Saturday, February 27, 2010

What's at 3rd Avenue & 3rd Street? A TrolleyRide; that's What

The Trolley takes us to South Slope, as it's beginning to be called. 
Normally it's called the Gowanas section, and before they built a highway through the neighborhood way back when, the neighborhood was still considered park of Red Hook.

3rd Ave & 1st Street ~ 4th Ave & 4th Street,
Brooklyn, N.Y.

(pic - 100 Years of Baseball, Beekman House)
Home of the Brooklyn Dodgers before  Ebbets Field was built;
Now, Then and the Debate

In 1898 the Dodgers played their first game here, in a newly constructed version of Washington Park.  The previous one was done-in by fire.  There are a lot of details I will be leaving out for the purposes of this post.  But you should know there were 3 versions of Washington Park at two locations diagonal from each other; hence the two different intersections I stated above.  The Dodgers played here till their last game in 1912 then moved in to Ebbets Field.  But this isn't about the Dodgers; not this time.  This is about teams that precede even the Dodgers....kinda.

Back on September 13, 2009 I attended 3 Baseball Games at today's NYC Washington Park (public park).

It was a 3 game round robin involving the Brooklyn Atlantics, Newark Eurekas and
the New York Gothams.

(click the pamphlets,  check out these rules.)

(pics-Brooklyn Dodgers by Mark Rucker)

Baseball's first true dynasty, the Brooklyn Atlantics Baseball Club 
Champions of the United States in 1864, 1865, 1866, 1868 and 1870
(as THEY claim ~ some of it is debatable)

..and not these NEW YORK GOTHAMS,

a team founded in 1852 playing out of Manhattan

NO, I'm talking about these Brooklyn Atlantics


..and these New York Gothams of 2009.


I'm talking about
the VBBA


Member of the Flemington BBC

These guys are regular me and you(s) who have a passion for baseball played the way it was played in the 1860's and 1870's.  They adhere to the day's rules and don't use gloves.  One of the rules worth mentioning is if you field a batted ball on one bounce, the batter is out.  The pitcher still pitched underhanded back then.  One of the greatest tools of the pitcher was being allowed to fake the runner and quick pitch the batter.  He was able to slow or fast pitch as he chose as long as it was an underhanded delivery.  I can't explain my joy watching these games play themselves out and witnessing the differences with today's game.

It was pure enjoyment but not just because of the game.  These were a collection of some very fine individuals.  They made so much time for me to just ask questions and photograph them.  There was a moment when I asked 4 players to come together for a pic.  One guy scattered, another whistled in the direction of the dugout and I turned around to see the whole team coming towards me with bats in hand for a complete team photo (the one you see above). No smiles!  No one smiled in photos in the late 1800's.  These guys had all the details covered. They really were such personable fellows too.  I am sorry that at this time I'm having trouble putting a name to the face in some of these pictures.  This file has been sitting in a Zip-File since November.  I'm sorry for that because I enjoyed the day so much.  I do not have WinZip software and I'm scared to death of downloading WinZip software from anywhere for fear of the dreaded Blue Screen of Death.

The Atlantics get in some practice.
The house in the background is
The Old Stone House.
It has been re-assembled here at Washington Park from it's original location,
using the same exact materials.
This was George Washington's headquarters during the Battles of Brooklyn. 
Hence, Washington Park.


The game is about to start.
Gothams vs. Atlantics


the Gotham Nine and the Atlantic Nine

(Shakespeare on the left)


I have no doubt about the Atlantic's 3rd baseman, Frank "Shakespeare" Van Zant.  I was sitting along 3rd base and was chatting it up with him all day long.  If I remember correctly he is an English professor.  Frank, please accept this belated expression of gratitude and can you share the sentiment with the team for me?  Ed "Pigtail" Elmore was the pitcher for the Atlantics this day.  Thank you all for " of the finest displays of skill and gamesmanship, in a gentlemanly manner of play."

PigTail makes a pitch.


The contest is over and they shake hands like gentlemen.


