Like A Team Of Shaky Maracas

Baltimore Orioles utility infielder Ryan “Flash” Flaherty, who hasn’t pitched since high school, pitches the 9th in the Orioles painful 12-2 loss to the Houston Astros on Saturday.

I’m sitting here on the porch and the cicadas are so loud in the trees I can barely hear myself type.  (That would be a trite way to start except that it’s true.)

Seriously. Listen. I recorded them for you:

Cicadas are living maracas.

 

13,000 people have watched this YouTube video about how to draw maracas. This is what people do.

maracas

Not bragging, but I drew that.

Cicadas look nothing like maracas. They just sound like them. They look like this:

Here's a cicada, ready for anything!

© The Baseball Bloggess

Aww … Cute as kittens!

The cicadas are maraca-ing, so it must be time for the annual, “My team picked a fine time to swan-dive out of the playoffs” discussion.

(If you are trampolining upward toward the post-season – Red Sox fans, Mariners fans, you know who you are – good for you. This is a half-hearted “good for you” but know that deep down I wish you no ill.  Little ill. Not much ill. Well, I don’t hate you, but I’m in a pretty bad mood right now.)

Every spring, teams and managers will tell you that the games won or lost in April count the same as, and are as important as, the games won or lost in July … or August … or … you get the gist.

Mathematically, I guess this is true.

Math is not my strong suit. (I’m not even sure I spelled “mathematically” right.)

Hooey. The games in April might weigh the same, but they don’t count the same.

Because look at it this way.

Say you’re the Baltimore Orioles and it’s April and you get swept ugly by the Red Sox at home and then get pounded – mercilessly pounded – by the Astros. You have an entire season – some 140 or more games ahead of you – to make things right. More than 100 chances to fix the unholy, childish mess you made with tinny, disappointing pitchers who can’t find the strike zone and lumberjack-armed batters who can, but often swing through it with gale-force abandon.

I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed. (Oh my god, I sound like my mother.)

Because when you lose those games in August, like the Orioles just did this week, there’s not much time — and not many games — left to fix things.

Last night, in their blowout loss to the Astros (their second blowout loss in two days), the Orioles put their utility infielder Ryan Flaherty in to pitch the ninth inning. He told reporters he hadn’t pitched since high school. “Wasn’t very good in high school. Still not,” Flash said after the game.

This move was simply to rest a bullpen that has been overworked and as shaky as … well, a pair of unhappy maracas.

Watch:

flaherty pitches

Aww … Cute as kittens!

Fun Fact: Orioles ace starter Chris Tillman gave up 6 earned runs in two innings last night. That’s a game ERA of 27.00. Flaherty, who hasn’t pitched since high school (and, remember, he wasn’t very good even then), gave up 2 runs in one inning. His ERA is 18.00. See. Numbers can make your head hurt.

The Orioles are 2.5 games out of first in the AL East. They are currently one game up on frisky, surging Seattle for the second wild card spot.

Dear Orioles, you have 40 games to fix this mess.

 

“Hot As Hell, Ain’t It Prez?”

100 degrees

It is 100 here again today. It is hot and humid and sticky. It is miserable.

If it is not 100 degrees where you are, I am both happy for you and a little annoyed that you deserve better weather than me.

There is baseball this afternoon in Richmond – minor league ball – and in younger times we would go.

But, not today. Not when it’s 100. Because these are not younger times and age slows you down. Age tires you out. And, age protects you from doing stupid things like going to a baseball game when it is 100 degrees outside.

Because 100 is a lot of anything.

Dennis Eckersley threw 100 complete games in his career.  Which is strange because I’m of the generation that remembers him mainly as a shaggy-headed closer.

Eckersley, 1978-ish.

Randy Johnson, also shaggy-headed, threw 100 complete games in his career, too.

Johnson, 1990-ish.

(Similarly shaggy Mike Flanagan of the Baltimore Orioles threw 101 which doesn’t quite fit the roundness of this post, but I’m mentioning him anyway because Flanny was amazing. And, an Oriole.)

Flanny, 1979.

It took Eck 15 seasons as a starter to get to 100. It took Johnson 22, because pitchers just don’t do that sort of thing anymore.

