Let’s Replace the Word Half-inning: An Update

Nearly two years ago now, the BBB proposed a new word to replace the awkward and awful sounding “half-inning” forevermore.   At every utterance, it is preceded by hesitation as the speaker searches in vain for a better word to describe either the top or bottom of an inning.  And so, as required by the merciless doctrines, we submitted our carbon copied forms on time and in triplicate to the relevant nomenclatural authorities:  Baseball Lexicon’s (i) Steering Committee; (ii) Ways and Means Subcommittee; (iii) Holy Synod; and (iv) the Diocesan Grievance Review & Change Control Convocation.  Still, we await their response.

As you may recall, the BBB proposed the words “chad” or “wick” to replace half-inning, in honor of 19th-century baseball writer, Henry Chadwick.  Another suggestion was “leg”, because it was, and still is, used in one of the early British bat and ball games known as bat and trap.  The prior BBB post is here. You should read that before proceeding.

Well, roust the herald buglers from the chambermaids’ beds and polish their instruments for blowing, for we have uncovered new evidence in support of our proposal!  Retire to your mahogany library, scale the rolling wooden ladder to the second floor where your secret brandy flask is kept inside a tattered copy of The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract.  Turn to the chapter on the 1870s and you will find the following excerpt:


New Terms or Expressions:  During a tour of England in 1874, Henry Chadwick drew up a lexicon of the game for the benefit of the British writers.  It included such terms as assists, passed balls, balks, fungoes, grounders, pop-ups, double plays, overthrows, and whitewashed.  Other terms are not now in use, such as muffed balls, daisy cutters, and line balls (which, of course, became line drives).

So, there we have it.  Not only does Mr. Chadwick deserve for many other reasons to be immortalized within the lexicon, but he also served to develop said lexicon.  Bill James himself has declared it.  What more do you require, various and sundry committees!  Which ritualistic act of loyalty must we perform to earn your ecclesiastical decree?  If it pleases the committees, we are prepared to kill both heretics and hobos for this necessary end.  What say you now, good sirs and madams?  What say you!

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Let us explore terms and expressions whose names may not be familiar.  From Wikipedia:

fungo:  A fly ball hit for fielders to practice catching. It is not part of the game, but is accomplished by a batter tossing the ball a short distance up in the air and then batting it himself.

fungo bat:  A lightweight bat with a long, skinny barrel used to hit fungoes. It is not a legal or safe bat to use in a game or even in practice with a live pitcher, because it is too light.

A whitewash is an informal term in sport describing a game or series in which the losing person or team fails to score.

Taken from the free preview available at Google Books, The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, by Paul Dickson:

muff

Also from Dickson:

daisy

In the interest of due diligence, and realizing just before publishing this post that not doing so would be an act of complete jackassery, the BBB thought it wise to search this Dickson free preview for the words half-inning and inning also.  Maybe there we might find a previously conceived replacement for the word half-inning.

half

Nope, nothing of interest there.  Moving on…

In keeping with the comprehensive nature of Dickson’s 974-page baseball tome, which we realized we must purchase immediately if not sooner, and in fact did so, Dickson has not one, but two entries for inning:  one singular and the other plural.  For the purposes of this post, the most interesting aspects of the entries are the synonyms provided within the entry for the singular.  The plural entry is also provided below:

inning1

inning2

inningsinnings2

Hmm…, canto and chukker.  Those are distinct possibilities.  Well, having already committed ourselves to either chad or wick, or possibly leg, we must now set about the task of post-decision rationalization as it pertains to striking down these young up-and-comers, canto and chukker, which by virtue of being pleasing to the ear, are clearly the leading candidates to overthrow our previous proposal.

First, canto:

canto

No, this simply won’t do.  It seems like a stretch to borrow a term from long-form poetry and apply it to baseball.  Plus, epic poems?  TLDR.

Next:

chukker
This won’t do either.  We, the filthy repugnant masses, would not take kindly to an elitist polo incursion prancing atop the working-class ethos of baseball, even if, especially if, it arrived directed by dressage.  It’s a shame, though.  Chukker just sounds so good.

