Results tagged ‘ Dwight Gooden ’

Yankees obtain 3 more prospects for Beltran

On the day of the first Subway Series game in 2016, the best position player of those who spent time with both the Yankees and the Mets was on his way out of New York again. Carlos Beltran, the Yankees’ most productive hitter this season, followed the path of relief pitchers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller and was traded for three prospects.

Beltran was a major trade chip for the Yankees, particularly to American League clubs that could use him at designated hitter as well as in the outfield. The Rangers have been in need of added punch at the plate since Prince Fielder was lost for the remainder of the season due to a neck injury that required surgery.

Beltran will certainly provide that for Texas. At the age of 39 and despite nagging leg issues, Beltran hit .304 in 359 at-bats for the Yankees and led the team in hits (109), home runs (22) and runs batted in (64) and was tied for the club lead in doubles (21). He was an All-Star for the ninth time in his career and the first time as an American Leaguer.

Earlier this season, he reached 20 homers for the 12th time in his career (1999, 2001-04, ’06-08, ’11-13 and ’16), tied with former teammate Mark Teixeira for the fourth-most 20-homer seasons all time among switch-hitters. Eddie Murray had 16 such seasons, and Mickey Mantle and Chipper Jones 14 apiece. Beltran also became the second switch-hitter in major league history with a 20-homer season at age 39-or-older, joining Murray (21 homers at 39 in 1995 and 22HR at 40 in ’96).

Beltran was a five-time National League All-Star during his seven-plus seasons with the Mets. Only Darryl Strawberry rivals him as a major position player on both New York teams. The best pitcher who was on both clubs was David Cone, with Dwight Gooden a close second.

Of the four players the Yankees received in return for Beltran, the most promising is pitcher Dillon Tate, a righthander who was the Rangers’ selection in the first round (and the fourth overall pick) in the 2015 First Year Player Draft. The Yankees also got two other right-handed pitchers, Erik Swanson and Nick Green.

Tate, 22, was 3-3 with a 5.12 ERA (65.0IP, 37ER) in 17 games (16 starts) and 65 innings with Class A Hickory this year. He made his professional debut in 2015, posting a 1.00 ERA over six starts and nine innings with Hickory and short-season Class A Spokane. Entering the 2015 draft, Tate was tabbed by Baseball America as the top pitcher and third-best prospect overall. Following the 2015 season, the Claremont, Calif., native was ranked by the publication as baseball’s 69th-best prospect.

During his collegiate career at the University of California-Santa Barbara, Tate was named a 2015 Louisville Slugger All-America and UCSB’s first-ever Golden Spikes Award semifinalist after going 8-5 with a 2.26 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 14 starts and 103 1/3 innings as a junior. In 2014, he earned a spot on USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, recording three saves while posting a 0.79 ERA in 11 appearances. The highest selection ever out of UCSB, Tate is a product of Major League Baseball’s Urban Youth Academy in Compton, Calif., where he played in tournaments across the United States and Japan as a teenager.

Swanson, 22, was 6-4 with one save and a 3.43 ERA (81.1IP, 31ER) in 19 games (15 starts) and 81 1/3 innings with Hickory in 2016 and was a South Atlantic League mid-season All-Star. The Terrace Park, Ohio, native was originally selected by the Rangers in the eighth round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. Over three minor league seasons, he has combined to go 8-6 with two saves and a 3.52 ERA in 44 games (15 starts) and 120 innings.

Green, 21, was 2-2 with a 4.98 ERA in seven starts totaling 34 1/3 innings with Spokane in 2016. Originally selected by Texas in the seventh round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft out of Indian Hills Community College in Iowa, Green has posted a 6-8 record and 5.15 ERA in 31 career appearances (21 starts) and 108 1/3 innings over three minor league seasons. The Fountain, Colo., native was previously drafted by the Yankees in the 35th round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft but did not sign.

