This day in baseball: Inside the park home run fest

The New York Giants hit four inside-the-park home runs at Braves Field on April 29, 1922, en route to a 15-4 victory over Boston.  George Kelly collected a pair of inside-the-parkers, and Ross Youngs and Dave Bancroft contributed the other two scoring dashes around the bases.  You can find the box score and play-by-play recap of the game here.

George Kelly

George Kelly in 1916 (baseballhalloffame.org)


Chipper Jones’s Hall of Fame induction speech

I really like Chipper Jones’s opening comment to his speech: I can only imagine how nerve wracking it would be to stand up there and talk in front of so many people on such an important occasion.  And the Jim Thome story is absolutely hilarious.  Jones was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018.


Quote of the day

Now I don’t care how big a goof a man is, he’d ought to know better than get smart round a fella that’s slumped off in his battin’.

~Ring Lardner, “Where Do You Get That Noise?”

Ring_Lardner_LC-DIG-npcc-03879

Library of Congress


Infographic: The Cost of Being a Baseball Fan

This infographic by PlayNJ appears to have been made fairly recently — just last month, if I’m not mistaken.  As we all know, attending an MLB game is not a cheap outing, and this graphic takes a look at what that cost amounts to if a fan goes throughout the year.  According to the fine print on the graphic, these annual costs include the price of one team cap and one team jersey, plus ticket, parking, one beer, one soft drink, and one hot dog per game for 81 home games.

Cost of Being a Baseball Fan infographic


This day in baseball: Luis Castro’s major league debut

Luis Castro made his major league debut on April 23, 1902, making him the first player from Colombia to play in the big leagues.  Castro took the field at second base for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia’s A’s in an 8-1 victory over the Orioles at Oriole Park that day. The 25-year-old Medellin native would play in 42 games that year and would also prove to be the last player from Colombia to appear in major league baseball until Orlando Ramirez broke in with the Angels in 1974.

Luis Castro 1902

Castro in 1902 (Wikipedia)


“Spring Training,” by Lynn Rigney Schott

I’m still holding out hope that Spring Training won’t be the only baseball we get this year.  In the meantime, we look for other ways to stay engaged with baseball.  This piece by Lynn Rigney Schott was first published in The New Yorker on March 26, 1984.  The author’s father, Bill Rigney, had played Major League Baseball with the New York Giants from 1946 to 1953.  He then went on to serve as the manager for the Giants, making him their last manager in New York as well as the team’s first manager when they moved to San Francisco.  Rigney would also manage the Los Angeles/California Angels and the Minnesota Twins.

*

The last of the birds has returned —
the bluebird, shy and flashy.
The bees carry fat baskets of pollen
from the alders around the pond.
The wasps in the attic venture downstairs,
where they congregate on warm windowpanes.
Every few days it rains.

This is my thirty-fifth spring;
still I am a novice at my work,
confused and frightened and angry.
Unlike me, the buds do not hesitate,
the hills are confident they will be
perfectly reflected
in the glass of the river.

I oiled my glove yesterday.
Half the season is over.
When will I be ready?

On my desk sits a black-and-white postcard picture
of my father — skinny, determined,
in a New York Giants uniform —
ears protruding, eyes riveted.
Handsome, single-minded, he looks ready.

Thirty-five years of warmups.
Like glancing down at the scorecard
in your lap for half a second
and when you look up it’s done —
a long fly ball, moonlike,
into the night
over the fence,
way out of reach.

Bill_Rigney_1953

Bill Rigney, 1953 (Wikipedia)


Quote of the day

Now the game is all different.  All power and lively balls and short fences and home runs.  But not in the old days.  I led the National League in home runs in 1901, and do you know how many I hit?  Sixteen.  That was a helluva lot for those days.

~Sam Crawford

Sam Crawford 1909

Sam Crawford, 1909 (Library of Congress)


This day in baseball: Gehrig records 17 Ks

On April 18, 1923, Columbia University pitcher Lou Gehrig struck out 17 Williams College batters to set a school record.  Columbia lost the game 5-1, however, as Gehrig’s pitching also proved to be a bit on the wild side.

Lou Gehrig Columbia University

Columbiana Library, Columbia University


“Thome at the Plate,” The Whipkey Three

When Jim Thome arrived in Minnesota in 2010, Twins fans were understandably excited.  One fan, Matt Whipkey from Omaha, Nebraska, was so thrilled to have Thome on the team, he decided to write a rock tribute for the slugger.  Unfortunately for Twins fans, Thome’s stint with the team didn’t last terribly long, though he at least gave them a reason to cheer while his time there lasted.


Jackie Robinson, track star

On this day each of the last two years, I’ve talked about Jackie Robinson’s football career and I’ve explored his basketball career.  This year, for Jackie Robinson Day, we’re going to look at Robinson as a track star.  Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of information out there regarding Jackie’s track career, likely due to track season and baseball season both falling in the spring.  But we’ll take a look at what we can find.

As many well know, before Jackie Robinson made history by breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier, he had been a four-sport star at UCLA, playing baseball, football, basketball, and participating in track and field.  He remains the only four-letter athlete in the school’s history.  But his athletic achievements certainly didn’t begin there.

Inspired by his older brother Matthew (a.k.a. “Mack”), who won a silver medal in the 200-meter dash at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Robinson had been a four-letter athlete even before college.  He attended John Muir High School in Pasadena, California, earning varsity letters in those same four sports he would continue competing in through college.  As part of the track and field team, Robinson competed in the long jump.

After graduating high school, Jackie attended Pasadena Junior College for two years, where he continued to have success in all four sports.  In track and field, Robinson broke school records in the long jump previously held by his older brother Mack.  A brief story in the June 26, 1938 issue of the Los Angeles Times made reference to Robinson’s talents as he headed to Buffalo, New York for the National AAU Track and Field Championships:

Jackie Robinson AAU track

 

Following his two years at Pasadena Junior College, Jackie Robinson went on to enroll at UCLA.  He missed most of the 1940 track season because of his baseball duties, but still went on to win the Pacific Coast Conference and NCAA titles in long jump with leaps of 25’0″ and 24’10”.

Had the 1940 and 1944 Olympics not been canceled due to World War II, some contend that Robinson likely could have competed at the Olympic level.  Unfortunately, while he would go on to play football, basketball, and (of course) baseball at the professional level, the end of Robinson’s time at UCLA also seems to have marked the end of his track and field career.

Jackie Robinson UCLA track

Jackie Robinson Foundation