Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Green Light Letter by FDR

The Green Light Letter was a letter dated January 15, 1942, that was written by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and addressed to Judge Landis, the baseball commissioner.

The letter encourages baseball and its owners to continue playing during WWII.  Landis was concerned by a shortage of players as many men were in the service.

The letter gave baseball the green light to continue games not just to employ several thousand young men and players but to provide a diversion and recreation to millions of Americans.

My dear Judge:

Thank you for yours of January fourtheenth. As you will, of course, realize the final decision about the baseball season must rest with you and the Baseball club owners- so what I am going to say is solely a personal and not an official point of view.

I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going. There will be fewer people unemployed and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before.

And that means that they ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before.

Baseball provides a recreation which does not last over two hours or two hours and and half, and which can be got for very little cost. And, incidentally, I hope that night games can be extended because  it gives an opportunity  to the day shift to see a game occasionally.

As to the players themselves, I know you agree with me that the individual players who are active military or naval age should go, without question, into the services. Even if the actual quality to theteams is lowered by the greater use of older players, this will not dampen the popularity of the sport. Of course, if an individual has some particular aptitude in a trade or profession, he ought to serve the Government. That, however, is a matter which I know you can handle with complete justice.

Here is another way of looking at it- if 300 teams use 5,000 or 6,000 players, these players are a definite recreational asset to at least 20,000,000 of the fellow citizens - and that in my judgment is thoroughly worthwhile.

(thanks to

Kevin Marquez

Timing is Everything

Donald Barnes was the owner of the St. Louis Browns. And perhaps because he was tired of seeing the evergrowing dwindling number of fans attending the Browns' games (at Sportsman's Park) because he was working on a plan.

Barnes owned a chunk of Sportsman's Park and the St. Louis Browns was a money loser. The author, Kevin Nelson, of the Golden Game. The Story of California Baseball states:  Barnes had a plan. Move to Los Angeles. He checked into train schedules between California and the rest of the country, figuring ballclubs would be on the road more, criss-crossing between East and West, and travel costs would be higher.

He would have to sell Sportsman's Park. Then unload-for a fee- his territorial rights in St. Louis to the Cardinals, who would never have to worry about another baseball competitor in the city again.  With the money he would make from these deals he planned on buying Wrigley Field, in Los Angeles, and the Coast League Angels from Phil Wrigley. The Angels would leave town, clearing the way for the major leagues to begin play in Los Angeles by Opening Day of 1942.

Timing, in baseball and life, is everything, and Barnes's timing could not have been worse. The winter meetings of the owners took place December 8, 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor. Roughly 2400 American servicemen had been killed or wounded. The president of the United States declared war. It was believed or feared that California was next on the list of the Japanese and there was widespread doubt whether any baseball would be played during the war.

Nothing ever became of this plan and the Browns would eventually move to Baltimore in the early 1950s to become the Orioles.

(thanks to Kevin Nelson's aforementioned book for the info)

Kevin Marquez

Friday, March 23, 2012

"Prince Hal" Chase

"I wasn't satisfied with what the club owners paid me. Like others, I had to have a bet on the side and we used to bet with the other team and the gamblers who sat in the boxes. It was easy to get a bet. Sometimes collections were hard to make. Players would pass out IOUs and often be in debt for their entire salaries. That wasn't a healthy condition. Once the evil started there was no stopping it, and club owners were not strong enough to cope with the evil."

Harold Homer Chase born on February 13, 1883 in Los Gatos, California, played for the NY Highlanders (would later become the Yankees), Chicago White Sox, Buffalo Blues, Cincinnati Reds, and NY Giants.

Considered by many one of the best fielding first-basemen in the game, which had to lead to some suspicion when it was Chase who would boot balls to throw games he himself bet on.  Hal Chase would bet on his team to lose!

He was selected by the New York Highlanders from the Class-A Pacific Coast League Los Angeles Angels in a Rule 5 draft on October 4, 1904.

Chase played for the Highlanders until June 1, 1913 when he was traded to the Chicago White Sox. With New York he compiled 1182 hits, scored 551 runs while hitting 22 homers.

(per In 1910, the Yankees had a chance for the AL pennant, fighting against the White Sox for the flag.  In a mid-season game at Sportsman's Park, in St. Louis, manager George Stallings accused Chase of deliberately losing games.  Hal took offense.  Punches were about to be tossed but teammates intervened (the way baseball brawls usually do, you know like a dance hall scene except there's no music).  After the incident, Chase was not often penciled into Stallings' lineup. His accusation against Chase shocked the fans and team ownership. It was a charge that would follow Chase throughout his career.

President Ban Johnson, the head of the American League, said: "Stallings has utterly failed in his accusation against Chase. He tried to besmirtch the character of a sterling player. Anybody who know Hal Chase knows that he is not guilty of the accusation made against him, and I am happy to say that the evidence of the New York players given to Vice-President Somers this morning showed Stallings up."  According to the Hal Chase place site, President Johnson was obviously eager to disbelieve any charges against Chase. He didn't want the prize jewel of the New York franchise branded as a cheater. Johnson developed a protective attitude toward Chase and shielded him from controversy to maintain good will with the American League fans. The so-called thorough investigation by New York owners, Frank Farrell and Bill Devery never did take place.

In 1914, Chase found conflict playing for Charles Comiskey and quarreled about his contract. A feature of many of Comiskey's contracts, and of other clubs at the time, was a "ten day clause."  Meaning the team could terminate a player's contract within 10 days.

"At the time, Comiskey called me into his office and asked me to have the 10-day clause stricken from my contract. I demurred at this. A contract, it seemed to me, ought to bind both parties to the agreement. If that agreement allowed him to dispose of my services with ten days notice, I didn't see why I shouldn't enjoy the same privilege."  The next month, Comiskey and the White Sox took Chase to the Supreme Court. On July 9th, the White Sox and Hal met in court. Long before Curt Flood challenged baseball's reserve clause, Hal Chase found himself in the midst of a historic case against basebll ownership. Whether he was just motivated out of selfishness or principle in fighting his contract, the judge in the case saw his point. The ruling in the case of the Chicago White Sox vs. Hal Chase, as given by Judge Herbert Bissell, is as follows:

"While the services of these baeball players are ostensibley secured by voluntary contracts, a study of this system...reveals the involuntary character of the servitude which is imposed upon players by the strength of the combination controlling the labor of practically all of the players in this country. (This makes it) necessary for the player either to take the contract prescribed..or abandon baseball as a profession and seek some other livelihood...This system of servitude...provides for the purchase, sale, barter and exchange of the services of ball players, skilled laborers, without their consent...(the players servitude) under the operations of this plan of agreement is contrary to the spirit of American institutions (and) to the spirit of the Constitution of the United States...This court will not assist in enforcing an agreement which is part of a general plan having for its object the maintenance of a monopoly, interference with the personal liberties of a citizen, and the control of his free right to labor wherever and for whom he pleases."

(I wonder if Curt Flood's people (reps) referred to this case at any time during his case? In some manner of speaking for the ways of the world, however "layman's term" this may sound, Hal Chase's case vs. Comiskey's White Sox set the precedent and it should have been referred to as proof that this unfair treatment has been tolerated for too long.)     

In 1916, with the Cincinnati Redlegs, he led the National League in hitting, batting .339 and hits with 184.

Per the Wikipedia information on "Prince Hal" he played at a time 'when gambling was so rampant that whenever a player was not at his best, particularly in a big city such as New York, there were claims of players laying down, whether it was true or not.'

Midway through the 1918 season, Chase allegedly paid pitcher Jimmy Ring $50 to throw a game against the Giants. Christy Mathewson (the Reds manager) got wind of it and suspended Chase for the rest of the season. Although Mathewson brought formal charges against Chase for fixing games National League president, John Heydler acquitted him because he did not have enough evidence to convict "Prince Hal."

An "unknown individual" sent NL President Heydler a copy of a $500 check that Chase received from a gambler for thowing a game in 1918.  This was just the evidence Heydler needed to contact Giants' owner, Charles Stoneham, and order Stoneham to release Chase.

During this time, no American League team would sign Hal Chase (on the advice of Detroit Tiger manager, Hughie Jennings).  And as a result, Chase was effectively blackballed from the big leagues.

Hal Chase was a career .291 hitter, who scored 980 runs and had 2,158 base hits.  These are the numbers of someone who very well could have been voted into Cooperstown.  But NOT when you are blackballed from baseball. 

(thanks to and Wikipedia for their information on Hal Chase)

Kevin J. Marquez

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cap on Backwards

Adrian Constantine Anson, nicknamed "Cap," (which was short for captain) was born in Iowa.  He hated blacks and felt they shouldn't be allowed to play baseball because (to him) baseball was a white man's domain.  (Did he have bad experiences with this race or did he just prefer to remain ignorant on the subject of who African Americans were ?)

His authority contributed to the spread of what was understood (by those on the outside looking in) as "the unwritten rule."  The unwritten rule wasn't something etched in stone like the gloriously fabulous story of the Ten Commandments. It was the "word of mouth." 

If someone were to ask if they could see these "unwritten rules" no one would be able to present them.  These "rules" were and are a nod and a wink of ignorance and prejudice. Because Cap Anson-the best ballplayer at the time- would not play against the blacks (or anyone with a dark complexion) a vast majority of caucasians (who wanted to play the great game of baseball) became sheep as they fell prey to the so-called "unwritten rules."

Kevin J. Marquez

You Have Got to Get Something

When you have a pitching staff that consists of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Barry Zito there is going to be that time when you may not be able to pay one of these members.

It is for this reason that the Giants' front office has to get someone in a trade for the pitcher they cannot come to agreement with on a new contract.

What disturbs me is the idea that some team carelessly overpays someone (see Barry Zito) and this becomes the new standard for what a pitcher is "owed."  When really what should be factored into the equation is: Has the pitcher established that he is a winner -and- Is his team usually in the game when he starts? 

Get a ring and then you should be treated like royalty.  Eric Byrnes, the other night on his KNBR talk show, said, "You get paid for what you have done."  And he's right.  But the people who get together to determine the player's worth must not go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to the number of years figured into the contract.

Keep it at 3-years and you will generally get your money's worth.

Kevin J. Marquez

Monday, March 19, 2012

Charlie Sweeney Not "Winning" like that other Charlie

When you describe a ballplayer from the early days (Dead Ball Era) you really are painting the picture of a people who had more trials and tribulations than smiles and jubilation. It was a time when the men who were playing a boy's game were juvenile delinquents. And though they may have acquired street smarts they were ignorant as far as civility was concerned. That's why there was such a thing as the "unwritten rules" and it took until 1947 to allow people of color to enter the Big Leagues, an entirely white (Native American excepting) establishment.

A person who epitomized what a baseball player was was a San Franciscan-born pitcher named Charlie Sweeney. In a book,"The Golden Game, The Story of California Baseball," by Kevin Nelson he states: Charlie Sweeney was one of the bad boys of early California baseball. As rowdy and rebellious as he was talented. Sounds like a 21st century Charlie who made the news somewhat recently. I am speaking of Charlie Sheen, of course.

Nelson goes on to list some of Sweeney's forgettable moments which could only be enjoyed by the criminal element and that would then make these selected events "unforgettable."

One year, while in the middle of a game, he walked off the field for no reason and never came back, causing him to be kicked off his team and out of the California League.

He reappeared that same season in the American Association, then a major league. In 1894, while pitching for Providence, Sweeney struck out 19 Boston batters in a game. This was the first time such a feat occurred in major league history.

After arguing with his manager and getting kicked off Providence he bounced around the majors for a few years before returning to his old California League stomping grounds. In the winter of 1897, a visiting member of the New York Giants hit a home run in an exhibition game at the Haight Street Grounds, only to suddenly leave town on a train. One of the stories was that this Giant had licked Sweeney in a fight and Sweeney, in retaliation, had gone to fetch his pistol, causing the Giant to flee.

Seven years later Sweeney shot and killed a man in a barroom brawl. Convicted of manslaughter, he served four years in San Quentin Prison. His health failing, he received a pardon from the governor and a release from prison in the late 1890s. He returned to the California League as an umpire.

After officiating a game between Santa Cruz and Fresno he got word that the Fresno catcher thought a cane and sunglasses were in order for Sweeney the umpire. Sweeney sought out and attacked the outspoken backstop. He was arrested and bailed out of jail. He then fled to another city where a local sheriff tracked him down. While waiting to return to Fresno, he and the sheriff decided to sample some alcoholic beverages. The sheriff may have been a fan who enjoyed the tall tales Charlie Sweeney was telling because one drink became two then three. Do the math, there wasn't anything like light beer back then. The sheriff's delicate condition allowed Charlie to sneak his way towards freedom. (California League historian John E. Spalding says Sweeney may have never answered for those Fresno assault charges.)

Charlie Sweeney's poor health got him four years later. He died of tuberculosis. He was thirty-eight years old. (The tuberculosis infection is usually acquired from contact with an infected person, infected cow or drinking contaminated milk. Let your imagination run wild pondering what might have been the cause of Charlie's untimely demise.)

(thanks to the Kevin Nelson book on California baseball)

Kevin J. Marquez

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Around the Horn Look at Your 2012 San Francisco Giants

After I read an article on Bleacher by Augustin Kennady I felt the need to make some amendments and offer my own opinion on the person and his position.

With the catching position Kennady has Buster Posey starting and Eli Whiteside or Chris Stewart backing up the up and coming superstar. But after listening to a few pre-season games I offer that Hector Sanchez is making a good push to force the Giants to make Eli Whiteside a full-time coach. Thereby creating the backup spot for Stewart, with Sanchez on the roster as someone who could spell Posey as Posey increases his endurance and stamina. Imagine having Sanchez entering the game with his ability to hit, as a late-inning replacement.  It would cause the opposition to maintain an intense concentration because there would be very little drop off between the two batters. Those who bat before or after the Posey slot will likely see some good pitches to hit.

 At first base there is Aubrey Huff, Brandon Belt and Brett Pill all vying for playing time.  This is Huff's job to lose.  Now when camp breaks for the regular season the thought is to send Belt down to get every day playing time in Triple A- Fresno while keeping the veteran Brett Pill on the roster to come off the bench as a right-handed bat with some pop. He reminds me of Joel Youngblood because he is so versatile.

This is not a demotion for Belt but rather a chance for him to find his stroke and when he does the roster will be adjusted accordingly to find a spot for him.

Second base:  Freddy Sanchez, Mike Fontenot and Ryan Theriot.  All should see plenty of action, especially if Sanchez is unable to maintain his health.

Both Freddy Sanchez and Buster Posey would be good to get 100 games at catcher and second base respectively.  The remaining 62 games is why they have Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot and Chris Stewart.  Somebody not mentioned could also be a contributor such as Charlie Culberson.

There are still about 3 weeks before the season starts.  Soon the Giants will be trimming the roster to have a better idea of who will be around come the April 6th, opening day in Arizona to play the Diamondbacks.

Kevin J. Marquez

Thursday, March 8, 2012

U.S. History and Baseball

1896:  In the famous Plessy vs. Furgeson case the United States Supreme Court upholds Louisiana's law requiring "separate but equal" public facilities for blacks.  The decision firmly establishes the doctrine of racial segregation throughout the South and much of the nation.

1920- Andrew "Rube" Foster, renowned pitcher and owner of the Chicago Americans, calls Midwestern team owners to Kansas City.  The result of the meeting is the formation of the Negro National League.  Teams onboard:  Chicago American Giants, Chicago Giants, Dayton Marcos, Detroit Stars, Indianapolis ABCs, Kansas City Monarchs and Cuban Stars.

1920-  The Negro Southern League begins play in the South.  League cities include:  Atlanta, Nashville, Birmingham, Memphis, New Orleans and Chattanooga.

1923- Ed Bolden (owner of the Hilldale Club) and Nat Strong (owner of Brooklyn Royal Giants owner) organize the Eastern Colored League.  The six-team league consists of:  Brooklyn, Hilldale, Bacharach Giants, Lincoln Giants, Baltimore Black Sox and Cuban Stars (East).

1928- The Eastern Colored league disbands midseason.

1929-  The stock market crash and onset of the Great Depression places financial pressure on all of America, including Negro League baseball.

1930- The Kansas City Monarchs, among the more successful and prestigious clubs in black baseball withdraws from the Negro National League and returns to independent play.

1932- Just as Negro league baseball seemed to be at its lowest point along came Cumberland Posey and his Homestead Grays.  Posey got Charlie Walker, John Roesnick, George Rossiter, John Drew, Lloyd Thompson and L.R. Williams together and founded the East-West League in January.

Across town from Posey, Gus Greenlee, a reputed gangster and numbers runner, had just purchased the Pittsburgh Crawfords.  Greenlee's main interest in baseball was to use it as a way to launder money from his numbers games.  But after learning of Posey's money-making machine in Homestead, he became obsessed with the sport and his Crawfords.  Greenlee's ability to turn the Crawfords into a stellar club, build a ballpark, and reform the Negro National League rested on the revenue he generated from a system of organized gambling popularly called the numbers game.  The "numbers" derived from similar gambling games known by different names across diverse locales, including European peasant lotteries, "la bolita" in the Caribbean, and "policy" in New Orleans.  In this poor persons lottery, people could bet as little as a penny on a three-digit number based on daily stock transactions or the outcomes of horse races.   

 On August 6, 1931,  Satchel Paige made his first appearance as a Crawford.  With Paige on his team, Greenlee took a huge risk by investing $100,000 in a new ballpark to be called Greenlee Field.  (Art Rooney, Gus Greenlee's political ally, had his fledgling football team practice and play exhibitions there in 1933, its first season in the National Football League.) On opening day, April 30, 1932, the pitcher-catcher battery was made up of the two most marketable icons in black baseball:  Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson.

(thanks to wikipedia and negro league

Kevin J. Marquez

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Andrew "Rube" Foster

The Philadelphia Giants (yes the name "Giants" was a very popular name for Negro ball clubs), owned by Walter Schlicter, a white businessman, rose to prominece in 1903 when they lost to the Cuban X-Giants in their version of the "Colored Championship."  Leading the way for the Cubans was a young pitcher named Andrew "Rube" Foster. 

The following season, Schlichter, in the finest black baseball tradition, hired Foster away from the Cubans, and beat them in their 1904 rematch. Philadelphia remained on top of the black baseball world until Foster left the team in 1907 to play and manage the Leland Giants (Frank Leland renamed his Chicago Union Giants the Leland Giants in 1905).

Around the same time, Nat Strong, a white businessman, started using his ownership of baseball fields in the New York City area to become the leading promotoer of black baseball on the East coast. Just about any game played in New York, Strong would get a cut of the gate. Strong eventually used his leverage to almost put the Brooklyn Royal Giants out of business, and then he bought the club and turned it into a barnstorming team.

When (Rube) Foster joined the Leland Giants, he demanded that he be put in charge of not only the on-field activities, but the bookings as well.  Foster immediately turned the Giants into the team to beat. He indoctrinated them to take the extra base, to play hit and run on nearly every pitch, and to rattle the opposing pitcher by taking them deep into the count.  He studied the mechanics of his pitches and could spot the smallest flaw, turning his average pitchers  into learned craftsmen.  If that wasn't enough, Foster was also able to turn around the business end of the team by demanding and getting 40% of the gate versus the 10% that Frank Leland was getting.

As early as 1910, Foster started talking about reviving the concept of an all-black league. The one thing he was insistent upon was that black teams be owned by blacks.  This put him in direct competition with Nat Strong.  After 1912, Foster renamed his team the Chicago American Giants to appeal to a larger fan base.  During the same year, J.L. Wilkinson started the All Nations traveling team.  The All Nation team would eventually become one of the best-known and popular teams of the Negro Leagues, the Kansas City Monarchs.

On April 6, 1917, the United States entered World War I.  By the end of the war in 1919, Foster was ready to start a Negro baseball league.

On February 13-14, 1920, talks were held in Kansas City, Missouri that established the Negro National League and its governing body the National Association of Colored Professional Base Ball Clubs.  Foster was named the league president.  He controlled every aspect of the league, including which players played on which teams, when and where teams played, and what equipment was used (all of which had to be purchased from Rube himself).  As a booking agent of the league he took a 5% cut of all gate receipts.

You could say, and I am, that Andrew "Rube" Foster was a good businessman and a tyrannical person.  Much the same way some of the major league owners were back during this day and age. Although he may have been overbearing in his demands and appeared (to those whose perspective may have been on the outside looking in)  Andrew "Rube" Foster was known to have helped those out who couldn't make payroll because they were losing money.

A gas leak in his home nearly asphyxiated Rube Foster in 1926, but the toxic intake caused him to behave in an erratic manner.  In time he had to be committed to an asylum.

Foster died in 1930, never having recovered his sanity.  A year later the league he had founded disbanded.

(thanks to Wikipedia and inspiration from Rob Ruck's book, How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game.)

Kevin J. Marquez

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Look at Negro League Baseball per Wikipedia

I enjoy baseball because of its rich tradition and history.  And much like you always see something you never saw before when you go to a ballgame I seem to always discover something different in the facts about some facet of baseball.  Like most historians, I am always in search of accuracy about something rather than the embellished, suitable standard for what has been accepted over the years.

The Negro American League of 1951 is considered the last major league season and the last professional club, the Indianapolis Clowns, operated amusingly rather than competitively from the mid-1960s into the 1980s.  No doubt consisting of players past their prime because when the integration of the major leagues began in 1947 these players had either missed out for one reason or another.

Let's go to the Wayback Machine to review the history of Negro Baseball.

