Volume XIII July through November, 2015 Issue 51

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American League All-Stars Defeat National League 6-3

Mike Trout flashed the skill that puts him at the front of baseball's new generation, just moments after four of the all-time greats walked off the field. Trout became the first player in 38 years to homer off at an All-Star Game, then became the first player to take home the Midsummer Classic's MVP Award two years in a row. The American League beat the National League 6-3 Tuesday night, July 14, and will open the World Series at home for the 10th time in 13 years. The American League is 21-6-1 in the last 28 games. The National League leads the match-up 43-41-2.

For the story, go to Major League

Pete Rose Receives Huge Ovation During All-Star Game Introduction

Pete Rose came home for the All-Star Game and made a rare on-field appearance in the place where he's still treated like a king. The hits king was voted one of Cincinnati's Franchise Four players as part of a Major League Baseball promotion. Rose and Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Barry Larkin and Joe Morgan were introduced on the field before the All-Star Game. The 74-year-old Rose was last out of the American League dugout. Fans started chanting "Pete" when they saw him reach the top step. In another story, Pete Rose Takes a Bow in Hometown Cincinnati.

To read, go to Feature Stories and Major Leagues

Bryce Harper's 3 HRs, 5 RBIs Lift Nationals over Marlins

Standing at the plate with a chance to make baseball history, Bryce Harper homered three times in a game for the first time and had five RBIs in his finest day, leading the Washington Nationals over the Miami Marlins 7-5 on May 6. Harper hit a 393-foot solo shot in the second inning, a 442-foot, two-run drive in the third and 445-foot homer in the fifth. Harper hit two more home runs two days later, giving him five in two games. Then on Saturday, May 9, Harper hit his sixth home run in his past three games.

For the article, go to Major League

Max Scherzer Throws Complete Game One-Hitter with 16 K's

Max Scherzer struck out a Nationals-record 16 and threw a one-hitter, losing his perfect game bid on Carlos Gomez's broken-bat, bloop single in the seventh inning. Washington defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 4-0 on Sunday, June 14. Scherzer is in the first season of a $210 million, seven-year contract, In another story, Washington Nationals' Max Scherzer Throws No-Hitter on June 26

To read, go to Newsletter and Feature Stories

The Great American Pastime 2015

Columnist George F. Will has said, "Baseball is a habit. The slowly rising crescendo of each game, the rhythm of the long season. These are the essentials, and they are remarkably unchanged over nearly a century and a half." In her superbly illustrated article in Parade, M.B. Roberts wrote: "There's so much to love about baseball in 2015. If this doesn't make you break into a rousing rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game", we don't know what will."

For this cover page article, go to Feature Stories

Baseball Hall of Fame Inducts Johnson, Smoltz, Martinez, and Biggio

Three pitchers who became dominant after trades and a rock-solid catcher-turned-second baseman have a new moniker. Hall of Famer, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, July 26. They basked in the spotlight one more time with at least 40,000 fans cheering from the sun-drenched field beyond. Playing through an era tainted by steroids and ruled by offense -- compliments of bulked-up sluggers, a smaller strike zone and smaller ball parks -- Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz proved indomitable. Biggio played four positions in his 20-year career, all with the Houston Astros.

For the stor7, go to Major Leagues

Carlos Correa, Houston Astros' Talented Young Shortstop

Carlos Correa, 20, who just three years ago was the No. 1 pick in the draft, is already being acclaimed as one of the most talented young shortstops the game has ever seen. "There's nothing that Carlos can't do on a baseball field," said Astros manager A.J. Hinch. "He's immensely talented, but he is very strong mentally. Carlos has earned a lot of respect from the players." Another story on Correa is in BPA's World Baseball page, "Carlos Correa Continues Meteoric Rise."

For these stories, go to Newsletter and World Baseball

The M & M Boys: A Profile in Civility

The pressure to break Babe Ruth's home run record could be overwhelming, but it never fractured the friendship of Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. The two players laughed at stories that their contest had turned them into personal enemies. The 1961 season appeared to be the year when Ruth's record could be broken. The American League had lengthened its schedule from 154 to 162 games, and Commissioner Ford Frick ruled that if a player "does not hit more than 60 after playing more than 154 games, the record books would have to show Ruth's record was set under a 154-game schedule."

