Monday, May 13, 2019

BASEBALL LINGO: WHAT THE EXPRESSIONS MEAN AND HOW THEY GOT THAT WAY (Part I)

BASEBALL LINGO: WHAT THE EXPRESSIONS MEAN AND HOW
THEY GOT THAT WAY (Part I)



ALL-STAR GAME  The idea was conceived in 1933 by Arch Ward, Chicago Tribune sports editor. To give the fans a real rooting interest, Ward suggested that they be allowed to vote for their favorite players via popular ballot. In perhaps no other game do fans have such a rooting interest, although there have been a few periods when voting by fans has been abandoned. Today it appears that Ward's original principle will remain permanently in effect. The American League won 12 of the first 16 All-Star games, but went on to lose 20 of the next 23 to the National League through 1978. Some memorable moments have taken place in the contest often referred to as the Midsummer  Dream Game. In the first game ever played, Babe Ruth slugged a towering home run. The next year, New York Giants immortal Carl Hubbell struck out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Foxx, Al Simmons, and Joe Cronin in succession to make for some more baseball history.
AMAZIN' METS The first run they ever scored came in on a balk. They lost the first nine games they ever played. They finished last their first four seasons. Once they were losing a game, 12-1, and there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. A fan held up a sign that said "PRAY!" There was a walk, and ever hopeful, thousands of voices chanted, "Let's go Mets." They were 100-l underdogs to win the pennant in 1969 and incredibly came on to finish the year as World Champions. They picked the name of the best pitcher in their history (Tom Seaver) out of a hat on April Fools' Day. They were supposed to be the replacement for the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants. They could have been the New York Continentals or Burros or Skyliners or Skyscrapers or Bees or Rebels or NYB's or Avengers or even Jets (all  runner-up names in a contest to tab the National League New York team that began playing ball in 1962). They've never been anything to their fans but amazing—the Amazin' New York Mets.
    EIGHTH WONDER OF THE WORLD On what was once
 Texas swampland and a wind-swept prairie, the Houston Astros once played baseball in the Astrodome, which many nicknamed the Eighth Wonder of the World. Built at a cost of $38 million, the colossal complex sprawled over 260 acres six miles from downtown Houston. The facility had the biggest electric scoreboard and the largest dome ever constructed. It was the largest clear-span building ever built and the largest air-conditioned stadium ever. The Astrodome had 45,000 plush opera-type seats, from which fans viewed athletic events in the additional comfort supplied by a 6,000-ton air-conditioning system that maintained the temperature in the stadium at 72 degrees. The inspiration for the Astrodome was the Roman Coliseum, built circa 80 A.D., which prodded Judge Roy Hofheinz, president of the Houston Sports Association, the owners of the team, to press for the creation of a domed stadium.
"I knew with our heat, humidity and rain, the best chance for success was in the direction of a weatherproof, all-purpose stadium," said Hofheinz. Buckminster Fuller, media-famed ecologist and inventor of the geodesic dome, served as consultant to the project. Hofheinz said, "Buckminster Fuller convinced me that it was possible to cover any size space so long as you didn't run out of money." They didn't run out of money and even had $2 million to spare for the 300-ton scoreboard, with 1,200 feet of wiring, that stretches 474 feet across the brown pavilion seats in center field.

