Category Archives: old school

the Tigers pumpkin that will confuse my entire neighborhood

I HAVE CREATED PUMPKIN. And it is… uh, well, not exactly good, but it’s definitely going to make a statement. A statement that will not be understood by anyone who lives near me, but that’s where the internet and you lot come in, right? I know that you cats will understand, even when my neighborhood child-wranglers may not.

Behold!

It’s a very wonky Tiger Stadium! I figure that since it’s a ‘dead’ stadium, it works for Halloween.

On the sides it looks like this:

So, yes, I have a pumpkin at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.

I realize this looks like it was carved by someone trying to gnaw the image out of the pumpkin with their own teeth, or possibly the teeth of a household pet, but that’s as good as it gets. Let us all recall that Roar of the Tigers has absolutely zero aptitude in the third dimension, and I am counting pumpkin carving as a 3D art.

Lessons learned:

–It is wicked difficult to do small detail with carving that goes all the way through the pumpkin. The way to do small detail work is to carve down only a thin layer of pumpkin, not cutting all the way through to the cavity. Otherwise you have little bits falling off and it all ends in tears.

–When you haven’t used your gouges and chisels in three-four years, you are guaranteed to stab yourself in the hands multiple times.

–It helps to have a pattern. Otherwise you end up trying to eyeball Tiger Stadium onto a curved surface without consideration for the (limited) abilities of your tools, and you get this.

–You will never get all the stringy bits out of the inside. Never. There will always be one stubborn patch that does not come off, or one that you can see but not reach with your spoon.

–If the pumpkin wall is too thick for your weeny CVS pumpkin carving saw to go all the way through, it is going to take you a long freakin’ time to carve that pumpkin, and your hands will start to hurt because also you have been stabbing them with gouges meant for wood, and you will get fed up and start cursing all of gourd-dom.

Next year I’m just doing a cat again. That is the sane course of action.

Oh, and these are my companion pumpkins, to flank the big boy:

Hopefully the Boston B will keep the local delinquents from smashing anything.

What are you folks doing for your pumpkins this year? I hope some of you submitted things for the contest!

The greatest baseball movie of all time (and you’ve probably never seen it).

This is not Major League, or Bull Durham, or A League of Their Own. I’m not talking about Field of Dreams or Eight Men Out or The Sandlot. I am talking about a movie that goes above, beyond, and kind of awkwardly around all those movies. A movie made before all those others; a movie that laughs in the face of everything that came after, knowing full well that nothing– nothing!– can ever compare to it.

The year was 1951, and the movie I’m talking about is

RHUBARB

It is hard for me to know where to start with Rhubarb. I found out about it at the Baseball Hall of Fame, where it was mentioned briefly in an exhibit on baseball movies. I saw the premise and IMMEDIATELY knew that I needed to see this movie. It had to be in my life. In fact it would not be enough to simply see it; I needed to own it, so that I could cherish it properly. At the time, it had not come out on DVD. I waited, obsessively stalking places like Amazon, until some kind, loving spirit somewhere decided that its time had come. The movie was converted to the new format. I acquired it. I watched it. My life was changed.

Although the movie is complex and touches on a great many genres and themes, the overall premise is simple. An eccentric, rich old man dies. He leaves his entire fortune– including his baseball team– to his cat, Rhubarb. Drama, comedy, and a variety of shenanigans ensue, as everyone tries to come to terms with the new feline world order.

Let me reiterate:

THE CAT OWNS A BASEBALL TEAM
THE CAT OWNS A BASEBALL TEAM

THE CAT

OWNS
A BASEBALL TEAM

The star of this movie is, of course, Rhubarb, who was played by an enormous, irritable orange tomcat named, creatively, Orangey. He is the greatest cat actor of all time. You think I’m kidding, but I’m not: Orangey is the only cat to ever win two Patsy Awards, and his acting career spanned more than a decade, lasting from 1951 to 1963. Please note that this is significantly longer than the careers of most professional baseball players.

