Earthmen and Spacettes at the Ballpark


Our countdown to the moon landing anniversary continues with this photo of the Houston Astros grounds crew (circa 1965), which was tweeted out a few years ago by @AstrosDaily:

The photo reminds us the links between the Houston Astros and the space program and how sport and community are closely intertwined. The Astros and their former stadium, the Astrodome, were named in honor of NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, which had opened its doors in Houston in 1963 (it was renamed Johnson Space Center in 1973). At the Astrodome, Earthmen tended to the astroturf, Spacettes helped you find your seats, and the Astros played baseball.

Check out more cool pics from the Houston Chronicle, Houston History Magazine, Uni Watch, and Getty Images.

~ baseballrebecca

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The Houston Astrodome in 1965 looking a little extraterrestrial (photo courtesy of Wikipedia).

 

 

 

 

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Apollo at the Park


DSCN8874In a great example of the intersection among baseball, pop culture, and American history, this summer baseball fans at 15 stadiums across the country will have the opportunity to see and interact with a replica of the spacesuit worn by Neil Armstrong 50 years ago when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. The replica suit was created from 3-D scans of the original spacesuit that was restored in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, which happened on July 20, 1969.

Last week, the National Air and Space Museum installed the first replica at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. It will be on display for the remainder of the season. Apollo at the Park can be seen at the following teams’ stadiums:

  • Atlanta Braves
  • Boston Red Sox
  • Chicago Cubs
  • Cleveland Indians
  • Cincinnati Reds
  • Colorado Rockies
  • Detroit Tigers
  • Houston Astros
  • Minnesota Twins
  • New York Yankees
  • Pittsburgh Pirates
  • San Francisco Giants
  • Seattle Mariners
  • Tampa Bay Rays
  • Washington Nationals

Check out the video in the tweet below for more info on the project:

 

 

~ baseballrebecca

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Scenes from a Nats Game: The Traditions


DSCN8879The thing that led me to become a baseball sociologist is the simple fact that each team and ballpark has their own distinct personality. Part of that is the traditions that occur at the park. At Nats Park, traditions include the President’s Race, a stupid cheer (“Nats, Nats, Nats, Woo!”), singing stupid songs at the 7th inning (like “Take on Me” by A-ha), showing up late, and roaming around the stadium not really paying attention to the game. I caught several of these on camera at the game I attended last week.

Saluting the military:

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The presidents and the Presidents’ Race:

 

The bullpen cart that almost nobody rides in (but it still zooms around the park anyway):

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Standing around chatting, not paying attention to the game, and blocking the view for those of us who actually want to watch the game:

 

 

Only at Nats Park!

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

Dell Chambers, PFC, U.S. Army


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Udell Chambers (photo courtesy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund)

Over the past several years, my annual Memorial Day post has sought to remind us that Memorial Day is a holiday to honor and remember those who died while serving in the Armed Forces. While baseball fans have the day off, players don special uniforms, MLB tries to sell us those special uniforms, and Justin Verlander continues to educate us about Memorial Day poppies, its also important to take time to think about what Memorial Day really means. Last year we honored Elmer Gedeon, baseball player and Army Captain, who died during World War II. This year, we remember Dell Chambers, who died while serving in Vietnam.

Udell Chambers was born on February 2, 1948, in Clayton, Missouri, and attended Kirkwood High School in nearby Kirkwood, MO. According to the website, Baseball’s Greatest Sacrifice, developed by Gary Bedingfield, “Dell was perfectly suited as a shortstop or centerfielder, and he was the prototype leadoff hitter. He possessed such remarkable baseball talent during his prep years that he was recruited by the Atlanta Braves during his senior year in 1966. He reported to Sarasota (Florida) of the Gulf Coast League and was playing professional baseball just weeks after receiving his cap and gown.”

At the age of 18, Chambers signed with the Atlanta Braves and was assigned to the Gulf Coast League Braves. The next season he was promoted to the Class A Lexington Braves of the Western Carolinas League. In 1967, he batted .325 with 12 home runs and 64 RBI. He received his draft notice in September 1967, just after the end of the season. He was assigned to the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division and did basic training at Fort Sill in Oklahoma. His unit was sent to Vietnam in February 1968, two weeks after the beginning of the Tet Offensive. On the night of June 21, 1968, Chambers was stationed just outside the city of Da Nang in the Binh Duong Province when the North Vietnamese attacked. Chambers and two fellow soldiers from his unit, Sgt. William Law and PFC James Zyboyovski, died in the attack. Chambers was just 20 years old.

Chambers was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, the National Defense Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal. As the Baseball Greatest Sacrifice website notes, “[Chambers] was very well liked by those who knew him; he had tremendous potential as a baseball athlete; and he served his country during a most unpopular war and paid for it with his life. We all owe him our indebted gratitude.”  Thank you for your sacrifice, PFC Chambers.

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day, everyone!

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stat-urday, 5/18/2019


https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d2/Dodger_Stadium_field_from_upper_deck_2015-10-04.jpgAfter two rain outs in a row in New York this week, I started wondering how the weather has affected games and attendance this year, and stumbled upon an interesting article about MLB attendance being down for the sixth straight year. Last year, they tried to blame it on the weather, but that doesn’t seem to be the case this year.

Below are the stats for this year’s attendance so far, courtesy of Baseball-reference.com. A whopping 18 teams have lower attendance this year than for the same time last year.

What do you think is causing the drop in attendance and what should MLB do about it?

Average Attendance per Game
Miami 9,516
Tampa Bay 14,540
Baltimore 14,972
Cleveland 15,285
Kansas City 15,525
Pittsburgh 15,717
Detroit 16,359
Cincinnati 17,124
Chicago White Sox 17,362
Minnesota 19,151
Oakland 19,541
Toronto 19,841
Seattle 23,066
Arizona 26,560
Washington 26,908
Texas 27,698
New York Mets 28,219
Atlanta 29,457
San Diego 30,454
Houston 31,941
San Francisco 32,669
Colorado 32,919
Milwaukee 33,079
Boston 33,902
Los Angeles Angels 34,866
Chicago Cubs 35,998
Philadelphia 36,130
New York Yankees 39,316
St. Louis 41,449
Los Angeles Dodgers 47,346

Happy Stat-urday!

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

 

A Day with the Yard Goats


IMG_3035Each year I try to visit a new team and a new stadium. This year my pick was the Hartford Yard Goats, who play at Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford, Connecticut.

The Yard Goats arrived in Hartford in 2016 when the New Britain Rock Cats relocated to Hartford. However, they can trace their heritage back to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, when they were known as the Pittsfield Red Sox, the double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox from 1965 to 1969. In 1970, that team moved to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where they played as the Pawtucket Red Sox from 1970 to 1972. When the Red Sox moved their triple-A franchise to Pawtucket, the double-A team moved again to Bristol, Connecticut, where they played from 1973 to 1982.

The team moved against in 1983 to New Britain Connecticut. In 1995, they changed their affiliation to the Minnesota Twins and were renamed the Hardware City Rock Cats. They changed their name again in 1997 to the New Britain Rock Cats. In 2015, they became the DSCN8440double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. Although they became the Hartford Yard Goats in 2016, Dunkin’ Donuts Park was not completed, so they played the entire season on the road. They moved to their new park in 2017.

We visited the Yard Goats on Saturday, April 27 – a chilly, overcast day in Hartford. It turned out to be a double header, as the game the previous night had been rained out. Fortunately, Dunkin’ Donuts has a shop in Dunkin’ Donuts Park, as it was the perfect day for a nice, hot drink.

All-in-all it was a great place to see a game. Next time, however, I’ll go when it’s a bit warmer.

~ baseballrebecca