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

 

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 – 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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Burns-Eye Views of Big Time Parks, #11 (and #11a) – Cleveland Municipal Stadium and League Park

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.

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.

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Burns-Eye Views of Big Time Parks, #10 – Comiskey Park

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.

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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