Leading up to the event on November23, we'll have feature stories on the guests you'll be able to meet at this year's Granite State Baseball Dinner presented by Northeast Delta Dental. This week, we'll learn more about Darrell Evans, Alex Cobb, and Ron Blomberg.
Darrell Evans spent 21 seasons in the major leagues, splitting most of his time between third and first base. He played for three teams over the years - Atlanta, San Francisco, & Detroit - with the majority of the time spent in a Braves uniform.
Over the course of his career, Evans belted 414 home runs, good for 49th all-time in the game. He surpassed 40 home runs twice, the first when he smacked 41 bombs for the 1973 Braves. He did it again, impressively, when he led the American League with 40 home runs as a 38-year-old with the Tigers in 1985.
Home runs were only a part of his game, however. He surpassed 100 walks on five different occasions, leading the National League in 1973 and 1974. He also struck out more than 100 times in just three seasons, and finished his career with fewer strikeouts than walks.
He was no slouch defensively, either, with a .973 career fielding percentage. Most of his defensive chances came at the hot corner, which probably contributed to the lack of press for such a long, successful career. After all, it was tough to be noticed as a third baseman in that generation when the standard bearer at the position was Hall-of-Famer Mike Schmidt. But baseball author, sabermetrician, and historian Bill James has not been entirely smitten by Schmidt, calling Evans 'the most underrated player in baseball history, absolutely number one on the list" in his book, The New Historical Baseball Abstract.
Alex Cobb is a returning guest to the baseball dinner, and will do so this fall coming off another strong, albeit scary season. The right-hander, through September 13, was 8-3 with a career-best 3.08 ERA for the Tampa Bay Rays. However, the story of his 2013 season will be the initial shock and then subsequent recovery after being drilled with a line drive off the head pitching in a game on June 15.
Leading 3-2 on June 15, Cobb was facing the Royals' Eric Hosmer to lead off the top of the fifth inning. Hosmer belted a 2-1 pitched back through the middle, deflecting off Cobb's head and rolling back towards home plate. The Rays were able to complete the putout and eventually won the game 5-3, but the focus was on Cobb. He was rushed to the hospital, tests came back normal, and Cobb eventually began his comeback with nothing more than a concussion and a scare.
He returned to the mound on August 15 and has gone 2-1 over the six starts since his return. In three seasons, a combined 51 starts, he was won a total of 22 games, showcasing yet another good arm drafted by the Rays.
Cobb is originally from New England having been born in Massachusetts, but his family moved to Florida a few years after he was born. Tampa Bay took him in the fourth round of the 2006 draft from Vero Beach High School. Growing up in Florida, Cobb served as a bat boy at Dodgers spring training games when they trained in Vero Beach.
Ron Blomberg is a southerner who made a lot of friends in Yankee country - literally and figuratively. In 1967, the Yankees made him the No. 1 overall pick in the draft out of Druid Hills High School near Atlanta, bringing him to the northeast to begin his baseball career. He would debut in Yankees pinstripes just two years later before becoming a regular in the Bronx starting in 1971.
Over an eight year career, seven of them with the Bronx Bombers, Blomberg was a career .293 hitter playing right field and first base. But it was his first at-bat on April 6, 1973 that thrust Blomberg into the record books.
On that day at Fenway Park, facing the great Luis Tiant and the Red Sox, Bloomberg was batting sixth in the Yankees line-up. In the top of the first, the Yankees loaded the bases with two outs to bring up 'The Great Jewish Hope'. Blomberg drew a walk to pick up an RBI in the first-ever at-bat for a designated hitter in Major League Baseball.
The interesting trivia note in Blomberg's trip to the record books is that Orlando Cepeda had a greater chance of becoming the game's first DH had the Yankees not loaded the bases. Cepeda was hitting fifth for the Red Sox that day, giving him a greater chance of picking up a first-inning at-bat.
Blomberg ended his career after playing the 1978 season with the Chicago White Sox, but he will always be remembered as one of the most popular Yankees of his generation. In fact, he was once voted the most popular athlete in New York beating out 'Broadway' Joe Namath.
In 2006, he wrote an autobiography called Designated Hebrew: The Ron Blomberg Story. Since his retirement he has run summer baseball camps, managed in the Israeli Baseball League, toured the speaking circuit, and worked for numerous charitable organizations. He has also been very active supporting causes in the Jewish community, something that is very important to his heritage.