Friday, June 30, 2006

Lost Mitt Safe at Home

Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times
Bob Pool, Times Staff Writer
June 30, 2006

Jeff Reynolds is a hit with his big brother after finding his sibling's baseball glove at a swap meet — four decades after it disappeared.

Nice catch by his brother, Patrick Reynolds admits. Forty-two years after his boyhood baseball glove disappeared, his brother discovered it hidden in a barrel of used sports equipment at a Torrance flea market.

Reynolds' name, printed with a felt-tipped laundry marker on the left-hander's mitt, was still legible. So was his family's pre-area code phone number: "FRontier 18709."Reynolds, 57, a Lomita resident who is a senior Los Angeles County parks landscape architect and UCLA extension instructor, was stunned when his brother bought it for $5 last week and returned it to him.

"He thought maybe I'd had the glove all these years," Jeff Reynolds, a 47-year-old telephone service technician, said laughing. The Rawlings "Trap-Eze" outfielder's glove was still in good shape. Patrick Reynolds had used it in 1961 and '62 while playing Little League and Pony League baseball. He switched to first base — and to an infielder's mitt — when he began playing freshman ball at Torrance's North High School.

"It was a great, Don Demeter autographed glove," named for the Dodgers' center fielder who accompanied the team from Brooklyn, Reynolds said. "I worked on my dad's catering truck to save money to buy it. At the time it was very expensive. It cost $14, and I bought it at the May Co."

Reynolds' father, Jim, was a championship Fremont High School baseball player before being drafted by the old St. Louis Browns. But before he could join the majors he was drafted by the military for World War II. Afterward, he played recreational ball and mentored young players until about age 65.

"He was always collecting old gloves and relacing them and giving them to kids who needed them. I figure he found mine at home and donated it to somebody to use," Reynolds said. "Dad lived and breathed baseball."

When his father died last October at 80, his memorial service was held at Alta Vista Park in Redondo Beach, where he had coached baseball. Friends sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" in his honor. The swap meet, at the Alpine Village, is close to where the brothers grew up.

They speculate the glove remained in the neighborhood this whole time.

Reynolds will display his old glove on a shelf. "All my grandkids are right-handed, so they can't use it," he shrugged.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Developing "Freak" Ball

Taken from SABR-L List - June 28, 2006
Original Excerpt from New York Herald [Washington Post], August 11, 1912

"The spitball is perhaps the best known and the most effective of these so-called freak deliveries.... According to baseball histories Frank Bowerman, the old catcher of the Giants, first delivered the spitball, but, like Columbus, who remained ignorant of the fact he had found a new continent, Bowerman did not realize he had discovered a new ball which was to cause such a furor in the national game.

Bowerman had a habit of wetting his fingers when catching, and in throwing to second base he used a great amount of speed, having a powerful arm. The second baseman on the Giants complained that the ball took all sorts of freakish breaks and that he could not be blamed for dropping throws when the ball broke so sharply he could not follow it with his hands. As a result of this Bowerman was relieved of the catcher's job for a time because too many men were stealing on muffed throws. It was finally Stricklett, a pitcher of the Brooklyn club, who discovered that by wetting the ball and gripping it with the fingers on the wet spot it could be made to take all sorts of freakish and weird breaks.

After he had found this out he had no means of telling which way the ball was going to break. Stricklett hit upon the spitball during the spring practice, when pitchers try all sorts of experiments. However, this much is known. If a man wets a space on the ball, one as big as half a dollar will do, although the early exponents of the delivery thought that the result could only be accomplished by giving the ball a bath all over, and if a man grabs the ball on the wet arena [sic] and lets it shoot off his fingers with all his speed, it will go on a line until it almost reaches the batter and then it will take a freakish and sudden break, calculated to discourage a hitter with even a .300 battng average.

It is known that the wet place on the ball, gripped with the fingers, permits it to slide off the fingers without the spinning motion and that it goes towards the batter practically dead. But why it takes the sudden sweep has never been satisfactorily explained. Many pitchers in the past few seasons have learned to control the spitball and pitch it so that it will break in a certain direction, either down or out or in. This result is accomplished by putting the thumb on a dry part of the sphere and holding the ball slightly back with the thumb so that small spinning motion is given it away from the direction that the curve should break. The ball turns over five or six times in its course to the plate, and these few revolutions appear to make it break in a certain direction. Ford, of the Yankees, and Walsh, of the White Sox, each has nice control of his spitball."

