Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Girardi Trusts CC & Layne, Yanks Win

Last night, at Safeco Field, the Yankees bounced back against the Seattle Mariners. It was 1-1 after 4 innings, but in the top of the 5th, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a 2-run homer to make it 3-1 New York. The Yankees tacked on another run in the 6th.

That was all CC Sabathia needed. The Big Fella turned back the clock, and Joe Girardi actually let him pitch 7 full innings, in which he allowed just 1 run on 3 hits and a walk, striking out 7. Aside from an RBI triple by Leonys Martin in the 3rd, he was partying like it was 2009 -- minus the booze.

Girardi also trusted lefthanded reliever Tommy Layne to pitch an entire inning, not just to 1 lefty batter, and he pitched a perfect 8th. The Yanks got an insurance run in the 9th, and Dellin Betances closed it out.

Yankees 5, Mariners 1. WP: Sabathia (8-10). No save, as the Yanks led by 4 runs when Betances took over. Had that run not scored, he would have gotten a save. LP: Taijuan Walker (4-8).

So, Joe Girardi, the moral of the story is "Throw away the binder, and trust your pitchers."

*

The Yankees are 7 games behind both the Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East, and 5 games behind the Baltimore Orioles for the AL's 2nd wild card. The O's trail the Sox and Jays by 2 games for the Division lead.

Elsewhere, the Cleveland Indians look like they have the AL Central wrapped up, leading the Detroit Tigers by 6 1/2 games and the defending World Champion Kansas City Royals by 7 1/2. The Texas Rangers lead the AL West by 5 1/2 over the Mariners and 8 over the Houston Astros. All of those teams are at least in Wild Card contention.

In the National League East, the Washington Nationals lead the Miami Marlins by 8 games and the Mets by 10. The Chicago Cubs are coasting in the Central, leading the St. Louis Cardinals by 13 1/2 games. They've looked like the best team in baseball all season long, which will only make it that much worse when the inevitable letdown happens.

The old rivals, formerly from New York City, remain in a dogfight in the NL West, as the Los Angeles Dodgers lead the San Francisco Giants by 2 games. The Giants have won the World Series in the last 3 even-numbered seasons, including 2014 when they snuck in via the Wild Card, so we cannot discount them in 2016, not by a longshot.

The Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals currently hold the NL Wild Card slots. The Marlins are a game and a half behind the Giants. The Mets are 3 1/2 back, so they're not out of the Playoff hunt yet. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Colorado Rockies are also within range.

So, with 5 1/2 weeks of regular season play to go, there are still 19 out of the 30 teams with a legitimate shot at the postseason.

The Yanks-M's series continues this afternoon, with both starters coming from Japan: Masahiro Tanaka (10-4) for the Yankees, and Hisashi Iwakuma (14-8) for Seattle.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Girardi, Pineda, Bullpen Blow the Sanchez Show

The Yankees should have won last night's series opener in Seattle against the Mariners. After all, they got what should have been enough runs.

But they sure didn't get enough pitching. Michael Pineda started, and the Yankees gave him a 2-0 lead going into the bottom of the 4th inning, thanks to home runs by rookie sensation Gary Sanchez and Starlin Castro. But Pineda couldn't hold it, and the inning ended 3-2 Mariners.

The rest of the game was essentially a rerun. In the top of the 6th, the Yankees retook the lead, thanks to home runs by Sanchez and Castro. Sanchez already has 8 home runs in the brief time he's been up, Castro 17 in this 1st season as a Yankee.

But, again, Pineda couldn't hold it. The leadoff batter in the bottom of the 6th was former Yankee Robinson Cano, and he singled. Pineda got Nelson Cruz to pop up, but he walked Kyle Seager to put the tying runs on base.

Joe Girardi did the right thing, and took Pineda out of the game. But then he did some serious Joe Girardi-ing: He brought Tommy Layne in to pitch to Adam Lind, and it worked: Lind popped up, and the infield fly rule was called. Layne got the out.

But instead of leaving Layne in to pitch to the next batter, Mike Zunino, he took Layne out, in favor of Anthony Swarzak. Why? Because Layne and Linda are both lefthanded, and Zunino and Swarzak are both righthanded.

Any manager who uses his brain would have left Layne in. But Girardi uses that damned binder of his, and with a full count, Zunino crushed a home run to right field, turning 5-3 Yankees into 6-5 Mariners.

I could blame Swarzak, but the truth is that Swarzak wouldn't have been in there if Girardi had a goddamned clue! He doesn't!

The game was essentially over right there. The Mariners tacked another run on in the 8th, to make the final Mariners 7, Yankees 5. WP: Nick Vincent (3-3). SV: Edwin Diaz (10). LP: Swarzak (1-2).

The series continues tonight, though without much point for the Yankees, as Girardi (and general manager Brian Cashman) have thrown a decent shot at the Playoffs away. CC Sabathia starts for the Yankees tonight, Taijuan Walker for the M's.

*

In other baseball news, the Texas Rangers dumped Josh Hamilton for the 2nd time today. From 2008 to 2011, he was a great redemption story. But his relapses with alcohol and cocaine from 2012 onward, coupled with his injuries from 2014 onward and his infamous performance with the Los Angeles Angels in the 2014 American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, have tarnished him, perhaps to the point of no return.

He was the hero (but not the winner) of the 2008 Home Run Derby at the old Yankee Stadium, and the AL Most Valuable Player in 2010, powering the Rangers past the Yankees in the AL Championship Series, partly due to Girardi trusting the pathetic Boone Logan in not 1 but 2 lefty-on-lefty situations that resulted in long home runs.

Now, he has a .290 lifetime batting average, and exactly 200 home runs. He didn't reach the major leagues until he was 26, was a star from 27 to 32, and, at 35, may well be done.
People, especially in sports, love to give a fallen hero a second chance. They tend not to give a third. It goes from, "You disappointed us, but we still have faith in you" to, "You let us down. Again. Just go away, already! We don't want to see you anymore!"

Unless, of course, you're Alex Rodriguez. Some Yankee Fans would like to give him yet another chance.

There is a difference here, though: The drugs Josh Hamilton has been ingesting are most definitely not enhancing his performance.

How to Be a Yankee Fan In Kansas City -- 2016 Edition

Next Monday, the Yankees head to Kansas City to play the Royals.

Going to Kansas City.
Kansas City, here I come.
They got some crazy little women there
and I’m a-gonna get me one.


Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller wrote that tune back in the 1950s, and it’s been recorded by a lot of people. It hit Number 1 for Wilbert Harrison in 1959.

It doesn't say anything about baseball, though. Until recently, the Royals had a very spotty history -- they didn't make the Playoffs for 28 seasons (1986 to 2013), and in 58 seasons of Major League Baseball (13 for the A's, 1955-67; 45 for the Royals, 1969-2013), the city had been in the postseason just 7 times.

That changed in 2014, as they won one of the American League's Wild Card slots, won the Pennant for the 1st time since their 1985 World Championship, took the San Francisco Giants to the 9th inning of Game 7 of the World Series, won another Pennant last year, and reaped the rewards of the Mets embarrassing themselves in the World Series to take their 1st title in 30 years.

Kansas City has quite a fascinating baseball history, and should still be regarded as a good baseball town.

Before You Go. Check the Kansas City Star website for the weather forecast before you go. (The rival Kansas City Times stopped publishing in 1990.) K.C. can get really hot in the summer, and late August could be brutal. The daylight temperature will be in the high 80s on Monday and the low 80s on Tuesday and Wednesday. Nighttime temperatures should be in the high 60s throughout.

In this case, however, the heat won't be the only problem: Thunderstorms are being predicted for late Monday and early Tuesday -- (possibly delaying or postponing the Monday game. Tuesday or Wednesday may end up featuring a day/night, separate-admissions doubleheader.

Kansas City is in the Central Time Zone, an hour behind New York and New Jersey. Adjust your timepieces accordingly.

Tickets. In spite of being defending World Champions and winning back-to-back Pennants, and also in spite of recent renovations to the 43-year-old Kauffman Stadium, the Royals are averaging 32,674 fans per home game this season -- about 86 percent of capacity, but also about 800 less than last season. What this means for a fan visiting Kansas City is that you can pretty much walk up to the ticket booth on the day of the game and buy any seat you can afford.

Dugout Boxes run $65, Dugout Plaza $58, Field Boxes $47, Field Plaza $38, Loge seats $40, Outfield Boxes $33, Hy-Vee Boxes (these and all after them are upper deck) $20, and Hy-Vee View $18.

Getting There. Kansas City's Crown Center is 1,194 road miles from New York's Times Square, and it's 1,190 miles from Yankee Stadium to Kauffman Stadium. Knowing this, your first reaction is going to be to fly out there.

Round-trip on American Airlines, while changing planes in Chicago, can be under $700 round-trip. If you want non-stop, you can fly United, and it'll be more like $750. When you do get there, the 129 bus takes you from Kansas City Mid-Continent Airport to downtown in under an hour, so that’s convenient.

Bus? Not a good idea. Greyhound runs 6 buses a day between Port Authority and Kansas City, and only 2 of them are without changes in Pennsylvania (possibly in Philadelphia, possibly in Harrisburg). The total time is about 29 hours, and costs $198 round-trip. The Greyhound terminal is at 1101 Troost Avenue, at E. 11th Street. Number 25 bus to downtown.

Train? Amtrak sends the Lake Shore Limited out of Penn Station at 3:40 PM Eastern Time, to Union Station in Chicago at 9:45 AM Central Time. Then you have to switch to the Southwest Chief – the modern version of the Santa Fe Railroad’s Chicago-to-Los Angeles Super Chief, the train that, along with his Cherokee heritage, gave 1950s Yankee pitcher Allie Reynolds his nickname. The Southwest Chief leaves Chicago at 3:00 PM, and arrives at Union Station in K.C. at 10:11 PM, meaning you would need to leave New York on Saturday afternoon to get there Sunday night, in order to attend the entire series. Round trip fare is $374. K.C.'s Union Station is at Pershing Road and Main Street. Take the MAX bus to get downtown.

