Name: Clay Buchholz
Organization: Boston Red Sox
Drafted: 2005, 1st Round (45th Overall)
Technically he's still considered a prospect, even though he threw a no-hitter against Baltimore last season. SoxProspects.com says that "Buchholz has a low-to-mid 90s four-seam fastball, a two seam fastball with decent movement, a slider, a hard 12-6 curveball, and a changeup." His best pitch is the curveball, followed by the changeup, then the 90 mph fastball.
In an early 2008 spring training session, according to rotowire.com, "Red Sox hitters were raving about Buchholz' 40-pitch batting practice session on Tuesday, the Boston Herald reports. "He has a fastball that moves, a really good changeup, and a good curveball," third baseman Mike Lowell said. "That's a pretty good mix to have when you can throw them all for strikes, and I think that's what separated him when he came up last year, that he threw them all for strikes." Kevin Cash caught Buchholz during the session and was equally impressed. "He was filthy." Cash said, "His changeup and curveball were great, but his changeup was even better than his curve. He really has them all, a 12-to-6 curveball, the changeup, and his slider is really nasty, too. He pretty much had it all going today." Buchholz, who is competing for the fifth starter spot in the rotation, will make his spring debut Sunday against Minnesota.
Name: Clay Buchholz
January 25, 2008 - Remember the days before exclusivity deals? Back when it was exciting to see how the two videogame iterations of our favorite sports stacked up against each other. EA Sports adds right analog stick, next year 2K would follow suit. 2K Sports adds in leagues for online play, next year EA Sports would do the same. The competition was fierce and the consumer benefited because of it.
Times have changed, though. With the NFL siding with EA and Major League Baseball going with 2K Sports (at least for third-party publishers) one might think that the feature set for each game would dwindle. After all, where's the incentive to push the envelope? Thankfully that hasn't been the case, as each franchise has been able to refine its game while still adding new elements each season. We've had a preview build of MLB 2K8 for a few days now and are happy to report that the same holds true with America's favorite pastime. Last year's MLB had far too many bugs and glitches to go along with its general lack of gameplay fluidity. Not only have 2K Los Angeles smoothed things out, but they've added new control dynamics that will likely change the way you experience videogame baseball.
Stop your throw (by releasing the stick) too soon and you'll release the ball too early, sending it high. Hold it too long and your throw will short-hop the base. Not only will you have to worry about when to release the right analog, the precise direction of your stick matters as well. The goal is to hold the stick as close to the cardinal direction as possible, but if you miss then your throw will go slightly astray. Sometimes you'll get lucky and the baseman will be able to adjust, other times it will result in a wild throw.
To finish reading this article, click here.
Name: Eric Hurley
Organization: Texas Rangers
Drafted: 2004, 1st Round
Eric Hurley, for the second consecutive season, was named the top prospect in the Rangers organization. Oddly enough, Hurley was passed on for a late 2007 September call up.
Hurley throws a fastball that averages anywhere between 94-96 mph, and is developing a slider and a changeup, both being good candidates for out-pitches in the major leagues someday.
Hurley started last season in Double-A, posting a 7-2 record with a 3.25 ERA. He was promoted to Triple-A where he struggled a bit (4-7, 5.52 ERA). His strikeout to walk ratio also dipped with the move, but was still consistent (he walked 27/28 in AA/AAA).
What Scout Magazine likes most about Eric Hurley is his mound presence; "The former first-round pick never appears flustered in any situation, and refuses to back down to any hitter."
We're not sure what to make of Hurley; his numbers fluctuate whenever he is initially promoted to another level, but eventually level off after spending another season at that level. Evidence located here courtesy of First Inning.
Name: Travis Snider
Organization: Toronto Blue Jays
Drafted: 2006, 1st Round (14th Overall)
Snider has been given the honor by multiple big league scouts of being the best hitting prospect selected in the 2006 draft. We like him just for the fact that he played for the Lansing Lugnuts, leading them offensively as he tore through minor league pitchers.
Selecting Snider was a major organizational shift for the Blue Jays, who previously frowned upon selecting players right out of high school. Consider this a wise move. According to Scout Magazine, one National League Scout had this to say of Snider; "The Blue Jays have themselves a legitimate threat. He's going to be a 10-time All-Star in the American League. I see him causing havoc in the major leagues within the next two years."
Snider is expected to begin the 2008 season with Dunedin, but will most likely be promoted to New Hampshire come the summer. The Jays are taking their time with Travis, but once he reaches the majors, lookout.
Name: Tyler Colvin
Organization: Chicago Cubs
Drafted: 2006, 1st Round (13th Overall)
Immediately thrust into High A-Ball, promoted to Double-A, Floorida State League All-Star, selected to Team USA, walk-off grand slam against Oral Roberts in the College World Series Super Regional Round; Colvin's career has been peppered with highlights and accolades, and he's just 22-years old.
Colvin finished the season batting .299 with 16 home runs and 81 RBIs, all while nursing a sore shoulder.
According to Scout Magazine, the 6'3'' Colvin "has drawn comparisons to such big league outfielders as Steve Finley and Shawn Green." If Colvin adds some muscle to his lanky frame, he'd be capable of going yard 20-30 times a season.
It may be another year or two before you see Colvin in the majors, with the Cubs having a crowded outfield.
Name: Andrew McCutchen
Organization: Pittsburgh Pirates
Drafted: 2005, 1st Round (11th Overall)
The Pirates, mired in a "culture of losing", did everything necessary to purge the organization of the old regime this offseason. GM's, managers, farm directors, and the team president were fired, replaced, or eased out. The only holdover was the hot dog salesman in section 39.
The future for the Bucs, however, may begin to get a little brighter. McCutchen is the jewel of an otherwise barren farm system, outside of 1B/OF masher Steve Pearce.
Despite struggling in Double-A last season, McCutchen was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis, playing in seventeen games. McCutchen caught a fire, batting .313, up from .258 in Altoona. In the Arizona Fall League, McCutchen helped his team win the championships, but his numbers again fluctuated. He finished the season batting .286, but hit .342 in the last 10 games of the season.
To say McCutchen is streaky, is an understatement.
Name: Jay Bruce
Organization: Cincinnati Reds
Drafted: 2005, 1st Round (12th Overall)
LOOKOUT! An expression that Ken Griffey, Jr will be hearing all season long if Jay Bruce doesn't break camp with the Reds in 2008. At the ripe old age of 20, Jay Bruce is slated to become Junior's replacement, its just a matter of "when".
Bruce was named Cincinnati's Minor League Player of the Year in 2007, hitting .319 with 46 doubles, 8 triples, and 26 home runs to go along with 89 RBI. Those numbers were combined stats resulting from time spent in Single, Double, and Triple-A ball. No matter where Bruce went, he hit.
Much of the same could be expected if Bruce heads north with the Reds this season. Scout Magazine describes Bruce as a five tool player without many flaws; "Add to that an impressive work ethic, and Bruce may have fans pushing to see the 20-year-old in Cincinnati by the end of the 2008 season."
Name: Manny Parra
Organization: Milwaukee Brewers
Drafted: 2001, 26th Round
If we said "future of the Brewers organization" and you immediately thought of Prince Fielder, keep reading. If you thought Manny Parra, you're way ahead of everyone else.
Parra is a 6'3", left handed, fire-balling (95mph consistently), young gun who occasionally dabbles in the fine art of the knuckleball. Oh yeah, and he pitched a perfect game in Triple-A last June.
Parra throws an assortment of pitches; a four seam fastball, a cutter, a nasty curve, and he's working on developing a better changeup.
Parra has been plagued throughout his career with odd injuries; stress fracture from weightlifting, shoulder problems that led to surgery in the 2005 season, and a broken thumb right after he was called up by the Brewers.
Parra, when healthy, is exciting. His minor league numbers (34-16, 528/147 K/BB ratio) just give a glimpse into what looks to be a promising career.
Name: Evan Longoria
Organization: Tampa Bay Rays
Position: Third Base
Drafted: 2006, 1st Round (3rd Overall)
Longoria looks to be the last of the once plentiful Rays Minor League talent. With all their jewels and stars lining their opening day roster, (or the Twins' roster) the Rays have finally taken their youth movement to the Major League level.
