July 13, 2024

Baseball’s First Phenom

July 6, 2024 by · Leave a Comment 

Nary a season goes by without the chattering classes of our national pastime heralding the arrival of one or more phenoms. The phrase “can’t miss” is bandied about with the self-assurance of racetrack touts. If you’re keeping score at home, however, you have probably noted how many can’t-miss players fail to live up to their […]

Mr. Rickey’s Plantation

May 9, 2024 by · 1 Comment 

Volumes have been written about Jackie Robinson, his career, and the social ramifications of his appearance on a major league baseball field on April 15, 1947. A question worth asking is why this point in time was so propitious for breaking baseball’s color line. As always, following the money is instructive, so let’s look at […]

The Vanishing Pinch-Hitter

March 30, 2024 by · Leave a Comment 

Let’s start this essay with a FUN FACT: the Spanish term for pinch-hitter is bateador emergente, or emergency batter. Now there’s a phrase I’d like to see catch on in anglophone play-by-play accounts. It enhances the drama of the situation. I don’t think there are fewer emergencies in contemporary baseball than in ye olden times, […]

Uni-Cycling, Bi-Cycling, Tri-Cycling…And Beyond?

March 9, 2024 by · Leave a Comment 

At some point during the 2024 season, you might hear your hometown play-by-play announcer say, “He’s only a (single/double/triple/homer) away from the cycle.”  More than likely, it will be a triple, since that it is the least likely result of any plate appearance that results in a hit. If said hitter does complete the cycle, […]

Magical History Tour: Of Beatles And Ballparks

February 3, 2024 by · Leave a Comment 

A common Seamhead quest is to see a ballgame at every major league ballpark. Some attempt to do it in one season; others (myself included) take their time. And some aficionados sign up for those bus tours that promise eight ballparks in eight days; in other words, if it’s Tuesday, this must be Detroit. That’s […]

The 400 K Club

December 31, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

At the end of the 1965 season, Sandy Koufax, though just one year away from retirement, was riding high.  He led the National League in wins (26), ERA (2.04), and complete games (27) while setting a major league record with 382 strikeouts.  Less than a decade later (1973), Nolan Ryan astounded the baseball world by […]

Major Managers in Minor League History

December 16, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

Every now and then we read about a scout, coach, or manager who is described as a baseball “lifer.”  Well, that word also applies to someone serving a life sentence in prison.  Read into that what you will. Being a lifer is better than being on death row, I guess.  Of course, organized baseball does […]

Texas League Spitballin’

November 21, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

Chances are you knew about spitballs long before you learned about baseball history.  Somewhere in elementary school – or maybe in preschool if you were a prodigy – you learned how to chew up wads of paper into soggy little balls which you could throw at someone else or the blackboard.  Eventually, you learned that […]

The Grand Strand

October 9, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

Centennial years are a big deal.  When I was a teenager, they made a big deal about the Civil War Centennial.  The same was true several years ago when World War I “celebrated” its centennial.  And if we make it to 2041, I have no doubts that the 100th anniversary of Pearl Harbor will kick […]

A Star is Reborn: Satchel Paige in the Movies

September 19, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

You might be surprised to discover that Satchel Paige is included in the Internet Movie Database, the encyclopedic go-to source for film buffs. In fact, he has four credits, three onscreen and one behind the screen. The first is a formality, as the credit is for an unscripted TV role in the 1948 World Series, […]

Weird, Weirder, Weirdest

August 6, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

The independent minor leagues are not as independent as they used to be.  A number of them (namely, the Atlantic League, the Pioneer League, the American Association, and the Frontier League) are listed as Major League “Partner” leagues.  According to MLB, “These leagues will collaborate with MLB on initiatives to provide organized baseball to communities […]

When Cash Was King of Comedy

July 15, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

Nolan Ryan debuted with the Mets in 1966 but he didn’t make a name for himself till he was traded to the Angels after the 1971 season.  He pitched his first no-hitter on May 15, 1973 against the Royals.  Two months later, he followed up with another one against Detroit.  It was not quite as […]

A Most Memorable Memorial Day

May 27, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

In the United States Memorial Day has traditionally marked the beginning of summer.  Typically, MLB used to accommodate the fans celebrating the holiday by scheduling double-headers.  Weather permitting, fans would respond en masse.  In fact, Memorial Day 1948 set a one-day record for major league attendance.  The AL drew 192,300, the NL 145,456 for a […]

A Salute to the Senior Class

April 25, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

I recently came across an article about Art Schallock, the oldest MLB veteran still living.  Art debuted in 1951 with the Yankees and just turned 99 years old.  Perhaps a rousing rendition of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” should accompany “Happy Birthday.” MLB has not had a centenarian alumnus since Eddie Robinson died […]

Cleveland’s Brookside Park: Not a Mistake and Not on the Lake

April 18, 2023 by · 1 Comment 

An old saying pertaining to Detroit is, “It’s like Cleveland without the glitter.” When it comes to economy of language, this quote is a gem, as it puts down two Rust Belt cities in one six-word sentence. For the purpose of this essay, however, let’s park Detroit and take Cleveland out for a spin. In […]

Making Singles Sexy

February 27, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

Do you know who led the majors in singles in 2022?  If so, go to the head of the class: you are the ultimate stat geek. If not, don’t feel bad. The one-base hit is the least sexy safety. Just check the stat sheets. Go to the Baseball Reference web site and dial up the […]

Shedding Light on a Sunshine State Curse

January 16, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

The phrase “pitchers and catchers report” resounds throughout the land in the middle of February. All well and good, particularly if you live in Arizona or Florida, but if you are a college baseball fan, the simultaneous opening of the Division I season may be more meaningful. Some of the less heralded divisions start playing […]

