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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Mike Schmidt

Eligible in 1995.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: February 11, 2007 at 09:12 PM | 112 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. GregD Posted: February 15, 2007 at 06:04 PM (#2298328)
I know this isn't the forum for a full-scale Josh Gibson discussion, and I have no doubt that there is a strong argument for Gibson as the greatest peak catcher of all time (and can accept that there is a stronger argument for him than for Bench or Berra on peak) but I do have one question:

How do you make a career argument for somebody who has a coma and tumor at 31 and dies at 35? I know he came back to play after his coma, but would he have likely have been effective against top competition in those years? Or are people assuming that he wouldn't have become a drug addict and therefore wouldn't have suffered a stroke and died at 35?

Catchers have short careers, no doubt, but it looks on first glance like Gibson's would be notably shorter than most of his competitors for the title.
   102. BTL: Lesser Primate, 4th Class Trainee Posted: February 17, 2007 at 12:37 AM (#2299175)
Was Schmidt the guy who hit a ball that would have been a homer but hit a speaker dangling from the roof of the stadium (must have been Astrodome)? My recollection from reading about this at the time was that no one thought anyone could hit a ball that high, Schmidt was in his home run trot, the ball hit the speaker and bounced down into the field of play, and he got a single or double. The speaker was moved up after that. If this was Schmidt, he hit at least one moonball.
   103. DavidFoss Posted: February 17, 2007 at 01:02 AM (#2299179)
Was Schmidt the guy who hit a ball that would have been a homer but hit a speaker dangling from the roof of the stadium (must have been Astrodome)? My recollection from reading about this at the time was that no one thought anyone could hit a ball that high, Schmidt was in his home run trot, the ball hit the speaker and bounced down into the field of play, and he got a single or double. The speaker was moved up after that. If this was Schmidt, he hit at least one moonball.

Many balls have hit a speaker in the Metrodome (which I believe has a lower roof than the Astrodome). Balls that hit a speaker are in play and an alert fielder can scramble and catch a ball that may have been a homer (or a fould ball out of play).

Dave Kingman famously hit a ball in the metrodome that never came down... it got stuck in a seam or something. That might be what you are thinking of since Kingman and Schmidt were contemporaries. Those balls are ground rule doubles. Wikipedia is telling me that Corey Koskie hit a ball there that never came down as well, but I don't remember that.
   104. GregD Posted: February 17, 2007 at 04:20 PM (#2299322)
June 10, 1974. Mike Schmidt hit a ball off of a public-address microphone 117 feet high and 329 feet from home plate. It is often referred to as the game's longest single (though some of Willie Stargell's late career blasts must have been close, since I'm sure even a swelling Dave Parker could have made 3rd on some Willie's "singles.") As far as I know, it is the only hit of its type at the Astrodome. I think Ray Guy hit the roof on a punt in the NFL All-Star game once.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/buildingbig/wonder/structure/astro.html (There are plenty of other links if you google Mike Schmidt Astrodome)
   105. BTL: Lesser Primate, 4th Class Trainee Posted: February 18, 2007 at 04:21 AM (#2299539)
Thanks GregD. Yeah, I found many short references to it also. My recollection was that the public address speaker was moved up an additional 30 feet after the hit, which would help explain why no one else ever hit it. But I can't find any confirmation.
   106. Paul Wendt Posted: February 18, 2007 at 05:44 AM (#2299560)
> but really began appreciating him when I moved to Philadelphia in 1986
> (his last MVP season). One of the smartest players I ever saw,
> not just as a hitter, but as a fielder and baserunner.
>
> Most Phillie fans I know thought just the opposite- they were wrong of course.

This is utterly false. Schmidt was voted the greatest Phillie ever in 1983 by a pretty wide margin, pretty heady accomplishment for a player in mid-career. Of course, you'd have to go back 90 years to find real competition (Delahanty or Hamilton), but no one in Philadelphia ever disputed his talent or value.


I believe the point was that most Phillies fans did not think of Schmidt as "one of the smartest players".

