Who’ll Be Next Non-Player in Baseball Hall of Fame? A Scout, Perhaps?

Pat Gillick gave me hope for the future regarding the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Would more front office wizards be honored? I think Atlanta’s John Schuerholz will have a spot in Cooperstown, someday.
Someday may not come too soon.
Or will it?
I asked Roland Hemond in a letter his feelings. After winning the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award, I hoped the distinguished GM might see a different HOF future. One that might even welcome scouts?
In 2013, he sent this most kind reply:
“This coming May 3-5, the National Baseball Hall of Fame will open an exhibit, “Diamond Dreams,” which will include scout reports from scouts that they submitted to their respective organizations. This exhibit will have a section of “who signed who” from way back. 
I hesitate to list my preference of naming my first inductee, as I want to do justice by awaiting the tabulations and making a very careful study.”
Meanwhile, enjoy one of the best bios of Hemond I’ve ever found, crafted by noted baseball historian Bill Nowlin. 
Coming Thursday: Remembering Bill Veeck

Brownie Babe Martin Compares Two Homers

For years, Martin has signed
with both names for this card!

Boris “Babe” Martin proved my theory.

If you want to get a rise out of a former player, go deep.

Getting deep is another story. I’m talking long-balls, dingers…homers!

Martin had two in his career. He wrote:

Homer off Allen Gettel was a home run right on the line and off the handle of my bat, only about 295 feet.

Homer #2 was really a long one in left center field just ot the left of the bullpen, and I would say close to 400 feet. I forgot the name of the pitcher. Thanks for asking.

Babe Martin”

Thankfully, http://www.retrosheet.org/ remembers. Good job, guys! Martin connected off Hank Borowy, who won 21 games that year. Both homers were off Yankee hurlers in Yankee Stadium in 1945.

Enjoy this superb SABR biography of Martin by noted researcher Bill Nowlin.

Minnesota Skipper Sam Mele Remembers White Sox Roadblock En Route to 1965 World Series

Tattoo, or did Mele catch
a fastball on the bicep?

Sam Mele was Minnesota’s first Tom Kelly. Manager Mele turned the Twins into near World Champions in 1965.

I asked him when his thoughts changed from “good team” to “World Series bound.” He replied:

“Had a series with the White Sox and beat them. That gave us the lead.”

Mele’s baseball bloodline can be traced to Uncle Tony Cuccinello. I asked what special education he received as a nephew.

“All the fundamentals of baseball.”

Mele’s fame as Minnesota skipper followed a tidy 10-year career as a hard-working outfielder. His headline-grabbing moment as a hitter came in 1953, compiling a 22-game hitting streak.

I asked if there was one toughest game in which his streak was in doubt.

“Facing Yankee pitcher Allie Reynolds.”

A full look at Mele’s life in baseball is provided by writer Bill Nowlin’s wonderful biography, found on the SABR website.

Hollywood, Remember Pitcher Lou Brissie!

To get through the long winter, I seek out baseball movies and documentaries. Here’s one that needs to be made: The Lou Brissie Story.

Everyone knows (or should know) the story of Lou Brissie, the World War II veteran who won the Purple Heart. He won my heart by continuing his dream of major league baseball, even after a wartime attack shattered one leg in 30 places. he became a 1949 All-Star, winning 16 games.

A great place to learn more is the fine SABR biography by acclaimed researcher Bill Nowlin. Then, check out the book The Corporal Was a Pitcher: The Courage of Lou Brissie.

I asked about a triple Brissie hit. (Nice work, http://www.retrosheet.org/.) Imagine legging out a triple with just one good leg. He replied:

“I do not recall the triple. I think the ball took an odd bounce off the wall. I’m just not sure.”

Brissie’s book details his friendship with infielder Hank Majeski. They stayed in touch for years after retirement, until Majeski’s death. Brissie’s tribute:

“Hank, a great player, came through in tough situations, Quiet but 100 percent all the time. A great person and friend.”

Can Brissie imagine a player today, someone who reflects the determination of his teammates like Majeski, someone he could even have served with?

“The one player I can think of plays shortstop for the Yankees, Derek Jeter.”

I was moved by this 2007 ESPN profile of Brissie’s devotion to soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Also, in Nowlin’s SABR biography, he reveals how Brissie nixed a movie during his career.

Red Sox Pitcher "Boo" Ferriss Says Thanks


As he approaches his 90th birthday, legendary Boston Red Sox hurler Dave “Boo” Ferriss honored me with a page of insights.

I asked about two subjects beyond the stellar stats of the pride of Mississippi. In the days before shoulder surgery, a 1947 torn labrum grounded Ferriss’s skyrocketing career. Fresh off a 25-win season that sent the BoSox to the World Series, Ferriss looked destined for greatness.

He began with a yellow Post-It note attached to my original letter.

“Tom —
Thank you for your nice letter. Glad to answer your questions. Keep enjoying our great game.
Best regards,
Boo Ferriss”

He found it waiting at Delta State University, serving as the school’s baseball coach. When the college creates a museum in your honor, you’ve had a good career!

Before his shoulder injury, Ferriss battled asthma. He wrote:

“It was difficult at times, more so in the late summers. The Red Sox saw that I got all the medical help I needed.”

Ferriss debuted in 1945, fresh from World War II service. Did he have time to think about baseball?

“Practiced on off-duty hours. In no way baseball interfered with our duties.”

More remarkable than two 20-win seasons in Boston is the upbeat way Ferriss remembers his brief time as a major leaguer.

“I’m very grateful for my years as a player and coach on the professional level and the colleged level. I don’t think I can repay baseball for all that it has given me. the endured friendships and associations are priceless.”

So are you, “Boo” Ferriss!

A great taste of Ferriss’s storytelling skills can be found in the fine SABR biography crafted by leading Red Sox researcher Bill Nowlin.

Ferriss shared a review of his biography, Boo: A Life in Baseball, Well-Lived. Does he like the book? Ferriss penned beside the name of Rick Cleveland, (the book’s author) — “Rick Cleveland, top sports columnist in Mississippi.” Find out more at http://www.booferrissbook.com/. What special connection does the coach share with famed novelist John Grisham? It’s all in Grisham’s foreward!
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