

in both the National and American Leagues









head / run to first base








at first base


















third baseman



































broken bat





























Edwin Donald Snider        USA        1926-2011


Hall of Fame center fielder

renowned for his home run drives

and superb defensive play

in the Brooklyn Dodgers’ glory years






























outfielder > putouts






left fielder







center fielder






field the ball


















by Charles Schulz


March 08, 2014






























Mariano Rivera Cutter:

The Mechanics of His Signature Pitch

NYT    9 July 2010




Mariano Rivera Cutter:

The Mechanics of His Signature Pitch

Video    The New York Times    9 July 2010

The closer Mariano Rivera has confounded hitters

with mostly one pitch: his signature cutter.









































Donald Howard Sutton        USA        1945-2021


durable right-handed pitcher

who won 324 games over 23 years for five teams,

most notably the Los Angeles Dodgers,

and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame

in 1998




Sutton’s major league career

began with the Dodgers in 1966.


He went on to win 233 games

during 16 seasons with the team,

the most in franchise history.















Robert William Feller        USA        1918-2010


Bob Feller came off an Iowa farm

with a dazzling fastball

that made him a national celebrity at 17

and propelled him to the Hall of Fame

as one of baseball’s greatest pitchers


















































Mariano Rivera


is an all-star relief pitcher

for the New York Yankees

and the leader

in major league career saves.


He broke Trevor Hoffman’s

record of 601 in September 2011,

a fitting honor

for the man widely considered

the greatest relief pitcher ever.

Updated: May 4, 2012

































Yogi Berra at Yankee Stadium in 1956.

He died on Tuesday at the age of 90.



Sam Falk/The New York Times


Yogi Berra, Master Yankee Catcher With Goofy Wit, Dies at 90

By BRUCE WEBER        NYT        SEPT. 23, 2015



























Yogi Berra / Lawrence Peter Berra        1925-2015
































Aaron watched the flight of the ball on his 715th home run.


He broke a record that had stood

since Ruth hit his last major league home run in 1935.


Photograph: Harry Harris/Associated Press


Hank Aaron, Home Run King Who Defied Racism, Dies at 86

He held the most celebrated record in sports for more than 30 years.

Jan. 22, 2021























































Henry Louis Aaron / Hank Aaron    1934-2021        USA


Hank Aaron (...) faced down racism

as he eclipsed Babe Ruth

as baseball’s home run king,

hitting 755 homers

and holding the most celebrated

record in sports

for more than 30 years




Playing for 23 seasons,

all but his final two years

with the Braves in Milwaukee

and then Atlanta,


Aaron was among

the greatest all-around players

in baseball history

and one of the last major league stars

to have played in the Negro leagues.


But his pursuit of Ruth’s

record of 714 home runs

proved a deeply troubling affair

beyond the pressures of the ball field.


When he hit his 715th home run,

on the evening of April 8, 1974,

against the Los Angeles Dodgers

at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium,

he prevailed in the face of hate mail

and even death threats spewing outrage

that a Black man could supplant

a white baseball icon.


Aaron was routinely brilliant,

performing with seemingly effortless grace,

but he had little flash,

notwithstanding his nickname in the sports pages,

Hammerin’ Hank.


He long felt that he had not been accorded

the recognition he deserved.


















home run explained










home run
















hit a two-run home run


















hit ... homers




















hit the first pitch
























George Charles Scott Jr.        USA        1944-2013


(his) slugging and sharp

fielding at first base

helped propel the Boston Red Sox

to their 1967 “Impossible Dream”

American League pennant


















Tony Gwynn

















in the first inning





in the fourth inning





in the seventh inning





in the ninth inning















World Series






World Series        2015






World Series        2010






World Series        2009






World Series        2008






World Series






in the stands

















baseball > racism

















The Altanta Braves










The Kansas City Royals










San Francisco Giants

















Rangers (Texas)        UK










Pittsburgh Pirates

























Brooklyn Dodgers















Los Angeles Dodgers













New York Mets










Boston Red Sox















St. Louis Cardinals / Cardinals















Minnesota Twins














Detroit Tigers













Cincinnati Reds











































Chicago Cubs





















Chicago White Sox

























Cleveland Indians


















Philadelphia Phillies










Washington Nationals










Los Angeles Angels










San Diego Padres










All-Star game        2008




















the iconic Cracker Jack brand












New York Yankees
















Yankee Stadium























George Michael Steinbrenner III    1930-2010

principal owner of the Yankees














Robert Leo Sheppard    1910-2010


Bob Sheppard

became the announcer

for the New York Yankees in 1951,

and became as much a part

of the Yankee Stadium experience

as the Number 4 train

rattling past the right field bleachers.


For more than half a century,

his precise, resonant,

even Olympian elocution

— he was sometimes called the Voice of God —

greeted Yankees fans with the words,

"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,

and welcome to Yankee Stadium."












Harry Hunter Wendelstedt Jr.    1938-2012


Harry Wendelstedt


was an umpire in five World Series

during a 33-year major league career

and who taught hundreds

of aspiring professional umpires

at his Florida school

























Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson    1919-1972
























Corpus of news articles


Sports > Baseball




Marvin Miller,

Union Leader Who Changed Baseball,

Dies at 95


November 27, 2012

The New York Times



Marvin Miller, an economist and labor leader who became one of the most important figures in baseball history by building the major league players union into a force that revolutionized the game and ultimately transformed all of professional sports, died on Tuesday at his home in Manhattan. He was 95.

His death was announced by the Major League Baseball Players Association. He had liver cancer, his daughter, Susan Miller, said.

When Mr. Miller was named the executive director of the association in 1966, club owners ruled much as they had since the 19th century. The reserve clause bound players to their teams for as long as the owners wanted them, leaving them with little bargaining power. Come contract time, a player could expect an ultimatum but not much more. The minimum salary was $6,000 and had barely budged for two decades. The average salary was $19,000. The pension plan was feeble, and player grievances could be heard only by the commissioner, who worked for the owners.

By the time Mr. Miller retired at the end of 1982, he had secured his place on baseball’s Mount Rushmore by forging one of the strongest unions in America, creating a model for those in basketball, football and hockey.

Never had the dugout been so business-minded. The average player salary had reached $241,000, the pension plan had become generous, and players had won free agency and were hiring agents to issue their own demands. If they had a grievance, they could turn to an arbitrator.Peter Seitz, the arbitrator who invalidated the reserve clause and created free agency in 1975, called Mr. Miller “the Moses who had led Baseball’s children of Israel out of the land of bondage.”

But not only them. If Mr. Miller had one overarching achievement, it was to persuade professional athletes to cast aside the paternalism of the owners and to emerge as economic forces in their own right, often armed with immense bargaining power. The changes he wrought in baseball rippled through all of pro sports, and it could be said that he, more than anyone else, was responsible for the professional athlete of today, a kind of pop culture star able to command astronomical salaries and move from one team to another.

Still, though his contributions to baseball were compared to those of Babe Ruth, who made the home run an essential part of the game, and Branch Rickey, who broke the major leagues’ color barrier when he signed Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers, Mr. Miller has not been recognized by the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“There’s been a concerted attempt to downplay the union,” Mr. Miller told The New York Times, referring to the Hall, when he narrowly missed out on election in December 2010, the fifth time he had been on the ballot. “It’s been about trying to rewrite history rather than record it. They decided a long time ago that they would downgrade any impact the union has had. And part of that plan was to keep me out of it.”


A Series of Showdowns

Mr. Miller, an economist by training, had bargained on behalf of the steelworkers’ union but lacked the charisma of fiery old-style labor leaders like the mineworkers’ John L. Lewis or the New York City transport workers’ Mike Quill. A silver-haired man with a mustache he had cultivated since he was 17, he was typically described as calm, patient, even-keeled. Nonetheless, he got results.

“Miller’s goal was to get his ballplayers to think like steelworkers — to persuade members of the professional class to learn from members of the working class,” Malcolm Gladwell wrote in The New Yorker in 2010.

Everett M. Ehrlich, a business economist and an under secretary of commerce in the Clinton administration, said that Mr. Miller’s victories owed much to the changing structure of the game, particularly baseball’s expansion to the West Coast and the South, which led to greater television and attendance revenue. The new money allowed many ball clubs to spend heavily on players no longer tied to their teams.

“Luck is the residue of opportunity and design,” Mr. Ehrlich wrote on his blog in 2010, quoting Rickey. “Free agency,” he added, “was an important accomplishment, and it made baseball better, but it also happened at a propitious moment. It takes nothing away from Miller to note that.”

Though Mr. Miller never convinced the owners that they could prosper from an upheaval of baseball’s economic order — they would discover that eventually — he outmaneuvered them at every turn. “I loved baseball and I loved a good fight, and in my mind, ballplayers were among the most exploited workers in America,” Mr. Miller wrote in his memoir, “A Whole Different Ball Game” (1991), recalling his decision to take charge of the players association when it was in effect a company union.

He had his share of fights. The players went on strike for 13 days in 1972 (part of the exhibition season and nine regular-season days); they were locked out of spring training for almost a month in 1976; they struck for the final eight days of the 1980 exhibition season; and staged a 50-day strike that began in the middle of the 1981 regular season.

Mr. Miller was portrayed by many on the management side as a harbinger of economic ruin.

“There was about Miller a wariness one would find in an abused animal,” Bowie Kuhn, the baseball commissioner during most of Mr. Miller’s tenure, wrote in his memoir, “Hardball” (1987). “It precluded trust or affection.”