Although canto and chukker have not succeeded in overthrowing our previous proposal, further reflection on chad, wick, and leg leads us to admit that one is in fact the superior candidate.  Despite its bat and trap heritage, leg is too… anatomical, and chad is too strong a reminder of our state’s electoral embarrassment during the 2000 presidential election.

So, it is decided.  If we have slain a sufficient number of witches and hobos to satisfy the committees, and if it pleases the Baseball Lexicon, wick shall replace half-inning, forevermore.  Here’s to you, Henry.

Henry Chadwick, amply-bearded gentleman

Henry Chadwick

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Babe Ruth Recommends White Shellac

shellac

This document is part of the Schrader’s Little Cooperstown exhibit, currently on display at the St. Petersburg Museum of History.

front

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Matt Silverman’s New House and Coffee Pot Park

On Saturday mornings, late mornings really, the purveyor of this site wakes and delights in the vast stretch of free time laid out before him, before he must return to work again and suffer the awfulness therein again. He stumbles out of bed achingly, yet looking forward to the peacefulness and lack of productivity that accompanies prolonged sessions on the internet, and indulging every random curiosity, usually baseball-related.

This past Saturday morning found yours truly on a baseball website that shall remain nameless for reasons discussed soon enough. This particular post on this particular website briefly mentioned that Tampa Bay Rays President Matt Silverman recently purchased a mansion in the St. Petersburg area. This article linked to another article that went into almost exact detail as to the street name, distance from Tropicana Field, and prior owners of the home. Although this information is probably a matter of public record, and therefore within the bounds of journalistic propriety to release for public consumption, we here at the BBB feel Matt Silverman would probably rather not have his home address revealed to all of you out there on the internet.  Some of you are frightening.

However, knowing that we are of reasonably sound mind, the BBB, exercising its every random curiosity, endeavored to determine the exact house purchased by Mr. Silverman and we succeeded in that regard. Through a series of sequential calls placed by an informant to a series of public pay phones along Bayshore Boulevard, we were finally directed to a clandestine meeting with none other than Don Zimmer, waiting for us at a public park bench. He gave us the exact location. Don-Zimmer

As stated before, we are uncomfortable sharing that information with you unwashed cretins, but suffice it to say, Mr. Silverman lives somewhere in the vicinity of what is known to the locals as Coffeepot Bayou, as delightful a name given to a bucket of water as there ever was.

masonic lodge

So, where are we going with this? Well, readers of the last post will recall Baseball in Tampa Bay, by A.M. de Quesada. This book provides two photographs of particular interest to the topic at hand. One he describes as being of Coffee Pot Park, which he tells us was the spring training home of the St. Louis Browns in 1914, the Philadelphia Phillies from 1915 to 1918, and the Boston Braves from 1921 to 1937.

Coffeepot Park?

Coffeepot Park?

De Quesada describes the other photograph as being of Waterfront Park, which according to Charles Fountain in his book Under the March Sun, which we uncovered while Google-searching, was located more to the south, where 1st Avenue South meets the bay.

Waterfront Park?

Waterfront Park?

In fact, Fountain’s book states that the Boston Braves actually played at Waterfront Park, not Coffee Pot Park, when they began their Florida spring training era in 1922. We actually suspect both photos are of Waterfront Park, based on their similarity to each other and other images we’ve seen. But that’s really not the point of all of this. The point is that beginning in 1914, the era of spring training in St. Petersburg had begun and it began at Coffee Pot Park. Based on several sources, this fact is clear.

Knowing this, we began to wonder about Mr. Silverman’s new house and its proximity to Coffee Pot Bayou. Obviously, he is a baseball man. He might appreciate the history of this location and its seminal role in spring training.  So, we began to wonder, did Matt Silverman just buy a house on the very spot where spring training in St. Petersburg began in 1914?