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Baseball as Patriotism and Pride

Courtesy of the Baseball Hall of Fame

The Connection Between Our National Pastime and the Presidency

William Howard Taft was never scouted by the major leagues. But President Taft's toss to Walter Johnson in 1910 made baseball history nonetheless, launching a new presidential tradition: the Opening Day first pitch.

The president's annual appearance at the start of each season symbolically renews the bonds that unite the country, its leaders, and the game - a ceremonial springtime rebirth as America's National Pastime. For presidents, baseball offers a welcome connection to a wholesome, all-American image.

Baseball and the American presidency have had a long history together. Since baseball's inception in the mid-19th century, Presidents have been involved with the National Pastime in many ways, by participating, watching or supporting. As far back as 1860, associations between Presidents and baseball appeared in print and illustration. Since 1910, Presidents have ceremoniously rung in the new baseball year by throwing out the first pitch on Opening Day, providing official sanction to the beginning of the season. In addition, for more than a century, U.S. Presidents have also taken time from their busy scheduled to attend other games, from amateur sandlot contests near the White House to All-Star and World Series games.

Read the rest of the article here

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Mel Stottlemyre's Inside-the-Park Grand Slam

Courtesy of
by Steve Acciani
I was probably 7 or 8 when my dad took me to see a Yankee game in 1963 or 64. Mel Stottlemyre was up with the bases loaded and the infield and outfield were pulled in when Mel hit a shot over the center fielder's head, which rolled out to the monuments 460 feet away. He slid in under the tag for an inside-the-park grand slam. Some decades later when he was the pitching coach for the Mets visiting Candlestick for a day game aginst the Giants I yelled out to remind him during warmups. "Hey Mel, I saw you hit an inside the park grand slam". He yelled back jokingly "No you didn't". Of course he remembered it as a young pitcher throwing for the Yankees. A great memory, but for some reason I have never seen this on replays. He probably plays it whenever ever guests visit at home.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Moe Drabowsky: An appreciation of the legend

Phil Wood
The Examiner
Jun 14, 2006

BALTIMORE - My earliest memory of Moe Drabowsky comes from 1959, when I was first getting into baseball cards. I was trying to collect the Topps set for that year, and Moe was Card No. 407 — he was wearing a Chicago Cubs’ road uniform on a card with a pink border. The back of the card, which listed career highlights, said: “In 1957 he entered the record books by hitting four batsmen in a game and that year had a total of 10 dented hitters.”

Some highlight. But he would come up with some real ones a few years later in an Orioles uniform.

Myron Walter Drabowsky, who died June 10 at the age of 70 following a long battle with multiple myeloma, was part of a small group of European-born big-leaguers who played during my youth. Moe was born in Ozanna, Poland; Washington’s Reno Bertoia in St. Vito Udine, Italy; and journeyman pinch-hitter Elmer Valo in Ribnik, Czechoslovakia. When you’re 8 years old, the idea of someone coming that far to play baseball — from countries where the ball itself was a mystery — seemed pretty exotic.

Drabowsky arrived in the big leagues with the Cubs in 1956. That he would turn up with the Orioles — a contending team — 10 years later was a bit of good fortune, since he had enjoyed a winning record only once — 3-1 with 1960 Cubs. Career-wise, the righthander was a decidedly unimpressive 48-81 when he pulled on the black-and-orange for the first time, a Rule V draftee from St. Louis.

In Baltimore, Drabowsky became a world-class reliever, going 6-0 in 1966 with seven saves and an ERA of 2.81, his best since his rookie year. He also became known as a world-class prankster and the team’s king of the hotfoot. (He once gave one to Commissioner Bowie Kuhn.)

There was never a dull moment with Moe around. Drabowsky got away with his pranks because he produced on the mound. In three seasons with the Birds, Moe went 17-9 with 26 saves in more than 250 innings, averaging nearly a strikeout per inning.

In the Orioles’ 1966 World Series sweep of the Dodgers, Moe achieved household-name status with his performance in Game 1, by striking out 11 in 6 2/3 innings of relief— still a single-game Series record for relievers. He allowed only a single.

