Friday, February 11, 2011

Ken Burns, 7th and 8th innings...1960s...

When I was in the army I was lonesome, I missed baseball. There was a World Series. I went to the PX to listen to the World Series game on the radio. And I was sitting there feeling a long, long way from home. Hot climate, no sense of autumn, the Fall Classic. And an old sergeant came in. He's sitting down in front of me and he took out a cigar and lit it and that cigar smoke drifted back into my face. And I could smell the Polo Grounds. I felt at home. It smelled. It smelled of urine, it smelled of cigar smoke, it smelled of stale popcorn but it was my place.
- Robert Creamer

Ted Williams was called Toothpick Ted along with the more popular Splendid Splinter. I thought this was an awesome nickname and now after seeing the Toothpick Ted, I'm thinking it was more of a ribbing on his build.

Anywho, in 1941, his .406 season, he finished the season in Philadelphia against the A's. Going into his last game(s) (a doubleheader) his average was .39955. Which would have rounded off to .400. But people would always point to that if he decided against playing the season-ending doubleheader.

The A's catcher told Williams that Mr. Mack (Connie) said we're going to pitch to you today.

"Just before the pitcher was ready to pitch, Bill McGowan, did like all home plate umpires do, turned his rear-end toward centerfield and brushed off home plate and he said, 'in order to hit .400 you got to be loose.' I'll never forget that."

(Williams got 6 hits in 8 at-bats that day.) -Ted Williams

Larry McPhail, was the Cincinnati Reds general manager the night of May 24, 1935. He arranged with Franklin D. Roosevelt to turn on lights for the first night game in major league baseball (between the Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds).

McPhail was a champion of radio. He was sure broadcasting would increase ticket sales while other owners thought otherwise. In 1938, when McPhail left Cincinnati for Brooklyn he took Red Barber with him.

A sportswriter recalled: With no drinks he was brilliant. With one he was a genius. With two he was insane. And rarely did he stop at one.

The Dodgers at Ebbets Field had a band known as the Dodger's Sym-phony. It was coined by announcer Red Barber. He says, "with an emphasis on PHONY because they didn't play music. They just made noise."

In December 1944, a Japanese ship was torpedoed off the island of Formosa. Among those on-board was 26-year old, E.G. Salamura, who once struck out Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth in an exhibition game.
Female League.
Sophie Curry, nicknamed Tina Cobb, averaged 100 stolen bases a season. One year she stole 201 in 203 attempts.
Annabelle Lee, whose nephew Bill "Spaceman" Lee pitched for the Boston Red Sox and Montreal Expos, once threw a perfect game for the Minneapolis Millerettes.
There is no rule, formal or informal or any understanding, unwritten, suberranean or sub-anything against the hiring of Negro players by the teams of organized ball. - Kenneshaw M. Landis

He had helped restore the game's integrity after the 1919 Black Sox scandal. He had also done all he could to keep it white.

When the Pittsburgh Pirates had sought permission to hire Josh Gibson, in 1943, Landis bluntly refused. 'The colored ballplayers have their own league. Let them stay in their own league."

When Bill Veeck, Jr. attempted to buy the eighth place Philadelphia Phillies and re-staff them with stars from the Negro Leagues, Landis made sure the team was sold to someone else.

And when Leo Durocher told a newspaper man that he'd seen plenty of blacks good enough for the big leagues, Landis forced "the Lip" to claim he had been misquoted.

On July 6, 1944, a young Army Lt., Jack Roosevelt Robinson got on a bus. The driver ordered him to go to the back of the bus, 'where he belonged.' Robinson refused and was court martialed. But the Army judges found Robinson fully within his rights and acquitted him.

A few days later, Kenneshaw Mountain Landis died at the age of 77.

February 1, 1947... I know the real reason Josh Gibson died. I don't need a doctor's report for confirmation either. He was murdered by big league baseball. - Pittsburgh Courier

Gibson was 35-years old when he died of a stroke. There was no money to pay for a gravestone.
"I think losing is what baseball is about, in the end. We think it's about winning but as we go on as fans and even as players I think we discover that's really what it's about. There's much more losing in it. Afterall, the batter only succeeds one-third of the time, at best. And this runs very deeply in baseball.

A season goes along and the fans realize that their hopes are not going to be fulfilled. Once again, they're going to be heartbroken at the end." - Roger Angell

"Branch Rickey is a con man. Brilliant, fascinating, aerodyte but still a con man. I've been listening to him for 25 years. I've always been impressed, seldom been enlightened. The trick of the con man is to weave a spell. In this, Branch Rickey stands alone. Not since the days of William Jennnigs Bryant and Billy Sunday has any man fallen so deeply in love with the melodic quality of his own voice." - Joe Williams, New York World Telegram

"They picked him because of who he was and what he was. Sure the baseball skill was important but there were other skilled players. Monte Irvin was who everyone expected to be the first. But Robinson had a determination, an ability to, on the one hand turn the other cheek, but on the other hand, as he turned the cheek he let the person (who was his antagonist) know that he would come around again. - Daniel Okrent
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Said Curt Flood: I was told by a general manager that a white player had received a higher raise than me because white people required more money to live than black people. That is why I wasn't going to get a raise.
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Willie Mays...born in Westfield, Alabama. Only 19 when he signed with the New York Giants in 1951. In the outfield, he recorded the stunning number of 7, 095 putouts, most in major league history.
Joe DiMaggio once said Mays had the best arm he'd ever seen.

