“Weather Has No Favorites; All Games Off”

Chicago Tribune, 4/15/1950

“Weather Has No Favorites; All Games Off”

It was 2-below this morning here in Virginia. Even colder in some parts of the state.

I know this because I, like many of my Virginia friends, took a photo of the thermometer. Evidence. It’s like a pseudo-selfie.

It was 117 degrees in Sydney, Australia yesterday. So, there are degrees of miserability. (Miserability. Not a word. Should be.)

It was a cold, snowy spring in 1950.

On April 13, a snowstorm blanketed much of the east coast from Virginia northward. On April 14, it was still cold … and still snowing. Baseball season hadn’t officially started – Opening Day was four days away – but the teams were just back from spring training and exhibition games were on their calendars.

It was so cold and so snowy, they cancelled all the games.

Every single one.

Lansing State Journal, 4/14/1950

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“Charlottesville Is No Spot For A Writer Of Baseball.”

Charlottesville is no spot for a writer of baseball Washington Post 3 13 1912

Washington Post, 1912

Here’s what baseball writers will tell you about spring training in Charlottesville, Virginia.

It snows and hails and thunders and pours rain and gusts wind and freezes and scorches. There are plenty of lousy days for baseball and very few good ones.

Those writers, roaming around Charlottesville more than 100 years ago, won’t tell you much about the baseball they saw, but they’ll give you an earful about the rotten weather.

During Virginia’s hybrid time of still-winter-not-yet-spring – spwinter! – there’s no telling what any day will bring.


March 2016. © The Baseball Bloggess


March weather in Charlottesville is like a grab bag at the dollar store – you’ll get something for your dollar, but you’ll probably look at it and think, “Really? I paid a dollar for this?”

So why did so many teams from 1892 to 1916 come to Charlottesville for spring training? Were they nuts? Or were the grumpy old baseball writers just annoyed that they had to spend a month in a place which was often snowy and always alcohol-free?

Today, baseball’s spring training is held in Arizona and Florida, more accommodating and predictable climates, and where the only things you have to worry about are swarms of bees and the Zika virus.

But, Charlottesville? “More fickle weather could not be found in any part of the globe,” one Washington Post reporter lamented in 1914 after an early March snowfall.

Who would choose Charlottesville for spring training?

These teams …

In 1894, the Baltimore Orioles came through Charlottesville as part of a nomadic spring training tour through the south and took both games against the University of Virginia. The Orioles, then part of the National League, went on to win the pennant. They were a powerhouse, those Orioles. Yup, chew on that O’s fans. A powerhouse.

In 1901, the Boston Red Sox (then called the Americans) spent spring training in Charlottesville. It was the Sox’ first season and, history will show that the first game ever played by the Red Sox, the first ball they ever hit, and the first run they ever scored, happened in Charlottesville.

There were a few others, but it was the Washington Nationals that spent the most springs in Charlottesville. They were officially the Washington Senators, but everyone called them the Nationals and so should you.  (Although today we call them the Minnesota Twins.)

The Nats “springed” in Charlottesville in 1905 and ‘06 and then again, under manager Clark Griffith, from 1911 through 1916.

Embed from Getty Images

Griffith (third from the right) and his Nationals in Charlottesville. March 1915.

Griffith, today enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, told reporters each season that his choice of Charlottesville over warmer locales was purely strategic.

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It’s A Cold Day For Baseball

All around America, there’s college baseball today. It’s a perfectly fine way to spend an Easter afternoon, if you ask me.

Although it’s brisk outside.

We were at yesterday’s game. The University of Virginia took on Louisville in Charlottesville.

Weathermen insisted the temperature in Virginia was in the 60s on Saturday, but with the breeze blowing with some purpose out to right-center and then to right and mostly out in the bleachers where we were, I estimate yesterday’s wind chill at five degrees. (I could be off a bit. As I said yesterday, math … not my strong suit.)

It’s April but I was dressed for winter – long underwear, an extra sweater, gloves, and, most important, polartec socks. That I was surrounded by people in flip-flops only made me colder.

(What is wrong with you people? Are your feet made of lava?)

Fun Fact: It is possible to score a ballgame, take photos, and check Twitter with gloves on. It’s not easy, but it is possible.

Still, it’s warmer than Easter Sunday in North Dakota. Here’s a photo from this morning’s Main Street Cam in Devils Lake, North Dakota, the town where I spent my high school years.

snowing easter sunday devils lake

Yup, as usual, one look at the Devils Lake Street Cam has warmed me up like a hot cup of coffee.

Saturday was not a good day for the #9 UVa Cavaliers. Grand-slamming, strong pitching #7 Louisville took game one from the Hoos 8-1.

UVa third-baseman Senior Kenny Towns sums up Saturday’s game:

Kenny Towns April 4 2015

© The Baseball Bloggess

Today will be cold again. But, today will be better.

I’m bringing a scarf.

Photo: Davenport Field, The University of Virginia, April 4, 2015

Snow Day Checklist: Read. Vote.

There are all sorts of things to do on a Snow Day.

(Even a “Snow Day” that, so far, has no snow in it. Still, all my clients have cancelled, so, unlike postmen who are rarely slowed by sleet and snow — or the promise of sleet and snow — I’m not working.)

Do not suggest that I shovel snow on a Snow Day.

Shoveling is work. I am not working on my Snow Day.

The first acceptable thing one can do on a Snow Day is read.

Like what you’re doing right now.

Congratulations. You may check “Read” off of your Snow Day to-do list.

Today, March 5, happens to be World Book Day. (Happy World Book Day, Blog Reader!)

In 1803 (or so), John Moore wrote that reading is preferable to “horses, hounds, the theatres, cards, and the bottle.”

(Pity about the bottle thing, but, oh well.)

utility of books

Note that Moore specifically did not say that books are preferable to baseball. That baseball did not exist, under the name “baseball” anyway, in 1803 is a smug formality. And, I’m having none of your smugness on my Snow Day.

Reading, Moore tells us, “preserves us from bad company.” This is the polite way of saying that reading protects you from dolts.

Congratulations. We are not dolts.

When Billy [Martin] was a high school junior a teacher asked him to read a book for a report. He admitted that he had never read a book and suggested he never intended to change.

“What will you do with your life?” the teacher asked.

“I’m going to be a baseball player,” he said. “Baseball players don’t have to read books.”

The teacher reached into a shelf and pulled out a book. “Here,” she said, “Read this.”

The book was Lou Gehrig: Quiet Hero by Frank Graham.

“I read it from cover to cover in one sitting,” Martin said years later. “It had a strong influence on my life.”

~ All Roads Lead To October, by Maury Allen, 2010


Billy Martin, Yankee. 1952 World Series. Baseball Digest. Public Domain

See. Even Yankees know the value of reading.

Books, Moore writes, “can be enjoyed in the worst weather.”

So, should the snow actually arrive, I’m set.

read war and peace

Another thing one can do on a Snow Day …


Once again, I trot out my rusty political science degree to promote our democracy’s voting tradition. A proud tradition that allows and encourages anyone to vote, except children, felons, and people who disagree with the party in power. Women and people of color will note that our voting tradition has not been a particularly long one.

Let’s vote!

Voting for Presidents and Members of Congress and marijuana and county bonds is fun, but voting for baseball team names is even funner. (“Funner” is not a word, no matter what an 8-year-old says, but it should be.)

Hartford, Connecticut is seeking a name for its Double A minor league team – a Colorado Rockies affiliate – which is moving from New Britain this season.

They need our help. They want us to vote.

top 10 team names

Sure the Hartford Praying Mantis is hipster-cute. But, what can you do with a name like that? The Praying Manti? Mantises? Mantes?

That’s a mess.

Honey Badger is stupid.

So are Whirlybirds (let’s go, Turbine Ventilators!), Choppers (popular with dentists), and River Hogs (which are native to Africa, not Hartford).

whirlybird turbine ventilator

 Helicopters are not as fun as turbine ventilators.


By Jason Pratt, permission: CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

 River hogs, no stick. (Might be ok fielding bunts.)

I like Screech Owls.

pignoliPignoli, Screech Owl at the Wildlife Center of Virginia 

They are adorable in a Pharrell-in-a-big-hat-singing-“Happy”-before-it-got-played-out-and-people-started-posting-annoying-singalongs-on-YouTube sort of way.

(The Milwaukee Brewers version will always be sweet because … Hank the Dog!)

Editor/Husband likes the Hartford Yard Goats.

Which I thought was stupid, because who knew that people in Hartford had goats in their yard and that it was a thing?

