Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Posts from — June 2003

My Dear Friend and Hall Of Famer Leonard Koppett Passed Away Sunday

Baseball lost its finest historian and number one baseball writer, Leonard Koppett who passed away Sunday.

Leonard understood the origins of the game and loved to talk about the nuances of baseball in the press room. Leonard never turned down an interview request. I always started my first show of the year on Right Off the Bat with Leonard. He taught me how to approach the baseball season and how to put historical events into proper perspective.

Leonard was the smartest man I ever knew, no, matter what the subject his opinion was always well thought out, correct and treasured by me.

Leonard and I shared two wonderful trips to Cooperstown where he included me in his conversations with the greats of the game. Whether it was Koufax, LaSorda, writer Jack Lang, Warren Spahn or other luminaries of the game, Leonard was thrilled to see them and share stories with them. Leonard let me eavesdrop on those conversations, one of the highlights of my life.

Leonard’s favorite time of year was late July when he made his trip to Cooperstown to see his old friends. He loved sitting on the veranda of the old Otesaga hotel, just gazing out at the lake and taking in the view while talking to the all time greats of the game.

When I made a speech at the Hall of Fame in 2002 in their Bullpen Theater on induction weekend, I looked up and saw Leonard in the audience, he had come into Cooperstown early on Friday to hear me speak. I felt at home.

Another of his favorite sayings involved Koppett’s Law. It went like this. When a playoff series was nearing its conclusion all involved would wonder if that days game would conclude the series. Koppett’s Law would apply when he would say, “whatever was most inconvenient for the writers covering the event would happen, meaning another road trip, another flight, and another game will take place.” And it would happen time and time again just like he said it would.

He had a wonderful sense of humor, always present and charming. In his New York days, he would write the comedy lines for the annual skits put on at the winter dinner by the New York Baseabll Writers, the most prestigious baseball event of the year in New York.

Leonard Koppett was generous with his time and always was available to talk about baseball. I enjoyed our lunches during the winter, meeting at a San Mateo deli, we would eat and sit for two hours or more with other special guests and argue about some aspect of the game. Leonard always won and I loved it.

Our last time together was this past Friday night when he and I and Sam Spear and Bruce Magowan sat in the press lounge of the Coliseum and debated the merits of all time leadoff hitters Eddie Stanky and Eddie Yost. It was another wonderful moment listening to his views on the origininal analysis of on base percentage .

Leonard Koppett was the inspiration of my baseball life. He wanted me to tell the oral history of the game through my shows. He encouraged me and promoted my work, perhaps the greatest honor I ever received was Leonard telling a reporter that I was doing the best job of collecting the stories of baseball of anyone in the country.

Leonard’s legacy is contained in his many books and columns about baseball.

His book on managers, The Man in the Dugout, taught me how the game of baseball was passed on by John McGraw (Casey Stengel a disciple of McGraw was Leonard’s all time favorite and his baseball guru in the 50’s), Connie Mack and Branch Rickey to the managers of today. He was very proud of Koppett’s Concise History of Baseball, his chronological history of the game, he wanted fans to be able to pick it up and find the historical roots of baseball. I keep it by my bed and refer to it whenever I need to refresh my memory about a baseball event. Leonard left a beautiful baseball legacy, his Sporting News columns from the 60’s and 70’s predicted the labor changes that baseball would undergo in the late 70’s and 80’s. No one understood the history of the labor issues of baseball better than Leonard Koppett.

He told me that ever since the owners realized they could put a fence around the field in 1860, and charge admission, the players and owners have been arguing how to divide that money.

How true.

Leonard started the AP daily roundup of baseball in the 50’s, very common in today’s papers, when the Dodgers and Giants moved West.

No one in the history of baseball knew more about comparing the differences in baseball eras. Leonard may have been the unofficial founder of the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) because he took the numbers of the game and told the story of a player’s career or of a specific era through his numerical comparisons.

He forever was compiling wonderful baseball lists.

He would start a conversation with me by simply stating with a twinkle in his eye “look at this”, or “I want to show you something”, and then I was privy to an intricate baseball fact that explained some part of today’s game. He was so proud of these discoveries.

Leonard felt that expansion had been overdone and the future of baseball would be brighter if the owners would cut back to 24 teams.

Many people come and go in life, Leonard Koppett was one of the most treasured friends I have ever had in my life.

My heart goes out to Leonard’s family, Sue, his wife, Kathy and David his children, and to everyone who knew Leonard Koppett.

We have lost one of the giants of life, he was not only a pillar of baseball, but the most generous, and gentle man I ever met.

Leonard Koppett will always be with me. I’ll miss him and never forget him.

Good bye old friend.

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June 23, 2003   No Comments

Nothing wrong with interleague play.

Many people have been complaining,

about interleague play.

But the fact is that this

“experiment”by Major League

Baseball has been good for

the increase in attendance.

What other team besides the

Yankees can fill out the Network

Associates Coliseum? Yes, the Giants!

And for those Athletics fans that

complained that the Mariners

are playing the Padres while

the A’S are not…Padres took

2 out of 3 from Mariners this

weekend. So, case closed.

A few years from now, when

the Padres have a very good

team and are in their second or

third year in their beautiful new

ballpark in downtown San Diego

noboby will want to play the

Padres then.

By Amaury Pi-González

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June 22, 2003   No Comments

Sunday Morning Muse

Summer is here and the pennant races are far from settled. We probably can pick a couple of teams headed for the playoffs, but other than Atlanta and Seattle, and only if they don’t have siginificant injuries to about 6 players, the rest of the spots are still up for grabs.

How do the Cardinals stay in contention with all their pitching miseries? Simple. Albert Pujols, Edgar Renteria, Scott Rolen, and Jim “Do you have to slide on every catch” Edmonds, crush the ball every night. Now, add rookie secondbaseman Bo Hart, 7-12 in his first weekend and you can see why the Cardinals hang around with substandard pitching.

Randy Wolf and Pedro Martinez pitched excellent games Saturday.

When the two pitchers exited the game the score was 2-1 Boston. The game ended 6-5 Phillies in 13 innings, who says this isn’t a game of bullpens? Boston’s will stay a disaster until Byung Hyun Kim is moved to the ninth inning role.

The best hitter on the team is supposed to hit third. This explains the A’s hitting woes as Miguel Tejada is hitting .230.

Someone tell me why Pedro Feliz doesn’t see more playing time for the Giants? I don’t care if he is a free swinger, the guy can play the outfield, third, or first and does hit the ball hard as he did Saturday night off Tim Hudson.

Hudson did not throw his usual array of pitches down in the strike zone and Feliz made him pay, the first homer he hit was just smoked to centerfield.

Click below for more thoughts this summer morning.

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June 22, 2003   No Comments

Giants:This year's past & future by Ed Stern

Marty; This may be a time to do somewhat more than just look at last night’s game. At least, mention it in the context of what has been going on since the start of the season. It is true that it ain’t over till it’s over, but the past frequently can foreshadow the the future.

Fans, Ed Stern a dedicated Giants fan gives us his thoughts this morning on the team and a look at its future in his article. Ed knows baseball and especially the Giants, click below for another perspective on the Bay Area’s other team.
Marty [

June 21, 2003   No Comments

A Unique Story About Hall of Famer Larry Doby by Charlie Danrick

Charlie Danrick, a frequent contributor to, had the largest collection of audio tapes of special baseball games in the world before partnering with MLB to distribute his fabulous game collection. Charlie wrote, in his won unique style, a perspective on Hall of Famer Larry Doby. I appreciate Charlie’s work, he is a true sportsman with a sense of humor that is pure East Coast. Check this story, you won’t be disappointed. Also, Charlie’s taped games can be found on’s home page.

Click below for the story on a day in the life of Larry Doby, trust me it is different from the eulogies written over the past few days, it even includes another Hall of Famer, but I won’t ruin the surprise! [Read more →]

June 21, 2003   No Comments

Remember, Marathon Not A Sprint in Baseball

In our day to day lives we tend to focus on what is happening today rather than looking at the big picture.

In baseball, you have to keep in mind that what happens today does have a bearing on the game, but what happens over six months really tells the story of the season.

Teams slump for two weeks, then get hot. Pitchers lose three in a row, then turn it around, hitters go oh for fifteen, then hit .400.

You can’t lose faith until it is over, that’s what makes baseball different, among other things, from all the major sports.

