I was listening to the great baseball podcast “This Week in Baseball History” the other day, when one of the co-hosts, Bill Parker, paid tribute to someone celebrating a birthday that week – Gavvy Cravath.
I knew of Gavvy Cravath as baseball’s home run king prior to Babe Ruth, but that was about all I knew. It’s a great listen and very detailed (it comes towards the end of the show, which dealt with the collective bargaining agreement that netted player’s free agency). My favorite part is what happened to Cravath after his baseball career ended. After managing the downtrodden Phillies for part of 1919 and 1920, he worked briefly as a minor league manager and scout, then returned home to California.
Cravath’s father was the mayor of his town, so it’s likely he passed some political skill down to his son. Cravath became a judge, a job he held for 36 years (listen to the podcast to find out how he was elected … it’s funny). Cravath was known as both “crusty” and “widely respected” per his SABR bio. He had no legal training whatsoever!
I went looking for a Cravath walk-off home run and the Baseball-Reference archives came through for me. Cravath reached the 100-homer mark on June 14, 1918 in the first game of a doubleheader against the Cardinals. What’s notable about this home run is that it would not have been one today. The ball bounced before entering the left field bleachers (those were homers in those days!)
There was a GREAT game story sharing the events of the game in the Philadelphia Inquirer. I’d love to credit the author, but he appears to be going by a pseudonym. The byline is listed as “Jim Nasium.”
How would you not want your name to be known when you could write a lede like this???
“That ancient old ruin, Cactus Cravath, intervened between a double defeat yesterday afternoon when he tottered to the plate in the 10th inning of the opening encounter and loafed around there until he had three balls and two strikes called on him and then nonchalantly whaled the next pitched ball into the left field bleachers …”