Baseball expanded to Seattle and Kansas City in 1969, and Moe was taken by the Royals in the expansion draft. At 33, he excelled out of the bullpen, going 11-9 with 11 saves for a first-year club. At the trading deadline in 1970, when their bullpen needed a boost, the Orioles sent utility man Bobby Floyd to K.C. to reacquire Moe. And once again, he found himself in a World Series on the winning side, as the Orioles defeated Cincinnati in five games.

Drabowsky ended his playing days with the White Sox in 1972, finishing his 17-year career with a record of 88-105. He had 55 saves and an ERA of 3.71. He later got into coaching, most recently with the Orioles, tutoring minor-leaguers.

Moe turned into a front-line reliever once he arrived in Baltimore, but it’s his reputation as a clubhouse funnyman that will overshadow that for as long as old ballplayers tell stories.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Making of a Hero

From Time Magazine Archive
Sep. 29, 1961

Bottle-green eyes smolder malevolently, and thin lips curl in a perpetual pout. "I was born surly," says Roger Eugene Maris, "and I'm going to stay that way. Everything in life is tough." But last week, as he has all season, Yankee Outfielder Maris knew just where to direct his sullen anger: at a baseball. Leaning into a low fastball thrown by Baltimore's Milt Pappas, Maris sent a whistling drive soaring high into the rightfield seats. It was his 59th homer in 154 games; he had come within one heart-stopping wallop of tying baseball's most dramatic and cherished record: the 60 home runs hit by George Herman Ruth in 1927 (seven years before Maris was born).

Nothing in recent baseball history has aroused such sustained excitement—or provoked such profound and varied emotion—as Maris' determined, season-long assault on Ruth's enduring achievement. Most fans cheered him on; ballparks were jammed wherever the Yankees went, and encouraging messages flowed into Yankee Stadium at the rate of 3,000 a week. But a few sentimentalists saw every Maris homer as a personal attack on Ruth. They argued that today's ball is livelier, today's fences shorter, today's pitching easier to hit. Groused Oldtimer Rogers Hornsby: "Maris has no right to break Ruth's record."

As season's end approached and pressure mounted, Maris was having trouble enough: bad weather jammed up the schedule, and pitchers cautiously gave him nothing to hit. Umpires, he complained, were calling the close ones strikes. And Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick (Ruth's onetime ghostwriter) announced that a new home run record would have to be set in 154 games—the number Ruth needed to hit 60—even though the current American League schedule runs to 162 games. To a whole generation of baseball fans who never saw Ruth play, it will matter little how many games Maris needs to hit 61. To them, Roger Maris already is an authentic American hero.

Biggest Moments. But as a ballplayer, Maris still is no match for Babe Ruth. A rollicking, muffin-headed giant (6 ft. 2 in., 230 Ibs.) with the slender legs of a showgirl, Ruth was the finest baseball player who ever lived. As a pitcher with the Boston Red Sox, he won 46 games in two seasons, pitched 29 consecutive scoreless World Series innings—a record that still stands. As an outfielder, he joined a Yankee club that had no ballpark and had never won a pennant; his presence (backed up by the formidable figure of Lou Gehrig) turned the New Yorkers into the most fearsome team in baseball. To a sport that had been damaged by the "Black Sox" scandal of 1919, Babe Ruth's booming bat brought new virility and respectability. Even when he struck out, Ruth was impressive—and he struck out often. But when he connected, he gave baseball its biggest moments. Nobody ever hit a ball so hard: he once drove a liner through a pitcher's legs with such force that it sailed over the centerfielder's head. In 21 years of big league ball, he hit 714 home runs, a total that has never been approached. In all, Ruth set or tied 54 major league records. In the golden '20s, the era of big names—Bobby Jones, Jack Dempsey, Bill Tilden—Babe Ruth was the biggest draw of them all.

Ruth was even more than that: he was the chief strategist of modern baseball. He gave it the home run, and the game went on to ever greater glories. In the hands of such free-swinging strongmen as Maris and Teammate Mickey (54 homers) Mantle, the home run has become baseball's basic weapon. It scores runs in clusters, breaks up tight games with devastating swiftness, reduces fielders to the status of paid spectators. And baseball's steadily growing fascination with the home run was never more apparent than during the 1961 season—the Year of the Home Run.