"I LOST IT IN THE SUN" Billy Loes was a Brooklyn Dodger pitcher in the 1950's. Possessed with a great deal of natural athletic ability, Loes never achieved the success experts predicted should have come to him as a matter of course. At times he was quicker with a quip than with his glove. During the 1952 World Series, Loes ingloriously misplayed a ground ball hit back to the pitcher's mound. Later he was questioned by a reporter who wished to learn what had been the problem. Loes responded, "I lost it in the sun."
"I NEVER MISSED ONE IN MY HEART" Long-time major league umpire Bill Klem's phrase was his attempt to explain how difficult the job of umpiring was and how objective he always attempted to be. Klem retired in 1941—according to him, after the first time he pondered whether he had correctly called a play.
“IDIOTS ”  Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona explained the name his players gave to themselves in 2004: "They may not wear their hair normal, they many not dress normal, but they play the game as good as you can."
"IF IT'S UNDER W FOR 'WON,' NOBODY ASKS YOU HOW”  As a player and a manager, Leo Durocher could invent more ways to tease and taunt and beat the opposition than virtually any other figure in the history of baseball. His was an aggressive, no-holds-barred approach to the National Pastime. The quote attributed to him reflects his attitude toward the game.
       
"IN THE CATBIRD SEAT" Red Barber beguiled Brooklyn Dodger fans for years with his Southern voice, narrative skills, honest manner, and down-home expressions. His pet phrase to describe when someone was pitching, hitting, fielding or just functioning well was a reference to that individual as being in the "catbird seat." Barber also used the phrase to characterize a team ahead by a comfortable margin and virtually assured of victory.
"IRON MAN" Cal Ripken Jr., for breaking the consecutive games played in mark set by Lou Gehrig.  Teammates called him "Junior," as a tip of the cap to Cal Sr., in Orioles' organization more than three decades.
       IRON HORSE Lou Gehrig, a.k.a. Larrupin' Lou and Pride of the Yankees, earned his main nickname for playing in 2,130 consecutive games—a major league baseball record that stood until Cal Ripken, Jr. came along. Day in and day out for 14 years, like a thing made of iron, Gehrig was a fixture in the New York Yankee lineup. He led the league in RBI's, 5 times and 13 years he drove in more than 100 runs a season. The man they also called Columbia Lou—a reference to his Columbia University student days—was admitted to the Hall of Fame in 1939.
       “IRON MAN” Joe McGinnity pitched in the majors from 1899 to 1908. He started 381 games and completed 351 of them. He had a lifetime earned-run average of 2.64. McGinnity could pitch day in and day out like a man made of iron. In 1903 he pitched and won three doubleheaders. Winner of 247 games—an average of almost 25 a year—McGinnity was admitted to baseball's Hall of Fame in 1946.
"IT'S NOT OVER 'TIL IT'S OVER" This phrase, attributed to Yogi Berra, underscores the former Yankee great's long experience in the wars of baseball. Berra, as player, manager, and coach, has seen the game of baseball from many levels. A victim and victor of late-inning rallies, of curious changes in the destinies of players and teams, his stoical attitude to the National Pastime is the view of a pro, even though it is expressed in perhaps not the most appropriate syntax.

                
Bookends:

KD by Marcus Thompson II (Atria Books, 27.00) is timely, insightful, never boring as Thompson gets up close and personal with superstar Kevin Durant to spin the narrative that reveals so much about the star’s humanity and ferocity on the baseball court. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
The World’s Fastest Man by Michael Kranish (Scribner, $30.00) is an important and even ground breaking effort, carefully crafted effort that brings back a time and world far different from today. Its focus - -as its sub-title proclaims - -Major Taylor, America’s first Black Sports Hero. Set in the 1890s when most of America  was still beset by unbridled racism, Major Taylor competed in the white world of cycling and prevailed. He busted racial barriers and changed the way many thought about black athletes.  BELONGS ON YOUR BOOKSHELF    

ABOUT 

HARVEY

 FROMMER


One of the most prolific and respected sports journalists and oral historians in the United States, author of the autobiographies of legends Nolan Ryan , Tony Dorsett, and Red Holzman, Dr. Harvey has been a professor for more than two decades in the MALS program at Dartmouth College. Dubbed “Dartmouth’s Mr. Baseball” by their alumni magazine,  he’s also the founder of www.HarveyFrommerSports.com.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

