Mark Carlson was involved in sports throughout his youth, including two years behind the plate at Parkland College in Champaign. But the former college baseball player and Joliet native recognized by his 1989 graduation that he wouldn’t have a career as an athlete.
Yet Carlson has still spent more than 13 years coming to the ballpark – as major league umpire. His first time in the majors was working a Cubs-White Sox interleague series in 1999.
Fresh off working the National League Championship Series, Illinois Public Media's Jeff Bossert talked with Carlson about his career – and the pressure on umps to make the right call.
Over the course of the last few decades, Major League Baseball salaries have increased substantially, and sought after players have much more bargaining power today than they did a generation ago. During this hour on Focus, host Jeff Bossert talks with Daniel Gilbert about his new book Expanding the Strike Zone: Baseball in the Age of Free Agency. We’ll examine baseball’s growing global influence and how the labor struggles within professional resonate throughout our society.
Gilbert is an Assistant Professor of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is also a Red Sox fan. Don’t hold that against him.
“It’s a home run,” has become an expression many Americans use every day to describe success, even outside the world of baseball. But, have you ever wondered why? This hour on Focus, Jeff Bossert talks with Eldon Ham about America’s obsession with the home run and what sparked the development of the long ball in baseball. Ham tells us about how the home run became a fixture in the MLB by accident, and we’ll remember Babe Ruth’s historic sixty-homer season in 1927.
With several big hitters in the MLB being accused recently of more steroid use, we’ll also talk with Ham about how the homerun is connected to an era of professional doping.
Are you a baseball fan? Do you have a story about an epic home run? We want to hear from you this hour on Focus!
In 1974 on opening day at Comiskey Park in Chicago, several naked fans rushed the field, disrupting the game and starting a riot in the stands; in 1907, the Phillies won a game against the New Your Giants because fans threw enough snowballs onto the field to force a forfeiture. Crazier things have happened.
This hour on Focus, John Thorn, Official Historian for Major League Baseball, joins guest host Jeff Bossert to talk about baseball history. We’ll talk about what Thorn does as MLB historian and what makes opening day so iconic in American culture. Then, during the second half of the hour, Donald Spivey, a UIUC grad and a Professor of History at the University of Miami joins us to talk about pitching legend Satchel Paige. Spivey will be giving a lecture at Eastern Illinois University this evening about Paige and his legacy. Find more information here.
Do you love opening day? Why? Who are you rooting for this season? Join our conversation! Post in the comments section below or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter @Focus580.