Left-handed Catcher

Ugly Uniforms But Illegal?

18-inning Shutout

Traded for an Announcer

Last Browns' Game

Nothing But Slow Curves

Score That 1-2-7-6-7

Zeke Steals Home

Steve Bartman: Cub Enemy #1

Even the Greats Lost Money


Baseball Lore – I

Baseball Lore – II

Baseball Lore – IV

Baseball Lore – V

Baseball Lore – VI

Baseball Lore – VII

Baseball Lore – VIII

Baseball Lore – IX

Baseball Lore – X


Baseball Magazine

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Bits of Baseball Lore – III

Left-handed Catcher

Dale Long is best known for hitting HRs in eight straight games (May 19-28) for the Pittsburgh Pirates during the 1956 season.

  • Dale broke the previous mark of six held by five players, the last of whom was Willie Mays.
  • Long's mark has since been tied by Don Mattingly (1987) and Ken Griffey, Jr. (1993).

However, Dale achieved another distinction as a defensive player.

  • Playing for the Cubs in 1958, Long became the first left-handed C since 1905. He did so in two games. In both cases, he shifted from 1B to C in the ninth inning.
  • Chicago manager Bob Scheffing pressed Dale into service as his backstop in the first game of a DH vs his old team, the Pirates, at Wrigley Field on August 20. Long used his first baseman's mitt to catch RHP Don Elston for 1/3 of an inning and lefty Bill Henry for 2/3 in the 4-2 loss.
  • Long again took over the C position on September 21 in a 2-1 loss at The Friendly Confines against the Dodgers (in their first year in Los Angeles). This time he employed a left-handed catcher's mitt to receive Elston's deliveries.

Two other players have since caught left-handed in the big leagues.

  • Mike Squires did so for the Chicago White Sox in two games in 1980.
  • in 1989, Bennie DiStefano caught three southpaw games for the Pirates.

Final note: Dale Long played the 1952 season for the New Orleans Pelicans of the AA Southern Association.

Dale Long, Pirates
Dale Long, Pirates

DaleLong, Cubs
Dale Long, Cubs
Ugly Uniforms But Illegal?

The 1976 Chicago White Sox of new owner Bill Veeck sported some of the most controversial uniforms in MLB history. Taking over a team that finished 75-86 in '75, Veeck applied his famous promotional skills to generate some excitement for the new season.

On March 4, Veeck held one of his famous impromptu press conferences at a pub in Chicago.

  • Rumors had already circulated that the Sox would wear new uniforms. So writers grilled Veeck on that subject.
  • "We are adding elegance to baseball styles," the owner replied. "We may not be the greatest team in baseball, at least not for a few years, but we'll immediately be the most stylish team in the game."
  • Reminded that Charley Finley's Oakland A's had already departed from the traditional white and gray shirts and pants, Bill remarked, "The White Sox are not going to be dressed like a bunch of peacocks. There is a difference between color and elegance ... You will be awed ... Comiskey Park will replace Paris and New York as the fashion center of the World."
  • One questioner asked, "Are you going to have the White Sox wearing shorts ... like the Hollywood Stars used to wear?" Bill: "We don't borrow ideas from anyone. However, I believe safety may rule out shorts ... and panty hose."

Chicago White Sox 1976 Uniforms
1976 White Sox players with owner Bill Veeck

When unveiled, the uniforms were not colorful, just navy and white. But they were different, reminding some of uniforms from the first decade of the 20th century.

When the White Sox visited refurbished Yankee Stadium for the first time in the 1976 season on April 20, New York manager Billy Martin questioned whether the uniforms were entirely legal.

  • Specifically, Billy thought there must be something in the rules against white undershirts, especially if worn by a P.
  • Martin lodged a protest with Umpire Marty Springstead, who agreed with Billy but wasn't sure.
  • Since it was too late to check with the AL office, Springstead ordered Sox P Bart Johnson to remove the white sleeve on his shirt. After the repair was made with a scissors, Johnson continued on the mound. He gave up five Yankee runs in only two innings.
  • Before Clay Carroll relieved in the third, he replaced his white shirt with a blue one.
  • When the Yankees won 5-4, Chicago manager Paul Richards protested the game.
  • AL president Lee MacPhail ruled that the white shirts were acceptable but allowed the outcome of the contest to stand.

