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The 1961-62 Los Angeles Angels
[Posted Wed. a.m.]
Los Angeles Angels Quiz: The 1961 Angels had the best record of any expansion team, 70-91, under manager Bill Rigney, and then went 86-76 in their second season, finishing third in the American League. 1) Name the two players who had 100 RBIs that season for L.A. 2) Who was the team’s leading pitcher with 14 wins, as well as 8 saves? 3) What was the name of the ballpark the Angels played in 1961, for just that first season? Answers below.
--Coco Gauff’s fairy tale run ended in the fourth round at Wimbledon, as former world No. 1 Simona Halep (seeded No. 7) took her down, 6-3, 6-3. But it’s rather obvious to all that we will be hearing about Gauff for years to come, hopefully, because that would only be good for the sport.
Tennis is lacking in female stars that make for ‘must-see’ television, save for Serena Williams, and you have the same situation on the men’s side, with the Big Three – Djokovic, Nadal and Federer – long in the tooth. There is not a single male player that is eliciting excitement on a scale like these three have.
Ergo, tennis is in big-time trouble unless someone emerges, both male and female, and hopefully Gauff fulfills that need for the latter.
And very importantly regarding Coco (Cori), as Liz Clarke and Scott Allen write in the Washington Post:
“In addition to the skill and maturity Gauff already has, working in her favor are several factors, starting with parents who, by all accounts, have guided their daughter’s progression with care.
“Gauff also is represented by a respected agent, Tony Godsick, whose primary client is Roger Federer and whose wife, ESPN analyst and Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez, was herself a teenage phenom and is offering Gauff personal counsel on the pressures and demands that are coming at her fast.”
The WTA does have limitations on the number of tournaments players younger than 16 can participate in to prevent burnout, which was the case with former prodigies Tracy Austin and Jennifer Capriati, so hopefully Coco can just chill out awhile, hang out with her friends, and we’ll see what happens in the U.S. Open later on.
We shouldn’t expect much, but we also should hope Gauff makes a semifinal or final in a Grand Slam event in 2020.
Meanwhile, Serena Williams advanced to one semifinal at Wimbledon, while Simona Halep is in the other, meaning these two could match up in the final.
On the men’s side, the quarterfinals are being played today, and 1 Djokovic, 2 Federer, and 3 Nadal are all still alive. Nadal and Federer could match up in one of the semifinals Friday.
--Jared Diamond / Wall Street Journal
“Around 35% of all plate appearances this year have ended with either a home run, a walk or a strikeout, the latter of which is happening at a record pace for the 12th straight season. Batting averages have plummeted, with home runs representing 16% of all hits across the league, up from 8% in 1989. A whopping 45% of all runs scored now come as the result of a homer – up from 40% last year and 28% 30 years ago....
“Baseball is wrestling with whether it should take more aggressive steps to quell the power surge. (Commissioner Rob) Manfred said the league’s internal research shows a split between fans who like the turbocharged style of play and those who yearn for the return of triples, hit-and-runs and stolen bases.”
My point has been the last few year that I don’t have a problem with all the home runs as long as there aren’t a ton of guys putting up cartoonish figures, re 40+, particularly 50, and we are not going to have that issue this year...maybe four or five, max, with 50, and most likely none in the A.L.
On the other hand, as Jared Diamond points out, 230 players hit at least 10 homers last year, compared with 178 in ’98, at the height of the steroid era.
Commissioner Manfred took questions from the Baseball Writers Association of America Tuesday and about a quarter of the 37 were on the baseball.
“We need to figure out a process that lets us manage in advance how a ball is going to perform,” Manfred said. “We’re working on it. We’re trying to get there as fast as we possibly can.”
Ken Davidoff / New York Post
“It needs to be by next season. I’d like to think I speak for 99 percent of us, excluding the hard-core science lovers: If I have to keep invoking terminology like ‘drag,’ ‘pill’ and ‘tackiness’ while covering baseball, I might turn to a more compelling topic like stick-figure art.
“The All-Star Game convenes all the game’s bigwigs and organically assesses the state of the game, and veteran pitcher Justin Verlander, who started Tuesday night’s Midsummer Classic for the American League, dove in headfirst Monday with some comments to ESPN.
“ ‘It’s a [expletive] joke,’ Verlander told the network. He added: ‘They’ve been using juiced balls in the Home Run Derby forever. They know how to do it. It’s not [a] coincidence. I find it nearly hard to believe that Major League Baseball owns Rawlings and just coincidentally the balls become juiced.
