Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Buckeyes' Janowicz scored 14 in first three minutes against Hawkeyes

Uncommon commons: In more than 30 years in sportscards publishing I have thrown hundreds of notes into files about the players – usually non-star players – who made up the majority of the baseball and football cards I collected as a kid. Today, I keep adding to those files as I peruse microfilms of The Sporting News from the 1880s through the 1960s. I found these tidbits brought some life to the player pictures on those cards. I figure that if I enjoyed them, you might too.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s under coaches Wes Fesler and Woody Hayes, the Ohio State Buckeyes employed the single-wing offense about 60% of the time and the T-formation on most other occasions. Vic Janowicz was the tailback in the former, and halfback in the latter. Oh, he also kicked, punted, returned kicks and played safety in an era when the two-platoon system was regaining its popularity.

Janowicz’s versatility and prowess were showcased on Oct. 28, 1950, when he scored 14 points in the first three minutes of the game against visiting Iowa.

On the first play from scrimmage, Janowicz recovered a Hawkeye fumble. Four plays later he scored, then kicked the extra point.

He then kicked off to Iowa, who went three-and-out. The punt went to Janowicz, who ran it back 61 yards for a touchdown. He again kicked the PAT.

Before two more minutes had elapsed, he scored on a touchdown pass to Tony Curcillo, then added the extra point.

During the remainder of the afternoon, Janowicz passed for three more touchdowns and kicked seven more extra points (he missed one). He carried the ball six times for 31 yards (an average of 5.1 yards per attempt) and was five-for-six passing, for 128 yards.

He accomplished all this playing only 13-1/2 minutes.

There’s no telling what he might have accomplished if that game had been played in today’s era of running up scores to satisfy some computer ranking scheme.

As it was, OSU beat Iowa 83-21.

Hell, that wasn’t even an Ohio State or a Big 10 record. In 1916 the Buckeyes defeated Oberlin College 128-0; in 1939 Michigan manufactured 85 points, shutting out Chicago to set a modern Big 10 mark. 

After the OSU-Iowa game, Buckeye coach Wes Fesler said, “No team ever had more breaks than we had. There is no great feeling of satisfaction among the coaches. We know we won’t get scores that easy the remainder of the season.”

He added, “You might not believe this, but no one hates that big total more than I. But what was I supposed to do? If you kick on first or second down, you’re insulting the other team. You can’t tell a boy to go in there and not give his best.”

For the 1950 season, Ohio State was 6-3, outscoring its opponents 286-111.

Janowicz went on to win the Heisman Trophy that season, and was named The Sporting News #1 collegiate performer.

Because he owed Uncle Sam a hitch in the Army, Janowicz was not taken until the seventh round (#79 overall) in the 1952 NFL draft by the Washington Redskins. He went on to a modest two-year (1954-55) career in the NFL, while also playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1953-54. An auto accident in 1956 ended his professional athletic career.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Casey's suicide was a dick move

Uncommon commons: In more than 30 years in sportscards publishing I have thrown hundreds of notes into files about the players – usually non-star players – who made up the majority of the baseball and football cards I collected as a kid. Today, I keep adding to those files as I peruse microfilms of The Sporting News from the 1880s through the 1960s. I found these tidbits brought some life to the player pictures on those cards. I figure that if I enjoyed them, you might too.

I ‘m not qualified to judge what drives any man to eat his shotgun. If and when an individual determines that his life must end, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he has weighed the alternatives as well as the consequences for those he leaves behind.

However, I may well pass judgment on the manner in which a suicide is carried out.

And for my money, former major league pitcher Hugh Casey’s suicide was a dick move.
I don’t pretend to know what is too much for any man to bear, but I do know that it is never alright to check yourself out in a manner that causes family and friends more heartbreak than necessary.

Casey’s last phone calls may have been the proverbial “cry for help,” but to my way of thinking they crossed a line.

On July 3, 1951, Casey committed suicide in an Atlanta hotel room, shooting himself with a shotgun. His estranged wife, Mrs. Kathleen Casey, listened to the shot over the telephone.

