Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Griffeys Play In The Same Game For First Time August 31, 1990

On this day in Baseball History August 31, 1990: Father and son duo Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr., became the first father and son duo to play in the same game for the Seattle Mariners against the Kansas City Royals at the Seattle Kingdom. Griffey Sr. and Griffey Jr. batted second and third respectively in the lineup. The game also marked the first time that a father and son duo would both get hits, back to back as a matter of fact, in the same game.

The article Griffey Sr. and Jr. first to play together in MLB by Larry Schwartz for ESPN Classic from dated November 19, 2003 describe how Ken Griffey Jr., felt during that fateful game:
Aug. 31, 1990

Signed two days ago by the Seattle Mariners after being released by the Cincinnati Reds, 40-year-old Ken Griffey Sr. is about to make history tonight with his 20-year-old son. They are the first father-and-son tandem to play in a major-league game. Earlier in the day, Griffey Jr. tells family agent Brian Goldberg, "It's really going to be weird tonight, playing with my dad." Later that afternoon, Griffey Sr. tells Goldberg, "It's going to be weird tonight, playing with my son."

As the Griffey's trot to their positions, center-fielder Jr. gives his dad, in left, a quick wave. In the bottom of the first inning, Sr., batting second, singles, the 2,091st hit in his 18-year career. Jr. follows with a single (No. 275). Both score in the Mariners' 5-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

"I wanted to cry or something," Jr. says after going 1-for-4, same as dad. "It just seemed like a father-son game, like we were out playing catch in the backyard. But we were actually playing a real game.

"The weird thing was all the guys are yelling, 'Let's go, Ken,' and I'm yelling, 'Let's go, Dad.'"
The boxscore for that game can be found on the Baseball website: August 31, 1990 Kansas City Royals vs. Seattle Mariners

The MLB Network's Remembering Griffey dad and son:

The Griffeys would make more history in the 1990 season becoming the first father and son duo to hit back-to-back home runs off of California Angels starter Kirk McCaskill.

Here's video footage of the Griffeys hitting back-to-back homeruns:

Truly special moments in major league history. Will we ever see another father and son duo playing together in the major leagues? Only time will tell.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access Ken Griffey Sr.'s career statistics from Baseball
- Click Here to access Ken Griffey Jr.'s career statistics from Baseball
- Click Here to access the article Griffeys made home run history in '90: Father, son first to go back-to-back in Major Leagues by Patrick Brown from dated August 8, 2007

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:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lou Brock Singles for his 3000th Hit August 13, 1979

On this day in Baseball History, Lou Brock of the St. Louis Cardinals singles against Dennis Lamp of the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium to become the 14th player to reach the 3000-hit plateau. Here are the fourteen players that had reached the 3000-hit plateau before Brock:
  1. Unknown Cap Anson
  2. 06/09/1914 Honus Wagner
  3. 09/27/1914 Nap Lajoie (first game of the doubleheader)
  4. 08/19/1921 Ty Cobb (second game of the doubleheader)
  5. 05/17/1925 Tris Speaker
  6. 06/03/1925 Eddie Collins
  7. 06/19/1942 Paul Waner
  8. 05/13/1958 Stan Musial
  9. 05/17/1970 Hank Aaron (second game of the doubleheader)
  10. 07/18/1970 Willie Mays
  11. 09/30/1972 Roberto Clemente
  12. 09/24/1974 Al Kaline
  13. 05/05/1978 Pete Rose
Brock was originally signed as a free agent by the Chicago Cubs in 1960 and after faltering with the Cubs, he would be traded to the Cardinals in 1964 for pitcher Ernie Broglio. Brock would blossom into the feared base stealer of his era, leading the National League in steals eight times with 118 steals being his career best in 1974. Brock would be the career base steal leader with 938 stolen bases until Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson eclipsed the record on May 1, 1991 while with the Oakland Athletics. 

Brock was a six-time National League All-Star and a top ten finalist for the NL MVP award five-times, coming in second for the award in 1974. Brock was a model of consistency playing in 150+ games a season for eleven straight seasons from 1964-1974 and playing in 123 games in 1962, 148 games in 1963, 136 games in 1975, 133 games in 1976, 141 games in 1977 and 120 games in 1979. Aside from his rookie season of 1961, Brock failed to play in 100 more games in only one season, 1978. 

Brock would retire after the 1979 season with 938 steals, 3023 hits and a career .293 batting average. Lou Brock would be inducted into the Hall of Fame by Baseball Writers of America as a player in 1985 with 80% of the vote (315/395 ballots).

