Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Baseball’s Lost and Found

Have you ever browsed through the “Lost and Found” notices in a newspaper’s classified ad section? What I find interesting about them is that they tease you with just a little bit of information about something that went missing, but every-so-often, hidden behind each Twitter-sized note is a full-blown story. A story of love for a wayward dog. A story of past memories captured in a lost charm bracelet. A story of hard work and security in a misplaced envelope of cash. A story of teeth left behind at a ball game:

Cincinnati Enquirer, May 29, 1879

SET OF TEETH – Lost on Star Base-ball Grounds. Finder returning them to Johnnie Schwab, on grounds, will be liberally rewarded.
I present herewith a handful of “Lost and Found” items and the hidden baseball stories behind them.

New York Herald, August 16, 1865

$30 REWARD - LOST, ON MONDAY AFTERNOON, IN going to or at the Capitoline Base Ball Grounds, a Gold Hunting Watch. The above reward will be paid for in recovery, and thanks, by A.W. Jacobs, 183 Fulton street, Brooklyn.
A photographer who lived and worked about three miles west of Brooklyn’s Capitoline Grounds, 32-year-old Alfred W. Jacobs was, no doubt, a baseball fan.

Woodcut from the New-York Illustrated News of August 4, 1860, depicting action from a contest between the Excelsiors and Atlantics at the Capitoline Grounds, July 19, 1865

In fact, as a Captain in Company A of New York’s 52nd Regiment during the Civil War, Jacobs served alongside two other officers with significant connections to Brooklyn baseball:

  • Regiment surgeon Joseph B. Jones was a longtime member of the famed Excelsior Base Ball Club of Brooklyn and, in 1860, served as the president of the National Association of Base Ball Players, baseball’s first organizing body.

Joseph B. Jones (center, in top hat) stands between members of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York City and Excelsior Base Ball Club of Brooklyn at the Excelsior's grounds, August 2, 1859

  • First Lieutenant Leonard W. Brainard Jr. was the older brother of two Excelsior players: catcher Harry Brainard and his older brother, pitcher Asa Brainard.

Asa Brainard (seated, second from right) with the Cincinnati Red Stockings, 1869

Pitcher Asa Brainard gained famed at the end of the decade as a star with the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings. Indeed, he was so dominant in that role that even today an abbreviated version of his name remains synonymous with a club’s “top flight” pitcher: “Ace.”

On Monday, August 14th, 1865, the Mutual Base Ball Club of New York faced the champion Atlantics of Brooklyn. As was the custom at the time, a club earned the championship if it managed to defeat the reigning pennant winners two out of three times. This match was the second contest in just such a series, the Atlantics having narrowly defeated the Mutuals, 13-12, in their first meeting of the season just nine days earlier at the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Estimates varied, but reports put this “return match” attendance at between 15,000 and 20,000 spectators. As reported in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle of August 15, 1865, “The presence of the police was a guarantee that no such disgraceful wholesale stealing and pocket-picking would take place as at Hoboken, and hence all breathed free, when the ‘blue coats’ arrived.”

But even with 150 policeman at the park, thieves could hardly be expected to stay away from such a tempting mass of humanity. Such illegal activities were not uncommon at ballparks, and the practice was even depicted in a lithograph of another championship baseball game, this time in Philadelphia in October of 1866.

Detail from John Magee’s lithograph titled “The Second Great Match Game for the Championship,” illustrating action on the field and in the crowd at the Athletics vs. Atlantics game of October 22, 1866

(For more about this lithograph, this Philadelphia ballpark, and the goings on in the crowd, please read “There Used to Be a Ballpark Right Here - Athletics Park.”)

While it is not known if Jacobs ever recovered his watch, what is known is that he witnessed an important game. Unlike the first contest of the series, this time around the Atlantics handled the Mutuals with little trouble, earning a 40-28 victory and retaining their championship title.

