FEBRUARY 1, 1913
Jim Thorpe signs with the New York baseball Giants. The Olympic hero will compile a life-time .252 batting average during his six seasons in the major leagues, which includes stints with the Reds and Braves.
FEBRUARY 1, 1973
Commissioner Bowie Kuhn announces the Special Committee on the Negro Leagues selection of Monte Irvin to the Hall of Fame. The outfielder spent five full seasons in the major leagues, and was the first black to play for the Giants.
JANUARY 31, 2001
The Wall Street Journal’s Joshua Prager quotes former players Monte Irvin, Sal Yvars and Al Gettel “admitting” the team stole catchers’ signs during the 1951 pennant race when the Giants overcame the Dodgers’ 13 1/2-game lead. According to Prager’s WSJ report, Bobby Thomson, whose three-run, ninth-inning walk-off homer in Game 3 of the National League playoffs won the pennant for New York, did not steal a sign before hitting his historic home run. (Nationalpastime.com)
JANUARY 30, 1954
The Giants trade playoff hero Bobby Thomson and Sam Calderone to the Braves for Johnny Antonelli, Don Liddle and Ebba St. Claire. Antonelli will go 21-7 and will lead the league in ERA.(Nationalpastime.com)
JANUARY 28, 1949
Monte Irvin becomes the first African-American player, along with hurler Ford Smith, to sign with the Giants. Although the 29-year old outfielder will play only five full seasons in the major leagues, the former Newark Eagles standout will be elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973, primarily for his outstanding play in the Negro Leagues. (Nationalpastime.com)
Our 1st NYGPS of 2016 took place Wednesday, January 20th at the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse in lower Manhattan. Over 30 people listened to David H. Lippman and Nicholas Diunte talk about their contributions to the SABR Anthology: The Team Time Won’t Forget, the 1951 New York Giants
Lippman spoke about the 50th anniversary of Bobby Thomson’s Shot Heard ‘Round the World, while Diunte spoke about pitcher George Spencer. Both men then took questions on the entire book. A wonderful night concluded with NYGPS Member Jerry Liebowitz conducting a Trivia Contest on the nicknames of the members of the NY Giants. Winners received an authentic signed photo of Bobby Thomson. Thanks to Jay Goldberg for opening his clubhouse to the NYGPS.http://www.bergino.com/
JANUARY 22, 1913
The Giants agree to share the Polo Grounds with the Highlanders. The American League club, which will become known as the Yankees, had been playing their home games at Hilltop Park, located at 168th Street and Broadway, since 1903, when the franchise shifted from Baltimore to New York. (Nationalpastime.com)
JANUARY 20, 1906
Henry Mathewson signs with the Giants, but the right-hander’s performance will not remind anyone of his more talented brother, Christy. The 19 year-old will appear in just two major league games over the next two seasons compiling a 0-1 record along a 4.91 ERA. (Nationalpastime.com)
JANUARY 17, 1922
Benny Kauff’s appeal to be reinstated as a major league player is denied by an appellate court. The former Giant outfielder believed his banishment from the game by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis is unjust due to his acquittal of the auto theft charges brought against him. (Nationalpastime.com)
JANUARY 15, 1936
Horace Stoneham becomes president of the New York Giants succeeding his dad, Charles, who died nine days ago. The 32-year old will hold the position for the next 40 years before selling the team to Bob Lurie and Bud Herseth in 1976. (Nationalpastime.com)
WILLIE MAYS REMEMBERS MENTOR MONTE IRVIN
With audio!! (SEE LINK BELOW)
Hall-of-Fame center fielder Willie Mays was once quoted as saying, “I think I was the best baseball player I ever saw.”
But when it came to life off the field, the legendary player credits his former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Monte Irvin with being his teacher. Irvin died Monday at his home in Houston at the age of 96. Mays, now 84, spoke to NPR’s Kelly McEvers about the man he described as a father figure.
“He taught me a lot things about life,” Mays said. “I already knew how to play the game, but sometimes you need a little more. You need to know how to treat people. You need to know how when you hit a home run, you run around the bases — you don’t stop and show anybody up. Thinking was more important to him than just playing the game.”
For much of his career, Irvin played in the Negro leagues with the Newark Eagles. When he finally reached Major League Baseball in 1949, two years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, he was already 30 years old. Still, his skill was undeniable.
“He had what I call a very good arm, ran very good, good hitter and most of all thinking,” Mays said. “He was a good thinker in the outfield and that sometimes is overlooked.”
When Mays entered the MLB in 1951, he joined Irvin on the New York Giants, where, he said, the older man’s guidance was invaluable.
“When I came up in ’51, Monte taught me a lot of things about life in the big city — well, I call it the Big Apple, New York. I learned very quickly because I had to play the games in the Polo Grounds,” he said. “So Monte was there playing alongside of me at all times, and it was just a wonderful feeling to have someone in the outfield with me to make sure I didn’t make a lot of mistakes out there.”
Mays, Irvin and Hank Thompson went on to form the first all-black outfield in Game 1 of the 1951 World Series against the Yankees. It was a huge moment for baseball. For Mays? Not so much.
“To me it wasn’t, because I knew those guys … it wasn’t anything different. It made me proud to be a part of that particular unit at that particular time.”
When Irvin was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973 he acknowledged that he “wasted [his] best years in the Negro leagues.”
But he added: “I’m philosophical about it. There’s no point in being bitter. You’re not happy with the way things happen, but why make yourself sick inside? There were many guys who could really play who never got a chance at all.”
It was this thoughtfulness that stuck with Mays. When asked about what he will miss about Irvin, Mays said simply, “the man.”
“He was a guy that was sort of like my father. … There was a park by his house there, we would go out and just talk, nothing specific, just talk, mostly about life.”