BASEBALL

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Shohei Ohtani is the defending American League Most Valuable Player after hitting 46 home runs and going 9-2 on the mound last year, and by some measures is exceeding that season this year. Courtesy Los Angeles Angels

Shohei Ohtani, Angels agree on $30M contract for 2023 season

ANAHEIM (CNS)The Angels and two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani have agreed on a $30 million contract for the 2023 season, avoiding the arbitration process, the team announced.


It is the largest amount for any MLB player eligible for arbitration.


Ohtani is earning $5.5 million in 2022, the final year of a two-year deal. Unless the team signs him to a long-term deal, he will be eligible to become a free agent after next season, when his free agency is expected to
ignite a historic bidding war.


The Japanese-born pitcher and outfielder/designated hitter is the defending American League Most Valuable Player after hitting 46 home runs and going 9-2 on the mound last year, and by some measures is exceeding that season this year.


He had a 15-game hitting streak going into Saturday night's 3-2 victory against the Texas Rangers in Anaheim. He's hitting .276 this season with 34 home runs and 94 RBI.


Ohtani has been even more sensational on the mound, posting a 15-8 record and 2.35 earned-run average with 213 strikeouts in 161 innings, and flirting with a no-hitter Thursday night in the team's 4-2 victory over the
Oakland A's at Angel Stadium.


The 28-year-old phenom gave up his first hit with two outs in the eighth inninga  single from Conner Capel and was replaced in the ninth inning, settling for a two-hitter with 10 strikeouts for his 15th victory of the sea- son, two behind league leader Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros.


Despite Ohtani's remarkable accomplishments since making his MLB debut for the Angels in 2018, the team has struggled during that time, finishing with a losing record every year and failing to make the postseason. Those struggles on the field and the organization's uncertain future, with owner Artie Moreno recently announ- cing that he's exploring a sale of the team, have led most analysts to speculate that Ohtani is unlikely to sign with the Angels beyond 2023.

MAURY WILLS

Base theft phenom, MVP, 5X All-Star dead at 89

LOS ANGELESMaury Wills, whose derring do thievery on the base paths revolutionized  baseball, died on Monday night, Sept. 19. He was 89.

"I know he passed peacefully, and I am going to have a heavy heart." said Dodgers skipper skipper Dave Roberts, who wears the shortstop's No. 30 because of Wills. “Maury was very impactful to me personally, professionally. He’s going to be missed. This one is tough for me."

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Maury Wills. Courtesy Los Angeles Dodgers

Wills stole 104 bases in 1962, smashing Ty Cobb’s record of 96 set in 1915. Wills that year was named Most Valuable Player of the National League and the All-Star Game, in which he would appear in five seasons. He led the league in stolen bases in six consecutive seasons, won two Gold Gloves at shortstop and still holds the club record with 490 stolen bases, even though he retired in 1972.

Maurice Morning Wills entered the Dodgers organization at a time when eventual Hall of Famer Pee Wee Reese had a stranglehold on the shortstop position. It took 8 1/2 Minor League seasons before Wills even- tually wrested the starting shortstop job from Don Zimmer and, despite his slow start, he went on to play 14 Major League seasons, 11-plus with the Dodgers.

 

Wills posted a .281 career batting average and finished with 586 stolen bases. He played on three World Series championship clubs. He also managed parts of two seasons in Seattle.

"As a kid, my greatest wish was to play in the big leagues," Wills told MLB.com in 2004. "When I was 14, I heard about Jackie Robin- son and I wanted to play for the Dodgers. I spent 8 1/2 years in the Minors, and it appeared it would not happen. I wanted to play with Jackie Robinson and didn't get to do that, but I did play for the Dodgers."

Wills also served several stints as an instructor in the organization, but one goal was never realized. He never made it to the Hall of Fame, falling short in votes by the Baseball Writers' Association of America (peaking at 40.6 percent in 1981, with 75 percent needed for election), as well as the Veterans Committee and Golden Days Era ballot.

