This day in baseball: Sam Rice signs with the Indians

On February 14, 1934, Edgar Charles “Sam” Rice signed with the Cleveland Indians. Rice had played 19 seasons with the Washington Senators prior to this year, and would go on to retire at the conclusion of the 1934 season. Rice batted .293 in 335 at-bats for the Indians in his final season, but fell 13 hits shy of the 3,000 career hit mark before calling it quits. Rice would be elected to the Hall of Fame in 1963.

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Sam Rice in 1924 (Library of Congress)

This day in baseball: Vertical catch record

In a publicity stunt arranged by the Come to Cleveland Committee on August 20, 1938, five members of the Indians (catchers Hank Helf, Frank Pytlak, and Rollie Hemsley and coaches Wally Schang and Johnny Bassler) attempted to set a record by catching a baseball dropped from the top of the 708-foot tall Terminal Tower. In front of a crowd of approximately 10,000 people, rookie reserve catcher Hank Helf managed to catch a ball dropped from the 52-story structure, which was estimated to be traveling at 138 mph. The catch broke Gabby Street’s 1908 mark for a vertical catch, established when Street snagged a ball dropped 555 feet from the top of the Washington Monument.

Hank Helf vertical catch - Cleveland State University Library
Cleveland State University Library

“Tiant’s Apprentice,” by Denise Newbolt

I enjoy the imagery presented in this piece. The metaphor comparing a pitcher to a dancer can be a good one, especially with some pitchers, like Luis Tiant, who have some rather elaborate windups.

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Clear August sunlight spotlighted the dancer
he twirled in the style of Tiant           
technical in spin, placed practiced choreography. 

A white ball, laced red with a season’s skill and hope,
hurled to the stanched batter,
who would nick it to the dirt

In his 7th inning finale
a foul, a strike released in a summer’s era,
the spiraling pitcher spun to a season’s final ovation,
in late afternoon shadows.

Cleveland Guardians

Yesterday, the Cleveland Indians announced their new, much-anticipated team name, which will become effective at the conclusion of the 2021 season. Starting next season, the Cleveland baseball team will be known as the Cleveland Guardians.

While I wholeheartedly agree that a name change is necessary, I confess, I was initially torn about the new name. My initial reaction to the announcement was along the lines of, “Ew… what?” I thought, surely, they could have found something better than that.

But the more I think about it, the more the name grows on me. I cannot think of any other team in any sport, baseball or otherwise, who call themselves the Guardians. Plus, Guardians of the Galaxy is a kickass movie, and I would love to see Cleveland do a Star-Lord theme night (or a Groot theme night!).

I am curious what the new mascot is going to look like. That is just one of many details that the team will have to figure out in the months ahead, for sure. In the meantime, the new logo does look pretty slick.

Cleveland Guardians logo

Cleveland Guardians

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.

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Bill Dinneen (The Sporting News)