Tag Archive | "Jackie Robinson"

On The Eve Of “42” Home Release, Racism Is Alive And Well

Editor’s note: What follows is commentary on world events and popular culture.  The content is not the typical baseball-related material we tend to promote at this website but I felt the thoughts, in relation to the release of a movie that centers around the subject, were worthy of sharing in this space.  Due to the sensitive nature of this post, we will not be allowing comments to be posted to it.  Feel free to reach out via Twitter of Facebook if you wish to respectfully discuss the issues contained within.


Photo courtesy of, and trademarked by, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Warner Bros. will release the movie “42” on home video in various aspects on Tuesday, July 16.  The movie, which follows Jackie Robinson throughout the early part of his ground-breaking career, is an excellent adaptation of the integration of baseball and racism in America during the same time frame.

Recent events seem to suggest that the world has not changed as much as one would hope.

George Zimmerman Found Not-Guilty
In one of the most public cases directly associated with racial profiling, George Zimmerman was found by a jury to have acted within his rights of self defense when he shot and killed Trayvon Martin.  The story and the facts seem to suggest that Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, found Martin’s actions threatening and reacted in a manner that he believed was required.  However, Martin was unarmed and many believe was only guilty of being black, wearing a hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled up, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Since the announcement of the verdict, many citizens have taken to protests in their own cities, expressing concern that justice was not served in the case.  The whole situation reminds many of the trials centered around the beating of Rodney King in the early 1990’s.  The nation has reacted peacefully in this instance, but they are still striving to have their voices heard.

There are many varying opinions as to why the jury reached their verdict.  Some believe the prosecution did not do their job while others feel the legal system is flawed to the point that it was the only logical decision.  How the decision ultimately effects the country and the culture we live it has yet to be seen.

Big Brother
The CBS television reality show “Big Brother” has put together a cast of contestants that have led to severely low ratings this season.  The show takes a number of contestants and sequesters them in a house for a period of time, having them live and compete with one another in challenges that ultimately leads to a $500,000 prize.  The current cast has, however, seemingly created a focus group of life in America right now.  A few of the cast members have shown traits of bullying and extreme threatening behavior while one of the cast members in particular, Aaryn Gries, has been a source of racist comments, observations, and outbursts throughout the first eight episodes of the current season of the show.

The show reached a boiling point on that issue this week, as seen on the recent episode which aired on Sunday.  Candice, an African-American contestant who has been on the receiving end of multiple comments and outbursts, was physically removed from a room during a verbal altercation by another African-American contestant, Howard.  Speaking of the conversations that happened and his reaction, Howard had the following to say:

“It’s heartbreaking seeing any woman cry. When we share the same ethnic group, it takes on a different hurt for me because that’s my mom crying, that’s my sister crying, and all she wants to do is to stand up for what’s right. Unfortunately, we are not playing a game where you can do that.”

“It’s just reminding me of where I am from, it’s reminding me of what I heard, it’s reminding me of all the stuff we know goes on…we ain’t running from nothing, we just being smarter. It’s a game and we gonna play the game.”

That seems to bring forth the biggest concern about the entire situation, a suggestion that they are in a situation where they cannot stand up for themselves.  A situation where allowing others to continue to treat them poorly based solely on their race seems to be the only choice they have.

It should be noted that Aaryn apologized to Candice during the episode.  However, the apology seemingly came across with a tone of misinterpretation than it did as a sincere apology for racist remarks.  Aaryn has had her employment with a modeling agency in Texas terminated due to the situations brought about on the show, a termination that she is unaware of due to her involvement on the show and being sequestered from the “outside world”.

Jackie Robinson faced many of the same situations and was challenged to “turn the other cheek” in order to further a cause for an entire race of individuals.  It was a time when America had not fully come to terms with the integration of society, let alone baseball.  Jackie kept his mouth shut, his anger in check, and his emotions private in order to pave the way for many more people sharing his race to not have to do the same thing.  Jackie’s courage, along with the support of his wife Rachel, is well depicted in the film and I strongly recommend it.

In many ways, Jackie Robinson succeeded.

Some people seem to still be fighting the same fight despite his victories.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at i70baseball.
You can follow him on Twitter by 
clicking here.

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Jason Collins Is Not Jackie Robinson

The last few days have seen something dramatic in the world of sports: for the first time, an active player on a professional team in either the NBA, MLB, NFL or NHL has announced publicly that he is homosexual.  This ground-breaking event has led many to compare the player, Jason Collins of the Washington Wizards, with baseball’s Jackie Robinson.  That compassion, in my opinion, is absurd.


Now I am not launching into any political or religious debates in this space.  Jason Collins is gay.  We are not here to discuss his legal right to marry someone or whether or not he should be supported by some church body.  That is not the issue at hand here and if you wish to discuss those issues, I invite you to take to social media and discuss with your social circles in whatever means you feel necessary.

The discussion here revolves around sports and the breaking down of barriers.  What Collins has done is monumental and over the course of the next NBA season or two, we will discover what impact it truly has on his teammates, opponents, and the league as a whole.  He is the first person to openly proclaim a sexual preference towards the same sex in this type of setting and that decision, most likely, will influence others to do the same.  The day will dawn soon enough that players in the other major sports will follow Collins lead and announce that they too are gay.

Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball.  He found his way on to a Major League Baseball team in an era where players openly stated that they would not play with a man of color.  Owners had banned the thought of a black man on a roster.  He was not a player on a team that suddenly decided that the world should know something about him that they did not.  He was not a player that was concerned with how he would be received.

Therein lies the largest difference in the situation.  The world will tune in to see how Collins is received and analysts will break down every incident to see if it is fueled by some degree of hate.  There was very little doubt when it came to Robinson.  The world was at a turning point and he was at the center of it.  Robinson would deal with hate and ridicule at every turn.

The idea that Jason Collins is Jackie Robinson is a stretch based on the idea that all civil rights issues, of which the rights of gay people are classified, are the same.

Jason Collins is free to eat anywhere he wants.  There are no hotels that restrict a gay person from renting a room.  I have yet to see a sign in a window proclaiming “Straight Only”.  He will not have to use a different entrance to an establishment or a different bathroom or have to sit in designated seating because he is gay.  He did not enter a league that previously had told people like him that they could not be here.

The world is a much different place in many ways and very similar in others.  Hate crimes run rampant and extremists exist in all areas of the world.  Collins will face adversity and challenges that are very different from what Robinson was challenged by.  They will be on a different level and, more than likely, be far less extreme.

Collins, I will admit courageously, stepped forward to announce that he was different.  He may have inspired others to do the same or helped others realize that it is okay.  It is a moment in sports that will leave his name etched into history.

But there is only one Jackie Robinson.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at i70baseball.
You can follow him on Twitter by 
clicking here.

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Negro League Widow Passes Away

HiltonSmithLouise Smith, widow of Hilton Smith, has passed away at the age of 98 years old.

Hilton Smith is a hall of fame pitcher famous for his time in Negro League Baseball with the Kansas City Monarchs.  During his playing career, according to the Hall Of Fame, he was credited with 20 wins in each of his 12 seasons with the Monarchs.

Possibly best known for his relief appearances behind the great Satchel Paige, Smith pitched in six consecutive “East-West All Star Games” from 1937-1942.  He was considered by many to be the best pitcher in black baseball but was largely overlooked due to his quiet demeanor, a stark contrast to that of Paige’s.

Hilton hurled a no-hitter in 1937 and according to many sources did not lose a single competition in 1938.  During the winter of 1946, he pitched the Vargas team in the Venezuelan league to the championship.  The following March, he would pitch for the Vargas team in an exhibition game in Venezuela against the New York Yankees.  He would allow one hit over five innings and be credited with the win in a 4-3 ballgame.

Smith would decline an offer from the Brooklyn Dodgers as baseball’s color barrier came crashing down, eventually retiring in 1948.  He would go on to teach, coach, and eventually become a scout for the Chicago Cubs.  He passed away in 1983 and was inducted into Cooperstown in 2001 by the Veteran’s Committee.

Louise Humphrey would marry Hilton Smith in 1934.  The couple would have two children during their marriage.  During an interview for the 2005 Oral History film, Louise would recount how she turned down Hilton’s marriage proposal at first because she did not want to marry a ballplayer.  Ultimately, she identified that he was a professional man and was rewarded with being able to see areas of the world she never thought possible.

From the “Did You Know” section of his Baseball Hall Of Fame Bio:

Hilton Smith advised Kansas City Monarchs owner J.L. Wilkinson to sign Jackie Robinson to a contract with the powerhouse Negro American League club?

According the the Negro League Baseball Museum, Louise visited the museum for “one last tour” earlier this week.

You can visit the Negro League Baseball Museum’s website by clicking this link.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Black History Month: Bob Trice

Imagine yourself back in 1953 in Philadelphia. You are on the mound for your major league debut, and you walk out to a thunderous boo. You begin your warm ups, and the booing continues. The game wears on, and nothing changes. You look at the opposing pitcher, Don Larsen of the St. Louis Browns, and he is dealing out there, making your teammates work for every run. The game finishes, and the booing just will not wear down. You walk out of Connie Mack Stadium, and the people just will not stop annoying you with booing and threatening words. However, you continue on your path to the hotel room and realize that you set the standard for integration for the Athletics organization. This is the day that Bob Trice made history, on September 13, 1953.

Bob Trice broke the color barrier for the Philadelphia Athletics at Connie Mack Stadium, and set the precedent for future Athletics teams, which would later move to Kansas City. His impact on the organization was more than just a sideshow attraction. He made it possible for not only African-American players like Jarrod Dyson and Derrick Robinson, but for Latino players like Joakim Soria, Jonathan Sanchez, and Salvador Perez on the current 40-man roster. His numbers were not outstanding, and his minor league success did not carry over into the Major Leagues. He was a combined 9-9 with an ERA around 6.70 in his three seasons in Philadelphia and Kansas City. He also had 28 strikeouts and 60 walks in 152 innings pitched.

Trice will never be remembered in the same way as the greats, like Satchel Paige, Jackie Robinson, or Roberto Clemente for running into a lot of prejudice and playing exceptionally well, but the people of Philadelphia will always remember the day he stepped on the mound and showed his skills against Don Larson. The stadium at the intersection of Lehigh Avenue and North 21st Street was filled to see how Trice would perform for a struggling A’s team, and even though he did not earn the victory, he set the bar relatively high with his first start. He threw eight innings, letting up five earned runs, no walks, and two strikeouts.

