A Moment in Time – 8/23/36

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Sunday, August 23, 1936, Comiskey Park, Chicago, and in one of the most beautiful Negro League photos you’ll see, the “East” roster poses for photos prior to the 4th Annual East-West All-Star Game.

Running parallel to the Major League’s midsummer classic but typically held later in the season, it was initiated in 1933 and was primarily a Comiskey Park event for much of its 30-year existence, hosting the games from 1933-1945 (with rookie KC Monarch Jackie Robinson playing in the 1945 contest), 1947-1957, and 1959-1960 (excepting second games added in 1939, 1942, and 1948, and two games at other venues in 1946, the only games at Yankee Stadium in 1958 and 1961, and the final game at Municipal Stadium at Kansas City in 1962).

Voting was done through newspaper balloting, tallied by two major African-American papers of the day, the Chicago Defender and the Pittsburgh Courier. As some teams were independent, votes were counted by geographic location and not by league, hence the “East-West” game.

 

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Three of the greatest Negro League players in history, on the same All-Star team in 1936: Satchel Paige, top left, Josh Gibson, top right, Cool Papa Bell, lower left

“East” luminaries pictured include a young (27 year old) Satchel Paige, an even younger (24 year old) Josh Gibson, and Cool Papa Bell. Manager and Negro Leagues legend Oscar Charleston (see above) is kneeling far left (1st in second row).

Attendance was 26,400. Only four teams were represented, the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Washington Elite Giants for the East, and the Kansas City Monarchs and Chicago American Giants for the West. The top vote getter for both teams was Paige, with 18,275 votes, over 7,000 more than anyone else.

It was a laugher for the East, 10-2, paced by Bell (3 for 3) and Gibson (2 for 3). Paige pitched the last 3 innings to close it out, only allowing an unearned run.

Cover and East lineup from the scorecard are below.

 

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Interesting articles from the Pittsburgh Courier, August 29, 1936, only published on Saturdays at that time (as always, click on photo to see a larger more readable version), including a bit of editorializing from the City Editor’s desk, pleading the case of their constituents: “There will eventually be “color” in the major leagues, and that color will be black!”. He was right, just a little over a decade away.

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In Memoriam – Bobby Doerr

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Bobby Doerr vs Yankees at Fenway Park (Bill Dickey catching), 1940 or 1941

 

A small tribute to Bobby Doerr, the “silent captain” and 9-time All Star second baseman who played his entire Hall of Fame career for the Boston Red Sox (1937-1951), the oldest living major leaguer, as well as the oldest Hall-of-Famer, and the last surviving major leaguer from the 1930’s, who passed today at 99.

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Doerr at Fenway

Doerr was one of the dominant second baseman of his era, at one point handling 414 chances without an error, but was also a clutch performer at the plate; although not a classic power hitter, he drove in 100 or more runs six times, was the Red Sox hits leader when he retired in 1951, and remains in the Top 10 in many offensive categories for the club to this day.

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Rookie Ted Williams and Doerr in 1939

While the legendary Ted Williams is thought of in retrospect as a somewhat stoic type that was all baseball business, Bobby Doerr (although only a few months older) was an early mentor for the young, wild Williams, who debuted in 1939, with Ted bestowing the moniker “silent captain” on the determined yet down-to-earth Doerr.

Doerr had one of his best seasons in 1944, sporting a .325 average and led the league in slugging, earning AL Player of the Year honors from the Sporting News, this despite being called up for military service in early September (which was unfortunate for the Red Sox, in the midst of a pennant race at that time). Doerr’s service extended into the next year, necessitating missing the entire 1945 season.

redsox46flagHe came back strong in 1946, finishing third to Williams in the MVP voting in the Red Sox’s pennant-winning season; unfortunately, while batting over .400 in the 1946 World Series Boston again fell short of winning a championship. The Red Sox celebrated their second base All-Star by giving him a Bobby Doerr Night in August 1947.

In 1948, the now veteran Doerr set the then record of 414 errorless chances noted above. While he continued to be consistent into the 1950’s with All-Star selections in 1950 and 1951, back problems had slowed him, eventually leading to him shutting down a month early in 1951, and at age 33, electing for retirement rather than risk more serious injury.