If you decide to drive, it's far enough that it will help to get someone to go with you and split the duties, and to trade off driving and sleeping. You'll need to get on the New Jersey Turnpike, and take Interstate 78 West across New Jersey, and at Harrisburg get on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which at this point will be both I-70 and I-76. When the two Interstates split outside Pittsburgh, stay on I-70 west. You'll cross the northern tip of West Virginia, and go all the way accross Ohio (through Columbus), Indiana (through Indianapolis), Illinois and very nearly Missouri (through the northern suburbs of St. Louis). In Missouri, Exit 9 will be for the Sports Complex. But you'd be crazy to come all this way and not get a hotel, so you'll get a decent night's sleep, so take I-70 right into downtown.

If you do it right, you should spend about an hour and 15 minutes in New Jersey, 5 hours in Pennsylvania, 15 minutes in West Virginia, 3 hours and 45 minutes in Ohio, 2 hours and 30 minutes in Indiana, 2 hours and 30 minutes in Illinois, and 4 hours and 15 minutes in Missouri before you reach the exit for your hotel. That’s going to be nearly 21 and a half hours. Counting rest stops, preferably 7 of them, and accounting for traffic in both New York and Kansas City, it should be about 28 hours.

Once In the City. Kansas City, founded in 1838 and named for the Kanza tribe of Native Americans who lived there, is one of the smallest cities in the major leagues, with just 460,000 people, and one of the smallest metropolitan areas, with 2.4 million -- indeed, if you rank the 30 MLB markets (remembering to divide New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco in half, although the fandom doesn't really break that way), only Cincinnati and Milwaukee have smaller markets.

Kansas City is set on the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas rivers, and on the Missouri/Kansas State Line. Kansas City, Kansas is a separate city with about 140,000 people, and is known locally as KCK, while the more familiar city is KCMO. As for KCMO, Main Street runs north-south and divides Kansas City addresses between East and West, while the north-south addresses start at 1 at the Missouri River. Famously (or infamously), prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Kansas City was segregated: North of 27th Street was white, south of it was black.

The base fare for buses and light rail is $1.50, though to go to the Missouri suburbs or KCK it's doubled to $3.00. A 3-day pass is $10. The sales tax in Missouri is 4.225 percent, but it more than doubles to 8.475 within Kansas City.
The Kansas City Streetcar light rail system

Going In. The Harry S Truman Sports Complex, including Kauffman Stadium (known as Royals Stadium from 1973 until the 1993 death of founder-owner-pharmaceutical titan Ewing M. Kauffman) and Arrowhead Stadium, home of the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs and site of a 2001 U.S. soccer team win over Costa Rica, is 8 miles southeast of downtown Kansas City, at the intersection of Interstates 70 and 435, still in the city but on the suburban edge of it.
The official address is 1 Royal Way. You don’t have to worry about the ballpark being in a bad neighborhood: It’s not in any neighborhood. Parking costs $11.

Public transportation is not much of an option. In fact, aside from Arlington, Texas, this may be the most unfriendly ballpark in the majors for those without a car. The Number 28 bus will drop you off at 35th Street South and Blue Ridge Cutoff, and then it's a one-mile walk down the Cutoff, over I-70, to the ballpark. The Number 47 bus will drop you off a little closer, on the Cutoff at 40th Terrace, about half a mile away.

Most fans will enter by the spiral walkways behind home plate, a holdover from the 1960s sports stadium architecture that also befell Giants Stadium, among others.
The ballpark faces northeast, and if you're old enough to remember those Yankees-Royals Playoffs from 1976 to 1980, you'll notice some differences. For one thing, the field, then artificial and a very pale green, is now all-natural grass and a much deeper green. For another, the red seats that you might remember as horribly clashing with the artificial turf and the Royals blue & white uniforms are gone, replaced by navy blue – or, should I say, "Royal blue."
John Jordan "Buck" O'Neil, longtime 1st baseman and later manager of the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues, remained in Kansas City after his retirement until his death in 2006. Starting with the 2007 season, the Royals have chosen for every game "a person who embodies the spirit of Buck O'Neil," selected from community nominees, to sit in what had been the free seat they provided for him. The Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat is located behind home plate in Section 127, Row C, Seat 9.
A revamped version of the old big crown scoreboard is in center field, and so is the Water Spectacular, the fountains that remain the stadium's most famous feature.
The park's outfield distances have never changed: 330 feet to the poles, 387 to the power alleys, and 410 to center. This means the park has traditionally favored pitchers and, due to its distances and (formerly) artificial turf, contact hitters and speedsters. Mike Trout has hit the park's longest home run, with a 489-foot drive in 2014, surpassing Bo Jackson's 475-foot shot in 1986.

With the carpet replaced by real grass, the Royals' go-go-go game of the 1976-85 era is reduced, although the franchise was in decline well before the switchover to grass in 1995. Seating capacity is currently listed as 37,903, pushable to 40,933 with standing room.

Food. Kansas City has a reputation for great barbecue, and "The K" has that, and some other good food items. Royals All-Star Barbecue is behind Sections 221 (3rd base) and 422 (Upper Deck behind home plate). The .390 Bar & Grill (named for George Brett’s 1980 batting average) is in the upper deck on the 3rd base side.

Blue Moose Sausage Emporium is under the right field stands. Boulevard Brewing Company is behind 223. Boulevard Pub is at 230. The Captain Morgan Bar is at 420. Crown Classics (presumably the usual ballpark fare with a team-themed name) are all over the place. Dugout Dog House stands are behind 208 and 247. Farmland Grill is at 239. There are several Hot Corner Grills and FryWorks stands. There are 4 Hostess Sweet Spot stands (Deep-fried Twinkies, perhaps?), Mexican-themed KC Cantina Cart at 224 and 232, an Irish Pub (no cutesy faux-Hibernian name) at 218 and 237, German-themed Leinenkugel's Leinie Lodge at 412 and Nutty Bavarian at 213 and 242, and – brace yourselves, Yankee Fans – the Pine Tar Pub in the outfield corners.

According to a recent Thrillist article on the best food at each big-league ballpark, the best food at Kauffman Stadium isn't anything barbecue-related -- the author, Wil Fulton, said, "We know, 'blasphemy,' 'heresy,' 'we'll burn for this,' blah, blah, blah. Hear us out" -- but Belfonte Ice Cream, which, like the Royals, began operation in 1969. Considering how hot the weather (and the barbecued meats) are, they may have a point. It's available all over the stadium.

Team History Displays. The Royals have their championship flags on poles in the outfield: 1985 and 2015 World Champions; 1980 and 2014 American League Champions; 1976, 1977, 1978, 1984 AL Western Division Champions.
Their retired numbers have been moved from the crown scoreboard to the left field corner, above the Royals Hall of Fame: 5, George Brett, 3rd base, 1973-93; 10, Dick Howser, manager, 1981-86 (also former Yankee infielder, coach and 1980 manager); 20, Frank White, 2nd base, 1973-90.
Besides Brett, White and Howser, those included in the Hall are: Team founders-owners Ewing and Muriel Kauffman, general manager Joe Burke, chief scout Art Stewart, manager Whitey Herzog; pitchers Steve Busby, Dennis Leonard, Paul Splittorff, Larry Gura, Dan Quisenberry, Bret Saberhagen, Kevin Appier, Mark Gubicza and Jeff Montgomery; 1st baseman John Mayberry Sr.; 2nd baseman Octavio "Cookie" Rojas; shortstop Freddie Patek; outfielders Amos Otis and Willie Wilson; catcher Mike Sweeney; DH Hal McRae; broadcaster Denny Matthews; and groundskeeper George Toma. The outside of this Hall, in left field, includes statues of the Kauffmans, the retired number players, and Buck O'Neil -- more about him in a moment.
The Kauffmans' statue

Splittorff was also a Royals broadcaster before his death in 2011. Toma, a.k.a. "The Sod God," has worked for Kansas City sports teams since the 1950s, including the A's, and was recommended by Chiefs founder-owner Lamar Hunt to prepare the field for Super Bowl I, where the Chiefs lost to the Green Bay Packers at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The NFL was so impressed with this AFL groundskeeper that he was kept on, and while he retired from active work in 1999, at age 87, he still oversees the work at Kauffman and Arrowhead, and is one of a few people to have been at all 50 Super Bowls.
The Sod God

He also took care of Arrowhead's newly-planted real grass for the 1994 World Cup, and was imported for the Olympics by Los Angeles in 1984 and Atlanta in 1996. The oddity is that, as good as he was with grass, for over 20 years he was working with artificial turf at both Kansas City stadiums.

Beginning with the 2007 season, the Royals had a red seat placed in the stadium amongst the all-blue seats behind home plate to honor John "Buck" O'Neil, the star 1st baseman and manager for the city's long-ago Negro League team, the Kansas City Monarchs. One person is selected every game from community nominees to sit in that seat, formerly Buck's season-ticket seat. Previously, it was Section 101, Row C, Seat 1. Due to the renovations and section renumbering in 2009, the seat number is now Section 127, Seat 9, Row C.

Note that the Royals were named after Kansas City's annual American Royal Livestock Show. It has nothing to do with either the Monarchs or the downtown Crown Center complex.

Brett, and Satchel Paige and James "Cool Papa" Bell of the Monarchs, were named to The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Baseball Players in 1999. Brett was Kansas City's choice in the DHL Hometown Heroes poll in 2006.

Stuff. The Royals Majestic Team Store is located at Gate C, behind home plate. The usual items that can be found at a souvenir store can be found there. I suppose this could include crowns with the KC logo on them.

Books about the Royals are not exactly well-known outside the K.C. area. Their Hall of Fame (Cooperstown and Kansas City) broadcaster Denny Matthews wrote Tales from the Royals Dugout, but that's probably the closest you're going to get to an inside story about the club. Jeff and Jeffrey Spivak, father and son, wrote a 25th Anniversary retrospective, Crowning the Kansas City Royals: Remember the 1985 World Series Champs; and Sara Gilbert (not the Roseanne actress, now a panelist on CBS’ The Talk) wrote The Story of the Kansas City Royals, which takes the franchise from its 1969 beginning to the 2006 season.

The 2015 title resulted in some books, including Matt Fulks' and Dayton Moore's Taking the Crown: The Kansas City Royals' Amazing 2015 Season; and a children's version, Jason Sivewright's and Kevin Howdeshell's The Year a Royal Dream Came True.

There is, as yet, no Essential Games of the Kansas City Royals (or Essential Games of Royals/Kauffman Stadium), but the official 1985 and 2015 World Series highlight film packages are available.

