NOVEMBER 12 – MEET THE NEW BOSS

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS • Today – NOVEMBER 12TH  in baseball history: Pete Townsend wrote “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss,”  in the Who classic, Won’t Get Fooled Again. That’s not unlike when Major League Baseball owners gave in to Federal Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis on this date in 1920. They named him the game’s first Commissioner.

The public relations nightmare of the 1919 Black Sox scandal was just coming to light. Owners were fearful the effect of the scandal would have on the popularity of the game. They were pursuing an independent 3-member commission to rule the game. A favorite of the owners to be one of the commissioners was Judge Landis, but he would only serve if he was sole Commissioner. That’s how a single baseball Commissioner came to be.

According to Leonard Koppett, author of Koppett’s Concise History of Major League Baseball, Judge Landis negotiated a pretty good deal to help major league baseball “come clean.” He got an annual salary of $50,000 for seven years. He would remain on the federal bench, but his $7,500 judge salary would be deducted from his baseball salary.

Kenesaw Mountain Landis is most remembered for banning eight members of the Chicago White Sox for life in 1921 for throwing the 1919 World Series.

Koppett suspects Landis was named commissioner as payback for bailing out major league baseball when he was the presiding judge over an antitrust lawsuit in 1915.

While the antitrust litigation had a more lasting effect, Kennesaw Mountain Landis is most remembered for banning eight members of the Chicago White Sox for life in 1921 for throwing the 1919 World Series. A jury had found the players not guilty of throwing the series – partly because confessions they made were lost – but Judge Landis didn’t care about the acquittals. His view was they confessed to accepting bribes, so they were forbidden to ever play major league baseball again.

Kenesaw Mountain Landis was Commissioner for 24 years – the longest of any baseball commissioner. That’s what happened TODAY – November 12th – in baseball history.

Contributing sources:
Koppett’s Concise History of Major League Baseball
, by Leonard Koppett, 2004

NOVEMBER 11: FERNANDOMANIA

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA • TODAY – NOVEMBER 11TH – IN BASEBALL HISTORY: Fernandomania continued into the post-season on this date in 1981. Los Angeles Dodger phenom pitcher Fernando Valenzuela won the National League Cy Young award as the league’s best pitcher. He was the first rookie to win the award.

Valenzuela displayed excellent composure, enthusiasm and ability though he was only 20-years old.

Valenzuela could hit too. He hit .250 with 7 RBI in his rookie year. His career batting average was .200 with 10 home runs and 84 RBI.

Valenzuela finished the ’81 season with a 13 – 7 won-loss record and a 2.48 ERA (earned run average). He beat out established stars Tom SeaverSteve Carlton and Nolan Ryan for the Cy Young award.  Valenzuela also won the National League Rookie-of-the-year award.

Valenzuela could hit too. He hit .250 with 7 RBI in his rookie year. His career batter average was .200 with 10 home runs and 84 RBI .

Fernandomania lasted 17 years.  During that time Valenzuela won 173 games and lost 153. That’s today – November 11th – in baseball history.

Contributing Sources:
“Fairy Tale Ending to Fairy Tale season,” by Mike Littwin, Los Angeles Times, November 12, 1981
1981 Post-season awards 

Yankees 27 Astros 1

NOVEMBER 5, 1998 | NEW YORK, NEW YORK – Houston Astros fans are relishing in the team’s first-ever World Series championship. Compare that to what the New York Yankees accomplished on this date in 2009. They won their 27th World Series. Yankees 27 Astros 1.

That’s more than the next three World Series winning teams combined.

It’s more than double the 11 won by the team with the second-most – the St. Louis Cardinals.

But it’s a start – Yankees 27 Astros 1.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
Number of World Series won by each team
Postseason results, BASEBALL-REFERENCE.com
Yankees post-season results  

 

Puckett carries Twins to promised land

cropped-ball-2.jpgOCTOBER 26, 1991 | MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTAMinnesota Twins center fielder Kirby Puckett was not having a good World Series against the Atlanta Braves. The Twins were facing elimination in game 6 of the 1991 fall classic. It all changed on this date. The best way to describe it; ‘Puckett carries Twins to promised land.’

Kirby Puckett hit a triple in the first inning to drive in a run and later scored. In the third he robbed the Braves’ Ron Gant of extra bases by seeming to hang in mid-air to snag a 400-foot drive off the Plexiglas in left-center field. The future Hall-of-Famer broke a tie in the fifth with a sacrifice fly to deep center. After the Braves tied it up in the 8th, Puckett singled and stole second, but didn’t score.

Puckett’s real heroics came when the game went into extra innings. The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis was packed with 51,155 frenzied fans. Puckett led off the 11th. He was facing the Braves’ Charlie Leibrandt. The count was 2-balls and 1-strike. Puckett hit the next pitch over the left field fence prompting television play-by-play man Jack Buck to say, simply, “And we’ll see you tomorrow night.”

The Twins won that game too, and won a thrilling 1991 World Series.

Contributing sources:
Still a Series to Savor

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.

12491620-large

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 

a STORY from today in baseball history