This day in baseball: First World Series sweep

The Boston Braves completed the first World Series sweep in baseball history on October 13, 1914.  The Braves defeated the Philadelphia Athletics, 3-1, to win the Series, four games to none.

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1914 Boston Braves (Wikipedia)


History of Kauffman Stadium

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Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri first opened as Royals Stadium on April 10, 1973. Construction for the stadium began in June 1967, when a $102 million bond was issued by Jackson County for construction of two sports stadiums.  One of those stadiums was for the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League.  The other stadium, meanwhile, was intended for the Kansas City Athletics.

The Philadelphia Athletics, owned by Arnold Johnson, had moved to Kansas City in 1955, bringing Major League baseball to the city for the first time.  The Athletics moved into Kansas City Municipal Stadium, a facility originally built in 1923, which was then rebuilt and expanded for the A’s.  Johnson passed away in March 1960, and on December 19, 1960, Charles Finely purchased a controlling interest in the Kansas City Athletics from Johnson’s estate.

In the early 1960s, Finely began looking to move the team to a new city.  In an effort to keep the Athletics in Kansas City, the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority was established to oversee construction and funding for a new sports complex for the A’s and the Chiefs, who also shared Municipal Stadium.  Original plans called for a multipurpose stadium, but these were scrapped due to design and seating capacity issues.  Going against the trend in other cities that were building multipurpose stadiums at the time, the county decided to build two new stadiums, one for the A’s and one for the Chiefs.

Charles Finely, however, did not want to wait for the construction of a new stadium, and in October 1967, Finely took the A’s to Oakland, California, where a new multipurpose stadium had just been erected.  After the move, United States Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri threatened to press for the revocation of baseball’s anti-trust exemption if they did not give Kansas City a new team.  The MLB responded by hastily granting expansion franchises to four cities, including a Kansas City team owned by a local pharmaceutical magnate, Ewing Kauffman. The new teams were scheduled to start playing in 1971.

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Ewing Kauffman (Wikipedia)

However, pressure from Symington and other officials prompted the MLB to allow the expansion franchises to begin playing in 1969. The new club in Kansas City was named the Royals, and they played their first four seasons in Municipal Stadium.  Meanwhile, construction on the Truman Sports Complex, including the Royals’ new stadium and the Chiefs’ facility, Arrowhead Stadium, began on July 11, 1968.  The Royals played their first game in their new ballpark, originally named Royals Stadium, on April 10, 1973 against the Texas Rangers.

Royals Stadium was the American League’s first ballpark with Astroturf as the playing surface.  It held 40,793 seats, which all faced second base and were arranged in three tiers featuring maroon, gold, and orange seats.  The stadium’s most unique feature, however, was the display of fountains and a waterfall beyond the outfield fence.  Stretching horizontally for 322 feet, it remains the largest privately-funded fountain in the world.  The fountains are on display before and after the game and in-between innings, while the waterfalls are constantly flowing.  A twelve-story scoreboard, in the shape of the Royals’ crest, was placed beyond the center field fence.

In 1993, the stadium was renamed in honor of Ewing Kauffman.  Two years later, the Astroturf was replaced with grass.  Then, after the 1998 season, Kauffman Stadium was given a full makeover.  The renovation included the addition of Crown Seats, Dugout Suites, new clubhouses, and an exclusive restaurant and lounge known as the Crown Club.  All of the formerly-brightly-colored seats in the stadium were replaced with blue seats.

Then, on April 4, 2006, Jackson County, Missouri voters approved a 0.375% sales tax increase to fund plans to renovate the Truman Sports Complex, including a $256 million renovation of Kauffman Stadium.  Along with this, the Royals committed to a lease that will keep them in Kansas City until 2030.  The renovation included a reduction of capacity to 37,903, a new high-definition scoreboard in center field (known as “Crown Vision”), new bullpens perpendicular to the field, expansion of the seating in the Crown Club and Dugout Suites, and new fountain view terrace seats in the outfield.  New fan attractions included a kids’ area known as “the Little K” and a new Royals Hall of Fame in left field.

Four statues stand in the outfield concourse behind the fountains. Three of the statues are located in right field (featuring George Brett, Dick Howser and Frank White, all of whom have had their numbers retired by the Royals), and in left field is the former Royals owner Ewing Kauffman and his wife Muriel.

Kauffman Stadium Google maps

Google Maps


This day in baseball: First Canadian no-no

On September 9, 1945, Dick Fowler of the Philadelphia Athletics became the first Canadian to throw a major league no-hitter when he defeated the Browns, 1-0. It was Fowler’s first start in three years, having just returned from service in the Canadian Army during World War II.  The no-hitter was also the first by an Athletics pitcher since 1916.

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Wikipedia


This day in baseball: Stealing the inning

Nationals catcher Eddie Ainsmith stole three bases in one inning on June 26, 1913 in a game against the Philadelphia Athletics at Griffith Stadium in Washington. After safely reaching base on a single in the bottom of the ninth, Ainsmith proceeded to steal second, third, and home. Unfortunately, Ainsmith’s efforts didn’t make much of a difference for his team as the A’s dominated the Nats, 10-3.