The Rays like Longoria so much, that they've decided to move Akinori Iwamura, last year's starting third basemen, over to second base. Baring injury or a chance in front office policy, Longoria is slated to play third for the Rays this season.
Longoria projects as a low .300 hitter with some nice pop in his bat. Look for him to hit at least 20 HRs this season, while Scout Magazine suggests he could easily knock around 30.
If you're looking for a third basemen in your fantasy league, Longoria might be your answer. In an interview with RaysDigest.com, a veteran scout said of Longoria; "Evan is the est hitting prospect out there, in my eyes. Look for him to hit 20-plus home runs as a rookie, and then consistently for years to come."
2K Sports released their first trailer for the upcoming installment in the MLB 2K Sports Series. Take a peak:
Name: Colby Rasmus
Organization: St. Louis Cardinals
Drafted: 2003 (Cardinals), 1st Round (28th Overall)
Actions tend to speak louder than words, so watching St. Louis ship Jim Edmonds to San Diego is pretty F***ing loud. You can't say much more about a minor leaguer than trading away your franchise (albeit aging) center fielder.
Rasmus won't be scared off by the bright lights of the Major Leagues. Rasmus led off for the 2007 Gold Medal winning USA World Cup team, batting a scorching .382.
According to Scout Magazine, Rasmus has the tendency to become pull happy, and the Cardinal Organization wants him to "continue to work on going the other way."
Rasmus will likely be handled with kid gloves, since he represents the only jewel in a depleted farm system. The Edmonds opens up a spot for Rasmus to fill, but Rotowire.com suggests that since the Cardinals are loaded in the outfield, Rasmus starting every day is just short of a sure thing.
Rasmus is a wiz defensively, and has a canon for an arm (he was a pitcher in high school, and was routinely clocked in the low 90's).
Name: Daric Barton
Organization: Oakland Athletics
Position: First Base
Drafted: 2003 (Cardinals), 1st Round (28th Overall)
The Big Gun in the Mark Mulder trade, Barton has heavy expectations laid on his shoulders. According to Scout Magazine; Barton "came to the A's with the reputation of being one of the best pure hitters in the minor leagues".
After being injured for most of the 2006 season (elbow injury), Barton's 2007 season was widely considered successful. During a three week call up with the A's, Barton batted .342 and crushed four homers.
Barton fits the mold Billy Beane tries to instill in his minor leaguers. He's walked more than he's struck out, and his plate patience has drawn rave reviews from within the organization.
Barton is slated to become the A's everyday first baseman in the upcoming 2008 campaign. Don't be fooled by those four home runs that Barton hit during his first "cup o' joe". Barton isn't really known for his defense or for wielding a powerful bat, just his ability to hit for average and get on base. First base is such a deep position in most fantasy leagues, so don't take a huge gamble on Barton.
Name: Ian Stewart
Organization: Colorado Rockies
Position: Third Base
Drafted: 2003, 1st Round
Rotowire.com says that "The Rockies' top hitting prospect put together a strong season in Triple-A in 2007. He hit .304 with 15 home runs and 65 RBI in 112 games but he still strikes out too much (once every 4.5 at-bats).
Ian Stewart will be competing for the starting second base job this year, with the departure of Kaz Matsui opening up a hole in the infield. Naturally a third baseman, Stewart would be the Major's biggest second baseman (6'3'') if he wins the starting job.
Scout Magazine projects Stewart to be a 25 plus home run hitter in Coors Field, and should he win the starting job, a candidate for Rookie of the Year honors in 2008.
Fantasy wise, Stewart is a great option, hitting in Coors Field with a potent Rockie lineup. Colorado has also hinted at having Stewart start the season in Triple-A to get him regular at-bats, buying the Rockies time to figure out what to do with him.
Name: J.R Towles
Organization: Houston Astros
Drafted: 2004, 20th Round
After a September call up, Towles proved to the Astros organization that he's qualified to handle the catching duties on the Major League Level.
Towles set a Astro record last season against the Cardinals, driving in eight runs in an 18-1 stomping.
Towles, initially was slow to move through the farm system, spending three seasons bouncing between rookie ball and Lexington.
