Happy Turkey Day.

Bill Hohman - 1927 Phillies bBill Hohman was born on this date, 1903. Played seven games for the Phillies in 1927, hit .278 in 18 at bats. Not sure what became of him after that. A project for another day.

Meanwhile, Bob Harmon and Babe Herman both passed away on this date.

(See the theme here? It’s pretty subtle.)

Bob Harmon - 1912 b

Bob Harmon was known as “Hickory Bob.” His middle name was Green, which is a bit unusual. He pitched 9 years in the bigs, 1909 – 1918 (taking 1917 off for some reason) and went 107-133, with a 2.62 ERA. He had a good year in 1911, 23-16 with the Cards. They went 75-74 that season, finishing 5th, so Bob did pretty well for them. Bob passed away in ’61.

Meanwhile, Babe Herman broke in with the Brooklyn Robins in 1926, playing right field. He was an excellent hitter, hitting .324 in a 13 year career, and a poor fielder, leading the league in errors at first base in 1927, and in right field in ’28 and ’29. As one scout said of him, “”He’s kind of funny in the field, but when I see a guy go 6-for-6, I’ve got to go for him.”

Babe Herman - 1933 Goudey

Babe strung together three pretty good seasons in 1928, ’29, and ’30, hitting .340, .381, and .393, before slumping to a .313 in 1931. So he could hit a bit.

Babe is also known as the only guy to hit a double into a double play, in 1926 at Ebbets Field against the Braves. With runners on first and second, Babe doubled off the wall. The runner on second – the slow-footed Dazzy Vance, rounded third and headed for home as the throw came into the plate. Meanwhile the runner from first headed towards third, and then Babe thought he’d stretch his double into a triple. The throw to the plate must have been a good one, because Vance, headed towards the plate, pulled up, and thought he’d best go back to third, where the runner from first was already waiting, and while Babe was charging in from second. So all three runners ended up at third, and the third baseman tagged them all.

That would have been an interesting play to see.

Also noteworthy – Babe Herman’s the only player ever to hit for the cycle three times.

Babe Herman died not so long ago, in 1987. turkey red cigarettes lg

Good games, Bill, Bob, Babe.

And Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

I’m thankful for baseball, I am.

Looking for a baseball – thanksgiving connection, the first thing that came to mind were Turkey Red cigarettes, and the beautiful baseball cards that they produced in 1910 -11.

Here’s The Great Lajoie, 1911, Turkey Red. And again, Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Napoleon Lajoie - 1911 t3 Turkey Red b sm

 

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Happy Birthmonth, Frank Chapman!

Looking at today’s baseball birthday’s I see that Ducky Medwick was born today, in 1911. His parents named him Ducky, but most people called him Joseph Michael. How could you not like a ballplayer named Ducky? Joe Medwick c fr sm - 1937 - Dixie Premium

Ducky was a member of the famous “gashouse gang,” the Cardinals teams of the ’30s, and he could hit the ball some. He won the Triple Crown and NL MVP in 1937, when he hit .374 — yes, .374 — with 31 home runs and 154 runs batted in. He finished up with a lifetime batting average of .324.

In the 1934 World Series Medwick got taken out of the seventh game in, in Detroit. Apparently the Tigers fans didn’t like the way he slid hard into third base after hitting a triple, and were throwing a lot of garbage at him out in left field in the bottom half of the inning. (The Tigers fans were used to a more genteel style of play, such as Ty Cobb used to show them, where he would slide carefully into third base on a triple and then dust off the opposing third baseman after the play was over.) Anyway, in order to get the play going again, and, they medwick in left pelted 1934 world seriessay, for Ducky’s own safety, Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, baseball Commissioner, who just happened to be there that day, ordered Medwick off the field. To be fair about it, he also ordered the Tiger third baseman out of the game too, a guy named Marv Owen.

Above you see a picture of Ducky standing out in left, the fans pelting him with garbage, an image from the newsreel available on shutterstock. After the game, (which the Cardinals won, 11-0, winning the series,) Medwick said “Well, I knew why [the Tiger fans] threw that garbage at me. What I don’t understand is why they brought it to the park in the first place.”

A good question.