I kept score of the game based on an improvised system to accommodate the rule differences.  I don't expect you to understand it, but this is what it looked like.   This is the Atlantics side of the book.


Everything they do for the love of this game is an out of pocket expense.  Road trips and even the baseball they have specially made come out of their pockets.  I asked Shakespeare if I could have a ball.  He educated me how they operate and offered a ball for $25 to cover their expense.  Fuggedaboutit!!...You kiddin' me?!  It is one of my prized possessions today and the best $25 bucks I EVER spent!  Thanks again Frank!

One of my new prized possessions; an 1860's replica baseball marked
as the ol' Atlantics Base Ball Club marked all their awarded baseballs
before entering the storied display case.

The Newark Eurekas salute the Gothams before their game.

An unfortunate reality about the modern park may limit the teams appearances in Brooklyn.  These guys are taking real hacks and usually play on regular sized fields.  This day's contests were played in a modern city park where the right fielder and first baseman could whisper to each other. 
We'll see.  I would love to have them back.

Be well fellas! 
I hope to drive out to Smithtown, Long Island this summer
to take in another game of Vintage Baseball.
Thanks for all your friendliness.

Now let's take a few minutes to talk about Washington Park itself.  The park had been in use since the early 1880's.  The Dodgers, like I said didn't move in till 1898.  On December 31, 2009, an article appeared in the N.Y. Daily News that revisited an age long debate.  There is only one portion of wall that remains from Washington Park of the past.  It's the wall on 3rd Avenue, from 1st Street to 3rd Street.  The wall was definitely in place by 1914. 

The debate has always centered whether or not that wall existed when the Dodgers played there.  That would have to have the wall in place in 1912 or before.  If it is indeed proven this wall was in place prior to the Dodgers moving to Ebbets, obviously it raises concerns about it's preservation.  A few years back, the present owner of the lot, Con-Edison, raised eyebrows when they announced plans to demolish the wall.  Brooklyn baseball fans freaked out and Con-Ed has since been committed to it's preservation.  Naturally, I have the same interest level whether this wall can be dated to the Dodgers as any other Brooklyn Dodger enthusiast. 
But the wall is preservation worthy regardless as it was home to Brooklyn's Federal League team; the Brook-Feds, or as they became more commonly referred to as the Tip Tops.

(150 Years of Baseball.Beekman House)


The owner of the team was owner of the Brooklyn Tip Top Bread Company. 
If you didn't know, and I assume you do,
the Federal League was a rival to MLB and played the 1914-1915 seasons. 
Wrigley Field is a remnant of that League. 
It was built to house the Chicago team of the Federal League.

This is what the Brooklyn Tip Tops looked like. 
I took this picture at Yankee Stadium in 2008
when I  spotted this guy wearing a Tip Top Jersey. 
I asked him if I could snap a pic of it. 
I've never seen anyone with one before. 
I'm not making insinuations about the guy
but he didn't realize what the jersey represented. 
He thought it was another Dodger jersey. 
I politely informed him otherwise.

The following pictures show the wall in the background during these Federal League festivities.  There's a lot of significance to this site and I'd like for the city to get around to placing a commemoration of sort in honor of Washington Park, of which there currently is none.  What history that is being held- on to you can credit NYC Parks & Rec, and staff at The Old Stone House.  It's inexcusable the city isn't doing more.

Getting back to the wall, some cases are being made for the pre-1912 existence.  Most, to include the self-proclaimed Brooklyn resident historians, claim otherwise.  They don't believe it is so.

(Opening Day Festivities 1914)


This is the the interior view of the wall pictured at 3rd Ave and 1st Street.
All the cap stones are still in place making the wall very recognizable when you compare these pictures with today's remaining structure.



