Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category

Aug. 24 in U.S. military history

British troops burn Washington, D.C.

1814: The British Army routs the Americans in the Battle of Bladensburg, then marches into Washington, D.C. in what is considered “the greatest disgrace ever dealt to American arms.” Gen. Robert Ross’ exhausted troops – several died during the battle from exhaustion after long marches – avenge the American destruction of Port Dover (in present-day Ontario) in May by setting fire to the Presidential Mansion (now called the White House), Capitol Building, and numerous other government and military facilities.

However, the British only hold Washington for one day before a massive storm blows through, severely damaging the British ships and causes the occupiers to abandon the area.

1912: The Navy’s first electrically powered ship, USS Jupiter (AC-3) is launched. Ten years later, a flight deck is added to the 542-ft. vessel, and the renamed USS Langley becomes America’s first aircraft carrier.

1942: Vice Adm. Frank J. Fletcher’s Task Force 61 and a Japanese carrier division converge in the Solomon Islands as Japanese troops attempt to reinforce Guadalcanal. The Battle of the Eastern Solomons is fought entirely by aircraft; the Japanese inflict serious damage on USS Enterprise (CV-6), while the Americans sink several vessels, including the light carrier Ryujo.

Over Guadalcanal, Japanese warplanes clash with Army and Marine aircraft of the “Cactus Air Force,” with Capt. Marion E. Carl in his F4F “Wildcat” scores four of the day’s ten Allied victories , becoming the Marine Corps’ first ace.

Bob Feller

1945: Just two days after being discharged from the service, Chief Petty Officer Bob Feller returns to Cleveland and is honored by a parade before pitching in his first major league game since becoming the first professional athlete to enlist in the Armed Forces during World War II. Despite losing nearly four years to his military service – Feller served aboard the battleship USS Alabama – the future Hall of Famer strikes out 12 batters and only allows four hits in the Indians 4-2 win over the Detroit Tigers.

Posted on August 24, 2017 at 09:18 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Baseball, Military History · Tagged with: ,

Today in baseball history: brand new ballparks (and what Babe Ruth did to them)

Fenway Park in Boston

Today in 1912, the Boston Red Sox beat the New York Highlanders (renamed the Yankees in 1921) 7-6 in 11 innings in the first baseball game played at Fenway Park. It is the oldest ballpark in the Major Leagues. The famous “Green Monster,” the 37-ft wall in left field, was a new addition in 1934. Prior to that, the field sloped up ten feet to a 25-ft wall. The incline was named “Duffy’s Cliff,” after Boston’s star left fielder that mastered fielding balls on the incline. Babe Ruth (a former Red Sox pitcher) hit the first home run over the new left field wall in 1934, which had been replaced after a fire destroyed the left field bleachers in 1926.

Also on April 20, 1912, the Detroit Tigers beat the Cleveland Naps 6-5 in 11 innings in the first game at Navin Field – later named Tiger Stadium, until the park closed in 1999. “Shoeless” Joe Jackson scored the very first run at the park, and Ty Cobb would steal home (his first of a still-standing record of eight that year). Ruth would model his swing after the hard-hitting left hander, calling Jackson “the percectest.” Grounds crews kept the dirt area in front of home plate wet in order to slow down Cobb’s bunts and foul opposing fielders trying to throw him out. Babe Ruth is believed to have hit the longest home run in baseball history (575 ft) on July 18, 1921 at Navin Field, and Lou Gehrig benched himself, ending his streak of 2,130 consecutive games on May 2, 1939 at Navin.

On April 20, 1916, the Chicago Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-6, also in 11 innings, in their new stadium, Weeghman Park. In 1927, Weeghman would be renamed Wrigley Field. While not home to many World Series championships, Wrigley was the site of one of the most famous moments in baseball history: In Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, Babe Ruth is said to have pointed towards center field before taking the next pitch deep into the seats. The famous ivy and scoreboard didn’t make their appearace until 1937. Wrigley Field is home to stubborn holdouts: the Chicago Cubs hold the record for a major professional sports team without a championship (108 years) and were the last team to install night lights in 1988 – 49 years after the Chicago White Sox began playing under the lights.

Posted on April 20, 2017 at 06:00 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Baseball

Military veterans of the MLB

[Note: this post is updated frequently]

Before he was a four-time World Series champion second baseman for the New York Yankees and the voice of the San Diego Padres, Jerry Coleman was the only Major League baseball player to fight in both World War II and Korea. Between the two wars, Lt. Col. Coleman (USMC) flew 120 combat missions, earning two Distinguished Flying Crosses and 13 Air Medals.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hank Bauer (right, pictured with fellow World War II veteran Yogi Berra) walked away from his gig as a minor league ballplayer and enlisted the Marine Corps, volunteering for the famed Marine Raiders – the predecessor of the modern Corps’ special operations component. Bauer spent 32 months in combat, including action in the Guadalcanal, Guam, and Okinawa campaigns. On Okinawa, Bauer commanded a platoon that was nearly wiped out by a Japanese assault – he was one of only six survivors of his 64-man platoon to survive the battle. Bauer earned two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts prior to his return to baseball after the war, where he would win seven World Series championships with the Yankees – and another as manager of the Baltimore Orioles.

