“Crack”

(top) What the bat does to a baseball!!! See The University of Massachusetts baseball bat research video HERE; (row 2) The greats: Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth; (row three) A great 1950’s Indians team from left: Dick Howser (SS), Chuck Hinton (1B), Leon Wagner (LF), Rocky Colavito (RF), Max Alvis (3B), Vic Davalillo (CF), Larry Brown (2B), Joe Azcue. (row four) Jim Thome knew what to do with a bat. (row five) Sometimes bats break; (row six) Batting is for everyone; (row seven) What a baseball bat sees milliseconds before smacking its little face! Hahaha…

 

It’s back.  Yea, in a new form, with crazy restrictions and all.  But, for the first time in quite some time we’re “talkin’ Tribe”.  Baseball, in its refined way, makes summer feel – well like summer for me!  Box scores, news highlights, standings, hot players and teams and the amazing voice of Tom Hamilton!.  It just feels right.  And of course, what’s one of the toughest things in sports… triple flip?  Iron cross?  The 10K?  For me, it’s consistently hitting a baseball.  Think about it – the greatest players of all time only got it right every three times at bat. That’s nutty.  So, to celebrate one of the great PIA (Pain in the @%$) Jobs! – figuring out how to consistently bat .400 – I did a bit of digging and found some great trivia on the history of the baseball bat.  It’s way more complex than I thought but wanted to do a credible job recapping it for my fellow baseball lovers.   And special thanks to Bernie Mussill and Steve Orinick from stevetheump.com for the history.  Enjoy, and for fun, here’s some baseball music to read by:  CLICK HERE

