Archive for May, 2009

Rounding the Bases

May 31, 2009
Simple. Direct. Perfect.

A few All-Star thoughts from the week:

– I love the “Vote for Manny” idea from Jason. It’s hilarious, and it uses a very media-oriented topic to get some attention to a very important issue on how we treat steroids.

– However, I think some (though not Jason; this isn’t the point he’s trying to make at all) are taking Manny’s candidacy a little too legitimately. The voting started before the suspension. Manny was a celebrity in LA, and I imagine he would be leading all vote-getters at this point without the suspension. Before criticizing the fans for poor voting, let’s let this play out a little. I doubt he was going to get a lot of votes after his suspension, though the new campaigns and attention might keep him in the picture longer than he should (vote for Justin Upton people!). And if we’re really going to go all-out, why is A-Rod third?

– Joey Votto went on the DL. I feel for the guy. He was doing an awesome job and is a young, exciting player. I’d still feel for him if he were the opposite. It has to be really scary for someone with such a problem, and I only hope that by sitting the next few weeks, everything will clear itself up. Vote for Joey anyway.

– The real travesty of the NL outfield voting so far is that Raul Ibañez is just sixth and that Justin Upton and Brad Hawpe don’t even appear in the voting. I realize that a lot of voters haven’t voted yet (I haven’t), but this is just ridiculous. Beltran and Braun are fine choices, but Ibañez is the epitome of All-Star Games (big first half, much bigger than career would indicate), Upton should at least be in the top five, and the same goes for Hawpe. They just happen to play for crappy NL West teams. Look, people, look! Before you vote, you should, you know, actually look at the statistics. Then again, if you fall into the popularity contest portion of it, I respect your decision as long as you vote Griffey into the game as well (he is 4th, and I would be okay with him getting in).

– Brewer fans have shown up in big numbers so far. All Brewers starters are in the running at this point, and we may be seeing another 1957. Someone please explain how Bill Hall is second at third base. Please? JJ Hardy? Jason Kendall? Corey Hart? Mike Cameron? I’ll give you Fielder, Weeks, and Braun.

– Where have all the Cubbies gone (8 made it last season — most of any team)?

– In an odd moment, the AL voting actually looks sane, but I doubt that we’ve seen the brunt of Yankee-Red Sox forces yet. Is Scott Rolen really ahead of Mike Lowell?

– Scratch that, Rangers fans appear to be the Brewers of the AL.

– Again, it’s way too early to make a big deal out of any of this. Most of the voters to use all 25 by this point probably don’t pay much attention to who should be at the game. By the end of the month, there should be a lot more appropriate players there.

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Sunday Frivolities

May 31, 2009
Cobb didn’t make a lot friends.

A while back when I started this Sunday rotation, I mentioned a bunch of players who only had a “cup of coffee” in the majors. Usually, these guys are players that have spent substantial time in the minors looking for an opportunity. In the comments of that post, Kevin, over at DMB World Series Replay, made the mention that Allan Travers was a future priest who was recruited to play a game in which the Detroit Tigers protested a Ty Cobb suspension. I looked it up and planned to do it last week because the timing (you’ll see) was more appropriate, but due to a 21st birthday the night before, watching the Braves game, and getting a call to go watch a Bats game, I had no time to post last Sunday, which I deeply regret because I like Sundays. Anyway, on to Allan Travers’ unique story.

On May 15, 1912, the Detroit Tigers visited the New York Yankees, and as Yankee fans are want to do, they heckled the Tigers but took particular pleasure in jabbing Ty Cobb. If you know anything about Cobb, you know he’s a man with a short temper. Apparently, Claude Leuker didn’t get the message, and he called Cobb a “half n*****”. Enraged, Cobb ran into the stands and began wailing on Leuker. Oh, and one more thing about Leuker — he lost a hand in a factory accident and only had three fingers on the other. Cobb, disregarding other fans’ pleas, shouted, “I don’t care if he has no feet!”

(What the fans actually did is unclear, but you would think that hundreds could have kept Cobb away from Leuker, or maybe they thought Leuker deserved it. I’m not really sure)

In response to Cobb’s outburst, American League President Ban Johnson suspended Cobb indefinitely on May 18th, and the Tiger players (all of them) decided to protest. Remember, fights and the like were common in those days, but I’m still not entirely sure why they objected other than that Cobb was their best player and they just accepted his behavior (maybe even thought it was an appropriate response to Leuker’s abuse). Without a team, Johnson told owner Frank Navin that he would be fined $5,000 for every game in which he did not have a team. Navin, then, told manager Hughie Jennings to field a team. Making matters worse, the Tigers were in Philadelphia.