2007 led to a horrific offensive start (Towles batted .200 in 90 at-bats in Salem) but was promoted twice before joining the Astros in September of that year. Astro pitchers have praised Towles' work behind the plate, but he could stand to work on his footwork and keeping would be base stealers quiet.
J.R. also has his own website and is a devout follower of the Christian Faith. He even has his own wristbands that are inscribed with "IBBWJ", or Taking an Intentional Walk With Jesus:
" These cool wrist bands are an exciting way to promote the unique message JR and staff had come up with. In a score book for baseball an "IBB" is an intentional walk. What a wonderful thought to have an "IBB" by your name in the book of Life, as you travel on your "Intentional Walk with Jesus"."
Name: Clayton Kershaw
Organization: LA Dodgers
Drafted: 2006, 1st Round, 7th Overall
Mixing in the wily veterans with a youth corps, the Dodgers are more than excited over the prospects of this 20 year old lefty tossing the pelota in Chavez Ravine this season. Scout Magazine lists him as the number one prospect in the Dodger organization, ahead of masher Andy Laroche and Double A reliever of the year award winner Jon Meloan.
Kershaw started his career in Low A-Ball (Great Lakes) and finished last year in Double A Jacksonville. Kershaw was a combined 8-7, but had an ERA of 2.95 , and batters hit at a .204 clip against the southpaw.
Will Kershaw be wearing Dodger blue this season? It depends. If he comes out firing on all cylinders in Vero Beach or if a Dodger starter gets hurt early in the season, there's reason to believe Kershaw will be considered for a call up.
The Philadelphia Phillies Traded pitcher Kyle Kendrick for a hot-dog eater on Monday. Pranks around major league clubhouses just got 100 times cooler than the old bubble gum on the hat trick.
Baseball is and will continue to be America's Pastime. With that honor comes great responsibility namely, the responsibility of having the leader of the free world throwing out the first pitch of a ball game.
Baseball is unique in that its the only major sport to have a leader of the country's armed forces take part in a pre-game ceremony that's been around for over a hundred years. Never do you see the President flip the coin or mock punt to start off the football season. Rarely does the President and his Secretary of State face off on the ice for a ceremonial kickoff to the NHL season. And, according to all of our sources, never has the President of the USA taken part in a ceremonial jump ball to get the NBA season rolling.
George Washington was known to have played rounders, an early form of baseball, during his stay at Valley Forge. See, and you thought it was all snow, and cold, and hardships.
In 1865, President Andrew Johnson was the first American President to bring the first organized baseball team to the White House to take a tour of the Presidential Estate.
According to Whitehouse.gov, President William Howard Taft was "the first President to throw out the first ball of the baseball season on April 14, 1910. He threw a pitch to the Washington Senator's Opening Day pitcher, Walter Johnson."
In 1937, FDR attended the All-Star Game and threw out the ceremonial first pitch, and after taking over for FDR upon his untimely death, President Harry Truman became the first presidential southpaw to kick off the baseball season.
After almost 150 years of baseball and the White House playing catch, President Bill Clinton became the first to successfully throw a pitch from the mound and actually reach the catcher.
President Bush (Jr.) threw out the (arguably) most famous first pitch, throwing a strike during game three of the World Series following the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Presidents aren't the only elected officials who receive the honor of throwing out the first pitch. Check out this famous footage of Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory launching a first pitch into God Knows Where:
Yes, we titled this post the corniest post known to baseball blogging. Get over it, we did. Keep reading, we've got spring training updates.
Carlos Beltran says the Mets are the team to beat. Not the Phillies. Take that Jimmy Rollins. We're hoping that this playground bickering will lead to an intense rivalry for the NL East. Mets/Phillies fights would be great to see. Like the Yankee/Sox fights at the turn of the century.
Closer, starter, ace, pinch hitter. What's next in link for Cardinals righty Adam Wainright? Mathew Leach of MLB.com talks about the future of the Cardinals dominating starter.
Devil Rays closer Troy Percival will be taking it easy this spring, but he says he's back to where he wants to be.
Are the Indians thinking about life without a few CC's in their rotation? MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince takes a look at the Indian's chances without their ace in the hole.
Rocco Baldelli will be taking it easy this spring training and will likely start the season as the Ray's DH. Rotowire reports that team officials sat down with Baldelli and outlined a plan for his safe return to the outfield.
