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.
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.
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.
While this is far from a comprehensive collection of “lost” teams in baseball history, this short clip provides an interesting look at the St. Louis Browns, Boston Braves, and Philadelphia Athletics. Being the number two team in your own city is never an easy position to overcome.
This piece by Carl Sandburg oozes with imagery, and I love it. Sandburg captures a moment in time in his description of the end of this long ballgame, called due to the impending sunset. He originally published this poem in his 1918 collection Cornhuskers.
I remember the Chillicothe ball players grappling the Rock Island
ball players in a sixteen-inning game ended by darkness.
And the shoulders of the Chillicothe players were a red smoke
against the sundown and the shoulders of the Rock Island
players were a yellow smoke against the sundown.
And the umpire’s voice was hoarse calling balls and strikes and outs
and the umpire’s throat fought in the dust for a song.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.