During the Game. A recent Thrillist article on "Baseball's Most Intolerable Fans" ranks the Royals 19th, putting them in the "more tolerable" half:

It's hard not to be a little bit happy for the Royals, what with their interminably long stretch of bleakness followed by consecutive World Series appearances, including winning the damn thing last year. It finally worked! But be warned -- winning has a tendency to breed obnoxiousness, and they're already exhibiting some of those "aw shucks, aren't we just the best" symptoms trademarked by another Missouri team.

That, of course, refers to the St. Louis Cardinals. Royals fans don't like the Cardinals.

Because of their Great Plains/Heartland image, Royals fans like a "family atmosphere." Therefore, while they hate the Yankees more than they hate their Central Division opponents Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Minnesota, and their former Western Division rivals in Oakland and Anaheim, they will not directly antagonize you. At least, they won’t initiate it. But don't call them rednecks, hicks or sheep-shaggers. And don't say anything unkind about George Brett. Sure, he deserves it, but what's the point? He can't hurt you anymore; his supporters, theoretically, can.

The Tuesday night game will be T-Shirt night, with the 1st 10,000 fans getting Royals T-shirts. The Wednesday night game will be Irish Heritage Night.

The Royals hold auditions for National Anthem singers, rather than having a regular. They have a mascot, Sluggerrr, a lion (royal, king of the jungle) with a crown on his head. (Why the 3 R's, I don’t know, maybe he encourages kids with the legendary "Three R's: Reading, 'Riting and 'Rithmetic." I didn't make those up, and neither did the Royals.) From his page on the Royals’ site:

Height: 7'0".  (That may be his actual height, but it may also be a nod to Interstate 70.) Weight: Muscle weighs more than fat. Position: King of the Jungle. Bats: Doesn't remember, "It's been a while since I was a designated hitter." Throws: Hot Dogs, T-shirts, and visiting fans out of the park! Steals: Cotton candy, peanuts, and sometimes popcorn. Favorite Food: Cardinal Wings, Filet O' Mariner, Rays Soup, Tiger Steak, Oriole Sandwich, Blue Jay Bites.

Steals popcorn? Shades of Don Mattingly. No mention of Yankee Bean Soup among his favorite foods? Sorry, Sluggerrr: No soup for you!
Sluggerrr also manged to cuckold Mr. Met
during the 2015 World Series.

The Royals do a takeoff on the Milwaukee Brewers' Sausage Race, with a "Heinz Condiment Race," featuring Ketchup, Mustard and Relish. They don't play a song after "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the 7th stretch, but in the middle of the 8th inning, they play "Friends in Low Places" by Oklahoma native and Royals fan Garth Brooks. They do not appear to have a postgame victory song. Perhaps, to welcome people to the ticket windows before the game, they should play "Come to My Window" by Leavenworth, Kansas native and Royals fan Melissa Etheridge.

Starting in the 2014 season, in a reflection of the Chicago Cubs and their W flag on the scoreboard, the Royals have placed a W on the Hall of Fame wall after every win.

After the Game. Since the sports complex is not in any neighborhood, let alone a bad one, you should be safe after a game, day or night. As I said, leave the home fans alone, and they'll probably leave you alone.

Chappell's Restaurant & Sports Museum, not really a museum but with a huge memorabilia collection, has been called the best sports bar in town. 323 Armour Rd., at Erie St, 11 miles northeast of the sports complex, and 5 miles north of downtown. 

If you want to be around other New Yorkers, I'm sorry to say that I can find no listings for where they tend to gather. Even those sites that show where expatriate NFL fans watch games in cities other than their own came up short.

Sidelights. Kansas City's sports history is a bit uneven. When the Royals and Chiefs have been good, they’ve been exceptional. But they've also had long stretches of mediocrity. Still, there are some local sites worth checking out.

* Site of Municipal Stadium. This single-decked, 17,000-seat ballpark was built as Muehlebach Field in 1923, by George Muehlebach, who also owned the beer and the hotel that bore his name, and the American Association's Kansas City Blues. It hosted the Blues' Pennants in 1929, 1938, 1952 and 1953 – the last 3 as a farm club of the Yankees. (They'd previously won Pennants in 1888, 1890, 1898 and 1901, for a total of 8 Pennants -- or 6 more than the A's and Royals combined in nearly 60 years thus far.) Future Yankee legends Phil Rizzuto (Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year in 1940) and Mickey Mantle (1951) played for this club at this ballpark.
The Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues also played at Muehlebach, renamed Ruppert Stadium for the Yankees' owner in 1937 and Blues Stadium in 1943. They won 13 Pennants there from 1923 to 1955, including 3 straight, 1923-25, and 4 straight, 1939-42.

Hall-of-Famers Satchel Paige, Willard Brown and Hilton Smith were their biggest stars, although it should be noted that, while he played with them in the 1945 season, Jackie Robinson was, at the time, not considered as much of a baseball prospect some of the other players who were thought of as potential "first black players," like Paige, Monte Irvin and Larry Doby; it was his competitiveness and his temperament, as much as his talent, that got Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey interested in him. And in a travesty, Monarchs legend Buck O’Neil has never been elected to the Hall of Fame. The Monarchs had to leave after the 1955 season, because of the arrival of the A's.

In 1954, the Philadelphia Athletics were sold to trucking company owner Arnold Johnson, and he moved the club to Kansas City, where his pal Del Webb, co-owner of the Yankees, had his construction company put an upper deck on what was renamed Municipal Stadium, raising the capacity to 35,020.
Thanks to the Webb-Johnson friendship, a lot of trades went back and forth (including Billy Martin out there in 1957 and Roger Maris to New York in the 1959-60 off-season), and it was joked that Kansas City was still a Yankee farm club. When Johnson died during spring training in 1960, insurance magnate Charles O. Finley bought the club, and he put a stop to that.
Finley was convinced that the reason the Yankees won all those Pennants was the 296-foot right field foul pole at the old Yankee Stadium, and so he brought the fence at Municipal in to 296 feet – though reaching back to its former 353-foot pole, thus obeying the letter of the law that said that all parks entering the majors had to be at least 325 feet to the poles. (This rule has notably not been enforced every time: The new Yankee Stadium maintained the outfield distances that the old one had in its last years, and Baltimore's Camden Yards, opened well after the 1958 debut of the rule, is 318 feet to right.) Commissioner Ford Frick ruled that what Finley called the "KC Pennant Porch," with a small bleacher between the old and new fences, was illegal. So Finley scaled it back to 325 feet at its closest point, making it the "KC One-Half Pennant Porch."
Finley also debuted some of his promotional shenanigans at Municipal, including Harvey the Rabbit, a Bugs Bunny lookalike that mechanically popped out of home plate to deliver fresh baseballs to the plate umpire.

But Finley wanted a new ballpark, and Kansas City wouldn't give it to him. It's not that they didn't support big-league ball, it's that they couldn't stand him. After flirting with Atlanta, Louisville, Dallas, New Orleans and Denver, he moved the team out of Kansas City in 1967, leading Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri to say, "Oakland, California just became the luckiest city since Hiroshima."

Despite being from the St. Louis side of the State, Symington lobbied Major League Baseball for a replacement team in K.C., and MLB granted an expansion franchise to Ewing Kauffman, to start play in 1969. Symington was invited to throw out the first ball at the first Royals home game. For the new team, with Kauffman rather than Finley as owner, the city built a new park. The Royals moved out after the 1972 season. Neither the Royals nor the A's ever came close to October while playing there.

The Chiefs began playing at Municipal Stadium in 1963, won AFL Championships in 1966 and 1969 (in addition to their 1962 title as the Dallas Texans), won Super Bowl IV, and played their last game there on Christmas Day 1971, a double-overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins that is still the longest game in NFL history. And Finley convinced Brian Epstein to let the Beatles play there, on September 17, 1964, their only concert in Kansas City. (Having covered the song "Kansas City," of course, they played it that night.)

The U.S. soccer team played Bermuda at Municipal Stadium on November 2, 1968, and won. The attendance was 2,265. That gives you an idea of how far U.S. soccer has come.

The stadium was torn down in 1976, and a housing development named Monarch Manor going up on the site. 2123 Brooklyn Avenue, near the 18th and Vine district that was the home of Kansas City jazz, making it a favorite of the Monarchs players. The legendary Arthur Bryant’s barbecue restaurant is 4 blocks away at 1727 Brooklyn Avenue. Number 123 bus.

* Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and American Jazz Museum. Founded by Buck O'Neil and some friends, this museum "tells the other side of the story." As Buck himself said, the pre-1947 all-white major leagues called themselves "Organized Baseball," but, "We were organized." The museum's lobby features statues of several Negro League legends, including Paige, Josh Gibson, Buck Leonard and Oscar Charleston – having played for the Monarchs was by no means a requirement for that.
Buck and his statue at the museum

The Negro Leagues were a sometimes dignified, sometimes willingly silly, and very successful response to the color bar. But the raiding of their rosters, with no regard to contracts and thus no money changing hands, by the white majors from 1947 onward, was the beginning of the end. But Buck O’Neil had the right perspective, as he said in Ken Burns' Baseball miniseries: "Happy. Happy... Of course, it meant the death of our baseball, but who cared? Who cared?" The owners of the Negro League teams cared. Other than that...

1616 E. 18th Street. The same building is home to the American Jazz Museum, which includes a working jazz club, the Blue Room. Number 108 bus. The Museum is 5 blocks west of Arthur Bryant's, and a short walk from the site of Municipal Stadium – neither of these facts is a coincidence.

* Municipal Auditorium. Built in 1935 in the Art Deco style then common to public buildings (especially in New York), it replaced the Convention Hall that was across the street, which hosted the 1900 Democratic Convention which nominated William Jennings Bryan for President (and at which a 16-year-old Harry S Truman served as a page) and the 1928 Republican Convention that nominated Herbert Hoover.

The arena seats 7,316 people, but for special events can be expanded to 10,721. The NCAA hosted what would later be called the Final Four here in 1940 (Indiana over Kansas), '41 (Wisconsin over Washington State), '42 (Stanford over Dartmouth, '53 (Indiana over Kansas), '54 (Tom Gola's La Salle over Bradley), '55  (Bill Russell's San Francisco over Gola's LaSalle), '57 (North Carolina over Kansas, Wilt Chamberlain losing in triple overtime), '61 (Cincinnati over Ohio State's defending champs, including Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek) and '64 (John Wooden starting his UCLA dynasty by beating Duke and completing an undefeated season with Walt Hazzard and Gail Goodrich).

