This day in baseball: Connie Mack Stadium

On February 13, 1953, the Philadelphia Athletics renamed their stadium from Shibe Park to Connie Mack Stadium, in honor of the legendary manager. During his fifty-year career as manager for the A’s, Mack led the team to nine American League pennants, appearing in eight World Series and winning five World Championships.

baseball

digitalballparks.com


“Line-Up for Yesterday: An ABC of Baseball Immortals,” by Ogden Nash

I have a feeling that I have seen this particular poem before, though for the life of me, I do not recall where.  In any case, this piece by Ogden Nash was originally published in the January 1949 issue of SPORT Magazine.  Nash uses the letters of the alphabet to pay tribute to some of baseball’s most popular players.

You can find a chart listing the players each stanza stands for here.

*

A is for Alex
The great Alexander;
More Goose eggs he pitched
Than a popular gander.

B is for Bresnahan
Back of the plate;
The Cubs were his love,
and McGraw his hate.

C is for Cobb,
Who grew spikes and not corn,
And made all the basemen
Wish they weren’t born.

D is for Dean,
The grammatical Diz,
When they asked, Who’s the tops?
Said correctly, I is.

E is for Evers,
His jaw in advance;
Never afraid
To Tinker with Chance.

F is for Fordham
And Frankie and Frisch;
I wish he were back
With the Giants, I wish.

G is for Gehrig,
The Pride of the Stadium;
His record pure gold,
His courage, pure radium.

H is for Hornsby;
When pitching to Rog,
The pitcher would pitch,
Then the pitcher would dodge.

I is for Me,
Not a hard-hitting man,
But an outstanding all-time
Incurable fan.

J is for Johnson
The Big Train in his prime
Was so fast he could throw
Three strikes at a time.

K is for Keeler,
As fresh as green paint,
The fastest and mostest
To hit where they ain’t.

L is for Lajoie
Whom Clevelanders love,
Napoleon himself,
With glue in his glove.

M is for Matty,
Who carried a charm
In the form of an extra
brain in his arm.

N is for Newsom,
Bobo’s favorite kin.
You ask how he’s here,
He talked himself in.

O is for Ott
Of the restless right foot.
When he leaned on the pellet,
The pellet stayed put.

P is for Plank,
The arm of the A’s;
When he tangled with Matty
Games lasted for days.

Q is for Don Quixote
Cornelius Mack;
Neither Yankees nor years
Can halt his attack.

R is for Ruth.
To tell you the truth,
There’s just no more to be said,
Just R is for Ruth.

S is for Speaker,
Swift center-field tender,
When the ball saw him coming,
It yelled, “I surrender.”

T is for Terry
The Giant from Memphis
Whose .400 average
You can’t overemphis.

U would be ‘Ubell
if Carl were a cockney;
We say Hubbell and Baseball
Like Football and Rockne.

V is for Vance
The Dodger’s very own Dazzy;
None of his rivals
Could throw as fast as he.

W is for Wagner,
The bowlegged beauty;
Short was closed to all traffic
With Honus on duty.

X is the first
of two x’s in Foxx
Who was right behind Ruth
with his powerful soxx.

Y is for Young
The magnificent Cy;
People battled against him,
But I never knew why.

Z is for Zenith
The summit of fame.
These men are up there.
These men are the game.


Ken Burns’s Baseball: The Third Inning

3rd inning

The Third Inning of Baseball: A Film By Ken Burns explores the game during the 1910s.  This disc opens with a discussion of fan involvement, and how the setup of the field during this time period gave fans a greater amount of influence in the events of the game.  Fans often spectated standing in foul territory or directly on the field behind the outfielders, allowing them not only to yell at players more effectively, but also to potentially become physically involved in some plays.  And it wasn’t just fans rooting for their teams who sought to influence the outcome of games.  Gamblers during this time period were heavily involved in the sport.

Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics dominated the first half of the decade.  Meanwhile, the saga of Ty Cobb continues, from his 1910 race for the batting title against Nap Lajoie to Cobb’s suspension from organized baseball for beating the snot out of a fan in 1912.

Buck O’Neil, who has contributed to the commentary of the documentary series in the first two innings, was born in 1911, and now discusses his experience with baseball as a boy.  Baseball’s “gentleman’s agreement,” however, continued to exclude black players from the game, though teams at times undermined this agreement with light-skinned minority players.