Pages from the Atlantic Club scorebooks recording the game against the Mutuals, August 14, 1865

Three months after this victory, Charles Williamson, a significantly more successful Brooklyn-based photographer than Jacobs, captured this image of the “Champions of America":

As described in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle of November 10, 1865:

The champion nine of the United States had a sitting at Charles H. Williamson’s Gallery of Art on Tuesday, and that gentleman has completed a fine picture of them. The picture embraces the veteran Peter O’Brien, in the center, in citizen’s dress, surrounded by the new nine, as follows: Norton, Crane, Galvin, Chapman, C.J. Smith, Pearce, Sid. Smith, Start and Pratt. The last named gentleman holds a ball in his hand, Norton and Peter have bats, and in the front ground lie several caps. The likenesses are, of course, accurate, the positions admirable, and the workmanship a perfect piece of art.
Intriguingly, the Atlantic Club member identifications given in the article are erroneous. The correct identifications are (left to right): Frank Norton, Sid Smith, Dickey Pearce, Joe Start, Pete O’Brien, Charles Smith, Jack Chapman, John Galvin (sitting), Fred Crane (above Galvin), and Tom Pratt (far right).

The article continues:

They will be finished in large groups, and carte de visite size, so that all desiring can have their choice. The nine of 1864 has been generally sought after, and it is expected the same thing will occur with the nine of 1865. They will be ready in a few days.

Carte de Visite of the 1865 Atlantic Base Ball Club

While the 1865 CDV (above) is well-known to historians and collectors alike, I do not recall having ever seen or [previously heard of the referred-to 1864 CDV. Anyone have thoughts on this hidden gem?

Hartford Courant, May 20, 1875

TWO HUNDRED AND FIVE DOLLARS REWARD - At the great base ball match on Tuesday, while I was engaged in hurrahing, a small boy walked off with an English-made brown silk UMBRELLA belonging to me, and forgot to bring it back. I will pay $5 for the return of that umbrella in good condition to my home on Farmington avenue. I do not want the boy (in an active state) but will pay two hundred dollars for his remains. SAMUEL L. CLEMENS
On May 18, 1875, all of Hartford buzzed in anticipation of the afternoon’s baseball match between their home town nine and the visiting Boston Red Stockings.

Advertisement for the Boston-Hartford game in the Hartford Courant, May 18, 1875

Both clubs belonged to the National Association, baseball’s first major league, and Boston was vying for their fourth straight championship, having captured the so-called “whip pennant” in 1872, ’73, and ’74. But of more immediate significance, both clubs entered the contest without a loss, as Hartford boasted a 12-0 mark for the season, while Boston stood at 16-0.

On that day, Samuel Clemens (better known as Mark Twain) and his longtime friend, Reverend Joseph Hopkins Twichell, joined some 7,000 to 10,000 fans to witness the game at the Hartford Base Ball Grounds. According to the Courant, the immense crowd was “the largest audience ever assembled in New England to witness a contest for superiority between rival base ball nines.”

The Hartford Base Ball Grounds as seen in a detail from O.H. Bailey and Company’s 1877 map of Hartford, CT

Initially the game was all Boston, as the Red Stockings scored five times in the first three innings. But when Hartford tied the score in their half of the fourth, it looked as though the contest might prove to be a close one. Ultimately, however, Boston pitcher Al Spalding shut down Hartford the rest of the way, and when the game concluded, Boston gained a decisive 10-5 victory.

The Red Stockings would eventually stretch their winning streak to 22 straight wins, setting a major league mark that remained unmatched until the 2017 Cleveland Indians repeated the feat.

Did Twain really lose his umbrella? Or was the ad merely a joke by one of America’s greatest humorists? It seems the former was the case, as corroborated contemporaneously by Reverend Twichell in his personal journal:

On the 18th I attended a grand Baseball match between the ‘Hartfords’ and the ‘Bostons’ with M.T. who lost his umbrella down through the seats and had the discomfort of presently finding that it had been carried off by somebody who crept under the seats to get it.

Mark Twain’s home at 351 Farmington Avenue, Hartford, CT

It is unknown if anyone ever made their way to Twain’s home at 351 Farmington Avenue to claim either the $5 or $200 rewards.

(For more on Twain’s lost umbrella, please read “Mark Twain, Baseball Fan, Had an Eye for a Short-Stop” by author and historian Darryl Brock in the New York Times.)

New York Times, May 17, 1912

This surprising and somewhat appalling notice appeared in the New York Times just a month after one of the most famous disasters of modern times. Sure, the loss of $5,000 in securities must have been significant, but it certainly pales in comparison to the loss of over 1,500 souls with the sinking of the Titanic. My assumption is that, in order to receive replacement certificates for the bonds, some good faith effort had to be made to ensure that they were actually lost and irrecoverable. Taking out this ad in the paper, even though it was obvious that the goods were at the bottom of the Atlantic, would go a long way to meet just such a requirement.

