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.
This past week, a co-worker shared this episode by Kansas Public Radio with me. To celebrate the return of Major League Baseball, KPR asked members of its own staff to share what song they’d pick as their own personal walk-up song. I listened to the episode while doing some housework the other night (can I just mention what a privilege it is to be able to listen to cool stuff while doing chores?), and it was fascinating to hear what these individuals each chose as their tunes. One guy chose the Bagel Bites jingle from the 1990s commercial, which I found most amusing of the choices. Each staffer explains why they selected their song, and the program even goes on to play each song. If that sort of thing interests you, I encourage you to give the episode a listen, as well.
Of course, this also got me thinking about what I would choose as my own walk-up song, and I have to confess, I’m finding it hard to choose. I do feel like Smash Mouth’s “All Star” is pretty hard to beat, but I imagine it would also be an overused selection:
But then, the chorus of Papa Roach’s “Face Everything and Rise” provides quite the pump up without being quite as mainstream:
Or if you’d rather get away from lyrics, at the moment I’d probably go with one of the instrumental portions of Code Black’s “Tonight Will Never Die”:
To be honest, I could probably go on and on for days listing possible songs, so for the sake of brevity, we’ll stop this list at three. And honestly, if I were to do this again tomorrow, my top three would likely be completely different. I’ve decided that the most logical solution to this problem, in the unlikely event that I ever do become a big league ballplayer, is that I’ll just have to make a point to bribe the PA team to play a different song with each at-bat. That’s reasonable, isn’t it?
But now, I’m curious: what tune would you choose as your walk-up song?
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.
In the bottom of the 12th inning on July 28, 1967, Tony Horton hit a walk-off homer to break up a scoreless pitching duel between Indians pitcher Steve Hargan and Orioles’ right-hander Moe Drabowsky. Drabowsky had allowed only six hits in the extra-inning contest at Cleveland Stadium. Horton’s dinger helped the Indians to break a five-game losing streak.
MLB Opening Day was yesterday, and as hard as I tried, I just could not get excited about it. The Royals play their opening game tonight, and while I feel a tiny bit happier about that, it’s still nothing like what I usually feel when Opening Day comes around.
I am making an effort, I really am. From the time the announcement came down that a season was going to happen up to now, I have been trying to get excited about baseball.
It’s just really hard to do right now.
Every time I think about Major League Baseball proceeding with a season, I find myself thinking, “Half those players are going to get COVID.” “This season will be ended by early September.” “It’s not like anyone can go to the games anyways.” “It’s not about the game, it’s all about the money.”
Now, admittedly, bringing baseball back is not all bad. It’s been weird not having new games to watch, even from the living room. I miss the highlight reels, even the repetitive ones. I miss having to confess to my co-workers, “Um, yeah… I fell asleep in the seventh inning, so I didn’t see that homer.” I miss the bench-clearing brawls in all their glorious stupidity. I miss seeing the perfectly cut grass of the myriad outfields and listening to the various broadcasters react to and analyze the games. I miss baseball itself.
But even that can’t drown out the thought in my head that keeps insisting that going through with this season is stupid to the core. The schedule is so short and compact, it’s almost laughable. Then there’s the not-so-funny fact that all these players are at risk for exposure.
I will watch some games — it will be hard not to. But it still won’t be the same.
I’m sorry baseball. I just can’t this year.
Here’s a good Baseball Project tune to start your Tuesday. This song is all about the rise and fall of Lenny Dykstra, who was considered to be one of the heroes of the 1986 World Series, but has since fallen into so much legal and financial trouble that earlier this year, a court in New York ruled that he is “libel-proof,” meaning his behavior and character are so awful even false statements cannot harm his reputation.
I grew up in a home where the radio was permanently set on WJR; I thought George-Kell-and-Ernie-Harwell was one word. I’d fall asleep listening to my parents discussing the merits and flaws of various Detroit players, and by the time I was twelve I wanted one of my own, a Tiger, my very own player to root for and adore. In 1962, my goals in life were to be the first woman governor of Michigan and to marry Rocky Colavito.
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.
The infographic below was created by Statista back in March, estimating the potential losses MLB teams would be facing if they were to play an 82-game season in front of no live fans. For an 82-game season, each team in the league would be facing an average loss of $640,000 per game. The infographic shows estimated total losses for the top eight teams as a result of the shortened season and spectator-less games. The total loss for the MLB was estimated to come in around $4 billion.
Fast forward to the current arrangement, with a 60-game season, and these dollar amounts are no doubt looking even more ominous than the ones in the graphic. As much as we all hate that money is such a big part of professional sports, it’s no wonder there was so much of a push to get a season, any season, underway to recoup some of these losses.
However, as I’ve mentioned before, with the coronavirus continuing to spread around the country at such a rapid rate, it’ll be interesting to see if the league even makes it all the way through the planned 60-game schedule.
The 1939 All-Star Game was held on July 11th at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, where the American League defeated the National League, 3-1. Two of the three AL runs were driven in by Yankees players (the third was an unearned run scored on an error), including a DiMaggio home run. Indians pitcher Bob Feller, only twenty years old at the time, threw 3.2 scoreless innings to earn the save.
The box score for the game can be found here.