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“When I was 14,” he recalled, “I worked a hundred-pound jackhammer in the streets for the city of Columbus, got paid maybe a dollar and a half an hour and was glad to get it.”
Bonds changed his approach and started taking a lot more pitches, and instead swung for the cove at pitches in his zone.
I think it would be fascinating if Barry ever decided to come clean (not on steroids, for legal reasons he can never do this)
Obviously the main reason for the change in Howard's stats in 1969 was that the strike zone was returned to its 1962 size. As Walt Davis noted, he didn't improve much relative to the league.
#23 I think we'll get a practical example with Lance Armstrong. There are now demands for him to repeat what he's said to Oprah (not aired yet) under oath.
I know some of the people Armstrong successfully sued are trying to get their money back. No idea how that'll work out. (Armstrong basically only went the legal route in Europe where slander and libel laws work very differently for celebs than in the US. Sued frequently and won a fair number of cases. And always passed the winnings on to charity. Making the point that it wasn't about the money.)
hold six or eight baseballs in one hand.
I keep several baseballs, with various team logos, on my desk. Let's see, now...one, two, three...three. Barely. (I'm so ashamed.)
For the record, the balls are from the Adirondack Lumberjacks, New Jersey Cardinals, and Sussex Skyhawks...all defunct. Hm.
Why is it obvious? The league BB rate increased from .081 to .095 in 1969 (a 17% bump).
Howard was as famous as anyone of the time, or any time, for hitting massively long home runs. If there was a game played on TV in the American League park, inevitably one of the announcers would show the place where Howard hit a ball ... onto the roof at Tiger Stadium or Comiskey Park or KC's Municipal Stadium.
it was both amazing and hilarious to see this clearly strong guy get manhandled by an older but clearly just as strong (maybe stronger) guy.
I just can't see how he's going to be forever hidebound to secrecy on the subject of juicing.
There are a couple seats painted white marking his bombs that are just impossibly far out there. Most home runs at RFK don't even hit the back wall.
*Hey, this worked for Ted Williams, didn't it?
I met Howard in 2009 when the SABR conference was in DC. He is an enormous man--he was listed at 6'7" when he played but people often said he was taller and I agree. He was in great shape--no retirement fat at all--but he was huge, especially his upper body. Huge hands, huge shoulders, huge arms. I would love to see him arm wrestle someone even today.
“Can you tell me how a guy who hit 44 home runs only got 48 walks?” asked Williams.
Maybe the hardest (or second hardest--Mantle had one, too) ball I ever saw hit that wasn't a homer was a line drive Frank Howard sent back through the middle. A real Clint Eastwood special--had it hit the pitcher flush in the face it would have "taken his head clean off."
There's a section in Whitey Ford's biography that tells an interesting complementary story to this. Apparently Whitey was always afraid of facing Howard because of some giant home run Howard hit off of him in spring training 1963 or whatever and figured that if Howard ever hit a liner back at him he was finished, so when he pitched to him he'd always throw then duck and cover. Then at some point he realized Howard was an incredibly anxious hitter and started pitching him in the dirt, never throwing a strike, and having much more success.
Williams was well-liked by his teammates
I have no idea whether Mantle was a jerk or not, but time and cognitive dissonance have a way of changing one's feeling about the past regardless of how they felt at the time. Besides, isn't what people mostly say about Mantle isn't so much that he was a jerk but that he was a famous guy with a massive drinking problem?
Brooks Robinson remembers one of Howard's hits off Bender well. "He almost got me killed one time. Frank Howard was the one guy I really, I wouldn't say feared, but had extra respect for as a third baseman. He was so strong and hit the ball so hard. Gene dropped down from the side, Frank hit one over my head, and I jumped. But it was a day game -- people were wearing white shirts and I couldn't pick up the ball very well. The ball hit the left field wall. I said to Gene, 'If I'd jumped at the wrong time, I might have gotten killed!"
A big advantage for Williams, at least for those games where b-r has the men on splits, is that the majority of his PA came with men on (not true for Bonds or Mac). Obviously we'd need to adjust for that. But his HR/AB was significantly higher with men on.
I have a Howard encounter of my own when I get a chance
He was forever being psychoanalyzed by the tabloids, was mercilessly booed at Yankee Stadium whenever he slumped for more than a week, and before 1961 he probably suffered the most hot-and-cold fan base of any player in memory. The more you read about Mantle, the more you get the feeling that beings at the ballpark among his teammates was the only place he could ever find any real sense of comfort and joy.
McCovey, on the other hand, was more famous for hitting laser beam line drives.
Thanks, Rob, for the corrections and suggestions. I appreciate your reading of TFA.
One of the many things I love about BBTF - people don't take it personally when you offer constructive criticism.
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