100th ANNIVERSARY OF BABE RUTH’S HISTORIC RETURN TO BALTIMORE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACTTim Reid: Member of Babe Ruth’s Historic Home Runs Research Team
kingofclout@gmail.com (754-368-1295)

100th ANNIVERSARY OF BABE RUTH’S HISTORIC RETURN TO BALTIMORE 
THURSDAY AND FRIDAY, APRIL 18 and 19, 2019
“SEVEN SWINGS – SIX HOME RUNS”
AT OLD ORIOLE PARK

(Baltimore, Maryland)  

April 18 and 19, marks the 100th Anniversary of Babe Ruth’s historic return to Baltimore as a pitching and hitting superstar for the World Champion Boston Red Sox.  Inspired by his return, “The Southpaw from Baltimore” put on what may have been the greatest slugging performance of all time: “six home runs on seven swings” against his first professional coach and team, Jack Dunn’s Baltimore Orioles at old Oriole Park, then at the corner of 30th Street and Greenmount Avenue.

Featuring new and never-published-before evidence, analyses, and diagramming, baseball historian Bill Jenkinson (“the Babe Ruth of Babe Ruth Home Run Historians”) has exhaustively researched, and now recently authored a definitive account of Babe’s Herculean performance in his old hometown. See the just-released accompanying website, titled  “Six Home Runs in Baltimore”.  


Quoting Bill Jenkinson:
           
“We have no knowledge of any hitter ever matching Ruth’s deeds in that 1919 visit to Baltimore. It is highly improbable that we ever will. At least one of Babe’s drives exceeded 500 feet in length, possibly as many as three. When it is understood that only one such home run has been hit by the combined rosters of every Major League team so far in the 21st Century, that distance level is nearly superhuman.”

Interviews, information, illustrations, and images, (including true distances of all six home runs) available upon request:
Please contact Tim Reid of the Babe Ruth's Historic Home Runs Research Team at: kingofclout@gmail.com and/or (754) 368-1295.


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Monday, April 22, 2019

Sad Story of Shoeless Joe Jackson


Sad Story of Shoeless Joe Jackson
          Who Belongs In the Baseball Hall of Fame





