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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A Moment In Time – 7/27/58

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Rocky Colavito of the Cleveland Indians “lets out a howl” (as the Sporting News put it) as he crosses home plate after crashing a grand slam in the bottom of the 6th inning off the Yankees ace (and eventual ’58 Cy Young winner) Bob Turley, putting the Tribe up 6-0 in the second game of a doubleheader at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, en route to a sweep of the defending AL champs, one of the highlights of an otherwise mediocre season on the shores of Lake Erie. Congratulating him are L-R Mickey Vernon, Russ Nixon with the handshake and Minnie Miñoso, who all scored on the blast, as pinch-hitter Bill Hunter (#7) steps up to bat next. While 1958 offered little promise at this point, could something be stirring for a Tribe insurgence in the years to come?

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1958 Topps card

While the Indians were flying high through the 1950’s, finishing at or near the top of the league for most of the decade, culminating in the 1954 AL pennant, 1957 saw a return to the second division, and more of the same in 1958, resulting in new manager Bobby Bragan being fired before the All-Star break. But things were looking up for Cleveland, as the 24-year-old Colavito was emerging as a superstar, with a stellar ’58 campaign that resulted in 41 home runs (1 behind HR champ Mickey Mantle) and leading the league with a .620 slugging percentage, finishing third in AL MVP voting (ironically, just behind Bob Turley).

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Colavito on the cover of Time, August 1959

And he continued his success in 1959, clouting 42 HRs (including 4 in 4 ABs in a row in Baltimore June 10, below), good enough to tie Harmon Killebrew for the AL crown, and was voted to his first All-Star game, as the Indians returned to the higher reaches of the American League, finishing only 5 games behind the destined Go-Go (White) Sox for the pennant.

Led by their young slugger, the 1960’s looked like high times for the Indians. But Cleveland’s GM Frank Lane had other ideas.

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Indians’ GM Frank Lane

While Lane had built a reputation by bringing the moribund White Sox from pretenders in the 40’s to contenders in the ’50’s, his was also an aggressive approach, averaging over 35 trades per season while with Chicago. And no star was safe; after joining the front office of St Louis after leaving the White Sox in 1955, he attempted to trade the Cardinals’ perennial superstar Stan Musial to the Philadelphia Phillies for Robin Roberts (an interesting trade in theory to say the least), but was quickly halted by Cards’ owner August Busch once it became public.

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Colavito with Detroit

Lane always favored consistent hitters over streaky sluggers, and while Colavito had had a great year, his late season slump (.207 in September) didn’t sit well with the GM, and despite his folk hero status in Cleveland, was dealt to Detroit in April 1960 for Harvey Kuenn, who won the AL batting crown in ’59. Tribe fans were irate, some swearing never to return to the ballpark, and to make matters worse, Kuenn was nagged by injuries that year; while having a fine season, his batting average fell over 40 points, and he was traded again at season’s end as the Indians stumbled to a mediocre finish under .500, 21 games behind the Yankees.

Colavito had some All-Star seasons with Detroit but was often derided for his inconsistency, even being benched on occasion. He did have an outstanding 1961 campaign with 45 HRs and 140 RBIs, both career highs, and helped the Tigers to 101 wins, although falling short (again) to the Yankees. He was strong but streaky in 1962, and after his power numbers fell further in 1963 and the Tigers tumbled to the second division, he was dealt to the Kansas City A’s in ’64. He finally returned “home” to Cleveland in 1965, having two All-Star seasons, but now on the tail end of his career.

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1958 Topps card

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1958 rookie card

As for the rest of the receiving party at home plate in 1958, unlike the HR hitter of honor, their times with the Indians were somewhat fleeting and nondescript. Mickey Vernon, at 40 years old, was enjoying his last starting season in the majors, playing 1B and hitting at a .293 clip, good for his last All-Star appearance. By 1960 he wound up as a 1B coach for the Pirates, being activated at year’s end for a few at-bats, and earning himself a WS ring.

Russ Nixon, a young catcher up from the Indian’s farm system in 1957, had his best year in 1958, catching 101 games for Cleveland and batting .301. He would be somewhat less consistent after that, catching part-time for primarily Boston until retiring in 1968, then on to a managing career in the 1980’s.