In Kansas City and Chicago, massive scoreboards lit up like Christmas trees when the home team homered; cannons roared and rockets seared the summer sky. In Boston. American League Batting Champion Pete Runnels, a singles hitter, rode the bench while Manager Mike Higgins struggled to get more power into the Red Sox lineup. With one week still to go, an unprecedented 2,596 homers had already been hit. The Yankees set a team record. San Francisco's Willie Mays hit four in one game. New York's John Blanchard managed four in four trips to the plate. Baltimore's Jim Gentile hit two grand-slam homers in two innings. "The old days of the squeeze play, the stolen base, the hit and run are gone," said Oriole Manager Paul Richards. "They'll never come back. Everybody knows that the singles hitter drives a Chevy—the home run hitter, a Cadillac."

No Waste. Nobody swings for the fence with more abandon than husky (6 ft., 200 Ibs.) Roger Maris: more than one-third of his hits are homers. Slow rounding into shape last spring, Maris did not hit his first home run until the Yankees' tenth game. But then he began hitting them in bunches: nine in 13 games in May, 15 in June. When he reached 50 on Aug. 22—with 38 games still to play—Maris became the biggest news in baseball. New York tabloids offered cash prizes for predictions of which days Maris would hit a homer, how many he would hit. Nightly newscasts in Israel included Maris' personal box score for the day, and papers in baseball-happy Japan begged U.S. wire services for interviews with the Yankee slugger. Even when the Yankees made their 26th pennant mathematically certain last week, the news ran second to Maris' 59th homer.

At 27, Roger Maris is a cocky pro with the classic attributes of the power hitter: keen eyesight, quick wrists, magnificent coordination. His controlled, compact swing is one of baseball's prettiest sights. "There's no waste motion at all," marvels Yankee Batting Coach Wally Moses. Raised in North Dakota, the son of a mechanical supervisor for the Great Northern Railway, Maris was a phenomenal high school football player. No student ("Sports took up all my time; I couldn't keep my mind on books"), Maris turned down some half-dozen col lege scholarship offers to try out with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs. Impressed by his fluid swing and his pull-hitting power, the Indians offered Roger a $15,000 bonus. The Cubs, for some unfathomable reason, were totally unimpressed. "Son, my advice to you," said one Cub official, "is to give up the idea of playing ball. You'll never make it. You're too small."

Bleak Outlook. That Maris now wears the pin-striped playsuit of the New York Yankees is due partly to good Yankee organization, partly to good Yankee luck. As early as 1955, General Manager George Weiss alerted his well-disciplined scouting and minor league network. "The big need," says Weiss, "was for a lefthanded pull hitter who could take advantage of the stadium's short rightfield fence" (296 ft. at the foul pole). The Yanks quickly spotted Maris—then playing at Reading, Pa., in the Eastern League—and bided their time.

Everything worked in the Yankees' favor. As a highly touted Cleveland rookie in 1957, Maris broke two ribs in a collision at second base, hit a sorry .235. Traded the next season to the Kansas City Athletics, he doubled his home run output (to 28), batted in 80 runs—but still fell far short of promise. Halfway through the 1959 season, despite an appendectomy, Roger led the American League in batting (.344); then he slumped to a disappointing .273 and was traded during the winter to the Yankees.

Like Ruth, Maris came to a Yankee team that was wallowing in despair. The weary Yankees had lost the 1959 pennant to Chicago, and the outlook for 1960 was equally bleak: Mickey Mantle was disabled, Yogi Berra was tiring, Bob Turley—a 21-game winner in 1958—was nursing a sore arm. Like Ruth, Maris shook the team from its lethargy and fired the imagination of New York fans. In the outfield, Maris made leaping, diving catches, dared base runners to test the accuracy of his flat-trajectory throwing arm. At bat, for the first half of the season, he was a one-man Murderers' Row: he hit over .325, and his line drives rattled so often among the rightfield seats that by late July he was ten games ahead of Ruth's 1927 homer pace. Injury finally slowed Maris down in the summer of 1960, but he still finished the season with 39 home runs and 112 RBIs. When the Yanks won the pennant by eight games, Maris was easily the American League's Most Valuable Player—an award he may well win again this year.

