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 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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THE WHITEWASHING OF HAL CHASE

When Ban Johnson founded the American League in 1901, he strove to publicly distance his league from the rowdyism and lawlessness that had characterized the National League’s first quarter-century. The 1877 Louisville Grays game-fixing scandal, which resulted in the banishment of four players, had been a serious threat to the NL’s integrity. In an attempt to head off any similar incidents in the AL, Johnson banned gamblers from the league’s ballparks. Nonetheless, betting continued to flourish in both leagues throughout the Deadball Era.

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GAMBLING IN THE DEADBALL ERA


Part one of a series looking gambling’s influence on baseball.

It’s impossible to understand the Black Sox scandal without taking into consideration the intimate relationship between baseball and gambling during that era. 

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Back in Time: A Trip to Historic Warren Ballpark

Driving south from Tucson on Arizona Highway 80, beyond the Wild West outpost-turned-tourist trap of Tombstone, past an endless landscape of sagebrush and cactus, you enter a tunnel carved into the Mule Mountains near the Mexican border. When you exit that tunnel, it's as if you have traveled back in time. Welcome to Bisbee, Arizona.

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Walking Off To The World Series

On September 24, 1919, Shoeless Joe Jackson strode to the plate at Chicago’s Comiskey Park in the bottom of the ninth inning with a chance to make history.

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