  1. In Europe, Nicholas Grudich played Lupka with other boys by using a five inch round pointed stick that was set at an angle on the ground and hit with a flat bat. From these types of activities came groups of boys playing Rounders, Flyball, Townball and Caddy.
  2. Townball was a game involving twenty to thirty boys in a field attempting to catch a ball hit by a tosser. The tosser used a four inch flit bat with a tapered handle so his hands could grip it firmly for control and leverage. Even though history is sketchy at this time, it’s is safe to say that from this idea came the modern day baseball bats.
  3. Bill Deane, Senior Research Associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York has on record a well-documented account of a baseball game played on June 19,1846 at Elysian Field in Hoboken, New Jersey. This game was the first played under the Alexander Cartwright rules, which included a 9 inning game, 9 players on each team and 3 outs per side. Baseball players made their own bats and as a result, many different sizes and shapes were used.
  4. During this particular time in history, players experimented with different kinds of wood for their bats in order to improve their hitting ability. They soon realized that wagon tongue wood was the best for making baseball bats. While the transition to wagon tongue wood was taking place, players also realized they could hit a ball much more solidly with a round bat.
  5. While some players continued to make their own bats, others had their bats made by a wood maker. Within the next four to five years, the round bat became very popular. All ball players were using a round wagon tongue bat and the only flat surface bat on any team was used strictly for bunting. The round bat had definitely taken over.
  6. In 1859, The Professional National Association of Baseball Players Governing Committee voted in favor of the first limitation on bat size. The limitation specified that bats may be no larger than 2 1/2 inches in diameter and that they may be of any length.
  7. Approaching the Civil War years, 1861 to 1865, some players had a difficult time gripping the large bat handle. In order to avoid this problem, they wrapped cord or string around the handle. The result was better control and led to wrapped handles.
  8. Before the year 1869, there were no existing limitations on the length of the baseball bat. Then in 1869, the rule governing bat length was adopted and stated “Length limit on bats, maximum 42 inches long.” Surprisingly, this particular rule has not changed. It is in today’s rule book under Division 1.00, Rule 1.10A, “The bat shall be…not more than 42 inches in length”.
  9. In 1879, after considerable experimenting with various styles, it was said that “long and slender is the common style of bats”. In addition, the handle had a carved knob for better control.
  10. During the 1884 baseball season, John Hillerich, a woodworker for his father and a good amateur ballplayer, was in the stands watching ‘The Louisville Eclipse’ of The Professional American Association play. During this game, Pete “The Gladiator” Browning, star outfielder, broke his favorite bat and became very frustrated. After the game, young Hillerich invited Pete to his Dads’ woodworking shop. He claimed that he could create a new bat for Pete. After Browning and Hillerich selected a piece of white ash, Hillerich began to “shape the new bat” according to Browning’s directions. With Browning looking over his shoulder and periodically taking practice swings, Hillerich worked through the night. Finally, Browning announced that the bat was just right. The next day, Browning used the Hillerich bat and hit three for three, and the Louisville Slugger was born.
  11. The Hillerich Louisville Slugger trademark on each bat led to the branding of player signatures on the barrel of the bats. Until then, players carved their initials or in some other way marked the knob or barrel of their bats. Baseball players using Louisville slugger bats before the turn of the century included Willie Keeler, Hugh Duffy, Pete Browning, John McGraw, Hugh Jennings, Honus Wagner and the Delaney brothers, just to name a few.
  12. Babe Ruth, the “Sultan of Swat”, brought fans back to the game of baseball by the thousands. The Babe launched an amazing home run career, including belting 60 home runs in 1927. Ruth would carve one notch for each homer hit. One of Ruth’s bats with 21 notches around the trademark is on display at the Hillerich and Bradsby plant.
  13. Willie Keeler’s motto was “Hit them where they ain’t”. He used the shortest bat ever made by Hillerich and Bradsby. It was 30 1/2 inches long. Willie was 5 feet  4 1/2 inches tall, weighing only 140 pounds. He played for the Orioles and four other teams and became one of baseballs’ greatest place hitters as well as an outstanding bunter. The large barrel of his short bat gave him great bat control. In 1898, Willie hit a record 200 singles out of a total of 214 hits. This record still remains today
