Baseball’s Winning Ways is a great stocking stuffer for teenage baseball fans and a great book for Public Libraries and School. Baseball’s Winning Ways can make a difference throughout the year. Packed with baseball history, players, and topics, Baseball’s Winning Ways also includes a self-help feature that young people can adapt to their own lives that can be used to build up success fundamentals and virtues that have been part and parcel of baseball for over 100 years.
Here’s a little sample that should give you a good idea of what’s in the book:
Breaking Down Baseball by Eras
Let’s look briefly at 150+ years of baseball according to different eras or periods of time. Breaking down baseball chronology by eras is helpful to understanding the sport although it is subjective. Scholars often review such breakdowns and refine them.
Early Pro Era (1869-1900)
Baseball was getting established. Rules were being set and people from different parts of the country started to play it in the same way. In this period, the first pro teams were formed and the American and National Leagues were created.
Dead Ball Era (1901-1919)
The Dead Ball Era took place during the first two decades of the 20th century. The professionals were focused on: 1) offense that was called small ball; 2) pitchers who threw spitballs; 3) a new foul strike rule, and 4) balls used for long periods of time during a game. All these led to low scores.
Trade cards were collectable cards that were given away when some products were bought. They would feature and promote products offered by certain tradesmen. Around since the 1700s, trade cards became more popular with color lithography in the late 1800s. The topics covered expanded from advertising messages to subjects of interest to consumers. These ranged from serious images of the U.S. presidents to humorous ones that gave exaggerated views of family life. There were cards with famous person caricatures, beautiful outdoor scenes, ships, Native Americans, and more. Like other types of advertising, some images were offensive for various reasons.
Nolan Arenado is a third baseman for the Colorado Rockies. He is an intense player, a perennial All-Star, and a slugger. When he came into the league, he was loaded with potential, but he needed a lot of work on the field and in the weight room. …
Christian Yelich is an outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers who is one of the best hitters in the game. Coming over from the Miami Marlins in the 2018 preseason, Yelich notched over 30 home runs, 20 stolen bases, and a batting average over .325 for both his first two Brewer seasons. The 6-foot-3 28 year old won the 2018 and 2019 National League batting titles, the 2018 National League MVP Award, and the 2018 and 2019 Hank Aaron Award.
Yelich hit for the cycle—single, double, triple, and home run—twice in 2018. Yelich’s performance suffered in the shortened 2020 season.
Origins and Early History
Who played the first game of baseball? It is a riddle that only the Sphinx can solve. Some trace it all the way back to ancient Egypt! Most insist that baseball is truly an American game although it developed from an old game called Rounders and perhaps older games still.
Rounders is an English schoolboy game which can be traced back as far as the Elizabethan Era in England. A poem which exclaims the joy of such a game was mentioned in John Newbery’s 1744 Little Pretty Pocket Book.
The ball once struck off,
Away flies the boy
To the next destin’d post,
And then how with Joy.
20th Century Story of Baseball and America
Once the game was established, it continued to develop and became our national pastime. And regardless of the hardships Americans experienced, baseball carried on and the players entertained fans.
Early 20th Century
In terms of American history, the 20th century began on rocky ground. President William McKinley was assassinated in 1901. Theodore Roosevelt took over as 26th president of the United States. Roosevelt was one of our most energetic presidents. He would serve in the Oval Office until March 1909….
Goodbye to the Dead ball Era
Once the Yankees had Ruth, they experimented with different field assignments, but he was in the lineup every day and hitting more home runs than anyone thought was possible. The 1920 Yankees were the first Major League Baseball team to have more than one million fans in attendance with Ruth hitting an incredible 54 home runs.