As we watch Royals baseball this spring, we will see a newly transformed team, with all sorts of different players from different parts of the world. From Mike Moustakos to Jarrod Dyson, Bruce Chen to Jonathan Sanchez, we see many different colors and ethnicities, and we should be thankful to the man that helped them be a part of the team. Thank you Bob Trice, for helping to make Baseball the game it is today.

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Retro Batting Practice Jersey, Frenchy Quarter Thursday & 2nd Annual Celebrity Classic Game Highlight Promotions Lineup

KANSAS CITY, MO (January 19, 2012) – It’s “Our Time” this season at the ballpark as the Royals unveil an exciting 2012 promotions and special events lineup.  The schedule features great giveaways, the return of fan favorites and the introduction of special offers, which allow fans to experience all the ballpark’s offerings at exceptional values.

Highlights from the 2012 lineup of events, as well as details on some of the club’s new ticket offerings, are listed below.  In addition, the complete special events schedule is attached and can also be found at www.royals.com/promotions.  Please note all dates and times are subject to change.


Jackie Robinson Jersey Tee: Every year on April 15, Major League Baseball celebrates the legacy of Jackie Robinson’s first Major League game. On Sunday, April 15, the first 10,000 fans will receive a Jackie Robinson Jersey T-Shirt sporting the number 42 on the back.

Royals Retro Batting Practice Jersey:  Fans can gear up for the 2012 season in style by bringing back the retro 1980s look. On Saturday, April 21, the first 20,000 fans will receive a Royals Retro Batting Practice Jersey, presented by FOX Sports Kansas City.

Alex Gordon Rawlings Gold Glove Award Replica: For the 2012 season, fans will be able to celebrate Alex Gordon’s first Rawlings Gold Glove win.  On Thursday, May 3 when the Royals take on the Yankees, the first 10,000 fans will receive an Alex Gordon Rawlings Gold Glove Replica Award presented by Hy-Vee.

Frenchy Quarter Thursdays:  In 2012, the Royals announce a new fan section, The Frenchy Quarter.  Every Thursday for the 2012 season, fans will be able to purchase a $21 ticket that includes a Frenchy Quarter T-Shirt, a drink coupon and a seat in Jeff Francoeur’s cheering section in the right Outfield Box. This is a $35 value!

Salute to the Negro Leagues Day:  Come celebrate with the Royals as we pay tribute to the Negro Leagues on Saturday, July 21 when the Royals take on the Twins.  On the field, both teams will don Negro League uniforms from the Kansas City Monarchs and St. Paul Colored Gophers, presented by Sprint.  Also, the first 20,000 fans will receive a Buck O’Neil bobblehead presented by Hy-Vee.

Celebrity Classic Game: Be a part of the celebrity experience again in 2012 when our hometown celebrities, Paul Rudd, Rob Riggle and Jason Sudeikis will host the 2nd Annual Big Slick Celebrity Classic Game on Friday, June 22 prior to the start of the I-70 series against the Cardinals.  Don’t miss your chance to get up close and personal with your favorite celebrity.


Buck Nights: Buck Nights are back and better than ever!  For six select Friday dates throughout the season, fans can purchase hot dogs, small Pepsi products and peanuts for just $1 each.   The fan-favorite is scheduled for April 20, May 18, July 13, August 17, September 14 and September 21.

Hy-Vee/Pepsi Fireworks Fridays: Stay in your seats for a spectacular fireworks show following all Friday night home games presented by Hy-Vee and Pepsi.

T-Shirt Tuesdays:  T-Shirt Tuesdays return in 2012!  This season’s series will include five unique designs on May 8, June 12, June 26, July 31 and August 14.

Family FunDay Sundays: Join in on all of the fun on Sundays in 2012.  Every Sunday home game will feature special family entertainment and activities in the Outfield Experience. Also, kids can run the bases after the game during the Sprint Fun Run.  For details, visit royals.com/Sundays.

KidsFest: On Sunday, August 5, the Royals celebrate young baseball fans with a special event dedicated to kids!  With pregame activities, entertainment and a lot of fun in the Outfield Experience, kids will rule the day.   The first 5,000 kids 14 and under will also receive a Royals Sport Necklace, looks like the one the players wear!

Girls Night Out: Back by popular demand, ladies will receive the Royal treatment again in 2012.  The event benefits the American Heart Association and is slated for Friday, June 1.  In addition to all of the great activities and food, the first 10,000 females through the gates will receive a ladies Sun Hat.

Student Nights: Rivals Outfield Box or Hy-Vee Infield tickets are available for all Wednesday home games for high school and college students with valid ID at the Stadium Box Office for just $7.  Seating is subject to availability.  Making its return in 2012 is Local Music Showcase. Every Student Night will feature live local music pregame in the Outfield Experience.

610 Saturdays: The Royals will once again team up with Entercom Radio to bring live music and great activities to Saturday pregame festivities.  Events will take place in the Outfield Experience.

Sprint Fun Run: All fans can run the bases after every Sunday home game (conditions permitting).

Sonic Slam Seats: Back in 2012, if a Royals player hits a home run that lands in the Sonic Slam Seats located in left-center field, ALL fans win a free medium Sonic Slush by redeeming their ticket stub at participating Sonic locations by midnight the following day!  Fans sitting in the Sonic Slam Seats will also win a $5 My Sonic Card.


