Monday, December 26, 2016

Interview: "Not Just a '69 Met" Art Shamsky

Many people, especially New Yorkers, remember the 1969 Mets. Many remember Art Shamsky from that historic team. Shamsky was a vital member of that championship and is often run for his 4 Home Runs in a row during their run. But of all the athletes I have worked with and interviewed, Shamsky was more than his story; he is a passionate lover of the sport he played. We sat down on the Upper West Side of NY for coffee to discuss his love of baseball, its rich history and its exciting future.

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1) The '69 Mets were one of baseball's historic teams. What are your memories of that run?
We were not the greatest team but we were certainly one of the most memorable. Part of it was the history leading up to that year. For six years we were the laughing stock of the league but then we turned it around. We had the great Tom Seaver who was one of the top three or four pitchers in the league and probably the greatest Met of All-Time. Our pitching made us competitive with guys like Seaver, [Tug] McGraw, Jerry Koosman and a young Nolan Ryan. You could just see Ryan's potential early on.

2) '69 was an important year and you wrote a book about it. Tell us more:
The book is called The Magnificent Season. I am actually writing a sequel. That year had a lot of significance and to have the Mets, Knicks and Jets all win was incredible. It put things into perspective. After the '68 assassinations, the Vietnam War and New York being a tough place these teams made people feel better. It was a trifecta of greatness.

3) Did you ever take the Jewish holidays off?
I took Yom Kippur off. In fact it was a double header and we were in a pennant race in 1969. It was in Pittsburgh and one was a make up game. I was very torn. Our manager, Gil Hodges, was a tough and strong guy and I respected him. I didn't know what to do. I asked Gil and he said "do what you think is best." I couldn't have asked for better advise. I was nervous that if we lost I would get hate mail. But we won both games 1-0 with out pitchers driving in the runs. When I got back to the clubhouse my teammates didn't say a word. In my locker was a sign from the guys saying "why don't you stay out for the rest of the year." It was very funny and I am just glad we won those games.


4) Did you ever battle Anti-Semitism?
I never faced much Anti-Semitism just occasionally rowdy fans. But I was in the minors in Macon Georgia. At that time there were different hotels for the black players. I wish I  would've said something back then it was just a different world, but I regret it.

5) You got to play with Pete Rose. Should he be in the Hall of Fame?
In every locker room there were signs about gambling so its tough,. He was a great guy. He never did anything wrong as a player only as a manager. In 1960 he was running hard to first base. He played the game harder than anyone, so based on playing and behavior has a player, yes. I wish people still played like him.


6) You have been involved with the Jewish National Fund. Tell me about that relationship.
I got to manage in Israel during its one season. I helped get the league off and running and managed Kibbutz Gezer. JNF is an amazing organization that has diversified interested including trees, water and Project Baseball. They are helping little league develop. I have even gone to Florida to help grow the game, raise awareness and build fields.

7) What was coaching in Israel like?
It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I got to learn about the State of Israel. I kicked of a pro league with players from all over the world. I was disappointed that it only lasted one year but it was the catalyst for the World Baseball Classic and I am happy to be a part of it. I also got an opportunity to manage which is something I took for granted when I was younger. Managing isn't about stealing and bunting it is about dealing with people even at the end of the bench. There are lots of personalities and even the guys at the end of the bench think they are the best and should be playing. And you need to keep them involved because you will need them eventually to help you win.

8) What is the biggest thing you have learned from the game of baseball?
I tell people baseball is a great way to learn about life. You will fail seven out of ten times. It is how your deal with those seven failures that make you great. Regardless of whether you are in little league or the big leagues. And you will need others to help you succeed.

9) What is next for Art Shamsky?
Well I am writing the sequel to my book. I do lots of personal appearances, broadcasting and clinics. That is why I stayed in New York. New York always offered me the opportunity to meet people. Not a day goes by without someone wanting to talk about the '69 Mets.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Interview: Tyger Pederson - The Legacy Runs Deep

A few years ago Joc Pederson took the Major Leagues by storm. But Joc isn't the only Pederson who balls. Meet Tyger, Joc's brother who has plenty of game himself. While he might not be in the Bigs, he is certainly placing his stamp on the game of baseball.


1) Tell TGR a little bit about yourself?
My name is Tyger Pederson. I grew up in Palo Alto California and have been playing sports my entire life. I attended Palo Alto high school where I participated in basketball, football and baseball. After high school I attended Redlands university in Los Angeles. I played football and baseball my freshman year. After the season I transferred to university of the pacific where I decided to focus on baseball. I earned a Bachelors of Arts in sports science form UOP while competing as a student athlete.

