Related To Somebody Famous For Something Else: Pat Riley’s dad, Lee Riley

Like many people, I’ve been watching the HBO show Winning Time, about the start of the Showtime-era Lakers. Not surprisingly, one of the main subjects of the show is Pat Riley, played here by Adrien Brody.

In one episode, Riley is shown to have a mental breakdown that leads him to smash much of his shed with a baseball bat. He then tells his wife (played by Gillian Jacobs) that he’s haunted by the missed opportunity of his father (who the bat belonged to), who was only able to have one hit in the majors despite playing the game for years.

While I have no idea if that actually happened, what Pat Riley says about his father is true. Lee Riley (also known as Leon Riley) played professional baseball for 22 seasons, but only briefly made it the majors. It was at the old age of 37 during the 1944 series for the Phillies, and even then it was largely because most of the younger players had joined the war effort. In 12 plate appearances over four games, the outfielder got one single hit: a double off Boston’s Ira Hutchinson in late April.

YearAgeTmLgGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPSOPS+TBGDPHBPSHIBBPos
194437PHINL412121110010000.083.083.167.250-3020000/7H
1 Yr1 Yr1 Yr1 Yr412121110010000.083.083.167.250-3020000
16216216216216248648640404000400000.083.083.167.250-30810000

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/8/2022.

Of course, that was just his MLB career. His minor league career was far longer. While somewhat incomplete, you can see what Baseball Reference has below:

Register Batting
Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH IBB
1927 20 2 Teams 2 Lgs D-A 33 103 103 23 4 3 2 .223 .379 39
1927 20 -7.1 Lincoln WL A 10 26 7 0 2 1 .269 .539 14
1927 20 -5.1 Ottumwa MSVL D 23 77 16 4 1 1 .208 .325 25
1928 21 -5.7 Pueblo WL A 141 489 181 43 17 13 .370 .607 297
1929 22 -4.5 Pueblo WL A 159 606 185 41 27 24 .305 .581 352
1930 23 -3.2 Pueblo WL A 147 527 175 27 18 20 .332 .566 298
1931 24 -2.9 Pueblo WL A 139 534 161 39 16 16 .302 .524 280
1932 25 2 Teams 2 Lgs A-AA 151 546 546 184 40 11 15 .337 .533 291
1932 25 -3.3 Rochester IL AA STL 78 257 71 9 5 6 .276 .420 108
1932 25 -2.2 Omaha WL A 73 289 113 31 6 9 .391 .633 183
1933 26 2 Teams 2 Lgs A STL 130 450 450 114 21 11 7 .253 .396 178
1933 26 -0.4 Elmira NYPL A STL 128 448 114 21 11 7 .255 .397 178
1933 26 -0.6 Houston TL A STL 2 2 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 0
1934 27 2 Teams 2 Lgs A-C STL 105 373 373 100 15 6 11 .268 .429 160
1934 27 1.0 Davenport WL A 87 300 81 14 4 8 .270 .423 127
1934 27 2.8 Huntington MATL C STL 18 73 19 1 2 3 .260 .452 33
1935 28 3.0 Davenport WL A 112 413 132 23 7 12 .320 .496 205
1936 29 2.9 Davenport WL A BRO 123 431 129 24 6 12 .299 .466 201
1937 30 7.6 Beatrice NESL D BRO 114 393 146 27 19 14 .372 .644 253
1938 31 8.8 Beatrice NESL D BRO 115 524 425 117 155 30 15 17 122 15 82 28 .365 .480 .626 1.106 266 12 5
1939 32 3 Teams 3 Lgs A-A1-AA 81 204 204 58 8 3 7 .284 .456 93
1939 32 4.9 Baltimore IL AA 38 52 11 3 0 1 .212 .327 17
1939 32 7.2 Elmira EL A BRO 23 84 23 3 1 4 .274 .476 40
1939 32 5.0 Knoxville SOUA A1 PIT 20 68 24 2 2 2 .353 .529 36
1940 33 9.5 Oneonta CAML C 116 394 134 21 10 14 .340 .551 217
1941 34 9.5 Rome CAML C 120 404 158 27 6 32 .391 .725 293
1942 35 2 Teams 2 Lgs B-A1 PHA 132 414 414 107 16 8 7 .259 .387 160
1942 35 7.5 Memphis SOUA A1 61 203 64 8 4 4 .315 .453 92
1942 35 11.1 Wilmington ISLG B PHA 71 211 43 8 4 3 .204 .322 68
1944 37 12.1 Utica EL A PHI 125 515 383 69 98 18 5 5 70 2 117 54 .256 .435 .368 .803 141 4 11
1944 37 8.2 PHI NL Maj PHI 4 12 12 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 .083 .083 .167 .250 2 0 0 0 0
1945 38 17.3 Bradford PONY D PHI 107 466 334 82 104 20 6 13 82 9 121 43 .311 .504 .524 1.028 175 9 2
1946 39 16.0 Bradford PONY D PHI 73 274 182 46 49 11 1 4 36 5 87 33 .269 .515 .407 .921 74 5 0
1947 40 16.8 Schenectady CAML C PHI 30 96 70 15 18 4 0 2 12 0 24 10 .257 .453 .400 .853 28 1 1
1948 41 17.6 Schenectady CAML C PHI 12 31 20 6 7 1 0 1 5 1 11 2 .350 .581 .550 1.131 11 0 0
1949 42 18.9 Terre Haute IIIL B PHI
Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH IBB
Majo Majo Majo Majo Majors 4 12 12 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 .083 .083 .167 .250 2 0 0 0 0
Mino Mino Mino Mino Minors 2265 8187 7695 335 2418 460 195 248 327 32 442 170 4012 31 19
All All All All 2269 8199 7707 336 2419 461 195 248 328 32 0 442 170 4014 31 19 0
AA ( AA ( AA ( AA ( Minors 116 309 309 82 12 5 7 .265 .405 125
A (1 A (1 A (1 A (1 Minors 1269 4664 4532 69 1399 284 120 131 70 2 117 54 .309 .511 2316 4 11
A1 ( A1 ( A1 ( A1 ( Minors 81 271 271 88 10 6 6 .325 .472 128
B (2 B (2 B (2 B (2 Minors 71 211 211 43 8 4 3 68
C (5 C (5 C (5 C (5 Minors 296 998 961 21 336 54 18 52 17 1 35 12 .350 .606 582 1 1
D (5 D (5 D (5 D (5 Minors 432 1734 1411 245 470 92 42 49 240 29 290 104 .333 .562 793 26 7
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/8/2022.

