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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-1-2011

Pittsburgh Press, November 1, 1911:

JAMES THORPE, OF CARLISLE, GREAT ALL-ROUND ATHLETE

Football this season has brought into the public eye a young Indian student at the Carlisle school, who promises to become the greatest athlete the world has ever seen.
...

James Thorpe has broken all traditions by approaching world records in so many lines of activity that physical trainers are at a loss to account for his skillful feats of strength and endurance.

Puh-leeze. Greatest athlete the world has ever seen?  Like anyone 100 years from now is going to know who James Thorpe was.

Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: November 01, 2011 at 10:03 AM | 53 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: college, dugout, hall of fame, history

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   1. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: November 01, 2011 at 10:07 AM (#3984072)
...which makes me wonder: Who are the best athletes to have played MLB?

Thorpe, obviously. Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders. Frank Thomas. Dave DeBusschere. Who else?
   2. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: November 01, 2011 at 10:36 AM (#3984073)
I remember Bill James writing about Glenn Braggs that Braggs was a great athlete. James essentially said (and I'm paraphrasing here) that Braggs was big, strong, fast, agile, and a mediocre ballplayer.

Somehow Braggs got his own Starting Lineup figure.

Ah, found the James quote. From the Yogi Berra essay in the "catchers" section of the NBJHBA:
Kirby Puckett once said that his fantasy was to have a body like Glenn Braggs'. Kirby was a short, squat man who didn't look like a baseball player; Braggs was about 6-3, slender, fast, very graceful--and, of course, not one-tenth the player that Kirby Puckett was.
   3. vortex of dissipation Posted: November 01, 2011 at 11:32 AM (#3984076)
Dave Winfield. Brian Jordan. Dick Spalding played only two years in MLB, but is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
   4. Misirlou has S.C.M.O.D.S Posted: November 01, 2011 at 12:29 PM (#3984084)
Like anyone 100 years from now is going to know who James Thorpe was.


Is he related to Gil Thorpe?
   5. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: November 01, 2011 at 12:47 PM (#3984089)
Today is the 10th anniversary of a pair of World Series walk-offs. Sorta. One walk-off game began shortly after midnight on 10/31-11/1, and the other game began on 11/1.

Other baseball events celebrating an anniversary today include: Connie Mack begins his first fire sale, the Dodgers gain Branch Rickey, Bill Veeck loses his foot, the Negro Leagues Museum opens, and Arizona hires Wally Backman as their new manager.
   6. zack Posted: November 01, 2011 at 02:51 PM (#3984168)
Jim Thorpe is so badass, they named a town unrelated to him after him. Not Thorpeton, or Thorpeville, or even Thorpe -- but Jim Thorpe, PA.

Is there a Bo Jackson, MO? No, but there should be.
   7. Bourbon Samurai Posted: November 01, 2011 at 02:59 PM (#3984175)
which makes me wonder: Who are the best athletes to have played MLB?

Thorpe, obviously. Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders. Frank Thomas. Dave DeBusschere. Who else?


Why Frank Thomas? I remember him being big and strong and a great hitter, but certainly not fast or agile.

Young Barry Bonds. Mickey Mantle. Willie Mays.

Ichiro could break Olympic records if he wanted to.
   8. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: November 01, 2011 at 03:00 PM (#3984180)
There's a Bojack Lake near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Presumably inspired by the "Bo Knows Hockey" commercial.
   9. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 01, 2011 at 03:17 PM (#3984204)

Why Frank Thomas? I remember him being big and strong and a great hitter, but certainly not fast or agile.


He was a tight end at Auburn so I presume he was at least fairly agile in his younger days.

Best MLB athlete? Chuck Connors.
   10. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: November 01, 2011 at 03:30 PM (#3984217)
Not only was Thomas a tight end at Auburn, he went there on a football scholarship (and not a baseball scholarship).

He stopped playing football fairly early in his time at AU, but I've got to think that footspeed aside, an SEC football recruit who's 6'5" 240 of solid muscle who becomes a no-brainer Hall of Fame baseball player is a pretty terrific athlete.
   11. AndrewJ Posted: November 01, 2011 at 04:51 PM (#3984307)
Dick Groat was the top college basketball player in the country and, later, a National League MVP.
   12. JJ1986 Posted: November 01, 2011 at 05:00 PM (#3984319)
Carl Crawford was going to QB at Nebraska. He's got to be up there.
   13. vortex of dissipation Posted: November 01, 2011 at 05:04 PM (#3984324)
Kenny Lofton played in the Final Four with Arizona, and held the school records for season and career steals.
   14. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: November 01, 2011 at 05:12 PM (#3984333)
Ron Reed played a couple of years in the NBA, but I don't think of him as a great athlete.
Gene Conley also played in the NBA long ago.
Greg Luzinski was supposed to have been a college-caliber linebacker but I'm not sure you want him in your athlete group. He does a fine ballpark BBQ, IMO.

Best MLB athlete? Chuck Connors.

I hear that he had quite a rifle.
   15. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 01, 2011 at 05:12 PM (#3984334)

Carl Crawford was going to QB at Nebraska. He's got to be up there.


Jaime Quirk had a schollie to play QB at Notre Dame. Willie Wilson was a five star recruit for Maryland football as a wideout.

Josh Fields (Oklahoma State), Todd Helton (Tennessee) and Adam Dunn (Texas) DID play college football (I think Dunn didn't actually play though, just held a clipboard). But I don't know if anyone would consider Dunn a great athlete.
   16. Misirlou has S.C.M.O.D.S Posted: November 01, 2011 at 05:14 PM (#3984337)
Jackie Robinson played pro football and set an NCAA record in the long jump. And played a little baseball as well.
   17. Random Transaction Generator Posted: November 01, 2011 at 05:15 PM (#3984338)
Danny Ainge played for the Jays.

Tom Glavine was drafted by the LA Kings (ahead of Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille).
   18. Craig in MN Posted: November 01, 2011 at 05:22 PM (#3984344)
Carl Crawford was going to QB at Nebraska. He's got to be up there.


Joe Mauer was going to QB at Florida State. Actually, he was the only athlete ever to be selected as the USA Today High School Player of the Year in two sports and was also the 2001 Gatorade National Player of the Year in both football and baseball. In high school, he also had a 90+ mph fastball and scored 20+ points per game as an All State point guard.
   19. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 01, 2011 at 05:22 PM (#3984345)
Mark Hendrickson played for the Sixers making him the first player to suck in both the NBA and MLB.
   20. Perry Posted: November 01, 2011 at 05:42 PM (#3984362)
Bob Gibson played basketball at Creighton and for the Harlem Globetrotters.

Anyone MLBers other than Winfield drafted in 3 sports?
   21. Bob Evans Posted: November 01, 2011 at 05:48 PM (#3984375)
Has anyone who has played MLB besides Jim Thorpe won an Olympic gold medal for anything besides baseball?
   22. esseff Posted: November 01, 2011 at 05:48 PM (#3984376)
The Ricketts brothers were also college basketball stars who played in MLB. Dick was a first-team All-American and an NBA first-round draft pick.
   23. Al Peterson Posted: November 01, 2011 at 05:53 PM (#3984380)
Drew Henson set many Michigan High School baseball records along with being a star quarterback. Of course his NY Yankee career was a cup of coffee, football he had success at University of Michigan and then one year with some starts for the Dallas Cowboys. Great athlete maybe a stretch but he sure had some tools for both sports.
   24. esseff Posted: November 01, 2011 at 05:53 PM (#3984381)
Has anyone who has played MLB besides Jim Thorpe won an Olympic gold medal for anything besides baseball?


Herb Washington competed in the '72 U.S. trials but failed to make the Olympic team.
   25. Tom Nawrocki Posted: November 01, 2011 at 06:01 PM (#3984389)
Josh Fields (Oklahoma State), Todd Helton (Tennessee) and Adam Dunn (Texas) DID play college football (I think Dunn didn't actually play though, just held a clipboard). But I don't know if anyone would consider Dunn a great athlete.


I wouldn't consider Helton a great athlete either; he has to be one of the slowest non-catchers in baseball. I suppose it just points up what a nebulous concept "great athlete" is.