But Mr. Miller did win the trust of the ballplayers.

“I don’t know of anyone who changed the game more than Marvin Miller,” said Robin Roberts, a Hall of Fame pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, who played a key role in the hiring of Mr. Miller by the players’ union. “His legacy is that through his work, ballplayers for the first time attained dignity from owners.”

Marvin Julian Miller was born in the Bronx on April 14, 1917, and grew up in Flatbush rooting for the Brooklyn Dodgers. His father, Alexander, was a salesman for a clothing company on the Lower East Side in Manhattan, and as a youngster Marvin walked a picket line in a union organizing drive. His mother, Gertrude Wald Miller, who taught elementary school, was a member of the New York City teachers union.

Mr. Miller graduated from New York University in 1938 with a degree in economics. He resolved labor-management disputes for the National War Labor Board in World War II and later worked for the International Association of Machinists and the United Auto Workers. He joined the staff of the United Steelworkers Union in 1950, became its principal economic adviser and assistant to its president, and took part in negotiating contracts.

Late in 1965, there were stirrings within the major league ballplayers’ ranks about the need for improvements in a pension plan implemented by management in 1947. The players had a union of sorts, but their association, established in 1954, had no full-time employees, did not engage in collective bargaining, had never challenged the reserve clause and had $5,400 in the bank.

The baseball stars Jim Bunning (later a United States senator from Kentucky), Harvey Kuenn and Mr. Roberts sought a professional bargainer who would get ballplayers better pensions. Mr. Miller was recommended to them by George Taylor, who ran the War Labor Board when Mr. Miller worked for it.

Mr. Miller was uncertain about entering the professional sports world, and many players were hesitant about creating a formal union. Most were relatively uneducated, had little experience with unions and had been told by the owners for years that they should be grateful to be paid for playing a boys’ game.

In the spring of 1966, when Mr. Miller toured the training camps in Arizona and Florida to speak with the players before they voted on whether to hire him as executive director, he was often met with suspicion.

Before Mr. Miller’s first meeting with the team, “we were all expecting to see someone with a cigar out of the corner of his mouth, a real knuckle-dragging ‘deze and doze’ guy,” Jim Bouton, the former Yankees pitcher, was quoted saying by John Helyar in the book “The Lords of the Realm: The Real History of Baseball” (1995). But the players were surprised, he said, when “in walks this quiet, mild, exceedingly understated man.”

Working with his newly hired general counsel, Richard M. Moss, Mr. Miller educated the players to trade-union thinking. In 1968, the union negotiated the first collective bargaining agreement in pro sports. In 1970, players gained the right to have grievances heard by an impartial arbitrator. In 1973, they achieved a limited right to have salary demands subjected to arbitration.

On April 1, 1972, just as spring training camps neared their close, the players staged the first major strike in North American sports history in a dispute over the level of owner contributions to their pension plan.

Mr. Miller wrote in his memoir that when the strike was announced, Paul Richards, a longtime baseball man who was an executive with the Atlanta Braves at the time, remarked that “Tojo and Hirohito couldn’t stop baseball, but Marvin Miller could.”

The strike caused the cancellation of 86 regular-season games before a compromise was reached.

Later in 1972, the outfielder Curt Flood, having refused to accept a trade from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies, was rebuffed by the Supreme Court when he challenged the reserve clause.

But in December 1975, Mr. Seitz, the baseball arbitrator, ruling in a case brought by the pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally and argued by the union, invalidated the reserve clause in the standard player contract. Mr. Seitz found that this clause, allowing all contracts to be extended for one year at management’s option upon their expiration, did not mean that contracts could be extended in perpetuity. Once a player refused to re-sign after the expiration of that one-year extension, Mr. Seitz ruled, he could sell his pitching prowess or hitting skills to the highest bidder.

The owners immediately fired Mr. Seitz, mounted a futile court challenge to his ruling and, in late February 1976, expressed their rage by putting off the opening of spring training camps. Mr. Kuhn, the commissioner, ordered the camps opened in mid-March.

In July 1976, the union and management agreed on limitations to free agency: a player would need six years of major league service before he could seek a deal with another club. That accord seemed like a concession Mr. Miller did not need to make. But he concluded that limiting the stream of free agents would fuel the ball clubs’ bidding wars.

He was proved correct. In 1976, the average annual player salary was $51,000. Soon the checkbooks opened. George Steinbrenner signed two future Hall of Famers for the Yankees: the power-hitting outfielder Reggie Jackson, who received a five-year, $2.9 million contract after the 1976 season, and the relief pitcher Goose Gossage, who got a six-year, $3.6 million deal after the 1977 season.

As salaries soared, revenue flowing to the players’ pension fund swelled, a result of a major increase in network payments to baseball for rights to telecast the World Series, the All-Star Game and the “Game of the Week.” The pension fund received a third of baseball’s receipts from national TV rights, a share that went from $8.3 million a year to $15.5 million a year in a four-year contract agreement reached in May 1980.

The spending sprees eventually encompassed the entire major league landscape. But free agency remained a highly contentious issue. On June 12, 1981, the players began a 50-day strike over the owners’ demands concerning compensation to teams that lost players who became free agents. Management ultimately obtained only minor concessions.

Kenneth Moffett, the federal mediator in the 1981 strike, became the union’s executive director in January 1983, when Mr. Miller retired, but was dismissed after 10 months and ultimately replaced by Donald Fehr, the union’s general counsel since 1977. Mr. Fehr guided the union through a host of battles with management, including a strike that canceled the 1994 World Series. He retired from his post in 2009 and was replaced by Michael Weiner, the union’s general counsel at the time, who remains its chief.

Mr. Fehr is now the executive director of the National Hockey League Players’ Association, which remains locked in a labor dispute with owners that has delayed the opening of the season.


Shut Out of Cooperstown

Mr. Miller’s candidacy for the Baseball Hall of Fame fell short five times in balloting from 2003 to 2010 by committees voting on candidates who had not been elected in the regular balloting by baseball writers. December 2007, when Mr. Miller was turned down for a third time, Mr. Kuhn, the baseball commissioner who had been his longtime adversary and had died the previous March, was elected to the Hall.

The management of the Hall does not vote on candidates for Cooperstown. But the committees that considered Mr. Miller — their numbers ranging from 12 to 84 over the years — have included baseball executives. The breakdown of the voting has not been known; the Hall asks voters not to reveal whom they selected or turned down.

In 2010, Mr. Miller received 11 of the 12 votes required from a 16-member committee, consisting of 8 Hall of Famer players or managers, 4 executives and 4 baseball writers. His candidacy will not be up for a vote again until 2013.

Mr. Miller advised the union as a consultant through his 80s. He spoke out against contractual givebacks and changes in baseball’s economic structure that might weaken the union. While in his 90s, he criticized the union’s acceptance of mandatory drug testing, saying that it could hurt union solidarity and that “it was clear that the government was going to get involved, and when the government gets involved, they will pick out targets, and the media just goes along with it.”

Besides his daughter, he is survived by his son, Peter; a sister, Thelma Berenson; and a grandson. His wife, Terry, died in 2009.

As players grew richer and the baseball figures from his union days faded from the scene, Mr. Miller said he worried that pioneering battles were being forgotten.

“I do feel a little irked and chagrined when I realize that the players have no idea that it was the union that changed everything,” he told The New York Times in 1999. “What’s taken for granted are the salaries, the perks, free-agency rights, salary-arbitration rights, all of which were tremendous struggles.”

Still, Mr. Miller said, the owners tried hard to “turn back the clock” during his tenure — and, he added, “I don’t believe they’ve ever given up.”

But baseball management and labor have been at peace since the 232-day strike that forced cancellation of the 1994 World Series. Today’s ballplayers in the union that Mr. Miller built nearly a half century ago earn an average of more than $3 million a year.

In his mid-90s, Mr. Miller expressed satisfaction over more than the huge salary gains and freedom of movement his members enjoy, and he ultimately came to believe that the players finally appreciated what unionism meant.

“Succeeding generations of players know so much more about trade unionism, solidarity and what it can produce than their predecessors did,” he told Sports Illustrated in 2011. “I’m proudest of the fact that I’ve been retired for almost 29 years at this point, and there are knowledgeable observers who say that this might still be the strongest union in the country. I think that’s a great legacy.”

Marvin Miller, Union Leader Who Changed Baseball, Dies at 95,






On Top at Last


November 1, 2010
The New York Times


ARLINGTON, Tex. — The Giants bolted New York for San Francisco 53 long years ago, back when the Red Sox were cursed, the White Sox were, too, and a Florida Marlin was a fish, not an athlete wearing teal and black. Their fans have shivered through frigid June evenings and wept over October heartbreak, those soul-crushing years of 1962 and 1989 and 2002, watching as seemingly everyone else has sipped celebratory Champagne. Now it is their turn.

What the Say Hey Kid and Will the Thrill and the Bondses could not do, Edgar Renteria and Tim Lincecum could. They made San Francisco cry with joy, now that the city by the Bay’s beloved Giants are champions of baseball. Their coronation came on a crisp Monday night in Texas, where the Giants rode a three-run homer by Renteria and a dominant eight innings from Lincecum to defeat the Rangers, 3-1, before a crowd of 52,045 at Rangers Ballpark. After Brian Wilson fanned Nelson Cruz with a slider, setting off a raucous celebration behind the mound, November will never be the same again.

