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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Today's Birthdays

My, what a day for birthdays ... and I just noticed that I missed out on writing something about Top 100 Angel Gene Mauch yesterday, too. Pretty busy today...

Bob Boone CAL b. 1947, played 1982-1988, All-Star: 1976, 1978-1979, 1983. Top 100 Angel Boone had a tremendous long career for a catcher, retiring after 19 seasons behind the dish. He came up with the Phillies in 1972, and won a ring with the World Champion 1980 squad; the Angels purchased his contract on December 6, 1981 following a .211/.279/.295 season. Boone was incredibly durable, catching a career-high 147 games in 1985 at the age of 37, a time when most catchers have retired. He played on two division winners and a third 90-win team (1985's second-place squad) that were the first golden age of Angels baseball. The Jamesian HoF Toy gives him a 102 score, which should mean a borderline Hall of Fame career; but likely that's a flaw in how the Toy works, or perhaps the fact that half his career was spent with the Angels, and voters won't give a break to a player who splits his career across franchises.

Roy Campanella BRO b. 1921, played 1948-1957, All-Star: 1949-1956, Hall of Fame: 1969 (BBWAA), d. 1993-06-26. Born of a black mother and an Italian father, Campanella was one of the Boys of Summer immortalized by Roger Kahn in his book of the same name, and is widely regarded as one of the three best catchers in the history of the game (the other two being Yogi Berra and Johnny Bench). Campy got his start playing for the Baltimore Elite Giants as a 15-year-old in 1937, playing only on the weekends to replace Hall of Famer Biz Mackey, who was "the sternest, hard-ridingest coach I ever knew," Campy said years later. "There were times when Biz Mackey made me cry with his constant dogging, but nobody ever had a better teacher."

In 1938, he quit school to catch professionally, and after Mackey was traded in 1939, Campanella became a full-time starter for Baltimore. In 1943, he played in a game for the Cincinnati Buckeyes without permission, which resulted in the Negro National League suspending him indefinitely. He jumped to the Mexican League, where he spent a year and change with relatively mediocre results. He resumed his career in the NNL in 1944, but it didn't last long, as Branch Rickey tapped him to integrate baseball, along with Jackie Robinson.

Campanella came up with the Dodgers in 1948, making the All-Star team every year from 1949 through 1956, and winning three MVP awards in 1951, 1953, and 1955. He is one of only fifteen major league catchers to catch three no-hitters:

  • June 19, 1952 with Carl Erskine, vs. Chicago
  • May 12, 1956, again with Carl Erskine, vs. the Giants
  • September 25, 1956, with Sal Maglie, vs. the Phillies
Campanella still rates in the franchise top ten for career and single-season slugging percentage, RBI, and home runs, and single-season OPS (1.006 in 1953).

His career was cut short by an auto accident that broke his spine and rendered him a quadriplegic. He outlived most such in that circumstance, passing away in 1993 after serving many years in the Dodgers' front office in community relations. The Postal Service recently honored him with a stamp.

Gary DiSarcina ANA,CAL b. 1967, played 1989-2000, All-Star: 1995. Third overall for games played at short in an Angels uniform, Top 100 Angel DiSarcina also is the only Angel to have two five-for-five games (May 13, 1998 and September 24, 1998). But durability was really his only good trait; his one truly good year in 1995 with a .307 average and an All Star appearance earned him loyalty he shouldn't have gotten.

Aurelio Monteagudo CAL b. 1943, played 1973, d. 1990-11-10

Eddie Morgan BRO b. 1914, played 1937, d. 1982-06-27

Andy Sheets ANA b. 1971, played 1999


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