Monday, September 29, 2014

RIP, George Shuba

Former Brooklyn Dodger George "Shotgun" Shuba has passed away at the age of 89 at his home in Youngstown, OH.  RIP, George Shuba.  As you may know, he was recognized for the first inter-racial handshake in modern professional Baseball.  Per Mark Langill at Dodger Insider:
But the teammate was Jackie Robinson, the African-American infielder who that afternoon was breaking the sport’s color barrier. Photographers captured a smiling Robinson shaking hands with Shuba after Robinson’s three-run home run in the third inning against Jersey City pitcher Warren Sandell. Only seconds before the handshake, the Montreal third-base coach conveniently turned his back and walked away from the base. Shuba didn’t give his actions a second thought.

“Our teammate hit a home run, so I shook his hand,” he said. “It didn’t make any difference to me that Jackie was black. He was a great player, and I was glad to have him on the team.”
As I had written a number of years ago, Jackie called George later on to thank him.  This was his response:
‘‘He called me later and thanked me,’’ Shuba said. ‘‘And I said, what for?"... ‘‘I said, ‘Are you on our team? Are you on our side? OK then.’ ’’
Shuba received his nickname, per Roger Kahn, for
"spraying line drives (like when you shoot a shotgun) with a swing so compact that it appeared as natural as a smile".
You can check out his personal website here:  Per a Dodger press release:
It was George who extended his hand, "A Handshake for the Century", in offering congratulations near home plate to Jackie Robinson, his Montreal Royals teammate, who hit a home run on Opening Day 1946 at Roosevelt City in Jersey City.  Robinson, the African-American infielder, was breaking the sport’s color barrier that afternoon.

Photographers captured a smiling Robinson shaking hands with Shuba after Robinson’s three-run home run in the third inning against Jersey City pitcher Warren Sandell. (photo at top)

Shuba’s nickname was born after someone compared his line drives to the sound of buckshot. Shuba compiled a lifetime .259 batting average in 355 games with Brooklyn from 1948-55 with 24 home runs and 125 RBI. He was the first National League pinch-hitter to hit a home run in World Series history, connecting against the Yankees in 1953.

Shuba returned to Dodger Stadium in 2005 when the club staged a 50th anniversary celebration of the team’s first and only championship in Brooklyn. Twelve of the 13 living members attended: Shuba, Carl Erskine, Roger Craig, Bob Borkowski, Don Newcombe, Johnny Podres, Clem Labine, Sandy Koufax, Ed Roebuck, Don Zimmer, Tommy Lasorda and Duke Snider (the only player not present was Billy Loes).

Shuba is survived by his wife, Kathryn, his son, Michael, daughters Marlene and Marykay and his sister, Helen.

Funeral services are pending.

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Dee Gordon's a Diamond in the Rough - 2011 Topps Diamond Card

After most pundits and fans had completely written off the young Dodger infielder, Dee Gordon proved that he has game.  He started the spring season without a job on the Dodgers roster, but quickly earned a second base position with some solid preseason play.  Then, he rewarded the Dodgers faith by posting some phenomenal numbers to start the year.

During the months of March and April he slashed an astounding .344/.375/.478 and had thirteen stolen bases in fourteen tries.  He cooled off a bit the next month, but soon found some consistency for the remainder of the season.  All the while, his speed wreaked havoc on the bases throughout.  He ended up leading the Major Leagues in both stolen bases with 64 and triples with 12.

Even more impressive was how well Gordon played second base.  Considering that he had recently learned the position he still found a way to impress the fans with his range and guile.  It felt like every game he would make an spectacular play to get a key out.  Overall, he recorded only twelve errors.  

No doubt, Dee Gordon had become a diamond in the rough - which is a timely phrase to use since the 2011 Topps Update Dee Gordon embedded diamond "1 of 1" card had recently made an appearance on eBay.  Check out a pic of it above and below.

As you might recall, Topps made scarce diamond embedded baseball cards for every base card in their 2011 Topps set to celebrate their diamond anniversary - their 60th year making Baseball cards.  So far, only a handful of the Dodger diamond cards have been unearthed (I'm sure many others sit safely in private collections).  Go here to check out all of the other diamond Dodger cards I have found and written about.