“It was mass chaos,” Wilson said about what happened after the final pitch. “It was hysteria.”

It was also the Giants’ first title since 1954, when they still played in the Polo Grounds in Harlem.

Since then, Hall of Famers like Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda had starred in San Francisco but failed to win a title there. It took one year for the 23-year-old catcher Buster Posey, who recognized his good fortune.

“It’s humbling; it really is humbling,” Posey said. “These guys are some of the greatest of all time, and the cool thing is that hopefully we can share it with them.”

The old-timers will rejoice, too, delighting in this cadre of marvelous young pitching and how a ragtag offense this postseason toppled Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe — and Cliff Lee twice.

In potentially his farewell appearance in a Texas uniform, Lee, a pending free agent, matched Lincecum in a captivating duel that for six innings evoked the classic Game 7 from 1991 between Jack Morris and John Smoltz. But with two outs in the seventh, Renteria clobbered a 2-0 cutter, watching it carry and carry until it dropped just beyond the left-center-field fence. Players dream of delivering the winning hit in a World Series, and Renteria, adding to his single in Game 7 for the Marlins in 1997, has now done it twice, joining Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra as the only players to do so.

Renteria hit .412 in the Series, with two homers and six runs batted in, and was selected the most valuable player.

Cody Ross, who singled to begin the seventh-inning rally, said: “I looked up and I saw it clear, and I jumped so high in the air, which I would never do in a regular game. I’m sorry if I offended anyone, but I was so happy and so emotional at the time, I couldn’t hold it.”

Ross, acquired late this season on a waiver claim, epitomized the gang of misfits and castoffs skillfully brought in by General Manager Brian Sabean. Andres Torres, added as a minor league free agent last year, hit .318. Aubrey Huff, the Giants’ backup-backup plan at first base, led the team in homers, R.B.I. and levity.

At the victory parade, Huff vowed to wear his infamous red, rhinestone-studded thong. “I better get a spray tan,” he said.

Huff waited 11 seasons for his first trip to the postseason, and as he held back tears in a soggy clubhouse, he said, “I’m going to keep playing, but I could retire right now, honestly.”

Making the first World Series appearance in the franchise’s 50-year history, the Rangers were shut out twice, by Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, and seemingly forgot how to hit. Josh Hamilton, who led baseball with a .359 average, was 2 for 20. Vladimir Guerrero went 1 for 14. The leadoff hitter Elvis Andrus was 3 for 17.

As a team, the Rangers batted .190 in the Series and failed to score for 18 1/3 straight innings before Cruz’s one-out home run in the seventh.

“We made a lot of history,” Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler said. “We set the bar higher. A lot of people know who the Rangers are now. We didn’t have a great showing in the World Series. We didn’t have the showing that we wanted. But throughout the playoffs, we played very good baseball, and we’re proud of that.”

On Monday, they had three hits off Lincecum, who walked 2 and struck out 10. He outdueled Lee in Game 1 but, as he admitted, did not pitch his best, working five and two-thirds innings. Lincecum was so dominant Monday that of his 101 pitches, the Rangers swung and missed 16 times, including 10 times on a slider that might have been the best pitch of the postseason.

“He definitely showed us tonight why he’s a young guy that’s won the Cy Young Award twice,” Rangers left fielder David Murphy said. “He can control it, and he’s got electric stuff.”

For Texas, the most comforting place in Rangers Ballpark was the left hand of Lee, who rescued the team in the division series by pitching it to victory against Tampa Bay in a decisive Game 5. All the problems that marred Lee’s last start — a shaky curveball, an aversion to the corners, a high pitch count — had disappeared, replaced by the familiar qualities that have prompted admirers to believe that when God rested on the seventh day, Cliff Lee was there to fill in.

He breezed through five innings on 63 pitches, allowing only a pair of two-out singles, before temporarily averting damage in the sixth when Cruz hauled in Posey’s deep drive at the right-field fence. In the seventh, Ross and Juan Uribe opened the inning with singles up the middle, and with two outs, up stepped Renteria. What happened next was a gift from the gods, who had tortured Giants fans every autumn since 1954.

Pockets of orange dotted the crowd, which roared behind the visiting dugout for more than an hour afterward.

“They’ve been praying for this day,” Lincecum said. “They came up short back in the early 2000s, and now this is their time. They’re pulling for us. Having that kind of added motivation, knowing that we haven’t done it in a long time, really made us wanted to nail it down here.”

As well as anyone, though, the Giants know that a big lead in the seventh inning in a potential World Series clincher is not safe. Holding a five-run lead and eight outs from a championship in 2002, the Giants gave up six runs to the Angels in Game 6, then lost the next night. J. T. Snow, a first baseman on that team, is now a member of their front office.

“We sure erased a lot of ghosts, right?” a drenched Snow said about an hour after the game. “The people of San Francisco can call themselves winners.”

Yes. Yes, they can. After 56 years, the Giants are winners again. The Giants are champions.

On Top at Last,






For Negro Leagues Players,

a Final Recognition


June 30, 2010

The New York Times



COLUMBIA, Mo. — Only something so heavy could lighten their burden. Three men gripped a 150-pound headstone around the edges, lugged it 40 feet across the grass and lowered it into the dirt.

“Got it?” the anesthesiologist asked, tilting the slab in gently.

“Yeah. Yeah, over here,” the insurance man said.

They rose from their knees, brushed off their hands and stood back from the grave.

“Big Bill Gatewood,” the historian said with a sigh.

For almost 50 years, William M. Gatewood lay in obscurity in an unmarked grave here at Memorial Park Cemetery. But that ended Tuesday, when three baseball fans continued their quest to locate every former Negro leagues player without a headstone and do their share to right the wrong.

Gatewood was a star pitcher and manager in the early Negro leagues who is credited with giving James Bell his nickname, Cool Papa, and teaching Satchel Paige his hesitation pitch. Gatewood died in Columbia in 1962 with no one to arrange for a grave marker.

On Tuesday, he became the 19th player for whom the Negro Leagues Grave Marker Project has provided a headstone. The project volunteers track down unmarked graves, raise money for headstones and install them, often with their own hands.

“These were great ballplayers who don’t deserve to be forgotten, but they have been,” said Dr. Jeremy Krock, a 52-year-old anesthesiologist from Peoria, Ill., who began the effort seven years ago. “A lot of these guys, by the time Jackie Robinson made it, they were way past their prime. It was too late for them. And not having a marker on their grave for people to remember them only made it worse.”

Krock was joined at the gravesite Tuesday by Larry Lester, a Negro leagues historian from Kansas City, Mo., and Dwayne Isgrig, a customer service representative for a St. Louis insurance company. They convened under the beaming sun in central Missouri, drawn to Bill Gatewood’s grave by baseball, Negro leagues history and purposeful regret.

Since 2004, the remains of Highpockets Trent (Burr Oak Cemetery outside Chicago), Steel Arm Taylor (Springdale Cemetery, Peoria), Gable Patterson (Greenwood Cemetery, Pittsburgh) and other baseball pioneers have been tracked down and memorialized by the group.

It raises money for the $700 headstones primarily through members of the Society for American Baseball Research, although after hearing about the effort, some in baseball have quietly written checks, including the Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, the former commissioner Fay Vincent and the former player, manager and coach Don Zimmer.

At the annual symposium of SABR’s Negro Leagues Research Committee on July 15 in Birmingham, Ala., Sap Ivory — a first baseman for the local Black Barons from 1958 to 1960 — will get a headstone above his nearby grave.

The group’s primary targets now include two members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., Pete Hill and Sol White, among about 20 more on its growing list. Hill’s remains have yet to be found, and White is buried in an unmarked group grave at Frederick Douglass Memorial Park on Staten Island.

“We don’t want these men to continue to be unrecognized and invisible,” Lester said beside Gatewood’s new marker. “That’s just not acceptable.”

Ron Hill, Pete Hill’s great-nephew, who has been in touch with Krock’s group to help find his Hall of Fame relative, said in a telephone interview: “You wonder who these people are. But they were very sincere.”

Krock is a St. Louis Cardinals fan who had no particular interest in baseball history before he began the effort essentially by accident. Some older relatives had grown up in Ardmore, Mo., and still talked reverently about a 1930s Negro leagues outfielder from the town, Jimmie Crutchfield. Krock consulted an obituary, wanted to learn where Crutchfield was buried and eventually determined that he lay in an unmarked grave near Chicago.

A conversation with SABR’s Negro Leagues committee led to a mention in the group’s newsletter, and $25 checks from strangers started arriving at Krock’s home.

Krock came across two more players at Burr Oak, got headstones for them, too, and soon was after others. For Negro leagues players who died destitute enough to end up in unmarked graves, only fraying cemetery records can lead Krock to remains, as groundskeepers walk off distances with tape measures to pinpoint where the players might lie.

In the early Negro leagues, Gatewood — a huge man for his era at 6 feet 7 inches and 240 pounds — was the right-handed equivalent of C. C. Sabathia. Gatewood won 117 games for more than a dozen teams from 1906 to 1928 and pitched the first documented no-hitter in the newly organized Negro National League, in 1921. He threw another in 1926, when he was 45. As a manager, he mentored Cool Papa Bell, converting him from pitcher to star outfielder, and coached that quirky right-hander named Satchel.

Many decades later, Krock tracked down Gatewood’s remains at Memorial Park Cemetery just off Interstate 70 — although that was an even harder task than usual, because the original burial records burned in a church fire decades ago and Big Bill’s file read “Gatenwood.” Isgrig was a Gatewood fan because of their mutual ties to Missouri and arranged for the headstone for his forgotten hero.

