About Jackie, The Baseball Bloggess

Loves the 4-6-3 and the serial comma. All baseball is good baseball, but when the Orioles or UVa 'Hoo's take the field, it's great baseball. Baseball historian ... because baseball touches everything. www.thebaseballbloggess.com And, for the Yoga ... www.peacefulhands.com

The Wheelbarrow

 

 

The True Part: This wheelbarrow sits in the middle of a nearby farmyard. I pass it every time I drive or walk down our road. It’s been there for years, through at least the last two families who have lived there. I don’t know how it got there or why it stays there. But, it got me thinking  …

The Wheelbarrow

He could tell you the exact moment when he knew his playing days were through.

It happened toward the end of a meaningless game on a humid Wednesday at the end of September. He was at bat, a 3-0 count, when Swelter Feeney’s fastball caromed off his wrist. Feeney hit batters all the time, so it didn’t surprise him. If he had jerked away a second sooner, maybe it wouldn’t have hit him square on the bones. But, he hadn’t, and it did. He knew right away it was bad. He knew right away things had changed.

He jogged to first and fought back a grimace. Bones were broken – at least one, probably more – in his wrist. He was sure of that. Teams didn’t have trainers back then and he didn’t need a doctor to tell him his hand would never be the same.

He bluffed his way through the rest of the game – a game they lost – hiding the fast-swelling hand from prying eyes. Didn’t say a word. He didn’t want to lose his job, the only job he ever wanted.

That night he ate nearly an entire bottle of aspirin and tied an old rag around the wrist to quiet the throbbing. He found a pair of old tin snips and, with his good hand, cut a circle out of a pie pan and pushed a thin piece of tin into his glove, loosening the leather laces and splitting part of the glove at the bottom so he could press his swollen hand behind the tin, which, he hoped, would soften the blow of ball into glove. It helped. But, only a little. Continue reading

Baseball & The Moon

“The love of base ball is wide spread. A little six year old was sitting upon the steps, with a base ball in his hand, gazing intently at the moon. ‘Pa, is there only one man in the moon?’ asked he.

“’That’s the tradition my son; the man in the moon is the only inhabitant of that bright world we have ever heard of.’

“After a moment of pause he remarked with a sigh, ‘He must be lonesome, pa, with no one to play base ball with.’”

— The Marysville (Kansas) Enterprise, 1867

Photo: “Kids In June.” The Baseball Bloggess, 6/26/2021

Photo: Pixabay via Pexels.com

 

Relationship Status: It’s Complicated

Dear Baltimore Orioles,

Hi.

It’s been a while since we talked and I didn’t want it to come to this. Really, I didn’t.

But, you leave me no choice.

You see, I’ve put up with a lot from you lately. And, by lately, I mean over the past 1,183 days.

That starting point is not arbitrary. It was March 29, 2018 – Opening Day. You won that game. Good for you.

Sure, it took 11 innings. But, you won.

In the past 1,183 days since Opening Day 2018 you have played 458 games. You’ve lost 67 percent of them – 309 games.

You’ve lost games by a run, two runs, 13 runs. Like Baskin-Robbins ice cream, you offer a lot of variety in your losses.

Baseball Nut? Yes. Pink Bubblegum? Entirely unnecessary.

While I hate math, even I can see that you have lost nearly all of the games you have played since 2018.

Nearly all of them.  

I have kept my mouth shut long enough. Continue reading

An Unfussy Meal For An Unfussy Man

My dad was not a fussy man.

He probably never gave a minute’s thought to whether anyone would remember him once he was gone.

I’m pretty sure he lived mostly in the moment … he didn’t sit around reminiscing about growing up or growing old, or wonder or worry about what was going to happen next.

Not out loud, anyway. Not with me, anyway.

(Did I have a mohawk?)

One of the only things my dad would reminisce about – and he talked about it often – was a Basque restaurant he would stop and eat at in Fresno from the days when we lived in California and he would work the Sacramento-Stockton-Fresno circuit.

It must have been one helluva restaurant because my dad had a good long life and many meals with which to compare. He must have had plenty of other more interesting things to remember. He must have had other good meals. Better meals.

He must have. Continue reading

Ahhh, Sports …

“You could be a kid for as long as you want when you play baseball.” ~ Cal Ripken, Jr.

© The Baseball Bloggess, 2021 regular season

Kids, these days.

The Virginia Cavaliers will play Dallas Baptist in the Columbia, SC best-of-three NCAA Super Regional which begins today (Saturday) with Game 1 at noon EST. (It airs on ESPNU.)

All baseball is good baseball, but there is a wonderful je ne sais quoi to college baseball.

Where something like this can happen to a team that, just a few weeks ago, wasn’t even expected to make the post season …

Columbia, SC Regionals last weekend.

Where something like this can happen on a Tuesday:

Tuesday. Game 5, ODU vs UVa, Columbia, SC Regionals. 

Continue reading

12 Things You Should Know About Matt Kilroy, The “Little Whirlwind”

On May 5, 2021, Baltimore Orioles twirler John Means tossed the first Orioles one-pitcher, no-hitter since Jim Palmer in 1969.

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But, you have to go all the way back to 1886 to get to the very first Baltimore Orioles no-hitter.

Matt Kilroy

Before I tell you 12 things you should know about Matt Kilroy, the 1886 pitcher who did that, let’s get any dreamy-eyed 1886 nonsense out of the way.

Forever ago.

There are no “good old days.” You might think you missed out on something special, but you didn’t.

1886 was lousy. It was unsafe. It was unsanitary. And, the average lifespan in the United States was 39.

Albert Pujols, 41. Nelson Cruz, 40. Yadier Molina, 38. You get my point.