UPDATE:  I think I spotted a grammar mistake on the reverse of this Gordon card.   Isn't it "where his future laid" not "where his future lied?"  Right?  My mind isn't playing tricks on me, is it?  I should talk, though, my gremmer is always in question.

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2014 Panini Immaculate Baseball - The Dodger Autographed Cards

Following up on Friday's post featuring the Dodger base cards found in packs of Panini's Immaculate Collection, here are the various autographed cards that are available.  Go here to check out all of my previous post on this set.

Below are the normal autographed cards, and as always there are several different parallels available.  They are: Blue #/10, Holo Gold #/5, Platinum 1/1.

Autographs Set

#44 Chad Billingsley (#/49)                       #55 Adrian Gonzalez (#/25)

#97 Clayton Kershaw (#/25)

There is one parallel available in the Autographed Materials set.  It is called Autographed Materials Prime, and it typically includes a patch or special relic piece embedded within it.  Below are the print runs:
  • #7 Darryl Strawberry (#/20)
  • #16 Gary Sheffield (#/1)
  • #30 Clayton Kershaw (#/15)

Autograph Materials Set

#7 Darryl Strawberry (#/99)                   #16 Gary Sheffield (#/49)

#30 Clayton Kershaw (#/49)

Below are the Ink Gold autographed cards, and there are several different parallels available.  They are: Blue #/10, Holo Ink #/5, Platinum 1/1.

Ink Gold Set

#17 Adrian Gonzalez (#/15)               #41 Darryl Strawberry (#/25)

#43 Clayton Kershaw (#/25)                     #49 Steve Garvey (#/49)

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Blog Kiosk: 9/29/2014 - Dodger Links - Dodgers Win Five in a Row

The Dodgers finish off the 2014 regular season in grand fashion - winning their last five games in a row. It is nice to have this kind of momentum going into the playoffs.

In the 10 to 5 win over the Rockies on Sunday the Dodgers hit three home runs; including a two-run homer by Kemp and a three-run home run by Adrian Gonzalez.  The third dinger was hit by Roger Bernadina; who surprised everyone with a 434 foot moon shot to right field.  Starting pitcher Zack Greinke pitched well in his five innings.  He allowed just four hits, one earned run and struck out six. Per an AP report on ESPN:
"I felt good," he said. "I used all the pitches; they all had some crispness to them. I didn't give up too many hard-hit balls, so that was the goal."
The highlight of the afternoon, though, was the dramatic changes made to the Dodgers coaching staff.  Clayton Kersahw took over for Rick Honeycutt as the pitching coach, Hanley Ramirez took over for Tim Wallach as the bench coach and Juan Uribe took over for Don Mattingly as the manager.  By the results, I think it's fair to say that they did a great job in their new positions.  The pic above features Uribe wearing a Lasorda uniform and Hanley wearing Wallach's uniform, via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2014Go here to see more photos from yesterday.

The playoffs begin for the Dodgers on Friday against the Cardinals.  Adam Wainwright is expected to start against Clayton Kersahw.  Below are some links to check out:
"You think you can do it and it might be easy, but now I can say managing isn't that easy," Uribe said. "I don't want to be a manager [after I retire]."
"We had pretty good success in Chicago with our energy, I felt like, without the BP," Mattingly said. "The BP gets to be one of those things that you do every day, every day, every day, and it kind of wears you down mentally. So really no BP has kind of been a mental break for us, I feel like."
"There was no particular rule against it," he said. "I just felt that was taking stuff onto the field. That was different than what was going on in the stands — the guy sliding down in Milwaukee, the [Phillie] Phanatic. Something that was happening on the field, I just didn't feel it was appropriate.

"But there was no rule written against it. So that's why it was out for one day and wasn't out for another day."
"It went very well. I didn't feel any discomfort in my shoulder," said Ryu, who hasn't pitched in a game since leaving after one inning Sept. 12 in San Francisco. "Very positive result."
“I think we’re going to be on TV next season. I really do,” Johnson said before Sunday’s regular-season finale at Dodger Stadium. “Just keep pushing them to make that happen. … They saw the response of the fans when they were on TV. Everybody wanted to watch the Dodgers.”

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