Historian's Corner

 

Jacob Pomrenke is SABR’s web content editor/producer. He has been an SABR member since 1998 and is chairman of the Black Sox Scandal Research Committee. He lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with his wife, Tracy Greer, and their cat, Nixey Callahan.

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My First Game: Still Searching

I can tell you so much about the baseball games I’ve attended in my life.

As a big Braves fan who spent most of my formative years growing up near Atlanta, I can tell you that I saw Chipper Jones hit 12 home runs in person, including his first and 45th of his MVP season in 1999. I can tell you that I saw John Smoltz’s first shutout, his 100th save, and the final win of his career (No. 213) in 2009.

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The Final Pitch of the Season: Glory and Goats

When Matt Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals struck out against Boston Red Sox closer Koji Uehara to end the 2013 World Series, it marked the 19th time that a Fall Classic ended on a strikeout—by far, the most common ending to a World Series.

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Judge Landis and the Forgotten Chicago Baseball Bombings

Late in the evening on Sunday, April 22, 1923, just days before the Chicago White Sox’s home opener, a violent explosion rocked Comiskey Park at 35th Street and Shields Avenue. The blast could be heard more than a mile away, but no injuries were reported—only the destruction of a hot dog concession stand on the sidewalk and shattered office windows above the ballpark’s main entrance.

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Colliding with History at Home Plate

As soon as Pete Rose lowered his shoulder and crashed into catcher Ray Fosse in the 12th inning of the 1970 All-Star Game, baseball fans and writers began celebrating his hard-nosed play that won the game for the National League.

“That’s why Pete Rose earns $100,000 a year for playing baseball,” David Condon wrote in the Chicago Tribune. “It was the type of block that would have made a Kansas City Chiefs tackle blush.”

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My Favorite Player: Cal Ripken Jr.

After Cal Ripken Jr. tied Lou Gehrig’s “unbreakable” record of 2,130 consecutive games played on September 5, 1995, he told reporters, “I’m not in the business of script-writing, but if I were, this would’ve been a pretty good one."

On that Tuesday night in Baltimore, the Baltimore Orioles’ future Hall of Fame shortstop punctuated his record-tying appearance with a home run in the bottom of the sixth inning, one of his three hits against the California Angels at Camden Yards. 

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Shellenback and the Spitter

As if they didn’t have enough on their minds, Chicago White Sox pitchers must have been dismayed to read this banner headline in the Chicago Daily Tribune a few weeks after the 1919 World Series ended:

“COMMY HAS SCHEME TO HINDER FREAK HURLERS”

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Dickey Kerr: The Man Who Made 'The Man'

Stan Musial's life was a charmed one, and not just on the baseball field. It was said about the St. Louis Cardinals’ great that he retired from the game with more money and more friends than anyone before him. After a stellar 22-year career, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility and spent the rest of his life entertaining fans around the country with his ever-present smile and harmonica.

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A Comeback for the Ages

After the 2004 Boston Red Sox rallied from a 3-0 deficit in games against the New York Yankees to clinch a World Series berth, Red Sox owner John Henry called it “the greatest comeback in baseball history.” Most fans believed it was the first time any major league team had won a best-of-7 postseason series that way, but there was an obscure precedent.

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The 1917 Fenway Park Gamblers Riot

Now that we’ve established how gambling was entrenched in baseball culture as far back as the 1860s and how baseball officials had numerous opportunities to get rid of its worst offender, Hal Chase, let’s take a look at the most farcical game-fixing incident of the Deadball Era.

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