On a Beach Walk: #69 (Baseball – The Season)

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(Part 2 of 3)

I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Every mid-February while many are in the midst of winter’s firm grip, the time as come for pitchers and catchers to report for Spring Training.

February-March is the time of the year when baseball hearts emerge from the cold ground as those initial shoots of daffodils. A time when interest and hope are in the air as our Boys of Summer prepare for the annual Rite of Spring.

To baseball fans, spring is a time of hope, resurrection, and anticipation – a time for believing this is the year. To some, that hope may be dashed by mid-May, but hearts remain loyal to their team. There’s always next year! Even while languishing in the cellar, hearts still rejoice with each win – and feels low with each loss.

Baseball is a game played by fan favorites – the icons and legends. Lovers of the game can feel the presence of Ruth, Cobb, Gehrig, Hornsby, and Musial while cherishing the Big Train, the Iron Horse, Wee Willie, Double X, and many more. Unfortunately, most if us knew very little about Satch, Josh, and Cool Papa.

Baseball fans know their childhood heroes as Charlies Hustle, Yaz, Doggie, Little Joe, the Say-Hey Kid, Duke, Mr. Cub, and Pops while fearing the Big Swish, King Kong, and Killer.

Baseball fans appreciate generational links as Ken Griffey Senior and Junior – the 3 generations of Boones or Bells.

The successful careers of brothers as the Alous is difficult to comprehend – let alone contemplating that Boog Powell should have been one of them.

Baseball – that national fascination that grew with the Golden Age of Radio. The game causing families to gather around a large box in the living room to cheer their heroes. A game that a future US President would recreate in a studio from a telegraphic ticker.

Every city has revered radio announcers – names that fans elsewhere may not know – but to locals, these are trusted voices who speak for them. Therefore, it is fitting that the hallowed halls of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York has an announcer’s wing – yet each fan prefers the voice of the one from our team.

I grew up in a time when people listened to many more games than watching. The Reds on TV were a rare treat to be savoured and not missed.

There was a time when Opening Day was Cincinnati’s day – a day all of baseball reserved for its first professional team – a day marking the season’s beginning for the entire baseball universe. This was done at a time before baseball sold its soul to cable TV in the name of money – even opening on another continent – but Cincinnatians ignore everyone and keep its traditions by hosting their Opening Day like no other place.

Baseball season is a marathon – not a sprint. The joy of today will be tempered by the sadness of tomorrow – and that tomorrow will provide the hope for another chance at joy.

There was a time when the October classic was fittingly named and didn’t crown a champion on a cold night in late October or early November. The end of the World Series truly meant the arrival of fall instead of the trumpeting of winter. A time when the leaves would swirl in empty stadiums and the ivy on Wrigley’s walls would go dormant – a time when colder temperatures were nearing, but not here yet.

As snows gather on the northern pallacial diamonds – yet we fans wait as flower bulbs below the snow-covered surface for the return of that annual Rite of Spring.

Baseball season is one of the many cycles of life – just like birds flying south for the winter – just like I vacate my northern outpost. After all, walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On the All-Time Als

Al is short for Allan, Allen, Alan, Albert, Alfred, Alphose, Alfonzo, and Aloysius – but some of the aforementioned never attach to the short form, so this post is about Al.

I have a great long-time friend since our college days named Al, but also a comparatively newer blog friend who is also kind and Al. Al Jarreau, Al Green, Al Dimeola, Al Hirt, and Al Yankovic give us music as Al Capone delivered terror. Al Roker treats us with reports about weather and food, and Al Capp served the world of comics – but there is no reference to anyone named Al Paca.

Politics has placed the spotlight on Al Gore, Al Sharpton, and Al Franken. Meanwhile, different screens served as venues for Al Pacino, Al Bundy, and Al McGuire – but the History Channel does not include a great named Al X Ander. Simply put, this post is about a team competing as the Als of Summer on a baseball diamond.

On first glance, with three hall of famers and numerous all-stars, one would get them in the upper echelon. No way because this team does not have the pitching depth necessary – especially the starting pitching. However, these Als is good enough to be respectable and out-distance the All-Time Randys. Then again, most teams have.

To see the All-Time Randys and other all time teams, see Categories in the right-side sidebar, and then Sports > All-Time Teams or click here.

