Today's thoughts

Category: Sherm Lollar (Page 1 of 7)

Chicago White Sox Catcher

Old Sport Shorts: Happy Birthday Sherm #2383

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Sherm Lollar. Today, August 23, 2024, would have been his 99th birthday. Sadly, he died at the very young age of 53, 46-years ago. I’m at the Louisville Slugger Factory today diligently looking for any signs of his existence but couldn’t find a bat or plaque anywhere. I checked the vault and the wall of signatures but to no avail. I did get to swing an Eloy Jimenez bat, the only current White Sox player with a stock of lumber at the factory. I also tested the weight of bats used by former Cub players Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant, but the heaviest by far was the Babe Ruth model. 

They gave us mini bats for taking the tour and we had a penny flattened with the Slugger logo. My wife bought a magnet and an “It’s All About The Wood” t-shirt as additional souvenirs. My good friend Peter Browning had me check out the first custom bat ever made there, with a “Pete” Browning signature from 1884. He was the original “Louisville Slugger” before the company trademarked the name in 1894 “to honor his patronage and capitalize on his fame.” He was also dubbed “The Gladiator” and played for the local semipro team, the Louisville Eclipse, but helped coin the “Pirates” nickname in Pittsburg due to an 1891 player strike when he and several other players were accused of piracy after signing contracts while theoretically under the control of other clubs. He is one of many famous players who should probably be in the Hall of Fame. 

I do have a #11 Luis Aparicio Louisville Slugger in my collection and a #35 Frank Thomas manufactured bat from Hoosier, both players enshrined in Cooperstown. I’ve seen bats autographed by Sherm Lollar from Adirondack and H&R (Louisville Slugger parent company Hillerich & Bradsby) for sale on eBay. It’s one of the few items I don’t possess in my Lollar collection of cards, photos, articles, mitts, balls, caps, uniform, and trinkets. Few can probably rival my extensive inventory of memories from his illustrious two-decade plus catching and coaching career with the Indians, Yankees, Browns, White Sox, Orioles, A’s, Iowa Oaks, and Tucson Toros. He’s surely crouched behind Heaven’s Home Plate – Happy Birthday, Sherm!

Old Sport Shorts: Other Great Sports Moments #2258

This is a continuation of my last post where I listed my Top 10 Sports Moments (See Post #2257). However, there were just too many others that need to be mentioned. Because of my media connections and extensive travel opportunities, I’ve had the good fortune to attend 9 Final Fours (New Orleans 1982, Minneapolis 1992, Indianapolis 1991, 2000,2006, 2010, and Houston 2011) and 4 World Series, plus numerous auto races, games, championships, playoffs, tournaments, inaugural events, matches, stadiums and venues. To recall all of this was all a real test for my memory banks, aided greatly by diary mentions. 

I grew up in Elkhart, Indiana, about 100 miles east of Chicago. There was little in the way of sports on TV when I was a kid, but on occasion my dad would take me to games in The Windy City. I wanted to see Mickey Mantle play, so we went to Comiskey Park, home of the White Sox. We also went to Wrigley Field and on one trip, he took me to lunch in the Prudential Building with Jim Coker, a catcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. I also had an uncle who coached football at the University of Notre Dame and a cousin, Denny Murphy, that was an Irish tight end. I remember meeting him at a game against Cal. In addition, he took me to a N.D. basketball game at the Athletic and Convocation Center (ACC) that looked like a giant bra.  These were my first personal connections with top athletes. I went back to Notre Dame in 2017 for the stadium remodel, my boss, a N.D. grad, gave me front-row seats for the unveiling. 

My dad would often take me to high school basketball games at nearby North Side Gym, one of the largest in Indiana. He knew John Longfellow, the coach for the Muncie Central Bearcats, one of the best teams in the state. I got to go into the locker room after the game, another brush with greatness. Other than the annual high school basketball tournament, this venue mainly hosted some concerts, professional wrestling with Dick the Bruiser, and Roller Derby matches when the Bay City Bombers would come to town. Before single-class basketball was eliminated, I watched a classic battle for high school supremacy from our Hoosier Dome suite that I could never had imagined when I first went to Hoosier Hysteria games with my dad. A national record 41,046 were in attendance in 1990 when future I.U. star Damon Bailey led Bedford North Lawrence to the title, upsetting top rated and undefeated Concord High School and future NBA star Shawn Kemp 63-60. Concord was only about 15 minutes south of my hometown. It would be the last of 61 consecutive IHSAA finals sell-outs. 

