Any Ol’ Game: May 25, 1935, Boston Braves at Pittsburgh Pirates

I choose the years in this Any Ol’ Game pandemic series pretty much at random. I purposely don’t read all those “This Day In Baseball” posts. I don’t want anything special to get in my way – I want to find a game that’s so ordinary it’s been pretty much forgotten. I want to find the beauty in that unsung game.

The date is always the day that I post. Simple enough. But, sometimes strange things happen when I choose a year.

Very strange things.

Maybe I don’t pick the games after all. Maybe they pick me.

Take 1935.

May 25, 1935, a Saturday, was any ol’ day.

Embed from Getty Images

Jesse Owens

I was more interested in discovering what was going on in Ann Arbor that day at the Big 10 Championships where a 21-year-old Ohio State track and field star named Jesse Owens would set five world records and equal another in a span of 45 minutes.

3:15 p.m. – At 9.4 seconds, Owens equals the world record in the 100 Yard Dash

3:25 p.m. – Owens sets a world record with a 8.13 meter long jump

3:34 p.m. – Owens sets, in 20.3 seconds, two world records (in yards and meters) in the 220 yard/200 meter dash

4:00 p.m. – Owens sets, in 22.6 seconds, two world records (in yards and meters) in the 220 yard/200 meter low hurdles

While most of us know Owens from his Olympics heroics in 1936, his accomplishments between 3:15 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on May 25, 1935 are known by many as the greatest 45 minutes ever in sports history.

The NY Daily News, 5/26/1935

(The day’s reports had yet to recognize Owens’ two additional “meters” records in the 200 meter and 200 meter low hurdles races.)

That Owens did all this with a back injury so severe that he could barely bend over and touch his knees and his coach nearly pulled him from the event, makes it all the more remarkable.

Surely, one historic sporting event is enough for a single day like this. Continue reading

Everyone Knew Her As Babe

Dear Mom,

If you were still around, I wonder what you’d think about how things are today. I bet you’d be sitting at the kitchen table with that bemused look on your face that seemed to say, “How did I end up surrounded by so many idiots?” You wouldn’t roll your eyes. You wouldn’t say a word. You’d just have a look. That look. That look of bemused and deep, utter disappointment. You’d take another sip of coffee and not say a word.

You wouldn’t believe the mess we’re in these days, Mom. I’m rationing flour like it’s gold dust. I overbought eggs – just in case those are in short supply next. I rarely leave my house and when I do I have to wear a mask.

I know how you worry, Mom. But, really, don’t.  I promise you, the cats are ok.

I miss you. I love you.

My Mom was named Julie. Well, technically, Julie Ann. But, pretty much everyone called her Babe.

Babe

A lot of her friends probably didn’t even know what her real name was. To them, she was just Babe.

She was Babe because she was the youngest in her family, but that didn’t stop me from, on occasion, suggesting to her that she was named after Babe Ruth – which didn’t go over well. Or, Babe the Blue Ox – which went over even worse.

(My mom had just one sibling, an older sister who everyone called Sis. Editor/Husband wonders what Sis was called in the years before my mom was born – before “Sis” officially became someone’s sister. I am guessing her pre-“Sis” nickname was “Child.” Creativity in nicknaming was not my family’s strong suit.)

Public Domain

Other Babe

My mom was born in the summer of 1929 – a good, but not great, year for Babe Ruth who, at age 34 in a not-great year, was still able to lead baseball with 46 home runs. He swatted his 500th career homer on August 11, just 24 days after my mom was born. These incidents were, as far as I know, unrelated. 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

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

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