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Minnie Minoso and Billy Martin celebrate with Colavito after he hit 4 HRs in 4 consecutive at-bats at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium, June 10, 1959

And lastly, Minnie Miñoso, who needs no introduction, came up in 1949 with the Cleveland Indians, becoming the first black Cuban player in the major leagues; but with the Tribe’s crowded outfield he was traded to the Chicago White Sox in early 1951, becoming their first black player overall, and socking his first pitch with the Pale Hose for a 2-run HR at Comiskey Park off the Yankees’ Vic Raschi. After many All-Star seasons he returned to the Indians for 1958-1959, missing out on the 1959 White Sox pennant (but coming up 5 games short, above), again returning to the South Side as his career wound down, becoming a legend in Chicago, and a statue in his honor stands at the White Sox’s park (whatever it is named at this time) today. Miñoso, at age 40, also had the interesting honor of playing the final baseball game at the Polo Grounds, the first (and last) Hispanic-American All-Star Game, October 12, 1963 (the NL stars beating the AL stars 5-2, with 14,235 on hand).

But there was one person in that moment who meant a great deal to the city and its fans, and leaves one to lament for what might have been for the Cleveland ball club as they moved into the 1960’s. Could the Tribe have quelled the Yankees’ dominance of that era with their own Bronx-born warrior Colavito leading the way? Hard to say, but I’ll defer to what Indians’ fans would confidently declare back in the late 50’s –  “Don’t Knock The Rock.”

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A Moment In Time – 5/20/69

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Just a quick one to revisit the blog.

Tuesday, May 20, 1969, Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, a battle against the eventual participants of the inaugural ALCS that fall, and the Twins’ Bob Allison congratulates Harmon Killebrew for going deep (#406 career), a solo shot off of the Orioles’ Dave McNally in the 4th inning to open the scoring, as catcher Andy Etchebarren looks on. Runs would be at a premium most of the night as the Orioles tied it 1-1 in the 7th when McNally was done, and then two things from the It-Would-Never-Happen-Today Dept.: Kaat went 12+ innings, allowing only one earned run, and after the Twins scored in the top of the 13th to go ahead 2-1, with men on first and third Kaat stayed in the game to bat, and hit a sac fly for another run. The run was needed as Paul Blair homered off Kaat in the bottom of the 13th to make it 3-2, but Kaat finally gave way to Perranoski for the save, giving Kaat the well-earned victory. The win would move the Twins to within a 1/2 game of the Oakland A’s, while the Orioles already had a 3 game lead in the East en route to 109 wins.

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Jim Kaat

McNally got revenge by winning Game 2 of the ALCS against Minnesota to go up 2-0 in the series. While Twins owner Calvin Griffith directed manager Billy Martin to start future HOFer Jim Kaat at home for Game 3, a general distrust of Kaat (?) led Martin to go with long man Bob Miller, who got knocked around, as the Twins were swept and the O’s moved on to the World Series. Martin was then fired shortly after by Griffith after only one season at the helm, but with disagreements with ownership far from over in his managerial career.

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Burns-Eye Views of Big Time Parks – COMPLETE SET from the 1937 Chicago Tribune and Sporting News!

In 1937, Ed Burns, a sportswriter for the Chicago Tribune, penned a series of articles on every major league park at the time (15 articles in all, of 16 parks for 16 teams; the Cardinals and Browns shared Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, while the Indians played in both League Park and Cleveland Municipal Stadium that year, with one article for both), which were also published in the Sporting News that year.

Years ago, I had been perusing through the SN archives (while researching something else entirely), when I stumbled upon this series, largely if not completely forgotten, and felt that it deserved to be seen again, so I painstakingly screen grabbed and saved every article; I had then posted them individually in their respective threads over at the Baseball-Fever.com ballparks area (as my alpineinc alter ego), and also sporadically on this blog, but in seeing them pop up continually on the web, I decided to finally put them all together in one large post, for all to see and enjoy at once.

