Dodger Thoughts: Farewells

Farewell, Clarence

June, 18, 2011
6/18/11
6:26
PM PT


Here's the thing about Clarence Clemons, besides being part of music that has meant so much to me for what I can now say is most of my life.

The saxophone can so often be a cheesy instrument, feeling very much like an affectation, insincere. With the Big Man, it was something completely different – something searing, something jolting, something that could make you exult, or tear up, or both.

The passing of Clarence Clemons is a devastating loss for those like me who didn't know him personally – I can only imagine what it's like for those who did – mitigated by knowing that his music will live forever.

Statement from Harmon Killebrew at MLB.com:
"It is with profound sadness that I share with you that my continued battle with esophageal cancer is coming to an end. With the continued love and support of my wife, Nita, I have exhausted all options with respect to controlling this awful disease. My illness has progressed beyond my doctors' expectation of cure.

"I have spent the past decade of my life promoting hospice care and educating people on its benefits. I am very comfortable taking this next step and experiencing the compassionate care that hospice provides.

"I am comforted by the fact that I am surrounded by my family and friends. I thank you for the outpouring of concern, prayers and encouragement that you have shown me. I look forward to spending my final days in comfort and peace with Nita by my side."


Farewell, Wally Yonamine

March, 2, 2011
3/02/11
11:48
AM PT
Remembrances of Wally Yonamine, the first American to play baseball in Japan after World War II, are popping up — examples here, here, here and here. Yonamine passed away Monday at age 85.

* * *

Royals at Dodgers, 12:05 p.m.
Jamey Carroll, 3B
Dioner Navarro, C
Andre Ethier, RF
Matt Kemp, CF
Gabe Kapler, LF
James Loney, 1B
Jay Gibbons, DH
Ivan De Jesus Jr., 2B
Juan Castro, SS
(Tim Redding, P)

Tommy Lasorda on Duke Snider

February, 27, 2011
2/27/11
7:55
PM PT


And here's a worthy ESPN report from Tim Kurkjian:



And here are obituaries from The Associated Press and the Times.

Farewell, Duke Snider

February, 27, 2011
2/27/11
2:18
PM PT

Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesThe Duke of Flatbush

My tribute to Duke Snider, who died this morning at the age of 84, from "100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know ..."

National Baseball Hall of Fame
Duke Snider joined the Hall of Fame in 1980.



“With two runners on base and the Dodgers leading, 5-4, in the 12th inning, Willie Jones drove a 405-footer up against the left-centerfield wall. Duke isn’t a look-and-run outfielder, like Mays. He prefers to keep the ball in view all the time if possible, and he was judging this one every step of his long run to the wall. There it seemed he was climbing the concrete ‘on his knees,’ as awed Dodger coach Ted Lyons put it. Up and up he went like a human fly to spear the ball, give a confirming wave of his glove and fall backward to the turf. The wooden bracing on the wall showed spike marks almost as high as his head. It was such a catch that, although it saved the game for Brooklyn, admiring Philly fans swarmed the field by the dozens. Duke lost his cap and part of his shirt and almost lost his belt.”
– Al Stump,
Sport

Edwin Donald Snider gets third billing in the Terry Cashman song, “Willie, Mickey and the Duke” – a placement that seems to celebrate as well as diminish his legacy. Snider was one of the greatest center fielders of all time, up there with Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle, but he was forever proving himself, to the Dodgers and to baseball history.

“Duke was so talented, and he had a grace about him,” said his Dodger roommate for 10 years, Carl Erskine. “They talk about (Joe) DiMaggio and how he carried himself on the field. … His outfield play and his running the bases and his trot for the home run, he just looked class, man.

“The thing that bothered Duke was, no matter how well he did, the coaches (and) managers always said, ‘He can do better than that.’ They always kind of made Duke feel no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t satisfy everybody. It was bothersome for him.”

