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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Red Sox-Yankees rivalry has body count

Speaking of baseball facts (see Alice's post on SABR-porn), The Q&A column FYI, which appears in the Times's Sunday City section, mentions a surprising bit of Red Sox-Yankees history:
...a stampede in the Yankee Stadium bleachers on May 19, 1929, when a sudden rainstorm during a Red Sox game caused the crowd to mob the nearest exit. Two people were killed — a 17-year-old Hunter college student and a 60-year-old teamster — and more than 60 were injured in the panic.

Many of the injured were young boys who habitually clustered in a section of right field known as Ruthville, where Babe Ruth’s home runs were likeliest to land.

The section was filled that day, and the sudden storm led to a crush at the bottom of the nearest bleacher exit. As people fell, many of them young boys, the pressure of the crowd pushed others on top of them. The next day, the district attorney absolved the Yankees’ management of negligence.

On May 21, the Babe visited Ruthville’s injured boys in Lincoln Hospital, shaking hands, handing out autographed balls, and promising to try to hit home runs for them.

So the Red Sox, in the era of the great selloff of the Bambino and many other players to the Yankees, presided over perhaps the darkest day in the history of baseball, where fans of the player the Sox dealt were killed by the very fact that he was so popular and they were so legion.

As for those sabermetrics faces in the Times last week, I've never understood that approach to representing statistics. Edward Tufte champions it in his wonderful Visual Display of Quantitative Information series, but it seems to me it's only good for one thing -- seeing similarity between sets of statistics, as where Alice noticed Joe Torre and Willie Randolph's similarities. But it inevitably buries some; you may notice that big eyes go with big noses, but will you notice that eyes positioned high in the face tend to go with nose narrowness? I say, better to choose images that more closely represent what they measure, and split the stats up into several groups of related numbers.

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Blogger Ben on Thu May 08, 06:57:00 PM:
The recent story of a Yankees fan deliberately hitting and killing a Sox fan with her car is a sad addendum to this story. And let's not forget the poor student shot and killed by "nonlethal" rubber bullets while celebrating the Sox's 2004 championship, a victory that was surely more raucous because of how we got past the Yankees to get there.