Today at the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama will be treated to a talent show featuring students and mentors from the Turnaround Arts program. Among others, the program will feature recent music school graduate and former New York Yankees star, Bernie Williams.
Turnaround Arts is a program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. The purpose of the program is to transform struggling schools “through the strategic use of the arts.” According to the program’s website, “Turnaround Arts brings arts education programs and supplies to a group of the lowest-performing elementary and middle schools in the country. These resources help schools improve attendance, parent engagement, student motivation, and academic achievement.”
Now that he’s a college graduate, Bernie will be serving as an ambassador for the Turnaround Arts program and will be working with Jettie S. Tisdale School in Bridgeport, CT. In conjunction with his visit to the White House, he will be visiting members of Congress to discuss the Turnabout Program.
This may not necessarily be a case of where baseball and politics work together, but it is definitely a case of a baseball player sharing his other passion – music – for the good of the community.
Remember that home run from a few weeks ago? THE home run? The first career home run for Bartolo Colon? Well, it’s now been memorialized in a bobble head. Or, rather, a bobble head AND belly. (Also referred to as a bobble stomach and a bobble gut.)
In case you haven’t seen enough of it, here’s the video:
Happy birthday to one of my favorite Yankees! Yogi Berra was born on May 12, 1925. He would have been 91 years old today. After a long and productive life in baseball, the Navy, baseball again, and contributing to the community, Yogi passed away last year on September 22 – exactly 69 years after his major league debut.
Every year it seems as if baseball stadium food gets more and more elaborate, if not stranger. In many cases, the offerings at the stadium range from standard ballpark foods (hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, etc.) to local fare (crab cakes in Baltimore, sushi in Seattle). Some foods are becoming more and more prevalent – even some that we don’t necessarily associate with baseball.
One of my favorite types of food is Cuban food. Thus, I decided to see if any teams – other than the Miami Marlins – offered Cuban sandwiches at the ballpark. This is now relatively easy to ascertain today as nearly all MLB team websites include an interactive amenities map on the pages about their ballparks. These maps provide the menu at most concessions stands in each ballpark.
To my surprise, there are at least 10 ballparks where you can buy a Cuban sandwich:
- Boston Red Sox – Cuban sandwiches are available at El Tiante (Yawkey Way concessions)
- Chicago Cubs – Da Burger Cuban Pork Burger (grilled pork patty topped with bacon, ham, Swiss cheese, and mustard aioli)
- Chicago White Sox – Cuban Comet Sandwiches (a tribute to Minnie Minoso) are available in Section 148
- Houston Astros – Ballpark Cuban at FiveSeven Grille
- Miami Marlins – the Goya Latino Café in Section 3 sells Cuban sandwiches
- Minnesota Twins – Tony O’s Cuban Sandwich
- New York Yankees – Moe’s Southwest Grill sells Cuban sandwiches
- San Francisco Giants – Cuban Sandwich available at the First Base Deli, Orlando’s Caribbean BBQ, and the Public House
- Tampa Bay Rays
- Washington Nationals – Cuban Dog at the Taste of the Majors
In 2015, it was reported that there was a Cuban Pretzel Dog at the Pittsburgh Pirates’ PNC Park – though, I didn’t see it on their amenities map for this year. It was described as “all the fixins of a Cuban sandwich … on a footlong in a pretzel bun.” Something similar – the Cuban Sandwich Dodger Dog – was sold at Dodger Stadium for Cuban Heritage night last year. I’m not sure if the “Cuban Dog” at Nats Park is a hot dog or not. I’ve seen the one it described as both hotdog and Cuban sandwich. Thus, I will soon be undertaking a research expedition there to find out for sure. I’ll keep you posted!
Of course, as a sociologist, I wanted to know why are Cuban sandwiches popular in these ballparks and cities, but not others? There are nearly 1.8 million Cuban Americans in the United States – 84% live in just 5 states: Florida (68%), California (5%), New Jersey (4.7%), New York (4%), and Texas (2.6%). Correspondingly, Cuban sandwiches are sold at several of the MLB parks in those states.
Let’s look a little more closely at the cities in which Cuban Americans live. Of the 10 Metropolitan Statistical Areas with the highest Cuban American populations: 5 or 6 have MLB ballparks that serve Cuban Sandwiches (if you count DC, which has that “Cuban Dog” – whatever that is), 1 has an MLB ballpark that occasionally serves a Cuban Sandwich Dodger Dog, 2 do not have MLB teams, and 1 does not seem to serve Cuban Sandwiches at their MLB park.
|Metropolitan Statistical Areas with
Largest Cuban American Populations
|Cuban American Population||Cuban Sandwich at the Ballpark?|
|1. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL||
|2. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA-CT||
|3. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL||
|4. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA||
|Only on special nights|
|5. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL||
|No MLB team|
|6. Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI||
|7. Las Vegas-Paradise, NV||
|No MLB team|
|8. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX||
|9. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA MSA||
|10. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV||
In addition, three of the MLB parks that serve Cuban sandwiches, while not appearing in the top 10 Cuban American MSAs, are known for Cuban players that played in those cities and, accordingly, serve Cuban sandwiches in their honor – Tony Oliva in Minnesota and Luis Tiant in Boston. As for San Francisco, though not known for its Cuban population, the Giants certainly have seen their share of Cuban-born players, including Tito Fuentes.
Forty years ago today, this happened:
On April 25, 1976, Rick Monday, outfielder for the Chicago Cubs and former Marine, saved the American flag from protesters who were attempting to set it on fire in the outfield at Dodger Stadium. (Click here to see the famous photo of the event.) According to the Los Angeles Times and the blog Misc. Baseball, William Thomas was charged with trespassing and released three days later. Thomas claimed he was trying to make a statement about his wife’s imprisonment in a mental institution.
Tomorrow the D.C. Padres will play their first game of the season. Who are the D.C. Padres, you ask? They are a baseball team made up of Catholic priests and seminarians of the Archdiocese of Washington. They play against local high school teams at venues – including minor league ballparks – in the DC metropolitan area. The purpose of the team is to encourage vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
The team has been around since 2011 – it was formed by Father Larry Young, current pastor of Ascension Catholic Church in Bowie, MD. The team is modeled after the D.C. Hood (as in priesthood), a basketball team in the archdiocese comprised of priests and seminarians. Both teams use their games as an opportunity to talk about vocations – for example, the Padres use the third inning stretch to say a prayer and talk about religious vocations. Check out their video from the Archdiocese of Washington:
Even if you aren’t religious, its still good baseball. I first heard of the Padres a few years ago from my parish priest. They were playing after the Baysox game that afternoon, so we decided to attend. I think I’ll go back this year, too. The Padres have three games scheduled this season:
- Sunday April 24th, vs. Paul VI High School at 4 p.m.
- Sunday May 8th, vs. St. Mary’s Ryken High School at Regency Furniture Stadium, home the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs (the Padres play after the Blue Crabs’ game, which is at 2 p.m.)
- Sunday August 28th, vs. Bishop McNamara High School at Prince George’s Stadium (after the Bowie Baysox game, which is at 2 p.m.)
On April 21, 1910, Cleveland’s “new” League Park opened in Cleveland, Ohio. Originally opened in 1891 as a wood structure, the park was rebuilt using concrete and steel in 1910. From its opening in 1891 through the 1899 season, League Park was home to the Cleveland Spiders of the National League. In 1900 it housed the Western League’s Cleveland Lake Shores, who became the Cleveland Indians in 1901 when the American League was born. The Indians played at League Park from 1901 to 1946, splitting games between Municipal Stadium and League Park between 1936 and 1946 before officially moving to Municipal Stadium for the 1947 season. Other teams to play there were the Cleveland Buckeyes of the Negro American League (1943-1948, 1950), and several NFL and college teams.
Several historic events occurred at League Park, including:
- Addie Joss’ perfect game, 1908
- The first World Series grand slam, hit by Elmer Smith in 1920
- The first World Series home run by a pitcher, hit by Jim Bagby in 1920
- Babe Ruth’s 500th home run, 1929
- Bob Feller’s first win, 1936
- Joe DiMaggio’s final game of his 56-game hitting streak, 1941
Today the site houses the Baseball Heritage Museum, a new field where the old one once stood, and a community park. The ticket booth of League Park was restored and reopened as the museum in 2014. The mission of the museum is “to preserve and present the history of diversity in baseball by entertaining, educating, and enlightening the visiting public about the multicultural heritage of baseball and the values it represents.”
Happy Birthday, League Park!
