Saturday, May 20, 2006

BHP Game 0022

Welcome to the Baseball History Podcast: Featuring This Week in Baseball History, baseball dictionary and a tour of baseball cities. I’m your game announcer Bob Wright. This is game 22 of the 2006 baseball season

In the first inning let’s take a look at This Week in Baseball History for the 4 week of May.

May 22, 1968 At Wrigley Field, Pirates' slugger Willie Stargell hits three home runs and just misses a fourth in a 13-6 rout over the Cubs. 'Pops' also hit a single and a double which bounced off the railing in left field fence back onto the playing field.

Wilver Dornel "Willie" Stargell was born March 6, 1940 in Earlsboro, Oklahoma. Over his 21-year career with the Pirates, he batted .282, with 2,232 hits, 423 doubles, 475 home runs and 1511 runs batted in, helping his team capture six National League East division titles, two National League pennants and two World Series, the first in 1971 and the second in 1979.

He did everything in a large way - blasting tape-measure home runs or striking out. Popular and powerful, Willie Stargell’s influence extended into the clubhouse, where he rewarded teammates with "stars" for outstanding performance. His father-figure status earned him the nickname "Pops"

Beloved in Pittsburgh for his style of play and affable manner, Stargell was known throughout baseball for hitting monstrous home runs, including 7 of the 16 balls ever hit completely out of Forbes Field and several of the upper-tier home runs at its successor, Three Rivers Stadium. At one time, he held the record for the longest homer in nearly half of the National League parks.

Stargell joined the Bucs late in 1962 after a four-year minor league career. He hit his first major league homer on May 8th 1963, and would go on to hit homers in 20 different ballparks off 243 different pitchers. His most frequent victims were Tom Seaver and Phil Niekro.

His early days were spent in left field, playing next to Matty Alou and Roberto Clemente. The Pirates slowly built a contender, and by 1971 they were poised to challenge the league's best teams. That year Stargell bolted from the gates, hitting 11 homers in April - equaling a ML record - and helping the Pirates to a fast start. By the end of July Willie had 36 homers. He finished with 48 and a .628 slugging percentage.

In the post-season, Stargell got off to a terrible start, going 0-for-14 with six strikeouts in the League Championship Series win over the Giants. In the World Series he fared better, getting on base 12 times via a hit or a walk. Clemente drug the team to the title and Willie had his first ring.

In 1975, he was switched to first base, a move prompted by nagging knee and leg injuries. From 1971 to 1975, he batted .297 with 172 home runs - the highest total in baseball. But in 1976 and 1977 his career seemed to be over. He drove in just 65 runs in '76 and in '77 and played only 63 games as a result of a broken arm suffered while breaking up a fight between teammate Bruce Kison and the Phillies Mike Schmidt.

But in 1978, "Pops" proved the critics wrong, rebounding with a .295 average, 28 homers, and 97 RBI. He was named the Comeback Player of the Year. He entered the 1979 season 38 years old and coming off his best campaign in years.

The Pirates made it to the World Series in 1979 and the Series was Stargell's grandest stage, providing the defining moments of his career. After Baltimore took three of the first four games, Stargell led his team back. He singled and had a sacrafice fly in the Game Five victory, and after John Candelaria's shutout performance in Game Six, the series was deadlocked.

In Game Seven, Stargell singled in his first at-bat. In his second trip he doubled, but his team still could not score. In his third trip, with the Pirates trailing 1-0, Willie slugged a two-run homer that put Pittsburgh ahead to stay. Later in the game, Willie doubled again. He finished the seven game series victory with a .400 average, a Series record seven extra-base hits, and 25 total bases - also a record.

In that year, Stargell earned the National League Most Valuable Player award, as well as the same award in the National League Championship Series and in the World Series, the only player to have won all three in a single year.

Stargell had his share of big days in the major leagues. On July 22, 1964 he hit for the cycle in a 13-2 victory over the Cardinals. On June 24, 1965 he blasted three home runs against the Dodgers, the first off Don Drysdale. Three more times, in 1968, and twice in 1971, he would hit three homers in a single game. On 36 occasions he hit two homers in a game.

Stargell holds the major league record for most extra-base hits in a single game. On May 22, 1968 he slugged three homers, a double, and a single, for 15 total bases. In that game Willie drove in seven runs.

After his playing career he coached for the Pirates in 1985, and the Braves from 1986 through 1988.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1988, his first year of eligibility.

Wilver Stargell died on April 9, 2001, in Wilmington, North Carolina.

In this inning we’ll open up the Baseball Dictionary

Under the letter: T

“Take Me Out to the Ball Game”

Baseball’s unofficial anthem, written in 1908 by Jack Norworth, a vaudeville performer and songwriter, who was honored with a special day at Ebbets Field in 1942, his first time at the ballpark. The song was an immediate hit on the vaudeville circuit and in sheet-music stores. The music was written by Albert Von Tilzer, who had collaborated with Norworth on “Shine on Harvest Moon.”

In most parks it is sung in the middle of the 7th inning which is usually referred to as the 7th inning stretch. In some ballparks one line is sung as; “I don’t care if I never get back”, while at other ballparks it is sung as “I don’t care if I ever get back.” Which do you think is correct? Is there more to the song than that one short verse? Check out the show notes at baseballhistory.blogspot.com.

And now for the ninth inning…

Continuing our trip around baseball cities…

This team from history was a part of the Negro Baseball Leagues. The team…

The Cuban Giants.