The 1912 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Giants became an unusual eight-game Series when the second game was called due to “impending darkness.”  Game eight of this Series was the one in which Fred Snodgrass dropped an easy fly ball, which allowed hitter Red Sox Clyde Engle to make it all the way to second.  Engle would later score, tying the game at 2-2, and Red Sox went on to first load the bases, then score the winning run.  Poor Snodgrass joined the ranks of dubious fame with Fred Merkle as a result.

The clouds of scandal appear early with the figure of Hal Chase.  His willingness to throw games was so well-known that even fans took to chanting, “What’s the odds,” whenever Chase took the field.  Players throughout baseball expressed their own discontent with the reserve clause and the complete control of owners over their contracts.  The formation of the Federal League attempted to address this discontent in promising players the opportunity for free agency.  The new league only lasted two seasons, however, and the players found themselves still without a voice.

On this disc, we meet pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander, and we see more of the progression of Branch Rickey’s baseball career.  The 1916 World Series went to the Boston Red Sox over the Brooklyn Superbas.  The 1917 Series went to the Chicago White Sox over the New York Giants, then Boston returned to win the 1918 Series, this time over the Cubs.  When World War I broke out, Major League Baseball as a whole seemingly turned a blind eye.  Some players did serve during the war, including Grover Alexander, Ty Cobb, and Christy Mathewson, and Branch Rickey joined the effort as well.

The last half hour of the Third Inning went into detail covering the 1919 Black Sox scandal.  I particularly found it fascinating that Burns managed to find a Chicago fan who had been fifteen years old at the time of the scandal.  This fan recalled his disbelief that the White Sox had managed to lose the Series, being too young to understand the world of gambling at the time.  His shock and disappointment no doubt reflected the feeling of baseball fans everywhere at the time.  Though as Buck O’Neil describes at the very end of this disc, while the scandal turned a lot of folks away from the game at the time, it wouldn’t be long before a new hero would draw them back — a man named Babe Ruth.


This day in baseball

On August 19, 1900, Milwaukee pitcher Rube Waddell pitched two complete games in both contests of a doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox.  He threw 17 innings in the first game, then was coaxed (with a promise of a few days off to go fishing) by manager Connie Mack to pitch the nightcap, in which Waddell threw a five-inning one-hitter.  Milwaukee won both games, 2-1 and 1-0.

 

WaddellRubePlaque182_NB

National Baseball Hall of Fame

 


This day in baseball: No interest in Cobb

On March 17, 1907, the day after Ty Cobb had quarreled with a black grounds keeper and with teammate Charlie Schmidt, Tigers owner Frank Navin makes an all-out effort to trade Cobb.  Indians manager Nap Lajoie turned down a straight trade for Elmer Flick, a former batting champion, stating that Cobb was a problem player.  Connie Mack of the A’s showed little interest as well, given that he already had a strong outfield.

Ty Cobb

Ty Cobb (International Film Service)


This day in baseball: American All-Stars face Eiji Sawamura

Seventeen-year-old Japanese pitcher, Eiji Sawamura, took the mound against a team of touring All-Star players from Major League Baseball on November 20, 1934.  He came into the game in the fourth inning and pitched nine innings, striking out nine batters and giving up only one run.  At one point, he successively struck out Charlie Gehringer, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Jimmie Foxx.  The only run came on a home run by Gehrig as the American team won, 1-0.

American team manager Connie Mack was so impressed by the young man’s performance that he tried to sign him to a contract.  Sawamura declined, however, as anti-American sentiment was strong in Japan at that time.

Eiji_Sawamura

The Japanese Book


This day in baseball: Connie Mack’s debut

On September 11, 1886, catcher Cornelius McGillicuddy, better known as Connie Mack, made his major league debut with the Washington Nationals (a.k.a. Senators).  The Nationals defeated Philadelphia, 4-3, at Capitol Park in Washington.

Connie Mack went on to become the longest-serving manager in Major League Baseball history.  He holds records for wins (3,731), losses (3,948), and games managed (7,755).

Connie Mack baseball card, 1887 (Wikimedia Commons)

Connie Mack baseball card, 1887 (Wikimedia Commons)