I clearly do not read enough, because had I read a book about trains I would know that a Yard Goat is a squat, little locomotive that lives in a rail yard and shuffles the cars around.

yard goat train

By Lexcie, permission: CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

 Yard Goat. Never runs out of the base paths.

Now that’s adorable.

Editor/Husband wins.

Vote Yard Goats. Vote here.

(Or Screech Owls.)

(Just not Honey Badgers. For the love of God, no.)

Postscript: This conversation just happened.

Baseball Bloggess: My headline is boring. Can you fix it?

Editor/Husband: Do you want to put a colon in?

BB: Yup. That sexy-ed it up.


And, It’s Not Even Spring


© The Baseball Bloggess

It’s pretty cheap to complain about the snow when there are only a few inches outside.


© The Baseball Bloggess

I’m sure someone in New England has just come in from shoveling snow off of his roof – again – and is cursing me for complaining.

(Fun Fact: If my local paper was using baseball players to measure snowfall, we’d be moving.)

boston globe

Pitchers and catchers reported to Florida and Arizona this week. The NCAA college baseball season began last weekend. Because, when it comes to baseball, spring begins in winter.

I guess we’re always trying to speed up baseball.

There may not be eight feet of snow on the ground here, but there was still enough to run the University of Virginia baseball team down to Charleston, South Carolina this weekend to play its first “home series” of the season 450 miles away from home.

snow cover

Virginia, snow. South Carolina, no snow.

This meant no baseball for me this weekend.

Charleston, South Carolina was one of the first locations to serve as a big league spring training spot when the Philadelphia Phillies set up shop there in the spring of 1886. (The Chicago White Stockings put together their own spring training in Hot Springs, Arkansas that same year.)

Phillies charleston spring 1886

Philadelphia Phillies in Charleston, SC, Spring 1886. ~ Public Domain Image

In 1884, Cap Anson, of the White Stockings, told Sporting Life magazine that early spring workouts in a warmer climate would “relieve the men of all stiffness, soreness, and rheumatism, and [allow the White Stockings to] start off with a physically strong team.”

But, really, the goal was simply to dry out the drinkers.

And, slim down the overeaters.

Apparently, every generation has its Pablo Sandoval.


(The Chicago White Stockings of 1886, incidentally, eventually became the Chicago Cubs and not the White Sox, as you might have assumed. See, baseball can teach you something even in February.)

The snow is melting today. It never lasts long in Virginia.

And, the University of Virginia is 7-0 this season.

But, it took a historic 18 innings — and five hours — this afternoon to notch that last win versus Marist down in Charleston.

uva tweet1 uva tweet2 uva tweet3 uva tweet4

And, it’s not even spring.


© The Baseball Bloggess


Base-Ball. On Ice.

baseball on ice 1

“Games, you remember, go by a kind of immutable rotation – as much a law of childhood as gravitation of the universe. Marbles belong to spring, to the first weeks after the frost is out of the ground. They are a kind of celebration of the season, of the return to bare earth. Tops belong to autumn, hockey to the ice, base-ball to the spring and summer, football to the cold, snappy fall. … If you played ‘em out of time, they didn’t seem right; there was no zest to them.” ~ Walter Prichard Eaton in Scribner’s, 1911.

(Spinning your tops in the spring? Unzesty.)

There wasn’t much snow in Central Virginia yesterday. Just a splatter. Or, maybe someone just emptied a bag of cotton balls out in the yard.

a cotton ball of snow

© The Baseball Bloggess

You can’t do much with a snow like that.

By noon it was gone.

Time to get on with spring.

Some people argue that baseball season goes on too long, that games are too long, that everything should just be shortened up, speeded up, and wrapped up quickly.

They are wrong. Who wants more baseball-less winter?

In the 1860s, “Ice Base-Ball” was invented to keep the season going longer.

Ice baseball Washington Park 1884 by C.J. Taylor

“Base Ball On Skates” by C.J. Taylor in Harper’s, 1884

A few teams in Brooklyn – and later in Chicago and Philadelphia – gave it a go and you can find reports of it through the early 1880s or so.

Some games had 15,000 fans out in the cold watching players skate around the bases.

(Imagine this … Billy Butler. Stealing second. On skates.)

(You’ll be thinking about it all day, won’t you? Maybe this baseball on ice thing isn’t such a bad idea.)

