MAY 2012

There is but one game

& That game is baseball

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Bob Williams
1What is Eephus?

Learn the colorful origins of the Eephus League’s namesake and who gave the infamous pitch its unique name.


A device to help pitchers throw curveballs and a softer baseball for kids are this issue’s patent highlights.


Johnny “The Crab” Evers was a small, scrappy second baseman who became a legend throughout his colorful Hall of Fame career.


The go-to resource for 19th century baseball, Beadle’s Dime Base-Ball player is a time capsule of the state of the game in 1867.


Brian Lindstrom’s Bases Loaded series is a personal, nostalgia-filled look back on some of the most important moments in baseball’s history.


The longest game ever, Mickey Mantle’s first home run, and some memorable no hitters are some of the highlights on this day in baseball.


Baseball is most definied by stories of failure, and in honor of the epic failures of the 2011 season, fans share their lowest points as fans.


James K. Skipper’s massive anthology of baseball nicknames is a brilliant look at the legends and obscure lore of America’s greatest pastime.


Designer Jeremy Reiss has created a beautiful letterpress print honoring the colorful language of the sport.

“It’s hard to win a pennant,
but it’s harder losing one.”

— Chuck Tanner

The Eephus League began as a student project, an answer to a question. How could I create a project about baseball, yet still have a directed focus for the content? How could I distill the ethos of the game into a core idea for a website and community? I loved the design of baseball, the vernacular, the printed ephemera, but I needed a common thread to tie it together, and I finally found it in Minutiae. Baseball is a massive entity, steeped in equations, history, and tradition, but it’s the small things that emerge in and because of baseball that I love. The Eephus League website serves as a celebration of the spirit of baseball and what it has given us over the past 150 years.

This Eephus League online magazine is a further commemoration of baseball’s beauty, oddities and wonderful fans. Through this publication I hope to delve deeper into the nooks and crannies of our game, and preserve these small pieces of triviality lovingly and permanently. It is as much a tribute to the game itself as to its enormous and diverse group of fans. Much of the content inside was generated by passionate and talented fans, expressing their love of the game in infinitely unique and personal ways. Baseball touches each of us in different ways, and in turn the manners in which we express our connection are incomparable.

I hope the magazine proves to be full of things familiar, fresh and uplifting, and that I do justice to the fans who are truly devoted to making baseball the wonderful cornerstone that it is.

Bethany Heck

Baseball Dialect

“Eephus ain’t nuthin.”

— Maurice Van Robays

The term Eephus can be traced back to a pitch popularized by Pittsburgh Pirate pitcher Tuett “Rip” Sewell. He first threw it to Dick Wakefield in a 1942 exhibition game, with great effect: Wakefield double clutched and nearly fell over trying to hit the looper. Though the term was coined for Sewell’s pitch, it has lived on long after his death, used to describe any abnormally slow, looping pitch aimed in the air instead of towards the batter.. A well-pitched eephus ball can reach an apex of over 25 feet in the air before crashing down towards earth and the batter. Sewell was forced to change his delivery motion when a hunting accident left buckshot in his leg, and he found a straight, overhand motion to be less painful.

The most common technique used in throwing an eephus pitch is to rest the ball in the palm of the hand and let the tips of the figers create enough backspin to keep the flight of the ball under control. The form used in throwing an eephus pitch is often compared to tossing a good shot put ball. Sewell himself succinctly described it as "fun to watch, easy to catch, but tough to hit."

The most famous instance of an eephus pitch came in the 1946 All Star game, when Sewell threw three straight eephus balls to Ted Williams. Williams broke the rules by taking several strides closer to the mound to crush the third pitch out of the park for a home run.

Great Inventions


Baseball Pitching Training Aid

J. A. Johnson

Patented: 02.24.1970

Filed: 01.22.1968

This medieval torture device was intended to help pitchers learn the correct grip and delivery of a curve ball. The contraption wraps around the wrist and two loops then attach to the ring finger and thumb of the wearer. Breaking balls can be extremely hard on a pitcher’s arm, and this device aimed to make the learning process and quick and effective as possible, reducing wear and tear on the young hurler’s shoulder and elbow.

