Eight on the Links
On Feb. 24, on a blustery morning, eight players from the Washington Senators, Brooklyn Dodgers, and New York Yankees posed for a photograph before a round of golf or, for those not golfing, a rigorous hike, “good work for the legs and possibly the liver,” reported the Herald. Recently digitized as part of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Digital Archives Project, the photo is labelled on the front in a thick white print “HOT SPRINGS ARK 2, 24, 21.” The back, in a penciled script, lists the players, from left to right. Some are among the all-time greats, including Babe Ruth and Walter Johnson; others are mostly forgotten.
The secret of success in pitching lies in getting a job with the Yankees."
His fastball looked about the size of a watermelon seed and it hissed at you as it passed."
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I hope he lives to hit one hundred home runs in a season. I wish him all the luck in the world. He has everybody else, including myself, hopelessly outclassed."
Mays threw pitches at batters when he was angry. One game, he threw at Cobb every time he came to bat until finally Cobb threw his bat back at him, and some suspected him of throwing games as well. His career in Boston ended when his catcher was trying to throw out a runner at second base and accidentally hit Mays in the head. Mays was so angry, he left the stadium after the inning and demanded to be traded. He was sent to the Yankees later that month.
Mays insisted he wasn’t throwing at Chapman – some spectators even thought the pitch might have been a strike – but no one cared to hear whatever he had to say. The pitch haunted Mays his whole life. He had ruminated all off-season, more isolated from his peers than ever.
For my own part, I have long since ceased to care what most people think of me. . . . if people don't wish to give me their good will, I am not going to beg for it."
At Hot Springs, Mays bet Ruth a box of cigars he could beat him on the golf course. “Does that guy think he can beat me at golf?” Ruth asked, with Mays standing beside him. “Want to bet another box?” No, Mays said, not another whole box. “How about half a dozen golf balls then?” No, not that either. With a five stroke handicap? No.
Both men would play in an amateur tournament in Hot Springs that February, Ruth outplaying Mays. Their private match was put off several times, and if it ever happened, it occurred after the Herald’s Hanna had moved on.
Mays stands here, squinting into the sun. His left hand is uncomfortably pressed into his front pocket, while he holds a golf ball in the right. Though it’s his pants that are most striking--cut just below the knee. At odds from everyone else’s.
During that streak, on July 1, he faced his old mentor, Walter Johnson. Harper pitched brilliantly, but Johnson pitched better. The Big Train threw the only no-hitter of his career, winning 1-0. Johnson came over to him after the game, Harper recalled years later, and “put his arm around my shoulder. ‘I’m glad I got this one,’ he said . . . ‘I’m glad I got it, but I’m sorry it had to be you, Harry.’ . . . Oh, what a sweet guy he was.”
Larry Brunt is the Museum’s digital strategy intern in the Class of 2016 Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development. To support the Hall of Fame Digital Archive Project, please visit www.baseballhall.org/DAP