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Today in baseball history: Baseball on ice

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On February 4, 1861, 20 members of the Charter Oak and Atlantic Baseball Clubs organized a baseball game on a frozen pond in Brooklyn. According to both the New York Times and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the match was incredibly popular. Anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 spectators stopped by to watch the game unfold, crowding along the boundaries of the makeshift baseball field and the high banks surrounding it.

The players were surprisingly proficient in skating, and the Eagle notes that only one or two tripped on the ice after failing to stop at a base or calculate where the silver ball was about to land. In lieu of physical bases, the ice was marked with a “reddish coloring” where players were expected to stop, though the official rules eventually mandated that players skate past the marks in order to avoid injury.

After nine full innings, the game ended 36-27 in favor of the Atlantics. Whether they had more talented baseball players or just better skaters (or both) is difficult to say. They opened the game with an eight-run spread in the first inning and had worked up to an 18-2 lead by the third, while the Charter Oak club didn’t hit its stride until it broke out with seven runs in the fourth inning. The most productive player by far was Atlantic second baseman C. Smith, who singlehandedly contributed six runs for his team — though if any home runs were incorporated into the game, the Eagle doesn’t say how the players managed to avoid hitting the skaters and spectators who surrounded them.

“Baseball on ice” didn’t survive the end of the 19th century in the United States, but it provided some much-needed entertainment during the sport’s long winter hiatus and inspired other countries to take up the gimmick. Here’s some fun footage from a women’s baseball game in Toronto during the winter of 1924:

If there’s any remedy for a tedious offseason, it’s this.

Clayton Kershaw struggles with control, walks six Marlins

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.

Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.

The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.