Lee Riley would ultimately die in 1970 at the age of 64, living long enough to see his son win stardom in the NCAA and begin his NBA career.

GLICK ON GAMING: Everything you need to know about Kirby and the Forgotten Land

In Glick on Gaming, Dan Glickman leaves baseball (mostly) behind to talk video gaming. This time: Kirby and the Forgotten Land for the Nintendo Switch. The following includes spoilers for that game.

There are some important things you need to know about the Kirby series.

  1. They are infamously easy. One of the design concepts of the series is that these are games that people of any experience can beat. The first video game I ever beat without any help was the original Kirby game for the Game Boy, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
  2. They are also notoriously hard to master. To beat a Kirby game is easy, to get high scores or win in additional modes is harder.
  3. It is incredibly cute. Even in a company with Pokemon, Animal Crossing, and Mario, it is Kirby that reigns supreme in the cuteness department.
  4. It is incredibly dark. Okay, maybe not incredibly dark, but far darker than you’d expect. The last few games have had a hidden behind-the-scenes storyline about some sort of war between magic and science, there are dark gods and demons about, and on at least two occasions it’s been implied that humanity has been wiped off the face of the Earth.

With those four facts in mind, I want to share the one thing you need to know about his latest game, Kirby and the Forgotten Land:

THE MAIN CAMPAIGN ENDS WITH KIRBY POSSESSING A SEMI-TRUCK TO DEFEAT A ELF-ANGEL-GOD-THING BY RUNNING INTO IT, CRASHING THROUGH PIECES OF PLANETARY DEBRIS WHILE DOING SO.

So remember, kids: if a elf-angel-god-thing attacks you, just run over it with a truck.

Thank you.

The grievous error made in Pixar’s “Turning Red”

(The following is tongue-in-cheek.)

So, I saw Turning Red a few days ago. A good film. Probably not the top tier of Pixar, but it’s up there.

However, there is a horrible and grievous error made by the filmmakers. One that is inexcusable to someone who writes a baseball blog:

A major plot point is that there is a gigantic boy band concert scheduled at the Skydome for the night of May 25, 2002. We’re talking an all-out production with giant posters of the band members, special spotlights flashing the band logo in the sky, and the appropriate level of pyrotechnics and stage set-up for a big concert.

