Opening Day Battle In Detroit Recalls Unique Slugfest Between Babe Ruth’s Yankees And The Red Sox

Home runs, which were hit in record numbers last year, portend to be even more prominent in 2018. Opening Day featured plenty of the long ball, including three by the same player.Chicago designated hitter Matt Davidson went deep with a trio of home runs in a 14-7 rout against Kansas City, and White Sox teammate Tim Anderson cleared the fence on two occasions in that game. Also smashing two homers on Opening Day was New York’s Giancarlo Stanton, his first hits as a Yankee after winning the 2017 National League Most Valuable Player award as a member of the Miami Marlins.The barrage of home runs makes what happened in Detroit, where the most runs were scored, even more of an anomaly. It was not necessarily remarkable that the Pirates and Tigers scored 23 runs in a game that lasted five and a half hours, but the fact they did it without even one home run being hit through nine innings.You have to go back almost one hundred years to find the last time that many runs were scored in an Opening Day game without a home run, which was on April 12th of 1926. In that contest the Yankees beat the Red Sox 12-11 and, despite the many sluggers in both lineups, not a single home run was hit.Lou Gehrig was hitting third with Babe Ruth behind him in the clean up slot and, though neither of the future Hall of Fame Yankees went deep, the duo did combine for three doubles and a half a dozen runs batted in. That production led the Bronx Bombers being up 11-1 by the fifth inning, making it seem that the game was going to end up as a blow out win.Boston, however, scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth, and then the Red Sox rallied for five more in the sixth. By then nineteen runs had been scored, all without a ball going over the Green Monster in Fenway Park.Fortunately for the Yankees, Ruth and Gehrig were not the only future Hall of Fame players in their lineup that day. Second baseman Tony Lazerri doubled in the seventh to bring in Ruth, and outfielder Earle Combs hit a single to score Lazerri with an additional insurance run.Since the Red Sox mounted another rally, that extra run eventually proved essential. Not only did New York hang on for that Opening Day victory, they went on to win the pennant.On the other hand, the losing team that day continued to lose all year, nearly twice as much as they won. In fact, when the Yankees were celebrating their pennant at the end of the season, Boston had suffered through 103 losses.Neither of the two opponents in the Opening Day game this year is likely to win a pennant like the Yankees did, nor is either expected to lose as many games as those Red Sox from 92 seasons ago. The Tigers and Pirates did, however, manage to score twenty runs in nine innings without hitting a home run, just as those rivals.And to think, for a few minutes the run total was 21, when Detroit’s Nick Castellanos was originally ruled safe at the plate. That run prompted the Tigers to storm the field in celebration of their 11-10 walk off win, only to have the call overturned after a review revealed Catellanos to be out.Manager Ron Gardenhire, who was coaching his first game ever as the Detroit skipper, was ejected after arguing the overturned call. It was probably good that he was not on the field when, in the top of the next inning, Pittsburgh outfielder Gregory Polanco put the Pirates ahead 13-10.Besides winning the game for his club, Polanco had managed to do what no other player could in that slugfest or in the one between New York and Boston long ago. He had hit a pitch over the fence.

Negro League Baseball and Its Latin Connection

As the 2010 Major League Baseball season begins the declining number of African-Americans in professional baseball again becomes a topic for discussion. Basketball and football has become the sport of choice for many black athletes instead of the game many still consider the “National Pastime”. The topic got additional attention recently with the reported comments of Los Angeles Angel centerfielder Torii Hunter. Hunter, an African-American, in referring to Latin American players reportedly said, “People see dark faces out there, and the perception is that they are African-American. They are not us. They are imposters.” Hunter later admitted using the word “imposter” was a wrong choice. He was only talking about cultural differences. But in spite of the “cultural differences” Hunter was so awkwardly trying to describe, there has been a historical connection between African-American and Latin American baseball players; a common thread that is rooted in 20th Century professional baseball history. The connection between the two from the past that Hunter overlooked: Negro League Baseball.

This spring marks the 63rd anniversary of racial segregation ending in Major League Baseball. On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson dawned the field wearing a Brooklyn Dodger uniform to play first base against the Boston Braves at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field. He crossed over the color line to become the first African-American to play Major League Baseball since before the turn of the century. It was an “invisible” color line because white club owners had denied there was a league policy prohibiting black players from entering the Major Leagues. However except for a few that played during the early formation of organized professional baseball in the 1880′s, no African-American had played in the Big Leagues before Robinson.

