Thursday, January 28, 2010

There is some good stuff in that bargain bin

In a few days it will be February.

And later in that month, pitchers and catchers will have reported to Arizona and Florida.

Then the off season will be over and Spring Training will have begun... and the 2010 baseball year will be on its way.

And yet still not everyone has found a home yet.

Obviously Johnny Damon is still the biggest name out there... and I am sure the $14 million they turned down from the World Champion Yankees looks pretty good right about now.

This is the second annual "Scott Boras Takes A Former 2004 Red Sox Outfielder Into Free Agency And Doesn't Get The Offers He Was Expecting" tour after last year's Manny Ramirez non offer spree.

(Why the Giants didn't sign him like I told them too will remain a mystery to me.)

Usually right around now, it is a series of veteran relievers and back up catchers who are looking for a gig... and inevitably a few veterans like Ray Durham last year will wind up without work.

But something occurred to me. If I had a really crappy team... like a team that was going nowhere in a hurry... I could get a whole new infield for cheap right now.

I could have Russell Branyan at first...

Orlando Hudson at second...

Orlando Cabrera at shortstop...

Melvin Mora at third base...

Not to mention reserves like Felipe Lopez...

And Adam Kennedy

And maybe if it is an AL Team, have a DH Platoon with Jermaine Dye...

And Carlos Delgado

I'm not saying this infield and depth would win a division... but it has got to be a better infield than some teams are fielding.

And this close to spring training, I bet you can sign all eight for a few million each.

These 8 players for $22 million... or less than what Vernon Wells is scheduled to make in 2011!

Come on Pittsburgh fans. Tell me you wouldn't rather have THIS infield than the one that will be taking the field in a few months!

Hey Mets! You should sign these guys to fill in for the inevitable injuries that will plague the team.

Maybe Boros can sign these guys himself and take them with Johnny Damon and start barnstorming!

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Mets are now intersted in John Smoltz? Why not?

Seriously! Why not?

They've added dysfunction with the squabble with Carlos Beltran.

They've added questionable health with Kelvim Escobar and Jason Bay.

They've added Gary Matthews Jr, a player the Angels wanted to get rid of so badly that they paid $21 million to do it.

And remember this is all added to a 92 loss team in the biggest glaring media market... a team that Bengie Molina, Joel Pineiro, Jon Garland and Ben Sheets all said no to.

So why not sign John Smoltz?
The team has been too old and too injured needs a 43 year pitcher who has been hurt or effective the last few years.

Yes he's a Hall of Famer. So is Whitey Ford!

Maybe the Mets should pick him up too!

Seriously, would someone tell me why the Mets shouldn't be dismantled now?

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The A’s signing Ben Sheets makes even LESS sense to me today!

OK, let’s say you are the Oakland A’s… you don’t often sign players to salaries higher than the milk shake guy at In and Out Burger… and the few times you do, the results aren’t pretty. (How’s that Eric Chavez signing looking?)

But for whatever reason you find $10 million to spend on the 2010 roster. (Perhaps you found a suit that had a $10 million bill in the breast pocket.

They need pitching depth and two pitchers are still hanging around, unsigned, in late January.

One just turned 30, has thrown 190 innings or more each of the last 8 seasons. Consistently gets double digit wins. Consistently starts 30+ games. And has experience in several pennant races including playing a big part in a World Series run where he threw a complete game playoff win. Last year he logged in 204 innings, made 33 starts and pitched well down the stretch drive for a playoff team.

The other one is a year older, has more health issues than Amy Winehouse and pitched in as many games as her last year… which would be zero. He hasn’t logged in 200 innings nor made 30 starts for the past 5 seasons. He has no post season experience and has played only two seasons for teams with a winning record. His talent is undeniable but so is his inability to stay on the roster. He is a “Placed on the 60 Day Disabled List” entry waiting to happen.

Which one of those two would you spend the money on? ESPECIALLY seeing that you can’t afford to have much payroll in the trainers room or on rehab assignment in Kane County.

Naturally the A’s picked the slightly older, more injury prone Ben Sheets to sign for $10 million… allowing the slightly younger, more durable, playoff tested Jon Garland to sign with San Diego.

