Tag Archive | "Professional Record"

Stolen Base Champion Passes Away

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Stolen Base Champion Passes Away

Posted on 21 February 2013 by Bill Ivie

Pop quiz: Who holds the record for most stolen bases in a professional baseball season, ranks second among all professional base stealers, and averaged 150 stolen bases a season?

If you answered Rickey Henderson, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Her name is Sophie Kurys (pronounced “curries”).  A young woman from Flint, Michigan, she was a founding member of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League and a second baseman for the Racine Belles.

SophieKurys

Kurys signed her first contract, for $50 a week, one day shy of her 18th birthday.

Kurys would play for eight seasons for the Belles, including rejoining them a year after they left Racine and moved to Battle Creek.  Her best season would come in 1946 when she was named player of the year after gathering 215 hits and stealing 201 bases in 203 attempts, a professional record that still stands today.  She would hit .286 that season with a .434 on base percentage, score 117 runs, walk 93 times and collect a .973 fielding percentage, leading the league in each category.  Her walks and fielding percentage marks in 1946 would go down as league records.

She wasn’t done with just the regular season, though.  She would lead all hitters in the post-season that year and have one of the most amazing games in professional baseball history in the sixth and deciding game of the league championship.

The game itself was a bit of an enigma   Carolyn Morris, the Rockford ace, had thrown a no-hitter through nine innings before surrendering the first hit of the game in the 10th.  Meanwhile, Racine’s pitcher, Joanne Winter allowed 19 base runners through 14 innings, stranding them all.  The game had gone 14 innings without a run, despite Kurys four stolen bases up to that point.  She would single and steal her fifth base of the game in the bottom of the 14th inning, putting her at second base with Betty Trezza, her double play partner and shortstop for Racine, at the plate.

As Kurys broke for third as Trezza singled through the right side.  As the throw came home from right field, Kurys would hook slide around the catcher’s tag and provide Racine with the 1946 championship.  It was easy to see that the young lady had earned the nickname “Flint Flash”.

“A hook slide away from the tag by a player wearing a skirt – how about that?  Sophie was certainly one of our best,” stated Lois Youngen, former AAGPBL Players Association President.

Many managers and players credit Kurys for her ability to read a pitcher and her attention to the detail for her base stealing prowess.  While she was certainly fast, she would get an incredible jump off the pitcher and was a “master of the slide”.

She played her first few years in the league as the clean up hitter for the team but new manager Leo Murphy, who took over the reigns of the Belles in 1945, identified her base running abilities and moved her to the leadoff spot where she flourished for her team.

She would finish her career with 1,114 stolen bases.  That mark would stand as a professional record until Rickey Henderson would eventually surpass her, finishing his career with 1,406.  Her 201 stolen bases in 1946 remains a record in professional baseball today.  She would also steal 166, 142, 172, and 137 bases in a season during her career, all more than Henderson’s modern-era record of 130 and three of which were higher than Hugh Nicol‘s 1887 total of 138.

Kurys passed away on February 17, 2013 at the age of 87 years old in Scottsdale, Arizona due to surgical complications.

Read more about Sophie in this comprehensive article, Playing Hardball In The All-American League at aagpbl.org

Bill Ivie is the editor here at Full Spectrum Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Finders Keepers: Billy Hamilton

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Finders Keepers: Billy Hamilton

Posted on 27 August 2012 by T.J. McDonald

With the fantasy season winding down and the fantasy playoffs starting soon, we have come to the end of the Finder Keepers series. Before I do, as promised last week, I will give you one more potential keeper prospect.  My number one rated offensive keeper prospect is the one and only, already legendary base stealer, Billy Hamilton. In this final installment I will give you a little information on him, his keeper potential and value, as well as talk a little about his rumored September call up.

Billy Hamilton was drafted in the second round of the 2009 major league baseball draft out of Taylorsville High School by the Cincinnati Reds. He was ranked as the 50th best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America prior to the 2011 season and became the 12th minor league player to have 100 stolen bases in a season with 103 SBs while hitting .278.