On Tuesday, Krock spent his day off from the Children’s Hospital of Illinois by driving three hours to St. Louis, transferring the stone from a monument company pickup to his own Honda Pilot in a Denny’s parking lot, and driving another two hours to Columbia to meet Lester and Isgrig at the cemetery.

On mostly open grass made wavy by sunken graves, the three hoisted Gatewood’s stone by hand and placed it in a newly dug rectangle at what had previously been known to groundskeepers as Calvary 5, Row 3, Space 9. Krock wore a white polo shirt and khakis as he delivered prepared remarks; Isgrig and his two young children stood in Kansas City Monarchs shirts.

The gleaming stone read:





1881 1962

Instead of a hyphen between the years, they put a drawing of a baseball inside a glove, symbolizing Gatewood’s passion for the game that they, too, had inherited. None of Gatewood’s family, including four surviving grandchildren to whom Krock wrote letters, attended the ceremony.

“It won’t be a tourist attraction,” Isgrig said, “but it’s something.”

Several cemetery employees stood nearby to pay their respects and listen to stories about a man they had no idea was on their grounds.

The Westwood Memorial sales director, Bill Boos, had known nothing of the big pitcher or Negro leagues baseball. “Hearing everything today,” he said, “it almost feels like Big Bill Gatewood is coming back to life.” He offered Krock help connecting the group with other cemeteries.

As others walked toward the concrete path after the ceremony, Krock stopped, bent down and used his hands to adjust the stone a tick. Just to make sure it’s steady, just to make sure it stays.

For Negro Leagues Players, a Final Recognition, NYT, 30.6.2010,






Yankees 7, Phillies 3

Back on Top, Yankees Add a 27th Title


November 5, 2009
The New York Times


A sliver of time for other teams is an epoch for the Yankees, who define themselves by championships. For eight seasons, they led the majors in victories, payroll and drama. They built a ballpark, created a network and expanded their brand around the globe. But they did not win the World Series.

Now they have done it. There is a 27th jewel in the Yankees’ crown and a peaceful, easy feeling across their empire. The Yankees captured their first title since 2000, humbling the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night, 7-3, in Game 6 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium.

Hideki Matsui homered and drove in six runs to tie a World Series record, and Andy Pettitte ground through five and two-thirds innings for his second victory in five days. Mariano Rivera collected the final five outs, retiring Shane Victorino on a groundout to end it.

It was the eighth anniversary of Rivera’s lowest moment, when he blew Game 7 of the 2001 World Series in Arizona. The Yankees lost the World Series again two years later, to Florida, and they did not return until this season, fortifying their roster with free agents around the core of Rivera, Pettitte, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada.

Pettitte became the second pitcher to win all three clinching games of a postseason. The other was Boston’s Derek Lowe in 2004, when the Yankees lost a three-games-to-none lead to the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series, fumbling away a pennant and plunging into a postseason funk.

Pettitte was gone that autumn, part of a three-year sojourn to his Houston hometown. Otherwise, Pettitte, Rivera, Jeter and Posada have been Yankees since 1995, through dynasty and drought and back to the top. They have each earned five championship rings, one more than Babe Ruth did with the Yankees.

Working on three days’ rest, Pettitte, 37, looked ragged at times with five walks and three strikeouts. But he held up better than the Phillies’ Pedro Martinez, 38, his old Boston adversary, who lasted just four innings.

The two had faced each other six times in the regular season, splitting the decisions, and on Tuesday, Martinez billed the matchup as “two old goats out there doing the best they can and having fun with it.” Only once before had starters at least 37 met in the World Series.

Predictably, Pettitte and Martinez showed guile over power. There were 33 pitches before one registered 90 miles an hour.

The Yankees managed just three hits off Martinez, who issued two walks, both becoming runs. The first was to Alex Rodriguez, on four pitches, leading off the second inning. It stopped Martinez’s momentum after a 1-2-3 first.

Matsui fell behind, 0-2, but drew the count full while flicking two fouls. Martinez also threw to first twice. At worst, Matsui was driving up Martinez’s pitch count, following the plan against a brilliant but fragile pitcher. But he did much more than that.

In Game 2, Matsui broke a 1-1 tie when he pulled a Martinez curveball over the right-field wall in the sixth. This time, he took a fastball that tailed over the middle and slammed it inside the right-field foul pole, just above a billboard for Komatsu, the Japanese construction-equipment company.

Matsui, of course, has done more than raise the Yankees’ profile in Japan. He has been steady and efficient for seven seasons. His ravaged knees have made him a full-time designated hitter and called into doubt his future with the team. But if this was his last game as a Yankee, he made it his best.

Matsui knew glory with the Yomiuri Giants, winning three Japan Series and capturing the Most Valuable Player award against the Daiei Hawks in 2000, when he hit .381 with three homers and eight runs batted in. He has been an elite postseason player for the Yankees, too, and never more than Wednesday.

With one out and the bases loaded in the third, Martinez struck out Rodriguez on a pitch well off the outside corner. The Phillies had a left-hander, J. A. Happ, warming up, but Manager Charlie Manuel stuck with Martinez. Like Grady Little before him, Manuel paid for his faith.

Again, Martinez got ahead of Matsui, 0-2. Catcher Carlos Ruiz bounced from his crouch for a target up and away. Martinez hit the spot, but Matsui hit the pitch, lining it into left field for two runs.

It swelled the Yankees’ lead to 4-1, and it gave Matsui nine hits in 19 postseason at-bats against Martinez. He also smacked a double off him in the eighth inning of Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series, when Little, the Boston manager, refused to call for a reliever.

Martinez lasted four more batters this time, retiring them all. Chad Durbin took over in the fifth, and Jeter, who finished 11 for 27 (.407), greeted him with a double. Mark Teixeira scored Jeter with a single, and after a walk, Happ came in.

Matsui took four pitches from Happ, a rookie, three for balls. Then he ripped a double to deep right, scoring two runs to make it 7-1 and earning a share of a World Series record.

Only one other player has driven in six runs in a World Series game: the Yankees’ Bobby Richardson, in 1960. Richardson was the most valuable player that October, even though the Yankees lost to Pittsburgh. Matsui earned the M.V.P. award this World Series by hitting .615 (8 for 13) with three homers and eight R.B.I.

Chase Utley, the Phillies’ second baseman, tied another Yankee in this World Series with five home runs, matching Reggie Jackson’s record haul in 1977. But Utley was hardly a factor in Game 6, grounding into a double play in the first inning, and striking out twice.

Utley was 0 for 5 in the World Series off Pettitte, and so was Ryan Howard until he came to bat after Utley’s one-out walk in the sixth. Howard, who finished the series 4 for 23 with a record 13 strikeouts, muscled a homer into the first row of seats in left-center.

That made it 7-3, and Manager Joe Girardi came to the mound for a quick talk with Pettitte, his old teammate. He let Pettitte stay, to the fans’ delight, but after a strikeout and a double, Pettitte’s night was over.

The fans had sensed the end all through the sixth, chanting Pettitte’s first and last name, and they erupted when he jogged off the mound. Pettitte slowed near the dugout steps, lifting his cap and shaking it.

Joba Chamberlain and Damaso Marte took it from there. They brought the lead to Rivera, who brought a championship back to the Bronx, where the Yankees believe it belongs.

Back on Top, Yankees Add a 27th Title, NYT, 5.11.2009,






Jeter Passes Gehrig

as Yankees Hits Leader


September 12, 2009
The New York Times


Derek Jeter grew up on Yankees history, by birth and by providence. He was nurtured as a fan by his grandmother, who lived in New Jersey, and drafted into the tradition as a first-round pick in 1992. Only a few years ago, though, did Jeter notice that nobody in his team’s history had ever reached 3,000 hits. Teammates stumbled on it while paging through a record book.

“Then we were wondering who had the most,” Jeter said on Friday afternoon. “But it’s not like you sit there and target it.”

For more than 70 years, Lou Gehrig had the most hits for the franchise, a record that stood until Jeter passed him Friday with his 2,722nd hit, a single that skipped past Gehrig’s old position, first base. Jeter’s graceful grind through 15 seasons has vaulted him past his storied predecessor as team captain.

Jeter connected in the third inning, on a 2-0 fastball from Chris Tillman of the Baltimore Orioles that got past the diving first baseman, Luke Scott. Jeter, who has made a career of hard-hit balls to the opposite field, spread his arms wide and clapped after rounding first base.

The players on the Yankees’ bench poured from the dugout to greet him at first base, taking turns hugging him. Alex Rodriguez was the first to arrive, then Mark Teixeira, Joba Chamberlain, Johnny Damon and the rest.

The fans chanted Jeter’s first and last names, and Jeter waved his helmet to several areas of the new Yankee Stadium. As he did on Wednesday, when he tied the record, Jeter pointed to the box with his parents, sister and friends on the suite level above the Yankees’ on-deck circle. Jeter’s girlfriend, the actress Minka Kelly, stood beside his mother, Dorothy, and both smiled widely.

The crowd continued to chant for Jeter. Nick Swisher, the next batter, stepped out of the box to make the moment last. As the cheers cascaded over Jeter, he waved his helmet again and then clapped a few times in Swisher’s direction: back to work.

The hit arrived in Jeter’s second at-bat against Tillman, a heralded Orioles rookie who challenged him with a 94-mile-an-hour pitch. Tillman won their duel in the first inning, striking Jeter out with a curveball after getting ahead with fastballs.

