Holiday Greeting/New Beginnings/Holiday Blog

December 23, 2013

As this will be the final edition of my Opening Day blog for 2013, I first wanted to take the opportunity to wish all of you a happy and healthy holiday season. I hope you will be doing something relaxing and enjoyable, whether it be at home or travelling. You hear from me enough, so I am dispensing with my usual annual holiday card.

Before I get to the blog, however, I have some other news to relay. After 20 + years at my firm, I (along with my legal team) will be joining a new organization for the 2014 season and beyond. As of January 6, 2014, we will be members of Raines Feldman located at 9720 Wilshire Boulevard, Fifth Floor, Beverly Hills, CA 90212; Tel. No. 310-440-4100; Email address rdecker@raineslaw.com. Feel free to email me if you want in the interim either at my current email address or at r7decker@me.com. I will be taking a short hiatus from the blog until I get settled in, but expect to have the blog up and running again by February 1 at the latest (so if you are a fan don't worry). My colleagues and I are very excited about our new beginning.

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Blog #67 (Al Leiter)

December 11, 2013

This week there is no legal section of the blog.

Now for the Opening Day memory:

Although left handed starting pitcher Al Leiter began and ended his career with the New York Yankees in 1987 and 2005, respectively, his real major league accomplishments occurred in between. His career didn't really take off until 1993 with the Toronto Blue Jays because of blisters and other injuries, but that year he appeared in 5 post season games and earned a win in Game 1 of the World Series in which the Blue Jays beat the Philadelphia Phillies for their and his second consecutive World Championship. After two more solid seasons in Toronto, Al left for the Florida Marlins in 1996 and it was there that his career really took off. In 1996, he won 16 games with a 2.93 ERA and 200 strikeouts, made the All Star team and pitched the Marlins first ever no hitter against the Colorado Rockies. In 1997, he started the Marlins Game 7 World Series victory and earned his third World Championship ring. Almost immediately thereafter, he was traded to the New York Mets as part of the infamous Marlins first fire sale, where he went on to have what arguably were

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Blog #66 (Glenn Hoffman)

November 27, 2013

This week there is no legal section of the blog.

Now for the Opening Day memory:

Probably more well known for being the older brother of San Diego Padres star reliever Trevor Hoffman, Glenn Hoffman played shortstop in the majors for 9 years and has coached for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Padres for close to double that. Glenn played for the Boston Red Sox from 1980-1987, the Dodgers for part of 1987 and for the Angels in 1989. He was known more for his defensive abilities than his offense, ending his career with a .242 batting average and 23 home runs. Glenn was named the interim manager of the Dodgers for the second half of the 1998 season (replacing Bill Russell). In 1999, Glenn was a coach for the Dodgers under new manager Davey Johnson and he continued as a coach for the Dodgers through the 2005 season. In 2006, he moved to the Padres where he has coached since. Here is his Opening Day memory.

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Blog #65 (Dan Mattingly)

November 13, 2013

This week there is no legal section of the blog.

Now for the Opening Day memory:

As my all time favorite player along with Mickey Mantle, it is painful for me to see Don Mattingly--also known as "Donnie Baseball" and the "Hit Man"--in anything but the Pinstripes and more so not in the Hall of Fame (but I will try not to lament further here). From 1984-1989, Don arguably was the best player in the game and on the fast track to Cooperstown. I made the friend, who I came with, leave a New York Giants game at half time when they were down 27-14 so I could go watch Don battle Dave Winfield for the 1984 batting title, which Don won on the last day of the season .343 to .340 by going 4-5. By the way, the Giants came back and won 28-27, and I told my angry friend to be thankful we didn't stay or his team would have lost. Don followed up his 1984 batting title (he also hit 23 HRs, had 110 RBIs, 44 2Bs and led the AL with 207 hits) with the MVP in 1985 with this hitting line--35 HR 145 RBI .323 AVG and 48 2Bs. He got robbed by the sportswriters and Roger Clemens (the Cy Young award was enough) in the MVP voting in 1986 when he hit .352 with 31 HRs, 113 RBIs and an AL leading 238 hits and 53 2Bs (both Yankee records) and might have won the batting title again if Wade Boggs didn't sit out the last game of the season to preserve his lead. In 1987, Don hit .327 with 30 HRs and 115 RBIs including 8 consecutive HRs and 6 grand slams, both of which tied major league records.

