The Upper Deck

Welcome to The Upper Deck, Baseball America’s daily look at the biggest stories around the game and some lighter fare.


Aug. 16 is a sad day for music and baseball fans. Two kings in their industries died on Aug. 16—Babe Ruth in 1948 and Elvis Presley in 1977. Both had big hits, both had prodigious appetites, both had lurid stories of romantic conquests and both have legacies that live on far beyond them.


There are signs Aaron Judge is shaking his post-All-Star Game slumber. He’s got hits in the past four games and homers in two of the past three against the Mets. That includes Wednesday’s majestic bomb that traveled an estimated 457 feet and left Citi Field at 117 mph, the eighth-fastest velocity according to Statcast.

The ball was hit so high, so far, so gone (sorry, John Sterling), that left fielder Yoenis Cespedes didn’t move any of his muscular muscles. On the other side of the ledger, Judge struck out for the 33rd consecutive game, a single-season big league record.


We’ve written about first pitches in this space before, most recently Hall of Fame writer Claire Smith’s on-target delivery on Monday before Game 1 of the Subway Series. But any discussion of first pitches inevitably veers toward wayward throws from those such as 50 Cent, Gary Dell’Abate and former Cincinnati mayor Mark Mallory.

Jordan Leandre might have them all beat. The 17-year-old cancer survivor, who used to sing the National Anthem before Red Sox games during the Jimmy Fund Telethon, threw out the first pitch Wednesday against the Cardinals and it was just a bit off target, unless that was his target. One thing for sure, neither man will ever forget that pitch.


The scout who signed Barry Larkin, Don Gullett and Paul O’Neill, among other Reds stars, has died. Gene Bennett was 87. Tracy Ringolsby had the story.


Injuries to Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes forced the Mets to employ catcher Travis d’Arnaud at third base for the first time in his pro career. But Mets manager Terry Collins, not wanting to take any chances, switched d’Arnaud and second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera, by far the more experienced and superior defender, depending on the batter on the situation. All told, Cabrera and d’Arnaud switched positions 18 times.


Jacob May began the season as the White Sox center fielder, but after going just 2-for-36 ended up back at Triple-A. May has fared a bit better at Charlotte, but he’s always been known as a defender first. To that end, check out his great catch above.


The Little League World Series begins today. Here’s a quick primer.