Lawrence Cyril Gura (born November 26, 1947, in Joliet, Illinois) a former left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball from 1970 to 1985. He spent 16 years in the Major Leagues playing for the Chicago Cubs of the National League, and the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals, both of the American League. He was inducted into the inaugural Joliet Hall of Fame in Joliet, Illinois. He was elected to the American League All-Star team in 1980 when he had his finest season, finishing with an 18–10 record and a 2.95 ERA. Gura won in double figures for seven consecutive seasons for the Royals with 99 wins over that span. He particularly pestered his former team, the Yankees, against whom he went 11–6 in the regular season as a Royal. Gura was 3–0 against them in both 1979 and 1980, with five complete games, and another complete-game victory against them in the 1980 American League Championship Series. Gura finished with a 126–97 career record, 24 saves and an earned run average of 3.76.
Monthly Archives: December 2012
Joseph Lovitto, Jr. (January 6, 1951 – May 19, 2001) was a center fielder in Major League Baseball who played for the Texas Rangers. He was a switch-hitter and threw right-handed, standing 6 feet tall and weighing 185 pounds. Lovitto was a competent outfielder, had blazing speed and batted over .300 in his minor league career, but never fulfilled expectations at the Major League level. One of his former managers, Billy Martin, wrote in his autobiography that Lovitto could have had a great career if not for injuries. Lovitto started in center field on Opening Day of 1972 in the Texas Rangers’ inaugural season. In his rookie year he hit .224 with 19 runs batted in and 13 stolen bases in 117 games played. Then he lost almost the 1973 season with an injured leg, appearing in only 26 games. The following year he hit .223 in 113 games, but in 1975 was put on the disabled list with a variety of major injuries and appeared in just 50 games. Before the 1976 season, he was sent to the New York Mets in exchange for outfielder Gene Clines but was released during spring training. In a four-season career, Lovitto was a .216 hitter with four home runs, 53 RBI, and 22 stolen bases in 306 games. Lovitto died from cancer in Arlington, Texas, at the age of 50.
Carl John Neumann (born September 11, 1951 in Memphis, Tennessee) is an American former professional basketball player and coach. At 6’6″ and 200 pounds, he played the guard and forward positions. Neumann’s professional career started strong, with averages of 18.3 points per game and 19.6 points per game in his first two full seasons with Memphis. He was named to the ABA All-Rookie Team in 1972. Neumann fell out of favor with the team’s coach and management, who thought he was not passing the ball enough, and he was traded by the Memphis Tams to the Utah Stars in January 1974. Neumann’s first year in Utah the Stars won the ABA Western Division and defeated the San Diego Conquistadors in the Western Division Semifinals and the Indiana Pacers in the Western Division Finals to make it to the ABA Championship series, losing the 1974 ABA Finals to the New York Nets. Neumann struggled to regain his scoring average after being traded to Utah. He averaged just 10.1 points in 44 games with the Stars.
With the ABA-NBA merger in June 1976 Neumann ended up with the Buffalo Braves. From 1976 to 1978, Neumann played 83 games in the NBA as a member of the Braves, Los Angeles Lakers, and once again with the Pacers. In 1977-78 with the Pacers he averaged just 4.2 points per game. After leaving the NBA Neumann took his game to Europe, where he competed in Italy for Gabetti Cantu’ and Germany. Neumann became an assistant coach while playing in Germany. Since the early 1980s, Neumann has coached in Belgium, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, China, and Japan, as well as in the American minor-league Continental Basketball Association with the Maine Lumberjacks. Neumann also coached the Louisville Shooters of the Global Basketball Association in 1991 and 1992. While in Cyprus, he discovered Darrell Armstrong, a little-known American guard from Fayetteville State University who later found success in the NBA. On June 23, 2010, Neumann was appointed as the new coach of the Romania national team.
The Memphis Tams nickname was an acronym for Tennessee – Arkansas – Mississippi, and the logo was a tam o’shanter-style hat in white, green and gold, which were also the new team colors, shared with the Athletics and Golden Seals.
Edgar Leon Kirkpatrick (October 8, 1944 – November 15, 2010), nicknamed “Spanky”, was a baseball utility player for the Los Angeles/California Angels, Kansas City Royals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers, and Milwaukee Brewers. He helped the Pirates win the National League Eastern Division in 1974 and 1975. In 16 seasons, he played in 1,311 games and had 3,467 at-bats, 411 runs, 824 hits, 143 doubles, 18 triples, 85 home runs, 424 RBI, 34 stolen bases, 456 walks, .238 batting average, .327 on-base percentage, .363 slugging percentage, 1,258 total bases, 25 sacrifice hits, 39 sacrifice flies and 70 intentional walks. He was involved in an automobile accident in 1981 that left him in a coma for 5½ months and permanently paralyzed. He died at the age of 66 in Anaheim, California.
Former Angels outfielder Ed Kirkpatrick, who played parts of 16 major league seasons with five clubs from 1962-77, died Monday after a long struggle with throat cancer. He was 66.
César Francisco Gerónimo Zorrilla (born March 11, 1948), known as César Gerónimo, is a former outfielder in Major League Baseball, who was a member of the famed Big Red Machine of the Cincinnati Reds during the 1970s. He batted and threw left-handed. In 1967, Gerónimo was signed by the New York Yankees, who tried to make him a pitcher. Two years later he made his major league debut with the Houston Astros. After the 1971 season, he went to the Cincinnati Reds in an eight-player deal. Among them, Joe Morgan. A winner of four consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 1974 to 1977, Gerónimo was the outstanding defensive center fielder of five divisional championship series and the 1975-76 World Series Champion Cincinnati Reds. In the former Series, he caught Carl Yastrzemski’s fly ball for the final out. He played the last three seasons of his career with the Kansas City Royals.
In his fifteen seasons, Gerónimo batted .258, with 51 home runs and 392 RBI, 460 runs scored, 977 hits, 161 doubles, 50 triples and 82 stolen bases. He was also the 3,000th strikeout victim of both Bob Gibson and Nolan Ryan. “I was just in the right place at the right time,” he joked.
After retiring he worked for the Japanese Hiroshima Carp, as a coach in their Dominican baseball academy. He currently resides with his family in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. In July 2008 he was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.
Bruce Eugene Kison (born February 18, 1950 in Pasco, Washington) a former Major League Baseball pitcher. He pitched from 1971-1985 for three different teams, the Pittsburgh Pirates, California Angels and Boston Red Sox. He batted and threw right-handed. During a 15-year career, Kison compiled 115 wins, 1,073 strikeouts, and a 3.66 ERA.
Kison was 30-9 in the minors. He was called up in the middle of the 1971 season and was the winning pitcher when Pittsburgh beat San Francisco to make it into the World Series. He later became the winning pitcher in the first night game ever played in the classic.
After tearing his rotator cuff during winter ball, he spent 14 more years in the majors and changed his throwing motion. Kison was also a pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals and the Baltimore Orioles. A highly respected talent evaluator, Kison has spent the past decade as a Major League Scout for the Orioles.
Kison also gave up the 2,500th hit to Pete Rose on August 17, 1975.
Robert Tolan (born November 19, 1945) is a former center and right fielder in Major League Baseball. Tolan, who batted and threw left-handed, played for the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres, Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates. He also played one season in Japan for the Nankai Hawks. Tolan was a reserve outfielder during his years with the Cardinals, where he won a World Series title in 1967. He also played on the 1968 National League champions, losing to the Detroit Tigers in the World Series in seven games, after leading three games to one. The day after the final game of this Series Tolan was traded to the Cincinnati Reds along with reliever Wayne Granger for veteran outfielder Vada Pinson. As their centerfielder, often batting second behind Pete Rose and in front of Alex Johnson in the Reds lineup, Tolan in 1969 hit .305 and established career highs in home runs and runs batted in. In the first year both leagues were split into two divisions, the Reds finished third in the National League West, four games behind the division-winning Atlanta Braves. The “Big Red Machine”, which also featured future Hall of Famers Johnny Bench and Tony Pérez, was just beginning to take shape.
In 1970, Tolan batted a career high .316 with 16 home runs and 80 RBIs, and led the National League in stolen bases with 57 for a Reds team that won the National League West title for their first postseason berth since the 1961 World Series. The Reds swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NLCS in three games. In the second game, Tolan scored all three runs in a 3-1 victory, including hitting a fifth-inning home run off starter Luke Walker. However, the Baltimore Orioles defeated the Reds in the World Series in five games. Tolan went 4-for-19 in the Series, including a home run off Mike Cuellar in Game Two.
Tolan played professionally in Japan in 1978. He was also a coach for the Padres from 1980-1983. During the strike of 1981, Tolan was dispatched to Walla Walla, Washington, where he was Tony Gwynn’s first hitting coach. Tolan’s cousin, Eddie Tolan, was a sprinter who won two Gold Medals in the 1932 Summer Olympics.
Joe Louis Caldwell (born November 1, 1941 in Texas City, Texas) a retired American professional basketball player. He spent 6 seasons in the NBA and 5 seasons in the ABA, and he was one of the few players to be an All-Star in both leagues. He was also a member of the United States Olympic basketball team that won the gold at the 1964 Summer Olympics. Nicknamed “Pogo Joe” or “Jumping Joe” for his leaping abilities, Caldwell was a 6’5″ guard and forward from Arizona State University. Drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1964, he spent the majority of his NBA career with the St. Louis/Atlanta Hawks franchise. After averaging 21.1 points per game during the 1969-70 NBA season, Caldwell jumped to the rival ABA, playing for the Carolina Cougars from 1970 to 1974. Caldwell was also a great defender, and basketball legend Julius Erving said that Caldwell guarded him better than any player in the ABA. During the 1974-75 season, St. Louis management blamed Caldwell for influencing team star Marvin Barnes to briefly leave the team. Caldwell denied doing this but he was suspended for “activities detrimental to the best interests of professional basketball.” Caldwell never played another pro basketball game and has filed various lawsuits because he believes that he was wrongly blacklisted by the ABA and later the NBA. He scored 12,619 combined NBA/ABA career points. On November 20, 2010, ASU retired his collegiate number 32 before a game against the UAB Blazers.
Alan James Fitzmorris (born March 21, 1946 in Buffalo, New York), a former professional baseball player who pitched in the Major Leagues from 1969 to 1978. Al signed as a non-drafted free agent with the Chicago White Sox in 1966. In October 1968, he left the White Sox as the 40th overall pick by the Kansas City Royals. He stayed with the Royals until 1976. In November, the Toronto Blue Jays picked him up as the 13th pick overall. He was traded by the Jays to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Alan Ashby and Doug Howard. The Indians released him in 1978, and within a month he was signed by the California Angels. Granted free agency in November of that year, he signed on with the San Diego Padres in February 1979. Fitzmorris won a career high 16 games for the Royals in 1975.