This “invisible” color line not only kept African-American players out, but also Latin American players. During this “whites only” Major League era, there were a few light-skinned Cubans that crossed the line. But they faced racial insults and discrimination. White players saw them as no different in terms of race than they saw black players. Out of response to the “invisible” color line, Negro League baseball was born and from its infancy Latin American players were a part of it.

In the early 1900′s, the Cuban Stars and Havana Stars frequently toured the eastern US during baseball season. Since there were dark skinned Cubans on both teams, most professional white teams would not play them. The Cuban teams played the majority of their games against the top African-American teams at that time (Philadelphia Giants, etc). The Cuban Stars in 1920 were one of the initial teams of the first major Negro baseball league formed, the Negro National League (NNL). The team operated out of Cincinnati and was the first Negro League team to use a Major League stadium, as it’s home field. The New York Cubans, owned by Cuban born Alex Pompez, were in the Negro National League for 12 years starting in the late 1930′s. Pompez stocked his teams with not only African-Americans and players from Cuba, but also players from other Latin American countries. His 1947 team won the Negro League World Series. In 2006, Pompez was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

There were also Cuban players on other Negro League teams. Martin Dihago played with not only the Cuban Stars, but also the Homestead Grays and the Hilldale Daisies; and was considered by many as the best all around Negro League player. Jose Mendez pitched for the Chicago American Giants, Detroit Stars, and Kansas City Monarchs. Known as “El Diamante Negro”, The Black Diamond, in his native homeland of Cuba, Mendez ‘s skin color was too dark for him to cross Major League Baseball’s “invisible’ color line. He was the Monarch’s pitching star when they won the first Negro League World Series in 1924. Christobel Torrienti was a power-hitting outfielder in the 1920′s that played with the Chicago American Giants, Kansas City Monarchs, and Detroit Stars. He was a light-skinned Cuban, but it was said he did not cross the “invisible” color line because of his hair. It was thick and curly Negroid type hair. Dihago was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1977, Mendez and Torrienti in 2006.

There were many other Latin American players that spent their summers playing in Negro League baseball.

Winter league baseball also connected African-American and Latin American players before Major League Baseball’s “invisible” color line was erased. Playing winter league baseball was the way African-American players supplemented their Negro League salaries. Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and many other Negro League players spent their winters in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, or Venezuela. They played against the best Latin American players. In addition, many white Major Leaguer players supplemented their salaries in winter league baseball. The legends of many great Negro League players are filled with stories from games played in the winter leagues. It was also a haven for African-American ballplayers, as they did not have to confront racial prejudice and discrimination in those Latin American countries as they did in the United States.

When the “invisible” color line was finally erased, African-American baseball fans did not make a big differentiation about the dark faces they saw on the diamond as more African-Americans and Latin Americans came to the Major Leagues during the 1950′s. They cheered as loud for Minnie Monoso, Roberto Clemente, and Orlando Cepeda as they did for Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Ernie Banks.

Hunter’s reference to Latin American players as “imposters” was a wrong word choice. Along with African-American ballplayers, they also felt the real sting of racial discrimination while trying to play professional baseball. They both were kept out of the Major Leagues for almost half a century only because of one reason: their skin color. Even after the “invisible” color line was erased, they both still faced discrimination in professional baseball. During Spring Training, neither could stay in the same hotels with their white teammates in Florida and Arizona. That did not change until the 1960′s. And some Major League managers and coaches who could not let go of the past also tried to unsuccessfully stereotype them both as lazy and mentally slow.

Their history of facing racism in professional baseball will forever link African-American and Latin American players. It is a connection started in the days of Negro League baseball that goes beyond any cultural differences Torii Hunter tried to reference.

Manchester United’s Greatest Premier League Team

With Manchester United on course for their lowest Premier League finish in the first season since Alex Ferguson’s retirement Janes Jerseys takes a look back at what we consider to be Manchester United’s greatest team since the formation of the Premier League.

Peter Schmeichel (1991-1999)

Peter Schmeichel is arguably Manchester United’s greatest EVER goalkeeper and one of the best goalkeepers the world has ever seen.

Schmeichel joined from the club from Bronby for the bargain price of £505,000 in the summer of 1991 and made his Manchester United debut in a 2-0 victory over Notts County.

Schmeichel helped the club win their first league title for 26 years in the inaugural season of the Premier League keeping an impressive 22 clean sheets.

Schmeichel went on to five Premier League titles, three FA Cups and one League Cup.

He also famously captained the team to the Champions League trophy in his final appearance for the club.

During his eight years with Manchester United Schmeichel made 392 appearances keeping an incredible 178 clean sheets and famously scoring one goal against Rotor Volgograd.