Snider, a Compton High School graduate from Los Angeles, even had a love-hate relationship with Ebbets Field fans, as Maury Allen writes in Brooklyn Remembered. “Snider always wore his emotions on his sleeve,” Allen said. “A home run in a key spot would produce that Hollywood handsome grin. A strikeout with the bases loaded and the Brooklyn fans booing his very name announcement the next day would result in a week of sulkiness.”


APTaking his cut, c. 1950.


Ultimately, like the way he climbed that Ebbets Field wall to save the game against the Phillies, Snider reached magnificent heights. He had eight full seasons and two partial seasons with EQAs of .300 or better, more than any other Dodger ever. He had at least 40 homers in the Dodgers’ five final seasons in Brooklyn, and a career .295 batting average, .380 on-base percentage and .540 slugging percentage. He hit an all-time Dodger record 389 homers.

In a 1955 article, Sports Illustrated chose Snider over Willie Mays: “In every sense, the contemporary hero of Flatbush, prematurely gray at the temples in his 29th year, is a picture player with a classic stance that seldom develops a hitch. Next to (Ted) Williams, Snider probably has the best hitting form in the game. And, like Williams, he has amazing eyes — large, clear, calm and probing. With each oncoming pitch, Snider tenses and then throws his full 195 pounds into it, if he swings, with a smooth, lashing motion.”

The Duke was much, much more than a name in a song.

This is a tectonic passing. The Duke is iconic, a legacy carved in granite. We will truly miss you.

Farewell, Gino Cimoli

February, 13, 2011
2/13/11
5:47
PM PT

Getty ImagesGino Cimoli

Gino Cimoli, the first batter in Los Angeles Dodgers history, passed away Saturday at age 81, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Cimoli came up with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956 at age 26 and was the leadoff batter in the inaugural major league regular season game in California, on April 15, 1958 at Seals Stadium in San Francisco. Cimoli struck out in Los Angeles' 8-0 to the Giants.

"Gino was a part of history not just as a member of both the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, but throughout the game of baseball because of his role in the first-ever big league game on the West Coast," a Dodgers spokesman told ESPNLosAngeles.com when asked about the Chronicle's report. "The rivalry between the Dodgers and Giants picked up where it left off in New York, and Gino was the fortunate one to lead off that afternoon in his hometown. He will undoubtedly be missed by all who knew him, and our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends."

Cimoli batted .269 with 19 homers in three seasons with the Dodgers, before going on to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Milwaukee Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City A's, California Angels and Baltimore Orioles in a career that ran through 1965. In 10 seasons, he had a .265 average with 808 hits and 44 home runs.

Cimoli's Los Angeles highlight came on Sept. 1, 1958, when he went 4 for 7 with a walk and scored the go-ahead run in the top of the 16th inning against the Giants, in a game San Francisco rallied to win. The Dodgers traded Cimoli to St. Louis after the 1958 season for Wally Moon and Phil Paine.

Cimoli, who went 5 for 20 with two walks for the Pirates in the 1960 World Series, had a pinch-hit single to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning in Pittsburgh's memorable Game 7 victory. As a rookie, he was on the Dodgers' 1956 World Series team but did not bat.

More from John Shea in the Chronicle:
... Cimoli was a Brooklyn Dodger but a San Franciscan at heart. He was inserted atop the lineup by manager Walter Alston, who knew the significance of the North Beach legend and kid from Galileo High School becoming the first big-league batter following the Giants' and Dodgers' relocation from New York.

Cimoli died Saturday morning of kidney and heart complications. He was 81.

"Gino was just an all-around nice guy," said friend Bob Tobener, who had helped organize functions in recent years at which Cimoli spoke. "He was a great athlete. Out of high school, people said he was a better basketball player than baseball player. . . . He was a really good hitter." ...

... His daughter, Cherryl Keast, said, "Our life totally revolved around baseball. Baseball was our life, not that that was a bad thing. We lived where he played."

Farewell, Tony Malinosky

February, 9, 2011
2/09/11
11:23
AM PT
Jae C. Hong/APTony Malinosky blows out candles as he celebrates his 100th birthday in Oxnard on Oct. 5, 2009.

