Thoughts on Bill Veeck’s Death in 1986

Here are some reminisces of Bill Veeck from Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Dave Kindred and others in response to Veeck’s death at not quite 72, at the start of 1986. First Kindred:

To sit with Bill Veeck was to enjoy man at his fullest. He was bright and brave, laughing and conniving, in love with life. In the summer of 1977, when Veeck last ran the White Sox, he sat in the dim light of a ballpark saloon. . . .

“Baseball is the least changed thing in our society,” Veeck said in that saloon. He had a beer in hand, and another waited its turn. “In a confused and confusing world in which the underpinnings are less stable than shifting sand, baseball is an island of stability.”

By then, at 63, Veeck was deaf in one ear and wore a hearing aid in the other. Sometimes he spoke at a roar because he wanted to hear what he said; most times it was out of passion. He had no interest in being polite. He considered politeness an absence of passion. He smoked four packs a day, he drank a case of beer, he read both Shakespeare and sportswriters (“I am a dispos-all for the written word”) – and he worked at baseball with a passion alien to most men.

“These [other MLB owners] are not career baseball operators,” said Veeck, a lifer whose stiff-collared father ran the Cubs from 1917 to ’33. “These are successful businessmen from other fields who get into baseball for personal publicity, to buff and burnish their egos.”

Veeck’s off-center smile rearranged the folds and crevices of his sage’s wasted face. “Of course, no one at this table has an overwhelming desire to put a high sheen on his ego. Or on his wooden leg.”

“We lost a lot in losing Bill Veeck,” said Jimmy Gallios, an owner of Miller’s Pub, 23 W. Adams, and a friend of Veeck for 40 years. “It was something great to see him walking in. Every day was a great day with him. He was just a tiger of a man.

“He never got down about all the problems he had with his leg. No, no, no, no. As a matter of fact, he was an inspiration to a couple of customers we had who had lost a leg, always trying to get them off crutches. And joking, telling them, ‘Listen, maybe we should buy one pair of shoes together and save some money.’ “

Studs Terkel, who interviewed Veeck often on radio and for his book The American Dream said: “His life was not baseball alone. I think what he was searching for was delight.

“In talking about his scoreboard (it was Veeck who introduced the exploding scoreboard to baseball), he told me he was thinking of the scene in ‘The Time of Your Life,’ where the loser who always plays the pinball machine in the bar one day hits the jackpot and it explodes.

“That’s what he meant with his scoreboard. Even losers can have their day. There should be delight in the game.”

Larry Doby, whom Veeck signed with the Cleveland Indians in 1947 as the first black player in the American League, called Veeck’s death “a shock.”

“It was like losing a father,” he said. “I thought the world of him. I lost my father when I was eight and I adopted Mr. Veeck.

“What I remember best is his response to people. When I went to Cleveland to sign my contract, I was nervous when I walked into his office. I said, ‘Glad to meet you, Mr. Veeck.’ He said, ‘Call me Bill.’ He then called me Lawrence.”

“Players loved to play for him,” said [Lou] Boudreau. “He got credit as an entertainer, but his knowledge of the game was tremendous.

“He never came into the [Indians] clubhouse. But we had a meeting every morning. We’d talk things over and he wanted to know why you did certain things. He wanted you to argue with him. He wanted you to prove that you were right.

“Bill Veeck deserves credit for where baseball is today. Because when it was in a dull period, he brought it back.”

And some more quotes:
“(Veeck) was not one of, but the finest man that I ever met in the field of sports. Baseball will miss him without a question. I enjoyed being in baseball with him while he owned the White Sox and I owned the A’s and I learned very, very much from him. Bill did so much for the game, all I can say is I’ll miss him.”
–Former Oakland A’s owner Charlie Finley

“(Veeck promised) he’d go eat crow at (the downtown intersection of) State and Lake if I could win the pennant with that team. The following year he went down to State and Lake and ate crow or pheasant or something. I don’t know if it was crow, but he ate something. He was a wonderful man but a wonderful baseball man as well. He will be missed.”
–Al Lopez, who managed the Sox to the 1959 pennant

“He loved the game of baseball but he never forgot . . . the game is for the fans. It’s not for you the manager, it’s not for the players to make money. He loved to talk about the game of baseball. He really had a complete understanding of it. He took a chance on me when a lot of other men wouldn’t. We stayed in touch through the years. He would always let me know if I wasn’t doing something right, but he never came down on the field and told me what to do.”
–White Sox manager Tony LaRussa