Organized in 1885, the Cuban Giants were the first salaried professional black baseball team. Frank P Thompson, the headwaiter at Long Island’s Argyle Hotel in Babylon, New York, recruited players from the Philadelphia Keystones to work at the hotel as waiters and form a baseball team to play for the entertainment of the summer guests. After the end of the tourist season, the team added more players from the Philadelphia Orions and the Manhattens of Washington, D.C., to form the Cuban Giants, and toured as the first black professional team.

The Cuban Giants were the Colored champions in 1887 and 1888. They were considered the top ballclub of the era, often playing as representatives of a host city in that city’s regular league.

The Cuban Giants was the first and most successful black professional team and remained a top attraction for the remainder of the century, generating imitation teams who copied their success and who appropriated a variation of the Cuban Giants’ name as their own.

For those of you that want to stick around, here’s an

Extra Inning

In the emails this week was this one from Rick:

Dear Bob:

I am a very recent subscriber to your Baseball History podcast. It is
with great enjoyment and excitement I find myself looking forward to
the next and thereafter editions.
You do a wonderfully marvelous job of detail, research, insight and
naration.

I can almost envision myself in those ballparks and games of long ago
with the pictures you paint with your words. And that is saying
something coming from a visually impaired baseball fan as myself.
Thank you for providing such a wonderful resource to fellow baseball
patrons around the world.
I congratulate you on a broadcast very, very well done.

Respectfully,
Rick

PS: One question I wanted to ask if possible. From your "Game 21"
word from the baseball dictionary. Would you by chance know how old
that particular version of the "Save" rule is? I noticed it stated
that in stipulation (1) infered that the pitcher must enter with no
more than a 3 run lead and pitch an entire inning. Since a pticher
does not have to go the entire inning, I was wondering if this is the
"original" version of the rule, which is really interesting to know.

Well, Rick, under section 3 of the current rule it says that the pitcher must qualify under one of three conditions. Part A requires entering the game with a lead of no more than 3 runs and pitching for a complete inning. Another option is Part B that does not require the pitcher to pitch for an entire inning; he must only enter the game with the potential tying run either on base, at bat, or on deck. So with Part B, he could come in and get the last out and qualify for the save.

A little more history of the “Save” from the Baseball Dictionary states the following:

According to Sports Illustrated from June 8, 1992, the save concept was invented by Chicago baseball writer Jerome Holtzman in 1960 to credit a relief pitcher who enters the game with the tying or go ahead run on base or at the plate and finishes the game with the lead. The save was officially adopted in 1969, but the reliever had to protect a lead until the end of the game or until he was lifted for a pinch hitter or pinch runner; if more than one pitcher qualified, the official scorer judged which of the pitchers was more effective. In 1973, the reliever had to pitch three innings or enter the game with the tying run on base or at the plate. The current rule with all of that Part A, B & C was adopted in 1975.

Finally, this for Rick: I will be emailing you a copy of the words to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” because I am not sure if you can get them off of my blog transcripts. If there are any other listeners that are visually impaired, please let me know and I will do all I can to make information available to you.

You can email me at baseballhistory@gmail.com. Transcripts of the game can be found at baseballhistorypodcast.blogspot.com. Well, that’s it for today’s game of Baseball History Podcast. I’ll see you later at the ballpark.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

1908 Version
Author: Jack Norworth
Composer: Albert Von Tilzer
Published on: 1908, 1927
Published by: York Music Company

Katie Casey was base ball mad.
Had the fever and had it bad;
Just to root for the home town crew,
Ev'ry sou Katie blew.
On a Saturday, he young beau
Called to see if she'd like to go,
To see a show but Miss Kate said,
"No, I'll tell you what you can do."

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

Katie Casey saw all the games,
Knew the players by their first names;
Told the umpire he was wrong,
All along good and strong.
When the score was just two to two,
Katie Casey knew what to do,
Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
She made the gang sing this song:

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, your out,
At the old ball game."

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

1927 Version
Author: Jack Norworth ©
Composer: Albert Von Tilzer
Published on: 1908, 1927
Published by: York Music Company

Nelly Kelly love baseball games,
Knew the players, knew all their names,
You could see her there ev'ry day,
Shout "Hurray," when they'd play.
Her boy friend by the name of Joe
Said, "To Coney Isle, dear, let's go,"
Then Nelly started to fret and pout,
And to him I heard her shout.

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

Nelly Kelly was sure some fan,
She would root just like any man,
Told the umpire he was wrong,
All along, good and strong.
When the score was just two to two,
Nelly Kelly knew what to do,
Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
She made the gang sing this song.

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game."

BHP Game 0021

Welcome to the Baseball History Podcast: Featuring This Week in Baseball History, baseball dictionary and a tour of baseball cities. I’m your game announcer Bob Wright. This is game 21 of the 2006 baseball season.

In the first inning let’s take a look at This Week in Baseball History for the 3 week of May.

May 17, 1925 In a 2-1 loss to the Senators, Indians' outfielder Tris Speaker singles off pitcher Tom Zachary to reach the career 3000-hit milestone.

Tristram E. Speaker was born on Wednesday, April 4, 1888 in Hubbard, Texas. Early in his life he suffered a broken right arm in a fall from a horse and was forced to use his left hand for throwing. Eventually he became very comfortable with it and stayed a southpaw even when his right arm healed.

Speaker played in 7 games for the Red Sox in 1907 getting 3 hits in 19 at bats for a .158 average. The following year, the Red Sox traded Speaker to the Little Rock Travelers of the Southern League in exchange for use of their facilities for spring training in 1908. Speaker ended up batting .350 for the Travelers and his contract was repurchased by the Red Sox. Speaker ended up making it into 31 games and got 26 hits in 116 at bats for a .224 average.