Jennings went around Philadelphia that day, searching for enough players to field a team. On a street corner (reportedly), he found Travers playing a violin. Travers had never played a game of baseball in his life, failed to make the varsity team at St. Joseph’s College, and had never pitched. He was just the manager for the baseball team. However, he and Jennings found some other players, and the game went on.

Travers may or may not have wished that it had. Throwing slow curves to try to keep the Philadelphia Athletics off balance, Travers was rocked. Going all nine innings because there were no replacements (I mean, they had an equipment manager pitching, so there was no one else), Travers gave up 26 hits and 24 runs (14 earned). In addition, he walked 7 and struck out 1. The Tigers would go on to lose the game 24-2. Travers’ ERA was 15.75 (unjustifiably good for how bad he probably pitched) and his WHIP was 4.125. ERA+? 21.

After what was embarassingly called a game, Johnson met with the striking Tiger players and told them they would be banned from baseball if they continued their strike. Knowing it wasn’t worth it, Cobb told them it was okay, and they returned to action. All but one of the replacement players’ careers died that night. Billy Maharg would play a game for the 1916 Philadelphia Phillies, but he was most known for his involvement in the Black Sox scandal. In addition to the eight St. Joseph’s players, Jennings and two other 40-year olds played in the game, including Deacon McGuire who added to his assist record for catchers.

Travers would leave his baseball career behind to fulfill his vocation of becoming a priest. He entered into the Jesuit order and was ordained a priest in 1926. For many years, he refused to talk about his one day in the majors. I can understand why — he set the modern major-league record for most runs and hits given up in one game.

This Day in Baseball History: May 31st, 1965

May 31, 2009
This switch-hitter is just as surprised as I was.

On May 31, 1965:

An all switch-hitting infield starts for the Dodgers.

What an oddity. It’s normal to have one switch-hitter. It’s advantageous to have two switch-hitters in the lineup. But it’s just weird to have four switch-hitters and for all of them to play in the infield. At first base and in his second season, Wes Parker could take a walk but little else offensively while playing Gold Glove-caliber (he won 6 in his career) defense. At second base and in his rookie season, Jim Lefebvre was on his way to a Rookie of the Year Award even though he really wasn’t a whole lot better than Parker (he just did it at second). At short and in his seventh season, Maury Wills would steal 94 bases on his way to a third-place showing in the MVP voting. Finally, at third base and in his penultimate season, Jim Gilliam put together one of his finest seasons, but he would only play in 111 games.

Facing the Los Angeles Dodgers all-switch-hitting infield would be the Cincinnati Reds. Even with the supposed added difficulty of having to face such a task, Joey Jay would turn in a sparkling performance. Jay went 9 innings and struck out 8 while giving up 1 run on 3 hits, taming the Dodgers. Wes Parker would drive in the Dodgers’ only run with a sacrifice fly in the ninth. Otherwise, it was all Reds in the 6-1 beating. Frank Robinson, Deron Johnson, and Jimmie Coker (born exactly 52 years before me) would be the main contributors offensively.

However, the Dodgers would gain the upper hand for the season. They went on to finish first in the National League and win the World Series 4-3 over the Minnesota Twins. Though Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale were roughed up the first time around in Games 1 and 2, they rallied, and Koufax threw two complete-game shuouts in four days to take the World Series MVP. He would only give up 7 hits and 11 baserunners total. Parker and Wills had the best series offensively with Jim Lefebvre doing fairly well, too.

Trivia Time
Who had more wins that season, Koufax or Drysdale?

Yesterday’s Answer –> Harry Hooper for the Boston Red Sox in 1913. Eighty years later, Ricky Henderson would be the second.

The Pitcher’s Mound

May 30, 2009
Just in case you were curious.

Originally, there wasn’t even a mound on a baseball diamond. Pitchers threw underhand (essentially throwing up), and a mound made no sense whatsoever and wasn’t even thought of. Instead, there was a box with its front edge located 45 feet away from the front edge of the plate, and the ball had to be released within the box. In 1881, it was moved back to 50 feet to increase offense, which they knew even then increased attendance. Up to that point, pitchers worked quite well throwing underhand with two perfect games already thrown, but when you hear “Hit it back through the box”, this is where that phrase comes from as players literally hit it back through the box when hitting it up the middle.

