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The Baseball: Stunts, Scandals, and Secrets Beneath the Stitches (Anglais) Broché – 8 mars 2011


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Chapter 1
The Souvenir Craze

 "BALL GRABBERS, READ THIS"

Way back in 1915, a first-class stamp cost two cents, a gallon of gas went for a quarter, and a game-used baseball fetched three bucks. At least, that was the going rate at the Polo Grounds when a Yankee fan named Guy Clarke snagged one in the left-field bleachers, got arrested for refusing to return it, and had to pay a $3 fine. That was a lot of money back then, but we're not talking about any old ball. It was a ninth-inning home run hit by Yankees shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh against the Boston Red Sox. Considering what that ball would sell for today, it was totally worth it. The editors at the New York Times, however, didn't see it that way, and on May 8, 1915—one day after the incident—the paper ran a short article called "Ball Grabbers, Read This." It was a warning, and the message was clear: if you steal a baseball, you're gonna get busted.

This was old news.

And it wasn't entirely true.

Clarke was just one of the unlucky few who got prosecuted; fans had been snapping up baseballs for years, and by 1915 more than two dozen balls were disappearing at the Polo Grounds each week. Yeah, these balls were expensive—owners were paying $15 per dozen—but beyond the financial burden, it didn't really matter. If a few balls were lost here and there, the home plate umpire simply replaced them.

That's not how things worked when the National League formed in 1876. High-quality balls were so scarce that each one was expected to last an entire game, and if the ball went missing, the players went looking for it. As a result, fans policed themselves whenever a ball landed in the crowd and made sure that it was returned. It had to be. There was no room for debate. But when foul balls flew completely over the grandstand and landed outside the ballpark, they were much harder to recover. These balls were often grabbed by little kids who didn't have enough money to buy tickets, so teams came up with a solution: anyone who returned a ball got to watch the game for free.

This reward system was effective at first, but kids eventually began to value the ball more than the opportunity to watch grown men play with it. (Can you blame them?) On June 1, 1887, Toronto World reported that "fifteen balls were knocked over the left field fence at Buffalo Monday and were stolen by bad boys." In other words, teams weren't just losing balls during games; kids were taking them during batting practice as well. What began as a nuisance—a missing ball every once in a while—was turning into an epidemic.

On May 1, 1897, The Sporting News declared that "the souvenir craze" was affecting games in the South. In 1899 the Washington Senators hired a group of boys to retrieve baseballs. By 1901 teams were spending so much money on balls that the National League Rules Committee suggested penalizing batters who fouled off good pitches. On May 2, 1902, the Detroit Free Press said, "Baseballs that go into the stands at St. Louis are hopelessly lost, the man who first gets his hands on the flying sphere clinging to it." Sometime around 1903, it was rumored that on one occasion when a fan at the Polo Grounds refused to return a ball, John McGraw, the Hall of Fame manager of the New York Giants, retaliated by stealing the guy's hat.

Major League Baseball took action the following season by officially giving teams the right to retrieve balls that were hit into the stands. This new measure worked in some cases, but for the most part all it did was piss off the fans and make them more determined than ever not to cooperate.

In 1905 a Cubs fan named Samuel Scott was arrested in Chicago after catching a foul ball and refusing to hand it over to an usher. Cubs president James Hart personally confronted him and signed a larceny complaint, but the charges were dropped the next day when Scott, a member of the Board of Trade, threatened to sue for assault and false arrest.

Things got progressively worse from there.

"Brooklynites seem to prize highly balls which go into the bleachers," reported the New York Tribune in 1908.

"Women are as bad as men about stealing baseballs; they aren't so skillful in hiding them," said baseball manufacturer Tom Shibe in 1911.

"The practice of concealing balls fouled into the grandstand or bleachers has reached disgusting proportions in New York," claimed Sporting Life magazine in 1915.

Cubs owner Charles Weeghman felt otherwise. He recognized the foul ball frenzy as a business opportunity—a chance to bring more folks to the ballpark—and on April 29, 1916, he began letting fans keep the foul balls they caught. Two and a half months later, the Phillies' business manager billed Weeghman for eight baseballs that were hit into the stands during BP, but that was the price of good PR. The October 1916 issue of Baseball magazine praised Weeghman in a lengthy staff editorial. "The charm of novelty, of possible gain might lure far more spectators than enough to pay for the lost balls," it said. "At any rate, Mr. Weeghman evidently thinks so. For he has recently inaugurated this common-sense policy in his park at Chicago."

Other owners just didn't get it.

"Why should a man carry away an object worth $2.50 just because he gets his hands on it?" asked Colonel "Cap" Huston, part-owner of the Yankees. "When people go to a restaurant, do they take the dishes or silverware home for souvenirs?"

Most teams generously donated used balls to servicemen during World War I, but continued bullying the regular fans.

