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Throwback Walt Dropo Jersey

Three words best describe how to evaluate Michael Chavis’ astounding introduction to Major League Baseball, or is it Major League Baseball’s astounding introduction to Chavis?

In any case, keep this phrase in mind — Small Sample Size.

This not to say Chavis is the next Ted Cox or Sam Horn, though. Through Friday, Chavis had played 30 games for the Red Sox and was hitting .270 with 10 homers and 26 RBIs. Many players who had debuts as memorable as his went on to become terrific players. In fact, a 30-game sample is a pretty good barometer of future success.

For sheer impact, one has to go back to 1966 and George Scott to make a strong comparison. Through his first 30 games in a Boston uniform, Scott was batting .319 with 11 homers and 27 RBIs, a Triple Crown contender, and that was for a grotesquely bad team.

The 1966 Sox finished a half-game out of last place in a 10-team league and through 30 games were 9-21 even, with Scott overmatching American League pitching.

Scott was the AL All-Star first baseman that year, but finished the season batting .245. His career had ups and downs, but it was a very good one in general. He finished with 271 home runs and 1,051 RBIs, most of them with the Red Sox and Brewers, and received MVP votes in seven seasons.

Before that, Walt Dropo was AL Rookie of the Year in 1950 by hitting .322 with 34 homers and 144 RBIs. Dropo had a brief call-up the year before and was unimpressive, but in the first 30 games of his first full season, he hit .358 with 10 homers and 36 RBIs. Dropo never came close to duplicating his rookie season but had a solid career, playing 13 years in the majors for five teams.

Then there’s Horn.

A midseason call-up in the lost season of 1987, Horn was .269-9-21 in his first 30 games. He wound up playing parts of eight seasons in the majors with one decent one, 1991 with the Orioles.
Cox was 6 for 6 to start his career as a September call-up in 1977. He only played in 13 games for Boston before being traded to Cleveland and owned a .245 lifetime average.

Other noteworthy 30-game debuts:

Ted Williams was .286-6-32 as a 20-year-old in 1939, playing right field. Williams was a quick learner and finished the year at .327-31-145. Carl Yastrzemski was a slow starter and didn’t turn into a Hall of Fame player until 1967, his seventh season in Boston. He was .245-3-17 after 30 games in 1961.

Tony Conigliaro hit the first pitch he saw at Fenway Park over the Green Monster and was .284-5-11 after 30 games. He might have been better than Yastrzemski had he not been beaned in 1967. Carlton Fisk was Rookie of the Year in 1972, but had a pair of look-see visits to the majors in 1969 and ’71. In ’72, Fisk was .248-4-14 through his first 30 games.

Jim Rice and Fred Lynn, the Gold Dust Twins of 1975, are both complicated cases. Both came up late in 1974, Rice playing 24 games and Lynn 15. Rice was pretty good, hitting .269 with a homer and 13 RBIs. Lynn was sensational, batting .419 with two homers and 10 RBIs. Add to that their early-season totals in 1975, Rice was .269-3-18 in his first 30 games, Lynn .380-5-23.

Lynn was Rookie of the Year and MVP, Rice was neither. Rice is in the Hall of Fame, Lynn is not.

Wade Boggs got off to an excellent start in 1982, batting .366 with a homer and eight RBIs in his first 30 games. Power was not what Boggs sought, average was, and he was consistent with it. That .366 Boggs hit in his first 30 games? He hit the same .366 in 155 games in 1988.
Nomar Garciaparra played 24 games at the end of 1996 and was .241-4-16. Tack on the first six games of 1997, when he was Rookie of the Year, Garciaparra was .259-5-21 in his first 30 games.

At all levels, Dustin Pedroia was a notoriously slow starter, and it was the same with his major league career. He actually played in 31 games after being called up late in 2006 and hit just .191. It wasn’t all that much better if you discount that, though, and go with his first 30 games in 2007, when he was Rookie of the Year.

Pedroia’s line at that point was .259-1-7.

Of this year’s players, Andrew Benintendi, Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts all had solid but unspectacular starts to their careers. Rafael Devers was an impact player in 2017, going .284-8-18, but all eight homers came in the first 20 games, and he hit two in his next 38.

A great start has never been a guarantee of long-term success for a Red Sox rookie, and it may not be for Chavis, but his start has been particularly spectacular, and that is a pretty good indication the Sox have a very promising player on their hands.

Throwback Bulbs Ehlers Jersey

Edwin S. “Bulbs” Ehlers (March 10, 1923 – June 17, 2013) was an American professional basketball player. Standing 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) and weighing 198 pounds (90 kg), he played the forward and guard positions. Ehlers was drafted third overall in the inaugural 1947 BAA draft by the Boston Celtics. In two seasons in the league, both with the Celtics, Ehlers averaged 8.1 points per game.

Prior to professional basketball, Ehlers had grown up in South Bend, Indiana and attended South Bend Central High School. While there, he played basketball for future Hall of Fame player and coach John Wooden. Ehlers then played basketball, football, and baseball at Purdue University.

Aside from being the Celtics’ first ever draft pick, the National Football League’s Chicago Bears selected him in the 31st round (293rd overall) in the 1947 NFL Draft. The New York Yankees of Major League Baseball also drafted him. He spent five seasons playing minor league baseball: three seasons with the Yankees and two with the Chicago Cubs. He spent the majority of his career at the AAA level, playing for such teams as the Kansas City Blues, Newark Bears and the Springfield Cubs.

Bulbs Ehlers was the father of NFL player Tom Ehlers; his granddaughters, Emily and Jessica, played intercollegiate volleyball at Purdue University and Campbell University respectively. His grandson, Scott Dreisbach, played football at the University of Michigan and spent several seasons in the NFL and the AFL.

He is unique in being a member of both the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and the Indiana Football Hall of Fame; he was inducted into the basketball hall in 1980,[1] and the football hall in 1985.[2]

Throwback Glen Selbo Jersey

CLEVELAND—Claiming that it has been a constant source of motivation throughout his career, Golden State Warriors power forward Draymond Green revealed to reporters Thursday that he is able to recite, completely from memory, the names of every single player drafted ahead of him in NBA history. “First was Clifton McNeely to the Pittsburgh Ironmen in 1947, then the [Toronto] Huskies took Glen Selbo, and third was Boston, who took Bulbs Ehlers,” said Green, taking the next several hours to list all 2,786 players who were selected, in order, during the six decades before he was chosen by the Warriors with the 35th overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft. “I haven’t forgotten that Dion Waiters, Tayshaun Prince, Stephon Marbury, Dan Majerle, Keith Van Horn, Rafer Alston, Grant Hill, Dominique Wilkins, John Havlicek, [1973 fifth-round pick] Dennis Bell, and Yao Ming were chosen before me, and I never will. It’s something I think about all the time, because I want to prove that I’m just as good as any of those guys.” Green went on to say that he does feel vindicated by the fact that he has an NBA championship ring, unlike Bill McGill, who was selected prior to him by the Chicago Zephyrs with the first overall pick in 1962.

Throwback Clifton McNeely Jersey

SLIDELL, Texas — One of the best Class A boys basketball teams in the state no longer plays in the “rock gym” a half hour northwest of Denton, which is a shame, because it’s a barn straight out of Hoosiers. Eight rows of bleachers lacquered like Elvis’ pompadour. Elegant arched roof with wood beams. Burnished oak floor swanky enough for the Savoy. “Gym Rules” sign, the first and third lines of which read, “Clean gym shoes only” and “No smoking — dipping”. And, of course, stone walls on all sides. Only thing missing is Gene Hackman in a sweater vest.

A Works Progress Administration legacy, the rock gym opened in 1940, two years before Slidell won the Class B state title, then repeated in ’43. The Greyhounds also made the state semis in ’49, ’52 and ’55. The girls took state in ’63. Slidell won so big in basketball, no one cared that they never practiced the state religion. They were basketball heretics.

Then suddenly Slidell didn’t win big anymore. The Greyhounds were always good, but never good enough. One decade after another passed without a trip to the state tournament. Turns out the old rock gym wasn’t the only echo of Hoosiers. They could have filled out the cast in Slidell, too.

Consider Freddie Fortenberry, whose family members, like the Pruetts, wind through Slidell’s hoops history like wisteria. He promised to burn his hat on the front steps of the rock gym the day they finally went back to the state tournament.

Freddie didn’t live long enough to see it, but 64 years since the Slidell boys’ last trip, the bus pulled out Wednesday morning for San Antonio. All 281 students, K-12, lined up waving orange-and-blue streamers to see the Greyhounds off to play Oakwood on Thursday at the Alamodome. The Greenwood/Slidell Volunteer Fire Department even provided a seven-piece escort to the county line.

The end of a six-decade drought isn’t just historic, it’s personal. The faces here may change, but the names don’t. One of Slidell’s old timers approached Slayton Pruett after last week’s regional win over top-ranked Lipan and told the 6-6 junior they’d been waiting a long time for this.
The Slidell boys, reminded of their history every day, have another way of putting it.

“We’re trying to get as far as the people on the wall,” Pruett said.
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The banners decorating Slidell’s bigger and brighter gym, built this century, don’t cover all the significant history. Joe Fortenberry had long left his hometown by the time he captained the U.S. basketball team that won a gold medal in the ’36 Olympics. Joe, who went 6-8, also is credited as the first to dunk in an organized game. Another Slidell slice of basketball lore: Clifton McNeely, first man ever drafted by the NBA. Also the first to say no, thanks. McNeely opted instead to coach at Pampa, where he won four state titles, one more than his son, Phil, managed at Duncanville.