However, there is a major issue: The Blue Jays had a game there that day. So, Pixar is asking us to believe that the Blue Jays lost to Cleveland 3-0 in just over two-and-a-half hours, and then they put up all of the boy band stuff, from the giant posters to the elaborate stagecraft and presumably countless other logistical things?

Yeah, right. I can believe a teenage Chinese-Canadian girl can turn into a red panda as a metaphor for entering puberty, but this? This goes too far. This breaks the suspension of disbelief.

And it can’t be considered just some oversight. This is Pixar. They go insanely into detail in their research for their movies. The Incredibles referenced the quantum mechanical concept of zero-point energy to explain one of the villain’s devices. They consult psychologists for films regularly. One of the filmmakers of Finding Nemo outright admits in the audio commentary that they briefly included a lobster that isn’t native to Australia in the film simply so that someone could use a Boston accent, but that they made sure every other species featured was authentic.

They’ve done all of that in the past, but nobody working on Domee Shi’s (literal) period piece couldn’t check to see what the Blue Jays schedule that year was? I mean, they get so much

For shame, Pixar. For shame.

(I actually believe the real reason for this is that in the movie another important plot point requires there to be a red moon, which only occurs naturally during times of lunar eclipse. The only lunar eclipses in the Northern Hemisphere in 2002 were in late May and late November, and the weather in Toronto in November would likely have required the Skydome roof to be closed for the climax of the film, which would have ruined some of the visuals of the film’s final act. Setting the film in a different year would have likely required other changes that may have ruined Domee Shi’s use of the film as a metaphor for her own childhood in Toronto, so they went with what they went with. It should also be noted that the May eclipse wasn’t visible in Toronto, so they similarly fudged that a bit for dramatic purposes as well. I’d love to hear if I’m right about this so on the long-shot chance that you work for Pixar, let me know.)

Bizarre Baseball Culture 2.0: Action Comics #50 has Superman being a Superjerk

In Bizarre Baseball Culture 2.0, I take an updated look at some of the more unusual places that I previously covered where baseball has reared its head in pop culture and fiction. In the process, I clean up some mistakes of mine and add some more perspective.

NOTE: The original form of this post ran here. It has some grammatical mistakes and out-of-date information that has been corrected in this post, but remains up for posterity. In addition, I have taken time to replace most of the pictures in this post with better digital copies.

Superman. Contrary to popular belief, he was not the first superhero, but he was the first to truly make an impact. First appearing in Action Comics #1, he has influenced every superhero since. While it has been awhile since he was the most popular hero, his influence is felt to this day across the world.

Today, we are focusing on the past with Action Comics #50, way back in July, 1942. I read it initially in The Superman Chronicles Volume Nine, which I got from my local library. In the original posting of this installment, the scans were from that. This time, however, I have updated most of the photos with screenshots from this issue on DC’s DC Universe Infinite service. The only exceptions are the ones linked to in the text (since they usually are so small in scale that it doesn’t make that much of a difference). All scans and screenshots are for educational or demonstration purposes only and are being used under the fair use doctrine. Also, I’d like to note that Michael Clair has also covered this story, so check that out too.

Anyway, go below the jump:

Continue reading

Bizarre Baseball Culture 2.0: Spider-Man, Uncle Ben, and the Mets

In Bizarre Baseball Culture 2.0, I take an updated look at some of the more unusual places that I previously covered where baseball has reared its head in pop culture and fiction. In the process, I clean up some mistakes of mine and add some more perspective.

Note: The original version of this post can be found here. It has some mistakes and out-of-date information that has been corrected in this post, but remains up for posterity.

As the latest Spider-Man film continues to break records, there is perhaps no better way to start up Bizarre Baseball Culture 2.0 than by renovating one of my old posts about the web-slinger. Now, ole’ Web-Head is no stranger to Bizarre Baseball Culture, having had shown up on several occasions (including fighting Doctor Doom alongside Billy the Marlin), but those were generally promotional comics that happened to feature Spider-Man. Peter Parker Spider-Man (Volume 2) #33, by contrast, is canon. It happened in the main Marvel Universe and presumably could be referenced by any writer working in those stories today. This issue from 2001 is about Peter Parker’s relation with his late Uncle Ben, and how baseball was a bond between them.

Now, before we begin, I’d like to write a bit about Spider-Man in general. What made the Marvel characters different when they first started appearing in the 1960s was that they were, in general, more relatable and flawed than the DC counterparts and the Marvel superheroes that had been created in the 30s and 40s. The Fantastic Four was often bickering with each other (like an family does), the X-Men were shunned by most of society (Stan Lee has said that being a mutant is basically meant to be a stand-in for being a minority), the Hulk was shunned by basically all of society… and Spider-Man, for lack of a better term, was a loser.

Okay, maybe not a loser, but definitely the closest thing there had been up to that point: an unpopular kid with no parents, only one family member of any sort (Aunt May) and little money. To make matters worse, when supervillains weren’t coming after him, the press and/or the police were. If things could go wrong for Peter Parker, they probably have. Parents? Dead. Uncle? Dead. Aunt? Perpetually sick. First true love (Gwen Stacy)? Murdered (and, amazingly, never came back to life). Second true love (Mary Jane)? Marriage magically annulled in a story far too stupid to talk about. At one point in the not-that-distant past poor Peter Parker evensaw his body body-snatched by Doctor Ocopus while he was forced to die in “Doc Ock’s” cancer-ridden body (don’t worry, he got better). But all of this pales in comparison to the greatest, most horrible fate to ever fall upon Spider-Man:

Being a fan of the New York Mets.

(JUMP)

Continue reading

GLICK ON GAMING: Screw you, Kraid! (Metroid Dread)

Glick on Gaming

In Glick on Gaming, Dan Glickman leaves baseball (mostly) behind to talk video gaming. This time: Metroid Dread for the Nintendo Switch.

I had spent parts of the last few weeks becoming increasingly frustrated about a stupid giant three-eyed space reptile that throws giant claw-shaped fingernails and spits rock. Its name: Kraid. Its location: Cataris sector.

Its crime: BEING GODDAMN NEAR IMPOSSIBLE TO KILL DESPITE COUNTLESS ATTEMPTS!

(More after jump)

Continue reading

Two neat links and a look at what is ahead

We start today with two neat links, both about diamonds. One from the present, one from the past.

The first is this article from Emma Baccelieri on the Long Time, a sandlot ballfield and performance venue in Austin with idiosyncratic rules and a deep love of the game. Home of the amateur adult-league Texas Playboys (which includes the architect of the field), the games held there raise money for local causes. A fascinating read about something I’d never heard about until today.

The other is an article at Atlas Obscura by Jonathan Goldman about the Dyckman Oval, a venue in northern Manhattan which was the center of Black Baseball in New York City until its late 1930s. Now covered by housing, playgrounds, and community center basketball courts, it’s a forgotten part of New York City’s baseball and Black history, without even a historical marker to indicate that it was once a stadium that often had people like Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, and Fats Waller sitting in the stands. Hopefully something is done to change that.

Moving on now to what you can expect in the coming days and weeks:

  • Tomorrow, there will be a tradition unlike any other; My bare-bones no-explanations-given postseason predictions.
  • Reactions to the postseason.
  • An incredibly stupid thing about mascots, which is to say it’ll be amazing.
  • Ruminations on the ultimate baseball trip that I’d have if I had several million dollars and/or a bunch of sponsors.
  • Possibly finally the first “Glick on Gaming” segment.

Thank you coming to the Baseball Continuum, see you again soon!

Introducing “Glick on Gaming”

Back on the 4th of July, I said that that I wanted to start doing some non-baseball stuff on here as well.

This new feature, Glick on Gaming, is one such feature.

As the name suggests, it is about gaming. Video gaming, to be more precise. It’ll be an irregular feature with no real schedule, basically coming along whenever I finish a video game or want to talk about it. The form it will take will also be highly variable: sometimes it could just be a few short lines, other times it may be a long essay, review, or rumination.

Among the games you can expect to see covered in the opening parts of the feature are Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Kingdom Hearts, and Red Dead Redemption II.

So keep an eye out!

Famous for Something Else: Charlie Powell, the minor-leaguer with 83 NFL games and a fight against Ali

Today’s “Famous for Something Else” is one who I honestly am surprised I hadn’t heard of until recently: Charlie Powell. After all, I doubt that there were any other former minor leaguers who had the honor of getting knocked out by Muhammad Ali. And even if there were (and if there were I will find out), I doubt any of them also played several seasons in the NFL.