Bogo Baseball: When Double-Headers Attack

January 2, 2023 by · 1 Comment 

The number of seamheads who have ever attended a double-header is rapidly dwindling. Once a Sunday afternoon fixture on MLB schedules, the double-header is now a rarity, often a last resort in rescheduling a rainout. Better drainage, Doppler radar, and domed stadiums have resulted in fewer postponements, but in days of old the rainout was […]

Live Man Walking

December 17, 2022 by · 2 Comments 

Some years ago, I was watching a Mets/Orioles spring training game in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. As is often the case, I got into a conversation with a fan sitting next to me. He was an older gentleman, and since old-timers have a longer involvement with fandom, they are usually much better conversationalists than younger fans. […]

Dealing With a Decade Of Depression

November 21, 2022 by · 1 Comment 

Given the economic storm warnings that have been posted of late, I can’t help but wonder how they will affect the Good Ship Major League Baseball. It’s not as though we haven’t had economic ups and downs before, but now, depending on your financial guru, we are on the verge of…a cyclical downturn, Great Depression […]

The Curse of Rocky Colavito 2.0

November 13, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Make a list of the all-time strangest – not necessarily the worst – trades and Frank “Trader” Lane’s 1960 deal involving Rocky Colavito and Harvey Kuenn will probably be on that list. At the time Rocky and Harvey were as intertwined in the sports pages as Rocky and Bullwinkle were on the tube. Colavito, age […]

The Shemp Syndrome

November 5, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Relativity doesn’t begin and end with Einstein. I don’t think he was a baseball fan anyway. Also, I don’t think he was a movie fan, but if he was, I suspect he was not a Three Stooges fan. He probably never heard of Curly, Larry, or Moe, much less Shemp. But Shemp is all about […]

Positively POTUS

October 29, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

A few years ago, the Rangers had a minor leaguer called Benjamin Harrison. I saw him play a few games at Double-A Frisco (Texas League) and was rooting for him to make it to the Show. Since President Benjamin Harrison was the first President to attend a major league game (on June 6, 1892), it […]

Walter Mitty On the Mound

September 23, 2022 by · 1 Comment 

In many MLB cities, these are good days for attending games if your team is hopelessly out of the pennant race. Out of the pennant race?  Yep, that’s right. Tickets are easy to procure, there’s more room to spread out around your seats, the post-game traffic is less, and the lines at the concession stands […]

An Open Letter to Rob Manfred

August 30, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Dear Mr. Manfred: I’m sure you are gratified by the decision of the erstwhile Cleveland Indians to rebrand themselves the Cleveland Guardians. At the same time, I’m sure you are disappointed that the Atlanta Braves stood pat, so the winds of change are batting .500. The focus on Native American nicknames, however, has deflected a […]

Manny Mota Mojo

August 20, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

I’ve amassed a large collection of autographed baseball cards (around 3,000) over the years, but my policy has generally been to avoid paying for autographs and catch the players at the ballpark, on the practice fields at spring training, or at off-season fan fests, winter warm-ups, caravans, or whatever they call them. Recently, however, I […]

First Dibs . . . Second Thoughts?

August 7, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

First-round draft picks always attract attention. There are 30 of them in the amateur draft every year, and the deck gets reshuffled annually. Great expectations abound, and being a first-round draft pick can be a burden. The same is true of expansion drafts. Every expansion team gets a first-round pick who attracts a lot of […]

Weekending With Weirdos

July 9, 2022 by · 2 Comments 

Even if you’ve never been to Austin, Texas, you have likely heard the phrase “Keep Austin Weird.” If you haven’t actually heard anyone say it, you might have seen it on a bumper sticker, coffee mug, T-shirt, or some other trinket. Austin has long had a reputation for attracting genuinely creative folks (especially musicians) as […]

SNAFU and FUBAR: A Comedy of Errors

July 2, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

I’m sure I’m not the only baseball fan whose eyes have glazed over while contemplating the welter of statistics out there. Every time I encounter some new statistic, my usual reaction is “arrrghhhh, just what we need, another statistic and another acronym.” Now, however, I have had a change of heart. Why? Because I thought […]

Making a Federal Case Out of Cooperstown

June 26, 2022 by · 1 Comment 

The Federal League expired more than a century ago and lasted but two seasons (1914 and 1915), so its legacy is minimal. The eight franchises are little noted nor long remembered, though savvy fans may be aware that Wrigley Field, originally known as Weeghman Park (named after team owner Charles Weeghman), was built for the […]

A Grey Area of Professional Baseball

June 22, 2022 by · 1 Comment 

If you get a paycheck for performing a task, by definition you have lost your amateur status. Congratulations, you are a professional. But that status is not necessarily desirable. It’s no secret that MLB players are high-status and minor league players less so. Minor league ball encompasses different strata of status. Some minor leagues rank […]

Win, Lose…or Draw? Romancing the No-Decision

April 22, 2022 by · 1 Comment 

Hall of Fame worthiness is a subjective if not downright arbitrary judgment. Why is this so-and-so in the Hall when that so-and-so isn’t? You probably have your favorite oversight, I have mine: namely, Tommy John. Now you might think I’m referring to his 288 victories or his eponymous status regarding Tommy John surgery (for the […]

The Little Giant’s Biggest Achievement

February 28, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Mel Ott requires no introduction to crossword puzzle aficionados thanks to such clues as “Hall of Famer Mel _ _ _” or “NY Giants slugger Mel _ _ _” or “Baseball’s ‘Master Melvin’ _ _ _.”  Puzzle designers love prominent people with three-letter surnames. Muhammad Ali and Umberto Eco, among others, are neck and neck […]