  14. Lou Gehrig, a monumental ball player was a product of Columbia University and left his mark on baseball as well as his name on a dreadful disease. During his fifteen year career, Gehrig used a Hillerich and Bradsby Louisville Slugger bat, Model GE 69 with a 2 1/2 to 2 5/8 inch barrel, 34 inches in length and weighing 38 ounces.  Gehrig’s stats simply boggle the mind. He averaged 141 RBI’s and 134 runs scored for fourteen years. He hit 493 home runs with a career batting average of .340. Lou Gehrig, often called “Iron Horse” for his 2,130 consecutive games, was also known as a “run producing machine”. Gehrig and Ruth formed the greatest one-two punch in the history of baseball.
  15. In June of 1969, Evan Baker joined Adirondack as president. One of his innovations was the bat-mobile. The bat-mobile was an Airstream trailer equipped to hand turn bats at various Major League spring training camps. By providing this service, Adirondack converted many big leaguers to using the Adirondack “Big Stick”. For example, in June of 1971, Joe Torre and Tony Oliva used the “Big Stick” and led their respective league in hitting.
  16. In June of 1975, Rawlings Sporting Goods merged with Adirondack. The improvements included updating facilities and increasing the sales of baseball bats. This year, it is projected that 1 1/2 million wood bats would be produced. In order to meet this quota, production will have to be set to nearly 8,000 bats per day.
  17. When Reggie Jackson, of the New York Yankees, hit three consecutive home runs in the sixth game of the 1977 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he used an Adirondack “Big Stick” bat.
  18. Today most players have the ends of their bats ‘cupped out’. This removes extra end weight and moves the center of balance toward the trademark, giving the batter better whip-like control.
  19. Easton entered the team sports market with aluminum bats in 1970. Their metal working technology has produced one of the best balanced and best performing bats in the world. Easton excels in the aluminum bat market at every level. Their bats were the choice of the Gold Medal winning United States Olympic baseball
  20. With the proper technology and engineering, the aluminum tube of these bats is drawn to redistribute the walls with the desired weight. After tempering, (YES – WE LOVE THIS PART!) the bat is tapered to the proper dimensions. Cleaning treatments and heat treatments are performed on each bat. They are straightened and in some instances the ends are spun closed or machined to accept an end plug. The bats are polished, anodized and silk-screened. Before these bats are labeled and packed for shipment the
  21. To further complicate the newer versions of bats, there is one more type of bat: the composite. Composite baseball bats are made of glass, carbon and Kevlar fibers placed together in a plastic mold. These are anisotropic, which means that these bats are designed to bring out a strength and stiffness of a different kind. The effect is that composite baseball bats are lighter than an aluminum bats. Baseball composite bats incorporated a recent technological advancement of their aluminum counterpart to be used by college and high school players.
  22. The NFHS is currently reviewing composite bats on an on-going basis. They do not maintain their rated characteristics for the life of the bat and that their performance increases the more they are used. As the bats are consistently used, they develop interior cracks resulting in increased performance. Additional Accelerated Break In (ABI) testing is being performed on bats submitted by the manufacturers. With a few exceptions, they were banned in 2011 for high school baseball.

 

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

DO YOU LIKE CONTESTS?
Me, too.

As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a
quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good.  :-))))
Have fun!!

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

 

 

 


 

 

What‘s In A Name

(row one)  Two of the great names I grew up with.  (row two)  Because of this great player, Napoleon Lajoie, the Cleveland Spiders were known as the Naps in the late 19th century.  (row three)   If you have this baseball card in your collection it’s probably worth a lot of wampum. Louis Sockalexis was the first native American to play in the big leagues. And it is said he’s the reason sports writers gave the team the nickname “Indians” which obviously stuck.   (row four)  All of the current pro team logos.  (row five)  Some people have suggested we go back to being called the “Spiders” so some local t-shirt makers came up with some cool designs. (row six)  I have a better idea.   (row seven)  Looks cool on jerseys, too.   (row eight)  Jim Thome! What a great player. And that little dude taking in the smells of the ballpark.   (row nine)  All this baseball talk makes me hungry. 