We knew the location of the home, which is near the bayou depicted in the Google Maps image above. We also knew that there used to be an old ballpark located near Coffee Pot Bayou. But where exactly did the old ballpark used to be? De Quesada never mentioned that fact. At first glance, that Masonic Lodge on the bayou’s northwest corner seems like the likely spot. Look at that big open space of greenery and the bent land boundary adjacent to the water where an outfield wall could have been. That’s gotta be it, right?

Nope. The Masonic Lodge’s webpage, which details how it came to be, has no mention of it being on any hallowed ball park grounds.

OK, so where do we search next?

Wikipedia! And here, on its sacrosanct pages, where every single fact is 100% accurate, we find something helpful:

In 1965, Fred Lieb wrote that the park was located at First Street North and 22nd Avenue in the “Granada Terrace” section of the city.[4] In 1966, Ken Goldman also wrote that the address of the ballpark had been at “First Street North and 22nd Avenue” which by today’s map would place the park southwest of Coffee Pot Bayou.

All right, now we’re diggin’ where there’s taters. Back to Google Maps! Back to Google street view! First Street North and 22nd Avenue!

1st N and 22 AVE

street

But wait a minute… it’s just an ordinary house. And some trees and stuff. Where’s the old ballpark? Where’s the grandstand? Where’s the line of Ford Model Ts? At least give me one of those bronze historic landmark signs! C’mon, Google Maps, gimme something!

To make matters worse, this was not the location of Matt Silverman’s new home. Not even close. In fact, it was probably a 10-minute drive away.

Our disappointment notwithstanding, the search had been fruitful nonetheless. We discovered a new book to read, the previously mentioned Under the March Sun, which, by all accounts and online previews, appears to be a well-written wealth of information on the topic of spring training, which began humbly enough and is now big business.

So what’s the appeal of exploring these old parks? It’s silly to romanticize that time period and the games which took place there. Most players were probably just eager to get it over with and move on to the regular season when the games really mattered.  However, some probably had a fondness for the seasonal return of baseball in a place that was warm, even during the winter, where they could fish in the bayou between practices. Now, almost one hundred years later, it’s nice to ponder the beginning of it all, the early years of what became Major League Baseball as we know it, with its enormous stadiums, fervent fan bases, and legions of scouts and reporters and bloggers. It’s just kind of neat to think about that on a lazy Saturday morning in December.

Frank Menke, Charles Fountain, and the Evening Independent

As a follow-up to the last post, the BBB would like to share with you a couple of related tidbits.  While researching that post, we discovered a page from a 1914 edition of the Evening Independent, the sports page of which appears to have been the definitive source of information for all St. Petersburg residents regarding all four of the major sports – you know, baseball, boxing, motoring, and yachting.

banner

Well-heeled aristocrats could pick up a copy of the paper for three whole cents or two for five.  The contemptible poor, however, had no excuse for being ill-informed either, as they could easily just wait for a cloudy day, because on the next it would be free.  You see, in an effort to publicize St. Petersburg as The Sunshine City, copies were given away like the dole following overcast days.

The relevant articles are reproduced below.  In the left column is a description by Hearst Corporation’s nationally-syndicated sports writer, Frank Menke, of a game to take place at Coffee Pot Park in St. Petersburg. Please delight inMenke’s use of “slabman” as a synonym for pitcher.  In the right column is an hilarious account of a Cubs’ third “sacker” and his relationship to umpires and neckties.

Frank Menke

The BBB would also like to update the reader as to our progress with Under the March Sun, by Charles Fountain, also mentioned in the last post.  Not more than 17 e-pages in, we are now assured it will be a real pleasure.  Here is how Fountain describes pitcher fielding practice:

Fountain

Finally, the BBB would like to wish everyone a happy new year.  Even the Red Sox fans.

red sox belly

Does This Catcher’s Mask Make Me Look Fat?