The funny thing about Helton being a college quarterback is that you almost literally never see him display QB-like skills on the diamond. As a first baseman, he's rarely called on to throw the ball, and when he does, his arm is nothing special. And as I said, he's godawful slow. You do see evidence of his athletic intelligence, though.
   26. steagles Posted: November 01, 2011 at 06:07 PM (#3984395)
I wouldn't consider Helton a great athlete either; he has to be one of the slowest non-catchers in baseball. I suppose it just points up what a nebulous concept "great athlete" is.
he's 38 years old with a history of back problems. how much of an athlete do you expect him to be at this point?

he was a college quarterback 20 years and 9000 at bats ago.
   27. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: November 01, 2011 at 06:07 PM (#3984396)
Hippo Vaughn was a circus strongman in the off-season. Big trick, IIRC, was straightening out horseshoes with his bare hands.
Maybe he didn't look all that "athletic," but I bet not too many people charged the mound on him, either.

EDIT: I don't know whether he ever tried them, but I'm confident Honus Wagner would have been good at football, basketball, track, or any other sport he set his mind to.
   28. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: November 01, 2011 at 06:12 PM (#3984401)
Actually Hippo Vaughn did look pretty athletic. This is the guy who was nicknamed "Hippo"? We have no-power middle infielders nowadays who look more like a hippo than him. (specifically Nick Punto)
   29. depletion Posted: November 01, 2011 at 06:20 PM (#3984408)
From the article:

..Thorpe won the high jump, broad jump, and was first in the high and low hurdles, defeating Thor in the shot-put, and making second place in the hammer throw...

No one defeats Thor in the hammer throw.
   30. SoSH U at work Posted: November 01, 2011 at 06:25 PM (#3984414)
he's 38 years old with a history of back problems. how much of an athlete do you expect him to be at this point?

he was a college quarterback 20 years and 9000 at bats ago.


8,990 at bats ago he was a slow-footed first basemen. Not much has changed on that front.
   31. JJ1986 Posted: November 01, 2011 at 06:27 PM (#3984415)
Peyton Manning has always been exceptionally slow. You don't need speed in that offense.
   32. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: November 01, 2011 at 06:28 PM (#3984417)
Along with Hendrickson, Ainge, Conley, DeBusschere, Reed, Groat, Conley, and Connors - Frankie Baumholtz, Cotton Nash, and Steve Hamilton were in both MLB and the NBA. More recently, Ryan Minor was good enough to play in the NBA as well. Tony Clark and Tony Gwynn weren't, but were good college ball players.
   33. esseff Posted: November 01, 2011 at 06:31 PM (#3984419)
Along with Hendrickson, Ainge, Conley, DeBusschere, Reed, Groat, Conley, and Connors - Frankie Baumholtz, Cotton Nash, and Steve Hamilton were in both MLB and the NBA.


And, as I mentioned earlier, Dick Ricketts.
   34. Hack Wilson Posted: November 01, 2011 at 06:41 PM (#3984426)
I got beaten to Frankie Baumholtz, my first favorite ballplayer. He was, apparently, a much greater basketball player.
   35. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: November 01, 2011 at 06:41 PM (#3984428)
The Yankees gave this guy a look-see
   36. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 01, 2011 at 06:54 PM (#3984441)

Anyone MLBers other than Winfield drafted in 3 sports?


The MLB and NBA drafts were not around back then, but the aforementioned Connors played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Celtics, and was drafted by the Chicago Bears.

But I believe Winfield is the only one to be drafted by three.

Tony Gwynn is not typically thought of as an athlete, especially if you see pics of him now, but he was a standout basketball player at San Diego State (two time All-WAC), enough to get drafted by the NBA's San Diego Clippers.

The Yankees gave this guy a look-see


The Royals in the 80s drafted not only Bo Jackson, but John Elway, Dan Marino, Steve Bartkowski and Deion Sanders (none of them signed).
   37. Monty Posted: November 01, 2011 at 06:54 PM (#3984442)
More recently, Ryan Minor was good enough to play in the NBA as well. Tony Clark and Tony Gwynn weren't, but were good college ball players.


Gwynn was drafted by an NBA team. Of course, that just means someone thought he was good enough to play for the Clippers, which might not be NBA-caliber.
   38. bunyon Posted: November 01, 2011 at 06:58 PM (#3984443)
I think what all this points to is that you can succeed in baseball, more than most sports, with not a lot of athletic ability by having great skill. I mean, no one who is a really good MLBer is "non-athletic". Take Luzinski, mentioned above. We guffaw about him as a slow, fat oaf. Well, that slow, fat oaf would probably beat 95% of the world in whatever foot race you wanted to hold (in his prime, of course). But he could be much, much slower than all the guys he's on the field with because in one very important skill, he was usually better. The same is almost always true of pitchers. They may be slower, weaker, less agile than everyone else on the field and yet dominate because of a single particular skill.


