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    A Major Week for Major League Baseball

     

     

    Last week was a busy week in the world of baseball history. First off, Hank Aaron was named number three on MLB’s list of the top ten most iconic home runs in Major League history. For a while, Babe Ruth was the king of baseball, no doubt about it! If there was a record for home runs, chances are The Babe had it in the bag. Then along comes Hammerin’ Hank Aaron on April 8, 1974, in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers to hit his 715th home run, beating The Babe’s record and becoming the new home run champion!

    Next up, we have the 50th anniversary of the St. Louis Cardinals 1967 World Series win against the Boston Red Sox. To commemorate the occasion, the Cardinals capped the pregame ceremony with a first pitch from Bob Gibson to Tim McCarver. In 1967, Gibson was a very key player in the Cardinals World Series win. After having been off with a broken leg just months prior, Gibson would start and win game seven against the Boston Red Sox.

     

     

    And to top off a spectacular week, we have Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who hit a first-pitch sinker down the third baseline against the White Sox at Angel Stadium. The hit increased his career RBI total to 1,846, breaking his tie with legend Carl Yastrzemski and giving Pujols possession of 11th place on the all-time RBI list.

    Who wouldn’t want to remember these moments for decades to come? And with our amazing Hank Aaron, Bob Gibson and Carl Yastrzemski canvas prints in store, you can easily give Dad (or yourself) a piece of sports history. Come on down to our Vintage Sports Images showroom and receive 10% off these prints for Father’s Day or browse the rest of our awesome Father’s Day Collection and give Dad the gift of a moment in history.

    If you think you can throw like Gibson or hit like Aaron or Yaz, then come to our store at 1089 Marine Drive in North Vancouver on June 3rd. From 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. we will be holding a competition to win a baseball print.

     

    The ’89 Jays Made the Post Season – Can They in 2017?

    The ’89 Jays Made the Post Season – Can They in 2017?

    Chris Mizzoni is a good friend of mine, works with Vintage Sports Images, and really knows his stuff. Below is a blog post on the Blue Jays and their amazing comeback to make the post season in 1989.

     

    This season’s Toronto Blue Jays are a disappointment, to say the very least. After reaching the post season in each of the last two years, another playoff appearance was expected in 2017. However, as of this writing, that seems like an extreme long shot. Through April, after 25 games, the Jays have won only 8. There is, however, some precedence for the Blue Jays to turn it around and make a push for the playoffs. It happened in 1989, after a similar start to the season.

     

    Formed in 1977, the Jays first made the playoffs in 1985 (back when finishing first in your division was the only way – there were no wildcard spots). In 1987 and 1988, they finished each season two games behind the leader – and then came 1989. Under manager Jimy Williams, the Jays got out of the gates to a pathetic 12-24 record. The low point was a Sunday afternoon game, on May 14, that turned out to be a 13-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins. It also proved to be the last Jays game managed by Jimy Williams, as he was replaced by Cito Gaston soon after the game.

     

    Gaston had been Toronto’s hitting instructor since 1982, before reluctantly assuming the manager’s responsibilities. Despite their 12-24 record, the Jays sat only six games behind A.L. East leaders, Boston and Cleveland. Gaston immediately led them to five wins in his first six games.

     

    On Sunday, June 4, Toronto won a game in Boston that may have been the turning point of the season. They were behind by a score of 10-0 entering the 7th inning, but tied the game in the bottom of the 9th on a grand slam by catcher Ernie Whitt. The Jays won the game on a two-run homerun in the 12th inning by rookie Junior Felix to cap the improbable comeback. The win raised Gaston’s record to 11-7, but the Jays had still slipped to eight games behind the suddenly hot Baltimore Orioles.

     

    The very next day, June 5, the Blue Jays opened the brand new SkyDome (a game I attended). Although they lost the first two games at the state-of-the-art facility, buoyed by 48,000 fans every night, the Jays finally climbed back to the .500 mark on June 23. After going 12-24 under Williams, they had now gone 24-12 under Gaston.