“(After starting for the A.L. on Tuesday night, Verlander said he met with members of the commissioner’s office on Monday. Asked whether he still believed his accusations, the right-hander smiled and said, ‘Good question. I have to dig further.’)
“Added Players Association executive director Tony Clark to the BBWAA on Tuesday: ‘I believe that the ball suddenly changed, and I don’t know why.’....
“ ‘Baseball has done nothing, given no direction, for an alteration in the baseballs,’ Manfred said. ‘...The flaw in that logic is that baseball somehow wants more home runs. If you sat in an owners’ meeting and listened to talk about the way our game is being played, that is not the sentiment among owners for whom I work. There is no desire on the part of ownership to increase the number of home runs in the game. To the contrary, they’re concerned about how many we have.”
Well there was no live ball evident in last night’s All-Star game, a 4-3 win for the American League, with just one home run on either side. The A.L. won for a seventh year in a row, 19th in the past 23.
I found the game entertaining, more so than in past years, and the home run derby on Monday was great. I never watch this, totally couldn’t care less, but was drawn to it this year because of the participation of the Mets’ Pete Alonso, who won it over Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.
But it was Guerrero who stole the show, blasting 91 in all the rounds combined, with Alonso edging him out in the final. Vlad Jr.’s second round battle with Joc Pederson was one for the ages, as both went blow for blow, tying each other twice.
But here’s to Alonso, who goes into the December file in the “Good Guy” category, “the Polar Bear” donating 10 percent of his $1 million winnings to two charities; Wounded Warriors and the Stephen Siller Tunnels to Towers Foundation (5 percent each).
--As the U.S. women’s soccer team has its ticker-tape parade today in New York’s Canyon of Heroes, we learned that 14.3 million Americans tuned in to watch the national team claim its fourth World cup title on Sunday, in defeating the Netherlands 2-0.
The audience for the final fell short of the 2015 Women’s World Cup match, the U.S. prevailing over Japan 5-2, as 22.3 million tuned in.
But 11.3 million Americans watched the men’s World Cup final in 2018, though that was France defeating Croatia, and while yours truly watched that one, there was basically zero reason for about 10 million others to do the same.
On the other hand, 29.6 million watched this year’s Academy Awards, according to Nielsen, and 100.7 million tuned in to this year’s New England-L.A. Rams Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, after I posted last time, the U.S. men’s national team lost the Concacaf Gold Cup final to Mexico, 1-0, in Chicago.
--With his dramatic win Sunday at the 3M Open, Matthew Wolf’s World Golf Ranking soared from 1,659 to 135, the second-biggest jump since the ranking’s inception in 1986, surpassed only by Michael Arnaud’s 1,529-spot move following his surprise Korn Ferry (Web.com) Tour victory last year.
--We note the passing of actor Rip Torn, 88. Torn, the Texas-born actor and cousin of actress Sissy Spacek, had a six-decade career, making his film debut in the 1956 comedy “Baby Doll,” starring Karl Malden and Carroll Baker.
Torn also appeared in films as diverse as “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” “The Seduction of Joe Tynan,” and “Airplane II: The Sequel.”
But in the 1990s, Torn landed a killer role as Artie, the talk show producer, on HBO’s “The Larry Sanders Show.” In each of the program’s six seasons he received Emmy nominations for Best Supporting Actor, winning it in 1996.
--CNN.com had the following amazing story.
“A young female Arctic fox has shocked scientists by traveling over 3,500 km (2,175 miles) from Norway to Canada in just 76 days.
“The journey took her from Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago, which sits between mainland Norway and the North Pole, to Ellesmere Islands, Canada, according to research published in the journal Polar Research.
“Scientists from Norway’s Polar Institute, which fitted the Arctic fox with a satellite transmitter, say it undertook one of the longest dispersal events – a movement from the birth place to a potential breeding location – ever recorded for the species.
“Researcher Eva Fuglei said the team couldn’t believe what they were seeing as they tracked the fox.
“ ‘We didn’t think it was true,’ said Fuglei in a statement.
“The fox was fitted with a transmitter so researchers could track its movements.
“It covered an average of 46.3 km (28.8 miles) per day, and amazingly traveled 155 km (96.3 miles) in just one day as it crossed the Greenland ice sheet.”
It was the fastest rate ever recorded for this species. Scientists believe the fox may have sped up as it crossed the ice sheet due to limited foraging opportunities.
Its current whereabouts are unknown as the transmitter stopped working last February.
