Quick Takes


    Sent to me by Dennis Cler:
I love the McCarver-Gibson quote you printed on April 5.  I had heard that one before and another good one between those two went something like this:
Gibson was running into some trouble on the mound and the Cardinals bench was telling McCarver to go to the mound to settle him down.  Of course, McCarver wasn't very anxious to do that, given Gibson's fiery mood on the mound.  Reluctantly, McCarver heads for the hill but before he gets there, Gibson hollers at him, in similar wording, "What are you going to tell me about pitching?  The only thing you know about pitching is that it's hard to hit."


    Thanks, Dennis. It reminded me of a sign Frank Sinatra had on the gate to his estate in Rancho Mirage. It read, “YOU BETTER HAVE A DAMN GOOD REASON FOR RINGING THIS BELL.” And the same applied to anyone who attempted to talk with Bob Gibson during a game he was pitching, and I do mean anyone.


    It offers tremendous hope for all NFL teams. It provides incredible intrigue. It has seen months of build-up. It has a tv viewing audience in the mega-millions. And it’s not even a game. It’s the NFL draft this weekend. Don’t miss it. I won’t.


Story of the Week


By historian Lee Panas in 2005 followed by my comments:


    For the period in which he played, Rudy York was very big (6-1, 209 lbs.) and the Detroit Tigers were excited about his power potential. However, he was primarily a first baseman, a position held by future Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg. According to York, this left him as "a man without a position."


    Finally, his break came in August of his rookie year, 1937. Due to a rash of injuries, York was installed as the starting catcher by Tigers player-manager Mickey Cochrane on August 4. York responded to the opportunity by going two for five with a three run home run and four RBI. His performance helped the Tigers to an 11-7 victory ending their five game losing streak.


    He would start every game except one at catcher for the rest of the month. York continued to hit getting a single and a double on August 5 versus the Athletics and hitting his second home run of the month on August 6 in a 10-3 victory versus the Washington Senators. He solidified his status as starting catcher by playing both ends of a double header on August 7. The Tigers won the first game 3-2 on a three run blast by York in the 7th inning. His fourth home run of August came on the 8th day of the month in a 5-1 win over the Senators.


    He was quiet for a few games but then hit his fifth homer of the month in the second game of a crazy doubleheader sweep over the St. Louis Browns on August 14. The Tigers pounded out 40 hits including eight home runs in 16-1 and 20-7 routs of the Browns.


    On August 17, York celebrated his 24th birthday by going four-for-five with a triple, a homer and three RBI in an 11-7 slugfest win over the Chicago White Sox. He kept up his torrid pace going three for four with two home runs and six RBI on August 19 as the Tigers routed the White Sox 12-4. He now had eight home runs and 27 RBI for the month but the best was yet to come.


    He added another home run in the first game of a doubleheader sweep of the Browns on the August 22. In the second game of the twin bill, he did not start for the first time in 20 games. York rested and Bolton started in his place. However, this did not prevent York from smashing his 10th home run of the month. His pinch hit blast in the 9th inning ignited a two run rally which tied the game. The Tigers went on to win it in the 10th inning.


    There would be no more resting of York. He started both games of a doubleheader on August 24 against the Athletics. In game one, he went two for four with a pair of solo home runs in a 6-3 victory. It was the 10th game that month that York had hit at least one home run and the Tigers had won all 10 games. The Tigers lost the second game 9-8 but it was not York's fault. He had three more hits including a double and a homer and knocked in three runs.


    He continued to punish Athletic pitching the next day going three for four with a home run and five RBI in a 10-4 romp. This gave him 6 homers and 12 RBI in five games. It also gave him 14 home runs and 39 RBI for the month. He was far from done though.


    Home run number 15 was a three run shot in the first inning of an 8-5 loss to the Boston Red Sox on August 27. On August 30, his 16th homer helped to beat the New York Yankees 5-4. He was now one home run short of the all time record for a month set by Babe Ruth in September of 1927.


    On the final day of the month, the Tigers faced the Senators. Far, far over the left field fence into Cherry Street, big Rudy swatted one of Pete Appleton's pitches in the first inning to equal Ruth's record of 17 home runs. In the sixth inning, York swung on another Appleton pitch to his liking, walloped the ball even harder over the left center field scoreboard and collected his second home run of the afternoon. That blow topped Ruth's record of 17 homers for one month.


    Along with his 18 homers,  Rudy York  batted .360 with 49 RBI (also a record at the time) for the month of August. He added 5 more home runs in September, and finished the season with 35 home runs, 103 RBI, a .307 batting average and a lofty .651 slugging percentage. All  this damage was done in only 375 at-bats.


    York wound up playing 13 Major League seasons, most of them with the Detroit Tigers. He batted .275, had an on base percentage of .362 and hit 277 home runs in 1,603 games. He hit 20 or more home runs 8 times, drove in 100 or more runs 6 times and played in seven all-star games. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox in 1946 and later spent time with the Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Athletics.


    Now, almost 70 years later, York still holds the American League record for home runs in one month. (The major league record was broken by Sammy Sosa who hit 20 home runs in June of 1998, a record I don’t recognize. How many of those home runs were induced by drugs?)  Joe DiMaggio drove in 53 runs in August of 1939 to break York's record for RBI in one month.


    There are factors making York's feat even more remarkable. First, he played in an era not dominated by the long ball as it is today. Add to that the fact that he was a rookie without a regular job prior to that month, and did not start the first three games of the month. He was also an inexperienced catcher forced to play that demanding position 28 games in 28 days including four doubleheaders. Rudy York’s month of August, 1937 was an incredible performance.


Last Week’s Trivia


    “Pistol Pete” Maravich, LSU, is the most prolific college basketball scorer of all time. His records are as follow:


  Holds NCAA career record for most points (3,667, 44.2 ppg, three-year career).

  Holds NCAA career record for highest points per game average (44.2 ppg).

  Holds NCAA record for most field goals made (1,387) and attempted (3,166).

  Holds NCAA record for most free throws made (893) and attempted (1,152).

  Holds NCAA record for most games scoring at least 50 points (28).

  Holds NCAA single-season record for most points (1,381) and highest per game average (44.5 ppg) in 1970.

  Holds NCAA single-season record for most field goals made (522) and atempted (1,168) in 1970.

  Holds NCAA single-season record for most games scoring at least 50 points (10) in 1970.

  Holds NCAA single-game record for most free throws made (30 of 31) against Oregon State on Dec. 22, 1969.


Trivia Question of the Week


    What Hall-of-Famer hit over .400 over a five-year span? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.