You all know the movie, ‘The Natural.’ It’s now 24 years old, but Rick Ankiel of the Cardinals is the movie’s Robert Redford, aka Roy Hobbs. As a pitcher, Ankiel’s wildness too often resembled “Meat” in ‘Bull Durham.’ There were times when the batboy should have worn a mask and a chest protector. Ankiel pitched four seasons in St. Louis. He then transformed himself into a position player (outfield), and a very good one. 2007 was his first OF season for the Cards as he hit .285 with 11 homers and 39 rbi’s. To date this season he’s hitting for much more power with 22 homers already to go along with his .282 batting average and 59 rbi’s. And he has the very best outfield arm in baseball. Rick Ankiel is real-life’s Roy Hobbs. It’s a great story.
Story of the Week
THE POST-WAR ERA
My favorite MLB era was post-World War II through the '60s. This article does not include the '60s, but when I read it in Baseball Almanac, I couldn’t pass it up. No matter how young or old you are, if you’re a baseball fan, you’ll find it extremely interesting for two reasons; lots of facts from a great baseball period, and I didn’t write it, at least most of it.
02-19-1946. Danny Gardella is the first player to leave the major leagues to join the Mexican League.
04-18-1946. Jackie Robinson plays his first game in the International League.
05-28-1946. The Senators beat the Yankees 2-1 in the first Yankee Stadium night game.
05-30-1946. Bama Rowell is the first player at Ebbets Field to smash the Bulova clock, which becomes the inspiration for a scene in 'The Natural.'
06-09-1946. Mel Ott is the first manager to be thrown out of both games of a doubleheader.
07-14-1946. Lou Boudreau sets a major league mark and is the first player with five extra-base hits in one game.
07-14-1946. Lou Boudreau is the first manager to shift his players to the right to combat Ted Williams.
08-09-1946. For the first time in both leagues, all games are scheduled for play at night and each game is actually played (at night).
1947. Bill Voiselle, from a town named Ninety-Six (South Carolina), is the first player to wear his hometown name as a uniform number.
1947. Johnny Mize became the first player in history to hit 50 or more home runs and strikeout less than 50 times in a season.
04-15-1947. Jackie Robinson plays in his first major league game and is the first black player this century.
05-01-1947. Cleveland plays their first full season in Municipal Stadium.
06-13-1947. The first night game is played at Fenway Park and the Red Sox beat the White Sox, 5-3.
07-05-1947. Larry Doby is the first black American League player.
07-08-1947. Spec Shea is the first rookie pitcher to win an All-Star game.
07-08-1947. Schoolboy Rowe is the first player in an All-Star game, once from each league.
08-21-1947. The first Little League World Series is played.
08-26-1947. Dan Bankhead is the first black pitcher in the major leagues.
09-17-1947. Jackie Robinson is the first player named Rookie of the Year.
10-02-1947. Yogi Berra hits the first World Series pinch homer.
04-16-1948. The first televised game in Chicago occurs on WGN-TV.
06-15-1948. The first night game in Tigers' Briggs Stadium is played.
06-30-1948. Bob Lemon is the first American League pitcher to throw a no-hitter at night.
07-26-1948. The first showing of The Babe Ruth Story in New York premiers - Babe Ruth attends premier. (The actor who portrayed Ruth in the movie was William Bendix. As a kid, Bendix was the real-life batboy for the Yankees.)
08-13-1948. Satchel Paige pitched his first major league game and simultaneously earned his first major league shutout.
07-08-1949. The first time a black hitter and pitcher are matched up in a game: Hank Thompson versus Don Newcombe.
04-18-1950. The first opening day night game is played, and the Cardinals defeat the Pirates, 4-2.
04-18-1950. President Truman is the first President to throw two first pitches - one left handed and one right handed.
07-11-1950. The first All-Star game is broadcast on television.
08-11-1950. Joe DiMaggio is benched for the first time in his career after going four for thirty-eight.
08-19-1951. Eddie Gaedel is the first midget to play in a major league game. (Here’s to Bill Veeck, my favorite sports franchise owner of all time, then the owner of the St. Louis Browns. He was a wonderful man who sat with us in the bleachers during Browns games at the "magnificent" edifice known as Sportsman's Park. Bill Veeck made sure that I, a kid then, had plenty of hot dogs and cokes. I cost Mr. Veeck lots of money.)
10-01-1951. The first coast-to-coast televised game, and the Dodgers beat the Giants 3-1.
10-03-1951. The first uttering of Shot Heard Round the World occurs when Bobby Thomson hits a pennant winning home run.
10-09-1951. Gil McDougald is the first rookie to hit a grand slam in a World Series game.
11-18-1951. Chuck Connors is the first player to oppose the major league draft.
04-23-1952. Hoyt Wilhelm wins his first game and hits his first home run which will be the only home run he hits in 1,070 games.
