Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ty Cobb Makes His Debut Against The New York Highlanders August 30, 1905

On this day in Baseball History August 30, 1905: Tyrus Raymond Cobb or simply known as Ty Cobb made his major league debut for the Detroit Tigers against Jack Chesbro and the New York Highlanders at Detroit's Bennett Park at the age of 18. Now I could go on and wax poetically about how Cobb faced off against Chesbro in a battle of future Hall of Famers. But you know what, I'll let Mr. Cobb speak for himself on his debut day in the majors. From the pages 17-19 of the book Ty Cobb: My Life in Baseball with Al Stump:
Warming up for the New York Highlanders was the legendary Wee Willie Keeler, onlt 5 feet 4 1/2 inches and 140 pounds, but a placement hitter beyond compare. With his choked-up bottle bat, Keeler had averaged as high as .432. A fourteen-year veteran, he had yet to hit under .300. At second base was the great Kid Elberfield himself. The New York pitcher was Jack Chesbro, the original master of the spitball who'd won a record 41 games the season before. On our side was Wahoo Sam Crawford and Bobby Lowe, first man to hit four home runs in one game. And Germany Schaefer, who stole bases in reverse to demonstrate his genius. Until that day- my first in a big-time park -I'd never dreamed that men could field and hit so wonderfully. Such speed, class, style, speedy maneuvering, and lightning thinking! It seemed miles beyond anything that I could ever do. When the bell rang, I found myself in a duel by artists at the art of extracting every last inch of opportunity from every situation. And they went at it with a red-eyed determination I could not believe. On one play, Kid Elberfield tried to bump Schaefer off his running line as he raced for third, and Germany dumped him on his head for it. "Rowdy Bill" Coughlin, our third baseman, flew at umpire Silk O'Loughlin and was thrown out. Frank Delahanty of New York made a diving, somersaulting catch that left me wide-eyed. Later, Delahanty was carried away after tearing ankle tendons while trying to stretch a double into a triple. He was through for the season.
And in terms of his matchup against Chesbro?
When Chesbro cranked and fired his overhand spitter-loaded with slippery elm-it came up to the plate like a standard fastball, and then took a diabolical dive under your bat.

Armour had me, a babe-in-the-woods, batting fifth in the line-up!

What did they say about me the next day? The Detroit Journal of August 31, 1905, wasted few words: "Cobb, the juvenile outfield from Augusta, made his first appearance and was given a hospitable hand. He comes up to expectation."

The Free Press had a little more to say:

"Cobb got away well. For a young man anxious to get along in the world, it was not an auspicious situation as he faced Mr. Chesbro, the American League's finest twirler. In addition, Tyrus had the bad luck to confront Chesbro on two occasions when two men were out and a man waiting to score-a base hit being the only thing of value. First time up, Chesbro pour two fast strikes past the uneasy lad. But then the Georgian whaled the next one over Eddie Hahn's head and off the center field wall, for a delightful double that scored his man. Second time up he drew a walk and was thrown out stealing. In the field he was adequate
"Tyrus was well-received and may consider a two-ball pry-up a much better career opener than usually comes a young fellow's way."

We beat Chesbro 5-3, and I actually made a clean hit off the meanest delivery in the business. That night I was floating off the ground.
A few things stand out to me from the two italicized passages. One is that I love the use of the word "Twirler" to describe the pitcher. I'm going to try and bring that word back into usage. LOL. Second is how Cobb describes how Chesbro was the master spitballer. Cobb on page 57 goes into what pitchers used to gain mastery in the delivery of the spitter:
Pitchers dosed baseballs with licorice, talcum, slippery elm, and saliva flavored with tobacco until they came at the hitter so discolored that he could hardly pick them out of the shadows
It is always a treat for me to read the exploits of a by-gone era of Baseball History in the words of players that played the game. In today's era of the instant blurb and quip on social media and the 24-hour news cycle on a multitude of sports channels, to reach back into history for the exact feelings of a player such as Cobb is more than I can ever do in placing words down on this blogpost.

