Entries Tagged as 'Baseball History'

Minnie Minoso: ‘Respect the Game’

pioneering latinos 050

(From L to R:  Bernardo Ruiz, Dr Adrian Burgos, Orestes ‘Minnie’ Minoso, and Fernando Perez)

I went to tonight’s ‘Fireside Chat’ put on by the University of Illinois Latino/Latina Studies program.  The topic was Pioneering Latinos: Building a Legacy on and Beyond the Playing Field.  Hosted by U of I professor Adrian Burgos, the panelists on the stage were impressive. 

pioneering latinos 048Orestes ‘Minnie’ Minoso, who played for the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians during the integration of baseball, headlined the event.  At age 86, he’s still pretty vivacious.  Minoso (left), a Cuban national and was the first black to play baseball in town of Chicago (He received an award presented by Dr Burgos on behalf of the U of I Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Planning Committee marking the 60th  anniversary of that event), told a lot of stories from his days with the White Sox.  A overriding theme throughout the night with Mr Minoso was ‘respect the game’. 


Another panelist came from a slightly different perspective.  Fernando Perez is a current baseball player drafted by the Tampa Rays and was recently traded to the Chicago Cubs.  Perez (right) is no dumb jock.  He graduated pioneering latinos 056-1 from Columbia in American  Studies and Creative Writing.  Not only that, he’s apparently put some of that learnin’ to good use.  He’s published a couple essays in the past few years and written for a blog for the New York Times (here’s an example of his work from 2009).  I found Perez quite thoughtful and well-reasoned especially considering his youth.  Seeing that he’s been traded to the Cubs, now I just hope he can hit.  


pioneering latinos 044Finally, Bernardo Ruiz is the director of the film ‘Roberto Clemente’.  I must admit I have not seen ‘Clemente’ yet but now I want to.  Ruiz (left) said that he made the movie  because there was not a film out that adequately addressed Clemente and his life.  He wanted to tell his story.  He encouraged people to not stop there as there other stories around Latino baseball that still need to be told. 


It was nice to see former Negro League pitcher and Champaign native Ernie Westfield in the audience.  It was even better when Dr Burgos introduced him  pioneering latinos 033and had him read a poem before the panel discussion.  Westfield (right) is a hidden treasure in Champaign-Urbana.  No, I’m not a big poetry fan but I could listen to Westfield’s poems any day. 

Thanks to the Department of Latina/Latino Studies and Dr Burgos for putting on the Pioneering Latinos event.  I know Burgos is a great fan of Mr Minoso (and he said so at the event).  This must have been a fulfilling project for him. 

  More photos of the event here.

Pioneering Latinos event coming soon

Another local note:  A collaboration billed as “Pioneering Latinos: Building a Legacy on and Beyond the Playing Field is coming up soon here at the University of Illinois.  It’s generating some real interest among baseball fans and Latino activists alike. 

Events will span a couple days… January 19-20 and will include a movie showing of Roberto Clemente, a lunchtime speaker plus a nightly “fireside chat” with former Sox player Minnie Minoso

It will feature some other big names, too.  Besides Minoso, 2008 Rays’ Minor League Player of the Year Fernando Perez is speaking  Perez is now with the Cubs’ organization.  Bernardo Ruiz who directed the film, Roberto Clemente will also speak. 

For more information, browse to the University of Illinois Latina/Latino Studies web site where they have more details. 

Zealot friend and U of I professor, Adrian Burgos will be facilitating the event and was key in putting this all together. 

All events are free to the public.

Spalding’s Base Ball Guide online at the Library of Congress


Baseball history buffs should check out the Library of Congress’ archives of Spalding Base Ball Guides.  These archives range from 1889 to 1939 and contain a wealth of historical information on National and American League base ball when the game we loved was spelled with two words) as well as some minor league info too. 

Be forewarned, the pages of Spalding’s are scanned images and therefore not searchable or indexed.  If you want to find something you’ll have look for it,  But I guarantee if you’re a fan of old time base ball, the search itself will be worth it. You’ll run across some neat news tidbits and photos along the way.

Thanks to Cluke for passing this along!  He wrote:

I was just geeky enough as a 14 year old and then later to spend many hours looking up old microfilm of newspapers and getting into the sports section (and other stuff) for hours at a time.If it’s old baseball stats- I never tire of it. The digital age is great for browsing from home but there’s nothing like the old micro film of the Trib and the times to follow along with past seasons of the Sox.
Funny, I remember using microfilm back in the days before the Internet, too.  I was replaying the 1970 National League using the APBA Baseball Game while in college and the University of Illinois library archives allowed me to look up the box scores of that year.  Not unlike browsing the Spalding Guides, in the process of searching for the box scores, I ran across some gems of articles. 

