Ruth Called Shot Baseball

And That Happened: Classic!

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Note: due to the All-Star break, we now bring you a special “Classic” version of “And That Happened.” The following originally ran on July 14, 1932

Yankees 5, Browns 3: A home run for Babe Ruth, his 25th on the season. Ruth is the power-hitting sensation the sport desperately needs these days. Let’s hope he’s clean. Sorry, but even in this Prohibition era, it’s impossible not to be suspicious when someone continues to show up to the ballpark in last night’s clothes, reeking of gin, cigar smoke and the scent of loose women. Ruth is a great story. Let’s just hope he’s legit.

Senators 15, White Sox 4: The game was delayed some two hours, as the city’s streets had to be cleared for Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur, as he and two cavalry units marched to clear the Bonus Army off the Anacostia Flats. When the dead and injured were removed, it was a wonderful day for a ballgame. Heinie Manush had a triple, four RBI and an assault beef, after he socked two wiseacres for laughing at the name “Heine.”

Dodgers 5, Cubs 4: This game was delayed as well. Hobos. Hobos as far as the eye could see. Happens so often anymore, however, that none of the players seemed too upset by it all.  At any rate, after the hobos were rounded up and placed on a westbound freight, play resumed.  Only problem: the Dodgers’ starter — Sloppy Thurston — was himself mistaken for a hobo, likely due to his name. This led to a longer delay. Eventually Sloppy was returned.

Phillies 3, Reds 2: I was going to take the train down to Cincinnati for this one, but I had another engagement. There was a meeting of the  Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform here in Arch City, and I for one would never pass up the opportunity to meet Ms. Pauline Sabin, who (a) is single and; (b) is doing God’s work. Snipe Hansen and Pinky Whitney were the heroes of this one for the Phillies. Which isn’t surprising, because when you think of a hero, you can’t help but think of Snipe and Pinky.

Braves 5, Pirates 1; Braves 10, Pirates 5: This doubleheader was not entirely necessary. Boston has been visiting Pittsburgh for several days now and could very well have completed this series in single games. It was deemed appropriate by President Hoover, however, that in light of the current economic strife, that the clubs stimulate the economy with concentrated economic activity like this whenever possible. “Some may construe mild suggestions to the private sector such as these to be a brand of socialism,” President Hoover said, “and I am not unaware of the danger of this level of governmental meddling in private affairs.  But desperate times call for desperate measures, and if the very meek entreaties of a sitting President to our nation’s evil, bloated plutocrats has even the slightest hope of helping matters, I am willing to risk the potentially destabilizing side effects that this intervention might cause.”

Cardinals 6, Giants 2: after 30 years with John McGraw at the helm, the Giants are still adjusting to new manager Bill Terry following McGraw’s retirement a little over a month ago. Winning games without constantly baiting the other team, the umpires and the fans into horrendous donnybrooks is not part of the Giants’ makeup, so it will certainly take time to adjust.

Red Sox 8, Tigers 2: The Red Sox’ win — the second in a two-game winning streak! — brings them to within 36 games of first place. This win was nice, but it’s just sad to see a team from a town as small as Boston trying to compete with the big boys from up-and-coming juggernaut cities like Detroit.

Indians 7, Athletics 5: Three days after the ridiculous game in which Eddie Rommel gave up 29 hits — and won — and in which Johnny Burnett went 9-for-11 — and lost — the Indians and Athletics play a relatively tame one. Lefty Grove takes the loss in a relief role. I say, the man just simply doesn’t know how to win baseball games.

Yordano Ventura represented the best and worst of baseball’s culture

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
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It was reported this morning that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Former prospect Andy Marte was also killed in a separate car accident. Along with Jose Fernandez and Oscar Taveras, the baseball world has lost a lot of young, exciting talent in a very short amount of time.

Ventura was, like all of us, a complex human being. At his best, he was an exciting, talented, emotive pitcher who featured an electric fastball which sat in the mid-90’s and occasionally touched 100 MPH. At his worst, he was an immature, impressionable kid trying to fit in by exacting revenge against batters he felt had wronged him by slinging those electric fastballs at vulnerable areas of their bodies.

Baseball needed Ventura when he was at his best. It is players like him and Fernandez, not Mike Trout, that bring in new fans to the sport. To baseball die-hards, Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the pinnacle of entertainment because we know he’s an otherworldly talent. But to the average fan, Trout is just another player who hits a couple of homers and doesn’t do anything particularly interesting otherwise. Trout is milquetoast. Ventura was never an All-Star, but fans knew who he was because he made his presence felt every time he made a start. He was fun, if sometimes vengeful.

Ventura’s baseball rap sheet is rather lengthy for someone who only pitched parts of four seasons in the big leagues. Early in the 2015 season, Ventura found himself in a handful of benches-clearing incidents in quick succession. On April 12, he jawed with Trout, apparently misunderstanding the motivation behind Trout yelling, “Let’s go!” Though catcher Salvador Perez intervened, Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols ran in from second base and the benches cleared shortly thereafter. On the 18th, some drama between the Athletics and Royals continued. Ventura fired a 99 MPH fastball at Brett Lawrie, resulting in his immediate ejection from the game. More beanball wars ensued in the series finale the following day. Finally, on the 23rd, Ventura hit White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu with a 99 MPH fastball in the fourth inning. Ventura was not ejected… until after the completion of the seventh inning. Walking back to the dugout, Ventura barked at White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton and — you guessed it — the benches cleared. All told, Ventura was fined for his behavior with the Athletics and suspended seven games for the White Sox incident.

In August 2015, Ventura called Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista a “nobody” and accused him of stealing signs. He apologized shortly thereafter. Two months later, during his start in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Ventura got into it with Jays first base coach Tim Leiper. Nothing happened beyond that, but apparently it was part of the Jays’ plan to try to put Ventura “on tilt.”

Most recently, in June this past season, Ventura hit Orioles third baseman Manny Machado with a pitch. Machado charged the mound and got in at least one punch before the players spilled out onto the field in a blob of royal blue and orange. Ventura was suspended for eight games.

Ventura was by no means a model of civility, but he was a product of baseball’s intransigent culture forcing players to assimilate or be ostracized. The old culture taught players to never show emotion. Hit a home run? Put your head down and circle the bases in a timely fashion or risk taking a fastball to the ribs. Players like Fernandez and Bautista — typically players from Latin countries — challenged those old cultural norms and are, as a result, the vanguard of the new culture. Ventura displayed aspects of each, the worst of the old culture and the best of the new. He was not a one-dimensional person; he was strikingly complex. At one moment willing to use a fastball as a weapon, the next stopping by some kids’ lemonade stand and giving out fist bumps. Baseball is made more entertaining and more interesting by its personalities and Ventura’s was a behemoth, for better or worse. His absence from the sport will be felt.

MLB remembers Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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Following the tragic passing of 25-year-old Yordano Ventura and 33-year-old Andy Marte, both of whom were killed in separate car crashes on Sunday morning, players and executives from around Major League Baseball expressed an outpouring of grief and support for the players’ families and former teams.

Fans have gathered at Kauffman Stadium in memory of the former pitcher.