The First Time I Watched a Major League Baseball Game

Hey baseball fans!

A lot of people ask me what the first MLB game I ever watched was. Well, I don’t remember which game, but I do remember which series: the 2007 American League Division Series between the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians.

The 2007 World Series would eventually be won by the Boston Red Sox, but the New York Yankees were actually the team to win the AL Wild Card with 94 wins. The Indians, meanwhile, won the AL Central with a record of 96-66. Because of the records of the playoff teams, the Yanks and the Tribe met in the first round of the postseason.

The 2007 ALDS was pretty uneventful, as Cleveland beat New York in four games in a best-of-five series, but there was one incident that will stand out to me forever: the Bug Game. Basically, Game Two of the series went into extras and Joba Chamberlain, who was pitching for the Yankees as a reliever in the additional innings, was attacked by a swarm of tiny insects. Play was stopped, but Joba ended up getting a blown save because of the biting creatures. It was an odd circumstance but still a memorable one.

Even though my team lost the series, I still began to follow the Yankees and have loved them ever since. So, in conclusion, thank you tiny insects for making me find my passion. Anyway I hope you enjoyed this post and thanks for reading it. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

An Interview with Ivan Rodriguez

Hey baseball fans!

I have another great interview for you today. It’s an interview I did in person when I was recently at the Hall of Fame. Here are some hints: he was a catcher and his nickname was “Pudge.” If you guessed Carlton Fisk, sorry you’re wrong. Here’s one more hint: he holds the all-time record for most Gold Gloves by a catcher with an amazing 13!!! Well, I’m sure by now you know that I’m speaking about the great Ivan Rodriguez.  Pudge played from 1991-2011 during which time he collected 2,844 hits and 311 homers and batted .296. He won the MVP in 1999, was a 14-time All Star and was instrumental in the Marlins’ 2003 World Series title run. He was unbelievable!! And behind the plate he was amazing! He threw out 46% of the guys who tried to steal off him.

Now, without further delay, if you’d like to watch my video interview with Pudge, just click here.

I hope you enjoyed the interview. Pudge was great. Thanks for reading and watching. Tune in again real soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

And if you want to read up on other great fielders and other awesome players in baseball history, please check out my book, Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers. Pudge is profiled in the Golden Gloves chapter.

A Chocolatey Snack (“M&Ms”) that Produced Many “Thwacks”

Hey baseball fans!

One of my favorite candies are M&M’s and I’m also a huge Yankees fan. So it’s only natural for this post to be about one of the greatest years in Yankee history: 1961, also known as the year of the race for the single-season home run crown between Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle (aka, the “M&M Boys”).

The 1961 New York Yankees came into the season wanting vengeance in the World Series, having just lost to the Pirates in the 1960 Fall Classic on the infamous Bill Mazeroski walk-off, World Series-winning home run. Mantle’s 1960 season was superb; he led the league in home runs with 40 and runs scored with 119. Maris finished the 1960 season with his first MVP Award, which he rightfully deserved after leading the league in RBIs with 112. Yankees fans knew in the back of their minds that 1961 was going to be a fun year, but they didn’t know how fun exactly.

Let me just start off with this: the 1961 Bronx Bombers are considered one of the best teams of all time, mostly because of the excellence of the M&M Boys, Mantle and Maris. In ’61, the two All Stars combined for 115 home runs, a record for most single-season home runs by teammates! They also combined for 269 runs batted in. What’s even more impressive about these two great hitters was that both of them had a shot at breaking a very prestigious record: Babe Ruth‘s single-season home run record of 60 bombs in a season.

Both Mantle and Maris were on pace to break the record, but Mickey was sidelined at the beginning of September for the remainder of the season. He totaled 54 home runs by the end of the regular season. Roger, on the other hand, did actually break the Bambino’s record, hitting 61 home runs in 1961! The city of New York was going bonkers that one, there was a new single-season home run king and two, the king is staying in New York! The Yankees eventually won the 1961 World Series in five games over the Reds and Maris won the 1961 MVP Award.