Congressional hearings on an issue that has plagued America for almost two decades. Congressional hearings shedding light on faulty systems in place. Congressional hearings where finger pointing and the blame game have done nothing other than prove what a corrupt system can do to an institution. Millions of American tax payers' money being spent, yet there is still no solution, no plan, no end in sight.
For those of you thinking this is an article about the shortcomings of Iraq, health care reform, the burden placed on social security, or the head "scratchingly" absurd approval of multiple oil companies being allowed to merge, please stop reading right now.
We're talking about Congress taking its time to determine whether or not Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, or Miguel Tejada have taken steroids, or, "gasp
Shame on the Government for making a "Dog and Pony"
We understand there is a problem with PEDs and Steroids in baseball. Congress will waive the anti-monopoly act in front of Selig's face to get him and his players to talk.
We ask, is this the same anti-monopoly act that failed to make an appearance when Exxon and Mobile merge? Where is the Congressional Outcry for hearings and cameras?
Where are the Congressional Debates on the Iraq War? Why does Congress insist on
Guys like Indiana Congressman Rep. Dan Burton have NO
"You lie when it's just convenient for you. I don't know what to believe. I know one thing I don't believe, and that's you."
Hard hitting, poignant, controversial. Completely useless. A complete waste of time and a waste of taxpayer money.
Focus on the real issues. Baseball is just a game.
Since the majority of pitchers and catchers have been or will be reporting to their spring training camps, we figured that, lost in all the hub-bub of moving and packing, baseball players might have forgotten to send their sweetie a Valentine's Day poem.
Violets are blue,
Sorry honey, I took HGH
and steroids, too.
Baseballs are white,
and our turf is quite green,
Johan is gone,
and all hope, so it seems.
Stitches are red,
Roger Clemens is sad,
His best friend says K-man lied,
and that makes him mad.
We got a new name,
and some cool new digs,
but five bucks says,
you can't name a single player on our team
who plays in the Bigs.
Tulips are yellow,
and Violets are purple,
here's to hoping that my first plate appearance
makes me look not like Steve Urkel.
Lilacs are purple,
and their stems are shinny green,
how many times do I have to tell you?
I swear that I'm clean!
Some of baseball's ageless wonders seem to have found themselves in new uniforms for the upcoming season. And we're glad that the names Clemens or Bonds will be stitched on any of them.
Kenny Lofton has been talking with the Cincinnati Reds as of late. According to rotowire.com, if this move happens, Reds outfielder Jay Bruce will likely start the season in the minors.
Tony Armas signed a minor league deal with the Mets, leaving him with a very outside chance to crack the team's rotation.
Baseball's slowest pitcher Steve Traschel, signed a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles and received a spring training invite. Traschel started last season with the O's, before being traded to the Cubs in late August.
The Pirates signed defensive wiz Doug Mientkiewicz to a minor league deal. Mientkiewicz
will be competing for the backup first base job/pinch hitter role left open by Josh Phelps departure to St. Louis.
The Royals fan favorite Mike Sweeney agreed to join the Oakland Athletics, accepting a minor league deal and an invite to spring training.
The major sentiment amongst blacks during World War Two was, "if they were good enough to fight in the war for the United States, they were good enough to play baseball for the United States." What would be better than a black athlete beating Hitler’s “Machine” as Jesse Owens did during the Berlin Olympics? Blacks figured that the war would be a stepping stone into major league baseball. Blacks were willing to flock to the industrial cities in the north to continue to run manufacturing plants that aided the war effort.
Since many players either were off fighting the Evil Axis or were injured during combat, there would be a need to fill out the rosters in the major leagues. According to Benjamin Rader, “Blacks hoped that the manifest shortage of good big league players resulting from the war might provide them with opportunities to break the color ban. ‘How do you think I felt when I saw a one-armed [white big league] outfielder?’ exclaimed star black pitcher Chet Brewer.” (Rader; 164). Blacks often picketed outside of stadiums and carried signs that read “I can play in Mexico, but I have to fight in America where I can’t play!” or “If we are able to stop bullets, why not balls?” (Rader;164).