"Every player hopes to manage, and I got to do that," Wills said."The last and ultimate would be to make the Hall of Fame. I thought of that during my playing days and used that to keep me motivated and improve to make me better."

Wills stole 50 bases in his first full season, 1960, beginning a run of six straight seasons in which he led the NL. He was the first NL player to steal 50 bases since Pittsburgh's Max Carey (51) in 1923.

In 1961, Wills made his first All-Star Game appearance and won his first Gold Glove Award. He had the best season of his career in 1962, winning the NL MVP Award in a narrow race over Willie Mays. That season, Wills took home another Gold Glove Award while hitting .299, and his 104 stolen bases were more than any other Major League team's total.

Wills played in his first World Series in the Dodgers' win over the White Sox in 1959, and he and the Dodgers went to the World Series three more times during his tenure with Los Angeles. The Dodgers swept theYan- kees in 1963, bested the Twins in seven games in '65 and were swept by the Orioles in '66. Wills excelled in the '65 World Series, hitting .367 with three doubles, three RBIs and three stolen bases.

"He just loved the game of baseball," Roberts said. "He loved working and loved the relationship with players. We spent a lot of time together. He really kind of showed me [how] to appreciate my craft and what it is to be a big leaguer. I think a lot of where I get my excitement, my passion, my love for players -- it's from him."

After the 1966 season, Wills' final All-Star campaign, he was dealt to the Pirates in exchange for Bob Bailey and Gene Michael. Wills spent two seasons with Pittsburgh before he was selected 21st overall by the Expos in the 1968-69 expansion draft. Montreal traded him back to the Dodgers midway through the '69 season, along with Manny Mota, and he finished his career where it started, released after 3 1/2 more seasons.

 

In his 1991 autobiography, “On the Run,” Wills credited then-instructor Al Campanis with teaching him how to steal bases and Triple-A manager Bobby Bragan with encouraging him to steal and try switch-hitting. The book not only recounted Wills' career highs, but also his personal lows, including alcoholism and drug addiction. Wills credited former Dodgers executives Fred Claire and Don Newcombe with an intervention in 1988 that led to treatment and a path toward recovery.

Wills was brought back into the Dodgers organization as an instructor by then-manager Jim Tracy in 2001 and had a role in every Spring Training since, tutoring bunting at what was called "Maury's Pit." Roberts credits Wills for teaching him the techniques that resulted in Roberts' dramatic and historic stolen base in the 2004 ALCS that helped propel the Red Sox to the World Series.

"He said, 'DR, one of these days you're going to have to steal an important base when everyone in the ball- park knows you're gonna steal, but you've got to steal that base and you can't be afraid to steal that base,'"  Roberts recounted. "So, just kind of trotting out on to the field that night, I was thinking about him. So he was on one side telling me, 'This is your opportunity.' And the other side of my brain is saying, 'You're going to get thrown out; don't get thrown out.' Fortunately, Maury's voice won out in my head."

Ken Gurnick covered the Dodgers for MLB.com from 2001-2020. Juan Toribio and Chad Thornburg contribu- ted to this article.

Dodger Broadcaster Vin Scully Dies at 94

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Vin Scully. Courtesy Los Angeles Dodgers

Scully broadcast Dodgers games 67 years

By STEVEN HERBERT
City News Service


LOS ANGELES (CNS)Legendary Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully died Tuesday at the age of 94 at his home in Hidden Hills, the team announced.


"We have lost an icon," said Dodger President and CEO Stan Kasten. "Vin Scully was one of the greatest voices in all of sports.  He was a giant of a man, not only as a broadcaster, but as a humanitarian.  He loved people.
He loved life.  He loved baseball and the Dodgers. And he loved his family.


"His voice will always be heard and etched in all of our minds forever.  I know he was looking forward to joining the love of his life, Sandi. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this very difficult time.
Vin will be truly missed."


Scully broadcast Dodger games from 1950when the team was based in Brooklynthrough his retirement in 2016 at age 88. His 67-year tenure as a Dodger broadcaster is the longest for a broadcaster with a team.


