Luscious Luke. 1945 Oakland Oaks. Jackie in 1951. Gibson in Venezuela. Jimmie Reese.
A great action shot of Baseball being played at old Lane Field in San Diego. Although I could be wrong, I believe that is legendary MLB/PCL/Negro League star Luke Easter at the plate. I can’t be sure though due to the fact that I can not verify what jersey number(s) Luscious Luke wore during his stints with the Padres in 1949 & 1954. This is the type of the stuff that keeps me up at night.
(UPDATE: PCL Historian and overall good guy Bill Swank verified for me that this is indeed Luke Easter at bat. Lucious Luke wore #33 in 1954. Thanks Bill!)
I recently found someone selling this awesome photo on eBay of the 1945 Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League. I would have considered bidding on it if it was a Oaks team photo from 1947 to 1948 as Baseball legends Billy Martin and Casey Stengel would be featured. Unfortunately I am not very familiar with any players on the 1945 Oaks team which is a little odd as I am pretty familiar with at least some players on most PCL rosters from 1936 to 1958 or so.
On a somewhat related note, I am currently bidding on THIS 1940 Oakland Oaks cap on eBay. As soon as I saw this Ebbets Field Flannels cap I knew I had to have it. It shall be mine and anyone who gets in my way is asking for trouble.
This is one of my favorite Baseball photos of all time. It captures The New York Giants celebrating at home plate while Ralph Branca and Jackie Robinson both deal with the heartbreaking loss after Bobby Thompson’s famous “Shot Heard ‘Round The World.” Jackie looking on (probably in shock) while Branca walks away refusing to look at the celebration is almost enough to bring on a gut wrenching feeling if you imagine yourself being on the Brooklyn side of this game. Especially if you factor in that the Giants were cheating by stealing signs.
No matter who you rooted for in this game, you had to feel bad for Branca after giving up the home run. It’s always been said that Branca was “never the same” after this game. This is true but for far different reasons than people assume or imply. The actual reason why Branca was never the same Pitcher after 1951 (which is conveniently never brought up) is that he seriously injured his back the following Spring Training which ended up effecting his career in the long run.
It’s kind of funny how certain stories and legends get fabricated over time in Baseball circles just to make an interesting story.
This is one of those Baseball photos that I often speak of which almost literally makes my mouth water when I discover them. Here we have Negro League star Josh Gibson in 1940 during his time with the Maricaibo Centauros team of the Venezuelan Baseball League. I wish I knew who that is standing next to Josh, I assume it was another American Negro League player playing Winter Baseball but I could be wrong.
The fact that Negro League players could play in places like Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela while getting paid well and not having to deal with the prejudices that plagued them in the States had to be a bitter-sweet experience for them due to obvious reasons. In Satchel Paige’s autobiography he made it a point to describe how the black players were treated like Kings while playing down there. I am extremely fascinated with Caribbean Baseball from the early to mid 1900′s and I would have loved to been able to witness some of the Caribbean leagues and teams of yesteryear.
Jimmie Reese of the 1927 Oakland Oaks. If you do not know who Jimmie Reese is then I suggest you look him up as he was one of the coolest people ever to be associated with the great game of Baseball. I discovered Reese when I was a kid after he was featured on Baseball cards by both Bowman and Donruss in 1991 (Here & Here). I could write so much about the guy, however I really do not know where to begin so I will make a list of 5 fun facts for you to enjoy:
1) He spend the majority of his life in Baseball. He started as a Bat Boy for the Los Angeles Angels of the PCL in 1917, played for the Oaks, Yankees, Cardinals, Padres and Angels. He also spent time as both a Manager and Scout. In 1994 at the time of his death at age 92, he was still a Coach for the California Angels as he had a life-time contract with the team.
2) He was Babe Ruth’s roommate in 1930 & 1931 during his time with the Yankees. Reese often suggested that he was more so a roommate with the Babe’s suitcase due to his active social life.
3) Nolan Ryan named one of his sons after Reese as a way to pay tribute to his former coach. Whenever I see his name brought up or written about, it’s always mentioned that he was considered the nicest guy in the game.
4) Still to this day, Reese is regarded as being the best Fungo hitter ever. Legend goes back all the way to his days of Managing the Padres in 1960 that he would often “throw” batting practice by hitting the ball to batter with a fungo bat. That’s crazy.
5) His number #50 is retired by the Angels.
So yeah there ya go, Jimmie Reese ruled. I wish he wrote a autobiography prior to passing away as he lived quite the interesting Baseball life. If you would like to read some more on Reese, check out his page at the Baseball Biography Project by SABR (HERE).