Friday, January 17, 2014

John Farrell, Peter Gammons, and Tommy Harper will be among the guests at this week's SABR meeting in Boston - on MLK Day at the Baseball Tavern.  Everyone welcome.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Red Sox partner with Nexen Heroes of Korea

Here's a story I came across that I thought was pretty interesting.

S. Korean ball club Nexen Heroes reach strategic partnership with Boston Red Sox

SEOUL, Jan. 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korean baseball club Nexen Heroes announced on Monday they've reached a strategic partnership agreement with the reigning World Series champion Boston Red Sox.

The Seoul-based Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) team said its president, Lee Jang-seok, met with Allard Baird, vice president of player personnel for the Red Sox, in the South Korean capital on Sunday to ink their deal.

The Heroes noted that this is Boston's first strategic partnership with an Asian pro club.

Under the partnership, the Red Sox agreed to share their expertise in establishing and operating the farm system and in utilizing advanced metrics to analyze and evaluate players, among other operational techniques.
The Heroes said they believe Boston runs the most advanced farm system in Major League Baseball (MLB) and that they hope to learn from the best and apply their knowledge to their own minor league team.

Through the team's news release, Lee said it was an honor to be a partner with a team of such rich tradition.
"We're entering only our seventh professional season, and we have a lot to learn," Lee said. "And as we move forward, learning from Boston should help us a great deal in achieving our vision. We hope to maintain a mutually beneficial strategic partnership that can build and improve new systems and models through active exchanges."
Baird said the Red Sox had been seeking a potential partner in Asia for the past two years and felt the Heroes' brand of aggressive and dynamic baseball fell in line with Boston's philosophy.

Baird added the Red Sox are also hoping to learn what they can from South Korean baseball.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Wondering what this 1901 Boston Americans book looks like?

Snappy cover by Gilly Rosenthol:

And here, courtesy of the Boston Public Library, is a photograph of catcher Osee Schrecongost of the 1901 Boston Americans.
Did I mention before that the 1901 Boston Americans book is out?   This book covers the very first year of the Red Sox franchise.

Here's some of the introduction:

1901 - The First Year of the Boston Red Sox

It all had to start someplace. The team was known as the Boston Americans at first, to differentiate them from Boston’s venerable National League team.  But even just a few months before their first game, it was uncertain there truly would be a team - and on top of that, they didn’t have a park in which to play. They didn’t become the Red Sox until December 1907.

The team’s first owner – at least on paper – was Charles Somers, but pretty much everyone knew who truly owned the team (and, for that matter, the American League.)  That was Ban Johnson. 

It all happened very quickly, almost unbelievably quickly. Just a few months before 1901 Opening Day there was no American League team designated for Boston. For that matter, the American League itself was more a draft plan than a true rival league. The speed with which league architect Ban Johnson built on the framework he had is breathtaking to recount. Somers was key. As Fred Schuld notes in his biography of Somers, the man was known as the “good angel of the American League” for his financial backing of Johnson and his crucial support in launching at least four of the eight teams in the league: Cleveland, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston. The placement of a team in Boston to go up against the National League’s Boston Beaneaters came relatively late in the process of founding the new league. Initially, as Johnson’s vision began to take shape, there had been no plan to field a team in Boston. A franchise was planned for Buffalo but with only months to go before the season would open, Johnson decided to go head-to-head in Boston instead, and once he did, he acted fast.

Boston was the eighth and final city selected as home for a club in the new American League. And once they decided to take on the National League in Boston, they had to find a place where they could play. Only by finding an appropriate site for a baseball field would the American League truly decide to place a team in Boston. Had Johnson and his associates not found a good location, the league would have placed its eighth club in either Buffalo or Indianapolis.

As he relied on Somers to help, Ban Johnson also enlisted Connie Mack’s help in creating the American League - and Mack was initially involved in one way or another with not only his own Philadelphia Athletics, but also with the Boston team. In turn, Connie Mack looked to John S. Dooley and Hugh Duffy for assistance.

The story, as Dooley set it down, went thus: In the fall of 1900, Johnson came to Boston to see if it were feasible to situate a charter American League franchise in a city already known for its passionate interest in baseball. He set up shop in the Old South building on Washington Street and sought out veteran baseball man Hugh Duffy, holding a number of meetings with him. Dooley was an enthusiast of the game and active in business in Boston. He sat in on a few of the meetings. Lining up the players would be easier than finding a suitable location for the ballpark. Duffy had previously considered a position as a principal with a group which could have frustrated any A.L. effort – a proposed American Association team to be placed across the river from Boston in Cambridge in an attempt to fend off an American League incursion. SABR researcher Doug Pappas found that the National League’s Arthur Irwin had leased the Cambridge property in a pre-emptive move to try and keep out the upstart league, but the lease was structured such that it would expire if the property were sold. Duffy declined to join the effort to head off the A.L., arguing, “The grounds are too far out. They are in Cambridge and will not draw from Boston. Harvard students might patronize the club, but that is about all.”[i]

“I recall Peter Kelley, an old newspaper man, calling on me at my office,” Dooley wrote in a brief account he typed up. Kelley was calling on behalf of Cleveland’s Charles Somers, designated as the first president of the Boston American League club. Kelley himself “had an option on the old bicycle track across the Charles River in Cambridge, on a lease calling for a yearly rental of $5,000.”[ii] Mack and Clark Griffith had recommended the Cambridge location, but neither Johnson nor Duffy found it attractive. Johnson didn’t want a Boston team playing anywhere but in Boston. He kept that sentiment to himself, sharing it only with the small circle of men trying to help situate the team.

A location deemed more suitable, however, was a site on Huntington Avenue controlled by the Boston Elevated Railway Company. Duffy showed the site to Peter Kelley and they both recommended it to Johnson. Dooley recalled Durand Associates as the actual owners of the land, but they had leased it to the railway, which had envisioned building a terminal there. The car barn was no longer the cards, but the railway was holding out for a $10,000 a year rental.

Dooley was at the time working for the firm of J. R. Prendergast, brokers in cotton goods and yarn with offices at 87 Milk Street. Prendergast’s brother Daniel was in charge of the real estate department of the Boston Elevated. Dooley learned that the terminal plan was off – it turned out there was an ordinance that prevented the construction of car barns on the land which, even though it had served as a dump, was still across the street from the opera house. He urged Duffy and Kelley to approach Dan Prendergast, offer $5,000 a year “and mention my name. Under no conditions, I said, were they to go higher than $5,000.”
The offer was, Dooley said, “violently refused” and Daniel Prendergast called Dooley to complain about the “measly rental” the men had offered. “If you want my advice,” Dooley says he told Prendergast, “I’d grab that $5,000 offer because they can get that wonderful site in Cambridge for that figure. You’d better grab them right now before they close with Cambridge.”

Prendergast took the bit and a deal was struck. Dooley later told the Boston Post’s Gerry Hern, “I suppose I should be a little sorry for what I did to get the American League in here, but when I sit in Fenway Park these days, I figure maybe the good Lord will forgive me. It was in a good cause.”

In 1956, Gerry Hern of the Boston Post wrote, “More than anyone, Jack Dooley is responsible for the American League obtaining the Huntington ave. grounds as their playing field.”[iii] Had Dooley not helped out, there might never have been a Boston Red Sox. The February 2, 1901 issue of The Sporting News records the formal awarding of a Boston franchise to Somers. Three weeks later, the February 23 Sporting Life reported that Somers had said the American League would never have invaded Boston if the National League had acceded to its original request for recognition as a major league.

Boston it was, and just a little more than three months after the Boston franchise was announced, the Boston Americans were playing baseball at their first home: the Huntington Avenue Grounds.

[i] Boston Herald, January 29, 1901.
[ii] Dooley’s papers were made available to the author by his daughter Katherine Dooley in 2001.
[iii] Boston Post, May 13, 1956.