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Friday, June 26, 2020

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 6-26-2020

New York Tribune, June 26, 1920:

Chalk up two more for Mr. George Herman Ruth, home run king and slugger extraordinary. The “Babe” injected to prodigious circuit clouts into the pastime at the Polo Grounds yesterday afternoon and thereby increased his total for the season to twenty-two. Only eight more to break his own record, and the campaign is still in its infancy!

It’s still early in the season, but I think the conversion from pitcher to two-way player, and now to full-time outfielder has gone fairly well.

Also in the news 100 years ago today, the people of St. Anthony, Idaho are excited that Chick Gandil has accepted $10,000 to manage their team in the Yellowstone-Snake River League, and the American League is considering measures to prevent practical jokers from “making future public presentations at the ball park of such things as brown derbies.” Apparently this was a thing people did for fun, and I don’t get it. A cursory Googling turns up a bunch of stuff about the Brown Derby restaurant and not much about the hilarity of giving someone a hat. Anyone have any idea what the joke is here?

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: June 26, 2020 at 10:24 AM | 8 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: babe ruth, dugout, history

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   1. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: June 26, 2020 at 10:25 AM (#5959605)
Today's Birthday Team has an impressive collection of position players, which is useful because the pitching staff consists of one good starter, a LOOGY, and not much else.

C: Jason Kendall (41.7 WAR)
1B: Bill Robinson (7.6 WAR)
2B: The Other Luis Gonzalez (0.3 WAR)
3B: Debs Garms (11.3 WAR)
SS: Derek Jeter (71.3 WAR)
LF: Topsy Hartsel (31.2 WAR)
CF: Willard Brown (-0.6 WAR, Negro Leagues Legend in the Baseball Hall of Fame)
RF: Babe Herman (39.3 WAR)

SP: Howie Pollet (34.3 WAR)
SP: Elmer Ponder (2.6 WAR)
SP: Henry Schmidt (2.3 WAR)
SP: Jim Henry (1.4 WAR)
SP: Austin Voth (1.1 WAR)
RP: Mike Myers (8.1 WAR)

Drafted by the Rockies, chose another profession, became a violent felon: Michael Vick
Played well in several exhibition games: Babe Didrikson Zaharias
   2. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 26, 2020 at 04:25 PM (#5959713)
Debs Garms won the NL batting title in 1940 as a part-time player for the Pirates. He started 63 games at third, 11 games in left and 6 games in right, racking up just 358 ABs, but the rules of the time made you eligible if you played in 100 games, and Garms slipped over the line with 103 games. He struck out just six times all year, which I have to believe is the record for a batting champion.

He was named after socialist firebrand Eugene Debs.
   3. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: June 26, 2020 at 04:40 PM (#5959717)
I felt certain Joe Sewell would have won a batting title with fewer than six strikeouts, but the closest he came to a batting championship was 1923, when he hit .353 but struck out an astronomical twelve times. Sewell played in every game in 1925, hit .336, and struck out four times.

But no batting titles.
   4. vortex of dissipation Posted: June 26, 2020 at 04:58 PM (#5959725)
Debs Garms won the NL batting title in 1940 as a part-time player for the Pirates. He started 63 games at third, 11 games in left alead. nd 6 games in right, racking up just 358 ABs, but the rules of the time made you eligible if you played in 100 games, and Garms slipped over the line with 103 games. He struck out just six times all year, which I have to believe is the record for a batting champion.


His SABR bio notes that, "That Garms was a starter is at odds with the current perspective that he was just a part-time player during the 1940 season, a perspective that disregards the fact that after having worked his way into the Bees’ lineup in 1938, he played virtually full time. Garms limited playing time in 1940 came about, not because of managerial discretion, but because of a knee injury he suffered in Boston in early May, an injury that for the most part kept him out of the lineup for the better part of two months."

A couple of notes about that championship. Garms hit .355, but the second place finisher, Ernie Lombardi. hit .319, so Garms had a huge lead. But Garms finished the season in an 0-23 slump - he was hitting .379 before that, which was about a sixty point lead. Secondly, none of the top three NL hitters that year cleared 400 AB. You have to go down to Stan Hack in fourth place to find someone who would qualify under current rules. Back then, the rules about who would qualify for a batting championship weren't as well defined. The AL had a 400 AB rule, but the NL didn't. NL President Ford Frick made the ruling that 100 games played would be the cut-off, but he only decided that on September 19. To quote the SABR bio again, Bill Brandt, spokesperson for Frick, said that although there were no rules governing qualifications, “he thought 100 games would be a sufficient prerequisite for the championship.”
   5. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 26, 2020 at 05:25 PM (#5959734)
"That Garms was a starter is at odds with the current perspective that he was just a part-time player during the 1940 season, a perspective that disregards the fact that after having worked his way into the Bees’ lineup in 1938, he played virtually full time. Garms limited playing time in 1940 came about, not because of managerial discretion, but because of a knee injury he suffered in Boston in early May, an injury that for the most part kept him out of the lineup for the better part of two months."


