Any Ol’ Game: May 25, 1935, Boston Braves at Pittsburgh Pirates

I choose the years in this Any Ol’ Game pandemic series pretty much at random. I purposely don’t read all those “This Day In Baseball” posts. I don’t want anything special to get in my way – I want to find a game that’s so ordinary it’s been pretty much forgotten. I want to find the beauty in that unsung game.

The date is always the day that I post. Simple enough. But, sometimes strange things happen when I choose a year.

Very strange things.

Maybe I don’t pick the games after all. Maybe they pick me.

Take 1935.

May 25, 1935, a Saturday, was any ol’ day.

Embed from Getty Images

Jesse Owens

I was more interested in discovering what was going on in Ann Arbor that day at the Big 10 Championships where a 21-year-old Ohio State track and field star named Jesse Owens would set five world records and equal another in a span of 45 minutes.

3:15 p.m. – At 9.4 seconds, Owens equals the world record in the 100 Yard Dash

3:25 p.m. – Owens sets a world record with a 8.13 meter long jump

3:34 p.m. – Owens sets, in 20.3 seconds, two world records (in yards and meters) in the 220 yard/200 meter dash

4:00 p.m. – Owens sets, in 22.6 seconds, two world records (in yards and meters) in the 220 yard/200 meter low hurdles

While most of us know Owens from his Olympics heroics in 1936, his accomplishments between 3:15 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on May 25, 1935 are known by many as the greatest 45 minutes ever in sports history.

The NY Daily News, 5/26/1935

(The day’s reports had yet to recognize Owens’ two additional “meters” records in the 200 meter and 200 meter low hurdles races.)

That Owens did all this with a back injury so severe that he could barely bend over and touch his knees and his coach nearly pulled him from the event, makes it all the more remarkable.

Surely, one historic sporting event is enough for a single day like this. Continue reading

Any Ol’ Game: May 22, 1972, SF Giants at LA Dodgers

It has been brought to my attention that my “Any Ol’ Game” pandemic series has been biased by only covering American League games. In my defense, I haven’t even gotten to an Orioles game yet. But, yes, dear reader, you are correct. Let’s fix that.

What better teams to represent the National League than these two …

The San Bernadino County Sun, 5/23/1972

May 22, 1972

It was the first meeting of these legendary rivals since a benches-clearing brawl in September 1971, triggered when Giants pitcher Juan Marichal plunked Dodger Bill Buckner.

Sports Illustrated, 9/27/1971

Giants manager Charlie Fox called the May 22 rematch a “typical donnybrook.”

A Donnybrook, Live and In Color!

But, to be honest, this game doesn’t seem all that donnybrookish to me. No brouhahas, ballyhoos, williwaws, or kerfuffles on this pleasant Monday evening at Dodger Stadium.

But it was still one of baseball’s greatest, orneriest rivalries.

Need a ticket to the game? EBay has this one … just $10.

The Giants would defeat the Dodgers 9-8, thanks in no small part to 5 RBI from the Giants young slugger Dave Kingman.

Kingman proclaimed: “Beating the Dodgers is the biggest thrill in baseball to me. If I could put all my hits together I would hope they were against the Dodgers.”

This is, I’m sure you’ll agree, one of the greatest sports quotes ever. Continue reading

The Thing About Wednesdays …

© The Baseball Bloggess

Does every day seem like Wednesday to you?

It never feels like the beginning of the week any more. Or, the end.

It just feels like some nebulous place that is neither here nor there.

It seems, as Wednesdays actually are, as far away from the weekend as you can get.  Far away from nights out, restaurants, concerts, day hikes, farmers’ markets. Baseball.

Just one big endless Wednesday.

I have so few routines that haven’t been upended in some way in the past two months.

I rarely check the clock anymore, and I am often surprised when I do.

“It’s 9:30? How did it get to be 9:30?”

“Two o’clock already? I guess I forgot to have lunch.”

Some would say this is a good thing. That being untied to a clock or calendar is a reprieve from the demands of artificial time.

But, I like being tied. I like being needed. I like having something to do. Somewhere to be.

Something.

 

I miss this.

According to a new Gallup poll, 59 percent of Americans reported that they worried “a lot” back in March when this mess unfurled. Just 47 percent now.

In that poll, 72 percent of Americans reported being happy “a lot of the day yesterday.”  That’s a five-percent increase from late March.

Am I happier?

Well, it’s 10 a.m. and I’m still in my pajamas, still enjoying my morning coffee. Continue reading

Any Ol’ Game: May 15, 1941, Chicago White Sox at New York Yankees

You never know when you will just happen to be in the right place, at the right time, to witness something that will turn out to be important and historic.

OK, sure, a lot of the time you do know you’re witnessing something important and historic.

But, that kind of reasoning is not helping me make my point today.

My point is this …

Sometimes you don’t know.

The New York Yankees were shmooshed on May 15, 1941.

I’m going to write that again, because it was fun to write.

The New York Yankees were shmooshed, crushed, demolished, creamed, pounded, trounced, wrung out and hung up to dry on May 15, 1941.

(This is fun!)

The Chicago White Sox did the shmooshing and 13-1 was the final score.

New York Daily News, 5/16/1941

The Yankees had last won a game back on May 8. In their next five games – all losses – the Yankees were outscored 40-12.

Some 9,040 “hooting and hissing” Yankees fans turned out to watch the Yankees slide to 14-15 on the season.

(As an Orioles fan, I can confirm that a 14-15 record doesn’t sound all that bad.) Continue reading

Any Ol’ Game: May 11, 1934, Chicago White Sox at New York Yankees

Clocking in at 3 hours and 20 minutes, it was the longest game of the still-young 1934 baseball season.

A three-hour game is about average in the MLB these days. That is, if there were baseball, which there is not.

The New York Yankees bested the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium on May 11, 1934  – 7-6, in 14 innings.

Chicago Tribune, 5/12/1934

It was an Earle Combs triple followed by a Sammy Byrd single in the 14th that led to the walk-off win off of White Sox pitcher Whitlow Wyatt.

Sammy Byrd

(Byrd had been brought in, as he often was, to pinch run for Babe Ruth in the 7th and took over for him in right field.)

Whitlow Wyatt

Wyatt, the White Sox pitcher, gave up just three hits in 6-1/3 innings of work, but it was those last two in inning 14 that did him in.

Wyatt was brought in to relieve “Sad Sam” Jones who had gone seven innings for the Sox and gave up six runs.

Sad Sam Jones. He doesn’t look very sad to me.

Jones’ nickname came from a sportswriter who thought that the pitcher looked a little sad on the mound one day and Jones was stuck with “Sad Sam” for the remainder of his life. Jones later explained that perhaps he just seemed sad because he pulled his ball cap down low which shaded his eyes and made him look a little more downcast than others.

On May 11, I suspect Whit Wyatt was the sadder of the Sox.

All of this? Interesting, sure.

But, May 11, 1934 was a peculiar day in baseball. Continue reading

Everyone Knew Her As Babe

Dear Mom,

If you were still around, I wonder what you’d think about how things are today. I bet you’d be sitting at the kitchen table with that bemused look on your face that seemed to say, “How did I end up surrounded by so many idiots?” You wouldn’t roll your eyes. You wouldn’t say a word. You’d just have a look. That look. That look of bemused and deep, utter disappointment. You’d take another sip of coffee and not say a word.

You wouldn’t believe the mess we’re in these days, Mom. I’m rationing flour like it’s gold dust. I overbought eggs – just in case those are in short supply next. I rarely leave my house and when I do I have to wear a mask.

I know how you worry, Mom. But, really, don’t.  I promise you, the cats are ok.

I miss you. I love you.

My Mom was named Julie. Well, technically, Julie Ann. But, pretty much everyone called her Babe.

Babe

A lot of her friends probably didn’t even know what her real name was. To them, she was just Babe.

She was Babe because she was the youngest in her family, but that didn’t stop me from, on occasion, suggesting to her that she was named after Babe Ruth – which didn’t go over well. Or, Babe the Blue Ox – which went over even worse.

(My mom had just one sibling, an older sister who everyone called Sis. Editor/Husband wonders what Sis was called in the years before my mom was born – before “Sis” officially became someone’s sister. I am guessing her pre-“Sis” nickname was “Child.” Creativity in nicknaming was not my family’s strong suit.)

Public Domain

Other Babe

My mom was born in the summer of 1929 – a good, but not great, year for Babe Ruth who, at age 34 in a not-great year, was still able to lead baseball with 46 home runs. He swatted his 500th career homer on August 11, just 24 days after my mom was born. These incidents were, as far as I know, unrelated. Continue reading

Any Ol’ Game: May 4, 1903 – Washington At Boston

I am so tired of World Series reruns. Is that all ESPN and MLB keep in their archives? A handful of mostly Yankees games? I just want to see a game … a regular, any ol’ game. A game that will surprise me, not because it stands the test of time, but simply because it’s baseball.

Monday, May 4, 1903, Washington Senators at Boston Americans

The American and National Leagues would play the first-ever official World Series in October 1903.

But, on May 4, you couldn’t have guessed that the Boston Americans would win that Series.

First off, the squabbling National and American Leagues wouldn’t even agree to hold an interleague championship until August.

And, second, on May 4, the Boston Americans weren’t great. They weren’t even particularly good.

Coming off of a so-so 1902 season, the Americans (who wouldn’t be called the Red Sox until 1907) were 6-7 on May 4, mired in the middle of the pack and 2.5 games back of the White Sox. The Washington Senators were 2.5 games back, too. (The Senators would finish the season tied with the Cardinals for the worst record in baseball.)

It wasn’t a particularly news’y Monday, that May 4, but this Gold Medal Flour ad on page one of The Boston Globe caught my eye.

Fun Fact: Flour — Or The Lack Of It — Is Still Front-Page News Continue reading

Chapter One: Smelly

© The Baseball Bloggess

Smelly was small enough that he could turn himself sideways and wedge his shoulder between two of the gate’s metal bars. This allowed him to push his cheek so hard into one metal bar that his ear was almost – almost – inside the park.

This was how Smelly, the little neighborhood kid, listened to baseball.

Smelly? His name?

Smelly didn’t smell bad. Honest.

But, Smelly had the runniest nose in the neighborhood. He was constantly sniffling and snorting and wiping snot into the elbow of his shirt sleeves.

One day, on one of Smelly’s particularly snorty-snotty-runny-nose days, a no-good kid from another block said to him, “You’re a disgusting snothead.”

“I’m not a snothead,” Smelly replied. “I am smelling.” And, he took a long and deep and wet snotty-snorty inhale in the other kid’s direction. “And, I smell you.  And, you stink.”

From that point on, he became Smelly, which was, everyone agreed, a much better name than Snothead.

Smelly would always show up at Baltimore’s Camden Union ballpark on game day early. It was just six blocks away from Smelly’s house, he could run it in five minutes. (Unless he stopped for a bomb pop, which was worth the detour.)

With no fans allowed in, a game could start whenever both teams were ready. A two o’clock game could start at noon … or not until four. It all depended. It didn’t matter.

Daytime games saved the teams money; no need to turn on expensive lights. The game would be broadcast at night or whenever someone called it up on their “HV” Home Viewer. There were no announcers, just trails of information running continually at the bottom of the screen. No one cared that the games weren’t aired live. It didn’t matter.

It mattered to Smelly. Continue reading

Until Then, There Is Coffee

Sometimes I sit with my morning coffee and think …

This is it. This is the high point of my day.

It’s not that I don’t expect something better to happen in the hours ahead.

It’s not that I expect something worse.

I just take another sip and think …

Nothing. Nothing else is going to happen today.

This is both sort of sad, but also comforting.

At least the day had a high point. And, if nothing happens that means that nothing bad will happen.

That’s about as good as it gets these days.

This morning’s coffee, ordered special from a California roaster north of San Francisco where Editor/Husband and I spent our wedding day (long story), is smooth and rich and better than Starbucks or Peets or Dunkin’ Donuts, or whatever it is you can buy off the grocery shelf.

Two months ago, I would throw my coffee into my travel mug and rush out the door. I always like arriving early at my studio so when my first client of the day strolls in, I look settled … like I’ve been there for hours.

But, I didn’t savor the coffee. I had other things to do.

Now, with my studio closed, I pay very close attention to the coffee. What else do I have to do?

I’m sitting here, in my pajamas, drinking my coffee. I guess I’m looking pretty settled here. Bad hair day, sure. But, hey, whose isn’t?

On Monday mornings, I open the calendar on my computer and one-by-one delete each appointment for the week ahead. Delete. Delete. Delete.

I wonder how my clients are doing.

I wonder if they miss me.

I take another sip. Continue reading

Any Old April

If this were an ordinary, ho-hum, just-another-April, April …

If this were just a plain ol’ kick-winter-to-the-curb April …

If this were an April, the way Aprils are meant to be … the way they should be … the way they need to be …

There would be baseball.

There would be other things, too. There would be restaurants and movies and the ability to go into stores without worrying that taking one step inside is going to be the one step that tries to kill you.

There would be parties and concerts and – I know I mentioned this already – baseball.

So, here we are, near April’s end and the Baltimore Orioles are undefeated. UN. DE. FEAT. ED. Didn’t see that coming, did you?

For those of you baseball-complainers …

Those who complain … Continue reading