Prior to pulling the trigger, Casey had telephoned a close friend, Gordon McNabb, an Atlanta real estate dealer, shortly after midnight advising him to come to the hotel. Casey told McNabb, “You’ll see me, but I won’t see you.”

McNabb, upon his arrival at the hotel, tried to call Casey’s room, but the line was busy.
Rushing to Casey’s hotel room in an effort to prevent the suicide, McNabb reached the door just as Casey fired the shot.

McNabb ran downstairs to get help, returning with a bellhop and a policeman. When they entered the room, Casey was sprawled face down, the telephone receiver still in his hand, a 16-gauge shotgun was at his side.

Officer J.M. Bagwell picked up the receiver and asked the operator for the number Casey had been connected with. He called the number and Mrs. Casey answered. She said that she had been talking with her husband and that he told her he was going to kill himself.

“I begged and pleaded with him not to do it,” Mrs. Casey said. “I tried to tell him that was for God to do and not for him to do. But he said he was ready to die . . . that this was his time.

“He was just as calm about it as if he was about to walk out on the ball field and pitch a game.”
According to a report in The Sporting News, “Mrs. Casey blamed the pitcher’s suicide on a paternity suit in New York last December in which he had been ruled the father of a one-year-old son born out of wedlock to Hilda Weissman, a 25-year-old Brooklyn brunette. Miss Weissman alleged that she had spent four nights in a Brooklyn hotel room with Casey early in 1949.”

His last words, according to his wife, were: “I am innocent of those charges.”

Mrs. Casey insisted that the paternity suit “had nothing to do with our separation.” She said at that time that she was sure he was “not guilty of being the father of this child,”
Casey was ordered to pay $102 “laying in” expenses and $20 a week child support.

She said her husband told her that he felt “all dead inside.”

“I’ve felt that way since all the embarrassment I went through and the embarrassment I had to drag you through,” she quoted him. She said her husband had threatened to take his life several times since the paternity suit was filed.

According to the TSN article, W.M. Mobley, the bellboy, said Casey had told him that he was going to kill himself because a doctor told him he had only 10 days to live because of “a leakage of the heart.”

Casey had begun pitching pro ball at Atlanta in 1932 at the age of 18. He ended his life there 19 years later.

A comprehensive biography of the pitcher can be found at the SABR online biography project: .

A few of the highlights . . .

In 1935 he had earned a promotion to the major leagues with the Chicago Cubs, appearing in 13 games as a relief pitcher.

After three more seasons in the minors, Casey returned to the bigs with the Brooklyn Dodgers. In his first big league start on Decoration Day, 1939, he handcuffed the Giants at the Polo Grounds and beat Carl Hubbell 3-1.

Casey was the losing pitcher in Game 4 of the 1941 World Series when Mickey Owen dropped the third strike and Tommy Henrich reached first base.

In 1947 he was 10-4 to help the Dodgers to the pennant. He set a record by appearing in six World Series games. He got credit for two wins but the Yankees won the Series four games to three.

After receiving his unconditional release from the Yankees in 1950, Casey returned to Atlanta and spent his last diamond days there. He won 10 and lost four in 1950, when the Crackers won the Southern Association pennant.

On Jan. 31, 1951, the Internal Revenue Service slapped a tax lien of $6,759 against Casey for unpaid taxes, penalties and interest for 1949.

His last pitching gig was with the Brooklyn Bushwicks in a semi-pro game on May 13, 1951, when he gave up four hits in five innings.

The former Dodger pitcher was buried beside his parents in the Mt. Paran Baptist Church Cemetery in Buckhead, Ga., on July 4. Two former Dodger teammates, Dixie Walker and Whitlow Wyatt, then with the Crackers, were among the pallbearers, and members of the Atlanta team formed an escort.

At the time of his death he operated a steak house and bar at 600 Flatbush Avenue in New York. He had appeared in his bar for the last time a week before his death, telling friends he had to travel to Atlanta on a trip that would cost him “ten grand,” referring to the IRS judgments. Raising a glass to Casey at his bar afterwards, one customer said, “Ten grand would have been cheap, compared to what he paid.” Another customer reflected that Casey was “kind to everybody except himself.”

