NL owners supported the designated hitter in 1928

January 6th, 2018

How times have changed. Today the National League remains one of few leagues above the high school level not to employ the designated hitter rule. The Senior Circuit continues to resist the rule that the AL has embraced for more than four decades. That wasn’t always the case. National League president John Heydler proposed the DH at the Winter Meetings in 1928, referring to it as the “Ten-Man Team Rule”. Heydler’s motivations seem clear; he was looking to capture some of the excitement the homer-happy AL harnessed with the emergence of Babe Ruth. From 1920-1928 the Bambino had seven seasons with 40 or more homers, including four of 50 or more, and one with 60. During the same span Heydler’s league had only two 40-homer seasons with totals of 15, 21, 23, and 27 leading the league. While the NL couldn’t match the AL in star power, Heydler felt keeping hurlers on the hill and out of the batters box might generate more offense. “Pitchers are absolutely useless as batters nowadays,” Heydler was quoted as saying in the Chicago papers. “The average pitcher not only is helpless at bat, but when they happen to get to base they are not […]

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Al Niemiec was a hero to WWII veterans returning to baseball

January 1st, 2018

Al Niemiec

Al Niemiec played in only 78 big league games but made his presence felt with a landmark court case after the conclusion of World War II. Niemiec sued baseball and earned a win that sent ripples throughout the game. It is through the lens of the game that his impact is best understood. Niemiec played in 199 minor league contests before getting a September call up to the Red Sox for nine games in 1934. He spent the next year back in the bushes before being traded to the Athletics in a package that sent Hall of Fame slugger Jimmie Foxx to Boston. Though Niemiec spent the entire season with Philadelphia, it would be his last as a big leaguer. By 1938 Niemiec moved to the Pacific Coast League for a five-year run that included three consecutive championships with the Seattle Rainers from 1939-1941. The ’41 season was a good one for Niemiec who hit .297 while leading second basemen in fielding for the third straight season. For his efforts, he was named the PCL’s outstanding player at his position. At the end of the following season Niemiec was called to serve in the navy where he remained until his honorable discharge in January of 1946. When retired Lieutenant […]

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Inducted into Cooperstown’s Honor Rolls of Baseball in 1946, Bill Carrigan managed Boston to back-to-back World Series titles

August 2nd, 2017

Every summer the baseball world pauses and takes notice as Hall of Fame induction weekend puts the village of Cooperstown on display. Players, managers, executives, owners, and umpires who are deemed worthy receive a plaque and along with it, baseball immortality. The election process during the Hall’s infancy bears little resemblance to today. For the first decade of induction, Cooperstown recognized only its players with the exception of pioneer Henry Chadwick. Wanting to recognize non-playing personnel, the Hall established the Honor Rolls of Baseball in 1946 as a second level of induction. That year the museum’s Permanent Committee voted to include 39 non-players into the Honor Rolls including 11 umpires, 11 executives, 12 sportswriters, and 5 managers. Of the five skippers, four have since gained full induction with plaques in Cooperstown. The lone manager not so recognized is former Red Sox pilot Bill Carrigan. Born in Maine in 1883, Carrigan broke in with Boston in 1906 as a backup catcher. In time he became a favorite of the pitching staff, catching the likes of Cy Young, Bill Dinneen and a young Babe Ruth for the Red Sox. Soon Carrigan was one of the game’s most respected players, earning votes in Most Valuable […]

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There was no champagne for Red Sox, Lonborg in ‘67

July 20th, 2017

World Series championships are won on the field, not in the newspapers, but the press might have given the Cardinals extra motivation in their epic seven-game battle against the Red Sox in 1967. Boston had to grind it out just to get to the post season. The battle for supremacy in the American League came down to the last day of the regular season with Boston clinging to a half-game lead over Detroit. The Tigers had a double header at home against the Angels while the Red Sox played the Twins at Fenway Park. Boston turned to ace Jim Lonborg for the regular season finale. The 1967 Cy Young Award winner, Gentleman Jim responded with a gutty performance on three days rest going the distance and allowing only one earned run before the sellout crowd at Fenway. The October 1st contest was his 15th complete game of the season. The Tigers, needing a sweep of California won the first game 6-4 but couldn’t contain the Angels in the 8-5 loss in the second game of the twin bill. With the Detroit loss, Boston earned a berth to the World Series against the National Champion St. Louis Cardinals. On only two […]

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Lifetime passes were the brainchild of NL President Ford Frick; here’s a pictorial history

June 18th, 2016

A newspaper man turned league publicist turned league president came up with a brilliant idea in 1934 — reward longtime National League players with a lifetime pass to all NL games. Senior Circuit owners approved Ford Frick’s proposal at the league meeting in December of ’34. A few months later, Frick sent out ornately decorated paper Lifetime Passes to the NL’s greatest players. He even sent one to Babe Ruth who appeared in all of 28 games for the Boston Braves in 1935. A 21-year veteran of the American League, the Babe was grateful if not surprised when he remarked, “At least the National League has a heart”. An image of the original paper pass presented to Hall of Fame outfielder Sliding Billy Hamilton can be seen below. Perhaps shamed by Ruth’s remarks, the American League joined forces in 1936 to issue a pass to all Major League contests. Players with twenty or more years of service received a solid gold pass. Seventeen men qualified for the true “golden ticket” — Ruth, Fred Clarke, Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, Bill Dahlen, Harry Davis, Red Faber, Walter Johnson, Sam Jones, Nap Lajoie, Rabbit Maranville, Herb Pennock, Eppa Rixey, Tris Speaker, Honus Wagner, Bobby […]

