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Part 29 th- September 1939
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29 September 1939
Germany and the USSR sign a boundary and friendship treaty.
By its terms Poland is partitioned, giving Germany control over the area generally west of
the Bug River.
Germany receives nearly 73,000 square miles of Polish territory, the USSR, 78,000 square miles.
While Soviet Union gets slightly more land, the Germans now control the majority of the population (some 22,000,000) and fifty percent of all Polish industry as well as substantial mining centers.
All of Lithuania is transferred to the Soviet sphere of influence. An economic agreement is also signed which includes a Soviet promise to provide Germany with the entire oil output of the Dohowicz fields.
The RAF lost 5 Hampden bombers in a daylight raid on the Heligoland area.
The raid was in two waves. In the first, 6 Hampdens attacked two German destroyers but did no damage; the second wave of 5 planes was wiped out.
A national census is taken to obtain information on rationing and mobilization.
In the House of Commons, Neville Chamberlain says that Britain and France went to war to stop Nazi aggression and nothing has changed that position. Chamberlain is believed to be referring to recent private contacts between German and British representatives that have suggested formal peace negotiations may begin.
In the United States…
In New York city, Fritz Kuhn, the leader of the pro-Nazi German-American Bund, is imprisoned
1. Bill McKechnie: A Great Manager Who Is Often Overlooked
I’m reading the outstanding book 1939 by Talmage Boston. He has an interesting chapter on Bill “Deacon” McKechnie, who, I’m now convinced, is one of the most overlooked managers in the history of baseball.
He has lifetime managing stats very similar to Leo Durocher, who obviously has gotten a lot more notoriety over the years. A possible explanation is that the Deacon, as opposed to Leo, had a bland personality and was once described as being “as drab as a coat of paint.”
He managed 25 years to Leo’s 24; they managed a similar number of games: Deacon – 3607, The Lip -3739; and had similar games won: McKechnie – 1896, Leo – 2008; McKechnie had a .524 winning percentage and Leo had .540. Like Durocher, he had a history of taking doormat teams and converting them into winners within a short period of time. They are both in the top twelve all-time in wins and games managed.
Some of the things I learned about McKechnie from the book:
• His teams won on tight defense, outstanding pitching and good hitting. He was known as the “deacon of defensive baseball.” Baseball historian Edwin Pope observed that during the McKechnie years ”Cincinnati guarded home plate like it was the last penny in Fort Knox.” He took over a Cincinnati franchise that had finished last in 1937 with a 56-78 record, improved the team to 82-68 in 1938, and 97-58 National League pennant in 1939, and World Series Championship on 1940.
• His 1939 Reds team that won the pennant allowed the fewest runs per game 3.87, had the lowest team ERA 3.27, and pitched the most complete games, 86. The team finished second in the league in fielding average, double plays, batting average, and slugging average. And he accomplished all this with players whose names are now largely forgotten. Again, this was a team that was the worse in baseball two years earlier.
• He had an obsession with Abraham Lincoln and was one of the first baseball figures to speak out on the need to integrate the Major Leagues.
• In 1922 he took over a floundering 32-36 Pirates team in July and led them to a third place finish with a 53-36 record for the rest of the year. He decided to play Pie Traynor at third base everyday, launching him on to a Hall of Fame career as one of baseball’s greatest third basemen. The Pirates improved to 87-67 in 1923 and third place. They improved again in 1924 to 90-63, and in 1925 to 95-58 and won the pennant and the World Series – the first Pirate pennant since 1909.
• Managing the Cardinals in 1928, he led them to a 95-59 record and the pennant that year. Through 1928, he had compiled a .589 winning percentage over five and one half years with two pennants with two different teams and a World Series triumph and no finish lower than third place. His teams specialized in defense and winning one-run low scoring games.
• His next stop was Boston in 1930-37 where he managed the league’s completely worst team to a respectable .487 percentage.
• His personal was self-confidence but never arrogant. He treated his players fairly and always took time to explain lineup changes and roster moves to those involved. He was described as “cerebral, not a talker but a listener.” One writer said he was one of the games great strategists, teachers, and psychologists and “could squeeze more baseball out of less talent than any man alive.”
• When asked by Boston owner Judge Fuchs as to why McKechnie was fired in St. Louis, Branch Rickey responded: “Don’t pay any attention to any rumors you hear about why we fired him. They’re all wrong. We like Bill and we think he’s a great manager but we have to fire managers out in St. Louis to furnish divertissement for the fans.”
• When he took over Cincinnati in 1938, they were coming off a 56-98 record and were the worse team in baseball. Two years later in 1939, they won the pennant, and in 1940, they won the World Series. He transformed mediocre pitchers Paul Derringer and Bucky Walters into stars. Derringer was 10-14 in ’37 with a 4.04 ERA. Under McKechnie, he would go 66-33, ERA under 3.00. Same with Walters. Pre-McKechnie, he was 37-53, with ERA over 4.00. Under the Deacon for eight years, he went 152-96 with an ERA well under 3.00. The saying around the Majors was: “If you can’t pitch for McKechnie, you can’t pitch for anyone.”
• He was known to develop his pitchers’ repertoire, fundamentals, conditioning, and, most importantly, control over their temperament. He once said: “If you’re angry, you can’t think, and if you can’t think, you can’t pitch for me.” He refused to allow an angry pitcher to stay in a game no matter how well he was doing. He also improved confidence by sticking with his starting rotation no matter what and rarely upset their rhythm.
• He knew how to pick talent and firmly enforced team rules. He moved on the field with consistent integrity, intelligence, and self-control. He treated umpires with respect but could be firm with them when necessary.
Reds’ skipper, September 29, 1939
To Be Continued
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