Friday, June 30, 2006

Latest Wage-Slavery Organization Softball Update.

Hola Nighthawks,

We are back on the winning track again after last night’s 16-2 victory over Mercer Roadkill at Cornell’s. We scored early and often, and played tight defense throughout the game. The win now puts us at 4-2 on the season.

On offense, we scored three runs in the first inning, capped off by Dave Hall’s inside-the-park home run. We added five more runs in the second, with Mike “I Should Get a Pair of Cleats” Blumberg’s opposite field triple one of the highlights. That was quickly followed by Damon Calzaloia turning a sure double into a single when he neglected to touch first base on his initial attempt to round the bag. We dented the plate two more times in the fourth, three times in the sixth, and three more times in the seventh to round out the scoring.

Dave Hall, Keith Cantara, Gary “GB” Bastarache, Mike Blumberg and Lisa Mammone scored two runs each. Randy Pendexter, Brian Labossiere, Jesse Grater, Damon Calzaloia, Dario Palombo and yours truly each scored once.

Fact: Arnold John “Jigger” Statz was a small, speedy, switch-hitting outfielder who played parts of eight seasons in the major leagues from 1919-1928. He played for the New York Giants, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Brooklyn Dodgers. His best year in the majors was his 1923 season with the Cubs. Statz batted .319 with 10 homers, 70 RBI, 29 stolen bases, led the National League in times at bat (655), was second in hits (209) and fifth in runs (110) and total bases (288). Among outfielders, he tied for the league lead in double plays (7) and was second in putouts (438) and assists (26). His big league career average was .285 in 683 games.

Well big deal right? Why, you ask, am I typing stuff about a 1920s outfielder with minimal power who had a short major league career? Well, here is, to steal a line from Paul Harvey, the rest of the story…

Statz was one of the greatest minor league players of all time. He was with the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League in 1920-21, 1925-26 and from 1929-42. He did not play for any other minor league team. Statz holds all of the longevity records in the PCL: Most games, 2,790; most times at bat, 10,657; most runs (1,996), most hits (3,356), most total bases (4,405), most singles (2,564), most doubles (595), most triples (137), and was second in stolen bases (466); and for outfielders, most putouts (6,872), most assists (263) and the most chances accepted (7,135). By way of comparison, Willie Mays is the major league record holder for putouts by an outfielder with 7,095 in 2,992 career games with the Giants and Mets from 1951-1973.

He had more 200-hit seasons (11) than any other player in minor league history. Among all minor league batters he ranks fourth in career runs and sixth in career hits. His best year was probably 1926, when he batted .354 in 199 games, leading the league in hits (291), doubles (68) and triples (18) and tying for second in runs (150). He led PCL outfielders in fielding (.997) and putouts (577), making only two errors in 604 total chances.

Statz was also part of the legendary Angels team of 1934 that was probably the greatest minor league team ever. They won 137 games and lost just 50. Due to the length of the season (188 games that year), the league standings were split into two halves. The Angels won the first half with a 66-18 record, and also won the second half with a 71-32 record. The second place Vernon Tigers went 105-83 to finish an astonishing 31.5 games behind the Angels. The Angels were so good that the 1934 playoffs ended up being a match between the Angels and a PCL All-Star team that featured Vince DiMaggio (Joe and Dominic’s older brother) Buzz Arlett, Ox Eckhardt and Smead Jolley (all PCL Hall of Famers) to name but a few. The Angels beat the All-Stars four games to two.

Statz, who later managed the Angels after retiring as an active player, when combining his major league time with his PCL time, played in 3,473 professional games. His total of 4,093 hits is surpassed by only Ty Cobb and Pete Rose.

GB was handed the pitching duties and kept things moving at a brisk pace. He kept the pitch count low, and the Roadkillers were off balance most of the time against him. The defense was excellent behind GB. Randy Pendexter made several over the shoulder catches while roaming from shortstop into short left field. He and Kathy Cantara combined for a nice double play on a grounder hit toward the middle to end one Roadkill rally. Mike Blumberg made a nice play on a popup behind the plate at catcher. Dave Hall and Keith Cantara held down the fort in left and left-center. GB also helped himself out by making good plays on several balls hit back up the middle. Mike Rose played third and finished the game on the mound, and also punked us in the outfield when he agreed to let one of their guys hit the girls ball. Result: A rocket way over Keith in deep left-center for a triple. Hey Rositi, there’s nothing wrong with a little gamesmanship in a blowout, but let the rest of us in on the deal next time, okay?!?

View From the Bar: Cornell’s was packed as we went inside for some much-needed refreshment. The early part of the festivities was taken up with me trying to explain the meaning of “Batta Please!” to Dario. The ump, at the start of every half-inning, would announce “batter please” instead of the traditional “batter up” or whatnot. Brian and Keith were on top of it, and we relived the famous skits from both the Chris Rock Show and Chappelle’s Show segments that hit on some less than subtle variations on the theme that mocked the “Nuttin Honey” cereal ads that were popular a few years ago.

After a bit, it turned out that one of the ladies from the local womens league was having a birthday, and her teammates provided a cake. After helping to sing “Happy Birthday” very badly, GB and I went over for a sample of cake, and stayed long enough to see one of the gifts, a new driver, the sight of which compelled someone to say “nice shaft”.

We then rejoined the crew and watched as the Red Sox overcame a 2-1 deficit to beat the Mets 4-2 for their 12th straight win (nice catch Coco!). But speaking of birthdays, today is GBs birthday. Don’t forget to wish him a happy one if you see him today.

Oh, for those of you in conversation with Mr. Hall, duck when you answer a question that concerns events that are common knowledge, but momentarily have everyone stumped. The matter in question involved, as closely as I can paraphrase Dave, “one of the Sox who got hurt at second”. Both Keith and I were stumped, which seemed to agitate Mr. Hall. I was about to ask him if he could be a little more vague when I suddenly remember that Gabe Kapler popped his Achilles tendon last September rounding second base in Toronto, so I quickly gave that answer, and was just as quickly swatted in the shoulder by the enthusiastic Mr. Hall.

Friday Morning Random Ten:
Death Alley Driver, Rainbow
Walking to Babylon, The Angels
Life on Earth, Jack Bruce and Robin Trower
Muddy’s Gold, Chocolate Box
Gates of Urizen, Bruce Dickinson
Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love, Santana with Los Lonely Boys
Material Eyes, Pat Travers
Our Truth, Lacuna Coil
American Witch, Rob Zombie
Limbo, Westworld

Special thanks to everyone for your expressions of concern about my father. I appreciate it very much.

That seems to be all for now. The next action appears to be a doubleheader at the Medway VFW against the Berzerkers and the Bar Tab Legends on Thursday July 6th.

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