In another transaction designed towards the future, the Yanks traded pitcher Ivan Nova to the Pirates for two players to be named. The Yankees added relief pitcher Tyler Clippard, who they acquired from the Diamondbacks Sunday, to the 25-man roster and recalled pitcher Nick Goody and outfielder Ben Gamel from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi did not say who would replace Nova in the rotation. The candidates are Luis Severino and Chad Green. The manager was also unclear how he would replace Beltran.

“We lost the most important hitter in our lineup,” Girardi said. “This is a chance for young players to step up. I believe we can still win with the players in that room.”

Celebrity softball game to honor slain officers

“True Blue,” a celebrity softball game co-sponsored by the Yankees, WFAN Radio and its “Boomer and Carton Morning Show” to honor the memories of slain New York City police officers Brian Moore, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, will be played at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 3, at Yankee Stadium.

Tickets are priced at $12 and available at http://www.yankees.com/trueblue. All net ticket proceeds will benefit the Silver Shield Foundation, N.Y. PBA Widows’ and Children’s Fund and the families of officers Moore, Liu and Ramos. Those wishing to make a donation in lieu of purchasing tickets may do so by visiting the website.

Each fan attending the game will receive a voucher good for one complimentary grandstand or bleachers ticket or one half-price ticket in select general seating areas to select 2015 regular season home games excluding all premium games, subject to availability.

Quik Park and the Bronx Parking Development Corporation will offer parking at the reduced rate of $8 at their lots surrounding the Stadium. Lots will open two hours prior to the event and remain open for 1 hour after the event concludes.

Those scheduled to participate include former Yankees manager Joe Torre and pitcher Dwight Gooden; former Mets relief pitcher John Franco; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani; general manager Mike Maccagnan, head coach Todd Bowles and wide receiver Eric Decker of the Jets; Giants punter Steve Weatherford; Bills head coach Rex Ryan; former Steelers coach Bill Cowher; St. John’s head basketball coach Chris Mullin; Nets center Mason Plumlee; former Knicks John Starks, John Wallace and Anthony Bonner; Olympics gold medal-winning figure skater Sarah Hughes; CBS-2 anchors Kristine Johnson and Chris Wragge; actress Zosia Mamet and actor Evan Jonigkeit.

Yankees keep their manager for four more years

Well, that was quick. All things considered, the Yankees were fortunate to keep their manager in place in a relatively quick period of time during an off-season that promises to be busy. Surely a fourth year on the contract extension was a deal doer. Other clubs – notably the Cubs, Nationals and Reds – as well as a television network or two may have had designs on Girardi, but four-year contracts at seven figures per annum are hard to come by, so the Yankees were able to retain the guy they wanted to continue running the club before his current pact was to expire Oct. 31.

Girardi was deserving of the extension. Even with the World Series championship of 2009 at the top of his accomplishments, Joe’s effort with the 2013 Yankees may have been his best work. It certainly was his most arduous. With the abundance of injuries the Yankees had to deal with, just running out a healthy lineup every day was an ordeal for the manager.

Much was made in the media of Girardi’s Illinois background and ties to the Cubs as a fan while growing up and as a catcher as a player being a temptation for him to go off to Wrigley Field. On a conference phone hookup Wednesday, Girardi emphasized it was a family decision. Mom and the kids were A-OK with the Yankees and New York. The Girardi’s have made solid roots in Westchester County.

And let us not forget that Joe Girardi despite all the Cubs history has become a part of Yankees history as well. He fits in very well come Old Timers’ Day as a player who was part of three World Series championship clubs as a player (1996, ’98-99) as well as his one as a manager. He pointed out that in his conversation with the family that getting to manage in the same place for 10 years, which would be the case if Girardi fulfills the whole contract, is pretty special.

Over his first six years as Yankees manager the club has led the major leagues in home runs (1,236), ranked second in runs (4,884) and seventh in hits (8,836) and batting average (.265). The Yankees have also committed the fewest errors (484) over the span with a majors-best .986 team fielding percentage.

In 2013, Girardi did a good job getting the beaten-up Yankees to an 85-77 finish and third-place tie in the American League East with the Orioles. He got his 500th win as Yankees manager May 10 at Kansas City. The club made just 69 errors in 2013, the third-lowest total in the majors and tying the franchise record for fewest in a season (also 2010). Their .988 fielding percentage set a franchise record, fractionally better than their .988 mark in 2010.