There was a time in baseball when 100 complete games was no big thing. More than 400 pitchers have done it, including Babe Ruth (107).

Elton “Ice Box” Chamberlain threw 264 complete games back in the 19th century. (I just wanted to write “Ice Box.”)

Cy Young 1908 public domain

Public Domain

Cy Young threw 749.

(I have anticipated your next question: My Metropolitan Dumpling Bartolo Colon of the Mets at 36 and the similarly dumplingesque C.C. Sabathia of the Yankees at 38 have the most career complete games among current pitchers.)

No Orioles starter has pitched a complete game since 2014. (The San Francisco Giants have thrown nine this season.)

Today, a “quality start” from a pitcher requires just six innings giving up no more than three runs.

That level of quality for a starter was a faux statistic invented in the mid-1980s by John Lowe, a Philadelphia sportswriter.

Now, it’s how we measure pitchers.

But, enough about pitchers.

Let’s talk about how hot it is.

It’s hard to know for sure, but it’s thought that the hottest baseball game on record took place on August 26, 1988, a Friday night in Arlington, Texas.

Blue Jays Rangers 1988

The Rangers beat the Blue Jays, 5-1.

It was 109 degrees.

(Game Attendance: 13,642 incredibly hardy, sweaty, possibly drunk fans.)

(No complete game by either starter, but if you check out the box score you’ll find that three of the four pitchers that night also played at some point for the Orioles.)

Babe_Ruth_1922

1922. Public Domain.

Back in the 1920s, before a game in Washington, DC on a sweltering day, President Calvin Coolidge came by to meet the visiting Yankees. Babe Ruth shook his hand, wiped the sweat from his brow, and said, “Hot as hell, ain’t it Prez?”

They say it’ll hit 100 degrees in Virginia again today. It’s already thick outside. It even smells hot. Hot as hell, ain’t it?

Dear Yoga. Thank You. Signed, Baltimore Orioles.

the only thing missing is you

When I’m not at the ballpark, you can often find me here … in my Yoga studio in Orange, Virginia. (Sorry, still haven’t figured out how to take a selfie.)

As I began my fifth year of “bloggessing” yesterday, the Baltimore Orioles finished their three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians, ensuring one more night of sweet dreams atop the AL East.

AL East Standings

Look! It’s the Orioles!

Stay with me. This Bloggess Public Service Announcement will take only a few seconds of your time …

Yesterday. Orioles and Indians. Bottom of the 9th  Tied at 3.

One man on base, two outs. Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold comes in to pinch hit. Yes, the O’s were pinning their hopes on someone who hadn’t even played that day. He doesn’t get many chances to play at all, really.

And, this happened …

Two-run walk-off home run.

Game over. Orioles win.

How can a player come in, tamp down the stress, focus, and crush a baseball like that?

Let Nolan’s wife Jenny explain:

The moral of the story ….

Yoga cannot guarantee that you will hit a walk-off home run for your team.  But, if Yoga helps Nolan Reimold perform at the highest level … along with scores of other big leaguers who rely on Yoga every day to keep them strong, toned, mentally focused, steady, and flexible … imagine what it could do for you.

mats-mats-mats-e1419795494514

If you’ve got an hour, I’ve got the mats.  (And, if you’re not nearby, I’m sure there’s a Yoga studio near you … and they’ll have a mat you can borrow.)

The Cleanup Hitter

The 4th batter in a baseball lineup is the Cleanup Hitter.

(In a perfect world, the Cleanup Hitter’s job is to clean up the bases with a home run or a double. You know, something awesome, exciting, and powerful.)

Today, the Baseball Bloggess celebrates its (her? my?) 4th birthday. And, to celebrate, a bit of cleanup is in order.

I take a lot of photos at ballgames. But, I’m trying to watch and score the game, too – so I don’t capture much of the action … no exciting steals of second, no miracle catches at the wall.

There’s not a lot of dust kicking up in my photos.

Most of the photos I take just sit quietly on my computer, in their folders, like the utility guy on the bench patiently waiting for a chance to play.

