Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sam I am

Happy 4th all! Hope you're enjoying your day.

I've just received word that the National League would like you to believe that Clayton Kershaw is not an all-star.

I choose not to believe that. I also choose to believe Kershaw was held out because the Dodgers want to keep their pitching rotation order intact. With that bit of rationalization, I will continue on in my happy haze -- until Jonathan Broxton blows the N.L. lead on July 13th.

Today, in keeping with the Independence Day celebration, I am going to reveal my All-Sam baseball team. You know, like Uncle Sam. This is the team that I'd like to send out on the field on the 4th of July to kick the crap out of the New York Yankees.

I've got a 25-man roster here, so hold tight:

First Base, "Wahoo Sam" Crawford: One of the stars of the brilliant champion Tigers teams of the dead ball era, Crawford was among the game's most exciting players as evidenced by two stats: he is the all-time career leader in triples and second all-time in inside-the-park home runs. He played primarily in the outfield, but also played first base. I put him at first as there is a surplus of standout "Sams" in the outfield. Interesting fact: Crawford was an umpire in the Pacific Coast League after his playing career from 1935-38.

Second base, Sam "Modoc" Wise: Wise played the middle infield for 12 seasons in the 1880s, mostly with the Boston Beaneaters. In 1,175 games, he finished with 203 stolen bases and a .273 batting average. Interesting fact: Wise was involved in an unusual triple play against the Troy Trojans in 1882. With runners on first and second and no outs, Wise struck out. Troy catcher Buck Ewing purposely dropped the third strike. Wise and the runners on first and second were forced to run and all three were put out.

Third base, Sammy Hale: Hale was a regular member of the Philadelphia Athletics teams of the 1920s that grew progressively stronger as the decade went on, ending with a World Series title in 1929. Hale started at third base or interchanged with Jimmy Dykes and was a dependable batter, hitting over .300 four times. He played for one season with the Browns at the end of his 10-year career. Interesting fact: Hale was referred to as having "the smallest hands in the game."

Shortstop, Sam Bohne: Bohne is remembered as one of the better Jewish baseball players in major league history. He enjoyed success in the majors with the Reds, particularly in 1921 -- his rookie year -- when he had 175 hits and 28 doubles for Cincinnati. His final season in 1926 was spent mostly with the Brooklyn Dodgers. I know Bohne appears in the 1990 Target Dodgers set, but I don't have that card, nor can I find it online. Perhaps, gcrl can assist. Interesting fact: Bohne's MLB claim to fame is he broke up Brooklyn pitcher Dazzy Vance's no-hitter in 1923 with a hit up the middle with two outs in the 9th inning.

Catcher, Sammy White: This position was a toss-up between White and White Sox catcher Sam Taylor, who played about the same time. I went with White because his career lasted longer. White was known as a steady handler of pitchers and was the Boston Red Sox's primary catcher during the 1950s. He caught Mel Parnell's no-hitter in 1956. White played 11 seasons and hit .262. Interesting fact: White was also a professional bowler during his baseball career and opened his own bowling alley. After his career, he became a pro golfer in Hawaii.

Left field, Sam Chapman: You've got to love 1951 Bowman. Chapman was a gifted athlete who played in the majors primarily for the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1930s and 1940s. In 1941, he hit .322 with 25 homers and 106 RBIs. In 11 seasons, he hit 180 homers. His career was interrupted by World War II and Chapman served in the Navy as a pilot and flight instructor. Interesting fact: Chapman was a star football player in high school and college and played in the Rose Bowl. He turned down the Washington Redskins after being drafted in the third round in 1938.

Center field, Sam Rice: A Hall of Famer, Rice was a primary offensive threat for the Washington Senators during their top seasons in the early-to-mid 1920s. Rice was a lifetime .322 hitter known for his speed and extra-base power. Rice made one of the most famous catches in World Series history, grabbing a ball at the fence that robbed a home run from the Pirates' Earl Smith that would have tied the game in the eighth inning of Game 3 of the 1925 Series. Rice then fell into the stands and emerged with the ball in his glove. Controversy ensued and Rice was even offered money to tell his story about the catch. He refused, only revealing in a letter, opened after he died, that he did in fact catch the ball. Interesting fact: This is morbid. When Rice was in the minor leagues in 1912, his hometown of Morocco, Indiana, was hit by a tornado. Rice's wife, children, mother, siblings, and eventually his father, all died in the tornado.

Right field, Sammy Sosa: The number of statistics put up by Sosa are staggering and difficult to relay here. Among the highlights: 609 career homers, three 60-home run seasons and an MVP award in 1998. How many of his vast array of power numbers were affected by performance-enhancing drugs is the big question. No question, though, that all the numbers are tainted by reports of PED use. But before all of that ugliness, Sosa was known as the happy-go-lucky, boisterous toast of Chicago. Interesting fact: Sosa's first career home run came off Roger Clemens. Make up your own joke.

