Friday, January 28, 2011

(Ken Burns' Baseball Documentary) We're in the 5th and 6th Innings

In 1938, the players were polled if they would have any objection to play with Negro players and 4/5ths had no objections.

It was the owners and commissioner Keneshaw Mountain Landis who were not interested.
(Keneshaw got his name from a misspelling of Kenneshaw Mountain, Georgia, where his father, a physician, fought on the union side and lost a leg during the American Civil War at the Battle of Kenneshaw Mountain.)

That winter, Chester Washington of the Pittsburgh Courier sent a telegram to the manger of the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates. To: Pie Traynor, Pittsburgh Pirates, Congress Hotel. Know your club needs players. Have an answer to your prayers right here in Pittsburgh. Josh Gibson, catcher. Buck Leonard, first base. S. Page, pitcher and Cool Papa Bell all available at reasonable figures. Would make Pirates formidable pennant contender. What is your attitude? Wire answer, Chester Washington.

There was no answer.
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According to Leroy Satchel Page

You wanna live a long time don't fool with nothing old but money.
Nothing big but a bankroll.
Nothing black but a cadillac.
Nothing over 22, nothing that weighs over 130.
If you do you're in trouble!
Because when you're getting old your cells are getting low
and you need a Delco battery to boost you.
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Dazzy Vance-a hefty righthander with and 83" reach. He had been a dominant pitcher of the 1920's. You want to know why? He literally had a trick up his sleeve.

"You couldn't hit him on a Monday. He cut the sleeve of his undershirt to the elbow. And on that part of it he used lye to make it white and the rest he didn't care how dirty it was. Then he'd pitch overhand out of the apartment houses in the background at Ebbets Field. Between the bleached sleeve of his undershirt waving and a Monday wash hanging out to dry; the diapers and uneven sheets flapping on the clothesline you lost the ball entirely. He threw balls by me I never even saw." - Rube Bressler
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On the Gashouse Gang, 1934 St. Louis Cardinals...

They don't look like a major league ballclub or as major league ballclubs are supposed to look in this era of the well-dressed athlete. Their uniforms are stained and dirty and patched and ill-fitting. They don't shave before a game. Most of them chew tobacco. They spit out of the sides of their mouths and then wipe the backs of their hands across their shirt fronts. They're not afraid of anybody. - Frank Graham, New York Sun.

(I'm just looking for interesting tidbits. This part had a bio on Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig but of the information mentioned most of it is popular knowledge. So I don't see any use in repeating it. I'll keep playing, rewinding and putting the tape on pause if I hear something about someone that isn't common knowledge.)

Kevin Marquez