Submitted by BTGrimes on Sat, 03/08/2014 - 9:00am
Once you've seen Paris...
PARIS, FRANCE | MARCH 8, 1889 - A dream came true for Albert Spalding on this date in 1889. A team of touring American baseball players he organized played an exhibition baseball game in Paris, France.
There was some difficulty finding a suitable field. As Mark Lamster wrote in Spalding's World Tour, "Paris was endowed with countless formal parks and squares, but a large, enclosed space that would allow Spalding to charge admission was proving harder to come by." They finally settled on, and got permission to use, the Parc Aérostatique, a park in the shadow of Eiffel's rising tower, which would be completed later that year.
Albert Spalding, the fledgling sporting goods magnate, was a good ballplayer in his own right, and quite the promoter. He decided to tour the world to promote baseball and, in turn, get more business for his sporting goods venture.
He headed west from Chicago after the 1888 season with a group of 20-odd ballplayers, including stars Adrian "Cap" Anson and John Montgomery Ward. They barnstormed across the western states playing in cities like Omaha, Denver and Salt Lake City, eventually reaching San Francisco and settling sail for Hawaii and Australia.
Spalding's tour also played in Sydney, Cairo, Paris, London and numerous ports along the way. They would return in April 1889, more than a year after leaving.
This baseball history story about baseball in Paris, France is brought to you by TODAY in BASEBALL.
Submitted by BTGrimes on Fri, 03/07/2014 - 9:00am
Bring back the spitball?
CLEARWATER, FLORIDA |MARCH 7, 1955 - Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick believed baseball had tipped in favor of the hitter so on this date in 1955 he said if he had his way he would bring back the spitter.
While visiting the Philadelphia Phillies training camp Frick said, "Something positive should be done to help the pitchers." In advocating the return of the spitball Frick added, "There's nothing dangerous about it. It was nothing like the screwball they have to throw today, with a twisted elbow and tricky snapping of the wrists. No wonder today's pitchers can't go on as long."
But what did the statistics say? Below is a look at the average earned run average (ERA) in the major leagues for 3 seasons in the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's when each league had eight teams.
Average MLB ERA
ERA's were up in the 1950's compared to the 40's, but down from the 1930's. It's true, throughout the years pitchers have been steadily pitching fewer innings and throwing fewer pitches, but for a variety of reasons, two of the most prominent being more home runs, and the strategic prominence of the bullpen.
Needless to say, the spitball did not come back - legally.
This baseball history story about the spitball is brought to you by TODAY in BASEBALL.
Submitted by BTGrimes on Thu, 03/06/2014 - 9:00am
Gone too soon
Puckett probably would have said something like, "It was a short life (45 years), but a fulfilling one." This is what Puckett (5' 8" 210 lbs) actually did say when he was forced to retire in 1996 after waking up one morning blind in one eye, "I was told I would never make it because I'm too short. Well, I'm still too short, but I've got 10 All-Star Games, two World Series championships, and I'm a very happy and contented guy. It doesn't matter what your height is, it's what's in your heart."
This daily dose of baseball history is brought to you by TODAY in BASEBALL.
Submitted by BTGrimes on Wed, 03/05/2014 - 9:00am
You can't make this stuff up
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA | MARCH 5, 1973 - New York Yankee pitchers Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich dropped a bombshell on spring training camp on this date in 1973. They announced to the world that they had swapped wives... and kids and a poodle and a terrier. "It wasn't a wife swap," they said, "It's a life swap." America had lived through the turbulent, permissive 1960's, but this was a shock on so many levels, not the least of which was that the swap was announced to the world.
Just like in baseball; you win some, you lose some and some get rained out.
Peterson and Kekich had been close friends for years, and said there was nothing sordid about the "affair." They and their wives began discussing the switch the previous summer and put it in affect in October, 1972.
Fritz Peterson was still living with Susanne Kekich and her two daughters, aged 4 and 2, at the time of the press conference, but Mike Kekich and Marilyn Peterson's relationship had already gone south. Their living arrangement with her two sons, aged 5 and 2, had been on-again/off-again. It also became apparent that the two left-handers had had a falling out over one affair working and the other not. Murray Chass wrote in the next day's New York Times that, "...it was obvious they had bitter feelings toward each other."
This baseball history story about Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich is brought to you by Today in Baseball.
Submitted by BTGrimes on Tue, 03/04/2014 - 9:00am
The Father of Japanese baseball
Here's the story:
Baseball hasn't existed in Japan as long as it has in the United States, but our national pastime has been part of Japanese culture for over 130 years? According to Japanese baseball officials, the game was brought to the Land of the Rising Sun in the 1870's by Horace Wilson, a Tokyo University English Professor from the United States.
Wilson was born on a Gorham, Maine farm in 1843. After the Civil War he headed west to California and later to Japan. One day in 1872 (or 1873, depending who's telling the story) he decided his students at the First Higher School of Tokyo, now known as Tokyo University, needed some recreation. He got their blood pumping with a bat and ball, and taught them the game of baseball, which he probably learned during the Civil War.
According to Steve Solloway of the Portland, (Maine) PressHerald, a game was organized a few weeks later between the Japanese players and a group of foreigners, one of whom was Horace Wilson. The foreigners won 34-11 and a Japanese pastime was born.
This baseball history story about Horace Wilson is brought to you by TODAY in BASEBALL.