My favorite quote from this USA TODAY piece on two of my favorite players :
“When you face those guys back-to-back, you should get paid double,” Houston Astros reliever Pat Neshek said. “They’re the greatest 1-2 punch in the game. You look at Trout, and it feels like you’re facing a young Mickey Mantle. And then you face Pujols, and it feels like you’re facing an older Mickey Mantle.”
Here’s hoping that Pujols can finally stay healthy long enough for him and Trout to match and exceed the production put forth by Mantle and Maris in their peak years. Like my son has said “what a wonderful time to be a baseball fan”, watching these two in action together on the same team. Two great players at two different stages of their careers, one a can’t miss Hall of Famer and the other a very probable one. Pure baseball joy.
Mike Trout-Albert Pujols stokes comparisons to Mickey Mantle-Roger Maris.
Hampton Institute Cubs, 1910. Photo colorized by Gary Chanko.
Hampton Normal Institute in Virginia (now Hampton University) was started as an educational institution for both African American freed slaves and Native Americans in 1868. Booker T. Washington was among Hampton’s first students when the first record of baseball at Hampton appeared in a Harper’s Monthly article about the school in 1873.
In 1901, baseball took over campus and as many as 14 teams were on campus. In 1910, Rube Foster brought his famous Chicago Giants to town to take on both Hampton and Atlanta University. This same team, the”Hampton Institute Cubs” posed for a team photo under a banner proclaiming them to be “Hampton BB League of 1910-11 Champions.” The next year, The Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) was founded in Hampton with the Institute as a charter member, where the office remains today. In 1915, the siblings of Philadelphia Athletics pitcher Chief Bender attended Hampton Institute. Not much else exists (on the internet anyway) about the team itself from 1915 to around 1958.
Throughout the 50’s and 60’s, the Pirates repeatedly turned out numerous all-conference players. In 1972, Hampton University ceased all baseball activities, curiously after their coach Bobby C. Martin was named CIAA Coach of the year. To this day, Hampton University (now a member of the MEAC) is the only NCAA Division I school in the Hampton Roads area without a baseball team. Only one professional player for the Hampton Pirates is in the Baseball Reference database: Jody Williams, who had 47 ABs for Pittsburgh’s affiliate in low-A Watertown in 1987, 15 years after Hampton shuttered it’s program.
Obscure Team of the Week is a new feature in which we recount historic minor league, negro league, and foreign teams throughout baseball history.
I know I am late posting this as far as anniversary dates go , but before we leave July, I feel I have to write a post commemorating the 1970 MLB All Star game, so here goes. 45 years ago this month on July 14,1970, the 41st Major League Baseball All Star Game was held in my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio and while I was an emerging baseball fanatic, I can honestly say I have no memory of this game. I remember going to one of the last games at Crosley Field earlier that Spring and I even remember going to see one of the first games at the newly christened Riverfront Stadium earlier that Summer, but of this classic game that ended with the famous Pete Rose /Ray Fosse collision, I have no personal recollection. Much is made of the fact that between the two teams, 21 Hall of Famers were on the rosters ( plus non Hall of Famer Pete Rose as well), but a quick glance at other MLB All Star games of the years immediately after it show that this was not uncommon for this time period. In fact, the 1970 All Star game was the first of four MLB All Star games in the early 1970s where the great players from that generation were on full display. Consider this fact – in each of the next three MLB All Star games following the 1970 game, there were 25, 29 and 22 Hall of Famers on the combined respective rosters of the two leagues. My personal memories of the Midsummer Classic started the year after this game with the 1971 game at Tiger Stadium when Johnny Bench, Frank Robinson, Harmon Killebrew and Reggie Jackson all hit home runs to provide all of the scoring in a 6-4 win for the AL. Below is a collection of images from the 1970 game starting with batting practice and various players hanging out around the batting cage and ending with multiple images of the iconic Rose/Fosse collision at home plate. To me, they are priceless because they commemorate a brief moment in the summer of 1970 when so many of my baseball heroes, from my favorite generation of players, were in my hometown playing at my hometown team’s stadium. For those who may have trouble recognizing some of the more non obvious players, I have provided a link to the comprehensive box score from the game from Baseball Reference.com here – 1970 MLB All Star Game Box Score
Crosley Field circa 1970
Before starting this blog fresh and anew, I found myself spending some time thinking about why I have an eternal love for baseball in the first place. What I came up with was this – the main reason I love baseball is because of the two things it does for me . The first thing is that, to borrow from James Earl Jones’ famous monologue in the deeply flawed, but at times beautiful baseball movie, Field of Dreams , “it marks the time”. It does this not only for my own history and life, but for that of the country of my birth, America, as well. Perusing the stories associated with the game’s beginnings in America in the 1800s and tracing how the game of baseball became the game it is today is a great way to supplement any study of the history of this great nation of ours. All of this country’s inherent promises and contradictions laden in its sometimes glorious and sometimes heart wrenching history, are represented somewhere in the saga of baseball as well. The game of baseball is both a product of American culture and a reflection of it at the same time.
The second thing I can say the game does for me is that at times, it transports me to a place that can best be described as that sacred intersection in my mind where my teeming imagination and precious memories of the eternal summers of my childhood meet and intermingle. This part of my brain is inhabited by the gods, demigods, court jesters and citizens of the game, past and present. Its at these times that images of any given ballpark (preferably with natural grass) can become a dream like paradise to me, my own personal mythical Elysian Field , if you will.
You see, for me, baseball will always be the eternal passageway back to my days of growing up as a kid from the Midwest whose only worry for the day was whether it was going to rain or not. There would be days around this time of the year, July/August in Cincinnati, Ohio, that me and my compatriots would play from the AM hours, when you could still feel the morning dew saturating the grass, until the PM hours when dangerously enough, you could barely see the ball any more. Baseball is a love that no matter how long I stay away, she always welcomes me back with open arms with a glove on one hand and a gleaming white ball in the other. And it is in those times that I am reminded that dreaming and new dreams are always possible and my feverish affection for the game burns bright, fresh and anew like a 100 mph fastball speeding towards the heart of the plate.
So there you have it – the reasons why I will always love baseball in all of its incarnations and with all of its inconsistencies. Now on with the blog…:)