Pitchers and Catchers Report. What Do these beautiful four words mean?
I asked Pepe Yniguez (Dodger Spanish Broadcaster for the last 18 years) what does it mean to him “Pitchers and Catchers report” He said “To me it means that It’s time for Dodger Baseball! That the 2015 season is around First Base”
To me it marks the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring. It means palm trees and the sound of batted baseballs. It means sun screens. It means mornings of hearing from beat writers about workouts on dewy grass outfields. It means batting cages and practice mounds. It means we finally will start getting baseball news everyday!
Getting daily baseball news about Pitchers and Catchers reporting brings me such freshets of pleasure.
We baseball fans await with much anticipation baseball news and that special sense of the upcoming season that feed our eternal hopes every Spring. We soak-up all the quotes from our grizzled Pitchers and Catchers.
I can more or less go into a cave during the Winter but I come out all giddy with excitement when I hear those words “Pitchers and Catcher report.”
Mike Scioscia with Roy Campanella. Pic by Jon SooHoo.
This year I decided to do a post for each of the Brooklyn Dodger players that are alive giving us a little history of their playing day and If possible, where they are now.
This is going to be fun and is a way for me to learn more about the Brooklyn Dodger players and at the same time pay tribute to them.
We will start with Mike Sandlock who is the oldest one at 97.
|Mike Sandlock||10/17/1915||Old Greenwich,CT||1, 4|
When I look at the uniform numbers Mr. Sandlock wore, I think of the retired numbers of #1, Pee Wee Reese & #4, Duke Snider.
Mike Sandlock Then
Mike Sandlock professional career began back in 1938 for the Huntington Bees of the Mountain State League. He spent 14 years in the minors and played parts of five seasons in the majors.
Mike made his major league debut as a September call-up for the Braves in 1942. He came in late in the game and collected his first big league hit, a single off of Giants reliever Bill McGee. Mike’s roommate in the Minors, Warren Spahn, was also called up that September.
In 1943 Mike missed the entire season due to his services in WW II.
On August 12, 1944, the Braves traded him to the Brooklyn Dodgers in exchange for minor league second baseman Frank Drews. Sandlock went back to the minors with their Triple-A affiliate in ST. Paul where he batted over .300 and added switch hitting to his offensive repertoire.
Sandlock, a catcher, was a shortstop early in the season, Pee Wee Reese was still in the Navy. When Mickey Owen joined the service in May, the Dodgers were forced to use their backup catchers, but it wasn’t until July that they moved Sandlock back behind the plate and gave him regular playing time.
That 1945 season would end up being his best season in the majors. He played a career high 80 games, hitting .282 with 17 RBI’s in 195 at-bats.
His 1946 season would be his last in the majors for awhile.. He lasted with the Dodgers until July before he was sent to St Paul. Despite the fact he barely played and hit just .147 in 19 games, Sandlock has a funny story about that year. Here is the account as reported by John Dreker of http://blogs.piratesprospects.com:
The Dodgers had a young hard-throwing pitcher named Rex Barney at this time. He threw hard but it was anyone’s guess where the ball would go once it left his hands. Long after their retirement, Sandlock kidded Barney about how wild he was and Barney came back with “The reason the Dodgers got rid of you was because you couldn’t catch me.” Mike said that he couldn’t catch him because he never threw anything close to the plate. Yogi Berra once asked Mike what Barney threw, knowing he was his catcher for one season and Mike said ” I don’t know because I was never able to catch anything from him. I’ll let you know when I do.”
In 1947 Mike was the backup catcher for a young Roy Campanella, while playing for the Montreal Royals. He also met Jackie Robinson. They both shared a love for Golf.
With his time in Brooklyn done, Mike embarked on a career in the minor leagues that brought him to Hollywood for four years and many great memories.
Mike Sandlock joined the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League in 1949, spending four seasons with the team before his return trip to the Majors with the Pirates.
Mike playing for the Hollywood Stars.
Two people were very influential in getting Mike back to the Majors: The team manager, Fred Haney and knuckelball pitcher Johnny Lindell.
Mike developed a reputation for being an excellent receiver of knuckleball pitchers. When Johnny moved to the Majors so did Mike.
The Pirates had 3 to 4 pitchers who threw knuckleballs. Mike shared catching duties with Joe Garagiola and Heisman Trophy Winner Vic Janowicz. Late in the season the Pirates sold Lindell to the Phillies. the following year Sandlock was a Phillie but it was not to be for Mike as he was involved in a home plate collision during a Spring Training game. Phillies shipped him to San Diego. That 1954 was his final year of his baseball career.
Mike Sandlock Now
Here is a video from Nick of Examiner.com
Mike still follows the game. Recently he said ” The Mets guy(R.A. Dickey) now, throws his harder, but Lindell’s broke more.”
Sandlock offered this advice to catchers trying to contain the knuckler “You have to have good reflexes to be a knuckleball catcher. You can’t go reaching for it, you have to wait for it.” but even he was quick to admit it was a difficult task “It was like catching flies, I called it a butterfly.”
Sandlock feels the modern game moves too slowly compared to when he played.
He feels too much time is spent today with pitchers walking around the mound, the catcher going to the mound then the entire infield going to the mound and guys constantly adjusting their batting gloves and stepping out of the batter’s box.
He attended a Yankee game recently when Freddy Garcia was on the mound and said he could not wait to leave because of how long Garcia took to deliver each pitch.
