Roy Sievers, the first A.L. Rookie of the Year, dies at 90.

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Roy Sievers, the first American League Rookie of the Year winner, has died at age 90.

The Rookie of the Year Award was established in 1947 as an all-MLB award. That year Jackie Robinson won it, of course, and in 1948 it was Alvin Dark of the Braves. In 1949 it was changed so there would be one winner in each league. That year Sievers debuted with the St. Louis Browns, hitting .306/.398/.471 with 16 homers and 91 RBI. He took home the hardware for the junior circuit while Don Newcombe won it in the National League.

Sievers went on to play 17 years in the bigs, but his career had a bit of a rocky start following his rookie year thanks to some nagging shoulder injuries. In 1954, as the Browns became the Baltimore Orioles, Sievers was traded to the Washington Senators. He regained his status as one of the game’s better hitters in DC, posting an .859 OPS (134 OPS+) and hitting 180 homers and making the All-Star team three times over the next six seasons. After Washington he made stops with the White Sox and Phillies before returning to the Senators — the expansion Senators, anyway, as his old Washington franchise had moved to Minnesota to become the Twins — for his final two years, retiring after the 1965 season.

Sievers may be one of the lesser-known stars of the so-called Golden Era these days, but that has less to do with his accomplishments than it does with the fact that the two teams for which he starred — the Browns and Senators — ceased to exist, changing cities and franchise identities decades ago. The current love for Montreal Expos history is an anomaly. Most of the time when a team leaves town, people tend to move on and forget. That’s probably especially true with the Browns and Senators, neither of whom had much success.

Sievers’ career was a pretty spiffy one, however. In all he hit 318 homers, drove in 1,147 runs and posted a batting line of .267/.354/.475. He was primarily a corner outfielder and first baseman, though he did play 160 games in center and 30 at third base. After adjusting for his parks and his era, he was roughly equivalent to a Bobby Bonilla or a Victor Martinez, offensively speaking. Oh, and he was Tab Hunter’s double in the 1958 movie version of “Damn Yankees.” That’s pretty spiffy too.

Rest in Peace, Rookie of the Year.

It’s the tenth anniversary of the biggest rout in baseball history

Associated Press
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Ten years ago today the Rangers and the Orioles squared off at Camden Yards. The Orioles built a 3-0 lead after three innings and then all hell broke loose.

The Rangers scored thirty (30!) unanswered runs via a five-spot in the fourth, a nine-spot in the sixth, a ten-spot in the eighth and a six-spot in the ninth. That was . . . a lot of spots.

Two Rangers players — Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ramon Vazquez — hit two homers and drove in seven runs a piece. The best part: they were the eighth and ninth hitters in the lineup. There was plenty of offense to go around, however as David Murphy went 5-for-7 and scored five times. Travis Metcalf hit a pinch-hit grand slam. Marlon Byrd drove in four. It was a bloodbath, with Texas rattling out 29 hits and walking eight times.

On the Orioles side of things, Daniel Cabrera took the loss, giving up six runs on nine hits in five innings. That’s not a terribly unusual line for a bad day at the office for a pitcher — someone will probably get beat up like that in the next week or so — but the Orioles’ relievers really added to the party. Brian Burres was the first victim, allowing eight runs on eight hits in only two-thirds of an inning. Rob Bell gave up seven in an inning and a third. Paul Shuey wore the rest of it, allowing nine runs on seven hits over the final two.

The best part of the insanely busy box score, however, was not from any of the Orioles pitchers or any of the Rangers hitters. Nope, it was from a Rangers relief pitcher named Wes Littleton. You probably don’t remember him, as he only pitched in 80 games and never appeared in the big leagues after 2008. But on this day — the day of the biggest blowout in baseball history — Wes Littleton notched a save. From Baseball-Reference.com:

Three innings and 43 pitches is a lot of work for a reliever and, per the rules, it’s a save, regardless of the margin when he entered the game. Still, this was not exactly a game that was ever in jeopardy.

When it went down, way back on August 22, 2007, it inspired me to write a post at my old, defunct independent baseball blog, Shysterball, arguing about how to change the save rule. Read it if you want, but know that (1) no one has ever paid attention to such proposals in baseball, even if such proposals are frequently offered; and (2) the hypothetical examples I use to illustrate the point involve an effective Joba Chamberlain and Joe Torre’s said use of him, which tells you just how long ago this really was.

Oh, one final bit: this massacre — the kind of game that the Orioles likely wanted to leave, go back home and go to sleep afterward — was only the first game of a doubleheader. Yep, they had to strap it on and play again, with the game starting at 9PM Eastern time. Baltimore lost that one too, 9-7, concluding what must have been one of the longest days any of the players involved had ever had at the office, both figuratively and literally.

Hall of Fame baseball announcer Rafael ‘Felo’ Ramirez dies

Associated Press
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MIAMI (AP) Rafael “Felo” Ramirez, a Hall of Fame baseball radio broadcaster who was the signature voice for millions of Spanish-speaking sports fans over three decades, has died. He was 94.

The Miami Marlins announced Ramirez’ death Tuesday.

Ramirez, who died Monday night, began his broadcasting career in Cuba in 1945 before calling 31 All-Star games and World Series in Spanish. He was the Marlins Spanish-language announcer since their inaugural season in 1993 and was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2001.

He was known for an expressive, yet low-key style and his signature strike call of “Essstrike.”

Several Spanish-language broadcasters, including Amury Pi-Gonzanez of the Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants, have admitted to emulating his style.