TRIVIA – Who was the first black/African American player in Major League Baseball History?
On August 26, 1939 — At Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, NBC televises the first major league game in history on experimental station W2XBS, covering a doubleheader split in which the Cincinnati Reds win the first game, 5-2, and the Dodgers take the nightcap, 6-1. The network employs two cameras, one behind home plate, showing a wide view of the field, and the other on the third base line to capture the plays at first base. Legendary announcer Red Barber broadcasts the game.
Between the two games, a ceremony is held to honor Alexander Cartwright with a Hawaiian-themed celebration to mark the centennial anniversary of baseball.Regular programming did not yet exist, and very few people owned television sets–there were only about 400 in the New York area.
Not until 1946 did regular network broadcasting catch on in the United States, and only in the mid-1950s did television sets become more common in the American household. Just 3,000 people were able to enjoy the Reds-Dodgers game in 1939 from their homes, while last year’s World Series attracted 14 million viewers.
As for the games, in the night cap Hugh Casey pitched a gem in game 1 for the Dodgers allowing just 8 hits over 9 innings, and 1 unearned run. the Dodgers were up 6-0 after 3 and cruised to the 6-1 victory. More fans were in attendance than owned TV’s as 33,000+ were at Ebbets Field.
During the first game, Babe Phelps commits 2 errors in the 8th inning allowing 4 unearned runs to cross in the 8th inning of the Reds 5-2 win over the Dodgers. Bucky Walters got the win for the Red’s and went the distance, as Luke Hamlin was the hard knocks loser for the Dodgers.
The total time of the two games combined – 3 hours and seventeen minutes.
On August 27, 1946 —– At the Owners’ Meeting, a committee formed to study integration, which includes Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey, delivers its secretive report defending the covert color barrier which exists in professional baseball. The absurd reasons given why blacks shouldn’t be allowed to play in the big leagues include an absence of skills due to inferior training and lack of fundamentals as well as the need to respect existing Negro League contracts, but another lesser known motivation may have been profit, as revealed later in the report: “The Negro leagues rent their parks in many cities from clubs in Organized Baseball (and) Club owners in the major leagues are reluctant to give up revenues amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars every year” and the fear white fans would be driven away if black players attracted more minorities to the ballpark.
The Red Sox, became the last club to integrate despite the wealth of talent available to sign the club ultimately waited for Pumpsie Green and Earl Wilson, signed in 1953, to work their way through the farm system. Pumpsie Green, twelve years after Jackie Robinson’s rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers and two-and-a-half years after Robinson’s retirement. Robinson would later call Yawkey “one of the most bigoted guys in baseball”.
Red Sox inaction in this area cost them dearly on the field – as so many black stars entered the game in this period –and the taint of their delay haunted them for decades after.
August 28, 1945. A moment in American history takes place. Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey held his famous three-hour meeting with Jackie Robinson. It was the meeting in which Rickey attempted to incite the 26-year-old future Hall of Famer, which he succeeded in doing – although only verbally.
Rickey asked Robinson if he could face the racial animus that he would receive from fans and other players without taking the bait and reacting angrily – a concern, given Robinson’s prior run-ins with the law while attending Pasadena City College and while in the military.
Robinson angrily replied “Are you looking for a Negro who is afraid to fight back?” To which Rickey uttered the famous words that he needed a Negro player “with guts enough not to fight back,” and someone who could “turn the other cheek” to racial antagonism.
Robinson assured Rickey that he could do so and the Dodgers general manager agreed to sign him to a $600 a month contract (which would be the equivalent to $7,860 today).
Rickey insisted that Robinson tell no one of the agreement until a formal contract was signed (scheduled for November 1, 1945), but the signing actually took place a week earlier on October 25 and a public announcement was made that same day.
On August 29, 1980 — Known as “The Rat” The Cardinals promote manager Whitey Herzog to general manager, replacing John Claiborne, who was fired on August 18th. Red Schoendienst will serve as interim field manager, but on October 24th, the Cardinals will announce that Herzog will return as manager in 1981 while retaining his GM duties.
It turned out to be one of his best move in his GM Tenior, Herzog will lead St. Louis to 4 First place finishes, 3 World Series, and the 1982 World Series win over the Milwaukee Brewers and 2 7 game defeats – although there is famous blown call in there he should have had 2 World Series Titles.
Herzog’s style of play, based on the strategy of attrition, was nicknamed “Whiteyball” and concentrated on pitching, speed, and defense to win games rather than on home runs. Playing on a much different astro turf than is used today that featured a very fast surface and unpredictable bounces in stadiums that didn’t benefit homerun hitters.
With Herzog at the helm the Cardinal faithful had faith, except for the 1981 strike shortened year they never drew less than 2M fans from 1982 – 1990. Herzog’s last year. They had not had 2M fans from 1968 (there last World Series) thru 1981.
