When Ralph Houk died last week I and just about every other person who wrote something about him made mention of the fact that he was a decorated veteran of World War II. I had no idea just how amazing his war record was, however, having only read a few things here or there making reference to it.
There’s a story in the New York Times today examining his exploits, and man alive, Houk was something else. From his citation when he won the Silver Star:
“Deliberately exposing himself to the withering fire, although the fire
was so intense that his clothes were torn by enemy machine-gun bullets,
he calmly moved from one position to another, directing his men. As
enemy tanks continued to advance, realizing that his guns were
ineffective against them, he secured a tank destroyer from an adjacent
unit, and personally directing its fire, he forced the enemy to withdraw
from the area. Through his gallant leadership, he was directly
responsible for repelling the enemy attack.”
And that’s just some of it. Read the whole thing. It’s not your average war story.
I’ve always been mildly annoyed when athletes use the “going into battle” metaphors, but I can’t imagine what true war heroes like Ralph Houk thought when they heard it.
Free agent right-hander Chris Tillman is narrowing his pool of potential suitors, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Returning to the Orioles is one option, of course, but Heyman also mentions another two undisclosed teams who are still in the running. An earlier report from Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun suggests that as many as four teams may be in the mix; either way, a final decision is expected by Monday.
Tillman, 29, has spent the entirety of his major league career in Baltimore. After posting career-high numbers in 2016, his progress was derailed during an injury-plagued 2017 campaign, during which he missed nearly six weeks on the disabled list with recurring right shoulder inflammation. He finished the season with a bloated 7.84 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 4.9 SO/9 over 93 innings.
While the mystery teams have yet to reveal themselves, the Blue Jays, Twins and Tigers have all expressed interest in the veteran right-hander this offseason. Both the Blue Jays and Twins have made big moves to bolster their rotations over the last few days, with the additions of Jaime Garcia and Jake Odorizzi, respectively. That doesn’t mean that Tillman is out of reach, however — if his price is right, he could provide some much-needed depth for pitching staffs that finished 15th and 22nd in the league last year.