Saturday, May 16, 2015

First American League Night Game May 16, 1939

On This Day in Baseball History May 16, 1939: The first American League night game took place at Philadelphia's Shibe Park when Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics hosted the Cleveland Indians in front of 15,109 fans.

The game would go into the 10th inning tied 3-3 until the Indians broke the game open with five runs in the top of the 10th. The Tribe would win the game by a score of 8-3.

The Athletics would become only the third MLB franchise to host a game under the lights after the Cincinnati Reds who were the first on May 24, 1935 and the Brooklyn Dodgers on June 15, 1938, which is significant in Baseball history as being the night when Cincinnati Reds pitcher Johnny Vandermeer threw his second consecutive no-hitter.

It is believed that the first professional Baseball game under the light took place on May 2, 1930, when the Des Moines, Iowa, team hosted Wichita for a Western League game. Many minor league teams would use lights to play night games five years before the majors in an attempt to stay viable during the Great Depression.

Here is the box score to the May 16, 1939 night game between the Cleveland Indians and the Philadelphia Athletics:

It really is amazing to think of a time where Baseball games were played primarily during the daytime. Aside from the Cubs who still play the majority of their home games during the day, we take it for granted today that the majority of the games are played under the lights. And with the profit margins leaning higher during night games, I don't see MLB teams playing less games at night and more during the day, especially during the week.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

Friday, May 15, 2015

The White Sox Play the First of Nine Home Games in Milwaukee May 15 1968

On This Day in Baseball History May 15, 1968: The first American League game played in Milwaukee since the Milwaukee Brewers finished in last place in 1901 with a 48-89 record is a 4-2 win by the California Angels against Chicago White Sox before 23,403 fans. This game was the first of nine home games that the Chisox would play at Milwaukee County Stadium which stood empty with the departure of the beloved Milwaukee Braves to the greener pastures of Atlanta.

Now, when I saw this historical tidbit, I had to do a double take. I had no clue that the White Sox played "home" games in Milwaukee. I immediately thought of the Brooklyn Dodgers playing "home" games in Jersey City during the 1957 season right before their departure to Los Angeles after that season. So that got me thinking: Were the White Sox on the verge of leaving Chicago? The article A short history of the Milwaukee White Sox by Frank Jackson from the Hardball Times dated March 27, 2013 does a wonderful job describing the factors that led to the White Sox playing home games in Milwaukee not only in 1968 but also in 1969. So please go and read that post. But for simplicity sake, here goes a short synopsis.

Milwaukee was the first city to gain a major league city in 50-years when the National League's Boston Braves left the Beantown for Brew City right before of the start of the 1952 season. The Braves proved successful with two World Series appearances against the New York Yankees (1957-1958) with one World Championship in 1957. The Braves drew record crowds at first but attendance would decline even though the team never put up a losing record. Also keep in mind that by playing in Milwaukee, the team had issues earning revenue from the established medium of radio and growing medium of television. Being only 90 miles from two major league franchises in the second city of Chicago resulted in the lack of media opportunities and minimal media revenues.

That would change in 1965 when the city of Atlanta came in with a classic example of boosterism to woo the recently changed ownership of the Braves. For those of you who don't know what boosterism is, according to, boosterism is the action or policy of enthusiastically promoting something, as a city, product, or way of life.

The city of Atlanta offered an untapped major league viable market playing in a municipally owned state of the art stadium. Consider that unlike Milwaukee who was close in proximity to Chicago, in 1965 the nearest major league franchises to Atlanta were Cincinnati at roughly 400-miles away to the North, Washington D.C. at roughly 600-miles to the Northeast and the St. Louis Cardinals at roughly 500-miles away to the West. The Braves would be the Southern most franchise on the East Coast, since Florida was the home of Spring Training. The Marlins and Rays wouldn't become MLB franchises until the 1990's. The lure of an wide open market with no media competition (the Braves would later enjoy nationwide exposure with the broadcast of Braves games on cable TV on channel TBS) was an offer too good for the Braves ownership to pass up. This produced a problem in Milwaukee.