 

Kowalski Heat Treating – or KHT as we call it sometimes, was the brainchild of Dad.  Back in the day, he spent hours driving around Northeast Ohio, calling on customers and prospects, solving their (PIA) problems, shaking hands, and then bringing things back to the shop to do great work for them. Like any small business owner, it was his “word” and his reputation, every time a delivery went out the front door.  You can imagine the pride of delivering what’s been promised, and the anguish when something goes afoul. Much like having a personal doctor you can count on, or relationship with an attorney, customers came to rely on (Dad).  When I had the opportunity to come into the business, I had huge shoes to fill – Dad’s customers. Knowing his style, fulfilling his earned reputation, and most of all, keeping sacred the family’s “good name”. As we are rapidly approaching almost 50 years in business, I am proud to say the KHT name has certainly withstood the test of time.  I love talking for hours about our evolution, the great team that has been assembled, along with the numerous PIA jobs we have encountered over the years. At the end of the day it’s KHT’s good name– and our love of PIA jobs!

Talking about names, and with baseball spring training season in full swing, I was reading the box scores, and thinking about where all the baseball team names came from.  I found a great article on mentalfloss.com.  Look below and find your favorite teams – you’ll be surprised how some came to be – Enjoy!

  1. Arizona Diamondbacks– In 1995, the expansion franchise’s ownership group asked fans to vote from among a list of nicknames that included Coyotes, Diamondbacks, Phoenix, Rattlers, and Scorpions. Diamondbacks, a type of desert rattlesnake, was the winner, sparing everyone the mindboggling possibility of a team located in Phoenix, Arizona, called the Arizona Phoenix.
  2. Atlanta Braves– The Braves, who played in Boston and Milwaukee before moving to Atlanta in 1966, trace their nickname to the symbol of a corrupt political machine. James Gaffney, who became president of Boston’s National League franchise in 1911, was a member of Tammany Hall, the Democratic Party machine that controlled New York City politics throughout the 19th century. The Tammany name was derived from Tammamend, a Delaware Valley Indian chief. The society adopted an Indian headdress as its emblem and its members became known as Braves. Sportswriter Leonard Koppett described Gaffney’s decision to rename his team, “Wouldn’t it be neat to call the team the ‘Braves,’ waving this symbol of the Democrats under the aristocratic Bostonians?” It didn’t bother the fans, especially after the Braves swept the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1914 World Series.
  3. Baltimore Orioles– When the St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore in 1954, the franchise was rebranded with the same nickname of the Baltimore team that dominated the old National League in the late 1890s. That was named after the state bird of Maryland and the orange and black colors of the male Oriole bird resembled the colors on the coat of arms of Lord Baltimore.
  4. Boston Red Sox– The team that became known as the Red Sox began play ” wearing dark blue socks, no less ” as a charter member of the American League in 1901. With no official nickname, the team was referred to by a variety of monikers, including Bostons and Americans. In 1907, Americans owner John Taylor announced that his team was adopting red as its new color after Boston’s National League outfit switched to all-white uniforms. Taylor’s team became known as the Red Sox, a name popularized by the Cincinnati Red Stockings from 1867-1870 and used by Boston’s National League franchise from 1871-1876.
  5. Chicago Cubs– When the team began to sell off its experienced players in the late 1880s, local newspapers began to refer to the club as Anson’s Colts, a reference to player-manager Cap Anson’s roster of youngsters. By 1890, Colts had caught on and Chicago’s team had a new nickname. When Anson left the team in 1897, the Colts became known as the Orphans, a depressing nickname if there ever was one. When Frank Selee took over managerial duties of Chicago’s youthful roster in 1902, a local newspaper dubbed the team the Cubs and the name stuck.
  6. Chicago White Sox– In 1900, Charles Comiskey moved the St. Paul Saints to the South Side of Chicago. The team adopted the former nickname of its future rivals (the Cubs) and became the White Stockings, which was shortened to White Sox a few years after the club joined the American League in 1901.
  7. Cincinnati Reds– The Cincinnati Red Stockings, so named because they wore red socks, were baseball’s first openly all-professional team. Red Stockings eventually became Redlegs, and Redlegs was shortened to Reds. Before the 1953 season, club officials announced that the team would once again officially be known as the Cincinnati Redlegs. Around the same time, the team temporarily removed “Reds” from its uniforms. As the AP reported in 1953, “The political significance of the word ‘Reds’ these days and its effect on the change was not discussed by management.”
  8. Cleveland Indians– Cleveland’s baseball team was originally nicknamed the Naps after star player-manager Napoleon Lajoie, so when the team cut ties with Lajoie after the 1914 season, it was in the market for a new name. Club officials and sportswriters agreed on Indians in January 1915. The Boston Braves’ miraculous World Series triumph may have been part of the inspiration behind Cleveland’s new moniker.
  9. Colorado Rockies– When team officials announced that Denver’s expansion team would begin play in 1993 as the Colorado Rockies, some fans couldn’t help but question why the team was adopting the same nickname as the city’s former NHL franchise. According to surveys conducted by Denver’s daily newspapers, fans preferred the nickname Bears, which had been used by Denver’s most famous minor league team.
  10. Detroit Tigers – Detroit’s original minor league baseball team was officially known as the Wolverines. The club was also referred to as the Tigers, the nickname for the members of Michigan’s oldest military unit, the 425th National Guard infantry regiment, which fought in the Civil War and Spanish-American War. When Detroit joined the newly formed American League in 1901, the team received formal permission from the regiment, which was known as the Detroit Light Guard, to use its symbol and nickname.
  11. Houston Astros– Houston’s baseball team was originally known as the Colt .45’s, but team president Judge Roy Hofheinz made a change “in keeping with the times” in 1965. Citing Houston’s status as “the space age capital of the world,” Hofheinz settled on Astros. “With our new domed stadium, we think it will also make Houston the sports capital of the world,” Hofheinz said. The change was likely also motivated by pressure from the Colt Firearms Company, which objected to the use of the Colt .45 nickname.
  12. Kansas City Royals– When Kansas City was awarded an expansion franchise in 1969, club officials chose Royals from more than 17,000 entries in a name-the-team contest. Sanford Porte, one of 547 fans who submitted Royals, was awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to the All-Star Game. Porte submitted the name because of “Kansas City’s position as the nation’s leading stocker and feeder market and the nationally known American Royal Livestock and Horse Show.
