What Year Did That Happen?

What year did Bob Feller hurl his opening-day no-hitter?

What year did Bob Feller hurl his opening-day no-hitter?

By Glen Sparks

The idea behind this quiz is simple. I provide an episode in baseball history. You just need to provide the year that it happened. Bonus points if you guess the correct month and day. The answers are at the bottom. Good luck

  1. Kansas City A’s shortstop Bert Campaneris plays all nine positions in a game against the California Angels at K.C.’s Municipal Stadium

2. While chasing a fly ball at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C., Babe Ruth runs into a wall of concrete and knocks himself out cold.

3. St. Louis Cardinals great Stan Musial mashes five home runs and adds a single during a doubleheader against the New York Giants at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis. Stan the Man drives in nine runs.

4. In one of baseball’s greatest tragedies, New York Yankees pitcher Carl Mays throws a pitch at the Polo Grounds that hits Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman in the head. Chapman later dies from his injuries.

5. The San Francisco Giants belt five home runs and score 12 runs in the ninth inning to pummel the Cincinnati Reds, 14-0, at Crosley Field.

6. Cleveland Indians ace Bob Feller tosses an opening-day no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park.

7. The New York Giants’ Rube Marquard beats Babe Adams and the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-1 in a 21-inning game at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. Both pitchers go the distance.

8. Dodger Stadium Pirates slugger Willie Stargell hits a ball that clears Dodger Stadium. He is the first player to do that.

9. Willie Mays hits career home run No. 500 at Houston’s Astrodome.

10. Wrigley Field/Fenway Park Brothers Cubs pitchers Rick Reuschel and Paul Reuschel combine to throw a shutout at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.

 

1965 (Sept. 8)

1924 (July 5)

1954 (May 2)

1920 (Aug. 16)

1961 (Aug. 23)

1940 (April 16)

1914 (July 17)

1969 (Aug. 6) … He does it again on May 8, 1973

1965 (Sept. 13)

1975 (Aug. 21)

Faszholz Soared High with the Red Wings

Jack Faszholz

Jack Faszholz

By Glen Sparks

Jack Faszholz enjoyed just a simple cup of coffee, as the expression goes, in the major leagues. He pitched in four games and 11 2/3 innings for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1953. The right-hander started one game and relieved in three others.

His entire professional baseball career, though, lasted from 1944 through 1956. Faszholz spent much of that time with the Rochester Red Wings of the International League. He won 80 games as a Red Wing, more than anyone before or since. All told, Faszholz won 128 professional games, all in the minors. He went 0-0 with a 6.94 during his short tenure with the Cardinals. He did, however, strike out a young Mickey Mantle during spring training in 1955.

Born April 11, 1927, in St. Louis, Faszholz primarily grew up in Seattle and Berkeley, Calif. He starred on the local sandlots and was signed by the Boston Red Sox as a high school junior in 1944. The Cardinals drafted him in 1949.

During the offseason, Faszholz attended classes at the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod seminary in St. Louis. Not surprisingly, writers and teammates began calling him the Preacher. Fellow players also learned of Faszholz’ religious studies. With that in mind, here is an excerpt from my bio on Faszholz, recently published by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR):

His fastball was rarely blazing. “I think some people surmised that I was getting some help from above,” he says. Red Wings manager Harry “The Hat” Walker, maybe with a sense of superstition, liked to pitch Faszholz on the Sabbath. He reasoned, Faszholz said, “You can’t beat the Preacher on Sundays.”

The Montreal Royals, Brooklyn’s top farm team, couldn’t defeat Faszholz on Sunday or almost any other day in 1954. Faszholz said he prevailed against the Royals five or six times that season. He recalled one particular at-bat that thoroughly frustrated International League slugger Glenn “Rocky” Nelson.

The left-handed hitter walked to the plate late in one game with Montreal trailing. Faszholz got behind in the count and didn’t want to surrender a walk. He grooved a pitch to Nelson, who hit a sharp liner to Red Wings first baseman Tom Alston. The hot shot ricocheted off the top of Alston’s glove and right into the glove of second baseman Lou Ortiz for an out. Moments later, Faszholz heard a ruckus coming from the Montreal dugout. Bats were flying, profanity filled the air. Suddenly, Nelson yelled out toward Faszholz, “You’re sure making a believer out of me.”

