2014-10-30 / Sports

BASEBALL’S BEST

Some great players missed the World Series
By LAMAR GARRARD
baseball historian

As I am writing this article the 2014 World Series is tied at two games each for the Royals and the Giants so next week we can report on the winner and the path that led to the championship.

Looking back over baseball’s past fall classics, it is interesting to note some of the game’s greatest players who never even appeared in a World Series and a few notables that did make it but did not win the title.

It is hard to imagine Georgia’s baseball icon, the incredible player Ty Cobb, not having a World Championship to his credit. It is true that he played in the 1907, ’08, and ’09 games but his Detroit Tigers came up empty against the Cubs in the first two events and lost to the Pirates in their 1909 effort.

Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox hall of famer, appeared in the 1946 contest but lost out to the St. Louis Cardinals by one game in the seven-game series. Maybe Ted would have appeared in more series but being a real hero and patriotic American, he lost playing time serving our country in WWII and the Korean War as a pilot. I am sure he had no regrets for serving in our military. This may have cost him a chance to play in another championship if his team had reached the finals, but this is just speculation.

Don Sutton, hall of fame pitcher and Atlanta Braves announcer, was on four teams that appeared in the series. His ’74, ’77 and ’78 Dodgers and the ’82 Brewers all lost and denied Don his chance for a World Series ring.

Of course Dale­Murphy and Phil Niekro of the Braves never got their chance to play in the October games and we all know most of that answer comes from the fact that those Braves teams for many years posted some pretty mediocre numbers.

Would you believe that the great Gaylord Perry, the hall of fame pitcher known for supposedly throwing a “wet ball’’ on occasion, never got into the post season. I have a good friend who played high school baseball against Jim and Gaylord Perry in North Carolina and he told me that it was a sure strikeout for him any time he batted against either brother.

Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Andre Dawson, Ron Santo and Ryne Sandberg all missed their chance as they spent many seasons with the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs still are desperately in need of a World Series appearance and moreso the championship. Another North Carolina native Luke Appling, a hall of famer who spent his entire career with the Chicago White Sox, longed for a chance to join the select few who make the final contest in baseball, but never came close.

Changing to a winning perspective, we can look at the career of Georgia native Johnny Mize. “The big cat,” as he was known, from Demorest, Georgia, was able to play on five straight New York Yankees world championship teams while playing for Casey Stengel from 1949-53. During this time Johnny had many pinch hits and also produced big in the home run department. Several times he hit three homers in one game. It is well worth the short day trip to see the Johnny Mize Museum on the campus of Piedmont College in Demorest. They have several large cases of Big John’s actual memorabilia and it is very impressive.

No matter how the results come down for this year’s World Series, I am sure that Kate Smith is smiling down on us as she hears that wonderful song that she made famous, “God Bless America,” being sung at the games all year long throughout all America.

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