Speaker did not take kindly to personal criticism. In 1910 he sustained an early-season batting slump and when his manager politely suggested he temporarily yield his third batting spot, Speaker replied "Like hell I will!." He finished the season batting .340 as Boston's best batter.

From 1910 to 1915, Speaker was the leader of Boston's legendary outfield which included Duffy Lewis and Harry Hooper, one of the finest outfield trios in baseball history.

Speaker’s best season came in 1912. The Red Sox opened the newly built Fenway Park on April 20, 1912. Speaker played in every one of the Red Sox' 153 games, leading the American League in doubles with 53, and home runs with 10. He set a career high with 222 hits, 136 runs, 580 at-bats, and 52 steals. He was at the top of his game. He batted .383, a mark he would surpass three times in his career.

The Red Sox won the pennant by finishing 14 games ahead of the Washington Senators and 15 games ahead of the Philadelphia A’s.

In center field he helped the Red Sox pitching staff by stabbing line drives and throwing out greedy base runners. As a center fielder, Speaker played so shallowly for most hitters that he was like a fifth infielder. Twice in 1918, he executed an unassisted double play at second base, snaring low line drives on the run and then beating base runners to the bag. At least once in his career he was credited as the pivot man in a routine double play! Bill Carrigan, a longtime teammate of Speaker's on the Red Sox, often times would send a pickoff throw from his catcher's position to Speaker who had snuck in on second base. In addition, as Indians' manager he insisted the team practice a play where from center field he would cover second base on bunt plays, freeing up his shortstop to cover third, and his third baseman to charge the bunts.

Speaker batted .338 in 1914 and .322 in 1915. The Red Sox beat the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series, led by 18 game winner and team home run leader, Babe Ruth.

After the World Series victory, Speaker had a falling out with Red Sox president Joe Lannin, who wanted Speaker to take a pay cut from about $15,000 to about $9,000 since his average had fallen to a mere .322. Speaker refused and would not sign such a contract. On April 12, 1916 Lannin dealt Speaker to the Cleveland Indians for two players and $50,000. For the next eleven years he averaged .354.

He was player-manager for the Indians for part of 1919 and the following seven full seasons. In 1920, Speaker guided the Indians to their first ever World Series Championship despite the death of Ray Chapman on August 17 after being hit in the head by a pitch from Carl Mays.

He managed for 1137 games finishing 617-520 before retiring as a manager, but not as a player. The retirement was forced by AL President, Ban Johnson over a scandal involving Ty Cobb and gambling. You can hear more about that incident by listening to Game 0020

Tris Speaker was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937 and he died December 8, 1958 in Lake Whitney, Texas.

In this inning we’ll open up the Baseball Dictionary

Under the letter: S

Save

The credit given to one relief pitcher for ensuring his team’s victory by protecting the lead in a given game. To receive a save the pitcher cannot be taken from the game and must finish it. Even though the starting or other relief pitcher receives credit for the win, the save is the formal recognition of the closer’s role in the victory. Only one save can be credited in a game. To be credited with a save, a pitcher must meet all three of the following conditions as stated in rule 10.20 of the Official Baseball Rules: 1) he is the finishing pitcher in a game won by his club; 2) he is not the winning pitcher; and 3) he qualifies under on of the following conditions: a) he enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning, b) he enters the game with the potential tying run either on base, at bat, or on deck, or c) he pitches effectively for at least three innings. The “save” was officially adopted in 1969 with its current definition adopted in 1975.

And now for the ninth inning…

Continuing our trip around baseball cities…

The New Britan Rock Cats.

This AA affiliate of the Minnisota Twins plays their home games at New Britain Stadium.

The 2006 season marks the 33rd anniversary of the New Britain Baseball Club. The franchise originated in Bristol, CT as the AA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. The Bristol Red Sox called Muzzy Field home from 1973-1982 until they relocated to its current home in New Britain. The club remained a farm club of Boston's and, in fact, the New Britain Red Sox won the 1983 Eastern League Championship in their very first season as tenants of brand new Beehive Field.

New Britain's 21-year affiliation with the Boston Red Sox came to an end prior to the 1995 season as the club signed with the Minnesota Twins and changed their nickname to the Hardware City Rock Cats in honor of the city's reputation as a highly industrial community. After 13 seasons of baseball at Beehive Field, the Rock Cats moved into their current home, New Britain Stadium.

The franchise dropped the Hardware City nickname in 1997 and have been known as the New Britain Rock Cats ever since. On August 18th of that season, the Minnesota Twins battled their farmhands in an exhibition game at New Britain Stadium. The contest marked the first time in over half a century that a Major League club played baseball in the State of Connecticut

The 1998 Rock Cats earned the Northern Division regular season title with a then-franchise record 83 victories. The Rock Cats eventually succumbed to the Harrisburg Senators in the Eastern League Championship Series.

The New Britain Rock Cats experienced the most successful season of their history in the Hardware City during the 2001 campaign. On the field, the Rock Cats won a franchise-high 87 ballgames and earned their second Northern Division regular season title in four seasons. New Britain defeated the in-state rival Norwich Navigators, three-games-to-one in a memorable Northern Division Championship Series to earn a berth in the Eastern League Championship Series vs. the Reading Phillies. Unfortunately, that series never began due to the National tragedies of September 11th. Both the Rock Cats and R-Phils were named Eastern League Co-Champions, giving New Britain their second title and the franchise its fifth since 1973.

New Britain, for the sixth consecutive season, experienced enormous success off the diamond as every franchise attendance record again fell. They include the largest three-day weekend, largest single crowd, highest regular season attendance of 337,750 along with fourteen sell-outs.