Orangey was a cantankerous prima donna disliked even by his trainer. A movie executive called him “The World’s Meanest Cat.” During one shooting session, his trainer, Frank Inn, placed guard dogs at all the movie studio doors in order to dissuade the cat from running away.

However, Orangey was a real talent and according to Inn could “play any part” and won more awards than any other cat in show business before or since.
Suarès, J.C. Hollywood Cats. San Francisco: Collins Publishers, 1993.

You may know Orangey better for his role as “Cat”, in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Again, not kidding: it’s the same cat. But Rhubarb was his break-out role, and his acting is truly spectacular.


Just look at that emoting!

The human stars were Ray Milland (as Eric Yeager, the team’s publicist and Rhubarb’s appointed guardian) and Jan Sterling (as Polly Sickles, the daughter of the team’s manager, and Yeager’s fiancée). Gene Lockhart played the millionaire owner. Orangey was credited in the film as ‘Rhubarb’, presumably because correct crediting of animal stars was less strict back then. Paul Douglas (It Happens Every Spring, Angels in the Outfield) shows up at the very end of the movie for a cameo, with a throwaway line that I am pretty sure is a joke, but it’s referencing something from the ’40s, so the nuance is lost on me.

Leonard Nimoy has an uncredited bit part as one of the ballplayers. Seriously. Check it out:


The team skeptically meets their new owner.

Now look closer…

Leonard freakin’ Nimoy. He would have been 20 years old when this was filmed. He has one line; he asks Yeager to make sure Rhubarb shows up at their next game for good luck. Amazing.

The team in Rhubarb is very clearly supposed to be the Brooklyn Dodgers. They play at ‘Banner Field’ (Lockhart’s millionaire is named TJ Banner), but it’s in Brooklyn and reference is made to Flatbush Avenue, where Ebbets Field was located. The team’s uniforms say ‘Brooklyn’ across the front and they have Bs on their hats. But nobody ever says the word ‘Dodgers’. In fact the team is initially referred to as the Loons, although this is a goofy nickname bestowed upon them because they suck, not any relation to real Loons baseball (neither of those teams even existed in 1951). Once Rhubarb shows up and they (spoiler!) start playing well, they’re referred to as ‘the Rhubarbs’.


‘Banner Field’. Not sure if that’s actually Ebbets Field, or just random stock footage?

The other teams in the movie are also referred to by city; Brooklyn plays St. Louis (unclear if this is meant to be the Browns or the Cardinals, both of which existed at the time) and New York (I think this is supposed to be the Giants, not the Yankees; they play in Manhattan, which becomes important later in the movie). Apparently Major League Baseball wanted absolutely nothing to do with this one.

(more after the link!)
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Tigers go old school with a little too much dedication

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

At least the Tigers looked wicked cool today while they failed it up on the field. How great was it to see them wearing the Olde English D while on the road? How great was it to see most everyone wearing the high socks? (answer: so very great)

Those enormous frikkin’ collars were, let’s face it, hilarious, even more so because half the players somehow got the idea that they looked better popped up, and thus spent the entire game looking like a cross between a preppy frat boy and a cat in one of those Elizabethan collars.

The contrast piping on the hats was cool. The reams of extra fabric used in each uniform just made it funnier, especially on guys like Ramon Santiago, who was so swamped by his uniform that he looked like a Little Leaguer. Miguel Cabrera improved upon his comically oversized sleeves by cutting them to elbow-length in the dugout, leaving his arms dangling in these enormous flappy batwing things.

Most unfortunately, everyone was in the throwback uniforms because it’s the 100th anniversary of the Pirates’ 1909 World Series victory over the Tigers, and it was apparently not enough for the Tigers to dress the part. No, they had to go and lose both weekend games. For added authenticity! And while I applaud the impulse to celebrate history, and while I appreciate that the Tigers have a certain amount of reverence for said history, I like to see limits, you know? Casing their butts in absurdly saggy pants should have been enough for the Cats. The losing, while perhaps admirable on some Piratesian level, was really just an unnecessary level of dedication.

We’re done with the 1909 tribute now, though, so hopefully this sort of thing won’t be a problem again. That said, if everyone wants to stick with the high socks, I wouldn’t complain.