Mrs. Casey received the standard widow’s benefit for any player who died before the age of 50, $100 a month for 12 years.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Rethinking my '69 Joe DiMaggio custom card

Last time (July 23) I presented my 1969 Topps-style Joe DiMaggio custom card creation.

I mentioned that having to reuse the photo that I had used for my 1968-style card was less than ideal and that I'd be looking to upgrade if a new photo came along.

That new photo was quick in coming. A regular reader directed me to a photo on the internet that appears to be a larger version of the portrait photo 35mm slide I had been unable to use earlier because of its horizontal orientation. This new picture is vertical in nature, picturing the A's coach in a pose from cap to upper chest.
Its format lends itself well to a 1969-style baseball card.

I'm definitely satisfied with the front of my newest custom card, but I'm still up in the air about the back.
As I said on the 23rd, I was unable to convert the portrait photo to a close approximation of what Topps had done.

I made another attempt at the back with a more stylized/posterized image. I'll look at both for a while before I decide which version will be printed.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

1969-style Joe DiMaggio custom

This 35mm slide of a smiling coach Joe DiMaggio seemed
like it would make a nice 1969 Topps-style custom, but
the orientation proved to be too horizontal.
While it's somewhat jarring to see The Yankee Clipper in a Charley Finley-era A's uniform, it makes a striking "card that never was."

About a year ago I created a 1968 Topps-style custom card of DiMag as an A's coach.

Later I found another photo of DiMaggio in an Oakland uniform, so I knew I had the makings for a 1969-style custom (those were the only two years he served as an A's coach).

Turns out I was wrong about the suitability of that photo for a card. The picture was in the format of a 35mm color slide and was horizontal in orientation. It didn't turn adapt well to the vertical format of a 1969 Topps card. To enlarge the picture enough to fill the frame top-to-bottom, it became too wide to comfortably fit the colored circle with the name and position.

I'd probably have scrapped the idea of making a '69 DiMaggio card, but I had already invested a lot of hours in making the card back . . . it was not an easy task.

Backs of the 1969 Topps managers' cards have an artwork rendition of the skippers' portraits that , try as I might, I could not closely duplicate. I had to settle for a reasonable approximation.

Likewise, I didn't have anything in my type fonts file that matched the hand-drawn lettering found on the originals.

Fortunately, there are a couple of sites on the internet that offer hundreds of free fonts that are easily dragged and dropped into my Photoshop Elements program. After several hours of searching I found fonts that only side-by-side comparison with a "real" 1969 manager's card would reveal to be an inexact match.

With my first choice for the front photo proving unworkable, I decided to reuse a closer cropping of the colorized DiMaggio photo that I had used on my 1968-style custom. I put it on the dark-skied background from the unused slide.

It's was a good, not a great, result.

I think the finished product suffers some from my adherence to the Topps standard of using a  purple circle with white and yellow type for the player identification. I'm not sure that works with the violet tone of the background sky.

As I worked on this write-up and looked at the images of my first attempt at a 1969-style DiMaggio coach's card, I decided I couldn't make that my final ink-on-paper custom card.

So I went back to the drawing board. I studied the original Topps '69 A's cards and realized that virtually all of the photos had been taken in spring training with a bright blue Arizona sky as a backdrop. I knew my DiMag would have to match that look.

I decided adopt the Tom Reynolds background. With a couple of hours more work, I came up with a card front with which I'm much more satisfied. I'm not totally happy with having had reused the same picture that I used on my '68, so I'll keep my options open in case a new photo of DiMaggio in an Oakland uniform comes my way. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Thompson, Newcombe made history July 8, 1949

Uncommon commons: In more than 30 years in sportscards publishing I have thrown hundreds of notes into files about the players – usually non-star players – who made up the majority of the baseball and football cards I collected as a kid. Today, I keep adding to those files as I peruse microfilms of The Sporting News from the 1880s through the 1960s. I found these tidbits brought some life to the player pictures on those cards. I figure that if I enjoyed them, you might too.