You can email me at baseballhistory@gmail.com. Transcripts of the game can be found at baseballhistorypodcast.blogspot.com. Well, that’s it for today’s game of Baseball History Podcast. I’ll see you later at the ballpark.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

BHP Game 0020

Welcome to the Baseball History Podcast: Featuring This Week in Baseball History, baseball dictionary and a tour of baseball cities. I’m your game announcer Bob Wright. This is game 20 of the 2006 baseball season

In the first inning let’s take a look at This Week in Baseball History for the 3 week of May.

May 15, 1912 At Hilltop Park, Ty Cobb, after listening to days of heckling by Yankee fans, jumps into the stands near the Tigers dugout and pummels a handicapped fan. The man, identified pseudonymously as Otto Blotz, cannot defend himself against the “Georgia Peach’ as he only has one hand.

Tyrus Raymond Cobb was born in Narrows, Georgia, the first of three children. His mother Amanda, who had married William Herschel Cobb when she was twelve, was fifteen when she gave birth to Ty. In 1893, W.H. Cobb, a teacher by profession, bought a one hundred acre farm in Royston, Georgia to supplement his teaching income. It was on this farm that Ty's father taught him the values of hard work and perseverance. It was also in those fields that Ty grew strong and developed his relationship with his father.

The scrawny 18-year-old rookie joined the veteran Tigers in 1905. Although the determined youngster doubled off Jack Chesbro in his first at-bat, he didn't hit well as a rookie. But in 1907 he became the youngest player ever to win a batting title. Cobb's own favorite moment came late in the 1907 season. The Tigers were only percentage points ahead over the Athletics for the league lead when the two teams met in Philadelphia on September 30. The A's took an 8-6 lead into the ninth, when Cobb smacked a two-run homer to tie the score. The two teams played 17 innings to a 9-9 tie, mathematically eliminating the A's and giving the Tigers their first pennant.

Cobb's batting title in 1907 was the first of 12 and first of nine in a row. He also established himself as a fine fielder. Cobb had 30 outfield assists in 1907, led the league in assists in 1908, and finished his career second all-time in assists and double plays among outfielders.

The Tigers took a third straight AL pennant in 1909, again with Cobb in the middle of things. In the first game of a three-game series against the A's in Detroit on August 24, Cobb's sharpened spikes opened up an ugly gash in third baseman Frank Baker's arm. Although the popular Baker finished the game, the Tigers swept the series to take first place and A's fans were incensed. The two teams met again in Philadelphia near the end of the season. Cobb had received telegraphed death threats that many, but not he, took seriously. Cobb got a police escort to and from the ballpark. Policemen ringed the field and plainclothesmen wandered the stands, but the only thing aimed at the hated Cobb was Philadelphia invective. The Tigers claimed their third pennant, and Cobb won his only Triple Crown, leading the league with 9 HR, 107 RBI, and a .377 average

It looked as if Cobb would win a fifth straight batting title in 1910. Cobb had a comfortable lead over the Indians' Nap Lajoie, but was sidelined the final game of the season. Lajoie was in St. Louis for a doubleheader, needing a perfect day to take the batting title. The Browns, like everyone else, wanted Lajoie to beat out the hated Cobb, and did all they could do to help Lajoie. In his first at-bat, Lajoie got a triple when his fly ball was "lost in the sun." Lajoie lined a clean single his next time up. Browns manager Jack O'Connor then ordered rookie third baseman Red Corrigan to play deep on the outfield grass, and the swift Lajoie exploited the alignment with six straight bunt singles. The final figures gave Cobb the title, .38415 to .38411.

In 1911 Cobb set an AL record by hitting in 41 straight games, but Shoeless Joe Jackson was challenging Cobb for the batting title when the Tigers visited Jackson's Indians for a six-game set late in the season,. The young Jackson, batting over .400, was a great admirer of Cobb and tried hard to be friendly, but Cobb purposely ignored him. The slight supposedly flustered Jackson and affected his hitting. Cobb went on to win the title with a .420 average, while Jackson finished at .408.

Cobb's batting eye was certainly keen, but his baserunning won just as many games. Until Lou Brock half-a-century later, he was the career steal leader. He would steal second and then proceed directly to third as the throw came in behind him. A young catcher asked a veteran what to do when Cobb broke for second. "Throw to third," came the deadpan reply.

Cobb's batting reign finally ended in 1916, when Tris Speaker hit .386 to Cobb's .378, but Cobb won the next three years. In 1921 he was named player-manager of the Tigers, and responded with a career-high 12 HR. He got a taste of his own medicine in 1922, losing the batting title despite a .401 average when George Sisler batted .420.

Cobb's late career was marred by a gambling episode that involved Tris Speaker, one of his few friends in baseball. Both managers suddenly retired after the 1926 season. The day after Christmas in 1926, the public found out why: Dutch Leonard, a disgruntled former player who had been released by both managers, accused Cobb and Speaker of fixing a game on September 24, 1919. Both stars, plus Cleveland outfielder Smokey Joe Wood, had allegedly agreed to let Detroit win the game to give the Tigers third place. Upon hearing the allegations, American League president Ban Johnson forced the two stars to quit. Commissioner Kenesaw Landis cleared and reinstated both players in what is said, an effort to conceal the details of the scandal to ensure the two great ballplayers would not tarnish their image nor that of the game. Cobb ended up in Philadelphia with Connie Mack, who defended the hated Cobb during the ordeal, and Cobb played two more years before retiring for good after a .328 season in 1928.

Ty Cobb was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1936. He died July 17, 1961, in Atlanta, Georgia.

In this inning we’ll open up the Baseball Dictionary

Under the letter: R

Radar Gun

An electronic device used to measure the velocity of a pitched ball in miles per hour. The “fast” radar gun, the Jugs gun, measures the wrist speed of the ball as it leaves the pitcher’s hand; the “slow” radar gun, the Ra-Gun, measures the speed of the ball as it crosses home plate. The velocity gap between the two readings diminishes the higher the ball is released, probably because the more downward trajectory reduces the decelerating force that gravity would place on an object moving horizontally.

And now for the ninth inning…

Continuing our trip around baseball cities…

The Altoona Curve

This class AA affiliate of the Pittsburg Pirates plays their home games at Blair County Ballpark in Altoona Pennsylvania. This from their website:

Like many other decisions in baseball, the latest round of major league expansion had a domino effect on the minor leagues. In 1995, Arizona and Tampa Bay were awarded major league franchises to play their inaugural season in 1998. To keep pace, baseball's rookie level added two teams in 1996. The following year, Class 'A' and Class 'AAA' each increased by two teams.

That left only Class 'AA' in need of expansion to match the number of teams in the big leagues. In 1997, the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, as it was then called, decided the Eastern League would receive the two new franchises to start play in 1999. Erie was an easy first choice of the NAPBL's expansion committee. After all, the SeaWolves had established short-season attendance records as part of the New York-Penn League.

The awarding of the second franchise wasn't easy. For months, it seemed Springfield, Massachusetts would land the team. However, an inability to finalize land and stadium finance deals left the NAPBL looking for another option. Enter Altoona. City leaders put together an eleventh-hour stadium financing package and site plan. The proposal was presented to the expansion committee at an October 5, 1997. It received unanimous approval and Double-A baseball was on its way to Central Pennsylvania.

Ballpark groundbreaking ceremonies took place in March 1998 and the franchise was officially awarded the following month. In June of that year, the Altoona entry selected "Curve" as its nickname. The combination railroad/baseball moniker beat out several other choices

The next step for the Curve was affiliating with a major league team. Erie seemed to have an inside track on becoming the Pirates' new Double-A affiliate, as the SeaWolves had served as Pittsburgh's short-season club from 1995-98. However, after a series of meetings with potential major league parent clubs, the Curve landed the coveted affiliation with the Pirates.

The long-awaited first game in Curve history took place on April 9, 1999 in Reading, PA. The game against the Phillies' affiliate was suspended by rain and completed the next day as part of a doubleheader.

For those of you that want to stick around, here’s an

Extra Inning

You can email me at baseballhistory@gmail.com. Transcripts of the game can be found at baseballhistorypodcast.blogspot.com. Well, that’s it for today’s game of Baseball History Podcast. I’ll see you later at the ballpark.

BHP Game 0019

Welcome to the Baseball History Podcast: Featuring This Week in Baseball History, baseball dictionary and a tour of baseball cities. I’m your game announcer Bob Wright. This is game 19 of the 2006 baseball season

In the first inning let’s take a look at This Week in Baseball History for the 2 week of May.

May 13, 1976, for the sixth consecutive game, Royals' third baseman George Brett collects at least three hits in each contest.

George Howard Brett was born May 15, 1953 in Glen Dale, West Virginia. He is one of the greatest third basemen in Major League Baseball history and the only man to ever win batting titles in three different decades.

Brett played his entire career for the Kansas City Royals, leading them to six American League Championships and two World Series in the late '70s and early '80s.

Brett was the second youngest child of a sports-minded family which included his older brother Ken, a major-league pitcher. His family moved to the midwest and later to Southern California when he was a boy. His older brother Ken pitched thirteen years in the majors while two other brothers played minor-league ball . He was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the second round of the 1971 baseball draft.

His beginnings in professional baseball were modest. He batted .281 over three-plus seasons in the minors. He led the California League in errors at third base in his second pro season. He hit only .125 in his first major league call-up in 1973 and hit but two home runs with 47 RBI in his first full season with Kansas City in 1974.

In an effort to boost Brett's average, Royals' batting coach Charlie Lau worked with Brett on hitting to all fields on every type of pitch. Brett soon learned to adapt to what pitchers offered instead of waiting for fastballs.

He topped the .300 mark for the first time in 1975 with a .308 mark. He then won his first batting title in 1976 with a .333 average. The four candidates for the batting title that year were Brett and Royals teammate Hal McRae, along with Minnesota Twins teammates Rod Carew and Lyman Bostock. In dramatic fashion, Brett went 2 for 4 in the final game of the season against the Twins, beating out his three rivals, all playing in the same game. His lead over second-place McRae was less than .001

Brett flirted with the .400 batting mark throughout the summer of 1980. He eventually wound up with a .390 average, at that time the highest since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941. His incredible season included a 37-game hitting streak, the batting crown, and the American League Most Valuable Player award.

Despite Brett's best efforts in the World Series, where he hit .375 with a homer and three Runs Batted In, the Royals fell to the Phillies four games to two.

Brett had injuries on-and-off for the next four years, during which his most noteworthy achievement was the notorious "Pine Tar Incident." On July 24, 1983, the Royals were playing the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. In the top of the ninth inning, Brett came up to bat against Goose Gossage. Brett hit a two-run homer, putting the Royals up 5-4. After Brett rounded the bases, Yankees manager Billy Martin came out of the dugout and used home plate to measure the amount of pine tar on Brett's bat, citing an obscure rule that stated the pine tar on a bat could extend no further than 18 inches. Brett's pine tar extended about 24 inches. A few moments later, the home plate umpire, Tim McClelland, signalled Brett out. The normally mild-mannered Brett charged out of the dugout, enraged, and was immediately ejected.

The Royals protested the game, and their protest was upheld by American League president Lee McPhail, who ruled that the bat was not "altered to improve the distance factor", and that the rules only provided for removal of the bat from the game, and not calling the batter out. The game was replayed, starting after Brett's homer. Billy Martin had one last trick up his sleeve, appealing the play before, saying the umpires had no way of knowing Brett had touched all the bases. The umpires produced affidavits saying he had.

In 1985, Brett had another brilliant season in which he helped to propel the Royals to their second pennant. He batted .335 with 30 home runs and 112 RBI, finishing in the top 10 of the league in 10 different offensive categories. In the final week of the regular season, he went 9-for-20 at the plate with 7 runs, 5 homers, and 9 RBI in six crucial games, five of them victories. He was the Most Valuable Player of the 1985 playoffs against the Toronto Blue Jays, leading Kansas City. back from a 3-1 deficit in games. He then batted .370 in the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, as the Royals again rallied from a 3-1 deficit to become world champions.

In 1988, Brett moved across the diamond to first base in an effort to reduce his chances of injury and had another Most Valuable Player-calibre season with a .306 average, 24 homers and 103 RBI. But after batting just .290 with 16 homers the next year, it looked like his career might be slowing down. He got off to a terrible start in 1990 and at one point even considered retirement. But his manager, former teammate John Wathan, encouraged him to stick it out. Finally, in July, the slump ended and Brett batted .386 for the rest of the season. In September, he caught Rickey Henderson for the league lead, and in a battle down to the last day of the season, captured his third batting title with a .329 mark. This made him the first, and only to this date, player in history to win batting titles in three decades.

Brett played three more seasons for the Royals, mostly as their designated hitter. He passed the 3,000-hit mark in 1992 and retired after the 1993 season.

After finishing up his 20-year Royals, George moved to the front office as the Royals' vice-president in charge of baseball operations. In 1998, an investor group headed by Brett and his older brother, Bobby, made an unsuccessful bid to purchase the Kansas City Royals.

George Brett was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1999, with the fourth-highest voting percentage in baseball history.

In this inning we’ll open up the Baseball Dictionary

Under the letter: O

On-Base percentage

A statistic used to illustrate a batter’s overall effectiveness at getting on base. It is computed by dividing the number of times the batter reaches base, not including by error, by his number of plate appearances and carrying the quotient to three decimal places. The official formula is: hits + walks + hit by pitch, divided by at-bats + walks + hit by pitch + sacrifice flies + sacrifices. The number is usually important in determining the effectiveness of a leadoff batter, whose job it is to get on base. Some baseball people put additional importance on this statistic. To understand why, read the book Money Ball.

And now for the ninth inning…

Continuing our trip around baseball cities…

This team from history was a part of the Negro Baseball Leagues.

The Atlanta Black Crackers played baseball in Atlanta’s historic Ponce de Leon Park when the white Minor League Atlanta Crackers were out of town.

They played for most of their history as a member of the minor Negro Southern League but during the1938 season they moved up to play in the Negro American League. At the beginning of the spring there were two separate teams vying to represent Atlanta in the Negro American League, but after the two squads finally merged into a single team carrying the name of the Atlanta Black Crackers, they continued to improve until they won the second-half title. In the scheduled playoff against the first-half champion Memphis Red Sox, they lost the first two games, but after conflict due to game cancellations, the league president ruled the unfinished series a “no contest,” and a league champion was undetermined.

The following season, for financial reasons, the franchise moved to Indianapolis and played in the Negro American League under the name of the Indianapolis ABC’s. However, once again financial difficulties led to their dropping from league play and disbanding. They later reorganized and returned to play again in the Negro Southern League.

For those of you that want to stick around, here’s an

Extra Inning

Even though this game is running a little long, I have a few quick things to take care of.

First, I am recording this segment away from my studio on my mp3 player. I am in Iowa to see my daughter graduate summa cum laude from college. Congratulations Cheryl!

Second, I want to think RJ for leaving the following comment:

Enjoy the podcasts. They're a staple on my overnight shifts. The new ones sound much better than the first few. If you were ever looking to expand the show, I would suggest trivia or some interesting baseball facts, like the time you mentioned Lou Pinella's running for the "cycle." Good stuff.

posted by: RJ Warner

RJ, I had thought about doing something along those lines and would be interested in hearing from others on what you think about it.

Third, I want to acknowledge the email from Dave of The Word Nerds. Congratulations on getting that new owner for the Nats.

Last item, I am going to an ICubs game tonight with my Grandchildren. Grandchildren and baseball, life is good!

You can email me at baseballhistory@gmail.com. Transcripts of the game can be found at baseballhistorypodcast.blogspot.com. Well, that’s it for today’s game of Baseball History Podcast. I’ll see you later at the ballpark.

BHP Game 0018

Welcome to the Baseball History Podcast: Featuring This Week in Baseball History, baseball dictionary and a tour of baseball cities. I’m your game announcer Bob Wright. This is game 18 of the 2006 baseball season

In the first inning let’s take a look at This Week in Baseball History for the 2 week of May.

May 8, 1935 Reds' catcher Ernie Lombardi hits four consecutive doubles in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings off four different Phillie pitchers.

Ernesto Natali Lombardi was born April 6, 1908 in Oakland, California.

Lombardi played his rookie season for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1931, but was traded to the Cincinnati Reds shortly before the start of spring training for the 1932 season.