yall lookin mighty pretty

I don’t know much about the inhabitants of Clearwater circa 1895.  However, I presume they were all continually stricken with typhoid fever and smallpox, old-timey diseases unknown to the modern ballplayer thanks to the healing powers of a Phiten necklace.  It’s got titanium, OK?  That’s science. Bespectacled men with Erlenmeyer flasks and sexy lady-scientists with rebellious hemlines have proven that titanium, when formed into a multicolored braided necklace, frightens away the demonic spirits and ill humors that cause disease.

cover Returning to the topic at hand, the image above, staring creepily at you from within this webpage, was taken from A.M. de Quesada’s Baseball in Tampa Bay, an exploration of baseball in and around Tampa, largely via historical photographs.  It is available for purchase here.  Quesada informs us, “Members of a Clearwater baseball team enjoy a day of ball games while wearing women’s clothing to amuse the crowd of spectators, c. 1895.  This was not an unusual practice by local teams, as other teams would perform similar stunts to attract crowds to the games.  (Courtesy of Pinellas County Historical Museum.)”

Although I have scarcely read but a single chapter of this otherwise delightful Nook book, I can tell you this particular picture is a hell of a thing, certainly fit for framing and hanging directly above your youngest child’s bassinette, so as to instill in him a love of the game and an absolute terror of the men who played it.  Look at that ghostly-eyed killer, second from the right in the back row; the ray of Florida sunshine second from the left in the back row; and of course, the pièce de résistance, the bloodcurdling catcher’s-mask-and-prairie-dress ensemble.  Yeesh!

The Chairman’s Box and Bell

Peter Bragan Sr. at Wolfson Park, 1984.  Florida Times-Union.

Peter Bragan Sr. at Wolfson Park, 1984. Florida Times-Union.

Peter Bragan Jr. (right) at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, 2012

Peter Bragan Jr. (right) at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, 2012

Peter Bragan Sr. owned a successful car dealership before purchasing the Jacksonville Suns in 1984.  Like all captains of industry, Senior had in his home a large bell which he used to signal the successful completion of an accomplishment, like impregnating a busty coquette or making a really good ham sandwich, for example.  Not content to sequester the Bell of Accomplishment from the masses who loved him, and whom he loved, Senior mounted the Bell of Accomplishment onto a lacquered yoke and in turn, mounted the yoke-and-bell assembly onto wheels so that it could be placed among the Jacksonville commonage.  And now, even after Senior’s passing, the bell can still be heard heralding every Suns’ home run and victory at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

1215

“Please do not sit in the Chairman’s Box.”  It shall remain empty.

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Ejection Video: Billy Gardner Jr., Montgomery Biscuits

Hello everyone!!!  Greetings from the American Workplace, where happiness is mandatory and important work gets done while everyone pretty much acts like an asshole.  Today we bring you the latest in Ejection Video, straight from the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.  The BBB staff of analysts, hangers on, groupies and what have you, requisitioned the company vehicle and, from the looks of its windshield upon arrival, used it like the Grim Reaper’s scythe, cutting a swath through Florida’s flying insect population en route to America’s largest city by landmass.

The city’s insurance comptroller may tell you the 2012 BBB Trip to Jacksonville is second only to the Great Fire of 1901 in terms of being a total loss, but we did manage to yield some value-added entertainment units for your stupefied consumption.  We will undoubtedly leverage said units for future profit and the glorious moral decay that accompanies stunning financial success.

Despite repeated requests from management, the official BBB videographer refuses to sit in the front row for fear of being hit by a fast owie baseball.  His flinching cowardice resulted in the following hazy, unfocused video of manager Billy Gardner, Jr. being ejected from a game between the Jacksonville Suns and the Montgomery Biscuits.  Yes, that’s right.  The team’s name is the Biscuits.  And the BBB videographer is under a performance review at this point.

It should be noted that our headquarters is somewhat centrally located in Florida and this was our first exposure to Double A baseball, where the games are so important three umpires are required.  We were also quite impressed with the exterior façade and the existence of a true upper deck at The Baseball Grounds, unlike the upper deck at Clearwater’s Bright House Field, which doesn’t extend all the way around home plate.

