Today marks the first many Babe Ruth centennial anniversaries yet to come. On March 7, 1914, Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run in a spring training game in Fayetteville, North Carolina, for the International League’s Baltimore Orioles. The city will be commemorating the historic moment with a rededication of its history marker as well as a vintage baseball game complete with Babe Ruth impersonator.
Today may also be the 100th anniversary of the day the Babe earned his nickname. As one legend states, the 19 year-old ballplayer had been adopted by the Baltimore Orioles’ owner, Jack Dunn, so that he could stay with the team. In addition, apparently young George enjoyed playing with the elevators in Fayetteville’s Lafayette Hotel. Thus, the older players teased him and called him “Dunn’s Baby” and “the Babe.” After that, the name stuck with him.
Ruth appeared in 5 games for the Boston Red Sox during the 1914 season, going 2-1 with a 3.91 ERA and batting .200 (2 for 10) with two RBI.
Other Babe Ruth centennials surely to be celebrated this year are:
- April 22, 1914 – Official debut with the Baltimore Orioles of the International League
- July 9, 1914 – Baltimore Orioles sell Ruth’s contract to the Boston Red Sox
- July 11, 1914 – Babe Ruth’s major league debut (with the Boston Red Sox)
- September 5, 1914 – first regular season professional home run (with the Providence Grays of the International League)
- October 2, 1914 – first major league hit (a double off of Yankees’ pitcher Leonard Cole)
- October 17, 1914 – marriage to Helen Woodford
Happy anniversary(ies), Babe!
Yesterday, I wrote about two news items that showed baseball sociology in action. Later in the day, there was another example of baseball sociology. Yesterday evening, Major League Baseball issued a statement against the proposed Arizona bill to permit businesses to deny service to anyone – including gay and lesbian customers – based on the proprietors’ religious beliefs. As the governor was contemplating the bill, around 6 p.m. MLB issued it’s statement:
“As the sport of Jackie Robinson, Major League Baseball and its 30 Clubs stand united behind the principles of respect, inclusion and acceptance. Those values are fundamental to our game’s diverse players, employees and fans. We welcome individuals of different sexual orientations, races, religions, genders and national origins… Accordingly, MLB will neither support nor tolerate any words, attitudes or actions that imperil the inclusive communities that we have strived to foster within our game.”
“The Seattle Mariners have enjoyed 37 years of spring training in Arizona. Our fans flock to Peoria for baseball in March, and have always been made to feel welcome by the businesses and good people of Arizona. This should apply to all of our fans. The Mariners respect and value diversity. We welcome fans of all races, colors, religious beliefs, nationalities, ages, and sexual orientations. We believe that intolerance has no place in our game or society. Unfortunately, Senate Bill 1062 sends a message that not everyone is welcome. We hope Governor Brewer will reject that message.”
Others speaking out against the bill included the NFL, the Arizona Cardinals and Arizona’s Super Bowl committee (the NFL plans to hold Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona, next year). Non-sports businesses also denounced the bill, including: Apple, Intel, Marriott, Starwood Hotels, PetSmart, Delta, and American Airlines.
At 7:45 p.m. last night, Governor Jan Brewer announced she had vetoed the bill. It remains to be determined what role baseball – and economics – played in her decision. What we do know is that baseball is not just a game. It is a business and an active member of the community. Baseball intersects with politics, economics, and other aspects of society. Regardless of its motivations or intentions, baseball has a role to play in the society that both shapes and is shaped by it.
First, there was the article about Buck Showalter and O’s prospect Josh Hart. Apparently, Hart didn’t know who Frank Robinson was – or what he represented – when he was visiting the team the other day. So, Buck decided to give the kid some homework. He told Hart to do some research and write a one-page paper on Robinson. According to Showalter, “‘It’s important that we realize there were some people who paved the way to have that strong fan base, the people who live and die with everything the Orioles do… There’s not a city in America that loves their baseball team more than Baltimore.’” Yep. Buck sees the link between baseball and society, and history and sociology.
Of course, now Buck feels bad that the story got national attention.
The other interesting bit of news was about the petition – sponsored by Budweiser and Ozzie Smith – to make Opening Day a holiday. Here is where baseball, politics, business, and social media all intersect. The petition eloquently states:
“MLB Opening Day is more than just the beginning of the season. It’s a symbol of rebirth. The coming of spring. The return of America’s national pastime. It’s a state of mind where anything is possible. You can feel the electricity in the air. Opening Day brings with it the promise of a new beginning. Every fan is in good spirits. It’s a day of celebration. It’s a day of hope. It’s a day that, for generations, has been looked forward to by baseball fans every off-season. It’s an American tradition, and it deserves to be recognized as an American holiday. Join us in our quest to make sure every American can exercise their inalienable right to celebrate the day those two magical words are uttered for the first time: ‘PLAY BALL!’”
