The Eephus League Magazine's first issue preview!
THE EEPHUS LEAGUE MAGAZINE ISSUE # 01 SPRING 2012 THE EEPHUS LEAGUE MAGAZINE | 1 TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE 8 123 PAG E 1 0 PA G E 1 2 PLAYER SPOTLIGHT BASEBALL INVENTIONS REVIEWS JOHHNY EVERS CURVES & BROKEN GLASS BASEBALL NICKNAMES Johnny “The Crab” Evers was a small, scrappy second baseman who became a legend throughout his colorful Hall of Fame career. A device to help pitchers throw curveballs and a softer baseball for kids are this issue’s patent highlights. James K. Skipper’s fascinating and comprehensive anthology of baseball nicknames is a brilliant look at the legends and lore of America’s pasttime. PAGE 6 456 PAGE 2 0 PA G E 2 2 BASEBALL DICTIONARY THIS DAY IN BASEBALL FAN STORIES WHAT IS EEPHUS? MAY 1ST IT BREAKS YOUR HEART Learn the colorful origins of the Eephus League’s namesake and who gave the infamous pitch its name. The longest game ever, Mickey Mantle’s first home run, and some memorable no hitters are some of the highlights on this day in baseball. Baseball is most definied by stories of failure, and in honor of the epic failures of the 2011 seasons, fans share theyir lowest points as fans. PAGE 24 789 PAG E 1 4 PA G E 1 6 BASEBALL ARTWORK FEATURE INTERVIEW COLORFUL LANGUAGE BEADLE’S BASE-BALL BASES LOADED Designer Jeremy Reiss has created a beautiful letterpress print honoring the colorful language of the sport. The go-to resource for 19th century baseball, Beadle’s Dime Base-Ball player is a time capsule of the state of the game in 1867. Brian Lindstrom’s Bases Loaded series is a personal, nostalgia-filled look back on several of the most influential moments in baseball’s history. s u h p Ee League The Eephus League began as a student project, an answer to a question. How could I create a project about baseball, yet still have a directed focus for the content? How could I distill the ethos of the game into a core idea for a website and community? I loved the design of baseball, the vernacular, the printed ephemera, but I needed a common thread to tie it together, and I finally found it in Minutiae. Baseball is a massive entity, steeped in equations, history, and tradition, but it’s the small things that emerge in and because of baseball that I love. The Eephus League website serves as a celebration of the spirit of baseball and what it has given us over the past 150 years. This Eephus League Zine is a further commemoration of baseball’s beauty, oddities and wonderful fans. Through this publication I hope to delve deeper into the nooks and crannies of our game, and preserve these pieces of triviality lovingly and permanently. It is as much a tribute to the game itself as to its enormous and diverse group of fans. Much of the content inside was generated by passionate and talented fans, expressing their love of the game in infinitely unique and personal ways. Baseball affects each of us in different ways, and in turn the manners in which we express our connection are incomparable. I hope the magazine proves to be full of things familiar, fresh and uplifting, and that I do justice to the fans and people who have made baseball the wonderful cornerstone that it is. Bethany Heck “It’s hard to win a pennant, but it’s harder losing one.” — Chuck Tanner BASEBALL DICTIONARY [ ee·phus ] “Eephus ain’t nuthin.” — Maurice Van Robays The term Eephus can be traced back to a pitch popularized by Pittsbug Pirate pitcher Tuett “Rip” Sewell. He first threw it to Dick Wakefield in a 1942 exhibition game, with great effect: Wakefield double clutched and nearly fell over trying to hit the looper. Though the term was coined for Sewell’s pitch, it has lived on long after his death, used to describe any abnormally slow, looping pitch aimed in the air instead of towards the batter.. A well-pitched eephus ball can reach an apex of over 25 feet in the air before crashing down towards earth and the batter. Sewell was forced to change his delivery motion when a hunting accident left buckshot in his leg, and he found a straight, overhand motion to be less painful. The most common technique used in throwing an eephus pitch is to rest the ball in the palm of the hand and let the tips of the figers create enough backspin to keep the flight of the ball under control. The form used in throwing an eephus pitch is often compared to tossing a good shot put ball. Sewell himself succinctly described it as “fun to watch, easy to catch, but tough to hit.” The most famous instance of an eephus pitch came in the 1946 All Star game, when Sewell threw three straight eephus balls to Ted Williams. Williams broke the rules by taking several strides closer to the mound to crush the third pitch out of the park for a home run. G R E AT I N V E N T I O N S #3,497,218 BASEBALL PITCHING TRAINING AID J. A. Johnson This medieval torture device was intended to help pitchers learn the correct grip and delivery of a curve ball. The contraption wraps around the wrist and two loops then attach to the ring finger and thumb of the wearer. Breaking balls can be