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

All-Star Break: Waiting, Day 1

Four summer days without baseball. That’s what the All-Star Break is.

Maybe you count tonight’s Home Run Derby and tomorrow’s All-Star Game as baseball. My friend Jay doesn’t.

All I have to do each July is send Jay this email: “Do you still hate the All-Star break?” and I get a fast reply, like this:

“I HATE the all-star break – and the all-star game which causes the all-star break.  Especially now that they have extended that break to 4 days. The best thing about baseball is that it happens (almost) every day.”  

I don’t mind the All-Star game, even if just one Oriole will be there. Sure, the game is sort of pointless. But, it’s sort of cute, too. Like a puppy.

Awww. Continue reading

“To Be Played In All Cities On The Glorious Fourth”

Dear Baltimore Orioles,

I did not post here on the Fourth of July.

I took the day off. Just like you.

No need to apologize if you didn’t notice my absence. I know you were busy. Not playing, of course. But, busy. Eating. Napping. Whatever it is you do when you’re not playing baseball on the Fourth of July.

Not playing yesterday, on the Fourth of July, was a quirk in the Orioles schedule.

It was also cruel return to that empty first half of the 20th century when Baltimore had no major league team. Those were the years – decades – of emptiness, after New York stole those early Baltimore Orioles for themselves. There were no Fourth of July Orioles games … or third of July … or fifth of July … or sixth … hey, you get the picture.

So, while you Orioles were idle for 51 seasons, Babe Ruth … and Joe DiMaggio … and a rookie Mickey Mantle … got to play on Independence Day, but not you, dear Orioles.  Not you.

Babe Ruth. He got to play. Continue reading

Whatever.

My dad never said “I love you.”

Not to me, anyway.

There was a time when dads, as a rule, didn’t say “I love you” to their children. That was just the way things were done.

It’s not like I didn’t know he loved me.

Us.

My dad taught me to love reading and basketball. He taught me that the best beer must be properly chilled and the best practical jokes must be properly executed. (My practical jokes would make my dad proud.)

My dad taught me to parallel park by handing me the driver’s handbook with written instructions, setting up two sawhorses in the yard, and pulling the massive old grain truck up beside them. “There. Park it between those saw horses. You won’t hurt anything and once you can parallel park the grain truck, you’ll be able to parallel park anything.” Then he left. (I think he just got into his tractor and drove back out into the field.)

He left me alone to figure it out.

Continue reading

Edd Roush Takes A Nap In The Outfield

The Cincinnati Reds tweeted today that on June 8, 1920 Reds outfielder Edd Roush was ejected for taking a nap in center field during a game against the New York Giants. He fell asleep while his manager was arguing with the umpires and was “ejected for holding up play when he does not wake up.”

(Wait, what? You already knew this Edd Roush story? Well, shame on you for not telling it to me. Do I have to wait for the Reds to tell me everything? What else aren’t you telling me?)

I thought taking a snooze in center field in the middle of a game would be the best part of this story. But, this story is so much more than a nap.

(Editor/Husband is napping as I write this. Do you see how my life hews so close to 1920’s baseball? It’s freakish sometimes.)

The Cincinnati Enquirer, 6/9/1920

I’m going to let 1920 Cincinnati Enquirer sportswriter Jack Ryder kick off this tale: Continue reading

The Troubling Story Of Baseball’s Douglas Neff

I could tell you about baseball.

I could tell you that Douglas Neff – or D.W. Neff, as he was called from time to time – was a star athlete at the University of Virginia, played 33 big league games in 1914 and ’15 for the Washington Nationals, then retired, fought in a war, and faded into the much-less-documented world of ordinary life.

I could tell you about Harrisonburg, Virginia where Neff, the son of a prominent local doctor, was born in 1891.

Harrisonburg is on the “other” side of the Blue Ridge Mountains, on the western edge of Virginia.

I could tell you about Boboko, Harrisonburg’s tiny Indonesian restaurant and its delicious food, which you will find just across the street from the Harrisonburg Farmers Market.