In 2013 I was drafted by the Los Angeles dodgers and began my professional playing career. I played 4 seasons of minor league baseball before turning in my jersey for a coaching uniform. Over my professional career I played for the Los Angeles dodgers, Rockford aviators, San Rafael Pacifics and the Vallejo Admirals. This past summer when I finished playing I started my coaching career with Major League Baseball. I coached at the Elite International Camp in Taiwan. After finishing the elite camp I decided to pursue coaching and furthering my education at Hawaii Pacific University. This year at HPU I am a graduate assistant coach. I am pursuing a masters in elementary education while coaching the baseball team. This summer I will be the head coach of the Orange County Riptide, a summer collegiate team comprised of players from all over the country. I am very excited for this opportunity to be a head coach and coach elite players from all over. Our teams home field will be at Concordia University in Orange County, California. 

2) You have started your own company; does that mean you have retired from professional baseball?
Besides coaching and playing I have a passion for developing players.  In 2013 I started a baseball training business Backyard baseball, which has recently taken the name Pederson Baseball. I train elite athletes all the way down to youth.  Over the years I have ran baseball clinics and camps for local little leagues and pony leagues. I started expanding to run clinics and camps all over California and have a vision to provide camps and clinics nation wide down the road. My goal is to provide professional coaching to teach players how to play the game the right way. I believe there is so much to learn through the game of baseball and that carries over into other aspects of life.  I like to teach life lessons through the game. How to deal with adversity, confidence building, how to prepare, mental aspects and others.

Along with clinics and camps I coach travel teams, help with local rec teams, offer private and group training and fitness training. I like to consider myself a resource for my players. I want them to be able to come to me for anything and everything they might need. I help them with the recruiting process at the collegiate level, and how to handle professional scouts. We goal plan and customize training programs specific for each players goals and needs.

3) Your family has a deep history with Baseball. What was that like in the Pederson home?
Growing up we were always around the game of baseball. My dad Stu played 13 years professionally and has coached ever since. My siblings and I have been to thousands of games. When we were younger we were always the bat boy and hanging out in the dugout while our dad coached. When we were old enough to play he always coached our teams. Every day at lunch I remember going to the batting cages to take batting practice during high school. 


4) How competitive were you and Joc growing up?
Growing up Joc and I were very competitive. We were always competing in one sport or the other. We played on lots of teams together and always pushed each other to be our best! Our dad always encouraged healthy competition and pushed us to be the best players we could be. 

5) Have you attempted to play for Team Israel like your brother? I see you are involved with the URJ Sports Camp; what has that been like?
Team Israel recruited Joc and I to play on the team. In 2013 Joc played and I was just starting my professional career so I did not participate. This season I opted for coaching so I did not participate with Team Israel. I hope to be involved at some capacity moving forward with Team Israel. I have a few good friends who really have enjoyed the experience coaching or playing for the team. I look forward to future experiences with team Israel!  I was the head coach at URJ sports camp in LA this year. It was a great experience for me to continue to learn about the Jewish culture and mentor young Jewish athletes. It was an awesome experience, and I see myself continuing to help at URJ camps down the road. 

6) Tell us about your new company and what its all about?
Pederson Baseball is about developing athletes on and off the field. My goal is to provide professional coaching and to be a positive resource for any player wanting to play the game of baseball. Whether your goal is to play in the big leagues or make your high school team, I am here to help you reach those goals. I love the interactions I have with players and knowing I can help make a positive impact on their life. I really enjoy sharing my knowledge and experiences to other players who are passionate about baseball. I think of Pederson Baseball as a tool for all players to grow in the game of baseball and in life.  I have training programs currently in the Bay Area as well as Los Angeles and will be expanding down to Orange County this summer.  

7) What's next for you?
I train players from all over and am always open to running baseball camps and clinics in new locations. Get in contact with me to schedule a clinic/camp in your city. My website is www.pedersonbaseball.com 

You can find Tyger on Instagram @Tygerpederson 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Turco Confirmation


A few years back Sports Illustrated published an article stating that Marty Turco was Jewish. Ron Kaplan of Kaplan's Korner was able to call his team who replied he was not. Still wanting a definitive answer from the source himself, I was able to get a hold of Turco he told me he was in fact not Jewish. I hope this clears up any confusion about the former Goalie. Great player and still wish he was a MOT.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Braverman Reaches NFL

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Mazel Tov to Daniel Braverman on being called up from the Chicago Bears practice squad. Hard work pays off!