Notice in the New York Times of April 7, 1912

There is little doubt that the securities belonged to John B. Thayer Jr., a very wealthy second vice-president of the Pennsylvania Railroad who perished in the icy waters of the North Atlantic on that early morning of April 15, 1912. Born in Philadelphia on April 21, 1862, Thayer was just a week shy of his 50th birthday when he lost his life. Fortunately, his wife and 17-year-old son (John B. Thayer III) survived the accident.

The elder Thayer was an excellent athlete. At the age of 14 he played in his first match for the Merion Cricket Club and just a few years later captained the University of Pennsylvania eleven.

John B. Thayer Jr. (standing at far left) with the Gentlemen of Philadelphia cricket team, 1884

In 1884, Thayer played for the Gentlemen of Philadelphia, a team that toured the United Kingdom and won eight matches, lost five, with five draws. During the tour, the great English cricketer James Lillywhite wrote that Thayer:

... bats in finished style, and, with more patience, would be the best in the team in that department. Can hit hard, and is a dangerous man when once well in. Bowls medium round-arm with good command of the ball and a break both ways. Is a splendid mid-off, and shows fine fielding whenever he is placed either at the boundary or close to the wicket.

A fine all-around athlete, Thayer also played football, lawn tennis, and, yes, baseball at Penn.

John B. Thayer (standing at far left) as a member of the University of Pennsylvania baseball team, 1879

(For more on baseball and the Titanic, please read “A Benefit Game for Survivors of the Titanic.”)

Atlanta Constitution, November 26, 1912

LOST – In Atlanta during the Georgia-Tech football game, a purse containing watch-fob made of two world’s baseball championship emblems. Each had half-karat [sic] diamond in center; one was inscribed: “World's Champions 1910;” the other, “World's Champions 1911.” My name was on back of each. Liberal reward. Claud Derrick, Clayton, Ga.
Today they call it “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate,” but on November 16, 1912, it was simply “the Georgia-Tech Game.” With some 10,000 fans in attendance, Georgia and Georgia Tech met on the gridiron at Ponce de Leon Park, the same field that served as the home of the Atlanta Crackers minor league baseball club and the Atlanta Black Crackers in the Negro leagues.

Postcard of Ponce de Leon Base Ball Park

The day after the football game, a 20-0 Georgia blowout over Tech, Oze Van Wyck reported in the Atlanta Constitution: “It seemed that all Georgia was divided into two parts-Tech and the university. ... The active students formed the bulk of the rooters. ... The alumni of both schools were out in force. Gray-haired men, whose memories of college days run back to the time when every game with Tech meant a free-for-all fight.”

First quarter action in the Georgia - Georgia Tech football game of November 16, 1912, as published in the Atlanta Constitution the following day

Standing among the Georgia alumni that day was Claud Derrick (there’s no final “e” in his Christian name), who just a few years earlier played right guard on the Georgia football team. He also played second base and captained the school’s baseball team. After graduating from Georgia in 1909, Derrick played baseball for various minor league clubs in the South, and the following year made his big league debut with Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics. Though he saw action in just 59 total games with the A’s from 1910 through 1912, he played on two World Championship clubs (1910 and 1911).

Claud Derrick with the New York Yankees, 1913

As was the practice at the time, the National Commission (the governing body of major league baseball prior to the formation of the Commissioner’s Office) ordered special individual “emblems” for each member of the championship winners. (Official World Series rings would not come about until 1922.) The two emblems that Derrick received (and then lost) were essentially identical to those seen below:

It is unknown if Derrick ever recovered his pair of World Championship emblems, but he could later boast of having seen a pair of future College Football Hall of Famers at the game, both inducted as members of the class of 1954. One was Georgia halfback Bob McWhorter and the other was the football coach of Georgia Tech.

While with Tech, this football coach also piloted the school’s basketball and baseball teams. His name is John Heisman. Yes, that Heisman.

John Heisman (center) with the 1908 Georgia Tech baseball team

A year-and-a-half later, on April 22, 1914, Derrick played shortstop for the International League Baltimore Orioles behind a 19-year-old pitcher making his pro baseball debut that very day. That southpaw, Babe Ruth, shut out the Buffalo Bisons, 6-0, and the next year, he was a full-fledged starter for the Boston Red Sox. At the end of the season, he took out the following ad ...