Four years later, pitchers were allowed to throw overhand, tilting the power back in favor of the pitcher. In 1887, the box was standardized to size of 4 feet wide by 5 and half feet long. Why is this important? It increased the total distance of box to plate to 55 feet, 6 inches, and pitchers now had to pitch from the back of the box. Another six years passed, and the box became obsolete, and the rubber was introduced. Offense began reigning supreme again, and pitchers realized that a plate (or rubber as it was later called) increased velocity. Also, 5 more feet were added to the distance to hopefully completely even things out, making the distance 60 feet, 6 inches.

After refining their techniques of throwing overhand, pitchers also realized that a mound could help. At this point, their momentum took the pitch to the upper part of the zone, but a mound could redirect that, lower. Groundscrews began tinkering with the idea, adding an inch here and there, but it was not standardized. John Montgomery Ward took credit for the invention of the mound, but it’s not really known who really started it. Shibe Park was rumored to have a 20 inch mound, but most others were around 15 or 16 inches high. In 1903 with the combining of leagues, standardization was desired, and the mound now had to be 15 inches high.

This worked for a number of years, but after 1968 and a thorough domination by pitchers, the MLB pushed back for offense. The mound was lowered to 10 inches to decrease the downward plane given to pitchers. It worked.

Today, the mound is in the center of the diamond (duh), the middle sitting 59 feet from the plate. Exactly 18 inches back from that, the rubber sits at 60 feet, 6 inches. The mound, itself, is 18 feet in diameter. It can only be 10 inches taller, but some pitchers will tell you that visiting bullpen mounds are not to standard heights, making it difficult to adjust. I do not believe that there are rules about bullpen mounds.

While there are no rules regarding the height of bullpen mounds, there are common sense rules that one should follow when betting online. Be smart and know your limits. Responsible
wagering is the key to a positive gaming experience. Remember, your actions directly effect family and friends.

How Historically Bad Is Jeff Francoeur?

May 30, 2009
At least he has that going for him.

I’m going to do something I won’t do very often, I’m going to admit that I was wrong. However, I would like to say I was misled.

At the beginning of Spring Training and this season, much was made of Jeff Francoeur’s new stance, and unless you watched, you probably didn’t take it very seriously. Well, I watched, and I was actually impressed.

I didn’t care too much about the stance. Everyone talks about stances and how much effect they have, but I’ll tell you what — they don’t. If you succeeded enough to get to the majors, your stance isn’t the problem. What I was more concerned about was the approach. The approach is much more important, and with Frenchy, it’s usually his biggest problem.

Last season, his mechanics were, in fact, off. He continually stepped “in the bucket” (down the third base line for righties, first for lefties) and not back towards the pitcher. That causes the shoulders and hips to clear early, leaving zero power and little ability to square up the ball. One reason I despise Terry Pendleton, this should have been an easy fix, but it never was. His approach wasn’t any good, but if your mechanics are off, it won’t matter.

So when it came to Spring Training, I paid attention to when he was swinging and not how. For the Spring, he was much better than I had seen him in some time. He was patient and letting pitches go that weren’t good to swing at. He had 7 BB in 67 AB’s (over 600 AB, that would work for a very acceptable 60 BB), and he wasn’t pressing. When the season began, he was still patient, but better pitchers were now forcing him to hit. At that point, he was, and he was doing it by going the opposite way. Now? Not so much.

He’s gotten completely away from the new approach, even though the stance has not changed. Last night in his one at-bat with a hit, he let the first two pitches go for balls, and on the 2-0 count, he took a high slider and roped it into right. In the other bats? He swung at the first pitch and did little with them. If you want to be aggressive and swing at the first pitch, make it be a good pitch, not the crap Frenchy has swung at.

So what to do? Well, he needs to go away. Partly, he needs to leave because the expectations in Atlanta are too high for him to get back into a groove. Mostly, he needs to work with a hitting coach better than Terry Pendleton, who has continually screwed up. How the Braves accomplish this is up to them.