Starting pitcher, "Sad" Sam Jones: Jones pitched a record 22 consecutive years in the majors and enjoyed most of his success with the Red Sox and the Yankees. He won World Series with both teams. In 1918 he was 16-5 with a 2.25 ERA. In 1921 he was 23-16 with Boston. In 1923, he was the Yankees' best pitcher, threw a no-hitter and won 21 games. He lasted all the way to 1935, also pitching for the Indians, Browns, Senators and White Sox. Interesting fact: Jones' famous quote about why he was called "Sad Sam" explained that it was because he wore his cap low on his head as opposed to others who wore it high "so they wouldn't miss any pretty girls." Jones would've fit right in with all the low-cap wearers today.

Starting pitcher, "Toothpick" Sam Jones: Jones, in my opinion, is overlooked as one of the top pitchers of the 1950s. He led the National League in strikeouts three times (1955, 1956 and 1958). He won 21 games with the Giants in 1959. Jones, who often chewed on a flat, wooden toothpick, did walk a lot of batters and the Cubs stunk in the '50s, so that probably hurt his reputation. Jones' name recently came up when Edwin Jackson threw a no-hitter for Arizona, but walked eight batters. Jones walked seven batters when no-hitting the Pirates in 1955. Interesting fact: On May 3, 1952, Jones and Quincy Trouppe formed the first African-American battery for an American League team while playing with the Cleveland Indians.

Starting pitcher, "Sudden" Sam McDowell: One of the greatest strikeout pitchers in Indians history or probably of all-time, McDowell finished his career with the best strikeout rate behind only Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax. McDowell was a dominant pitcher for the Indians in the late 1960s, starting many games and pitching many innings. He threw 305 in 1970 when he won 20 games for Cleveland. McDowell spiraled into alcoholism after his career and ended up living with his parents, struggling with debt. He rehabilitated and has worked to establish several organizations that benefit retired players. Interesting fact: "Sam Malone," the Ted Danson Cheers character, was based on McDowell.

Starting pitcher, Sammy Ellis: Ellis burst into the majors as a relief pitcher in 1964, winning 10 games and saving 14. The next year, he became a starter and won 22 games for the Reds, striking out 183. But the rest of his career was a disappointment as he was plagued with arm problems. He pitched until 1969. He later became a pitching coach for several teams in the 1980s and 1990s. Interesting fact: When Ellis was replaced as pitching coach while on the Yankees in 1986, it was the 20th pitching coach change for N.Y. since George Steinbrenner had bought the team in 1973.

Starting pitcher, Sam Leever: Leever was a member of the Pirates' pitching staff in the early 20th century, helping Pittsburgh to repeated pennants. He pitched 13 seasons and won 20 games four times. He won 25 games in 1903. He also pitched a staggering 379 innings while going 21-23 in 1899. Interesting fact: Nicknamed "the Goshen Schoolmaster," Leever was a school teacher before become a major league ballplayer.

Relief pitching: I'm going with Sammy Stewart, who saved 45 games in his career, mostly with the Orioles. We'd have to break him out of jail to get him to play, though. Also in the bullpen are Sam Gray (a 20-game winner for the Browns in 1928), Sam Gibson (1920s Tigers pitcher), and early 1990s Yankee pitcher Sam Militello.

For the closer, I am taking liberties, because it is my team and it is a Dodger player and if you're only going to pick two Dodgers on the All-Star roster then I'm squeezing one on here, dammit.

Takashi "Sammy" Saito is the closer. You must acknowledge the greatness of Sammy.

Bench: There is no designated hitter on this team as I pick only National League-style teams because we're not playing any Arena Baseball here. But I must put Sam Horn on the team as he's one of the most famous baseball "Sams" of recent times. He didn't live up to expectations, but he did spawn a famed website.

Also on the bench is defensive replacement Sammy Khalifa, the first person of Egyptian descent to play in the majors.

It's a shame to relegate Sam Jethroe to the bench. He was a Negro League star and the National League's Rookie of the Year in 1950 with the Braves. But I'll make him the first guy off the bench. Also on the bench is Sam Taylor, the White Sox catcher from the '50s; Sam Thompson, a Phillies hitting standout of the 19th century; and Sam West, an all-star outfielder with the Browns in the 1930s.

That is your 25-man all-Uncle Sam 4th of July roster. Apologies to Sam Mejias, Sam Ewing, Sam Fuld and Sam Perlozzo, among others.

Oh, and I almost forgot. Here is the All-Uncle Sams manager:

He did lead the Twins to the World Series in 1965. But Sam Mele is really here because he appears on one of the greatest manager cards of all-time.
Enjoy the rest of the day. Don't eat too many hot dogs and don't blow off an arm.


  1. Too bad about Kershaw... I'm still trying to figure out how Mike Pelfrey missed making the team, but Jose Reyes got picked as an injury replacement even though he's missed 5 straight games with back spasms.

  2. Awesome post! I was really pulling to see Sam Hairston behind the plate and Sam the Jet starting in center, but... I suppose you were going with big league stats. I have become pretty interested in Sam Crawford of late and started collecting him as well. I was surprised to see you choose a Giant in Toothpick Sam Jones... Well Done Owl! Happy 4th!

  3. "Sudden" Sam is one of my all-time favorite nicknames.