This day in baseball: Birth of the Northwestern League

Considered the first minor league circuit in baseball history, the Northwestern League was organized in Rockford, Illinois on January 2, 1879. The organization included the Davenport Brown Stockings, Omaha Green Stockings, Dubuque Red Stockings, and Rockford White Stockings. Unfortunately, the stocking league became defunct before the season even came to an end as a result of lacking a fixed schedule and financial mismanagement.

Team standings and league leaders are listed in the charts below, courtesy of Baseball Reference:

Northwestern League 1879

baseball-reference.com


Bull Durham

I re-watched Bull Durham last night, and while I’ve made reference to the movie a number of times in this blog, I am a bit stunned that I have not yet devoted a post to it. I watched The Shawshank Redemption a few weeks ago, which got me thinking about the younger Tim Robbins’s performance in this classic baseball flick. It had been a while since I last watched Bull Durham, and it’s a bit stunning to see the younger Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon, as well.

While the semi-pornographic nature of the film is a bit of a turnoff for some folks (pun intended), one can’t deny that this movie is chock full of some pretty fantastic baseball speeches. Some make one nostalgic about the game:

Others amuse the hell out of me:

Grand speeches aside, I also really enjoy the individual dialogues a lot of the characters have with themselves: Crash talking to himself at bat, Nuke talking to himself on the mound, and Annie’s narration over the entire movie. The film romanticizes the experience of minor league baseball a little too much, I think, but really, it’s just a fun film to take in as a baseball fan.


This day in baseball: Connie Mack to the Brewers

On September 21, 1896, Connie Mack announced his intention to leave the Pirates in order to manage the minor-league Milwaukee Brewers of the Western League. Mack thus retired as a full-time player to accept his new role, which included a $3,000 a year salary and 25% ownership of the club. He managed the Brewers for four seasons from 1897 to 1900, their best year coming in 1900, when they finished second. 

ConnieMack1887

Connie Mack baseball card, 1887 (Wikimedia Commons)


RIP Gene Budig

Dr. Gene Budig held a lot of titles over the course of his lifetime. He was a university president at Illinois State University, West Virginia University, and the University of Kansas (one building at KU, Budig Hall, is named in his honor). He was a newspaper executive, an author, a major general in the Air National Guard, and a senior presidential adviser for the College Board.

Gene Budig was also the last President of the American League in the MLB. He served in that role for six seasons, before the position was officially eliminated. In addition, for the last fourteen years, Budig was part-owner of Minor League Baseball’s Charleston RiverDogs, an affiliate of the New York Yankees.

Dr. Budig passed away earlier today, September 8, 2020.

Rest in peace.

Gene Budig - Post and Courier

Gene Budig (Post and Courier)


This day in baseball: Babe’s first professional homer

Babe Ruth hit his first home run in professional baseball on March 7, 1914 in the last inning of a spring training exhibition game for the International League’s Baltimore Orioles. The homer was a 400-foot shot at the Cape Fear Fairgrounds in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

babe Ruth Orioles 1914

Ruth in 1914 (untoldentertainment.com)


“Nine Men Out,” by Michael Ceraolo

Here’s a piece by Michael Ceraolo based on the Jun 24, 1946 crash involving a bus carrying the Spokane Indians of Minor League Baseball.  The bus crashed on Snoqualmie Pass in Washington State in what is considered one of the worst accidents in the history of American professional sports.  Nine players were killed in the accident, and six were injured.  Eight of those who died had served in World War II.

*

Since I was the player-manager
(though only 25),
I will take the responsibility to speak for the rest
Frederick “Marty” Martinez
Bob Kinnaman
George Risk
Bob Patterson
Bob James
George Lyden
Chris Hartje
Vic Pacetti
and me, Mel Cole,
were members of the Spokane Indians team
On June 24, 1946,
enroute to Bremerton for the next day’s game,
our bus swerved to avoid an oncoming car,
falling three hundred feet down and bursting into flames
Marty, George Risk, the three Bobs, and I
were dead at the scene
Vic died on the way to the hospital,
George Lyden died the next day,
and Chris died two days later
Vic, not yet 19, was the best prospect among us;
the rest of us were older and had served during the war,
probably ending any major-league dreams for us
The driver of the oncoming car was never found


This day in baseball: The longest hit streak comes to an end

The longest hit streak in professional baseball history ended on August 20, 1919, when Joe Wilhoit of the Wichita Jobbers was held hitless by the Tulsa Oilers in the Western League.  From June 14th to August 19th, 1919, Wilhoit went 153-for-297, giving him a .515 batting average en route to the record streak.  The streak included four home runs, nine triples, and twenty-four doubles.

Joe_Wilhoit

The Sporting News


This day in baseball: Satch draws a crowd

The largest crowd ever to attend a minor league game, an audience of about 57,000, showed up on August 7, 1956 to watch 51-year-old Satchel Paige at the Orange Bowl.  Paige managed to hit a double and to earn the win, leading the Miami Marlins to victory over the Columbus Jets, 6-2.

paige


This day in baseball: Henley’s 24-inning shutout

On June 8, 1909, pitcher Cack Henley of the San Francisco Seals set a Pacific Coast League record for longest complete game shutout when he held the Oakland Oaks scoreless over 24 innings en route to a 1-0 victory. Henley’s 24-inning mark is tied with three others for the most thrown by a PCL pitcher in one game.

cack henley

milb.com


This day in baseball: No DH for PCL

While the American League is known for its use of the designated hitter, they weren’t the first ones to ever have an interest in utilizing it.  The Pacific Coast League once expressed an interest in implementing the allowance of a designated hitter even before the AL started using it.  However, the PCL’s proposal to use the DH got rejected on March 31, 1961 by the Professional Baseball Rules Committee.  The American League would begin using the DH in 1973.

Pacific_coast_league

By Source, Fair use, Link