“*gets hit by lightning* *chugs a beer* Don’t worry guys, I’m good.”
Most history curriculums are pretty bad at telling us about the crazy things that have actually happened in the world, if you think about it. Sure, McCarthyism during the Cold War is “something we should know” but how come no one talks about the time we tried to build a military base on the moon in 1959? Hell, even when history tries to get edgy (like, for instance, the existence of Teddy Roosevelt) it somehow manages to leave out some of the best parts (like how his daughter was a pet-snake keeping badass). This goes double for history. We know about Babe Ruth and his philandering, boozy ways, but we don’t know about the pure insanity that was Charlie Sweeney. Likewise, everyone and their mother knows at least the name “Cy Young” when it comes to pitchers, but was Cy Young an alcoholic who once was struck by lightning during a game that he stayed in and finished? We didn’t think so.
So we here at America Fun Fact of the Day have decided to do history a favor and help them spice things up a bit by telling you a little bit about Ray Caldwell, one of the most badass pitchers to ever play professional baseball, and one of the few people who can give Charlie Sweeney a run for his money.
Ray Caldwell: The Alcoholic Lightning Rod of Major League Baseball
“Even to make love, you need experience.”
~Pedro Ramos, 54-year-old pitcher for the Senior Professional Baseball Association. Seriously.
As a nation, we have more options for live sporting events then we know what to do with. Between high school, college, and professional levels of football, baseball, basketball, and sure, hockey, Americans could conceivably see a live sporting event every single day of the year without even having to consider lowering themselves to watch a Major League Soccer match. But with so many games at our disposal, we’ve reached a bit of a saturation point, and trying to add another league to the market is practically impossible. Remember the XFL? A multi-millionaire tried to make a new football league, and even with a player named “He Hate Me” basically got laughed out of existence in less than a year.
It’s hard to start a sporting league now and really get enough interest to keep it in existence. Never was that more obvious than in 1989 when real-estate millionaire Jim Morley decided to start the Senior Professional Baseball Association. What’s the SPBA, you ask? Well, unfortunately for those of us that have to type it out, they didn’t call it that. It went by “The Senior League.” But the Senior League was a short lived (it lasted one-and-a-half seasons) winter professional baseball league that took place entirely in Florida with players who had to be older than 35 (except the catchers, who could be 32). And it is probably one of the most delightfully batshit leagues to have ever been played in these United States. So let’s go on a history lesson, shall we?
The History of the Senior Professional Baseball Association
“Listen, we’re just sort of winging this as we go along.”
~1800s Major League Baseball Commissioners
We’ve been talking a lot about baseball in the past several months, which comes as a bit of a surprise considering that the sport is a topic we have very rarely discussed over the past four years. Yes, it’s America’s Pastime, but it’s also kind of boring from an outside perspective. But we stumbled upon something when looking up the silliest Major League Baseball team names that we could find during their early years—before baseball was a bankable commodity, they pretty much let anyone pick up a bat and play for (not much) money. That led to crazy ballplayers, goofy names, and that one time where a guy got paid a full professional baseball salary to show up to an empty stadium every day and play himself in a disbanded league.
Baseball during the 19th, and somewhat during the start of the 20th, century was at times hilariously inept, completely marginalized, and interesting as fuck. So we’re going to look into our high tech time machine (read as: Googling shit while drunk) to bring you another chapter from the early annals of America’s most interesting sport that involves players standing still for the majority of each game.
The National League Blacklisting of 1881
Posted in All things baseball, American Heroes, Athletes
Tagged 19th century baseball, America, Baseball, Blacklist of 1881, Buttercup Dickerson, Emil Gross, Lip Pike, Major League Baseball, Mike Dorgan, MLB, MLB Blacklist, National Association, National League, Pete Rose, Sadie Houck, The Only Nolan, William Hulbert
“Trust us, it’s much more exciting when you’ve gotten a few drinks in you.”
~MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred
Baseball is America’s pastime, mainly because it was the first sport to establish itself here so it kind of called dibs. It’s the same reason why we call the moon the “Neil Armstrong Sphere in the Sky” but we’re willing to allow it because baseball has given us a rich history that’s tied to everything we love about being American, included but not limited to 19th century pitchers getting kicked off their team for pitching a game drunk and then leaving the stadium with prostitutes.