He became the first goalkeeper to keep 100 clean sheets in the Premier League when he kept a clean sheet against Crystal Palace on.

Schmeichel won the UEFA goalkeeper of the year in 1992, 1993, 1997 and 1998.

Gary Neville (1992-2011)

Gary Neville was a graduate on the famous “Class of 92″ which included Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Nicky Butt and Gary’s brother Phil.

Having captained the youth team to FA Youth Cup glory in the 1991-92 season Neville made his senior debut against Torpedo Moscow in the UEFA Cup in September 1992.

With Paul Parker out injured Gary Neville became the teams first choice right back, a position he retained until his retirement in 2011.

After Roy Keane’s departure in November 2005 Neville was appointed as club captain.

Neville went on to make 602 appearances for the club scoring 7 goals, winning 8 Premier League titles, 3 FA Cups, 2 League Cups and 2 European Champions League trophies.

Denis Irwin (1990-2002)

Denis Irwin was one of the most reliable and consistent performers of his generation although often underrated.

Irwin joined the side from Oldham in the summer of 1990 in a £625,000 move from Oldham Athletic, making his debut against Coventry City on the 25th August 1990.

In his first season with the club Irwin helped the club to win the European Cup Winners Cup, defeating Barcelona in the final.

Irwin was an ever present as Manchester United lifted their first league title for 26 years and was he also featured in every game in the double winning season of 1993-94.

During his time with the club Irwin won seven Premier League titles, three FA Cups, one League Cup, one European Champions League and one European Cup Winners Cup.

Denis Irwin made 529 appearances and scored 33 goals for Manchester United before joining Wolverhampton Wanderers at the end of the 2001-02 season.

Jaap Stam (1998-2001)

Jaap Stam only lasted with the side just over three seasons but proved to hugely popular with the Manchester United faithful.

Stam joined the club from Dutch side PSV for a then world record fee for a defender of £10.6m and made his debut in a 3-0 defeat against Arsenal in the Charity Shield.

In his first season with the club Stam helped Manchester United to the famous treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and European Champions League.

During his time with the club Manchester United became the first team to win three consecutive seasons.

Stam made 127 appearances for Manchester United scoring one goal against Leicester in a 6-2 victory.

Stam was voted UEFA Club Best Defender of the Year in 1998-99 and 1999-00.

Rio Ferdinand (2002-present)

Rio Ferdinand is one of the best football playing centre halves of a generation and arguably England’s most accomplished defender since the legendary Bobby Moore.

Ferdinand joined the club for a British record transfer fee of £30m and he is still the most expensive English footballer in history and the most expensive defender in world football.

Rio made his debut for the team on the 27th August 2002 in a Champions League qualifying game against Zalaagerszeg which Manchester United won 5-0.

Ferdinand helped Manchester United to win the Premier League in his first season at the club playing in 28 league games.

Ferdinand famously missed a drugs test in September 2003 which led to him receiving an eight month ban.

Ferdinand has made nearly 450 appearances for Manchester United scoring 8 goals and winning six Premier League titles, two League Cups and one Champions League trophy.

Rio captained Manchester United in the memorable penalty shoot-out victory in the Champions League final against Chelsea.

Ferdinand featured in the FIFA World XI for the 2007-08 season.

Ryan Giggs (1990-present)

Ryan Giggs is the eldest member of the “Class of 92″ and the only one to still be playing at the grand old age of 40.

Giggs made his debut for the club on the 2nd March 1991 in a 2-0 defeat and scored his first goal for the club in a 1-0 victory over Manchester City.

Giggs is the only player to have appeared in every Premier League season since it was founded in 1992.

Up until the 2013-14 season he had also scored in every campaign.

Giggs is the most decorated player in the history of English football with an incredible 13 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cup Winners medals, 3 League Cup winners medals and 2 Champions League winners medals.

Giggs has made over 950 appearances for the club, a record for a Manchester United player, scoring 168 goals.

During a truly illustrious career Giggs has set numerous records including most Premier League appearances, most Champions League appearances, most goals by a British player in the Champions League and the oldest scorer in the Champions League.

Cristiano Ronaldo (2003-2009)

Cristiano Ronaldo was often referred to a as a show pony in his early years with his countless step-overs looking great but not being particularly productive.

During his time with the club, under the guidance of Ferguson, Ronaldo channelled his undoubted ability to become one of the best players in the world.

Ronaldo joined the team from Sporting Lisbon for £12.2m having impressed Alex Ferguson whilst playing in a friendly against Manchester United.

