The Major League Baseball All Star break is almost upon us and so is another edition of the Baseball Historian’s Notes!
-Former star Dmitri Young has a bone to pick with the National Baseball Hall of Fame. From his perspective, it’s a glaring omission that former Detroit Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker has still not been enshrined nearly 25 years after he played his final big league game. Dmitri recently shared a petition on social media taking up Sweet Lou’s Cooperstown cause. Take a peek and sign it if you agree.
-The former house of legendary pitcher Satchel Paige in Kansas City has fallen into disrepair in recent years; ravaged by fire and neglect. Happily, that should be remedied by a recent $150,000 grant awarded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Now owned by the Kansas City Homesteading Authority, the idea is to restore the once-beautiful home to its former glory and use it to honor the legacy of the Hall-of-Fame hurler, who according to his daughter Linda, entertained everyone from “Count Basie to the Harlem Globetrotters there.”
-July 6th marks the 86th anniversary of former Chicago Cubs infielder Billy Jurges being shot in his hotel room by a spurned girlfriend, Violet Popovich Valli. After receiving information that Jurges was seen with other women, she confronted him in his room. An argument ensued, and she drew a gun. When he grabbed the firearm and attempted to wrestle it away from her she managed to get off several shots, hitting him in the rib, a finger and arm. Surprisingly, the 24-year-old missed less than a month and returned in time to help his team square off in the World Series against the New York Yankees. He declined to press charges and she walked free, using her newfound notoriety to launch her career as a Chicago showgirl.
-The July 21, 1958 cover of Life Magazine featured the resilient Roy Campanella, recovering from a severe auto accident that left the Brooklyn Dodgers catcher paralyzed. Despite the severity of his injuries, his competitiveness and positive spirit are clearly evident in this photo, which is a tribute to the all-time great.
-In 2003, Lou Piniella, the well-known prickly manager of the Tampa Bay D-Rays, followed through on a wager he made with his teams, dying his hair blonde after they won three consecutive games. As this picture attests, he didn’t necessarily enjoy having to pay up.
-MLB.com recently released previously unseen footage of baseball legends of Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb from around 1924. Although brief, it’s an amazing opportunity to see these players up close and personal and think about how they achieved what they did during their remarkable careers.
-The New York Mets celebrated the 50th anniversary of their “Miracle Mets” World Series winning team from 1969. Unfortunately, they made the type of gaffe that has come to be expected of the franchise in recent years, as they struggle to regain the glory of their past. They had a number of the players from the 1969 team at their pre-game ceremony, but erroneously included outfielder Jim Gosger and pitcher Jesse Hudson in their Jumbotron tribute of those who had passed away. The only problem is that both men are still very much alive.
-Something you can file under things you don’t see any more, here is a video of former Toronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston conducting his team in a rendition of “This Land is Your Land.” If you look closely, you can likely identify former players, including Carlos Delgado and Otis Nixon, dressed as various historical characters doing solo vocal work.
-Here is a rundown detailing how all 30 major league teams got their names. Each entry is brief but interesting. Some names were fairly straightforward, while others evolved and changed over time. Definitely worth checking out if you’ve ever wondered about these origins.
-Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana is one of the oldest ballparks in professional baseball, first opening in 1915. Now, more than a century later, it is still being used by the Evansville Otters of the independent Frontier League. Check out this article by Chad Lindskog of the Courier & Press, detailing the history of this wonderful old venue.
I have also authored a number of books (eBook and paperback) on topics of baseball that are available on Amazon.