Sunday, July 10, 2011

1912 Boston Red Sox New Idea: Infield Rain Tarp

Many of you know I prefer the historical stories and contributions of the overlooked common people. There is a lot of huppola regarding the April 1912, 100th Anniversary of the opening of Fenway Park. However, I recently came across this very important, wee tid bit of historical significance that should be brought to light.

When the Red Sox are playing a game and it begins to rain, many times the umpire will call for a "rain delay." And what occurs at this time? A crew of men & women rush onto the field and cover the infield with huge tarps to protect the infield sand from becoming sloppy mud. Who thought of this? Well, it was James Robert "Loafer" McAleer (July 10, 1864 – April 29, 1931), a professional center fielder, manager, and stockholder in Major League Baseball who assisted in establishing the American League.

McAleer spent most of his 13-season playing career with the Cleveland Spiders, and went on to manage the Cleveland Blues, St. Louis Browns, and Washington Senators. Shortly before his retirement, he became a major shareholder in the Boston Red Sox. Though today he is most often remembered for initiating the customary request that the President of the United States throw out the first ball of the season. However, I believe his more important contribution to professional baseball and its fans was the idea of covering the infield with waterproof tarps to protect the intregity of the playing field.