For this article, go to News Release

Kris Bryant, a Cub in the Image of the Game's Ideal Hitter

The Chicago Cubs' top baseball executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer grew up in New England and had worked for the Red Sox. They loved that Kris Bryant was raised on the wisdom of Ted Williams, regarded by many as the greatest hitter in baseball history. Hoyer, the Cubs' GM, said, "Kris knows that when he hits it clean, with the right swing, it's a homer. My goal every game is to go out there and hit the ball in the air four times." Bryant's career, like the swing path he shares with his father Mike, is on its way up. In another story, Bryant's Grand Slam, 2 Homers Lead Cubs."

For these stories, go to Newsletter and Major Leagues

For Hitters, Facing a Shift Can Mean an Adjustment

The first time a left-handed hitter steps into the batter's box and sees the infield defense shifted radically toward the right side, it can be jarring. No longer is it just batter against pitcher, as it has been from nearly the first time he picked up a bat. "How do I win when the deck is stacked?" Shifts have become commonplace, and increasingly sophisticated. However, it is possible to adjust, and hit away from the fielders. Perhaps even a bunt. This season, a number of successful hitting approaches have taken place.

For the article, go to News Release

Roberto Clemente, the Double Outsider

Today there is an abundance of Latinos in Major League Baseball, but not when Hall of Fame great Roberto Clemente played right field for the Pittsburgh Pirates 60 years ago. Historian Michael Beschloss wrote: "Clemente's ordeal as a Puerto Rican breaking in to what was then a very white preserve -- and the aplomb with which he transcended his difficulties -- reminds us of how far Latinos have come in American life." Like the Cuban-born Minnie Minoso, Clemente was not only Latino but also black. He was a four-time National League batting champion, and the people of Puerto Rico exalted him as a hero.

For this most interesting story, go to Feature Stories

Commissioner Rob Manfred Sees Expansion in MLB's Future

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has shared a vision of the game that could ultimately include more than 30 franchises. He is open-minded about the possibility of MLB expanding for the first time since the Diamondbacks and Rays came on board in 1998. Manfred explained, "I think we are a growth business, broadly defined. And over an extended period of time, growth businesses look to get bigger. So yes, I'm open to the idea that there will be a point in time where expansion may be possible." Manfred said MLB has compiled a list of cities that might be viable options through expansion or possible relocation from existing markets.

For the article, go to Newsletter

Hitters Need to Do the Shifting, Says Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt

It took teams close to 100 years to make the drastic defensive shifts baseball is seeing now see now, and it's evident every day the effect they're having on offensive performance. Hall of Fame slugger Mike Schmidt said, "Back in the 1970s and '80s, defenses shifted on a handful of players, but only a little. The concern about declining offense in baseball is real, and shifts are one reason. Take it from me, it's time hitters accept the need for change. A predominantly pull hitter is asking for trouble."

To read, go to Feature Stories

Batting Styles of the 1975 Cincinnati Reds

The Cincinnati Reds teams of the 1970's are widely recognized as being among the best teams in baseball history. The Big Red Machine dominated the National League from 1970 to 1976. Perhaps the most successful was the 1975 Reds team which had a record of 108-54. Managed by Sparky Anderson, the Reds were led by four Hall of Famers, Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Tony Perez. Highlighting Don Weiskopf's Photo Gallery are batting sequence series photos of Rose, Bench, Perez, with batting tips from Rose and the managerial career of Anderson.

To read and view, go to Photo Gallery

Paul Molitor's Attention to Detail Has Lifted the Minnesota Twins

The first impression Paul Molitor made on Trevor Plouffe, the third baseman of the Minnesota Twins, was profound. It was a decade ago when Plouffe was 19 years old. "I remember sitting on the bench with Paul, and he's studying the game in a way that I had never studied it." Twins second baseman Brian Dozier credited him with helping him. Molitor worked with Dozier about reading opposing pitches and picking up tendencies that might give base runners an edge.

For the article, go to Feature Stories

President Obama and Giants Meet Again: Two Terms, Three Titles

For the third time in five years, President Barack Obama honored the San Francisco Giants for both their championship and their work in the community. "It seems like if they get in, they'll probably win the championship," Obama said jokingly on June 4 at the White House. The president lauded the efforts of the Giants in the community, highlighted by the Junior Giants program, a free, non-competitive youth baseball program for kids in the area, and construction of the Junior Giants Urban Youth Academy.

