Author Archives: B.P.

The Type Of Qualities We Once Looked For In American Politics

Vanished Qualities And Standards In Filling A Political Office

When the president gets to choose a vacancy for a governmental office, shouldn’t the criteria used to fill that position sound something like this:

“In my nominations of persons to fill offices in the Judicial department I have been guided by the importance of the object. Considering it as of the first magnitude and as the pillar on which our political fabric must rest I have endeavored to bring into the high offices of its administration such character as will give stability and dignity to our National Government and I persuade myself they will discover a due desire to promote the happiness of our country by a ready acceptance of their several appointments.”

How eloquent.

Who said those poignant words? Continue reading

Players Who Could Wallop A Baseball & Rarely Struck Out

Sluggers With Discriminating Eyes

Players With 25 or More Home Runs In A Season & Fewer Strikeouts Than Home Runs

Johnny Mize hit the most home runs in a season, having more homers (51) than strikeouts (42)

As baseball commentators rave about all the power hitters with their prodigious home run numbers, few broadcasters and writers will allude to the obscene strikeout totals put up by these same power hitters.

Not that most players are capable of hitting a lot of home runs and avoiding striking out, but the great players of the past could.

This list from baseball-reference.com shows the top 37 players with more home runs than strikeouts in a season. Any number in bold means the player led the league in that category.

Rk Player HR SO Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B RBI BB BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Johnny Mize 51 42 1947 34 NYG 154 664 586 137 177 26 2 138 74 .302 .384 .614 .998 *3
2 Ted Kluszewski 49 35 1954 29 CIN 149 659 573 104 187 28 3 141 78 .326 .407 .642 1.049 *3
3 Lou Gehrig 49 46 1936 33 NYY 155 719 579 167 205 37 7 152 130 .354 .478 .696 1.174 *3
4 Lou Gehrig 49 31 1934 31 NYY 154 690 579 128 210 40 6 165 109 .363 .465 .706 1.172 *3/6
5 Ted Kluszewski 47 40 1955 30 CIN 153 686 612 116 192 25 0 113 66 .314 .382 .585 .967 *3
6 Joe DiMaggio 46 37 1937 22 NYY 151 692 621 151 215 35 15 167 64 .346 .412 .673 1.085 *8
7 Barry Bonds 45 41 2004 39 SFG 147 617 373 129 135 27 3 101 232 .362 .609 .812 1.422 *7/D
8 Mel Ott 42 38 1929 20 NYG 150 674 545 138 179 37 2 151 113 .328 .449 .635 1.084 *9/4
