Ken Brett (Red Sox-Angels Game 3 Chat)

October 7, 2007

“When life looks like easy street there is danger at your door.” -Grateful Dead, “Uncle John’s Band

A little over a year after his legendary career as a California high school athlete concluded, Ken Brett became the youngest pitcher ever to appear in a World Series, posting 1.1 scoreless innings for the Boston Red Sox in the 1967 fall classic against the St. Louis Cardinals. The 1966 number 1 draft pick of the Red Sox could throw hard, run fast, and hit as well or better than many major league position players, plus by all accounts he was unflappable, oblivious to the pressure of the big moment. My guess is that in 1967 the future seemed very bright for the 19-year-old Ken Brett.

As it turned out his Hall of Fame destiny fell to his less ballyhooed younger brother, George, a 1971 second-round draft pick of the Royals. As George played his entire career for one team, Ken roamed from city to city, leaving the Red Sox after four partial seasons to play with the Brewers for one season, the Phillies for one season, the Pirates for two seasons, the Yankees for two games, the White Sox for most of one season and part of a second, the Angels for a season and a half, the Twins for nine games, the Dodgers for thirty games, and finally two seasons as a seldom-used reliever on his younger brother’s squad in Kansas City. This morning I balanced the shock of learning that Ken Brett is dead (he passed away of brain cancer in 2003) with the image of him in his first appearance as a teammate of his brother, who recalls in a 2003 Spokesman Review article by John Blanchette that Ken, to entertain George and their good friend, Royals catcher Jamie Quirk, sprinted in from the bullpen like a kid making believe he was an airplane, slaloming through the outfield with his arms straight out at his sides.

This makes me happy, as it seems to suggest that Ken Brett was not bitter that the golden path he seemed born to walk down turned into a series of potholed roads, the purposeless route of a journeyman. If we’re lucky, if we’re loved, we get the idea as children that life will be a golden path. But maybe if we’re even luckier we’re able to keep laughing when the path gets complicated.

So far in the 2007 playoffs the path has been golden for the first of Ken Brett’s ten teams, and it’s tempting to think that it will continue to be so as the series resumes this afternoon in California (TBS, 12:07 PT). But you never really know what’s going to happen. The best you can do is follow the lead of Ken Brett. Whether it was a World Series game in 1967 that seemed to foretell a long career of glory or a late season mopup appearance in a 1980 blowout loss that signalled the end of a career of nondescript drifting, Ken Brett enjoyed the moment.

The lineups for today, courtesy of the box score on Yahoo.com:

Red Sox
Pedroia, 2b
Youkilis, 1b
Ortiz, dh
Ramirez, rf
Lowell, 3b
Drew, rf
Varitek, c
Crisp, cf
Lugo, ss

Schilling, p

Figgins, cf
Cabrera, ss
Guerrero, rf
Anderson, lf
Morales, 1b
Izturis, 3b
Kendrick, 2b
Rivera, dh
Napoli, c

Weaver, p


  1. 1.  the series resumes this afternoon in California (TBS, 1:07 PT).

    Of course, if you tune in then, the game will already have a few innings played. First pitch out here on the Left Coast is scheduled for 12:07 pm.

  2. 2.  Thanks for catching that, Bob. I fixed it.

  3. 3.  Stuff on my mind about the game, in no particular order:

    1. I love Manny Ramirez. The man may be the greatest all-around entertainer the Red Sox have ever had. His quotes from an extremely rare post-game interview Friday have been widely reported, especially the one where he implies that he is “a bad man.” I also enjoyed another Manny-related quote that came out in today’s Globe, from Mike Lowell:

    “He actually told me in the ninth before everything happened, ‘I’m going to end this,’ ” said third baseman Mike Lowell. “I said to him, ‘Listen, if there’s a guy on second they’re going to walk Ortiz. “He said, ‘Tranquilo’ [no problem].”

    2. Tranquilo is my new motto in life.

    3. I think Pedroia will play today, but if his gimpy shoulder keeps him out I’m looking for Alex Cora to come through. In his rare appearances this year he’s had a knack for getting in the middle of things in a positive way.

