Monthly Archives: February 2016

Cake, BB & Jews and Player Panel. The Quinnipiac Wrap Up


There was a lively meeting of the Smoky Joe Wood Chapter yesterday at Quinnipiac University.

About 30 SABR members and guests shared a frosted marble cake with “Happy Birthday, Zoc” written in icing across it.  It was the day after the birthday of TOM ZOCCO.

ALAN COHEN announced the line-up for the October meeting:  Former umpire TERRY TATA, former player MATT MERULLO, and RICHARD ELLIOTT, author of the Clem Labine book.

LARRY LEVINE spoke about the history of Jews and Baseball.  He touched on the pervasiveness of antisemitism and the contributions of great players like Koufax and Greenberg.  Larry also focused on the contributions of Jews off-the-field, including Mel Allen, Marvin Miller and Alan Roth, who Larry called “the original sabermetrican” due to the fact that Roth’s scientific and stat-based analysis for the Dodgers started in the 1940’s.

STAN DZIURGOT spoke about guidelines for chapter engagement and activities, as discussed in his prior conversations with Marisa Elliot.  This included a review of what a SABR member should expect from a local chapter such as a minimum of 4 meetings per year, that each individual has a voice to be heard, that there should be ballpark events, and that news about SABR at the national level should be shared.

KARL CICITTO spoke about economics of the Sandlock book and two ideas for a future chapter book project.  The first 100 books had an effective investment of $9.80 per book which would drop to $5.40 per book in subsequent runs, an effect of 1x design costs.  The two ideas for future chapter books projects are “CT Baseball Mysteries & Firsts” and “CT’s All Time All Star Team”.

18 copies of the Sandlock book were purchased at the meeting.

There was discussion on the Sandlock book about getting it into local stores and stadium souvenir shops, and in doing book talks in stores, schools and libraries.  The subject of asking SABR for remuneration for making the book into an E Book was also raised and Karl is following up.

TY WATERMAN updated us on the Miami convention and recent discussions by the SABR Board.  Ty also had a set of mystery player clues and asked the group to guess which St. Louis Brown player he was describing.  DON HARRISON needed only one clue to quickly solve the puzzle with:  Harlond Clift.  Amazing, Don!

Former Big Leaguers RON DIORIO and KEN MACKENZIE appeared as the featured panelists of the day.  Ken pitched for the Braves, Mets, Giants, Cardinals and Astros from 1960 to 1965.  Ron pitched for the 1972 and 1973 Phillies, appearing in 23 games and pitching to a 3.03 ERA in ’73.  They entertained us with memories of teammates, managers and adversaries for 90 minutes.

Among their nuggets:

On Jim Lonborg:  There was no more beautiful person in baseball.

On Ken Brett:  He was the off-the-wall element that every team needs.

On Steve Carlton:  There was a clubhouse story about a bottle of vodka, a gun, and a biting slider.

On Casey Stengel:  If anyone was going to have a bird fly out of his cap it was Casey.  Everyone else had to play baseball.

On Jimmy Piersall:  After he was chastised for running the bases backward on his 100th career home run, Jimmy said, “And when I hit my 200th I’m going to SLIDE into every (bleeping) base.  There is no rule against that!”

STEVE KREVISKY concluded the day with trivia.  Earlier, Steve reminded all that they could be thinking about contributing to the next issue of The Wood Pile, which deadlines on July 1.


NEXT UP:  A March breakfast on a date to be announced.


Before ending this wrap-up, here is a poem about Hank Greenberg by Edgar Guest, which Larry shared:


A Poem by Edgar A. Guest

The Irish didn’t like it when they heard of Greenberg’s fame

For they thought a good first baseman should possess an Irish name;

And the Murphys and Mulrooneys said they never dreamed they’d see

A Jewish boy from Bronxville out where Casey used to be.

In the early days of April not a Dugan tipped his hat

Or prayed to see a “double” when Hank Greenberg came to bat.

In July the Irish wondered where he’d ever learned to play.