Burgos to speak at UI

For those in the Champaign-Urbana area, professor and noted author Adrian Burgos will be giving a talk at the Y Friday Forum this week.  The title of the talk is “Playing for the Dream? Baseball, Latinos, Immigration and the American Dream”. 

Burgos is an associate professor at the University of Illinois and has wrote Playing America’s Game: Baseball, Latinos and the Color Line (a good book if you haven’t read it).  He specializes in Latino and race relations and yes, baseball,

Friday, October 15 · 12:00pm – 1:30pm
More details at the University YMCA’s website.

Game 7 of 1960 World Series to be shown on MLB Network

Pirate fans, Yankee-haters and baseball history buffs rejoice!  Game Seven of the 1960 World Series will be shown on television this off-season

All thanks to Bing Crosby who reportedly had the last copy of the game:

The copy had been in a vault Crosby built in his home and was discovered last year by an executive of Bing Crosby Enterprises. No other copy is known to have existed for nearly 40 years.

The game will be broadcast on MLB Network sometime this off-season.

Al Hrabosky the Mad Hungarian

Bruce Markusen has a very well-researched piece The Hardball Times all about a player I remember from one of my favorite era of baseball, the 70s- Al Hrabosky.

I remember the Mad Hungarian well.  What I didn’t know was how he got his nickname:

The unusual routine prompted a nickname from the Cardinals’ front office. The team’s public relations director, Jerry Lovelace, began calling Hrabosky “The Mad Hungarian.” The name, which accurately reflected his heritage, caught on with writers, broadcasters and fans, giving Hrabosky one of the most identifiable alter egos of his time, or any other for that matter.

Just think, the club front office not only approved but capitalized on Hrabosky’s behavior.

No doubt I’ve said this before but I wonder if Al’s stomping around the mound and talking to the ball would be tolerated in today’s world.  The 70s were a more colorful time (in more ways than one… you’ve seen the uniforms) and probably a little more tolerant of differences and eccentricities.  

Sadly, if Hrabosky tried to pull what he did in 2010, someone would complain, there would be an investigation by an appointed MLB committee and a 50-page policy written up detailing what is acceptable and not acceptable. 

Miss you. Al.

80 years ago today: Joe Sewell fans twice

Joe_Sewell Eighty years ago today, something happened that has occurred only twice ever. 

Joe Sewell struck out twice in one game. 

Sewell, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977, was famous for his penchant for contact hitting.  In 14 seasons and 7132 career at-bats, he fanned only 114 times.  In nine straight full-time seasons between 1925 and 1933, he never went into double digits in Ks.

And yet on May 26, 1930 as a member of the Cleveland Indians ballclub, he struck out twice at the hands of White Sox pitcher Pat Caraway.  For his part, Caraway wasn’t much of a flamethrower.  For his career, he only struck out 2.8 batters per nine innings. 

Seeing that it was relatively early in the season, I suppose some wondered if Sewell was losing his touch.  Instead, he finished the 1930 season striking out only one more time.  That total of three strikeouts was tied for his lowest total in his career.

Sewell had struck out twice in a game earlier in his career in 1923.  That year he had the obscene total of 12 strikeouts.

Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB Pos. Summary
1930-05-26 (2) CLE CHW W 5-2 4 4 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 2 0 3B
1923-05-13 CLE WSH W 5-2 4 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 1 SS
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/26/2010.

1961- Jim Gentile’s career year


A few posts I posted a trivia question of sorts.  Who came in third in the 1961 MVP voting after Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle.  My only hint was that this player had superior BA/OBP/SLG than Maris, the winner of the award. 

The answer, easily looked up of course, is Jim Gentile. 

Kudos to DonS who texted me the answer the next morning.  It took him two tries (his first was Norm Cash, a good guess).