“He was the spirit of Chicago, powerful, a lot of gusto and verve and vigor, an emancipated man, who had a mission in life. That was to bring joy and happiness to people, an intellect, you know, in a sweatshirt.”
–Chicago Mayor Harold Washington

Published in: Uncategorized on April 26, 2014 at 10:41 am  Comments (1)  
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Some More About Baseball, Computers and Sabermetrics in the ’80s

A couple years ago (and again a month ago) I spent some time on this blog looking at the early days of baseball and sabermetrics, during the 1980s. This post goes back to that decade one more time, for excerpts from a story by USA Today’s Chuck Johnson during the 1988 World Series:

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser is using a personal computer to become the best in baseball.

“It’s just a new way to store information and get it back quicker, and it’s really helped me,” he said. “It’s like a baseball diary on an electronic device.

“I use it every time I pitch. Or, if in between starts I do something or find an adjustment that I want to talk about to myself, I’ll put it in there.”

Hershiser won’t reveal the brand name of the PC he uses, “because the advertising deal hasn’t been signed yet,” he said.

“I have some people who want to talk to me (about doing a television commercial). I think it would be a pretty good scenario to see me standing on the mound about to deliver a pitch and then turning around and going back to a computer and pumping something in, and then throwing a pitch and getting a guy out.”

Hershiser said the idea of using a PC “came from wanting to be computer-friendly when I get out of baseball.

“If I try to get a job after baseball, I’d have some knowledge about computers. Two things I might want to get into after baseball are the securities market and real estate and in both you have to deal with computers a lot.”

Sandy Alderson, the Oakland Athletics general manager, takes a hindsight view.

Though the Athletics regularly used computers to track pitchers’ and hitters’ tendencies during the 1983 and ’84 seasons, the club went back to basics in molding a winner.

“We were building a technological animal, not a baseball team,” said Alderson. “It started to bother the player that we were a push-button team. The tail was wagging the dog.”

A videotape recorder – something all teams use – is about as high-tech as the Athletics go these days.

It’s not surprising, really, that Hershiser would have looked at computers in that way, given his accountant image. But you’d expect the A’s to have been a bit more technological, given the image of Alderson and Tony La Russa, and the team being next to Silicon Valley.

My impression is that in the 1970s, Earl Weaver on the managerial side and Davey Johnson on the playing side were the only two major leaguers to use sabermetric approaches to analyzing the game. I don’t know that Weaver was using computers; it sounds like Johnson was, and if that’s the case, he may have been the first player or manager in MLB to do so. Branch Rickey is the only guy I know of from before the ’70s who used something similar to what would be called sabermetrics to analyze players. Although, it would be wrong to think that before the ’70s no one other than Rickey focused on on-base percentage and hitting charts (think of the Ted Williams shift) and other “advanced” analytics.

Published in: Uncategorized on April 12, 2014 at 10:31 am  Comments (2)  

A Timeline of the Sabermetrics Revolution

This is from a sidebar to a Hartford Courant feature on April 5, 2004, when the Courant set out a timeline of some key events in the annals of baseball statistics and sabermetrics. Some of the items are already familiar to you, but others are not well known, including that a military staffer led the formation of SABR. Here’s the timeline:

1845: The first box score appeared in The New York Herald on Oct. 25, as the New York Ball Club beat the Brooklyn Ball Club, 37-19.

1850s: Box score continued to appear in New York newspapers. By the end of the decade, sportswriter Henry Chadwick revolutionized the box score, basing it on the statistics of cricket. Why cricket? Because Chadwick was British.

1860-1900: Chadwick, who published the first rulebook in 1858, continuously invented statistics and altered rules to better judge the contribution of a player. He devised a formula for ERA and batting average, he came up with such concepts as the error, the sacrifice fly and infield fly rule.

1914: Boston’s “Miracle Braves” win the World Series, thanks to the platoon system used by manager George Stallings, considered the first manager to base decisions on numbers.

1947: The first known stats expert to work for a team is hired by the Brooklyn Dodgers, as Allan Roth joined Branch Rickey. Roth was one of the first proponents of on-base percentage and slugging percentage, numbers Rickey also embraced. Roth stays with the Dodgers until 1964.

1964: Stat-minded fans find a guru in Earnshaw Cook, a Johns Hopkins engineering professor who questions conventional baseball wisdom in his book “Percentage Baseball.” After compiling piles of data, Cook brought his ideas to baseball executives. He was rebuffed, so he wrote the book that influenced a generation, including Bill James.

