MLB FRANCHISE PLAYERS

The results of MLB’s Franchise Player polls – where I disagree my choice is in parens ( )

Greatest Living Players
Hank Aaron
Johnny Bench (Barry Bonds)
Sandy Koufax (Roger Clemens)
Willie Mays

Greatest Negro Leagues Players
Cool Papa Bell
Josh Gibson
Buck O’Neil
Satchel Paige

Greatest Pioneers
Walter Johnson
Nap Lajoie
Christy Mathewson
Cy Young

Angels
Vladimir Guerrero
Nolan Ryan
Tim Salmon
Mike Trout

Astros
Jeff Bagwell
Lance Berkman (J. R. Richards)
Craig Biggio
Nolan Ryan

Athletics
Dennis Eckersley
Jimmie Foxx
Rickey Henderson
Reggie Jackson

Blue Jays
Roberto Alomar
Joe Carter
Carlos Delgado
Roy Halladay (Dave Stieb)

Braves
Hank Aaron
Chipper Jones
Greg Maddux (Eddie Mathews)
Warren Spahn

Brewers
Cecil Cooper
Rollie Fingers
Paul Molitor
Robin Yount

Cardinals
Lou Brock (Frank Frisch)
Bob Gibson
Rogers Hornsby
Stan Musial

Cubs
Ernie Banks
Ryne Sandberg (Hack Wilson)
Ron Santo
Billy Williams

D-backs
Paul Goldschmidt
Luis Gonzalez
Randy Johnson
Curt Schilling

Dodgers
Don Drysdale
Sandy Koufax
Jackie Robinson
Duke Snider

Giants
Barry Bonds
Willie Mays
Willie McCovey (Christy Mathewson)
Buster Posey (Juan Marichal)

Indians
Bob Feller
Tris Speaker
Jim Thome
Omar Vizquel (Napolean Lajoie)

Mariners
Ken Griffey Jr.
Felix Hernandez
Edgar Martinez
Ichiro Suzuki (Alex Rodriguez)

Marlins
Jeff Conine
Mike Lowell
Gary Sheffield
Giancarlo Stanton

Mets
Keith Hernandez
Mike Piazza
Tom Seaver
David Wright

Nationals/Expos
Gary Carter
Andre Dawson
Vladimir Guerrero
Tim Raines

Orioles
Jim Palmer
Cal Ripken Jr.
Brooks Robinson
Frank Robinson

Padres
Tony Gwynn
Trevor Hoffman
Randy Jones
Dave Winfield

Phillies
Richie Ashburn
Steve Carlton
Robin Roberts
Mike Schmidt

Pirates
Roberto Clemente
Bill Mazeroski
Willie Stargell
Honus Wagner

Rangers
Adrian Beltre
Ivan Rodriguez
Nolan Ryan
Michael Young (Juan Gonzalez)

Rays
Evan Longoria
David Price
James Shields
Ben Zobrist

Red Sox
Pedro Martinez (Roger Clemens)
David Ortiz (Jim Rice or Dwight Evans)
Ted Williams
Carl Yastrzemski

Reds
Johnny Bench
Barry Larkin (Big Ed Rausch)
Joe Morgan
Pete Rose

Rockies
Andres Galarraga
Todd Helton
Troy Tulowitzki
Larry Walker

Royals
George Brett
Dan Quisenberry
Bret Saberhagen
Frank White

Tigers
Miguel Cabrera
Ty Cobb
Hank Greenberg
Al Kaline

Twins
Rod Carew
Harmon Killebrew
Tony Oliva
Kirby Puckett (Bert Blyleven)

White Sox
Harold Baines (Eddie Collins)
Paul Konerko (Luke Appling)
Minnie Minoso (Ted Lyons)
Frank Thomas

Yankees
Joe DiMaggio (or Yogi Berra)
Lou Gehrig
Mickey Mantle
Babe Ruth

COUNTRY HERITAGE – TOMPALL & THE GLASER BROTHERS

RIP Tompall Glaser (1933-2013)

My thanks to Louis C. Glaser, son of Chuck Glaser, for some valuable information he provided

It really is too bad the Glaser Brothers couldn’t get along with each other on a more sustained basis, as they truly were an amazing act to see live. The three Glaser brothers had voices that overlapped, and with their near identical phrasing they could take a lyric that started at the lowest notes and work their way up and down the scales, taking over from each other in mid-word. It was wondrous to see and required an audience’s full attention to know who was singing at any given moment. Moreover, the Glasers were capable of vocal harmony equal to that of any other great brother group. I only saw Tompall and the Glaser Brothers live one time, and yet that one occasion (at the 1st International Festival of Country Music in Wembley, England, in 1969) remains as indelibly etched in my memory as if it occurred yesterday.