The M&M Boys will never be forgotten in Yankee lore because it was such an exciting time in the Bronx. It’s also very convenient for me that Maris hit 61 home runs in 1961, making it very easy to not mess up when telling the story of one of the greatest teams in baseball history. Anyway, thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

And if you want to read some more about Maris, Mantle, the Yankees or other great home run hitters, please check out my book, Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers.

An Interview with Famed Baseball Snagger, Zack Hample

Hey baseball fans!

I have a very cool interview for you today with none other than the man who caught Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th hit ball (a home run) and who has also snagged another 8,211 balls at baseball stadiums all over the world, namely Zack Hample.  Here’s a list by year of how many balls he’s caught broken down by date. Amazingly, he’s gotten over 20 balls in one day a bunch of times. Zack has even written three books, including one on how to snag Major League baseballs.

So, without further delay, here’s the interview:

Matt: Where do you store all of the 8,000 plus baseballs you’ve gotten at MLB stadiums? Are they insured?
Zack: I don’t still have them all because I’ve given lots of them away to kids, and I’ve also donated some to the charity Pitch In For Baseball. The ones I have are mostly at my mom’s place in huge barrels, and no, they’re not insured. Thanks for reminding me. [Note from Matt: Zack convinced the Yankees to donate $150,000 to Pitch In For Baseball when he gave the ball back to A-Rod. Way to go, Zack!!]

Matt: Since fans can get a little crazy at stadiums, have you ever gotten into a fight at a stadium with another person over a ball?
Zack: There’ve been a few arguments over the years, and I once got shoved hard from behind while running for a ball in Cleveland, but thankfully it has never been worse than that. Obviously, when there’s a finite number of objects that thousands of people all want for themselves, there’s going to be some tension, but I follow ballpark etiquette and do a good job of keeping the peace.

Matt: What’s the most prized ball in your collection (now that you’ve given back Alex Rodriguez‘s ball)? Have you ever sold any of the more valuable ones or have you donated any to the Hall of Fame?
Zack: I’ve never sold a baseball, nor has the Hall of Fame ever expressed interest in any of my baseballs. In addition to catching and returning A-Rod’s 3,000th hit, I did the same thing with Mike Trout‘s first career home run (see pic below), so my favorite ball that I still own is the final home run that the Mets ever hit at Shea Stadium [which was hit by Carlos Beltran]. [Note from Matt: While Zack may have caught Trout’s first HR, I have Trout on the cover of my book. See pic below.]

Matt: Have you tried to get a patent on your fishing rod sort of glove that I’ve seen you use in videos to retrieve balls?
Zack: Not only didn’t I patent it, but I gave away the secret for free. If people search for “glove trick” on the internet, my detailed blog entry with instructions on how to set it up will appear at the top.

Matt: Are you going to the All Star Game?
Zack: Yes! And the Home Run Derby. As part of the deal for giving A-Rod the ball from his 3,000th hit, the Yankees gave me free tickets to the All-Star events.

Matt: Of the balls you’ve gotten, how many were snagged at batting practice versus during a live game?
Zack: I’ve gotten 32 home runs during games, 159 foul balls, and one ground-rule double — all unassisted. I’ve also gotten lots of game-used balls tossed to me, including a bunch of home runs, which I don’t even bother counting in those categories because it’s too easy and predictable, but those balls do get counted in my grand total, which is currently at 8,212.

Matt: What are your ball catching goals in terms of stadiums, total snagged, anything else?
Zack: I want to snag at least one ball in as many different major league stadiums as possible, so whenever MLB plays regular-season games in a new venue, as was the case last year with the Opening Series in Australia, I’m there. My main goal is to reach 10,000 balls, and I’d also love to catch more important home run balls. Catching one in the World Series would be amazing. Same deal with an All-Star Game. I want to catch more grand slams, and someday I hope to catch a walk-off homer.

Anyway, I hope you liked this interview with Zack Hample. I wish him good luck at the All Star Game and with his other goals!!! And keep on reading for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

Seven Fun Facts About the MLB All Star Game

Hey baseball fans!

With the 2015 MLB All Star Game quickly approaching, here are seven fascinating facts about the history of the Midsummer Classic:

Number One: The First All Star Game

The first MLB All Star Game was held on July 6, 1933 in Comiskey Park in Chicago. The American League won the game, 4-2.


Number Two: Most All Star Game Appearances
The record for the most All Star Games appeared in is 25. Who owns this prestigious record, you ask? Well, it should come as no surprise to you that the answer is Hank Aaron. He made 24 All Star Games as a member of the Braves and one as a member of the Brewers.

Number Three: Which league is better when it comes to the ASG?
85 MLB All Star Games have been played and the National League has won 43 of them, the American League has won 40, and there has also been two ties, making the NL the more superior league when it comes to the Midsummer Classic.


Number Four: The Longest ASG Ever

In terms of time, the 2008 All Star Game is the longest one ever, finishing in four hours and 50 minutes. The ’08 Game is also tied for the longest Midsummer Classic in terms of innings with the 1967 Game. Both contests took 15 innings to complete.


Numer Five: Most All Star Game Starts

Hall of Famers Don Drysdale, Lefty Gomez, and Robin Roberts have each started a record five All Star Games.
 
Number Six: All Star Game MVP and World Series MVP in the Same Year
The only player ever to win the All Star Game MVP and the World Series MVP in the same season was Derek Jeter in 2000. After leading his team in batting average during the regular season (.339), Jeter helped the Yankees beat the Mets in the World Series.


Number Seven: The All-Purpose Pete Rose

Pete Rose was voted into the All Star Game as a first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, left fielder, and right fielder. Talk about versatility!

Hope you enjoyed my fun facts about the MLB All Star Game and thanks for reading them. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

And if you want to read up on other All Stars in baseball history, please check out my book, Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers. I am donating all my proceeds to charity

The American League’s Equivalent of the “Catch” and the Man Behind It

Hey baseball fans!

I’m sure many of you have heard of Jim Rice, the Hall of Fame slugger who played for the Boston Red Sox for 16 seasons, but just like Robinson and Collins, multiple Hall of Famers have the last name “Rice.” Who is the other Rice, you ask? Easy: Sam Rice.

Sam Rice played for the Washington Senators (the present-day Twins) and Cleveland Indians from 1915-1934. Just like Babe Ruth, Rice debuted in Major League Baseball as a relief pitcher, but transitioned over to right field permanently two years into his career and boy, what a career move! He batted .322 lifetime with 2,987 base hits, 1,514 runs, and 184 triples. Rice was also an excellent fielder, finishing near the league lead in outfield putouts and assists numerous times. Despite him playing for the Washington Senators, a very bad team for a very long time, Rice actually led the Sens to three pennants: 1924, 1925, and 1933. Rice put up okay numbers in the ’24 and ’33 Series, but he really shined in the 1925 Fall Classic against the Pirates. He batted .364 with 12 hits and five runs scored in the seven games.

But his most famous moment in the Series and perhaps in his entire career came in the bottom of the eighth of Game Three in Washington, D.C. with the Senators up, 4-3. With two outs, Pittsburgh’s catcher Earl Smith came to bat and hit a long and high drive to deep right-center field. Rice, who was playing in right field at the time, spectacularly caught the ball right before the wall, but then tumbled over the fence and into the stands, disappearing from the view of the umpires. When he returned onto the field, he had the ball in his hand and Smith was called out. The play was very controversial and remained so until Rice’s death in 1974, when it was revealed in a letter addressed to the Hall of Fame that he did in fact catch the ball. Still, it’s one of the most talked-about and disputed-over plays in baseball history. Unlike Willie Mays‘ catch (see picture below), there’s no film of Rice’s catch.

