Category Archives: Baseball

Red Sox Star Bobby Doerr’s Death At 99 Ends An Era

Hall-Of-Famer Bobby Doerr Who Died On Monday November 13 Was the Last Living Major Leaguer Who Played in the 1930s

Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, Ted Williams – 1963

Shades of 1946- Three stars of the last Red Sox American league championship team of 1946 (L-R)  Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky and Ted Williams are working together in the Red Sox 1963 training camp in Scottsdale, Arizona to bring the Red Sox back to the position where they will seriously challenge the Yankees again for the pennant. photo: Sporting News April 1963

When Bobby Doerr passed away at the age of 99 this week, he had been the last ballplayer to have played major league baseball in the 1930s. At the age of 19 Doerr debuted in the major leagues on April 20, 1937.

Think about that for a moment. That was over 80 years ago. Doerr played against Lou Gehrig, Mickey Cochrane, Rogers Hornsby, Goose Goslin, Ossie Bluege and Mule Haas.

Edde Stanky takes the throw as Bobby Doerr steals second base in the seventh inning of the 1947 All-Star game. Doerr later scored the winning run.

Doerr was a nine time all-star who had to retire prematurely at the age of 33 due to back problems. As great of a player Doerr was, he was an even better human being.

You get that assessment from the many people in and out of baseball who knew the man.

If  you love baseball and have never read David Halberstam’s book, The Teammates (Hyperion) 2003, you should. This will give you a sense of Bobby Doerr, the man.. Continue reading

Was Game 5 “Greatest World Series Game Ever?” Who Knows? The Game Ended At 1:40 A.M When Most Of The East Coast Was Fast Asleep

Was Game 5 Of The 2017 World Series The Greatest World Series Game Ever Played?

How Many Were Still Watching When The Game Ended At 1:40 am EST?

WORLD SERIES game 5 2017 1:39 A.M EST

I started watching game five of the World Series with the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday night.

It looked like it was going to be a great game. The Astros had overcome two deficits and at 11:30 pm the score was tied 7-7 and it was only the sixth inning.

But like most people on the east coast who had to get up for work in the morning, it was getting near time to turn in for the night.

Some  children might get a pass and be allowed to stay up til midnight, but not many, because there is school the next day. And the adults? As much as they want to watch, they know they have real life obligations that require not being exhausted the next morning.

Over 19 million people watched the game but viewership peaked between 11:45  – midnight EST. After that, a steady drop-off in viewers occurred as the game went on and on.

The winning run – game 5 2017 World Series

It did not surprise me that the game ended with a dramatic 13-12 Astros extra inning victory. What was surprising was that the game lasted until 1:40 in the morning. Total time of the game: five hours and seventeen minutes!

How many millions of people missed seeing this great game because of how long it lasted and its starting time? We’ll never know. All I know is that I did not see its conclusion, nor did any of my friends.

As I will continue to point out in story after story, Major League Baseball needs to get their priorities straightened out.

Is it more important to run nonsensical advertisements featuring children “you’re a bigger fan than me? Prove it.” to sell officially sanctioned MLB garbage? Or is it more important to have that target audience watching the games?

Why a Sunday World Series game was not played during the daytime is simply because FOX TV gets to dictate the start time and derive maximum advertising revenue. Money is more important than the future of the game. Continue reading

6 Ways Television Is Helping To Make Baseball Unwatchable

How Television Has Helped To Ruin Baseball

Watching the game from center field – the only way an entire generation of TV director’s have decided to televise baseball

Here are just a few of the ways television has helped to ruin watching baseball. None of the corrective suggestions will be heeded, but someone has to point it out.

1 – The camera angles

Guess what? About 80% of the time you’re not watching baseball. What you are seeing is four guys – a pitcher’s back, a catcher, a batter and an umpire.

What kind of a lead is the runner taking? Where are the outfielders shaded? Is the overused shift in effect? Where was that ball hit? Is it going to be a hit?

How would we know? The audience rarely sees any other part of the field except from the center field camera.

