Sunday, November 10, 2013

"If we're going to win the pennant,

we've got to start thinking we're not as good as we think we are." ~ Casey Stangel   

Casey Stangel was a former baseball player and New York Yankees manager who won 10 "pennants" in 12 years.  I bought a stash of souvenir pennants at auction the other week, and I wondered why  pennant is a term that relates to baseball more than any other has playoffs...but my research discovered that from 1903-68, there were no divisions within the leagues. There were roughly 10 teams each in the American League and National League, and they competed against every team in their league for the championship. There were no playoffs. Only ONE team - with the best record - won the championship, or "pennant", in both leagues, and these two teams went right to the World Series. The phrase "pennant race" was born to describe more than one team competing, but only one "winning" a trip to the World Series, and that team got to fly a winning "pennant" over their stadium.
A "pennon", from the Latin penna meaning wing or feather, was carried during the Middle Ages.   It was sometimes pointed, but more generally forked or swallow-tailed at the end. In the 11th century, the pennon was generally square, one end being decorated with the addition of pointed tongues or streamers. During the reign of Henry III in the 13th century, the pennon acquired the distinctive swallow-tail, or the single-pointed shape.   Navy ships were pictured with pennants flying.
Modern day ships with pennants flying are celebrating "Dressing the Ship" to honor patriotism and those who serve...rather appropriate since this is Veterans Day weekend (despite the idea that every holiday equals sales and not sails!)
The pennants I found are all signed Wincraft and made in the USA.  I looked up the company and found they have been in business since 1961.  From their web site..."What was begun almost 50 years ago as a four-person company serving high schools has now grown to serve schools, colleges, corporations and retail professional sports, racing entertainment, outdoor, and home decorating industries."  Love to see USA companies still alive and doing well.

So, to the Boston Red Sox fans, congratulations on winning the ultimate "pennant race" this year, and even Marilyn Monroe had a thought on the pennant..."If your man is a sports enthusiast, you may have to resign yourself to his spouting off in a monotone on a prize fight, football game or pennant race."

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