100

Dear Baltimore Orioles,

Sure, we knew it was going to happen. You lost your 100th game last night, to the Detroit Tigers, the team with the worst record in baseball … even worse than yours.

But, look! You can lose a game (a game you coulda, shoulda won) by giving up a grand slam in the 12th and you’re still not the worst team in baseball.

So, there is that.

You were going to lose 100 games this season, we knew that all along. But, you stretched it out a bit this year. With two weeks left, you’ve already won more games then you did last season. Yay.

I guess.

Someone on Twitter noticed that today’s game – Baltimore Orioles at the Detroit Tigers – will mark the first time in American League history that two teams with 100 or more losses each will play each other.

So, see. You’re making history, too!

It seems that every game a new guy shows up on the field. And, I wonder sometimes, did they win a contest? Can I play, too?

But, I know you’re just looking over the new kids. Kicking the tires. Putting young pitchers, with unfamiliar names, out in untenable situations that the old kids, with names we know, created. So, if they give up a walk-off grand slam, well, I’m sure this is an important learning experience. I’m sure you have a plan.

(That grand slamming Tiger, John Hicks, is from the University of Virginia. So, a “wahoowa” is in order. I guess.)

Last week, Mike Bordick – former Oriole and now a broadcaster – said that the Orioles were looking forward to spring training. Continue reading

“The Lost Ballplayers of Orange”: Sept. 30 at the Orange County Historical Society

This happened:

Not long ago, I was seated at dinner across from a college-aged pitcher. Making small talk’s not my thing, but I gave it a go. I asked him what he was studying. “History,” he said, between bites of food. “Interesting! What era of history is your specialty?” Maybe I was the first to ever ask him that. When you’re a pitcher, people are probably more interested in your fastball than in your class schedule. He thought for a moment and finally he said, “I like studying war.”

Welp.

I told him that I liked history, too, and that I often wrote about baseball history.

His eyes briefly grew big. And then he said, “Wow. I didn’t know you could do that.”

Then he went back to his dinner and that was the end of that.

I’m pretty sure he didn’t realize baseball even had a history worth knowing.

But it is worth knowing. Baseball’s long history provides a unique reflection of who we are as a nation, as a culture, as a society.

And, there’s plenty of baseball history right here in Virginia.

Join me, The Baseball Bloggess, on Monday, September 30 at the Orange County Historical Society in downtown Orange, Virginia. I’ll be talking about – what else? – baseball history …

160 Games: The Lost Ballplayers of Orange Continue reading

Seven Years And A Birth’a’Versary

On July 24, 1919, the Chicago White – not yet “Black” – Sox led the American League. Their 54-29 record put them a full six games up on Cleveland. The New York – not yet San Francisco – Giants led the National League. Their 50-23 record would soon be overtaken by the still-in-Cincinnati Reds.

July 24, 1919 wasn’t particularly special. The Red Sox beat the Yankees that day, 4-3, thanks to a home run from still-Red Sox Babe Ruth. The New York – not yet San Francisco – Giants beat the Boston – not yet Milwaukee, not yet Atlanta – Braves, 7-6. Walter Johnson and the Washington – not yet Minnesota Twins – Senators beat the Philadelphia – not yet Kansas City, not yet Oakland – A’s 1-0.

Rock Island (IL) Argus 7/25/1919

And, the Chicago White Sox beat the St. Louis Browns 1-0 in 10 innings. The White Sox, in cahoots with some gamblers, would throw the World Series in October. The Browns would become the Baltimore Orioles in 1954.

Some things change. But, really, when you think about it. Not so much.

On July 24, 1919, Washington, DC was reeling from a violent four-day race riot. The rioting, fanned by the media, killed some 40 people. Congress was squabbling over the League of Nations. Henry Ford was taking heat for revealing that he intentionally sought to keep his son Edsel out of World War I, and that then-President Wilson may have been involved in approving Edsel’s deferment, thereby protecting the son of one of the nation’s most powerful businessmen. A fire in a poor Polish neighborhood in South Chicago, started by some kids who had built a bonfire, destroyed 16 homes, displaced 40 families, injured several, and led to the death of the city’s fire chief.

See? We haven’t cornered the market on bad news.

There’s always been bad news.

So, why waste time with baseball? Continue reading

What A Difference A Day Makes

Nashville Tennessean, 12/13/1933

“It was almost definite that the all-star baseball game, inaugurated last July, would not be repeated in 1934 as considerable opposition had sprung up.” ~ Associated Press, December 13, 1933.

Cedar Rapids Gazette, 12/14/1933

“It was also agreed by the magnates today to make the all-star major league game, inaugurated in Chicago last July, a permanent event.” ~ Associated Press, December 14, 1933.

What a difference a day makes. The 1933 All-Star game was this-close to being a one-and-done.

The opposition to the game appeared to dove-tail with a general fear about interleague play by team owners.

Clearly, a lot of owners wanted no part in a game that would affect their schedule — and profits — and interleague play, which might also affect their own team’s bottom line.

(Keeping the leagues segregated, of course, wasn’t the worst segregation going on in baseball back then … ) Continue reading

All-Star Break: Waiting, Day 2

Waiting to catch a ball …

© The Baseball Bloggess

A record 312 home runs were hit at last night’s All-Star Home Run Derby.

People got really excited about all the homers, but if you ask me, it’s sort of just a glorified batting practice and the home runs aren’t even really home runs … no one runs anywhere, no one scores a run.

According to MLB.com: “There were 24.8 miles of home runs hit in the 2019 Derby — the 312 homers totaled 130,779 feet.” Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., of the Toronto Blue Jays, alone hit 91 homers – 7.3 miles of them. (Dear Toronto Blue Jays Fans, That’s 11.75 kilometers worth.)

In case you missed it, Vlad, Jr. lost in the final round to the Mets’ Pete Alonso.

Sure, 24.8 miles of batting practice home runs is impressive. I guess.

OK, people, time for some Babe Ruth talk. Continue reading

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

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

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