It was raining then, a persistent, heavy mist swirling around the stadium, with standing pools of water on the warning tracks. (The rain picked up later, and the game was delayed in the seventh.) The grounds crew hustled to rake the mound after the top of the first and spread new dirt a half-inning later. A double splashed in a mud puddle down the right-field line in the second.

By the time Jeter set the record, though, the rain had tapered. In any case, the crowd of 46,771 did not seem to care. The fans stood for Jeter’s at-bat, snapping photos of each pitch, and an inning later, commemorative T-shirts and pennants were on sale at Stadium gift shops.

George Steinbrenner, the team’s principal owner, was not there — he has not been to a home game since opening day — but his publicist quickly issued a statement on his behalf.

“For those who say today’s game can’t produce legendary players, I have two words: Derek Jeter,” Steinbrenner’s statement said. “As historic and significant as becoming the Yankees’ all-time hit leader is, the accomplishment is all the more impressive because Derek is one of the finest young men playing the game today.”

The statement went on to praise the character and ability of Jeter, comparing him favorably to Gehrig, who died of A.L.S. in 1941, a little more than two years after his final hit. Gehrig was far more prolific as a run producer, but Jeter matched his hit total Wednesday in 64 fewer plate appearances.

“He continued to be consistent year in and year out; I think that’s something every player admires,” Jeter said Friday as he talked about Gehrig. “Every story you hear about him, you hear he was a classy person and a great teammate. People thought really highly of him.”

Dorine Gordon, the president and chief executive of the ALS Association Greater New York Chapter, also issued a statement congratulating Jeter. “Derek epitomizes so much of what we admired in Gehrig,” her statement said. “Each skillfully filled their roles as team captains with strength, determination and humility.”

Jeter reached the milestone 24 years to the day after Pete Rose passed Ty Cobb to become baseball’s career hits later. Jeter, 35, has more hits than Rose did at the same age. Rose played until age 45 and finished with 4,256 hits.

That record is within Jeter’s reach, if he wants to play that long. He is signed through next season and said this week that he would keep playing as long as he has fun.

The game is fun now for Jeter, with the Yankees holding baseball’s best record and possessing, perhaps, their best chance at a championship in years. He has helped carry them there with a storm of hits, part of an annual barrage that has set a new standard for his famous team.



Johnny Damon missed the game with a sore hamstring and lower back. Damon said he might have sustained the injuries on Wednesday, when he jumped at the wall for a home run and his spikes did not stick in the padding. “I’m just happy this is a one-day thing and by tomorrow, I’ll be fine,” Damon said. ... Reliever Dave Robertson said he would begin his throwing program in a week or so as he recovers from elbow stiffness. ... Derek Jeter is hoping for a quick workday Saturday; his beloved Michigan Wolverines play Notre Dame at 3:30 p.m. “Big game,” Jeter said. “I hope it doesn’t rain. No delays here.”

Jeter Passes Gehrig as Yankees Hits Leader, NYT, 12.9.2009,






Louisiana State

Wins College World Series


June 25, 2009
The New York Times


OMAHA — With a gold streamer from the victory celebration dragging behind his left foot, Louisiana State Coach Paul Mainieri yelled for his players to gather for the College World Series championship trophy presentation. Then he started looking around.

“Where’s my dad?” he said.

Demie Mainieri stood about 15 feet away in a C.W.S. championship cap, but Paul could not find him in the crowd. In the aftermath of L.S.U.’s 11-4 victory against Texas in Game 3 of the championship final, Demie Mainieri — the longtime coach at Miami-Dade North Community College who won a national junior college title in 1964 — beamed as he watched his son and the Tigers players celebrate.

“This is really something, isn’t it?” Demie Mainieri said. “This was his dream, and I’m so happy for him. It wasn’t something that was easy for him.”

Especially Wednesday night.

The Tigers led by 4-0 after two innings, with the tournament’s most outstanding player, Jared Mitchell, pulling a three-run homer inside the right-field foul pole in the first. But Texas, which rode a streak of improbable victories and late magic through the N.C.A.A. tournament, rallied against the L.S.U. sophomore right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, a Jackson, N.J., product. Kevin Keyes, who slammed his bat in the first after striking out with the bases loaded, tied the game with a two-run homer in the fifth.

The Longhorns (50-16-1) discombobulated in a sloppy five-run sixth inning. A throwing error, a passed ball and two hit batsmen led to four unearned runs as L.S.U. won its sixth national championship since 1991 and its first under Mainieri.

Reliever Brandon Workman, after three scoreless innings, walked Mitchell, a No. 1 pick of the Chicago White Sox, leading off the sixth. Catcher Cameron Rupp mishandled a high fastball for a passed ball. Mikie Mahtook, who at first tried to sacrifice, doubled in the go-ahead run.

A throwing error by Austin Dicharry, who relieved Workman, on a Micah Gibbs bunt kept the rally going. Derek Helenihi drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, and L.S.U. (56-17) tacked on three more with two outs against the Longhorns’ closer, Austin Wood. Wood hit consecutive batters to force in a run before Sean Ochinko’s two-run single made it 9-4.

“I knew, once they tied the score, we’d be O.K. if we could go out and get a run or two,” Gibbs said. “To go out and put up a five-spot was incredible.”

Chad Jones, an outfielder who lost his job after leaving for spring football but returned as a situational left-handed reliever, retired five of the six batters he faced after replacing Ranaudo with one out in the sixth. Louis Coleman, who started Game 1, worked the final two innings. After striking out the side in the ninth to finish off the game, Coleman threw his glove so high that Gibbs grabbed him before it landed.

Wednesday’s loss denied Texas Coach Augie Garrido his sixth national title. The Longhorns have lost twice in the final since the C.W.S. switched to a best-of-three format in 2003, and won in 2005. But it enabled Paul Mainieri to match his father’s national championship with his own, 45 years later.

“In the ninth inning, all I could thing about was he and my mom, said Mainieri, who embraced his father and his mother, Rosetta, on the field shortly after the trophy ceremony. “This afternoon, I thought about how disappointed it would be for my mom and dad not to see us win a national championship.”

Louisiana State Wins College World Series, NYT, 25.6.2009,






Fans Roar

as Phillies Parade Through City


October 31, 2008
Filed at 2:31 p.m. ET
The New York Times


PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel hoisted the World Series trophy Friday while players waved, the Phanatic danced and hundreds of thousands of fans roared in celebrating the city's first sports title parade in 25 years. Left fielder Pat Burrell led the confetti-filled procession, riding a horse-drawn carriage and pumping his fists. Next came several flatbed trucks filled with waving players and other members of the Phillies organization, including the furry green Phanatic mascot.

Throngs in Phillies gear packed downtown sidewalks, making them almost impassable. So fans climbed trees, hung out of windows, watched from balconies, brought stepladders and stood on roofs to get a better view.

Surging crowds pushed onto the streets at some intersections, leaving just enough room for the trucks and their police escorts to pass. Fans took to the streets to trail the parade as it went by.

The procession was expected to take about 90 minutes to get from the heart of the city to the sports complex in South Philadelphia, about four miles away.

There, the team was expected to be greeted by another hundred thousand fans watching the festivities on big screens at the city's baseball and football stadiums. Phillies players will attend a rally at Citizens Bank Park and make a brief appearance at Lincoln Financial Field, where the Eagles play.

The last time a Philadelphia team won a major championship was in 1983, when the 76ers won the NBA title. The Phillies won their only other World Series in 1980.

Havertown resident Keith Goodman skipped work to bring his 7-year-old son, Richie, to Citizens Bank Park.

''I don't know if we'll ever get this chance again,'' Goodman said. ''He's been saying it's been seven long years. I say it's 25 long years.''

Nick and Patricia Gavin of suburban Delaware County, who were children when they attended the 1980 parade, brought their own downtown on Friday.

Jaclyn, 10, planned to dress as a Phillies ball girl later in the day for Halloween, but her brother Nicholas, 8, was too excited about the World Series win to think about trick-or-treating.

''This made me forget about Halloween,'' Nicholas said.

Officials had earlier stressed the importance of using public transit, but the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority reported being overwhelmed by midmorning Friday.

By the time the parade started, the agency had temporarily suspended commuter rail service into Philadelphia so that trains would be available for those leaving the parade. Subways and trolleys were still operating, SEPTA spokesman Gary Fairfax said.

''It is simply a tremendous crowd in Center City,'' Fairfax said.


AP writers Bob Lentz, Randy Pennell and Dan Gelston

contributed to this report.

Fans Roar as Phillies Parade Through City, NYT, 31.10.2008,






American League 4, National League 3, 15 Innings

A.L. Wins

in Lengthy Farewell to Stadium


July 16, 2008
The New York Times


It was tense, it was exciting and it was long, but, in the end, the final scenes from the All-Star Game proved to be as predictable as ever. The American League was better than the National League again. Regardless of how many twists and turns this marathon game took, the A.L. prevailed, 4-3, in 15 innings.

After Michael Young’s sacrifice fly delivered Justin Morneau, the longest All-Star Game ever — by time — was over after 4 hours 50 minutes. The A.L. is now unbeaten in 12 straight seasons.

