Delaware Baseball

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Make it six

Kevin Mench added his fifth conseutive homer yesterday and then a grand slam today against the Oakland Athletics to make it six straight. The five straight set a native Delawarean record, the six straight a Texas Rangers record. The major league record is 8, held by Don Mattingly, Dale Long and Ken Griffey, Jr.

Mench and the Rangers travel to Cleveland tomorrow to take on the Indians. Mench has one career home run at Jacobs Field, a two-run blst off of Scott Elarton last July.

Exciting stuff.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Four in a row

Last night, Kevin Mench hit a solo home run off of Oakland's Joe Blanton in a 3-2 loss to the Athletics. This was the fourth consecutive game that Mench has homered, tying the mark set by Dave May from August 4 through August 8, 1971 (May did not play on August 6th). The A's were also victims during this run. May hit his first, a three run-homer off of Joe Dobson, on the 4th. Solo shots then came off A's' Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter on the 5th, and the Royals' ken Wright and Dick Drago on the 7th and 8th, respectively.

Mench prefaced his Oakland homer with a trio off of Tampa Bay Devil Ray pitchers. Mench's streak started with his grand slam off of Seth McClung then followed it with a three-run homer off of Edwin Jackson and a two-run surrendered by Casey Fossum.

Monday, April 24, 2006

It's the shoes


No word on whether Kevin Mench is going to be a Nike spokesperson as a result. Be like Kev.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

A grand slam homer, that ain't no jive

Last night Kevin Mench hit a grand slam home run against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. This was the fourteenth grand slam hit by a native Delawarean in major league history. Chronologically, with the number of career grand slams in parentheses, they are listed below:

Kevin Mench (2), April 21, 2006
Kevin Mench (1), June 11, 2005
John Mabry (1), May 20, 2005
Chris Widger (1), August 27, 1998
Delino DeShields (1), June 21, 1995
Randy Bush (2), May 12, 1985
Randy Bush (1), July 28, 1984
Dave May (3), June 17, 1975
Dave May (2), September 9, 1973
Dave May (1), April 26, 1973
Costen Shockley (1), May 4, 1965
Bert Cunningham (2), September 4, 1999
Bert Cunningham (1), August 2, 1899
Pete Cassidy (1), April 28, 1899 (Inside-the-park)

Friday, April 14, 2006

The big toe of Delaware baseball

Few sports injuries have the power to terrify me like turf toe does. Damage a ligament in the elbow, have Tommy John surgery. Blow out a knee, have surgery and return a year later. Turf toe is debilitating and painful and largely treatment free.

Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Lambert, the most fearsome football player I can recall, anchor of the Steel Curtain defense of the Pittsburgh Steelers glory years, was forced to retire because of turf toe. As a youth from western Pennsylvania, I lived and breathed the Steelers and when Lambert succumbed to turf toe, I was aghast. Here was someone who inflicted and felt pain on a regular basis who was now being forced to quit the game he loved and excelled at because of a toe.

Almost a quarter century later, my geographical loyalties have shifted east but I am once again worried about a hometown athlete coping with turf toe. Kevin Mench is the victim of this malady and I am hopeful that the magnitude of his injury is no where near that of Lambert's.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Hitting streaks

Here in Delaware, a sporting suburb of Philadelphia, the recent big news has been the conclusion of the Phillies' Jimmy Rollins' consecutive game hitting streak. Rollins had hit in 36 straight to end the 2005 season and hit safely in his first two games this season before going hitless and stopping the streak at 38. Joe DiMaggio holds the major league record with 56 games.

I have not yet compiled daily total for every Delawarean so the list is not complete but at least three Delawareans have had hitting streaks of twenty games or more.

In May and June of 1997, John Mabry had a twenty game hitting streak. Mabry singled on May 19th against the Braves and had a hit in every game until June 10th against the San Diego Padres. During the streak he hit .418 (33 for 79). His best game came against the Colorado Rockies on June 3rd. Mabry went 3 for 4 with a three-run homer and six runs batted in.

From a June 28, 1993 game against the Pittsburgh Pirates until a July 22, 1993 game versus the San Diego Padres, Delino DeShields hit safely in 21 straight games as a member of the Montreal Expos. DeShields went 37 for 88 during the streak for a .420 batting average. Of DeShields 37 hits, 33 were singles. In addition to his hitting, DeShields was a terror on the basepaths, swiping ten steals during the streak.

The final hitting streak of twenty or more games by a native Delawarean was accomplished by Dave May of the Milwaukee Brewers. May's streak took place during an extraordinary July of 1973 where May hit safely in 28 of 30 games during the month. May had an eight game streak from June 26th through the first game of a July 3rd doubleheader. He went hitless in the second game and then started a 24 game streak against the Baltimore Orioles on the Fourth of July. His streak was ended in the final game of the month, the second game of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers.

May hit an even .400 (40 for 100) during his streak and was 51 for 127 (.402) during July. His 1973 season was one of the best ever by a native Delawarean. His 295 total bases led the league and is the most by a native Delawarean. His season marks of a .303 batting average, .473 slugging percentage, 156 games, 624 at bats, 189 hits and 93 runs batted in are all single season Delawarean records.

Friday, April 07, 2006

What is Delaware?

Over the years I have run, I have received a number of e-mails from people who have looked at the site. 99% of these e-mails come in two flavors.

Flavor one is "Hey, I'm a big Kevin Mench fan. Love the site". Always the person is a Kevin Mench fan. Never a Renie Martin fan. Never a Ken Szotkiewicz fan. Always a Mench fan. Everyone digs the longball, chicks and dudes.

Flavor two is "Hey, love the site. But you forgot to include Vic Willis, Dwayne Henry, Judy Johnson, Derrick May, Keith Garagozzo, Brian Lesher, Bill Bruton, Jake Wood, Mike Koplove.....(I have not received e-mails about all these players. Just beating you to the punch)"

This is another reason I started this blog. I hope to include some of these players who had Delaware connections but don't fall under the "native" label. It certainly is an arbitrary decision to only focus on those players whose birth certificates list them as being born in the First State, but I can tell you that I have had my hands full just researching the four dozen players who qualify as Delawareans under that definition.

Besides, it will be a lot more fun when I start to cover Brian Lesher.

Hopefully in the future I will write some about these other players who graced the Delaware landscape.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Opening Day

The baseball season began in earnest yesterday and hearing announcers talk about the now big deal of being named the Opening Day starter for a team got me wondering if native Delawareans have fared well in that department.

The results are inconclusive. I do not have readily available information for the 19th century, thereby making the count of two of the pitchingest Delawarean pitchers difficult to determine. Sadie McMahon was the starting pitcher in at least two Opening Day games, Bert Cunningham one.

In the twentieth century, Chris Short has been the only native Delawarean to start an Opening Day game, pitching on six Opening Days. The Phillies were 4-2 in those games. Five games were on the road, one at home.

Astonishingly, three of the games Short pitched were shutouts. On April 7, 1970, short blanked Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins and the Chicago Cubs on five hits, defeating them 2-0 in Short's only home Opening Day start. On April 10, 1968, the Dodgers and Claude Osteen went down on just four hits. Short struck out ten in the 2-0 victory.

Short threw his third 2-0 Opening Day shutout against the Houston Astros on April 12, 1965, earning the first win in a regular season game at the newly constructed Houston Astrodome. Short allowed just four hits, striking out eleven and walking three as he outpitched Bob Bruce.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Home run progression

There's a good chance that someone new will become the all-time leader in home runs by a native Delawarean this year. John Mabry is only a handful away and if Kevin Mench becomes the power hitter he appears to be developing into, he'll likely pass Mabry and everyone else. I thought it would be interesting to see who has been the all-time career leader over the years:

July 27, 1888 Bert Cunningham 1
July 13, 1890 Sadie McMahon 2
September 1, 1896 Bert Cunningham 4
April 24, 1910 Hans Lobert 10
June 11, 1972 Dave May 33
July 24, 1992 Randy Bush 96

I'm not sure which I find more interesting/entertaining; That a pitcher was the leading home run hitter from Delaware through 1910 or that the speedy Hans Lobert was the leader for over 62 years.

That got me thinking about the single season mark for Delawareans. Babe Ruth's 60 home runs held up for 44 years until Roger Maris broke it and then Maris' record was about that long, too. For Delawareans:

1888 Bert Cunningham 1
1890 Sadie McMahon 2
1899 Pete Cassidy 3
1908 Hans Lobert 4
1911 Hans Lobert 11
1971 Dave May 16
1973 Dave May 25
2004 Kevin Mench 26

Lobert's 1911 season held up for sixty years. Times have changed, though. Mench has hit a dozen or more three times in his first four seasons.