Friday, March 1, 2013

Going Through An Old Book-Baseball Back In The Day

The front page of the 1954-The Mutual Baseball Almanac 
I saw this is another blog-Linda Vernon Humor- and decided to try it. Since spring training is underway and I love baseball I decided to take a look at the 1954 Mutual Baseball Almanac from my collection and see how baseball was 60 seasons ago. The basics of the game are still the same but everything else has changed about it. Remember a couple of things 1) Jackie Robinson had just integrated the Majors seven years earlier. 2) A western road trip was in the AL-Chicago and Detroit and in the NL-Chicago and St.Louis. No teams on the West Coast, in Canada or in the South. 3) The Latin explosion of players was years away, also the game was way less international and 4) The top salary was about $100,000.

 Let's take a look at some pages:

The book had some cool sections on tips to watch the game from the different positions including umpires and managers:

Tips on Watching the Batter by HOFer Stan Musial
And some cool pics:

The Cleveland Indians Al Rosen (left) and Brooklyn's Jackie Robinson (right)
And the business of the game has really changed:

This page shows the expenses of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1952
The page above shows how the economics of the game have changed. The 1952 Dodgers spent about $1.1 million in player salaries and about $3.7 in major expenses on everything on the team. Fast forward to 2013 and a friend of my son's-Bud Norris of the Houston Astros- will make $3 million pitching this year.

The stadium layout of Griffith Stadium-home of the Washington Senators
The book contains stadium diagrams of all the parks in use like the one of Griffith Stadium above. You learn a couple of things- The stadiums had a lot smaller seating capacity than today, they were old and that they had weird dimensions-Griffith Stadium was 328ft down right field, but 405ft down left field-the same as straight away centerfield. The deepest part of the ballpark was was right center at 420ft. A lot of parks were like that, since they were built in neighborhoods and had to fit in the neighborhood that they were in.

One of the major difference's was the players records as most of the players had their careers interrupted by military service. Can you imagine any of today's stars having to miss time due to military service. A lot of players had served in WWII or Korea and the military draft was still going on. By looking at the 40-man rosters on each team, I noticed that 19 players (about 2.5%) on the 40-man had spent their 1953 seasons "In Service" including stars Willie Mays of the New York Giants and Don Newcome of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The greatest hitter that ever lived Ted Williams player record, notice that he spent the 1943, 1944 and 1945 in  U.S. Naval Aviation. Also the last two years 1952 and 1953 he had limited games due to being called up for the Korean War. Also at the very top it shows that he played for San Diego in the PCL. The San Diego Padres were part of the old Pacific Coast League.
The 1954 New York Giants listed 40-man roster, notice that Willie Mays spent the 1953 "In Service".One more thing to notice is that some players played for Minneapolis. At that time Minneapolis was known as the Minneapolis Millers and was the New York Giants top minor league team
Some other facts that I noticed:

- The oldest player on any 40-man roster was pitcher Alpha Brazle at 39 on the St.Louis Cardinals.
- There were ten teen-agers on the various 40-mans (including Hall of Famer Al Kaline at 19). With 18 being the youngest.
- That there were only 14 players born in Latin America. With Cuba leading the way with seven players.
- That only three others were born outside the United States-Scotland, Canada and Czechoslovakia.
- That there were four managers (out of 16) that became HOFers due their managing.
- That there were 31 future HOFers on the various 40-man rosters (including two-Tommy LaSorda and Dick Williams-both on the Brooklyn 40 man who became HOFers, not for playing but managing). Hank Aaron opened the season with the Milwaukee Braves but was not on the 40 man roster at press time
-Here is one I found funny. The editor of the book was a Brooklyn Dodger fan as the on the listing of the 40 man rosters he listed HOFer's Duke Snider (Edwin) and Pee Ree Reese (Harold) by their nicknames and hated the Yankees as he listed HOFer's Ed Ford (Whitey) and Larry Berra (Yogi) by their given names.

I loved the book and I seen it listed for $30.00 on various sites. Glad I got it for $.50.

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