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Posts Tagged ‘Pittsburgh Pirates’

A Review of Willie Stargell: A Life in Baseball

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 5, 2016

Willie Stargell: A Life in BaseballWillie Stargell: A Life in Baseball by Frank Garland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve got to be honest. When I was a kid, Willie Stargell was my favorite baseball player. Actually, he has been my whole life. But see, he was my favorite player to see in person! I lived in the Pittsburgh area back in the 1970s and went to as many Pirates games as possible, so I got to see “Pops” play a lot and got to see the magical “We Are Family” 1979 World Series year and remember those wonderful Stargell stars everyone loved and the home runs, god, the home runs! Willie Stargell “only” hit 475 career home runs – because he played half of his career in gigantic Forbes Field, which I’ll get to in a moment, but which is estimated to have robbed him of some 150 career home runs, which is staggering by anyone’s standards – but the thing I think Stargell is best known for is his towering strength, how damn FAR he could hit his balls! Hitting balls out of Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. Hitting balls out of Dodger Stadium multiple times. Hitting balls out of Philly’s Veteran’s Stadium. Hitting the upper deck and roof of gigantic Forbes Field numerous times. Hitting the ball out of the ballpark at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field replacement, Three Rivers Stadium. There’s an entire chapter in this book dedicated just to this! 506 feet at Dodger Stadium. 458 feet into the upper deck at Three Rivers. May 20, 1978: 515 feet, Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. 475 feet onto right grandstand roof at Forbes Field, 1967. He also had the longest home run at Houston’s Astrodome: 490 feet on May 28, 1966.

Of course, Stargell was more than just amazing home run power. He was also a great hitter, finishing a 20-year career with a very good lifetime average of .282. Perhaps far more importantly, he was a great natural leader, from a very young age. He led quietly and he led by example. When he came up in the majors, Clemente was his leader, took him under his wing, became his friend and example. After Clemente’s premature death, Stargell assumed his role in the clubhouse and never relinquished it and remained the effective team captain for the rest of his career, which prepared him for his post-playing days of working with his ex-manager, Chuck Tanner, in the Braves system to coach and evaluate young ball players in Atlanta for a number of years before ultimately winding back in Pittsburgh for the last couple years of his life before he died a very, very premature death at age 61, I believe. This book was also enlightening in that it showed how a young man from northern California, brought up in an integrated area in the 1950s, is thrust into the deep south and southwest, and is made to play in the minors during the late ‘50s and early ‘60s and is made to suffer humilities and indignities and taunts and things that would have been hard to imagine 15 years ago, as I write this in 2016, if we hadn’t have seen the true colors of the Republican Tea Party as the racists in them come out to show their hatred of Obama and black and Hispanic people everywhere, which makes it stunning to see how far we have NOT come since then. Simply stunning. And very sad. Whatever the case, Stargell survived without anything of an outward complaint, made the big club as an outfielder, had a serious arm rivaling Clemente allegedly, but was ultimately moved to first base, started hitting serious home runs, made some all star teams, helped win the World Series in 1971, when Clemente was the MVP, won the World Series again in 1979 when he was the Series and league MVP and retired in 1982. Stunningly, he never even made half a million dollars a year in his career and indeed, never made much money at all until the final few years of his career. How someone so talented and how someone who became the 17th player to make the Hall of Fame on the first ballet could go so damned unpaid, essentially, is beyond me, but I guess that’s what owners do, so there you have it. He had advertising deals and other things to supplement his income. He also had a sickle cell foundation because his sister had the disease.

While this book certainly sings Stargell’s praises, it’s not all fun and games. It also discusses his three marriages (but how he got along with all three wives, during and after all marriages) and five children through four women (and how they all got along together as in one big, happy family, amazingly). It discusses allegations two former colleagues made against him in the 1980s that he gave them drugs, which tarnished his reputation. Needless to say, this was looked into thoroughly, as was the case with everyone named in the investigation. Stargell’s name was personally cleared by the baseball commissioner. He had done nothing wrong.