Well, there you go. Straight from the Georgia Peach's mouth. Here boxscore for Ty Cobb's debut in the majors August 30, 1905 from the New York Times August 31, 1905.

Regardless of how you personally feel about Cobb, there's no denying that we'll never see a player like him in today's baseball. Some might say thankfully so, but they definitely broke the mold when Cobb was made.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access Ty Cobb's career statistics from Baseball

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Trio of Baseball Highlights on August 29

There were a few things of note that happened in Baseball History on August 29th.

August 29, 1972
San Francisco Giants pitcher Jim Barr retires the first 20 batters he faces in St. Louis against the Cardinals after he had retired the last 21 he retired in his last start against the Pittsburgh Pirates at San Francisco's Candlestick Park for a then major league (Mark Buerhle retired 45 in 2009) and until recently a National League record 41 in a row. Ironically, both the National League and the Major League records for consecutive retired batters in a row was just broken yesterday by Giants starter Yusmeiro Petit who retired 46 consecutive batters before allowing a hit.

For Further Reading:

August 29, 1977
Since I seem to have mentioned St Louis Cardinals speedster Lou Brock as of late, on today's date in 1977, Brock passed Hall of Famer Ty Cobb's 49-year-old career stolen bases record which stood at 893 in a 4-3 loss against the San Diego Padres in San Diego. Brock would finish his career with 938 stolen bases over an 18-year career and would be the All-Time stolen base king until Rickey Henderson would break his record on May 1, 1991.

For Further Reading:

August 29, 1987
Staying with another player that I have seemed to be writing about as of late, Nolan Ryan passes the 200-strikeout barrier for a record 11th time. Ryan set the record for the Houston Astros in a 7-strikeout game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh. Ryan would have another four 200+ strikeout seasons and set the bar at 15 seasons (Angels 7/Astros 5/Rangers 3) with 200+ strikeouts. Out of those 15 seasons, Ryan led the league in strikeouts 11 times. Roger Clemens with 11 and Tom Seaver with 10 are next on the list.

For Further Reading:

Well, these are three events in Baseball History out of probably an unlimited amount of events. As I keep coming across them, I'll keep posting them.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Rickey Henderson Passes Lou Brock With His 119th Stolen Base August 27, 1982

On this day in Baseball history August 27, 1982: Oakland A's speedster Rickey Henderson steals second base on a pitchout against Milwaukee Brewers starter Doc Medich to pass Lou Brock on the single season stolen base list. Brock set his career high of 118 stolen bases in 1974. By the time the game was over, Henderson would steal four bases giving him 122 for the season. Rickey would finish the season with 130 stolen bases.

And here is where things get a little murky.

I grew up thinking that with Rickey Henderson's 119th stolen base, he became the single season stolen base leader. Getting a total of 130 steals for the 1982 season would be the benchmark that many players would have a hard time matching let alone eclipsing. Now, I'm going to ask that you go to either the page for the Single Season Stolen Base Record or the Baseball page for the Single Season Stolen Base Record. Who do you see listed at number 1 on that list. In case you don't want to check out the links, here are a few screenshots

Ok. Still don't believe what you see? Here's one more screenshot, this one from the Baseball Single Season Stolen Base list:

Some of you out there are thinking to yourselves: Who the hell is Hugh Nicol. High Nicol played for the Cincinnati Red Stockings of the old American Association (AA). The AA played alongside the National League from 1882-1891 before merging with the National League. Four National League franchises have roots in the old AA: Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The article American Association remembered: MLB celebrates impact of the 'Beer and Whiskey League' by Mark Sheldon from dated May 2, 2007 states the following which might clarify things a bit:
Only the Cubs and Braves have been continuously in the National League since its 1876 founding. The Reds, Cardinals and Pirates remain NL Central Division foes and have one of sport's longest-lasting rivalries. The Dodgers, who were formed in 1884 as the Atlantics, also started in the American Association. Like the Reds, Brooklyn joined the National League for the 1890 season.

