A white elephant? The Athletics turned an insult into a a team logo in 1902


Connie Mack White Elephant

Today the Oakland Athletics sport a white elephant on their uniform. They also use the pale pachyderm in sales and marketing.

What is the link between the A’s and a white elephant?

It all began because of a feud at the dawn of a new century during the inception of the American League.

John McGraw, Ban Johnson, and Connie Mack – Cooperstown men all – were at the center of the battle. What could’ve been a debacle is today an enduring part of baseball history.

America’s National Pastime has a long and glorious history separates it from every other North American sport.

Enjoy the article that links three baseball titans to the present day.

You gotta love baseball!

Read More >

Buddy Lewis was on his way to Cooperstown before World War II


Buddy Lewis

Buddy Lewis broke into the big leagues at age 19, was a regular by age 20, and an All Star by age 21.

When the infielder recorded his 1,000th career hit on June 4, 1941 he was just 24 years old.

Only four players in major league history reached the 1,000-hit plateau at a younger age. All are in the Hall of Fame – Ty Cobb, Mel Ott, Al Kaline, and Freddie Lindstrom – are in the Hall of Fame.

The Senators third baseman was one of baseball rising young stars. Lewis was on the path to Cooperstown.

Then everything changed.

Lewis enlisted into the army to fight in World War II. Flying a C-47 that he named “The Old Fox” in honor of Senators owner Clark Griffith, Lewis survived more than 350 missions.

When he returned to the game after a 3 1/2 year absence, he was a different man and a different player.

With all that he saw during the war, baseball took on less significance.

Though he had some success, Lewis was out of baseball by age 34.

Once a man on the path to Cooperstown, Lewis answered the call to serve his country.

This is the story of Senators great and World War II hero Buddy Lewis.

Read More >

Tony Conigliaro was on the path to greatness before beaning


Tony C

Tony C finds success early Tony Conigliaro made his big league debut in 1964 at the tender age of 19. The first pitch the Red Sox rookie saw in front of the Fenway faithful he hit over the Green Monster for a homer. During his time as a teenager the Massachusetts native slugged 24 homers – the most by any player before his 20th birthday. Conigliaro followed up that performance by swatting a league-leading 32 homers in ’65. At just 20 years old, the right-hander remains Major League Baseball’s youngest home run champion. Tony C had another fine year in ’66. He finished in the top ten among AL batters in triples, homers, total bases, RBI, and OPS. Finally old enough to drink, Conigliaro was on his way to becoming a superstar. The first half of 1967 was more of the same. Selected as the starting right fielder in the All Star game, Conigliaro had the world on a string. Twelve days after the Mid Summer Classic he hit his 100th career homer – the youngest player in American League history to reach the plateau. Then on August 18th, everything changed. The beaning changes everything In the bottom of the […]

Read More >

Military service in WWI deprived Sam Rice of the 13 hits he needed for 3,000


Sam Rice Washington Senators

The historical marker near Sam Rice’s hometown of Morocco, Indiana reads, “Drafted into the Army in WWI. Rice missed most of the 1918 season. He helped Washington win American League pennants in 1924, 1925, and 1933, and a World Series title in 1924. Over 20 seasons he was often among league leaders in hits and steals. He played his last year in 1934 with the Cleveland Indians, finishing with a career .322 batting average and 2,877 hits.”

Rice remains largely forgotten today.

The Washington Senators became the Minnesota Twins. Today no team or fan base embraces Rice. He finished just 13 hits shy of the 3,000-hit milestone.

Sam Rice is one of baseball’s forgotten stars.

Read More >

Steve Carlton’s 1972 season was one of the best since the Deadball Era


Warren Giles gives the Cy Young to Steve Carlton

Steve Carlton’s 1972 season is one of the greatest performances by a pitcher in the last 100 years. The National League Cy Young Award winner, Carlton went 27-10 for a last-place Phillies team that finished 37 1/2 games out of first place.

Any way you measure it, Lefty’s season was one of the ages.

Carlton won the National League’s pitching Triple Crown by leading the Senior Circuit in wins, ERA and strikeouts. He completed 30 of his 41 starts.

SABRmetrics are predictably kind to Carlton’s season. He posted the highest single-season WAR by a pitcher since Walter Johnson in 1913. Lefty also led the majors in ERA+ and fielding-independent pitching.

Many feel his 1972 performance is vastly underappreciated.

It’s plain to see, the career year for one of baseball’s best pitchers was one of the ages.