The first thing Stagell did upon retirement was agree to perform in a symphony performance made just for him by a Pulitzer winning composer in which he would perform spoken word content set to symphonic music about Martin Luther King, Jr., one of his heroes. He was excited, but very nervous. So were the composers and musicians. However, he tackled it with his usual professionalism and did quite well. Their first performance was, I believe, at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC. He acquitted himself well. Indeed, as they traveled the country performing, he did better and better so that he became quite a star in a brand new field. This chapter was quite interesting and I confess I knew nothing about this part of his life.

Stargell’s last few years are painful to read about. His last few years were spent on dialysis. Yet he was still working, first for the Braves, then for the Pirates. Then his overall health started failing and he started losing weight and feeling quite a bit of pain. During his last year, he became unrecognizable to former teammates who encounter him in airports and other places. He tried to avoid people, as he didn’t wish to be seen in this condition. On April 9, 2001, in honor of the opening of the Pirates’ new ballpark, PNC Park, and only the third such new statue, a new large bronze statue of Willie Stargell was unveiled publicly outside the entrance to the park. Unfortunately, Willie couldn’t be there. More unfortunately, he couldn’t be there because he had just died during the night. He’d never get to see the new park or the amazing new statue for which he felt so amazingly honored. People were stunned. He was too young. He was Pittsburgh. He was the Pirates. He was “Family.” He was one of the most beloved Pittsburgh athletes of all time. And now he was gone. Just like that. While his service was in North Carolina, where he had most recently lived with his third wife, a large service was held at a church downtown near where Willie lived and worked for decades. He loved working with the people of the city, of the inner city, with the young people. He loved teaching, giving people hope. And now he was gone. Utter tragedy.

475 career home runs. When he retired, that was a lot. Since then, a lot of hitters have passed him by. But frankly, most of those players have been from the steroid era and are suspect, such as Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, and Sammy Sosa. So do they even count? Unfortunately, they’re in the books and records ahead of him and nothing can be done about that and that boils my blood. Even more unfortunately, he played half of his career at gigantic Forbes field. I said I would address that. Let me. PNC Park has these basic dimensions – 320 feet to the left and right field walls, 399 feet to center field. Going off my memory, Forbes Field was 360 feet to left, 376 feet to right, and a gigantic 462 feet to center! No wonder Clemente drove in a ton of runs but was a doubles hitter and not a big home run hitter. No wonder the most home runs Stargell ever hit in a season was 48. So, if the estimate that Forbes Field robbed him of 150 home runs is accurate at all, he could have finished with 625 home runs, which would have placed him pretty high up the career list by anyone’s standards. It’s a real pity that couldn’t have occurred.

For some reason, this book only has a 3.89 rating on Goodreads, yet every review I’ve read – all four and five star reviews – have nothing to say about how to improve the book. Frankly, I don’t know if this is the BEST sports biography I have ever read, but offhand, I can’t think of a better one and I’ve read a ton of them. This is a very good book. It’s well researched, it’s detailed, comprehensive, well written, has good pictures, is edited well. It’s a good book. A very good book. I can think of no reason not to give it five stars. I can think of no way to improve this book as a sports biography or as a biography of Willie Stargell. So, how can this not be a five star book then? I think Frank Garland did an excellent job and I’m really glad I bought and read this book. I learned a lot about my childhood hero and I’m glad that he remains a hero of mine and always will be. Good old number 8. One night, I was at Three Rivers in the upper deck and Willie hit the ball and he hit it straight up and it went up a mile. He hit it out of the stadium. I’ve never in my life seen a ball hit so far straight up. It went way past my head and kept on going, up, up, up past the top of the stadium before finally starting to fall straight back down. It took forever. It was a foul ball. He was out. The first baseman caught it. But it was one of the most impressive non-hits I had ever seen. What strength! I’ll never forget that. And of course, I got to see a few of his awesome home runs too. I’ll never forget the feeling that I was honored to see those. Willie Stargell graced us with his presence. He graced Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Oakland with everything in his life. He had a lot to give and he always gave a lot. As long as people remember him, he will be missed. In my biased opinion, Willie Stargell will always be the best, most feared home run hitter of all time. Five star book. Definitely recommended.

