Babe Ruth Gave Up Reading, But I Didn’t

“[R]eading isn’t good for a ball player’s eyes and if my eyes went bad, even a little bit, I couldn’t hit home runs. So I gave up reading.” – Babe Ruth in the St. Louis Star

I never really trusted this old quote of Babe Ruth’s that floats around the internet. But, I snooped around and found it there in an old St. Louis Star.

“Bad Boy No Longer”

In a wide-ranging interview, given during a Yankees batting practice in the spring of 1929, Ruth also clears up the then-and-still prevalent myth that he was an orphan, promises that he no longer “plays the ponies,” notes that the President he admires most is Harding (along with Wilson), but, adds, “Al Smith is my favorite,” and tells his manager Miller Huggins to “go to hell.”

(Harding?)

It’s an interesting interview, but it requires reading, something Ruth was not fond of, but I think that, since you’re here and all, you might be.

I love reading. Continue reading

My Favorite Sports-Writing Words Of 2018

The world is on fire.

I mean that figuratively, of course. Or, maybe I don’t. I’m not even sure any more.

I’m just saying there’s just a lot of suck out there.

If only the Baltimore Orioles’ 115-loss season was the worst thing that happened this year. If only.

Can you find the worst team in baseball?

Maybe that’s why sports – and excellent sports writing – is such a joy and refuge when times are tough and the world seems unbearably ugly and mean, because it actually is unbearably ugly and mean.

Sure, you could just binge on cooking shows until spring training. That’s not a bad plan.

But, sometimes it feels good to read something sporty. A little balm for the soul. A little de-suck-ification of life.

When your favorite team wins just a lousy 47 games, poring over box scores doesn’t take much time.

So, here are some of my favorite sports-writing words of 2018. Continue reading

Listen … It’s Babe Ruth!

via National Public Radio

That’s A Home Run Swing From Babe Ruth

Look, I’d love to sit down and write you a long blog post this morning. Really, I would. But, you wouldn’t read it anyway, because, as we learned in my last post, no one reads things anymore.

Babe Ruth, apparently, was on to this “I’m never reading words again” thing the internet has cooked up. So, perfectly timed to coincide with the death of the written word, a long-lost radio interview with Ruth has shown up.

No reading required. Just listening. To Babe Ruth.

The interview was part of an Armed Services Radio Network program recorded during World War II. It turned up recently in a school archive in Connecticut.

What did Ruth think of fastballs?

Continue reading

Stupid Word-Hating Internet

Oh for crap’s sake.

The New York Times just decided that reading words is passé. The future of the internet is audio and video. Even for a simple little blog like mine.

That means … well, that means, oh hell, you’re already gone, aren’t you?

I’m just sitting in this blog all by myself, tapping out worthless words on a worthless keyboard counting …

The days ’til pitchers and catchers report.  Three.

The number of starting pitchers that the Orioles have on their roster. Two.

And, the number of people reading these words. One.

Just you, I’m afraid.

Qwerty, not so purty. (Poetry – even bad poetry — is screwed now, too, I guess.)

Sure, it’s ironic that The New York Times had to inform me that reading is dead using … actual written words.

Oh, for crap’s sake.

Or, as you wordless people say …

What can I do to make you love reading again?

Or, just letters.

Like the letter K.

K is one of the alphabet’s resident hoodlums. Look at it slouched there lazy against its own wall – a street tough – sticking its leg out, just waiting to trip a non-suspecting sweet p, flipping it over into a d.

K is both letter, word, and complete sentence.

Continue reading

Swamp Funk. Orioles Slump. The Sultan of Swat Shows The Way Out.

July 26, 1928

Everyone slips into a rut at times.

The Baltimore Orioles haven’t won a game in a week.

They’ve looked listless and weary and miserable. It’s only May and they look like they’ve been playing on fumes for months.

Their pitching has been unreliable, often stinky, but, with no real starting ace, no closer, and a constantly rotating cast of bullpenners, what can you expect?

Last night, in losing to the Houston Astros on national television, the broadcasters put much of the blame on Orioles closer Zach Britton being on the disabled list (where he’ll stay until at least July or, who knows when). His absence, they thought, must be why the Orioles are so stinky.

But, Britton’s bum arm can’t explain some atrocious starting pitching, sleepy hitting, or the stab-me-in-my-heart-this-sucks-so-bad errors in the field.

Are Orioles slumps worse than the slumps that hit other teams?

Probably not, but I’m going to go ahead and say yes anyway, because I don’t care about other teams and Orioles slumps put me in a swampy funk.

Continue reading

Happy New Year (And A Ceremonial First Pitch)

A new season. Finally. And, not a moment too soon.

Can I wish for the World Series?

Too soon?

Well then, let me just wish for today. A day with some baseball.

Where all things are possible.

Here’s your ceremonial first pitch …

 

Now, Play Ball!

(and, go o’s!)

Photo: Orioles Shortstop JJ Hardy. Camden Yards, Baltimore. 2016. © The Baseball Bloggess

Babe Ruth’s Santa: “Tougher than a double-header, but more fun.”

babe-ruth-family-christmas-card-1930s

Babe Ruth family Christmas card, 1930s.

During the 1930s, Babe Ruth, one of the most famous men in America, would dress as Santa Claus at Christmastime and distribute gifts and meals to children and families in need.

Embed from Getty Images

In 1931, dressed as Santa, Babe Ruth visited more than 250 kids in New York hospitals. (Yes, that’s plural. He visited hospitals, not just one.)