A good curve has little to do with velocity and everything to do with the spin imparted on the ball at its release. J. A. Johnson, the inventor, notes the following two principles for the player to keep in mind: 1. The faster the rotation, the sharper the curve, and 2. a ball will usually curve in the direction it is spinning. Johnson helpfully informs the patent office that a well thrown curve, due to it’s sharply dropping nature, is difficult to strike when the hitter is swinging parallel to the ground.

The device was designed to be constructed from an elastic material that would provide tension on the fingers and the wrist. The ring finger and thumb are forced towards the palm of the hand, and the ball is meant to rest against the side of the thumb, with the middle and ring fingers resting on the seams. On delivery of the ball, the device caused the wrist to snap downwards, increasing the rotation of the ball as it left the hand.

Johnny Evers
Player Spotlight

Johnny “The Crab” Evers was a small, scrappy, doggedly determined second baseman. Born July 21, 1881, Johnny earned his quirky nickname “The Crab” because of the way he slid over the entire infield from his second base position. Evers began his baseball career in 1902, playing for his hometown team in Troy, New York. Later in that season he joined the Chicago Cubs, the team he is most associated with.

Bob Williams

Beadle’s Dime


It’s hard to imagine being a baseball fan without the internet as a resource. We have instant access to player stats, rosters and rule sets. In the earliest days of the game, Beadle’s Dime Baseball Player was the go-to resource for gentlemen interested in the state of the sport. The booklet is packed with information, including player stats from the previous year as well as rosters and league breakdowns. Even in the genesis of the game, fans and players were obsessed with statistics. This was considered the de facto textbook reference to use when teaching people about the game.

Compare the 1867 notation method on the left to a version of what we see in modern scorekeeping on the right.

The bright orange cover uses no less than half a dozen typefaces and features an etching of a hitter and a catcher standing behind him. If you study the background closely, you can notice odd streaks and spaces in the etchings, which is a result of a change the original design of the cover. In prior issues, the etching had several fielders milling about behind the hitter, which, if you know anything about baseball, is absolutely bonkers, and someone finally caught the mistake beginning with this issue.

“This invigorating exercise and manly pastime may now be justly termed the American Game of Ball, for though of English origin, it has been so modified and improved of late in this country as almost to deprive it of any of its original features beyond the mere groundwork of the game.”

The book leads off with it’s delightfully verbose title, "Beadle’s Dime Base-Ball Player: Comprising the Proceedings of the Tenth Annual Base-Ball Convention, Together with the Amended Rules Adopted, Rules for formation of clubs, and the constitution and by-laws of the national association. Also the Base-Ball Averages for 1865. Annual Edition for 1866." Back in the 19th century, they knew how to give a book a title with presence! The first spread holds a diagram of a baseball field and a quick preface. The diagram looks alien to us now, with the pitcher’s box off-centered, the catcher set far behind home plate, and the umpire in front and to the right of him. The configuration of the pitcher’s mound and its distance from home plate was one of the last aspects of the baseball field ruleset to be finalized, especially when pitchers began the transition from tossing underhand to throwing overhand.

The overall configuration of the scorecard is remarkably familiar, but the notation system is quit different than what scorers use today.

The Base-Ball player was edited by by Henry Chadwick, one of baseball’s baseball’s earliest and most influential benefactors. After the preface, there is a short essay from Chadwick regarding the current state of the game (a “manly pastime”), and he notes that it has clearly separated itself from its ancestor, the British game of Rounders, and has evolved into a uniquely and truely American institution.

Notes about the equipment and field requirements needed for a game of baseball are filled with wonderful nuggets of history. Chadwick insists you need a flat field (we couldn’t be having balls rolling back in from the outfield!) and bases didn’t necessarily have to be square. He notes that balls should be pitched to the striker fairly; imagine what he would think of the 100+ MPH flamethrowers that play the game today!