The team was to move for the 1965 season but was held up due to a lawsuit brought about by a group led by a Milwaukee car dealer by the name of Allen H "Bud" Selig. The lawsuit delayed the inevitable by a season leaving Milwaukee team-less in 1966. Selig believed that the next round of expansion in MLB would lead to Milwaukee getting another team. In order to Selig was able to organize an exhibition game between the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox at Milwaukee County Stadium on July 24, 1967 which drew over 51,000 spectators to show that Milwaukee was major league town. Unfortunately, MLB would expand into Kansas City, Montreal, San Diego and Seattle for the 1969 season. Going back to the "home" games for the Chisox in Milwaukee, Selig looked into moving the White Sox to Brew City.

As we know, the White Sox never left the South Side of Chicago. Ownership of the team remained in the hands of those who had no interest in moving the team. Selig's persistence would result in the purchase of the bankrupt Seattle Pilots right after the end of Spring Training of 1970 and the Pilots became the Milwaukee Brewers in time for the 1970 season. For more information on the Seattle Pilots, check out Mike Fuller's and don't forget to check out the aforementioned A short history of the Milwaukee White Sox by Frank Jackson from the Hardball Times dated March 27, 2013 for more information on the Chicago White Sox "home" series in Milwaukee.

With the movement to have Montreal get a second shot at a Major League team and rumors of the Rays potentially having to leave Tampa to stay viable, what city/cities would be a viable place for a move and/or expansion. Anyone want to take a guess?

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- The Milwaukee White Sox by Gene Mueller from the WISports website dated July 29, 2014
- Back when Milwaukee made goo-goo eyes at the Chicago White Sox by Gene Mueller from the Newsradio 620 WMTJ website dated June 24, 2012

Monday, May 11, 2015

Ted Turner Manages the Atlanta Braves May 11, 1977

On This Day in Baseball History May 11, 1977: Atlanta Braves owner and media mogul Ted Turner takes over the reins as manager of the team that he owns surprising everyone in Baseball including his own players. Why did he do it? Turner felt that he wanted a first hand look as to why things were going bad for the team he owned which was in the midst of a 16-game losing streak. In doing so, he told manager Dave Bristol to take 10 days off to go on a scouting trip. Naturally this didn't go over well with the powers that be: National League President Chubb Feeney and MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn.

The team would extend their losing streak to 17-games with a 2-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in Turner's managerial debut. In order to avoid Turner managing the team for a second consecutive game, Feeney would turn to the rule book to stop Turner. According to the article Turner Barred as Manager But Sees Team Triumph, 6-1 by Murray Chass from the New York Times dated May 13, 1977:
The rule, Major League Rule 20, section "e" says, "No manager or player on a club shall directly or indirectly own stock on any other proprietary interest or have any financial interest in the club by which he is employed except under an agreement approved by the commissioner..."
Turner would ask Feeney to get approval from Commissioner Kuhn. Not surprisingly, both Turner and Kuhn had butted heads during Turner's brief tenure as owner of the Braves. Turner had been found to violate free-agency rules in the attempt to sign Gary Matthews, which had led to a one-year suspension and a lawsuit filed by Turner that put a stay on the suspension. So on the backdrop of that contentious relationship, does anyone think that Kuhn would grant Turner an exemption allowing "Billionaire Ted" to manage the Braves? Kuhn tells Turner: NO DEAL.

According to the article Kuhn Decides Against Turner from the New York Times dated May 14, 1977:
"I am satisfied," Kuhn said in a statement late yesterday afternoon, "that Mr. Feeney's disapproval of the Turner coach's contract should stand. Given Mr. Turner's lack of familiarity with game operations, I do not think it is in the best interest of baseball for Mr. Turner to serve in the requested capacity." Later Turner said Bristol would return as manager today.
So what did Turner think of his banishment to the owner's box? According to the article None of the Braves by Rod Smith in his Sports of the Times column of the New York Times dated May 15, 1977:
Turner was understandably aggrieved. "If Walter O'Malley wanted to manage the Dodgers," he said "they wouldn't stop him. Would they?" 
Probably not, but Walter is one of the good old boys who Kuhn seldom, if ever, tells what to do. Turner is a fresh punk who would be under suspension now if a judge in Atlanta hadn't intervened.
And the banishment of Turner brought the team back to their losing ways with a 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. Maybe Turner should have stayed. Wouldn't have been any worse than Bristol. No?

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- The night Ted Turner managed the Braves by Doug Williams from dated May 23, 2013

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Lou Gehrig's 2,130 Consecutive Game Streak Ends May 2, 1939

On This Day in History May 2, 1939: New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig's streak of 2,130 consecutive games played which began on June 1, 1925, came to an end when the ailing slugger removed himself from the lineup. Gehrig was replaced at first base by Babe Dahlgren.