Royals eSavers: Subscribers to the Royals Report – the club’s free email newsletter – will receive exclusive ticket offers throughout the season.  In addition, subscribers will receive the latest information regarding breaking news, promotions and more.  Fans can register for the newsletter at royals.com/register.

Sluggerrr’s Blue Crew Kids Club Presented by U.S. Toy: Membership includes a Royals white batting practice jersey, Royals jersey style backpack with MP3 player pocket, special edition reusable water bottle, VIP access to the Sprint Fun Run, two Royals game ticket vouchers, three complimentary vouchers to any of the Outfield Experience games, one free child’s admission to a stadium tour, exclusive Blue Crew events at the stadium and special offers from Royals partners all for just $20.  Available for youth 14 and under. For details, visit royals.com/bluecrew.



Fans can take advantage of all the great promotions and special events planned for 2012 by becoming a Royals Season Ticket Holder. Starting at just $75 per seat, Royals Season Ticket plans are available to fit every budget. Fans can guarantee Opening Day tickets with any Full Season, Half Season or 21-game season ticket plan and enjoy all the benefits of becoming a Season Ticket Holder including reserved parking, first priority to purchase additional tickets for all 2012 home games and an easy, accessible way to manage your season ticket account online. Purchase a Full Season or Half Season plan and be among the first to have the opportunity to secure tickets for the MLB 2012 All-Star events to be played at Kauffman Stadium. All season ticket packages are available online at royals.com or by calling (816) 504-4040, option 2.

Single-game tickets for all 2012 regular season home games, including a limited number of Opening Day tickets, go on sale Saturday, March 3 at 10 a.m. (CST). Tickets will be available online at royals.com, by phone at 1-800-6ROYALS, at metro area Hy-Vee stores and at the Kauffman Stadium Box Office. Opening Day tickets will not be available for purchase at Hy-Vee locations.

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2011 Hall Of Legends Inductee: Gregg Jefferies

The week of Thanksgiving brings a time for all of us to be thankful for family, friends, health, any a myriad of other things that each of us finds important. Here at I-70 Baseball, we take this time to show some thanks to some players that spent some time wearing both of the uniforms of our two teams, the Cardinals and Royals.

The requirements are that simple: the inducted player had to play for both the Cardinals and Royals in his career. From there, it is pure judgement of I-70 Baseball to say they deserve enshrinement in our “Hall Of Legends”. This year we induct five new legends to join the inaugural group of five from last season. The original five inductees were manager Whitey Herzog, pitchers Dan Quisenberry and Danny Jackson, outfielder Reggie Sanders, and catcher Darrell Porter.

The next inductee is infielder Gregg Jefferies.

Jefferies emerged onto the Major League scene in 1987 as a part of the New York Mets organization. A highly touted second base/third base prospect, he would find his way permanently onto the team and in the lineup in 1989 when he would finish third in the voting for the Jackie Robinson Award for the most outstanding rookie player in the National League.

In December of 1991, Jefferies would find himself being traded from New York along with Kevin McReynolds to the Kansas City Royals organization.

Jefferies would spend the 1992 season in Kansas City posting career highs to that point in batting average (.285), runs batted in (75), and hits (172). Those numbers would generate an off season trade to the opposite side of the state and his arrival in St. Louis. The Royals dealt Jefferies and minor leaguer Ed Gerald to the Cardinals for Felix Jose and Craig Wilson.

Jefferies career year would occur with his arrival to St. Louis and his move to first base. The Cardinals, with a unique mixture of talent, saw the opportunity for the athletic, yet diminutive at just five foot eleven, fielder to convert to the first base position. Jefferies would reach the All Star game for the first time in his career during the 1993 campaign. He would post his best season of his fourteen year career in batting average (.342), home runs (16), runs batted in (83), runs scored (89), on base percentage (.408), walks (62) and stolen bases (46). His stellar performance would earn him and eleventh place finish in the Most Valuable Player voting at the end of the season.

Jefferies’ second and final year with the Cardinals would see him continue to produce well while adjusting to the first base position. While his numbers were down from the career performance he turned in the prior season, he would still produce a season that earned him his second and last All Star appearance. He would post a slash line of .325/.489/.880 while hitting 12 home runs and knocking in 55 runs as well as scoring 52 of his own. His .489 slugging percentage would go down as the best of his career.

Jefferies would take his talents to Philadelphia the following season where he would eventually find himself in left field more than on first base. A short stay in Anaheim and two years in Detroit would round out his 14 year career.

Jefferies career would finish with 1593 hits (487 for the Royals and Cardinals combined), 300 doubles (87 for i70), 126 home runs (38 for i70), 663 runs batted in (213 for i70) and a career .289 batting average (.315 for i70).

Gregg Jefferies enjoyed three of his best years while wearing the colors of the I-70 teams and for that, we welcome him into the Hall Of Legends.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

Posted in Cardinals, Classic, I-70 Baseball Exclusives, I-70 Hall Of Legends, RoyalsComments (0)

2011 Hall Of Legends Inductee: Vince Coleman

The week of Thanksgiving brings a time for all of us to be thankful for family, friends, health, any a myriad of other things that each of us finds important. Here at I-70 Baseball, we take this time to show some thanks to some players that spent some time wearing both of the uniforms of our two teams, the Cardinals and Royals.

