This is from a couple of weeks ago in the Boston Globe, but I’m just seeing it now via Baseball Think Factory. File it under Stuff You Never Think About But Which is Nonetheless Cool: A hundred years ago a minor leaguer basically invented the word “jazz.”
It happened when one Ben Henderson, a pitcher for the 1912 Portland Beavers, told a Los Angeles Times reporter that he had a new curve ball he called a “jazz ball.” It hit the paper on April 2nd with the headline “Ben’s Jazz Curve.” And then:
In a relatively recent surprise for etymologists, the latest historical research has located his quote as the first known use of the word “jazz”–which in a few short years would bounce from West Coast ball fields to the nightclubs of Chicago and beyond. Ultimately, it would become the name for a distinctly American music–and a term so monumental in its impact that the American Dialect Society in 2000 named it the Word of the Century.
Ain’t that a kick in the head?
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: