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Did you know…
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has twice pulled pitchers who were perfect after seven innings: Rich Hill (blister problems) in 2016 and Clayton Kershaw (first start of season) in 2022 . . .
Hall of Famer Harold Baines had a successful heart/kidney transplant at Johns Hopkins . . .
Throw in deferred payments from the Nationals and Max Scherzer will make $58.3 million – $20 million more than anyone else – this year. Yes, the same guy who wanted more meal money.
The first AL / NL doubleheader occurred April 15, 1998 at New York’s Shea Stadium, with the Yankees beating the Anaheim Angels, 6-3, in the day game and the Mets topping the Chicago Cubs, 2-1, in the night game . . .
Newly-acquired Mets pitcher Chris Bassett worked the opener and home opener for the Oakland Athletics last season . . .
Angels manager Joe Maddon has twice ordered walks to hitters with the bases loaded: Joey Hamilton in 2008 and Corey Seager this year.
Women Played Pro Ball Before Kelsie Whitmore
By Bill Thompson
This past week Kelsie Whitmore made a pinch-running appearance for the Atlantic League’s (ALPB) Staten Island FerryHawks. Why this matters is because Whitmore is a woman who was signed by the FerryHawks to be a member of their pitching staff (the pinch-running is something you get from an athlete who is highly versatile.) Whitmore’s appearance prompted this tweet from the FerryHawks,
On the surface, it is a rather innocuous tweet. Celebrating Whitmore making her first appearance for the team and becoming a professional baseball player after a career of amateur baseball accomplishments isn’t anything to get riled up about. Why then, am I riled up about the tweet in question?
Dig a little deeper and you realize that no, her appearance in that game is not when Whitmore became a professional baseball player. She had previously appeared in 17 games across two seasons with the Sonoma Stompers of the now likely defunct Pacific Association (PACA).
PACA was a low-level unaffiliated minor league, the sort that uses public parks and high school fields for their games. Still, it was professional, Whitmore was paid for her efforts, and her results for that team go on her record as a professional baseball player.
To be clear, I don’t believe the tweet sent out by the FerryHawks social media person was meant to be anything more than a publicity grab for something that seemed to be worth exactly that. I don’t believe that the FerryHawks social media person hit the tweet button and was actively saying, “Screw those Stompers games, no one cares.”
But what makes me frustrated with the situation is it shows a continued level of ignorance by men’s leagues, general baseball historians, and most people associated with baseball when it comes to the history and accomplishments of women in baseball at a professional level.
I’m not going to detail all these accomplishments, but they are many and there are various avenues to easily know most of that history. From all-women professional leagues like the All-American Girl’s Professional Baseball League to Japan Women’s Baseball League or women playing professionally in men’s leagues like Mamie Johnson or Ila Borders, these documented events of women’s professional baseball are not hard to ferret out.
In the year 2022, there are books that have been published, websites like Baseball Reference that exist, and the ability to use the internet to conduct searches about women playing baseball professionally that will bear fruit rather easily.
Ignorance or laziness are the only two reasons why men’s leagues and the majority of those covering them or researching them continue to not bother to know the actual history of women in professional baseball.
This tweet about Whitmore’s professional debut isn't an isolated incident either.
Just a month ago another ALPB team, the Kentucky Wild Health Genomes drafted Alexis Hopkins, a woman, to be their bullpen catcher. There are a lot of issues with the way the league, teams, and media shared the news of the Genomes picking her.
Chief among those was the notion put forth in many a headline from all three of the aforementioned parties that she was the first woman ever drafted for a professional men’s league for an on the field role. It took all of one minute of a Google search to pull up the name Carey Schueler, who was drafted as a pitcher in 1993 by the Chicago White Sox.
It may seem like these incidents are small, and they appear that way on the surface. But, when tied to the much larger issue of the continued ignorance displayed by most of the known world towards women’s professional baseball, they became part of that much larger issue.
We owe the history of women’s professional baseball more attention than we have ever provided. At the bare minimum, we owe the women presently playing the game the willingness to do actual research into their accomplishments so that we’re not leaving out all that the women before them have done or what they themselves may have already done.
Kelsie Whitmore deserved better than that tweet and the history of women’s professional baseball deserves more than to continue to be ignored. Moving forward hopefully we can do that, but based on the fact that the FerryHawks ignored any responses to that tweet notifying them of their wrongness, I’m not holding out much hope.
