Archive for May, 2010

The day Cincinnati changed the game

Monday, May 24th, 2010


70 years ago today the Reds.. yes the Cincinnati Reds pulled the national pastime out of the small minded day game only mind think and dragged them (albeit kicking and screaming) into the day and age of night games, image that… games that guys who didn’t work swing shift could make, games that didn’t start at 3 in the afternoon allowing men to actually go home and eat dinner prior to taking his wife to the game.

Everyone knows the story, Powell Crosley, lights, Larry MacPhail, Reds in need of revenue, almost moved out of the city (no destination was ever revealed, though the Cardinals considered the same to Detroit or Toronto)

It was great day, a day late due to a rain out but a great day indeed.

Six facts about night baseball you did not know.

1. The AL wanted no part of it, so the vote ws only centered on the NL’s involvement.

2. A near unanimous vote allowed it, dissenting vote was Charles Stoneham of the Giants

3. The need was great as the whole league except the World Champion Cardinals had lost money in 1934

4. The feat was easier for the Reds due to Crosley’s radio business. His connections to a company in Kentucky that manufactured radio tubes for his Crosley radio line enabled him to have the massive light bulb order for the banks of lights done a cheaper rate than other teams could have secured.

5. The Reds spent $62,000 installing the 363 lights on eight giant towers above the grandstand which, when the President switched them on, poured more than 1,000,000 watts down on his field

6. The 20 K that did attend the game represented a 900% increase over the average attendance for the Reds

The 1st reactions – HOF ump Bill Klem: “Batters struck at more bad balls than they have in any other game I’ve seen this year.”
Reporter Stanley Frank in the New York Evening Post: “The personalities and faces of the players were lost in the haze. . . . The game became purely mechanical and synthetic.” Pitcher Sylvester Johnson of Philadelphia: “I missed my usual steak dinner. I know I can get it after the game but who wants to eat a big steak and then go to bed?”

Afte the game new NL president Ford Frick was quoted, I am quite impressed … I see no handicap to the players … I’m not sure that the attendance is due to the novelty … I believe we will have more of it in 1936.

Cardinal owner Sam Breadon had lobbied for lights in his town as well, he however rented the park from the AL Browns, who were locked out of the decision by the powers in their league. However Breadon was convinced it was going to be successful saying that he foresaw the Cardinals, Pirates and the Cubs playing home games beneath the lights sooner than later.

Well 2 out of 3 is not bad.

Dipping into the Reds past – 100 years ago today

Monday, May 24th, 2010

One of the best things about the game and being a fan of the history of the game is seeing the acts of years ago pop up in the “This day in history” column in the paper, these always make me do a little more digging and often I find little items that teach me about the game and the way it was in past.

This tid-bit from 100 years ago today drew my attention and actually pushed me towards the keyboard, an act that seems to have been more dormant than usual lately. Of course when we look at the game 100 years ago we are looking at a dinosaur almost in comparison to the game we see today on our plasma screen tv’s and smart phones, but in essence it’s the same animal, obtain bases, score runs, avoid outs. Thus we are thrown into 1910.

In an era that was marked by putting the ball in play Reds outfielders Dode Paskert and Bob Beschler were noted for their ability to take a walk, with both men placing in the top three of walks received during the second decade of the 20th century.


WALKS                           BB     
1    Dode Paskert                584   
2    Miller Huggins              572   
3    Bob Bescher                 537   
4    Gavvy Cravath               494   
5    Larry Doyle                 491   
6    Johnny Evers                486   
7    Max Carey                   482   
8    Sherry Magee                481   
9    George Burns                475   
10   Ed Konetchy                 446  

As well as stolen bases


STOLEN BASES                    SB     
1    Max Carey                   392   
2    Bob Bescher                 360   
3    George Burns                293   
4    Buck Herzog                 286   
5    Fred Merkle                 260   
6    Larry Doyle                 236   
T7   George Cutshaw              227   
T7   Dode Paskert                227   
9    Fred Snodgrass              204   
10   Sherry Magee                203   

Which brings us to 100 years ago 5-23-1910

The Reds were a team with little power, the game then was a game that depended on other things aside from power, one of them was the stolen base, and in 1910 no team in all of professional ball stole more bags than the Cincinnati Reds, who swiped 310 a number that still stands at the modern day team record.

