“Catfish,” “Blue Moon,” and “Pussyface(?)”

Featured image In my baseball history post yesterday, I mentioned two Kansas City pitchers with great nicknames: Jim “Catfish” Hunter and John “Blue Moon” Odom. If you got the impression that K.C. owner Charlie Finley liked pitchers with colorful nicknames, you are right. Hunter says “Catfish” was a nickname Finley bestowed on him. The pitcher recalled: [Finley] told me, “A player’s got to have a nickname,” and he asked me what I »

This day in baseball history — a wild one in Boston

Featured image To baseball fans of a certain age, 1967 will also be remembered for “The Impossible Dream” — the rise of the Boston Red Sox from ninth place in 1966 to first place the following season. In late April, though, I doubt anyone was having that dream. More likely, Boston’s most optimistic fans were just hoping to beat out the two doormat teams that had finished ahead of them in ’66 »

A reform baseball doesn’t need

Featured image Baseball will implement a new, experimental rule this season in the very low minor leagues. When a game goes into extra innings, each extra half inning will begin with a runner on second base. This, of course, will make it easier for teams to score in extra innings and thus make it more likely that games will end sooner. How much more likely and how much sooner will be revealed »

This day in baseball history: A coup for the Cardinals

Featured image On December 8, 1966, the St. Louis Cardinals obtained home run king Roger Maris from the New York Yankees in exchange for Charlie Smith. The trade completed a nifty two-step. First, as discussed here, St. Louis acquired Orlando Cepeda to fill the void (and then some) that Bill White had left at first base. Then, by getting Maris, they filled the void at third base left by Ken Boyer, moving »

Gabby, Ernie, and Hack: All-time best Chicago Cubs

Featured image The Chicago Cubs are in the World Series for the first time since 1945. If they win, it will be the first time since 1908. As Cubs announcer Jack Brickhouse used to say, any team can have a bad century. Before naming an all-time Cubs team, let me note, as several readers reminded me, that it was a Dartmouth man, Kyle Hendricks, who won the game that put Chicago in »

Shoeless Joe, Sudden Sam, and Rapid Robert: All-time best Cleveland Indians

Featured image This year’s World Series pits the Cleveland Indians against the Chicago Cubs. The Indians have not won a World Series since before I was born. The Cubs haven’t played in a World Series since before I was born. And they haven’t won one since before my father was born. The bad news is that these facts will continue to give rise to a lot of rubbish about “curses.” The good »

The NFL rules in Washington, D.C.

Featured image I wrote here about the decline in the television ratings of the National Football League so far this season. The decline is relative, though. NFL ratings are still excellent. The appeal of the NFL’s product was evident yesterday in the Washington, D.C. metro area when the following sports events were competing for viewers: (1) a regular season football game between the Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Ravens and (2) a »

This day in baseball history — Orioles complete sweep of Dodgers

Featured image Today in baseball, the Washington Nationals climbed back into their playoff series against the Los Angeles Dodgers with a 5-2 victory that left both teams with one win. Switch-hitting backup catcher Jose Lobaton hit a three-run homer for the Nats. It was only his second hit of the season batting right-handed. This day fifty years ago was much worse for the Dodgers. They lost 1-0 to the Baltimore Orioles, enabling »

This day and yesterday in baseball history

Featured image While the 1966 Los Angeles Dodgers were edging San Francisco and Pittsburgh in a pennant race that wasn’t decided until the last day of the season, the Baltimore Orioles were cruising to the American League pennant. By Labor Day they led second place Detroit by 10.5 games. They finished 9 games ahead of second place Minnesota after the Twins beat them in three of the final four meaningless games. The »

Orioles go down with their worst

Featured image The Washington Senators took a 6-4 lead into the seventh inning of Game 7 of the 1925 World Series. But they lost the game, and the series, when the Pittsburgh Pirates scored five runs in the next two innings off of 36 year-old Walter Johnson, the starting pitcher. Manager Bucky Harris refused to pull Johnson, arguably the greatest pitcher ever. Ban Johnson, the president of the American League who lived »

This day in baseball history — The Dodgers win pennant on final day

Featured image When we last looked in on the 1966 pennant race, it was mid-September. The Los Angeles Dodgers had overcome a mediocre August and moved into first place, two and half games ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates and three ahead of the San Francisco Giants. In the second half of September, the Dodgers maintained their lead, but couldn’t shake the competition. When Sandy Koufax beat the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1 on »

This day in baseball history — The Dodgers consolidate their lead

Featured image When we last visited the 1966 National League pennant race, the Dodgers had surged into first place on the strength of four consecutive shutout wins against the Houston Astros. As of the end of play on September 11, they led the Pittsburgh Pirates by one game and the San Francisco Giants by two. Four days later, as the Dodgers began a three game series with the Pirates, their lead was »

This day in baseball history: Dodgers hurl their way into first

Featured image Throughout the summer of 1966, the Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, and Los Angeles Dodgers battled for first place in the National League. We’ve peeked in once on this great pennant race. During most of the summer, the Dodgers were in third place but almost always within two, or at worst three, games of the lead. Heading into the weekend of September 9-11, they were still in third, a game »

This day in baseball history: A tie atop the National League

Featured image At the close of play on Sunday August 6, 1966, three teams were virtually tied for first place in the National League. Two of them, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants, were in familiar territory. Winners collectively of three of the last four NL pennants, they had battled for dominance during most of the entire decade. The third team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, had been little heard from »

This day in baseball history [UPDATED]

Featured image Just like this year, the 1966 all-star game was played on July 12. The venue was brand new Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The National League of the 1960s probably was as good a league as baseball has ever produced. During the decade, the National League’s record in all-star games was 12-1 (there were two all-star games in the first three years of the decade). The superiority of the National »

Vin Scully calls socialism foul

Featured image Vin Scully retires at the end of this season, his sixty-seventh year doing what nobody has ever done better. Among other things, he has made some classic calls in the course of a glorious broadcasting career. He may not have ever made a better one than he did during Friday night’s Dodgers-Brewers game (video below): “Socialism, failing to work as it always does. This time in Venezuela. You talk about »

Last month in baseball history — the most important trade of the ’60s? [UPDATED]

Featured image On May 8, 1966, the St. Louis Cardinals obtained slugging first baseman Orlando Cepeda from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for left-handed pitcher Ray Sadecki. I was out of the country on the anniversary of the deal, but don’t want to miss the opportunity to commemorate what was arguably the most consequential baseball trade of the decade. To understand the deal, we need to look back to 1964 when »