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Blog #64 (Chris Chambliss)

October 30, 2013

This week there is no legal section of the blog.

Now for the Opening Day memory:

The two things I most remember about first baseman Chris Chambliss are that he is the first player I physically met and talked to in a major league clubhouse about Opening Day and his walk off pennant winning home run against the Kansas City Royals in the 1976 playoffs that put the New York Yankees back in the World Series for the first time since 1964 when I was five. It was quite the big deal to me as you might imagine. Chris began his major league career with the Cleveland Indians in 1971 and was included in what with hindsight was a lopsided multi-player trade to the Yankees in 1974 which I remember fondly. Chris starred with the Yankees through 1979 where he was a World Champion twice in 1977 and 1978, an All Star in 1976 and a Gold Glove recipient in 1978. He was traded to the Atlanta Braves in 1980 and he played for them in the National League until 1986. He returned to the Yankees for one at bat in 1988 in which he struck out. He finished his career with a respectable .279 average, 185 home runs and 972 RBIs. After retiring, he became a hitting coach for the Yankees and others. Chris and Willie Randolph are the only two men to have worn Yankee uniforms for all of the 6 Yankees World Championships immediately before their last in 2009 (1977 and 1978 as players and 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000 as coaches). Here are his Opening Day memories.

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Blog #63 (Bud Harrelson)

October 16, 2013

This week there is no legal section of the blog.

Now for the Opening Day memory:

Bud Harrelson was one of my favorite New York Mets players. He was a slick and steady fielding shortstop for the Mets from 1965-1977 and an important cog on the 1969 Miracle Mets World Championship team. He was a switch but light hitter with only 7 career home runs and a very distinctive batting stance from both sides of the plate where he choked what seemed like almost halfway up the bat. It was one of my favorite batting stances to imitate growing up. He also was Tom Seaver's roommate. Bud won a gold glove in 1971 and was an All Star in 1970 and 1971. I can remember like it was yesterday the fight at second base Bud had with Pete Rose in the NLCS in 1973 after Pete slid into him while he was covering second. After the Met fans at Shea pelted Pete with debris and Sparky Anderson pulled the Cincinnati Reds off the field, Seaver, Rusty Staub, Cleon Jones and Willie Mays had to go to the bleachers to beg the fans to stop so the game could continue. They did, the game resumed and the Mets beat the mighty Reds (the beginning of the Big Red Machine era) in that game and upset them in the NLCS before losing to the Oakland A's in the World Series. Bud (unfortunately for me) was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies before the 1978 season (where he played with Pete Rose and former teammate Tug McGraw) and he concluded his playing career with the Texas Rangers in 1980. Thereafter, Bud coached for the Mets including in their 1986 World Championship season and managed the Mets for parts of 1990 and 1991. He currently is a co-owner of the Long Island Ducks minor league franchise. I recently read and enjoyed his book entitled "Turning Two." Here is his Opening Day memory--a short one.

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Blog #62 (Brett Butler)

October 2, 2013

This week there is no legal section of the blog.

Now for the Opening Day memory:

Brett Butler was arguably one of the game's best lead off hitters in the 1980's and 1990's. He was well travelled in his 17 year career, playing for the Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets and the Dodgers again where he concluded his career. He made the All Star team in his first year with the Dodgers in 1991. He finished his career with a very respectable .290 average, 2375 hits and 558 stolen bases. He was an outspoken critic of the replacement players who the owners brought in during the 1994-1995 labor stoppage. Since retirement, he has managed and coached. Here is his Opening Day memory.

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Blog #61 (Bo Belinsky)

September 18, 2013

This week there is no legal section of the blog.

