This Is Not My “Happy Place”

I shut everything down.

When things shut down around me in the past few days, I knew that mitigating a fast-spreading virus like COVID-19 would mean more than just shuttering all sports, museums, concerts, and big things.

It meant even little businesses like mine should shut down, too.

So, I closed my Yoga studio, cancelled my massage clients. And, here I sit.

Because, isn’t this what it means to “do your part”?

But, if the bars and restaurants and movie theaters are still open and people are still going, am I just wasting my time?

As I said to some of my clients, “I don’t want to see you on Monday and then have to call you on Wednesday and say, ‘Hey! Guess what I just tested positive for?’”

If closing is the right thing to do, why do I feel so terrible about this?

OK, that helped to say all that.

Now that you’ve kindly read through my “stress dump,” we, of course, need to get to the nut of things …

This virus has taken away baseball. It has taken away sports. It has taken away my “Happy Place.” Maybe your “Happy Place,” too.

I have no back-up “Happy Place.”

On Tuesday afternoon – playing hooky – I sat in the stands at the University of Virginia’s Davenport Field in our luxurious new season seats that look straight through home plate and right down the third-base line.

©The Baseball Bloggess

Freshman Max Cotier, on third and thinking about maybe, just maybe, stealing home. He didn’t steal, but he did score. (See, I told you … great seats!)

Virginia beat UMass-Lowell on Tuesday afternoon 24-5.

When it seemed clear that the game would be a major blow-out … and, you know, blow-outs and batting around in multiple innings can take some time (ultimately, three hours and 32 minutes) … we thought about leaving. It was getting late. Continue reading

Dickey Pearce Turns 45

I love February 29.

Because you can write incredibly wild, yet basically true, things like this:

Happy Birthday to baseball great Dickey Pearce who turns 45 today!

“I ain’t got any education, but nobody can teach me how to play ball.” ~ Dickey Pearce

Born in Brooklyn, he started his professional baseball career there when he was just 5 years old.

(If I tell you now that Dickey Pearce was a “leapling” born on February 29, 1836 and made his baseball debut in 1856 … well, you knew that was coming, but why spoil the fun?)

While I seem to be spending an inordinate part of this month writing about short and stocky players, it is, I think, important to note that Dickey Pearce was 5’3-1/2” (when you’re 5’3” that last half inch is pretty important) and weighed in at 161 pounds.

While 5’3-1/2″ and 161 pounds may sound chubby to you, clearly, those old-time baseball unis were downright slimming. (Pearce is the one in back.)

Pearce, who played in the earliest days of major league baseball – from the 1850s into the 1880s – is credited with turning the roving “short field” position into the more territorial shortstop position that we know today, and, in doing so, may have invented, or developed, or, at very least refined, the double play. Continue reading

The Cupid Of Second Base

In early 1891, second baseman Clarence Childs signed a $2,300 contract with the Baltimore Orioles, about $65,000 in today’s dollars. Upon signing he was immediately paid a $200 advance. He then abandoned the team, saying that the Orioles had deceived him and he could find a better deal elsewhere. The Orioles sued. They lost. And, Childs joined the Cleveland Spiders.

(Months later, the Orioles were still in court trying to get their $200 back. It’s unclear if they ever did.)

Childs jilted the Orioles. Probably wasn’t the first to do it. Definitely not the last. (See: Mark Teixeira, 21st-century Orioles jilter.)

End of story?

But, wait.

What if I told you Clarence Childs wasn’t always called Clarence? What if someone along the way nicknamed him Cupid? Cupid Childs?

Courtesy of Peak99, via Creative Commons

Well, friends, this Valentine’s Day post is practically writing itself. Continue reading

How To Talk To Your Cat About The Mookie Betts Trade

As I was writing this post … and by “writing” I really mean, “thinking about writing” … a stinkbug climbed onto the rim of my coffee cup and fell (or jumped, it’s hard to tell) into my morning coffee. I was able to fish him out – saving his life, but not my coffee. This has nothing to do with anything, except that drowning in a good cup of morning coffee is probably not the worst way to go.

And, now to our top story …

Last week, the Boston Red Sox traded their superstar outfielder Mookie Betts in a three-way deal sending Mookie to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then the deal fell apart. Then it fell back together.

