Category Archives: Baseball

Red Barber 2.17.13 Thought of the Day

“Baseball is dull only to dull minds.”–Red Barber

Red Barber, sportscaster

Red Barber, sportscaster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Walter Lanier “Red Barber was born on this day in Columbus, Mississippi , USA in 1908. today is the 105th anniversary of his birth.

When he was ten his family moved from Mississippi to Sanford, Florida. At 21 he entered the University of Florida where he made ends meet by working part-time as a janitor. His broadcasting career started by accident. Barber was cleaning at the college’s radio station when the featured guest, an agriculture professor, failed to show. The station’s manager grabbed Red and had him fill the air time by reading the professor’s paper on “Certain Aspects of Bovine Obstetrics.” He was hooked — on broadcasting, not animal husbandry, and he changed his major. He became the Voice of Florida Football the next fall.

In 1934 Barber broadcast the first Major League Baseball game he ever saw, calling play-by-plays for the Cinicatti Reds against the Cubs. (The Cubs won in a 6-0 shut out.) Gor 33 years from the mid 30s to the 1960s Barber worked as a play-by-play announcer for the Reds, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees. He sprinkled his broadcasts with colloquialisms called BARBARisms  like “sitting in the cat bird seat” “OH Doctor” “tearin’ up the Pea Patch” “Walkin in tall cotton” and “Tighter than a new pair of shoes on a rainy day.”

He learned about Branch Rickey’s decision to integrate the Dodgers before the manager offered Jackie Robinson a contract and became one of Robinson’s biggest supporters.

In 1954 he switched to the Yankees and called games for the Bronx Bombers for another decade before retiring as a Major League Baseball announcer. But in 1981 he came out of retirement to hold a weekly “conversation” with NPR’s Bob Edwards on Morning Edition. They talked about Sports, Florida, Barber’s cats and the state of camellias in his garden.

Barber died in 1992 in Tallahassee.


Babe Ruth 2.6.13 Thought of the Day

“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” — Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth (Photo credit: carloscappaticci)

George Herman Ruth was born on this day in Baltimore, Maryland, USA in 1895. Today is the 118th anniversary of his birth.

He was one of eight children born to George and Kate Ruth. Only he and his sister Mamie survived.  His parents ran a saloon  at 426 West Camden Street, a job that took much of their time. So George, Jr and Mamie were left to their own devices. As an adult Ruth reflected that he ran the streets as a kid, skipped school, chewed tobacco and drank beer while his father wasn’t looking. He was “incorrigible,” and that’s what his parents recorded on his entry documentation to St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys when he was sent he was just 7 years old.

St. Mary’s was part reformatory, part orphanage, part school and part work house. It was run by the Xavier Brothers and it served boys from ages 5 to 21. Ruth learned to make shirts as well as carpentry skills at the school. He lived there for 12 years. His parents seldom had the time to visit the school.

Ruth (top row, far left) at St Mary's Industri...
Ruth (top row, far left) at St Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, Baltimore, Maryland, c. 1912 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fortunately for Ruth, the prefect of discipline at St. Mary’s, Brother Matthias Boutlier, took him under his wing.

Ruth particularly looked up to a monk named Brother Mathias, who became a father figure to the young boy… Matthias, along with several other monks of the order, introduced Ruth to baseball, a game at which the boy excelled. [Biography.com]

Brother Matthias worked with Ruth to hone his hitting, pitching and fielding abilities. Ruth showed such promise that …

the Brothers invited Jack Dunn, owner of the Baltimore Orioles, to come watch (him)  play. Dunn was obviously impressed, as he offered a contract to (Ruth) in February 1914 after watching him for less than an hour…. Upon seeing (Ruth) for the first time, the Orioles players referred to him as “Jack’s newest babe”…[baberuth.com]

The nickname stuck and he was known as Babe Ruth from then on.