"All of these teams have their roots in the American Association," Nemec said. "Really, the National League actually has stronger roots in the American Association in some ways than it does National League roots."

Eventually, the American Association was recognized as a full-fledged Major League and all of its players' statistics and career highlights are counted accordingly in the annals of Major League history.
So there in is the A-HA!!! moment. The AA and their statistics are recognized by MLB as being accumulated as a Major League. In addition to the AA, the Federal League (1914-1915), the Players League (1890) and the Union Association (1884) are all recognized as being a Major League. The question I have is when were the statistics of the AA formally recognized by MLB.

I sent a tweet to Mr. John Thorn who is the official historian for MLB. Here is what he said:
My other question to Mr. Thorn was concerning the treatment of the AA's statistics as being "Pre-Modern" in the context of today's "Modern" stats:

That makes perfect sense. I'm sure there will be fans that will dispute this and say that Rickey Henderson is the single season stolen bases record holder and not Hugh Nicol who played for the American Association back in the 1880's. If so, then what can you do. Based on MLB's position in terms of its history and the fact MLB has Rickey as number two on the list behind Hugh Nicol then who am I to argue that.

Many thanks to Mr. Thorn for his actually getting back to me. There are many Baseball historians and experts on Twitter whom I have asked questions of and never gotten a response, let alone numerous prompt responses. Definitely give him a follow @thorn_john.

On an aside, if you want to know more of the "Beer and Whiskey" league that was the American Association, I recommend you pick up the book: The Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants, and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America’s Game by Edward Achorn. It is quite the entertaining book and provides amazing insight to the early years of organized Baseball. I think you all will like it.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access Rickey Henderson's career statistics at Baseball
- Click Here to access the article MLB's 200,000th game: How it was determined by John Thorn from dated September 23, 2011

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Walter Johnson's 16-Game Win Streak Ends August 26, 1912

On this day in Baseball History August 26, 1912: Walter "Big Train" Johnson's 16-game win streak ends in a 3-2 loss against the St. Louis Browns under controversial circumstances. Before I go into the particulars of the controversy, I wanted to touch upon the win streak itself.

Johnson was aiming for the Major League record of 19-straight victories which is held by Rube Marquard of the New York Giants who established the record earlier in that 1912 season. Johnson would tie for the American League record with Smoky Joe Wood of the Boston Red Sox who also won 16-straight games in 1912. Two other American League pitchers would reach the 16-straight wins plateau set by Johnson and Wood in 1912. Lefty Grove of Philadelphia Athletics did so in 1931 and Schoolboy Rowe's 16-game accomplished the feat in 1934 for the Detroit Tigers. For an interesting breakdown on winning streaks from 1900-1977, I recommend you read the article Winning Streaks by Pitchers by Ronald G. Liebman from the SABR Journal Research Archive. Now for the controversy.

I was lucky enough to be able to access the box scores of both the New York Times via its TimesMachine feature and Washington Times 1902-1939 through the Chronicling America website of the Library of Congress. This game shows us how different the game of Baseball was back in 1912 compared to today.

The Washington Senators were facing the St. Louis Browns and starting pitcher Tom Hughes be responsible for two runners in top of the seventh when Johnson came in to relieve him. Here is how the article Nationals Break Even in Double Bill With Browns from the The Washington times., August 27, 1912, LAST EDITION, Page 10, Image 10:
The seventh saw the final tally counted for the Climbers, and a batting streak nipped bv Burt Shotton. With one down Ainsmith bounced one past Austin. Johnson walked. Milan, after fouling to the right field fence close to the chalkline, breezed. Foster's clean single scored Ainsmith and put Johnson on second. Then came Laporte's great drive and Shotton's greater catch.

Wallace walked In the fifth and Krichell scratched a safety to Foster, who lost the ball In the sun. Hamilton's sacrifice sent them up a cushion, and Wallace scored on Shotton's single to right Krichell came over on Compton's long hoist to Shanks.

