On July 30, 1913, catcher Ivey Wingo of the Cardinals stole second base, third, and home plate, as St. Louis routed Boston, 9-1. Wingo stole all three bases in the same inning, completing the cycle in the bottom of the second.
I haven’t posted any jokes in a while, so why not throw out a couple to celebrate the end of the week?
Three rookies are at batting practice. First guy pops one straight overhead that falls back into the stands. He turns to the batting coach and says, “What did I do wrong?”
The coach says, “Loft.”
The next guy steps up and hits a foul that dribbles near the fence by first base. He asks the coach, “What did I do wrong?”
The coach says, “Loft.”
The third guy swings and misses. He asks the coach, “What did I do wrong?”
The coach says, “Loft.”
As they’re walking to the showers, the first guy finally speaks up. He says to the coach, “The three of us made completely different swings, and when we asked you what we did wrong you answered the same exact answer each time. What is loft?”
The coach says, “Lack of fricking talent.”
Way back when Honus Wagner played, they didn’t have stadium lights. When it got dark, you couldn’t see what you were doing very well.
One time, Honus was playing in the outfield and the ball was hit his way, but he lost it in the darkness. Fortunately, a rabbit was running by at the time and he grabbed it and threw it to first for the out.
This was the very first time anyone was ever thrown out by a hare.
We read that Walter Johnson could strike out anybody he wanted to strike out and that Cobb never struck out. I could never figure out what happened when Walter Johnson pitched against Ty Cobb.
~ James “Cool Papa” Bell
Here’s a short, but interesting article from yesterday’s New York Times about Russia’s relationship to baseball — or, at least, its perceived relationship. It seems that Russia is now literally trying to beat America at its own game, baseball, the American pastime. There is a growing push to try to bring more popularity to the sport in hopes that Russia can defeat the United States in the 2020 Olympics, when the Russians hope baseball will make its return to the Games.
Even more fascinating is the assertion that baseball might, in fact, have Russian roots. The game of lapta is a centuries-old bat-and-ball game traditional to Russia. Archaeologists have dated the game back as far as the ninth to fourteenth centuries, as bats and balls have been discovered at excavation sites in Novgorod. Throughout Russian history, lapta has been played as a means of physical conditioning for Russian military soldiers.
Lapta isn’t quite the same as baseball, of course, as can be seen in this video:
The precise rules of lapta seem a bit murky (must have something to do with it being centuries old), but I’ll explain it as I understand it here. To play the game, you need two teams of at least three (and up to six, from what I can tell) players. It is played with a rubber ball (or tennis ball) and bats. The field is 30-40 yards wide and 40-55 yards long. After hitting the ball, a player of the offensive team runs fast down the length of the field, and then tries to return “home.” Each player who manages to make it back successfully gains one score for the team. If he is “tagged” with the ball, the team of batsmen shifts to tagging (defense), and vise versa. The game is won when all the members of one team have hit the ball and returned “home.”
Sergei Fokin of the Russian Lapta Federation was quoted in 2003 as saying, “Our theory is that Russian immigrants or Jews from Odessa brought lapta to America, and baseball evolved from there. Lapta is a much older game, and there are so many similar concepts: tagging runners out, hitting and catching fly balls, for example.”
What’s more, some Russians hope that not only will baseball make a return to the Olympics, but maybe someday, lapta will become a featured sport as well.
On July 26, 2000, the Philadelphia Phillies traded right-handed pitcher Curt Schilling to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for first baseman Travis Lee and pitchers Omar Daal, Vicente Padilla, and Nelson Figueroa. With Arizona in 2001, Schilling went 22–6 with a 2.98 ERA in 2001, leading the majors in wins and innings pitched. He played a major role in the playoffs, going 4–0 with a 1.12 ERA. The Diamondbacks went on to defeat the Yankees in seven games in the 2001 World Series.
The author, Charles Ghigna, was kind enough to send this piece my way a while back. It’s one of those ‘what if’ types of pieces that we can all relate to on some level. I’m impressed that he managed to garner an invitation to spring training to try out; it’s a shame it didn’t work out for him.
Like many kids of the 1950s, I loved baseball.
I played on teams throughout my youth and in 1964
I received an invitation to spring training camp
for a tryout with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
I’m still waiting to hear from them.
In the meantime, I’ve been writing a few poems…
I may have lost a step or two,
(Or four, or six, or eight).
My bat speed may have slowed a bit,
(Much like a rusty gate).
My fastball may have lost some pop,
My slider may have slid,
But when I dream of baseball,
I become a kid.
A glint of steel in my young stare,
Swagger in my stride,
I saunter to the plate
With confidence and pride.
A fastball down the middle,
I swing with all my might,
Old Rawlings soars past the crowd
And deep into the night.
There I am in summer’s glow
Warmed by hometown cheers,
Rounding third and striding home,
Back to my boyhood years.
Suddenly I’m sixty-nine
Asleep in winter’s sun,
Dreaming of what might have been
When I was twenty-one.
Still I wait to take the call,
To hear them say my name,
An old man dreaming of the day
He played a young man’s game.
Baseball, to me, is still the national pastime because it is a summer game. I feel that almost all Americans are summer people, that summer is what they think of when they think of their childhood. I think it stirs up an incredible emotion within people.