In 2009, Girardi became the ninth Yankees manager to win a World Series, and just the fourth to do so in his postseason managerial debut, joining Casey Stengel (1949), Ralph Houk (1961) and Bob Lemon (1978). Girardi also joined Houk and Billy Martin as the only men to win World Series for the club as players and managers.

Girardi was named the 32nd manager of the Yankees Oct. 30, 2007, becoming the 17th Yankees manager to have played for the club and the fourth former Yankees catcher to skipper the team, joining Bill Dickey, Houk and Yogi Berra.

In 2006, Girardi was named National League Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America after guiding the Marlins to a 78-84 record in his first season as a big league manager. With the award, he matched the Astros’ Hal Lanier (1986) and the Giants’ Dusty Baker (1993) as the only managers to win the honor in their managerial debuts.

In 15 major-league seasons as a catcher, Girardi played for the Cubs (1989-92 and 2000-02), Rockies (1993-95), Yankees (1996-99) and Cardinals (2003) and batted .267 with 454 runs, 186 doubles, 36 home runs and 422 RBI in 4,127 at-bats over 1,277 games. He had a .991 career fielding percentage and threw out 27.6 percent of potential base stealers. Girardi was named to the National League All-Star team in 2000 with the Cubs.

With the Yankees, Girardi was behind the plate for Dwight Gooden’s hitter May 14, 1996 against the Mariners and David Cone’s perfect game July 18, 1999 against the Expos. In World Series Game 6 against the Braves in 1996, Girardi tripled in the game’s first run in a three-run third inning off Greg Maddux as the Yankees clinched their first championship since 1978 with a 3-2 victory. He has a .566 winning percentage with a 642-492 record as a manager and is 21-17 in postseason play.

Yanks end two of Dickey’s streaks

The Yankees ended R.A. Dickey’s string of one-hitters and his consecutive innings streak of no earned runs all in the same inning – the third – Sunday night. The righthander, who pitched one-hitters in his previous two starts, lost his chance for three in a row when Alex Rodriguez beat out an infield hit to third base, the Yankees’ second hit of the game.

And there would be more to come. The Yankees reached base regularly in the early going. They scored more runs in the third inning – four – than Dickey had allowed in a game in all but one of his 14 previous starts. He allowed eight runs in a 14-6 loss at Atlanta April 18 but no more than three runs in any other start.

Dickey worked out of trouble in the second inning when the Yankees loaded the bases with one out. Dickey put the first runner on with an error by dropping a toss from first baseman Justin Turner while covering first base. He then walked Nick Swisher and gave up a single to right by Raul Ibanez, but third base coach Rob Thompson held Mark Teixeira at third base. Dickey kept the ball in the infield after that by retiring Chris Stewart on a pop to second and CC Sabathia on a fielder’s choice.

One of the amazing aspects of Dickey’s remarkable season is his walks total – only 21 in 99 innings coming into this game, a terrific ratio for a knuckleball pitcher. The Yankees’ patience at the plate resulted in Dickey issuing three walks in the first three innings. A-Rod’s infield single was between walks as the Yankees again loaded the bases.

They have not done well when the bags are full this year (.181 entering play Sunday night), but they reversed that trend against Dickey. Teixeira scored Curtis Granderson with a sacrifice fly, a run that ended Dickey’s stretch of 44 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run, thereby leaving intact Dwight Gooden’s franchise mark of 49 such innings in 1985.

Swisher tore into a 2-1 knuckler and drove it over the right field wall for his 11th home run and a 4-0 Yankees lead. Before the game, Swisher talked about how he sometimes bats right-handed against knuckleball pitchers but that he would stay on the left side against Dickey because of the power aspect. Nine of Swish’s home runs have come while batting left-handed.

Dickey had another of his incredible achievements stopped in the fifth inning. After he hit Granderson with a pitch to begin the inning, Dickey was charged with a wild pitch while facing Rodriguez that allowed Granderson to take second base. It was the first wild pitch thrown this season by Dickey coming in his 104th inning, an astonishing feat for a knucleballer.