A month later, Carl Yaztremski of the Boston Red Sox would join Lou Brock as a member of the 3000-hits club. I'll touch upon that next month. 

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Jeter and Ichiro Move Up the All-Time Hits List

Yesterday marked a double achievement for two members of the New York Yankees. Derek Jeter tied the legendary Honus Wagner for sixth on the All-Time hit list with 3,430 hits. Barring any monumental injury from today on, Jeter will have sole possession of sixth place on the list. Here are the top five players on the All-Time Hits list:
  1. Pete Rose 4,256
  2. Ty Cobb 4,191
  3. Hank Aaron 3,771
  4. Stan Musial 3,630
  5. Tris Speaker 3,514
Can Jeter belt out 70 more hits to get to 3,500? I'm not sure if he can, but it will be fun to watch to see if he comes close.

Ichiro Suzuki also tied a legendary player who he is already linked to on the All-Time hit list. Ichiro tied George Sisler for forty-eighth on the All-Time hits list with 2,810 hits. When Ichiro set the single season hits record in 2004, he did so by breaking George Sisler's record of 257 hits which was set in 1920. Here is the list for the top ten players on the Single Season hits list:

1. Ichiro Suzuki (30)   262 in 2004
2. George Sisler (27)   257 in 1920
3. Lefty O'Doul (32)   254 in 1929
  Bill Terry (31)             254 in 1930
5. Al Simmons (23)   253 in 1925
6. Rogers Hornsby (26)   250 in 1922
  Chuck Klein (25)   250 in 1930
8. Ty Cobb (24)           248 in 1911
9. George Sisler (29)      246 in 1922
10. Ichiro Suzuki (27)  242 in 2001

I would think that Ichiro would like to continue playing so that he can reach the 3,000 hit plateau of which he is 190 hits away from. I don't think that if he doesn't reach 3,000 he will be kept out of Cooperstown. I think his place in the Hall of Fame is already secure. But 3,000 hits is always a nice thing to have, especially since only 28 players have ever hit the 3,000 mark. We'll have to watch and see if he can do it.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

Just a Note on Troy Tulowitzki's Comments

Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies made some waves this week with some comments that he made during batting practice. This is what he was quoted as saying in the article Troy Tulowitzki says "something needs to change" with Rockies before 2015 by Nick Groke from the Denver Post dated August 8, 2012:
"I think that's why I came out numerous times and said I want to win," Tulowitzki said. "It doesn't mean I want out of here. It means I'm sick and tired of losing.
"Something needs to change. Hopefully that comes fairly quickly. You can't force it. But at the same time, we're all frustrated with this year — especially me."
While I see his point, here is what I think. How about Tulo look at not only himself but his teammate Carlos Gonzalez for where the problem lies. How about both of those players put together a COMPLETE season of playing with each other before he complains that he's tired of losing. Both of these players, if healthy (and that's a BIG if) can dominate the entire league.

There might not be a better 3-4 combination in the league but its hard to tell because both of them spend so much time on the disabled list. Its hard for the team because both of those players are so injury prone that even if the team plays good ball, its hard to maintain that because their presence in the lineup is missed.

Not counting his rookie season of 2006, since 2007 Tulowitzki has only had three seasons where he's played in more than 140 games AND had more than 600 at-bats. That came in 2007, 2009, 2011. In the other four seasons, Tulowitzki has played in 101 games in 2008, 122 games in 2010, 47 games in 2012 and 91 games this season.

Add to this that Carlos Gonzalez while playing in Colorado with Tulowitzki hasn't had a season with more than 150 games. He's played in 89 games in 2009, 145 games in 2010, 127 games in 2011, 135 games in 2012, 110 games in 2013 and 70 games this season.

At least Gonzalez is a bit more consistent in games played season to season. It seems that Tulowitzki has longer, less injured seasons on odd numbered years. Go figure.

Can the Rockies management continue to improve the team? Absolutely. But when you have a sizable investment in your two best players and year in and year out they are missed due to injury, shouldn't some of the blame lie on them as well for the losing?

Let me know what you think. Agree? Disagree? Don't care, LOL?

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access Troy Tulowitzki's career statistics from Baseball
- Click Here to access Carlos Gonzalez's career statistics from Baseball

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Greg Maddux Gets His 300th Win August 7, 2004

On this day in Baseball History August 7, 2004, Greg Maddux of the Chicago Cubs becomes the 22nd player to reach the 300-win plateau with a 8-4 victory against the San Francisco Giants at SBC Park. Though it wasn't a Maddux-like performance, he still was able to win by giving up four runs, seven hits and three walks over five-plus innings while striking out three.

