Rare footage of the 1919 World Series. Discovered from a cache of film that was buried under a public pool for nearly 50 years. (Full awesome story) It’s a British Pathe newsreel and includes an overhead shot of Comiskey Park taken by airplane.
Obit of the Day: The Oldest Living Major League Baseball Player
Conrado “Connie” Marrero played all of five seasons of major league baseball. Pitching for the woeful Washington Senators, Mr. Marrero compiled a 39-40 career won-loss record, but earned a spot on the 1951 American League All-Star team and even a 1952 MVP vote.
Unusual for baseball, Mr. Marrero was a 39-year-old rookie in 1950 having coming up from the Havana Cubans where he won the Florida International League MVP going 25-8 and pitching a league-record 44 scoreless innings.
He was proud of his rural upbringing and was nicknamed “El Guajiro de Laberinto,” “The Peasant from Leberinto” during his years playing in Cuban amateur and professional leagues. Squat, stading at only five feet, five inches tall and weighing 158 pounds, Mr. Marrero was known for his mix of sliders and curves.
Mr. Marrero’s major league career ended after the 1954 season when he was the oldest active player at age 43. He returned to Cuba where he managed the Havana Sugar Kings of the Cuban League. When Fidel Castro took control in 1959, Mr. Marrero remained in Cuba and lived out the remainder of his life there.
In 1999 when the Baltimore Orioles came to Cuba for an exhibition series against the Cuban national team, Mr. Marrero threw out the first pitch.
Conrado Marrero died on April 23, 2014 at the age of 102 - two days shy of his 103rd birthday. Upon Mr. Marrero’s death, veteran infielder Mike Sandlock is now the oldest living ex-major leaguer at 98.
Sources: CBSSports.com, Wikipedia, and Baseball-Reference.com
(Image 1953 Topps card of Conrado “Connie” Marrero is copyright of Topps, Inc. and courtesy of goldenagebaseballcards.com)
William M. Vander Weyde, a photographer working in New York, made these images of baseball players mid-swing, -run, -hit, or -throw in 1904.
That center photo.
Weeghman Park, April 23, 1914
Kansas City Federals (Packers) vs. Chicago Federals (Whales)
Final score: Chicago - 9, Kansas City - 1
Winning pitcher: Claude Hendrix, 9 IP, 1 R, 5 H, 3 BB, 3 SO
Losing pitcher: Chief Johnson, 2 IP, 4 R, 5 H, 1 BB, 1 SO
First batter: Chet Chadbourne, left field, Kansas City
First home run: Art Wilson, catcher, Chicago, 2nd inning
Time of game: 1:55
Top, outside of Weeghman Park, May 1914, courtesy chicagonow.com
Middle, Weeghman Park interior, May 1914, courtesy of wikimedia.org
Bottom, panoramic photo take from the left field corner on April 23, 1914, Weeghman Park opening day, courtesy of touyou.com
Game notes are courtesy of retrosheet.org
Obit of the Day: Chasing Hank Aaron
On April 8, 1974 Hank Aaron knocked an Al Downing fastball into the Atlanta Braves’ bullpen for home run number 715, making him the all-time leader, passing Babe Ruth. After he came around second base two young men ran up behind him, patted him on the back and fled the frame. The two 17-year-olds are now as connected with that home run as Aaron, Downing, announcer Vin Scully, and Braves pitcher Tom House, who caught the ball.
The boys, Britt Gaston (brown jacket) and Cliff Courtenay (navy sweater), were arrested and were bailed out by Gaston’s dad, who was at the game with them. It may be the best $100 ever spent.
The boys were lucky they were only arrested. The previous season and into April 1974 Aaron had received numerous death threats from those who felt a black man had no right to surpass the achievements of a white man. Aaron had even hired a bodyguard. Britton and Courtenay may just as easily been beaten to a pulp. But Aaron, after what appears to be a slight moment of panic, shrugged them off.
Britt Gaston, who passed away at the age of 55 on September 3, 2011, reunited with Courtenay and Aaron in 2010 for the first time in 36 years.
(Video of Aaron’s home run is courtesy of beefweef on YouTube.com and copyright of the Atlanta Braves and Major League Baseball.)
[Originally posted in 2011 and re-posted in honor of the 40th anniversary of Mr. Aaron’s home run.]
Hank Aaron at his press conference following the game where he passed Babe Ruth with home run 715.
The Braves beat the Dodgers 7-4.