While Doerr retired as the Red Sox leader in many offensive categories as noted above, his career home/road splits were still eye-opening: .315 career at Fenway, as opposed to .261 on the road. And again not to be denied on defense, he led AL second basement in double plays 5 times, and held the MLB record for double plays at 2B until the 1960’s.

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Carl Yastrzemski and Doerr, on the eve of the 1967 World Series

Doerr returned to the Red Sox in later years as a scout and instructor, and fittingly was hired as first base coach for the pennant-winning 1967 season. He resigned after manager Dick Williams was fired in 1969. He returned as a hitting coach for the expansion Blue Jays from 1977-1981, eventually retiring from baseball for good to his home in Oregon. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1986, and his #1 was retired by the Red Sox in 1988.

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Jimmie Foxx and Doerr in 1939

 

 

 

And now, some historic audio of Bobby Doerr. Vintage baseball broadcast audio from Fenway Park is quite rare, and only one known recording of Bobby Doerr in action at Fenway is known to exist: It happens to be from the earliest surviving audio from Fenway Park, Monday, April 18, 1938, Opening Day vs the Yankees. After being a part-time player in 1937, Doerr was to begin his first full season as the Red Sox second baseman, at the tender age of 20. Doerr slotted in alongside Hall-of-Famers Jimmie Foxx at 1B and Joe Cronin at SS, and batted 7th, against the defending WS champion Yankees, with a lineup packed with 4 HOFers including Lou Gehrig, of which Doerr was the last surviving MLB player to have played with Gehrig. Doerr went 2-4 with 2 RBIs, as Boston took their home opener 8-4.

The surviving audio is a partial game, only through the 4th inning (see YT link at bottom). But today I made a quick video of game moments from that contest involving Doerr, below. 1930’s audio to enjoy, as the last surviving MLB player from the 1930’s passes into memory.

 

Here is the entire 4 innings of the earliest surviving Fenway audio (and again the only Fenway Doerr audio). Unfortunately the first half-hour or so is marred by extraneous pops, clicks and pac-man (lol) like noises, but an historic document.

 

RIP, 1930’s. RIP silent captain.

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A Moment in Time – 4/12/32

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The Polo Grounds, New York – Tuesday, April 12, 1932

 

Tuesday, April 12, 1932, the season opener with the Giants hosting Philadelphia, top of the 3rd inning and the count is 2-2 on the Phillies’ Kiddo Davis, in against New York’s Hi Bell. The Giants have the infield in with men on second and third, but the horse was already out of the barn, as it was already 7-1 Phillies at this point, lefty Bill Walker getting socked for 7 runs and knocked out after retiring no one in the 2nd inning. Bell came in to stem the tide, but here in the third Davis would knock in another run on a sac fly and another run would cross to make in 9-1 Phils as they cruised to victory, 13-5, with help from 5 Giant errors.

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Bill Walker

Walker’s terrible start after leading the NL in ERA in 1931 (2.26) was a precursor for the 1932 campaign, as he had the worst season of his career, going 8-12 with a 4.14 ERA. Philadelphia’s Phil Collins would go all the way for the victory and pace the visitors’ 17-hit attack with a 4-4 day at the plate.

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John McGraw

After finished second in 1931, the Giants never had a winning record in 1932, and longtime manager John McGraw retired on June 1, succeeded by Bill Terry, and would finish 72-82, tied for 6th place. McGraw would return to manage the NL in the first All-Star Game in 1933, while Terry reversed the fortunes of the Giants, leading them to the 1933 pennant.

In 1932, the Phillies, under Burt Shotton, would finish with a winning record at 78-76, in 4th place, 12 games behind the Cubs, their first winning season in 15 years. It was short-lived, as their next winning season would not be until 1949.

 

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Credit/info on reverse of original photo

 

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NY Times (partial) coverage of the day

 

Dodger Stadium’s First Championship

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In honor of the Dodgers looking to clinch the World Series tonight in Dodger Stadium, a look back at the first World Series clinched at Chavez Ravine, Dodgers vs Yankees, Game 4, Sunday, October 6, 1963.

