Tanner Scheppers

On Saturday, when the Oakland Raiders host the Houston Texans (yes, I know it’s football), the starting QB for the Raiders will be Connor Cook. Connor will be the first rookie in NFL history to have his first career start in a playoff game. This reminded me of something that happened on Opening Day (baseball) in 2014 that you may have missed.

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tanner-scheppers

__________
On March 31, 2014, Tanner Scheppers was the Texas Rangers Opening Day starting pitcher. This was an oddity, because it was Tanner’s first career start.
__________

 

The Opening Day Start is an honor given to the team’s ace, generally as a reward for the previous season’s performance. The Rangers’ intended starter, Yu Darvish, came down with an injury at the end of Spring Training and rather than move everybody up, the Rangers inserted Tanner into the #1 starter’s spot.

It was fitting that Tanner got his big chance due to an injury, as his career has been plagued by injuries. In 2008, he fell to the 2nd round of the draft due to health concerns and refused to sign for a reduced offer. In 2009, he was drafted in the supplemental 1st round by the Rangers (again falling in the draft order due to injury concerns).

When healthy, Tanner has been very good.
The stats below are from baseball-reference.com. Notice the 2013 season when he appeared in 76 games with a 1.88 ERA.

tanner-stats

After his Opening Day start, Tanner had 3 more starts before going on the DL in April. He returned later that season and pitched 4 games in relief before going back on the DL for the remainder of the season. He was back in 2015 and pitched most of the season before missing the last two months with an injury. Tanner later required surgery before the 2016 season but got back to the majors this past September. As mentioned above, in Tanner’s one healthy year, he was excellent — and the workhorse of the Rangers’ bullpen.

Here’s to a healthy 2017 for Tanner.



Some White Sox Stuff —

early-wynnhof-plaque
According to former White Sox pitcher Early Wynn (great name for an Opening Day starter), You always want to win on Opening Day because that means you can’t lose them all”. Early won the Cy Young Award (at age 39) for the pennant-winning 1959 team and was the Sox Opening Day starter in 1960 & 61).

BTW — Early was a switch-hitter who often pinch hit — once hitting a pinch grand slam.

 

Jeff Samardzija started on Opening Day in 2015 — his only year with the White Sox. Chris Sale, the Sox #1 pitcher at the time (3 Opening Day starts), had broken his foot jumping off his pickup truck in the off-season.

Most Sox Opening Day starts: Mark Buehrle-9, Billy Pierce-7, Wilbur Wood-5.

Maybe Jose Quintana will get the honor this year (if he’s still on the team).

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Harmon’s Red Chair

killebrew-red-chair

A number of years ago, my wife and I stayed at a hotel in Bloomington, MN across from the Mall of America. We had tickets to a Sox-Twins game and the lower level of the mall has a transportation center with trains to downtown Minneapolis where the Twins played in the Metrodome.

While wandering through the indoor amusement park, which is in the middle of the MOA, I noticed a red chair attached to one of the walls. It looked odd enough to take a picture. Soon, I learned the significance.
red-chair-closeup

Before the Twins played in the Metrodome, they played in Metropolitan Stadium — the present location of the Mall of America. The red chair marks the spot where the longest home run in the park’s history landed — a 522-foot shot by Harmon Killebrew.

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killebrew-red-chair-infoNext time you’re in MOA, look for this plaque. My picture didn’t turn out so well, but it says that Harmon’s blast was hit on 6/3/1967 into the second deck — over 520 feet from home plate. A replica of home plate may also be found in the amusement park, but I never located it.

———-

met-stadium-killer-home-run

I found this old newspaper photo on-line showing the path of the home run. In those days, they didn’t have TV coverage of every game, and this photo obviously wasn’t taken at the time. Although the batter’s stance looks like Killebrew’s, this batter is getting an intentional walk. Note catcher standing and 2nd baseman and shortstop hanging out near 2nd in case of an overthrow by the catcher (there’s a man on 3rd).

xkillebrew-baseball-card-1966  moa_killebrew_chair1  mall_of_america-2005-05-29  red-chair-w-sign

The Mall of America’s indoor amusement park is sponsored by Pepsi and Nickelodien, and featured rides like “Sponge Bob Square Pants Rock Bottom Plunge”.

