This Week in Baseball History


Forbes FieldAll facts are from http://www.canadianbaseballnews.com/ and http://www.todayinbaseballhistory.com.

June 26:  Derek Jeter is born in 1974.

June 27:  The first night game is played at Cleveland Stadium (1910).

June 28:  The Polo Grounds open in Brooklyn (1911). 

June 29:  Willie Mays hits three home runs in one game (1961); Willie Stargell hits his 400th home run (1977); Dave Stewart and Fernando Valenzuela both throw no-hitters (1990). 

June 30:  Forbes Field opens in Pittsburgh (1909); Riverfront Stadium opens in Cincinnati, with Hank Aaron hitting the first run in the stadium (1970); Larry Doby becomes the first black manager for the Chicago White Sox and the second black manager in American League history (1977); Eddie Murray gets his 3,000th career home run (1995).

July 1:  Walter Johnson throws his first no-hitter (1920); Roy Campanella makes his debut with Brooklyn (1948).

July 2:  Bob Feller wins his 200th game (1950); Jose and Ozzie Canseco are born in 1964.

 

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Sometimes You Gotta Heed the Warning Track


Warning track in front of out-of-town scoreboard at PNC Park

A sudden change in carpet texture beneath her feet alerted her that she was three yards from the exit. The warning track, as it was called by Peter Solomon, an avid baseball fan.  Trish stopped short, pulled out her key card, and groped in the darkness along the wall until she found the raised slot and inserted her card.  ~ Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol

I love it when art imitates life, or, rather, when art imitates baseball.  A friend alerted me to the above passage from a Dan Brown novel.  The warning track, according to The Dickson Baseball Dictionaryis the track in front of the outfield fence, the purpose of which is to “protect outfielders from crashing into the wall as they back up to catch a ball.  With his eyes fixed on the ball, a player knows he is nearing the wall as he senses the granular texture of the warning track with his feet.” 

Outfield fence and warning track, Bowie Baysox StadiumIgnoring the warning track and barreling into the outfield wall might get you the out you need against the opposing team, but sometimes it comes at a price.  Like yesterday, when the Angels’ Torii Hunter slammed into the outfield wall while chasing down a fly ball hit by Gaby Sanchez, bruising his ribs.  “I have to catch it at all costs,” Hunter said.  “But I paid for it.”  X-rays showed that Hunter is mostly fine, but he’ll be out for at least a couple of days.   

In life, however, sometimes we need to heed our personal warning tracks, even when the thrill of the catch is just a little too tempting.  Like this past week when I:  flew to Houston on Tuesday, hung out with a friend, saw my most favorite band from Spain in concert that night, toured Johnson Space Center and attended an Astros game the next day, all before flying home on Thursday; went shopping and got mani-pedis with another friend on Friday; took a mini-road trip in my car with nearly non-existent air conditioning to see my beloved Bowie Baysox play the Flying Squirrels the very next day; spent Sunday catching up on everything from laundry to food prep for the week (while watching the Orioles defeat the Nationals on TV); went to work and the gym on Monday; crashed from exhaustion and called in sick on Tuesday (though still making it to dance class Tuesday night); and then went to Baltimore on Wednesday for the U2 concert from which I did not get home until after 1 a.m. this morning.

There are plenty of life lessons to be learned from baseball, if we choose to be enlightened.  I ignored the warning track after Houston, kept on going, and crashed big-time into life.  Now I’m exhausted and have a throbbing headache and laryngitis.  I had fun, but, like Torii, “I paid for it.” 

~ baseballrebecca

This Week in Baseball History


Larry Doby in 1953All facts are from http://www.canadianbaseballnews.com/ and http://www.todayinbaseballhistory.com.

June 19
1903:  Lou Gehrig is born in New York.
1989:  Dwight Gooden wins his 100th career game.

June 20
1970:  Frank Robinson hits two grand slams in one game.
1982:  Pete Rose plays in his 3,000th major league game.

June 21
1946:  Bill Veeck purchases the Cleveland Indians.
1950:  Jo DiMaggio gets his 2,000th hit.
1994:  David Nied pitches the first complete-game shutout in Colorado Rockies history.

June 22
1891:  Thomas Lovetts throws the first no-hitter in Brooklyn Dodgers history.

June 23
1962:  Larry Doby signs with the Chunichi Dragons, becoming the first former leaguer (along with Don Newcombe) to play for a Japanese team.
1988:  George Steinbrenner fires Billy Martin for the fifth time.

June 24
1947:  Jackie Robinson steals home for the first time.  He’d do it 18 more times in his career.
1970:  The Reds play their final game at Crosley Field.
1979:  Rickey Henderson makes his major league debut for the Oakland A’s and steals his first base.
1984: Cleveland Pitcher Bert Blyleven records six putouts in a 9-inning game.

June 25
1968:  Bobby Bonds debuts with San Francisco and hits a grand slam on his third at-bat.
1988:  Cal Ripken, Jr., plays in his 1,000th consecutive game.

Baseball is Life


If baseball is life, then baseball vacations are life affirming. Take a mundane, uneventful life and add a little baseball in a city or town you’ve never been to. The result is a little time to remind yourself who you are and what’s important.

Seriously. I need to do this more often. Of course it probably helped that I stumbled upon the “Life is Good” store at Houston-Hobby airport. (Good friends help too.) Generally the “Do what you like, like what you do” slogan just taunts me. Today I realized it’s just a matter of perspective.

Sometimes all it takes is a little baseball to make life good again.

~ baseballrebecca

Prince George's County Stadium, Bowie, MD

Finally Over .500


Minute Maid ParkLast night I reached a major milestone.  I have now seen a game at 16 Major League Baseball stadiums – meaning I’m more than halfway toward reaching my goal of seeing a game at every MLB ballpark. My most recent accomplishment:  seeing a game at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.  All I need now are the ballparks of the Yankees, Mets, Rays, Tigers, White Sox, Twins, Rangers, Mariners, Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, Reds, Giants, and Padres.

Of course, if they’d stop building new stadiums, my record would be at 18.  But San Francisco and Seattle decided to build new stadiums after I’d already been there.  In fact, my record is actually better than would appear, since I’ve seen games at other stadiums that no longer exist, such as my beloved Memorial Stadium and Cleveland Municipal Stadium.  Fortunately, a few old stadiums are still standing, so I have been able to at least see the Astrodome and Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, though, sadly, I will never see games played at those stadiums.

When I mention my goal to see every MLB ballpark, some people look at me oddly, or say, “well, that’s a different kind of goal.”  I do have other goals. But I have to admit this one is probably a little realistic for me than the others, like saving the world or losing 30 pounds.   Sometimes you just have to go with what you’re good at.

~ baseballrebecca

This Week in Baseball History


All facts are from http://www.canadianbaseballnews.com/.

June 13, 1948: Babe Ruth’s number is retired on the 25th anniversary of Yankee Stadium.

June 13, 1999: Cal Ripken gets six hits and scores 5 runs for the Baltimore Orioles against the Atlanta Braves.

June 14, 1952: Warren Spahn strikes out 18 in a 15 inning game for the Boston Braves.

June 15, 1980: Jorge Orta of the Cleveland Indians hits six singles in one game.

June 16, 1978: Tom Seaver becomes the first Cincinnati Reds pitcher to throw a no-hitter at Riverfront Stadium.

June 17, 1880: The second perfect game in MLB was thrown (the first came in June 12).

June 17, 1915: George Zabel makes the longest relief appearance in MLB history when he relieves an injured starter in the first inning and goes on to pitch 18 1/3 innings.

June 18, 1970: Willie Mays gets his 3,000th hit.

June 19, 1977: Jim Colborn of the Kansas City Royals pitches the first no-hitter at Royals Stadium.

The Music of Baseball


My last post about walk-up songs got me thinking about music and baseball more generally.  Obviously, music is an important part of the baseball experience.  But baseball has also had an impact on music – and still does.

It is estimated that more than one thousand songs have been written about baseball.  The very first one may have been “The Baseball Polka,” composed in 1858 by J.R. Blodgett.  Sure, some of these are from are from by-gone days, but many have been written by guys we’ve actually heard of, too, like John Fogarty.  Ok, perhaps that’s still the olden days for some of you.  However, baseball’s presence is still felt in today’s music.  Though presumably not about baseball at all, the title of Death Cab for Cutie’s “No Joy in Mudville” clearly pays homage to the classic poem, “Casey at the Bat.”  Then there’s “The Best” by Five for Fighting, which was on the sound track for the 2006 animated baseball movie, “Everyone’s Hero.”  It gets to the true essence of baseball: 

What kind of love is the best kind of love?
The one above all the rest of the loves?
Grab a hat, a bat, a ball and a glove
It’s the love that I feel for you.

Now if this isn’t a clear indication of the great sociological impact of baseball, I don’t know what is.  I mean, how many songs have been written about golf?

~ baseballrebecca