In the early 1960s, Baseball feared the rising number of Latinos in the game, but in this area, at least, the game has been a positive example for tolerance.
Harry “Cookie” Lavagetto played second and third base for the Pirates and Dodgers in the 1930s and 40s and remains known for delivering one of the great moments in World Series history, the pinch-hit double that broke up Bill Bevens’ no-hitter with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 1947 World Series. Ironically, it was his last hit in the majors—not even Ted Williams got a police escort off the field after his last hit. After being cut by the Dodgers, Lavagetto played for some excellent Pacific Coast League teams with his hometown Oakland Oaks, including the 1948 league champions, then went on to a long career as a coach and manager.
Lavagetto was the last manager of the original Washington Senators and the first manager of the Minnesota Twins. It was in the latter capacity that he gave the 1961 interview, titled “The Challenge from Latin-America” in Baseball Digest. Author Dick Gordon wrote:
While there were only 45 Latins (or seven percent of the of the total) on major league rosters this spring, the number is steadily increasing. And the fact that there are an estimated 500 of them in organized ball already indicates the threat of a Castro etc. “invasion” not by soldiers armed with rifles but by athletes with rifle arms.
The BP team gives the players, current or former, that they'd like to see run for office
1) Branch Rickey
Branch Rickey was not a secular saint. He was a baseball man, and there was an element of self-interest in everything he did. “The farm system, which I have been given credit for developing,” Rickey said, “originated from a perfectly selfish motive: saving money.” Even breaking the color line wasn’t totally selfless. “The greatest untapped reservoir of raw material in the history of the game is the black race,” he said. “The Negroes will make us winners for years to come. And for that, I will happily bear being called a bleeding heart and a do-gooder and all that humanitarian rot.” Yet, you can also accuse Abraham Lincoln of being half-assed about emancipation. Even though their motives were not spotlessly clean, even if the results were imperfect, at least they moved in the direction of justice, which, as the Constitution says, is the whole point—to arrive at “a more perfect union.”
Ideology is not very useful; real world problems require nuanced solutions rather than predetermined responses. At the nadir of the Great Depression, presidential candidate Franklin Roosevelt said, “The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it; if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” We don’t have much of that attitude these days, just gridlock based on putting faction above statesmanship and the thin slogans that pass for political philosophy. Give me the cigar-chomping, bowtie-wearing pragmatist who, seeing an opportunity to simultaneously right a wrong and exploit an opportunity, would swear “Judas Priest!” and go about the necessary business of thinking outside of the boundaries set by his supposed peers. And if he wanted to make Leo Durocher his running mate, well, even Ike had Nixon. —Steven Goldman
Sam deconstructs a 12-page pamphlet that supports sending Juan Gonzalez to Cooperstown.
One of the strange things about praise is that it sometimes works in reverse. You tell me Muse is the best band in the world, and I’m compelled to dispute this craziness, and before I know it I find myself saying and thinking horribly mean things about Muse, even though Muse is perfectly fine, just not my cuppa tea.
And this is what I found myself feeling as I read Juan Gonzalez’ Hall of Fame brochure. Yes, Juan Gonzalez has a Hall of Fame brochure. It is 12 pages, it is extremely glossy, it came in the mail, and in about 25 seconds I’m going to show it to you, because you should get to see what a Hall of Fame brochure looks like. But before I do, I want to say this: Juan Gonzalez was really, really good at baseball. He was way better at baseball than Chris Sabo and Mark Portugal and Bobby Higginson, and nobody is saying mean things about them today. Whereas I am quite likely to say mean things about Juan Gonzalez and about the brochure that is supposed to be helping him. I would say this means Juan Gonzalez’ Hall of Fame brochure has failed. But let’s consider it together. (Note: click on images to expand.)
The safety that came after what the record books reflect.
Because the record book lists Roberto Clemente with 3,000 career hits, people naturally assume that the 3,000th was his final hit, that double off the New York Mets’ Jon Matlack on September 30, 1972.