The rules of the game are also included in the book, which remain remarkably similar to the game we see played today. A year after this book was published, the pitcher’s box dimensions were changed to a 6 foot square, and the striker was allowed the courtesy of specifically requesting a high or low pitch. A gentleman’s game, indeed.

The book is filled with great ads for sporting good suppliers, which have eclectic typography and occasionally illustrations.

Further emphasizing the formal and genteel nature of the early game is the language used to describe the way teams and clubs were structured. Delegates, conventions, associations, by-laws and constitutions are all emphasized here. There were strict rules regarding the agendas of club meetings, which proudly sport wonderful names like “Eureka” and “Peconic”.

One of the most fascinating sections of the book is devoted to scorekeeping. While certain aspects of the scorecard diagram are familiar, the shorthand used is startlingly different. In 19th century baseball, players switched positions on the field more frequently than is seen today. Each player was designated a specific number, which referred to not only the position he was initially playing, but his position in the batting order.

Also delightful are the type-heavy ads in the front and back of the books. The advertisement for the "Empire Depot of Games" promises a wonderland of equipment for lawn games from croquet, cricket and of course, "Base-ball". Beadle’s also pushes their books for croquet and foot-ball. The Base-Ball Emporium promises score books, spiked shoes, bats and bases.

The Beadle’s Dime Base-Ball Player is a compelling look at the origins of the game and a wonderful resource for those interested in how the game rapidly evolved into the sport we know and love. For as many things that have changed, much of what we see here has remained a core part of the game.

Bob Williams
Edits × Ian Coyle
Edits × Ian Coyle


“Putting lights in Wrigley Field is like putting aluminum
siding on the Sistine Chapel.” – Roger Simon

Baseball says different things to different people. Some people love it for the statistics, others for the lush sights and sounds. Brian Lindstrom, a graphic designer and printmaker currently studying at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, loves baseball for the tradition. The stories, legends and athletes that have come and gone throughout the decades have compiled a massive legacy that is ripe for artistic expression. Lindstrom dove into this legacy as the inspiration for a series of 18 screenprinted posters, titling the series "Bases Loaded". Lindstrom deftly combines carefully hand drawn typography and iconography with some of the greatest moments in the history of the game (including some quirkily obscure ones) to create a stunning series of work that any fan of baseball’s history will love.

Brian carefully selected his subjects and his medium. The moments of baseball lore he focuses on range from the great players like Lou Gehrig and Hank Aaron, to contriversies in the Steroid Era, and the more delightfully obscure, like the first game

game played under the bright artificial lights in Wrigley Field (Lindstrom’s Cubby fandom showing through). The colors are classic red and blue, honoring the position baseball holds in American culture. The designs are printed onto massive 26"x40 sheets of wool felt, mimicing pennants.

Lindstrom’s hand made designs reflect the intimacy of baseball, how it has touched us all individually in unique ways. In his words, "The game of baseball is intertwined in the fabric of the United States of America. The players are household names and the sights, smells, and sounds conjure up memories of our past." These prints are baseball, they perfectly capture its essence.

I was lucky enough to interview Brian about his experiences, his love of baseball, and his fantastic work. You can find more images and information about the Bases Loaded series at, and see more of Brian’s steller work at

Tell me a little about yourself and your artwork

I’ve been designing for over 11 years and started out freelancing out of design school. After a year of freelance, I worked at Oakley (the sunglass co) for about 3 years. I designed logos for eyewear, apparel graphics, packaging, and graphics that were applied to eyewear/goggle straps etc. It was a great experience in learning the power of branding and design within the context of a company.

At the end of my time at Oakley, I started to freelance for other action-sports industry clients like Skullcandy, Rhythm, Infinity Surfboards and Reef. Once I got to a point where I was busy enough, I went freelance full time and opened Newbaric Design Co.

