Look, I realize this is tenuous at best, but every baseball newsmaker in the country was watching election stuff last night too rather than making baseball news so the pickings are slim this morning. Anyway:
- An issue on the ballot in Wilmington, North Carolina that would have spent $37 million in public funds to build a baseball stadium resoundingly failed. The Atlanta Braves backed it and would have moved a single-A team there if it had succeeded. Worth noting that $37 million is less than the annual pay of the CEO of Liberty Media, which owns the Braves, so if they really wanted a ballpark there so bad they could have built it themselves;
- Connie Mack IV, the great grandson of Hall of Fame owner-manager Connie Mack, was beat in the Florida senate race. This comes 20 years after he got into a bar fight with former big leaguer Ron Gant, by the way;
- Ben Chandler, the grandson of former baseball commissioner Happy Chandler, lost his U.S. House seat in Kentucky.
- A former baseball writer/sabermetrician correctly predicted the outcome of the presidential race in all 50 states despite (a) being derided as a pansy-looking stat geek who lives in his mother’s basement; and (b) being marginalized as someone who is somehow unqualified to have insights on the subject about which he writes because he isn’t part of the journalist/pundit establishment which thinks data-free narratives and amorphous concepts like “momentum” and “gut feel” matter.
To sum up: a loss for a publicly funded ballpark, a loss for a guy who once punched a player I like in the crotch and a loss for the proudly innumerate. Not a bad night. Not a bad night at all.
As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.
The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.
Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.
Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.