Following his retirement as a player, Faszholz and his family moved to St. Louis. Jack served several years as baseball coach and athletic director at Lutheran South High School. Later, he worked in similar roles at Concordia University Texas in Austin. Now 89 years old, Faszholz remains a faithful member of Salem Lutheran Church in Affton. He still follows the game he loves and still enjoys taking about those great games from days gone by. Just ask him about the time he fanned Jimmie Foxx.

You can read my entire bio of Faszholz by clicking here: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/53250da7

The Indians Hire a Wonder Boy

Most famous as a player-manager for the Cleveland Indians, Lou Boudreau led the Boston Red Sox from1952-54.

Most famous as a player-manager for the Cleveland Indians, Lou Boudreau led the Boston Red Sox from1952-54.

By Glen Sparks

Well, why not Lou Boudreau?

The Cleveland Indians needed a manager. Team owner Alva Bradley fired skipper Oscar Vitt following the 1940 season, hired Roger Peckinpaugh to replace him and then moved Peckinpaugh to a front-office job after the ’41 campaign.

Boudreau, born July 17, 1917, was 24 years old in the winter of 1941-42 and Cleveland’s star shortstop. He had already made two All-Star teams. Boudreau batted .295 (.370 on-base percentage) in 1940 and drove in 101 runs. His batting average dropped to .257 (.355 on-base) in 1941, but he still led the league in doubles with 45.

The Harvey, Ill., native thought about it. So what if he would be the youngest manager in major-league history. “Why not me?” he said to himself, according to Baseball’s Most Valuable Players by George Vescey.

Boudreau was a leader, a natural. At age 13 he helped coach his grammar school basketball team. A few years later, the guard led Thornton High School in suburban Chicago to the Illinois state championship. Boudreau played baseball and basketball at the University of Illinois.

Boudreau called Bradley. “Why not me?” Bradley, shocked, mulled it over. On the one hand, Boudreau had never managed in the majors. Would the players respect a 24-year-old skipper? And how would the pressure of managing a team affect Boudreau’s play in the field? No, this might not be a good idea.

A golf game with 83-year-old George Martin, a member of the Indians’ board of directors, went a long way in changing Bradley’s mind. Heck, Martin said, Lou is the team leader right now. Why not just give him the job. He can do it, Martin insisted.

Bradley called Boudreau. Get on the next train, the owner said. The Indians hired the man who was quickly tabbed by reporters as “The Boy Wonder.”

And, it nearly didn’t work out. Cleveland stumbled to a 75-79 mark in 1942, the same record as in 1941. In both years, the Indians ended the campaign in fourth place. Boudreau led the team to a third-place finish in 1943 (82-71), but saw his squad fall to sixth place in 1944 (72-82), followed by a fifth-place showing the next year (73-72). Cleveland bottomed out at 68-86 in 1946, tumbling to sixth place, 36 games out of first.

The team rebounded in 1947 with an 80-74 won-loss record. Even so, owner Bill Veeck, who bought the Indians from Bradley in ’46, thought about making a change in the dugout.

Veeck loved Boudreau the shortstop. What was not to love? Lou made the All-Star team from 1942-44. He led the league in batting with a .327 mark in ’44 and followed that with .307, .293 and .307 marks from 1945-47. He made the All-Star team again in ’47 and topped the A.L. in doubles for a third time. From 1940-47, Boudreau finished in the top 10 in MVP voting every year but ’41.

Veeck just wasn’t sure about Boudreau the manager. He told Boudreau exactly that. The player-skipper went into 1948 on the hot seat.

Fortunately, the Indians responded. Both Bob Lemon and Gene Beardon won 20 games, while Bob Feller won 19. Satchell Paige, the Negro League legend and a major-league rookie at the age of 42, debuted with Cleveland on July 9 and helped out with a 6-1 won-loss record and 2.48 ERA in 72.2 innings. Joe Gordon (32 HR, 124 RBI), Ken Keltner (31 HR, 119 RBI) and Larry Doby (.301 BA, 14 HR, 66 RBI) battered A.L. pitching. Boudreau enjoyed the biggest year of all. He hit .355 (.453 on-base, .534 slugging, .987 OPS) with 18 HR and 106 RBI. Writers voted him the A.L. MVP. Cleveland won its first pennant since 1920, finishing at 97-58, one game better than the runner-up Boston Red Sox.

