Quite a Glove

April 24, 2013 § Leave a comment


Vintage snapshot of boy posing in his batting stance with glove on hip, circa 1920s/'30s

Batting Stance, c 1920s/1930s

A backyard pose, with glove close at hand. I’ve blown up a detail of the boy below, as it’s a little hard to see the great glove in the full photo. I picture him heading off to a game right afterwards, though I am not actually sure how many leagues they had for kids at the time (Little League baseball began in 1939 with just three teams, and until 1947 was limited to Pennsylvania). There are many snapshots of boys from that era in uniform, and I assume that at times they were on actual teams, but suppose that in many cases they were just wearing uniforms they were given by their parents.

Close-up of boy in batting stance, showing the glove hanging from his hip

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Jackie Robinson at Pasadena Junior College, 1937

April 14, 2013 § 1 Comment


1937 yearbook photo of baseball player Jackie Robinson

An 18-year-old Jackie Robinson in his first year at Pasadena Junior College

What is now Pasadena City College in Pasadena, California was previously known as Pasadena Junior College, and the 1937 yearbook for the school features “Tech transfer” Jack Robinson (as he is called in the baseball and track sections) in his P. J.C. Bulldog uniform (though he seems to have missed the team photo). The 8-page varsity baseball section also includes brief accounts of the season’s games, an example of which is included below. It is full of charming lingo, such as “horsehiders,” and descriptions like the one of a batter who “swung a mighty bludgeon in this fray, and sent one out over the fence.” Interestingly, it seems the College also played company teams at times — Pasadena’s last two games took place on “the beautiful Emerald Isle of Catalina” (which in those years also served as the spring training home of the Chicago Cubs) against “a strong Firestone Tire team,” with which Pasadena split two games.

Text from the 1937 PCC yearbook baseball section mentioning a young Jackie Robinson's performance

A triple for horsehider Robinson; in the fourth he “cracked a double”

Herman “Germany” Schaefer

April 10, 2013 § Leave a comment


Vintage 1913 photo of baseball player Germany Schaefer leaping to catch a ball

Germany Schaefer in a non-comedic pose, 1913 (Bain Collection, Library of Congress)

This negative from the Bain Collection in the Library of Congress depicts Germany Schaefer during his time with the Washington Senators, for whom he played from 1910 to 1914. One of the early baseball “clowns,” Schaefer is perhaps best-known for stealing first base (at least once; an anecdote about a possible second instance, related by Davy Jones in The Glory of Their Times, does not seem able to be verified). In the ninth inning of a tie game in 1911, on first base with a runner on third, Schaefer stole second. Failing to draw the throw he had hoped might allow the runner from third to score, he headed back to first base on the next pitch. This started an argument, and after much chaos the runner on third, Clyde Milan, finally broke for home and was thrown out (though the Senators went on to win the game anyway). Several years later baseball instituted a rule that forbade such shenanigans. Rule 52, known to some as the “German Schaefer Rule,” states that  “A base-runner having acquired legal title to a base cannot run bases in reverse order for the purpose of confusing the fielders or making a travesty of the game.”

Travesties or not, Schaefer’s antics were legion, and you can read much more about them in this excellent piece. Schaefer seems to have felt that his pranks were of some actual value, once commenting that the approach “keeps our fellows in good spirits, and it sometimes distracts the opposing players.” And as the long-time Detroit baseball writer Harry Salsinger once wrote, “As a drawing card, Herman ranks second only to Cobb.”

Sadly, Schaefer died of complications of tuberculosis in 1919 at the age of 43, just over a year after playing his last major league game.

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