Here is the list of the other 21 300-game winners at the time Ryan joined the club (in the order in which they reached the plateau):

  1. 1888 Pud Calvin
  2. 1890 Tim Keefe
  3. 1890 Mickey Welch
  4. 1891 Charles Radbourne
  5. 1892 John Clarkson
  6. 1900 Kid Nichols
  7. 1901 Cy Young
  8. 1912 Christy Mathewson
  9. 1915 Ed Plank
  10. 1920 Walter Johnson
  11. 1924 Grover Alexander
  12. 1941 Lefty Grove
  13. 1961 Warren Spahn
  14. 1963 Early Wynne
  15. 1982 Gaylord Perry
  16. 1983 Steve Carlton
  17. 1985 Tom Seaver
  18. 1985 Phil Niekro
  19. 1986 Don Sutton
  20. 1990 Nolan Ryan
  21. 2003 Roger Clemens

Maddux would go on to win a total of 355 games which places him at number eight on the all-time wins list. Here are the other seven pitchers that are ahead of Maddux on this list:

  1. Cy Young 511 wins RHP
  2. Walter Johnson 417 wins RHP
  3. Pete Alexander 373 wins RHP
  4. Christy Mathewson 373 wins RHP
  5. Pud Galvin 365 wins RHP
  6. Warren Spahn 363 wins LHP
  7. Kid Nichols 361 wins RHP
  8. Greg Maddux 355 wins RHP

Maddux won four consecutive National League Cy Young Awards (1992-1995), placed in the top five of NL Cy Young Voting nine times. He would make seven All-Star appearances and win a staggering eighteen Gold Gloves.

Maddux would retire in 2008 after 23-seasons and was inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer after having received 97.2% of the vote (555/571 ballots).

Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Joe Torre
The Professor was one of the best we've ever seen play the game, doing so not through power and sheer force but through finesse and calculated pitching. Thanks for the memories.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access Greg Maddux's career statistics from Baseball
- Click Here to access the boxscore for Greg Maddux's 300th win on August 7, 2004 from Baseball
- Click Here to access the article Maddux welcomed into the 300 club by Carrie Muskat from dated August 7, 2004

Monday, August 4, 2014

Tom Seaver Wins His 300th Game

On this day in Baseball History August 4, 1985, Tom Seaver of the Chicago White Sox wins his 300th game by throwing a complete game against the New York Yankees in front of 54,032 fans at Old Yankees Stadium. Stealing the thunder from Phil Rizzuto on Phil Rizzuto Day at the stadium, Seaver allowed only 6 hits and one walk, while striking out 7 ending the game by getting Don Baylor to fly-out.

Seaver became just the 17th pitcher to ever reach the 300-win plateau. Here is the list of the other 16 300-game winners at the time Seaver joined the club (in the order in which they reached the plateau):

  1. 1888 Pud Calvin
  2. 1890 Tim Keefe
  3. 1890 Mickey Welch
  4. 1891 Charles Radbourne
  5. 1892 John Clarkson
  6. 1900 Kid Nichols
  7. 1901 Cy Young
  8. 1912 Christy Mathewson
  9. 1915 Ed Plank
  10. 1920 Walter Johnson
  11. 1924 Grover Alexander
  12. 1941 Lefty Grove
  13. 1961 Warren Spahn
  14. 1963 Early Wynne
  15. 1982 Gaylord Perry
  16. 1983 Steve Carlton
Here is footage of Tom Seaver retiring Don Baylor for the final out in his 300th win:

Seaver would go on to finish his career with the Boston Red Sox in 1986 compiling a 311-205 career record with a 2.86 ERA in 20-seasons. Seaver was the 1967 National League Rookie of the Year Award a 12-times All-Star with 2 National League Cy Young Awards (1969/1973) and 5-top ten MVP votes.

Seaver would be inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the BBWAA as Player in 1992 by a whopping 98.84% of the vote (425/430 ballots). Seaver holds the distinction of being the player to be inducted by the highest voting percentage in the baseball Hall of Fame history

While special that he won his 300th in New York City, it would have been even more so had it happened in Flushing while Seaver was wearing the Mets' pinstripes. Tom Seaver was truly terrific.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- Click Here for Tom Seaver's career statistics from Baseball
- Click Here to access the boxscore for Tom Seaver's 300th win on August 4, 1985 from Baseball

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A Memorable Night Game on August 2, 1930

I recently saw a post from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's Google+ page that piqued my interest. On August 2, 1930 Hall of Famer Smoky Joe Williams of the Homestead Grays strikes out 27 Kansas City Monarchs in a memorable 12-inning night game. Now that is one amazing achievement. But something stood out to me. Williams struck out 27 batters in 12-innings. Who was pitching for the Monarchs that day and how did he do. I decided to pull off a couple of Negro League books off my shelf to find out. Here's what I found out.

