When an Oriole Tamed the 1956 Yankees

The sloping sig remains the same!

He didn’t do it in front of a home crowd. Maybe, it wouldn’t have been as much fun.

Don Ferrarese pitched the game of his life May 12, 1956. The Baltimore lefty sparkled in front of a Yankee Stadium crowd, handcuffing the Yanks on two hits.

Imagine hurling a no-hitter for eight innings against the Bronx Bombers. Ferrarese started the ninth by surrendering an infield single to Andy Carey (a college teammate), a sky-high chopper off the plate fielded by the pitcher. A broken-bat single over third base by Hank Bauer followed.

Ferrarese picked up the play-by-play, writing:

“The most intense moment was the ninth inning. After the first hit and the second broken-bat hit, Mickey Mantle came up with two outs. I said, ‘Oh, my God.’

He flied out for the final out.”

A 1-0 win, his first in the major leagues. Ferrarese was being followed on national TV, as was another nearby hurler. Across town, Carl Erskine was no-hitting the Giants.

(Thanks for the memory, www.retrosheet.org!)

Pitcher Don Ferrarese’s Nickname Revealed

Matching autographs!

Don Ferrarese didn’t seem microscopic by 1950s baseball standards. He stood 5-foot-9, weighing 170.

Ferrarese revealed how “Midget” became his short-lived nickname, writing:

“My teammate Woodie Held nicknamed me.


He saw me standing on the mound from the dugout and said that ‘Ferrarese looks like a midget out there.’ It stuck only for that one year (1959).”

The infielder died in 2009. Held held a unique perspective of his roomie.
Held measured 5-foot-10 and 167 pounds. Maybe, the nickname was issued in self-defense?
Tomorrow: Ferrarese recalls foiling the 1956 Yankees!

Cheers for a Father-Son Hobby Team


One of my favorite hobby stops is the Autograph Addict.

This site is the collaboration of father-and-son collectors Kyle and Tyler Smego. You might spot them at Camden Yards as many as 30 games a year.

Through the mail, they’re collecting memories.

In January, the Smegos posted 40 questionnaire responses, saying they had a couple hundred more. What’s the current count?

“I try to get these online as quickly as I receive them, but it’s hard to keep up,” Kyle said. “I still have, at least, a couple hundred more that are waiting to be posted. It seems like we get around 10-15 back every month though. In the past we have tried to send the same questionnaire out to all the players (Tyler made up the questions. We try to keep it questions that the players can quickly jot down an answer.”

These “autograph addicts” are gleaning great insights from baseball history makers. Pitching coach Ray Rippelmeyer talked about teaching Steve Carlton the slider. We all know how that experiment turned out.

“Ray was one of the longest letters we have received, but not the longest,” Kyle said. “We have received many responses where the player filled out our questionnaire and wrote a letter. Some of the longer responses include: Rippelmeyer, Duane Pillette, Bobby Shantz, Jake Gibbs, Ernie Broglio, Don Ferrarese, etc….even Phil Niekro and Tony Kubek. All of those guys wrote a page or two or three.”

The Smegos’ best-ever response?

“Our longest correspondence however has been with Ken Retzer,” Kyle said. “I saw that you blogged about him this week. He really is a great guy. He likes to tell stories about his playing days with the Senators, catching JFK, his family, and his business ventures. Over the past year he has sent several letters and included some neat items each time. One time he sent a copy of an old menu from his diner that he used to own (Home Plate), a couple of pictures of his family, some additional pictures of him with JFK, copies of all his baseball cards, etc. He plans on coming out to the DC area sometime soon and I look forward to taking him out to dinner.”

Kyle and Tyler are making the hobby their own. They’ve asked for suggestions for other fun questions they can be asking. Ask someone about what they think of when they see the photo on a certain baseball card.

More than 30 years ago, Twins infielder rolled his eyes and grinned while signing his SSPC “Pure” card. I asked him if he liked that card.

“I think they took photos on the hottest day of spring training right after wind sprints,” I seem to remember Terrell saying. “Look at how sweaty we look. Look at the other Twins cards, and you’ll see what I mean.”

What fun questions do you ask when you write a former player?

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