Top 3 songs for the week 7/9/66: #1 “Paperback Writer” (The Beatles) #2 “Red Rubber Ball” (The Cyrkle...has held up better than I would have thought it did...) #3 “Strangers In The Night” (Frank Sinatra...another reason to love the ‘60s...)...and...#4 “Hanky Panky” (Tommy James and The Shondells...yet another excuse to say, “Why aren’t these guys in the HOF?!”) #5 “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” (Dusty Springfield) #6 “Wild Thing” (The Troggs) #7 “Cool Jerk” (The Capitols) #8 “Little Girl” (Syndicate of Sound) #9 “Paint It, Black” (The Rolling Stones...my favorite of theirs...) #10 “Along Comes Mary” (The Association... awesome...and an awesome week, especially on the back end...)
Los Angeles Angels Quiz: 1) In 1962, Lee Thomas (26 HR, 104 RBI) and Leon “Daddy Wags” Wagner (37 HR, 107 RBI) led the offense. 2) The best pitcher was starter/reliever, and rookie, Dean Chance, who was 14-10, 8 saves, and a 2.96 ERA, finishing third in the A.L. Rookie of the Year vote to Yankees shortstop Tom Tresh. 3) The Angels played their first season, in 1961, in Wrigley Field*, the Los Angeles version (demolished in 1969), a long-time minor league ballpark. The Angels then moved into Dodger Stadium for four years before Anaheim Stadium was ready in 1966.
*Wrigley Field in Chicago wasn’t so named until 1927, starting out as Weegham Park (1914-20) and then Cubs Park (1920-26).
Back to the ’62 Angels, of course that pitching staff featured Bo Belinsky, which is an excuse to go to the Bar Chat archives.
So an old friend and neighbor of mine, Steve G., wrote the other day pleading that I write something acknowledging the greatness of the Anaheim Angels. Well, by now we all know that they opened the 2002 season 6-14 and still won the Series, and with a far smaller payroll than many of their competitors.
But I thought we’d go back to the days of 1961 and 1962, the then Los Angeles Angels’ first two seasons. The manager was Bill Rigney (Casey Stengel was owner Gene Autry’s first choice) and with little time before the expansion draft, Rigney and his staff shrewdly picked off young ballplayers such as Jim Fregosi, Dean Chance and Buck Rodgers.
Among the more established players the Angels selected reliever Ryne Duren from the Yankees. Duren, he of the Coke bottle-thick glasses and the 95-mph fastball, terrorized hitters, mainly because he himself had no idea where his pitches were going. Aside from a fastball, Duren also had a nasty splitter. Actually, it was his “soapball,” which he manufactured by rubbing Ivory flakes on his uniform trousers.
Rigney set a relaxed tone that first spring training, allowing former President Dwight Eisenhower to manage the middle innings of a game (Ike had just been replaced by JFK), for example, and his players soon developed quite a reputation for hell-raising. Unfortunately, Rigney was soon suffering from an ulcer, as his team tested his patience more than once.
Like the time there was a fire in the hotel at 4:00 AM. As Rigney and the other guests stood outside in various stages of undress, the manager spotted pitchers Art Fowler and Duren, who were standing on the sidewalk, all spiffed out in suits and ties. Said Fowler, “Well, Skip, I bet you don’t know whether we’re just getting up or just coming in.” “No, and I don’t want to know,” replied Rigney.
These were the days when players and sportswriters often partied together. Said one scribe, “The writers protected the players, and the players protected the writers.”
But despite all the after-hours shenanigans, the Angels posted a 70-91 mark their initial season, still a record for an expansion team, and they improved on that in 1962.
In November 1961, the Angels drafted pitcher Bo Belinsky. I’ve written about him in the past, but Belinsky was the street kid from Trenton, New Jersey, who was known for being both a poolshark and a man about town. He had pitched in the minors for six seasons with limited success, but as a lefty the Angels were prepared to take a chance on him, so they offered the minimum $6,000 contract.
Well, Bo being Bo, he opted to hold out for $8,500. When contacted back in Trenton that winter by a Los Angeles reporter, Belinsky said he’d shoot some pool and spend his evenings with “a lot of broads.” Finally, he showed up at training camp and promptly boasted he would charm every Hollywood starlet.
Of course many of you know that he tossed a no-hitter in just his fourth start, thereby cementing his legend. Reporter Walter Winchell then helped Belinsky’s image further by setting him up with beauties ranging from Tina Louise to Connie Stevens, Ann-Margret to Mamie Van Doren, only to then write about Bo’s exploits, with Belinsky only too happy to oblige. His new Hollywood friends even gave him a penthouse near the Strip. But after his super 5-0 start, he finished the ’62 season with a 10-11 record, on the way to a 28-51 lifetime mark, his career cut short by booze and arm problems.
