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.

 

Messin’ With Texas

It was a long shot. You know, asking Texas teams to knock the Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals out of the post season. Knock them out for no good reason, except, really, for spite.

Spitefulness is not an attractive character trait. I know this, so you can stop with the nose-crinkling.

As an Orioles fan, I can’t root for the Royals who soundly steamrolled the O’s in last year’s ALCS and I can’t root for the Blue Jays because … if for no other reason than their fans always seem to be throwing their beer around and I can’t like an untidy country.

stop throwing things

Even the players begged fans to stop throwing beer. And, they’re a team that likes throwing bats and stuff.

I had hopes for those pesky Houston Astros. I really thought they could squeeze past the Royals.

But, they let me down.

The Texas Rangers over the Blue Jays? Hey, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. But, a girl can dream.

Now, I realize, you just can’t count on Texas.

It is a very big state with, apparently, nothing to show for it.

If you ask the Googler “What is Texas famous for?”, it will tell you … The Alamo, a battle that didn’t go particularly well for the Texans. So really, even Texas can’t come up with anything.

Look, I was only asking a couple of Texas teams to win a couple ball games. And, the Texans let me down. Just like the Alamo.

Now I’m stuck rooting for the National League, and for heaven’s sake, they let their pitchers bat! What is wrong with those people?

I know some of you hipsters are saying, “Hey, what about Janis Joplin?” Texas was horrible to Janis. They can’t be taking credit for her after they bullied her in high school. (For those who will argue for Buddy Holly … yes, you’ve got a point. But, I’m not letting your thoughtfulness mess up this post.)

I can come up with only three good things to ever come out of the state.

1) Texas Toast.

First off, my local grocery has an entire freezer case – the whole thing! – dedicated to Texas toast.

Texas Toast

Imagine that! Those Texas geniuses have saved us the trouble of buttering our own toast! They just freeze the toast with the butter right on it. It’s amazing.

I was feeling kinda bad about trash-talking the state when they’ve gone to all the trouble to freeze toast with the butter already on it.

Then I discovered this. (And, you Texas Toast fans could have told me this and saved me all this trouble.)  It’s not even toast! You still have to take your frozen butter-bread and toast the thing yourself. Which just goes to prove my point. You can’t count on Texas for anything.

New York Texas Toast

Look! Even the Texas Toast is rooting for the Mets!

So, we’re left with …

2) Chris Davis, (born in Longview and now lives in Arlington, Texas).

The (still, for the time-being) Orioles’ Chris Davis hit 47 homeruns this season. That’s more than anyone else.

crush

© The Baseball Bloggess

47 homers. This is one of them.

It wasn’t enough to get the Orioles to the post-season, but it was enough to help give the O’s a solid break-even .500 season, which, when you set the bar very low, isn’t so bad.

Davis is now a free agent, and most baseball smarties believe he will flee Baltimore for the bright lights of a multi-year, multi-million-million-million-dollar payday. Can’t blame him. But, if he does, he’s coming off this list … tossed right beside the unreliable Astros, Rangers, and those boxes of Texas “toast.”

3) Doak Dozier (Ft. Worth).

Doak Dozier is a freshman outfielder at the University of Virginia. With only a few “fall ball” exhibitions under his belt this month, I can’t tell you much about his abilities. But, scouts think he’s got potential.

He has, they say, “outstanding hitting ability. … Always hits.”

“[H]ighly athletic … with a pretty swing and tools to burn.”

Doak Dozier Foul Swing

© The Baseball Bloggess

Nice swing. 

At Arlington Heights High School, he was a baseball star, All-State, and named a “Perfect Game” All-American. Here’s what they were saying during this year’s draft.

I just think he has one of the best names in baseball.

Doak.

(Not as good as Mookie, of course, but better than Hunter Pence.)

That’s really all it takes to make this list today.

In case you think I haven’t done my research, trust me. I now know that silicone breast implants, Fritos, and Dell computers all come from Texas. (I’m writing this on a Dell. Which makes me think I’m really sticking it to ‘em.)

So, you can’t count on Texas. Except for Chris Davis (as an Oriole, but not playing for anyone else), Doak Dozier, maybe, I really don’t know, but he has a nice name, and Buddy Holly. But, that’s it.

Oh, and those bats in Austin. They’re awesome.

 

Happy Place: There’s No Place Like It

When The Daily Post asked bloggers to show their “Happy Place” on their blogs this week I wasn’t going to play along. After all, what do you expect me to say?

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,

Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home;

A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there,

Which seek thro’ the world, is ne’er met elsewhere.

Home! Home! Sweet, sweet home!

There’s no place like home! There’s no place like home!

~ From the 1823 opera “Clari, or the Maid of Milan.”

happy place

© The Baseball Bloggess

Funny thing. 1823 is also the year that we can find the first known references to the game of “base ball”:

“I was last Saturday much pleased in witnessing a company of active young men playing the manly and athletic game of ‘base ball’ at the Retreat in Broadway.” ~ The National Advocate, April 23, 1823.

Coincidence? Of course not.

There’s no place like home.

Photo: The University of Virginia vs. the Ontario Blue Jays. Davenport Field, Charlottesville, Virginia. October 13, 2015. (Taken behind the netting. Sorry about that.) © The Baseball Bloggess

UVa defeated the Canadian squad (an 18-and-under team featuring some of the best young players in the country) 12-5 last night in a strange 14-inning “exhibition” game that was a more a showcase for scouts, I think, than an actual game. Players batting out of order. Pinch runners pinch running and then disappearing. Really odd.

But, still … even really odd baseball is Happy Place worthy.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Happy Place.”

A Call To Arms

No matter who you are – your gender, ethnicity, country of origin, or age – if you win something big, you will raise your arms in victory.

Doesn’t matter who you are … your arms go up. It’s hardwired in you.

(The scientists who study this would want me to tell you that the arm-raise often comes with a chest puff and a shout. They call this behavior the “dominance threat display.”)

Researchers studying the activities of blind Para-Olympians discovered the very same thing. They raise their arms, too.

Even though most of these blind people had never seen anyone else do it, they instinctively raised their arms with joy upon winning a competition.

The feeling of winning, it seems, is uniformly uniform.

In other experiences, we’re individuals. The foods we like, the people we’re drawn to, what makes us laugh. We’re all a little different.

Except when we win.

When we win, we throw our arms in the air.

So, on June 24, when University of Virginia pitcher Nathan Kirby soundly struck out Kyle Smith of Vanderbilt looking, ending the College World Series and bringing UVa their first-ever national baseball championship, Kirby did exactly what evolution told him to do.

Allow Nathan Kirby, now a member of the Milwaukee Brewers organization, to demonstrate the “dominance threat display.”

But, here’s the funny thing.

I was sitting a thousand miles away from Omaha, watching on television. And, I raised my arms, too.

(I may have also whoo’d. Can’t remember. Sometimes I skip the whoos because I don’t want to annoy the cats.)

You may wonder why it has taken me more than a month to tell you that UVa won the College World Series.

I’m not sure I know the answer.

I’ve never really had a team I follow win anything like this before, so I’m not sure how to throw my arms up in the air on a blog without sounding gloaty or pompous or just annoying.

I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

(Dear Vanderbilt fans, I’m very sorry the Hoos beat you.)

(Dear Everybody Else, I’m not really, but I just don’t know what else to say to them.)

UVa wasn’t expected to win. Heck, they weren’t even expected to go to the post-season. They barely made it to their own ACC tournament and, frankly, they were awfully stinky once they got there.

But, baseball is a funny game and on any given day a team can suddenly find the rhythm they’ve been missing all season.

If you still don’t believe how improbable this was, just take a look at the tee-shirt that the NCAA had to hastily doctor to celebrate Virginia’s win.

ncaa teeshirt

Thanks, Ron! :)

Yes, the UVa championship tee-shirt … features Vanderbilt gold.

vandy logo

UVa logo

Thanks, NCAA.

I know it was a month ago, but I still want to share three special moments from UVa’s post-season.

Because, like throwing your arms in the air, these three moments are universally wonderful, regardless of whether you’re a UVa fan, or a college baseball fan, or any baseball fan (except, maybe, Vanderbilt’s).

1) That Smack Down.