Ladies and gentlemen, now taking the field, the All-Time Als. (Note: AS=All-Star, HOF = Hall of Fame)

1B – Al Rosen (AS)
2B – Al Dark (AS)
SS – Al Bridwell
3B – Al Smith (AS)
C – Al Lopez (HOF)
OF – Al Kaline (HOF)
OF – Al Simmons (HOF)
OF – Al Oliver (AS)
DH – Al Cowens

SP – Al Leiter (AS)
SP – Al Downing (AS)
SP – Al Benton (AS)
SP – Al Smith (AS)
SP – Al Maul
RP – Al Hrabosky
RP – Al Worthington
RP – Al Holland (AS)
RP – Al Brazle

Bench – Al Bumbry (AS), Al Evans, Al Luplow, Al Martin, and Al Zarilla

Mgr – Al Spalding (HOF)

On the All-Time Larrys

Larry King did the interviews, but Larry Gatlin sang. Larry Holmes provided the knockouts while Larry Csonka pounded for yards. Larry the Legend Bird performed basketball magic, yet Larry Hagman was the magic behind JR.

We can find Larry’s name on restaurants for hamburgers, New York pizza, and cheesecake. I graduated with a Larry, but it’s not the Nutball from the Sunshine state. Larry, Daryl, and Daryl, made Newhart frown, but does anyone remember Larry the Cucumber being the alter ego of Larry-Boy on Veggie Tales? By the way, who is not related to Larry the Lobster from Sponge Bob Square Pants.

No Larrys have occupied the Oval Office, St. Peters, or Buckingham Palace. Actually, Larry the Cable Guy isn’t a Larry (but a Daniel Lawrence), however, 3 Stooges provided a very Fine Larry. (Rim shot)

Despite suggestions from conspiracy theorists, there is no St. Larry Seaway, a TV bandleader named Larry Welk, or a film about Larry of Arabia. Plus, the Jayhawks’ hometown is not Larryville. In other words, how will I treat Lawrences who weren’t Larrys?

A baseball team of Larrys can hit, but pitching is skeptical. Although the staff has wily veterans, this team lacks a bonafide stopper and closer. Nonetheless, the Larrys will easily outdistance the All-Time Randy’s who have a difficult time competing with the average teams.

To see the All-Time Randys and other all time teams, see Categories in the right-side sidebar, and then Sports > All-Time Teams or click here.

Ladies and gentlemen, now taking the field, the AllTime Larrys!

1B – Larry Walker (AS)
2B – Larry Doyle (MVP)
SS – Larry Bowa (AS)
3B – Larry (Chipper) Jones (AS)
C – Lawrence (Yogi) Berra (HOF)

OF – Larry Doby (HOF)
OF – Larry Hisle (AS)
OF – Larry Parish (AS)
DH – Larry Herndon

SP – Larry French (AS)
SP – Larry Jackson (AS)
SP – Larry Dierker (AS)
SP – Larry Gura (AS)
SP – Larry Jansen (AS)

RP – Larry Anderson
RP – Larry Benton
RP – Lary Sorenson (AS)
RP – Larry Christianson

MGR – Larry Bowa

Bench – Larry McLean, Larry Gardner, Larry Kopf, Larry Brown, Larry Stahl, and Larry Haney

On the All-Time Bills

Buffalo Bill is linked to the wild western frontier, but the reverse is a football team. Bill Clinton was a U.S. President, Bill Cullen a game show host, Bill Cosby an actor, comedian, and role model and Bill Bailey came home to a song.

Bill Gates founded Microsoft, Bill Murray makes us laugh, and Bill Cartwright was a pro athlete would wasn’t on Bonanza – but I do have a good friend Bill who is part of the dinner group on Gilligan’s Island.

Baseball is loaded with Bills. There’s the Yankee manager who loved to fight and got frequently fired and rehired; plus a former first baseman who went on to be AL President. The Hall of Fame even enshrines several umpire Bills.

With Bill being a common name, if you think an All-Bills team will be strong – you betcha – and upper division strong to boot! A team of all-Bills not on this team would soundly drub the All-Time Randys – much to the agreement to my college roommate (Bill) who tragically died in a car accident, who was also a good baseball player and also knew Randy.  I even consider splitting the Bill and Billy, but Bills say they have been called worse.

By the way, for the other all-time teams, see Categories in the Sidebar, and then Sports > All-Time Teams or click here.

Ladies and gentlemen, now taking the field, the All-Time Bills.

1B – Bill Terry (HOF)
2B – Bill Mazeroski (HOF)
SS – Billy Goodman (AS)
3B – Bill Herman (HOF)
C – Bill Dickey (HOF)
OF – Billy Williams (HOF)
OF – Billy Hamilton (HOF)
OF – Bill Buckner (AS)
DH – Bill Madlock (AS)

SP – Bill Foster (HOF)
SP – Billy Pierce (AS)
SP – Bill Donovan (AS)
SP – Bill not the Spaceman Lee (AS)
SP – Bill Dinneen
RP – Billy Wagner (AS)
RP – Bill Campbell (AS)
RP – Bill Henry (AS)

Bench – Bill Freehan (AS), Bill Doran (AS), Bill Jurges (AS), Bill White (AS), Bill Nicholson (AS)

Mgr – Bill McKechnie

On All-Time Nicks

Nick isn’t that comma of a name. Sure we have St. Nicholas, Nick Lachey, and a song allowing nick-knack paddy-whack to give a dog a bone, but how many of you know a Nick with a false tooth that illuminates in a black light? – and even quickly flick it up and down after a few drinks?