So, Rice said he made the catch, but what do you think? Do you believe this Hall of Famer or do you think he’s not telling the truth? Let me know in the comments down below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

My Interview Tally, So Far

Hey baseball fans!

Over the years, I’ve been very fortunate to have done a lot of great interviews (70, so far, to be exact). Some of the highlights have been both Presidents Bush, Commissioner Manfred, Commissioner Selig, HOF President Jeff Idelson, 15 Hall of Famers (plus a few soon-to-be Hall of Famers), Sandy Alderson, Mark Attanasio, Fred Lynn, Billy Crystal and Alan Trammell. Please see below for the complete listing of everyone I’ve ever interviewed since I started my blog in 2012. If you’d like to access the links to any of the interviews I’ve done so far, just click on the names in the listing below. And in case you were wondering who I still want to interview, but who I haven’t been able to get yet, they include: Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Joe Torre, Cal Ripken, all other living Hall of Famers, Mike Trout, Derek Jeter, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Jerry Seinfeld, all living Democratic Presidents, Fidel Castro (believe it or not, I was pretty close on this one) and Mo’ne Davis.

 

Interviews by Matt:

Thanks for reading this post. If you know of anyone who might want to be interviewed by me, whether they’re on my wish list above or not, just contact me at mattamdad@gmail.com. And tune in soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”And if you want to read about even more baseball history, please check out my book, Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers.

An Interview with Hall of Famer Tony Perez

Hey baseball fans!

It’s time for another Hall of Fame interview!! This one is with Hall of Famer and RBI machine (1,652 in total), Tony Perez!  Perez was a seven-time All Star and three-time World Series champion who played mainly for the Cincinnati Reds of the 1970s (the legendary “Big Red Machine”). He played first and third, and is the only Major Leaguer in the Hall to be born in Cuba!! If you want to watch the interview on YouTube, just click here.

Thanks so much for watching the video and I hope you enjoyed it. Please check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

And if you want to read up some more on the Reds and baseball history in general, please check out my book, Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers. 

The Immaculate Inning

Hey baseball fans!

One of the coolest things that a pitcher can achieve in baseball is an immaculate inning. What is an immaculate inning, you ask? Well, an immaculate inning is simple: nine pitches, all strikes, three strikeouts. It’s one of the rarest occurrences in baseball history; it’s only happened 80 times in baseball history!

Coincidentally, the four pitchers who have pitched multiple immaculate innings currently reside in the Hall of Fame: Lefty Grove, Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, and Randy Johnson. No one has ever pitched more than two immaculate innings in his career, except for Koufax, who has three immaculate innings on his resumé, and Ryan is the only one to do it in multiple leagues. His first perfect inning came on April 19, 1968 with the Mets and the second came on July 9, 1972 with the Angels. Other notable pitchers who have pitched immaculate innings include Rube Waddell, Jim Bunning, Ron Guidry, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Felix Hernandez, Dazzy Vance, Robin Roberts, Bob Gibson,  Bruce Sutter, and Orel Hershiser.


How cool would it be to throw an immaculate inning? I would be jumping out of my seat if I did that in a video game, let alone on an actual baseball diamond. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

And, if you’d like to read about other great pitching feats in baseball history, please check out my book, Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers.

Save the Date!! I’m Doing a Book Signing at the National Baseball Hall of Fame!!!!

Hey baseball fans!

As most of you know, I’ve written a book about baseball history called Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers published by Summer Game Books. The book’s foreword is written by none other than Hall of Famer Jim Palmer, and I’m giving all of my proceeds to four charities: ALS, Turn2, the Jackie Robinson Foundation and the Hall.

I’ve been very fortunate to have done a bunch of book signings, including at Barnes & Noble, Words, the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse, and the Teaneck Doghouse.

Well, guess what??!! I’ve been invited to do a signing on August 22nd at probably my favorite place on Earth, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Here’s a screenshot of the actual web page and here’s a link to the HOF web page:

I hope some of you can make it to my signing.

And check back again real soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

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