Sunday, April 15, 2018

Jackie Robinson Was NOT The First Black to Play in MLB April 15, 2018

I've noticed on many a post on various social media outlets that we celebrate Jackie Robinson Day because Jackie Robinson was the first black player in MLB.  Now, before I get jumped on for my statement, its true. Jackie Robinson was NOT the first black player in MLB. And nothing of what I will say is disparaging what Jackie went through and what Jackie did in 1947 and the years after. I'll go into what Jackie Robinson WAS the first to do in the next paragraph or two.

Now, the honor and distinction of who was the first black player in MLB depends on whom you talk to. Many Baseball experts and historians give that honor to Moses "Fleetwood" Walker. Walker was a catcher who played for the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association during the 1884 season. Walker played for a total of 42 games that season. Another name that comes up is William Edward White who was known as Bill White. White played for the Providence Grays of the National League for just one single game, getting a hit and scoring a run. Other names that come up are Bud Fowler, Frank Grant and Sol White. But generally, Moses Walker is deemed to be the first black player in MLB before the enactment of the so called "Gentlemen's Agreement." Before I go into Jackie Robinson, I wanted to shed some light on what the "Gentleman's Agreement" entailed.

To put it simply, the "Gentlemen's Agreement" barred black and colored players from playing in organized baseball that was affiliated with the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues. This included teams on the Major, Minor and even the independent level. This opened the door for the rise of the Negro Leagues and the integration of many an international league throughout Latin America. This is where Jackie Robinson comes in.

Jackie was the first black player to break the color line created by the "Gentleman's Agreement." By his taking the field on April 15, 1947 and being subjected to the vitriol and hatred by many a fan and fellow ballplayer, Jackie broke down the ignorant color line that kept black players from playing in the Majors since the 1880s. To say he was the first ever is inaccurate. But the first since the segregation of the Majors? That is correct. There is a difference. Just wanted to clarify what the difference was.

Thank you Jackie Robinson for your courage, poise, bravery and strength during those trying days when you helped to bring about change within an unjust and ignorant system. Thank you to Moses "Fleetwood" Walker, William Edward White, Frank Grant, Bud Fowler, Sol White and any other black pioneers lost to time.

For Further Reading:

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Roberto Osuna Youngest to 100 Saves April 9, 2018

Toronto Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna, age 23 became the fastest to 100 saves with his save of the Blue Jays 2-1 victory against the Baltimore Orioles. Before Osuna broke the record, the youngest pitcher to 100 saves was Francisco Rodriguez at the age of 24 when he pitched for the Anaheim Angels.

Osuna is almost a year younger than Rodriguez was when he reached 100 saves. How far can Osuna go on the saves list? Only time will tell

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco
#BaseballSisco
#BaseballSiscoKidStyle

For Further Reading:



Saturday, April 7, 2018

So Far Shohei Ohtani Is The Real Deal April 7, 2018

The Angels' two-way star Shohei Ohtani is making the Angels look good so far. Now granted its only one week into the 2018 season, but Ohtani's performance is making the Angels decision to sign him look like a wise one. 

Aside from his victory in his pitching debut against the Oakland A's, in four starts as a DH, Ohtani has batted 7 for 18 with a .389 batting average with three homers and seven RBIs. Ohtani has homered in three consecutive days to boot. 

Its amazing to see how ingrained certain roles in Baseball are. The game hasn't seen a two-way player since the great Babe Ruth and with Ohtani's performance, the comparisons with Ruth continue. For example, According to the article Ohtani homers in third straight, helps Halos rally by Maria Guardado from MLB.com, Ohtani is the first American League player to homer in three straight games in the same season since he started a game since Babe Ruth did so in 1930.

And according to the article Ohtani joins exclusive company with 3rd HR in first four games by Yardbarker, Ohtani is also the sixth rookie to his three homeruns in his first four games joining Mike Jacobs, Trent Oeltjen, Yoenis Cespedes, Trey Mancini and Trevor Story. 

Ohtani has quickly made himself a fan favorite in Orange County. His second start comes against the Oakland A's, who defeated on he pitched six innings allowing seven hits (one homer) with six strikeouts and one walk. Let's see if he can continue making the Angels brass look good.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco
#BaseballSisco
#BaseballSiscoKidStyle


For Further Reading:

Friday, April 6, 2018

Adrián Beltré Makes History...Again April 6, 2018

Texas Rangers 3B Adrián Beltré made history once again during yesterday's game against the Oakland A's. With his 2 for 3 performance, Beltré passed Hall of Famer Rod Carew with his career hit number 3,054. In doing so, Beltré became the player born in Latin America with most career hits. Beltré was born in the Dominican Republic while Carew was born in Panama. But Beltré's history making didn't end there. 


