Happy Birthday, George

George Mullin was born on the 4th of July, 1880, in Toledo, Ohio.

He was a pitcher. A righty. Mostly for the Detroit Tigers (1902-1913), with a few other seasons with a few other teams scattered in after that, and ending in 1915.

He was six feet tall and his weight hovered around 200 pounds, so people called him Big George. He struggled with his weight and was often reprimanded for being out of shape.

He was 32 when he took the mound for Detroit – the second game of a double-header with the St. Louis Browns – on his birthday, July 4, 1912.

This was no marquee matchup. The Tigers were a game under .500 (36-37), while the poor, poor Browns (who today are the poor, poor Orioles) had won only 19 games, losing 49, and were well-mired in last place.

1912 Detroit Tigers. (George Mullin is in the back row, far right. Directly in front of him sits Ty Cobb.)

Things hadn’t been going well for Mullin in 1912 either. Age and weight had taken their toll and he was not in great shape.

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“Gentlemen, It Was Awful.”

T.S. Eliot said April is the cruelest month.

TS Eliot

T.S. Eliot, Public Domain

How did I get in this post?

Eliot didn’t mean baseball. If he had he would have said August.

But, Eliot was a baseball fan and, it’s said, his heart was broken when his team, the Red Sox, sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919.

So, yeh, he knew cruel.

(Hemingway once slammed Eliot’s writing by telling a friend that Eliot “never hit a ball out of the infield in his life.” Also cruel.)

The Baltimore Orioles are slowly tumbling down the AL East ladder.

They’ve been looking increasingly listless and pitiful, like a ratty old tomcat trying to hack out a hairball. So much hacking and all that comes out is a desperate, sad noise that sounds, best I can translate, something like, “Ggggackuck [brief pause] Aahkgggackuck [longer pause] geeeeeeack.” Then he stops, swallows, shakes his head, and starts all over again.

snowball 2 hairball

I mean, you still love that ratty old tomcat, sure, but mainly you’re just hoping you’re not the one who’s going to get stuck cleaning up whatever is trying so hard to come out.

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Fan-Tastic, Part 3

Joe Nathan, the Detroit Tigers closer, got a little frustrated during Wednesday’s game versus the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Tigers won and all, but Nathan was a little shaky in the ninth, walking the first two batters and making things interesting. (He’s been “a little shaky” a lot this season.)

This led to some booing from equally frustrated Tiger fans.

So, Nathan did this.

nathan

Let me say this about that.

Joe Nathan, I don’t care if they booed you. No need to be a dolt.

And, fans, don’t boo your players.

Even when they frustrate you and annoy you and make you want to slam your head into the wall. Even when they blow the save or give up a walk-off homer and lose the game. (Brian Matusz, you sure do work my nerves some days.)

They’re doing their best.

Okay, there are a few times when you are allowed to – even encouraged to – boo your team.

  1. Not running out ground balls to first.
  2. Lack of hustle.
  3. Not hustling.
  4. Lazy hustling.
  5. Hustle atrophy.
  6. Hustlessness.
  7. When cheering for your favorite player sounds a lot like booing … Nelson Cruuuuuuuzzzzzz … Louuuuuuuu Pinella.
  8. And, of course, when your closer does this to you …

But, booing, generally speaking, doesn’t help. (Oakland fans, are you listening?)

It won’t make the blown save disappear or turn a bottom-of-the-ninth two-out strike out into a walk-off win. It won’t make anyone play harder. It won’t make anything better. And, it could make things abundantly worse. (Oakland, I’m not kidding here.)

The only time booing really made a difference was in ancient Rome when the cries of displeased fans would occasionally determine which gladiators lived and which, uh, umm, didn’t. Joe Nathan would have been a short-lived gladiator.

But some of us must boo, mustn’t we? Like the dinner party guest who must poo-poo every story you tell … one-up your vacation … your job … your kids.

(Oh my, your precious daughter won a Scrabble tournament with the word ‘jonquil’? I see why you’re so proud. My cat beheaded a mouse on my Yoga mat, dissected its intestines and set them aside, and then barfed the rest of it up into two separate piles. Can your daughter do that?*)

* True story: My cat Polly barfed as I was writing about cats barfing. How cool is that!

Polly

Polly. Not sorry.

Nathan apologized for his obnoxious behavior the next day.

And, he should, because, despite sometimes booing, baseball fans are the most wonderful hodge-podge of people around.

Like Tim Pinkard who attended his first Houston Astros game on Tuesday and caught Chris Carter’s home run ball. And, then caught another Chris Carter home run ball. Watch it here.

pinkard

Here’s to the fans. The managers may be the brains. The players may be the brawn. But, fans are the heart … and without them … well, there’s no $9 million payday for Joe Nathan is there, Joe?

“I do love … the baseball that is in the heads of baseball fans. I love the dreams of glory of 10-year-olds, the reminiscences of 70-year-olds. The greatest baseball arena is in our heads, what we bring to the games, to the telecasts, to reading newspaper reports.” ~ Stan Isaacs, Newsday sports columnist (1929-2013).

Davenport Field

Fans on the hill. Davenport Field, University of Virginia

Squirrel Girl

Richmond Flying Squirrels, The Diamond, Richmond, Virginia

Oriole Bird

7th Inning Stretch, Orioles Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland

Cardinals Fans

Cardinal Fans at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland

Orioles Fans

Orioles fans at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland

Beverly and Francisco Squirrel

Beverly brings “Francisco The Flying Squirrel” to nearly every Flying Squirrels ballgame. (It “stands” during the national anthem and the 7th inning stretch.) The Diamond, Richmond, Virginia

___________

Here’s more …

Fan-Tastic, Part 1 ~ Our grandparents were bad (and dangerous) baseball fans. 

Fan-Tastic, Part 2 ~ Today’s rules of proper fan behavior.  Bring your miniature horse to a game? Okay. How about a grapefruit? Not okay.

Fan Photos: Davenport Field, Charlottesville, Virginia. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore,  Maryland. The Diamond, Richmond, Virginia. 2014