Thursday, March 26, 2020

Five Best Catchers in Pirates History

This one's pretty straightforward, I think. asked each of their beat reporters to rank their top 5 catchers in their franchise's history.

Otherwise, this was really just an excuse to show a 1910 PC796 Sepia post card showing the one and only George Gibson. Check out the sweet mitt, and complete lack of shin guards!

You can go here to see the full article for the Pirates. If you're in a hurry, just skip one-through-three, and five.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Opening day

The 2020 MLB season would be opening this Thursday, if not for the postponement as a result of the global pandemic we are all experiencing right now.

Since we can't quite start to look forward to opening day just yet, I figured instead we could look back at opening day. Or rather, opening days.

From 1906 to 1915, George Gibson made 10 consecutive opening day starts at catcher.
In those contests, the Pirates went 7-3.

Curiously, they never opened at home. In fact, if you look at the whole chart (found here), they didn't open at home from 1894 until 1953. Surely there's a reason. I know that before Forbes Field was built, they often had Spring flooding issues at their park(s), but over 50 years of opening on the road? Wow.

In case you were wondering, George's 10-consecutive opening day starts still stands as a Pirates record.

Want another interesting opening day fact?

Here's one:

In light of opening day having been postponed, McFarland is offering up a pretty awesome deal. Order any of their baseball books between today and April 5th, and you can use the coupon code POSTPONED40 to save 40% off of your order!

Obviously I'm telling you this because I think you should order the newly released biography about George "Mooney" Gibson, but why stop there? McFarland has published some absolutely phenomenal baseball books, written by some excellent authors. This is a great opportunity to get a jump start on acquiring some books for your Summer reading list.

And I'm not just saying that. I put an order in for 5 books already, and might not be done yet!

Stay safe, everyone, and thanks for reading!


Saturday, March 14, 2020

Mail Day!

Earlier this week, I received an email from UPS telling me a parcel would be dropped off at my house on Friday. Since I live in Canada, an email from UPS is rare at the best of times, notwithstanding the fact that I hadn't ordered anything recently. I almost deleted the email, just assuming it was some kind of phishing email.

Instead, I opened it. After carefully reading over the email, I was intrigued. It looked legit. I didn't click any of the links in the email, but instead went to the UPS site directly and pasted in the tracking number.

Sure enough, a parcel was mailed from North Carolina, and was destined for my house.
The publisher of our book, McFarland, is located in North Carolina. Coincidence?


Marty and I knew the book was nearly published. We submitted our final edits last Monday (March 9th) and were told "it's imminent." We assumed that meant a few weeks. Turns out it meant a few days!

UPS emailed me again on Friday, just before lunch, to confirm the parcel had been delivered. I left work at lunch, came home, and sure enough, here is what I found:

Five copies of our book!

I immediately called Marty, unintentionally spoiling the surprise for him, as 5 books were headed his way too, but UPS hadn't tipped him off. Later in the day, he also got his copies.

What a day.

Pretty cool feeling to work on something for years, never really know if it'll see the light of day, and then receive an actual physical copy in your mailbox, and somewhat by surprise, too.

Special thanks to McFarland for taking on the project, but extra props for knowing how to make this a memorable experience for a couple of first-time authors.

Of course that also means the book is out!

Last night, Marty and I put in a large order for the book, and in the next few weeks we hope to have it for sale at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and some local book stores around the London area.

You can also order the book directly from McFarland, and while you're at it stock up on some of their other great baseball books.

Monday, March 9, 2020

The Beck Cup

It has been nearly 120 years since George Gibson was actively playing in the London City League, competing at Tecumseh Park for a the Beck Cup.

Certainly much history has been lost to those passing 12 decades, especially since it was a city league, and surely at the time, nobody was considering that some of their own may go on to star for a Major League baseball team. Technically, I suppose, the MLB as we know it today, didn't even exist then.

But every now and again, something surprising happens.

Back in January of last year, Marty and I were at The University of Western Ontario researching George Gibson and trying to learn about his connections with the Labatt family. Among the archived items we looked at was a magazine about baseball in London.

There was nothing in the magazine that helped us further our research that day, but there was one thing: A picture of a rather old, somewhat ornate, looking baseball trophy: The Beck Cup.

Marty and I immediately recognized it as the trophy awarded annually to the team that won the London City League. More specifically, this trophy was won by George Gibson, and his team, in 1902. We were immediately intrigued.

Credit for the photo was given to Museum London, a museum that, as you can probably imagine, is located in London. The museum isn't open every day, but as luck would have it, it was set to open at noon on this day. We wrapped up our research, set the destination in our GPS, and headed out on a spontaneous little adventure.

The museum opened just before we arrived. When we got there, we immediately asked about the Beck Cup, and were met with blank stares. We explained what the Beck Cup was. More blank stares. Discouraged, but not yet ready to give up, we wandered the museum's three floors. After passing through exhibits on early fashion, and another on cutting hair, we walked through a room of paintings. Slowly starting to lose hope, we made our way to the basement of the museum. As we walked down the winding stairs, a glass case, tucked in a corner, very much off the beaten path caught our eye. It contained some early baseball jerseys, and a few team photos.

Our pace down the stairs picked up, and as we arrived in front of the case, there it was: The Beck Cup!

Less than an hour earlier, we had no idea this trophy still existed. But, thanks to an otherwise random photo in an otherwise random magazine, we were standing five feet away from it.

To think that some 117 years earlier, George Gibson and his teammates raised this trophy in celebration is pretty cool -- there certainly can't be much other memorabilia left from the early days of the London City League.