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Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Bill James Mailbag

Roids Booze are is killing the game!

Bill: Carlos Baerga always comes to mind when I think of players falling off a cliff early in their careers. Not sure how he computes in terms of Win Shares, but at least according to WAR, it looks as if 100% of his career value comes by the time he’s 26; he did go on to have three more mediocre seasons before turning 30. I can’t remember if there were any explanations offered at the time.

Well. . .not saying that Carlos was a steroid guy, but. . .one of the chief effects of steroids was to PROLONG player’s careers.  Outfielders and first basemen who used steroids effectively continued to IMPROVE after the age at which they would ordinarily be in decline.

But among middle infielders of that era, the opposite pattern is apparent.  There are a number “slugging middle infielders” of that era whose careers tailed off very suddenly. 

Another guy whose career fell off the cliff after a promising start was Jim Ray Hart. I was reading up on him and I saw this quote about him: “While his relatively short career has been often attributed to an accumulation of injuries, another factor probably played a much larger role. I found an article from Baseball Digest, June 1991 where Jim Ray talked about what might have been had he not had an addiction to alcohol. He admitted that in later years, he was much more interested in collecting his paycheck for drinking money than in playing the game, and often came to the park hung over or drunk.” http://whenthegiantscometotown.blogspot.com/2010/01/blast-from-past-jim-ray-hart.html

Dick Allen used to tell a funny story about Hart drinking him under the table when they were battling for a minor league batting title, as I recall.  Dick drank a fair amount, as well.

Repoz Posted: February 28, 2013 at 10:34 PM | 67 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics

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   1. Ebessan Posted: February 28, 2013 at 11:13 PM (#4378098)
But among middle infielders of that era, the opposite pattern is apparent. There are a number “slugging middle infielders” of that era whose careers tailed off very suddenly.


Like who? I feel like he's invoking Edgardo Alfonzo and (of course) Nomar here, but Nomar isn't particularly unusual, and didn't Alfonzo have a chronic back problem? John Valentin? He was always just kind of old and hurt. Jose Vidro, maybe? Jose Valentin and Ray Durham played for forever.
   2. JJ1986 Posted: February 28, 2013 at 11:28 PM (#4378103)
Roberto Alomar is one.
   3. Matt Welch Posted: February 28, 2013 at 11:41 PM (#4378104)
Though it doesn't fit this description, Randy Velarde's career arc was on the unusual side.
   4. Paul D(uda) Posted: February 28, 2013 at 11:43 PM (#4378107)
Isn't Alomar's decline pretty typical for a second baseman?
   5. Matt Welch Posted: February 28, 2013 at 11:45 PM (#4378110)
Marcus Giles fits the description. Bret Boone and Mark Loretta also had oddly shaped careers. Arguably the 3 biggest fluke or spike-anomaly seasons by 2Bmen happened between 1999 and 2003 -- Velarde '99, Boone '01, and Giles '03.
   6. andrewberg Posted: February 28, 2013 at 11:47 PM (#4378111)
Bret Boone and Rich Aurilia seem to fit the description. Seems a little too handy. Don't MI decline quickly more often anyway?
   7. andrewberg Posted: February 28, 2013 at 11:48 PM (#4378112)
Coke to Matt.
   8. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: March 01, 2013 at 12:15 AM (#4378122)
I was going to say Ray Durham fit the mold until I looked and he didn't really. He was a solid ballplayer until about 2006. Why didn't anyone give him a contract after he left the Brewers?
   9. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 01, 2013 at 12:21 AM (#4378124)
Damion Easley, Kevin Elster, Jay Bell, Mark Bellhorn, and Bill Hall all had kinda weird career spikes.


I was going to say Ray Durham fit the mold until I looked and he didn't really. He was a solid ballplayer until about 2006. Why didn't anyone give him a contract after he left the Brewers?