Before becoming a Hall of Fame catcher for the New York Yankees, a 19-year-old Double-A ballplayer named Lawrence P. “Yogi” Berra served aboard a 36-ft. rocket boat during the Normandy Invasion. He also saw service during the invasion of southern France, two months after D-Day. Berra stayed in the Navy until 1946.

After earning the American League batting title in 1918, Ty Cobb joined the Army and served overseas with the Chemical Corps at the Allied Expeditionary Headquarters in Chaumont, France. His unit commander was Maj. Branch Rickey and he served alongside fellow officers Christy Matthewson and George Sisler – Hall of Famers, all. Capt. Cobb received an honorable discharge and returned to baseball in time to win his third straight AL batting title in 1919.

After playing eight games with the 1963 World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers – getting a double in his only major league at-bat – Roy Gleason was drafted and sent to Vietnam. He became the only major league baseball player wounded in the conflict when he was wounded with shrapnel from a Viet Cong attack in 1968. Gleason would earn the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for his service.

UCLA sports extraodinaire Jackie Robinson (the school’s first student athlete to letter in baseball, football, basketball, and track) is drafted into a segregated cavalry unit in 1942.  Robinson entered Officer Candidate School and served in the 761st “Black Panthers” Tank Battalion after earning his commission. Robinson went on to break baseball’s color barrier, becoming the first black player in the Major Leagues on April 15, 1946.

Following graduation from Virginia State University (on a basketball scholarship), Al Bumbry deployed to Vietnam as a platoon leader, earning the Bronze Star. After completing his service commitment, he would become the American League Rookie of the Year in 1973 and go on to win two World Series with the Baltimore Orioles.

68b1e520-c287-11e4-adb7-a1c97d6db9cf_AP858593037636After five years active duty service, Mitch Harris became the first Naval Academy graduate to pitch in the major leagues in almost 100 years. Mitch debuted with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2015, pitching in 26 games, earning a 2-1 record. He is currently on the disabled list but expects to return to the mound in 2017.

smusialAfter hitting .347 for the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals in 1944, Stan “The Man” Musial enlisted in the Navy where he served in a ship launch unit, ferrying sailors from damaged ships to shore at Pearl Harbor. He received his discharge in March, 1946 and returned to the majors in time to lead the Cardinals to another World Series title and his second league MVP title, batting .365.

Posted on July 13, 2016 at 17:16 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Baseball, Military History

Random baseball knowledge

Fernando Tatis as a Cardinal

On Apr. 23, 1999, Cardinals third baseman Fernando Tatis hit two grand slams against the Dodgers… in the same inning! Tatis is the only baseball player in major league history to ever do that. Every time my dad and I went to a game, Tatis somehow always came through with an incredible performance.

And this from Twitter for all you Albert Pujols fans: the Angels have paid Pujols $1,377,049 for no homers & 4 RBIs. Although he’s no longer a Cardinal, he is still the best player in the game and a great guy. Glad he’s getting a new start with the Angels. I just hope he goes into the Hall of Fame as a Cardinal.

Posted on April 24, 2012 at 18:22 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Baseball

West Side Park, the Cubs’ old stadium

The Cubs haven’t won a title since moving to their “new” stadium 99 years ago. In fact, the last time they won the World Series was in 1908 – they also won in 1907. In fact, from 1906-1910 the Cubs went to the series four out of five years, winning twice. But that was a long time ago. A very long time ago.

But enough Cub-bashing – I came across an old panoramic photo of the Cubs’ last stadium, West Side Park, a wooden ballpark which stood just west of Little Italy. The photo’s caption reads “City Championship Series” – Oct. 10, 1909. Cap Anson was long gone and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson wasn’t playing yet, but it would have been something to watch Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance (of the famous Tinkers – to Evers – to Chance double play combination) in action.

Panoramic photo of Chicago's West Side Park in 1909. Click on the photo to see the high-resolution version. (Source: Library of Congress)

Posted on April 20, 2012 at 12:00 by Chris Carter · Permalink · 2 Comments
In: Baseball

Wrigley Field marks anniversaries

Weeghman Park in 1914 (source: Library of Congress)

The “friendly confines” of Wrigley Field marks two noteworthy anniversaries this season: the ballpark turns 99 this season, while the bleachers, manually operated scoreboard, and ivy are turning 75.

Wrigley – originally Weeghman Park – hosted its first baseball game on Apr. 23, 1914, the Chicago Federals beating the Kansas City Packers 9-1. The teams were part of the Federal League, a third major league that lasted only two seasons.

When the Federal League folded, owner Charles Weeghman bought up the Chicago Cubs and moved them from the aging, wooden West Side Park to the recently vacated Federals’ field. The Cubs played their first game in the stadium on Apr. 20, 1916.