09-29-1952. Stan Musial makes his first and last pitching appearance in relief.
01-21-1953. Joe DiMaggio is passed over by the Hall Of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
03-18-1953. After 77 years, the Braves move and play their first games in Milwaukee.
04-14-1953. Bill Bruton hits the first home run at Milwaukee's County Stadium.
04-29-1953. Joe Adcock is the first player to homer in the Polo Grounds over the centerfield wall.
08-23-1953. Phil Paine is the first ex-major league player to ever play in Japan.
09-06-1953. Roy Campanella sets the major league record by becoming the first catcher with thirty-eight single season home runs.
09-07-1953. Roy Campanella sets the major league record by becoming the first catcher with one-hundred twenty-five single season runs batted in.
11-17-1953. The Browns change their name and the first appearance of the modern Baltimore Orioles occurs.
03-29-1954. Phil Cavarretta is the first manager fired during spring training.
04-15-1954. Clint Courtney hits the first home run in Memorial Stadium
04-23-1954. Hank Aaron, the future all-time home run king, hits his first Major League home run.
05-02-1954. Stan Musial is the first player to hit five home runs on the same day in a doubleheader.
07-31-1954. Joe Adcock is the first and only player with eighteen total bases in one game.
1954. The first rule not permitting opposing teams to leave their gloves on the playing field is instituted.
04-12-1955 The Athletics play their first season in Kansas City.
04-14-1955. Elston Howard is the first black New York Yankee player.
09-05-1955. Sandy Koufax pitches his first game which is his first start, first win, and first shutout.
10-04-1955. Brooklyn Dodgers win their first World Championship and Sandy Amoros makes one of the most memorable defensive catches in World Series history. (That catch by Amoros is the greatest defensive play in World Series history. Without that play, the Dodgers conceivably would not have won the Series.)
04-28-1956. Frank Robinson, a 500 Home Runs Club member, hits his first major league home run.
1956. The first season in the major leagues without a single player-manager.
1956. Robin Roberts is the first pitcher to give up forty-six home runs in a single season.
04-18-1956. Ed Rommell is the first umpire to wear glasses in a regular season game.
05-30-1956. Mickey Mantle is almost the first major league player to hit a home run out of Yankee Stadium, missing by eighteen inches. (Josh Gibson accomplished this feat in a Negro League exhibition game years earlier. He’s the only player to have ever done it.)
10-08-1956. Don Larsen is the first pitcher to throw a perfect game in a World Series.
11-21-1956. The first Cy Young Award is given to Don Newcombe.
11-21-1956. Don Newcombe is the first player to win the Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards in the same season.
1957. Warren Spahn is the first southpaw to win a Cy Young Award.
01-04-1957. The Dodgers are the first team to purchase their own team airplane.
06-13-1957. Ted Williams is the first American League player to have two three-home run games in a single season.
08-17-1957. Richie Ashburn is the first batter to hit the same fan twice in the same at-bat with foul balls. (Improbable? The odds cannot be calculated.)
03-11-1958 The first rule requiring American League players to wear batting helmets appears
04-15-1958. The first game is played at Seals Stadium and the Giants defeat the Dodgers, 8-0.
06-02-1958. Brooks Robinson hits into his first triple play and will eventually set the major league record with four in a career.
09-13-1958. Warren Spahn is the first left-handed pitcher with nine twenty win seasons.
09-20-1958. The Orioles get their first no hitter in a rare start by Hoyt Wilhelm.
05-26-1959. Harvey Haddix is the first pitcher to throw twelve perfect innings, and then lose the game in the thirteenth.
07-21-1959. Pumpsie Green is the first black player on the Red Sox. (It took the Red Sox long enough; it was 12 years and three months after Jackie Robinson broke the line. It is clearly understandable as the accusations of Boston owner Tom Yawkey being a racist were valid.)
1960. Bill Veeck is the first owner to put players names on the back of their uniforms.
05-15-1960. Don Cardwell is the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter in his first start after being traded.
05-27-1960. Clint Courtney is the first catcher to use the knuckleball "big mitt"
10-13-1960. (Bill Mazeroski hit a walk-off homer for Pittsburgh in Game 7 of the World Series, thus beating the Yankees. Because of that one swing of the bat, Mazeroski and his lifetime .260 batting average were elected to the Hall of Fame in 2001. There is no way Mazeroski deserves that honor.)
Last Week’s Trivia
What’s the most hits a team can get in one inning without scoring a run? It’s six. The first batter singles and is thrown out stealing. The next batter singles and is also thrown out stealing. The next three batters all single to load the bases. The next batter hits a ball that hits one of the base runners in fair territory. The base runner is out, but the batter is credited with a hit. No runs, six hits, no errors.
Trivia Question of the Week
No trivia question this week. I suspect you'll agree that you have enough trivia in today’s Story of the Week.
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