Baseball behind barbed wire The year was 1944. A playoff series between two all-star baseball teams generated ample excitement. Gila River fought Heart Mountain in thirteen games to win the series. The players described it as exhilarating. But the players taking part in this all-American pastime did so in dire circumstances. Gila River and Heart Mountain were both Japanese incarceration camps (previously known as internment camps), and these athletes were among the tens of thousands of Japanese Americans imprisoned there.
Not everyone was delighted when Will Ferrell played 10 positions for 10 different teams (all field positions and base coach) in five games in one day last week in the Cactus League--in order to raise awareness and money for Stand Up to Cancer and Cancer for College--but honestly, most people were. [more inside]
This is where Norris has chosen to live while he tries to win a job in the Blue Jays' rotation: a broken down van parked under the blue fluorescent lights of a Wal-Mart in the Florida suburbs.
Is Charlie Brown the Worst Manager Ever? Without box scores, we can’t measure Brown based on Pythag, and without statistics, we can’t even try to measure the team’s performance against its WAR, as Adam Darowski once suggested. We don’t even have an idea of the league’s playing environment, given that we know less about Brown’s rivals than even his own team. (It would seem, based on the pitches he’s seen to swing through, that most pitchers can throw harder than the batters can handle.) We can only broadly guess at Brown’s skills or habits as a tactician based on what little we know. Please consider the following science inexact. (via SpoFi)
Curt Schilling's tweet congratulating his daughter on her college acceptance was met with the usual assortment of congratulatory replies from friends and fans, some light-heated "can't wait to date her" messages from current students at her future school, and a few seriously vile and offensive responses. The authors of the latter group probably regret their actions today.
If you didn’t know better, you wouldn’t believe it all happened in the space of about five weeks in the summer of 1978. But it did happen. In those five weeks, Bill Murray played professional baseball and established himself as a bona fide movie star and the Grays Harbor Loggers – representing the twin cities of Aberdeen and Hoquiam, Washington – posted the best winning percentage in America and won the Harbor’s only professional sports championship in living memory.
Jackie Robinson West Stripped of Its National Little League Title [New York Times]
An investigation revealed that the Chicago team, which captured the attention of the country last summer, had falsified boundaries to field ineligible players.[more inside]
Here's a list of baseball players who have stolen second, third and home in the same inning. [more inside]
"I am extremely grateful that Major League Baseball has always judged me on my work and nothing else"In a "very quiet and understated way", 29-year veteran MLB umpire Dale Scott has become the first active official in any of the major US sports to come out as gay.
MLB.com's StatCast dissects the World Series Game Seven double play seen as key to the San Francisco Giants win over the Kansas City Royals. [more inside]
The Economist examines the cult of the genius GM.
In sports, just like the rest of life, the rich keep getting richer. Anyone who saw or read Moneyball knows that the deck is stacked against small-market Major League Baseball (MLB) teams. Their only hope of competing, Michael Lewis’s story goes, is to acquire brilliant, innovative general managers (GMs) like his protagonist Billy Beane, who have mastered the “art of winning an unfair game” by outmaneuvering wealthier clubs. The problem with this narrative is that there is nothing to stop the sport’s plutocrats from hiring the finest minds money can buy, just as they sign the best athletes.The deep-pocketed Dodgers have lured away small market Tampa Bay's heralded GM Andrew Friedman to find out what happens when a man who consistently builds winners with one of the smallest revenue streams in the game can do with a payroll in excess of $200 million.
A surprisingly prescient cover of Royals, made back in March 2014. Today the parody is a timely paean to the boys in blue from Kansas City: they have won all three of their post-season games... their first since 1985.
Who's the hairiest team in baseball? The Washington Post weighted the style of facial hair, or lack thereof, of all active ballplayers on a scale of 0 to 8 — zero being clean shaven, eight being the grizzliest — then calculated the average hairiness of each team.
Lost treasures of Baseball -The Dauvray Cup -Shoeless Joe's Confession -The McGreevy Collection of Baseball pictures -Eddie Grant's plaque from the Polo Grounds -Bill Mazeroski's home run ball from the 1960 World Series -An eight-foot tall statue of Babe Ruth
Former Nippon Pro Baseball home-run king Takashi Yamasaki tries to hit a 186 mph (300 km/hour) fastball from a pitching machine. Skip to 3:29 for the fun part. (SLYT, Japanese)
Chicago's Jackie Robinson West Little League team just clinched the U.S. Championship in the Little League World Series, becoming the first all-African-American team to do so. They face the South Korean squad tomorrow. The team has attracted many prominent supporters, from Chicago and elsewhere.