For the story, go to Newsletter

Felix Hernandez Reaches His 2,000th Career Shutout

As soon as strike three was called, everyone in Safeco Field knew it was a special moment. Felix Hernandez became the fourth-youngest player to reach 2,000 strikeouts in a 4-3 win against the Oakland Athletics on Sunday, May 10, with a fifth-inning strikeout of leadoff hitter Sam Fuld. Hernandez had started the game with 1,995 strikeouts. He fell behind Fuld 3-1 before striking him out looking at a fastball for 2,000.

To read, go to Feature Stories

Bernie Williams Gets His Due in Emotional Yankee Ceremony

Bernie Williams figured the baseball portion of his life was over. On Sunday night, May 24, the former Yankees great was honored with Bernie Williams Day at Yankee Stadium. His No. 51 jersey was retired and a plaque that will go in Monument Park to commemorate his mostly brilliant 16-year career -- all in pinstripes -- was unveiled before the Yankees-Rangers series finale. Williams helped the Yankees win four championships rings from 1996 through 2000. Seven of his teammates came back for overnight, including Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, pictured here.

For the story, go to Newsletter

MLB Making Inroads to Attract African Americans

Major League Baseball, which celebrated again Jackie Robinson Day throughout every ball park in April, is represented by only 7.8% of African-Americans among the 868 players on the opening-day rosters. It's a far cry from 1986, when 19% of major league players were African-American. Yet, within these numbers and others, there's signs of aninflux of young African-Americans entering the game. Most encouraging, 18 African-Americans have been selected in the first round of the June amateur draft since 2012. Pictured here is Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

For the article, go to Major League

Dave Righetti Deserves Place Among Best Pitching Coaches

During the Yankees' home game on July 4, the Yankee Stadium scoreboard saluted the anniversary of the no-hitter Dave Righetti threw against the Boston Red Sox in 1983. Strangely, Righetti's resume as a player seemingly obscures the process he has experienced in the second phase of his baseball life. He is a critical component in the glory run of the Giants, the guiding hand for a pitching staff that fueled the Giants' three-in-five World Series championship rampage. He has been too effective in his role of 15-plus seasons to hide, as his pitchers roll out no-hitters, one each year beginning in 2012.

For the story, go to Newsletter

Seven HRs, 3 Grand Slams Hit in Crazy Reds-Brewers Game

For just the fourth time in Major League history, three grand slams were hit in one game. On Tuesday night, April 21, the Cincinnati Reds and the Milwaukee Brewers combined to hit three-two for the Reds and one for the Brewers -- in a 16-10 Reds victory. Jay Bruce hit the first home run in the third. The Brewers' Martin Maldonado hit his first home run of the season. The Reds loaded the bases in the fourth before Todd Frazier cleared the bases. It was the first time the Reds had two grand slams in a game since Aaron Boone and Eddie Taubensee hit grand slams on August 21, 1999.

To read, go to News Release

Cleveland's Corey Kluber Re-Emerges with 18 Strikeouts

Corey Kluber shrugged his shoulders at making history. He struck out 18 -- the most by an American League pitcher since Roger Clemens in 1998. He allowed just one hit in eight innings, leading the Cleveland Indians to a AL Cy Young winner, Kluber didn't yield a hit until Jhonny Peralta grounded a clean single to center with two outs in the seventh inning. Kluber's 18 strikeouts tied the club record for a nine-inning game held by Bob Feller since 1938.

For the story, go to Feature Stories

Oldest Living Cubs Player Lennie Merullo Dies at 98

Lennie Merullo, the oldest former member of the Chicago Cubs and the last living person to play for them in the World Series, died Saturday, May 30. Merullo was honored by the Cubs at a June 2014 game, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, part of the many events marking Wrigley Field's 100th anniversary. He was a major league shortstop from 1941-47, all with the Cubs. He retired after the 1947 season, then spent more than half a century as a scout for the Cubs and other teams.