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My Birthday

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 21, 2015

This past Saturday was my birthday. I turned 49. One more year til the big 5-0. I better enjoy it.

I had a pretty good day. I wanted a laid back day and that’s what I got. No parties, no friends, no family, other than my wife. Just my wife and my cats. It was sweet.

Gretchen started the day by making me some delicious low carb pancakes. Very nice. I read for a little bit and finished a really good book that I had tried to finish the night before. I’ll review it soon. It was excellent. Then we went to McKay Used Books, which is a huge used bookstore that also sells music, movies and games. I got seven new sci fi books for not very much at all, and Gretchen got a couple of books herself, so it was a successful outing. We also stopped at Walgreens to pick up four of my prescriptions. Fortunately, they didn’t cost too much, so that was a good thing.

We went home and hung out. I made myself my usual low carb lunch. I like to read during lunch, so I did. Lunch lasts a long time for me. Gretchen thinks it’s funny. Henry usually comes to visit me during lunch. Ace used to, but he doesn’t anymore. I’m not sure why.

Of course, Saturdays are now college football days and I’m elated. There were some good games that day, but most didn’t start til mid-afternoon, so I talked with Gretchen and read til then. I also talked with Mom on the phone, who sang Happy Birthday to me. Gretchen went to the gym, so I went down to the den to turn on some football. I watched a little of the LSU and Auburn game and also the Notre Dame and Georgia Tech game.

After awhile it was time to feed the cats and they were very happy about it. Then it was time for our dinner. Gretchen, at my request, made me a low carb pizza which is actually quite good. She had something else because it’s not her favorite. Later we had some allegedly low carb cake with some icing she had made. It was great! Gretchen also gave me a lovely card and a couple of cool presents. They were a Pittsburgh Pirates coffee mug, a great looking one, and a Pirates t-shirt, which fits great. Just what I wanted. She took a picture of me holding them. I think I’ll post it here.

After dinner, it was pretty much time for the Tennessee/Western Carolina game, so we turned that on. If you’re a Vols fan, like we are, it was an awesome game. We completely dominated and won 55-10. The whole team played well. Which was good because next week we play Florida and we have to be prepared for that. We haven’t beaten Florida in forever, but this year I think they’re going down and it’ll be pretty sweet if that happens.

We went to bed fairly early, in part because I had been up since 12:30 AM and was tired. I have severe insomnia and am often up between midnight and 1:30 for the rest of the day. It’s tiring. As for the diet, since mid-February I’ve been on an extremely low carb diet with Gretchen (I average 6 carbs per meal.) and I’ve lost about 56 pounds. I look and feel better, but I still have to lose a whole lot more. I have a long way to go, but I think I’ll be able to keep losing for awhile before I level off. At least I hope so. Anyway, all in all, it was a pretty good birthday. Thanks for letting me tell you about it.

Me with my birthday presents

Me with my birthday presents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Random Stuff

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 6, 2014

Hi. I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last wrote here! I just feel like I have nothing of value to say. I’ve also been feeling very unmotivated lately too and I’m not sure why.

Well, what’s going on in my life? I’m having another minor neurological  surgery a week from Monday. Hopefully it will help my pain. After my last one in July, it helped on one side of my head, but pain exploded on the other side of my head, so here’s hoping this will clear things up, at least for awhile. TN sucks. I also have a birthday coming up soon. I’m going to be OLD! I’m trying not to be too depressed about it. My youngest step-son is celebrating his 21st birthday this Monday, so that’s cool. Additionally, you know how we’ve had our old house on the market for months? And we’ve had to keep coming down in price? Well, we’re finally selling it — at a loss, which irritates the hell out of me — and the closing is next Thursday. And we’re going to use part of the proceeds of that to pay of all of my student loans, which will be a real load off my mind. Seems like I’ve been paying on those things forever and I still had about 15 more years to go! It’ll be good to get rid of them.

Do you remember our beloved cat, Toby? The one we had to have put to sleep the week we moved in February due to kidney failure? Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. I really miss him so very, very much. I never thought I’d miss him this much. I find myself crying at the most insipid thing, thinking about him. We’ve talked about getting another cat, but the remaining cat, Henry, is very territorial and barely put up with Toby and we’re not certain he’d do well with another cat. We think he likes being an only cat. My wife also wants us to get a dog, perhaps a beagle. That’s something else altogether. That’s a lot of responsibility. Sure, they bring a lot of joy to the house, but we take trips up to Knoxville to visit Mom and what would we do then? We don’t know anyone who could come care for the dog. I just don’t know….

I’m all excited about sports these days. My Pirates are tanking, of late, but are still in position to get into the playoffs if they could just go on a winning streak. My UT Vols just won their second game of the year today and have looked pretty good so far. Much better than the past few years. So far, we’re 2-0, but next up we travel to #4 Oklahoma, so that will be a real test of how good or not good we are. The Steelers finally start their regular season against the Browns this weekend. I’ve been looking forward to this season for months, thinking we had drastically improved the team, but our preseason was so damn dismal, that I’m already depressed thinking about the upcoming season. Finally, hockey season starts in a little over 30 days and I’m anxious to see how the new look Penguins do this year. It’s all very exciting!

I’m still poetry editor for Ray’s Road Review, but I haven’t been motivated lately and I’ve been completely overwhelmed by submissions. They come in all the time. I always seem to have dozens and dozens of them and I’m always behind in reading them. Most of them aren’t very good, but some are fairly decent and those are hard to make decisions about. It’s rare that you get one where you know immediately it’s good enough for publication.

My mom is doing kind of okay on her own. She’s going to her doctor practically every week, with what I think are imagined problems. She’s scared of everything, has severe anxiety problems, and depression as well. She wants to see us every weekend, but that’s not possible. We went up a week or two ago and went to the Knoxville Zoo with her, where we all had fun. It was hot though. She wants us to take a vacation with her, but we don’t know about that. She can be a very trying person and the notion of spending a whole week with her is daunting, to say the least. But I’m proud of her for doing so much on her own with Dad gone now. She’s holding up, so that’s good.

Last weekend, I went to a local gun show. I took my S&W Bodyguard to sell and sold it in less than five minutes after my arrival. And I went looking for a specific gun — a Sig Sauer P938 subcompact 9 mm. And found a few. And got one. But because of arm problems, for which I’ve been undergoing physical therapy for the past few months, I have yet to fire it. It’s killing me too! I’m going to fire it at the shooting range next weekend if it kills me!  Or my arm, I guess. It looks and feels very good. I hope it’ll be everything it promises to be.

I guess that’s it for now. Thanks for putting up with my rambling. More book reviews are on the way. Cheers!

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Sports Update

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 2, 2014

I grew up a huge baseball fan. Specifically a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates, as I lived there during the 1970s. I enjoyed seeing the team win two World Series during that decade. I followed the team religiously until the early 1990s, when they broke up a great team led by MVP Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, and Andy Van Slyke. They stopped winning circa 1992 and went into a 20 year losing streak unseen in any sport. They gave away all of their best players every year and didn’t even try to win. It was disgusting and it really turned me off to the team and the sport. However, last year, the Pirates fielded a competitive team and had their first winning season in over 20 years and made the playoffs — and I suddenly discovered my enjoyment of watching baseball. And I’ve been watching a lot of baseball this year. Currently the Pirates are 57-51 and three and a half games out of first, behind Milwaukee. However, I also enjoy watching the Orioles play, mainly because that’s my wife’s team. When we were in Baltimore in April, we went to a home game there and it was very enjoyable. The stadium’s nice and the fans are great. So I’ve now been to baseball games in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Atlanta, St Louis, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. And I’ve been to minor league games in Knoxville and Chattanooga. Baseball, for me, is still kind of boring, especially compared to hockey and football, but it’s still nice to be getting back to liking it.

Meanwhile, football season is coming up and I’m excited! I’m actually probably more excited about the NFL season than I am college football, which never happens to me. But I’m a Steelers fan and we’ve made a lot of personnel moves during the offseason and had a good draft, so I’m hoping we can improve on last year’s 8-8 record and I think we will. I think we’ll make the playoffs again, which is where the Steelers belong. My college team is the Tennessee Volunteers, as I’m a UT alum. We’ve been down the past few years, which has been tough, especially after seeing a spectacular 1990s decade with Peyton Manning and a national championship. However, second year coach Butch Jones had a good recruiting class and I’m hoping we will be better. Actually, I think we’ll be better, but we won’t have a better record because our schedule’s so brutal. We have to go to #3 Oklahoma for the second game and we’ll get creamed. We have to play Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, etc., etc., and we’ll be lucky to win one or two of those games. So even though we should be better, I think we’ll still have a pretty rough record…. It doesn’t help that we don’t have any decent quarterbacks.

And of course I’m really excited about the upcoming hockey season. I love hockey. I think hockey players are the best athletes there are. They have to be strong, tough, fast, graceful, durable — they’re amazing. And they often play into their 40s. I don’t know how they do it. My team is the Pittsburgh Penguins, led by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. We’ve been making the playoffs every year, but ever since we won our last Stanely Cup in 2009, we’ve had great regular seasons and have tanked in the playoffs, so the team fired the general manager and coach and hired new ones. Hopefully this will help. We also got rid of 11 players, including several very good ones I had hoped we would hold on to, and have imported a number of new players, although none that are great, like I had been hoping for. We need a top line goalie, as our goalie is good, but not great. However, we signed a backup goalie, which really ticks me off. We need someone better than that. You can only go as far as your goalie takes you and I’m not convinced with can win with Fleury in the playoffs anymore. Oh well. Still, I’m stoked about hockey season and can’t wait for it to start. Even my wife has gotten into watching it with me, which is very cool.

I guess that’s it for today’s post. Just thought I’d share my excitement with the world. Cheers!

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A Review of Pops: The Willie Stargell Story

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 10, 2013

Pops: The Willie Stargell StoryPops: The Willie Stargell Story by Richard “Pete” Peterson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a thoroughly enjoyable book on one of the greatest players in baseball history — Pittsburgh’s Willie Stargell. I grew up in the Pittsburgh area and he was my favorite player. I always loved seeing his towering home runs get hit out of the park. Shoot, even infield outs were crazy! I once saw him hit the ball straight up so high, it went out of the stadium before coming down and being caught for an out. He started his career as a left fielder, but finished as a first baseman to save his perpetually painful knees he played on for most of his career. Early in his career, he was overshadowed by Hall of Fame teammate Roberto Clemente. But Stargell was named team captain following Clemente’s untimely death, and proceeded to do a masterful job. Toward the end of his career, Dave Parker named him “Pops” because of his advancing age and his stature in the clubhouse. It stuck.

Stargell always wanted to win the World Series with a seventh game home run, just like Pittsburgh’s Bill Mazeroski did in 1960 against the Yankees. He finally got to the World Series in 1971 against Baltimore, but he had a miserable series and Roberto Clemente won it for them, winning MVP honors. In 1971, Stargell had probably his greatest year, hitting .295 with 48 home runs and 125 RBIs. He expected to win the MVP award for the season, but came in second in voting with four writers leaving his off their ballots entirely. He never really got over that. He had another stellar season in 1973 and expected to win the MVP that year too, but didn’t get it. Still, he didn’t let those disappointments dampen his spirit. He was a very positive individual and a great influence on the other players.