First timers enjoy Old Timers’ Day

I have come full cycle with Old Timers Day, one of the great traditions at Yankee Stadium where it all began with a day to honor Babe Ruth in 1947. The first one I attended was in the late 1950s and getting to see Joe DiMaggio, Bill Dickey, Lefty Gomez, Tommy Henrich, Red Ruffing and other stars of my parents’ generation’s youth. My father was actually a Giants fan when they still played in New York, but my mother’s family was all Yankees fans.

When I started covering the Yankees in the 1980’s, Old Timers’ Day was a favorite because I would not only get to see the Yankees stars of my youth such as Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Hank Bauer and Moose Skowron but also to talk to them. Bauer was one of the best interviews ever; blunt, outspoken, colorful.

One of my favorite stories came from Bauer’s old platoon partner, Gene Woodling. (Bauer, by the way, was not crazy about Casey Stengel, who platooned him early on in the outfield before he became the regular right fielder.)

Back to Woodling; he talked of a time when players were so worried about keeping their jobs that he played for about a week with a broken bone in his heel. It swelled so much, Woodling said, that he cut out the back of his cleat and spread black shoe polish on the heel so no one would notice and stayed in the lineup. Finally, Dickey, the Hall of Fame catcher who was then Casey’s first base coach, saw Woodling’s shoe with the big hole in it in his locker and told him that he needed treatment.

Think of something like that happened today when disabled lists are almost as big as rosters!

At Sunday’s Old Timers’ Day, I was reminded of the passage of time when I encountered so many players whom I covered when they broke into the majors – Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden and David Cone in my years on the Mets and Bernie Williams, Pat Kelly and Kevin Maas during my time with the Yankees. I had them as rookies, and now they’re Old Timers, so what does that make me.

Don’t answer that.

This was Bernie’s first Old Timer’s Day, and he was one of the big hits of the afternoon. He got a rousing ovation from the crowd during the introduction ceremonies. Fans were on their feet again when he doubled to the warning track in left-center in the two-inning Old Timers’ game. Then the Stadium really exploded when Bernie’s old teammate, Tino Martinez, popped a two-run home run to right off Cone, another old teammate.

I teased Bernie around the batting cage before the game after he had told writers that he still did not consider himself retired. “But I think that’s closer now,” he said.

I told him that the Baseball Writers’ Association of America was in the process of putting together the 2012 Hall of Fame ballot that will go out to voters in December, and that he would be on it; in other words, like it or not, Bernie, you’re retired.

He was asked during the press conference what his favorite memory from his playing career was. Williams could not limit it to just one and gave a very thoughtful answer.

“I would say that three things stick out – winning our first World Series championship in 1996, winning the batting title in 1999 and being on the field before the last game at the old Stadium,” he said. “I got announced after Yogi, which was pretty cool.”

Bernie officially joined the pantheon of Yankees legends Sunday, and he sounded proud of it.

“It’s a really big thing for me,” he said. “If you take the word ‘old,’ I think I’d be a little uncomfortable with it. But when I was playing, I looked forward to these days. To me, it was a reminder of the fact that we’re part of a family that has been going on for 100 years, and thinking I was part of something that was bigger than myself. And now I’m on the other side, being in the same situation, so it’s good. It’s great. I’m just really proud of this organization. When I chose to stay and have my whole career as a Yankee, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.”

Also back for the first Old Timers’ Day appearance were former managers Lou Piniella and Joe Torre. “Sweet Lou,” who served the Yankees in nearly every category there is (players, coach, manager, general manager, broadcaster) put on the pinstripes for the first time since 1988. He had been busy elsewhere after that, winning a World Series with the Reds in 1990 and helping to build the Mariners into a viable franchise.

The pinstripes looked good on Torre, too, even while wearing a sling after recently undergoing right rotator cuff surgery. The man who won six American League pennants, four World Series and had the Yankee in post-season play all 12 of his seasons as manager had been invited before but was unable to attend because he was managing the Dodgers. Joe is now vice president for baseball operations in the commissioner’s office, but it is not really a desk job as he gets to spend a lot of time in ballparks.

