Archive for The History of History

A Day in the Year 1915, in 2015


The Atlanta Braves celebrated the centennial anniversary of the franchise’s World Series title over the Boston Athletics recently by wearing replica 1914 uniforms and showcasing their base-ball skills in the absence of modern music. Despite the vomiting, diarrhea and night sweats of fans pretending (quite convincingly, it turns out) to suffer under the incipient flu pandemic, the Braves considered it a great success, so much so that they’re now planning an August 18, 2015, commemoration of the 100-year anniversary of the old Braves Field.

What follows is the list of scheduled on-field tributes to the year 1915:

Each player will wear a replica 1915 uniform.

The stadium will feature a manually operated scoreboard.

The sound system will carry the popular songs of the day.

Freddie Freeman will sign the Treaty of London.

B.J. Upton will be sworn in as Portuguese President Teofilo Braga.

Chris Johnson will set an altitude record of 11,690 feet.

Julio Teheran will patent the neon discharge tube.

David Hale will make the first coast-to-coast telephone call.

Andrelton Simmons will formulate the theory of general relativity.

(Unknown free agent acquisition) will write “In Flanders Fields.”
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Ballplayers Stabbed During a Saloon Fight: A Brief List

Alabama Pitts

Among the details regarding his life which might most immediately lend themselves to an illustrative portrait of Edwin “Alabama” Pitts are both how he (a) somehow entered the Navy at age 15 and also (b) distinguished himself among Sing Sing’s inmates as that correctional facility’s most talented of athletes.

After finishing his prison sentence, Pitts played both baseball and football professionally. After that, he made the decision to visit a combination filling station, tavern, and swimming pool (as one does). After that, he was stabbed during a saloon fight and died.

Image from June 8th, 1941, edition of St. Petersburg Times.

Signs of the Times: An Anthology of All-Star Activism


The network didn’t show it, but in the bottom of the third inning of that recently contested contest of All-Star contestants, a group of protesters hung a large sheet sign that read, LOVE WATER, NOT OIL.

Though radical, and arguably a waste of a good bed sheet, the action hardly qualified as unprecedented. Indeed, on the occasion of five previous All-Star games, activists hung similar, if equally untelevised, signs of civil protest.


In the summer of 2011, with the wedding of Prince William now behind them, Americans turned their attention to syndicated TV. The stakes were high, as cooking- and trucking-school commercials competed for advertising time in the coveted 1 p.m.-4 p.m. “total burnout” slot. Competition went cutthroat as the summer wore on, and in efforts to sway viewers from a quirky sitcom starring Jason Lee, the producers of Walker, Texas Ranger body-slammed a Chase Field gate attendant and leg-whipped an usher in the commission of hanging their sign.
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The Ups and, Yes, the Downs of Baseball


Now that the season has entered its merciless grind, we often hear players praise the stolid nature of their manager by saying, “Yes, you’re right, insightful post-game reporter: He doesn’t let us get too high or too low.”

Well, thanks to our crack historical research team – and by the way, fellas, you really should focus more on baseball’s past than on the golden age of buttocks cleavage – we know that whenever managers do allow players to get too high or too low, the consequences can get pretty consequential.

– In July 1866, Boston skipper Cornelius “Corny” Joak responded to an eight-game win streak by allowing his players to climb the tallest building in nearby New Hampshire. The result? Catcher Poppy Popperlin suffered a sprained right wrist when he tumbled the 10 feet from the observation deck.

– In June 1872, New York manager Talleopholous “Tally” Wacker responded to a 12-game losing streak by encouraging his players to do the limbo at an afternoon luau. What followed was not the “squad cohesion” that Wacker had envisioned but, instead, a bloody brawl that began when shortstop Bendy Bender accused pitcher Stiffy Stiffler of having “twisted to the side, like this” when he went beneath the limbo stick. Per the archives, Stiffler further defrauded his foes by shouting, “Look over there!” and then blind-siding them with a pair of pineapple-beef kebabs.
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The Physical Obstacles for Men in Baseball


Yesterday our own Bradley Woodrum posted an article at The Hardball Times titled “The Physical Obstacle for Women in Baseball.” If you haven’t read it, you should, if only because I get $5 for each referral, plus a Woodrum Tote Bag for every 10. But here’s the larger point: I hereby submit that Woodrum’s piece is totally sexist! Why? Because it completely ignores the physical obstacles we men have faced in our pursuit of baseball greatness.