The NBA's Kansas City Kings played their 1972-73 and 1973-74 home games here after moving from Cincinnati – having to change their name because Kansas City already had a team called the Royals. An accident at the Kemper Arena forced the Kings to move back to the Auditorium for a few games in the 1979-80 season. The basketball team at the University of Missouri at Kansas City (UMKC) played their home games here from its opening until they opened an on-campus arena in 2010.

Elvis Presley sang there as a new national star on May 24, 1956, and as an entertainment legend on November 15, 1971 and June 29, 1974. The 2nd Presidential Debate of 1984 was held there. This is where Ronald Reagan joked about his age and experience compared to Walter Mondale's, then gave a closing statement that made him look like the Alzheimer's he was later diagnosed with was already in effect. 301 W. 13th Street. Pretty much any downtown bus will get you close.

* Kemper Arena. Built in 1974, it immediately began hosting 2 major league sports teams – neither of which lasted very long. The NBA's Kansas City Kings played here until 1985, when they moved to Sacramento. The NHL's Kansas City Scouts were the ne plus ultra – or should that be ne minus ultra? – of expansion teams, lasting only 2 seasons before moving in 1976 to become the Colorado Rockies, and then again in 1982 to become the New Jersey Devils. A few minor league hockey teams have played here since, but its only current tenant is the American Royal show.

In the Kings' final season, they hosted the Knicks in a game that resulted in one of the most frustrating injuries in NBA history, Knick star Bernard King jumping for a rebound and tearing up his knee. I'll never forget watching on TV and hearing him yell, "Oh, damn! Oh, damn!" and then crumpling to the floor, repeatedly slapping it with his hand. Bernard did play again, and well, but a great career turned into a what-might-have-been. But that wasn'’t the worst injury here, and I don't mean the 1979 roof damage, either: This was where professional wrestler Owen Hart was killed in an accident on May 23, 1999.

Kemper was also the last building seating under 20,000 people to host a Final Four, hosting the 50th Anniversary edition in 1988, in which the University of Kansas, led by Danny Manning, upset heavily favored Oklahoma. In fact, KU made the 40-mile trip from Lawrence many times, creating an atmosphere that got the place nicknamed Allen Fieldhouse East, a name they have now transplanted to the Sprint Center. They went 80-24 at Kemper, including the 1988 title game.

The 1976 Republican Convention was held there, nominating Gerald Ford. Elvis sang there on April 21, 1976 and, in one of his last concerts, June 18, 1977. 1800 Genesee Street, at American Royal Drive, a block from the Missouri-Kansas State Line. Number 12 bus.

* Sprint Center. This arena opened in 2007, with the idea of bringing the NBA or NHL back to Kansas City. (The arena builders appear not to care which one they get, but with K.C. being a "small market," they'll be lucky to get one, and will not get both.) It almost got the Pittsburgh Penguins, before a deal to build the Consol Energy Center was finalized. It was also being considered for the New York Islanders, before they cut a deal to move to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

For basketball, it seats 18,555; for hockey, 17,752. For the moment, no teams, major- or minor-league, play here regularly, although has hosted college basketball: KU games, the Big 12 Tournament, NCAA Tournament games. 1407 Grand Boulevard, at W. 14th Street. Number 57 or MAX bus from downtown.

On May 12, 2014, the New York Times printed a story that shows NBA fandom by ZIP Code, according to Facebook likes. You would think that, being between Chicago and Oklahoma City, with no team in St. Louis, the Kansas City area would be divided between Bulls and Thunder fans. Instead, the distance is so great (509 miles from Sprint Center to United Center, 349 miles to whatever OKC's arena is called now, and 475 miles to Indiana's Bankers Life Fieldhouse), that they divide up their fandom among the "cool" teams: The Bulls, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat. (As yet, there is no hockey version.)

The closest NHL team to Kansas City is the St. Louis Blues, 249 miles away. The Kansas City metropolitan area's population would rank it 24th in the NBA, and 23rd in the NHL.

* Children's Mercy Park‎. The new home of Major League Soccer's Sporting Kansas City, formerly the Kansas City Wizards, has also hosted 4 games by the U.S. soccer team. All were wins until July 13, 2015, the most recent USMNT contest there, a 1-1 draw with Panama in the Group Stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. It hosted the 2013 MLS Cup Final, which SKC won.

It is across the State Line in Kansas City, Kansas. Seating 18,467, it is at State Aveune & France Family Drive, with the ballpark for the independent baseball team the Kansas City T-Bones, the Kansas Speedway racetrack, and the Legends Shopping Mall all adjacent. Number 57 bus, transferring to Number 101 bus.

* Museums. Kansas City has 2 prominent art museums. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is K.C.'s "Metropolitan Museum of Art," 3 miles north of downtown, at 4525 Oak Street, in Southmoreland Park. And their "Museum of Modern Art" is the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, 2 blocks away, at 4420 Warwick Boulevard at 45th Street. Both can be reached by the Number 57 bus.

Kansas City is still, in a way, Harry Truman's town. The 33rd President, serving from April 12, 1945 to January 20, 1953, was born in nearby Lamar, and grew up in nearby Independence. He opened his Presidential Library and Museum in 1957, and frequently hosted events there until a household accident in 1964 pretty much ended his public life.

Upon his death in 1972, he was buried in the Library’s courtyard; his wife Bess, born Elizabeth Wallace, followed him in 1982, at age 97, to date the oldest former First Lady; and their only child, Margaret Truman Daniel, was laid to rest there in 2008. Currently, the Library is run by his only grandchild, Clifton Truman Daniel.

500 West U.S. Highway 24, Independence. Number 24X bus to Osage & White Oak Streets, and then 4 blocks north on Osage and 3 blocks west on Route 24. The Truman Home – actually the Wallace House, as Bess’ family always owned it – is nearby at 219 N. Delaware Street. Same bus.

Just west of the Crown Center is the Liberty Memorial, including the National World War I Museum, honoring the 1914-18 conflict that was then frequently called "The Great War" (accurate) and "The War to End All Wars" (not accurate, as it turned out). 100 West 26th Street.

There aren't a whole lot of tall buildings: One Kansas City Place, at 1200 Main Street, is the tallest in the State, at 624 feet, but only one other building is over 500 feet. The Kansas City Power & Light Building, at 1330 Baltimore Street, and the twin-towered 909 Walnut were built in the early 1930s and are the city's tallest classic buildings.

If you want to copy the song "Kansas City," and be "standing on the corner, 12th Street and Vine," you're out of luck: Due to urban renewal, it no longer exists. There is, however, a park with a plaque roughly where it was.

There haven't been many TV shows set in Kansas City. By far the most notable was Malcolm & Eddie, the 1996-2000 UPN sitcom that starred Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Eddie Griffin (a KCMO native). But the show was taped in Los Angeles and did no location shots, so if you're a fan of that show, there's nothing in Kansas City to show you.

*

Kansas City is a great American city, almost literally in the center of this great country. And its citizens, and the people who come from hundreds of miles around to see the Royals and Chiefs, love their sports. It's well worth saving up to check it out.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Two of Three In Anaheim, Too Little, Too Late?

"The Yankees don't pay me to win every day. Just two out of every three." -- Casey Stengel

In this season, the Yankees winning 2 out of 3 the rest of the way may not be enough, thanks to Brian Cashman's transactions and Joe Girardi's idiotic bullpen management.

This past Friday night, the Yankees began a series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

If both the team and the stadium are "of Anaheim," which isn't in Los Angeles County, let alone in the City of Los Angeles, does owner Arte Moreno think people in Southern California are stupid, or is he stupid? I don't think he is.

Jered Weaver, brother of Jeff whose gopher ball cost us the 2003 World Series (yes, I'm still bitter), started for the Angels, and Masahiro Tanaka for us. Ronald Torreyes hit his 1st major league home run, and came within a triple of hitting for the cycle. Jacoby Ellsbury hit his 5th home run of the season, and Brian McCann his 16th.

For once, a Yankee starter got much more than he needed. For once, Girardi trusted a Yankee starter to go all the way into the 8th inning. Tanaka was brilliant: No runs, no walks, 5 hits, 9 strikeouts. Ace.

Yankees 7, Angels 0. WP: Tanaka (10-4). No save. LP: Jered Weaver (8-11).

*

On Saturday, the Yankees got off to a fast start, with 3 runs in the top of the 1st inning. Gary Sanchez hit a home run, his 6th already. (See? The Yankees had prospects, and a lot closer to reaching the majors than the guys Cashman gutted the bullpen for.) They tacked 2 more runs on in in the 6th.

That was plenty of support for rookie pitcher Luis Cessa (another prospect much closer to the majors than anybody Cashman traded for last month). He pitched 6 innings, 3 hits, no walks, 5 strikeouts. Tyler Clippard pitched a perfect 7th, and Tommy Layne a scoreless 8th. Dellin Betances blew the shutout in the 9th, but only allowed the 1 run.

Yankees 5, Angels 1. WP: Cessa (3-0). No save. LP: Ricky Nolasco (4-11).

*

So the Yankees went into Sunday with a chance at a road sweep. It didn't happen. Don't blame the pitching: Chad Green went 6 innings, and allowed just 1 run, on 5 hits, 1 walk and 5 strikeouts; and the much-maligned (with some reason) Anthony Swarzak pitched a perfect 7th.

Adam Warren pitched the 8th. He allowed a run. It shouldn't have mattered. But since the Yankees were trailing 1-0, any further runs would have been devastating. I warned you all that Warren was a bad pickup. He pitched to 1 batter on Friday night, and got him out; but on Sunday afternoon, Girardi trusted him, and...

Well, it really didn't matter, because Jhoulys Chacin kept them off the board, and 3 relievers pitched 3 1/3rd innings of hitless ball, with 2 walks. Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks each got 2 hits, and Didi Gregorius 1, all singles; Mark Teixeira had a double; and Sanchez, McCann and Brett Gardner drew a walk apiece. That was it. The kind of game the Yankees were losing in April and May.


