Sunday, August 27, 2006

Why Shouldn't Girls Play Baseball?

Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

It's time for the U.S. to stop discouraging girls from the national pastime.
By Jennifer Ring

JENNIFER RING, a professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Reno, is the author of "Stolen Bases: Why American Girls Don't Play Baseball," to be published next year.

August 27, 2006

IF YOU'RE A baseball fan, you should know what took place Aug. 1-6. Eighteen American baseball players flew to Taipei, Taiwan, as the best women's team in the United States — and returned to Los Angeles as the best women's team in the world.

You didn't know that? The Japanese media covered the tournament, held at Tienmu Baseball Stadium, that included teams from Canada, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Cuba and the U.S. But there was no ESPN booth, no U.S. reporters, and it was difficult to find news of the games even online, which probably explains why you missed hearing about the tournament. What a shame.

This year's U.S. team fielded some returning veterans from the inaugural 2004 team that competed in Edmonton, Canada. It included members of the Colorado Silver Bullets professional team of 1994-97. The team's two youngest members are 15 years old, and the oldest will be 40 this year. The team was coached by Julie Croteau, the first woman to play on a men's NCAA baseball team (St. Mary's College of Maryland) and the first woman to coach a men's Division I baseball team (University of Massachusetts). Now she is the first female manager to win a gold medal at the Women's World Cup Tournament.

My 18-year-old daughter, Lilly Jacobson, was a member of Team USA. She was selected after a three-stage national tryout. Neither of us had ever heard of a national women's baseball team — or of any organized women's baseball in the U.S. — until research for a book I'm writing led me to Jim Glennie, president of the American Women's Baseball Federation. When he learned that Lilly played high school ball, he invited her to try out for the team.

Lilly has played baseball with boys all her life, right through high school. After she completed Little League, coaches at the next level and parents who thought she shouldn't squander her athletic talent pressured her to switch to softball. My daughter resisted because she's good at baseball and loves the skills the sport demands — fielding agility, base-running savvy and hitting a hard ball. To Lilly, baseball is simply a more exciting, intricate game, with a long and colorful history.
Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times
Click here for the complete article

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

St. Louis Cardinals Slugger Pujols Gets Babe Ruth Test at Washington University

From University Communications
Washington University in St. Louis
By Gerry Everding
Aug. 22, 2006

Baseball purists, especially those of Yankee allegiance, might argue that St. Louis Cardinals homerun-hitting superstar Albert Pujols is simply not in the same league as legendary New York Yankees slugger Babe Ruth.
Daniel Stier / GQ, September 2006
It's an argument that science may never fully resolve, but researchers at Washington University in St. Louis can now offer at least some hard numbers on how Pujols compares to the Babe in terms of the perceptual and motor skills necessary to consistently hit balls out of the park.

Pujols visited Washington University in April to take part in a series of laboratory tests similar to those conducted on Babe Ruth on a summer afternoon in 1921 by a couple of graduate students at Columbia University. Results of the Pujols testing, conducted at the request of a reporter from GQ magazine, are detailed in a story that appears in the magazine's September issue.

"This spring, GQ persuaded Albert Pujols, reigning National League MVP and the game's most dominant slugger, to take time off from an epic home-run tear and reenact, at Washington University in St. Louis, the 1921 Babe Ruth tests," writes Nate Penn, author of the GQ article, which is titled "Performance: How To Build The Perfect Batter."

The Pujols tests were conducted by faculty in the University's Department of Psychology in Arts & Sciences and in the School of Medicine, including Richard Abrams, Ph.D., professor of psychology; Desiree White, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology; David Balota, Ph.D., professor of psychology; and Catherine Lang, Ph.D., assistant professor of physical therapy, neurology and occupational therapy.

Pujols, like Ruth, was asked to demonstrate his hitting form while hooked up to various machines that monitored the strength and speed of his swing. Pujols, complaining of a strained back, may have "held himself back a bit" on some of the tests, but his results compared favorably with those of Ruth.
Read the complete article here

It Was 41 Years Ago Today

Courtesy of
August 22, 1965

San Francisco's Juan Marichal, batting against LA's Sandy Koufax, complains that C John Roseboro's return throws are too close. He then turns and attacks Roseboro with his bat.

A 14-minute brawl ensues before Koufax, Willie Mays, and other peacemakers can restore order. Roseboro suffers a considerable cut on the head. Marichal is suspended eight playing days and levied a National League-record $1,750 fine.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Jackie Robinson Story & Las Palmas Park

Library of Congress - American Memory Collection
In 1950 Jackie Robinson starred in a movie about his life, called "The Jackie Robinson Story." The picture was filmed in part at Las Palmas Park in Anaheim, also known as Glover Stadium/Dee Fee Field. In the photo above, Jackie is pictured at bat at Las Palmas with the wood stands behind him.

This park has a long history with professional baseball. It was originally built in 1939 and has been used as a spring training home for the former American League team the St. Louis Browns.

Photograph from Alan LaMont collection

First used by the California League in 1941, (pictured above) it was an active professional ballpark until 1948 when the Sunset League last made this their home for 2 years. The Sunset League was famous for being the first "official American minor league" system to utilize Mexican ballparks as part of the league. The Sunset League later spawned the Tex Mex League and the AZ Mex League. These 3 leagues combined, used over half a dozen Mexican ballparks. Many of which still are standing today and are again part of the new Arizona-Mexican league which started 2003.

Amazingly, this little piece of baseball history is still standing in Anaheim. It's not often you find a former professional ballpark.. not used in so many years... that hasn't been demolished, especially in a large urban enviornment. Even more astounding, is that it's almost in 1941 game day condition, as shown below.

