National Pastime Museum

THIS WEEK IN BASEBALL (TWIB)
Before there was an MLB Network, before there was ESPN’s Baseball Tonight, before local stations were able to run highlights from around the Major Leagues, there was the scrappy and much beloved This Week in Baseball. more

THE STRANGE CASE OF SPAHN V. MESSNER, INC.
Warren Spahn died in 2003 at the age of 82, and his legacy in baseball not only remains strong, but some of his accomplishments may never be matched in our lifetime. more

FRANK SCOTT
On the list of things we love about baseball, player agents don’t rank very high. But if you had known Frank Scott, it would have been different. He could charm anyone, except for the old Yankees General Manager George Weiss. more

BASEBALL BOOKS ON THE “NEW YORK TIMES” BEST SELLERS LIST
No baseball book hit the New York Times best sellers list in 2015, the first time that happened in 16 years. more

PETE ROSE: PART OF THE CONVERSATION
Pete Rose is as proud of his hit record as you would expect him to be—it defines him—but he also takes enormous pride in a lesser known record: most winning games played in. That’s quite a feat in itself. more

RETIRED NUMBERS
Ten years after being fired by the New York Yankees (after 10 pennants in 12 years as manager), Casey Stengel was in no mood to accept their Old Timers’ Day invitations. He was still bitter, and he turned down all previous invitations from the team. more

ORIGIN OF DH RULE
On January 11, 1973, about a month before spring training, the American League announced that it would begin using a controversial new rule for the ’73 season—“the designated pinch-hitter rule.” more

MANTLE COACHING AT FIRST
The 1970 New York Yankees were in the midst of their long drought between pennants (1964 to 1976 was the actual span), and despite the emerging stardom of Thurman Munson and Bobby Murcer, the team was challenged at the box office, especially since the retirement of Mickey Mantle, which he announced in spring training of 1969. more

TV Coverage
There was a time in baseball when the baseball writers could rightfully claim to be the only ones qualified to vote for the Hall of Fame, largely because they witnessed so many hundreds of games. And you didn’t. That was because you—those watching at home on TV (“Don’t touch that dial!”) —were seeing double images (ghosting), while walking around the room holding rabbit ears, searching for the best possible picture. It was “low-res TV,” and we were happy to take what they gave us. It was often a hopeless cause, made good only by not realizing better days were coming. more

Earle Combs
What does a guy have to do in front of Yankees fans to get a little respect? Hit .325 lifetime?During the 16 years that Bernie Williams patrolled center field for the New York Yankees (and before him Bobby Murcer, among others), there was frequent talk of that piece of real estate being “sacred” in the annals of Yankee Stadium history—hallowed ground, as it were, for its having been manned by Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, almost continuously from 1936 to 1966. more

The Chipmunks
The death in December 2015 of New York–based sportswriter Phil Pepe–an original “Chipmunk”–saddened the city’s baseball community, including his devoted readers, who enjoyed his many years with the New York Daily News and his output of more than four dozen books. more

Paul Schreiber
When one-time relief-ace Andrew Bailey took the mound for the New York Yankees this past summer, much was made of it being his first Major League appearance in two years. Well, Paul Schreiber went 22 years between appearances in a Major League box score. more

1961 Season
In the 1961 All-Star Game (actually, two all-star games were played), the National League roster included Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Frank Robinson, Ernie Banks, Stan Musial, Sandy Koufax, Warren Spahn, Orlando Cepeda, Don Drysdale and Eddie Mathews – 11 future Hall of Famers on the 28-man roster. more

Monte Irvin
The death of Monte Irvin in January, a month shy of his 97th birthday, robbed baseball of one of the finest gentleman to ever play the game, and robbed historians of the go-to source for anything about the Negro Leagues. more

Origin of DH Rule
On January 11, 1973, just about a month before spring training, the American League announced that it would begin using a controversial new rule for the ’73 season – “the designated pinch-hitter rule”. more

Sy Berger’s Baseball Cards
When Sy Berger died at his Long Island, New York, home in December 2014 at age 91, the story ran everywhere—from the front page of the New York Times to NBC Nightly News, and even “Weekend Update” on Saturday Night Live. Surely, a lot of people were scratching their heads over this one. “Who in the world was Sy Berger?” more

Herbert Hoover Gets Booed at the World Series
Politicians in modern America know that being introduced at a sports event comes with some risk. Sports fans, especially after a beer or two, are pretty uninhibited about letting their feelings known for elected officials. As fans have discovered, stadium security will not throw them out onto the street if they boo. more

Baseball Fever Tom Villante’s Life in Major League Baseball
A lot of batboys have “made good” in life, and no doubt the responsibilities instilled in them during those teen years have been a factor. But Tom Villante, who was the New York Yankees batboy in 1944–45, has had a dazzling career, largely in and around baseball, in the years since. more

Game 7, 1960 WORLD SERIES
On October 13, 1960, the New York Yankees faced the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 7 of the World Series at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, a game that would be Casey Stengel’s last as Yankee manager. more

THE LAST EXPO AND OTHER SURVIVORS
Willie Mays—the last New York Giants player—in 1973 which was his final season. One of these years, one of these players will appear in his final Major League game and depart with a dubious distinction. more

NO LONGER UNWRITTEN
There is a fascinating exhibition this year at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. It is called “Chasing Dreams,” and although the venue would suggest a Jewish theme, it is in fact an exhibition of how the nation’s immigrant population—Irish, Italian, Latin American, Asian, Jewish, and others—used baseball as a means of assimilating into American culture. more

LOU GEHRIG APPRECIATION DAY AT 75
Seventy-five years ago, July 4, 1939, in what has come to be called the day of “Baseball’s Gettysburg Address,” Lou Gehrig delivered an unscripted yet brilliant farewell to baseball before an overflow holiday doubleheader crowd at Yankee Stadium. more

DAMON RUNYON’S GUYS AND DOLLS
Sometimes when we write these essays, “Twilight Zone” moments happen. On the day I sat down to write about Damon Runyon, my wife was running in a 5K race at Yankee Stadium to raise money for the Damon Runyon Cancer Fund.