So, here’s some cleanup – four recent photos that I’m sweet on, but don’t quite fit anywhere.

Orioles Outfielder Joey Rickard … 

Joey Rickard Orioles vs Angels 7 9 2016

© The Baseball Bloggess

“Bats, they are sick. I cannot hit curveball. Straightball I hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid. [C]ome, take fear from bats.” ~ Pedro Ceranno in the movie Major League (1988)

The Baltimore Orioles bats went cold this month.

Power bats slump from time to time, and teams often slump together.

I think Rickard’s putting a spell on his bat here as he comes to the plate.

Poor Joey went on the DL this week and is out for the next four to six weeks with a thumb injury.  Heal up, Joey, the team needs you!

But, I think his spell worked, because the team bats are finding their mojo again … and, hey, look at this …

al east standings

Photo: Los Angeles Angels at Baltimore Orioles. Camden Yards, Baltimore. July 9, 2016.

Another Bunt! … 

© The Baseball Bloggess

University of Virginia third baseman Justin Novak lays down a bunt.

A few days ago I wrote about bunts and how much I love them. And, you all agreed!

I think we love bunts because we are thoughtful and cerebral and strategic. (And, because, at some point in Little League or junior high gym class, we bunted. Sure, we couldn’t hit one out, but, by golly, we could bunt.)

Photo: Georgia Tech at University of Virginia. Davenport Field, Charlottesville, VA. May 14, 2016.

Jubilation …

© The Baseball Bloggess

University of Virginia celebrating a run.

In a pivotal series against the University of North Carolina in April it looked like the University of Virginia had turned their season around.

The turnaround got the Cavaliers to the NCAA Regional Tournament in June, but that’s where their season ended.

Still, this photo is one of my favorites. Because … happy. That’s all. Just happy.

Photo: University of North Carolina at University of Virginia. Davenport Field, Charlottesville, VA. April 17, 2016.

Racing Mascots … 

© The Baseball Bloggess

There’s more to baseball than baseball.

The Washington Nationals Racing President Thomas Jefferson visits Charlottesville from time to time and is here racing – or being chased by, depending on how you look at things – Cosmo, a sheepdog, and “Prairiewether Lewis,” a prairie dog, at a recent Tom Sox game.

(A question you may have: Why does a prairie dog – a species that doesn’t even live in Virginia — represent the Charlottesville Tom Sox? Editor/Husband responds: “In 1805, the explorers Lewis and Clark sent a live prairie dog to President Jefferson at the White House.” Yes, he really knows this stuff.)

Photo: Covington Lumberjacks at Charlottesville Tom Sox. (Valley League) Cville Weekly Ballpark, Charlottesville, VA. July 7, 2016.

Last month, a Facebook exec predicted that in the next five years Facebook would “probably be all video.”

According to Cisco Systems: “It would take an individual five-million years to watch the amount of video that will cross global IP networks each month in 2020.”

Words are, sadly, obsolete.

But, on the bright side, I’ve still got five years to figure out how to use the video camera on my six-year-old Droid phone.

Happy Birthday, Baseball Bloggess … here’s to four – and, apparently, only four – more years.

Also, cleaning up today? Those pesky ads that sometimes appear at the bottom of these posts. I keep worrying that some political ad will find its way on here and ruin your day. You can’t buy me, you angry political meanies! Get off my blog!  Which is to say, those little ads that pop-up at the bottom of posts should now be gone. (But, if you see one, let me know so I can stamp my feet and complain to someone.)

 

“Get Up There & Bunt”

No one really likes the bunt.

Baseball players bunt because their manager tells them to or because nothing else seems to be working.

They bunt – usually as a sacrifice, giving up an out in the process – because they have to.

No one likes the bunt, do they? I mean really really likes it?

President William Taft hated the bunt. And, now he’s celebrated as one of the Racing Presidents at Washington Nationals games …

© The Baseball Bloggess, 2016

“It also came out at the game that Mr. Taft does not like the bunt.  … ‘I like to see them hit it out for all that is in them.’”  The New York Times, May 31, 1909

In 2005, then-Nationals Manager Frank Robinson told The Washington Post that even his pitchers complained when he called on them to bunt.

 

“They cry about it,” Robinson said. “They’ll say, ‘I’m a pretty good hitter.’ I’ll say, ‘You’re hitting .130. How is that a pretty good hitter?’ I tell them to get up there and bunt.”

And, yes, legendary Baltimore Orioles Manager Earl Weaver didn’t like the bunt either: “I’ve got nothing against the bunt – in its place. But most of the time that place is the bottom of a long-forgotten closet.”

Some experts argue that at the college level it’s more difficult to bunt with an aluminum bat. But, I see it at college games all the time.

Justin Novak Bunts UVA E Carolina Regional 6 4 16

© The Baseball Bloggess

University of Virginia third baseman Justin Novak squares to bunt in the 2016 NCAA Regional Tournament

Some fans and players might consider a bunt dull baseball. I think it’s beautiful.

Even Babe Ruth knew a well-placed bunt can make all the difference …

Babe Ruth Bunted NYTimes 10 11 1921

New York Times, October 11, 1921

Babe Ruth “near collapse” wins the game with a bunt!

A batter squares up to bunt – and with that one simple movement and change of position he has told everyone, including every infielder, exactly what he intends to do. He knows that where he drops that bunt is key. He knows he’s going to have to run like hell.

It’s sort of gutsy when you stop to think about it.

Oh, and last week’s Korean All-Star Game included a bunting competition which is sort of like if you took bunting and curling and mooshed them together.

The result is absolutely awesome.

 

Milacki, Flanagan, Williamson, Olson

“Finding good players is easy. Getting them to play as a team is another story.” ~ Casey Stengel

Milacki Flanagan Williamson Olson No Hitter 7 13 1991

On July 13, 1991, in a game in Oakland versus the A’s, Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Bob Milacki threw a no-hitter.

So did Orioles reliever Mike Flanagan.

And, so did Orioles relievers Mark Williamson and Gregg Olson.

It was a four-pitcher no-hitter.

Not unheard of, but kind of rare.

In a game that prides itself on the power of teamwork, there’s an awful lot of focus on individual performance in baseball.

So, you may sniff a bit and say, “Hmm, four pitchers to get through a game? That’s no big deal.”

But, you’re wrong.

No hit is no hit. And, the A’s, including Jose Canseco, Harold Baines, Mark McGwire, and a young Mike Bordick, no hit that day.

(Baines and Bordick went on to play for the Orioles, and Bordick is, today, a color guy for Orioles games on television.)

Sure, there are a few of you Giants and Dodgers fans who are so used to no-hitters that you’re a bit surprised to learn that one team has never even had one.

(Sorry, San Diego Padres … it’s still you.)

Seven pitchers had no-hitters last season – five came after the All-Star Break.

Just one this season so far. (Congratulations, former Oriole, reigning Cy Young, and current Cub Jake Arrieta!)

But, see! Even I have wandered off into the land of individual excellence and in less than 200 words, I’ve abandoned those four Orioles pitchers – including two (Milacki and Williamson) that even seasoned Orioles fans don’t really remember – and this is supposed to be about them.

Since becoming the Baltimore Orioles in 1954, there have been only five Orioles no-hitters.

Hoyt Wilhelm versus the Yankees in 1958.

Steve Barber and Stu Miller versus the Tigers in 1967.

Tom Phoebus versus the Red Sox in 1968.

Jim Palmer versus the A’s in 1969.

And, Milacki, Flanny, Williamson, and Olson 25 years ago this past week.

(For the cruel readers out there – and I know some of you by name – I know what you’re asking, so here … the Orioles have been on the receiving end of a no-hitter seven times, most recently last season.)

13 Jul 1991: Pitcher Greg Olson of the Baltimore Orioles prepares to throw the ball as the scoreboard behind him shows that he has pitched a no-hitter during a game against the Oakland Athletics. (Getty Images)

See, even Getty Images can’t get the game straight. Olson threw one no-hit inning. Milacki threw six. Flanny and Williamson, one each.

(Oh, and it’s Gregg Olson, not Greg Olson.)


