Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Baseball Update (1971)

The Chicago Tribune was all excited about the Cubs, and Billy Williams ("HEY HEY ... HEY HEY ... HEY HEY ... HEY HEY") got things off to a good start ...

But it's the Giants who have been the big story of the first couple of weeks of the 1971 baseball season. Pat Frizzell has a story in the April 24 Sporting News proposing San Francisco's outfield--Ken Henderson in left, Willie Mays in center and Bobby Bonds in right--as the best in the National League. Mays is hitting .381 with five home runs in the Giants' 11-2 start; Bonds, .364 with four. 

The bulk of the  Frizzell feature is actually on Henderson, a 24-year-old who batted .294 last season, hit 17 home runs and stole 20 bases. Henderson says in the story that his dad taught him to switch hit in Little League back in San Diego. Henderson is the oldest of three boys, and the whole family comes out to watch Ken when the Giants play in San Diego. "We've always been a real sports family. My dad and my two younger brothers and I spend a lot of time discussing sports. My mother can talk about them, too."

Life is too short to do a sloppy job of labeling Blogger posts. Previous reports:

-- 1970 season
-- 1969 season


  1. The world champs are 8-2. Earl Weaver is starting Merv Rettenmund ahead of Don Buford in left field; otherwise, it's the Baltimore lineup that beat Cincinnati in the World Series. Dave McNally was Weaver's opening-day starting pitcher, which surprises me because I always think of him being the Orioles' at-best third starter behind Jim Palmer and Mike Cuellar.

    The April 24 Sporting News had an article about a Baltimore pitcher, Dave Leonhard, thinking about retiring and returning to Johns Hopkins to resume studying city planning after failing to make the Oriole cut for opening day. The Society for American Baseball Research has a not-surprisingly fantastic bio on Dave Leonhard. It turned out that he did not retire, and he apparently did not rekindle his interest in city planning. Rather, per the SABR story, Jim Palmer introduced Leonhard to his second wife on a road trip to Boston in the early 1970s, and then Dave and Doris Leonhard ended up selling Christmas trees in the baseball offseason and ultimately opening a flower shop and a bunch of greenhouses in the Northeast. I "liked" what I think is their flower shop's Facebook page today. Here's a testimonial: "I love Leonhards flower shop. The owner and the stuff is very creative and sophisticated in their work. There is so much talents inside that crew. Every time I walk into the store, someone is there to help me. They are committed to serve you ,the best way they can. Their store during the holidays is spectacular and all my children enjoy it." Good for the Leonhards, and good for Jim Palmer!

  2. Let me tell you something. I went to bed last night, caught a Mary Tyler Moore where WJM fires Lou Grant at age 45 and read a little about Tony Conigliaro (Tony C. The Triumph and Tragedy of ...; rest in peace, 1945-1990), and, boy, that is a dark way to go to sleep.

  3. Conigliaro is on the cover of the April 24, 1971, Sporting News. It's a total glamour shot--head-and-shoulders portrait ... ... twinkling eyes and 5-o'clock shadow ... gap-toothed, aw-shucks grin ... tousled hair ... OK, Tony, for this one, tilt your head to the left and look back to your right. Conigliaro is coming off a season in which he hit a career-high 36 home runs, and the 26-year-old is the Angels' starting center fielder and cleanup hitter. And Dick Miller's feature inside is just chock-full of tells of 1971/sexual revolution/Oscar Madison optimism: part ownership in a couple of Ramada Inns, plans for a movie career, sleeping in the buff, teammates poking fun about Raquel Welch being his neighbor, "$500-a-month pad overlooks the Pacific Ocean," "stands at the Big A are filled with mini-skirts," driving a Cadillac El Dorado, Los Angeles radio commercials for Pintos and Mavericks, killing at the dinner for the LA-Anaheim chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, and on and on and on. Point is that four years after Conigliaro's horrible eye injury, I don't see any evidence that Dick Miller and his Sporting News editors would have any sort of sense of foreboding. So I can't imagine this is what they were going for, but, knowing the end of the story, the first thing I thought of when I read their cover headline, "Tony Conigliaro, Halo for a Hitter," was that phrase sounds an awful lot like "Requiem for a Heavyweight."

    1. Conigliaro's California's starting right fielder--not center.

  4. Last night 1971, Willie Stargell hit three home runs against Atlanta pitching for the second time this season. That gives Pittsburgh's left fielder and cleanup hitter a majors-leading nine home runs on the season, including a total of seven against the Braves. Pittsburgh beat Atlanta, 10-2, and here are the N.L. East standings as 1971 we rise:

    St. Louis 9-6
    Pittsburgh 8-6, 0.5 games back
    Montreal 5-4, 1
    New York 6-5, 1
    Philadelphia 4-7, 3
    Chicago 5-9, 3.5