"Willie Mays was not the first black ballplayer but he had his own barrier to break. A kind of gentle good-natured racism but racism nonetheless. You remember when he came up people would say, 'What an instinctive ballplayer he is. What a natural ballplayer he is. What childlike enthusiasm... Well, thirty years on we can hear, with our better trained ears, the racism in that. He was wonderfully gifted. Yes. Great natural gifts, yes. But no one ever got to the majors on natural gifts. Without an awful lot of refining work. Sure, he was a great instinctive ballplayer. But he was also a tremendously smart ballplayer. As a rookie, he'd get to second base, watch two batters come to the plate and he would go back to the dugout having stolen the signs and decoded the sequence he'd known the indicator signs from the other signs. Willie Mays, natural ballplayer? Sure. Hardest working ballplayer you ever saw." George Will

Casey Stengel, the "Ole Perfessor," according to Robert Creamer.
I think Stengel is the most interesting man, except for Ruth, who ever appeared in baseball. Unfortunately, his methods became that of a clown, a man who talked stengelese, double-talk. He knew more about the game than anyone I ever talked to. He was the smartest man, I think he had a tremendous basic intelligence. Not much education, barely got through high school. And went to dental school for a couple of years studying the mechanical skills of a dentist, and he would have been a dentist if he hadn't played baseball. But he had this intuitive intelligence. He would look at things, he would see things, he would sense things. Anyway, he would talk if he didn't want you to understand him, he would say, 'Well, this thing and that thing or the other. He'd talk this way and that way. He also sometimes panicked. He couldn't stand dead air. And if somebody asked him something he just wouldn't stand there and say, "Um," he would start to talk. And say, 'Well, this talk about that fella there he's pretty good..And you take the other guy out in left field and I could bring him in and use that fella back there...And he just jumbled it that way. But he knew what he was saying. And sometimes the things came out. He's a man who said,"there's a time in every man's life and I've had plenty of them." And that's a marvelous expression.
Stan "the Man" Musial finished his Hall of Fame career with 3,630 base hits. 1815 on the road, and 1815 at home. How about that?
(on the Ken Burns Baseball documentary. George Will made mention of it. Segment, was 7th & 8th innings...1960s.)

Sandy Koufax, when asked, "What is your thought about the loss of income?"
"Let's put it this way... if there are men who did not have use of one of his arms and you told him it'd cost a lot of money and he could buy back that use he'd give them every dime he had, I believe. That's my feeling. And, in a sense, maybe this is what I'm doing. I don't know. I've got a lot of years to live after baseball. I would like to live them with complete use of my body. I don't regret one minute of the last 12 years but I think I would regret one year that was too many."
"My father and I had nothing in common, sad to say. Nothing 'cept baseball. My father took me to Yankee Stadium in 1959. I was 7-years old. Yankees lost to the Orioles, 7-2. Mantle didn't play, he was hurt. And at that time after the game was over you could leave by way of the field. They would open up the bullpen gates and you could walk around the warning track. Take in the entire, majestic, enormous ball park. And then walk out the back of the bullpen into the street. The game was over and my father took me by the hand and walked me past the dugouts, looked into those dugouts and thought to myself, at age 7, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, sat in there. And I was careful. Careful not to disturb anything. Looked down at the red clay of the warning track. But it wasn't my place to kick it, to move it around! I was a visitor, I was being allowed to see this. And we got out to dead centerfield to the monuments...Where Ruth and Huggins and Gehrig were... And I stood there at 7-years old and started to cry. And part of that was just the surroundings. So impressive. The facade, the enormity of the place. A 7-year old kid literally could not see over the mound from that distance. Home plate looked like it was a mile away. Place was so imposing. But also, I really thought that these guys were buried there. I thought that this was a sacret Yankee burial ground. And surely when DiMaggio passed away, when Mantle passed away, they'd be buried there too. And my father tried to explain to me, 'Yes, these men are dead, but they're buried someplace else.' I would have none of it. I was convinced that that was their tombstone.

If you asked me, what is the happiest memory of your father? To me, that was it."
-Bob Costas

(There still is a little more tape left for the 7th & 8th innings. We shall see if there's more to add to this blog. Thanks to the job well done by Ken Burns. And his orator, John Chancellor.)

Kevin J. Marquez