Sunday, May 30, 2010

Streak of perfection


For only the second time ever, Major League Baseball has had two perfect games in the same season. And, like the other occasion, in 1880, they occurred in the same month.

May 2010 is when Oakland's Dallas Braden and Philadelphia's Roy Halladay (pictured) recorded 27 consecutive outs to notch only the 19th and 20th perfect games in major league history. Some 130 years ago, Lee Richmond of Worcester and Providence's Monte Ward threw perfect games just five days apart in June 1880.

The subject of my latest published biography, Ray Schalk, was the catcher the fifth perfect game ever. On April 30, 1922, Charlie Robertson, making only his fourth major league start, blanked Ty Cobb and the Detroit Tigers.

MLB, which has gone years and even decades between perfect games, has now seen three perfect games in less than a year. Mark Buehrle of the White Sox had one last July. Note that after Robertson (with Schalk's help) threw a perfect game in 1922, the next perfecto did not come until Don Larsen's historic performance in the World Series of 1956 -- a span of 34 years. This span was less than 34 days.

Here is the list of perfect games, and a list naming the catchers with a hand in history.

Photo: Associated Press

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Higher than face value


Thanks to Google Alerts, I receive e-mail notices and web links to mentions of the subjects of my past and future books, Red Faber, Ray Schalk and Jay Berwanger.

Some alerts tag blog references. Many of those are comments by supposed experts categorizing Schalk as a terrible pick for the Hall of Fame because of his .253 career batting average -- ignoring, apparently, that he was a long-time star because of his defense.

Anyway, the alerts also notify me when memorabilia or, occasionally, my Faber or Schalk biographies hit ebay or a blog.

Today I learned that someone is trying to sell copies my Schalk biography for $33.36 (plus $4 for shipping). Thing is, the book lists for $29.95 (plus $4 shipping) from the publisher's web site.

Quite the bargain. I'd autograph and ship the book for less than $37.36.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ray Schalk Field re-dedicated


On a bitterly cold and windy Saturday morning, Litchfield (Ill.) staged its annual Little League parade to open the 2010 season.

Ceremonies included re-dedication of Ray Schalk Fields, named after the Hall of Famer who grew up in Litchfield (and was the subject of my latest biography). I was listed as the "keynote" speaker, and I had to ad lib somewhat. I couldn't hold my script and the microphone without having one or the other blow away. (Yes, it was THAT windy.)

The ceremony brought to Litchfield about 18 members of the Schalk family. The baseball star's grandson Jim Schalk (pictured), with his wife, Laura, drove all the way from Florida to be there. Other Schalks traveled the 250 miles from the Chicago area.

After the unveiling of the plaque to honor Ray Schalk, we adjourned to the new Maverick restaurant, where I presented my slideshow and visited with family members and folks from the Litchfield community. Some of the relatives had lost track of each other through the years, so they had some catching up to do.

Despite the February-like weather, it was a great day.