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Jackie Robinson inspired future MLB player Ed Charles

June 15th, 2016

Jackie Robinson once said, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” By that measurement, Robinson’s life may be the most important the game of baseball has ever known. Though it’s easy to see the cultural impact of Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier, the individual stories sometimes get lost in the bigger picture. For former Major Leaguer Ed Charles, Robinson emergence was a turning point, not only for the United States, but perhaps more importantly, for an entire segment of its population. “The emergence of Mr. Jackie Robinson as the first black to play modern day organized baseball had a monumental impact upon my life, and I’m sure, the lives of other Americans as well,” Charles wrote in a letter 1984. An eight-year big league veteran, Charles was aware of Robinson at an early age. Charles believed that Robinson’s impact was felt by the nation and its individuals. “Jackie represented to me, given the social climate of the nation at that time, hope, courage, and a new faith in a system that had been grossly neglectful of providing equal participation for its minority citizens,” Charles wrote. “His presence stirred me, as well as others, to redirect our goals […]

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Memories of Cal Ripken Jr. breaking Lou Gehrig’s unbreakable consecutive games mark from people who were there

February 5th, 2016

Andrew McKay of Yahoo Sports wrote a terrific article titled, September 6, 1995: The inside story of the night Cal Ripken saved baseball. In it, McKay recalls the bad shape baseball was in; the pervious season saw the cancellation of the World Series because of a players’ strike. Attendance was down 23% and the mood of the fans was grim. In the collection are questionnaires from players and and umpires who were there the night Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s unbreakable record. Also shown are Ripken autographs and a lineup card from the streak with the signature of Triple Crown winner and Hall of Famer Frank Robinson. Some see the ceremony surrounding Ripken’s streak as a savior for the game itself. For more on McKay’s story, click here.

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Many call it the greatest draft in the history of pro sports

August 20th, 2015

In 1968, the Dodgers drafted nine players who would go on to play a total of 148 seasons in the Major Leagues, appear in 23 All Star games, total over 11,000 hits, and club more than 1,100 home runs. The two pitchers from the draft tallied 305 big league wins. Add in six Gold Glove Awards, a batting championship, an All Star MVP award, a regular-season MVP award, a World Series MVP award, and the N.L. record holder for consecutive games played, and it’s easy to see why many believe it’s the greatest draft by any team in the history of professional sports. “The draft of 1968 was historical,” said Ron Cey, one of the players drafted that year. “97% of the cream of the crop each year is supposed to fail. That draft might be the best draft in history with a bunch of guys who played 15 years or so, Bobby Valentine, Billy Buckner, Davey Lopes, Tom Paciorek, Doyle Alexander, Steve Garvey, Joe Ferguson, myself. That’s a lot of guys right there.” Cey failed to include 111-game winner, Geoff Zahn, a Dodger teammate for three seasons. The selection of those players laid the foundation for continued excellence in Los […]

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ESPN profiles the collection of CooperstownExpert.com

April 8th, 2015

ESPN calls the CooperstownExpert collection, “One of the most comprehensive Hall of Fame collections outside of Coopertown. The collection is home to autographs of all but three MLB Hall of Famers who debuted since 1900. This site is dedicated to the display and explanation of the collection.   CooperstownExpert.com is not solely about autographs. Make your way to the Babe Ruth player page and read first-hand accounts of the “Called Shot” in the 1932 World Series, click on the Stunning Stories category on the home page and find the post on Barry Bonds. There’s something for everyone.   In the video above, ESPN interviews lifelong collector Jim Smiley. Jim and his collection have been profiled on the internet, radio, television, podcasts, and newspapers coast to coast. We hope you enjoy your time spend at CooperstownExpert.com.

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Judgment of Steroid Era comes every year at Hall of Fame

June 18th, 2014

(Editors’ note: Mike Piazza was inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 24, 2016.) Can the game’s story be complete without a plaque of the baseball’s all-time home run leader? Doesn’t the man with the most Cy Young Awards deserve induction? How about the catcher with the most career homers? All have been on the ballot, yet none is enshrined. The allegations pointed toward Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are well-documented. The case for Mike Piazza remains less clear. Certainly his numbers are certainly Cooperstown-worthy. Amassed in any other era, his 427 homers and .308 lifetime average would be enough to garner the catcher a bronze plaque. Piazza’s six seasons with at least 100 runs batted in, 12 all-star appearances, and ten Silver Slugger awards certainly seem Cooperstown-worthy. In today’s Hall of Fame voting process, however, numbers aren’t enough. That’s where hypocrisy begins to creep in. During the steroid era, the Baseball Writers concerned themselves only with on-field performance. Seven times they voted prickly Barry Bonds the MVP; seven times they cast enough votes for Roger Clemens to receive the Cy Young Award. No one cared then that the players’ statistics might have been aided by performance enhancing drugs. When those same two players were on the Hall of Fame […]

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"Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball…"

~Jacques Barzun, 1954