Baltimore Sun, October 25, 1915

LOST – 2½-carat DIAMOND RING, Belgian setting, at St. Mary’s Industrial School Grounds. Liberal reward if returned to GEO (“BABE”) RUTH, 38 South Eutaw street.
In his first-ever trip to the World Series, Babe Ruth didn’t have much to do. His only appearance in that 1915 matchup between the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies came in an unsuccessful pinch-hitting role in the ninth inning of Game One. Otherwise, he kept the bench warm and cheered on his teammates as they handled the Phillies with ease, capturing the world title in five games.

But during the 1915 regular season, the Babe’s rookie campaign, Ruth’s star shone bright. As a southpaw starter for Boston’s stellar pitching staff, he posted an 18-8 mark and a 2.44 ERA. His .315 batting average and club-leading four homers hinted at his future as a power-hitter who played every game, rather than a moundsman who saw action only once every three or four days.

As a member of the championship club, Ruth earned his cut of the World Series money: a tidy sum of nearly $3,800. The 20-year-old spent a chunk of his winnings helping his father purchase a saloon and billiard parlor at the corner of Eutaw and Lombard, just two blocks north of today’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Babe Ruth (middle) and his father (right) tend bar at “Ruth’s Cafe” in Baltimore in December of 1915

But Ruth also treated himself to a little something else: a $500, 2½-carat diamond solitaire ring.

After the conclusion of the World Series, Ruth continued to play exhibition games, including a number of contests in his hometown of Baltimore, where he spent most of the off-season.

Notice of the upcoming exhibition game as published in the Baltimore Sun, October 22, 1915

One such game took place took place on Sunday, October 24, and pitted the Albrecht Athletic Club against St. Mary’s All-Stars at Ruth’s former school, St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys. According to the Baltimore Sun, some 8,000 fans attended the game, “the greatest crowd that has ever witnessed a game played outside of a professional baseball park in this city.”

Ruth dominated, of course, surrendering just four hits and whiffing 14 batters. He notched a couple of base hits, as well. But while Babe secured the win, he also suffered a costly loss.

Prior to the game, he removed his days-old diamond ring and asked one of the school’s Xaverian brothers to take care of it. As reported in the next day’s Sun,

... the brother did so, at the same time taking charge of a ring belonging to one of the other players. The brother slipped the two rings on one of his fingers, believing them to be safest there. In the course of the game the crowd began to encroach upon the playing field and the brother wearing the rings began to shove the crowd back. In doing so, the rings were either taken from his finger or dropped from it. The latter theory is thought to be the right one, as one of the rings was found hanging to the coat button of one of the spectators on the field.
Ruth placed the ad in the Baltimore Sun, asking for the ring to be returned to 38 Eutaw Street, the address of Ruth’s Cafe. But this was also the address of Ruth and his 19-year-old wife, Helen, who lived together above the saloon that off-season.

As with most of these baseball items from the “Lost and Found” columns, as far as I am aware, the Ruth ring was never returned. In case you manage to find that ring, don’t bother looking for Ruth at the Eutaw street address. Today it is the site of the Goddess Gentleman’s Club.

Los Angeles Times, October 1, 1948

I LEFT my baseball mitt in lady’s Buick last Sat. Lost so many. Dad won’t buy another. Call David. CR-13316. Will mow lawn as reward.
What more need be said?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Baseball in "A New Kind of Love"

In September of 1963, Paramount Pictures released “A New Kind of Love,” a film starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. It was the couple’s fifth movie together, and while I’m a fan of both Newman and Woodward, the movie is pretty bad. I strongly urge you not to waste a good two hours of your day watching it, but I’m hoping you’ll take a few minutes to read this blog post about a small sequence from the film.

So why did I watch the movie? Because my friend Mark Armour mentioned on Facebook that ...
there is an extensive scene at Dodger Stadium with game (Dodgers vs Giants) action. Newman is with a date, and they leave early on to head back to his hotel, where Newman continues to watch (supposedly) the same game. Then we see black-and-white TV footage, still Giants and Dodgers. Eventually Newman and his date decide to get down to heavy necking, and he puts down his score book (did I mention he's been keeping score the whole time) and you see eight innings worth of score book from the Giants side.
Mark suggested I take a look, so I took a look.

