Monday, December 7, 2015

Branch Rickey Jr. reaching out to Japanese Americans

In February of 1942 President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the deportation and incarceration of people with Japanese ancestry.  Over 110,000 Japanese Americans were forced into interior camps in the Continental United States.

To pass the time sporting events were offered, with several teams popping up at each camp.

Baseball game, Manzanar Relocation Center, Calif. / photograph by Ansel Adams.
Part of the Manzanar War Relocation Center photographs collection at the Library of Congress

Somehow word got back to Branch Rickey Jr. that there were some quality players in the camps.

In a letter originally sent to Mr. Ira Holland in the School Health and Physical Education Department, Branch Rickey Jr. writes:
Dear Mr. Holland,
We will be most happy to have any boys that you might recommend in our baseball camps this summer if any of these boys have sufficient ability to play professional baseball, we will, of course, recommend them just as we would any other young man. The fact that these boys are American boys is good enough for the Brooklyn Club. Whether they are of Japanese, English, or of Polish ancestry makes no difference to us and I know that these boys would be treated with the greatest courtesy and respect. Unfortunately, I am afraid that the camps which we run this summer will not be too close to McGehee, Arkansas. Our nearest camp may be in Oklahoma somewhere around the latter part of August. We will hold camps in Des Moines, Iowa, Omaha, Neb., for these. There may also be a possibility that later in the summer we may conduct a camp at Little Rock, Ark. At any rate, if any of the boys are able to attend any of these camps we would be more than happy to have them.
Very Truly yours,
Branch Rickey Jr.
This letter comes from the Sports and recreation in camp section of the Densho Encyclopedia.

The letter was condensed and was mentioned in the Topaz Times of July 29, 1943.  This was a tri-weekly newspaper that served the Topaz camp in Utah.

Topaz Times - July 29, 1943
image from

From the same paper there are other mentions of baseball in the camps, along with a stories about golf and archery.  Gila is Gila River Camp in Arizona.  Tule Lake was located in California

Mr. Rickey sought (and gained) approval from the Dodgers Board of Directors in 1943 to begin the search for "the right man."  It is possible that the "right man" could have been of Japanese ancestry instead of Jackie Robinson.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tracking the 1885 NL Standings

Diagram of the Progress Made from Week to Week by the Clubs Competing for the Supremacy.

That's what the headline read on October 13, 1885.  140 years ago today.  There wasn't much drama after the sixth week for the top two clubs of the 1885 National League, but it was an interesting August and September for the bottom half.

I don't remember seeing a diagram like this for a league this early in baseball's history. 

New York Herald - October 13, 1885
images from

The Chicago club, the White Stockings, went on to play the St. Louis Brown in a post season series where they ended in a tie (3-3-1).

Friday, September 25, 2015

Yogi Nuggets

Earlier this week Yogi Berra passed away. There were many tributes to him on social media. I tossed up a few, finding a few not so well known nuggets.  These are what I put on my twitter account.

I'm always curious to see where people are from.  Using I was able to locate the Berra family in St. Louis in 1930.  Little Lawrence was not yet five years old.

1930 US Census - from

Boy's Life magazine featured a picture of a youngish Yogi in 1950.
Boy's Life - September, 1950

Columbia Records, in 1952, issued several records of baseball players giving advice about the game.  The four players were Ralph Kiner, Phil Rizzuto, Yogi, and Bob Feller.  Here's a review from Billboard Magazine.
Billboard Magazine -June 14, 1952

I was surprised to find out that Yogi was ejected from games in five decades.


Yogi as cover boy...

Boy's Life - April, 1963
Boy's Life - April, 1963
Boy's Life - April, 1963
If you'd like to read the whole story, here it is.

Did you know that Phil Rizzuto and Yogi had a bistro?  And that it had a discotheque?  And you couldn't dance?  Me, neither.
Billboard - August 14, 1965
Thank you, Mr. Berra, for adding so much to the game of baseball.  Rest in peace.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Whittier College Poets team photos

The Caltech teams have been posted and Terry Cannon, Executive Director of the Baseball Reliquary, suggested that I might give a similar treatment to the Whittier College Poets baseball teams through the ages.  So here is a loose visual documentation of the varsity baseball teams of the Whittier College Poets.


















images from

Friday, September 11, 2015

Caltech teams of the 2000s

2002 saw the return of a beaver to the jersey.  Ditching Cincinnati and embracing St. Louis, Caltech has put a beaver on a bat.  Except for 2004 when they tried to imitate the University of Tennessee.  Yearbooks in the second half of the decade were sparse when it came to athletic teams.

2000 Team

2001 Team

2002 Team

2003 Team

2004 Team

2005 Team

2006 Team

2010 Team

2011 Team

Yeah.  Just one player photo.  Sparse, I tell you.

2010 Player

images from the Cal Tech Pubs site

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Caltech teams of the 1990s

The nondescript nineties. Block letters give way to a Cincinnati Reds' clone.

1990 Team

1991 Team

1992 Team

1993 Team

1994 Team

1995 Team

1996 Team

1997 Team

1998 Team

1999 Team

Players.  We need to see the players.

1993 Player

1994 Player

1995 Player

images from the Cal Tech Pubs site