And guess what? Garland signed for $4.7 million LESS. The Padres are all but guaranteed lots of innings, lots of starts and a stable veteran while the A’s will be paying for Ben Sheets to sit in the whirlpool.

How does this make ANY sense?

It’s not like the Padres are going to be a contender. They had the same record as the A’s did last year (75-87) and San Diego will probably be dumping high salary players at the deadline once again.

So why couldn’t the A’s offer… oh I don’t know… $6 million for Garland and have an extra $4 million to throw around.

The Yankees claim to be only offering $2 million to Damon. Offer him $3 million and suddenly everyone will be saying “Hey! The A’s out bid the Yankees! That’s good for baseball!”

And maybe kick the remaining $1 million into a scouting department… clearly the current scouting department who thought Garland was a risk but Sheets was the direction to go needs a payroll boost.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Are the A's Three Sheets To The Wind?

Seriously? The most frugal organization NOT called the Marlins opened up their wallets for a free agent and it was for Ben Sheets?

$10 million on a guy who didn't pitch a game last year?

Yes, he is a talented pitcher when healthy... but he's NEVER healthy!


Do you know who tied him in EVERY SINGLE statistical category?

Professor Stephen Hawking!

If Sheets stays healthy then the A's would have stolen an ace...
And if Milton Bradley doesn't become more erratic than Joe Pesci in Casino, then the Mariners will do well.

And you don't have to be a genius like Professor Hawking to see those odds are astronomically small.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Getting ready for kick off... thinking about the 1986 World Series

OF COURSE I am thinking about the 1986 World Series... what else would I be thinking about as the games deciding the Super Bowl berths are about to be played.

But I am not thinking about it for the reasons that you would think.

In the past, I lamented 1986 as the ultimate "what might have been."
But 2004 and 2007 put that to rest.

Then I lamented the great flop of 1986 when I thought of Jim Rice's candidacy for the Hall of Fame. Had the Red Sox won in 1986, I argued, Rice would have been in the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. He didn't have Ted's stats or Yaz's stats... but the Sox would have won when Rice was captain.

Rice's election last year put that to rest.

But today's Jets game got me thinking about that fateful 10th inning.
The Mets and Jets are very similar franchises... and not just because their names rhyme.

They are second banana franchises in their own cities. The Yankees own the baseball scene and the Giants have always had a bigger following.

They both have had their share of heart break and dysfunction over the years.

Both have fan bases that have listened to Yankee fans and Giant fans crow about their more recent titles. The Yankees with their 27 titles and the Giants with Super Bowl titles in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.

And of course they each had, over a period of 9 months in 1969, a startling championship that defined their franchise to this very day.

Both seemed beyond the realm of possibility... the AFL was supposed to be inferior to the NFL and the Super Bowl had been a lackluster joke in its first two games.

And of course the Mets averaged a 56-106 record for each of its first seven seasons.

Both teams rode the back of a brash new superstar... Broadway Joe predicting the outcome by the poolside...

Tom Terrific mowing down NL batters left and right heading into the Series.

And oddly, they both beat heavily favored teams that played in Baltimore.

Now there is one huge difference between the franchises:

The Jets have never won since. The Mets have... one other time.

The Mets have that, for them, Amazin' moment of coming back from 2 runs down, 2 outs, nobody on in the 10th that was so beautifully recreated in this video game.

Now just imagine if the Mets never won that game. (And NO, I am not going to say "Imagine if Buckner made that play. The game was already tied. Buckner's error prevented the game from going into the 10th. It neither clinched the World Series for the Met nor would have clinched the World Series for the Red Sox... please tattoo that on your wrist.)

Imagine if Gary Carter made an out... or Kevin Mitchell made an out... or Schraldi got that third strike on Ray Knight... or Mookie Wilson swung and missed on one of his 2 strike foul balls against Bob Stanley.

Trust me, I did every day of my life between October 1986 to October 2004.

But I always thought of the Red Sox side... for the Mets, they would still be pining for 1969.

1986 would have been thrown on the scrap pile of frustrations along with the end of the 1973 World Series, the trade of Seaver, the Scioscia homer in 1988, the bases loaded walk to end the 1999 NLCS, losing to the Yankees in the 2000 World Series, the called third on Beltran, the great collapse of 2007, the almost as great collapse of 2008...