extremely hard on a pitcher’s arm, and this device aimed to make the learning process and quick and effective as possible, reducing wear and tear on the hurler’s shoulder and elbow. A good curve has little to do with velocity and everything to do with the spin imparted on the ball at its release. J. A. Johnson, the inventor, notes the following two principles for the player to keep in mind: 1. The faster the rotation, the sharper the curve, and 2. a ball will usually curve in 8 | THE EEPHUS LEAGUE MAGAZINE PATENTED: 02.24.1970 FILED: 01.22.1968 the direction it is spinning. Johnson helpfully informs the patent office that a well thrown curve, due to it’s sharply dropping nature, is difficult to strike when the hitter is swinging parallel to the ground. The device was designed to be constructed from an elastic material that would provide tension on the fingers and the wrist. The ring finger and thumb are forced towards the palm of the hand, and the ball is meant to rest against the side of the thumb, with the middle and ring fingers resting on the seams. On delivery of the ball, the device caused the wrist to snap downwards, increasing the rotation of the ball as it left the hand. #4,257,598 BALL AND METHOD OF MAKING THE SAME Chester F. Massino This baseball was designed with the very specific purpose of allowing children in confined areas to have a baseball that performed similarly to a standard ball, but did not travel as far when hit and was substantially softer. As we know, modern baseballs have a rubber core. This design called for a cloth center, followed by several layers of yarn enclosed by an adhesive tape, with a synthetic polyester cover. Perhaps Mr. Massimo was the victim of a baseball crashing through his windows as a result of a backyard game, as he specifically mentions this problem on several occasions in his abstract. He notes the many attempts made at a safer ball, such as the â€œwiffleâ€? ball, but argues they are poor substitute, as they lack an aerodynamic similarity to the PATENTED: 03.24.1981 FILED: 07.09.1979 real thing. he argues his design would allow baseball to be played in confined spaces, indoors and with much less risk of property damage or injury to children. Massimo goes so far as to include possible drills the ball would be well suited for, including blocking drills for catchers, catching fly balls bare handed, and avoiding wild pitches (he even suggests setting up a pitching machine aimed at the player!) There are copious notes regarding the preferred materials and logic behind the construction of the baseball. It is surprising that this design was unable to usurp the Wiffle ball as the preferred backyard baseball. THE EEPHUS LEAGUE MAGAZINE | 9 10 | THE EEPHUS LEAGUE MAGAZINE P L AY E R S P O T L I G H T JOHNNY EVERS “the crab” J ohnny “The Crab” Evers was a small, scrappy, determined second baseman. Born July 21, 1881, Evers earned his quirky nickname “The Crab” because of the way he slid over the entire infield from his second base position. Evers began his baseball career in 1902, playing for his hometown team in Troy, New York. Later in that season he joined the Chicago Cubs, the team he is most affiliated with. BEADLE’S DIME BASEBALL PLAYER I t’s hard to imagine being a baseball fan without the internet as a resource. We have instant access to player stats, rosters and rule sets. In the earliest days of the game, Beadle’s Dime Baseball Player was the go-to resource for gentlemen interested in the state of the sport. The booklet is packed with information, including player stats from the previous year as well as rosters and league breakdowns. Even in the genesis of the game, fans and players were obsessed with statistics. This was considered the de facto textbook reference to use when teaching people about the game. 12 | THE EEPHUS LEAGUE MAGAZINE The bright orange cover uses no less than half a dozen typefaces and features an etching of a hitter and a catcher standing behind him. If you study the background closely, you can notice odd streaks and spaces in the etchings, which is a result of a change the original design of the cover. In prior issues, the etching had several fielders milling about behind the hitter, which, if you know anything about baseball, is absolutely bonkers, and someone finally caught the mistake beginning with this issue. “This invigorating exercise and manly pastime may now be justly termed the American Game of Ball, for though of English origin, it has been so modified and improved of late in this country as almost to deprive it of any of its original features beyond the mere groundwork of the game.” The book leads off with it’s delightfully verbose title, “Beadle’s Dime Base-Ball Player: Comprising the Proceedings of the Tenth Annual Base-Ball Convention, Together with the Amended Rules Adopted, Rules for formation of clubs, and the constitution and by-laws of the national association. Also the Base-Ball Averages for 1865. Annual Edition for 1866.” Back in the 19th century, they knew how to give a book a title with presence! The first