I don't know when exactly this supposed knee injury happened, since the Pirates didn't play in Boston at all until after Garms left the lineup in mid-May. He had been a mostly regular corner outfielder for the first month of the season, then missed a couple of weeks between May 13 and June 1. He started playing again on June 2, but Pittsburgh manager Frankie Frisch used Garms almost exclusively as a pinch hitter, with just two starts in the outfield, until July 20. On July 20 he became the Pirates' regular third baseman, and started at third nearly every game the rest of the way.

And it was when he started playing every day at third that his hitting took off: He hit .367 from there on out. So when the morning of July 20 dawned, Garms had 72 at bats on the season, and was hitting a nice but hardly otherworldly .306. And he went on to win the batting title.
   6. Itchy Row Posted: June 26, 2020 at 06:28 PM (#5959753)
bb-ref says Willie Keeler had 5 strikeouts in 1897 and 4 in 1898 and he won the batting title both years. He had 2 strikeouts in 1899 but finished 4th with a .379 average. I don't know if records are incomplete for those years.

I think the fewest K's by a batting title winner since Garms was Ernie Lombardi with 12 in 1942. The fewest this century is 41 by Jose Reyes in 2011 and Barry Bonds in 2004. Maybe there will be a new record in a 60-game season.
   7. vortex of dissipation Posted: June 26, 2020 at 06:37 PM (#5959755)
...the American League is considering measures to prevent practical jokers from “making future public presentations at the ball park of such things as brown derbies.” Apparently this was a thing people did for fun, and I don’t get it. A cursory Googling turns up a bunch of stuff about the Brown Derby restaurant and not much about the hilarity of giving someone a hat. Anyone have any idea what the joke is here?


It specifically refers to a gift given to Babe Ruth earlier that season. Apparently the American League didn't approve.

"The Yankees opened the 1920 championship season against the Athletics at Philadelphia. Ruth made a fielding error which lost the game. Before the next day’s game a body of Philadelphians marched to home plate with a gift for him – a boxed brown derby of the low-crowned style of the turn of the century, a stock symbol of the German dialect comedian. In baseball slang of the day, ‘to win the brown derby’ was to make an important misplay. Ruth accepted the hat with good humor and posed in it for photographers.”

- from “The Life that Ruth Built: A Biography”, by Marshall Smelser
   8. Walt Davis Posted: June 26, 2020 at 06:47 PM (#5959757)
Debs Garns was born in Bangs. That's poetry.

Possibly limited to PH with a bum knee. You're right it seems unlikely he was hurt in Boston as his last game was the 12th but the Pirates played games on the 14th and 15th then not again until the 18th for a single game in Boston. (Maybe it was pouring rain that week on the East Coast, otherwise that was a very weird schedule.) I don't know why they'd have given him two days off but it's possible he hurt himself pre-game in Boston. Perhaps more likely, he got an owie in Chicago, they gave him a couple of days off hoping it would clear up and then officially put him on the injured list (or whatever they had in those days) when they got to Boston or just after.

Looking at the box scores, he played the whole game on the 11th but only PH on the 12th. (Maurice van Robeys took his spot on the 12th ... that's a name I never heard). van Robeys, who was hitting well over 300 at the time, got the two starts in NY as well. In the first game, the Pirates didn't need a PH but on the 15th, two guys PH so it's a reasonable guess Garns was already hurt. So my best guess to reconcile the two historical accounts would be that he wasn't "officially" declared injured (or told to the press he would be missing a few weeks) until just before or after the Boston game and that got taken as "injured in Boston" decades later.

Now, Mr Van Robays ... played for the Pirates from 39-43, I assume went off to war, played again in 46. There is no SABR bio but b-r does list his nickname as "Bomber" though whether that pre-dated the war I have no idea. A 100 OPS style bat, had a big partial year in 43 and two terrible partial years in 43 and 46. Career 1.8 WAR, -5.3 WAA. He was very much a regular in 1940 with over 600 PA. He'd been in and out of the lineup but once put in the lineup on May 12, he played in every game except the 2nd game of a DH in July and the 1st game of a DH in Sept. So the Pirates must have been pretty high on him so possibly Gans just lost his job then got hurt pre-game in Boston.

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