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Joey Votto makes trade with Reds fan in Pittsburgh

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto has made a name for himself over the years not only with his bat but with his unique way of interacting with fans.

>> Read more trending news 

On Monday in Pittsburgh, during the fourth inning of a game the Reds lost 5-1 to the Pirates, Votto saw a fan in the stands near the Reds dugout with a shirt reading, “Votto for President.”

According to the Reds, Votto liked it so much, he traded the fan a jersey for the T-shirt and signed the jersey, “More like prime minister.” Votto is from Toronto.

Justin Verlander, Kate Upton tout dog adoption awareness at Astros' promotion

Pitcher Justin Verlander and his wife, model Kate Upton, hosted their fourth annual Grand Slam Adoption event before Sunday’s baseball game between the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels at Minute Maid Park, KHOU reported.

>> Read more trending news 

The couple, who are expecting their first child, promote awareness for local animal adoption agencies, the television station reported.

The couple posed with several puppies up for adoption through the Houston SPCA, The Houston Chronicle reported.

“We both had dogs. It was kind of a non-starter if we didn’t love dogs in our relationship,” Verlander said at a news conference.

“Well we both grew up with dogs. Getting involved with dog rescue was important for both of us,” Upton said. “So combining adoptable dogs and matching them with veterans with suffer from PTSD was a real passion for both of us.”

The money raised this weekend from a silent auction and Sunday’s event will be used toward training service animals for veterans, KHOU reported.

Astros fan, 7, gets healing gifts after being hit in jaw by Bregman line drive

A 7-year-old boy whose jaw was fractured when hit by a line drive before his first-ever Houston Astros game will have better memories of his second contest.

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Graham McAnelly was hit when Astros’ third baseman Alex Bregman hit a line drive during batting practice three weeks ago, KHOU reported.

Saturday night, McAnelly returned to Minute Maid Park and met Bregman, who signed a ball for the boy and gave him a pair of batting gloves, the television station reported.

“I smashed you? I'm sorry dude," Bregman said when he met Graham.

Bregman was apologetic as he talked to McAnelly, who said the Astros star was his favorite player.

“That was my bad, and I had to get him some BG, some batting gloves, so I'm sorry,” Bregman told KHOU. “And it won’t happen again, gotta keep (the ball) fair.” 

McAnelly was sitting in the left field stands when he was hit. He stayed at the game with his family, holding an ice pack to keep the swelling down, KHOU reported.

The second time around at Minute Maid Park, the boy held some special gifts.

“I got his glove and his autograph," McAnelly told the television station. “He said I was like a trooper, and he said I was very nice.”

Bregman kept his word on straightening out his line drives, hitting his 26th homer of the season Saturday night as the Astros rallied past the Los Angeles Angels, 7-3.

Nun wows crowd with 'perfect pitch' at White Sox game

Sister Mary Jo Sobiek made quite the impression on baseball fans at a White Sox game in Chicago over the weekend.

WLS reported that, at the Sox game against the Kansas City Royals, the nun, who is with Marian Catholic High School, bounced the ball off her bicep before prepping to throw the honorary first pitch.

She delivered strike to White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito, who was impressed.

>> Read more trending news 

“That was awesome,” Giolito told WLS after the game. “She had a whole routine. She had it planned out. I was just lucky to be back there. She threw a perfect pitch.”

As for her bicep move, Sister Mary Jo said it was to relax her nerves.

“I had to do something to take my mind off it,” she told WLS. “It’s too awkward to just stand and throw from the jump and I had to just do something to put me in motion.”

She also decided to pitch from the top of the mound rather than closer to the plate.

“As an athlete, you gotta be all in, and I knew that my coaches and my teammates, when they saw that, they would be like, ‘You gotta do the real thing,’ and it's all or nothing,” she said. “I had to do it from the top.”

Sister Mary Jo said she was chosen for the honor at the game, where Marian Catholic was celebrating its 60th anniversary, because of her athleticism.

“I had a little bit of athletic ability,” she said. “I was probably the most likely candidate, because of my youth and my agility.”

The Sox lost to the Royals 3-1, but the impression Sister Mary Jo left on the crowd beforehand remained.