Babe Ruth pitching with Boston Red Sox, Comins...
Babe Ruth pitching with Boston Red Sox, Cominsky Park, 1914 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He started as a pitcher. First for Baltimore and then for the Boston Red Sox. By 1915 he was a “permanent fixture in the Red Sox rotation, …accumulating an 18-8 record with an ERA of 2.44.” [Ibid] Both his pitching and hitting game improved over the next few years and “In 1918, Babe Ruth pitched his 29th scoreless inning in a World Series. That record stood for 43 years!” [about.com]

English: American baseball player Babe Ruth in...
English: American baseball player Babe Ruth in 1921 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The following year he shifted his focus to his hitting game and earned a new record. This time for a whopping 29 home runs in a single season. Ruth was traded to the Yankees in 1920 and topped his home run tally (coming in at 54 for the year.) In 1921 he broke the record again with 59 home runs.  In 1927 Ruth, as part of the Yankees famous “Murderer’s Row” hit an amazing 60 home runs for the season — a record that stood for 34 years.

 

Over the course of his career, Ruth went on to break baseball’s most important slugging records, including:

  • most years leading a league in home runs (12);
  • most total bases in a season (457)
  • and highest slugging percentage for a season (.847).

In all he hit 714 home runs, a mark that stood until 1974, when Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves surpassed him. [Biography.com]

 

Baseball player Babe Ruth
Baseball player Babe Ruth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ruth helped the Yankees win seven pennants and four World Series. He wore pinstripes until 1934. He was ready to retire from the active roster and wanted to manage, but his off-field hijinks — he was almost as famous for his love of alcohol, women and food as he was for his ability to swing a bat — made owners think twice about placing him in a supervisory position. He was traded to the Boston Braves for his final season where he hoped to have both playing and assistant-management duties, but he soon realized the “management” part of his job was mostly P.R., public appearances and giving autographs.

Ruth with the Boston Braves in 1935, his last ...
Ruth with the Boston Braves in 1935, his last year as a player (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

On May 25, 1935, an overweight and greatly diminished Babe Ruth reminded fans of his greatness one last time when hit three home runs in a single game at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The following week, Ruth officially retired. [Biography.com]

The Sultan of Swat, The Bambino, Number “3” (Babe’s number in the Yankee batting line up and eventually the number on the back of his pinstripes) was inaugurated into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.

Babe Ruth
Babe Ruth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A decade later doctors discovered a tumor on his neck. Ruth had cancer. He died on August 16, 1948.

Babe still remains the greatest figure in major league baseball, and one of the true icons in American history. The Babe helped save baseball from the ugly Black Sox scandal, and gave hope to millions during The Great Depression. …He continues to be the benchmark by which all other players are measured. Despite last playing nearly 75 years ago, Babe is still widely considered the greatest player in Major League Baseball history. [baberuth.com]

 

Gehrig_&_Ruth[1]
#4 Gehrig and #3 Ruth were the heart of Murderer’s Row and the Yankees.

—————————————————————————–

Sigh, it kills this Baltimore Orioles girl to write “Y – A – N – K – E – E -S”  so often in a post. Please know I could only do it for the Babe (and for Lou Gehrig when it is his turn). When is Brooks Robinson’s birthday?


RIP Earl Weaver

RIP Earl Weaver. The Earl of Baltimore passed away yesterday while on an Oriole themed cruise.

“On my tombstone just write, ‘The sorest loser that ever lived,’ ” he once said. [The Baltimore Sun]

Here’s the ritaLOVEStoWRITE bioBLOG that I posted on his 82nd Birthday on Aug 14, 2012.

—————————————————————————————-

“I became an optimist when I discovered that I wasn’t going to win any more games by being anything else.”

Earl Weaver

Earl Sidney Weaver was born on this day in St. Louis, Missouri in 1930. He is 82 years old.

Weaver managed the Baltimore Orioles from 1968-1982 and again from 1985-1986.  He became a Hall of Famer a decade later.

He played second base for 13 years in the minor leagues, then he managed for another dozen years in the minors before making it to the Show as a first-base coach for the Orioles in 1968. He took over as Manager in July of that season.

He wore #4 on his Oriole’s jersey and had a .583 winning record while managing the club. The team won 6 American League East titles, had 5 100+ win seasons, won 4 A.L. pennants, and won the 1970 World Series under his leadership.

Weaver didn’t want to bunt or sacrifice to advance a runner, according Hall of Fame player Frank Robinson, “He didn’t even have a hit and run sign…” Earl was all about the three run home run.

He pioneered the use of radar guns to track fast balls in 1975’s Spring Training season (according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.)

He was famous for his heated arguments with umpires that often ended with the manager kicking Memorial Stadium’s infield dirt at the official. Weaver was tossed from 91 regular season games.

Locals also remember the “Tomato Wars” he had with groundskeeper Pat Santarone. Santarone had a patch of plants in the left field foul area, Weaver grew his maters at home. The two argued (good naturedly) for 17 years over who had the best tomatoes in Baltimore.

After he left the O’s he worked as broadcaster for ABC television providing color commentary during the 1983-84 baseball seasons. He also did Manager’s Corner with Tom Marr while he was with the O’s (some times to very colorful effect.)

He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.  A bronze statue of the manager was erected at Camden Yards (the “new” home of the Orioles) in June of this year.  At seven feet the statue towers over the real life Weaver, who is only 5’7″.  Weaver quipped “I guess there will be a lot of kids looking up at me…saying, ‘who is this?'”


Samuel Mudd 12.20.12 Thought of the Day

English: Samuel Mudd

English: Samuel Mudd (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Samuel Alexander Mudd was born on this day in Charles County, Maryland, USA in 1833. Today is the 179th anniversary of his birth.

 

Mudd grew up on a tobacco plantation about 30 miles southeast of Washington DC. He was the fourth of ten children . He was home schooled until age 15 when he went to St. John’s boarding school in Frederick, MD. He went to college at Georgetown in Washington, and graduated from  the University of Maryland, Baltimore having studied medicine with an emphasis on dysentery. In 1856 he returned to Charles County and began a family with his long time sweetheart Sarah “Frankie” Dyer. Mudd’s father gave the couple a 218 acre tobacco farm called St. Catherine’s. He supplemented his income as a doctor with the sale of tobacco from the farm. (He grew the tobacco with the help of five slaves.)

 

Dr. Mudd's House

Dr. Mudd’s House (Photo credit: jimmywayne)

When the Civil War began Maryland was a border state. If Washington, with its large number of Union soldiers had not be located in its southern border along the Potomac River the state may have voted to succeed from the Union. When Maryland abolished slavery in 1864 ( a year after the Emancipation Proclamation) Mudd could no longer effectively run his farm. He began looking for a buyer and was introduced to a young, dashing, actor in the market for some property. That actor’s name was John Wilkes Booth.

 

Booth and Mudd met in November  at St. Mary’s Catholic Church  to discuss the purchase. Booth stayed overnight at the farm before returning to Washington. Unbeknownst to Mudd, Booth wasn’t interested in real estate at all, but was scouting out an escape path from the Nation’s Capital. The actor was planning on kidnapping President Lincoln to bring him to Richmond (the capital of the Confederacy). He would ransom Lincoln for a large number of Confederate POWS.

 

Portrait of John Wilkes Booth (1838–1865)

Portrait of John Wilkes Booth (1838–1865) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mudd and Booth met again shortly before Christmas 1964, this time in Washington. They met John Surratt and Louis Weichmann for drinks.

 

Before Booth could pull off his ill-advised and grandiose plan Lee surrendered at Appomatox, Virginia and the War was over. Booth was furious. He altered his plan and decided to kill the president instead of kidnapping him. Booth shot Lincoln in the head five days after Lee surrendered. The President and Ms. Lincoln were watching a play, Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC. After shooting Lincoln at point-blank range he jumped down from the Presidential Box to the stage to escape. He broke his leg in the fall but managed to get out the stage door and onto his horse and escape the city.