Please click here to see an aerial view of present day Las Palmas Park.

Courtesy of

Present day ballpark photographers: Eric and Wendy Pastore (c) 2002

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

15 Years Ago Today - August 15, 1991

Courtesy of

Yankees 1B Don Mattingly is benched and fined $250 for refusing to cut his shoulder-length hair, but the Yankees still beat Kansas City, 5–1. He will get one two days later, and the hair will eventually be auctioned off for $3,000 to benefit a children's charity.

Mattingly is not alone; Steve Farr, Matt Nokes, and Pascual Perez have all been told their hair length violates club policy. Mel Hall, who wears his hair in a small ponytail before and after games, is warned his appearance is "borderline."

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Fans Meet Costner on 'Field of Dreams'

Courtesy of

Thousands of Fans Join Kevin Costner for Concert and Free Screening of 'Field of Dreams'

The Associated Press

DYERSVILLE, Iowa - The corn lining the outfield is tall again this year. The white farmhouse, wraparound porch and picket fence appear unaffected by time. The mythic baseball diamond and lush outfield look just like they did in the film made 17 years ago.

And for a few hours, hundreds of children and parents raced around the bases, played catch or hit soft pitches in the field made famous by 1989's "Field of Dreams."

For 10-year-old Alexis Turner, the visit included a brush with Kevin Costner, the movie's star who returned Friday for the first time since filming ended.

Costner joined about 5,000 people who packed the field for a free screening of the movie. The event, sponsored by online DVD rental company Netflix Inc., is the fifth stop in a 10-city tour featuring classic movies at the locations they were filmed.

"My dad pointed him out to me. I didn't even know I was standing next to him," said Turner, of Goshen, Ind., who fielded balls while Costner tossed pitches to one young hitter after another.
"He told me to 'step back honey,' ... when one, a bigger hitter, came to bat," said Turner, in the middle of touring several major league ballparks with her father. "This is easily my most favorite part of the trip."

The film, about a farmer who is persuaded by a mysterious voice to build a baseball field in his cornfield, is based on the Ray Kinsella novel "Shoeless Joe."

"I was only 14 when the movie came out, and it was immediately one of my favorites and still is," said Jennifer Lukenbill, who drove her husband and children eight hours from their home in Nevada, Mo., to see Costner and the movie.

"I can't watch it even today without feeling the way I did the first time," she said. "It was the first time I saw my dad cry and the last time."

Read the rest of the article here

Friday, August 11, 2006

August 12, 1984

Courtesy of
In one of the ugliest brawl-filled games in ML history, the Braves beat the Padres 5–3 in Atlanta.

The trouble begins when Atlanta's Pascual Perez hits Alan Wiggins in the back with the first pitch of the game, and escalates as the Padres pitchers retaliate by throwing at Perez all four times he comes to the plate.

All in all, the game features two bench-clearing brawls, the 2nd of which includes several fans, and 19 ejections, including both managers and both replacement managers. Padres manager Dick Williams will be suspended for 10 days and fined $10,000, while Braves manager Joe Torre and five players will each receive 3-game suspensions.

But the brawl in Atlanta, as Dave Campbell observed, "woke the Padres up out of their doldrums."

Courtesy of

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


How do you estimate the true distance of a home run?

Check it out on Hit Tracker and then pick a home run to view and see the video. Real Cool Site.

When a batter hits a long home run, people want to know how far it traveled. Unfortunately, in the past it has been difficult to determine this distance with accuracy when the ball does not complete its trajectory all the way to the ground, i.e. when it strikes a light tower or other tall structure, or even when it lands in outfield seats that are elevated above field level. Hit Tracker determines the true distance a home run travels by recreating the precise trajectory the ball followed during flight, and extending that trajectory all the way back to field level to allow “measurement” of the home run.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

And baseball at its absolute best

Excerpt from T.J. Simers column
Los Angeles Times; August 6, 2006

It begins with a family story, Jorge and Lisa Field writing on their web page: "On Nov. 23, 2005, after having an MRI, our pediatrician informed us that our 10-year-old son, Jacob, had an unidentified mass in his brain. …And so began his unbelievable journey in the world of brain tumor survival."

Jacob's family — Jorge, Lisa, Nick and Danielle — continued to update the site (, recently describing the dream trip to Oakland to visit the A's, Jacob's favorite team.

The A's, hearing about Jacob, had responded with an immediate invite, catcher Jason Kendall even paying for a chartered plane to return the family to L.A.

When Jake was taken to the field, the A's came by, one by one, to introduce themselves, Mark Kotsay, Jay Payton and Eric Chavez each giving the youngster a bat to take home.

"We were even treated to a show by Rich Harden who was playing with his Samurai sword [in the clubhouse]," Jorge, an L.A. Homeland Security supervisor, wrote before delivering the punch line. "Jason said Harden's roommates told him he is not allowed to take the sword home."

Kendall put the family in a suite for the game, "and Jake had his nachos and some cotton candy," Jorge wrote. "Jake lasted about half the game before he got really tired, but in the suite he was able to lie on the couch. … This was an experience neither Jake nor the rest of us will ever forget."

Jacob's brother, Nick, who plays football at West Covina High, told the Whittier Daily News the trip "was the best day of my life because Jacob was happy."

Nine days later, Lisa wrote, "Our baby boy is beginning to slip away. … We told him we love him, we are proud of him and he can go when he is ready. We told him God is waiting for him."

On Friday — less than two weeks after shaking hands with each of the A's — the family wrote, "At 5:00 today, our Little Warrior, Jacob Thomas Field won his battle and is resting in the arms of Jesus; completely and fully restored."

Excerpt from T.J. Simers column
Los Angeles Times; August 6, 2006