IIRC, it was a Jermaine Dye situation where he only wanted to play on a contract on his terms, and when no one gave him what he wanted, he decided to just sit it out.
   10. Steve Treder Posted: March 01, 2013 at 12:27 AM (#4378126)
Anyone who could win a drinking contest against Dick Allen was a very formidable drinker. Jimmy Ray was the man for that task.

Willie Mays took Hart under his wing. (Mays never drank at all.) Mays provided Hart with a single bottle of whiskey per week. One bottle, free of charge, but that was it. Hart mostly, kind of, complied.
   11. Bruce Markusen Posted: March 01, 2013 at 12:32 AM (#4378128)
The revelation of Hart's drinking and its potential effect on his playing ability is really nothing new. Steve Treder, I, and others have long talked about it.

Take a look at Hart's 1974 Topps card, which was his last. He was probably about 34 at that time, but he looked like he was 44.
   12. Steve Treder Posted: March 01, 2013 at 01:01 AM (#4378137)
Sam Regalado (nephew of Rudy Regalado) told me of a time he encountered Jimmy Ray, in the 1990s. He was sitting in the back room of a rural honky-tonk. Sam said Jimmy Ray must have weighed 300 pounds.

Yet he survives to this day. You go, Jimmy Ray Hart.
   13. Publius Publicola Posted: March 01, 2013 at 01:11 AM (#4378142)
one of the chief effects of steroids was to PROLONG player’s careers. Outfielders and first basemen who used steroids effectively continued to IMPROVE after the age at which they would ordinarily be in decline.


Cueing Albert Belle.
   14. bobm Posted: March 01, 2013 at 01:50 AM (#4378147)
Take a look at Hart's 1974 Topps card, which was his last. He was probably about 34 at that time, but he looked like he was 44.

http://1974topps-pennantfever.blogspot.com/2011/05/159-jim-ray-hart.html?m=0
   15. Cooper Nielson Posted: March 01, 2013 at 04:14 AM (#4378158)
Bret Boone and Rich Aurilia seem to fit the description. Seems a little too handy. Don't MI decline quickly more often anyway?

Bret Boone was the absolute first name I thought of. He always had a decent amount of power, but his age-32 and age-34 seasons were tremendous. Then at 35 he was just OK, at 36 he sucked, and at 37 he was out of baseball. It was a rather swift and dramatic decline, but he was at the age where 2B tend to decline anyway.

Rich Aurilia played with Barry Bonds and had one fluke HR season in the middle of his career, but if you take that one out, his career looks totally normal, with a peak at 27-28 then a gradual decline in effectiveness and/or playing time. He did have a nice year at age 34, but part of that was due to being in a platoon-type role and facing a higher percentage of lefties.

Though it doesn't fit this description, Randy Velarde's career arc was on the unusual side.

Velarde was in the Mitchell Report. But you're right, he played forever and had "peaks" all over the place.
   16. bookbook Posted: March 01, 2013 at 04:50 AM (#4378159)
The problem here is that Bill and the rest of us are projecting. Haven't players had weird career arcs with unusually aged peaks since forever? Haven't infielders peaked younger and aged out earlier than outfielders since the beginning of time? I hear catchers don't thrive into their 40s either (except Fisk).

Alomar's decline at age 34 isn't at all unusual or "early." Yeah, he has his career year at 33, but so what?

Boone didn't decline early. Sure, maybe he and many of the others had a "boost", but it doesn't support Bill's hypothesis when you're "just ok" at age 35. Aurilia doesn't fit the pattern.

Garry Templeton? - oh no, he played earlier (and peaked very young).

Marcus Giles?

Do two (Giles and Baerga) make a pattern? Is it unusual for this era?

On the other side, I bet most outfielders are more Brady Anderson (1 or 2 out of nowhere seasons) than Barry Bonds.