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Ainsmith (Wikimedia Commons)


Christy Mathewson

christy mathewsonConsidered the first great pitcher of the modern era, Christopher “Christy” Mathewson was born in Factoryville, Pennsylvania on August 12, 1880, the oldest of six children of Minerva (née Capwell) and Gilbert Mathewson.  He attended high school at Keystone Academy, and then college at Bucknell University. At Bucknell, Mathewson served as class president, played on the school’s football and baseball teams, and he was also a member of the fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta.

In 1895, when Mathewson was fourteen years old, the manager of the Factoryville ball club asked him to pitch in a game against a rival team in Mill City, Pennsylvania. Mathewson helped the Factoryville team to a 19-17 victory. He continued to play with semipro teams until he left for Bucknell.

At Bucknell, though Mathewson pitched for the baseball team, he was better known for his accomplishments as a football player, where he spent three years as the varsity team’s first-string fullback, punter, and drop kicker. It was also at Bucknell that Mathewson met his future wife, Jane Stoughton. After playing ball throughout his time at Bucknell, Mathewson signed his first professional baseball contract in 1899 with Taunton of the New England League. In 1900, he went on to play with Norfolk of the Virginia-North Carolina League, finishing the season with a 20-2 record.

In July of 1900, the New York Giants purchased Mathewson’s contract from Norfolk for $1,500. He appeared in six games for the Giants, compiling an 0-3 record before the Giants sent him back to Norfolk, demanding their money back in frustration.  In September of that year, the Cincinnati Reds obtained Mathewson off the Norfolk roster, then traded him back to the Giants that December.

Christy Mathewson won 20 games in his first full major league season in 1901. He then posted at least 30 wins a season from 1903-05 and led the National League in strikeouts five times between 1903 and 1908. In 1908, he set a modern era record for single-season wins by an NL pitcher with 37. From 1903 to 1914, Mathewson won at least 22 games each season and led the NL in ERA five times.

Christy Mathewson

Wikipedia

In postseason play, during the 1905 World Series, Mathewson pitched three complete-game shutouts in three starts against the Athletics, giving up only 14 hits total in those three games. In 1911, the Giants won their first pennant since 1905, however they ultimately lost the 1911 World Series to the Philadelphia Athletics. Mathewson and Rube Marquard allowed two game-winning home runs to Hall of Famer Frank Baker en route to the Series loss.

The Giants captured the pennant again in 1912, facing the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. Though Mathewson threw three complete games in the Series and maintained an ERA below 1.00, the Giants as a team committed a number of errors, including the infamous lazy popup dropped by Fred Snodgrass in game 7, costing them the championship. Though the Giants would win 101 games in 1913, they lost the World Series that year four games to one, again to the Athletics.

Mathewson played with the Giants for seventeen years. After the 1913 season, however, both Mathewson and the Giants as a team began to decline. In 1916, Mathewson was traded back to the Reds and was named player-manager. He appeared in only one game as a pitcher for the Reds, on September 4, 1916 against the Cubs. Mathewson and the Reds won that contest, 10-8.

In his career, Mathewson posted a 373-188 record (.665 winning percentage). His career ERA was 2.13 (8th all time) and he posted 79 shutouts (3rd all time) over the course of said career. Mathewson also recorded 2,507 career strikeouts against only 848 walks.

Nicknamed the “Christian Gentleman,” Mathewson was held in high regard in his time. Mathewson was handsome, college-educated, and temperate, making him an anomaly in the rowdy world of baseball during this time period. It made him, easily, one of the most popular ballplayers of the age. “He gripped the imagination of a country that held a hundred million people and held this grip with a firmer hold than any man of his day or time,” wrote sportswriter Grantland Rice.

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baseballinwartime.com

Late in the 1918 season, Mathewson enlisted in the United States Army for World War I. He served as a captain in the newly formed Chemical Service along with Ty Cobb. While he was in France, he was accidentally exposed to mustard gas during a chemical training exercise and subsequently developed tuberculosis. Mathewson served with the American Expeditionary Force until February 1919 and was discharged later that month. He returned to serve as an assistant coach for the Giants until 1921, but continued to battle tuberculosis the entire time.

After some time away, Mathewson attempted to return to professional baseball in 1923 when he and Giants attorney Emil Fuchs put together a syndicate that bought the Boston Braves.  Initially, Mathewson was to be principal owner and team president, but his health had deteriorated so much that he turned over the presidency to Fuchs after the season. Christy Mathewson died in Saranac Lake, New York of tuberculosis on October 7, 1925. He is buried at Lewisburg Cemetery in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, near Bucknell University.

In 1936, Mathewson became one of the first five players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.


This day in baseball: The end of Cy Young’s no-hit streak

In 1904, Red Sox pitcher Cy Young pitched a streak of 23 innings of no-hit baseball, which ended that year on May 11th. The stretch started with two innings to close a game on April 25, then included six innings on April 30, a perfect game against the A’s on May 5, and six more innings on May 11 against the Detroit Tigers.

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Wikimedia Commons


This day in baseball: Connie Mack Stadium

On February 13, 1953, the Philadelphia Athletics renamed their stadium from Shibe Park to Connie Mack Stadium, in honor of the legendary manager. During his fifty-year career as manager for the A’s, Mack led the team to nine American League pennants, appearing in eight World Series and winning five World Championships.

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digitalballparks.com