I wonder if the 34,468 fans at Ebbets Field on July 8, 1949, had any idea they were witnessing baseball history when Henry Thompson of the New York Giants stepped to the plate to lead off the top of the first inning.

On the mound for the Brooklyn Dodger was Don Newcombe. It was the first time that a black batter had faced a black pitcher in a regular major league game.

Thompson, who’d had a two-week trial with the St. Louis Browns in 1947, was called up from Jersey City (International League) by the Giants while hitting .296 with 14 home runs.

On July 8 he made his National League debut starting at second base in place of Bill Rigney, who was nursing a bone bruise on his glove hand.

Thompson popped out in his first at-bat against Newk. In the third inning he drove Carl Furillo to the wall to catch a long fly. Thompson went hitless for the day as the Dodgers won 4-3.

Thompson’s teammate and former Newark roommate Monte Irvin also debuted in that July 8 game. He drew a walk as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning, but by then Newcombe had given way to relief pitching.

Four days later, in the 16th annual All-Star Game at Ebbets Field, history was again made. Larry Doby (Indians) of the winning American League squad, and the Dodgers’ Newcombe, Roy Campanella and Jackie Robinson for the N.L. were the first blacks to play in the All-Star Game.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Did "Madmen" kill the T-cards?

Years ago while researching the phenomenon of baseball (and other subjects) cards' use to sell cigarettes in the extremely competitive market of the 1880s-1910s, I read a compelling argument that indicated it was not the various Federal anti-trust legislation, etc., that doomed the tobacco cards, but an advertising ploy.

According to that source (which I have long forgotten), an advertising "hook" from camel was the reason for the demise of insert cards and premium offers by the American cigarette companies.

The Camel brand was introduced in mid-1913 by the R.J. Reynolds tobacco company. It was designed to be a smoother, milder (!) smoke that could be sold at the then-lower price point of 10 cents a pack.

Printed on the back of every pack of Camels  was this notice: "Don't look for premiums or coupons, as the cost of the tobaccos blended in CAMEL Cigarettes prohibits the use of them."

It was simple . . . and effective.

Once that statement became widely known among U.S. smokers, it is said the competitors could no longer include picture cards or gift-redemption coupons in their cigarettes without tacitly admitting that they did so at the expense of using better tobacco.

A few brands -- geographically concentrated in the Southeast -- bucked the trend until 1920 or so, but Camel's ad men appear to have killed the tobacco card.

Could it really have been that simple?

Camel was still trading on that concept at least as late as 1949, as illustrated by the photos here which, according to the Series 119 designation of the tax stamp, date to 1949.

Camel not only killed the t-cards, but they also killed any notion I might have ever had to take up cigarette smoking.

Back in the late 1950s or early 1960s, when I was around 10 years old, my next-door neighbor, Kevin Hamberger, sneaked one his dad's unfiltered Camels out of the house and we took it behind the garage and fired it up. 

The coughing fit that ensued from just one drag on that cancer-stick permanently cured me of all interest in smoking. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mays was 'Jackie Robinson' of Inter-State

     I learned something I never knew about Willie Mays when I found a notice about his debut in Organized Baseball in the July 5, 1950, edition of The Sporting News. I had not known that Mays was something of a “Jackie Robinson” in that he integrated a minor league.

The lead item in the “Class B Minor League Highlights” roundup column in that issue was headlined “Giants Outbid Five Clubs for Mays, Negro Prospect”.

The unbylined article, datelined Birmingham, Ala., read . . .