Now for the Opening Day memory:

Bo Belinsky unfortunately has passed away since I interviewed him, but I will always remember him as one of my more engaging and friendly subjects. Bo ultimately became more renowned for his off the field exploits rather than his baseball activities, but he did begin his major league career quite auspiciously. He won his first four starts of the 1962 season with the expansion Los Angeles Angels, the fourth being the Angels first ever no hitter (against the Baltimore Orioles). Thereafter, he became a Southern California celebrity and admitted womanizer and was linked romantically with, among others, Ann Margaret, Tina Louise, Connie Stevens and Mamie Van Doren, to whom he became engaged. He also got sued in his rookie year by a Hollywood nightclub cashier for alleged assault, which did not help his baseball career. He ended up winning only 10 games in 1962 despite the fast start and led the league in walks. He also was the victim of the first ever no hitter against the Angels by Earl Wilson of the Boston Red Sox. The next year, after a horrible 1-7 start, Bo got sent to the minors. In 1964, he had a good season winning 9 games with a 2.86 ERA. But he got in a highly publicized fight with a sportswriter and was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. He lasted there until 1966, and then had stints primarily as a long reliever with the Houston Astros in 1967, Pittsburgh Pirates in 1969 and Cincinnati Reds in 1970. He finished his career with a won loss record of 28-51. After his baseball career, he married and divorced a Playboy Playmate of the Year and an heiress. He overcame alcoholism and became a Born Again Christian in, of all places, Las Vegas, where I had the opportunity to meet him while he was working for a Kia dealership. Here are his Opening Day memories.

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Blog #60 ("Bip" Roberts)

September 4, 2013

This week there is no legal section of the blog.

Now for the Opening Day memory:

"Bip" Roberts was a speedy journeyman middle infielder (primarily at second base) who played for 6 different teams from 1986-1998, including the San Diego Padres twice. He also played for the Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers before closing out his career with the Oakland A's. Bip has an impressive career batting average of .294 and 264 lifetime stolen bases. His best season was 1992 with the Reds, where he hit .323 with 44 steals and was a National League All-Star. He also tied a major league record that year with 10 consecutive hits. In 1994 in his second stint with the Padres, he had a 24 game hitting streak. I must say that Bip was a better hitter than I remembered. He currently broadcasts for the San Francisco Giants and coaches high school baseball in Oakland. Here is his Opening Day memory.

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Blog #59 (Bill Rohr)

August 21, 2013

This week there is no legal section of the blog.

Now for the Opening Day memory:

I first met Bill Rohr in the 1990's in a deposition in California where we were both defending our respective clients in a construction defect case. But as a Yankee fanatic, I knew who Bill really was - that unknown Boston Red Sox southpaw who pitched the game of his life against the Yankees in their 1967 home opener - a one hitter against Hall of Famer Whitey Ford, which as he told me himself, is even one of Whitey's most memorable Opening Day experiences. Mr. Rohr followed up that performance in his next start, again against the Yankees, with a 6-1 victory. But Bill would win only one more major league game, finishing his career with a lifetime record of 3-3. He made his last major league appearance the next year with the Cleveland Indians in 1968. I really enjoyed my conversations with Bill. Our case went on for awhile and, at a subsequent deposition, I brought Bill an article about that 1967 Opening Day game and we read it together - a great memory for me. Here is Bill's Opening Day memory:

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Blog #58 (Art Shamsky)

August 7, 2013

This week there is no legal section of the blog.