Tompall Glaser (b. 9/3/33) was the fourth oldest of six children born to Louis and Marie Glaser in the farming community of Spalding, Nebraska. As a child, he taught his younger brothers Chuck (b. 2/27/36 – baritone) and Jim (b. 12/16/37 – high tenor) to sing harmony to his lead vocals and developed the trio into an accomplished vocal act during the mid 1950s. As often occurred in those days, the act was just getting rolling when Tompall received his “invitation” to enter the army, where he served during 1956-57. During this interlude, brothers Jim and Chuck performed on radio in Hastings, Nebraska, and, assisted by their father Louis, performed on various local shows. Their big break occurred in late 1957 when the boys, with brother Tompall again available, earned an appearance on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts, a national radio show on CBS. Their performance caught the ear of Marty Robbins, who signed the boys to his Robbins Records label and released the single “Five Penny Nickel.” This record failed to make any waves, and with Robbins unable to devote much attention to promoting their career, he sold their contract to Decca Records (later MCA) in 1959.

By this time Tompall and the Glaser Brothers had made the move to Nashville, but again were sidelined by Uncle Sam who extended an invitation to Chuck to join the U S Army (1959-61). During this period, the Glaser Brothers found frequent studio work as background singers, the most notable example of this being Jim Glaser’s trio work on “El Paso” and other songs on Marty Robbins’ mega-hit album Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs. Tompall and Jim Glaser wrote one of the tracks on the album, “Running Gun”.

After Chuck was released from the US Army, the Glaser Brothers landed a spot on Johnny Cash’s road show, which brought as a side benefit an association with Cash’s longtime friend and business associate Jack Clement. In 1966, Clement got them a contract with MGM Records, which wasn’t a major player in Country Music but a label with a good pedigree (Hank Williams Sr. & Jr., Marvin Rainwater, Sheb Wooley/Ben Colder). One of the songs the group recorded was “Streets of Baltimore” which was co-written by Tompall Glaser and Harlan Howard. Unfortunately, the hit version of the song went to Bobby Bare. During this time Clement produced the group’s records and provided them with material.

While with MGM the brothers (always billed as Tompall and the Glaser Brothers) had a number of moderately successful singles and recorded a number of terrific album tracks. Their biggest success on the label were “California Girl (And the Tennessee Square)” which made it to #11 (#93 pop) and, in 1971, “Rings,” a cover of a pop hit by Cymarron. “Rings” went to #7 on Billboard, #5 on Cashbox and #1 on Record World. The accompanying LP, Rings and Things, was first rate, with a heavy western swing feel to many of the songs, including “Back In Each Other’s Arms Again.” Unfortunately, “Rings” failed to generate further commercial success and the group took a hiatus in 1973 to focus on other business matters. One of these was their publishing company, originally spurred on by Chuck Glaser’s discovery of John Hartford, and later, Dick Feller. Also, in 1968, Jim Glaser saw one of his compositions, “Woman, Woman,” become a major hit for the pop group Gary Puckett and the Union Gap.

After the group’s breakup, Tompall Glaser focused his attention on, Hillbilly Central, the recording studio owned by the three brothers until it was sold during the 1980s. Hillbilly Central became one of the incubation chambers for the “outlaw” movement of the 1970s. It was at Hillbilly Central that Waylon Jennings recorded his landmark album Honky Tonk Heroes. Other free spirits such as Billy Joe Shaver and Richard “Kinky” Friedman also recorded albums there. In 1975, in a shrewd marketing ploy, RCA issued the landmark album Wanted! The Outlaws which coupled current tracks from Jessi Colter & Waylon, some old Willie Nelson tracks and a couple of leased tracks of Tompall Glaser. The resulting mishmash was the first Gold Album in country music history. Unfortunately, Tompall was unable to capitalize on the success of the album, and his often prickly personality (coupled with Waylon’s drug use) ultimately led to his split with Waylon. As a solo artist, Tompall had only one real hit single, the politically incorrect ditty “Put Another Log on the Fire (Male Chauvinist National Anthem)”. This song peaked at #21, making it Tompall’s biggest solo hit. Albums for MGM and ABC failed to generate much attention.