He will retire at age 58 from managing with 1,281 victories, he had spent 40 years as a player, coach, manager, and general manager.and Herzog will be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame and The St Louis Cardinal Hall of Fame in 2010.
On August 30, 1995 — Tiger teammates Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell tie an American League record by playing in their 1,914th game together, a 10 – 7 loss to the White Sox. The record was set by Kansas City’s George Brett and Frank White. They will finish with 1,918 game splayed together.
They were called up to the big leagues on the same day, Sept. 9, 1977. Each made his debut in the second game of a doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox.
They both singled off Reggie Cleveland for their first hits.
In the third inning, in his first big league at-bat, Trammell rapped a single against Reggie Cleveland.
The both had their last career hit off the same pitcher, Mike Fetters and
Trammell finishing with 2,365 hits vs Whitakers 2,367.
Even the smartest guys get it wrong sometimes as HOF Manager Sparky Anderson took over managing the Tigers, he called them lightweights and didn’t expect them to last long in the major leagues.
Trammell was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018, and said he would of rather waiting longer if he could have gone in with Whitaker. I am not sure if Whitaker, make it into Cooperstown through the MIT stats guys Whitaker has a better career WAR than Trammell, 75 to 70, and overall except for batting average Whitaker had better numbers and he does rank 13th all time in JAWs. Trammell also played in an era where shortstops were not offensive power houses. Robin Yount hit 29 hrs in 1982 and that was an astonishing number and very rare. Trammell very well could have been the 1987 MVP, won the WS MVP, and he had 2 other top 10 MVP appearances and he had an edge in All Star, Gold Gloves and more importantly as I did watch both players growing up I never felt Whitaker was the best in the game and I felt trammel was close to the top at short, in 1987 he defiantly was among the elite. If he gets in though I do hope they make an exception to put the plaques together.
August 31, 1990, the Houston Astros complete one amazing trade, acquiring minor league infielder Jeff Bagwell from the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Larry Andersen. The Red Sox initial offer of Triple-A third baseman Scott Cooper to get Larry Andersen from the Astros for the stretch run was rejected. Red Sox general manager Lou Gorman finally trades the Eastern League’s MVP Jeff Bagwell for the right-handed relief pitcher. The University of Hartford standout would go on to win the National League Rookie of the Year in 1991 and the National League MVP Award in ’94 and become one of the greatest players in Astros franchise history and be voted into the Hall of Fame in 2017. Despite some unfounded rumors.
Anderson was a key member of the Red Sox bullpen down the stretch and helped Boston capture the AL East Title in 1990.
Any criticism of this move by the Red Sox ignores the fact that the Red Sox had Mo Vaughn, a future MVP and first baseman in his own right, who became one of the top offensive players in team history. Had Vaughn not gotten injured he would have had a Hall of Fame case himself. Before his retirement he compared to – Paul Goldschmidt, who is building a Hall of Fame career, David Ortiz, Fred McGriff who should be in cooperstown and Jason Giambi who put up a near Cooperstown career. All this while losing a year to an injury and never recovering.
On September 1, 2010 — The Nationals announce Rob Dibble will no longer be employed as a TV analyst for the team’s games on MASN, the network that telecasts the Washington games. The former major league reliever, as a host on a Sirius XM Radio show, severely chastises Stephen Strasburg for not pitching through pain, before the rookie phenom is diagnosed with a torn elbow ligament.
The injury required Tommy John surgery and a year of rehabilitation. He rejoined the Nationals on September 6, 2011.
“This is the major leagues. This is not college any more. You’re not on scholarship. You’re being paid to do the job and guys depend on you, and I think it’s unfortunate that the Nationals and the team are in a situation here where this kid now, he feels any kind of arm pain, he’s gonna call you out?… You give these guys (today’s players) $15 million bucks, please. Get your butt out there and play every fifth day.” – ROB DIBBLE, comments as a Sirius XM Radio show host. Dibble continued to say he should have pitched through the injury.
Earlier in the year While broadcasting a game in August 2010, Dibble drew negative attention for focusing on a group of female spectators in the Nationals crowd, and questioning their focus on the game. He later apologized for the comments.
Dibble recorded his 500th career strikeout in fewer innings—368—than any other pitcher in modern baseball history up to that point (a record that is currently held by Craig Kimbrel). However he was openly critical of the over use he experienced under his manager at the time, Pete Rose.
Which makes his comments interesting.
That is it for todays show. Now just a few things before I sign off, remember to check the show notes we have links to players, dates, videos and more.
If you want to share your story, go onto to thisdayinbaseball.com/fan-story
Have a great week and I hope to see you at the ball park.