Tag Archives: Lefty O’Doul

“The Cream Puff Era in Baseball”

31 Mar

During his scouting trip to the West Coast looking for talent for the Boston Braves, Johnny Evers talked to Brian Bell, the Associated Press Bureau Chief in San Francisco:

“(He) has been sitting up late looking at games in the Pacific Coast League. The once great second baseman frankly is puzzled.

“Night baseball has turned the game topsy-turvy. A scout dislikes to recommend the purchase of an infielder or pitcher because with the lights the players have to adjust themselves to various conditions.

“’Recently, I looked at a promising shortstop.’ said Evers. ‘He was playing almost in left field. The next time I saw him in another park he was almost in back of the pitcher. When I spoke to him about it, he said that each park in the league has its dark spots and he has to play accordingly.’”

Johnny Evers

The shortstop Evers was scouting, according to The Los Angeles Express was Carl Dittmar. The club was said to be looking for a replacement for 39-year-old Rabbit Maranville, in order to move the veteran to 2nd base; the Braves instead purchased Billy Urbanski from the Montreal Royals.

Pitchers told Evers they would have to throw low pitches at the parks with lights mounted on top of the grandstand and high pitches at the parks with lower mounted lights:

“How can a scout tell whether these pitchers that are so good at night can pitch in the majors in the daytime?”

As for baseball as a whole?

“Evers calls the present ‘the cream puff era’ in baseball. ‘There’s no more fight in the game.”

He complained that one West Coast manager told him a player we wanted to scout had ‘a bad cold’ and would not be in the lineup:

“I cannot understand players staying out of a ball game because of a cold.”

 There were at least two players of “the cream puff era” that Evers approved of:

“Babe Ruth and Lefty O’Doul are the greatest hitters today. They realized that conditions are changing in baseball. Ruth’s mighty swings eliminated the bunt and put the homerun at a premium some years ago. With the slowing up of the baseball, Ruth is accepting the changed conditions.

“The big fellow of the Yankees now just meets the ball most of the time. Because of his strength, the ball leaves the bat like a shot and is past the infielders before they are able to take a full step.

“O’Doul is meeting the ball in a sweeping motion, which results in many base hits. He started the season in a terrible slump, but he was smart enough to discover the trouble.”

O’Doul

The scout, and co-author with Hugh Fullerton of “Touching Second: The Science of Baseball” remained a fan of the dead ball:

“Evers thinks the slower the ball the better the players and the game. Brainy players and plays have been sacrificed by the lively ball for fellows who can do nothing but ‘cut and slash.’”

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Lost Advertisements–Ty Cobb in San Francisco

27 Nov

cobbad

A 1920 advertisement that appeared in The San Francisco Call for The Emporium, a local department store, welcoming Ty Cobb.  He was on a nearly two-month barnstorming tour of the West Coast.

The ad included a quote from Cobb:

“Any man can deliver the goods to the grandstand if he first delivers to himself.  When a ballplayer knows his own ability, it’s no trick to get out on the diamond and play ball.  With skill and right on his side, a man is bound to hit the top.

“There comes a time in every fellow’s life when he must take stock and make sure he is on the square.  That applies to business, baseball or any occupation.”

The ad said Cobb was “A straight ballplayer.”  The integrity of the game and Cobb’s personal integrity were discussed regularly during his tour; he arrived in San Francisco on October 16, six days before a Cook County, Illinois grand jury handed down indictments against eight members of the Chicago White Sox.

In welcoming Cobb to the city, San Francisco Mayor James “Sunny Jim” Rolph said:

“You are welcome, Mr. Cobb because you typify the best in baseball.  This fight to clean baseball started in San Francisco, and I want you to know we in the West are in the fight to the finish.

“There will always be a welcome for you and all clean ballplayers, and for the other kind, no place in America should want them.”

Cobb’s “All-Stars,” a team that included Nick Altrock and Willie Kamm and other major leaguers and well-known Coast players,  drew large crowds and Cobb also appeared in front of school groups and civic organizations.

During a speech to the Press Club of San Francisco, Cobb told the crowd that the former player he had been told was the best ever was in the audience:

“I have always been told that San Francisco is the home of the best ballplayer ever in the game.  I refer to Bill Lange who is here today.”

He remained on the West Coast until November 28.

On his final day in California, a wet afternoon in Oakland,  the 33-year-old Cobb competed against 23-year-old Francis “Lefty” O’Doul in the days “field events.”  The San Francisco Chronicle said:

“O’Doul beat Cobb in the bunt and run contest.  Lefty went around the bases in 14 4/5 seconds while Cobb took 15 seconds to make the trip. The time was fast considering the heavy track.”

Cobb was nearly universally cheered during his West Coast tour.  The one exception, on Monday.

A Thousand Words—Home for Christmas

25 Dec

japantour

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.