Test the hypothesis somehow. I doubt it holds up to scrutiny.
   17. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: March 01, 2013 at 06:38 AM (#4378162)
in mild defense of bill hall he agreed to play centerfield in 2007 to help the team get more bats in the lineup. after a very shaky start he had a very good june and his bat was coming around when he hurt himself on a fly ball in early july. he came back too soon and never let his ankle heal properly. hall's stance relied on his back anchor foot and its believed permanently ruined his swing as hall became all arms at the plate with no power coming from his base. hall was certainly a mess at the plate for the remainder of his brewer career. it is also true in his 35 homer season almost half of his homers barely made it over the fence so that was a fluke season by any measure. but i think sans injury and not falling into yost's doghouse hall could have been an above average hitter for a longer period.

didn't happen. but i don't think peds were a factor. more of the usual bad luck common to athletes careers
   18. Walt Davis Posted: March 01, 2013 at 06:53 AM (#4378163)
But what about his other claim?

Bonds -- lasted forever
Palmeiro -- lasted forever
McGwire -- last full season at 35, last at 37
Manny -- 199 games (plus 50 suspended) after 36
Giambi -- last Giambi season at 35, last full at 37
Sheffield -- 386 games, 109 OPS+ after 36

onto the alleged crew:

Sosa -- last full at 35, last good at 34, done at 36, back at 38
Bagwell -- possible decline beginning at 35, done at 37, injured

allegedly clean:

Edgar -- one of the greatest post-30 careers of all-time
Thome -- last full at 38, 383 games, 136 OPS+ after 37


OPS+ leaders, 1995-2012, aged 37+, 50% at 1B/LF/RF, min 1000 PA

Bonds
Edgar -- no taint (139 OPS+)
Gwynn -- no taint
Alou -- no taint
Thome -- no taint
Thomas -- no taint
Galarraga -- dude had cancer, who cares what he did
McGriff -- no taint
Palmeiro
Chili Davis -- no taint
Baines -- no taint
Giambi
Ibanez -- well that one blogger slammed him and everybody got very angry with him

Everybody below that is under a 110 OPS+.

Same parameters, 1975-1993

Stargell 140 OPS+
Downing
Winfield
Evans
Evans
Carty
McRae
Brett
Yaz
Carew
McCovey 110 OPS+

So the first group is 12 plus Bonds, this group is 11. The silly group did hit somewhat better but the former group had more high PA guys -- Yaz at 3600, Da Evans over 3100, 4 more guys in the 2200-2400 range.

This is at least the second time James has made this claim and he's provided no backing for it. If there's evidence of it, it's not easy to find.

From 95-12, there were 13 2B/SS/3B (50%) with 1000+ PA from 37 on; from 75-93 it was 9.


   19. EdwinPitts Posted: March 01, 2013 at 07:27 AM (#4378169)
Jim Ray Hart was seriously beaned early in his MLB career.
   20. HowardMegdal Posted: March 01, 2013 at 08:06 AM (#4378172)
One second baseman I can think of had 43 home runs, out of nowhere, at age 30, then hit just 15 the next year, and was a part time player for a few more years before retiring at 35.
Then there's that slugging shortstop who hit 39 HR at 28, 30 HR at 29, 17 HR at 30, and then no more than 7 in any season.
But Davey Johnson and Vern Stephens were not named in the Mitchell Report.
   21. Rants Mulliniks Posted: March 01, 2013 at 08:59 AM (#4378177)
Petrocelli is another one - 157 HR through age 28, only 53 thereafter.
   22. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: March 01, 2013 at 09:15 AM (#4378182)
well vern stephens was a hard core drinker.
   23. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: March 01, 2013 at 09:28 AM (#4378191)
Take a look at Hart's 1974 Topps card, which was his last. He was probably about 34 at that time, but he looked like he was 44.


I had no idea Jim Ray Hart was black.
   24. Greg K Posted: March 01, 2013 at 09:31 AM (#4378193)


Much more intersting question, who is the finest drinker among active players?
   25. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 01, 2013 at 09:37 AM (#4378199)
He admitted that in later years, he was much more interested in collecting his paycheck for drinking money than in playing the game, and often came to the park hung over or drunk.”

