Robert Beck from Bedford Hills, NY
Our May winner is Robert Beck from Bedford Hills, NY! Robert grew up in Massachusetts, and says that his heart beats for the Red Sox. His primary positions are third base and shortstop, and his favorite players these days are Michael Chavis and Javier Baez. Congratulations, Robert!
Winning Prize: An X2-200POP, from our X2™, along with Nokona Leather Treatment, Nokona hat, and a Tomahawk Glove Mallet
Question: What is the biggest sports achievement in history? Part 1: Tell us why. Part 2: Tell us what inspires you about this achievement. ....Good luck!
Winning Answer: The biggest achievement in sports history, when viewed in terms of pure grit and endurance, has to go to Cal Ripken Jr. He didn't just have a historic at-bat, or win a Gold Glove or World Series MVP… No – Cal didn't miss a day of work for more than SIXTEEN YEARS!!! Could you imagine that? 2,632 games...IN A ROW.
The average career for a Major League baseball player is a little over 5 1/2 years...Cal did that like 3 times! Oh...and in that span he didn't miss 1 game...NOT ONE!!
He won 2 MVP's, and made the All Star Team 19 times in his career. His fielding percentage was 0.977, more than 4100 put-outs, 2 gold gloves, 8 silver sluggers, 431 home runs, almost 3200 hits, and ended with a career batting average of .276.
Ripken played through injuries, illnesses, years of late-season fatigue, fan criticism...He just grit his teeth and came to work THAT DAY. He didn't care about tomorrow's game, he cared about the game he had today.
The Iron Man of Major League Baseball is a distinction likely to be associated with Cal for decades to come. This is inspiring as a ball player, as a working man, and as an American.
Any time you feel like you can't go on, like you can't possibly work any harder, you just have to phone it in today, or take a couple of days off, you'd do well to think of Cal and his grit. Maybe it's not always pretty, but sometimes you just have to put your head down and get the job done. Cal didn't just show up for work, he showed up TO work.
Cal once said "Stubbornness usually is considered a negative; but I think that trait has been a positive for me." I think as long as we're pointed in the right direction, we could all use a little stubbornness.
Stephanie Schell of Jarrettsville, MD
Stephanie played softball for Messiah College, and is now pursuing graduate studies. As you can tell, she is an avid Orioles fan, and she loves to root for the underdog. Congratulations, Stephanie!
QUESTION: Stadiums have become hotspots for dining. Pick a stadium, team, or even a specific player and create a dish in their honor. Name your dish, and let us know why that particular item suits the team/player, as well as why fans would like it. Extra points for including the recipe!
WINNING ANSWER: I have been an Orioles fan my entire life, through thick and thin, with my parents raising me with the Orioles games on TV and at the ballpark. So, I chose to name a dish for each of the Orioles’ Hall-of-Fame players, based on the way the fans remember them.
The CALzone. In honor of Cal Ripken. Filled with two cheeses to represent the two positions he played during his long career (short and third). Crab meat will be the main ingredient, representing Cal as a local hometown favorite, just as crabs are a hometown favorite food. This one will be served every day, representing Cal's consecutive game streak.
The FRANK Robinson. In honor of Frank Robinson's classic respect for the game of baseball. This is a classic hot dog (frank). Your choice of toppings, provided at no additional cost, as extra effort was the usual for Frank – not the exception. Frank will always be tied to how a player should love the game, as the hot dog will always be a classic ballpark food and part of the experience.
The Earl Weaver Special. This one is a real homerun with the fans. It is a nacho dish with 3 simple toppings to model the 3 runs scored during this special. The first is sharp cheddar cheese to represent his sharp mouth with the umpires (rule book to tear up not included!). The other two ingredients, beef and tomato, round out the classic ingredients for a reminder of classic Orioles games with Earl at the helm.
The Hoover Scooper. This is a huge ice-cream sundae to honor the great defensive third baseman Brooks Robinson. It includes a scoop of each flavor of ice cream available that day because Brooks scooped up everything around him. It's topped with smooth caramel sauce as a tribute to how smooth he made the plays look from his third base position.
The Eddie Murray Curry. You either liked Eddie Murray and his personality or you didn't, similar to how a spicy curry is liked by some, but not by all. The curry also has the power behind it that represents Eddie's strong bat that produced homeruns and clutch hits.
The Jim Pal(e)-mer Ale. In honor of Jim Palmer, this is a reliable and winning craft beer formula, as Jim Palmer was a master of his craft. It comes at you with some bite, but isn't overwhelming, as Jim was a more strategic and less overpowering pitcher. It is a consistent performer that will become a fan-favorite, as craft beer emerges as a ballpark staple.