In some ways, Gentile was a one-year wonder.  His 1961 season was phenomenal.  He had more runs, doubles, homers, rbis, walks than any other season in his career.  The same goes for his batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

Jim Gentile’s career stats

1957 BRO 4 6 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 .167 .286 .667
1958 LAD 12 30 0 4 1 0 0 4 0 4 6 .133 .235 .167
1960 BAL 138 384 67 112 17 0 21 98 0 68 72 .292 .403 .500
1961 BAL 148 486 96 147 25 2 46 141 1 96 106 .302 .423 .646
1962 BAL 152 545 80 137 21 1 33 87 1 77 100 .251 .346 .475
1963 BAL 145 496 65 123 16 1 24 72 1 76 101 .248 .353 .429
1964 KCA 136 439 71 110 10 0 28 71 0 84 122 .251 .372 .465
1965 TOT 119 345 36 84 16 1 17 53 0 43 98 .243 .337 .443
1965 KCA 38 118 14 29 5 0 10 22 0 9 26 .246 .305 .542
1965 HOU 81 227 22 55 11 1 7 31 0 34 72 .242 .352 .392
1966 TOT 82 191 18 41 7 1 9 22 0 26 57 .215 .321 .403
1966 HOU 49 144 16 35 6 1 7 18 0 21 39 .243 .355 .444
1966 CLE 33 47 2 6 1 0 2 4 0 5 18 .128 .212 .277
9 Seasons 936 2922 434 759 113 6 179 549 3 475 663 .260 .368 .486
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/18/2009.


He certainly was no slouch in the couple seasons surrounding his 1961 campaign.  But anyone expecting the production they got out of him in that year was surely disappointed.

48 years ago: Roger Maris 1961 MVP

roger-maris This week 48 years ago, Roger Maris got his second consecutive MVP award.  The year was 1961 and was, of course, when he hit 61 homeruns. 

Yankee teammate Mickey Mantle came in second place in the voting.  He almost overcame Maris in the voting (202-198).  The stats WERE close. Maris (.269, 61 HR, 142 rbis. Mantle .317, 54 HR, 128 rbi)

For the $64,000 question, who came in 3rd in voting?  Try not to use your Google-fu before answering.  He wasn’t TOO far behind Maris and Mantle in votes and actually had a higher batting average, on-base percentage AND slugging percentage than Maris.

Here’s the answer

Manager Connie Mack

connie-mack-hof-1Here is another fact off my tear-off White Sox trivia calendar.  Who holds the record for most years as a Major League manager?  Connie Mack (53 years)

He is the longest-serving manager in MLB history, holds records for wins (3,731), losses (3,948), & games managed (7,755), with his victory is almost 1,000 wins more than any other manager.  Mack was the manager of the Philadelphia Athletics for the club’s first fifty years before retiring at the age of 87 in 1950.

Connie played eleven years (10 in the NL & one in the Players League) in the major leagues, as a light hitting catcher, .245 career average.  He hit five home runs in 2,931 at bats, three in 1888, when he sacrificed average for power, batting only .187 (his only season below .200).   His best season as a player was in the Players League in1891 when he batted .266 with12 triples, he was HBP 20 times.  His last three seasons as a player, were also his first three as a manager, as he was the Pittsburgh Pirates player/manager (even back then they were trying to save money).

Mack wanted men who were self-directed, self-disciplined, and self-motivated; his ideal player was Eddie Collins.  As a manager, he won nine pennants and appeared in eight World Series, winning five.

Over the course of his career he had three pennant-winning teams.  His original team, with players like Rube Waddell, Ossee Schreckengost, and Eddie Plank, won the pennant in 1902 and 1905, losing the 1905 World Series to the New York Giants.  During that season, New York’s manager John McGraw said that Mack had “a big white elephant on his hands” with the Athletics.  Mack adopted a white elephant as the team’s logo, which the Athletics still use today.

As his first team aged, Mack acquired a core of young players to form his second great team, which featured Mack’s famous “$100,000 infield” of Eddie Collins, Home Run Baker, Jack Barry, and Stuffy McInnis.  These Athletics, captained by catcher Ira Thomas, won the pennant in 1910, 1911, 1913, and 1914, beating the Cubs in the World Series in 1910 and beating the Giants in 1911 and 1913, and losing to the Boston Braves in 1914.

That team was dispersed due to financial problems, from which Mack did not recover until the twenties, when he built his third great team.  The 1927 Athletics may have been the best second-place team in history, featuring several future Hall of Fame players including veterans Ty Cobb, Zack Wheat, and Eddie Collins as well as players in their prime such as Mickey Cochrane, Lefty Grove, Al Simmons, and rookie Jimmie Foxx.  That team won the pennant in 1929, 1930, and 1931, beating the Chicago Cubs in the World Series in 1929 and beating the St. Louis Cardinals in 1930, and losing to the Cardinals in 1931.

The Veterans Committee voted Connie Mack into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937.