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Now, a week later … the Boston Red Sox have finally traded Mookie Betts (along with pitcher David Price) to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Let’s say you, like me, have a cat named Mookie.

I’m sure that your Mookie Cat, like mine, has a lot of questions about this trade of Mookie Betts from the Red Sox to the Dodgers, specifically related to how it might affect them directly, especially when it comes to mealtime. Maybe you have a dog named Mookie. And, maybe your dog Mookie also has questions.

Sorry. This is just for cats. Continue reading

If Pearce Chiles Could Talk …

Allentown PA Leader, 10/4/1900

Pearce Chiles, an infielder/third base coach for the Philadelphia Phillies, was born in 1867 in Deepwater, Missouri. I think it’s fair to say he was an all-around no-goodnik – although thieving miscreant is probably more accurate. Phillies’ backup catcher Morgan Murphy, fellow no-goodnik, devised a system where Murphy, using binoculars, would stand beyond centerfield and steal the signs from the other team’s catcher. Murphy would forward the signs via a telegraph wire buried under the field and connected to a buzzer in the third base coaching box where Chiles stood. The buzzer would vibrate under Chiles’ foot, and he would signal to the batter what pitch was coming.  It was 1900.  

Pearce Chiles

Chiles never spoke publically about the scheme … but if he had …

Those idiots think the DTs ‘smaking my leg twitch.

It ain’t booze.

I hold my likker better ‘n any of ‘em.

Buffoons.

I can stand out here all day in this goddam third base box. And, see, we paid a guy to lay down a wire and it’s buried right here where my right foot stands. I have to stand just so. But, if I do, Murph’ out there just beyond that centerfield point, puts his spyglasses on the other guys’ catcher, and from out there he pushes a button and presto – I get a jolt of pure electricity right through the wire, right to my damn foot.

Mansfield OH News-Journal, 9/19/1900

Curve ball? Fast ball? Murph’s a catcher, he knows all the signs. I know from the buzz he sends me exactly what that pitcher’s gonna throw next.

One buzz, fastball. Two buzzes, something else.

Can you beat that? Continue reading

And, No One Ever Cheated

Photo: Kaboompics via Pexels.com

If you remember real hard, you’ll remember.

A moment when life took place above your head.

A summer picnic with mom and dad and all the people from dad’s work, I don’t really know how many.

A lot.

There were hamburgers and hot dogs and jello pops and grownups who got drunk.

And, cold sodas in metal coolers and we’d steal the ice and throw it at each other.

And, each year, a tug of war between the men that everybody waited for.

And after that, down in a mowed field, there was baseball and we children would sit on a hillside and watch our fathers play.

And, no one ever cheated.

And, it never rained on Saturdays.

And, everything was perfect.

Because, my memory say it’s so.

© The Baseball Bloggess, 2019

The Best Baseball Words of 2019

Dear Holiday Revelers & Readers,

Did you really expect me to thoughtfully paw through an entire decade in my New Year’s wrap-up?

I’m running on a cup of coffee here. We’ll be lucky if I can remember back to January.

But, that doesn’t mean I haven’t collected some special things – 2019 things – for you.

Reading is one of my favorite things. It’s like the easiest hobby in the world. It’s why I don’t have a fitbit – I’d rather be reading than marching around in circles trying to “get my steps in.”

And, I’d rather be writing. To you.

And, while I’m delighted … honored … and, to be honest, a little surprised … that you stop by to read my words from time to time …  (Wait, do I owe you money? Is that why you’re here?) … I’m even more delighted to send you off with a pocketful of links to other writers who have written good stuff this year.

Even if baseball’s not your thing (insert bewildered, sorta sad, but mostly just bemused emoji face here), if you like words, sweetly strung together like the innings of a no hitter, you’ll like these words. I’m sure of it.

Sorry, increasingly feeble, laid-off-half-its-staff, soon-to-be-a-monthly Sports Illustrated, you don’t make my list this year.

But these did …Bitmoji Image Continue reading

Some Things Should Stay The Same: 1857 Edition

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

We’re taking a holiday sidetrack through 1857 today — from baseball to one of the most ubiquitous Christmas Carols.

On Christmas Day when I was a kid, my dad would take all the wrapped gifts marked for him and line them up in front of his chair. He would then randomly pick one and declare that it was the best of all. And, that was the gift he would open last. And, by last, I mean later in the day. Much later. Sometimes he would save that last gift until well into the evening when mom was already thinking about taking down the tree. (Mom usually had the Christmas tree stripped and down by lunchtime on the 26th.)

Throughout Christmas Day, my dad would ask if I had any more packages to open, and when I would sadly answer “no,” he would pick up his gift and say, “I still have one to open and it’s the best.”

The Baseball Bloggess grabbing for just one more gift.

So, stick with me because the best story I will tell you today will be the one I tell last.

First, baseball.

If you want to snoop through all the stories of baseball – or “base ball” or “base-ball” – in newspapers in 1857, it won’t take long. A couple dozen mentions are all you will find.

When this peculiar, relatively new game appears in Bloomington, Indiana in June 1857, the local paper reports:

“It is a lively and exciting game, with lots of exercise and fun in it. We hope it will speedily become popular here.”

It was, they said, a game for young men. And, with life expectancy hovering around 38 back then, pretty much everything was for young men. (Sorry, ladies, no baseball for you.) Continue reading

Mom, Babe Ruth Came To Thanksgiving Dinner Again.

(Here’s a Thanksgiving story for you … )

November 28, 2019

Dear Mom,

I told him not to, but Andy brought out that damn baseball again and set it on the table before dinner.

He did it while I was in the kitchen trying to keep the turkey from drying out. (You have to tell me again … I brined it for days. I set an alarm and basted it every 15 minutes when it was in the oven, just like you said. My hand is numb from all the basting. That’s not permanent, is it?)

Andy was threatening to deep fry again. He’s going to set the neighborhood on fire with that turkey deep fryer. So, I went out to the garage covered it in dish soap and the kids’ school paste last week. (Thanks for the idea.) I blamed the neighbor kids. Halloween prank, I said. It saved Thanksgiving, but he’ll have it cleaned up before Christmas unless I figure out how to make it disappear for good.

I told Andy this year we needed a peaceful Thanksgiving. Leave the baseball alone. The thing is disgusting – it smells of dead mouse. (If we all die of the plague, you’ll know why.)

“But, it’s tradition,” Andy says.

I can’t even grab the ball off the table because my hand is still numb from all the turkey basting. (Not permanent, right?)

It’s too late, anyway. There’s the knock at the door.

The knock that comes as soon as the Thanksgiving meal is set out. As soon as the turkey is carved, the potatoes mashed, and the Tofurkey is on a plate for Lily, who has suddenly decided she’s going vegan this year.

“Don’t answer it.” I say that every year. I might as well be talking to the cat. Lily and Sam hear the knock,  sit up straight, eyes lighting up. Sam yells, “YESSSS!” and Andy smiles because he thinks he’s raised them right.

Right enough to know you always answer the door on Thanksgiving when the baseball that smells like a dead mouse is sitting on the Thanksgiving table.

Even when I say, “Don’t answer it.” Because we all know who it is.

It’s Babe Ruth.

Who’s going to believe that Babe Ruth comes to our house every Thanksgiving, when he’s been dead for 70 years? Continue reading

Dear Washington Nationals Fans

“It is now the Nationals who rule the town and bring the city together.” — Fred Wertheimer, one of the nation’s leading campaign finance and ethics reformers. And, a Nationals fan. via The Wall Street Journal.

Dear Washington Nationals Fans,

This one is for you.

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All of you.

You, the lifelong Nationals fan who is just 15 years old (or younger) so “lifelong fan” is not some throw-away term, but really, truly what you have been since your – and the Nationals’ – embryonic days.

You, the Canadian who saw the Montreal Expos, before they were the Nationals, play in Olympic Stadium and were lucky enough not to be killed when the stadium roof and concrete support beams started to give way in small and not-so-small chunks.

You, the Washingtonian who truly is “long-suffering” as you knew and loved those other Washington teams. The Senators who became the Minnesota Twins. And, the other Senators, who became the Texas Rangers.

You, my friend Colleen – who is the very best kind of Nationals fan, the one who enjoys the moment without making me feel bad about the Baltimore Orioles 108-loss season.

You, who danced with “Mad Max” Scherzer, when he, for once, didn’t seem mad at all. Continue reading