Monthly Archives: June 2009

Remembering Michael Jackson.

I’m not trying to report this news days after the world was shocked and saddened by the death of Michael Jackson.

I, like many of you, have spent a lot more time in the last few days thinking about Michael and the incredible talents he shared with us.  I dug out my CD’s and have been glued to the constant stream of programming that has been airing about Michael since Thursday.  And while I became less of a fan of his work after his ‘Bad’ album, there is no denying the impact he has left on the music, pop, and dance industries.   He will always be remembered as an entertainer first, which is exactly how a ground breaking artist should be thought of!!!

It has taken a few days to dig out, and that is the reason this post is a few days late, but I have found a ticket stub from my very first concert.  As a 9-year old boy, my family went to the Orange Bowl in Miami to see Michael and the Jackson 5′s Victory tour.  My memories of the show are vague, but I do recall a sold out stadium of 60,000+ fans screaming for hours as the ‘King of Pop’ and his talented brothers entertained us for a few hours on that night.  I remember the screaming girls, the lights, and what stands out the most was the reaction of the crowd when Michael was alone on the stage performing ‘Billie Jean’ for all of us.

It was an amazing night, and even though I was very far away from the stage I had an awesome experience and it is one that I will never forget.

Here is the ticket from that amazing concert. jacksons

Rest in peace, Michael!!!

Florida Marlins Inter-League Wrap Up

With the 2009 Inter-league season now behind us, the Florida Marlins have put themselves in a position in which their confidence should be at a season high.

After dancing with the American League East for a few weeks, the Marlins finished that jaunt with a 9-6 record.  The AL East boasts some pretty tough competition and the Marlins won 3 of the 5 series’ that they competed in against the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Orioles.  They were only able to secure 1 win against the Red Sox and they were swept by their in-state rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays.

Now they sit in 3rd place in the National League East with a 38-39 record.  Maybe that break while they played teams from the ‘other’ league will give them the confidence they need to make a run at the Mets and Phillies.   The Marlins pitching staff has turned it around as of late, and their offense is starting to get more consistent contributions from the entire lineup.  If their bullpen can get into gear, the team may have what it takes to make a run at the division title.

My goal for the team by the All-star break is to overtake the Mets for 2nd place in the division while also securing enough wins to give them a record better than .500.

Go Fish!!! 

Orioles Marlins Baseball

Did You Know…

The only player to appear in three consecutive World Series with three different teams was Don Baylor, with the Boston Red Sox in 1986, the Minnesota Twins in 1987, and the Oakland A’s in 1988. 

baylor

He’s smiling for good reason!!!

Happy Anniversary Eddie Murray!!!

On this day in 1995 Eddie Murray collected the 3,000th hit of his amazing baseball career!!!

In his 19th big league season while playing DH for the Cleveland Indians, Murray joined baseball’s elite group of hitters.

In the 6th inning, he smacked a single off of Mike Trombley of the Minnesota Twins and that moment became history!!!

Murray ended his baseball career with 3,225 hits which currently ranks him in 12th place in baseball history.

Congratulations Mr. Murray!!! 

murray

**Normally I try to find a card issued from the same year as the event, but I just cannot get used to seeing Eddie out of his Orioles colors!!!

The Status Of My Billy Williams Collection

It’s very simple.  This is a collection I started back in 1990 after moving to the city of Chicago.  Billy Williams was still the talk of the town 3 years removed from his enshrinement into Cooperstown.  While Ernie Banks is the king of Chicago baseball, I fell for Billy Williams.

The collection started quickly but has taken quite a long time to get to where it is today.  Although I did have a 15+ year hiatus in the mix, this collection is coming close to being 20 years in the works. 

And while I still have a nice handful of cards to get for this set to be complete, I am in no rush at all.  To be quite honest, I don’t want to finish it yet.  It’s been too much fun and I don’t want the excitement about getting new(old) cards of Williams to fade.

So here is what I currently own.  It’s not a whole lot, but the meaning more than makes up for the volume.

100_6568

An autographed copy of his book personalized ‘To Brian’, a signed National League baseball, 22 cards from his playing days, and a small handful of certified autograph and game-used memorabilia cards.

All of a sudden I have an itch to add a few more to my collection…  Stay tuned!!!

My Billy Williams ‘White Whale’

Ah, the 1965 Topps Billy Williams card.

This card has eluded me for some time.  The design screams old-school and I love all of it!!!

I have wanted to add this card to my Billy Williams player collection for almost a year now(since I got back into collecting). 