Sure, but he had open access to all the greenies a swingin' third baseman on the make could ever hope for, so what's the big deal?
   26. The Pequod Posted: March 01, 2013 at 09:54 AM (#4378210)
FWIW, Carlos Baerga was said to party pretty hard during his Cleveland days. I wouldn't jump to steroids and then try to draw some overarching conclusion about the effects on middle infielders.
   27. AROM Posted: March 01, 2013 at 10:06 AM (#4378215)
"I had no idea Jim Ray Hart was black"

Neither did I until you posted this. Guys named Jimmy Ray found drinking heavily in a honky tonk, I'm assuming a white man with a crimson hue to the neck.
   28. AROM Posted: March 01, 2013 at 10:10 AM (#4378217)
It does not help me that he shares a name with the mouth of the south.
   29. Rants Mulliniks Posted: March 01, 2013 at 10:12 AM (#4378219)
Harlond Clift is similar to Hart, and despite having the nickname "Darkie", he wasn't black. He was from Oklahoma, so he probably had some Native American blood. He hit 143 of his 178 homers by age 27.
   30. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: March 01, 2013 at 10:15 AM (#4378222)
FWIW, Carlos Baerga was said to party pretty hard during his Cleveland days. I wouldn't jump to steroids and then try to draw some overarching conclusion about the effects on middle infielders.

Right. Didn't he just get kinda fat? I don't think there was any real mystery.
   31. Matt Welch Posted: March 01, 2013 at 12:12 PM (#4378312)
Take a look at Hart's 1974 Topps card, which was his last. He was probably about 34 at that time, but he looked like he was 44.

I had no idea Jim Ray Hart was black.


One of the great benefits of recently collecting almost all the past Angels baseball cards was to discover the skin pigment and drunk-bloat of pre-'73 players.
   32. Matt Welch Posted: March 01, 2013 at 12:19 PM (#4378320)
One second baseman I can think of had 43 home runs, out of nowhere, at age 30, then hit just 15 the next year, and was a part time player for a few more years before retiring at 35. Then there's that slugging shortstop who hit 39 HR at 28, 30 HR at 29, 17 HR at 30, and then no more than 7 in any season.
But Davey Johnson and Vern Stephens were not named in the Mitchell Report.


It's important to take note of offensive spike years -- 1950, 1970, 1977, 1986, 1994, 2000, and so on -- when trying to untangle weird career spikes. I suspect (though maybe only Steve Treder has the data handy) that players who peaked at 26-27 during offensive spike years (particularly those, like '70 & '77 & '86, that were surrounded by comparative pitchers' eras) had unusually short and weird-looking careers, in part because they were perceived as disappointments when their counting stats couldn't keep up. It's also possible, of course, that league-wide spike years disproportionately favored certain skill sets that then reverted to valuelessness later.
   33. Delorians Posted: March 01, 2013 at 12:34 PM (#4378325)
I'm surprised to see 1986 on that list. I thought 1987 was a spike year.
   34. Matt Welch Posted: March 01, 2013 at 01:05 PM (#4378348)
I'm surprised to see 1986 on that list. I thought 1987 was a spike year.

I stand corrected, sorry. 1986 was the first halfway offensive season since '79, but '87 was the crazy spike.
   35. bookbook Posted: March 01, 2013 at 01:18 PM (#4378355)
Yeah, #30. If Bill James noted that outfielders who get fat (like Tony Gwynn, Lonnie Smith, etc.) tend to get away with longer careers than middle infielders who get fat (Baerga, etc.), it would have felt less controversial, though still anecdotal.

On the other hand, Andruw Jones.
   36. cardsfanboy Posted: March 01, 2013 at 01:32 PM (#4378368)
Right. Didn't he just get kinda fat? I don't think there was any real mystery.


I was going to say "See Andruw Jones"...the post 35 said the same thing.

I think that one of the thing about increased conditioning is that it should lead to fewer cliff dives (relative to the past) but it wouldn't eliminate them. Heck, I would probably listen to an argument that improved conditioning is the largest factor in players performing well in their post 32 ages, more so than even rumors of roids(or prove of roids in some cases)

Mind you, I don't think it would make you Barry Bonds or anything, but improved conditioning could legitimately explain players like Thome, Chipper, Palmiero, Torii Hunter, Edmonds, etc.
   37. Mike Emeigh Posted: March 01, 2013 at 01:32 PM (#4378369)
Harlond Clift was impacted by the deadening of the ball that occurred during WWII, and then in 1944 he contracted testicular mumps and followed that with a season-ending injury when he was thrown from a horse. In 1945 he suffered a concussion after being hit in the head by a pitch in BP.

-- MWE
   38. tfbg9 Posted: March 01, 2013 at 01:38 PM (#4378379)
Foxx. Big drinker. Hack Wilson: "a high ball hitter on and off the field" (love that one).

And the 1960's and onward combo of amps to be up for the game and booze to wind down, get some sleep aint gonna help the aging curve.
You'd have to think, anyway.

   39. Rusty Priske Posted: March 01, 2013 at 01:47 PM (#4378387)
Count me on the list of people who have been mispronouncing Honus Wagner's name this whole time.

I would have been more likely to assume it was the alst name that was wrong ('Vogner') than the first ('Hawness').
   40. Rants Mulliniks Posted: March 01, 2013 at 01:52 PM (#4378392)
testicular mumps


*prolonged wince*
   41. GregD Posted: March 01, 2013 at 01:59 PM (#4378398)
Harlond Clift was impacted by the deadening of the ball that occurred during WWII, and then in 1944 he contracted testicular mumps and followed that with a season-ending injury when he was thrown from a horse. In 1945 he suffered a concussion after being hit in the head by a pitch in BP.
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?
   42. Gonfalon B. Posted: March 01, 2013 at 02:00 PM (#4378399)
testicular mumps

Very underrated jazz musician.
   43. Mike Emeigh Posted: March 01, 2013 at 02:10 PM (#4378407)
Mumps actually does affect the testicles in a number of cases.

testicular mumps

Very underrated jazz musician.


Testicular Mumps is my Clayton Brothers cover band!

-- MWE
   44. alilisd Posted: March 01, 2013 at 04:19 PM (#4378503)
Yeah, #30. If Bill James noted that outfielders who get fat (like Tony Gwynn, Lonnie Smith, etc.) tend to get away with longer careers than middle infielders who get fat (Baerga, etc.), it would have felt less controversial, though still anecdotal.

On the other hand, Andruw Jones.


Not so sure Jones is the example you're looking for. He may have declined at a young age, but he still had a long career. He was a rookie at 19 and a full time player at 20. In the 11 seasons from age 20 to age 30 he averaged 157 games played and 651 PA's, about 95% of them in CF, which is the most demanding OF position. The list of guys who played more games than Jones and were predominantly CF is very short.
   45. attaboy Posted: March 01, 2013 at 04:20 PM (#4378504)
Juan Samuel?
   46. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: March 01, 2013 at 05:02 PM (#4378545)
"I had no idea Jim Ray Hart was black"

Neither did I until you posted this. Guys named Jimmy Ray found drinking heavily in a honky tonk, I'm assuming a white man with a crimson hue to the neck.


So, it's not just me! Phew!
   47. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: March 01, 2013 at 05:08 PM (#4378549)
Much more intersting question, who is the finest drinker among active players?


Miggy Cabrera?
   48. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 01, 2013 at 05:14 PM (#4378558)
Not active, but Wade Boggs once drank 57 beers on a transcontinental flight.
   49. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: March 01, 2013 at 05:22 PM (#4378570)
Boggs and Andre the Giant would have made quite a team.
   50. zonk Posted: March 01, 2013 at 05:30 PM (#4378586)
Much more intersting question, who is the finest drinker among active players?