spread holds a diagram of a baseball field and a quick preface. The diagram looks alien to us now, with the pitcher’s box off-centered, the catcher set far behind home plate, and the umpire in front and to the right of him. The configuration of the pitcher’s mound and its distance from home plate was one of the last aspects of the baseball field ruleset to be finalized, especially when pitchers began the transition from tossing underhand to throwing overhand. The overall configuration of the scorecard is remarkably familiar, but the notation system is quit different than what scorers use today. The Base-Ball player was edited by by Henry Chadwick, one of baseball’s baseball’s earliest and most influential benefactors. After the preface, there is a short essay from Chadwick regarding the current state of the game (a “manly 7D2 vs 1B Compare the 1867 notation method on the left to a version of what we see in modern scorekeeping on the right. THE EEPHUS LEAGUE MAGAZINE | 13 The book is filled with great ads for sporting good suppliers, which have eclectic typography and occasionally illustrations. pastime”), and he notes that it has clearly separated itself from its ancestor, the British game of Rounders, and has evolved into a uniquely and truely American institution. Notes about the equipment and field requirements needed for a game of baseball are filled with wonderful nuggets of history. Chadwick insists you need a flat field (we couldn’t be having balls rolling back in from the outfield!) and bases didn’t necessarily have to be square. He notes that balls should be pitched to the striker fairly; imagine what he would think of the 100+ MPH flamethrowers that play the game today! The rules of the game are also included in the book, which remain remarkably similar to the game we see played today. A year after this book was published, the pitcher’s box dimensions were set to a 6 foot square, and 14 | THE EEPHUS LEAGUE MAGAZINE the striker was allowed the courtesy of specifically requesting a high or low pitch. A gentleman’s game, indeed. Further emphasizing the formal and genteel nature of the early game is the language used to describe the way teams and clubs were structured. Delegates, conventions, associations, by-laws and constitutions are all emphasized here. There were strict rules regarding the agendas of club meetings, which proudly sport wonderful names like “Eureka” and “Peconic”. One of the most fascinating sections of the book is devoted to scorekeeping. While certain aspects of the scorecard diagram are familiar, the shorthand used is startlingly different. In 19th century baseball, players switched positions on the field more frequently than is seen today. Each player was designated a specific number, which referred to not only the position he was initially playing, but his position in the batting order. Also delightful are the type-heavy ads in the front and back of the books. The advertisement for the “Empire Depot of Games” promises a wonderland of equipment for lawn games from croquet, cricket and of course, “Baseball”. Beadle’s also pushes their books for croquet and foot-ball. The BaseBall Emporium promises score books, spiked shoes, bats and bases. The Beadle’s Dime Base-Ball Player is a compelling look at the origins of the game and a wonderful resource for those interested in how the game rapidly evolved into the sport we know and love. For as many things that have changed, much of what we see here has remained a core part of the game. 16 | THE EEPHUS LEAGUE MAGAZINE E BRIAN LINDSTROM: BASES LOADED “Putting lights in Wrigley Field is like putting aluminum siding on the Sistine Chapel.” – Roger Simon B aseball says different things to different people. Some people love it for the statistics, others for the lush sights and sounds. Brian Lindstrom, a graphic designer and printmaker currently studying at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, loves baseball for the tradition. The stories, legends and athletes that have come and gone throughout the decades have compiled a massive legacy that is ripe for artistic expression. Lindstrom dove into this legacy as the inspiration for a series of 18 screenprinted posters, titling the series “Bases Loaded”. Lindstrom deftly combines carefully hand drawn typography and iconography with some of the greatest moments in the history of the game (including some quirkily obscure ones) to create a stunning series of work that any devoted fan of baseball’s colorful history will love. Brian carefully selected his subjects and his medium. The moments of baseball lore he focuses on range from the great players like Lou Gehrig and Hank Aaron, to contriversies in the Steroid Era, and the more delightfully obscure, like the first game played under artificial lights in Wrigley Field (Lindstrom’s Cubby fandom showing through). The colors are classic red and blue, honoring the position baseball holds in American culture. The designs are printed onto massive 26”x40 sheets of wool felt, mimicing pennants. Lindstrom’s hand made designs reflect