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The first box-score

October 22, 1845 | NEW YORK, NEW YORK – Baseball historian John Thorn says in his book, Baseball in the Garden of Eden, the first box score appeared in the New York Herald newspaper on this date in 1845. It recorded a game from the previous day between The New York Ball Club and a team from Brooklyn. Unfortunately, the actual box score from 1845 could not be located. Here is another from the same era:

19th Century - Newark - Eckford NYSM

The box score appeared to be patterned after cricket, a more commonly played game in Manhattan, New York at the time.

The baseball graphic included a box with two columns listing players for each team in the order of how they batted. It recorded little more than their names, number of outs made and runs scored. It didn’t have pitching statistics, except for what the pitchers did at the plate.


Today the typical box score has names, positions, at bats, runs, hits and runs batted in. Many box scores also record who had extra base hits, committed errors, hit sacrifice flies, stole bases and stats on all pitchers. Plenty to lose yourself in for a half hour or so. Below is a how-to on a modern baseball box score courtesy of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

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Contributing sources:
Baseball in the Garden of Eden: The Secret History of the Early Game, by John Thorn, 2011
The New York Times, “Cooperstown? Hoboken? Try New York City,” by Fox Butterfield, October 4, 1990
More on the box score 

“I’ll tell ya what. We’re having an earth…”

OCTOBER 17, 1989 | SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – Broadcaster Al Michaels was frantic as ABC lost its signal just before game 3 of the 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s. Rain, sometimes snow, has been known to interrupt post-season play. This time the San Francisco earthquake of 1989 brought all activity in Candlestick Park, other than self-preservation, to a screeching halt, because, as Michaels’ said off-camera, “I’ll tell ya what. We’re having an earth…”. He was unable to get out “quake” before he was cut-off.

Millions watching the broadcast saw highlights of the previous game being described by announcer Tim McCarver when all of the sudden the picture sizzled and the broadcast signal was lost.

Candlestick Park, with 62,000 people inside, bent – fans felt the stands move and the light standards sway several feet – but did not break. There was catastrophic damage in other parts of the Bay Area; a section of the double deck Nimitz Freeway collapsed, as did part of the Bay Bridge. There were multiple explosions and fires in the Mission District of San Francisco. Sixty-three deaths and almost 4,000 injuries were reportedly caused by the earthquake.

The World Series, coincidentally involving the two Bay Area teams, was postponed for ten days, because, “I’ll tell ya what… we’re having an earth-“. The A’s eventually swept the Giants in four games.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
1989 Earthquake
ABC-TV
Oakland A’s post season

No Angels in the outfield

OCTOBER 12, 1986 | ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – The California Angels were one strike from their first World Series on this date in 1986 when they suffered a heartbreaking loss. It was a spectacular series that had tragic consequences beyond baseball. On this day, there were no Angels in the outfield.

It was game 5 of the best-of-five American League Championship Series (ALCS). California had a three games to one lead over the Boston Red Sox. The game was filled with drama.

The Angels were up 5-2 in the ninth. It was the Red Sox’ last at bat. Designated hitter Don Baylor hit a two-run homer on a two-strike pitch with one out. The Red Sox were within a run.

After the second out Angel’s reliever Gary Lucas hit catcher Rich Gedman. Angel’s manager Gene Mauch brought in Donnie Moore to pitch to the Red Sox’ Dave Henderson. Moore had bounced around the major leagues for several years, but appeared to have found a home with the Angels. Moore had two strikes on Henderson. The Angels were one strike from their first World Series.

Henderson hit a two-run homer to give the Red Sox the lead.

As dramatic as that was, it wasn’t the end. The Angels tied the game in the last of the 9th. Neither team scored in the 10th. The Red Sox scored the go-ahead run in 11th on a sacrifice fly by Dave Henderson. The Angels were held in check in the bottom of the 11th to end the game. The Red Sox were still down three games to two, but were heading back to Boston where they won the final two games.


Sadly, Donnie Moore’s life spiraled down after that. He was booed regularly by Angels’ fans who couldn’t forget that one fateful pitch. Moore was tough on himself too. It’s unlikely that failing to retire the Red Sox on that October day in 1986 was his only demon, but he fell into deep depression after being released in 1988. There were no Angels in the outfield for Donnie Moore on that day. He committed suicide in 1989 at the age of 35.

Contributing Sources: 
Game 5 of ALCS
1986 playoffs 
Another view of what happened to Donnie Moore

Curt Flood is most remembered for what he would not do

OCTOBER 7, 1969 – ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI – Curt Flood was a pretty good baseball player. He broke in with the St. Louis Cardinals at the age of 18. He had a .293 lifetime batting average and won several Gold Glove awards. Flood did a lot for the Cardinals. He is most remembered for what he would not do.

Flood was traded from St. Louis to the Philadelphia Phillies on this date in 1969. He wouldn’t go. Flood didn’t like that he had no control over where he played. If a team traded a player to another team, that’s where the player went. That was the essence of the “reserve clause.” Flood balked, “I do not feel that I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes.”

Flood’s case against the reserve clause went all the way to the U-S Supreme Court. While the court ruled against Flood in 1972, the decision altered the landscape which soon allowed much freedom of movement by the players – and much higher salaries.

Contributing Sources:
Kurt Flood https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/f/floodcu01.shtml
“Koppett’s Concise History of Major League Baseball” by Leonard Koppett

“It’s gonna be I believe…”

OCTOBER 3, 1951 | NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK 

“Branca throws.

There’s a long fly. It’s gonna be I believe…

THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!”


Those were the words that blurted out of Russ Hodges‘ mouth as he described, arguably, the most dramatic moment in sports history – Bobby Thomson’s pennant clinching home run for the New York Giants to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers. Hodges was the Giants’ play-by-play man. His description was as much disbelief as excitement.

The drama was the result of a perfect storm; a Giants comeback from 13½ games down in August, a Brooklyn Dodgers‘ collapse, the third game of a best of three playoff to decide the pennant, the Giants’ last chance in the bottom of the 9th down 4-2, two men on, one out.

Bobby Thomson hitting a home run wasn’t so unusual. He hit 32 of them in 1951, 264 in a 15-year career. Thomson also had over a thousand RBI (1,026) in his career, and was a lifetime .270 hitter. Still, what happened at 3:58 p.m. Eastern Time on October 3, 1951 was as dramatic as anything that had ever happened in sports. The discovery of an audio recording of the play-by-play only intensified the drama.

It’s ironic that a recording of the radio broadcast is saved for posterity in that that game was one of the first to be televised nationally, but the TV broadcast was apparently not recorded.

Contributing sources:
NPR Story on Shot heard round the world
October 3, 1951 box score
The Wall Street Journal, Sept 19, 2006
The Echoing Green, by Joshua Prayer, 2006