The article Gehrig Voluntarily Ends Streak at 2,130 Straight Games by James P. Dawson from the New York Times dated May 3, 1939 quotes Gehrig:
Gehrig visibly affected explained his decision, quite frankly.
Gehrig and Dahlgren
"I decided last Sunday night on this move," said Lou. "I haven't been a bit of good to the team since the season started. It would not be fair to the boys, to Joe or to the baseball public for me to try going on. In fact, it would not be fair to myself, and I am the last consideration.
"Its tough to see your mates on base, have a chance to win a ball game, and not be able to do anything about it. McCarthy has been swell about it all the time. He'd let me go until the cows came home, he is that considerate of my feelings, but I knew in Sunday's game that I should get out of there. 
"I went up there four times with men on base. Once there were two there. A hit would have won the game for the Yankees, but I missed, leaving five stranded as the Yankees lost. Maybe a rest will do me some good. Maybe it won't. Who knows? Who can tell? I'm just hoping."
It is refreshing to see a professional athlete come right out and say that they can't do it anymore and to continue to do so would provide a disservice to the team and the paying public. It is even more refreshing to read about Gehrig putting everyone ahead of himself which contrasts highly to today's "Me Me Me" environment we find ourselves living it. It makes you wonder how the media would have treated Gehrig's decline in he had played today.

Gehrig would not play another game after his last game on April 30, 1939. Gehrig would be the diagnosed with the disease that would bear his name, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) on June 19th, which was Gehrig's 36th birthday. Gehrig would succumb to the disease less than two years later on June 2, 1941.

The game of Baseball would never be the same.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- The official website for Lou Gehrig
- Lou Gehrig's official statistics from Baseball Reference

Friday, May 1, 2015

Brooklyn Robins vs. Boston Braves Play To A 1-1 Tie May 1, 1920

On This Day in Baseball History May 1, 1920: The Brooklyn Robins (aka Brooklyn Dodgers) play the Boston Braves to a 1-1 tie at Braves Field in Boston. Why is this game significant? Well, the two starters of the game Brooklyn's Leon Cadore and the Braves' Joe Oeschger pitched against each other for 26-innings. Yes, you read that correctly: 26-INNINGS!!!

The game was called at the end of the 26th inning due to darkness. Remember folks, that in 1920 there were still no night games since lights had yet to be installed in Baseball fields. Though the game is considered the longest game in MLB history in terms of innings played, the game pales in comparison to today's games in terms of time. The game took only 3:50 for 26-innings to be played. The Yankees/Red Sox matchups can barely finish a game in nine innings in that short amount of time, let alone squeeze in 26-innings.

I love how the article BROOKLYN AND BOSTON BREAK BIG LEAGUE RECORD BY BATTLING FOR TWENTY-SIX INNINGS from the New York Times dated May 2, 1920 described the game in its first paragraph:
The Robins and the Braves celebrated May Day in this ordinarily peaceful city by staging a prolonged, heart-breaking struggle for twenty-six innings at Braves Field and bombing to bits all major league records for duration of hostilities. When darkness drew its mantle over the scene, forbidding further battle, both teams were still on their feet, interlocked in a death clutch and each praying for one more inning in which to get the knockout blow. 
As far as results in the chase for the pennant go the game was without effect, for the final score was 1 to 1. In the matter of thrills however, the oldest living man can remember nothing like it, nor can he find anything like it in his granddad's diary worth of comparison. Heart disease was the mildest complaint that grasped the spectators as they watched inning after inning slip away and the row of ciphers on the scoreboard began to slip over the fence and reach out into the Fenway. Nervous prostration threatened to engulf the stands as the twentieth inning passed away in the scoreless routine and the word was passed from the knowing fans to those of inferior baseball erudition that the National League record was twenty-two innings, the Robins having beat the Pirates by 6 to 5 in a game of that length played in Brooklyn on August 22, 1917...
Now the old-timers in the stands began to whisper to each other with tense facos that the big-league record was twenty-four innings, established in an American League game in the Hub on Sept. 1, 1906, on which occasion the Athletics downed the Red Sox by a tally of 4 to 1. The Robins and the Braves didn't care. They didn't even know it. They simply went along in their sublime ignorance and tied this record, then smashed it, and by way of emphasis tacked on a twenty-sixth session.
Now that one interesting way to describe this game. There is no way that in today's game we'll see a twenty-six or more inning game, being played in less than four hours WITH both starting pitchers finishing the game. No way. Well, maybe as part of Strat-o-Matic. If any of you out there do it in any gaming platform, let me know.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- The Boxscore of the Brooklyn Robins vs. Boston Braves played on May 1, 1920 from Baseball Reference
- 8 Longest MLB Games Ever Played by Matt Reevy from the Sports Cheat Sheet dated April 14, 2015