Even though he was injured and didn’t play full seasons from 1976-1978, he did something I never knew. He led the 1970s in most home runs hit. That’s pretty impressive. Finally, in 1979, the Pirates made it back to the World Series, also against Baltimore, and this one was pretty special. Down three games to one, the Pirates used as inspiration the fact that the Baltimore mayor had already released the World Series champion parade route to get them back in it and force a Game Seven. And in Game Seven, Stargell finally hit that elusive World Series Game Seven home run to win the game that he had dreamed about his whole life. And he won the Series MVP. And he won the elusive National League MVP award too, so that was good. Indeed, I remember that year well, and attended many of the games. It was the year the Pirates were “the Family” and Sister’s Sledge’s “We Are Family” was played at the bottom of each seventh inning, per Stargell’s orders. It just seemed to bring the city together. So too did Stargell’s stars he handed out to his teammates for great plays so that they could put them on their hats.

It was great reliving old times by reading about Stargell’s teammates, many of whom I remember clearly and fondly. I can still name the starting lineup in the World Series. Stargell at first, Garner at second, Foli at short, Madlock at third, Robinson in left, Moreno in center, Parker in right, Ott behind the plate. And our pitchers were really good. Berty Blyleven, Don Robinson, John Candelaria, Jim Rooker, Jim Bibby, with Kent Tekulve relieving. How could we not have won???

Of course, Stargell was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first ballot, only the 17th player to ever receive that honor. He finished his career with a .282 average, 475 home runs (which left him at 16th all time at the time), and 1540 RBIs. Great numbers. He would have had better numbers if he hadn’t played half of his games at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field, the biggest ballpark in the majors, where center was 475 feet away. If he had played his whole career at Three Rivers Stadium, he could have had 600 home runs, I’m convinced. Oh well. My only real disappointment is in the fact that Willie died in 2001, right after they unveiled his new statue at Pittsburgh’s ballpark. Stargell will always be revered in Pittsburgh for being a great player and a great person. This book was a joy to read and I’m glad I was able to relive so many memories. Highly recommended.

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A Review of Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 27, 2013

Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last HeroClemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero by David Maraniss

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I became a Pirates fan when I moved from Canada to Pittsburgh in 1971 as a small boy with my family. I don’t remember much of Roberto Clemente, but I remember how huge he was in the city. Willie Stargell was my favorite Pirate. Still, I remember when Clemente died on New Year’s Eve, 1972, and what a shock it was to the world, to the baseball community, and to Pittsburgh, and what a sense of loss it brought.

Maraniss writes a pretty good book about Clemente. It’s not perfect, but the highlights are well written and one learns a lot about the man. Coming from Puerto Rico up to Montreal, in the minors, around 1954 was a huge shock for him, and then when the Pirates drafted him from the minors in 1955, it continued to be a culture shock for him, not only as a Latino player, but as a black Latino player. Since Spring Training was in Florida, Clemente was exposed first hand to Jim Crowe laws and couldn’t stay with the team, eat with the team, do anything but stay in the “colored” sections of towns and play ball. He wasn’t an immediate star, but he was obviously talented. He had a rocket for an arm and played a mean right field. He could hit fairly well, and with some power. He was primed for stardom.

By the time 1960 rolled around, the Pirates had risen from mediocre to National League champs, but they had to play the dreaded Yankees (with Mantle and Maris) in the World Series. And NY bombed Pittsburgh in three games by huge margins. Nonetheless, Pittsburgh won three games too, setting up a seventh and deciding game. The game was tied going into the ninth inning. Finally, at the end of the ninth inning, Bill Mazeroski hit a home run out of the park in one of the most famous moments in Pittsburgh sports history, winning the Series for the Pirates. It was the “shot heard round the world,” and to this day, is probably the most readily remembered World Series home run. For the Series, Clemente hit safely in every game.