In Game 2 of the Super Regionals in Charlottesville on June 5, the Hoos entered the bottom of the 9th down 4-2 to the University of Maryland. It was must-win for Maryland. The Terps starting pitcher, who had pretty much shut down the Hoos all day, loads the bases. No outs. Maryland brings in their can’t-fail closer Kevin Mooney.  He walks in a run. 4-3.  And then, UVa freshman Ernie Clement does this …

ernie clement supers

Check out Clement after the hit (at 1:41). 

Former UVa Hoo and current Oakland A reliever Sean Doolittle helpfully provides the part I’d like you to watch again.

An exceptional display of victory arms, don’t you think?  The smack-down? That’s junior Kevin Doherty.

I believe this is a lesson for all of us. Throwing your arms in the air can feel really good if you’ve just won a trip to the College World Series. But, it puts you in a tough spot should a jubilant teammate wish to make you the flaky crust of a dogpile pie.

2) That Play.

UVa senior Kenny Towns has been “Old Reliable” down at third throughout his college career.

When the Angels picked him late in the 20th round of the MLB draft this year, I thought, wow, they just got themselves a player that’s much, much better than any scout realizes.

(When you see Towns and Trout in the same lineup someday, you’ll think back and say, “That Baseball Bloggess sure was right. I bet she’s cute, too.”)

After the Series I had more people email, text, and mention this play to me than any other. And, they’re right. I love amazing plays in the hot corner. And, this one was nasty, hot, and sweet like when you tell the waiter you want your vindaloo “Indian hot” and he believes you.

3) That Dogpile.

Baseball Prospectus determined that the first World Series dogpile – run, jump, fall into a heap – was done by the 1982 St. Louis Cardinals. 

Take a look … victory arms, dogpiling, fans swarming the field. Wait? Fans swarming the field? What kind of savages were we? Watch here.

Prior to ’82, there was a lot of running, hugging, and weird, awkward jumping around. But, no dogpiles. Prior to 1962, most winning teams didn’t even stick around to hoot and holler. The game ended and they simply ran off the field to party in the clubhouse.

So, celebratory dogpiles are younger than my little Metropolitan dumpling Bartolo Colon (look, I’ve mentioned him again!).

I’m not sure that this is the most perfect, wonderful dogpile in baseball history.

Wait. I’ve watched it again.

Yup.

It is.

 

July 24, 2012

On July 24, 2012, the Baltimore Orioles faced the Tampa Rays at Camden Yards. The O’s lost, 3-1.

Adam Jones homered, the Oriole’s only run. Nick Markakis was in right and hit a double. Wilson Betemit played third. Manny Machado was still a shortstop in the minors taking grounders at third “in secret.”

In Los Angeles, the Royals beat the Angels. Mike Trout went 0-for-3.

In St. Louis, the Cards roughed up the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw for eight earned runs. The Mets’ R.A. Dickey gave up five to the Nats, ending his 11-game win streak. And, the Giants squeaked past the Padres with a walk-off single from Brandon Crawford.

Just another day in baseball.

And, I started this blog.

Don’t go looking for those first posts from 2012. I didn’t tell anyone about my blog at first, and now, looking at the early stuff, well, it’s cringe-worthy.

I’ve summed up my early blogging career here.

Today, 178 posts later, I have a patient Editor/Husband and the decency to share photos of cats.

stevie

Stevie!

Happy 3rd birthday, blog.

(You’ve outlived the average blog by two years and 11 months. Congratulations!)

And, happy 51st birthday, Barry Bonds. (People still don’t like you, do they?)

Third anniversaries require gifts of leather so, to celebrate, here’s a flash of leather for you …

flash2

Watch this.

A few things have changed for me since 2012. But, really, I still like the same stuff.

I like to win in the post-season.

(And, I’ve finally been to my first post-season games. The Orioles lost ‘em both.)

I like the College World Series as much as the big league one.

(The University of Virginia Cavaliers won the College World Series last month – their first national baseball championship since they started playing at UVa in 1889. Go Hoos!)

I like a quiet-eyed Starter and a Bullpen that plays with matches.

I like the Astros’ ‘70s-era uniforms, but not the Padres’.

I like baseball on grass, walk-up music, and night games under lights.

I like bobbleheads and minor league mascots and The Baseball Project.

otey the swamp possum

Otey the Swamp Possum, awesome official mascot of the Arkansas Travelers

(Editor/Husband: “You can’t go wrong with a swamp possum.”)

