Wednesday, December 26, 2007


At the end of the fascinating,stimulating and most of all informing book, Shades of Glory, is the appendix that is titled Statistics.

It goes on to list three (3) issues researchers must contend with when attempting to rebuild Negro league statistics.

- Which games should be included? We are talking about players who had to barnstorm to get to play those teams who would play them before more black teams were formed. Published schedules were not always accurate and the list of league-sanctioned games was not necessarily stable, so researchers do not have a simple list of games to target. Additionally, there were multiple leagues, independent teams and other exceptions which must be considered.

Makes me wonder just how accurate the white major league records were. Who knew how to keep score and when was the need to do so as much a part of the game as knowing how many outs there were? Was every base-runner treated as if they got on base by way of the base-hit? The phrase, "a walk is as good as a hit," may have been taken literally back in the day and if so, how many walks were credited as hits for players elected into Cooperstown, NY?

- The only source of raw data are the newspaper boxscores and these were not consistently reported by any one newspaper (so researchers must work with a wide variety of publications).

- How do you deal with imprecise information? Because there are many different sources there is an inconsistency to the data presented.

But this glorious book's final paragraph may best describe baseball's keeping of statistics.

More boxscores will be discovered in coming years and these will be added to the existing historical records but Negro leagues data will always contain gaps and inconsistencies.

Like other segments of baseball history, the folklore of the game will remain as important as the actual data, but the effort to rebuild this history will continue.

All of the writings by those who served their respective newspapers by selling its readers on the sport of baseball. Because so many owners thought the idea of broadcasting the game would turn fans away from the game only to find that when broadcasting began it actually increased the interest of prospective fans into becoming fans of baseball. Beginning in the 1920s the games were broadcast by a method referred to as "ree-creation."

The embellished tales were all about the idea of not letting the facts get in the way of a good story. Did Babe Ruth call his shot on October 1, 1932, in the World Series, at Wrigley Field, with Charlie Root on the mound for the hometown Cubs? Charlie Root's nickname was Chinski, d'ya suppose he liked to pitch in close to batters? Especially batters who talked the talk and walked the walk? Why else would the Babe pick him to humiliate?

(In fact, there is a Ford C. Frick Award given annually by the Baseball Hall of Fame to a broadcaster who has made major contributions to the game of baseball. Frick himself had initially gained fame as a ghostwriter for Babe Ruth in the 1920s. He later became the Commissioner, from 1951-1965.)

Kevin Marquez

Friday, December 14, 2007

Another Year Just Around the Corner

With another baseball season a little more than two months away I thought I'd share some old stories about America's pastime just to get you in the mood for the upcoming baseball season.

Apes gibber; Asses bray; Bears growl; Bees hum; Beetles drone; Blackbirds whistle; Bulls bellow, Calves bleat; Cats mew, purr; Chickens peep; Cocks crow; Cows moo; Dogs bark, bay, howl and yelp; Frogs croak; Geese cackle; Eagles, Vultures and Peacocks scream; Ducks quack; Horses neigh; Hens cackle and cluck; Owls hoot and screech; Parrots talk; Pigeons coo; Lambs baa or bleat; Snakes hiss; Sparrows chirp; Stags bellow and call; Swallows titter; Turkey-Cocks gobble; Swans cry and are said to sing just before death; Wolves howl and I'm going to begin with the snipets of yesteryear. Some long ago and some in more recent times.

In a book by former Umpire, Durwood Merrill are his opinions.
On Rod Carew: Never saw a pitch he couldn't hit. I once worked a game with the Minnesota Twins playing the California Angels when Nolan Ryan threw a 4-hitter. Carew got all four hits. To every other hitter on that day, the ball looked like an aspirin tablet. Carew told Merrill the ball looked like a volleyball.

On George Brett: At some point during his at-bat he knew exactly what the next pitch would be... The master of setting up the pitcher.

Per Durwood: Another thing I've never understood about major league pitchers is why they don't all keep track of the umpires' tendencies. We all have different strike zones. Wouldn't it be wise to keep a chart (even if it's just a mental chart) of all the umpires in both leagues? Hitters do. There's not a .300 hitter in either league who can't tell you the exact strike zone of every umpire in their league.

Don't you think guys like Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, Junior Griffey and Barry Bonds study umpires and their strike zones?

Pitchers should pay more attention. I've known pitchers who'll toss a great game-maybe a 3-hitter-and three hours later they've forgotten who was behind the plate.

A lot of pitchers today have a 6-inning mentality. They believe that success is pitching until the 6th inning. Somebody should tell these guys that baseball's last 30-game winner, Denny McLain, completed 28 of his 31 wins.

Merrill's simple formula for success in pitching: You've got to be able to bounce back after a rough inning, or even a tough game. The Sporting News hit upon a pretty revealing statistic. Forty percent (40%) of the pitchers in today's game (1990s) have been released at least one time. Merrill believes the pitchers who continually fail actually have strong arms and good stuff. You can't battle your way through the minor leagues and make the Bigs without some talent.

But the dividing line between success and failure in pitching is the neck.


After the Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series in 1988, Bill Russell, one of the coaches, decided to invite Tommy Lasorda, the coaching staff, and the wives to his house for dinner. I'm sure you've heard Tommy harping about bleeding Dodger blue. Well, Bill and his wife decided to paint all of the toilet seats in their house Dodger blue. They used that quick drying Krylon paint, which at the time was being endorsed by retired Reds catcher, Johnny Bench.

By noon, the commodes were painted. The Russells figured they'd be dry in plenty of time for the dinner party. About halfway through the dinner that night, Mother Nature called Tommy and he answered. After several flushes, Tommy was still unable to get up because that quick-drying paint hadn't dried. He was stuck like a horsefly in wet asphalt.

Bill heard Tommy yelling and cursing and he came running into the bathroom to find his boss now Dodger blue in the face. Bill went to tugging on Tommy and pretty soon he realized that the old skipper was actually Dodger-glued to the seat. So Bill got a screwdriver and took the commode lid completely off. He wrapped Tommy up in a sheet and together they headed off to the local hospital.

They looked pretty funny walking into that emergency room and I'm sure all the patients were wondering why Tommy was dressed in a sheet. On top of that, you could tell he had something stuck to his rear end. The nurses told Tommy to climb onto the examining table and to set himself on all fours. Wouldn't you know that a female doctor was on duty that night, and Tommy, not being at a loss for words, said, "Doc, have you ever in the world seen anything like this?" And the doctor smiled, winked and said, "Well, now, Mr. Lasorda, I've seen ten thousand of those. But it's the first time I've ever seen one in a picture frame."
From Durwood Merrill's book...

The problem with the rule book is that you can't get everyone to agree on anything when it comes to interpretations.
I ran Billy Martin out. Then I tossed his A's coach, Charlie Metro, for arguing with me. A's centerfielder, Dwayne Murphy, walks past me and says, "What's wrong with you Durwood? You got a hot date after the game?" And I tossed him out, too! I was sending them out of the game fifteen-second intervals. It looked like a conga line.

Pat Kelly, a religious man, was sitting next to Earl Weaver. "Skip," Kelly said, "you need to learn to walk with the Lord." Weaver tilts his head and shoots back, "Fuck you, Kelly. You need to learn to walk with the bases loaded."

Kevin Marquez (from a book by Durwood Merrill and old notes)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Shades of Glory by Lawrence Hogan

I am currently reading a book entitled Shades of Glory by Lawrence Hogan and the very informative forward is written by Jules Tygiel.

A little piece of Tygiel's forward goes like this...'when clubs started signing players from Cuba and other interracial baseball-playing societies of the Caribbean, they sought assurances that these players had pure Caucasian blood in their veins. However, as the number of "white" Latino ballplayers grew in the 1920s and 1930s, some appeared in both the major leagues and the Negro leagues, prompting sportswriter, Red Smith, to speculate that perhaps "there was a Senegambian somewhere in the Cuban batpile."

This book is very informative and acknowledges all of those people who have opened the doors for all to participate in this great game. It is a must read.

Kevin Marquez

Career Win Leaders by Age 31

In an issue of Sports Weekly right around Thanksgiving there was an interesting snipet I thought was worth passing along, since right around the time the Veteran's Committee begins tossing around names that have yet to be inducted into Cooperstown, NY, former Chicago Cub third-baseman, Ron Santo's name always seems to be on that list.

Player wins are defined as the number of victories above the average that a player is deemed to contribute to his team, assuming an average player contributes a .500 record. The chart below presents the career leaders in player wins by age 31 up to the midpoint of the calendar year (June 30) during which they were 31. Fielding performance is factored into player-win totals.
This list consists of the top 30 players, some of which are still active.
All of the players on this list are in the Hall of Fame except for Ron Santo and the active players at the beginning of the 2007 season.

Babe Ruth 77.3 (Player wins by age 31) 129.0 (total player wins)
Walter Johnson 72.3 89.9
Rogers Hornsby 70.4 86.0
Ty Cobb 63.6 85.9
Nap Lajoie 59.5 101.0
Mickey Mantle 58.9 71.8
Alex Rodriguez 57.4
Rickey Henderson 57.3
Barry Bonds 56.4 128.7 (total player wins)
Christy Mathewson 55.3
Ted Williams 54.9 86.5
Charles Augustus "Kid" Nichols 54.7
Jimmie Foxx 54.1
Lou Gehrig 53.2
Tris Speaker 52.3
Hank Aaron 51.0
Willie Mays 50.2
Mike Schmidt, Eddie Collins, Eddie Mathews, Stan Musial, Mel Ott, Joe Morgan, Frank Robinson, Johnny Bench, Pedro Martinez*, John Clarkson, Lou Boudreau, Ken Griffey Jr.*, Arky Vaughan, Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Cal Ripken Jr., Ron Santo and Scott Rolen.

Kevin Marquez