Now my complaint with the author comes into play. He basically skips entire seasons after that Series. The 1967 season isn’t even mentioned, and Clemente was the 1966 National League MVP. You’d think Maraniss would want to follow up on that. Also, while we learn about Clemente’s tempestuous relationship with the press, who really never truly understood him, we don’t get as much on his relationship with the team, such as his manager Danny Murtaugh. It would have been nice to read more about their interactions.

Finally, we come to another good chapter – the one on the 1971 World Series against Baltimore, a team with four 20 game winning pitchers. By this time, Clemente was the old man on the team, but he hit safely in all seven games of this Series too, and was named Series MVP as Pittsburgh won another World Series.

In all, Clemente finished his career with a .317 batting average, 3000 hits, four N.L. batting titles, 12 Gold Gloves, the 1966 National League MVP, the 1971 World Series MVP, and was the first Latino elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

At the end of 1972, there was a devastating earthquake in Nicaragua, a country where Clemente had just managed the Puerto Rican national team in a playoffs. He was determined to help the people and helped gather over $100,000 and hundreds of tons of supplies to take to Nicaragua for disaster relief. Unfortunately, he put his trust in a shady character who had a plane he contracted out. This guy had 66 FAA violations and couldn’t even fly the plane, even though he was the co-pilot. The pilot had 12 violations and was exhausted from a trip he had just taken. Additionally, the plane was in bad shape and had been wrecked just two weeks before. Finally, it was overloaded by something like 4,500 pounds. It could barely lift off the ground. Nonetheless, Clemente said goodbye to his wife and three boys, took off, and never made it, as the planed crashed into the ocean shortly after takeoff, smashing everything to smithereens. His body was never found.

Roberto Clemente was the pride of the Latino world, could have ruled Puerto Rico, was much loved by kids around the world, who he related to quite well, and had millions of fans everywhere. While he didn’t always get along with the press, they decided to do something that had only been done once before – bypass the five year minimum requirement of being away from baseball for election into the Baseball Hall of Fame (the other player was Lou Gehrig), and he was elected 11 weeks after his death.

It’s a good book, even though it does leave details out. (Why did Clemente give one of his Silver Slugger awards to announcer Bob Prince?) It’s well researched and documented and it sheds light on one of the greatest athletes of our time. Clemente will never be forgotten, and I certainly recommend this book.

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Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals – Recap – October 04, 2013 – ESPN

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 5, 2013

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals – Recap

Let’s go Bucs! Nice playoff win yesterday.

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Things

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 4, 2013

Just a few things. I’m sorry I haven’t updated in awhile. Not too much has been going on for me personally, and I’m in the middle of three very large books, so I haven’t been able to write a book review for awhile. However, I’m nearly done with one (finally!), so hopefully a book review will be coming.

This past Tuesday was the nine week anniversary of Dad’s death. I’m still in a state of shock, I guess. I just still can’t believe he is gone. He was fit. He was healthy. He was mowing my yard while I was at a meeting when he collapsed and died. I was there to witness it. I tried to save him, but failed. I feel sick about it. My therapist wants me to go to a grief support group. It started this week, so I’ve missed one meeting. I don’t know. I think I’m doing pretty well, considering, but I may give them a call today to find out more about it.

My wife has a bad knee, meanwhile. We think she hurt it playing racquetball with me about a month ago. It’s been increasingly bad and she can barely walk. We took her to the doctor a couple of days ago and he thinks it’s a tear in her tendon. She’s going to have to get x-rays. I don’t know what comes next. She actually doesn’t have insurance and is dying to get signed up for Obamacare, which seems promising to us, but she hasn’t been able to access the site at all, so that’s been frustrating.

