Quick Takes


          “Little league is good because it keeps parents off the street and the kids out of the house.” Yogi Berra.


          At this writing, Barry Bonds is struggling to make it to Ruth’s 714. I know the problem; he’s using a bat. If he simply let the ball hit his head, the thing would travel 600’.


          Remember this? It was a travesty of justice that Roger Clemens, then of the Yankees, won the Cy Young in 2001. Mark Mulder, then of the A’s, had a better record in 10 different pitching categories than Clemens, but was passed up for the award. The 10 pitching categories in which Mulder was superior to Clemens included earned run average 3.45-3.51, wins 21-20, innings pitched 229-220, shutouts 4-0, complete games 6-0, quality starts 17-12, fewest base runners per nine innings 10.51-11.53, walks 51-72, walks per nine innings 2.00-2.94, and wins after a team loss 11-8. Only one reason why Mulder didn’t win that Cy Young; his name wasn’t Clemens!


          Ageless Julio Franco (47. He’ll be 48 in August.) recently became the oldest player in MLB history to hit a homer. He’s now with the Mets. I love this guy; old people naturally love this guy!


          Thanks to my Aussie pal Brett Simmons for this:

Why does Mike Tyson cry during sex? Mace will do that to you.


           Rick Dames and I met over a poker table, and have become good friends. He grew up in New York. He was Station Manager of legendary KSHE Radio in St. Louis. He was VP/GM of WHN in New York; that station had the rights to the Mets games. He had Gary Thorne under contract, hired Bob Costas for pre-and-post-game and Howie Rose before he was the New York Islanders commentator.  His WFAN became the nation’s first all-sports radio station.  Rick owned the Waco Wizards of the Western Professional Hockey League. He also owned and managed radio stations in Corpus Christi, and did the color commentary for the Corpus Christi Ice Rays of the Central Hockey League for six years. He’s in the Broadcast Wing of the Central Hockey League Hall of Fame. He makes our watching our minor league Las Vegas Wranglers an experience throughout the game. He should absolutely finish a lifetime of accomplishment in hockey doing NHL commentary.


Story of the Week



          Babe Ruth once said, “I decided to pick out the greatest hitter to watch and study, and Joe Jackson was good enough for me.” During his 10 years as a regular, 1911-1920, Jackson never hit below .300. But his legacy is a dubious one, to be sure.

          Joseph Jefferson Jackson never learned to read or write, but he could hit, run and field. He hit .356 lifetime, third highest in major league history behind only Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby, and his glove was named “the place triples go to die.” Yet he remains under a cloud for his part, whatever it was if any, in the Black Sox World Series of 1919.

          Shoeless Joe spent 1908 and 1909 on the Philadelphia A’s roster, but played in only five games in each of those years. He was then traded to Cleveland and blossomed there, making 1911 his breakthrough year by hitting .408, and finishing second only to Ty Cobb in batting, slugging, hits, doubles and total bases. He hit .395 in 1912, and .373 in 1913. However, Cleveland was a last-place club, and they sold Jackson to the Chicago White Sox in the middle of 1915. Joe helped the Sox win the AL pennant and the World Series in 1917.

          Sox first baseman Chick Gandil first approached Jackson about throwing the 1919 World Series. Jackson promptly called owner Charles Comiskey, and asked to be benched, but Comiskey refused to hear him out. While Jackson was the leading hitter (.375), set a Series record for hits (12), and knocked in six runs, Sox pitcher Lefty Williams gave Jackson the sum of $5,000 for his part in the fix. To Jackson’s eternal discredit, he took the money, although it always perplexed historians as to how he was involved in a fix with the numbers he posted in that World Series. Chicago lost the Series to Cincinnati, five games to three.

          In 1920, Jackson hit .382, but late that season, an investigation by a grand jury took place. Jackson stated that he did accept the $5,000, but that he had absolutely nothing to do with throwing the Series the year before. Although acquitted, Jackson and the other Black Sox were barred from baseball for life by Commissioner Landis. (A guy named Selig could learn from him as it relates to steroids.) Shoeless Joe actually sued Comiskey for back pay, and won a judgment of $16,711, but that judgment was overturned. The sitting judge ordered him to jail for perjury, and after a brief stay, he accepted a small settlement from Comiskey.

          This article required a good deal of research. I knew it would. Much of what I could gather was rather cloudy as the written accounts of the Black Sox scandal were in contradiction. I am personally satisfied, by virtue of the numbers he put up in the 1919 Series, that Jackson had no part in the scandal, but the fact that he took the $5,000 payoff does not make lots of sense to me. Nor does Charles Comiskey’s passive handling of the situation when approached by Jackson at the outset. It is difficult to pinpoint something that took place over 86 years ago, especially since the facts of the scandal were so hotly debated even then.

          Jackson ran several successful businesses in his hometown of Brandon Mills, South Carolina, but never learned even to write his own name. TV host Ed Sullivan had scheduled Jackson to appear on his show on December 6, 1951. However, on the day before Jackson was to appear on the show, the fabled former star outfielder died of a heart attack at the age of 63.


Last Week’s Trivia


          Dwight Clark owns five Super Bowl rings from the same team, San Francisco. He played on two Super Bowl teams, and stayed on as a coach for three more Super Bowls.


Trivia Question of the Week


          Thanks to Del Haines of Long Island, N.Y. for this one. Who are the only players in NBA history to be named MVP of the All Star game, the regular season, and the playoffs all in the same season? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.