May 14, 2007

Did the wrong team leave town?: Eric Wilbur included a link to this gem from the Boston Phoenix in his Boston Globe blog this morning (5/14). It is a lengthy read, but is one that any Braves fan, regardless of city, will find worth the time. There were a number of "I didn't know that" moments, even for this old Boston Braves fan.

posted by Howard_T to baseball at 09:48 AM - 17 comments

Great post, Howard. I read this article last week and found it profoundly interesting. I'm sure many Red Sox fans would be surprised to learn that the Braves started the Jimmy Fund, not the Sox. The contrast in the two teams' styles - the Red Sox playing for the homer to right and the double off the wall, the Braves relying on a prototypical smallball offense - is almost as startling as the gulf between their stances on racial integration. (Of course, the Red Sox' attitudes in both regards were a big part of their long championship drought.) Overall, it's a fascinating story. Imagine what baseball in New England would be like if we still had two Boston teams today.

posted by Venicemenace at 11:34 AM on May 14, 2007

Imagine what baseball in New England would be like if we still had two Boston teams today. It's odd to think about-- I'd probably be a Braves fan because my grandparents were Braves fans and my dad was one until about the age of 10 when the Braves split. Huh.

posted by Mayor Curley at 12:25 PM on May 14, 2007

If the braves had never left Boston than maybe Ruth wouldn't have been sold to the Yankees and the two teams in Boston would have started a bigger rivalry than between the Yankees and Red Sox....Something to think about at least. What IF a real big question here. Aaron, Matthews, Adcock, Spahn, Burdette and the list goes on and on. Anybody remember where the Braves played in Boston? Maybe Venice you should tell everyone what the Jimmy Fund is. I am sure a lot of people that read these comments really don't know. Still a lot to talk about. The Braves have won a lot of championships since moving and just look at the number of titles they have won in the last 20 years in Atlanta.....God can you see Turner running around Boston like you use to do in Atlanta?

posted by The Old Man at 12:47 PM on May 14, 2007

Its funny I have always been a diehard Red Sox fan and at first I was offended at the mere suggestion that I could ever be a fan of another team. But I must say that I have always been drawn to the National league brand of ball (small ball, no dh that sort of thing) and I have got to admit there is a good chance that I would be a Braves fan if they had never left New England. The funny thing for me is I buy one ball cap every year based on two rules 1. Never a team that I root for (ie Red Sox or Pats) and 2. Never a rival or division opponent of a team that I root for (ie Yankees, Buffalo Bills whatever). Its dorky superstition but let me tell you the Sox have won the World Series and the Pats have three Super Bowls so I am not changing a thing. Anyway this year's hat is the 1940 Boston Braves (Cooperstown Collection)

posted by kyrilmitch_76 at 02:00 PM on May 14, 2007

That was a fantastic article. Good find Howard_T. It made me like the Braves a little bit.

posted by apoch at 02:30 PM on May 14, 2007

Good article, good story, but being a Phillies phan I must boo all things Brave. Damn those Jones bros.!! What the hell was the Jimmy fund again?

posted by GoBirds at 05:05 PM on May 14, 2007

Being a Phillies I fan, I wonder if maybe the A's should have stuck around...

posted by SummersEve at 06:32 PM on May 14, 2007

The Jimmy Fund.

posted by Venicemenace at 07:06 PM on May 14, 2007

The Braves' "small ball" style of play was dictated by the park they played in. Braves Field was huge, as you might be able to tell from this very informative site. In addition to Nickerson Field, where Boston University played football, and the home of the Patriots in their first year, there were also at least 2 dormitories erected on the grounds. I believe that if Aaron had played his entire career in Braves Field, he would not have gotten close to The Babe, let alone passed him. For the baseball purist, the Braves style was definitely to be preferred to that of the Red Sox. My memories of the Braves are dimmed somewhat by time, but I still have many. First of all, there was a time when my Mom was out of the house for a period of time. I don't remember why, but my oldest sister, then in high school, would pick me up after school and take me out to Braves Field. The thing that was best about the park to me was that the Boston and Albany tracks ran just outside the left field seats. I would stand at the back wall and watch the trains. After a while I started to appreciate the game. I very well remember Spahn and Sain and 2 days of rain. Tommy Holmes was on the team. The infield was Earl Torgerson, Eddie Stanky, Alvin Dark, and Bob Elliot. The outfield consisted of Holmes, Andy Pafko, and Vince DiMaggio. For the life of me, I cannot remember the catcher. I also remember the electricity generated whenever Sam Jethro reached first base. You knew he would run at the first opportunity, and whenever he started, the crowd would yell "there he goes". It was a fun time. The Braves were my team, and I really never forgave them for leaving. I really never became the diehard Sox fan that I am now until the '67 season, preferring to follow the Braves from afar.

