From One for Five comes the story of James Hugh Moss, whose execution in 1928 had some question marks attached to it.
Over at the blog One for Five comes the story of an ex-Negro League ballplayer named James Hugh Moss, who was executed by the State of Georgia in August 1928. Not much is known about Moss as a ballplayer. The newspaper accounts of the crime he was put to death for mention his past playing history, but only in passing. The recent influx of Negro Leagues information at Baseball Reference also isn't much help, but even that is admittedly incomplete. Somesites mention an entry of "Moss" in James Riley's Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues. The Moss in the encyclopedia pitched for the Chicago American Giants in 1918. It's impossible to say if the ballplayer referenced is James Hugh Moss, but we do know the sad story of how Moss's life ended—even if the circumstances that led to it are very questionable.
As it stands, Moss was convicted, along with Clifford Thompson and his wife Eula Mae Thompson (both white), for the murder of Coleman Osborne. It seems that the three murderers/conspirators were in the bootlegging business to some degree. One night, they stopped the car they were using to haul whiskey near Osborne's home. Someone met Osborne at the door of his general store, there was some shouting, and Osborne was shot dead. The court found the three bootleggers guilty and ordered them to death by electric chair.
A look at some of the most underrated baseball films in cinematic history.
1) Bad Lieutenant Bad Lieutenant is Harvey Keitel at his most intense. He's a drunk, a drug addict, a degenerate gambler, an unfaithful man, a sadist, and in every way among the worst human beings ever portrayed on film. He has countless enemies, from drug dealers to rapists to bookies he owes money to, but there is one that bothers him most of all. That person is Daryl Strawberry. Among the biggest of many weights dragging down on Keitel is his gambling debt, which he tries to eliminate by constantly going double-or-nothing on a fictional playoff series between the Mets and the Dodgers. After the Dodgers win the first three games of the series, Keitel continuously bets on the Dodgers to put the series away, and time and time again it's Strawberry, who in real life joined the Dodgers in 1991, who ruins his game and ultimately his bet. I've always wondered if Strawberry has seen the movie, as Keitel (his character's name is never revealed) rampages against him in ways that seem far more personal than any crowd simply chanting DAAAAA-RYL. It would disturb me. Hell, it would disturb anyone. —Kevin Goldstein
2) The Fan The Fan is a delightfully creepy movie which features Wesley Snipes as a baseball player (how original!) and Robert DeNiro as a really angry, creepy guy (also very original!) named Gil. Snipes plays an outfielder named Bobby Rayburn who signs a big contract to join the San Francisco Giants and soon becomes DeNiro’s obsession. DeNiro quickly becomes the Pedro Gomez to Snipes’s Barry Bonds in San Francisco, tracking his every move on and off the field from a distance. I’m somewhat surprised that this movie isn’t listed among the pantheon of baseball cinematic classics, considering it has some of the best scenes in cinematic history. These include, but are not limited to: Gil killing another player on the Giants because he wouldn’t give Rayburn his lucky number, Gil kidnapping Rayburn’s son and then killing a man with an aluminum bat for helping the child escape, and at one point someone yells “HE’S CALLING FROM INSIDE THE STADIUM!” which is just wonderful.
In an effort to deliver top-quality products, BP has established a new advisory board.
Here at Baseball Prospectus, we strive for perfection in everything we do, but even the best collection of baseball writers and analysts on the web today can't be perfect. Sometimes we need input from you, our readers and subscribers, and other times we need to turn to the insight of those with experience in and around the game.
Taking a trip through time to discover how the game you play today took shape.
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
R. Emmet Sweeney is a film critic and fantasy baseball player who writes a weekly column for the official blog of Turner Classic Movies, Movie Morlocks. He has also contributed to Film Comment, Time Out Chicago, IFC News, The Believer, Moving Image Source and the Village Voice. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and the Ford at Fox box set. You can follow him on twitter at @r_emmet.
A historian looks at Willard Brown, the first African-American to play in a big-league game at Fenway Park.
Chris Wertz is a freelance baseball writer and historian living in New York City. He is a contributing author to the recently-released Pumpsie & Progress: The Red Sox, Race, and Redemption, by Bill Nowlin, which was published by Rounder Books.
Back in 2003, just after Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi had cut over 20 million from Toronto's payroll and was still managing to moneyball his way to an 86 win season, some members of the Toronto press foolishly accused him of racism. The accusations, which concerned the racial make-up of the team, were so crudely conceived and without basis in reality that they are not worth going into here, but, ironically, Riccardi was so concerned with finding undervalued players at the time that he'd have surely gone after a certain race if those players were devalued simply because of their skin color. In other words, he'd have loved nothing better than to pick up all the best Negro League players in 1940.
A new publicly-available storehouse of info allows for endless explorations into the game's history beyond the big leagues.
While I'm hardly an authority on the topic, I've always had a soft spot for minor league baseball, probably because my formative years were spent in minor league towns. I grew up attending ballgames in Salt Lake City, Utah, a city with a rich history as a minor league outpost dating back to the old Pacific Coast League and its 200-game seasons. During my childhood and adolescence it played host to the Triple-A affiliates for the Angels and Mariners in the modern-day PCL, and I got my fill of stars like Dickie Thon and Phil Bradley, high-altitude boppers like Ike Hampton, and future flops like Al Chambers. Additionally, every summer I would visit my grandparents in in Walla Walla, Washington, the site of the Padres' Low-A Northwest League affiliate, where I watched Tony Gwynn and John Kruk take their first steps toward major league stardom.
A famous rocker talks about one of his other great loves beyond music: baseball.
There are baseball fans, and then there is George Thorogood. An icon in the music world, Thorogood is not only a passionate Mets fan, he is also a walking-and-shouting baseball historian. A former second baseman with the semi-pro Delaware Destroyers, Thorogood has multiple gold records to go with his baseball pedigree, not to mention a reputation as one of the best live performers on the blues-and-rock circuit. About to hit the road for yet another tour, Thorogood shared his thoughts on performance-enhancing drugs, the brilliance of Sandy Koufax, and what it was like to talk baseball with the legendary John Lee Hooker.
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The D'backs' second baseman shares his thoughts on Willie Mays, the Negro Leagues, and the number of blacks in college and professional baseball.
Orlando Hudson has been the Arizona Diamondbacks' second baseman for the past three seasons; prior to that, he manned the Toronto keystone for four years, where he picked up his first of three Gold Gloves. In addition to his excellent fielding, he's a solid offensive presence in the lineup as well, and is hitting .295/.354/.462 with a .276 EqA this season. David spoke to Hudson about the Negro Leagues, about the population of blacks in baseball both on the field and in the stands, and about being a role model for the black community.
A look back at the career of one of the game's great executives.
The baseball world lost one of its titans last week, when Buzzie Bavasi died at the age of 93. A colorful veteran of nearly 50 years in the game, he was the architect of four World Championship teams, and played a pivotal role in some of baseball's biggest changes amid a career that embodied the highest highs and lowest lows of working as a front office executive.
Has the game been the forcing ground for a nation's promise?
I hope you enjoyed Opening Day, or as I like to think of it, the 61st anniversary of America. Yes, there was 1776, when the 13 colonies declared independence, or 1787, when the current Constitution kicked off, or even 1865, when Abraham Lincoln both ended slavery and established the supremacy of the federal government over the states by force of arms. Yet, in all that time, the country never began to close the gap between its rhetoric and its realities. That had to wait for 1947 and Jackie Robinson.