The uniforms included one set with shorts.

  • The shorts were worn only once, during the first half of a DH on August 8, 1976, against Kansas City.
  • Royals 1B John Mayberry told his opponents, "You guys are the sweetest team we've seen yet."
  • The Sox won the game 5-2 with four steals (and four skinned knees?).
  • Chicago ditched the uniforms for the second game and never donned them again.
  • The White Sox lost the second game 7-1 and compiled a 24-37 record the rest of the season.
Reference: The Rules and Lore of Baseball, Rich Marazzi | Top of Page



Oakland Athletics 1974 uniform
Oakland A's uniforms

18-inning Shutout

August 17, 1882: In one of the classic games of the 19th century, the Providence Grays defeated the Detroit Wolverines 1-0 in 18 innings in a National League game in Providence.

  • The winning blow was a HR by RF Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn, who is in the Hall of Fame as a pitcher.
  • Both starting pitchers, winner Montgomery Ward (another future Hall of Famer but as a shortstop) and loser Stump Weidman, went the distance.
  • Providence almost won in the 16th when George Wright "hit a liner over Wood's head and out of the horse gate, but Wood went outside, got the ball and fielded Wright out at the plate" (Detroit Free Press).
  • Wright had played for the first "openly professional" team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, in 1869. He is in the HOF as an executive/pioneer. His brother Harry was manager of the Grays who finished second that season to the Chicago White Stockings.
  • Detroit finished sixth in the eight-team league.
  • This game ranked as the longest shutout in ML history until September 1, 1967, when San Francisco blanked Cincinnati 1-0 in 20 innings.
Traded for an Announcer

Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell is the only announcer who ever figured in a baseball trade. In 1948, Ernie was play-by-play man for the Atlanta Crackers of the AA Southern Association. Branch Rickey, General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, needed someone to fill in for his lead announcer, Red Barber (another future Hall of Famer), who was recovering from a perforated ulcer. When Rickey asked Earl Mann, President of the Crackers, about the availability of Harwell, Mann saw the chance to drive a bargain. He would let Harwell go to Brooklyn if Rickey sent Montreal C Cliff Dapper to Atlanta to manage the club. Rickey agreed and the rest is history. Ernie made his MLB debut on August 4 as the Dodgers beat the Cubs at Ebbets Field 5-4.

Harwell moved across town to the New York Giants and was part of the broadcast team with Russ Hodges that called the famous third game of the 1951 playoff won by Bobby Thomson's HR. Harwell eventually became the lead announcer in Baltimore and, in 1960, went to Detroit where he spent the rest of his career calling Tiger games. He was inducted into Cooperstown in 1982. He retired in 2002, although he had been forced out for one year by Tiger management in 1992 in what has been called "the most ridiculed firing in broadcasting history." He was restored the following year after fans refused to embrace the younger announcing team.

Announcer Ernie Harwell
Ernie Harwell
Last Browns' Game

On Sunday, September 27, 1953, the St. Louis Browns played their last game at Sportsman's Park. Unable to compete with the Cardinals despite making Card hero Marty Marion his manager, owner Bill Veeck wanted to move the team. However, he had so alienated the other AL owners that they told him he had to sell the team before they would agree to a move. The team would begin the 1954 season as the Baltimore Orioles.

3,174 gathered for the finale against the Chicago White Sox. This may not seem like much of a crowd for the final game, but it topped the 2,068 that had attended Friday night and Saturday's 1,937. (This brought the total attendance for the entire year to 297,238, which was about one-third of the league average.) The game went into extra innings. When plate umpire Art Passarella called for fresh baseballs, he was told that the supply was exhausted. Facing the possibility of having to call the game, Passarella picked out the least damaged balls that had previously been thrown out during the game. Unfortunately for the home team the game continued, and the White Sox won 2-1 to complete a sweep of the three-game series. The Browns lost their 100th game to finish last (8th), 46.5 games behind the champion Yankees.

Spaceman Bill Lee
Nothing But Slow Curves

Bill "Spaceman" Lee tells this story in his book Baseball Eccentrics. He was pitching for the Red Sox against the White Sox in a driving rain. Lee decided to throw nothing but slow curveballs, figuring that the hitters would have to look up into the rain and blink. After 14 straight slow curves, both managers started yelling at him.

  • Chicago's Chuck Tanner: "You son of a bitch, quit showing up my hitters!"
  • Lee's own manager, Eddie Kasko: "You can't throw that many curveballs in a row!"

The last out of the game was recorded by Bill Melton, who hit a line drive off Lee's chest. He dropped down to pick it up and threw under his arm to first for the out. This left him lying in the soggy infield grass. He got a standing ovation for a complete game win in which he threw nothing but slow curves the last three innings.

Score That 1-2-7-6-7

April 25, 1970: Tigers @ Twins at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington MN. 7th inning. 2 outs. None on.

Tiger pitcher Earl Wilson at bat. Wilson strikes out. However, 3B coach Grover Resigner, noticing that Twin C Paul Ratliff trapped the ball, told Wilson to run to first since Ratliff didn't tag him or throw to first. Instead Ratliff rolled the ball back to mound. (Like Angel C Josh Paul when the White Sox's A.J. Pierzynski struck out in the 2005 AL Championship Series.) Most of the Twins left the field when Wilson starts running. So he races around the bases and turns for home when LF Brant Alyea, on his way to the dugout, retrieves the ball and throws to SS Leo Cardenas at the plate. Wilson puts on the brakes and tries to get back to third but Alyea beats him to the bag and takes Cardenas' peg in time to tag out Wilson. So the play goes 1-2-7-6-7.

Reference: Baseball Digest, August 2007

Zeke Steals Home
White Sox 1B Zeke Bonura
Zeke Bonura

First paragraph of the New York Times article about an August 27, 1935, doubleheader:

The Yankees fought their longest battle of the year today before 15,000 fans at Comiskey Park and lost to the White Sox. In the fifteenth inning of the first game in their second straight double-header here, the slow-footed Zeke Bonura summoned an amazing burst of speed when he caught Jimmy De Shong in the midst of a long wind-up and stole home with the run that won for the Sox, 9 to 8.

The 210-pound Bonura stole all of four bases for Chicago that season (and 19 in his seven years in the bigs). Zeke had established himself as the White Sox first bona-fide HR hitter with a club-record 27 in his rookie season in 1934 and then 21 in 1935. However, his cavalier attitude toward fielding at 1B soured Manager Jimmy Dykes on him, and Zeke was traded to Washington for the 1938 season.

As a 16-year-old student at St. Stanislaus College in Bay St. Louis MS, Zeke had won the 1925 National AAU Championship in the Javelin with a record throw of 65.18 meters. Although his distance record has long been surpassed, he remains the youngest person ever to win an event at the National Track & Field Championship Meet.

30-Day Suspensions

Several players have been suspended for 30 days for their actions on the field (not illegal drug use). Some examples:

  • Bill Dickey of the New York Yankees was quiet off the field but very competitive behind the plate. On July 4, 1932 he broke the jaw of the Senators' Carl Reynolds with one punch after a collision at home plate. William Harridge, AL President, suspended Dickey for 30 days and fined him $1,000. When Dickey returned on August 4, he hit a grand slam and three singles as the Yankees clobbered the Chicago White Sox 15-3.
  • One of Dickey's teammates was suspended ten years later. In the ninth inning of Game 3 of the 1942 World Series, Frank Crosetti, angry at being called out at third by Bill Summers, accosted the umpire and pushed both hands into his stomach. Summers pushed the smaller Yankee right back. Crosetti wasn't ejected because Commissioner Landis had asked umpires to be sensitive to wartime manpower shortages. However, Frank was fined $250 and suspended for the first 30 days of the 1943 season.
  • Crosetti returned to the New York lineup May 21, 1943. Eight days later, Dodgers pitcher Johnny Allen, incensed over a balk call, grabbed umpire George Barr by the shoulders. NL President Ford Frick fined Allen $200 and gave him 30 days off.
Steve Bartman: Cub Enemy #1

Perhaps the most famous incident involving a fan occurred in the 8th inning of Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series. We're talking about Steve Bartman's innocently reaching for a foul ball down the LF line at Wrigley Field and preventing (supposedly) Moises Alou from catching it. Gene Wojciechowski writes about it in the tenth anniversary issue of ESPN the Magazine.