the intimacy of baseball, how it has touched us all individually in unique ways. In his words, “The game of baseball is intertwined in the fabric of the United States of America. The players are household names and the sights, smells, and sounds conjure up memories of our past.” These prints are baseball, they perfectly capture its essence. I was fortunate enough to interview Brian about his experiences, his love of baseball, and his work. You can find more images and information about the Bases Loaded series at www.basesloadedseries.com, and see more of Brian’s work at www.newbaric.com. THE EEPHUS LEAGUE MAGAZINE | 17 Tell me a little about yourself, your career, and your artwork. I’ve been designing for around 11ish years (had to think about that) and started out freelancing out of undergrad. After a year of freelance, I worked at Oakley (the sunglass co) for about 3 years. I designed logos for eyewear, apparel graphics, packaging, and graphics that were applied to eyewear/goggle straps etc. At the end of my time at Oakley, I started to freelance for other action-sports industry clients like Rusty, Lost, OAM, O’neill etc. Once I got to a point where I was busy enough, I went freelance full time and opened Newbaric Design Co. My work has always had a major lean towards apparel graphics for surf/skate/snow brands as well as logos/identities for the same clients as well as start-ups. I went to grad school, away from California, because as much as I want to keep doing that work and have a foot in that door, I was also craving a new perspective on graphic design. I wanted to design with more than a ‘target market’ in mind. I wanted to have a concept and meaning behind my work, something that you rarely get to experience with client work. They already have their brand, market and ‘look’ and it wouldnt do them or, myself, a service to try and 18 | THE EEPHUS LEAGUE MAGAZINE incorporate my aesthetic and desire into their work. SO, I went to grad school to give myself time to explore, research and dive a little deeper into the graphic design world... What made you choose Wisconsin? Did you have prior printmaking experience? Great question, and one that we discuss (my fellow grads and I) all the time. I did choose Wisconsin because of the strong printmaking program. I felt that all the “graphic designey” stuff was great, but I had been working on that for over a decade and didnt feel the need to be surrounded by a typical, formal graphic design school. Wisconsin is the furthest from a formal graphic design school as you can get, while still offering plenty of design courses. My goal was to get back to the nuts and bolts of design, the ideas. I also have this weird thing about the lost ‘craft’ (i know it’s cliche and overused) of graphic design. Back when the ‘great’ graphic designers were not even graphic designers at all! When you look at old trade-marks (logos) that are in masonery or on glass jars, those were done by craftsmen, the typography and care they took is amazing and yet they treated it as a craft, not a profession. I like Wisconsin because here I can focus on letterpress, screen- printing and soon relief printing. Letterpress should be a required course for all designers. I have such a greater appreciation for typography since having to set paragraphs of type by hand. Also, I have designed my own typeface while at Wisconsin (terrible one), but it was priceless experience. The one real design professor we have is a typographical wizard, and his sole focus is on typography and typeface design. As for previous printmaking experience, I have designed for screen printed applications for my entire design life, so I was always very aware of the process. My first experience in screen printing was around 2005ish. I went to Screwball Press, in Chicago, and learned from Steve Walters in what he calls his “Screwball Academy.” He has taught a lot of well know printers including Jay Ryan of the Bird Machine. (screwballpress.com). Tell me more about the Bases Loaded project As a graphic designer, and as someone who had never really done a lot of self-initiated projects (like the Hurrican poster, Haiti poster or your Eephus League) it was a great challenge to let go of any restrictions or requirements coming from a client. I needed to reprogram the way I designed and determine my own goals. After having an independent study over Summer with one of my professors, I finally had the release of guilt (not sure if thats the right word for this) that I had to do ‘traditional’ design with fonts and computery ‘stuff.’ My best work for clients has always been my hand drawn graphics and typography. That has always been my paycheck. But when it came time for me to design, I felt I needed approval to do it... Bases Loaded was that approval, for me. I love baseball, the nostalgia, and the history. It has the greatest story lines and most dynamic characters of any other sport. It also lent me the opportunity to design a series around it while using my hand-done approach, as well as using printmaking as way to produce the series. I never like to design things that are not authentic. If something is not appropriate (hand-done graphics) for a project, I will not do it just because “its my aesthetic.” So I felt bases loaded provided that authenticity. I chose the content based on research, surveys and my own bias. I tried to cover the most interesting and pivotal players/events, not just the best. Obviously it is lacking the Mays, Aarons Williams, etc etc and they were next to be included, but they did not have the dynamic story lines that the others did (except Williams with his war efforts etc. But I had already addressed war with Hank Greenberg). The Cubs events (Billygoat, Wrigley first night game & Ernie Banks) are my bias showing. I do feel they are significant events etc, but probably more so to me because I am a brainwashed Cubs fan. I really did want to get Ernie Banks in from a positive stand point on baseball. There was so much heavy material and events, and I thought his “kidlike” attitude was refreshing for the series. I chose to print them onto wool felt banners to reflect the pennants of past eras and to get the nostalgia and authenticity I was looking for. Having them printed digitally would have severely undercut the message of the exhibition. I know I am all over the place but... The undertone for the show (that I don’t really make a point) is that NO computers were used inthe design or the production. I am always being asked/told “Oh, you’re a graphic designer. So you work on computers? Or you do computer graphics?” NO!!!! I use the computer as a tool. I really wanted to get off the computer and let my brain direct the project, not Adobe... So, I’m assuming the color palette you chose is another nod to the Cubbies? No, actually I never thought of that! It is to baseball being America’s pastime. The colors of our flag (muted and tweaked a bit) I thought Red White and Blue might be cliche and obvious, but then my logical side took over and determined, “why not?” THE EEPHUS LEAGUE MAGAZINE | 19 It works beautifully, you chose well. Your hand lettering is exquisite, how did you learn how to draw typography? Did you draw inspiration from a particular set of typefaces, or an artist? I have always used hand type in the apparel graphics I’ve done for clients... hold on, i’ll send you a link.. I dont have a lot of it on the website, but here is some I did for Rhythm. (http://www.newbaric. com/rhythm-usa) Also on my front page you can see a bit I did for posters and for Skullcandy. I still need to post my Skullcandy work, as that has a lot of hand type. I guess my influence was coming up in the surf industry. It is a very DIY industry and hand type is no exception. All the designers leaned towards it, and many of the companies requested it. It was all practice and learning as I went. I still make some type that is terrible!!! and then I just go back in and rework the areas that are not working. Learning to design a formal typeface this last year really helped in defining a “style” of typface. I was able to give my type a DNA. There are really two “style” through Bases Loaded. A script and a nostalgic “baseball” style typeface. I think of the Texas Rangers typelogo/Detroit Tigers. ALL through Summer I did the research for this project, and had around 40 baseball books checked out from UW (Another reason I chose Wisconsin is the great research available!) The old type from baseballs past is amazing. I wish I had found your site before my design process was complete, because you have A TON of great things on there. When I found your site it was a goldmine! Do you have a favorite baseball logo, or uniform, or some other design element? One that really embodies what you love about the sport? I really like the Detroit Tigers style. The Navy and white (off-white), the ‘D’ and the script ‘Tigers.’ I am not remotely a Tigers fan, but can appreciate the aesthetic. I’m also a sucker for the Baltimore Orioles colors/ logos. and of course the Cubs just because it has gone unchanged for the most part. NYY, Boston are great fro tradition, but never have been ‘it’ for me... I would say I love the tradition and sense of who they are (as a sport) that I love about baseball, so any team that can convey that in their uniforms, colors, logos and ballparks is a winner for me. For that reason I am not a Padres fan, Brewers fan, Rays fan etc because it doesnt seem like they know who they are, and they lack the identity of the sport... THE EEPHUS LEAGUE MAGAZINE | 21 how fast I was blowing through ink (felt sucks up SO much ink) I stopped. Long answer for a simple question ;) But yes, I plan to sell them digitally soon... What are your plans for your MFA subject? I’m not sure yet, let me know if you have any ideas! haha I need to figure it out fast, because I have my MFA qualifiers in 2 weeks where I lay the groundwork for the next 8 months. I will be continuing my research based design, most likely with the image/type relationship. All by hand again and most likely incorporating printmaking still. I just need to settle down on a