The top ten that year.

STOLEN BASES                    SB     
1    Bob Bescher                  70   
2    Dode Paskert                 51   
T3   Hans Lobert                  41   
T3   Dick Egan                    41   
5    Mike Mitchell                35   
6    Doc Hoblitzell               28   
7    Tom Downey                   12   
8    Ward Miller                  10   
9    Tommy McMillan                7   
10   Art Phelan                    5 

With large numbers of steals you get moments of pure action, defining moments that can still be recalled 100 years later.


5-5 tie Boston at Cincinnati, the Doves as they were called then were battling the Superbas for last place. Meanwhile the Reds were a half a game out of first and one of the surprises of the early part of the season. Rooters Row was likely filled with the many single men who favored a drink on a Monday afternoon while at a game, and with the drink came a barrage of opinions that were hurled with candor through a veneer of chicken wire that separated the patrons form the playing field.

The thing about baseball is sometimes you wait hours to see something you’ve never seen, or days, or weeks. Ina one game sometimes it occurs before you’ve even gotten to your seat. In this case it occurs in the first inning.


Dode Paskert who at age 23 ( Dode was really 28 and had shaved 5 years off his birth when he entered pro ball) had finally etched himself into the lineup as a full timer gets on base. What he does next before many of the local streetcars had dropped off the local bugs, likely all clad in the black wool of the day, or dressed more casually with a straw boater and a glint in their eye for some first place baseball. Paskert lead off first as the pitcher Sam Frock looked into the catchers eyes, what he preceded to do next is a pure act of dead ball inventiveness, guile and awareness of a larger margin of error in the game than we can even imagine today.

In short Paskert stole 2nd, 3rd and then home to tie the game. Of course the games box score doesn’t indicate who was at the dish for each theft, or if it was just Doc Hoblitzell (1st Red to steal 4 bags in a game) or if Mike Mitchell (1st Red to hit for the cycle) was up, these things are lost in the clouds.

And like that it was over, the fans settled in for a game that was won in the last inning by the local team and everyone went home happy, Dode Paskert unbeknownst to him had logged an odd record, however he was not the first Red to do it, nor the last. Teammate Hans Lobert was the first and the last would be Pro Football Hall of Famer Greasy Neale.

I’ve never seen anyone steal their way around the bases, but Jason Werth accomplished the feat last year. It’s been done 24 times in the American League, 4 times by Ty Cobb and the last time it was done by Chris Stynes in 1996. In the NL it’s been done 25 times with Honus Wagner also logging 4 occurrences.

Back to the Reds, two instances of the occurrence stand out the most in the NL’s records, 68% of the 3 steals in one inning feat took place prior to 1929, between 1929 and 1979 no player in the NL achieved the feat (in the AL only 3 times did they have it occur in the same time span)

Most of baseball agreed that it looked to be an event that needed a speedster assigned to it if anyone wanted to see it in a modern day game, but then again the game is always throwing us curves and the man to kick the record book open to get in the 3 steals in one inning book got in on 5-11-1980 when Pete Rose of the Phillies did it against the Reds, a day after Tom Seaver and Steve Carleton squared off. In short it was a good series to catch some history.

PHILLIES 7TH: Rose walked; Rose stole second; McBride grounded
out (shortstop to first); Rose stole third; Schmidt walked; Rose
stole home and Schmidt stole second; Luzinski was walked
intentionally; Boone lined to left; Gross grounded out (first to
pitcher); 1 R, 0 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Phillies 6, Reds 1.

The next time a player did it was also against the Reds in 1984, this one I remember.

GIANTS 3RD: Gladden singled; LeMaster singled [Gladden to
second]; Oliver singled [Gladden scored, LeMaster scored (error
by Parker) (no RBI), Oliver to third]; Leonard grounded out
(shortstop to first); Baker singled [Oliver scored]; Baker stole
second; Youngblood grounded out (shortstop to first); Brenly
and Brenly stole second; Baker stole home; Wellman struck out; 4
R (3 ER), 4 H, 1 E, 1 LOB. Reds 0, Giants 5.

Kinda makes you smile eh?