The requirements are that simple: the inducted player had to play for both the Cardinals and Royals in his career. From there, it is pure judgement of I-70 Baseball to say they deserve enshrinement in our “Hall Of Legends”. This year we induct five new legends to join the inaugural group of five from last season. The original five inductees were manager Whitey Herzog, pitchers Dan Quisenberry and Danny Jackson, outfielder Reggie Sanders, and catcher Darrell Porter.

The first inductee for 2011 is Vince Coleman.

Coleman was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1982 and it did not take long for him to race (pun intended) onto the scene at the big league level. The speedy outfielder was built for the Whiteyball area of the St. Louis Cardinals and the team quickly had him in the leadoff role as the 1985 season got underway.

That rookie year was not perfect by any means, but the young man managed to reach base at a .320 clip while hitting .267. It was what he did when he was on base that captured the focus of fans across the nation. Coleman successfully stole 110 bases that year while also being caught 25 times, leading the league in both categories and capturing the Rookie Of The Year Award (later named the Jackie Robinson Award in 1987) in the National League that season. His 110 steals would fall just short of Cardinal legend Lou Brock‘s national league record of 118, but would establish the record that still stands today of steals by a rookie.

The dreaded sophomore slump would gRip Coleman‘s batting average and on base percentage, dropping the former to .232 and the latter to .301. As the old saying toes, however, speed doesn’t slump. Despite his drop in ability to reach base safely, he would lead the league again in stolen bases, this time with 107. He would also cut down the amount of times he was caught on the bases, being thrown out a paltry 14 times over the course of the season.

Coleman’s third year in the majors wearing the birds on the bat would see him achieve another etching in the record books. In arguably the most successful seasons of his career, Coleman would raise his batting average to .289 and his on base percentage to .363. The batting average would eventually prove to be the second best average Coleman would ever post and his on base percentage would rank as his best of his 13 year career. His increased time spent on the base paths would yield 109 stolen bases, the first player in history to steal 100 or more bases for three consecutive season.

As the 1988 season developed, Coleman would find himself once again atop the league in stolen bases, this time for the fourth consecutive season. He would fail to top 100 stolen bases for the first time in his career, swiping just 81 while being caught 27 times. Coleman would make the first of his two career all star appearances in that year’s mid summer classic. His production would slip again in 1989, falling to just 65 stolen bases, which was still good enough to lead the league. He would make is final appearance in the All Star Game that year. The remarkable thing happened for Coleman was a record that started in 1988 and was completed in 1989.

In the top of the sixth inning of a contest between the Cubs and the Cardinals in Chicago on September 18, Vince Coleman would swipe second base off of Greg Maddux and Jody Davis with Jose Oquendo at the plate. It led to the Cardinals’ fourth run of the contest, a game they would eventually win 5-4. Fast forward to July 26, 1989 as the Cubs would meet the Cardinals in St. Louis. In a game once again won by the Cardinals, Coleman would steal second base in the bottom of the third off of Cubs hurler Rick Sutcliffe and catcher Joe Giradi. The following game, played on July 28 in Montreal, Coleman would be thrown out in the fourth inning attempting to steal second base off of Pascual Perez and cather Nelson Santovenia. It would bring to end a treak of 50 straight stolen bases by Coleman, another record that is still standing today.

Coleman would spend his final season in St. Louis in 1990, stealing 77 bases and leading the league for the final time in his career, the sixth consecutive time. He would post his highest batting average of his career at .292 before departing the city via free agency to head to the bright lights of New York City to join the Mets.

Three injury ridden years in New York would come to a close after the 1993 season when Coleman was traded back into the midwest to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Kevin McReynolds. Coleman’s health would rebound in 1994 as he put together a decent season for the Royals, stealing 50 bases. He would steal another 26 bases in a Royals uniform the following season before being dealt to the Seattle Mariners for the stretch run of 1995.

Coleman would steal 625 bases combined for the I-70 franchises, winning the Rookie Of The Year Award and appearing in two all star games. He “leads-off” the 2011 selections for the Hall Of Legends.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

Posted in Cardinals, Classic, I-70 Baseball Exclusives, I-70 Hall Of Legends, RoyalsComments (0)

Looking At The Rookies – AL

Royals fans are no strangers to watching rookies this season. Many teams are starting to give young players a chance to prove themselves but there are a few players that have been hanging around all season that are starting to turn heads.

Aaron Crow

As we enter the end of the season and look forward to the playoffs for some teams and towards 2012 for others, it is time that the rookies of this season start getting some recognition and find the spotlight falling on them.

Here are three offensive players and three pitchers in the American League that qualify for the Jackie Robinson Award given to the top rookie in each league. If you are not watching these guys by now, it is time to start.

The offensive rookies in the American League are a bit more clear cut. The Royals own Eric Hosmer is putting together a solid season with a balanced attack and showing Royals fans that first base is a position they can get behind. Angels fans would tell you that first base is definitely the position of the future for them as well as Mark Trumbo is killing the ball in Anaheim. Toronto, on the other hand, has a catcher that is showing the he can handle the bat as well, and J.P. Arencibia is getting noticed quickly.