With Jack McKeon (Marlins) and Davey Johnson (Nationals) back in big-league dugouts, I was curious if that gave either Lou or Joe the itch to return.

“There comes a time when you have to walk away, and I knew last year was that time for me,” Piniella said. “It was the same when I was a player. I was never one who wanted another at bat.”

“I was shopping with my wife recently,” Torre said, “and she told me how strange it was that here we were in the middle of a baseball season together and I wasn’t stressed out. I don’t miss all that stress.”

Both proudly wore rings linking them to their Yankees careers – Lou the World Series ring of 1977 and Joe of 1996. Those were the first championships for each.

“You never forget the first time,” Joe said on a day at Yankee Stadium that never gets old.

Gates for Sunday’s Old Timers’ Day open at 10 a.m.

Fans planning to attend Sunday’s 65th annual Old Timers’ Day are encouraged to get to Yankee Stadium early. Gates will open at 10 a.m. with the Old Timers’ Day ceremonies to start at 11:30 a.m., followed by the traditional, two-inning Old Timers’ Day game. The regularly scheduled inter-league game between the Yankees and the Rockies will have a first pitch of 2:20 p.m. The entire day’s activities will be cablecast on the YES Network.

Bernie Williams and former managers Lou Piniella and Joe Torre will be making their Old Timers’ Day debuts. “Sweet Lou” will be putting on a Yankees uniform for the first time since 1988. Torre, whose Yankees teams defeated Piniella’s Seattle Mariners in the 2000 and 2001 post-seasons, is still active in the game as Major League Baseball’s vice president for baseball operations.

They will be among 50 former Yankees on hand for the ceremonies. Other headliners among returning Old Timers will be Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson and Goose Gossage, plus the perfect game trio of Don Larsen, David Wells and David Cone. The Yankees will also hold a special tribute honoring long-time team trainer Gene Monahan, who will retire at season’s end after 49 years of service to the organization.

In addition, players and coaches from Yankees championship teams of the past will include Dr. Bobby Brown, Jerry Coleman, Moose Skowron, Luis Arroyo, Homer Bush, Brian Doyle, Cecil Fielder, Joe Girardi, Dwight Gooden, Ron Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Tino Martinez, Lee Mazzilli, Ramiro Mendoza, Gene Michael, Jeff Nelson, Graig Nettles, Joe Pepitone, Mickey Rivers, Charlie Silvera, Darryl Strawberry, Mel Stottlemyre and Roy White.

Joining the Hall of Famers and other former Yankees on the baselines will be the widows of five legendary Yankees – Arlene Howard (Elston), Helen Hunter (Jim “Catfish”), Jill Martin (Billy), Diana Munson (Thurman) and Kay Murcer (Bobby).

Bernie an Old Timer? He will be June 26th

Are you ready to consider Bernie Williams an old timer? Well, get used to it. Bernabe will make his first appearance on Old Timers’ Day when Yankees alumni gather for the 65th annual event Sunday, June 26, at Yankee Stadium.

Also making their Old Timers’ Day debuts will be former managers Lou Piniella and Joe Torre. “Sweet Lou” will be putting on a Yankees uniform for the first time since 1988. Torre, whose Yankees teams defeated Piniella’s Seattle Mariners in the 2000 and 2001 post-seasons, is still active in the game as Major League Baseball’s vice president for baseball operations.

They will be among 50 former Yankees on hand for the ceremonies that begin at 11:30 a.m., followed by the traditional, two-inning Old Timers’ game. The current Yankees will play the Colorado Rockies in an inter-league game starting at 2 p.m. The entire day’s activities will be aired exclusively on the YES Network.

Other headliners among returning Old Timers will be Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson and Goose Gossage, plus the perfect game trio of Don Larsen, David Wells and David Cone. The Yankees will also hold a special tribute honoring long-time team trainer Gene Monahan, who will retire at season’s end after 49 years of service to the organization.

