When I was in high school and playing summer league ball our coach chose to use Grays uniforms. I didn’t think much of it until I brought the jersey home and my dad saw it and told me how symbolic the jersey was.
The Homestead Grays (1929-1950) are one of the best known teams in black baseball (another one is the Kansas City Monarchs). They played their home games in Pittsburgh and Washington D.C. Some believe the ’31 Grays to be the best team ever. Josh Gibson has been referred to as the “black Babe Ruth.” The Grays won 9 straight pennants from 1937 to 1945 and 3 Negro League World Series. The following players from the Grays are now in the hall of fame:
It’s funny looking at some of the older pictures of ballparks where there were no fences. People would line the outskirts of the outfield and be their own sort of fence. Also seeing the features of the crowd, usually all male and wearing the same attire, suits and top hats. Things have changed so much in the last 100 years. Baseball wasn’t much of a home run game until the live-ball era. The dead-ball era lasted from 1900-1919. What made the ball “dead” in this time frame? The dimensions of the field were significantly larger–it was not uncommon for center field to be longer than 500 feet. Before 1901 foul balls didn’t count as strikes. The balls themselves were said to be softer making it more difficult to hit the ball farther, and the balls were replaced much less often so that a ball by the end of the game had some wear and tear to it, something definitely to the pitcher’s advantage. The spit ball was alive and legal. Pitchers would spit on the ball or scuff at it to alter the ball’s movement. When tobacco spit was added it made the ball harder to see. After Ray Chapman, a shortstop for Clevelend, was killed in 1920 from being beaned in the head while he was batting the live ball era began in 1920 and continues today. That year the spitball was banned and balls were replaced much more frequently during the course of the game. Ruth brought along the popularity of the home run at the beginning of this period, hitting 54 HRs in 1920, showing that swinging for the fences can pay big dividends.
The 1919 Black Sox scandal is one of the biggest scandals in sports history. During that year 8 members of the Chicago White Sox were banned from baseball for life for throwing games to give the series to the Cincinnati Reds. The players were to be paid large sums of money for throwing the games by having New York gangster Arnold Rothstein use his money to bet on the Reds winning. The players were more motivated to get paid to throw the games because their owner, Charles Comiskey, was quite the penny pincher. The term Black Sox most likely either comes from people and the press giving the White Sox a more tarnished name to fit the circumstance or could also come from Comiskey refusing to pay for the players’ uniforms to get cleaned so when the players didn’t wash them for several games the unis had a darker color to them. Shoeless Joe Jackson’s participation in the scandal is still debated although he was one of the eight to be banned for life. For me the stats and bits point to him NOT being a part of the scandal. George “Buck” Weaver was innocent but the league banned him for knowing and not turning them in even though the manager clearly knew.
I watched the film“Eight Men Out” which is based on the incident. I thought it was decent, nothing outstanding. It’s good for giving you a perception of what was going on, and it does have a good cast with Charlie Sheen and John Cusack in it, but it doesn’t compare to other great baseball movies for me like Field of Dreams or Sandlot.
Pete Rose was given a lifetime ban from baseball for betting heavily, $10,000 a day according to the Dowd Report, while he was playing with and managing the Cincinnati Reds. He later admitted in 2004 to these charges in his book My Prison Without Bars, also saying that he always bet for the Reds. Hank Aaron has been promoting his reinstatement recently. I just took an espn poll, and 77% of people thought he should be reinstated with 9,841 votes. In the
The head-first dive by Rose.
same poll, 72.7% said they thought performing enhancing drugs are a worse transgression than betting in your sport. Honestly, I think he should be reinstated. The commissioner who originally banned Rose died 8 days afterwards. If he didn’t die, he might have reinstated him later. Rose played mostly with the Reds from 1963 to 1986 and was a 3 time World Series Champion along with a 17 time All Star. He holds the all-time record for career hits with 4,256 (only him and Ty Cobb have broken the 4,000 mark), and also has records for games played and total at bats. He had a career average of .303 and won the batting title 3 times.
George Steinbrenner, former owner of the Yankees, was banned for life in 1990 for paying a private investigator $40,000 to get dirt on Dave Winfield after Winfield sued him for not paying him money guaranteed in his contract (which he ended up getting). As far as I can tell, there’s not much dirt to get on Winfield to begin with. I respect the guy. I liked him as a player, andI like his commentary on baseball tonight. Steinbrenner was reinstated 3 years later after Bud Selig replaced Fay Vincent as commissioner. Also, Steinbrenner was whining in a comment that he wasn’t getting production out of Winfield and Griffey, which lead Griffey Jr. to say the Yankees would be a team that he’d never play for. Finally, Steinbrenner forced Don Mattingly to sit the pine for a game in 1991 because he refused to cut his hair.
Amphetamines (named “greenies” by players for the color of the pill) were banned by the MLB in 2006. Greenies were introduced in the 1940s. They are addictive and can cause heart attacks or strokes, but players use(d) them to increase focus and energy. It wasn’t until 1970 that the pills were found to be harmful. A coffee pot marked with “Hot” in the clubhouse would often be spiked with amphetamines. They’re one of those things where you know they’ve been around in baseball but sort of a hushed thing–it might be news to a mediocre baseball fan that they’ve been around for so long and are so common. I don’t have any numbers on how many players use them, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s around 40-50%. Since they are now banned, players will certainly have to adjust without using them. It’s a 162 game season, getting as few as 2 or 3 off days a month. Legal supplements, energy drinks? It makes you wonder if there are any solid players out there who are completely “clean”–have never used greenies or steroids, just flat out work hard and have put up big numbers.