Angels 2, Yankees 0. WP: Chacin (4-8). SV: Fernando Salas (4). LP: Green (2-3).

*

So here's where we stand, with 6 weeks, 39 games, to go in the regular season. In the American League Eastern Division:

Toronto Blue Jays, 70-54
Boston Red Sox, 69-54, half a game behind (even in the loss column)
Baltimore Orioles, 67-56, 2 1/2 back (2)
NEW YORK YANKEES, 63-60, 6 1/2 (6)
Tampa Bay Rays, 52-70, 17 (16)

In the Wild Card race:

Boston Red Sox, 69-54, currently holds the 1st Wild Card spot
Baltimore Orioles, 67-56, currently holds the 2nd Wild Card spot
Seattle Mariners, 66-57, 1 game back (1 in the loss column)
Detroit Tigers, 65-59, 2 1/2 (3)
Houston Astros, 64-60, 3 1/2 (4)
Kansas City Royals, 64-60, 3 1/2 (4)
NEW YORK YANKEES, 63-60, 4 (4)
Chicago White Sox, 59-64, 8 (8)

The fact that there's 4 teams between the Yankees and the Wild Card spots is irrelevant. Only the number of games behind matters.

As I've said, gaining 1 game per week should not be beyond a good team, so you still have a legitimate shot if the number of weeks remaining is greater than the number of games behind. The Yankees are 6 1/2 back, 6 in the loss column, of the Division lead with 6 weeks to play.

To borrow an expression from college basketball's NCAA Tournament, they are on the bubble. Taking 2 of 3 in Anaheim is a good thing, despite the Angels not currently being very good, especially since the Yankees have had such trouble there since that franchise's founding in 1961. But is such a 2 of 3 too little, too late?

Tonight, the Yankees begin a series in Seattle against the Mariners, including their former star 2nd baseman Robinson Cano, former Yankee pitcher Vidal Nuno, pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.; and bullpen coach Mike "Great Schools In Denver" Hampton. The M's are closer to making the Playoffs than they have been since 2001, the closest they've been since they've had "King" Felix Hernandez. Here are the projected pitching matchups:

* Tonight, 10:10 PM (7:10 local time): Michael Pineda vs. Cody Martin.

* Tomorrow, 10:10 PM: CC Sabathia vs. a starter to be determined.

* Wednesday, 3:40 PM: Tanaka vs. Hisashi Iwakuma.

Come on you Bombers! There's not much room for error left.

*

Days until The Arsenal play again: 5, this Saturday, at 10:00 AM U.S. Eastern Time, away to Hertfordshire club Watford. Arsenal's defense redeemed themselves on Saturday against Leicester City, but the offense fell back: 0-0. So the top 2 teams in the League from last season each start this season with a loss and a draw. And the Wenger Out Brigade (WOBs) are as loud and a stupid as ever.

Days until the New York Red Bulls play again: 6, Sunday afternoon at 2:30, home to the New England Revolution. Yesterday, they blew a 2-0 2nd half lead away to their most hated opponent, D.C. United, holding on for a 2-2 draw. (I've tried to tell Red Bull fans: A New York Tri-State Area's arch-rival is always either New England, or Philadelphia, or another Tri-State Area team -- not Washington, D.C. But they don't listen to me.)

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": The same 6. The next game against D.C. United is on Sunday, September 11, at Red Bull Arena. The next game against the Philadelphia Union is on Saturday night, October 1, at Red Bull Arena. There are no further games this regular season against New York City FC, although Metro could face them in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Days until the U.S. national soccer team plays again: 11, on Friday, September 2, in a CONCACAF Qualifying Match for the 2018 World Cup, away to St. Vincent & the Grenadines. Under 2 weeks. They should win, especially since they took on the best that Latin America had to offer in the Copa America, and reached the Semifinals before being knocked out by Argentina. This will be followed 4 days later by another Qualifier, against Trinidad & Tobago, at EverBank Field, home of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars.

Days until Rutgers University plays football again: 12, on Saturday, September 3, away to the University of Washington, in Seattle. Under 2 weeks.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 18, on Friday, September 9, away to Sayreville, a.k.a. Sewerville. Hell of a place to begin the season, even if the opposition wasn't good -- and, since 1990, they usually have been.


Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series: 24 on Thursday, September 15, at 7:00 PM, at Fenway Park. A little over 3 weeks. It could be pivotal in the AL East race, more so in the AL Wild Card race.

Days until the New Jersey Devils play again: 52, on Thursday night, October 13, away to the Florida Panthers in the Miami suburb of Sunrise. A litle over 7 weeks. The home opener is 5 days later, on Tuesday night, October 18, against the Anaheim Ducks.

Days until the 2016 Presidential election: 78, on Tuesday, November 8. That's 11 weeks. Make sure you are registered to vote, and then make sure you vote!

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving game: 94, on Thursday morning, November 24, at the purple shit pit on Route 9. About 3 months.

Days until the New Jersey Devils play another local rival: 111. Their 1st game this season with the New York Rangers will be on Sunday night, December 11, at Madison Square Garden. Their 1st game this season with the Philadelphia Flyers will be on Thursday night, December 22, at the Prudential Center. By a quirk in the schedule, the New York Islanders, a team they usually play several times a season, don't show up on the slate until Saturday night, February 18, 2017, at the Prudential Center.

Days until The Contract From Hell runs out, and the Yankees no longer have to pay Alex Rodriguez any money: 496, on December 31, 2017. A little over 16 months.


Days until the next Winter Olympics begins in Pyeongchang, Korea: 536, on February 9, 2018. Under 18 months.

Days until the next World Cup kicks off in Russia: 661, on June 14, 2018. Under 2 years, or under 22 months. The U.S. team will probably qualify for it, but with Jurgen Klinsmann as manager, particularly in competitive matches such as World Cup Qualifiers, rather than in friendlies, you never know.

Days until the Baseball Hall of Fame vote is announced, electing Mariano Rivera: January 9, 2019. A little under 2 1/2 years, a little over 29 months.

Days until the Baseball Hall of Fame vote is announced, electing Derek Jeter: January 8, 2020. A little under 3 1/2 years, a little over 41 months.

Days until the next Summer Olympics begins in Tokyo, Japan: 1,432, on July 24, 2020. Under 4 years, or 48 months.

The Seattle Pilots: Where Are They Now?

Tonight, the Yankees begin a series in Seattle against the Mariners, who've been playing since 1977.

Before the Mariners, there was the Seattle Pilots, an expansion team from 1969. They failed on the field, finishing 67-95, 6th and last place in the newly-formed American League Western Division. No surprise there, as a 1st-year expansion team.

But they also failed financially, as owners Max and Dewey Soriano didn't have the cash necessary to keep them going. On April 1, 1970, just before the start of a new season, Bud Selig bought them, and moved them to his hometown, where they became the Milwaukee Brewers.

Today, the Pilots are best known for being the team that pitcher Jim Bouton -- who won 39 games in 1963 and '64 for the Yankees, plus 2 more in the '64 World Series -- was on in 1969, thanks to his book Ball Four, a diary of that season.

In late August, he was traded to the Houston Astros, and was amazed at how much more the Astros had their act in gear than did the Pilots. Because of how badly the Pilot organization was run, how silly the players acted, and the fact that the team not only no longer exists in that form but stopped doing so after just 1 season, Ball Four seems more like a novel than a true story.

What happened to the 1969 Seattle Pilots?

Jim Bouton, a.k.a. Bulldog, a.k.a. Super Knuck, a.k.a. Ass Eyes, (and, many years later, a.k.a. Gyro Gearloose), pitcher. He still says his falling apart with the Houston Astros in 1970 had to do with injuries, not with the stress over the reaction to the book.

Became a sportscaster, then made a comeback that culminated in reaching the majors again, with the 1978 Atlanta Braves. Played a killer in a film adaptation of Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye, and created and starred in the ill-fated 1976 CBS sitcom version of Ball Four. Wrote more books, and has promoted "vintage baseball," played by old-time rules. Born March 8, 1939, now 77 years old.

Marvin Milkes, general manager. He had previously worked in the organizations of the St. Louis Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles and Chicago Cubs. As assistant general manager of the California Angels, he was entrusted with running its Triple-A franchise, the Seattle Angels, whom the Pilots replaced. Since he was already there, the Pilots asked him to be their 1st GM.

But he was cheap, and that hurt the Pilots as much as anything else. He wasn't cheap because the Soriano brothers didn't have the money (although they didn't). He was cheap because he was of the old school of GM thought: Have money and have players, but do not let them mix.

Selig permitted Milkes to stay on in 1970, the 1st year in Milwaukee, at the end of which he tendered his resignation. He went into other sports, as the 1st GM of the World Hockey Association's New York Raiders, who had to move after just 1 season. He became the GM of the North American Soccer League's Los Angeles Aztecs in 1981, but they folded at the end of the season.

Shortly thereafter, on January 31, 1982, Milkes died of a heart attack. He was 58 years old, and would, almost certainly, have been forgotten if not for Ball Four. It's ironic: To Milkes, Bouton was a tool to make money, and it failed; to Bouton, Milkes became a way to make money after leaving the Pilots, and it worked.

Joe Schultz, manager. The son of 1910s and '20s outfielder Joe Schultz, was a catcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Browns from 1939 to 1948. Had been a coach on the St. Louis Cardinals' Pennant-winners of 1964, '67 and '68, and a "good company man" for Cards owner and Anheuser-Busch baron Gussie Busch. Hence his frequent pushing of Gussie's product by exhorting his players to "Zitz 'em, and then go pound that ol' Budweiser" -- even though he no longer worked for Gussie.

Fired after that 1969 season, coached with the Kansas City Royals in 1970, and for the Detroit Tigers from 1971 to 1976, serving as interim manager in 1973 after Billy Martin was fired. Returned to St. Louis, where he no doubt pounded some more Bud. Died on January 10, 1996, at the age of 77.

Sal Maglie, a.k.a. Sal the Barber, a.k.a. the Screaming Skull, pitching coach. The legendary specialist in curveballs and brushbacks for the 1951 and '54 Pennant-winning New York Giants was never involved in baseball again after being fired from the Pilots. Died on December 28, 1992, at 75. The minor-league ballpark in his hometown of Niagara Falls, New York was named Sal Maglie Stadium.