What follows is a partial list:

Adam: You know what the gospel says, right? – that he visited the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? But what the apocrypha says that he also visited the Tree of Knowledge of the Strike Zone. (One Old Testament observer put it this way: “He really knoweth the strike zone.”) That knowledge was put to the test one day when Eve, though tiring, continued to fire the ol’ apple just off the edge of the plate. Pitch after pitch, Adam refused to swing. He’d heard the adage – that you can’t walk your way out of Eden – but still he wouldn’t take the bat off his shoulder. Eventually his hit tool atrophied, and he was ashamed. Later, his plan to become a defensive specialist ended when he took a one-hopper to the fig leaf.
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Bats Unknown, Throws Unknown

Advice for young self-made writers of dubious talent and forgettable, sometimes-pleasing web-humor: relax! Producing quality material, especially in such a strangely self-limiting genre, may seem intimidating at first, especially while Masahiro Tanaka is busy killing baseball for weeks at a time. It may appear as though every decent idea you squeeze out of your limited perspective and unimportant personal history might be your last. But don’t worry: if you’re truly destined to be a semi-anonymous content-creator, the Fates will apportion you tiny little pellets of inspiration at random intervals. How else to explain, after a 2.5-year writing career, my recent discovery of this:


Such ancestral bonds might go unappreciated by a Mississippi Matt Smith or a Zach Reynolds. But my sole genealogical heritage belongs to a man who killed cute animals for a living and created a town solely for the purpose of selling their skin. Armond Dubuque doesn’t much of a leaderboard to climb, is what I’m saying.

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Horrible News Beside Historical Box Scores: Louisville, 1895

Please click, please embiggen.

The Louisville Colonels won in exhilarating, come-from-behind fashion against St. Louis, one learns from the July 31st edition of the Louisville Times embedded here. More fortunate, it would appear, those Colonels than Augusta Maitland — which Omaha-area laundress, readers of the Times also learn, seems to have been shot thricely by jealous lover Peter Volgreen.

Horrible News Beside Historical Box Scores, is what this has been.

Ballplayers Thrown Through Saloon Windows: A Brief List

Irwin Saloon

Brought to the attention of the author, once again, by means of intrepid weblog The Deadball Era, and then corroborated by a primary source (above) after a protracted internet search, is the unfortunate death of Ed Irvin or Ed Irwin or, strangely, “Bill” Irwin, who died in 1916 after being thrown through a saloon window in Philadelphia.

Text courtesy the February 9th, 1916, edition of Philly’s Evening Public Ledger.

Current View from Home Plate of Former Brooklyn Ballpark

Eastern Park

Eastern Park, about which anyone can read on the internet, was located on the corner of what’s now Pitkin Avenue and Van Sinderen in Brooklyn and home to that borough’s storied Dodgers club between 1891 and 1897. Shortly afterwards, it was sold by then-owner Charlie Byrne. Presently, as the image embedded here reveals, its former home-plate area is occupied predominantly by wooden pallets.

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Today’s Glimpse into the Horrible: Eddie Gaedel’s Death

Click to embiggen, something Gaedel himself never could do.

Basically all the big philosophers advocate on behalf of a perpetual contemplation of death. “One can’t truly live,” goes the reasoning, “until that same one accepts his mortality as fact.” A reasonable point, that, probably.

Today’s brief recognition of the Ultimate Darkness is facilitated by some trifling internet surfing by the author — which surfing led both to Eddie Gaedel‘s Wikipedia page and also obituary. Capital-T Truth has revealed that, while generally remembered as a willing participant in one of Bill Veeck’s many amusing promotional ventures, Gaedel was actually afflicted considerably by life’s afflictions.

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