All the while clinging to their lone moment of glory in 1969.

Kind of like the Jets do now, still waiting for that second great highlight to go with Joe Willy Namath running off the field, finger in the air.

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Sorry A-Rod... you weren't the MVP of the post season

Alex Rodriguez capped off a season that began with his marriage in shambles, a tell all book on the shelves, being caught lying to Katie Couric about his steroid use and becoming the new face of steroid users and denial.

He finished it a post season hero, beloved in New York getting his first ring.

(Take note Tiger Woods... the best way out of trouble is to win, win win!)

He was awarded The Babe Ruth Award as the MVP of the post season. And hey, he had a terrific post season... he hit a game tying homer in the Division Series and the LCS when the Yankees were 3 outs away from a huge home loss. And while his numbers weren't as eye popping in the World Series, he hit a game turning homer in the 3rd game and the 2 out game winning RBI double in Game 4.

He was terrific.

He wasn't the MVP of the post season.

Just as I felt that Hideki Matsui was not the MVP of the World Series, I feel the same person was cheated out of the Babe Ruth Award.

If any post season illustrated the importance of a reliable closer, it was the 2009 post season.

Had Joe Nathan not blown a save, the Twins would have gone back to the Metrodome tied 1-1 and with momentum.

Had Jonathan Papelbon not blown a save, the Red Sox would have stayed alive and maybe pull off yet another post season comeback.

Had Ryan Franklin not blown a save, the Cardinals would have come back to St. Louis with the series tied. (Yes I know Matt Holliday dropped the ball, but Matt Holliday didn't let the next 4 batters to reach!)

Had Huston Street not blown a save, the Rockies would have forced a game 5 against the Phillies with a shaky Cole Hamels taking the mound for the eventual NL Champs.

Had Brian Fuentes not blown a save, the Angels would have gone back to Anaheim with the series tied 1-1 and the whole complexion of the ALCS would have been different.

Had Brad Lidge held the Yankees scoreless in Game 4, the Phillies would have had a chance to tie the series at 2-2 with Cliff Lee pitching Game 5.

But they all did and all of their teams lost their series...

Only one closer escaped unblemished.

Maybe everyone takes him for granted... but no player in the post season was more valuable than Mariano Rivera.

I have a feeling even A-Rod believes that.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

What exactly is the Mets plan?

The Mets acquired Gary Matthews Jr from the Angels… and the Angels are paying 20 some odd million to go away.

Call me a cynic, but when a smart organization like the Angels forks over twenty million pigs to have someone off their team, then I don’t want them on my team.

There is a REASON they are doing it.

But the Mets say “Welcome to Flushing!” because, after Bengie Molina and Joel Pineiro said “Thanks but no thanks” it’s just nice to see ANYONE show up at CitiField.

So this grotesque off season continues for the Mets.

A team that has broken down the past few years with major injuries has decided the best way to deal with health problems is bringing in people like 33 year old Kelvim Escobar (he of 1 game over 2 years) Jason Bay (he with the shoulder and knee issues) and now 34 year old Gary Matthews Jr… a guy who for the first 7 years of his career played for 7 different teams (including 2 games with the 2002 Mets) and was the definition of mediocre.

Then he suddenly became an All Star in Texas where he turned that into a 5 year $50 million contract… and was of course linked to HGH.

The Angels got him where he was so bad that they needed to sign Torii Hunter to a contract to replace him with 4 years remaining on the deal.

That’s right, the Mets acquired a guy who has had 10 forgettable season and 1 terrific season linked to juicing.

And he’s in his mid 30s and prone to injury.

I bet the Angels are THRILLED to get him out of their clubhouse.

A week ago I said the Mets needed to blow the team up RIGHT NOW.

Not only do I feel it now more than ever, but I think this Mets team is heading towards a 1993 level disaster.

Lest we forget this wasn’t a pennant contender last year. This was a 92 loss team that is getting older, more injury prone and more contentious.

100 losses is not out of the question for this team.
If you are going to hit rock bottom, why not do it with a young team.