Miggy Cabrera?


Right... all indications seem to me that the interesting question is really a race for the #2 slot behind Miggy.

Foxx. Big drinker. Hack Wilson: "a high ball hitter on and off the field" (love that one).


I've read a ton of rather interesting (he's been dead 65 years - is it OK to read them more as legend than refer to them perhaps more properly as sad/tragic?) stories about Wilson... dousing him in a tub of ice water to sober him up before games, his minder trying to keep up with him after games, etc.

Hack's on the all-time drinking team for sure - whether you want to create the team based on great drinkers who could play a little baseball or great baseball players who drank a lot... doesn't matter how you criteria it, hard for me to see how he's not somewhere in the OF.
   51. Nasty Nate Posted: March 01, 2013 at 05:34 PM (#4378592)
Right... all indications seem to me that the interesting question is really a race for the #2 slot behind Miggy.


Derek Lowe?
   52. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 01, 2013 at 06:04 PM (#4378614)
Not active, but Wade Boggs once drank 57 beers on a transcontinental flight.


Jesus, did he cross every continent? By the end, I'm sure it was an incontinental flight. As far as the biggest active drinker, is it still Farney, or has he given it up? It's been many years since I've been to Tai's Til 4, so I wouldn't know if his jersey is still behind the bar there.
   53. Nasty Nate Posted: March 01, 2013 at 06:19 PM (#4378627)
I haven't listened to the source interview with Jeff Nelson in a while, but I think the Boggs breakdown was something like:
6 beers in clubhouse after game
6 beers in ride from Yankee stadium to Newark airport
28 beers on long flight to Seattle with a stopover somewhere
6 beers on ride to Kingdome
4 beers unpacking bags in Kingdome

Miller Lites, I believe.
   54. Steve Treder Posted: March 01, 2013 at 06:27 PM (#4378638)
Hack's on the all-time drinking team for sure - whether you want to create the team based on great drinkers who could play a little baseball or great baseball players who drank a lot... doesn't matter how you criteria it, hard for me to see how he's not somewhere in the OF.

My favorite Hack Wilson story was related by Roger Angell in one of his masterpieces.

Wilson is playing right field for the Dodgers in Ebbetts Field. Boom-Boom Beck, the Dodgers' pitcher, is getting, well, boom-boomed by the opposition. Line drives are rattling off the rickety metal-covered wall in right field, and Wilson, in his customary mode of hung-over-to-hell, is getting damn exhausted retrieving them.

Finally the Dodgers manager has seen enough, and he comes out to the mound to take Beck out of the game. Wilson is delighted by this opportunity to catch his breath, put his hands on his knees, and contemplate the ground for a little while. Maybe even shut his eyes for a blissful moment.

But Boom-Boom Beck is all worked up and doesn't want to come out of the game. So when the manager reaches the mound and asks for the ball, instead of handing it to him, Beck turns and flings it toward the outfield, as hard as he can.

He flings it so hard, in fact, that it bangs up against the rickety metal-covered wall in right field. Clang!

Wilson is startled by the sound. ####! Dutifully, he rouses himself and runs over, fields the ball, and fires a perfect strike toward where his cut-off man would be.

   55. Don Malcolm Posted: March 01, 2013 at 07:10 PM (#4378664)
Pretty sure Mr. Angell got that from Robert Creamer (who probably got it from a Bill Stern book), but definitely a great story. (Seems to have originated as something told by Casey Stengel.) Sounds as though they should have converted Boom-Boom to an OF, except for the fact that he couldn't hit.

Sad stories in the comment section over at the When the Giants Come to Town blog entry about Jim Ray...estrangement, lack of connection with his family, etc. Try as he might, he just doesn't seem to have been able to let go of that bottle...hoping that he's somehow able to find those phone numbers that were left for him.
   56. Publius Publicola Posted: March 01, 2013 at 07:34 PM (#4378671)
Harlond Clift is similar to Hart, and despite having the nickname "Darkie", he wasn't black. He was from Oklahoma, so he probably had some Native American blood. He hit 143 of his 178 homers by age 27.