This year of 2019 is the 100th anniversary of the “Black Sox” scandal. This article comes from the Frommer vault  
On July 16, 1889, Joseph Jefferson Wofford Jackson was born into a poor family in Greenville, South Carolina. He never learned to read or write. By the time he was six years old, he worked as a cleanup boy in the cotton mills.
By age 13, he labored amidst the din and dust a dozen hours a day along with his father and brother. It was hard and back-breaking employment. Playing baseball on a grassy field was his way of escape. It was there where Joe’s natural ability stood out. Baseball was his game, and he loved it. The youth had such passion and skill that he was recruited to play for the mill team organized by the company.
One humid and hot summer day, Jackson was playing the outfield. His shoes pinched. He removed them and played in his stocking feet. An enterprising sportswriter gave him the nickname: "Shoeless Joe." Even though it was reported that was the only time Jackson ever played that way in a game—the “Shoeless” moniker stuck. He hated the name, feeling it cruelly referenced the fact that he could not read or write.
From the mill team, Jackson moved on to play with the Greenville, South Carolina Spinners. It was there in 1908 that a scout recommended him to Philadelphia Athletics owner/manager Connie Mack, who purchased his contract for $325.
         The youngster made his Major League Baseball debut on August 25, 1908. The more he played the more his potential impressed everyone. An article in the Evening Times noted: “He has justified early predictions of his abilities. With experience and the coaching of Manager Mack, he should turn out to be…the find of the season.” 
         Sadly, Jackson was unable to read what the Philadelphia newspaper wrote about him. He could not even read menus. In restaurants, he usually ordered what another player did. Sadly, he did not fit in with his teammates or the big city. Homesick, he jumped the team and took a train back home.
Mack sent Jackson down to a minor league team in Georgia in 1909, where he won the batting title. In 1910, Mack called him up to the big league team but decided that Jackson lacked the disposition to play in a big city like Philly. In one of the worst trades in baseball history, the 6'1'', 190-pound Jackson was shipped to Cleveland for a player named Bris Lord (Bristol Robotham Lord, nicknamed "The Human Eyeball") and $6,000.
Shoeless Joe fit in quite nicely in Cleveland, where he batted .408 in 1911. In mid-season of 1915, after compiling a .375 career batting average with the Ohio team, Jackson was traded for three players and $15,000 to the White Sox.
            It was in Chicago that Jackson made a point of wearing alligator and patent-leather shoes—the more expensive the better. It was as if he were announcing to the world, "I am not a Shoeless Joe. I do wear shoes. And they cost a lot of money!"
       With the White Sox, Jackson became one of baseball’s storied stars. His defensive play was at such a remarkable level that his glove was called "the place where triples go to die."
         On offense, he was one of the most feared hitters of his time. Babe Ruth copied his swing, claiming Jackson was the greatest hitter he ever saw.
Then along came 1919!
The 1919 Chicago White Sox were one of the greatest teams of their era. Paced by Jackson who batted .351, they won the American League pennant. They were 3-1 favorites to win the World Series as they prepared to face off against the Cincinnati Reds.
Prior to the series, betting odds started to shift to even money. The word on the street was that New York gambler Arnold Rothstein was behind the swing and that the series was fixed.
            Hearing the rumor, the 31-year-old Jackson asked Chicago manager Kid Gleason and owner Charles Comiskey to bench him. But they insisted he play. They would have been crazy to put down their best player.
During the series, Jackson hit the only home run. He posted the highest batting average. He committed no errors. He established a new World Series record with 12 hits. Nevertheless, the Reds won the Fall Classic.
Edd Rousch, who played for the Reds, insisted that charges that the series was fixed was nonsense. "We were just the better team," he said.
            "Maybe I'm a dope but everything seemed okay to me," said umpire Billy Evans, who worked the series. 
            But the rumor of a fix persisted as the 1920 season got underway. The White Sox were driving hard to their second straight pennant when a petty gambler in Philadelphia broke the news that a Cubs-Phillies game had been fixed in 1919.
