bobsbaseballmuseum.com Blog Just another WordPress weblog 2013-02-12T08:16:09Z http://bobsbaseballmuseum.com/blog/feed/atom/ WordPress Administrator <![CDATA[Babe Ruth 118 years old Feb 2nd]]> http://bobsbaseballmuseum.com/blog/?p=34 2013-02-12T08:16:09Z 2013-02-12T08:12:24Z George Herman Ruth was born on this day in Baltimore, Maryland, USA in 1895. Today is the 118th anniversary of his birth.

He was one of eight children born to George and Kate Ruth. Only he and his sister Mamie survived.  His parents ran a saloon  at 426 West Camden Street, a job that took much of their time. So George, Jr and Mamie were left to their own devices. As an adult Ruth reflected that he ran the streets as a kid, skipped school, chewed tobacco and drank beer while his father wasn’t looking. He was “incorrigible,” and that’s what his parents recorded on his entry documentation to St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys when he was sent he was just 7 years old.

St. Mary’s was part reformatory, part orphanage, part school and part work house. It was run by the Xavier Brothers and it served boys from ages 5 to 21. Ruth learned to make shirts as well as carpentry skills at the school. He lived there for 12 years. His parents seldom had the time to visit the school.

Ruth (top row, far left) at St Mary's Industri...
Ruth (top row, far left) at St Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, Baltimore, Maryland, c. 1912 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fortunately for Ruth, the prefect of discipline at St. Mary’s, Brother Matthias Boutlier, took him under his wing.

Ruth particularly looked up to a monk named Brother Mathias, who became a father figure to the young boy… Matthias, along with several other monks of the order, introduced Ruth to baseball, a game at which the boy excelled. [Biography.com]

Brother Matthias worked with Ruth to hone his hitting, pitching and fielding abilities. Ruth showed such promise that …

the Brothers invited Jack Dunn, owner of the Baltimore Orioles, to come watch (him)  play. Dunn was obviously impressed, as he offered a contract to (Ruth) in February 1914 after watching him for less than an hour…. Upon seeing (Ruth) for the first time, the Orioles players referred to him as “Jack’s newest babe”…[baberuth.com]

The nickname stuck and he was known as Babe Ruth from then on.

Babe Ruth pitching with Boston Red Sox, Comins...
Babe Ruth pitching with Boston Red Sox, Cominsky Park, 1914 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He started as a pitcher. First for Baltimore and then for the Boston Red Sox. By 1915 he was a “permanent fixture in the Red Sox rotation, …accumulating an 18-8 record with an ERA of 2.44.” [Ibid] Both his pitching and hitting game improved over the next few years and “In 1918, Babe Ruth pitched his 29th scoreless inning in a World Series. That record stood for 43 years!” [about.com]

English: American baseball player Babe Ruth in...
English: American baseball player Babe Ruth in 1921 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The following year he shifted his focus to his hitting game and earned a new record. This time for a whopping 29 home runs in a single season. Ruth was traded to the Yankees in 1920 and topped his home run tally (coming in at 54 for the year.) In 1921 he broke the record again with 59 home runs.  In 1927 Ruth, as part of the Yankees famous “Murderer’s Row” hit an amazing 60 home runs for the season — a record that stood for 34 years.

Over the course of his career, Ruth went on to break baseball’s most important slugging records, including:

  • most years leading a league in home runs (12);
  • most total bases in a season (457)
  • and highest slugging percentage for a season (.847).

In all he hit 714 home runs, a mark that stood until 1974, when Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves surpassed him. [Biography.com]

Baseball player Babe Ruth
Baseball player Babe Ruth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ruth helped the Yankees win seven pennants and four World Series. He wore pinstripes until 1934. He was ready to retire from the active roster and wanted to manage, but his off-field hijinks — he was almost as famous for his love of alcohol, women and food as he was for his ability to swing a bat — made owners think twice about placing him in a supervisory position. He was traded to the Boston Braves for his final season where he hoped to have both playing and assistant-management duties, but he soon realized the “management” part of his job was mostly P.R., public appearances and giving autographs.

Ruth with the Boston Braves in 1935, his last ...
Ruth with the Boston Braves in 1935, his last year as a player (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On May 25, 1935, an overweight and greatly diminished Babe Ruth reminded fans of his greatness one last time when hit three home runs in a single game at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The following week, Ruth officially retired. [Biography.com]

The Sultan of Swat, The Bambino, Number “3″ (Babe’s number in the Yankee batting line up and eventually the number on the back of his pinstripes) was inaugurated into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.