Ronaldo made his debut as a substitute on the 16/08/03 in a 4-0 victory over Bolton and scored his first goal in a 3-0 victory over Portsmouth.

In his first season Ronaldo helped Manchester United to win the FA Cup scoring the first goal in a 3-0 victory over Millwall.

Ronaldo made 292 appearances for Manchester United scoring an impressive 118 including 42 goals in 49 appearances as he helped Manchester United win the Premier League and Champions League, winning a host of personal awards in the process including UEFA Club Footballer of the Year.

Ronaldo won three Premier League titles, one FA Cup, two League Cups and one Champions League trophy with Manchester United before leaving to join Real Madrid for a world record transfer fee of £80m.

Roy Keane (1993-2005)

Roy Keane was a dominating, tough-tackling, highly competitive central midfielder that epitomised the spirit of Manchester United under the management of Alex Ferguson.

Keane joined the club in the summer of 1993 signing from Nottingham Forest for £3.75m and making his debut against Aston Villa on the 23rd August in a 2-1 victory Aston Villa.

During his first season with the club Keane helped the team win the Premier League and FA Cup to claim a famous double.

Keane was handed the Manchester United captaincy following the shock retirement of Eric Cantona at the beginning of the 1997-98 season, a position he kept until leaving in 2005.

Keane made 480 appearances during his 12 years at the club scoring 51 goals and winning seven Premier League titles, four FA Cups and one Champions League trophy.

Keane left the club on the 15th December 2005 to sign for boyhood club Celtic.

Paul Scholes (1993-2011 & 2012-2013)

Paul Scholes is the last member of the “Class of 92″ to feature in our greatest Manchester United Premier League team.

Scholes was arguably the greatest attacking midfielder of his generation, although he was occasionally let down by his ability to mistime a tackle which saw him collect over 120 yellow cards and 10 red cards and famously miss the 1999 Champions League final through suspension.

Scholes made his debut for the club on the 21st September 1994 scoring both goals in a 2-1 league cup victory over Port Vale.

During his first season as a first team player Scholes helped the side finish 2nd in the Premier League and reach the FA Cup final where they lost to Everton 1-0.

Scholes famously retired from professional football at the end of the 2010-11 season before Ferguson talked him into returning in January 2012.

During his two spells with Manchester United Scholes made 718 appearances and scored 155 goals winning eleven Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups and two Champions League trophies.

Eric Cantona (1992-1997)

Eric Cantona was nicknamed “King Eric” by Manchester United fans, regarded by many as Manchester United’s greatest ever player and his name still reverberates around Old Trafford today.

Cantona signed for the club in a £1.2m switch from rivals Leeds United on the 27th November 1992 making his debut as a substitute against Manchester City on the 6th December 1992.

In his first season Cantona helped the team to their first league title in 26 years as they won the Premier League finishing 10 points clear of Manchester United.

In January 1995 Cantona attracted headlines for the wrong reasons as he launched a Kung -Fu style kick at a Crystal Palace fan on his way back to the tunnel after he had been sent off. The incident saw Cantona banned from football for eight months and many argue cost Manchester United the league title.

Following Steve Bruce’s departure Cantona was handed the captains armband at the start of the 1996-97 campaign in which Manchester United won their fourth title in five years.

At the end of the 1996-97 season Cantona surprisingly announced he was retiring from professional football at the age of 30.

During his time at Manchester United Cantona made 185 appearances scoring 82 goals and winning four Premier League titles and two FA Cups.

Ruud van Nistelrooy (2001-2006)

The last position in the team is filled by Ruud van Nistelrooy who is arguably the most clinical finisher to play for the side in the Premier League.

Van Nistelrooy signed for the club in the summer of 2001 joining from PSV Eindhoven for a fee of £19m and made his debut in a 2-1 Charity Shield defeat against Liverpool.

In his first season with the club Van Nistelrooy scored 23 goals in the league (including scoring in 8 consecutuive mataches to set a record which he subsequently broke) and 36 goals in all competitions.

During his five years with the club Van Nistelrooy scored 150 goals in 219 appearances and won one Premier League title, one FA Cup and one League Cup.

With rumours of a rift with Ferguson Van Nistelrooy left the club in the July 2006 to sign for Real Madrid for a fee of £11m.

Subs bench

- Edwin van der Sar
- Nemanja Vidic
- Ronny Johnson
- David Beckham
- Lee Sharpe
- Wayne Rooney
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (the ultimate super sub!!)

Well that’s our take on Manchester United’s greatest Premier League team feel free to let us know if you disagree!