Tag Archives: Baseball
Billy Williams was one of the best players in the National League in the 1960s and 1970s, but it’s possible many young fans have never heard his name. He was known as “Sweet Swingin’ Billy Williams” and “Sweet Swingin Billy from Whistler (Alabama, his hometown)” and was a fixture in Cubs and Athletics lineups from 1959-1976, eighteen full seasons. His numbers were very, very good – Williams was among the league leaders in on base percentage and slugging average, was top five in Most Valuable Player voting twice, won the 1961 Rookie of the Year, and – most impressively – played in 1,117 consecutive games, then a National League record (later broken by Dodgers 1B Steve Garvey). He was steady and productive for most of his 18 seasons, but teams he played for only made it to the postseason once; when Williams was 37, he played for the Oakland Athletics club that faced the “Impossible Dream” Boston Red Sox juggernaut in the 1975 American League Championship Series (they were swept in three straight games.) I think he’s a Hall of Famer, and I’m surprised it took him six elections to make it (he retired in 1976, and was finally elected to the Hall of Fame in 1987. There is a five-year waiting period for most Hall elections.)
Behold, the text of “Casey At the Bat”
The Outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that -
We’d put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat.
But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.
But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and the men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.
Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.
There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.
Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.
And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped-
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one,” the umpire said.
From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted someone on the stand;
And its likely they’d a-killed him had not Casey raised his hand.
With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike two.”
“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.
The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out.
Casey at the Bat
(“Phin is Ernest Thayer, the Harvard-educated “One-poem poet” who crafted that beautiful read.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. My twitter is @scotteiland
Former Brooklyn and LA Dodgers star Gil Hodges is this week’s “Is he a Hall of Famer?” subject Hodges is best known as the manager of the 1969 “Amazin” Mets and the best defensive first baseman of his era. Do his 370 homers plus his historical significance put him in the Hall of Fame? Answer the poll below:
I answer the following email:
I just reviewed your podcast on iTunes and wanted to write an email as well. I just love the new format and I am learning something new every show. You can never stop getting new nuggets of baseball information, even at 41 years old. I never even heard of Jimmy Wynn before until your podcast. I guess I need to brush up on my Astros history. So, I would like to request a player to be reviewed for consideration of the Hall of Fame on your show. I am an avid Chicago White Sox fan here is the Chicago area and would love to hear you discuss the candidacy of Harold Baines. Also, are there any clips of him ever speaking? I don’t even know what his voice sounds like. Does he even have a voice box? Just kidding of course. The soft-spoken Baines is probably my favorite Sox player of all time. I have fond memories of going to games as a child and chanting “HAROLD…HAROLD…HAROLD” and singing Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Hey Good Bye every time the opposing pitcher was removed from the game. I miss old Comiskey. Anyway, I don’t mean to banter on so if you could discuss Baines that would be great. I’m not sure if he is still on the ballot. Keep up the great work Scott. Another idea you could do when you are tired of discussing individual players could be to devote entire shows to great GAMES in the history of the game. That would be cool too. Thanks again for your hard work.
Phil in Tinley Park
It’s fair to say that the grind of following the happenings of a depressing Astros baseball season wore me down in 2012. On top of that, my spare time was consumed with a new venture – a foray into professional wrestling – that continues to dominate my time. So the stretch run, the collapse of the Texas Rangers, the flameout of the Yankees, and the consistently excellent pitching of the San Francisco Giants in 2012 never made it to my air.
But I still love baseball.
SO what do we do? I still have an audience that has probably given up on me, and a love and passion for the game of baseball that continues to this day. SO what do I do? And the answer hit me :
I need to create content that is independent of events, that may allude to them but that can be consumed any time. My show needs to focus on an area of the game that is being RUINED by the legacy media and people treating their Hall of Fame votes like garbage (turning in a blank ballot) or as if they’re the moral arbiters of history (refusing to vote for Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, or Roger Clemens because of PED usage)
Therefore, I am returning to a weekly schedule, and doing what I love: talking about baseball players of yesteryear and arguing for players I believe belong in the Hall of Fame. Each show will feature one player, and I’ll go through the stories of the player’s career, include audio clips where possible, and make my argument.
The writers and the curmudgeons are destroying the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown. I am relaunching the Baseball Experience podcast to combat this.
The biggest and most egregious miscarriage of justice in Hall of Fame history, in my opinion, is the exclusion of the all-time hits leader from the Hall of Fame. Let’s talk about Pete Rose.
1963 Rookie of the Year
An extremely rich man’s Tony Phillips; Rose played all three outfield positions, second base, third base, and first base.
All time hits leader (4256) leads also in games played, at bats,
Big Red Machine leader
led 1980 Phillies to first World Series win in franchise history
On the show, I make the argument that Pete Rose deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and his plaque can disclose the mistakes he made and the damage he almost caused the game by betting on it.