9 Ted Kluszewski 40 34 1953 28 CIN 149 629 570 97 180 25 0 108 55 .316 .380 .570 .950 *3
10 Johnny Mize 40 37 1948 35 NYG 152 658 560 110 162 26 4 125 94 .289 .395 .564 .959 *3
11 Joe DiMaggio 39 30 1948 33 NYY 153 669 594 110 190 26 11 155 67 .320 .396 .598 .994 *8
12 Stan Musial 39 34 1948 27 STL 155 694 611 135 230 46 18 131 79 .376 .450 .702 1.152 987/3
13 Ken Williams 39 31 1922 32 SLB 153 678 585 128 194 34 11 155 74 .332 .413 .627 1.040 *78
14 Ted Williams 37 27 1941 22 BOS 143 606 456 135 185 33 3 120 147 .406 .553 .735 1.287 *7/9
15 Andy Pafko 36 32 1950 29 CHC 146 595 514 95 156 24 8 92 69 .304 .397 .591 .989 *8/9
16 Willard Marshall 36 30 1947 26 NYG 155 656 587 102 171 19 6 107 67 .291 .366 .528 .894 *9
17 Al Simmons 36 34 1930 28 PHA 138 611 554 152 211 41 16 165 39 .381 .423 .708 1.130 *7/8
18 Ted Kluszewski 35 31 1956 31 CIN 138 574 517 91 156 14 1 102 49 .302 .362 .536 .898 *3
19 Joe DiMaggio 32 21 1938 23 NYY 145 660 599 129 194 32 13 140 59 .324 .386 .581 .967 *8
20 Lefty O’Doul 32 19 1929 32 PHI 154 731 638 152 254 35 6 122 76 .398 .465 .622 1.087 *79
21 Joe DiMaggio 31 30 1940 25 NYY 132 572 508 93 179 28 9 133 61 .352 .425 .626 1.051 *8
22 Yogi Berra 30 29 1956 31 NYY 140 597 521 93 155 29 2 105 65 .298 .378 .534 .911 *2/7
23 Yogi Berra 30 24 1952 27 NYY 142 605 534 97 146 17 1 98 66 .273 .358 .478 .835 *2
24 Joe DiMaggio 30 13 1941 26 NYY 139 621 541 122 193 43 11 125 76 .357 .440 .643 1.083 *8
25 Joe DiMaggio 30 20 1939 24 NYY 120 524 462 108 176 32 6 126 52 .381 .448 .671 1.119 *8
26 Bill Dickey 29 22 1937 30 NYY 140 608 530 87 176 35 2 133 73 .332 .417 .570 .987 *2
27 Ted Williams 28 24 1955 36 BOS 98 417 320 77 114 21 3 83 91 .356 .496 .703 1.200 *7
28 Yogi Berra 28 12 1950 25 NYY 151 656 597 116 192 30 6 124 55 .322 .383 .533 .915 *2
29 Ted Williams 28 21 1950 31 BOS 89 416 334 82 106 24 1 97 82 .317 .452 .647 1.099 *7
30 Tommy Holmes 28 9 1945 28 BSN 154 713 636 125 224 47 6 117 70 .352 .420 .577 .997 *97/8
31 Bill Terry 28 23 1932 33 NYG 154 677 643 124 225 42 11 117 32 .350 .382 .580 .962 *3
32 Yogi Berra 27 20 1955 30 NYY 147 615 541 84 147 20 3 108 60 .272 .349 .470 .819 *2
33 Yogi Berra 27 20 1951 26 NYY 141 594 547 92 161 19 4 88 44 .294 .350 .492 .842 *2
34 Bill Dickey 27 22 1938 31 NYY 132 532 454 84 142 27 4 115 75 .313 .412 .568 .981 *2
35 Johnny Mize 25 24 1950 37 NYY 90 305 274 43 76 12 0 72 29 .277 .351 .595 .946 *3
36 Joe DiMaggio 25 24 1946 31 NYY 132 567 503 81 146 20 8 95 59 .290 .367 .511 .878 *8/7
37 Ken Williams 25 14 1925 35 SLB 102 462 411 83 136 31 5 105 37 .331 .390 .613 1.003 *7

