Today baseball’s historian John Thorn tells us about the time the poet Walt Whitman wrote a baseball game story. This one-off affair happened on June 18, 1858 when Whitman wrote an editorial for the Brooklyn Daily Times about a game he witnessed the previous day. The entire column is reproduced, as is a box score, with the notation “H.L.” for “hands lost,” referring to outs made. Which is a thing that should TOTALLY be revived, by the way.
Clearly a different time and a very different game. But the fact that the story focuses on (a) the team winning doing so in part by luck as opposed to being better; and (b) references to numerous injuries which affected the outcome, make it something that could appear just as easily today as it did over 150 years ago.
No references to how today’s modern players aren’t as good as those of the reporter’s youth, sadly. But that’s just because there weren’t any.
UPDATE: I just spoke to a Padres source who tells me that the person in the video at whom Molina was pointing is a member of the security team normally stationed out there. When he moved away it wasn’t because Molina was calling him out, but because he temporarily had to leave his post. He’s normally stationed out in the batter’s eye like that.
10:44 AM: Yesterday, during the Padres-Cardinals game, Yadier Molina pointed to the center field camera well at a guy in a Padres shirt with a pair of binoculars and a walkie-talkie. Molina talked the the umpire about it. The guy soon backed out.
Ted Berg of USA Today’s FTW speculates that Molina thought the guy was stealing signs. Or trying to. Maybe he was. Maybe he was just doing something else and Molina was just being cautious about it. Who knows? But I agree with Berg that the real story here is that Molina has to be the most observant dude in the world to have noticed that, over 400 feet away while trying to do his job.
We recently linked a story from baseball’s official historian John Thorn about the 1857 meeting in which the rules of baseball, which had been played for some time, were revised, formalized and written down. Stuff like clubs agreeing that you have to catch a ball on the fly to be out and that sort of thing.
The notes of the meeting were written in longhand and they still exist. And, as Richard Sandomir notes in the New York Times, they just sold for a lot of money:
A group of documents from 1857 that set down some of the fundamental rules of baseball was acquired at auction Sunday by an unidentified buyer for $3.26 million, making it one of the highest-priced pieces of sports memorabilia . . . “Laws,” which was written by Daniel Adams, who was known as Doc, established rules such as nine men on a side, 90-foot base paths and nine innings to a game. Adams played for the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club, where he pioneered the shortstop position, and later became its president as baseball’s popularity increased. He referred to batters as “strikers,” balks as “baulks” and runs as “aces.”
If these go for that kind of money, just imagine what the unwritten rules would go for.