Unless you attend games in person and sit in center field with a high power telescope, this is not the way anyone views an entire baseball game. Nor should it be the way to televise one.

It would be nice to see the return of the overhead mezzanine high camera from behind the catcher so we can see the whole field.

So here are two angles from behind the plate – one high and wide the other not as high. Both of these camera angles are more conducive and infinitely superior to the view you see on most broadcasts.

2- The busy screen

I don’t know about most people but I want to watch a baseball game, not be diverted by ads and a constant scroll of information.

While not every channel is guilty of the news scroll on the bottom of the screen, your view is still cluttered with unnecessary information.

Watching the World Series there are no other scores or news to scroll on the screen so you won’t see the scroll there. Yet that doesn’t stop clutter.

Showing “Fox World Series Game 1” in the upper right hand portion of the screen for the ENTIRE game? Does the score, runners on base, balls and strikes, number of pitches, pitch speed and all other sorts of information need to be shown every second of the game?

Go watch a game from the 1980’s or earlier. How did people enjoy the first 40 years of baseball telecasts with just having the game and nothing else on the screen? Quite well.

Check out a random pre-1980 baseball broadcast on Youtube to see what I mean.

3 – The damn box superimposed around home plate

With the exception of a few local broadcast outlets, most networks televising baseball have adapted their own version of a strike zone box. And it’s getting to be de rigueur instead of a special feature.

This horrible innovation that began a few years ago is an artificial rectangular box on the TV screen surrounding home plate, that supposedly identifies the strike zone and differentiates strikes from balls. Unfortunately it is in the direct line of sight of the television viewer.

The worst part about it is you can’t ignore it. Continue reading

How Baseball Fans “Watched” The 1911 World Series

Before Radio Or Television If You Didn’t Have A Ticket To The World Series – You Could Still Watch It On The Play-O-Graph

Advertisement for the “wonderful Automatic Play-O-Graph” – Philadelphia Inquirer Oct. 13, 1911

In August, 1911 with $10,000 capital, John W. Baker, Henry H. Abbott and Sumner Ford incorporated the Baseball Play-O-Graph Company in Stamford, Connecticut. The men devised a way of transmitting the actions of sporting events “live” through telephone and telegraph.

The depiction of baseball games through mechanical means had been accomplished previously, but not showing the track of the ball, which was what made the Play-O-Graph unique. The Play-O-Graph would show the action without the aid of electric lights.

Baseball fans congregate outside the New York Herald Building during the 1911 World Series

In October of 1911 the American League champion Philadelphia Athletics lead by manager Connie Mack would play John McGraw’s New York Giants for the World Championship.

Giants manager John McGraw (l) and catcher Chief Myers (r) at Polo Grounds before 1911 World Series.

Giants manager John McGraw (l) and catcher Chief Myers (r) at Polo Grounds before 1911 World Series.

There were a couple of oddities in the 1911 World Series. Each game alternated cities with games one, three and five being played in New York and games two, four and six played in Philadelphia. The other strange occurrence was that there was a one week delay between games three and four as a deluge of rain hit Philadelphia for six straight days.

After inspecting the field for playability causing the fifth straight postponement of game four, umpire Bill Klem joked, “There was a pool around second base big enough for a diving exhibition by (swimming champ) Annette Kellerman. I was unable to locate the home plate for the lack of a diving apparatus. The outer gardens would make excellent pasturage for a herd of hippopotami.”

Both teams were considered evenly matched and felt confident they could win the series. Since 1904 each team had won three pennants.

Line outside the Polo Grounds at 7:00 am to buy tickets for game 3 of the 1911 World Series. photo: Bain

When tickets for the opening game of the World Series went on sale on Friday, October 13 at the Giants home field, the Polo Grounds all the tickets were gone within two hours. After the sell-out, the regular ticket price of three dollars shot up to five, six, seven and eventually eight dollars from speculators (scalpers) who had scooped up as many tickets as possible.

