Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Yogi Steals Home in 1942

The following photo (which I lifted without permission) was posted on the facebook page of the Institute for Baseball Studies.
Yogi Berra of the St. Louis Stockhams (left) steals home on Los Angeles Sunrise catcher Gene Mauch (right) during the 1942 (exact date unknown) American Legion baseball sectional tournament in Hastings, Neb.
I wondered if I could find the date.  Looking through online newspaper archives showed me that the tourney took place at the end of August.

Omaha World Herald - August 26, 1942

The first game in the tourney was on Saturday, August 29.  St. Louis didn't fare well.

Omaha World Herald - August 30, 1942
The second game was scheduled for the next day, Sunday August 30, and then the tie-breaker, if necessary, was to be played later in the day.   As it turns out, it was necessary.

Omaha World Herald - August 31, 1942

  The bell ringer was swarthy Yogi Berra, whose pants-around-ankles figure was in sight almost every time the L.A. boys looked.  He went three for three, scored three runs, hit a double, the day's only extra baser, and swiped home in the seventh.
Well, there you go.  Yogi stole home in the third game.  That would be on August 30, 1942.  L.A. won.  Another baseball mystery solved.

Omaha World Herald - August 31, 1942

Yogi Berra was just a lad of 17 when he went to Hastings.  Very soon after the tournament ended the Cardinals signed him, apparently to save him from a life of boredom by book learning.

Omaha World Herald - September 13, 1942

Looking into these games raises another issue.  The caption on facebook says that Gene Mauch was catching.  According to the box scores he was playing third base.  The catcher was listed as Kinaman.  I assume that to be Dick Kinaman who knocked around the minors from 1943 to 1961.

images from GenealogyBank.com

Monday, June 15, 2015

Did Reggie steal on his own?

Yesterday at church the pastor used an illustration about Reggie Jackson stealing second base without Earl Weaver's permission. Reggie saw the opportunity and took it, but it didn't fit in with the manager's plans.  Lee May, the next batter, was walked.  The following batter wasn't strong so a pinch hitter was put in place, depleting Weaver's bench strength for the rest of the game.  You can read the illustration at SermonSearch.com, SermonCentral.com, and Bible.org.

The baseball side of my mind started to think.  This story could be verified.

Reggie Jackson stole 28 bases in 1976, the only year that he played for Earl Weaver.  I looked at RetroSheet.org and found those games.  Lee May only walked 41 times that season.  Found those games.  There were only eight games where they both happened.  Let's see if I can find the game.

For clarity I've highlighted in blue Reggie's steals and in yellow May's walks.

May 22, 1976
ORIOLES 3RD: Belanger tripled to right; R. Jackson was hit by a
pitch; L. May struck out; R. Jackson stole second; Muser singled
to center [Belanger scored, R. Jackson scored]; Singleton
singled to center [Muser to second]; CRAWFORD REPLACED COLEMAN
(PITCHING); Grich grounded into a double play (shortstop to
second to first) [Singleton out at second]; 2 R, 3 H, 0 E, 1
LOB.  Tigers 3, Orioles 4.

singled to left; BLAIR RAN FOR MORA; Belanger out on a sacrifice
bunt (pitcher to second) [Blair to second]; R. Jackson popped to
third in foul territory; L. May was walked intentionally; HARPER
BATTED FOR MUSER; Harper walked [Blair to third, L. May to
second]; Singleton homered [Blair scored, L. May scored, Harper
scored]; 4 R, 2 H, 0 E, 0 LOB.  Tigers 4, Orioles 8.

August 1, 1976
ORIOLES 4TH: R. Jackson walked; R. Jackson stole second; L. May
popped to catcher in foul territory; Singleton grounded out
(second to first) [R. Jackson to third]; DeCinces popped to
first in foul territory; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.  Tigers 0,
Orioles 1.

Hiller threw a wild pitch [Grich to second]; R. Jackson struck
out; L. May was walked intentionally; Singleton flied out to
right; DeCinces made an out to shortstop; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. 
Tigers 3, Orioles 3.

August 31, 1976
ORIOLES 3RD: Bumbry singled to center; Bumbry stole second;
Grich struck out; R. Jackson grounded out (shortstop to first)
[Bumbry to third]; L. May walked; Singleton singled to right
[Bumbry scored, L. May to third]; Crowley flied out to right; 1
R, 2 H, 0 E, 2 LOB.  Royals 1, Orioles 3.

ORIOLES 5TH: Bumbry flied out to center; Grich flied out to
center; R. Jackson walked; R. Jackson stole second [R. Jackson
to third (error by White)]; L. May flied out to center; 0 R, 0
H, 1 E, 1 LOB.  Royals 1, Orioles 3.

September 4, 1976
ORIOLES 1ST: Belanger made an out to shortstop; Grich doubled to
right; R. Jackson grounded out (third to first); L. May walked;
Singleton walked [Grich to third, L. May to second]; Mora flied
out to right; 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 3 LOB.  Yankees 0, Orioles 0.

ORIOLES 7TH: Belanger made an out to first; Grich lined to
right; R. Jackson singled to left; R. Jackson stole second; L.
May singled to left [R. Jackson scored]; Singleton flied out to
right; 1 R, 2 H, 0 E, 1 LOB.  Yankees 2, Orioles 2.

September 11, 1976
ORIOLES 1ST: Bumbry grounded out (second to first); Grich popped
to catcher; R. Jackson homered; L. May walked; Rodriguez threw a
wild pitch [L. May to second]; Singleton walked; Crowley popped
to third; 1 R, 1 H, 0 E, 2 LOB.  Orioles 1, Brewers 0.

ORIOLES 3RD: Bumbry grounded out (second to first); Grich struck
out; R. Jackson singled to left; R. Jackson stole second; L. May
singled to center [R. Jackson scored]; L. May was caught
stealing second (catcher to shortstop); 1 R, 2 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. 
Orioles 2, Brewers 1.

September 12, 1976
ORIOLES 2ND: L. May walked; Singleton grounded into a double
play (third to second to first) [L. May out at second]; Mora
grounded out (shortstop to first); 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. 
Orioles 0, Brewers 0.

ORIOLES 9TH: R. Jackson singled to right; R. Jackson stole
second; L. May popped to catcher; Singleton singled to shortstop
[R. Jackson to third (error by Yount)]; BUMBRY RAN FOR
SINGLETON; Mora forced Bumbry (shortstop to second) [R. Jackson
scored]; DeCinces singled to right [Mora to second]; CASTRO
(shortstop to second); 1 R, 3 H, 1 E, 2 LOB.  Orioles 3, Brewers

September 14, 1976
ORIOLES 1ST: Bumbry struck out; Grich singled to third; R.
Jackson walked [Grich to second]; L. May flied out to right
[Grich to third]; R. Jackson stole second; Singleton lined to
third; 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 2 LOB.  Tigers 0, Orioles 0.

left; Grich grounded out (shortstop to first); R. Jackson was
called out on strikes; L. May was walked intentionally;
Singleton walked [Blair to third, L. May to second]; DeCinces
flied out to center; 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 3 LOB.  Tigers 7, Orioles 9.

September 21, 1976
ORIOLES 4TH: R. Jackson singled to center; R. Jackson stole
second [R. Jackson to third (error by Munson)]; L. May grounded
out (shortstop to first) [R. Jackson scored]; Singleton grounded
out (shortstop to first); Muser popped to third; 1 R, 1 H, 1 E,
0 LOB.  Orioles 3, Yankees 7.

ORIOLES 6TH: Bumbry grounded out (second to first); Grich
doubled to right; R. Jackson struck out; L. May walked;
Singleton flied out to left; 0 R, 1 H, 0 E, 2 LOB.  Orioles 3,
Yankees 7.

So, based on that data, the event never happened.  Nice illustration or anecdote, but I can't prove it.

The story was originally part of  Thomas Boswell's 1983 book How Life Imitates The World Series.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Clinton Prison All Stars

There's been quite a bit of media frenzy about the two inmates that escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York. That prison is located in the county in which I was born and raised. Let's look at a few games that involved the Clinton Prison All Stars.

The sport sections of local papers in Plattsburgh, Clinton County's seat, were filled with all things baseball during the summer.  The North Country has a rich history of baseball, with Plattsburgh fielding a team for several seasons in the Northern New York League and even one in the Northern Independent League, all in the early 1900s.  Hotel teams, barnstorming teams, and local industry teams kept the interest of the area.

In the summer of 1921 there were a few contests with the All Stars of Clinton Prison.

Plattsburgh Daily Republican - July 30, 1921

The D & H would be the Delaware & Hudson Railroad.  Champlain is a town on the New York - Canadian border, with tracks running through it.

Plattsburgh Daily Republican - July 30, 1921

And the results of that first game?  A 5-0 shutout in favor of the Railroaders.

Plattsburgh Daily Press - August 1, 1921

A few days later, the Regular Plattsburgh Baseball Team went to Dannemora.

Plattsburgh Daily Republican- August 3, 1921

Again, the Prisoners are defeated, this time the score was 11-7.

Plattsburgh Daily Republican - August 4, 1921

Since the prison was built in 1844, there have been a few escapes.  I can speculate that there have been more ball games played there.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

An Error and a Triple Play

In a few days we'll be remembering the 71st anniversary of the Allied invasion of France, commonly called "D-Day".  The History Channel and the American Heroes Channel have been showing specials about the preparation leading up to the invasion.  I've watched my fair share of them as I enjoy military history. 

But I came across a part of the story I hadn't heard before.  It seems that an errant AP report on June 3, 1944 caused quite a stir, including at the Polo Grounds.
     Baseball fans at the Polo Grounds in New York also stood and observed a minute's silence when the flash reached them by public address system.

Morning Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) - June 4, 1944

The newspaper report about the game doesn't mention the moment of silence, but does mention the triple play (Gustine to Zak to Dahlgren).

Dallas Morning News - June 4, 1944

Here's RetroSheet's box score of the game.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Critics Respond to ABC's Thomas W. Moore

Two years ago I posted about ABC's suggestion to cut the MLB season to 60 games for the 1965 season.  This week that story got picked up by Chuck Hildebrandt from SABR Media.  Then Rob Neyer, from FOXSports, picked up Chuck's posting.

There had to be more to the original story, though.  What was the reaction?  A bit of research shows that not everyone was in favor of it.

Noted Washington D.C. area sports writer Francis Stann got a bit pointed in his April 22, 1964 column, referring to Arthur Allyn's quote about Charles Finley's proposal to move the KC Athletics to Louisville.  "Mr. Finley is an idiot."

The Evening Star (Washington DC) - April 22, 1964

It wasn't just sports writers.  Joseph A.W. Iglehart, chairman of the board of the Baltimore Orioles, had some pointed words about being in the cellar.
Greensboro Record (Greensboro, NC) - April 23, 1964

By the end of October that year Francis Stann seems to be softening up his stance a bit, mostly in light of possible expansion teams joining the league.

The Evening Star (Washington DC) - October 29, 1964

His earlier statements of G-R-E-E-D by the TV executives seems to be on point as we see that in December a new television contract has been awarded.

Illinois State Journal (Springfield, Ill.) - December 16, 1964

I'm guessing all involved were much happier then.

images from GenealogyBank.com

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Did Grover Cleveland Alexander's father wear a kilt?

Over the weekend Peter Nash, of the Hauls of Shame website, tweeted the following picture:

1916 Grover Cleveland Alexander Handwritten Signed Letter

It came from a recent Heritage Auction sale.

