Here we stand at the Final Four of Baseball version 2018. When Willie Mays was traded from the Giants to the Mets in 1972, my enthusiasm for baseball declined and I became an A’s fan. In 1994 with the baseball strike, I threw in the towel and said baseball is not for me. Imagine my surprise last weekend when I found out the Brewers and Astros are in the Final Four and they are not playing the Red Sox and Dodgers respectively. In trying to figure out what happened, I learned a few other things about baseball, too. Maybe you knew all this, but, I did not.
Starting with the Boston Red Sox, turns out they were not the Red Sox at their start in 1901. Their sox were actually blue. They worked out the socks color by 1907 though and became the Red Sox even though there was another team in Cincinnati called the Red Stockings at the time (still is). They’ve played in the American League forever.
The Los Angeles Dodgers were actually the Brooklyn Atlantics at their start in 1883 to later be the Robins and other names until in the 1930s when they adopted Dodgers named after pedestrians who were dodging the streetcars of Brooklyn. Go figure. By 1958 they had their fill of streetcars I suppose and they left the dodging of streetcars for the dodging of cars in Los Angeles where there weren’t anymore streetcars left at all. They have always played in the National League.
Now is when League hopping begins, but, it’s much bigger than that. The Astros of Houston were originally the Colt .45s in 1962 when they were new to the National League. When the new Astrodome was finished in 1965, they bonded with the name, “Houston, we have a problem” NASA, and there it was. The Astros were born. Then, in 2013, with a couple of new teams added to the mix, they migrated to the American League, but, stayed in Houston as the Astros. With the introduction of inter-league play, they still got to play many of their old National League opponents from the 50 years they spent in the National League. Movin’ on.
Lastly and most interesting are the Brewers of Milwaukee. Milwaukee’s former team from 1953, the Braves, which were actually the Boston Braves before they were the Milwaukee Braves, abandoned Milwaukee for Atlanta in 1966. That vacuum was filled only 4 years later by the upstart 1 year old Pilots from Seattle trading in the views of Puget Sound and Mt. Rainier for Lake Michigan, and, pretty much Lake Michigan. (Seattle now has the Mariners). So in 1970 the Pilots became the Brewers in the American League. In 1998, they changed leagues to move to the National League for a balance of teams. The Brewers have actually been in 4 different divisions (of 6 total) over their shortish history. They and the Astros are also the only teams to have changed leagues in the last hundred years or so.
So I catch up on 30 years of history all in one pass. I doubt it will prompt me to start paying attention to batting averages, home run leaders and ERAs. Just as well. I have trouble with 3 and a half hour games. Too much standing (or sitting) around. I think I’ll stick with soccer.