Jackie. Ritchey. DiMaggio & O’Doul. Wagner & Cobb. Bouton.
Jackie & George.
On April 18th, 1946 in Jersey City, New Jersey, Jackie Robinson made his professional debut in MLB affiliated baseball as a member of the The Montreal Royals of the International League. The Royals opened the season against the Jersey City Giants and blew them out to a score of 14 to 1. On top of breaking the color barrier, Jackie also went 4 for 5 with a home run, scored 4 runs, knocked in 4 RBIs, stole 2 bases and even forced 2 balk calls while on the base paths. In other words, he had one hell of a day.
The most famous moment from that game came after Jackie hit his home run and was greeted by teammate, George Shuba with a handshake. People always talk about Pee Wee Reese supposedly putting his arm around Jackie in Cincinnati in 1947, but this is the moment that should be celebrated, due to the fact it happened over a year before and that there’s photographic evidence proving that it actually took place. Shuba passed away in 2014 and after his death, the New York Times wrote a great article about his life that’s worth reading. (Image Source: Wikipedia)
The Jackie Robinson of the PCL.
I’ve shared photos of John Ritchey a few times here on 90 Feet of Perfection, but to be honest, there’s not many images out there of him, so when I do find a new one, you can bet I’m going to share it. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photo of him actually playing? In any case, I recently discovered this photo of John Ritchey at Seals Stadium from 1955 and was delighted.
If you’re not familiar with Ritchey, all you’ve got to know is that he was a star baseball player at San Diego State, in the Negro Leagues with the Chicago American Giants and in Pacific Coast League, where he broke the color barrier in 1947 with the PCL San Diego Padres. After signing with San Diego, he made his PCL debut in March of 1948 and finished the season with a .323/.405/.442 batting clip. Ritchey spent a total of 7 seasons in the PCL, also playing for the Portland Beavers, Sacramento Solons and San Francisco Seals.
San Francisco Baseball Legends.
From the old Pacific Coast League, to the Giants and A’s, baseball runs deep in the Bay Area and this is one of reasons I love the area and continue to live here. With that said, I don’t think someone can live in the Bay Area, and specifically San Francisco and not be aware of the fact that Joe DiMaggio (and his brothers) were from here, and to a lesser extent, Lefty O’Doul.
For years, I’ve been aware that Joe and Lefty are buried just South of the city, in a community called Colma, but I never ventured there to visit their graves until this last weekend. Needless to say, it was both interesting and eerie. DiMaggio is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery and his former mentor/friend/manager/teammate, O’Doul is buried across the street at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park. While DiMaggio’s grave is nice, O’Doul’s is awesome, due to the baseball theme and information.
The 1909 World Series.
The Pittsburgh Pirates played the Detroit Tigers in the 1909 World Series and this meant it would place two of the greatest hitters in the game against each other, in Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner. This photo, which captures the two legends talking shop prior to a game, is easily one of my favorite photos I’ve found in a long time.
The Battered Bastards.
Like everyone else who watched the 2014 Netflix documentary, “The Battered Bastards of Baseball,” I absolutely loved it and immediately became fascinated with the legacy of the Portland Mavericks. With the exception of knowing that Kurt Russell played with the team, I knew very little about the Mavericks prior to the film. Hell, I had no idea that Jim Bouton, who’s one of my favorite players of all time, played with the Mavericks. In any case, when I came across this photo of the grizzled vet talking pitching with his young comrades, I fell in love with it and knew I had to share it here. (Image Source: Oregon Historical Society)
Also, if you loved the movie and would like to keep the spirit of the Mavericks alive, you can pick up the authentic reproduction of their cap over at the always amazing, Ebbets Field Flannels. It’s the first cap from the 1970s that they’ve made and they did a great job on it.