Tag Archives: A Thousand Words

A Thousand Words–Satchel Paige, Chicago White Sox

6 Feb

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What if?  Satchel Paige in a White Sox uniform.  From 1938-1947 the Sox never finished better than 3rd, add Satchel Paige to those teams, which already had some good pitching including Ted Lyons, Eddie LopatThornton Lee, Monty Stratton and Orval Grove, and Sox fans might have had something to cheer about.  But of course, by the time Paige had a chance to play in the Major Leagues he was at least 42-years-old.  Paige would have helped at the box office as well.  For example, on July 18, 1942 the Sox drew slightly better than 24,000 for a doubleheader with the Detroit Tigers, across town at Wrigley Field a nearly identical amount came out to watch Paige pitch the first five innings for the Memphis Red Sox against the New York Cuban Stars.

Instead, all White Sox fans have is this rare photo taken in 1965 when Paige appeared with the Indianapolis Clowns at Comiskey Park (Chicago Cubs outfielder George Altman is the catcher in the picture).

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in 1935, Gene Coughlin, a sports writer for The Los Angeles Evening Post-Record wrote a column that went largely ignored, calling on organized baseball to break the color barrier which “not only makes (baseball) look ridiculous but is at the same time passing up increased business.”  Coughlin predicted that if a Pacific Coast League team were to sign Paige, it “would be good for an extra 10.000 in attendance every time he goes to the mound.  And he became good despite the inane prejudice that drives the colored baseball player to the sandlots and keeps him there.”

Coughlin’s column concluded:

“When you come right down to it, that baseball doesn’t give a darn whether it is pitched or caught by a white hand or a black one.  It is a symbol of game, a sport, and not a symbol of class distinction or color.”

Twelve years later organized baseball finally agreed.

A Thousand Words–Honus Wagner and Claude Hendrix

1 Feb

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Honus Wagner participating in his 2nd favorite sport with pitcher Claude Hendrix.

William A. Phelon, poet and sportswriter for The Chicago Daily News, Chicago Tribune, New York Morning Telegraph, Cincinnati Times-Star and St. Louis Star—where this poem about Honus Wagner appeared in 1904.

 Hans Wagner, Hans Wagner, we see you lead once more

The Sluggers of the National League—if leather spher’s had gore

The blood of many a fractured globe would dew the faces where

Your mighty whacks, from shoulder swung, went whizzing through the air!

Hans Wagner, Hans Wagner—how oft we’ve felt the shivers

To see you striding to the plate, to knock our hopes to shivers!

How oft we’ve heard the call, “Two strikes,” to make us yelp and smile,

And then our blood was frozen up—you’ve smashed the thing a mile!

Hans Wagner, Hans Wagner, whene’er that ball you spank

We wonder if you think about the coin you’ve placed in bank?

For every time a mighty drive brings roaring cheer on cheer,

You’ve added to your chances for a boost in pay next year!

Hans Wagner, Hans Wagner, your habits are the best—

You never store bad whiskey in the space beneath your vest—

The midnight jag attracts you not—you murmur “Aber nit—

If I should get von chag dis nacht, zu morgen I’d not hit!”

Hans Wagner, Hans Wagner, you’ve saved a load of dough

The products of the scheme by which you give the slabman woe!

You’ve made a record that will live, you’ve gained tremendous fame—

A slugger of the A1 class—a credit to the game.

Lost Advertisements–Joe “Ducky” Medwick

16 Jan

medwickadA 1937 Williams “Twin-Action” Shaving Cream ad featuring that year’s National League Most Valuable Player, Joe Medwick.

“Like thousands of men everywhere,” Medwick discovered that Williams’ “takes all the ‘starch’ out of tough whiskers.”

1937 was Medwick’s best season, he won the triple crown with 31 home runs (tied with Mel Ott), 154 RBIs and a .374 average;  he also led the league in games, at bats, hits, doubles,  and total bases.

Medwick was never popular among baseball writers, or really anyone for that matter; in 1942 Dizzy Dean called him “The most unpopular athlete who visits Sportsman’s Park.  Not only among fans, but also among players.”

Medwick was not elected to the Hall 0f Fame until 1968.  Upon his election a United Press International article by Milton Richman said:

“He was opinionated and argumentative.  He’d as soon pop one of his own teammates on the button as someone from the other club.  He wasn’t the most popular boy in the fraternity.”

Dean was among Medwick’s “own teammates” who he once “popped.”

A Thousand Words—Atlanta Osceolas

1 Jan

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George E. Johnson and Edward T. Payne were members of the Atlanta Osceolas in 1872.  The previously undefeated champions of Georgia met their Waterloo at Rome, Georgia.

The Atlanta Constitution said years later that the Osceolas:

“(W)on great fame glory and renown, but alas there came a day of disaster.  There was no rule about getting outside players.  So the club at Rome, GA which had been organized by the late Henry W. Grady (famous Georgia journalist) secured a professional pitcher from New York City.  The Osceolas never made but one measly hit…The erstwhile champions were ingloriously and ignominiously defeated and they returned home to disband and to play no more.”

Many of the players went on to be some of Atlanta’s most prominent citizens.  George Johnson became Atlanta’s recorder and Edward Payne the city’s tax collector.

“Nature Boy” Williams

31 Dec

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By the time James “Nature Boy” Williams joined the Indianapolis Clowns in 1955 the team had become a full-time barnstorming attraction, having dropped out of the Negro American League which itself was in its death throes.

Later that season The Washington Afro-American said:

 “Williams already has become the fans’ number one idol.  His side-splitting antics and peculiar catches around first base have won rave notices.”

The 6’ 2” 220 pound Williams spent more than a decade with the clowns and was known for batting barefoot, playing with the large glove–as pictured–and dancing at first base with umpires.

Jet Magazine reported in 1964:

“Williams played the entire 1963 season with his right eye completely blind due to an off-season accident and without even his teammates knowing his condition.”

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The Clowns played their last full season of tour dates in 1988, the team officially disbanded after playing a few games in 1989.

Williams died in Maryland in 1980 at the age of 50.

A Thousand Words—Home for Christmas

25 Dec

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Members of the 1931 Tour of Japan delegation of Major League stars arrive in San Francisco two days before Christmas.  They were greeted on arrival by Ty Cobb:

Back Row: Al Simmons, Larry French, Muddy Ruel, Ralph Shinners, Mickey Cochrane, Lefty O’Doul, Lefty Grove.

Front Row: Ty Cobb, Leonard Knowles (New York Giants trainer), Herb Hunter (former minor league player who organized this and several earlier tours of Japan), Bruce Cunningham and Rabbit Maranville.

A Thousand Words–Harpo Marx

24 Dec

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Harpo Marx with manager Lou Boudreau and pitcher Bob Feller at the Cleveland Indians’ training camp at Randolph Park (now Hi Corbett Field) in Tuscon, Arizona, March 1947.

A Thousand Words–“The Wonderful Country”

13 Dec

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Leroy “Satchel” Paige talks baseball with local children in Mexico on the set of the 1960 movie “The Wonderful Country.”  Robert Mitchum and Julie London starred; Paige played Cavalry Sgt. Tobe Sutton.

It was Paige’s only real acting role (He made a cameo appearance as himself ten years earlier in “The Kid from Cleveland“),  and it’s a pretty good film.

Satchel Paige as Sgt. Sutton

Satchel Paige as Sgt. Sutton

A Thousand Words

6 Dec

Satchel Paige demonstrates four of his favorite pitches to The Baltimore Afro-American, 1948:

The sidearm curve (outshoot):  “A wrist-twist causes counter-clockwise spin which makes the ball bend away from a right-handed batter.”

Sidearm Curve--outshoot

Sidearm Curve–outshoot

The overhand curve (drop): “Is gripped and thrown with a twist as to let the ball leave the hand with a snap between thumb and forefinger.  Overspin thus makes ball take a sudden dip.”

Overhand curve--drop

Overhand curve–drop

The Screwball (inshoot):  “Ball slides off fingers with a rapid clockwise spin, making it twist away from a left-handed hitter.”

Screwball--inshoot

Screwball–inshoot

The knuckleball:  “takes odd twists and turns even the pitcher can’t predict.”

Knuckle ball

Knuckle ball

“May every page you turn be a Satchel Paige.” Greg Proops, The Smartest Man in the World Podcast.

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A Thousand Words

27 Nov

A rare 1908 Coca-Cola Honus Wagner advertisement– featuring Wagner the picture taken in 1905 by Carl Horner, the one on the famous 1909 T206 card.

Original 1905 Carl Horner photo of Honus Wagner

Hans Wagner says:

“You can’t play good ball without vim–you’ve got to be full of enthusiasm and energy and keep your brain going.”

T206 Wagner