“She was pretty good, actually,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “We talked to her a little bit but before we were talking to her, she was talking to someone and she wanted to warm up. She had a mitt and a ball. She gave him the mitt. She stepped back at about 45 feet and threw a bullet.”

Mickey Mantle jersey from 1964 sells for record $1.32 million

A road jersey worn by New York Yankees Hall of Fame outfielder Mickey Mantle in 1964 sold for $1.32 million Saturday night, Sports Collectors Daily reported. The final price in the Heritage Auctions Summer Platinum Night sale, which included a 20 percent buyer’s premium, was a record price paid for any Mantle jersey.

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Last year, Heritage Auctions sold an autographed Mantle road jersey from 1968, his final major-league baseball season, for $486,000, Sports Collectors Daily reported.

The uniform was photo-matched to Game 6 and Game 7 of the 1964 World Series in St. Louis, when Mantle hit the final two of his 18 World Series home runs, according to Heritage Auctions’ catalog listing. The games represented Mantle’s final appearance in the World Series; he appeared in the Fall Classic in 12 of his 18 major-league seasons.baseball

The jersey was classified as a 9 out of 10 by the MEARS grading service and was worn again by Mantle during the 1965 baseball season, Sports Collectors Daily reported.

Autographed baseball from first Hall of Fame class fetches record $623K

A baseball signed by 11 members of the original National Baseball Hall of Fame class in 1939 sold for a record $623,368.80 Sunday at SCP Auctions’ Summer Premier Auction, Sports Collectors Daily reported.

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The Reach Official American League baseball contained the signatures of Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Tris Speaker, George Sisler, Walter Johnson, Connie Mack, Nap Lajoie, Eddie Collins and Grover Cleveland Alexander, the auction house said in its catalog listing.

The winning bid set a record for an autographed baseball from a non-game used ball, Sports Collectors Daily reported.

The first vote for the Hall of Fame was held in 1936, with Cobb, Johnson, Ruth, Wagner and Christy Mathewson enshrined. Over the next two years, 21 more players, executives and baseball pioneers were elected.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame opened in June 1939, in Cooperstown, New York, and the 12 living Hall of Fame players were invited to the dedication ceremony. The only member to decline was Lou Gehrig, who was unable to attend, Sports Collectors Daily reported. Gehrig was in Rochester, Minnesota, where he would be diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a disease he would die from two years later.

The ball belonged to Marv Owen, a third baseman for the Chicago White Sox. Future Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg, who played with Owen in Detroit, brought two baseballs to the ceremony but told Owen he was too shy to ask the players for their autographs, SCP Auctions said.

When Owen got the players to sign the baseballs, Greenberg allowed Owen to keep one of them, SCP Auctions said.

Owen stored the ball in a fur-lined glove that was housed in a safety deposit box, SCP Auctions wrote in its listing. After Owen died in 1991, the family kept the ball. It was sold for $55,000 at a Christie’s auction in 1997, Sports Collectors Daily reported.

Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb apologizes for offensive tweets

As Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb came close to throwing a no-hitter Sunday afternoon, some offensive social-media posts from his past resurfaced on Twitter

The racist, sexist and anti-gay tweets that came to light Sunday were posted by Newcomb in 2011 and 2012, when he was 18 years old. 

>> Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves legend, hits for emotional cycle in Hall of Fame speech

About a half-hour after talking to the media about his 8-2/3 hitless innings against the Dodgers, Newcomb reappeared in the clubhouse to address the very different subject

“I just want to apologize for any insensitive material,” Newcomb said. “It was a long time ago – six, seven years ago – saying some stupid stuff with friends. I know I’ve grown a lot since then. I didn’t mean anything by it. It was just something stupid that I did a long time ago.” 

The revelation was reminiscent of the disclosure during the All-Star game earlier this month of similarly offensive tweets by Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Josh Hader when he was in high school. 

Newcomb said he saw that his tweets had resurfaced on social media when he looked at his phone shortly after Sunday’s game. 

>> Read more trending news 

“I just felt it would be good to kind of address it right away,” he said. 

Newcomb’s teammates had left the stadium by the time he discussed the issue with the media.

“I think people that know me know that’s not the kind of person I am,” Newcomb said.