By the time the game ended at 1:37 a.m. Eastern, most of the 55,632 spectators, some whom paid as much as $725 a ticket, were in a car, in a train or in a bed. The 63 players who were selected to play took part in a game that dragged on and on, kind of like a baseball season. The game is also tied for the longest game, by innings, ever. J.D. Drew of the Red Sox, who had a two-run homer, was named the Most Valuable Player. And, on this crazy night, the right fielder said he would have pitched if Manager Terry Francona had asked him.

“It got wild,” said Clint Hurdle, the Rockies’ manager who handled the N.L. team.

Brad Lidge, who was the last pitcher left for the N.L., allowed a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases in the 15th. Young hit a fly ball to medium-right. Corey Hart corralled the ball and made a decent throw, but Morneau slid in ahead of Brian McCann’s tag.

Aside from its length, the final All-Star Game at the Stadium will also be remembered for a lot of snazzy plays and missed opportunities: the Mets’ Billy Wagner blew a save for the N.L.; the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera pitched like the legend that he is, and Jonathan Papelbon of the Red Sox was booed by the Yankees fans who had been rooting for the A.L. By winning, the A.L. again earned the home-field advantage in the World Series.

In addition to Wagner, Lidge and Papelbon, Dan Uggla will surely want to forget this game. Uggla, a second baseman for the Marlins, made three errors and was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts.

As inning after inning passed, it felt a lot like 2002 when the teams played to a 7-7 tie that ended after 11 innings because both sides ran out of pitchers. Position players, like Drew and David Wright and Evan Longoria, spoke about possibly pitching after Tuesday night became Wednesday morning. Lidge said it would have been "scary" if either side had run out of pitchers. Of course, since Lidge allowed the decisive run, that did not happen.

When Wagner was asked how desperately he wanted to beat the A.L., he said, “It would be fantastic to beat them about 20-0.”

How about 3-2? The N.L. was in position for a 3-2 win, but Wagner botched that chance. With two outs and no one on in the eighth, Wagner was brought in to pitch to Grady Sizemore. Sizemore singled, stole second and then scored on Evan Longoria’s double to tie the game, 3-3. Wagner’s blown save turned a game into a marathon. It was a marathon with some highlights.

With runners on first and second in the 11th, Michael Young smacked a single to center field and it seemed as if the game was over. But Nate McLouth hustled in and made a throw that almost reached home on a fly. Catcher Russell Martin snared the short-hop, blocked the plate with his left leg and tagged out Dioner Navarro. But the N.L. could not suppress the A.L. all night.

Uggla misplaced his glove in the 10th as he committed errors on the first two grounders hit to him. After an intentional walk, Aaron Cook rescued Uggla by nabbing three straight groundouts to escape from the bases-loaded jam. Shortstop Miguel Tejada made a running, sprawling play on Morneau’s slow roller for the third out.

There was only one Yankee on the field late in the game, but that did not stop the fans from being territorial. When Rivera pitched the ninth and the 10th, he heard his name chanted and also heard chants of “Let’s Go Yankees.” Rivera worked one and two-thirds scoreless innings.

Papelbon was honest enough to say that he felt he should close the All-Star game, not Rivera. When Papelbon pitched the eighth, he heard chants of “Mar-i-ano” and “Over-rated.” Papelbon allowed an unearned run as the N.L. took a 3-2 lead.

Matt Holliday, whose homer gave the N.L. a 1-0 lead, mentioned how vital the home-field edge was after his Colorado Rockies lost the first two games in Boston last October and were swept in four games by the Red Sox. Lance Berkman’s sacrifice fly in the sixth put the N.L. ahead, 2-0.

Ben Sheets, Carlos Zambrano and Dan Haren silenced the A.L. for the first six innings, but that changed when Drew lined a two-run homer off Edinson Volquez in the seventh. Drew heard his first and maybe his last cheers ever at the Stadium.

“It was brief to say the least,” Drew said.

Kevin Youkilis of the Red Sox had spoken hopefully about being included in the lineup roll call that the Yankees’ bleacher creatures do in the first inning. But, realistically, Youkilis had no chance to hear “Youk-i-lis” in the Bronx.

When the fans did their roll call, they limited it to the left side of the infield and chanted for third baseman Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. Both waved toward right field, as they always do.

After Cliff Lee buzzed through the first inning with two strikeouts, Jeter delighted the Yankee fans with the first hit of the game. There were hundreds of flashbulbs popping when Jeter cued a ball that bounced off second baseman Chase Utley for a single. He then stole second.

With two outs, Rodriguez had the opportunity to drive in the first run in the final All-Star Game at the Stadium. But Rodriguez did not turn the situation into an all-Yankee production as he fouled out to the catcher off Sheets. After Jeter’s first-inning single, he twice batted with runners on base and failed to deliver.

An emotional George Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ principal owner, delivered four baseballs to the mound as part of the pre-game ceremonies for the All-Star Game. It was Steinbrenner’s first visit to the Stadium this season.

After the All-Star teams and 49 Hall of Famers were introduced, a golf cart carrying Steinbrenner appeared along the warning track. Steinbrenner was weeping as he was driven to the mound. He received a polite ovation.

When the cart pulled on to the field, Steinbrenner gave the baseballs to Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson and Goose Gossage, the Yankees’ four Hall of Famers who were on the field. Ford and Berra kissed Steinbrenner and Jackson and Gossage hugged him.

Since Steinbrenner’s health has eroded in recent years, he has not been as much of a presence, physically or vocally, around the Yankees. Steinbrenner, who turned 78 on July 4, has owned the team since 1973. Rodriguez said the Stadium and Steinbrenner were “the two biggest stars” of the game.

But, several hours later, there was another star that Rodriguez did not mention: the A.L. The A.L. won another All-Star Game. Different season, same result.

A.L. Wins in Lengthy Farewell to Stadium, NYT, 16.7.2008,






Ramirez joins 500-homer club

in Red Sox victory


31 May 2008
USA Today


BALTIMORE (AP) — Dreadlocks are in fashion in the exclusive 500-home run club, now that Manny Ramirez has added his name to the list of baseball's most prolific sluggers.

Ramirez became the 24th player to reach the milestone, connecting in the seventh inning off Chad Bradford to help the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-3 Saturday night.

Boston's left fielder hit the first pitch into the bleacher seats in right-center. He stood and watched the flight of the ball, then took off around the bases in a slow trot, a broad smile on his face.

"I'm happy, you know, about everything I accomplished in life," Ramirez said afterward. "Not everybody has the chance to go and get to 500. I'm just proud to do it."

It took him long enough. After hitting No. 496 on April 19, he had only three homers in 34 games before Saturday.

"Every time you get to the hotel, (people say), 'Hey, when you gonna hit it?' I'm just happy everything's done for now," Ramirez said. "I can go be myself and have fun."

Ramirez certainly had a delightful time rounding the bases. He slapped a high-five with first base coach Luis Alicea, tapped hands with third base coach DeMarlo Hale, then hugged on-deck hitter Mike Lowell as he crossed the plate. Many of his teammates greeted him as he reached the dugout, where Ramirez received more hugs and bounced up and down in an embrace with David Ortiz and Julio Lugo.

"They're so proud to have me, a guy so loose, to play the game," Ramirez said of his teammates. "I guess they really appreciate it."

Boston manager Terry Francona said, "His teammates have been waiting for it and it was special to watch. ... Seeing the home run was fun, but watching his teammates show their affection was great."

Even his former teammates were proud. Kevin Millar, who played for Boston from 2003-05, said, "I'm happy for him. He's got a uniqueness about him that makes him easy to like. He looks like a Brazilian Rainforest guy. You take away the hair and the baggy uniform, he's just a guy that can hit."

The solo shot gave Boston a 5-3 lead. It traveled an estimated 410 feet.

In the bottom of the seventh, as he ran his position in the outfield, Ramirez waved to thousands of Boston fans among the 48,281 at Camden Yards. Although it was a road game for the Red Sox, many seats were filled with Boston backers, and virtually everyone in the ballpark took delight in seeing history made.

"That's why they call it the Red Sox Nation. They follow us everywhere. Everywhere we go, we get a big support," Ramirez said. "I'm just happy it's over with and I'm proud to do it here."

The 500-home run club has only two dozen members, but Ramirez also joined an even smaller fraternity. He is only the seventh player in baseball history with 500 homers, 1,500 RBI, 1,000 walks, 475 doubles and a .300 batting average. The others are Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Mel Ott, Babe Ruth, Frank Thomas and Ted Williams.

"It's nice to be part of history," Ramirez said.

Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia also homered for the Red Sox, and Jacoby Ellsbury stole three bases in a second straight game. Ellsbury also tripled in the seventh off Lance Cormier (0-2) and scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by Ortiz before Bradford entered to face Ramirez.

Bradford had allowed only two home runs since May 14, 2006.

"He doesn't give up that many," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "You think you have the right situation, but..."

Bradford left the Baltimore clubhouse without talking to reporters.

Throughout the first two games of the series, Ramirez was swinging at the first pitch. He did it again against Bradford, with positive results.

"You could see he was aggressive up there," Trembley said. "The worst thing we did was throw him a strike. It probably would have been better if threw the ball outside of the strike zone every time tonight because he seemed like he was in a hurry to get it over with."

Mission accomplished, against a pitcher who doesn't give up many home runs.

"His power is so strong to center and right field. You don't see that against a guy like Chad Bradford," Millar said. "That's why it's all the more amazing."

In the ninth inning, Ortiz hurt his left hand while swinging at a pitch and left the game. X-rays were negative; the injury was diagnosed as a strained wrist.