My work has always had a major lean towards apparel graphics for surf/skate/snow brands as well as logos/identities for the same clients as well as start-ups. I went to grad school, away from California, because as much as I want to keep doing that work and have a foot in that door, I was also craving a new perspective on graphic design. I wanted to design with more than a trend forecast telling me what's “in.” I wanted to have a concept and meaning behind my work, something that you rarely get to experience with client work in the surf industry. They already have their brand identity and it wouldn't do them, or myself, a service to try and incorporate my aesthetic and desire into their work. So, I went to grad school to give myself time to explore, research and dive a little deeper into the potential of graphic design.

What made you choose Wisconsin? Did you have prior printmaking experience?

I chose Wisconsin because of their flexibility with incorporating other outside courses (Entrepreneurship courses in the business school etc) and the strong printmaking program. I felt that all the “graphic designey” stuff is crucial for a foundation, but I had been working on that for over a decade and didn't feel the need to be surrounded by a typical, formal graphic design school. Wisconsin is the furthest from a formal graphic design school as you can get, while still offering plenty of design courses with an incredible design faculty for support.

My goal was to get back to the nuts and bolts of design: the ideas. I also have this weird thing about the lost “craft” (I know it’s cliche and overused) of graphic design. Back when the “great” graphic designers were not even graphic designers at all! When you look at old trade-marks (logos) that are branded into masonry or on glass jars, those were done by true craftsmen. The typography and care they took is amazing and yet they treated it as a craft, not a profession. I like Wisconsin because here I can focus on that craft of letterpress and screen-printing while still using the tools and “rules” of a graphic designer. After printing with the Vandercook letterpress I have such a greater appreciation for typography since having to set paragraphs of type by hand. Also having designed my own typeface while at Wisconsin (nothing great) was a priceless experience. My committee chair, and head of the graphic design department, is a typographic wizard. His sole focus is on typography and typeface design and that has had a great influence on my direction.

As for prior printmaking experience, I have designed for screen printed applications for my entire design career so I was always very aware of the process. My first experience with hands-on screen printing was around 2005-ish. I went to Screwball Press in Chicago, and learned from Steve Walters in what he calls his “Screwball Academy.” He has taught a lot of well know printers including Jay Ryan of the Bird Machine, and it's an incredible printing community around Screwball.

Tell me more about the Bases Loaded project

For the Bases Loaded Series I needed to reprogram the way I designed and determine my own goals, rather than following a client brief with their goals outlined. My best work for clients has always been my hand drawn graphics and typography. That has always been my paycheck. But when it came time for me to design my own project, I felt I needed approval to do it.

Bases Loaded was that approval for me. I love baseball, the nostalgia, and the history. It has the greatest storylines and most dynamic characters of any other sport. It also lent me the opportunity to design a series around it while using my hand-done approach, as well as using printmaking as way to produce the series. I never like to design things that are not authentic. If something is not appropriate (like hand-done graphics) for a project, I will not do it just because “its my aesthetic.” So I felt bases loaded provided that authenticity.

I chose the content based on research, surveys and my own bias. I tried to cover the most interesting and pivotal players/events, not just the best. Obviously it is lacking the Mays, Aarons, Williams, etc. They are worthy of inclusion, but I was looking for specific storylines and themes with the content. The Cubs events (Billygoat, Wrigley Night Game & Ernie Banks) are my bias showing. I do feel they are significant events, but probably more so to me because I am a brainwashed Cubs fan. I really did want to get Ernie Banks in from a positive stand point on baseball. I thought his “kid-like” attitude was refreshing for the series.

I chose to print them onto wool felt banners to reflect the pennants of past eras and to get the nostalgia and authenticity I was looking for. Having them printed digitally would have severely undercut the message of the exhibition.

The subtle undertone for the show is that no computers were used in the design or the production. I am always being asked “Oh, you’re a graphic designer. So you work on computers?” Or “you do computer graphics?” No, I use the computer as a tool. I really wanted to get off the computer and let my brain direct the project, not Adobe.

So, I’m assuming the color palette you chose is another nod to the Cubbies?

No, actually I never thought of that! It is to baseball being America’s pastime. The colors of our flag (muted and tweaked a bit). I thought Red White and Blue might be cliche and obvious, but then my logical side took over and determined, “why not?”

It works beautifully, you chose well. Your hand lettering is exquisite, how did you learn how to draw typography? Did you draw inspiration from a particular set of typefaces, or an artist?

I have always used a lot of hand type in the apparel graphics I’ve done for clients. I guess my influence was coming up in the surf industry. It is a very DIY industry and hand type is no exception. Many designers utilize hand-done graphics, and many companies request it.

My hand typography was developed from practice and learning as I went. Of course looking to vintage hand painted signs and typography from eras past inform me. Learning to design a formal typeface this last year really helped in defining my hand lettering and I was able to give the Bases Loaded type a DNA.

There are really two “styles” through Bases Loaded. A script and a nostalgic “baseball” style typeface. All through Summer I did the research for this project, and had around 40 baseball books checked out from UW (Another reason I chose Wisconsin was because of all the great research tools available). The old found type from baseball's past is amazing and inspirational; hand-writing on balls, bat logos, team ligatures etc.

I wish I had found your site before my design process was complete, because you have A TON of great things on there. When I found your site it was a goldmine!

Do you have a favorite baseball logo, or uniform, or some other design element? One that really embodies what you love about the sport?

I really like the Detroit Tigers style. The Navy and white (off-white), the ’D’ and the script “Tigers.” I am not remotely a Tigers fan, but can appreciate the aesthetic. I’m also a sucker for the Baltimore Orioles colors/logos. and of course the Cubs, just because it has gone unchanged for the most part. The Yankees and Red Sox are great for tradition, but neither top my favorites.

I'm not a fan of the designs for the Padres, Rays or Brewers because they lack that tradition. It doesn't seem like they know who they are, and they lack the identity and rich tradition of the sport. (Although the previous gold Brewers logo with the “mb” as a baseball glove was a real gem.)

I am definitely with you there. It’s not really fair, but I definitely think the older franchises have a much better visual identity.

Agreed. Giants, Dodgers, and the ones I named have tradtion in their favor. It’s the smart ones that dont mess with it. Oh, Indians too. So much good design inspiration in baseball, I could go on for days. Another great reason for choosing it as inspiration for the series!

How did you produce the pieces? Are you selling smaller versions of your designs?

I am screen-printing each 26"x40" felt banner in my studio at UW. I then applied a felt border around the edge to finish them off. Each banner will be hanging on flag poles in the gallery. (18 total, 9 Navy, 9 Cream. 9 for the number of players on each team, innings etc.) Navy ones on one side of the gallery, and Cream on the other, like two teams.

I started to print each one as an edition, but the felt was sucking up all the ink. They are available on Society6 for purchase as prints.

What are your plans for your MFA subject?

For my MFA I’m combining the process I’ve developed with the Bases Loaded Series and the lessons I’ve learned in the MBA Entrepreneurship courses I’ve taken since being at Wisconsin. With these tools I will be starting my own company and implementing my own identity and brand strategy.

I see this company as an example of how graphic design can be utilized within the context of a brand. It’s the perfect culmination of my studies and knowledge to this point. It will serve as a case study for my clients and, hopefully, become a success in itself.

The company is 50 Built and is a hub of information and resources for all things manufactured in America. Buying American-Made goods is a strong passion of mine, and the MFA project has been extremely enlightening and educational.

I’m sure it will! You did amazing work with Bases Loaded and you’ll do the same for your MFA

The Bases Loaded Series has been a truly amazing experience. The first exhibit was a success and I hope for it to become a traveling exhibition.

The series will be showing at the “Sports and Society Conference” this May & June where Bud Selig is the Keynote speaker. Pretty excited for that!

That’ll be incredible! I’m sure you’ll be a huge hit

I’m hoping! Thank you so much, Bethany!

Bob Williams
This day in baseball

White Sox Herm McFarland hits the first grand slam in American League history in a game in which the Detroit Tigers committed an unfathomable 12 errors.


The longest game ever played ends after 26 innings in a tie. Charlie Pick sets the major league record for hitless at-bats in one game, 0-11.


