April 24, 2017

Say it Wasn’t So: When Shoeless Joe Jackson Became Baseball’s Number One Draft-dodger

February 10, 2017 by · 1 Comment 

Here’s one you may not have heard: how Shoeless Joe Jackson was briefly turned into America’s most-scorned draft-dodger in World War 1. It’s true, but as with all Shoeless Joe stories, some work is required to separate fact from myth. It also helps to read published reports from his contemporaries, to view everything in the […]

The Turbulent Life and High Times of Hank Thompson, Major League Baseball’s Third Black Player

August 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

We real cool. We Left school. We Lurk late. We Strike straight. We Sing sin. We Thin gin. We Jazz June. We Die soon. Few players in baseball history ever embodied Gwendolyn Brooks’ classic poem–every single line– the way Hank “Machine Gun” Thompson did. Thompson was a talented ballplayer and a pioneer, the third black […]

Milt Pappas: It Wasn’t His Fault

August 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Milt Pappas: It Wasn’t His Fault Before we discuss anything else about Milt Pappas, know this: it wasn’t his fault. He couldn’t help that the man for whom he was traded went on to hit 49 home runs, win the Triple Crown and MVP and lead his team to the World Championship–the very year of […]

Forty Years Ago The Bird Had His Coming Out Party on a Monday Night

June 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Forty years. Does it seem that long? Not to those who witnessed it. They can remember the emotion–and fun–just like it was yesterday. June 28, 1976 Mark Fidrych, aka The Bird, had the biggest coming out party in the history of Monday Night Baseball. Fidrych was a local phenom in Detroit, but the rest of […]

Reviewing the Pete Rose Literature

May 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Pete Rose frequently said that he wrote more books than he read and that is probably true. He has had more major release books published than any baseball player of his era. With Cincinnati fans looking forward to the return of their prodigal son–for induction into the team’s Hall of Fame–this summer, I thought this […]

A Conversation With Former Negro League All-Star Ernie Johnson

April 2, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

  I had the opportunity and good fortune to interview former Negro League All-Star Ernie Johnson a few years ago. Ernie was one of those guys who was perhaps just a few years ahead of his time. Johnson signed with the Monarchs in 1949 as a 20-year-old pitcher. His salary was $200 a month with […]

The Last Ride of Baseball’s Dalton Gang

March 11, 2016 by · 2 Comments 

According to history books, the outlaw Dalton Gang terrorized the old west for several years in the 1890s. Baseball had its own version of the Dalton Gang in the 1950s and early 1960s and–at least according to the oral legend passed down in dugouts, clubhouses and team buses–they were only slightly less terrorizing in their […]

All-Time Best Lines From Baseball Movies

March 1, 2016 by · 3 Comments 

Although the weather has started to warm up some places and baseball teams have gathered in camps across Florida and Arizona, we are still awaiting the start of baseball games for 2016. While we wait, baseball movies provide a reasonable alternative. With that in mind, I decided to offer my list of best lines from […]

Joe, You Shoulda Made Us Proud: The Disappointing Baseball Career of Joe Shlabotnik

December 7, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

In the annals of baseball history, one name stands tall and resolute when it comes to futility: Joe Shlabotnik. But surprisingly the Joe Shlabotnik story is not one of failure, but of hope, loyalty and endless optimism as seen through the rosy lens of childhood. Shlabotnik’s career was saved from the eternal scorn it so […]

Revisiting the Four Greatest Living: Are They Really the Greatest?

November 11, 2015 by · 8 Comments 

I’ll admit that I’m a sappy sentimentalist when it comes to seeing baseball’s old timers. Who could forget Ted Williams’ appearance at the 1999 All Star Game? And so I was looking forward to Major League Baseball’s presentation at this year’s All-Star Game of the Four Greatest Living Baseball players. Initially  I thought, “Great, we […]

Gee, Thanks Brooks: Robinson Gives Away Fortune in Memorabilia to Charity

November 4, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

In 1971 Brooks Robinson, fresh off the greatest individual World Series domination in baseball history, visited the Massachusetts studio of Norman Rockwell. It was a classic pairing: the man who chronicled mid-twentieth century Americana on canvas and the man who embodied mid-twentieth century Americana on turf. The setting was commissioned by the ATO corporation, a […]

Pre-Integration Era Committee Releases 2016 Candidates For Baseball Hall of Fame: Sorry, There’s No Room in the Inn

October 9, 2015 by · 7 Comments 

First, let me state categorically that I love the Baseball Hall of Fame; love the history, love the tree-lined streets of Cooperstown in the summer, love the beauty of Lake Otsego, love everything about the place. Most of all, I love the reverence of the hall of plaques, appropriately presided over by life-size statues of […]

Unforgettable Ryne Duren

September 20, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Ryne Duren was one of my all-time favorite baseball characters. His reputation was legendary and has been the basis for several fictional movie baseball players. When first discovered in the tiny Wisconsin town of Cazenovia, he possessed the type of fastball that made scouts drool. It was later a generally held consensus among baseball men […]

Say What You Will About Shoeless Joe, But These Things Ain’t So

September 4, 2015 by · 2 Comments 

News arrived this week that Major League Baseball has once again turned down an appeal to reinstate Shoeless Joe Jackson. This continues a tradition going back to 1951 when Happy Chandler failed to respond to a resolution by the South Carolina Legislature. Apparently it is the policy of baseball commissioners to never reverse mandates made […]

Chemistry 101: Why an Extremely Talented Twins Team Failed to Win the 1967 Pennant

August 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Team chemistry is one of those nebulous terms often tossed about by sportswriters. Like industrial chemistry, when it’s good, often no one notices, but when it’s bad, it leads to a huge pile of foul-smelling toxic waste. Regarding this topic, I decided to discuss one of the mysteries of my youth: why didn’t the powerful […]

Armbrister-Fisk and a Tale of Two Collisions

August 22, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

On October 14, 1975 two collisions occurred that held interest for the people of New England. One would be of such gravity and magnitude that it would continue to be discussed with great emotion 40 years later and the three participants would forever be linked. The other one involved the leader of the free world. […]

Denny McLain and the Raccoon That Changed Baseball History*

August 18, 2015 by · 3 Comments 

*Or did it? One of the more curious, and disturbing, episodes in baseball history came at the end of the 1967 season, during one of the closest pennant races ever. And it occurred in the time without any divisions or playoffs–there were no extra chances for finishing in second place and no postseason-participation trophies. At the […]