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Yesterday: A look at some combos

It’s still June and it’s a typical busy wedding month.

This month is especially important to me because my daughter and only child, Brooke, is got married Saturday. I hope she and my son-in-law-, Mitch, have a wonderful life ahead.

What does this have to do with sports? Specifically, nothing.

Yet, I will develop this into a connection.

In this week’s version of my Yesterday column – reminiscing about sports and pop culture in the 1960s, 70s, 80s – and sometimes before and beyond – I’ll take a look at some of baseball’s top double-play combinations through the years.

Also, I’ll recall some combos that worked and some that didn’t. Do you ever try Koogle or watch “Love Connection?” And who was Evers, Tinkers, and Chance?

Turn Two: Over the years, there have been a number of double-play combinations that have gained recognition. Here is one-man’s list, randomly placing them and listing some of our “local” teams (second baseman list first):

“Sweet” Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammel – This Tigers’ tandem is arguably one of the longest and most successful combinations, playing 19 years together from 1977-95. They played 1,874 games together and turned more than 1,100 double plays, which tops the majors. Both of them won three Gold Gloves apiece. Both of them were destined because they made their major league debuts on the same day.

They also batted at the top of the Tigers’ lineup and were instrumental in the Tigers’ 1984 World Series run. Trammel is a Hall of Famer, and Whitaker isn’t, but he should be.

Davey Johnson and Mark Belanger – You have to vividly remember this combo from the Orioles’ heydays in the 60s and early 70s.

They were in an infield that had human vacuum cleaner Brooks Robinson at third and Boog Powell at first.

Both Johnson and Belanger were unheralded, but they were instrumental in three-straight pennants (1969-71) and two championships from 1965-72.

They came through the Baltimore system together and shared three all-star appearances and five Gold Gloves between them. Johnson was a steady glove with a good bat, and Belanger - nicknamed the Balde for his 6-1, 170-pound build – couldn’t hit but could fit as well as Robinson.

Joe Morgan and Dave Concepcion – They were two integral parts of “The Big Red Machine.”

When mentioning combinations like Johnson and Belanger, Morgan and Concepcion are also overlooked. Morgan is recognized for all-around offensive play that generated two MVP awards, but he and Concepcion combined for 10 Gold Gloves (five each), 14 all-star appearances, three pennants, and two championships between them.

Concepcion was a solid hitter and had a rocket arm, especially getting balls deep in the hole and beyond the infield. He is truly one of the game’s underrated players.

Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins - This Phillies’ duo did it with their bats and their gloves from 2003-14. In the field, they are ranked second for double plays behind Whitaker and Trammel.

They led the Phillies to a pair of pennants and the 2008 championship. Between them, they had four Gold Gloves and seven all-star appearances.

Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter - The Yankees’ pair was more known for their bats – averaging more than 180 hits and 20 homers per season – but they did a decent job in the field.

Overall, they won a pennant and a championship and recorded 12 all-star games and five Gold Gloves between them from 2005-13.

Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese - The Brooklyn Dodgers’ dynamos were just that when they played together. Robinson played all around the infield and outfield, but had nine seasons at second base with just 68 errors there and a fielding percentage of .982.

Reese was recognized for a slick glove, yet had a field percentage of .962. Between them, they won five pennants and one championship along with 13 all-star appearances for both hall of famers.

We’ve All Heard It: One of baseball’s legendary references has been “Tinker to Evans to Chance.”

Well, it’s named after Cubs’ shortstop Joe Tinker and second baseman John Evers, who combined for 11 seasons, four pennants, and two championships from 1902-12, and threw to first baseman Frank Chance.

Pickin’ It Further: Growing up, here are some more double-play combinations that crossed my path: Dodgers’ Dave Lopes-Bill Russell (1973-81), Pirates’ Bill Mazeroski-Gene Alley (1964-68, 70-72) Cardinals Tommy Herr-Ozzie Smith (1982-87), Mets’ Felix Millan-Bud Harrelson (1973-75) Doug Flynn-Frank Taveras (1979-81), and Edgar Alfonso-Rey Ordonez (1999-2001).

More Phil-Ins: There were some other effective Phillies’ combinations from the 60s through the 90s.

Tony Taylor and Bobby Wine were two of the better infielders and played together from ’62-64, as well as Mickey Morandini and Kevin Stocker from ’93-97. Rubin Amaro Sr. was also a good glove man at short in the 60s.

In the 70s, Larry Bowa teamed with Denny Doyle (70-73), Dave Cash (74-76), Ted Sizemore (77-78), and Manny Trillo (80-81). All of these mergers were very good defensively. You can throw in Ivan DeJesus, who was known for his glove and an adequate bat. Placido Polanco could play second and third, and he was a solid player.

Love On The Boob Tube: In terms of relationships, you had to have watched the 60-70s hit, “The Newlywed Game,” the original broadcast that aired from 1966-74 hosted the legendary Bob Eubanks. In our youth, we all watched this show and waited to see who would get the “25-point bonus question.” We all chuckled when we heard the word, “whoopee.”

We also all remember “The Dating Game” that has been previously mentioned in this column, and it aired from 1965-79.

In the 80s, love was found on the tube with “Blind Date,” “Matchmaker,” and “Love Connection,” the latter featuring host Chuck Woolery, who was another iconic game host.

Love Is In The Air: Over the years, there have been many actresses who wed professional athletes.

In 1973 during spring training, Yankee pitchers Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich made major news when they swapped wives and families and remained in their new domiciles. Peterson passed away in April at age 82.

Steelers’ quarterback Terry Bradshaw wed professional skater JoJo Starbuck in 1975, but their lifestyles failed to mesh, as they were divorced eight years later.

There also was former Met and Red Ray Knight who wed pro golfer Nancy Lopez in 1982. They lasted 27 years until they were divorced in 2009.

Mostly Good and Some Bad: In terms of food, there have been plenty of good food combinations such as peanut butter and jelly, Smores, eggs and ketchup, and carrot cake to name a few. Or how many of us wanted Hamburger Helper as a kid?

Two that failed during the 70s were French Toastwiches that were frozen French toast slices that were filled with such combinations such as sausage and maple. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it through the decade.

Another failure was Koogle. Kraft Foods introduced it in 1971 as a peanut butter spread similar to Nutella. The smooth spread in four flavors - chocolate, cinnamon, banana, and vanilla - didn’t make your mouth stick together the way peanut butter did. I remember trying it and thought it was good, but it also didn’t make it out of the 70s.

Fallen Warrior: In case you missed it, Sika Anoa’i of the WWF tag-team “Wild Somoans” passed away June 25 at age 79. He and brother Apa won three tag-team titles beginning in 1980 managed by Captain Lou Albano. The Samoans still have a training center in Allentown.

Sika also wrestled in the AWA and Japan. He was the father of current WWE champion Roman Reins.

Memory Lane: Each week, I’ll look back at a former player, head coach, manager, or media personality from our yesterday.

Do you remember former Phillies’ shortstop Alex Arias? He primarily was a backup from 1998-2000. Arias hit a career-high 303 in 118 games in 1999, and he played in 244 games overall with a .272 average.

Overall, Arias played 11 seasons with a .265 average, spending time with the Marlins, Padres, Cubs, and Yankees.

Feedback: Your thoughts are always welcomed at tnsports@tnonline.com.