posted by Howard_T at 09:06 PM on May 14, 2007

Those days in Boston are still commemorated in Turner Field, with references to those early pennants and world series triumphs noted at various places in the stadium (mostly the outfield bar). This is why Boston and Atlanta are one another assigned cross-league rival. If the Braves had stayed, the Hammer and the Splinter would be co-deities in Boston.

posted by trox at 09:58 PM on May 14, 2007

Howard T, I agree with your statement if the Braves had stayed in Boston Aaron wouldn't have passed Ruth. It took him over 6000 more atbats to hit the 715 and he played in hitter friendly fields without a lot of doctored up balls and with baseballs that some say were doctored to make them go farther. Remember at that crap when they changed the baseball makers. My little brother, now in his 80 has been a Braves fan since I don't know when and even he agrees that when the Braves moved out of Boston it changed a lot of things in the mix. Just think if the Dodgers hadn't moved out of Brooklyn were would baseball be today. The O'Malleys caused a lot of change in baseball from there move to there beginning of free agency

posted by The Old Man at 12:23 PM on May 15, 2007

Howard T, How many homeruns would Ruth had hit if he had stayed in Boston. I would think you could add on at least a 100 or more.

posted by The Old Man at 12:40 PM on May 15, 2007

I would think you could add on at least a 100 or more Old Man, I have to disagree. I think Ruth might have had perhaps 50 or so fewer home runs had he played his career in Fenway Park. First of all, the bullpens were not added in front of the right field seats until the late 30s or early 40s (I think). As a matter of fact, the bullpens were called "Williamsburg" because the suspicion was that they had been added for Ted Williams. Thus, Ruth would have been hitting to a much deeper right field in Fenway than in Yankee stadium. Secondly, early in the season, the "on shore wind" will frequently start blowing in the afternoon. this is caused by warm air rising over the land, moving out over the cold ocean, and then descending. It starts a wind that blows directly in off the Atlantic. In Fenway's case, the wind is out of the east, straight in from right field. These 2 factors made Fenway somewhat of a challenge for a left-handed power hitter. On the other hand, left-handed hitters who can move the ball the opposite way (think Wade Boggs) absolutely love Fenway. Thus, Ruth in Fenway would not have done as well as Ruth in Yankee Stadium. That park was made for him; it should be called "The House that Built Ruth". I digress here, but one of the more interesting conjectures is what might have happened if Ted Williams and Joe Dimaggio had been traded for each other. Williams would have ripped many home runs into the friendly right field porch in Yankee Stadium, while Dimaggio would have left a lot of marks on (and over) the Green Monster.

posted by Howard_T at 11:20 PM on May 15, 2007

On review, I just checked, and the bullpens were moved to their present location in 1940.

