We are a week away from the first Spring Training baseball games, and most players have already reported. And as always happens during the off-season, many players have moved from one team to another as managers search for just the right combination of players, and players look for more money or better opportunities.
Of course, the Mormons in professional are no exception. Here is a rundown of the Mormons who played at least one game in the majors last year and where they are at the moment. Tomorrow I’ll give a rundown of those who only played in the minors last year.
Most of us today, when we think of the baseball equipment of years ago (and even today), think of Spalding, the manufacturer founded by Albert Spalding Jr. in 1876. But he wasn’t the only manufacturer, and the Mormon population in Utah apparently had their own local company: Browning. Read the rest of this entry »
Last week I covered the recent Hall of Fame balloting, which for the second time denied a Mormon player entrance after that player had been on the ballot for a full 15 years. And I included in that post a trivia question: “Who was the first Mormon to appear on a Hall of Fame ballot?”
As I mentioned last week, Jeff Kent this year became the 10th Mormon to appear on a Hall of Fame ballot. Since he is a stronger candidate than either Jack Morris or Dale Murphy (the Mormons who appeared on 15 ballots without making the Hall), we may see him elected in the next few years. Or, he may become the third Mormon to last 15 ballots without being selected. Time will tell.
So then, who was the first Mormon on the Hall of Fame ballot? And for that matter who were the others who have appeared on the ballots over the years?
Jack Morris’ candidacy for the Baseball Hall of Fame ended yesterday when he failed to get the required 75% of the ballots needed. Morris has been on the ballot for the past 15 years, and topped out last year with the highest percentage of the ballots of any Mormon who didn’t make the Hall.
He also is, with Dale Murphy, the second Mormon to last all 15 years on the ballot, and the third to be on the ballot for multiple years without making the Hall (Vern Law was on the Hall of Fame ballot for 7 years in the 1970s before he was dropped).
Later today the announcement will come. Like Dale Murphy, who spent 15 years on the ballot without winning a spot, Jack Morris could end his 15-year stint without being named to the Hall of Fame. But unlike Muprhy, Morris has come very close to being named to the Hall. And if he doesn’t make it, it could as easily be blamed on the current climate around the ballot as anything else.
Morris was on 67.7% of the ballotts last year — the year no one was named to the Hall. That level was 2nd overall last year, behind Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, and a host of other big names, names like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa—the names of those who we know were better players than Jack Morris, but who we also know used steroids. There seems little question that last year’s vote was meant symbolically to say: we would rather not put anyone in the Hall of Fame than elect you who used steroids.
After a stunning performance in the Red Sox’ division series against the Tampa Bay Rays that left him with a .500 2013 post-season batting average, Jacoby Ellsbury, along with his team mates, have been stopped cold by the Detroit Tigers’ pitching. After a 9 for 18 performance in 4 games against the Rays, Ellsbury is 0 for 6 in two games against the Tigers.
The division series’ have finished, and the number of Mormons in the playoffs is down to two. Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox and Doug Fister of the Detroit Tigers will both play in the American League Championship series, which begins on Saturday, and one of the two players will go on to face the National League champion in the World Series.
With the loss of the Pittsburgh Pirates to the St. Louis Cardinals last night, both Kyle Farnsworth and John Buck are out of post-season play. Not that their play has made much of a difference. The Pirates haven’t used Farnsworth at all, and had Buck substitute for catcher Russell Martin once — but Buck never got to the plate.
Just one game is left in the various division series, played tonight between the Oakland Athletics and the Detroit Tigers, who are tied 2-2 in their series. Both teams have Mormon players, although the Tigers’ starting pitcher Doug Fister is unlikely to make an appearance tonight.
Tiger’s starting pitcher Doug Fister struggled a little in the first two innings last night, giving up three hits and a run on a Jed Lowrie single. While Fister then settled down, he later gave up a 2-run home run to Lowrie in the 5th and was pulled after a scoreless 6th with the game tied. The Tigers later won the game 8-6.
No one is surprised, I suppose, that the Mormon athlete who performed best during the year is also best in the post season so far. Jacoby Ellsbury is nothing less than hot; hitting .571, scoring 6 runs and 2 rbis and swiping 3 bases in 3 games. The only question seems to be: can he keep it up?
Meanwhile, perhaps the most unlikely of the Mormons to start every game of the post-season, Elliot Johnson, will play no more, as the Atlanta Braves were eliminated last night by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Johnson’s performance wasn’t much help, he hit just .071 with 1 walk and 4 strike outs in four games and 14 at bats–worse than his regular season record by far.