This day in baseball: The “Cubs” in print

The nickname “Cubs” in reference to theCubs headline Chicago team first appeared in print on March 27, 1902.  The Chicago Daily News printed a headline that day reading, “Manager of the Cubs is in Doubt Only on Two Positions.”  While the name had existed for the team since 1890, the team was more commonly known as the Orphans, and had also been called the Colts and the White Stockings.  The name Cubs would become the team’s official name in 1907.


This day in baseball: Ruth’s 1933 contract

Babe Ruth signed his 1933 contract with the Yankees on March 24th of that year.  In the face of the Great Depression, Ruth found himself forced to take quite a pay cut from his previous year’s salary of $75,000.

Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert had initially proposed a $25,000 cut down to $50,000 for the year, which Ruth refused to signed.  Nevertheless, the Babe reported to Spring Training hoping to work out a better deal for himself in the meantime.

Finally, however, Ruppert issued an ultimatum, telling Ruth that if he did not sign by March 29th, he would not be permitted to travel back north with the team.  Ruth finally settled for a $52,000 contract, stating, “I expected a cut, but $25,000 is no cut, that’s an amputation.”

ruth


This day in baseball: Federal League founded

On March 8, 1913, John Powers founded the Federal League.  Just a year previous, Powers had the Columbian League, which had failed before a game could even be played.  The new Federal League established teams in Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Covington, Kentucky.  The league did not abide by the National Agreement, earning it the nickname the “outlaw league,” which allowed it to recruit players from established clubs.

Federal_League_logo

Federal League logo (Wikipedia)


“They Lived Too Soon”

This piece, written by an anonymous author, was first published in the Chicago Record in 1896.  I find the poem a touch humorous in that it indicates that for all the incredible accomplishments these great men of history achieved, they missed out big time because they didn’t have the opportunity to experience baseball.

*

George Washington was President
and honored in his day,
He was the father of the land and
all things came his way;
He had a basketful of fun, a wagon
load of fame—
But he never was a rooter at a base
ball game.

Napoleon conquered half the world
and had a crown of gold,
And in his time his cup was just
as full as it could hold.
It looks from here as though he
should have had his share of fun-
But her never strained his vocals
when the home team won.

And also Julius Cesar, who had his
share of sport,
He won his share of battles, and
always held the fort.
He killed lost of people, regard
less of the cost—
But he never booed the umpire
when the home team lost.

And also Alexander, he turned most
every trick,
And then shed tears because there
were no more worlds to lick,
He climbed ‘way up the ladder, as
high as people get—
But he never pawned his scepter to
pay a baseball bet.


History of Fenway Park

220px-Fenway_Park04

Wikipedia

Fenway Park is the oldest Major League Baseball stadium currently in use.  The ballpark has hosted World Series games in eleven different seasons, with the Boston Red Sox winning six of those Series, and the Boston Braves winning one.

Construction on Fenway Park began in September 1911 in Boston, Massachusetts near Kenmore Square.  The ballpark opened on April 20, 1912, having cost $650,000 to build.  It had a capacity of 27,000 and featured a steel and concrete grandstand extending from behind home plate down the baselines, with wooden bleachers placed in the outfield.  The Red Sox played their first Fenway ballgame on that date against the New York Highlanders (Yankees), winning 7-6 in eleven innings.  The opening of the new ballpark found itself overshadowed in the news, however, by the sinking of the Titanic just the week before.

In 1914, the Boston Braves played their home games during the World Series at Fenway Park, due to the construction on their own new stadium, Braves Field, still being in progress.  The Braves would get the opportunity to return the favor before too long.  As any baseball fan will know, Babe Ruth played with the Red Sox prior to his time with the New York Yankees.  During his stint in Boston, Ruth helped the Red Sox to World Series titles in 1915, 1916, and 1918.  The 1915 and 1916 Series, however, were not played at Fenway Park, but rather at Braves Field, in order to accommodate a larger crowd.

Throughout the late-1910s and into the 1920s, the Boston team struggled financially, a situation that resulted in the sale of Babe Ruth to New York and led to the disrepair of various features of Fenway Park.  In 1926, a great fire engulfed the wooden bleachers in left field of the ballpark.  However, these bleachers hadn’t seen much use leading up to the incident anyway, due to their dilapidated state.  Finally, in 1933, the Red Sox were sold to millionaire Tom Yawkey.  Yawkey invested in renovations to Fenway, including the blue, wooden grandstand seats that remain in the stadium to this day.

The Green Monster in left field actually began as a mere ten-foot fence.  When he came into ownership of the team, Yawkey opted not to replace the fire-destroyed wooden bleachers in that part of the stadium.  Instead, during the 1933-1934 off season, Yawkey rebuilt much of Fenway, including the erection of a 37-foot left field wall, initially covered in advertisements.  A scoreboard was also added to Fenway Park in 1934, at the base of the great wall.  At the time, the new board was considered a type of advanced technology, and the scoreboard remains at Fenway to this day, with scores continuing to get updated by hand.  The wall would actually become the “Green Monster” in 1947 when advertisements were removed from the wall and it received a dark green paint job.

The “Williamsburg” area of the ballpark in right field was named for the legendary hitter, Ted Williams.  It is said that the right field bullpen area, constructed in 1940, was built specifically to accommodate Williams’s left-handed swing, pulling the right field wall in closer to home plate.  Also found in the right field stands sits a lone red seat.  This seat is a nod to the 502-foot home run Williams hit in 1946 — the longest homer in Fenway history.

Light towers were then added to Fenway, and the Red Sox would host their first night game on June 13, 1947 against the Chicago White Sox.  It wouldn’t be until 1976 when Fenway saw its next big change, when a $1.5 million electronic scoreboard was added above the stands in center field.  Also in 1976, the Green Monster was refurbished, tearing down the old, tin wall and replacing it with a steel reinforced wall of hard plastic.

Private luxury suites were added to the ballpark’s upper deck from 1982 to 1983.  Bleacher seats were also replaced with individual seats in order to allow season tickets to be sold to fans for those parts of the stadium.  In 1987-1988, a color video board was erected above the center field seats, replacing the old scoreboard, and in 1989, the media level was added.  Also in 1989, the 600 Club was constructed, featuring luxurious seats, climate control, and a great view of the field.  The 600 Club would be renamed the .406 Club after the passing of Ted Williams in 2002, in honor of his historic batting average from the 1941 season.  It would get renamed yet again in 2006 to the EMC Club.

The dugouts in Fenway are the only ones remaining in baseball with support poles in front of the players’ benches.  Throughout the stadium, support beams can also be found, even though other clubs around the league have made a point to no longer have these kinds of support beams in their own stadiums.  The beams at Fenway result in obstructed views for some fans, yes, however, the vertical poles have remained as a way to maintain Fenway’s old-time aura.

Just prior to the 2003 season, the Green Monster had bar-style seating added to the top of it, which became a major fan draw.  That year, box seats were also added right behind home plate.  In 2004, another two hundred seats were added to the roof high over right field, featuring tables at which fans get to sit during the game.  During the early-2010s, the blue, wooden seats that fill the ballpark were systematically repaired and waterproofed.

From May 15, 2003 until April 10, 2013, the Red Sox sold out 820 consecutive home games at Fenway, which makes it the longest home sellout streak in Major League Baseball history.  Fenway has also played host to many other sporting and cultural events, including: professional football games for the Boston Redskins, the Boston Yanks, and the Boston Patriots; music concerts; soccer and hockey games (including the 2010 NHL Winter Classic); and political and religious campaigns.

On March 7, 2012, just ahead of the stadium’s centennial, Fenway Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

800px-Fenway_Stadium

Wikipedia


This day in baseball: Cox buys the Phillies

After the bankrupt team had been taken over by the National League, William D. Cox purchased the Philadelphia Phillies from the NL on February 18, 1943.  At the age of 33, this made Cox the youngest owner in the league.  However, evidence surfaced later that year that Cox had placed some bets on his own team.  Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis launched an investigation, and Cox eventually admitted to making some “sentimental” bets on the Phillies.  Landis responded by banning Cox from baseball on November 23, 1943.

Connie Mack Stadium - Shibe Park

Shibe Park (Wikipedia)


This day in baseball: King Kelly sold to Boston

The Chicago White Stockings sold National League batting champion and future Hall of Famer Mike Kelly to the Boston Beaneaters on February 14, 1887 for what was at that time a record $10,000.  Kelly would earn the nickname “King” while in Boston, where he would hit .311 during this three-year span with the team.

Kingkellyphoto

King Kelly (Wikimedia Commons)