The Wartime baseball

April 5th, 2014

newspaper clip

The last time the Reds opened the season with 4 1 run games the ball and its makeup was suddenly questioned.

In April of 1943 the Reds General Manager Warren Giles was perturbed by a slew of low scoring games to start of the Reds season.

In the first seven games of the season the Reds had scored 13 runs and their opponents 9. The Cardinals scored 14 runs and their opponents 10 in their first seven games. Giles could probably see where this was leading, in an already war depressed economy entertainment was important. As we all know in baseball entertainment usually means offense. Citing the war time replacement cement glue used in the balls as the fault for their lack of buoyancy Giles spearheaded a drive to get the spring back in the ball before the fans fled.

To remedy this Major League Baseball immediately authorized the use of balls in storage from the prior year, a controversy occurred when the Dodgers got a hold of the 1942 balls before the rest of the league, scoring 11 runs in the first contest that they used the balls.

The cost of a game – 100 years ago

December 8th, 2013

Winter is coming and it’s during these darker days that I like to read more literary baseball prose, for that pleasure I always have a few Roger Angell books laying around for quick perusals. His work “Season Ticket” provides a wonderful tidbit about an older baseball fan… something we’ll all be one day. This piece gives great detail into the world of one hundred years ago and allows us to look into the world of 1913 big league ball.

We find the letter in the chapter titled, Top Missouri.

Back in June I received a stimulating letter from a 92 year old baseball fan named Joe Ryan, of Yountville California. Who write to tell me about a trip he made to New York City in October of 1913 to take in the opening game of the 1913 World Series between the Giants and the Philadelphia Athletics. He was twenty years old that fall and was working at an insurance firm in Hartford, at a salary of fifteen dollars per week., but he a colleague named Dave were Giant fanatics and impulsively determined to attend the classic. Mr. Ryan’s letter was wonderfully precise, conveying not only the news of the sport, but a careful accounting of every penny disbursed during the long ago two-day outing.

  • Railroad fares for two – $4.40
  • Room at Mills Hotel
  • $0.80 (2 nights at $0.40)
  • Restaurants (Childs Restaurants)
  • $0.25 – Breakfast
  • Restaurants (Childs Restaurants) $1.00 (each) – Dinner (Fried Oysters)
  • Hotdog Lunches – $0.40
  • Transportation – $0.20 (Nickel rides on elevate train)
  • Game Tickets – $1.00 (Each)
  • Lagniappe – $0.50 (Tip to Wino for guiding them to a box office with game tickets)
  • Theater tickets – $1.00 each to see Jane Cowel in Within the Law
  • 3 Cigars – $0.25 Unsure of this but could have been a Blackstone Cigar

Total $13.05 in 1913

Today’s cost breakdown:

  • Railroad fares for two – $102.32
  • Room at Mills Hotel – $18.60
  • Restaurants (Childs Restaurants) $5.81 – Breakfast
  • Restaurants (Childs Restaurants) $23.25 (each) – Dinner (Fried Oysters)
  • Hotdog Lunches – $9.30
  • Transportation – $4.65
  • Game Tickets – $23.25 (Each)
  • Lagniappe – $11.63 (Tip to Wino for guiding them to a box office with game tickets)
  • Theater tickets – $23.25 each to see Jane Cowel in Within the Law
  • 3 Cigars – $5.81 Unsure of this but could have been a Blackstone Cigar

Total $297.62 in 2011

The items in his detailed list are a great source of a bygone age, a quick look at them take us back to an age that the game was the biggest thing in sports, yet so much smaller than it is today. There are seeds of thing in New York that are gone, yet still there.

Tho get into town the boys would have had to take the New Haven railroad to the city, New Haven at the time was one of the centers of the Insurance business, The trip into town would have come to a halt at Grand Central Terminal, this would have been a treat as the Terminal had just finished a ten year rehab that made it the premier station in the country, if not the world.

The Mills Hotel was built as a Hostel for poor men and was a open in the evening only building, this was done to encourage visitors to seek work. Only one building remains and can be found on the campus of NYU.

During their visit their food was simple and designed for the everyday New Yorker, for dining the pairs choice was Child’s one of the nations first chain restaurants, they possessed a varied and cheap menu in a large and spacious setting, known for its cleanliest in an age of taverns and saloons, plus to this day you can still find their buildings in the city.

It’s a great testament to the enduring love some have for the game, a love that gets them to follow it, to chronicle it, to treasure it with memories and words.

It’s ironic that 100 years later both teams still compete on the big stage, as they both now live on the other coast and share a marketplace and still do battle to one up the other.