It’s a rarity today to find players with a great batting eye and good power like, Joey Votto. Continue reading

5 Things You Didn’t Know About New York History

Things You Didn’t Know About Divorce, Statues and Rapid Transit In New York City

Washington statue Union Square unveiled in 1856, an 80 year gap between public statues in New York City

Under English rule there was never a divorce in New York until 1787

When the Dutch founded New Amsterdam they allowed divorce but it was a rare occurrence. The English captured New Amsterdam in 1664  and after a brief retaking of the city by the Dutch in 1673, the English took permanent possession of the colony of New York until the Revolution. Over the next 100 years there was no divorce in New York.

Isaac Governeur became the first New Yorker granted a divorce in 1787. Up until then there had been no legal way of separating from your spouse. Alexander Hamilton created the law that allowed divorce in New York. The sole basis for being granted a divorce was adultery. Those who were desperate enough, went to another state that did allow divorce for other reasons. Incredibly, until 1966, adultery remained the only grounds for getting a divorce in New York.

The first successful manned flight in New York took place in 1819

A Frenchman, Charles Guillé who had made many successful balloon ascensions in France arrived in the United States in the summer of 1819. Continue reading

This Is The Only Color Film Footage Of Clara Bow The “It” Girl (And What Exactly Is “It”?)

Clara Bow The “It” Girl Made Only One Film In Color, and This One Minute Fragment Is All That That Survives

(And What Exactly is “It”)

Most movie fans never saw Clara Bow’s beautiful red hair except when illustrated on magazine covers. All but one of her films was made in black and white. Her red hair and Brooklyn childhood earned her, her original nickname “The Brooklyn Bonfire.”

So seeing the primitive color film clip below is a pleasant treat for classic movie fans.

With the exception of one film, Red Hair” which is now considered lost, this one minute fragment is all that survives of Clara Bow filmed in color.

If the last minute of Red Hair could be found we would see Clara Bow in as little clothing as the censors would allow.

So what exactly is “It”? Writer Elinor Glin wrote a magazine article called “It.” and a movie soon followed in 1927 starring Clara Bow. The sobriquet The “It Girl” was immediately and permanently attached to Clara Bow.

“Either you have “It” or you don’t have” It.”  “It” is sex appeal definitely, but much more than that.

In a 1927 interview, writer Glyn said you must have ALL of the following qualities: Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #85 – 42nd Street From The 3rd Avenue Elevated 1887

42nd Street Looking West From 3rd Avenue Towards Grand Central 1887

This albumen photograph was taken in 1887 by Willis Knowlton who had his studio at 335 Fourth Avenue.

Knowlton set up his camera from the 42nd Street station of the Third Avenue Elevated looking west towards Grand Central Station. If you’re thinking, “wait a minute, why are there elevated tracks running west towards Grand Central?” The answer is, this connecting spur was in place between 1878 and 1923, taking commuters to and from Grand Central directly to the Third Avenue El. As practical as the connection was for the 15,000 daily riders still using it in 1923, the city’s Board of Estimate ordered its removal in October of that year. The IRT complied and the spur was closed at midnight December 6, 1923 and the tracks and station were demolished soon afterwards.

A little about the buildings seen in this photograph. Running along the northern (right) portion of 42nd Street at 145-147 East 42nd Continue reading

In 2017 Aaron Judge Broke Another Record That No One Talks About

In 2017 Aaron Judge Became The New Single Season Strikeout King

When Aaron Judge makes contact with a baseball it can be an breathtaking sight. His home runs are the definition of tape measure shots, some balls traveling 500 feet or more. Not since Mickey Mantle has a ballplayer hit such long distance bombs with such regularity.

When Aaron Judge doesn’t make contact, the big swing breeze he creates can cool off fans in the first ten rows near the dugouts. And Judge’s propensity for striking out in 2017 was prodigious.

Last season Judge struck out 236 times, 208 strikeouts in the regular season and 28 times in the postseason establishing a new major league record for most total strikeouts in a season. No news outlet bothered to point this out.

Granted, Judge’s strikeout record gets an asterisk because of his postseason participation. Continue reading

Old New York In Postcards #18 – Bridges

Some Unusual and Rare Postcard Views of New York City Bridges

An unusual circa 1900 postcard view of the Brooklyn Bridge promenade with elegantly attired ladies

We don’t think too much about New York City’s bridges except when driving across them. Then you want to know if they are free from traffic, tolls and potholes.

Besides being civic utilitarian objects, on occasion they be considered architectural masterpieces like the Brooklyn Bridge and George Washington Bridge.

But many of the old bridges crossing New York waterways had great thought put into their design. Unfortunately unless you are stuck in traffic or you bicycle or walk over them, you probably would not take the time to notice the turrets, iron flourishes and fine details that decorate and beautify most of New York City’s early bridges.

Let’s take a look at some 100+ year old bridge postcards and sprinkle in some interesting facts and stories.

Williamsburg Bridge at 6 pm 1906

The Williamsburg Bridge’s tower can be glimpsed in the background, but what makes this view interesting is its vantage point on Delancey Street. While not dated, the postcard has the printing year of 1906 and the time as 6:00 pm. Hundreds of Brooklynites make their way to the bridge to walk or take a trolley or elevated train back home.

If the Williamsburg Bridge seems crowded that’s because it is. In 1906 an estimated 1,191,000 pedestrians; 3,548,900 passengers and drivers of vehicles; 51 million surface car (trolley) passengers; 56 million elevated car passengers; and exactly 1,149,543 vehicles and 33,375 horses led by hand, crossed the bridge.