Managing the Boston Red Sox in 1948, Joe McCarthy’s team lost a one-game playoff for the American League pennant to Cleveland. In 1949, the Red Sox lost the pennant on the last day of the season. McCarthy, the winningest manager in MLB history, would retire during the 1950 season. Red Sox left fielder, Ted Williams, would remain in Boston throughout the decade. Williams would be a 19-time All-Star; he would be the AL Most Valuable Player twice; he would be a Triple Crown winner twice; and he would win six batting titles. Williams would play for 19 seasons, but he would only play in one World Series. His Boston Red Sox would lose to the Cardinals in seven games in 1946.
Cold War Crisis
The Cold War was a period of tension primarily between the Soviet Union and the United States and their allies after World War II. The period spans from the 1947 Truman Doctrine to the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union. The Korean War and the war in Vietnam had origins that were older than the Cold War, but they were both conflicts that were affected by it. Other key events helped define the Cold War.
U-2 Spy Plane
The Cold War lasted several decades. In May 1960, Francis Gary Powers was piloting a U-2 “Spy Plane” on a reconnaissance mission for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). A poison pin concealed in a silver dollar was taken along on the flight. Powers was thirteen hundred miles inside of Russia when he started flying the plane manually. After several hours of flying, a Soviet surface-to-air missile aimed at his plane exploded behind the craft damaging the U-2, which began spiraling out of control. Powers managed to climb out of his plane.
Players of color participated in early baseball, but only a small number of blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians played. After the Civil War, the country faced the task of bringing the Confederate States back into the Union and resolving many questions relating to the newly emancipated black men and women. This period was called the Reconstruction (1863-1877).
Baseball’s Measuring Sticks–Statistics
How does baseball measure performance? One of the ways is the use of statistics generated by keeping score of the game as it is being played. The first “Box Score,” the chart that tracks player success in an individual game, dates back to baseball’s earliest days. The recording of the number of at-bat chances is important. The more chances at-bat, the more valued the player.
About 100 years ago, McCarthy wrote down what he thought were the important principles to follow when playing baseball. He called these the 10 Commandments of Baseball. You may never have heard of McCarthy, but chances are if you had a good coach, your coach taught you some of his baseball principles or what we call Baseball’s Winning Ways in this book.
The winning ways of baseball discussed here are taken from Joe McCarthy’s 10 Commandments of Baseball. These are perhaps the most fundamental principles or qualities that have been taught by good coaches for many decades.
Nobody ever became a ballplayer by walking after a ball.
Hustle. Ballplayers should approach each small task with energy and strength. Possessing a winning attitude instills a little fun into all our efforts. We attract other winning people and surround ourselves with teammates and others who will help our cause.
Ben Franklin’s Chart on Virtues
About the time our country was getting started, Ben Franklin, one of our country’s founding fathers and “thought leaders,” wrote about creating virtuous habits. This information was part of the Autobiography of Ben Franklin, one of the greatest books ever written.
Baseball’s Winning Ways Charts
Focus on one virtue each week and every night take some time to evaluate how you did. If you need to improve, place a check mark in the box under the day of the week you are “grading” in the row for that virtue. For days when you did well, put a star. For the first week, you are focusing on “Hustle,” but go ahead and mark how you did for the other virtues as well.
For the sixth week, each night you might ask yourself: What excuses did I make today?
Make no excuses, do the difficult.
E-Make No Excuse, I-Never Give In (100% effort, always), U-Never Give Up, H-Honor Authority, S-Practice Self Control, H-Hustle, A-Act, R-Make the Right Play, P-Stay Positive, D-Be Decisive.
Winning in baseball sometimes takes advantage of circumstances. An outfielder might shift towards the line for a pull hitter. A runner on first might take a bigger leadoff if the pitcher’s pickoff move is below average. But trying to take advantage of every situation can lead to “bending” the rules. However, “lies don’t last.” Playing fair is the only “winning way.”
Benjamin Franklin humorously wrote about the difficulty of keeping a secret in Poor Richard’s Almanac. “Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” Franklin also wrote in the same publication: “A lie stands on one leg, truth on two.”