The Braves released this statement: "We are aware of the tweets that surfaced after today's game and have spoken to Sean, who is incredibly remorseful. Regardless of how long ago he posted them, he is aware of the insensitivity and is taking full responsibility. We find the tweets hurtful and incredibly disappointing. ... We will work together with Sean toward mending the wounds created in our community."

>> See the tweet here

Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves legend, hits for emotional cycle in Hall of Fame speech

His mother, Lynne Jones, once noted that her boy, Chipper, was destined for big things at the ballpark.

“Somebody said early on, ‘He looks good in a uniform; he was put on earth to play baseball.’ And I think he was,” she said

And the kid – well, he’s 46 now – is not so bad as an orator, either.

With the biggest speech a ballplayer can ever give, Chipper Jones, the wall-to-wall Atlanta Brave, hit all the right notes during his Sunday induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. His acceptance speech – 20-minutes, 4-seconds long for those keeping score – displayed an infielder’s range, alternating between humor, humility, gratitude and love.

MORE FROM AJC.COM:

>> Fans soak in Chipper’s moment

>> Complete text of Chipper Jones’ speech

>> Chipper Jones’ Hall of Fame plaque

>> PHOTOS: Chipper Jones enters Hall of Fame

“For me, it all started in the little town of Pierson, Florida. I was just a country kid from a town with two caution lights, the self-proclaimed fern capital of the world. How do I of all people end up here on a stage with these iconic players, my childhood heroes, the best players in baseball history?” he told the 53,000 gathered in a grassy field about a mile from where his bronze likeness will hang in the Hall.

It’s a likeness that he approves of, by the way. “It’s pretty good,” he said after the speech was done and he had a chance to study his plaque. “They could have done worse. I’ve had some bobbleheads that looked like I was in a train wreck. But that one was pretty good. I liked it.” 

The answer to that question Jones posed to begin his speech, the one about how ever did he get here: Become one of only nine players in major league history with at least 400 home runs, a .300 batting average, a .400 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage. Serve as the signature, everyday player for a franchise for more than 18 seasons while establishing a trademark habit for winning. 

>> PHOTOS: 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony

Behind him on the stage sat 51 returning Hall of Famers, their numbers including the five others most responsible for the Braves epic run of 14 straight division titles – and one World Series win in Jones’ rookie year of 1995. Also on hand was the one player among all the greats whose introduction and appearance on stage, cane in hand, inspired a standing ovation from the fans in attendance: Hank Aaron.

In the front row was his family, for whom Jones saved his warmest words. Of course, he did. Jones was literally wearing his emotions Sunday – the lining of the blue sport coat he wore to induction was decorated with reproductions of family photos.

For his parents, Larry Sr. and Lynne: “Not a day goes by that I’m not thankful for all that both of you have done. I love you both beyond words.”

For his six children: “I want you to step away from my shadow and blaze your own trail in whatever you’re passionate about. Believe in what you do, love whatever you do. And know that I love you unconditionally, and will support you in whatever path you choose.”

For his wife, who is expecting the couple’s son Monday yet sat there in the warm summer sun: “I didn’t meet my wife Taylor until I was 40 years old, playing my last year with the Braves in 2012. She changed my life forever. It took me 40 years and some major imperfections in me (clearing his throat) along the way to find my true perfection. Now we’ve taken our two families and blended them together and it has given me what I’ve been searching for my entire life – true happiness.”

Jones said he and his wife were not planning on returning to Atlanta until Monday evening, following a round-table and long autograph signing by all the new Hall of Famers that day. The couple is prepared to have their child – who will be named Cooper – in the town for which he is named. Or, to handle any other eventuality between here and home.

“Taylor’s mom is a nurse and we have another nurse traveling with us. If it does happen in the air we’re in good shape,” he said.

Asked whether his wife could go home ahead of him Sunday night, Jones said, “Technically she could. But if I’m here, she wants to be here.”

Jones was the opening act to a huge class of inductees – the others joining the Braves third baseman being pitchers Jack Morris and Trevor Hoffman, infielders Alan Trammel and Jim Thome and outfielder Vladimir Guerrero.

Arriving at the scene Sunday afternoon, where cornfields suddenly give way to a great mass of fans staging their own baseball carnival, Jones found himself overwhelmed, thinking, “Man, I don’t know if I’m ready for this.”