There were various attempts to force teams into filling their rosters with black ballplayers. On April 6, 1945 just six days before President Roosevelt died, “People’s Voice sportswriter Joe Bostic infuriated Branch Rickey by appearing at the Brooklyn Dodgers’ training camp with two black players in tow, for whom he demanded a tryout.” (Rader; 165). Apparently Rickey (who would eventually sign Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers, the first African American ballplayer) had no intention of considering the two player, but put them through infield and batting drills. The players were released shortly afterwards, but it was a small step for blacks.
After being approached by a city councilman, the Red Sox agreed to offer a tryout to Sam Jethro (Negro League batting champ in 1944), Marvin Williams, and Jackie Robinson. Unfortunately for the players, the Red Sox never contacted them after the tryouts. As long as Judge Landis was the commissioner of baseball, the unwritten rule concerning the color ban of baseball was to be kept intact. Despite continuous attempts to break into the league, blacks were rejected and Landis continued to deny the fact that there was a color ban. This eventually would change with Landis’ passing.
The next commissioner of baseball was a former governor of Kentucky; A.B. “Happy” Chandler. Chandler was quoted as saying, “If a black boy can make it in Okinawa and Guadicanal, hell, he can make it in baseball.” (Rader;165). This was good news for African Americans who wanted to break into the big leagues. The color barrier would not be broken by Jackie Robinson until three years after the war ended. Despite this fact, blacks made significant steps to break into the big leagues during the war years.
Baseball and America both matured dramatically during World War Two. Each institution was forced to make drastic changes to keep up with the growing world. Each also had to make sacrifices, as both lost men to the war. However, baseball and America both benefited from the war; America was able to lift itself from the Depression while baseball was able to lift itself from Judge Landis’ racist practices. Throughout World War Two, baseball gave birth to heroes on and off the field. Names such as Feller, Spahn, Williams, and DiMaggio were no longer found on lineup cards, but could be heard on morning roll calls in army camps throughout the world. Women in America answered the call for labor in American factories as well as on the baseball field. The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was intended to raise the spirits of the country. It accomplished that goal and more. Many of the women became famous for their play on the diamond and would eventually inspire movies to be made about their contributions to the war effort. African Americans improved their standings in American as well as in baseball. Although the gains were small, fighting for the country and attempting to break through baseball’s impassable color barrier were steps taken towards a better nation.
Baseball during World War Two continued to set many precedents for the country. In 1918, before the start of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, a band played “The Star Spangled Banner” for the first time at a sporting event. “The Star Spangled Banner” would continue to be played occasionally during World Series Games or on opening day; “by World War II, powerful, sophisticated public address systems let the fans hear it sung by vocalists or performed on recordings. By the end of the war in 1945 it had become an accepted practice to have the national anthem performed before each game.” (Rader 171-72).
As previously mentioned, the history of America and the history of baseball are very similar. In World War Two (as in the first World War) women would fill the jobs that were vacated by the men who left to fight the war. In baseball, the same was the case. A women’s baseball league was formed in attempts to keep the nations spirits high during the war. Philip Wrigley, the owner of the Chicago Cubs and the chewing gum baron, decided to form a women’s league and have them play in major league ballparks. The league pitted four teams against each other in an 108 game season. The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League consisted of the Racine (Wisconsin) Belles, the Kenosha (Wisconsin) Belles, the Rockford (Illinois) Peaches, and the South Bend (Indiana) Blue Sox.
In 1944, two more teams were added to the league; the Milwaukee Chicks and the Minneapolis Millerettes. Despite the popularity of the newly formed AAGPBL, it had its critics. Many of the opponents to women’s baseball bestowed the nicknames of “Amazon” or “muscle molls” to the league’s players. To combat this problem, more often then not, “prospective players were turned away for being too uncouth, too hard-boiled, or too masculine.” (Dreifort; 213). Wrigley wanted to make sure that his league had some level of respect. Wrigley decided that the best course of action would be to send his players to a charm school. He also decided that each team should have chaperones to ensure the safety and respectability of its players. “The chaperones were combination policewomen, nurses, business managers, surrogate mothers and best friends for more than 500 girls and women who played in the AAGPBL during its 12-year existence.” (Dreifort; 212).