Anyway, in the shuddersome words of the Hilton and Kardashian business handlers, “Let’s see the video, sweetheart.”

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Collective Memories and First Impressions of Al Lang Stadium

Sometimes rummaging through YouTube can seem like a giant electronic flea market filled with too many odd things.  Things you don’t want, things you certainly don’t want to buy, things you wish you had never seen.  Then, if you’re lucky you might happen upon something wonderful, something unexpectedly pleasing, or something priceless.  The video below is one of those things.

About a year ago, I heard about several exhibition baseball games that were scheduled to be played in February and March of 2011 at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg.  I had heard about this baseball field many times, but had never been there.  They said it was old and no longer used for anything.  They said years ago it used to be the spring training home for one baseball team or another.  Then finally, its last tenant moved on to a modern baseball park for spring training and Al Lang Field was abandoned.   It was a shame, they said.  It’s so pretty there next to the water, with the bay view and the ocean breeze.

So, I decided to go see these games.  Before I entered the ballpark for the first time, I took a look around outside to see what the place was like.  Walking through the parking lot, I surprised myself by appreciating those noisy leaf blowers I usually hate so much.  I saw many puddles of collecting oak leaves, which gave the entrance a neglected feel, unlike the unnaturally clean entrance of newer ballparks.  I saw the many bronzed home plate-shaped plaques adorning the entrance and reminding visitors this had once been a special place.

To the left of the box office was some kind of an alcove, perhaps a service entrance, behind a metal fence which was closed shut.  Through the fence I saw a huge sign just sitting there, with the words “Minor League Baseball” written in that cursive baseball style used on so many teams’ jerseys.  On the sign there was an image of a batter in the follow-through of his swing.  At least that’s how I remember it.  I wish I had taken a picture.  I had my camera with me.  I don’t know why I didn’t.  I wondered where the sign used to hang and if any famous ball players had walked beneath it.  Some of those oak leaves formed a puddle around the sign too.

I showed my ticket to the usher and walked up the ramp to the concourse.  There was a sign commemorating former mayor Al Lang and his efforts to bring professional baseball to St. Petersburg.  He looked like a kind man.  Someone had carelessly blocked part of the sign with one of those portable trash bins on plastic wheels that janitors use to collect garbage.  It also seemed like the sign was designed to be backlit from within, but the light was not on for some reason.

On the concourse people were happy.  I overheard one man greet another and ask, “How you doin’?”  The other man responded, beer in hand, “I’m back at Al Lang watching baseball.  I’m doing great!”  He had a big, content smile.

I got my food and walked to my seat.  Its red color had faded from too many years of Florida sunshine.  Everyone was right about the view of the water.  It was beautiful.  Palm trees struggled against the strong winds.  In the distance, parked yachts awaited the return of their owners.  

A group of old men gathered in the infield for the national anthem.  They were dressed all in white.  I didn’t pay attention to the announcer as he described the group to which they belonged.  Maybe they were veterans, or former ball players.  I can’t remember.  I wish I could.  One of the old men took a harmonica out of his pocket and walked slowly to the microphone.  He played the national anthem and it was fantastic.  He went on through the whole song with that harmonica and I remember thinking this was his moment to shine, and he did, magnificently, until the very end when either his lungs or that harmonica failed him.  The missed note wailed sharply through the speakers briefly, but no one thought any less of him.  I hope he is there again this year.

Feb. 28, 2011 Canada vs. Seoul Nexen Heroes, Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg

Feb. 28, 2011 Canada vs. Seoul Nexen Heroes, Al Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg

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Half-inning

inning, walk, home run, hon run, 4-bagger, grand slam, grand salami, double play, triple play, dinger, tater, cutter, closer, sinker, heater, rubber, liner, soft-tosser, 2-seamer, 4-seamer, no-hitter, front door slider, back door slider, donut, chin music, pick off, shake off, walk off, tag up, choke up, changeup, pop up, pitch out, dugout, circle change, Bugs Bunny change, slurve, fork ball, palm ball, screw ball, curve ball, knuckle ball, spit ball, small ball, dead ball, live ball, fly ball, ground ball, moneyball, split-finger, balk, deec, strike zone, snow cone, bunt, swing-and-a-miss, box score, shortstop, backstop, sweet spot, bullpen, good eye, batter’s eye, seeing eye single, pillow, ernie, frozen rope, hose, wild card, blue, ump, slump, slump buster

