today in baseball history..

Hey, I just noticed it’s the birthday of Sal Maglie!

Fans of Ball Four will recall that Sal is the lovable curmudgeonly pitching coach for the Pilot in 1969, but way before that he was well known as “Sal the Barber” – known for pitching inside and giving “close shaves” to opposing batters.

Sal went 23-6 for the NY Giants in ’51, helping them win the senior circuit gonfalon. He had some back problems that limited his Sal Maglie - 1957 Toppseffectiveness in ’53, ’54, and ’55, and was sent to the Indians, briefly where he played little in ’55. In ’56, at age 40, he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers and made a big comeback, going 13-5, tossing a no-hitter on September 25th, and helping the Dodgers win the pennant by one game over the Braves. In ’57 he pitched well, but was sent to the Yankees later in the season, thus becoming the last player to wear the jersey for all three New York Clubs. Sal became a coach in 1960 with the Red Sox; his year coaching the Pilots was his last as a coach. He died on December 28, 1992.

Bouton’s portrait of Maglie is not very positive, but Bouton, I’m sure, had his own ax to grind. Maglie’s career was largely based on throwing hard and inside, and he just may not have had much useful advice to a guy trying to throw a knuckleball.

Sal also has a great baseball name.

Anyway, Happy Birthday, Sal the Barber. Good Game.

this guy can paint the corners

nine billion g web

When I think of baseball paintings I think of Norman Rockwell’s painting of the umpire and the rain, and LeRoy Niemann, of course, he must have done some baseball, no? And of course, Van Gogh, who always wanted to do a series of paintings on baseball, but never felt “ready.” As he wrote to Theo:

“Je ne suis pas prêt, Théo, je ne suis pas assez artiste, assez audacieux, assez sauvage âme à peindre baseball comme il doit être peint, avec le feu et le tonnerre de roulement de la nuit ..

Et alors … tournesols.
oui. tournesols, Théo.
plus de tournesols.
Je suis tellement déprimée. Avez-vous entendu des scores de l’Amérique? Je me demande pendant la nuit que j’essaie de me reposer, comment les Athletics font. Avez-vous entendu quelque chose?
Theo, écrivez-moi.”

“I am not ready, Theo, I am not artist enough, bold enough, untamed soul enough to paint baseball as it should be painted, with fire and the rolling thunder of the night..

And so… sunflowers.
yes. sunflowers, Theo.
more sunflowers.
I am so so depressed. Have you heard any scores from America? I wonder at night as I try to rest, how the Athletics are doing. Have you heard anything?
Theo, write me.”

I just happened upon the website of the painter Graig Kreindler. Now here’s a guy who can paint the corners, and everything else as well.

Kreindler - Mantle

I came across his work yesterday morning as I was looking for widget images, and I love his work, the perspectives he chooses, the way he uses light and chooses his moment. Lots of great paintings on his website. Take a look. What better subject for painting than baseball? Colorful, focused action and grace, power, the broad green fields of summer, history. “The human drama of athletic competition.” (thanks Chris Shenkle, Wide World of Sports.)

hey, don’t knock the Rock!

I came across this old card while I was looking for my Jackie Robinson.

Was there ever a better baseball name than Rocky Colavito?

colovito's power

I don’t think so.

You don’t hear much about Rocky Colavito any more. He had a string of good years for Rocky Colavito - Time Magazine Cover - Aug 24 1959Cleveland and Detroit in the late 50s and early 60s. Naturally, with a name like Rocky Colavito, he hit a lot of home runs: 374 over a 14 year career, with a .266 average. In his final season, ’68, he pitched a couple of innings for the Yankees and got one in the W column. While slow of foot, he was a good outfielder with a tremendous throwing arm, and was always a big fan favorite, especially in Cleveland.

The SABR Bio project has a nice write-up on the Rock.

Hey, don’t knock the Rock!

our endless winter…

19april d - mtpmcg413

Winter lingers on here in the Twin Cities. With nine inches of snow falling in our yard on the 18th. Heavy, wet, back-breaking snow. Startlingly white. Blindingly so.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” I said to my mother, on the phone, up in Hibbing.

“No,” she replied. “It’s ugly as hell.”

Well, they have gotten a bit more snow than us this year. Hang in there mom. Soon it will be June.

Ahhh, but we still have baseball. And the Twins have won two in a row. They got rained out of a game with the Mets, missed a game with the Angels because of snow/rain, then got chilled out of last night’s game in Chicago, but now they’re playing an afternoon game in Chicago, looking to make it 3 in a row, and get back to .500. Another afternoon game tomorrow in Chicago as well.

And I’m still reading Ball Four. Which I’m neglecting to spend time on, for a variety of baseball and non-baseball reasons.

I’m up to August 2nd, 1969. Jim is doing pretty well with the knuckleball, though when he finally got to start a game the KB abandoned him and he got rocked.

ball 4 - Aug 2

In addition, the Pilots’ season is headed south, as you might expect for an expansion team. They’ve just gone through a rough patch, and they’ve got another stretch against the East Division clubs coming up which, as you can see, will not go well for them.

(later…)

Twins win! Three and a row, and back to .500, and — at last — a decent game from Worley. And all’s right with the world.