Recently, the Louise Pettus Archives at Winthrop University uploaded videos from their collection to their YouTube channel, including the one I’ve posted below. The Pettus Archives maintains several resources related to the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, including videos, photos, and the papers of several AAGPBL players. If I’m ever in Rock Hill, South Carolina, I’ll have to stop by and check out their collection!
The city of Pasadena, CA, is alive with memories of Jackie Robinson – if you know where to look. Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born in Cairo, GA, on January 31, 1919. A year later his family moved to Pasadena. Along with another family, Jackie’s mother purchased a home at 121 Pepper Street. She would become sole owner a few years later.
Unfortunately, the house at 121 Pepper Street was torn down in the 1970s. In its place now stands a contemporary house built in 1977 on 123 Pepper Street (which is currently on the market for a mere $649,000). Outside the house, if you look down on the sidewalk, is a small plaque marking the location as the place the Robinsons once lived.
But that’s not the only place in Pasadena where you can find Jackie’s influence. Tune in on Thursday for more info!
Views of 123 Pepper Street, Pasadena, CA (February 2018)
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from the Birmingham jail, April 16, 1963
I drive past RFK Stadium nearly every day on the way to my day job (except for those days I decide to take the route that goes by Nats Park instead). It always makes me sad to see the once proud stadium in front of me with its peeling paint and overgrown parking lots. I feel as though its been calling out for help for quite some time now.
On Sunday, my friends and I made a pilgrimage to say our goodbyes to the beautiful, circular stadium that once was home to the Washington Senators, the Washington Nationals, and other teams of the Nation’s Capitol. Here are some of the appalling things we saw on the inside:
The first thing I noticed was weird stuff hanging off of the ceiling – is this peeling paint? weird dust bunnies? This was apparent before we even entered the stadium.
Once inside, the concrete and metal walkways immediately took me back to some of my favorite stadiums – like Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and Municipal Stadium in Cleveland – stadiums that no one else seemed to appreciate much. Even the then-state-of-the-art video screen on the concourse was pretty darn cool.
The peeling paint and nearly rotting seats, however, were quite appalling.
And the abandoned media suite – or whatever that was way up there – was just downright creepy.
But perhaps saddest of all, were the dugouts left over from the stadium’s baseball days – no longer used for their original purpose, but still proud of their history.
The conspiracy theorist in me naturally assumes this was all done on purpose: “If You Don’t Fix It, They Won’t Come.” In other words, don’t bother with upkeep, because folks want a fancy new stadium anyway and the sooner the old one falls apart, the sooner we can have a new one. But even if its big and outdated, its still a perfectly good stadium. Its not the stadium’s fault that its been treated rather shabbily since the Washington Nationals moved out.
As I’ve said before, there’s nothing sadder than an abandoned ballpark. Whatever the reasons for its virtual abandonment before it ceased to be used, my heart aches for RFK Stadium, whom I will always miss.
On Sunday, we said goodbye to Washington, D.C.’s RFK Stadium. For now, it’s future is unclear, but at least for the next year or so it will still house the practice fields of the D.C. United soccer team, who will be moving to their shiny new soccer-only stadium next year.
It’s always hard to say goodbye – especially to a baseball stadium. Of course, baseball hasn’t been played there in a while, but I will always remember it for the baseball games and rock concerts I attended there in my youth.
RFK opened on October 7, 1961. It was home to the Washington Senators from 1962 to 1971, and the Washington Nationals from 2005 to 2007. (And other sports that aren’t nearly as important as baseball.) It also hosted the occasional pre-season exhibition game in the 1980s and 1990s (before the Nationals came to town), as well as Congressional Baseball games. Sadly, I only ever saw one Nats game there before they moved across town to Nats Park.
This past week, several media outlets published sentimental send-offs for our beloved RFK Stadium. Below are links to just a few:
Rafael “Felo” Ramirez passed away yesterday at the age of 94. He was the Spanish-language radio announcer for the Miami Marlins. But he was much more than that.
Ramirez was born in Bayamo, Cuba, on June 22, 1923. Growing up in Cuba he played second base for a local team. As the story goes, one day he began calling plays with a friend’s microphone. And the rest was history.
According to the Miami Herald, Ramirez began his professional radio career at Radio Salas in Havana in 1945, where he worked for 9 years. Later he became a broadcaster in Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. In fact, Ramirez was involved in more than 40 Caribbean World Series. He also was a boxing expert and called many professional boxing matches.
In 2001, the Baseball Hall of Fame honored Ramirez with the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting and in 2003 he was inducted in to the Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame. Venezuela’s Magallanes Navigators honored him in 2012 for his more than 60 years as a sports announcer.
Earlier this year, I posted a link to an oral history with Ramirez. I only wish I’d had more time to listen to him call ball games.
Thanks for sharing baseball with us, Felo!
Gracias por todos los años, Felo. Mi sentido pésame a tus familiares y personas que te amaban, que Dios te tenga en la gloria, QEPD #HOF 🇨🇺 pic.twitter.com/1dumtryWlf
As promised last week, I want to look more closely at issues in Venezuela, especially as they intersect with baseball. One of the basic ideas of Sport Sociology and Baseball Sociology is that sport is a microcosm of life – thus, sport can both reflect what’s going on in society as well as become a part of it. Baseball is no exception.
Part 1 of this series will provide a brief history of baseball in Venezuela; Part 2 will look at some of the recent political and economic issues in Venezuela; and Part 3 will bring us back to the current impact of those events on baseball. While I am not an expert on Venezuela or Venezuelan baseball, I can provide a brief overview of the issues to help us be better informed. I welcome comments from those who are experts in these issues.
According to Baseball Reference, baseball was introduced to Venezuela in the 1890s by Venezuelan students who had studied at U.S. colleges. Over the next few decades baseball grew in popularity and eventually professional teams developed. In 1927, the Federación Venezolana de Béisbol was founded, followed by the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League in 1945. The first major leaguer from Venezuela was Alejandro Carrasquel, who debuted with the Washington Senators on April 23, 1939. Since then, more than 200 Venezuelans have played Major League Baseball. Luis Aparicio was the first Venezuelan to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Venezuela national baseball team participated in a variety of international events in the first half of the 20th century, making its first international appearance at the Central American Games in 1938 (where the took 4th place). Baseball became even more popular in Venezuela when it won the Amateur World Series (later called the Baseball World Cup) in 1941, after placing 4th in 1940. Between 1940 and 1970, Venezuela won a total of 9 medals at the World Cup: 3 gold, 2 silver, and 4 bronze. Venezuela also won gold at the 1954 Central American and Caribbean Games and the 1959 Pan American Games.
Venezuela won the Caribbean Series championship in 1970, after the competition was re-established (it has been dissolved in 1960 after the Cuban Revolution), and captured the championship six more times between 1979 and 2009. In 2009, Venezuela took third place at the World Baseball Classic.
In short, there is a rich baseball history in Venezuela, and Venezuelans love their national pastime. MLB loved Venezuelan baseball, too, at least until recently. Later this week, we’ll look at the economic and political situation in Venezuela…