You can’t think and hit at the same time.
In a game against the Indians on June 15, 1925, the Philadelphia A’s found themselves trailing 15-4 going into the bottom of the eighth inning. That inning, the Athletics posted an astonishing 13 runs to take the lead. They held onto that lead in the top of the ninth and won the game, 17-15.
This week seems off to a decent start, so here’s one to keep up the good mood.
The Cleveland Symphony Orchestra was rehearsing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. There is an extensive section where the bass players don’t play for twenty minutes of so. One of them decided that, rather than stand around on stage looking bored and stupid, they’d all just file offstage during their tacit-time and hang out backstage, then return when they were about to play. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
On the night of the performance, the bass players filed off as planned. The last one had barely left the stage when the leader suggested, “Hey we’ve got twenty minutes, let’s run across the street to the bar for a few!”
This idea was met with great approval, so off they went, tuxedos and all, to loosen up. Fifteen minutes and a few rounds later, one of the bass players said, “Shouldn’t we be heading back? It’s almost time.”
But the leader announced, “Oh don’t worry, we’ll have some extra time – I played a little joke on the conductor. Before the performance started, I tied string around each page of his score so that he’d have to untie each page to turn it. The piece will drag on a bit. We’ve got time for another round!”
So another round they did, and finally – sloshed and staggering – they made their way back across the street to finish Ludwig’s 9th.
Upon entering the stage, they immediately noticed the conductor’s haggard, drawn and livid expression.
“Gee,” one player queried, “Why do you suppose he looks so tense?”
“You’d be tense, too,” laughed the leader. “It’s the bottom of the ninth, the score is tied and the basses are loaded.”
Two hours is about as long as any American can wait for the close of a baseball game, or anything else for that matter.
As my trek through the Simpsons series continues, I find myself coming across various one-liners that were popular while I was in school. At the time, I had no idea that these lines had originated with the Simpsons, having very little time for television. One classmate, for example, would occasionally burst into the classroom exclaiming, “HELLO, EVERYBODY!!”, and would appear so disappointed when the rest of the room merely looked at him like he was a raving lunatic.
My progress through the series has been slow, but steady, and I currently find myself in the middle of season ten. The episode “Wild Barts Can’t Be Broken” really isn’t about baseball, but that’s where the plot begins. The Simpson family attends an Isotopes baseball game, which Homer ends up leaving after the first pitch to “warm up the car.” The Isotopes, it seems, had been performing so poorly that he had no interest in hanging out to watch them lose.
Typical fair-weather fan.
A sniper at the All-Star Game, however, apparently makes enough changes to enough lineups that the Isotopes’ luck changes drastically mid-season. Homer walks into Moe’s one night to discover all his friends cheering excitedly at the baseball game on TV. The moment he learns the Isotopes are actually winners now, Homer promptly dons a full outfit of Isotopes gear and makes an ass of himself on a television interview.
Following the Isotopes victory, Homer and his buddies, in a drunken stupor, trash the town. They don’t get caught, however, and law enforcement blames the destruction on local kids. A curfew is established for the younger generation, thus establishing the episode’s primary conflict.
While there’s not a lot of actual baseball in this episode, it does present a bit of commentary on the nature of sports fans. We see it in stadiums all over the country, in all sports. When a team is doing well, the stadium is packed, and few leave the game before it’s through. When a team is struggling, however, attendance drops, and the organization is forced to resort to gimmicks to encourage attendance.
Sportswriter-turned-skipper for the New York Giants, Horace Fogel, had a reputation for making some questionable decisions in his short tenure as manager. Most notable was his attempt to turn second-year pitcher Christy Mathewson into a position player, in spite of Mathewson’s having won twenty games as a rookie. Fogel’s rule over the Giants dugout came to an end on June 10, 1902, fired by the organization, and Mathewson went on to the Hall of Fame — as a pitcher.
It’s an indispensable part of the game, after all.
Some say our national pastime is baseball. Not me. It’s gossip.
The first U.S. President to attend a major league baseball game was Benjamin Harrison, who attended a contest between the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Senators on June 6, 1892 in Washington, D.C. Cincinnati defeated the Senators, 7-4, in eleven innings at Boundary Field.
This infographic helps to put Joe DiMaggio’s 1941 56-game hit streak in a bit of perspective. Not surprisingly, most of these games, DiMaggio continued his streak with a single hit. Still, in a sport where failing 2/3 of the time still means you are a success, one hit is a major contribution. During this streak, DiMaggio blew the 33% success rate out of the water. The statistic that struck me the most, however, was the fact that he struck out a mere five times in these fifty-six games. Talk about being on fire!