This past Sunday, Philadelphia's Taney Dragons punched their ticket to the Little League World Series behind the complete game shutout pitching performance of Mo'Ne Davis, who at 13-years-old already throws a 70 MPH fastball. Davis will become only the 17th girl to play in the LLWS in 68 years. She has become an inspiration to others as she redefines what it means to "throw like a girl".
Baseball writer Rany Jazayerli tells us about his online acquaintance Sung Woo Lee, fan of the Kansas City Royals, who is having a good week. He's been a Royals fan since the 1990s and this week, he came to the US to see them play for the first time. KC rolled out the red carpet and the Royals are even winning. [more inside]
The Washington Post compares beers available at various ballparks, based on locality, quality and uniqueness.
The Hanwha Eagles, a much beleaguered South Korean major league baseball team have introduced Fanbots, jersey-clad robots who lead cheers, display messages (and selfies where the robot would otherwise have a blank screen) sent in from fans at home, and generally stand in for fans who aren't there. [more inside]
An Oral History of the 1989 Cleveland Indians. It was 1989, and no one knew that the usually predictable world of Major League Baseball was about to get as topsy turvy as it could. Here's the story of a plucky band of misfits, fighting against the entrenched baseball establishment, to obtain success in their efforts against their playing opponents, and an evil owner bent on relocation. [more inside]
"What was his weapon? Trust. Over and over again, he shook the hand of a parent and said, 'It's OK. I'll take care of them. I'll make her a better person.' Instead what he did was rob them of their innocence and change the scope of their lives."
SB Nation on Mel Hall - "a flamboyant baseball player, a charismatic coach, and a sexual predator."
SB Nation on Mel Hall - "a flamboyant baseball player, a charismatic coach, and a sexual predator."
For 20 years, he was the biggest name in youth baseball. His coaching popularized a new wave of analysis, while his instructional videos entranced a generation of professional players and fans. And those iconic TV commercials turned him into a pop-culture phenomenon. Then, as suddenly as he arrived, Tom Emanski was gone.
"If I had done this in either of New York's baseball stadiums I would have bankrupted myself by the sixth inning."
Lou Gehrig's farewell speech at Yankee Stadium on its 75th anniversary. It was immortalized by Gary Cooper in the 1942 film Pride of the Yankees, although the speech as delivered in the movie differed a little bit from the actual speech. The Historic Films Stock Footage Archive has this video of the speech on Youtube. Today, Major League Baseball pays tribute to Gehrig by putting together a video in which contemporary players recite the speech. (Video of this is embedded in the first link).
Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn has died at age 54. In his 20 years with the San Diego Padres, Gwynn racked up over 3,100 hits, a .338 career batting average--the 18th-best of all time--and eight batting title, the second-most in Major League history.
Vin Scully: voice of the Dodgers for 64 years "My idea is that I'm sitting next to the listener in the ballpark, and we're just watching the game," Scully says. "Sometimes, our conversation leaves the game. It might be a little bit about the weather we're enduring or enjoying. It might be personal relationships, which would involve a player. The game is just one long conversation and I'm anticipating that, and I will say things like ‘Did you know that?' or ‘You're probably wondering why.' I'm really just conversing rather than just doing play-by-play. I never thought of myself as having a style. I don't use key words. And the best thing I do? I shut up."
The 1974 Cleveland Indians baseball team "were a smorgasbord of mediocre and forgettable talent playing in an open-air mausoleum" where 85% of the seats at home games went unsold. So the Indians tried to drum up business with a "10-Cent Beer Night" promotion. What could possibly go wrong? The final tally, 40 years ago this evening: 25,134 fans in attendance. 60,000 Genesee beers at 10¢ each. 50 cops. 19 streakers. 7 emergency room injuries. 9 arrests. 2 bare moons. 2 bouncing breasts and 1 sportswriter, punched in the jaw. [more inside]
It's easy to explain why you love a conventionally excellent player, but way, way more fun to try and explain the appeal of a top-flight athlete whose every step and twitch appeared to be bringing him dangerously close to death itself. You had this guy, St. Louis, and he was awesome and everything, but every time he hit a triple he'd pop up and have the saddest look on his face like everything he loved had died, and left him with the soul of an ancient, sad, and immortal Golem. It was like watching Buster Keaton play centerfield, and he was like that every time he played.SB Nation Reviews: Willie McGee
Up Close on Baseball's Borders is a detailed, zoomable interactive map which uses data from Facebook to present the team preferences of baseball fandom in the United States. Around the end of March, Facebook had released a map using the same data which despite being touted as most accurate ever, had significant problems. The most notable of these issues was a colorshift introduced as the main graphic went viral, rendering the map illegible. [more inside]
That's right folks, Field of Dreams is 25 years old. W.P. Kinsella reflects on how his novel "Shoeless Joe" was adapted into the timeless baseball/father-son movie, including how he made peace with the studio changing the name of J.D. Salinger's character. [more inside]
Escape from Cuba: Yasiel Puig's Untold Journey to the Dodgers
For close to a year Puig had been trying to force an answer, to extract himself from Fidel Castro’s state-run sports machine, which paid him $17 a month, and sneak across the tropics to a mythical north, where even benchwarmers lived like kings. Two, three, four times, maybe more, he had risked everything and fled, only to be detained by the Cuban authorities or intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard—each failure making the next attempt more urgent. Finally, in June 2012, the 21-year-old outfielder left his home in Cienfuegos, on Cuba’s southern shore, and set off by car for the northern province of Matanzas, just 90 miles from Florida. He was traveling with three companions: a boxer, a pinup girl, and a Santeria priest, the latter of whom blessed their expedition with a splash of rum and a sprinkle of chicken blood.