...that concludes today's TROLLEY RIDE to
Washington Park, Brooklyn


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Front Street

Fort Greene Park

SchoolYard HotStove Party Part 2 A.L. Teams

If ya wanna know why we are all gathered here in the school yard in the middle of February roasting hot dogs over a fire in an old oil drum talking about other fan's teams and drinkin a little Brandy to keep the toes missed my last post.  Shame on you!!  Grab a stick, poke a hot dog on the end of it and hold it over the fire.  While you do that you have to pick a team or teams that you yourself are not a fan of, and say three good things about them.  Before everything gets crazy when the season starts and we start to get narrowly focused on our clubs, I wanted everyone to come together and celebrate our great game of baseball together before those lines in the sand are drawn at the Umps behest of "PLAY BALL".  Follow my lead and don't forget to bring something to the party.  I got the fire going and winter dogs for everyone.  CRZ BLUE Emma brought some red pepper hummus and fresh oven pita bread AND some cider to go with or without the Brandy.  Get the idea?  A.L. or N.L.  It's all good.  I call it my first annual:

" Freezing February School Yard Hot Dogs, Brandy and Baseball Oil Drum BonFire for the Fans "

The Highlanders and Baltimore Orioles before that.
Greatest moment of my baseball life,
1976 ALCS Chris Chambliss HR game.  SICK!!
Thurman Munson & Billy Martin
The Core Four and Bernie
Good Bye ol Stadium, this Met fan will miss you.

Dave Stieb, George Bell and Exhibition Stadium
I know all the words to the Canadian National Anthem
Joe Carter's all-time WS moment.

I have to go at least two times a year, I love going to games there
 and hanging out in the harbor.  Rusty Scupper rocks!!
I always pitstop in Aberdeen to catch a New York Penn League game too.
EDDIE MURRAY!!! and that guy who used to cheerlead on top of the dugout at old Memorial Stadium.

My 2nd favorite team.  I love the city of Boston! Another 2x a year thing.
YAZ!!!  Luis Tiant, Fred Lynn, Fisk, Dewey
Words can not express how much I love Fenway Park
That guy hawking steak sandwiches over by Gate D is going to be left in my Will...those sandwiches are friggin unbelievable!!

Their owner is from Brooklyn
They come to the Bronx and give the Yankees fits all the time.
I really hope they get their stadium deal worked out because it looks like a really nice lookin design.
Chalk one up for the small market teams!

I met Kenny Williams in front or Oriole Park one game.  What a class guy!!  Without getting into the story..he just chilled with my family and me for a solid 10 minutes.  He seemed in no rush to go inside.
You may not like Ozzie Guillen but he's good for baseball!
I have no reason at all to think Big Hurt isn't one of the "good guys" on the 500 list!

CLEVELAND INDIANS on this year's wish list for a road trip.
Bob Feller is one of my most favorite pitchers of All-Time!!
I would have honestly liked to have seen one of those mid-90s teams win a WS.
Do you remember Steve Olin?  I do.  He closes out games for Team Eternity these days.

Some of my fondest memories of baseball were of the K.C. vs N.Y.Y rivalry in the late 70s.
AstroTurf days or not...that park was always nice with the fountains.
Dan Quisenberry, Amos Otis, Frank White
I was watching the Yankee game on TV when George Brett freaked out over the HR/OUT.

No one gives them enough speak to the fact they are the Washington Senators continued.  I see them as one of the old school franchises with the rich long history; a century plus years old franchise and
not another 60s run-away rebel.
  So in that case ..take this  BIG TRAIN !!!
As a young NY Mets prospect back in '82-'84, I couldn't stand Ron Gardenhire!!  Hated him almost.
He's one of the best managers in baseball today..Period!!  I hope that makes up for it Ron?
!! > Tony Oliva < !!

Trammel and Whitaker.  Jack Morris should be in HOF.
I miss Tiger Stadium!
Willie Horton on the streets of Detroit in his uniform trying to get people to stand down from their angers.
One of the most classic uniforms in all of baseball

Buddy Bell.  Went to old Arlington Stadium in 1987.
...and waking up one morning to see the front and back page of all the papers about
Nolan Ryan's 7th career no-hitter!!

all those "Swingin' A's" of the 70's!!! 
 All that talent was sprinkled around the league in the late 70s and most of the teams they wound up on became winners themselves.  Those A's could have won two more.  You can look it up!
BILLYBALL featuring Rickey Henderson.
I think Reggie Jackson's #9 Oakland jersey is in my top 3 all-time!

