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Today is the birthday of two of the top baseball players of all time: Jackie Robinson and Ernie Banks.  I respect both of these men for the way they played the game, but more importantly for the way they handled themselves as they were faced with the harsh racism of the mid-1900s.

Jackie Robinson would be 94 years old today.

Jackie Robinson

As you know, Jackie Robinson broke the “color barrier” in Major League Baseball.  Without Jackie Robinson, there would have been no Hank Aaron, no Willie Mays, or no Ernie Banks.  He endured years of abuse, but he never fought back.  The best resistance he could offer to the widespread racism and ignorance was to play better than anyone else.  He won the Rookie of the Year and the MVP.  He also won the World Series with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Jackie Robinson Stats:

Career Batting AVG: .311

1947 Rookie of the Year

1949 NL MVP

1949 NL Batting Title

2x Stolen Base Champion (1947 & 1949)

Every February in elementary school we had to do a report on someone that contributed to Civil Rights and equality.  I always wrote about Jackie Robinson.  I’ve probably read 5 biographies of him.  He is the only player to have his number retired for the entire MLB.  Happy Birthday Jackie!

Jackie Robinson's Number 42 is retired by every MLB team

 

Ernie Banks is 82 years old today.  Happy birthday to you Mr. Banks.

Ernie Banks

Ernie Banks is a super classy man.  He played for 19 years with the Cubs.  He won the MVP twice, but he never made it to the World Series.  When asked if he would go to another team with the chance of making the World Series he said: “I didn’t say anything.  But the answer to that was, ‘No, I’m satisfied playing for the Cubs, playing day-baseball in Chicago, the middle of the United States.’ I was satisfied with that.” (source: Ernie Banks: A Beacon for Baseball).  He put up great numbers throughout his career, and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first ballot (a very rare achievement).  As I wrote last week, I recently got to meet Ernie Banks, and it was a joy.

Ernie Banks Stats:

512 Home Runs – #21 All-time (#15 if you don’t count the steroid users)

2x NL MVP (1958 & 1959)

14x All Star

A very hearty birthday to Mr. Jackie Robinson and Mr. Ernie Banks from For Aslan…and the Volunteer State.

Until later friends…

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Orval Overall 1908 Cubs

Orval Overall is one of the forgotten names of a bygone era.  He was a stellar pitcher back when Chicago ruled baseball.  Overall played for the Chicago Cubs from 1906-1913.  He won two games in the Cubs last World Series victory in 1908.  His career numbers include a record of 108-71, 2.23 career ERA, and 935 strikeouts.

Orval Overall 1911 Baseball Card

So, Happy Birthday Orval. If you were around today, you’d be 131. You might have a chance of making the Cubs though, if your sabremetric numbers were good enough. Ole Theo makes a lot of decisions I don’t understand.

Until later friends….

 

I am very glad that the Texas Rangers pulled out the victory last night over the Cardinals.  As a result, I have had this stuck in my head most of the day.

Texas Rangers are manly.  Whether they be Chuck Norris kicking people in the face or Nolan Ryan hitting people in the head, you don’t want to mess with a Texas Ranger.

The video above is when Nolan Ryan hit Robin Ventura with a pitch.  The 26-year-old Robin Ventura charged the mound against the 46-year-old Nolan Ryan.  Nolan Ryan promptly put him in a headlock and beat the snot out of him.  This same Nolan Ryan is now the president of the Texas Rangers.  Here is a picture of Nolan Ryan with president George W. Bush.

George W Bush and Nolan RyanI’m fairly certain that Nolan Ryan could still hold his own in a bench-clearing brawl.  I loved watching Nolan Ryan pitch as a kid.  He had the best fastball ever, and he was as tough as nails.

Top Three Reasons Why I’m Cheering for the Texas Rangers

1.  St. Louis Cardinals

The Cubs/Cardinals rivalry is the most significant rivalry in my sports allegiances.

Mr T Cubs Fan - Cubs Cardinals Rivalry

There is no situation in which I would cheer for the Cardinals.  It is a friendly rivalry though.  Unlike Yankees/Red Sox fans, I can have friendships with many Cardinals fans.  There are many Cardinals fans I like, especially my in-laws.  But I don’t want them to have the satisfaction of another World Series win before the Cubs get one.

2.  Josh Hamilton

Classy guy. Classy player.

Josh Hamilton at bat

3.  Nolan Ryan

Tough-as-nails. Knows the baseball code.  Made the Texas Rangers a perennial contender.

Nolan Ryan Robin Ventura Fight

Until later friends…

It is time for the World Series.  The Cards trashed my bracket, but I’m excited to see this matchup.

2011 World Series Rangers vs CardinalsThe best part about this series is that it will exhibit two of the classiest guys in Major League Baseball: Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols.

Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton is ClassyI’ve written a lot about how much I respect Josh Hamilton.  Here is a great story about him catching the first pitch from the son of the man that fell to his death at the Rangers’ stadium this year.

Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols Charity

As much as I hate the St. Louis Cardinals, I love Albert Pujols.  He too is a classy guy, and I love all the charitable work he does.

Prediction

I predict the Rangers win the series in 6 games.

Texas Rangers Logo

Until later friends…

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