CROSSING THE LINE
Saturday marks the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball. All MLB players, coaches and managers will wear number 42 to honor the Hall-of-Famer. Also, the Dodgers will unveil a statue of Robinson at Dodger Stadium. The integration of the majors, however, was a slow process with some clubs resisting the change. It wasn’t until 1959 that all 16 teams had fielded at least two African-American players. According to SABR historians Mark Armour (author of several ground-breaking papers on the subject) and Bill Carle (chair of the SABR Biographical Committee), the first two African-American players on the rosters of each of the original 16 major-league teams were:
Team, Player 1 (Pos., debut), Player 2 (Pos., debut)
Dodgers, Jackie Robinson (1B-1947), Dan Bankhead (P-1947)
Indians, Larry Doby (OF-1947), Satchel Paige (P-1948)
Browns, Hank Thompson (2B-1947), Willard Brown (OF-1947)
Giants, Hank Thompson (2B-1949), Monte Irvin (OF-1949),
Braves, Sam Jethroe (OF-1950), George Crowe (1B-1952)
White Sox, Sam Hairston (C-1951), Bob Boyd (1B-1951)
A’s, Bob Trice (P-1953), Joe Taylor (OF-1954)
Cubs, Ernie Banks (SS-1953), Gene Baker (2B-1953)
Pirates, Curt Roberts (2B-1954), Sam Jethroe (OF-1954)
Cardinals, Tom Alston (1B-1954), Brooks Lawrence (P-1954)
Reds, Chuck Harmon (3B-1954), Joe Black (P-1955)
Yankees, Elston Howard (C-1955), Harry Simpson (OF-1957)
Phillies, John Kennedy (SS-1957), Chuck Harmon (OF-1957)
Senators, Joe Black (P-1957), Lenny Green (OF-1959)
Tigers, Larry Doby (OF-1959), Jim Proctor (P-1959)
Red Sox, Pumpsie Green (2B-1959), Earl Wilson (P-1959)
HOPPILY EVER AFTER
Grasshoppers are a hit at Safeco Field. That’s the toasted, chile-lime salted, edible version of the insect. The $4 cups of roasted “chapulines” available at a stand run by Poquitos, a local Mexican restaurant, have sold out all three nights at the park. Patrons consumed 901 orders, a total of 30.8 pounds (approximately 18,000 grasshoppers). Going forward, the stand plans to limit the orders to 312 per game in honor of former Mariners star Edgar Martinez whose lifetime batting average was .312. By the way, the FDA permits the sale of insects for food as long as they are raised specifically for human consumption.
AROUND THE HORN
… On Monday night, Wil Myers of the Padres recorded a cycle (the team’s second since joining the league in 1969); the Marlins are the only major-league team that remains cycle-less with 3,828 games played, through Thursday, without a player accomplishing the feat.
… The A’s will lead all major-league teams in travel this season by flying 51,146 miles while the Marlins will top the N.L. logging 42,185 air miles; the Pirates and Cubs will travel the least at 21,854 and 23,130 miles, respectively.
… According to Forbes Magazine, the Phillies, although struggling on the field in 2016, earned the highest operating income in the majors at $87.7 million followed by the Red Sox at $78.6 million and the Giants at $78.1 million; the teams with the biggest losses were the Tigers at $36.4 million, the Dodgers at $20.5 million and the Marlins at $2.2 million.
… The Daytona Tortugas, a Class-A affiliate of the Reds, will be celebrating Jackie Robinson Day on Saturday by wearing the uniform number 9 which Robinson wore during his first Spring Training with the Dodgers in 1946 at Daytona Beach.
… Cubs fans can purchase a facsimile 2016 World Series ring at the new Jostens store at Wrigley Field for $10,800; the ring has many of the same features as the 1,908 given to players, ex-players and on- and off-field staff.
… The Lake County Captains of the Class A Midwest League are selling a $20 fish sandwich at Classic Park this season called “The Moby Dick;” it features a 15-inch sesame seed bun, five quarter-pound fish fillets, eight slices of cheese, six ounces of clam strips, one-third pound of french-fries, one cup of coleslaw all topped with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and tartar sauce.
… On Tuesday night Yoenis Cespedes of the Mets joined Jose Canseco as the only Cuban-born players to post multiple three-homer games in the bigs.
… Tal’s Hill is no longer; during the offseason, Astros ownership replaced the 90-foot wide, 30-degree incline (complete with flag pole) in center field at Minute Maid Park with a new seating area behind a shortened fence (409 instead of 436 feet) and a now-level playing field.
… Through Thursday, Mets pitchers led the majors in third-out strikeouts with 41 while Marlins and Twins batters had registered the most third outs via the strikeout with 33.
… The Brewers, Cubs, Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Twins and White Sox and are the only teams that had yet to record a sacrifice fly this season through Thursday.
… Bill Chuck notes that Reds relievers had, through Thursday, not allowed any of their 12 inherited runners to score this season.
… The Yokohama DeNA BayStars of the Japanese Central League are using an all-electric Nissan Leaf as their bullpen car this season at Yokohama Stadium.
… One of the last baseball record compilations still published in book form is “A Unique Look at Big League Baseball” by Joe Taxiera available on Amazon.
… The Cubs’ World Series ring features an image of the infamous billy goat inside the band; the goat represents a fabled curse purportedly levied against the franchise in 1945.
… When catcher Kyle Higashioka made his big-league debut for the Yankees on Monday, he tied the franchise record for the longest gap between being drafted by and debuting with the parent club; Higashioka (drafted in 2008) equaled infielder George Zeber (drafted in 1968) having spent 10 seasons in the minors.
… The Cubs are featuring a pulled pork sandwich at Wrigley Field called the Bao to the Pork created by noted Chicago restaurant Pork & Mindy’s; the sandwich features pulled pork, pickled daikon, carrots and jalapeno relish on a steamed bao bun.
… The Twins recorded their sixth win of the season on April 13; last year, they didn’t record their sixth until April 25.
… When the Reds called up 40-year-old Bronson Arroyo to start a game on April 8, he became the oldest pitcher called up by the organization since Hod Lisenbee who was came up from the minors on June 8, 1945, at age 46.
… Rookies Antonio Senzatela and Kyle Freeland made their MLB debuts by starting back-to-back games on April 7 and 8 for the Rockies; it was the first time two pitchers debuted in consecutive starts this early in the season since Alan Wirth and John Henry Johnson did it on April 9 and 10, 1978, for the A’s.
… Through Thursday, umpire Joe West needed to officiate just 48 more games to join Bill Klem (5,375 games) and Bruce Froemming (5,163) as the only umps to oversee 5,000 or more games in the bigs.
… Against the Rays on April 8, Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson recorded his major-league-leading 39th go-ahead homer since 2015.
… On Monday, the Yankees enjoyed the highest game-time temperature at their home opener since 1960 when the mercury hit 76; last season, it was 36 degrees at their opener in the Bronx.
… Although Roberto Clemente never played for the Hartford Yard Goats, the team retired the Hall-of-Famer’s uniform number 21 on Tuesday in an effort to connect with the area’s large Puerto Rican community.
… The good people at the Elias Sports Bureau note that Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna became the eighth player since 1920 to record six RBIs in a game in two or fewer at bats on Tuesday; Harmon Killebrew holds the record with seven ribbies in two ABs in 1969.
… Eighty-year-old former major-league pitcher Phil “The Vulture” Regan threw batting practice for the Mets before their game against the Marlins on April 7.
Other writers and sources contribute to Beyond the Box Score
By Bill Arnold/@sfgwire
Copyright 2017, Sports Features Group