Heroes of the Negro Leagues

It’s a pack of baseball art cards AND a book! And a DVD!

Well, okay, not quite a DVD.

But it’s a nice little book, based on the (out of print) Art Cards of the same title.

What you get here is 66 watercolor-painted images of the greats of the negro leagues (39 more than in the boxed set of cards!) and one-page write-ups telling a bit about the guys. The paintings, by “award-winning artist” Mark Chiarello, are quite nice. Here’s a poor reproduction of one of my favorites, Judy Johnson:

And the one page write-ups are well written snapshots, a bit of baseball doings, a bit of personal story. Leaves you wanting more, as they should. And there’s a nice introduction by Monte Irvin!

But!   That’s!    Not!    All!

Included in the book is the DVD, Only the Ball was White, which I haven’t seen yet, but will let you know how it is. Looks like a 30 minute documentary about the Negro Leagues. I don’t know if this comes with every book or only with the books that include the DVD. But it looks like it might be great.

How could it not be, really?

Especially if you’re a guy who likes reading about baseball history.

To sum up: an excellent little book, with wonderful illustrations and good stories. You’ll probably want to add this volume to your ever-expanding baseball library, if you’re any kind of baseball fan at all.


Happy Birthday McKinley Wheat

Yup. Zach’s younger half-brother Mack was born on 9 June 1893. Mack was a catcher, played a bit with Zach on the Brooklyn Robins, and also played for the Phillies. He finished out his career in 1922 with LA in the Pacific Coast League, where it looks like he played in three games, going 0 for 2 at the plate. Still, he got a pretty nice baseball card out of the deal.

Mack was not quite as good a hitter as Zach, finishing up with a batting average of .204 in just over 600 plate appearances over 7 seasons in the majors. Still: seven years in the majors. Perhaps he was an excellent windpaddist.

Also of note in baseball history today, the Twins hit five home runs in the seventh inning against the Angels in 1966, the first time in the American League there was ever a five home run inning. Rollins, Versalles, Oliva, Mincher, and then, finishing up, the fat kid, Harmon Killebrew. True Twins fans know that the game was never in the bag, but the Twins did manage to hang on somehow to win it, 9-4.

And then, some years later, the great Zoilo Casanova Versalles passed away on 9 June, 1995. American League MVP in 1965, leading the Twins to the World Series. Good game, Zoilo.

Happy Birthday Van Lingle Mungo

Born on this day in 1911.

I thought that worth mentioning.

Mungo was a bit of a character, a bit pugnacious, I guess. He finished his career with a 120-115 record, playing with Brooklyn from 1931-41, and with the Giants in 1942 and ’43. He was a hard-thrower. His card (a “Batter-up” card from about 1934) makes it look like he was a bit of a sidewinder.

Happy Birthday, Van Lingle Mungo.

Attic Find

I see an article in the NY Times this morning, about a pretty nice collection of old baseball cards that a guy found in his uncle’s attic, after his uncle passed away. The highlight? Nineteen unopened packs of Bowman baseball cards from 1948. That would be a pretty nice find. Especially as the article notes that finding one unopened pack is exceedingly rare.

The cards are up for auction now, with the Mile High Card Company, and I think it will probably more than I can afford. Currently the top bid is at $171,455, but there’s plenty of time left to get your bid in. They’re auctioning them off as a complete set, 19 of 24, and the display case is included.

I’ve never been a big fan of the 1948 Bowman set. I wouldn’t throw them away or anything, but there haven’t been many that have caught my eye. Here’s a nice example, though, the 1948 Bowman Stan Musial:

This card’s up for sale on ebay, and it goes for $12,500, being graded in mint condition. Stan was just 28 in 1948, but he looks younger in this picture.

The big question: I wonder if any of these packages will ever be opened?


Zach Wheat

Happy Birthday Zach Wheat! Born 23 May, 1888.

Lifetime batting average, .317, with 2884 hits. Played for the Millers a bit, in 1928. One of the best baseball names ever.

“One of the grandest guys ever to wear a baseball uniform, one of the greatest batting teachers I have seen, one of the truest pals a man ever (had) and one of the kindliest men God ever created.”

– Casey Stengel

Passed away 11 May, 1972.

Good game, Zach!

Happy Jackie Robinson Day!

What America Needs in 2017 is more Baseball Related Holidays.

There’s a lot of other things America needs, but I think Baseball Holidays is an achievable goal.

Say, for instance, when the hell are we going to start celebrating Larry Doby Day. Major League Baseball was not integrated until Larry Doby got the job done. And it wasn’t any easier in the American League. So: Larry Doby Day. That’s July 5th, by the way. Let’s make a little noise for Larry on that day. Wednesday. It’s the Twins vs the Northern Part of Southern California Centering on the Greater Los Angeles Metropolitan Statistical Area Angels of Anaheim and Proximous Suburbs.

The Twins drop another tough one last night, 2-1, and again fall a game out of first. They jump into a quick lead today, but True Twins fans know that early leads are never secure, and the ball game isn’t over till it’s over, and pride cometh before the fall. Pressly took the loss, yesterday, gave up the go-ahead homer in the 7th.

I need to do a bit of research on these 2017 Twins. I have to admit, I kind of lost track of things last year, and now I find that there’s quite a few names on the team that really don’t sound familiar. For a team that didn’t really make a lot of moves in the winter, there seems like a lot of new names. Though it wouldn’t surprise me too much if some of the guys on last year’s team just changed their names so as to start fresh with a new life and a clean slate. Probably a good choice for some of them.

Some might be thinking of me now as a fair-weather fan, but no no no, I don’t think that’s the case. I think last year it was simply a matter of self-preservation. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I care too much.

Well, that’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.

I was also thinking that I might need to find a team to root for over in the National League, now that the Cubbies are the best team in baseball. I don’t feel honest, rooting for the top dog. I relate more to someone with limited talent but good intentions. Two possibilities are the Washington Senators er, Nationals. Seems like we are kind of related to them. And then there’s the Giants, who almost moved here back in the day. Could have been the Twin Cities Giants? The Minneapolis Giants? The Giants and the Nationals are a bit too good to really root for. So maybe the Braves, who had a terrible season last year, and who aren’t the Reds or the Padres, who were similarly terrible but who are the Reds and the Padres. Or perhaps the Phillies, because who roots for the Phils?

Obviously, more thought is required on this. Safe to say that the Nats and the Giants and the Reds and the Padres are not in contention for the honor.

And a stray tangentially-related thought: can we finally get rid of the designated hitter now? Haven’t we given it a fair trial? I am pretty sure that it was suppose to be a three-month deal! A test case. I’m pretty sure that’s how it was presented. I’m going to check on that. But anyway, here it is, 44 years later now, and we’re still doing this? Yeesh.


As long as we’re adding baseball holidays to the calendar, let’s put the ki-bosh on the DH as well. Posterity will thank us, (if there is any posterity.)

Game update: Still 5-0. Mr. Santana is tossing “a pretty good game.”

But it’s only the 8th inning. Plenty of outs left to play.

Update: It’s over. Twins win.

line score 4-45-2017

A pretty nice day for Mr. Santana. Doesn’t get a whole lot better than that. A one-out single in the third, to catcher Omar Narvaez.

It is Good to be in First

Well, the Twins won their first game of the season. We need to take a long moment to acknowledge that fact, and to appreciate it. When was the last time they won the opening game of the season? That was just back in 2008, only some 9 years ago. Some of you older readers might remember that game, a 3-2 triumph over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Livan Hernandez got the win for the Twins, and Mauer, Cuddyer, and Lamb got the RBIs. (Mike Lamb. Third base. Hit .233 in 81 games.)

Here’s to being in first, and getting that first win under our belt. Some of you may recall that the first win was a bit difficult to get last year. But this is a new year, and a new ball club. In their 7-1 win, the Twins put together an impressive rally in the seventh, scoring six runs on three consecutive bases-loaded walks, followed by a couple of singles. Way to be patient up there at the plate! Good eye, Good eye! Walks as good as a hit. Attaboy. I’ll bet the joint was rocking as the balls kept piling up, one after another, inexorably, and the runners slowly trotted from base to base to base. Oh, yeah: Baseball is back, my friends. Baseball is BACK.

In honor of the opening of baseball season, the Library of Congress has a post on their blog, “Champions of America: Early Baseball Card.” There’s a nice picture of the Brooklyn Atlantics in the post, which goes on to say that the Atlantics won championships in 1861, ’64, and ’65, and their season extended into the winter, when they put on skates and played on frozen ponds. I suppose that ice-baseball just didn’t catch on, or we’d be seeing it today.

The post also points to the Library’s collection of early baseball cards, which I believe I may have mentioned here previously. They have a fairly nice collection of about 2000 cards dating from 1887 to 1914. The original collector of these cards, Benjamin K. Edwards, gave the collection to poet Carl Sandburg, who donated the collection to the Library in 1954.

Which made me think that a Chicago guy like Sandburg must have written some poems about baseball. But I only find one tonight:

Hits and Runs


I REMEMBER the Chillicothe ball players grappling the Rock Island ball players in a sixteen-inning game ended by darkness.
And the shoulders of the Chillicothe players were a red smoke against the sundown and the shoulders of the Rock Island players were a yellow smoke against the sundown.
And the umpire’s voice was hoarse calling balls and strikes and outs and the umpire’s throat fought in the dust for a song.


Carl Sandburg, 1918

I haven’t been able to find any information on whether Mr. Sandburg rooted for the Cubs or the White Sox. It seems like a poet would most likely root for the Cubs. Nelson Algren, on the other hand, I could see him being a White Sox fan.

More research is needed.

Finally, I just came across a nice article in the NY Times, about new Twins Executive Vice President and Chief Baseball officer Derek Falvey. The article gives me hope, unlike many of the articles in the NY Times these days.