Instead they are going to do it with Gary Matthews Jr… and they may find out why it was worth $21.5 million to get rid of him.

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A Request from my Cousin Dave

I've mentioned my Cousin Dave before.

He's a huge Mets fan and a loyal reader of this blog.

I bet he is reading this sentence right now.

We were having one of our many e mail exchanges recently and I told him I was watching the 1973 World Series highlight film. (My brother Ted got me the World Series film collection for Christmas... a great present!)

Dave wrote me in an e mail that he wanted me to find a picture of Willie Mays complaining to the umpire after the controversial out call on Bud Harrleson in extra innings of Game 2.

And he was quite specific.

"Find a photo of that on the internet and email it to me. And not with him holding the batting helmet, I want the hands palm up to the heavens....."

And Lord help me I looked.

And I couldn't find one.

I found all sorts of strange stuff, including THIS, but no picture of Willie Mays, batting helmet off, palms up to the heaven from Game 2 of the 1973 World Series.

And it is up to Sully Baseball to solve this issue!

So I took my camera...

And then used the incredibly high tech process of pointing the camera at my computer screen. I just happened to have the 1973 World Series DVD still in my computer... and I snapped a few pictures.

Hey, this method worked on my 1979 World Series entry including the amazing shot of Don Stanhouse.

Then again, I was taking pictures of my HD TV... but that is nitpicking.

So, as per your request Dave, are pictures of Willie Mays, palms to Heaven, protesting the call at home plate.

And for the rest of the planet Earth, you now have these pictures on the internet, courtesty of your pal Sully.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Did Bengie Molina call Joel Pineiro?

After weeks of speculation that Bengie Molina was heading to Queens, he wound up going back to the Giants... for reasons that I listed earlier.

Well Joel Pineiro was supposed to be heading to the Mets... and he signed on with the Angels.

Now as Rob Neyer pointed out, who knows which Pineiro will show up to Anaheim, the pitcher with the ERA north of 5 in Seattle or the but kicker in St. Louis whose career was revived by the magical Dave Duncan.

Either way, he said thanks but no thanks to the Mets and moved on to the Angels.

It's been that kind of off season for the Mets. Even PITCHERS are forsaking them. They play in a pitchers park in the weaker hitting National League.

And Pineiro basically said "thanks Mets... but I'm going back to the league where I posted an ERA over 5.00 the last 2 and a half seasons I played there."

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bengie Molina is no dummy

Molina resigned with the Giants today and just about every report calls the move a surprise.

He's been negotiating with the Mets for what seems like all off season and his going to Queens seemed like a mere formality.

Instead he is heading back to China Basin for another year in Black and Orange.

Why is this a surprise?

If he were going to spend the year in a pitchers ballpark for a team in transition, why not go to the team whose front office ISN'T in turmoil?

Why not go to the team that ISN'T fighting with its star centerfielder over surgery?

Why not go to the team whose owner DIDN'T lose tons of money with Bernie Madoff?

Why not stay with the team whose geographical rival ISN'T the World Champions but instead is a team that plays in a football stadium and doesn't even broadcast all of their games?

Why not go to the team whose assistant GM ISN'T ripping his shirt off and picking fights with minor leaguers?

Why not go to the team that ISN'T playing in the same division as the two time defending National League Champs?

Why not go to the team that DOES have the 2 time defending Cy Young winner? His pot fine is paid. All is good.

In the end, staying with the Giants shouldn't have been a surprise at all.

Bengie Molina is no dummy. He knows the Mets are falling apart.

Maybe he read my post about the Mets needing to dismantle the team and decided to stay by the Bay.

Oh let me think that.

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Fantasy Owners... buy Chien-Ming Wang

I don't do Fantasy Baseball anymore. It is too time consuming and I am going to be spending lots of time on the internet looking up baseball things, it will be for my latest 25 man roster.

But I do offer this tip... buy Wang!

Chad Jennings at the LoHud Yankees Blog writes that the Cardinals are kicking the tires on Chien-Ming Wang.

Chad has no reason to lie to us.

This is great news for Cardinals fans. Wang is obviously talented and he's had a downfall for two seasons because of injury.

Enter pitching coach Dave Duncan.

