Spring Training begins!

It’s still cold and snowy through much of the Midwest, but that doesn’t stop the game from being played elsewhere. Welcome back, baseball.


Speedball

The complete and utter ridiculousness of this suggestion literally made me laugh out loud.

Bill Amend

Happy Valentine’s Day

From what I’ve seen and heard, not too many folks are going to be celebrating this year, but if you are, enjoy the day! If you are not celebrating Valentine’s Day, just remember, we’re only 3 days away from the start of Spring Training.

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This day in baseball: Ken Hubbs passes

On February 13, 1964, Cubs second baseman Ken Hubbs died at the age of 22 when the red and white Cessna 172 plane he was piloting crashed a quarter-mile south of Bird Island in Utah Lake in the midst of a winter storm. Hubbs had taken flying lessons for the previous two off-seasons to overcome his fear of flying, obtaining his license just the previous month. Ken Hubbs had been the1962 NL Rookie of the Year.

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Ken Hubbs in 1964 (Wikipedia)


Quote of the day

Baseball is a kind of collective chess with arms and legs in full play under sunlight.

~Jacques Barzun

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Jacques Barzun (With Light from a New Dawn, by Eric Robert Morse)


8 days until pitchers and catchers report

With everything (*gestures to the world in general*) going on, I honestly haven’t given my usual level of attention to the upcoming MLB season. However, the NFL season is now over, ending on an unavoidably disappointing note (I was rooting for both teams to lose this year’s Super Bowl). That being the case, the sports world’s attention has started to revert its attention back to baseball.

I realized with a jolt that MLB teams begin their workouts in just over a week. For many teams, pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report for spring training on February 17th. Position players will report February 21st or 22nd. And spring exhibition games begin February 27th.

The temperature in my location currently stands at a miserable 9°F, though it feels like it is below zero out. I look out the window, and I see about 3 inches of snow accumulation blanketing the frozen ground. Maybe the promise of upcoming baseball will help to make the world feel a little bit warmer, yes?

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Cobb: A Biography, by Al Stump

I recently finished making my way through Al Stump’s biography on Ty Cobb, simply titled Cobb: A Biography. I am aware of the criticism this book has received — Stump, it seems, went out of his way to cast Cobb in a less-than-flattering light, even embellishing or making up stories as he did so. Nevertheless, I found this biography intriguing.

Cobb book cover

Al Stump had actually ghostwritten Ty Cobb’s autobiography, My Life in Baseball: The True Record. According to Stump, Cobb was far from being an easy individual to get along with, and there seems to be a consensus that Cobb’s autobiography had been sanitized considerably in order to paint Cobb in a better light. Stump claimed that his motivation for writing this biography after Cobb’s death was to share his own perception of the Georgia Peach. That being said, while it is widely-accepted that Cobb had many faults, this book reads like a revenge. In fact, the original title of this book, when it was first published in 1994, was Cobb: The Life and Times of the Meanest Man in Baseball. The current title actually belongs to a reworked and expanded edition of the book, published in 1996 after Stump’s death.

As a man, Stump paints Cobb as extremely combative, impossible to please, and unreasonably demanding. Clearly, Cobb’s life was a tortured one, what with the strange circumstances surrounding his father’s death when Cobb was still a young man, and his displeasure with the hand dealt him came out in his racism and in how he treated his own wife and children. On the other hand, Cobb the baseball player had an unmatched work ethic, demanding the best of himself as well as of those who played around him. Stump put a lot of focus also on the rivalry between Cobb and Babe Ruth, but in spite of the animosity between the two men, I also sensed a grudging respect between the two. In addition, Stump spent a lot of time exploring Cobb’s business ventures, investments, and his talent for making money.

As a reader, I confess to enjoying the journey through this book. The character of Cobb, as depicted in these pages, is a fascinating one. And while many of the stories in said pages have been discredited, no doubt their presence in the book is part of what makes it so fascinating. I have yet to read Cobb’s original autobiography, and while I’m at it, Charles Leerhsen’s 2016 biography, Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty, is also on the to-read list. It seems to me that one simply cannot read one without also delving into the other two — at least, not if one wants a truly well-rounded picture of the great Ty Cobb.


This day in baseball: Frick is NL’s public relations director

On Feburary 6, 1934, New York news reporter and broadcaster Ford Frick was named the National League’s public relations director. In November of that same year, Frick would be elected as the president of the Senior Circuit, replacing John A. Heydler, who resigned due to poor health.

Ford_Frick_at_1937_All-Star_Game - Library of Congress

Ford Frick at the 1937 All-Star Game (Library of Congress)


Quote of the day

When I wake up in the morning, I feel like a billionaire without paying taxes.

~Ernie Banks

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Bowman Baseball Card


NLBM Tribute to Ernie Banks

Yesterday, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum hosted this talk with author Ron Rapoport about Ernie Banks. Rapoport is the author of the biography on Banks appropriately titled Let’s Play Two. This book is currently on my to-read list, but I look forward to getting to it, especially in the wake of this talk with the author. I love how Rapoport makes a point to stress how good of a ballplayer Banks was, a fact that sometimes gets overlooked as so much focus revolves around his sunny personality.

Today would have been Ernie Banks’s 90th birthday. Happy Birthday, Mr. Cub!