After playing a series of games at Pittsburgh's Forbes Field, the Homestead Grays matched up against the Kansas City Monarchs under the lights at the ballpark located at 22nd Street and Brooklyn Avenue called Muehlebach Field later known as Municipal Stadium in Kansas City. The lights were provided by J.L. Wilkinson, owner of the Monarchs. The article Know Your KC History: The Monarchs Shine a Light on Baseball by John Horner from the Kansas City Public Library's website:
Early in 1929 he decided to pursue a radical idea. He mortgaged most everything he owned, took Thomas Baird as a partner, and hired Omaha’s Giant Manufacturing Company to construct a portable lighting system, which cost between $50,000 and $100,000. (A 1929 dollar had the same buying power as $12.82 in 2011, so that would be between $641,000 and $1,282,000 today.)
The system had telescoping poles which extended 50 feet above the field. Pictures show a set of six floodlights atop each pair of poles. Derricks pivoted the poles into position above the truck beds to which they were secured. In her book, The Kansas City Monarchs: Champions of Black Baseball, Janet Bruce says that the Monarch’s lighting system took about two hours to assemble. The set-up included a huge generator that was placed in center field, made an enormous amount of noise, and “used fifteen gallons of gasoline every hour.”
There were still problems for the players. Wilkinson’s lights, though many steps ahead of what had preceded, wouldn’t compare well with what we experience at Kauffman Stadium. They didn’t have near the height or the illuminating power that we are used to. With the lights only reaching 50 feet above the field, even a moderately high fly ball would disappear completely into the night. (This caused a limit to be placed on the number of bases allowed for a fly ball during night games.) Setting the generator with its wiring in the outfield, along with the poles, increased the number of obstacles the fielders had to navigate.
As you can see, the system for playing night games wasn't easy, but Wilkinson knew that he could draw more fans to the night games, thereby making more money than a day game. People could work their day shift and go to the ballgame at night. This is why you have so many more night games today.

Taking the mound of the Homestead Grays was Smokey Joe Williams aka Cyclone Williams. Williams was a giant of a man, not only for that time but for any time. Williams stood at a formidable 6'5" and weighed 200 pounds. According to page 123 of the book Few and Chosen Negro Leagues: Defining Negro Leagues Greatness by Monte Irvin with Phil Pepe "Williams is unanimously regarded as the greatest Negro Leagues pitcher ever." 

Williams dueled fellow Hall of Famers Grover Cleveland Alexander and Walter Johnson to 1-0 barnstorming games (winning the game against Alexander), besting pitchers other Hall of Fame pitchers Chief Bender, Waite Hoyt, Walter and Rube Marquard. Williams compiled a 20-7 record in exhibition matches against major league ballplayers.

His nickname was given to him by New York Giants outfielder Ross Youngs after an exhibition game where Williams struck out 20 of the New York Giants. The story goes that Youngs patted Williams on the rear after the game and said "Nice job, Smokey".

The Kansas City Monarchs countered with Chet Brewer. Brewer is best described on page 309 in the book Shades of Glory by Lawrence Hogan:
A dominating pitcher. "with good control and a retentive memory," Chet Brewer "spotted the ball, mixing a wide repertory of pitches that included a live running fastball, a sweeping curve, an overhand drop, a deep sinker, an emery ball, and a good screwball." He was frequently picked for the East-West Classic. Across a 24-year professional career he "toiled on the mounds of black baseball with an assortment of teams throughout the world, including Canada, Japan, the Philippines, Hawaii, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Santo Domingo, and in forty-four of the forty-eight continental United States."
With the backdrop of the limited lights and legendary pitchers Brewer and Williams facing each other, the crowd was set to see an epic pitching duel. Strikeouts were being served on the menu to both teams. In the 12-innings played, Williams struck out a total of 27 out of 39 batters with only one hit and one base on ball allowed. Not to be left behind, Brewer struck out 19 with a 10-batter in a row streak starting in the seventh inning with four hits and four bases on ball allowed. That's a total of 46 batters fanned by both pitchers in a 12-inning affair. Simply amazing.

