Farewell to Don Zimmer, colorful baseball lifer. I first remember him from his days managing the Chicago Cubs (The Boys of Zimmer! (well, some of it) when I was a fan because they were on superstation WGN every afternoon. There was his long tenure as Joe Torre’s bench coach with the New York Yankees during their great run in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He even managed the team in 1999 when Torre was getting cancer treatments. He also managed the San Diego Padres and Boston Red Sox, being on the losing end of Bucky “Q@#%&-ing” Dent. Thankfully.
Zimmer finished his playing career with the Washington Senators after his second stop with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Nats Enquirer’s post describes how Zimmer found out he was leaving L.A. for D.C. Zimmer had most of his on-field success with the Dodgers, being part of their first two championship teams in Brooklyn and L.A., respectively. He also played for the Cubs and the ’62 New York Mets. He was employed by the Tampa Bay Rays at the time of his death.
Connie Marrero, who would have been 103 years old this week, has died. He pitched for the Washington Senators for five seasons, beginning as a 39 year old rookie in 1950. His overall record was a respectable 39-40 (Baseball Reference) and he was an All Star in 1951. Marrero was celebrated as the oldest living baseball player in his native Cuba where he was a legend. Ted Williams said Marrero threw “everything but a ball” while Marrero liked to say he “threw everything but his cigar.”
Marrero’s contributions to D.C. baseball did not end with his career. As a prominent figure in Cuban baseball, he continued to teach. Among his proteges is Livan Hernandez, tied for all-time modern Nats wins with Jordan Zimmerman. Marrero taught Hernandez how to throw the curve which is detailed in a DC Sports Bog post – Connie Marrero, oldest Major Leaguer and former Senators pitcher, dies at 102.
I am not aware of any tribute by the current Nats, but hopefully they can do that tonight. ¡LIVAN! is still in the organization, so they ought to work with him on celebrating the unique life of Marrero.
A Northwest Washington native, Heller began working for newspapers when he was in high school, covering high school sports for The Washington Daily News. He also worked for the Richmond Times-Dispatch and The Alexandria Gazette before joining The Washington Star, where he covered University of Maryland athletics until the newspaper closed in 1981…
…Following a stint at The Miami Herald, Heller joined The Washington Times in 1986, and he became a columnist in the early 1990s. He remained with the newspaper until it folded its sports section in December 2009, then contributed bi-weekly columns for a time after the section returned in March 2011.
Heller covered the Washington Senators in the 1960s and was featured in a documentary or two about the D.C. baseball. My favorite columns of his were about the end of Griffith Stadium and his anti-Texas Rangers ones, though the alternative turned out to be a bit unpalatable as well.
One of my favorite characters of the NFL, Art Donovan died Sunday at age 89. I have enjoyed Donovan’s storytelling since I can remember, mostly through NFL Films, but also his book “Fatso” which I used to own before lending it to someone who didn’t give it back. I later learned he had been a regular on David Letterman’s shows which got him the book deal. As for his autobiography, he “never read it.” I also remember seeing footage of him in tears when his Baltimore Colts left for Indianapolis in 1984.
Here’s a clip of him on Letterman from 1988:
Donovan, a son of the Bronx, was a Marine, serving in World War II. He was awarded the Asiatic Pacific Area Ribbon and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon. He also stole a case of spam and to avoid being sent to the brig, he was forced to eat all 30 pounds of it, which he did in 9 days. When his time had come, he wanted to go under a tree at his country club eat too many kosher hot dogs and drink a case of Schlitz and then explode. Based on the obituary in The Sun, that didn’t see to happen. Make sure you read that obituary too, it is a great one. Check out the NFL.com obit too, it has a great video tribute (which isn’t embeddable).
The D.C. portion of the Battle of the Beltways has concluded with a split. The Washington Nationals lost game 1, badly, and then rocked the Baltimore Orioles last night 9-3. In other words, the Nats are playing about the same as they always do this season.
