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A Press Democrat Blog

Old School

Robert Rubino connects current sports news with the past

Happy birthday, Minnie Minoso

The great Orestes Minoso turns 86 today, Nov. 29. It is a profound shame that he is not in the baseball Hall of Fame. Throughout the decade of the 1950s, few players displayed all-around excellence as consistently as Minoso. Mays, Mantle, that’s about it. Minoso was also a star in the Cuban leagues and Negro leagues. Minoso belongs in the Hall of Fame. My column for next Sunday will address Minoso’s qualifications for the Hall of Fame in greater detail.… Read More »

Matty Alou, R.I.P.

Two things Giants fans will always remember about Matty Alou, who died Thursday, a month before he would have turned 73: 1. His leadoff pinch-hit single in the top of the ninth inning in the third and decisive 1962 playoff game against the Dodgers started a four-run rally that gave the Giants a 6-4 victory and their first San Francisco NL pennant.   2. His leadoff pinch-hit drag-bunt single in the top of the ninth inning in Game 7 of… Read More »

50 years ago, Mays’ 4-HR game

Fifty years ago, on April 30, 1961, before 13,114 at Milwaukee’s County Stadium, Willie Mays hit four homers and drove in eight runs in the Giants’ 14-4 win over the Braves. Other players had pretty good performances that day but were overshadowed by Mays’ feat. Jose Pagan had four hits, including two homers. Chuck Hiller had three hits. Hank Aaron hit two homers for the Braves. And here’s a bit of trivia about the game. Billy Martin, in his final… Read More »

Remembering the 1954 World Series — barely

The Giants haven’t won the World Series since 1954, 56 years ago, when they the New York Giants. I remember that 1954 World Series, when the Giants swept the heavily favored Cleveland Indians. But I was all of 6 years old. So, although the ’54 Series is among my earliest, and most precious, memories, it’s a bit incomplete. It was when World Series games were played in daytime. I remember running home from school, racing up a flight of stairs… Read More »

Pennant fever: Giants in 1966

The San Francisco Giants have been giving their fans pennant fever over seven decades, including this season. Previous blogs looked at 1959, 1962 and 1965. Upcoming blogs will take a look at the rest of a top 10 list of pennant-fever seasons, in chronological order. 1966.  As late as Sept. 19, the Giants were four game behind the first-place Dodgers. In a frantic chase, the Giants won eight of their final 10 games, including their last six in a row,… Read More »

Marichal-Roseboro myth vs. fact

Sunday is the 45th anniversary of the Marichal-Roseboro Giants-Dodgers brawl. Check out my Press Democrat column on Willie Mays’ part in it. A myth has developed over the years about the effects of the brawl. Fact: Giants ace Juan Marichal was suspended for eight games for hitting Dodgers catcher John Roseboro with his bat, precipitating the benches-clearing brawl (and really, in baseball, is there any other kind?) Myth: The suspension conceivably cost the Giants the 1965 pennant because Marichal missed… Read More »

Posey among all-time Giants rookies

If Buster Posey continues his amazing rookie season, he will have to be included in the discussion of all-time Giants rookies. It’s an impressive group: Orlando Cepeda, 1958: .312 average, 188 hits, 25 HRs, 96 RBIs, 38 doubles, 15 steals. Willie McCovey, 1959: .354 average, 13 HRs, 38 RBIs, .429 on-base percentage, .656 slugging percentage. Jim Ray Hart, 1964: .286 average, 31 HRs, 81 RBIs. Garry Maddox, 1972: .266 average, 12 HRs, 58 RBIs, 13 steals. Gary Mathews, 1973: .300… Read More »

Duel of the decade: Marichal vs. Spahn

One of the most deft descriptions of the 16-inning pitching duel of July 2, 1963, between Juan Marichal and Warren Spahn appears in the recently published “Willie Mays, the Life, the Legend,” by James S. Hirsch. “By the time Mays came to bat in the bottom of the sixteenth with one out, he had gone 0-for-5 with a walk,” Hirsch writes. “But Spahn, after 276 pitches, finally made a mistake — a screwball that ‘didn’t break worth a damn’ —… Read More »

Strasburg no Spooner

Sure, that was a heck of a debut on Tuesday by Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals. Let’s compare Stephen Strasburg’s big-league debut to Karl Spooner’s. Opponent: The Brooklyn Dodgers’ Spooner faced the New York Giants on Sept. 22, 1954. The Giants had just clinched the NL pennant on their way to sweeping the Cleveland Indians in the World Series. The Giants’ lineup included future Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Monte Irvin, and All-Stars Alvin Dark and Don Mueller.… Read More »