The Odds On Favorite For Rookie Of The Year
Sorry Royals fans, it is hard to argue with what Mark Trumbo is doing for the Angels. He leads the American League rookies in Games Played and At Bats but there is a reason for that. His .261 batting average and .301 on base percentage leave some room for improvement, but his power numbers are nothing to sneeze at. With 20 doubles, 22 home runs, 63 runs batted in, and a .495 slugging percentage have him well in place to grab the Jackie Robinson Award in the American League this year.

The Runner Up
Royals fans can relax a little bit as Eric Hosmer is not too far behind Trumbo. Hosmer is posting a .282 batting average while knocking 10 home runs and driving in 47 runs batted in. Add in 19 doubles and a total of 93 hits and you can bet that the future has arrived in Kansas City and the future looks bright.

He Deserves A Look
Toronto’s young backstop, J.P. Arencibia may not be hitting for a good average, his is only .216, but what he is hitting is going a long way. He is second to Trumbo for the most home runs by a rookie in the American League with 18 and pairs that with 52 runs batted in. The drop off from there is tremendous, however, as he only posts 13 doubles and 3 triples, leaving him with a .452 slugging percentage. His on base percentage plunges below .300 and he is striking out at an alarming rate. The Blue Jays have a solid power hitter on their hands, they just hope he can learn some patience.

If it seems the offensive rookies are a bit sparse in the American League, the pitching prospects across the league are enough to get any baseball fan excited about the future. The Royals put their share of pitchers into any conversation with Aaron Crow, Danny Duffy, and Tim Collins. Jeremy Hellickson and Ivan Nova are both posting double digit wins for the Rays and Yankees, respectively. Jordan Walden, meanwhile, is closing games at a solid pace for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Up north in Seattle, Michael Pineda is racking up the innings, and strikeouts, at a rapid pace.

The Odds On Favorite For Rookie Of The Year
Speaking of Michael Pineda, he is running away with this category in 2011. He leads all rookies with 130 innings pitched and 133 strikeouts. He has only walked 43 batters and given up 12 home runs. He is posting a 3.53 earned run average and has won 9 games for a team that is struggling to win games as it is. Pineda is showing some dominance at times and not showing any signs of slowing down, at least until his pitching arm falls off.

The Runner Up
It is Jordan Walden of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim that is equally as impressive as Pineda. Walden has posted 25 saves in 32 chances, posted a 3 wins, 3 losses record. Over the course of 45 innings pitched, he has struck out 48 hitters and only walked 18. With only one home run allowed and a 2.80 earned run average, the Angels have a closer they can count on for a long time to come.

He Deserves A Look
Call me old fashioned, but I still like a pitcher that wins games without giving up a ton of runs, even if he is not striking out everyone he faces. For that reason, take a look at the Rays’ pitcher Jeremy Hellickson who has won 10 games over 7 losses while posting a 3.15 earned run average. He is going deep into games with 122.2 innings pitched and has struck out 79 hitters while walking 45. He will not bring home any hardware, but he’s worth keeping an eye on.

Around the league there are pitchers and hitters that will look to capitalize on solid rookie seasons and avoid the Sophomore Slump. While these players are showcasing themselves around the American League, it is important to take a look at one player that is not on this list that will mean something more to our i70baseball fans. Here is our honorable mention.

i70baseball Honorable Mention
The honorable mention here goes to a player that is pitching impressively despite not being in a key role, which will keep him out of discussions based on stats. Aaron Crow may be the closer of the future in Kansas City after pitching his way to an earned run average below 2.00 and striking out 49 hitters in 51.1 innings pitched. Crow has allowed five home runs this season. He has scattered 37 hits over his innings of work and taken the mound 43 times. Crow will keep fans excited to see the bullpen doors swing open in Kansas City for many future seasons.

As the season comes to an end, keep an eye on these seven players and their impact on their teams and the league when the dust settles. One of these players will take home a Jackie Robinson Award and etch their name into the history books. The rest will attempt to build on a solid rookie campaign and make a career out of it. Time will tell how well these names will become known.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Jackie Robinson In Kansas City

Today baseball marks the 64th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Two years before that, Jackie was breaking into professional baseball as the shortstop for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League. He was only a Monarch for five months before Branch Rickey offered him a contract, and the Monarchs spent most of their schedule on the road, so Kansas City fans only had around 12 dates to see Jackie patrolling the infield of Ruppert (later Municipal) Stadium at 22nd & Brooklyn. Here are details from some of those home games:

May 6 • vs Chicago American Giants

After playing a month of exhibition games in the south, the Monarchs opened the regular season at home on a Sunday. Pre-game festivities started at 2:00, and “began with a parade led by the Wayne Minor American Legion drum corps and Arthur E. Toney, president of the Monarchs Boosters’ club. A detail of the Kansas State Guard…drilled. Dr. J.B. Martin, league president, was introduced from the pitcher’s mound. James H. Herbert, attorney, pitched the first ball to Eddie Dwight, a member of the Monarchs when ‘Bullet’ Rogan was manager” (May 11 Kansas City Call). Jackie had been so impressive during the spring exhibitions that manager Frank Duncan had him hitting third in his first league game. Jackie came through with an RBI double in the sixth inning, a stolen base and run scored to help the Monarchs to a 6-2 win. Booker McDaniels pitched a complete game for KC.

