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Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category

Willie Davis, who succeeded Duke Snider as the center fielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers and used his blazing speed to steal 20 or more bases 11 straight years, led the National League in triples twice and set a record of three stolen bases in a World Series game, was found dead on Tuesday at his home in Burbank, Calif. He was 69. . . .

“Frank McCourt, the owner of the Dodgers, said in a statement that Davis was ‘one of the most talented players ever to wear a Dodgers uniform.’ Davis played 14 seasons for the Dodgers, on teams that were almost immediately the stuff of legend. Among his teammates were Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Maury Wills. His 31-game hitting streak in 1969 is still a team record. It was the longest streak in the majors since Dom DiMaggio’s 34 games in 1949 for the Boston Red Sox.

“Davis holds six other franchise records, including hits (2,091), extra-base hits (585), at-bats (7,495), runs (1,004), triples (110) and total bases (3,094).

“Davis lifetime batting average was .279, and he had a total of 398 stolen bases. He made it to the major leagues in 1960 and retired after the 1979 season.

“Over his career, he played more than 2,200 games in center field, was a two-time All-Star and a three-time Gold Glove winner for his defense. He won World Series rings in 1963 and 1965, stealing three bases in one inning in the 1965 Series.” (more @ NY Times)

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I’m not sure why I feel compelled to post this, but:

SCOTUS_baseball_card“If you’re a fan of the U.S. Supreme Court bobbleheads that can be found on the desks of powerhouse lawyers and law professors nationwide, then you’ll like the next brainchild of the bobbleheads’ creator: Supreme Court baseball cards.

“The first one, commemorating Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. as the Court’s ‘pitcher,’ has been issued to cognoscenti who subscribe to the unconventional law review Green Bag. Editor Ross Davies, who commissioned the bobbleheads, cooked up the trading cards too.

“Roberts is shown in the image of Mordecai ‘Three Fingers’ Brown, the famed Chicago Cubs pitcher who, like Roberts, grew up in Indiana. In the background is legendary umpire Bill Klem — a nod to Roberts’ 2005 statement that the Court must strive to be a ‘fair and unbiased umpire.'” (more @ Law.com)

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Shameless self-promotion, I know, but . . .

Anson Program“Since the 1970s, as a collector, as a dealer, and as an auctioneer (one-half of the highly respected Sloate & Smolin Auctions and the sole owner of About Time Auctions), Jerry Smolin has been well known as a baseball historian and as a true connoisseur of baseball memorabilia. He is one of the few collectors or dealers whose experience spans from the earliest days of the organized hobby as we know it to the present day, and he is universally respected and recognized as a true scholar in the field.  Some of the greatest treasures of baseball memorabilia of all types, especially nineteenth-century items, including cards, photography, documents, and display pieces, have passed through his hands in private sales and at auction over the past thirty years. One special area of personal collecting interest that has been a constant for all these many years has been early baseball programs. This collection of thirty-five programs (which will be presented in twenty-eight lots) was assembled with great care and patience, and with an eye for quality, rarity, historical significance, and display value. This is by far the best collection of early baseball programs we have ever offered or even seen in one place. Only the best examples of their type were added to the collection, one program at a time, armed with a great appreciation and an unmatched knowledge of what is special in the field of program collecting.” (cont’d @ Robert Edward Auctions)

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Smalling“A mail carrier arrives at a suburban four-bedroom home here each day with more postcards and envelopes than anyone else in the neighborhood receives, unsure of why the house gets so much mail or why it has its own ZIP code extension.

“If the carrier stepped inside, she would find the reason: 2308 Van Buren Avenue is the unlikely headquarters for an ongoing effort to collect the home address of every living major league baseball player, umpire, manager and coach. She would also find the solitary man behind the effort: Jack Smalling, a widowed 68-year-old crop insurance salesman.

“On Tuesday, Mr. Smalling will begin shipping the 15th edition of  ‘The Baseball Autograph Collector’s Handbook,’ a listing of home addresses for nearly 8,000 major leaguers, from Aardsma (David) to Zimmer (Thomas) — with Bench (Johnny), Mays (Willie) and Pujols (Albert) in between.

“Mr. Smalling started collecting autographs in 1962 and soon began constructing the address list to help fellow collectors send requests to players. He has more than 100,000 autographs in his personal collection.” (cont’d @ NY Times)

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Harry_Wright_SeatedHarry Wright, a Hall of Fame manager and pioneer during professional baseball’s gestation period in the 19th century, kept his letters in scrapbooks along with pictures and ledgers from his distinguished career. These faded pieces of paper are fragile evidence of some of the earliest business practices in baseball.

Hunt Auctions was scheduled to sell some of the items on July 14 at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game FanFest in St. Louis. But the letters have been temporarily pulled from the auction after drawing the attention of the F.B.I. because of the possibility that they were taken years ago from the New York Public Library.

“The letters were written to Wright, who was the manager, the general manager and a center fielder for the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, considered the first team of all paid players. A year before his death in 1895, Wright willed his archives to professional baseball’s two major leagues. The materials were donated to the library in 1921, and some of them vanished more than 20 years ago.

“The library lists as missing three scrapbooks of letters written to Wright during the 1870s, ’80s and ’90s. Of the 25 lots linked to Wright in the auction, at least 23 are from the same period as the missing scrapbooks. Only one other scrapbook remains at the library.” (cont’d @ NY Times)

Update: (7/5/09) Another Clue That Baseball Auction Has Stolen Items

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CB021034“Slang is like a breeze; it softly comes and goes, as new times bring new buzzwords. Some stick (‘cool’ defiantly endures); some induce cringes when dusted off (‘groovy’ is now in the dustbin of irony). It’s obvious when slang becomes less funny or less meaningful through overuse: ‘Internets,’ for example, has become too widespread to be implicitly derisive of George W. Bush. Slang, in other words, is inevitably ephemeral–but it’s not always incidental. When hip-hop listeners crack the codes of songs en masse, rappers know it’s time to invent anew. The refusal of normative, dominant culture–beginning with the fundamentals of language–is embedded in the form. Baseball vernacular, for its part, isn’t so expressly political, nor is its obscurity as deliberate. Baseball belongs to the same class of folklore as, say, jazz, hamburgers and even hip-hop–but to employ Ken Burnsian hyperbole about the significance of its wordplay is a tough sell. It is what it is. As [Paul Dickson, author of The Dickson Baseball Dictionary] writes, it’s ‘low-key and light’–slang for its own sake. In other words, the richness of baseball’s old, weird vernacular is pure, pointless creativity. . . .

“Baseball slang is an avalanche of skewed logic. The commonest words take on very precise meanings. ‘Stuff’ refers quite specifically to the totality of a pitcher’s arsenal: his array of pitches and the velocity and movement with which he throws them. A pitcher can easily have good stuff but not succeed if his ‘command’–the ability to locate pitches accurately–is erratic. Terms associated with dirt and filth are highly complimentary. A hitter respectfully calls an excellent pitcher ‘filthy,’ a term that evolved out of common adjectives from a decade ago: ‘nasty’ and ‘dirty.’ ‘Dirtbags’ and ‘dirt dogs’ are consummate hustlers, guys with perpetually soiled uniforms and caps and batting helmets stained with sweat, tobacco juice and pine tar. Naturally, dirtbags and dirt dogs play ‘dirtball.’ A player who is ‘pretty’ is the opposite of a dirtbag, as is a ‘muffin.’ Food references are as prevalent as the television announcers who longingly mention the hallowed postgame buffet in the players’ clubhouse. The ball itself can be an egg, apricot, apple or stitched potato. ‘Jelly beans’ are rookies and inexperienced kids, the type a veteran might relentlessly call bush for a year before acknowledging him properly. Reaching base for your team’s big hitters is ‘setting the table.’ ‘Fat’ pitches are hittable ones, almost exclusively delectable treats, my favorite being ‘ham-and-cheese.'” (more @ The Nation)

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Kerouac Baseball“Almost all his life Jack Kerouac had a hobby that even close friends and fellow-Beats like Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs never knew about. He obsessively played a fantasy baseball game of his own invention, charting the exploits of made-up players like Wino Love, Warby Pepper, Heinie Twiett, Phegus Cody and Zagg Parker, who toiled on imaginary teams named either for cars (the Pittsburgh Plymouths and New York Chevvies, for example) or for colors (the Boston Grays and Cincinnati Blacks).

“He collected their stats, analyzed their performance and, as a teenager, when he played most ardently, wrote about them in homemade newsletters and broadsides. He even covered financial news and imaginary contract disputes. During those same teenage years, he also ran a fantasy horse-racing circuit complete with illustrated tout sheets and racing reports. He created imaginary owners, imaginary jockeys, imaginary track conditions.

“All these ‘publications,’ some typed, some handwritten and often pasted into old-fashioned composition notebooks, are now part of the Kerouac archive at the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library. The curator, Isaac Gewirtz, has just written a 100-page book about them, ‘Kerouac at Bat: Fantasy Sports and the King of the Beats,’ to be published next week by the library and available, at least for now, only in the library gift shop.” (cont’d @ NY Times)

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