Women’s baseball was not lacking in terms of star power or “drawing power” (a term used to describe a sport’s ability to attract fans). “Just as men’s baseball had its Babe Ruths and Ty Cobbs, women’s baseball had its standouts as well; women like Jean Faut, who pitched her way to three pitching championships, hurling two perfect games in the process, and Joanne Weaver, who won three consecutive batting titles from 1952-1954, amassing a .429 average in 1954.” (Dreifort; 213). Sophie Kurys was able to steal two hundred and one bases during the 1946 season. She was caught stealing by opposing team’s catchers only twice the entire season. The AAGPBL hired coaches like Jimmy Foxx and Dave Bancroft (both legends in their prime) to manage the women’s teams.
Women’s baseball was successful for a number of years during World War Two. However, this success would not last. Once the soldiers returned home from the war, the decline of the AAGPBL was evident. Throughout America, women left their jobs to return to the home as soldiers returned to their old jobs. The same occurred in baseball; ballplayers returned from the war front and continued their careers, basically rendering women’s baseball obsolete.
Women were not the only ones attempting to change American society by playing baseball. Towards the end of the war, there was a push for major league teams to sign African Americans in order to bring down the unofficial color barrier that major league baseball was employing in its practices. In 1943, Bill Veeck, a pioneer in the game of baseball, decided that he wanted to purchase the Philadelphia Phillies and was going to stock the team’s farm teams with talented black players from the Negro Leagues. “Commissioner Landis quickly squelched Veeck by blocking the purchase. While repeatedly denying the existence of any rule against signing blacks, Landis had in fact consistently policed the color line.” (Rader; 165).
To be continued.
Joe DiMaggio also fought in World War Two, but his experience was nothing compared to the other ballplayers who actually saw combat. DiMaggio’s first wife, Dorothy Arnoldine Olson, said she would divorce DiMaggio if he did not enlist with the Army. A friend of DiMaggio caught wind of the situation and promptly told the press that DiMaggio was planning to enlist. The International News Service were already running stories about DiMaggio’s planned enlistment, and for DiMaggio to backed out of the situation, it would look extremely un-American and unpatriotic. In his biography, author Richard Ben Cramer explains that DiMaggio’s wife never really intended for Joe to see any real fighting;
“She was always a planner-and she had this all worked out: Joe wasn’t
going to get hurt, wasn’t going to get near any war. Who was running
the Army? Why, men- American men, of course. And every one a
baseball fan. They’d do anything for DiMaggio! They’d carry him around
like a maharajah! So the first thing he had to do was ask for an Army
posting in L.A.” (Cramer; 207).
DiMaggio was then transferred from L.A. to Hawaii. Since the American Navy was off fighting the Japanese at sea, Hawaii had become a virtual safe haven for sailors and soldiers alike. The probability of another attack on Pearl Harbor or Hawaii itself was extremely unlikely. Therefor, the best place to send enlisted ballplayers was to the islands. DiMaggio, along with other major leaguers that were in the Army, spent the majority of their war days playing baseball against the Navy’s squad or minor league teams that called Hawaii home. DiMaggio hated the war, and hated the fact that he was loosing valuable time from his playing career. Eventually, DiMaggio checked into the Army hospital because of an attack of the ulcers. “Joe was in and out of that hospital like one of those new yo-yo toys. He couldn’t stay out and he couldn’t stay in. And he couldn’t figure out which he hated worse.” (Cramer 213). DiMaggio asked to be sent back to the mainland and put in a California hospital. Once healed, DiMaggio asked convinced Army brass to send him to “the Special Services in Atlantic City, New Jersey. That just happened to be the spring training home of the New York Yankees, who would gather there in a matter of weeks.” (Cramer 214).
Warren Spahn, the pitcher who won more games than any other lefty in major league history, served in the army for three years as a combat engineer. “Spahn saw action during the Battle of the Bulge, was wounded in the foot and survived the collapse of the Remagen Bridge in Germany” and he “returned from the war with three battle stars, a citation for bravery and a Purple Heart. Spahn also earned a battlefield commission as second lieutenant, the only major league player to earn such an honor.” (Mondore).
