Did players flip bats in the 1940s?

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I posted the link to the trailer for the new “42” movie last night.  Here is again. Watch it, and then join below for a brief discussion:

Since that came out, a couple of topics of conversation have popped up.

First: Do we like what we can see of Harrison Ford’s Branch Rickey? Last night I suggested that it was actual acting instead of Leading Manning from Ford, which is something we haven’t seen from him in ages.  But now that I’ve watched it a few times, I’m struck by how his first lines of dialogue — starting at the :30 mark and going through :47 — in the trailer make it seem like he’s doing an impression of Heath Ledger doing The Joker.  Interesting choice.

Second: at the 1:03 mark or so, Robinson hits a homer and flips the bat.  People on Twitter are wondering — as am I — if bat flipping as a means of defiance was a thing in the 1940s. Or, alternatively, are the filmmakers retconning some attitude to Robinson that wasn’t really there.

It’s all interesting, mostly because Robinson has sorta been canonized in a way that has, regretfully, robbed him of his humanity in the public imagination. Dude probably wasn’t always a saint, whether or not people flipped bats back in the 1940s.

Anyway, now would be a good time for me to go find a good Jackie Robinson biography.

Michael Young has some opinions on brushback pitches

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A lot of people in the comments to Bill’s posts on the Urena-Acuña posts last night and in response to my rant about it in the recaps and on Twitter this morning, have talked about how silly writers don’t understand the culture of baseball and how pitchers have been brushing back batters for years. One guy said that old players would laugh at me for my naive notions about such matters and that, to make it as a pitcher, you have to brush guys back and reclaim the inside of the plate and make the hitter uncomfortable in the box.

I think that’s all b.s. obviously, but they are right about one thing: I don’t play baseball and baseball players probably know this stuff better. With that in mind, I’m going to defer to seven-time All-Star Michael Young’s thoughts on the matter of brushbacks and purpose pitches:

If you think you know more about this than Michael Young, you now have his Twitter handle and can tell him yourself.