1971: The Society for American Baseball Research is formed in Cooperstown by 16 like-minded baseball fans and historians. The group’s founder is Department of Defense employee Bob David. SABR quickly becomes a haven for statistical analysis.

1970s: Earl Weaver becomes one of the first managers to embrace stats in his decision-making. As manager of the Orioles, Weaver studies index cards that contained statistics about matchups and tendencies. Weaver loved to platoon, didn’t like to bunt, and relied on matchup numbers for bullpen decisions.

1977: While passing time working at Stokely Van Camp’s, Bill James begins poring over statistics before producing his first “Baseball Abstract.” James turned out witty prose while turning the game upside down in his analysis. He created stats (such as runs created) and built a cult following by advertising in The Sporting News. By the early 1980s, “Baseball Abstract” was a national bestseller.

1981: The Texas Rangers hire Craig Wright for his statistical analysis, making him a trailblazer. Wright spent almost 20 years as a consultant with other teams, most notably the Dodgers. He also wrote “The Diamond Appraised” with former Rangers pitching coach Tom House and continues to write from his California home.

1984: Pete Palmer, a member of SABR since 1973, co-authors (with John Thorn) “The Hidden Game of Baseball.” Palmer, who invented on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS), also published “Total Baseball” with Thorn in 1989.

1985: Mets manager Davey Johnson, who played for Weaver, keeps a copy of “The Hidden Game of Baseball” near his desk and he references Earnshaw Cook when discussing strategy.

1986: The Orioles hire Baltimore native and economist Eddie Epstein as director of baseball research and statistics. Larry Lucchino, who hired Epstein, later brought him to San Diego. Epstein is now a consultant for several teams.

1980s: While his team was among the best and deepest in baseball, Oakland GM Sandy Alderson is studying the work of sabermetricians and consulting with an analyst named Eric Walker. By the time the A’s are cutting salary in the 1990s, Alderson is implementing many of Walker’s ideas — such as valuing on-base percentage — throughout his organization.

1993: Billy Beane, a former fringe big leaguer, joins the A’s front office and is indoctrinated into the James/Walker thinking by Alderson. Beane eventually replaces Alderson as GM and continues to follow the path of statistical analysis.

2002: Billionaire financier John Henry, who sold the Florida Marlins and purchased the Red Sox a year before, becomes the first major league owner to hire James to a full-time position. Henry, a long-time fan of James, says his organization will rely on both statistical analysis and conventional scouting.

Published in: Uncategorized on March 27, 2014 at 5:23 pm  Comments (1)  

Do You Enjoy Baseball as Much as You Used to?

This question is aimed at people who started following major league baseball before the late ‘90s, that is, before the Internet became a big deal, before every game of a season was televised, and before the home run boom really got going. Was MLB more enjoyable in the earlier years? If it was, did that result from you being younger, or from changes in MLB and how it’s presented by legacy media and on the Web?

I think if you remain a baseball fan after the transition from adolescence to adulthood, you inevitably realize that many, maybe most of the players in MLB have few exceptional qualities beyond their ability to play baseball. Certainly they are not, in any moral sense, better than the ordinary human being. This produces a more skeptical attitude toward MLB: the raw emotional attachment to teams and players goes away, and so you enjoy the games less than you used to.

For example: I read Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life, and its detailing of how DiMaggio’s very lucrative baseball card and memorabilia signing deals in the ‘80s and ‘90s were done. The details are not pretty, and I couldn’t come away from that education with anything other than the sense that the card and memorabilia industry was, and presumably still is, filled with shady, hard-driving accountants and business school graduates with very, very little sentimental attachment to baseball. They saw a chance when the industry boomed in the ‘80s, got in, and, if they were smart and lucky, got out before the industry tumbled in the ‘90s. Once you get that impression, you can’t look at a 1988 Donruss David Wells rookie card the same way you used to.

Published in: Uncategorized on March 16, 2014 at 5:41 pm  Comments (10)  

Fantasy Baseball and Sabermetrics in 1986

This is most of an article by Don Oldenburg of the Washington Post from early September, 1986. It is a nice look at the state of computerized fantasy baseball and gaming at the time:

On a subfreezing February day in Bayside, N.Y., Alan Lefton called timeout on the ball field. With runners on base and two outs, he sent his manager to the pitcher’s mound to yank his starter and bring in the relief ace. A fastball or curve? Lefton signaled his decision . . . the windup . . . the pitch . . . strike three.