    4. Is the younger Weaver brother capable of unraveling like his older brother? I hope so, but I kind of have the feeling today the Red Sox might not get a lot of runs. Which means…

    5. Schilling’s got to turn in a beauty. Which means…

    6. Schilling’s got to get some help from the gods. In the days of Odysseus, different gods messed with the mortals in different and always highly interesting ways, and on Friday the gnats in Cleveland and 17-year-old foul-ball catcher Danny Vinik in Boston had me thinking of a couple gods getting involved to keep themselves amused (the god of bugs and the god of fans catching baseballs, the latter no stranger to the playoffs in the last decade).

  4. 4.  I spent the day golfing with Ken Brett(and some other retired MLBers) at an Air Force Base in Japan back in 1996.

    Ken definitely had a zest for life and in the brief time that I got to spend with him, he certainly didn’t seem like someone who felt he got the short end of the brother stick.

  5. 5.  What a beautiful outfield. I miss it so. Sigh.

    I’ve seen Jered Weaver pitch twice in person. One time he was dominant, and the other time he struggled. He’s had some physical problems this year, which has hurt his velocity and effectiveness.

  6. 6.  Jered Weaver has been known to get frustrated if the umpire squeezes him on the strike zone. He’s not too much different from his brother in personality. But he is taller.

  7. 7.  4 Thanks for that observation, JoeBuddah. Good to hear.

    5 , 6 : I wonder who’s umping balls and strikes today. (Where can you get info like that?) Maybe today’s plate ump is a “squeezer.”

    Also: I updated the post with lineups for today. Looks like the three injury questions, Anderson, Vlad the Impaler, and Pedroia, are in, but Kotchman is out for the Angels, not sure why. Juan Rivera makes his first start in the series at DH and Morales takes over at first. Morales has a slightly higher OPS versus righties than Kotchman (.888 to .852) but I thought Kotchman was supposed to be really slick with the glove.

  8. 8.  3 – Tranquilo is a pretty good motto in life.

    I’ve grown up in Orange County, and until today, I’ve never seen the pictures of Angel Stadium as it was originally configured. It does look cool, definitely better than the doughnut of the 80s and still a bit better than the current configuration.

  9. 9.  7 – according to game day, Brian Runge is behind home plate. I’ve never heard of him, which is usually a good sign for umps and refs

  10. 10.  8 That’s not Angel Stadium; that’s the Oakland Coliseum.

  11. 11.  10 – ah, I should clarify, I started looking for pictures of the old Angel Stadium, when the Big A was in left field, it was pretty cool. But it looks like cool stadiums use to be fairly common in the AL West

  12. 12.  9 : Thanks for tracking that down. I’ve heard of Runge but don’t know his M.O.

    10 : CMcFood has been tracking all the many Oakland Coliseum shots in these cards (I think I’ve mentioned which old profiles he’s made O.C. observations about in previous comments; suffice it to say that that stadium seems to be the most popular Topps backdrop of the 1970s.)

  13. 13.  11
    The Big A used to not have any seats in the outfield. There was just the Big A in left and then blackness. But during the day or in twilight, the background was really tough (I think it was the parking lot and some hills) and when Ryan was pitching, the hitters should have just given up.

  14. 14.  13 – my understanding was the hitters did give up a couple of times when Ryan was pitching

  15. 15.  Looks like the good Jarred Weaver so far. Always good to see a former Dirtbag do well

  16. 16.  a split finger in the dirt on the outside part of the plate and Vlad still manages to pull a soft line drive. This guys is flat out scary

  17. 17.  They’re making good contact against the old man so far. He’s gonna have to gut it out.

  18. 18.  15 – That’s not a very nice thing to say about somebody.


  19. 19.  Let’s go Sox! Beat Moreno and the OC Angels!

  20. 20.  19 : Yeah, let’s plate a couple here…

  21. 21.  BTW, beautiful job on Ken Brett, JW. A tip o’ the proverbial cap.

  22. 22.  The CBS Game Center strike zone shows the second pitch to Crisp in the (upper) strike zone, but it was called a Ball.
    Squeeze away, Blue!

  23. 23.  21 Amen. Josh, you are incomparable.

