Friday, January 7, 2011

Innings 1 and 2 Completed...(from Ken Burns' special)

"No one ever saw anything graceful or picturesque about Wagner on the diamond. His movements have been likened to the caracoling gambols of an elephant. He's so ungamely and so bow-legged that when he runs his limbs seem to be moving in a circle after the fashions of a propellar. But he could run like the wind." New York-American

Note: Honus Wagner had 723 career stolen bases. In a day when the strikeout was looked down upon, during his career "The Flying Dutchman" in 10,439 at-bats he walked 963 times and struck out 327.

Byron Bancroft "Ban" Johnson was the President of the newly formed American League. One writer described him as 'looking like he was weened on an icicle.'

The owner of the Third Base Saloon was Michael McGreevey. He was known as 'Nuf Ced' because he was the final arbiter of all barroom disputes. Customers, Irish immigrants mostly, called themselves the Royal Rooters and considered themselves the most loyal of all Boston fans though their loyalty had been comparatively new. They had been National League fans until the NL raised their ticket prices two years earlier.

In 1903, the Boston Pilgrims played against the Pittsburgh Pirates for the championship between the two leagues. The first between the AL and NL.

The Pirates took an early lead in the series (3-1) thanks to Deacon Phillippe, who won every game, beating Cy Young twice.

Then McGreevey and his Royal Rooters took over.
In those days, the fans were on the field. Kept off the field by a rope (similar to that at the movie theatres). So they were literally 'a part of the action.' (Certainly moreso than in today's game of baseball. Nowadays a heckler gets the attention of a player best when there is nobody at the park. Like a night game in Oakland when the Yankees or Red Sox aren't in town.)

'They started singing that Betsy song. Instead of singing "Betsy I love you madly," they'd sing special lyrics like when Honus Wagner came to bat they'd sing "Honus, why do you hit so badly?" It was loud and got on your nerves. Before we knew what had happened we lost the series." Tommy Leach (NL leader in triples with 22 in 1902)

Down 3-1, Boston won the next three games.

The games proved so popular that the owners insisted on calling it the World Series.
"Philadelphia is the home of the Declaration of Independence, the number 8 pretzel, and the translucent ham sandwich, all of which are served at the Ball Orchard. A slice of boiled ham through which an eclipse of the sun could be observed with comfort, is stretched to cover the area of a baker's bun. A sustenance derived from the ham is equal to that of a similar portion of a red toy balloon inflated." - the Sporting News

Bad food and overpriced drinks have been served at the ballpark since the 1850s. British-born Harry M. Stevens began his career hawking scorecards in the 1880s. Then on one cold afternoon when ice cream sales slowed at the Polo Grounds, Stevens sent out for German sausages which he put in long buns so fans could hold and eat them. He had made his greatest contribution to the game introducing hot dogs at the ball game.

George Edward "Rube" Waddell
He possessed a fastball fearsome enough and a curveball wicked enough to lead the American League in strikeouts for 6 straight years.

In one game, he outpitched Cy Young for 20 innings!

His 349 strikeouts in 1904 is a record for left-handers in the American League. Closest challenger to the record is Sam McDowell and his 325 in 1965.

Waddell was considered one of the strangest players in baseball history. He would:
- do cartwheels on the mound when he won a game
- drink so much that the Sporting News called him a "Souced paw."
- poured ice water on his throwing arm before he pitched otherwise 'he'd burn up the catcher's glove.'
- couldn't quite remember how many wives he had
- loved fires. Whenever he heard the fire bell he had to be restrained from leaving the game. To follow the truck ringing the bell.
- fans loved him. (Can you blame them?)

(thanks to Ken Burns' documentary on Baseball, I got these notes.)

Kevin J. Marquez