And truth be told I can buy it right now on Ebay for a pretty decent price, especially once you consider that this particular card is 44 years old.  Currently there are 3 auctions and 7 stores offering up this card.  I could own this card with just a few easy and effortless clicks of the mouse.

But, for me it is more of a personal quest.  You see, I have never seen one of these ’65 beauties in person.  NEVER.  EVER.  Of all of the baseball card shows and baseball card stores I have frequented both in my current collecting years and in my past, this card has eluded me.  And it’s not for a lack of effort either.   The most common question I ask at a show is ‘Do you have a ’65 Billy Williams for sale’.  And each and every time the answer is the same – ‘Sorry, No.’

So, my quest will continue.  I will end up with 1 at some point – I am certain of it!!!  When it is meant to be, it will be.  Until then I will enjoy my hunt and keep my eyes peeled for my true ‘White Whale’!!!! 

bw 1965

That Plaque, I Love That Plaque!!!

I want to visit the Hall of Fame so badly.  I have purposely stopped myself from buying any Cooperstown-related memorabilia via the Internet as I am dying to do it in person.

I am hoping that this dream is made into a reality sometime in the future(the sooner the better).  We’ll see how that goes…

In the meantime, here is Billy Williams’ Hall of Fame plaque.

plaque

So Close To Winning Two MVP Awards!!!

As the readers of this bog know by now, I have an admiration for Johnny Bench.  He was a leader and class act on the field and helped his team remain at the pinnacle of the sport in the 1970′s when there was quite a bit of heavy competition.

And with all of the positives that I can go on and on about his wonderful career, I have to admit that I believe he is the reason that Billy Williams is not a 2-time Most Valuable Player and he is also probably the reason that it took Williams so long to get voted into the Hall of Fame.

The facts:  Johnny Bench is a 2-time MVP award winner.  His 2 wins came in 1970 and 1972.  In each of those seasons, the second place player was Billy Williams.

Here is a peek at their stats during those two campaigns:

1970            
Player Hits Average HR’s RBI Runs  Notes
Bench 177 0.293 45 148 97 All-Star, Gold Glove
Williams 205 0.322 42 129 137  
             
1972            
Player Hits Average HR’s RBI Runs  Notes
Bench 145 0.270 40 125 87 All-Star, Gold Glove
Williams 191 0.333 37 122 95 All-Star, Batting Title

 

Pretty comparable huh??  Williams was such a dynamic player that if he had been on a team with a history of winning than he may be just as heralded of a player as the great, Johnny Bench!!!

bw 1970

He Was Called ‘Sweet Swingin’ Billy Williams’ For A Reason

Before the likes of Ken Griffey, Jr. and Will Clark and Mark Grace.  Even before Don Mattingly and Wade Boggs.  And even before George Brett and Rod Carew.

Billy Williams was tagged as having one of the sweetest left-handed strokes in all of the game well before this impressive list of talented lefties.

‘Sweet Swingin’ Billy Williams’ was tagged as such for his incredible talent at the plate.  A perfect swing with just a hint of upper-cut, Williams possessed a swing that was often tagged as ‘textbook’.  Perfect timing, excellent balance, and supreme control – ‘Sweet Swingin’ Billy Williams’ thrilled fans and players alike with his batting skills.

Williams was a master at the plate.  And the numbers back up just how solid of a hitter he was:

2,711 career hits.  434 Doubles.  88 Triples.  426 Home Runs.  .290 Career Batting Average.

Before there was ‘The Natural’ or ‘The Thrill’ or ‘Amazing Grace’, there was ‘Sweet Swingin’ Billy Williams’!!!! 

bw photo

Billy Williams Wins The 1961 Rookie Of The Year Award!!!

It took very little time for Billy Williams to establish himself as a regular player once he got the opportunity in 1961.

As a rookie, Williams played in 146 of the team’s 162 games.  During those games, he solidified himself as a talented hitter and became the team’s everyday left fielder.

The numbers Williams put up in his first full major league season were impressive.  Billy Williams collected 147 hits while batting .278.  He also hit 20 doubles, 25 home runs, drove in 86 runs, and scored 75 times.  With 584 plate appearances, Williams showed a lot of poise for a rookie as he only struck out 70 times while drawing 45 walks.

Billy Williams’ great year was capped by winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award.  Of the 16 first place votes, he gathered 10 of them as he outdistanced Milwaukee’s Joe Torre who finished in a distant second place. 

bw rookie