One batter after Ortiz exited, Ramirez popped out to finish 1-for-5. But that one hit was a whopper.

"Great, man. Finally, it's over with. It's a good thing, man," Ortiz said. "I told him, 'You can finally go eat. No one's going to ask you (about) 500 anymore."'

The ball was retrieved by a Boston fan who claimed to have caught it on the fly. He handed the ball to Ramirez in the Red Sox clubhouse after the game.

"I don't want to keep the ball. I want to see how much money I can get for the hospital I'm donating $1,000 for (every) home run," Ramirez said. "That's what I want to do."

Pitching for the second time since his no-hitter on May 19 against Kansas City, Boston's Jon Lester allowed three runs and seven hits in five innings. His run of four starts without yielding a home run ended when Brian Roberts connected in the fifth to give Baltimore a 3-2 lead.

Lester was replaced by David Aardsma (2-1), who pitched two scoreless innings. Jonathan Papelbon worked the ninth for his 16th save.


Notes: Ellsbury took over the AL lead with 26 steals (in 28 tries). ... Red Sox RF J.D. Drew entered in the ninth inning after missing Friday's game with vertigo. ... All four of Roberts' homers have been solo shots. ... Boston activated RHP Clay Buchholz from the 15-day disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he had been on a rehabilitation assignment.

Ramirez joins 500-homer club in Red Sox victory, NYT, 31.5.2008,






Red Sox beat Dodgers

before 115,300 fans


30 March 2008
USA Today


LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Dodgers used a five-man infield against the Boston Red Sox. Too bad they weren't allowed to put a player or two in the Los Angeles Coliseum stands.

Kevin Cash and Kevin Youkilis hit cheap homers off Esteban Loaiza to account for five runs in the first three innings, and the Red Sox beat the Dodgers 7-4 Saturday night before an announced crowd of 115,300 — largest ever to watch a baseball game.

The previous record of about 114,000 attended an exhibition between the Australian national team and an American services team during the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

This exhibition game was part of the Dodgers' 50th anniversary celebration of their move west from Brooklyn in 1958. They played at the Coliseum for four years before making Dodger Stadium their permanent home in 1962.

In the last baseball game played at the Coliseum, on Sept. 20, 1961, Sandy Koufax pitched all 13 innings in a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs before a crowd of 12,068.

The Coliseum was built for track and football, not baseball.

Routine fly balls, even popups, soared over a 42-foot high screen in left field, where the distance from home plate to the foul pole was just 251 feet. Meanwhile, drives to right and center of more than 400 feet were easy outs.

The distance to the left-field foul pole for this game was 201 feet and the screen was 60 feet high. And the fences around the rest of the field were far closer to home plate than in the old days.

Cash lined a two-out, three-run homer to left-center in the second — a ball that might have split the gap elsewhere but certainly wouldn't have gone out. Youkilis connected with two outs in the third, popping the ball over the screen with a runner aboard.

Surprisingly, there were only two more homers, a solo shot by Dodgers' first baseman James Loney in the seventh off Bryan Corey, and a two-run blast by rookie Blake DeWitt off Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth.

While Loaiza struggled, Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield excelled, allowing five hits and an unearned run in five innings to make a mockery of catcher Jason Varitek's pre-game forecast of doom.

"Wakie's a fly ball pitcher. That's great," Varitek said some 3½ hours before the game as he walked down the Coliseum tunnel and glanced toward the left-field screen.

Then, in his best broadcast voice, Varitek intoned: "Dodgers 85, Red Sox 81."

He was way off.

Torre joked beforehand about using a five-man infield, but the Dodgers did so throughout the game. Center fielder Andruw Jones played behind second base on the skin of the infield at the start, with left fielder Andre Ethier in center, leaving left field unprotected.

When Jacoby Ellsbury was thrown out trying to steal in the fourth, Jones was on the receiving end of catcher Russell Martin's throw — the unconventional putout from catcher to center fielder.

The Red Sox went with a more conventional defensive approach, although their left fielders were stationed in left-center, well off the line.

Longtime announcer Vin Scully, who moved with the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, was honored before the game. He referred to himself as "an ordinary man who was given an extraordinary opportunity."

After being given a long ovation, Scully told the fans: "Aw c'mon. It's only me."

Wally Moon, a left-handed hitter who earned lasting fame for his ability to slice the ball off or over the left field screen, known as Moonshots, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Before the second inning, former Lakers star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar threw another ceremonial pitch, flanked by 15 members of the 1958 Dodgers.

Pregame talk, naturally, centered on the configuration of the field.

Former Dodgers pitching ace Don Newcombe had a difficult time looking at the screen, which clearly brought up some unpleasant memories.

"That's terrible, isn't it? I know the hitters are foaming at the mouth," Newcombe said, his voice rising. "It's a monstrosity, that's not a baseball thing. It was a monstrosity then. We knew that."

Boston manager Terry Francona said he was just happy he wasn't pitching — or hitting.

"Sadly, my little flares would have carried to the left fielder," he said.

Torre, who grew up in Brooklyn, recalled playing at the Coliseum as a rookie in 1961, and not faring very well.

"I walked out on that field and I said, 'Whoa, this is really great for a right-handed hitter.' I wasn't that right-handed hitter," he said.

The Red Sox traveled to Japan for the first two games of the regular season against Oakland before flying to Los Angeles and arriving late Wednesday night. They're playing three games against the Dodgers before flying to Oakland for another pair with the A's that count.

"For us right now, it's play a game and move on," Boston's Alex Cora said. "It's been such a difficult week. Hopefully it's not like a USC (football) score."

Francona expressed a similar sentiment.

"The idea behind this is awesome," he said. "I think flexible is the word for the day. We're trying to respect the occasion. It's more of an event for ThinkCure, a deserving foundation. The concept is tremendous. For one day, I've got to sit back, not complain, not worry."

The Dodgers scored in the first when Rafael Furcal singled, took second on Wakefield's wild pickoff throw and came around to score on fly balls by Martin and Ethier.

The lead didn't last long. Third baseman DeWitt committed a two-out error in the second before Bobby Kielty drew a walk, setting the stage for Cash and making all three runs unearned. Kielty and Cora hit RBI singles in the sixth to extend Boston's lead to 7-1.

Red Sox beat Dodgers before 115,300 fans, UT, 30.3.2008,






Santana’s Changeup:

Hitters Never See It Coming


March 3, 2008
The New York Times


Johan Santana carried a baseball with him every day, for hours at a time, trying to become more comfortable with the feel of his fingers against the seams. He would scoop up a ball as a minor leaguer with the Minnesota Twins and immediately move his fingers across the four seams, the same way he held his fastball and his evolving changeup.

For Santana, clutching the ball was his way of making it feel like an extension of his left hand. To develop his changeup and have the confidence to throw a pitch that depends so much on touch, he realized that he first needed to strengthen his relationship with the baseball.

So when Santana was not pitching off a mound or long-tossing across the outfield, he marched around with one, all the while pursuing a grip that would make the changeup his lifelong friend. Santana speaks about a baseball as if he were discussing a person.

“A baseball is my partner,” he said. “I have to keep it with me at all times. We have 162 games a year, plus spring training. You spend more than half the year with a baseball in your hand. You can’t forget that.”

Six years after Santana began meticulously honing his four-seam grip as a starter in Class AAA, he is still doing it. Except now he is doing it as the premier pitcher in baseball and the new ace of the Mets. Now Santana, a two-time Cy Young award winner, is doing it with a changeup that makes batters bend and buckle.

“The thing that makes his changeup so tough is how he controls it,” Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi said. “He doesn’t bounce it. It just comes to the plate like a fastball and falls off.”

Mets second baseman Luis Castillo, who was Santana’s teammate with the Twins, added: “It’s the best changeup in the game. It’s a nasty pitch.”

Santana’s changeup would not be as vicious if he did not complement it with a solid fastball. Rick Peterson, the Mets’ pitching coach, described the fastball-changeup combination as “probably the most devastating” in the major leagues, especially when a pitcher consistently throws fastballs for strikes.

Santana does that by dominating the inside corner with his fastball, although there are minor concerns about how a loss in velocity contributed to a slump late last season.

Whether Santana fires a fastball that zooms in at 90 to 94 miles an hour or flips a changeup that lumbers in at 77 to 80, he does everything exactly the same. He uses the same delivery, the same release point and the same exertion. Then he does it again and again. That repetitiveness helps camouflage which of the drastically different pitches he is throwing.

“You make them guess,” Santana said. “That’s the whole point. You want to keep them off balance.”

As Santana spoke about his changeup last week in Port St. Lucie, Fla., he reached into a teammate’s locker to find a ball to illustrate his points. After all, he needed his partner.

When Santana tosses the changeup, his thumb is on the right side of the ball and is the only finger that does not touch a seam. Santana’s index finger is across the inside seams, his middle and ring fingers are along the top seams (with the knuckles touching the seams) and his pinkie is on the seams along the left side of the ball (with the knuckle also touching the seams). Santana uses a similar grip for his four-seam fastball.

By using the same type of grip and throwing his fastball and changeup from the same release point, the pitches leave his hand resembling twins. Giambi said some pitchers “choke” the ball (grip it more tightly) when uncorking a changeup, so it is easy to detect what they are throwing. But Santana’s fastball and changeup spin out of his hand the same way, offering no hints about their identity.