All that is also true of QBs in football. You can be a really good QB without a lot of foot speed if you have a strong arm and quick mind.

We see in the NBA that skill often loses due to lack of athelticism. Think some of the great college shooters. They get to the NBA and never get within 10 feet of an open shot and, so, can't use their skill. So being athletically dominant becomes more important the less a sport isolates a particular skill.
   39. Sunday silence Posted: November 01, 2011 at 06:59 PM (#3984445)
Has anyone who has played MLB besides Jim Thorpe won an Olympic gold medal for anything besides baseball?


Did Michael Jordan get any MLB At bats? As he probably won a basketball medal.

When did Jackie Robinson play pro football?
   40. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: November 01, 2011 at 07:05 PM (#3984448)
Did Michael Jordan get any MLB At bats?
Only in Spring Training. If not for the strike, I'm sure the White Sox would have called him up.

EDIT: And he has two Gold Medals, '84 and '92
   41. esseff Posted: November 01, 2011 at 07:07 PM (#3984449)
Scott Rolen is another contemporary player worth mentioning as an all-around athlete.
   42. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: November 01, 2011 at 07:17 PM (#3984456)
But I believe Winfield is the only one to be drafted by three.

Dave Logan (WR for the Browns in the 70s-80s) was drafted by all 3 major sports (Browns, KC/Omaha Kings, Reds)
   43. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: November 01, 2011 at 07:20 PM (#3984458)
Gwynn: The NBA draft used to have a lot more rounds. But, yeah, he was a good amateur - players with lesser pedigrees have made it.
All kinds of good athletes have been drafted by MLB, of course.

from mlbtraderumors:
Yanks let go of Andrew Brackman.
Tim Wood signs with Pit on a minor league deal.
Yesterday, I was wondering (to myself) where LF Franmil Reyes might sign - today, I got my answer: SD, 700K.
   44. Misirlou has S.C.M.O.D.S Posted: November 01, 2011 at 07:24 PM (#3984463)
When did Jackie Robinson play pro football?


He briefly played for the Los Angeles Bulldogs of the Pacific Coast Football League in 1941. He might have made a career of it had it not been for the war.
   45. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: November 01, 2011 at 07:51 PM (#3984481)
Tim Wood signs with Pit on a minor league deal.
On first glance, I read this as "Tiger Woods" which would be quite a story.
   46. djrelays Posted: November 01, 2011 at 07:59 PM (#3984484)
Jackie Robinson, hands down.

Football All-American at halfback, two-time scoring leader in Pacific Coast Conference basketball, NCAA broad jump champion in 1940, and would likely have gone to the Olympics as the gold medal favorite had they not been cancelled. Baseball was clearly his fourth best sport in college.

The question of the greatest multi-sport athlete to have been a major track athlete comes up periodically on track boards. Robinson wins this argument more often than anyone else.
   47. Perry Posted: November 01, 2011 at 08:07 PM (#3984489)
Dave Logan (WR for the Browns in the 70s-80s) was drafted by all 3 major sports (Browns, KC/Omaha Kings, Reds)


Geez, as the guy who asked the original "anybody besides Winfield" question, I feel dumb for not knowing/remembering that, considering I live in Boulder and he's a CU alum who's very much in the public eye here -- he's currently the multiple state-championship-winning coach at Mullen High in Denver, as well as the radio voice of the Broncos.
   48. djrelays Posted: November 01, 2011 at 08:11 PM (#3984492)
Re #7: "Ichiro could break Olympic records if he wanted to."

In what?? Not a prayer.
   49. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: November 01, 2011 at 08:16 PM (#3984497)
In memes.
   50. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: November 01, 2011 at 08:23 PM (#3984503)
   51. Bourbon Samurai Posted: November 01, 2011 at 08:42 PM (#3984520)
In what


He could throw 30 shot puts a year...if he wanted to.
   52. Bob Evans Posted: November 02, 2011 at 02:24 AM (#3984715)
"Ichiro could break Olympic records if he wanted to."

Pssh. I broke "Big Boy Pete"...twice.
   53. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: November 02, 2011 at 02:57 AM (#3984733)
Best MLB athlete? Chuck Connors.

I hear that he had quite a rifle.



You don't know the half of it.

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