Monthly Archives: January 2016

1915 World Series: Babe Ruth’s debut

The 1915 World Series was the twelfth played (and thirteenth year overall) in the history of the modern World Series. In 1915, a man who would transcend the game and the national consciousness would make his debut, although he only batted once – Babe Ruth. It was the first of three Red Sox titles in four years. It’s easy to forget in the wake of the “Curse” that supposedly haunted them, but for the first twenty years of the twentieth century, the Red Sox were one of the best teams in Major League Baseball.

(Photo courtesy of

1915 World Series 
Boston Red Sox (AL) over Philadelphia Phillies (NL), 4-1 

Managers: Bill Carrigan (Boston); Pat Moran (Philadelphia) 

Hall of Famers*
Boston: Harry Hooper, Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker
Philadelphia: Grover Cleveland Alexander, Dave Bancroft, Eppa Rixey 
Umpires: Billy Evans, Bill Klem 

* – Herb Pennock (HOF 1948) was on the Red Sox roster in 1915, but was not featured on the World Series roster.

The World Series was still an inexact science in 1915. There was still no official governing body (i.e. the Commissioner’s Office), and determining home-field advantage was often done via a coin flip. That was the case in 1915. Red Sox and Phillies representatives met at the famed Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City to determine home-field advantage. The National Commission, the governing body in the days before the commissioner’s office, had Red Sox owner Joseph Lannin call the toss. He lost, and Phillies owner William L. Baker opted to play the first two games in Philadelphia’s home stadium, appropriately named the Baker Bowl.

Future Hall of Fame pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander – “Old Pete” – started for Philadelphia against Ernie Shore in the opener. Although Alexander would eventually win 373 games in his career (tied for third most with Christy Mathewson), he was pitching on guile, and although he won, sportswriter Hugh Fullerton claimed that it was only “luck that saved the Phillies.” A future Hall of Famer made his debut that year, in a pinch-hit appearance in the top of the ninth with one out and a runner on first. He hit a ground ball to first baseman Fred Luderus in his only appearance of the Series. He was a pitcher who would eventually become an outfielder and hit 714 home runs. He was the one and only Babe Ruth. Alexander out-dueled Shore, winning 3-1. Philadelphia had stolen the first game on the highly favored Red Sox.

Game 2 stayed in Philadelphia, with Boston’s George “Rube” Foster going against Philadelphia’s Erskine Mayer. Both pitchers pitched a complete game – as was common in that era – but Foster was just a little bit better. Harry Hooper led off the game with a walk and advanced on a bunt and a Tris Speaker single. The Red Sox attempted a double steal, with Speaker being caught at second. Hooper would have been out on the return throw, but catcher Ed Burns dropped the ball and Hooper scored. The Red Sox had stolen a run. The batter would single and eventually be caught stealing to end the inning. Luderus drove in Gavvy Cravath, the Phillies’ hitting star, in the bottom of the fifth. But Foster would settle down, not walking anybody and striking out eight. In the top of the ninth, with two outs and Larry Gardner on second, Foster won his own ballgame with a single to center. Boston had a 2-1 lead in the ninth, and the lead would hold, at Foster got a strikeout and two fly balls. The Series was tied at one apiece.

The series shifted to Boston for the next two games. To boost gate receipts, the Red Sox played in nearby Braves Field, which had been completed that year and had a larger seating capacity than Fenway Park.  (Incidentally, Fenway Park had been lent to the Braves the previous year.) In Game 3, Dutch Leonard faced off against Pete Alexander. Philadelphia took the lead in the third inning, when Dave Bancroft – a future Hall of Famer – singled in Ed Burns. An inning later, Boston got a run back on a sacrifice fly from Dick Hoblitzell, scoring Speaker. The game remained tied into the bottom of the ninth. Hooper led off with a single, followed by an Everett Scott sacrifice bunt. Alexander walked Speaker intentionally to set up a potential double-play ground ball. Following a weak ground out, which advanced the runners to second and third, Duffy Lewis came through with a single, scoring Hooper and giving the Red Sox a 2-1 “walk-off” win in Game 3.

Game 4 would follow the same scoreline at the previous two games – a 2-1 Boston victory. Shore got the ball again against George Chalmers of Philadelphia. In the Dead Ball Era, runs were hard to come by, and again both pitchers pitched the entire game for their teams (are you sensing a pattern here?). Hooper came through big again for Boston, driving in the first run of the game in the top of the third. Boston got an insurance run in the sixth, on a Hoblitzell single, followed by a double by Duffy Lewis. The combination of Cravath and Luderus got a run back for the Phillies in the eighth, but Shore would bear down and retire the last batter on a fly ball in the ninth. Boston led the series, three games to one.

In Game 5, played in the Baker Bowl, Boston looked to clinch, sending Foster back to the mound against Mayer. This time, Mayer would be knocked out of the box. Game 5 was probably the most exciting game of the Series, but it was too late to save Philadelphia. Philadelphia scored twice in the first inning, with Luderus driving in two runs. Boston got a run back in the second, and Harry Hooper hit a home run in the third. Because of the extremely short outfield in the Baker Bowl, the fences were moved in. As a result, Hooper actually hit what would be considered a ground-rule double today. Under the rules of the time, however, any ball that went over the fence was considered a home run, so Hooper would end up being credited with two of them in the game. After Boston tied the score in the third, Mayer was relieved by lefty Eppa Rixey. Rixey got a double-play to keep the score tied, and Philadelphia reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the fourth. Luderus homered and another run scored later in the inning when Harry Hooper made a bad throw from right field. With Philadelphia six outs away from forcing a sixth game, Hooper hit his second “ground-rule” home run with a man on, tying the score at 4-4. Philadelphia couldn’t score in their half of the inning, and Rixey came out to pitch the ninth. After Foster struck out, Duffy Lewis came to bat. Sure enough, he hit a ball to center, and got a cheap home run of his own, in the same way Hooper had. It was a backbreaking “home run” for the Phillies. Rixey retired the next two batters, but Foster was ready. He struck out Bert Niehoff and got Ed Burns to ground out to first base. Pinch-hitter Bill Killefer came up to bat for Rixey, the last chance for Philadelphia. He grounded out to shortstop Everett Scott, and the Red Sox had their second title in four years. The Red Sox were so dominant that even with Ruth’s limited duty, they won anyway. The Red Sox would attempt to go back-to-back the following year, while the Phillies wouldn’t return to the World Series until 1950.

Fun Facts 
Boston’s loyal fans, the Royal Rooters, were shut out of the Baker Bowl by Phillies owner William Baker. Fearing a repeat of the boycott in 1912, National Commission head Garry Herrmann allocated an additional two hundred tickets from his own pocket.

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson became the first sitting President to attend a World Series game. Wilson threw out the first ball in Game 2.

It was the second consecutive Boston versus Philadelphia series, although it was the Boston Braves against the Philadelphia A’s the previous year. (Both teams have since relocated). In both instances, Boston beat Philadelphia.

Tris Speaker was known for playing tremendously shallow in center field, allowing him to turn numerous unassisted double plays.

The vast outfield of Braves Field would become apparent in Game Three, when Gavvy Cravath, the National League’s equivalent of Babe Ruth at the time, hit a ball deep to center. In Fenway or Baker Bowl, it would have been a home run or at least a double. This time, Speaker ran it down. With two on, it would have given Philadelphia the lead, and Philadelphia could have been leading after that game.

Babe Ruth and Ernie Shore once combined on an unusual no-hitter in 1917. Ruth walked the first batter, then was ejected for arguing balls and strikes with the home plate umpire. Shore came into relieve, and the runner was caught stealing. Nobody else reached base for the entire game. It was once considered a perfect game for Shore, but revised rules led to it being called a combined no-hitter.

Game One was the last win for the Phillies in the World Series for sixty-five years. They wouldn’t win the pennant for another thirty-five.

Final Thoughts 
Although Boston won four games to one, all of the games were close (decided by two runs or less), and Boston won three of their four games in the ninth inning. The stats were a little misleading on this one. The following year, Babe Ruth would get a chance to show his mettle, and show it he did. It also marked the World Series debut of one of baseball’s classic ballparks.

References  and Sources 
Baseball Almanac
Baseball Reference
Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns 
100 Years of the World Series (Eric Enders)
The New York Times. “Nothing But Luck Saved the Phillies.” Hugh S. Fullerton, October 9, 1915.