Frank Crosetti, a.k.a. the Crow, 1st base coach. An All-Star shortstop for the Yankees in the 1930s and early '40s, was their 3rd base coach from 1947 to 1968. This made him the winner of more World Series rings in a major league uniform than anyone, ever: 17. But was not popular among the Pilots.

Coached with the Minnesota Twins in 1970 and '71, then returned to Stockton, California, and was never involved in baseball again. Always refused invitations to come to major league games, including old-timers' ceremonies. Died on February 11, 2002, at 91.

Sebastian "Sibby" Sisti, coach. An infielder for the Braves in Boston and Milwaukee, from 1939 to 1954, and later a coach and a manager in their minor-league system. His year with the Pilots was his only one after retiring as a player.

His only active involvement with baseball after the Pilots was to serve as a consultant on the movie version of The Natural, which was filmed in his hometown of Buffalo in 1983. He was hired because they needed someone who knew what it was like to play Major League Baseball during the 1930s, and he was there. He played the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the climactic playoff game. Died on April 24, 2006, at 85.

Ron Plaza, coach. The native of Clifton, New Jersey had a good bat that got him as high as Triple-A, but a bad glove kept him out of the majors. After leaving the Pilots, he was hired by the Cincinnati Reds organization -- ironic, since the manager they'd just fired, Dave Bristol, was hired to replace Schultz as manager of the Pilots/Brewers. Became their 3rd base coach in 1978, being moved to 1st base coach in 1979, holding the post until 1983. His last baseball job was as a coach with the 1986 Oakland Athletics. Died on April 15, 2012, at 77.

Eddie O'Brien, coach. The native of South Amboy, New Jersey, along with his twin brother Johnny, starred in baseball, football and basketball for that city's St. Mary's, later Cardinal McCarrick, High School, which closed in 2015.

"The O'Brien Twins" went to Seattle University on basketball scholarships, and became nationally famous. On January 21, 1952, this small Catholic school stunned hoops observers by beating the Harlem Globetrotters. They were both drafted by the Milwaukee Hawks (the team now in Atlanta) in 1953, but, at the time, the NBA was not taken seriously, and they played baseball instead.

They were a double play combination: Eddie was a shortstop, Johnny a 2nd baseman. They both also pitched in the major leagues. Both mostly played for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1953 to 1959. They are the only twins to play for the same MLB team in the same game, and 1 of only 4 brotherly double-play combinations, along with Wes and Granny Hamner of the '45 Phils, Frank and Milt Bolling of the '58 Tigers, and Cal and Billy Ripken of the '80s Orioles.

And being released by the Milwaukee Braves in 1959, Johnny, who is still alive, was never involved with baseball again. Eddie stayed in the game, and was on the Pilots' coaching staff, probably to trade on his local stardom as a basketball star. Fired along with the rest of them before the move to Milwaukee, he stayed in Seattle, and was never involved in professional baseball again. Died on February 21, 2014, at 83.

Miguel Fuentes, pitcher. Appeared in 8 major league games, all with the Pilots, between September 1 and October 2, 1969 -- including throwing the last pitch for the team in the last game the Pilots ever played. It was also the last major league game he ever played, as he was the 1st Pilot to die: While playing in winter ball in his native Puerto Rico, he was shot outside a bar on January 29, 1970. He was only 23.

Ray Oyler, a.k.a. Oil Can, shortstop. Served in the U.S. Marine Corps before he debuted with the Detroit Tigers in 1965. Nearly helped them win the American League Pennant in Detroit's riot year of 1967. In 1968, he helped the Tigers win the World Series. Actually, "helped" may be too strong a word: A good fielder but a notoriously bad hitter, he literally went 0-for-August, leading manager Mayo Smith to move Mickey Stanley from right field to shortstop when regular right fielder Al Kaline returned from injury.

Left off the protected list in the expansion draft, became the Pilots' shortstop, but his hitting never got better. He played the 1970 season with the A's and Angels, and that was it. Yet he stayed in Seattle, managing a bowling alley, before his heavy drinking gave him a fatal heart attack. Died January 26, 1981, at 42.

George Brunet, a.k.a. Lefty, a.k.a. Red (he may have been a political liberal, like Bouton), pitcher. Debuted with the Kansas City Athletics in 1956, and was an original Houston Astro (Colt .45) in 1962. Traded in mid-1969 from the California Angels to the Pilots, prompting Bouton to write, "He'll fit right in on this ballclub. He's crazy." Ended his major league career with the 1971 St. Louis Cardinals.

Played for 9 different franchises -- 6 of whom are no longer using the names they were using when he was with them: The Kansas City Athletics, the Milwaukee Braves, the Houston Colt .45's, the Los Angeles Angels (who aren't the California Angels anymore, either), the Seattle Pilots and the Washington Senators.

But he was far from done: He pitched in the Mexican League from 1972 to 1989, at age 54 (they nicknamed him El Viejo, "the Old One"), giving him a record 36 seasons in organized baseball. He pitched a no-hitter in 1978, and set the Mexican League record for career shutouts with 55. Died October 25, 1991, at 56. Unknown if he was buried with undershorts on.

Gene Brabender, a.k.a. Bender, a.k.a. Lurch, pitcher. With a name like "Bra-bender," there had to be considerable discussion of the perception of his private life. A rookie with the 1966 World Champion Baltimore Orioles, he led the '69 Pilots with 13 wins. But the 1st season in Milwaukee would be the last season of his major league career. Died on December 27, 1996, at 55.

Steve Barber, pitcher. A 2-time All-Star who also helped the Orioles win the 1966 World Series, he hurt his arm, spent the 1967 and '68 seasons with the Yankees, and then, with the '69 Pilots, complained that, "My arm isn't sore, it's just a little stiff." He stayed in the majors through 1974, but was never again the pitcher he was in '66. He moved to Las Vegas and became a school bus driver. Died on February 4, 2007, at 68.

Jim Pagliaroni, a.k.a. Pag, catcher. Aside from Ball Four, is best known as the on-deck hitter who shook Ted Williams' hand as the Splendid Splinter came home after hitting a home run in his last at-bat for the 1960 Boston Red Sox. Also the Sox catcher who called the fastball for Tracy Stallard that Roger Maris hit for his record-breaking home run a year later.

Never played in the majors again after the '69 Pilots. Later worked for a food distribution company, and raised money for research into ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). Died on April 3, 2010, at 72.

Jerry Stephenson, pitcher. The son of 1940s catcher Joe Stephenson, was a top prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization, until hurting his elbow in 1964, while pitching for the Pilots' Triple-A predecessors, the Seattle Rainiers. A member of the 1967 "Impossible Dream" Pennant-winning Boston Red Sox, he was left unprotected in the expansion draft.

Was traded to the Dodgers in 1970, ending his career with them, but scouted for them from 1974 to 1994, and for the Red Sox from 1995 to 2009, before being stricken with the cancer that would claim his life on June 6, 2010, at 66. His son Brian Stephenson pitched in the minors, and now works in the Dodger organization.

José Vidal, a.k.a. Papito, outfield. The Dominican played for the Cleveland Indians in 1966, '67 and '68, and the Pilots in '69, a total of 88 major league games. Died on January 11, 2011, at 70.

Greg Goossen, a.k.a. Goose, catcher. A baseball, football and basketball star in high school outside Los Angeles, he signed with his hometown Dodgers, but before he could reach the majors, he was waived, and the Mets claimed him. Manager Casey Stengel said, "I got a kid, Greg Goossen, he's 19 years old, and in 10 years, he's got a chance to be 29."

Talk about bad luck: He could have been a September callup with the Dodgers, 1965 World Champions. Instead, he went to the Mets, and was left unprotected in the 1968-69 expansion draft, and missed out on their "Miracle." Instead, he got stuck with the Pilots, moved with them to Milwaukee, was traded to the Washington Senators in 1970, and that was it. In 1975, when he was 29, he was 5 years past his last big-league game.

He became a boxing trainer with his brothers, and helped make Michael Nunn the Middleweight Champion of the World. In 1988, Gene Hackman made the boxing film Split Decisions, and hired Goossen as his stand-in for all his films thereafter. Died on February 26, 2011, at 65, so he had no chance to be 66.

Merritt Ranew, catcher. Like Brunet, was an original Houston Astro (Colt .45) in 1962. Like Pagliaroni, he never played in the majors again after the '69 Pilots. Died on August 18, 2011, at 73.

Don Mincher, a.k.a. Minch, 1st base. Made 2 moves in his career, but Seattle to Milwaukee was not one of them. The Washington Senators were both. Debuted with the old Senators in 1960, moved with them to become the Minnesota Twins in 1961, and was a member of their 1965 Pennant winners. Traded to the California Angels in 1967, and was an All-Star that year. Left unprotected in the expansion draft, the Pilots took him, and he was an All-Star again, and was the only Pilot to play in the All-Star Game.

Traded to the Oakland Athletics before the 1970 season, was traded to the new Senators in 1971, and made the move with them to become the Texas Rangers the next year. Traded back to the A's, won the World Series with them in 1972, and retired with an even 200 home runs.

Returned to his hometown of Huntsville, Alabama, and served as general manager of the Class AA Huntsville Stars from 1985 to 2001, and was a part-owner from 1994 until his death on March 4, 2012, at 73.

Fred Talbot, a.k.a. Perch, pitcher. Pitched for the Athletics in both Kansas City and Oakland, but was not with them at the time of the move. Was a Yankee teammate of Bouton's in 1966 and '67. Died on January 11, 2013, at 71.

Billy Williams, right field. Not to be confused with the Chicago Cubs Hall-of-Famer of the same name, racism may have prevented him from getting his big chance until he was 37. Even then, he appeared in just 4 major league games, all for the Pilots in August 1969. Later owned a clothing store in Oakland, and coached for the Cleveland Indians and the minor-league Sioux Falls Canaries. Died on June 11, 2013, at 80.

Mike Hegan, 1st base. The son of Jim Hegan, an All-Star catcher with the Cleveland Indians, he debuted with the Yankees in 1964, and appeared in 3 games of that year's World Series. Like Bouton, was curtailed by injuries and traded by the Yankees and ended up with the Pilots. Unlike Bouton, was an All-Star in 1969 -- due to his fielding, as he once held the AL record for most consecutive errorless games by a 1st baseman, 187, and not for his hitting -- but was injured and unable to play in the All-Star Game.

