Illustration by Joseph C. Leyendecker
A German immigrant who came to the United States in 1882 at the age of eight, artist Joseph C. Leyendecker (1874-1951) created this nationalistic image of Uncle Sam. The poster was commissioned for a government-sponsored program to encourage American support for its impending entry into the fray of World War I. Leyendecker trained at Chicago Art Institute and later at the prestigious Academie Julian in Paris, where he his inspirations included works of artists such as Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec and Alfonse Mucha, among others.
Ebbets Field Flannels, the premiere and, quite possibly, only company specializing in faithful reproductions of early and mid-20th century Major and Minor League uniforms and hats, has a blog post up today looking at the history of team names in the Minor Leagues. As a fan of the bizarre, vintage, and hilarious, it immediately struck a chord.
Here is a small sampling of the best forgotten names from their Industrial list:
“It was common for ballclubs to acquire a nickname related to a local industry, so we got the Brockton Shoemakers, Gloversville Glovers, Bassett Furnitute Makers, Tulsa Oilers, and all manner of Fruit Pickers, Raisin Eaters and Manufacturers. However, the Findlay Natural Gassers of the Inter-State League must have been relieved when their name was changed to Oilers.”
How could a fan base not rally around the…
More important than the discovery of the cave paintings in Lascaux, we have finally found the first official mention of the Mendoza Line.
“According to an SI poll of big league players, these words and phrases are the newest additions to the game’s lexicon:
When a struggling hitter pulls his average above .200, he has “crossed the Mendoza Line,” so named for former major-leaguer Mario Mendoza, whose career average (1974-81) was .216.
A “yakker” or an “Uncle Charlie” or the “yellow hammer” all describe a fine curve; “good cheese” is a blurring fastball.
A ball that “hits metal” has been misplayed by the fielder.
When a pitcher is “bridged” he has allowed a home run.
“If you’re waving at me, howdy,” is said to a player who strikes out swinging.”
(Photo via American Association Almanac)
While traveling around Baseball-Reference the other day, I came upon the story of Ed Kenna. Known as “the pitching poet” for his literary pursuits, sportswriter Charles Dryden wrote that Kenna, “may be long on meter but he pitches ragtime.” I may not know what that means exactly, but it sure isn’t a glowing account of his baseball ability. I think.
The precursor to Miguel Batista, Kenna pitched one year in the Major Leagues, going 1-1 with a 5.09 ERA in 17 innings for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1902, but hung around the minor leagues for another five seasons. Kenna was involved in a terrible accident in 1905, nearly losing his eye, but managed to throw 305 innings the next year and an unknown total in 1907. Talk about grit.
After his playing days, Kenna…
“If we can get him to replicate his swing three days in a row, Jose Bautista could hit 25 homers a year. In fact, I think he could hit 40. He is just so easily frustrated when it doesn’t go right that he blames himself and forgets what he’s learned. Or ignores it. But of all these guys I have, if you want one of them who will eventually do something special in this game, I’d pick him. I wouldn’t be very surprised.” –
Via Keith Olbermann comes an earth-shattering quote from Jeff Manto on Jose Bautista in the year 2007. Seriously, this is like if someone circa 1865 said, “You know, we always had our eye on that John Wilkes character. Dangerous fellow.” I don’t know what Jeff Manto’s political leanings are, but if he is this good at spotting hitters,
Via Keith Olbermann comes an earth-shattering quote from Jeff Manto on Jose Bautista in the year 2007. Seriously, this is like if someone circa 1865 said, “You know, we always had our eye on that John Wilkes character. Dangerous fellow.”
I don’t know what Jeff Manto’s political leanings are, but if he is this good at spotting hitters,
Saturday night, with CC Sabathia pounding him inside again and again, Adrian Gonzalez decided he would take a page out of Ichiro Suzuki’s book and add a little hop. Being the polite boy that he is, Gonzalez even alerted Terry Francona so that chaos wouldn’t reign supreme in the Red Sox dugout.
Via Reddit, a comparison:
Because of the sheer ballsiness of Gonzalez’s move, the world rewarded him with a three-run homer.
Said Gonzalez after the game:
“I told him because he’s never seen me do it,’’ Gonzalez said. “Normally I don’t. I’ve probably done it in San Diego like 10 at-bats, but he’s never seen me do it. If I go up there and do it, he might be, ‘What’s this guy doing?’ ’’ So, did he get the raised eyebrows from the manager? “He
Like how sausage is made and the story of one’s conception, there are some things that I’m fine with having swept under the rug. Which is why I didn’t care if Don Mattingly grew a goatee because the Dodgers were winning or because he felt like he needed a change or if he just hated how his face looked. The cover story was fine as is.
But today, Dylan Hernandez had to pull back the veil:
“Mattingly shaved his goatee. Said he grew it because he had a cold sore on the left side of his lip.”
Sometimes the ease of social media is a problem. Had there only been newsprint, chances are good this tidbit would never have seen the light of day.
