A few words about this blog…
I am writing today (and for the most part) from my home within site of where, in 1884, a major league baseball game was played with zero recorded attendance – the only game in history without fans. History records that, on Wednesday, September 10, 1884, the Wilmington Quicksteps lost to the eventual Union Association champs, the St. Louis Maroons, by 7-1. No trace of the ball field (“Wilmington Grounds”) remains; but it is comforting somehow to know that major league baseball was played, for seven days in September of 1884, in my backyard. Two days later, on September 12, 1884 (on what would become my birthday some 68 years later), the Quicksteps lost, 4-3, to the Baltimore Monumentals, dropped their season record to 2-16. When zero fans appeared for their next home game, it was called off, and the Quicksteps folded out of existence. As Casey Stengel would say, “you could look it up”. (For more on the Quicksteps, the link to Baseball Reference is: http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/WIL/1884-schedule-scores.shtml. Be sure to follow the further link to the Quicksteps’ highly-successful Eastern League season, where in 1884 they compiled a record of 50-12, before jumping to the Union Association.)
But I digress. My purpose in starting this home page, on Christmas Day 2015, is to link baseball’s past and glorious (and infamous) history with its turbulent changing present. For example, it is not possible to discuss whether Pete Rose deserves a place in the Hall of Fame, without discussing whether Joe Jackson deserves a spot as well. Or to suggest that Johnny Bench is the greatest catcher ever, as compared to his peers, and inexplicably fail to mention Josh Gibson, not only the best catcher by far, but quite possibly the best baseball player ever, period. Today baseball has become a truly international sport, with stars from not only the United States and Canada, but Cuba, the Dominican, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Japan, Korea, and even Australia.
My plan for the blog, such as it is, would be to match articles and references to historical topics, with commentary on issues pending today. In the Winter there is the “hot stove league”, but once pitchers and catchers report to training camp in late February, it is game on once again! I have one foot in baseball legends and the other in the days’ games. The same stathounds who give us a blizzard of metrics for today have been among those who have painstakingly tracked scorebook records for games played more than a century ago. So we can use statistics to compare ballplayers from different generations. And, using simulations, such as APBA Baseball, http://www.apbagames.com/apabaseball, match them up and play actual games.
I was never much of a ballplayer myself, but I loved to play, and have been watching major league games (and minor league games, and semi-pro games, as well as school teams, Babe Ruth, and Little League) for more than fifty years. And, as “Field of Dreams” reminded us, there is nothing better than a father-son catch. (For those who have not yet visited the field constructed in a cornfield for the movie, in Dyersville, Iowa, it is worth the trip to be there a twilight on a hot summer day, and to wait for the lights to come on, while playing a few innings with whoever shows up.) My three sons were much better at baseball than the old man – not that I set the bar particularly high! I hope I taught them a love for the game that will stay with them, and that they can pass on.
Nowadays I have to be mostly content with managing (and general-managing) the Dancing Bears (yes, as in the Grateful Dead, of course) of the Tri-State Fantasy Baseball League each Summer. The 2015 edition of the Bears were League playoff champs, in a competitive twelve-team race. I have been playing in this head-to-head league for seventeen years, and my fellow owners keep getting smarter, and devoting more and more time to the weekly lineup adjustments and pitching rotations, not to mention trades and drop/add transitions. It has been gratifying to match up and trash talk with several friends with whom I played Little League baseball a few decades back.
Just so everybody knows where I am coming from, I should mention that I have been a lifetime fan of the Philadelphia Phillies. Yeah, the team with the most losses ever – and the Champions in 1980 and 2008. Losers of 99 games in 2015; but on the rebound in a big way. I’m also a supporter of my hometown Wilmington Blue Rocks, who have been (for the most part) a farm club of the Kansas City Royals since the re-creation of the team in 1993. (The prior Blue Rocks – as in the local blue granite and, or course, diamonds – played in the Interstate League from 1940 until 1952.) And, in a somewhat detached sense, I’m a historical fan of the Philadelphia A’s, and the roller coaster ride of great (1910-1914; 1929-31) and awful (1915-21; 1935-43) teams in their history.
So, it’s about time to PLAY BALL. And. much like a game, this site is intended to be interactive, and I would welcome your reactions, comments, disagreements, contributions. I intend to provide links to my favorite sites and authors and source material – and of course to our fantasy league stats. I hope you enjoy and post and bug me and come back to enjoy the material here. I’ll endeavor to keep it current and provocative and not too serious. Thanks for listening.