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.
Submitted by BTGrimes on Mon, 03/03/2014 - 9:00am
Milwaukee's loss, Baltimore's gain
SARASOTA, FLORIDA | MARCH 3, 1953 - How does the "Milwaukee Browns" sound? That almost became a reality. There was an attempt in 1953 to shift the American League's St. Louis Browns to Milwaukee, but conversations on this date that year between owners involved put that possibility to rest.
One door closing however often opens another and that's what happened here.
Let me try to explain the sometimes convoluted machinations of MLB franchise moves and almost moves.
The Braves were still in Boston in those days, but they owned a minor league franchise in Milwaukee. They would have had to move that franchise if a major league team moved in. St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck was eager to move to Milwaukee, and the city was anxious to get a major league team, using a $5 million, 32,000 seat stadium as an enticement. But it was up to the Boston Braves, and vice-president Joseph Cairnes said, "We wouldn't stand in the way of Milwaukee getting in the major leagues, but before we give up the [minor league] franchise we want another Triple-A franchise of the same potential." There wasn't time to work that out before opening day 1953.
Bill Veeck found the time to move his St. Louis Browns to Baltimore where they started the 1953 season as the Orioles, and remain to this day. The Boston Braves eventually became Milwaukee's first major league team in three years later, though they didn't stay long. The Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966.
This baseball history story about the St. Louis Browns is brought to you by TODAY in BASEBALL.