Scully was born in New York City on Nov. 29, 1927. When he was 8 years old, he was assigned to write a composition on what he wanted to be when he grew up.


"Where the boys in grammar school wanted to be policemen and firemen and the girls wanted to be ballet dancers and nurses, here's this kid saying, 'I want to be a sports announcer,'" Scully once said. "I mean it was really out of the blue."


Scully attended Fordham University in the New York City borough of the Bronx, where he announced football, basketball, and baseball games on the university's radio station, WFUV, wrote a sports column for The Ram student newspaper, was a stringer for The New York Times, and was a member of the Shaving Mugs, a campus barbershop quartet.


Scully was also an outfielder on the school's baseball team, including in a 1947 game against Yale, whose first baseman was future President George Bush. Both were hitless in three at-bats in Yale's 3-1 victory.


Scully graduated from Fordham in 1949 and spent that summer working for CBS in Washington, D.C. That fall, he was asked by Red Barber, the broadcaster and sports director of the CBS Radio Network to fill in for an ill
broadcaster to call the Boston University-University of Maryland college football game, where he was relegated to an outdoor press box at Fenway Park in the freezing cold.


Scully performed his duties without complaint, which impressed Barber, who was also the Dodgers' lead announcer. Months later, when the Dodgers were looking for a third broadcaster to join Barber and Connie Desmond, Scully was hired at the age of 22.


Scully's first regular-season game with the Dodgers was on April 18, 1950, when they faced the Phillies at Philadelphia's Shibe Park.


"Don Newcombe was going to be our pitcher,'' Scully said at a 2016 news conference the day before he broad- cast his final game at Dodger Stadium.


"Red Barber assigned me to do the fourth inning. They didn't trust me more than one inning. I understand that.

"My first game, Newcombe didn't make it to the fourth inning. That's all I really remember, plus the fact I was terrified.'"


In 1953, when he was 25 years old, Scully became the youngest person to broadcast a World Series. He became the Dodgers' No. 1 broadcaster in 1954 after Barber left to become a New York Yankees' broadcaster.


Either on the team or NBC broadcasts, Scully called such memorable moments by the Dodgers (or their oppon- ents) as Kirk Gibson's pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, Sandy Koufax's perfect game in 1965, New York Yankee pitcher Don Larsen's perfect game against the Dodgers in the 1956 World Series and Hank Aaron's record-setting 715th home run.


Scully's many honors include the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually by the Baseball Hall of Fame to a broadcaster for ``major contributions to baseball'' and being named the
greatest sportscaster by the American Sportscasters Association.


A ranking system devised by author Curt Smith for his 2005 book "Voices of the Game'' determined that Scully was baseball's greatest announcer, giving him a perfect score of 100, based on such factors as longevity, lang- uage, popularity and persona.


At his farewell news conference, Scully said he would like to be remembered as "a good, honest man, a good husband, a good father, a good grandfather. I'm not even thinking about sports announcing."


Scully is survived by five children, Kevin, Todd, Erin, Kelly and Catherine, 21 grandchildren and six great-grand- children. His second wife Sandi died in 2021. His first wife Joan died in 1972.


A cause of death was not disclosed. Funeral services are pending.

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Sandy Koufax played his entire 12-season major league career with the Dodgers, the first three when they were based in his native Brooklyn. The Hall of Famer is the second player in the Dodgers organization to be honored with a statue. Courtesy LA Dodgers.

Sandy Koufax statue unveiled 

LOS ANGELES (CNS)A statue of Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax was unveiled in Dodger Sta- dium's Centerfield Plaza today, three years after it was announced and two years later than planned.
 

The Dodgers announced in 2019 that Koufax would be the second person in their "statue series," with the unveiling expected in summer 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic altered those plans.
 

The statue sits adjacent to Jackie Robinson's in the Centerfield Plaza. Robinson's was unveiled on April 15, 2017. Both sculptures were created by Branly Cadet.