No Monkeyshines. As phlegmatic ("I don't give a damn about being a hero") as Ruth was ebullient, Maris has built an inviolable wall around his private life. Married in 1956 to his childhood sweetheart, Patricia Carvell, he leaves his family (four children) in Kansas City during the baseball season shares a secluded apartment in outlying Queens with Teammates Mantle and Bob Cerv. He cooks his own breakfast, rarely reads anything but the sports page ("I'm interested only in current events—I mean what goes on in the clubhouse"). Something of a rarity among Yankee stars, Maris manages to keep out of the gossip columns, scorns the bright lights of Manhattan: "I can't afford a hangover, and anyhow I don't like that kind of life." On the road, he sticks close to his hotel, never sightsees. "I was to a museum once in Chicago," he recalls, "because my wife and Cerv's were there from Kansas City and we didn't want to hang around the room all day. They had a lot of old pictures there."

Around the league, Maris is known as a "loner" who shuns locker-room monkeyshines, rarely displays emotion on or off the field. After a ball game, still in uniform, Maris sits quietly on a stool in front of his locker for an hour or more, slowly consuming cans of beer and smoking cigarettes. "I just have to get the game out of my system," he says. Maris never answers fan mail personally ("I got enough work to do without writing letters"), makes few charity appearances. "The club shouldn't expect you to go to hospitals. They don't ask, and I don't go." He avoids the autograph hounds who cluster daily outside the players' gate. "Kids have gotten too rough. They show no appreciation. They walk on your shoes and half tear your clothes off. I just walk away—I don't want to get one of their pencils in my eye."

In only his fifth major league season, Maris was already assured of making about $67,000: some $42,000 in salary and World Series bonus, another $25,000 in fees for personal appearances and "testimonials" for such assorted products as Camel cigarettes, Infra-Rub and Aqua Velva after-shave lotion. But his busy agent, Frank Scott (other clients: Mantle, Warren Spahn, Willie Mays), estimates that movie and magazine rights to Roger's life story, royalties from a "Maris" candy bar and TV appearances (at $7,500 each) may boost his income by as much as $250,000.
With all that money, Maris could easily afford to pay the $2,500 "ransom" demanded last week by the Baltimore fan who caught the ball the Yankees' new hero hit for his 59th homer. But like a true big league ballplayer, Maris was not about to shake loose a single nickel. "I'll give him no more than another ball, autographed, in exchange," said Maris firmly. "That ball means nothing to him—only to me and the Hall of Fame.",10987,895727,00.html

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Art of Baseball: Radio Deities Who Call the Shots

From the Seattle Times
By Larry Stone
Seattle Times staff reporter
June 4, 2006

Marty Brennaman, longtime voice of the Cincinnati Reds, has a new fan in Bath, England. The far-flung fellow, who e-mails Brennaman periodically, has recently discovered the joys of baseball on the radio, a sport he scarcely understood but became entranced with over the airwaves.

Such is the 21st-century power of satellite and Internet broadcasts, which merely reinforce what became evident shortly after 26-year-old Harold Arlin executed the first baseball broadcast on Aug. 5, 1921, at Forbes Field on Pittsburgh's KDKA, using a converted telephone as a microphone.

Baseball is radio's game. Radio is baseball's medium.

"There's never been a greater marriage than radio and baseball," Brennaman said.

Melded, it creates what broadcasting historian Curt Smith calls "the hypnotic tapestry of radio on the air," what Bob Costas calls "the soundtrack of your summer" — all played out, as former baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti put it so memorably, "in the enclosed green fields of the mind."

"It's where the creativity is," said longtime Mariners voice Dave Niehaus. "It's where you really have to be master of your craft. You have to be really good to have somebody in the palm of your hands."

And the great ones? They become icons of their cities, the voice of a generation (or generations, because as the legendary Bob Wolff, longtime voice of the Washington Senators, points out, "A good radio announcer lasts forever; they have one great trait: They wear well.")

No one is more redolent of Chicago than Harry Caray, of St. Louis than Jack Buck, of Los Angeles than Vin Scully, of Detroit than Ernie Harwell.

In Seattle, Amaury Pi-Gonzalez correctly calls Niehaus "an institution" — as Leo Lassen, voice of the Seattle Rainiers, was for an earlier generation.

Said Pi-Gonzalez, the Spanish voice of the Mariners, "Kids have been born listening to Dave Niehaus."

The leisurely pace of baseball requires that an announcer deliver more than just the frenetic play-by-play of his basketball counterpart. He must be a storyteller par excellence, a troubadour of the airwaves.

"Baseball announcers are the conduit between the team and the fans," said Harwell, now 88 and retired from broadcasting. "He goes wherever the listener goes — the mountains, or the beaches, or picnics. He's always there.

