Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category

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 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

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: ,

Duane Kuiper and the 110th Congress

Out of 3,379 at bats in his career, second baseman Duane Kuiper managed to hit only one homerun. Not exactly Hall of Fame numbers, but when compared to Congress, Kuiper looks more like Mickey Mantle.

When Kuiper got his shot in the majors, manager Frank Robinson told him, “I’ll give you ten at-bats. If you hit more than two balls in the air, I’ll send you back to triple-A.” For twelve seasons, he kept the ball on the ground. When American voters gave the majority to the Democrats after twelve years in the minority, we were promised many wonderful things (See the House Democrats’ Top 100 Broken Promises). Besides raising the minimum wage, what exactly have they accomplished?

Congress has not got around to passing any of the twelve annual spending bills for the last fiscal year, which ended on October 1st. They weren’t even able to vote on the defense authorization bill before they went home for their summer recess. Of the forty pieces of legislation intended to withdraw the troops from Iraq voted on by the 110th Congress, only one has made it to the President’s desk, and President Bush vetoed it. For all their grandstanding anti-war drama, the only thing they have accomplished is to give the President what he wanted in the first place. What a waste of time.

What have they had time to work on? Congress was able to get around to their impeachment resolution of Vice President Dick Cheney. They got rid of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (for what?). They found time to craft a dangerous resolution condemning Turkey for an alleged genocide that happened almost a century ago against Armenians. They found time to promote their alternative foreign policy by bungling Middle East diplomacy with Syria’s dictator Bashar Assad. They also found time to censure radio host Rush Limbaugh for something he didn’t even say.

While Congress’ approval ratings are currently setting new all-time lows, Kuiper was good enough to stick around for twelve seasons. What he lacked for in power he made up in other aspects. He was a solid contact hitter and a sure-handed fielder. He was one of only three players in the 20th century to hit two bases-loaded triples in one game, showing that you don’t have to swing a big bat to drive in runs. Congress has been swinging for the fences lately – trying to undermine the Bush administration at all costs. This may look good to their far-left constituents, but how does it look to the American voters?

Kuiper still has the seat that his homerun ball bounced off of, the bat, and the ball in his attic. What will the 110th Congress have to show for their time in office? We ain’t seen nothin’ yet.


Posted on November 23, 2007 at 17:07 by Chris Carter · Permalink · One Comment
In: Baseball, Politics · Tagged with: ,