It has been a rough weekend for me as I attended a couple of memorials for friends of mine who passed away recently. On the way to the second one for Jack Brenner today I did manage to listen to the radio broadcast of today’s Mariners- Padres game featuring the soothing voice of young Aaron Goldsmith recently brought up from Triple A Pawtucket to call games this year with Rick Rizzs. Jack was a great baseball fan and like myself was a former jock, if he were still with us he would appreciate the photo above which includes my grandfather Gordon Rhodes in St. Petersburg Florida in the early going of spring training 1932
Life has its rhythm, birth and death, winter and eventually spring which heralds the advent of a new season of baseball our national pastime and with it the battles for jobs featuring rookies and aging veterans plays out in front of the lucky few who make the pilgrimage to Spring Training each year. As you can guess I usually root for the veterans to hang on for one more season as I gradually move into my Golden Years! So I was glad to hear that Raul Ibanez hit a three-run home run off former teammate Freddy Garcia in the first inning today in the Mariners a to three victory over the Padres. Garcia made his debut with the Mariners in 1999 when Ibanez was enjoying his first stint with the Mariners, and the old warhorse is struggling to find a home with the Padres, sadly today’s outing didn’t help his case much as he gave up five runs four of them earned and also hit a batter. But at lbanez had a good day going two for three as he like veteran Jason Bay who homered this weekend try to rekindle the magic in their swings in order to make the 25 man roster. Young right-hander Erasmo Ramirez made his first start of the spring, throwing one inning of one-hit ball; Ramirez saw limited action and only threw 15 pitches today.
Left-hander James Paxton also gave up a lone single his one inning of work in the second. Closer Tom Wilhelmsen topped out it 96 mph on the radar gun when he threw a hitless third inning. The Mariners ended up taken two of three from the Padres and will play the Angels tomorrow at 12:05 PM Peoria in a game that will feature veteran right-hander Jeremy Bonderman who hasn’t pitched since 2010 when he was with the Tigers, Bonderman is coming back from shoulder and elbow injuries and is another interesting guy to watch as he tries to make the club.
In other news apparently the Seattle Times is going to begin charging for online news beginning next month. As we all know with the advent of the Internet lots of newspapers have either gone under or like the Times begun to charge for subscriptions. It is kind of sad to watch Seattle go from a two newspaper town down to one, and now we will have to pay to read about the Mariners on Geoff Baker’s Blog. I suppose on the upside it may drive a little traffic my way to Jeff’s Mariners Fan Blog, where in this case creating and publishing this blog may cost me a few bucks but it is certainly a labor of love. Thanks for the memories Jack…. Go Mariners!http://jeffsmariners.com
Tags: Aaron Goldsmith Mariners announcer, Freddy Garicia Padres, Gordon Rhodes Yankees, Historical Baseball, Jeff's Mariners Fan Blog, Raul Ibanez Home run, Seattle Times Geoff Baker, Spring 2013, Yankees St. Petersburg Spring Training
Since the Boston Red Sox are coming to Seattle this weekend for a three game series against the Mariners this weekend I started rummaging through the scrapbook that I inherited from my Mom Suzanne who would have been 79 this week and found this old photo of the 1934 Red Sox. The players from left to right are Max Bishop, Gordon Hinkle, Lefty Grove, My Grandfather Gordon Rhodes, Henry Johnson and Bill Cissell. The 1934 Red Sox moved into a rebuilt Fenway Park after the new owner Tom Yawkey took over.The new Fenway II featured the infamous Green Monster which replaced what was previously called “Duffys Cliff” a 10 foot high embankment. Yawkey also hired Stanley “Buck” Harrison a future Hall of Famer to manage his club that year which turned out to be Harrison’s only year managing in the Majors.
