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?
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.
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.
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.
On Saturday we relived the exciting Thursday night effort turned in by Derek Jeter in his final home game at Yankee Stadium. We also touched on the Kansas City Royals making the postseason for the first time since 1985 and updated the final playoff push for MLB teams as the regular season winds down this weekend.
The Carnahan Chronicles weekly radio show on AM 740 The Game got back up and running this week with a number of topics from the world of football, soccer and baseball.
Producer Chris Vazquez joined in on the conversation about the Jameis Winston suspension and college football weekend, along with recent injuries in the National Football League. We also talked about the injury to Giancarlo Stanton and the postseason races in Major League Baseball after answering a call from Austin about the Orlando City Soccer Club interview with Dennis Chin.
It’s hard enough for players to hit for the cycle at least once in their Major League Baseball careers, never mind becoming just one of three big-leaguers ever to do so in both the American and National leagues. What makes the only cycle of the 2014 season so interesting is the familiarity involving a couple players and a pair of games.
While with the Brewers on May 22, 2009, Parra gave up three of the hits Cuddyer would need for his first cycle (while with the Minnesota Twins) before going on to finish it off at the Metrodome with a triple off of Jorge Julio, who had played for the Rockies two years earlier.
I was fortunate to be granted the experience of being a part of the grounds crew at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee during Houston Astros spring training games before the start of the 2004 and 2005 seasons. There was plenty of excitement surrounding that club at the time as they would make a run at the World Series before being swept by the Chicago White Sox.
Aside from working in the trenches with some great people, I was granted front row access to be around Astros players such as Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Lance Berkman, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, among many others. Not to mention the random run-ins with Nolan Ryan and high-profile players and managers from opposing teams.
As a life-long supporter of the New York Mets since way back in the late 1980s, I never got too excited about the Atlanta Braves making the crosstown trek to Osceola County Stadium to play the Astros. I could do without seeing Mets-killer Chipper Jones and manager Bobby Cox. But then one afternoon Cox softened me up a bit while his team took batting practice under the bright Florida sun. I’ve never been able to see him in the same way as I once did ever since.
If you’ve ever wondered what’s become of former Major League Baseball shortstop Rafael Furcal I’ve got some news to pass along to you.
I spent the past weekend in Jacksonville covering the U.S. Men’s National Team for Major League Soccer, where I wrote a number of stories over the course of Friday and Saturday. But I did other things while I was there as well, such as attending a Jacksonville Suns baseball game before walking across the street to EverBank Field for the soccer match.
Below are the links to all eight soccer stories about the USMNT from the weekend. The first story created quite a bit of buzz among soccer fans and media members alike, which makes interest in a Furcal comeback pale mightily in comparison. But while I was at the park…