Made the move to Milwaukee in 1970. Traded to Oakland in 1971, won a World Series ring with the A's in 1972, along with Mincher,  He was traded back to the Yankees in 1973, and back to the Brewers in 1974, staying with them until 1977, making him the last Pilot to be on the Brewers (although not the last to be so continuously).

Broadcast for the Brewers from 1978 to 1988, and then for the Indians until 2011. Heart trouble forced him to retire, and he died while on vacation at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina on Christmas Day, December 25, 2013, at 71.

Tomás Gustavo Gil Guillén, a.k.a. Gus Gil, 2nd base. Debuted with the Cleveland Indians in 1967, and played with the Pilots/Brewers from 1969 to 1971. A fine fielder but a poor hitter, he later played and managed in Venezuela, and is a member of that country's Baseball Hall of Fame. Died on December 8, 2015, at 76.

Jerry McNertney, a.k.a. McNert, catcher. Moved with the Pilots to Milwaukee, closed his career with the 1973 Pittsburgh Pirates, and became a coach in the Yankees' and Boston Red Sox' organizations in the 1980s. Born August 7, 1936, now 80 years old, making him the oldest surviving Seattle Pilot.

Gary Bell, a.k.a. Ding-Dong Bell, pitcher. Bouton's roommate in early 1969, he'd been a 3-time All-Star, and was part of the Boston Red Sox' 1967 "Impossible Dream" Pennant. But he was also part of some not-so-good teams, including the early 1960s Cleveland Indians and the Pilots. Responsible for the advice, "Smoke 'em inside."

Traded to the Chicago White Sox for Bob Locker in mid-season, and his career ended with them at the end of the season. Returned to his native San Antonio. Born November 17, 1936, now 79 years old.

Diego Seguí, pitcher. A Cuban with a forkball, debuted with the Kansas City Athletics in 1962, was sent to the Washington Senators in 1966, was returned to the A's in 1967, and made the move to Oakland with them. Drafted by the Pilots in 1969, and was one of the few bright lights for the team.

Traded back to the A's, in 1970 he led the AL in ERA. Pitched for them in the 1971 ALCS, but was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals before he could be a part of the Oakland dynasty. Pitched for the Pennant-winning Boston Red Sox of 1975. Closed his career with another expansion team, the Seattle Mariners, in 1977 -- making him the only player to play for both of Seattle's MLB teams. Naturally, he was nicknamed the Ancient Mariner. (He turned 40 that season.) Was 92-111 for his career.

Pitched in Mexico in 1978 (no word on whether he pitched against George Brunet and his lack of underwear), and in Venezuela until 1983. Born August 17, 1937, just turned 79 years old. His son, David Seguí, was a 1st baseman who spent 15 seasons in the major leagues.

Freddie Velázquez, a.k.a. Poor Devil, catcher. A 31-year-old rookie in 1969, he had spent 11 years in the minors before the Ball Four season. Only played in 1 other big-league season, with the Atlanta Braves in 1973. Born December 6, 1937, now 78 years old.

Bob Locker, pitcher. Played both baseball and basketball at Iowa State University, and got a geology degree there. A member of the Chicago White Sox team that came within a game and a half of the Pennant in 1967, was traded to the Pilots in mid-1969 for Bouton's roommate, Gary Bell. Despite this, he and Bouton seemed to get along well.

A sinkerballer who pitched entirely in relief in his career, made the move to Milwaukee, then the Brewers traded him in mid-1970 to the Oakland Athletics, and was a member of their 1972 World Champions. They then traded him to the Chicago Cubs, with whom he wrapped things up in 1975. Now runs ThanksMarvin.com, a tribute website for the late players' union leader Marvin Miller. Born March 15, 1938, now 78 years old.

Rich Rollins, 3rd base. Debuted in 1961, making him an original Minnesota Twin. Was an All-Star in 1962, and a Pennant winner in 1965 along with Mincher, but also made the last out in the 1967 season finale that gave the Boston Red Sox the Pennant.

Left unprotected in the expansion draft, played in Seattle in 1969 and Milwaukee and Cleveland in 1970, but his hitting fizzled, and he retired. Stayed in the Cleveland area, and lives in Akron. Born April 16, 1938, now 78 years old.

Hilario "Sandy" Valdespino, left field. A rookie with the Pennant-winning 1965 Minnesota Twins, the Cuban was only briefly a teammate of Bouton's -- on the Astros, as he and Danny Walton were traded to the Pilots for Tommy Davis. Ended his major league career with the 1971 Kansas City Royals, but played several more years in Mexico and Venezuela. Born January 14, 1939, now 77 years old.

Tommy Davis, left field. A Brooklyn native, was signed by the Dodgers but didn't reach them until after they moved to Los Angeles. Won the National League batting title in 1962 and '63, but broke his ankle in a 1965 game and was never the same. Won World Series rings with the Dodgers in 1959, '63 and '65 and another Pennant in '66.

But became famous for frequently getting traded, including from Seattle to Houston later in '69, rejoining Bouton. Also reached the postseason with the 1971 A's, the '73 and '74 Orioles and the '76 Kansas City Royals. Born March 21, 1939, now 77 years old.

Bob Meyer, pitcher. Reached the majors in 1964, but before the year was out, he'd played for 3 different teams: The Yankees, the Los Angeles Angels and the Kansas City Athletics. Did not return to the majors until 1969, and washed out with the Brewers in 1970. Born August 4, 1939, now 77 years old.

Horace Guy Womack, a.k.a. Dooley Womack, a.k.a. THE Dooley Womack, pitcher. Bouton's comments about him sounded pretty rough, but Womack was never a very good pitcher: By his own admission, "I won't overpower anybody." May have been better as a hitter: While his major league record was 19-18 with a 2.95 ERA, he had a .267 lifetime batting average. And, of course, while he was Bouton's teammate on the Yankees in 1966 and '67, in '69 he was traded for Bouton, so they weren't teammates on the Pilots or the Astros.

Pitched 1 more season, with the Oakland Athletics, and then went into various businesses, lasting longest in commercial flooring. Has built a long career as a coach in American Legion baseball. Born August 25, 1939, about to turn 77 years old.

John O'Donoghue, pitcher. An All-Star in 1965, because every team needed at least 1 and he was the best there was on the Kansas City Athletics that year. That was the highlight of his career. Managed to save 6 games for the Pilots, made the move to Milwaukee, and finished up with the 1971 Montreal Expos. Born October 7, 1939, now 76 years old. His son, also John O'Donoghue, pitched 11 games in the majors, all for the 1993 Baltimore Orioles.

Garry Roggenburk, a.k.a. Rogg, pitcher. He and Hegan were teammates at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland. Also a basketball player, winning the 1962 NIT with the University of Dayton, and was drafted by the San Francisco Warriors (as the Golden State franchise was then known). Debuted with the Minnesota Twins in 1963, and was a teammate of Mincher on the '65 Pennant winners. Traded to the Boston Red Sox in 1967, and was a teammate of Bell on the '67 Pennant winners. Traded to the Pilots in 1969, but that was it for his career.

Later served as a coach and a general manager in the Red Sox' minor-league system, and then went into real estate. Born April 16, 1940, now 76 years old.

Darrell Brandon, a.k.a. Bucky, pitcher. Like Bell, a member of the iconic '67 Red Sox. Went from the outhouse to nearly the penthouse in '69, as he was traded from the last-place Pilots to the eventual AL West winners, the Minnesota Twins. Later played for the Philadelphia Phillies, finishing in 1973. Born July 8, 1940, now 76 years old.

Jack Aker, pitcher: Traded to the Yankees, pitched for them until 1972. Career ended with the Mets (literally, not just figuratively) in 1974. Won a Pennant as a minor-league manager and became the Cleveland Indians' pitching coach. Since 1988, has run a baseball academy in Arizona, specializing in teaching Native American children. Born July 13, 1940, now 76 years old.

Tommy Harper, left field, although he played every position or the Pilots except pitcher, catcher and 1st base. Nearly won a Pennant with the Cincinnati Reds in 1964, and led the AL in stolen bases with the Pilots in 1969 and the Boston Red Sox, who picked him up from the Brewers, in 1973. Was usually the Pilots' leadoff hitter, and when they played their 1st game, against the California Angels in Seattle on April 7, 1969, he became the 1st-ever Pilots batter in a regular season game. Was given a Tommy Harper Day by the Pilots, and this was his acceptance speech, in full: "'Preciate it. Thanks."

Reached his only postseason with the 1975 Oakland Athletics, and closed his career with the 1976 Baltimore Orioles. Coached for the Red Sox from 1980 until being fired in spring training in 1985, and sued them for firing him due to complaining about a racist issue. He won, and later coached for the Montreal Expos, including in their spectacular but cut-short 1994 season, and was brought back to the Red Sox as coach from 2000 to 2002. The Sox made further amends by electing him to their team Hall of Fame. His acceptance speech on that occasion, if any, is unrecorded. Born October 14, 1940, now 75 years old.

John Kennedy, 3rd base. Like the President of the same name, was born on a May 29 (in his case, in 1941), and lived in Washington, D.C. in 1962 and '63 (also playing for the Senators in '64). Hit a home run in his 1st major league at-bat. Played with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1965, and received a World Series ring. Played with the Yankees in '67, moved with the Pilots to Milwaukee in '70, traded to Boston that year, and remained with the Red Sox until 1974. Still involved in baseball as a scout. Now 75 years old.

Gordon Lund, infielder. Played 3 games with the 1967 Cleveland Indians and 20 with the Pilots. That was it as a major leaguer. Later managed in the Chicago White Sox system, winning a Midwest League Pennant with the 1978 Appleton Foxes. Born February 23, 1941, now 75 years old.

Bill Edgerton, pitcher. Didn't quite move with the Athletics (appeared for them in Kansas City in 1966 and '67, but not in Oakland in '68) or the Brewers/Pilots (appeared for them in Seattle in '69, but not in Milwaukee in '70). The Pilots were his last big-league team. Born August 16, 1941, now 75 years old.

John Morris, pitcher. Had cups of coffee with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1966 and the Baltimore Orioles in '68, came up with the Pilots/Brewers in '69, stayed with them until '71, signed on with the San Francisco Giants, and remained with them through '74. Born August 23, 1941, will turn 75 tomorrow.