In addition, other players and coaches from Yankees championship teams of the past will include Dr. Bobby Brown, Jerry Coleman, Moose Skowron, Luis Arroyo, Homer Bush, Brian Doyle, Cecil Fielder, Joe Girardi, Dwight Gooden, Ron Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Lee Mazzilli, Ramiro Mendoza, Gene Michael, Jeff Nelson, Graig Nettles, Joe Pepitone, Mickey Rivers, Charlie Silvera, Darryl Strawberry, Mel Stottlemyre and Roy White.

Joining the Hall of Famers and other former Yankees on the baselines will be the widows of five legendary Yankees – Arlene Howard (Elston), Helen Hunter (Jim “Catfish”), Jill Martin (Billy), Diana Munson (Thurman) and Kay Murcer (Bobby).

Alumni of both teams in the house

Yankees relief pitcher Luis Ayala and catcher Gustavo Molina, who started the season with the Yankees but is now at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, brought to 111 the total of players who have spent time with both the Yankees and the Mets. Several of those former players were on hand Friday night at the first Subway Series of 2011 at Yankee Stadium.

David Cone and Al Leiter, who wore both uniforms during their career and opposed each other in the 2000 World Series, were in the YES booth working the cablecast with Michael Kay. Lee Mazzilli, coordinator for special projects with the Yankees, was also on duty as he is for every home game. Enjoying the game in one of the suites were Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden.

Bob Feller, American legend

There is a great void in baseball now that Bob Feller has left us. He was a Hall of Famer more than half of his life, a distinction for which he took great pride. Somehow, Induction Weekend in Cooperstown will never be the same.

Feller, fallen by leukemia at the age of 92, represented the epitome of the American Dream, the Iowa farm boy who made it to the big leagues before he graduated from high school and became one of the icons of an era depicted so memorably in Tom Brokaw’s book, “The Greatest Generation.”

Of all his accomplishments – and there were many – Feller was most proud of the four years he served in the United States Navy as a gunner on the U.S. Alabama during World War II. It cost him four precious seasons at the height of his pitching career, but he never regretted a single day he devoted to his country.

I remember his appearance at the 1986 New York Baseball Writers Dinner when he did me a huge favor. That year, Yankees first baseman Don Mattingly and Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden were co-winners of our Sid Mercer Award for the player of the year. The original plan was to have Stan Musial present the award to Mattingly and Feller to Gooden.

The day of the dinner, Musial’s plane was re-routed to Albany due to fog in New York that forced the three metro airports to close for several hours. I offered Stan a private car to come down to Manhattan, but he declined. “I don’t know how old you are, Jack, but I’m 65, and three hours in a car is not something I’m comfortable with anymore,” The Man said.

I thanked him and told him he should just go back home. Less than an hour later, I found out that Gooden couldn’t come, either. Just a couple of hours before the dinner, I had lost two marquee attractions. Mattingly and Feller had come to New York the night before, so I knew we still had them. The idea now was to ask “Rapid Robert” to present the award to “Donnie Baseball.”

Prompt as usual, Feller was the first to arrive in the dais room an hour before the dinner. I explained my dilemma and asked him if he would give the award to Mattingly.

“I’d be honored to,” he said. “Just do me two favors. One, write down some of Donnie’s statistics; I know he had a helluva year, but I don’t know the exact numbers. Two, make sure in your introduction of me that you mention my four years’ service in the Navy in World War II. Nothing I have done in my life is more important than that.”

My father and uncle were at a table up front with Anne, Feller’s wife, and got pretty friendly during the dinner. The last award presentation was Mattingly’s, and I introduced Bob with emphasis on his war record. At that point, Anne leaned over to my father and uncle and said, “He made that poor boy say that.”

Several years later, I did a piece in the Hartford Courant on Feller in connection with the Hall of Fame honoring World War II veterans. He had just come home from a tour of Okinawa where he had served in the war. I figured he was suffering from jet lag and suggested we do the interview when he was more rested.

“Come on, O’Connell, let’s do it now; I’ll have plenty of time to rest when my eyes close for good,” he said and spent the next 90 minutes detailing every step of his tour of duty in the Pacific.