During this same period, Jim Glaser plugged on, but failed to achieve any hits, while brother Chuck ran the publishing company, his singing career derailed by a stroke in 1975 that affected his vocal cords and left him temporarily unable to sing. Chuck had success as a producer, producing artists such as Hank Snow.

In 1978, the brothers achieved an uneasy reconciliation and reformed Tompall and the Glaser Brothers. One big hit followed, a cover of the Kristofferson song “Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)” which went to #2 on the country charts for both Billboard and Cashbox. Unfortunately, this rapprochement was only temporary, as in 1983 Jim Glaser split to pursue a solo career. Jim was replaced by Shaun Neilson, an arrangement that continued only briefly.

After the group split, Tompall continued to produce records for a while but by the end of the 1980s he sold Hillbilly Central and returned to being an active performer until his health deteriorated leadng to his retirement in 2006. He died on August 13, 2013, aged 79.

Chuck Glaser continued to work behind the scenes producing records and syndicated television shows.

Jim Glaser saw some momentary success as a solo artist. In the early 1980s, Jim began recording as a solo artist for the newly-formed independent label Noble Vision Records. The first release, “When You’re Not A Lady,” stayed on the national charts for 34 weeks and in 1984 “You’re Gettin’ To Me Again” reached the top of the charts, the only Billboard #1 single achieved by any of the Glasers. That same year Jim Glaser was voted “Top New Male Vocalist of the Year” by the Academy of Country Music. Jim’s first solo album, The Man In The Mirror, ultimately had six top-twenty singles that were pulled from it. Shortly thereafter, Noble Vision Records was purchased by MCA; after a few albums that received little promotion from the label, Jim asked to be released from his contract.

Jim has a website www.jimglaser.com where his most recent CD can be purchased and a novel he has written

DISCOGRAPHY

VINYL

Most of the albums issued by Tompall and the Glaser Brothers were on MGM. The following are recommended but there are also some other albums on Decca and MGM that might be found:

Tompall and the Glaser Brothers (1967) contains the hit single “Gone On The Other Hand” (#24 Billboard/#20 Cashbox), a song that featured Big Joe Talbot on steel guitar, plus the group’s recordings of “The Last Thing On My Mind” and “Streets of Baltimore.”

Through The Eyes of Love (1967) features the title track (#27) plus “Moods of Mary” (#42) and the group’s take on “Woman, Woman.”

Wonderful World (1968) features minor hit singles in “One of These Days” (#36) and a nice recording of Jack Clement’s “Got Leavin’ On Her Mind,” a minor national/major southeast regional hit in 1968 for Mac Wiseman.

Now Country (1969) showcases “Wicked California” (#24) and “California Girl” (#11).

Award Winners (1971) is mostly covers with an excellent take of “Faded Love” released as the single (#22).

Rings and Things (1972) is the group’s masterpiece, with “Rings” (#5 Cashbox/#7 Billboard/#1 Record World) and “Sweet Love Me Good Woman” (#19 Cashbox/#23 Billboard) plus an eclectic mix of swing and vocal harmony efforts. My favorite of all the group’s tracks, “Back In Each Other’s Arms Again”, is on this album.

Charlie (1973) is ostensibly a group effort but in actuality a solo album by Tompall Glaser.

After the MGM years Tompall reunited with his brothers in 1981 for Loving Her Was Easier, followed by one last album in 1982, After All These Years, both on Elektra.

I don’t know of any solo albums by Chuck Glaser.

Jim Glaser issued three albums on Noble Vision: 1983’s Man In The Mirror, which has all four of Jim’s top twenty hits (“The Man in The Mirror” “If I Could Only Dance With You”, “You’re Getting To Me Again”, and “Let Me Down Easy”), Past The Point of No Return (1985), and Everybody Knows I’m Yours (1986). This last album is on Noble Vision/MCA.

Virtually all of Tompall Glaser’s solo efforts are available on CD from Bear Family (see below).

CD

There are two readily available CDs of Tompall and the Glaser Brothers. The Best of Tompall and the Glaser Brothers, issued on Collector’s Choice Music, has 18 hits from the group plus six solo recordings by Tompall Glaser. This CD is now out of print, but can be found with a little effort.