“He makes me think of Casey!” Old Man Murphy dared to say;

And with fifty-seven doubles and a score of homers made

The respect they had for Greenberg was being openly displayed.

But upon the Jewish New Year when Hank Greenberg came to bat

And made two home runs off Pitcher Rhodes—

They cheered like mad for that.

Came Yom Kippur—holy feast day world wide over to the Jew—

And Hank Greenberg to his teaching and the old tradition true

Spent the day among his people and he didn’t come to play.

Said Murphy to Mulrooney, “We shall lose the game today!

We shall miss him on the infield and shall miss him at the bat,

But he’s true to his religion—and I honor him for that!”


Have a wonderful Sunday and enjoy the Oscars!




Meet Ken MacKenzie, a 1962 Met

Ken MacKenzie


Ken MacKenzie is originally from Canada but graduated from Yale and played for the Elis under Ethan Allen.  Now a resident of the CT shoreline, Ken spoke with me today about his baseball journey.

Ken was a major leaguer from 1960 to 1965, and played in the minors 1957-61 and 1964-65.

With the 1964 Giants, he rostered with Cepeda, McCovey, Mays, Alou, Marichal and Gaylord Perry.

With the ’63 Cards, he teamed with Flood, Groat, White, Boyer, McCarver, Gibson and Stan The Man.

Ken’s baseball travels were indeed star crossed.

Ken, a lefty reliever, pitched in 42 games for the 1962 Mets, a team to which he was sold by the Braves’ John McHale.  That sale kept a promise McHale had made to Ken in 1961 when he sent MacKenzie down (Milwaukee to Louisville) to make room for 20-year-old Joe Torre, who would finish 2nd in the 1961 ROY voting.   Del Crandall had gotten injured and McHale saw young Torre as a better option than the other catcher – Charlie Lau.  Star crossed.

Ken said he was the first player purchased by the 1962 Mets after the infamous expansion draft that saddled the Mets and Colt .45’s with insufficient talent.  Ken had a couple of other firsts.  He was the first Atlanta Cracker rookie to last an entire season.  He was also the first Yale graduate since Dick Tettlebach to make it to the majors.

Ken thinks the Milwaukee Braves of the late 50’s through early 60’s were a terrific team until Charlie Dressen ruined them.

His favorite catcher of all time is teammate Del Crandall (179 HR, 8x AS, 4x GG).  Crandall used a spiffy L-5 Louisville Slugger, a favorite of Ken’s, slim of handle and made of better wood.  Ken said Crandall was overshadowed by the batting abilities of his teammates but was a large key to the club.

Among Ken’s many memories is the sight of seeing Connecticut’s Steve Dalkowski pack the ballpark at a spring training game in Miami.  Everyone wanted to see how hard he threw.

He recalls meeting Smoky Joe Wood, who lived a short distance from Yale Field, at Yale baseball team practices several times.  He remembers fishing on Hammonassett Beach with Smoky Joe’s son, Joe, Jr..

Ken thinks there are big differences between the game that was played 50 years ago and the article of baseball we see today.  These include the prevalence of Tommy John surgery, injuries that are due to adding muscle, player indifference to world series checks that pale in comparison to salaries, and a selfishness that manifests itself in always trying to hit a HR instead of laying down a bunt to advance a teammate.

I hope you can join us at Quinnipiac tomorrow, Feb. 27, when former big leaguers Ron Diorio and Ken MacKenzie will participate in a player panel.



Meet Former Phillie Ron Diorio

Ron Diorio


RON DIORIO, A Waterbury native, was a very good overall athlete and a so-so pitcher until his college coach, Porky Vieira, asked him to start throwing sidearm like Ewell “The Whip” Blackwell.  Ultimately, Ron would pitch to a 3.03 ERA in 23 games for the 1973 Phillies and roster with Luzinski, Schmidt, Lonborg, Boone and Carlton.  The tall right hander worked like the devil to improve and toiled for 9 years in the minors, Mexico and Puerto Rico, too.  SABR Member John Cizik of Thomaston has written a detailed and satisfying biography of Ron Diorio for the Bio Project.  You can find it at this link:

I hope you can join us at Quinnipiac tomorrow, Feb. 27, when Ron Diorio and former big leaguer Ken MacKenzie will participate in a player panel.







Don’t miss this Spring Training Chapter Meeting at Quinnipiac. There will be a PLAYER PANEL with these three former big leaguers:

Ken MacKenzie (MLN, NYM, ST L, SFG, HOU, 1960-65)
Matt Merullo (CHW, CLE, MN, 1989-95)
Ron Diorio (PH, 1973-74)

The agenda also includes:
-A presentation by Larry Levine on Jews and Baseball
-Stan Dziurgot on role of Marisa Elliott, SABR Manager of Chapter & Partner Relations.
-Myself on the Sandlock book and 2 possible new book ideas

Due to illness author Richard Elliott will not appear.

As always, we will meet in the auditorium of the College of the Liberal Arts at Quinnipiac University. Mingle at 12 Noon, program begins at 12:30.

I will post directions on by Monday.



Mike Sandlock Book Now Available

Sandlock book shot


By March 10, I expect to have copies of our book, “100: The 100 Year Journey of a Baseball Journeyman, Mike Sandlock”.

This is a 254 page trade size (6 x 9) book with 4-color soft covers.

Contributors include Smoky Joe Wood Chapter members Don Harrison, Norman Hausmann, Alan Cohen, Steve Krevisky, Stan Dziurgot, Peter Seidel, Tom Monitto and me.

The book will be available on Amazon for $14.95 plus shipping.

SABR members can purchase copies for $10.00 and pick it up at an upcoming breakfast to avoid shipping charges.  Or, you can add $4 for shipping and I will send it to you in a padded envelope via media mail.

You can preorder the book by emailing me at and I’ll reply with how to get a check to our Treasurer, Alan Cohen.

Thanks so much.







2017 HOF Voting Results

  1. Jeff Bagwell 15 votes 83.3%
  2. Tim Raines 12 votes 66.6%
  3. Curt Schilling 10 votes 55.5%
  4. Roger Clemens 9 votes 50%
  5. Ivan Rodriguez 9 votes 50%
  6. Trevor Hoffman 7 votes 38.8%
  7. Barry Bonds 7 votes 38.8%
  8. Edgar Martinez 7 votes 38.8%
  9. Fred McGriff 7 votes 38.8%
  10. Vladimir Guerrero 7 votes 38.8%
  11. Mike Mussina 5 votes 27.7%
  12. Manny Ramirez 5 votes 27.7%
  13. Larry Walker 4 votes 22.2%
  14. Jeff Kent 3 votes 16.6%
  15. Lee Smith 3 votes 16.6%
  16. Jorge Posada 3 votes 16.6%
  17. Gary Sheffield 2 votes 11.1%
  18. Sammy Sosa 2 votes 11.1%
  19. Billy Wagner 1 vote 5.5%
  20. Tim Wakefield 1 vote 5.5%f
  21. Edgar Renteria 1 vote 5.5%
  22. Jason Varitek 1 vote 5.5%


RESULTS OF THE 2017 HOF STRAW VOTE.  Summary by Stan Dziurgot.

Jeff Bagwell was the sole inductee, gaining 83% of the vote.  Leading the also-rans were Raines (66%), Schilling (55%), Clemens and Ivan Rodriguez (50%).

18 people voted.  14 votes were needed for election. Voters were able to choose up to 10 candidates but some voted for less than 10. A few voted for one candidate. Fourteen players received zero votes, including Javier Vazquez, Mike Cameron, J.D.Drew, Magglio Ordonez, Derrek Lee, Melvin Mora, Carlos Guillen, Orlando Cabrera, Aaron Rowand, Pat Burrell, Freddy Sanchez, Arthur Rhodes, Julio Lugo , and Danys Baez.