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Continued: Down tradition avenue in baseball

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: July 13, 2013 - 12:53 AM

The Associated Press still sends out these league statistics, even though you won’t find them in nearly as many Sunday newspapers. The hitters are listed by batting average and the pitchers by earned run average for each league. There are a minimum of at-bats and innings pitched required to be among the names listed.

It was those Sunday stats that led to perhaps the best of all the great quotes uttered by George Brett. In 1980, he said, “The first thing I look at in the Sunday paper is who is below the Mendoza line.’’

This was a reference to Mario Mendoza, a light-hitting shortstop who often was stuck below .200 and near the bottom of the listed hitters.

“I got off to a great start with the Mets in 1982,’’ Gardenhire said. “The first week the averages were in the Sunday paper, I was leading the league, hitting .420-something. I got a scissors, clipped out the top few names, and still have that tiny piece of the Sunday paper.’’

 

8the baseball bible

The Sporting News was founded in 1886 and owned by the Spink family until 1977. It carried “The Baseball Bible’’ on its masthead for many decades. You could find a week’s worth of boxscores, and feature stories and notes for each big-league team.

I was a Sporting News correspondent for the Twins for a few years in the late ‘70s and into the ‘80s. By then, the baseball emphasis was lessened to some degree, and mostly what the editors wanted in the winter was a notebook.

Ron Jackson had come to the Twins along with Danny Goodwin for Disco Dan Ford in December 1978. His nickname of “Papa Jack’’ fit his gregarious personality. He had a good first season in 1979, and a poor one in 1980.

That winter, the TSN correspondent used a throwaway line about Papa Jack being more like Papa Up the previous season. And that spring, when I first arrived at Tinker Field, Jackson came roaring in my direction in a rage.

That was the danger of covering the hometown ballclub for the Sporting News — everyone read it.

The Sporting News’ de-emphasis of the game has continued until it’s more a baseball verse these days, with a website and publication heavy on NFL coverage, this century’s national pastime.

 

9collecting baseball cards

The basic of baseball-card collecting in the 1950s was to buy a Topps pack that included five cards and a stick of cardboard-like bubble gum. The heartbreak was to open a pack and find Wilmer “Vinegar Bend’’ Mizell as the biggest name … no Mays, no Mantle, no Campanella, not even a Moose Skowron.

Through the years, other card companies have surfaced, thrived and left, multiple cards were issued for players during the year by each company, and collectors moved to buying full, boxed sets.

Tsamis made 41 appearances for the Twins as a lefthanded reliever with a 6.19 ERA.

“I collected every Ken Griffey Jr. card I could get my hands on, and my brother collected every Frank Thomas,’’ Tsamis said. “I must have 30, 40 Griffeys; whatever companies were issuing cards, I’d get the Griffeys.’’

  • related content

  • Pepper was a popular warmup game. It required only a little space on the sidelines and involved a handful of players, one hitting the ball, the others fielding it and throwing it back to the batter. Some ballparks ban it now. Not that anyone plays it.

  • Keeping score is one of those baseball traditions that appears to be dying. Still, there are a few fans — many of them older — who still note what each hitter does.

  • Keeping score is one of those baseball traditions that appears to be dying. Still, there are a few fans — many of them older — who still note what each hitter does.

  • old timers game program from twins 1986 game at metrodome

  • old timers game program from twins 1986 game at metrodome

  • baeball cards - illo for pat ruesse story on traditions

  • baeball cards - illo for pat ruesse story on traditions

  • baeball cards - illo for pat ruesse story on traditions

  • Texas Rangers’, from left, Ian Kinsler, Gerald Laird, Hank Blalock and Michael Young share a laugh as they participate in a pepper drill during morning practice at baseball spring training in Surprise, Ariz., Tuesday, March 13, 2007. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) ORG XMIT: AZTG115

  • Boston Red Sox pitcher Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd pops up an inside pitch during a pepper drill at the first day of workouts at training camp in Winter Haven, Florida on Monday, Feb. 24, 1986. Boyd led the Red Sox in wins with a 15-13 record in 1985. (AP Photo/Peter Southwick) ORG XMIT: APHS412726

  • Maxine Putz, 92, keeps a scorebook whether watching the Twins at home or in person with granddaugher Megan Olson.

  • Frank Quilici, above left, and Jim “Mudcat” Grant, two former Twins, fooled around at a old-timers game in 1976.Former batterymates Yogi Berra, left, and Whitey Ford rode in a golf cart during the Yankees’ old-timers day last month.

  • Hall of Famer catcher Yogi Berra, left, and pitcher Whitey Ford ride in the shade of a golf cart before the New York Yankees 67th annual Old Timers Day baseball game Sunday, June 23, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) ORG XMIT: MIN2013071219200186

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