Dave Duncan is a miracle worker. She is the Annie Sullivan to scores of Helen Kellers.

Joel Pinero? Chris Carpenter? Ryan Franklin? Kyle Loshe?
All turned things around under Duncan and that's just off the top of my head.

Wang will be cheap... and he'll win 15 games with an ERA under 3.50. You heard it here first.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

A Dream Team... in honor of Dr. King

On this Martin Luther King Day, I've decided to honor those great players who were denied a shot at the big leagues because of the color of their skin.

Of course before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, the so called logic of the day said black players were not as talented as the white players.

I guess it was a coincidence that in the 23 years after Jackie arrived, 16 of the National League MVPs were awarded to players who had Negro League experience.

So in the same spirit of my Home Grown vs. Acquired series from last year, I will write up the THE ALL TIME SHUT OUT OF THE MAJORS BECAUSE OF SEGREGATION roster.

There will be a starting line up plus a bench with reserve infielders, outfielders, a back up catcher, a top pinch hitter, 5 starters, 5 relievers and a 25th man who could be anything.

And like the Home Grown vs. Acquired, I will have a steadfast rule:

These are the greatest Negro League Players to have NEVER played in the Major Leagues. Now this means the most famous player from those mythical teams is eliminated: Satchel Paige.

Yes it is a tragedy that we never got to see Satchel face down Joe DiMaggio and Jimmie Foxx in his prime, but he did wind up playing in the bigs, winning a World Series ring and playing in a few All Star Games.

Also Negro League stars like Monte Irvin and Larry Doby got to play in the bigs along with the likes of Junior Gilliam, Hank Aaron and Ernie Banks.

That hard fast rule of "Never Playing in the Bigs" eliminates Luke Easter and Home Run Brown because of their cameos in the majors.

Sorry... I'm a hard ass for rules and there is no shortage of players who were denied even a glimpse of the show.

Also the great late Buck O'Neill deserves a salute and should have been a manager, but he did become a coach for the Cubs.

These are the men who were completely shut out.

They should be legends... and even though many are in the Hall of Fame, they are obscure to even a baseball lunatic like me.

Many of these legends were elected to the Hall of Fame... too many were put in posthumously.

And one thing is for sure... big league baseball was denied some amazing nicknames!

Let's salute them.



The tragedy of the Negro Leagues is no better personified than Josh Gibson.

Was he Babe Ruth's equal in power? Was he Mickey Cochrane's equal behind the plate? What team would he have led to the World Series?

What team would retire his number? What stadium would have his statue? Which slugger accused of steroids would be scolded "You passed Josh Gibson on the home run list... but Gibson was better!"?

Right now his reputation is almost legendary and sadly his accomplishments are shadowed in a 20th century mythology. Did he hit 800 homers? Did he hit a ball out of Yankee Stadium? We'll never know for sure.

He died months before Jackie Robinson made his Dodgers debut.

He was elected posthumously to the Hall of Fame.


A powerful left handed slugger, Leonard was the glue of the star studded Homestead Grays teams of the 1930s and 1940s. His teams won 9 straight pennants and he batted .391 in 1948.

He was evidently offered a big league contract in the 1950s, but he turned it down as he felt he was too old to compete in the big leagues.

He went on to play several more years in the minors and in Mexico.

Was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1972 and the Pirates honored him during the 1994 All Star Game at Three Rivers Stadium.


A clutch hitter and dazzling defender, Wells made up for his weak throwing arm by studying the hitters and mastering the art of positioning. He is also one of the pioneers as one of the first people to wear a batting helmet.

Why the hell am I putting "The Shakespeare of Shortstops" at second base? Well three reasons:

1. He needs to be in the starting line up.
2. The weak armed shortstop started at second base in the East West Game of 1945.
3. I wasn't going to bench Pop Lloyd.

He was elected posthumously to the Hall of Fame in 1997.

Shortstop - POP LLOYD

Considered to be a great situation hitter and smooth shortstop, he was nicknamed "The Black Honus Wagner."

Evidently Wagner was honored to be compared to Lloyd.

He played professionally over 4 decades (1906-1932) and along the way batted .343 to go along with his outstanding defense.