Lastly, The Mule-sina Drink Special. This is an extra in honor of Mike Mussina. He will go into the Hall of Fame without a logo on his plaque, as he couldn't choose between the Yankees and the Orioles. However, this drink special represents the 10 years he spent with the Orioles. This Mule is a little different than the typical recipe. It includes whiskey instead of vodka, since Mussina came right at you on the mound. It also includes orange instead of lime for a little deceptiveness, like his changeup. The orange also accurately represents his time with the O's!
Dario Aguilar from McKinney, TX! Congratulations!
Dario is a fan of all Dallas teams – the Rangers, the Cowboys, the Mavs –and is a third baseman himself. He has won an X2-1150I, from our X2™ Elite Series, and his Surprise Gift is a tube of Nokona Leather Treatment, a Nokona hat, and a Tomahawk Glove Mallet.
QUESTION: Now's your chance to build the ultimate athlete. You can combine different individuals' talents and strengths to come up with the perfect combination. For example, if we were designing an ideal MLB player, we might put Billy Hamilton’s speed with Yoenis Céspedes’s arm, and Dustin Pedroia’s heart. Head, heart, vision, speed, determination, work ethic, hands, arms, legs, strength...it's all up to you. Let us know the position and sport you're building for, and why this would be the ultimate athlete. Entries will be judged on your creativity, thoughtfulness, and explanation. Have fun, and GOOD LUCK!
WINNING ANSWER: Here is how I would build the perfect MLB player. If I was the GM of the Rangers and could build my own Frankenstein player, here is how I'd combine the top skills of players past and present for the perfect outfielder.
Head - Greg Maddux. Not only did Mad Dog also have a great work ethic, but I think he could get into a batter’s head more than anyone. He had so many pitches to pick from, and could keep the opposing team guessing what he was throwing all game long. He looked unassuming as a body type, but he was mentally stronger on the mound than most players. Oh, yeah...having wicked movement on the ball also helped, too.
Heart - Adrian Beltre. All Rangers fans love this guy, and he is so respected across the league because of how he played the game every day. Check out how Belts responded during the bench-clearing brawl and fight between Odor and Bautista a few seasons back. Adrian was right there to clear Bautista out of the way to calm the situation down. And, this was the season right after the Rangers were embarrassed by the Blue Jays in the playoffs. Major respect for Belts, and I will miss that guy playing every day.
Vision - Derek Jeter. I was never a Yankees fan, but you have to admit he had all the skills of the prototype player. I think the play that ranks above all of his highlights was the run-saving flip toss to get Jeremy Giambi out at the plate in the 2001 ALDS. It was like his vision knew the cut-off man would be missed, and Derek was there to save his team. All the momentum for the A’s stopped dead in its tracks at that play.
Speed - Ricky Henderson (the GOAT of speed). You have to give it to the stolen base king. Speed was his specialty, and he dominated during his day at stolen bags.
Determination - David Ortiz. Big Papi was determined to lead his team to the greatest upset in sports history. Don’t forget, he had a walk-off home run in the series before. But, in that Game 4 against the Yankees, we all knew he would get that home run. Notice that he didn’t seem surprised at what he had just done when mobbed by his teammates at home. Then, we knew the Red Sox would finally rid themselves of the Buckner curse because Ortiz would get the hits when they needed him the most.
Work Ethic - Nolan Ryan. I read the reason he was so dominant into his mid-40s was because, after a game pitched, he would go to the weight room for a work out. I bet a lot of players go home after a game, so to hear that Nolan would then hit the weights after a game shows how dedicated he was to staying in top shape, and not letting age dictate his game play.
Hands - Evan Longoria. Sure, maybe the Gillette commercial was CGI; there is a reason, though, that they used Evan to display the quick hands and reflexes to save that interviewer’s face. The guy just makes turning two a seamless play on defense.
Arms - Ramon Laureano. That throw from the warning track against the Angels last season was a YouTube highlight that will stay in rotation for years. No cut off man!??!? A dime to the first baseman’s glove?!??! That was accuracy, and an out-of-this world cannon of an arm colliding for the perfect throw.
Legs - Willie Mays. Plus, he had one of the coolest nicknames of all time. It’s shame he couldn’t play in today’s era of instant highlights. He would be on Web Gems every night. He was a perfect five-tool player, and his over the head catch ranks atop the greatest of baseball highlights. Sure, he used all of his skills to make that play, but his hustle got him to the ball. I am teaching my kids who are just starting baseball about not giving up and hustle. I showed them this highlight to illustrate making a play when it seems impossible.
Strength - Bo Jackson. Broke a bat on his helmet. Say no more! I believe in 1989 that Bo was the best athlete in the U.S. …maybe the world. Between what he did in football and baseball is still discussed and dissected to this day. He career was unfortunately too short, but he remains the favorite athlete to so many kids of that era...including me!