     

    It took the Jays until the very last day of August to finally reach first place; a 5-1 win over the White Sox lifted them to a 72-62 mark and they tied with Baltimore for top spot. At this point, they were in the midst of a 22-5 run that pretty much locked up the division title. Toronto ended up winning the American League East by two games over Baltimore and would lose to the powerhouse Oakland A’s in the A.L. Championship Series.

     

    So, as the current Blue Jays sit, mired in the poorest start in franchise history, can they replicate the comeback of 1989? A few large factors are much different now than they were 28 years ago. Firstly, the Jays do not have a brand new stadium to move into, midway through the year. I firmly believe this helped to turn around their fortunes. After starting the year 7-10 at Exhibition Stadium, the Jays went 39-25 at SkyDome. Secondly, the deficit the Jays have this time around is larger. As of May 1, Toronto sits 8.5 games behind division-leading New York. The one saving grace may be the Wild Card spot, which did not exist those many years ago. The Blue Jays sit 6 games out of the second Wild Card – the exact same amount they were out of first, in 1989. Could they possibly do it again?

     

    Father’s Day is fast approaching. Check out our unique Blue Jays images for Dad. We also have historical MLB images and wooden signs.

    MLB Spring Training

    MLB Spring Training

    As some of you may have noticed from my personal Instagram and Facebook posts, I recently returned from a trip to Scottsdale, Arizona to watch some Spring Training baseball. In addition to getting away from the dreary Vancouver weather, I wanted to get inspired by the excitement of another baseball season about to begin. That is the thing with spring… it’s a new beginning. Optimism. A fresh start.


    While sitting at Scottsdale Stadium, awaiting the Giants vs. Indians game, enjoying the sun and the beer in centre field and watching the teams get ready, I took the opportunity to read an article on the history of the Cactus League in Play Ball Magazine, the Official Spring Training Guide. This is a super cool magazine, available for free, that gives you a schedule of all the games in Arizona, as well as some interesting stories about the game.


    The Chicago White Stockings (now the White Sox) was the first team to play a barnstorming game in Arizona in 1909. The Detroit Tigers became the first team to officially train there, in 1929. They played several games against local teams, but in 1930, they moved their spring camp to California and never returned to Arizona. In 1947, Bill Veeck convinced the then New York Giants owner, Horace Stoneham, to train in Phoenix while his Cleveland Indians trained in Tucson. The Chicago Cubs then moved their team to Mesa, AZ from Catalina Island, CA in 1952. The Orioles started training in Yuma in 1954 and the Cactus League was officially born. In 1959, the New York Giants won the first Cactus League World Series, sweeping the Cleveland Indians in four games. Among the highlights was “the catch” made by MLB hero Willie Mays that prevented a Cleveland rally with two men on.


    Check out the amazing catch.

    (And check out the great Willie Mays image. Drop by the store, as the sports canvas print is currently 20% off. It’s the perfect gift for the sports fan in your life or for your man cave.)

    The Red Sox took up residence in Scottsdale in 1959, and fans got to see the last two years of Ted Williams’ career and the start of Carl Yastrzemski’s. In 1969, the Seattle Pilots trained in Tempe and the San Diego Padres started in Yuma. Charlie Finley’s A’s trained in Mesa in 1969. They went on to win three World Series titles (1972-74) while training there!


    Now, half the MLB teams train in Arizona in the Cactus League, with the other half in Florida in the Grapefruit League. If you need a little sun and enjoy baseball, it is a pleasant way to see games for cheap. I was lucky enough to catch Nolan Baumgartner’s start for the Giants. Man can he throw!


    Continue to watch the Vintage Sports Images blog, as I will be writing a few more articles on Spring Training before the season starts in April.

    Boog Powell – Amazing Athlete & Great Guy

    Boog Powell – Amazing Athlete & Great Guy

    I am beyond excited that the MLB season is almost here. For those who know me, you are probably aware that I love baseball and am a huge Baltimore Orioles fan! I recently came across this shot of my meeting with John “Boog” Powell from my visit to Oriole Park at Camden Yards a few years ago. I was a big fan of Boog because of my older brother, Terry. He used to make me watch Orioles games as a kid – and I am thankful, every day, that he did!


