Saturday, June 03, 2006

June 3rd, 1960

Lyonses Drafted

I did an entry earlier this year that was about, among other things, twins. When I was scanning the list of "Born-On" today, I noticed that both Steve and Barry Lyons were born on this day. However, unless their mother was on a rather fast-moving airplane at the time of birth, they aren't twins as Barry was born in Biloxi, Mississippi whereas Steve was born in Tacoma, Washington. (In the further bizarre files, Steve Lyons given first name is Stephen, which is also the middle name of Barry Lyons.)

Besides their birthday, the dual Lyons don't have too much in common. Barry Lyons spent all but a handful of games in his career in the National League, primarily with the Mets and Dodgers while Steve was in the AL for all but a handful, primarily with the Red and White Sox. Barry Lyons was a catcher and first baseman, never playing anywhere else in the field while Steve Lyons was mostly an outfielder but also saw time at second and third.

Barry Lyons is also largely forgotten, he was never a regular player and although he managed in the minors for a period and was also the General Manager of his hometown team, he's currently working to have Minor League Baseball included in rebuilding efforts of the region. Steve Lyons on the other hand was a regular for a few years and nicknamed "Psycho," and famous for once dropping his pants on the field in an attempt to get some dirt out of them. Today he works for Fox as a broadcaster and occasional studio analyst.

On June 3rd every year, however, they have something in common. Happy Birthday, guys.

Friday, June 02, 2006

June 2nd, 1987

Pete Harnisch Drafted

On days, like today, when I'm tempted to do a repeat, a big factor in the decision is often what quality of blog I did on the day last year. Since my blog on Pete Harnisch is one I'm generally fond of--and I'm pretty wiped out from my day--I'm going to take the easy way out, and do a repeat.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

June 1st, 1909

Jo-Jo White Born

My chief proofreader (who, in her spare time, is also my mother) has lately been giving me grief on account of my new-found fondness for the hyphen. See? I used one just then. Love those hyphens; even if I only use them correctly one time in ten. In her honor today, we have Jo-Jo White whose name, and BaseballReference has my back here, really was hyphenated. (And, in case you were wondering, short for "Joyner.")

White--no relation to the Jo-Jo White who played for the Boston Celtics in the 70s--was a mediocre outfielder for the Tigers in the 30s, lasting seven seasons as a back-up and sometime starter. He picked good times to be the starter, however, manning center for the Tigers in their pennant winning 1934 campaign and again for the World Series winners in 1935. White was never much of a hitter, slugging just .328 for his career, although he once hit as high as .312 in a season.

After the 1938 season, the Tigers traded White (along with a handful of others) to the Seattle franchise of the Pacific Coast League in exchange for Fred Hutchinson who would have some good years in Detroit. White toiled in the minor leagues, hyphenated name and all, for several years. He was rewarded in 1943 when, on account of many of the better players off fighting the war, he returned to the Majors for the A's as one of their starting outfielders. He lasted another half season in Philly in 1944 and was then sent to the Reds where he saw limited action, the last of his Major League career. He died in 1986.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

May 31st, 1869

Rain Out

There wasn't a lot of baseball being played professionally in 1869. There wasn't, truth be told, a lot of baseball being played at all in 1869. Nonetheless, there were professional games and being that the game was largely limited to the northeast in those days, it was inevitable that a rain-out would at some point occur; the northeast sadly lacking the kind of perpetually sunny weather that cities like San Diego are lucky enough to have. (Not to mention that domed stadiums, to say nothing of a retractable roof, were yet a few years off).

According to legend--and it might be legend, given that much of the early history of the game basically is--today's titular rainout was first ever in baseball history. The Red Stockings were scheduled to take on the Antioch Nine (I'm working under the assumption that's not the ancient city of Antioch, located in modern Turkey but who really knows with early baseball) only to discover that the skies had opened, making the game unplayable.

There's no record if this game was then rescheduled into baseball's first ever make-up double header, but that's ok; we can hopefully all watch our favorite team play in nice sunny weather and think back to first time two teams ever walked out and said "Aw, nuts, we can't play in this."

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

May 30th, 1926

Dixie Upright Born

Although some of you may not believe this, I very rarely set out with the goal of having a "funny baseball names" day. Some days, however, are just chock full of funny baseball names, and what can I do but spread the word? Dixie Upright--which sounds like the answer to the question "what would you get if the South really did rise again?"--was not much of a ballplayer, appearing in just nine games in 1953. But that was enough for him to join the ranks of the twelve other "Dixie"s that have played in the Big Leagues, although none since 1958.

Other good names today, all flash in the pan players, include Burley Byers, who died today in 1933, and who apparently was actually named "Burley," having changed it from his given name of Christopher. Byers wasn’t even really a flash in the pan; although he appeared in just one game, he went hitless which kindof rules out the possibility of creating a flash, doesn't it?

My favorite name today, however, belongs to another one-game player. Howard "Twink" Twining appeared in a game for the Reds in 1916 giving up three runs in two innings and never appeared again. But he's in the Encyclopedia forever and with any luck someday my self-created tongue-twister that "Twink Twining Twirls Tops To Topeka" will spread around the world, furthering his legend and mine.

Monday, May 29, 2006

May 29th, 1950

Psychologist Quits

That would be the St. Louis Browns' team shrink who quit, citing a lack of cooperation from the players. Sports psychology was not quite in vogue as much those days as it is these--I've even had a class in it and the closest I've come to playing competitive sports lately is racing against the clock to get these blogs out before midnight.

Frankly, the Browns could've been a bit more cooperative, given they had lost 101 games in 1949 and would go onto to lose 96 in 1950 (in the midst of a streak of losing at least ninety games a season from 1947 to 1955). Obviously whatever they were doing in the batting cage and during their bullpen sessions wasn't working, so a little time on the couch couldn't have hurt.

As it turned out, the Browns decided to employ a different kind of psychological tactic in 1952 when they hired Rogers Hornsby and all the delightful deficient aspects of his personality to manage the club. Hornsby guided the club to nearly a .500 record in his first managing job in fifteen years but quit (or was fired) in mid June. Obviously, whether from an MD or a Hall of Famer, those Browns didn't take to psychological warfare.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

May 28th, 1905

Sunday Baseball Halted

Appropriately enough for a Sunday, we have this story. I think I've mentioned this before, but for a long time in the history of the game--at least the first thirty or so years--whether or not teams could (or should) schedule games on the Sabbath was a hot topic. These days it's a no-brainer, since more fans can come out to Sunday afternoon games (and the one Sunday night ESPN game) than might be able to on a weekday. This was equally true in the early days of the game, of course, but back then they took the Sabbath a bit more seriously. (Maybe I should start doing that so I only have to update six days a week.)

Anyway, the headline refers only to New York City, where the police commissioner ordered his men to arrest anyone found playing baseball. This not only led to the cancellation of a scheduled game between the Giants and Brooklyn franchise (in those days known as the Superbas) but nearly got "Iron Man" Joe McGinnity arrested. McGinnity was set to make a little extra money pitching for a semi-pro team (not an unusual occurrence in those days) but when he arrived at the site of the game, he got into an argument about how much he was due for his day of work. After much arguing McGinnity steadfastly refused to put on a uniform and play the game.

As it turned out, this would serve him well. Soon after, police officers arrived and began to arrest all the players. The players were easy to identify, naturally, because they were the ones in uniform. McGinnity, still in his street clothes (and glad of it, one imagines) was able to slip away unnoticed. Not having spent any time in jail, McGinnity pitched two days later for the Giants and won the first game of the double-header needed to make up for the cancelled Sunday game.

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