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Monday, December 3, 2018

How a Former Atlanta Braves Pitcher Has Become a Star in the Art World: The Baseball Historian's Notes for December 3, 2018

Fully in the throes of holiday season, many baseball fans wistfully gaze out windows to scan the snow driven landscape before them. Although another baseball season is still months away, a generous helping of the Baseball Historian’s Notes may help bridge the gap.

-Forbe’s Terence Moore checked in with his thoughts on how Major League Baseball is failing African Americans. From the continued anemic numbers of black players to the recent embarrassment of having to ask for the return of a political donation from an embattled Mississippian Senatorial candidate espousing racist ideology, it is not a good look at all for the game. Baseball is truly at its best played and shared among different people and places. And it cannot be America’s Game unless it is open and inviting to all that call this country home.

-The casual observer may gloss over the career of outfielder Pete Gray. After all, he appeared in a total of just 77 games (all during the 1945 season with the St. Louis Browns) and hit just .218 with 13 RBIs. However, he had just one arm, the result of a childhood accident. A natural right-hander, who had to play with his left hand, his feats on the diamond (He was a career .308 hitter with five home runs in parts of six minor league seasons.) showed he was one of the most talented players the game has ever seen. His glove is now housed at the Hall of Fame, and one of his admirers is working to raise the funds to have it properly restored to make sure fans can continue to see it and learn about this amazing player for generations to come. 

-Check out this clip of Hall-of-Fame outfielder Ty Cobb being interviewed in 1955. A highlight is his discussion of an at-bat he once had against pitcher Rube Waddell.

-Additionally, here is some brief footage of legendary pitcher Christy Mathewson warming up before games. “Big Six” won 373 games during an epic career that saw him as the biggest star in baseball during his career. He ended up serving in World War I and ultimately he died in 1925 at the age of 45 because of complications of being exposed to poisonous gas during his service.

-Production from the designated hitter position can vary league-wide from year to year. Matt Monagan from says that the year that has seen the best DH production was 1995. Check out his thoughts to see why.

-Slugger Jose Bautista has bashed 344 home runs during a 15-year big league career. He is still seeking a home for 2019, but in the meantime has received an honor that may rival his six All Star selections and four top-ten MVP finishes. An entomologist recently discovered a new species of beetle and named it (Sicoderus bautistai) after the star. The scientist acknowledged that he decided to name the weevil after Bautista after seeing him make a widely celebrated bat flip after hitting a dramatic home run for the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2015 playoffs.

-Outfielder Cleon Jones starred for the iconic 1969 World Series-winning New York Mets as part of an excellent 13-year big league career. Now decades after retiring from playing he is still a star, but in a much different way. Now 76, he and his wife Angela (the cousin of Hall-of-Fame outfielder Billy Williams) have worked diligently to help restore and maintain Africatown, a small community located on the outskirts of his hometown of Mobile, Alabama. Founded by freed slaves, it has fallen on harder times in recent years, which the baseball legend is helping to combat.

-Left-handed pitcher Richard Sullivan spent six years in the Atlanta Braves minor league system and independent ball. He was a combined 20-37 with a 4.42 ERA that time. Although he made it as high as Double-A the 2008 11th-round draft choice unfortunately never got a shot at the major leagues. He retired following the 2013 season, but has since found a new career as an up and coming artist, whose work (including baseball pieces- is drawing rave reviews for the 31-year-old.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

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