Again Wallace and Krichell did the dirty work in the seventh, scoring the runs that won the game. Wallace singled and Krichell walked. Hamilton's bunt was a little pop to Hughes close to the line, and then came Walter Johnson into the battle with one gone and two on. Shotton never saw the ball and fanned weakly. A wild pitch had put Wallace on third, and Krichell on second and both rushed over when Compton burnt a safety to center, Williams was called out on strikes.

After that seventh the Browns could do nothing with Johnson. But they had done enough for they had put Johnson's great winning streak in danger, and It will take mature reflection on the part of the league boss, conferences with Umpires Evans and Egan and a persual of the official score to determine whether or not the defeat should be charged to Johnson or Hughes.
Now it seems with the score 3-2 in favor of the Senators with two runners on base which were the responsibility of Hughes when Johnson came in. Now here is where the game was different then from now.

Senators manager Clark Griffith is bringing in his ace to shutdown the game in the seventh inning. To put that in a modern context, that would be similar to Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon bringing in Felix Hernandez to hold a lead in the seventh inning. What I find amazing is that Johnson was to start the next game on the August 27 against the Browns. Though by today's rules, the runs that scored would be charged to Hughes and the loss given to him. But in Ban Johnson's American League of 1912 that was not to be so.

In the article Johnson Explains Strange Decision by "The Senator" from the The Washington times., August 28, 1912, LAST EDITION, Page 10, Image 10:
Ban Johnson, the boss of The American League, and interpreter of its rules, has at last explained his line of reasoning in charging Monday's defeat to Walter Johnson instead of to Tom Hughes.

"While he did not allow the two men, who scored and thereby assured St. Louis its victory, to become base runners at his expense, Johnson was, nevertheless, responsible for the fact that they did score," says the archon of the league.

"He allowed a hit and was guilty of a wild pitch. He had a chance to win the game by saving it. He failed. Therefore, he is entitled to shoulder the blame. I have announced officially that Johnson's winning record concludes with his sixteenth straight triumph."

"I believe in pitchers earning their records. Naturally, I would like to see Johnson or any other pitcher in my league honor it with a record, but he must earn it if he does. I will stand for no subterfuge."
And people complain about Bud Selig. Imagine a decision like this coming down today in the era of social media and instant news. To further add to the point, The Senator continues:
The painful thing about Ban Johnson's decision is that what he says goes. Johnson must rest with his sixteen straight games, even though Hughes is responsible for Monday's defeat in the minds of all fair-minded fans. He rules contrary to precedent of years in the National League, the parent body of the national game.

John A. Heydler, of this city, secretary of the National League and a recognized authority on the interpretation of baseball rules, says that it has been an invariable rule to charge such a defeat to the retiring pitcher. When it comes to an issue between Heydler and Johnson, few followers of baseball will lean toward the boss of the American League. They believe that Heydler knows more about the matter than does Johnson.

"My ruling In such cases has always been just opposite," said Heydler today. "I have always held that if a first pitcher leaves the game with a man on base one or more and a score is made by the men off the second pitcher it is charged against the first."

"That is my rule and always will be. I don't know of any exact precedent. If President Johnson says the record is broken it is broken. He is the one to decide in his league."
What did Walter Johnson think of the decision? The Senator continues:
Walter Johnson, who stood an excellent chance of bettering Rube Marquard's mark of nineteen straight victories, smiles and says nothing regarding the decision of Ban Johnson. Walter does not work for records particularly. He cares little whether or not he wins twenty in a row so long as he wins the twenty. That suits him. He refuses to discuss the decision, saying it has little interest for him.
Here is the box score for the controversial game:

 Published August 28, 1912 The WashingtonTimes 
In the end, Johnson would lose his next start the old fashioned way against the Browns. The New York Times listing for the game with box score describes the games activities. What I find interesting in this post (as you'll see down below) is that the post says that this loss broke Johnson's win streak, rather than the decision by Ban Johnson as I highlighted above from the Washington Times articles.