For the article, go to Newsletter

Chris Heston Pitches No-Hitter to Lead Giants Over Mets 5-0

Chris Heston pitched the first no-hitter in the majors this season in his 13th career start, leading the San Francisco Giants over the New York Mets a 5-0 on Tuesday night, June 9. The rookie allowed three base runners -- all on hit batters. He also had a two-run single for his first big league RBI and finished with two more hits than the Mets. Brandon Crawford made a strong throw from deep at shortstop to get Eric Campbell for the final out of the eighth inning. Heston (6-4) struck out 11, six looking, and allowed just two balls into the outfield.

For the story, go to News Release

Best Offense in Baseball Is an Aggressive Attack

The best offense in baseball is an aggressive attack, which is capable of exerting pressure on the defense, said Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston. This has been the trademark of some of the most successful major league teams in history, including the Dodgers' championship teams. A team that lacks the home run hitters should have players who are able to bunt, drag and push. Aggressive base running by Maury Wills, pictured here, gave the Dodgers a big victory. The Skills and Strategies page features Don Weiskopf's sequence series photos of Wills, Tommy Davis, Steve Garvey, Manny Mota, and Billy Grabarkewitz.

To read and view, go to Skills and Strategies

Pat Venditte Doubly Grateful After Making It as Switch Pitcher

Pat Venditte's journey to instant celebrity took eight years of toiling in the minors, and proving countless skeptics wrong. Now that he has arrived in the majors and drawn national attention, the Oakland Athletics' switch-pitcher sounds neither vindicated nor bitter. Rather, he's grateful and determined. If it wasn't for the years perfecting his unique ability to get batters out with both hands, he might not be here.

For the story, go to News Release

Hall of Fame Giants Broadcaster Lon Simmons Dies at 91

Lon Simmons, a Hall of Fame broadcaster whose career spanned five decades calling San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics and 49ers games, died Sunday, April 5. He was 91. Simmons was one of the original voices of the Giants when they moved West in 1958. Over three stints with the Giants, he considered one of his greatest thrills getting to call Willie Mays' 600th home run. His signature phrase on the long ball became, "Tell it goodbye!" Simmons was honored with the Ford C. Frick Award by the Hall of Fame in 2004.

For the article, go to Feature Stories

Pitchers Are Using Bigger, More Traditional Wind-ups

A major change continues to occur in the game of baseball. A growing number of major league pitchers are using bigger and more traditional styles in winding up. They have switched from the no-wind-up delivery used by most pitchers the past couple of decades. Among the many big league hurlers using a traditional type of wind-up are Adam Wainwright, one of baseball's most dominant pitchers; Max Scherzer; Matt Moore; John Lackey; and Francisco Liriano. Featured in BPA's new edition are Don Weiskopf's sequence series photographs of five former pitching greats: Steve Carlton; Bob Gibson; Jack Morris; Billy Pierce; and Sonny Siebert.

To read and view, go to Coaching Clinic

A-Rod Hits HR No. 661 to Pass Willie Mays for 4th Place

Tainted or not, Alex Rodriguez had many reasons to celebrate homer No. 661. A-Rod passed Willie Mays for fourth on the career home run list on May 7, helping the New York Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-3. With a loud crack of the bat, the Yankees star drilled a line drive off Chris Tillman into the ramp area off limits to fans just to the left of Monument Park in center field in the third inning. The slugger pumped his fist as he rounded first base, and fans gave Rodriguez, who didn't play last year while serving a drug suspension, a standing ovation as he was greeted in the dugout by his teammates.

For the story, go to Major Leagues

Major League Baseball and USA Baseball Launch 'Play Ball'

Major League Baseball and USA Baseball has announced the launch of "PLAY BALL," a significant new initiative that will encourage widespread participation in all forms of baseball activities among all age groups, especially youth. The new program will highlight the many ways baseball can be played, ranging from playing catch, stickball and wiffle ball to participating in skills competitions like "Pitch, Hit & Run". The initiative also will provide players, parents and coaches with the information and resources to help them with proper play and instruction.

For the article, go to News Release

Giants Hit 4 Triples for 1st Time Since 1960

The speedy Giants hit four triples in a game for the first time in 55 years, including a pair by Brandon Belt in a 13-8 win over the San Diego Padres on June 25. Brandon Crawford and Matt Duffy also tripled for San Francisco, which had not tripled four times in a game since Sept. 15, 1960, when Willie Mays hit three of them and Eddie Bressoud had one at Philadelphia's Connie Mack Stadium. Will Middlebrooks tripled for the Padres.

To read, go to Feature Stories

Jim Fanning, Montreal Expos Executive and Manager, Dies

Jim Fanning, the longtime Montreal Expos executive who managed the franchise to its only playoff appearance in Canada, died on April 25. He was 87. Fanning was the Expos' general manager when the team entered the major leagues in 1968 and spent 25 years, including stints as a vice-president and scout with the franchise that moved to Washington in 2005 and became the Nationals. "Jim was dedicated to developing baseball in Canada," said former Toronto Blue Jays GM Gord Ash. "He was a great ambassador for the Expos and Blue Jays, as well as baseball in Canada." Fanning was inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame in 2000.

To read, go to News Release

Persistence of a Steroid Bedevils Baseball

On opening day, Commissioner Rob Manfred said that alarm bells rang at Major League Baseball's offices when three pitchers on major league rosters tested positive for the powerful old-school steroid stanozolol. During the past six seasons, the number of minor leaguers caught using the drug could fill nearly five major league rosters. In that period, the stanozolol positives accounted for one-fourth of all of M.L.B.'s drug violations. About 80 percent were pitchers. About 70 percent were from the Dominican Republic.

For the story, go to Performance Enhancers

BALCO & Biogenesis May Be Over, But Steroids Cloud Remains

While Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have move on, the clouds of steroids remains over baseball and all sports. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said, "I think performance-enhancing drugs, not only for baseball but all athletics, is not an issue that you can check off as solved. The temptation to use drugs is large." Five big leaguers have been suspended for positive tests in April. Since 2005, there have been 68 announced suspensions under the MLB drug program and 760 as part of the MiLB plan. Also, Alex Rodriguez's Cousin Sentenced to Prison for Role in Steroid Ring.

To read, go to Performance Enhancers

Time of Game in Minor Leagues Is Down Across the Board

Pitch clocks and pace-of-game initiatives are doing their job during the early Minor League Baseball season in 2015. Game times are down since penalties went into effect on May 1. Clocks have been installed at every Triple-A and Double-A stadium in highly visible spots for players, umpires and fans. The batter must be in the batter's box and the pitcher must begin his wind-up or be in a set position within 20 seconds of that clock ticking down to zero. Inning breaks and pitching changes only last two minutes, 25 seconds.

For the article, go to Minor League

Yankees' Ramon Flores Hits for Cycle on Opening Day

Ramon Flores admitted he was over eager to notch his first base hit of 2015, but he got it out of the way early and ended up making history. The Yankees' No. 25 prospect followed up a home run by hitting an Opening Day cycle as Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes-Barre beat Syracuse, 8-3, on April 9. He finished the game 4-for-4 with three runs scored, two RBIs and a walk. Flores is pictured here hitting a double to complete the cycle.

For the story, go to Minor League

Dodgers' Corey Seager Goes 6-for-6, Plates Six

Even after the best game of his career, Corey Seager remained humble about his future. The Dodgers' top prospect went a career-high 6-for-6 and tied a personal best with six RBIs to lead Triple-A Oklahoma City past Salt Lake in a wild 14-11 slugfest on may 28. Seager's six-hit effort was the second in Oklahoma City history. Jeff Pickler was the first to do it on June 22, 2004. The 21-year-old shortstop took it all in stride, though. "I just wanted to put a good swing on balls and hope for the best," he said.

To read, go to Minor League

Wayne Gretzky's Son Follows Baseball Dreams

Trevor Gretzky is known more for his iconic last name than his baseball career. But Trevor isn't looking to escape his famous father's shadow. He hopes "The Great One" can help him become "The Next One." The 22-year-old son of retired NHL star Wayne Gretzky is in relative anonymity as a left fielder for the Class A Burlington Bees in the Los Angeles Angels farm system. To do so, Trevor leans heavily on the advice of Wayne, whose passion for baseball has helped fuel his son's career.

For the article, go to Minor League

After 'Sandman', Mariano Rivera III Sets Himself Apart

The opening chords to "Enter Sandman" blared through the speakers and Mariano Rivera was announced as the reliever entering the game. This wasn't Yankee Stadium and this wasn't No. 42 on the mound. It was No. 44 -- but the zeros on the scoreboard were still present. Rivera III, the Nationals prospect and son of baseball's famed Yankees closer, spun two scoreless innings while striking out four in his professional debut as Class A Short Season Auburn topped State College, 9-5, on June 23, at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

For the story, go to Minor League

Quad Cities Bandits Alex Bregman Blasts First Pro Home Run

Alex Bregman checked another off his list of Minor League firsts on June 28. The second overall pick in this year's Draft cracked his first professional homer in the third inning and scored twice as Class A Quad Cities beat Cedar Rapids, 6-1. The homer came in the 12th at-bat of Bregman's Minor League career. "It felt great to get that first home run under my belt," he said. "i saw three cutters in a row and then I got a fastball up in the zone that I was on time to hit to left. I was just happy I could help the team get a win."

For the story, go to Minor League

Peter Bragan Enjoying 'last dance' in Jacksonville

Peter "Pedro" Bragan is sitting in front of his impossibly cluttered desk, which is jammed into the back right corner of his cluttered office. His office is more like a ramshackle of baseball memorabilia within which he happens to do his work. The year 2015 will mark Pedro's 31st and final season with the Suns, who were bought by his late father, Peter Bragan Sr., prior to the 1985 campaign. The Suns are marketing the entire season as "Pedro's Last Dance." He is currently at work on a memoir chronicling his three decades with the Suns.

For the article, go to Minor League

Longtime Arkansas Travelers General Manager Bill Valentine Dies

Bill Valentine, whose colorful career included 33 years at the helm of the Texas League's Arkansas Travelers, died Sunday morning, April 26. He was 82. After making history as the youngest umpire in professional baseball, Valentine returned to Little Rock in 1969 to broadcast Travelers games. In 1976, he joined the Travelers as general manager and was named Executive of the Year by the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues. Last year, Valentine was named King of Baseball, an annual award given to an executive in honor of his dedication and service to the industry.

To read, go to Minor League

Team USA Baseball Clinches 5-Game Series with Cuba

Ryan Howard and Nick Banks each launched home runs to lift Team USA to a Series-clinching 11-1 win over the Cuban National Team, equaling the largest win over Cuba in national team history on July 4, in front of 10,352 at BB&T Ball Park in Charlotte, North Carolina. Banks, a native of Charlotte, went 3-for-5, with three RBI, leading the team with a .429 batting average. Team USA (9-5) claimed the Series-clinching victory in the fourth game of the Series. The Red, White and Blue opened the Series with back-to-back 2-0 wins, including a no-hitter.

For the story, go to World Baseball

Cuba Claims Win in Finale of Five-Game Series with Team USA

Alexander Malleta ripped a home run to help lead the Cuba National Team to a 4-1 win over the USA National Team, in the finale of the five game Series on Saturday night, July 4, at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina. Cuba scored single runs in the second and third innings before getting a key two-out RBI single by Urmary Guerra in the fifth inning. Cuba starter Lazaru Blanco made a strong start to help pace the win, working 4.2 innings and allowing four hits.

For the article, go to World Baseball

Manfred Hopes for Exhibition Games in Cuba in 2016

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred would like to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba. "I am hopeful of playing some exhibition games in Cuba next spring," said Manfred. "I'm hopeful that the situation in terms of actual changes in federal policy clarifies in time." The Orioles and Cuba's national team played a two-game series in 1999 in Havana and Baltimore. Baltimore owner Peter Angelus is pictured here being greeted by Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Cuban players in the major leagues have increased in recent years. There were 74 players under major and minor league contracts on opening day, up from 29 in 2008.

To read, go to World Baseball

Pitching From the Heart, Hiroki Kuroda

Hiroki Kuroda left behind his big league salary with the New York Yankees to return to his former club, Hiroshima Carp. Behind Kuroda's decision to return to Japanese baseball was his close relationship to Carp fans. Over 30,000 Japanese baseball fans packed into Mazda Stadium on March 29 to watch Kuroda take the mound in the 2015 season opener. The atmosphere was electric as the Carp loyal welcomed their beloved pitcher back after seven seasons as a major leaguer. In his story, Pitching From the Heart, Kimura Masatoshi superbly describes how Kuroda has reconnected with baseball fans in Japan.