A very interesting series, especially from the perspective of 1937, and the hand-drawn diagrams of interesting plays and quirks of virtually every park are wonderful. They are listed below in the order of when they were published (with their respective tenants), as follows (again, 16 parks, 15 articles):

  1. Braves Field (Boston Braves)
  2. Baker Bowl (Philadelphia Phillies)
  3. Polo Grounds (NY Giants)
  4. Ebbets Field (Brooklyn Dodgers)
  5. Sportsman’s Park (St Louis Cardinals and St Louis Browns)
  6. Shibe Park (Philadelphia Athletics)
  7. Yankee Stadium (NY Yankees)
  8. Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox)
  9. Navin Field (Detroit Tigers)
  10. Comiskey Park (Chicago White Sox)
  11. Cleveland Stadium and League Park (Cleveland Indians)(Split time between both parks, and one article was written to include both parks)
  12. Forbes Field (Pittsburgh Pirates)
  13. Crowley Field (Cincinnati Reds)
  14. Griffith Stadium (Washington Senators)
  15. Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs)

 

First up, Braves Field in Boston, or what was known as “National League Park” (not Field as noted below) at that time since the Braves were the “Bees” from 1936-1940, and to differentiate from the American League field in Boston, or Fenway Park.

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Second in the series, the old Baker Bowl in Philly, one of two parks in Philadelphia in those days, home of the Phillies (the A’s played in nearby Shibe Park, soon to be Connie Mack Stadium), and confusingly, was also officially known as National League Park, similar to Braves Field, above. A less than flattering review below, which must have rang true, as the Phillies abandoned the Baker Bowl midway through the following season (1938), to join their city stablemates down the road in larger, newer Shibe.

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Batting third, the Polo Grounds, home of the New York Giants from 1911-1957, the Yankees from 1913-1922, and the Mets in 1962 and 1963. It is one of the most classic of all ballparks, but Mr. Burns isn’t pleased with the dimensions at all. Also, apparently Mel Ott’s HOF career has a lot to do with the amount of (politically incorrect) home runs he hit there. Also, “there has never been a game of polo at the Polo Grounds”.

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In the cleanup spot is classic Ebbets Field, the Brooklyn Dodgers’ home from 1913-1957, and one of the most beloved of all the classic parks. Also it had a prominent feature that was copied by Citi Field, and similar to some Mets fans’ reactions today, “Entrance Through Huge Rotunda Confuses Customer”.

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Fifth in the series, Sportsman’s Park, home to both the St. Louis Cardinals and Browns. How about roosters and hens to eat all the insects that would plague the field, and the only place in MLB you can get a hot dog that is broiled instead of “soaked”!

 

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Sixth in the series is Shibe Park, home to the Philadelphia Athletics. The Phillies were still up the street in smaller Baker Bowl, but since the late Mr. Shibe added accommodations for their Brotherly Love brethren  (including the then vacant “Phillyless Philly Clubhouse”, see and read below), they gave up on the old park and moved into beautiful Shibe for good in 1938. Although it looks like a “warehouse or brewery” from the outside, it’s hard to beat the best grass in the majors!

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Seventh in the series, none other than the House That Ruth Built, Yankee Stadium itself. And as it remains today, much of the talk of the Yankees and their stadium is directly related to obscene amounts of money. Little else to complain about, especially with the “new construction this summer”; “the announcing was done by an inarticulate little man with a small megaphone…now they have a public address system”, unfortunately Bob Sheppard still being decades away. And for the mighty Yanks the Tribune saw fit to include the first actual ballpark photograph of the series.

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Eighth in the series, venerable Fenway Park, which, while classic today, back then had “no apparent reason for the outline of the field having similarity with…a tough jig saw puzzle.” Sounds like the complaints of the contrived designs of “retro” ballparks today, almost 80 years later.

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Batting ninth, Navin Field, which would become Briggs Stadium (the new owner who just remodeled it as noted below, and who would eventually name it after himself in 1938) and eventually, good old Tiger Stadium. The expansion in 1936 resulted in the “only two-deck bleacher in the majors”, which would soon enough not be called bleachers at all, but simply a 2-tier deck in the outfield. And more importantly, a correction from Mr. Burns: Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis was not the only park of the day to have “luscious broiled hot dogs” instead of “soaked” ones – this newfangled broiled treat was also cheerfully served at Navin Field. And finally, in a bit of sad irony, Navin Field was considered the “best located park in the majors, from the viewpoint of proximity to the central business district”; unfortunately, that location would be considered less desirable decades later.