In the end, Johnson would finish the 1912 season with a 33-12 record with a 1.35 ERA. I could go into listing the incredible statistics that Johnson put up that season. I'll put it here as a picture courtesy of Baseball Just don't drool while you sit with you mouth open when looking over the stats ;)

Walter Johnson's Career Statistics from Baseball

Will we ever see another stretch like Walter Johnson's in term of a consecutive game winning streak by a starter? Guess we'll have to wait and see if it ever happens.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

Monday, August 25, 2014

Dr. K Becomes the Youngest 20-Game Winner August 25, 1985

On this day in Baseball History August 25, 1985: New York Mets pitcher Dwight "Dr. K" Gooden becomes the youngest 20-game winner in Major League Baseball history. Upon defeating the San Diego Padres 9-3 at Shea Stadium, Gooden was 20 years, nine months and nine days old. Bob Feller was 20 years and ten months and five days old when he won his 20th against the St. Louis Browns on September 8, 1939. At the time of his 20th win, Gooden had only three losses for the season and would only lose one more game which happened during his next start. His last six starts of the season would be just phenomenal.

Gooden would finish the season with four straight wins, of which three were complete games, two of those shutouts with two nine-inning starts (taken out after the ninth due to extra innings) and an eight inning start. He would finish with a 24-4 record with a league best 1.53 ERA, 16 complete games with 8 shutouts, 276.2 innings pitches. He gave up 198 hits with 268 strikeouts and only 69 walks for a WHIP of 0.965.

Gooden would follow his Rookie of the Year campaign and runner up for the National League Cy Young Award in 1984 with the National League Cy Young Award for the 1985 season and a fourth place finish in the National League MVP Race.

Too bad the fast life and drugs of the 1980's led to his eventual downfall. Even though I wasn't a Mets fan, watching a young Dwight Gooden was an event each and everytime.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- Click here to access Dwight Gooden's career statistics from Baseball

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Pete Rose is Banned From Baseball August 23, 1989

It seems that I am stuck in my Junior year of High School, 1989 with the last two posts. On this day in Baseball History August 23, 1989: The All-Time hits leader Peter Edward Rose is banned for life by MLB Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti for his role on breaking cardinal rule number one: Gambling on Baseball.

Here is the text of the agreement between Rose and Giamatti and witnessed by Reuven K. Katz, Esquire of
Katz, Teller, Brant & Hild and Fay Vincent Jr., August 25, 1989:
In the Matter of: Peter Edward Rose, Manager
Cincinnati Reds Baseball Club


On March 6, 1989, the Commissioner of Baseball instituted an investigation of Peter Edward Rose, the field manager of the Cincinnati Reds Baseball Club, concerning allegations that Peter Edward Rose engaged in conduct not in the best interests of baseball in violation of Major League Rule 21, including but not limited to betting on Major League Baseball games in connection with which he had a duty to perform.

The Commissioner engaged a special counsel to conduct a full, fair and confidential inquiry of the allegations against Peter Edward Rose. Peter Edward Rose was given notice of the allegations and he and his counsel were generally apprised of the nature and progress of the investigation. During the inquiry, Peter Edward Rose produced documents, gave handwriting exemplars and responded to questions under oath upon oral deposition. During the deposition, the special counsel revealed key evidence gathered in the inquiry to Peter Edward Rose and his counsel.

On May 9, 1989, the special counsel provided a 225-page report, accompanied by seven volumes of exhibits, to the Commissioner. On May 11, 1989, the Commissioner provided a copy of the Report to Peter Edward Rose and his counsel, and scheduled a hearing on May 25, 1989 to give Peter Edward Rose an opportunity to respond formally to the information in the report. Peter Edward Rose received, read and is aware of the contents of the Report. On May 19, 1989, Peter Edward Rose requested, and subsequently received, an extension of the hearing date until June 26, 1989. Peter Edward Rose acknowledges that the Commissioner has treated him fairly in this Agreement and has acted in good faith throughout the course of the investigation and proceedings.