By my 10th birthday, I had lost interest in the Yankees and took my dad’s suggestion of picking a team closer to home. As the White Sox played in the 1959 World Series, I was able to watch on black & white TV my catching idol, Sherm Lollar of the Sox play for the first time. We did go to a few games to see him in person, but I never got to meet the man. He and his teammates have become the main focus of my baseball card collection and lifelong allegiance to the Sox. 

I wrestled in high school and ran some track, but sports surprisingly were not a priority. Elkhart High was a big school with over 1000 students in my graduating class. We were state champions in football, wrestling, cross-county, and track, but I remember only occasionally going to Blue Blazer games or meets. I chose Albion College in Michigan after actually considering Purdue and played some intramural flag football for East Hall and eventually my fraternity Sigma Chi. I probably also attended a homecoming football game to watch the Britons. My frat brothers were hot on hockey and talked me into a Red Wings game. I also went to Milwaukee in 1971 as a weekend getaway and ended up at my first NBA game to watch Lew Alcinder and the eventual champion Bucks’. Outside of Chicago baseball, these games were my initial foray into professional sports. 

A year later, I transferred to Indiana University, rode for the Sigma Chi Little 500 team, and settled into an apartment with my high school classmate, Alan. I do not remember going to an I.U. game at the old fieldhouse, but I do recall a blowout win against Notre Dame at the new Assembly Hall. I met George McGinnis at a party and began to follow the Hoosiers. I must have come back to Indianapolis in 1971 from Bloomington to see my high school team compete for a state championship. I couldn’t get tickets for the game that was played at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse on the campus of Butler University where the movie Hoosiers was filmed. I ended up watching the game on TV at the Sigma Chi house across the street. The Blue Blazers topped New Castle, and future I.U. big man, Kent Benson 75-70 in 3-overtimes. Benson led the undefeated Hoosiers to an NCAA title in 1976, an accomplishment that hasn’t since been repeated. A loaded East Chicago Washington squad won the championship game 70-60, but without ticket connections, I must have gone back to Bloomington. Ironically, I would never have to want for a ticket ever again!

I do remember getting excited about I.U. basketball when they made it to the Final Four in 1973 but lost to UCLA. I had a flat tire that morning and badly cut my hand on a piece of glass trying to fix it. I still have the scar as a reminder. The next few years, despite marriage and the birth of Adam, I became obsessed with basketball for the first time since I played in grade school and went to basketball camp. 

I began to follow sports even more once I got in the radio business and began to sell sponsorships for Blue Blazers basketball and football, plus Hoosier Hysteria, Notre Dame, Purdue, and I.U. games throughout the season. Eventually, our family moved to Ft. Wayne, another hockey town, anchored by the Comets on our 50,000-watt competitor and music became my major selling point. Free concert tickets and trade were job bonuses. Plus, working with our National rep I began to travel to New York City, Boston, Chicago, and Detroit. I went to Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, and Tiger Stadium. I also worked a deal with the Chicago Sting and played against the Harlem Globetrotters. However, it wasn’t until I got the job at WIBC radio in Indianapolis that I truly found my calling. I now had the Indianapolis 500, Colts, Indians, and Pacers to promote.

As a newcomer to the Capital City, I was asked by station management to host our suite for the Coca-Cola Circle City Classic.  It was more than a football game between two black universities, it was a halftime battle of the band’s extravaganza. Apparently, no one else wanted to do it! This was my first experience with entertaining at events and would become the key to seeing every major sporting event or concert that came to town. The station had suite and hospitality access at Market Square Arena, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Hoosier Dome, and Victory Field. I also made my own partnership deals for racing through The Machinists Union, BRG Sports, Blackburn Sports Marketing, and Indianapolis Raceway Park. Many of these deals transitioned with me when I moved to WISH-TV. In addition, CBS Sports had almost every major sporting event from the Masters to the Superbowl, along with baseball and the Olympics. 

Beat The Pro was a promotion we sold at the insistence of my golf-loving boss. I had to spend most weekends on the golf course measuring distances to the pin. The only benefit for me was tickets to a White Sox suite, another memorable sports experience. I also earned a similar day at the park with the Wheel of Fortune syndicators. I was never in a suite at Wrigley, but they did have a club that served hot dogs on fancy Cubs’ china plates. They have since updated their facilities. 

During my time in Indy, I attended and worked with the AAA Indians at Bush Stadium where we had both press box seats and season tickets. I once celebrated on the field with Randy Johnson after a league championship. In addition, I frequently took clients to Colts training camp and on the field. World Gymnastics once did an exhibition, the U.S. Track and Field Championships and NCAA Finals provided autograph sessions with Gayle Devers and Michael Johnson, the PGA Championship came to Crooked Stick Country Club, while John Daly was the upset winner. NCAA Swimming and Diving was another big draw for the city. I also had ringside seats for a gruesome light heavyweight bout won by Marvin Johnson. Finally, I sat many times on the floor to watch the Pacers and Reggie Miller, including the NBA Playoffs. 