What I recall from the 1970s and the 1980 postseason is something different: he was criticized for thinking too much, which is not a smart thing to do. Since then, Schmidt may have contributed to any lingering reputation as a great talent without baseball smarts by crediting Pete Rose with teaching him how to win, and all that.

What I recall from the 1970s, too, is that Phillies fans, management, and "broadcasters" lionized Larry Bowa as the great fielder in the infield.

By 1983, Schmidt's overall talent was widely recognized. I suppose that he was no longer much criticized even locally for particular faults such as overthinking. Original postor's reference to the situation after 1986, when he moved to Philadelphia, is incredible to me. (But they boo Santa Claus, right?)

--
By the way, I didn't go to the Vet after summer of 1978. I did go to the first game and I did go to one game when "the King and his Court" was the featured attraction --after the Sports Illustrated feature, I guess. Yes, indeed, Eddie Feigner pitched one inning from second base.

--
Regarding "bump" (jingoist #100-101), I've never noticed the problem with articles number 100, 200, 300.
   107. Paul Wendt Posted: February 18, 2007 at 06:04 AM (#2299563)
> Oddly, Wagner wasn't a full-time shortstop until his late 20's. Does anyone know why this was?

As OCF says, Wagner didn't look the part of a shortstop. His size in modern equivalence would be like 6'1", 230, with an enormous chest and arms. No one today would look at a young athlete like that and think "shorstop!", so it really isn't surprising that no one did in the 1890s either.

Yet Wagner played through his mid-20s as an exceptionally adept supersub OF-1B-3B guy, and finally in 1901, when Wagner was 27, his manager Fred Clarke said, what the hell, and gave him a shot at SS. Clarke deserves immense credit for having a vision that practically no one else would have had, in any era, and thus creating probably the greatest SS in history.


Pittsburgh did acquire Wid Conroy offseason and make him the starting shortstop in 1902. Yet I am sure there is much truth in this: not only Wagner not fitting the part, but Clarke deserving credit, like Ripken and Weaver. Predecessor Bones Ely is listed at 6'1" 155! If so, he earned his nickname like Marty Slats Marion, and then some. Ely (debut 1884!, 671 games played 1896-1900) was one of the worst batters in the majors. What do our best sabermetrics say about his fielding?
   108. Paul Wendt Posted: February 18, 2007 at 06:20 AM (#2299564)
Ely was half of the tandem, with Rookie of the Year Jimmy Williams, that sent Tommy Leach back to the bench after the Louisville-Pittsburgh merger of rosters.
   109. Brent Posted: February 18, 2007 at 09:04 AM (#2299590)
How do you make a career argument for somebody who has a coma and tumor at 31 and dies at 35? I know he came back to play after his coma, but would he have likely have been effective against top competition in those years?

1) Gibson established a very high level of performance very early in his career. By his second season (age 19) he placed 2nd in the Negro Leagues in home runs, triples, and doubles and was selected by Holway as the all-star catcher. Chris Cobb's MLEs show 16 full seasons (he doesn't include Gibson's first seasons at age 18) and 1930 games at catcher, which places him quite high on the career lists.

2) After his coma and and the diagnosis of his tumor, Gibson continued to play at a very high level. Holway selects him as league MVP for three of his last four seasons and all-star catcher for all four. Chris's MLEs show a decline in playing time but continued very high rate statistics.

For more information, see the Josh Gibson thread.
   110. jingoist Posted: February 18, 2007 at 07:55 PM (#2299710)
A few days back some posters were discussing the "shape" of Schmidt's HRs, with several posters commenting that he hit fearsome line-drive type home runs.

First hand observations of the Babe's HRs, on the other hand were said to be titantic sky-high moon-shots into (and over) the stands.

When asked, of all the batters you faced, who hit the ball the furthest (furtherist?), Walter Johnson claimed it was Ruth.
"How do you figure that", came the reply from the inquisitive sportswriter
"Because when Ruth hit the ball, it got smaller faster", replied Johnson.

I don't ever recall people referring to Mike Schmidt's HRs as "cheapies" that limped into the stands. The few I witnessed firsthand were the genuine article.
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