1914 World Series: The Miracle Braves

The 1914 World Series was the eleventh played in the history of the modern World Series. This is one of the biggest upsets in World Series history, perhaps the biggest. However, certain sources suggest that certain games may not have been on the level. We’ll investigate.

1914 World Series 
Boston Braves (NL) over Philadelphia Athletics (AL), 4-0 

Managers: George Stallings (Boston); Connie Mack (Philadelphia) 

Hall of Famers 
Boston: Johnny Evers, Rabbit Maranville 
Philadelphia: Connie Mack (manager), Charles Bender, Frank Baker, Eddie Collins, Herb Pennock, Eddie Plank 
Umpires: Bill Klem 

Many consider the 1969 World Series to be the biggest upset in World Series history. I give it to this one, because the timeline was much shorter, and the ’69 Mets weren’t as big of a long shot as people think. The 1914 Boston Braves pulled off the biggest upset in World Series history. Philadelphia’s pitching staff won a collective total of 644 more games than Boston’s. They had six Hall of Famers (Mack included) to Boston’s two. But the matchup would be all Boston’s.

The Braves came into the Fourth of July in last place. Many believed that manager George Stallings was unable to lead ballplayers. They had lost an exhibition game 10-2 to a minor league team in Buffalo. They were 26-40 and many thought that it would be it for them. But Stallings, known for his numerous superstitions (and a temper worse than Mack’s), was able to convince his players that he was counteracting all the supposed jinxes on the team. A key acquisition in the off-season was Johnny Evers; he didn’t want to stay in Chicago and threatened to jump to the rival Federal League. Boston engineered a deal to pick him up. After losing to Buffalo, Boston won 12 of its next sixteen, and eventually caught John McGraw’s Giants in a three-game sweep at the Polo Grounds. When the Giants came to Boston, they were dispatched. The Braves went 58-19 after their loss to Buffalo, and shocked the Giants by a full ten games at season’s end.

As a result of cheap ownership, many in Philadelphia were threatening to join the rival Federal League. This led to a divided A’s team. Many players were rumored to have met with gambler Sport Sullivan, later an instrumental part of the Black Sox scandal in 1919. Still, they came in as heavy favorites. Game 1 opened at Shibe Park in Philadelphia. Charles Bender went against twenty-game winner Dick Rudolph. Although Bender made the Hall of Fame, Rudolph had won 26 games that year, and it was quickly over. Rudolph only allowed five hits and struck out ten. Boston scored first on a double by Hank Gowdy and a single by Rabbit Maranville, both in the second inning. Philadelphia got a run back in the bottom of the inning. But Gowdy and Maranville combined again in the fifth, and Boston got three runs in the sixth, driving Bender from the game. Their final run came on a steal of home by Butch Schmidt. Rumors abound that Stalling was spiting Mack by sending Schmidt home for not making the visitors’ clubhouse amenable. Boston took the first game, 7-1.

Game 2 matched Bill James, another 26-game winner, against Eddie Plank. James allowed only one run, in the top of the ninth, when center fielder Les Mann drove in third baseman Charlie Deal. But James was even better, allowing only two hits. Boston won Game 2, 1-0. They had a shocking 2-0 lead in games heading back to Boston.

Because Braves Field wasn’t ready until the following season, the Braves used the Red Sox’s home park, Fenway Park, for Games 3 and 4. Philadelphia took their first lead in the first inning of Game 3, when Eddie Collins reached on an error. However, the lead wouldn’t last, as Gowdy drove in a run. The teams traded runs, taking the game into extra innings. It looked like Philadelphia would steal Game 3 as Home Run Baker drove in two runs. But in the bottom of the tenth, Gowdy led off with a home run. Later in the inning, Joe Connolly hit a sacrifice fly to score the tying run. Bill James came in to relieve Lefty Tyler, and pitched two innings. In the bottom of the twelfth, A’s pitcher Bullet Joe Bush would doom his team. With two runners on and no outs, Herbie Moran laid down a sacrifice bunt. Bush picked it up to force Gowdy at third, but threw the ball away. Gowdy game home to score, and shockingly, the Braves took a 3-0 Series lead with a 5-4, 12-inning win.

Game 4 matched Rudolph against Bob Shawkey. Although Philadelphia would get one more hit, Boston got the clutch hits. In the fifth inning with the score tied at one apiece, Evers showed how valuable he was to the Miracle Braves. He drove in two runs with a single to center. Those would be all the runs that Rudolph would need. Stuffy McInnis made the last out with a groundout to third base. The Braves had pulled off a shocking four-game sweep, using only three pitchers.

It would be the last hurrah for these Philadelphia A’s. The following year, they would drop to last place, and wouldn’t win another pennant until 1929. Mack was forced to sell off his big stars. Although the Federal League eventually folded the next year, the threat of competition changed the baseball landscape. Stallings would never win another pennant, but for one year, Boston’s Miracle Braves reigned supreme.

Fun Facts 
Two years after this series, Philadelphia would finish last with a 36-117 record. Although the 1962 Mets lost more games (120), the A’s .235 winning percentage is the worst in the modern era of baseball.

One mistake that Mack made was that he wasn’t able to convince Jack Dunn to give him a young pitcher who was a great hitter. It was Babe Ruth, who would debut for the Red Sox that year.

Ironically, for all of Philadelphia’s great pitching, it may have hurt them, because they were too good. They had too much of a good thing, and they became the first team to make the World Series without a 20-game winner.

Former A’s pitcher Rube Waddell died of tuberculosis on April Fool’s Day of that year. He had helped victims of a flood.

Future general manager Gabe Paul worked as Stallings’ bat boy. Reportedly, Stallings’ biggest pet peeve was loose scraps of paper, and it was Paul’s job to pick them up. If he didn’t, Stallings would reportedly let loose with his famous temper.

Final Thoughts 
I still think this is the greatest upset in World Series history. The Braves were supposed to have no shot, but they pulled it off. Neither team would build on its success. Meanwhile, Boston’s “other” team – the Red Sox – would have their own dynasty for the rest of the decade.

References and Sources 
Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
100 Years of the World Series (Eric Enders)
To Every Thing a Season: Shibe Park and Urban Philadelphia, 1909-1976 (Bruce Kuklick)
The Baseball Hall of Shame: The Best of Blooperstown (Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo)

The Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame…Bill Berry

Now, if you’re a fan of the band R.E.M., like I am, this one will be more obvious. But if you don’t know the story, here are: The Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame Bill Berry for leaving R.E.M.

The setup
Beginning in 1980, the band R.E.M. served as one of the founders of the alternative rock movement in the 1990s. Known for their stream-of-consciousness lyrics, and for being an influence on other bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam, R.E.M. are considered by many to be one of the best bands of the 1990s. More importantly, they kept the same lineup for seventeen years: Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Bill Berry. Most people believed that they would be the exception to the rule – the band that stays together forever. Berry was the drummer, and although he was largely in the shadows behind the rest of the band, he wrote some of R.E.M.’s classic songs, such as “Everybody Hurts,” “Perfect Circle,” and “Driver 8.”

But things changed in 1997. Out of nowhere, Berry announced that he was leaving the band. One of rock music’s greatest lineups had been shattered. It was like the Dodgers infield of the 1970s and 1980s – you just thought they’d stay together forever. Nevertheless, the other members decided to continue as a three-piece, making music for another 14 years before finally disbanding in 2011. R.E.M. left a great legacy for thirty-one years in music, but people wonder how much better their work could have been had Berry stayed in the lineup. Although many fans don’t technically hate Berry, they still dislike the fact that he left them out in the cold.

Here’s why Bill Berry should not be blamed for leaving R.E.M.

Best of the Rest 
A. Drummers aren’t the stars. 
Although Berry was a celebrated member of a famous band, it’s historically been the case that drummers are considered the “forgotten man” in a band, despite their importance. Throughout much of the tenure of The Beatles, Ringo Starr wasn’t as celebrated as the other three members of the band. Fans go to rock concerts because of a great frontman. Michael Stipe was a great front man, no doubt. But maybe Berry didn’t want to be in the background.

B. Georgia on my mind. 
Although the band was based out of Athens, Georgia, Berry grew up in the north, originally in Duluth, Minnesota. He moved with his family to Macon in 1970, and then did several years of pre-law at the University of Georgia before dropping out the join the band. Perhaps he never gets in the band in the first place without a little help from the Peach State.

Top 5 
5. Kurt Cobain and River Phoenix. 
Several years before Berry left, two celebrities who were very close with the band passed away within six months of each other. River Phoenix died of a drug overdose on Halloween night of 1993, and the album Monster is dedicated to him in the liner notes. Even more crippling to R.E.M. and the music industry was the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994. The Nirvana frontman was close with the band, and there were talks of them collaborating together. The song “Let Me In” was written for him. Berry must have had a lot of his creative juices drained as a result.

4. Jefferson Holt. 
A year before Berry left the band, Holt, the band’s manager and unofficial “fifth member,” departed under very mysterious circumstances. The band was working on the album New Adventures in Hi-Fi, so losing that resource must have also taken a lot out of Berry. Whether Holt was fired, left on his own, or whatever, a key piece of R.E.M.’s success was already lost, even before Berry departed.

3. Reunion tours. 
Berry didn’t so much quit as he did retire. Given the pressures of the music industry – the deadlines, management, the constant touring – it’s almost as if Berry quit music, not just a band. Nevertheless, he was able to play with R.E.M. again on several occasions – notably, their 2007 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He loved to play, but he didn’t want the pressure of the industry anymore. Berry currently works on  farm in Georgia harvesting hay.

2. The band played on. 
As far as I know, his bandmates never held his decision against him. Even if they did, Berry asked them to continue on without him. They honored his wishes, and used several other unofficial drummers on their remaining albums. They didn’t want Berry to feel responsible for  breaking up R.E.M., so they continued on, even if he wasn’t there to play with them.

As mentioned, if you know the history of the band, number one is obvious. Here it is.

1. Health concerns. 
The impetus for Berry to leave was due in large part to an on-stage brain aneurysm he suffered in Switzerland. Although the doctors were able to save his life, Berry started to re-evaluate his life after what happened. If you almost die doing something you love, can you still love it? If you look at it one way, Berry leaving was the best decision he could have made. It probably saved his life.

1913 World Series – Mack-McGraw III

The 1913 World Series was the tenth played in the history of the modern World Series. It was the rubber match between two Hall of Fame managers, Connie Mack and John McGraw. Both clubs had won several pennants in the decade, and would be a watershed year for both clubs. Many on both teams would play in their final World Series.

1913 World Series 
Philadelphia Athletics (AL) vs. New York Giants (NL), 4-1 

Managers: Connie Mack (Philadelphia); John McGraw (New York) 

Hall of Famers* 
Philadelphia: Connie Mack (manager), Charles Bender, Eddie Collins, Frank Baker, Eddie Plank
New York: John McGraw (manager), Rube Marquard, Christy Mathewson.
Umpires: Bill Klem, Tommy Connolly 

* – Herb Pennock was on the A’s roster, but did not feature in the Series. 

Mack-McGraw was one of the most underrated rivalries, in my opinion. The two winningest managers in baseball history faced off for the final time. The series opened in New York on October 7.

In Game 1, Charles Bender faced off against Rube Marquard. Two years earlier, Marquard had made the mistake of pitching to Frank Baker, earning him the nickname “Home Run.” Baker would make sure to keep his nickname, hitting a home run in the top of the fifth. Philadelphia was up 3-1 already and had Eddie Collins on second. The Giants rallied to get to within 5-4, until Philadelphia added an insurance run in the eighth. Tillie Shafer struck out to end the game.

Game Two in Philadelphia was probably the best of the Series. Mathewson and Eddie Plank would each pitch a complete game. It was 0-0 going into the ninth, when the Giants got in trouble. Philadelphia had runners on second and third, and Jack Lapp at bat. Hooks Wiltse, a starting pitcher, was filling it at first base. Lapp hit a ground ball in that direction, and Wiltse threw home to force Amos Strunk at home plate. This left runners at first and third. Plank hit a ground ball to Wiltse, who again took the out at home. Mathewson got out of the inning on a comeback ground ball to the mound. The game remained scoreless.

In the top of the tenth, a single and sacrifice bunt led to Mathewson coming to bat. Mathewson singled, scoring pinch-runner Eddie Grant. The Giants had the lead. Two errors led to two more runs in the inning, and the Giants led 3-0. The A’s went down in order, and the series was tied at one apiece.

The series returned to New York for Game 3. Jeff Tesreau started for New York against “Bullet” Joe Bush. This time, Philadelphia went up early, scoring five runs in the first two innings. Wally Schang hit a home run for the A’s in the eighth, and Bush cruised to an 8-2 victory.

In Game 4, Bender faced off against Al Demaree. Once again, Philadelphia took an early lead, going ahead 6-0 after five innings. This time, the Giants would rally. In the seventh, Fred Merkle got the Giants back in it with a three-run home run, and then got two runs in the eighth on a double and a triple. However, Bender knuckled down and managed to hold on. The A’s took a 3-1 series lead by holding on to win, 6-5 in Game 4.

Game Five gave Philadelphia their chance to clinch their third title in four years. Plank and Mathewson faced off again, and this time, in what would prove to be his World Series swan song, Mathewson was hit hard. Baker hit a sacrifice fly in the first inning, and then had another run driven in on a bunt single. Another sacrifice fly by Stuffy McInnis gave Plank all the runs he needed. The Giants got a run in the fifth inning, but neither team would score again. Larry Doyle flied out to right fielder Eddie Murphy, and the A’s had a 3-1 Series clinching victory.

Ultimately, while most of the games were competitive, there was no real “wow” factor except for Game 2. So, although it was the third and final head-to-head battle between two classic managers, it was slightly a dud in their final matchup.

Fun Facts 
This would be the final World Series appearance for Christy Mathewson. He pitched for three more seasons, then enlisted in the Army for World War I. He was poisoned in his lungs during a training drill, which eventually proved fatal.

Speaking of World War I, Giants infielder Eddie Grant, who appeared off the bench in this series, would be killed in battle in 1918. He was one of only three Major League players to be killed in the first conflict.

This was also the final Mack-McGraw battle. Each manager would win two more championships, but never faced each other again except for the first All-Star Game in 1933.

Final Thoughts 
Philadelphia had all the makings of a dynasty. But strange winds were brewing the next year. New York would have to wait four more years to get back to the World Series, and Mathewson never got another chance.

References and Sources 
Baseball Almanac
Baseball Reference
100 Years of the World Series (Eric Enders)

The calming cold

There’s something about January weather on a Saturday in an Indiana college town that calms a person down sometimes. Today was eighteen months since my mom’s passing, and although it took a little time to get started, I think I did better than I had anticipated. I went to work, then to campus for a planned activity, which went well. I reconnected with an old friend there, and walked with him to one of the campus buildings, then headed in the other direction. It’s not warm enough yet for a lot of people to be out in that corridor of campus, and it was already dark out when I made my walk home. If you refer to the previous post “Logic,” which can be found lower on this blog, it mentions that there is logic on the spectrum, but it’s a strange logic. Aspie logic plays by its own rules.

Conventional wisdom usually says that in weather that is below freezing, you don’t walk home forty-five minutes uphill to your apartment in the dark on a Saturday night in a college town. But as I have told people time and time again, conventional wisdom kind of goes out the window. Along the way, I stopped out to eat, but I still made relatively good time, making it home before 8 p.m. I also mentioned in an earlier post that I like walking, because I can discover the world better, and perhaps take in the scenery more. You lose that part of you when you drive, or at least a large part of it. It’s not even about exercise anymore, although that is always a good thing for me. I did what I did because it was calming for the soul.

I actually think it’s better to walk in the cold as well. It’s inconvenient at times, but so is life, so it’s a compelling and necessary parallel. I generally walk everywhere I go now – I get better exercise in the heat, but it loses something about its mystique in doing so. We’re still hustling and bustling in May, June, July, and August. It may seem like the opposite to most people, but the winter canopy tends to be more beautiful to me, especially when there’s snow. Walking up the return leg of Third Street, I felt that I got there a lot faster this time around. I had nowhere else to go but home. My day was mine again. I could take my time. Whether it was the hour or the weather, very few were passing along those city sidewalks.

According to my logic, I’d take my spring break trip (not that I get one anymore) to the mountains instead of the beach. Okay, perhaps not the mountains, but if I were in school and took spring break, I’d totally go north for the spring. I speak purely hypothetically, of course. Still, if it could ever become a possibility, I’m there.

Taking that walk home, alone, in the cold, was good for me tonight. I’m not trying to tell you not to drive. I’m just saying that walking is quickly becoming a new panacea for me, particularly this time of year. Can you really blame me for that? I wasn’t sure how I’d handle today, but the sidewalks told me to approach them with no fear, at my own pace. It may not be “logical,” but there’s a sense of serenity there. I’d like to keep that for the time being.

The Saints come marching back

This September marks ten years since the original event that I’m about to describe to you. I know it would be more appropriate to tell it then, but to me it’s too good a story to wait that long. You may not like either music group mentioned, or American football, or the team mentioned, but in sports, sometimes it’s about a city rediscovering itself. Sometimes, a team needs to win to begin the healing process. It’s bigger than any of us can imagine sometimes.

Every so often, a sports team is in need of a cathartic moment, particularly in the face of immeasurable tragedy. The Boston Red Sox in 2013 are an example – after the bombings at the Marathon (and a last-place finish the previous year), the Red Sox rose above the sum of their parts and won their eighth World Series title. Granted, they also finished last each of the next two years, but the record improved both years, and for Boston’s collective psyche, the timing was right.

Another example is post-9/11 New York City. Although the Yankees lost the World Series to the Diamondbacks that year, I’m sure any of us secretly would admit it would have been a great story if it happened. Those were seven amazing nights in October-November 2001. But the one I’m going to mention here is probably the one that tugged at my heartstrings the most.

Ever since their inception in 1967, the New Orleans Saints had been considered a perennial loser. Things were so bad in the early 1980s that many fans called them the “‘Ain’ts” and wore paper bags over their heads. This was a team that lost a playoff spot because of a missed extra point following an amazing play of at least five laterals that led to a touchdown. They didn’t have a winning season until 1988, and didn’t win a playoff game until 2001. Things seemed like they were heading in the right direction at the beginning of the decade. But out of nowhere, Hurricane Katrina changed everything. The Big Easy was about to face its hardest obstacle.

I remember where I was when Hurricane Katrina happened. Not the exact event itself, but the general facts. I had just started my senior year of high school. I would have braces put on my top teeth only a few weeks later. Right as my year started, all of our choirs combined to perform a medley of songs. We went to the courthouse in downtown Bloomington, where the square intersects at all four streets. And we sang. I don’t remember what we sang, but our voices reverberated throughout the city that evening in early September 2005. Over the next several months, there would be benefit concerts, more updated coverage, and controversies left and right. As the citizens of New Orleans evacuated the city, the Saints would play their “home” games in San Antonio and Baton Rouge that year. Owner Tom Benson gave serious thought to permanently relocating the Saints to San Antonio. This was due in large part to fears about the stability of the stadium, the Louisiana Superdome. For those that didn’t or couldn’t evacuate New Orleans in the time, the stadium was used as a place for shelter, comfort, to attempt to start over. But a deal was worked out where the Saints would play all their home games in the Superdome in 2006.

In 2005, the Saints finished with the second-worst record in the NFL. They would own the second pick in that year’s draft, and selected running back Reggie Bush (whose Heisman Trophy at USC would later be vacated). As the Superdome prepared for its reopening, the Saints attempted to get better on the field. They hired Sean Payton as head coach, and signed Drew Brees to be their quarterback. They played their first two games on the road, including a 19-14 victory over the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field. Their next game was on a Monday night, September 25, 2006. It would be a Monday Night Football matchup with their divisional rivals, the Atlanta Falcons.

Often in these cases, it’s more about hype than the actual game itself. I’d say this game more than lived up to the hype. As the two teams gathered in their respective locker rooms, rock bands Green Day and U2 took the stage. They led in with “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” and would finish their set with “Beautiful Day.” But in between those two, they played a cover of a song by the Scottish rock band Skids, with slightly modified lyrics more appropriate for the occasion. The song was “The Saints Are Coming,” and although to many, it doesn’t hold a candle to the original, I prefer this version. Plus, consider the moment. Can you really blame the fans? Their performance can be found below.

Having just started college, I watched this game live, and the memories are striking. Michael Vick was nearing the end of his tenure with the Falcons, and after a heartbreaking loss the previous year, the Indianapolis Colts were ready to gear for a Super Bowl run. But on September 25, all eyes were on the Superdome. When the Saints raced out of the tunnel, the noise was deafening. It made the hairs stand up. The Saints went marching in that night, with a passion.

Atlanta was forced to punt on its first possession. Michael Koenen came in to punt, having struggled as both a punter and placekicker. As Koenen prepared to punt the ball away, the Saints special teams stacked the line. When the ball was snapped, special teams ace Steve Gleason was able to find a hole in the Falcons offensive line. Gleason dove in and blocked Koenen’s punt, sending the ball flying backwards. Cornerback Curtis Deloatch fell on the ball in the end zone. And after only a minute and a half, the Saints had the lead. For Gleason, it was an especially poignant moment in hindsight, because five years later, he would reveal his battle with ALS, a fight he continues to this day. Deloatch dunked the ball through the goalposts, John Carney added the extra point. Football was back in New Orleans.

The Saints improved to 3-0 that day with a 23-3 victory. They would go 10-6 that year, earning the second seed in the NFC playoffs, winning a dramatic game over the Philadelphia Eagles, before falling in the NFC Championship Game to the Chicago Bears. The Indianapolis Colts, the team I root for (hey, I’m only an hour south), would go on to win Super Bowl XLI, but New Orleans had reason to hope again.

That’s why with the benefit of hindsight, it’s hard to remain angry at the Saints when they beat the Colts three years later in Super Bowl XLIV. I was immensely disappointed, and probably a little angry and jealous. But when you dug deeper, you saw that the city still wore scars from Katrina. I wish they hadn’t won their first Super Bowl against “my” team, but New Orleans needed it for their collective identity. And for all of the controversy that surrounded them about the “Bountygate” scandal, a part of me put that aside. I don’t blame you, the reader, if you are unable to do so. But the side of me that sees the romanticism between life and sports is more forgiving.

It’s hard to believe that Katrina was already ten years ago. It was the introduction to adulthood for myself and many of my friends. I think back to those times with bittersweet goggles. I was officially an adult, but I wasn’t close to being finished growing up. It took me another seven or eight years to really feel like a “grown-up,” and there are still days. But I am very lucky. I have my health. I have a job. I have a family. I have a computer that enables me to type this out right now. So many people lost everything. They had to start over. Many were never given the chance to do so.

Life will knock you down. But some knockdowns are harder to get up from than others. New Orleans is still standing, and it rebuilt. But the memories can never go away, nor should they. When you get hit the hardest, that’s when you need the optimism the most. That game at the Superdome gave New Orleans a renewal. I am pretty sure I’ve visited the city when I was eight or so with my mom, but I only remember playing mini-golf. That’s a place where I need to go back to fully understand the history.

Whenever you can, come marching back in your own life. If you can’t, make small steps. One step at a time.

1912 World Series: The first at Fenway

The 1912 World Series was the tenth year (and ninth played) of the modern World Series. It was one of the memorable World Series of the Dead Ball Era, largely remembered for a tie game and a spectacular finish.

1912 World Series 
Boston Red Sox (AL) over New York Giants (NL), 4-3-1 

Managers: Jake Stahl (Boston); John McGraw (New York) 

Hall of Famers 
Boston: Tris Speaker, Harry Hooper 
New York: John McGraw (manager), Rube Marquard, Christy Mathewson
Umpires: Bill Klem, Billy Evans 

The 1912 season was probably the best in Boston Red Sox history. They won 105 games, led by Smoky Joe Wood’s 34 wins. Before his arm eventually gave out, Wood was considered just as good as Walter Johnson in the American League. The Giants won their second consecutive pennant, led by John McGraw and Christy Mathewson. Although rumors floated around about thrown games in this series, it was still a dramatic, great series with a new addition.

1912 also gave the Red Sox what many believed to be their good luck charm – their new stadium, Fenway Park. Although it would undergo extensive renovations and almost be torn down, it survived to its centennial and still stands today. It would serve them well in this series.

The Polo Grounds played host to Game 1. Many thought McGraw made a mistake when he gave the ball to rookie Jeff Tesreau over Mathewson. Wood started for Boston. According to McGraw, he felt that Mathewson would react better against the loyal fans in Fenway Park, nicknamed the Royal Rooters. New York scored twice in the third inning, when Red Sox outfielder Duffy Lewis lost a fly ball in the sun, putting two runners on. Red Murray would drive in two runs and New York led 2-0. Tesreau kept Boston off the board until the sixth. Tris Speaker hit a fly ball that neither Fred Snodgrass nor Josh Devore called for and fell in untouched. Remember the name Fred Snodgrass, by the way. He’ll appear again. Speaker ended up on third, and Duffy Lewis drove him in with and RBI groundout. Errors were a key watchword in this series, and Boston would capitalize in the seventh. Wood hit a grounder to second baseman Larry Doyle, who bobbled the ball and only got one out. This kept two runners on. Harry Hooper doubled and Steve Yerkes singled, leading to three runs and a 4-2 lead. The first game came to an exciting conclusion. New York scored a run and had the tying run on third with only one out, but Joe Wood struck out the final two batters and the Red Sox escaped with a 4-3 win in the first game. Wood had come through in the clutch.

Game 2 shifted to Boston. This game would be riddled with controversy as much as excitement. Mathewson later called the moment one of his most excitement. Art Fletcher’s error led to three early Boston runs. After New York got the score back to 3-2, another error by Fletcher led to another Boston run. This time, the Giants would rally off of Ray Collins. Fred Snodgrass reached on an error, and after a single and a groundout, Red Murray hit a ground-rule double. Collins was replaced by Charley Hall, and after a pop-up, Buck Herzog hit another double, scoring both Murray and Beals Becker. Another New York error led to the tying run scoring in the bottom of the eighth. Neither team would score in the ninth, and the game went into extra innings. In the top of the tenth, Fred Merkle tripled, and following a groundout and intentional walk, Moose McCormick drove him in with a sacrifice fly. Mathewson was three outs away from tying the series at one game apiece. With one out, Tris Speaker hit a triple. Buck Herzog purposely collided with Speaker to prevent him from scoring. Speaker decided to try for the plate anyway, even with two out. The throw was dropped by catcher Art Wilson, Speaker scored, and the game was tied at 6-6. Manager John McGraw tried to have the run taken off the board, claiming that Speaker had failed to touch first base. Umpire Cy Rigler ignored McGraw and the score remained tied. Neither team scored in the eleventh, and the game was called because of darkness with the score tied 6-6. Boston retained its 1-0 Series lead. In a controversial move, the National Commission (the predecessor to the commissioner’s office) allowed the players to keep the receipts from the first four official games instead of this one. Many players complained, leading to allegations of fixed games later in the Series.

Game Three stayed in Boston, with Rube Marquard facing Buck O’Brien. Murray doubled to center in the second inning, followed by Herzog’s sacrifice fly. In the fifth inning, New York added another run, taking a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth. Marquard got a quick out but failed to cover first base on a grounder by Lewis, who was credited with an infield single. Larry Gardner hit a double to cut the deficit to 2-1. Player-manager Jake Stahl reached on a fielder’s choice, and sent in Olaf Henriksen to pinch-run for him. An error put runners on first and third with two out. A stolen base gave the Red Sox the winning run in scoring position, but Hick Cady flied out to right field and the series was tied at a game apiece. Just like New York in Game 1, Boston ended the game with the tying run on base.

In Game 4, Wood and Tesreau faced off again. This time, Wood pitched a complete game 3-1 victory. Wood helped his own cause with an RBI single, giving Boston an insurance run. Boston took a 2-1 lead with a 3-1 victory.

Game 5 featured Mathewson against Hugh Bedient. Boston scored its only runs when consecutive triples by Hooper and Yerkes led to the first run, followed by a fielding error by Doyle. The Giants got a run in the seventh, but Bedient set down the final seven batters to preserve a 2-1 Boston victory. Boston was one win away from its second title. But New York would come fighting back.

Game Six went back to the Polo Grounds. Buck O’Brien was hit hard for five first inning runs, including a steal of home by Herzog. The inning only ended when Art Fletcher was picked off first base. It was effectively over from there, for although New York never scored again, it was enough for a 5-2 victory. Boston still led in games, 3-2. Much controversy ensued over the choice to start O’Brien over Wood, at the insistence of owner Jimmy McAleer. O’Brien was assaulted after the game and wasn’t told he was starting until the day of the game, and was reportedly nursing a hangover. This led to allegations that the owners wanted the Series extended.

The seventh game went back to Fenway Park. For the third time, Wood and Tesreau faced off. This time, Tesreau got the better of Wood. Seven runs in the first two innings drove Wood from the game after only two-thirds of an inning, one of those outs coming when Tesreau was caught stealing second base. The game was over early, with New York winning 11-4. The series would go a deciding game – in this case, a Game 8. Further allegations were made about this game, in particular due to the Royal Rooters being denied their usual seats. Although they had paid their way in, leader Michael “Nuf Ced” McGreevy called for a boycott of the final game.

The eighth and final game came down to a coin flip. Boston won the right to host, and so they played it at Fenway Park. Because of the rumors, and the boycott, the final game was played to only half-capacity. Mathewson faced off against Bedient, a rematch of Game Five. New York scored a run when Murray drove in Devore with a two-out RBI double. It looked like Boston would lose a 3-1 lead in the Series, but Boston came back with a vengeance. Stahl singled, and following a walk, Olaf Henriksen drove him in with a double. The game was tied. One last time, Smoky Joe Wood came in, relieving Bedient. The game remained tied through the ninth. In the top of the tenth, Merkle drove in Murray, and the Giants had a 2-1 lead. The Giants were three outs away from their second World Series title. Mathewson went to the mound. Clyde Engle led off the inning, pinch-hitting for Wood. The inning looked disastrous for Boston at first, when Engle lifted a lazy fly ball to center fielder Fred Snodgrass. As Snodgrass camped under it, it was alleged he had gotten “too eager,” and dropped the ball, allowing Engle to wind up on second base. Harry Hooper came up, and hit another fly ball to center. This time, Snodgrass made a spectacular catch, although Engle tagged up to take third. This was when the tide turned for the Red Sox. Mathewson, known for his control, walked Steve Yerkes to put runners at first and third. Tris Speaker came to bat, and lifted another pop-up. For whatever reason, Mathewson called Merkle off the ball, and it fell in untouched, albeit in foul territory. Speaker would tell the Giants that they would regret their mistake. Given a reprieve, Speaker followed with a single, scoring Engle and sending Yerkes to third. Duffy Lewis was walked intentionally, to set up a potential double play. This time, however, Larry Gardner lifted a fly ball to right fielder Josh Devore. It was caught, but Yerkes tagged up and scored the winning run. The Red Sox won the game, 3-2, and the series, 4-3. Snodgrass would never live his mistake down, which reportedly cost the Giants $30,000 in potential winning shares. Despite four errors, and being outscored by six runs, Boston had managed to win a controversial yet underrated World Series.  McAleer would apologize to the Royal Rooters, and the rumors were dismissed. The Red Sox would begin their own mini-dynasty, when a young pitcher-outfielder named Babe Ruth would come into the fold.
The Giants would attempt to salvage their consecutive losses the following year, leading to a final Mack-McGraw showdown.

Fun Facts
Game Four drew the one millionth fan in World Series history. Despite all the controversy with the Royal Rooters, the series set an attendance record that would stand for nearly a decade.

This is one of three World Series with a tie game.

Smoky Joe Wood’s real first name was Howard.

Had Wood not been injured a few years later, there’s a very good shot he could have made the Hall of Fame. After 1912, he would never win more than fifteen games in a season, and eventually became an outfielder to prolong his career.

The Red Sox are one of a handful of teams to win a championship in their first season in a new ballpark.

Final Thoughts 
This was a very underrated World Series, despite all the controversies. Most of the games were still good, and Boston became champions for the second time in their history.

References and Sources 
Baseball Almanac
Baseball Reference
100 Years of the World Series (Eric Enders)
Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns
Baseball: An Illustrated History (Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns)
Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Lineups (Rob Neyer)
The New York Times, October 17, 1912, “Sox Champions on Muffed Fly.”

501 Must-Visit Cities: My List

I have a travel book called 501 Must-Visit Cities at my apartment. Not every city is going to be represented, obviously. But I asked myself: how many cities on this “must-visit” list have I actually seen? Well, from what I can officially remember, I’ve been to eighteen of 501, in four countries, and potentially a nineteenth in a fifth country. If anybody is interested, here is my list.

But, before I break down the list, here are some conditions for what counts on it:

1. It must be listed in the book (a full list can be found online, I’m sure). As a result, the following cities are out, because although I’ve visited them, they’re not in the book: Houston, Nashville, Louisville, Cincinnati, Orlando, Tampa-St. Petersburg, and New Orleans in the USA; Ostende in Belgium; Salisbury, Windsor, and Dover in England; Vannes and the Bretagne-Normandie region in France. (If anyone would like to borrow it to do your own list, or just to know what cities made the list, let me know.)


2. To count as “visited,” I must have a legitimate memory of doing something in that city during that time frame. Therefore, passing through a city or visiting the airport doesn’t count. Some of these cities I’ve visited multiple times, but they were on layover flights, so I don’t officially count those.

3. As a result of reason #2, there are three that I might have visited but have inconclusive information due to age or forgetting the itinerary, or others may have gone without me. I’ll list those as well under “Inconclusive.”

4. The list will be in chronological order by country. If I’ve visited multiple times, I’ll go with the first time I visited.

If anybody who reads this was on these trips with me, hopefully you can help me fill in the blanks whenever possible.

Not enough information/Inconclusive 
1. Atlanta, Georgia – I’m pretty sure I visited, but I couldn’t have been older than four. The only thing I remember was that my grandfather had retired down there for a few years and calling out into the streets to hear my voice echo. I don’t know if there’s enough to go on about this one.
2. Amsterdam, Netherlands – when we were in Belgium in 1994, we may have driven through it, and perhaps stopped. But it couldn’t have been that long, because even though it was over twenty years ago now, I still have enough Antwerp memories that I can get through it. I don’t get that same feeling with Amsterdam, so I’m putting it down as a no.
3. Cambridge, England – I’m a little embarrassed about not remembering this one, because this was only five years ago. But I’m not sure if this was on the list. The pictures and place names look and sound familiar, but I may be getting it confused with others.
4. Cologne, Germany – this is a very close call. Apparently, my dad remembers it better than I do, and Cologne is very close to Antwerp, where I lived as a child briefly. I’m pretty sure I’ve been to Germany, but it was in Aachen, which isn’t listed in the book. It may have just been my dad.
5. Memphis, Tennessee – because I have family in Nashville, it’s possible that we drove through it. I doubt we stopped, though, because most of Memphis is something that you probably wouldn’t forget.
6. Nantes, France – the geography makes sense, but I can’t confirm it. It’s slightly southeast of Rennes, but as a result, I can’t confirm that we’ve made it that far.
7. Leiden, Netherlands – my dad told me we’ve been to Delft, which is famous for making china and other famous kitchenware. But Leiden is a little too far north, from what I’ve been told.
8. Rouen, France – it’s possible I’ve been to either Rouen or Nantes, one of the two. But I only have computer photos and hopefully photos we’ve saved to go on.

My 501 List:

United States (8 out of 24)
1. Chicago, Illinois 
Number of Times Visited: 3
Dates: July 1995; July 1999; March 2006

What I remember: 
The John Hancock Center. We must have spent at least two days there the first time, my dad and I, because I remember the parking lot. We had driven up to see Wrigley Field. For many years afterwards, I kept the coloring book I got. It must have been somewhere near the information desk of the visitor’s bureau.

Wrigley Field. My dad and I went twice, on the first two trips. My brother came along with us the second time. I do remember being frustrated with my dad for leaving early the second time to beat the traffic. He later said he made a mistake when the Cubs rallied to win in the bottom of the ninth.

The last time I was in Chicago itself was in 2006. It was right before spring break, and it was the only time I got to see more of the city. We went to the zoo, the Hershey Factory in Chicago (I should have bought that Reese’s Peanut Butter cup T-shirt), and walking along the Magnificent Mile. And it was magnificent indeed.

I said I’m not including stops in the airport as official trips, but you can if you want to; if we go by those parameters, then I’ve been to Chicago six times, easily the most of any city on this list. But only three times were in the city itself. Once, I was on a connecting flight, and twice more, I went with my dad to pick my sister up.

2. Washington, D.C.
Number of Times Visited: 1
Dates: June 1998

What I remember: 
Several of my cousins and their parents came to the U.S. for the first time from Belgium. My uncle gave me the unfortunate news that both the U.S. and Belgium were eliminated from the FIFA World Cup in France.

The various Smithsonian Museums. The best one was the Air and Space Museum; we had a day left, and I was hoping to go to Arlington Cemetery instead, but we went to Air and Space instead, and I had a great time.

The various monuments and the National Mall. Unless you’ve actually been to Washington, it’s hard to really put it into words. I had just turned eleven at the time, also, so it’s not entirely my best memories.

Taking a trolley tour down the city. We all cheered when we passed the Belgian Embassy.

Also, on the most recent trip, we flew through Dulles.

3. San Antonio, Texas 
Number of Times Visited: 1
Dates: June 2001

What I remember: 
Ironically, we weren’t really supposed to be there. I had an aunt and uncle living near Houston at the time, but Tropical Storm Allison got in the way and we stayed with my uncle’s sister while the weather passed through.

The Alamo. One of our guilty pleasures was the movie Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. Like the titular character, we found out the hard way that there is indeed no basement in the Alamo.

Flying unaccompanied to Houston. This was the first time my brother and I flew alone.We stayed with my aunt the whole time, and then did the San Antonio leg.

Going to a Busch Gardens. My fear of heights almost prevented me from riding the roller coaster, but I persevered and rode it a few more times.

The mosquito bites. And copious amounts of Neosporin.

4. Austin, Texas 
Number of Times Visited: 1
Dates: May 2004

What I remember:
My cousin got married. It was the first of three weddings I went to that year, in three different locations.

Because of the wedding, we didn’t really get to see too much of the city, but the skyline was really nice where we held the rehearsal dinner.

We did take a duck boat tour. Many people were surprised that I, a sixteen-year-old kid from Indiana, was the only one on that tour who could name all six governments of Texas.

5. New York, New York 
Number of Times Visited: 1
Dates: March 2009

What I remember: 
Broadway. Even if it’s the only time I’ll ever go, I can say I’ve done it once. We saw an excellent production of The Lion King. It was spectacular.

Seeing the Statue of Liberty from a ferry. The actual statue was still closed off, and the wait was long, but it was still a great view.

Central Park. And seeing the “Imagine” homage laid to John Lennon. Goosebumps, and it wasn’t the mid-March temperatures.

The St. Patrick’s Day parade on Times Square.

Seeing the film Watchmen in an NYC movie theatre, and walking back to the hotel.

6. St. Louis, Missouri 
Number of Times Visited: 1
Dates: August 2009

What I remember: 
There was a little bit of a bittersweet tinge on this one. A friend from middle and high school passed away overnight during that trip. But I still got through the trip and had as good as a time I could under the circumstances.

The zoo. Up until my birthday this past year, it was the most recent time I’d been to the zoo. Dealing with the humidity was problematic, but we had water and sunscreen.

The Gateway Arch. You can take a little ride up to the top. A glowing view of the Mississippi on one side – breathtaking.

I don’t remember which museum it was, but there was a history museum we went to, doing an exhibit on the 1850s.

Busch Stadium – seeing the Cardinals play. They won that game, 4-1.

7. Columbus, Ohio 
Number of Times Visited: 3
Dates: May-June 2013; February-March 2015, March 2016

What I remember: 
Although my brother lives here now, I’ve still only been here three times as of this writing – when we moved him in, and for a birthday celebration.

During the second trip, we were hit by a freak snowstorm, and we expected to take a full day to get back. But we did it in just over four hours, thanks in large part to a great job done by the snowplows. We listened to flashback American Top 40 radio (from around 1976).

Ohio State’s campus. Still prefer IU’s campus, but if you know how to get around, I’m sure OSU would be lovely.

Seeing an outlet mall in the nearby suburbs. What can I say? I’m kind of a sucker for those kind of things.

Going to a bookstore called The Book Loft. It has thirty-two rooms organized by genre. It’s incredible. A bibliophile’s paradise.

8. Boston, Massachusetts 
Number of Times Visited: 1
Dates: July 2016

What I remember: 
Finally getting to take a vacation again after a wait of about six years. Boston has been on my radar for a long time, and I’m glad that my dad got to go with me.

Fenway Park. What’s to say? It’s the best ballpark in the Major Leagues. I’m sorry, you won’t convince me otherwise.

The Freedom Trail. A 2.5 mile stretch of the city that extends up hills, down cobblestone streets, and up a set of stairs (294, to be exact) to finish the trip. You can take the T (metro) if you want to get to a lot of these places, but that’s cheating. You have to walk it to say you did it. Besides, Boston’s a great walking town. If you don’t walk it, it’s like you miss the experience. Just follow the bricks on the road, and you’ll be fine. Or if that doesn’t work, maps are available.

The Arnold Arboretum. Owned by Harvard University, this is a tree park that is absolutely gorgeous. We took the route around the park, where it looked like a kids’ camp was having a field trip that day. We walked around the Linden path, and ended up climbing Bussey Hill, one of the best views of the park, or so I’ve heard. Definitely plan on returning first chance I get.

Belgium (5 of 7) 
1. Antwerp 
Number of Times Visited: 2
Dates: January-August 1994; July 2004

What I remember: 
If we get technical about it, this was my second childhood home, because I lived here for a semester during that time. I remember a lot of things about it, even though I was only six going on seven the first time we went. We lived across the street from the school. My brother and I went through the chicken pox over there, so even if it’s not the most pleasant story, there’s still a history there.

The little garden with a waterspout and the clothesline in the backyard. The backyard wasn’t all that big and made of brick walls on three sides, but it was a nice enough place for a little boy.

The diamond district. Antwerp is famous for its diamonds, and the second time we went, we took a day to explore the diamond district and the train station. According to a local rumor, there was an elaborately choreographed dance to “Do Re Mi” from The Sound of Music as part of a reality show done at that station. It also happens to be my dad’s favorite movie.

Eating Milky Way candy bars and drinking a type of chocolate milk called Cecemel (it was similar to Yoohoo) at the neighborhood drugstore. Whenever I would get a little treat, the Cecemel drinks also came with a pennant of the members of the Belgian national team for the 1994 World Cup. I also had a little sticker book full of animals and a soccer ball with the name and pictures of the preliminary team (not everybody made the final squad).

I remember going to Belgium at least three times (1994, 2004, and 2010), although my parents told me there was a fourth one early in my childhood (again, couldn’t have been older than four). Therefore, there may be more Antwerp trips, but these are the only two I remember. I think we drove through Antwerp in 2010, but we didn’t stop for long enough to make it an “official” third trip.

The more I think about it, there were some nice parts of living there for a semester. Because of the language barrier, I had some issues at school with making friends, but I still remember some nice things about it.

2. Brussels 
Number of Times Visited: 3
Dates: Spring 1994; July-August 2004; July-August 2010

What I remember: 
Perhaps there’s also a third trip to Brussels from 1994, but I’m too young to remember that. I’ll have to ask my dad for that one. I’ll get updates on it.

The Grand Place. Also called the Grote Markt, it’s the center of Brussels. There are cobblestone streets, and many fine cafes and restaurants. I remember getting a Coke in a nearby cafe. My dad told me that in his childhood, you could put a sleeping bag on the streets and stargaze.

The Atomium. Originally built for the 1958 World’s Fair, we didn’t go inside, but still got several photos. There’s also a nearby park where we played Frisbee with family.

The nearby Waterloo battlefield. Standing atop a 141-foot hill is a statue of a lion. The fields extend for several miles.

We never really saw the NATO or EU buildings, but next time.

Comic Strip Alley. Not a lot of people know that Brussels is known as a great place for comic book artists. Tintin was created here, as were The Smurfs. They had an exhibit to Tintin the year that we went.

3. Bruges 
Number of Times Visited: 2
Dates: Spring 1994; August 2004

What I remember: 
This was closer to the end of our trip in summer 2004. Bruges – also known as Brugge – is a canal city, so there are plenty of bridges and low-lying areas.

To anybody who has seen the movie In Bruges: remember that cathedral? Oh, man. If you haven’t been there, go.

Because it’s further north than a lot of places, there tends to be a lot of fog, and it tends to have the sun set earlier than usual. There is a fairy-tale quality to certain parts of the city at night.

My dad told me there have been at least two occurrences I’ve been there, so I’ve officially changed the order from originally written.

4. Ghent
Number of Times Visited: 1
Dates: July 2004

What I remember: 
We only did a day here, but what a day it was. We went to what was called Feestedag, which is a ten-day music and arts festival that leads into Belgium’s independence day. Since it also celebrates it in July, I got to celebrate and see fireworks twice in three weeks. For those that live in Bloomington, it’s like the Lotus Festival, but longer.

There were living statues, including one of Marie Antoinette. She gave me a blushing look after I paid her and was too shy to have my picture taken. I had done it at the local farmer’s market in high school the previous year.

I can’t really say much else on this. It was still only a day.


5. Mechelen 
Number of Times Visited: 1
Dates: July-August 2010

What I remember: 
This was also a little more tempered, because there was a lot of political rhetoric at the time that could have been damaging. I kept a more guarded outlook on the city itself as a result.

We were able to rent a house for about a week or so, so we had a place to go home to every day. We had a lot of fun with the Flemish-speaking GPS – “links afslaan, daarna rechts afslaan.” (“Turn left, then turn right.”)

Watching RSC Anderlecht twice on TV in both the Champions League and domestic leagues. They lost one and won one.

Playing cards with my dad and grandma. We all played a variation of Hearts.

France (3 of 23)

1. Rennes
Number of Times: 1
Dates: July 2004

What I remember: 
My dad jogged my memory on this one. There’s a beautiful cathedral nearby, and the city streets are tight but very historic. It leads to other parts of Brittany-Normandy.

I don’t really remember doing that much, at least not in Rennes itself. This could still be on the inconclusive list, but for the time being, I’ll put it on here. I remember getting an ice cream in a Bretagne restaurant that was probably on the outskirts of town.

Apparently, there are photos of this one, so that’s as good a proof as any, I guess. I’ll keep you all updated on this.

Since we did the Brittany-Normandy leg first, I’m putting it first on this list chronologically.

2. Paris 
Number of Times Visited: 2
Dates: July 2004; March 2005

What I remember: 
What can I say? Paris is everything you imagine it to be, mostly. I was fortunate enough to go twice in eight months – once with my family, and once on a high school exchange trip.

The Eiffel Tower. Twice. The elevator was made by Otis, which was based out of Bloomington for a long time.

Montmartre and Sacré-Cœur. The latter is officially the highest point in the city. It featured a comedian and street performer who was performing for money. He bopped my dad on the head with a plastic judge’s mallet.

The second time we went, I stayed in L’Hotel California Saint-Germain. The elevator was so small, you could only fit one person and at most two pieces of luggage at a time. Needless to say, getting to and from our rooms was a little difficult.

The Louvre was okay, but not quite what I expected. You can enjoy it if you take two things into account – it’s the largest museum in the world, and as a result, everybody’s going for the Mona Lisa. Consider that it’s painted on wood and is protected by double-pane glass, so if you do go, be warned that it might not feel entirely authentic. I think all of us preferred the Musée d’Orsay.

The one place I failed to see on both occasions was Centre Pompidou. If I ever go back, this is one place that’s at the top of my list.

3. Strasbourg 
Number of Times Visited: 1
Dates: March 2005

What I remember: 
Going to Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg. It’s done as an homage to the original Notre Dame, but it’s only about 140 feet high and looks more copper in color.

The European Parliament Building. Similar to Brussels, many members of the EU commute here for committee meetings. I also have a comic book from that time called Les eaux blessés (Troubled Waters in English), about parliamentary procedure.

Incidentally enough, it was here where I connected with R.E.M. While I was in line in a sports shop buying a soccer jersey, I heard “Everybody Hurts” over the loudspeakers. I ended up listening to the album when I got home, and got hooked. The rest is history. So, merci, Strasbourg, for that.

On the second trip, I actually went to Strasbourg first, then Paris. But I’d already been there once, so I put it first.

England (2 of 19) 
1. Oxford
Number of Times Visited: 1
Dates: August 2010

What I remember: 
Going by the book standards, they divide each part of the United Kingdom into its own separate entity. So, that’s why I’m putting it as England.

My stepmom and I saw a classical concert. Many of the songs dated back to the times of Geoffrey Chaucer.

I still have the T-shirt that I bought there, and it still fits.

Chronologically, Oxford was about five days before London.

2. London 
Number of Times Visited: 1
Dates: August 2010

What I remember: 
The Horatio Nelson monument. Very hot day that day, so I’m glad there was a nearby fountain.

Buckingham Palace. We did see the guards, but didn’t get past the gate.

We didn’t officially go into the Tower of London, but got off the Tube right near it.

The arts district. I bought an Inter Milan jersey in a local shop nearby.

I also have a shirt that says “I’m Going Underground” that shows all of the routes of the metro line. Perhaps I should wear it sometime.

So, as of today’s writing (November 23, 2016), this is my list. This probably will be updated soon – hopefully. In the meantime, I’d love to see if anybody else has their own. If you have the book, or know the list, I’d love to compare, to perhaps get ideas or to confirm experiences.

All information is accurate as of November 23, 2016.

To be continued….


One thing you learn when you live the life that I do (i.e. on the spectrum), logic isn’t exactly your strong suit. I can memorize a pattern and analyze it, but I can’t seem to put together the idea that in colder temperatures, you do everything you can to stay out of them.

But what’s really so bad about that logic, or lack thereof? Contrary to popular beliefs, I do take risks. There is a method to my madness. It’s just a different madness, and as a result, a different method. For me, a risk is walking in freezing cold weather for approximately twenty blocks, in order to be on time for a major meeting. But I made it in time, or was only a few minutes late at most. I mentioned this to a person at that meeting – she knows I don’t drive, but I don’t think she or anybody else really knows the reasons behind it.

I would love to drive, although gas and insurance kind of scare me. But I don’t drive. It’s not even for financial reasons, although it is nice to not have to pay for the repairs or anything like that. I don’t drive largely because I don’t have the motor skills (literally and figuratively) to succeed at it. My hand-eye coordination and dexterity have always been problematic. Largely, I have trouble twisting and turning things, especially if they’re heavy. Surprisingly, I was pretty good at making spectacular catches when I was playing Little League. So, there it is. It’s not because it’s cheaper or that I don’t want to. It’s that I am so overcautious and can’t keep my hands from twitching when I grasp a steering wheel. It’s physical and a mental block. I can’t even do it on two wheels, let alone four. I don’t see this ever changing anytime soon.

I also am a vegetarian. Again, this is not because it’s “cool,” or even for moral reasons. It’s for dietary reason – I am a picky eater, and the consistency of foods are just as important as the taste. Is the reason why really important? I know I should change, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I’m too afraid to take risks. I don’t have the fire in my belly. I don’t want the ball when the game’s on the line. So, there it is.

I walked in the snow because I had somewhere to be. I told them that I would be there – the how was irrelevant. And, yes, it was bitter cold when I left home. I took more cautious steps to get there. I stopped whenever I could in warm spots. But I got there.

There’s a common hypothesis among many in my community – the more you let us do it our way, the more we tend to succeed. If you tell me to take a right, I’ll probably take four lefts and still get there on time. It’s not rudeness, it’s just how I operate. It’s my method. For me, it works. And if it’s not broken, why fix it?

For what it’s worth, the weather did warm up when the sun came out for a while. I had to get back to campus to meet my dad. I got there on time, and we had a productive meeting.

I don’t want to hold myself back anymore. But at the same time, there’s something about that method that serves me well. This is the conundrum I’m facing.

So, sorry, Spock. I’m not logical.

1911 World Series: The $100,000 infield

1911 was the ninth year (and eighth overall) of the World Series. It matched the defending champion Philadelphia Athletics against the New York Giants. Connie Mack would get a chance to get revenge for his loss to John McGraw six years earlier.

1911 World Series 
Philadelphia Athletics (AL) over New York Giants (NL), 4-2 

Managers: Connie Mack (Philadelphia); John McGraw (New York) 

Hall of Famers 
Philadelphia: Connie Mack (manager), Frank Baker, Charles Bender, Eddie Collins, Eddie Plank 
New York: John McGraw (manager), Rube Marquard, Christy Mathewson 
Umpires: Bill Klem, Tommy Connolly 

The Philadelphia A’s came into the 1911 World Series on a roll. They had beaten the Cubs the previous year, and had five Hall of Famers (including Connie Mack, their manager) in the lineup. This was the year that the “$100,000 infield” became famous. The number was supposed to be their combined value, back in the days when $100,000 was a lot of money. They were comprised of Stuffy McInnis (first base), Eddie Collins (second base), Frank “Home Run” Baker (third base), and Jack Barry (shortstop). Collins and Baker are both in the Hall of Fame, and the latter would cement his reputation and earn his nickname.

Led by McGraw and Mathewson, the Giants made their first World Series since 1905. They had finished in the top three several times, but had never made it back, losing controversially to the Cubs in 1908 (see the 1908 World Series post for that).

Mack-McGraw II began in the Polo Grounds on October 14. Christy Mathewson and Charles Bender went for their respective clubs. Mathewson would extend his scoreless World Series streak to 28 innings, before the A’s got a run in the second. Bender kept the Giants off the board until the bottom of the fourth, when Fred Snodgrass came home on an error by Eddie Collins. The game remained tied until the bottom of the seventh. With Bender still on the mound, Josh Devore came through with an RIB double, giving Mathewson a 2-1 lead. It was enough to hold on, and the Giants took the first game.

The second game moved to Philadelphia, with “Gettysburg” Eddie Plank, a 326-winner in his career, facing Rube Marquard. The score was tied after two innings, but Frank Baker would change that in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, Eddie Collins doubled, bringing Baker to the plate. Conventional wisdom suggested that Marquard keep the ball low on a hitter like Baker. Whether or not Marquard heeded the reports, he threw a high pitch and Baker ended up hitting a tw0-run home run, which proved to be all the margin that the A’s needed. The series was tied.

Mathewson got the ball again for the Giants. In his account of this World Series, he (or his ghostwriter, depending on whom you believe) had lambasted Marquard for his mistake. Unfortunately, Mathewson made the same mistake. The Giants were up 1-0 in the ninth, and on the verge of taking a 2-1 lead in games. But Mathewson threw a high pitch, and once again Baker made the Giants pay. To be fair, Mathewson was also victimized by his defense, who committed five errors,  but he should have done better himself. The A’s scored twice in the top of the eleventh, and held on after a Giants rally. Final score: 3-2. Momentum was back with Philadelphia.

Six straight days of rain delayed the series in between the third and fourth games. When it resumed, Mathewson was fresh again, and got the ball against Bender, a rematch of Game One. New York took an early two-run lead in the first, but the A’s showed why they were the defending champions. Three consecutive doubles and a sacrifice fly led to three runs, all earned. New York wouldn’t score for the rest of the game, with Baker driving in one ore run an inning later. Philadelphia led in the series, 3-1.

With their backs to the wall, the Giants returned to the Polo Grounds. Things looked grim when Philadelphia scored three runs on a home run, this time by Rube Oldring, facing another Rube, pitcher Marquard. With the Giants trailing 3-1 and down to their last out, relief pitcher Doc Crandall came through with a double off Jack Coombs. Devore would drive him in, and New York was still alive. The tenth inning would prove to be controversial. New York had Larry Doyle on third with one out. Fred Merkle (remember him?) was at bat, and lifted a fly ball to right. Doyle came home, and the throw was late. However, home plate umpire Bill Klem ruled that Doyle had failed to touch home plate. Since none of the A’s players, he was forced to let it stand. Philadelphia still led, three games to two.

The series returned to Philadelphia for Game Six. This time, Philadelphia got out the bats against Red Ames. Bender surrendered an early run, but Philadelphia rallied. Jack Barry laid down a sacrifice bunt, but Ames threw the ball away, allowing everybody to score, including Barry himself. Another error on a bunt in the bottom of the seventh led to a seven-run inning for the A’s, taking a 13-1 lead into the final two innings. New York would scratch across a run in the ninth, but Art Wilson grounded out to make the final inning of the game and the World Series.

The A’s avenged their loss to the Giants from six years earlier. There would be one more matchup between Mack and McGraw, their “grudge match” if you will. Philadelphia went back-to-back, the first American League team to do so.

Fun Facts 
The A’s were the first American League team to win back-to-back World Series.

As mentioned, Games Three and Four were delayed by six days of rain.

John McGraw, like many managers, was known to be superstitious. He ended up carrying a pitcher named Charles “Victory” Faust as a good luck charm, and was also rumored to have convinced his players that seeing beer barrels were good luck, as they had won eight straight games when this first happened.

Final Thoughts 
This was closer than the previous year, but not quite as good as we hoped. Home Run Baker cemented his name, Eddie Collins would prove to be as good as advertised, and a great managerial rivalry continued. Next year would introduce the Giants to a new park…and an even bigger blunder. Stay tuned…

References and Sources
Baseball Almanac
Baseball Reference
Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns
100 Years of the World Series (Eric Enders)
The Baseball Hall of Shame 4 (Bruce Nash and Alan Zullo)