Babe Ruth
Babe Ruth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A decade later doctors discovered a tumor on his neck. Ruth had cancer. He died on August 16, 1948.

Babe still remains the greatest figure in major league baseball, and one of the true icons in American history. The Babe helped save baseball from the ugly Black Sox scandal, and gave hope to millions during The Great Depression. …He continues to be the benchmark by which all other players are measured. Despite last playing nearly 75 years ago, Babe is still widely considered the greatest player in Major League Baseball history. [baberuth.com]

Gehrig_&_Ruth[1]
#4 Gehrig and #3 Ruth were the heart of Murderer’s Row and the Yankees.

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Sigh, it kills this Baltimore Orioles girl to write “Y – A – N – K – E – E -S”  so often in a post. Please know I could only do it for the Babe (and for Lou Gehrig when it is his turn). When is Brooks Robinson’s birthday?

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Administrator <![CDATA[Stan the man Passes on]]> http://bobsbaseballmuseum.com/blog/?p=30 2013-02-12T08:03:39Z 2013-02-12T07:58:39Z Baseball great Stan Musial died on January 19. He was 92.

In September 2007, I was invited to speak to a civic group in St. Louis. I told the person who invited me I would do it on one condition: that I could meet baseball great Stan Musial.

“That’s no problem,” he said. “We are members of the same sports club.”

I forget what I said in the speech — and the audience probably has long forgotten, too, — but I will always remember having lunch with Stan Musial.

If ever there was a sports role model, Stan Musial was one.

Stan regaled me with baseball stories.

I asked him how it all began. He said when he was in high school during the Depression a baseball scout came to his hometown of Donora, Pa. The scout told Musial’s father he wanted to sign him to a contract.

Musial said his father rejected the offer, telling the scout, “My son is going to college.” Musial’s father worked in a steel mill and never got a college education. Like most fathers, he wanted a better life for his son and believed college would be his ticket to success.

The scout left, but he returned several weeks later to again ask that Stan be allowed to play professional baseball. He was rejected again. Musial says the scout then appealed to “a higher authority, my mother” and she agreed.

In 1938, Musial was signed as a pitcher to a professional baseball contract. I asked him how much they paid him. As I now recall, it was about $2,000 to $3,000. With so many players of lesser skill making millions today, I didn’t begrudge him selling his autograph on baseballs and memorabilia.

After injuring his arm as a minor-league player, Musial was moved to the outfield and then to first base where he began to hit the ball like few left-handers ever had. He became one of the greatest hitters in Major League Baseball history.

If ever there was a sports role model, Stan was one. A World War II veteran and family man, Musial played his entire career with the St. Louis Cardinals, a rarity today when players, like interchangeable parts, are traded often or jump to other clubs for more money.

President Obama touched on Musial’s character when he presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in February 2011. The president said then, “Stan remains to this day an icon untarnished, a beloved pillar of the community, a gentleman you’d want your kids to emulate.”

In our celebrity culture where it doesn’t matter why you’re famous, only that you are famous, we don’t focus enough on true achievement and the untarnished. Musial’s contemporaries, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, received more media attention than he did, but Stan never publicly expressed any bitterness. They were in larger media markets — New York and Boston, respectively — which may account for some of it, though it was in New York that Musial acquired his moniker “The Man.” The Sporting News reports that, “According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Musial earned ‘The Man’ nickname ‘by (Brooklyn) Dodgers fans for the havoc he wrought at Ebbets Field.’ ”

Sporting News quoted Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson: “Stan will be remembered in baseball annals as one of the pillars of our game. The mold broke with Stan. There will never be another like him.”

On that one day in 2007, as I had lunch with my childhood hero, I was a kid again. For me, it was better than any politician I have met or dined with. He signed a baseball for me, for free. It sits encased on a shelf in my office.

In so many ways, on and off the field, Stan Musial was indeed “The Man.”

Cal Thomas is America’s most widely syndicated newspaper columnist and a Fox News contributor. Follow him on Twitter@CalThomas. Readers may e-mail Cal Thomas at tmseditors@tribune.com.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/01/26/baseball-legend-stan-musial-lived-up-to-moniker-man/#ixzz2Kfazo9eY

They were the Greatest Generation’s Greatest Ballplayers, born within six years of each other in another time and place.

Nicknames are sufficient identification. Am talking about the Yankee Clipper/Joltin’ Joe (born Nov. 25, 1914), The Thumper/The Kid/Teddy Ballgame (born Aug. 30, 1918), Rapid Robert (born Nov. 3, 1918) and The Man (born Nov. 21, 1920). Throughout the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, they were the living icons carved into baseball’s mythical Mount Rushmore, the absolute créme de la créme of baseball players, each with a remarkable record and each with a specific persona.

What was once four is now zero. The Yankee Clipper/Joltin’ Joe (Joe DiMaggio) died in 1999. The Thumper/The Kid/Teddy Ballgame (Ted Williams) died in 2002. Rapid Robert (Bob Feller) died in 2010. The last one of the four standing was The Man (Stan Musial), who died at 92 last Saturday. New living icons (Yogi, Willie, Hank, Ernie, Whitey, etc.) move up a notch.

DiMaggio’s saga is in some ways the most interesting, given that his body of work was so much smaller than the others. He missed three full years during World War II (they all served), and averaged only 126 games in his final six seasons because of injury. He played 556 fewer games than Williams and a whopping 1,290 fewer than Musial.

But, whoa, what a fabulous first seven prewar years!

In that span, DiMaggio twice led the league in batting (including .381 in 1939), twice led the league in total bases, and four times had an OPS in excess of 1.000. Then, of course, there was the 56-game hitting streak in 1941 that captivated a nation and even produced Les Brown’s hit record, “Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio.” In addition, he was acclaimed as the consummate center fielder, the consummate base runner, the consummate all-around ballplayer, period.

But his aura far transcended the numbers. He was acknowledged as the Next Great Yankee, the man to whom The Babe and the Iron Horse had passed the torch. And as time went on, he reveled in the image, constructing his own legend by his reticence or his haughtiness, however you prefer. It was abetted by a worshipful New York press corps led by the highly influential Jimmy Cannon, who became a friend and confidant during their postgame get-togethers at Toots Shor’s.

Marrying Marilyn Monroe at the peak of her fame was a perfect adjunct to the story line. The marriage lasted nine months, but the Yankee Clipper’s public pining for her during the remaining 45 years of his life stoked the legend.

DiMag loved being DiMag, going so far as to demand it be written into any appearance contract that he be introduced as “The Greatest Living Ballplayer.”

I doubt I need explain Ted Williams to a Boston audience. Perhaps you’ve been to his tunnel.

It’s down to Ted, The Babe, and The Big Head (that would be Barry Bonds) as the greatest hitter in history. Each played in a distinct era. Babe never played a night game, made a West Coast trip, or competed against athletes of color.

Ted never had to face a nightly roll call of nasty situational relievers. He and his contemporaries got to feast on a tired starter in the seventh, eighth, or ninth inning on countless occasions. And Barry never had to hit without wearing a pseudo suit of armor against pitchers who threw at batters with impunity in order to stake their claim to the plate.

I could go a gazillion ways with Ted, but I’ll sum it up with a few career stats. On-base percentage: .482 Slugging percentage: .634. OPS: 1.116.

I said career stats. And here’s one more for you modern stat guys: Career OPS-plus (with 100 being the norm): 190.

Ted’s stormy relationship with the press during his playing days gave way to a Feisty Grand Old Man portrayal as he aged. As difficult as it would have been to believe when he retired in 1960, by the time he died 42 years later, he could be well-described as “beloved.”

Feller’s back story involved being an Iowa farm boy, a 17-year-old major league whiz kid, and the man who may have thrown as hard in his prime as anybody ever. Like his fellow Rushmorites, he spent his entire career (1936-56) with one team, in this case the Cleveland Indians. He was 23 when he went to war, and was coming off a three-year period in which he went 76-33 while averaging 320 innings and 256 strikeouts.

When he retired, he was the leader in no-hitters with three and the leader in one-hitters with 12. He may very well have peaked at age 27 when he went 26-15 (48 starts!) while striking out a then-record 348 men, but he was a well-respected pitcher for a full decade before he quit. He retired with 266 victories, and a conservative estimate is that he would have had at least 70 more, absent the war.

In retirement, he became well-known throughout baseball for his, um, forthright high-decibel opinions on anything and everything. We’ll let it go at that. Respected he was, but beloved he was not.

Musial’s career twist was simple. He was a lefthanded pitcher right through 1940 until he hurt his arm. By late 1941, he was in the Cardinals lineup as an outfielder, breaking in with a .426 September BA. When he retired 22 years later, he was the all-time National League leader in everything meaningful, including Best Musician (harmonica). My favorite Musial stat: 3,630 lifetime hits — 1,815 at home and 1,815 on the road. No Coors Field effect for him.

