Saturdays Suds: Baseball & Beer #82 Sketchbook Night Game

23 01 2021

This summer I did a post about Sketchbook Day Game – I also had their other baseball themed beer a couple months after that. It’s called – Night Game!

Brewery: Sketchbook Brewing Co. in Evanston, IL

Beer: Night Game

Description:  “Double IPA with Mosaic Hop and honey.  Huge tropical fruit, citrus and floral flavors and aromas.  The malt is simple and lends a drier and refreshing IPA.”

This is basically their Day Game beer – a “Midwest” IPA with honey – but as an imperial IPA.  So 8% plus ABV instead of 6%.  It was a bit sweeter than the regular and obviously packed a bit more punch.  I enjoyed this one – but actually liked the Day game better.

The Day Game beer I enjoyed when baseball was on COVID hiatus and during a Field of Dreams viewing in our house.  Conveniently, I had the Night Game version in September when baseball was back and I was able to watch a night game!

Medium:  I had it from a 16 oz can, I’m sure they also put it out on draft.

How it’s related to baseball:  It’s named after a baseball term!  This is one of 2 beers with this theme.  This one, as the nighttime version, is meant to be drank at night when you don’t need to worry about staying as sober!

RIP Lou Brock, 1939-2020

21 01 2021

As I mentioned in my last post – I unfortunately have a lot of these posts to catch up on.  In fact, since I posted a tribute to Tom Seaver, the baseball world lost another 300 game winner.  So many Hall of Famers have passed away over the past 1-2 years.

Seaver, who passed away on August 31 of last year, was the first of these.  Unfortunately Lou Brock followed him less than a week later.

Like Seaver, Brock was before my time – he was a few years older and actually finished up his career in 1979, which is just before I was born.  Rickey Henderson has always been my favorite non-Reds player, and he’s always tied to Brock for the stolen base records he broke.

Louis Clark Brock was born in 1939 in Arkansas but moved to a small town in northern Louisiana shortly thereafter.   He grew up poor and black in the South, well before the Civil Rights movement.  He didn’t pick up baseball until just before High School, but when he did – he put together a stellar high school career.  From there he went to Southern University on an academic scholarship.  But he struggled in school, and lost that scholarship.  He again turned to baseball to earn a scholarship athletically.  He didn’t fare too well his freshman year, but his sophomore season (1959) he broke through, leading Southern to the NAIA championship.  It was the first and, to this day, only time a Historically Black University has won a national baseball title.  Brock returned for his junior season and Southern made it to the semifinals.

His success earned him tryouts with both Chicago teams, opting to sign with the Cubs that summer.  He starred for their minor league affiliate St. Cloud in 1961, earning a quick cup of coffee for them at the end of the season.  He made the major league squad the next spring training, batting a solid .263 and stealing a modest 16 bases.  Of course, that was the year Maury Wills lit the basepaths on fire, becoming the first player in modern times to steal 100+ bases.  This ushered in the most prolific era of stolen bases in the game’s history.

Lou’s hitting was above average and his baserunning was stellar, but as a defensive outfielder he was subpar at best.  After a slow start to the 1964 season, the Cubs traded him to the Cardinals in what became one of the most lopsided deals in MLB history.  The trade was for Ernie Broglio (along with some other players), who would go on to win only 7 more games in his big league career.

Brock, however, began to thrive in St. Louis.  He was given the green light on the basepaths, stealing 33 bases in 100 games.  He hit .348 for the Cardinals and helped them leapfrog the Phillies and Reds to win the NL pennant.  Against the Yankees, Lou had a solid World Series.  He hit .300 and smashed a home run in the deciding game 7 to help St. Louis to its first title in 18 years.

With the green light continuing, Brock stole 63 bases the next year – the first of 12 straight seasons he would steal 50 or more.  He notched his first time leading the league the year after that, swiping 74 bags.

The Cardinals made the World Series twice more in Lou’s career – 1967 and 1968.  Both series went 7 games.  In 1967 they again took home the championship against Boston.  Brock hit .414 and stole 7 bases, scoring 8 runs.  It was a performance worthy of Series MVP in most years, but his teammate Bob Gibson took that honor home by winning 3 games.  The next year the Cardinals lost to the Tigers in one of the greatest Series ever.  Brock was even better – matching his series record 7 stolen bases from the previous year.  He hit .464 and tied another series record by knocking 13 hits.  Both the steals and hits remain records for a single World Series; Brock’s 14 total WS stolen bases remained tied with Eddie Collins for the career record.

From there, Brock continued his base stealing and had a season to remember in 1974.  During his age-35 season, he stole an incredible 118 bases – shattering Wills’ record from 12 years earlier.  It was an incredible jump, even for Brock – it was 44 bases more than his second highest tally!

The Cardinals never regained their success of the mid-late 60’s, but Brock stayed with the team until 1979.  At the age of 40, he collected his 3,000th hit and hung up his cleats after a solid campaign that saw him make the All-Star team and hit .304.  He had broken Ty Cobb’s career SB record two seasons earlier.

Rickey Henderson has since broken most of Brock’s stolen base records, and the two always seem indelibly linked.  I have baseballs signed by both of them and I made sure to display them side by side in a case that holds two balls.  Brock was 81 when he passed away, so he lived a long life, but he always seemed to be in great shape when I saw him at the couple hall of fame ceremonies I went to – so at the same time he still seemed too young.  Rest in Peace, Lou!

RIP Tom Seaver, 1944-2020

18 01 2021

It’s 2021 and I’m picking the blog back up again.  Unfortunately – I have a lot of these posts to catch up on.  A number of Hall of Famers have passed away since the middle of 2020.

Tom Terrific was a little before my time – he finished up his career in 1986 when I was a year or so from getting into sports and baseball.  He’s a tad older than my parents – and because of his time in Cincinnati and having the same first name as my Dad, I’d always kind of liked him.

Tom Seaver was born in 1944 in Fresno, CA and despite his talents as a baseball youngster, he stayed local for a first couple years of college.  Eventually, though, his talent got noticed and he was recruited as a Junior to attend the prominent baseball program at USC.  After a stellar season in 1965 got him noticed – he was drafted by the Dodgers in June that year, but opted not to sign with the team.  The draft used to be in phases back then, and in the next phase of that draft (January 1966) the Braves drafted Seaver and signed him at some point in late February to a contract.  The signing bonus was for $40,000 – a hefty sum at the time – and it garnered much more news than his drafting had.  An unusual rule came into play here.  It was against MLB rules to sign a player when his college team was playing, and even though he wasn’t pitching for USC had already played some games that year.  Commissioner William Eckert voided the contract with the Braves, who had chalked the violation to an honest mistake.  Most teams hadn’t started playing their season yet, but the warm-weather Trojans had.

But Seaver was now ineligible to continue his college career due to signing the Braves contract.  It was a bit of catch-22.  Eckert determined that any teams willing to match the Braves’ initial offer would enter a lottery for Seaver’s services.  The Phillies, Mets and Indians all bid to play, and the hapless Mets were the name drawn out of the hat!

The rest as they say, is history.  Seaver pitched one season in AAA Jacksonville and in 1967 came up to the Big Leagues for good.  He won the Rookie of the Year, going 16-13 with a 2.76 ERA.  2 years later, he put in a case as the best pitcher, winning the Cy Young award (25-7, 2.21, 208 K’s) while leading the Amazin’ Mets to the most improbable World Championship in history.  That was the first of 9 straight years where he struck out more than 200 batters – matching a record set by Bob Gibson (and interestingly – never broken since then).  He won 3 Cy Young awards in that timeframe, might have deserved another, and got the Mets back to the World Series in 1973.  Though they lost in 7 games to the A’s that year – Seaver had effectively taken over from Gibson as the best pitcher in baseball.

But a few years later, in one of the more shocking trades of all-time, the Mets dealt Seaver to the Reds in the middle of the 1977 season after contract disagreements.  The most notable player the Mets got was Pat Zachry, and Seaver had a few stellar years with the Reds – including going 14-2 in the strike shortened 1981 season for the team that had the best record in baseball (but was kept out of the playoffs due to the structure).  Seaver was on the downside of his career after that.  He went back to the Mets for one season in 1983, and finished up his career in the AL with the White Sox (where he won his 300th game) and Red Sox.

While he played 40% of his career elsewhere – Seaver is forever linked with the Mets.  He’s the “one guy” for that franchise, and Mets fans mourned the day he passed away last August.  Seaver’s health had waned in recent years as he battled dementia, which along with complications from COVID-19 led to his death.  There’s an argument he’s the greatest right handed pitcher of all-time, but no argument he is up there in the discussion.