With over 38,000 fans cramming the ballpark it would be difficult to see the game without a ticket.

That would be where the Play-O-Graph would come into use. Setting up their machines at four locations in the United States, fans could see the game as it transpired.

“When the pitcher pitches the ball and when the batter hits it and when he is thrown out, is all shown upon the Play-O-Graph. Every move of the game is made clear to the spectator who watches the ball as it moves from place to place upon the board,” the company proclaimed.

The company installed two boards in New York, one in Chicago, one in Detroit and one in Philadelphia. Continue reading

The Night The Audio System Failed At Yankee Stadium

30  Minutes Of Baseball Bliss As The Audio System At Yankee Stadium Fails – September 14, 2017

9 14 17 Yankee Stadium audio difficulties signThey say if you go to a baseball game there’s always a chance you’ll see something you’ve never seen before.

But it’s not only what I had never seen before, but what I didn’t hear. What happened Thursday, September 14, 2017 during a Yankees – Orioles game was unusual.

For the first time in my life, I attended a major league baseball game and the national anthem was not played before the start of the game. No, it wasn’t the second game of a real doubleheader (remember those?)

Not only was the national anthem not played, no sound was heard in the ballpark except the cheers of the crowd, calls of the vendors and crack of the bat. Continue reading

Gene Michael Architect Of Late 90s Yankees Dynasty Dies at 79

Gene “Stick” Michael Was More Responsible For The Yankee Championship Teams In The Late 90s Than Anyone Else

Gene Michael awaits the throw to second base as Chicago White Sox shortstop Luis Aparicio makes his slide (1970).

Former Yankees shortstop, manager and general manager Gene Michael died today September 7, 2017 at the age of 79 of a heart attack at his home in Oldsmar, FL.

Michael was a slick fielding light hitting shortstop who played on Yankees teams from 1968 – 1974, that were a shadow of the former Yankee teams.  From 1921 -1964 the Yankees had appeared in 29 World Series, winning 20 of them.

If The New York Yankees futility of the late 1960s and early 1970s was epitomized by their second baseman Horace Clarke, then Gene Michael would unfairly be attached to that failure with his double play partner.  Horace Clarke, was a career .256 hitter and average fielder who hit a total of 27 home runs with the Yankees from 1965 – 1974. Because Clarke’s career coincided with that of Michael’s the two were paired together unfairly as the face of Yankee ineptitude.

But there was never any question that Gene Michael was a decent ballplayer and a great competitor.

The “Stick,” as the six foot two skinny shortstop was nicknamed, had baseball smarts and could execute the plays a lot better than an average player. That is what kept Michael on the team. A .229 lifetime average usually won’t ensure your spot on a major league roster unless you can hit thirty or more home runs a year. Yet Michael was valued by teammates and some fans as a hard-nosed, crafty ballplayer.

One thing that Michael did that you rarely see anymore was pull the “hidden ball trick.”Michael said he would only pull it if his pitcher was in trouble.

Michael would have the ball in his glove as the pitcher would be getting ready to pitch and Michael would sneak up on an unsuspecting runner as he began to take a lead off second base and apply the tag. It’s called a bush league play today. Completely unprofessional. I disagree. It showed smarts and initiative to pull it off and I question why it is not tried more often today. I once witnessed Michael do this in person and didn’t realize what had happened.

Michael was smart in other ways. In a May 25, 1973 game against the Texas Rangers Continue reading

6 Uncorrected Baseball Card Errors

Topps Made A Mistake

When you produce thousands of baseball cards over many decades you’re going to make some mistakes. Eagle-eyed baseball card collectors usually catch the errors. They would then write in to Topps baseball card company and sometimes the cards would get corrected.  Some mistakes were pretty obvious and could have been caught and corrected.

None of these were.

For a couple of these cards, if you are an old time baseball fan, you might recognize what the mistake is. For the others it takes a sharp eye. See if you can spot the mistake on each of these cards.

First our lead photo of the 1957 Topps Hank Aaron card. The mistake is not that his proper name is Henry, not Hank. Look closely.

