Results tagged ‘ Joe Tinker ’

A Gilded Coal-Hole

By John Odell

World Series winners have long received championship rings to commemorate their historic victories. Today’s players usually receive their rings in a formal ceremony at the start of the new season, often during the first home stand. Prior to the 1920s, however, players received decorated pins or medallions as their personal championship awards, which arrived toward the end of December. At the end of 1908, the Chicago Cubs received their second consecutive World Championship medal—and they were not happy about it.

The Cubs’ 1907 medallion had been made of gold, bore the profile of a bear cub’s head with a diamond in its teeth, and was over 1 1/2 inches in diameter, making it about the size of a silver dollar. Although the 1908 version was also gold, it was less than 3/4” across—smaller than a dime. The players were so disgusted by the award that the Sporting Life, a leading national newspaper, reported on it:

The Emblems
The World’s Championship emblems have duly arrived, and were hailed with much derision by the Cubs, who aver that they look more like a monkey’s dream than the insignia of base ball’s proudest event. They are, to say the least, scrubby and measly, and the boys ridicule them savagely. Just why a Cincinnati firm, which evidently hasn’t taste enough to design a sewer-cover, should be given such a job, is a darksome mystery. Last season’s emblems were so inferiorly constructed that they fell apart, and the boys had to have them reset. This season’s are in the shape of a button, and look like a cross between a sick mince pie and a gilded coal-hole. Joe Tinker says he would not wear his emblem to a dog fight, and the rest of the Cubs are equally outspoken.
–Sporting Life, January 9, 1909

Why do researchers so enjoy plowing through old newspapers, looking for a “find”? Because not only can you uncover wonderful and surprising information, you can get a great read. Modern journalism, while far more professional, is not half as much fun. A coalhole, by the way, is the entrance to an old-fashioned coal chute, often found in a sidewalk, and leading down to the coal bin by the furnace. Think of it as a small manhole cover.

Finally, Cubs fans and foes alike have to wonder what the players’ reactions might have been if they had known that, a century later, they would still be waiting on their next championship.

John Odell is the curator of history and research at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Grand Slam Poetry

Light_90.jpgBy Steve Light

One-Hundred years after Baseball’s Sad Lexicon (“Tinkers, to Evers, to Chance”), baseball remains a sport that lends itself to poetic musings. With this in mind, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum celebrated National Poetry Month last week by asking our visitors to express their love of baseball in poetic form.

04-28-10-Light_TinkersEversChance.jpgVisitors to the Museum were greeted with signs that asked, “What is Baseball to You?” After completing their tour through the Museum, many no doubt reliving and sharing their own baseball memories along the way, visitors could stop in the Education Gallery and record their own thoughts in special poetry journals set out for the week, or simply flip through and read what others had to say.

In all, we collected over 80 entries of poems and prose during the week, from young and old, Red Sox fans to Yankee fans. Taken in whole, our visitor entries get at the heart of what it means to be a baseball fan, and why it’s more than just a sport for many. As a Sox fan from Worcester wrote:

Baseball is History.
Common stories,
celebration, and disappointment,
always with the promise
of next year’s resurrection.

We thought we would share some of the collected poems here on our blog. Read them.

So, what is baseball to you?

Stephen Light is manager of museum programs at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Birthday Sunday

Berowski_90.jpgBy Freddy Berowski

On Jan. 31, the Hall of Fame will wish Happy Birthday to three of our own. 

Ernie Banks will turn 79. Although his beloved Cubbies, a perennial second-division team during his tenure there, never made it to the World Series, it was not because of Mr. Cub, who did everything he could year after year to try to get them there. A 12-time All-Star and two-time NL MVP, Banks hit more than 500 home runs and drove in more than 1,600 runs in his 19 seasons playing first base and shortstop with Chicago’s North-Siders.

01-29-10-Berowski_BanksRyanRobinson.jpgAlso celebrating his birthday is the all-time Major League strikeout king, and current president of the Texas Rangers, Nolan Ryan. The Ryan Express will celebrate his 63rd birthday. Although his birthday is officially January 31, Ryan seems to have received an early birthday present when his ownership group was recently selected to purchase his home state’s AL franchise, the Texas Rangers. 

Rounding out the trio of birthday boys is Jackie Robinson. The only man with his uniform number retired across Major League Baseball, Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947. Although he passed away in 1972, Jackie Robinson will be remembered by many on what would have been his 91st birthday.

There are 292 Hall of Famers and 365 days in a calendar year, yet there are more than a dozen dates on the calendar that celebrate the birthday of three Hall of Famers. In fact, May 14 is the day of the year with the most Hall of Famer birthdays: Ed Walsh, Earle Combs, Tony Perez, JL Wilkinson and Alex Pompez. 

October is the month that has the most Hall of Famer birthdays – 36. And three Hall of Famers passed away on their birthday – Joe Tinker, Gabby Hartnett and Bucky Harris. 

A pair of baseball’s former home run kings will have the anniversaries of their births marked next week. Hank Aaron will turn 76 Feb, 5, and Feb. 6 will mark 115th anniversary of Babe Ruth’s birth.

Freddy Berowski is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Ellsbury pulls off Hall of Fame-like steal of home

Hayes_90.jpgBy Trevor Hayes

On Sunday night, the Red Sox’s Jacoby Ellsbury did something that is rare in today’s game — he managed a straight steal of home off the Yankees’ Andy Pettitte. Pettitte looked devastated after it happened, and Ellsbury got a curtain call from the Fenway Park faithful after his daring dash.

The straight steal of home is rare, just like no-hitters or cycles. This season, there have been three cycles, and there were five last year. Last season there were two no-hitters. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, there were 15 steals of home in 2008, with just four being straight thefts. Torii Hunter’s straight steal on Sept. 18, 2008, was the last steal of home of any kind.

4-28-09-Hayes_Ellsbury.jpgDuring the ESPN telecast, Hall of Famer Joe Morgan was asked how many times he’d performed a straight steal of home. Morgan, who ranks ninth among modern-era players with 689 stolen bases, said he’d done it maybe twice in his career. (He’s done it three times.) But after one particularly close attempt, teammate Tony Perez — another future Hall of Famer — told him not to do it anymore. Morgan listened.

Because stealing home is not an official statistic, research is considered ongoing, but the untouchable leader in steals of home is Hall of Famer Ty Cobb. He stole home a staggering 54 times in his career, including 25 straight steals. Max Carey, another Hall of Famer, is second with 33.

In Major League history, 38 men have 10 or more steals of home. Of those 38, exactly half, 19, are in the Hall of Fame.

Rk Hall of Famer Steals of Home
1) Ty Cobb 54
2) Max Carey 33
4) Honus Wagner 27
8) George Sisler 20
7) Johnny Evers 21
9) Frankie Frisch 19
9) Jackie Robinson 19
11) Tris Speaker 18
11) Joe Tinker 18
14) Rod Carew 17
14) Eddie Collins 17
18) Fred Clarke 15
18) Lou Gehrig 15
26) Sam Rice 12
28) Harry Hooper 11
32) Rabbit Maranville 10
32) Paul Molitor 10
32) Babe Ruth 10
32) Ross Youngs 10

Cobb holds the single-season record with eight during the 1912 season, whereas Pete Reiser holds the National League single-season record with seven. Carew, who stole home seven times in 1969, is the most productive home-plate thief in the post-Jackie Robinson era.

4-29-09-Hayes_Cobb.jpgRobinson, however, may have recorded the most famous steal of home. On Sept. 28, 1955, in Game 1 of the World Series, Robinson — who made stealing home and driving pitchers nuts an art form — slid under the tag of catcher Yogi Berra during an eighth-inning attempt, cutting the Yankees’ lead to 6-5. Berra immediately began arguing with home-plate umpire Bill Summers, insisting that Robinson was out — a stance he maintains to this day. The Hall of Fame catcher lost the argument, and eventually his team lost the World Series.

The Mets’ Jose Reyes, one of today’s prolific basestealers, said he’s planning a tribute to Robinson this season. After being told Jackie stole home 19 times, Reyes couldn’t believe it, but he’s been inspired and said he wants to pilfer the plate to honor Robinson’s fearlessness on the bases.

There’s an ongoing argument in baseball about the most exciting play in the game. Some people call it the triple; others say it’s a squeeze play or the inside-the-park home run. On Sunday night, Ellsbury reminded fans that the straight steal of home should be included in that conversation.

Trevor Hayes is the editorial production manager at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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