Peter Edward Rose will conclude these proceedings before the Commissioner without a hearing and the Commissioner will not make any formal findings or determinations on any matter including without limitation the allegation that Peter Edward Rose bet on any Major League Baseball game. The Commissioner has determined that the best interests of Baseball are served by a resolution of this matter on the following agreed upon terms and conditions:

1. Peter Edward Rose recognizes, agrees and submits to the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the Commissioner:

A. To investigate, either upon complain or upon his own initiative, any act, transaction or practice charged, alleged or suspected to be not in the best interests of the national game of Baseball; and

B. To determine, after investigation, what preventive, remedial, or punitive action is appropriate in the premises, and to take such action as the case may be.

2. Counsel for Peter Edward Rose, upon his authority, have executed a stipulation dismissing with prejudice the civil action that was originally filed in the Court of Common Pleas, Hamitlon County, Ohio, captioned Peter Edward Rose v. A. Bartlett Giamatti, No. A8905178, and subsequently removed to the United States District Court from the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Docket No. C-2-89-577.

3. Peter Edward Rose will not avail himself of the opportunity to participate in a hearing concerning the allegations against him, or otherwise offer any defense to those allegations.

4. Peter Edward Rose acknowledges that the Commissioner has a factual basis to impose the penalty provided herein, and hereby accepts the penalty imposed on him by the Commissioner and agrees not to challenge that penalty in court or otherwise. He also agrees he will not institute any legal proceedings of any nature against the Commissioner of any of his representatives, either Major League or any Major League Club.

5. The commissioner recognizes and agrees that it is in the best interests of the national game of Baseball that this matter be resolved pursuant to his sole and exclusive authority under the Major League Agreement.

THEREFORE, the Commissioner, recognizing the benefits to Baseball from a resolution of this matter, orders and directs that Peter Edward Rose be subject to the following disciplinary sanctions, and Peter Edward Rose, recognizing the sole and exclusive authority of the Commissioner and that it is in his interest to resolve this matter without further proceedings, agrees to accept the following disciplinary sanctions imposed by the Commissioner.

a. Peter Edward Rose is hereby declared permanently ineligible in accordance with Major League Rule 21 and placed on the Ineligible List.

b. Nothing in this Agreement shall deprive Peter Edward Rose of the rights under Major League Rule 15(c) to apply for reinstatement. Peter Edward Rose agrees not to challenge, appeal or otherwise contest the decision of, or the procedure employed by, the Commissioner or any future Commissioner in the evaluation of any application for reinstatement.

c. Nothing in this agreement shall be deemed either an admission or a denial by Peter Edward Rose of the allegation that he bet on any Major League Baseball game.

Neither the Commissioner nor Peter Edward Rose shall be prevented by this agreement from making any public statement relating to this matter so long as no such public statement contradicts the terms of this agreement and resolution.

This document contains the entire agreement of the parties and represents the entire resolution of the matter of Peter Edward Rose before the Commissioner.

Agreed to and resolved this 23rd day of August 1989,

Peter Edward Rose

A. Bartlett Giamatti
Commissioner of Baseball

Witnessed by:

Reuven K. Katz, Esquire
Katz, Teller, Brant & Hild

Witnessed by:

(Fay Vincent, Jr.)

Following that, Commissioner Giamatti has a press conference on August 24, 1989 and gave the following statement:

AUGUST 24, 1989


The banishment for life of Pete Rose from baseball is the sad end of a sorry episode. One of the game's greatest players has engaged in a variety of acts which have stained the game, and he must now live with the consequences of those acts. By choosing not to come to a hearing before me, and by choosing not to proffer any testimony or evidence contrary to the evidence and information contained in the report of the Special Counsel to the Commissioner, Mr. Rose has accepted baseball's ultimate sanction, lifetime ineligibility.