BALTIMORE, MD – CIRCA 1991: (L-R) Paul Kilgus #17, Mike Flanagan #46, Mark Williamson #32 and Gregg Olson #30 of the Baltimore Orioles pose together for this portrait prior to the start of a Major League Baseball game circa 1991 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. (Getty Images)

Oh, for crying out loud. That’s Bob Milacki on the left, not Paul Kilgus.

Come on people, how hard can it be? These four pitchers threw a combined no-hitter!

(Kilgus did, indeed, pitch briefly for the Orioles in 1991, but I had to look that up to make sure. Fun Fact: he looks nothing like Bob Milacki.)

milacki kilgus

Milacki was cruising through six when he was hit on the hand by a comebacker.

That might have done in both Milacki and the no-hitter. But, the ball ricocheted off his hand and bounced right to first baseman Randy Milligan for the out.

Milacki’s day was done. Although bruised and swelling, his hand wasn’t badly injured, and he argued to stay in the game, to no avail.

“I thought I could still pitch with it,” he said afterwards. “They didn’t want me to risk it. I was very disappointed. You never want to come out of a game like that.”

The Orioles scored just two runs – catcher Chris Hoiles batted in beloved utility guy Chito Martinez in the fifth and outfielder Mike Devereaux homered in the sixth.

Flanagan, Williamson, and Olson each pitched one hitless inning. The game ended. The Orioles won.

Thanks to Orioles closer Gregg Olson, who shared this 30-second recap online. Otherwise I’d have no video to share.

“There was no raucous celebration,” The Baltimore Sun reported the next day.  After striking out Harold Baines to end the game, “Olson walked off the mound the same way he did after each of his first 18 saves. The Orioles took the field slowly, as if they still were trying to digest what had happened.”

“It kind of seemed like nobody knew what was happening,” Olson told The Sun. “There weren’t really any diving plays or great plays to save it. Bob Milacki is the guy who deserves all the credit. If he had been out there [in the ninth], there would have been a dog pile on the mound.”

“Perhaps it was the [Oakland] crowd that set the tone,” The Sun continued. “Fans began leaving the stadium before the game was over, apparently unimpressed over only the second four-pitcher no-hitter in major-league history.”

(There have been other multi-pitcher no-hitters, including a couple six-pitcher affairs, since then.)

The Orioles are surrounded by former players today – like Jim Palmer, Boog Powell, Rick Dempsey, and Cal Ripken – who stay close to the team and remind fans of the O’s two World Series championships (in ‘66 and ‘83).

This season the O’s are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their 1966 trophy with special events and promotions.

50th Anniversary 1966 World Series Patch

So, maybe the 25th anniversary of that understated, but still wonderful, four-man no-hitter has gotten lost. And, that’s a shame.

Because nothing says teamwork like a no-hitter shared.

There have been 295 no-hitters in major league baseball. Babe Ruth threw one. And, yes, dear Orioles readers, Ubaldo Jimenez threw one for the Rockies in 2010.

And, on July 13, 1991, Bob Milacki, Mike Flanagan, Mark Williamson, and Gregg Olson threw one, too.

Orioles As No Hit Line July 13 1991

Box Score

 

A Thursday Without Baseball

I’m a little disappointed to learn that Pokémon Go has nothing to do with Gumby’s faithful sidekick.

Do not bring your Pokémon to my world. The only Pokey-anything I recognize is an orange horse that is adorable, made of clay, and bends. My world includes Gumby, dammit.

gumby and pokey

(Don’t even try to explain Pokémon to me. Just don’t.)

It is Thursday. There is no baseball tonight.

Here are three things you can do until baseball returns.

ONE: Now that I’ve watched this old episode where Gumby meets Pokey for the first time, I wonder if I have ever even seen a Gumby cartoon. Because it’s strange and trippy, wonderful and terrifying. There are more than a few childhood nightmares lurking in GumbyWorld. It would have scared the hell out of me. I learned from this 1956 episode that Pokey is not orange as I always thought – he is red – and he talks. Gumby has an incredibly unsafe relationship with firearms, but Pokey seems all right.

Pokey The Red Bendy Horse – 1  Pokemon Go – 0.

 

TWO:  I may not Pokémon, but I can waste hours online as well as anyone. Look what I found … a photo messer-upper!  (Don’t tell me about Instagram. I don’t care.) I like this simple and satisfying way to take a photo and make it look like someone spray painted it on a brick wall.  There is no reason to do this, but I’m pleased to discover I can.

Joey Rickard Bunting On The Wall

© The Baseball Bloggess

That’s Orioles Rule 5 Draft Pick Joey Rickard and his big league sacrifice bunt splattered up there on the wall.

You can waste hours messing up your own photos in all kinds of ways here:

Picture to PeopleTHREE: There is no three. There is only killing time with Gumby, Pokey, photo messer-uppers … and this

gumby dammit

Baseball is back tomorrow.

Photo: Los Angeles Angels at Baltimore Orioles. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore. July 9, 2016. Orioles outfielder Joey Rickard, sacrifice bunt. Orioles win 3-2.   © The Baseball Bloggess

A Wednesday Without Baseball

“There are two ways of learning to play base ball: the one is to learn it for the objects of recreation and exercise, and the other in order to become a skillful and noted player.”

Chris Davis Johnny Giavotella

© The Baseball Bloggess

 “To learn the game, therefore, for the simple purpose of a few hours of recreation of a summer’s afternoon, is an easy task; but to go into a regular course of training, in order to become a professional player … involves steady and persevering application, fatiguing exertion, plenty of pluck and nerve, thorough control of the temper, great powers of endurance, and, withal, the physical aptitude to excel. …” The Game of Base Ball. How to Learn it, How to Play it, and How to Teach it. By Henry Chadwick, 1868

It is Wednesday. There is no baseball tonight.

It’s the annual All-Star break and there will be no major league games until Friday. It’s a civilized break that all those players with plenty of pluck and nerve have earned.

I fell asleep during last night’s All-Star Game, which I’m a little ashamed about. It makes me sound old, which I suppose I am. Pluckless, I guess. Maybe I just needed a civilized break, too.

I have nothing to do on this night without baseball.

Except wonder how the Orioles will do when they play again on Friday.

Photo: Los Angeles Angels at Baltimore Orioles. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore. July 9, 2016. Orioles first baseman Chris Davis has the ball; the Angels’ Johnny Giavotella is out on the play. Orioles win 3-2.   © The Baseball Bloggess

Two “Inglorious Defeats” & A Somber 4th of July

Twice Beaten Buffalo Morning Express July 5 1881

Buffalo Morning Express, July 5, 1881

There’s a lot of baseball on the 4th of July.  Playing baseball on Independence Day is a tradition that goes back more than a century – pretty much as long as baseball has been baseball.

All 30 big league teams will play today (weather permitting). There will be hundreds more playing in the minors, college summer leagues, kids’ leagues, and pick-up games. There will be a lot of baseball.

This is not about any of today’s games. (Except to say, “Good luck, Orioles. Don’t screw this road trip up any worse than you already have.”)

1881 was as good a 4th of July as any for baseball, I figured.

Because there were two games in Buffalo that day, along with two in Detroit, that marked the first-ever major league doubleheaders specifically created to take advantage of a holiday.

Mickey Welch

Public Domain

Troy Trojans Pitcher Mickey Welch

Because future Hall of Fame pitcher Mickey Welch of the Troy Trojans pitched both of those games against the Buffalo Bisons – complete games, winning both, including a three-hit shut-out in the afternoon.

Because, that 4th of July also was Welch’s 22nd birthday.

Game One: Troy Trojans – 8  Buffalo Bisons – 3

Game Two: Troy Trojans – 12 Buffalo Bisons – 0

There are no box scores from that game.

Well, that’s not exactly right. There are box scores. I just can’t read them …

Troy at Buffalo Game 1 July 4 1881

Game 1 Box Score. Buffalo Morning Express, July 5, 1881

Pitching was different in 1881. Complete games – and two-man pitching rotations – were as normal then as worn-out bullpens and six-inning “quality starts” from your ace are today.

Troy Trojans unknown date

Public Domain

Troy Trojans, early 1880s. Welch may be the player seated at the far left.

Troy was a pretty lousy team with few hometown fans. So, the owners agreed to move a July 5 home game to fill out the Buffalo doubleheader. The teams would make more at the gate in Buffalo on a holiday then they could ever make in Troy on a Tuesday.

The story should end there:

The 4th of July. A Monday, just like today’s.

Mickey Welch – “Smiling Mickey,” the future Hall of Famer with the friendly demeanor and an assortment of quirky underhand curves – pitches 18 innings and wins two complete games in baseball’s first holiday doubleheader.

On his birthday. On America’s birthday.

Smiling Mickey Welch Baseball Card

I love that story.

Except for this.

As in all things, baseball doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

NYTimes July 3 1881 Garfield Shot

New York Times, July 3 1881

Two days earlier, President James A. Garfield was shot at a train station in Washington, DC.

President James Garfield

Public Domain

President Garfield

If you know your high school history, this will all sound vaguely familiar. Just three months into his Administration, a deranged office-seeker shot Garfield twice – once in the arm and once in the belly. And, if you remember your medical science classes, you might recall that Garfield died two months later, not from the actual gunshot wounds, but from infection caused by the virtually nonexistent sanitation practices of the time and all the unwashed, dirty fingers that doctors used to probe the belly wound.

This lets a lot of the air out of an otherwise sweet 4th of July story.

The country was in shock. Citizens clogged city streets near newspaper and telegraph offices to get the latest news on the condition of the President.

His “condition” depended on the newspaper …

Washington Evening Critic July 4 1881 Garfield Critical But Not Hopeless

NY Times July 4 1881 Every Hope of Recovery Garfield Improving

Buffalo Evening News July 4 1881 Hope Is Dead

Washington Evening Critic, New York Times, and Buffalo Evening NewsJuly 4, 1881

Many cities cancelled their Independence Day fireworks and events out of respect.

Buffalo called off its military parade. The city’s annual boating regatta went on as planned because, organizers agreed, the President seemed to be doing better by Sunday, and the weather was supposed to be perfect.

BuffEveNews 7 5 1881 how Independence Day was Celebrated in Buffalo

Buffalo Evening News, July 5, 1881

The Regatta, a Pigeon Shoot, and the Independence Day revelry of people shooting at each other went on as scheduled in Buffalo.

Despite the somberness of the weekend, people tried to get back to normal.

Baseball went on as planned and more than 4,000 fans attended the games against the Trojans at Buffalo’s Riverside Park.

“In the afternoon the stands were filled to sardine compactness and the assemblage was very enthusiastic,” according to the next day’s Buffalo Morning Express.

Troy surprised the Bisons. “It does seem ridiculous that such a motley combination of base-ball talent should be able, when they play in this city, to do such good work as the Troys,” The Express reported.  “The [12-0 afternoon game] was a disgrace to the name of the Buffalos. … Welch was too much for the home club.”

The 4th of July wins were rare ones for the Troy Trojans. They finished the season in fifth place in the National League, with a 39-45 record. Twenty-one of those wins belonged to Welch.

President Garfield never recovered. He died on September 19.

The Troy Trojans folded the following season and Welch went on to become a star with the New York Gothams, whom you may know today by the nickname which ultimately stuck with them – the Giants.

Mickey Welch with NY Giants

Public Domain

After finishing his playing career – amassing 307 wins and a career 2.71 ERA — Welch went on to run a hotel and saloon and then a dairy business, before returning to baseball as a gatekeeper and attendant at both the Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium.

Mickey Welch died of heart failure, at age 82, on July 30, 1941. On his death certificate his “Usual Occupation” was listed as this: “Baseball player.”

Death Certificate July 1941 Mickey Welch

ancestry.com, New Hampshire Death Records

3,000 Pounds of Baseball Uniforms

“There was a little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good she was very, very good, and when she was bad she wore this divine nightdress of rose-colored mousseline de soie, trimmed with frothy Valenciennes lace.” ~ Dorothy Parker

2016 Uniform Collage

courtesy of sportslogos.net

A recent study of clothes and fashion found that the average woman, of which I am one, has 27 pairs of shoes. (I am assuming they all belong to her and she’s not like a puppy stealing the neighbor’s shoes and burying them in her closet.)

Men have, on average, 12 pairs. (They all look vaguely similar and most of them are New Balance.)

Women take a lot of heat from guys who don’t understand why we need so many shoes, including at least one pair that we’ve never worn. Sure, it doesn’t make sense. To you. But, it does to me, so shut up about the shoes.

If you want to rag on fashion, how about Major League baseball?

Because in 2016, the 30 teams will wear all sorts of specialty uniforms – throwback days that nearly every team has, and league-wide celebrations of holidays and special events, including Mother’s and Father’s Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, the All-Star Game, and even the Home Run Derby, which isn’t even a game, but three hours of watching your favorite player destroy his swing for the rest of the season.

Teams will wear each of these special jerseys and caps for one day and that will be that.

So before you make fun of what women keep in their closets, be advised that while we, on average, do have something tucked away on a hanger that we only wore once (and maybe, kind of, regret now), Major League Baseball has given every player lots of wear-it-once jerseys and caps – in addition to their regular three or four home-and-away uniforms.

With 750 active players on team rosters, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, and the Fourth of July alone will add up to 3,000 special caps and jerseys – which, Mathlete Alert!, will weigh about 3,000 pounds. (The average cap weighs 6 ounces, the average jersey, 10 ounces.)

After the games, players and coaches autograph their one-day jerseys so they can be auctioned off with the proceeds going to various veterans’ organizations and cancer research groups. (Although with 3,000 of these things going on the block every season, when will the “exclusive” wear off?)

But, I like the effort. Good for you, baseball.

Unfortunately, the jerseys are, for the most part, meh.

You can check out every single one that will be worn by every single team this season here.

Mother’s Day?

Mothers Day Cap 2016

courtesy of sportslogos.net

Pink.

Father’s Day?

Fathers Day Cap 2016

courtesy of sportslogos.net

Blue.

Memorial Day?

Memorial Day Camo Caps 2016

courtesy of sportslogos.net

I can still see the logos, so that’s lousy camouflage if you ask me.

Fourth of July.

Fourth of July Cap 2016

courtesy of sportslogos.net

Stars.

Whoo.

I do like the Home Run Derby jerseys which will be worn during this year’s All-Star Game festivities – but not the actual game – in San Diego.

Home Run Derby Jerseys

courtesy of sportslogos.net

They pay homage to the 1970s-era Padres and their very, um, 1970s sense of fashion. In an era that churned out way too many baby blue leisure suits, elephant bell bottoms, and boxy crocheted vests, there’s something warm and retro-sweet about that Padres’ brown-orange-and-mustard combo. It reminds me of my mom’s kitchen.

Sure, I could complain about the Fourth of July and these dull star-speckled caps, but I think I do that every year around this time, mainly because I’m curious to see how the Toronto Blue Jays will celebrate a holiday that doesn’t belong to them.

This year …

Orioles Fourth of July Cap 2016

courtesy of sportslogos.net

A bunch of stars for 29 teams.

Blue Jays Fourth of July Cap 2016

courtesy of sportslogos.net

A bunch of maple leafs for Toronto.

It’s supposed to look like mesh, I suppose, but it reminds me of those old dot-matrix printers that you might be too young to remember.

dot matrix printer sample

The throwbacks that many teams will wear throughout the season are way cooler. Like the Pittsburgh Pirates in their Stargell-era uniforms that they are wearing on Sundays.

Pirates Sunday Night Throwbacks

Awww, it’s the pillbox cap!

But, the coolest of all are those that turn up each season in the minor leagues.

Like the Stockton Ports who recently celebrated Asparagus Night.

stockton ports asparagus night

And, the Lehigh Iron Pigs who celebrate bacon every Saturday.

Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs Bacon Saturdays

And, the Fresno Grizzlies who celebrate tacos every Tuesday.

Fresno Grizzlies Taco Tuesdays

I wish every day was Taco Tuesday. I am so hungry right now I can’t even finish this post …

BIG THANKS to Chris Creamer of SportsLogos.Net who kindly allowed me to use his photos of this year’s specialty uniforms. Check out his website here: http://www.sportslogos.net