Following a game between the New York Mutuals and Atlantics in January 1871, The New York Sun noted that the bases were drawn on the ice with paint and ashes, the ice “was in fine condition” and “[t]he play was good.”

The Mutuals lost, although the reporter neglected to give a final score.

The game’s highlight? “In the second innings, [sic] one of the Mutuals, Shreeves, took the bat and struck at the first ball pitched to him. The next that was seen of him he was lying in a heap on the ice, while his bat was flying over the heads of the spectators.”


Just 21 days until pitchers and catchers report to warm places where the only ice is in drinks and wrapped around sore muscles.

In the meantime, here’s a hardy women’s team in Toronto playing baseball on ice in 1924.

The “latest in Winter sports – demands skill, speed and strong clothes.”

(Don’t forget your strong clothes … there’s still a bit of winter left out there.)

Free Baseball: Things Are Not As They Seem Edition

It snowed today. Well, just a little …


Can’t see it? Here, look again …


A dusting of snow and, look, a mystery cat!

Well, it snowed enough that lots of things around me closed for the day.

While this smattering of snowlets has closed things in Virginia, it’s the kind of snow that someone in North Dakota wouldn’t even notice. “It snowed last night? Really? I didn’t notice the dusting on top of the other 20 inches that have been here since September.”

I lived in North Dakota for awhile, I should know.

So, this may not seem like anything to you.

But, sometimes things are not as they seem … and this dusting has upended Central Virginia.

And, as a result, hundreds and hundreds of schoolchildren around here got to sleep in, blissfully unaware for one more day of important things like Algebra, adverbs, and Chester Alan Arthur.

Today in “Free Baseball,” three other things that are not quite what they seem.

10th Inning: Tommy Hunter, Retail Dude

Tommy Hunter is one of the Baltimore Orioles longest-tenured and pretty steady (mostly steady, often steady … or, at least, more-often-steady-than-not steady, 2.97-ERA-in-2014 steady) bullpen relievers. I’m soft on the boys of the bullpen. It’s a thankless job being a reliever. Even when you’re great – or at least steady more often than not – you’re unheralded. You’re probably never going to win a Cy Young (although occasionally relievers do), you’re probably not going to be an MVP of anything, and, apparently, unless it’s the 8th or 9th inning, you’re not going to be recognized, even by your own fans.

Tommy went “undercover” to work at the Orioles Fan Store in nearby York, Pennsylvania last summer.


 “The Hunter jerseys just came in, man. I’ve got a couple of them, too.”

Watching him hawk Tommy Hunter jerseys is why I believe bullpens – and the boys who live there – are one of the best parts of the game. Watch here.

We (heart) Tommy.

11th Inning: Baseball in Japan


“It’s not just baseball. It’s something else. It’s something more.”

Each spring dozens of high school teams from around Japan come together at Koshien for a nine-day tournament that captivates the country. Like “the Super Bowl and World Series rolled into one,” it is one of Japan’s biggest sporting events.

In “When 772 Pitches Isn’t Enough,” writer Chris Jones tells the story of Tomohiro Anraku, a 16-year-old pitching phenom from Saibi High School and one of the top baseball prospects in the world, and his appearance at Koshien.

The culture of youth baseball in Japan – the dedication to perfection at any physical or emotional cost – is fascinating. And, when you read of how Anraku throws 772 pitches over five games in nine days, it’s also frightening.

The article first appeared in ESPN: The Magazine, and, most recently, in the 2014 Edition of The Best American Sports Writing.  Read here.

12th Inning: The Birth Of A Twins Fan


Because I am a loyal (some would say annoying) Orioles fan, people assume I live in Baltimore. Not true. Although I lived in nearby Northern Virginia for a number of years, I’ve never lived in Baltimore. To get to Camden Yards today takes us a good three hours, usually in terrible I-95 traffic. When we’re about halfway to Baltimore, I will thumb my nose at much-closer Nationals Stadium as we pass by it. I’m a loyal Birdland Girl.

This week Verdun – who writes the fabulous Verdun2’s Blog – explained how he, a lifelong Dodgers fan, inadvertently turned his son into a Minnesota Twins fan simply because of one seemingly innocuous act when his son was small.


It’s a great read. Read here.

(Although, had he handed a Yankees card to his son on that fateful day, it would have been a tragic and sad story. Whew!)