Vernon Jones II, from Marietta, GA!
QUESTION: Get your popcorn ready – it’s movie time! What baseball player, coach, story or personality has not yet made it to the screen, but should? What should the movie be called? Who should star in it? Let us know the main characters, the supporting roles, and any other interesting details. We can’t wait to see your creativity! ...Good luck!
WINNING ANSWER: Since it’s "Black History Month," Josh Gibson who played for the Negro Leagues should definitely be on the BIG SCREEN. Gibson played for the Negro Leagues from 1930-1946, primarily with the Homestead Grays.
The title of this movie should be called "The League," and Dewayne "Rock" Johnson would be the perfect Josh Gibson. The main characters will be Satchel Paige, Coach Alonzo Boone, Mark Gibson (Josh's Dad). Denzel Washington will play Coach Boone, and Mahershala Ali will play Satchel Paige. Mark Gibson will be played by Don Cheadle. The movie will be filmed here in Atlanta, Georgia, which is actually the birthplace of Josh Gibson.
Gibson was considered the best power hitter of his era in the Negro baseball leagues, and perhaps even the majors. Gibson became a professional by accident on July 25th, 1930, while sitting in the stands. When Homestead Grays’ catcher Buck Ewing injured his hand, Gibson was invited to replace him because his titanic home runs were already well-known in Pittsburgh.
His legendary feats with the Homestead Grays have many experts regarding Gibson as the sport’s greatest home-run hitter. Negro Leagues’ statistics of the time are largely incomplete. But, the legend of Gibson’s power has always been larger than life. The 6’-1”, 215-pound Gibson from Buena Vista, Georgia was nearly indestructible behind the plate. He occasionally played left field or third base, but never for more than a game or two. Gibson’s natural skills were immense. His powerful arm, quick release, and agility made base runners wary of trying to steal. But, hitting is what made Gibson the second-highest paid player in black baseball behind Satchel Paige, another future Hall of Famer.
The Sporting News, baseball’s written authority for decades, credited Gibson in 1967 with hitting a 580-foot home run in Yankee Stadium. The ball landed two feet from the top of the bleacher wall. “Josh was a better power hitter than Babe Ruth, Ted Williams or anybody else I’ve ever seen,” said former Cleveland Buckeye pitcher and manager Alonzo Boone. “Anything he touched was hit hard. He could power outside pitches to right field. Shortstops would move to left field when Josh came to the plate.”
In 1972, Gibson became the second player from the Negro Leagues elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, joining Paige. Gibson was also inducted into the Washington Nationals Ring of Honor. Paige may have put it best when describing Josh at the plate: “You look for his weakness and while you’re lookin’ for it, he’s liable to hit 45 home runs.”
James Stuart from Tacoma, WA
QUESTION: Happy New Year! January is a time for New Year’s Resolutions, of course. You may have your own, but this month’s Contest Question has a little twist. Pick anyone from the sports world, and let us know what you think his or her New Year’s resolutions should be….and why! Maybe even a whole team needs a few resolutions. Remember: creativity counts... Good luck!
WINNING ANSWER: I was not content with just one team, so I took a stab at New Year's Resolutions for all 30 MLB Teams. Here's hoping for a much happier 2019 in Major League Baseball:
- Arizona Diamondbacks - Invest in better pool chemicals, try to clone Randy Johnson, bring back the purple & teal.
- Atlanta Braves - Host a "Lion King" theme night. Call it "Acuña Matata."
- Baltimore Orioles - Win more games.
- Boston Red Sox - Win less games.
- Chicago White Sox - Sign Machado, trade him to the Orioles for the lolz
- Chicago Cubs - Start more Twitter feuds with Yadier Molina
- Cincinnati Reds - Keep pretending "Great American Ballpark" is just a quaint, wholesome name and not a corporate sponsorship.
- Cleveland Indians - Invite Baker Mayfield to every home game, keep a camera trained on him at all times.
- Colorado Rockies - Decide once and for all what the singular version of the team name is. Rocky? Rockie?
- Detroit Tigers - Officially adopt Magnum PI Hawaiian shirt jerseys as alternates.
- Houston Astros - Bring back "Astroman" for another rooftop camping trip.
- Kansas City Royals - Replace all the water in the Kaufman Stadium fountains with BBQ Sauce.
- Los Angeles Angels - Remind the world that you still use the Rally Monkey. Develop a sitcom about his adventures.
- Los Angeles Dodgers- Sign, trade for, or acquire every single member of the 2018 NL All Star Team. Push payroll to more than a billion dollars. Lose the World Series in 6 games.
- Miami Marlins - Fully embrace the Miami Vice look - pastel blazers with the sleeves rolled up required at all times.
- Milwaukee Brewers - Develop a microbrew based on the likeness of Christian Yelich. Call it MVPilsner.
