Getty Images

Darren Daulton was one of many ex-Phillies to die of brain cancer

10 Comments

The announcement that former Phillies catcher Darren Daulton died of brain cancer yesterday was certainly sad news. Also sad: he was not the first former Phillies player to do so. In addition to Daulton, Tug McGraw, John Vukovich, Ken Brett and Johnny Oates all succumbed to it.

This cluster, such as it is, was discussed at length back when Daulton was first diagnosed back in 2013 and will likely come up again today as the baseball world remembers Daulton. At the time it was noted that, among players who called Veteran’s Stadium in Philadelphia their home ballpark, brain cancer rates were 3.1 times higher than the national average. Obviously, however, we’re dealing with a super small sample size here, and cancer clusters of note involve far, far greater subjects and incidents. Epidemiologists who talked about it in stories at the time all noted that, while interesting and unusual, there simply wasn’t the sort of data available to draw any meaningful conclusions from it. Ken Brett, for example, only played in Philly for one season. Hundreds of Philadelphia Eagles players called the Vet home and the club is unaware of any brain cancer diagnosis among its former players. It’s likely it would be impossible to establish that this is anything other than a sad coincidence.

This is not the only cancer cluster discussed in baseball circles. Several years ago former Royals pitcher Bob Tufts noted that he and several other ex-Royals had been diagnosed with or died of cancer as well. In addition to Tufts, Paul Splittoroff, Dick Howser and Dan Quisenberry died from various forms of the disease after spending time in K.C.. Again, anecdotal. Baseball’s most common cancer threat: skin cancer. Three years ago James Wagner wrote an excellent and enlightening story about that in the Washington Post.

Cancer doesn’t play favorites, of course, and no one has gone through life untouched by it somehow. The Darren Daulton Foundation exists to provide financial assistance to those affected by the disease. The Phillies and the Foundation will host a community night at Citizens Bank Park on September 17, which was scheduled before Daulton’s passing. In light of it, the event will presumably become something larger.

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

Associated Press
2 Comments

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
4 Comments

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.