Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Some Snipets from Ken Burns' 1st and 2nd Innings

I'm finally getting around to watching the Ken Burns special on Baseball. I watched it when it first came out but like most good movies (or productions) there are usually parts you either missed or didn't allow to sink in that you "got" the second or third time around. I am now jotting things down that have some significance in the game I love following, as well as playing.
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A batter has only a few thousandths of a second to decide to hit the ball. And yet the men that fail 7 out of 10 times are considered the game's greatest heroes.

Baseball is the only game in which the defense has the ball.

Ninety feet from home plate to first base. Think of the plays at first base. If it were 88 feet there would be few double plays. If it were ninety-four feet we'd be throwing out batters from all over the field. If someone decided 90 feet was a good number it was more like a pick from heaven.

To further solidify their control, owners added a reserve clause to the contract of 5 of the best players on the team. It provided that they only played for their club and reserved their services for the following year. At first, a few complained, but to be reserved was to be sure of a job in the coming season. Those who vehemently complained that the reserve clause smacked of slavery were fired, then blacklisted.

Men who were crazy about baseball were called: bugs or cranks
Women who were crazy about baseball were called: crankettes

(George Carlin's definition of crazy goes like this: A maniac beats the heck out of several people with a big steel dildo. A crazy person beats the bejeezus out of several people with a steel dildo while wearing a bunny suit.)

To help the sale of cigarettes baseball cards were introduced.

"Baseball is the very symbol the outward and visible expression of the drive and push and rush and struggle of the raging, tearing, booming 19th century." - Mark Twain

In 1884, Louis Rogers "Pete" Browning, of the Louisville Colonels, broke his bat. The star hitter got an offer from Bud Hillerich to make him a new bat. It was the first Louisville slugger.

"The great lesson in sports is supposed to be you not only learn the elation of winning but you learn how to lose. There's a lot of emphasis and a British attitude toward sports. And Americans have it too. But there's something very American about being a poor loser. Refusing to shake the other fella's hand, saying he's a scoundrel. He always was a scoundrel, he's even more of a scoundrel now that he's beaten me. There's something likable about that... it's bad sportsmanship." Shelby Foote ( who was also in Ken Burns' PBS documentary, The Civil War.)

I think I'm going to jot down some more interesting little ditties on Baseball for the remaining of innings 1 thru 9. I find it very interesting. I hope anyone who reads this also enjoys the accounts of America's pasttime.

Kevin J. Marquez