- Minnesota Twins - Make every single Target logo in Target Field into a "Hit It Here" contest.
- New York Yankees - Un-retire Babe Ruth's number. Give it to Adam Ottavino. Again, for the lolz.
- New York Mets - Sign Jerry Seinfeld to a major league contract. Bat him behind Tebow.
- Oakland Athletics - GET A NEW STADIUM ASAP. Invest heavily in plungers and air fresheners.
- Philadelphia Phillies - Sign Bryce Harper, but make him play every game in the Phanatic's jersey. Also sort out the singular form thing (See: Colorado Rockies)
- Pittsburgh Pirates - Steal the pirate ship from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Stadium, install it at PNC Park.
- San Diego Padres - Play every third home game in actual friars' robes. No sliding, obviously.
- San Francisco Giants - SIGN ACTUAL GIANTS. Nobody on the roster under 7'2''.
- Seattle Mariners - Change primary color to T-Mobile magenta so the stadium matches the team at least.
- St. Louis Cardinals - Invite Kris Bryant to a night out on the town in St. Louis. Make sure he has a nice time. Then, lock him in the top of the Arch like Rapunzel.
- Tampa Bay Rays - Print lots of cardboard cut-outs of fans so the stadium looks full and Tommy Pham is happy.
- Texas Rangers - Rename the team, "The Walker Texas Rangers." Wait for Chuck Norris to call.
- Toronto Blue Jays - Replace all the water coolers with maple syrup for extra Canadian energy. Replace the turf with the blue stuff Boise State uses.
- Washington Nationals - If Harper leaves, change the primary team color to black. If he resigns, celebrate for six months and lose in the first round of the playoffs.
PRIZE: James is the lucky (and witty!) winner of a Nokona Alpha S-1200, with a surprise gift of Hari Mari X Nokona Flip Flops!
Kirk Whitby from Mechanicsville, VA
QUESTION: This has been an exciting year... in sports, of course! With only one month to go, think back on 2018 and let us know what you think is the most inspiring, amazing, or uplifting sports story of the year. In other words, the one story that really had an impact on you, the one you will never forget. AND, tell us why that specific story has had a personal impact on you. We can’t wait to hear your pick!
WINNING ANSWER: Bryce Harper’s Dad pitching to him while he won the Home Run Derby was the sports story that touched me most directly this year. This year, my son made his first all-star team, and it was the first time he’s shown real zeal for the game of baseball. He set the goal of making all-stars this year, so we worked as early as the second week of January on accomplishing that goal. All the days of hard work and bonding meant the world to me. That said, watching the Harpers celebrate at the end of the Derby made me think of my son who was sitting next to me at home. I think it’s a moment that resounds with every baseball Dad that gets home from work, exhausted and filthy, but can’t help but oblige that smiling face when your kid says, “Can we throw for a while, Daddy?” or “Can we work on hitting before the sun goes down?” It was a great moment that just shows me that, even when they grow up, the kids will remember and appreciate the time you put in with them. I hope that’s true for mine at least. I hope he swings for the fences in life, and I hope we get to celebrate his successes together. Just like the Harpers did. (Wouldn’t mind being as jacked as Bryce’s Dad when I hit that age either.)
QUESTION: Tell us who you are most thankful for in your sports life. Your coach, a teammate, your Mom – who? Let us know why you appreciate that person, and include specific reasons for your gratitude, maybe even a good story that shows how amazing they are.
WINNING ANSWER: I am so grateful for my brother. Not only is he my best friend, but he is my coach, my turn-two partner, and my teammate. My brother is seven years older than me, and introduced me to this beautiful sport. When I was much younger, he coached my Little League team, even though he was much younger than all of the other coaches. He just loves the game, and wanted to teach other kids my age the fundamentals of playing ball. We would always go out to batting cages whenever he had some extra money, and just get our hacks going. Every holiday, whether it be Christmas or April Fool's, we had a tradition to go out and practice (mainly because the field wasn’t busy). My brother has so much love for the game; he doesn’t stop grinding to get better every day. I am lucky enough to play with him, and turn double plays, since he’s a shortstop and I was a second baseman. My brother is a family man now, and doesn’t really have the time to play because he has two beautiful girls, Riley (2) and Scarlet (5 months). I have not seen my brother in almost a year now since I’ve joined the Army, and I truly miss having a great time together talking ball and just tossing the ball around. I am hoping to see him around the holidays, if I get a chance to go home for a couple of weeks, and have one of our traditional holiday practices. I love my brother - he's my role model and I look up to him. But, most importantly, I struck him out on a 3-2 fastball at our high school alumni game.
PRIZE: Along with winning the glove, the November 2018 winner will receive customized Nokona ShowBelts for him and his brother as the "Nokona Surprise".