Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lineup Cards

Inspired by a Steve Wulf article in the October 20, 2008 issue of ESPN magazine, entitled Between the Lines, I wanted to share some of his insights and hopefully they'll make your own imagination runneth wild with the way it used to be...between the lines.

Historically, Henry Chadwick is listed as one of baseball's first real chroniclers, I guess that means other writers were sent on baseball assignments but Mr. Chadwick took them more seriously because the game had a place in his heart and he felt the game deserved more than a piece written by someone "on the outside looking in."

In 1867, Chadwick advised, "Let your first striker always be the coolest hand of the nine." And in this simple sentence Chadwick may have hit upon the ideal leadoff man. As records are, Mr. Wulf was able to come up wasn't until 1908 that the fourth-place hitter in the lineup was called "the cleaner-up."

In the early days of baseball, batting orders were in the hands of the team captains, not managers, and captains were not averse to such chicanery as changing the order during the middle of the game. Because such behavior was not exhibiting the integrity of the game the National League (Senior Circuit) adopted a new rule in 1881 that required "the captain of each nine to furnish the entire batting order by nine o'clock on the morning of each game." Thus the lineup card became an official document.

(According to Steve Wulf) Science: Baltimore Oriole manager, Earl Weaver, was one of the first managers to rely heavily on statistics. He would use index cards prepared by Orioles statistician, Charles Steinberg. But in the 1979 playoffs against the California Angels, recently acquired John Montague was warming up in the bullpen and Weaver didn't have a card for him. So he called Steinberg in the press box and asked him to look up Montague's stats. Weaver then sent his daughter, a stadium attendant, to retrieve the data. She came running downstairs, through the Orioles' clubhouse and past a naked Jim Palmer (she says she shielded her eyes) and handed the card to her father. Upon seeing that John Lowenstein owned Montague, Weaver said, "LOWENSTEIN, GRAB A BAT." He homered to win the game.

(According to Steve Wulf) Dumb Luck: Joe Morgan (not the Hall of Famer) once filled out his Red Sox lineup card after confusing White Sox starting pitcher Shawn Hillegas, a righty, with Paul Kilgus, a lefty. As Joe Castiglione, the longtime Boston announcer, recalls, "We're scratching our heads upstairs, wondering why Rick Cerone, the righty-hitting catcher, is in the lineup instead of Rich Gedman, the lefty-hitting catcher. Lo and behold, Cerone hits a home run to win the game. So much for managerial genius."

(According to Wulf) Protocol: Doug"Rooster" Radar, when he was managing the Texas Rangers in the 1980s, once gave the umpire a card on which the other team's lineup included the names of the umpires. His point, of course, was that they were favoring the other side anyway.

Retired-Umpire Bruce Froemming, whose sense of humor is the antithesis of his body type, which is to say, undernourished. He had a Pacific Coast League memory. "Portland. One night, Joe Adcock got really mad at us, and the next day, he brought out the lineup on a roll of toilet paper. Had to throw him out right there." My question for the calorically challenged Froemming, "Did you laugh?" Because if you did, throwing him out only proves what a lunkhead you were. Ya gotta have a sense of humor if you're an umpire. And not one that requires a surgeon's ability to find the ticklish spot by way of deep tissue massage.

(the last insert about Bruce Froemming came by way of Steve Wulf but it was I who felt the need to add everything after...Had to throw him out right there.)

(thanks to Steve Wulf of ESPN magazine for his insights)

Kevin Marquez