topic. I had the baseball topic in mind for the last year and a half, and started that research about a year ago. So I will be under the gun to ge the MFA up to speed. Even though I wanted to do baseball for a long time, it wasn’t until that Summer independent study that I was convinced of the material and the direction. Once my professor and I hammered out what needed to be done, I was able to focus more on the events etc. I’m hoping something like that clicks for me and my MFA... I’m sure it will! You did amazing work with Bases Loaded and you’ll do the same for your MFA I appreciate it. Looking forward to getting it started! Bases Loaded has been an amazing experience, and am hoping it can be a traveling exhibition for more people to see. I am definitely with you there. It’s not really fair, but I definitely think the older franchises have a much better visual identity. Agreed. Giants, Dodgers, and the ones I named have tradtion in their favor. It’s the smart ones that dont mess with it. Oh, Indians too. So much good design inspiration in baseball!!!! A huge reason for choosing it How did you produce the pieces? Are you selling smaller versions of your designs? I am screen-printing each 26”x40” felt banner in my studio at UW. I’ll then apply a felt border aroudn the edge to finish them off. I am going to be hangin each banner (18 total, 9 Navy, 9 Cream... 9 for the number of players on each team, innings etc) on flag poles in the gallery. Navy one one side of the gallery, and Cream on the other (like teams standing for the national anthem). I am struggling with how to reproduce them for sale purposes. I will probably go the digital print route for price and ability to reproduce. I started screenprinting them all myself on 26”x40” French Paper, but because of time and 22 | THE EEPHUS LEAGUE MAGAZINE I’m planning on going to the SABR conference in Minnesota this Summer to present my work etc... That’ll be incredible! I’m sure you’ll be a huge hit I’m hoping! T H I S D AY I N B A S E B A L L 1901 White Sox Herm McFarland hits the first grand slam in American League history in a game in which the Detroit Tigers committed 12 errors. 1951 White Sox hurler Randy Gumpert gives up the first of Mickey Mantle’s 536 major league home runs on Mother’s Day. 1920 The longest game ever played ends after 26 innings in a tie. Charlie Pick sets the major league record for hitless at-bats in one game, 0-11. 1959 Early Wynn throws a one-hitter while striking out 14. The 39-year old pitcher’s eighth inning home run beats the Red Sox, 1-0. 1920 At the Polo Grounds, Babe Ruth hits his 50th career home run which is his first as a New York Yankee. 1965 Dave Giusti and the Astros beat the Cubs, 4-0, to extend the team’s club record winning streak to double digits. The legendary hurler Satchel Paige makes his pitching debut in Negro Southern League. 1969 At Crosley Field, Astros’ righty Don Wilson no-hits the Reds, 4-0 one day after the Reds’ Jim Maloney beat Houston with a no-hitter. 1926 24 | THE EEPHUS LEAGUE MAGAZINE On Sunday, May 1st, 1960, the Milwaukee Braves defeeated the Philidelphia Phillies, 5-4 1974 Using just five pitches, Pirates starter Doc Ellis, upset with his opponent’s swagger, hits the first three Reds’ batters he faces. 1997 Randy Meyers gets the last two outs of the ninth inning in the Orioles’ 3-2 win, recording his 11 consecutive save to start the season. 1984 Dwight Gooden becomes the first teen to strike out at least ten players since Bert Blyleven accomplished the feat in 1970. 2000 San Francisco’s left fielder Barry Bonds becomes the first player to hit a ball into San Francisco Bay aka McCovey’s Cove. 1991 With his 939th career steal, A’s outfielder Rickey Henderson passes Lou Brock as baseball’s all-time stolen base leader. 1991 Ranger right-hander Nolan Ryan pitches the seventh no-hitter of his career, striking out 16 Blue Jays as the Texas defeats Toronto, 3-0. 2002 2004 Recording his 321st save for San Diego, Tevor Hoffman establishes a new big league record for the most saves for one team. At Miller Park, Chad Moeller becomes the first Brewer hit for the cycle at home. In the 9-8 victory over the Reds in front of 8,918 fans. THE EEPHUS LEAGUE MAGAZINE | 25 TA L E S F R O M H I S T O R Y MISERY “It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.” – A. Bartlett Giamatti Fred Merkle had perhaps the most inauspicious first start in baseball history. At 19 years old, he took the field at first base for the New York Giants in the final game of the 1908 season. The Giants were up against the Cubs. Both teams had 98 wins, and the game was tied 1-1, and the Giants had runners on the corners, with Mirkle at first. Al Bridwell slammed a single up the middle and Giants fans swramed the field, spooking Merkle, who took off and headed for the dugout without ever touching second. Wily veteran Johnny Evers noticed that Merkle never touched base and called for a ball, stepping on the bag amidst the throng of fans and forcing out merkle, and cancelling out the scored run. The Giants eventually lost the game, and the play became known as “Merkle’s Boner.” 