Author Archives: Max

Roger Maris Hits His 59th Home Run September 20, 1961

55 Years Ago Today Roger Maris Hit His 59th Home Run Putting Him One Behind Babe Ruth

roger-maris-hits-home-run-number-59-september-20-1961In the pre-steroid era of baseball, Roger Maris had one magical season. Shown above, Maris connects for his 59th home run of the season on September 20, 1961.

Maris would hit 61 home runs during the 1961 season, breaking Babe Ruth’s record of 60.

Yet Maris’s accomplishment wasn’t considered an “official” record. That is because Ford Frick, the former sportswriter and then Commissioner of baseball, ruled that Maris had to beat Babe Ruth in the same number of games that the Babe was eligible to play in 1927, which was 154.

If Maris did not hit 60 by his 154th game the record would be denoted with an asterisk, indicating that Maris had more opportunities (163)  than Ruth did.

The news caption for this photo reads:

Baltimore, Sept 20 – Homer No. 59 For Maris – Roger Maris of the New York Yankees swings into the ball in the third inning tonight as he connects for his 59th home run of the season. The blow came against Baltimore Orioles pitcher Milt Pappas. If Maris can add one more during the game he will equal Babe Ruth’s  official 1927 record of 60 in 154 games. He has hit two homers in one game seven times this season. The ball is just a streak as it flies off the bat, right. (AP wirephoto)

It wasn’t until September 26 Continue reading

Jerome Avenue, The Bronx In 1914 and Today

Jerome Avenue In 1914 and 102 Years Later

bronx-jerome-avenue-from-clarke-place-looking-north-march-1914It was reported that since 2010 the Bronx is the fastest growing county in New York State.

Believe it or not, this bucolic scene shown above, from March 1914, is in the Bronx at Jerome Avenue looking north from Clarke Place.

I have not been able to identify the lone building on the left.  Besides some telephone and telegraph wires, Belgian block paved streets and trolley tracks, modernity had not yet touched most of the Bronx. The population according to the 1915 police census was 649,726.

In 1914 the Bronx was prosperous and living there was considered to be a sign of upward mobility.

Fast forward 102 years later. Below is the same street from about the same spot.

bronx-jerome-avenue-from-clarke-place-looking-north-200-photo-google-mapsJerome Avenue was transformed by the construction of the El in 1917 and 1918, darkening the street, but fostering a building boom. Continue reading

Ted Williams At The All-Star Game

Ted Williams In Action At The 1946 & 1947 All-Star Games

Ted Williams hitting a home run off of Rip Sewell's blooper pitch in the 1946 All-Star game

Ted Williams hitting a home run off of Rip Sewell’s blooper pitch in the 1946 All-Star game

One of the most famous moments in the history of baseball’s All Star game occurred when Ted Williams connected for a long home run on a Rip Sewell eephus or blooper pitch in the July 9, 1946 game held at Boston’s Fenway Park. The eighth inning homer came with the American League holding an 8-0 lead. The home run definitely put a charge into the bored crowd. The game ended up being a 12-0 American League blowout over the National League.

Rip Sewell said it was the only time anyone ever hit a home run off of his high arc, super slow blooper pitch. What many people do not know is that Williams fouled off the first eephus pitch Sewell threw. Williams challenged Sewell to throw the pitch again, which he did. Below is Sewell describing the homer and film footage of the famous clout.

In 1947 Ted Williams started again in left field for the American League All-Star team and went two for four in an A.L. 2-1 victory. Continue reading

Coney Island on July 4 in the 1930s

2 Historic Photos Show the Enduring Popularity of Coney Island

This is what Coney Island looked like in the 1930s:

Coney Island July 4, 1934

Coney Island July 4, 1934

Million Turn Out At Coney Island

Here’s part of the 1,000,000 New Yorkers who visited Coney Island, a summer resort, on July 4 to get away from the heat of the city, as they disported on the beach, many of them shirtless. Credit line: Acme -7/4/34

Many of them shirtless, imagine that! Don’t you love the old news captions?

While Coney Island doesn’t get a million visitors a day any more, it still gets crowded during summertime. One thing you might notice: there are probably lifeguards present in their high perch chairs to watch over the throngs of swimmers, but I cannot see any in this photograph.

Below – Coney Island Beach three years later in 1937. Continue reading

Five Old and Weird News Stories

It’s In The Newspaper So I Guess It’s True

NY Tribune BannerheadHere are five brief, old and weird news stories that appeared in the New York newspapers over a hundred years ago. In many cases I wish there was a follow-up on the story. In most cases there was not. Truth is almost always stranger than fiction.

Kiss May Cause Her Death

Pittsburg, June 27 – In her anxiety to kiss her husband farewell at the Charleroi station, Mrs. Marie Antonio, of California, neglected to take the car window into account to-day and thrust her head through the glass. She is not expected to survive her injuries. –  New York Tribune – June 28, 1909 page 3

David’s Whistle Never Dry
Boy Only Stops When He Sleeps, And Then He Sings, So Now He is In the Insane Pavilion.

David Dunn’s whistle has landed him in the Pavilion for the Insane at Bellevue at last. Now the neighbors at 550 West Forty-forth Street, where the boy lives, and 610 Ninth Avenue, two blocks to the eastward where his sister lives, sleep once more in peace.

David is fourteen years old and small for his age. According to William C. McGirr, the sister’s husband, his whistle has been going almost without a break, day and night for a week. Arguments and persuasion were met only with selections from popular airs, and while David whistled he looked viciously at McGirr;s four little children. On Wednesday night McGirr took him to the West Forty-seventh Street Police Station, where they locked him up , but only for a little while, for he still whistled. The police sent him then to the rooms of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, where he whistled all night. Yesterday morning they took him to the Children’s Court and he whistled as he stood in line with the rest of the juvenile prisoners. Justice Wyatt upset the order of the cases to send him away just as quickly as McGirr could tell his story.

