Sunday, December 24, 2006

Fred Raymer

Frederick Charles Raymer was born on November 12, 1875 in Leavenworth, Kansas. At the age of 19, Fred found himself in Albuquerque working as a fireman for the Atlantic & Pacific Railway, and playing shortstop for the Albuquerque Browns Base Ball Club. I haven’t determined how long he lived in the Duke City, but I have a feeling that it wasn’t for very long.

Raymer got his chance to play in the big leagues on April 24, 1901 at the age of 25 when he served as a utility infielder for the Chicago Orphans. After committing 42 errors out of 215 opportunities in 119 games, Fred wouldn’t see big league action again for 2 full seasons. Quite likely, Raymer simply wasn’t cut out to play the hot corner. That said, Raymer did start a triple play for the Orphans on June 14, 1901 in a game they lost to the New York Giants.

The Boston Beaneaters took a chance on Raymer in 1904 by making him their second baseman for 114 of their 153 games. Fred hit the only home run of his major league baseball career that magical season.

Raymer played 136 games for the Beaneaters in 1905, including single starts at first base and in the outfield. After flying out in the top of the second inning of the first game of a double header against New York, Raymer was allowed to “courtesy run” for teammate Rip Cannell who had ironically ripped his leg open while stealing second base with Raymer in the batter’s box. It was reported that Raymer was stranded at 2nd base, and Cannell retuned to his defensive position when the Beaneaters took to the field at the bottom of the inning. Weird, huh?

Raymer’s career major league baseball offensive stats include 301 hits, 95 runs and 101 RBIs with a .218 batting average. Fred swiped exactly 50 bases without being caught a single time. Interestingly enough, the young speedster also never grounded into a double play.

Although Raymer played in his final major league game on October 7, 1905, he obviously continued to play professional ball in the minor leagues as confirmed by these intriguing tobacco cards from 1910 and 1911.




Raymer passed away in Los Angeles on June 11, 1957. He was reportedly cremated- perhaps in honor of his days spent shoveling coal into the furnaces of steam locomotives.

the scratching post

You may find it difficult to believe that I’ve had requests from readers to include my helper from the recent bathroom renovation project in more entries. On the other hand, perhaps you wouldn’t.

All I am prepared to say on the matter is that I will try.

Unfortunately it will be difficult to include Kancun in any discussions about baseball because she never goes to any games. Also, she isn’t allowed into my office where I keep my baseball cards. It isn’t that she doesn’t “like” baseball, mind you, but rather due to the fact that we are complete opposites when it comes to the proper methods for handling memorabilia.

Friday, December 22, 2006

just like "old days"

A most unexpected thing happened during my quest to rebuild a set of 75 Topps baseball cards. After reading my blog, a buddy from the old stomping grounds in the west-central portion of the Land of Lincoln Logs sent me all his duplicate cards hoping they would help out. I’m completely stoked knowing that one-sixth of the set that I will compile will have once lived in the very same gas station candy display case where I used to buy my cards.

Amazingly, the cards don’t appear to have seen the light of day since the Bicentennial!

This Robin Yount rookie card, one of the “key cards” of the set, is a shiny example of the great condition of the entire windfall. If you ever have a chance to check out my cards, be sure to ask to see a few of the cards from the Toastmaster Collection.

I suppose the moral of this entry is that sometimes… it pays to blog!

(So you’d like to see YOUR name mentioned here in my blog but don’t feel like sending me a stack of 75 Topps baseball cards? Well, I’m also going to be working on the 1974 set…)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

in a new yorker minute

Sometimes I have good reasons for not posting an entry for a considerable period of time. But usually it is because I have been wasting time creating witty entries for the New Yorker magazine cartoon caption contest.

After deciding that the "contest" is a scam a while back, I quit entering and just started emailing my "entries" to people I thought would either think them hilarious, or cause them to scratch a raw spot on their scalp attempting to figure out what they had done to deserve that particular evidence of my insanity.

But no more... I've now decided to just post them here. Thus, here is what I would add to this Lee Lorenz arting:

Friday, December 15, 2006

duke city baseball

Imagine a late spring afternoon on the west-trending toe slope of the Sandia Mountain foothills overlooking the rich, green Rio Grande valley in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The year is 1969. The date is Monday, March 31st. Only a few hours before, the nation had buried former president General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

A total of 13,767 baseball fans gathered together to celebrate the grand opening of the $1.4 million Albuquerque Sports Stadium (now Isotopes Park) by watching a major league exhibition game between the Cleveland Indians and the San Francisco Giants. Obviously a large contingent of dignitaries were on hand as it was reported that only 12,959 people paid for the privilege of scrambling for one of the 10,510 seats. The remaining 3,257 slower moving fans and late arrivers would stand (probably in line for hotdogs).

The game ended tied at 5- called after the end of the 8th inning due to darkness. Quite possibly a full game would have been played if the scheduled 3:00 pm start time hadn’t been pushed back an hour after Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn ordered the suspension of all baseball activities until one hour following the burial of President Eisenhower.

Still, the inaugural event must have been some kind of spectacle!

The first player to cross home plate was San Francisco’s Bobby Bonds. This stellar image captured by Ray Cary for the Albuquerque Journal depicts the historic moment, as Indians catcher Joe Azcue is unable to tag the speedy Bonds.

Cleveland’s Tony Horton two-run blast in the bottom of the first inning was the first homerun hit in the Duke City’s shiny new “multipurpose” stadium. His rocket traveled an estimated 390-400 feet before it was deposited in the lava rocks beyond the fence in left-centerfield.

My favorite image (of those I’ve seen) of that day is without a doubt this shot of kids hanging over the Giants dugout attempting to get autographs.

According to witnesses present, 13-year-old Mike Garcia had to leave the game before it was completed for undisclosed reasons. His father Tom would later explain that Mike was heartbroken because he had failed to meet his hero, Willie Mays, in person. Thus, one can easily imagine Mike dragging his feet as he followed his family toward the exit of the ballpark; perhaps listening for clues of how the game was progressing- including cheering of the crowd and public address announcements. The youngster had no way of knowing that he was just a single crack of the bat away from cashing in a portion of his fifteen minutes of fame- the hard way.

As it turned out, Mays had been removed from the lineup in the seventh inning after going 0 for 3 at the plate. Having used the underground tunnels to make a quick escape via a waiting taxi, Willie surfaced near the exit, an estimated 10 feet away from Garcia. Amazed by this lucky development, the lad immediately made his move, determined to get an autograph from the Say Hey Kid before he slipped away.

Garcia never knew what hit him. It was a major league foul ball. Mike was struck above his right eye, and was believed to be unconscious before he hit the concrete. While Giants trainer Leo Hughes was summoned to attend to Garcia, Mays’ warm-up jacket was used as a pillow to comfort the kid. Sensing blood with their keen reporter instincts, Tribune photographers Al Cabral and Mark Bush began hovering over the scene looking for the perfect photo opportunities.

It is unclear why Garcia didn’t end up with an autograph. “You can bet I’m going to send him an autograph,” Mays reportedly told bystanders. “You get that young fellow’s name and address for me and I’ll see that he gets an autograph.” I can’t help but wonder if Mike ever heard from Mays after that.

One would think that getting clobbered with a foul ball and having your photo taken while you are laid out on the ground- then plastered in the newspaper the following day would be about as bad of a time one could experience at a baseball game. Well, during that same game, Tribune sports editor Carlos Salazar reported that Arthur Henry died in the stands of a heart attack.

Like I said, that must have been some kind of spectacle!