This is Charlie Ferguson, Philadelphia Pitcher in the 1880s. This is not Frank Chapman, but perhaps Charlie knew Frank? In any case, Frank probably dressed something like this when he was pitching for the A's that day.

This is Charlie Ferguson, Philadelphia Pitcher in the 1880s. This is not Frank Chapman, but perhaps Charlie knew Frank? In any case, Frank probably dressed something like this when he was pitching for the A’s that day.

And what about Frank Chapman? Frank was born sometime in November, (might as well call it the 24th) in 1861, and broke in with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1887, the starting pitcher on 22 July against the Cleveland Blues. Chapman gave up six runs, four earned, in five innings of work. Eight hits, two walks, four strikeouts, and oh for two at the plate. He got credit for a complete game, as Blues starter Mike Morrison declared a forfeit, with the Blues ahead by two, after a heated argument with the umpire. So, complete game, but he doesn’t get a victory or a defeat. I wouldn’t have thought that was possible.

That was it for Frank Chapman’s career in the bigs. Perhaps he was disenchanted with the experience. But another odd thing about this is that for years they thought Frank Chapman was Fred Chapman, (who was born on 24 November) and this appearance by Fred Chapman would have been when Fred was just 14 years old, making him the youngest player ever to play in the majors. (Such as it was.)

But it wasn’t Fred after all, as shown in research by SABR guy Richard Malatzky. So, well, never mind. It just goes to show, you never know. Who’da though you could pitch a complete game and not get a win or a loss? That’s the way baseball go. You just never know.

Which led me to Joe Nuxhall, who is actually the youngest guy (or so we believe at this point in time, to the best of our knowledge) ever to play in major league ball. Joe was just 15 (well, 15 years and 361 days, to be exact) when he pitched two-thirds of an inning for the Reds on 10 June, 1944.

Joe got the first guy out in that game. But then gave up five walks, two hits, a wild pitch, and five runs before being pulled. In 1945 Joe decided to finish high school, and then he went back to baseball, and came up with the Reds again in 1952, and was a pretty decent pitcher for them, making the All-Star team in 1955 and ’56.

Anyway. Happy Birthday Ducky, Fred, Frank, and Joe Nuxhall too, (a bit late on Joe, July 30th.) Good game, all.

Happy Birthday, Roy Campanella

Born on this date, 19 November 1921.

Roy Campanella - 1956 Topps One of only three players to win the NL MVP award three times, in 1951, ’53, and ’55. (Mike Schmidt, Stan Musial.) Roy came up one year after Jackie Robinson, in 1948, and played nine seasons before his career ended in an auto accident that left him paralyzed. Besides being a fearsome slugger, Campanella threw out 57% of the players who attempted to steal on him, the highest career mark in major league history. And he caught three no-hitters.

And he played for the St. Paul Saints. Campy came to the Saints in late May of 1948, and got called back to the Dodgers at the end of June. In 35 games he hit .325, with 13 home runs and 39 rbi. Saints fans were sorry to see him go.

Roy Campanella with StPaul Saints

Campy passed away in California, on 26 June, 1993.

Happy Birthday Campy! Good game.

today’s baseball birthday

Moonlight Graham, born on this date in 1877.

There’s some question about the date, perhaps. Wikipedia says 28 December 1879 and 12 November 1879, but BaseballReference.com says 12 November 1877. SABR agrees with BaseballReference, so Happy Birthday Moonlight!

Moonlight doesn’t have much of a career line. Two innings played with the NY Giants on 29 June 1905.

Moonlight Graham -Scranton - 1908

 

Not enough time for a proper entry on this, in 3 minutes before the commute. But Happy Birthday Moonlight!

Franklin MN

Franklin MN ballpark b

Seems like every little town has got their baseball field. Something nostalgic about that. I don’t see many kids out there playing, though maybe it’s just in my neighborhood. This is Franklin Minnesota, farm country, south central Minnesota. Catfish Capital of Minnesota, or so they claim. They do not field a team known as the Franklin Catfish, however. I haven’t been able to find any hometown team mentioned, or a name for this little ballpark.

Ahh, well, it’s a nice looking little ballpark. Probably called Franklin Ballpark. Good enough.

The Only Nolan?

Happy Birthday wishes today to The Only Nolan, born on 7 November 1857.

It turns out there were quite a few well-known (to me) ball players born on this day, including Dick Stuart, who had one of the best nicknames of all time. He was known for his defense, which was poor, and they called him Dr. Strangeglove, among other things. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Also on this date, Jim “Kitty” Kaat, Jake Gibbs, Joe Niekro, Buck Martinez, Willie Norwood, (former Twin), and Todd “Former Twin” Ritchie.

But who the heck was The Only Nolan?

The Only Nolan lgWell, The Only Nolan played back in the day. He was a right-handed pitcher for the Indianapolis Blues in 1878, the Cleveland Blues in 1881, the Pittsburgh Alleghenys in 1883, the Wilmington Quicksteps in ’84, and the Philadelphia Quakers in ’85. Rather a peripatetic career. In May of ’78, for the Blues, he pitched a two-hitter against the Milwaukee Grays, but barely won the game, 6-5, as the Blues committed 11 errors and passed balls in the field. That must have been an entertaining game to watch.

It seems like The Only Nolan was a bit of a problem. He was kicked off the Indianapolis club in August – said he was going to a funeral, but instead went out drinking. He was allowed back in the league in 1881, but in September of 1881 the league blacklisted The Only Nolan, and a few other players, for “confirmed dissipation and general insubordination.” He only lasted seven games with the Allegheneys before being released for disciplinary reasons. The next year he pitched in five games for Wilmington, and in his final season with the Quakers, he pitched in seven games. Add it all up and you end up with a 23-52 record, a 2.93 ERA, and a great nickname.

The Only Leon

The Only Leon

Wikipedia reports two possible origins of the nickname. The first was that there were no other Nolans playing then in the Majors. That seems like a pretty unlikely cause for a nickname. The second points to a popular minstrel performer of the time, who billed himself as “The Only Leon,” and performed in both black-face and drag — perhaps Nolan reminded some of this character? This seems unlikely as well, though there is a nice balance in the names Leon and Nolan.

The Only Nolan died on 19 May, 1913, at age 55. He was a police officer for 15 years in Patterson New Jersey. I came across a little news of this in the New York Times:

“THE ONLY NOLAN” DEAD.
Former Famous Baseball Pitcher Passes Away in Paterson.

 

Well, happy birthday to The Only Nolan; The Only Nolan in baseball with a birthday today.

 

Speaking of dead, fans of  the 1904 Millers might recognize this name: Charlie Frisbee passed away on this date in 1954. Frisbee played outfield for the mighty Mudhens of Toledo in 1904.

The Big Train Leaves the Station…

Happy Birthday to Walter Johnson, the Big Train, born on 6 November 1887. We get to Walter Johnsonclaim him as an ex-Twin, since he played his entire career, 21 years, with the old Washington Senators.

Johnson’s accomplishments are legendary, and far too numerous to mention. His 417 wins are second most in baseball history (Cy Young – 511), and his 3,508 strikeouts stood as the top career mark for 55+ years. His record of 110 career shutouts is still the high-water mark. He had 12 twenty win seasons, including a string of ten in a row, and twice won more than 30 games. The Senators of Johnson’s time were generally not a very good club, finishing in the second division about half the time.They finished second in 1912 and 1913, when Johnson had his 30 win seasons, but they finally made it to the World Series in 1924 and 1925, Johnson’s 18th and 19th seasons.

I could go on talking about his accomplishments, but I’ll wrap up by pointing to Johnson’s reputation as a kind and gentle man.

walter-johnson

You’ll note the wicked side-arm motion he had there. The Twins could use a guy like this right about now. Yes, indeed. More about Johnson from SABR, of course…

Johnson was one of the first five players elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame. He died at age 59, on 10 December 1946.

Good game, Barney.

Two good Walter Johnson quotes:

“Can I throw harder than  Joe Wood? Listen mister, no man alive can throw any harder than Smoky Joe Wood.”

 

“I throw as hard as I can when I think I have to throw as hard as I can.”

And Ty Cobb said,

“His fastball looked about the size of a watermelon seed and it hissed at you as it passed.”