Thursday, January 26, 2017

Countdown to 2017 Topps #06: C'mon, Bill!!

Though we mere mortals might refer to an umpire as 'blue', that's not the case in major league baseball, where they are referred to by their name. Flagship (or Topps Series 1, if that's what you prefer to call it) is set to hit the shelves in just six short days...

Why shouldn't I feature this card? After all, how often do you see a card of a manager with his hand cupped over his mouth? Is he yelling at one of his batters for missing a bunt sign? Perhaps he's shouting at the opposing pitcher for drilling his star hitter. The answer, of course, is neither, as it's obviously a staged photo. 

The narrative I want to believe is that it is July 18, 1965, and Mele is screaming at umpire Bill Valentine for calling Angels infielder Jim Fregosi safe on an infield single. Sam left the dugout and confronted Valentine. An argument ensued, followed by incidental contact. At some point, Sam is believed to have thrown- and landed- a punch in the area of Valentine's jaw. Though he argued that he didn't throw any punches, photos suggest otherwise. The manager ended up with a $500 fine and a 5-game suspension. Mele later said that he had tripped and stumbled into the umpire.


The funny thing is that this incident sounds more like one of the coaches on his staff. Some guy named Billy Martin.

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