  • "The whole situation was so Cubs." Chicago led Florida 3-2 in games and 3-0 with one out in the eighth. After the foul ball was not caught, the Marlins scored eight runs to win the game. Then the next night, they also took Game 7 on their way to a 4-2 Series upset of the Yankees.
  • "If Alou had just jogged back to his position, Steve Bartman would have sat down and watched the rest of the game," says Paul Rathje, stadium operations director at that time. Instead, Alou stomped his feet and threw his glove like a spoiled brat, and the crowd turned on Bartman.
  • The situation was "so Cubs" because teams with a loser's mentality think "Here we go again" when something goes against them. They start preparing their excuses for losing. Winning teams concentrate on how they'll win despite setbacks.
  • In the Cubs clubhouse, a MLB official wanted to place "NL Champs" T-shirts on each player's chair. However, Cubs marketing director John McDonough, wary from years of disappointment, insisted he keep the boxes sealed until the final out. "It was at that precise moment that it [Bartman's interference] happened," says McDonough. If Cubs fans had only known, they could have placed the blame on the MLB official instead of on their team, which choked yet again.
  • Security first asked Bartman to leave for his own safety but he refused. A few minutes later, a guard returned and insisted he leave. (See the video link below.) They took him to the Security Director's office where they gave him a security guard uniform to wear. Then he walked out the front entrance of the park. Still, a belligerent fan spotted him a few blocks away, prompting his guard to hide him in a nearby apartment building.
  • The next day Bartman issued an apology and disappeared. However, he still lives and works in the Chicago area. He has refused all interviews, book deals, and TV commercial offers.
  • He did sit with 1000s of Cub fans at Ryne Sandberg's Hall of Fame induction in 2005. "I would have like to have met him," Sandberg says. "I would have shaken his hand and thanked him for being a Cubs fan." Sandberg, who attended that fateful Game 6, says he would have reached for the foul ball too.
Even the Greats Lost Money

In the summer of 1929, Henry Greenberg, recent grad of DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, played 1B in the semipro Blackstone Valley League. Paul Krichell, the Yankees' top scout, came to New England to look him over. Krichell liked the tall, strong, but raw youngster so much he offered him a $10,000 bonus to sign with baseball's premiere team. However, as Hank later said, "I had had a look at Lou Gehrig, and said no thank you." Instead, he signed with Detroit for $1,000 less. When the first payment of $6,000 arrived in September, Greenberg's father invested all of it in American Tobacco Company stock. However, the bull market crashed on October 29, wiping out the entire investment. In January, Hank passed up the spring semester at NYU to travel south to the Tigers' training camp at Tampa. He may have paid for the trip with some of the remaining $4,000 of his bonus.

Other baseball participants lost badly in the Great Depression as well.

  • Mickey Cochrane, Philadelphia A's C, lost heavily in the market as did his manager and co-owner, Connie Mack. Cochrane supposedly lost $80,000 more in a Philadelphia bank failure.
  • Another Athletic, OF Al Simmons, forgot to deposit two checks for $3,000 each in a Philadelphia bank. The bank collapsed the next morning.
  • Cincinnati's Harry Heilmann, a four-time AL batting champion with Detroit, had his investments wiped out.
  • Yankees 2B Tony Lazzeri lost everything when a San Francisco bank failed.
  • The collapse of a savings institution wiped out the reserves of the Toledo Mud Hens of the American Association. One Mud Hen, "Bevo" LeBourveau, thought he had himself covered by dividing his $10,000 inheritance among five Toledo banks. However, four of them failed!