Now for the Opening Day memory:

Although I doubt many of the non-New York readers have ever heard of him, Art Shamsky was one of my favorite players in the late 1960's and early 1970's (because he was a New York Met, a lefty with some power and Jewish). I told him that when we spoke, and just to make sure he believed me, I told him how I used to make my mom drive me to his bar in New City, New York which he owned with former Yankee Phil Linz (the Marshmallow--which, for my high school friends, later became Maximus) in 1970 so that I might see him and get his autograph. That never happened (with hindsight, very unlikely to have occurred at 10 or 11 a.m. on a week day when we would visit) but after hearing I actually did that, Art definitely believed that he was one of my favorites. Art's career was only 8 years (1965-1972) due to back problems, but his Mets' tenure (1968-1971) left a mark on me, especially the 1969 World Champion Miracle Mets season when he hit .300 in the regular season and .538 in the NLCS. He platooned with Ron Swoboda in right field; he was the lefty hitter and Swoboda the righty. Before coming to the Mets, Art played for the Cincinnati Reds, where in 1966 he achieved a historical feat. He hit home runs in four consecutive at bats, historical in itself, but it was the way he did it that really was historical. His first three at bats occurred after he came in the game in the 8th inning as part of a double switch. He homered in the bottom of the eighth, and twice more in extra innings, with each one prolonging the game. He then hit his fourth home run in the next game as a pinch hitter. He is the only major league player to homer three times in a game which he did not start, and as a result, the bat which he used resides at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Art concluded his career in 1972 with the Oakland A's after post-Met pit stops in St. Louis with the Cardinals and in Chicago with the Cubs (the Mets broke my heart for the first time when they traded him to the Cardinals). Post retirement, he has been involved in real estate, broadcasting, managing (in the Israel league with another Jewish player Ken Holtzman), television (guest episode as himself on "Everybody Loves Raymond" with other members of the 1969 Mets) and writing (great book about the Mets, Jets and Knicks championships in 1969-70). Here are his Opening Day memories:

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Blog #57 (Dave Stewart)

July 24, 2013

This week there is no legal section of the blog.

Now for the Opening Day memory:

If one were to discuss "money" starting pitchers, Dave Stewart would have to be at the top of the list. Dave was at his best in the post season, where on the road to becoming a World Champion twice (with the Oakland A's and Toronto Blue Jays), he was 8-0 in and a two time MVP of the ALCS. He also had a career 9-1 record against Roger Clemens. Money. Dave's major league career, which began in 1978 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, certainly did not start smoothly. From 1978 until 1986, he floundered around in both the bullpens of the Dodgers, Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies and the minor leagues, and ultimately was released by the Phillies in 1986. After being rescued from the proverbial scrap heap by the A's in 1986, he merely was a 20 game winner for four consecutive years (1987-1990) with his best statistical year occurring in 1990 when he was 22-11 with a 2.56 ERA and led the American League with 267 innings pitched, 11 complete games and 4 shutouts. He was named MVP of the A's 1989 World Series win over their local rival San Francisco Giants (the "Earthquake World Series"), winning two games including the series opener via shutout. He followed that postseason in 1990 with two wins against the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS, where he was named MVP, but the A's were upset (in fact swept) by the underdog Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. During the 1990 regular season, he no-hit the Toronto Blue Jays the same night the Dodgers' Fernando Valenzuela no-hit the St. Louis Cardinals, the first time ever there were no hitters in different leagues on the same day. After the A's lost to the Blue Jays in the 1992 ALCS, Dave signed with the Blue Jays, was named the MVP of the ALCS against the Chicago White Sox and was a World Champion for the second time when the Blue Jays beat the Phillies in the 1993 World Series (highlighted by Joe Carter's walk off home run in Game 6). Dave finished his career with the A's in 1995, did some coaching for various teams and now runs a sports agency where he has Matt Kemp among his clients. For me, interviewing Dave was enjoyable and quite memorable. Here are his Opening Day memories:

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Blog #56 (Mike Timlin)

July 10, 2013

This week there is no legal section of the blog.

Now for the Opening Day memory:

Four time World Champion Mike Timlin (twice with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993 and twice with the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and 2007) pitched in the big leagues primarily in relief for 6 different teams (also the Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles, St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies). He pitched in 1058 games, winning 75 and saving 141. He probably is most known for his dominant fastball and being an integral part of the Red Sox bullpen, where he concluded his 18 year career after the 2007 season. Mike was honored by the Red Sox when they declared April 19, 2009 Mike Timlin Day at Fenway Park. Here is Mike's Opening Day memory:

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Blog #55 (Jim Palmer)

June 26, 2013

This week there is no legal section of the blog.

