14 Hall of Famers, One Baseball
I have been a big sports fan all my life. I used to play an unrelenting game of baseball trivia with my childhood friend Paul. We grew up together on the Upper West Side and maintained this rapport for many years. I still love baseball with the same enthusiasm. With my father, I would take a taxi to 120th St. and from Lenox avenue station we’d be three stops from Yankee Stadium. The entire trip was twenty minutes. At this time there were only 10-20 regular teams that the Yankees would play. That was it. The Boston Red Sox, Washington Senators, Minnesota Twins… I still remember the starting players on each team. The senators had the big, big Frank Howard, the Gentle Giant. I remember him hitting the ball so hard once that the second basement dove for it as a line drive. Can you believe that? The second basement at the time, his name was Horace Clarke, that was 1968, he dove for the ball. He didn't get it. Frank Howard, if you don’t know, was a monster of a man. He was 6’10 and weighed 340 pounds. He hit the ball as hard as anyone. The ball kept going and went over the monuments in center field for a home run over center field. That was like, the hardest hit ball I’ve ever seen. I remember it vividly. Crazy right? Then that guy Mike Epstein. And the Houston Red Socks. Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Lonborg, the short staff was Rico Petrocelli… Jim Rice came a little later… the Cleveland Indians… Sam Mcdowell was their great pitcher. You would look at the Yankee programs and it would tell you the teams coming in the following week. Minnesota Twins, that was my favorite hometown team from Minneapolis. You had Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Rod Carew, Cesar Tovar… I remember them…Dean Chance, Jim Kaat who is now a Yankee broadcaster. Oakland A’s, you had Bert Campaneris who was the shortstop speedster… Sal Bando, Reggie Jackson. Oakland was a very good team. California you had the ex-Met Nolan Ryan. The Detroit Tigers came in all the time… Al Kaline, Willie Horton, Alan Trammell, Jim Nash, Jim Northrup. These are all names from the past. Chicago White Sox... Baltimore Orioles of course, you had Boog Powell, Brooks Robinson, the great Jim Palmer. All these iconic players were on that team. You had Paul Blair, Don Buford, I remember them well. Anyhow, I have a piece of baseball memorabilia here. A signed ball with lots of names. Let's see if anyone can figure out what they all have in common.
Juan Marichal... He would do a full split, in the air, for every pitch he threw. He had one of the most unique deliveries anyone had ever seen. By a full split I mean he would stretch his leg out all the way in the air, over his head, when he threw the ball. Crazy.
Anybody have a guess? They’re all hall of famers! It’s a very rare ball indeed. Holding it, I’m a giddy child again.
*Pictured is Juan Marichal, mid spectacular swing.