The sequence occurs early in the film and is comprised of a dozen distinct shots related to baseball. In brief, the two-minute scene establishes Steve Sherman (played by Paul Newman) as a playboy journalist who lets a knockout blonde (played by actress Valerie Varda) get in the way of his covering a baseball game. This helps set the movie’s (minimal) plot into motion as Sherman is nearly fired from his job at the newspaper (I forgot to tell you that the blonde is the newspaper publisher’s wife!) ... and thus he goes to Paris where he meets Samantha Blake (played by Joanne Woodward) ... which doesn’t make a lot of sense, but neither does the rest of the movie.

Take a look at the sequence and pay special attention to the Newman narration. Believe it or not, it turns out that what he says is actually relevant.

Here’s a list of the 12 baseball scenes and the times they are found in the clip above:

A) 00:00-00:08 - Overhead shot of Dodger Stadium
B) 00:09-00:17 – Game action
C) 00:18-00:30 – Press box
D) 00:31-00:35 - Game action
E) 00:36-00:45 – Press box
F) 00:46-00:48 - Game action
G) 00:49-00:54 – Press box
H) 00:55-01:46 – Hotel room
I) 01:47-01:48 – Television
J) 01:49-01:58 – Hotel room
K) 01:59-02:01 – Television
L) 02:02-02:12 – Scorecard and hotel room


Here we have a dizzying helicopter shot of Dodger Stadium:

There’s really not much to say about the shot, though it does a fine job of setting the scene. Newman’s voice-over refers to the park as “Chavez Ravine,” a common name for the stadium during the years that the park served as the home of both the Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels.


This shot clearly shows action from a game at Dodger Stadium:

Though the quality of the film makes it a bit difficult to see, a close examination of the first-base-line auxiliary scoreboard (just above the blue arrow) reveals a great deal of information.

  • The teams are the GIANTS and DODGERS.
  • The Giants (at bat) have 5 runs, 8 hits, and 0 errors, while the Dodgers (in the field) have 0 runs, 2 hits, and 1 error.
  • It is the sixth inning, #30 is at bat, and there are two outs.
With runners on first and third, we see a right-handed Dodgers pitcher delivering a side-arm pitch to a right-handed Giants batter. The batter hits a ground ball to the second baseman, who touches second base for the force out. It is obviously the third out of the inning as the players begin to trot off the field.

Scene C

After the final out, the camera zooms in on the press box, where we see Newman and Varda. Interestingly, the scene merited mention in the news soon after it was shot, as it placed a woman in the press box, a most definite “no-no” at the time. As reported in the Pittsburgh Press on February 10, 1963:

Scene D

Back to the field, take a look at scene D.

Here, the first-base-line auxiliary scoreboard reveals:

  • The team names are (again) GIANTS and DODGERS.
  • The Dodgers (at bat) have 1 runs, 2 hits, and 0 errors, while the Giants (in the field) have 0 runs, 0 hits, and 0 error.
  • It is the second inning, #8 is at bat, the count is 2-and-2, and there is one out.
With a runner on first base, the right-handed Giants pitcher delivers a pitch to a left-handed Dodgers batter. We see the ball grounded to the second baseman, who fires toward second base (off screen) for the (presumed) force out. A return throw to try to complete the double play is made to the right-handed first baseman, but the batter-runner is safe at first. Additionally, as the pitcher turns to watch the play, we see he is wearing uniform #33.

Now we can make some progress ...

In 1962 and 1963, the only player to wear #33 for the Giants was pitcher Jack Sanford:

Looking at Jack Sanford’s pitching logs for the Giants during 1962 and 1963, there are just four dates when he pitched in a day game at Dodger Stadium: July 28, September 3, and October 2, 1962; and August 31, 1963. But in the 1963 game, the left-handed fielding Willie McCovey played first base for San Francisco, so we can eliminate that game as a possibility.

Of the three games in 1962, only the October 2 game provides a match of what we see in scene D.

In the bottom of the second inning that day, with Los Angeles trailing 1-0, one out, and the Dodgers’ Frank Howard leading off first base, teammate Johnny Roseboro hit a grounder to San Francisco’s Chuck Hiller. The Giants second baseman scooped up the ball and threw to shortstop Jose Pagan to retire Howard. The return throw to San Francisco’s right-handed first baseman Orlando Cepeda failed to nab Roseboro at first. The play matches perfectly with what we see in scene D.

