A Moment in Time – 4/12/32

pg41232pic

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.

!!!!Bill-walker

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.

McGraw John 3569.63_FL_CSU

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.

 

29122back

Credit/info on reverse of original photo

 

pg41232

NY Times (partial) coverage of the day

 

Advertisements

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!

 

073146mackintronew

 

sn4601mackcomiskey

 

sn4602mackcleveland

 

sn4603mackbriggs

 

sn4604macksportsmans

 

sn4605mackshibe

 

sn4606mackfenway

 

sn4607mackbraves

 

sn4608mackebbets

 

sn4609mackwrigley

 

sn4610mackcrosley

 

sn4611mackpolo

 

sn4612mackforbes

 

sn4613mackys

 

sn4614mackgriffith

 

 

 

A Moment In Time – 7/27/58

colavito58a

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?

colavito58topps

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).

timecolavito0859

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.

franklane

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.

C9pL1ZtXsAEqQAa

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.

mickeyvernon58

1958 Topps card

russnixon58

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.

rockyminosomartin

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.”

rocky-colavito-indians

The Last Summer at the Polo Grounds

A while back I had found some great fan photos of the old park in Cincinnati, in its last season, and posted them as The Last Summer at Crosley Field. Well, here’s some newly discovered photos from YashicaD on Flickr of the Amazin’ 1963 season, with Casey, Duke Snider, and even Miss Rheingold on hand (click on photos for larger versions). So pop open that Rheingold, light up a Viceroy, and follow me…

First, I’ll double check my calendar…

caseyrheingold63_zpsfb8caa1b

Yep, the day looks to be Friday, July 5, 1963, vs the Pirates. And yes, the Mets lost, 3-1, thanks to a 2-run HR by Clemente off Tracy Stallard in the 8th inning, which would be their 8th straight loss. They would go on to lose 15 straight before halting the streak, and lose 111 that year (3rd worse Mets total ever).

Below, Casey and likely Ernie White chatting with what appears to be the new Miss Rheingold for 1964 (or at least a candidate)! Solly Hemus is at home plate hitting fungoes.

8390042485_6c3bb38010_b_zpsfb71631a

Duke Snider comes to the the plate in the bottom of the 2nd inning, with Frank Thomas on deck. Don Cardwell pitching, Jim Pagliaroni the catcher, Bob Bailey at third, Johnny Logan at short. Snider would strike out.

8391124724_f515b71820_b_zps65f91ef2

Bottom of the 5th inning. “Duke Snider, an All-Star Game outfielder currently batting .221, tapped the ball down to the Pirate first baseman, Donn Clendenon, and Clendenon decided upon a foot race. Snider won it. Clendenon stabbed the bag with his long left leg, but the Duke beat him by a foot.”, as the Mets fans rejoice. Tim Harkness then doubled him in for the early lead, but it would be Mets’ only run of the afternoon.

8391125106_c8fd6f7c57_b_zps193bb6fa

Three more months at the old Polo Grounds, and it was over. Duke would go on to the Giants, the Mets would go on to Queens, and the Polo Grounds would fade into memory, but hardly forgotten.

The Last Weekend at the Polo Grounds – but the first Mets Banner Day!

Earlier I posted some great fan photos from the last summer of baseball at old Crosley Field in Cincinnati, but how about the last weekend (specifically the last Sunday) of baseball at the late, great Polo Grounds (Mets would move into brand new Shea Stadium in 1964)? And what better way to send off the old park, but to have the very first Mets’ Banner Day!

Sunday, September 15, 1963, a doubleheader against the Houston Colt .45’s (wouldn’t be the Astros until ’65). Between games, the Mets elected to have fans come out on the field and parade banners for all to see. Photos are mainly banners taken in the stands afterward. Notice the one banner hoping for a Mets championship in the 1970’s (they wouldn’t have to wait that long!), others don’t particularly care for the Mets’ catcher Choo-Choo Coleman, and the Mets’ own banners, spelling out TO THE METS FANS! WE LOVE YOU TOO! Also, the last one is poignant, a nice tribute to the two years the Mets spent there. Photos are a little deteriorated but still great; from a cool Mets blog. As always, click on the photos for larger versions. So pop open a Rheingold, light up a Viceroy, and enjoy.

Incidentally, the Mets lost the doubleheader, 5-4 and 5-0, and were already firmly in last place (they wouldn’t escape the cellar until 1966). And sadly, there would be only two more baseball games at the Polo Grounds, with the final game that Wednesday, when only 1,752 fans saw the Mets lose to the Phillies, 5-1. And in March 1964, the wrecking ball came.

Burns-Eye Views of Big Time Parks, #3 – the Polo Grounds

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.

A very interesting series, especially from the perspective of 1937, and the hand-drawn diagrams of interesting plays and quirks of each park are wonderful. I’ll post them in order of when they were originally published, and one at a time to make things interesting. Click the Burns-Eye Views of Big Time Parks category link to the right to see all the articles together.

Third in the series, 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, Mel Ott’s HOF career has a lot to do with the amount of “Chinese” (!) home runs he hit there. Also, “there has never been a game of polo at the Polo Grounds”.

rwj88fz