Harmon Killebrew + Uppity Ump Humble Chicago Hurler Ken Frailing!

Posted March 30th, 2011 by Tom Owens and filed in Harmon Killebrew, Ken Frailing, Mike Caldwell, Rich Gossage, Ron Santo, Terry Forster
Another matching autograph!
His sig still makes every letter count!

Pitcher Ken Frailing shared a sly sense of humor with me in his thoughtful reply.

While Frailing didn’t have the longest career, he spent it all in Chicago, going from the White Sox to the Cubs. I asked how it felt being part of the four-person deal to obtain legend Ron Santo on Dec. 11, 1973.

“Ron Santo was, and is, an icon in Chicago. We had met a few times. He was a great guy as well.

It was a real break for me. The Cubs needed left-handed pitching and I needed to be on another team. The Sox had great young arms, Rich Gossage and Terry Forster, for example.”

The Cubs got a quick return on their investment. Frailing worked in 55 games for the 1974 Cubbies. The stat shows just part of his workload, Frailing confirmed:

“I was up in over 100 games in 1974. I was tired at the end of the season.”

Frailing wasn’t an exclusive reliever for his new team. On May 27, 1974 (with thanks to http://www.retrosheet.org/), the lefty compiled an unusual complete-game win against the Giants at Wrigley Field. While he wasn’t the day’s most mystifying moundsman, Frailing put on a show at the plate: three hits and three RBI.

“I had a nifty 14-hitter and a complete game. I threw 158 pitches in that game.

I remember getting those hits and especially against a left-handed pitcher (Mike Caldwell).”

When Frailing summed up feelings about his career, he added one amazing bonus, writing:

“Baseball was a great part of my life. I really enjoyed my time and the memories are priceless.

Example: my major league debut in old Yankee Stadium. It doesn’t start any better than that.

Let me share one story from my career. 1972 — Chicago White Sox.

I am pitching to Harmon Killebrew. I got 1 ball, 2 strikes and throw a breaking ball over the heart of the plate. The umpire calls it a ball.

When the inning is over, I am walking to the dugout and the umpire meets me at the foul line and says, “Hey, rookie. Who do you think these people pay to see, you pitch, or Killebrew hit?”

I knew where I stood in the scheme of things.


Thanks for your interest. May God bless!

Ken Frailing”

Tomorrow: Happy 57th baseball anniversary, Tom Bradley!

Max Alvis Saw Few Dividends In Brewers Trade

Posted March 29th, 2011 by Tom Owens and filed in 1970 Milwaukee Brewers, Graig Nettles, Max Alvis
My Alvis autograph
on his letter is a
match to this card!

Max Alvis got in on the ground floor with Milwaukee. The new Brewers needed tested talent fast. How did he see the transaction?

“My trade to the Brewers was a surprise, but it probably should not have been. I had knee surgery in 1969 and it was untested, plus the Indians had gotten (Graig) Nettles. It should have been an opportunity for me, but I got off to a slow start and did not contribute much.”

I don’t think Alvis wants any sympathy, however. He concluded:

“I was a hard worker and I was always trying to improve, especially as a fielder. I enjoyed every minute that I was a major league baseball player and I have no regrets.”

I just found a memorable essay of a Cleveland fan who wanted to look like Max Alvis as a boy. Be sure to check out the prize package the Plain Dealer may offer this essayist: a Bob Feller autographed baseball and more!

Tomorrow: Rubber-armed reliever Ken Frailing remembers.

Run, Jim Kaat! Max Alvis Grabbed A Bat!!!

Posted March 28th, 2011 by Tom Owens and filed in Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Jim Kaat, Max Alvis, Todd Newville
As a kid, I thought the
Topps “Giants” set only
had the tallest players.
Alvis looks like he’s
ready to swallow
a whole baseball!

Pssst…don’t tell Cooperstown.

Voters have toyed with the idea of Jim Kaat gaining Hall of Fame membership. He’s worthy on many counts. However, he might want to leave his encounters with Max Alvis off the application.

Thanks to http://www.retrosheet.org/, I relived some of those 1960s match-ups. Of those 31 hits against the lefty, Alvis pounded half those for extra bases. I’m guessing that most of those nine walks were no accident, either.

The most remarkable part of chasing Mister Kaat? It was news to Alvis. He wrote:

“Jim Kaat was one of the greatest pitchers that I ever played against. Not only could he pitch, but he could hit and was the best fielding pitching I ever saw. It is a surprise to learn that I was that successful against him.

I must have been real lucky.”

Alvis is one of the decade’s top “what if” hitters. How many extra homers would he own hitting in a cozy ballpark, instead of Cleveland’s canyon-like Municipal Stadium?

“Cleveland Municipal Stadium was a big stadium. Probably because it was home to the Cleveland Browns, also. The park was not real Home Run friendly, but the great pitchers of the Indians probably appreciated that fact. We always had good center fielders who could roam that big space and protect the pitchers.”

Don’t miss “Max-imum Overdrive,” a fine tribute to the slugger written by Todd Newville.

Tomorrow: Alvis reflects on his Cleveland departure and overall career.