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 […]

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


William J. Slocum Award

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.

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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 […]

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San Francisco grounds crew helped the Giants win the pennant in ’62


Maury Wills

They tried and tried again. No matter what National League clubs did, they just couldn’t slow down Maury Wills in 1962. Wills’ Dodgers were in their fifth year in Los Angeles and thirsty for another World Series appearance. Winners of the 1959 Fall Classic, the team finished a disappointing fourth in 1960. They climbed to second place in ’61 and seemed poised for a post-season return in ’62. Wills did his part. The Dodger shortstop was historically great on the bases, swiping 104 bags. To put that into perspective, the last time a National Leaguer stole even half that many was in 1920. No big league team matched Wills’ total in ’62. The Dodger squad had one .300 hitter in batting champ Tommy Davis whose 153 runs batted in led the league. Davis got help from Frank Howard, the only other Dodger to tally 100 RBI. Together they counted on Wills to get aboard and make his way into scoring position. Dodgers and Giants vie for NL supremacy While Wills was on his way to the stolen base record, the Dodgers fought the Giants for the top spot in the NL. Behind Wills, Davis, and the pitching of Cy Young […]

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Vin Scully and high school teammate Larry Miggins shared a magical MLB moment


Vin Scully and Larry Miggins attended the same high school

Scully & MLB’s Miggins played ball together in high school During the second semester of the 1943 school year, Fordham Prep High School baseball teammates Larry Miggins and Vin Scully sat in their school’s auditorium sharing dreams of reaching the big leagues. While Miggins fancied himself as a future Major League player, Scully hoped to become a big league baseball announcer. The two men created a dream scenario that would come true on May 13, 1952 at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field. Miggins tells the story “Vince Scully and I were attending Fordham Prep in 1943,” Miggins wrote in a letter. “At a school assembly he was sitting behind me, grabbed me by the shoulders and said, ‘Larry someday you will be in the big leagues and the first time you hit a home run, I will be the announcer and tell the world about it.’ “Sure enough it happened in 1952. I was with the Cardinals and the first time we played in NY – my home town – Eddie Stanky put me in left field and I hit a home run (my first) off of Preacher Roe and beat him for the first time in two years. Scully had joined […]

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Alan Newman balked in a run before throwing his first big league pitch


CooperstownExpert.com

By Jim Smiley Every big leaguer counts his Major League debut among life’s most memorable moments. That first appearance is the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice. It’s the accomplishment of a dream shared by many and achieved by few. For Tampa Bay Devil Rays pitcher Alan Newman that moment is one he’ll always remember – and one he’d like to forget. A long and winding road to the big leagues Newman grew up less than ten miles from the Angels home park in Anaheim and attended nearby Fullerton College. In 1988 the Minnesota Twins selected Newman in the second round of the draft. The 6’6″ lefty-hander then spent more than a decade bouncing around the minor league organizations of the Twins, Reds, White Sox, Padres, and Devil Rays. Newman finally became a major leaguer with Tampa Bay on May 14th, 1999. A dream come true for the 29-year old reliever, his debut came just minutes away from his childhood home against the Angels, the team he grew up rooting for. Bobby Witt started the game for Tampa, throwing five scoreless innings before surrendering a grand slam to Mo Vaughn in the 6th. Witt came back out in […]

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Jimmie Foxx and Chuck Klein made Philadelphia the center of the baseball universe


Philadelphia sluggers Chuck Klein and Jimmie Foxx

From 1929 through 1933, Jimmie Foxx and Chuck Klein put on a show and treated Philadelphia to the greatest era its baseball fans ever knew. During the five-year run, Klein led the league in homers four times and finished second once. He wasn’t just a slugger. Starting in 1929, Klein reeled off at least 200 hits each year through 1933 to become the only player to reach the mark in each of each of his first five full big league seasons. Incredibly, he averaged 224 hits per year and hit .359. In 1932 the Phillies right fielder captured the National League Most Valuable Player Award. He followed up that season with by winning the Triple Crown in ’33. Klein’s team struggles; Foxx’s shines While Klein put up outstanding individual numbers his Phillies struggled. Under manager Burt Shotton, the Phillies finished last twice and went a combined 113 games below .500. Their only first-division finish came in 1932 when they finished in fourth place, two games above the break-even mark. Predictably, fans didn’t embrace the woeful team. From 1929-1933 the Phillies ranked last in the league in attendance four times, averaging just over a half-million fans per season. Foxx’s Athletics provided […]

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Trade of Ferguson Jenkins was one of the worst in Phillies franchise history


Imagine trading a 23-year old pitcher to your rival only to see him post six straight seasons of at least 20 wins. That’s just what the Philadelphia Phillies did when the shipped Fergie Jenkins to the Chicago Cubs in 1966. By the time his career was over, the 1971 Cy Young Award winner won 284 games and struck out 3,192 batters. In 1991 Jenkins became the first Canadian-born player to reach baseball immortality via induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. In the CooperstownExpert.com collection is the document from the commissioner’s office that made official what many consider the worst trade in Phillies’ franchise history. Enjoy this video then click here to see Fergie’s own thoughts on the trade in a shoutout to this website. Reach Jim Smiley, the author of this story, CooperstownExpert@yahoo.com Be sure to check out CooperstownExpert.com, the internet’s leading website for the display of museum-quality baseball autographs. Check in at our Facebook page.

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Joe DiMaggio’s 1939 October blast left an impression on the baseball lifer who surrendered it


1939 World Series

Pro career starts at age 17 Gene Thompson enjoyed a pro baseball career that spanned parts of eight decades. Signed by the Reds as a 17-year old in 1935, Thompson played until 1950. Two years later at age 35, he embarked on a scouting career that lasted until after his 88th birthday. The highlight of his playing career came in his first year as a Major Leaguer in 1939. Debuting as a 21-year old, Thompson excelled in his role as the Reds swingman, going 13-5 with a 2.54 ERA in 11 starts and 31 relief appearances. Thompson wasn’t the only stellar performer. The Reds got 27 wins from MVP Bucky Walters and a league-leading 128 RBI from first baseman Frank McCormick. Cincinnati won 97 games to earn the National League pennant. Thompson’s Reds face the Yankees in October In the World Series, Cincinnati squared off against Joe McCarthy’s heavily-favored Yankees. After dropping the first two games in New York, the Reds tabbed Thompson to start Game 3 in Cincinnati. A win by the home team would put the Reds back in the thick of things; a loss would put them in a 3-0 hole against the two-time defending champs. In […]

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Harry Caray’s rumored affair with the daughter-in-law of the Cardinals owner helped forge two Hall of Fame Careers


CooperstownExpert.com

Famed announcer Harry Caray was the voice of the Cardinals for a quarter century. Beloved in St. Louis, he was known as a womanizing man-about-town. That penchant for sharing time with beautiful women just may have ended his career with his hometown team and solidified the career of Jack Buck. Did the affair happen? The unsubstantiated rumor – that Carey never denied – is that an affair with August Busch III’s wife led to the announcer’s dismissal. Proof of the affair supposedly came to light after Caray was hit by a car on November 3, 1968 and nearly lost his life. The Busch family phone bill for the month showed many calls to Caray’s hospital room. The charges were traced to Susan Busch, the young wife of August Busch III who was the son of the team owner. The story continues that the Busch family hired a private investigator who confirmed that Mrs. Busch was indeed romantically linked to Caray, who was then in his 50s. Whether the story is true or not, Susan and August Busch III were divorced in 1969, the same year the Cardinals opted not to renew the contract of the immensely popular Caray. Caray’s firing […]

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

~Jacques Barzun, 1954