“Do you see how slow he goes?” he asked. “He gets the ball, walks around the whole mound then throws a pitch, gets the ball back and it’s the same damn thing. There is no desire.”
Mr Sanlock was honored at Citi Field when the Dodgers were playing the Mets last July, 2012
Mike Sandlock with Don Mattingly at Citi Field. Mr. Sandlock still lives in the place where he was born. As of last year, Mike was still playing Golf once a week .
What a treat to go into the Twins Archive room. We met the Twins curator Clyde Doepner!
I would love to go thru stuff here! Those Sporting News would be a nice start.
There is all sort of treasures in this room
A Hole in One by plaque by Harmon Killerbrew
Thanks Clyde! I think this would be a great job.
Now we are the Visiting Clubhouse.
Are you confy Kent?
Kent looks like he is giving a sign.
I like my shadow
Abby taking a picture of Babe Ruth
The Babe when he played for the Saint Paul Saints
And here is Walter Alston and Roy Campanella
Ted Williams played for the Millers
Willie Mays also played for the Millers.
OK…that is enough pictures for a post so one more coming up with pictures at the Throwback game.
>><Tim Welke missed that call at Coor's Field by a mile, well at least by four feet. Take a look:
Congratulations Matt Kemp! April National League Player of the Month!
Prior to Jered Weaver pitching a no-hitter, I was thinking “what a bad day for pitchers” when Kershaw went 7/ 1/3 innings and gave up 5 earned runs. Halladay went 5 1/3 and gave up 8 earned runs. Harrison went 3 1/3 and gave up 8 runs & AJ Burnett went 2 2/3 innings and gave up 12 earned runs! WOW!
Congratulations Jered Weaver on your no-hitter. Jered is a local boy that grew up a Dodger fan and he was a Long Beach DirtBag.
Vin Scully said during yesterday’s Dodger new owners conference that the kids might describe yesterday’s weather as “yucky” but the Irish would say “Is a soft day” To me, t was a glorious day!
New Dodgers owners, the Guggenheim Baseball Management group, Left to right are Bobby Patton, Stan Kasten, Mark Walter, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Peter Guber and Todd Boehly
After work, I went home to watch the Dodgers owner conference that I DVRed then after I finished, I switched to the no-hitter when someone on Twitter alerted me, then I watched “Before the Bigs” with Mike Scioscia. I had started this blog post on 5/2 but did not finish it until today 5/3. So much happened in between. Watching Mike Scioscia in Before the Bigs, he had some great catchers to guide him in Roy Campanella, Roseboro & Del Crandall. He credits Del Crandall in pushing him to become a manager.
Dodgers are off today then start a series with the Cubs. Monday is back to Dodger Stadium to play with the Giants for the first time. I can’t wait! During the conference it was announced that parking went down from $15 to $10. Also to welcome communication with the fans, fan suggestions could be emailed to a new address, email@example.com. Next in my agenda: send a couple of emails. Go Dodgers!
pic ref: InsideSouthercal, scpr.org, fangraphs, Detroitnew, LATimes
This is part from my post last June when I went to Nashua, NH.
In 1946 when Branch Rickey signed Don Newcombe & Roy Campanella He had to send them to A Ball because of their history as Negro League stars.
When a Midwestern league made it clear that blacks were not welcome, Rickey contacted Buzzy Bavasi, then a young general manager with the Nashua Dodgers. Bavasi made it clear that his only interest was in a player’s ability.
Nashua holds another first in the history of the desegregation of major league baseball. When Nashua manager Walter Alston was ejected from a game that year, he left the team in the hands of Roy Campanella, who became the first African-American to manage an affiliated major league game. The Nashua Dodgers beat the Lawrence Millionaires 7-5. 3 That year the team won the New England League Championship.
There is another interesting note to the 1946 season. A local poultry farmer, Jack Fallgren, offered 100 baby chicks for every home run hit by a Nashua player. At the end of the season, Campanella shipped 1400 chicks to his father, who started a chicken farm outside of Philadelphia.
Holman Stadium has also been home to three other minor league teams, the 1980s Eastern League affiliates of the California Angels (1983) and Pittsburgh Pirates (1984-86), as well as the short-lived independent Nashua Hawks (1995-96).
Very nice plaque.
Notice the retired numbers of Newk, Campy and Jackie.
After Roy Campanella’s car accident he would require a wheelchair for the remainder of his life. He worked in Vero Beach mentoring and coaching young catchers for the Dodger organization.
In 1978 he moved to California and took a job as assitant to the Dodgers’ director of community relations and longtime friend Don Newcombe.
Don Newcombe was promoted to Special Advisor to the Chairman.
I happen to be staying in Nashua, NH for business and after reading a little history on Holman Stadium, I was looking forward to visiting this ballpark. The American Defenders of New Hampshire play in this historic park. Last time I visited N.H, the Nashua Prides played there.
Back in the old days, one of the Dodgers minor league teams played at this ballpark in Nashua, NH.
What a thrill to be at this historic stadium and see the plaque dedicated to the achievements of Don Newcombe & Roy Campanella! Thank you Nashua, NH for permitting these two baseball players to play here.
A very happy 83rd Birthday Newk who was born on June 14, 1926. It is such a pleasure and honor to see you at Dodger Stadium!
Here is the ballpark. Note the retired numbers for Newk, Campy and Jackie.
Guess what I found out? Eric Gagne has signed with the Quebec Capitales. Quebec will play a three game series at Holman Stadium June 29 to July 1st.