I’m currently upgrading my iPhone to iOS7. I have mixed feelings about this because Gretchen did this on the first day of its release and it completely wiped her phone. She had to start from the factory settings and start all over, getting new apps and everything. It was a complete disaster. That said, she tried again a couple of days later and it worked and she seems happy with it, so I’m giving it a try — with misgivings. I can’t afford to have my phone wiped. My whole life is on there — my diaries, my many contacts, my medical records, all sorts of stuff. I’m also annoyed that I had to delete dozens of albums and hundreds of pictures to free up 3 GB of space for the download. That seems more like Microsoft bloatware to me…. Well, here’s hoping….

I’ve discovered I’m lactose intolerant. That really sucks! I’d been having gastric problems for over two months. They flared up almost immediately upon my finishing lunch and continued for the remainder of the day. I went on two antibiotics twice, but that didn’t really help very much. Finally, I caved and went to a gastro specialist. I had a theory that I posited to the doctor, and she recommended I do what I’m doing. I really think it was the yogurt I ate every day with lunch and the milk I was drinking and the tapioca pudding I’d have. I didn’t have problems until I consumed those, and then did afterwards. She told me to go off all dairy related products for a week and see what happens. I did, and everything went away and I cleared up in one day. I went a week and then had some ice cream one night, and they returned. So I’m lactose intolerant. How in the hell did that happen??? Now I’ve having to find lactose-alternative products. The yogurt is really high in carbs. The milk is pretty decent. You can find some good ice cream. The cheese really sucks. And on it goes. I guess this is a new lifestyle I’m going to have to get used to.

In sports, I’m not sure about my teams. The Steelers are the worst they’ve been in 45 years with an 0-4 record and they really, really suck. The Pirates, however, had a winning season and made the post-season for the first time in 21 years, which is really something to cheer about. However, last night St. Louis kicked their butts badly, so I don’t know how well we’ll do. My Penguins have goalie problems. Don’t know how we’ll do this year. My UT Vols are 3-2, with the two losses to ranked teams — Oregon and Florida. However, we have ranked Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama coming up, so it looks like we’ll be 3-5 by the end of the month. That blows. I really like the new coach and want him to succeed, but it looks like we’re going to have some growing pains.

Lately, I’ve been having to pay bills. That’s good and bad. It’s good to pay them, but it hurts to pay so much. I had to have $750 in car repairs too. I’m never buying a BMW again as long as I live.

I’m over this government shutdown. I attribute it ALL to the damn Republicans, who are holding the country hostage in their stupid attempt to repeal Obamacare — a LAW that was passed by Congress, signed by the president, upheld by the Supreme Court, and for whom Obama was elected for a second term while running against people who wanted to repeal it. Listen to the people, Congressmen! Damn Republicans. And they accuse the Dems. What gall! They’re truly despicable people. I will never vote for a Republican again as long as I live, and I was brought up a conservative Republican. That says a lot. They’re truly disgusting humans. What a waste. I hope they cave soon, so we can return to life as we know it.

Huh. It looks like my iPhone has updated while I’ve been writing this. It seems to have been successful. I’ve only opened a few apps, and things look like they’re still there. Oh, four of my apps are missing. *sigh* This new version looks very, very different from previous versions. It’s going to take me awhile to get used to. One thing — everything seems slower. The apps are taking longer to open. Oh well. I just checked out my space, though, and I’ve got more free space than when I started. I guess I can re-load some of my music on here. That’s good.

I guess that’s all for now. Book reviews coming soon. Cheers!

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Liriano a Cy Young candidate

Posted by Scott Holstad on July 30, 2013

Liriano a Cy Young candidate

via Don’t laugh: Liriano a Cy Young candidate – SweetSpot Blog – ESPN.

Finally. A season to cheer about in Pittsburgh — for baseball! After 20 consecutive losing seasons, it’s almost August and we’re half a game out of first place and playing really well. And Liriano has had a spectacular year, as has Pedro Alvarez, who leads the National league in home runs. Go Bucs!

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