Obviously, this petition needs more media attention, because, as of 5 pm today, it had less than 28,000 signatures. It needs 100,000 signatures to receive an official response from the White House.
Come on folks, let’s make Opening Day Day a reality!
There’s nothing that sounds better to a winter-weary baseball fan than these four words: pitchers and catchers report. While the east coast watched the snow fall yesterday, we were warmed with thoughts of our teams making their way to Florida or Arizona – though we longed to be with them.
I’m sure its no coincidence that many teams – including my Orioles and Nationals – scheduled their first workouts for today. (See the table below for the complete schedule.) It’s baseball’s way of telling us it loves us!
Happy Pitchers and Catchers Report Day!
2014 Spring Training Reporting Dates: Major-League Teams
courtesy of springtrainingonline.com
|Organization||Pitchers & Catchers||First
|First full workout|
|Arizona D-Backs||Feb. 6||Feb. 7||Feb. 11||Feb. 12|
|Atlanta Braves||Feb. 13||Feb. 14||Feb. 18||Feb. 19|
|Baltimore Orioles||Feb. 13||Feb. 14||Feb. 18||Feb. 19|
|Boston Red Sox||Feb. 15||Feb. 17||Feb. 18||Feb. 20|
|Chicago Cubs||Feb.13||Feb. 14||Feb. 18||Feb. 19|
|Chicago White Sox||Feb. 15||Feb. 16||Feb. 20||Feb. 21|
|Cincinnati Reds||Feb. 14||Feb. 15||Feb. 19||Feb. 20|
|Cleveland Indians||Feb. 11||Feb. 13||Feb. 15||Feb. 17|
|Colorado Rockies||Feb. 15||Feb. 16||Feb. 21||Feb. 22|
|Detroit Tigers||Feb. 13||Feb. 14||Feb. 17||Feb. 18|
|Houston Astros||Feb. 15||Feb. 16||Feb. 19||Feb. 20|
|Kansas City Royals||Feb. 14||Feb. 15||Feb. 19||Feb. 20|
|Los Angeles Angels||Feb. 13||Feb. 14||Feb. 18||Feb. 19|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Feb. 8||Feb. 9||Feb. 13||Feb. 14|
|Miami Marlins||Feb. 16||Feb. 17||Feb. 20||Feb. 21|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Feb. 15||Feb. 16||Feb. 21||Feb. 22|
|Minnesota Twins||Feb. 16||Feb. 17||Feb. 21||Feb. 22|
|New York Mets||Feb. 15||Feb. 16||Feb. 20||Feb. 21|
|New York Yankees||Feb. 14||Feb. 15||Feb. 19||Feb. 20|
|Oakland Athletics||Feb. 14||Feb. 15||Feb. 19||Feb. 20|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Feb. 12||Feb. 13||Feb. 17||Feb. 18|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||Feb. 12||Feb.13||Feb. 17||Feb. 18|
|St. Louis Cardinals||Feb. 12||Feb. 13||Feb. 17||Feb. 18|
|San Diego Padres||Feb. 13||Feb. 14||Feb. 18||Feb. 19|
|San Francisco Giants||Feb. 14||Feb. 15||Feb. 18||Feb. 19|
|Seattle Mariners||Feb. 12||Feb. 13||Feb. 17||Feb. 18|
|Tampa Bay Rays||Feb. 14||Feb. 15||Feb. 19||Feb.20|
|Texas Rangers||Feb. 16||Feb. 17||Feb. 19||Feb. 20|
|Feb. 16||Feb. 19||Feb. 20||Feb. 21|
|Feb. 13||Feb. 14||Feb. 18||Feb. 19|
According to the Houston Chronicle, a Houston photographer took pictures of the practically abandoned Astrodome in March 2012 and posted them on his blog in a post titled, “What I Saw When I Snuck Inside the Astrodome.” (See his blog for more articles about the Astrodome.) The pictures led to renewed interest in the future of the stadium and a referendum concerning the Astrodome was placed on the ballot last November.
However, Harris County residents voted against a $217 million bond to turn the Astrodome into a multipurpose event center. Although many suggested that the vote did not necessarily mean a decision on the stadium’s future would happen quickly, by December 2013 the exterior ramp towers were demolished and pieces of the Astrodome were being sold by the county. (Though it’s been said all of that was already in the works, regardless of the outcome of the referendum.)