Lombardi flourished his first year in Cincinnati, batting .303 with 11 home runs and 68 runs-batted-in. However, he became a national star in 1938 when he hit a league-leading .342 with 19 home runs, drove in 95 runs, and won the National League's Most Valuable Player award. Ernie Lombardi became one of the Reds' most productive and popular players of all time, and was a key player on the 1940 World Series championship team, where he hit .333. He also has the distinction of catching both of Reds left-hander Johnny Vander Meer's back-to-back no-hitters, accomplished on June 11 and June 15, 1938. To date, Vander Meer's feat has not been matched.

Sold to the Braves in 1942, he won his second batting title with an average of .330 on the year but was traded after the season to the Giants. He enjoyed three productive if unspectacular seasons with the Giants before seeing his playing time diminish over the next two seasons. He retired after the 1947 season, having compiled a .306 career batting average, 190 home runs, 990 runs-batted-in, 601 runs and 430 walks.

The six foot, three inch, 230-pound Ernie Lombardi was legendarily slow-footed. An opposing manager once jokingly said that Lombardi was so slow, he ran like he was carrying a piano — and the man who was tuning it. Despite this, he became an outstanding catcher on the basis of his strong, accurate arm and his ability to "call" a game. Ironically, for his career, he is eight-for-eight in stolen bases.

Lombardi died September 26, 1977 in Santa Cruz, California. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986.

In this inning we’ll open up the Baseball Dictionary

Under the letter: U

Unassisted

Without help; specifically said of a putout without the help of a teammate. The term was first used in 1884 in DeWitt’s Official base Ball Guide by Edward J. Nichols.

And now for the ninth inning…

Continuing our trip around baseball cities…

The team is the Asheville Tourists.

This team is a class A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies and they play their home games at McCormick Field in Asheville NC.

Asheville North Carolina is a city of just over 71,000 residents. Few cities the size of Asheville are as fortunate as residents of the "Land of the Sky" to have such a storied history on the professional baseball front.

Western North Carolina was receptive to baseball during the first two decades of the 20th century, although the professional game had difficulty gaining a stronghold in the area. After the Asheville Moonshiners made a couple of attempts at facing competition in 1897, the pro sport did not return to the city until 1909 with the Asheville Red Birds. The Asheville Moonshiners spent the 1910 season in the Southeastern League and following two years in the Appalachian League.

The team was known as the Mountaineers for two seasons and the Tourists for the final three during their five-year run from 1913 to 1917. That stint concluded when the Asheville and Raleigh teams disbanded on May 18, 1917, 12 days before the league ceased operations because of the country's participation in World War I.

McCormick Field was built in 1924 at a cost of $200,000. It was named for Dr. Lewis McCormick, the city's only bacteriologist who started the "Swat That Fly" campaign in 1905 in order to reduce the area's problem with the housefly.

The Tourists played baseball at McCormick Field from 1924-42, with the exception of 1933, when the city lost its franchise at the height of the Great Depression. Asheville fans during this time were privy to exhibition games played by the New York Yankees, featuring Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, and other major leagues teams that worked their way north from spring training. One of the biggest events occurred in 1948 when the Brooklyn Dodgers and Jackie Robinson played at McCormick Field.

Throughout the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s Asheville served as an affiliate for a number of major league teams. Baseball in Asheville mirrored most of the minor leagues during the late 1970s. Franchises were struggling to survive, and attendance at games could be counted in double digits. Located among the partial sellouts at McCormick Field were several rowdy fans that did little to increase the ambience among the paying customers.

That scenario changed in 1980 when Ron McKee became general manager of the Tourists. A former batboy for the club in the early 1960s, McKee disposed of the rowdies and instituted a more fan-friendly environment. With the help of his wife he brought in special attractions and innovative promotions. Attendance increased to over 49,000 fans in McKee's first year; by 1986, the Tourists attracted more than 100,000 patrons for the first time since 1959, signaling the rebirth of the game throughout Western North Carolina.

With the 1923 ballpark in major decline a new ballpark with a seating capacity of approximately 4,000 was erected in time for the 1992 season.

The new McCormick Field maintained the layout of the original ballpark and kept the playing field intact. One new twist altered the thought process of pitchers as well as hitters from both sides of the plate. Only 301 feet from home plate, right field had always been a target of lefthanded power hitters. The feat became somewhat tougher prior to the 1993 season when the wall's height more than tripled, to its current 36 feet.

The new facility led to a new major league affiliation with the expansion Colorado Rockies starting in 1994 where it remains today. The Asheville Tourists' substantial place on the professional baseball map continues to increase in stature on annual basis.

For those of you that want to stick around, here’s an

Extra Inning

The past couple of games haven’t had an extra inning. I thought I would explain what determines whether there is one or not. It’s all about time. I really try to keep each game under 10 minutes. That hasn’t always worked, as some games have gone almost 11 minutes. When there is time I will have this extra inning to discuss what ever comes to mind.

I’d like to thank Dave for the email.

In part of his email he says; “…Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese were the first baseball announcers I can remember seeing on TV on the game of the week back in the early 1960s. They not only defined for me what a TV baseball crew should be, but they actually taught me a certain attitude toward the game itself. It was great to hear about ol’ Diz on your show.

I was listening to BHP week before last as I rode the Metro into DC from my Virginia-suburban home to see the Nationals play at RFK.

Keep up the great work!

Dave

Thanks Dave. Now all you need is an owner for that team of yours.

You can email me at baseballhistory@gmail.com. Transcripts of the game can be found at baseballhistorypodcast.blogspot.com. Well, that’s it for today’s game of Baseball History Podcast. I’ll see you later at the ballpark.