The list above represents but a loose thread protruding from the rich, baccy-soiled tapestry that is the Baseball Lexicon.  A fundamental aspect of all these distinctive words and phrases is that, once we have agreed on their meaning, using them makes communication more efficient.  For example, saying or writing “snow cone catch” is preferable to “he caught the ball in such a manner as it protruded from the top of his glove”.  Therefore, this jargon not only adds to baseball’s charm, it serves a useful purpose.


This post furthers that purpose and represents my humble offering unto the Baseball Lexicon.  I tremble before it as I kneel on one knee, with head bowed and with hands outstretched and together.  On my hands rest two words, freshly conceived yet of inveterate origin, either one of which I propose should replace the uninspired and ponderous word “half-inning” forevermore.


Seventy-four years ago, the Veterans Committee of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum elected Henry Chadwick into their ranks.  Despite his regrettable limey upbringing playing cricket, or more likely as a rejection thereof, Mr. Chadwick contributed greatly to the gloriously American game of baseball.  He invented the box score, developed early statistical measures such as ERA and batting average, and popularized the game in the 1800s.

For his noble efforts, the amply-bearded Mr. Chadwick deserves to have his name perpetuated within the game and to be remembered thusly in reference to completion of three sixths of an American baseball inning.  I present to you examples of the proposed new word, so virulent in forthcoming popularity, they are italicized for your protection.

“Hey jackass, I can’t see the damn game!  Stay in your seat ’til the chad is over!”

“I know damn well this idiot manager isn’t leaving that pitcher in there to finish the chad.  He’s getting lit up!”

“Hey, after this chad is over I’m gonna go take a piss.  Watch my beer.”

Isn’t the monosyllabic “chad” preferable to the awkward and seldom-used trisyllabic “half-inning”?  In the entire history of baseball has no one previously thought of a substitute for this ungainly word?  Furthermore, we may use “chad” to refer to the top of an inning and “wick” to refer to its bottom.  However, we can address that later, once “chad” has swept away this oversight of Baseball Nation, as a mighty wind sweeps clear the shanty planks of poor construction.

Alternatively, we can just replace “half-inning” with “leg”, as the Brits used in bat and trap many pints ago, as evidenced here:

“The bowling side waits for the ball behind and between the posts and then hurls the ball back toward the trap to knock down a “wicket,” or flap of wood attached to the front of the trap and hinged at the bottom. If the bowler knocks down the wicket, then the batsman is “bowled out.” If a batter does not get out, then one run is scored. Once all members of a batting side are out, then the teams switch places. Each turn for a batting side to score is called a ‘leg’ and one game consists of the best of three legs.

So as to hasten its just and wise decision, I will stop myself here and take my leave of the Baseball Lexicon.  I thank it for its generous consideration of either of these two proposals, “chad” or “leg”, equal in worth and, I hope, profound in effect.

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Milwaukee Braves

SAM_0054

In June of 2010, I traveled to Atlanta to watch the Rays play the Braves, the longest running franchise in Major League Baseball history.  Inside the marvelous city of Atlanta resides delightful Turner Field, home stadium of the Braves.  Inside Turner Field, at aisle 134 in fact, resides the Ivan Allen Jr. Braves Museum & Hall of Fame.  Inside the Ivan Allen Jr. Braves Museum & Hall of Fame, and behind a medium-sized glass case to protect us, resides a program from the 1957 World Series.  On the cover of that thin program, propped up by cheap plastic clips, is smeared the disfigured and regrettable idea that a race of people, admired though they may be, can be used as mascots.  I do not know the artist’s name.

 

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