Thursday, February 25, 2010
Baseball Names - and How They Got That Way! Part XIII (F)
The words and phrases are spoken and written day after day, year after year - generally without any wonderment as to how they became part of the language. All have a history, a story. For those of you who liked Part I, Part II, Part III, X and all the others and wanted more, here is more. As always, reactions and suggestions always welcome.
F ROBBY ("THE JUDGE) Hall of Famer Frank Robinson played for the Cincinnati Reds (1956-1965), Baltimore Orioles (1966-1971), Los Angeles Dodgers (1972), California Angels (1973), etc. His nicknames indicated an abbreviation of his name and some deference to his forceful ways. fallaway slide Used to avoid a tag, a slide to one side of a base, catching the base with the foot of a bent leg. (fall-away slide, fadeaway slide, fadeaway) FATHER OF THE EMORY BALL Rookie right-hander Russ Ford posted a 26-6 record with 8 shutouts, 1910 FENWAY PARK The Boston Red Sox moved into their new home in 1912 on the property of the Fenway Realty Company at Landsdowne and Jersey streets. Although it was rebuilt in 1934, it is essentially the way it was at the time of its birth. Its "Green Monster"—the 37-foot-high wall extending from the foul pole in left field 315 feet from home plate to the flagpole 388 feet from home well past left-center—is its most distinctive feature.
FIREBALLER A fastball-throwing pitcher (HARD CHUCKER; FIREMAN Johnny Murphy, the first great relief pitcher, who put out fires. Joe Page picked up this nick-name for his top relief work later on.
FIVE O’CLOCK LIGHTNING Back in the 1920s to attract school kids and the Wall Street crowd, baseball games at Yankee Stadium began at 3:30 P.M. At five o'clock, a whistle from a nearby factory blew signaling the end of the workday and often a typical late-inning home team rally and triumph, earning the Yankees that colorful nickname
FIRST TELEVISED SPORTS EVENT On May 17, 1939, over station W2XBS, a 16-man NBC crew with equipment costing $ 100,000 sent out the first televised sports coverage. The subject was the Princeton - Columbia baseball game from Baker Field in New York. A single camera was used, and the total cost of transmittal was $3,000. There were no close-ups of action. The players on the television screen looked like white flies. The single camera was stationed near the third-base line, and it swept back and forth across the diamond. Instant replay, "slo-mo," split screen, Zoomar lens, hand-held cameras, instant isolates, overhead blimps, graphics, Monday Night Football, and Super Bowl were not even dimly perceived by the average fan, but on June 5, 1939, an editorialist for Life magazine showed some vision: No fuzziness (in the telecast) could hide what television will mean for American sports.... Within ten years an audience of 10,000,000 sitting at home or in the movie theaters will see the World Series or the Rose Bowl game.... Thousands of men and women who have never seen a big-time sports event will watch the moving shadows on the television screen and become excited fans...."
FIRST WORLD SERIES Back in the 1880s for a period of seven years there had been play-offs between the winners in the National League and the American Association. Once the play-offs went to 15 games - 1887 between St. Louis and Detroit. Pittsburgh won its third straight National League pennant in 1903. Boston won the brand new American League title by 14 l/2 games over the Philadelphia Athletics. The Pirates bragged about Honus Wagner whose .355 average earned him the batting title. Their swashbuckling manager Fred Clarke was runner-up with a .351 average. Boston boasted about two 20-game winners in Deacon Phillippe and Sam Leever.
The first modern World Series came about at the suggestion of Boston owner Henry J. Killilea and Pittsburgh's owner Barney Dreyfuss. It was called "Championship of the United States" and it was a five of nine games affair. The first game was October l, 1903 at Boston's Huntington Avenue Grounds before 16,242. Deacon Phillippe pitched Pittsburgh to a 7-3 win over Boston's Cy Young.
Throughout the game and the series Boston's rabid fans serenaded Pittsburgh players with a popular song of the day, "Tessie," but they substituted their own vulgar words for the regular lyrics. The routine definitely had a negative impact on the Pittsburgh players. "It was that damn song that caused us problems," grumbled Buc player Tommy Leach afterwards.
Deacon Phillippe won three of the first four games of the series for Pittsburgh but then faltered. Boston then swept the next four games. Bill Dinneen and Cy Young won all five games for Boston in the series On October 13, only 7,455 showed up - the smallest crowd of the series. Phillippe pitched his fifth complete game of the series but lost, 3-0 to Dinneen and Boston had the championship.
Right after the game ended players from both clubs lined up for a combination team photo. It was a remarkable display of good sportsmanship considering the bitterness that had existed between the junior American League and senior National League.
An oddity of the World Series was that the losing players received more money that than the winners. Owner Dreyfuss put his club's share of the gate receipts into the players' pool. Each Pittsburgh player netted $1,316 while each Boston player netted $1,182.
Deacon Phillippe - heroic in his efforts in the series with five decisions and 44 innings pitched, still World Series records, was given a bonus and 10 shares of stock in the Pirates.
FLORIDA MARLINS Named after the large fish, found off the Florida coast and also a minor league AAA team, the Miami Marlins. It was H. Wayne Huizenga, Blockbuster Video founder and owner of the team, who chose the name. “I chose Marlin,” he said, “because the fish is a fierce fighter and an adversary that tests your mettle.”
FLYING DUTCHMAN Honus Wagner played for the Pittsburgh Pirates for 21 years, winning eight batting titles, collecting 3,430 hits, and establishing team records for most doubles, triples, and extra-base hits. He played every position except catcher, but he earned his fame as a shortstop. Of Dutch origin, he was a speedy base runner, leading the National League five times in stolen bases and recording a career total of 722 stolen bases. His speed and his Dutch heritage blended together to form his nickname, the Flying Dutchman.
FORDHAM FLASH Former New York Giant stalwart, Frankie Frisch, was all of that.
FORDHAM JOHHNY Ace former Yankee relief pitcher Johnny Murphy attended Fordham University in the Bronx.
FOUR HOUR MANAGER A negative slap at former Yankee manager Bucky Harris, who put his time in at the game and was finished.
THE FRESHEST MAN ON EARTH ("Clown Prince of Baseball of 19th Century Baseball" Arlie Latham played 17 fun-filled major league seasons beginning in 1880? He delighted in setting off firecrackers and lighting candles in the dugout – a signal to the umpire of impending darkness.
FRIDAY NIGHT MASSACRE On April 26, 1974, Yankees Fritz Peterson, Steve Kline, Fred Beene, Tom Buskey, and half the pitching staff were traded to Cleveland for Chris Chambliss, Dick Tidrow, and Ceil Upshaw.
Harvey Frommer is in his 34th consecutive year of writing sports books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 40 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM, an oral/narrative history (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) was published in 2008 as well as a reprint version of his classic "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball." Frommer's newest work CELEBRATING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION is next.
HARVEY FROMMER ON SPORTS (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.