Etc:

–Donnie Kelly batted third on Friday. Josh Anderson batted third on Sunday. I just… I try to understand. I want to understand. I know that batting order is not the hard’n’fast set of rules that some people believe it to be, but I really don’t understand why Donnie Kelly would be batting third in his first big league start in two years, or why Josh Anderson would be batting third with a slugging percentage under .350. What is the thinking here? I am baffled. I admit bafflement. Help.

(The River Thames batted third on Saturday, which at least made some arguable sort of sense.)

–Dontrelle. I grow concerned– more concerned than I had been, anyways, which was already pretty damn concerned. He didn’t even stay in long enough to give us the full benefit of his batting, although it was clear that Leyland really, really wanted to leave him in for at least that reason.

His ERA is creeping back up near 8.00; his WHIP is creeping up towards 2.00. He has thrown 28 walks and only 17 strikeouts. Even Armando, who has been struggling like a garden slug in a vat of beer, has numbers that look amazing compared to those stats. Dontrelle is definitely making a case for dumping him from the rotation (Zach Miner here we come?), but can you even do that anymore without dashing his confidence to pieces once and for all and screwing his head up in some dire, permanent way?

–Jeremy Bonderman hopes to return to the team… by September. Holy cats. Obviously his arm strength wasn’t back yet, but I didn’t think that it was ‘oops, back on the DL ’til September’ bad.

–What happened to the Cat Bats? They managed only 12 hits this weekend, as opposed to the 25 hits put up by the Pirates. I mean, I hate to say it, but… these are the Pirates. If we can’t hit against the Pirates, how can we hope to hit against, oh, say, ANYBODY ELSE IN THE GAME OF BASEBALL?

(OK, so the Pirates don’t actually have a team ERA or team WHIP that’s all that bad. Still. It’s the principle of the matter.)

–Gerald Laird’s nickname is “G-Money”. When fans call him that, he crows about it to his teammates, according to Rod and Mario. This is the image I have in my mind:

Eeeeeeyyyyyyy

–The Boston Globe today had a thing in the sports section about who will be this year’s inductee to the Mascot Hall of Fame. I can’t find the article online, but it was basically a little picture of each baseball mascot under consideration, with its name, year of ‘birth’, and a little one-line blurb of whatever the writer had found interesting/weird about it. Paws was on there, and his blurb was something about how he looked a suspicious lot like former Tiger (mostly former Met) Rusty Staub, who had Paws-colored hair and a generally Paws-face-shaped mug.

Hmmm.

RIP the Bird

photo by Samara Pearlstein

Mark ‘the Bird’ Fidrych was one of the most awesome personalities to ever wear the Olde English D. His tenure with the team was short– he pitched in 20+ games only once, in his rookie year– but intense, with an All Star trip and Rookie of the Year honors coming together in that 1976 season. He was second in Cy Young voting that year with a 2.34 ERA and a 19-9 record. People flocked to the ballpark specifically to see him.

Injuries cut his career short after that, but he remained in the collective Detroit Tigers consciousness, in part because his sudden rise to prominence was such a captivating story, and in part because he was awesomely crazy. He was famous for getting down on all fours and grooming the pitcher’s mound with his hands. He would talk to the ball during his starts. He also had glorious hair (a look that you will note is coming back into baseball fashion today).

The Bird was originally from Northborough, Massachusetts, and returned there after his baseball career had ended. He had a farm and a truck– in fact, he so loved the truck that that was how Massachusetts people who lived in his area described him. “Hey, didja know, Mahk Fidrych lives ’round heah, he has a truck, yanno.” Precisely what he did with the truck (towing? hauling?) was never made clear to me, but people were very emphatic about the truck itself. He would occasionally show up at Fenway when the Tigers were playing, which is where I saw him.

It is no stretch to say that it is unlikely we will see someone like the Bird in Detroit again anytime soon. He may not have been with the Tigers for very long, but the mark he made on the imagination of Tigers fans even long after his career had ended is indelible.