The Williamsburg Bridge was opened on December 19, 1903. The cost of the construction of the bridge with the land was $23,277,560.

Manhattan Bridge at night circa 1910

It is a snowy night and and the roads leading onto the Manhattan Bridge have a light coating of ice, snow and slush on them. The scene is brilliantly lit and there are vehicles or pedestrians in the scene. The Manhattan Bridge was opened for vehicular traffic December 31, 1909 and opened for pedestrian travel July 18, 1910. Including the land, the bridge cost $24,105,200.

Tolls were eliminated on the Williamsburg, Manhattan, Queensboro and Brooklyn Bridge on July 19, 1911 by order of Mayor Gaynor.

High Bridge is the oldest extant bridge in New York. Designed by John B. Jervis and completed in 1848 the bridge cost $963,428. The pedestrian bridge originally contained two three foot pipes which brought New York City fresh water from the Croton River, 41 miles away. The amount of water these pipes could carry was found to be inadequate within a dozen years. The side walls of the bridge were expanded and between 1860 -1864 a seven foot diameter water pipe was laid on top of the original two pipes.

The bridge was modeled after ancient Roman aqueducts, High Bridge’s 15 stone arches graced the river until the early 20th century. During World War I the bridge was declared a menace to navigation. Two proposals were put forward in 1918 to either remove two arches and replace that section with a steel span or entirely demolish the bridge at a cost of $150,000. Continue reading

7 Untrue Historical “Facts”

The Mayflower Brought Over The First English Colonists and Six Other Untrue Historical Facts

The first English settlement in 1607 by George Popham, Fort George. (photo from the archive Simancas Spain – courtesy Maine’s First Ship)

On the internet you can absorb a lot of “facts” that are completely inaccurate. A skeptical reader should ask where is the information coming from? What is the source?

Unfortunately many mistaken or untrue beliefs, facts and quotations were originally put down in printed books. Sometimes there was shoddy research involved, other times hearsay was used as evidence and other times outright fabrications were entered as fact. Over time, some false facts have been repeated to the point where they become sources of truth.

That is why if you take the time you can discover some entertaining books out there that delve into history and provide context to factual events. These are books written not to provide revisionist history, but corrected history based upon thorough research end evidence.

Tom Burnham’s The Dictionary of Misinformation (1975) Thomas Y. Crowell Company is just such a book.

Burnham researched hundreds of stories, quotations and facts to compile a “dictionary” of reference, rumination and pure delight based upon “misinformation, misbelief, misconstruction and misquotation.”

Here are seven untrue historical facts that we found interesting:

Henry Ford created and introduced the assembly line in automobile factories
In 1902, Ransom E. Olds of the Olds Motor Vehicle Company produced 2,500 cars using an assembly line method. Wooden platforms on casters passed between lines of workmen who added parts until the car was completed. The previous year Olds built just over 400 cars.

Henry Ford improved upon the idea using a conveyor belt system, which brought various parts to the production line. Ford’s innovation cut the time to produce a Model T down from a day and a half to 93 minutes.

The First English colonists ventured to New England in 1620 aboard the Mayflower- 
In 1607, under the leadership of George Popham, 120 persons established a colony at what is now the mouth of the Kennebec River in Maine. The colonists built a fort, houses, a stockade, and a storehouse.

Harsh circumstances abounded: an alliance with local Indians soon fell apart.  An Indian attack on the colonists caused thirteen deaths.  The site of the small settlement was exposed to brutal winter winds and a particularly severe early winter set in, resulting in food supplies giving out.

The colony’s sponsor in England passed away, and George Popham died on February 5, 1608. When a supply ship finally arrived the following June, the remaining colonists abandoned the settlement and returned to England.

Revolutionary patriot Nathan Hale’s dying words were:  “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” –
School teacher Nathan Hale was hung by the British in New York City for being a spy on September 22, 1776. American General William Hull claimed to have heard about Hale’s last words from a British soldier who witnessed the hanging. Hull’s daughter immortalized Hale’s words in 1848 when she published her father’s memoirs.

