Tuesday, March 01, 2016

A Brief Look at Billy Holbert - a Late 19th Century Brooklyn Gray/Dodger

I figured it was about time I take a moment to highlight an old-time Dodger player; albeit a Dodger who only played 15 games for the old club.  Featured above is William "Billy" Holbert on an 1888 N172 Old Judge Baseball card that is currently available at BST Auctions.  He is shown bent-over home plate -- complete with an fantastic vintage "spider" style catchers mask and tipped-finger workman’s style baseball glove.  (Click on the pic to embiggen)

Billy is well known for several reason.  First, he was the favorite catcher to dominant Hall of Fame pitcher Tim Keefe when he played for both the Troy Trojans and the New York Metropolitans.

(Via DPL)
Secondly, Holbert holds an MLB record that still stands today.  In 2,335 career Major League at-bats he did not hit a single home run.  Zilch!  Nada!

He was the living embodiment of the no-hit, good defense kind of catcher. (Check out another card of his on the right from the same set as seen above)

Granted, he did play ball during the deadball era -- a time period known more for slap hitting rather than homers.  Still, you'd think with the large expansive outfields of the time he'd have at least one round-tripper next to his name.  BTW, Tom Oliver of the early 30's Red Sox owns the modern record for most at-bats without a homer with 1,931.

As a Brooklyn Gray/Dodger his time with us was largely uneventful.  Holbert came over from the NY Metropolitans as part of a seven player trade/sale. He would play in Brooklyn for part of only one season, 1888, and get into only 15 games before retiring.  As a Brooklyn player he would slash a measly .120/.170/.140/.310. 

After leaving the game as a player he would go on to become an umpire for a short time; including being an umpire for the short-lived Players League of 1890.  Billy would soon serve with the US Secret Service soon thereafter. 

Check out his career statistics below, via Baseball Reference:

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Dodgers Notes from Spring Training: Full-Squad Workout #6

Throughout Spring Training the Dodgers PR department sends out helpful daily notes from Camelback Ranch, and I am happy to pass them along.  See what they've written below.

(Ellis with the catcher signs, via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2016)

MARCH MADNESS: The Dodgers held their sixth full-squad workout of Spring Training today with some team defense work (pickoffs and rundowns) and live batting practice. Los Angeles, in its eighth season training in Arizona, kicks off Cactus League play Thursday, March 3 against the White Sox.

GETTING IN THE RHYTHM: Chris Hatcher, Brett Anderson, Ross Stripling, Luis Avilan, Zach Lee and Chase DeJong all threw live BP today, while Scott Kazmir, Pedro Baez, Louis Coleman, Mike Bolsinger, Jharel Cotton, Jacob Rhame and Yaisel Sierra all threw regular bullpens.
  • Anderson, 28, enters his eighth big league season after serving as a reliable starter for the Dodgers in his first season with the club in 2015. He posted a 10-9 record with a 3.69 ERA in a career-high 31 starts for Los Angeles and also finished with career highs in innings pitched (180.1) and quality starts (18). He led Major League qualifiers with a 66.7 groundball percentage last season and forced 23 groundball double plays, which ranked eighth most among starting pitchers in the senior circuit.
(Yaisel Sierra's first bullpen session, pic via Jon SooHoo on Dodgers twitter)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Newly acquired right-handed pitcher Yaisel Sierra participated in his first Spring Training workout with the club today, including throwing his first official bullpen of the spring. Sierra, 24, was signed by the Dodgers to a six-year contract last Sunday and pitched five seasons in Cuba’s Serie Nacional with Holguin (2010-14) and Sancti Spiritus (2012), going 16-21 with 25 saves and a 4.23 ERA in 131 games (25 starts). Sierra, who was ranked No. 13 on Baseball America’s Top 20 Cuban prospects list, pitched for the country’s gold-medal winning national team at the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games. Sierra will wear No. 70.

MIC CHECK: Dodgers broadcasters Fernando Valenzuela and Pepe Yñiguez arrived in Camelback Ranch yesterday, while Charley Steiner arrived to Spring Training earlier today, as they prepare to call the first Cactus League game on Thursday, March 3 against the White Sox. Steiner, a four-time Emmy Award winner, is entering his 12th season as play-by-play announcer for the Dodgers and will primarily call the action from AM 570 LA Sports. The 17-year Major League veteran and legendary Dodger, Valenzuela enters his second season calling games on SportsNet LA in Spanish alongside Yñiguez, who enters his 18th season with the Dodgers.
(Josh Ravin, pic via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2015)

GET WELL SOON: Right-handed reliever Josh Ravin was involved in an automobile accident yesterday and broke his left radius. His surgery was scheduled for today. We wish Josh a speedy recovery!  (You can take a look at his broken arm here)
THE BEGINNING: On this date in 2009, the Dodgers played their first-ever game at Camelback Ranch against the Chicago White Sox, with right-handed pitcher Hiroki Kuroda taking the mound and throwing the first-ever pitch at CBR. The club lost, 3-2, to their neighbors, who share one of the largest stadiums in the Cactus League.

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Blog KIosk: 3/1/2016 - Dodgers Links - Sierra, Maeda and Josh Ravin

Good morning, Dodger Fans!

Pic above via @Dodgers on twitter.  Below are more links to check out:

  • Amanda McCarthy, wife of Brandon, shared a pic of her husband as a young Dodger fan on Instagram (link here), so I decided to make a fantasy Baseball card using the photo.  Check it out on the right.
  • Yasmani Grandal made an interesting comment about pitcher Kenta Maeda after a throwing session yesterday.  Via Ken Gurnick at MLB.com, "Maeda unleashes 4-pitch mix in BP session."
"The reason I compare him to Greinke is that he's got a four-pitch mix," Yasmani Grandal said after catching Maeda's two innings. "Obviously, they are two different pitchers. But you can build a game plan around four pitches and be creative, that's the comparison."

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