As I read an obituary on Runyon from 1946, I noted that the last sentence said he was living at the Hotel Buckingham on 57th Street and Sixth Avenue at the time of his death. I raised my head from the computer keyboard and looked out my window. The Hotel Buckingham. more

KING KELLY: BASEBALL’S FIRST CELEBRITY
This year marks the 125th anniversary of the first baseball biography (or in this case, autobiography). It was in 1888, at the peak of his fame, that Mike  “King” Kelly’s “Play Ball: Stories of the Ball Field” was published.

It must be emphasized how difficult it was to achieve “fame” at that time, let alone be worthy of a book. Before radio became a force in American culture in the 1920s, and before national magazines like Collier’s and the Saturday Evening Post made their marks at the turn of the century, the idea of being a national celebrity really didn’t exist. more

CRACKER JACK OLD TIMERS GAMES
Between 1982 and 1990, an annual old timers game was played, first in Washington, D.C., and then in Buffalo, New York—an event that drew national attention from its very first inning. It was known as the Cracker Jack Old Timers Baseball Classic, and it was the brainchild of former Atlanta Braves Vice President Dick Cecil. more

Roger Peckinpaugh
In 1974 I was writing my first book, Baseball’s Best, with biographies of all the Hall of Famers, and I decided to interview Roger Peckinpaugh, who in 1914 became, and remains, the youngest manager in Major League history. He was 23. more

My First Game: Ebbets Field 1955
I think most people take their children to their first game at too young an age. I know I did. I took my son to his first game when he wasn’t even three. He loved the ice cream, and when a Seattle Mariners player offered him a baseball, he turned it down. He was too busy with the ice cream. And I’m sure he has little recollection of the afternoon. My own story is similar, but it has some interesting twists. more

Red Ruffing
On Saturday afternoon, August 5, 1939, Red Ruffing went out and did what he usually did when he started a game for the New York Yankees. Pitching off the very flat mound of Yankee Stadium, Ruffing hurled a complete game 6–1 victory over Cleveland, allowing seven hits and a walk (the run was unearned). As a batter, he went 2 for 2 with a home run (Joe DiMaggio also homered). The game took one hour and 37 minutes and was played before 13,207 fans. Just another day at the office for Red. more

Berra-Dickey
This is the story of two Yankee catchers and how the legacy of one soared while the other remained in place. In other words, it is the story of how one player can get better after retirement, and the other not, even though neither has had another hit nor thrown out another runner in all these years. We are talking about Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra, both of whom had their uniform No. 8 retired, the only time two players had one number retired. more

The Mexican League Raids and the Last Full-Season Suspensions
If Alex Rodriguez’s season-long ban holds up in 2014, he will be the first Major Leaguer to miss a full season for disciplinary reasons since Commissioner Happy Chandler banned the Mexican League “jumpers” for five years following their 1946 defections. more

Bobby Richardson
Sport Magazine used to run small notices about joining fan clubs, and there it was in 1961, the address to join the Bobby Richardson Fan Club, operating out of New Jersey. Perfect. I was in. Bobby was my guy. more

Harry Craft–Baseball Lifer
It was probably September 9 or 10 in 1959, when the manager of the Kansas City Athletics, Harry Craft, sidled over to Casey Stengel during batting practice at Yankee Stadium for a friendly chat. Harry of course, knew Casey. Everyone knew Casey, and so too did everyone seem to know Harry, one of the best-connected, best-liked men in the game. more

Ring Lardner
I was thinking about Ring Lardner when the Mets sent Ike Davis to the minor leagues in June. And we’ll get to that in a moment. One thing I really like about Ring’s life, a century after his fame started to take hold, is that he was really just one of us – a sportswriter! And he wound up being spoken of in the same breath with F. Scott Fitzgerald – a great man of letters, an American original. more

Baseball’s Centennial “Greatest Players Ever” Poll
At the time, it was the cornerstone of baseball’s centennial celebration, a much heralded, fan-driven promotion designed to get everyone involved with the festivities. It was 1969, the centennial of professional baseball, 100 years since the Cincinnati Red Stockings started paying salaries for playing ball. more

Derek Jeter: Channeling Mickey Mantle’s Farewell Season
Watching Derek Jeter’s final season unfold brings both joy and sadness for this lifelong Yankee observer and one-time club employee. The joy is in celebrating the 20 years of memories, and the sadness is, of course, that it is coming to a close. more

Mel Ott & His Enduring Home Run Record
The tragic death of St. Louis Cardinals rookie Oscar Taveras during the World Series, victim of an auto accident in the Dominican Republic, brings to mind another ballplayer who died a similar death, albeit long after his distinguished career had ended. more