Sunday, May 26, 2019
BASE BALL LINGO: WHAT THE EXPRESSIONS MEAN,
HOW THEY GOT THAT WAY (Part II)
Reactions to Part I were so effusive, that Part II is here for your enjoyment. Reactions always welcomed.
THE WALKING MAN Eddie Yost played nearly two decades in the major leagues. His lifetime batting average was only .254, but that didn't keep him off the bases. Yost coaxed pitchers into yielding I,614 walks to him—almost a walk a game through his long career.
WEE WILLIE He was born March 3, 1872, in Brooklyn, New York. He died on January 1, 1923, in Brooklyn, New York. William Henry Keeler 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.
A lefty all the way, he weighed only 140 pounds and was a shade over 5'4". His tiny physical stature earned him his nickname, but pound for pound he was one of the greatest hitters baseball ever produced. Keeler played for 19 years and recorded a lifetime batting average of .345, fifth on the all-time list. He collected 2,962 hits in 2,124 games, spraying the ball to all fields. Wee Willie's greatest year was 1897, a season in which he batted .432, recorded 243 hits and 64 stolen bases, and scored 145 runs. He swung a bat that weighed only 30 ounces, but as he said, he "hit 'em where they aint’.
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."
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 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'."
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.
THE WHIP A 6'6" right-hander, Ewell Blackwell had a sidearm motion and a crackling fastball that terrorized National League batters in the 1940's and 1950's. The former Cincinnati star's right arm seemed to "whip" the ball in at the batter, and that's how his nickname came to be. Winner of sixteen straight games in 1947, he struck out almost a batter an inning during his ten year career.
WHIZ KIDS There is no clear explanation as to how the 1950 Philadelphia Phillies baseball team earned its nickname. Some ascribe the name's derivation to the club's youth and newness: only one regular on that team that won the National League pennant was over 30 years of age. Some claim the nickname was a spinoff from the phrase "gee whiz," since the Phillies of that year seemingly came from nowhere to challenge and defeat the great Brooklyn Dodgers for the pennant. It was a team that because of its youth, its underdog role, and its past history of failure, attracted national attention and fused its personality to its nickname.
WILD HORSE OF THE OSAGE Johnny Leonard Roosevelt Martin, better known as Pepper Martin, starred for 13 seasons with the National League's St. Louis Cardinals. He could hit, he could run, he could field, he could throw, he could win—and he did all of these things with wild abandon, with an elan and a verve that earned him his nickname. If he couldn't stop a hard smash down to his third-base position with his glove, he would stop the ball with his chest. If he could not get into a base feet-first, he would leap into the air and belly-flop his way there. Martin took the extra base, risked the daring chance, played with fire and fury. Three times in the mid-1930's he led the league in stolen bases, and throughout that decade he functioned as the horse that led the Cardinal "Gashouse Gang" (see GASHOUSE GANG).
WIZARD OF OZ An abbreviation of his first name and tip of the cap to Ozzie Smith for his peerless fielding skills. No other shortstop could get to the ball as fast as, and utilize the fielders around him like Ozzie.
WORLD SERIES In 1903 the Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League won their third consecutive pennant. Owner Barney Dreyfuss was instrumental in arranging for a set of postseason games with the American League champion Boston Somersets (later Red Sox). The teams played a nine-game series, with Boston winning five of the games (one of their pitchers was Cy Young) and the World Championship. There was a one-year interruption in the competition, because the 1904 National League pennant-winner was the New York Giants, whose owner, John T. Bush, refused to allow his team to oppose an American League entry. Part of the reason behind Bush's refusal was the existence of a rival American League team in New York City. By 1905 Bush had changed his mind and even helped shape the new format for the World Series—a best-of-seven competition—and behind Christy Mathewson, who pitched three shutouts, the Giants defeated the Philadelphia Athletics in five games. Dubbed the Fall Classic, the World Series year in and year out has become an integral, appealing part of the American sports scene.
YA GOTTA BELIEVE In 1973 the New York Mets bolted from last place on August 30 to win the National League Eastern Division title on the final day of the season. Pitcher Tug McGraw had coined a slogan, "Ya gotta believe," which acted as the team's battle cry and motivation. Lacking a .300 hitter, a 20-game winner, a 100-RBI man, the "believing" Mets swept by Cincinnati in the play-offs and battled Oakland to the seventh game of the World Series before finally losing (see AMAZIN' METS).
YANKEE CLIPPER Joseph Paul DiMaggio was one of nine children of a fisherman father who had emigrated from Sicily. It was all planned for Joe to become a fisherman like his father, but Joe could not abide the smell of fish.
In 1934, he was playing baseball about as well as it could be played when his contract with the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League was purchased by the Yankees. The deal contained the clause that the graceful outfielder be allowed to play one more season for the seals. His 1935 season gave the people of San Francisco something to remember - he batted .398, recorded 270 hits, and drove in 154 runs.
Permission was granted for DiMag in 1936 to drive cross-country with fellow San Franciscans Tony Lazzeri and Frank Crosetti to the Yankee spring training camp in St. Petersburg, Florida. Lazzeri turned to DiMaggio after the trio had concluded one day of driving and said, "You take over, Joe."
"I don't drive," DiMaggio answered
It was reported that these were the only words he uttered during the entire three-day automobile trek.
In DiMaggio's time, 13 seasons, the Yankees won 10 pennants. In 1951, the man they called the Yankee Clipper, retired at age 36. Management attempted to get him to perform in pinstripes for one more season. But he had too much pride, and too much pain. He knew it was over.
Like the famed Yankee clipper ships that sailed the oceans riding the winds and the tides, DiMaggio moved across the reaches of the center-field pastureland of Yankee Stadium flawlessly playing his kind of game—steady, stoical, dependable. His nickname accentuated his role and style.
Monday, May 13, 2019
BASEBALL LINGO: WHAT THE EXPRESSIONS MEAN AND HOW
THEY GOT THAT WAY (Part I)
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.
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
Sunday, May 5, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Tim Reid: Member of Babe Ruth’s Historic Home Runs Research Team
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
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: email@example.com and/
or (754) 368-1295.