For the article, go to World Baseball

Carlos Correa Continues Meteoric Rise

The Puerto Rico Baseball Academy in Gurabo, P.R., is to be commended. One of its graduates, Carlos Correa, is a polished gem embarking on what promises to be a fulfilling career with the Houston Astros. At 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Houston's first overall choice in the 2012 Draft appears to have everything one could want in a baseball player. Three months shy of his 21st birthday, Correa carries himself like Mike Trout at shortstop: confidently advanced beyond all logic. He put his full range of abilities on display in the Astros 13-3 defeat of the Los Angeles Angels on June 23.

To read, go to World Baseball

Jung Ho Kang Brings Power, Poise from Korea to the Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle likens the burden carried by his Korean infielder, Jung Ho Kang, to pulling a big wagon. At 6 feet and 215 pounds, Kang (pronounced "Ghang") so far has proven capable of bearing the weight, but he will be tested time and again in a 162-game season that's almost 30 games longer than any he has played in his 10 years as a pro. Kang, the first position player to reach the majors from the Korean Baseball Organization, was a major factor in the Pirates' late-May surge, batting .298 with three homers and 11 RBI.

For the story, go to World Baseball

Julio Franco, Former MLB Star Now Player-Manager in Japan

Julio Franco is getting the best of both worlds as a 56-year-old player-manager for the Ishikawa Million Stars of Japan's semi-professional Baseball Challenge League. Not only does the native of the Dominican Republic and former major league All-Star get to keep playing the game he loves, Franco now has a chance to pass on a wealth of baseball knowledge to a new generation of players. Due to an injury to a key player, Franco finds himself playing more than he expected. And he's doing well for a guy who started his pro career back in 1982. Playing in 10 of his team's 14 games this season, Franco had a .333 batting average with four RBIs and six runs scored.

For the article, go to World Baseball

Virginia Beats Vanderbilt to Win First College World Series

Pavin Smith homered and drove in three runs, and Brandon Waddell turned in another strong College World Series pitching performance, leading Virginia over Vanderbilt, 4-2, on June 24 for the University's first baseball national championship. Smith belted a two-run home run and hit a single that snapped a 2-2 tie in the fifth inning. Waddell, pictured here, went seven innings, allowing only two hits. He retired the last 11 batters he faced. Virginia's Josh Sborz won three games and was selected as the 2015 CWS Most Valuable Player.

For the article, go to HS/College/Senior

Brian O'Connor, 2015 National College Baseball Coach of Year

Brian O'Connor of the Virginia Cavaliers is Baseball America's 2015 College Baseball Coach of the Year. O'Connor built the Cavaliers into consistent winners, with four College World Series trips in the last seven seasons. To cap it off, Virginia staged an improbable run to its national title last month. Their calm, confident nature shone through as they won one close game after another, scoring the winning run in the sixth inning or late in nine of their 10 NCAA wins.

To read, go to HS/College/Senior

In College Baseball Big Hits Are Back, Back, Back

The American flag in center field at TD Ameritrade Park hung limp when Rhett Wiseman, the junior right-hander for Vanderbilt, stepped in for his turn in batting practice. Ten minutes later, the left-handed hitting Wiseman counted six balls that cleared the fence in right and center-center. Wiseman said the higher-seamed baseballs used by the N.C.A.A. never would have traveled that far. "Probably off the fence, if it even gets there," he said. Players from all eight teams at the Series noticed the same thing this year. Also, 15 CWS Homers Mirror Rise in Offense Across College Baseball.

For the story, go to HS/College/Senior

They Don't Forgo the Fungo in College Baseball

One of the lasting daily traditions at the College World Series began shortly before Louisiana State faced Cal State Fullerton on June 16. It was time for pregame infield practice. First year L.S.U. assistant coach Andy Cannizaro, a former Yankees infielder and scout walked out of the dugout with a long slim bat known as a fungo. Standing in front of home plate, he tossed a ball up with his right hand and stroked sinking line drives to the outfielders, then hit grounders to infielders and pop-ups to the infielders and the catcher.

For the article, go to HS/College/Senior

Mariano Rivera III Resembling His Father as the Draft Nears Again

On the mound at a simple county park in New Rochelle, New York, a silhouette appeared strikingly familiar. Lean and compact, with a smooth bend of his knee, the young man threw a 96-mile-per-hour fastball. The pitcher was Mariano Rivera III who pitched for Iona College and now in the minor leagues. "He really does look like his father," the man said. Rivera's father, the great Yankees closer, sat in the distance in a folding chair. His son is following his father's footsteps and pitching in the minor leagues.

