This day in baseball: The sale of Ebbets Field

On October 30, 1956, the Dodgers sold Ebbets Field to a real estate developer, Marvin Kratter.  The sale of the ballpark was one of the early indications that it was nearing the end of its life, and some speculate that this move served as an early catalyst for the sale of the Dodgers to Los Angeles.  As part of the deal for the sale, club owner Walter O’Malley is given a three-year lease, with an option to stay two more years, until 1961.
Ebbets Field, 1955 (

The Kansas City Symphony challenges the New York Philharmonic

I think most folks who watched the ALCS knew that there was a bit of a rivalry taking place between the Toronto and Kansas City public libraries implementing the clever arrangement of book spines.

Now that the ALCS has ended and we have moved on to the World Series, another rivalry has sprouted, this time between the Kansas City Symphony and the New York Philharmonic.  According to Director Michael Stern, if the Mets win the World Series, the Symphony will send a barbecue lunch to the Philharmonic.  Furthermore, the Symphony will play “New York, New York” at a future performance while Stern wears a Mets jersey.

However, should the Royals win the Series, Stern challenges New York conductor Alan Gilbert to don a Royals jersey and play “Everything is Up to Date in Kansas City” at his next concert.  But Stern doesn’t stop there: “[W]e expect lunch, for everyone in the orchestra, New York’s finest bagels, cream cheese and lox.”

You can find the story from the Kansas City Star here.

“The Old-Fashioned Pitcher,” by George E. Phair

I discovered this piece in the book Baseball: A Literary Anthology, which contains not only poetry, but also short stories, articles, and excerpts from larger pieces, all having to do with the game of baseball.  We don’t get the opportunity to absorb many complete games pitched in the modern era of baseball.  Most managers hope for a mere five or six innings from their starting hurlers before turning the contest over to the hands of the bullpen.  While this approach does have its strategic benefits, especially if you happen to possess a strong collection of relievers, sometimes the old-fashioned complete game offers a gem to behold.


How dear to my heart was the old-fashioned hurler
who labored all day on the old village green.
He did not resemble the up-to-date twirler
who pitches four innings and ducks from the scene.
The up-to-date twirler I’’m not very strong for;
He has a queer habit of pulling up lame.
And that is the reason I hanker and long for
the pitcher who started and finished the game.

The old-fashioned pitcher,
The iron-armed pitcher,
The stout-hearted pitcher,
Who finished the game.

2015 World Series Schedule


News about the MLB playoffs has been absent from here, and a lot of that has to do with bit of superstition in me that worries that if I allow myself to get too excited about the Royals’ performance, I’ll jinx it.  On Friday night, I did worry that Fox’s pre-mature announcement of a Royals-Mets Series would curse Kansas City in the end, but fortunately, that was not the case.

So with fingers crossed that my bringing it up now won’t bring bad luck to the Royals, I thought I’d post the schedule planned for this year’s World Series.

Tuesday, Oct. 27
Game 1 — New York at Kansas City

Wednesday, Oct. 28
Game 2 — New York at Kansas City

Friday, Oct. 30
Game 3 — Kansas City at New York

Saturday, Oct. 31
Game 4 —Kansas City at New York

Sunday, Nov. 1
Game 5 — Kansas City at New York
*if necessary
* First pitch at 8:15 p.m. ET, pregame at 8 p.m. ET.

Tuesday, Nov. 3
Game 6 —New York at Kansas City
*if necessary

Wednesday, Nov 4
Game 7 — New York at Kansas City
*if necessary

This day in baseball

Phillies’ starting catcher Walt Lerian died on October 22, 1929 in Baltimore as a result of being crushed against a building the day before by a truck that had jumped a curb.  Lerian had played two seasons for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1928 through 1929.  At the time of his death, at the age of 26, Lerian had been considered a promising talent in the major leagues.

The Celebrant, by Eric Rolfe Greenberg

I finished reading Eric Rolfe Greenberg’s novel The Celebrant last week for my baseball literature class.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the book at first, but the more I think about it, the more I like it.

CelebrantThis novel presents a mashup of true baseball history with a fictional plot.  As he chronicles some of the major games in the career of New York Giants pitcher Christy Mathewson, Greenberg also introduces us to the fictional character Jackie Kapp.  Jackie Kapp comes from a family of Jewish immigrants that owns a jewelry-making business.  Jackie is a Giants fan who comes to idolize Mathewson after watching Mathewson’s first no-hitter in July 1901, while on the road in St. Louis.  To commemorate the achievement, Jackie designs a ring for Mathewson.  Mathewson is so impressed by the ring that he refers to Jackie as “Master Kapp.”

The story also draws in two of Jackie’s brothers, Eli and Arthur, who are also active members of the family business.  Eli is a free-spending gambler, as we learn right off the bat (no pun intended) when he bets on Mathewson’s success all through that first no-hitter.  Arthur, meanwhile, is the complete opposite of Eli: a no-nonsense, unsympathetic, money-and-numbers-driven businessman.  Throughout the novel, we see Jackie somewhat caught between the two brothers, understanding Arthur’s aims while sympathizing more with Eli’s free-spirited approach.

The primary focus of the story, however, is on the progression of the careers of both Christy Mathewson and Jackie Kapp.  Both careers take off gloriously, with Mathewson’s gem of a no-hitter leading and Kapp’s creation of a magnificent ring that would, at least in this story, lead to the proliferation of commemoration rings for championship teams.  Both men have the utmost respect for the craft of the other, and they spend much of the novel admiring each other’s work from afar.  Jackie Kapp is the intended reference for the novel’s title — he is “the celebrant” of baseball — although it might be argued that Mathewson is, in his own way, a celebrant of Kapp’s work as well.

As time goes on, however, both men experience a steady decline in their careers.  Jackie grows increasingly frustrated by the commercialization of his jewelry.  Mathewson’s baseball career ends with some disappointing games, and his final role with the game is shrouded in disappointment over the 1919 World Series scandal.

At various points in the book, Greenberg’s language becomes overwrought with detail, which sometimes makes for a laborious read.  This same detail also provides for some delightful moments in the novel, especially when Greenberg describes the play-by-play of some key games.  Overall, though, my favorite characteristic of this book is in the idea of a celebrant in the world of baseball.  While his obsession with Mathewson’s career is borderline creepy, Jackie Kapp has a deep and genuine appreciation and love for the game and for the performance of his idol.  He and Mathewson both strive to live their lives and pursue their careers according to the ideals they have in relation to their respective worlds.

While I wouldn’t call it the best baseball novel that I have read, I certainly do have an appreciation for The Celebrant.

Infographic: Facial Hair Hurlers

Here’s an infographic sponsored by WAHL, which appears to have been created going into the 2012 All-Star Game.  It depicts the success of pitchers with facial hair versus those who are clean-shaven in recent years.  Now if I can find one that revolves around the length of hair on one’s head, maybe I can figure out what’s going on with Johnny Cueto?


Quote of the day

They didn’t get along. Gehrig thought Ruth was a big-mouth and Ruth thought Gehrig was cheap. They were both right.

~Tony Lazzeri

Tony Lazzeri (City of Toronto Archives)
Tony Lazzeri (City of Toronto Archives)