 

sikoufax63Los Angeles narrowly missed the World Series in their first season in Dodger Stadium in 1962. Despite a strong campaign, Koufax was plagued by a finger injury, which caught up with him as the season wound down and rendering him mostly ineffective in the winner-take-all 3-game playoff vs the S.F. Giants after ending in a flatfooted tie at season’s end. So all eyes were on the Dodgers and Sandy Koufax (and his finger) to lead them back to the Fall Classic in 1963. And despite a slow start, possibly from a ’62 hangover, they did gain steam in the summer and this time, with Koufax rebounding strongly to go 25-5 and earn both MVP and Cy Young honors, held off the Giants (and the Cardinals) to earn the first NL pennant flag to fly at Chavez Ravine.

63wsproglaAnd Koufax didn’t let up in the World Series either, setting the tone with a dominant performance in Game 1 at Yankee Stadium, fanning a then-World-Series-record 15 batters, going all the way for the victory. And with 1955 World Series hero Johnny Podres in Game 2 and Don Drysdale in Game 3 (the first W.S. game at Dodger Stadium) also twirling gems against the aging Bombers, the Dodgers were poised to close out the Yankees with the league’s best pitcher again taking the mound. His opponent would be the future Hall-of-Famer Whitey Ford, who had lost Game 1 to Koufax and was looking for redemption, and to help his team live another day.

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Koufax started out strong, being perfect through 3 innings, and allowing his first baserunner in the 4th on a fly ball that Willie Davis lost in the sun for a double, but quickly got two more outs to quell the threat. And Ford matched him inning by scoreless inning, until the Dodgers broke through in the 5th on a home run by big Frank Howard to make it 1-0 L.A.

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Koufax nursed his single-run lead until the 7th, when Mickey Mantle went deep (above) to knot the score at 1-1. But the Dodgers would answer in their half of the 7th on an error by Joe Pepitone at 1B on a throw from 3B Clete Boyer that allowed Jim Gilliam to scamper all the way to third with none out. Willie Davis then hit a sac fly to score Gilliam, and the Dodgers were back on top, 2-1.

Koufax would strand a single in the 8th and take a 2-1 lead to the 9th with three outs to go to secure the title. Bobby Richardson would lead off with a walk, but Koufax bore down and got both Tom Tresh and Mantle on called third strikes, leaving only one out to go. An untimely error by 2B Dick Tracewski allowed Elston Howard to reach, putting runners on first and second, but Koufax got Hector Lopez to ground out 6-3 to clinch the 1963 World Series.

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Final out of the 1963 World Series

 

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Maury Wills looks on as Sandy Koufax and Johnny Roseboro celebrate winning the 1963 World Series

 

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1964 Topps cards celebrating the Dodgers’ Game 4 win and Championship

 

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Sandy Koufax and Vin Scully in the winning clubhouse at Dodger Stadium

 

The Dodgers had won the World Series in 1959, while in residence at the L.A. Coliseum, but clinched that title in Chicago (against the White Sox). They would win another World Series in 1965, with Koufax again pitching the clincher, but this time at Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis against the Twins. Koufax would return to the Fall Classic one more time in 1966, but they were shut out by the Baltimore Orioles, with Koufax calling it a career soon after due to lingering injuries.

Nevertheless, Sandy Koufax will always be the Dodger that christened beautiful Dodger Stadium with their first-ever World Series Championship. And he will certainly be there tonight as well, 54 years later, in the first Fall Classic in the stadium in 29 years. Can he close out just one more title at Chavez Ravine?

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A Moment in Time – 5/31/69

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Shea Stadium, Saturday, May 31, 1969

 

Saturday, May 31, 1969, Shea Stadium, NY, and the Mets are hosting the San Francisco Giants for a weekend set. The Mets enter the game 20-23, in 4th place, already 9 games behind the high-flying Chicago Cubs in the newly christened NL East – 1969 just may be the Northsiders year!

Gary Gentry (3-4) takes the hill against Gaylord Perry (7-4) with 32,178 on hand. Seaver won the opener the night before, with the Mets hoping to make hay on this 8-game homestand before a west coast road trip.

In fact, this homestand was the beginning of the turnaround for the 1969 Mets – despite a 2 run HR from Willie McCovey (283rd career) in the 4th (in the midst of his MVP season), they’d win this game 4-2, led by Ed Charles, who knocked in all 4 runs, including a 3 run HR. Gentry scattered 5 hits through 7 and Tug McGraw pitched the last 2 innings with 4Ks for his first (!) save of the season.

