Results tagged ‘ Hall of Fame ’

Reflecting on a 16-game winning streak

Earl Weaver was the star of the Carolina League's best team of all time--the 1950 Winston-Salem Cardinals. He is remembered at BB&T Ballpark with this plaque.

Earl Weaver was the star of the Carolina League’s best team of all time–the 1950 Winston-Salem Cardinals. He is remembered at BB&T Ballpark with this plaque.

Tonight, the Dash begin a three-game series against the Salem Red Sox, the defending champions of the Carolina League. They are 4-0 to start the 2014 season after wrapping up last year’s regular season with victories in their last six contests.

The 10-game regular season winning streak is incredibly impressive, and if you include their playoff run to the 2013 Mills Cup Championship, the Red Sox have come out on top in 15 straight games.

The Carolina League record for consecutive regular season wins is 16, and it resides in the Triad! Today, we reflect on one of the great teams in Minor League Baseball history: the 1950 Winston-Salem Cardinals.

(NOTE: Because postseason wins are involved with this consecutive streak, we are not sure if, by the Carolina League record books, Salem’s streak is 10 games or 15 games. We have an e-mail into league president John Hopkins about this. However, our guess is that the postseason wins will not count because postseason stats are not added to a player’s overall line).

The Cardinals were the first Carolina League team to crack the century-mark for wins in a season, going 106-47 in 1950. They finished a whopping 19 games ahead of the second-place Danville Leafs. In the playoffs, the Cardinals defeated the Reidsville Luckies and Burlington Bees to complete their championship year.

While Winston-Salem’s offensive numbers weren’t eye-popping individually, they collectively led the league in runs-per-game. They also featured the best pitching in the Carolina League and tied for the league lead in fielding percentage.

During a two-week stretch in June, the Cardinals bulldozed the competition, breaking the consecutive wins record set by Burlington in 1948 (13 games). When it was all said-and-done, the 16-game winning streak became the new standard for Carolina League success.

Among players, Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell had the most successful Major League career of anyone on the Winston-Salem roster. He pitched for nine seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets, compiling a 90-88 record and 3.85 ERA.

The most famous man on that 1950 Cardinals team, however, never played a day in the Majors. Earl Weaver was Winston-Salem’s second baseman that season, hitting .276. He later rose to prominence as manager of the Baltimore Orioles, leading that squad for 17 years. During his time in Baltimore, Weaver won 1,480 games, four American League pennants and the 1970 World Series. One of the most colorful skippers in baseball history, Weaver was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1996.

Since that historic Winston-Salem winning streak was established, it has only been challenged a couple of times. The 1959 Raleigh Capitals rattled off 15 straight wins, and the 2006 Salem Avalanche won 14 in a row. But the 1950 Cardinals remain atop the mountain, and this year’s Dash squad will look to defend Winston-Salem’s honor and halt the latest challenge.

– Dave

Weaver’s Ties To Winston-Salem

Earl Weaver while with the Winston-Salem Cardinals in 1950 (Bob Lemke).

Earl Weaver while with the Winston-Salem Cardinals in 1950 (Bob Lemke).

It is a somber Saturday morning in the baseball world. Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver has passed away at the age of 82. According to the New York Daily News, Weaver died of an apparent heart attack early this morning on an Orioles fantasy cruise.

Weaver’s claim to fame is his tremendous success as the manager of the Baltimore Orioles. Weaver was 1480-1060 (.583) in 17 seasons, and he led the O’s to four American League pennants. The Hall of Famer led Baltimore to the 1970 World Series title.

A man who Tim Kurkjian called “one of the three greatest managers of all time” on ESPN’s SportsCenter this morning, Weaver contributed to the greatest season in Winston-Salem history.

In 1950, the Winston-Salem Cardinals posted a Carolina League-record 106-47 (.693) mark and won the league’s title. Weaver was the club’s second baseman and hit .276 during the season.

Weaver never reached the big leagues as a player, so he began his managerial career in the minor leagues in 1956. The St. Louis native reached Baltimore as the skipper in the middle of the 1968 season, and he led the O’s to the Fall Classic in each of his first three full seasons.

We send our condolences to the Weaver family. Earl has a special place in baseball history and in Winston-Salem history.

– Brian

Thursday News And Notes

Bobby Thigpen spent three years in Winston-Salem before his recent promotion to the White Sox coaching staff (Brian Westerholt/Sports on Film).