So how bad has Frenchy been? Looking at last year’s .653 OPS and 72 OPS+, I took a look. In terms of his .653 OPS, it was the 236th worst season since 1901 (1901!) for an outfielder that received at least 500 at-bats. One way to make up some value is to steal bases, but Francoeur stole 0 (many of the others on this list stole at least double-digits). Vince Coleman, in 1986, only had a .581 OPS, but he stole 107 bases. The OPS isn’t good, but when he got on, at least he did something. Frenchy barely got on and barely moved when he did. For trivia’s sake, George Barclay’s .495 OPS in 1904 is the worst ever, and Bobby Tolan’s .555 in 1973 is the worst in the last 40 years. Brian Hunter’s .581 OPS in 1999 is the worst in the past 10 years. In that past decade, Francoeur’s .653 is sixth-worst, in Endy Chavez levels.

But because I like advanced statistics, what about OPS+? It, predictably makes him look worse. His 72 is good for 56th worst in major-league history. The worst is Hunter’s 1999 season of 48. Willie Taveras and Michael Bourn’s 2008 seasons of 56 and 57, respectively, are the third and fourth-worst ever, but again, they stole bases at least (44 for Hunter, 68 for Taveras, and 41 for Bourn). Making all this worse, Francoeur went to the plate 652 times, more than 100 more than any of the other three.

Any worse? Well, those statistics included all outfielders. Right fielders are projected to hit well and for power. Jeff’s 2008 is the 61st worst (OPS) and 11th worst (OPS+) in major-league history. In the past decade, it is the 2nd worst in both categories. This season’s 63 OPS+ would be the worst for a right fielder who received at least 500 at-bats.

What about this season? He’s worse. His average is 12 points higher (.251), but his OPS his fallen 33 points (.620). His OPS+ is a robust 63. A .620 OPS season would make him the 88th worst in major-league history, and his 63 OPS+ also moves him up, this time to 13th all-time. So, the Braves continue to play one of the worst hitting outfielders in major-league history, and they do it every day. Why? Defense, maybe? His defensive worth was negative last year and is again this year. I have come to the dark side (or is it the light?), and as one of Francoeur’s most faithful, I no longer consider him good enough. Too bad Cox does.

This Day in Baseball History: May 30th, 1986

May 30, 2009
{Insert joke here}

On May 30, 1986:

Barry Bonds made his major-league debut.

Scratch that. If you look at most sites and even Baseball-Reference, they put Barry Bonds’ major-league debut as May 30th, but actually, it was just his first major-league start. He actually made a pinch-hit appearance on April 20th, rapping an RBI single.

Anyway, at the time of his debut, he was two months away from his 22nd birthday and was a top prospect. Originally drafted in 1982 by the Giants in the second round, Bonds could not work out an acceptable contract with the Giants and went to the University of Southern California. In 1984, he broke a College World Series record by getting a hit in 7 consecutive plate appearances. In 1985, he hit .368 with 23 HR and 68 RBI. Later that year, he was drafted sixth overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates, and after signing quickly, he would be a player of the month in July for a minor-league affiliate. Bonds was promoted to AAA at the beginning of the next season, and with a .311 average and .537 SLG, he was promoted to the big leagues for his first start.

But on May 30th, it was a different Barry Bonds than you might remember. First, he led off, and he would lead off in 461 more games. Second, he played center field, and after playing all 110 games at center in 1986, he would only sparingly play there after. Third, he struck out 3 times, something he only did 34 times in his major-league career. He did, however, have a walk. It wasn’t a great debut for Bonds. He was 0-for-5 with 3 K’s in the Pirates’ 6-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Though he came in 6th in the Rookie of the Year voting, he wasn’t too terribly impressive, but one could see the talent. He did have power (16 HR and 26 2B), speed (36 of 43 in steals), and a good eye (65 BB). His .223 average and 102 K’s (his only 100+ K season) weren’t too good, but his .258 BABIP was a bit low. It would only be a matter of time. It gives me more faith that Jordan Schafer can be good.

Trivia Time
Who became the first player to hit leadoff home runs in both games of a double-header?

Yesterday’s Answer –> William O. Douglas went from majority to dissenter between the two cases.

This Day in Baseball History: May 29th, 1922

May 29, 2009
All the sports have this, don’t they?

On May 29, 1922:

The Supreme Court upholds Major League Baseball Anti-Trust Exemption.

At the turn of the 20th century, Progressivism was at its height. A response to the Industrial Revolution and the Robber Barons, politicians such as William Jennings Bryan, Theodore Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson demanded reforms, especially in the economy, and the monopolies were main targets. Roosevelt would be the most active in his pursuit of trust-busting. But before he could do anything, he had to have a legal basis, and fortunately for him, it came in 1890, about a decade before he entered into office. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act was signed into law in 1890 by Benjamin Harrison. Though aimed at monopolies, it had an interesting loophole. Anyone who did whatever they did better than anyone else and thus gained a monopoly was not in violation. The Act was there to avoid artificially raising prices by restricting trade.

As for baseball, it was at a turning point at the turn of the century as well. In 1903, the National League and American League combined the two most competitive professional leagues into one, essentially creating a monopoly. However, the Federal League had other ideas, and by the early part of the next decade, it was a powerhouse as well. In 1915, the Federal League sued Major League Baseball, contending that the leagues conspired to prevent players in between contracts from signing with them. This would break the Sherman Anti-Trust Act as it restricted trade. Kenesaw Landis was the judge overseeing the case, but before the future commissioner and Cubs fan was forced to make a decision (one he didn’t want to make because he knew the Federal League had a case), the Federal League was absorbed into the MLB.

Part of the deal was compensation for the Federal League owners, but Baltimore was left out. They weren’t very happy. In 1919, the Baltimore owners sued the MLB for conspiring to destroy the Federal League, not a bogus accusation, and the first judge agreed, giving them $240,000 (wow!). Of course, the MLB appealed, and eventually, it made it to the Supreme Court in 1922. In the case of Federal Baseball Club v. National League, the Sherman Anti-Trust Act was up for debate. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes ruled that Major League Baseball was simply a “state affair” and did not violate any anti-trust acts. Although teams crossed state lines, money did not (technically), which would have violated the anti-trust acts, and the MLB was not “interstate commerce”.

As you might expect, baseball probably got a bit of a break here, but it was the nation’s pastime. Thirty years later in 1953, another case came to the Supreme Court. In Toolson v. New York Yankees, George Toolson (a pitcher for the Yankees’ AAA team) thought he could pitch in the majors, but because of the reserve clause, he was unfairly bound to the Yankees, challenging the restriction of trade clause of the Sherman Act. The earlier courts followed Federal, but the case appeared in the Supreme Court. Not swayed, the Supreme Court shot it down 5-2. A lawyer for baseball? Future baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn.

Almost twenty years later, Flood v. Kuhn (sound familiar) challenged it again. The Supreme Court once again ruled in favor of baseball, but it made an interesting statement. The original ruling, in their minds, was tenuous at best, and the MLB did in fact violate the interstate commerce clause. Though it technically didn’t do anything, it cracked baseball’s armor, and the reserve clause was about to go.

Trivia Time
What justice changed his mind from Toolson to Flood?

Yesterday’s Answer –> In order: Nolan Ryan (491 of 497 – 98.8%), George Brett (488 -98.2%), and Robin Yount (385 – 77.5%).

Strikeout Fun

May 28, 2009
Rough night at the dish.

Chipper Jones struck out 4 times last night. Why does that matter? Well, it was the first time in his major league career that he accomplished such a feat. He had played in 2059 (1992 starts — Chipper made his debut in 1993, coincidence?) straight games without doing so. Just for fun, I looked up who had the longest streaks without having a four-strikeout game in the last 55 years (courtesy of B-R.com’s Play Index, of course).

Starts
*- denotes entire career

Carl Yastremski – 3222 *
Hank Aaron – 3172 *
Robin Yount – 2742
Rafael Palmeiro – 2712 *
George Brett – 2658 *
Al Kaline – 2619 *
Cal Ripken – 2615
Luis Aparicio – 2534 *
Joe Morgan – 2486 *
Ozzie Smith – 2473 *

Chipper Jones – 1992

Chipper is 38th on the all-time list for most consecutive games without striking out 4 times in a game and getting the lovely parting gift of a golden sombrero. In response, Chipper just chalked it up to another 0-for-4 game in his career, and he refused to blame his toe, which he really looked like he re-injured in his second at-bat last night. During his last at-bat, he just waived at the ball, not putting anything behind the swing. Could be because he just wanted to hit the ball, but it could be because his toe wouldn’t allow a full swing. You just don’t see Chipper give away at-bats like that very often.

Want to know who went the longest without having a three-strikeout performance? Bill Buckner with 2229 games. Ozzie Smith was next with 2129, and Tony Gwynn was next at 1878. It drops off precipitously after that.