We mentioned Tony Malinosky, the 1937 Brooklyn Dodger who was the major-leagues' oldest-living player, in these parts last month. Sadly, the Dodgers have sent along word that Malinosky has passed on.
Tony Malinosky, the former Brooklyn Dodger who was the oldest-living major-leaguer, passed away Tuesday at age 101, the Los Angeles Dodgers said.

Malinosky played 35 games at third base and shortstop for Brooklyn in 1937, batting .228 in 79 at-bats. According to Baseball-Reference.com, his career-best performance was a 3-for-5 day against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Dodgers purchased his contract from the Pittsburgh Pirates the previous winter.

Born Oct. 7, 1909 in Collinsville, Ill., Malinosky attended Whittier College in California with Pres. Richard Nixon, according to the Dodgers, and served in the U.S. Army in World War II.

The Dodgers honored him at Dodger Stadium in 2009 on the occasion of his 100th birthday. He was living in Oxnard, Calif. when he passed away.

“Tony lived an incredibly full life, both on and off the field," the Dodgers said in a statement. "He remained a Dodger fan his whole life and his visit to Dodger Stadium in 2009 gave the organization a great opportunity to celebrate not only his 100th birthday, but the Dodger chapter of his life that meant so much to him. He will be most certainly missed by all who knew him.”

For those who missed it the first time, here's a link to Malinosky's 2009 interview with KCLU.

Those kind of moments

January, 9, 2011
1/09/11
6:58
PM PT
"There's gonna be a lot of those kind of moments - I had one this morning, just waking up, and she comes up and says, 'Daddy, it's time to get up,' and she didn't do that this morning."

– John Green, speaking to CNN today of his daughter Christina.
One of the victims of the tragic shooting in Arizona on Saturday was the daughter of Dodger scout John Green and granddaughter of former Phillies manager Dallas Green.

Nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green was among six people killed, including U.S. District Judge John Roll, and 12 others wounded, including Arizona congressperson Gabrielle Giffords, on Saturday in a mass shooting in a Tucson mall.

“We lost a member of the Dodgers family today," Dodger owner Frank McCourt said late last night in a statement. "The entire Dodgers organization is mourning the death of John’s daughter Christina, and will do everything we can to support John, his wife Roxana and their son Dallas in the aftermath of this senseless tragedy. I spoke with John earlier today and expressed condolences on behalf of the entire Dodgers organization.”

Christina Taylor Green was born the day of the September 11 tragedy in 2001 and was featured in a book, "Faces of Hope," on children who shared that birthday. According to reports, she had just been elected to the student council in her elementary school and had been invited to meet Giffords' at her community gathering as a result. Her father told the Arizona Daily Star that she had become interested in politics from a young age. She also played second base on her Little League baseball team, the paper said.

John Green is the Dodgers' East Coast supervisor of amateur scouting. Dallas Green pitched for eight seasons in the majors in the 1960s, then managed the Phillies to their first World Series title in 1980. He later managed the Phillies and Mets.

Dodger general manager Ned Colletti's first job in baseball, as assistant to chief publicist Bob Ibach of the Chicago Cubs, came at the same time as Dallas Green was hired as general manager of the Cubs.

Farewell, Bob Feller

December, 16, 2010
12/16/10
9:38
AM PT

APBob Feller



There's so much good material online on the life of Bob Feller, I'll just start you off by linking to Joe Posnanski's remembrance. Then there's David Wade at the Hardball Times, Tim Kurkjian at ESPN.com, mulitple pieces by Rob Neyer at ESPN.com and Keith Thursby at the Times. Don't skimp on your reading ...

* * *
  • Further to Wednesday's points about the dangers of offering relievers multiyear contracts comes this piece from Dave Cameron at Fangraphs.
  • Daniel Burke, co-owner of the Dodgers' Double-A affiliate in Chattanooga, is ailing — an emotional situation for the family, and tangentially, one that could affect the Dodgers' future with the team. David Paschall of the Chattanooga Times Free Press has the story (brought to my attention by a Dodger Thoughts commenter).
  • Sons of Steve Garvey points us to this New York Times article about gadgets and such that might be coming to baseball, including this little slice of heaven:
    At one booth, Brian Traudt explained his company’s innovation, which could improve the fan experience at stadiums, unless some people actually enjoy waiting in line for three innings for a cheeseburger. The product, Bypass Lane, is a kind of E-ZPass for concession stands that is administered through an application on a smartphone.

    The user enters the stadium and confirms its location via GPS. Once the section, row and seat number are included, the application identifies all the concession stands and provides menus. The fan orders — and pays — from the phone. When the order is ready, the fan receives a text message to pick it up at a lane dedicated to Bypass Lane orders. The fan can skip the longer lines — though perhaps not the jealous glances of other fans.
  • I hope you caught Wednesday's MLB Network rebroadcast of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series. I was able to see the final six innings, and that was just a heap of fun.

Farewell, Ron Santo

December, 3, 2010
12/03/10
8:16
AM PT

ESPN.com
Bleed Cubbie Blue

Farewell, Dave Niehaus

November, 11, 2010
11/11/10
7:05
AM PT

Joe Brockhert/APDave Niehaus

One-of-a-kind Seattle Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus, there since the team's inception in 1977, passed away Thursday at age 75. Former partner Ken Levine mourns him lovingly:
The best way for a baseball announcer to endear himself to a new audience is to be with a winning team. You report good news every night and the fans will love you. Piece of cake. When I first became a broadcaster for the Seattle Mariners in 1992, I joined Dave Niehaus, who had been their voice since day one back in 1977. He said to me, “I figured it out, Kenny. For me to get to a .500 record, the team would have to go 2042-0.”

Can you imagine how many truly bad, ugly games he has called over the years? Not a lot of good news to impart there. The Mariners for the first twenty years were just God awful.

And yet people in the Pacific Northwest clung to his every word. The attraction was not the team; it was listening to Dave. His passion for the game, vivid descriptions, and magnificent voice made any baseball game sound exciting, even a Mariners’.

Prior to joining Seattle, Dave worked alongside Dick Enberg calling games for the then-California Angels. Team owner Gene Autry once said to Dave, “You call a hell of a game. It’s not the one I’m watching but it’s a hell of a game.” Actually that’s only half true. It was the game you were watching, only better. Because Dave had something that so few announcers have today – SHOWMANSHIP. You were not just getting play-by-play, you were being told a tale by a master storyteller. Name me a better way of spending a warm summer night sitting out on the front porch.

Dave Niehaus passed away yesterday at age 75. Like all of Seattle, I’m devastated. We didn’t lose an announcer; we all lost a member of the family. Personally, Dave was the greatest broadcast partner I ever had. I’ve been very lucky to work with some of the best, including four Hall-of-Famers. I greatly respect them all and am eternally grateful for their friendship.

But I loved Dave Niehaus. ...

Within Larry Stone's Seattle Times tribute is a quote from Ken Griffey, Jr. to ESPN Radio: "He meant everything. Everybody talks about the players who went there and the players who left, but he made the Mariners who they are. Without him, the guys out there are nothing. Day in and day out, he brought the excitement and drove thousands and millions of people to the ballpark to come watch us."

Farewell, Bobby Thomson

August, 17, 2010
8/17/10
12:17
PM PT

AP PhotoBobby Thomson, arguably the most famous non-Dodger in Dodger history thanks to his 1951 "Shot Heard 'Round the World," has passed away at the age of 86. More at ESPN.com and the New York Daily News.

AP PhotoBrooklyn Dodgers outfielder Gene Hermanski, shown in April 1948, has passed away. Hermanski was one of Jackie Robinson's original supporters and had a .385 on-base percentage in 506 games with the Dodgers.
Before Scott Podsednik and Jay Gibbons dotted the Dodgers' major-league shores, the Giants picked up left fielder Pat Burrell from the scrap heap. All Burrell has done is provide a .905 OPS in 179 plate appearances (almost as many as Manny Ramirez has had with the Dodgers in 2010). On July 31, he hit a game-winning eighth-inning homer against the Dodgers, and Wednesday he repeated the feat against the Cubs.

He's almost been like 2006 Marlon Anderson and 2009 Ronnie Belliard combined. Joe Pawlikowski of Fangraphs has more about Burrell's turnabout.

Other notes while we wait for the daily Dodger starting lineup storm front to settle in ...
  • Farewell, Gene Hermanski. A great name from the Dodgers' past in Brooklyn, Hermanski passed away at the age of 90 according to New York Baseball History Examiner (link via Vin Scully Is My Homeboy).
  • The Dodgers will honor photography genius Jon SooHoo for 25 years of service in a pregame ceremony September 3, according to Inside the Dodgers, which also notes that SooHoo was Randy Johnson's photography mentor while the two were at the Daily Trojan.
  • From the Dodger press notes: "After some crack research by MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick and the Dodgers’ PR staff, it has been determined that (Juan) Castro is the only player in franchise history to serve three separate stints in the organization after departing and playing for another Major League team each time. Several players logged three different stints with the club, but remained in the organization. In the case of pitcher Giovanni Carrera (2001-02, 2004-05, 2006), he never made the big leagues after leaving the club in 2005 or prior to returning midway through 2006."
  • Also via the press notes:
    Four Dodgers drew mention in Baseball America’s annual Best Tools issue. Major League managers voted Rafael Furcal as having the National League’s best infield arm and as the third-best bunter, Clayton Kershaw as having the Senior Circuit’s No. 3 pickoff move and Jonathan Broxton as the third-best reliever. In the minor league section, Kenley Jansen was also picked as the best reliever in the Southern League after dominating the circuit with a 4-0 record with eight saves and a 1.67 ERA in 22 games with Double-A Chattanooga.

    Several Dodger prospects earned mentions as well, as Ivan DeJesus was voted as the Triple-A Pacific Coast League’s best defensive second baseman; Dee Gordon drew praise as the best baserunner, fastest baserunner and most exciting player in the Double-A Southern League; Matt Wallach was selected as the best defensive catcher and Pedro Baez was voted as having the best defensive arm in the Single-A California League; and though both have since been promoted to Double-A Chattanooga, Jerry Sands was named the best power-hitting prospect and best defensive first baseman and right-hander Rubby De La Rosa was praised for having the Single-A Midwest League’s best fastball."
Farewell, George Steinbrenner. Friday at Yankee Stadium, they'll be mourning both Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard. That's going to be quite a night.

The great Alex Belth has a remembrance of George Steinbrenner at SI.com.

* * *
  • Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has the fun story of Hong-Chih Kuo interviewing All-Star Dodgers about Hong-Chih Kuo.
  • Manny Ramirez went 0 for 9 with five strikeouts in three rehab games with Inland Empire, but hey ...
  • Joe Torre on Matt Kemp, to John Perrotto of Baseball Prospectus: "Everyone thought I was punishing Matt, but it was just clear to me that he was pressing and needed to take a few days to clear his head and get his confidence back. There are no statistics to tell you how a guy is feeling on the inside, but I don't think there was any question that Matt wasn't in the right frame of mind. We all want to be perfect, and sometimes Matt has a hard time coming to grips with the fact that nobody is perfect. He holds everything inside and always tells you everything is all right, but it can't always be all right and it wasn't all right with him. However, I see him being back to the old Matt Kemp now. He's playing with confidence again and that's only going to make us an even better team for the second half of the season."
  • The trade market for starting pitching gets a thorough analysis from Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness. The options probably won't bowl you over. Meanwhile, I contributed a very short, on-the-fly comment about Ted Lilly to View From the Bleachers, saying that I wouldn't want the Dodgers to give up much for him.
  • Baseball-Reference.com looks at the Hall of Fame case for Kevin Brown. The ultimate conclusion seems to be "no," but the "yes" case might surprise you.
Update: Meant to mention this above: Alex Rodriguez has an acting role in the upcoming Mila Kunis-Justin Timberlake film, "Friends With Benefits," reports Tatiana Siegel of Variety. My understanding is that he's not playing himself.

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