That led to a gambling investigation—its focus the 1919 World Series. With only a couple of days left in the 1920 season, a Grand Jury was called to determine whether eight White Sox players should stand trial for allegedly throwing the 1919 World Series. Jackson was one of the eight players.
            It took the jury a single ballot to acquit all eight accused players. Incredibly, the very next day, baseball's first commissioner—Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who came to power in the fall of 1920 with a lifetime contract and a mandate to clean up the game using whatever methods he saw fit—banned all eight players from baseball for life. The bigoted Landis was brought into organized baseball with a reputation of being a vindictive judge, a hanging judge.
He was all of that.
Was there a plan to throw the World Series in 1919? Was a plan carried out? If so, which games were dumped? What role did each banned player have? Why was there a total banning of the players?
            Buck Weaver was banned not for dumping but for allegedly having guilty knowledge that there was a plot. Fred McMullen was banned, though he came to bat twice and got one hit. And Joe Jackson was banned, although his performance exceeded his own standards.
Most importantly, the eight players were found not guilty in a court of law. Yet, they were found guilty by a brand new baseball commissioner.
At the trial, Joe Jackson was asked under oath:
"Did you do anything to throw those games?"
"No sir," was his response.
"Any game in the series?"
"Not a one," was Jackson’s response. "I didn't have an error or make no misplay."
With the banning from baseball for life of "Shoeless Joe" Jackson and the seven other White Sox players, it seemed the sport was saying: "Now we are clean. Now we have purged ourselves of the dishonest ways of the past in the national pastime." And if Jackson in the prime of his baseball career and the others were sacrificed, that was the way it had to be.
Shoeless Joe Jackson maintained that he had played all out in that World Series of 1919.  Nevertheless, Major League Baseball was done with Jackson and his seven teammates. It was a miscarriage of justice, a field day for slander on parade. Powerless players were punished, scapegoated.
            For a couple of decades, Jackson attempted to play the game that he loved, the game that he had learned so well back in the days of his youth. He made an effort to play with outlaw barnstormers, mill teams, semi-pro outfits. Aliases and disguises did him not much good; his unmistakable talent brought the spotlight to bear on him. Relentless, unforgiving, prejudiced Judge Landis, to keep Jackson from playing, threatened baseball team owners and league officials.
            In 1932, Jackson applied for permission to manage a minor league team in his home town of Greenville, South Carolina. Landis denied the application.
In 1951, Joseph Jefferson Jackson died of a massive heart attack a week before he was to appear on the Ed Sullivan television show. He was scheduled to receive a trophy honoring him for being inducted into the Cleveland Indians Baseball Hall of Fame.
It is an old story.
The roster of Hall of Famers includes personalities with much shabbier credentials and far more soiled reputations. Attempts to get Joe Jackson into the Baseball Hall of Fame failed during and after his lifetime. Yet, Jackson's shoes are at Cooperstown. Yet, his life-sized photograph is there. So is a baseball bat he used, along with the jersey he wore in the 1919 World Series. So is the last Major League Baseball contract he signed.
            Prominent attorneys like Alan Dershowitz and F. Lee Bailey have argued that Jackson should go into the Hall. There have been petitions, Congressional motions, letters sent to baseball Commissioners through the years—all to no avail.
Commissioner Bart Giammatti said:"I do not wish to play God with history. The Jackson case is best left to historical debate and analysis. I am not for reinstatement."
Commissioner Faye Vincent said, "I can't uncipher or decipher what took place back then. I have no intention of taking formal action."
Commissioner Bud Selig did not stand up for Joe Jackson even though he met with Ted Williams, who pushed for Jackson's admission to the Hall of Fame.
Four times Jackson batted over .370. His lifetime batting average was .356, topped only by Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby. Ruth, Cobb, and Casey Stengel all placed him on their all time, All-Star team.
Joe Jackson was vilified through the decades by many who never knew or didn’t care to know the full story. His, however, is a story that just will not go away. 




ABOUT  
HARVEY
FROMMER

One of the most prolific and respected sports journalists and oral historians in the United States, author of the autobiographies of legends Nolan 
Ryan  ,Tony Dorsett, and Red Holzman, Dr. Harvey   Frommer, a professor for more than two decades in the MALS program at Dartmouth College, was dubbed “Dartmouth’s Mr. Baseball” by their alumni magazine. He’s also the founder of  www.HarveyFrommerSports.com  and has  written extensively about Shoeless Joe Jackson. Signed, mint condition copies of his book on Jackson and other books can be obtained from his site.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Remembering Robby (Part 3)

Remembering Robby (Part 3)


Major League Baseball rightfully celebrates Jackie Robinson Day every April 15, the day he broke the color barrier in 1947.
I met my all-time favorite player twice –once as a teenager and then as an adult. Both moments still stay with me.
HARVEY FROMMER:  When school was out, I sometimes went around with my father in his taxi. One summer morning, we were driving in East Flatbush in Brooklyn down Snyder Avenue. My father pointed to a dark red brick house with a high porch.
               “I think Jackie Robinson lives there,” my father said. He parked across the street and we got out of the cab, stood on the sidewalk and looked at the house. Suddenly, the front door opened. A black man in a short-sleeved shirt stepped out. I didn't believe it. Here we were on a quiet street on a summer morning with no one else around.
          The man was not wearing the baggy, ice-cream-white-uniform of the Brooklyn Dodgers that accentuated his blackness. He was dressed in regular clothes, coming out of a regular house in a regular Brooklyn neighborhood, a guy like anyone else going out for a bottle of milk and a newspaper.
      Then, incredibly, he crossed the street and came right toward me. Seeing that unmistakable pigeon-toed walk, the rock of the shoulders and hips that I had seen so many times before on the baseball field, I had no doubt who it was.
         “Hi Jackie, I'm one of your biggest fans," I said self-consciously. “Do you think the Dodgers are going to win the pennant this year?”
                  His handsome face looked sternly down at me. “We'll try our best,” he said.
                 “Good luck,” I said.”
                  “Thanks,” he replied.”
               He put his big hand out, and I took it. We shook hands and I felt the strength and firmness of his grip. I was a nervy kid, but I didn't ask for an autograph or try to prolong the conversation. I just walked away down the street.
          That was my first personal contact with Jackie Robinson. Years later I came across him in downtown Brooklyn in a Chock Full O Nuts coffee shop. He was the company’s vice president and director of personnel. Now he was heavier, gray-haired, slowed, sitting at the counter. We chatted a bit but the meeting was sadder, even poignant for me to see how this great athlete had been slowed by time and illness.
He did not remember our chance meeting that long ago summer day but I did. Ironically, that coffee shop on Montague Street was close by what had been the offices of the Brooklyn Dodgers where Robinson had his first meeting with Branch Rickey who helped him shatter baseball’s color line.     
          What follows is a short-hand version of some of the life and times of Jack Roosevelt Robinson. It is all memorable and moving.
Brooklyn Dodgers
   To avoid racist behavior in spring training 1947, Branch Rickey wisely chose Havana as his site for both the Montreal Royals and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Rickey wanted Brooklyn players to see what Robinson was like. They got an eyeful –in a seven game series at the Nacional Stadium between the two teams he batted an amazing. 625. Robinson very well could have spent a second season in Montreal; his spring training performance of 1947 paved the way for his promotion to the major leagues.
  However, not everything was serene despite the best laid plans of Rickey. At the start some Dodgers were opposed to a black man being part of their team. Brooklyn manager Leo Durocher defended Jackie Robinson this way   “I do not care if the guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a fucking zebra. I'm the manager of this team, and I say he plays. What's more, I say he can make us all rich. And if any of you cannot use the money, I will see that you are all traded."
And for good measure “Leo the Lip” added: You want a guy who comes to play. But he doesn’t just come to play. He came to beat you. He came to stuff the damn bat right up your ass.”
With the blue number 42 on the back of his Brooklyn Dodger home uniform, Jackie Robinson, a grandson of a slave and a son of a sharecropper, took his place at first base at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947.
“Back in the thirties and forties, Joe Louis was the only hero that we ever had. When he won a fight, everybody in Harlem was up in heaven.” On that April day James Baldwin said, “The large contingent of blacks in the crowd had another hero to be “up in heaven” about, another hero to stand beside Joe Louis.” 
Many of the 26,623 at that tiny ballpark on that chilly spring day were not even baseball fans, but they had come out to see “the one” who would break the sport’s age-old color line. Robinson’s wife, Rachel, was there along with the infant Jackie, Jr.  Many in the crowd wore “I’m for Jackie” buttons and badges, and screamed each time the black pioneer came to bat or touched the ball.
Jackie Robinson grounded out to short his first time up. He flied out to left field in his second at bat. He got on base on an error in the seventh inning. He grounded into a double play in his final at bat of the day.
The Dodgers won the game, 5–3, nipping Johnny Sain and the Boston Braves. For Robinson it was not the performance he had sought, but the first of his 1,382 major league games was in the record books—and he had broken baseball’s color line forever.
“I was nervous on my first day in my first game at Ebbets Field,” Robinson told reporters later. “But nothing has bothered me since.” 
Part sociological phenomenon, part entertainment spectacle, part revolution, part media event—the narrative of Jackie Robinson played out its poignant, dramatic and historic scenes through that 1947 season.
Famed sports columnist Jimmy Cannon called Jackie Robinson “the loneliest man I have ever seen in sports." That comment was only partly true.  Toward the end of the 1947 season, a Jackie Robinson Day was staged at Ebbets Field. He was not a lonely man. Robinson was now a major drawing card rivaling Bob Feller and Ted Williams in the American League.
“I thank you all.” Number 42 said over the microphone in that high-pitched voice. He was presented with gifts which included a new car, a television and radio set and an electric broiler.
The famed tap dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson stood next to Jackie Robinson: “I am 69 years old. But I never thought I would live to see the day when I would stand face to face with Ty Cobb in Technicolor.”
What Jackie Robinson accomplished on the baseball field had never been accomplished in the same way. He had a flash, a flame, a fire that prompted Dodger manager Chuck Dressen who had replaced Leo Durocher, who had moved on to the New York Giants, to say: "Give me five players like Robinson and a pitcher and I'll beat any nine-man team in baseball."
At season’s end, playing in 151 of the team’s 154 games, Robinson put up impressive stats and won the Rookie of the Year award.
          During his time as Dodger Robinson became close friends with Larry Doby of the Cleveland Indians, the first black baseball player in the American League. Their bond was the shattering of the color barrier in baseball in the same year. The duo talked baseball on the phone and shared experiences about racism.
The motivations of Branch Rickey, the man they called “the Mahatma,” have always been questioned subject to debate. Why did he sign Jackie Robinson? How much of what he did came from a moral conviction that the color line must go? How much came from a desire to make money and field a winning team?
MONTE IRVIN: Regardless of the motives, Rickey had the conviction to pursue and to follow through.
Breaking baseball’s color line enabled Branch Rickey to tap into a gold mine, but he elected not to monopolize that gold mine of talent in the Negro Leagues.  Monte Irvin cold have been a Brooklyn Dodger, so could other Negro League greats like Larry Doby, Sam Jethroe, and Satchel Paige and more.
 But Rickey had Robinson, Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe and Joe Black, Jim Gilliam and more. He was very much in favor of other teams integrating, too.
Prejudiced major league club owners who had called Rickey complaining, “You’re gonna kill baseball bringing that nigger,” were now asking, “Branch, do you know where I can get a couple of colored boys as good as Jackie and Campy and Newk?”
         Jackie Robinson took the abuse: the cut signs by players near their throats, the verbal curses, the spiking attempts, the cold shouldering, and the death threats that came in the mail.
On and off the field that rookie season of 1947, Jackie Robinson made his point and kept making his point. He had come to play. He had come to stay the distance no matter what.  At season’s end, playing in 151 of the team’s 154 games, Robinson put up impressive stats and won the Rookie of the Year award.
By 1949, Jackie Robinson was in his third season as a Brooklyn Dodger and was no longer the lone black man on the baseball diamond. Branch Rickey told him he could now let it all hang out. Dodger fans were elated.
“I sat back happily,” Rickey recalled, “knowing that with the restraints removed, Robinson was going to show the National League a thing or two.”
“I told Mr. Rickey that if a pitcher hits me intentionally with a fastball, his ass belongs to me,” explained Jackie Robinson. “And if a second baseman strikes me intentionally, his ass belongs to me. Apparently the warning was passed down the line. So the word got down the league. They called me names, but I expected those. But nobody hit me intentionally”
RACHEL ROBINSON: It was hard for a man as assertive as Jack to contain his own rage, yet he felt that the end goal was so critical that there was no question that he would do it. And he knew he could do it even better if he could ventilate, express himself, use his own style.
And what a style it was!





ABOUT 

HARVEY
FROMMER

One of the most prolific and respected sports journalists and oral historians in the United States, author of the autobiographies of legends Nolan Ryan ,Tony Dorsett, and Red Holzman, Dr. Harvey  Frommer, a professor for more than two decades in the MALS program at Dartmouth College, was dubbed “Dartmouth’s Mr. Baseball” by their alumni magazine. He’s also the founder of www.HarveyFrommerSports.com and has  written extensively about Jackie Robinson. Signed, mint condition books can be obtained from his site. 



Here's the real story of Babe Ruth's 587-foot Tampa home run

Here's the real story of Babe Ruth's 587-foot Tampa home run



Babe Ruth has hit a lot of home runs. He's called them, he hit one into a pond of hungry alligators in Arkansas, he hit one clear out of a prison yard in upstate New York. But when you Google search "Babe Ruth's longest home run," there's one that pops up before all of the others: The Red Sox slugger's mammoth blast at Tampa, Fla.'s Plant Field -- exactly 100 years ago today.



Newspapers fawned over the dinger the next day. The Tampa Morning Tribune called it a "wallop stupendous," which is a phrase that I will now use to describe every home run hit from here until eternity.
The most descriptive account, though, came from opposing Giants manager and baseball lifer John McGraw. He talked about the moment in an autobiography years later, likely prompting that plaque seen near the field today.
"I didn’t believe it possible for a man to hit a baseball as far as that. He caught the ball squarely on the nose and it started like an ordinary long fly. Instead of coming down, though, it kept rising. “My God,” exclaimed one of the players, “where is that ball going?” The drive cleared the field, a race track and then the fence. Interest in its length was greater than in the game itself. For the rest of the game that was all we talked about. To be sure of its length a party of newspaper men and players went out and measured the distance accurately. The ball had traveled 587 feet. Mind you, that is just thirteen feet short of two hundred yards! Can you imagine such a drive? That hit by Ruth would have cleared the bleachers and the center-field fence in the Polo Grounds. It was easily the longest hit I ever saw, or ever expect to see."
But was it actually 587 feet? Can a human -- even a giant human like Babe Ruth lugging a 56-ounce bat -- hit a baseball that far?


Well, historians Bill Jenkinson, Tim Reid and crew investigated the true distance to tie into the centennial celebration of the homer this week. They combed hundreds of newspaper accounts from the days afterward and found that the majority of the stories put the actual distance in the 550-560 foot range -- with the Boston Globe's Mel Webb having the most accurate depiction. He was the only writer to actually go out and measure the distance of the ball from home plate. Webb walked all the way out to right-center field, foot after foot, to where, for some reason, a security guard had marked the ball's final resting spot with a pile of stones.
“I measured the distance covered by Babe’s homer yesterday, making it in 179 strides of slightly more than a yard. The boost was certainly better than 540 feet.”
In a later article that month, Webb gave the homer an exact measurement of 550 feet. In a season wrapup, he said that he "measured the distance three times, and found the length of the ‘carry’ was 551 feet." And then, finally, 29 years later, The New York Times confirmed most of Webb's account with a much clearer picture of the day.


There it is: 552 feet and 8 inches. And not only did Jenkinson, Reid and his team scour centuries-old periodicals, they also went to the site of Plant Field -- which is now University of Tampa's football stadium -- and measured the distance using old photographs and Webb's estimations. It indeed made sense. Here's a sketch of the dinger looking extremely ridiculous in a modern-day photograph. And a shot of the shot from back in 1919.



Although the Plant Field plaque exaggerates Ruth's homer by more than 30 feet, a 552-footer is still quite a poke. Ruth reportedly told the Boston Globe that it was the longest he'd ever hit and, along with his offensive performance in Arkansas the previous spring, helped solidify the thought that he was a stronger hitter than pitcher (500-foot homers will do this).
The 24-year-old went on to break baseball's single-season record for home runs with 29 in 1919 and never pitched full-time in the big leagues again. He hit 54 homers the next season and 59 the year after that. His "longest home run" catapulted him into superstardom.
If this all sounds ridiculous to you, it is. If it sounds like folklore, some of it very well may be. Such is the life of George Herman Ruth.