The Sociological Importance of April 15 in Baseball History


Jackie Robinson, Brooklyn Dodgers, 1954.jpgIn this period of no baseball, I’ve been reading up on baseball history. There are several good sites for this, including: Today in Baseball History, Nationalpastime.com, and Baseball Reference. As I checked out these sites today, I was surprised to learn how important April 15th is for baseball – both historically and sociologically.

Of course, we all know April 15th as Jackie Robinson Day. On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball. The 50th anniversary of his feat was commemorated in 1997 and during the celebration the Commissioner of Baseball announced that the number 42 would be retired for every team. On April 15, 2004, MLB began the annual tradition of celebrating Jackie Robinson Day.

April 15, however, was the date for several other important firsts, including:

  • The first game played by a “full-blooded” American Indian. On April 15, 1921, Moses J. Yellow Horse (also known as Chief Yellow Horse), made his Major League debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The right-handed pitcher was a member of the Pawnee tribe in Oklahoma and played for the Pirates in 1921 and 1922.
  • The first Puerto Rican to play Major League Baseball. On April 15, 1942, Hiram Bithorn made his Major League debut. Also a right-handed pitcher, Bithorn was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, in 1916 and spent four years in the majors.
  • The first Major League game played on the west coast. On April 15, 1958, the first File:Reggie Jackson - New York Yankees - 1981.jpgMLB game was played in California as the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers meet for the first time.
  • The first Major Leaguer with facial hair – at least since the 1930s. On April 15, 1972, Reggie Jackson, reflecting the times, played for the Oakland A’s wearing a mustache. This began a trend with the team and the 1972 A’s became known as the “Mustache Gang.”

There were many other baseball firsts on April 15, but perhaps none as sociologically important as the ones mentioned above.

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

Stat-urday, 12/21/2019


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Dean Kremer, shown above with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in 2018, played for the Norfolk Tides in 2019. He is one of eight Jewish AAA players (photo by Spanneraol via Wikipedia).

On Monday, I posted a quote by Al Schacht, a right-handed pitcher who played for the Washington Senators between 1919 and 1921. In the 53 games of his career, he posted an ERA of 4.48 and a win-loss percentage of .583. According to Wikipedia, “Schacht’s ability to mimic other players from the coaching lines, and his comedy routines with fellow Washington coach Nick Altrock, earned him the nickname of ‘The Clown Prince of Baseball.’” After his pitching career, Schacht was the Senators’ third base coach from 1924 to 1934 and then was the Boston Red Sox’ third base coach  from 1935 to 1936.

Schacht is one of 170 Jewish baseball players that have played Major League Baseball. In 2019, there were 82 baseball players in leagues around the U.S. who were Jewish:

  • 8 in Major League Baseball
  • 8 on triple-A teams
  • 12 on double-A teams
  • 5 on single-A teams
  • 5 on short season A teams
  • 21 in the rookie leagues
  • 22 in the independent leagues

Happy Stat-urday!

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

 

A Revised All-Samoan Lineup


File:Kiner-Falefa, Mayfield (35493146632) (cropped).jpg

Isiah Kiner-Falefa with the Frisco RoughRiders in 2017. Photo by Th3TruthPhotos via Wikipedia.

Recently, a kind reader identified another player of Samoan descent for my “All-Samoan Lineup” that I put together a little over a year ago. The latest member of the lineup: Isiah Kiner-Falefa, infielder and catcher with the Texas Rangers.

Kiner-Falefa was born on March 23, 1995, in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 2013 draft and started his professional career that year with the Arizona League Rangers. In 2014, he played for the Arizona Rangers, the Spokane Indians, and the Hickory Crawdads. He started the following year with the Crawdads before being promoted to the High Desert Mavericks. He was promoted again in 2016 to the Frisco RoughRiders, where he also played in 2017. In 2018, he was assigned to the triple-A Round Rock Express and made his MLB debut on April 10, 2018. In 2019, Kiner-Falefa spent time with the Rangers, the Nashville Sounds, and the Frisco Rough Riders.

The other Samoan players are/were:

  • Tony Solaita – (1/15/1947 – 2/10/1990), 1B; the first (and only) baseball player from American Samoa
  • Benny Agbayani, LF
  • Matt Tuiasosopo, 3B, OF, and 1B
  • Chris Aguila, OF
  • Mike Fetters, Pitcher
  • Wes Littleton, Pitcher
  • Sean Manaea, Pitcher

Hopefully, there will be more players to add in the future! Let me know if you know of any more!

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month


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Chan Ho Park with the New York Yankees in

As we near the close of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I thought I’d do some quick research on the first player to make it to the Major Leagues from Asian countries (see table below). While players from some countries – like Japan and China – made it to the majors decades ago, other nations have been represented only recently.

