A Bouncing Bundle of Baseball Thoughts

By | March 15, 2010

(I know what you are thinking, “Hey, didn’t you say less sports, more randomness over here? I don’t want to keep reading about baseball, basketball, and pro wrestling. Jeez.”

Patience, young grasshopper. You will be rewarded.)

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Last month, I faced a big dilemma. I received my last issue in my subscription to Baseball Digest. I have been getting Baseball Digest since late 1986, since I was 9 years old and the magazine featured Sid Fernandez and Mike Scott.

Recently, however, the powers that be at Baseball Digest have changed the magazine quite a bit. It not only looks different, but they also only publish six times a year, instead of monthly as they have for 60 years. And they started including articles on fantasy baseball. I seriously thought about not renewing. It wasn’t the same magazine.

But I renewed for one more year. We’ll see after that.

Anyway, my latest issue featured their annual necrology, or list of all the baseball-related people who died in the past 365 days. I’ve written before about my odd fascination with the Baseball Digest necrology. I don’t know why, but I read all the obituaries in the article, all 30 of them.

This year, inspired by the Nick Adenhart tragedy, Baseball Digest published a sidebar article with list of players who died while active in their baseball careers. They listed players such as Joe Kennedy, Darryl Kile, Steve Olin, and of course, Roberto Clemente.

(Here is a similar list in the ESPN.com archives. There are a few names not on the Baseball Digest list.)

Surprisingly, there were a lot of names I never heard of. And a few ballplayers who died from some really strange causes.

Did you know in 1932, Red Sox pitcher Ed Morris was killed during a fight at a Florida fish fry?

Did you know Reds catcher Willard Hersberger committed suicide in 1940 after “blaming himself for two consecutive Cincinnati defeats”?

And finally, in 1935, Brooklyn Dodgers outfielder Len Koenecke was killed when he was hit in the head by a fire extinguish swung by an airplane pilot while the flight was in the air. Apparently, soon after take off, Koenecke began interfering with the duties of the pilot and co-pilot. There was an in-flight scuffle and Koenecke was subdued in the most violent of manners.

(TheDeadballEra.com has all the newspaper clippings from the incident posted on their site. I highly recommend taking a look. Actually that whole site is phenomenal. It is entirely dedicated to the deaths of baseball players.)

Whereas we still lose the ballplayers to heart attacks, car accidents, or the occasional gun shot, I doubt we will see another tragedy like Len Koenecke’s for a long time.

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Thought #2:

Is there a correlation between bad teams and lack of home runs during the steroid era (approximately 1990-2004)?

Did the teams with the worst records during the steroid era have the lowest home runs per season average?

I’m sure I could do the research, but I’m guessing the best teams during that era hit the most home runs. Teams like the Pirates, Royals, (Devil) Rays, and probably even the Mets lacked the budget or front office smarts to benefit from the steroid era. During a time when marginal semi-stars such as Bret Boone and Todd Hundley were considered legitimate power hitters, smart teams had to know something was going on. Teams like the Yankees had the wallet and the wherewithal to take advantage and sign numerous chemically enhanced sluggers.

I’m guessing  there was a clear relationship between home runs and wins during the steroid era. Since home runs equaled wins, and steroids equaled home runs, those teams who did not win regularly between 1990 and 2004 probably didn’t have too many players who were on the cheating side of science.

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3 thoughts on “A Bouncing Bundle of Baseball Thoughts

  1. Bill Werther

    Len Koenecke died in a bizarre way. Still, I think getting eaten by an Orca Whale is even more bizarre…Personally I want to be the first person to live forever and so far I am in the running for that so I have that going for me.

  2. Jordi Scrubbings Post author

    The problem with being the oldest living person is you usually die. Hopefully you can get the rules changed on that.

  3. Brian

    A thought on Thought #2 – three of the teams that didn’t have a player hit 40 homeruns in a season for long stretches of time (or ever) were the Pirates, Royals, and (Devil) Rays. (Also, the Twins, Orioles, and a couple others I can’t remember offhand.) Food for thought.

    Also, I met the guy who does The Deadball Era when I worked in New York. I am pleased to report that he was just as odd as you’d expect somebody who writes a web site chronicling baseball player deaths to be.

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