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A Look Back...99 years ago
[Posted Wed. a.m.]
Baseball Quiz: Yes, for some this is easy, but what Hall of Fame pitcher set the record for most home runs allowed in a season at 50? Answer below.
--I love baseball’s new hard trade deadline of July 31, seven hours away as I go to post, instead of the old two-tiered deal. Whether or not we get a slew of moves today remains to be seen, but the Mets shook things up Sunday when they acquired Toronto hurler Marcus Stroman for two pitching prospects. Stroman had been linked to the Yankees, among others, and some in baseball are upset at the low price the Blue Jays got in return when you’d think the Yankees would have offered more.
Stroman, a Long Island native, was set on becoming a Yank, but being a member of the other New York franchise shouldn’t be all bad. The fan base will no doubt give him a big reception when he takes the mound. Plus the Mets have team control through 2020. Maybe they flip him next season if the club isn’t performing. But we hope that isn’t the case.
The Mets then traded starter Jason Vargas, who had been effective, 6-5, 4.01, to the Phillies for six cheesesteaks and some Shoofly Pie. [One of my favorites...a Pennsylvania Dutch treat.]
But as Mets fans wondered what the team would do with Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler, the one thing the Mets did in acquiring Stroman, and taking him off the market, was it made Noah and Zack more valuable to contending clubs desperate for a mid-rotation starter down the stretch.
--So the Yankees, in obvious need of help in the starting rotation, and Cleveland’s Trevor Bauer seemed to be a natural fit; his quirky, volatile reputation aside, but then the Indians, Padres and Reds pulled off a rather stunning three-way trade that has Bauer in a Cincinnati uniform, the Reds’ Yasiel Puig and his 22 home runs, plus the Padres’ Franmil Reyes and his 27 dingers to Cleveland (which received other pieces as well), while the Padres obtained a highly-touted outfield prospect, Taylor Trammell.
Who knows what the Reds will do with Bauer in terms of the long-term. The Yankees appear to have been scared off by his projected contract for 2020, $20 millionish after arbitration, which would push the Yanks well over the $200 million line for luxury tax purposes.
So now what? Seven hours to go. The Yankees aren’t winning a World Series with the rotation pieces they have today. They have to overpay a little for Arizona’s Robbie Ray at this point.
--Entering Tuesday’s play, the Phillies’ Bryce Harper has just 18 home runs in 108 games. As the Washington Post’s Thomas Boswell writes, tied with the likes of Paul DeJong, C.J. Cron, and Roughned Odor. “Per-at-bat, he’s not top 100.”
“The reason is simple, for now. There are three places in the strike zone you can pitch Harper where he almost never hits a homer. Unfortunately for the Philadelphia Phillies, those spots are anywhere up, anywhere away and anywhere down.
“Look at Harper’s ‘pitch chart’ at MLB.com, which divides the strike zone into nine areas. So far this year he has seen 596 pitches that were strikes in either the top third, the outer third or the bottom third of the strike zone. He has hit just five home runs – or one every 119 pitches.
“There are just two of the nine boxes on that chart where Harper has shown power: right down the middle and waist-high on the inner third of the plate. He has seen 187 in those spots and hit 13 home runs – or one every 14 pitches.
“That is an incredible disparity between huge areas of weakness and a very small area where ‘mistake pitches’ will be clobbered.
“Pitchers with good control have faced Harper with little fear this season because in the four corner boxes of the zone he has gotten 314 pitches and hit zero homers.”
But Harper, with 72 RBIs, is on pace for 111, which isn’t chopped liver, though the lack of homers is alarming. Phillies fans have him through 2031!
Boswell, who has been following Harper closely since day one, thinks “Harper will probably find his way back and put up at least a couple of more future seasons akin to his MVP year in 2015 and his fine 2017 before injury.
“But I’ve thought that for two seasons. And the trend is going the other way.”
Meanwhile, the other big free-agent of last offseason, Manny Machado, is actually doing just fine. 26 home runs, 67 RBIs, .278 BA, .863 OPS. Tough to criticize it. It’s just that the Padres, who got off to a solid 16-11 start, are 50-57 thru Tuesday. Very disappointing.
Carl Mays, Ray Chapman, George Burns and Joe Sewell....