He played for 10 different teams including the 1910 Chicago Leland Giants, considered to be one of the best teams of all time. If only they had a chance to play the 1910 AL Champion A's or NL Champion Cubs.

He was elected posthumously to the Hall of Fame in 1977.


A terrific all around hitter, Johnson was never the power threat like Gibson or Leonard. But he was a scientific hitter who was consistently among the league leaders. He was a Wade Boggs of a previous generation.

Johnson was a member of the amazing 1935 Homestead Grays team that featured Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell, Josh Gibson and Oscar Charleston.

Was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1975.


One of the great power hitters in Negro League history, Stearnes also led the league in triples and used his deceptive speed in the outfield.

A .300 hitter in 14 seasons, Stearnes was employed by the Detroit Tigers' owner in his auto factory.

He was elected posthumously to the Hall of Fame and the Tigers have honored him with a plaque at Comerica Park.


No less of an authority than Buck O'Neill called Oscar Charleston the greatest player he ever saw. This was a man who scouted and signed Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Lou Brock... so he had a good eye.

Charleston was a top defensive outfielder who hit for power, hit for average. While Babe Ruth was tearing apart the majors in the 1920s, Charleston was doing the same in the Negro Leagues. And in exhibitions against white teams, the competitor in him would come out as he hit .318 and 11 homers in 53 games.

Both the Sporting News and Bill James listed him as one of the greatest ballplayers of any race ever. He would have become one of the legendary figures in baseball history... instead of an agonizing footnote.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame posthumously.

Right Field - COOL PAPA BELL

Satchel Paige had the line that Cool Papa was so fast that he could flip a switch and be in bed before the room was dark.

I assume that was an exaggeration. But his speed and longevity in the league suggest he was the Rickey Henderson of a previous generation. He was always among the league leaders in stolen bases, batting averages and run scored... making him the prototypical lead off man in any era.

Bill Veeck offered an aging Bell a contract with the Browns, but he turned it down, hoping it would go to a younger black player.

Was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1974.

Top Pinch Hitter Off Of The Bench - BOOJUM WILSON

No less of an authority than Satchel Paige called Boojum Wilson the hardest out he ever faced. A star over three different decades, Wilson was a steady .300 hitter and one of the Homestead Grays biggest stars during the 1930s and was the captain of the 1931 champion squad.

He hit .400 several times and was one of the most consistent third baseman during the Golden Age of the Negro Leagues.

His nickname was in reference to the sound his line drives made when they hit the wall.

A veteran of World War I, he is buried in Arlington Cemetery.

Elected posthumously to the Hall of Fame in 2006.


Starting Pitcher - BULLET JOE ROGAN

Known as Bullet Joe for his accuracy more than his speed, Rogan threw a variety of pitches and deliveries for an exceptional career. Rogan played for the Army baseball teams during World War I and returned to America to join the Monarchs.

Not only did he post big winning numbers and a low ERA, he also hit .400 in 1924 to lead the Monarchs to the pennant. Who needs a DH?

Also showed how terrific Negro League nicknames were. His name was Charles Wilber Rogan... yet he went by Bullet Joe!

He was elected posthumously to the Hall of Fame in 1998.

Starting Pitcher - LEON DAY

One of the great pitching stars in the 1940s, Day recorded a perfect season in 1937, posting a 13-0 record. He also hit .320 that season.

A great strikeout artist, he set the Negro League single game record of 18 in 1942.

He fought in World War II, landing on Utah beach in 1944. When he returned to America he was part of the 1946 champion Newark Eagles, the last Negro League champion before Jackie Robinson's Dodger debut.

He was still alive when he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1995, but died before the ceremony.

Starting Pitcher - WILLIE FOSTER

He was the half brother of Negro League star manager and innovator Rube Foster, but don't think there was any nepotism here.

He was a great left handed pitcher who won as a control artist and durability. In 1926, he started and won both games of a double header on the last day of the season to clinch the pennant. When the Negro Leagues began their East - West All Star Game, Foster was selected as the starting pitcher.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame posthumously in 1996.

Starting Pitcher - RAY BROWN

Through the 1930s and 1940s, Brown was one of the league's top pitchers. He dominated mainly with his deadly curve ball that he had the guts to throw in any count.