Feller was proudest of the fact that he was the first major league player to enter the armed services after Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese fleet. Another Hall of Famer, Hank Greenberg, also lay claim to being the first, but Feller said, “I checked it out; I beat Hank by about half an hour.”

Here’s the rub. At the time of Bob’s enlistment, his father had terminal cancer. As the sole support of his family, Bob Feller could have been excused from serving in the war, but he felt it was his duty. Think for a minute what his career statistics would have looked like had Feller not joined the Navy and played in those four seasons from 1942 through ’45.

Considering the shape of many of the war-depleted lineups in the early 1940s, Feller might have had seasons of 30-plus victories. Heck, he might have even challenged Jack Chesbro’s 1904 record of 41 victories. Since Feller had pitched in 44 games in 1941, it is conceivable that a 41-win season might not be out of the question. I have a feeling, however, that Feller would have never been able to live with the asterisk that might have been attached to all those victories against hollow lineups.

He had a tremendous career anyway with three no-hitters, including the only Opening Day no-no in 1940, and 12 one-hitters and a ring from the 1948 World Series, still the most recent championship by the Indians. He remains the greatest player in the history of that franchise, which was a charter member of the American League in 1901.

When he and Jackie Robinson were elected to the Hall of Fame in 1962, they were the first to do so in their first year on the ballot since the original class of 1936: Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson.

No one wore his Hall of Fame stature more gallantly. Here are some thoughts on Feller from his Hall teammates:

Bobby Doerr: “Bob was just a regular, solid person. He was the same guy, all the time. He gave his opinions and he said what he thought. He didn’t hedge around anything. He was one of the top pitchers I saw in my time. He was timed at 100 miles per hour, and he had a real good curve ball. You had to always be alert with him. He was a real competitor.”

Gaylord Perry: “I really enjoyed Bob’s company, and hearing his stories about history – from baseball to war and everything else, from out of the cornfields to the major leagues. He did so much for baseball and had so many great stories, particularly about barnstorming and his memories of players like Cool Papa Bell and Satchel Paige. I was very fond of Bob. I traveled to his Museum in Van Meter to support his Museum. I consider Bob a great American.”

Cal Ripken Jr.: “The passing of Bob Feller is a great loss for the game of baseball. Clearly Bob was one of the greatest pitchers in history, and anyone who knew him understood that he was one of the game’s great personalities as well. That said, baseball didn’t define Bob. His service to our country is something that he was very proud of and something we are all grateful for. Bob lived an incredible life, and he will be missed.”

Nolan Ryan: “I am deeply sorry to hear of the passing of Bob Feller. He was baseball’s top power pitcher of the 1940s and 1950s and was a source of inspiration for all Americans for his service during World War II. He was a true Hall of Famer.”

Dennis Eckersley: “Bob was truly a great American and a great ambassador for the game of baseball.”

Hall of Fame board chairman Jane Forbes Clark: “We are all saddened to hear of the passing of Bob Feller. He represented the National Baseball Hall of Fame longer than any individual in history, as 2011 would have been his 50th year as a Hall of Fame member. No one loved coming back to Cooperstown more than Bob, which he and Anne did often. Bob was a wonderful ambassador for the Hall of Fame, always willing to help the Museum. Watching him pitch just shy of his 91st birthday at the Hall of Fame Classic in Cooperstown will be a memory that we will always treasure. He will always be missed.”

Hall president Jeff Idelson: “The Baseball Hall of Fame has lost an American original – there will never be anyone quite like Bob Feller ever again. He was truly larger than life – baseball’s John Wayne – coming out of the Iowa cornfields to the major leagues at age 17 and then dominating for two decades. Bob loved being a member of Baseball’s Hall of Fame, but he was most proud of his service as a highly decorated soldier in the Navy in the Pacific during World War II. He reached the pinnacle of individual achievement in 1962, earning enshrinement in Cooperstown, spending more than half his life as a Hall of Fame member.&nbs
p; He probably flew more miles, signed more autographs, met more people and visited more places than anyone, a testament to his ceaseless zest for life, baseball and country. Cooperstown will never be the same without Rapid Robert.”