(h/t Hardball Talk)
The first pitch of a team’s season may not actually mean or portend anything, but it’s pretty special to a lot of people. It means baseball is back.
Using MLB.com’s Gameday data, I tracked every team’s first pitch of the season. Here’s what I found*:
Following their famous 1965 concert at Shea Stadium, the Beatles were driven from the stage by Mets groundskeeper Pete Flynn.
Upon returning to Shea Stadium to perform with Billy Joel during his Last Play at Shea concert in 2008, Paul McCartney was driven to the stage by Mets groundskeeper Pete Flynn.
Pete Flynn: Groundskeeper by day, rock n’ roll chauffeur by night.
(Photo courtesy of nypersons’s Flickr page)
The record for the most strikouts in a game was set on September 12, 1962 by Tom Cheney, who as a Washington Senator fanned 21 Baltimore Orioles in 16 innings, throwing 228 pitches to reach the mark. In 2009, the average number of pitches for a starter was 95.
Charlie Kerfeld was quite a character. He spontaneously changed the spelling of his name to “Charley”, always pitched in a lucky Jetson’s shirt, gave an amazing drunken post-game interview in the 1986 playoffs, wore masks in the dugout, and received 37 boxes of Tequila Sunrise orange jello as a part of his 1987 contract (Charlie wore the number 37). Cheers to Charlie (or is it Charley?) for making the game a bit more fun.
There are (arguably) 23 ways to get to first either as a runner or a batter, but how do you score them? I’m trying to figure that out myself. The chart above most likely contains several errors, so I was wondering if any of our more knowledgeable scorekeeping aficionados would mind shedding some light on how to denote some of the stranger occurrences on the list. Here is a list of the 23 ways to first (courtesy of Eric Enders, who works for the MLB Hall of Fame) as I understand them. Please note that this is a rather controversial list and I am merely using it as an exercise.
This is simple enough. You are awarded first base if during an at bat you accumulate four balls.
2. Intentional Walk
If the opposing team deliberately walks…
Visually, Jeff Bagwell is one of the more fascinating players in recent baseball history. He gave us one of the greatest pieces of facial hair on the diamond and had an extremely unconventional batting stance. He was a short, slow guy who was a great base stealer. There are plenty of articles detailing Bagwell’s career and arguing for or against his candidacy for the Hall of Fame (he deserves it in my book) but I would like to spend a bit of time discussing some other statistics about Bagwell. Specifically, statistics about his batting stance and his immaculately sculpted facial hair. You know, the important stuff.
Uni watch has a great bit of trivia submitted by reader Randy Miller about Warren Giles’ apparent attempt to standardize baseball uniform numbering based on position. Here’s the basic overview:
The following year, 1939, the Reds adopted what we can call the Giles system: Manager Bill McKechnie wore No. 1; since teams had only two coaches in those days, Hank Gowdy wore 2 and Jimmie Wilson wore 3. Next came the catchers, who were assigned single-digit numbers (Lombardi went from 35 to 4). Infielders wore numbers in the 10s, outfielders in the 20s, and pitchers 30 on up (Vander Meer now wore 33.) The Reds would keep this uniform system into the 1960s
Go over to Uni watch to read the rest of the analysis. I have always loved the freedom baseball players have regarding uniform numbers, so I’m glad…
Bats rapidly wear down over the course of a season, flaking away through constant use and often breaking on poor swings, which result in the ball striking the bat away from the sweet, wide spot of the bat. Ballplayers go through an average of 100 bats during one season.
The first fielding gloves in baseball were flesh-colored, so that fans wouldn’t notice that the players were wearing them. Doug Allison, a catcher for the Cincinnati Red Stockings, was the first player to wear a glove in a game. Some early gloves were padded with beefsteak to reduce the sting of catching a ball.
The average lifespan of a baseball is six pitches, and on average, 5 dozens balls are used per game. The home team is required to have 90 balls available for each game. This article on answers.com has several more tibits, like how much the MLB spends on balls per game.
Kid Nichols, Robin Roberts, Early Wynn, Carlos Zambrano, Bruce Chen, Jorge Sosa, Wandy Rodriguez, Matt Belisle, Kyle Farnsworth, Brad Woodall, and Greg Harris are all pitchers who hit from both sides of the plate.
Top 25 most career PA for a switch-hitting pitcher:
1 Tony Mullane 2971
2 Kid Nichols 2260
3 Early Wynn 1903
4 Robin Roberts 1782
5 Ted Lyons 1726
6 Red Faber 1550
7 Will White 1537
8 Herb Pennock 1426
9 Jesse Tannehill 1303
10 Kid Gleason 1279
11 Eddie Cicotte 1221
12 Rube Marquard 1195
13 Larry French 1193
14 Ed Morris 1157
15 Red Ames 1122
16 Charlie Ferguson 1078
17 Three Finger Brown 1064
18 Mickey Lolich 1017
19 Hippo Vaughn 1015
Ted Williams won the AL batting titles when he was 39 and again at 40. The last At Bat of Ted’s career was a homerun on the last day of the 1960 season.