Negro Leagues Newsbeat
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
If Josh Gibson had played in the American league, Babe Ruth’s home run record might not have lasted a dozen years. In 1939 against top Negro League teams, Josh smashed 23 in only 117 at bats. That’s 98 per 550! Babe’s record was 60 in 540 AB. Josh’s target was 408 feet down the line in Washington; Babe’s was 296 feet in New York….
In 1943 Gibson slammed ten balls into the distant Washington bleachers in 40 games. The entire American League, which shared the park, hit only one out there in 77 games….
El Paso Herald, December 30, 1915:
Only the unwritten rule that bars negroes from major league participation has kept out of organized baseball one of Cuba’s most wonderful players—“Black” Gonzales.
Gonzales has an ear so finely attuned that the instant the bat hits the ball he can tell where it is going. Time and again he has been blindfolded and then called off the exact direction in which the drive is going. Very often he has fielded the ball while in an outfield position with his eyes covered.
Gonzales is a husky negro who is a wonder behind the bat, a grand outfielder and a terrific hitter. The major leaguers who have seen him in action say he hits the ball harder than any man other than Ed Delehanty [sic].
Also, he’s probably not a real person. According to Who’s Who in Cuban Baseball, 1878-1961, these are the contemporary Cuban Gonzalii: Papo Gonzalez, who eventually played for the Boston Red Sox. Gervasio Gonzalez, who was a heck of a player, but was a catcher. Mike Gonzalez, who both played and managed in the Major Leagues. Octavio Gonzalez, an infielder who spent 1914 in the Sally League. Primitivo Gonzalez, an outfielder who finished with zero career hits in the Cuban league. Ramon Gonzalez, an infielder who played eight seasons in US minor league baseball. And Valentin Gonzalez, an outfielder (check) who led the league in hits five times (check), but was light-skinned enough to have played in the South Atlantic League.
I’m pretty confident in asserting that Black Gonzalez is a fictional character. Am I missing an obvious candidate?
Friday, December 18, 2015
With the help of a $500,000 grant announced Thursday, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum will next year open the long-awaited Buck O’Neil Education and Research Center and debut an exhibit on the integration of the major leagues.
The grant, from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, will also support museum operations, programs and exhibits. It will also go toward the O’Neil Center in the former Paseo YMCA in the 1800 block of the Paseo, near the museum at 18th and Vine streets. It was at that Y that the Negro Leagues were formed in 1920.
Saturday, October 31, 2015
Article from Sport in American History. Also reposted at the New Pittsburgh Courier. Somehow the Pirates got away with destroying their permanent Negro leagues exhibit for the entire 2015 season with very little push-back from the Pittsburgh or baseball community. How does this happen?
This past spring, two statues depicting Negro leagues baseball legend Josh Gibson were on the move. In Washington D.C., the Nationals quietly relocated a Gibson statue along with two others to another section of their ballpark; in Pittsburgh, the Pirates tried to throw theirs away. Specifically, the Pirates gutted Legacy Square of its seven statues of Negro leagues ballplayers along with the associated interpretive panels. As Opening Day approached, the Pirates were set to destroy the statues after having already destroyed the large Legacy Square baseball bats. Purely by coincidence, Sean Gibson–great-grandson of Josh Gibson and Executive Director of the non-profit Josh Gibson Foundation–was offered a chance to rescue the statue of his great-grandfather. With insufficient storage or transportation, Gibson initially balked at the offer, instead suggesting the statues be redistributed throughout PNC Park, but once he realized the urgency of the situation, Gibson informed the Pirates that he would take the Josh Gibson statue–as well as the six others.
Legacy Square is technically still part of PNC Park of course, but it now looks very different, very empty, and very sad. Gone are the statues and the oversized bats, only to be replaced by simple banners depicting both Negro league and present-day Pittsburgh ballplayers. Further, speaking from personal experience, these banners are very easy to overlook. Legacy Square was originally designed to be a place to exclusively interpret and educate fans on Pittsburgh’s black baseball past, and that is quite simply no longer true.
What’s most shocking about the Pirates decision to purge local African-American history from PNC Park is that since the 1970s the Pirates have been leaders in embracing diversity within Major League Baseball (MLB). The Pirates were a bit slow to field a black ballplayer (1954, seven years after Jackie Robinson), but in 1971 the Pirates fielded the first all-minority starting lineup. So how does a franchise clearly aware of its past in a city with incredibly rich Negro league history simply remove the permanent exhibits of Legacy Square? Now that the Pirates season is officially over, perhaps the spotlight can be turned to these questions.
Sunday, September 27, 2015
Documenting the real history.
The project called for patience, perspective and, perhaps most of all, a deep love of baseball. The last part was what made Neftalie Williams’ presence here, next to a baseball complex in Compton, so peculiar.
Williams was there to interview Don Buford, subject No. 5 out of 111 in a quixotic mission: Over the next few years, it’s Williams’ job to interview, record and catalog every living African American player from the turbulent first 25 years of Major League Baseball’s racial integration, from 1947 to 1971.
Already, Williams and Daniel Durbin, the USC professor who created the project, have heard about old injustice and lasting humiliation. Many of the stories had never been told before. Others won’t be told until later, having been tucked away into a “dead file,” which, Durbin explained, consists of stories the researchers have been told “you can only release after I’m dead.”
Posted: September 27, 2015 at 08:31 AM | 20 comment(s)
Saturday, December 10, 2011
According to Spencer Fordin of MLB.com, Legendary Pictures announced yesterday that Harrison Ford will play Hall of Fame Dodgers’ executive Branch Rickey in a biopic about Jackie Robinson.