The ’62 Angels, though, hung in there spectacularly well considering it was just their second season. They were in first place on the Fourth of July (reminder, this was the day of 10-team leagues), and just 3 back on September 12 before losing 12 of their last 16 to finish in 3rd, 86-76, ten games behind the Yankees. The Angels may have pulled it off, except key pitchers Fowler and Ken McBride were hurt in August, both out for the remainder of the season.
So we quaff a beer to the 1961-62 Angels, a colorful group, to say the least.
1969 Mets cont’d....
There was more than a little buzz in the air as the Chicago Cubs came into Shea Stadium for three games in July. School has been out a while, the Mets were suddenly a hot attraction, they were winning for the first time in their history, and the Cubs, despite all their all-stars and future Hall of Famers, were vulnerable, or so us Mets fans thought, even if no one else around baseball was a true believer yet.
July 8: 55,096 packed Shea on a Tuesday night as Jerry Koosman hooked up against Cubs ace Fergie Jenkins, and Chicago scored single runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth to take a 3-1 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Mets’ lone hit through eight against Fergie being an Ed Kranepool home run in the fifth.
But then the Mets rallied in the ninth, scoring three runs for the dramatic 4-3 win, Ken Boswell and Donn Clendenon with clutch pinch-hits, Cleon Jones doubling in two, and Kranepool blooping an opposite-field single off Jenkins that brought Cleon in, setting off a huge celebration. The lead was down to four games.
Koosman moved to 6-5, 1.78, throwing a complete game; Jenkins now 11-6, 2.60.
July 9: A night that many of us still remember vividly as if it was yesterday. Tom Seaver on the mound against the Cubs’ Ken Holtzman.
The main television (color) in our house was in my parents’ bedroom, which may sound kind of strange, but otherwise we just had a small black-and-white we moved around as needed, such as I remember us putting it on the dining room table while we watched the Ice Bowl, Packers-Cowboys. [We had a giant, ancient B&W in the basement that was out of the rotation by ’69.]
My parents were never in the bedroom during prime-time TV hours, reading and doing stuff down in the living room and elsewhere, which gave me the main television.
So there was Seaver, weaving a gem, the Mets taking an early 3-0 lead, knocking out Holtzman after just 1 1/3, though he was betrayed by his All-Star infield...Glenn Beckert, Don Kessinger and Ron Santo all committing errors.
The thing is, Seaver was perfect, thru five, six, seven....and then the eighth. I was beside myself. What should I do? My father was a huge sports fan, but he hadn’t come upstairs to watch any of it yet and didn’t know what was happening. I mean....I had to tell him.
So I made the fateful decision to call up Dad for the top of the ninth. He had to see history, after all. And so there the two of us were, when with one out in the ninth, Jimmie Qualls, playing in only his 18th major-league game, a guy who would end up having just 144 major-league at-bats for his entire freakin’ career, lined the first pitch from Seaver, a fastball out over the plate, to left-center for the first, and only, Cubs hit. Seaver finished the deal, a one-hitter, no walks, 11 strikeouts...but it wasn’t perfect, and I blamed my father for jinxing him. I shouldn’t have called him upstairs.
At least that’s what I wrote Seaver the next day, having cried mightily as I went to bed that night. Hey, I was 11 years old and a fanatic, and despite knowing about all the crap in the world around me, as in Vietnam, the Cold War and everything else, I was too young to know that this would be the least of my problems in the next 50 years.
Well, I got a brief letter back from Seaver a week or so later, saying don’t blame my father, with an autographed card (like a thank you note, not a baseball card), that for all I know was signed by a batboy, but with other Seaver stuff I have, it looks authentic.
But the letter is somewhere in my parents’ attic, and having gone up there the other day for the first time in like 20 years, let’s just say I’m surprised I wasn’t attacked by a giant spider.... because I ain’t going back up there if I don’t have to for a while.
Anyway, the Mets won the game 4-0, lead down to three, Seaver 14-3, 2.46 ERA.
But just like Red Sox fans wake up in the middle of the night all these years later, mumbling “Bucky F---ing Dent,” some Mets fans also wake with a start, “Jimmie F’n Qualls.”
July 10: The Mets suffered a letdown and lost to the Cubs 6-2, failing to get the sweep, Bill Hands (10-7) with the complete game victory for Chicago, Gary Gentry (8-7) hit hard.
So the Metsies were 47-35, four games back.
However....next week...the Mets head to Chicago for three, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
But first, Montreal is up next at Shea.
Next Bar Chat, Monday.