Give DiMag his due, but remember Ted, too

Phil Jackaman IxB

August 05, 1991|By Phil Jackman

Really perceptive readers of the daily sports page no doubt noted that this year constitutes the 50th anniversary of the 1941 baseball season. This was brought home to us almost daily with blow-by-blow accounts of Joe DiMaggio's famed 56-game hitting streak running from May to July.

A subplot accompanying Joltin' Joe's exploits, one given just cursory mention, is the season Ted Williams turned in. While DiMaggio was hitting for an average of .408 during his blitz, Teddy Ballgame batted just two points lower than that for the entire season, the last player to hit .400.

No argument which of the feats is more noteworthy -- tip your hat, Ted -- but one cannot help but wonder why the game's growing legion of nostalgiacs didn't pick up on other anniversaries divisible by 10, 5, 11, 23 or the square root of Mike Tyson's neck size.

For example, perhaps the greatest comeback in baseball history, the famed New York Giants' overhaul of the Brooklyn Dodgers, was just about to get under way this very week . . . 40 years ago.

Of more recent vintage, what about the Summer of '61? The twin assaults of Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle on the record many concluded was unbreakable, Babe Ruth's 60 home runs in 1927, came close to matching the men-on-the-moon excitement a few years later on a sustained basis.

It was 60 years ago when the Philadelphia A's were finishing off a triad of American League pennants with victory counts of 104, 102 and 107. Just as dominant over a three-year run were the Orioles winning 109, 108 and 101 up through the campaign ending in 1971.

Meanwhile, a hundred years ago, an organization known as the Players' League was getting ready to go poof! Which would cause the American Association to disband, leading the National League to take on four new members, including those pesky original Baltimore Orioles. It was this series of events that ultimately led to the American League being formed and baseball as we know it today.

"So what?" you want to know?

This: Far too often on the sports pages, we tend to remind you of information you are already aware of or have labored studiously to forget or avoid. We assume you didn't know that this is the 25th anniversary of the O's first pennant and World Series in 1966 because you gave up subtraction on a daily basis after the ninth grade.

When strapped for an idea, we know the morgue (library to you) lingers just a few steps away and we can always avail ourselves of the microfilm of these newspapers going back to May 17, 1837.

Then, the Associated Press sends along a feature every day entitled "This Day in Sports." The Orioles chip in with a "This date in Memorial Stadium History" and the market is overburdened with books and calendars doing the same thing.

What the situation needs and what we are fully prepared to provide in the remaining space allotted to us is some good, useful insight into what lies ahead, not behind. While the Jeane Dixons of the world push predictions covering only the next few months or a year, here's what you have every right to expect come anno domini 2001:

The Birds, averaging 3.725 million fans at the gate (100 percent of capacity), are sold to Japanese interests, owner Eli Jacobs explaining that the size of the Camden Yards ballpark, the TV market, etc., just aren't lucrative enough to allow the team to compete.

Cal Ripken, his consecutive games streak somewhere in excess of 3,000, agrees to match the state dollar for dollar in its attempt to complete the bailout of the S&Ls.

Baltimore, still hopeful of obtaining a franchise in the NFL, feels a rush of optimism as the commissioner names yet another expansion committee (No. 103) and says all systems will be go as soon as labor and management are in total accord on all matters.

Ben McDonald, blisters, back and side problems, eye, ear, nose and throat setbacks and just plain bad pitching luck aside, celebrates his 100th big-league victory.

Mike Tyson, already holder of an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from Central State University in Ohio, gets a real Ph.D through intense study and dedication and is named chief executive officer of the National Organization of Women.

The Bullets finally reach the .500 level, from which they came in the '80s, and the Capitals are playing a half-dozen games at Ed Hale's spiffy, 22,500-seat arena on 33rd Street. Mayor Schmoke had Memorial Stadium torn down for no reason anybody can fathom.

Both Laurel and Pimlico, faced with a dearth of entries during summer meets, are reduced to staging a card of thoroughbred match races and a few quarterhorse sprints three afternoons per week.

William Donald Schaefer, back as City Council president, insists there's no need for a football stadium to complete the downtown complex. But he adds he might change his mind when he gets to Annapolis, where it's easy to find funds for almost any project you care to name.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.