The other CD was released in April 2012 and is a two-fer released on the Hux label, Award Winners/Rings And Things.

You may be able to find the out of print twofer of the Electra years titled Lovin’ Her Was Easier/After All These Years.

Jim Glaser has one CD currently available titled Me And My Dream. This appears to be recordings from around 2002. With luck you might find the CD of The Man in the Mirror, but that is all that is available.

On the other hand, Tompall Glaser’s solo efforts are well covered by Bear Family in the form of four CDs: The Rogue, The Outlaw, My Notorious Youth (aka Hillbilly Central V1), and Another Log On The Fire (aka Hillbilly Central V2). These can be obtained from the Bear Family website

A group called The Brothers Glaser issued Five Penny Nickle, a tribute album to Tompall and the Glaser Brothers. This foursome consists of sons of an older Glaser brother who was not part of the Tompall and the Glaser Brothers. They have a website at www.thebrothersglaser.com –in looking at their photographs, there is no denying the family resemblance – no one could doubt that they are nephews of the Glaser Brothers.

COUNTRY HERITAGE – EDDIE RABBITT

Edward Thomas (Eddie) Rabbitt had a seventeen year run as a recording artist on the Billboard country charts with some success on the pop charts. He also enjoyed success as a songwriter, writing many of his own hits and supplying songs to other artists. Ultimately, 20 of his recordings reached #1 on either Billboard or Cashbox (usually both).

Rabbitt was the son of Irish immigrants, born in Brooklyn, New York, but raised in nearby East Orange, New Jersey. His father was an oil refinery worker who played accordion and fiddle, and who performed Irish and country music in local venues. Surrounded by music, Rabbitt learned the guitar at an early age and by 12, he had become quite proficient. By his teen years, Rabbitt was extremely knowledgeable on Irish and country music; in fact, to the end of his life he regarded country music as an extension of Irish music, and often used minor chords to create an Irish feel.

When Rabbitt was 16, his parents divorced. After the divorce he dropped out of school, hoping to make music his career. Later, however, he would take courses at night school and earn his diploma.

Rabbitt was employed briefly as a mental hospital attendant during the late 1950s, performing music locally whenever possible. As a result of winning a local talent contest, he was given an hour of Saturday night radio show time to broadcast a live performance from a bar in Paterson, New Jersey. In 1964, Rabbitt signed his first record deal with 20th Century Records and released the singles “Next to the Note” and “Six Nights and Seven Days,” neither of which charted.

In 1968, Rabbitt moved to Nashville where he began his career as a songwriter. According to legend, on his first night in Nashville, he wrote “Working My Way Up to the Bottom,” which Roy Drusky recorded as an album track for his In A New Dimension album. In order to survive, Rabbitt worked at miscellaneous odd jobs such as driving a truck and picking fruit. Eventually, he was hired as a staff writer for the Hill & Range Publishing Company and received a reported salary of $37.50 per week.

The first blush of real success for Eddie Rabbitt occurred in 1969 when Elvis Presley recorded his song “Kentucky Rain.” The song charted #16 pop and #31 country for Elvis, selling over a million copies in the process. Rabbitt continued to write, with the next milestone occurring with a song idea that came to him while eating some breakfast cereal. Something about the lyric “…Milk and honey and Captain Krunch and you in the morning…” appealed to record producer Tom Collins, who was working for Charley Pride at the time. Collins saw Rabbitt perform the song live, and brought the song to Pride, who thought it would be perfect for Ronnie Milsap, at that time opening shows for Pride. “Pure Love” would hit #1 for Milsap in 1974, and lead to a contract offer from Elektra Records for Rabbitt later that year.

His first single for Elektra, “You Get To Me,” hit #34 and the next two singles, both released in 1975, “Forgive And Forget” and “I Should Have Married You,” barely missed the top 10. These three songs, along with a recording of “Pure Love,” were included on Rabbitt’s self titled debut album in 1975.

The next single, the very traditional “Drinkin’ My Baby (Off My Mind),” kicked off a long series of hits that included four songs that also charted among the top 10 pop songs “Drivin’ My Life Away,” “Step By Step,” “You And I”” (with Crystal Gayle), and “I Love A Rainy Night.” The latter song also topped Billboard’s pop and adult contemporary charts.

