Over at Vice Spots Steven Goldman gives us a wonderful history lesson about beanballs, retaliation, Making Baseball Fun again and some of the most colorful characters in mid-century baseball history.
The story is about Joe Medwick, the 1937 Triple Crown winner, who was traded from the Cardinals to the Dodgers in 1940. Not long after the trade the Cards came to Brooklyn. Medwick and friend/new teammate Leo Durocher engaged in some hotel elevator trash talk with that day’s starting pitcher, Bob Bowman. A few hours later Medwick would be laying sprawled out and unconscious on the ground in Ebbets Field, beaned right in the noggin by a Bowman pitch.
The story features the fascinating detail that, yes, the Brooklyn D.A.’s office actually briefly investigated Bowman with an idea of charging him with a crime. That didn’t go anywhere, but if it had one wonders how it might’ve changed professional sports. Less dramatically, the story also contains some classic Durocher lip, some hilarious Larry MacPhail bluster and a lot of conversation about the nature of trash talk and purpose pitches in baseball which, contrary to what Bryce Harper says, has always been fun, even if it has been stupid at times.
A nice lunchtime read for you today.