Sports

Project ShaqBox: The Other Torre from the Famous High School Class of James Madison, Brooklyn, 1950


1990 Swell Baseball Greats Frank Torre

1990 Swell Baseball Greats Frank Torre
Image: Jesse Spector

Welcome back to Project ShaqBox, where you can get 10 baseball cards in the mail, free, just by letting us know where to send them, and can get 10 cards from the team of your choice by making a donation to charity.

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What 10 cards have come out of the collection for this week’s feature? Let’s take a look…

It’s rare to be a Major League Baseball player and not be the most famous person in your family. It’s rare to be a Major League Baseball player and not be the most famous person in your high school graduating class. And it’s extremely rare to be a Major League Baseball player and be neither the most famous person in your family nor the most famous person in your high school graduating class.

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Well, that’s what Frank Torre was.

Torre’s major league career was more than just being Joe’s brother. He played 714 games from 1956-63, playing first base for Milwaukee and Philadelphia. Torre homered twice in the 1957 World Series, and drove in a run for Milwaukee in the deciding seventh game.

The brothers both played for Milwaukee in 1960, but didn’t get to be teammates — Frank was sent down to Triple-A Louisville in June, while 20-year-old Joe got his call-up straight from Class-C Eau Claire. Joe spent some time with Louisville in 1961, but Frank was assigned to Vancouver in the Pacific Coast League. After that season, Frank’s contract was sold to the Phillies, where he played two seasons.

Frank and Joe finally did get to take the field together on May 3, 1962 in Philly, where big brother went 3-for-4 with three runs batted in to lead the hosts to a 9-8 win. Joe had a much shorter day, as he was hit by a pitch in the second inning and had to leave the game — he was back in the lineup a couple of days later. The pinch runner, interestingly enough, was Bob Uecker.

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Joe was at that point just a few years out of high school at St. Francis Prep in Queens. Frank, though, got his high school diploma at James Madison HS in Brooklyn, the school that educated Senators Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer, labor leader and Baseball Hall of Famer Marvin Miller, Olympian and legendary broadcaster Marty Glickman, entertainers Andrew Dice Clay, Carole King, and Chris Rock, and Nobel Prize winners Arthur Ashkin, Gary Becker, Stanley Cohen, Martin Lewis Perl, and Robert Solow.

None of them was in the class of 1950 with Frank, though. The most notable member of that class went on to take the job previously held by two-time NFL rushing champion Byron “Whizzer” White.

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You guessed it, it was Ruth Bader Ginsburg.


1986 Topps Mario Soto, 1982 Fleer Mike Caldwell

1986 Topps Mario Soto, 1982 Fleer Mike Caldwell

Image: Jesse Spector

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YO-HO-HOMER…

Pirates righthander Trevor Williams suffered his major league-leading eighth loss of the season on Friday as the Pirates’ late rally against the Cardinals fell just short of getting him off the hook in the first game of a doubleheader.

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Williams gave up homers in the game to Kolten Wong and Tyler O’Neill, and that put him in a tie atop the majors in another dubious category, dingers allowed.

Williams and Tanner Roark each have allowed 14 home runs this season, but it’s Williams atop the National League who’s more notable here, because he’s officially passed the total that led the Senior Circuit in 1981, when Mario Soto of the Reds and Pat Zachry of the Mets each gave up 13. The American League leaders that year were Brewers lefty Mike Caldwell and Angels southpaw Geoff Zahn, at 18.

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Teams played 103-111 games in the strike-shortened ’81 season, so reaching league-leading totals from that year in half the time is quite a sign of how the game has changed, including the addition of the DH to the National League this year.

Williams shouldn’t worry too much. This won’t be the last league-leading total from 1981 to be surpassed this year, and there’s still two weeks left for other pitchers to give up even more dingers.

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2007 Topps Ted Williams, 1997 Topps Pat Hentgen, 1979 Topps Craig Skok, 1994 Upper Deck Mike Stanley, 1988 Topps Dale Sveum


2007 Topps Ted Williams, 1997 Topps Pat Hentgen, 1979 Topps Craig Skok, 1994 Upper Deck Mike Stanley, 1988 Topps Dale Sveum
Image: Jesse Spector

BRONX TALES OF THE TAPE

The Yankees put on a show this week against the Blue Jays, hitting a major league-record 19 home runs in their three-game series, including three by backup catcher Kyle Higashioka on Wednesday.