My personal favorite trio was the Edmonds-J.T. Snow-Salmon edition.
Gene Autry, late great owner!
Just in case anyone is wondering, they are going to turn 50 years old next year!  Yep.

The 1995 playoff vs the NY Yankees was one of the best playoff series Ever!
Edgar Martinez has a lifetime pass on the Trolley.
When baseball expanded in 1977 with this team and Toronto, I accepted this team quicker.  I thought Mariners was a cool name and "Neptune's" M was a cool logo. 
Alvin Davis and Ken Griffey Jr.

See the last post for the National League.  Grab a team or teams and triple up on the warmth we all have for baseball.  Before we all start to go out our friggin minds that is.  Don't forget to bring goodies to share.

Enjoy the fire everybody.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Party for my Friends in the SchoolYard

Before positional players show up to camp; before exhibition games start; before our clubs break camp; before Opening Day and our seasons start in earnest; before we all  become singularly focused on our favorite teams and players; before our rivalries set in; before we all draw that line in the sand when the Ump yells "PLAY BALL"!!....; Before all that takes place I want to invite everyone to my first annual:

" Freezing February School Yard
Hot Dogs, Brandy & Baseball
Oil Drum BonFire for the Fans "

Mike!?   What do we do at such a gathering? 
Answer: Say three things about a team other than your own and try to keep it nicey-nice.
Bring something too..I got the fire started up and have a nice long stick for everyone to roast up a good winter dog with.  I have the hot dogs and brandy so all you need to do is show up and we'll all have a nice party for our 30 teams we call MLB.  C'mon Let's be baseball pagans for a night.
It's my blog so I'll do the National League today.  Follow my lead.

Jerry Koosman!  Hall of Famer Mr. Met. 
Retire Kieth Hernandez' #17

Jeff Conine = the First.  I like their logo!  Sister lives there so I go to several Marlin games a year.

Good job with the Connie Mack Tribute outside the park.  Pat's cheese steaks are better than Geno's!
Tug McGraw getting the last strike to end 1980 WS.

"'s the pitch by Downing..." Hammerin Hank is still the HR King.
Original Boston Beaneaters, Chipper Jones can ride the Trolley anytime.

The running Presidents are some of the best mascots in baseball...I love those guys!!
Cool new park, went in 2009. 
1994 Expos, Andre Dawson, Ellis Valentine

went in 1991, an almost perfect baseball experience (does perfection exist?)
Ron Santo...Hey Hey!!

One of the best uniforms in all of baseball.  Ted Simmons!! 
Went in 1987...Ate myself silly at the Spaghetti Factory, is that still there?

Go all the way back to the Alleghenies BBC!  DAVE PARKER!!
Went in 2006.  The city, park, views and walking over the Roberto Clemente Bridge to go to the game and seeing all the statues including the Negro Leagues...Awesome!

Part of my 1991 road trip.  Old County Stadium was a great blast from the past ballpark.
Harvey's WallBangers!!  Cecil Cooper!

Went to Astrodome in 1987. 
 Those multi-color striped uniforms grew on me to the point I liked them.
Jose Cruz.

first openly professional baseball team 1869.
MLB should return the proper opening of the baseball season to Cincinnati's Opening Day.
Joe Morgan.

any park that let's you bring your dog is OK with me!  Not hanging your heads after games 4 and 5 in the 2001 WS and winning it all was pretty damn impressive.  Does Big Unit go in as a D-Back? Doubtful but he had great years there and a ring to show for it.  Should he?

Juan Marichal!! 
The Giants Win the Pennant!!, The Giants Win the Pennant!!, The Giants Win the Pennant!!
All that great NYC history  (eh hem...I said we'd be nicey nice)

I believe the swingin' Padre logo is one of the classics in baseball.
Ozzie Smith's autograph at Shea Stadium in 1980.
It's just a great name and throwback to the Pacific Coast League team.

