“To Hell With Babe Ruth”

You might have wondered about the veracity of the story that Japanese troops said this when fighting U.S. soldiers in the Pacific theater during World War II. This isn’t quite confirmation, but the below image of a snippet from Time magazine’s March 20, 1944 issue lends the story a fair amount of credibility.

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Published in: Uncategorized on July 25, 2015 at 9:10 pm  Comments (3)  

Some Notes From Bill Mazeroski’s Baseball 1998 Preview

I got a copy of Bill Mazeroski’s Baseball 1998. It’s always easy to go through these kinds of sports previews and make fun of their faulty predictions-Maz et al tabbed the Yankees as the A.L.’s “team on the slide”-and I won’t present any more of those. But, here are a few other noteworthy items in the magazine. This, on Sammy Sosa:

“The Cubbies signed Sammy Sosa to a four-year, $42.5-million contract. The loud clang heard around baseball was the owners collectively fainting. Is this the same rightfielder who has a .257 lifetime average and one 40-home run season? During the summer, manager Jim Riggleman gave Sosa the take sign on a 3-1 count. He swung. “If you care more about the damn 30-30 club, you can sit on the bench.” One of the raps on Sammy has always been his interest in personal stats rather than the team in general.”

From an article on a radical realignment plan: in 1997, “the boys [owners, including Bud Selig] were trying to dismantle the game we love and turn it into the NBA. No less than 15 teams were going to change leagues; there would be no American League teams on the West Coast. Too radical. OK, seven teams change leagues. Maybe next year…OK, one team from the AL goes to the NL, and we’ll call it even.”

Also, Don Mattingly retired only at the start of the ’97 season, when he “realized his constant back pain would not permit a return to the game, and hung up his number 23.”

Published in: Uncategorized on July 14, 2015 at 10:40 am  Comments (4)  

The A’s Moving to Denver in 1978

I’d heard about various near-moves of the Oakland A’s and S.F. Giants in the ’70s and ’80s, but it was still a surprise to read, in the 1978 Baseball Today preview of the A.L. West, that “the Mile High city now has a major league franchise, thanks to the money of millionaire oilman Marvin Davis of Texas. He purchased the club from financially troubled and physically ailing Charles O. Finley.” Of course, Baseball Today went to press well before the ’78 season started, but they were being daring, to assume the A’s would indeed be sold and moved to Denver, just two and a half years after winning the West at the tail end of their dynasty, and 10 years after starting play in Oakland.

Published in: Uncategorized on July 6, 2015 at 12:22 pm  Comments (4)  

Don Baylor at the Start of His Pro Baseball Career

This is a small photo of Don Baylor, member of the Bluefield, West Virginia Orioles, from the June 23, 1967 Bluefield Telegraph. Notice that, at 18, he already had the look of a man, with a thick neck and stout face. Baylor, who’d just been drafted by the O’s, would do quite well for Bluefield in the summer of ‘67 as he started his way up to Baltimore.
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Published in: Uncategorized on June 20, 2015 at 1:59 pm  Comments (3)  

Excerpts From the 1990-1993 Uniform Player’s Contract for MLB

I recently bought a copy of the labor agreement MLB reached in 1990 to end that year’s lockout. It’s about 100 pages long, in a spiral notebook. Here are two excerpts from the player’s contract that’s printed near the end of the agreement:

Loyalty
The Player agrees to perform his services hereunder diligently and faithfully, to keep himself in first-class physical condition and to obey the Club’s training rules, and pledges himself to the American public and to the Club to conform to high standards of personal conduct, fair play and sportsmanship.

Condition
The Player represents that he has no physical or mental defects known to him and unknown to the appropriate representative of the Club which would prevent or impair performance of his services.

Published in: Uncategorized on June 12, 2015 at 7:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dave Winfield’s June 1984

I recently noticed that Dave Winfield had 5 hits in a game on three different occasions in June 1984: pretty dazzling, especially for a guy who didn’t hit for an extremely high average. That led me to look up his game log for the month: he hit 49 for 103, a .476 batting average, playing in only 24 games. Winfield drew only 5 walks, hit 10 doubles, 1 triple, and 2 homers, for a slugging percentage of “just” .650. He scored only 20 runs, and drove in 19, despite the 54 times on base. And he went hitless in 3 games. The 49 hits propelled Winfield to conclude 1984 with a .340 average, three points behind Don Mattingly.

In the summer of 2004, when Ichiro seemed to be getting 2 to 4 hits in every single game, I heard quite a few times about how his 50 hits in a month-he had done it in May of ’04, then did it again in July and August-were, if I remember right, the first time an MLB hitter had reached 50 hits in a month since Pete Rose, or maybe Rod Carew, sometime in the ’70s. Winfield would have done it in June of ’84 (perhaps even reached 60 hits) if he’d played in more than 2 games after June 23, presumably because he tweaked a muscle or had some other minor injury late that month. Instead, he went 5-5 on June 25, then pinch-ran on the 29th in a game vs. the Royals. Winfield got 9 more hits in July’s first 5 games: from May 24 through July 5, he got 70 hits in 36 games, hitting .458 in that time.

Published in: Uncategorized on June 3, 2015 at 1:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

The 1979 Annual Dinner of the Boston Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association

Here is the cover of the program for this dinner, held at a Boston Sheraton in January of ’79, at which awards from the Boston chapter for 1978 were given out. Jim Rice, following his outstanding season, got on the cover:
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You notice, paging through the program, how the chapter, if not quite on the Red Sox’s bandwagon, was quite a ways from showing a hard-bitten, skeptical, cynical attitude. This was not a press corps with a combative attitude toward the Sox. For example, this drawing of Dennis Eckersley, for his choice as Pitcher of the Year, has what looks like a journalist, down at Eck’s feet, saying “Gettin’ him. . . was a great deal. . . thanks Cleveland!”:
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Published in: Uncategorized on May 16, 2015 at 2:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

“I’m a Lefebvre Belebvre!”

The Seattle Mariners issued this bumper sticker in 1989, in hopes that Jim Lefebvre’s personality and energy, and track record of winning as a player with the Dodgers in the ’60s and A’s coach in 1988, would propel the team to new heights in 1989 and beyond. It didn’t really happen: the team edged above .500 for the first time in 1991, but Lefebvre wound up getting fired after that year. Personality conflicts were the reason, I think. The slogan could be tweaked to apply to Justin Bieber as well, though his star seems to have fallen a bit in the past couple years.

 

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Published in: Uncategorized on May 3, 2015 at 9:27 am  Comments (3)  

Whitey Ford Batting in the 1961 World Series

This is a little photo I got from the newspaper archives, of Whitey hitting the dirt after getting hit by a ball he’d foul-tipped off his bat. He was in the midst of extending his scoreless innings pitched in the Series streak, with the Yankees winning game 4, 7-0, before just 32,589 at Crosley Field.

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Published in: Uncategorized on April 23, 2015 at 10:27 am  Comments (1)  

The First Seattle Mariners Media Guide: 1977

This is a small curiosity: the first Mariners media guide pictured the Kingdome prominently on its cover, and told everybody “We can do it together!” 38 years later, the Kingdome is long gone, and the Mariners are still trying to win their first A.L. pennant.

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Published in: Uncategorized on April 11, 2015 at 1:29 pm  Comments (3)  
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