When I moved to Lafayette, it was all Purdue, but I.U. came to town at least once a year in basketball and every other year in football. I quickly learned that when Purdue won, business was better, so I put my Hoosier allegiance on hold. Plus, my mother-in-law was a big Boiler fan, so I presented her with front row seats for a game. I also had press passes, hospitality, and a beautiful stadium suite. I got close to the Purdue Athletic Director, along with Black & Gold Magazine and expanded our local coverage with the Joe Tiller and Gene Keady Shows. My wife was at WISH, so we continued to benefit from suite access to concerts and events. We saw Cathedral, where her girls went to school, win the state high school football title at the Dome. We also went with clients to the RCA Tennis Championships, with hospitality and great seats. During that timeframe, I played on the WISH softball team, as well as the traveling Pearson Group club, that appeared in the Media World Series held in Dallas, Phoenix, and Ft. Lauderdale. Add three more World Series to my list! I would eventually go to Omaha and the College World Series but only as a spectator. 

Most of my attention was still focused on racing, like the Indy 500, but I tried to diversify with other speed events like the U.S. National Drags and the Carquest Sprint Series at Raceway Park. They were each a far cry from the New Paris Speedway dirt track and the side-show demolition derby that I went to back in high school. While still part of the Indy media, I once spent an entire IndyCar season as a weekend warrior, going from track to track around the country. I was on the pit crew at Mid-Ohio and worked with sponsors at Elkhart Lake, Michigan International, the Milwaukee Mile, PIR, Monterey, and Laguna Seca. I also got tickets for the inaugural Las Vegas 400 Nascar Race. This all started when we would supplement our broadcast media packages with show car appearances, suite hospitality, driver endorsements, and sponsorship logos. However, in the month of May I was usually at the track with my all-access Gold Badge every day working these partnerships. 

Years later, the track expanded to include Nascar’s Brickyard 400, Formula One’s U.S. Grand Prix, an IROC Series, and the Brickyard Crossing PGA Championship. I was there for all four of these inaugural events and in the future secured tickets through my wife to the Daytona 500 and Austin’s Circuit of the Americas. We’ve also used her connections to see the Mariners and Seahawks in Seattle, the MLB All-Star Game/Home Run Derby in Miami, and several Portland Trail Blazer and Timbers MLS games, including a Playoff match. Most of the Blazer games were from the suite, but one was another unforgettable front-row seat. 

It’s been a long time since I’ve been back to Bloomington, but I’ve still managed to keep up with I.U. sports. I’ve been to Ann Arbor, Champaign, West Lafayette as previously mentioned, and East Lansing for games and went to Seattle to watch the baseball team play Oregon State at T-Mobile Stadium. I drove to both the Liberty Bowl and Independence Bowl to experience Hoosier football, but never smelled the roses. My wife and I also traveled up to North Texas for an I.U. gridiron loss against the Mean Green. I’ve seen the Hoosiers win at Conseco and Lucas Oil Stadium and lose year after year in the Big Ten Tournament. They did not make the Big Dance when it was held exclusively in Indy, but I was there in the midst of the pandemic. Hoosier soccer fell short in the championship game I attended in Santa Barbara with a college friend. Twice, I’ve followed the Hoosiers to Hawaii for the Maui Classic. On the first occasion I met Bob Knight and got his autograph. 

The Oregon Ducks became a favorite when we moved to Portland. I’ve been to both Autzen Stadium and Matthew Knight Arena. I’ve also seen them win in the Rose Quarter aka Moda Center for two Phil Knight events. Oregon State also played there. Plus, friends and I went to two Les Schwab Invitationals to watch several prospective college recruits impress the scouts. While living in central Illinois, we supported the Illini, so Assembly Hall was our new home for basketball and Memorial Stadium for football. I sat with retired Coach Lou Henson for a game. 

On the NBA front, I’ve been to America West in Phoenix to watch the Suns, Orlando to see the Magic at Amway Center, and to San Antonio’s AT&T Center for the Spurs, long after that initial big-time-basketball exposure at Milwaukee County Stadium while I was still in college. The Pacers and Blazers were the result of station-owned season tickets. The Knicks were always the favorite team to visit, especially when Reggie and Spike Lee were at each other’s throats.

