In an essay on Ty Cobb (1886–1961), the Baseball Hall of Fame asserts that Cobb may have been the best all-around baseball player that has ever lived. He spent twenty-two seasons in Detroit and another two in Philadelphia, before retiring as the holder of forty-three major league awards. In 1936, when the first balloting was held for election into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Cobb garnered the most votes out of the five nominees.
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Tinker, Evers, and Chance
Joe B. Tinker (1880–1948), Johnny Evers (1881–1947), and Frank Chance (1876–1924) were the feared infielder double-play-wielding trio of the Chicago Cubs. In his book Tinker, Evers, and Chance: A Triple Biography, author Gil Bogen mentions this tune while describing the heady aftermath of the Cubs’ second straight world championship in 1908: “Tinker, Evers, and Chance had become household words. They were in the news from coast to coast. The song that Johnny and Joe had signed their name to had become a smash hit. Everyone was singing ‘Between You and Me.’”
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In 1947, Jackie Robinson (1919–1972) became the first African American to play baseball on a major league team in the modern era. This achievement, along with Robinson’s remarkable rookie season, inspired a number of singers and songwriters to compose songs in his honor. In the years immediately following Robinson’s major league debut in 1947, the Library of Congress Copyright Office received deposits of at least four songs with Robinson as their subject, including such titles as “The Jackie Robinson Boogie” and “Jackie Robinson Blues.” By far the best known song honoring Robinson is Buddy Johnson’s classic, “Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?” In August 1949, Johnson’s Decca recording hit its peak position on the charts at number thirteen. A cover of the song by Count Basie’s Orchestra is part of the introductory video in the exhibition.
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In 1920, Babe Ruth (1895–1948) and the Yankees were accompanied to their games by a unique group of musicians—a fifty-piece school band that performed before each game. One of their standard musical offerings was titled, “Batterin’ Babe, Look at Him Now.” After the performance, the Babe would walk out onto the field, spell the applause, and make a plea for donations for St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, an orphanage and reform school run by the Catholic Church that had been partially destroyed by fire in 1919. For most of his youth, it had been Ruth’s school and home. He left St. Mary’s at the age of nineteen after signing a professional baseball contract to play minor league baseball with the Baltimore Orioles, soon being traded to the Boston Red Sox. During the 1920 season, Babe donated one-fifth of his annual salary to the school.
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The 1904 account of Honus Wagner’s (1874–1955) career shown on this cover was just a preview of his future batting triumphs. By 1911 Wagner added another five batting titles to his trophy case, which helped to ensure his becoming one of the first five inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936. Composed by a Carnegie band leader, the music was published as an homage to Wagner by his hometown newspaper, the Carnegie Union.
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