Billy-Ball Daily: 2006-2-22

Billy-Ball Daily
Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Top of the 1st
It’s that time of the year, the time we wait and wait for – baseball is here once again. There are some of you who might wonder why we need spring training, Sandy Koufax had the answer, “People who write about spring training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball.”

There are others who see it like sportswriter Jerry Izenberg who said, “Watching a spring training game is as exciting as watching a tree form its annual ring.”

But for those of you who agree with Harry Caray who said, “It’s the fans that need spring training. You gotta get ’em interested. Wake ’em up and let ’em know that their season is coming, the good times are gonna roll,” here are a baker’s dozen things you might not know about spring training:

1. The Cactus League was born in 1946 when New York Giants owner Horace Stoneham moved his team to Phoenix and Bill Veeck brought the Cleveland Indians to Tucson.
2. For the spring training prior to the 1951 season, the New York Yankees swapped locations with the New York Giants.
3. The Boston Red Sox (nee the Americans) have had spring training homes in Charlottesville, Virginia; Augusta, Georgia; Macon, Georgia; Little Rock, Arkansas; Hot Springs, Arkansas; Redondo Beach, California; Tampa, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; Bradenton, Florida; Pensacola, Florida; Savannah, Georgia; Sarasota, Florida; Medford, Massachusetts; Baltimore, Maryland; Pleasantville, New Jersey; Scottsdale, Arizona; Winter Haven, Florida and Fort Myers, Florida.
4. The Cubs train at HoHoKam Park in Mesa. “HoHoKam” is a Native American term meaning “those who vanished.”
5. In 2005, Florida’s Grapefruit League established new records for total attendance over the course of 256 games played in 17 locations by 18 teams. A total of 1,598,454 baseball fans attended spring training games, surpassing the previous record of 1,598,255 set in 1998 when 20 teams held spring training in Florida.
6. During spring training in 1914, Babe Ruth earned his nickname when teammates on the minor league Baltimore Orioles began referring to him as owner Jack Dunn’s new “babe.”
7. The Detroit Tigers are spending their 70th Spring Training in Lakeland, Florida the longest-standing relationship of all major league clubs. It is their 40th season at Joker Marchant Stadium. “Joker” Marchant was the director of Lakeland’s Park and Recreational Department.
8. James P. Dawson worked for the New York Times for 45 years covering baseball for almost 40 years up until his death during spring training in 1953. The Yankees present an award each spring to the top rookie in training camp in his honor.
9. The Dodgers first held spring training in Vero Beach, Fla., in 1948 with about 600 players who came to Dodgertown after beginning their workouts in the Dominican Republic.
10. During World War II, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis and director of the federal Office of Defense Transportation, Joseph B. Eastman, decreed that spring training must be held close to the teams’ home, north of the Potomac and Ohio Rivers and east of the Mississippi. In 1943, because of the Landis-Eastman Line or the Potomac Line, the Tigers ended up in Evansville, Ind.; the Cubs and the White Sox in French Lick, Ind.; the Philadelphia Athletics in Wilmington, Del.; the Yankees in Asbury Park, N.J.; and the Red Sox at Tufts College in Medford, Mass., the Brooklyn Dodgers, at Bear Mountain, N.Y.; the Cards in Cairo, Ill.; and the St. Louis Browns in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
11. In 1954, Phil Cavarretta was the first manager fired in spring training because Cubs owner Phil Wrigley was upset with Cavaretta’s prediction of a second-division finish. Cavaretta was right, the Cubs finished 7th.
12. In the 1992 TV special, “It’s Spring Training, Charlie Brown!”, one of the Peanuts gang broke into a rap and they all began break-dancing.
13. Bob Uecker described the highlight of his career, “In ’67 with St. Louis, I walked with the bases loaded to drive in the winning run in an inter-squad game in spring training.”

It’s really good to have baseball back.

Top of the 2nd
Manny Ramirez will not arrive in spring training with the Boston Red Sox until March 1, one day after Major League Baseball’s mandatory reporting date.”I have to tell you, Manny was very honest, very forthright, very amicable,” Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters in Fort Myers. “He assures us that he’ll be here March 1, ready to go. I’m O.K. with that. I support him in this.”

Ramirez, a slugging left fielder, requested a trade after the season, but the Red Sox have not been able to accommodate him. Formerly ex-GM Theo Epstein declined to say if Ramirez had rescinded his latest request. “That’s between Manny and the club,” Epstein said.

Top of the 3rd
The Sox said they can’t make any comment on the WBC, but there are strong indications that Manny has decided not to play with his Dominican countrymen in the World Baseball Classic.

Rumor has it that Ramirez, requested a trade after the season, but the Dominican Republic has not been able to accommodate him. The Dominican Republic president Leonel Fern