A Brooklyn fan supposedly gave him the nickname in 1947 or so, sighing, “Here comes that man again,” as Stan strode to the plate.

The Man was the least touched by WWII, serving only in 1945 in a non-combat role.

The Yankee Clipper spent all of 1943, 1944, and 1945 stateside, and, according to one commanding officer, he did so moaning and groaning every single day. His official job was phys ed instructor. He did not want to play ball, sign autographs, or give interviews.

The Thumper went in kicking and screaming after the 1942 season, trying to get a deferment on behalf of his widowed mother. The Naval Corps folks quickly deemed him too valuable to be sent to the skies because he was far more useful to them as an instructor. His celebrated combat missions (37 of them) came in the Korean War.

Rapid Robert was the true WWII icon. Enlisting with the Navy in January of 1942, he adamantly refused any celeb status, demanding a real assignment. And so he served as a gunner on the USS Alabama for three years. He was proud of his service to his dying day, as he should have been.

Each of these icons had enormous followings. But there was only one among the four of whom no bad words were uttered or negative thoughts broached, and that was The Man. There are two statues of him at Busch Stadium, and the inscription on the first pretty much sets him apart from his fellow Rushmorites. The words are attributed to former National League president Ford Frick, and they read as follows:

“Here stands baseball’s perfect warrior. Here stands baseball’s perfect knight.”

Sounds like a life well-lived.

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Administrator <![CDATA[Merry Christmas and Happy New year]]> http://bobsbaseballmuseum.com/blog/?p=27 2011-12-22T06:51:36Z 2011-12-22T06:51:36Z 0 Administrator <![CDATA[Fare well Harmon Killebrew]]> http://bobsbaseballmuseum.com/blog/?p=21 2011-05-18T04:31:57Z 2011-05-18T04:31:33Z A great player and a better man Harmon lost his battle with cancer and he will be missed

http://harmonkillebrew.com/index.html

(Scottsdale, AZ)  –  Baseball Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew is dead.
The former Twins slugger lost his battle with esophageal cancer today at the age of 74.
Killebrew began hospice care last week saying he “had exhausted all options” in fighting the rare disease.
Nicknamed “Killer” for his ability to hit the long ball, Killebrew is the fifth Hall of Famer to pass away in slightly more than one year.
The legend hit 573 career home runs.

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Administrator <![CDATA[Giants among men]]> http://bobsbaseballmuseum.com/blog/?p=15 2011-01-06T06:48:07Z 2011-01-06T06:46:27Z Congrats to the 2010 World Champs the under rated, under manned and basically off the radar San Francisco Giants. In the familiar words “Giants win the pennant, the Giants win the pennant” way to go!!!

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Administrator <![CDATA[Ken Kribbs]]> http://bobsbaseballmuseum.com/blog/2011/01/06/ken-kribbs/ 2011-12-22T06:44:08Z 2011-01-06T06:13:57Z Thank you Ken for adding Bob’s Baseball Museum to your Books

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Administrator <![CDATA[Happy New Year]]> http://bobsbaseballmuseum.com/blog/2011/01/06/happy-new-year/ 2011-01-06T06:12:43Z 2011-01-06T06:12:43Z Happy New Year to all of you

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Administrator <![CDATA[Fare well Bob Feller]]> http://bobsbaseballmuseum.com/blog/2011/01/06/fare-well-bob-feller/ 2011-01-06T06:11:56Z 2011-01-06T06:11:56Z Robert William Andrew “Bob” Feller (born November 3, 1918 in Van Meter, Iowa), nicknamed the “Heater from Van Meter” and “Rapid Robert”, is an American former Major League Baseball pitcher and Hall of Famer.

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Administrator <![CDATA[Hall of Fame]]> http://bobsbaseballmuseum.com/blog/2011/01/06/hall-of-fame/ 2011-01-06T06:09:31Z 2011-01-06T06:09:31Z Congrats to Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven 2011

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Administrator <![CDATA[Garage sale card on the auction block]]> http://bobsbaseballmuseum.com/blog/2009/02/02/garge-sale-card-on-the-auction-block/ 2011-01-06T06:42:50Z 2009-02-02T05:13:24Z You heard the story,seen the card and now it is up for auction

http://www.memorylaneinc.com/

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