    Boog was a power-hitting first baseman who played for the Orioles (1961–74), Cleveland Indians (1975–76) and Los Angeles Dodgers (1977). He was with the Orioles’ World Series Champion teams in 1966 and 1970, the American League Champion teams in 1966, 1969, 1970 and 1971, and the American League East Division Champion teams in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973 and 1974. The four-time All-Star posted a .606 slugging percentage to lead the American League in 1964. He batted left-handed and threw right-handed, playing first base, outfield and designated hitter.


    In 1966, Powell, along with Frank Robinson and Brooks Robinson, led the Orioles to the 1966 World Series, where they surprised the baseball world by sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers in four games to become the MLB world champions.


    Before the 1968 season, Powell lamented, "Once, just once, I'd like to go through a whole season without an injury." He did just that, playing over 150 games in each of the next three seasons. In 1969, he hit a career-high .304, with 37 home runs and 121 runs batted in. In 1970, he was the American League Most Valuable Player, hitting 35 home runs, with 114 RBIs, and narrowly missing a .300 average during the last week of the season. In that year’s World Series, Powell homered in the first two games, as the Orioles defeated the Cincinnati Reds in five games. Prior to the 1971 season, Powell appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated for the 1971 baseball preview issue. Powell helped Baltimore to a third straight World Series that year, blasting a pair of home runs in game two of the 1971 American League Championship Series against the up-and-coming Oakland Athletics. Unfortunately, he hit only .111 in the 1971 World Series, as Baltimore lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates in seven games.


    Most importantly to me, Boog was a real character and a heck of a nice guy from all reports, which was confirmed when I met him! We chatted for a while and he was kind enough to sign my ticket stub. As a huge Orioles fan from Canada, he was surprised at how much I knew and seemed to enjoy reminiscing with me. And, on a plus, if you ever get to Camden Yards, his BBQ is outstanding (and the beer was pretty good too).

    Check out this great shot from our archives below! Like all our other famous athlete images, we think this one is a "home run."

    The Lost Art of Conversation

    The Lost Art of Conversation

    Someone asked me the other day what I liked best about our Vintage Sports Images gallery and retail space – and without a doubt, it is that when people come in to check out our thousands of rare and never-before-seen NHL, MLB, NFL and NBA images, they inevitably talk about stories from the past. This happens with young and old alike. When it comes to sports history, age doesn’t matter. It is incredible and it's exactly what I hoped for when I opened the space.

    One guy came in and saw the Ted Williams signed jersey and bat we have on display and told me about how his dad hung out with Williams, “The Splendid Splinter” – Major League Baseball’s last .400 hitter. He showed me a picture of himself as a young kid fishing with the legend. It turns out, his dad and Williams were good buddies and went out and cast a few back in the day.

    Another fellow came in and was looking at a Gerry Cheevers print. He started talking about the 70's goalies and goalie masks and said that he still plays today, in old-school goalie gear. How awesome is that? It turns out, he’s a part of a whole group of people who love that era and keep it alive in so many different ways. Our chat reminded me about my first year of Tom Thumb hockey in Sault Ste. Marie, ON (home of NHL heroes Tony and Phil Esposito) and being handed a Flyers jersey (number 2 Ed Van Impe). In my heart, I am still a Flyers fan.

    Another great experience was with a woman who came in the other day looking for a Leafs print – a gift for her 80-year-old father-in-law. We started talking about how she used to trade the old Esso Power Players cards at school so she could fill the book – you got them at the gas station. Canadian icon comedian Mike Myers also mentions doing this in Canada, his new book, which I got for Christmas. This was a passion of mine in school. Maybe it was for you too. She and I had a great conversation about which players were hard to get, which you always had doubles or triples of, and which ones were favorites. It was such a blast from the past.

    Check out the old ad for the Esso Power Players here

    The point is that these images conjure up the lost art of conversation. Anything to get people to put down their smartphones and just talk to each other – and have a real conversation that they are both passionate about – is one of the things I live for!

    I look forward to having many more of these conversations – hopefully with the next person who walks in the door.