BHP Game 0017

Welcome to the Baseball History Podcast: Featuring This Week in Baseball History, baseball dictionary and a tour of baseball cities. I’m your game announcer Bob Wright. This is game 17 of the 2006 baseball season

In the first inning let’s take a look at This Week in Baseball History for the 1 week of May.

May 4, 1910 President William H. Taft leaves Robinson Park, where the Cardinals are routing the Reds, to catch a great pitching duel between the Naps' Cy Young and the Browns' Joe Lake at Sportman's Park. The chief executive will stay to the last out of the American League contest which ends in a three-to-three tie after 14 innings of play.

Denton True Young was born March 29, 1867 in Gilmore, Ohio, a tiny village near Newcomerstown, Ohio. His nickname "Cy" is short for "Cyclone." His nickname was given to him by a young catcher who warmed him up when he tried out for the Canton, Ohio minor league team. He was judged to be "as fast as a cyclone."

Young is generally considered one of the greatest pitchers of all time. Not only is he a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, but the Cy Young Award, the annual award given to the best major league pitcher in each league, is named in his honor. From 1956, the first full season after Young's death, until 1966, it was given to the best pitcher in baseball. Starting in 1967, it was given to the best in each league.

Young began his major league career in 1890 with the Cleveland Spiders and achieved stardom rapidly. He was one of the few star hurlers to maintain his level of success after the pitching mound was moved back to its present 60 feet 6 inches in 1893. He became a member of the St Louis team in 1899 when the Cleveland and St. Louis ownership essentially swapped teams by trading all their players. Neither Cy nor his wife were comfortable in St Louis. He had already established a pitching record in the National League that might have earned him a place in the Hall of Fame but before the 1901 season he jumped to the new American League with the Boston Americans. He played for the Boston team through 1908 as they transitioned from the Somersets to the Pilgrims and finally the Red Sox. He also pitched in the first World Series, in 1903, and won two games for the victorious Red Sox.

He retired after the 1911 season, following 2 seasons with the Cleveland Naps and a year split between the Naps and the Boston Rustlers. His arm was as strong as ever, but, as the somewhat portly pitcher told an interviewer, he could not field bunts as well as he once could, and "when the third baseman has to do my work for me, it's time to quit." He retired with 511 wins, almost 100 more than any other pitcher ever.

Among Young's 511 major league victories were three no-hitters. One of them, on May 5, 1904 against the Philadelphia Athletics, was a perfect game in which he out-dueled Rube Waddell. Young was so intent on defeating the great lefthander that he didn't realize he had pitched a perfect game until he was congratulated for doing so. In later years, he considered this game his greatest day in baseball. It was part of an astonishing performance that resulted in a record for most consecutive scoreless innings and most consecutive no-hit innings, the latter a record that still stands.

Young's longevity is nearly unique – the injury rate caused by pitching conditions at the turn of the century limited even the most talented to pitching careers that rarely lasted a single decade, let alone two. Pitchers regularly pitched entire games, there being no specialized relievers, and good pitchers were used hard. No modern pitcher ever pitches the number of innings many managed in those days. Only Nolan Ryan, Tommy John, and Satchel Paige have significantly surpassed Young's number of years pitched. On the other hand, it must be noted that pitchers of that era were expected to complete their games. They paced themselves throughout the game and seldom threw as many hard pitches in the early and middle innings as today's pitchers. There was also little danger of home runs being hit and a pitcher could frequently throw the pitch down the center of the plate and let the batter hit the ball in play. These circumstances enabled the better pitchers of the day to put up large totals of complete games and innings pitched.

Cy Young died on November 4, 1955 in Newcomerstown, Ohio where he grew up.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1937.

In this inning we’ll open up the Baseball Dictionary

Under the letter: M

Magic Number

The combination of wins and losses that add up to a championship for a first-place team. The total number of games that the leading team in a division or league must win and/or the second-place team must lose to clinch the championship for the leader. If, for example, the Giants magic number is six with the Padres in second place, any combination of Giants wins and Padres losses adding up to six gives the championship to the Giants. Sorry, Padre fans.

To determine the magic number, combine the second-place team’s wins and number of games remaining; from this total, subtract the leading team’s number of wins. The difference plus one equals the magic number. The magic number usually comes into play near the end of the season.

When a team is eliminated, the term is sometimes used facetiously. An example from a San Francisco Chronicle headline dated September 13, 1960 read, “Magic Number for S.F. is 1961.”

And now for the ninth inning…

Continuing our trip around baseball cities…

The team is the Chattanooga Lookouts.

This team is a Class AA affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. They play their home games at BellSouth Park in Chattanooga Tennessee.

Chattanooga has a baseball history dating back to 1885 when their team became a charter member of the Southern League.

The Chattanooga team played its first game at Engel Stadium on April 15, 1930 and in 1932 won the Dixie Series.

1966 through 1975 saw no baseball team in the Tennessee town but in 1976 the Lookouts returned to Chattanooga as an affiliate of the Oakland Athletics and later associations with the Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners. In 1987 the team became an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds that remains today.

In November of 1998, team president Frank Burke announced plans to build a privately funded baseball stadium on Hawk Hill in downtown Chattanooga, contingent upon the sale of 1800 season tickets. The 1800th season ticket was sold on January 28, 1999 and construction for the new stadium began in early March.

On April 10, 2000 the Lookouts defeated the Birmingham Barons 5-4 in the first Southern League game played at BellSouth Park.

For those of you that want to stick around, here’s an

Extra Inning

You can email me at baseballhistory@gmail.com. Transcripts of the game can be found at baseballhistorypodcast.blogspot.com. Well, that’s it for today’s game of Baseball History Podcast. I’ll see you later at the ballpark.