This day in baseball: Consecutive no-nos

On June 15, 1938, Johnny Vander Meer of the Cincinnati Reds became the only pitcher in major league history to pitch two consecutive no-hitters.  Four days earlier, the left-handed Vander Meer held the Braves hitless at Crosley Field, leading the Reds to a 3-0 victory.  Then, on June 15th, he defeated the Dodgers at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, 6-0.

Johnny_Vander_Meer

Vander Meer in 1948 (Baseball Digest)


Arlie Latham

Arlie_Latham

Wikipedia

Nicknamed “The Freshest Man On Earth,” Walter Arlington Latham was born March 15, 1860 in West Lebanon, New Hampshire. Latham’s father served as a bugler for the Union Army in the American Civil War, and at the conclusion of the war, young Arlie became interested in baseball when soldiers returning from the battlefield brought the game home with them.

By the time he was fourteen, Latham had become good enough to play with the General Worth nine, a local team in Stoneham, Massachusetts, where the family had moved. Latham started out as a catcher, but later took up playing third base to avoid getting beat up behind the plate.  In 1877, Latham played with the Pittsfield, Massachusetts club as their third baseman, and then in 1879, he made his professional debut in minor league baseball with Springfield in the National Association.

Twenty-year-old Latham made his Major League debut on July 5, 1880 with the Buffalo Bisons of the National League, becoming the first man from New Hampshire to play in the majors. He then played for the Philadelphia Athletics of the National Association in 1881, then the Philadelphia Phillies of the League Alliance in 1882.

Latham then joined the St. Louis Browns of the American Association in 1883. He stayed in St. Louis through the 1889 season, during which time the Browns won four consecutive pennants (1885-1888) in the American Association. Latham led the AA in runs scored with 152 during the 1886 season. He also batted .316 and stole 142 bases, then tacked on another 12 stolen bases in the playoffs. Adding to a reputation as an excellent base stealer, in 1887, Latham stole 129 bases, and he also led the league in stolen bases with 109 during the 1888 season.

In 1890, Latham jumped to the Chicago Pirates of the Players’ League. Later that year, in July, he returned to the NL with the Cincinnati Reds, where he served as a utility player and coach. Latham played for Cincinnati through 1895, then was traded to the Browns after the 1895 season. The Browns then released Latham after the 1896 season. Latham bounced around the minors for a few years before winding up with the Washington Senators in 1899. He later made four appearances for the New York Giants in 1909 at age 49.

Personality-wise, Arlie Latham was considered one of the funniest players in baseball. I’m not sure exactly how he earned the nickname “The Freshest Man on Earth,” but Latham was well-known for playing practical jokes. According to one account, the existence of the third base coach’s box is thanks to Latham. He would taunt opposing players third base coach, taking advantage of the lack of a coach’s box by running up and down the third base line yelling insults at the pitcher while he was in the middle of his windup.

His tendency to shout and gesticulate, not only as a coach, but also as a player, earned Latham the unofficial title of “the father of ‘chatter’.” The implication, of course, being that the practice of infield chatter that exists to this day had begun with Arlie Latham.

Latham finished his playing career with 742 stolen bases in seventeen professional seasons with a .269 batting average, .334 OBP, and .341 slugging. Latham died on November 29, 1952 at the age of 92 in Garden City, New York. He is buried in Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale, New York.


Quote of the day

I don’t see pitches down the middle anymore – not even in batting practice.

~Hank Aaron

hank-aaron

New York Daily News


Quote of the day

A good catcher is the quarterback, the carburetor, the lead dog, the pulse taker, the traffic cop and sometimes a lot of unprintable things, but no team gets very far without one.

~Miller Huggins

Miller_Huggins

Bain News Service


“Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown On A Bad Bet,” by Fall Out Boy

I debated whether or not to post this here, because in spite of its title, the song itself isn’t actually about baseball.  Rather, if you pay attention to the lyrics, you realize the song is about infidelity.

However, the title still grabs your attention if you’re a baseball fan, so I did a little poking around to see what I could find in terms of an explanation.  While there is some uncertainty about the general meaning, the consensus seems to be that the title is a reference to Pete Rose — in fact, some people indicate that Fall Out Boy originally included Rose’s name in the title, then changed their minds to avoid the potential for a lawsuit.  So instead of using his name, the band referenced Rose’s tendency to utilize headfirst slides.

Beyond that, the connection gets a bit hazy, but here’s what I found that makes a modicum of sense: In the song, the narrator is having an affair with a married woman.  He is the other man, if you will.  More than anything, he wants the woman for himself.  However, due to the fact that she is married (his bad bet), he can never have her.  In the same way, Pete Rose has found that he cannot have what he truly wants — a place in Cooperstown — due to his own bad bet.


This day in baseball: The Cardinals’ first home night game

The St. Louis Cardinals played their first home night game on June 4, 1940.  The Cardinals lost to Brooklyn, 10-1, in spite of a 5-for-5 performance by Joe Medwick, including three doubles. The first evening ballgame in St. Louis, which had taken place on May 24, was actually hosted by the Browns, after the two teams had agreed to split the $150,000 cost of installing lights at Sportsman’s Park.

sportsmans park

ballparksofbaseball.com


This day in baseball: Chance is a pitcher’s target

Over the course of a doubleheader in Cincinnati on May 30, 1904, Cubs first baseman Frank Chance was hit by a pitch five times.  In the first game of the day, Chance even lost consciousness for a brief period when one erratic pitch hit him in the head.

Frank_Chance_1899

Sporting News