Today the Bird was found dead at his home in Northborough. Early reports indicate that he died while working on his truck. He was 54.

ETA: I suggest a memorial to one of the best things about him– his ability to bring fun to a sometimes deeply (some would say ‘overly’) serious sport. Baseball is, after all, a game, and it’s SUPPOSED to be fun; Fidrych understood that.

So, tomorrow, go out and do a little something ‘willfully eccentric’ (thanks for the phrase, commenter Matt). Talk to your car. Groom the seat of your office chair with your hands. Change pens because the old one doesn’t have enough great ideas in it. Smile at yourself a little, and think of the Bird.

RIP George Kell

illustration by Samara Pearlstein

George Kell was a Tigers TV announcer from 1959 to 1996, a period of 37 years that covered three Division titles, two Detroit World Series, and hundreds of Tigers players. If you watched the Tigers at all during those years, you heard him calling the games and reminiscing about the Tigers teams of old.

He played 15 seasons himself in the Majors, including a little over six seasons with the Tigers. He went to the All Star game five times as a big cat, and in 1949 he hit .343 to beat out Ted Williams for the batting title. Never a big slugger, Kell was an excellent defensive third baseman for most of his career and batted over .300 nine times.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1983. On his plaque he’s wearing the Olde English D.

Former Detroit Tigers player and broadcaster George Kell passed away today. He was 86.

Ernie Harwell + talking about stuff = awesome


photo by Samara Pearlstein

“My idea was, I’m gonna tell these people what I would like to hear if I were a listener, and I just did it that way, and it seemed to work OK.” -Ernie Harwell

I recently had the opportunity to check out Ernie Harwell’s Audio Scrapbook, which is a 4-CD collection of various Ernie Harwell things, mostly consisting of a long interview of Mr. Harwell by Bob Harris, sprinkled throughout with old clips and the like. You can find it here if you’d like to check it out for yourself, but since I listened to it, I figured I might as well give you guys a taste.

The very best way to interview Ernie Harwell is to sit him down with a lot of recording equipment around him, ask him some very open-ended questions, and just let him go. Seriously. I guess when you spend much of your life talking for all you’re worth and trying to make every word interesting for your listeners, it’s an easy habit to keep up. And when you’ve got the vast repository of baseball memories to draw upon that Mr. Harwell has, I suppose that just makes it even easier.

There’s A LOT packed into this audiobookmajig– like I said, it’s 4 CDs– and it covers everything from Mr. Harwell’s early life to his start in broadcasting and his career, to his most memorable moments and his thoughts on any number of players, managers, owners, and particular games. Pretty much all of this is worth listening to if you’re a Tigers fan, or even just a general baseball fan with a proper appreciation for the finer things in life. If the mere volume of information isn’t enough, I’d say it’s worth getting this just to have the opportunity to listen to that honeyed familiar voice coming out of your computer for about 4 hours straight.

A side yet vital note: a theme that ran constant throughout Ernie Harwell’s early life was his excellent and persistent dislike of the Yankees. Obviously this is right and proper and shows that he was a thoughtful and intelligent person even in his childhood. The first baseball game he remembered hearing broadcast on the radio was a World Series game between the Yankees and the Cardinals (so I guess it must have been 1934? Mr. Harwell would have been 16 then), and he talked about how he was a very great Cardinals fan then, because he was rooting so hard against the Yankees. Brings a tear of joy to your eye, doesn’t it?

Of course later in his career Mr. Harwell would go on to be friends with people like Joe Torre and Derek Jeter (who actually probably listened to some Ernie Harwell broadcasting when he was a wee Jeter), just in the natural course of his job, but the early indications of a properly inclined fan were all there. It is comforting knowledge.

The whole thing is like this, just filled with recorded reminiscences of who was where and who did what and, more importantly, what people were LIKE. Because that’s part of the genius of Ernie Harwell: the human element he consciously and unconsciously injected into the game. It’s a joy to listen to.

“Baseball is a spirited race of man against man, reflex against reflex. It’s a game of inches, every skill is measured, every heroic, every failing is seen and cheered, or booed, and then becomes a statistic.” –Ernie Harwell

day of honor (but not winning)


illustration by Samara Pearlstein

No bats, again. The Tigers managed only 3 hits on the day; one from Granderson and two from Pudge. Sean Casey managed a walk, but that was it for Tigers touching bases. The old “using up all your hits in one game” beast rears its ugly head another time, ensuring its secure spot in “realistic mythology” for another month at least.

Annnnnnd once again, it comes along with a pretty good pitching performance. Nate went 7 innings and only allowed two runs. That OUGHT to be plenty for an allegedly high-powered offense. As we have seen, though, this particular current Tigers offense has decided that it collectively hates our pitchers, and will only reward them when they decide to pitch in a decidedly mediocre, Chad Durbinish fashion.

The worrying bit is that this is exactly what happened last year when we started going bad, and in 2005 when we were fighting to keep our heads above water. It’s the disconnect between good hitting days and good pitching days. Remember? There were those frustrating strings of games last season where the pitcher would do really well, and no one would hit? And we would lose? Or suddenly the hitters would all turn on at once, and nobody would be able to throw a ball straight? And we would keep on losing, but differently? And the Tigers would switch between these two states, the pitching-but-not-hitting state and the hitting-but-not-pitching state, over and over again, and they would thus manage to avoid any possibility of a win?

Poor Nate especially. This happened to him SO many times last year… he’s probably getting Vietnam-style flashbacks about it right now, of the “nooooooooo not again!” variety.

I know we’ve got a small sample size here, but that’s what this is starting to feel like. I don’t like it. It’s too much like regressing to the barely-.500 Tigers teams of not that long ago.

Sigh. Hopefully coming home to Detroit will get everyone’s head on straight again. The weather’s a lot better now, they have no excuse. Anyways.

Today, as everyone who has watched anything to do with baseball in recent weeks knows, is the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball. Lots of players are wearing Jackie’s number 42 in his honor, something that’s pretty cool for most teams, and incredibly confusing for teams like the Dodgers who have every single player wearing it, and, since they’re home, no names on the backs of their jerseys.

(Can you imagine trying to score that game? If you’re like me, you use numbers to indicate who does what… like, if Brandon Inge moves a runner up to second base with a hit, that player’s trail to second in his little box gets a 15 above it. Trying to work that with everyone numbered 42… oy.)

The Tigers who wore it today were Granderson, Craig, Sheffield, Pudge, and Lloyd McClendon. Since Maggs got his leg sliced up by Marcus Thames’ flying broken bat the other day (which… yeah, let’s not even get into that), he spent the game at DH and Sheff got the start in the outfield…. making for an entire outfield of 42s.

I’m watching the Dodgers/Padres game right now, and they’re having a bunch of people in the studio with Morgan and Miller, including Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, and Rachel Robinson (Jackie’s widow). Mrs. Robinson was my absolute favorite… I didn’t take notes or anything, but she was simply a delight to listen to. She was also blatantly rooting for the Dodgers and expressed her hatred of both the Giants and the Yankees, effectively endearing herself to me forever.

The Civil Rights game was a bit absurd (mostly because it featured the Cleveland Indians, i.e. the most blatantly racist mascot around), but I have to admit that today has been pretty cool. Allowing players to wear the number was a good idea, and we all owe Ken Griffey Jr. an impressed nod for thinking of it. Mrs. Robinson said that she really enjoyed it, because she had been wary of the idea of retiring his number in the first place… she had wanted players to be able to choose to wear his number, not for the number to be put away.

A noble impulse, I think we’ll all agree, but I reckon this makes the number more special and, given what Jackie went through, it deserves to be treated particularly well. For once, Major League Baseball handled a big event properly, and for once the announcers treated their guests properly– by letting them tell stories and just bang on for a bit. Golf claps all ’round.