Read More >

Vic Wertz did much more than fly out to Willie Mays in the ’54 World Series


Willie Mays catch

World Series heroics in a losing cause Vic Wertz played over 1,000 big league games by the time he reached his only World Series in 1954. Once he got to baseball’s biggest stage he was sensational. In Game 1 Wertz opened the scoring with a two-run triple to deep right. In his next two at bats, Wertz hit sharp singles. Then in the 8th inning and the score tied 2-2, Wertz came to bat with two runners on. The first baseman ripped a line drive to deep centerfield in New York’s cavernous Polo Grounds. Giants center fielder Willie Mays turned his back to the plate and sprinted toward the wall. Mays caught up to it and made a spectacular over-the-shoulder grab 450 feet from the plate. “The Catch” brought the 52,751 fans in attendance to their feet. The Giants won the game 5-2 in ten innings. Though his Indians were swept in the Series, Wertz went 8-for-16 with four extra-base hits. For Mays the Game 1 play was another memorable moment in a career filled with them. With 660 homers, 24 all star appearances, 12 straight Gold Gloves and four consecutive MVP Awards, he is regarded by many as the […]

Read More >

Tommy Bond was one of the best pitchers in the early days of baseball


Tommy Bond

Tommy Bond was one of the greatest pitchers at the start of professional baseball. Many believe he belongs in Cooperstown.
His 2.14 career ERA is bested by only 6 Hall of Fame Hurlers.
He had six seasons of 20 or more wins, four seasons of 30 or more wins, and three seasons of 40 or more.
Some criticize the brevity of his 10-year career but his 3,628 2/3 innings remains 60th all time.
His case is now in the hands of the Veterans Committee.

Read More >

Living on America’s frontier cost Deadball Era star Charles “Deacon” Phillippe a chance at Cooperstown


Pitcher Deacon Phillippe

A career worthy of Cooperstown review Deadball Era star Charles “Deacon” Phillippe pitched in more than 450 professional games in a career that almost never happened. Born less than a decade after the end of the US Civil War, Phillippe grew up on the outskirts of the American frontier, beyond the reach of pro baseball. His big league talent undiscovered, Phillippe had to wait until just before his 27th birthday to throw his first pitch in the majors. Once he reached baseball’s highest level, Phillippe made an immediate impact, topping the 20-win plateau in each of his first five seasons. A control artist, Phillippe’s career walk-per-nine-innings rate is the lowest since the pitching distance moved to 60’6″. Phillippe’s glove work was also top-tier. His career fielding percentage was 23 points above the league average. As a hitter, he topped the .200 mark 8 of his 13 seasons. In 1910 the 39-year old Phillippe became the first pitcher to hit an inside-the-park grand slam. More than a century later Mel Stottlemeyre is the only moundsman to match the feat. The forgotten Deadball Era star also has an impressive postseason pedigree. The winner of baseball’s first World Series game, his performance in […]

Read More >

The William J. Slocum Award is one of MLB’s most prestigious honors


Vin Scully was presented the prestigious Slocum Award in 1995

The oldest professional sport in the United States, baseball remains America’s National Pastime to this day. The game’s current leagues were flourishing soon after the end of the 1800s. Every city with a team had multiple newspapers reporting their games. Sportswriters worked from stadium press boxes describing their team’s contests in great detail. The widespread news coverage helped grow the game.
In 1908 writers banded together to form the Baseball Writers Association of America. The BBWAA’s founding mission was to “ensure professional working conditions for beat writers at all MLB ballparks and to promote uniformity of scoring methods.
Early in the 1900s New York City boasted three big league teams, the Giants and Dodgers of the National League, and the Highlanders – who later became the Yankees – in the American League. The Big Apple soon became the hub of the baseball world.
One of the writers who covered the New York teams was William J. Slocum. Respected for his baseball knowledge and writing ability, Slocum quickly rose to the top of his profession. Well-liked, he helped organize the New York chapter of the BBWAA.
The Bill Slocom Award is one of the most prestigious awards baseball has to offer. The little-known honor has been given to more than 50 members of the Hall of Fame.

Read More >

Baseball’s rule change kept pitcher Gus Weyhing from reaching Cooperstown


Pitcher Gus Weyhing

One of the best hurlers of the 1880s. When pitcher Gus Weyhing began playing professionally in 1887, baseball was a different game than the one we know today. According to the Major League Baseball’s Official Historian John Thorn, the pitching distance was 4 feet, 3–1/2 inches shorter than that of today. Fielders didn’t wear gloves. Playing under those circumstances for the first half of his career, Weyhing was dominant. In his rookie year he won 26 games. Gus was just getting started. Following a 28-win sophomore campaign in 1888, the man they called Rubber-Winged Gus then reeled off four straight 30-win seasons. From 1887 to 1893, Weyhing was consistently among the league leaders in wins, strikeouts, and shutouts. While throwing from the shorter distance, Weyhing was a star swing-and-miss hurler. By the end of his age-26 season Weyhing had 200 career wins. His numbers through his first seven seasons compare favorably to many Hall of Fame hurlers. Everything changed in 1893 Then everything changed. In March 1893, the National League voted to increase the pitching distance to the familiar modern mark of 60’6″. Though Weyhing managed 23 wins in his first year at the new distance, his path to greatness […]

Read More >

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

~Jacques Barzun, 1954