Tag Archives: Willie Mays

Hall of Fame induction finally goes unanimous

I am delighted to see that the great “closer” Mariano Rivera became the first Major League baseball player to win induction into the Hall of Fame unanimously.

Rivera could be depended on to finish off a game by coming in during the eighth or ninth inning to get the final outs. He belongs in MLB’s Hall of Fame.

However, I have to wonder: What in the world took the baseball writers so long to induct someone unanimously?

How in the world did, oh, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Johnny Bench, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio — I could go on forever — fail to obtain unanimous induction into the Hall of Fame?

I can see how some of the all-time greats might have gotten “no” votes from the baseball writers. Ted Williams was pretty much despised by the writers who covered him, and he returned the negative vibes during his entire career. But still . . .

My bet for the first unanimous pick would have been Derek Jeter, the retired New York Yankee infielder who soon will become eligible for HofF induction soon.

Whatever. It’s politics, I suppose.

Now that the baseball scribes have broken the unanimous-vote ice, there might be more to come. That would be my hope.

MLB honors Say Hey Kid

This story kind of slipped past us as we have been fixated on Puerto Rico’s hurricane recovery and assorted troubles afflicting the Donald J. Trump administration.

Major League Baseball has announced a new award it will bestow in honor of one of the greatest men ever to play professional hardball.

The Willie Mays Most Valuable Player Award will go henceforth to the player who earns it while playing in the World Series.

Willie Mays is now 86 years of age. He played in four World Series. His New York Giants won one of them, in 1954, against the Cleveland Indians. During that Series, Mays made “The Catch,” in deep center field off the bat of Indians slugger Vic Wertz.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred made the announcement on the 63rd anniversary of that spectacular catch.

Mays crafted an iconic career over more than two decades playing for the Giants — first in New York and then in San Francisco — and for the New York Mets. And just so you know, I got to watch Mays play ball in August 1964. It was in Candlestick Park in San Francisco against the Cincinnati Reds. If memory serves, Mays went hitless that day … but, hey, he’s Willie Mays, man.

I am glad to see this great athlete’s name placed on an award that will be given in his honor.

Willie Mays could do it all. And he did it with verve, panache and tremendous skill.

See ya later, A-Rod

A rod

Oh, how I wanted to root for Alex Rodriguez.

Back when Barry Bonds was chasing down Henry Aaron’s career home run record, my hope was that if Bonds got the record then A-Rod would come along to snatch it away from Bonds.

I’ve always thought of Hammerin’ Hank to be the “real home run king” as it is, given that he pounded out those 755 homers without the aid of performance-enhancing drugs.


Bonds was dirty. A cheater. He’d been suspected of using drugs to make him bigger and stronger. He didn’t deserve to be called Home Run King Barry.

A-Rod would assume the role. Then he became tainted. He tested positive for drug use. Major League Baseball suspended him for the 2014 season.

Now he’s a cheater, too.

Today, Rodriguez announced he would play his final game for the New York Yankees this coming Friday, after which he’ll become something called an “adviser” to the team.

As a one-time baseball fanatic who used to love watching Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Stan Musial, I am left feeling nothing at all about A-Rod’s departure from the Grand Old Game.

He’s a Yankee interloper. He came to the Yanks some years ago after stints with the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers. He sought to become the “leader” of baseball’s premier franchise, except that it had a field leader by the name of Derek Jeter.

Sure, he put up some impressive stats for the Yankees. But, wouldn’t you know it, he had help in the form of PEDs.

Now he’s about to be gone from the game.

Alex Rodriguez let me down … and I won’t miss him in the least.

What’s more, Henry Aaron is still the home run king.

MPEV can boost baseball fortunes for city


Paul Matney is a diehard baseball fan.

He admits to it readily, telling audiences how — as a high school student — he used to post the scores along the outfield wall at the old Potter County Memorial Stadium.

Matney, who grew up to become president of Amarillo College, also tells the story of how he saw the great Willie Mays — yep, that Willie Mays — get picked off at second base during an exhibition game between the San Francisco Giants and the Cleveland Indians.

Matney, who’s now co-chairing a political action group called Vote FOR Amarillo, is making the case on behalf of the multipurpose event venue that’s up for a non-binding vote Nov. 3. City residents are going to decide if they want an MPEV — which includes a baseball park — built in downtown Amarillo. It’s a non-binding vote, but the City Council would commit political suicide if it went against the wishes of the voters, which makes the vote politically binding.

I got to hear Matney’s pitch once more this morning and he is as convincing as he’s been all along.

Amarillo has been a baseball town for many decades. It can be a great baseball town yet again if we build a venue that can attract the interest and attention of Major League Baseball executives looking for a place to develop a minor-league baseball affiliate.

Amarillo can be ripe for such a relationship, Matney said.

The Amarillo Thunderheads — for whom Matney moonlights as a public address announcer — is an independent non-affiliated outfit that plays in a venue that Matney said is “at the end of its life.” That’s a nice way of saying what many of us have known for a very long time: Potter County’s stadium is a dump. Why don’t more fans attend Thunderheads baseball games? Look at the place where they play.

Matney mentioned how a visiting team — on the advice of its manager and coaches — changed into its uniforms at the hotel where it was staying, rather than doing so in the visitors’ clubhouse.

The MPEV is slated to cost around $32 million. It will be paid for with revenue bonds, which will be retired through hotel/motel tax and sales tax revenue. Matney insisted yet again that “no property taxes will be used” to pay for the stadium.

He described the MPEV as a vital component to the convention hotel that is planned for downtown, along with a parking garage. The Embassy Suites hotel owner is footing the bill himself — with help from investors — for the $45 million hotel.

The parking garage feature 24,000 square feet of retail space and it will be financed through rental and parking fees.

The MPEV, baseball park — or whatever you want to call it — can become a vital component to downtown Amarillo’s rebirth. What’s more, if downtown sees an infusion of new life, the energy will ripple throughout the city.

As Matney noted, using the cliché, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

In this case, such a saying is more than just a string of words. It speaks to the future of our city.

Play ball!


A-Rod will get no love for passing 'Say Hey'

Alex Rodriguez is just a handful of home runs away from passing a true baseball legend’s career homer mark.

That would be Willie Mays, who finished his storied career with 660 home runs. A-Rod is just a few dingers away from that mark. The Say Hey Kid’s godson, Barry Bonds, cannot figure out why so little attention will be paid to A-Rod when he passes Mays’s mark.


I think I know why, Barry.

It’s because Rodriguez cheated to get as many home runs as he has hit, just like Bonds did.

A-Rod has admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs. He served a season-long suspension in 2014. He’s come back to the New York Yankees to resume his climb up the career home run leader board.

Bonds, of course, hit more home runs than anyone else. You’ll have to excuse this bit of petulance, but I still consider Henry Aaron to be the home run king, even though he hit 755 home runs compared to Bonds’s 762. Aaron didn’t cheat the way Bonds did. Thus, he’s still the Home Run King in my book.

As for A-Rod, it’s always been about him. He’s not a good teammate and his fellow Yankees know that about him.

The Yankees are planning no celebration when A-Rod passes Mays.

Why no love for A-Rod, Barry? It’s because he hasn’t earned it.

Candlestick Park goes out with flair

The San Francisco 49ers played their final home game at Candlestick Park on Monday night.

Soon, the old stadium will be relegated to … whatever. Trash. Dust. People’s memory.

I hate seeing these old parks going away. The Houston Astrodome is likely to be demolished. I saw a couple of football games there: a high school playoff game and an NFL game between the Houston Oilers and the Cincinnati Bengals. The Oilers won big.


Yes, I have a Candlestick Park memory. It’s a good one.

I went to San Francisco in August 1964, having won a trip there by selling enough subscriptions to my hometown newspaper, the Portland Oregonian. It was a huge deal for me. I was 14 and had never been to California. The trip seemed like it took forever. I think we rode the bus for 12 hours.

Part of the trip involved seeing a baseball game at Candlestick.

The game would be between the SF Giants and the Cincinnati Reds. It was before they enclosed the stadium with seats. The outfield was exposed to the bay — and all the wind that blew in from the water. I’m telling you, the place used to be a wind tunnel in the old days.

Well, the game was a pretty cool thing for a teenage baseball fan to see. I saw three Hall of Famers that windswept afternoon: Willie Mays and Willie McCovey played for the Giants. McCovey hit a home run into right field, straight into the teeth of the wind.

The third HOFer, though, stole the show. Frank Robinson of the Reds hit three dingers out that day. The Reds won the game; I think the score was 7-1. Robinson would be traded two years later to the Baltimore Orioles, where all he did was win the Triple Crown in 1966.

Oh, the memories.

So long, Candlestick.

MLB hitters, pitchers need attitude adjustment

Many big-league baseball players — too many of them, in fact — need to have their attitudes adjusted before they suit up for games.

I’m talking about how players seem to relish showing up players on opposing teams and the very hard feelings those antics stir up.

Take a look at this link.


Milwaukee Brewers star Carlos Gomez was hit by a pitch thrown by the Atlanta Braves’ Paul Malcolm. That was three months ago. Gomez thinks Malcolm hit him on purpose. So, to pay the guy back, Gomez hit a first-inning home run last night against Malcolm. But instead of taking off immediately on his home run trot, he stood in the batter’s box, flipped his bat, glared at Malcolm and then took off. His antics spurred a bench-clearing brawl. Gomez got ejected before he had a chance to cross the plate.

I read the story and was reminded immediately of a radio interview I heard once with Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt, who hit 548 home runs during his career with the Philadelphia Phillies. Schmidt, interviewed on the Jim Rome Show, talked at length about the poor sportsmanship many players show when they hit home runs. They stand in the batter’s box and admire the flight of the ball they’ve just tagged. It amounts to showing up a pitcher. If I can recall it correctly, Schmidt was talking specifically about the antics of Barry Bonds.

Then he noted what might happen to hitters who would try something like that in the old days against the likes of Bob Gibson and Don Drysdale, two of the meanest men ever to throw a hardball from the pitchers mound to home plate. If a hitter tried to show either of those two Hall of Famers up, Schmidt said, they’d both be heading for the dirt to avoid getting beaned the next time they came to the plate.

You just shouldn’t do that.

That was then. Today’s game is much different than the one I used to enjoy watching. Whenever guys named Mantle, Mays or Aaron would hit ’em out of the park, they’d start their jog around the bases, receive greetings from teammates and head for the dugout. These days, it becomes a sideshow.

As the Gomez-Malcolm encounter also shows, it also becomes a disgraceful exhibition of poor sportsmanship.