Early “Viral” Baseball Stories

We know today that sometimes things go “viral” on the internet. Maybe they are funny videos. Maybe it’s a particularly interesting story or a shocking photo. However, memes and “viral” phenomena are not new things. They’ve always happened. And, to prove that, researchers at Northeastern have compiled a database of things that were going viral  back in the 19th century, when newspapers and magazines were the main news sources. This nicely lines up with the time where baseball became a national sport, so I decided to take a look. While time and tide (and the fact that there was a whole Civil War and Reconstruction going on) means that it’s likely the database isn’t complete and doesn’t have nearly as much baseball as you might think, I definitely found some fascinating things.

You can see some of what I found below the jump:

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Mark Hamburger and Spikes: America’s Newest Comedy Duo

The setting, Frontier Field in Rochester, NY. July 4th. For some reason, the fireworks aren’t working yet. Desperate to keep the fans from getting annoyed, two heroes emerge: reliever Mark Hamburger and team mascot Spikes.

They do Yoga. Hilarity ensues.




Semi-Handstand.... Spikes was having trouble...

Semi-Handstand…. Spikes was having trouble…

Deeeeepppp breathing....

Deeeeepppp breathing….

Leg Lift.....

Leg Lift…..

Oh... oh dear, Spikes...

Oh… oh dear, Spikes…

This is called the Warrior pose, right? I can't remember much from the Wii Fit Trainer...

This is called the Warrior pose, right? I can’t remember much from the Wii Fit Trainer…





Okay, I'd fall over on my face....

Okay, I’d fall over on my face….


Holy cow.

Holy cow.

Okay, that's really impressive, he held himself up there for several seconds, long enough for me to take two pictures.

Okay, that’s really impressive, he held himself up there for several seconds, long enough for me to take two pictures.

And then, after I had finished taking pictures… HE STRAIGHT UP BREAK-DANCED.

Seriously, here’s the aftermath:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSo… yeah… that’s something you don’t see every game.

Continuum Classic: The Luckiest Man

(This article was initially published on July 4, 2012.)

It was July 4th, 1939. Lou Gehrig was a dying man. Earlier that year, he’d ended his 2,130 consecutive game streak, taking himself out before a game in Detroit for the good of the team (he was hitting .143 with an RBI). A visit to the Mayo Clinic in June confirmed the worst: he had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, the disease that now carries his name. Although his mind would remain intact, his body would slowly betray him. Although his wife had told the doctors to try and withhold some of the more horrible details of the diagnosis from him, there is evidence to suggest that Lou knew, somehow, that he was on his way out. He announced his retirement from the game he loved.

So it was on Independence Day that the Yankees held a day in his honor. They retired his number 4- the first in baseball to be so honored. Some of his most famous teammates, including Babe Ruth, joined delegates from across the country in Yankee Stadium.

Everybody knows how the speech began, and many know how it ends, as can be seen below:

However, that was because, as amazing as it sounds, no media outlets had recorded the whole thing. That is partly why Gary Cooper‘s speech in Pride of the Yankees is occasionally played instead, although it moved the beginning of the speech to the end for artistic reasons and was more of a paraphrase of the actual words Gehrig gave on that day.

Since Gehrig’s death in 1941, he has remained an inspiration and a rallying-cry in the fight against ALS and similar diseases. What had been before Gehrig a little understood disease is now studied across the world.

Progress has been made. A few years back, a report came out that suggested that people who have a history of concussions may be more likely to develop an ALS-style disease (Gehrig, it should be noted, took plenty of beanballs during his career, and also had played football at Columbia), and there is also some evidence that genetics and mutations may also play a role. Despite this, however, there remains no cure.

Some other works of mine currently up….


Here’s a freelance story I did on Nathan Suyematsu, a multi-sport athlete who is currently playing for the Newark Pilots of the PGCBL.

And here’s a slightly-rewritten repost of my analysis of how much Bobby Bonilla gets paid by the Mets, despite the fact he is long retired.