Archive for the ‘ Baseball and other sports ’ Category

Origins of Baseball Team Names 3

Kansas City Royals

The origin of the Kansas City Royals dates back to the 1540’s when spanish explorer Francisco Coronado discovered the area that is now Kansas. Coronada invented an early version of baseball using tree branches and coyote skulls and called it Skullstick. He was so enamored with the game that he created a secret society around it, naming it the Royal Conquistadores. The rules of the game were passed down from generation to generation but was seldom played due mostly to few people wanting to play a game using a coyote skull. In 1968 the society realized that the rules of Skullstick were similar to that of baseball and contacted baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn about inclusion in professional baseball. The Kansas City Royals joined the major Leagues in 1969.

Origins of Baseball Team Names 2


Originally known as the Brooklyn Bridegrooms, the Dodgers were named after the Dodger a blue and white bird from the finch family. Food vendors in the Brooklyn area considered the dodger a tasty delicacy and the birds were caught in giant snares before baseball games and cooked on grills throughout Ebbets Field. Unfortunately the dodger was hunted to extinction by the early 1950’s so venders switched to serving grilled blue jays. The Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958 and officials claim they no longer serve grilled birds.

Origins of Baseball Team Names 1

The Giants

The Giants are originally from Manhattan (circa mid 1880’s). They played uptown at a ballpark known as the Polo Grounds in an area called Coogan’s Hollow. At the time Coogan’s Hollow was a dwarf colony. Uneducated public health officials at the time thought that Dwarfism (Achondroplasia) was a communicable disease like leprosy and that quarantines for the dwarf population were necessary. As a pleasant distraction to the forced citizens of “Littletown” Governor David B. Hill scheduled baseball games at the Polo Grounds. Of course the players were much bigger than the crowd and they were dubbed “The Giants”. After the government rescinded the dwarf quarantine following the Dwarf Revolt of 1893 The Giants stayed and played in New York until the team moved to San Francisco in 1958.
(Note: The baseball and football Giants have no connection. The football Giants were originally a race of football playing space giants.)

Japanese professors create baseball-playing super robots

a Base-Bot

a Base-Bot

TOKYO (A&P) — Look out Hideki Matsui and Daisuke Matsuzaka . A pair of baseball-playing super robots (or Base-Bots) that can pitch and hit with amazing results have been developed in Japan.  The pitching robot, nicknamed  “Rodan” has a three-fingered hand, can throw 95% of its pitches in the strike zone and won’t need any relief from the bullpen. The batting robot, nicknamed  “Gamera”  has a sensor to determine if pitches are strikes or balls, hits balls in the strike zone 100% of the time and doesn’t swing at pitches outside the strike zone.  The two robots were created by University of Tokyo professor Kawabata Makoto.  “The  level of the robotics technology of each robot is extremely high,” Makoto said. “What was difficult was to create a mechanism to satisfy such a high level of roboticness.”  However the robot ballplayers are not without their own unique problems.  “Rodan” was recently arrested in Tokyo’s so called robot town district for an altercation with a robot prostitute or (Ho-Bot), while “Gamera” created tabloid headlines when he disrupted this years robot awards (the Robies) by appearing drunk on robo-saki (aka: high grade machine oil).  Still the sky does seem to be the limit for these talented Base-Bots.  The future of baseball? It does compute.

Million Dollar Idea

After seeing a bunch of baseball movies ( The Natural, The Natural goes Hawaiian, Nine Innings to Armageddon, Bleacher Bum Jury). I have an idea for a movie that combines Americas national pastime with Americas obsession with super-heros, Plasticman In The Outfield. Plasticman (I’m thinking Adrien Brody) is the super-hero with an elastic body, he is under no circumstances to be confused with Elasticman, or Rubberman, or Stretch Armstrong. Anyhow, thru some odd maybe comical events (which I haven’t worked out yet, asteroids perhaps.) Plasticman winds playing baseball for a major league team (I don’t care which one). Now here’s the O. Henry-ish twist, he’s awful. Can’t catch anything, he stretches his elastic, stretchy body and the baseball will bounce off his arms. He’s completely uncoordinated, and he can’t hit. Maybe he’s redeemed by the love a good woman, or a lost puppy, some homeless children, or even national pride, I don’t know maybe all of them combined. All I know is that it’s a million dollar idea. Hollywood, get going.