Enter Reuben Berman.

On May 16, 1921, Berman, a 31-year-old stockbroker from Connecticut, caught a foul ball during a Reds-Giants game at the Polo Grounds,and when the ushers demanded that he return it, he responded by tossing it deeper into the crowd. Berman was whisked away by security personnel, taken to the team offices, threatened with arrest, and ejected from the stadium. Giants management figured that was the end of it, but nearly three months later Berman's attorney served the team with legal papers, claiming that his client had been unlawfully detained and had suffered mental anguish and a loss of reputation. The case was tried in New York's Supreme Court, and Berman was awarded $100—far less than the $20,000 sum originally sought by his attorney, but the message was delivered.

"Reuben's Rule" (as it came to be known) was the real turning point, although change didn't happen all at once. Several owners still refused to give in, and as a result, there were a few more high-profile clashes between fans and security personnel. The most outrageous incident took place in 1923, when an 11-year-old boy named Robert Cotter was arrested and thrown in jail for pocketing a ball at the Baker Bowl in Philadelphia. The following day he was released by a sympathetic judge who said, "Such an act on the part of a boy is merely proof that he is following his most natural impulses. It is a thing I would do myself."

Seven years later in Chicago, with Weeghman long gone as Cubs owner, there was another ugly incident involving a young fan. Arthur Porto, age 17, caught a Hack Wilson foul ball and brawled with stadium security when they tried to take it from him. He and his two friends, who had joined the scuffle, were booked for disorderly conduct. The next day in court the judge dismissed the charges and ruled that a ball hit into the crowd belongs "to the boy who grabs it."

There were still a few more altercations in the 1930s,and during World War II teams once again donated balls to the armed forces.During that time fans were asked to return whatever they snagged, but that was the end of it. Ballhawking bliss, along with a whole new set of controversies, was about to begin.

STEVE BARTMAN

Steve Bartman is responsible for the biggest ball-related controversy in history. Most sports fans know his name, but few are aware of the entire wacky aftermath. The original incident occurred on October 13,2003—Game 6 of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field. It was the top of the eighth inning. One out. Runner on second base. The Cubs were beating the Marlins, 3-0, and needed just five more outs to advance to the World Series. They hadn't been there since 1945. They hadn't won it since 1908.Momentum was finally on their side-until Luis Castillo lofted a seemingly harmless fly ball down the left-field line. Cubs left fielder Moises Alou ran into foul territory and probably would've made the catch had a certain fan not reached out of the stands and deflected it.

That fan was Steve Bartman.

Alou flung his glove in disgust, and the crowd direct edits wrath at Bartman, who had to be escorted out by stadium security for hisown safety. When play resumed, the Marlins rallied for eight runs and put the game away.

Poor Bartman. Not only did half a dozen police cars have to gather outside his home that night to protect him and his family, but things got worse the next day after the Cubs blew their lead in Game 7 and failed to reach the World Series. Bartman became an instant scapegoat for generations of disgruntled Cubs fans, received death threats, had to change his phone number,and was forced into hiding. Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich suggested that he enter the witness protection program, while Florida governor Jeb Bush offered him asylum. Bartman proceeded to turn down interview requests and endorsement deals, and he eventually rejected a $25,000 offer to autograph a photo of himself at a sports memorabilia convention.

Here's where it gets weird.

Several months later, a successful restaurateur named Grant DePorter bought the infamous foul ball at an auction for $113,824. DePorter, hoping to rid the Cubs of their curse, recruited Michael Lantieri, an Academy Award-winning special effects expert, to blow up the ball at Harry Caray's restaurant. The stunt was covered live on CNN, ESPN, and MSNBC and was written up by more than 4,000 newspapers. Then, a year later, at a much less publicized event, DePorter used the remnants of the ball to make a dish he named "Foul Ball Spaghetti." What remained of the ball was boiled; the steam was captured and distilled and added to the recipe.

JEFFREY MAIER


Jeffrey Maier was the most infamous baseball fan before Bartman, and he attained his notoriety by doing the same thing: reaching out of the stands and interfering with a ball that was still in play. Luckily for Maier, who was just 12 years old at the time, he was treated as a hero because his interference happened to help the home team. And not just any team—the New York Yankees.

It was October 9, 1996—Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. The Yankees were trailing the Baltimore Orioles, 4-3, with one out in the bottom of the eighth, when Derek Jeter spanked a deep drive toward the short porch in right field. Orioles right fielder Tony Tarasco reached the blue padded wall as the ball was descending and leaped to make the catch—but he never got the chance because Maier stuck out his glove and deflected the ball back into the stands. Right-field umpire Rich Garcia ruled it a home run, prompting Tarasco and Orioles manager Davey Johnson to argue like mad. And they were right—slow-motion replays indicated that the ball would not have cleared the wall if not for Maier—but the bad call stood, and the Yankees won the game (and eventually the World Series) in extra innings. The Orioles filed an official protest, and even though Garcia admitted that there was fan interference, the protest was denied by American League president Gene Budig. Maier appeared on national talk shows and was given the key to New York City by Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

RED SOX WORLD SERIES BALLS

When Red Sox first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz caught the final out of the 2004 World Series, he found an extra way to get his name in the papers: by deciding to keep the ball for himself. Mientkiewicz, a former Gold Glove winner who had entered the game as a defensive replacement for David Ortiz in the bottom of the seventh, felt that he deserved to keep it since he caught it. Red Sox fans and management disagreed. Their team had finally overcome "the Curse of the Bambino" and won its first championship in 86 years. In their minds, this was one of the most important balls in the history of the sport, and it belonged in the team's museum. Mientkiewicz held out, and as the negative media attention intensified, he joked to a Boston Globe reporter that the ball was his "retirement fund." Or was he joking? On the same day he caught it, Barry Bonds's 700th career home run ball sold for $804,129 through an online auction.

How did the Mientkiewicz saga end? It was easy. First the Red Sox traded him to the Mets for a minor leaguer. Then they filed a lawsuit against him. Then they dropped the charges when he agreed to let an independent mediator settle the dispute. Finally he lent the ball to the Sox for a year and then donated it to the Hall of Fame.

When Boston won the World Series again in 2007, a whole new controversy erupted over the final-out ball. This time it ended up in the hands of catcher Jason Varitek, who initially said he planned to return it to the team, but later admitted that he gave it to reliever Jonathan Papelbon. When the team asked Papelbon for the ball, he claimed that his dog ate it.

 "He plays with baseballs like they are his toys," said the pitcher of his bulldog, Boss. "He jumped up one day on the counter and snatched it. He likes rawhide. He tore that thing to pieces."

Papelbon vowed to keep what was left of the ball, but later told the New England Sports Network that he'd thrown it out. "It's in the garbage in Florida somewhere," he said.

Team officials took his word and did not file charges.

Revue de presse

“This is the stuff baseball fans eat up like snack food, only it’s way more nourishing. . . . The stories are marvelous, and throughout Hample maintains jaunty good humor and even class; for instance, he thanks, by name, every one of the 1,167 Major League players and coaches who have given him baseballs over the years (an interesting list in itself). Lots of fascinating illustrations, too.” —Booklist
 
“Brings a whole new dimension to the term ‘inside baseball.’ . . . Hample . . . provides plenty of revelations to even the most passionate follower of the game.” —Kirkus Reviews
 
“Hample is not simply an articulate and accessible baseball writer, he’s a zealous collector of game balls. . . . His advice on how to catch a ball at the stadium shows how meticulously he hones his hobby. Along the way there are lots of personalities and top-ten lists at the end for every active fan. All ball buffs should try to catch this one.” —Library Journal

Praise for Zack Hample's Watching Baseball Smarter:

"Insightful, engaging and funny—a treat for anyone who loves the game." —Keith Hernandez

"Hample calls himself an obsessed fan—obsessed in a good way—and the product of his torment is a funny and informative guide for all levels of fams." —Yankees Magazine

"Engaging. . . . Hample's book is both deceptive in its simplicity . . . and surprising in its range." —Fortune

"A browser's delight of a book. . . . Hample unloads a zany collection of baseball trivia, insights and 'random stuff'. . . in breezy guidebook style." —Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"This isn't the first book to take on the challenge of explaining baseball intricacies, but I've never seen it done better." —Craig Smith, The Seattle Times

"Armed at neophytes and know-it-alls alike, this baseball geekfest tells you which positions are never played by lefties, why it's easier to hit when bases are loaded, which rules are the weirdest, and other arcana." —Maxim


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Amazon.com: 32 commentaires
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Thats the way the baseball bounces 5 juin 2011
Par M. A. Filippelli - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Have you ever wondered what's inside a baseball? Perhaps you cut one in half as a kid for show and tell at school. Good news we get to find out what's in the baseball and how it has changed over the years. What Author Zach Hample has produced her is a multi faceted look at the ball it's effect on the game and the fans who chase these balls down.

The Baseball stunts, scandals, and secrets beneath the stitches starts back in the 1840's when the first baseball was developed basically by wrapping yarn into a ball and then covering it with hide. These days exacting measurements are used to make a baseball.

As it turns out what's inside a baseball has changed many times over the last 170 years. Author Zach Hample walks the reader through the history of the baseball, the effect the changing baseball has had on the game. Moving from the dead ball era to the live ball era undoubtedly was the most dramatic change in the game. When baseball started getting lively baseball parks started getting bigger.

It was interesting to see how the structure of the game changed. In the early days teams only had one ball per game. If that ball went into the stands it had to be retrieved before the game could continue. These days as many as 70 get used per game and fans chasing them down get to keep them.

Another interesting part of the book is the allegations that the baseball was juiced in the late 90's and early 2000's. Major league baseball did a lot of testing of the baseball and couldn't find much difference between new ball and ones produced a few years earlier. It turns out the it was the baseball players that were juiced though Hample doesn't talk about that.

Hample described in detail how the ball is made and tested before it gets into a game.
One of the most interesting sections of of the book is were Hample talks about how to prepare your self to go to the ball park and be successful at getting batting practice balls, game balls, how to position yourself in the stands based on the hitter at the plate the best stadiums to do this. This is called ball hawking. Included in the are people that are ball hawks. They talk about the most valuable ball they got, how many balls they have gotten over the years their appearances on radio and tv. Hample also talks about some the the most famous balls and the legal battles that have ensued over ownership and the right to sell them.

Very well written, informative and interesting. There is some anecdotal stuff here but basically Hample does a good job of sticking to the subject of the baseball.
6 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
"The" Baseball 6 mai 2011
Par Danny B. Wood - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I've been a baseball fan for over 50 years. I've played since I was 6 years old, I played in high school and college and Over 50 baseball. I've umpired and I've collected all types of baseballs including over 3,000 autographed balls and another 2,000 logo type balls. I literally learned something NEW on every page of the first half of the book that I never knew. The research that went in to this book has never been done or at least published before. Anyone that is able to actually visit the Rawlings plant in Costa Rica certainly has my respect. It is the most incredible book I have ever read about "the ball". Thanks, Zack!!
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
.333 Average, (HR) 7 février 2012
Par Vincent Vargas - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I got this book as a gift from someone who knows I love baseball. Mr. Hemple came up to bat three times (3 sections: Baseball in the News, Historic and Factual Stuff, and How to Snag Major League Baseballs). Baseball in the News chronicles some of the more famous (or infamous) events involving the baseball - milestone homers, fan 'intervention', career ending injuries, celebs, and the like. A mix of the interesting and the trivial: Deep fly to left (0-1).

The second section takes you on a fascinating journey as the baseball evolves from the beginning right through modern day. It is interesting to read the loose definition of the baseball in the official rule book, and how teams interpreted the rule and even experimented with the ball to favor their team. This section will likely cause you to pause and reflect on who were the hitters of that day and how they might have either benefitted or been hindered by the baseball of that particular period. Would Mr. Ruth have hit as many homers or hit even more? Would Mr. Cobb have had such a career batting average if a baseball from earlier or later years had been used? And, I found it fascinating that the "juiced" ball controversy has been around since the beginning of time and yet the baseball manufacturing process, while tightly controlled, monitored, and enforced to meet specifications, has an element of secrecy! Home Run to deep Left-Center (1-2).

The third section is a how-to guide to getting a souvenir. Here Mr. Hemple offers some of his experiences and tricks of the trade after collecting thousands of official MLB balls. There is also a Who's Who section of elite "ballhawks", a term I learned from reading the book. I enjoyed this section, but after the last AB, I found it a bit trivial. Sure, I will keep some of his tips in mind but I am not likely to go to a ballgame intending to collect a souvenir, so I found this section only moderately entertaining. Sharp grounder to short, 6-3 put-out (1-3).

Overall, an enjoyable read.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
starts good,ends weak. 7 avril 2014
Par John Forrester - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Interesting history, but too much ball-hawk stuff for me...it wasn't what I expected.
The book wandered off in a strange direction.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Inside Baseball's Mystique 17 février 2012
Par Larry Underwood - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
The game of baseball has been our National Pastime long before the Chicago Cubs won their last World Series (1908). Much of our fascination revolves around that wonderful little stitched ball that is the center of attention in the game itself. The great pitchers throughout baseball history have amazed us with their ability to throw that little ball with so much speed and/or movement to make opposing batters look foolish. Then there are the game's great hitters who always seem to get the big hit when the game is on the line; who can send that ball sailing out of the park, or hit vicious line drives in the gap to score a runner from first base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to win the game.

Zack Hample has compiled this fascinating perspective of the baseball - and why it has become such a sought after commodity - especially ones that have historic significance. When foul balls - or home run balls - wind up in the seats, the mad scramble for that souvenir can turn into a wild free-for-all. Normally civilized individuals often turn hostile as they fight for sole possession of that little round treasure. For the typical fan, the thrill of catching a foul ball during a game is unparalleled in their life's accomplishments. The author even devotes a section of the book on the fine art of "ball hawking" - something he has done with remarkable proficiency over the past twenty years or so. In fact, if there was a "ball hawking" Hall of Fame, Hample would be a first ballot inductee.

If you love the game of baseball, Hample's engaging historical perspective will be a great addition to your "baseball library". I highly recommend it!
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