Mamie Johnson remembers mid-fifties life on the road for the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro leagues, in Michelle Y. Green’s first-person biography, A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie “Peanut” Johnson:

Sometimes that raggedy old bus would break down and we’d wear our muscles out before the game pushing it uphill. And we never knew if we had enough gas to make it from place to place, ’cause some of the towns we stopped in had “Whites-Only” gas pumps. That never made sense to me. Seems like if folks were so anxious to get rid of colored folks, they’d want to give us the gas we needed to get on down the road. (p. 86)


Filip Bondy’s piece about using video to apply an equalizing scale to home runs, irrespective of peculiar ballpark topography, warrants a dubious achievement award for a lede that promises something the story doesn’t deliver:

Spoiler alert: If you wish to continue enjoying gargantuan home runs in the future with unspoiled pleasure, free of all polynomial equations, read no further. If you persist, however, then there is much math to consider.

Continue on, dear reader, but you will find nary an exponent—indeed, not even any arithmetic.

Ball mit Freystäten

Bryan Curtis talks to David Block, researcher of baseball’s origins. In the eighteenth century.

This is the great irony of English baseball. Historians once assumed it went unrecorded because it didn’t exist. But it’s just as likely the sport wasn’t written about because it was mostly the stuff of commoners. Baseball was everywhere. The newspapers didn’t cover it because it was so mundane.

Good on ya: 8

Scott Mortimer’s baseball card project is personal, unique, committed: he’s seeking a autograph for every card from the 1983 Fleer set. Of the run of 660 cards, he needs 99 more. He makes progress with many visits to ball parks, personal letters, trades with other collectors, and that enabler of obsessives everywhere, the internet.

[Mortimer] has made discoveries along the way. Ken Smith, a Braves first baseman, worked as a car dealer; Terry Felton, a Twins pitcher, as a captain in a sheriff’s office in Louisiana; Ben Hayes, a Reds pitcher, as the president of the New York/Penn League.

Biff Pocoroba — what a great name,” Mortimer said, referring to a Braves catcher. “You know what he does now? He owns a sausage company.”

As close as I’ll ever get to Ebbets

Via The Morning News, cartoon drawings by Gene Mack of the fourteen major league baseball stadiums of the 1946-47 seasons. So that’s what baseball in the Polo Grounds looked like.

Fourteen parks. But weren’t there sixteen teams? Yes, and the A’s (before they moved west) and Phillies shared Shibe Park, and the Cardinals and Browns (before they moved east to Baltimore) shared St. Louis’s Sportsman’s Park.

And actually, fifteen parks are portrayed, because the Indians were transitioning from League Park to Municipal Stadium.

Zelig backing up first base

Douglas Martin closes the book on Greg Goossen, C and 1B for the Mets and Seattle Pilots. A bright prospect who never starred, nonetheless Goossen’s name is attached to many incidents of baseball history in the 1960s, and he provided fodder for Jim Bouton’s Ball Four.

Bouton told of the time the two were on opposing International League teams and Goossen was catching. The batter bunted to the pitcher, and Goossen yelled, “First base! First base!” Instead the pitcher threw to second and everybody was safe.

As a disgusted Goossen stalked back to the plate, Bouton shouted from the dugout, “Goose, he had to consider the source.”