A GREAT view of the field at AT&T Park in Chattanooga during their pre-season open house!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Paul Smith 1953, 1957, & 1958 Major Leaguer

Paul Smith spend most of 1953 and some of 1957 & 1958 playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He ended 1958 playing for the Cubs.

Paul sent a short note about his playing days. He says that his favorite team is the Astros. His favorite former player is Dale Long. I am always fascinated about players mentioning former teammates as favorite players. Former teammates of Roberto Clemente and Bob Feller mention these guys a lot. Great players with great character earn this type of respect from their teammates. I am sure Dale Long was a great guy to get this kind of mention from Paul Smith.

Paul also notes that he played a few games in Louisville in 1960-1961. Also played in Nashville in 1952.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

George O'Donnell 1954 Pirates

George O'Donnell spent several years in pro baseball, working his way up from 1949-1961. He played at the Major League level in 1954 with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

He says that he now follows the Cubs and Cardinals, as he gets their games on TV in his area. He says that his favorite team is the Pittsburgh Pirates, but their games are not generally broadcast on TV where he lives.

He says that he has too many favorite players to mention, but Frank Thomas was #1.

He mentions having some great games against the NY Giants. He says that he won 2 games, and saved another. He also says that he hit a home run against the Giants at the Polo Grounds.

George played in Kentucky with the Mayfield team (Mayfield Clothiers). He remembers teams in Owensboro, and Madisonville. He also mentions remembering teams in Union City and Clarksville, Tennessee.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Gene Verble 1951 & 1953 Senators

Gene Verble recently sent me a fun bio sheet about his career in baseball.

Gene talks about playing for 2 of my personal favorite minor league teams to research, the Chattanooga Lookouts and the Seattle Rainiers.

He mentions that he played for the Chattanooga Lookouts in 1952. This team won the Southern League pennant winners. He also played on the 1955 Seattle Rainiers. This Triple A West Coast League team won their pennant.

Gene relates a fun story about sitting behind President Harry Truman on opening day to protect him from being hit by stray balls.

"After I stopped playing, I managed for six years. I managed the Charlotte Hornets from 1957-1960. I managed in Syracuse, NY in 1961, and in Burlington, NC in 1962. I retired from baseball in 1963 to spend more time with my family."

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Roy Wright 1956 New York Giants

Roy Wright played in one game for the 1956 Giants (September 30, 1956).

He sent a note recently about his career. He mentions that the 1950's were a great era for the game.

He is familiar with Kentucky, though he really never played ball in the area. "I didn't play any game in your state. The closest I got would have to be Danville, VA. I am quite familiar with Lexington as I pass through there on my way home to Ohio. My oldest grandson also competed in the SEC's indoor track & field championships a couple of years ago for the University of Georgia."

He mentions a great memory.

"It has to be going to the Polo Grounds the first time and putting on that Giants uniform. To be in the same clubhouse with the greatest outfielder or all time (Mays) was special."

Roy also mentions that he played on the same fields with many other greats while in the Minors, includingPerry, McCovey, and the Alou's.

Dave Sisler 1956-1962 Major Leaguer

Dave Sisler played for 4 team during his career in the Majors. He played from 1956-1959 with the Boston Red Sox. During 1959 he went to the Tigers and stayed there until the end of 1960. He spent 1960 with Washington, and 1962 with the Reds.

Dave answered some questions for me in a letter this month. He says that his favorite team is the Cardinals. His favorite former player is Stan Musial.

Dave is a second generation Major Leaguer. His dad George Sisler played for the St. Louis Browns, Washington Senators, and Boston Braves. He spent a few season also managing the Browns (1924-1926).

I asked Dave if it was exciting playing for the Washington team as his dad had also played for them. He said, "No."

"I remember that they were so cheap that they painted the ground green rather than grow new grass."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Buddy Hicks 1956 Tigers

Buddy Hicks played in 26 games for the 1956 Detroit Tigers. He took the time to type out a very kind note to me. "If you haven't already done the math I am approaching my 83rd birthday and I have the tremors in my hands which makes it difficult for me to write."

Concerning Kentucky, Buddy brings up his playing time with Senator Jim Bunning.

"I played with a fellow from your home state by the name of Jim Bunning while at Buffalo in the International League. I drove in the winning runs in his last three victories before he was called up to the Tigers, and he said that he was going to take me with him, which of course never happened. If I'm not mistaking I think he is still the only pitcher to win over 100 games in both Major Leagues."