Though Mr. Yawkey had obtained another future Hall of Famer Lefty Grove in the off-season from the Athletics, The Opening Day pitcher in 1934 was my grandfather Gordon “Dusty” Rhodes. 1934 proved to be the best year of Dusty’s eight year Major League career as he went 12-12 with a 4.56 era and threw 10 complete games in his 219 innings of work. Wearing #11 Rhodes was a workhorse for the BoSox that year who finished in fourth place going 75-76 in their new stadium. He was 26 years old and in his prime when he took the mound that year leading all MLB pitchers with a 1000% fielding percentage. This was the sort of season everyone had been waiting for when Rhodes was purchased by the Yankees from the Hollywood Stars after the 1928 season where the young righ hander who thre smoke went 17-10 in the PCL. The Yankees however traded him to the Red Sox in the middle of the 1932 where he went on to post a record of 34-54 from 1932-35 before being traded to the Athletics along with $150,00 and Goerge Savino for Jimmie Fox and Johnny Marcum. Fox put up huge numbers with Boston as part of his Hall of Fame career.
The photo above shows a group of guys like my Grandfather who were making a living playing a game they loved in the middle of the Great Depression. Dusty made $6000 in 1934 and apparently sustained some sort of injury to his arm around this time that prevented him from having much success in his final two years after the good year in 1934. He managed to kick around in the minors until 1939 when his throwing arm gave-out for good at age 31. After that he held a series of menial jobs until he passed in 1960 broke and forgotten since players in that era had no Union and the richly deserved pension that players get today.
I suppose this article is not of much interest to most of you out there who were hoping to read about the Mariners but my love for the game as a player, coach and now Blogger runs deep thanks to my Grandfather “Dusty” Rhodes. So I thought I would share this small piece of the long and rich tradition of the Boston Red Sox with all of you before the series starts against the modern day Red Sox juggernaut this weekend at the Safe. Sometimes I write this Blog for myself….Go M’s http://jeffsmariners.com
As many of you know by know by now former Mariners manager Dick Williams passed away yesterday at age 82. At first I did not think much about this but today I was struck with a wave of memories associated with the Hall of Fame manager and what he meant to the game including his brief stint here in Seattle at the end of his managing career. Seattle was and still may be considered the last house on the block as far as baseball careers go back in the 80′s when me and 5 or 6 thousand other loyal fans used to attend games in the Kingdome.
I recall when Dick Williams was hired in 1986 to replace Chuck Cottier after a miserable start and the buzz around town of having someone with the stature of Dick Williams coming to save our struggling franchise (sound familiar?). Williams spent 13 years a player mostly as a utility man before retiring in 1964. He got his first shot at manging in 1965 with the Red sox AAA team the Toronto Maple Leafs and found himself managing the Red Sox in 1967 taking them to the World Series before eventually losing that series.
Williams had a reputation as a hard-nosed authoritarian type manager who owners loved for his ability to turn-around clubs though the modern day players were not to happy with his style towards the end of his managing career which may have led to his release here in Seattle during the 1988 season. Williams will best be remembered for taking his 1972-3 Oakland A’s to the World Series and winning it all both years. He also managed to get the 1984 San Diego Padres to the Big Dance in 1984 though they were unable to seal the deal that year under Williams.
I clearly recall seeing Williams sitting on the bench with his flock of white hair from my vantage point up in the 300 level at the old Kingdome and remembering him being aloof and somewhat detached from his players in an old-school way.The Mariners did finish the 1987 season at 78-84 under Williams which at the time was quite an achievement here in Mayberry with skyscrapers. But alas the old warrior was fired in June of 1988 in what turned out to be his last gig as a Big League manager. Williams did keep his fingers in the game including working as a special consultant for George Steinbrenner but his era had come and gone and you could see it on his face from his perch in the dugout at the old Kingdome.
For me Dick Williams is another of those figures that stayed in the game long enough to bridge several generations giving continuity to the game. By the time he was drafted in 1947 by the Brooklyn Dodgers my Grandfather Gordon Rhodes had been out of baseball for 10 years. So it is not to big of a leap for me to connect my life all the way back to the 30′s with guys like Williams bridging the gaps. I am pretty sure that I am the only current Mariners Blogger that saw Dick Williams manage in person so I felt it would be appropriate to say something about this great Baseball icon and the rough and tumble era he personified in his 40 years in the game. Rest in Peace Dick, they don’t make them like you anymore….Go M’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
I’m trying to get back in the swing of things after missing most of last week for work then returning home this weekend for a couple of rain-outs. Not much to say about the Mariners other than this last road-trip was a complete disaster that not even the smiley faces on ROOT Sports could turn into something positive. I was also greeted with the news that David Aardsma may be out for a lot longer than first thought which coupled with the recent melt-down by League is not at all promising considering the bullpen was a bright spot on this team a week or so ago.
I feel compelled to say something about Harmon Killebrew the 74 year-old ex-Twins slugger who announced a few days ago that he is no longer going to keep his fight up with cancer and instead will go into a hospice situation so he can be with his family in his last days. I remember Killebrew when I was a kid in the 60′s as he was always putting up big home run numbers and still stands at #11 all-time with his 576 bombs. “Killer” Killebrew was the AL MVP in 1969 and had 49 homers and 140 RBI’s that year though his Twins went on to lose to Baltimore in the ALCS that year.
Harmon Killebrew who grew-up in Idaho, played from 1954 till 1975 starting out with the Washington Senators before they moved to Minnesota and became the Twins, and played his final year in 1975with the Kansas City Royals. I remember as a young lad occasionally seeing him on Saturday mornings with Curt Gowdy announcing the games. He seemed to always take a full swing at the plate and was feared by the opposing pitchers though in every day life Killebrew was a great guy.Killibrew had 380 homers at age 31 and was ahead of Babe Ruth at the time making him the favorite around baseball at the time to go on to break Ruth’s record, but his numbers fell off after 1970 leaving him in the # 3 spot when he retired. It is sad to watch another of my boyhood idols fading away but I take comfort in the fact that the team will be wearing 1960′s throwback jerseys for the rest of the home games that the Twins have this year. Thanks for the memories Harmon and say hello to all the other HOF’ers when you get up there! http://jeffsmariners.com
Willie Howard Mays Jr. was born on May 6, 1931 to “Cat” Mays and Annie Satterwhite and grew up in the mill towns outside Birmingham Alabama, today marks the 8oth birthday of my boyhood idol who will always be the greatest all-around baseball player in my book. With 3,283 hits,660 home runs,and 338 stolen bases to go along with his passion for the game and flair for the dramatic leave Mays’ legacy rests in a special place in the Baseball history books along with guys like Ruth, Gehrig, Ty Cobb and Ted Williams as iconic figures from a different time in America.
But despite his awesome offensive numbers, Mays will probably always be remembered most for ” the Catch” in the 1954 Word Series vs. the favored Cleveland Indians. Check out the You tube video of Mays running full speed into the depths of the old Polo Grounds in New York catching the ball over his shoulder, planting his foot, and finally throwing a strike to the infield to prevent a run from scoring, it still seems surreal every time I watch the clip above.
Mays grew up in the Deep South and never wanted to work in the factories where men like his Dad worked and thanks to the gifts of speed, agility, timing and gut instincts, Mays made it from his humble background on to the big stage of New York City in 1951, a city that Mays would start out with the NY Giants, and end his career with the NY Mets in 1973.
Willie who got his big hands from his mother and started playing ball young thanks to the help of his father Cat who according to boyhood friend Herman Boykin “Cat was an indocrinator. On a daily basis, he kept saying to Willie, You can do this! He wanted Willie tto be self-sustaining so he wouldn’t have to work in the Mills”. By the time Willie was 10 he was allowed to sit on the bench with his Dad who played in what was then called the ” Industrial League” Mays was then first exposed to grown men playing the game for keeps and with the flair and bravado that was indicative of Black men of the era both in the Industrial Leagues as well as in the Negro leagues where Mays played later on.