  13. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Los Angeles gained a second major league team in 1961 when the Los Angeles Angels entered the American League. The nickname had been used by Los Angeles’ Pacific Coast League team from 1903-1957. The team was renamed the California Angels in 1965 and became the Anaheim Angels after the Walt Disney Company took control of the team in 1997. While the team’s lease with the city requires that Anaheim be a part of the team name, owner Arte Moreno changed the team’s name to include Los Angeles in 2005 in hopes of tapping into the L.A. media market. The result is one of the most absurd names in all of professional sports.
  14. Los Angeles Dodgers– The Dodgers trace their roots to Brooklyn, where the team was known as the Bridegrooms, Superbas, and, beginning in 1911, the Trolley Dodgers, referencing the pedestrians who dodged the trolleys that carried passengers through the streets of Brooklyn. While the team was known as the Robins from 1914 to 1931, in honor of legendary manager Wilbert Robinson, the nickname switched back to Dodgers when Robinson retired. When Walter O’Malley moved the franchise to Los Angeles after the 1957 season, he elected to keep the name.
  15. Miami Marlins– The Marlins take their name from the minor league Miami Marlins that called South Florida home from 1956-1988. Owner Wayne Huizenga hoped to give his expansion team, which entered the league in 1993, more regional appeal by including Florida in the name. However, when the Marlins moved into their new baseball-only stadium in 2012, they became the Miami Marlins.
  16. Milwaukee Brewers– The Brewers nickname, a nod to Milwaukee’s beer industry, was used off and on by various Milwaukee baseball teams during the late 19th century. When the expansion Seattle Pilots relocated to Milwaukee after one failed season in 1969, the team adopted the traditional Brewers nickname under the ownership of Bud Selig.
  17. Minnesota Twins– Minneapolis and St. Paul, which are separated by the Mississippi River and collectively known as the Twin Cities, argued for years over where an expansion team in Minnesota, should one arrive, would call home. When the Washington Senators moved to Minneapolis in 1961, club officials settled on Twins as the team nickname and unveiled an emblem showing two baseball players with hands clasped in front of a huge baseball.
  18. New York Mets– Team officials asked fans to choose a nickname from among 10 finalists when New York was awarded an expansion National League franchise in 1961. The finalists were Avengers, Bees, Burros, Continentals, Jets, Mets, NYBS, Rebels, Skyliners, and Skyscrapers. Mets was the resounding winner. One of the reasons that team officials chose Mets was because “it has a brevity that will delight headline writers.”
  19. New York Yankees – In 1903, the original Baltimore Orioles moved to New York, where they became the Highlanders. As was common at the time, the team, which played in the American League, was also known as the New York Americans. New York Press editor Jim Price coined the nickname Yanks, or Yankees, in 1904 because it was easier to fit in headlines.
  20. Oakland Athletics– The Athletics nickname is one of the oldest in baseball, dating to the early 1860s and the Athletic Baseball Club of Philadelphia. In 1902, New York Giants manager John McGraw referred to Philadelphia’s American League team as a “white elephant.” The slight was picked up by a Philadelphia reporter and the white elephant was adopted as the team’s primary logo. The nickname and the elephant logo were retained when the team moved to Kansas City in 1955 and to Oakland in 1968.
  21. Philadelphia Phillies– Founded in 1883 as the Quakers, the franchise changed its nickname to the Philadelphias, which soon became Phillies. New owner Robert Carpenter held a contest to rename the team in 1943 and Blue Jays was selected as the winner. While the team wore a Blue Jay patch on its uniforms for a couple of seasons, the nickname failed to catch on.
  22. Pittsburgh Pirates– After the Players’ League collapsed in 1890, the National League’s Pittsburgh club signed two players, including Lou Bierbauer, whom the Philadelphia Athletics had forgotten to place on their reserve list. A Philadelphia sportswriter claimed that Pittsburgh “pirated away Bierbauer” and the Pirates nickname was born.
  23. San Diego Padres– When San Diego was awarded an expansion team in 1969, the club adopted the nickname of the city’s Pacific Coast League team, the Padres. The nickname, which is Spanish for father or priest, was a reference to San Diego’s status as the first Spanish Mission in California.
  24. San Francisco Giants– The New York Giants moved to San Francisco in 1957 and retained their nickname, which dates back to 1885. It was during that season, according to legend, that New York Gothams manager Jim Mutrie referred to his players as his “giants” after a rousing win over Philadelphia.
  25. Seattle Mariners– Mariners was the winning entry among more than 600 suggestions in a name-the-team contest for Seattle’s expansion franchise in 1976. Roger Szmodis of Bellevue provided the best reason. “I’ve selected Mariners because of the natural association between the sea and Seattle and her people, who have been challenged and rewarded by it.” Szmodis  received two season tickets and an all-expenses-paid trip to an American League city on the West Coast.
  26. St. Louis Cardinals– In 1899, the St. Louis Browns became the St. Louis Perfectos. That season, Willie McHale, a columnist for the St. Louis Republic reportedly heard a woman refer to the team’s red stockings as a “lovely shade of Cardinal.” McHale included the nickname in his column, and it was an instant hit among fans. The team officially changed its nickname in 1900.
  27. Tampa Bay Rays – Vince Naimoli, owner of Tampa Bay’s expansion team, chose Devil Rays out of more than 7,000 suggestions submitted by the public in 1995. The reaction was not positive. Naimoli reportedly wanted to nickname his team the Sting Rays, but it was trademarked by a team in the Hawaiian Winter League. The team dropped the “Devil” after the 2007 season and the curse that had plagued the franchise for the previous decade was apparently lifted, as Tampa Bay made a surprising run to the World Series the following season.
  28. Texas Rangers– A second franchise named the Senators left Washington in 1972, this time for Arlington, Texas. Owner Robert Short renamed the team the Rangers after the Texas law enforcement agency that was formed under Stephen F. Austin in the 1820s.
  29. Toronto Blue Jays– More than 30,000 entries were received during a five-week name-the-team contest. “The Blue Jays was felt to be the most appropriate of the final 10 names submitted,” according to a statement issued by the board’s chairman, R. Howard Webster. “The blue jay is a North American bird, bright blue in color, with white undercovering and a black neck ring. It is strong, aggressive and inquisitive. It dares to take on all comers, yet it is down-to-earth, gutsy and good-looking.”
  30. Washington Nationals – Washington’s original baseball team was interchangeably referred to as the Senators and Nationals, or Nats for short, for most of its time in the District before relocating to Minnesota in 1960. Washington’s 1961 expansion franchise was known almost exclusively as the Senators until it moved to Texas after the 1971 season. When the Montreal Expos relocated to the nation’s capital in 2005, the team revived the Nationals nickname.

