Baseball Names - and How
They Got That Way! Part XII (E)
The words and phrases are
spoken and written day after day, year after year -
generally without any wonderment as to how they became part
of the language. All have a history, a story. For those of
you who liked Part I, Part II, Part III and all the others
and wanted more, here is more. As always, reactions
and suggestions always welcome.
EBBETS FIELD On April 9,
1913, the Brooklyn Dodgers played their first game in their
new ball park against the Philadelphia Phillies. An account
of the event read: "A cold, raw wind kept the attendance
down to about 12,000 but did not affect the players,
who put up a remarkable battle. Both Tom Seaton
(Philadelphia) and Nap Rucker (Brooklyn) pitched brilliant
ball, the former just shading the noted southpaw in a I to 0
shutout. The opening ceremonies were impressive, the two
teams parading across the field headed by a band. ...
Casey Stengel made a sensational catch....
" The site of the ball park was four-and-a-half acres on the
lower slope of Crown Heights in Brooklyn, a filled-in tract
of marshy land that the neighborhood people called Pigtown.
Ebbets Field originally seated 18,000, with another 3,000
standees able to watch the games. The park had a
double-decked grandstand that extended around the
right-field foul line virtually to the fence in left field.
A small, open bleacher section with concrete seats was
located in left between the stands and the field. Beyond
right field was Bedford Avenue. It was a confined, intimate,
tiny, odd-shaped ball park--and it was a place that on the
day it opened became obsolete and needed architectural and
seating changes. The man the park was named for was Charles
H. Ebbets, who moved from selling peanuts and scorecards to
the presidency and primary ownership of the Brooklyn
National League franchise. It was his vision that created
the fabled ball park.
EEPHUS BALL (EEPHUS PITCH) A
specialty of Pittsburgh Pirate pitcher Truett Rip" Sewell,
this pitch sort of sailed to the plate in a high, lazy arc
that tantalized overeager hitters. With his trick pitch,
Sewell won a grand total of 42 games in 1943 and 1944.
Sewell explained that he developed the pitch after a war
injury made him change his wind-up. He adopted an overhand
delivery because he was no able to pivot on his right foot.
EIGHTH WONDER OF THE WORLD On what was once Texas
swampland and a wind-swept prairie, the Houston Astros once
played baseball in the Astrodome, which many nicknamed the
Eighth Wonder of the World. Built at a cost of $38 million,
the colossal complex sprawled over 260 acres six miles from
downtown Houston. The facility had the biggest electric
scoreboard and the largest dome ever constructed. It was the
largest clear-span building ever built and the largest
air-conditioned stadium ever. The Astrodome had 45,000 plush
opera-type seats, from which fans viewed athletic events in
the additional comfort supplied by a 6,000-ton
air-conditioning system that maintained the temperature in
the stadium at 72 degrees. The inspiration for the Astrodome
was the Roman Coliseum, built circa 80 A.D., which prodded
Judge Roy Hofheinz, president of the Houston Sports
Association, the owners of the team, to press for the
creation of a domed stadium.
"I knew with our heat, humidity and rain,
the best chance for success was in the direction of a
weatherproof, all-purpose stadium," said Hofheinz.
Buckminster Fuller, media-famed ecologist and inventor of
the geodesic dome, served as consultant to the project.
Hofheinz said, "Buckminster Fuller convinced me that it was
possible to cover any size space so long as you didn't run
out of money." They didn't run out of money and even had $2
million to spare for the 300-ton scoreboard, with 1,200 feet
of wiring, that stretches 474 feet across the brown pavilion
seats in center field.
"El Duque" Pitcher Orlando
Hernandez, for his lordly ways.
"El Duquecito" Adrian Hernandez
because of a pitching style similar to Orlando.
"El Duque" Hernandez, the younger Cuban,
is not related to his elder countryman.
"El Maestro" Martin Dihigo, played all nine positions
well. The native of Cuba was a star in leagues in
Mexico, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico as well as a 12-year
veteran of the Negro Leagues.
"El Presidente" Dennis Martinez,
pitcher, played For Baltimore Orioles (1976-1986), Montreal
Expos (1986-1993). He had a commanding manner about
"El Tiante" Luis Tiant, a tribute to
his Cuban roots and to him.
$11,000 LEMON In 1908, Rube Marquard
was purchased by John McGraw of the New York Giants from the
minor league Indianapolis team. The $11,000 paid for
Marquard was a record sum paid for a minor leaguer at that
time. Since Marquard's record during his first three years
with the Giants was nine wins and 18 losses, McGraw's
judgment was criticized and Marquard was labeled the
"$11,000 Lemon." However, in l9l l the left-handed pitcher
rewarded McGraw's patience and showed that the Giant
manager's judgment was correct by
achieving a record of 24-7. The next year his record l 9
consecutive victories powered the Giants to the National
League pennant. And there were those who then called him the
"Ellie" Affectionate abbreviation of
former Yankee catching great Elston Howard's first name.