In the modern era, however, baseball tends to fall by the wayside in terms of popularity when compared to your more concussiony sports out there. Part of it is the fact that baseball is, at its heart, a 3 hour event with a pace of play that we would be generous in describing as “cerebral.” A day out at the ballpark is a right of passage for Americans, and a relaxing way to get shitfaced on beers while eating whatever the fuck the stadium tries to toss your way, but everything sort of melds together in a season of 162 games where your team is almost always playing. It’s a grind, and many would rather watch 16 high-importance games played out over a season than a thousand innings where even historically good teams can count on losing 60 games while their fans who have shitty tastes in food shout to anyone that can hear them about how they, not you, are the Best Fans In Baseball™.
All that changes in the playoffs, however, when stakes are raised and the sport that we grew up mumbling “yeah I guess I like it” about actually becomes one of the best sources of sports drama in all of America. So, in a rare case of being super topical, we’re going to give you a preview of the National League Championship Series between the New York Mets and the Chicago Cubs. For those of you who root for the American League, well fuck off we’re not doing a preview for that series because the Blue Jays are not American and if we wanted to write about Canadian professional sports we’d become a hockey blog.
So now, without further adieu…
America’s Official* 2015 NLCS Preview
Posted in All things baseball, Athletes
Tagged 2015 NLCS, 2015 NLDS, America, Anthony Rizzo, Baseball, Chicago Cubs, Chicago Mets, Jake Arrieta, Joe Maddon, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Major League Baseball, NLDS, pizza series, Terry Collins, Wilmer Flores, Yoenis Cespedes
“Heh, guys, remember Dickie Flowers? AHHH HA HA HA.”
~AFFotD Editor-in-Chief, Johnny Roosevelt
A few weeks back, we posted an article where we dug around the annals of Major League Baseball lore for the all-important purpose of laughing at silly names. And ho boy, were there a lot of silly names to be found. So many in fact that we couldn’t stick with just a single article. Yes, there are more names that, either by a lack of parental foresight or the wanton cruelty of their teammates, are hilarious to our perpetually adolescent minds. Sure, a lot of them are nicknames, but this was during a time where a player’s nickname actually went on his box score. These people are remembered by as having these names, which we find delightful, because these names are goofy as shit.
More of the Goofiest Baseball Player Names Of The 19th Century
“You can just call me Wild Bill. Holy shit, wait, you’re actually going to do that?”
~Wild Bill Widner
We’ve talked about early baseball, and especially baseball in the 19th century, here before. Simply put, the 1800s were a lawless time in a lot of ways, and professional baseball was definitely included in that list. Hell, back then, foul balls didn’t count as strikes, in 1879 it took 9 balls to get a walk, and people wouldn’t even play with a glove so errors were almost more common than hits.
Now, these oddball rules were the result of a new sport coming into its own, which was a trying process for both owners and players. Teams and even Leagues folded overnight, and the salary a professional baseball player could hope for was about as high as you’d expect from someone placed in this tenuous position. So while the quality of play was, by modern comparison, pretty shitty, the 19th century did have us beat in one very significant field.
The ridiculousness of their names and nicknames. Nowhere does baseball offer more accidental hilarity than with the names that players, who though underpaid were professional athletes, went by. These are names that fans chanted (or like, respectfully muttered to each other, we know that people wore fancy hats to baseball games back then so maybe it was a more refined affair at the time) and that are forever linked in the history books of the game as these people’s identities.
And there are some doozies of identities here. So no more backswallash (Is that a 19th century word or did we just write gibberish?) let’s dive into some of these names.
The Goofiest Baseball Player Names Of The 19th Century
Posted in All things baseball, Athletes, Strange America
Tagged America, Baseball, Candy Cummings, Dickie Flowers, Goofy names, Ice Box Chamberlain, Lady Baldwin, Major League Baseball, MLB, Pussy Tebeau, Silly Names
“Let’s go Stogies! No wait that can’t be right, can it? We’re not honestly called that, right?”
