Baseball History That Didn’t Hit a Homerun

Comiskey,picHot dogs, popcorn and the crack of a bat hitting the baseball is an iconic image associated with summer. Many of us look forward to watching baseball games at the stadium or on TV. Though we are all too familiar with sports scandals today, almost one hundred years ago, the “Black Sox” scandal rocked America.

The name “Black Sox” may apply to team owner Charles Comiskey’s refusal to pay for the laundering of players’ uniforms when they got dirty. Eventually, he had their uniforms washed and deducted the cost from each player’s salary. Others insist that the name came about due to the World Series scandal of 1919, which blackened the name of the White Sox baseball team.

The 1919 World Series pitted the Cincinnati Reds against the Chicago White Sox. Chicago lost to the Reds, but eight Chicago players were accused of intentionally fixing the results and taking money from gamblers. At the time the Chicago team was divided into factions who rarely spoke to each other when not on the field. Players Eddie Collins, Ray Schalk, and Red Faber were considered strait-laced, clean team members. By September, 1920, rumors of a fix became widespread so a Grand Jury convened to investigate the charges. Eddie Cicotte and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson confessed to their part in the scandal. All together eight players and five gamblers were indicted. Shortly before the formal trial in June, 1921, some key pieces of evidence mysteriously disappeared. Among these were signed confessions of Cicotte and Jackson, who later recanted his involvement. The baseball players were acquitted. Perhaps Comiskey was not such a miser after all. He issued checks of $1500, the difference between the winners and losers share, to the ten players who were not a part of the scandal.

This scandal led to major changes in governing the sport of baseball. Kenesaw Mountain Landis was appointed the first Commissioner of Baseball. He placed the names of the eight indicted Sox players (Eddie Cicotte, Oscar Felsch, Arnold Gandil, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Fred McMullin, Charles Swede Risberg, George Buck Weaver, Claude “Lefty” Williams) on the ineligible list, banning them from any role in organized baseball. The White Sox team took a nosedive into seventh place. They would not see a pennant race again until 1936.Landis,commissioner, pic

Ironically, the following poem was published in the Philadelphia Bulletin before Game One of the Series on October 2, 1919.

Still it really doesn’t matter
After all who wins the flag.
Good clean sport is what we’re after
And we aim to make our brag
To each other or distant nation
Wherein shines the sporting sun
That of all our games gymnastic
Baseball is the cleanest one!

Get out there and play or enjoy watching a game of baseball, an iconic summertime pastime!

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Barbara Ann Mojica, Author
P.O. Box 112
Craryville, NY  12521-0112
Tel/Fax: 518-325-5199

Summer Recreation in Colonial Times

colonnialgames2It’s the “good old summer time” and most of us want to get outdoors to enjoy the warm weather. Many of us do not have the opportunity to work outdoors so we look forward to leisure time activities like swimming, picnicking, barbequing or just taking a long walk down a country lane.
If we could take a step back into colonial times, what would our leisure time look life? Recreation in colonial times was not all that different from what many adults do in leisure time today, but much lower key. All members of the family worked long hours in order to make for themselves many of the necessities we take for granted today. Recreation was synonymous with entertainment. It was also tied to socialization, making it possible to develop friendships and meet eligible mates.
One big difference in recreation in colonial times compared to modern times was that it was mainly for men. Two reasons account for this: most of events took place in taverns and clubs where women were not allowed, and women worked long hours in the home and were also busy attending to children. Women did participate in card games in private homes. Sometimes these were controlled activities intended for bringing together members of the opposite sex for match-making.
Recreation for men involved then popular spectator sports like baiting, boxing and cockfighting. A good number of these games involved a high degree of danger like knife and tomahawk throwing, running, and shooting. Healthier pursuits included walking, swimming and horse racing. Outdoor activities were considered necessary to promote good health. Of course there was no internet, TV or video games that could keep one in the house.
Card games achieved new heights of popularity in colonial times. The three most popular were Piquet and Euchre introduced by the French, and Whist a variation of modern day Bridge. Gambling was practiced widely by men and women, but it was hardly ever abused by the average citizen. Small bets might be placed on who would win the game, who would get the highest score in dice or who would win a board game like chess or dominoes. Most importantly, people did not compete seriously as is commonly done today. All of this was simply fun to escape the everyday chores like cooking, cleaning and farming. Neither was recreation done to stay healthy or remain thin. The sole motivation was enjoyment.colonialgames
Children and teens did not have the elaborate toys of today. Many children succumbed to illness. If a youngster made it to the age of fourteen, he was considered an adult. Younger children played stick ball, rolling hoops and ninepins, a variation of modern day bowling. Little girls entertained themselves with dolls made from corn husks or whittled from wood. Older young ladies practiced sewing with embroidery hoops. Group activities included hayrides, apple-picking and corn shucking contests. Some group recreational activities were used as a means to accomplish a task. Barn raising, butchering and quilting bees were a way for members of a community to pool their resources to get work finished and provide a social outlet at the same time.
Colonials really did mix work with pleasure. Families often spent free time indoors by telling stories and riddles. A lot of churchgoing involved social activities like picnics and dancing. The Puritans were the exception. They outlawed card games, dancing and public outdoor celebrations.
So whatever form of recreation you choose, get outdoors and celebrate during the warm summer weather. Follow the example of the colonials and spend some time with friends and family for no other reason than pure enjoyment!

Barbara Ann Mojica

Little Miss History

Literature Link – A Summer Read to Warm Up Your Winter.

Indian Summer

Written by Tracy Richardson


Twelve year old Marcie Horton is feeling good about finishing the last day of school, but at the same time is dreading the upcoming summer. While she has always enjoyed spending time at her grandparents’ home on Lake Pappakeechee, this year is different. None of her friends will be going.

Marcie is a talented and competitive athlete, but not one of the “popular girls” at school. Her discomfort is increased when the parents of one of these girls inform her that they have just built a huge house on the lake, and invite her to spend time at their home with their daughter, Kaitlyn.

As the summer unfolds, things get more and more complicated. Kaitlyn pushes Marcie to make decisions with which she is not comfortable. Her loyalties are torn between peer pressure and family. When Kaitlyn’s father plans a development that will threaten the existing lake environment, Marcie is again forced to choose. To make matters worse, strange visions are haunting Marcie. She feels as if she in living both in the past and present. An unexpected turn of events allows her to be drawn by some mystical force to make a miraculous discovery.

In some ways the plot is predictable, yet the characters are compelling and so well-drawn that I read the book in one sitting. This book hits on so many issues that face tweens and teens. A bit of magic, history, fantasy, coming of age, environmental issues, family, and loyalty all combine to make one entertaining story. With a page count of just over two hundred pages, it is a bit long for a middle grade read, but the book is a comfortable and easy read. Recommended for ages ten and above with lots of appeal for both boys and girls.
Barbara Mojica
Author of the Little Miss HISTORY series:
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to The STATUE of LIBERTY
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to FORD’S THEATER