After the promise of week one, week two has left me wanting …
Instead of speaking with my heart, I thought I would share a post I wrote for another blog.
Being a born and raised Cleveland sports homer, I am sure early heart trouble will result. Nearly all of my favorite players have played with Cleveland teams. Many are players that live in relative obscurity outside the Forest City.
Local sports teams always gain a bit more favor with hometown fans. Even with the coming of the Internet and ESPN, the largest coverage for many players comes from their hometown media. In the 70s and 80s that was even more pronounced.
The local coverage has always been a great source of interesting history and trivia, otherwise how would I know that Duane Kuiper and Steve Stone are the ideals announcers for the Home Run Derby.
Duane Kuiper was Captain Kipe for the Cleveland Indians in the late 70s. Rated as one of the Top 100 Indians of all-time in 2000, he is was a good player, not great. His time in Cleveland was short, coming up to the big leagues in 1974 and leaving after the 1981 in a trade involving Ed Whitson with the San Francisco Giants.
During his time with the Tribe Duane Kuiper was a known for his defense as a second baseman, averaging around 10 errors a season, and making a respectable double play team with Frank Duffy and Tom Veryzer.
He was great to the fans and all around nice levelheaded guy.
Batting left-handed, he hit .274 in his stay with the Tribe. Known mainly for the singles he slapped to left field.
On July 27, 1978 in New York to play the Yankees, Captain Kipe went hitless in the first game of a doubleheader (remember when they played those?). In the second game, against Bob Kammeyer, he hit two bases load triples. Two bases load triples in one game, an accomplishment only Emer Valo (in 1949) and Bill Bruton (in 1959) had pulled off before.
Adding to his batting legend was his home run. Just one. In 3,374 Major League plate appearances he was only able to hit one single 360 foot home run, on August 29, 1977. For major leaguers with at least 3,000 plate appearances, this is the lowest total.
In front of 6,236 fans Steve Stone fired a fastball to Kuiper and he knocked the ball into the second row of seats in right field of Municipal Stadium. That was his 1,382nd plate appearance.
The Indians fought off all the fans, which most likely were still in shock, to get the ball for him. When they traded him to the Giants, the Indians took the seat where the ball landed and presented it to him as a plague and parting gift.
Kuiper played a few more years with the Giants and has become a well respected announcer for them. Steve Stone was able to shake off the shame of giving up Kuipers only home run, turning in a 25-7 season for the Orioles in 1980 before retiring with arm troubles after the 1981 season. Steve Stone, born in the Cleveland area and had Thurman Munson as his catcher at Kent State University, also became an announcer. Stone served as Harry Caray’s color man, for the Cubs, for many years.
Bob Kammeyer, on the other hand, only appeared in seven games for the Yankees the year he gave up two bases loaded triples to Captain Kipe. The next year he appeared in one game, and disappeared from baseball.
Come on Major League Baseball, for the Home Run Derby I cannot see a better set of announcers than Steve Stone and Duane Kuiper, perhaps with Bob Kammeyer as the on-field announcer?