Tuesday, December 22, 2009

We're Famous! Sort Of. Oh, and Happy Holidays.

Click image for larger version

Before we sign off for 2009, a couple of blogs have linked to us over the last couple days. The boys at Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness gave us a shout-out at the bottom of their latest post, as did the L.A. Times' Jon Weisman on his Dodger Thoughts blog. A big thanks to both of them, and be sure to check out their excellent stuff (even if you're not a Dodger fan). And if you're wondering about the "Tragic Illness" tag...you're obviously not a Simpsons nerd.

And with that, it's time to do as the Visalia Cubs did for their season ticket holders in 1950, and wish all of you a tremendous holiday season and new year. We'll talk to you in 2010...which, if you hadn't noticed, is not far off at all.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Hawk Harrelson and the 1961 Visalia Athletics

Click image for larger version

Editor's Note: We've been going a bit chronologically with some of our initial posts, but I want to make sure we don't get locked into that as an obligation. So, after talking about the 1949 team, we're going to skip ahead today to 1961. Don't worry; we'll come back to the 40s and 50s later. But like the writers of Lost, we reserve the right to skip forward and backward in time as we see fit.

Ken "Hawk" Harrelson is arguably the most polarizing non-national sports broadcaster in the country. His ultra-homerish call of Chicago White Sox games have become famous around the baseball world, as he refers to the Sox as "the good guys," yells "Hell yes!" whenever something exciting goes their way, and punctuates their home runs with "You can put it on the booaarrrrrd...Yes!" He's spawned reams of internet analysis, both favorable and, well, not so much.

One thing that can't be debated, however, is that his path to fame went through Visalia.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Team Photos: 1949 Visalia Cubs

Click image for larger version

The 1949 Visalia Cubs won few beauty contests and even fewer ballgames; they lost 98 out of 140 contests, finishing last in the California League. But if you can look at this team photo without smiling, you're either having an especially bad day, or you're a robot.

The '49 squad was initially managed by Leon "Red" Treadway (first row, 3rd from right). Treadway was a player-manager who had enjoyed a 2-year stint with the New York Giants during World War II before embarking on an extended tour of the Minor Leagues. Poor defense and an inability to hit with runners on base doomed his career in the bigtime, and poor pitching would be his demise in Visalia.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Programs from the Past: 1950

Click image for larger version

The cover of the 1950 yearbook is a dramatic shift in style from previous editions, and while it may seem a little boring at first, it's actually an impressive piece of modernist art that was well ahead of its time.

First, the pitcher's mechanics are nearly dead-on, which is rare in a baseball illustration (you could argue that the seams of the ball wouldn't really spin that way, but you're forgetting about the knuckleball). Second, the textured blue background is tastefully done. And third, the concept of having the ball flying at the viewer is quite innovative. No camera in the world could have captured this kind of real-life image in 1950; shutter speeds simply weren't fast enough. The artist, then (whom we know nothing about other than the "Shepard" tag at the bottom right corner of the drawing) was working entirely from his or her imagination, and not from an actual still-shot.

Whoever "Shepard" was, we raise a toast to her/him/it, and encourage you to click the link for the rest of the 1950 program.