But an eyewitness account from British officer Frederick Mackensie, is what we might call on the spot reporting. Mackensie wrote the following in his diary:

“He (Hale) behaved with great composure and resolution, saying he thought it the duty of every good Officer to obey any orders given him by his Commander-in-Chief; and desired the Spectators to be at all times prepared to meet death in whatever shape it might appear.” Continue reading

Sweet – The Most Underrated Band Of The 70s, Releases Their Final Hit, Love Is Like Oxygen, 40 Years Ago

Sweet – The 1970s Band That Should Have Been As Big As Anyone.  They Released Their Final Hit In January 1978 – Love Is Like Oxygen

A Story of Sweet Success And Missed Opportunities

Sweet in their glam band outfits circa 1973. From l-r Brian Connolly, Steve Priest, Andy Scott and drummer Mick Tucker holding guitar.

If you were to name a rock band that should have had long-lasting, international success and made a major musical impact but didn’t, one of the top contenders would have to be Sweet.

In the pantheon of great rock bands, Sweet has been forgotten.

There are many reasons for this amnesiac neglect. Possibly the reasons add up like this: a series of bad breaks; not being taken seriously by a dismissive, indifferent critical press; an insufficient amount of American touring and radio exposure; and unsure musical direction. But certainly not because of a lack of producing great rock music.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Sweet’s final hit Love Is Like Oxygen which was released  in January 1978. We’ll discuss the song at the end of this article, but here is an abbreviated version from the TV program Top of The Pops.

A very similar band from the same time, Queen, became, a juggernaut, filling arenas and stadiums, having tens of millions of album sales and critical acclaim – all things Sweet seemed destined to achieve, but didn’t.

And if you don’t think Queen was heavily influenced by Sweet, then maybe you should have a listen.

Despite over 35 million album sales and moderate touring success around Europe, Sweet never lived up to their potential. With the exception of a handful of songs, Sweet was rarely played on American radio, hampering whatever breakthrough success they deserved.

Today, younger listeners unfamiliar with Sweet during their heyday, will rarely be able to name the band when they hear them. They recognize the songs, but often mistake the band’s music for that of E.L.O., the Bee Gees, Queen or some other band.

In the 1970s, Sweet, an English glam pop band, morphed into a serious hard rock band with a long list of hits in the United States and England. Originally they recorded songs written by others, primarily their managers and main songwriters Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn.

But Sweet was more than just a Three Dog Night, Grass Roots or Monkees sort of band. Those bands could barely get by playing an instrument live and never or rarely wrote any of their own songs.

Sweet’s bass player Steve Priest, drummer Mick Tucker, guitarist Andy Scott and lead vocalist Brian Connolly were all accomplished musicians who could write and play their own music and do it damn well.

What made Sweet stand out was their vocal harmonies.

Frequently featured on the weekly British music show Top of the Pops, Sweet would, as the custom was at the time, go on stage and lip synch what they had done on record. Their disdain for lip synching was apparent and they would often make a mockery of their own performances.

Their early “hits,” all written by Chapman and Chinn, were simple but immensely catchy ditties, in the genre known as “bubblegum rock.” Innocent lyrics with just a bit of double entendre intended for a teen audience.

Blockbuster, Wig Wam Bam, Funny Funny, and the American crossover hit Little Willy were just a few of their early chart successes. These were followed by more hits Hell Raiser, No You Don’t, AC-DC, Turn It Down and Sweet’s most famous song The Ballroom Blitz. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #84 – West End Avenue 60th Street 1927 & Now

How West End Avenue & 60th Street Has Changed Over The Last 90 Years

One word describes this transformation – drastic.

Judge for yourself.

Our first photograph looking north and west on West End Avenue from 60th Street was taken by Percy Sperr on May 20, 1927. Sperr photographed the city endlessly during the 1920s and 1930s and preserved many views of common scenes and places that other photographers would rarely chronicle.

The Belgian block paved street and rail tracks that line West End Avenue from 60th Street stretch as far as the eye can see. Continue reading