“(Give it Up For) Buck O’Neil,” Bob Walkenhorst

Buck O’Neil is hailed as a legend, especially here in the Kansas City area.  Not only was O’Neil a great ballplayer, but his achievements off the field were arguably even greater. He not only worked to spread interest in the Negro leagues, he also played a huge part in the establishment of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.


“Backyard,” by Rochelle Nameroff

This piece by Rochelle Nameroff was first published in 1990 in the collection Into the Temple of Baseball.  It reminds me a lot of playing ball, really just sports in general, in the backyard with my brothers as a kid.  My oldest brother is twelve years older than me, and he was (still is) quite the sports fanatic.  Thus, he took it upon himself to pass on to his younger siblings (and now on to his two sons) whatever knowledge he could about the different sports and how to play them well.

*

For Larry
“There are two theories on hitting the knuckleball.
Unfortunately, neither of them works.”

It was all so serious
as he taught me,
digging the knees together:

a deliberate hunkering,
the back & forth wiggle
shifting the weight.

It screws yr behind in the ground he said.
Protection I guess
or the secrecy of boys.

He called it
The Stan Musial Crouch,
& man how I practiced

getting it right to unwind
breathless exquisite & deadly.
The permission to love

without going crazy.
& o big brother,
how much I remember.


This day in baseball: Double leadoff homers

On May 30, 1913, Red Sox outfielder Harry Hooper became the first major leaguer to lead off both games of a doubleheader with a home run. The feat would not be repeated until 80 years later, in 1993, when A’s leadoff hitter Rickey Henderson opened each game of a twin bill against Cleveland with a homer.

Harry_Hooper 1912

Hooper in 1912 (Wikipedia)


Quote of the day

The ball started climbing from the moment it left the plate.  It was a pop fly with a brand new gland and, though it flew high, it also flew far.

When last seen the ball was crossing the roof of the stand in deep right field at an altitude of 315 feet.  We wonder whether new baseballs conversing in the original package ever remark: “Join Ruth and see the world.”

~Heywood Broun

Heywood_Broun

Heywood Broun, 1935 (Wikipedia)


Polo Grounds documentary

Here’s a delightful little documentary about the Polo Grounds.  I’ve always loved the metaphor of a baseball stadium as a church or cathedral.  I feel the same way about Kauffman Stadium every time I attend a Royals game.

It’s always a shame when stadiums like this get torn down.  I understand that progress sometimes dictates the need for such things, but so much history gets lost in the process, too.


This day in baseball: Bradley’s four-game streak

On May 24, 1902, Cleveland third baseman Bill Bradley became the American League’s first player to hit a home run in each of four consecutive games.  This record would not be matched until Babe Ruth accomplished the same in June of 1918.

Bill_Bradley_Baseball

Library of Congress


This day in baseball: Jersey numbers everywhere

For the first time in history, on May 13, 1929, a major league game featured both teams wearing numbers on the backs of their jerseys.  The Indians played host to the Yankees at League Park in Cleveland, winning by a score of 4-3.  The digits would become a permanent fixture on each club’s ensemble.

1929 cleveland uniform

1929 Cleveland uniform (baseballhalloffame.org)