posted by Howard_T at 05:22 AM on May 16, 2007

Howard, if you saw Ruth hit the baseball you would agree completely with me. Believe me I got to see a lot of his homeruns and all this crap about Yankee Stadium because of the short fence is just that crap. George Herman Ruth never hit a cheap homerun in his life. The tape measure homerun was what the Babe started and believe me finished until Mickey hit a few. Longest homerun I can remember was two by Frank Howard of the Dodgers. One was against the Phillies Jim, can't remember last name, that landed so far out in the parking lot that people who witnessed it are still talking about it and the other in the world series against Whitney Ford that landed in the third deck of Dodger Stadium and if the deck hadn't had been there it would have been the first homerun hitten out of Dodger Stadium not the one Willie Stargell hit years later.. And don't forget that Williams hit 521 in Fenway as a lefthander so the idea that Ruth wouldn't have hit more doesn't to me hold any soap. Williams hit line drives like Ruth and the porch in Fenway is a fair piece. And the stupid wall would have allowed Ruth to get go to the opposite field more often. Ruth was one of the greatest hitters, not just homeruns, of his or any era. HR per atbats is so low that at times it is still unbelieveabled and his 342 batting average over his entire career says it all. Miller Huggins tried for years to get him to cut down on his swing and go the opposite way but the Babe wasn't going to do anything but what the fans expected him to do and that was plain and simple HIT HOMERUNS..... I think what everyone has to remember is there isn't a player today that hits even close to the way Ruth, Gehrig, Hornsby, Cobb, Williams, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Gibson, and many others did. In the era that was extremely harder to hit than todays' waterdown talent leagues. In 1924 Ruth hit 378, scored 143 runs, 46 HRS, 128 RBI's show me anyone today that puts lup these types of numbers against the talented pitching he hit against and 1924. The opposing pitchers were Walter Johnson 23-7 2.79era, Lefty Grove, Stan Coveleski, Urban Shocker,Red Faber just to name a few. Today talent as good as they are certainly ain't in the same league as the staffs that Ruth had to face and the way they pitched to him. Now look at the stats for the Old Yankee Stadium and the dimensions that it is said only favored left hand hitters. If it was such a great hit hand hitters park then why didn't Ruth hit 70 or 80 homers a year. Why is easy and very simple to explain. Look at the power zones to left & right center and the dimensions zoom out to a extremely large area and in center field it was 489 or something. Homerun hitters park it wasn't and the only time a left hander had an advantage was when he hit it down the lines, which is something Babe Ruth wasn't noted for in his entire career. We can discuss this question of Fenway vs Yankee Stadium until the cows come in but bottom line here is both park only favor a deadpull header which neither Babe Ruth or Ted Williams or Joe DiMaggio was. Having watched all three of these hitters play DiMaggio was smooth but didn't have the power of either Ruth or Williams and Williiams although had a lot more power than the writers have ever given him credit for , wasn't in the class of Ruth. Ruth could hit a baseball further more often than any player in history, but Williams hit the ball more often but .002 percentage points isn't that much difference. Williams 344 to Ruth's 342 521 to 714 either was in a league of there own...

posted by The Old Man at 03:01 PM on May 17, 2007

Old Man, I agree with all of the above except the analysis of Ruth vs Fenway. I'm not going to try to defend it, because it just isn't possible for either of us to prove his point to the other. I mean this in the most friendly manner. Honest disagreement is what makes horse racing. Maybe someday you and I will have season tickets to that great park in the sky. We'll be able to figure it out once and for all while watching all of the greats and sipping a few beers. That's my idea of heaven, anyway. I'm not old enough to remember any of the greats prior to Williams and DiMaggio, but my Dad would go on and on about them. Through his tales, I almost felt that I had seen them all. This started out as a Braves Field nostalgia piece, and somehow segued into a Ruth, Williams, and any of the "old timers" worth mentioning memorial. That's not all bad. To me, it's a lot of fun to remember some of those guys and to compare the eras of then, and back then, and way back then, and now. Maybe there'll be a better thread to start that discussion anew.

posted by Howard_T at 10:33 PM on May 17, 2007

I think what everyone has to remember is there isn't a player today that hits even close to the way Ruth, Gehrig, Hornsby, Cobb, Williams, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Gibson, and many others did. In the era that was extremely harder to hit than todays' waterdown talent leagues. I'll disagree. Athletes today are in better shape and have better training regimens than ever before. Ruth etc. didn't have to worry about hispanic, black, or asian pitchers. They also didn't face 100 mile per hour relievers in the 9th inning. There's nothing special about athletes that competed in the first half of the century that makes them better. Bonds would have fit in just as well in 1930 as 1999, except for the being allowed to play part, of course.

posted by justgary at 10:50 PM on May 17, 2007

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