Jim Gosger, a.k.a Goz, outfielder. Debuted with the Boston Red Sox in 1963. Moved with the A's from Kansas City to Oakland in 1967-68. Taken by the Pilots in the expansion draft. Bouton made him famous forever by including the story of him sitting in the hotel room closet, spying on his roommate in bed with "local talent," who says, "Oh, baby, I've never done it that way before." Goz opened the closet door and said, "Yeah, surrre!" (That's how Bouton wrote it: 3 R's: "Surrre!") From that point on, it became a catchphrase among the Pilots: "I only had 3 beers last night." "Yeah, surrre!")

Traded to the Mets in midseason, so, unlike Goossen, he was a part of the 1969 Miracle. Traded to the Montreal Expos, but traded back to the Mets in 1973, and was a part of that Pennant, too, although he wasn't on the postseason roster either time. Last played in 1974, for the Mets. Born November 6, 1942, now 73 years old.

Larry Haney, catcher. A teammate of Brabender's and Barber's on the '66 World Champions, hit a home run in his 1st major league game -- off a future Pilot teammate, John O'Donoghue. Was traded in mid-'69 to Oakland. Was not on their World Series roster in 1972 or '73, but was in '74 and won a ring. Returned to the Pilots/Brewers franchise, and closed his career with them in 1978. Stayed in their organization as a coach through 1991, then in other capacities until retiring in 2006. Born November 19, 1942, now 73 years old.

Ron Clark, infielder. Went from the penthouse to the outhouse that season: From the Twins to the Pilots. He was traded to Oakland after the season, and was with the A's when they won the AL West in 1971... and then in 1972, before they could win the Pennant and the World Series, they traded him back to the Pilots/Brewers! He last appeared in the majors with the 1975 Philadelphia Phillies. Born January 14, 1943, now 73 years old.

Mike Marshall, pitcher. Debuted with the Detroit Tigers in 1967, nearly winning the Pennant, but was in the minors in their World Championship season of 1968. Left unprotected in the expansion draft, he was a teammate of Bouton with the Pilots for most of 1969, and with the Astros in early 1970. Traded to the Montreal Expos, led the National League in saves in 1973.

Earned a degree in kinesiology from Michigan State University, and believed that pitchers should pitch more, not less. In 1974, traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, he set a major league record that still stands with 106 pitching appearances. He led the NL in saves again, and became the 1st reliever in either League to win the Cy Young Award. Knew Dr. Frank Jobe and his tecniques, and recommended to his injured teammate Tommy John that he get the career-saving surgery that now bears John's name. Was an All-Star that year and the next.

His iconoclasm finally ticked off the conservative Dodgers to the point where they traded him to the Atlanta Braves in 1976. In 1979, with the Minnesota Twins, he led the AL in saves, and pitched in 90 games, so he holds the record for most games pitched in a season in each League. (Joe Girardi must hate his guts.) Closed his career with the Mets in 1981. His career record is an unflattering 97-112, but he had 188 saves at a time when that was a big number. Born January 15, 1943, now 73 years old.

Marty Pattin, a.k.a. Donald Duck, pitcher. Moved to Milwaukee with the team, and was an All-Star with the 1971 Brewers. Traded to Boston in 1972, when he took a no-hitter into the 9th inning against the Oakland Athletics, but, with 1 out, Reggie Jackson singled off him. Reached the postseason with the Kansas City Royals in 1976, '77, '78 and '80, including the 1980 World Series. He then retired, making him the last active former Seattle Pilot.

Became the pitching coach at the nearby University of Kansas. A bar called Marty's operates near the campus of his alma mater, Eastern Illinois University, although he has nothing to do with it beyond the name. Born April 6, 1943, now 73 years old.

John Donaldson, 2nd base. Moved with the A's in 1967-68, but not with the Pilots/Brewers in 1969-70, as the Pilots were the last team to play him in the majors. Born May 5, 1943, now 73 years old.

Steve Whitaker, right field. Debuted with the Yankees in the dark year of 1966, and briefly became a rookie sensation before petering out -- perhaps the original Kevin Maas or Shane Spencer. Taken by the Kansas City Royals in the 1969 expansion draft, but was traded along with Lou Piniella to the Pilots at the end of spring training. The Tacoma native was the only Seattle-area product to play for the Pilots. Traded to the San Francisco Giants before the 1970 season, and last played in the majors in May of that year. Born May 7, 1943, now 73 years old.

John Gelnar, pitcher. Had a couple of cups of coffee with the Pittsburgh Pirates before being taken by the Pilots in the expansion draft. Stayed with the Pilots/Brewers through 1971, and that was it for him. Born June 25, 1943, now 73 years old.

Dick Simpson, right field. Looked like he had a chance at AL Rookie of the Year with the 1964 Los Angeles Angels, but never looked so good again. Was traded to the defending World Champion St. Louis Cardinals in 1968, but was traded to the Astros before he could win another Pennant. Was traded to the Yankees for the Dooley Womack, then to the Pilots on May 19 for José Vidal. On June 9, he hit a leadoff home run off Mickey Lolich of the Detroit Tigers, but Lolich not only allowed no more runs, but struck out 16 Pilots. Was traded after the season to the San Francisco Giants, didn't make the team in 1970, and his major league career was over. Born July 28, 1943, now 73 years old.

Wayne Comer, outfield. Like Oyler, was a good-field-no-hit member of the Detroit team that nearly won the 1967 Pennant and went all the way in 1968, before being lost to Seattle in the expansion draft. In 1969, he led the AL in double plays participated in by an outfielder, and was 2nd in outfielders' assists.

Returned to the Tigers in 1972, and helped them win the AL East. Became the longtime baseball coach at a high school in the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia. Born February 3, 1944, now 72 years old.

Mike Ferraro, 3rd base. The former Yankee remained in the Brewers' system, and returned to the majors briefly in 1972. Managed in the Yankees' minor-league system, then was a coach at the major league level from 1979 to 1982, infamously waving home Willie Randolph during the 1980 ALCS when it would have been better to hold him up.

Managed the Indians in 1983 and the Royals in 1986, succeeding Dick Howser, under whom he had coached in both New York and Kansas City. Returned as a Yankee coach, and was the last man to wear Number 44 before it was retired for Reggie Jackson. His most recent job in baseball has been as 3rd base coach for the Baltimore Orioles in 1993. Born August 18, 1944, now 71 years old.

Steve Hovley, right field. Called up in June, and called "Old Tennis Ball Head" because of his long hair, and "Orbie," short for "Orbit," because he seemed spacey to most players. Hit well, and the comments about his hair stopped. Roomed with Bouton, and got on famously with him, for nearly 2 months, until Bouton's trade.

In the Brewers' 1st game in Milwaukee, got 3 of their 4 hits in a 12-0 loss to the California Angels. Was soon traded to the Oakland Athletics, did not appear in the 1971 American League Championship Series, and was traded to the Kansas City Royals, where he played until 1973. Became a plumber, and claims to have not really understood why Ball Four had, or should have, made him famous. Born December 18, 1944, now 71 years old.

Dick Bates, pitcher. Made his only big-league appearance with the Pilots on April 27, 1969, pitching an inning and 2/3rds and allowing 5 runs. Now runs a country club in the Phoenix area. Born October 7, 1945, now 70 years old.

Charles Edward Lockwood Jr., a.k.a. Skip Lockwood, pitcher. Attended Boston's Catholic Memorial High School, starring in baseball and track, and still holds the school record for the 100-meter dash that he set in 1964. Came up for a cup of coffee as a 3rd baseman with the Kansas City Athletics in 1965, but couldn't hit major league pitching. Converted to a pitcher, didn't appear in the majors again until the 1969 Pilots. The last continuously remaining Pilot with the Brewers, traded to the California Angels just before Opening Day in 1974.

Became a decent reliever, and one of the few bright spots for the "Grant's Tomb" Mets of the late 1970s, closing his career in 1980 with his hometown Boston Red Sox. Afterward, went to MIT and got an engineering degree. Also accomplished at that classic New England sport, candlepin bowling. Born August 17, 1946, now 70 years old.

Dick Baney, pitcher. Spent the 1970 through '73 seasons in the minor leagues before returning for a cup of coffee with the Reds in 1974. Worked for his father's contracting business, then went into real estate. Born November 1, 1946, now 69 years old.

Danny Walton, left field. Debuted with the Houston Astros in 1968, then got stuck in the minors until being sent to the Pilots as part of the Tommy Davis trade. Spent 1969, '70 and '71 with the Pilots/Brewers, before finishing the '71 season with the Yankees. Bounced around until 1980, and was never more than a journeyman. Born July 14, 1947, now 69 years old.

Fred Stanley, a.k.a. Chicken, shortstop. A September callup for the Pilots, made the move to Milwaukee, and bounced around before coming to the Yankees in 1973. A reserve shortstop on their 1976 Pennant winners and 1977 and 1978 World Champions, he finished the Bucky Dent Game at 2nd base. A decent fielder, but had a career batting average of .216. (Did Oyler teach him how to play shortstop and how to hit?)

Closed his career with the Oakland Athletics in 1982, making him the last active former Seattle Pilot. Worked many years in the San Francisco Giants' minor-league system, winning a Class A Northwest League Pennant with the 2001 Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. Is now the Giants' Director of Player Development, meaning he's won more World Series rings with the Giants (3) than he did with the Yankees (2). Born August 13, 1947, now 69 years old.

Gary Timberlake, pitcher. A member of the Yankees' minor-league system before being taken in the 1968 expansion draft, his entire major league career consisted of 2 appearances for the Pilots in June 1969. Born August 9, 1948, now 68 years old, the youngest Seattle Pilot.

So that's 53 players, 38 of whom are still alive, 47 years after the one and only season. And 15 who have since died, along with GM Marvin Milkes, manager Joe Schultz, and all his coaches. As Joe himself would say, "Ah, shitfuck."

Bouton began the book by saying, "I'm 30 years old, and I have these dreams." He ended with some very poignant words: "You spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball, and, in the end, it turns out, it was the other way around all the time." Baseball grips you.

Sounds like one of Yakov Smirnoff's Russian jokes. But Bouton was right.