Category Archives: beisbol

Poets Priests And Politicians


Sting turned sixty this month; one day before Dave Winfield did. I’m not sure how much they followed each others careers, but I followed both closely as a tween then teen. I got my first radio around 1980. It was a little portable AM thing, but it was mine. And some AM stations still played current music back then. I was aware of rock music before then. Some kids up the street would play the main riff from “Smoke On The Water” over and over again. But Zenyatta Mondatta had just come out and this was different. It was rock, but it wasn’t blues based. It had a reggae influence. The guitars just sounded… different. I’m not sure if MTV was around yet. We didn’t get cable. But Casey Kasem’s “America’s Top Ten” would show videos. So my brothers and I would watch “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” and other hits of the day.

Yesterday I wrote about some creative baseball players. Today I wanted to mention some baseball poets, priests, and politicians. There have been other poets associated with baseball; including Marianne Moore, Donald Hall, and Carson Cistulli. But there is an active warrior-poet in the bigs. Pitcher Miguel Batista once wrote a serial killer thriller, but he also writes poetry. If you peruse that article, it mentions Fernando Perez as a possible major league poet.

I don’t know if Batter’s Box still does these, but they used to hand out Allan Travers Awards. Travers was a student at Saint Joseph’s in Philly who was recruited by the Tigers to take the mound against the A’s after Detroits players walked off the job in protest of a Ty Cobb suspension. He got shelled. Travers had a higher calling, though. He became a Catholic priest. St. Joe’s, incidentally, has made a greater contribution to sports, and it isn’t Delonte West or Jameer Nelson. From professor Sean Forman created Baseball Reference; one of the greatest achievements of Western Civ. The priesthood itself has made contributuions to understanding baseball. Fr’ Gabriel Costa is a sabermetrician. One wonders if West Pointers eschew bunts and work the count. Finally, former Oakland prospect Grant Desme retired to join a seminary about two years ago.

Many baseball folks got involved in politics. The most famous may be Jim Bunning. He was a Hall of Fame pitcher, not the best one in Cooperstown, but he made it. Along with Robin Roberts and others, he helped the Players Association become a force against the owners. Later, he became a Senator from Kentucky. Unfortunately, towards the end, he was suffering from dementia. What isn’t well known is that one of Bunning’s contempo pitchers also had a political career. Juan Marichal held a cabinet position in the Dominican Republic.

As for the police, there;s always Kevin Romine. Austin’s dad investigates auto theft in L.A.. Maybe he was the guy who found the Dude’s ’73 Torino.

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Media Play


I haven’t written much about baseball lately. Truth be told, I haven’t watched much since the Red Sox collapsed. Maybe I will write a post-mortem on their season, but what can I add that hasn’t already been said? I have been reading about the World Series and it does sound like a classic. Albert Pujols evoked memories of Reggie Jackson over the weekend with his three homer game that was likely the best one game hitting display ever in WS history. Then, on Monday nite, there was the biggest telephonic mixup since last week when Derek Lilliquist misheard TLR. (I have a tendency to think of Carson Daly and Total Request Live when I see Tony LaRussa’s initials.) I’m pulling for Texas to win. They’ve never done it before. They are the AL representative, and Saint Louis has one plenty of times; including five years ago. Bill Lee picked the L.A. Dodgers as the NL’s answer to the Yankees, but I picked Saint Louis when I was in high school and had a fling with the Mets. They were a team to respect, but not like. (I was glad to see Whitey Herzog get inducted into the Hall of Fame last year.)

There used to be a chain of stores called Media Play that sold books, DVDs and CDs. I liked it, but it went out of business around the time Saint Louis defeated Detroit. Today, I wanted to highlight three former baseball players that personify that store’s merchandise; an author, an actor, and a singer.

Before Jim Bouton, there was Jim Brosnan. Brosnan wrote two in-season diaries; The Long Season and Pennant Race. I have yet to read the latter, but I thought that the former was better than Ball Four once I finally read it. Plus, he didn’t have to have Leonard Schecter help him write it. Bouton’s book may have been more historic at the time he wrote it, but I didn’t read it until at least ten years after it came out. Brosnan was inducted into the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of Eternals four years ago. If you ask me, that is a higher honor than getting a plaque in Cooperstown.