That’s for sure.

Cy Young holiday for Halladay

No American League club was happier to see Roy Halladay cross over into the National League this year than the Yankees. The one bad thing for the Yanks about Halladay going from the Blue Jays to the Phillies was that it triggered Philadelphia trading Cliff Lee back to the AL with the Mariners.

But it was good riddance for Halladay, who regularly thumped the Yankees to the tune of 18-7 with a 2.98 ERA, seven complete games (including three shutouts) and 195 strikeouts in 38 appearances (36 starts) covering 253 1/3 innings. Halladay did not find the new Yankee Stadium to his liking. He was 1-1 with a 6.16 ERA there in 2009 after having gone 7-4 with a 2.97 ERA in the old Stadium.

Halladay had a remarkable first season in the NL this year and was rewarded Tuesday by winning the Cy Young Award. He became the fifth pitcher to win the award in both leagues, having won in the AL with Toronto in 2003, and the 16th multiple winner.

The righthander was in Mexico on vacation when he received word of his election. I had the opportunity to tell him how popular he is in press boxes throughout North America because it is an extremely pleasurable experience to watch him pitch. He is a pro’s pro with no wasted motion and a focus that is sadly lacking among starting pitchers of this period.

“That’s very satisfying to hear,” the man called “Doc” said. “I hope the fans feel the same way.”

Halladay was the 13th unanimous choice in NL voting as he received all 32 first-place votes from two writers in each league city to score a perfect 224 points, based on a tabulation system that rewards seven points for first place, four for second, three for third, two for fourth and one for fifth. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America expanded the Cy Young Award ballot from three to five pitchers this year.

Halladay, 33, posted a 21-10 record with a 2.44 ERA in 33 starts and led the league in victories, innings (250 2/3), complete games (9) and shutouts (4) and was second in strikeouts (219). He pitched a perfect game May 29 at Miami in a 1-0 victory over the Marlins. Balloting takes place prior to the start of post-season play, so his no-hitter over the Reds in Game 1 of the NL Division Series was not a factor in the voting.

Cardinals righthander Adam Wainwright (20-11, 2.42 ERA), who finished third in 2009, was the runner-up with 122 points based on 28 votes for second, three for third and one for fifth. Rockies righthander Ubaldo Jimenez (19-8, 2.88 ERA) was third with 90 points. Halladay, Wainwright and Jimenez were the only pitchers named on all the ballots. Righthanders Tim Hudson (17-9, 2.83 ERA) of the Braves and Josh Johnson (11-6, 2.30 ERA) of the Marlins rounded out the top five. In all, 11 pitchers received votes.

Halladay joined the company of Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Gaylord Perry as Cy Young Award winners in both leagues. Clemens won six in the AL (1986, ’87 and ’91 with the Red Sox; 1997 and ’98 with the Blue Jays; 2001 with the Yankees) and one in the NL (2004 with the Astros). Johnson won four in the NL (1999 through 2002 with the Diamondbacks) and one in the AL (1995 with the Mariners). Martinez won two in the AL (1999 and 2000 with the Red Sox) and one in the NL (1997 with the Expos). Perry won one in the AL (1972 with the Indians) and one in the NL (1978 with the Padres).

Unanimous winners in the NL were Sandy Koufax all three times he won and Greg Maddux twice among his four victories, along with Johnson, Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, Rick Sutcliffe, Dwight Gooden, Orel Hershiser and Jake Peavy. There has been a unanimous winner in the AL eight times: Clemens, Martinez and Johan Santana twice each, Denny McLain and Ron Guidry.

It marked the seventh time a Phillies pitcher won the award, including Carlton four times. The other winners from Philadelphia were John Denny and Steve Bedrosian. In addition to Koufax, Maddux, Carlton, Clemens, Martinez, Johnson, Perry, Gibson, McLain and Santana, other pitchers to have won the award more than once were Tom Seaver and Jim Palmer three times each, Bret Saberhagen, Tom Glavine and Tim Lincecum twice apiece.

Halladay is in pretty heady company and deserves to be.