"The teams that I played for in order were Trenton, N.J. Newport News Va. Spokane, Wa. St. Paul, Minn. Hollywood, Ca. Baltimore, Md. Atlanta, Ga. Buffalo, N.Y. Detroit, Mi. and CHarleston, W.V. I also managed Yakima, Wa. Austin, Tx. West Palm Beach, Fla., Savannah, Ga., Lexington, and Burlington, N.C. Ended my career in 1969 when my wife took ill and needed me at home."

Mr. Hicks says that he still follows the Major Leagues.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Frank Saucier 1951 St. Louis Browns

Frank Saucier recently sent me some great articles relating to his career. Frank has been on the receiving end of many honors. His college baseball field is now named after him. He lead all of pro baseball in batting average in 1949 and in 1950, he was named Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year!

Oddly, his biggest notoriety related to Bill Veeck's putting midget Eddie Gaedel in to pinch hit in a game. Gaedel pinch hit for Saucier.

Frank sent a great article from the St. Louis Globe Democrat about the last Browns home game on September 26, 1953. The team was in financial trouble, and only had a couple dozen baseballs. To conserve baseballs, batting and fielding practice was skipped. Umpires allowed balls that should have been discarded to remain in play. Fans were asked to throw foul balls back.

Frank was also a part of the U.S. Navy's V-12 program during World War II. In this program, at age 18 he was one of the youngest officers to ever be commissioned by the U.S. Navy! He ended up serving in the Philippines, Japan and China.

While he was really getting his baseball career going and established, the Navy called him back in 1952 because of the Korean War.

After that, Frank went on to be the owner, president and CEO of his own company, and then he worked as a financial consultant! What a great success story! Frank did a lot in baseball, the military, and private business! Thanks for the info Frank, and thanks for your service to our country!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Joe Mather- Cardinals

I sent a couple of VERY amateur photos I took to Joe Mather this season. I mentioned back in April that I went to one of the exhibition games in Memphis putting the ML Cardinals against their AAA team the Redbirds. I sent Jo Jo a couple of pics from that game.

Joey was kind enough to sign my pictures, adding commentary to them, and he answered some questions. You can tell Mr. Mather is a truly funny guy.

He says that his favorite park is Wrigley and his favorite sports team is the Pittsburgh Steelers (good choice). Phoenix Arizona is his favorite sports city.

He says that Autozone park is nice, but Busch Stadium is beautiful!

Joey's humor shows in his note, as he says that he has started an autograph collection too, and then he tries jokingly to talk me in to sending him my autograph collection.

Memphis and St. Louis are lucky to have Joey around!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Jake Striker- 59 Indians & 60 White Sox

Jake Striker mentions that winning his only game in the Majors in Cleveland was great, as he was always a fan of Cleveland. "Bob Feller has always been my favorite player."

"As for a connection with a team close to you, I was with Louisville a short time in 1962." He mentions that Phil Niekro was a teammate.

I checked Jake's stats on baseball-reference.com, and he also spent some time in Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Indianapolis, 3 other great, close baseball towns.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Daryl Spencer 1952-1963 Major Leaguer

Daryl Spencer played for the New York and San Francisco Giants, the Cardinals, Dodgers, and Reds. He also spent 1951 playing in Nashville while in the minors. Daryl gets a lot of credit for influencing baseball and how it is played in Japan.

Daryl sent me a great, honest note about his playing days, and his thoughts on the game today.

Showing a great sense of humor, Daryl notes, "I'm not a great fan of today's baseball. My first problem is that I live close to Kansas City, so I do follow the Royals some."

Concerning his time in the minors and relating it to today's game, he says, "I played on a class D team in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma that made fewer bad plays." He goes on to say, "Players don't bunt, hit behind runners and make many more mental errors than we did. I played 4 years in the minors, about average in the 50's, and learned how the game is supposed to be played. Realize, there were only 16 Major League teams then, and if you make mistakes like they do today, you'd be back in the Minor Leagues."

"I followed the Yankees mainly when Don Zimmer (a former teammate) was a coach for them. I used to go to KC when NY was there and sat on the bench during pre-game workouts. I got to know the players and thus I follow them. Of course Zimmer is long gone, but the only present day players that I know are the Yankees."

I asked him about his favorite player now, and Daryl said, "I guess Derek Jeter is my favorite player."

I also mentioned his time with the Hankyu Braves. Concerning his time in Japan, Daryl wrote, "I was an icon in Japan. Hit 36 & 38 HR's in my first 2 years there."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Don Taussig- 1958, 1961, & 1962 Major Leaguer

Don Taussig, who played for the Cards, Giants, and the original Colt .45s team sent a brief note about a book has has put out.

"Baseball: The Balanced Hand Method Of Hitting" is his book, and he suggests Amazon as a good place to pick it up.

"It is an instructional book concerning the proper use of the hands in swinging a bat. For teaching purposes I discuss my hitting experiences during the period 1957-1961".

Monday, December 14, 2009

Nick Testa 1958 New York Giants

Nick Testa is one of those interesting players in the game who had about half a sip of coffee at the Major League level, but stuck around the game for some time. On April 23rd of 1958, he caught one inning for the Giants and did not get an at bat. That is his career in the Majors.

He did hang around baseball, coaching, helping out in the minors, and even playing in Japan.

Nick let me know that his favorite players were Joe DiMaggio and Don Mattingly. He thinks the best athlete and player was Dave Winfield. Best all around was Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle.

As for managers and coaches, Nick is fond of Joe Torre and Jeff Torborg.

I was excited to hear what Nick thought, because he has been around baseball for so long.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Paul Pettit 1951-1953 Pirates

Paul Pettit, who had a very interesting career during the 50s sent me a great note.

In 1950 he received a $100,000 signing bonus. He pitched for the first part of his career (including his 2 seasons in the Majors). In 1954 he switched to the outfield and first base because of arm problems.

I am personally very fascinated with guys who switch positions like this. Paul says that one of his most gratifying experiences was "being able to have a rewarding career with both pitching and playing as an everyday player."

Mr. Pettit says that baseball gave him many opportunities to travel. "From Canada to Managua, Nicaragua; Cuba, Mexico, and most of the major cities in the United States."

He says that baseball is still a big part of his life. All of his four sons played, and 2 had professional careers.

The player he respects the most is Stan Musial. He says he is partial to Alex Rodriguez and he hopes Alex will break the career home run record.

Paul tells me that he played for the Indianapolis Indians in 1951 for one month. He did say that he stopped by the Louisville Bat Company in Louisville and "was very proud to find my name up in front with all the players to ever sign a Louisville Bat Contract."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bobo Osborne 1957-1962 Detroit Tigers

Larry Osborne played mostly at first base for parts of several seasons in Detroit from 1957-1962. He played the 1963 season with the Senators.

Obviously he played away from Kentucky, but he did send a note to let me know he did spend a short amount of time in Louisville playing high school baseball back in 1951.

"While in high school playing in a Stan Musial League National Championship Tourney. Finished second against a Detroit team consisting of several players who later became teammates in professional baseball."

Monday, December 7, 2009

Bud Lively 1947-1949 Reds

Bud Lively let me know that His favorite team in the Majors is his former team, the Reds. His favorite team in the Minors is the Huntsville Stars.

Like several other players who played before the 60's, Mr. Lively says that his current favorite player is Jeter. His favorite former player is Stan Musial.

Bud mentions that his old home park, Crosley Field, was his favorite. He mentions that there are many stories from the park of flooding problems in the old days.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Nellie King 1954-1957 Pirates

The Pittsburgh legend Nellie King was kind enough to answer some questions for me recently. For those of you that know me, it is always exciting getting a note from one of the great Pirates.

I asked Nellie about his favorite baseball card, and he responded, "The 1st one I got paid for!". 1954

His favorite teams are the Pirates, New Iberia (LA) Pelicans, and Denver Bears. The Pelicans and Bears were former Pirate affiliates.

Mr. King's favorite current player is Derek Jeter. His favorite former player is also a former teammate of his, Roberto Clemente. Clemente is my all time favorite too, and I can't imagine how exciting it must have been to play on the same team with him!

I will have to check out Nellie's new book. He lets me know that it is available online. Here is a link:


Also, Nellie's kind daughter sent a note to let me know that Nellie has his own blog too! Check it out:


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Rudy Regalado 1954-1956 Indians

"I played triple A baseball for the Indianapolis Indians in the American Association & we played the Louisville Colonels in Louisville. I enjoyed Louisville. They had great pizza!"

Rudy tells me that he follows his former team, the Cleveland Indians, in addition to the Los Angeles Angels. He likes Adrian Gonzales of the San Diego Padres.

Rudy proudly notes that he played in every game of the 1954 World Series. He came in to play in the 8th inning of the 4th and final game.

I notice I have a lot in common with Rudy. He has a connection to two of my all time favorite teams (the Indians in Cleveland and in Indianapolis, and he loves pizza in Louisville). He mentions something else that I agree with. He says that he admired a former teammate, Bob Feller. While living in Cleveland, I got to meet Rapid Robert my self twice. Bob is full of integrity. Last time I saw him (about 3 years ago) he was in great shape and he looked ready to take on any hot headed hitter.

Bluegrass Stallion's Basketball

I don't want to duplicate myself, but I have written a bit about the new professional basketball team in Lexington on my other blog:
I do hope Lexington gets out to support this team!
Their web site is: