September 2, 2014

Roger Angell, Then and Now

July 31, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

At a party last weekend attended by a number of savvy baseball historians, I managed to wow them with a little artifact I didn’t remember I had until a few weeks ago. Going through one of several cartons of old correspondence, I found the letter reproduced below, sent to me in 1980 by Roger Angell. […]

Vin Scully Is Wrong, and I’m Right

July 14, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Yes, the title of this piece is a sensationalist headline, designed to grab your attention and draw you in to read further. Vin Scully is wrong–about something, perhaps about only one thing–but my point here is not to single him out for criticism. He is far from the only baseball announcer to make an all too […]

Nothing Beats a Sunday Doubleheader

May 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

I’m old enough to have come of baseball age at a time when Sunday doubleheaders were common. In 1961, the first year I paid close attention to the major leagues as my father and I rooted his hometown Cincinnati Reds to the National League pennant, the Reds played 19 doubleheaders, a dozen of them on […]

Two Very Different Pitchers: Two Very Different Books

March 18, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

You would be hard-pressed to find two pitchers more dissimilar than Robin Roberts and R.A. Dickey. Though Dickey is the only one of the pair to win a Cy Young Award, he will never approach the Hall of Fame status of Roberts, who was elected in 1976. Roberts pitched his final major league game at […]

A Simple Proposal For Instant Replay

January 23, 2014 by · 3 Comments 

Like most baseball fans, I’m quite intrigued by the possibilities of expanded instant replay starting this season. I wrote a long blog several years ago about the need for it, and I’m not going to go through all of those arguments again. I’m very happy to see that John Schuerholz, the chairman of the committee […]

Hall of Fame Stands By Neutrality on Steroid Era

January 7, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

On December 26, the esteemed writer Joe Posnanski posted a thought-provoking blog titled “Time for a Hall of Fame Stand,” in which he urged the Hall of Fame to take a firm position either for or against giving steroid users a chance to be elected. I suggest you read it either before or after reading […]

An Exception Well Worth Making

December 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

In case you were wondering what it would take to get me to return to my baseball blog, the answer, it turns out, was simple:  honor Roger Angell, the best baseball writer I’ve ever encountered. This past week, the BBWAA, for the first time, bestowed its highest honor, the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, on […]

What If They Held an Induction and No One Came?

July 30, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

Back in January, when Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson announced that the BBWAA had resisted the temptation to elect the all-time home run champ, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, two guys with more than 3,000 hits, and other significant ballplayers to the Hall of Fame, I sent him an e-mail. It read: “For […]

A Save Was a Save Was a — But No, It Wasn’t

April 29, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

Don’t ask me why, but this morning I was looking at the New York Times obituary of Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Jim Hughes, who died in 2001 at the age of 78. The headline identified Hughes as “Relief Pitcher Who Set Dodger Mark for Saves.” Despite the title of this post, the headline contained not one but two […]

A Life Saved By a Beaning

April 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

During my travels through baseball history, I have joined many other historians in a fascination with so-called “cup of coffee” players who played just a game or two or a few in the major leagues, or sometimes only one inning. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham’s one inning captivated Ray Kinsella enough to make him a major part […]

The Essence of Self-Absorption

April 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

I want to start by apologizing to all the people who have been wondering where my blog went, or at least to the handful of friends who have mentioned it to me. I’m fine, but two things have kept me away from the blog for. . .holy crap, nearly three months! First, although a few […]

Changing the Rules at the Hall of Fame

January 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

In the aftermath of the BBWAA pitching a shutout in the 2013 Hall of Fame election, I have immersed myself in the quasi-social media more than ever before (and, I hope, ever after), drinking in the views and opinions drifting in from various participants, historians, enthusiasts, bloggers, and everybody else who has ever watched a […]

Anomaly, Or Not To Be

January 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

This inquiry began when my good friend Dan Heaton sent me an article from the New York Times about the game-winning patterns of World Series winners. The geekish article told us, for instance, that apart from sweeps, the most common pattern is for the winning team to win Games 1, 3, 4, and 5. That has […]

The Most Impressive Man I’ve Ever Met

December 3, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

In the early 1990′s I started working on a book about the early years of Marvin Miller’s tenure as the director of the Major League Baseball Players Association. My focus was on how Miller convinced a generation of ballplayers that: (A) owners weren’t the benign sportsmen they were believed to be; (B) although players were […]

Baseball Folly Struck Out

November 8, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

They stopped playing baseball games for awhile last night, and I’m not very happy about that even though I was rooting for the team that won. Now we’re plunged The Void and, in this part of the country, facing the latest storm of the century. The wind is picking up outside my window, and my […]

Bringing Back the Good Old Days

August 5, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

On my way into the grocery store this morning, I spotted a fortyish fellow wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates cap. “It’s a good time to be wearing that cap,” I said. He smiled. “I’ve been wearing it proudly all my life. But this year is more like it.” Indeed. The Pirates haven’t had a winning season since […]

Jury Is Out On John Grisham’s Baseball Novel

June 25, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

“At long last,” it says on the back cover of John Grisham’s new novel,Calico Joe, “America’s favorite storyteller takes on America’s favorite pastime.” Calico Joe is a good story, smoothly and movingly told, although after page 19 I was able to predict most of what would happen the rest of the way. A bigger tipoff appears one […]

No-Hitters on the Road

June 4, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Like every Mets fan my age, I’ve only been waiting since 1962 for their first no-hitter. Well, that might not be accurate. In those early years there were few illusions about the potential of any Mets pitcher to pitch a no-hitter. We weren’t like the fans of the expansion Montreal Expos in 1969, who got […]

The Most Despicable Yankees Owner Ever

May 25, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

Last week I contributed to a discussion on Facebook started by someone who wondered why Jacob Ruppert has never been elected to the Hall of Fame. I had to agree that he has strong credentials as a successful and influential owner–certainly he belongs in the Plaque Gallery ahead of Tom Yawkey, whose most relevant contribution […]

A Four Course Feast of Baseball Ignorance

May 14, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

The past couple of weeks have brought an even greater parade of baseball ignorance than usual from the professionals who play and report on the game. I started to write about one of them, but before I could fully digest that affront to my baseball taste, another one jumped out at me, followed by two […]

Get Used to It Mr. Strasburg

April 27, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

On the same afternoon when I watched Mike Pelfrey pitch eight innings of one-run ball only to see the bullpen (aided by a muffed fly ball) blow a 4-1 lead and cost him the victory, I saw that the same thing happened to Stephen Strasburg. That is, he left the game as the potential winning […]

The Day of the (Starting) Pitcher

April 6, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

So we’re one day into the new baseball season, and most of what we’ve seen is great starting pitching. Even though the Mets moved in the outfield fences at Citi Field, the Mets and Braves managed to scratch out one puny run between them. Kyle Lohse didn’t allow a hit to the Marlins until the […]

The Greatest Baseball Fan I Know

March 23, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

I met John Russell during the summer of 2003, my first as a researcher at the Baseball Hall of Fame library. I was stationed at the downstairs desk, the library’s public area where scholars and fans alike congregate to explore and share baseball history. Some visitors make appointments; some make annual pilgrimages (like another great […]

A Pilgrimage To the Past

March 12, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Baseball is all about connections. Players make connections with teammates that extend beyond the playing field and beyond their careers. Management links combinations of people whose connections strengthen the collective effort. As fans, we connect with teams, players, and events, and each of us accumulates a rich fabric of memories, favorites, and unfulfilled wishes. Every […]

The Winter of My Discontent

January 23, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

It has been more than a month since I felt like writing anything about baseball. The musings, daydreams, and historical diversions that usually fill the off-season void have not been sufficient to overcome the ravages of reality enough for me to celebrate anything with words. Oh, I’m having a fine winter on a personal level. […]

Celebrating Mets History Anyway

December 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Last week was a tough one for Mets fans as Jose Reyes has done what most New Yorkers can’t manage until they’re twice his age–he took the money and fled to Florida. The team might be in for the Second Dark Ages the next few years, reminiscent of the forgettable seasons between the departure of […]

“Twilight Zone” At The World Series

October 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

I was going to write about Tony LaRussa’s “Twilight Zone” experience in Game 5 (“I keep calling for Motte. Where’s Motte? When I tell Derek Lilliquist he’s fired, will he think I said ‘your fly is open’?”) and decided to wait until the World Series ended, but after last night’s bizarre Game 6 I’d like […]

Hall of Fame Honors Selig With Locked Door

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

When the press release was distributed by the Hall of Fame on August 18, it seemed like a cool thing–dedicating a library space to the archives of baseball’s nine commissioners. As the release put it, “Cooperstown will also now be forever celebrated as the archival home for the Office of the Commissioner following the Wednesday […]

A Book To Be Savored

September 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

There seems to be no debate in baseball history circles about the identity of the game’s greatest photographer: Charles Conlon. If/when the Hall of Fame stops dithering and institutes an annual award for baseball photography, it will be named after Conlon. With good reason: the New York-based Conlon took thousands of photos from 1905-1942, capturing […]

PNC=Panoramic Nonpareil Cityscape

September 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

After hearing for many years about the splendors of PNC Park in Pittsburgh, I finally got there last weekend. My friend and former Hall of Fame colleague Russell Wolinsky wanted to make the pilgrimage, which was enough to persuade me to join him there on one of the three days I visited the ballpark I’d […]

Once More–With Feeling

August 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

One year ago today I posted the third part of a series on the myth of the “writers and broadcasters wing” at the Hall of Fame (titled “A Wing and a Player”). The confusion over whether such “wings” exist has existed since the J. G. Taylor Spink Award for baseball writing was created in 1962. […]

Gambling at the Hall of Fame: Part Three

July 29, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

In the last of this three-part series on gambling at the Hall of Fame (please read the first two parts if you haven’t already), it’s time to talk about gambling that goes on AT the museum every day of the year. I’m referring to fantasy sports, and if your reflex response is “gee, that’s no […]

Gambling at the Hall of Fame: Part Two

July 18, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Are you ready for the bizarre story I promised you last time, about gambling AT the Hall of Fame? If you haven’t read “Part One” please do so before reading this one. In it, I told about the Hall of Fame refusing to hire me in the mid-1990s because of my background as a Las […]

Gambling at the Hall of Fame: Part One

July 11, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

I want to tell you an amazing story about gambling at the Hall of Fame, but to appreciate the irony of the story fully, you need the background to put it in context. For that, I have to take you back twenty years to my first tenure in Cooperstown. I arrived here in April 1991, […]

My Proudest Moment at the Hall of Fame

June 26, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

Maybe it’s fitting that my proudest moment at the Hall of Fame did not occur at the museum or even in my office in the library, but outdoors at the Clark Sports Center. Though I enjoyed every day I spent at the library (except for the last one), we’re coming up on the fifth anniversary […]

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