I’ve never been to the Olympics but have experienced the Olympic Track & Field Trials in Eugene after it was delayed a year due to Covid. I also sat and watched the Olympic Freestyle Championships in both Breckenridge, Colorado and Stowe, Vermont when I was there on ski trips. Speaking of games on ice, exposure to the game of hockey has been sadly limited to the Ft. Wayne Comets, Indianapolis Ice, the Detroit Redwings 50 years ago, and the Portland Winterhawks a few years ago at Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum

Another of my bucket list goals, was a Super Bowl. We had access to tickets every year but never wanted to pay the price. It likely will never happen, but I certainly can’t complain about a lack of big tickets throughout my lifetime. I thought about going to Miami when the Colts played the Bears, but honestly couldn’t decide on which team to support.  My first football love was Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts, who conveniently moved to Indianapolis in the middle of the night. However, the ’85 Bears had pushed the needle once again to Chicago sports. I’ve been to Soldier Field and continue to follow the Bears after all these frustrating years. I’ve worked closely with the Colts players and coaches through the years and have been to several Playoff home games. Road games have been in Houston and Chicago. I saw the Bears play in Indy. 

The one Chicago team that has had the most success is the Bulls. I was never a fan and actually picked a suite game the year after Michael Jordan retired. I tried to give them away, but no one was interested. The Pacers Market Square Arena suite was nothing more than a long couch in a closet positioned behind a glass panel. It was hardly fit for entertaining but came with extra tickets and a bartender. At the last minute, I ended up giving them to Adam and hours later M.J. announced his return. They were suddenly the hottest tickets in town and Adam reaped the benefit. His friends were even previously reluctant to go, but I remember his pager (prime technology at that time) buzzing like a hive of wasps on our coffee table just before game time. It was certainly one of his greatest sports moments. We probably could have made a fortune selling them, but scalping was illegal, and they were technically the station’s tickets. I just didn’t want to go through the hassle of unloading them because no one really knew I had somehow picked them at the beginning of the season. 

Baseball has endured as a consistent favorite from early childhood throughout today. I’ve already shared my stories of Chicago and Detroit games growing up and the four World Series attended. I never went to a college baseball game in Bloomington but got into it when we lived in Austin and learning the phenomenal record of longtime coach Texas Longhorn coach, Augie Garrido, who won two College World Series in his tenure. It was really the first time that I sat down and watched the entire tournament, inspiring me to attend one day. While in Portland, I began to follow the Oregon State Beavers and went to a few of their games at Hillsboro Stadium, home of the Hops, and at Portland State. 

I enjoy baseball but it’s often boring, too many times ideal for a nap. It’s easier to mention the Major League stadiums I haven’t been to: Milwaukee’s Miller Park, Minneapolis, San Diego, Philadelphia, Arlington’s Globe Life Field, Atlanta, Montreal, Arizona, and Oakland. Two stadiums, Coors Field and Progressive Park in Cleveland I’ve only just jogged around, while I saw the Texas Rangers play in their former Arlington home from a luxury suite. Our Dallas TV station carried their games, but Covid prohibited a planned visit to the new facility two years ago. I’ve also been to Minor League Stadiums in Round Rock, Texas to see The Express, Jupiter Beach for the Cardinals, Surprise AZ,  Charlottesville FL, Hohocum Scottsdale, and Cool Today, our neighborhood Braves Spring Training facility. The other day I drove around the Baltimore Orioles’ Buck O’Neil complex in nearby Sarasota. 

Visits to Cooperstown, the College Football Hall of Fame, and recently the NFL Hall of Fame rekindled many emotional sports memories. Recently, my wife and I went to see our local Venice High School Indians host a football playoff game, with thoughts of her two girls at the Hoosier Dome championship game we all went to before our marriage years ago. My dad gave me a love of sports at all levels, and we shared this passion throughout life. It continues with Adam and his favorite teams since childhood, the Dolphins and Cubs. What will be our next great moment? 






Old Sport Shorts: Big Bertha #2207

A friend was over last night and I showed him my prized Sherm Lollar #10 1955 game-worn jersey. It’s in a glass case along with his worn, signature Rawling’s glove that pales in comparison to the 45” mitt worn by Baltimore Oriole’s catcher Clint Courtney in 1960 to better handler the knuckler of future Hall-of-Famer Hoyt Wilhelm. Courtney was back-up to Lollar for half the 1955 season before going to the Orioles while Wilhelm came to the White Sox in 1963, the year Lollar retired. I could find no evidence that they ever formed the same battery because Lollar only played in 35 games that final year of his career due to injury.

I also came across some interesting stats that prove how much the catcher matters to a pitching staff. A good example is that of future Hall of Famer, Yadier Molina, who while on the disabled list, St. Louis Cardinals starting pitchers had a combined 3-10 with an ERA above 5. The same is true as to why World Series Champion catcher Martin Maldonado remains in the Astros starting lineup despite a batting average of .151. Catchers should not necessarily be judged on their hitting.

