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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Some moments are overlooked

(Editor’s note: Sports reporters Erik Cassano and Andrew Clayman were so perturbed about Mastercard’s moments, they decided to compile their own. Erik’s are listed, and tomorrow, Andrew will enlighten us with his moments.)

Lists such as baseball’s “Most Memorable Moments” are made to be disagreed with. And, boy, is that the truth. Any list that includes Ichiro and the 2001 World Series as the 30 greatest moments to be voted on, while making a token effort to acknowledge anything that happened before 1930, is a list that deserves to be heartily disagreed with. Is it the fault of dead Ball-Era players that almost nobody is still alive to support them?

You could ask a noted historian, but chances are they grew up in Cambridge, Mass., and are busy getting misty-eyed over Carlton Fisk’s homer in the 1975 World Series (which the Red Sox lost, mind you).

The list (and the voting results, which named Cal Ripken’s 2,131st consecutive game as baseball’s single crowning moment) is a clear indication of just what kind of history sense the average American has toward their purported “pastime.” Which is to say, not very good. That goes for the people who put the list together as well.

The breakdown of the moments eligible to be voted on per 20 years runs like this:

Before 1900: 0

1900-1920: 2

1920-1940: 6

1940-1960: 5

1960-1980: 5

1980-present: 12, including three from the 2001 season.

With that in mind, let’s take a much-needed trip down memory lane. Here are some moments overlooked by the selection committee, moments lost because the photographs weren’t download-ready from the Internet. Some are historic, some are just plain memorable.

Pittsburgh’s Dock Ellis pitches a no-hitter on LSD, 1970: Unbeknownst to him, Ellis was a late insert to start a game in San Diego. Where was he? In L.A., dropping acid with his girlfriend. He rushed to the airport, got to the park, and stymied the Padres despite not really knowing where he was. Who needs a sports psychologist?

First night game, 1935: President Franklin Roosevelt threw a switch in the White House illuminating Crosley Field in Cincinnati, and baseball was never the same again. Within twenty years, night baseball was a staple, and by the ’70s it was the norm. Now, most kids don’t see the end of a World Series game until they’re at least 10.

Babe Ruth hits 60 homers, 1923: Lost in the shuffle of Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds is possibly the most dominant offensive season by a player in history. Ruth signaled in the era of the home run hitter. Prior to 1923, nobody had even hit 30 in a season.

A.G. Spalding’s world tour, 1888: In an effort to make the game worldwide, the sporting goods magnate Albert G. Spalding took a team on a trip around the world. It failed to catch on anywhere else, but then again Taiwan hadn’t yet discovered that 15-year-olds make good Little Leaguers.

Miracle Braves win World Series, 1914: Think the Angels are a miracle team? The 1914 Boston Braves were in last place on July 4th, then rallied to win the National League pennant, and sweep the heavily-favored Philadelphia Athletics in the Series.

Tommy John gets ligament transplant surgery, 1974: Taking ligament pieces from the wrist and implanting it in a damaged elbow was groundbreaking when Dr. Frank Jobe did it to lefty Tommy John. Nearly 30 years later, countless careers have been saved by the procedure.

Birth of free agency, 1975: Pitchers Dave McNally and Andy Messersmith were a test case by the players’ union to break the reserve clause that had kept players bound to their teams until the teams no longer wanted them. When an arbitrator ruled in their favor, the clause died, players became commodities, agents became powerful figures, and all the power in the game shifted to those wearing the uniforms.

First official baseball game, 1856: Without the creative impetus of Alexander Joy Cartwright and the New York Knickerbockers baseball club, none of these other moments would have been possible.

Catcher sets Koufax straight, 1961: If not for the intervention of Norm Sherry, baseball might have been robbed of one of its greatest players. It was veteran catcher Sherry who quietly suggested to an erratic Sandy Koufax that he not try to throw so hard. The light bulb went on, and with newfound control Koufax was as dominant as any pitcher in history for the next five years.

The arrival of Astroturf, 1965: The Astros found out quickly that grass wouldn’t grow in their new indoor home, the Astrodome. An alternative had to be found. The result? Baseball on a pool table.

Yankees win first pennant, 1921: A watershed moment. Prior to 1921, the Red Sox were the class of baseball, winning five of the first 15 World Series played. Since then, the Yankees have owned the game, capturing 38 pennants and 26 championships. The Red Sox, meanwhile, have become the standard-bearers of rotten luck.

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