He then moved up to the 48th ranked prospect by Baseball America prior to this season before taking the baseball world by storm, catching everyone’s attention by breaking Vince Coleman’s 29 year old professional record of 145 stolen bases on August 21st.

By mid season, he had climbed the prospect ranks reaching #27 on Keith Law’s mid season prospect rank. His remarkable baseball stealing skills have made him one of the most talked about prospects in all of baseball this year. He is so fast on the base paths that he has been known to score on a sac fly from second.

He is currently at 150 SBs on the seaon as of this writing.  He has been so dominate in the base stealing department this year that he leads the AA Southern League with 45 SBs in 42 games having only debuted in AA a little over a month ago on July 11th.  He also still leads the High-A California league by 19 SBs and hasn’t played a game at High-A since July 7th.  He is hitting .320 this year, a .042 point improvement from last year, and looks to have become a good switch hitter, which he has been working on since being drafted and hitting .311 from the left side this year, his weak side.

With this unheard-of-speed, there have been rumors of the Cincinnati Reds calling him up come September, when rosters expand, strictly for pinch running purposes. The manager of the Reds, Dusty Baker, seems very high on his future, stating recently, “I know the guy’s who records he broke, I know Vince Coleman. I know Donnel Nixon. That’s a tremendous feat. The amount of running you have to do. Your legs have to be in great shape. With sliding, your body takes a pounding. The fact that he’s been able to do that and stay healthy is remarkable.” “Someday, he’ll be here and be a tremendous force.” Lately it sounds like that day may be here sooner than some expected with Baker also stating, “It’s been discussed, It’s not my decision. You’ve got a lot to factor here. Once you put him on the roster, you’ve got to keep him on the roster. . . We’ve asked about him big time. But there’s more factors.” Couple that with GM Walt Jocketty’s comments recently, when he said, “We obviously are having very serious discussions about it, I don’t think he’s ready to play at this level but he certainly could run the bases.”, and I would not be surprised if we saw Hamilton causing havoc on the base paths in September as a pinch runner in the big leagues.

To put his feat into fantasy prospect Mike Trout is leading the majors with 41 stolen bases, Rajai Davis second with 39 and Michael Bourn third with 35.  If an owner owned all three of these players he would still be 34 stolen bases behind Hamilton alone in the stolen base category this season. Theoretically speaking if Hamilton continues his dominance  on the base paths in the majors he could single-handedly win you the stolen base category without a single stolen base from another player on your roster all year. This coupled with his good average, on base percentage and the prospect of him hitting lead off and getting a high number of at bats for your fantasy team. He is my number one rated offensive keeper prospect in my prospect keeper evaluations. While there is some concern that he may not stick at short stop long term, as the Red’s are currently have rookie Zack Cozart playing well at the short stop position. He will steal bases regardless of where he plays and the Reds will find an everyday spot for him as early as next year.  While at the beginning of the year it seemed far fetched that Hamilton would debut this year it does not seem so now and while he will not play on an everyday basis and probably won’t start, if called up we will get a good look at his base stealing abilities.  He may not break camp with the big league club at the beginning of next year. However I do foresee him getting the call at some point next season and becoming an everyday player. Hamilton is owned in %3 of ESPN leagues, 3% of Yahoo leagues and 26% of CBS leagues. Don’t be the one weeping, find him and keep him. I grade his keeper potential as an A+.

As the fantasy baseball season winds down and comes to a close I hope you have enjoyed both the Welcome to the bigs, kids series as well as Finders Keepers. In these series combined I have profiled eight potential keeper prospects and hope you will reference them the rest of the season in your search for the best available keeper prospects in your dynasty/keeper league.

Will you be picking up and keeping Billy Hamilton? Do you foresee a September call up and do you think he can keep up his remarkable base stealing feats at the major league level? Let me know in the comments and as always follow me on twitter @FantasyzrTJ. Also, be sure to check out Blake Murphy’s Cincinnati Reds’ Farm System Report for more on Hamilton and other Reds’ prospects to keep an eye on.

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