I don’t want to be one of those great players who never made the Series.
George Rolfe Humphries was born in 1894, the son of Jack (John) Humphries, an 1880s professional baseball player. Rolfe Humphries grew up to write poetry, translate literature, teach Latin, and coach athletics, but naturally, his interests also gravitated towards baseball. “Polo Grounds” is his tribute to New York Giants baseball — as well as, it appears, to his father.
Time is of the essence. This is a highly skilled
And beautiful mystery. Three or four seconds only
From the time that Riggs connects till he reaches first,
And in those seconds Jurges goes to his right,
Comes up with the ball, tosses to Witek at second,
For the force on Reese, Witek to Mize at first,
In time for the out—a double play.
(Red Barber crescendo. Crowd noises, obbligatio;
Scattered staccatos from the peanut boys,
Loud in the lull, as the teams are changing sides) . . .
Hubbell takes the sign, nods, pumps, delivers—
A foul into the stands. Dunn takes a new ball out,
Hands it to Danning, who throws it down to Werber;
Werber takes off his glove, rubs the ball briefly,
Tosses it over to Hub, who goes to the rosin bag,
Takes the sign from Danning, pumps, delivers—
Low, outside, ball three. Danning goes to the mound,
Says something to Hub, Dunn brushes off the plate,
Adams starts throwing in the Giant bullpen,
Hub takes the sign from Danning, pumps, delivers,
Camilli gets hold of it, a long fly to the outfield,
Ott goes back, back, back, against the wall, gets under it,
Pounds his glove, and takes it for the out.
That’s all for the Dodgers. . . .
Time is of the essence. The rhythms break,
More varied and subtle than any kind of dance;
Movement speeds up or lags. The ball goes out
In sharp and angular drives, or long slow arcs,
Comes in again controlled and under aim;
The players wheel or spurt, race, stoop, slide, halt,
Shift imperceptibly to new positions,
Watching the signs according to the batter,
The score, the inning. Time is of the essence.
Time is of the essence. Remember Terry?
Remember Stonewall Jackson, Lindstrom, Frisch,
When they were good? Remember Long George Kelly?
Remember John McGraw and Benny Kauff?
Remember Bridwell, Tenney, Merkle, Youngs,
Chief Meyers, Big Jeff Tesreau, Shufflin’ Phil?
Remember Mathewson, Ames, and Donlin,
Buck Ewing, Rusie, Smiling Mickey Welch?
Remember a left-handed catcher named Jack Humphries,
Who sometimes played the outfield, in ’83?
Time is of the essence. The shadow moves
From the plate to the box, from the box to second base,
From second to the outfield, to the bleachers.
Time is of the essence. The crowd and players
Are the same age always, but the man in the crowd
Is older every season. Come on, play ball!
The Kansas City Cowboys were admitted to the American Association on January 17, 1888, after the New York Metropolitans folded. The Brooklyn Dodgers purchased what remained of the Mets, hoping to obtain the services of the now-unemployed New York players. The Cowboys, meanwhile, would have a rough inaugural season, finishing with a 43-89 record, putting them in last place in the AA.
The television series Pitch aired on Fox in 2016, and I watched it perhaps a year later. I have been meaning to write about it here ever since, but I think the delay has been largely due to debating how I would approach this thing. When I watched Ken Burns’s Baseball documentary series, I wrote about it one episode at a time. However, each episode of that series is approximately two hours long and crammed full of information. Pitch, meanwhile, is more of a standard television drama. A separate post for each episode seems excessive. However, a really long, single, detailed post also seems excessive, so this is going to be quite the Reader’s Digest summary.
The series revolves around a character named Ginny Baker, who becomes the first woman to play Major League Baseball. In the first episode of the show, Ginny makes her Major League debut with the San Diego Padres. Though her first start goes terribly, the team opts not to send her back to the minors because they realize that having the first woman Major Leaguer is quite a draw for crowds (it’s always about the money, right?). Fortunately, Ginny manages to recover from her stumble, and thus, the series takes off.
Ginny’s father, Bill, is the one who not only taught her to pitch, but who also drove her to become good enough to go pro. We learn early on, however, that Bill actually died years ago in a car accident, right around when Ginny was first drafted by the Padres organization. His lessons and his death continue to haunt Ginny throughout the series.
Ginny’s relationship with her father is only one of many conflicts throughout the show. Pitch goes out of its way to try to accurately depict what it would really be like if a woman were to break into the majors. Ginny deals with an immense amount of pressure in this role, not just through her performance on the diamond, but also in being put up on a pedestal as a role model for girl athletes. Through all the publicity, Ginny’s primary goal with the team is to be accepted as one of the guys. We also see drama surrounding the All-Star Game, the trade deadline, the relationships between Ginny and her agent and between Ginny and catcher Mike Lawson, relationships between other players and with their families, and conflicts arising due to Ginny’s brother, Will, trying to capitalize on his sister’s fame.
Once I started watching this series, I was instantly hooked. I rarely binge-watch anything, but I blew through every episode of Pitch in about two days. The show does a tremendous job of drawing viewers into the stories surrounding each of the characters, and it throws in enough baseball to give satisfaction to baseball fans. My only complaint about this show is that it did not get renewed for a second season, leaving so many questions hanging unanswered and the story unfinished.
Don’t ever forget two things I’m going to tell you. One, don’t believe everything that’s written about you. Two, don’t pick up too many checks.
Less than a month until pitchers and catchers report!
On January 13, 1922, Buck Weaver applied for reinstatement to professional baseball. Weaver had been a member of the infamous 1919 Black Sox and one of eight players banned from baseball for his alleged involvement in the throwing of the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. This was one of six attempts by Weaver to get back into baseball, but he would remain banned from the sport for life.