     With an outlay of $15,000, of which the Birmingham Black Barons will receive $9,000 and the player $6,000, the New York Giants outbid five major league clubs for the services of Willie Mays, 19-year-old Baron center fielder, He has reported to the Giants’ Trenton Inter-State farm club.
     In his first nine home games with the Black Barons, Willie was hitting .394, including six doubles, one triple and one homer in his 13 hits in 34 times at bat. He also had two assists from center field.
     Eddie Glennon, general manager of the Birmingham Southern Association club, believes Mays could be converted into a pitcher because of his powerful right arm, but Willie’s manager, Vic Harris, kept him in the outfield because he wanted to use him every day.
     Mays was the first Negro to play in the Inter-State League, making his bow in the outfield for Trenton, June 24. He went hitless the first night, but beat out a couple of infield hits the next day.

The Inter-State League in 1950 was comprised of Wilmington in Delaware, Hagerstown and Sunbury in Maryland, Trenton in New Jersey, and, in Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, York, Lancaster and Allentown.

In 81 games with Trenton in 1950, Mays batted .353 (second in the league) with four home runs. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

My Luis Marquez custom card, the denouement

Yesterday I presented the reasons why I've chosen to create a custom card of Luis Marquez. Today I'll give you the nuts and bolts of the card's creation.

I had the choice of working in the 1952 Bowman or the 1952 Topps format; I chose the latter.

Die-hard '52T fans might recognize the background as coming from the Al Widmar card, #133,  in the original set. That photo, by the way, was actually at least four years old when Topps used it, and it originally pictured Widmar in a St. Louis Browns uniform.

I encountered a bit of a bother in trying to find an autograph to use on the card front. After initially having no luck in an internet search, I contacted John Rumierz, a fellow creator of custom cards who specializes in players that Topps passed over in 1952. He emailed a scan of the autograph he'd used on his own '52T-style Marquez card.

As I was making final preparations to print my Marquez custom, however, I did another eBay sweep and found a Marquez signature on an index card, dated 1976. The autograph did not appear to have been in the same hand as the earlier acquired piece, even allowing for the evolution of Marquez's autograph over 25+ years.

After consultation with Rumierz, I decided to go with the 1976 version, since the seller had a quantity of similar index cards with vintage player signatures.

I also had to rethink my back copy. I had originally written the biographical sketch with specific mention of Marquez's Puerto Rican League and Negro National League stats. In the back of my mind, however, those details didn't jibe with my recollection of what Topps' original writers had done with the card backs in 1952.

So I did a search of the backs of black and Latino ballplayers cards in 1952 Topps and confirmed that winter league experience was totally ignored and the Negro Leagues were relegated to "semi-pro" status, if mentioned at all.

I rewrote the back of my card to more closely conform to the 1952 Topps style. 

In my research I also noticed for the first time that Topps' copywriters often used numerals -- 2, 3, 5, etc., -- instead of spelling out small numbers. I had not conformed to that convention in my earlier 1952 Topps-style customs, but did so for this one. Topps writers also overused capitalization of nouns on many card backs in 1952, but I won't be adhering to that style.

You might be surprised to learn that this is actually my second custom card of Luis Marquez.

Back around 1982 I used my collection of Braves photos to create a 1953 Boston/Milwaukee Braves collectors' card set, my first venture into custom cards. I sold a hundred or more of the sets in Sports Collectors DigestBaseball Cards magazine, etc., then sold the printing materials to Larry Fritsch, who reissued the set in 1983, on the 30th anniversary of the Braves move to Milwaukee.

Earlier, Marquez had been in the 1972 Puerto Rican League stickers set as a coach with Mayaguez.

I don't have the checklist at hand, but I believe Marquez was also included in Ed Broder's 1970s "popcorn" set of P.C.L. players of the 1950s-1960s.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Luis Marquez subject of '52T-style custom

After spending 1952 with the Milwaukee Brewers, Luis
Marquez was in spring training with the Milwaukee
Braves at Bradenton, Fla., when this photo was taken.
For many years I had a special fascination with Luis Marquez.

I first became aware of him in the very early 1980s when I bought a group of 33 black-and-white 8x10 glossies of Boston Braves players. Those photos were taken at spring training in 1953 when the Braves were transitioning from Boston to Milwaukee; all the players are shown in their Boston caps.

Most of the players I recognized from their baseball cards of the 1950s . . . a couple of the photos were  even the ones used on cards.