For the story, go to HS/College/Senior

Arizona Baseball Coach Andy Lopez Announces His Retirement

Andy Lopez, a 33-year coaching veteran and one of the most winning coaches in college baseball, has announced his retirement as head coach at the University of Arizona. Lopez, who guided the Wildcats to a pair of College World Series appearances and the 2012 national championship spent the past 14 years at Arizona after previous coaching stints at Cal State Dominguez Hills, Pepperdine and Florida. Under the direction of Lopez, Arizona restored its championship tradition on the diamond. "For the past 14 years, I have been extremely honored to be a part of the Arizona baseball program," said Lopez.

For the article, go to HS/College/Senior

Bob Karn Named National H.S. Baseball Coach of the Year

For a lot of people who are 73 years old, life will slow down a bit. But Bob Karn may be hitting his prime as Cathedral High School's baseball coach in St. Cloud, Illinois. The Crusaders have won 50 straight games and two straight Class 2 A state titles. He recently completed his 45th season as the team's coach. He led the team to nine state titles, and the Crusaders are 736-237 in his tenure. Karn was named the American Baseball Coaches Association Division III High School Coach of the Year on July 9.

For the story, go to HS/College/Senior

GP North's Frank Sumbera Joins Baseball's 1,000-Win Club

Frank Sumbera, the veteran head baseball coach at Grosse Pointe North High School the past 42 seasons, became the third high school baseball coach in state history to win 1,000 games in May. He also has been the football coach since 1981 and has won more than 200 games. Although he is now retired from teaching, Sumbera also was a coach in the classroom. He taught auto mechanics and drafting, and many of the qualities that made him such a successful coach made him an extraordinary classroom teacher.

For the article, go to HS/College/Senior

Sandlot Baseball Filled the Day for Kids

Somewhere, surely there is a boy this summer with a baseball glove dangling from the handlebar of his bicycle, on his way to a hastily put together, loosely organized version of our national pastime. Somewhere the youngsters found an empty diamond and quickly picked teams and went at it under the mid-day sun, and into dusk. Someone brought a bat, someone brought a ball, and right field was out. They played for hours, until the light of day abandoned them. Surely this must go on, somewhere in America.

To read, go to Youth Baseball

Sandlot Baseball Was a Hit

Before Little League, before Pony League, before Babe Ruth League, on Janey Way in Sacramento, California, we had sandlot baseball. We began by playing catch on the street with rubberized baseballs, but that soon failed to satisfy our need for real competition. So we searched for a place to make a field. That was easy because almost exactly in the middle of Janey Way stood two adjacent empty lots. They made a perfect sandlot baseball field.

For the story, go to Youth Baseball

How to Set Up a Sandlot Baseball Game

From the time he was eight or nine, up until he was about 15, R.J. Licata was a master at organizing neighborhood games. As he looks back now, he is amazed at all the things he learned by taking on this task. “Think about the different hats I wore just trying to get a game of baseball organized. There was a lot of carefree time-wasting, but when it was time to get down to business, we knew what we needed to do.”

For the article, go to Youth Baseball

Sandlot Kids

Getting Kids Back to Sandlot Baseball

The key to the revival of the sandlot baseball game are the thousands of public recreation and park agencies across the country. Children today do not play enough park and school playground baseball, and there is a long, overdue need to revive the concept and promote a nationwide movement. More opportunities to play baseball in parks and playgrounds need to be provided by local park and recreation departments and school districts. City playgrounds should be open longer and the necessary equipment provided. A major effort should be made to have local recreation and park agencies nationwide, coordinated by the National Recreation and Park Association, spearhead such a movement.

To learn more, go to Youth Baseball

Revival of Baseball Pick-up Games

The best way to get children to play more baseball on their own is to promote the return of pick-up games. The youth of America need to be taught how to organize pick-up games. In the Youth Baseball page, Don Weiskopf, publisher of Baseball Play America, explains the rules on how eleven favorite pick-up games are played. They include Work-up, Over the Line, Scrub, Catch a Fly and You’re Up, and a couple of Brent Mayne’s favorites, First to Ten and Play Catch.

For the rules, go to Youth Baseball

Sandlot play in Chicago

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