This sorry episode began last February when baseball received firm allegations that Mr. Rose bet on baseball games and on the Reds' games. Such grave charges could not and must never be ignored. Accordingly, I engaged and Mr. Ueberroth appointed John Dowd as Special Counsel to investigate these and other allegations that might arise and to pursue the truth wherever it took him. I believed then and believe now that such a process, whereby an experienced professional inquires on behalf of the Commissioner as the Commissioner's agent, is fair and appropriate. To pretend that serious charges of any kind can be responsibly examined by a Commissioner alone fails to recognize the necessity to bring professionalism and fairness to any examination and the complexity a private entity encounters when, without judicial or legal powers, it pursues allegations in the complex, real world.

Baseball had never before undertaken such a process because there had not been such grave allegations since the time of Landis. If one is responsible for protecting the integrity of the game of baseball - that is, the game's authenticity, honesty and coherence - then the process one uses to protect the integrity of baseball must itself embody that integrity. I sought by means of a Special Counsel of proven professionalism and integrity, who was obliged to keep the subject of the investigation and his representatives informed about key information, to create a mechanism whereby the integrity we sought to protect was itself never violated. Similarly, in writing to Mr. Rose on May 11, I designed, as is my responsibility, a set of procedures for a hearing that would have afforded him every opportunity to present statements or testimony of witnesses or any other evidence he saw fit to answer the information and evidence presented in the Report of the Special Counsel and its accompanying materials.

That Mr. Rose and his counsel chose to pursue a course in the courts rather than appear at hearings scheduled for May 25 and then June 26, and then choose to come forward with a stated desire to settle this matter is now well known to all. My purpose in recounting the process and the procedures animating that process is to make two points that the American public deserves to know:

First, that the integrity of the game cannot be defended except by a process that itself embodies integrity and fairness;

Second, should any other occasion arise where charges are made or acts are said to be committed that are contrary to the interests of the game or that undermine the integrity of baseball, I fully intend to use such a process and procedure to get to the truth and, if need bem to root out offending behavior. I intend to use, in short, every lawful and ethical means to defend and protect the game.

I say this so that there may be no doubt about where I stand or why I stand there. I believe baseball is a beautiful and exciting game, loved by millions - I among them - and I believe baseball is an important, enduring American institution. It must assert and aspire to the highest principles - of integrity, of professionalism of performance, of fair play within its rules. It will come as no surprise that like any institution composed of human beings, this institution will not always fulfill its highest aspirations. I know of no earthly institution that does. But this one, because it is so much a part of our history as a people and because it has such a purchase on our national soul, has an obligation to the people for whom it is played - to its fans and well-wishers - to strive for excellence in all things and to promote the highest ideals.

I will be told that I am an idealist. I hope so. I will continue to locate ideals I hold for myself and for my country in the national game as well as in other of our national institutions. And while there will be debate and dissent about this or that or another occurrence on or off the field, and while the game's nobler parts will always be enmeshed in the human frailties of those who, whatever their role, have stewardship of this game, let there be no doubt or dissent about our goals for baseball or our dedication to it. Nor about our vigilance and vigor - and patience - in protecting the game from blemish or stain or disgrace.

The matter of Mr. Rose is now closed. It will be debated and discussed. Let no one think that it did not hurt baseball. That hurt will pass, however, as the great glory of the game asserts itself and a resilient institution goes forward. Let it also be clear that no individual is superior to the game.
In his book (with author Rick Hill) "My Prison Without Bars" that came out in 2004, Rose makes a full confession on his betting on Baseball. He also confims that admission in an interview with Charles Gibson on January 5, 2004.

I can't seem to find a transcript of that interview online, so I am going to post a few quotes of Rose's comments that are found in the article Pete Rose admits placing bets on baseball games as manager by Peter Schmuck from the Baltimore Sun website dated January 06, 2004:
In the book and the interview, Rose said he admitted during a meeting with Selig in 2002 that he bet on baseball games "four or five times a week," but never against the Reds and never from the Reds clubhouse.

"I was wrong," Rose told Gibson. "I [was] just stupid, the worst thing I did in my life.

"It's time to clean the slate. It's time to take responsibility. I'm 14 years late."