  24. 24.  Aarrgghh

  25. 25.  21 , 23 : Thanks!

    22 : Runge giveth, then taketh away with the wild-pitch block!

  26. 26.  Nice piece of pitching by the kid, though.

  27. 27.  Rally rackets? I was cheering on the OC to make at least one of these series interesting, but now thanks to the rally rackets I have to resort to rooting for the Yanks. Thanks Angels.

  28. 28.  Reggie Miller has a 1995-style Angels cap. That’s not good karma.

  29. 29.  Reggie Miller is not good karma in general.

  30. 30.  Schilling’s throwing strikes but I get the feeling his pitching are looking pretty fat so far. Might have to get the pen involved early.

  31. 31.  Obviously, a sweep is nice anyway, but if the bullpens get involved early, the issue is much more pressing. Sure, the schedule is liesurely, but after yesterday’s short start from Dice, this bullpen could be in tatters by the ALCS if that keeps happening.

  32. 32.  31 : Yesterday was actually a travel day, so even the guys who got in the game on Friday should be rested. But yeah, I guess there’s no need to manage like there’s no tomorrow just yet.

  33. 33.  29 Given Reggie’s numerous championships, (ahem) I think you’re right. Guy hit some big shots in his day, though, and had ice water in his veins.Took punishment like Iverson and kept coming back for more.

  34. 34.  Are there any Angels players left? Kotchman is out. Anderson is out.

  35. 35.  I wouldn’t throw a pitch within 8 miles of home plate now with Guerrero up.

  36. 36.  I’m very hard-pressed to remember any baseball game in Southern California where wind has played a factor. It’s very strange to see balls getting blown back away from the fence.

    Most of the weather stations in Orange County aren’t reporting strong winds.

    There are high wind warnings for LA and Ventura Counties, but not for Orange.

  37. 37.  What was it that Mathis did so well while Napoli was hurt that Napoli plays so rarely these days?

  38. 38.  37 : Mathis is good at catching foul pop-ups. He’s no Danny Vinik, of course, but who is?

  39. 39.  Figgins came off the bag if Lowell had stuck to him.

  40. 40.  Mathis stays in the lineup because he’s the healthiest.

    Napoli was 5 for 25 since he came off the DL also.

  41. 41.  No runs scored, but that inning did not make me particularly happy.

  42. 42.  39 I think he did keep the tag on him, but no matter.

    Complaining about umps is something that fans of lesser teams do. 🙂

  43. 43.  All these commercials for Captain Morgan, make me want to order pizza.

    What are they really about?

  44. 44.  So, David Ortiz. Y’all think he’s any good?

  45. 45.  ” I like it when you call me Big Papi…”

  46. 46.  Manny Ramirez is also good at baseball.

  47. 47.  Papi and the Bad Man.

    Manny posed a little on that one, too.

  48. 48.  Jered Weaver will likely put his next pitch against Manny Ramirez (if he gets to throw one), he will put it in Manny’s ear.

    But that may be a moot point.

  49. 49.  44 That Ortiz guy, he might do alright in ‘the Bigs’.

  50. 50.  I believe the ManRam may have an almost ALMOST direct pipe-line to a Higher Power.

  51. 51.  I like what Stone said-if you don’t like the posing, make better pitches. I’ve always felt that way about professionals-if you don’t like getting your brains beat in, play better. Otherwise, you get what you deserve.

    Amateur athletics are a different story.

  52. 52.  You know how you can tell Jered Weaver is better than Jeff Weaver? He’s uglier.

  53. 53.  52 : Ha!

    I was hoping to see Weaver unravel after those two bombs but he held it together.

  54. 54.  TBS SD just died, TBS HD going strong. Wonder if it is the wind.

  55. 55.  54 I have satellite, and I havent missed a minute.

  56. 56.  Dang, I wish we could get some runs and put this out of reach. Now we’re in possible late-inning series-turning Angels rally territory.

  57. 57.  Papi, the Bad Man, and the Big Schill..not a bad combination.

  58. 58.  That was the pitch, right there, he needed to make. Beautiful.