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Into extras, and tenth in the series, Comiskey Park, or “greater Comiskey”, as Burns puts it. The South Side stadium contains “14 acres, the largest playing field devoted to baseball in the United States”, but through a loophole, as the larger Cleveland Stadium tract was also used for other purposes. And the windows (actually a telltale trademark of old Comiskey) “make (the) concrete stands breezy”. Lastly, don’t let anyone tell you this used to be a dump – just a truck garden. And although they reaped one WS crown in 1917 (and should’ve had another in 1919), they wouldn’t have another in the old park – but they did harvest an AL pennant in 1959.

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Eleventh in the series, and a bonus 2 for 1 here. The Indians were in the midst of a slow transition to cavernous Cleveland Municipal Stadium, where they had been playing some games since 1932, but the large size of the park coupled with the lingering Great Depression and lower attendance, kept the Tribe playing in smaller League Park as well. The cozier park had its charms, but according to Burns boasted “the silliest dimensions in the American League” and a “joke right field wall”, also noted in the drawn diagram as well. In fact, Burns even argued that League Park put the Indians at a disadvantage, as the locals tried to perfect the “ladle” of a batted ball over the short right field wall, which also resulted in easy pop flies on the road and made the team “all mixed up”. So, it only made sense that the Indians would eventually move full-time to the “best ball park in America”, and its symmetrical layout is also highly praised here; but, while Cleveland Municipal was a fine stadium in its own right, I’d guess that Burns and his cohorts spent little time in the park during blustery April contests.

 

Number twelve, Forbes Field, with “by far the most beautiful setting in the major leagues”, primarily due to the view of Carnegie Tech and the Mellon mansions. Also, Forbes’ famous expanse of foul territory behind the plate is already well evident.

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Lucky thirteen is Crosley Field, formerly Redland Field, the “most colorful park in the majors”, due to the varying colors used to paint the park, and maybe also the wettest, as a recent flooding from the nearby Ohio River is discussed. And the press box is aces.

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Fourteenth is Griffith Stadium, in our nation’s capital. As it turns out, US Vice President Garner is a much more frequent visitor to the ballpark than FDR. And it appears that the left field bleachers, the biggest in baseball, is often the “hottest place on the North American continent”.

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The fifteenth and final entry in the series is none other than Chicago’s Wrigley Field, voted “most artistic” by Mr. Burns. And then, as now, the fans were contending with a major renovation in progress. And get this, they’re actually going to have ivy growing on the walls for 1938!

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And that’s it, a nice overview of every major league park in the year 1937, pre-war, pre-franchise relocation, pre-expansion, pre-everything. One wonders what Mr. Burns’ take would be on every current ballpark, but besides disbelief over food offerings fit for kings and exorbitant prices league wide, I’d guess there would still be an age-old emphasis on creature comforts, and an overriding reluctance to any changes of the grand old game. Much like today.

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Returning to my blog after a long absence, but I’ll keep it short and sweet – on this day of memorials to the great Yogi Berra, a few rare photos of him at Yankee Stadium in the 1950’s, from various sources. Above, Yogi dons the tools of ignorance before a game against the White Sox in 1956.

 

 

Opening weekend, April 1956, either Saturday the 21th or Sunday the 22nd, Ted Williams steps to the plate in a pinch-hitting appearance. Yogi knocked in 5 over that weekend as the Yankees swept the series from the Red Sox to go to 5-1 on the short season.

 

 

Wednesday, June 6, 1956. Yanks beat the K.C. A’s 10-5 to improve to an MLB best 30-17, as Yogi goes 2-4 with a 2B and HR. Losing pitcher for the Athletics? Tommy Lasorda, who would only have 7 more appearances that season to close out his short playing career.

 

 

Friday, May 2, 1958, Moose Skowron looks on as Yogi catches a foul pop to help secure a CG 4-hitter for Bob Turley over the A’s, 8-1, as the Yankees improve to an MLB best 10-4.