At some point, there was a sign next to the chair — not sure if it’s there now.

 

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Southpaw Decorating

This year’s White Sox Christmas Card features Southpaw decorating for the holidays.

southpaw-in-robe

 

 

Here’s a link to the video.

Sox Christmas Card 2016

 

x

Holiday Train SouthpawLast Year’s Card featured Southpaw in a Santa Suit on the “L”.

Here’s a link to last year’s post about Sox Christmas cards over the years.

https://mostlysox.com/2015/12/25/sox-christmas-cards/

southpaw-note-to-santa

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Instead of cookies, Southpaw left Santa a Chicago Dog.

 

 

spaw-signature

Note that in Southpaw’s signature, the bottom of the S is the top of the P.
Knowing this, I can see it in the card he signed for me years ago.

southpaw-card-front    sp-card-back-high-res

Southpaw’s residence is listed as U.S. Cellular Field, which, of course, has changed to —

guaranteed_rate_field_logo

 

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Independence Day at The Cell


Special Base

The Sox celebrated Independence Day with many tributes to our military — active personnel and retired.

 

Israel Del Toro & Rodon

The First Pitch was thrown by Master Sergeant Israel Del Toro (to Carlos Rodon). Here’s a link to a 2010 ABC News story about Israel.
Israel Del Toro re-enlists
Here’s a few details from the story.

Severely burned over more than 80% of his body in an IED explosion in Afghanistan,  Del Toro spent four years convincing the Air Force to allow him to re-enlist. Since his injuries prevent him from deploying, he now trains recruits to do the job he once held – a joint terminal attack controller (JTAC). JTACs are Air Force personnel assigned to Army units on patrol or on the attack, the most forward units in the war. When they come under fire, the JTAC calls in air support and directs that fire into enemy positions.

 

Eaton and Marine Abreu and Soldier

13533193_10155115775778298_5087860043016923870_n

———-Warriors Watch

Active military greeted each Sox player as they took their positions in the 1st inning.

Retired military were recognized pre-game.

“Play Ball” was shouted by a WW II vet. (sorry, no picture)

 

 

Pre-game featured members of Warriors’ Watch riding onto and circling the field.

 

———-

Cycle-2 Cycle-1

Cycles in RF Cycles down 3rd base line

The National Anthem was sung by REO Speedwagon.

Flag Bearers  REO Singing Anthem

REO’s lead singer, Kevin Cronin, grew up on the South Side.REO - Cronin as 11 fullnumber

He played Shortstop as a kid and his favorite player was Louie Aparicio (#11). The White Sox posted a video of Kevin talking about growing up a fan. His 91-year-old father was in the stands for the game.

Cronin talks Sox

 

Kevin also sang God Bless America in the 7th inning.

 

REO - You Can Tune

BTW — REO’s first hit album (double platinum) was

“You Can Tune a Piano But You Can’t Tune a Fish”.

 

Tall Folk

 

Here’s a couple characters we ran into in he concourse.

———-

 

 

Many fans also came dressed for the occasion.

 

Two Girls   Two Guys

Southpaw dressed in his Military Fatigues. He usually goes with more of an Uncle Sam look. Picture of Southpaw in the crowd is from 2012.

Southpaw in Fatigues    Southpaw on the 4th in 2012


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One more thing —

MLB Ballpark Home PageMLB.com has an App called Ballpark.

You load it onto your phone and “Check in” when you arrive at the ballpark.

This unlocks special offers for that game — Free T-shirt the first time you use the app, discounts on food, spin a prize wheel in the Sox Social Lounge on your 10th check-in, etc.

 

One of the app’s features is a contest called “You Make the Call”. Before the game, you answer a couple multiple-choice trivia questions — The July 4 answers were Joe Crede and Jose Valentin (did not hit home run in his 1st at bat, and last Sox player to hit for the cycle). Then, you answer a question about each inning (1st to 8th). E.g. Will the Sox get a hit in the 3rd?, will a Sox player get to  full count in the 4th?, how many strikes will Sox pitcher throw in the 8th? You get 200 point for each trivia answer and 100 points for each correct inning guess.

iPhone     1st Place

I’ve played a few times with mixed results. However, on the 4th, I had the high score with 1100 points. (I don’t think a lot of fans play.)