(deep breath..)
Dodger Dogs and a beautiful park aging gracefully, becoming one of the games newer/older Gran' Dames.
..and that Oh So Rich Brooklyn History...(eh Hem!!)

Went to the first Rockies game ever vs Mets at Shea 1993.
Bichette, Castilla, Walker and Galaraga...ouch!
Congrats 2007 NL Champs


That's the way it's done folks.  Bundle up and grab a stick.  Before we all get carried away with ourselves this season, let's just chill as one big MLB family.  Don't forget to bring something.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Saturday, February 20, 2010

FRED SPEAKS!! (and I liked it)

The owner of the New York Metropolitans and often target of this blog was in Met Camp and spoke.

We have not heard directly from our majority owner in quite sometime; maybe a year give or take.
I, an admitted Fred Wilpon antagonist, heard what he had to say (and what he didn't say)..
...and it pleased me. Imagine that!
Omar Minaya & Fred Wilpon
(picture - New York Post)

Fred Wilpon was in camp which is not uncommon. Fred spoke with the media and through them, to us the fans, which I have never accused him of ignoring us. Quite the contrary, "he" "they" the "Mets" monitor what we say on the talk shows all the time. In Fred Wilpon's case I believe it's a little (a lot) paranoid. However, it is good business policy to do so and I do not begrudge him/them for doing so. They may have done so regardless, but we fans hold a belief that the Wilpons are a little paranoid about criticism anyway. An example of that is 2 seasons ago Fred/LiL Jeff banned newspapers from the clubhouse because he/they didn't want the players being brought down by negative columns and reporting.. Don't take my word for it. You can look it up.

Before I continue about what he said, which is the whole gist of this post, because I like what I heard...Yes I did - imagine that....Just wanna let you know Sandy Koufax was in Met camp too. Ordinarily I'd be taking cheap shots at Wilpon for something like this because of his transformation of the Mets into the B'klyn Dodgers.

Fred Wilpon went to Lafayette High School in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn; my neighborhood. Fred Wilpon was a pitcher for the high school team. The first baseman for that team was Sandy Koufax. Fred and Sandy are childhood friends. Sandy Koufax always comes to Met camp and having Sandy in camp can never be a bad thing. I just wish I could use this as ammo against Fred. But I can't...can I? Then I would just prove to everyone that I was just brainless (if you don't think that already). So that's why Sandy Koufax is always at Mets' spring camp for a few days. But I want you to keep that in mind as just a small fraction into the how, why, and to Met fan's frustration (a large segment of us), Fred's continuing efforts to delete Met history (exaggeration....put your fingers together..almost touching....take that much away from this little rant about Met history).... Moving on..

I'm summarizing the portions important to me regarding what Fred had to say yesterday. I paraphrase:

The off-season was torture...Very difficult to endure.
(Thank You Mr. Wilpon. Welcome to my world.)

...Expect no financial constraints on this team. There are no Madoff effects. "we will have the third highest payroll in baseball" (me - the truth is we will be about 5th behind NYY, BOS, CHiC, and I think PHILA. The Mets payroll will be in the neighborhood of $130Mill +/- in 2010).

He spoke about the Met's plans for inductions into the Mets Hall of Fame this August. I already stated my displeasure with our HOF situation in a previous post. I won't do it again here.

He said he wants the Met's fans to be comfortable in their own park and the team is making efforts towards addressing the lack of a Mets-centric atmosphere.

Fred Wilpon said he knows people want to love this team but things haven't gone to plan lately. He is very optimistic about the upcoming season. He believes the Mets have "some great players" but that it didn't translate to a great team. He wants that changed this year. He senses"a difference in the team's attitude than that of the media's", which is to say Fred believes the team is ready and he's "hopeful".

On the Medical Staff's current perception as being incompetent: ...."there's a process and procedures that should be looked at" but he maintains and firmly believes the Met's staff is one of the best. That is a claim that before the last two years was without denial. That's why at current, the recent gaffes by the Medical team and their string of misdiagnosis' is befuddling to us. That insight is all Fred offered when questioned about the Carlos Beltran series of events.