Additionally, the October 2, 1962, game is the only one that provides a perfect match for Scene B. In the top of the sixth inning, the Giants scored four runs to stretch their lead over the Dodgers to 5-0. With two outs, McCovey on first and Willie Mays on third, Dodgers sidearm reliever Ed Roebuck delivered to San Francisco batter Cepeda, who grounded to Dodgers second baseman Jim Gilliam to end the inning.

Scene E

We’ve made great progress dating scenes B and D. In Scene E, Newman and his date are also making great progress.

Scene F

In Scene F, the Dodgers are in the field with a Giants runner on first base. The auxiliary scoreboard shows one out in the second inning and the score 0-0. The San Francisco batter (#23) hits safely as the runner heads toward second. The pitcher for the Dodgers wears #53.

This scenario matches the situation in the top of the second inning of the October 2 game. With one out and Orlando Cepeda the runner on first, San Francisco’s Felipe Alou (#23) hit a double to right field off Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale (#53).

Scene G

Newman and Varda have left Dodger Stadium in order to continue their action in ...

Scene H

Here the pair are in a hotel room, with Newman now watching the game on the television. According to Newman’s voice-over, the game was in the eighth inning. Check out the vintage remote control ... and, at bottom right, a score card. As the right side of the scorecard is visible, it should be showing the play-by-play for the home team Dodgers. Seven diamonds are completely filled in, representing runs scored in the first inning (1), third inning (3), fourth inning (1), fifth inning (1), and seventh inning (1). But this doesn’t match the scoring from the October 2 game. It is simply a made up scenario for the movie prop.

As the lovers settle down together on the couch, we cut to ...

Scene I

The game is shown on the television, as a left-handed batter for the Giants awaits a pitch.

Scene J

Back to the action in the hotel room, Newman gets to first base and is no doubt heading for extra bases.

Scene K

Here we return to the television shot. The batter from Scene I swings away and heads to first. As he does, we see that he wears uniform #5. That’s San Francisco’s Tom Haller and the only plate appearance in which the Giants catcher hit a fair ball on October 2 was in the top of the fourth, when he hit a fly ball out to left.

But are we certain this is the same game as those identified in previous scenes? To confirm that this is indeed the case, take a look at a comparison of the scene on television with the shots we already confirmed as dating from October 2.

The various unique markings on the field (small patches of dirt, smudges in chalk lines, patterns in the grass) all match perfectly. Clearly the shots were taken on the same day at the same location.

It should be noted that after Haller connects, the broadcaster makes the call “There she goes. Going, going ... it’s a home run over the right field fence.” That call (and every other one from our sequence) is, as one might expect, a complete fabrication. In fact, throughout these final scenes, the broadcast calls mainly serve as double-entendres, echoing the action both on the field and on the couch.

While the various game-action shots are shown out of order (B - top of the sixth; D - bottom of the second; F - top of the second; H and J - top of the fourth), each and every one of the shots is from the Giants-Dodgers game of October 2, 1962. What is wonderful about this fact is that this wasn’t any old ball game. In fact, in the voiceover at the beginning of Scene B, as Newman talks about Dodger Stadium, he states that “Today, they’re fighting for the World Series here.” That wasn’t simple rhetoric. It was actually the truth.

Two days earlier, Los Angeles and San Francisco finished the regular season with identical 101-61 records, forcing a three-game playoff to determine which club would get a chance to play the Yankees in the 1962 World Series. The first game took place at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park on October 1, with the Giants destroying the Dodgers, 8-0.

The next game, our October 2 contest, took place at Dodger Stadium. With their backs against the wall and staring at a 5-0 deficit heading into the bottom of the sixth, the Dodgers scored seven runs to take a two-run lead. The Giants scored a pair of runs in the top of the eighth to knot the score at seven runs apiece, but in the bottom of the ninth, the Dodgers scored a walk-off victory on Ron Fairly’s bases-loaded, one-out sacrifice fly.

At the end of our two-minute sequence, the broadcaster exclaims “Boy, oh boy! If you left this game early, you’ve certainly missed a lot of action.” The joke being, of course, that while Newman did indeed leave the game early, he didn’t miss out on the “action.”

By the way, in the third and final game of the playoff, the Giants topped the Dodgers with their own comeback, scoring four runs in the top of the ninth to earn an exciting 4-2 victory and the National League pennant.

Scene L

In the final baseball-related scene of the sequence, we see a close-up of Newman’s scorecard. At first glance the card stands out as unusual, as it is devoid of the many advertisements found on those purchased by fans at the park. But Newman’s character would have picked up his scorecard in the press box, where the cards are traditionally printed without ads.