You can claim your prize after the game at the Sox Social Lounge. I was expecting a cheap (but nice) White Sox Tote Bag, but they couldn’t seem to find one. Finally, one of the employees went into the back room and came out with a draw-string bag containing some pretty good stuff.

PrizeBag

The bag was from the Paul Konerko promotion during his last year (2014) and contained a Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day flat cap from last September, a U.S. Cellular 25th Anniversary picture giveaway from earlier this season, and a Melk Man T-shirt from a recent “Free T-shirt Thursday”.

Well worth playing.

 

And, a good result.

Line Score

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“Moonlight” Graham Day

Today is Moonlight Graham Day.

Moonlight_Graham———-

Archibald Wright “Moonlight” Graham was a baseball player who played one inning in the majors for the New York Giants on June 29, 1905 — but did not get to bat.

He entered the game in the top of the 9th and was in the on-deck circle when the 3rd out was made. He played right field in the bottom of the 9th, but no balls were hit there.

 

BurtLancaster———-

However, Graham became somewhat well known when his character (played by Burt Lancaster) appeared in the movie “Field of Dreams”.

 

 

———-Shoeless_Joe_(novel)

The author W. P. Kinsella used Graham’s story in his 1982 book “Shoeless Joe”, which in 1989 was made into the movie “Field of Dreams” starring Kevin Kostner as Ray Kasella.

The book was true to the facts. The movie made a few minor changes re the date and year of the game, but kept the gist of Graham’s story – besides the fact that the ballplayers probably didn’t walk out of a corn field in real life.

In the movie, “Moonlight” Graham crosses the base line into foul territory to save Ray Kinsella’s daughter although this means that he will never get a chance to bat in the “cornfield” game. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6bD23vEigE

In real life, Dr. Graham was a well-respected physician in Chisholm, MN for 50 years.

———-

Graham’s entry and stats from Baseball-Reference.com are shown below.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/g/grahamo01.shtml

MoonlightGraham from Baseball refMoonlightGraham Stats from Baseball ref

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Punch A.J. Campaign

Ten years ago today, Michael Barrett punched A.J. Pierzynski after a collision at home plate sparking brawl. A.J had scored on a sacrifice fly to left and he took out Barrett who was blocking the plate without the ball (legal in those days).

The Punch———-

Of course, the local papers are revisiting the fight on the 10th anniversary.

Here’s a picture from today’s Trib.

This link is for one of many YouTube videos.  Punch A.J.

If you watch the video, don’t miss Scotty Pods wrestle Barrett to the ground.

The various articles about the collision and fight detail Barrett’s 10-game suspension along with those of Brian Anderson and Joey Cora. A.J. received a $2,000 fine but no suspension.

What the stories don’t point out is that A.J. made a $48,000 profit from the fight. In 2006, A.J. was one of five players in the All-Star Game’s “Final Vote” competition. The White Sox ran a “Punch A.J.” campaign to get out the vote — think punch as in punching your ballot.

Well, in a very close vote, A.J. won the All-Star spot triggering a $50,000 bonus clause in his contract.

Here’s my Punch A.J. T-shirt — and, a bumper sticker that’s still on my Sox bulletin board.

IMG_0360       IMG_0361

Punched AJ

 

 

One fan, I know, edited her T-shirt.

 

 

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Opening Day — 25th Anniversary of The Cell

This year, the White Sox are celebrating the 25th anniversary of their ballpark. (Actually, the ballpark belongs to the state of Illinois.)

Of course, it was called (the new) Comiskey Park when it opened. In 2003, the Sox sold the naming right for $68 million and the park became U.S. Cellular Field. The timing was such that it was U.S. Cellular Field when the White Sox hosted the MLB All-Star Game that year.

——DSCN6040

One of the changes for Opening Day was a new much larger center field video board that featured video pinwheels that can be used for non-pinwheel functions like  spelling out “HOMERUN”.

