This day in baseball: Frank Robinson is Rookie of the Year

Frank Robinson of the Cincinnati Reds was unanimously voted the National League Rookie of the Year on December 1, 1956.  After making his major league debut that year, Robinson had tied the then-record of 38 home runs by a rookie.

frank robinson autograph

Baseball Almanac


This day in baseball: Kenesaw Mountain Landis is hired

U.S. District Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis accepted the offer to become baseball’s first commissioner on November 12, 1920.  The decision to hire a commissioner came in the wake of the 1919 World Series scandal, which involved eight White Sox players who were paid off by gamblers to throw the Series against Cincinnati.  Landis would officially begin his new role in January 1921.

Landis_portrait-restored


This day in baseball: Digging up a ploy

On September 17, 1900, Reds shortstop Tommy Corcoran left his position and began digging around the third base coaching box with his spikes at Philadelphia Park. The Reds captain ended up digging out a metal box containing an electrical device inside with attached wires. It was suspected that the device was being used by the Phillies in a sophisticated scheme to steal signs, though I’m curious as to what tipped off Corcoran to start digging.

Tommy_Corcoran

Tommy Corcoran (Wikipedia)


This day in baseball: The last doubleheader complete-gamer

The last pitcher to pitch a complete game in both games of a doubleheader was Jack Scott of the Philadelphia Phillies.  Scott accomplished this feat on June 19, 1927 against Cincinnati at Redlands Field.  Scott won the opener of the twin bill, 3-1, however, he lost the second game, 3-0.

Jack Scott 1922

Jack Scott in 1922 (Wikipedia)


This day in baseball: Consecutive no-nos

On June 15, 1938, Johnny Vander Meer of the Cincinnati Reds became the only pitcher in major league history to pitch two consecutive no-hitters.  Four days earlier, the left-handed Vander Meer held the Braves hitless at Crosley Field, leading the Reds to a 3-0 victory.  Then, on June 15th, he defeated the Dodgers at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, 6-0.

Johnny_Vander_Meer

Vander Meer in 1948 (Baseball Digest)


Arlie Latham

Arlie_Latham

Wikipedia

Nicknamed “The Freshest Man On Earth,” Walter Arlington Latham was born March 15, 1860 in West Lebanon, New Hampshire. Latham’s father served as a bugler for the Union Army in the American Civil War, and at the conclusion of the war, young Arlie became interested in baseball when soldiers returning from the battlefield brought the game home with them.

By the time he was fourteen, Latham had become good enough to play with the General Worth nine, a local team in Stoneham, Massachusetts, where the family had moved. Latham started out as a catcher, but later took up playing third base to avoid getting beat up behind the plate.  In 1877, Latham played with the Pittsfield, Massachusetts club as their third baseman, and then in 1879, he made his professional debut in minor league baseball with Springfield in the National Association.

Twenty-year-old Latham made his Major League debut on July 5, 1880 with the Buffalo Bisons of the National League, becoming the first man from New Hampshire to play in the majors. He then played for the Philadelphia Athletics of the National Association in 1881, then the Philadelphia Phillies of the League Alliance in 1882.

Latham then joined the St. Louis Browns of the American Association in 1883. He stayed in St. Louis through the 1889 season, during which time the Browns won four consecutive pennants (1885-1888) in the American Association. Latham led the AA in runs scored with 152 during the 1886 season. He also batted .316 and stole 142 bases, then tacked on another 12 stolen bases in the playoffs. Adding to a reputation as an excellent base stealer, in 1887, Latham stole 129 bases, and he also led the league in stolen bases with 109 during the 1888 season.

In 1890, Latham jumped to the Chicago Pirates of the Players’ League. Later that year, in July, he returned to the NL with the Cincinnati Reds, where he served as a utility player and coach. Latham played for Cincinnati through 1895, then was traded to the Browns after the 1895 season. The Browns then released Latham after the 1896 season. Latham bounced around the minors for a few years before winding up with the Washington Senators in 1899. He later made four appearances for the New York Giants in 1909 at age 49.

Personality-wise, Arlie Latham was considered one of the funniest players in baseball. I’m not sure exactly how he earned the nickname “The Freshest Man on Earth,” but Latham was well-known for playing practical jokes. According to one account, the existence of the third base coach’s box is thanks to Latham. He would taunt opposing players third base coach, taking advantage of the lack of a coach’s box by running up and down the third base line yelling insults at the pitcher while he was in the middle of his windup.

His tendency to shout and gesticulate, not only as a coach, but also as a player, earned Latham the unofficial title of “the father of ‘chatter’.” The implication, of course, being that the practice of infield chatter that exists to this day had begun with Arlie Latham.

Latham finished his playing career with 742 stolen bases in seventeen professional seasons with a .269 batting average, .334 OBP, and .341 slugging. Latham died on November 29, 1952 at the age of 92 in Garden City, New York. He is buried in Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale, New York.


“Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown On A Bad Bet,” by Fall Out Boy

I debated whether or not to post this here, because in spite of its title, the song itself isn’t actually about baseball.  Rather, if you pay attention to the lyrics, you realize the song is about infidelity.

However, the title still grabs your attention if you’re a baseball fan, so I did a little poking around to see what I could find in terms of an explanation.  While there is some uncertainty about the general meaning, the consensus seems to be that the title is a reference to Pete Rose — in fact, some people indicate that Fall Out Boy originally included Rose’s name in the title, then changed their minds to avoid the potential for a lawsuit.  So instead of using his name, the band referenced Rose’s tendency to utilize headfirst slides.

Beyond that, the connection gets a bit hazy, but here’s what I found that makes a modicum of sense: In the song, the narrator is having an affair with a married woman.  He is the other man, if you will.  More than anything, he wants the woman for himself.  However, due to the fact that she is married (his bad bet), he can never have her.  In the same way, Pete Rose has found that he cannot have what he truly wants — a place in Cooperstown — due to his own bad bet.