"Sixty-seven years ago, Jackie Robinson became my teammate and friend. At that time, sharing this space with him would have been unimaginable,  today it still is," said Koufax, 86. "It's one of the greatest honors of my life."  

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Sandy Koufax was the National League MVP and MLB's Cy Young Award winner in 1963 and also won Cy Young awards in 1965 and 1966, his final season before retirement at age 31 because of an arthritic elbow. Courtesy LA Dodgers

Koufax also paid tribute to the late Don Drysdale, his fellow ace on the Dodgers staff in the early to mid-1960s.
 

"We were together for 11 years, we grew up together. I think we were friends but I think in some ways we were competitors because he (set a standard of) excellence that I tried to live up to, and I tied to set an excellence that he lived up to, and I think it made us both better."
 

Current Dodgers pitching star Clayton Kershaw and Hall of Famer Joe Torre, now a special assistant to base- ball's commissioner, also attended Saturday's ceremony.
 

Torre noted that he was the only person present who had to bat against Koufax. "You knew he was pitching because you could hear it," he said.
 

"In the years and generations to come, I hope a kid see this statue and asks his mom or dad about Sandy Koufax, and I hope that they tell him he was a great pitcher but more than that he was a great man who represented the Dodgers with humility, kindness, passion, class," Kershaw said.
 

"And for every rookie who sees this statue for the first time and asks, 'Was he any good?' I hope the veterans tell him simply that he was the best to ever do it," Kershaw added.
 

Koufax played his entire 12-season major league career with the Dodgers, the first three when they were based in his native Brooklyn.
 

Koufax was the National League MVP and MLB's Cy Young Award winner in 1963 and also won Cy Young awards in 1965 and 1966, his final season before retirement at age 31 because of an arthritic elbow.
 

Koufax was the first pitcher to average fewer than seven hits allowed per nine innings pitched in his career (6.79), to strike out more than nine batters (9.28) per nine innings and to pitch four no-hitters.

 

In Koufax's last 10 seasons, batters hit .203 against him with a .271 on-base percentage and a .315 slugging average.

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Los Angeles Dodgers power-hitting first baseman Gil Hodges was elected to the Hall of Fame on Dec. 5, 2022 receiving 12 votesthe minimum required for electionfrom the 16-member committee. Courtesy LA Dodgers 

Dodgers to retire Gil Hodges' No. 14 

LOS ANGELES (CNS)The Los Angeles Dodgers tonight will retire the No. 14 worn by Gil Hodges, the power-hitting first baseman on the Brooklyn Dodgers teams of the 1950s, six months after his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame.


Team policy is to limit retiring numbers to Hall of Famers. The only exception to the rule was Jim Gilliam, the longtime Dodger infielder, outfielder and coach whose No. 19 was retired on Oct. 10, 1978, before Game 1
of the World Series, two days after he died from a massive brain hemorrhage at the age of 49.


The number is the 11th in team history to be retired and first since Aug. 14, 1998 when Don Sutton's No. 20 was retired, eight months after his election to the Hall of Fame.


The ceremony coincides with the New York Mets' lone regular-season series against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Hodges concluded his playing career with the Mets in 1963 and managed them from 1968 until his death on April 2, 1972, two days before what would have been his 48th birthday.


Hodges guided the Mets to the 1969 World Series championship after they had never finished higher than ninth during their first seven seasons.


Hodges' son Gil Jr. and daughter Irene will participate in the jersey retirement ceremony.


Hodges was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Golden Days Era Committee on Dec. 5, receiving 12 votesthe minimum required for electionfrom the 16-member committee, which considers candidates whose primary contribution to the game came from 1950-69. He had failed to be elected by the Golden Era Com- mittee in 2011 and 2014.


Hodges was considered for selection by the Hall of Fame's Veterans Committee beginning in 1987, but was never elected. The closest he came to being elected in voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America was in 1983, his 15th and final ballot appearance under rules at the time, appearing on 63.4 percent of the ballots, with 75 percent being required for election.


