Talking with Johnny Grubb, Part II

JohnnyGrubb2.jpgThis is the second and final installment of my conversation with former Tigers outfielder and pinch-hitter extraordinaire, Johnny Grubb. You can find the first installment here.


Mike McClary: Heading into the 1984 season, was it a long off-season? It would seem like you would be chomping at the bit to get back on the field shortly after a little break. Was everyone coming into spring training raring to go?

Johnny Grubb: Yeah, I think so. I remember us getting Dave Bergman and Willie [Hernandez]. So they came over, and they fit right in with the team, too. I mean, we just had a good group of guys that got along, and Dave Bergman is a heck of a guy and so was Willie. So it worked out great.

MMc: Let’s talk about the ’84 season in general. Obviously, you got off to a great start, 9-0, and in the middle of that, Jack Morris throws a no-hitter. As you were getting older and becoming the seasoned veteran, were you really just enjoying about every moment of that season?

JG: Oh, gosh, yeah. It was fun to watch those guys play and every once in a while to jump in and do something myself. But it was a lot of fun watching Gibby and Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker and Darrell [Evans] — and Lance did a great job. And Howard Johnson had the great season for us. I thought he did a great job. And Larry Herndon and all those guys really did well in the pitching.

So really what I remember most about it is that I never really felt like we were out of any ballgame. Any lead a team could get, we felt like we could have a big inning and jump right back in the game. And we had real good pitching, so if we had the lead, we had Willie and [Aurelio] Lopez coming in to shut the door on them. The pitchers did their job, and the hitters did their job. And we just felt like we could win any game.

That 35-5 start really helped a lot, too. But I think that pretty much was an indicator of how strong we were because that’s pretty phenomenal when you think about a 35-5 start in the major leagues. That’s pretty good.

Continue reading “Talking with Johnny Grubb, Part II”

Birthdays! (And some history)

BaseballCandlesXSmall.jpg

  • Bruce Kimm, Mark Fidrych‘s personal catcher, turns 57 today.

  • Eddie Miller played 14 games for the 1982 Tigers and got one hit in 25 at bats; that’s an .040 average, folks. He turns 51 today.

  • Dizzy Trout was born on this date in 1915. The righty pitcher won 27 games for the Tigers in the 1944 season (and pitched 352 innings). Trout was part of a big-time trade on June 3, 1952. He was dealt by the Tigers with Hoot Evers, George Kell and Johnny Lipon to the Boston Red Sox for Bill Wight, Walt Dropo, Fred Hatfield, Johnny Pesky and Don Lenhardt.

  • Old-time Tigers outfielder Bobby Veach was born 120 years ago today. He played 12 of his 14 big-league seasons in Detroit and finished with a .310 average.

And these three nuggets from Tigers history, courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com:

On June 29…

  • 1968: Jim Northrup‘s third grand slam ties the major-league record for slams in a month (Rudy York, May 1938), and sets a major-league record for slams in a week. The Tigers win 5-2 over Chicago, as Denny McLain tallies his 14th victory.

  • 1984: Twins rookie Andre David hits a two-run home run off Jack Morris in his first major-league at bat to spark Minnesota to a 5-3 win over Detroit before 44,619. It is the only home run David will hit in the big leagues and stops Morris’ 11-game win streak over the Twins. Detroit wins the nitecap, 7-5, as Kirk Gibson starts the scoring with a two-run homer in the first and ends it with a two-run homer in the ninth. The Tigers also score in the second on back-to-back homers by Chet Lemon and Rupert Jones.

  • 1986: Detroit beats Milwaukee 9-5 in the first game of a doubleheader split, making Sparky Anderson the first manager ever to win 600 games in each league. The Brewers win game two, 3-1.

SI's Hall of Fame Primary

If you believe the voters in Sports Illustrated’s online mock voting, today we find out that Travis Fryman‘s Hall of Fame candidacy comes to a quick and painless end. (He’s not alone; get a load of Brady Anderson, Shawon Dunston and Todd Stottlemyre‘s, ahem, support.)

JackMorrisHoF.jpg

There are, of course, two former Tigers on the ballot that have a legitimate shot at the Hall of Fame: Jack Morris and Alan Trammell.

The debate over whether these two Tigers are of Hall of Fame stock continues to rage on across the Internet. Well, rage might be a skosh too strong. Simmer is more like it.

This morning the Detroit News‘s Lynn Henning revealed that Trammell reappears on his ballot in 2008. But what about the peeps? What do they have to say about who’s in, who’s out for this year and who’s out for good.

AlanTrammellHoF.jpg

You can check out the current results here (the ballot is open as of this writing), but in the meantime take a look at how Morris and Trammell fare in the mock voting.

Bottom Line: 85 percent of the voters think Morris is a Hall of Famer, and 58 percent think the same of Tram.

By most accounts, neither Tram nor Morris will be voted in this time around. (Nor will anyone else for that matter.) In time, though, Tigers fans can expect to see at least one of them enshrined.

The only remaining questions are: Who goes first, and is he elected by the writers or the Veterans Committee?

The 20-year career: it's the new 10!

You want some spirited debate (of the non-Iowa Caucus variety, that is)? Try the Internet. More specifically, browse the comments of any Rob Neyer piece on ESPN.com — especially when he’s writing about the Hall of Fame.

Today Rob raised a terrific Tigers-related question in his column titled: Trammell being unfairly judged? (Insider only).

Actually, he first points to an article on BaseballProspectus.com in which Joe Sheehan shares his mock ballot. Guess who ain’t on it? Tram.

Once again, Trammell’s candidacy is the most difficult one to evaluate. He was one of the best players in baseball at his peak, and was part of the bridge from shortstops as singles hitters to the better players we see out there today. On the other hand, he had a fairly short peak and a short career. I’m wary of the defensive numbers on him, as his home park was notorious for its high infield grass. With so much of Trammell’s statistical case built on very good defensive stats at his peak, the twinge of doubt I feel about their validity makes me nervous. My bigger objection, though, is to the way his career ended. Trammell was done as a full-time player at 32, which is awfully early for a 20th-century position player being pushed for Cooperstown. Like Rice, Trammell would have been a Hall of Famer with a more typical decline phase. Instead, he had 10.2 WARP, total, after 32. I’m leaving him off, again.

Whoa. The grass at Tiger Stadium is being held against Trammell? Who the —? What the —?

It appears Mr. Neyer isn’t sure what to make of it either.

[W]hile it’s true that a typical decline phase would make Trammell’s career stats look a lot better, I don’t think Trammell’s (apparently) atypical decline is a reason to leave him out of the Hall of Fame

(snip)

I am not saying that Trammell’s 2,365 career hits constitute, by themselves, a great case for the Hall of Fame. I’m saying we shouldn’t hold Trammell’s decline phase against him, because his career accomplishments are right in line with plenty of Hall of Fame shortstops.

Two, while I’m intrigued by the notion that Trammell’s solid defensive credentials — he won four Gold Gloves, and Bill James has him as a Grade B-minus shortstop over his entire career — are partly the result of the high grass in the Tiger Stadium infield, I’d sure like to see somebody do some actual work on this one. Yes, sinkerballer Walt Terrell’s home/road splits were massive when he pitched for the Tigers, particularly from 1985 through ’87.

Ah, Walt Terrell. Oh, and Sheehan isn’t voting for Jack Morris either.

As I said at the outset. If you’re an ESPN Insider, check out the comments on Rob’s post. Some people need to lighten up.

P.S. Happy 59th Birthday to short-time Tiger pitcher Ike Brookens, cousin of long-timer Tom.

The Non-Sequiturs: Holiday Edition

Let’s get right to the question of the day: You did send along birthday wishes today to Nook Logan, right? Tsk, tsk.

     

  • The Twins are quite a busy bunch this week with the Johan Santana discussions and the three-for-three trade with the Devil Rays. I read in the New York Daily News on Tuesday that the Detroit Tigers are a part of the Santana talks but, at best, on the extreme periphery.

    The Red Sox, Dodgers, Angels, Mets and Tigers are believed to be interested, though the Twins appear unwilling to deal Santana within the AL Central, likely taking the Tigers out of the equation.

    I can’t even begin to imagine him at the top of the Tigers rotation. You?

  • Unlike yours truly, ESPN.com’s Rob Neyer doesn’t believe Jack Morris is worthy of a spot in Cooperstown.

    I’ve made my feelings pretty clear over the years: if I were enfranchised [as a Hall of Fame voter], I would vote for Tim Raines, Bert Blyleven, Goose Gossage and Alan Trammell. Jim Rice is borderline; Jack Morris is not.

    To my chagrin, Neyer points to an article that offers a solid argument for why The Cat is not Hall of Fame material. Sigh. I’ve got more to say on this topic — and will soon.

  • On this date in 1967 (when Doug Hill was not yet six months old), the Tigers acquired RHP Dennis Ribant from the Pirates for RHP Dave Wickersham.Ribant, a Detroit native, appeared in 14 games (all in relief) during the 1968 season posting a 2-2 record, 1 save and 2.22 ERA. In 13 months, he was involved in four transactions — all involving the Tigers. Here are the other three:

    July 26, 1968: Traded by the Detroit Tigers to the Chicago White Sox for Don McMahon.October, 1968: Purchased by the Detroit Tigers from the Chicago White Sox.December 15, 1968: Purchased by the Kansas City Royals from the Detroit Tigers.

    As for Wickersham, his best year in the majors was with Detroit in 1964 winning 19 and losing 12 with a 3.44 ERA. He appeared in 40 games, started 36, pitched 254 innings, and tossed 11 complete games…and had one save.The next year he came back to earth with a 9-14 record but with a respectable 3.78 ERA.Who knew?

Finally, speaking of birthdays, Tony Giarrantano turns 25 on Thursday. Pudge Rodriguez has a birthday on Friday. How old? If you add the number of base on balls Pudge earned in 2006 and 2007 then add one, you’ll have your answer.