One player I didn't recognize, however, was identified on back as Luis Marquez. In subsequent years I learned all I could about Marquez -- at least prior to the days of, and my acquisition of Sporting News microfilms.

Marquez had begun playing pro ball at age 18 in the winter Puerto Rican League. He was Rookie of the Year in the 1944-45 season with the Mayaguez Indians.

He led the league in 1945-46 with 10 triples. The following season he topped the circuit with 27 doubles, 14 home runs and 69 runs scored. He also led the league in stolen bases in 1947-48 (20) and 1948-49 (29), the year Mayaguez won the PRL championship.

While playing in his native Puerto Rico during the winters, Marquez also played three seasons in the Negro National League. He was with the Baltimore Elite Giants (by the way, did you know that Negro Leagues teams with Elite in their names generally pronounced it "ee-light"?) and the Homestead Grays in 1946. In 1947 he led the league with a .341 average for Homestead. He was playing for Homestead in 1948 when the league folded and his contract reverted to the Elite Giants, which joined the Negro American League.

Marquez became a sought-after commodity among major league teams, with both the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians courting him during the winter of 1948-49.

In late November, Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck paid Seeford Posey, secretary of the defunct Grays, $25,000 for a 120-day option on Marquez's contract. Meanwhile, the New York Yankees paid the Baltimore $10,000 for Marquez's contract; half down and half if he made the roster of their AAA International League team at Newark. Marquez was the first black player ever signed by the Yankees organization.

On March 14, 1949, Marquez reported to Newark's spring training site at Haines City, Fla. When Newark opened the IL season on April 21, Marquez was in the Bears' lineup, along with Panamanian Negro second baseman Frankie Austin.

A sportswriter described Marquez as “fleet-footed, has a fine throwing arm, covers a wide range of territory in center field and has a great competitive temperament.”

Newark manager Buddy Hassett was looking for Marquez to hit around .280, noting that when he had left the Puerto Rican League to join Newark in spring training he had been batting .330.

Marquez’ stated goal with Newark was to play well enough to get a spring training tryout with the Yankees for 1950. 

In an unprecedented ruling in early May, however, Commissioner Albert B. Chandler ruled that Cleveland’s option on Marquez was valid when New York bought him from the Elite Giants. Chandler ordered New York and Cleveland to make a trade, the Indians’ Artie Wilson for the Yankees’ Luis Marquez.  

In 18 games with Newark, Marquez was batting .246 with a homer and three stolen bases.

Devastated at being taken from the Yankees' organization, Marquez threatened to return to Puerto Rico, but Veeck was able to persuade him to report to Portland in the Pacific Coast League. 

Marquez finished the season with the Beavers batting at a .294 clip. He had 32 stolen bases and no doubt would have contended for the PCL lead if he'd been there for the league's complete 187-game season. Marquez did take the steals title in 1950, with 38 swipes. He also led the league with 19 triples and hit .311.

In the Rule 5 draft after the 1950 season, the Boston Braves claimed Marquez. The Braves had visions of creating the fastest outfield in the majors by pairing Marquez with Sam Jethroe. If nothing else, the addition of another black player gave Jethroe a roommate on the road. 

Major league competition was too fast for the speedy Marquez, however, and he was never able to earn a regular spot in the Braves' lineup. He appeared in 68 games, often used as a pinch-runner. He hit only .196 and just 4-for-8 in stealing bases.

The Braves returned Marquez to the minors for 1952. He was integral to the Milwaukee Brewers' winning the American Association championship in '52, batting .345 (third-best in the league) with 14 HR and 99 RBI. 

Marquez played with the Braves' top farm
club at Toledo in 1953-54.
When the Braves moved their AAA club to Toledo for 1953, Marquez once again teamed with Sam Jethroe as the Sox again won the AA title. 

In the Rule 5 draft, the Cubs claimed Marquez for 1954. In six weeks he batted just .083 with Chicago, who traded him to the Pirates in mid-June. Marquez fared little better with Pittsburgh, batting .111 before the Bucs turned him back to the Braves and he was once again sent to Toledo. He never returned to the majors. 