Charlie (sometimes spelled Charley) Powell, however, did all of these things. Born in Dallas in 1932, he would grow up in San Diego. His was in an athletic family, and his brother Art would go on to be one of the lead receivers in the American Football League of the 1960s. According to the Los Angeles Times, Charlie’s time at San Diego High School was to that point perhaps the most decorated student-athlete career in the history of the city, as he lettered 12 times in four different sports (football, baseball, basketball, and track). The Harlem Globetrotters and major college football programs wanted to him to join up, but instead he decided to go into professional baseball.

It was a season that, as the Times obituary put it, left him “realizing his sporting riches would be elsewhere.” Looking at the admittedly bare-bones stats of that lone short season in Stockton that Baseball Reference has, it isn’t hard to see why:

Register Batting
Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB
1952 20 -2.6 Stockton CALL C SLB 10   30   5 0 0 0           .167   .167   5          
All Levels (1 Season)       10 30 30   5 0 0 0           .167   .167   5          
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/24/2021.

And so, Powell instead went into football, joining the 49ers in time for the 1952 season at the age of 20, making him the youngest NFL player at that time. In 1953, he had his first boxing match, drawing with a fighter named Fred Taylor in Hollywood.

As evidenced by the fact he’s the subject of an installment of this series, it should be obvious he had far more luck on the gridiron and in the ring than he ever did on the diamond. Although his statistics from his time in the NFL are a bit hazy due to some less-than-stellar record-keeping during that era as well as the fact that some statistics (such as sacks) weren’t even officially recognized yet, anecdotally it is said that Powell once sacked Bobby Layne (himself someone you may see in a future installment of this series) ten times in one game. To put that into perspective, the most sacks in a single game from an era where NFL record-keeping existed well enough where we can be sure is seven.

Here are the NFL statistics for Powell that we do know:

Defense & Fumbles Table
          Game Game Def Def Def Def Fumb Fumb Fumb Fumb  
Year Age Tm Pos No. G GS Int Yds TD Lng Fmb FR Yds TD Sfty
1952 20 SFO RDE 87 7 7                 1
1953 21 SFO LDE 87 12 10         1 1 0 0  
1955 23 SFO RDE 87 12 7 0 7 0 7 0 1 0 0  
1956 24 SFO RDE 87 12 11                  
1957 25 SFO RLB 87 12 8         0 1 3 0  
1960 28 OAK RDE 87 14 14                  
1961 29 OAK RDE 87 14 14                  
Care Care       83 71 0 7 0 7 1 3 3 0 1
5 yr 5 yr SFO     55 43 0 7 0 7 1 3 3 0 1
2 yr 2 yr OAK     28 28                  
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/24/2021.

Perhaps Charlie Powell’s most interesting athletic career, however, came in the ring. In 39 career bouts, Powell went 25-11-3, with 17 of his victories coming by knockout.

He was, according to my research, a legitimate heavyweight fighter, not some sideshow coasting on his achievement in football. According to his obituary, he once was rated the fourth-best in the world by The Ring magazine. His brother Art and a promoter named Don Chagrin both say that he could have been even more successful if he had had better management and had focused entirely on boxing. In fact, he himself admitted it later in life.

Still, he had some great success. In 1959, he defeated the Cuban Nino Valdes, who at the time looked like a possible challenger to then-champion Floyd Patterson. A few years later, he would step into the ring against a young hotshot with a big mouth but the talent to back it up, a man then called Cassius Clay but later known as Muhammad Ali.

The Jan. 24, 1963 match-up in Pittsburgh was over quick. Clay declared before the fight that he’d beat Powell in three rounds, and, of course, he did just that, winning by KO. According to a newspaper account from the time, Clay declared himself the “greatest” and then went to badmouthing future opponents, including then-champion Sonny Liston, who he said he hoped to unseat by the next November and who he categorized as being neither as fast or as rough as Powell, who he complimented in his own Ali-like way:

“Powell was rough. They couldn’t call him a push-over. I was concentrating on three. The man was strong for two. He’s the roughest fighter I’ve met yet for three rounds.”

That wouldn’t be the end of Charlie Powell’s boxing career, however, as he would fight six more times after that, perhaps most notably a six-round loss against Floyd Patterson in 1964 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in Puerto Rico. Hiram Bithorn, of course, is most notably used for the sport that Powell began his professional sports career in: baseball.

Powell died on Sept. 1, 2014 after a years-long battle with dementia. He was 82. Although his brother believed that his dementia was the result of his years on the gridiron and in the ring, he had never joined any of the major lawsuits against the NFL.