The game is baseball. The team: the New York Mets. And Lefton? A 33-year-old computer manager for a New York City accounting firm who, just maybe, has confused Walter Mitty with Casey at the Bat once too often.

“I played seven or eight games that day – 10 to 12 hours straight,” says Lefton, who describes himself as “a borderline fanatic” about the great American pastime – both computerized and the real thing. “My car was snowed in, nothing was on TV . . . so I sat at my PC and played.”

A fervent Mets fan since 1971, Lefton says he knew he was hooked on Micro League Baseball’s simulation software two years ago when, minutes after booting up the game for the first time, a tiny electronic Willie Mays stepped up to home plate and smashed a triple off the right-field wall. Since then, Lefton has managed his microchip Mets in “hundreds of games.” He spent more than three hours a day every day for 10 weeks playing the Mets’ entire 162-game 1984 schedule.

Consistently in Top 10 software ratings since its debut in 1984, Micro League Baseball combines entertaining if not lifelike graphics with serious baseball strategy and an accurate statistical base that influences the outcome of each managerial decision.

“You have to use your managerial moves to win,” says Paul Kelly, the 29-year-old vice president of Micro League Sports Association, the Newark, Del., publishing house that developed and markets the $36 program. “If Fernando Valenzuela is pitching against Rickey Henderson, accurate stats for those two produce the event on the screen.”

“Enlarging the market” is a phrase heard from every programming expert who sees high use ability, high play ability software as the key to reviving sputtering home- computer sales. Among the growing field of competitors are industry heavy hitters betting on a bigger strike zone for the simulated sports-software market. . . .

Electronic Arts (EA), a San Mateo, Calif., company known for innovation is now developing baseball and football software, and plans to release an America’s Cup sailing game before Thanksgiving. That is in addition to its new World Tour Golf game, to be available to the public by the end of this month.

Buddy Diamond, the 30-year-old founder of XOR Corp. in Minneapolis, which last year produced NFL Challenge, says, “More and more people are seeing it’s OK to buy simulations . . . being a football coach or managing a baseball team. It shows people what a computer can do in a way that isn’t hostile.”

Slick packaging and a $99.95 price tag aren’t the only features that separate NFL Challenge from other sports software. Although visually a “chalkboard” version with Xs and Os carrying out plays, this game’s strategy and statistics dazzle. Players can match any two NFL teams, and either or both can be human or computer coached. The offense is called from 49 actual football plays and the opposition counters with one of 26 defenses. But the action on the screen is determined by team and individual statistics for the NFL 1984 season (which can be updated).

“We wanted to assemble a team to build a state of the art, high-technology program,” says Diamond of the million-dollar software, which required “12 1/2 man years” to develop. But despite sales “in seven figures” its first year, Diamond echoes an industrywide complaint that dealers would rather stock high-ticket business software costing hundreds of dollars than inexpensive sports software.

Meanwhile, larger software companies talk of technological advances eventually taking on the home entertainment champs such as television and VCRs. “By 1990, you will have in your home . . . a computing system that will play back CD audio, videotape and laser-oriented ROM computer software that will convey on the screen something almost as real as images on TV and movies – except you will control what goes on inside of them.”

A few months earlier, Lee Walburn of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote this in mid-July, 1986-it shows how MLB teams, especially the Braves, were using computerized imagery and analysis:

Baseball is to athletics what creationism is to religion. Everything is literal and not to be challenged or changed without an authentic discovery of another stone tablet. Yet, periodically, some heretical claim comes along that gives momentary hope for life after mediocrity, and the infidels break from the fundamentalists and line up for a shot at something that is supposed to give them the edge.

Exer-Genie was such a device. Merely by anchoring it’s shiny casing into the ground or floor and tugging at its sliding ropes, pitchers were to be protected from sore arms, gain a couple of miles per hour on fast balls, and hitters were to develop wrists and shoulders of supple steel.

“Funny thing about that Exer-Genie,” Atlanta Braves manager, Chuck Tanner was saying recently, “It made a great pitcher out of Warren Spahn and a great hitter out of Henry Aaron, but it didn’t seem to help the ordinary mortals one bit.”

What Tanner was saying was just another variation on the most venerable baseball axiom of them all, “If he can play, he can play. If he can’t, he can’t.” Only in Walt Disney movies does a scientist develop an exlixir that renders baseballs unhittable or turns bespectacled math majors into jet-propelled shortstops with 70-homerun potential.N evertheless, science keeps pecking away. Despite Tanner’s traditional response, as 1986 spring training began to bloom, a former college catcher named Jim Guadagno could be found hunched over a computer terminal at Municipal Stadium in West Palm Beach, Florida. Working with him was a consultant from Price Waterhouse as the Braves attempted to gain through electronics that elusive edge.