He showed his guts in another way. He married the daughter of Cumberland Posey, the owner and manager of the Homestead Grays.

Being part of the family meant he didn't jump from team to team like most Negro League stars did... and he kept on winning, including a shutout in the 1944 Negro League World Series and a perfect game in 1945.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame posthumously in 2006.


I'm not one for nicknames about people's race... but let's face it. El Diamante Negro.

The native of Cuba was not a tall man (he was 5'9"), but he dominated Cuban and Negro League teams in the 1900s and 1910s.

While in Cuba, white stars would face him in exhibition games... and he would mow them down. A's catcher Ira Thomas said he was close to Walter Johnson's equal. To this day, Johnson is mentioned as one of the great pitchers of all time.

It's safe to say El Diamante Negro could have held his own and then some.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame posthumously in 2006.



Known as the man who finished many of Satchel Paige's games, he seems a natural for the bullpen closer role.

But far from being a go-fer for the great Paige, Smith had wonderful pitching credentials of his own.

He was a 20 game winner in each of 12 seasons with the Monarchs, threw a no hitter in 1937 and went 25-1 in 1941.

He was elected posthumously to the Hall of Fame in 2001.

Right Handed Set Up Man - DAVID BARNHILL

One of the truly consistent pitching stars of the 1940s, Barnhill would frustrate hitters with a variety of motions and windups, and perhaps a bit more.

Barnhill was accused of scuffing the ball and cutting it. Whatever he did, it worked as he lead the New York Cubans to the 1947 Negro League title.

Later he was signed by a Giants minor league squad. Despite putting up all star caliber numbers in the minors, the Giants refused to bring him up. They had enough black players on the big league squad.

Left Handed Set Up Man - ANDY COOPER

A dominating left handed pitcher, Cooper would often start one game and relieve the next. He pitched to a .671 winning percentage and saved more games than any player in his league's history.

He pitched in organized segregated ball from 1920 to 1941 and went on to become a successful manager for the Kansas City Monarchs.

Was elected to the Hall of Fame posthumously in 2006.


Statistics from the Negro League era are hard to compare with the Big Leagues. Often times leagues played shorter schedules and other times there was nobody keeping score except taking note of the final score.

All that being said, in 1914, Williams went 41-3. I don't care who the competition is... that is an amazing mark.

Ty Cobb complimented him, saying he'd be a 30 winner easily in the majors. When the most notoriously racist player in baseball history tips his cap to a black man, it is worth noting!


Jackman wowed future big leaguers and major league legends alike with his pitching abilities. John McGraw wished he could sign him for the Giants and joked he'd give $50,000 to the man who could make Jackman white.

Jackman played most of his career for all black New England teams and was obscure even by the standards of the Negro Leagues.

Those who saw him claimed he was Satchel Paige's equal.

We'll never know for sure.


Reserve Infielder - RAY DANDRIDGE

A smooth fielding and power hitting third baseman, Dandridge was considered to be a superior talent to Jackie Robinson and was a candidate to break the color barrier.

Instead he toiled in the minor leagues, winning the league MVP in 1950, and never received a call to the Giants until he retired.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame in the 1980s. I remember reading the story about his election and his career in wonderful 1987 Sports Illustrated article.

Try reading the first few paragraphs without getting choked up.

Reserve Infielder -MARTIN DiHIGO

Future Hall of Famer Johnny Mize played winter ball in the Domincan Republic on an integrated team. Despite the fact that he was a fearsome slugger, pitchers would walk the batter ahead in order to face Mize.

Why? Because they didn't want to face DiHigo.

The incredible versatile DiHugo could play anywhere on the diamond. He hit .426 in 1926... the same year he led the league in homers.

Into the 1930s he also became a star pitcher. In 1938 he went 18-2 with an 0.90 in the Mexican League while batting .387. Not bad.

He also was a terrific chef. I told you he was versatile.

He was elected posthumously to the Hall of Fame in 1977.

Reserve Outfielder - MULE SUTTLES

One of the best power hitters in Negro League history, he once hit a ball in a game in Cuba that traveled about 600 feet.