My transcription is:
     Sat Sept 16 16
My Dear Friend
     In reply to  your letter in regard to my nationality I will say I am of Scotch Irish parents.  My Father is a full blooded Scotchman and my Mother is Irish.
           G C Alexander

"My Father is a full blooded Scotchman and my Mother is Irish."  I like bold statements.  They stand strong and we have to accept them as truth.  We do, don't we?  Well, no, not really.

I figured that Grover's declaration could be verified or disproved.  To ancestry.com I went.

This 1900 US Census page shows that Grover's father, William Alexander was born in Iowa.  Grover's mother, Martha, was born in Wisconsin.  His paternal grandparents were born in Scotland and Ohio.  His maternal grandparents were both born in Ireland.

Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Fairdale, Howard, Nebraska; Roll: 930; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 0125; FHL microfilm: 1240930

Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line].
Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.

Moving chronologically through the records, I should find the 1910 US Census.  But I don't.  Or at least I haven't yet.  I found where he isn't.  His parents, William and Maggie J. Alexander, were enumerated in St. Paul, Howard County, Nebraska that year.  He wasn't in with the family.  I don't know where he was when the census takers came calling.

So on to the next item.  It is his World War I draft registration card.  This doesn't talk about his parents' heritage, but it is interesting.

Source Citation: Registration State: Nebraska; Registration County: Howard; Roll: 1711698
Description: Draft Card : A
Source Information: Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line].
Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.
Original data: United States, Selective Service System.World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration 

I found Grover in Chicago in 1920.  On the next page is his wife, Amy.  According to this Grover's father was born in Iowa.  What's a few different states between friends?

Source Citation: Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 25, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll:T625_342; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 1477; Image: 1024
Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census[database on-line].
Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.
Original data: Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. (NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA.
Note: Enumeration Districts 819-839 are on roll 323 (Chicago City).

Like the 1910 census I couldn't track down the 1930 census listing Grover.

In 1940 Grover and Mrs. Alexander are in New York.  This census didn't ask where the parents were born.

Source Citation: Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York;
Roll: T627_2644;Page: 85A; Enumeration District: 31-844
Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line].
Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. T627, 4,643 rolls.
Since Grover did serve in the military we have his application for headstone or marker.

Source Information: Ancestry.com. U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963[database on-line].
Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
Original data: Applications for Headstones for U.S. Military Veterans, 1925-1941. Microfilm publication M1916, 134 rolls. ARC ID: 596118. Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, Record Group 92. National Archives at Washington, D.C.Applications for Headstones, compiled 01/01/1925 - 06/30/1970, documenting the period ca. 1776 - 1970 ARC: 596118. Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774–1985, Record Group 92.
National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
image by Arthur Koykka
from FindAGrave.com
Grover ended up in Elmwood Cemetery in St. Paul, Nebraska.

So, based on the records from Ancestry.com I'd have to say that I don't know if Grover's dad wore a kilt, but it does seem that his father wasn't born in Scotland and his mother wasn't born in Ireland.  It is too late for me to try to do the ancestral math as to what percentage of what nationality he actually was.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Remembering Fallen Friends

1867 was a tough year for two Tennessee teams. The Nashville Base Ball Club and the Stonewall Jackson Base Ball Club of Memphis both lost players to death within a few months of each other.  Not on the field of play, but both were missed by their clubs.

Due to the blurred images I've transcribed the articles.

