Meet Phillie Ted Kazanski, Boy Grand Slammer!

A half-century later, Ted’s autograph is the same!
Topps recycled his photo from 1954, right?

Infielder Ted Kazanski wasn’t the angry young man stereotype so common in pro sports today.

The Ballplayers bio notes that he was “one of the most highly rated schoolboy players of his time.” Kazanski reached the majors while toiling under the “bonus baby” banner.

Surprisingly, he had nothing bad to say about the press coverage he received.

“The press, for the most part, always treated me fairly, I thought. In some cases, they wrote about me in more complimentary ways than I thought was deserved at the time, probably because of their recognition of my youth and inexperience at the time.”

When 20-year-old Ken Griffey Jr. hit an inside-the-park homer, baseball historians looked to 1956. The National League had its own “Kid,” too.

“My inside-the-park homer came against the Giants in the Polo Grounds. What made it kind of exciting for me was that it was a grand slam and we won the game.”

Thanks to http://www.retrosheet.org/, the day remains!

Any doubts about Kazanski’s experiences as a major leaguer were erased with his closing:

“Tom, Thanks for being a fan of baseball. It’s a great game!

Sincerely,
Ted Kazanski”

Slugger Mike Sandlock Made Dodgers Move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles?!?


“Joke.”

I don’t get credit for that one. It’s from Mike Sandlock, yet another witty catcher.

Oh, the punchline comes last. Here’s Mike, offering a fun letter at age 94:

“Remember?!

My first home run in the Polo Grounds. I saw the ball go over the Chesterfield Sign.

Second? The one in Ebbets Field, that one hit the clock in center.

They couldn’t fix it, so they moved to L.A.

Joke.

Both off the same pitcher, Harry Feldman.

P.S. – I wish I could type??”

Why is Mike Sandlock on my heroes list? He is a World War II veteran who delayed the start of his major league career. He’s been a staunch supporter of the Baseball Assistance Team, getting financial aid to disadvantaged former players. Plus, I think he could go joke for joke against Garagiola, Uecker or any other receiver!

The Two Lives of Daryl Spencer


Daryl Spencer slugged his way through TWO baseball careers.
Some might remember the Wichita native popping home runs in the majors from 1952-63.

His baseball career rebirth came in Japan for seven subsequent seasons.

The generous former Giant reflected on both baseball journeys in a wondrous handwritten reply to questions. He noted:

“The home run off Don Drysdale (first by a San Francisco Giant) was the first HR hit on the West Coast in the major leagues. Opening day 1958. Also in 1958, Willie Mays and I set a National League record of May 12 & 13. We each hit 2 home runs in consecutive games. That is still a Nat’l League record. It was against the LA Dodgers.

I guess my most vivid memory of the Polo Grounds was our last game there in 1957. The Dodgers and Giants had announced that they were moving to California the following year. We players had to make a wild dash to our clubhouse (it was deep in center field) after the game was over. The fans went crazy. They were grabbing everything they could. I lost my cap but managed to get to our clubhouse okay. Today you see fans rushing on to a playing area all the time, but that was very unusual in the 1950s.

The Polo Grounds were very unique. The short LF and RF stands resulted in a lot of short home runs. I guess the most famous one was hit by Bobby Thomson to beat the Dodgers in the 1951 playoff game. And of course the great catch by Willie Mays against Vic Wertz in the 1954 World Series will always be a great moment in Major League Baseball.”

Tomorrow, hear from “The Monster” about one of Japan’s greatest stars.

Bob Usher-ing In Home Run Memories


World War II veteran Bob Usher claimed 18 career homers over a decade of major league service (1946-57). The majority of his playing time came in a Reds uniform.

He swung for the fences in some classic ballparks, but had to play the outfield in one maze known as Cincinnati’s Crosley Field. Between the defensive challenges, did he remember details of any favorite round-trippers?

Usher wrote:

“Tom —

Playing left field with the sloping turf was a REAL chore.

Three (home runs) come to mind:

a) My First home run. Hit it off left-hander Woody Abernathy July 28, 1946 in the N.Y. Polo Grounds.

b) Hitting a home run in Yankee Stadium off Bobby Shantz in 1957.

c) Hitting a game-winning 12th-inning home run on Opening Day 1950 off Johnny Schmitz of the Cubs.

All the Best,
Bob Usher”

The order of details can be telling. Who, where or when? What facts would you deem most important from your baseball milestones?

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