WP - Ron Reed
SV - Buzz Capra
LP - Al Downing
Photo courtesy tucec9.tumblr.com
Hank Aaron hitting home run number 715 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
April 8, 1974
Aaron went 1-3 with a walk, and the 2-run home run in the 4th inning off Al Downing. Darrell Evans was on first following a walk went Aaron went deep. Tom House caught the ball in the Braves bullpen.
2014 MLB Anniversaries
Of course the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field is top on the minds of MLB this season but there are a few other interesting (and ignominious) anniversaries this season:
- 1919 - Chicago White Sox throw the ‘19 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds
- 1924 - Washington, D.C. wins it’s one, and so far, only World Series
- 1934 - The Cardinals’ Gas House Gang beats the Tigers in the World Series
- 1939 - On July 4, the Yankees will celebrate the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” speech
- 1954 - Willie Mays’ catch
- 1969 - 45th anniversary of the Miracle Mets
- 1974 - Hank Aaron passes Babe Ruth on April 8
- 1979 - Thurman Munson dies in a airplane crash on August 3
- 1984 - The Tigers win the World Series after leading the AL from wire-to-wire
- 1989 - An earthquake interrupts game 3 of the BART series (Giants vs. A’s)
- 1994 - Baseball players’ strike ends the season early and cancels the World Series for the first time since 1905
- 1999 - This awesome All-Star Game moment (Jump to 36:10)
- 2004 - Red Sox win their first World Series since 1918
Not a complete list but we’re OK with that.
(Image of Weeghman Field in 1914, became Cubs Park in 1916 and Wrigley Field in 1926 courtesy)
Just for the record the Mets were the ‘73 NL Champs and the Tulsa Oilers won the AA that year. The Astros and Bears were, of course, being punished by the baseball gods who were angered by this ridiculous cover.
Obit of the Day: The Pirates’ Only Living Hall of Famer
So many trivia questions, so little time:
What player has the most career home runs in their first 5 seasons?
Who is the only player to lead his league in home runs for 7 consecutive seasons?
Who was the first National League slugger to hit 50+ home runs in two consecutive seasons?
Who was the second person, after Babe Ruth, to hit at least 40 home runs in five consecutive seasons?
Who was the only National Leaguer to hit at least 54 home runs between 1931 and 1997?
The answer to all of these questions is “Ralph Kiner.”
And yet, he was barely elected to the Hall of Fame, receiving 273 votes (he needed 272) in 1975 his 15th and final year of eligibility, from the Baseball Writers Association of America. Even the Pittsburgh Pirates, for whom he set all those records, didn’t retire his uniform number, 4, for another twelve years.
Part of the reason for the Hall of Fame delay was his limited time on the field. Mr. Kiner retired from baseball at age 32 after a back injury made it impossible for him to play. It was so hampering that after his first seven seasons he had hit 294 home runs, but in his last three only 75.
And the Pirates were terrible during his time with the franchise. Between the time Mr. Kiner joined the team in 1946 and when he was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 1953, Pittsburgh never finished higher than fourth and usually in the bottom half of the National League standings. (Later Pirates Hall of Famers, like Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente, were part of perennial playoff contenders including two World Series crowns.)
He did receive more recognition during his career than after. He was selected to six consecutive All-Star games (1948-1953) and finished in the top ten in MVP voting for five straight seasons (1947-1951) especially impressive playing on such abysmal teams.
Following Mr. Kiner’s retirement he found a successful second career as a broadcaster. Spending the 1961 season with the Chicago White Sox, Mr. Kiner headed to New York to join the television broadcast booth with Bob Murphy and Lindsay Nelson for the expansion New York Mets. Mr. Kiner would broadcast Mets games for 52 seasons. He was the last of the original Mets’ broadcasters.
Known for misspeaking on occasion - wishing a hearty “Happy Birthday!” on Fathers’ Day - Mr. Kiner became more closely identified with the Mets than the Pirates by the end of his career. (A friend of Obit of the Day who is lifelong Pittsburgh fan believes this is why he is overlooked by the Pirates and their fans.)
Ralph Kiner, the fourth oldest living Hall of Famer, died on February 6^, 2014 at the age of 91.
(Image of Ralph Kiner, circa 1948-1953, is uncited - on six different websites - and courtesy of democratherald.com)
^ Coincidentally Mr. Kiner died on Babe Ruth’s birthday. Mr. Ruth was the only person to hit home runs more often than Mr. Kiner (11.76 at-bats per home run vs. 14.11) until the sluggers of the 1990s.