For the first game of a doubleheader played on August 2, 1938, Larry MacPhail had official baseballs dyed dandelion yellow, and the balls were used in the matchup between the Dodgers and Cardinals at Ebbets Field. The inspiration for this yellow ball came from a New York color engineer named Frederic H. Rahr, who developed it after Mickey Cochrane was severely beaned at the plate the previous year.
“My primary object is to give the hitter more safety and there’s no question that this will be achieved,” said Rahr. “That’s simply because the batter will be striking at a ball he can see instead of at a white object that blurs with the background.”
The Dodgers won that opening game with the yellow baseballs by a score of 6-2. The Dodgers went on to use up their yellow balls in three more games in 1939, but the yellow balls would not get used again after that season.
I can’t seem to trace the origins of this infographic, but I found it an interesting one. For true baseball fans not all of these items are unknowns, and the graphic was obviously created prior to the 2016 season, given the bit of trivia about the Cubs. The detail about Don Larsen smoking in the dugout during his World Series perfect game was new to me, however, and it appears this tidbit is pretty accurate.
That was the system they had in those days. That’s what they called states’ rights. States’ rights doesn’t mean much to the Negro. You don’t get justice with states’ rights. Which is a bad thing to happen.
~James “Cool Papa” Bell
Slim Sallee became the first pitcher in Cardinal history to steal home on July 22, 1913 in a game against the Brooklyn Superbas. The Redbird lefty performed the feat in the game’s third inning, scoring the first run in St. Louis’s 3-1 victory over Brooklyn at Ebbets Field.
Less than two weeks after Larry Doby’s debut with the Indians, Hank Thompson became the second black player to debut in the American League on July 17, 1947. In the game, Thompson went 0-for-4 as the Browns suffered a 16-2 loss to Philadelphia at Sportsman’s Park. Thompson would play in only 27 games for St. Louis because his presence did not significantly raise attendance.
This short video from the Baseball Hall of Fame is a few years old, but I love the fact that it includes brief snippets from the opening ceremony in June 1939. In the video, you’ll hear a few words from1939 inductee Eddie Collins as well as from Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, 1937 inductee Cy Young, and 1936 inductee Babe Ruth. Videos of many induction speeches from those early years have proven hard to find, so coming across this video feels like a positive step in the right direction.
In a game against the White Sox at Chicago’s South Side Park on July 1, 1902, Boston Americans pitcher Cy Young drove in the only run of the game. Young’s shutout performance from the mound is his fourth consecutive complete game without allowing a run and is also the right-hander’s third 1-0 victory in nine days.
Boston Beaneaters pitcher Wiley Piatt lost both games of a doubleheader to the St. Louis Cardinals on June 25, 1903. Piatt pitched a complete game in each contest, making him the first pitcher in the 20th century to pitch two complete games in one day and lose them both. Fittingly, Piatt was known as “Ironman” to his teammates.
This has to be the cheesiest documentary I have ever watched, but that characteristic actually made it pretty fun. As you’ll see, the cheese just oozes right from the intro, which I imagine is due in part to the era in which the film was made, while Ryan was still playing ball. (Seeing a young George W. Bush with dark hair was a little trippy, but not in an intentional way by the filmmakers.) Nevertheless, this video provides a great look at Ryan’s impressive career.
I stumbled across this PBS feature in the midst of some browsing yesterday. PBS Investigations ran an episode in 2004 about Pop Lloyd Baseball Field, a stadium in Atlantic City. What’s intriguing about the field is that not only was it named after a Negro Leagues ballplayer, but the stadium was built in 1949, at a time when racial prejudices ran particularly strong. Not only that, Atlantic City at the time was known to be especially discriminatory against the black community. The episode delves into why the stadium was built where it was built at the time it was built.
I wish PBS had posted the video of the episode on their site, but sadly, this is not the case. However, they do provide a link to the transcript of the episode, for anyone who is interested in the story behind the construction of this stadium. Reading the transcript feels a little trippy without the visual context to go along with it, but if you’re willing to venture into it, the history is pretty interesting (small spoiler: the motives behind the stadium’s construction were not exactly pure).
As part of the episode, PBS also interviewed pitcher Max Manning, which can be found in the transcript. What’s really cool, though, is that you can find an extension to his interview (with a video!) as a featured clip here.