26 | THE EEPHUS LEAGUE MAGAZINE TA L E S F R O M T H E FA N S B aseball is most poingently defined by failures, not successes. After all, only one team can win the World Series each year, and the rest have to try to take solace in their various degrees of failure. In honor of the historic collapses of the 2011 season, here are some anecdotes from fans about their lowest point. When I was 6, I (a Red Sox fan) bet my grandfather (a Yankees fan) that the Sox would beat the Yankees in a game in late May. With an ice cream on the line, I watched with growing apprehension as the Yankees chipped away at an early 5-0 deficit, and cried when Mel Hall hit a two-run walkoff homer. I am 26 now, and have never bet on a sporting event since. — Bryan C This one is easy. October 19, 1999. After an improbable and unprecedented comeback, the Mets force a Game 6 in the NLCS. Because the Braves were famously unable to sell out their playoff games, if this series was going to Game 7, I had already told work that I was flying to Atlanta the next day to go to that game, no matter what the cost. I had a plane ticket priced. wrenching moment and untimely end to Posey’s season. But the worst part of that night was that I wasn’t even watching the game. Twitter was spewing a frenzy of concerned tweets, and yet I had no idea what was going on. Instead, I was glued to Game Day, which remained frozen for a good 10-15 minutes during the injury delay. When I finally caught wind of how Posey slammed his fist into the ground and was led limping off the field, I cried. It’s taken five months to recover, and the memory of that night still brings back an ache. — Ashley I’ll say, mine has to be the October 4, 1999 one game playoff with the Mets. For some reason, that one hurt the most. Watching Al Leiter take the team apart and throwing a complete game was brutal. Not making the playoffs with a 96-67 season was rough — Lark11 And then Kenny Rogers walks in the winning run. Worst moment? Try worst 10 moments! How about the last three game fives of the LDS? I also remember 1998. The Braves fell behind the Padres 3-0 in the LCS, but then won games 4 and 5 in San Diego. It was the first time in MLB postseason history that a team won two games after losing the first three. Atlanta was geeked as their heroes were coming home for game six. A SRO crowd watched as the Braves mustered something like two hits against Sterling Hitchcock and we lost by something like 4-0. We had nothing to cheer about. Walks it in. Walks it in. Walks it in. — Bravesfan98 It was already an excruciating back-and-forth game going to 11 innings. It was an impossible season with an unstoppable script. How do you walk in the winning run? How can you not throw a strike on a 3-2 count with the bases loaded and at least let him hit the ball? HOW CAN YOU NOT THROW A STRIKE? I’ve had my soul ripped out by this game many times, but that one still gets me agitated just thinking about it. The Mets were three outs away from a 3-1 series lead against the Dodgers in the 1988 NLCS when an unlikely hero, Scioscia, homered against Dwight Gooden. The Mets lost in 12 innings (leaving the bases loaded in their half of the 12th), then lost the series in seven games. Kenny Bleeping Rogers. — Dwight Gooden — Baseball Oogie There have been many moments of “torture” for Giants fans, but this one takes the cake. It was May 25, 2011. Top of the 12th, runners in scoring position. Marlins pinch-hitter Emilio Bonifacio lifted a sacrifice fly to score Scott Cousins, who bolted down the 3rd base line… and slammed into Buster Posey. “I never thought I would rank anything over the Subway Series in terms of disappointment. Heck, I was at Game 5 and could swear that Piazza’s ball was gone. That thing reached its apex near the wall and then just died. But this was a difficult list to rank for me because I was present for three of the six events. — Metradamous I’ve seen the replay close to ten times now. It was a gut- THE EEPHUS LEAGUE MAGAZINE | 27 REVIEWS Other People’s Names Physical Traits Traditional Habits & Mannerism Estoric CATEGORIES OF BASEBALL NICKNAMES: 1871–1968 BASEBALL NICKNAMES “Flea was hung on me by Del Baker, a former manager of the Detroit Tigers in 1933. I was a good sized flea at 5’11”, and 165 pounds. If you have ever been bitten by a Sand Flea, you know why I got my name.” – Herman Clifton M any fans of baseball have been sucked in by the massive breadth of its impact. One could spend a lifetime studying statistics, reading the escapades of retired players, or making trips to the dozens of beautiful ballparks in the country. James K. Skipper found a different niche of the baseball lexicon to get sucked in by: nicknames. Baseball nicknames have become an integral part of the sport’s culture: “In no sport are nicknames more pervasive than baseball.” Receiving a nickname is immortalizing in many aspects, lending the players a larger than life 28 | THE EEPHUS LEAGUE MAGAZINE heft to their persona. The ritual of distributing nicknames