~Pittsburgh Stogies fans
A few weeks back, we talked to you about some late 19th and early 20th century professional baseball team names that we felt were, frankly, kind of ridiculous. We’ve not always been great at naming teams, and well, considering the Phillies we’re still not that great at naming teams, but we’ve at least phased out the worst offenders. From the Columbus Solons to the Cincinnati Kelly’s Killers, there are a whole slew of defunct major league baseball teams that had laughable, absurd names, and some of them even managed to not be from Ohio.
That said, as ridiculous as those names were, they weren’t the only ones out there. So we combed through the history of major league baseball to find some more hilarious names, because we’re easily amused when drunk.
More of the Silliest Major League Baseball Team Names of All Time
Posted in All things baseball, Athletes, Strange America
Tagged America, Baseball, baseball team names, Brooklyn Tip-Tops, Federal League, Hartford Dark Blues, Major League Baseball, MLB, Newark Peppers, Pittsburgh Stogies, Rupert Mills, Silly Names, St. Louis Terriers, Troy Trojans, Union Association, Wilmington Quicksteps
“Boring? What are you talking about? Baseball is exciting!”
~Baseball fan on his fourth beer
Photo from Moose135 Photography
Baseball is our national pastime in the same way that many of our “best friends” are people we were close with in elementary school who we only get to see every couple of years ever since they moved to the West Coast. We still say it’s our most iconic sport, but if we’re being really honest with ourselves we’ve liked watching football better for some time now. As society makes “sitting still for three hours for a game where everyone just stands still doing nothing for the vast majority of the time” an increasingly difficult source of entertainment to get excited about (though we do our best to make it worthwhile through alcohol and insane food) it’s important to remember that baseball hasn’t always been the dusty icon it is now.
It used to be much, much sillier. Don’t believe us? Just look at some of the teams that existed during the early years of Major League Baseball. These are teams that people paid money to watch, and actively claimed to root for. The 19th century and early 20th century were hilarious, basically. So before you can even say “What is a Met, really?” let us present you with…
The Silliest Major League Baseball Team Names of All Time
Posted in All things baseball, Strange America
Tagged America, Baseball, Brooklyn Bridegrooms, Cincinnati Kelly's Killers, Columbus Solons, Lee Richmond, Los Angeles Dodgers, Major League Baseball, Mike King Kelly, MLB, Mutual Base Ball Club of New York, Silly Names, Toledo Maumees, Worcester Worcesters
“You can’t get butts in the seat without a gimmick!”
As covered a few days ago, baseball and insane hot dogs go together like serial killers and women who send love letters to various prisons who have a lot of issues they need to work out. We should tease out that comparison a little bit more, but we’re not going to. Anyway, the point we think we’re trying to make is that, stadiums like to ply baseball fans with booze and food because while baseball can be boring, if you’re drunk and full, you won’t really mind. This has led to a recent explosion in creative, intense, and, well, insane hot dogs throughout the baseball world. And while we’ve talked about hot dogs in Major League Baseball stadiums already, that was really us going easy on the rest of you. Because Minor League Baseball only sustains itself through the unfulfillable dreams of thousands of minimum wage athletes, and ridiculous ballpark gimmicks. If you think of it, Minor League baseball has probably done it! Smash a printer like in the movie Office Space!? Sure! Dress a dog as the bat boy? Why not! Live amputation on the field? Jesus Christ, no, what the living hell is wrong with you!?
Anyway, if you thought that the last article we had about crazy hot dogs, well…no that was pretty crazy. But check this shit out too!
The Craziest Hot Dogs in Professional Baseball (Minor League Edition)
Posted in America's Culinary Treats, American Sausage Series, Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, Steaks, The American Sandwich Series
Tagged America, Baseball, Corpus Christi Hooks, el Baso Chihuahuas, Eugene Emeralds, Hot Dog, hot dogs, Major League Baseball, Memphis Meets Mexico Juarez Dog, Minor League Baseball, MLB, Rochester Red Wings, The Babe, The Seenie Donut Dog, Tony Soprano Dog, VooDoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Brat, Voodoo Doughnuts, Wilmington Blue rocks