This is when Fred Wilpon started to get cryptic because the questioning was becoming more focused toward the weightier issues; Omar and Jerry Manual.

I am not saying he dodged any questions. He was getting the hometown treatment because the Q&A was the Met's own channel SNY-TV. The issues just weren't pressed upon him moving forward.

He would not address the status of Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel. To me THAT quiet spoke the loudest. Fred is not a dope. Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya are joined at the hip. If the Mets get off to a sloppy start, look for the Wilpons to make a move. That's the part that scares me. I've eluded to all those anxieties before. But the Wilpons it is my guess will make a move none-the-less. I believe the Mets record going into mid-May will go a long way towards determining both of their futures.

Fred Wilpon spoke and I am satisfied with what I heard. I have no want to criticize him today after speaking. I only desired he speak to us sooner than he has. Folks this is not to say that Junior...LiL Jeff isn't on the scene. He's a horse of another stable right now. I'm happy Papa Fred was on hand and in a speaking mood. I really am. And to show you I have a soft spot and I'm not all pitch-fork and torches with Fred, - as I listened, I heard it for the first discernible time, he's getting older. Yes, it's evident when you see him. He's aging well, but because like I said, we haven't heard from him in a little bit, his voice now matches the image.

Fred Wilpon is a Brooklynite from my own neighborhood. I like the idea my favorite hometown team is in the hands of a Brooklynite. No, I think it's rather special actually. Fred Wilpon came in as a partner with Nelson Doubleday to purchase the New York Metropolitans in 1980; 30 years ago. I was 13 years old. We're in this symbiotic relationship for a long time. Yea I have my issues with Fred. There's no hiding that right?
Mr. Wilpon is not cheap. He cares very much - He listens.
You have to love someone first in order to hate them.
Mr. Wilpon, I don't hate you. You're looking good.
Be well my friend.


In other Met developments:

Carlos Delgado, while no longer a Met, although I wished otherwise, is going for a second operation on his hip. The first one, not performed by the doctor who performed ARod's surgery, apparently didn't go well. Carlos was noticeably struggling in winter ball. That news kinda bummed me out.

Then this news hit me today like a piano falling out of the sky....

Jerry Manuel said,
"In the evolution of Jose Reyes as a hitter, batting third is the next logical step forward for him."

I have no particular want for Manuel to be fired. It's never really crossed my mind (YET). But I am not an active supporter of his. Does that make sense? I don't mind him - wouldn't be sorry to see him go.

If Jerry Manuel wants to bat Reyes third until Beltran comes back...that's fair. You can talk to me about that. If he feels Reyes is evolving into the logical 3rd spot hitter and this is his natural progression as a hitter, and 3rd is where he belongs....

I want him fired now!

It's too easy for me to really load-up and rain insults here. I'm just not entertaining that kinda talk. I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that. We heard it last year too. This isn't new. Manuel has talked like this before, last year he threw it out there. I'm not listening. I'm hoping Jerry gets fired before he ever gets to implement that plan. I'm not politicking to get him fired. That kinda talk and plan would constitute a fireable offense if you ask this Met fan.

Here's the question of the day.
Most people/Met/baseball fans won't admit this, and when I'm not suffering from moments of clarity
I wouldn't admit it either.....
Name me the best lead-off and two batter combos in baseball going into 2010.
I will say when healthy Reyes and Castillo are one of the best. What say you?

Reyes third?! Really? I'm open minded. I've digested it. I don't want anything to do with it. - Not if he's healthy and Reyes can run like Reyes.

...And Finally, in the never ending saga which is METropolis, Kelvim Escobar, whom Omar signed to a minor league contract, and was being eyed to be the 8th inning guy, has a sore arm. Can you imagine that?! At first the rumor was he couldn't even grip a ball.
The Mets only offered
"His spring training will progress very slowly".

...this just in over the radio.. -  The Mets just signed ROD BARAJAS, catcher.
I'm running to get my left over bottle rockets I have from the RYOTA IGARASHI signing
and light them in the yard.


Thanx OMAR!
Say Good Night Gracie!