Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! May your hearts be full and your plates even fuller. As you recline from your bountiful meal, here’s another addition of the Baseball Historian’s notes for your holiday enjoyment.
-Jesse “Pop” Haines had a 19-year Hall-Of Fame career as a right-handed pitcher with the Cincinnati Reds (1918) and St. Louis Cardinals (1920-1937) that saw him win 210 games. However, the knuckleballer had an even lengthier post-baseball career, serving as the Montgomery County, Ohio auditor for 28 years. The Dayton Daily News recently detailed his service, showing that he strove to be the best at whatever he did throughout his professional life.
-With the free agency season upon us, expect to see any number of exorbitant contracts signed—including individual deals in excess of $100 million in total value. $100+ million contracts seem to be the norm these days, but it was just 20 years ago that the first major league player, right-handed pitcher Kevin Brown, inked the first such pact in 1998 with the San Diego Padres (Seven years, $105 million). Yahoo! Sports ran a piece by Sports Illustrated’s Gabriel Baumgartner about how that contract came to be.
Although Brown lasted just one season with the Padres, he provided good value over the course of the deal (including seasons spent with the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees). In those seven years, he was a combined 86-45 with a 2.87 ERA.
-Here is some incredible footage of the 1934 All Star Game, which took place at the Polo Grounds in New York. This video not only details part of Giants’ pitcher Carl Hubbell’s famed five consecutive strikeouts of the American League’s heart of the order, but also shows a wide array of other historical figures and players.
-Tampa Bay Times sportswriter Marc Topkin recently sat down with his paper to discuss his book Twenty Years of Rays Baseball. Unbelievably, the franchise marked its twentieth year in existence during the 2018 season. The team was among the worst in baseball in the early years, but since then has made a World Series and has developed a reputation for annually fielding a competitive if not contending team despite one of the lowest budgets in baseball.
-Shortstop Honus Wagner was one of the great players in baseball history. He spent his entire 21-year playing career with the Louisville Colonels/Pittsburgh Pirates franchise and then went on to coach/manage them for a number of years; more than earning his enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. It is with little surprise that the city of Pittsburgh had great admiration for him. This footage of a parade the city gave him in appreciation not only shows a vast turnout, but also some neat clip of him clowning around with a ball and bat.
-An extremely rare program from Game 7 of the 1903 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and Pirates recently sold at auction for a whopping $228,780. Pittsburgh wound up winning the inaugural Series five games to three (The World Series started as a best-of-nine games affair). There are only two other known copies of 1903 World Series programs, which look much different than today’s thick glossy editions.
-Although outfielder Barry Bonds remains somewhat of a baseball pariah following his 2007 retirement in the face of swirling performance enhancing drug allegations and legal troubles, he is still popular in the world of baseball cards. Forbes’ Daniel Seideman profiled Greg Mirmelli, who has amassed a collection of over 5,000 1986 Topps Traded Bonds cards, which is his rookie issue. The avid collector has spent in excess of $120,000 on the cards and is part of a greater Bonds collection that is insured for $1 million.
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