 

 

Saturday, October 4, 1958, World Series Game 3, Don Larsen and on-deck batter Red Schoendienst watch Yogi gun out the Milwaukee Braves’ Bill Bruton on a bunt attempt for the first play of the game. Yankees would shut out Milwaukee 4-0 to get their first win in the Series, and would go on to win the crown in 7 games.

 

 

Nice shot of Yogi and Roy Campanella in action.

 

 
Yogi Berra Day, Saturday, September 19, 1959:




Yogi went 0-4 but caught Whitey Ford’s CG 4-hitter against the Red Sox. Likely unwillingly, Yogi would have more time to relax in that lounge chair that October, as it was a rare season in the Bronx with the Bombers missing the postseason for only the fourth time in his Yankee career.

That’s it for now, but to borrow from a classic Yogi-ism, thanks Yogi, for making this all necessary.

A Moment In Time – 6/14/32

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Navin Field, Detroit, Tuesday, June 14, 1932, Jimmie Foxx crosses the plate in the top of the 5th inning after hitting his first of two HRs on the day, a 3 run blast off Vic Sorrell with fellow future HOFers Al Simmons and Mickey Cochrane on base, and the A’s were out to an early 5-0 lead on the Tigers as dejected catcher Ray Hayworth looks on. The umpire is Roy Van Graflan.

Jimmie Foxx, of course, needs no introduction – almost midway through a prolific Hall Of Fame career, Foxx would probably have his best offensive season in 1932, at 58(a career high, just short of Ruth)/169/.364, also leading the league in slugging (no surprise), runs, and total bases. He garnered AL MVP honors, and by today’s rules (3.1 PA x team games played) he would have also had the AL Triple Crown, but Dale Alexander of Boston hit .367 in 454 plate appearances, and was recognized as the batting champ. Foxx would get the Triple Crown in earnest in 1933. Foxx already had two rings with the A’s in 1929 and 1930, but would never win another, nor even appear in another post-season, moving on to the Red Sox, Cubs and Phillies in his career.

Ray Hayworth was the starting backstop for the Tigers in 1932 and 1933, and a defensive specialist – at the game above, he was in the midst of an AL record for most consecutive chances by a catcher without an error at 439 (100 games), from 9/3/21 to 8/29/32 (a record later broken by Yogi Berra).

hayworth1Interestingly enough, the streak would end against the A’s (although at Shibe Park), and dubiously at that – as Jimmie Foxx was at bat, a dropped third strike allowing Foxx to Reach and Al Simmons to score. Today, that would be considered either a passed ball or a wild pitch, not an error, and a contemporary box score of the game does not show an error for Hayworth. Ultimately, it probably wouldn’t have secured the record for Ray – Yogi was able to reach 148 errorless games in 1959, and the current record is an astounding 253 games by Cleveland’s Mike Redmond, set in 2010.

Unfortunately, Hayworth didn’t have the power the Tigers were looking for to stay a regular, and when Detroit traded for Mickey Cochrane after the 1933 campaign, he was relegated to a backup role; but with Cochrane’s help, he made it to the World Series the next two seasons, winning his only ring in 1935, although he did not see any action in the ’35 classic.

BaseballBookVanGraflan9Umpire Roy Van Graflan had a bit of notoriety of his own – he was an AL umpire from 1927-1933, and participated in two World Series, one in 1932, and happened to be behind the plate when Babe Ruth had his “called shot”. Despite much controversy regarding this part of baseball lore, Van Graflan recalled, “Ruth looked over to the heckling Cubs bench and said, “Let him put this one over and I’ll knock it over the wall out there.”

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The A’s eventually took the Tigers 10-5 on that Tuesday in June of 1932. The win would put the second place A’s 2.5 games up on the third place Tigers, but no one was catching the Yankees that year.

Ray Hayworth had an interesting footnote to his years as a Tiger – in his rookie season he played alongside Ty Cobb in his final campaign. This bit of serendipity, and his eventual longevity, would result in an honor that he could not possibly have envisioned happening way back in 1932 – he was chosen to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the final game at Tiger Stadium, on September 27, 1999, at 95 years of age, in effect representing virtually an entire century of Tigers baseball.

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