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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Another Reason I love Ichiro

posted by on September 18 at 8:35 AM

… is the way he brings back forgotten baseball players from the past as he breaks their records.

George Sisler
was first, when Ichiro broke his single-season hits record in 2004. Now, Wee Willie Keeler is back in the news, as Ichiro tied his record of eight consecutive 200-hit seasons. Keeler was the originator of the famous hitting maxim, “Hit ‘em where they ain’t” and is the reason why a foul bunt is a third strike while other foul balls are not. He could simply hit anything, and he’d foul off so many bunts in a row that they changed the rules of the game to stop him. His famous quotation is also truncated: he said “Keep your eye clear and hit ‘em where they ain’t,” and is probably (though not definitely) a dig at the habit of some players to show up for games hung over, not exactly clear-eyed.

He also brings to mind another aspect of baseball history and language: rude nicknames. No longer would a short player be nicknamed “Wee,” or a deaf one “Dummy,” or a Native American one “Chief.” The most egregious of such nicknames, though, goes to Ki Ki Cuyler, who stuttered, and was known as “Kiki” because when asked what his name was, he’d respond “Ki … Ki … Cuyler.” But since his given name was Hazen Shirely Cuyler, perhaps it was for the best.

Now back to your regularly scheduled Election and Pit Bull Slog coverage…

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Everything about Ichiro is everything about baseball to me. Fundamentals, arm, fielding, batting stance, selective power, the whole 9. Arigato, Suzuki-San!

Posted by P to the J | September 18, 2008 9:22 AM

Thank you so much for this. Ki Ki Cuyler is one of my favorite players of all time. My other favorite old-timer is Rube Waddell (his nickname derived in part from his mental retardation) who used to wander away during the middle of games to follow fire trucks, and who could lose his concentration on the mound when fans held up shiny objects. Great pitcher, though.

Ichiro is also the best interview in baseball by a mile. Congratulations.

Posted by Fnarf | September 18, 2008 9:26 AM

Hey, it was only about 10 years ago that we had Greg "Pee-wee" Briley at shortstop for the M's.

Posted by Lark Hawk | September 18, 2008 10:03 AM

Whenever people complained about Manny Ramirez' antics, I always think of Rube Waddell. Connie Mack actually put him under house arrest to keep him from running off or, I'm not making this up, working as a circus performer in the offseason in Florida.

Posted by dw | September 18, 2008 10:11 AM

I will never tire of the awesomeness of Ichiro, and his oddly translated remarks.

Posted by leek | September 18, 2008 11:03 AM

@ 3:

Briley was an outfielder.

Posted by ivan | September 18, 2008 11:56 AM

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