In the 1990s, we welcomed players from South Korea (Chan Ho Park, left, was the first), Vietnam, Singapore, and the Philippines. Today, however, Asian-born players make up a small proportion of all major leaguers. Currently, MLB has only one player born in Hong Kong (Austin Brice), nine from Japan, six from South Korea, and five from Taiwan).

This is obvious a topic deserving of in-depth research, so, stay tuned!

~ baseballrebecca

Country First MLB Player Debut Year Team Years Played Notes
 China Harry Kingman 1914 New York Yankees 1914
 Indonesia Tom Mastny 2006 Cleveland Indians 2006-08 Grew up in Indiana; played for the Yokohama BayStars in 2009
 Japan Masanori Murakami 1964 San Franciscon Giants 1954-65 Also played for Nankai Hawks (1963, 1966-74); Hanshin Tigers (1975); Nippon-Ham Fighters (1976-82)
 Philippines Bobby Chouinard 1996 Oakland Athletics 1998-2001 Played high school baseball in Oregon
 Singapore Robin Jennings 1996 Chicago Cubs 1996-97, 1999, 2001
South Korea Chan Ho Park 1994 Los Angeles Dodgers 1994-2010 Also played for the Orix Bufaloes and Hanwha Eagles in the Korean Baseball League
 Taiwan Chin-Feng Chen 2002 Los Angeles Dodgers 2002-2005 Also played for the Lamigo Monkeys in the Chinese Baseball League (2006-16)
 Vietnam Danny Graves 1996 Cleveland Indians 1996-2006 His father is American and his mother Vietnamese
Kingdom of Hawaii Johnnie Williams 1914 Detroit Tigers 1914

2019 Heritage Nights at the Ballpark, Part 2


17991985_10210450229270161_7373124005593779385_nLast week I posted the first half of the my annual celebrations of our many national, ethnic, and religious heritages. I’ve posted the second half below. So get out there and celebrate your heritage and the heritage of your friends and neighbors!

~ baseballrebecca

African American Heritage Celebrations and Negro Leagues Tributes

Date Team Details
16-Apr Nationals Jackie Robinson and Black Heritage Day
1-Jun Pirates Heritage Night/Negro Leagues Uniforms
7-Jun Brewers Negro Leagues Tribute Game
19-Jun Cardinals African American Heritage Night
19-Jun Dodgers African American Heritage Night
20-Jun A’s African American Heritage Night
23-Jun Royals Salute to the Negro Leagues Day
28-Jun Reds African American Community Night
23-Jul Giants African American Heritage Night
10-Aug Tigers 100th Anniversary Detroit Stars Replica Jersey

 

Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Celebrations

8-Apr Giants Chinese Heritage Night
21-Apr Marlins Japanese Heritage Celebration
21-May Giants Filipino Heritage Night 1
24-May Giants Japanese Heritage Night
21-Jun Dodgers Filipino Night
23-Jun Mariners Japanese Heritage Day
19-Jul Giants Polynesian Heritage Night
Jul-19 Dodgers Japan Night
26-Jul A’s Pacific Islander Heritage Night
29-Jul Padres Japanese Community Night
1-Aug Dodgers Korea Night
2-Aug Dodgers Hawaiian Night
6-Aug Mariners Korean Heritage Night
10-Aug Padres Filipino Heritage Night
15-Aug Rangers Hawaiian Heritage Night
16-Aug A’s Korean Heritage Night
20-Aug A’s Chinese Heritage Night
23-Aug Mariners Filipino Heritage Night
7-Sep Padres Pacific Islander Heritage Night

 

Native American Heritage Celebrations

Date Team Details
14-May Giants Native American Heritage Night
1-Jun D’backs Native American Recognition Day
30-Jul A’s Native American Heritage Night
12-Sep Mariners Salute to Native American Night

 

Heritage Celebrations for Other Folks

Date Team Details
29-May Phillies Greek Heritage Night
31-May A’s Greek Heritage Night
11-Jun Giants Portuguese Heritage Night
18-Jun Padres Scottish Heritage Night
24-Jun Red Sox Catholic Night
26-Jul Padres Catholic Night
27-Jul A’s Portuguese Heritage Night
6-Aug Tigers Arab American Night
10-Aug Tigers Armenian Tigers Fan Night
15-Aug A’s Indian Heritage Night
27-Aug Padres Portuguese Heritage Night
14-Sep Nationals Taste of the World International Food Festival
27-Sep Giants Greek Heritage Night

 

 

 

2019 Heritage Nights at the Ballpark, Part 1


Image result for internationalAs a Baseball Sociologist, some of my favorite ballpark promotions are heritage nights. Even if you aren’t from a particular community, you can still celebrate with your neighbors, learn something about their heritage, watch some cool dances or presentations, and eat food you don’t normally get to taste.

This year, the Oakland A’s and the San Francisco Giants are doing the most heritage nights – 14 each.  The Padres and Marlins are right behind them with 11 and 10, respectively. In addition, the Marlins introduced “Comunidad 305” this year. They have a dedicated area in the ballpark where they “celebrate culture every game.” According to their website: “No matter where you are from, you are part of what makes Miami great. We are fusing our pride for our Heritage, our city, our diversity and our team to represent every night. Musical instruments, flags and more will be welcomed and encouraged.”

However, 19 teams – that’s NINETEEN teams – have two or fewer heritage days scheduled. At least from my count. Granted, sometimes it’s hard to find where they have the list on their websites. But then again, if it’s not advertised that well, does it really count?

Below are the first groupings I’m posting: Jewish Heritage Nights, Irish/Italian/German/ Polish Heritage Nights, and Latin American Heritage Nights. I decided to group Irish, Italian, German, and Polish heritage nights together because they are European heritage groups that are frequently celebrated at the ballpark. I chose these three groupings simply because they have celebration nights this coming up this weekend. Finally, I’ve included past dates just so you can see if you’re team or group were celebrated and when.

Keep in mind that several of these events include a giveaway item with a special ticket – so be sure to check the team websites for more information. Next week I’ll post additional heritage nights, so stay tuned!

~ baseballrebecca

 

 Jewish Heritage Celebrations

Date Team Details
19-May Tigers Jewish Heritage Day
19-May Marlins Jewish Heritage Celebration
28-May Reds Jewish Community Night
13-Jun Red Sox Jewish Pride Night
22-Jul Mariners Jewish Community Night
21-Aug A’s Jewish Heritage Night
26-Aug Phillies Jewish Heritage Celebration
27-Aug Giants Jewish Heritage Night
15-Sep Nationals Jewish Community Day
20-Sep Tigers Jewish Heritage Night

 

Irish/Italian/German/Polish Heritage Celebrations

Date Team Details
11-Apr Giants Irish Heritage Night
17-May Tigers Polish American Night
8-Jun Padres Irish Heritage Night
12-Jun Phillies Irish Heritage Night
13-Jun White Sox Polish Heritage Night
14-Jun Marlins Italian Heritage Celebration
20-Jun Mariners Italian Heritage Night
16-Jul Phillies Italian Heritage Night
25-Jul Mariners Irish Heritage Night
3-Aug A’s Italian Heritage Night
9-Aug Padres Italian Heritage Night
15-Aug Reds Irish Community Night
27-Aug Tigers Italian Heritage Night
30-Aug Giants Italian Heritage Night
14-Sep Nationals Oktoberfest
17-Sep A’s Irish Heritage Night
20-Sep Orioles O’stoberfest
21-Sep Reds German Community Night
24-Sep Giants Oktoberfest
28-Sep Mariners Oktoberfest

 

Latin American Heritage Celebrations

Date Team Details
20-Apr Marlins Puerto Rican Heritage Celebration
8-May Dodgers Mexican Heritage Night
17-May Marlins Cuban Heritage Celebration
11-Jun White Sox Greek Heritage Night
15-Jun Marlins Nicaraguan Heritage Celebration
21-Jun Royals Viva Los Reales
30-Jun Marlins Venezuelan Heritage Celebration
12-Jul Marlins Colombian Heritage Celebration
24-Aug Marlins Dominican Heritage Celebration
6-Sep White Sox Hispanic Heritage Night
7-Sep Marlins Mexican Heritage Celebration
8-Sep A’s Latinx Heritage Day
12-Sep Phillies German Heritage Celebration
13-Sep Giants Fiesta Gigantes Night
14-Sep D’backs Hispanic Heritage Day
15-Sep Cardinals Fiesta Cardenales
15-Sep Cubs Hispanic Heritage Night
15-Sep Mariners Salute to Latin American Beisbol Day
16-Sep A’s Mexican Heritage Night
16-Sep Brewers Hispanic Heritage Night
20-Sep Dodgers Dia de Los Dodgers
20-Sep Padres Hispanic Heritage Weekend
21-Sep Astros Hispanic Heritage Street Festival
21-Sep Astros Hispanic Heritage Street Festival
21-Sep Padres Hispanic Heritage Weekend
22-Sep Padres Hispanic Heritage Weekend
26-Sep Nationals Roberto Clemente and Hispanic Heritage Day

 

 

 

Stat-urday, 3/31/2018


Yesterday, MLB Communications tweeted stats on players born outside the United States. Foreign-born players made up 29% of the players on MLB Opening Day Rosters, including one player from Lithuania, one from South Africa, and 219 from Latin America.

~ baseballrebecca