Now for the Opening Day memory:

Like fellow Hall of Famer Robin Yount, Jim Palmer played his entire career for the same team and was elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. Jim pitched for the Baltimore Orioles from 1965-1984, although he missed the entire 1968 season due to injury. Interestingly, he was left unprotected by the Orioles in the 1969 expansion draft, but was selected by neither the Kansas City Royals nor the Seattle Pilots. A big mistake (with hindsight, of course) on both of their parts. Just four days after his return from the disabled list in 1969, Jim threw a no-hitter against the Oakland A's. In the 1970's, Jim won a total of 186 games, more than any other pitcher. His career accomplishments, along with his spats with his former manager Earl Weaver, are legendary. They include, but are not limited to, winning 20 or more games 8 times, 3 Cy Young awards, 4 Gold Glove awards, 6 time All Star, 8 postseason appearances including pitching on 6 pennant winning teams, a 3 time World Series champion and a career record of 268-152 with a 2.86 ERA, 2212 strikeouts, 53 shutouts and 211 complete games in 3948 innings pitched. His best season was 1975, where he led the American League with 23 wins, 10 shutouts and a 2.09 ERA, and won the second of his 3 Cy Young's. Jim is the only pitcher to have won a World Series game in 3 different decades (his win in the 1983 World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies is his final career win), the only member of the Orioles to be on all 6 Orioles pennant winning teams, the youngest pitcher ever to pitch a World Series shutout at age 20 in 1966, and a member of the last starting rotation with four 20 game winners (along with Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar and Pat Dobson) and the last surviving of those four. In his 19 year career, Jim never gave up a grand slam or back to back home runs. Jim was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1990. Since his retirement, he has been a color commentator and Jockey underwear spokesman and model, and involved with raising money for Cystic Fibrosis. Here are his Opening Day memories:

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Blog #54 (Robin Yount)

June 12, 2013

This week there is no legal section of the blog.

Now for the Opening Day memory:

First ballot Hall of Famer Robin Yount spent his entire 20 year playing career with the Milwaukee Brewers and still holds many of their statistical career records. He was selected by them third in the 1973 draft, right ahead of fellow Hall of Famer Dave Winfield. He made his Brewers' debut at age 18, and went 0 for his first 4 games, before hitting a game winning home run in his 6th game. No 18 year old has hit a major league home run since. During the 1975 season, Robin broke Mel Ott's 47 year old record for most consecutive games played before age 20. In 1978, Robin created some controversy with the Brewers by threatening to retire and play golf unless he was paid what he thought he deserved. He had his best year, in which he won his first of two MVP awards, in 1982, hitting .331 with 210 hits (his only year with 200+ hits) 29 HR's and 114 RBI's (all career highs). He also led the league in slugging percentage and total bases. The Brewers were tied with the Baltimore Orioles on the last day of the season and they played each other for the American League pennant. All Robin did was homer in his first two at bats against fellow Hall of Famer Jim Palmer (among his 4 hits) in a 10-2 Brewers pounding of the Orioles. Robin then made his only career World Series appearance, but his Brewers were beaten in 7 by the St. Louis Cardinals. Injuries resulted in Robin moving to the outfield in 1985. He became the Brewers full time CF in 1986 and won his second MVP award in 1989. He is one of only 4 players to win the MVP in two different positions (the others are Hank Greenberg, Stan Musial and Alex Rodriguez). He was an All Star in 1980, 1982 and 1983, won the Gold Glove as an SS in 1982 and won the Silver Slugger award in 1980, 1982 and 1989. He retired with a lifetime .285 batting average, 251 HRs, 1632 runs scored and 1406 RBIs. He had more hits than anyone else in the 1980's. He got his 3000th hit in 1992 and the Brewers retired his number 19 in 1994. After his retirement, he was a coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Brewers. Here are his Opening Day memories:

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