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.
Submitted by BTGrimes on Sun, 03/02/2014 - 9:00am
Payday for the Babe
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK | MARCH 2, 1927 - Babe Ruth became the highest paid player in major league history on this date in 1927. The New York Yankees announced that the Bambino will earn $70,000 per season for the next three years. Seventy-thousand dollars a year in 1927 translates to about $1,000,000 in today's dollars. Not a huge amount compared to today's salaries, but that was before free agency (more later).
Ruth wasn't the highest paid for long. Ty Cobb was being paid more per year than Ruth before the end of the 1920's. Here are the highest salaries per decade as compiled by economist Michael J. Haupert of the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse:
1890's (King Kelly) $12,500
This baseball history story about Babe Ruth is brought to you by TODAY in BASEBALL.
Submitted by BTGrimes on Sat, 03/01/2014 - 8:00am
The end of an era
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA | MARCH 1, 1969 - An American icon of the 1950's and 60's retired on this date in 1969. Mickey Mantle made the announcement at the spring training home of the New York Yankees, ending an 18-year career. It's remarkable it lasted that long considering "Mick" endured a variety of injuries, mostly to his legs.
In announcing his decision, Mantle revealed the frustrations of a proud athlete, he was only 37, whose body would not perform, "I don't hit the ball when I need to. I can't steal when I need to, I can't score from second base when I need to."
Early in his career he was described as the fastest player from home to first, but that was before leg injuries turned him into a 4-tool star.
This daily dose of baseball history is brought to you by TODAY in BASEBALL.
Submitted by BTGrimes on Tue, 02/25/2014 - 9:00am
Wrong kind of "strike"
NEW YORK, NEW YORK | FEBRUARY 25, 1973 - Major League Baseball goes through phases where "strikes" seem to out-number "balls," and we're not talking about what the homeplate umpire barks out after a pitch is thrown. According to Sports Illustrated, since 1972 there have been eight work stoppages, including the year we're focusing on - 1973.
The 1973 agreement instituted what has become as common as the hit & run - arbitration. After so many years in the league a player who couldn't agree on a salary with his team could take the issue to arbitration.
Considering what happened a year earlier, a strike right at the start of the regular season, everyone was relieved. Players and owners alike knew fans were becoming disenchanted, or worse, indifferent, to the annual spring labor rituals.
Baseball didn't learn however, there were work stoppages in 1980, 1981, 1985, 1990 and a devastating strike in 1994-95 that wiped out the entire post-season including the World Series.
This baseball history story about work stoppages is brought to you by TODAY in BASEBALL.