Many prominent actors have been mentioned for the role of Rickey over the years, including Robert Redford this past April, but Ford was apparently their top choice. His work in “Cowboys and Aliens” probably put him over the top.
As for Robinson, he’ll be played by the relatively unknown Chadwick Boseman. The 27-year-old has appeared in television shows such as “Lincoln Heights” and NBC’s “Persons Unknown.”
The film, which is appropriated titled “42,” is being written and directed by Brian Helgeland of “L.A. Confidential” and “Mystic River” renown.
Shia LaBeouf will play Branch Rickey’s son who takes over the movie for no reason.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
In Media Res is a weekly online publication about different roles media play in culture; they take up a different theme each week—this week is Mediating Baseball!
Mediating Baseball [October 24-28, 2011]
Monday October 24, 2011 – Elizabeth Rawitsch (University of East Anglia) presents: Melting Pot or Multiculturalism? Mediating Ethnicity in Baseball
Tuesday October 25, 2011 – Pellom McDaniels III (University of Missouri-Kansas City) presents: “I is Unruffable”: Rereading African American Sports Performances as Unique Expressions of Dissent
Wednesday October 26, 2011 – Annie Dell’Aria (City University of New York) presents: Tagging Fans, Tweeting Beards: Major League Baseball, social media, and the body
Thursday October 27, 2011 – Nicholas David Bowman (West Virginia University) presents: Major League Brouhaha: Boosting ratings with bad blood?
Friday October 28, 2011 – Jeremy Groskopf (Georgia State University) presents: “I Found Kong”: Naturalizing the National in Baseball Fiction
Posted: October 26, 2011 at 12:59 PM | 1 comment(s)
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Bill Veeck was known for telling some wonderful tales and so I decided to see if one of his tales was actually true.
Joe Dimaggio had trouble hitting Satchel Paige, partly-I suppose-because Satch made him wait. Satch once committed the ultimate insult of walking a man deliberately to get at Joe, and then getting Joe to pop out. It was DiMaggio’s temperament to be a solid professional, to show no emotion, but you knew that Joe burned inwardly at the gratuitous slap and was hurting to get back at Satch. And so Satch would fiddle around on the mound until he saw he had Joe anxious, then he’d give him the three loop-de-loop windups and have Joe ready to catch the ball in his teeth and spit it out by the time it got the plate. Page 238 Hustler’s Handbook Ivan R. Dee edition
So did Paige ever IBB walk a player to get to Joe and how did Joe do against Paige?
Paige shows up in the major leagues in 1948 and plays for Veeck’s Indians until 1949. He then shows up with Veeck’s Browns in 1951 which is also Joe’s last season. So we have three seasons in which Paige was in the AL and Dimaggio was playing.
In 1948 Paige faces the Yankees 5 times for a total of 7.2 innings. Fortunately we have PBP for all 5 of those games. So did it happen in 1948? Nope. Paige faced Dimaggio twice and got him to fly out and strike out (though Joe did reach base on that strikeout) . The strikeout was to lead off the inning and the flyout did not happen after a walk. In fact he didn’t walk anybody in that game and he only walked one Yankee and that was in a game in which he didn’t face Dimaggio.
In 1949 Paige faced the Yankees 4 times for a total of 9 and a third innings. That year, according to Retrosheet, Paige had no IBB against the Yankees but he did have 3 walks against them. So perhaps one of those was of the unintentional intentional variety. Well, in Satch’s only start against the Yankees Dimaggio did not play and that was the game in which Paige gave up his 3 walks. So we definitely know it didn’t happen this year. Joe was 0-3 against Paige this year with a pop out, fly out, and a strike out. One of the outs had Joe as the leadoff hitter of the inning while the other two outs came after a double play and a flyout.
So all we have left is 1951 and in that year Paige faces the Yankees 3 times for a total of 14 and a third innings. Unfortunately Retrosheet has only PBP for two of the three games against the Yankees that year. Paige does give up 7 walks to the Yankees this year though none of them are recorded as IBB. Perhaps some of them were since it appears Retrosheet has none of his walks recorded as IBB for that year. In Paige’s first start he gives up 5 walks but Dimaggio did not play that day. In their final matchup of the season Dimaggio faces him once and hits into a fielder’s choice. So that just leaves us with the one game in which we only have the boxscore. In that game Paige pitches 4.1 innings and gives up one walk. Unfortunately the other two Browns’ pitchers give up 4 walks so there are a ton of walks to go around. Woodling batted in front of Dimaggio and he did draw a walk. I believe Paige faced him Joe 2 times in that game. So we’ll have to go to the newspapers to find out and the newspapers reveai that Woodling was walked by Pillette in the 4th and not by Paige. Paige walked Joe Collins who subbed for Johnny Mize in the 6th spot while Joe Dimaggio was in the 4th spot. Dimaggio goes 0-2 against Paige in that game and might have struck him out once or twice.
So Joe never faced Paige during the regular season after somebody else had been walked, intentionally or otherwise. Perhaps it happened during spring training. The Yankees held their Spring Training in St. Pete’s during this era except for 1951 when they played in Phoenix. The Indians after WWII moved out to Arizona so it is unlikely that Paige and Dimaggio faced each other when Paige was an Indian. The Browns it appears held their spring training in Burbank, CA in 1951. So it doesn’t appear that his could have happened during spring training.
I’m not sure if they still had exhibition games in the late 40’s and early 50’s or if Veeck heard about some barnstorming game from the 30’s but it appears this part of the story is false.
But on the other hand Dimaggio was 0-8 against Paige so Bill Veeck was very much correct in saying Joe wasn’t very good against Paige.
for his generous support.
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