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Rhino and Compass

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    Rhino and Compass reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Dummy Hoy   
    In the midst of all the talk about Sano and his weight, I got to thinking about the judgments that people make about other people – baseball players and their size – think Altuve or Randy Johnson, their weight, their various physical attributes – like my essay on Pete Gray who over came the fact that he lacked an arm or Jim Abbot and others judged to be handicapped. Perhaps it is the fact that my daughter is deaf that made me think about Dummy Hoy.
    “Dummy” Hoy – William Ellsworth Hoy – was known as Dummy because he contracted meningitis at age three and was deaf the rest of his life. And deafness denies the ability to mimic speech so he was also “dumb” or unable to speak. Born in 1862 – during the civil war, he grew up in the same era that baseball grew up.
    Sent to a school for the deaf in Ohio, he was trained as a cobbler and he had the initiative to go from working in the back of a shop to owning his own shoe shop. The school, like many others felt that a deaf and dumb person was not capable of doing much more than fixing shoes and even then, some people refused to have such a handicapped person fix their shoes. But he persevered, and he also took advantage of the fact that many people went shoeless in the summer and he followed his passion to play baseball. By age of 24, his love of baseball and his constant work on baseball skills attracted a scout and led him to professional baseball, first with a minor league team in Oshkosh, WI under HOF manager Frank Selee and then in 1888 with the Washington Senators. ! As a rookie he stole 82 bases and that record stood until the Ricky Henderson, Maury Will, Vince Coleman era. In his second-year major league season he had OBP of 376m scored 98 runs and stole 33 bases.
    His career was not a gimmick like the midget of Bill Veeck’s carnival promotions with the St Louis Browns. Dummy Hoy played major league baseball until 1902 and accumulated 32.5 WAR.
    He also demanded respect and turned down an offer from the Milwaukee Brewers (1880’s team) because the manager laughed at the idea of a deaf/mute thinking he could play baseball. In his career (14 years) he had 2048 hits, a .288 batting average, 596 stolen bases, and a .386 OBPAs a fielder he threw out three men at home in one game and had 45 assists for the White Stockings in 1901.
    In addition to being deaf and never hearing the roar of the crowd, the call of the umpire, or the sound of his teammates, he was also at a disadvantage as a player who was 5’ 4” and 150 pounds! Jose Altuve would love him.
    Lacking all the electronics of todays’ ballpark, Hoy was at a disadvantage, not being able to hear the umpire call balls and strikes. He asked his 3B coach to signal the ball and strike call to him and eventually got various signals to coordinate with teammates. Asking the umpires to use hand signals began the current system umpires use for outs, strikes, balls, fouls. But the HOF credits umpire Bill Klem for this even though Klem came after Dummy Hoy retired.
    The fans, appreciating his skill and determination did not yell and scream when he did something outstanding, instead they stood and waved their arms and hats in salute. He later replied, “It is not enough that the deaf candidate for baseball honors has the necessary ability, he assuredly must have the nerve and courage to even apply for a trial.”
    He finished his career with the minor league Los Angeles LooLoos of the Pacific Coast League with 156 runs, 46 stolen bses and 419 put outs. But in many ways his final play in his career was the most amazing of all professional players. A ball was hit deeply to the outfield and in those days, fans were allowed to stand in the outfield – often there was no fence. He was determined and charged into the fans in very deep centerfield and when he encountered a horse, he jumped on the horses back, and then he used the horse as a springboard to leap and catch the ball!
    With a deaf wife, they raised to very successful hearing children and he took on the raising of his nephew when he was orphaned at three. That nephew went on to establish the Helm’s bakery and become a millionaire who supported the Olympics. Hoy was put in the Cincinnati Reds HOF – in 1896 while playing for the Reds he led the league in homeruns with FOUR. He was also named in the Deaf Athletes HOF and should be in the MLB HOF. Former teammates – Honus Wagner, Connie Mack, Clark Griffith, and Sam Crawford – all in the HOF – tried unsuccessfully to get him in. In 1961 he tossed out the first pitch in the third game of the World Series and died in December of that year.
    The number of deaf players is very small but perseverance will mean that there will be more. http://www.infobarrel.com/Deaf_Baseball_Players_Who_Made_the_Major_Leagues
  2. Like
    Rhino and Compass reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Grandpa's hands   
    I remember my Grandpa's hands. They were so big that when we arm wrestled they would wrap around my hand and over lap and people thought I had big hands. He had hands from being a lumberjack, from working as a fireman on the Iron range railroad, but he might have had big hands because he played country ball. He pitched, he caught, he played what ever was needed. He was not great, my uncles moved into various paid ball clubs, but grandpa always played and I was young and he was old and still he was there. No glove, no glory, he just played.
    I read a passage from THE TURTLES BEATING HEART by Denise Low, an essay tracing her Delaware Indian heritage and she wrote, "The most substantial evidence of Grandfather's baseball career was his gnarled hands. Grandfather played the physically demanding position of catcher before padded mitts were standard equipment. Several times fastballs broke his fingers, which in old age were knotted with arthritis. The life of a professional baseball player was tough in the early 1900s. Grandfather told my brother about traveling with the Blues from one small town to the next by train. The Kansas City Public Library has records of the Blues, exactly as Grandfather remembered, but only with accounts of wins and losses, not rosters. Baseball was poorly documented during that era, and players were transient as the poorly organized teams."