At the hospital he answered the routine queries with short shrill blats between his puckered lips. He whistled through his bath and once broke form the attendants and ran around the room, still whistling. The folks there wonder how they are going to stand during the week that they will have to keep him for observation. Sometimes his puckered lips relax while he is sleeping, Mr. McGirr said, but during these intervals he generally sings. – New York Times – January 23, 1903 Continue reading

One of The Most Timeless Political Cartoons Ever

An Appropriate Political Cartoon From 2016?

National Bird of Prey Cartoon 1905 Puck MagazineThe more things change the more they remain the same.

puck bannerThis great political cartoon ran in 1905 on the cover of the satirical Puck Magazine. The cartoon showing The National Bird of Prey “Corporate Vulture” feeding her young “dough” is as appropriate in 2016 as it was in 1905 . The hatchlings being fed in a nest lined with money are labeled “Our” Senators; “Our” Legislatures and “Our” Judges. Is the “Our” in quotes referring to the citizens who have been robbed of representative power or a sarcastic wink to the fact that “Our” government belongs to the corporations? With either interpretation it is a potent statement that still rings true today.

The only thing missing is Continue reading

Bob Feller Signs His Final Contract – 1956

60 Years Ago Today Bob Feller Signs His Final Playing Contract

Indians pitcher Bob Feller (l) and catcher Jim Hegan (r) sit between GM Hank Greenberg as they sign their 1956 contracts - February 9, 1956

Indians pitcher Bob Feller (l) and catcher Jim Hegan (r) sit between GM Hank Greenberg as they sign their 1956 contracts – February 9, 1956

Bob Feller was one of the greatest pitchers in baseball; certainly many of his contemporaries thought so like Ted Williams who said that Feller was the fastest and best pitcher he ever faced. Feller’s career record of winning 266 games while losing just 162 was just one facet of his dominance. His blazing fastball helped him earn 44 shutouts, throw three no-hitters and 12 one-hitters.

Feller became the first American professional athlete to enlist in World War II by volunteering Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #59

Looking West Towards Sixth Avenue On 42nd Street – 1890s

42nd St looking west from Fifth Ave Dr. Parkhursts Church Horse Trolley 1889 ph HN TiemannWe are looking west along 42nd Street towards Sixth Avenue in a photograph taken sometime during the last decade of the 19th century.

A cropped version of this photograph appeared in the must own book New York Then & Now 83 Matching Photographic Views from 1864-1938 and from the 1970s by Edward B. Watson and Edmund V. Gillon (Dover) 1976.

42nd St looking west from Fifth Ave close up photo HN Tiemann

close-up of trolley

When published in the book the date was given as 1900, but on the original photograph (seen above) taken by the firm of H.N. Tiemann, the caption says 1889 and lists the church as Dr. Parkhurst’s. This is definitely incorrect as Parkhurst was presiding at the Madison Square Presbyterian Church. The building next door, the Spalding Building was not constructed until around 1890, so there is doubt as to the true date of the scene.

Rapid transit is on display in the form of a couple of horse drawn trolleys and the Sixth Avenue Elevated’s 42nd Street station in the background.

West Presbyterian Church 1897 photo Byron & Co via MCNY

West Presbyterian Church 1897 photo Byron & Co via MCNY

On the north side of the street is the West Presbyterian Church (built 1862, demolished 1911) Continue reading

The Domed Stadium That Would Have Kept The Dodgers In Brooklyn

The Unbuilt Brooklyn Dodgers Domed Baseball Stadium – 1956

Model of the proposed domed all-weather sports stadium planned to house the Brooklyn Dodgers is unveiled at the Dodger offices. photo Bob Laird February 6 1956

Model of the proposed domed all-weather sports stadium planned to house the Brooklyn Dodgers is unveiled at the Dodger offices. photo Bob Laird February 6 1956

There are many “might have been’s” in baseball. One of the greatest has always been what if the Dodgers never left Brooklyn?

This photograph of what looks more like a kiddy pool with a baseball diamond in it, is a low-tech model of the proposed all-weather baseball stadium the Brooklyn Dodgers wanted to build. The Dodgers proposal was made ten years before the Houston Astrodome, the world’s first domed sports stadium made its debut in 1965.

For years before they moved to Los Angeles in 1958, Walter O’Malley, the Dodgers owner, had complained about the functionality of Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. The ballpark had character, but  O’Malley considered it old and too small with only 32,111 seats and parking for 700 cars.

In 1955, O’Malley enlisted architect R. Buckminster Fuller to design a domed stadium to possibly replace Ebbets Field. The stadium would be in the form of a large bowl and seat approximately 55,000 people. Over the stadium, supported on a light-weight aluminum truss structure, would be a thin plastic dome 750 feet in diameter. The dome would be 300 feet high at its center and it would weigh only 500 tons. Up to that time the largest dome ever built was the 365 foot diameter Dome of Discovery at the Festival of Britain in 1951. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #57

Aerial View of Lower Manhattan – Late 1920s

Lower Manhattan from airplane looking south 1934In this aerial view looking south upon lower Manhattan in the late 1920s, the first thing you notice is the concentration of skyscrapers in lower Manhattan contrasted to the low profile tenements in the foreground that make up part of the lower east side.

There are also an abundance of piers along the East River, most of which have now vanished. Looking at the harbor, a large number of boats are active in the bay and on the Hudson River. Continue reading