45 years ago today at Montreal's Jarry Park, outfielder Mack "The Knife" Jones hit a 3-run homer and a 2-run triple to lead his Montreal Expos to an 8-7 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in the first Major League baseball game ever played outside the US (home opener coverage starts at 4:28 of the CBC video). [more inside]
It has been nearly fifteen years since a young sportswriter named Jeff Pearlman was given an assignment by Dick Friedman, the baseball editor at Sports Illustrated: write a piece about a soon-to-be 25-year-old Braves closer with a sinking 95 mph fastball and a wicked slider. The man's name was John Rocker. A sportswriter reflects upon the story that may have defined his career, if not the career of the man he covered.
Major league baseball is doing something dumb. They asked fans to nominate a player from their team to be THE FACE OF MLB, whatever that means. Yankees fans picked Derek Jeter. Angels fans picked Mike Trout. Oakland A's fans picked a 4-eyed utility infielder named Eric Sogard. And he's winning.
Peruse the Birmingham Public Library's collection of audio histories given by former Birmingham Black Barons players of the Negro Leagues. [more inside]
"The Cubs occasionally had human mascots, but, aside from managers' children, their tenures were short-lived. (An exception was the Fat Boy, Paul Dominick, who was given credit for a 21-game winning streak in 1935 and then left for Hollywood.) Instead, they seemed to prefer animals—who, it should be noted, did not demand salaries. The 1908 world champions had Bud, a Boston bull terrier puppy with an adorable curved tail, and a grotesque-looking fake polar bear. The 1913 team had a homicidal gamecock, named Tampa after their spring training home. (Tampa's mascotting career seems to have ended when he murdered another rooster.) In 1915, they had another dog, a terrier named Toy. But mostly they had live cubs."
Don't fight it. It's the year of the oral history. If there hasn't yet been an oral history on your favorite pop culture phenomenon, it won't be long. In the meantime, for your reading pleasure, how about starting with an oral history of Captain Marvel: The Series? Or perhaps you'd rather read about The Telluride Bluegrass Festival? If your taste runs more toward technology, check out an oral history of Apple design. More reading inside! [more inside]
Who better to document many old and lost baseball parks than a guy who played in them? Jerry Reuss, 220 game winner, thrower of a no hitter, broadcaster, man who played in 4 different decades (60s, 70s, 80s and 90s) did just that. [more inside]
Dan LeBatard of ESPN gave away his baseball Hall of Fame vote to Deadspin, and talking heads had a lot to say about it.
Kenny Shirley and Carlos Scheidegger of AT&T Labs have put together a fascinating tool to analyze voting patterns for the baseball Hall of Fame. This Deadspin post will help walk you through it. [more inside]
Roger Angell is the greatest of all baseball writers. Today, the game has recognized the fact. This July, along with Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, and Tony La Russa, Roger will be celebrated in Cooperstown, New York, the site of the Hall of Fame. He will receive the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, which has previously gone to the likes of Grantland Rice, Red Smith, Ring Lardner, and Damon Runyon. [more inside]
For over a year, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has been digitizing old photos from its far-reaching library and putting them on a Tumblr called The Digs. [more inside]
The Atlanta Braves have announced plan to move out of Atlanta to nearby Cobb County by 2017. The Marietta Daily Journal reports that a new $672 million stadium will be built just to the northwest of Atlanta. The announcement has left everyone "kind of stunned." [more inside]