April 11, 2016
Our time on this planet is of limited duration, and often all that is left to keep memories of us alive after we are gone are an engraved tombstone or perhaps a few scattered pieces of paper. I was originally going to include this family story when I updated the Sportsmans Park page and diagrams earlier this month, but there was too much else going on at the time. So, a few years ago, my Dad showed me his album of celebrity autographs, of which he was extremely proud, including a page with virtually the entire 1945 St. Louis Browns team. I'm pretty sure my father's first major league game was in the 1944 World Series, all six games of which were played in Sportsmans Park. (The Cardinals won, of course.) These autographs would have been one year later, in 1945. That was indeed impressive, even though I wasn't familiar with the names on it. So I took the time to go through my 2003 Sport Encyclopedia: Baseball book to track down when those players actually spent time in the majors. The ones I could not identify (with questions marks) were presumably coaches.
In particular, my Dad remembered meeting Don Gutteridge, who visited some big social event in Salina, Kansas in the late 1940s, when my father was a military cadet there. Frankly, I'm sorry to say that I really didn't know anything about him, but from my Dad's perspective, Don Gutteridge was a big hero. You can see his lifetime stats and biography at baseball-reference.com. In twelve years of major league baseball (1936-1948), virtually all with the St. Louis Cardinals or Browns, Gutteridge had 39 home runs, 391 RBIs, and a .256 batting average. He died on September 7, 2008 at the age of 96.
|Luke Sewell (Mgr.)
|George Caster (P)
|Jack Jakucki (P)
|Weldon West (P)
|Zack Taylor (C)
|Earl Jones (P)
|Bob Muncrief (P)
I'll be traveling home to see my father in South Dakota later today, perhaps the last time I'll get to talk to him. This blog post is a modest (partial) tribute to my Dad, and to the basic idea that baseball memories must be kept alive!
And, Go Cubs, Go!
As the casual observer might guess from visiting this Web site, one of my best subjects in high school was geometry, and that proved useful in my recent struggles to finish the Sportsman's Park diagram updates. Here's why: The reported dimensions for left field, center field, and right field changed a few times between 1926 and 1939, even though the seating sections (left field bleachers and right field covered pavilions) were already completed by 1926. Unless the foul poles moved at some point (which seems unlikely, given that they were aligned exactly at the ends of the upper-deck grandstands), the only thing that could account for dimension changes wold be a shift in the location of home plate. Appllying the Pythagorean Theorem, which states that the square of the length of the hypotenuse in a right triangle is equal to the square of the lengths of the two sides, we can be sure that any change in the left field distance would have to be compensated by an opposite change in the right field distance, and vice versa. The changes reported in Lowry's Green Cathedrals (based in part on contemporary newspaper accounts, from what I can tell) simply do not add up. So I have concluded that there were no changes in outfield dimensions from 1926 until Sportsman's Park was retired in 1966.
For more such fun, see the Outfield trigonometry page.
The first week of baseball has seen a fierce fight for the lead in the National League Central and West Divisions, but oddly enough, the St. Louis Cardinals are not yet in the mix. The Chicago Cubs are living up to their sky-high expectations so far, with a 5-1 record, tied with the Cincinatti Reds for the NL Central lead. Unfortunately, the Cubs' star rookier slugger from last year, Kyle Schwarber, tore a knee ligament in a freak collision with teammate Dexter Fowler last Thursday, and will be out for the rest of the year. That's a bad break, but the Cubs still have plenty of reserve power.
It looked like the Atlanta Braves and the Minnesota Twins were finally going to get their first wins of the year yesterday afternoon, but they were overcome in the late innings by (respectively) the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals. So now the Braves are now 0-5, and the Twins are 0-6. Ouch!
After a planned day of rest on Friday and a game that was "chilled out" (!) on Saturday, the Washington Nationals finally overcame the Miami Marlins in a fine pitchers' duel. Joe Ross went seven full innings and only giving up one run, while Jayson Werth and Clint Robinson got clinch RBI hits in the bottom of the seventh to tip the game in the Nats' favor. Bryce Harper hit his 99th and 100th career doubles, one of which probably would have been his 100th career home run if it hadn't been for the cool, windy conditions. Final score: Nats 4, Marlins 2.
Tonight the Nationals welcome the Atlanta Braves to Washington, with Max Scherzer (who settled for a no-decision on Opening Day) facing Bud Norris, who pitched surprisingly against the Nats well last week. It seems like a lopsided matchup, but you never know...
As part of the Independence Day ceremonies honoring America's armed forces, on July 3 the "Atlanta" Braves will set up camp at a new baseball stadium at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. It will be a real game, not just an exhibition: "This is not a drill!" The Braves will be the home team, and the Miamia Marlins will be the visitors. See MLB.com. Another new diagram, eventually?
Speaking of the Marlins, their outfielder Ichiro Suzuki probably won't get a chance to break the 3,000-hit level this year, contrary to what I wrote on March 25. He has only had one at-bat this year (MLB.com), and is expected to sit on the bench for the foreseeable future. His batting average plummeted last year, and since consistent hitting was his main claim to fame during his career, he is frankly of much less use to the Marlins or to any other MLB team. Nevertheless, I hope somebody gives him an fighting chance to make history.
Two of the exhibition games played two weekends ago took place in Montreal's Olympic Stadium, a.k.a. "The Big Owe." I watched on TV for a while as the Red Sox took on the Toronto Blue Jays, and it was nice to see so many fans present. That of course brought up the possibility that Montreal might get an MLB team again one of these years, and the Tampa Bay Rays are one leading candidates for relocation. The issues of stadium funding, ownership, and fan support were discussed recently at foxsports.com: "the time is ripe."