- So what’s really the difference between arabica and robusta?
- Sustainable baseball bats.
- The monster pear tree, featuring my teacher Carole Bergmann.
- Alexei Lubimov plays C.P.E. Bach on a tangent piano.
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)
Clyde Haberman gets relative about baseball.
Oh yeah, what about Maris hitting his 61 in a longer season than Ruth had, and at a time when pitching strength was diluted by major league expansion?
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.
Zach Schonbrun laments something else that has gone missing from modern baseball: the distinctive batting stance.
TIL an infielder must be positioned in fair territory when the ball is put in play.
The Texas Rangers run themselves into a triple play for the record books. Benjamin Hoffman has the scoresheet.
Baseball considers itself the most thoughtful of games, a pastime more than a sport, written about with reverence and lyricism, in which pitching is considered more art than athleticism.
Yet the primary term used to explain the art of pitching, which often determines who wins and who loses, is an inelegant word of ill-defined mush.
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.
“The Poets at the Ball Game,” by Reginald Harris.
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.”
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.
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.”
We hard fairly good seats, down the right field line, so I craned over my shoulder to see the new, very sharp scoreboard. Too bad that it wasn’t put to better use for some of the replays: many of us missed a good look at a close play at the plate.
The new stadium hasn’t acquired much local character yet, but I do like the formstone used for the backstop. Local materials, y’know. The main promenade around the park is at street level, which makes for easy circulation, and I like the local restaurants with food outlets at the park. Next time I’ll get there early enough to make it through the line for Ben’s Chili Bowl as well as to watch BP.