Today's History Highlights Archive

Baseball, U-boats and ice cream in Today’s History Highlights – 7.22.2013

George Washington ate how much ice cream? Boston 1775, with the author’s usual thoroughness, can shed some light on the issue. While Washington apparently liked ice cream, New England’s favorite dessert, it wasn’t as much as some have speculated. Estimates that he spent up to $100,000 on the stuff are not credible. He did, however, serve it at the parties he was famous for. Washington generally surrounded himself with as many pretty young women as possible, and ice cream was one luxury item that could be relied on to please the crowd.

German U-Boat of the model that attacked a tugboat off Orleans, Massachusetts.

German U-Boat of the model that attacked a tugboat off Orleans, Massachusetts.

If you think the attack of the summer tourists is bad on Cape Cod, be glad you weren’t around in 1918. If you had been, today your main topic of conversation would have been the German U-boat that attacked a defenseless tugboat and four barges off Orleans. The attack touched off a wild scramble to rescue the civilians who were aboard the barges and the tug. The German U-156 had a long record, as she sunk 44 ships, hit two others and sank one warship before she was lost herself. She took her 77-man crew to the bottom of the sea in September 1918, probably after striking a mine.

Another milestone that passed this week was the anniversary of the integration of the Boston Red Sox. Pumpsie Green broke into the majors on July 21, 1959, pinch running for the Red Sox in a 2-1 loss to the White Sox in Chicago. The Red Sox were the last team in baseball to add African American players to the roster, and Green didn’t get a chance to play in front of the hometown crowd until August 9. Here’s how he recalled the moment 50 years later: “I said, ‘Pumpsie, one thing you want to do is you want to hit the ball. You do not want to strike out and have to walk all the way back to the dugout after receiving a standing ovation.” When he hit a triple off the monster, “The crowd went crazy…They gave me another standing ovation. And I took a deep breath.” Read more at New England Sports Network. Of course, the road to the majors was not easy, especially given the history of racism within the Red Sox, as he explained to the San Francisco Chronicle. Nevertheless, Green went on to a respectable five-year career in baseball that ended with the New York Mets.

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Today’s flashback photo is Pumpsie Green, the first African American player to play for the Red Sox, and team manager Billy Jurges. We’d be foolish not to note that Jurges was a bit of a character. An incident in which his girlfriend shot him (in his playing days) may have partially inspired the shooting incident in the movie The Natural. He also demonstrated that managing the Red Sox was always a pressure cooker of a job. He simply left the team in 1960 citing “nervous exhaustion.” The team then fired him.

Today’s Flashback Photo…

Pumpsie Green, left, with Boston Red Sox, manager Billy Jurges

Pumpsie Green with Boston Red Sox manager Billy Jurges
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