At the Polo Grounds, Babe Ruth hits his 50th career home run which is his first as a New York Yankee.


The legendary hurler Satchel Paige makes his pitching debut in Negro Southern League.


White Sox hurler Randy Gumpert gives up the first of Mickey Mantle’s 536 major league home runs on Mother’s Day.


Early Wynn throws a one-hitter while striking out 14. The 39-year old pitcher’s eighth inning home run beats the Red Sox, 1-0.


Dave Giusti and the Astros beat the Cubs, 4-0, to extend the team’s club record winning streak to double digits.


At Crosley Field, Astros’ righty Don Wilson no-hits the Reds, 4-0 one day after the Reds’ Jim Maloney beat Houston with a no-hitter.


Using just five pitches, Pirates starter Doc Ellis, upset with his opponent’s swagger, hits the first three Reds batters he faces.


Dwight Gooden becomes the first teen to strike out at least ten players since Bert Blyleven accomplished the feat in 1970.


With his 939th career steal, A’s outfielder Rickey Henderson passes Lou Brock as baseball’s all-time stolen base leader.


Ranger right-hander Nolan Ryan pitches the seventh no-hitter of his career, striking out 16 Blue Jays as the Texas defeats Toronto, 3-0.


Randy Meyers gets the last two outs of the ninth inning in the Orioles’ 3-2 win, recording his 11 consecutive save to start the season.


San Francisco’s left fielder Barry Bonds becomes the first player to hit a ball into San Francisco Bay aka McCovey’s Cove.


Recording his 321st save for San Diego, Tevor Hoffman establishes a new big league record for the most saves for one team.


At Miller Park, Chad Moeller becomes the first Brewer to hit for the cycle at home. In the 9-8 victory over the Reds in front of 8,918 fans.

Baseball Tales
“It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart.
The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as
soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.”
– A. Bartlett Giamatti

Fred Merkle had perhaps the most tragic first start in baseball history. At 19 years old, he took the field at first base for the New York Giants in the final game of the 1908 season. The Giants were up against the Cubs. Both teams had 98 wins, and the game was tied 1-1, and the Giants had runners on the corners, with Mirkle at first. Al Bridwell slammed a single up the middle and Giants fans swramed the field, spooking Merkle, who took off and headed for the dugout without ever touching second. Wily veteran Johnny Evers noticed that Merkle never touched base and called for a ball, stepping on the bag amidst the throng of fans and forcing out Merkle, and cancelling out the scored run. The Giants eventually lost the game, and the play became known as “Merkle’s Boner.”

Baseball is most poingently defined by failures, not successes. After all, only one team can win the World Series each year, and the rest have to try to take solace in their various degrees of failure. In honor of the historic collapses of the 2011 season, here are some anecdotes from fans about their lowest point.

When I was 6, I (a Red Sox fan) bet my grandfather (a Yankees fan) that the Sox would beat the Yankees in a game in late May. With an ice cream on the line, I watched with growing apprehension as the Yankees chipped away at an early 5-0 deficit, and cried when Mel Hall hit a two-run walkoff homer. I am 26 now, and have never bet on a sporting event since.

— Bryan C

This one is easy. October 19, 1999.

After an improbable and unprecedented comeback, the Mets force a Game 6 in the NLCS. Because the Braves were famously unable to sell out their playoff games, if this series was going to Game 7, I had already told work that I was flying to Atlanta the next day to go to that game, no matter what the cost. I had a plane ticket priced. It was already an excruciating back-and-forth game going to 11 innings. It was an impossible season with an unstoppable script.

And then Kenny Rogers walks in the winning run.

Walks it in. Walks it in. Walks it in.

How do you walk in the winning run? How can you not throw a strike on a 3-2 count with the bases loaded and at least let him hit the ball? HOW CAN YOU NOT THROW A STRIKE? I’ve had my soul ripped out by this game many times, but that one still gets me agitated just thinking about it.

Kenny Bleeping Rogers.

— Baseball Oogie

There have been many moments of "torture" for Giants fans, but this one takes the cake.

It was May 25, 2011. Top of the 12th, runners in scoring position. Marlins pinch-hitter Emilio Bonifacio lifted a sacrifice fly to score Scott Cousins, who bolted down the 3rd base line… and slammed into Buster Posey.

I’ve seen the replay close to ten times now. It was a gut-wrenching moment and untimely end to Posey’s season. But the worst part of that night was that I wasn’t even watching the game. Twitter was spewing a frenzy of concerned tweets, and yet I had no idea what was really going on.

Instead, I was glued to Game Day, which remained frozen for a good 10-15 minutes during the injury delay. When I finally caught wind of how Posey slammed his fist into the ground and was led limping off the field, I actually cried.

It’s taken five months to recover, and the memory of that night still brings back an ache.

— Ashley

I’ll say, mine has to be the October 4, 1999 one game playoff with the Mets. For some reason, that one hurt the most. Watching Al Leiter take the team apart and throwing a complete game was brutal. Not making the playoffs with a 96-67 season was rough.

— Lark11

Worst moment? Try worst 10 moments! How about the last three game fives of the LDS? I also remember 1998. The Braves fell behind the Padres 3-0 in the LCS, but then won games 4 and 5 in San Diego. It was the first time in MLB postseason history that a team won two games after losing the first three. Atlanta was geeked as their heroes were coming home for game six. A SRO crowd watched as the Braves mustered something like two hits against Sterling Hitchcock and we lost by something like 4-0. We had nothing to cheer about.

— Bravesfan98


“Flea was hung on me by Del Baker, a former manager of the Detroit Tigers in Beaumont, Texas, in 1933. I was a good sized flea at 5'11", and 165 pounds. If you have ever been bitten by
a Sand Flea, you know why I got my name.” – Herman Clifton

Many fans of baseball have been sucked in by the massive breadth of its impact. One could spend a lifetime studying statistics, reading the escapades of retired players, or making trips to the dozens of beautiful ballparks in the country. James K. Skipper found a different niche of the baseball lexicon to get sucked in by: nicknames.

Miller Huggins, a second baseman who played from 1904 – 1916 stood at an intimidating 5 feet six inches, earning the moniker “Mighty Mite.” Contrast that with Jon Rauch, a pitcher who broke into the majors in 2006, who was six feet, eleven inches tall. The average height of a major league player is six feet tall.

Baseball nicknames have become an integral part of the sport’s culture: “In no sport are nicknames more pervasive than baseball.” Receiving a nickname is immortalizing in many aspects, lending the players a larger than life heft to their persona. The ritual of distributing nicknames amongst baseball players is as old as the sport itself, and it’s easy to see how Skipper got sucked in to analyzing them. Skipper wrote a number of fantastic articles for SABR regarding nicknames in baseball, and his culminating work, Baseball Nicknames, is an astonishing compilation of over 3,600 monikers. Skipper’s work is a treasure trove; a stunning look into baseball’s long history and rich vernacular.

Skipper referenced the 1969 edition of the Baseball Encyclopedia, and estimated that out of 10,112 baseball players, over a quarter of them had monikers besides their birth names. The heyday of nicknames was at the turn of the century, when there was on average 3 players on every team with a nickname in professional baseball. Skipper’s was most comprehensive when delving into the origins of those nicknames. The amount of research he performed for Baseball Nicknames is astonishing. Nearly every entry has a genesis for the nickname, which was obtained from friends, family, teammates or the players themselves.

There are over 138 documented players with the nickname "Red" in major league history, making it one of the most common nickname in baseball history.

We often take player nicknames for granted without considering why the moniker was given. Particularly fascinating is Skipper’s categorization of nicknames by what they were a reference to, including special baseball-related skills, prior occupations, favorite foods, and physical characteristics. Particularly surprising is the large number of players named after particular foods, including gems like “Pea Soup” Dumont and “Peach Pie” O’Conner. Skipper also catalogged the most frequently seen nicknames, with “Lefty” clocking in at over 153 instances, and “Red” in a close second at 120.

A new edition of Baseball Nicknames was released in October 2011, and it belongs in the collection of any fan interested in the sport’s history. The book is over 300 pages of nicknames and their origin stories. The book branches beyond players to include umpires and managers. Hearing the personal stories of how each person received their monikers is riveting. Regarding John McGraw’s “Little Napoleon” nickname, one of the most recognizable in history, Skipper references Douglas Wallop: “...The nickname is well founded in terms of both his autocratic methods and the impression he gave as he directed his team from the third base coach’s box-a short, stumpy figure assuming an attitude that seemed always to be the same as the years passed, even when the potbelly became more pronounced and the hair turned gray and then white, the face became grizzled and the small eyes seemed to grow even smaller as they became hemmed in with wrinkles.”

There have been three players with the nickname “Catfish”, most famously Catfish Hunter, a pitcher for the Yankees.

A well given nickname can capture the essence of a player and expand on his personal legend. In the entry for August “Rubber-Winged Gus” Weyhing, Skipper writes, “Gus got his nickname from his practice of always soaking his arms in hot water and never letting a trainer touch it. He said it kept his wing loose. This habit enabled him to pitch for 14 years with great success without ever suffering a sore arm. During that period, he pitched over 4,324 innings, winning 264 games and losing 234.” You will learn more about the backgrounds of the players and the colorful cultures they came from.

The wide variety of nicknames are just another layer of color and history that enriches the baseball watching experience. It’s such a wonderful honor to these men, influential and not, to have these intimate details and stories codified for fans to reference. If you are interested in the history, traditions and interpersonal stories of the game, this bok is a must own.

These are the saddest of possible words:
“Tinker to Evers to Chance.”
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double –
Words that are heavy with nothing but
trouble: “Tinker to Evers to Chance.”

Tinker to Evers to Chance

Franklin Pierce Adams

Great Inventions


Ball and method of making the same

Chester F. Massino

Patented: 03.24.1981

Filed: 07.09.1979

This baseball was designed with the very specific purpose of allowing children in confined areas to have a baseball that performed similarly to a standard ball, but did not travel as far when hit and was substantially softer. As we know, modern baseballs have a rubber core. This design called for a cloth center, followed by several layers of yarn enclosed by an adhesive tape, with a synthetic polyester cover.

Perhaps Mr. Massimo was the victim of a baseball crashing through his windows as a result of a backyard game, as he specifically mentions this problem on several occasions in his abstract. He notes the many attempts made at a safer ball, such as the "wiffle" ball, but argues they are poor substitute, as they lack an aerodynamic similarity to the real thing. he argues his design would allow baseball to be played in confined spaces, indoors and with much less risk of property damage or injury to children.

Massimo goes so far as to include possible drills the ball would be well suited for, including blocking drills for catchers, catching fly balls bare handed, and avoiding wild pitches (he even suggests setting up a pitching machine aimed at the player!) There are copious notes regarding the preferred materials and logic behind the construction of the baseball. It is surprising that this design was unable to usurp the Wiffle ball as the preferred backyard baseball.

Baseball & Art


In time for the 2011 World Series, Reiss Design created a limited edition print for baseball fans and design enthusiasts. America’s pastime has its own unique language created mostly by sportswriters and announcers to add flavor to their reporting. Today, these words and phrases continue to be one of the entertaining aspects of the game. The slang terms were illustrated and designed to match the amusing nature of the lingo. All prints were produced by Hound Dog Press (Louisville, KY) on a 1950 Vandercook 4 letterpress. You can see more of Jeremy Reiss’s work at

Frank Chance


Position: First Baseman
Bats: Right      Throws: Right 

Height: 6' 0"      Weight: 190 lb.






Produced & written by
Bethany Heck

Mr. Ian Coyle's stupendous work on Edits Quarterly deserves all format and technical wizardry credit

Many thanks also go to Phil Moody for helping to expand upon Mr. Coyle's script work

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Eephus League Magazine

A labor of love & an ode to the
greatest game ever played.


Bethany Heck

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