  59. 59.  What a performance so far. Sometimes he’s kind of a pain in the ass, but man oh man, Schill can pitch the big game.

  60. 60.  Indeed,I don’t like the man’s politics, but he got it done today, no doubt.

  61. 61.  I feel sort of like I can breathe now.

  62. 62.  The LCS aren’t going to require a lot of travel.

    Boston-Cleveland/New York

    Which will then mean that the World Series is going to require a lot of travel.

  63. 63.  Wow. On to Cleveland…

  64. 64.  So what are the odds that I go running and come back to find the final score 10-9 Angels?

  65. 65.  Gagne Time?

  66. 66.  64
    Very low. Very, very, very low.

  67. 67.  Yeah, it’s looking good. If it holds up, the final score will obscure that for most of the game Schilling had little room for error.

  68. 68.  64 What about “frenzied hitting?”

    Just kidding.

  69. 69.  Granted, I’m not really an Angels fan, but this is kind of annoying. The ability to score runs, in any fashion, would be very nice, particularly in the playoffs.

  70. 70.  There’s a frenzied double by Figgins.

  71. 71.  Well, at least they aren’t giving up.

  72. 72.  Angels now 4 outs from their 9th straight playoff loss to the Red Sox. I wonder what the record is for that type of thing. Bob?

  73. 73.  72
    It’s a very Red Sox-centric record.

  74. 74.  What a disappointing end to a season. I’m tired of the Angels getting swept by the Red Sox. Things looked so good so many times for the Angels this year, and yet in the end they couldn’t hit. I’m hoping the Angels fix 3B and LF this year, for once.

  75. 75.  The Red Sox lost 8 games in a row to the A’s in ’88 and ’90, I think, and had an even longer general playoff losing streak dating back to ’86 and going onward to losses to Cleveland in ’95 (off the top of my head; I might have some of this wrong).

  76. 76.  Wow, so this is really gonna happen? Wow.

  77. 77.  I’ve noticed a Josh Wilker trend to post obscure Halos on his opening to the thread, I don’t know how to feel about that.

  78. 78.  76 : Wow is right. In this post-2004, dreams-come-true era, it’s easy to forget that a Red Sox win in a playoff series is still a rare and beautiful thing. If they can wrap this one it’ll be their 8th playoff series win in my lifetime. I can’t say I was really too aware of the one in ’75, but every other one since then has been really, really sweet.

  79. 79.  77 : I don’t know how obscure they are–Jerry Remy was an all-star, Rick Miller won a gold glove, and Ken Brett had a decent 14-year career. Anyway, the reason they “throw out the first pitch” for the chat is that they’re all Angels who also played for the Red Sox.

  80. 80.  75
    I thought you were kidding. I had post about this on the Griddle.

    The Red Sox lost 10 straight playoff games to Oakland. The streak ended in 2003.

    The A’s are still looking for that last win.

  81. 81.  I guess cause they were before my time. Eric Gagne just doesn’t look the same anymore, you guys just use him for mop ups these days uh? man, how the mighty have fallen.

  82. 82.  80 : God, my memory is lousy–I think I actually read that post, so not only did I forget that I also forgot the first two games the A’s took from the Sox in ’03.

    81 : They wanted to use Gagne as their 8th inning setup guy but he’s basically hemmorhaged runs every time he’s come into a game.

  83. 83.  8 to go!

  84. 84.  Thanks a lot to everyone for hanging out here. I really enjoyed it. On to the next mountain to climb (and it’ll be a high one).

  85. 85.  Where the hell is Carney Lansford?

    Congrats Bosox fans. Young Libblebit and her pappy will be happy, for 5 days anyway.

  86. 86.  And of course Tony C was the greatest of them all. He could have shown GA how to hit with one eye.

  87. 87.  85 , 86 : I wish I had cards of Tony C and Carney, but I don’t. If the series had gone five, the last two AngelSox would have been Dick Drago and Don Baylor.

  88. 88.  Ken Brett’s photo session also took place in the Oakland Coliseum, and just off his right shoulder you can see what looks to be a couple of gold shirted A’s, probably extending a middle finger salute behind the back of Brett the Lesser.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: