It’s Christmas Day, and like many of you, we here at Seeds All Day are celebrating the holidays with our families. Much of America, including our favorite players, their managers and front office employees are doing the exact same, which typically makes Christmas Day a slow one for the American pastime news cycle. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been big happenings in the baseball world on December 25th.
On Christmas day, 1862 a reported crowd of 40,000 turned out to watch two teams of imprisoned Union Army soldiers play a baseball game at Hilton head, South Carolina. While the actual size of the crowd has been debated by historians, we do know that the Civil War played a huge role in spreading the game of baseball across the country and that this Civil War Christmas Game was the best attended game of the 19th century.
Nellie Fox was born on Christmas day of 1927. Fox led the AL in hits four times, won three Gold Gloves, played in 12 All-Star Games, and was AL MVP for the 1959 White Sox. It would not be until 1997, 23 years after his death, that Fox would finally be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
On December 25th, 1940 South Side Park, the first home of the Chicago White Sox, was destroyed by fire.
The most prolific leadoff hitter and basestealer of his generation, Rickey Henderson was born in Chicago on Christmas day in 1958. The Hall of Famer is Major Leage Baseball’s all-time leader in stolen bases (1,406), runs scored (2,295) and has the record for most stolen bases in a single season (130).
More tragically, baseball lost one of its legends on Christmas day of 1989. It was that fateful day that Billy martin, former infielder and five-time manager of the New York Yankees lost his life at the age of 61 in a one-car accident. As skipper, Martin had a penchant for turning losing teams into winners and for butting heads with veteran players and owner George Steinbrenner, but was able to overcome those issues to lead the Yankees to a World Series title in 1977.