On June 17, 1942, Braves right fielder Paul Waner stood on first base during the second game of a double-header against the Cincinnati Reds and gestured at the official scorer not to credit him with a hit. Waner had just reached base on a ground ball in the hole that was knocked down by Reds shortstop Eddie Joost.
Waner had entered the game at Braves Field batting just .263 for the year, but he was nearing a major milestone — his 3,000th career hit. When the ground ball knocked down by Joost was initially scored a hit, Waner grew furious. “No, no. Don’t give me a hit on that. I won’t take it,” he yelled. Waner didn’t want a questionable roller to be his historic 3,000th hit.
Jerry Moore, who was acting as official scorer for the game, relented, and he changed the scoring on the play to an error by Joost. (I haven’t been able to find anything depicting Joost’s reaction to this decision, however.)
Two days later, against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Waner laced an RBI single off Rip Sewell, his former teammate on the Pirates. In doing so, he became just the seventh player in major league history to hit the 3,000 mark.
Frank Thomas spent all but 3 years of his MLB career with the Chicago White Sox. He was a five-time All-Star, and he won the AL batting title in 1997 with a .347 average. He was a two-time American League MVP (1993 and 1994), won the Silver Slugger on four occasions (1991, 1993, 1994, and 2000), and his jersey number 35 was retired by the White Sox.
Frank Thomas was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014.
Just give me 25 guys on the last year of their contracts; I’ll win a pennant every year.
James Timothy “Mudcat” Grant was born on August 13, 1935 in Lacoochee, Florida. He was one of seven children of James Sr. and Viola Grant.
Grant was signed as an amateur free agent by the Cleveland Indians prior to the 1954 season. After four seasons in the minor leagues, from 1954 to 1957, he made his MLB debut on April 17, 1958, at the age of 22, winning a complete game against the Kansas City Athletics. In June 1964, he was traded to the Minnesota Twins, then in 1965, he went 21–7 for the Twins, helping to lead the team to the 1965 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Unfortunately, the Twins lost the series in seven games.
During the 1965 season, Grant became the first black pitcher in the American League to win 20 games, leading the American League in victories with a 21-7 record, also posting a 3.30 ERA in 270 1/3 innings, and starting 39 games. He started three World Series games, winning two. In Game 6 at Metropolitan Stadium, he gave up only one run in a complete game, and even hit a three-run homer en route to a 5-1 victory.
Grant pitched for seven teams during his 14-year big league career and was with the Twins for four of those seasons. Over the course of that career, he had a 145–119 record in 571 games, while starting in 293 of them and throwing 89 complete games. His resumé also includes 18 shutouts, 53 saves, with 2,442 innings pitched on a 3.63 ERA.
Grant was named to the All-Star team in 1963 and 1965. He received his catfish-inspired nickname when a minor league teammate thought he was from Mississippi.
Mudcat Grant died on June 12, 2021 at the age of 85.
Rest in peace.
Here’s an interesting find from the Library of Congress. Dated May 2, 1963, Branch Rickey wrote up a scouting report of Hammerin’ Hank Aaron.
May 2, 1963
Cincinnati vs Milwaukee
Surely one of the greatest hitters in baseball today. Can hit late with power, – good wrists. But in spite of his hitting record and admitted power ability, one cannot help think that Aaron is frequently a guess hitter. Will take three strikes down the middle and in fact frequently acts frozen on pitches. For years I have believed and I still believe that Aaron has more trouble with the breaking stuff. He stands close enough to the plate to pull the outside ball and does pull it. However, he is a foot length further from the plate than Frank Robinson of Cincinnati.
[Transcribed and reviewed by volunteers participating in the By The People project at crowd.loc.gov.]
It’s an interesting review of Aaron’s hitting, pretty much right in the middle of his MLB career. Looking at the box score, Aaron went 2-for-4 with a homer and 2 RBIs in this game, but also struck out twice.
While I am too young to have ever watched Aaron’s hitting, what limited knowledge I have makes me think Rickey might not have been alone in his perception of him as a “guess hitter.” At the same time, I would also wager that Aaron might have read pitches better than he sometimes let on.
If you’re interested, you can find the digital document on the Library of Congress website here.
Though I bet if the pitcher yelled this as he was cutting the pitch loose, it would be pretty damned effective.
On June 7, 1957, Howard University awarded honorary Doctor of Law degrees to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to recently-retired Dodgers infielder Jackie Robinson. In the years that followed, the former baseball great and the Baptist minister frequently appeared together at Civil Rights rallies, fundraising events, and demonstrations.
You hit home runs not by chance, but by preparation.
Working in education myself, I find I can identify with a lot in this poem. But whether it is school or business or any other kind of official type of environment, most folks we interact with have different personas in other surroundings.
I had planned this evening for weeks.
A beautiful May night at the ballpark with friends.
But now, due to circumstances beyond my control
Because I live in a community where everyone is related to everyone else,
Two of my tickets were given to
And not just any student–
The one who caws like a crow out my window daily–
The one who groans in exasperation whenever he’s asked to do
Anything beyond breathing–
The one who raises his hand to respond to every question but whose answers
Come from his bottomless pit of irrelevant responses–
The bane of my existence: the sophomore boy.
Seven rows up on the right field line
His dad between us as a buffer zone,
We sat in seats so close you could see
the scuffs on Cliff Floyd’s cleats.
“Prime foul ball territory,” I said to him.
He just nodded as we rose for the national anthem.
By the first inning, we were
Awkward adversaries on neutral ground.
We groaned as Uggla and Cabrera launched white missiles into the stands–
Our team in the hole right off the bat.
We found ourselves heckling the other bullpen–together.
By the fifth inning, we were
We buried our faces at a 3 K performance by Soriano–
(Shouldn’t he be good on his own bobblehead night?)
The game was a rout,
So we leaned forward eagerly and swapped autograph war stories,
Laughing and joking around his dad.
Politely and unprompted, he looked me in the eye and said,
“Thank you for the tickets.”
By the ninth inning, I could see David as
A civil human being.
Later I heard he said, “She’s pretty cool, when she’s not in class.”