Results tagged ‘ Joe Lahoud ’
Fans of baseball in the 1970s and eighties will have plenty
of memories to draw from on June 21, when the inaugural Hall of Fame Classic
takes place here in Cooperstown. The list of
retired players who have committed to play in the classic–a seven-inning
old-timers game at Doubleday Field–continues to grow. Last month, the MLB
Alumni Association announced the names of the five Hall of Famers who would
play in the game. Now we’re learning the identities of some of the other
players who will fill out the rosters for the National and American League
The Alumni Association has indicated that it will place a
special emphasis on recruiting players with ties to the Red Sox, Yankees, and
Mets, the three teams followed most rabidly in the Cooperstown
region. With that in mind, here is a rundown of those players who will be
joining Paul Molitor, Brooks Robinson, Bob Feller, Ferguson Jenkins, and Phil
Niekro in Cooperstown on Father’s Day Weekend.
Bobby Grich: Of
all eligible players not in the Hall of Fame, Grich is one of the best–and one
of the most deserving of enshrinement in Cooperstown.
Hopefully, the Veterans Committee will one day put Grich in the Hall, on the
legitimate merits of his vacuum-like defense at second base, his keen batting
eye, and his surprising power, unusual for middle infielders of his era. Grich
also carried one of the best nicknames–”The Lizard”–during his hey day in the
seventies and eighties.
“The Destroyer” should find the short left-field fences at Doubleday Field to
his liking. It’s easy to overlook Foster’s contributions to the “Big Red
Machine,” considering all of the deserved publicity received by former teammates
Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Pete Rose. But let’s not forget his status as one
of the game’s great run producers of the late 1970s, capped off by his 50-home
run season in 1977. Given the Hall of Fame Classic’s slant toward the New York teams, I’ll be
curious to see whether Fosters wears a Mets uniform in the game. His days with
the Mets were not the happiest, especially in contrast to his prime years with
Lee Smith: The
king-sized closer has become a frequent visitor to Cooperstown,
though not as a Hall of Fame member. (At least not yet.) I remember the first
time I saw Smith enter a game for the Cubs; as he jogged in from the Wrigley
Field bullpen, he looked absolutely gargantuan,
a cross between a linebacker and a power forward. (Now I know how fans must
have felt when they first saw Dick “The Monster” Radatz.) Once Smith harnessed control of his
fastball, he became one of the dominant relievers of the eighties and nineties.
It seems like he pitched for just about everybody, most notably the Cubs,
Cardinals, and Red Sox, but he also played briefly for the Yankees during their
ill-fated run at the AL East title in 1993.
Jim Kaat: Like
Bert Blyleven and Tommy John, “Kitty Kaat” is part of a contingent of longtime
starters who fell just short of the 300-win club but remain on the cusp of
election to the Hall of Fame. Kaat did most of his damage with the Twins and
White Sox, but did pitch briefly for the Yankees in the early 1980s. After a
short retirement from broadcasting, where he excelled on the YES Network’s
coverage of Yankee games, Kaat has returned to the booth as an analyst with the
new MLB Network. Even though Kaat is now in his seventies, he keeps himself in
terrific physical condition, so don’t be surprised to see him log a couple of
innings in the HOF Classic.
Jon Warden: This
former Tigers left-hander pitched only one season in the big leagues, but it
was a memorable one, coinciding with Detroit’s
world championship in 1968. Though his career was cut short by subsequent arm
trouble, Warden has made a name for himself as one of baseball’s funny men. A
sort of modern day Joe Garagiola, Warden enjoys poking fun at himself, his
hefty physique (he’s the anti-Kaat), and any players who do anything the least
bit embarrassing during the Alumni Association gatherings. If the HOF Classic
has a “Kangaroo Court,” Warden will surely serve as the presiding judge. And,
much like Garagiola or Bob Uecker, he will get his deserved share of laughs.
Bill Lee: Like
Warden, Lee will bring plenty of color to Cooperstown
for the Classic. Always outspoken, “The Spacemen” has forged a reputation as an
idiosyncratic rebel and offbeat philosopher. He became a cult figure in Boston, where he
eventually feuded with Don Zimmer. After his major league playing days came to
an end, Lee has traveled the globe as a semipro pitcher, written two critically
acclaimed books, emerged as a star on Ken Burns’ Baseball, and even managed a team in the now-defunct Senior League.
Not surprisingly, Lee drew the ire of management and received his walking
papers after only a handful of games.
Steve Rogers: A
teammate of Lee with the Expos, Rogers emerged as one of the National League’s
top starters in the late seventies and early eighties, in spite of a testy
relationship with manager Dick Williams. Along the way, he claimed five berths
in the All-Star Game, a league ERA crown in 1982, and two huge wins for Montreal in the 1981
Division Series. Highly intelligent and well spoken, Rogers has become a high-ranking member of
the Players’ Association, where he reports to union chief Donald Fehr.
Though he had a name that rhymed with “scrub” and played much of his prime
years with some dreadful Padres and Rangers teams in the 1970s, Grubb was an
underrated offensive player who did well in a platoon role, usually as a
sure-handed left fielder. The owner of a lifetime on-base percentage of .366,
the lefty-swinging Grubb did his best work against right-handed pitching. He
lasted 16 seasons, long enough to earn an All-Star Game selection and pick up a
world championship ring as a backup outfielder for the 1984 Tigers. After his
playing days, Grubb served as one of Phil Niekro’s coaches with the Colorado
Silver Bullets, the now-defunct women’s professional team.
Joe Lahoud: Like
Grubb, Lahoud was a left-handed hitting outfielder who had to scrape for
playing time. Lahoud didn’t hit for average and had a reputation as a poor
defensive outfielder, but he did draw walks and hit with power, making him a
subtle contributor to teams like the Brewers and Angels. During the early stage
of his career, Lahoud found himself caught in the middle of the Red Sox feud
that developed between Carl Yastrzemski and Tony Conigliaro. Lahoud was
friendly with both players, but the clubhouse tension contributed to the trade
that sent him and Tony C. to Milwaukee
as part of the George Scott-Tommy Harper blockbuster.
Jim Hannan: The
former Senators and Tigers right-hander is best known for being part of the
Denny McLain blockbuster. Along with Aurelio Rodriguez and Eddie Brinkman,
Hannan went from Washington to Detroit as part of the
payoff for McLain. At age 69, Hannan will be one of the oldest retired players to
participate in the Classic. He’ll also be one of the most outgoing, an
energetic sort who has done some terrific work in building the Alumni
Association since its inception in the early eighties.
Other players scheduled to participate in the Classic
include utilityman Steve “Psycho” Lyons, now a broadcaster with the Dodgers, former
big league right-handers Ron Robinson, Anthony Telford,
and John Doherty, and ex-Yankee left-hander Dennis Rasmussen. An additional
five players will be added to the rosters for the Father’s Day game, with those
announcements coming over the next several weeks. As always, we’ll try our best
to keep you posted.