As the seventies wore on, Eddie’s music began drifting away from traditional country music into the more pop-flavored sounds of the 80s, such as the three biggest pop hits cited above. After 1982’s “You And I,” his singles and albums were issued on the Warner Brothers label, the result of a label merger with Elektra. In late 1985, Eddie moved over to RCA, where his success continued unabated. Following the death of his infant son in 1985, Rabbitt put his career on hold, although RCA had some recordings to release, issuing four top ten singles. In 1986, a duet with Juice Newton, “Both To Each Other” soared to #1.

Rabbitt returned to recording in 1988, scoring #1 records with “I Wanna Dance With You” and a remake of Dion Denucci’s 1961 pop hit “The Wanderer.” In 1990, he moved to Universal/Capitol, and with the leap came a return to a more traditional country sound; especially notable from this era is “On Second Thought,” his last #1 and my favorite of all of his recordings.

Eddie Rabbitt would issue four albums on Capitol before exiting the label.

In 1997, Rabbit was diagnosed with lung cancer. While seemingly on the rebound he issued his final album titled Beating The Odds on the Intersound label. Sadly, it was not to be. Rabbitt passed away in May, 1998, at the age of 56.

For his career, Eddie placed forty-three songs on the Billboard country charts (twenty-six top five entries), with fourteen of his songs placing on Billboard’s pop charts.

Rabbitt was one of the phalanx of Nashville songwriters who entered into the realm of more introspective and contemplative material. He felt a personal responsibility as an entertainer to serve as a good role model and was an advocate for many charitable organizations including the Special Olympics, Easter Seals, Muscular Dystrophy Association and United Cerebral Palsy. Rabbitt was active in politics and gave permission to Senator Bob Dole to use his song “American Boy” during Dole’s presidential campaign in 1996.

Discography

Vinyl

Eddie Rabbitt issued many vinyl albums. Since he was a big seller, most of his albums should be available online (or, perhaps, in your favorite used record store). The earlier albums (1970s) are more traditional sounding than their later (post 1978 counterparts), until you get to his output on Capitol. All of his albums contain interesting songs; the variable is the production and the way they are framed. Unfortunately, Eddie did not live long enough to recast his later Elektra/Warner Brothers recordings with more traditional settings, or perhaps as bluegrass.

CD

Currently, Rabbitt is woefully under-represented on CD, with only some Greatest Hits collections being available (mostly of the Elektra/Warner Brothers years, but also some Intersound remakes). During his lifetime, many of Rabbitt’s later recordings were released on cassette and CD, so used record shops may have copies of music from the RCA and Capitol years. None of the Capitol or RCA material is in print.

The best available collection is the Rhino Platinum Collection which has twenty-two songs from the Elektra/Warner Brothers years of 1975-1980, including Eddie’s version of the rarely reissued “Pure Love”, which was a major hit for Ronnie Milsap. This collection is about half hits and half album tracks. Among the more significant omissions is “Step by Step”, Eddie’s second biggest pop hit.

A few years ago, there was a better representation of Eddie Rabbitt material available on CD. Most of the following CDs are out of print, although it may be possible to find them in used record shops or from online dealers specializing in cutouts and used discs. Among the treasures worth searching for are the Warner Brothers albums Horizon (“I Love A Rainy Night” and “Drivin’ My Life Away”); Rocky Mountain Music (title song plus “Two Dollars In The Jukebox” and “Drinkin’ My Baby”); and 36 All-Time Greatest Hits. Formerly available from places like Costco, Sam’s Club and Collector’s Choice Music, the three-disk 36 All-Time Greatest Hits is misnamed as it has only about a dozen actual hits, with the rest being album cuts from the Electra/Warner Brothers years. Several double-packs of his Elektra/Warner Brothers albums also were issued in recent years.

The Intersound album Beating The Odds was reissued after Rabbitt’s death as From The Heart–The Last Recordings. It had six new songs and six pretty decent remakes of older hits. Until recently, it was the only place to get any CD versions of two of the Capitol hits “On Second Thought” and “American Boy.”

In 2009, Rhino released Eddie Rabbitt: Number One Hits, which contains the original versions of all of Eddie’s hits to chart at number one on Billboard. This is the album to get if you want only one Eddie Rabbitt CD. Unfortunately, it seems to have gone out of print, so if you see a copy, grab it.