For several years now, baseball teams have begun to turn to computers to spit out information on the opposition. It is talked about by veterans with hand over the mouth in self-conscious mumbled monotone. For the most part, it is nothing that managers such as Tanner haven’t been doing for a long time by hand, but is a grudging admission that computers offer a deeper repository of intelligence more handily recalled than in the past.

Some of the younger managers, such as Dave Johnson of the Mets, threaten to turn the dugouts into the College Bowl as they plot strategy on the one-eyed monster. Erstwhile Oakland A’s manager, Steve Boros, recently appointed boss of the San Diego Padres, can quote chapter and verse on the times he thinks his handy PC has helped him outwit the opposition.

On the other hand, the Chicago White Sox computer in 1982 told them that 50 of 83 fly balls hit to the Comiskey Park warning track were struck by White Sox players. The next year the fences were moved eight feet closer to home plate on the theory that Chicago would increase its home run output. The team hit eight fewer homers than the year before.W hat the Braves are attempting to do, with less lofty expectations than either Boros or the Sox, is to transform the statistics into color graph ics that will be more quickly assimilated than numbers by managers and coaches, and perhaps affect decisions in a positive way both before and during a game.

Similar charts are already laboriously produced by hand and assist mainly in the deployment of defensive players against hitters with obvious tendencies such as to pull the ball or hit to the opposite field against certain pitchers. The Dodgers have gained some degree of attention for their Spy in the Sky – a coach who sits in the press box with his charts and signals to the dugout where fielders should play against certain hitters.

“Tom Lasorda stole the Spy in the Sky from me,” says Tanner of his good friend. “I’ve been doing that for years.”

The Braves hold no illusions about what they are doing, but since other teams are exploring computer baseball, they feel compelled to conduct their own research and development.

“We didn’t use computers in Toronto last year and we did okay,” says Braves manager Bobby Cox, who won the Eastern Division championship of the American League with the Toronto Blue Jays. “Without good players, stuff like that isn’t worth a flip. But computers may help in ways we aren’t familiar with yet and we are going to experiment with them. Chuck has kept a lot of charts through the years and we are feeding all that into the machine.”

“I don’t consider myself to be working on the Bible,” says Guadagno. “If anything, my work will amount to having an extra coach.”

Since a computer is an apparatus to handle huge volumes of information that humans already know but have trouble sorting through, the farm department is a lot more enthusiastic about its applications than is big-league management.

The scouting combine that supplies information on prospects for each major-league team is completely computerized, and the Braves utilize Guadagno and Bobbie Cranford to program all their organization data.

“For instance, there will come a time when we can go to the computer and ask for all third basemen with superior power and their ranking as prospects,” says Paul Snyder, director of scouting. “This will be great in making trades by uncovering young talent in other organizations, great for monitoring their progress as they mature as players.

“We did a little of that before the last Winter Meetings. We rated all players from all the other organizations. As a result of that work, most of it by hand, we picked up pitcher Pete Smith from the Phillies in the trade that sent Steve Bedrosian and Milt Thompson to Philadelphia for catcher Ozzie Virgil. We think he is a terrific prospect and we were able to get him included in the deal. Computerized information will help even more.”

Published in: Uncategorized on March 6, 2014 at 8:45 am  Comments (2)  

The Five Worst MLB Teams in the Last Decade (2004-2013)

I present this list, worst to best, with no commentary.

Royals: 681 wins
Pirates: 705 wins
Mariners: 718 wins
Orioles: 736 wins
Expos (they left Montreal/Puerto Rico after 2004)/Nationals: 743 wins

Published in: Uncategorized on February 20, 2014 at 9:38 am  Comments (3)  

The Least Successful MLB Franchise

I recently asked a question on this blog: Which MLB franchise do you most respect? Following on and contrasting with that thought is the question: Which MLB franchise do you think is the least successful? I think “success” pretty simply translates to wins, so on the surface this is an easier question. But how do you compare the Cubs’ century-plus without a World Series title to the futility of the Mariners, Padres, and other expansion teams? The Phillies still only have two World Series titles, the Pirates and Royals have their remarkably woeful stretches, which 2013 didn’t really erase for either squad. The Indians were one of the worst MLB teams for a long time, and still have just two titles. How should you weigh the different kinds of not winning?