May 13 • vs Birmingham Black Barons

A week later, the Black Barons came to KC for a double header. Legendary Monarchs pitcher Hilton Smith dominated game one with a complete game, 3 runs allowed performance on the bump and a 2-for-3, three RBI day at the plate. Jackie went 1-for-3 with two RBI and was rung up for an error. The Monarchs won game two as well.

Satchel & Jackie

June 10 • vs Cincinnati-Indianapolis Clowns

After four long weeks on the road, the Monarchs finally returned to KC to meet the Clowns for another Sunday double header. Some guy named Satchel Paige started the first game for the Monarchs, and struck out six while allowing one hit and no runs in his four innings of work. Jackie had a nice 2-for-3 with a triple, two RBI and two runs, and KC prevailed 7-1. They dropped the nightcap for their first home loss of the season.

July 1 • vs Cleveland Buckeyes

The Buckeyes had everyone’s number in 1945. They won both halves of the American League season and then upset the National League Homestead Grays in the World Series. The Monarchs lost all five contests with them that I am aware of in ’45. That includes two losses in KC on July 1. The Monarchs blew late leads in both games. Jackie had one single in four at-bats plus a run scored in the first game. Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe started at catcher in one of his few games as a Monarch, but was knocked out by a foul tip off the bat of Sam Jethroe (future NL Rookie of the Year).

July 4 • vs Cleveland Buckeyes

The teams met for another twin bill in KC three days later, and the Buckeyes came out on top in both games once again. The Monarchs hot-hitting first baseman Lee Moody injured his shoulder in batting practice, which lead to some shuffling of infielders. Jackie took over first base. The out-of-place fielders piled up errors in the two losing efforts.

July 8 • vs Birmingham Black Barons

A crowd of just 1,900 braved some nasty weather to watch this game which was played on nearly ankle-deep mud. Those hearty fans witnessed Jackie smack three hits in five at-bats, with two doubles, two runs and three RBI. Behind another strong pitching performance from Booker McDaniels, KC walked away 9-2 winners.

August 5 • vs Ft. Leavenworth Sherman Field Flyers

This was an exhibition game against white Navy men from nearby Leavenworth, Kansas. The pitcher for the Flyers was Herman Besse, who split time between the Navy, the minors and majors between 1936-54. Satchel Paige and Booker McDaniels combined for 10 strikeouts against the Navy men, who had won the semi-pro championship in 1944, and the Monarchs prevailed 6-0. Jackie made the most of his 1-for-5 day at the plate with an RBI, stolen base and run scored. This was Jackie’s last game in KC. By the time the Monarchs returned to play on September 2nd, Jackie was no longer with the team, and was under contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Aaron Stilley bloggerates here and Twittercizes here. In-depth coverage of the 1945 Monarchs season can be found here.

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Best Royals Rookies

As Royals fans eagerly await an influx of rookie talent over the next three seasons or so, I thought it might be instructive to look back at some of the great rookie seasons in Royals history and what became of the players after their promising starts.

(To define a rookie, I used the following standards, taken from the current requirements to be eligible for the Jackie Robinson Award (Rookie of the Year): Fewer than 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched prior to rookie season.)

Kevin Seitzer 1987
25 years old • 3B • 4.3 rWAR • 161 GP • 207 hits •15 HR • .323/.399/.470 • 128 OPS+ • All-Star • 2nd place for ROY

After getting his feet wet as a September call-up the year before, Seitzer opened 1987 as the opening day first baseman. When George Brett was injured mid-May, Seitzer moved across the diamond, and held down the hot corner for the Royals through 1990. AL pitchers could not figure out how to get the rookie out: He tied Kirby Puckett for the lead in hits with 207 (six of which came in a single game), and piled up 80 walks on top of those to post a remarkable .399 OBP. That is a Rookie of the Year caliber season most years, but Mark McGwire knocked 49 HRs that year, so Seitzer had to settle for 2nd place.

Seitzer did not suffer a sophomore slump, continuing to have a hot bat in ’88. His batting prowess slowly regressed each year with the Royals though; his OPS+ from ’87—’91 went 128, 122, 106, 103, 95. Physical problems may have had a lot to do with it. In an interview with Royals Corner, Seitzer said by ’91 his knees were “really, really bad.” The Royals seemed to give up on him, benching him for much of ’91, and releasing him during spring training the following year. Seitzer went on to have a few more productive years for Milwaukee, and is back with the Royals as hitting coach since 2009.

Carlos Beltran 1999
22 years old • CF • 4.4 rWAR • 156 GP • 22 HR • 27 SB • .293/.337/.454 • 99 OPS+ • ROY

I wrote extensively about Beltran’s career recently here on I-70; suffice it to say, his massive rookie year was just the tip of the iceberg for what may end up as a Hall of Fame career.

Kevin Appier 1990
22 years old • P • 4.7 rWAR • 32 GP • 2.76 ERA • 139 ERA+ • 3.32 FIP • 6.2 SO/9 • 2.6 BB/9 • 3rd place for ROY

Appier’s coming out party in 1990 was the real deal, and started the greatest extended stretch of pitching in Royals history. He was robbed in the Jackie Robinson Award voting.