After dropping the first game, the Mets would go on to have a 7-1 homestand, and carry the momentum out to the west coast, winning 11 in a row to move to 29-23. Although only picking up 2 games on the red-hot Cubs (now being 7 back), the tide had turned and they’d hang with the Cubs all summer, setting up their September showdown.

Click on each photo to link to much larger versions!

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Sketches of Major League Parks by Gene Mack – From the 1946-1947 Sporting News

Hey all, similar to my recent post Visiting Major League Parks – Complete Set from the 1933-1934 Sporting News and the earlier Burns-Eye Views of Big League Parks from the 1937 Sporting News, this is yet another interesting series I discovered in the SN archives (the gift that keeps on giving) from a later era, the 1946-1947 seasons, cartoon illustrations of the major league parks of the day. As the others, I had posted them individually in their respective threads and now also as one post over at the Baseball-Fever.com ballparks area (as my alpineinc alter ego), and am now posting this series as one on this blog, for all to see and enjoy.

This series is complete, with 14 illustrations in all, representing the 15 major league parks in 1946-1947 (Cleveland Municipal Stadium, and League Park, which the Indians left for good after the 1946 season, are both in one illustration), for the 16 major league teams (parks were shared by two teams in Philadelphia and St Louis). There are 15 images total, including the introduction to the series in July 1946.

There’s really no embellishment needed on my part, the series is very enjoyable for fans of baseball history, with little nuggets of trivia sprinkled throughout.

The series in order:

Comiskey Park (Chicago White Sox)
Cleveland Municipal Stadium and League Park (Cleveland Indians)
Briggs Stadium (Detroit Tigers)
Sportsman’s Park (St Louis Cardinals and St Louis Browns)
Shibe Park (Philadelphia Athletics and Philadelphia Phillies)
Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox)
Braves Field (Boston Braves)
Ebbets Field (Brooklyn Dodgers)
Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs)
Crosley Field (Cincinnati Reds)
Polo Grounds (New York Giants)
Forbes Field (Pittsburgh Pirates)
Yankee Stadium (New York Yankees)
Griffith Stadium (Washington Senators)

You can click on each illustration to view larger size files for easier reading. Enjoy!

 

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Visiting Major League Parks – Complete Set from the 1933-1934 Sporting News

Similar to my Burns-Eye Views of Big League Parks post a while back, from the 1937 Sporting News, this is another interesting series I discovered in the SN archives from a few years earlier, during the 1933-1934 offseason – detailed articles of the major league parks of the day. I had posted them individually in their respective threads and now also as one post over at the Baseball-Fever.com ballparks area (as my alpineinc alter ego), and am now posting them as one on this blog, for all to see and enjoy at once.

The Sporting News’ editor introduces the series upon publication of the first article in the series, on 11/23/33:

“Fans in many major league cities have never seen the parks of clubs other than their own and are not acquainted with their different features and peculiarities, which, in some cases, have a marked effect on the batters of the home team and of visiting clubs. With a view to introducing these fields, the Sporting News has arranged for a series of stories and pictures of the various parks, which will be printed from time to time.”

Unfortunately, unlike the Burns’ 1937 series, to my knowledge, this series is incomplete, with only 10 articles printed and 6 parks of the era not represented in this series: Cleveland Municipal Stadium (Indians were back at League Park in 1934 when that article was printed), neither New York City NL park (Ebbets Field, Polo Grounds), neither Philadelphia park at all (Baker Bowl and Shibe Park), nor Griffith Stadium. It is also somewhat less colorful than the Burns series. However, it does provide greater detail and information on each park highlighted, and provides another interesting perspective of the ballparks and the state of the game from the 1930’s.

The series published was printed in chronological order as follows:

1. Forbes Field (Pittsburgh Pirates) – published 11/23/33
2. Comiskey Park (Chicago White Sox) – 12/7/33
3. Yankee Stadium (New York Yankees) – 12/28/33
4. Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs) – 1/11/34
5. League Park (Cleveland Indians) – 2/1/34
6. Redland Field (Cincinnati Reds) – 2/8/34
7. Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox) – 2/15/34
8. Sportsman’s Park (St Louis Cardinals and St Louis Browns) – 3/1/34
9. Braves Field (Boston Braves) – 3/15/34
10. Navin Field (Detroit Tigers) – 3/22/34

Links to larger versions are below each image for easier reading. Enjoy!

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