He swung a massive 50 ounce bat and got his homers in bunches, getting three in one inning once.

Sabermetric fans would love his 1926 season where he hit .413 and slugged 1.000 for the season.

The slugger that got fans to chant "Kick Mule" was elected posthumously to the Hall of Fame in 2006.

Reserve Outfielder - CRISTOBAL TORRIENTE

Another native Cuban who was too dark skinned to play in the majors... so all he did was dominate the Cuban and Negro Leagues in the 1910s and 1920s.

A solid defender, he had a powerful left handed line drive swing. He batted .411 for the American Giants pennant winner in 1920. In 1926 he became a top hitter for the Monarchs.

And in the off season he would head off to Cuba and tear apart their pitching as well, out hitting Babe Ruth in a series of exhibition games.

The hard drinking and hard partying Torriente died in 1938 at age 44. 68 years after his death, he was elected to the Hall of Fame.

Reserve Catcher - BIZ MACKEY

Mackey played all over the diamond including being a .423 hitting infielder for the Hilldale Daiseys in 1923.

But in 1925 he settled behind the plate and led Hilldale to the championship over Kansas City with 3 hits in the clincher.

Considered to be the greatest catcher in the history of the Negro Leagues before the arrival of Josh Gibson, people who saw Mackey said he was Gibson's superior defensively.

He was elected posthumously to the Hall of Fame in 2006.


Theodore Roosevelt Radcliffe had one of the great nicknames in baseball and lived a great long life to go from stardom, to obscurity to adoration.

He played in the 1920s and 1930s with some of the great players of all time (including Josh Gibson and Oscar Charleston) on the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords.

He earned his nickname by being a solid catcher and starting pitcher, often catching one end of the double header and tossing a shutout on the other end.

And as a manager of an integrated off season team, he was the first known black man to manage white players.

He lived to be 103 years old, his biography written and was cheered in his later years as one of the great living legends of the Negro Leagues and, with Buck O'Neill, its greatest ambassador.


Foster would have made this roster as a pitcher... but it was as a manager and an innovator that he earned the title "Father of the Negro Leagues."

In 1905 as a pitcher he went 51-4 and out dueled Rube Waddell, earning his nickname.

He managed from 1907 to 1926 and no less of an authority than John McGraw would watch his games to get managing ideas.

Just imagine if the two managed head to head in the World Series.

That is quite a roster of players who could have changed baseball history forever.

And I write this list with all apologies to Newt Allen, Sam Bankhead, Jimmie Crutchfield, Frank Grant, Pete Hill, Dick Lundy, Uncle Bill Monroe, Dobie Moore, Bruce Petway, Spotswood Poles, Big Bertha Santop, Ted Strong, Ben Taylor, Quincy Trouppe and any other former Negro League star I may have left out... it's a tough roster to crack.

As I wrote in my piece about Jackie, Larry Doby and the talent pool, my fascination and frustration with segregation isn't simply about social justice. It's about BASEBALL!

Who would want to see post war baseball WITHOUT Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Roy Campanella, Bob Gibson, Frank Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Lou Brock, Reggie Jackson, Joe Morgan, Willie Stargell, Jim Rice, Rickey Henderson, Andre Dawson... etc etc etc?

You would think the likes of Joe Louis and Jesse Owens, both cheered as American heroes before World War II, would have opened up the possibility for integration earlier.

Then again, they played individual sports against a common enemy: Nazi Germany. In a team sport, they were taking the job of a white guy away.

Which brings up the question that can never be answered: What great baseball moments were we deprived?

Which stars could have led teams to the World Series and become beloved legends in their cities?

The Pirates have a plaque for Honus Wagner, the Tigers honor Ty Cobb, the Yankees honor Ruth, Gehrig et al...

Which team would have had a statue for Josh Gibson, listing the pennants won for their squad?

Which team would Cool Papa Bell have piled up stolen base titles for?

Would Bullet Joe Rogan get Babe Ruth swinging to end a World Series?

Would Satchel Paige in his prime had matched up against Dizzy Dean in his prime?

We'll never know...

But one thing is certain... these great players from a shadowy past deserve at least a quick salute and a read on line today.

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