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Bloops: The Invisible Fastball

Posted by Steve Lombardi on October 20, 2011

This entry was posted on Thursday, October 20th, 2011 at 10:14 pm and is filed under Bloops. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

22 Responses to “Bloops: The Invisible Fastball”

  1. Steve, both the links go to Swift's minor-league page.

  2. According to the story, Swift's B-R page will need some updating, as he was born in 1920 and died in 1965 (44). Really good story, though. Makes me wish I had been alive to see baseball really permeate America like that.

  3. Wow. What a great story.

  4. Thank you for posting this, I don't think I've had read it otherwise.

  5. John - sorry. Doom - thanks!
    I will fix that.

  6. Link fixed! :-)
    Dvd Avins - thank my dentist for having SI in his waiting room...or else I would have missed it too.

  7. This was my favorite line from the story:

    "In all he plowed three acres and pitched 18 innings that day."

  8. Too bad stats from those days are so incomplete. I'd love to see his K totals, for instance. But regardless, it's a wonderful story.

  9. As an NC resident for all but 3 years of my life, this is a wonderful story of baseball in this state. There is so much of the history that I still don't know. Of course everyone knows about Willie Stargell playing in Asheville or Cal Ripken Jr playing little league in Asheville while Sr. managed the Tourists and later playing in Charlotte for the AA O's, but I'd never heard of Jack Swift. Sounds like a great guy who sacrificed for his family and got to do what he loved.

    You know, listening to sports talk radio yesterday in Charlotte really troubled me. These 2 bozo hosts on the afternoon drive were bashing baseball and how the ratings have slipped and how baseball isn't popular and this, that and the other and I immediately honed in on the problem. The local media is so blinded by a football agenda that they can only complain about the methodical nature of baseball. It's just awful radio and I really don't see how it's possible to talk about Cam Newton for 4 hours during the World Series.

    Baseball has great history in NC and I, for one, love the sport above all others. I love this site and I love the quirky nuances of the sport. I guess one main theme of the article is how TV has altered our lives. Give me a dugout seat, a hotdog, a beer and some sunshine and I'll be one of the happiest guys on earth.

    Thanks for sharing a great article.

  10. @10 704_Brave

    " "I really don't see how it's possible to talk about Cam Newton for 4 hours during the World Series. " "

    This, my good friend, is the provincial nature of the American citizen. LARGE cities' sports talk radio stations ruminate about the Sawx in Boston, the Fightins' in Philadelphia, and Jay Marriotti and Ozzie Guillen in Chicago to the absolute exclusion of everything that is truly relevant elsewhere. But, don't worry, baseball is not doomed - not as long as parents fear paralysis and concussions for their football-playing children

  11. "According to the story, Swift's B-R page will need some updating, as he was born in 1920 and died in 1965 (44)."

    Based on the article, Swift also went by his middle name (Jack), not his first name (Kelly).

  12. @11 - Paul E -
    I completely understand, but when not one segment (morning or afternoon) is devoted to any sport other than football, it really baffles me especially when hosts are seemingly dedicated to bashing baseball when the rare opportunity presents itself. I realize that the Panthers are the big game in town, but I got fed up with it.

    I couldn't imagine letting my kids play football with 100% probability of injury. It's just nuts.

    Oh well, thank God for MLB Network and B-R.com!

  13. @3 I don't think B-R has any way of tracking when every single person who's ever played minor league ball has died. Obviously they could do it in this particular case but generally speaking, it would be a near impossible task.

  14. @ 13
    Do you think it's because they don't really have a local team?

  15. Great stuff, man

  16. @15 Rich,
    Yes, that has a lot to do with it, although this is Braves country (150+ TV games a year locally). When Sternberg made his comments about Rays attendance a couple weeks ago, the (unfounded) speculation of relocation to Charlotte was a topic on sports talk radio and needless to say it wasn't nearly as positive as I'd like it to be. It would be difficult for the Charlotte market to support 81 games, but odds would be better if there was some groundswell of support for it.

    A lot of things start with grassroots movements these days. It happened with college football here and the Charlotte 49ers will kick off in 2013. The problem is that I'm just not sure the support is there for a third pro franchise here. The Panthers haven't historically drawn great crowds although the Hornets did for several years in the late 80s-mid 90s. Apathy describes the city's relationship with the Bobcats but 3 NASCAR races and the PGA golf tourney do very well each year and have huge crowds.

    Furthermore, it's been a challenge to get the AAA Knights to relocate uptown from Fort Mill, SC and I'm not sure if that effort will culminate in a new stadium or not. A lot of the resistance comes from one local lawyer pushing for a MLB-ready stadium at some point. The rest of the resistance is as a result of how the Hornets left and the reluctance to use public funds on another stadium project (like the Bobcats did).

    To me, Charlotte is a semi-viable choice for a MLB team but only if it is the Rays. There are a lot of northern transplants here and no doubt 18 games would sell out right off the bat (NYY and BOS). The tough draw would be the Tuesday night Royals game.

    Verdict: not quite ready for MLB, not quite sure of the appetite. It's a tough one due to metro area size and due to lots of transplants, but I guess time will tell. Doesn't help to have local media outlets not so high on baseball, especially during pennant races/playoffs. (Also, disclaimer to Rays fans: I'm not advocating relocation beyond Tampa, just conjecturing.)

  17. bluejaysstatsgeek Says:

    Steve, thanks for for the bloop. It is a great story. Thank you also to the people at SI for making it available online.

  18. This was a great story, I read the whole thing. Minor league baseball in North Carolina, it seems that every region of this great country loves baseball. The Caribbean, the far east, and the USA all love baseball.

  19. Great story. Collected baseball cards from 1964-1973. Had no idea that minor league baseball was so popular in the late 40's. (42 million attendance in 1949)

  20. @17 it's just as bad in the Washington DC metro area and we have an MLB team. Once football season starts, other than the Nationals, you cannot get a baseball game on the radio, ever, until the World Series.

    Game of the Week, playoffs--it does not matter. It will always be a college football game, or some guy talking about football. If you're near a computer, you can always choose espnradio.com.

    The weird thing is, if there was a sport that was more ill-suited for the radio than football, I can't imagine what it would be. Football is for TV. Didn't they figure this out in, say, 1960? Who is listening to these games?

  21. Great post. I'm facing a couple of these problems.