Today is Jackie Robinson Day. Throughout major and minor league baseball, players will be wearing uniform no. 42 to honor Jackie Robinson’s contributions to baseball and the nation. In Vero Beach, FL, Minor League Baseball and the Florida State League will hold its third annual Jackie Robinson Celebration Dodgertown. The Brevard County Manatees will play the Lucie Mets.
On Monday, the new Ken Burns’ documentary, “Jackie Robinson,” premiered on PBS. Also, MLB announced on Monday that it will sponsor 30 Jackie Robinson Foundation scholars (4-year funding for each, one for every MLB team) and it will contribute $1 million to the Jackie Robinson Museum, to be opened some day in New York.
Here are just a few more Robinson-related tributes planned for Friday:
- The baseball team at UCLA, where Robinson went to college, will wear special edition Robinson-era “throwback jerseys” as well as cleats provided by Adidas.
- Adidas will provide their special edition baseball cleats the UCLA baseball team as well as the MLB players who represent Adidas. The shoes feature newspaper-style headlines on the uppers and Jackie Robinson’s #42 embroidered on the side.
- Beginning today, Jackie Robinson’s contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers will be on display at the New York Historical Society before moving on to other cities.
- Several MLB and MiLB will be celebrating Jackie Robinson Day with special promotions and activities. The Los Angeles Dodgers, for example, will be giving away a replica Jackie Robinson jersey. The AA Lehigh Valley IronPigs will have a life-size, hand-carved wood statue of Robinson at their game as well as other promotions.
- The Negro Southern League Museum (NSLM) and the Birmingham Barons in Birmingham, Alabama, will celebrate Jackie Robinson day with a marching band and other festivities at the NSLM followed by a Barons game at Regions Field, which is adjacent to the museum.
- The City of Philadelphia will formally honor Jackie Robinson, having recently passed a resolution to celebrate April 15, 2016, “as a day honoring the lifetime achievements and lasting influence of Jackie Robinson and apologizing for the racism he faced as a player while visiting Philadelphia.”
- Also in Philly, the Business Association of West Parkside will hold its annual Jackie Robinson Day festivities, which include a ceremony at the Philadelphia Stars Negro League Memorial Park (at Belmont and Parkside avenues). The entire event will be broadcast live on Philadelphia’s WURD (900 AM). At the event, there will be a rededication of the Jackie Robinson mural.
- The National Baseball Hall of Fame will offer a guided tour of their “Pride and Passion” exhibit and a screening of the movie “42.”
- And, last but not least, it appears that Huston-Tollotson University in Decatur, GA, has issued a resolution honoring Jackie Robinson.
In the bottom of the first, Reggie hit a 3-run home run off of the White Sox’ Wilbur Wood. As should have been expected, the crowd began throwing their Reggie bars onto the field and chanting “Reggie!” as Jackson rounded the bases. Presumably not all 44,667 fans in attendance threw them on the ground (some of the early arrivers probably ate them before or during the pre-game ceremonies for Maris and Mantle), but there were enough to require only a slight delay while the grounds crew scooped them all up.
The White Sox players were not amused. Later, Reggie would say that he was at first concerned that the fans did not like the candy bar. But they were just celebrating the home run and the beginning of their team’s World Series-winning season.
Tonight’s the night for the big PBS premiere of Ken Burns’ new documentary, “Jackie Robinson.” The two-parter airs on PBS at 9 and 11 pm (Eastern) tonight and tomorrow night. It also will be repeated a few more times over the next couple weeks (though not always at convenient times, like 2:30 am). All I’ve seen is the various promo trailers – nine different ones are posted on the PBS YouTube page. Several more are on the PBS website. They even showed them during Spring Training games this year.
Have you ever really wanted to see something but simultaneously feared you might be disappointed? I get that way with stories of monumental importance when they are made into movies and documentaries. I still have the movie “42” sitting on the shelf with my other DVDs still in its plastic wrapper. I want to watch it, but don’t want to feel let down. I feel the same way about books about Jackie Robinson. The first and best book I ever read about Robinson was the classic, Baseball’s Great Experiment, by Jules Tygiel. I have many other books by and about Robinson on my bookshelf. But I’m afraid they won’t be as good as Tygiel’s.
Nonetheless, I’ll try to remember to watch the PBS documentary tonight. Jackie’s that important.