amongst baseball players is as old as the sport itself, and it’s easy to see how Skipper got sucked in to analyzing them. Skipper wrote a number of fantastic articles for SABR regarding nicknames in baseball, and his culminating work, Baseball Nicknames, is an astonishing compilation of over 3,600 monikers. Skipper’s work is a treasure trove; a stunning look into baseball’s history and rich vernacular. Skipper referenced the 1969 edition of the Baseball Encyclopedia, and estimated that out of 10,112 baseball players, over a quarter of them had monikers besides their birth names. The heyday of nicknames was at the turn of the century, when there was on average 3 players on every team with a nickname in professional baseball. Skipper’s was most comprehensive when delving into the origins of those nicknames. The amount of research he performed for Baseball Nicknames is astonishing. Nearly every entry has a genesis for the nickname, obtained from friends, family, teammates or the players themselves. We often take nicknames for granted without considering why the moniker was given. Particularly fascinating is Skipper’s categorization of nicknames by what they were a reference to, including special baseball-related skills, prior occupations, favorite foods, and physical characteristics. Particularly surprising is the large number of players named after particular foods, including gems like “Pea Soup” Dumont and “Peach Pie” O’Conner. Skipper also catalogged the most frequently seen nicknames, with “Lefty” clocking in at over 153 instances, and “Red” in a close second at 120. A new edition of Baseball Nicknames was released in October 2011, and it belongs in the collection of any fan interested in the sport’s history. The book is over 300 pages of nicknames and their origin stories. The book branches beyond players to include umpires and managers. Hearing the personal stories of how each person received their monikers is riveting. Regarding Tim McGraw’s “Little Napoleon” nickname, Skipper references Douglas Wallop: “...The nickname is well founded in terms of both his autocratic methods and the impression he gave as he directed his team from the third base coach’s box-a short, stumpy figure assuming an attitude that seemed always to be the same as the years passed, even when the potbelly became more pronounced and the hair turned gray and then white, the face became grizzled and the small eyes seemed to grow even smaller as they became hemmed in with wrinkles.” A well given nickname can capture the essence of a player and expand on his personal legend. In the entry for August “Rubber-Winged Gus” Weyhing, Skipper writes, “Gus got his nickname from his practice of always soaking his arms in hot water and never letting a trainer touch it. He said it kept his wing loose. This habit enabled him to pitch for 14 502 186 1870 1880 214 1890 5’6” Miller Huggins, a second baseman who played from 1904 – 1916 stood at an intimidating 5 feet six inches, earning the moniker “Mighty Mite.” Contrast that with Jon Rauch, a pitcher who broke into the majors in 2006, who was six feet, eleven inches tall. The average height of a major league player is six feet tall. years with great success without ever suffering a sore arm. During that period, he pitched over 4,324 innings, winning 264 games and losing 234.” You will learn more about the backgrounds of the players and the colorful cultures they came from that shaped their playing styles. The wide variety of nicknames are just another layer of color and history that enriches the baseball watching experience. It’s such a wonderful honor to these men, influential and not, to have these intimate details and stories codified for fans to reference. If you are interested in the history, traditions and interpersonal stories of the game, this bok is a must own. 452 363 400 379 372 164 1900 1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 FREQUENCY OF BASEBALL NICKNAMES: 1870–1969 THE EEPHUS LEAGUE MAGAZINE | 29 These are the saddest “TINKER TO EVERS TO Trio of bear cubs, an Tinker and Evers and Ruthlessly pricking o Making a Giant hit in Words that are heavy trouble:“TINKER TO E 30 | THE EEPHUS LEAGUE MAGAZINE t of possible words: O CHANCE.” nd fleeter than birds, d Chance. our gonfalon bubble, nto a double – y with nothing but EVERS TO CHANCE.” TINKER TO EVERS TO CHANCE Franklin Pierce Adams THE EEPHUS LEAGUE MAGAZINE | 31 ART OF BASEBALL COLORFUL LANGUAGE I n time for the 2011 World Series, Reiss Design has created a limited edition print for baseball fans and design enthusiasts. America's pastime has its own unique language created mostly by sportswriters and announcers to add flavor to their reporting. Today, these words and phrases continue to be one of the entertaining aspects of the game. The slang terms were illustrated and designed to match the amusing nature of the lingo. All prints were produced by Hound Dog Press (Louisville, KY) on a 1950 Vandercook 4 letterpress. 32 | THE EEPHUS LEAGUE MAGAZINE Tony La Russa I Need Many New Pitchers Where Is My Loogy â€” Hannah