”It was quite a year,” Boudreau recalled, according to The New York Times. ”The pressure kept building and building, until I thought we’d all burst.”

The Indians went on to beat the Boston Braves in six games in the World Series. It was the high point of Boudreau’s managerial career. The skipper led Cleveland for two more seasons and managed the Boston Red Sox (1952-54), Kansas City Athletics (1955-57) and Chicago Cubs (1960) after that. None of his other teams advanced to the playoffs.

He gained some fame, of course, for implementing the Boudreau shift against Red Sox slugger Ted Williams. Boudreau placed all four infielders between first base and second base and moved his center fielder into right field against the left-handed hitter. Williams, always stubborn, kept pulling the ball. “The shift hurt me,” Williams said, according to The New York Times.

Handsome Lou, as some called him, retired as a player in 1952. He was just 34 years old. Boudreau batted .295 lifetime with a .380 on-base percentage. He hit 68 home runs and drove in 789 with a career OPS+ of 120.

The former Wonder Boy spent many years as a broadcaster with the Chicago Cubs. One of his daughters married pitcher and bad boy Denny McLain, baseball’s last 30-game winner. The baseball writers voted Boudreau into the Hall of Fame in 1970. He died in 2001 at the age of 84.

Sources:

The New York Times

Lou Boudreau SABR bio

Lou Boudreau career stats

Baseball’s Most Valuable Players

Dizzy wins 31; the Babe blasts No. 700

dizzyfreeLook back at the 1934 MLB season.

By Glen Sparks

Washington Senators catcher Moe Berg makes an error April 22. It is his first miscue in 117 games. Berg, a Princeton University grad, will work as a U.S. spy during World War II, traveling to Europe to investigate Germany’s nuclear weapons program.

Babe Ruth blasts career home run No. 700 on July 13, in his final season with the New York Yankees. Ruth hits another 14 homers before retiring the following year, with the Boston Braves.

Lou Gehrig win the Triple Crown in the American League. The great Yankees first baseman leads the league in batting average (.363), home runs (49) and RBI (165).

New York Giants screwball artist Carl Hubbell enjoys an All-Star game for the ages on July 10 at the Polo Grounds. In order, he strikes out Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin, future Hall of Famers all.

The St. Louis Cardinals’ James “Ripper” Collins and the New York Giants’ Mel Ott tie for the National League lead in home runs with 35. Ott tops the N.L. in RBI with 135.

Cardinals ace Dizzy Dean shuts out the Cincinnati Reds 9-0 on Sept. 30. Dean finishes the year 30-7 and wins N.L. MVP honors. The Arkansas native follows up this great season with a 28-12 mark in 1935.

Paul “Big Poison” Waner, right-fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, hits .362 and wins his second N.L. batting crown. Waner earns a third title in 1936, finishing at .373, and bats .333 lifetime.

Mickey Cochrane knocks two home runs, drives in 75 and bats. 320. The Detroit Tigers catcher beats out Gehrig for A.L. MVP. (Gehrig won the junior circuit’s MVP honor in 1927. Rules back then prohibited players from winning a second award.)

The Cardinals crush the Detroit Tigers 11-0 in Game 7 of the World Series. The victory gives St. Louis its third world title. Dizzy wins two games for the Redbirds, and brother Daffy Dean wins two.

The Yankees buy the contract of Joe DiMaggio from the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League on Nov. 21. DiMaggio makes his debut with the Yanks in 1936.

Bob Feller Answered the Call

bobfellernavyfree

By Glen Sparks

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor began at 7:48 a.m. Hawaii time, Dec. 7, 1941. Bob Feller, 22 years old and already a superstar flame-thrower for the Cleveland Indians, heard the shocking news while driving his shiny Buick Century from little Van Meter, Iowa, to Chicago.

More than 2,400 Americans were killed in the surprise strike in Honolulu. One bomb hit a powder magazine in the U.S.S. Arizona, sending that battleship to the bottom of the harbor, along with more than 1,100 officers and sailors.

Forget baseball. Feller wanted to fight the Japanese and the Germans. He signed up with the Navy on Tuesday, Dec. 9. He gave up the chance to make $100,000 as a baseball player in 1942, Feller wrote in a New York Times column in 2010. He didn’t care.

“I was mad as hell,” Feller said.

Feller’s dad, William, lay in a bed back home in Van Meter, terminally ill with cancer. Technically, Feller was exempt from military service. He joined the fight, anyway.

“We were losing that war, and most young men of my generation wanted to help push them back,” Feller said in the Times. “People today don’t understand, but that’s the way we felt in those days. We wanted to join the fighting.”

At that point, Feller had pitched in parts of six seasons in the majors and had compiled a 107-54 won-loss mark. William Feller had raised a ballplayer. He rolled baseballs to his baby boy; young Bobby could hurl a baseball 270 feet at the age of nine. He was 16 years old when Cleveland signed him to a contract.

The Heater from Van Meter struck out 15 batters in his major-league debut at age 17 and struck out 17 a few weeks later. He led the American League in strikeouts as a 19-year-old in 1938 and topped the A.L. in K’s four straight seasons (1938-41). Rapid Robert won a total of 80 games from 1939-41.

Gene Tunney, the former heavyweight boxing champion, swore Feller into the service at the Chicago courthouse. Navy officials told Feller to report to the training station in Norfolk, Va. The right-hander did some exercising and played on the station baseball team. On June 15, 1942, he pitched in an Army-Navy Relief fundraiser game at the Polo Grounds in New York City. Feller struck out five batters in five innings. But, that wasn’t why he signed up for action on Dec. 9. He wanted to go where the shooting was.

Feller entered gunnery school and left aboard the U.S.S. Alabama, a South Dakota-class battleship, in the fall of 1942. The great pitcher fired his guns during a south Pacific battle in 1944 known today as the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot. U.S. forces shot down 474 Japanese planes, sank three enemy carriers and crippled many more support crafts. “We made it look so easy,” Feller said.

The Alabama took part in several other battles, both in the Pacific and the North Atlantic, and was awarded nine battle stars. Chief Petty Officer Feller was aboard for eight of them. Following combat, Feller said, “the dangers of Yankee Stadium seemed trivial.”

Feller returned to the major leagues on Aug. 24, 1945, at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium. He threw a complete game before 45,000 fans, struck out 12 and beat the Detroit Tigers 4-2. In his nine starts in 1945, Feller completed seven and went 5-3 with a 2.50 ERA in 72 innings.

Cleveland’s ace enjoyed probably his best season ever in 1946. He won 26 games and posted a career-low 2.18 ERA. Feller pitched an astonishing 377.1 innings and struck out 348 batters. Before retiring in 1956, he won 266 games and struck out 2,581 batters. The eight-time All-Star led the league in wins six times and in strikeouts seven times. He hurled three no-hitters. Writers voted him into the Hall of Fame in 1962, in his first year on the ballot, with 93.8 percent of the vote.

Feller missed three-plus seasons due to his service in World War II. How many wins did he lose? 80? 90? How many strikeouts? 900? Feller never complained.

“I have no regrets,” he said. “None at all. I did what any American could and should do: serve his country in its time of need.”

What Do You Know about the World Series?

He is the answer to question No. 2.

He is the answer to question No. 2.

By Glen Sparks

The Chicago Cubs knocked off the Cleveland Indians about an hour ago to tie the 2016 World Series at a game apiece. This exciting match-up resumes Friday night at Wrigley Field. While you’re waiting, test your knowledge about the Fall Classic. Good luck. You’ll find the answers below.

  1. Who was the winning pitcher in the first World Series ever played?
  2. Do you know the first player to celebrate World Series titles in both leagues?
  3. Of the eight National League teams in existence when World Series play began in 1903, which was the last to win a league pennant?
  4. How many home runs did the Red Sox and Chicago Cubs combine to hit in the 1918 World Series.
  5. Who was the first player to hit home runs in his first two at-bats in the World Series?
  6. The Baltimore Orioles swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1966 World Series. Do you recall the Orioles’ team ERA over those four games?
  7. What was the first World Series game to be played on artificial turf?
  8. Who is the oldest player to hit a home run in a World Series game?
  9. Do you know the only brother combination to hit home runs in the same World Series?
  10. What did the Philadelphia Phillies’ Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams say to himself after he gave up a home run to the Toronto Blue Jays’ Joe Carter to end the 1993 Series?

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ Deacon Phillippe beat Cy Young of the Boston Pilgrims 7-1 on Oct. 1, 1903. The Pilgrims won the Series 5 games to 3.

John Phalen “Stuffy” McInnis played on three World Series winners in the American League (the 1911 and 1913 Philadelphia A’s and the 1918 Boston Red Sox) and one in the National League (the 1925 Pittsburgh Pirates).

The Cardinals were the last N.L. team to get to the Series. It was worth the wait, though. They beat the Yankees in seven games in 1926.

Zero. This was the last time no team hit a homer in the Series. Boston relied on “small ball” and the pitching of Babe Ruth and Carl Mays to beat Chicago in six games,

The Oakland A’s Gene Tenace clobbered home runs in his first at-bats in Game 1 of the 1972 Series against the Cincinnati Reds. (Andruw Jones matched this feat in 1996 for the Atlanta Braves.)

Baltimore pitchers posted a 0.50 ERA. They gave up two earned runs over 36 innings (both runs charged to Dave McNally) and just 17 hits. The Dodgers scored a single run in the second inning of Game 1, one more run in the third inning and were blanked the rest of the way.

On Oct. 10, 1970, at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, the Reds and Orioles played the first World Series game on a field that a horse could not eat.

Enos Slaughter, 40 years and 162 days old, hit a home run for the New York Yankees in Game 3 of the 1956 World Series against the Dodgers.

The Cards’ Ken Boyer hit home runs in games 4 and 7 of the 1964 World Series. Clete Boyer, Ken’s brother, smashed a round-tripper for the Yankees in Game 7.

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Watch the Series, Take the Quiz

buckyharris

He is the answer to question No. 4.

By Glen Sparks

Game 1 of the 2016 World Series is going on tonight. The Cleveland Indians lead the Chicago Cubs 3-0 as this post “goes to press.” Test your knowledge of World Series history by taking the quiz below.

  1. Who was the first manager to lead three different teams to the World Series?
  2. Which outfielder to pulled off the only unassisted double play in World Series history?
  3. Who led the 1919 Chicago White Sox, a.k.a., the Black Sox, in batting average during that infamous Series?
  4. Who was the youngest manager to lead his team to a World Series championship?
  5. What was the count on Kirk Gibson when he hit his home run off Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 Fall Classic?
  6. In which two World Series did the Yankees’ Ralph Terry throw the final pitch?
  7. Who was the first left-handed pitcher to win three games in one World Series?
  8. What did the Cubs do in Game 3 of the 1907 World Series against the Tigers to thoroughly frustrate Charles “Boss” Schmidt?
  9. Who led the 1948 Indians in batting average during the World Series (minimum 10 at-bats) against the Braves?
  10. Who was the first player to steal home in a World Series game?

Bill McKechie took the Pirates to the World Series in 1925, the Cardinals in 1928 and the Reds in 1939-40.

The Red Sox’ Tris Speaker caught a shallow fly ball in the ninth inning of Game 7 in 1912 and stepped on second base to double up Giants baserunner Art Wilson.

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson hit .375 in the 1919 World Series (12-for-32).

Bucky Harris, all of 27 years, 11 months, led the Senators to a World Series title as a player-manager in 1924.

The Dodgers’ Kirk Gibson, doing it on one good leg, hit his historic 1988 World Series home run on a 3-2 count off the A’s Dennis Eckersley.

Terry gave up Bill Mazeroski’s Series-ending home run in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series. Two years later, in another Game 7, he threw a pitch that Willie McCovey scorched for a line out to end that Series, this time in favor of New York.

Harry Brecheen won three games for the Cardinals in the 1946 World Series, the first southpaw to reach a trifecta in one Fall Classic.

Cubbie runners stole seven bases off Schmidt, the Tigers’ catcher.

Larry Doby hit .318 (7-for-22) for the Indians in the 1948 Series, the last time Cleveland won it all.

The New York Giants’ Bill Dahlen stole home in the fifth inning of Game 3 in 1905 against the Philadelphia A’s.