"I've always felt that if a fellow worked in a region five or six years, he almost becomes a part of the family. He grows on people."

And if he works for 57 years, as Scully has done calling Dodgers games, then he becomes the most beloved figure in the history of the franchise. And, arguably, of the medium.

"To be around Vin is like playing pepper with Babe Ruth, and I get to do it every day," marveled current Dodgers announcer Charlie Steiner. "There's elegance to him on the air and off. He's almost regal, yet he has a common-man quality."

Scully and other local legends are developing a new cult following on XM Radio, which offers home broadcasts from around the majors each night. In a survey of new subscribers last year, 25 percent of respondents cited baseball as the impetus for their subscription.

"That's a remarkable testament to the power of baseball on radio," said David Butler, director of corporate affairs for XM.

Butler said he hears constantly from fans delighted to be introduced to the likes of Niehaus, Milwaukee's Bob Uecker, San Diego's Jerry Coleman and Kansas City's Danny Matthews — but no one is mentioned more frequently, and reverently, than Scully.

Now 78, Scully doesn't travel east of the Rockies, and he works solo, without a color man. Why? "Poets don't need no straight man," explained Steiner.

Scully learned the craft from an equally revered legend, Red Barber, who arrived in New York in 1939, along with Mel Allen. That's when the Dodgers, Yankees and Giants wisely decided to lift their ill-advised ban of radio broadcasts, which they felt would hurt attendance.

It was quite the opposite. The radio accounts supplied a context and continuity that turned the season into an ongoing soap opera, the players into living, breathing entities, and made the ballpark itself come alive.

Click here to read the rest of the article

Monday, June 05, 2006

On Blacks in Baseball

By Teddy Tannenbaum
Boston Globe
June 2, 2006

WHEN MAJOR LEAGUE Baseball in 1997 retired the number 42 worn by Jackie Robinson, it honored the 50th anniversary of his breaking the sport's color barrier. But as baseball's Hall of Fame prepares this summer to honor more black players from the past, it's worth remembering that Robinson was not the first black to play in the majors, but the first to do so since 1900.

It has been almost 60 years since Robinson's triumph, which wiped out a ban that had begun 60 years before, in 1887, when white owners and players entered into a "gentlemen's agreement" to keep blacks out of baseball.

As early as the 1860s, when baseball was played by amateurs, blacks and whites played on integrated teams in and around New York.

In 1867, while America was passing the 14th Amendment guaranteeing equal protection under the law, the foremost white amateur league officially banned Negroes from its teams. Four years later the National Association, the first professional league, denied membership to the Pythians, an all-black team from Philadelphia. By 1876 the National Association had morphed into the National League and was deemed an all-white league. The "gentlemen" were in agreement. However, this wasn't quite the end of the story. In fact, a number of blacks played alongside whites between the end of the Civil War and the late 1880s.

John "Bud" Fowler, Moses Fleetwood Walker, and George Stovey were among the first professional black players. Fowler played briefly in 1878 for a white team in the International Association, a minor league, becoming the first black pro player. He was also, before the end of the century, the last known black ballplayer to play regularly in the white minor leagues.

"Fleet" Walker was a standout catcher at Oberlin College. The son of a doctor, he left school after his sophomore year in 1883 to play professionally, signing with the Toledo Blue Stockings in the Northwestern League. A year later that club joined the American Association -- the second recognized major league -- and Walker became the first black pro player in the majors.

Like Robinson, Walker endured ongoing abuse. Crowds, especially in the South, hissed and insulted him. One of his own pitchers, Tony Mullane, admitted to crossing him up by throwing pitches that Walker hadn't called for, contributing to swollen hands and split fingers. (Mullane later privately called Walker the best catcher he ever had.) There were hotels where Walker was not welcome and opposing players who refused to take the field against him.

One of those players was Adrian ``Cap" Anson, the most accomplished of all 19th-century players. Anson was the first player to amass 3,000 hits and was known as much for his brilliant strategy as for his hitting. He's credited with creating pre-season training and was the first coach to use hand signals to communicate instead of shouting across the diamond.

He also was a racist. In 1883 when his Chicago Nationals were scheduled to play against Toledo in an exhibition game, Anson refused to take the field because of Walker's presence. However, being a shrewd pragmatist as well as strategist, Anson backed down when informed he would forfeit his share of the gate receipts.