Bob Johnson 1970
27 years old • P • 4.1 rWAR • 40 GP • 3.07 ERA • 121 ERA + • 3.11 FIP • 8.7 SO/9 • 3.4 BB/9

Bob who? This was the only season Johnson pitched for KC, and the only standout season of his career. His 4.1 rWAR was eighth best for AL pitchers. He figured in two of the greatest trades in Royals history; first ever Royals GM Cedric Tallis acquired Johnson along with Amos Otis in exchange for Joe Foy, got this excellent season out of Johnson in ’70 and promptly flipped him to Pittsburgh in the deal that brought Freddie Patek to KC. I wonder if the savvy Tallis had an inkling Johnson would not be repeating his outstanding rookie campaign.

Mike Aviles 2008
27 years old • SS • 3.7 rWAR • 102 GP • 10 HR • .325/.354/.480 • 121 OPS+ • 4th place for ROY

The jury is still out on exactly how the rest of Aviles’s career will play out. Injuries have sapped much of his value since ’08, but hopes are high that a healthy Aviles can return to near-2008 form this season—though he is already 30 years old.

Angel Berroa 2003
23 years old • SS • 4.0 rWAR • 158 GP • 17 HR • .287/.338/.451 • 101 OPS+ • ROY

Ugh. Berroa and the entire 2003 season brought so much hope to Royals fans, but his individual success was as fleeting as the team’s. I will never understand where his ability went after such an outstanding rookie year, but his value completely disappeared immediately afterward. His total rWAR since ’03 is -0.6. He did not play a game in the majors last year. Berroa was the ultimate Royals disappointment following a big debut.

Jose Rosado 1996
21 years old • P • 3.5 rWAR • 16 GP • 3.21 ERA • 156 ERA+ • 3.67 FIP • 5.4 SO/9 • 2.2 BB/9 • 4th place for ROY

If Berroa is the worst case for performance disappearing, Rosado is the cautionary tale of a promising career cut short by injury. He did get in four full seasons and two All-Star appearances as a starter in KC, but at just 25 years of age, Rosado’s shoulder was done and so was his career.

Tom Gordon 1989
21 years old • P • 3.4 rWAR • 49 GP • 3.64 ERA • 107 ERA+ • 3.28 FIP • 8.4 SO/9 • 4.7 BB/9 • 2nd place for ROY

After making 33 relief appearances, the Royals handed Gordon a spot in the rotation for the last two and a half months of his rookie campaign. He was effective in both roles, and was a steady piece of the Royals pitching staff through 1995, mostly as a starter, though he continued to make some relief appearances as well. Gordon was a rare case that seemed to land in the majors fully formed—he neither added nor gained significant performance over most of his long career. Unlike most rookies, what you got from young “Flash” Gordon initially was much like what you saw for a long time to come.

Mike Fiore 1969
24 years old • 1B • 3.3 rWAR • 107 GP • 12 HR • .274/.420/.428 • 138 OPS+

Statistically, this is one of the most interesting Royals seasons ever. I do not think most baseball fans would even recognize Fiore’s name, and understandably so—he only played 254 games in his career, and had a non-existent bat with the exception of this freakish year with the first incarnation of the Royals. I wonder what was going on that year as Fiore piled up 84 walks and reached base at a .420 clip. I also wonder if anyone was noticing this talent in these pre-OBP days. It does not appear to have been a complete fluke—in nine AAA seasons, Fiore’s OBP was .393.

Zack Greinke 2004
20 years old • P • 24 GP • 3.8 rWAR • 3.97 ERA • 120 ERA+ • 4.70 FIP • 6.2 SO/9 • 1.6 BB/9 • 4th place for ROY

Enough ink has been devoted to Mssr. Greinke in Royals-land lately, but let this be a reminder to anyone who thinks 2009 was Zack’s only good year.

Joakim Soria 2007
23 years old • P • 62 GP • 2.9 rWAR • 2.48 ERA • 185 ERA+ • 2.50 FIP • 9.8 SO/9 • 2.5 BB/9 • 7th place for ROY

After nabbing Soria in the rule five draft, the Royals had no choice but to carry him on the major league roster. Turned out that was exactly where he belonged, and he’s been dominating hitters ever since.

Bob Hamelin 1994
26 years old • DH • 101 GP • 2.5 rWAR • 24 HR • .282/.388/.599 • 146 OPS+ • ROY

This one ranks up with Berroa’s as a season that just generated false hope. In the strike-shortened ’94 year, Hamelin was a beast with the bat. Once the games resumed in ’95, his offense disappeared, never to fully return. He kept his strikeout rate just under 20% in ’94, but it jumped to the mid-twenties in his next two years as a Royal. His home run power also was gone.

Lou Piniella 1969
25 years old • LF • 135 GP • 1.7 rWAR • 11 HR • .282/.325/.416 • 107 OPS+ • ROY

I include this season only because Piniella somehow won the Rookie of the Year award. Piniella was a perfectly serviceable outfielder as a rookie, and remained as such for a very long time. But he wasn’t even the best rookie on his own team (see Mike Fiore), much less the AL.


Well, that is a lot of research and rambling to conclude that you can’t tell a whole lot from a rookie year. Some guys show up looking like stars only to disappear; most come up needing time to adjust. Even George Brett was a below average hitter his first year. So the biggest takeaway of all is to be patient. If Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, or some other rookie gets called up this season and struggles, it does not mean he will not figure things out. And if someone comes up playing like his hair is on fire…well, go ahead and get excited. Just try not to think about Angel Berroa or Bob Hamelin too much.

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