With his second hit of the game, Beltré tied another Hall of Famer on the All-Time Hits list. This time, he stood side by side with Rickey Henderson. Both players are on the list with 3,055 hits. Hall of Famer Craig Biggio sits just ahead with 3,060 hits. Now here is where the fun really begins.

In front of Biggio is Seattle Mariners outfielder (and future Hall of Famer) Ichiro Suziki. Ichiro currently has 3, 082 hits and is the player who has most career hits that was born in a foreign country. Plus add to the 3,000 hit mix is Los Angeles Angeles (I almost typed California and Anaheim before finally typing Los Angeles, LOL) 1B/DH Albert Pujols. Pujols, who like Ichiro and Beltré is a future Hall of Famer, currently sits at 2,975 career hits. 


It is also conceivable that a 200 hit season puts Beltré at 14th on the list just past Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, who sits at 3,184 hits. The 2018 season is shaping up nicely as a race within the 3,000 hit club.

After Pujols, where do we sit in terms of current players on the cusp of the 3,000 club. You have Detroit Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera with 2,643 hits and Seattle Mariners 2B Robinson Cano with 2,386 hits. After that, it'll be a while before we have a discussion about who might be next to reach the 3,000 hit club.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco
#BaseballSisco
#BaseballSiscoKidStyle

For Further Reading:

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Who Was Walt Bond April 1, 2018

With the news that 6'7" Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees was playing Centerfield against the Blue Jays this past Saturday, it was reported that Judge would break the record for tallest Centerfielder. The previously tallest player to play CF was Walt Bond (October 19, 1937 - September 14, 1967.). It got me thinking, I can't say that I had ever heard about Walt Bond. What I found out about him was very tragic.

Bond played in the majors from 1960 to 1967. He would play first base and the outfield for the Cleveland Indians from 1960-1962, Houston Colt 45's/Astros from 1964-1965 and the Minnesota Twins in 1967. Bond's best season came in 1964 when he his .254 with 20 Homers and 85 RBIs in 147 games with the Colt 45's. So what happened to Walt Bond?

While serving in the Army, Bond was diagnosed with Leukemia. He would fight Leukemia throughout his baseball career, eventually dying from the illness on September 14, 1967 at the young age of 29.

Its a shame to hear about a ballplayer being taken so young due to illness. At least with Aaron Judge playing in CF this past Saturday, a small measure of light was shed on the short career of Walt Bond. May you continue to Rest in Peace Walt Bond.

For Further Reading:

- Walt Bond's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Walt Bond Dies at the age of 29 from the Morning Record dated September 15, 1967

Sunday, May 29, 2016

MLB's Anti-Trust Exemption Granted May 29, 1922

On This Day in Baseball History May 29, 1922: In the case Federal Baseball Club v. National League, 259 U.S. 200 (1922) aka Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore, Inc. v. National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, The United States Supreme Court rules that organized baseball is a sport and not a business, which exempts major league clubs from antitrust laws and interstate commerce rules.

The case came about due to the attempts to start a third Major League in the form of the Federal League which was in operation from 1913-1915. Many of the Federal League clubs were bought out by the National and American Leagues with the exception of the Baltimore franchise of the Federal League. The city of Baltimore had prior experience with both National and American leagues in the past.

The Baltimore Orioles played in the National League from 1882-1899 and although they were very successful, the team was contracted when the N.L. went from a 12-team league to an 8-team league in 1899. Baltimore once again became a Major League city in Ban Johnson's new American League that began operations in 1901 as direct competition to the National League. As part of the agreement between the two leagues after hostilities ended, the American League was allowed to have a team play in the New York City market. Tammany Hall politicians, Frank J. Farrell and William Stephen Devery purchased the rights to the New York A.L. market and the Baltimore A.L. team (also known as the Orioles) was moved to New York City becoming the Highlanders and later the Yankees. Aside from the Federal League team that played in Baltimore from 1913-1915, the city of Baltimore would not beome a Major League city again until the St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore for the 1954 season, adopting the Orioles moniker for the team. Back to the Federal's lawsuit.

The Federal League brought an anti-trust lawsuit during the offseason of 1914-1915 due to the attempts of both the National and American leagues to derail the advances made by the Federals via a monopolization of Baseball by the two established leagues. After years of legal wrangling and maneuvers, the case was argued on April 19, 1922 and the decision by the court in favor of the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs on May 29, 1922.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes
The decision, given by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, was summarized on the Justia website as follows:
1. The business of providing public baseball games for profit between clubs of professional baseball players in a league and between clubs of rival leagues, although necessarily involving the constantly repeated traveling of the players from one state to another, provided for, controlled, and disciplined by the organizations employing them, is not interstate commerce. P. 259 U. S. 208.
2. Held that an action for triple damages under the Anti-Trust Acts could not be maintained by a baseball club against baseball leagues and their constituent clubs, joined with individuals, for an alleged conspiracy to monopolize the baseball business resulting injuriously to the plaintiff. P. 259 U. S. 209.
269 F. 681, 50 App.D.C. 165, affirmed.
Error to a judgment of the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia reversing a judgment for triple damages under the Anti-Trust Acts recovered by the
Page 259 U. S. 201
plaintiff in error in the Supreme Court of the District and directing that judgment be entered for the defendants.
Page 259 U. S. 207
The verdict has pretty much given Professional Baseball a free hand to do what it wanted though their power has slowly eroded due to the results stemming from the Flood v. Kuhn (407 U.S. 258) case. Though the decision in that case upheld MLB's anti-trust exemption by 5-3, it helped to usher in the era of free agency for the players.

Why did the U.S. Supreme Court and Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1922 decide in favor of the league, thereby giving them a free pass in terms of antitrust legislation? Since I am not an expert in law and legislation, I can't answer that. Maybe the Justices of the U.S.S.C. didn't realize how much of a money maker Baseball would become in the future? Perhaps they believed as many did at the time, even after the Black Sox scandal, in the purity and sanctity of Baseball being America's pastime and a sport and not being a money making endevour? Perhaps I can get more insight from a few friends of mine who are lawyers. I'll revisit this when I get more information.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco
#baseballsisco
#baseballsiscokidstyle

For Further Reading:




Monday, May 23, 2016

Random Thoughts on an Article From May 24, 1991

Sometimes you come across an article in an old newspaper that catches your eye. The article It's a Thrill Every Minute With Sax at Third Base by Michael Martinez of the New York Times dated May 24, 1991 did just that with me. The New York Yankees of the early 1990′s were a horrible bunch and the 1991 Yankees were no exception finishing the season with a 71-91 record. A couple of things in this article stood out to me.

First is the list of players that played the hot corner for the Yankees after they traded Graig Nettles in 1984. Looking at the list to the right, in eight seasons, they had 29 different players at third base, including Dave Winfield. What the hell was Lou Piniella thinking putting Dave Winfield at third for two games in 1986. Even I, as a lifelong Yankees have no idea who Mike O'Berry, Jeff Moronko and Leo Hernandez are, let alone when they played third for the Yankees. But I digress.

The list shows how truly valuable a player the caliber of Graig Nettles was to the Yankees from the mid 1970′s to 1984. It also makes you wonder why Graig Nettles isn’t in the Hall of Fame. He was arguably the best defensive third baseman since Brooks Robinson and though he wasn’t the kind of hitter that Mike Schmidt and George Brett were, he wasn’t too shabby either. I guess people can point to his .248 batting average as to a reason why he wasn’t inducted to the Hall but I challenge anyone to point to a better third baseman than Nettles after Robinson, Schmidt and Brett. And if you say Buddy Bell, I’d take a one armed Nettles over Bell anyday.


The second thing that I noted was the subject of the article: Steve Sax. Even today, I wonder what the hell happened to Steve Sax. That guy was money with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sax was the 1982 NL Rookie of the Year and played in 150 games or more in five out of his eight seasons with L.A. He was durable as well for the Yankees. In his three seasons with the Yankees, he only missed 15 games in three seasons. But for whatever reasons, he just seemed to stop being able to field the ball at second base.

While not a Gold Glove winner for the Dodgers, thanks to Ryan Sandberg who owned all the N.L. Gold Glove awards from 1983-1991, Sax was a solid second baseman. Solid enough that the Yankees let long time Yankee Willie Randolph leave via free agency. Ironically, Randolph would replace his replacement on the Yankees in Los Angeles. Offensively he was everything the Yankees expected to get, but Sax just seemed to forget how to play second base. I wouldn't quite say he had the "yips" but he had so many troubles that the Yankees brought up Pat Kelly from AAA in 1991 to play second and moved Sax to third.

Sax would be sent to the Chicago White Sox in the offseason for Domingo Jean, Melido Perez and Bob Wickman. He would never regain his stride having retired after the strike season of 1994.

I know New York is a tough place to play, especially while wearing the Yankees pinstripes. But here is an example of how one player could overcome the madness in the Bronx to arguably become a Hall of Famer and a player who showed tons of potential upon his arrival to the Bronx, just became a shell of the player we was.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco
#baseballsisco
#baseballsiscokidstyle

For Further Reading: