Friday, January 14, 2011

Notes and Quotes... Mostly About Baseball

(From This Copyrighted Broadcast by Hank Greenwald)

Bill King came from Bloomington, Indiana. In his later years, Bill would be walking down the street and old ladies would mistake him for the devil.

(But boy could he paint the visual picture of an Oakland Raider or San Francisco/Golden State Warrior game.)

According to Hank: He had the ability to make you "see" through the radio what was coming next. He saw that two defenders were switching, and also that the switch had created a size mismatch for the offense.

He would alert his listeners to where the ball was likely to go. You were always a step ahead of the game when you listened to Bill. He never wasted words and always had the perfect ones to fit the occasion. He never attended college, but his vocabulary on and off the air was the envy of us all. He took basketball broadcasting to a higher level. He was the best.
The moments of excitement in a baseball game are very few. These must stand out in a broadcast. Your job is not to create excitement, your job is to capture it. Or you can do what I (Hank) did when the Giants were getting killed- start rooting for technical difficulties.
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In 1908, Moses Walker wrote a pamphlet, "Our Home Colony: A Treatise on the Past, Present and Future of the Negro Race in America," that set forth in 48 well-written paages the case for African Americans giving up on the long-denied vision of equality in America.

The opportunity for advancement did not exist for Negroes, he wrote: "We see no possible hope that the Negro will ever secure the enjoyment of this social freedom or equality. Without it he can never expect full and complete development."

"The whole trouble is that the Creator had endowed His people with every power and means to attend to their own physical needs, and if they fail in the use of these faculties they may sit until the end of time waiting for outside help." from the book, Shades of Glory.
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Rayford Logan's "The Betrayal of the Negro," explains further...
By 1901, the nadir years as he terms it, blacks had clearly been assigned to their "ugly" place in American society.
"A terminal that seemed indestructable. On the pediment of the separate wing reserved for Negroes were carved Exploitation, Segregation, Disfranchisement, Lynching, Contempt."
Grant Johnson, a stellar shortstop at the turn of the century, in 1910, playing for the Havana Reds when they toured Cuba, batted .412. That was better than Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford, two stars who played for the Detroit Tigers who were on the same tour. Also, catcher Bruce Petway threw Ty Cobb out three times in three attempts.

According to Grant Johnson there were two requisites to being a first-class hitter: confidence and fearlessness. From Johnson's perspective, any pitcher worth his salt would rather, when the game is on the line, "Face the mighty swinger vs. the cool steady batter who tries to meet the ball and place it to the best advantage."
Did you hear of Smoky Joe Wood or "Smokey Joe" Williams?

Smoky Joe, in 1912, with the Boston Red Sox had a won/loss record of 34-5, 1.91 ERA, 35-complete games, 10-shutouts and the World Series title. His lifetime record was 117-W, 57-L,
Career ERA: 2.03. He started 225 career games, completing 121. In 1952 career at-bats he batted .283. In 1918, as a member of the Cleveland Indians he hit: AB-422, R-41,5-HR, 66-RBI. And in 1922 he hit: AB-505, R-74, H-150, HR-8, RBI-92, AVG.-.297.

I'm learning as I type this, he became a full-time player and no longer pitched. Altogether, very reminiscent of Babe Ruth. Although nowhere near Ruthian in numbers. Very respectable numbers nonetheless.

Now for "Smokey Joe" Williams...The Daddy of them all. From the Lone Star state.
Historian Jim Riley points to three performance against major league clubs as showcasing Joe Willamses exceptional talent.

In 1912, Williams shut out the World Champion New York Giants, 6-0.

In 1915, he struck out 10 batters while throwing a 3-hit shutout against Grover Cleveland Alexander and the Philadelphia Phillies, winning 1-0.

In 1917, he recorded 20 strikeouts in a no-hitter against the New York Giants (he lost 1-0 on an error).

In 1926, pitching for the Homestead Grays in what should've been the waning years of a great career the 50-year old wonder, daddy of them all, pitched successive shutout victories over a team of major league all-stars in a post-season exhibition series. That team included such future Hall of Famers as Heinie Manush, Harry Heilmann (from San Francisco) and Jimmie Foxx.

Jim Keenan, owner of the Lincoln Giants, said the greatest pitching duel he ever witnessed was when Walter "Big Train" Johnson bested "Smokey Joe" Williams by a score of 1-0.

Williams was to the first half of black baseball what Satchel Paige was to the second, the dominant pitcher of his age. (Page was the first Negro League inductee into Cooperstown, NY, in 1973. Smokey Joe had to wait until 1999 to posthumously receive his due.) from Shades of Glory by Lawrence D. Hogan.

(from the documentary on Baseball by Ken Burns)

Why it's baseball, you ask? Because it is like charity. It is never failing. It is always there except on Mondays or wet grounds. And to the man who is too old to keep up with the attempt to civilize football and too young to need so soothing a sedative as golf, who works hard when he works, wants to rest hard when he rests. Who wants drama that is as full of surprises for the actors as it is for the audience. Who wants a race that cannot be fixed like a horse race. Why, is so genuine and American that he wants something to kick about without meaning it. And something to yell about everyone around him will think more of him for yelling about. To that man, baseball is the one great life saver in the good old summertime.
- Los Angeles Times

"Baseball suits the character of this democratic nation. Democracy is government by persuasion. That means it requires patience. That means it involves a lot of compromise. Democracy is the slow politics of the half level. Baseball is the game of the long season. Where small incremental differences decide who wins and who loses particular games, series, seasons. In baseball, you know going to the ballpark that the chances are you may win but you also may lose.
There's no certainty, no given. You know when a season starts that the best team is going to get beaten one-third of the time, the worst team is going to win one-third of the time, the argument over 162 games, is the middle third. So it's a game that you can't like if winning is everything. And democracy is that way too." George Will, columnist.

"George Stallings was the manager of the Miracle Braves of 1914, who went from last place on July 4th to win the pennant and eventually the World Series, against the highly-favored Athletics. When he was dying, and the story goes, one of the would-be, soon-to-be mourners, said, "George, what's killing you?" Stallings replied, "Bases on balls." - Studs Terkel

Kevin J. Marquez