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Flyover

Here’s a picture of the mandatory Opening Day Flyover. The planes came from Virginia Beach.

 

 

Southpaw on Scoreboard——

The Sox also added new right and left field video boards. Here’s Southpaw in the snow.

Most of the game (delayed only about 20 minutes) was played in light flurries.

 

Barb

 

Temperature was under 40 degrees, but fans were well prepared.

 

 

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As part of the 25th Anniversary Celebration, the White Sox are holding a bracket type voting contest among the park’s best moments. Two of the finalists are Paulie’s World Series Grand Slam and Mark’s Opening Day between the legs flip.

25th Anniv BracketsWhen you visit The Cell, be sure to check out the brick pillars around the concourse, which feature paintings of great moments in the park’s first 25 years. Of course, “Little Louie” never played at The Cell — the pillar celebrates the unveiling of his statue.

Pillar-Aparicio Pillar-Buehrle Pillar-OpeningDay

Prior to the opening of the new ballpark, the White Sox ran a commercial featuring famous Chicagoans who said they would be there for Opening Day. Included were Ray Meyer, Red Kerr, Michael Jordan, Bozo (who had trouble keeping his Sox cap on), and others.

Promo - Date

“I’ll be there”  video

 

 

Promo - Ray Promo - MichaelPromo - Bozo

 

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Best by Number

Buehrle Bobblehead———-

During the off-season, MLB.com manages to churn out stories every day. Some are reports of free agent signings, trades, and new hires — which are actual news. Others are fluff pieces, of which, a small percentage are interesting (to some readers).

Strangely, I found an article titled “The Top Players for Each Uniform Number”, by Paul Casella, to be interesting – Mainly, because it brought back memories of many great players (many before my time), and partly because the White Sox have more than their share of numbers represented.

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Fisk BobbleheadPaul used WAR to rank the players and made the stipulation that the player was eligible only for the number that he wore the most. E.g. Carlton Fisk wore #27 for Boston for 11 years and he wore #72 for the White Sox for 13 years, so he’s #72 for Paul’s article. If you’re not familiar with WAR, it stands for Wins Above Replacement and it rewards a long career (if you’re good), so a Steve Carlton, who pitched for 24 seasons has a higher WAR than a Sandy Koufax, who pitched for 12 seasons, although for a 5-year period (1962-1966), Koufax was arguably the best pitcher ever (5 straight ERA titles, 111 wins, 33 shutouts, 3 Cy Young Awards, an MVP, and 100 Complete Games). BTW – Carlton had a better career than Koufax, winning 4 Cy Young Awards for not-very-good Phillies teams.

———-

Teams did not use uniform numbers regularly until the Yankees and Indians in 1929 although the Indians and Cardinals experimented with numbers on the sleeves for a brief time earlier. So, some really good players never had a number – Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Christy Mathewson, and Rogers Hornsby to name a few. The Yankees just assigned numbers to match their batting order – e.g. Ruth batted 3rd and Gehrig batted 4th.

_______________________________________________

Here’s Paul’s current list, which will no doubt change every year.

00: Jeffrey Leonard (9.7 WAR)

0: Al Oliver (43.3 WAR)

1: Ozzie Smith (76.5 WAR)

2: Charlie Gehringer (80.6 WAR) — Other notables: Derek Jeter (71.8)

3: Babe Ruth (183.7 WAR) — Jimmie Foxx (97.4)

4: Rogers Hornsby (127 WAR) — Lou Gehrig (112.4)

5: Albert Pujols (99.7 WAR) — George Brett (88.4)

6: Stan Musial (128.1 WAR) — Al Kaline (92.5)

7: Mickey Mantle (109.7 WAR)

8: Joe Morgan (100.3 WAR) – Carl Yastrzemski(96.1)

9: Ted Williams (123.2 WAR)

10: Lefty Grove (103.6 WAR)

11: Paul Waner (72.8 WAR)

12: Roberto Alomar (66.8 WAR)

13: Alex Rodriguez (118.8 WAR)

14: Pete Rose (79.1 WAR) — Ernie Banks (67.4)

15: Red Ruffing (70.1 WAR)

16: Ted Lyons (71.5 WAR) – White Sox

17: Todd Helton (61.2 WAR)

18: Red Faber (64.8 WAR)

19: Robin Yount (77 WAR)

20: Frank Robinson (107.2 WAR) — Mike Schmidt(106.5)

21: Roger Clemens (140.3 WAR) — Warren Spahn (100.2), Roberto Clemente (94.5)

22: Jim Palmer (69.4 WAR) — Clayton Kershaw (47.2)

23: Ryne Sandberg (67.5 WAR) — Robin Ventura (56), Zack Greinke (51.9)

24: Willie Mays (156.2 WAR)

25: Barry Bonds (162.4 WAR) — Jim Thome (72.9)

26: Wade Boggs (91.1 WAR)

27: Scott Rolen (70 WAR))

28: Bert Blyleven (95.3 WAR)

29: Adrian Beltre (83.8 WAR) — Rod Carew (81.1)

30: Tim Raines (69.1 WAR)

31: Greg Maddux (106.9 WAR) — Fergie Jenkins (84.9) see note-1

32: Steve Carlton (90.4 WAR)

33: Larry Walker (72.6 WAR)

34: Nolan Ryan (81.8 WAR)

35: Phil Niekro (96.6 WAR) — Frank Thomas (73.7)

36: Gaylord Perry (91 WAR)

37: Keith Hernandez (60 WAR)

38: Curt Schilling (79.9 WAR)

39: Larry Jackson (52.2 WAR)

40: Frank Tanana (57.9 WAR) — Bartolo Colon (45.0)

41: Tom Seaver (110.5 WAR)

42: Jackie Robinson (61.5 WAR) — Mariano Rivera (57.1)  note-2

43: Dennis Eckersley (63 WAR)

44: Hank Aaron (142.6 WAR) — Reggie Jackson (73.8 WAR)

45: Bob Gibson (89.9 WAR)

46: Andy Pettitte (60.8 WAR)

47: Tom Glavine (81.5 WAR)

48: Rick Reuschel (70 WAR)

49: Ron Guidry (48.1 WAR)

50: Jamie Moyer (50.4 WAR)

51: Randy Johnson (102.1 WAR)

52: CC Sabathia (55.8 WAR)

53: Don Drysdale (67.2 WAR)

54: Rich “Goose” Gossage (42 WAR)

55: Orel Hershiser (56.8 WAR)

56: Mark Buehrle (58.5 WAR) – White Sox

57: Johan Santana (51.4 WAR)

58: Jonathan Papelbon (24 WAR)

59: Ismael Valdez (24.2 WAR)

60: Dallas Keuchel (12 WAR)

61: Livan Hernandez (31.1 WAR)

62: Jose Quintana (15.1 WAR) — White Sox

63: Rafael Betancourt (14.3 WAR)

64: Mike Fiers (4.9 WAR)

65: Phil Hughes (12.3 WAR)

66: Juan Guzman (24.6 WAR)

67: Francisco Cordova (13.4 WAR)

68: Dellin Betances (7.3 WAR)

69: N/A*

70: George Kontos (2.1 WAR)

71: Taylor Douthit (11.7 WAR)

72: Carlton Fisk (68.3 WAR) — White Sox

73: Ricardo Rincon (7.5 WAR)

74: Kenley Jansen (9.6 WAR)

75: Barry Zito (32.6 WAR)

76: Matt West (0.1 WAR) — 3 scoreless innings for Dodgers in 2015.  note-3

77: D.J. Carrasco (4.6 WAR)

78: Guillermo Rodriguez (-0.1 WAR)

Abreu Bobblehead79: Jose Abreu (9.3 WAR) — White Sox

80: Mason Williams (0.1 WAR)  note-4

81: Lou Lucier (0.2 WAR)

82: N/A*

83: N/A*

84: N/A*

85: Che-Hsuan Lin (-0.2 WAR)

86: Never worn

87: N/A*

88: Rene Gonzales (4.3 WAR) note-5

89: Never worn

90: Never worn

91: Alfredo Aceves (4.5 WAR)

92: Never worn

93: Never worn

94: Dalier Hinojosa (1.1 WAR)

95: Takahito Nomura (-0.6 WAR)

96: Bill Voiselle (10.6 WAR)  note-6

97: Joe Beimel (7.3 WAR)

98: Onelki Garcia (-0.1 WAR)

99: Hyun-jin Ryu (5.7 WAR)

*These numbers have been worn, but by no player for the majority of his career.

