Saturday, October 25, 2008

Babe Ruth's Called Shot

In The 10 Commandments of Baseball: Am Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life), our author, J.D. Thorne writes about Babe Ruth's famous "Called shot" during the 1932 World Series against the Chicago Cubs. J.D. contends in the book that Ruth did call the shot and that it had, in fact, been witnessed by the author's dad who was a young man at the time. If we look back at the scene, we know that the Cubs' dugout was badgering Ruth during the at bat and accounts suggest that Ruth was giving it right back to them. When Ruth had two strikes, he apparently held up two fingers to the Cubs dugout to suggest that two strikes was not three and that he had at least another swing. According to many sources,after flashing the two strikes sign to the Cubs, Ruth pointed toward center field as if to say and now boys the ball is going there. Then, bam! Ruth followed with a home run ...and the rest is history. Or is it?

Some baseball writers suggest that the newspapers made up the "called shot" and that Ruth was just waving his bat as countless other hitters have done on countless at bats. They suggest in fact that after the story of the "called shot" was published in the papers, Ruth said it was true just because it was too good a story to deny. Some suggest that the Babe was not adverse to exaggeration if it would increase the public sense of his importance. But what did Ruth himself actually say? Well there are probably many newspaper stories that quote Ruth on the legend, which can be found if one digs hard enough. There is also a book edited by John Carmichael of the old Chicago Daily News that discusses the "shot."

The book is called My Greatest Day in Baseball and it includes stories from 44 ball players as told to various writers. There are at least three editions of the book, the latest was published by the University of Nebraska which has a wonderful line of sports books.

In this book, Ruth states that he did call the shot, but not exactly the way the press reported it. According to Ruth, he took two strikes and he did hold up his fingers after each called strike. According to Ruth, after he held up his second finger on strike two: "Then's when I waved to the fence. No I didn't point to any spot, but as long as I called the first two strikes on myself, I hadda go through with it."

So according to the Babe, the legend is true. Babe goes on to suggest that it wasn't the smartest thing he had done in his life, but he was lucky that day as he had been many times throughout his career.

The 10 Commandments of Baseball is available from Sporting Chance Press.

Image is Babe Ruth from Library of Congress.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Joe McCarthy and the Chicago Cubs

McCarthy's .614 winning percentage as manager is the best of all. McCarthy led the Cubs from last place in 1925 to the Pennant in 1929. He was one of the best minor league managers before coming to the Cubs and the Cubs were happy to get him at the time. William Wrigley was working hard to establish one of the best baseball franchises and he wanted to see that the Cubs had the talent to take them to the top. The Cubs had Hack Wilson when they won the pennant in 1929. They played Connie Mack's formidable Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series. When behind 2 games to 1, the Cubs suffered one of the most painful losses in the franchise history. Playing in Philadelphia, the Athletics scored 10 runs in the seventh inning to stage one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.

The sun was exceptionally tough on the fielders that day and among many Cub misfortunes, Hack Wilson dropped two pop flies that he just couldn't see in that dreadful inning. Both were scored hits. After taking it on the chin that day, the Cubs lost 3 to 2 in game four although Cub pitcher, Pat Malone, had a shutout going into the ninth inning.

The Series loss was a bitter blow for Wrigley who was dedicated to seeing the team rise to the top. In one the most costly deals of the day, Wrigley had brought Rogers Hornsby to the club in 1929, but unfortunately, Hornsby was injured in 1930 and the Cubs did not repeat as pennant winners. In an ironic twist, it was Hornsby who got the call to manage the club after Wrigley released McCarthy. Unfortunately for the Cubs, Hornsby's management did not work out, but McCarthy went on to the Yankees where he established a historic winning tradition.

McCarthy and his baseball maxims are the subject of The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles of Success for Baseball (and Life) available from Sporting Chance Press.

1927 Cubs uniform shown above from Sports Collectors Daily.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe McCarthy's Rules

Most sports fans may never have heard of baseball's Joe McCarthy. Yet, McCarthy is one of the most influential managers in baseball history. He spent 20 years in the minor leagues as a player and manager. He never made it to the big leagues as a player, but managed the Chicago Cubs, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox in what some would describe as the Golden Era of baseball.

Joe McCarthy still holds the record for the winningest percentage of all MLB managers. He managed Hall of Famers such as Hack Wilson, Rogers Hornsby, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, and Ted Williams. He deserves much credit as one the chief architects of the Yankee dynasty. He managed against most of the greats in baseball history such as John McGraw and Connie Mack.

While managing in the minor leagues, McCarthy created a document called the 10 Commandments of baseball. It's a simple list of principles that may seem self-evident to those who were coached well as kids playing Little League. But it's a great list of rules that make sense in baseball and life.

Sporting Chance Press is a new publishing company and we have been working with an author who is a published attorney and lifelong baseball fan, J.D. Thorne. Our first book at Sporting Chance Press is The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life) by J.D. Thorne.

Top image is cover of The 10 Commandments of Baseball depicting Joe McCarthy. Lower photo depicts Babe Ruth with another legendary manager, John McGraw who was winding down his career as McCarthy was making a name for himself. Photo from Bain Collection, Library of Congress. Go here to order The 10 Commandments of Baseball.