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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Google Celebrates Jackie Robinson’s 94th Birthday

Google.com is featuring a special Google logo, Google Doodle, for the 94th birthday of Jackie Robinson.

VoodooR Posted: January 31, 2013 at 12:04 PM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: brooklyn dodgers, dodgers, jackie robinson

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   1. Gamingboy Posted: January 31, 2013 at 12:41 PM (#4359046)
Few sportsmen can be said to have made as much a difference as that sportsman did. Happy Birthday, Jackie.
   2. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 31, 2013 at 12:54 PM (#4359056)
Seems like just yesterday I saw him make the last out of the 1956 World Series, the day after he tied the Series with a walkoff hit to end a 1-0 game. Never dreamed I'd never see him in uniform again. It's interesting to note that if you were to compile a list of the ten most influential figures in 20th century baseball history, only two of them---Ruth and Robinson---would have made the list based on their accomplishments as players.
   3. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: January 31, 2013 at 01:41 PM (#4359150)
Birthdays for people who died young are always surprising. Robinson's been dead for 40 years, and yet he'd only be 94 now. That's a birthday a small but not negligible number of people make it to. Marilyn Monroe has been dead for 50 years, and yet she'd only be 85 now. She is three months younger than David Attenborough, who has a new series that just started on PBS, and she's only a couple of months older than Tony Bennett. Dying young really pulls you out of time.
   4. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 31, 2013 at 01:45 PM (#4359157)
James Dean is as old as William Shatner.

JFK is just seven years older than Jimmy Carter or George HW Bush. Bobby Kennedy is a year younger than those two Presidents.

Roberto Clemente is as old as Hank Aaron.
   5. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: January 31, 2013 at 01:48 PM (#4359165)
who are the other eight, andy?
   6. Delorians Posted: January 31, 2013 at 02:06 PM (#4359205)
The other eight?

John McGraw
Keenesaw Mountain Landis
Branch Rickey
Marvin Miller
Bowie Kuhn
Bill Veeck
George Steinbrenner
Bud Selig

This is not my list, but my guess at andy's list. I might include Landis, Rickey, Miller, but the other 5 with Ruth and Robinson would be players.
   7. dr. scott Posted: January 31, 2013 at 02:16 PM (#4359228)
With the google sidebar in all browsers now, Im not sure Ive seen the google homepage in over a year... I bet I'm missing lots of important dates in history these days.
   8. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 31, 2013 at 02:29 PM (#4359250)
That's a pretty good guess, Delorians. Problem is that I made up that list a few years ago and don't have it in front of me. But I think these were the ten, in alphabetical order:

Bill James
Ban Johnson
Kenesaw Mountain Landis
Larry MacPhail
John McGraw
Marvin Miller
Jackie Robinson
Branch Rickey
Babe Ruth
J. G. Taylor Spink

Note that these aren't necessarily the "greatest" this or the "greatest" that, but those who I think had the most long range influence on the game. What irritates me is that Spink's enormous influence in spreading baseball's popularity in the first half of the 20th century has been largely forgotten, to the point where to this day there still isn't any real biography of him.




   9. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 31, 2013 at 02:35 PM (#4359263)
I might include Landis, Rickey, Miller, but the other 5 with Ruth and Robinson would be players.

I should have asked you who those other three players would be. I'd imagine Cobb would be one of them, but after that I'm at a loss to narrow it down to just two, unless you're talking about "greatest" rather than most influential. I can see maybe Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson as an entry, since those two names always came up whenever white ballplayers of their day were asked whether or not they thought that blacks could qualify by talent to play in the Majors. That would make them influential, but more indirectly than directly.
   10. jobu Posted: January 31, 2013 at 02:43 PM (#4359274)
I think you'd have to put someone steroids-related as one of the 10 most influential figures in 20th century baseball history, even if the influence itself was largely in the 21st). McGwire? If you buy the conventional narrative, without McGwire/Sosa, you wouldn't have Big Head Barry and the tainting of the most highly prized record in the sport (among other downstream impacts).
   11. Juan Uribe Marching and Chowder Society Posted: January 31, 2013 at 02:43 PM (#4359275)
I might include Landis, Rickey, Miller, but the other 5 with Ruth and Robinson would be players.


Canseco?
Hideo Nomo?
   12. dlf Posted: January 31, 2013 at 02:45 PM (#4359279)
I think that Peter Seitz would be pretty high on the list of those influencing the game as we see it played today even though his athletic talents were rather week. Of those post-integration, I'm not sure anyone had a greater impact.
   13. phredbird Posted: January 31, 2013 at 02:47 PM (#4359280)
-branch rickey
-miller huggins (managed the cardinals before that other team)
-dizzy dean
-frank frisch
-stan musial
-bob gibson
-ozzie smith
-tony larussa
-ok, jackie robinson
-that fat guy who made the last out in the 1926 world series


what?
   14. Delorians Posted: January 31, 2013 at 02:48 PM (#4359285)
I didn't have any particular players in mind, it just seemed to me that the majority of the guys on the list should be players. Although I'm thinking of 'influential' as being reflected by A COMBINATION OF the statistical record of performance AND effect on the future of the game (specifically areas of change). Whereas a list focusing on the former would be all players, and one focusing on the latter would (like yours) be mostly non-players.
   15. phredbird Posted: January 31, 2013 at 02:48 PM (#4359286)
said it before in threads about jackie robinson -- the part of 'bums' that talks about how he got signed, joined the team, etc., is some of the best baseball reading i've ever enjoyed.
   16. Juan Uribe Marching and Chowder Society Posted: January 31, 2013 at 02:51 PM (#4359298)
some of the best baseball reading i've ever enjoyed.


Give us some examples of the best baseball reading you've never enjoyed.
   17. phredbird Posted: January 31, 2013 at 02:52 PM (#4359300)
hope nobody minds me posting this
   18. phredbird Posted: January 31, 2013 at 02:53 PM (#4359303)
some of the best baseball reading i've ever enjoyed.


Give us some examples of the best baseball reading you've never enjoyed.


hey, you know what i meant. sorry for the bad syntax.
   19. Juan Uribe Marching and Chowder Society Posted: January 31, 2013 at 02:55 PM (#4359308)
hey, you know what i meant. sorry for the bad syntax.


all in good fun. if you had a nickel for every time I used bad syntax, you'd be rich.
   20. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 31, 2013 at 03:00 PM (#4359318)
I didn't have any particular players in mind, it just seemed to me that the majority of the guys on the list should be players. Although I'm thinking of 'influential' as being reflected by A COMBINATION OF the statistical record of performance AND effect on the future of the game (specifically areas of change). Whereas a list focusing on the former would be all players, and one focusing on the latter would (like yours) be mostly non-players.

Yeah, once again it's just a question of definitions and what you're looking for. I just can't think of any players beyond Ruth and Robinson who've had that much permanent impact on the game going forward.

Ty Cobb was incredibly influential in his time, but as soon as Ruth showed up the Cobb brand of baseball quickly faded from the scene.

Curt Flood might have qualified if he'd actually won his case, but Miller was the key figure there in any event.

There are no Latino players with the pioneering impact of Robinson. Clemente's influence only really came after his death, and in retrospect. He wasn't even seen as an A-level future HoFer until the 1971 World Series and the heroic nature of his passing put him on a higher plateau.

I guess you could add Barry Bonds if you want to combine on-the-field greatness with the inadvertent role he played in pushing testing to the forefront. But that's kind of a backhanded method of inclusion.

And beyond those four, all you've got are a bunch of players whose contributions were strictly on-the-field and whose influence was strictly limited to the time of their playing careers. Great as they were, Honus Wagner and Ted Williams didn't have remotely the influence on the future of the game that the ten figures on that list in # 8 did.
   21. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 31, 2013 at 03:05 PM (#4359332)
I think you'd have to put someone steroids-related as one of the 10 most influential figures in 20th century baseball history, even if the influence itself was largely in the 21st). McGwire? If you buy the conventional narrative, without McGwire/Sosa, you wouldn't have Big Head Barry and the tainting of the most highly prized record in the sport (among other downstream impacts).