Nashville Union and Dispatch - May 10, 1867
Tribute of Respect.
     At a call meeting of the Nashville Base Ball Club, held to-day (May 9, 1867,) the following preamble and resolutions were adopted and approved:
     It having pleased the Divine Ruler to remove suddenly from action and healthful life to the realms of death our companion and friend, JAS. MCGUIRE, late a worthy and esteemed member of the Nashville Base Ball Club.  Therefore, we the members of the club do
    Resolve, That in this dispensation we have sustained the loss of a cherished companion and friend, whose good conduct and spotless character were an ornament to the social circle, and gave promise of a live of usefulness as a citizen.
     Resolved, That during the present base ball season, at all matches in which this club may be a part, the members wear the usual badge of mourning.
     Resolved, That to the immediate relatives of deceased we tender our sincere condolence and sympathy, and that his family be furnished with a certified copy of these resolutions by the Secretary.
     M. J. MCKEE, Sec'y.
     JAS. BONER, Ch'n.
     WM. MOORE,

Then a few months later in Memphis...

Public Ledger (Memphis, Tenn.) - July 19, 1867

TRIBUTE OF RESPECT. - At the last meeting of Stonewall Jackson Base Ball Club the following resolutions were passed relative to the death of John Cass, a member of the club:
     WHEREAS, It has pleased Almighty God, in His Allwise providence, to take hence our esteemed and beloved brother, John Cass.  We, as a token of regard to his memory and condolence with his loved parents, have unanimously
     Resolved, That in the decease of John Cass the fraternity has lost one of its strongest advocates, his acquaintances a friend who will always be missed, whether at the festal board, on the play ground, or in the meeting room, and his relatives a dutiful son, a loving brother and a kind hearted protector.
     Resolved, That in his removal from earth there is left in our midst a void that cannot be filled, while the memory of his kindness and charities remain in our midst, or while a member of the fraternity exists.
     Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be sent to his parents and also be published in the Memphis LEDGER.
     Resolved, That the said members of the Stonewall Jackson Base Ball Club of Memphis wear crape for twenty days in respect of their late brother John Cass, and not to participate in any games of ball.
     Signed by the members of the Stonewall Jackson Base Ball Club.

The interesting thing is that both clubs added an item to their clothing.  The Nashville BBC wore "the usual badge of mourning" in their club's games.  The Stonewall Jackson BBC wore "crape for twenty days".

I assume that the "usual badge of mourning" was some sort of crape of black cloth probably worn on the sleeve. 

In 1973 Pittsburgh Pirates wore a memorial patch in honor of Roberto Clemente, who died at the end of 1972.  It is not uncommon now to see teams honoring deceased owners, players, or broadcasters with a patch or a decal in many sports. 

Could the Nashville BBC have been one of the first teams to honor a fallen teammate?

Paul Lukas, of the fantastic site Uni Watch, posted an article titled Remembering fallen friends through uniforms at ESPN.com in January of 2008.  In it he mentions Tom Shieber, Baseball Hall of Fame historian, who said that:
the first memorial to appear on a big league uniform was in 1876, when the St. Louis nine wore a "badge of mourning" (likely black crepe) in memory of former teammate Tom Miller, who'd died of a kidney ailment.
A quick search through Chronicling America and GenealogyBank.com provided nothing.  The Baseball Hall of Fame has a lot of info on Patches and Armbands (as part of their Dressed to the Nines on-line exhibit) which mentions the St. Louis team honoring their former teammate.

It wasn't until I peeked inside of A Game of Inches by Peter Morris that I got a good reference on the 1876 story.  In chapter 10 he discusses armbands.  The story was to be found in the June 10, 1876 edition of the New York Clipper.

New York Clipper - June 10, 1876

I won't transcribe the whole article, but just the last paragraph.
     Resolved, That we, his late associates, wear a badge of mourning for thirty days as a token of respect for his memory; that the secretary forward a copy of these resolutions to the family of the deceased.
They might not have been the first team to do so, but it is possible that the Nashville club was a trailblazer in remembering a friend and teammate.

UPDATE: Christopher Ryland, at his blog, Three Hands Dead, lists a similar tribute to Thomas Kinna by the 1868 Memphis Bluff City Club.

Nashville and Memphis articles from Chronicling America
New York Clipper article from the University of Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection