Dog Days of Summer
Every wonder how that moniker came to be? I would assume that it’s because some animals, especially dogs, do not sweat like we humans do. Dogs get rid of their body heat by sweating through their tongue. That’s why you see them hassling when they spend a lot of time out in the heat. But how did baseball come to use this term? One of the secrets of baseball, in my opinion, is that you play virtually every day. Therefore, you do not have to wait very long to redeem yourself if you played poorly. But 162 games in 180 days can get pretty tiring, especially in the heat of August. This is the time of the year where players are grinding to stay healthy and push to keep their team in contention.
So, here lies the story of baseball and the dog days of summer. On August 22, 1886, in a game between the Cincinnati Red Stockings and the Louisville Colonels, a fellow by the name of “Chicken” Wolf, who played shortstop for the Colonels, hit a long fly ball that did not clear the outfield fence. Red Stockings outfielder, Abner Powell, tried to run the ball down but was interfered with by a large dog that happened to be sleeping next to the fence. This dog was disturbed by all the commotion and proceeded to chase Powell, eventually biting him over and over and then he would not let go. Wolf continued to circle the bases and scored what was ruled a game-winning, inside-the-park home run for Louisville. The dog days of summer had become a reality.
Chicken Wolf’s real name was William Van Winkle Wolf. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 12, 1862. He was a terrific player who played eleven years with the Colonels and won the American Association batting title in 1890, by hitting .363, in a 134 game season. His salary that season was said to be 216 dollars. The Louisville Colonels eventually became the St. Louis Browns of the American League.
Interestingly, we now have a day for fans to bring their dogs to the park for a game. The dog days of summer live.