First Record of a Base Ball Game being Played?

Here’s a link to a BBC report about a reference to a game being played in Surry, England in 1749, with the Prince of Wales playing, no less. The game was reported in the Whitehall Evening Post, on 19 September, 1749.

bae ball 1749

The previous first record was of a game in Guilford in 1755.
The first record of the game being played in the U.S. was at a Valley Forge army camp in 1778.


Colabello strikes!

Here’s to Chris Colabello.

He hit his first major league home run yesterday, a two run shot in the 13th inning, as the Twins steal a game from the Mariners, 3-2. Colabello’s the 29 year old rookie who has had a long career in independent league baseball before being “discovered” by the Twins. He was hitting .354 with 24 HR in AAA ball this season when the Twins called him up. Last night the Twins scored a run in the 9th to tie the game at 1, and Colabello’s blast was the game-winner.

Colabello HR 1c has the video, of course.

Way to go, Colabello!

And hey, the Twins have been playing some good ball since the all-star break!

Baseball & the Game of Life

game of life b smWell. I have finally finished this small collection of short stories, and found in it a few home runs and a few foul balls. I struggled a bit in the early part of the book, but the later stories were all pretty good, and the writing also seemed stronger and more sure of itself, more distinctive and precise.

The last couple of stories I thought particularly good. “His Big Chance,” by John Hildebidle, tells the story of a small town kid, a ball player who is pretty good and is trying to decide on going to college or taking up baseball as a career. His uncle arranges a game, the home town team against a negro barnstorming club, to lure some scouts to town to see the boy play. It’s a big event in the small town, and the boy looks forward to the game confidently. Unfortunately, he seems to run into Satchel Paige, and things go a bit differently than what had been expected.

The last story, “Browning’s Lamps,” also was particularly enjoyable. The main character, Howard Gammill, is a writer, working on a book of interviews with old baseball players — something akin to The Glory of Their Times, I guess. At the start of the story he’s interviewing an old ball player who says the at the he ever saw wasn’t himself, it was a guy named Pless.

“Pinch Pless they called him. Worst glove ever, couldn’t catch a pea in a bushel basket… but stick a bat in his hand, man, that sucker could hit a apple seed blowed off a barn roof”

The odd thing, for Gammill, was that he had heard Pless’s name before, mentioned in the same context by another old ball player. So he does some research and finds out when and where Pless played, and also his batting statistics.

“He picked up a paper and pencil and began making columns of Pless’s batting achievements, going all the way back to 1921. When he finished he caught his breath. Pless had an average in organized baseball of .447, and once led the Bluegrass League in homers and triples despite having fewer than 100 at bats.”

Gammill places an ad in the Sporting News, asking anyone with knowledge of the whereabouts of Walker B. Pless to contact him, and several weeks later, an envelope arrives.

This story in particular was very nicely developed, I thought. The writer, David Nemec, really set the stage well, and reeled the reader into the story. There’s an unfortunate twist to the story about half way through, that I thought diminished the story. I suppose it just changed the story into something a bit less interesting for me, it wasn’t the sort of story I was looking for. Despite that, this was still one of my favorites in the book.

The book concludes with a couple of lists. First, “Baseball’s Dozen Best Adult Novels” – I’ve only read four of these, and the ones I read were certainly good, so this is a list worth exploring more. Now that I’ve finished this book of stories, I’m looking for something else, but I’m inclined a bit more now towards nonfiction, perhaps history, so the novels will have to wait a bit. The second list seems a bit redundant, “Fifty Recommended Baseball Novels.” Some possibilities there as well, but for a later time.

the mick

Back when I was just starting to collect baseball cards, when I was a mere youth, I somehow found out about Larry Fritsch, a card dealer in Steven’s Point, Wisconsin, who sold cards through the mail by catalog. I probably thumbed through the catalog for a long time before picking out a few to purchase. Mostly Twins, of course. But then again, there was the Mick. Everyone loved the Mick, and of course I had to have a card of his. And of course, the bigger the better.