While Walker continued playing, the presence of blacks on rosters began to dwindle as the owners increasingly bowed to the segregationist policies sweeping the country. In 1887 Anson, as player manager for the Chicago White Stockings, refused to play an exhibition game against a team from Newark because of the prospect of facing black pitcher Stovey. While Anson's history suggests he was primarily concerned with the color of Stovey's skin, he equally may have feared his pitching skill. Stovey, on his way to winning 34 games that year, was highly coveted by the National League's New York Giants. Anson and many white players felt threatened by the talent of black players and opted to protect their livelihood and status. Both Stovey and his catcher that day, Walker, turned up ``sick" and unable to play.

In the wake of that highly publicized flap, the owners of the International League banned black players. By the mid 1890s the number of blacks in the white professional leagues was reduced to a handful, and then to none. The ``gentlemen's agreement" had taken full hold.

Ironically, when Robinson entered the big leagues in 1947, his arrival signaled the eventual death knell for the Negro Leagues, as Major League Baseball once again became integrated.

Teddy Tannenbaum is an organizational consultant and author of the forthcoming book "A Look at the Game."

Courtesy of Teddy Tannenbaum

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame Inductions

Thu, 1 Jun 2006
From "T. Kent Morgan" <tkmorgan@SHAW.CA
Society of American Baseball Research SABR-L Digest

He wouldn't mention it himself, but SABR member Barry Swanton of Surrey,B.C. is being inducted into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame as a builder on Saturday, June 3.

Barry is a former Winnipegger who played, coached and served as an executive in Manitoba for 40 years. Barry also is the author of The ManDak League: Haven For Former Negro League Ballplayers 1950-1957, which was published by McFarland this spring. KirkGibbons and Armando Vasquez, who played in the ManDak League, also are being inducted.

According to the Biographical Encylopedia of Negro Baseball Leagues, Vasquez played with the Cincinnati-Indianapolis Clowns between 1944 and 1947 and again with Indianapolis in 1952. He also played with the New York Cubans in1948. He only played in Canada for three years from 1949 to 1951.

In 1949,the the league was called the Manitoba Senior Baseball League and, according to Swanton, teams were allowed just two imports, but most had more. In his two ManDak League seasons with the Brandon Greys, Vasquez hit .279 with 3 homeruns and 36 RBI and .314 with 1 HR and 24 RBI. How he qualified for theManitoba Baseball HOF ahead of many other players with longer and better records in Manitoba is beyond me.

Although Swanton says that Gibbons played with the Indianapolis Clowns in1949, he is not listed in the Biographical Encyclopedia of the NegroBaseball Leagues. A pitcher, he played in Brandon in 1950 and 1954, inWinnipeg in 1953 and then in Minot, ND from 1955 to 1957. His overall recordwas 43-40 and in only three of the six seasons he had a winning record. Gibbons will be attending the induction with his daughter while Vasquez is reportedly too ill to travel to Winnipeg and then to Morden by car where the induction ceremonies will be held.

Willie Wells, Leon Day, Double Duty Radcliffe, Ray Dandridge, Lyman Bostock, Chet Brewer, Sugar Cain, Gentry Jessup, and Ted Strong are a few of the many other Negro Leagues players who played in the ManDak League. The Winnipeg franchise ceased operation when the Class C Northern League placed a St.Louis Cardinals farm team, the Goldeyes, here in 1954.

Kent Morgan

Friday, June 02, 2006

Fewest Pitches in a Complete Game

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In the new age of baseball, relief pitching can be the key to a championship. Teams pay top dollar for a good closer and proven middle relief. Starting pitchers are too high-priced to damage their arms by going over 100-pitches or finishing a complete game. Nowadays, it is quite unusual to see any pitcher complete more than 2 games in any season, but that was not always the case. In the early decades of the game, most pitchers finished what they started unless they got into too much trouble.

Relief was something only for the big games. This is the state of baseball in 1944 when Charley "Red" Barrett played for the Boston Braves. Barrett was a career .500 pitcher during eleven seasons with the Reds, Braves, and Cardinals. It was on August 10th of that year, playing his former team, that Barrett made history. He threw not only the shortest night game in history at one hour and fifteen minutes, but also the complete game with the fewest pitches ever. Barrett needed only fifty-eight pitches to shutout the Reds 2-0 with only two hits and no walks.

Baseball Almanac proudly presents this in-depth look at the shortest complete game in history!

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