Peterson said: “When you talk to hitters and hitting coaches, the No. 1 factor for being a productive hitter in the major leagues is pitch recognition. If your fastball is at 92 to 95 miles per hour and it has the same spin as your changeup, which is at 80, there’s no recognition. We’ve hid that. We’ve disguised that.”

Santana works exhaustively to make his fastball look like a changeup and vice versa.

“He’s as good as anyone in the game at doing that,” Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. “A lot of pitchers slow their motion down on a changeup. If you watch it, you can see it. But he doesn’t do that.”

Santana playfully refers to his changeup as a butterfly. Jeter said some hitters, but not him, thought it was best simply to wait for that soft pitch. How difficult could it be to hit an 80-m.p.h. changeup?

Joe Girardi, the Yankees’ first-year manager, said great hitters could try to wait for Santana’s changeup but added that they had to be “great hitters who don’t mind being embarrassed.” Giambi said it was useless to sit on Santana’s changeup.

“You can’t guess with him,” Giambi said. “He’s too smart. He’ll see that. Then he’ll throw three fastballs down the middle.”

Peterson scoffed at the notion that hitters could guess changeup against Santana, saying the best strategy was to look for a fastball.

“If your delivery for the changeup is identical to what it is on the fastball and the spin is identical, you can sit on it all day long, but you don’t see it,” Peterson said. “It’s invisible.”

It is also multidimensional. David Cone, who won 194 games for teams that included the Yankees and the Mets, was renowned for his creativity while delivering pitches from an array of arm angles. Cone raved about how Santana’s changeup was actually three pitches because “it goes down, in and out.” By adjusting his arm angle, Santana can make the changeup dive down. He can also move it inside on right-handed hitters or move it away from them.

“It’s such a weapon because it’s not one pitch,” Cone said.

Santana fiddled with a changeup before 2002, but that was when the pitch blossomed. After Minnesota sent Santana to Class AAA Edmonton to convert him from a reliever to a starter, Bobby Cuellar, the pitching coach there, preached about the significance of trusting his changeup in any situation.

During bullpen sessions, Cuellar would tell Santana to imagine the count was 2-0 or 3-0 and would instruct him to throw a changeup. During games, Cuellar sometimes had Santana toss seven straight changeups. Although Santana said it took months to be that bold, Cuellar said he saw “a little glow in Johan’s eye” as the pitch developed. By July 2003, Santana was in the Twins’ rotation. By 2004, he was a 20-game winner.

The Mets’ Pedro Martínez, another aficionado of the changeup, said, “When people are dead red looking for a fastball in the mid-90s and they have to blink when they see this changeup at 76 miles per hour, that’s abuse.”

There will be times when hitters guess right, and times when Santana is mortal. While Santana’s changeup causes futile swings, he also surrendered 33 homers, an American League high, in 2007. But wherever Santana goes with the Mets, the grip will be the same. His partner will be with him.

“It’s always there, man,” said Santana, a baseball ensconced in his hand. “It’s always there.”

Santana’s Changeup: Hitters Never See It Coming,
NYT, 3.3.2008,






World Series Game 5 - Cardinals 4, Tigers 2

Cardinals Paint Crown Red


October 28, 2006

The New York Times



ST. LOUIS, Oct. 27 — The fans here are patient. They are adoring and savvy and upbeat, too, but mostly patient. They waited nearly a quarter-century for Friday night, through steamy summers and frustrating autumns. They waited until a wind-whipped, frigid night in the heartland, when the St. Louis Cardinals returned to glory.

The baseball world is bathed in red again. The Cardinals won their first World Series since 1982 with a 4-2 victory against the Detroit Tigers in Game 5 at Busch Stadium. It was the 10th championship for the Cardinals, more than any other franchise except the Yankees.

“I’m looking around at all the confetti, and the fans are still here,” said closer Adam Wainwright, holding his month-old daughter on the field some 20 minutes after the final out. “This is such a great town and a great team. We fought so hard to be here. We deserve it, and they deserve it.”

The Cardinals won Friday on the skinny frame of starter Jeff Weaver, the big heart of shortstop David Eckstein and the slipshod fielding of the Tigers. Detroit made eight errors in the World Series, five by pitchers, and gave up two unearned runs in Game 5. At the plate, the Tigers batted .199.

Eckstein, the 5-foot-7 leadoff man, followed up his four-hit performance in Game 4 with two hits and two runs batted in Friday. He was named most valuable player in the Series with a .364 average.

Weaver, a goat of the World Series for the Yankees three years ago, pitched eight innings, striking out nine and allowing one earned run on four hits. Wainwright earned the save in the ninth, striking out Brandon Inge on a slider with runners at the corners to clinch the title.

Inge was part of a Tigers team that set an American League record with 119 losses three years ago. The Tigers surpassed all expectations this season, but the Series belonged to St. Louis.

“We didn’t play well, and we got beat,” Tigers closer Todd Jones said. “The Cardinals were the better team. They deserved the championship. It doesn’t take anything away from how these guys feel about what we were able to accomplish.”

Wainwright, a rookie with one month’s experience as a closer, leaped after the final out and embraced catcher Yadier Molina in midair. Players streamed from the dugout and bullpen, collapsing in a pile behind the mound.

Red fireworks burst from beyond the left-field wall, where the old Busch Stadium once sat. That was the site, two years ago to the hour, where the Boston Red Sox celebrated their long-awaited championship. The Cardinals were bystanders then, never holding a lead in a four-game sweep.

Last fall brought a final disappointment. The Houston Astros beat the Cardinals for their first-ever National League pennant, and the old Busch Stadium closed for good.

Now, at last, it is the Cardinals’ turn. They won despite only 83 victories in the regular season, the fewest ever by a World Series champion in a non-strike year. The Cardinals struggled with injuries and long losing streaks but revived themselves in October behind a healthy lineup, a deep bench and a sturdy pitching staff.

“We had some really good teams and we just never made it,” said center fielder Jim Edmonds, a Cardinal since 2000. “We just kept plugging along and hoped we got another shot. We got a shot and we played good ball at the right time.”

Historically, the Cardinals had not handled 3-1 leads well. They led by that margin in the 1968 World Series against the Tigers, but lost in seven. The same thing happened in 1985, against the Kansas City Royals, and in the 1996 playoff with the Atlanta Braves, in Tony La Russa’s first year as the Cardinals’ manager.

The decade has been thrilling for fans, from the home run feats of Mark McGwire to the instant stardom of Albert Pujols. Yet the title has eluded this town. In the years since 1982, the Cardinals have made the playoffs nine times. No other team had reached the postseason so many times in those years without winning it all.

From the start, it looked promising for St. Louis. Weaver retired the side in the first inning, striking out two, while Tigers starter Justin Verlander seemed swallowed up in all the red.

Verlander walked the bases loaded, mixing in two wild pitches to tie a single-game World Series record. By the time the cleanup hitter was batting, the Tigers had action in their bullpen.

The inning consumed 35 pitches — matching Verlander’s uniform number — but he escaped on a groundout. The Cardinals scored in the second when Eckstein singled down the third-base line and Inge threw the ball away for an error, but they left a runner in scoring position, again missing the chance to take control early.

It would cost them in the fourth, when right fielder Chris Duncan dropped a routine fly by Magglio Ordóñez, the struggling cleanup hitter. Sean Casey, who batted .529 in the Series, homered on the next pitch.

The Tigers led, 2-1, the fourth game in which they had the lead. But like two others, this lead did not last.

With one out in the fourth, Verlander allowed singles to the seventh and eighth hitters, Molina and So Taguchi. That brought up Weaver, who missed badly on his first attempt at a bunt. His second came right back to Verlander, who picked up the ball off the wet grass, turned and whipped a wild throw past third.

The score was tied on the fifth error in five games by a Tigers pitcher, a World Series record. Instead of two outs, there was one. And when Eckstein grounded out sharply to Carlos Guillén’s backhand at short, Taguchi scored to put the Cardinals ahead, 3-2.

His poor throw aside, Verlander was settling in, retiring six in a row after his error. The problem for the Tigers was Weaver, the pitcher who had been a cornerstone of their rebuilding effort at the start of this decade.

The Tigers traded Weaver to the Yankees in 2002, but his stay in New York ended when he allowed a game-ending home run in the next year’s World Series. He came to St. Louis in July after three disastrous months with the Angels, for whom he went 3-10.

In that way, Weaver embodied his team as a whole: It came together late, but come together it did. Weaver has been reliable all October, and never more so than Friday.

“When you come to a team that believes in you from the get-go, it just builds your confidence,” Weaver said. “You know what they say: ‘never say die.’ ”

Weaver, a demonstrative pitcher, kept his composure at important moments. With two outs in the sixth inning, Duncan misplayed another fly ball, letting a drive by Casey drop just behind him on the warning track for a double.

Up next was Iván Rodríguez, a probable Hall of Famer. Weaver dropped to a sidearm angle and struck him out, shaking his fist in front of him as he strode off the mound.

In the seventh, when Pujols dove to his right for a leadoff grounder by Plácido Polanco, Weaver was there to pick the throw from the dirt and find the bag for the out. He finished the inning easily, and the Cardinals needed only six outs for the championship.

It was the seventh-inning stretch, but many fans had been standing all night. Weaver — born in California, hardened in New York — noticed. There is nothing like Midwest baseball, he said.

“The fans were up on their feet from the get-go, just like good fans should,” Weaver said. “We gave them something to cheer for.”

In spirit if not in temperature, the players felt the warmth of the fans. The team of the heartland was back on its perch, a champion again.

Cardinals Paint Crown Red,










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