Chuck Connors was an Eisenhower-era Man. He played baseball and hoops and was also Lucas McCain on “The Rifleman.” I’m still in search of the elusive Center of the Entertainment Universe, but he might be it. Dennis Hopper appeared on that Western. And Hopper is The Center of The Hollywood Universe. Connors connects you to the NBA, major league baseball and the Pacific Cast League; which was still big back then. There’s also a football connection. Sid Gillman appeared on the show. He was one of the most influential coaches in football history; practically invented film study. His coaching tree is like a sequoia.

Last but not least, I checked out Dave Marsh’s New Book of Rock Lists the other day and came across Lee Maye. I had heard of The Rifleman even if the show was before my time, but I wasn’t familiar with Maye at all. Phill Millstein argues that this doo wopping outfielder was the best combination baseball player-musical artist. Check the link out.

I was on Monday Night Sports a month ago and he suggested that the reason some players of that era moonlighted in other entertainment fields was because sports salaries weren’t as high as they are now and they needed the money. He may have a point. Ironically, I was talking about Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax and their joint holdout. Chuck Connors helped act as an intermediary between the two pitchers and the Dodgers.

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More about the Leaders of the Free World (and baseball!)


I visited the FDR Home in Hyde Park with my wife and mother-in-law a couple of months ago. It was right after the Bowash earthquake of 2011 and right before Hurricane Irene (why don’t they name earthquakes, too?)

I picked up a souvenier in the gift shop. It was a set of documents relating to presidents and our national pastime. I think it has something from everyone from Hoover to Clinton. My favorites are the JFK telegrams regarding Jackie Robinson and the memo from Donald Rumsfeld recommending that Gerald Ford call Sparky Anderson to congratulate him on the Reds 1975 World Series win. Ford was more of a football man and I know he opted to watch Michigan-Michigan State instead of Game One of the World Seires. (Check out my post from last week about the presidential diary.)

Take a click and enjoy!

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Harry Dalton for the Hall of Fame?


I have piece over at Baseball Past and Present about Harry Dalton’s Cooperstown credentials. I feel it is rather timely, seeing how the Brewers are trying to make the World Series and he was their GM 29 years ago when they once made it all the way to Game Seven but lost to the Cardinals.

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The End of Baseball Blogging and the Last Blogger


Steve Treder makes a good point in this BTF thread that went political soon after it started:

There is something, though, to the notion that “it used to be better,” and it’s this: there was a time when we could engage in genuine, passionate and interesting discussions about various baseball topics — PEDs, the DH, fielding metrics, interleague play, and so on — because there was a certain freshness to them. We hadn’t yet beaten them to a horrible death. But we have now. Do we really need to have a discussion about whether the DH is a good rule? Is there anything that all of us hasn’t said about a question such as that, gazillions of times?

Someone was mourning the good old days when Baseball Think Factory was known as Baseball Primer. In some respects, I miss those days, too. But life goes on, we hope. I think about writing about other topics besides baseball.

This past week I started two or three projects that I’ll probably never finish. One had nothing to do with writing. It was an attempt by me to see if there was a way of factoring semiprimes by treating them all as differences of squares. For a man with no math beyond calculus, this was a dangerous experiment. I have about 1500 words of a totally uncomprehensive history of organized crime on a legal pad. And I have been thinking about using the format of the Pulp Fiction screenplay to write about a famous baseball game from years past.

I did read a short book about the beginning of the Civil War by Emory Thomas and thought for a moment about tracking down some Vietnam vets and start an oral history project on that war. How was your weekend?

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Greenies – An Appeal to Readers


Does anyone here know how teams and players acquired greenies back in the Sixties? Who were the suppliers? I’m sure this was discussed in the steroids threads at BBTF, but I didn’t follow those too closely.

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If Imitation Is Homage, The Wall Street Journal Loves Me


Six Degrees of Jack McKeon

I didn’t write anything about Jack McKeon, but this fits the style of some of my work going back to the Mike Morgan piece I wrote ten years ago.

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