It was tuberculosis that probably got you. Or, rabid mad dogs in New York City. Or, a horse fell on you or a carriage ran over you. Or a bridge or building collapsed on you. Or your entire town burned down with you in it.

Or, you were a child, which was extremely dangerous. As John Graunt, the 17th-century founder of demography sweetly put it: “Being a child was to forever be on the brink of death.”

You think wearing a mask for a year was a bother?

Stop your whimpering.

Try living through the recurring epidemics of cholera, typhoid, typhus, scarlet fever, smallpox, and yellow fever that mowed down Baltimore, Boston, Memphis, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC, over and over and over between 1865 and 1873.

And, if you did live through the latest epidemic – and you probably didn’t, but if you did –  chances are, unless you were awfully rich, you lived in a house with no hot water, no shower, and – this is important – no toilet.

If you think the most important room in your house is your man cave, you are wrong. It is your bathroom. And, you should go in there right now, get down on your knees, and thank the modern gods for installing one in your house.

Good Things That Happened in 1886 Continue reading

I Am All That Is Left Of My Mother.

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It has become harder to write about my mom each Mother’s Day, when she is no longer here and there is nothing new to say. “Just start making stuff up,” Editor/Husband suggested. “Tell them about the time she taught you to throw the knuckleball.” That is the only baseball you will read about here today. The rest of this is true.

I am all that is left of my mother.

I was the only one. The one-and-only child, who was, if I’m being honest, something of an accident … coming late to a father who didn’t think children fit with his plans and a mother who was, I guess, good whichever way maternity went.

To my credit, I seem to have ingratiated myself into their lives, so I rarely felt like an afterthought.

Her.

Me.

Us.

My mom’s been gone 14 years now. Saying “been gone” makes it easier, doesn’t it? To say she’s been dead 14 years seems so cold. So final. She’s been gone – just out to do some shopping or spending time in her garden. It’s so much easier that way.

But, as the years go by, I find that my memories of her have become blurry, as most memories do with time. I remember fewer events that we shared. Instead, I simply feel her. The presence of her inside me.

If it’s late in the day and I’m feeling especially weary, I will look in the mirror and see her looking back at me. She carried a lot of hurt and pain. She earned her weariness. She looks back at me from the mirror when I’m weary from much more mundane things.

She would worry, I think, that I look tired and that I haven’t bothered to put on makeup for most of the past year. “A little makeup,” she would say, “would brighten you up and hide those dark circles.”

I inherited some of her good traits – but not her best ones. And, I inherited some of her bad traits – but not her worst ones.

I am an amalgam of not-the-best and not-the-worst of my mother.

I’m all that’s left of her.

Can I tell you about her? Continue reading

In Praise Of Mays

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“Willie Mays makes us young again. He makes us feel good about ourselves, our environment. He makes us reflect and smile. He makes us want to do better and be kinder.”

~ John Shea, sportswriter and co-author, with Mays, of 24: Life Stories And Lessons From The Say Hey Kid

Willie Mays turns 90 today.

He is the oldest living member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. That he still attends games, visits the clubhouse to encourage players, does interviews, is one of the game’s greatest ambassadors, and has time leftover to write a memoir, is testament to his legend and greatness.

“I like to help people when I go to the ballpark,” Mays told Shea recently. “Help the Giants. Do what you can do. That’s all. That’s my goal. They helped me when I was a young man, a teenager. They signed me out of Birmingham.”

I have often written on here that Babe Ruth was the greatest ballplayer ever.

But, I think I was wrong. It is Willie, not Babe, who is the greatest ever.

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Playing stickball with neighborhood kids, circa 1954.

“I was always aware that you play baseball for people who paid money to come see you play,” Willie said in his memoir last year. “You play for those people. You want to make them smile, have a good time. Sometimes I’d hesitate, count to three, then I’d get there just in time to make the play. You’d hear the crowd. Sometimes you had to do that in order for people to come back the next day.” Continue reading

About Last Night …

Last night, in the eighth inning with the New York Yankees trailing the Tampa Rays 8-2, Yankees fans got a little upset.

Is “upset” the word I’m looking for?

Annoyed? Concerned? Bothered?

Here, watch. You tell me.

Before you get you all judge’y about this or a little gloat’y because, c’mon, it’s the Yankees …

Before you note (correctly) that Yankees fans were upset at their underperforming Yankees and yet are throwing their baseballs at the Tampa Rays which seems like misdirected anger …

And, on the same night that both teams are wearing their #42 jerseys honoring Jackie Robinson, which makes this even more unseemly …

Before you think, well, maybe the fans weren’t really throwing baseballs, maybe it was more like they were gently lobbing them. It was a chilly 45 degrees out, after all, so it is possible – I’m just saying “possible” – that tossing baseballs onto the field was more a way to warm up their hands than an indictment on a team headed south …

And, before you point out that the Tampa Rays responded by tossing the baseballs back to the fans who had thrown them on the field in the first place, making the Rays either perplexingly polite or just out of touch with New Yorkers …

Continue reading

12 Things You Should Know About “Highball” Wilson

You would think that someone who cares deeply for baseball’s rich history would thoughtfully choose which players she highlights and celebrates.

You would think that she wouldn’t just see a player named “Highball” and think, “Oh my God, a pitcher named Highball. I’m gonna have to write about him.”

You would think.

Here Are 12 Things You Should Know About Highball Wilson.

1.

Public Domain

Sadly, but not surprisingly, Highball Wilson was not named Highball by his parents. Highball Wilson, a righty pitcher, was born Howard Paul Wilson in Philadelphia on August 9, 1878. (I realize that this would be a far more interesting post if his parents had named him Highball, and I’m sorry if you feel duped.)

(Highball Wilson was one of five future big leaguers born in Philadelphia in 1878. Only Highball played more than one season.)

2.

So, who named him Highball? Continue reading