 

English: Interior of Ford's Theatre, Washingto...

English: Interior of Ford’s Theatre, Washington, D.C., where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. The presidential box is towards the right. The theatre is still in operation and the stage is set up for a current stage play (i.e., it is not set up as it was when Lincoln was shot). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About four o’clock on the morning following the Lincoln assassination two men on horseback arrived at the Mudd farm near Bryantown.  The men, it turned out, were John Wilkes Booth–in severe pain with a badly fractured leg that he received from his fall to the stage after shooting the President–and David Herold.  Mudd welcomed the men into his house, first placing Booth on his sofa, then later carrying him upstairs to a bed where he dressed the limb. 

After daybreak, Mudd made arrangements with a nearby carpenter to construct a pair of crutches for Booth and tried, unsuccessfully, to secure a carriage for his two visitors.  Booth (after having shaved off his moustache in Mudd’s home) and Herold left later on the fifteenth, after Mudd pointed the route to their next destination, Parson Wilmer’s. [UMKC.edu]

Military investigators followed Booth’s trail to the Mudd farm and Dr. Mudd admitted to having seen a patient, but claimed…”‘I never saw either of the parties before, nor can I conceive who sent them to my house.” [Historynet.com]  When Lt. Lovett, the lead investigator on the Mudd end of the trail returned again to the farm Sarah “brought down from upstairs a boot that had been cut off the visitor’s leg three days earlier.” [Ibid.] Booth’s initials were in the boot’s cuff, but Mudd still denied knowing who it was.

 

Booth's boot, found at the Mudd's farm .[Image courtesy]

Booth’s boot, found at the Mudd’s farm . [Image courtesy UMKC.edu]

During the trail Mudd’s lie about not recognizing Booth, compounded by his not coming forward  about “suspicions … aroused by a broken-legged visitor who, during his brief stay the Mudd farm, shaved off his moustache” [Ibid] stained his character far more deeply than the circumstantial evidence of witnesses who claimed he knew of the conspiracy.

 

Defense Attorney Thomas Ewing argued to the Commission that it is no crime to fix  a broken leg, even if it were the leg of a presidential assassin and even if the doctor knew it was the leg of a presidential assassin. [Ibid}

Mudd was convicted by a Military Commission and sentenced to life in prison.

 

English: Broadside advertising reward for capt...

English: Broadside advertising reward for capture of Lincoln assassination conspirators, illustrated with photographic prints of John H. Surratt, John Wilkes Booth, and David E. Herold. Français : Avis de recherche avec prime de 100.000 $ pour la capture de John Wilkes Booth, le meurtrier du président Abraham Lincoln, et deux de ses complices, David Edgar Herold et John Harrison Surratt. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He, and the other conspirators who escaped the noose were sent to Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas 70 miles west of Key West,  Florida. He tried to escape once, but was quickly discovered. He and other prisoners were transferred to “the dungeon” a ground-level gunroom. They were let out six days a week to work, but were forced to stay inside the dungeon on Sundays and holidays. He wore leg irons while outside the cell.

 

Dr. Mudd as he appeared when working in the ca...

Dr. Mudd as he appeared when working in the carpenter’s shop in the prison at Fort Jefferson. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

.

 

In 1867, an outbreak of yellow fever overtook the Dry Tortugas, claiming the lives of fellow conspirator and inmate Michael O’Lauglin, as well as the prison doctor.  Mudd assumed the role as the new prison doctor. [Ibid]

Mudd was pardoned in March of 1869 by President Andrew Johnson. The Doctor returned to his Maryland farm and his wife (they had 4 more children.) He had always been interested in politics and in 1877 he ran (unsuccessfully) for the Maryland House Delegates. In 1880 his farm was destroyed by a fire. and by 1883, at just 49 years old, Mudd was dead of pneumonia.

 

———————————————————————–

 

Lincoln’s death brought on a media circus the likes of which we are only all too familiar with in 2012. But then, when the nation need to be healed from its bloody civil war a swift and definitive trial was essential. Yellow journalism was in full swing. Certainly some of the men (and possible the one woman) on trial were guilty … but what do you think? Did was Dr. Mudd innocent or guilty?

 

English: John Wilkes Booth's escape route Türk...


Thought of the Day 11.19.12 Roy Campanella

“You have to have a lot of little boy in you to play baseball for a living.”
Roy Campanella

English: Brooklyn Dodgers catcher and Hall of ...

English: Brooklyn Dodgers catcher and Hall of Famer . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Roy Campanella was born on this day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA in 1921. Today is the 91st anniversary of his birth.

Campanella’s father, John, was an Italian American, his mother, Ida was African-American. The family lived in a rough section of Philly known, ironically as Nicetown. Roy was one of five children. As a kid he did odd jobs like delivering newspapers, shining shoes and cutting grass, to help out with family finances.  He was athletic and loved to play baseball, but he knew that the color barrier meant that would be barred from playing in the Major Leagues. He  “started out on Philadelphia’s sand lots and by the age 15 was signed on to the Negro leagues.” [Biography.com] By 11th grade he dropped out so he could play ball full-time.

For the next decade, Campanella excelled in the segregated world of black baseball, barnstorming on buses across the country and playing winter ball in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Latin America. He was such a natural leader and had such an astute baseball mind that he often managed clubs he played for in Latin America. [Gale Encyclopedia of Biography: Roy Campanella]
By 1946 The Dodger’s president Branch Rickey was sewing the seeds for Jackie Robinson and Campanella to break the color barrier. Robinson was sent to the Triple A team in Montreal and Campanella went to Nashua, New Hampshire to play Class B ball. Campanella had been making $500 in the Negro Leagues, but took a pay cut to $150 a month at the new club. He “…was better than a Class B player, …but he knew why he was there. He was part of Rickey’s plan to begin integrating baseball.” [Ibid] He was voted the Eastern League’s MVP.
1972 Los Angeles Dodgers season

1972 Los Angeles Dodgers season (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Campanella followed Robinson into the Majors, making his debut on April 20, 1948. Both men played for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The man they called “Campy” was the complete package, leading National League catchers in putouts six times, and clubbing 242 home runs in his 10-year Major League career. From 1948-1957, Roy Campanella was securely anchored behind home plate for the Brooklyn Dodgers. [The Official Roy Campanella Site.]

He played in eight straight All-Star games, starting in 1949  (he, Robinson, Larry Doby and Don Newcombe were the first African-American men to play in the All-Star game.)

He caught in five World Series, won the National League Most Valuable Player award in 1951, 1953, and 1955, and was the first black catcher in Major League Baseball history. In 1969, he joined baseball’s elite with his induction into the Hall of Fame. [The Official Roy Campanella Site.]

List of Pennsylvania state historical markers ...

List of Pennsylvania state historical markers in Philadelphia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, California after the 1957 Baseball season and Campy was set to go with them, but that was not to be. While driving to his Long Island home late on January 28, 1958 his car hit a patch of ice and skidded into a telephone pole. Campanella was badly injured and left paralyzed from the shoulders down. He eventually regained the use of his arms and hands, but he would never walk again.

Although he couldn’t play he maintained ties with the Dodgers.

The Dodgers hired him as a special instructor, and for 20 years he helped groom many young catchers during spring training. He also worked with disabled people through the Dodgers’ community-service division. He was expert at cheering up people. Campanella once said: “People look at me and get the feeling that if a guy in a wheelchair can have such a good time, they can’t be too bad off after all.” Scully observed: “He looked upon life as a catcher. He was forever cheering up, pepping up, counseling people.” [Gale Encyclopedia of Biography: Roy Campanella]
Campanella wrote his autobiography, It’s Good to Be Alive, in 1969. He was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.
Roy Campanella died at the age of 71 in Woodland Hills, California.
Catcher Roy Campanella

Catcher Roy Campanella (Photo credit: NedraI)


%d bloggers like this: