Almanac Baseball: Ode to Lefties


Photo by Tage Olsin, Source Wiki Commons

 

No, this is not a political diatribe about the sleeper agents in the MLB about to incite a workers revolution. This post is about left-handed pitchers – two from the mighty Red Sox (no surprises there) and one lesser known.

 

Chris Sale created history today (Tuesday, US time) by becoming the fastest pitcher in the history of the majors to 2,000 career strikeouts. Thankfully his teammates helped out by getting a win over the Indians, with an extra inning and a JBJ homer needed to get the job done. That is really the story of the whole season. The Sox offense has been required to dig deep on multiple occasions to overcome some glaring deficiencies in their pitching stocks. Regardless of what happens for the rest of the year, 2019 will be remembered fondly by many in Red Sox Nation, however, as the year we got our biggest ever win over the arch enemy. We smoked the Yankees 19-3 in a remarkable night at Fenway last month. But back to the tale of the lefties.

 

The previous record was held by another favoured Fenway son, Pedro Martinez. Pedro is credited with making the Sox a competitive outfit in the early 21st century culminating in the World Series win of 2004 and the vanquishing of the Curse of the Bambino. Pedro took over 1700 innings pitched to achieve the milestone while Sale got there in 1,626. I have talked in previous posts about how important he was in the World Series win of last year. He was simply magnificent and, while his 2019 numbers are far less flattering, he has shown that he is a true champion with this feat. It has taken 17 years to supplant Pedro, so it may well be that Chris has this record for a long time to come.

 

There is another leftie in the wings waiting to reach this milestone. David Price currently sits on 1,979 strikeouts over 2,027 innings pitched. While obviously he will be well down the order in terms of speed to the mark, he has been a great servant to the game and the Red Sox in the last few years. His efforts last year were just as important as Chris Sale’s and the fans love him for it.

 

The third leftie on my list is my nephew. About to sit his HSC exams in Sydney, Jack will be heading to the US next year on a fully funded scholarship to a highly regarded college. He fell in love with baseball after I suggested to my sister they should check out the Sydney Blue Sox almost a decade ago. Following a few fun seasons getting to know the players and the baseball community, Jack started applying himself. In the ensuing years, he worked hard on his game earning several representative gigs along the way. That persistence has paid off as he enters this exciting phase of his life. Like all kids on the make they need to be kept in check so I have nicknamed him MD (Marked Down) – looking good but not quite a Sale Price yet!

 

I love watching lefties. They bring something unique and exciting to baseball. Whether it is established stars like Sale and Price or ones on the rise like Jack, may they forever be part of the game.

 

Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

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About

Grew up playing the rugby codes in suburban Sydney. Moved to Melbourne during the Carey era so becoming a Shinboner was the natural call. Still love the game they play in heaven. Took an interest in MLB a few years back and have become infatuated with America's pastime.

Comments

  1. Brian, in Adelaide during the 70s (and early 80s?), there was a brilliant left-handed pitcher for the Goodwood Indians named Neil Page. He was a class above everyone. His battles with Port Adelaide’s Kevin Greatrex were the stuff of legends.

  2. Neil Page was indeed a legend in SA and Australian baseball. As a southpaw pitcher he was the star of the famous ’71 / ’72 SA Grand Final between Good Indians and Port Magpies. Pitching for Indians, would you believe for 19 innings (I forget just how may strike outs he pitched, but it was many) before his nemesis,Kevin Greatrex clouted a 2 run homer to snatch a 4-2 victory in the bottom of the 19th. In SA Greatrex won a Shipway medal (Night Baseball), Capps medal (Summer Baseball) and a Helms Medal (Claxton Shield). On transferring to WA he won a Presidents medal, their equivalent of our Capps. Neil could also bat and hit many long home runs. He had a grand record playing for Australia against touring Japanese teams. Neil received an offer to play ‘ball in the States but an arm injury prevented his taking up the offer, I have written a book about Neil (he was one of my heroes) and during my writing of it he was often a guest at our house. On completion and publication of the work, Neil was so pleased, he presented Heather and me with a bottle of wine, Heather assured me it was a good vintage. Neil sent some copies of the book to a few of his friends now living in America.

    Over here in good old SA, we have been blessed with several superb southpaw pitchers, The legendary Peter Box ( 3 shipway medals and 2 Capps medals) was my all time favourite baseballer. Peter, also a dangerous batter, had the distinction of hitting the very first home run and then the first grand slam homer in Night Baseball. He was one of the 4 SA players that represented Australia in the famous baseball game against the touring American armed forces side for the ’56 Melbourne Olympic games. Pete was an All Australian 3 times. Peter and Neil, whilst both pitched left handed, batted right handed.

    Glenelg’s Don Rice (5 Capps medals) was also a fabulous left hander and like the other 2 performed really well in Claxton Shield baseball. When at his very best, his catcher was none other than Ian Michael CHAPPELL.

    Finally, the other famous SA southpaw, and more than handy batter, was Greg Elkson (also winning 5 Capps medals). Like Pagey, Box and Rice, Greg enjoyed much success playing in Claxton Shield baseball. And similar to Neil played really well against touring Japanese teams. Incidentally, both Page and Elkson toured the Philippines and received much praise for their efforts.

    And, yes, I have written books about Box, Page and Elkson in my LEGENDS OF SA BASEBALL SERIES . Whilst these have yet to be published, the baseball fraternity has received copies via e-mail

  3. Correction time. in my last sentence the books written should have read, Box, RICE, and Elkson. Page’s book has already been published.

    In SA Page played with Glenelg, Adelaide and Goodwood before transferring to WA Box and Rice are now deceased.

  4. It’s me, Fisho again. Looking up my records, Neil Page, over the 19 innings pitched in that memorable ’71 / ’72 grand final, recorded 21 K’2s (strike outs) whilst giving up only 1 walk and 9 hits. In the bottom of that fateful nineteenth, with Dave Mundy (not the Freo footballer) on base, Port Adelaide first sacker, Kevin Greatrex strode purposefully to the plate.

    As he took up position in the batting box, he turned to chief umpire, Warren Charles and said something like this, “Evening Warren, it’s time I put an end to this marathon ” Charles, in an interview I had with him told me this. The, by now starting to show signs of tiring, Page confessed he hadn’t heard Greatrex’ remarks. Neil claimed, if he had, he would have found a little extra. Anyway Greatrex connected and sent a hit to left field where it just barely cleared the home run fence, ensuring a Port Adelaide premiership. Being a Goodwood supporter, I was mortified.

    So respected by the Port players, Neil Page was invited into the Magpies rooms for drinks after the match but Neil respectfully declined, wanting to be with his teammates.

    Also, I forgot to mention that Neil Page and Greg Elkson are now members of the Australian baseball HALL OF FAME.

    ALL THE MENTIONED SOUTHPAW PITCHERS PITCHED PREMIERSHIPS FOR THEIR SIDES.

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