Jimmie Foxx Debuts May 1, 1925

On This Day in Baseball History May 1, 1925: At the age of 17, Future Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx makes his debut for the Philadelphia Athletics. In the game against the Washington Senators at Griffith Stadium, Foxx pinch-hits for pitcher Lefty Grove and has a hit in his first major league at-bat.

Foxx would only appear in 10-games in the 1925 season and play parts of the 1926 and 1927 seasons before becoming a regular player and feared slugger for the A's and the Boston Red Sox.

Here is the boxscore for Jimmie Foxx's debut from the May 2, 1925 edition of the New York Times.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- The Boxscore for the May 1, 1925 matchup of the Philadelphia Athletics and the Washington Senators
- Click here for Jimmie Foxx's career statistics from Baseball Reference
- Jimmie Foxx by John Bennett from the SABR Baseball Biography Project
- Jimmie Foxx page from the National Baseball Hall of Fame website

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Willie Mays Hits Four Round-Trippers In One Game April 30, 1961

On This Day in Baseball History April 30, 1961: Facing the Milwaukee Braves for the third consecutive game and looking down the barrel of an 0-7 slump, San Francisco Giants outfielder Willie Mays broke out of his slump with force. Mays became the ninth player (at the time) to hit four homeruns in one game. In clubbing the Braves with four homeruns, Mays drove in eight runs while homering in the first and third off Lew Burdett, in the sixth off of Seth Morehead and in the eighth inning off of Don McMahon. The opportunity to hit a fifth homerun in the game was oh so close for Mays but he would be stranded on the on-deck circle as the last out of the ninth of at 14-4 game was made by Jim Davenport.

In the article Mays, 0 for 7 Against Braves, Feared Slump Would Continue from the New York Times dated May 1, 1961 was quoted as saying the following of his achievement:
"I don't know what happened to me," he said afterwards. "When the game started, I didn't feel I would come out of my slump. But on my first time at-bat, I was seeing the ball better. No, I didn't use a different bat." 
"When you hit two homers in a game that's something you don't expect anymore," Mays said. "Hitting four is hard to believe!" 
He admitted that he "might have pressed" if he had gotten another time at bat in the ninth, knowing that he could break the record 
No player has ever hit five homeruns in a game. Here is the list of the players (and dates) that hit four homers in a game before and after Willie Mays did it on April 30, 1961
  1. Bobby Lowe (05-30-1894)
  2. Ed Delahanty HOF (07-13-1896)
  3. Lou Gehrig HOF (06-03-1932)
  4. Chuck Klein HOF (07-10-1936)
  5. Pat Seerey (07-18-1948)
  6. Gil Hodges (08-31-1950)
  7. Joe Adcock (07-31-1954)
  8. Rocky Colavito (06-10-1959)
  9. Willie Mays HOF (04-30-1961)
  10. Mike Schmidt HOF (04-17-1976)
  11. Bob Horner (07-06-1986)
  12. Mark Whiten (09-07-1993)
  13. Mike Cameron (05-02-2002)
  14. Shawn Green (05-23-2002)
  15. Carlos Delgado (09-25-2003)
  16. Josh Hamilton (05-08-2012)
The article #TBT: Mays hits 4 home runs in one game by Chris Haft of has a series of anecdotes from some of Mays' teammates at the time including Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda about the four home run game.

Here is the boxscore for the April 30, 1961 game between the San Francisco Giants and the Milwaukee Braves from the New York Times dated May 1, 1961.

With the current power outage in MLB post-PED's, who do you think will be the next player to hit four homeruns in a game. Mike Trout? Nelson Cruz? Giancarlo Santon? We'll have to see if, and when, that happens.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- The Boxscore for the April 30, 1961 matchup between the San Francisco Giants and the Milwaukee Braves from Baseball Reference