Now, both pitchers took advantage of the limited lights that the portable lights provided along with utilizing their emery pitches. Why is an emery pitch? As per page 125 of the book Only The Ball Was White: A History of Legendary Black Players and All-Black Professional Teams by Robert Peterson:
As if the dim illumination weren't handicap enough for the batters, Williams, and Brewer resorted to the emery cloth to make the ball do tricks. Said the Pittsburgh Courier: "The opposing pitchers were cheating without a question of a doubt. An emery ball in daylight is very deceptive, but at night it is about as easy to see as an insect in the sky."
A few other notes from this game. Josh Gibson was a rookie with the Grays in this series. Other notable Negro League stars who played in this game were Oscar Charleston, George Scales and Judy Johnson. Oh, and Smokey Joe Williams was 45-years old when he pitched this gem. How did the game end?

John M. Coates in his post for Smoky Joe Williams on the SABR Research Journals Archive website has the box score and a description on how the lone run was scored by the Grays:
The Grays won the game in their half of the twelfth, when Charleston walked, Johnson popped out, Scales was an infield out, and White doubled to the left field foul line, scoring Charleston
Well, there you have it. 46 K's in 12-innings pitches. Truly amazing.

You gals and guys have any more information on this game? Feel free to hit me up at my email, on Twitter @BaseballSisco, on my Google+ BaseballSisco and at my Facebook page Baseball Sisco Kid Style

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

Friday, August 1, 2014

Mel Ott Joins the 500 Home Run Club

On this day in Baseball History August 1, 1945: In a game against the Boston Braves at The Polo Grounds, Mel Ott hit his 500th career home run against Johnny Hutchings, becoming only the third player after Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx to reach the 500 home run plateau. In doing so, Ott became the first National League player to hit 500 homeruns and would be the only NL player on the list until Willie Mays joined him on September 13, 1965.

An interesting anecdote on that day's achievement and the after party can be found on page 152 of the book Mel Ott: The Little Giant of Baseball by Fred Stein, Published in 1999. Here is how Stein describes it:
After missing a few weeks with injury, Ott returned to the lineup and continued to thump the ball at a .340 clip. In a night game at the Polo Grounds on August 1, the little manager clouted his 500th career home run. It was a typical Ott home run, a sharply pulled smash into the upper right field stands. Belted off mountainous righthander Johnny Hutchings of the Braves, the ball bounced back onto the field where it was retrieved by Giants trainer Willie Schaefer. At the time, the only players with more career home runs were Babe Ruth with 714 and Jimmie Foxx with 527.

Later that night there was a big party at Toots Shor's restaurant in midtown Manhattan to celebrate Ott's milestone. Before Mel arrived at the restaurant that night, Shor sat at a table with Sir Alexander Fleming, the Scottish bacteriologist who had been awarded the Nobel prize for his discovery of penicillin. When Mel walked in the door, Shor jumped to his feet and gave Sir Alexander an inadvertant putdown. "Excuse me, Alex" he said, "I've got to greet someone who just came in who is really important."
As was alluded to in the passage above was that what made Ott's achievement remarkable was that unlike the other two players ahead of him on the home run list, Ott was small in comparison. We all know what kind of shadow Ruth cast as he stood 6'2" and weighed 215 pounds. Foxx, who's nickname was The Beast stood at an even 6'0" and weighed a muscular 195 pounds. Ott stood at a 5'9" and a slim 170 pounds. He more than made up for it by utilizing a leg kick and powerful swing of the bat.

Many historians and baseball people believed that Ott's home ballpark: The Polo Grounds gave him a major advantage due to the park's dimensions. While the park had a cavernous center field, due to its bathtub shape, the park had short fences in right field (257ft.) and in left field (277ft.) If the park caused an unfair advantage, then why weren't all the Giants hitting home runs like Ott was. In the end he still had to hit the ball to take advantage of the porch. If he did, then so be it.

When Ott retired as a player in 1947, he had 511 career home runs, over 200 more than any other National Leaguer, and a total exceeded only by the aforementioned Babe Ruth (714) and Jimmie Foxx (534). Ott held National League career records in runs batted in (1,860), runs scored (1,859) and bases on balls (1,708). His records would all be broken in later years. For his career, Ott was named an All-Star 12 times, led the league in home runs six times, and retired with a lifetime batting average of .304.

Ott would be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America in 1951 with 197 out of 226 votes for 87.17% of the vote.

Regardless of his physical size, Ott was truly a Giant.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:

- Click Here to access Mel Ott's career statistics from Baseball
- Click Here to access the boxscore for the August 1, 1945 game between the Boston Braves and the New York Giants from Baseball
- Click Here for an interesting article on Jimmie Foxx entitled Baseball, 1929 Jimmie Foxx by The Pop History Dig website