Thursday, March 22, 2012

Game 22, April 30, 1924

Another quick posting here just to get caught up. So in the 22nd game of the year, the second game of the fourth series, the Seattle Indians dropped another one. This time they gave the nameless reporter of the Seattle Daily Times another chance to expound on his idea that to win, you have to hit in bunches. That is, string together hits, move the runners along. And really, that's true. That was the basics of dead-ball strategy, and it goes by different names these days, small ball for instance, but essentially that's baseball. In a nutshell. Of sorts. The Indians out-hit the honeycomb of hitters the Bees brought to the ballpark, but couldn't convert those bases to runs.

This one went down 5 to 3, Salt Lake taking the victory. Looks like from the column description that LaZerre, or Tony Lazzeri as he has become known to history, was picking up his defensive game with a nice throw to home plate. The 60 home runs he would hit next year would be an historic achievement. He would, of course, go on to great things with the New York Yankees. Although that team already had Babe Ruth and Bob Meusel, the team that would be soon known as one of the greatest ever was about to form. Lou Gehrig was playing his first full season of pro ball in Hartford with the Eastern League, and 1924 was the rookie year for Earle Combs. Lazzeri would arrive in 1926 go to 7 World Series in the next 11 years, winning 5. He would mostly bat 5th or 6th. However, he was good enough in 1930 that he replaced Lou Gehrig at cleanup for a few weeks. Well, maybe it was more Gehrig slumping.

So, I digress, now the Indians are once again flirting with the basement, but soon would make their charge.
The starting lineup was the standard in the 1 through 7 holes. Frank Tobin was the catcher and Suds Sutherland pitched for the Indians. Jimmy Welsh picked up another at-bat, pinch hitting for Tobin in the 7th inning, and then Earl Baldwin worked behind the plate to finish out the game for the Indians.
I've included some extra scans below from the front sports page of the Seattle Daily Times for this days reporting. The Times had acquired a nice long range camera that year, and was now able to do really nice photo essays, bringing fans closer to the action. At this time, advances in wireless and wired telegraphy, photography, and printing processes, created what we know today as the mass media. The Times named their camera 'Aunt Eppie', for some reason I don't know. But, as I wrote in a previous posting where they premiered its usage, I believe its related to a character in a comic by Fontaine Fox.
Anyway, here we see reports about French boxer George Carpentier and, below that, a far more important article. If you are interested about the intersection of race and sports in American society, the way the potential Jack Dempsey/Harry Wills fight played out is an education unto itself. You can see in the column there are two conflicting reports.
This story will play out over the summer. But, I should point out, all of these stories have race as an underlying subject. After all, the team is called the Indians. We could almost look at that history as the aspirations of race played out in the dialogue about the integration of baseball while the reality of race played out in the boxing ring. 
Of course, what we need to think about then is what does the competitiveness and the desire to see a good fight by the fans represent something of the character of America? Or the rest of the world? After all, no one denies the exclusionary aspects of racism, but think for a bit about those who integrate, if even for only dollars? The Tex Rickards of the world, or the fans who didn't care as long as the punches being thrown were the best? As we look at history, we must be careful to not overemphasize the negative, because that is simply projection.

The reality is, when Jack Johnson beat Jim Jeffries, it was the people in power who were scared. The match itself happened because the marketplace demanded Johnson's aspirations be fulfilled. Of course, we can't ignore what happened to Johnson afterwards, but lets not forget those events did not occur in the arenas and gambling dens. Racism requires a fixed outcome. The free market doesn't. In a free market, which is of course not freedom, the value of the object being exchanged is simply free to move up and down. Then of course there's the racist free market, but that's another story entirely.

By that I mean, there's the apparent market, but its actually fixed at the outset through advantages that maintain the fixed position which power desires or rather necessitates so that it may continue to exist. I think what we actually see over time in resistance and revolution is the gradual alteration. The exchange price of freedom moves slowly through history, but it moves. Some of these ideas were best expressed by a study that was done starting in 1924 by Robert and Helen Lynd. Remember, its always back to 1924. The results of this study would be published in 1929. The Lynd's focused on Muncie, Indiana. Mainly, they developed the idea that social institutions functioned as buffers which maintained apparent rightness of our social structures.

The institutions, our political parties and machines, churches, schools, social clubs, etc., create a resistance to change.  This, of course, includes the newspapers. Marxist theoreticians had similar ideas. The Middletown studies were seen by Marxists to confirm the views held by Gramsci, and further back, to Engels. Engels idea at the root of this was that there was a false consciousness which functioned to keep the proletariat and working classes from realizing their revolutionary potential. It was this idea, expanded by Gramsci as the concept of ideological hegemony and then elucidated by the Lynd's as social institutional buffers, that attempted to explain why the working classes essentially remained as such. That is, when things didn't change, an explanation was needed to explain the lack of change.
Of course, things did change. It just took a lot longer. Eventually, baseball would have to change. However, when baseball integrated, it also wiped out the Negro Leagues as the best players in those teams gradually integrated into professional minor leagues owned and organized by interests related to Major League Baseball. Then the mere fact of integration became the 'apparent' equality or nature of the system. That freedom had happened. Something else though, African-American ownership of its baseball teams had disappeared. Real integration would have been to include a minority owned team.

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