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The bat that Bucky Dent used to hit his fabled home run in the 1978 AL East tiebreaker against the Red Sox at Fenway Park might not be the one on display at Yankee Stadium. The bat in the Yankee museum is believed to be the same one originally owned by a Long Island resident and later sold at auction for $60,100.
Questions about the bat’s authenticity began earlier this season when Dent and former teammate Mickey Rivers, who lent his bat to Dent on Oct. 2 at Fenway Park, appeared at the Stadium to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the homer and said they did not know what became of the bat.
Rivers, through representative Andrew Levy, said recently he knows “he gave a bat to someone, not clear as to whom.” Levy added that Rivers’ recollection was that he gave it to a youngster. He added that neither Rivers nor Dent “could swear on the Bible that it was the actual bat’’ used for the home run.
Oakdale resident Robin Malasko said her father, Angelo Naples, was given the bat by Rivers after the game. Naples, who was 46 in 1978, was described as a former Newsday transportation fleet manager in a 2007 obituary.
Naples’ family said he sold the bat around 1996 for $5,000 to well-known sports memorabilia collector Barry Halper. Most of Halper’s collection was auctioned in Manhattan by Sotheby’s in 1999.
Dent said the buyer of the purported home run bat, Stephen Waters of the Manhattan-based equity firm Compass Advisers, wrote him a letter in 2004 saying he bought the bat at the auction. When informed that Rivers is not certain if the bat he gave away was the one used by Dent, Waters said Wednesday: “I would prefer to pass on this. Thanks for telling me about your story, I appreciate it.”
Waters’ bat is on loan to the Yankee Stadium museum. Curator Brian Richards did not comment but a spokesman for the Yankees said, “We study evidence very thoroughly before deciding to display any memorabilia.”
Videos from the 1978 game show Yankees batboy Anthony Sarandrea handing Dent a bat from Rivers after Dent fouled a ball off his foot. Rivers had noticed the prior bat Dent was using had a hairline crack in the handle. After Dent’s homer, the tape shows Sarandrea handing the bat to Rivers, who then walked on a 3-and-2 pitch and put the bat on the ground.
“I definitely had the bat in my hand and Mickey came up and grabbed it,’’ said the 58-year-old Sarandrea, a retired New York City police officer now living in Scottsdale, Arizona. “He would have used the same bat and that would have went right into where the other bats are,’’ referring to the bat rack in the dugout. “There’s more than two game bats brought out, just for these circumstances when a bat gets cracked. At least three.”
Malasko said her father was well known to Yankees players and often gained admittance into the clubhouse. But Sarandrea said players do not handle the bats after the game and all of the game-used ones would be located in an area away from the players in the visiting clubhouse.
“We’d get like shopping carts and throw all the bats into one area,’’ Sarandrea said. "Those bats would all be in one big bag.’’
Dent, speaking from Boynton Beach, Florida, said, “The batboy takes the bats. Everybody is running off the field, they take the bats and put them in the bat bags.’’ Dent said he is aware of the bat in the Stadium’s museum but has not seen it and doubts he’d be able to confirm that it is the one he used.
Malasko said her father had the bat signed by Rivers that day and later on by Dent and Red Sox pitcher Mike Torrez, who gave up the homer.
“I signed a bat that was handed to me,” Dent said. “I forgot who asked me to sign it, I just signed it. It was Mickey’s bat. He signed it, I signed, I guess they got Torrez to sign it. I don’t know what Mickey did with it because it wasn’t really mine, so I don’t know who he gave it to [who] or what.’’
In an era before game-used equipment had significant value, Sarandrea said: “Rivers gave [bats] out left and right. He was very generous. But I can’t see in the pandemonium of that locker room, the bat wasn’t in his locker, it was in a different area of that clubhouse. That would be incredible to me. My opinion is you couldn’t really tell which bat it is. My final answer would be going back all these years is that it got mixed up with a bunch of other bats.’’
Professional authenticator Dave Bushing, who was the bat expert for the Sotheby’s auction where the bat was sold said he was satisfied with the provenance offered by Halper, whose letter of authentication stated that Naples was given the bat by Rivers. Halper, who died in 2005, once had a fractional ownership of the Yankees.
“You’ve got a credible source in Mickey Rivers, a credible person [Naples] from a newspaper,” Bushing said. “Generally, when someone comes to us with that kind of provenance, we get that from family members all the time. There was no reason for anybody to lie. I can see why [Rivers] doesn’t remember the event 40 years later any better than I remember the [auction] years later. Obviously, Mickey Rivers told him at the time here’s the bat. So, did Mickey Rivers lie? Did Mickey Rivers give him a different bat? Who’s going to argue with Mickey Rivers when he said he gave the bat in 1978? Nobody.’’
Sotheby’s spokeswoman Lauren Gioia said, “Sotheby’s has no reason to doubt the provenance published in the 1999 auction catalog.”
Malasko said her family has no doubt the bat Rivers gave her father was the one Dent used to hit the home run.
“As told to us, on October 2, 1978 our dad was in the locker room after the game,’’ she said in an email. “Mickey Rivers gave our dad the bat and was told that it was THE bat that Bucky Dent hit the home run with. That is the facts as we know it. Our dad was an honest man and would never fabricate this story. Mickey Rivers said that he gave the bat to a kid, if so, why hasn’t anyone come forward knowing the history of the bat? Also why would Yankee Stadium have it in their museum if they didn’t know for sure it was indeed the bat?’’
With all the hype and hoopla about today’s mainly over-rated
baseball players, with all the fuss about launch angles and shifts,
“bullpenning” and instant replay over and over again by the non-stop talkers in
the TV booths and on the field of play, it is refreshing to flash back to those
who played the game in days gone by.
In this case, the player performed a couple of centuries
ago. His given name was William Henry Keeler but he was known far and wide later
on as "Wee" Willie Keeler. He made his debut at the Polo Grounds as a
member of the New York Giants on September 30, 1892. He singled off the
Phillies' Tim Keefe for the first of his 2,926 career hits.
The son of a Brooklyn trolley switchman, Keeler Two years
later became a member of the famed Baltimore Orioles. Just five-foot-four and
140 pounds, the left-handed hitting Keeler more than made up for his lack of
size with fine running speed and deft bat control.
Keeler opened the 1897 season with two hits in five at bats
against Boston. Then for two months the slight southpaw swinger slapped hit
after hit, game after game - from April 22 to June 18 - for 44 straight games.
His record stood for 44 years until Joe DiMaggio came along and snapped it in
In 1897, Keeler batted an incredible .432. A reporter asked
the diminutive batter, "Mr. Keeler, how can a man your size hit
The reply to that question has become a rallying cry for all
kinds of baseball players in all kinds of leagues:
Keeler smiled. "I keep my eyes clear and I hit 'em where they ain't."
That he did.
The Sporting News offered this mangled
prose about Keeler as a fielder. "He swears by the teeth of his mask-carved
horse chestnut, that he always carries with him as a talisman that he
inevitably dreams of it in the night before when he is going to boot one - muff
an easy fly ball, that is to say, in the meadow on the morrow.”
“All of us fellows” Keeler explained, “in the outworks have
got just so many of them in a season to drop and there's no use trying to buck
a year after Keeler batted that astonishing .432, he set a mark for hitting
that will probably never be topped, notching 202 singles in just 128 games. He
truly was hitting them where the fielders weren't. It was a season in which the
left-handed bat magician recorded 214 hits. His batting average was .379, but
the incredible amount of singles amassed saw him register a puny .410 slugging
That 1898 season
Keeler came to bat 564 times in 128 games and walked only 28 times and did not
A slugger he was not. But, oh what a hitter!
Keeler played 19 years in the major leagues and finished his career with a .345
lifetime batting average. Quite justifiably the little man was one of the first
to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hal of Fame in 1939.
He was something special.
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 is an expert on
the Boston Red Sox having written three books on the team including the classic
REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK from which some of the material for this article
A professor for more than two decades in the MALS program at
Dartmouth College, Frommer was dubbed “Dartmouth’s Mr. Baseball” by their
alumni magazine. He’s also the founder of www.HarveyFrommerSports.com. Mint, signed, discounted Frommer books are
available from the site.
the Sox on the cusp of winning another World Series, with fans all over New
England savoring the time, a look back to 1912 provides a marvelous historical
in Boston virtually shut down on September 23,1912 as 100‚000 cheered the Red Sox returning from a
western trip by train into South
Station. So popular and so successful were the Sox that on the Boston Common,
Mayor “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald gave the team the keys to the city.
1912 team was loaded with talent, especially pitching. In addition to 34 game
winner Joe Wood, Buck O’Brien and Hugh Bedient were 20 game winners.
Boston posted a home record of 57-20, .740 winning
percentage. Winning a record 105 games, losing just 47, the Red Sox
glided to the American League pennant. Their competition in the World Series
was the Giants of New York.
wooden bleachers were in place in center and right-center. Seats on the slope
cost one dollar, the same as for the left field bleachers.
The Boston Royal Rooters, Red Sox fanatics to the core, traditionally
paraded on the field before games in step with the rhythms of a big brass band.
Now, on the eve of Game One of the World Series, having traveled down to New
York City, hundreds of them were accompanied by two brass bands. Led by Mayor
Fitzgerald and by “leading man” "Nuff Ced" McGreevey, they marched
around Times Square in Manhattan, singing to the tune of Tammany:
Speaker, Lewis, Wood, and Stahl,
Bradley, English, Pape, and Hall,
Wagner, Gardner, Hooper, too;’
Hit them! Hit them! Hit them! Hit them!
Do boys, do.
The word in the street was that if John J. McGraw’s
Giants could beat Joe Wood, they could win the series.Before the opening game, Wood received death threats in
letters postmarked New York. One, written in red ink and adorned with a drawing
of a knife and gun, proclaimed: “You will never live to pitch a game against
the Giants in the World Series. We are waiting to get you as soon as you arrive
22-year-old right-hander who threw “smoke” was not the type to be intimidated.
Pitching and prevailing, 4-3, in Game One at the Polo Grounds going the distance,
striking out eleven Giants, Wood stood up to all
challenges. After the game, he said: "I
threw so hard I thought my arm would fly right off my body."
The Royal Rooters followed the team to
the Polo Grounds and back to Fenway Park as the series alternated between both
venues. On October 15th, as the Royal Rooters prepared to take
their seats at Fenway for the seventh game of the World Series, they discovered
their usual accommodations had been sold out from under them, a consequence of
some box office confusion. The Rooters made up their mind that without them,
there would be no game. Ignoring pleas that they leave the ballpark, their
bands blaring “Tessie,” they remained in place until their “stay-in” was
resolved by ranks of mounted police who swept across the field, nudging them
out of the park. One Royal Rooter, as
disoriented as he was disenchanted, tumbled over the right-field fence on his
way out and bellowed "To hell with Queen Victoria!"
“Rooters” fumed and postured outside the park until they were presented with a
compromise: they would be allowed to view the game from along the left field foul line.
Games One and Four, Wood was on the mound for Game Seven. But it was
not his day. Seven of the first nine Giants in the first inning reached base –
six of them scored. The Giants romped, 11-4. The series was knotted at 3 games each, one
Game Eight was for the world championship -- October 16th at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox won the coin flip and were awarded the home field advantage. The
riveting finale of the 1912 World Series would be played before a half-capacity
crowd as a result of it being scheduled at the last minute as a makeup due to
the Game Two tie, as well as the game-fixing rumors that swirled about and the
Royal Rooters' rhubarb.
Ace Christy Mathewson of the
Giants, winless in this Series, after going the distance in the tie game and
dropping Game Five, matched up against Boston’s 22-year-old Hughie
Bedient. The game was 1-1- after nine
tense innings. Mathewson was still out there. Wood took over in the eighth for
New York scored a run in the top of the tenth. Boston pinch-hitter Clyde Engle started the
home 10th by hitting a routine fly ball to center field.
now the ball settles,” The New York Times reported. “It is full
and fair in the pouch of the padded glove of (Fred) Snodgrass. But he is too
eager to toss it to Murray and it dribbles to the ground."
Engle reached second base. Harry Hooper was
robbed of a hit when Snodgrass made a nifty grab of his long drive. But Engle
moved to third base. Yerkes walked. Speaker singled. Engle scored. And the game
was tied. Duffy Lewis was walked
intentionally, loading the bases. Third baseman Larry Gardner belted a deep fly
ball to Josh Devore in right field. Yerkes tagged up and scored.
the Red Sox had their second world championship. Fred Snodgrass'
error would go down in history as "the $30,000 muff," the difference
between the winning and losing shares for the two teams in the series. And brand
new Fenway Park was off to a glorious start.
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 is an expert on the Boston Red Sox having written
three books on the team including the classic REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK from which some of the material for this
article was taken.
A professor for more than two decades in the MALS
program at Dartmouth College, Frommer was dubbed “Dartmouth’s Mr. Baseball” by
their alumni magazine. He’s also the founder of www.HarveyFrommerSports.com. Mint, signed,
discounted Frommer books are available from the site.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
importantly, the eight players were found not guilty in a court of
law. Yet, they were found guilty by a brand new baseball commissioner.
trial, Joe Jackson was asked under oath:
you do anything to throw those games?"
sir," was his response.
game in the series?"
one," was Jackson’s response. "I didn't have an error or make no
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.
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
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
It is an old
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.
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
Faye Vincent said, "I can't uncipher or decipher what took place back
then. I have no intention of taking formal action."
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.
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.
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.
not served when it came to Joseph Jefferson Jackson.
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 is an expert on the New York Yankees and has
arguably written more books, articles and reviews on the New York Yankees than
anyone. A professor for more than two decades in the MALS program at Dartmouth
College, Frommer was dubbed “Dartmouth’s Mr. Baseball” by their alumni
magazine. He’s also the founder of www.HarveyFrommerSports.com.
With apologies to the great poet Robert Frost, the game was
ours before we were the game’s. And the game goes on decade after decade and
now into the 2018 baseball post-season it still continues as part of the fabric
of American culture. Much, however, has changed in the national pastime as a
look back shows.
The Cincinnati Red Stockings began
play in 1876 in the National League. To get to the ball game, fans had to ride
on special trains or in carriages. Crowds of 3,000 were common and considered a
good payday for the team. When the National League came into being, the
White Stockings played their home games in a rickety wooden park on Dearborn
between 23rd and 24th streets on Chicago's West Side. During the 1880s and 1890s
most parks were surrounded by wooden stands and a wooden fence. Some of the
stands were partially protected by a roof, while others were simple wooden
seats of sun bleached boards. That is how the word bleachers came to be. When
those parks were filled to capacity, fans were permitted to stand around the
infield or take up viewing perches in the far reaches of the outfield. John B. Day transferred the Troy
National League franchise to New York in 1883; arrangements were made early on for
games to be played on the polo field of James Gordon Bennett, publisher of the New York Herald. For most of the 1880s,
the team played its games on a field at 110th Street and Fifth Avenue, across
from Central Park's northeast corner. In 1897,a game between Boston and
Baltimore drew more than 25,000 fans, the overflow crowd was permitted to stand
just a few feet behind the infielders, creating a situation where any ball hit
into the throng was ruled an automatic ground-rule double . In 1899, the Giants moved to New
York City plot 2106, lot 100, located between 155th and 157th streets at Eighth
Avenue in upper Manhattan. The location was called "the new Polo
Grounds," a horseshoe-shaped stadium with Coogan's Bluff on one side, the
Harlem River on the other. The Polo Grounds seated 55,897, the most of any
facility in the National League. A four-story, misshapen structure with seats
close to the playing field and overhanging stands, it was an odd ball park that
afforded fans the opportunity to be close to the action. There were 4,600
bleacher seats, 2,730 field boxes, 1,084 upper boxes, 5,138 upper reserved
boxes, and 2,318 general admission seats. The majority of those who came to the
Polo Grounds sat in the remaining lower general admission seats. The visitors' bullpen was just a
bench located in the boondocks of left center field. There was no shade from
the sun for the visitors or protection from Giant fans who pelted opposing
pitchers with pungent projectiles. The upper left field deck hung over
the lower deck; and it was virtually impossible for a fly ball to get into the lower deck because
of the projection of the upper deck. The
overhang triggered many arguments, for if a ball happened to graze the front of
the overhang it was a home run. The double decks in right field were even. The
short distances and the asymmetrical shape of the convoluted ball park resulted
in drives rebounding off the right field and left field walls like billiard
shots. And over the years hitters and fielders on the New York Giants familiar
with the pool table walls of the ball park had a huge advantage over opposing
teams. Fires and progress would make steel
and concrete replace the wood and timber of the nineteenth century ball parks.
The idiosyncratic dimensions of stadiums, the marching bands, even the real
grass in many instances-all of these would ultimately become footnotes to
baseball history. As late as 1900 some clubs even
allowed fans to park their automobiles or carriages in the outfield. The
environment at those games made it difficult for fans to follow the action
clearly. Even though scorecards and programs were sold, no public address
system existed, and there were no names or numbers on the players' uniforms. Players were sometimes pressed into
service to double as ticket takers. And during breaks in the action on the
field, the dull moments were enlivened by the festive performances of brass
bands. The St. Louis National League entry
was known as the Browns and then the Perfectos, an odd name for a club with a
not so perfect track record. The team left the National League twice, then
returned and finished twelfth twice, eleventh three times, tenth once, ninth
once, and once in fifth place in the years 1892-99. To attract customers to
Robinson Field, St. Louis owner Chris Von der Ahe transformed his ball park
into what he called "the Coney Island of the West." He installed
chute-the-chutes (tubs that plunged with their riders into a pool), night
horseracing, a Wild West show. The popular tunes of the day were
played by the Silver Cornet Band-an all-female aggregation bedecked in
long striped skirts and elegant blouses with leg-of-mutton sleeves and broad
white sailor hats. In 1899, Chris Von der Ahe
changed the uniforms around in his zest for more color-the new garments
featured red trim and red-striped stockings. The new uniforms brought new
nicknames for the St. Louis team - Cardinals or Redbirds, they were called, and
so they would remain, one the last vestiges of that long ago time.
The early environment of baseball
games was that of a gentlemen's affair marked by the absence of spectators
except for those invited by the teams. What spectators there were lolled about
on the grass or sat on chairs or benches. The umpire was generally attired in
tails and a tall black top hat, and in those early years he seated himself at a
table along a baseline. Circa 1860, the general public became more and more
involved as spectators, and winning replaced gentlemanly ways as baseball's
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 is an expert on the
New York Yankees and has arguably written more books, articles and reviews on
the New York Yankees than anyone. A professor for more than two decades in the
MALS program at Dartmouth College, Frommer was dubbed “Dartmouth’s Mr.
Baseball” by their alumni magazine. He’s also the founder of www.HarveyFrommerSports.com.