A Couple of  Cool Videos:

AN IMPOSSIBLE CONTEST:
Pick the winner of the 2019 World Series and I’ll send you a cool KHT mug and an original KHT t-shirt with no sweat stains. Promise. I must have your entry by midnight, Tuesday April 30, 2019. Enter HERE. One entry per person. If more than one entry is received by the same person, only the first submission will be counted. (Unless you come up with a really interesting bribe.)

 


 

 

“Road Trip”

(row one left) When the Indian’s trucks roll out, spring training is right around the corner. (row one top right) Cleveland Indians fan Jon Brittan looks on before the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Goodyear Ballpark Mar 19, 2017. (row one bottom right) Kids along the foul line try to snag a grounder. (row two) Goodyear Ballpark’s 1 Millionth Fan, Jean Wilson. Excited much? (row three) Getting autographs is a huge part of the game. (row four) I just had to share these: The little t-baller is just so darn cute! And the little dude on the right, Christian Haupt was the youngest person to ever throw a first pitch at a Major League Baseball game a few days after his 4th birthday. See his throw HERE. (It’s near the end of the video if you want to zoom to it). (row five) Play ball, baby! Can’t wait for opening day!

 

As the ice starts to shift on the lake, and we hit some warm days in NE Ohio, I love to reconnect with one of my favorites – spring training.  Like all athletes, it’s a time when I harken back to pre-season workouts, long runs, weight training and working on fundamentals.  As a business owner, I like to review our “basics” – those things that’s made us successful for so many years – making sure we’re ready for your “routine grounders” and “pop ups” – responding promptly to inquiries, making deliveries on time, and just consistently solving your pesky PIA (Pain in the @%$) Jobs.  I like to open the doors, let in the fresh air, and spend some time with each of the crew, finding those little things we can work on to serve you better.  While not the consistent warmth of Florida or Arizona, it does give us time to train and prep for the upcoming season.  For those who have the time, jump on a flight, or in the car, and hit some spring training camps – fun relaxed, and you never know where the next Babe will emerge.  Thanks Wikipedia for the trivia.

 

  1. In Major League Baseball (MLB), spring training is a series of practices and exhibition games preceding the start of the regular season. Spring training allows new players to try out for roster and position spots, and gives existing players practice time prior to competitive play.
  2. Spring training has always attracted fan attention, drawing crowds who travel to the warmer climates to enjoy the weather and watch their favorite teams play, and spring training usually coincides with spring break for many US college students.
  3. Spring training typically starts in mid-February and continues until just before Opening Day of the regular season, traditionally the first week of April. In some years, teams not scheduled to play on Opening Day will play spring training games that day. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training first because pitchers benefit from a longer training period. A few days later, position players arrive and team practice begins.
  4. Spring training by major league teams in sites other than their regular season game sites first became popular in the 1890s and by 1910 was in wide use. Hot Springs, Arkansas has been called the original “birthplace” of Spring Training baseball. The location of Hot Springs and the concept of getting the players ready for the upcoming season was the brainchild of Chicago White Stockings (today’s Chicago Cubs) team President Albert Spalding and Cap Anson. In 1886, the White Stockings traveled to Hot Springs to prepare for the upcoming season. Practicing at the Hot Springs Baseball Grounds, the White Stockings had a successful season and other teams took notice and began holding spring training in Hot Springs.
  5. The Cleveland Spiders, Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Red Sox followed the White Stockings to Hot Springs. Whittington Park/Ban Johnson Park (1894), Majestic Park (1909) and Fogel Field (1912) were all built in Hot Springs to host Major League teams.
  6. Famously, a young pitcher named Babe Ruth of the Boston Red Sox was playing an emergency game at first base on St. Patrick’s Day, 1918, his first time playing the field. Ruth would hit two home runs that day in Hot Springs, and the second was a 573-foot shot that landed across the street from Whittington Park in a pond of the Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo. Soon he was playing the field more often.
  7. Over 130 Major League Baseball Hall of Famers, including such names as Ruth, Cy Young, Cap Anson, Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Walter Johnson, Rogers Hornsby, Mel Ott and Jimmie Foxx were involved in Hot Springs Spring Training games.
  8. The Detroit Tigers are credited with being the first team to conduct spring training camp in Arizona. They trained in Phoenix at Riverside Park at Central Avenue and the Salt River in 1929.
  9. The Philadelphia Phillies were the first of the current major-league teams to train in Florida, when they spent two weeks in Jacksonville, Florida in 1889. Spring training in Florida began in earnest in 1913, when the Chicago Cubs played in Tampa, and the Cleveland Indians in Pensacola. One year later, two other teams moved to Florida for spring training, the real start of the Grapefruit League.
  10. Except for a couple of years during World War II, when travel restrictions prevented teams training south of the Potomac and Ohio rivers, Florida hosted more than half of the spring training teams through 2009. Since 2010, major league teams have been equally divided during spring training, with 15 teams in Florida and 15 teams in Arizona.
  11. According to the autobiography of former Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck, the avoidance of racism was one reason the Cactus League was established. In 1947, Veeck was the owner of the minor league Milwaukee Brewers and the team trained in Ocala, Florida. Veeck inadvertently sat in the Black section of the segregated stands and engaged in conversation with a couple of fans. According to Veeck’s book, the local law enforcement told Veeck he could not sit in that section, and then called the Ocala mayor when Veeck argued back. The mayor finally backed down when Veeck threatened to take his team elsewhere for spring training and promised to let the country know why.
  12. The Brooklyn Dodgers trained in Havana, Cuba in 1947 and 1949, and in the Dominican Republic in 1948. The New York Yankees also trained in the early 1950s in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Spring training camps and games were also held in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and various cities of northern Mexico, sometimes by visiting major league teams in the 1950s and 1960s.
  13. During World War II, most teams held an abbreviated spring training within easy reach of their cities. In order to conserve rail transport during the war, 1943’s Spring Training was limited to an area east of the Mississippi River and north of the Ohio River. The Chicago White Sox held camp in French Lick, Indiana; the Washington Senators in College Park, Maryland; and the New York Yankees in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
  14. Before and shortly after big league baseball reached the West Coast, a number of teams trained in the state of California or along the state boundary. The Chicago Cubs trained on Catalina Island in the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s. For example, early in their history, the then-California Angels held spring training in Palm Springs, California from 1961 to 1993, the San Diego Padres in Yuma, Arizona from 1969 to 1993, the Oakland Athletics in Las Vegas in the 1970s, and various major league teams had trained in Riverside, San Bernardino, and El Centro near the Mexican border.
  15. The concept of spring training is not limited to North America; the Japanese professional baseball leagues’ teams adopted spring training and preseason game sites across East Asia such as South Korea, the Philippines, and Taiwan; the Pacific Islands (most notably in Hawaii); and two cities in the United States: Salinas, California and Yuma, Arizona on the Mexican border.

Grapefruit League – Florida

 

Cactus League – Arizona

 

 


 

STEEEEEEEEEEE – RIKE ! ! !

I just love baseball!! Organized leagues or pick-up games with friends or family what a great sport of skill and comradery. And it’s definitely not just for boys! (bottom) Check out this super slo-mo of a ball hitting the bat HERE. More video links below.

 

Sad. Lethargic. Just not right today.  My beloved Indians are no longer in the hunt this year.  Like you, I was hanging on to every pitch, every at bat, every move by the managers – hoping for a hit, or wishing for a swing and a miss.  What an amazing game.  Through all the data, and pontificators, as the experts will say, most believe in the playoffs, it all comes down to pitching.  And, with the best pitcher in the American League this year, and the best bullpen and closer, I really thought we were headed to the big show again.  But alas, “maybe next year.”  On the “fun” side, watching the games, it did get me a thinkin’… just how do those guys throw those pitches and make the ball move the way it does.  So, I went to discover some cool facts for you, and some interesting trivia, “just because”.  Enjoy, and thanks to Mentalfloss.com and factretriver.com.

When watching from home, or listening in on the radio, we hear a lot of talk about what kind of pitch was just thrown, will be thrown, should be thrown, might be thrown, or, perhaps, shouldn’t have been thrown at all. Cutters, sliders, sinkers and more.  Here’s how they work:

  1. Fastball – This is the basic, most important pitch in baseball. The first two fingers rest just on (or inside) the seams and the pitcher releases the pitch with the palm pretty much facing the batter, producing maximum velocity. How fast are we talking? Generally, in the 90-95 mph range, though some pitchers have been known to easily hurl over 100 mph. Technically, what most pitchers throw is called a two-seam fastball and produces a sidespin that causes the ball to cut in as it approaches the batter. There are other varieties, like the 4-seam fastball, which is thrown by holding the ball with the seams horizontal, rather than vertical. This produces backspin, which creates high pressure under the ball and low pressure on top resulting in the illusion of the ball rising (actually the ball isn’t rising, just falling more slowly than it would normally). There’s also a split-finger fastball where the first two fingers split, or straddle the seams, which causes the ball to drop a little as it approaches the plate. Despite the movement, the basic idea of a fastball is to overpower the batter, so he swings late and misses.
  2. Sinker – If you’ve ever played wiffle ball, you know the ball rises, falls, and curves in and away from a batter depending on where you position the air holes in the ball. Likewise, in baseball, a pitcher can create movement and variation in speed depending on how he releases the ball, or how he spins the ball. Off-speed pitches, like the sinker, are pitches that are released with the palm of the hand facing away from the pitcher. This causes the ball to sink as it approaches the batter. The idea here is to either get him to swing over the ball and miss, or, if he connects with the pitch, to produce a ground ball, rather than a line drive.
  3. Changeup – A changeup is like a sinker, in that it’s an off-speed pitch, only the palm is turned even further out. All off-speed pitches are similar in that they’re thrown with less velocity than the fastball. But the batter doesn’t know when one is coming because a good pitcher is able to use the same arm speed as he does for the fastball. So to throw it with less velocity, the pitcher presses the baseball deep into his palm. Less finger contact means less torque and less velocity. If a batter is expecting a fastball, slowing down, or “changing up” the speed to, say, 87 mph can trip him up and he’ll swing ahead of the ball. Great pitchers can build an entire career on the changeup because they’re able to slow it down all the way to around 80 mph. If they can throw a fastball around 95 mph, that’s a whopping 15 mph slower and really confuses the batter.
  4. Screwball – This is another off-speed pitch that not only sinks, but moves from the pitcher’s left side to the right as it approaches the batter (opposite for lefties). The palm is again pronated away from the pitcher, even further than the sinker and changeup. As the pitcher releases the ball, he twists the ball like a corkscrew. A left-handed batter will see the ball break away from him and a right-handed batter will experience the opposite, as the ball breaks in on him (the reverse is true if the pitcher is left-handed, of course).
  5. Cutter – Turning the palm in the opposite direction produces a series of pitches known as breaking pitches. The first stop over from the fastball is the cutter, which is like a fastball, only it breaks in ever so slightly and is generally thrown a few mphs slower than a fastball.  The further the palm is rotated toward the pitcher, the more movement (in most cases, but not all).  Major league pitchers can create amazing movement in and out from a batter, disguising the pitch to look like a fastball, but then it “cuts” away.
  6. Slider – Basically the same thing as a cutter, a slider is thrown with less velocity than the former and the palm is rotated further toward the pitcher. The slower speed means there’s more time for the ball to move, or slide, from one side of the plate to the other.
  7. Curveball (my favorite) – A good curveball can be devastating, and also fun to watch. These are the pitches that appear to arc up toward the batter’s chest (or even head) before dropping into the strike zone like a bomb as they reach the plate. Of course, not every successful curveball pitcher throws the large arc variety and they need not be so dramatic. Even a small arc keeps the hitter off balance. The pitcher turns his palm in so far that his hand looks like the letter “C.” He then flicks his wrist as he releases the ball (the opposite direction from the screwball) creating topspin. The more topspin, the greater the air pressure difference between the top and bottom of the ball, and the greater the break.