A close examination of the card shows that it is part of a program, as parts of a few advertisements are found peaking out underneath the scorecard. It turns out that the ads match perfectly with the pair found at the bottom of the left page of the scorecard that came as part of the Dodger Stadium program in 1962. Here’s the scorecard found in a program from Opening Day, April 10, 1962:

The ad at bottom left was for Alemite CD2 (a motor oil additive), while the one at bottom right was for Irv White Buick located at 3rd and La Brea, about six miles west of the ballpark.

Newman’s character has penciled in the lineup for the visiting Giants: Kuenn, Haller, Mays, Cepeda, Hiller, M. Alou, McCovey, F. Alou, and Sanford. Not only is this batting order not consistent with the one used by the Giants in the October 2 game, but it was never used by the Giants. McCovey batting seventh? Are you kidding? Additionally, the Giants’ play-by-play as entered in the scorecard is (like that of the Dodgers) completely fictional.

Close examination of the pre-printed portion of the press box scorecard, however, reveals that it the card itself was almost assuredly real. Though the image is blurry, the names listed below the scoring grid are of members of the St. Louis Cardinals!

Top to bottom, left to right, they are:

  • Manager: Johnny Keane.
  • Coaches: Gene Oliver, Carl Sawatski, Jim Schaffer. Pitchers: Harvey Branch, Ernie Broglio, Bob Duliba, Don Ferrarese, Bob Gibson, Larry Jackson, Lindy McDaniel, Bob Shantz, Curt Simmons, Ray Washburn.
  • Catchers: Gene Oliver, Carl Sawatski, Jim Schaffer.
  • Infielders: Ken Boyer, Julio Gotay, Julian Javier, Dal Maxvill, Red Schoendienst, Bill White, Fred Whitfield.
  • Outfielders: Bob Burda, Curt Flood, Charlie James, Gary Kolb, Stan Musial, Mike Shannon, Bobby Gene Smith.
The only year the Cardinals featured this specific group of players was 1962. In fact, given that the Cardinals traded pitcher Paul Toth to the Cubs on September 1st for southpaw Harvey Branch (seen listed with the Cardinals on the scorecard above), and the ’62 Cardinals visited Dodger Stadium for just one series after that date, we are able to determine that the pre-printed scorecard must have come from that final trio of games: September 28, 29, or 30, 1962. In other words, it came from the series played just prior to the Dodgers-Giants playoffs!

“A New Kind of Love” featured some great footage from the classic 1962 regular-season playoffs between the Giants and the Dodgers, and captured some exciting action between Paul Newman and Valeria Varda. So what if it was a dud of a movie? It made for some interesting baseball research.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Jack Morris and Other Decade Wins Leaders

What pitcher totaled the most wins in the major leagues during the decade of the 1980s? The answer is Jack Morris with 162 victories during that 10-year span.

But, of course you already knew that, right? After all, that factoid has been brought up time and again, most especially ever since Jack Morris became a Hall of Fame candidate back in 2000. That’s because every other pitcher who notched the most wins over a decade and who is eligible for Hall of Fame consideration already has a bronze plaque hanging in the Cooperstown shrine. With today’s Hall of Fame election announcement, Morris is no longer the exception to this rule.

Jack Morris

Here is the list of pitchers with most major league wins in each decade. I’ve brought the list up to date, through the current, incomplete decade of the 2010s.

1870s: Al Spalding (233 wins)
1880s: Tim Keefe (291 wins)
1890s: Kid Nichols (297 wins)
1900s: Christy Mathewson (236 wins)
1910s: Walter Johnson (265 wins)
1920s: Burleigh Grimes (190 wins)
1930s: Lefty Grove (199 wins)
1940s: Hal Newhouser (170 wins)
1950s: Warren Spahn (202 wins)
1960s: Juan Marichal (191 wins)
1970s: Jim Palmer (186 wins)
1980s: Jack Morris (162 wins)
1990s: Greg Maddux (176 wins)
2000s: Andy Pettitte (148 wins)
2010s: Max Scherzer (132 wins)

Note that Al Spalding’s 233 wins during the 1870s covers a nine-year, rather than 10-year, span, because big league baseball began in 1871, the first season of the National Association. Also note that Andy Pettitte, the wins leader over the decade of the 2000s, is not yet eligible to be considered for election to the Hall of Fame, and Max Scherzer is still an active pitcher.

I am not going to argue about the statistical significance of the win. Its merits and shortcomings have been debated for decades. It is, no doubt, a flawed statistic, but that is not the point of this blog post.

Furthermore, there is an inherent unfairness in considering only those spans of 10 straight seasons that happen to start with years ending with the number “0.” Why is it worth celebrating a pitcher who earned the most big league victories from 1970 through 1979 (Jim Palmer), but it is not worth taking a look at a pitcher who posted the most wins from 1971 through 1980 (Steve Carlton)?

To take a broader view of “Decade Wins Leaders” (DWLs), I decided to compile a list of the winningest major league pitchers over every 10-year span in major league history, not just those spans that happen to neatly coincide with an easily named decade like “the 1910s” or the “1920s.”

Of course, one might also argue that a 10-year span is a rather arbitrary length of time. Why not look at pitchers with the most wins over seven straight seasons? Or a span of a dozen years? Sounds good to me, though I’ll leave that exercise for other researchers to tackle.

As you might imagine, many pitchers led in total victories over more than just one 10-year span. For example, not only was Al Spalding the DWL from 1871 through 1880, but he also was the DWL over the very next 10-year span: 1872 through 1881. Rather than naming the DWL for every 10-year span, I’ve kept the list to a reasonable length by just including the starting and ending spans for each pitcher’s run. I have also included the number of consecutive 10-year spans, which helps reveal the string of dominance by each pitcher on the list.

Span(s)as DWLs
No. of spans
1871-80 through 1872-81
Al Spalding
1873-82 through 1875-84
Tommy Bond
Will White
Jim McCormick
1878-87 through 1879-90
Pud Galvin
1880-89 through 1882-91
Tim Keefe
1883-92 through 1887-96
John Clarkson
1888-97 through 1891-1900
Kid Nichols
1892-1901 through 1898-1907
Cy Young
Joe McGinnity
1900-09 through 1906-15
Christy Mathewson
1907-16 through 1913-22
Walter Johnson
1914-23 through 1915-24
Grover C. Alexander
1916-25 through 1917-26
Stan Coveleski
1918-27 through 1922-31
Burleigh Grimes
1923-32 through 1930-39
Lefty Grove
1931-40 through 1933-42
Carl Hubbell
Paul Derringer
1935-44 through 1938-47
Bucky Walters
1939-48 through 1944-53
Hal Newhouser
1945-54 through 1946-55
Warren Spahn
Bob Lemon
1948-57 through 1956-65
Warren Spahn
1957-66 through 1959-68
Don Drysdale
1960-69 through 1962-71
Juan Marichal
1963-72 through 1964-73
Bob Gibson
1965-74 through 1966-75
Gaylord Perry
Fergie Jenkins
Tom Seaver
1969-78 through 1970-79
Jim Palmer
1971-80 through 1976-85
Steve Carlton
Ron Guidry
1978-87 through 1983-92
Jack Morris
1984-93 through 1986-95
Roger Clemens
1987-96 through 1996-2005
Greg Maddux
Randy Johnson
1998-2007 through 1999-2008
Greg Maddux
Andy Pettitte
CC Sabathia
2002-11 through 2003-12
Roy Halladay
2004-13 through 2005-14
CC Sabathia
2006-15 through 2008-17
Justin Verlander

Now that Jack Morris has been elected to the Hall of Fame, when we look at the list of DWLs over every 10-year span in major league history, Tommy Bond, Will White, Jim McCormick, Paul Derringer, Bucky Walters, Ron Guidry, and Roger Clemens are the only eligible Hall of Fame candidates who are not enshrined in Cooperstown.

Tommy Bond

Will White

Jim McCormick

Paul Derringer

Bucky Walters

Ron Guidry

Roger Clemens

A few final notes:

  • Andy Pettitte was a DWL just once, but it happened to be 2000-2009, so he appears on the first list presented at the top of this blog posting.
  • For ten years running, Greg Maddux could boast of being the winningest pitcher over the previous 10 seasons, a remarkable feat that remains unmatched in major league history. Maddux’s streak would have been 13 straight years, but it was interrupted by Randy Johnson’s DWL for the years from 1997 through 2006.
  • Will White, the DWL for the 10-year span from 1876 through 1885, is not in the Hall of Fame, but his older brother, James “Deacon” White, is.