Sunday Snacks: RIP Woodie Fryman, A Fantasy Camper Says Goodbye and More!

When I was just starting to collect baseball cards, the first thing I always did upon opening a new pack was to flip the card over to see if the player ever was a member of the Tigers.WoodieFryman

Because my memory latches on to such random things, I clearly remember when I turned over the 1977 Topps Woodie Fryman card and saw that he played for the Tigers from 1972-74.

Fryman passed away on Friday in Lexington, Ky., at the age of 70.

Fryman won 141 games from 1966-83 with the Expos, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs. He pitched primarily in relief late in his career, saving 17 games for Montreal in 1980.

Fryman had four career one-hitters – including a nearly perfect game when he was a Pittsburgh rookie. He gave up a leadoff hit to the New York Mets, the runner was caught stealing and Fryman didn’t allow anyone else on base.

In 1972, Fryman joined the Tigers in the middle of the season and went 10-3 with a 2.06 ERA for them, helping Detroit win the American League East.

He was elected to the Expos Hall of Fame in 1995.

I was too young to see Fryman work his half-season magic. Do any of you remember seeing him pitch for the Tigers?

  • My friend Chuck passed along this story which appeared last week in The Wall Street Journal. The piece focuses on Bill “Pappy” Holcomb, a 71-year-old retired autoworker, who’s ending his 22-season Tigers Fantasy Camp career.The main thread of the story is the aging of Fantasy Camp attendees:

    The Tigers this year had 190 campers, with an average age of 54. In 1985, the average age was 44. Teams that started their camps more recently tend to have a lower average age, around 50, but they also find themselves catering to older, more-infirm players.

    Be sure to view the slideshow that accompanies the article. You’ll see a photo that includes Steve Kemp.

     

  • In our most recent Fungo Flash Poll we asked, If you could choose one, which Tigers killer would you like to see in Detroit?
    1. Grady Sizemore (20 percent, 199 Votes)
    2. Denard Span (17 percent, 171 Votes)
    3. Joe Nathan (16 percent, 162 Votes)
    4. Jim Thome (13 percent, 129 Votes)
    5. Carl Pavano (12 percent, 116 Votes)
    6. Paul Konerko (11 percent, 106 Votes)
    7. Michael Cuddyer (9 percent, 85 Votes)

    Others receiving votes: Joe Crede, Luke Scott and, based on an interesting perspective, Todd Jones.

    I was stunned to see Sizemore earn the most votes and expected to see Konerko or Thome at the top.

    Thanks to the nearly 1,000 voters in this poll. Watch for another poll soon.

     

  • I’m still amazed that the Tigers cut ties with Jeremy Bonderman. As I said on the podcast last week, the Tigers could certainly use someone of Bondo’s caliber for spot starting a la Eddie Bonine or Chad Durbin, et al. Instead it looks like he’s headed to Cleveland and the Plain Dealer‘s Terry Pluto explains why:

    They did offer him a minor-league contract, but he rejected it. The market for Bonderman is slim because of that 6.50 ERA (and 13 HR in 73 innings) after the All-Star break — when his average fastball dropped from 92 mph to 88. The Indians believe fatigue was the reason.

    (snip)

    The Indians are looking at Bonderman because you can never have enough starting pitching.

    Apparently the Tigers think you can.

     

  • This story isn’t Tigers related but it’s fascinating nonetheless. If you’ve followed the Bernie Madoff story even peripherally over the past few years, you know the devastation his Ponzi scheme has inflicted on countless people.This article in The New York Times provides a window into Madoff’s ties to the Mets’ owners — and what role Madoff played in managing the deferred income included in player contracts.

Finally, if you, like me, are a sucker for the Dos Equis commercials featuring The Most Interesting Man in the World, The New Yorker introduces us to the actor who plays him.

Stay thirsty, my friends.

August 2 in Tigers History: How the Tigers Have Celebrated My Birthday

BaseballCandlesXSmall.jpgI thought it was my birthday gift from the Indians — Carl Pavano starting? That’s gotta be a win waiting to happen, no? No. Not against this mirage of a first-place club.

Some birthday for me. Actually, yesterday was a fine day and I never let the Tigers’ performance impact my birthday mood.

Because there’s absolutely nothing positive to discuss about the Tigers’ finale against the Tribe, humor me as I walk through notable Tigers games and events that happened on Aug. 2 since the year I was born.

  • Overall, the Tigers are 20 and 15 on my birthday; in seven years they didn’t play, including during the 1981 strike.

  • The Tigers beat the Twins 6-5 at Metropolitan Stadium on the day I was born in 1968. Don McMahon got the win in relief of Joe Sparma. Bill Freehan drove in three runs while the Twins’ Rod Carew went 3 for 4, of course.

  • On Aug. 2, 1972, the Tigers purchases the contract of P Woodie Fryman from the Phillies. Two days later, they purchased C Duke Sims‘s contract from the Dodgers. Fryman, just 4-10 for Philadelphia, goes 10-3 for Detroit, while Sims hits .316 for the Tigers in 38 games.

  • In 1975, at Fenway Park the game-time temperature was 103 degrees and the Tigers wilted under the heat of Rick Wise and the Red Sox and lost 7-2.

  • In 1984, I was there when Jack Morris out dueled Bert Blyleven as the Tigers beat the Indians 2-1.

  • On Aug. 2, 1985, Frank Tanana allowed one hit, a homer by Ben Oglivie in the 5th, and struck out eight on his way to beating the Brewers, 4-1.

  • In 1990, Yankees rookie Kevin Maas hits his 10th home run in just 77 at bats, the fastest any player has ever reached that mark. Big deal. The Tigers won 6-5 in 11 innings.

Thanks for taking the trip down memory lane with me. Assuming you’re still there. Hello…?

Friday Fungoes

thermometer.jpgWelcome to August! In the Phoenix area we ring in the month with 113 degrees…but a mere 20 percent humidity. The poor Tigers head to Tampa where the temperature and humidity are 86. God bless Willis Carrier.

  • So how did July end up for the Tigers? Even. As in 13-13. Here are some other tidbits that helped shape a so-so month in this so-so season:
    • Losses to the Twins on July 1 and the Indians on July 31 bookend the month.
    • Top hitter: Magglio Ordonez: .386; however he played in only 15 games. We’ll expand this to the two players that played in the most games last month: Curtis Granderson (26 games) .324, and Miguel Cabrera (25 games) .330.
    • Most hits: Granderson, 36; Cabrera, 25
    • Most homers: Cabrera, 8.
    • Top pitcher, wins: Justin Verlander, 4
    • ERA, starter: Zach Miner, 1.29
    • ERA, reliever: Bobby Seay, 0.79
    • Saves: Todd Jones, 3.

  • The good news heading into a new month is that the Tigers are just 5.5 games out of first place with two months to play. The bad news? The Tigers are just 5.5 games out of fourth place. Savor that for a moment, won’t you?

  • According to the results of The Daily Fungo Pulse Check unscientific poll, 57 percent of Fungo readers said they expected the Tigers to be buyers at the trade deadline, 43 percent thought the Tigers would sell. Interestingly, I noticed a mini-surge in “sellers” votes after the Pudge deal was announced. Be sure to cast your vote in this week’s new poll.

  • The big media outlets released power rankings for this week. The Tigers certainly have the look of a middling team according to:

  • Does anyone else feel like it’s Sept. 20 and not Aug. 1? This season is exhausting.

Finally, on Aug. 1, 1974, at Milwaukee’s County Stadium, Ron LeFlore made his major-league debut for the Tigers. Ralph Houk put him in the leadoff spot against the Brewers’ Jim Slaton and LeFlore struck out thrice. It wasn’t until his fourth at bat that he put a ball in play: a grounder to third baseman Don Money for the first out of the eighth.

The Tigers won the game 2-0 behind a masterful performance by Woodie Fryman: a complete-game one-hitter. Woodrow struck out 10 and walked three. Norm Cash drove in both runs with a solo homer and an RBI single.

Wondering who caught Fryman’s gem? Gene Lamont.

Have a great weekend.

Historically, Christmas Comes 3 Weeks Early for the Tigers

PORTLAND, Ore. — As we all warm ourselves by that roaring hot stove, savoring yesterday’s blockbuster and thinking about the holidays, let’s not forget the boatload of trades the Detroit Tigers have made on December 4ths of the past. According to the Tigers 2007 media guide, the team has completed seven trades on Dec. 4, beginning in 1952.Despite some recognizable names, nothing Earth-shattering:Dec. 4, 1952 — The Tigers acquired Bob Nieman, and infielder Owen Friend and outfielder/infielder J.W. Porter from the St. Louis Browns for right-handed pitchers Virgil Trucks and Hal White, and outfielder Johnny Groth.Dec. 4, 1963 — The Tigers acquired outfielder Don Demeter and right-handed pitcher Jack Hamilton from the Phillies for right-hander Jim Bunning and catcher Gus Triandos.Dec. 4, 1969 — The Tigers acquired pitcher Joe Niekro from the Padres right-hander Pat Dobson and infielder on Dave Campbell.Dec. 4, 1974 — The Tigers acquired right-hander Tom Walker and catcher Terry Humphrey from the Expos for left-hander Woodie Fryman.Dec. 4, 1978 — The Tigers acquired outfielder Jerry Morales and right-hander Aurelio Lopez from the Cardinals for lefties Bob Sykes and Jack Murphy.Dec. 4, 1998 — The Tigers right-hander Willie Blair from the Mets for third baseman Joe Randa.Bonus Deal! Here’s a trade the Tigers completed 20 years ago today, Dec. 5, 1987: The Tigers acquired outfielder Gary Pettis from the Angels for Dan Petry.