Jose Canseco. Was he a snitch, or did he do good for baseball? Yeah, he did need money, he seems to be one to like attention, and he certainly doesn’t say much about clean players. And I believe there are clean players out there and he knew some of them. But all in all I think it was better for baseball that it all got out. It was better for it to get out than to explode later on. I see truth in his statements, most of what he says makes sense, and it’s crushing to hear those things as a baseball fan, but I want the truth. I haven’t read his book yet but look forward to giving it a try.
Random fact: Alcohol was prohibited in the U.S. from 1919 to 1933. Just found that out..
This is just a combination of things in baseball I find significant. It took me a bit of time to collect all this stuff, hopefully somebody else will find this useful:
Barry Bonds has the most Career HRs all time with 762 and has the record for most HR in a season with 73 (2001). Despite breaking both of these huge records, nobody signed Bonds while he was a free agent in 2008. He won the NL MVP 7 times, the gold glove 8 times, and was a 14 time all star.
Mark Mcgwire is ranked 2nd in the record for single season HRs with 70 (583 career) and Sammy Sosa 3rd with 66 (609 career). They both accomplished this in the 1998 season. This is when the steroid hype really began to surface. Before 1998, Roger Maris had held the record since 1961 with 61 HRs. The record before Maris’ 61 was Babe Ruth’s 60 in 1927.
All time HRs: 2nd – Hank Aaron (755), 3rd – Babe Ruth (714), 4th – Willie Mays (660), and 5th – Ken Griffey Jr. (625 – still active player)
George Herman Ruth, Jr. , aka “The Babe”, was a lefty, won 7 world series titles in his career, won 3 with the Boston Red Sox, was sold to the Yankees in 1919, and then won 4 titles with them. He was a part of bringing the live ball era around, and the number 3 was retired in New York in 1948.
Nolan Ryan played from 1966 to 1993 (age 19 to 46) with the Mets, Angels, Astros, and of course, the Rangers. He got one world series title in ’69 with the Mets, he was an 8 time all star, but most notably, he set the MLB record for most career strikeouts with 5,714 and most no-hitters with 7, and is a part of the 300 win club (314). He holds the record for most Ks in a season in the live-ball era with 383 (Old Hoss Radbourn had 441 in 1884). The number 34 is retired by the Rangers and Astros.
Most career wins for a pitcher is Cy Young (played from 1890-1911) with 511. Live ball era, Warren Spahn (1942-1965), with 363, followed my Greg Maddux (1986-2008) with 355. Most wins in a season was by Hoss Radbourn (59-12) in 1884. Liveball era was Denny McLain (31-6) in 1946, 27 has been thrown twice, once by Steve Carlton in ’72, and once by Bob Welch in 1990. Since ’90, 24 has been thrown twice, once by John Smoltz in ’96, and once by Randy Johnson in 2002.
Ted Williams (Red Sox player from 1939-1960) had a .406 BA in 1941. Tony Gwynn had a .394 BA with 419 AB in 1994 but did not get to complete the season due to the player strike.
Rickey Henderson (1979-2003) is all time leader in SB with 1406. He is second all time in SB in a season with 130 in 1992. 1st in a single season is Hugh Nicol with 138 in 1887. Lou Brock (1961-1979 Cubs, Cardinals) is 2nd all time with 938 and 4th in single season record with 118 in 1974.
Most consecutive games played: Cal Ripken Jr., 2,632 games played from 1982-1998. Second most is Lou Gherig (“The Iron Horse”), with 2,130 consecutive games, from 1925 to 1939.
There are 27 players currently in the 3,000 hit club. Top 5: 1st – Pete Rose (4256), 2nd – Ty Cobb (4191), 3rd – Hank Aaron (3771), 4th – Stan Musial (3630), 5th – Tris Speaker (3514)
The longest game ever played time wise was 8 hours and 6 minutes, which took 25 innings. It was may 8-9, 1984 between the White Sox and Brewers. Because an inning can’t start after 12:59 A.M. according to the MLB, they played 17 innings that night and 8 innings the next day to finally decide the winner. Chicago won 7-6.
Jackie Robinson (played with the Dodgers from 1947-56) broke the color barrier for baseball and debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947 at Ebbets Field in New York, New York.
During his first season, Phillies called Robinson a “nigger” and told him “to go back to the cotton fields.” Some of his own teammates said they’d rather not play at all than play with him. Leo Durocher, the manager, had this to say:
I do not care if the guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a fuckin’ zebra. I’m the manager of this team, and I say he plays. What’s more, I say he can make us all rich. And if any of you cannot use the money, I will see that you are all traded.
Pee Wee Reece was a teammate and supporter of Robinson.
Robinson was a 6 time all star, won the NL MVP in 1949, won a world series in 1955, and stole home 19 times in his career. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962. In 1997, 50 years after he broke the barrier, the number 42 was retired across MLB. Mariano Rivera is the only MLB player that still wears his number on a regular basis due to a grandfather clause.
Jim Abbott was born with one hand. He was drafted in the first round (8th overall) in the 1988 draft, and went straight into the Angels rotation the following year, winning Rookie of the Year. Two seasons later he had 18 wins, and in 1993 he threw a no-hitter against the Indians while playing for the Yankees. Teams repeatedly tested his fielding ability by bunting, but to no avail. He used his left hand to pitch the ball, field the ball, and throw the ball. Awesome.