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  • Another Name on the Baseball

    6 years ago by

     

    Bob Meusel's signature on the baseball made famous by Walter Johnson and Babe Ruth

    Most Breans are aware, and very proud, of the fact that on October 31, 1924, New York Yankee slugger Babe Ruth and hometown pitching sensation Walter "The Train" Johnson played in an exhibition game near what is now the corner of Lambert Rd. and Brea Blvd. Both of these legends, along with Christy Mathewson and Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner, were the first players to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

    After the exhibition game, Ruth and Johnson signed a baseball for Ted Craig that is currently housed at the Brea Museum. Another player present at that game was New York outfielder, "Long Bob" Meusel. And just as his career was eclipsed by such luminaries as Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, this other member of the legendary "Murderers Row" signed the baseball that day. His is one of the other names on the baseball.

    Even advertisements for the game printed in the Brea Progress newspaper relegated Meusel to second billing, listing his name in smaller type, under Johnson and Ruth. A handbill from the actual game doesn’t mention him at all.

    Although his name is seldom brought up when Breans and baseball historians recall that Fall day in 1924, the statistics he accumulated in his 11-year major league career give us a better glimpse as to why he was included on that barnstorming tour in the first place.

    At 6'3", the muscular Meusel was a feared outfielder and considered a solid, all-around player, power-hitting .313 or better in seven of his first eight major league seasons. Hitting behind Babe Ruth in the order, Meusel became the first Yankee right-hander to win a batting title in 1925 with 33 home runs. That same year, he was also the American League RBI champion, with 138. His accurate and powerful throwing arm earned the outfielder his other nickname; "The Rifle", and on September 5, 1921, Meusel tied a major league record with four outfield assists in a single game.

    In 1924, Meusel had a career high of 26 stolen bases and was two hits shy of his career high of 190, with 188. From 1920 through 1930, his on-base percentage career high was .393. Appearing in six World Series, "Long Bob" stole home twice and in a regular season game played on May 16, 1927, he stole second, third and home.

    Bob Meusel and Babe Ruth are the only Yankee players to hit for the cycle three times. Career-wise, Meusel ranks among the all-time Yankee leaders in doubles (338), triples (87), RBI's (1,005) and batting average (.311).

    With statistical superiority to many players in the Hall of Fame, Bob Meusel was considered "grim and unpopular" by fans and Yankee Manager Miller Huggins felt he played with an "indifferent attitude" and "could have done better".

    Looking back at some of Meusel’s exploits during his career, it’s still difficult to understand why he is an almost forgotten character in baseball lore.

    On October 16, 1921, with baseball pals Babe Ruth and Bill Piercy, he embarked on a barnstorming tour of Buffalo, NY, contrary to Baseball Commissioner Landis’ ban against the World Series participants playing in post-season exhibitions. Five days after the tour began, they cut it short in Scranton, PA, but Babe Ruth challenged Landis to act against them....which he did - fining the players their World Series shares, $3,362.26 each, and suspending the players until May 20th the following season.

    On June 13, 1924, with New York leading 10 - 6 in the ninth inning, Tigers pitcher Bert Cole hit Meusel in the back with a pitch. Meusel threw his bat at Cole and charged the pitchers mound, setting off a 30-minute near-riot at the Detroit Stadium that included both players benches, fans, ushers and the police. Umpire Billy Evans, unable to clear the field to complete the game, forfeited it to New York. Cole and Meusel were both suspended for 10 days. Meusel was fined $100, Cole and Ruth were fined $50 each.

    Playing for Cincinnati, Meusel’s final season in the major leagues, on September 12, 1930 during a game against the Brooklyn Dodgers, Brooklyn catcher Al Lopez drove a ball over the head of left-fielder Meusel. The ball bounced over the wall and into the bleachers at Ebbets Field. Ruled a homerun, this is the last recorded bounce homerun in National League history, as the rules changed the following season to rule bounced HR’s as doubles.

    "Long Bob" Meusel, born in San Jose, CA on July 19, 1896, died of natural causes in California on November 28, 1977 and is buried at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier. Not much is known of his life after the end of his baseball career. We do know, however, that there was a reason he was on the barnstorming tour and why he signed that baseball, with Babe Ruth and Walter Johnson, on that celebrated day in 1924.

  • BREA LIBRARY OPEN ON FRIDAY NOW

    6 years ago by

    For the second week, the Brea Library has been open to patrons on Fridays.  Previously closed on that day due to budget cuts at the county level, the library was given the funds to reopen on that day as a result of increased patronage and increased circulation.  Patrons will find the facility ready for use from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  With this increase in time available to the public, the Friends of the Library are looking for volunteers to keep the book store open then, too.  If you can give 2 hours on Fridays, please contact Jeanne Lerner at 714 990-65456.