Defensive skills, the ability to call a game and work with pitchers are incredibly important to a team’s success. It supports my argument as to why more catchers like Sherm Lollar, should be inducted into the Hall of Fame. His outstanding .992 fielding percentage, using the cumbersome gear of the era, supports the argument. Could a bigger glove have enhanced his chances or at least earned him more attention?

Clinton Dawson Courtney, nicknamed Scrap Iron, was an American professional baseball catcher who played in Major League Baseball for the New York Yankees, St. Louis Browns, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago White Sox, Washington Senators and Kansas City Athletics. He batted left-handed and threw right-handed. His oversized glove earned him notoriety. However, eventually MLB adopted a rule that restricted the size of a “Big Bertha” mitt like Courtney’s:

Rule 1.12: “The catcher may wear a leather mitt not more than thirty-eight inches in circumference, nor more than fifteen and one-half inches from top to bottom. Such limits shall include all lacing and any leather band or facing attached to the outer edge of the mitt. The space between the thumb section and the finger section of the mitt shall not exceed six inches at the top of the mitt and four inches at the base of the thumb crotch. The web shall measure not more than seven inches across the top or more than six inches from its top to the base of the thumb crotch. The web may be either a lacing or lacing through leather tunnels, or a center piece of leather which may be an extension of the palm, connected to the mitt with lacing and constructed so that it will not exceed any of the above mentioned measurements.”

The Sherm Lollar mitt in my collection measures less than 35” in circumference and is less than 11” from top to bottom. It’s well within the guidelines of this rule and ten inches smaller than Courtney’s. Meanwhile, “Old Sarge” Wilhelm, used primarily as a reliever, only had 52 career starts. Gus Triandos handled the catching duties in 32 of those games. Courtney got the assignment only 5-times, but “Big Bertha” also played a role in relief work during their two years together with the Orioles. Hail to the catchers!

Old Sport Shorts: Gold Gloves #2190

Sherman Lollar of the Chicago White Sox was the very first recipient of a Rawlings Gold Glove at the catcher position. In fact, in its inaugural presentation year of 1957, it was awarded to the best player regardless of league. In subsequent years it has been divided into American and National League position players. Lollar won the award three times while it was one of the few honors never bestowed on Yankee rival Yogi Berra. 

“The 2022 winners were announced prior to Tuesday’s Game 3 of the World Series between the Astros and Phillies on “Baseball Tonight” on ESPN2, with a record 14 first-time recipients earning the honor for best defensive player at each position (the old mark was 11, recorded in both 2020 and 1958, the year the award was established to include both Leagues.” For the record, only nine were presented in 1957, the fewest of all. 

National League 2022:

Catcher: J.T. Realmuto, Phillies                                          First: Christian Walker, D-Backs
Second: Brendan Rodgers, Rockies
Shortstop: Dansby Swanson, Braves
Third base: Nolan Arenado, Cardinals
Left field: Ian Happ, Cubs (first Cub at that position)
Center field: Trent Grisham, Padres
Right field: Mookie Betts, Dodgers
Pitcher: Max Fried, Braves
Utility player: Brendan Donovan, Cardinals

American League 2022:

Catcher: Jose Trevino, Yankees
Trevino is the third player in Yankees history to win a Gold Glove Award at the catcher position, joining Thurman Munson (1973-75) and Elston Howard (1963-64). Trevino led all Major League catchers with 21 defensive runs saved, which was also tied for the third-most Defensive Runs Saved in baseball, regardless of position.
First base: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays
Second base: Andrés Giménez, Guardians
Shortstop: Jeremy Peña, Astros
Third base: Ramón Urías, Orioles
Left field: Steven Kwan, Guardians
Center field: Myles Straw, Guardians
Right field: Kyle Tucker, Astros
Pitcher: Shane Bieber, Guardians
Utility player: D.J. LeMahieu, Yankees

In other baseball notes:

“A managerial search that included candidates such as Joe Espada, Ozzie Guillén and Ron Washington, Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol’s candidacy flew a bit under the radar.” It appears that he will be the new White Sox manager for the 2023 season, replacing Tony La Russa at the helm. 

I.U. alum Kyle Schwarber of the Phillies has now reached base in ten consecutive Playoff games with a  first-inning walk. He was the first to cross the plate last night with Bryce Harper’s 2-run homer. “Schwarbs” then went on to hit a 2-run bomb in the bottom of the 5th, part of a 5-homer Phillies barrage that led to a 7-0 victory over the Astros in Game 3. He was already a “Taco Hero” after stealing a base in Game 1, but has yet to be a candidate for a Gold Glove.

Old Sport Shorts: World Series #2185

Tonight is game one of the World Series that practically everyone in the world can watch on TV if they want. However, that wasn’t the case up until September 30, 1947 when three networks shared the broadcast of the very first World Series featuring the Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers. NBC televised games 1 and 5, CBS games 3 and 4, and DuMont games, 2,6, & 7. It was the first racially integrated series with Jackie Robinson going 7-27 and getting his first hit in game 2 to tie the score. Although it was televised, games were only seen on a small number of Eastern markets with stations connected via coaxial cable.

Sherm Lollar started game 3 at catcher for the Yankees wearing #29. He was a right-handed hitter and went 2-3 with two doubles, an RBI, and two runs scored. When the Dodgers brought in right-hander Ralph Branca in the 7th, manager Bucky Harris sent Lollar to the bench in favor of lefty Yogi Berra, who then proceeded to hit the very first pinch-hit home run in World Series history. The Dodgers still won 9-8, claiming their first victory in the series. Incidentally, four years later, Branca, pitching for the New York Giants, made unwelcome history again by giving up the 1951 Bobby Thomson “Shot heard round the world.”

Lollar did not play again until game 6 when he shared the catching duties with Aaron Robinson, the game 5 starter with Berra in right field. Sherm had another single and scored another run, going 3-4 in the series overall and earning his first World Series ring. His Yankees won it all in Game 7, but Robinson did the catching and Berra played right field. Neither of them had a hit. It’s the only time, so far, that the New York Yankees have won a Game 7 at home. In my collection, I have a piece of Sherm Lollar’s uniform from that series. He was traded to the St. Louis Browns in 1949 and finished his career with the Chicago White Sox starting in 1952.

Lollar’s next World Series was in 1959 with the Sox, losing to the Dodgers. He went 5-22 in that series. In 1966, he was a coach with the World Champion Baltimore Orioles. 


Old Sport Shorts: Home Run Derby #2177

Fellow I.U. grad, Kyle Schwarber, hit a monster home run yesterday to assist in a Game 1 Phillies NLCS victory. It sparked memories of the Cubs World Series run six years ago where he and Anthony Rizzo, now a Yankee, made history. “Riz” also hit a bomb off of Verlander last night in a losing cause in his quest for  another World Series ring. “Schwarbs” has made several appearances in the All Star Game Home Run Derby, slugging 55 home runs. Rizzo and Kris Bryant both participated in 2016, the first Cubs since Sammy Sosa’s 4th attempt in 2004. The only modern day Derby that I witnessed live was Miami 2017 with Aaron Judge winning it all. I ran across an interesting article written by Arnold Bailey about the early days of the 1960 TV show. It was a great childhood memory for me, recreating the event in our back yard with a whiffle ball and bat. 

From a baseball card collecting perspective, “a set of 20 baseball cards was produced picturing the collection of sluggers the show would feature. Today, those cards have gained a cult-like following and are among the hobby’s scarcest. American Motors, the show’s sponsor, produced the cards which were handed out at the carmakers’ dealerships across the country. Created in 1954, American Motors was then No. 4 behind the nation’s Big 3 (General Motors, Ford and Chrysler), with Rambler its top car. Apparently, neither AMC’s cars or its cards were overwhelmingly popular. That may be one reason why the “Home Run Derby” cards are so scarce today.” I was certainly not aware of them.

“The cards are about postcard size (3 1/8”-by-5 1/4”) and are unnumbered with blank backs. The fronts feature black-and-white posed photos, most of which show players from about waist up. The pictured player’s name and team are in two lines across the bottom. A black circle that promotes the show with a ‘See Home Run Derby on TV!'”

“The 19 players include nine future Hall of Famers (Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, Mickey Mantle, Eddie Mathews, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson and Duke Snider) plus 10 other sluggers of that era. All but three of the players are pictured holding a bat, either resting it on a shoulder or positioned at the start of a swing. The other three – Bob Allison, Jackie Jensen and Eddie Mathews – are attempting to hold a smile while posing for the camera.”

“Fifteen of the 16 teams that then comprised Major League Baseball were represented on the show and the cards. Only the Chicago White Sox aren’t included, although the Pale Hose won the American League pennant in 1959. But the team hit few home runs despite its winning season (the team’s homer leader was catcher Sherm Lollar with just 22). While the pennant-winning White Sox have no representative in the “Home Run Derby” lineup, the lowly Washington Senators (who finished in last place, 31 games behind Chicago) have three (Killebrew, Bob Allison and Jim Lemon).”

“The other dozen teams sent one player each to hit homers: Banks (Cubs), Ken Boyer (Cardinals), Bob Cerv (Kansas City), Rocky Colavito (Indians), Jackie Jensen (Red Sox), Kaline (Tigers), Wally Post (Phillies), Dick Stuart (Pirates) and Gus Triandos (Orioles).”