    Each year I hear the debates about Hall of Fame and every year I hear that the athletes now are so much better than what they used to be. But of course that is just our need to make our own generation the best ever. The fact is, we are bigger, faster, more athletic than they were in the past, but our diet, our understanding of physiology, our training, our health and our opportunities are better too.
    The old athlete given everything we have today would be just as great. Jim Thorpe would rise to the medal stand today just as he did when he came off the reservation. The pitchers who tossed every game and won or loss 30 - 40 = 50 games years ago would be the studs today (of course we would only let them throw 5 innings every five or six days.
    I remember seeing a line drive to third base, the most dangerous position on the field, hit to my grandfather. I remember the speed of the ball and I remember him catching it without gloves. He didn't flinch, he didn't call for the trainer. My god those guys were tough.
    So, yes today's players are magnificent, but please - do not consider them to be better than the athletes of the past. Statistics do not measure diet, the need to work for the family to survive, the lack of equipment, or the desire of the player. Enjoy today's athlete and honor those who played for the simple love of the game.
  3. Like
    Rhino and Compass reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Bregman Hits Home For Twins   
    On Monday June 8, 2015 the Houston Astros franchise changed. Really, every franchise across Major League Baseball changed as they added an influx of new talent through the First-Year player draft. Houston though, selected a shortstop from LSU with the second overall pick, and Alex Bregman set forth on a path that would greatly enhance the Astros future.
    In this same draft, the Twins would select 6th overall. Following the selections of three collegiate players and two high-schoolers, they chose left-handed pitcher Tyler Jay. While Jay had served only as a closer at the University of Illinois, the thought was that he could be developed into a top tier starter for Minnesota. It was considered somewhat of a puzzling pick at the time, and Jay has yet to bear fruit at the big league level. That said, the jury isn't out on him yet, but that also isn't the story here.
    The 2015 draft had plenty of talent throughout that first round. Dansby Swanson led a strong Braves system for some time, Brendan Rodgers looks the part of a game-changer for the Rockies, and Andrew Benintendi would've been the American League Rookie of the Year had Aaron Judge not existed. All of those things are true, but the focus here is on Bregman, his position, and how he ties into the Minnesota Twins.
    Drafted as a shortstop out of Louisiana State, Bregman entered an organization that employed a 20 year-old Rookie of the Year named Carlos Correa. While Correa is a bigger shortstop at 6'4" 215 lbs, he's handled the position just fine defensively, and his .863 OPS is an incredible asset at one of baseball's most demanding positions. The Astros though weren't only rich in terms of Correa up the middle, there was a glut of options. Jose Altuve is going to hold down second base until he retires, and the combination of Marwin Gonzalez and Jonathan Villar both looked more than capable for Houston.
    In 2016, Bregman played in 49 games for Houston, spending just a total of 146 games on the farm. His .891 OPS at the minor league level was more than suggestive of a new challenge. At the big league level, Bregman debuted with a .791 OPS that was bolstered by strong slugging numbers. The K/BB ratio (52/15) left plenty to be desired, and both his average (.264) and OBP (.313) sagged because of it. With so much raw talent however, the belief was that 2017 could represent a breakout year.
    After a spring training that included time with Team USA during the World Baseball Classic, Bregman was set to be the Astros every day third basemen. Recently acquired Yuli Gurriel would move to first, and the Houston infield was set. In 155 games this season, Bregman posted an .827 OPS and turned in a respectable 2:1 K/BB rate (97/55). His average and OBP jumped significantly, and he became yet another asset for the Astros. Drafted as a shortstop, he played third, short, and second base in Houston during 2017.
    Looking at the Astros top 30 prospects as ranked by MLB.com currently, their 12th, 17th, and 24th best players are all shortstops. Despite having arguably the best infield in baseball, there's still talent behind them. This is where the Twins correlation comes into play.
    With plenty of talk regarding the selection of Royce Lewis with the #1 overall pick this season, Minnesota now boasts shortstops with it's #1, 2, 5, and 26 best prospects per MLB.com. The idea that there is a need to figure out where the can all play becomes immediately laughable. What Bregman and the Astros have once again displayed, is that talent can slot in anywhere.
    More often than not, shortstops and centerfielders are among the best players on a 25 man roster. Minnesota boasts an elite centerfielder in Byron Buxton, but there's plenty of room for a talent rich farm system to bear fruit at the next level. Lewis, Nick Gordon, Wander Javier, Jermaine Palacios, Luis Arraez, and Jelfry Marte all working out for the Twins would be among the best problems to have. Although there's only room for one person to play shortstop at a time, generating a 25 man roster with the best overall talent you possess is a great blueprint for success.
    At some point, Minnesota will need to figure out how Jorge Polanco, Brian Dozier, Nick Gordon, and Royce Lewis can all coexist. There's a second wave of talent behind them that can factor in soon enough as well. While that is something Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will be tasked with deciphering, it's hardly a problem that the Twins would rather not have.
    Entering the 2015 Major League Baseball draft, Alex Bregman probably had dreams of making a deep jump throw from the hole a la Derek Jeter. When he was taken by the Astros, he probably considered the current state of the infield being locked down up the middle for some time to come. On October 30th 2017 however, he's got dreams of two incredible throws to home from the hot corner, and a World Series ring well within his sights.
    Drafting for talent will never hurt you in baseball, and both the Astros and Twins would love to have a plethora of Alex Bregman's lined up to fill a spot.
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
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