Saturday, November 22, 2008

Burleigh Grimes: A Look Back

We learned this week that Mike Mussina has decided to retire after winning 20 games last season for the Yankees. Barring a change of heart, this leaves Moose with 270 career victories - tied with Burleigh Grimes for 33rd all time.

Our pal Sarge from Wrigleyville23 told me that I should check out Burleigh Grimes, because his story would be of great interest to our Wisconsin readers. Intrigued, I hopped onto the information superhighway to learn more about Grimes.

The highlights:
  • Grimes was born in Emerald Wisconsin. I discovered that Emerald is located in St. Croix County, which is basically in Minnesota.
  • Grimes pitched in the major leagues from 1916 to 1934 for 7 different teams.
  • Grimes was the last pitcher allowed to legally throw the spitball. I was confused by this, but apparently the spitball was banned in 1920 but he was one of 17 established pitchers who was allowed to keep throwing the pitch. This is kind of like banning steroids, but allowing Barry Bonds to continue using them. So Grimes got to keep throwing the spitter for 14 more years until he retired.
  • Grimes' nickname was "Ol' Stubblebeard" because he never shaved on days that he pitched.
  • He was also nicknamed "Boiley" because he was well known for beaning any hitter who dug into the batter's box when facing him.
  • Burleigh was an ornery SOB - he once threw at an opposing hitter...in the on-deck circle.
  • Quotes from Grimes - "I was a real bastard when I played"
  • Quotes about Grimes - "The only time I was ever scared in my life was one time when Burleigh threw at me on a 3-and-0 count." (Frankie Frisch)
  • Grimes was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in 1964.
  • Grimes died in Clear Lake, Wisconsin at the age of 92.

My research also uncovered a fantastic game story published in 1920. Google "Burleigh Grimes Times" and you'll find it - 4th result. I'm telling you, if newspaper reporters still wrote like this, I'd read more newspapers.

Those Dodgers think thay have a chance to cop the bunting. They play like it anyway. They acted yesterday like money players, as if spurred on by some big incentive. It was gingery ball they played, and gingery ball is what is needed to get the big October coin.

[Translation: The Dodgers have stones, and you need stones to play in October.]

And...

Burleigh Grimes was the big gun yesterday, and Burleigh pitched a classic of a game. He allowed four hits, and four hits, according to ordinary standards, do not constitute a generous allowance. Burleigh also saw to it that the hits were not placed in conjunction so that they could do any harm in producing runs. It needed the Burns and several other detective agencies to find where Burleigh's curves were going to break. They always broke in just the sort of way to prevent any sort of proper analysis by the batter.

[Translation: Grimes was dealing, scattering 4 hits with a devastating curveball (or spitter?)]

And...

Zack had a poor date at bat. True, he made two triples and a double, but what is that? The other time he came up he grounded out, which is no way to behave at all. A man who can't make four hits in four times at bat ought to have the riot act read to him.

[Translation: I'm a 1920's reporter, and I can be sarcastic when I feel like it.]

And...

As for the Phillies, they never had a Chinaman's chance any inning at all, the way Burleigh Grimes was going.

[Translation: Somebody needs a refresher course in racial sensitivity.]

4 comments:

Lance's Other Nut said...

A Chinaman's chance...

That is not the preferred nomenclature.

1920s racism, awesome.

Wrigleyville said...

and yet we can still say frechman, englishman, canadianmen, and german.

life isn't fair.

D'Amico's one good year said...

Matt and WV-

Thank you for this. Awesome post, awesome suggestion.

If only Haudricourt or Hunt wrote like that for Brewer's games. The blunt, entertaining insensitivty would be awesome.

Been Cobra'd said...

That is just good times.

Thanks for this post.