“The biggest wartime problem for American professional baseball was the loss of players to the armed forces. For opening day of 1944, Sporting News reported that only 40 percent of those who had played in 1941 were still in the starting lineups; all nine of the 194 Yankee starters, for example, had gone off to war.” (Rader; 172). Since baseball lost most of its major league talent, rosters were filled with men that were either too young or too old to be in military service. Some rosters were even filled with players who were handicapped. Peter Gray (real name was Pete Wyshner), an outfielder for the St. Louis Browns, only had one arm. During the war years, Gray accumulated fifty-one hits and racked up a career batting average of .218. Gray was “apparently highly unpopular with teammates who blamed him for the 1945 failure to repeat as league champs.” (Bjarkman; 306). During the war years, baseball had seen a decline in offense . This lack of offense and the loss of some of America’s favorite players to the war began to beg for some type of change in the game.
To be continued.
Baseball has been an integral part of American heritage throughout most of its history. The game of baseball was invented by Abner Doubleday in 1839 and has seen its share of American historical events. The game of baseball is very much like America itself. Baseball has survived a depression, countless wars (World War I and II, Korean War, Vietnam), internal scandals (Black Sox Scandal, Pete Rose’s gambling problems), and even union problems (players strike in 1972, 81, and 94, owner’s lockout in 1990). Baseball, like America, experienced a strong test of will during World War Two. Some of baseball’s greatest players lost valuable years from their career because they were fighting oversees.
Upon returning home from the war, many ballplayers could not return to the diamond because of injuries they sustained while fighting. Despite the negative effect war had on baseball, the game itself encountered a positive “rebirth” during the war years. Baseball became a national pastime, and its importance to America was recognized by one of the nation’s greatest leaders; Franklin Roosevelt. African-Americans were beginning to fill major league rosters. A women’s baseball league was formed. Many of America’s baseball heroes became war heroes. The history of baseball and America during World War Two was extremely important in the development of the game and the nation.
American involvement in World War Two did not intensify until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Then Commissioner, Judge Kennesaw “Mountain” Landis was considering the idea of shutting down baseball until the war ended. Landis wrote to the President, asking if he should allow major league teams to begin spring training. Franklin Roosevelt responded to Kennesaw's inquiry with the now famous Green Light Letter. In the letter, Roosevelt wrote;
“ My dear Judge:
Thank you for yours of January fourteenth . 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 a 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 the teams 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.
With every best wish,
Very sincerely yours,
Franklin D. Roosevelt” (www.baseball-almanac.com)
Roosevelt confirmed the fact that baseball had become America’s pastime, and now more than ever, he needed baseball to help Americans pass the time. As Roosevelt asked baseball to help keep American’s worry free for two hours, the military asked a number of ballplayers to enter the service. Roosevelt decided not to exempt current ball players from the draft because he felt the game would not loose its feel if it were played by men who were either too old or too young for the war. Famous players such as Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Bob Feller, and Warren Spahn all served in the United States military in one form or another.
Bob Feller became the first major leaguer to volunteer to fight in the war. Feller lost four years to the war, and by doing so, effectively cost him the chance of obtaining baseball’s three hundred career wins total, a very rare achievement for a pitcher. Feller decided to enlist with the United State’s Navy two days after Pearl Harbor was bombed. Feller served as an “anti-air craft gunner on the battleship Alabama with the Third Fleet. His fleet fought in battles at Tarawa, Iwo Jima and the Marshall Islands.” (Mondore). Also stated in Mondore’s article entitled “1942: When Baseball Went to War” was Feller’s comments regarding his experience with the war. Mondore wrote; “Humble over his own role in the war, Feller went on to state, "I am no hero. I came back. I never met a bullet with my name on it." The anti-air craft gunner earned five campaign ribbons and was studded with eight battle stars. (Mondore).
Ted Williams, the famous outfielder for the Boston Red Sox, served his country as a Marine fighter pilot during World War Two. Williams never actually saw any combat action during the war, but spent three years training with the Marines. “During his training, he set records for hits, shooting from wingovers, zooms and barrel rolls. He also set a still-standing student gunnery record, in reflexes, coordination and visual reaction time.” (Mayo). It wasn’t until the Korean War that Williams saw actual combat. His flying partner was none other than famous astronaut, John Glenn.
To be continued.
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