 

And some “I didn’t know that” fun trivia:

  1. The unofficial anthem of American baseball, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” is traditionally sung during the middle of the 7th inning. It was written in 1908 by Jack Norworth and Albert von Tilzer, both of whom had never been to a baseball game.
  2. The life span of a major league baseball is 5–7 pitches. During a typical game, approximately 70 balls are used
  3. A “can of corn” is an easy fly ball. The term comes from when old-time grocers used their aprons to catch cans knocked from a high shelf.
  4. “Soaking” was a very early baseball rule that allowed a runner who was off base to be put out by throwing a ball at him.
  5. The most innings ever played in a major League baseball game was 26 innings on May 1, 1920, when the Brooklyn Dodgers played the Boston Braves.
  6. The longest game on record was between the Chicago White Sox and the visiting Milwaukee Brewers on May 9, 1984. The game lasted 8 hours 6 minutes and went 25 innings.
  7. A big-league player can hit a 90-mph pitch with more than 8,000 pounds during the millisecond that the bat is in contact with the baseball. The ball leaves the bat at a speed of 110 -125 mph.
  8. A player increases his chance of hitting a home run if he hits the baseball at the bat’s “sweet spot.” This spot is an area between 5 and 7 inches from the barrel end of the bat. When a player hits the sweet spot, there is less vibration, and the bat makes a satisfying “crack” sound.
  9. The probable MLBrecord is Leon Cadore of the Brooklyn Dodgers who pitched every inning of a 26-inning game in 1920. It is estimated that he threw 360 pitches over the course of the game. His opponent on the mound, Joe Oeschger of the Boston Braves, also pitched all 26 innings and threw an estimated 319 pitches.
  10. While no records formally exist, it is believed Steve Kowalski can “out eat” most fans in a nine- inning game. This includes peanuts, popcorn, nachos, hot dogs, and the burger of the day.

 

Some Cool Video Links:

Fun – Grips and crazy ball movements:

 

University of Massachusetts, Lowell, Baseball Research Center:

 

Video of a pitch in super duper slow motion:

 

The science and physics of a baseball pitch:

 

A lighter video. Fun ceremonial first pitches:

 

 


 

Playoff Baseball & Mr. October.

reggie-3 768 blog

Reggie Jackson watches the flight of his third home run – on three pitches – against the Dodgers in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series. Photo: AP

 

As the days grow shorter, and the nights get cooler, I find myself turning to the post season and a keener interest in the MLB playoffs.  Now that my beloved Tribe has been eliminated, I as many others do,  think of exciting playoffs.   For me, a guy who would overcome so much, and at times had a “PIA Job” of his own – Mr. October, Reggie Jackson.  Although he is long retired now,  I have great memories growing up of crowds chanting “Reggie, Reggie, Reggie” as he stepped to the plate.  His uncanny ability to foul off pitches he didn’t like was amazing until he found one he could hit – and hit he did.  Here’s some history on Reggie’s early career (thanks, Wikipedia!) – few things I found amazing.

Hall of Famer – Reggie Jackson

  • played 21 seasons for five different teams (can you name them all?)
  • helped his teams win 11 divisional pennants, 7 league pennants and 4 World Series titles
  • remembered for hitting 3 consecutive at bat World Series home runs in ‘77
  • 563 home runs, 14 times an All-Star and multiple MVP awards
  • in High School, starred in football, baseball, basketball and track & field, breaking all sorts of records (.550 avg and several no-hitters)
  • also tore up his knee and broke 5 cervical vertebrae and told will not play sports ever again
  • a highly recruited football player, he decided on Arizona State College, as other schools did not regularly draft black athletes at the time
  • walking back to the dorms, while still in his football uniform, he stopped by the baseball field and asked the coach if he could try out – on the second pitch he saw, he hit a home run – and three more after that
  • first college player to hit a ball out of Phoenix Memorial Stadium
  • after being signed to a major league contract ($85,000) he played single A, double A and minor leagues before debuting in the majors in 1967.
  • For more information about “Mr. October”, visit his Wikipedia page and enjoy the playoffs as we get ready to another great World Series.

TRIVIA: Reggie had his number retired on two MLB teams – call me if you can name the teams and know the numbers.
BONUS: What was the food he’s famous for? (I always love these!)