The only problem with that is that it's hard to assign that influence to any one player. Canseco's accusations and Bonds's BALCO revelations led to Big Mac's meltdown moment, but at this point it's hard even to say for sure that the entire "steroids era" won't be seen as anything more than a footnote to history 50 years from now, let alone to say that this player or that player was the key figure.
   22. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 31, 2013 at 03:08 PM (#4359337)
And Mike Crudale.
   23. Juan Uribe Marching and Chowder Society Posted: January 31, 2013 at 03:12 PM (#4359343)
tainting


Sports is the only area I can think of where something can be arbitrarily designated "pure" and then arbitrarily designated "tainted" and then people argue over the two arbitrary points ad nauseum.
   24. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 31, 2013 at 03:45 PM (#4359376)
Let's see...long-range impact on the game. In rough chronological order:

Ban Johnson
Federal League
Black Sox
Babe Ruth
Branch Rickey
Larry MacPhail
Wendell Smith/Sam Lacy/Lester Rodney (among others)
Bill Veeck
Sidney Volinn
Andy Messersmith/Dave McNally

Ban Johnson not only made the American League a real competitor, but he set the tone, at least in the early days, for making sure that the wealth was evenly distributed so that the AL *could* emerge as a real competitor.

The Federal League was the opening salvo in making baseball players - and management - aware of what could happen in a competitive market. It led directly to baseball's antitrust exemption, which had a huge long-term impact on the game.

The Black Sox scandal blew open what had been a festering sore within baseball for a number of years. If the Black Sox had gotten away with it (and there are a number of historians who believe that on more than one occasion other teams *had* gotten away with what the Black Sox accomplished, notably in 1903 and 1912), it's very possible that baseball would have become so intertwined with gambling that it would have become impossible to tell what was on the up-and-up and what was not. The Black Sox also led to Judge Landis.

Babe Ruth changed the perception of baseball in the public's mind, and in many ways made it marketable to the masses. There were other players, very quickly, who came close to what the Babe was able to accomplish on the field, but no one who combined the on-field performance with the off-field personality.

Branch Rickey: farm system and true father of sabermetrics (hiring and making use of Allan Roth). James made it popular years later, but Rickey made it work. And that's not even talking about desegregation.

Larry MacPhail: night baseball, also for exploiting radio in both Cincinnati and later in New York.

Smith, Lacy, and Rodney were the driving voices that made removal of the color line happen. Yes, it took Rickey to implement it, and WWII gave it a big push, but it doesn't happen when and where it did without the constant reminders from the black and Communist press.

Bill Veeck showed what could happen when you went beyond just throwing open the gates and letting them play. While he wasn't always successful with his marketing techniques, he set the tone for a lot of what we see today.

Sidney Volinn was the judge who ruled that the Seattle Pilots were in fact bankrupt, clearing the way for the team to be sold to Bud Selig and Ed Fitzgerald and moved to Milwaukee. Without that decision, two things probably don't happen: (1) AL expansion in 1977, and (2) Bud Selig as commissioner.

Marvin Miller makes it pretty clear that without *both* Messersmith *and* McNally the Seitz decision doesn't happen. For all Miller's skill, he needed players who were willing to test the system, and it was clear from the outset that had either player caved Miller would have had to wait a while longer for the right circumstances. The players had more to lose than did Miller.

-- MWE
   25. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 31, 2013 at 04:16 PM (#4359399)
Good alternate list, Mike. I was trying to limit mine to specific individuals who had a long-term relationship with the game, which leaves out the Federal League, the Black Sox, and Volinn. I wouldn't cite Volinn for the same reason I wouldn't list Peter Seitz.

It's hard to argue with Smith/Lacy/Rodney, since they were the necessary "outside agitators" who set the stage for Rickey and Robinson. I didn't include them for the simple reason that it would be hard to pick one of them alone, and I wanted to keep the list down to ten.

The one omission from your list that I think you should think about would be Spink, who took over the Avis of sporting papers in 1914 and not only transformed it into Hertz, but effectively made it into the ESPN of an era that spanned the remaining 48 years of his life. Without Spink, there would have been no connective thread to link fans in distant parts of the country to baseball news and statistics 365 days a year, with news that encompassed both the Majors and the minors, both statistical** and narrative. Everyone connected with baseball relied on TSN to keep up with everything going on in an age long before saturation TV coverage, and it wasn't for nothing that TSN was referred to unironically (and on its masthead) as "The Bible of Baseball". During both world wars Spink sent tens of thousands of papers a week to GIs stationed overseas, and for the entire span of his editorship he had multiple correspondents in every city in the Majors and many more in the minors. All this wasn't just a brief phenomenon, either, but rather one that lasted all the way up to his death.

**At one point TSN was publishing every minor league box score for half a dozen or more leagues. They also took over the annual Baseball Guides from Spalding and Reach in 1942, which to this day form the biggest extant collection of minor league statistics. Without those Guides and the other four record books that they published from the 40's through the 80's and beyond, fans from that period would have faced a giant information void that wouldn't have been filled by anyone else. In that respect, they were the Baseball-Reference of their day.

   26. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 31, 2013 at 04:38 PM (#4359433)
Ban Johnson
Federal League
Black Sox
Babe Ruth
Branch Rickey
Larry MacPhail
Wendell Smith/Sam Lacy/Lester Rodney (among others)
Bill Veeck
Sidney Volinn
Andy Messersmith/Dave McNally


I think you would have to add Judge Landis to theis list right after "Black Sox"
   27. BDC Posted: January 31, 2013 at 04:58 PM (#4359466)
Along the lines of "how old/young are they," I noticed that the 100th birthday of Albert Camus will be this coming November. Old enough, but he's been required reading for 70 of those years, and won a Nobel Prize 56 years ago. He was younger than Claude Lévi-Strauss, who died three years ago, or Jacques Barzun, who died a few weeks ago. Hell, Camus was younger than Frenchy Bordagaray.
   28. Moeball Posted: January 31, 2013 at 05:42 PM (#4359512)
I always think of a few certain people and the different ways they impacted the game:

1)Babe Ruth - changed how the game is played
2)Branch Rickey/Jackie Robinson - changed who gets to play the game
3)Marvin Miller/Curt Flood - changed the economics of the game
   29. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 31, 2013 at 06:16 PM (#4359551)
I think you would have to add Judge Landis to theis list right after "Black Sox"


Without the Black Sox there's probably no Judge Landis; I think it's unlikely the the owners would have given into to many of Landis's demands for authority if they hadn't been tarred with the scandal.

Andy, your point about Spink is well taken, but I think you may be underestimating the extent to which local newspapers also fed the desire for baseball news. I'm constantly amazed when I plow through Newspaper Archive at the sheer amount of baseball news that appeared in minor newspapers across the country.

-- MWE
   30. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: January 31, 2013 at 06:23 PM (#4359567)
Mike, wasn't McNally retiring regardless?
I'd still credit Miller over Messersmith as, while Messersmith had more to lose, Miller was the architect.
   31. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 31, 2013 at 06:40 PM (#4359581)
I think you would have to add Judge Landis to theis list right after "Black Sox"


Without the Black Sox there's probably no Judge Landis; I think it's unlikely the the owners would have given into to many of Landis's demands for authority if they hadn't been tarred with the scandal.

True, but Landis was the one who seized the moment and laid down a template for enforced honesty on the diamond that's still with us today. A lesser choice might well have equivocated and ducked behind legalisms.

But then my bottom line is that the Black Sox are a group of players, and I was looking to cite ten individuals. It's a variant of tomato / tomahto, not really a disagreement.

Andy, your point about Spink is well taken, but I think you may be underestimating the extent to which local newspapers also fed the desire for baseball news. I'm constantly amazed when I plow through Newspaper Archive at the sheer amount of baseball news that appeared in minor newspapers across the country.

Again, no argument with that point, but not only did the baseball coverage in Spink's Sporting News far surpass any of those papers (including the major metropolitan papers) in scope---none of those papers printed as many minor league boxscores, or had feature articles on each and every team at least once a week, or kept it up during the offseason to the extent that TSN did, or concentrated exclusively on baseball either all year long or (later) between March and August, or had correspondents from every team in the Majors and from many in the minors---but it also reached into every nook and cranny in the country that had a newsstand and Post Office delivery. Not every small town or rural outpost had a paper that covered baseball to the extent you're talking about, but TSN's distribution range extended to those otherwise neglected areas and plugged in thousands of holes that otherwise would have gone unserved.
   32. AndrewJ Posted: January 31, 2013 at 06:55 PM (#4359600)
Without Spink, there would have been no connective thread to link fans in distant parts of the country to baseball news and statistics 365 days a year, with news that encompassed both the Majors and the minors, both statistical** and narrative. Everyone connected with baseball relied on TSN to keep up with everything going on in an age long before saturation TV coverage, and it wasn't for nothing that TSN was referred to unironically (and on its masthead) as "The Bible of Baseball".

And after Spink's death, TSN went to four-sport coverage, eliminating so much baseball coverage and original research that contributors like Bob Davids and Cliff Kachline were compelled to form SABR in 1971.
   33. Morty Causa Posted: January 31, 2013 at 07:14 PM (#4359620)
Some of these are more symbolic for forces at play that they came to encompass or resolve:

Albert Spalding (exec, not as player--he saved the National League when it had to be saved)
Ban Johnson
Ty Cobb (perfected the existing method of play since the beginning; he was it's signature player; people even continued referring to Ty Cobb type of ball long after it became passe generally--it never went totally out of style)
Babe Ruth (which Cobb-type play Ruth then rendered obsolete)
Spink and the Sporting News
Judge Landis
Branch Rickey (farm system, then integration)
Jackie Robinson
Marvin Miller
Bill James/Pete Palmer (along with a few other pioneers in sabermetrics, but James is the standout figure--the movie star)
   34. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 31, 2013 at 07:44 PM (#4359632)
And after Spink's death, TSN went to four-sport coverage, eliminating so much baseball coverage and original research that contributors like Bob Davids and Cliff Kachline were compelled to form SABR in 1971.

Minor point of correction: Shortly after WWII's end, TSN began an 8-page insert that was variously known as "The Quarterback" and "The All-Sports News". The difference between these and what came after Spink's death in 1962 was that they were strictly supplementary to the baseball coverage, rather than taking up baseball's space, and they ran only from the start of the football season to the end of the NBA playoffs, which then ended in early April.

It's hard to pinpoint any one thing that marked the decline and fall of TSN, but over the years, these major features were dropped: Minor league box scores; cartoon covers by Willard Mullin and other leading illustrators; year-around weekly reports from every team; long narrative writeups that accompanied each Major League box score; and what's hardest to quantify, they stopped running regular feature stories and interviews with old time players. These articles and interviews gave readers a sense of the historical continuity of the game that's available today on a few websites like Hardball Times, and in the SABR publications, and to a (very) limited extent on ESPN and the MLB channel**, but with nowhere near the broad reach that TSN did back then. It's a void that remains to be filled.

**Which at times give you the impression that baseball began with the advent of videotape.
   35. Mom makes botox doctors furious Posted: February 01, 2013 at 07:15 AM (#4359834)
Maury Wills, gotta have Maury Wills - dude re-invented stolen bases as a key in-game component.

Without him, no Bert Campaneris or Lou Brock, and thus no Vince Coleman!

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