Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A baseball "time tunnel"!


As you may remember, "The Time Tunnelwas a great TV show:
"While conducting an experiment in time travel, scientists Dr. Tony Newman and Dr. Douglas Phillips find themselves whisked from time period to time period, while their colleagues back in the present desperately struggle to retrieve the two men."
What about a baseball time tunnel? What if we could go back and watch a great moment in baseball history?


Let me start with Babe Ruth. In 1927, Ruth set the single season home run record. He hit 60 home runs. The Babe's record stood until Maris hit 61 in 1961. Babe Ruth saved the business of baseball after the 1919 World Series scandal. The Babe put fans in the seats! Again, he saved the game:



Lou Gehrig was Babe Ruth's teammate in the 1927 Yankees. Lou was one of the greatest players of all time. Unfortunately, he played in the Babe's shadow.

In 1939, Lou was forced out of baseball by an illness. He died soon after. Before his death, he gave a short but inspirational speech in Yankee Stadium:



Satchel Paige dominated the old Negro Leagues. He was a great pitcher. Who knows what Paige would have done in the majors? My guess is that he would have been one of the greatest pitchers of the 20th century:



Take me back to the 1941 season. From May to mid-July, Joe DiMaggio hit in 56 consecutive games, a streak that has not been matched since. Pete Rose had a 44-game streak in 1978. No one has come close. The streak finally ended in Cleveland.

Question: How can any human being hit in 56 straight games? The answer is that Joe was something special:



Ted Williams closed the 1941 season by hitting .406, the last major league player to reach that mark. George Brett hit .390 in 1980. No one has come close. Williams lost some of his prime years to World War II and Korea.



The Dodgers-Giants rivalry is one of the greatest in sports. In 1951, the Dodgers and Giants had a special playoff to settle the NL pennant. It came down to the bottom of the 9th. It was Ralph Branca vs Bobby Thompson:



In 1954, Willie Mays made the most famous catch in baseball history. How in the world did Mays catch up with this missile from Vic Wertz' bat? The answer is quick instincts and amazing ability:



The Braves left Milwaukee after the 1965 season. Therefore, I never had a chance to fall in love with the home team. Years later, my friend had me listen to the audio version of key moments in the team's history. The big moment was Henry Aaron clinching the 1957 pennant with a walk off home run. It must have been wonderful to be there:



A baseball time tunnel? Wouldn't that be nice?    The next best thing to a time tunnel is that great documentary by Ken Burns:



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