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]
"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]
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]
Miguel Cabrera has won the Triple Crown. The list of Triple Crown winners is quite short (considering that Major League Baseball is 136 years old). [more inside]
"I'm just looking for a second chance. Other people get second chances. Alcoholics. Drug addicts. Spousal beaters. Not gamblers, though. But, if you want to put something on my tombstone that was very important to me, it’s 1,972. That’s how many winning games I’ve played in. So that makes me the biggest winner in the history of sports. No one else can say that." Here, Now is a short documentary that looks at baseball legend Pete Rose, as he lives his life today. [more inside]
The Eephus League presents: a web magazine about baseball.
Fenway Park, in Boston, is a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark. Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus, like the inside of an old-fashioned peeping-type Easter egg. It was built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1934, and offers, as do most Boston artifacts, a compromise between Man's Euclidean determinations and Nature's beguiling irregularities. So wrote John Updike in his moving tribute to Red Sox legend Ted Williams -- an appropriately pedigreed account for this oldest and most fabled of ballfields that saw its first major league game played one century ago today. As a team in flux hopes to recapture the magic with an old-school face-off against the New York
Highlanders Yankees, it's hard to imagine the soul of the Sox faced the specter of demolition not too long ago. Now legally preserved, in a sport crowded with corporate-branded superdome behemoths, Fenway abides, bursting with history, idiosyncrasy, record crowds, and occasional song. [more inside]
"The time has passed when the public will any longer swallow the palpable falsehood that a home run is no better than a scratch single." (PDF) Before Brad Pitt; before Michael Lewis, before Billy Beane; before Bill James; and long, long, before the Society for American Baseball Research, there was F.C. Lane. [more inside]
Fun While It Lasted is a blog that details the histories of long-dead sports franchises, including the Hawaii Leis/Sea-Port Cascades/Seattle Cascades, the Portland Lumberjax, the Columbus Minks, the Denver Comets, and the Phoenix Fire -- a professional soccer team that never actually played a game. [more inside]
Every Hall of Famer is a blog where Summer Anne Burton is drawing pictures of all 295 members of the baseball Hall of Fame. She started in January and plans to finish by the end of the year. Here's an interview with her about the project. The drawings include telling bits of information and cool quotes. It's a fun way to learn about baseball history. Here are three of my favorites so far: Charles Radbourne, Dan Brouthers and Grover Cleveland Alexander.
Mamie "Peanut" Johnson is one of three women to play in the Negro Leagues, and as of yet, the only woman to pitch at the major level in the United States. [more inside]
Swinging Away: How Cricket and Baseball Connect Five minute slideshow with audio from the BBC of historical images to coincide with an exhibition at Lords on the linked histories of the two bat and ball sports.
"Feel sorry for the people who never got to see us," he once said. "We were good." The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City faces a $200,000 shortfall for 2009. The museum is battling both the recession and its own backers, as new management tries to distance itself from founder Buck O'Neil, a move that induced long-time supporter Joe Posnanski to announce that he would "never set foot in there again." Will this chapter of baseball history be forgotten? Or can Strat-O-Matic save the Negro Leagues? (Previously on MetaFilter: Buck O'Neil denied a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.)
"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved" .... and mad enough to play fantasy baseball. In the new book Kerouac at Bat: Fantasy Sports and the King of the Beats, a NY Public Library archivist considers documents revealing the author's detailed obsession with the imaginary exploits of players like Pictorial Review Jackson and teams like the "Pontiacs, Nashes, and cellar-dwelling LaSalles" in his finely grained, fictional Summer League.
You have probably heard of Roy Hobbs, the fictional baseball player in The Natural. The book and movie were loosely base on the life of Eddie Waitkus. Eddie was having a fine pro baseball career, when on the night of June 14, 1949 an obsessed girl, Ruth Ann Steinhagen, lured him into a hotel room and shot him.
Stoolball is the medieval ancestor of cricket and baseball. First mentioned in print in 1671, it was reputedly played by milkmaids, who used their bare hands as bats. The game is still played today in some parts of south-east England, but luckily with frying pan-shaped contraptions instead. An important rule is that not following the spirit of the game will get you sent off the pitch. Here are some pictures of games in progress, along with other medieval bat-and-ball games such as Nipsy and Knur & Spell. Or, if you don't like ball games, try another medieval sport, dwile flonking (play online in flash).
We all have to go sometime. Frank Russo has an obsession, dead ballplayers. Some died in accidents, some were murdered, some couldn't take it anymore, and some were cursed. They were all human. (via HNT)
"One could go on, and one will -- praising (...) the National Center for Jewish Film for releasing all four of Edgar Ulmer's Yiddish films in restored editions. But the DVD player is beckoning, and I think it is time for me to get back to the couch". The National Center for Jewish Film (NCJF) is a unique nonprofit motion picture archive, distributor and resource center housing the largest, most comprehensive collection of Jewish-theme film and video in the world. In their archives you can discover the works of Leo Fuchs, the "Yiddish Fred Astaire", restored gems (scroll down) like "Motl the Operator" and re-releases like "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg". (More on Greenberg, the Jewish kid who challenged Babe Ruth’s homerun record here, more on the NCJF inside).
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.... for Boston Red Sox fans. This story from espn.com's Page 2 about Game 6 of the 1986 World Series is well-written and fills me with sympathy and empathy for Sox fans. See, as a Yakee fan, I was rooting against them at the time, but I feel sorry for them now. What a cruel punishment that game must have been. So close, and yet so far. (Please pardon my sports digression and shameless use of cliches.)