I recall as a young boy going to Giants games at Candlestick Park in the 60′s after my family moved there from Seattle for a period of time. I was in my formative years at the time and was playing as much baseball as I could while following the Giants in those agonizing years as they always seemed to come up a little short of winning the NL Pennant year after year. But there was always Willie Mays… I can still remember the electricity that would spread through the stands when Mays came to the plate fidgeting and waving his bat around. The closest thing I can compare it to is what the old Kingdome felt like when Ken Griffey Jr. came to the plate when he was in his prime.
Willie Mays lived a charmed existence on the field but the “Say Hey” kid had other disappointments in his personal life. His first marriage ended badly with a painful public divorce and Mays seemed to always have financial problems, partially due to bad financial advice and partially due to his desire to live the good life with fancy cars and sharp clothes. He also was accused by some other blacks of sort of being an “Uncle Tom” and not being out in front in the civil rights movement more in the turbulent 60′s. Mays preferred a more low-key approach to matters and on September 27 1966 as riots were flaring in nearby Hunters Point , Mays went on the radio to announce the Giants game in Atlanta was going to be on the air that night and due to his moral authority in the Black community the riots were squelched according to the chief of police Tom Cahill.
Willie Mays enjoyed his privacy and remained an enigma for most of his life as well as a hero and icon for young boys like me who learned thanks to Willie and my West Coast parents to look past the color of a mans skin , especially if he played like Willie Mays. I will always be grateful for that era in my life when the most important lessons like sportsmanship, hustle, and grit were instilled in me thanks to my folks and the bigger than life Willie Mays. Mays got to star in the 1954 World Series which the NY Giants won, but once the Giants moved to San Francisco he never got to experience that thrill again though they came close in 1962 when the Yankees beat the Giants in 7 games.So I am happy that Willie got a chance to watch his old club win it all last year. I know the Giants will be holding a special ceremony for him today in honor of his 8oth birthday, and I hope some of you out in Mariners Nation will tip your hat today to Willie Mays the greatest all-around Baseball player in history. Go M’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
The Mariners took advantage of the sloppy play of their division rivals the Oakland A’s to win the 2011 season opener by a score of 6-2 for manager Erik Wedge. Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez got tagged for a two-run homer in the 1st inning by Josh Willingham but went on to pitch a nice game and seemed to get stronger as this one progressed in front of a near packed Oakland Coliseum. The A’s starter Trevor Cahill managed to keep this one close early on by wiggling off the hook a few times when the Mariners loaded the bases, giving up only one run on a bases loaded walk to ex-Athletic Jack Cust who had three walks on the night.
This was a fun game to watch as the Mariners scored runs in some odd ways as well as the old-fashioned home run thanks to Chone Figgins who matched his home run total for 2010 tonight witha solo go-ahead homer in the sixth to put the visiting Mariners up by a score of 3-2. The Mariners never looked back and added three more runs in the wild 7th inning when the the A’s committed 2 of their 5 errors on the night in front of the dissapointed East Bay crowd.
Felix Hernadez got out of a jam in the 8th thanks to an inning-ending doubleplay allowing King Felix to come back and pitch the 9th for his first of what will undoubtably be several complete games for the Ace. Good to see contributions from most of the team tonight in various forms as my first impression is that the 2011 Mariners are a more complete club than we had last year, as well as a group of guys who play like they are hungry and have something to prove.
This season opener was broadcast back to Japan as the fans their got a chance to see a couple of their national heroes in Matsui and Ichiro during these difficult times. Also in the bottom of the third ROOT sports broadcast a silent half inning minus the chirping of Dave Sims in honor of Dave Niehaus. I thought I would throw in this old vintage photo of my Grandfather Gordon “Dusty” Rhodes who finished his pitching career for the old Philadelphia Athletics under Connie Mack in 1936. It is worth noting that the A’s insignia on their caps is still pretty much the same after 75 years even though our Mariners insignia seems to change every year!