“The home run totals for the 19 players would eventually reach 7,375 by the end of their careers. So the home run lineup was a powerful group, including three of the Top 10 homer hitters of all time (Aaron, 755; Mays, 680; and Frank Robinson, 586). 

The 20th card (now the hardest to find) in the set pictures Mark Scott, the play-by-play broadcaster of the original TV show and one of the creators. Here’s a link to the article with even more interesting details:






Retirement is not without Hassles: Bridges #2153

We’re experiencing very bad internet service in Skagway. I can see where the Colts and Bears both won today but can’t get any details. The same is true with my E-Bay auction that ends today for the Sherm Lollar Lanes match book -pretty sure I’ll get sniped at the last minute but it’s not worth more than the $20 bid I made. It ultimately went for $20.50 as I feared.

We spent the morning in a fog, missing most of the sights along the White Pass Summit Vintage Railroad tour. It was amazing to see how this route was built through rock and over fjords to establish a goods exchange between the city of Skagway and its Canadian neighbors. It runs along the narrow rocky trail that prospectors used during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1899. I was concerned that the Canadian Mounted police might board the train as we circled back just over the boarder, demanding my surrender for not taking the mandatory covid test that I was randomly selected to undergo (See Post # 2147). Once the threat never materialized, my wife counted over 60 waterfalls along the way back until she lost interest and began to focus on downtown shopping.

I had a Alaskan beer yesterday afternoon at Juneau’s Red Dog Saloon complete with swinging doors and sawdust floors. It was my first beer since our Portland Leadership Meeting at Two Dogs Tavern – a dog theme is apparently forming when it comes to bars. Three Dog Night is probably next or the Dog Sled Saloon. I’ve mostly stuck to premium red wines or Chef’s Table pairings, Champagne, Limoncello, and Cranberry juice/Tito’s Vodka spritzers on the cruise.

As we crossed the treacherous bridges and trestles along the way, my wife was feeling squeamish and wondering why I was’t? Well, she had me all psyched for yesterday’s Brotherhood Bridge that turned out to be just street level, plus heights don’t seem to bother me in an enclosed area like the train car. It was built to celebrate the joining of the Huna Tlingit eagle and raven clans through marriage, as it is unacceptable to marry a fellow clan member. We learned all about Alaskan tribal clan houses, Potlatch parties/hats, and totem pole lore in Ketchikan.

It made me think of all the bridges we’ve crossed just in the past few months. These include Alabama’s Selma Bridge, Michigan’s Mackinac, Florida’s Skyway, Hope Memorial in Cleveland with the Guardians, the L&I over the Ohio River linking Indiana and Kentucky, the Venice Island drawbridge in our hometown, and the many bridges that span the canals in our Islandwalk neighborhood. Tomorrow, we’ll spend some time exploring Glacier Bay where the only bridges are made of ice.


Old Sport Shorts: Sox Memories #2097

I added the 1956 Chicago White Sox Topps team card to my collection this week. I have an autographed baseball from that year and the same team photo clipped from a 1955 magazine. Sherm Lollar is in the back row next to Nellie Fox. The White Sox of 67-years later continue to underachieve with another lackluster home loss last night following the All Star break. Tim Anderson and Liam Hendriks were the Sox 2022 representatives as the American League won for the ninth straight time. The Pale Hose had finally gotten to the .500 mark on the season and within three games of first place Twins in the division before losing 8-2 to the second place Guardians. Now, the gap is 3.5 games going into today’s double header at Guaranteed Rate Stadium

I have given up on the White Sox many times already this year. It’s frustrating to watch them fall behind early in games, leave so many potential runs on base, and make sloppy errors in an effort to catch up. Yosmani Grandal came back from the injured list to go a pitiful 0-3 in clutch situations. Luis Robert took his place on the DL with dizzy spells. Injuries and a lack of hustle have sadly become their trademark this season. 

I was only 5-years old when the 1956 Sox took the field. Sherm Lollar hit .293 and had 11 home runs and 75 RBIs. It wasn’t until 1959 and the televised World Series games that he became my favorite player. Minnie Minoso led the 1956 team with a .316 batting average. Larry Doby was the home run leader with 24 on this team that finished 3rd in the American League with a record of 85-69. As far as the All Star game, Yogi Berra (2-2) of the Yankees won the starting position as catcher with Sherm (1-2) as his back-up. The NL won 7-3. I might have been a Mickey Mantle fan back then, but soon fell for #10 Sherman Lollar and have been following him ever since. 