Second, the 1969 Topps Larry Haney card. The Seattle Pilots lasted only one season before moving to Milwaukee and becoming the Brewers. Haney’s error is difficult to discern.

Third up is the 1959 Topps card of 1957 World Series pitching star, Lew Burdette. Lew looks pretty serious doesn’t he?

Fourth is the man who is probably better known for the surgery named after him rather than his pitching career. Tommy John won 288 games. This is his 1969 Topps card.

Claude Raymond’s 1966 Topps card poses him looking up at something. Should he really be looking up?

Before Billy Martin’s multiple managing stints with the Yankees, he was the manager of the Detroit Tigers and before that the Minnesota Twins. This is his 1972 Topps card.

So what are the errors that Topps didn’t catch and never bothered to correct?

The first card of Hank Aaron is probably the easiest error to spot. The print is reversed. Look at Aaron’s uniform number 44. Most people know the great slugger batted right handed, not left.

Next, you probably wouldn’t pay much attention to Larry Haney’s card. It shows the catcher posed ready to catch a ball.  Ardent students of the game know that almost no left handed catchers have ever played major league baseball. No, Haney is not the exception, once again, Topps reversed the negative. It is the same photo Topps used of Haney for his 1968 card except they got that one right.

With Lew Burdette’s card, one mistake is right in print and it is not a big deal. It is “Lew,” not “Lou.” But that is not the big error. Lew Burdette had a sense of humor. He asked his teammate and future Hall-of-Fame pitcher Warren Spahn if he could borrow his glove. That would be fine except that Spahn was a lefty and Burdette was a righty. Many children wrote to Topps in 1959 informing them of the “mistake.” Continue reading

Babe Ruth Buys Back His 700th Home Run Baseball

Babe Ruth Wanted His 700th Home Run Baseball Returned To Him, So He Bought It

What He Paid Might Surprise You

73 years ago on July 13, 1934, Babe Ruth walloped his 700th career home run.

The caption reads:

Babe Ruth Hits 700th Home Run

Babe Ruth hit his 700th home run of his Major League career on July 13 clouting one of Tommy Bridges offerings out of Navin Field, Detroit. The mighty Bambino is shown above with Leonard Beals, who received $20 from the Babe for retrieving the ball.  7-14-34 credit: Acme Photo

The ball went over the right field bleachers and out of the ballpark, landing on Plum Street among some automobiles parked across the street. It was estimated the ball traveled 500 feet,

When he connected, in the third inning, Babe immediately screamed out loud to Yankee third base coach Art Fletcher, “I want that ball! I want that ball! Bring whoever caught it around to the clubhouse and I’ll give him twenty dollars.”  The Yankees went on to win the game 4-2.

The Yankees sent out word to find the person who had retrieved the baseball. That turned out to be 17-year-old Lenny Beals (whose real name was Bielski). Bielski was taken into the ballpark to watch the rest of the game.

Interviewed in 1973 by the Detroit Free Press, Bielski told his version of that memorable day: Continue reading

I Want That Baseball! What Some People Would Do For A Foul Ball – 1947

You’ll Never See Fans Go For A Baseball Like This Again

God forbid someone was to try and climb the backstop screen at a baseball game today. If this situation seen here happened now, a potential climbee would be pulled down, arrested and barred from the stadium for life.

If no one from the ballpark interfered with you, you could fall, break some bones and then hire a lawyer and sue the team for not protecting you from yourself.

Seventy years ago this was obviously not the case.

The place is Shibe Park in Philadelphia, The date is September 7, 1947. The Philadelphia Athletics would sweep a Sunday doubleheader from the Boston Red Sox by scores of 7-4 and 4-3. Times of the games: 2:19 and 1:50.

But for part of one inning this mad dash for a foul ball was the entertainment for the 32,464 fans in attendance.

