This day in baseball

During Game 4 of the 1993 World Series, Charlie Williams became the first black umpire to work home plate during the World Series.  Played at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, the game took a record four hours and fourteen minutes to complete as the Toronto Blue Jays won 15-14 over the Phillies.

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Quote of the day

There are three types of baseball players: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happens.

~Tommy Lasorda

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“Baseball Is,” by Greg Hall

This poem, by Greg Hall, was featured on ESPN Radio during the 2000 season.


Baseball is grass, chalk, and dirt displayed the same yet differently
In every park that has ever heard the words play ball.
Baseball is a passion that bonds and divides all those who know it.
Baseball is a pair of hands stained with newsprint,
A set of eyes squinting to read a boxscore,
A brow creased in an attempt to recreate a three-hour game
From an inch square block of type.
Baseball is the hat I wear to mow the lawn.
Baseball is a simple game of catch
and the never-ending search for the perfect knuckleball.
Baseball is Willie vs Mickey, Gibson vs Koufax, and Buddy Biancalana vs the odds.
Baseball links Kansan and Missourian, American and Japanese,
But most of all father and son.
Baseball is the scent of spring,
The unmistakable sound of a double down the line,
And the face of a 10-year-old emerging from a pile of bodies
With a worthless yet priceless foul ball.
Baseball is a language of very simple words that tell unbelievably magic tales.
Baseball is three brothers in the same uniform on the same team for one brief summer
Captured forever in a black and white photo on a table by the couch.
Baseball is a glove on a shelf, oiled and tightly wrapped,
Slumbering through the stark winter months.
Baseball is a breast pocket bulging with a transistor radio.
Baseball is the reason there are transistor radios.
Baseball is a voice in a box describing men you’ve never met,
In a place you’ve never been,
Doing things you’ll never have the chance to do.
Baseball is a dream that you never really give up on.
Baseball is precious.
Baseball is timeless.
Baseball is forever.

This day in baseball: The NL DH

Photo source: The Baseball Almanac

On 16 October 1976, Dan Driessen of the Cincinnati Reds became the first National League player to be used as a designated hitter in a World Series game.  During Game 1 of the Series against the New York Yankees, Driessen went 0-for-4, but he would make up for it as the Series went on, hitting .357 overall with five hits, including two doubles and a home run.  The Reds ended up sweeping New York on their way to their second consecutive World Series championship.

“If you build it, he will come”

“Is this Heaven?”

“No.  It’s Iowa.”

Last night, I re-watched one of the best baseball movies of all time: Field of Dreams.  Released in 1989, Field of Dreams tells the story of a baseball fanatic-turned-farmer who plows under his own corn field at the bidding of a mysterious, whispering voice.  In spite of the insistence of fellow townsfolk that his actions are nothing short of lunacy, Ray Kinsella believes that the voice is real, and that his actions will ultimately produce results that will more than make up for the financial strain his family faces as a result of plowing under his own crops.  And it is this belief in the impossible that not only forms the crux of the story, but draws the attention and inspires awe in those who watch it.

In addition to enjoying the movie itself, last night I took the time to watch the special features included on the two-DVD set.  The actors of the movie (Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta, etc.) and the director (Phil Alden Robinson) discuss their experiences with the filming of the movie.  The way they all describe it, even the making of the movie was magical, and it wasn’t just because it features a superstar cast.  The scenes within the movie–the story, the environment in which the movie was filmed–it all coalesced into one magical work of art.

And we get to experience the results of that experience, that hard work and that magic, through this film.  For some, Field of Dreams brings back childhood memories of playing catch in the backyard with one’s father.  For others, it is a testament to the magic and influence of the game of baseball.  And even for those who have little or no interest in the game itself, this movie resonates as an ode to that spirit within all of us that yearns to break away from the norm in pursuit of something bigger than ourselves.

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Field of Dreams consists of many moments that give me the chills, even after a hundred viewings of the movie.  That first whisper of, “If you build it, he will come.”  The initial arrival of Shoeless Joe Jackson on the newly built baseball field.  The inexplicable appearance of Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham on the dark, damp streets of Boston.  Watching Ray Kinsella have a catch with his father, thus washing away years of resentment and pain.  Terence Mann’s “people will come” speech towards the end, arguably one of James Earl Jones’s most memorable performances.

More than anything, Field of Dreams is a movie about redemption and fulfillment.  Redemption for the likes of Ray Kinsella, who is able to start over with his father, and for Shoeless Joe Jackson, who finally can play baseball without the Black Sox scandal hanging over him.  Meanwhile, author Terence Mann comes out of reclusion and finds a reason to write again, and Moonlight Graham fulfills a lifelong dream of facing a big league pitcher.  It’s a movie that reminds us that we can all find redemption, for ourselves and for others, if only we are willing to take the steps, however crazy or impossible they might seem.

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For a virtual tour of the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa, click here.


Quote of the day

I always turn to the sports pages first, which record people’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures.

~Chief Justice Earl Warren

Photo source: National Constitution Center

Baseball 101: 1-2-3 inning

1-2-3 inning refers to an inning in which a pitcher retires the batters in consecutive order.  In a 1-2-3 inning, no batters reach base.  This means that if the first batter reaches base, and the second batter grounds into a double play, the inning does not qualify as a 1-2-3 inning, even if the third batter gets put out.  Each batter must be put out, either by strikeout or defensive put-out, without safely reaching base before the next batter comes to the plate.

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This day in baseball: The Flying Dutchman soars

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On 11 October 1909, Pittsburgh’s Honus Wagner became the first player to steal three bases in a single World Series game.  The “Flying Dutchman” also collected three hits and three RBIs to lead the Pirates to an 8-6 victory over Detroit.  The Pirates went on to win the Series in seven games.


Infographic: Fans according to Facebook

Here’s an infographic that I think most social media users will find interesting.  It shows the number of fans each team has according to their “likes” on Facebook.  I couldn’t find a date as to when this was created, but it doesn’t appear that any discrepancies would be too significant.  Click on the image for a larger version.


Quote of the day

I don’t know a lot about politics, but I know a lot about baseball.

~Richard Nixon

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New York Times