An email about the Baseball Prospectus event in Kansas City inspires the Professor to plan an encounter with a legend.
A few weeks ago, I received an email from Joe Hamrahi, our beloved leader and spiritual advisor at Baseball Prospectus, in which he outlined the details of the All-Star event in Kansas City that I was scheduled to attend. As usual, I read the email like a hyperactive kid who had just snorted a baby arm of FunDip, which is to say I opened it and recognized a few words and immediately started dreaming of a better life, when I happened upon the name of Willie Mays and the word “brunch.” Apparently, the Baseball Prospectus gathering would be taking place at the theater across the street from the Negro Leagues museum, which had scheduled an event involving all seven living Negro League players who had become major-league all-stars. A private brunch was to be held that morning with the distinguished guests. At the top of the guest list was Willie Howard Mays, Jr.
Instead of spending quality time with the email and forming a relationship with the proper context, I drifted off into a romantic fantasy in which my Sunday morning would be spent with Willie Mays, sharing stories and slamming mimosas. We would fast become tethered by an unbreakable bond; our friendship dance would be aesthetically pleasing to the blind. The Futures Game had previously occupied the role of apple of my eye, but I no longer cared about minor-league baseball or the participants in such an event. Two weeks ago, my heart belonged to Willie Mays and the brunch we would consume in a shared space. As per normal, I scripted the event to the letter and the line, and I felt comforted by the familiarity of the teleprompter I placed a few feet from my scene. I entered my own head and started spelunking for the memories I would no doubt come to appreciate after they matured into adulthood. It all started with an iPhone alarm puffing out its chest at 8:02 AM on Sunday, July 7th.
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 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.
The Dodgers coach discusses coming to the United States, his playing experiences, and those who influenced him.
Manny Mota is known to most baseball fans as one of the best pinch-hitters of all time, but he might be better described as one of the game’s finest ambassadors and gentlemen. A coach for the Dodgers since 1980, the 71-year-old Mota came to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 1957 and went on to play for the Giants, Pirates, Expos, and Dodgers for 20 big-league seasons, retiring with a .304 lifetime average and 150 pinch hits. He encountered prejudice along the way, having emigrated to a country that didn’t see racism totally disappear with the breaking of baseball’s color barrier a decade earlier.
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.
At popular request, Satchel Paige's adventures on the island bear retelling.
In our last installment, I made reference to "Satchel Paige's midnight ride to the Dominican Republic, where he helped pitch the dictator Trujillo's team to a championship while being held at gunpoint." I've received many requests to tell the story, and will do so here. One caveat before I dive in, however: those involved in Paige's Dominican adventure, particularly Paige himself, liked to exaggerate the details of this story, making it more dramatic as the years passed. As they were not overly concerned with fidelity to objective truth, neither will I be. I'm going to tell it as best I can tell it, which is how Paige would have wanted it. As the song goes, some of this is true; some of this is better.
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Will MLB live down to its past when it comes to its relationship with Japan?
Professional Japanese baseball faces an uncertain future. With the success of Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui, the World Baseball Classic win, and the hoopla surrounding Daisuke Matsuzaka, Major League Baseball sees Japan as a new pool of talent for North American teams. Through the posting system and soon through signing talent out of school, the one-way flow of stars from the Eastern to the Western Hemisphere could drain talent from the Far East. Unless talent--star talent--actually flows both ways across the Pacific, the Japanese major leagues may slide into outright dependence on Major League Baseball instead of becoming a major league equal.