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Mike Ilitch paid Rosa Parks’ rent for years

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I read about this a few years ago, but it was a brief thing that didn’t make a ton of waves, mostly because the Tigers and their late owner Mike Ilitch weren’t interested in making a big deal out of it.

In the wake of Ilitch’s death, however, we’re reminded that he paid the rent of civil rights icon Rosa Parks for several years. In 1994 Parks’ home was broken into and she was assaulted. In the wake of that awfulness, a local judge and a real estate developer helped her find a new apartment in a safer neighborhood. Ilitch, when he read about it, called the judge and the real estate developer and said he would pay for her housing as long as necessary and cut thousands of dollars in checks to that effect.

I’ve heard some people poke some holes in this over the years. It’s possible Ilitch did not pay her entire rent for the rest of her life or perhaps someone else contributed or any number of other scenarios unfolded. It’s clear, however, that Ilitch did reach out and did pay good money for Parks’ benefit out of the goodness of his heart and with little if any desire for publicity.

There are no doubt any number of skeletons one can find in the closet of any octogenarian billionaire. Skeletons often come with that territory. But there is no question that Ilitch did a great many of good things for people and his community as well. And as he shuffles off to sports owner Valhalla, it’s good to hear about some of those things.

 

Yankees sign top two draft picks

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The Yankees signed first-round draft pick Clarke Schmidt and second-round pick Matt Sauer on Saturday, per a team announcement. Schmidt, a right-hander from the University of South Carolina, is set to earn a signing bonus of $2,184,300. According to MLB.com’s Oliver Macklin, that’s much lower than the typical $3+ million allocated for a No. 16 overall pick. The opposite is true for Sauer, whose projected $2.5 million signing bonus tops the suggested $1.2 million reserved for a No. 54 pick.

Schmidt, 21, boasts an impressive four-pitch repertoire and profiles as a front-end or mid-rotation starter, according to reports from Yankees’ VP of Domestic Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer and ESPN’s Keith Law, among others. He carried a 4-2 record through nine starts in 2017 and turned in a 1.34 ERA before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery last month to repair a torn UCL in his right elbow. While the Yankees won’t see him pitch at any level until late 2018, they seem confident in his makeup and ability to rebound over the next couple of years.

Fellow right-hander and Righetti High School senior Matt Sauer is a different story altogether. The 18-year-old hurler appears destined for the bullpen with a polished fastball-slider combo and a promising curveball and changeup. He dazzled on the mound this year, going 9-1 with an 0.98 ERA and two shutouts over 78 1/3 innings. While the Yankees seem most interested in his pitching skills, Sauer showed some pop at the plate as well, touting a .427 average with 24 RBI through 135 plate appearances.

Three A’s rookies hit their first big league home runs on Saturday

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The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.

Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:

Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:

In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.

The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.