So last time as I was rushing to finish my Sunday night column (as I always am), I didn’t mention something rather obvious about Carl Mays because I didn’t want to then have to get into a story I’ve told before. Carl Mays beaned Ray Chapman, who is still baseball’s only fatality on the diamond as the result of an injury.
And so I go way back to the Bar Chat archives, Aug. 2006, for a retelling of the Ray Chapman story.
There have been a number of close calls in baseball recently, including the horrific collision in the outfield the other day involving the Mets’ Carlos Beltran and Mike Cameron, with Cameron requiring major facial surgery. Others have been beaned or, in the case of a few pitchers such as Matt Clement, been hit in the head with a line drive up the middle. And some of us still vividly remember the Sports Illustrated cover from 1967 when Tony Conigliaro was smashed in the face by a Jack Hamilton fastball. Tony C.’s promising career was essentially over, despite a game comeback attempt that included one more spectacular season.
But it was on August 16, 1920, that the Cleveland Indians’ talented shortstop Ray Chapman was beaned by Carl Mays of the New York Yankees. Chapman died the next day, still the only fatality in the history of the game. The following is a history of that day.
From the Cleveland News, August 17
CHAPMAN DEAD, STRUCK BY BALL
PLAYERS DEMAND MAYS GO
Operation To Save
Indian’s Life Fails
New York – Raymond Chapman, shortstop of the Cleveland Indians, died at 4:50 this morning in St. Lawrence hospital of a fractured skull, as the result of being hit on the head by a pitched ball thrown by Carl Mays, a pitcher of the New York Yankees in yesterday’s game at the Polo Grounds.
Colonel Jacob Ruppert, president of the Yankee club, upon learning of Chapman’s death, immediately announced there would be no game today between the Cleveland and Yankee clubs.
As a result of the death of Chapman, Tris Speaker, manager of the Indians and roommate of the shortstop is ill.
The district attorney’s office indicated today it was not planning to investigate yesterday’s accident. A formal police investigation, however, was started when a detective was sent to interview Pitcher Mays.
Mays later voluntarily appeared at the homicide bureau where he was examined by Assistant District Attorney Joyce. After the interview Joyce declared Chapman’s death was due to accident purely, and indicated no further investigation by the district attorney or the police would follow.
To Father Connors, of Philadelphia, who married the Chapmans, fell the duty of breaking the news of her husband’s death to Mrs. Chapman on her arrival here. She was so overcome by grief she had to postpone a visit to the undertaking rooms, where the body was taken.
Chapman was operated on at 12:30 this morning, after a conference of several surgeons. Chapman had been growing worse steadily during the evening and it was agreed it would be unwise to delay the operation.
An X-ray photograph of the injury earlier in the evening had disclosed the fact Chapman had sustained a depressed fracture on the left side of the skull.
The operation required one hour. The surgeons made an incision three and a half inches long through the base of the skull on the left side.
Chapman was the first batter in the fifth inning and he was hit with the first ball pitched. He seemed to have been looking for a curve and did not make any effort to move before he was hit. Then he collapsed.
The loss, terrible as it is to the Cleveland players, is not theirs alone. Chapman was one of the representative players of the game. He was popular with baseball fans all over the circuit and enjoyed the love and esteem of his fellow players.
Eliminating the human side of the tragedy, if this be possible, baseball fans realized a terrific smash has been dealt to the pennant hopes and chances of the Indians. Unless Speaker, the great gray leader of the Tribe, can perform the task of Atlas, we may say the chances of the Injuns fell with Chapman.
[Ed. More on this last bit in a moment.]
“A Flower From a Fan”
The News suggest that each fan – man, woman and kiddie – buy one flower for Ray Chapman, that is, contribute ten cents to pay for one flower to go into an immense floral offering for Chappie’s funeral.
Take your dime to the First National Bank and by so doing you will be paying tribute to the memory of the greatest shortstop and most gentlemanly player Cleveland has ever had.
Chappie never was one for showiness in any manner, shape or form. He was just a plain every day sort of a fellow, and we believe that if he could have his own way about it, “A Florwer From a Fan” tribute would please him more than anything else.
Ray Chapman, a Tribute
By Ed Bang [sportswriter]
He was clean cut, high-minded, honest and straightforward. He had a personality that was contagious, for once you met Ray you were glad to list him among your friends. Chappie was just as much at home in the ballroom in the highest society as he was among his diamond associates on the field, on the bench or in the clubhouse.
Chappie did not live to realize his life ambition, that of playing on a pennant-winning and possibly a world’s championship team, and that when it seemed almost within his grasp. There was some talk about Ray’s retiring from baseball following his marriage to Miss Kathleen Daly last fall, but Ray said that he would not quit the game until he had helped his best friend, Tris Speaker, win a pennant and world’s championship.
[Source: “Baseball Extra,” from the Eric C. Caren collection]
Well, player-manager Speaker, one of the sport’s all-time greats, did rally a demoralized Cleveland squad. From “The Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball 2005”:
Speaker proved magnificent. A close fight with the White Sox and Yankees was won in September by the Indians when shortstop Joe Sewell and pitcher Walter ‘Duster’ Mails were recalled and chipped in with key performances. The Sox stayed close all year, despite dissension between ‘honest’ and ‘crooked’ players [as a result of the ongoing investigation into the 1919 World Series], and might have won it again, to the embarrassment of all baseball, had not stars Jackson, Weaver, Felsch, Cicotte, and Williams been exposed by the grand jury and thrown off the team with only two weeks remaining in the season. [More like one week, to be accurate.]
Final Standings, 1920
New York 95-59
Cleveland then beat Brooklyn in the World Series.
1920 was also the year the livelier ball was introduced. But lively ball or not, it was incredible that Babe Ruth led the majors with 54 homes and #2, George Sisler of St. Louis, had but 19. Ruth outhomered every other American League squad (and all except Philly in the National League).
For the Black Sox, incidentally, Chicago’s Weaver and Jackson both had over 200 hits, as did innocent teammate Eddie Collins, while Lefty Williams, another who was suspended late, went 22-14.
Meanwhile, the Yankees’ Carl Mays finished up 26-11; part of a career that saw him go 207-127. [Ed. since adjusted to 207-126.] And for the record, Ray Chapman batted .278 with 1,053 hits. The pride of Beaver Dam, Kentucky, was just 29.
But back to the aforementioned Joe Sewell, the other day I mentioned George Burns and his 64 doubles in 1926. It was back in 1920, though, as Sewell prepared for his first game, that Burns reached into his locker and handed the rookie one of his own 44-ounce black bats. “Here, take this,” Burns said. “It’s a good bat. Make sure you take care of it.” And Sewell did just that. He named the bat “Black Betsy,” and it lasted him throughout a career that saw him become known as the hardest batter to fan in the game’s history.
Burns would go on to win Game 6 of the World Series with a sixth-inning double for the 1-0 victory.
Meanwhile, Sewell would put together a Hall of Fame career, batting .312, with 2,226 hits, while striking out 114 times...FOR HIS CAREER IN 7,132 at-bats!!! The most he fanned in a single season was 20, and in his last nine seasons never whiffed more than nine times for a full campaign.
And now you know, the rest of the story....
--While there aren’t a lot of high-profile figures at this week’s Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., there will no doubt be high drama on Sunday as the field fights to either stay in the FedEx Cup playoff hunt (and pick up their Tour card for next season), or go home for the remainder of the summer.
The playoffs, as you know, are just three events this year, not four as in the past, beginning with the Northern Trust at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey, where the field will be cut from 125 to 70. [Then it’s 70 to 30 at the BMW Championship in Medinah, Il., and then the Tour Championship in Atlanta.]
So with the cut at 125, some big names need, first and foremost, to make the cut and hope for a big Saturday and Sunday.
Pat Perez....122 in the FedEx Cup standings
Daniel Berger...131...kind of shocked where he is
Bill Haas...140...two recent awful Sundays cost him big time
As for Tiger Woods, he’s No. 27 in the point standings and doesn’t necessarily have to play in the first round at Liberty National, especially since he won two PGAs at Medinah, in 1999 and 2006, so you’d expect him to want to play there. He’s going to have to play somewhere to ensure Top 30 for East Lake. But there are obvious questions about his health after The Open.
--The schedule is out for the 2019-’20 Tour season. The new “year” begins in early September, following the playoffs.
You will still have a significant tournament in six straight months, the Players’ in March, the Masters in April, the PGA Championship in May, the U.S. Open in June, the Open Championship in July and the FedEx Cup Playoffs in August.
But the tour has to cater to the sport’s participation in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, so there will be no tournament during the Summer Games’ golf competition.
One of the biggest changes involves the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. Instead of it following The Open, it will be in-between the U.S. Open and Open Championship, which is much better for the players.
But one event that will suffer is the 3M Open, which had a stellar debut featuring the duel between Matthew Wolff and Colin Morikawa. Now it will be held between The Open Championship and the Olympics. The Travelers Championship will also suffer. While the U.S. Open is being held just down the road at Winged Foot, the Travelers is now in between the Open and the WGC event, so the field will obviously be limited.
The Irish Open is another victim. It will be competing with the WGC-FedEx tournament, which sucks. So that impacts the Irish-Scottish-British trifecta for links fans.
Another one, the Northern Trust, will begin its Massachusetts – New York seesaw by heading to TPC Boston in August. The BMW Championship the following week will be at Olympia Fields in Chicago.
The fall portion of the schedule begins Sept. 9 in West Virginia at the Greenbrier, along with the Houston Open, moved from its summer spot to autumn.
I’m looking forward to a new event this fall in Bermuda to be held at Port Royal, which is a terrific course I played a number of times going way back. The nearby Southampton Princess will be a real beehive of activity. But I used to stay at the Pompano Beach Club, which is next to the course.
--The PGA Tour is changing its ‘cut’ policy next season. Currently, players advance after 36 holes if they are in the top 70 and ties, with a secondary 54-hole cut if there are 78 or more players who advance.
But for the 2019-20 season the number of players advancing to play the final 36 will be the top 65 and ties, with no secondary cut.
The issue has been some tournaments have pace of play issues with limited available daylight.
Of course there are players who don’t like the policy because you are messing with their livelihood.
But a member of the Tour’s Advisory Council, Paul Casey, put it well. “It’s a capitalist sport. You play well, you do well.
“I’ve been on both sides of it, and I still firmly believe you make your own success, so I’m a fan of it. As long as we’re not taking away opportunities to get into events, and I don’t think this is taking away earnings or opportunities for players. This is the right thing to do. We have to protect the product. We have too many three-balls and two-tee starts on the weekend.”
--Commissioner Roger Goodell has been ordered by a judge to testify under oath – along with three game officials – in a lawsuit that centers on the blown pass interference no-call in the Rams-Saints NFC Championship Game from last season. Goodell and the officials are scheduled to be deposed in September.
The no-call, as the world knows, boosted the Rams to the Super Bowl and led to pass interference being a replay-reviewable call for 2019 (essentially on a trial basis).
The NFL is filing an appeal and unless they win, it certainly looks like Goodell will have to testify. The lawsuit’s damages are capped at just $75,000, which would be donated to former Saints special-teams standout Steve Gleason’s charity promoting ALS research and support for ALS patients.
--We note the passing of former star running back of the San Diego Chargers, Keith Lincoln. He was 80.
Lincoln played all but one season with the Chargers, 1961-68, rushing for 3,383 yards, 4.5 avg., with 165 receptions, 13.6 avg., and 19 TDs both rushing and receiving.
But it was 1963 for which Keith Lincoln will forever be known among Chargers fans. He rushed for 826 yards that season on only 128 carries, a sterling 6.5 avg. per carry!
And then in the 1963 AFL championship game against the Boston Patriots, Lincoln had perhaps the single-best performance in title game history, rushing for 206 yards on 13 carries, while catching seven passes for another 123 yards, with a TD on the ground and one receiving. He also completed a pass for 20 yards, 349 total yards – a record for an AFL or NFL player that stood until 1971, when Ed Podolak of the Chiefs gained 350 yards running, receiving and returning kicks in a divisional playoff game against the Dolphins...one of the more memorable games in NFL history, I hasten to add. [Played on Christmas Day, it had the nation’s attention. The Chiefs, however, lost 27-24 in overtime.]
Back to the Chargers, they blitzed the Patriots, 51-10, for the only title in their history.
Keith Lincoln was born in Reading, Mich., and moved to Monrovia, Calif., when he was young. He turned down a scholarship from UCLA to attend Washington State, where he set what were then career records for rushing and punting average.
Lincoln, after his playing career, eventually found his way back to Pullman and was an assistant coach for the Cougars, before becoming involved with the alumni association, where he served as executive director from 1978-2003.
--Last Sunday’s NASCAR event at Pocono Raceway was wrapping up as I posted and Denny Hamlin pulled away on the final restart for his third victory of the season and 34th overall, giving Joe Gibbs Racing its 11th win in 21 starts this season. As Ronald Reagan would have said of the Hall of Fame Redskins coach turned racing titan, ‘Not bad, not bad at all.’
Hamlin held off teammates Erik Jones and Martin Truex Jr.
--They wrapped up the U.S. outdoor track and field championships in Des Moines (Drake University) Sunday night and Dalilah Muhammad, the gold medalist at the 2016 Olympics in the 400m hurdles, broke a record that had stood since August 2003, held by Russian Yuliya Pechonkina, with the 29-year-old Muhammad, from New York City, running a 52.20 over a rain-drenched track.
Sydney McLaughlin, the 19-year-old phenom from Scotch Plains, about seven minutes from Summit (where my perch is), finished second.
This fall’s world championships are in Qatar and the U.S. is looking for a sweep in this event.
In other events of note, the fastest American was crowned...Christian Coleman, who won the 100m in 9.99. He also finished second in the 200.
Lopez Lomong, 34, won both the 5000 and 10000. Man this guy has been around a long time.
Matthew Centrowitz, the shocking reigning Olympic gold medalist in the 1,500, finished second in Des Moines to Craig Engels at the tape. I just saw that Engels is from Winston-Salem, but he went to school at Ole Miss. Engels and Centrowitz qualified for the world championships.
And I love what happened in the men’s 800m. Donavan Brazier and Clayton Murphy, the reigning Olympic bronze medalist, are training partners, and rivals. Brazier, ranked fifth in the world these days, pulled away in the final 200 and beat Murphy.
As Brazier conducted a post-race interview, Murphy made clear they’re friendly rivals. “Come on, we got drug testing!” Murphy shouted at him. “The bar is going to be closed by the time we get out of here!”
Top 3 songs for the week of 8/5/72: #1 “Alone Again (Naturally)” (Gilbert O’Sullivan...my annual shot at saying this is among the most depressing songs in history....) #2 “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” (Looking Glass) #3 “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want To Be Right” (Luther Ingram)...and...#4 “Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast” (Wayne Newton...in Vegas he is still going strong...) #5 “Too Late To Turn Back Now” (Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose) #6 “Where Is The Love” (Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway...brilliant tune...Donny dying way too early...) #7 “School’s Out” (Alice Cooper...has held up well...) #8 “How Do You Do?” (Mouth & MacNeal...decent tune that in a bar no way anyone could identify who sang it...) #9 “Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)” (The Hollies) #10 “Layla” (Derek & The Dominos...da da da da da da daaaaa.....solid week, A-....)
Baseball Quiz Answer: HOFer Bert Blyleven allowed a record 50 home runs in 1986, but went 17-14, 4.01, that year. The following season, 1987, he gave up 46 homers, yet was 15-12, with the same 4.01 ERA. What is really weird about Blyleven’s record is that in no other season in his 22-year career did he allow more than 24.
1969 Mets, cont’d....
The Astros came into town and after a rainout on Tuesday, the teams had to play two Wednesday.
July 30: Houston annihilated the Mets 16-3, as Dennis Menke and Jimmy Wynn each hit grand slams in the ninth inning, the first time in National League history two teammates had accomplished the feat in the same frame. Houston scored 11 runs in the ninth overall. Jerry Koosman allowed 5 runs (3 earned) in his seven innings of work, taking the loss and falling to 8-6.
July 30: In the nightcap, Houston scored 10 runs in the third on the way to an 11-5 triumph, Gary Gentry (9-9) giving up 8 earned in 2 2/3. Houston starter Larry Dierker homered and doubled.
July 31: The Astros completed the sweep, 2-0, as Tom Griffin (7-4) outdueled Tom Seaver (15-6), who went seven.
Suddenly, the Mets were 55-44, 6 ½ back of the Cubs. Houston, by the way was 54-49, the best start in their history.
Now the Braves come into town for a weekend set. Will the Metsies right the ship?
Next Bar Chat, Monday.