As a curious little sidenote to all this, I heard a rumor that Brandon Inge had wanted to wear 42 today and was told he couldn’t. This can’t be a white guy thing, ’cause there are plenty of white players (or Hispanic players, and I think maybe even some Asian players(?)) wearing the number today… right? Can anyone deny or confirm and explain this?

the glory of Tigers past


photo by Samara Pearlstein

Roar of the Tigers went a-field-trippin’ yesterday, as you can probably tell from these shots, to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Dork that I am, I have a ton of photos of Red Sox things, Tigers things, and Sandy Koufax things. But I especially wanted to talk about these two particular items.

The shiny blue deal up top is the 1984 World Series ring. It’s a pretty simple design: just a little diamond representation of the infield set in blue….something, enamel I guess. Compared to some of the later rings it’s downright sedate (especially the ’03 Marlins ring, which is about the size of my entire fist). Mostly it’s notable because it’s the last one we’ve got, of course. When we win our next one, I hope the designers go this route instead of in the garish use-as-many-rocks-as-is-humanly-or-inhumanly-possible direction. Take note for next season, greater Detroit-area jewelers.


photo by Samara Pearlstein

What I really want to mention is this cover for a program from the 1945 World Series, because it is the height of awesome. I am now going to geek out as only an art student can, so feel free to zone and just gaze upon the pretty.

First off, ILLUSTRATION. YES. YESSSSSSSSSSS. Baseball programs these days, 99% of the time, have either a photo or a stark logo that’s been vectored all to bloody heck and back on the cover. There is nothing wrong with photography and there is nothing wrong with a sharp logo, but this puppy is ILLUSTRATED and this makes me HAPPY. I love the style. That scratchy pen work is calmed down, visually, by the fact that there are only three colors on the whole thing, and really? If you’re going for punchy contrast, you would be hard-pressed to do better than black, white, and safety-cone orange.

Second. The fonts. There are three different fonts on this cover, and while I think it ends up being a little unnecessary (surely the stadium name could’ve been written in the same font as “World Series”, yes?), I do like them all. They are not ‘timeless’ fonts, but they set this little publication in a very definite era, and if you’re designing a World Series program, where the year very much matters, I think that’s a good thing. There is a lot of variation; they vary in letter spacing, height, line weight, overall letter shape, and so on. But since they’re all sans-serif fonts, it’s still not as messy as it could have been.

The heavy block letters used inside the baseball are necessary to visually hold the letters together along the curve they’ve been set on. More slender typefaces often look kind of cruddy on curved lines, because at some point the individual letters either have to give up their hopes of cohesiveness, or they have to deform themselves like mad to get wide enough to still hang together. NOBODY BUT ME CARES ABOUT THIS so I’m gonna stop now and save you all the trouble of reading it, if you’re still reading.

Third, the damn thing was only 25¢. I yearn for such times. Nowadays the only way to get a 25¢ program would be to buy a pen that costs a quarter and draw one up yourself.

Fourth, the artist who drew this paid such good attention to what (s)he was doing that (s)he drew an ACTUAL ADULT TIGER facing off against what is clearly an ACTUAL BABY BEAR. Seriously! Look at how small that bear is! He’s TINY! Looks a little underfed too. Whereas that tiger is enormous, bristling, stalking, roaring. Was there any doubt about who was gonna win this World Series? I think not.

(By that same token, you might expect a tiger to tear a cardinal to pieces, and thus would be confused about this past season. Let your mind rest easy, for it is simply explained. TONY THE RUSSA HAD THE BIRD FLU. He totally infected all the ferocious tigers and so it is that the small, feathery menaces won. Biochemical warfare. FOR SHAME, St. Louis, FOR SHAME.)

Fifth: Briggs Stadium! Hee. How’s THAT for a timewarp?

There were some other very stylish program covers as well, but I especially wanted to call attention to this one, because I thought it was especially elegant and, well…. awesome.

In completely unrelated news, tropical cyclone Bondo cracks me right the heck up.

8 Nights of Jewish Tigers– Night Seven, long delayed due to SCHOOL

Right. I promise this is the last long burst of silence over here at RotT. I just had a settling-in period, what with the new semester and all, and new classes, and new professors to glare suspiciously at for a while until you learn how well they’re likely to react to a nonsensical baseball reference made in the middle of class (photography prof: amused by it all. biopsych GSI: humorless. and so on).