With that in mind keep your eyes on the Arizona Diamondbacks who reached the magic .500 mark Friday night. One of these days, Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson will return, and if the young hitters on the team are still hitting, they can quickly get back into the race.

More baseball below! [

June 21, 2003   No Comments

Giants, A pushover for the A's? Not So Fast A's Fans, by Ed Stern

Marty: Your prediction, that the Giants will be lucky to walk away with one win in the three game series about to start, may very well be omniscient. However, there is always a lurking danger in selling a team down the river too quickly, particularly one as baffling as the Giants. Since the season began there has been consistency in pointing out the team’s apparent weaknesses. Despite this, they are still in first place and the Dodgers, with the strongest pitching in the league have yet to dislodge them. The A’s, as I read today’s standings, are 6 losing games out of first place.

Ed, This series and your well thought out resonse to my prediction of the A’s winning at least two of three, demonstrates why baseball is such a great game, one series doesn’t make the season, but every day another compelling story is revealed. I’m looking forward to reading your analysis as the weekend progresses.

Fans click below for a view of this weekend’s A’s – Giants series. [Read more →]

June 20, 2003   No Comments

A's and Giants Head Interleague Rivalries

There are many reasons not to like interleague play. For one, it is grossly unfair. League standings are skewed because teams don’t play the same number of games against their opponents, but are judged on the number of games won at the end of the season.

The one saving grace of the concept is the rivalry matchups which do bring more enthusiasm to the game.

I like the Mets and Yankees playing one another, the Giants and A’s also.

These games matter in the standings and have determined division races. For instance last year the Giants barely lost out to Arizona in the West, losing four of six to the A’s didn’t help the Giants in late September.

This year the six games may have more of an impact on the final standings because both teams are locked in tight races for the playoffs.

So, what to look for this weekend?

Click below and let’s see. [

June 20, 2003   No Comments

A's Grind Out Win, Giants Looking For Hits

The A’s are the type of team best described as “grinders”, that is they work very hard to win a game, not the spectacular way, but by putting themselves in a position to win numerous times during a game, and then finally executing properly, and chalking up the “W”.

Wednesday night against Texas was a good example. With Miguel Tejada, Eric Chavez, and Jermaine Dye all in a deep freeze at the plate, the A’s had to turn to some very tough at bats late in the game to pull out the victory.

They constantly worked the count in their favor, the relievers wiggled out of jams, and when the game was on the line, Scott Hatteberg came through with a bloop hit, also in a hitters count.

What preceded the hit was typical A’s baseball. Billy McMillon, terrific off the bench singled, Adam Melhuse looked horrible trying to get a bunt down, so Ken Macha let him hit away and wouldn’t you know it, double play, rally over.

Not so fast. Mark Ellis stroked a single, Eric Byrnes, who pitchers are starting to work hard on the inside part of the plate, walked. Hatteberg gets the hit, and the A’s win.

Oakland tied the game in the ninth in similar fashion with Hernandez singling, McMillon getting a key walk preceding Ellis’ sac bunt, then Hatteberg drove in the tying run with a sac fly.

No homers, no extra base hits, just a lot of heart pumping, tough at bats which resulted in a win.

That is how a “grinder” wins a game.

Click below for more. [

June 19, 2003   No Comments

I'll Take Tejada Over A Rod Any Day Of The Week

I know the numbers don’t bear me out on this one, but I’ve watched Alex Rodriguez play in Oakland over the past eight years and countless times on television, and you know what, I’ll take Miguel Tejada on my team over A Rod as my shortstop.

Rodriguez plays with little passion. A quality I don’t like to see in any player, let alone the straw that stirs the drink on a team.

Ever since Roger Clemens blew Rodriguez away in the playoffs, he has been a timid player. He took the money and moved to Texas, leaving any heart he had behind in Seattle.

The A’s routinely handled Rodriguez last night in key situations. Maybe if Texas ever gets it together, Rodriguez will become interested in his game, but until then he goes through the motions and rarely does anything to beat a good team, one in pennant contention.

I’d rather have a maximum effort guy like Nomar or Tejada in my lineup. At least they play like they care and are clutch baseball players.

Click below for more on baseball.

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June 18, 2003   No Comments