Once Confined To Colorado, Humidors Have Become Universal
By Dan Schlossberg
The Minnesota Twins mark of 307 home runs in a single season could stand forever.
That’s because the humidor, a device designed to dry out baseballs, has become ubiquitous.
Once used solely by the Colorado Rockies in an attempt to counteract the atmospheric affects of Denver’s alpine air, the use of humidors is now as accepted as the brassiere — except that men are the main beneficiaries.
Broadcaster Jon Sciambi was the man who leaked the news, which teams have kept quiet because fans dig the long ball.
As a fan of the Atlanta Braves, I was wondering why so many hard-hit balls this season wound up in outfielders’ gloves rather than disappearing deep over the wall.
Atlanta announcers have blamed the cold April air. But it’s obviously more than that.
Even with their humidor, the Rockies remain the only team to have four 30-homer hitters twice. The team has trouble signing pitchers (see Mike Hampton for a recipe of disaster). And players who leave the Coors Field playground — even Hall of Famer Larry Walker — don’t do nearly as well in their new environs.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, whose high desert altitude ranks second only to the Mile High City, followed the Rockies in the evolution of the baseball humidor.
As for the aforementioned World Champions, Atlanta has the third-highest altitude in the majors and once had a stadium nicknamed “the Launching Pad.” Hank Aaron’s assault on Babe Ruth’s home run record might have stalled if the team had added a humidor instead of a teepee.
Now, however, Matt Olson’s quest to hit 40 home runs for the first time might just become a pipe-dream. Liberated from the massive, pitcher-friendly ballpark in Oakland, Olson seems to be battling an invisible enemy.
Yes, it’s early. So let’s wait and see how Ronald Acuña, Jr. fares when he returns from rehab on May 6 (incidentally, the birthday of both Willie Mays and this columnist).
The original intent of the humidor was to keep balls from drying out in places with low humidity (Atlanta is definitely NOT one of those). The contraption is widely considered successful in lessening the buoyancy of the baseball — but wouldn’t dry balls have the opposite effect in high-humidity ballparks?
The jury is still out.
Before the humidor became as universal as the designated hitter, teams that had it included the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Mariners, Astros, Rangers, Mets, Marlins, and Cardinals in addition to the Rockies and D’backs.
It will be interesting to watch the impact of the humidor as the weather warms — especially in parks that proved conducive to the home run in previous years. The eyes of the baseball world will be on Boston’s Green Monster, Houston’s Minute Maid Park, and especially the ridiculously-short right field porch at Yankee Stadium.
If I were a betting man — and baseball now accepts gambling though it keeps Pete Rose banned — I would bet against the humidor lasting longer than the Manfred Man, the automatic ghost runner of extra-innings infamy.
Maybe Colorado will keep it, and perhaps Arizona too, but teams would be better served by spending their money elsewhere. Giving their much-maligned PR guys a raise would be a great place to invest.
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has been covering baseball since 1969. His byline appears on forbes.com, Latino Sports, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Sports Collectors Digest, and elsewhere. E.mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ila Borders became the first woman to pitch in a men’s college baseball game on Feb. 15, 1994, when she threw a five-hitter for Southern California College en route to a professional debut with the St. Paul Saints of the Northern League three years later . .
It was a big deal when Roger Maris hit 61 homers in 1961 but there have been six better seasons since: Barry Bonds (73), Mark McGwire (70 ad 65), and Sammy Sosa (66, 64, and 63) . . .
When 29-year-old Dodgers shortstop Maury Wills stole 104 bases in 1962, that total was more than any other team’s (the top team after the Dodgers was the Washington Senators with 99) . . .
Michael Conforto made a major mistake when he rejected an $18.5 million qualifying offer from the Mets last fall and now finds himself unsigned and out for the year after shoulder surgery . . .
Cardinals ace Jack Flaherty spent 105 days on the IL in 2021 and opened the 2022 season on it...
Aaron Judge has spent more than 150 days on the IL since 2018 but was injury-free in 2021 except for a short stint on the Covid IL . . .
Houston third baseman Alex Bregman has missed 97 days in the past two seasons.
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HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Brian Harl [email@example.com] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [firstname.lastname@example.org] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [email@example.com] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.