The $100,000 infield played for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics in the Dead ball era, at a time when the team was winning pennants. A reporter’s question to Connie Mack along the lines, “Would you accept $100,000 to trade your tremendous infield?” Connie replied, “No.” So they became the “$100,000 infield.” The group consisted of Stuffy McInnis, Eddie Collins, Jack Barry, and Frank Baker. In 1910, 1911, and 1913 they won the World Series. The foursome was broken up in 1915.
The Dominican Republic lies on the island of Hispaniola along with Haiti in the Caribbean archipelago known as the Greater Antilles. It is the most populous island in the West Indies. The Dominican Republic is roughly 800 miles from Florida, it is east of Cuba and west of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Sea.
“Ed Sullivan Show”
The Ed Sullivan Show was a popular TV variety show that was hosted by newspaper entertainment columnist, Ed Sullivan. It ran from 1948 to 1971. Watching the live show was a family ritual each Sunday evening. Guests came from all categories of entertainment and many of the most popular entertainers would perform live on the show.
The Elizabethan Era is the period of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603). Considered a golden age in English history and English literature, it was the time of William Shakespeare and an age of English expansion and exploration.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
The 32nd President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), was elected to his first of four terms in 1932. He died at the closing moments of World War II in 1945. Roosevelt won election in the early stages of the Great Depression. He implemented policies and programs that were known as the New Deal to improve the economy and reduce the suffering of millions of Americans. Before becoming president, FDR was stricken with polio. He lost the ability to use his legs, but he did not want Americans to focus on his disability so he avoided publicity on it.
Here’s a quiz on Baseball’s Winning Ways.
- Which president of the United States was responsible for the seventh inning stretch in Major League Baseball games?
- a) Barack Obama
- b) William Howard Taft
- c) George W. Bush
- d) William McKinley
- Which president of the United States served once as president of the Texas Rangers?
- a) Barack Obama
- b) William Howard Taft
- c) George W. Bush
- d) George H. W. Bush
- What famous book did Ben Franklin write?
- a)The Kite Runner
- b)Autobiography of Ben Franklin
- c)Common Sense
- d)The Franklin Stove League
Exercise on Franklin’s Virtues
Earlier in this book, we talked about Franklin’s list of virtues and how he established habits using his charts. Like many of our founding fathers, Franklin was disciplined and self-reliant. For Franklin, his list of important virtues included temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility. Some of Franklin’s language may not be clear to you. Here is a brief explanation of his virtues taken from his autobiography and edited:
- Temperance: Eat and drink sensibly.
- Silence: Speak when speech is helpful.
- Order: Have a proper place and time for everything.
- Resolution: Perform what you ought.
- Frugality. Spend only to do good to others or yourself.
- In America, successful people are allowed to keep most of the money they make and spend it on things they want. Most companies are like sports teams, they are highly competitive. Many jobs require workers to compete with others. Being competitive can be helpful in many jobs, but it is not so important in others. Think about jobs that you’d like to get and talk to your friends and classmates about jobs they want to get. Are the jobs mentioned those that require a competitive person?
Photos and Illustrations Credits
All photographs are reproduced with permission (unless public domain).
Author, J. D. Thorne
Babe Ruth, John McGraw, Nick Altrock and Al Schact, Bain News Service
|Library of Congress|
$100,000 Infield,15, 140
10 Commandments of Baseball, 113, 115, 140-141
1919 White Sox scandal, 70, 138
1994 players’ strike, 61, 91
2020 season (The), 42, 100
20th century, 1, 2, 30, 36, 45, 68, 96, 159, 162
20th Century Story of Baseball and America, 68-95
21st Century Baseball, 96-100
38th parallel, 80, 81
3-Rs Programs, 75
56-consecutive game hitting streak, 18, 28, 77, 78, 175
58 combat missions—GWH Bush, 156
Images and text Copyright 2020 by Sporting Chance Press; illustrations by Bill Potter.