  • Why we LOVE Brea’s City Hall Park

    6 years ago by

     

    Brea's City Hall Park was once home to a fishing pond.

    Most Breans drive or walk past City Hall Park several times a week, but few really know its rich and varied history.

    After Brea's incorporation in 1917, city leaders decided there was a need for a seat of government. A bond issue, approved in 1922 for $60,000, added to a $15,000 surplus in city funds, enabling the acquisition of the block between Date and Elm on Pomona Ave, (now Brea Blvd), from the Union Oil Company for below market value.

    Early Brea pioneer, Frank J. Schweitzer, developed plans for a city park that included land set aside for a municipal plunge and civic center buildings. Brea's "Old" City Hall building opened in 1929 and by the summer of 1930, citizens were enjoying fun and relaxation at the new Brea Plunge, that included a building for changing clothes.

    The American Legion Building, built in the 1930's, became a meeting place, not just for Legionaires, but for other civic and service groups. In 1933, City Hall Park became a temporary home for refugees from the devastating Long Beach earthquake. The displaced could take advantage of shelter, along with the sinks and cooking plates the city had installed behind the Legion Hall during the early days of the Great Depression.

    In 1948, where the Schweitzer Rose Garden is now located, an enormous, 3-tiered fountain once stood, built to commemorate the life and contributions of highly regarded Brea pioneer, and businessman, W.D. Shaffer. The fountain was demolished in the 1960's when it fell into disrepair, and decades later, a new, modern Shaffer Fountain was re-dedicated on the Brea Promenade, where it now stands.

    In 1952, Vice Presidential candidate, (and Yorba Linda native son) Richard Nixon, made a campaign stop, speaking to Breans and people from neighboring communities.

    The Brea Soroptomist Club, in 1976, sponsored the construction of the Gazebo, dedicated on July 3 of that year. And this last summer, the Gazebo was given a beautiful facelift, ensuring that it will stand for another twenty-five years.

    Brea's City Hall Park is still a focal point and gathering place for Breans, with the 4th of July Country Fair becoming a highlight of the summer months, as well as the annual Concerts in the Park.

    In coming years, time capsules buried near the old City Hall Building during Brea's Diamond and Golden Jubilee Days will be unearthed, no doubt to great ceremony, future treasures of Brea's diverse history.

     

  • BREA GALLERY DISPLAYS BEST OF THE WEST

    6 years ago by

    The top 100 watercolor paintings selected from more than 1,000 entries submitted to the 43rd annual Watercolor West International Juried Exhibition are on display now at the Brea Art Gallery.  These works exemplify a new level of difficulty in this medium.  The Watercolor West Society continues to exclusively feature transparent watercolor paintings in their shows.  These artistic works will continue to be displayed through Decmber 18.   A series of demonstrations by top watercolor artists are being given in conjumtion with the showing.  For more information on these events call 714 990-7730.

  • ART IN PUBLIC PLACES ADDS TO BREA’S CHARM

    6 years ago by

    Celebrated artist Marlo Bartels unveiled his latest work Sakura Obelisk at the new Stone Valley     Townhomes community in Brea.  The 12-foot, handmade-ceramic mosaic obelisk sculpture is the 153 piece in Brea’s Arts in Public Places collection. “The obelisk is festooned with Cherry Blossoms, which in Japan symbolize spring,” described Bartels.  “Sakura is the promise of spring, of renewal.  It reminds us of the brevity of life; the fact that beauty is fleeting, and that life should be celebrated every day,” explained the artist. The Art in Public Places program makes Brea an unusually artistic community of its size.

  • DWIGHT MANLEY Q&A

    6 years ago by

    By Carolyn Campbell


      Dwight Manley is Brea's hometown successful businessman who purchased a huge portion of Brea Downtown in 2003. When approached by BBON for an interview, traces of his boyhood shyness are evident in his short answers.

        Dwight Manley


          BBON: What kind of a kid were you, when at an early age you discovered a deep passion for collecting coins?

            Dwight: I was shy. I loved coins + went to the Brea coin shop where Yard House is now all the time!

              BBON: In 2003, you made community headlines in purchasing Brea Downtown. Today Brea Downtown is a destination location. What do you foresee for Brea Downtown in five to 10 years?

                Dwight: It's only going to get better!

                  BBON:From successful rare coin expert, sports agent, real estate developer, to television producer, what’s next for you?

                    I take each day one at a time. So we'll have to see!

                      BBON: Tell us what it was like growing up in Brea in the 70’s and early 80’s?

                        Dwight: It was a lot of fun: watching open fields + orange groves become the Brea mall!

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