Nonetheless, on January 31, 2014, the Astrodome was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Now, this doesn’t mean that the stadium must be preserved. In fact, Houston can still do whatever they want with it, including tearing it down. According to ESPN, a spokesman for Harris County, TX, stated that the fate of the Astrodome is “in limbo” – although there have been suggestions for what to do with the property and building, there is no proposed financing to accompany the proposals.
A Facebook page has been created to help save the Astrodome and the National Trust for Historic Preservation has created an online petition for us to let the Harris County Commissioners know that we want to save the Astrodome; that we understand it’s sociocultural and historical significance not only for Texas, but for the United States. As of yesterday, more than 500 people had contacted the commissioners asking them to save this significant piece of baseball history. Let’s hope it will do some good!
It’s always fun when the baseball and football worlds collide. And it was done spectacularly yesterday when the Seattle Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson won the Super Bowl. Prior to the game, there was mention of Wilson’s baseball background, but most of it was rather quiet. Here is a roundup of the baseball career of the winning QB:
- June 2007: Drafted (but declined) by the Baltimore Orioles from Collegiate High School (Richmond, VA) in the 41st round of the MLB Amateur Draft (source: baseball-reference.com)
- June 2010: Drafted by the Texas Rangers from North Carolina State University in the 4th round of the MLB Amateur Draft
- 2010: Played 31 games at 2B for the Tri-City Dust Devils of the Northwest League
- 2011: Played 55 games at 2B for the Asheville Tourists of the South Atlantic League
- July 2011: Quit baseball and returned to college (Wisconsin) to continue his college football career (source: Newsday)
After the game, however, Minor League Baseball and other sources were quick to point out the connection between Wilson and baseball, including dusting off the above video from May 2011 and, of course, the box score from the game.
Now that football is over and baseball has taken credit for the Super Bowl… bring on Spring Training!
This year, the series is in Margarita Island, Venezuela. It begins with a 10-game round robin schedule (February 1 – 5). Next, is a four-team playoff round (February 6), culminating with the championship game on February 7.
The countries and teams competing are:
- Puerto Rico: Indios de Mayaguez
- Dominican Republic: Tigres del Licey
- Venezuela: Navegantes del Magallanes
- Mexico: Naranjeros del Hermosillo
- Cuba: Naranjas de Villa Clara
If it weren’t enough excitement that Cuba is in the tournament after a 53-year absence, Ozzie Guillen will be the ESPN Deportes analyst, and El Duque – Orlando Hernandez – will be the guest analyst on ESPN Deportes radio. Below is the schedule through Wednesday. All games are on ESPN Deportes, if you happen to have access to it.
|Feb. 1||Puerto Rico @ Dominican Republic||2:30 pm|
|Cuba @ Mexico||8:30 pm|
|Feb. 2||Mexico @ Puerto Rico||2:30 pm|
|Cuba @ Venezuela||8:30 pm|
|Feb. 3||Dominican Republic @ Cuba||3:00 pm|
|Venezuela @ Mexico||7:30 pm|
|Feb. 4||Puerto Rico @ Cuba||3:00 pm|
|Dominican Republic @ Venezuela||7:30 pm|
|Feb. 5||Mexico @ Dominican Republic||3:00 pm|
|Venezuela @ Puerto Rico||7:30 pm|
Yesterday, O’s fans woke up to the news that the Yankees – the evil Yankees – had signed Masahiro Tanaka, the Japanese pitcher who was 24-0 last year (with a 1.27 ERA) (maybe they count differently in Japan?). Today we wake up to his:
Really, Brian? Really? Was that necessary? That’s just adding insult to injury. I’ll write more on the sociology of all this, but I think we all know the psychology of it all: Brian Roberts has distanced himself from the O’s and O’s fans, and is either attempting to endear himself to Yankees fans, or just really trying to annoy us!
I feel better now. I just bought my first set of Spring Training tickets. For the O’s of course. Well, technically, I bought Yankees tickets – but only because it’s the O’s at the Yankees. Yankees Spring Training tickets officially go on sale on Friday, though they are having a pre-sale for MasterCard holders today and tomorrow. We have to wait until January 25 and February 1 for O’s and Nats tickets. But it’s on my calendar.
While we may not be able to buy tickets to our favorite teams yet, with the exceptionally low temperatures throughout the U.S. yesterday, many teams used the opportunity to remind us that Spring Training is just around the corner, or to sell us tickets. Below are a few examples.