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

Major A.K. Fulton. The Good Luck Baseball Fan.

I suppose I should tell you that the Baltimore Orioles won two of their first three games this season, defeating the Yankees … in New York.

“At the corner of Unacceptable and Intolerable, the Yankees lost a season-opening series to the Orioles.”The New York Post

Even the Cleveland Spiders, the worst team ever, won 20 games in 1899 (they lost 134), so don’t get too giddy about two wins — no matter how unexpected. (Still … yay.)

That’s not why I’m here, anyway. I’m here to tell you about Major Albert Kimberly (A.K.) Fulton of Baltimore and his strange connection to the Baltimore Orioles of the 1890s.

And, I’m starting at the end …

The Baltimore Sun, 2/1/1900

Major Fulton was 63 when he died in January 1900, living a generous 16 additional years beyond the frighteningly short life expectancy of the time. Continue reading

“Baltimore Base-Ball Club’s Suits Have A Washday”

There was a time – long before our time – when a housewife would set aside her entire Monday for doing the laundry.

I do a lot of laundry.

I have a washing machine that will agitate itself into a frenzy. I have eco-friendly laundry detergent and a dryer that runs extremely hot. With the exception of folding, I do very little.

It takes awhile, but it doesn’t take all day.

I still hate it.

But, I really would have hated it in 1895 when hours upon hours were spent boiling water over a fire and then scrubbing and rubbing and twisting out stains with caustic soaps and lye and turpentine until your hands turned red and peeled and bled.

Sure, the clothes wringer made washing day a little less back-breaking, but, as you can see, its biggest benefit was giving the wife time to get dinner on the table in time.

Doing the laundry in 1895 has nothing to do with baseball.

Until I found this …

The Baltimore Sun, 2/7/1895

“This wash-day scene is a sign of spring.” ~ The Baltimore Sun

Fourteen black Orioles uniforms were hanging to dry at the von der Horsts’ on a February day in 1895. Continue reading

In Praise Of “Peculiarly Hypnotic Tedium”

Good news, baseball fans!

All your griping about long and slow baseball games has paid off.

Games are shorter!

Last year the length of the average baseball game dropped – dropped! – to 3 hours and 4 minutes. That’s a savings of 4 minutes per game over 2017.

I hate math, but check out this wizardry …

With a 162-game season, there were 2,430 regular season games scheduled in 2018. At 4 minutes saved per game, that comes out to 9,720 free minutes or – and this is going to blow your mind – 162 hours saved!

Pulitizer-winning novelist Philip Roth once called baseball’s pace “peculiarly hypnotic tedium” and, just to be clear, he meant that in a good way.

I’m sure you put your 4-minute-per-game savings to good use last season.

Maybe you used your free minutes to watch Bongo Cat play Africa

 

The average American shower takes 8 minutes – so you could have had half a shower, which is time enough to soap, but maybe not enough to rinse.

Fun Fact: The 3 hour, 4 minute average baseball game is almost identical to the length of an average NFL football game, but without all the brain-damaging concussions.

(It’s odd that some people who complain about baseball games being too long and slow are the same ones who complain that the off-season – without baseball – is also too long and slow. I watched the Orioles lose 115 games last season. What’s your hurry?) Continue reading