I bet he was part black but was able to "pass". There was a ton more interbreeding than anyone would like to admit, especially whites with african ancestry.
   57. Downtown Bookie Posted: March 01, 2013 at 07:53 PM (#4378678)
Carlos Baerga


Looks like his career went off the cliff

Juan Samuel


or hit a serve pothole

Roberto Alomar


right about the time...

aw, hell, you all already know where this is going.

DB
   58. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: March 01, 2013 at 08:29 PM (#4378687)
That 1974 Topps blog was a good timesink. I had a half hour or so to kill this morning and it fit the bill.
   59. GregD Posted: March 01, 2013 at 11:07 PM (#4378764)
Sad stories in the comment section over at the When the Giants Come to Town blog entry about Jim Ray...estrangement, lack of connection with his family, etc. Try as he might, he just doesn't seem to have been able to let go of that bottle...hoping that he's somehow able to find those phone numbers that were left for him.
Jesus, you ain't kidding. Multiple estranged family members trying to find him through comments on a sports blog...ugh
   60. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: March 01, 2013 at 11:19 PM (#4378766)
Hack's on the all-time drinking team for sure - whether you want to create the team based on great drinkers who could play a little baseball or great baseball players who drank a lot... doesn't matter how you criteria it, hard for me to see how he's not somewhere in the OF.


Paul Waner too. Apparently he used to keep a pint of whiskey in his back uniform pocket. The story goes that one day his manager found a half full bottle in the dugout and accused Waner as being the owner. "Nope, not mine. If it were mine, it would be empty."
   61. Morty Causa Posted: March 01, 2013 at 11:35 PM (#4378771)
I remember as a kid reading in one of those compendiums about baseball anecdotes that Waner would sober up before a game (guess there were no amps then) by doing a huge number of back flips. Anybody else remember that?
   62. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: March 02, 2013 at 11:20 AM (#4379136)
A couple of great drinkers who could play a little baseball:

Len Koenecke (google him)
Cy Blanton drank himself to death at only age 37
   63. BDC Posted: March 02, 2013 at 11:45 AM (#4379147)
I have to mention Kirby Higbe, as well, among drinking pitchers. His book The High Hard One is one of the great baseball memoirs.
   64. Tom Nawrocki Posted: March 02, 2013 at 11:57 AM (#4379150)
I bet he was part black but was able to "pass".


Bill James claims that Clift got that nickname because someone misheard his first name as "Harlem." He sure doesn't look part black.

Super Joe Charboneau used to be able to open beer bottles with his eye socket. I imagine he threw a few back in his day.
   65. bobm Posted: March 02, 2013 at 03:15 PM (#4379208)
According to Bill James in his Historical Baseball Abstract, Clift was given the nickname Darkie by teammate Alan Strange, also a rookie, who thought Clift’s first name was Harlem. The moniker, with its racial overtones, stuck. Also, the rookie was so reluctant to talk that he did not correct anyone who thought his name was Harland rather than Harlond.


http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/9987fe67

   66. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: March 02, 2013 at 05:46 PM (#4379258)
testicular mumps

Worst case of testicular mumps for both timing and position: The L.A. Rams' center Leon McLaughlin, who came down with the mumps right before the 1955 championship game with the Browns.

------------------------------------

I have to mention Kirby Higbe, as well, among drinking pitchers. His book The High Hard One is one of the great baseball memoirs.

Greatest pitching matchup that never was: Kirby Higbe and Satchel Paige. Both of their memoirs claim that they built up their arm strength as children by taking part in white vs. black rock fights.
   67. Morty Causa Posted: March 02, 2013 at 06:04 PM (#4379268)
Link at 65:

Rather sad that he pretty much led an unappreciated baseball life. Why didn't and haven't the Orioles ever honored him? Because they felt it may have diminished glow surrounded Brooks?

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