Old Sport Shorts: Let The Games Begin #1821

Let the Games Begin! The Playoffs are finally underway, while the Cubs have been put out of their misery. It’s hard to believe the late season success of the Cardinals or the fact that it could all for them end in one Wildcard game. My focus is now primarily on the SOX and their 76-year old manager, Tony La Russa. It’s been 16-years since they last won the World Series, but only 10-years for him in the same role with St. Louis. The White Sox lost two out of three to the A’s in last year’s Playoffs while La Russa was still enjoying retirement. Let’s hope for a deeper run in 2021.

I’m starting today in Tampa after four days in Pittsburgh. It’s a Sunday, but I actually wrote this yesterday on the plane, knowing that I would be crunched for time. I will be trading my family for my wife’s over the next three days as we make our way back to Venice. I’m glad the Braves made the Playoffs since we’ve moved into their Spring Training neighborhood. There will be some watch parties at the Stadium near our home, a great way to start a relationship with my new team. Maybe they’ll even have an afternoon game that I can stay awake to watch. Former baseball home favorites have included Chicago, St. Louis, Texas, and Seattle on our moves across the country over the past 25-years. However, the SOX will always be my favorite thanks to Sherm Lollar and the 1959 crew that become my first childhood baseball love.

It took 54-years of my lifetime for the White Sox to win a World Series and 65-years for the Cubs to claim a crown, although they were primarily my dad’s and son’s favorite. My dad originally tried to coax me into being a Detroit Tiger’s fan, that would have been even more frustrating. He did pry my allegiance away from Mickey Mantle like every other kid my age back then, but I chose the White Sox because he insisted that I support someone closer to home. If I hadn’t followed his advice, I could have been an obnoxious Yankees fan.

The Damn Yanks are slipping in the Playoff race, but the SOX are solidly in the field. The Cubs are on the outside looking in, while my dad sadly died before his Chicago team finally won it all in 2016. I’m ready for some Playoff baseball where the SOX will finally face some competition. They’ve been playing most of this injury plagued season with a firm grip on the AL Central. If they can stay healthy, they have a strong chance of winning it all. If they can’t do it, maybe the Braves can, so Let The Games begin.

Old Sport Shorts: Baseball Cards #1799

The last few days I’ve taken a step back sixty years, sitting on my floor sorting baseball cards. I had some unopened packs from 1991 and 1992 to open, including The Babe Ruth Collection. There was a time when I would have left them in their wrappers, hoping they would have more value, but why deny myself the joy of opening them and organizing them into teams. In this case, there was no bubblegum involved. It was fun, until I realized that I was just one card short of completing the Babe Ruth set of 165. Card number 134 was missing, but the next day I found it stuck to another card, just before I was ready to order it on E-Bay. All the Cubs and White Sox players are placed in a special binder while all the others are lumped together in separate books. I can’t bear to throw any of them away regardless of duplicates, knowing that my entire childhood collection disappeared due to good housekeeping. 

I’m certain that my now valuable Mickey Mantles were part of that loss, but if everyone had held on to their cards they all would be worthless. #7 Mickey was once my favorite player and his Yankees my team, but they were somehow replaced with #10 Sherm Lollar of the White Sox. I now have a massive collection of Sherm stuff that is only valuable to me. Mickey has made many men rich by simply investing in his memorabilia, or being lucky enough that their mom didn’t toss out their card collections. Right now, I’m even bidding for a Cancer Foundation medallion with the likeness of Sherm on one side and teammate Nellie Fox on the other. Hall of Famers like Fox drive up the value and increase bidding, which makes me think that I will probably not be the winner of this trinket. They both died at young ages due to cancer. The cheek-full of tobacco that became the shortstop’s trademark look probably didn’t help. Most ballplayers were smokers in that era, with little to do in the confines of the dugout. 

There is an organization founded by Marv Samuel, a pitcher for the St. Louis Browns in the late 40s and perhaps a Lollar teammate, known as Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities. It is “a 501(c)(3) nonprofit using sports to give back by helping fund cancer research and patient care programs at Chicago-area hospitals, and supporting services to empower kids with cancer.” Billy Pierce, White Sox pitcher and teammate of Fox and Lollar, led the organization after the death of Samuel in 1993 from Leukemia. “Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities has since its founding in 1971 donated more than $11 million to fund cancer patient care, education and research programs at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Children’s Memorial Hospital.” I’m assuming that the medallion was part of the fundraising elements of this organization.

I just ran across a Billy Pierce baseball card last night. He lived to be 88 and was on two World Series runners-up teams, the 1959 White Sox and 1962 San Francisco Giants. It’s amazing what you learn about the good that players do during and after their time in baseball, although Lollar died at age 53 and Fox even younger at 47, so they did not get the opportunity to give as much back. Every card and piece of memorabilia has a story. Collecting is more than just child’s play – it’s part of our history that I enjoy!


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