Thursday, May 30, 2013

May 28- New York Yankees



It’s a little weird to think that a full year has come and gone since I got kicked out of the MLB Fan Cave. Nothing about my termination surprised me; I had been telling the other Cave Dwellers that I was going to be the first person let go before the end of the first full week of the season. It was a damn shame too. The entire concept of what the Fan Cave is sold as is a fantastic concept; however, the execution has been questionable. Based on my experience, and the experience of others, it has very little to do with interacting with the fans. It’s merely a smoke and mirrors marketing ploy. I realize it makes me sound bitter, but nothing could be further from the truth. With the money I made in the short time I was there I traveled the continent, hitting 27 of 30 Major League stadiums, numerous Minor League facilities and catching an array of concerts. On my journey I made some amazing friends, got to meet some great players, got a few more MLB tattoos and most important, I met the love of my life Angie Kinderman (@sconnieangie). I’ve done my best to not rip on or really say anything negative about the Fan Cave because after all, I have nothing to give but my gratitude as none of this would have happened without my experience. I just really wish there was way more fan involvement with the outside, like I tried to and have been incorporating every day.

This particular hat carries quite a bit of importance behind it as it was involved in one of the last challenges we were assigned before the first elimination. The concept was that we had to take a photo of something having to do with Memorial Day and the person who received the most likes on Facebook would win. Not a prize or anything, just a win. I knew this challenge was going to end with another loss for me due to the fact that anything involving fan voting of Facebook was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I never finished dead last though; usually somewhere in the Top-four. When we had some time off we all went our separate ways, scouring the city for a great photo. Fleet Week happened to be going on in New York City so a few of the other Cave Dwellers made sure to include men and women in uniform in their photos. I really had no idea what I wanted to do so I went over to the New Era Flagship store across the street from the Fan Cave to mull it over.

Now, I’ve been a novice photographer for years. I’ve taken quite a few classes for a number of years on the subject. Hell, I used to be able to develop my own photos. I bring this up because a lot of you who may follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook have probably seen a few of my photos. Actually, if you read my blog you see my photos every time. I need to point out that in almost every case I don’t try to take a Pulitzer Prize worthy photo; however, sometimes I do. As I was walking through the shop I was talking with the store manager Antoine, asking how he had been. You know, being friendly. I had my camera in my hand but I couldn’t find anything in there to shoot. Plus, the camera I was using was a Sony Powershot, not even one of my fancier cameras. As I said my goodbyes to Antoine and the staff I noticed the new Stars and Stripes display they had on the wall in the front of the store. I missed it when I walked it, but I definitely saw it on the way out. It was a block of cubby holes, all of which had New York Mets and New York Yankees hats inside of them. I couldn’t tell you why, but as I really took my time to look over the display and imagine popped into my head from an article I had read in my media ethics class at the University of Oregon. The article, from 2009, talks about the ban that was lifted after 18 years which prevented media organizations from showing photos of caskets containing soldiers who had dies during war. This topic is an interesting paradox because politicians were basically preventing the public from seeing the real casualties of war. The photo shown in the article I linked is a different one than what I saw, but still the same concept. As I looked at the hats on the wall I had an idea of telling a story through a photo, like I always do; however, this contest was strictly photos, no captions. So, with that in mind, I took this.

This photo was not cropped; I had to line it up perfectly without the use of a tripod. As I mentioned above, we were using Sony cameras, and I could have taken a much better photo with my camera. What you’re seeing, or at least my interpretation of it is a casket and the light shining above it Heaven. Upon looking at multiple photos of caskets being transported back from Iraq and Afghanistan there was almost always a common thing shown in all of them; closed in, almost claustrophobic shots with a light coming from above. I thought that this display was a perfect representation, especially with the tie-in with the Memorial Day theme. I took about 22 shots. Yes, 22, and yet with that camera this was the best I could get.

We weren’t allowed to use Photoshop or any doctoring program, so I was a bit out of luck on cleaning this photo up. Maybe I’m being too critical. Anyway, I emailed my photo in and didn’t tell anyone about it except for Tyler Hissey, the guy in charge of the Fan Cave Twitter account and Facebook page. The only reason I brought it up to him was because I was working on an article about the hats, covering their purpose and how the proceeds go to Welcome Back Veterans. You know what, here’s what I wrote…

 For those who know me really well, it’s almost a given that I rarely go anywhere without a New Era MLB cap. Not only is it incredibly stylish, it also serves as a beacon for what I’m most passionate about: baseball. Baseball is more than a game; it’s a symbol of what make our country great. Baseball is fair. Baseball is just. And most importantly, baseball has been a positive token for our brothers and sisters who have fought for our country since the Civil War and served as an icon of goodwill when spreading diplomacy with other nations.

Since 2008 New Era has produced caps for all 30 Major League teams for both players and fans to celebrate our love of the game and our love of our country for Memorial Day and the 4th of July. In each of the past few years New Era released a white front panel with a red or navy back panel, and the logo for each team encapsulating the stars and stripes. In all years the proceeds went to Welcome Back Veterans, a program which addresses the needs of returning American Veterans and their families. For 2012 New Era is releasing a new design.

The panels of the new caps are of the traditional team colors for all 30 clubs; however the inside of each logo is filled with a digital camouflage appliqué similar to that of the uniforms worm by the men and women who serve. As the son of a veteran I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to those who give their time and their lives for the values and livelihood we all hold sacred; a fitting tribute to those who watch and play the game as we do, and yearn to come home to watch the games with their friends and family. This Memorial Day I will be proud to represent my team, but more importantly, I will be proud to give back and represent those who give everything they have.

Once again, for what it was, it was pretty good. Now, as soon as I told him this he then told me, “Oh that’s great. It’ll be good to get a second perspective.” The word second confused me, so I asked him to elaborate. This is when he told me that Kyle Thompson, the St. Louis Cardinals fan, had all ready done an article, but Hissey was really happy I did one too. Well, no shit I was going to write one. I don’t mean to get territorial, but in this case everyone who knew me, including the fine folks at New Era, all knew that wearing, writing and talking about New Era Caps was what I loved to do. Almost everyone else in the Fan Cave had at least one New Era Cap. Kyle had two; I was sitting on about 174 at the time. Soooooooo… I was a bit irked that Kyle would go behind my back and do that. This of course was a common theme for me as I assisted (or had other material stolen by) other people (mostly Kyle) throughout the two-and-a-half months I was there, and yet, I was not “contributing creatively” enough. Ummmmmmm… yaaaaaahhhh…

The Yankees have always had a longstanding, solid relationship with our nation’s military. I mean, with a name like Yankees it’s hard to shake. This last week a member of the front office was honored with a tremendous medal from the US Army in gratitude and tribute of all the hard work she had been doing since 1985. Senior Vice President of Marketing Deborah A. Tymon received the "Outstanding Civilian Service Award" from in recognition of her decades of service in support of the military. The award is the third-highest public service honor the U.S. Army can bestow upon a civilian.

Since joining the New York Yankees front office in 1985, Tymon has spearheaded many of the Yankees' initiatives involving the military and veterans. Among her many accomplishments, Tymon has been instrumental in developing the Yankees' close relationship with the Wounded Warrior Project, making injured veterans the focus of hundreds of public and private ceremonies and events. She has also been a regular contributor to the Wounded Warriors' annual Soldier Ride.

Tymon has organized the donation of thousands of tickets to active military members and veterans and was deeply involved in the creation of Military Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium.

On behalf of the Yankees, Tymon has led the effort to deliver thousands of care packages, including clothing, snacks, books and memorabilia, to active servicemen and servicewomen in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most recently, she worked with the USO to send thousands of gift packages to soldiers in the Middle East last holiday season.
"I'm incredibly honored and overwhelmed," Tymon said. "Over the years, I have had the great privilege of meeting countless members of the armed services. Their stories of sacrifice always leave me breathless. It has been an honor for me to give back to them with the support of the Yankees and show them the appreciation they deserve."

Tymon's father, James Tymon, served in the 6th Marine Division and 29th Regiment during the Battle of Okinawa in World War II. –newyorkyankees.com

Since 1971 the Yankees have gone 23-18 while only missing three games on Memorial Day due to travel or days off. Surprisingly there isn’t really much to say in regard to patterns or teams faced other than the fact that they’re 4-1 against the Boston Red Sox and 0-3 against the Baltimore Orioles on Memorial Day. Sorry. I though I was going to find more.

After combing through record books and biography pages I picked a few solid, “lesser-known” members of the Yankees in which to pay tribute to with my marks. Some of you may not agree with my choices, no matter. I have my reasons and stick to my guns.

#8- He started out as #10 for his first year in the Majors 1929, but changed to #8 in 1930, which he kept until his final game in 1946. No, it’s not Yogi Berra. Prior to a few months ago I really didn’t know too much about this player other than his name, team he played for and a few notable moments throughout his playing career and I really have my friend Vanessa Demske (@vdemske) to thank for sparking my curiosity. See, Vanessa was a Top-30 finalist in this year’s production of the MLB Fan Cave as the representative for the Oakland Athletics, much like myself. We chatted a bit on Twitter and such during her campaign, but we became really good friends when we got together for Opening Day down in Oakland after she, unfortunately, didn’t make the final cut. Now, you’re probably wondering where I’m going with this, well, like myself, Vanessa has a few MLB tattoos herself; two of which I will cover in these blog posts. The first, of which is a full portrait of this particular player, Bill Dickey.

Dickey was Vanessa’s grandmother’s favorite player, and even though we didn’t go into much detail about that, I can confidently assume that Vanessa and her grandmother were really close.

Dickey made his major-league debut at Yankee Stadium on August 15, 1928, subbing for Benny Bengough.   He broke into the hit column nine days later, on August 24, with a triple off George Blaeholder of the St. Louis Browns. Dickey played in ten games to close out the year and was a spectator as the Yankees won their third straight pennant and swept the Cardinals to take their second World Series in a row.

The 1929 season began the transition from the famed Murderers’ Row teams that had dominated the American League in the late 1920s to the Bronx Bombers era of the ’30s.   As great as the Yankees were during the Murderers’ Row period, they were relatively weak at one position, catcher. Benny Bengough, John Grabowski, and Pat Collins shared the catching duties, but none of the three stepped up to take ownership of the position.   Dickey’s arrival changed that; all three were gone from the Yankees roster within two years. “He’s going to be a great one,” Yankees manager Miller Huggins predicted of Dickey. Indeed, starting in 1929, Dickey caught in at least 100 games for the next 13 seasons. –Joseph Wancho SABR Project

Dickey played for 17 seasons from his 10 games in 1928 until the end of the season in 1946. As a catcher he is still one of the greatest hitter of all-time, batting .313 lifetime with 202 home runs and 1969 hits under his belt. While this may not seem like much for 17 years, something you need to take into account is that he did not play every game of each season. During his peak years (1929-1941) Dickey only averaged 119 games a season; the highest point being 140 games in 1937 and the lowest point being 104 games in 1934. From 1933-1946 Dickey made the All-Star team every season except 1935 and 1944-1945. From 1936-1939 he finished in the Top-six for the American League MVP award, the most notable being 1938 when he finished in second place behind Jimmie Foxx of the Red Sox after going .313/27/115. Foxx went .349/50/175 in 14 more games; no argument here. Dickey played in eight World Series, winning seven. He would win seven more as a coach from 1949-1956. In 1,708 games behind the plate, his fielding percentage was .988. His career batting average was .313, and he owned a .382 on-base percentage. In 6,300 career at-bats, Dickey struck out only 289 times.  

Dickey entered the Navy on June 3, 1944, with the rank of lieutenant junior grade. He served as an athletic officer in the Pacific and managed the Navy team that won the 1944 Service World Series in Hawaii. He was honorably discharged in 1945.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America in 1954, his 10th year on the ballot. Dickey passed away at the age of 86 in 1993.

Perhaps the greatest compliment that can be bestowed on a player is one that comes from a fellow Hall of Famer from a rival team, “Bill Dickey is the best (catcher) I ever saw,” said Cleveland Indians pitcher Bob Feller. “He was as good as anyone behind the plate, and better with the bat. There are others I’d include right behind Dickey, but he was the best all-around catcher of them all. I believe I could have won 35 games if Bill Dickey was my catcher.”

#42- No, this is not Mariano Rivera. Lt. Colonel Jerry Coleman was born on September 14, 1924 in San Jose, California.  He joined the United States Marine Corps and began his military career on October 23, 1942, as a naval aviation cadet in the V-5 program in San Francisco, California.  After going through pilot training in Colorado, Texas, and North Carolina, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps.  He received his wings of gold, signifying he was a naval aviator, on April 1, 1944 at Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, Texas.  He was assigned to Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida, where he was trained to fly the Douglas SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber.  He was briefly stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point, North Carolina, and then was transferred to Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California.  He then boarded a troop ship and was sent to Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands as a replacement pilot.

He arrived at Guadalcanal in August, 1944, and was assigned to VMSB-341, known as "The Torrid Turtles". He flew 57 combat missions, flying close air support, which VMSB-341 was the first squadron in the Marine Corps specifically designated to do, and flew missions in the Solomon Islands and the Philippines. In July, 1945, his squadron, along with other Marine Corps squadrons, was called back from the Pacific to form carrier-based squadrons in anticipation of the amphibious assault on Japan. With the sudden ending of the war in the Pacific, he remained stationed at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina. In January, 1946 he was transferred from active duty to the inactive reserve list, and resumed his baseball career, playing second base for the Yankees. –HighIronIllustrations.com
Coleman was originally signed to play for the Yankees back in 1942; however, he didn’t make his Major League debut until April 20, 1949. From ’49 until 1951 he had his best years, finishing third for the AL Rookie of the Year award behind Roy Sievers of the St. Louis Browns and Alex Kellner of the Philadelphia Athletics. Coleman made the All-Star team in 1950, the only time in his career. That season he hit .287, had 150 hits, six home runs, six triple and brought in 69 runs. From 1952-1957 Coleman’s playing time dwindled at the keystone after the Yankees brought up on of their prospects; a kid by the name of Billy Martin.

In 1958, Yankees' General Manager George Weiss named Coleman personnel director, which involved Coleman scouting minor league players. Roy Hamey terminated Coleman from that position, when Harney became the Yankees' General Manager. It was only after Coleman met with Howard Cosell that Coleman considered becoming a broadcaster.

In 1960, Coleman began a broadcasting career with CBS television, conducting pregame interviews on the network's Game of the Week broadcasts. His broadcasting career nearly ended that year; he was in the midst of an interview with Cookie Lavagetto when the national anthem began playing. Coleman kept the interview going through the anthem, prompting an avalanche of angry letters to CBS.

In 1963 he began a seven-year run calling New York Yankees' games on WCBS radio and WPIX television. Coleman's WPIX call of ex-teammate Mickey Mantle's 500th career home run in 1967 was brief and from the heart: Here's the payoff pitch... This is IT! There it goes! It's out of here!

After broadcasting for the California Angels for two years, in 1972 Coleman became lead radio announcer for the San Diego Padres, a position he has held every year since but 1980, when the Padres hired him to manage (predating a trend of broadcasters-turned-managers that started in the late 1990s). He also national regular-season and postseason broadcasts for CBS Radio from the mid-1970s to the 1990s. Coleman is also famous for his pet phrases "Oh Doctor!", "You can hang a star on that baby!", "And the beat goes on", and "The natives are getting restless". During an interview in the height of the steroids scandal in 2005, Coleman stated "if I'm emperor, the first time 50 games, the second time 100 games and the third strike you're out", referring to how baseball should suspend players for being caught taking steroids. After the 2005 World Series, Major League Baseball put a similar policy in effect.

He is known as the "Master of the Malaprop" for making sometimes embarrassing mistakes on the microphone, but he is nonetheless popular. In 2005, he was given the Ford C. Frick Award of the National Baseball Hall of Fame for broadcasting excellence, and is one of five Frick award winners that also played in the Major Leagues (along with Joe Garagiola, Tony Kubek, Tim McCarver, and Bob Uecker).
In the fall of 2007 Jerry was inducted to the National Radio Hall of Fame as a Sports Broadcaster for his years as the play by play voice of the Padres.

#38- This number only represents one year of this Hall of Famer’s career. It’s a lesser-known number he wore, the first of three to be accurate, but the first nonetheless which he wore in 1946. Lawrence Peter Berra, better known as Yogi, was signed as an amateur free agent by the Yankees in 1943; however, he joined the Navy not too long after his 18th birthday that same year.

"I sit and I thank the good lord I was in the Navy. We ate good, clean clothes, clean bed. You see some of these Army men, what they went through, that's the one I felt for." –Yogi Berra

In February 1944, he sailed for the British Isles on the USS Bayfield, where he was as a gunner's mate on board a rocket-launching landing craft in the D-Day invasion at Omaha Beach, "It was just like a Fourth of July celebration," he later recalled. "Being a young guy, you didn‘t think nothing of it until you got in it. And so we went off 300 yards off beach. We protect the troops." For the next 12 days his boat was ordered to shoot down enemy aircraft. On one occasion they accidentally shot down an American plane, but were able to save the pilot. He served in a second assault on France for which he received a medal from the French government. Berra also served in North Africa and Italy, and was sent home to the United States after suffering a hand wound. He was then stationed at the New London Sub Base until his discharge. Six years after his time in the war he received the Lone Sailor award from the U.S. Navy Memorial, an honor given to sailors who use skills learned in the service to advance their careers. The president and Navy Memorial CEO said, "Our honorees are living examples of how service to country changes lives and helps develop leaders."

On September 22, 1946 Berra made his Major League debut wearing the #38. I’m not going to focus too much on Berra’s career today, as I have some larger slated down the road. The importance of this; however, is that Berra was a budding superstar like a lot of the other guys throughout the history of war; he was still a prospect. Prospect’s weren’t protected and sent to play baseball for their branch of service. At any given time Berra could have been killed, but like the men of his generation, love of one’s country trumps everything else. I honor Berra with his original number because he could have just as easily not have been wearing a number altogether. In my eyes, he’s the greatest player to ever don a Yankees uniform, and one of the few people to ever really live up to that name, a Yankee.

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