1888 was the last season blacks were permitted in that or any other high minor league.  The first black professional baseball team was formed in 1885 when the Babylon Black Panthers, formed by waiters and porters from the Argyle Hotel in Babylon, New York were spotted by white businessman from Trenton, New Jersey, Walter S. Cook.  Cook renamed them the Cuban Giants so that he could attract more white fans.  Shortly after the Giants' formation, the Jacksonville, Florida newspaper, the Leader, assembled the first Negro league, the Southern League of Base Ballists.

The early "Cuban" teams were all composed of African Americans rather than Cubans:  the purpose was to increase their acceptance with white patrons as Cuba was very friendly terms with the US during those years.

Then President Rutherford B. Hayes signed the Compromise of 1877, and all the legal obstacles were removed from the South's enacting the Jim Crow laws. On July 14, 1887, Cap Anson's Chicago White Stockings were scheduled to play the Newark Giants of the International League, which had Fleet Walker and George Stovey on its roster. After Anson marched his team onto the field, military style as was his custom, he demanded that the blacks not play. Newark capitulated, and later that same day, league owners voted to refuse future contracts to blacks, citing the "hazards" imposed by such athletes.

In 1888, the Middle States League was formed and it admitted two all-black teams to its otherwise all-white league, the Cuban Giants and their arch-rivals, the New York Gorhams.  Despite the animosity between the two clubs, they managed to form a traveling team, the Colored  All-Americans.  This enabled them to make money barnstorming while fulfilling their league obligations.  In 1890, the Giants returned to their independent, barnstorming identity, and by 1892, they were the only black team in the East still in operation on a full-time basis.

After a stint with the Gorhams, Bud Fowler caught on with a team out of Findlay, Ohio. While playing in Adrian, Michigan, Fowler was persuaded by two white local businessmen, L.W. Hoch and Rolla Taylor to help them start a team financed by the Page Woven Wire Fence Company, the Page Fence Giants.  The Page Fence Giants went on to become a powerhouse team that had no home field.  Barnstorming through the Midwest, they would play all comers.  Their success became the prototype for black baseball for years to come.  

After the 1898 season, the Page Fence Giants were forced to fold because of finances. Alvin H. Garrett, a black businessman in Chicago, and John W. Patterson, the left fielder for the Page Fence Giants, reformed the team under the name of the Columbia Giants.  In 1901, the Giants folded due to a lack of somewhere to play. Frank Leland bought the Giants in 1905 and merged it with his Unions (despite the fact that not a single Giant player ended up on the roster) and named the team, the Leland Giants.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sign Stealing (from the Book of Baseball Codes by Jason Turnbow)

One day Bob Turley, a right-handed pitcher, was watching the game.  Talking to himself he would say what the pitch was that was about to be thrown.  Mickey Mantle overheard him, and inquired about what it was exactly that Turley was doing.  Once Mantle found out, word quickly spread among the team's hitters about Turley's skills. Turley once estimated he "probably called the pitch on half the home runs (Mantle) hit."

Turley's relay system was simple-he'd whistle whenever a pitche was different from the last one. Hitters would start every at-bat looking for a curveball, and if a fastball was coming, so was Turley's whistle. He'd then stay silent until something else was called. The pitcher was so good that when he went on the disabled list in 1961, manager Ralph Houk would not let him go home, instead keeping him with the team to decipher pitches.  (Roger Maris, in fact, hit his 61st home run of 1961 on a pitch he knew was coming because third base coach Frank Crosetti, doing his best Turley imitation, whistled in advance of a fastball.)

Eventually other teams caught on. One time, with Mickey Mantle at the plate, Detroit pitcher Jim Bunning turned to Turley in the first-base coach's box and told him that another whistle would result in a potentially painful consequence for the hitter.  Sure enough, Turley whistled on Bunning's first pitch, a fastball which Mantle let go.  With Bunning's next pitch he knocked down Mantle.  The on-deck batter was Yogi Berra.  When it was Yogi's turn to bat, Berra turned toward the mound, cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, "Jim, he's whistling, but I ain't listening!"

(Classic Yogi from a book with classic stories such as the aforementioned.)

Kevin Marquez

Sam Lacy

While in college Sam Lacy covered sports part-time for the Washington tribune, a local African-American newspaper.  He joined the newspaper full time in 1926.  During that time he wrote that Clark Griffith's voicing his concern that the fall of the Negro League would "put about 400 colored guys out of work." 

Lacy's response to that was, "When Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, he put 400,000 black people out of jobs."

Lacy is an excellent, creative writer who has done some good stuff on Negro League baseball and is well-worth anyone's time to check it out.

Kevin Marquez