Friday, October 02, 2009

Pierre Exemplifies Spirit and Leadership

I have just received word that Juan Pierre has been awarded this years winner of the Roy Campanella Award. The prize is given to the Dodger player who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership once shown by our Hall of Fame catcher.

I can't think of any other player who deserves this the most.

From the press release:

In his third season with the Dodgers, Pierre is hitting .305 with 56 runs and 27 stolen bases in 142 games. The outfielder has started 74 games overall, 62 in left field and 12 in center field, making just one error in those contests. The Alabama native is hitting .300 (93-for-310) with 16 doubles, four triples, 41 runs scored, 27 RBI, and 25 stolen bases in those starts.

Pierre filled in admirably during Manny Ramirez’s 50-game suspension this season, starting all 50 games in left field and hitting .318 (68-for-214) with 14 doubles, 21 RBI, 16 walks, 32 runs scored, and a .381 on-base percentage in that time. Pierre also stole 21 bases in 28 attempts during the 50 games, good for a 75 percent success rate. The Dodgers went 29-21 over that span.

Pierre won the clubhouse nod for the honor in the closest balloting in the Roy Campanella Award’s four-year history. Beginning on the first day of Spring Training at Camelback Ranch – Glendale, Pierre wore a t-shirt that simply read “BEAST MODE” on the front and “24/7, 365” on the back. The slogan became an early rallying cry for the Dodgers and helped propel the team to the best record in the Major Leagues at the All-Star break with a record of 56-32.

Over the second half of the season, the 10-year veteran has established himself as not only the Dodgers’ top pinch-hitter, but also one of the best pinch-hitters in the National League. Pierre leads all Major Leaguers with 12 pinch-hits since the All-Star break and overall is hitting .333 (14-for-42) with two triples, five walks, nine runs scored, and a .404 on-base percentage in 49 pinch-hitting plate appearances.

Pierre is batting .317 vs. left-handers, .307 with runners in scoring position, and .366 against the National League West. The speedy outfielder stole at least 25 bases for the ninth consecutive season and is currently tied for fifth in the NL in that category, despite just 74 starts.

Off the field, Pierre continued his “ Pierre ’s Pack” community initiative this season in which he treated groups from after school inner-city organizations to tickets, a meal, and a pre-game meet-and-greet. Pierre also joined James Loney at the State Farm Dodgers Dream Foundation’s annual bowling Extravaganza in July as well as lending a hand to Orlando Hudson during his “Around the Mound” tour in May.

The above statue is not the actual award. It is a vintage memorabilia piece from 1956 called Big League Stars statues. It measures only 2" tall and uses the same mold as the Dairy Queen set put out in the same year.

Olympic Baseball, 1956

Did you know that Baseball was once an exhibition sport in the Olympics in 1956? Neither did I. It was one of two exhibition sports (the other being Australian Rules Football) to be featured during the games. Now, thanks to the folks at Walk Off Walk, we get to enjoy a video reel of the event.

Australian amateurs and America GI's with the United States Far East Command played a game in Melbourne, Australia on December 1, 1956. Over 114,000 spectators took in the 6 inning game as the Americans won 11 to 5. Of course, the event was held just before the track & field events, so it's high dubious to believe they were all there for the ballgame. In fact, the crowd was small at the start, but grew as the final out was made. Nevertheless, it rivals the recent Coliseum game in Los Angeles for the largest crowd ever. Go here for a roster of players.

YouTube Link: edestimo: