Great to hear from you
Well, after my first blogging, it was great to hear from so many of you, even my fellow blogger, Tommy Lasorda, one of my all time favorites. I enjoyed reading your postings and remembered quite of few of the stories that you told. I?ll certainly try to answer a few of your questions. If you get a chance, don?t forget to check out my website and the MLB Alumni site, too.
Mark asked for my opinion on who is better with the glove at third base: Scott Rolen or Eric Chavez? That?s a tough question. I?ve always said the best is whoever you want it to be. I?m of the opinion that if you watched Chavez for 162 games or Rolen for 162 games, you?re going to say, "Hey, this guy?s the best.? I don?t really get a chance to see either Eric or Scott play that much but I have talked to Tony La Russa about Scott and I?ve talked to Jim Fregosi who managed him in Philadelphia, and they both say he?s as good as there is at third base. And of course, Eric has won several Gold Gloves for Oakland and he has been one of the best. They are both terrific third basemen.
In my day, I always considered Clete Boyer and Graig Nettles to be the best I played against. There was always that conversation about who was the best. I always tell people you don?t get better than Clete and Graig. It just comes down to who you watch — that?s the only way to separate them. I played with Luis Aparicio and Mark Belanger — how do you get any better than those two guys? You just watched them day in and day out make all the plays.
I get questions all the time about Mike Schmidt, especially the past few days while I was in Lancaster, Pa. Lancaster is a pro-Phillie town but if you go across the Susquehanna River to York, PA you?ll be in pro-Oriole territory. So, there was always that controversy. When Mike retired a few years after I did, I had a Philadelphia reporter who asked me who was the best — me or Mike? I told him the best was ?whoever you wanted it to be." He didn?t like the answer. He kept calling back. Finally, after the third call, I told him the greatest was Pie Traynor, Eddie Mathews was second, I was third and Mike was fourth. He didn?t like that answer — but I said it kind of tongue-in-cheek.
MY GREAT FRIEND, CHUCK THOMPSON
Octscotts asked me to share my thoughts on the passing of Chuck Thompson. Chuck was one of my all-time favorite people. He came to Baltimore about the same time I did — in the ’50s. We?ve been great friends since. He was one of the all-time great announcers. He?s in the Baseball Hall of Fame. I had the chance to work with Chuck for many years broadcasting for the Orioles. Chuck always had the right words for the right moments. I can remember one specific moment when I listened to Chuck and just sat there and shook my head knowing I was listening to the greatest. That moment came in 1979. Thurman Munson was killed in a plane crash and we were the next team to come to New York to play the Yankees. I was announcing the game with Chuck. Chuck put together a little eulogy — no notes — nothing. I just sat there in amazement. It was beautiful. Chuck was a close personal friend. The last few years were tough for Chuck and my thoughts are always with him.
Imthedaddypapa (that?s right — I don?t make up these names) posted that he named his oldest son Brooks — that?s quite an honor. I run into a lot of people who have been named after me — and a few pets, too. Last night, I ran into a good friend and long time great sportswriter, Bob Maisel, of the Baltimore Sun and he said he needed an autograph for someone who named their son Brooks. There are a few professional athletes that have my name. University of Wisconsin grad, Brooks Bollinger, is now playing football for the New York Jets. There?s also a fellow from the University of Texas named Brooks Kieschnick who was drafted in the first round by the Chicago Cubs and who played in the majors for a few different teams. I?ve met Brooks Kieschnick several times but haven?t had the chance to meet Brooks Bollinger but I follow his career.
It?s been a busy week. It seems like I have quite a few busy weeks — but I enjoy it. On Wednesday night, I was in Lancaster, PA for the opening of the new Clipper Magazine Stadium and the home opener of the Lancaster Barnstormers. It was a perfect evening for baseball. Almost 7500 people were part of the sold-out crowd. I?m part of a group called Keystone Baseball. We put together this ballpark. I helped turn the first spade of dirt when they broke ground over a year ago and to see this stadium come to fruition was very exciting. Lancaster is in the Independent League. They are currently in first place in the South Division of the Atlantic League. You can check them out at their official site.
A lot of players who played in the major leagues and those who still believe they can make it to the big leagues play in the Independent League. Ricky Henderson, one of the all-time greats, is playing in the Golden Baseball League, an independent league in California, with hopes of returning to the major leagues. Ruben Sierra and Jose Lima are just 2 of many players that have returned to the big leagues from the Independent League. It?s a terrific league with terrific players. I was impressed with the play. Joe Klein, former general manager of several big league teams, is the Commissioner. We?re trying to do the same thing in York, PA, where I played my first professional ballgame in 1955 and also in Waldorf, located in Southern Maryland.
On Thursday night, I was at the Gala to open the new Sports Legends Museum in Baltimore. It?s right at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Camden Station is one of the oldest train stations in the United States. It?s been made it into a Sports Legends Museum. It covers all the sports in Maryland. The O?s and Colts are the most prominent. I have a lot of things there. If you?re down this way to see and O?s game, I suggest you go there. It was about 10 years in the making and they?ve done a marvelous job.