The White Sox have 5 players on the list that played the majority of their careers for the team.

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note-1 A few years ago, the Cubs retired #31 for both Greg and Fergie.

note-2 Since this number is retired for all teams, Jackie Robinson’s place on the list is safe unless Mariano comes out of retirement.

note-3 Matt pitched 3 scoreless innings for Dodgers in 2015. 

note-4 Mason is the only player to ever wear No. 80 (Yankees-2015). 

note-5 At her retirement ceremony, Nancy Faust (White Sox organist from 1970 to 2010) wore jersey #88. Of course, it’s the number of keys on a piano.

Faust-88  Nancy Faust Bobblehead

note-6 Bill Voiselle wore #96 because he grew up in Ninety-six SC. I wrote about him in the article featuring Carlos May of the White Sox.

__________________________________________________

Not mentioned in Paul’s article was the best player ever to wear number 1/8.

Gaedel

On August 19, 1951, Eddie Gaedel (3’7″)batted for the St. Louis Browns and walked on four pitches.

The Browns owner was Bill Veeck.

 

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Sox Christmas Cards

For a number of years, the White Sox have sent out Christmas Cards to their Season Ticket Holders. Here’s one from a few years ago.

Front of Card                             Inside of Card

LetItSnow - Cover      LetItSnow - Inside

In recent years, the Sox have gone digital —
This year sending a Ticket to the White Sox Holiday Train.

Holiday Train Ticket
Click here to go for a ride.

The Sox link to last year’s Christmas Card is no longer active. If the link above does not work, try the YouTube version below.
Sox-2015 Christmas Card on YouTube
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The fans, naturally, enter the train car by passing through a turnstile.
Micah Johnson was he only player shown on the Sox Train. Unfortunately, he was
traded before Christmas.

Holiday Train Turnstile Holiday Train Micah

———-
Holiday Train Organist

White Sox organist, Lori Moreland, was
playing on the train.

———-

 

Holiday Train Southpaw———-
Southpaw was dressed in a Santa Suit.

See the post “Southpaw Wore a Toga”
for a look at some of his other outfits.

———-

Below, a young Sox fan admires the Championship Trophy.
And, the White Sox Racers had a little trouble with the height of the doorways.

Holiday Train Trophy   Holiday Train Legends

Christmas in July T-shirt———-

This past season, the White Sox introduced the promotion “Christmas in July” featuring a free “ugly T-shirt”.

———-

An old Christmas Card and an old video link that doesn’t work anymore.

Xmas card 2012      Sox Xmas Present - 2014

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My Favorite Sox Card.

Sox Christmas Card

Nellie Fox Card

My favorite player growing up was born on Christmas.

 

———-

Merry Christmas.

 

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He Gone

Last week, the White Sox fired bench coach Mark Parent with 3 games left in the season. Mark was hired as Robin Ventura’s bench coach when Robin got the manager’s job a few years ago. Mark had a 13-year career, mostly as a backup catcher for multiple teams.

——s-l225

Mark broke in with the Padres and eventually played for another half dozen teams.

There are over 240 listings for his cards on eBay with most costing under $1.

——

 

Mark has a reputation for being a no-nonsense outspoken guy.

My favorite memory of Mark’s White Sox years is the time he got thrown out of a game while exchanging the starting lineups before the August 24, 2013 game vs. the Texas Rangers. Here’s a link to a YouTube clip with Steve Stone announcing.

Parent is Gone

ParentEjected-01     ParentEjected-02

This game featured a “fan experience” in which a lucky fan was selected to help deliver the starting lineup to the umpires. Truly a unique experience.

——

I’m not sure why a team would fire a coach with 3 games left in the season.
The next time I talk to Rick Hahn, I will ask him.

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