Nate Karns debuts, can’t go 5 for a win, but shows promise. 4 home runs, 2 from Adam LaRoche and back-to-back by Tyler Moore and Roger Bernadina. Is Moore finally hitting? Seems like it. VIDEO RECAP
I did not bother with my annual “why rooting for the Orioles is like rooting for Iran” or something along those lines post. How many times can I write the same thing? If not for the ridiculous “compensation for Peter Angelos” the Nats being kept off most D.C. area cable systems for most of 2 seasons and the awful coverage we’re forced to endure on MASN, I’d be pretty ambivalent about Baltimore’s baseball team. Their fans on the other hand, will not be missed. Enrico Pallazzo pays the national anthem more respect than they do.
There have been annoyances during the series, like the combination of both team’s broadcasters (does anybody like it?) and MASN incompetence (Nats Enquirer). You get the feeling for a lot of D.C. sports media the previous two games were their favorite of the year, because they get to see their team visit D.C.?
Oh and Bryce Harper is probably still out, so don’t count on him hitting the warehouse at Oriole Park tonight or tomorrow. One columnist, whose paper cuts sports in about 2 days, was hyping that up. Reluctant superstarJordan Zimmermann is on the mound tonight.
I’ll pay Bob Carpenter’s remarks about Nats fans as much attention as I pay him in the booth. Nice guy, mediocre play-by-play man at best, completely replaceable. It certainly does feel “fashionable” to get down on the Nats this week.
Lastly, RIP Lewis Yocum, who performed Tommy John surgery on Stephen Strasburg, Zimmermann and prospects Lucas Giolito and Sammy Solis. The Hall of Fame really needs to start a “doctor wing” to honor Yocum, Frank Jobe, James Andrews, etc.
Lastly, taking 2 of 3 from the Phillies over the weekend was nice.
The Town of Vienna, Va.’s preeminent historian Mayo Sturdevant Stuntz, aged 97 years, has died. Stuntz was a lifelong resident and co-author of the book “This Was Vienna, Virginia” that was published in the late 1980s. He visited my social studies class and shared with us his memories of the town.
My brother Christopher, who provided a photograph of the book included here added “the town of Vienna will owe him a debt of gratitude for generations to come.”
FROM VIENNA PATCH Remembering Vienna’s ‘Unofficial Historian’
Another great voice has left us — Pat Summerall, who for so many years handled play-by-play for NFC football games along side John Madden on CBS and then FOX. Prior to my time, it was Tom Brookshier working with Summerall. It seemed every autumn Sunday, Summerall and Madden would be in some NFC East city or maybe Chicago or San Francisco doing the 4 p.m. game which we watched by a roaring fire. As television memories go, they were some of the best.
Summerall was a rather restrained in his play-by-play, mostly letting the picture tell the story. His smooth voice added excitement and gravitas that somebody like Joe Buck could only dream of having. Summerall also knew that he was the straight man, setting up John Madden‘s excitable and thorough analysis. In their prime, they were the best and it wasn’t close. The pairing was the measuring stick for how important the game was — when the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys had a Sunday game without Summerall and Madden, it was a story in D.C.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who can still hear Summerall winding down a broadcast with “Stay tuned for “60 Minutes” followed by “Murder She Wrote” and the CBS Sunday Night Movie… (EXCEPT ON THE WEST COAST)” He was a natural. In addition to football, Summerall also did golf and tennis for CBS.
When FOX shocked everybody by taking over the NFC rights, Summerall and Madden moved over to the fourth network, lending more credibility to its coverage than it deserved. As much as I may have liked the Simpsons, it was still a bit grating to hear Summerall promote “Married…with Children, the Simpsons, etc.” It wasn’t long after the switch to FOX that Summerall began a decline, mostly due to age.
Before becoming a sportscaster, Summerall was a kicker in the NFL, mostly with the Chicago Cardinals, but most famously with the New York Football Giants. In fact, one of the surprising things about long-time Yankee Stadium p.a. announcer Bob Sheppard was that when asked about his favorite moment it wasn’t about the Yankees:
Mara recalled how Phil Rizzuto once asked Sheppard on TV during a rain delay for his fondest Yankee Stadium moment.