December is almost here, so the Dash front office is busy spreading holiday joy, hanging out with Santa and gearing up for the holiday season. With 2013 approaching, big league organizations are making some important decisions for the upcoming season. Here are a few notes to quench your baseball thirst on a Thursday afternoon:

  • Congrats to Bobby Thigpen, who will join the White Sox staff as the bullpen coach. Thiggy was the Dash’s pitching coach from 2009-11 before spending this season with Double-A Birmingham in the same role. Thigpen was certainly a fan favorite here in Winston-Salem, and Chicago skipper Robin Ventura has known him for his entire career.
  • The Sox also announced that Daryl Boston, who spent 12 seasons as the organization’s outfield instructor, will join the big league staff in 2013 as the first base coach. Boston made a handful of stops in Winston-Salem this season, and it was good to occasionally chat with him. Congrats to him, too.
  • The only Carolina League team to announce its field staff for 2013 is the Carolina Mudcats, who will have a new look when the Dash open the campaign in Zebulon April 5. David Wallace becomes the Muddies’ manager after guiding Lake County, the Indians’ Low-A affiliate, to the playoffs this season. Hitting coach Rouglas Odor and pitching coach Jeff Harris will accompany Wallace, who replaces 2012 skipper Edwin Rodriguez. The former Marlins boss will lead Cleveland’s Double-A affiliate in Akron.
  • The White Sox have yet to announce their minor league staff assignments for 2013, but this news should be released soon. Last year, Dash fans learned that Tommy Thompson was Winston-Salem’s 2012 manager in mid-November, while the 2011 staff decisions were made public a few days before Christmas.
  • Earlier this week, the BBWAA released the 37-man ballot for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. More than 600 voters have until December 31 to submit their vote, and some notable (and controversial) names are on the list. A few players linked to performance-enhancing drugs (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa) will prompt many debates on the standards to reach the Hall of Fame. It should be fascinating to watch.

The Dash’s season opener is only 127 days away. We can’t wait!

– Brian

Track Dash Alums In Arizona

The Dash’s season may be over, but there are a handful of Winston-Salem alumni who will be playing for the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League, and their season begins tonight at 9:35 p.m. EST against the Mesa Solar Sox.

The AFL features some of minor league baseball’s top prospects, and each of the six teams on the circuit consists of representatives from five different MLB organizations. The Rafters boast prospects from the White Sox, Astros, Diamondbacks, Rockies and Tigers.

The White Sox have sent seven players to Salt River for the 2012 AFL season, and all of them made a stop in Winston-Salem en route to this opportunity. Pitchers Andre Rienzo, Santos Rodriguez, Salvador Sanchez and Taylor Thompson are with the Rafters, along with infielders Carlos Sanchez and Andy Wilkins and outfielder Trayce Thompson.

The Rafters will play 32 games over the next few weeks, and fans can track all of the AFL action here.

And if you have never heard of the AFL before, check out this list of AFL Hall of Famers. What a group.

– Brian

Eating Lunch With Rollie Fingers

A group of Dash players had an interesting lunch this afternoon before coming to the ballpark. Hall of Fame reliever Rollie Fingers, who is signing autographs here in Woodbridge during tonight’s game, was at the same local barbeque restaurant. Not only did he chat with the players, but he picked up the tab for all of them. Check it out:

By the way, Fingers still has his famous mustache. He will be hanging out with fans tonight after kicking it with minor leaguers this afternoon. It sounds like Rollie gets it.

Finally, for your pleasure, here is Fingers. What a ‘stache.

– Brian

Dash Relievers on Mariano Rivera

(Photo courtesy of AP/YES Network by way of SI).

If you are a baseball fan, I’m sure you heard the news about Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. He tore his ACL and a meniscus in his right knee while shagging fly balls during batting practice yesterday.

This is my fifth season covering baseball. I’ve never seen any sort of injury during batting practice. Pitchers hang out in the outfield and catch fly balls. It’s a part of the culture that is baseball, both in the majors and in the minors.

Here are a few Dash relievers on Rivera, his legacy, and shagging fly balls:

Chris Bassitt:

– (On his reaction to the news): “He’s still a kid at heart, but it’s a sad thing to happen. It was more of a shock and a sadness to hear. Everyone loved watching him.”

– (On looking up to Rivera): “Absolutely. I think every pitcher in the entire world looks up to him. To be as dominant as he is and as well-respected, definitely I looked up to him.”

Kyle Bellamy:

– (On Rivera’s legacy) “He’s the best closer of all time. He throws one pitch, and you know it’s coming, and still no one can hit it. It’s just unbelievable how someone can do that.”

– (On relievers shagging fly balls) “I go hard on fly balls. It gives you a chance to be an outfielder again. I couldn’t imagine getting hurt like that with an ACL tear just fielding fly balls. That’s terrible, and I feel bad for him. I really do.”

Leroy Hunt:

– (On Rivera’s abilities) “Every batter knows what’s coming, and for him to be so dominant in what he does with that cutter, it’s ridiculous.”

– (On his reaction to the injury) “It really sucks for him. He’s gonna be out for a year. That’s pretty horrible.”

We wish “Mo” all the best in his recovery. Hopefully, this is not the last image we have of him in a Yankees uniform.

– Brian