Delicious.

Neff’s childhood home is gone. But, I can show you where it once was.

Here …

… where this parking lot is now – also across from the Farmers Market.

Harrisonburg is home to James Madison University, with 21,000 students, and Eastern Mennonite University, with 1,100 more. Add another 54,000 residents, and Harrisonburg has sprawled so big and so wide that it now has two – two! – Walmarts.

Like this – only sprawlier.

I had it all planned out – to tell you about Neff and baseball, and Harrisonburg and Boboko, the tiny Indonesian restaurant.

But, some things don’t go as planned. Continue reading

Because That’s What Moms Do

Sometimes after a long day and work has weighed heavily on me, I’ll look into a mirror and see my mother looking back. Not the bright, young, bewitching mom that I remember most, but the older, tired mother, made haggard by years of hard work and an illness that should have, predictably, killed her in her forties, but didn’t.

My mom was much stronger, much tougher, much more focused than I am, and there are many times that I will say, sometimes out loud, “Mom, why couldn’t you have given me that tough gene of yours?”

My mom was, at her core, a private and quiet woman and she wouldn’t be happy at all to know that I have written about her illnesses and struggles on here.

But, she would be glad to know I still write.

Because, my mom supported everything I chose to do … every direction I wandered in, no matter how weird and how awkward. Even when my dad disapproved, my mom trusted me.

That’s what moms do, right? Continue reading

A Number Of Things …

They say that people get crankier as they get older.

Surely, they don’t mean me.

To be cranky is to be ill-tempered about everything. I’m not ill-tempered about everything.

I mean, look ….

Sure, the Baltimore Orioles are in last place in the AL East. But, it’s not like they’re 0-and-26. (Hi World Champion Boston Red Sox, I see you’ve won 10 games, too. Good for you!)

Last season, it took the O’s until May 10 to get to 10 wins. This is progress, people.

I love the rebuilding Orioles. I really do. Sure, I still don’t know all their names, but I love each and every one of them. Except for one. I don’t know his name but, yeh, I don’t love him.

So, I’m not cranky. Not me. But, I do need to talk to someone about a couple situations regarding baseball jerseys. You seem nice. I’m sure you’ll see my side of things.

Baseball Numbers

I appreciate that baseball jerseys have numbers on them. It wasn’t until 1937 that all the major league teams adopted numbers. Before that, I bet teams would just swap players in and out indiscriminately. Who would know? They were all men, they were all the same color, they all wore caps.

Public Domain

Like these 1903 NY Highlanders. Don’t they all look alike to you? Continue reading

Baseball Changed. Didn’t It?

Friday night, for the fourth time out of the past six games, Virginia baseball was interrupted, delayed, or postponed by rain and storms. With nothing else to do, this got me to thinking about the future … 

© The Baseball Bloggess

There came a time when the doomsayers were proven right.

The weather had changed.

The rain now came in floods instead of showers, the storms were stronger and more frequent. Outside was not bucolic; outside was a battle, something to conquer as you went from one indoor space to the next. It was too wet or too dry. Too hot or too cold. Too much. Always just too much. Continue reading

What Can You Say About Jackie Robinson That Hasn’t Been Said?

Public Domain via U.S. Library Of Congress

The first mention of Jackie Robinson that I can find in newspapers came in 1937 when he was 17.

(I know there were earlier mentions in the local Pasadena, California paper, but the Internet, like Monday morning coffee, can take you only so far.)

So, in honor of Jackie Robinson Day, I give you these early – but not the earliest – mentions of Jackie Robinson …

On January 13, 1937, Robinson, playing for Pasadena, California’s John Muir Tech, is in a box score in the Los Angeles Times in a basketball game between Muir Tech and Hoover.

Los Angeles Times, 1/13/1937

Muir Tech’s Terriers won 29-27.

Another mention turns up in a Covina, California Argus story on the high school basketball team which notes Muir Tech’s “sensational colored ace” Jackie Robinson. Continue reading