(Dear Little Rock fans, Pay attention. Otey’s a possum, not a rat.)

I like the edamame dumplings at Camden Yards and the “lucky” sodas from Mark’s stand at UVa’s Davenport Field. (They really are lucky.)

I like the Curse of the Andino and I especially like posting this a few times a year:

andinocurse

Watch me.

I like a neat scorecard, the Designated Hitter rule, and Jon Miller calling a Giants game late into the night.

I like a 4-6-3 double play slightly more than a 6-4-3 double play, but I can’t tell you exactly why.

I like Jonathan Schoop …

schoopy

… and, Willie Mays …

 

And, I’ll never like the Yankees.

So, whatever happened to those guys from three years ago?

Mike Trout, and his 10.8 WAR, was Rookie of the Year in 2012 and is Most Valuable Everything today.

R.A. Dickey went on to win the Cy Young, and, even on an off day, Clayton Kershaw continues to be better than most pitchers and leads the league this season with 185 strikeouts.

The Giants won the World Series.

The Orioles?

Following the debut of my blog in July, the Orioles went on to win the 2012 Wild Card play-off and lost to the Yankees in the ALDS. It was the O’s first postseason appearance in 15 years which can’t possibly be a coincidence.

In August, shortstop Manny Machado made his big league debut for the O’s at third. He’s still there and well on his way to being the Orioles MVP.

Wilson Betemit ended up in Tampa’s minor league system and is currently a free agent.

Nick Markakis is a Brave. (I still miss you, Nick.)

It’s July 24, 2015 and the Orioles are 4th — and seven long, difficult, frustrating, but not impossible, games back — in the AL East.

Sherman Hemsley

February 1, 1938 – July 24, 2012

 

If …

If you graduate from the University of Virginia with a degree in mechanical engineering and a 3.7 GPA … you’ve earned a place on my blog.

If you persevere in the sport you love … walking on as a freshman and working hard day-in and day-out even though the odds are long against you that you will ever get a chance to play and your last at-bats were in the middle of May … you’ve earned a place on my blog.

And, if you go 3-for-4 and hit a decisive 2 RBI single in a do-or-die game of the College World Series, sending your underdog University of Virginia Cavaliers to Game 3 against heavily favored Vanderbilt … you know, you’ve earned a place on my blog.

Here’s to you Thomas Woodruff … 

Thomas Woodruff UVA

© The Baseball Bloggess

“[T]his guy has been as unselfish a team player as you could possibly be for four years. And I really believe that at the most important time you get rewarded for that, and certainly it showed true today. And it worked. We just did enough.” ~ UVa Coach Brian O’Connor

That Thomas Woodruff and the entire team of “Cardiac Cavs” left the Vandy-happy ESPN broadcasters stunned and speechless as the Hoos went on to win 3-0 against “this-team-can’t-lose” Vanderbilt Commodores is simply a bonus.

A tip of the cap to all the Hoos.

I’m hoping for another night of stunned confusion from ESPN.

Because, it’s so nice when ESPN is left with nothing to say.

Game 3. Tonight. 8 p.m. ESPN.

Photo: Davenport Field, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. 2015 season. © The Baseball Bloggess

OmaHoos 2015

Why do we sing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” when we’re already there?

The answer to this corny old joke is simple. Because we do, and not everything in baseball has to make sense.

The University of Virginia’s very strange season has somehow taken them to the championship of the College World Series this week and that doesn’t really make sense either.

I’ve been calling it improbable. But, then so has everyone else.

(And, by improbable, I don’t mean that they don’t deserve to be in Omaha, only that, had you asked me four weeks ago … well, fortunately, no one did.)

The post-game announcers on ESPN on Saturday night were so unprepared for Virginia’s win over Florida that they had nearly no statistics or background info on UVa ready to air after the Hoo’s win. The best they could come up with was to joke that Vanderbilt is such a prohibitive favorite and the odds are so long against UVa in this week’s championship, that Las Vegas oddsmakers have probably closed the book on the series.

Dear ESPN, If you’re going to tell a baseball joke to fill airtime, why not make it a good one? Like this …

Which takes longer: to run from 1st to 2nd base or to run from 2nd to 3rd base? It takes longer to run from 2nd to 3rd base because there’s a “short stop” in the middle.