“Much to The Scooter’s dismay, Bob replied, ‘The day Summerall kicked the field goal in the snow to beat Cleveland in 1958,’” Mara said.
Darrell Green’s punt return touchdown against the Chicago Bears in 1987-88 playoffs
Green again, one week later. Maybe not the best example, but I don’t think many Washingtonians will complain…
Week 15 of the 1983 season opener between the Redskins vs. Cowboys
The beginning of the last CBS broadcast, the 1993 NFC Championship Game. The pool halls scene is nothing special , but what follows is perfect Summerall narration and a subtle, but appropriate sendoff.
Jack Pardee, the head coach of the Washington Redskins between George Allen and Joe Gibbs, died recently at age 71. He had been a member of the “Over the Hill Gang” under Allen and was a head coach within five years of retirement.
DC Sports Bog has a great feature on Pardee with excepts from original Post coverage of his hiring and dismissal. Pardee was coach of the year in 1979, but missed out on the NFC East title and playoffs by one point following Roger Staubach’s final comeback as Dallas Cowboys quarterback. A year later, Pardee was out of a job after a season that John Riggins held out. Two years later, Joe Gibbs won Super Bowl XVII as a second year coach.
Pardee later coached the Houston Oilers. In 1991, the Oilers came into RFK Stadium to face the undefeated Redskins. The visitors nearly upset the hosts too, but the Houston kicker missed, claiming athletic supporter malfunction. I chronicled that a while back in this blog post: Redskins vs. Texans prediction and remembering Ian Howfield.
Pardee also coached the Chicago Bears before the Redskins, the USFL’s Houston Gamblers and the University of Houston before the Oilers. He was one of the “Junction Boys” at Texas A&M under Bear Bryant, surviving brutal training conditions in a brutal west Texas drought. As a member of the Los Angeles Rams, he survived melanoma and resumed his career.
Shelby Whitfield, former Senators broadcaster, dies at 77 – The Post
The alumni of the Washington Senators, on and off the diamond, just got smaller again. Shelby Whitfield, who broadcasted the Senators with Ron Menchine on radio and television for the 1969 and 1970 seasons died. Though his tenure in the RFK Stadium press box was brief, Whitfield wrote a book about the end of the Senators at the hands of owner Bob Short called “Kiss it Goodbye. (Amazon)”
He described Short, who died in 1982, as “an intimidating, domineering person” who was slow to pay his bills. Short asked announcers to inflate crowd numbers, Mr. Whitfield wrote, and to say the weather was always sunny, “even if the floodwaters were lapping the sides of RFK Stadium.”
The book helped prompt the Federal Communications Commission to launch hearings into the ethics of sports broadcasting. In 1974, the FCC passed a regulation — since rescinded — requiring announcers to disclose during games whether they were employees of a team, a league or a broadcasting company.
After leaving the Senators beat, Mr. Whitfield worked for WWDC-AM as the host of “Sports Roundtable,” one of Washington’s first radio sports talk shows. Mr. Whitfield later spent seven years as the Washington-based sports director of Associated Press Radio before going to New York in 1981 as sports director of ABC Radio.
I’ll have to add that to my reading list.
Whitfield’s career also included co-authoring a book with Howard Cosell.
The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA) was formed in 1982 in order to promote the game of baseball, raise money for charity, inspire and educate youth through positive sport images and protect the dignity of the game through former players. A nonprofit organization, the MLBPAA establishes a place where a player’s drive for excellence and achievement on the field can continue long after they take their last steps off the professional diamond.
Hinton was present at the “baseball is back” announcement at the City Museum in September 2004. I don’t know why the Washington Nationals did not bring Hinton into the fold. From all indications, Hinton was a credit to the sport. It is unfortunate he was not as well known as he should have been.