MLB Pitcher Tommy Hanson Passes Away

On Monday, November 9, 2015 Major League pitcher, Tommy Hanson passed away. He was 29. On Sunday Tommy was rushed to the hospital because he was having trouble breathing. He passed away from catastrophic organ failure. The exact reason that led to the failure is unknown at this time.

Tommy pitched for 5 years in the majors. From 2009-12 with the Atlanta Braves and with the LA Angels of Anaheim in 2013. In 121 starts he posted a 49-35 record with a 3.80 ERA.

After being granted free agency by the Angels, Tommy tried to latch on with the Texas Rangers and the Chicago White Sox in 2014, but did not make either club. In May 2015 Tommy signed with the San Francisco Giants. In 15 starts with the San Jose Giants and the Sacramento River Cats, Tommy went 4-6 with a 4.76 ERA.

I was fortunate enough to see Tommy pitch for the San Jose Giants in Stockton back on June 30, 2015. That night he pitched well, striking out 5 in 5 innings. The only blemish was giving up a solo home run to Branden Cogswell.

After he was done pitching Tommy was nice enough to stop on the ramp leading to the clubhouse and sign some autographs for a couple fans. That night he signed the 2 cards I brought with me. Thank you Tommy.

2011 and 2014 Topps cards autographed by Tommy Hanson

2011 and 2014 Topps cards autographed by Tommy Hanson

 

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Sacramento River Cats May Change Affiliates

At the end of the 2014 season the current player development contract (PDC) between the Oakland Athletics and Sacramento River Cats will end. This is not news. Major League baseball clubs contract their affiliates and at some point that contract needs to be renewed.

Speculation has arisen this weekend that the River Cats are looking to bring in the San Francisco Giants as their affiliate. The Giants’s current AAA affiliate is the Fresno Grizzlies. The Grizzlies and Giants have had a partnership since the team moved to Fresno in 1998. The PDC between San Francisco and Fresno is also up this year. It is speculated that the River Cats might prefer to have the Giants as their affiliate since they are more popular in terms of Major League attendance and Bay Area TV ratings than the Athletics.

All of this talk prompted a response on Sunday from the River Cats.

rivercats0518

Basically a typical statement to tell the Athletics and their fans that “we like you, but we are keeping our options open.” Is all of this innuendo, just a hardball tactic to get the Athletics to really invest into the River Cats? Possibly, but we do know one thing for sure. This will not be resolved until after the end of the season.

Why would the River Cats seek an affiliate change? The PDC between the Giants and Grizzlies and the Athletics and River Cats both end this year. The Giants may seem like a “sexier” option than the Athletics. If you look at the Major League level the Giants far out pace the Athletics in attendance and they seem to be more popular because you seen more merchandise in stores. However, those are not good reasons to switch affiliates.

Since the River Cats came into existence in 2000 they have been an Oakland Athletics affiliate. During that time the River Cats have gone on to win 7 Pacific Coast League Championships and they have led the minors in attendance in 8 seasons. Since 1998 the Frenso Grizzlies have won only 1 PCL title and that was in their first year. This says a lot about what the Athletics have to offer the River Cats.

Here is a look at the average attendance between the 2 affiliates in 2013 (data gathered from Ballpark Digest):

Sacramento River Cats
607,329 total attendance
72 games per year
8,435 average attendance per game in 2013
8,140 average attendance per game in 2012
+0.04% attendance difference

Fresno Grizzlies
487,536 total attendance
72 games per year
6,771 average attendance per game in 2013
6,551 average attendance per game in 2012
+0.03% attendance difference

Looking at these numbers and the past history of each AAA Club, switching to the San Francisco Giants as an affiliate does not make sense for the Sacramento River Cats. If they are in fact trying to provide their fans with “the best experience possible at Raley Field” the choice is clear: remain the Oakland Athletics AAA affiliate.

TTM Success 01/21/2014: Alvin Dark

Yesterday I received my latest TTM success.  This time it was from former Oakland Athletics manager Alvin Dark.  He autographed a 1987 Oakland Athletics Mother’s Cookies card.  He also included a religious pamphlet talking about his story and how he found Christ.  Unfortunately the pamphlet is not autographed.  The autograph seen is pre-printed.

Alvin began his baseball career as a shortstop for the Boston Braves and was named the 1948 National League Rookie of the Year. His playing career lasted until 1960. In addition to the Braves, Alvin played for the New York Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies.

In 1961 Alvin made the switch to the dugout when he became the manager for the San Francisco Giants.  Alvin also managed for the Kansas City Athletics, Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics and San Diego Padres.  His managerial career lasted until 1977 when he managed the second half of the season for the San Diego Padres.

Alvin is currently 92 years old and as of January 2014 he is the oldest living manager of a World Series winning, Pennant winning or Post-Season team.

TTM Autograph of Alvin Dark

TTM Autograph of Alvin Dark

Dan Straily set to pitch on Labor Day

The Oakland Athletics rookie right hander Dan Straily has been tabbed to pitch the opening game of a crucial 3-game set against the Texas Rangers which starts on Monday.  Straily (7-7, 4.41 ERA) looks to continue the success of his recent outing versus Detroit where he pitched 6 innings giving up 1 run on 8 hits while striking out 4.

With Straily pitching on Labor Day it looks as if he is this year’s Mr. Holiday.  Straily has pitched on every major holiday this season so far, Memorial Day and 4th of July.  By pitching tomorrow he will complete the holiday trio.  Straily has had success on the previous 2 holidays.  On Memorial Day, Straily notched his 3rd win of the season against the San Francisco Giants giving up only 1 run on 4 hits in 6 innings pitched.  On the 4th of July Straily pitched another gem, this time against the Chicago Cubs.  Straily blanked the Cubs giving up only 1 hit in 7 innings pitched while striking out 6.

Hopefully Straily can keep his good fortunes going and notch yet another holiday win as the Athletics face the Rangers.  Game time is 1:05 p.m.

RiverCats walk off on Aliotti’s blast

The Sacramento RiverCats did something on Wednesday night that their parent club, the Oakland Athletics, have become known for… the walk-off win.  In a rivalry match up with the Fresno Grizzlies, affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, the score was tied 3 to 3 heading into the bottom of the ninth.  After pitching a 1-2-3 bottom of the 8th inning George Kontos stayed in the game for the bottom of the 9th.  Anthony Aliotti led off the inning and he drove the 2nd pitch he saw over the left field wall for a game-winning home run.

Anthony Aliotti has been on fire as of late.  In his last 10 games Anthony is 12 for 37 (.324 average) with a home run and 7 RBIs.  He still leads the Texas League in batting with a .350 average during the first half of the season.

The win helps the RiverCats keep pace with the Las Vegas 51s who split a double header today with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox.  The RiverCats are 2 games behind Las Vegas for the Pacific Southern Division lead with 6 games left to play.  The RiverCats finish up their 2013 home season tomorrow against the same Fresno Grizzlies,  On Friday the RiverCats begin their final series when they visit the Tacoma Rainiers.

Showcase: Hall of Fame Autographs 2013

I wanted to create a showcase to display my autograph collection.  I will occasionally post photos of various baseballs, baseball cards and other items that I have gotten autographed.

To start this series off I decided to display the items I got autographed at the 3 Hall of Fame Celebrity appearances hosted by the Stockton Ports this season.  First up is Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Rollie Fingers.  After his time with the Athletics fingers went on to play with the San Diego Padre and the Milwaukee Brewers.  Fingers was at Banner Island Ballpark on May 3, 2013.  Here is what I was able to get autographed:

Collection from Rollie Fingers signing at Stockton Ports on May 3, 2013

Collection from Rollie Fingers signing at Stockton Ports on May 3, 2013

 

Next up is Gaylord Perry who pitched for the San Francisco Giants from 1962-1971 before playing for 7 other teams.  Perry was at Banner Island Ballpark on July 13, 2013.

Collection from Gaylord Perry signing at Stockton Ports on July 13, 2013

Collection from Gaylord Perry signing at Stockton Ports on July 13, 2013

 

Finally is Orlando Cepeda.  He is best known as a first baseman for the San Francisco Giants.  Cepeda also played for 5 other team including a 3 game stint in 1972 with the Oakland Athletics.  Cepeda was at Banner Island Ballpark on August 9, 2013.

Collection from Orlando Cepeda signing at Stockton Ports on August 9, 2013

Collection from Orlando Cepeda signing at Stockton Ports on August 9, 2013