Pretty impressive footnotes for an unincorporated farm-and-ranch town that has never numbered more than 300 citizens. Despite a district that covers parts of four counties and 118 square miles, they count more cows than kids. The high school has 65 students, about middle of the pack for their district.

A few of their closest competitors play six-man football, but there’s never been much of a push for it here, locals say.
“Basketball,” Slayton Pruett said, “is more of our culture and community.”

A Pruett, in fact, is more or less expected to play basketball for Slidell. Edwin Pruett was on the ’42 and ’43 state title teams. According to Irene Pruett Wilson, Slayton is Edwin’s fifth or sixth cousin, give or take. Slayton’s sister, Caitlin, played on powerhouse teams at Slidell. Tyler Pruett, a freshman basketball player on this year’s squad, is a distant cousin of both.

Consider this family tree: Tyler’s father, Lenzie, played basketball at Slidell, as did his father, Rene, and his father, Harold Ray. And it’s not just Pruetts. Most players on the floor weren’t the first of their family, and they won’t be the last.

“That keeps the story alive,” Casey Pierce said.
Pierce is in only his second year as head coach at Slidell and sixth overall. His résumé includes stops from Class A to 4A. But he played basketball in the late ’90s at nearby Krum, meaning he understands the hold the sport has on a tight community. Slidell is also good in track and cross country. Good at just about everything, said Tim Fletcher, president of the school board. There’s just not a lot else to do in Slidell. There’s not even a Dairy Queen, the town hall of Texas.

Anyone wanting to talk basketball is left to do so at the First Baptist Church across the parking lot from the high school or at Greenwood Grocery over a burger and a slice of pie. Unless it’s Saturday night, and then it’s fried catfish.

“They’ll sit around and say, ‘Well, they should have done this,’ or ‘Why did they do that?’” Fletcher said. “Plenty of politics and basketball. It’s kinda like Hoosiers. They want to consider themselves experts.”

Fletcher, born and raised in Slidell, played basketball here. His father, also born and raised here, did not.

“But he could sure yell at games like he did,” Fletcher said, smiling.

All four of Fletcher’s children — two boys, two girls — played basketball at Slidell. One of his 13 grandchildren, Zak, is a freshman on the team this year.

The generations pack the house at most games, drawing nearly as much as the local population. Of their 300 allotted tickets for the state tournament, only 70 were left as of late Tuesday afternoon.

The team’s 2019 UIL Regional Championship trophy sit on his desk as Slidell High School head coach Casey Pierce’s makes a phone call in his office after practice at the school on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, in Slidell, Texas. Slidell High School, northwest of Denton, is trying to win its first state boys basketball title since 1943. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News)
Smiley N. Pool/Staff Photographer

The team’s 2019 UIL Regional Championship trophy sit on his desk as Slidell High School head coach Casey Pierce’s makes a phone call in his office after practice at the school on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, in Slidell, Texas. Slidell High School, northwest of Denton, is trying to win its first state boys basketball title since 1943. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News)

Betty Opal Pruett won’t make the trip to San Antonio. Until just last year, her daughter, Irene Wilson, would pick her up at the nursing home and wheel her into games. Her obituary last month noted that she loved watching her great grandchildren play basketball.

Betty Opal died on a Monday after breaking her leg in a fall. They buried her on a Sunday, so as not to conflict with the playoffs.

“Some people didn’t like that,” Irene said, “but it’s the way she would have wanted it.

“She bled orange and blue.”

Only God and family trump basketball in Slidell. Betty Opal’s granddaughter, Rhonda Wilson Weathers, lives in a house built in 1894. She represents the sixth generation of Pruett to occupy the premises. Rhonda was a state champion shot putter at Slidell. Also a pretty fair basketball player. She heads up the local chapter of Players in Progress, an organization that promotes basketball skills for kids from kindergarten through sixth grade.

PHOTOS: Class A Slidell Greyhounds head for the school’s first boys UIL state basketball tournament appearance since 1955

That Slidell’s kids keep coming back tells you a little about the town’s hold.

“We’re just embedded here,” Irene said. “It’s a good place to live.”

Also a good place to play basketball, as this season once again attests. No matter what happens this week, the Greyhounds (31-8) have earned their banner on the wall.

“It’s a big deal,” Fletcher said. “These kids won’t think about it now, but they’ll never forget it.”

Hard not to remember at Slidell, with the banners and the rock gym next door and the cemetery on the front lawn. Life and death and basketball intertwined. The setting no doubt has an effect on the local psyche. The janitor tells Taylor Williams, Slidell’s principal, that he occasionally hears basketballs bouncing in the old place when no one’s around.

Fortunately, they celebrate their ghosts here. Freddie Fortenberry’s been dead more than 30 years, but on Sunday, a bitterly cold, gray day, they gathered on the steps of the old rock gym to burn his hat. Promise kept.