All posts by todayinbaseball@gmail.com

A STORY FROM FEB 19 IN BASEBALL HISTORY – DIFFICULT EVEN FOR TED WILLIAMS

TODAY IN BASEBALL TAKES US TO SEOUL, KOREA FEBRUARY 19, 1953. Ted Williams told the Associated Press (AP) on this date that trying to find a target with a Marine Panther jet “is harder than trying to hit that ball.” It was difficult even for Ted Williams.

The Boston Red Sox slugger had just returned from his sixth combat mission into North Korea. He was on the second military tour of his major league career. He served three years during World War II, and two more in Korea.

Williams was not alone among major league stars to interrupt some of their most productive years to get involved when the country was at war. Detroit Tiger slugger Hank Greenberg and Cleveland Indians pitcher Bob Feller were some of the first to enlist after Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941 ushering the United States into World War II.

Baseball Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis asked President Franklin D. Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor if major league baseball should cease operations for the duration of the war and FDR said no, it would be good for morale.

While baseball continued during World War II, quality of play diminished significantly. If you were able-bodied enough to play baseball you were able-bodied enough to be drafted. Most players who hadn’t enlisted here.

By 1945, the last year of World War II, teenagers such as Joe Nuxhall of the Cincinnati Red-Legs and men with conditions which kept them out of the service, such as one-armed Pete Gray of the St. Louis Browns were filling up MLB rosters. After June, 1945 many of the players began to return from military duty, which was difficult even Ted Williams, and get back to what they knew best – baseball.

Contributing sources:
David Whitley, ESPN.com on Ted Williams
David Hornestay, Baseball Survives World War II, January 7, 2008

A STORY FROM FEB 16 IN BASEBALL HISTORY – REGULATION GAME RULES CHANGED

TODAY IN BASEBALL TAKES US BACK TO 2007 IN LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA. Major League Baseball changed the rules for the first time in 11 years on this date in 2007. The Rules Committee decided that if a “regulation” game is interrupted because weather or some kind mechanical problem that forces the game to stop, and the game is tied, it is a “suspended” game and will resume from that point. A regulation game is “suspended” and resumed from that point if the visiting team has gone ahead but the home team has not completed an equal number of innings.

Under the old rule the game would have to start over and all statistics would be wiped clean if a regulation game was stopped with a tie score.

A “regulation” game is one that has gone at least 4½ innings if the home team is ahead or 5 innings if the home team is behind.

The rules are a little different in the postseason or any games that have significance to the postseason. All games stopped due to weather are suspended and completed later from the point of the termination.

Contributing Sources:
Los Angeles Times,
February 17, 2007
Suspended game

A STORY FROM FEB 15 IN BASEBALL HISTORY – BASEBALL PROSPECTUS PICKS NL DIVISION WINNERS FOR 2018

SPRING TRAINING 2018 IS UNDERWAY IN FLORIDA AND ARIZONA. THE NL DIVISION WINNER PREDICTIONS ARE COMING OUT TOO. Among the most eagerly awaited are the predictions from Baseball Prospectus (BP). Check out their in-depth analysis of every team and player in baseball. Here’s who BP predicts will win the National League divisions in 2018.

NL PREDICTIONS FOR 2018
EASTWashington Nationals
CENTRALChicago Cubs
WEST – Los Angeles Dodgers

How accurate was BP last year? As it turned, pretty accurate. Below are the teams Baseball Prospectus picked to win the National League Divisions in 2017 and who actually won (See Feb 13, 2018 story for AL 2017 predictions):

NL PREDICTIONS FOR 2017 
EASTWashington Nationals (CORRECT)
CENTRAL Chicago Cubs (CORRECT)
WEST Los Angeles Dodgers (CORRECT)

It’a quite remarkable that Baseball Prospectus batted 1000 in correctly predicting all six MLB division winners in 2017.

Contributing Sources:
Baseball Prospectus, February 3, 2018
Baseball Reference

A STORY FROM FEB 13 IN BASEBALL HISTORY – BASEBALL PROSPECTUS PREDICTS 2018 AMERICAN LEAGUE DIVISION WINNERS

SPRING TRAINING 2018 IS GETTING UNDERWAY IN FLORIDA AND ARIZONA. THE PREDICTIONS ARE COMING OUT TOO. Here’s who Baseball Prospectus (BP) thinks will win the AL Divisions in 2018.

AL PREDICTIONS FOR 2018
EAST – New York Yankees
CENTRALCleveland Indians
WEST – Houston Astros

How accurate was BP last year? As it turned, pretty accurate. Below are the teams Baseball Prospectus picked to win the American League Divisions in 2017 and who actually won:

AMERICAN LEAGUE PREDICTIONS FOR 2017 
EASTBoston Red Sox (CORRECT)
CENTRAL Cleveland Indians (CORRECT)
WEST Houston Astros (CORRECT)

BP batted 1000 predicting AL Division winners in 2017. Tomorrow we’ll look at how well BP did with the National League.

Contributing Sources:
Baseball Prospectus, February 3, 2018
https://www.baseball-reference.com/

 

A STORY FROM FEB 12 IN BASEBALL HISTORY – ABRAHAM LINCOLN & THE SPREAD OF BASE BALL

TODAY IN BASEBALL TAKES US TO FEBRUARY 12, 1809 IN HODGENVILLE, KENTUCKY – THE BIRTHDAY AND BIRTHPLACE ABRAHAM LINCOLN. Some believe the Civil War helped spread the game of Base Ball. The war brought men from all over the country together. In their leisure, they took up the game.

Others, such as Patricia Millen, author of From Pastime to Passion, say the Civil War more likely slowed down the spread of Base Ball, which had already become quite popular in the Northeast in the decades before the war, and spread like wildfire after the war ended.

According to George B. Kirsch, author of Baseball in Blue and Gray“Abraham Lincoln’s rise to political prominence… occurred during the years when the game was achieving increasing popularity in all regions.

The earliest association between Lincoln and Base Ball appeared in a Currier & Ives political cartoon published in November 1860, shortly after Lincoln defeated three rivals to claim the presidency.

In the cartoon, each has a bat in his hands. Lincoln also has the ball and is saying, “Gentleman, if ever you should take a hand in another match at this game, remember that you must have a good bat to strike a fair ball and make a clean score and a home run.”

Additional reading:
Baseball and American Culture: Across the Diamond, by Edward J. Rielly