The ballpark went by the name “Cubs Park” from 1920 – 1926, when it was renamed to Wrigley Field after William Wrigley Jr. gained the controlling interest.

In 1937, the park was renovated to add the bleachers and scoreboard. The original scoreboard is still operating today – a staff of four climbs up and down ladders behind the board throughout the game, changing numbers for the 318 openings. That September, ivy was planted at the base of the outfield wall.

Wrigley Field is the only Federal League stadium still in use, the oldest National League stadium, and the second-oldest Major League stadium behind Fenway Park, which opened its doors in 1912.

It is the last Major League stadium to install lights – the Cubs played all their home games during the day until 1988.

The Cubs haven’t managed to win the World Series in their “new” stadium in 98 seasons, although they did go five times – most recently in 1945. The longest championship drought in professional sports dates all the way back to 1908 – an incredible 104 years!

In case you can’t tell, I am a Cardinals fan. Maybe next year, Cubbies. But happy anniversary to the other half of one of sports’ best rivalries.

More on the history of Wrigley Field here.

Posted on April 19, 2012 at 21:46 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Baseball

Rick Ankiel: Best arm in baseball?

Rick Ankiel is one of my favorite athletes. I remember watching the playoff game in 2000 against the Atlanta Braves where he had one of – if not the most – epic collapses in baseball. After having a spectacular rookie season as a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, finishing second in rookie of the year voting, Ankiel walked more batters and threw more wild pitches during three disastrous playoff appearances than perhaps anyone in the history of baseball. After a lengthy stay in the minor leagues, Ankiel did come back to the majors – as an outfielder.

An outfielder with an incredible arm. No one should ever run on Rick Ankiel, but every now and then someone does.

Two phenomenal throws during the same game from Ankiel in 2008:

And another in 2011:

Monday, Ankiel made the highlight reel and earned a standing ovation – on a play where he didn’t even throw anyone out. Bases loaded with no outs, the Astros batter pops up to Ankiel, who throws a perfect strike from 300 feet away from home plate in center field – holding the Astros’ fastest runner at third base. The catcher didn’t even have to move his glove.

Posted on April 18, 2012 at 22:29 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Baseball

Spring Training for Leap Frogs

Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 1st Class Victor Maldonado, left, Chief Special Warfare Operator Justin Gauny (SEAL), right, and Aviation Survival Equipmentman 1st Class Thomas Kinn, all assigned to the U.S. Navy parachute demonstration team, the Leap Frogs, jump from the ramp of a C-130 aircraft during the opening ceremony of a Chicago White Sox spring-training baseball game at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., during Phoenix Navy Week. Navy Weeks are designed to show Americans the investment they have made in their Navy and increase awareness in cities that do not have a significant Navy presence. (U.S. Navy photo by James Woods/Released)

Posted on April 2, 2010 at 12:07 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Baseball, Images, Military · Tagged with: ,

AP: Obama’s a Jock

In case you didn’t know, this is what passes as journalism at the AP (emphasis mine):

[Obama has] spent his adult life in big cities — New York, Chicago and, now, Washington. Basketball, golf, and bodysurfing are how this jock rolls. Indoor daily gym workouts are the norm.

How this “jock” rolls? I don’t know how he rolls, but I remember how he bowls: a very non-jock-worthy 37. And afterwards he had the audacity to make fun of special olympians.

Isn’t this the same jock that threw out the first pitch to the All-Star Game? The Fox Network cameras were positioned so that they would not show the actual pitch. MLB cameras however did show the entire pitch. Albert Pujols was positioned on top of the plate, rather than behind it, and the ball still hit the ground.

Not quite what I would call a jock, but I am not an active duty member of the White House Press Corps, either.

From my AP Style Manual (the only thing written by the AP worth the ink):

mn_obama_bowlsjock Used when describing athleticism of Democratic presidents.
See Barack Obama.

Posted on August 16, 2009 at 21:42 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Baseball, Media · Tagged with: , ,

Obama crowd: 1.8 million*

Obama wasn’t even sworn in yet, and we already had inflation.

While I could really care less how many people attended Barack Obama’s inauguration, there is an interesting story behind the head count, or rather, the lack thereof.

The National Park Service (NPS) conducted an estimate of Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March in 1995 and found that the march actually came well under one million people. Naturally, organizers cried racism to Congress — who promptly banned the NPS from conducting further estimates.

So back to Obama’s inauguration: the NPS went ahead and did another estimate. After all, this is historic. But this time, it was a bit less scientific — they just went with the Washington Post’s figure of 1.8 million. Presto! The biggest event in Washington, D.C.’s history.

But satellite imagery may deflate Obama’s head count. Experts at Jane’s Information Group figure between 1.3 and 1.7 million, and George Mason University professor of tourism puts the figure at much closer to 1 million.


Posted on January 25, 2009 at 00:05 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Baseball, Politics · Tagged with: ,