Tuesday, June 25, 2013

KCKAA Pirate Update

The Pirates, a team of 10 – 12 year old boys playing in the Kansas City RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner City) league, are 8 – 5.  Not bad for a team of mostly first and second year inner city players learning the fundamentals of the sport.  The keys to the team’s success have been pitchers who throw strikes and do not walk lots of opposing batters, the team’s hitting has improved, and its improved defense.  However, there are still too many dropped balls (trying to catch with one hand instead of two) and errant throws.  Also, some players still need attitude adjustments as they willfully do not want to follow directions.  Knowing they did not have perfect attitudes in their youth, the team’s coaches try to be tolerant.  However, they are not going to allow the patients to run the asylum.
There have been games where the team has been outmatched and ones the team won handily.  The best games however have been the close ones when both the Pirates and their opponent play well.  During those games, there was an infectious, exciting atmosphere that both the players and their fans were caught up.  An atmosphere that is no different than a Major League game.  An atmosphere that gives no credibility to anyone who says baseball is a dull sport.  An  excitement Pirate players will always remember about the sport.

How is your favorite little league team doing?


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Negro League baseball history fact for today

After two seasons in Negro League baseball, Gene Baker became the first African American player signed by the Chicago Cubs.  However, it would be three years before he took the field in a Cubs' uniform.  Born on June 15, 1925 in Davenport, Iowa; Baker was a slick fielding shortstop in 1948 and 1949 for the Kansas City Monarchs who were managed by John “Buck” O’Neill.  After signing with the Cubs before the 1950 season, Baker stayed in the team’s minor league system for over three years.  During that time the Cubs were getting less than mediocre play from their shortstops, but the team never promoted Baker.  Even the Cubs owner, P. K. Wrigley, began to question why Baker was still in the minor leagues. 
On September 20, 1953, Baker made his Major League debut as a pinch hitter.   Ernie Banks, who the Cubs had signed from the Kansas City Monarchs on September 3, was playing shortstop that day and hit his first Major League home run.  After Baker had left the Monarchs in 1950 to sign with the Cubs, it was Banks that followed as the Monarch’s new shortstop.  However, Banks beat Baker by six days (September 17, 1953) to be the first African American to play a Major League game for the Cubs.

The Cubs moved Baker to second base the next season making he and Banks the first African American double play combination in the Major Leagues.  Baker is credited with helping Banks develop into an All Star, Hall of Fame shortstop; while he was himself selected to play in the 1955 All Star Game.  After the 1957 season began, Baker was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates and was a utility infielder and pinch hitter for their 1960 World Series championship team. 


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Negro League baseball history fact for today

Only four former Negro League pitchers have taken the mound in a World Series:  Satchel Paige (1948 Cleveland Indians), Don Newcombe (1949, 1955, and 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers), Joe Black (1952 and 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers), and Marshall “Sheriff” Bridges (1962 New York Yankees). Born on June 2, 1931 in Jackson, Mississippi, Bridges was a pitcher and first baseman for the Memphis Red Sox of the Negro American League.  The hard throwing left hander was signed by the New York Giants in 1953, but spent five seasons pitching in the minor leagues before his Major League debut with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1959.  After three seasons in the National League, two with Cardinals (1959 – 1960) and one with the Cincinnati Reds (1961), Bridges became the top relief pitcher for the 1962 New York Yankees.  In 52 relief appearances, he won eight games while saving 18 others and helped the Yankees capture the American League pennant.  The “Sheriff” made two appearances in the World Series pitching a total of three and one third innings as the Yankees defeated the San Francisco Giants to win the World Championship.  After being shot by a woman in a bar during spring training the next season, Bridges fell out of favor with the Yankees.  Appearing in only 23 games in 1963, he was traded to the Washington Senators after the season.