What a great way to open the season with King Felix dominating the A’s 6-2 in a fun and interesting game where our guys seem to get more breaks in one game than we did all of last year! Go M’s! http:/jeffsmariners.com
For some reason I was remembering parts of the Mariners magic run in 1995 today after talking to a woman about my blog. Since I figured the Mariners front office will be attempting to finally move forward from trying to tug on fans heart-strings by referring to the 95 season in order to sell tickets this year, I thought it would be safe to write a quick post about a couple of my experiences before I forget them. I have also realized that the vast majority of current Mariners Blogs including the Seattle Times and Shannon Drayer’s, are written by people who either did not live here in 1995 or for whatever reason seem to believe Mariners history started when they began writing, so this sort of knoweldge is starting to fade from our collective memory here in Seattle.
At the time I was still sailing as a Merchant Mariner and had completed a voyage on the Tug Commander in late August and was thus ” On the Beach” in sailors lingo with a pocket full of money and time to kill. So I attended every home Mariners game except a couple including the sudden-death one game playoff game with the Angels where Luis Sojo hit the bizarre base clearing inside the park homer. Every day I would wake up and if they were at home I would head down to the Kingdome and buy a ticket out front or occasionally at full price and try to sit in the 300 level directly behind home and right above Dave Niehaus, who I even sent a message to once by lowering a string!
Most of the whole experience is a blur but I do recall a few odd tidbits which you may find amusing besides the video above where I brought a vacuum cleaner to a game to celebrate back-to-back sweeps! I also remember being down at Boeing field at 530 in the morning when the Mariners arrived from New York after losing the first two games of the 5-game series with my little banner that I was waving along with two other fans who were there to encourage and support our guys. I remember Rich Amaral clear as day that morning as he was getting his luggage along with Dave Niehaus chattering about how ” We can still do this”.
On another occasion I took the liberty to place a call to a Cleveland Sports Radio station during that series to dispel the rumor that Seattle fans were not serious fans. I must have done a good job as later on I heard that a bunch of irate Cleveland fans started calling our radio stations in Seattle that night. You see I knew this was a once in a lifetime phenomenon and I did my best to be everywhere and do everything, or “Leave everything on the field ” as they say. I wrote a letter which I still have to the Times (which got published) after they finally lost to the Indians here at home recounting my experience and lamenting the fact that like a good Mariner I too had blown my wad and it was time to head back to Sea.
At any rate those were the days as they say, and I like many others have tried to keep the faith all these years that one day the magic will be back here in Seattle. I would love to hear any more good ” Sea Stories” about experiences that other fans had that year so we can pass on the lore so to speak to the next generation of Mariners fans. So enough of the past it is time to look forward and I believe this has been a good Spring Training for our boys this year, just good enough for this old Mariner to sign-on to this ship for one more voyage with a sailing date of April 1st. Go M’s Http://jeffsmariners.com
As I get ready to report to camp in Peoria next week my thoughts go back to what it must have been like for my Grandfather Gordon ” Dusty” Rhodes (second from right in photo) when he arrived in St. Petersburg Florida along with all the other Yankees including Babe Ruth pictured above. While the modern day Mariners may be enjoying a more sophisticated and organized experience as the position players finish filing into camp and taking their physicals today, I have a hunch the goosebumps and butterflies must have felt the same 80 years ago for ballplayers of that era.
Tags: 1931 Yankees, Boys of summer, Gordon Rhodes Babe Ruth 1931 Yankees, Historical Baseball, Mariner Blogger, Peoria St. Petersburg Spring Training, position players filing into camp today, Seattle Mariners Spring Training, Spring is in the Air, Uncategorized