And so that’s how I wound up with this one, a 1964 Topps Giant card of Mickey Mantle.

Mickey Mantle lgcd c smWell, it’s a nice card, but the regular sized cards seem to be valued a bit more.

And I don’t like to think of what I might have paid, back in 1970, for a really nice Mickey Mantle card.

Here’s an interesting article that suggests that card dealers in NY artificially boosted the value of the ’52 Mantle card; it also estimates the value of a ’52 Mantle in the late 1970s at $100 to $150. In the early 1970s? Under $100? (Current value? Hard to say. The market is fluid, and much depends upon condition. But let’s just say probably over $10,000, and not think about it anymore.)

Of course, back in 1970, $100 was a lot of money, especially for me, and I’d have been crazy to spend that kind of money on a baseball card. I’m sure the ’64 large card was much more in my price range. Which allowed me to also get Pascual, Oliva, and Killebrew as well.

Larry Fritsch Cards, LLC, is still is out there, selling cards, at, though Larry himself passed away in 2007.

What would I do with a ’52 Mantle anyway?

The Met Plays Ball…

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has opened up a new exhibition, to coincide the the All-Star game at Citi Field: Legends of the Dead Ball Era (1900-1919) in the Collection of Jefferson R. Burdick.

Collins Minneapolis t206

Jefferson R. Burdick was a baseball card trader and collector, who cataloged cards in the American Card Catalog, and whose cataloging gave names to many of the famous collectible card sets of today, such as the T206 (American Tobacco Company cards), and E93 (1910 Standard Caramel cards).

The Legends of the Dead Ball Era show contains 600 cards, though the Met collection numbers about 31,000. There’s a nice story about the show in the NY Times. Field trip?

All Star Break!

Well, here it is already. The All-Star break. A time for rest, reflection, reappraisal, and perhaps a bit of recharging and reinforcement.

The Twins go into the All Star break feeling good after a win.
In New York.
Against the Yankees.
Beating C.C. Sabathia. (First win against Sabathia since July 29, 2007.)
Winning the series, 2 games to 1. (First series victory in NY since May, 2001.)

Put another one in the win column for Kyle Gibson. This makes him 2-2. Three runs on five hits and four walks in five innings of work. Also notable in yesterday’s game, Caleb Thielbar gave up another run, on a Suzuki HR. That makes two runs he’s given up this season. Twenty games, 21.2 innings pitched, 2 runs, 2 home runs. Will we see more of Mr. Thielbar in the second half?

We may see less of Chris Parmelee and Oswaldo Arcia, both of whom were sent down to AAA yesterday after the game, both of whom are slumping. Arcia is in an 0-18 slump, striking out in 11 of his last 13 at bats. Parmelee is one for his last 22. Parms better light ’em up in AAA, I think, if he wants to get back up to the bigs. I suspect the Twins are running low on patience with him.

Eduardo Escobar (hitting .214) was also sent down; I guess the Twins thought he might perform better than he has in the past (hitting .216 lifetime). But no, he didn’t. The Twins called up catcher Chris Herrmann, who’s hitting .227 down at AAA, but is 6 for 13 this year with the Twins, and Doug Bernier, an infielder. Sending down Escobar and Parmelee for Herrmann and Bernier is hard for me to figure.

There’s talk of also promoting Chris Colabello, after the AAA All-star game. Chris is playingchris colabello - Worcester Tornados in that game, after hitting .354 with 24 home runs and 76 RBIs in the first half with Rochester. Colabello’s pushing 30 years old, and is a great story – he was not drafted out of college and so played seven years in the independent Can-Am League, mostly for the Worcester Tornadoes. The Twins picked him up in 2012, and he hit .284 with 19 home runs and 98 RBIs in AA ball at New Britain. Now, this year, it’s the AAA All-star game and a ticket to big league ball.

Hats off to you, Chris Colabello, and good luck in the second half.