I first met Nick in 1973, and he’s just another example of how college friendships last longer and are more meaningful that high school friendships – well, as a whole from what I’ve observed.

Nick and I have played sports games since those campus days and somehow ended up at in the same city after college. We kept playing games and even did fantasy baseball in the days when calculations were done with a weekly newspaper, pencil, paper, and a calculator. This year he gave me a run and pulled it out on the last weekend. Sure I can blame CC Sabathia, but Nick’s team also got it done. Congratulations my friend.

With MLB history giving us only 37 Nicks, of which only one All Star (and that was a war year), creativity fielded a time to compete with the All-Time Randys – but even beating them regularly will be difficult.

To see the All-Time Randys and other all time teams, see Categories in the right-side sidebar, and then Sports > All-Time Teams or click here.

Ladies and gentlemen, now taking the field, the All-Time Nicks.

1B – Nick Etten (AS, 1945)
2B – Nick Punto
SS – Nick Green
3B – Nick Esasky
C – Nick Allen
OF – Nick Johnson
OF – Nick Swisher
OF – Nick Markakis
DH – Bill Nicholson (AS)

SP – Nick Altrock
SP – Nick Adenhart
SP – Nick Strincevich
SP – Nick Cullop
SP – Kid Nichols (HOF)
RP – Nick Masset
RP – Chet Nichols Jr.
RP – Rod Nichols

Mgr – Nick Leyva

All-Time Lukes

I haven’t seen Luke in 15-20 years, but through the Internet we’ve reconnected. He writes an interesting blog about various topics about the Bible and archeology. He’s participating as a volunteer in Israel on an archeological dig at Elah Fortress excavation and has posted reports.  Keep up the good work Luke!

In honor of Luke and his work, I pursued an all-time team. Good news is that player nicknames include Old Aches and Pains, Buster, the Nashville Narcissus, Mongoose, and the Hot Potato. Sadly, only 18 Lukes have played in the bigs; thus I’ve been forced into creative mood to field a team – but this team is still not good enough to even compete with the All-Time Randys.

Ladies and Gentlemen. Now taking the field, the All-Time Lukes.

1B – Luke Easter
2B – Johnny Lucadello
SS – Luke Appling (HOF)
3B – Billy Lucas Lush
C – Luke Sewell (AS)
OF – Luke Scott
OF – Eddie Lukon
OF – Matt Luke
DH – Johnny Lucas

SP – Red Lucas
SP – Luke Hamlin
SP – Luke Walker
SP – Luke Hudson
SP – Luke Hochever

RP – Gary Lucas
RP – Luke Prokopec
RP – Ray Lucas

Mgr – Frank Lucchesi

To see more All-Time Teams, click the All-Time Teams link under Sports listed in the Category sidebar to the right.

On Real Names in Baseball

As we know, baseball has an endless list of nicknames. On the other hand, sometimes the player is best known by either his nickname, middle name, or a modification of some sort.

Below is a list of 20 known players and 20 real names, so this is a matching exercise with each answer used once. A fair share of these are easy, so enjoy and good luck. Answers are below the video (a triple play on a ball hit by Chipper).  Tell us how you did.

Players: Buck Ewing, Casey Stengel, Chipper Jones, Cool Papa Bells, Cy Young, Dizzy Dean, Duke Snider, Gabby Harnett, Goose Goslin, Hack Wilson, Honus Wagner, Lefty Gomez, Lefty Grove, Pee Wee Reese, Pie Traynor, Satchel Paige, Smokey Burgess, Sparky Anderson, Tug McGraw, Willie Stargell

First Names: Charles, Charles, Denton, Edwin, Forrest, Frank, George, Harold, James, Jay, John, Larry,  Lawrence, Leon, Leroy, Lewis, Robert, Vernon, William, Wilver


Answers
Buck Ewing – William
Casey Stengel – Charles
Cool Papa Bell – James
Cy Young – Denton
Dizzy Dean – Jay
Duke Snider – Edwin
Gabby Hartnett – Charles
Goose Goslin – Leon
Hack Wilson – Lewis
Honus Wagner – John
Lefty Gomez – Vernon
Lefty Grove – Robert
Pee Wee Reese – Harold
Pie Traynor – Harold
Satchel Paige – Leroy
Smokey Burgess – Forrest
Sparky Anderson – George
Tug McGraw – Frank
Willie Stargell – Wilver
Yogi Berra – Lawrence