Just a couple of days after it was published Skinner was put in the intensive care unit after going into septic shock. An infection was discovered, then more than a week later he was flown by air ambulance to Dallas in hopes of undergoing a previously planned experimental treatment.
Imagine waiting three years for your one big opportunity. Then imagine knocking it out of the park on the very first pitch.
Jay Bell on 1988 Topps card #637
That’s how the first Major League Baseball swing played out for Cleveland Indians shortstop Jay Bell in 1986 when he connected for a homer off Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven in his first trip to the big league plate.
The irony was likely not lost on the baseball fans in attendance that day.
After being taken with the No. 8 overall pick out of high school by the Minnesota Twins in 1984 Bell was part of a minor league package shipped to Cleveland in exchange for Blyleven.
Cleveland also received pitcher Curt Wardle and outfielder Jim Weaver up front in the deal, and later pitcher Rich Yett. The man affectionately known as the Frying Dutchman would go on to help the Twins win a championship in 1987 just as Bell’s career was getting started.
Can you imagine how rare it must be to hit a major league home run off of the first pitch hurled your way?
WINTER GARDEN, Fla. – The No. 1 high school baseball team in the nation fell from the ranks of the unbeaten Friday as Orlando Olympia was crushed 8-4 by Apopka in the Class 8A, District 3 title game.
The loss means the Titans (25-1-1) go on the road in the opening round of the region playoffs. Apopka, which lost two games to Olympia each by 2-0 margins, starts the postseason at home with a potential rematch looming in the second round.
Olympia went 29-0 in 2012 before losing in the region championship game.
On Friday Apopka right-hander Nick Barber pieced together an impressive game on the mound until Olympia began rallying in the final inning while down 8-1. A double by Kirk Sidwell, single by Drenis Ozuna and 2-RBI triple by Juan Hillman was not enough though as Barber finished with eight strikeouts against six hits.
The No. 1 Titans became just the second team in Central Florida history to make it through the regular season without a blemish on its record. But it’s an elusive trip to the state final four that would be most satisfying as playoff qualifiers get underway this week.
The Titans face Ocoee on Wednesday in their Class 8A, District 3 opener, just four days after local rival Dr. Phillips had their backs against the wall late in the season finale.
Olympia scored seven runs in the final three innings to win 9-5 (in eight innings) and improve to 100-12-1 since 2012, which happens to be the last time Olympia went unbeaten before losing in the region title game to finish 29-1.
There’s one player that stands head and shoulders above the rest less than a week into the Major League Baseball season. On Wednesday, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez blasted three home runs in his first three at-bats to help the host Los Angeles Dodgers take two of three from the San Diego Padres.
Perhaps even more impressive is that Gonzalez has opened the season batting 10-for-13 with 5 homers, 7 RBI, 7 runs scored and 27 total bases. In just three games.
Gonzalez finished 4-for-4 Wednesday after going 3-for-4 on Tuesday and 3-for-5 on Monday.
Six different players have recorded six hits so far this week while five others have each connected on two home runs.
It’s to be noted that announcer Vin Scully mentions in the video above that the last player to start a Dodgers season with homers in his first three games was Jimmy Wynn, who played in L.A. from 1974-75.
Brandon Helwig of UCF Sports joined me Saturday to talk about the rising draft stock of former UCF wide receiver Breshad Perriman, the holes UCF is looking to fill this spring in the secondary and at wide receiver, and the current state of the No. 6 UCF baseball program.
Helwig rounded up the segment by talking about the upcoming UCF Athletics Hall of Fame induction of former football player Asante Samuel, football and baseball player Dee Brown, softball player Stephanie Best and the 1978 UCF volleyball team.
ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – When you’re the No. 1 high school baseball team in the nation, in both the USA Today and MaxPreps rankings, each game feels like so much is on the line.
Olympia won the Florida League High School Invitational on Saturday to improve to 17-0-1.
Orlando’s Olympia High School improved to 17-0-1 on the season Saturday while defending its Florida League High School Invitational title with a 2-0 win over Pembroke Pines Charter at Lake Brantley High School.
The national attention will continue to follow the Titans as they near postseason play.
“We try not to focus on that,” Olympia coach Chuck Schall said. “The rankings and all that, it’s always there, but we try not to let those expectations dictate how we play.
“Every time we win these close ballgames it just makes us tougher.”
Olympia is winning close games thanks to a stable of quality pitchers and equally impressive efforts defensively.
I was introduced to Redhook Long Hammer IPA at a Daytona Cubs minor league baseball game several years back, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Pun intended.
Long Hammer is by far the favorite of the four Redhook styles I’ve tried. It’s much smoother than the typical IPA and a perfect pairing for spring-time baseball in Florida. It also goes quite well with other things in life, but not all, as explained at the bottom of a sixer I sipped through.
Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio each were named to the Baseball Hall of Fame this week despite the arrogance of the very people that have covered the sport over the years. The Pro Football Hall of Fame also announced the 15 finalists for its Class of 2015, which will be finalized on Jan. 31.
As if being a first-time parent wasn’t tough enough, my 22-month old son greeted me with a new surprise in the world of parenting last week while we sat on the recliner together to watch afternoon postseason baseball. I’m still not sure if it was the actual act of puking, or the clean-up that followed, that nearly made me sick to my own stomach.
On Saturday Chris Vazquez and I talked about Major League Baseball’s postseason as well as upcoming college football and National Football League games. Vazquez also provided his weekly picks for fantasy football players and Baltimore Orioles fan Ryan McCall joined us to talk about his visit to Camden Yards on Friday.
The San Francisco Giants won World Series titles in 2010 and 2012 before missing out on the postseason a year ago. On Wednesday they returned in a big way with an 8-0 road win against the Pittsburgh Pirates for the National League wild card. The Pirates were playing in back-to-back postseasons after a 21-year playoff drought, but this time they barely put up a fight.
Madison Bumgarner was dominant on the mound, pitching a complete game with 10 strikeouts. Brandon Crawford took the home crowd out of the game early when he hit a grand slam in the top of the fourth. The Giants outhit the Pirates 11-4 and looked every bit ready for baseball in October.
As if getting to the postseason for the first time since 1985 wasn’t reason enough to celebrate, the Kansas City Royals won their wild card matchup against the Oakland Athletics in dramatic fashion late Tuesday night.
Salvador Perez hit a walk-off shot along the line in left field with two outs in the bottom of the 12th to plate Eric Hosmer,giving the Royals a come-from-behind 9-8 win over the A’s. Oakland led 7-3 after seven innings before Kansas City started chipping away at the deficit and eventually tied the game in the bottom of the ninth.