Pitchers and Catchers Report in just 35 Days!


Free Baseball refers to the extra innings that occur after a nine-inning game ends in a tie. For me, “Free Baseball” are the extra things that don’t quite fit into my regular-sized posts.


“The One Foul Blot on Dakota’s Map”

I was going to post this on Friday. But, instead, we shoveled snow away from our cars and plowed down the pasture road and out to freedom. 

Freedom being the paved road about a mile away that was completely clear and dry. Ten inches of snow on Thursday; sunny and 52 degrees on Friday.

So, Editor/Husband and I went out to lunch. And, shoveled just a little bit more, but mostly out of guilt because everyone else seemed to be shoveling, so we thought we probably ought to, too.

Snow Day Feb 14

Nice walkways, yes?

This post should have ended up on the scrap heap. That’s where most of my posts end up. You get only the very best ones. You might now be thinking, “Good god, what kind of crap doesn’t make the cut?”

(That’s very rude and hurtful, by the way.)

Some of what doesn’t make the cut is stuff like this:

“Skdjkl sj;lagja ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp”

This was a guest post from Stevie who paws her way across the keyboard from time to time. Every cat is attracted to a keyboard at least once. My cat Squeekee once stepped on the “enter” key and sent an unfinished, typo-filled email to a consulting client. Always a plus when you’re charging to edit their copy.

I was going to scrap this post because it’s mostly about (me). Writing about (me) simply means there isn’t good baseball or Yoga to write about.  And, there’s always good baseball and Yoga to write about.

For those of you still reading (as you wait for the Olympics or tonight’s Downton Abbey), here’s the post I should have scrapped:

When I was in Junior High, my parents uprooted me from California to return to their original home – a farm in North Dakota (a few dozen miles from the geographic center of North America; a good 10 miles from the nearest paved, two-lane road, and 15 miles or so from the nearest grocery store).

It was cold and flat. It was very, very cold and very, very flat.

I had the foresight to keep this newspaper article.


I went outside that day, but I am not the person jogging. Needless to say, that was my last winter in North Dakota.

The eastern half of North Dakota is so flat that from our farmhouse, I could easily see the town lights at night 14 miles away … except when the snow blotted them out (which was more often than you can imagine).

I lived in a town called Devils Lake.

In 1883, a local newspaper editor wrote this about there:

“If they persist in their infernal mobs, shooting scrapes, shanty burnings, etc. people cannot but be convinced that the Devils Lake country is inhabited by a band of roughs and that a decent man’s life is not safe there. … All respectable people regret to see the settlers of Devils Lake … the one foul blot on Dakota’s map.”

The Devils Lake high school sports teams were called the Satans and no one there thought it odd when a gym full of high school students yelled, “Satans spirit never dies! Never! Never! Never!”  (After nearly 80 years, they changed the name to Firebirds in 2002, but, they’ll always be the Satans to the locals.)


High School Yearbooks were called “The Satan.” And, how about that artwork?

It was far too cold and far too snowy for the high school to have a baseball team and no one there thought that was odd either.


No baseball. But, we did have curling. I was an awesome sweeper.

My years there was time spent, I guess, as the foundation for saying “I’m much happier here in this better place” ever since.

(If you think I’m being tough on that old town, you are right, although I’m being far kinder than I would be if you and I were to sit down together and have a beer. For the record, I recently checked the school’s alumni pages, and I am not included with my graduating class. It’s as though I never existed. This, at first, pissed me off. But, now it just gives me validation in rehashing many not-so-kind memories. It also makes it much easier to lie about my age.)

Finally sprung from both high school and college, I came east, happy to find much warmer weather, far better music, Yoga, and, yes, baseball.

I never looked back.

In North Dakota when it snows, the snow sticks around, often for months. In Devils Lake, the main streets in town have a permafrost layer of packed down snow, ice, and gravel throughout the winter. You just live with it.

Snow? -100 wind chills? You just live with it.

Here in Virginia as soon as there is a threat of even two inches of snow, everyone panics. The store shelves are emptied and schools are closed, often for days on end.

It snows.

And, then the sun comes out and the day turns warm.

The snow melts.

Baseball has come. Spring Training’s underway in Florida and Arizona. College games are being played.

Enough about (me). It’s baseball season!

(Want more curling? I’ve written more curling! Click here.)

Snow Cat