Most starts without a strikeout? Nellie Fox at 98 games, and he also had the 4th longest at 47, two streaks of 39, 2 of 37, and one of 34 (all in the top 25 all-time; only Dave Cash and Felix Millan even have two streaks in the top 25). The next is Clint Courtney at 65 and Greg Gross at 64, dropping off after that.

Most consecutive starts with 4 K’s? Oddly enough, 2 is the longest streak, and it is shared by only 6 people — Todd Linden, Jay Buhner, Ken Caminiti, Dave Hostetler, Ruppert Jones, and Gorman Thomas.

This Day in Baseball History: May 28th, 1993

May 28, 2009
I was going to show these Hall of Fame pictures, but all of them had the mystery man in it. I’m guessing the question isn’t terribly difficult, but I’m not just going to give it away.

On May 28, 1993:

Robin Yount and George Brett meet in the first meeting of 3,000 hit players since 1925.

Robin Yount and George Brett would have made a terrific left side of the infield, but unfortunately, they never played on the same team. Incredibly, however, they both played on one team for their entire careers (Yount for the Brewers, Brett for the Royals), and it’s pretty hard to find two players like this in any era. Regardless, both were excellent defensive players (Yount at short and, after 1984, center, and Brett at third) who could also hit.

By May 28, 1993, both players had 3,000 hits, and both players were on their last legs. After 1990 (his age 37 season), Brett was an average hitter, and as a full-time DH, he was there for mainly sentimental purposes. In 1992 for his 3,000th hit, he was picked off while trying to enjoy the moment in what was probably one of the biggest dick moves of all-time.

Yount was also an average player by this point and had been since about 1989 (his age 33 and second MVP season), but he was still playing center every day. He, too, had his 3,000th hit in 1992, but he didn’t get picked off.

Coming into this game, both players were in their the twilight of their careers, but what careers they were, Hall of Fame in fact. Anyway, the Royals went to visit the Royals on the 28th of May. The Brewers, behind a complete-game gem from Cal Eldred, would beat Kevin Appier and the Royals 5-1. The two Hall of Famers didn’t have memorable games. Brett went 0-3 with an RBI on a groundout. Yount went 1-4 with a sharp grounder through the hole between the first and second basemen. Neither would have great last seasons, but appropriately, both were elected to the Hall of Fame in 1999.

Trivia Time
Who had the most votes in that Hall of Fame vote between the two, and who was the other guy elected in that election?

Yesterday’s Answer –> Willie Mays, but he actually did it today. Firefox kicked me off after I made the change and did not save it. I’m a failure. Sorry.

Ballantine Beer and Baseball

May 27, 2009
Right-center.

Peter Ballantine was born in Scotland in 1791, and he moved to the United States in 1820 and began working at a brewery. Thirteen years later, he opened his own brewery. Having some success and wanting a bigger market, he moved his family from Albany to New York City in 1840. By 1877, he was the fourth largest brewery in the country. When Prohibition hit, they changed to making malt syrup and diversified into an insurance and real estate company. After Prohibiton was lifted, the owners didn’t want to go back to brewing beer, and they sold that part of the company to Carl Badenhausen. Ballantine Beer was still as popular as ever. By the 1950’s, it was so popular that it was the third-largest brewing company in country, but it went into decline in the following decade. Now, it’s owned by Pabst Brewing Company, but it’s only sold in 40 oz. bottles.

What makes Ballantine Beer so special is its relationship with baseball. Based in New York City, it was a major sponsor of the New York Yankees in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Mel Allen, a famous Yankee announcer, would call Yankee home runs “Ballantine Blasts”, but Ballantine Beer would call for his firing in a cost-cutting move. When Phil Rizzuto retired from playing, Ballantine pushed for him to be hired as an announcer. After the Mets came to town, Ballantine Beer (favored by Yankee fans) and Rheingold (favored by Met fans) had an interesting rivalry.

Ballantine even reached into Philadelphia. Shibe Park’s outfield fences were originally low, and fans could watch games from nearby buildings. Connie Mack, not one to ignore finances, created a “spite fence” to block the view from right field. Brought over from Yankee Stadium, the Ballantine Beer Sign occupied the top 15 feet of the 75 foot wall just over the scoreboard. Anything hit over hit was a home run, but it is believed that Dick Allen was the only one to clear it.

After the 1960’s, Ballantine lost much of its influence and connection with the game of baseball.