Sunday, October 28, 2018

What happened to Bucky Dent's bat after his 1978 home run against the Red Sox?

What happened to Bucky Dent's bat after his 1978 home run against the Red Sox?

By Steven  @newsdaymarcus
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?’’
Steven Marcus started at Newsday in 1972 and has covered high school, college and professional sports. He is a voting member of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Remembering Wee Willie Keeler

Remembering Wee Willie Keeler by Harvey Frommer

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 1941.
In 1897, Keeler batted an incredible .432. A reporter asked the diminutive batter, "Mr. Keeler, how can a man your size hit .432?"
The reply to that question has become a rallying cry for all kinds of baseball players in all kinds of leagues:
 "Simple," 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 against fate."
             In 1898, 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 percentage.
     That 1898 season Keeler came to bat 564 times in 128 games and walked only 28 times and did not strike out.
A slugger he was not. But, oh what a hitter!

     William Henry 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 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 Mint, signed, discounted Frommer books are available from the site.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Red Sox Flashback: The First World Championship

Red Sox Flashback: The First World Championship

With 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 treat.
Business 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. 
That 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.
Additional 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:

        Carrigan, Carrigan,
        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 in town.” 
        But the 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!"

The “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. 

  Winner of 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 tie.   

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 Bedient.

      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.
 "And 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.
And 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.




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 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 Mint, signed, discounted Frommer books are available from the site.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball

   Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball

           Harvey Frommer

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. 
Justice was 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

Sunday, October 7, 2018

How Far the Game Has Come - Frommer

How Far the Game Has Come

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 operative factor.

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