You’ve all seen the photo, Clemente standing on second base, tipping his hat to the crowd. But it was not his last hit. Another left-hander served up the final hit of The Great One’s tragedy-shortened career, and he remembers it as well today as he did on that October day during the National League Championship Series almost 40 years ago.
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Everybody remembers that first plate appearance, but what happened in the final trip for some of the game's iconic hitters?
One of the sad realities of life is that we rarely get to choreograph our exits. Things seldom end as we would have wished, and it is no different for most big league ballplayers. Every ex-ballplayer remembers his first big league plate appearance. Those who don't are either lying or probably self-anesthetized in some fashion. On the other hand, how many of them remember their final plate appearance?
Day Three featured two lopsided victories. Live in Puerto Rico, Derek passes on what caught his attention.
It was a strange feeling being in Puerto Rico, watching baseball on Super Bowl Sunday. It felt like being a rebel leader in exile, biding my time, keeping the faith, and trying to secure foreign support while waiting for the current despots-the NFL-to slip up, so that the people can be liberated from football once and for all.
Until the glorious day the anti-football revolution comes, people in America will be unfamiliar with the workings of the Caribbean Series, and it will be incumbent upon us to educate them. Saturday's Day Two action left us with two undefeated teams, and two winless ones. The Dominicans pounded Mexico, 9-0, with Tony Batista again proving the offensive catalyst, adding two more homers to the one he hit in the opening game. In the nightcap, the home team beat the Venezuelans in a much closer match, 6-3. So on Sunday, the two winless teams played each other in the afternoon, leaving the two undefeateds to joust in the evening. In other words, after the day's action we would finally have a clear, unbeaten front-runner, as well as one 0-3 team that will be virtually out of contention for the crown.
The longest game in Caribbean Series history made for a very long day for one intrepid reporter.
There was a point in the first game of yesterday's Caribbean World Series doubleheader--men on second and third, two outs, 16th inning, Gregor Blanco swinging right out of his socks on the first pitch, and whiffing two pitches later--when I thought, this game will not die. It's like Dracula, the Wolfman, and John McLane, rolled up into one.
I'm getting ahead of myself. I arrived at Estadio Municipal Roberto Clemente Walker (as the stadium of the Carolina Giants is formally known) more than six hours prior to Blanco's strikeout. The mission was simple--pick up my press credential, get up to the press box, and dig in for a doubleheader. The first game was Venezuela against the Dominican Republic, or the Aragua Tigers against the Cibao Eagles. The second game--Puerto Rico (the aforementioned Giants) against Mexico (the Hermosillo Naranjeros)--was the main event of the first day, given the hometown crowd. However, DR/Venezuela was the highlight, the grudge match between last year's champion and runner-up, a confrontation anticipated even before the Caribbean Series schedule had been released.
Jim opines on the most popular players on the Internet, compares two great Puerto Rican ballplayers, and mourns the Angels' loss of their special status.
As anyone who is anyone these days will tell you, it's not how much money you have, but how many references your Google search turns up. With that in mind, let's put aside matters of career batting averages and home run totals and find out which players register most where in counts: on the 'Net.
How many different places will the Expos call home next season? Jose Cruz Jr.--he's not quite Roberto Clemente yet. The Jays have decisions to make on some single-season temps. All this and more from Montreal, San Francisco, and Toronto in Friday's Triple Play.
Same Old, Same Old: Major League Baseball continues to drag its feet and spit on whatever shred of integrity it may have left by dragging out the Expos situation. Nutshell: The players want to play 81 games in one city next year, preferably Montreal. MLB wants a split schedule as a way to maximize team revenue; by playing a slate of games in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Monterrey, Mexico, or wherever else they can find local businessmen who'll make guarantees, Bud Selig and company have ensured that the legacy of short-sighted decisions shaped by grubbing for a few million dollars at a time will live on.
We're here to announce the winners of the 8th Annual Internet Baseball Awards. Over 700 knowledgeable cyberspace baseball fans - a new record - participated in this effort to select the baseball players whose 1999 seasons were most deserving of honors.