As he was introduced with video highlights of his career, he told himself to look away, and just listen, lest his emotions take over. “I break down before I even get up there; I’m going to be a hot mess for the next 15 minutes,” he said later, recounting his thoughts.

And as he spoke, he attempted to fix his gaze beyond his family in the front row, so he wouldn’t be tempted to lose it.

It worked. He came off as smooth as a 5-4-3 double play. Jones made it through without a hitch.

There was the expected jab at one of his Hall of Fame teammates, because that’s what guys who share a clubhouse do. “Smoltzy (Braves pitcher John Smoltz, who is follically challenged) always pitched like his hair was on fire, which makes sense looking at him now.” And then he worked the body, bringing up the 85 Smoltz shot in the opening round of this year’s U.S. Senior Open.

He thanked those who helped him through the organization after the Braves made him the No. 1 overall pick in 1990, spinning once again the tale of how late Hall of Famer Willie Stargell told Jones to start swinging a heavier bat, changing everything.

He recalled Stargell inspecting Jones’ choice of lumber after a shaky rookie league season: “He picked up my bat and said, ‘Son, I pick my teeth with bigger pieces of wood than this.’ He suggested I swing with the biggest bat I could get around on 90 mph.

“I swung that heavy bat until the day I retired.”

He saved the highest praise for his manager, who also owns a little piece of the Hall of Fame:

“One man never stopped believing in me: That man, Bobby Cox.

“Bobby, you believed in me before I truly I believed I belonged in the big leagues. And on opening day 1995 Bobby put me in the three-hole in front of Fred McGriff and David Justice. You knew hitting me in front of those two dudes would give me a lot of fastballs – and it worked.

“Bobby, next to my parents you had the biggest influence on my career of anybody.”

>> Read more trending news 

Jones spoke Sunday from the unique position of a player who forged the entirety of his stardom in one city. Atlanta has had no other athlete play more games with its name written across his chest than Jones.

That had to be a big part of his speech. And, so, he wrapped his speech up speaking to the Braves fans, in almost perfect summary:

“You are the fans I imagined in my head, playing in the back yard all those years ago. You’re why I loved coming to the plate with the game on the line, “Crazy Train” (his walk-up song) blaring in the background, and why I wanted so badly to come through for you. You have believed in me since I was an 18-year-old kid and you were still there for me for my swan song in 2012.

“You cheered me on through the career highs and stuck by me through life’s lows. I will never forget that. You’re the reason I never wanted to play anywhere else. I couldn’t be prouder to go in the Hall of Fame today with an Atlanta 'A' on my cap. I love you guys. Thank you.”

Then he flashed the sign language message for “I love you,” as he had so often after some of his biggest moments, after rounding the bases. 

Photos: American League wins 2018 MLB All-Star Game

The AL pulled out an 8-6 win over the National League at the 89th MLB All-Star Game at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

Missouri bobblehead collector turns hobby into fundraiser for man with cancer

A Missouri man who owns more than 500 Kansas City Royals bobbleheads turned his passion into a fundraiser for a man suffering from colon cancer, the Kansas City Star reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Bryan Schmuck, 42, owns every bobblehead given out at Royals baseball games since the team began the promotion in 2002

In January, the Lee’s Summit resident met Mike Comstock before a Royals Fanfest event. The two men struck up a friendship, and when Schmuck found out last month that Comstock, 30, had Stage 3 colon cancer he decided to help, the Star reported.

On June 18, Schmuck started a fundraiser for Comstock on Facebook. For $3, a contestant received a slot in a drawing for rare, donated bobbleheads, the Star reported.

Schmuck wanted to sell at least 200 slots, but after five days he had sold 502, the newspaper reported. He told the Star that he received so many bobblehead donations that he had to refuse offers.

Schmuck raised $1,350, the Star reported.

Brian Burger paid for 16 slots and donated bobbleheads.

“It’s the first time I’d ever seen something like that. What he was asking for was a good cause, and I’d want someone to do the same for me,” Burger told the Star.

Comstock, who began his chemotherapy on June 28, said he was overwhelmed by the donations.

“It took a big weight off my shoulders,” he told the newspaper. “After what Bryan did, I still cannot thank the bobblehead community enough.”

“People may think bobbleheads are weird but everyone has their thing,” Schmuck said. “You never know how you can help someone who may need it most.”

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