Fun Fact: Since the post-season began on May 29, the Hoos are 8-1. They have scored 49 runs over those nine games; 25 of them have been scored in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings.

Funner Fact: The Hoos have scored the go-ahead runs in the 6th inning or later in all eight wins.

Here’s to the Hoos! They play Game 1 against Vanderbilt tonight in a best-of-three series.  8:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN

Daniel Pinero Ernie Clement

Daniel Pinero, Shortstop & Ernie Clement, 2nd Base

As ESPN was about to cut away following Virginia’s win over Florida on Saturday, their cameras took one last sweep over the Virginia players, huddled around their Coach Brian O’Connor. Just before they cut to commercial you could hear Coach O’Connor tell his team:

“Continue to have fun and enjoy it.”

Matt Thaiss

“We just go out there and do what we have to do. … We know nobody looks at us like a team that should win it all or can win it all. But everyone in our locker room thinks we can.” ~ Matt Thaiss, Catcher

 

ernie clement 2015

Ernie Clement

From Sunday’s Roanoke Times:

Clement was asked what comes to mind when he hears the word ‘Vanderbilt.’ He looked quizzically at the reporter.

‘Are we playing Vanderbilt?’ he said.

The reporter paused to give Clement a chance to reveal he was joking. The lack of words suggested the freshman was not. Why, yes, Ernie, your opponent in the College World Series finals would be Vanderbilt. You know, the team that’s been all over SportsCenter the past few nights? The defending national champions? The baseball powerhouse that UVa met at this same stage last year?

‘Oh, I didn’t even know that,’ he said. ‘I just know we’re there. I can’t wait to play.’

mound11

Ernie Tweet

Photos: Davenport Field, the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. 2015 Season. © The Baseball Bloggess

 

“Some How. Some Way. Josh Comes In.”

Here are some things The Baseball Bloggess can no longer do.

  • Read the small print on vitamin bottles.
  • This.
  • Stay up past midnight.

One can be remedied with cheap drugstore reading glasses and I have 11 pairs lying around the house in case of a vitamin emergency. Two, I never could do that. (But, I’m touched that for five seconds you thought I could.) Three, well, if your team plays the late game in the College World Series, bedtime can be an inconvenience.

But, that doesn’t mean I can’t get up at 5 a.m. to watch the post-midnight DVR’d parts of last night/this morning’s University of Virginia vs. Florida game.

sleepy kid

I wasn’t the only sleepy one.

Let’s get to it. UVa won, continuing its miracle run of playing much better (much, much, much better) than it did through the regular season.

Since you might not have made it to 2 a.m. either, watch the recap here.

“Some how. Some way.”

Now, rewind to 3:12 and re-watch the 8th inning highlights and the come-backer to UVa closer Josh Sborz. The one that ricocheted off his glove and sent the glove flying. The one that came with no outs and the tying run on third, the go-ahead run on first, and the go-ahead-even-more run at bat.

No outs.

He gets the out. But, still … it’s break-a-sweat time. Because even with that out, the tying run is still on third, the go-ahead run is still on first, and the go-ahead-ahead run is at bat. One out.

Times like these call for a visit to the mound. To settle down your pitcher. To position your infield. To make sure everything is just so. It’s late and every pitch is potentially a “game changer.”

The recap didn’t share the mound visit that followed that Sborz play. But, I will …

Willie Stargell once said, “They don’t say, ‘Work Ball.’ They say ‘Play Ball.’” And, when you’re in the College World Series, it’s a good idea to savor every moment, even when the game’s on the line.

mound1

“Hey, that pitch could have killed you, Josh.”

mound7

“Hey, do you think we’ll have time for a swim when we get back to the hotel?”

mound9

“Hey, have you seen Vanderbilt’s uniforms? It’s like a nine-man prison break.”

mound11

“Hey, can you believe we’re playing in the College World Series?”

Now, that’s playing baseball.

(Spoiler Alert: Sborz gets the next two outs. And, then three more, one-two-three, in the 9th. Hoos win, 1-0.)

Which brings us to this classic scene from Bull Durham. I know you know the one. But, watch it again. I know you want to.

 

Hey, might as well watch the whole movie. You’ve got time. UVa doesn’t play again until Friday.

box score

 

 

“Soon No Off Season”

off season 1

© The Baseball Bloggess

“Pretty soon the ball player will not have rest enough between seasons to get acquainted with his folks.” ~ The Sporting News, November 7, 1912

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Off-Season.”

They call it “The Grind.” That long baseball season. That life ballplayers choose.

For the pros, it begins in February at spring training and, if you’re lucky, it will extend to the far reaches of October.

College ball starts in February and stretches through four months, then summer league teams, and a “bonus” fall season tucked in before the snow falls.

Whatever’s left, that’s your “off-season.”

I thought “off-season” was a baseball term that had worked its way into the rest of the language. But, “off-season” is a business term that was first used in the 1840s.

soon no off season 1912 headline november 7 1912

The Sporting News, November 7, 1912

In 1912, The Sporting News complained that Charles Comiskey, President and Owner of the Chicago White Sox, was running his players ragged by shortening the off-season and putting his team on a train to California in the middle of February to begin spring training, forcing his players into exhibition games along the way, stopping at any place where a pick-up game might put extra “coin” into the owner’s pocket.

We don’t lay fallow much. There’s not much off-season for anybody these days. Apparently, there never was.

off season 2

© The Baseball Bloggess

Photo: Davenport Field, The University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. The end of the “Fall Ball” season. © The Baseball Bloggess

 

The Friday Night Guy

I’m not sure when college baseball coined the term “Friday Night Guy.”

ESPN suggests it came about in the mid-1990s when the SEC (the always power-packed Southeastern Conference) changed its weekend schedule, moving one of its traditional double-header Saturday games to Friday night.

On that night, in the SEC and in ballparks around the country, the best college pitchers – the aces – pitch.

To be a Friday Night Guy is to be the best pitcher on your team. Facing the other guy’s Friday Night Guy.

When the University of Virginia takes the field in the first game of this year’s College World Series on Saturday afternoon, their Friday Night Guy will take the mound – Sophomore Connor Jones.

Connor Jones UVa 10 18 14

© The Baseball Bloggess

(I know. It’s Saturday. Friday Night Guys get juggled around some once the post-season arrives.)

Jones didn’t start the season as the Friday Night Guy. He was, uh, I guess you’d call him the Saturday Dude for much of this season. The #2 guy.

Saturday Night Guy

Not this Saturday Night Guy.

When UVa’s ace Nathan Kirby went down with a shoulder muscle strain in April, Jones stepped up.

Connor Jones UVa Fall Ball 10 18 14

© The Baseball Bloggess

We call him CoJo.

(And, by “we,” I mean, really just me. But, it’s a good nickname, don’t you think? I spend a lot of time thinking up nicknames for the players and shouting them out, hoping they catch on. They usually don’t. This one, though, is a shame, because it’s pretty good.)

The Hoos will wear their “Connor Camo” jerseys, which they’ve worn whenever CoJo pitches, ever since wearing them for a dominating 5-2 win over heavily favored Miami on April 18. That afternoon Jones went 7 2/3, struck out 11, and gave up two runs, just one earned.

Connor Jones Camo 4 18 15 UVa vs Miami

© The Baseball Bloggess

Camo-Clad Connor Jones pitching in that April 18 win over Miami.

Why the camouflage jerseys? “I thought they looked really cool,” Jones said this week.

(Fun Fact: The camouflage jerseys don’t really camouflage the guys. You can still see them.)

cojo interview

In this short interview, CoJo admits that 1) sometimes he doesn’t know who he is pitching to, he just throws, and 2) he’s a Red Sox fan. A Red Sox fan. How did that happen? The Red Sox could use a CoJo.

Since becoming the Friday Night “Connor Camo” Guy, Jones has started seven games and is 3-0 with a 2.09 ERA. The team is 6-1 in those games.

The University of Virginia Cavaliers face the Arkansas Razorbacks in the College World Series today, Saturday, June 13, at 3:00 p.m. Eastern.

What? You mean you’re not in Omaha? You won’t be at the game?

(Yeh, me neither.)

The game airs on ESPN.

uva game day cws

Photos: Davenport Field, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia © The Baseball Bloggess