Hodges is second in Dodger history in home runs (361) and RBI (1,254), third in total bases (3,357), extra-base hits (703) and walks (925), fourth in games played (2,006) and fifth in runs scored (1,088). He shares the team's single-game records for home runs with four and RBI with nine.


During the era there was no draft, the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Hodges as an amateur free agent on Sept. 6, 1943 and made his professional debut with them on Oct. 3, 1943, playing third base, striking out twice and walking once in three plate appearances in a 6-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on the final day of the season.


Hodges spent the next two years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He returned to the Dodgers organization for the 1946 season, playing 129 games for Newport News and leading the Class B Piedmont League catchers in putouts, assists and fielding percentage.


Hodges returned to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, wearing No. 14. The No. 4 jersey he wore in his 1943 major league debut was given to another future Hall of Famer, Duke Snider.


He made seven consecutive All-Star Game appearances from 1949-55, all seasons in which he drove in more than 100 runs, and became an eight-time All-Star in 1957. When Gold Glove awards were handed out for the first time in 1957, Hodges was a recipient, as he was each of the following two seasons.


Hodges drove in both runs in the Dodgers' 2-0 victory over the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series, their only World Series championship in Brooklyn. He hit .391 in the Dodgers six-game victory over the
Chicago White Sox in the 1959 World Series, including an eighth-inning tie-breaking homer in Game 4 that gave the Dodgers a 5-4 victory and 3-1 series lead.


Hodges played with the Dodgers through 1961 when he was chosen by the Mets in the expansion draft to stock them for their inaugural 1962 season.


Hodges began his managerial career with the Washington Senators in 1963, remaining with them through the 1967 season.

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Reid Detmers' (No. 48) no-hitter is the 12th in the Angels' 62-season history, including four by Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, and first since Taylor Cole and Felix Pena combined for one in July 2019. Screen shot

Rookie Reid Detmers no-hits Rays

ANAHEIM (CNS)Los Angeles Angels rookie left-hander Reid Detmers pitched a no-hitter in a 12-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays May 10 at Angel Stadium.


Only two Rays' batters reached base. Taylor Walls walked on a full count leading off the sixth, and first base- man Jared Walsh flubbed a grounder by Brett Phillips which was ruled an error with one out in the seventh.


Detmers completed the no-hitter by retiring Yandy Diaz on a ground out to shortstop Andrew Velazquez.


The 22-year-old Detmers threw 108 pitches, with 68 going for strikes. He struck out two before a crowd announced at 39,313. He faced one batter over the minimum, ending the sixth by getting Kevin Kiermaier to ground into a double play.


The no-hitter was the second of the lockout delayed 2022 season and the first by an individual pitcher. Five New York Mets pitchers combined on a no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies April 29.


The no-hitter is the 12th in the Angels' 62-season history, including four by Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, and first since Taylor Cole and Felix Pena combined for one in July 2019. It was the first individual no-hitter by an
Angel pitcher since Jered Weaver in May 2012.


Detmers is the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter after entering the game with a career ERA of 6.00 or higher in at least 40 innings since ERA became an official stat in both leagues in 1913, according to the sports techno-
logy company Stats Perform.


Detmers' ERA was 6.33 in 42.2 innings entering Tuesday's game. The no-hitter came in Detmers' 11th career major league start. He never pitched more than 6 innings in a major league game before Tuesday.


The Angels selected Detmers with the 10th pick in the 2020 MLB draft out of the University of Louisville. With minor league baseball not being played in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, Detmers made his
professional debut in 2021 with the Rocket City Trash Pandas, the Angels' double-A affiliate.


Detmers was promoted to the Angels' triple-A Salt Lake City affiliate after 12 starts with Rocket City and called up to the Angels last Aug. 1 after making one start for Salt Lake City.


After going 1-3 in four starts for the Angels in 2021, Detmers was placed on the injured list with no reason given. He missed 25 games while on the injured list and made one rehabilitation start with Salt Lake City. He made the Angels' final start of the 2021 season.


Detmers entered 2022 rated by Baseball America as the top prospect in the Angels organization.