But now I’m back in the swing of things, and things, therefore, shall swing with greater regularity over here.

Elliott Maddox

Actually, this was a photo of him in a Yankee uniform. I couldn’t find any shots of him in Tiger gear during my (admittedly perfunctory) scouring of the internet, so I just tossed him into Photoshop. Because let’s be honest here: no one wants to see a Yankee uniform unless they really have to.

Maddox spent much of his career in New York, as either a Yankee or a Met, but he got his start in the Detroit system when he was taken in the 1968 amateur draft. He experienced the glorious midwestern lands before that, though, as Maddox attended the University of Michigan, thus rocketing his awesomeness points up by about 5,000.

He only spent one year in the majors with the Tigers, during which time he hit .248/.332/.364. Maddox would never hit for much power, peaking in 1975 when he slugged .394 for the Yankees. Although he would come to be known as an outfielder, when he was with the Tigers Maddox actually spent the most time at third base, the next most in the outfield, with some scattered playing time at shortstop.

His fielding stats would seem to indicate that he was a pretty mediocre hand in the field, and sort of fell apart at the end of his career, but quite frankly I tend to view fielding stats with a deep suspicion, so who knows.

Maddox was not born Jewish, but he did convert (although not until after he had left the Tigers). It is the rare baseball player who is Jewish; it’s even rarer to find one who converts to Judaism.

After he converted, Maddox joked,

Instead of having everyone call me a shvartze [a rather derogatory yiddish term for a black person], they called me a Jew.
jewishsf.com

There was probably not nearly the same stigma attached to Judaism when Maddox converted (the 70s) as there was earlier in baseball’s history, but it still was not a decision that many would have made, nor is it a decision that many would make today. A converted Jew and a Wolverine… Roar of the Tigers salutes you, Mr. Maddox, most heartily.

8 Nights of Jewish Tigers– Night Six, long delayed due to LIFE

Yes, well, sorry. What with New Years and people from home insisting I be social (seriously, what’s up with that?) and coming back to Michigan and realizing with a deep sense of WOE that classes are starting right away, while there is still no baseball and football is winding to a close… I lost that sentence. Anyhow, we shall finish these up in a completely untimely fashion, much like Vance Wilson attempting to catch up to an offspeed pitch.

Dick Sharon

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Wait, what? Who? And what’s up with this 4th-grade-school-portrait-meets-balding-man photo?”

To you, reader, I say this: Dick Sharon! He was a right-handed outfielder who played for the Tigers in 1973 and 1974, which is before I was even born and therefore counts as ancient history. He never played over 91 games in his major league career. When he first came up with the Tigers he showed little inclination to hit for average or to take walks, but promised a flash of power (slugging .410 while only batting .242).

In the ’74 season his power slid down and he only slugged .295, something that I assume got him sent along to San Diego (the Tigers got part of a pathetic season of Nate Colbert out of it), where he played one last year in the majors and then twiddled around in the minors for a while, bouncing from the Padres to the Cards to the Rally Monkey Angels before finishing out his career in the minor leagues of the Red Sox.

As for the photo… if anyone can find me a photo of him in a Tigers uni, by all means, send it along. This was the best I could do without taking the time to photoshop him into a hat. Although I could do that. If I wasn’t so bloody lazy. Again, I think I’m channeling the current team. You can call me Dmitri Young here.

The point, though!

Mr. Sharon’s father was allegedly Jewish. I have no idea if he himself was raised Jewish, or practices Judaism, or raised his kids Jewish or anything like that. Most of what exists about him on the internet these days deals with his post-baseball fly fishing career. Which has apparently been quite successful… why, he’s even got his own fly fishing DVD out!

So let this be a lesson to all the hard-working AAAA-type outfielders in the game right now. Do your best, guys. Play hard and have fun. And when you retire, if you’re smart, you’ll have saved up just enough to spend the rest of your life relaxing in a boat, fly fishing. And maybe saying a little barucha over the fish, you know, if you’re so inclined.