Book Nook

"Mo Gandy"

"Mo Gandy"

Going Going Ghandi: The story of the major league mahatma
Anton Swoboda, Remainder Press (330 pages, illustrated)

A little known part of Mohandas “Mahatma” Ghandi’s life is carefully examined in this rollicking true story of his foray into professional baseball.
Swoboda, using recently unearthed diaries from the Mohatma pieces together this fascinating and little known chapter in the life of Ghandi.
While attending law school in London (1888) Ghandi took what was supposed to be a semester off from school to visit the United States. In an unlikely series of events that included hot air balloons, a rabid dog and Mary Todd Lincolns merkin, Ghandi wound up as the backup third baseman for the New York Giants. He was known to the fans as “Mo Gandy” and he played the hot corner for the Giants from 1888 thru 1892. He appeared in 215 games and had a batting average of .245.
Ghandi’s career ended when he ran into trouble during a game versus the Debuque Brown Shorts. He was tagged out stealing second base. Ghandi who thought he was safe refused to get up and had to be carried from the field. He called his actions “passive resistance” while the commissioners office characterized it as “drunken chicanery”. An embarrassed and disillusioned Ghandi left baseball and America.
Going Going Ghandi like Swobodas’ last book Some Are Carpenters Wives: women in Dylan’s songs , is full of rich detail and well worth a read

(The author will be giving an impromptu reading at Sullivan’s Tavern every Friday and Saturday night from 11pm until he gets asked to leave)

Diamond Memories

With baseball starting another season this week, I thought it was high time to reprint one of my favorite baseball stories. It was originally slated to be in the classic baseball book How We Played The Game by Finneran O’hannerhin but was edited out in the final draft. It was eventually printed in the July 1967 issue of Argosy Magazine in an article entitled Champs and Chumps: baseball in the early years. Here is an excerpt.

Jimmy “High Pockets” Muldoone
“ Yeah, well I was nine years old and working on my parents lint farm in Grote, Arkansas. Times were tough, it was 1901 and it was me, my pa and eleven brothers. My ma ran off with an ether salesman when I was four. I heard that the Stubville Turnips where looking for players and I said what the heck and gave it a shot. I made the team as a second baseman and bat whittler. Back then we didn’t have fancy factory made bats, on days off we’d go out into the woods and chop down a likely tree. Then me and some of the younger fellows would chop up the tree into bat sized pieces and whittle them into bats when we were sitting on the bench. I whittled a bat for a young man named Ty Cobb and he beat me black and blue with it, proudest moment of my life. I made real money too, $3.18 a month. Minus the room and board I ended up with $1.00 enough money to get into a heap of trouble, believe you me. I played with the St. Louis club most of my career but was traded to the Giants in 1913 for a penknife, two weevil pies, and President Lincolns death mask. The death mask turned out to be a fake so the trade was called off and I went back to St. Louis. Then World War One started or as we used to call it “the first world war” and all the able bodied joes were shipped off to fight Johnny Kaiser. This left the lame and the simple minded to play baseball. I myself tried to volunteer but got refused on account of my third ear. I thought it would help listenin’ for germans and whatnot, but the army disagreed. Baseball was still a grand game, don’t think it wasn’t. The St.Louis club now had “9 fingers” Flynn who had nine fingers on one hand and none on the other, thank goodness the nine fingers was on his throwin’ hand. He had a pitch called the “osh kosh b’gosh” and it kind of curved two different ways at the same time if you know what I mean. Too bad he was only three feet tall, the ball never reached the plate. A taller man might have had better luck. We tried a few things to fool the umpire. My favorite was we’d stick “9 fingers” on the shoulders of Frankie “Clams” Kasino who was another stumpy fellow. We got a big uniform and stuck them in it. It worked until we played the Red Stockings and their slugger Ingmar “the Swede” Bergman hit a ball back to the pitcher and “9 fingers” fell off “Clams” shoulders. Well at first they thought the ball split a man in two and there was a great outcry. The umpire got wise and we forfeited the game. We also had Spike, he was a dog. That’s right a dog, back in the hard times lots of teams filled up their rosters with dogs. One game in Brooklyn the Dodgers fielded a team of all dogs, of course they lost 134-0 but they did it. The great manager Mister John McGraw said “Give me five strong mutts and I’ll win the pennant” of course he was on a drunk then but he did have a fondness for the hounds. Spike was a shortstop. Not much of a hitter but a good fielder, nothing got by him and everyone on the team liked him. There was a game I’ll never forget. We were playing the Athletics. It was a tie game in the seventh inning and Spike bit “Longshanks” Thompson when Thompson was stealing second. Well Their manager Connie Mack was fit to be tied and he got so angry that he went out and shot Spike dead right there at second base. We couldn’t do nothing because Mr. Mack had a gun and owned the police force. Of course Spike was rabid and the bite on Thompsons leg eventually killed him so I guess everything evened out.”