Some Notes on Johnny Mize

Mize is one of the fairly little-known sluggers from the time between Ruth and Mantle, Mays, Aaron, etc. In fact, considering that he won 4 home run titles, he might be the most accomplished yet least remembered major power threat of that roughly 20-year span.

Here are some notable things about his career:

He played roughly equal numbers of seasons with three powerhouse franchises, the Cardinals, Giants, and Yankees.

Mize hit 43 triples in 3 seasons, 1938-40, but I have the image of him being a lumbering slugger.

Led the league in runs scored, doubles, triples, homers, RBIs, average, and slugging % at various points in his career.

He wound that career up by winning 5 titles with the Yankees, 1949-53. I hadn’t noticed that he hit 3 homers in the ’52 Series, at age 39.

Mize was sold to the Reds after the 1934 season, without having yet played a game in the majors, but returned to the Cardinals due to injuries–pelvic bone spurs, according to his SABR bio.

He sounds a little like David Ortiz, in multiple respects. Most obviously, both were first-rate sluggers whose careers blossomed somewhat late, and won 3 or more World Series.

Published in: Uncategorized on September 18, 2021 at 6:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

John Montgomery Ward

Ward was, along with Al Spalding, one of the first impresarios of professional baseball: a player (both pitching and playing the field), businessman, lawyer, and manager. His book, Base-Ball: How to Become a Player, With the Origin, History and Explanation of the Game, is available for free at Project Gutenberg, here: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/19975

Published in: Uncategorized on July 20, 2021 at 2:14 pm  Comments (1)  

MLB Attendance So Far in 2021

The Rangers are averaging 25,570 per game; the Blue Jays, 1,497. That’s the gap between 1st and 30th. The Astros are 2nd in attendance, 18,533; the Braves, who just started allowing full-capacity crowds, are 3rd, 17,733. The per-game average across MLB is a bit under 10,000.
Published in: Uncategorized on May 9, 2021 at 2:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Completing the MLB Jobs Circuit

Bucky Walters was one of the 1920s to 1950s pitchers who had a long career, won about 200 games with an unremarkable win-loss percentage, and is little remembered today. In Walters’ case, this is despite him winning the National League MVP award in 1939. The purpose of this post is to highlight that Walters, in the course of his life in major league baseball, did a circuit of the available jobs on the field. The circuit is: coach, umpire, manager, infielder, outfielder, pitcher.

Walters began as a position player, mostly third base but also a smattering of games at second base and the outfield, became a pitcher, umpired two games in 1942 and 1947, presumably as an emergency fill-in when a regular umpire fell sick or missed a train, then managed the Reds for a year and a half, in 1948 and 1949, and then was a coach for three different National League teams in the 1950s. Here are links to his Retrosheet page and SABR biography:
https://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/W/Pwaltb102.htm

Bucky Walters

Published in: Uncategorized on March 1, 2021 at 11:16 am  Leave a Comment  

The 1986 Chicago Cubs

A post on this blog talked about Jamie Moyer and Greg Maddux on the 1986 AAA Iowa Cubs. Moyer and Maddux would pitch nearly 120 innings for the big league team in 1986. What’s intriguing about the ’86 Cubs is the array of top-level talent on a team that went 70-90. Here is a list of notable position players at Wrigley that year:

Jody Davis
Leon Durham
Ryne Sandberg
Ron Cey
Shawon Dunston
Gary Matthews
Keith Moreland
Davey Lopes
Chris Speier
Manny Trillo
Rafael Palmeiro

And pitchers:

Dennis Eckersley
Rick Sutcliffe
Scott Sanderson
Moyer
Maddux
Lee Smith

Published in: Uncategorized on February 1, 2021 at 6:40 pm  Comments (2)  

A Reading Suggestion

You may have heard of Christy Mathewson’s book, Pitching in a Pinch. It is a worthwhile look at major league baseball in the early 1910s, seen from the perspective of perhaps the greatest pitcher of that time. You can read it on Project Gutenberg, at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/33291/33291-h/33291-h.htm

Published in: Uncategorized on January 1, 2021 at 2:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

Landmark MLB Seasons at 40-Year Intervals

Major league baseball has had landmark seasons at 40-year intervals, starting with 1901, when the American League began. Here are the next three intervals:

1941: Pearl Harbor. It happened after the season was over, but some players had already joined the military. Baseball, of course, wasn’t the same after the war.

1981: The strike: an unprecedented, lengthy mid-season work stoppage. One of the impacts was establishing the precedent of a division playoff series, though in a different form than the series that began in 1995.

2021, whatever it will be like, probably will be another landmark season.

The point here is not to propose that professional baseball is governed by 40-year cycles. It’s to note these years as food for thought, to consider them and how MLB changed over each 40-year period.

Published in: Uncategorized on December 11, 2020 at 8:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Roger Maris After Baseball

Maris got a major distributorship for Budweiser in Florida that began right after his playing career ended. He operated the distributorship for longer than he was an MLB player, and it might be a bigger legacy than his baseball career. His family had a long legal battle with Anheuser-Busch after he died, and settled the battle over the distributorship for a sum that was much larger than what Maris had earned playing baseball.

Here are two links to news stories about the battle:
https://www.gainesville.com/article/LK/20050824/News/604167117/GS
https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2005-aug-24-fi-maris24-story.html

Published in: Uncategorized on December 1, 2020 at 5:02 pm  Comments (1)  

Independent Baseball in 2020

At least a couple independent leagues had a baseball season this year, with curtailed schedules and fewer than normal teams. The American Association just wound up its season with the Milwaukee Milkmen winning the title in a roughly 60-game season. Six teams in the upper Midwest, and Winnipeg. This is an account of the season’s final game:
https://www.argusleader.com/story/sports/minor-league/canaries/2020/09/18/2020-canaries-covid-shortened-season-highlighted-return-playoffs/3490692001/

The Pecos League had a roughly 30-game season that ended about a month ago, with four teams playing, in the Southwest. Tucson won that title:
http://minorleaguesportsreport.com/index.php/caffery-homers-twice-as-saguaros-win-pecos-league-title/

Published in: Uncategorized on September 23, 2020 at 11:26 am  Leave a Comment  

Celebrating an Absent Championship

If MLB’s current regime for the 2020 season remains unchanged, the World Series winner this year will have not played a single game before a live audience. What will the lack of fans do to the tangibility (perhaps legitimacy is a better word) of this season?

For the World Series winner, presumably there will be no victory parade, perhaps not any kind of ceremony that’s open to the public.
Published in: Uncategorized on August 20, 2020 at 1:06 pm  Comments (1)