This day in baseball: Dinneen’s no-hitters

On May 12, 1910, Athletics right-hander Chief Bender threw a 4-0 no-hitter at Shibe Park against the Cleveland Naps (Indians). Bender issued just one walk, spoiling his shot at a perfect game.

The home plate umpire for the game was Bill Dinneen, who tossed a no-hit game of his own against the White Sox while playing with the Pilgrims (Red Sox) on September 27, 1905. This performance by Chief Bender made Dinneen the only person in big league history to both throw a no-hitter and call one as an umpire. Dinneen served as home plate umpire for five total no-hitters in his career as an umpire.

1900_Bill_Dinneen.jpeg

Bill Dinneen (The Sporting News)


This day in baseball: Harding’s first pitch

President Warren G. Harding threw out the ceremonial first pitch before a Washington Senators game held on April 13, 1921, at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. Washington ended up losing to the Red Sox, 6-3, making this the first time in six Opening Days contests the Senators have lost with the President of the United States throwing out the first pitch.

Warren Harding first pitch - LoC

Library of Congress


This day in baseball: Ruth’s first start

Babe Ruth made his first career start on the mound on March 25, 1914 for the Boston Red Sox. The 19-year-old pitcher defeated the world champion Philadelphia Athletics, 6-2, in an exhibition game played in Wilmington, North Carolina. Prior to this game, Ruth had faced 29 batters in relief, allowing just six hits, thus earning his spot in the starting rotation.

Babe Ruth pitching (Bleacher Report)


Spring training in New England

This one is obviously a bit outdated, but it did still make me chuckle a bit.

Dave Granlund - Red Sox comic

davegranlund.com


This day in baseball: Mets win the Series

On October 27, 1986, the New York Mets became World Series champions for the second time in team history as they defeated the Red Sox, 8-5, to win Game 7 of the Fall Classic. Third baseman Ray Knight, who is named the Fall Classic’s MVP, hit a home run in the seventh inning, which put the Mets ahead for good.

Ray Knight gettyimages

FLUSHING, NY – 1985: Ray Knight #22 of the New York Mets swings at the pitch during a 1985 season game at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York. (Photo by Rich Pilling/MLB Photos via Getty Images)


This day in baseball: Multiple position players pitching

September 28th was the last day of the season in 1902, and in apparent celebration, the Browns and the White Sox decided to use an assortment of seven infielders and outfielders on the mound, rather than relying on their pitching staffs. Chicago outfielder Sam Mertes earned the victory, and the Browns’ left fielder Jesse Burkett suffered the loss in the Sox’s 10-4 victory at Sportsman’s Park. This was the last time the winning and losing pitchers were both position players in the same game until 2012, when Chris Davis of the Orioles and Darnell McDonald of the Red Sox also accomplished the feat in Baltimore’s 17-inning victory at Fenway Park.

sportsmans park

ballparksofbaseball.com


This day in baseball: Burns’s triple play

Red Sox first baseman George Burns completed an unassisted triple play against the Indians on September 14, 1923.  To accomplish the feat, Burns snared Frank Brower’s line drive, he then tagged Rube Lutzke coming from first, and and finally beat Riggs Stephenson in a sprint back to second.

George Burns - Cleveland - Wikipedia

George Burns in 1921 (Wikipedia)


RIP Tom Seaver

With a nickname like “Tom Terrific,” you know he was good at his job. Born November 17, 1944, Tom Seaver pitched for twenty seasons in Major League Baseball. Over the course of his career, he played for the New York Mets, the Cincinnati Reds, the Chicago White Sox, and the Boston Red Sox.

Seaver won the National League’s Rookie of the Year in 1967, and during his career, he won three NL Cy Young Awards. He was also a 12-time All-Star, compiling 311 wins, 3,640 strikeouts, 61 shutouts, and a 2.86 ERA. Just to pad the résumé a little, Seaver even threw a no-hitter in 1978.

Tom Seaver was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992. He passed away a few days ago, on August 31, 2020 from complications of Lewy body dementia and COVID-19.

Rest in peace.

Tom_Seaver_at_Shea_Stadium_1974_CROP

Wikimedia Commons


This day in baseball: AL marathon

The longest game in American League history (up to that point) took place on September 1, 1906. The Philadelphia Athletics defeated the Boston Red Sox in 24 innings, 4-1. The starter for both teams went the distance, as A’s hurler Jack Coombs beat Boston’s Joe Harris at Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds.

Huntington_Avenue_Grounds

Huntington Avenue Grounds (Wikipedia)


The Big Fella, by Jane Leavy

I recently finished making my way through Jane Leavy’s biography on the Great Bambino himself, entitled The Big Fella.  Like anyone else, I have heard most of the stories, I’m aware of the ballplayer’s legendary status, and as a kid, I memorized the list of nicknames spouted off by the kids of The Sandlot.  However, this is the first actual Babe Ruth biography I have ever read.

Fair warning: this biography is quite the tome.  It’s not quite War and Peace, but sitting at over 600 pages, it’s not exactly Animal Farm, either.  In my opinion, though, the journey through this volume is worth the time.  Using the barnstorming tour Babe Ruth took with Lou Gehrig after the 1927 World Series as the framework for the book, Leavy injects details about Ruth’s life and analysis about his personality and character to paint a broad and detailed portrait of the man and the ballplayer.

My favorite feature of this book lies in how human it portrays the Babe.  Ruth often gets depicted as this happy-go-lucky, larger-than-life figure who transcends not only baseball, but American culture itself.  Not that Leavy ignores this facet of Ruth’s character.  In fact, she goes into great detail about how this perception of the Babe pervaded American thought even during his lifetime.  Ruth certainly lived large, and the public loved him so much, the press even willingly kept many of his indiscretions quite.  When some of those indiscretions did leak out, fans were more than willing to overlook them, finding these to be a part of the ballplayer’s charm.

Leavy’s biography doesn’t focus just on this, however.  Ruth’s life, especially as a youth, was not an easy one.  The author includes stories about his birth, early youth, his life at St. Mary’s, and his introduction to professional baseball.  She also talks about Ruth’s drinking and womanizing, and while she doesn’t forgive the Babe for these, Leavy does juxtapose that side of Ruth with his affinity for playing with and helping kids.

The book also delves deeply into Ruth’s relationship with his manager, Christy Walsh.  We get an overview of Ruth’s personal finances, and Leavy demonstrates how much the Babe profited from Christy Walsh’s management.  She conveys the impact Ruth and Walsh had on popular culture, foreshadowing the celebrity-obsessed society that followed them and continues to pervade our world today.

Leavy also does a good job giving us a glimpse into the Babe’s shortcomings as a family man and the impact this had on his daughters.  There is also a great exploration of Ruth’s life after baseball, including the disappointments he faced as he continuously got turned down for management roles.  Leavy goes into detail about his final days, as well, discussing his illness and, ultimately, his death.

Overall, I was impressed.  I did, at times, wish that the structure of the book followed a more linear path, rather than bouncing around Ruth’s life the way that it does, but given the amount of research and detail included in these pages, it’s a shortcoming I’m willing to overlook.