I would have asked: Which MLB franchise do you least admire? But, I suppose most people would say the Marlins, and those who didn’t would name the team that’s the biggest rival of the team they like the most.

Published in: Uncategorized on February 5, 2014 at 2:03 pm  Comments (1)  

Vladimir Guerrero Was Intentionally Walked 250 Times?

Here are a few surprising names on the list of top 50 batters for career intentional walks, a stat that was recorded starting in 1955 (names listed from most to fewest intentional walks):
Vladimir Guerrero, Rusty Staub, Chili Davis, Ted Simmons, Ichiro, Rod Carew, Garry Templeton, Mo Vaughn

Published in: Uncategorized on January 24, 2014 at 8:24 pm  Comments (3)  

Which is Your Favorite MLB Season?

Is there a particular year in MLB that you’ve identified as your favorite? Mine is 1989, not because it was a good year for baseball, but because of the variety of stories that unfolded that year: the Pete Rose vs. Bart Giamatti struggle highlighting the several scandals of ’89, which included Wade Boggs’ sex scandals and Steve Garvey’s sex scandals. Donnie Moore’s mid-summer suicide minutes after nearly killing his wife and the Loma Prieta earthquake overshadowed those scandals with their raw, life-and-death violence. Jim Abbott and Dave Dravecky were two memorably inspiring figures that year, Bo Jackson and Kevin Mitchell did remarkable things, Rickey Henderson led the A’s into an ultimately melancholy cross-Bay World Series with the Giants.

Rather than give more details, I’ll quote Samuel Johnson: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” This quote applies very well to MLB in 1989: it was not “fun,” but it was memorably diverse, giving fans all that baseball can afford.

Published in: Uncategorized on January 12, 2014 at 8:34 am  Comments (1)  

Rick Monday and the Flag-Burning Incident in 1976

Here is the start of the Los Angeles Times’ story covering this Cubs-Dodgers game in Los Angeles, on April 25, 1976:
mondayflagcover

Further down, after noting that Dodgers third baseman Ron Cey singled in Ted Sizemore in the bottom of the 10th to win the game, the Times wrote:

Monday’s outfield “play” drew the warmest—and maybe loudest—ovation of the afternoon, however. William Errol Thomas, 37, unemployed, of Eldon, Mo., had come out of the left-field pavilion with a youngster identified by police as his son, and was attempting to set fire to a Flag when Monday, running from center field, intervened. Thomas, who had sprinkled lighter fluid on the Flag, threw the can at Monday as he fled with the Flag.

“He got down on his knees and I could tell he wasn’t throwing holy water on it,” Monday [a Cub at the time] said. “If he’s going to burn a Flag, he better do it in front of somebody who doesn’t appreciate it. I’ve visited enough veterans’ hospitals and seen enough guys with their legs blown off defending the Flag.”

Monday did not feel the standing ovation was his. “The way people reacted was fantastic,” he said, “but I felt they were cheering for what the Flag meant.”

Police said Thomas was arrested for trespassing and taken to Parker Center. So was Joe Shaver, 30, Santa Monica, who police said attempted to get into the dugout to shake Monday’s hand. The youngster with Thomas reportedly was taken to juvenile hall.

Monday sent a note to the Dodgers asking for the Flag, but was told it had to be impounded, at least temporarily, as evidence.

So Rick Monday captured one Flag and the Dodgers hit and fielded like they are going to have to hit and field if they expect to get the one they are after.

Note that the Times capitalized it as “Flag”: apparently that was the paper’s editorial policy, but I don’t know if “Flag” instead of “flag” was common practice at other papers in the mid-’70s.

A couple days later, this follow-on story from the Times gave Thomas’ reason, at least the one he gave at the time, for trying to burn the flag:
mondayflag

As a little piece of context for Monday’s flag rescue, here is the Times’ box score for the 5-4 Dodgers win:
mondaybox

Finally, here, in two parts, is a feature story from Ross Newhan of the Times in late April of ’76, profiling Monday and the response to the flag rescue. Monday was a Santa Monica native, which may have played some part in his action in Dodgers Stadium and the aftermath of his flag rescue, although of course this was not a parochial Southern California story. The Times mentions that the Dodgers were pursuing Monday at the time: they got him, in a trade for the Dodgers’ Bill Buckner in early ’77, and Monday spent the last eight years of his career with the Dodgers, winning three pennants and a World Series (check his stats).
mondayfollow1
mondayfollow

Published in: on January 8, 2014 at 9:59 am  Comments (2)  
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