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Thursday’s Bronx Bombers barrage included a five-homer inning, all against Blue Jays righty Chase Anderson, who came up just shy of tying a major league record that’s stood since 1940. On September 24 of that year, George Caster of the Philadelphia A’s gave up six homers in 2.1 innings, setting a mark for relievers that’s been approached in the years since, but never matched.

Relieving Ed Heusser in the fourth inning at Shibe Park, Caster gave up a two-run homer to Ted Williams, then served up another gopher ball in the fifth to Joe Cronin. In the sixth, Caster had an inning just about as bad as Anderson’s 80 years later.

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Dom DiMaggio started with a triple, and came in to score on a fly to left by Doc Cramer. Then Williams, Jimmie Foxx, and Cronin hit back-to-back-to-back home runs. The next batter, Bobby Doerr, hit a Little League homer — officially a triple that he scored on when A’s first baseman Dick Siebert made his 22nd error of the year, a total that led the majors that year. Jim Tabor got Caster for one more homer before the A’s finally brought in Les McCrabb from the bullpen.

No other reliever gave up five homers in an outing until Craig Skok did it in 2.2 innings of Atlanta’s 19-0 home loss to the Expos on July 30, 1978: Dave Cash and Andre Dawson went back-to-back in the third, Larry Parrish took Skok deep in the fourth, and Tony Perez and Parrish hit back-to-back homers in the fifth to knock out Skok.

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Frank Pastore got hammered for five homers out of the 1979 Reds bullpen by five different Dodgers batters, while Andrew Lorraine of the Brewers gave up homers to five different Cubs, including pitcher Kerry Wood, in a 2002 game. Dustin McGowan’s nightmare outing for the 2015 Phillies also featured homers by five different batters, spread across three separate innings.

That means Anderson, giving up back-to-back-to-back homers to Brett Gardner, DJ LeMahieu, and Luke Voit, followed by back-to-back homers by Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres, did set a different major league record: the most home runs allowed by a relief pitcher in a single inning. He also tied a Blue Jays team record for homers allowed by any pitcher in a game, joining Pat Hentgen in 1995 and 1997, and Brett Cecil in 2009.

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On the hitting side of things, HIgashioka’s big game the night before was the first three-homer effort by a Yankees catcher since Mike Stanley in 1995 — in a 10-9 loss to Cleveland, the last time the Yankees lost a game in which a hitter belted three dingers. It was the first time that a catcher for any team has gone deep three times out of the No. 9 spot in the lineup, and only the sixth time that any No. 9 hitter has hit three homers. Pitcher Jim Tobin did it for Boston against the Cubs in 1942, while in 1966, Art Shamsky entered as part of a double switch and went deep in the eighth, 10th, and 11th innings in a game Cincinnati lost, 14-11, to the Pirates in 13.

Since the inception of the DH, it’s only happened four times, all in the American League, starting with Dale Sveum for the 1987 Brewers, as well as Trot Nixon with the 1999 Red Sox and Eddie Rosario of the 2017 Twins.=

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1989 Fleer Baseball All-Stars Jose Canseco, 1987 Donruss Dave Kingman

1989 Fleer Baseball All-Stars Jose Canseco, 1987 Donruss Dave Kingman

Image: Jesse Spector

PROJECT SHAQBOX CARDS OF THE WEEK

Earlier this week, The Mourning After featured an old 7-Up commercial with Magic Johnson, Dave Kingman, and Don Maloney.

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Maloney also did some excellent commercial work with his New York Rangers teammates for Sasson Jeans, but the next thing the YouTube algorithm served up after the 7-Up ad was a clip from Monday Night Baseball in 1986, as a young Jose Canseco and Kingman took a peak-of-his-powers Roger Clemens over the Green Monster in consecutive at-bats.

Kingman hit 35 homers that year, but couldn’t get a job the following spring. He signed a minor league deal with the Giants in July of 1987, hit two homers in 20 games for Phoenix in the Pacific Coast League, and retired with 442 major league home runs.

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Clemens and Canseco appear to have been slimmer and more wiry in 1986 than we tend to remember them as being. Weird.

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