Tuesday, January 24, 2006

January 24th, 1913

Frank Navin Complains About Length of Games

Frank Navin was the Tigers' President from 1908 (when he bought into the franchise with money reportedly won in a card game) until his death in a horse riding accident in 1935. Tiger Stadium was known as Navin Field in honor of the man from 1912 when it opened until 1938 when new owner Walter Briggs named the stadium after himself.

Navin's complaint--this seems laughable now--was that games were often exceeding two hours in length. Just as everyone has a theory today for why games often top three hours (pitching changes, pick-off throws, too many TV commercials) lots of people had theories for why games lasted so long in the teens. Navin, however, might've won the award for the wackiest. According to him, games were moving too slowly because of the coaches’ boxes. Navin claimed that the boxes were too close to the catchers. This was causing the delay, you see, because the catchers had to make a determined effort to decoy their signs, otherwise the coaches could see them and relay the coming pitch to the batter.

So far as I know, Navin's idea attracted little notice and no action towards moving the coaching boxes. But next time you're sitting at home, watching the minutes tick by with only limited action and your buddies start giving their pet reason why the game is too long, give a shout out back to Frank Navin and explain how much faster the game would be if they would only move those damn coaching boxes.

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