He said in the book that he denied the charges because he felt the admission would be used against him rather than be treated as a cry for the help he needed to overcome a gambling addiction. Baseball has long had programs in place to help employees who suffer from alcoholism and drug addiction, but gambling has been viewed as the sport's mortal sin since Chicago White Sox players allegedly conspired to fix the 1919 World Series.

"I should have had the opportunity to get help, but baseball had no fancy rehab for gamblers like they do for drug addicts," Rose wrote. "If I had admitted my guilt, it would have been the same as putting my head on the chopping block - lifetime ban. Death penalty. I spent my entire life on the baseball fields of America, and I was not going to give up my profession without first seeing some hard evidence ... right or wrong, the punishment didn't fit the crime, so I denied the crime."

Rose recounts his 2002 conversation with Selig in the book.

"Yes, sir, I did bet on baseball," Rose told Selig.

"How often?" Selig asked.

"Four or five times a week," Rose replied. "But I never bet against my own team, and I never made any bets from the clubhouse."

"Why?" Selig asked.

"I didn't think I'd get caught."
So it has been 25 years since that fateful day in Baseball History. What do I think about this whole matter? I attempt to answer this in the following questions to myself.

1. Does Pete Rose deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? 

Yes, I think that Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame. There was probably no other player in the game that left so much of himself (and opponents) on the field of play.

2. Was his punishment fair? 

Rose broke cardinal sin number one in Baseball which is listed in the Major League Rules, Section 21(d):
(d) BETTING ON BALL GAMES. Any player, umpire, or club official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform shall be declared ineligible for one year.

Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.
Based on that rule, if the league doesn't enforce the rule Baseball loses all its credibility. Considering that it was one of Baseball's greatest players the rule needed to be enforced, hence the punishment befitting the crime.

3. Should Pete Rose be reinstated by either outgoing Commissioner Selig or incoming Commissioner Manfred?

I don't know which of the two should do it, but I do think that Rose should be reinstated. Rose should be given the opportunity to be elected into the Hall of Fame. The man has been banned longer than he played the game. His playing record alone is reason enough for him to be reinstated.

4. Is Rose innocent of a "witch-hunt"?

No, Rose has been his worse enemy post-ban. Instead of just admitting to the gambling from the beginning and disappearing, his ego hasn't allowed him to do that. Every Hall of Fame weekend he signs autographs at a shop on Main Street in Cooperstown where it is customary for all Hall of Famers who are attending Induction Weekend to do so. I'm not saying that he doesn't belong with them, he does but just not on that weekend and not on Main Street in Cooperstown while he is banned from the game.

In addition, Rose hasn't helped his situation by continuing to be involved with casinos. I don't begrudge a person trying to make money to support themselves and their family, but if you know your situation was caused by your gambling problem AND you want to be reinstated, then stay away from the casinos. Period.

5. If you were the Commissioner of Baseball what would you do?

If I was Commissioner of Baseball I would reinstate Pete Rose on the condition that he cannot manage a Baseball team at any level from MLB to affiliated A-Ball ever again. You can't trust (or take the chance) that he will not bet on the game again. I do believe that he should be involved with the game. I believe Rose should be allowed to be an instructor at Spring Training. I believe that he should be allowed to participate at all events that commemorate the game.

It is under these (and only these) conditions that I would reinstate Pete Rose.

There you have it folks. This issue is as hot now as it was 25-years ago and until Rose gets reinstated it will remain a hot topic.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access Pete Rose's career statistics from Baseball

Friday, August 22, 2014

Nolan Ryan Strikeouts Out his 5,000 batter August 22, 1989

On this day in Baseball History August 22, 1989: Nolan Ryan of the Texas Rangers becomes the first pitcher in major league history to register 5,000 career strikeouts.

His victim was fellow future Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson of the Oakland Athletics who struck out in the top of the 5th inning. Ryan would finish the game with 13-strikeouts in a 2-0 loss. 

Ryan would go finish his career with a total of 5,714 strikeouts. Randy Johnson is next on the list with 4,875 strikeouts.

For video footage on Nolan Ryan reaching the 5000 strikeout plateau: