Stat-urday, 7/13/2019


1280px-An_Oakland_A's_Pitcher_Delivers_During_A_Game_With_The_Home_Team_Chicago_Cubs_At_Wrigley_Field,_07-1973_(8674830191)

Vida Blue pitching for the Oakland A’s, July 1973 (photo courtesy of the National Archives via Wikipedia)

Next Saturday marks a big anniversary. Well, make that two – because July 20th is the 50th anniversary of Vida Blue’s Major League debut, when he pitched 5 1/3 innings for the Oakland A’s giving up 6 hits and 5 runs (3 earned). The following day, the New York Times barely mentioned Blue’s inauspicious first outing in its summary of the Angels and A’s doubleheader: “In the first game Aurelio Rodriguez and Jim Spencer greeted the major league debut of southpaw picture, Vida Blue, with Homers.” [“A’s Top Angels, 9-6 after 7-3 Defeat: Jackson Clouts 37th Homer – Bando Also Connects,” The New York Times, July 21, 1969, p. 44]

Of course, the less than memorable event may have been overshadowed by news of the Apollo 11 moon landing on the same day, which got more space in the sport section than did Blue:

Baseball paid tribute to America’s astronauts yesterday by halting play at three ball parks when the lunar module, Eagle, touched down on the moon. In Philadelphia, the second game of a double-header between the Phillies and the Chicago Cubs was stopped for five minutes in the third inning and players from both teams lined up along the foul lines. There was a moment of silent prayer for continued success of the mission and a recording was played of Kate Smith singing “God Bless America.” The lunar landing was also observed at Montreal’s Jarry Park, where the Expos played the New York Mets, and at Atlanta Stadium, where the Braves played the San Diego Padres.” [“Three Baseball Parks Salute the Touchdown,” New York Times, July 21, 1960, p. 43.]

According to the Society of American Baseball Research, Blue started three more games for the A’s in 1969 and then spent the rest of the season in the bullpen. The following season he started for the triple-Iowa Oaks before being called up to the A’s in September. Blue would go on to pitch in the majors for an additional 15 years until his retirement in 1986. Over his MLB career, he pitched in 502 games, starting 473 times. He won 209 games, lost 161, and saved 2. His career ERA was 3.27.

Happy Stat-urday!

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

 

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Baseball with Sound Effects


Just before a particularly lively 6th inning at the Rangers v. A’s game last night, the crowd was getting restless. Two pitchers were warming up in the bullpen as Yu Darvish was beginning to fade.

It was then that the most entertaining part of the game came – before the home run, before the bases were loaded. A’s fans added sound effects to the warm-up pitches:


At first, I wasn’t sure if there was a connection between the warm-up tosses and the sounds. But after watching closely for a few throws, I was sure:


Some teams have the best fans! Thanks, Oakland, for an entertaining night!

~ baseballrebecca



LGBT Nights at the Ballpark


zoom-1Just three weeks ago, Sean Conroy pitched a 3-hit shutout for the Sonoma Stompers (of the independent league Pacific Association Baseball Clubs). It was Conroy’s first start with the team since being signed right out of college in May. It also happened to be Pride Night at the Stompers.

Oh. And Conroy just so happens to be the first openly gay professional baseball player in the nation’s history.

The weird thing is, though, the media hasn’t really said much about it. There appears to have been one AP article that was picked up by a lot of news outlets, including ESPN.com. The Washington Times picked up the story, but not the New York Times ­– at least not fully. Buried at the bottom of an AP article summarizing the previous night’s games is a few sentences with the title, “Openly Gay Pitcher in the Minors.” The next day, the NYT printed another AP piece titled, “10 Things to Know for Today.” Listed between #6, “Trump Comments Rankle TV Networks,” and #8, “Bristol Palin Pregnant Again,” was “Who Made Diamond History.” And all it states is: “Baseball history is made in Northern California wine country when 23-year-old Sean Conroy, the sport’s first active professional player to come out as gay, pitches a shutout.”

In my research on diversity/heritage days and other observances at baseball stadiums this year, I’ve run across only a handful of LGBT pride events. However, the more digging I did, the more I realized that a lot of teams had such events, they just didn’t necessarily advertise them – often remaining completely silent and leaving the organizing and advertising up to partner organizations.

Of course, when the Oakland A’s announced they’d be holding their first-ever Pride Night on June 17 this year, some fans were not too happy about it. However, one player’s girlfriend took care of the problem by offering to buy people’s tickets. She blogged, “So, A’s fans; if attending a baseball game on LGBT Pride Night makes you at all uncomfortable, it is probably a good idea to sell your tickets. And I have the perfect buyer. ME!” The tickets she purchased, she said, would be donated to the Bay Area LGBTQ youth center. She also set up a “Go Fund Me Page” to purchase more tickets for the community center. She and A’s ballplayer Sean Doolittle pledged to match the first $3,000 in donations.

Some teams have been holding LGBT pride events for years – such as the Chicago White Sox and San Francisco Giants. Others are just starting to befriend this part of the community, such as the Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays, both of whom held their first LGBT events this year.

Here’s the list of pride events I’ve found so far. The lack of information is astounding. As I learn more, I’ll post more on this issue.

~ baseballrebecca

Date Team Event
6/3 Detroit Pride Night
6/10 Atlanta LGBT Night
6/12 Red Sox Pride Night
6/12 Tampa Bay Pride Night
6/17 A’s Pride Night
6/17 Nationals Night Out (LGBT)
6/18 Mets LGBT Night
6/18 Nashville Night Out at the Ballpark
6/19 Dodgers LGBT Pride Night
6/23 Bridgeport Bluefish LGBTQ Community Night
6/26 Giants LGBT Night
6/30 Orioles LGBT Baseball Night Out
7/6 Staten Island Pride Night
7/16 Buffalo Out at the Ballpark
7/30 Phillies Gay Community Night
8/9 Columbus Pride Night
8/18 Reading LGBT/Reading
Pride Celebration
8/25 Toronto Play with Pride Night
8/29 White Sox Out at the Sox