Continue reading

“Hot As Hell, Ain’t It Prez?”

100 degrees

It is 100 here again today. It is hot and humid and sticky. It is miserable.

If it is not 100 degrees where you are, I am both happy for you and a little annoyed that you deserve better weather than me.

There is baseball this afternoon in Richmond – minor league ball – and in younger times we would go.

But, not today. Not when it’s 100. Because these are not younger times and age slows you down. Age tires you out. And, age protects you from doing stupid things like going to a baseball game when it is 100 degrees outside.

Because 100 is a lot of anything.

Dennis Eckersley threw 100 complete games in his career.  Which is strange because I’m of the generation that remembers him mainly as a shaggy-headed closer.

Embed from Getty Images

Eckersley, 1978-ish.

Continue reading

Chris Davis & The Unjilted

Chris Davis Baseball

Being jilted is no fun.

Which is a shame because “jilt” is a fun word.

Let’s go a’jilting!

It’s a jiltingly beautiful day, let’s have a picnic.

But, language is fickle and being jilted, of course, is no fun at all.

(If you haven’t been jilted – by a date, a boyfriend or girlfriend, or even a fiancé  – you are a rare bird, or a bird with selective memory. You can keep reading, Unjilted One, but this won’t be as meaningful for you.)

So, what to do if you thought you were jilted … but you discover you weren’t? Not jilted. Unjilted. Ajilted. Non-jiltified.

What if you’ve already moved on only to discover that you weren’t jilted after all?

On Saturday morning, reporters learned that Baltimore Orioles first baseman (sometime right fielder and one-time winning pitcher) Chris Davis had re-signed with the club.

Embed from Getty Images

Welcome back to Baltimore, Chris Davis! 

(I’m not sure I can even welcome you back, “Crush”, because, as it turns out, you never really even left.)

Re-signed and resigned are two different things which is extremely hard for some writers to understand.

Continue reading

Becomingly Thankful

“Everybody was becomingly thankful.” ~ The Baltimore Sun, November 26, 1897

There’s not a lot of baseball on Thanksgiving.

It’s just turkey and football, isn’t it?

Sure, maybe there’s someone, somewhere having a catch before dinner. But, finding a game – a real game – is hard to do on Thanksgiving.

It was pretty much just turkey and football back in 1897, too. And, it’s been that way every Thanksgiving since.

But, I did find two bits of Thanksgiving baseball in 1897 …

On Thanksgiving Day, the boys of St. Mary’s Industrial School – the school for truants, miscreants, and wayward boys located on the outskirts of Baltimore – mostly played football. But, a few of them played baseball that day. It was a dull and cloudy day, but the rain held off until after dark, so the day was fine enough for outdoor games.

Thanksgiving 1897 was, for the 535 boys of St. Mary’s, “a delightful day,” The Baltimore Sun reported.

The school was still five years away from enrolling its most famous student – George (not-yet-Babe) Ruth who was committed to St. Mary’s by his parents for being incorrigible in 1902.

Babe_Ruth_-_St._Mary's_Industrial_School

Public Domain image (1913)

In 1897, George “Baby” Ruth was just 2 years old and several years away from becoming a star player for St. Mary’s Industrial School. (Here he is in 1913 — back row, center, with his catcher’s gear.)

The Baltimore Orioles also played on Thanksgiving Day 1897.

They had just finished their season in second place and were out on the West Coast on one of those barn-storming “all-star” tours that travelled through warm-weather states in the off-season as a way to make the owners some dough and help players make ends meet.

orioles california tour 1897

Public Domain (1897)

Baltimore Orioles “California Tour” Promotional Photograph. 1897

The Orioles spent their Thanksgiving being beaten 4-3 by the Sacramento Gilt Edges, a California League team.

(The Gilt Edges, by the way, got their name from Sacramento’s Ruhstaller’s Brewery, maker of Gilt Edge beer. The brewery still exists and they still make Gilt Edge.)

gilt edge beer

But for most Americans, Thanksgiving Day 1897 was a day for church-going (“services were most elaborate affairs, and in their magnitude and importance, were only surpassed by the Easter Festivals,” The Washington Post explained) … college football (the University of Virginia beat Carolina in the “South’s Oldest Rivalry” game, 12-0, wahoowa!) … and serving roast turkey dinners with all the usual trimmings to the poor, the infirm, the elderly, and the imprisoned.

Thanksgiving Day back then, it seems, was less a day to count one’s own blessings, but instead was a day to help provide the less fortunate with a belly-filling meal for which they could be thankful.

The Humphrey House, a Jamestown, New York hotel and restaurant, reminded its diners of the blessings of sharing a meal with the poor on their Thanksgiving Day menu.

humphrey house thanksgiving menu 1897

Public Domain, via University of Nevada, Las Vegas, University Libraries. (1897)

“They who divide the plenty, By a bounteous Father given, Shall multiply this day the thanks, That sweetly rise to Heaven.” 

(You can see the Humphrey House’s full Thanksgiving menu here.)

As The Baltimore Sun explained, “Many generous-hearted people were anxious that others should find some rays of sunshine in their lives to be grateful for and devoted part of the remaining hours to aiding the poor, sick, or those confined in institutions.”

Baltimore Sun November 26 1897

The Baltimore Sun, November 26, 1897

“Everybody was becomingly thankful.”

That’s how The Baltimore Sun described Thanksgiving Day 1897.

Becomingly thankful.

May we all be becomingly thankful today, too.