Marquez continued to play in the high minors through the 1963 season. In 1959 with Dallas, he led the American Association with a .345 batting mark.

He remained active in Puerto Rican League ball, playing some 20 seasons in all. He retired as the league's all-time leader in hits (1,206), runs (768) and doubles (235). After his professional playing days, he served as a coach. The municipal baseball stadium in his home town of Aguadilla, Estadio Luis A. Canena Márquez, is named for him.

In 1988, during a family dispute, he was fatally shot by his son-in-law.

Now that I've presented the reasons why I've chosen to create a custom card of Luis Marquez, I'll have to wait until Monday to give you the nuts and bolts of the card's creation.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Enshrinees were no-show at 1947 Hall of Fame induction

I'm sure there was a backstory behind it, and I'll probably find it if and when I get around to reading the 1947 Sporting News microfilm, but I was surprised to learn that the four players whom the baseball writers elected to the Hall of Fame in 1947 were no-shows at the induction ceremonies.

Frank Frisch, Lefty Grove, Carl Hubbell and Mickey Cochrane had been selected by the Baseball Writers Association of America, but on a hot July 21 at Cooperstown, they were nowhere to be seen.

There had been some confusion about balloting and eligibility of both players and voters in the immediately preceding years. Perhaps the 1947 electees had felt they deserved earlier selection. It was Hubbell's third year of eligibility, Grove's fourth, and the sixth try for Frisch and Cochrane.

The only new inductee on hand for the 1947 ceremonies was Ed Walsh, who had been selected the previous year by a special old-timers committee.

To register their pique at the players' snub, only 121 of the 300 eligible writers cast a Hall of Fame ballot in 1948.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

All-Star mementos for 1950 varied by league

For his participation in the 1950 All-Star Game, Joe DiMaggio
chose a silver cigarette box from among the mementos offered
to American League players.

            The 1950 All-Star Game, won 4-3 by the National League on a Red Schoendienst home run in the top of the 14th inning, was the longest All-Star Game to that point in baseball history.
            Besides being the first A-S contest to go into extra innings, the 17th midsummer classic played at Comiskey Park set a new high in ticket-take of $126,179.51 on an attendance of 46,127.
            Baseball writers and fans called it the most exciting All-Star Game in the history of the extravaganza.
            Among the post-game coverage in the July 19 Sporting News, I spotted an interesting sidebar detailing the mementos received by the players.
            According to the article, American League players had a choice of four trophies to mark their participation. It was reported that 80% of the American Leaguers chose a clock-barometer, though they also had their choice of a sterling silver ice bucket, a sterling silver cigarette box or a watch.
            The National League at that time had a “sliding scale” of trophies for its players, depending on how many All-Star Games they been had selected for.
As a second-time All-Star in 1950, Jackie Robinson received
an engraved plaque from the National League.
            First-time All-Stars received a gold watch. Two-time participants got a plaque. Third-year All-Stars received a silver cigarette box. The fourth time was good for a gold tie clasp. Five-time All-Stars were given a gold belt buckle. Appearing a sixth time was worth a silver pocket cigarette case, while a seven-time player was awarded a gold cigarette lighter. The prevalence of cigarette smoking accouterments was an interesting reflection of the culture of the times.
            The National League had a special situation in 1950, when Boston Braves catcher Walker Cooper appeared in his eighth All-Star Game. He was asked what he would like as a memento. He asked for, and received, a suitably engraved shotgun.
            Ted Williams also got a special remembrance of the 1950 game . . . a cast for his left elbow, which he broke in the first inning crashing into the left field wall chasing down a Ralph Kiner blast. Despite the injury, Williams continued in the game until the top of the ninth inning, by which time he had delivered the hit that put the A.L. into a 3-2 lead that they held until Kiner’s homer tied it in the ninth.
            With Williams out of action until Sept. 7 after his elbow was operated on, the Red Sox finished third in the A.L.
The 1950 All-Star Game in Chicago set a
record for ticket sales receipts.