Amateur Aerialists Steal Baseball Show

Philadelphia, PA… When a high foul ball lodged in wire mesh screen behind the home plate in the 8th inning of the Boston-Philadelphia game at Shibe Park, these two boys stole the show from the diamond in their efforts to race for the ball as a souvenir. Neck-craning spectators may be seen in the lower foreground. A television camera is peeping through the screen on the center. The upper boy got to the ball and got back to terra firma safely, much to the relief of the crowd. 9-8-47 photo: Mike Freeman, International News

Continue reading

New York Yankees Old Timer’s Day Has Become Mediocre Ex-Yankee Day

Why The New York Yankees Old Timer’s Day Has Become A Joke

1955 Old Timer’s Day (l-r) Frank Home Run Baker, Ray Schalk, Dazzy Vance, Ted Lyons, Gabby Hartnett and Joe DiMaggio (photo: Acme)

Sunday June 25, 2017 the New York Yankees will hold their 71st Old TImer’s Day.

There was a time when baseball’s immortals and Gods showed up at Old Timer’s Day games. Take a look at this video below and you can understand my disappointment at what passes today for Yankees Old Timer’s Day. If  you have any sense of the history of baseball, this assemblage of players at Yankee Stadium taped on the field by Greg Peterson in 1982 will blow you away.

Maybe the disappointment stems from the fact that with a few exceptions there are almost no former Yankee players of the Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Lefty Gomez, Waite Hoyt; Allie Reynolds; Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra caliber still living. The pomp and ceremony of recent Yankees Old Timer’s Day is now somewhat revolting to watch.

Old-Timers Day started with a gathering unlike any other. In 1939 former Yankee teammates of Lou Gehrig gathered to honor him after he had stopped playing due to contracting the illness, (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) that would eventually take his life and now bears his name. It was at this occasion that Gehrig made his “luckiest man on the face of the earth,” speech.

Starting in the 1940s, Yankees Old Timer’s Day became an annual event where former baseball stars from other teams squared off against former Yankee greats. The players who graced the field at Yankee Stadium to play in a spirited and fun exhibition game were among the best to ever play the game. Over the years other teams held their own Old Timer’s Day. Now the Yankees are the only team in baseball that still holds an Old Timer’s Day .

At previous Old Timer’s Day fans would see opponents such as; Ty Cobb; Lefty Grove; Dizzy Dean; Al Kaline; Stan Musial; Ted Williams; Warren Spahn; Hank Greenberg; Bob Feller; Bill Terry; Pee Wee Reese; Duke Snider; Willie Mays and dozens of other “real” stars.

A collection of Hall Of Fame participants at the 1968 Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium (l-r) Red Ruffing; Bill Terry; Luke Appling; Bill Dickey; Joe Medwick; Frankie Frisch; Pie Traynor; Joe DiMaggio; Bob Feller and Lefty Grove.

As the Hall-of Famer’s and greats started passing away the names showing up at Old Timer’s Day gradually became less glamorous, until they started delving into quasi-stars and then marginal players.

I am not certain when exactly it ended, but the Yankees stopped inviting players from other teams to participate in Old Timer’s Day.

Over the last 15 years, you may have noticed Old Timer’s Day has become a Yankee love-fest of a few former stars such as Paul O’Neil, Roy White, Willie Randolph, Joe Pepitone and a lot of what can best be described as one season wonders or ordinary ex-Yankee players.

There are still some great former Yankee players who show up to participate in the festivities most notably Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson, Ron Guidry, Goose Gossage and this year a rare visit by Sparky Lyle.

Many of players the Yankees invite to Old Timer’s Day are nondescript. Yankee management must feel that today’s fans prefer seeing some of these “greats” that have participated in Old Timer’s Day over the last few years:

Brian Boehringer; Scott Bradley; Homer Bush; Bubba Crosby; Chad Curtis; Brian Dorsett;  Dave Eiland; John Flaherty; Bobby Meacham; Jerry Narron; Matt Nokes; Dan Pasqua; Gil Patterson; Andy Phillips; Aaron Small; Tanyon Sturtze; Marcus Thames and others of that ilk. Continue reading