Tag Archives: baseball

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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Filed under baseball, beisbol, Dead Presidents

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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Filed under baseball, beisbol

Gashouse Hillbillies


I did a piece on Joe DiMaggio and Stephen Jay Gould for the Hardball Times annual (which should be out soon.) To give their readers a taste of my stuff I also sent them Gashouse Hillbillies for their website. It ran today.

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Filed under baseball, basketball, beisbol, Hoops, Movies, Pop Kultur, TV

Marketwatch: The hunt for TV’s lost baseball treasures


Never heard a word of this broadcast. From MarquetteWatch:

CHICAGO (MarketWatch) — Even in the earliest days of televised baseball, the late Ernie Harwell understood that less could be more.

On Oct. 3, 1951, Harwell was working Game 3 of the National League pennant playoff between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants for WPIX-TV in New York, a telecast that was seen nationwide on NBC. When Giants third baseman Bobby Thomson hit the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” to win the NL pennant, Harwell simply said “It’s gone” and sat silent for several moments while Giants fans at the Polo Grounds erupted.
Harwell’s call has largely been lost to history — obscured by Russ Hodges’ familiar radio call (”The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!”) — because no recording of the WPIX-NBC telecast has ever been found.

Sure, there are filmed highlights of that game. But to purists, the loss of the original television broadcasts of such classics — there is no recording of the original telecast of Super Bowl I, to name another — creates an unsettling void in the pantheon of sports memorabilia

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Filed under basketball, beisbol

More Free Darko On Football


Here.

I got back into basketball pretty organically. It just sort of happened one summer. Once it took over my life, it wasn’t long before I wanted — or saw that it made sense to be — a generalist. Year-round sports, more material to mine, and the ability to hold my own in any basketball convo that, you know, veered off into another pastime. Comparisons are the devil, but if it weren’t for parallels, life would have no movement to it. If I’m being totally honest, and tired, I’ll have you know that the rush of fantasy sports had something to do with it, too. But I was lazy, uninspired, and it didn’t stick. I don’t think I got that every sport was special in its own way — perhaps too special.

I don’t always agree with Beth Shoals, but I like him as a writer more than any other sports guys. Someone should do a Free Darkoesque blog on baseball. I’ve tried, but failed. One could argue that baseball used to be more Free Darko in it’s glory days, but became less so as athletes with Willie Mays like qualities veered towards other sports. (Mays was a triple threat back in HS. He was a QB not unlike a Vick or Pat White and his best sport may’ve been hoops.) Why did this happen? This wouldn’t be the whole reason, but maybe the AFL and ABA bidding for the services of players showed high school stars that they could make more money playing those than baseball. Joe Namath was a more pivotal figure in sports labor history than I think folks give him credit for.

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Filed under baseball, basketball, beisbol, football, Hoops, pigskin

Popular Crime


I’m really fatigued by steroid arguments. How long has this been a hot button issue in baseball? Feels like years. To me, the most important part of this Bill James essay is the mention of his soon to be published new book. Soon, that is, if you consider next May soon.

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Filed under baseball, beisbol, books

Bethlehem Speaks


A new, clearer, Free Darko Manifesto? This was an aside in an entry on Ray Lewis.

There’s a misconception floating around that FD likes underdogs. We don’t. We like star players, weird players, and players who aren’t afraid to be candid. We are also huge snobs who all cut our teeth in various realms of music snobbery. When players we jock, like Julian Wright, turn out to suck, it’s an embarrassment. We’re looking to catch the next big thing before you do, celebrate the unjustly ignored forces, or pick up on the glorious outliers who just might sneak in and transform the sport in small ways. We love potential. But potential, as it should be, is a burden — for players in real life, and in terms of the way this blog views them. We don’t root for lesser souls; we’re all about those who deserve to be, or become, something rare and cunning. A screw-up or drop-out isn’t FD, he’s the antithesis of it. This isn’t Slackerball, it’s about making sure we’re up on the best the league has to offer. J.R. Smith? He’s not a patron saint, he’s the prodigal son.

The bolded part was sort of where I was going with regards to Maranvillains. I guess I am not enough of a music snob to pull it off like these guys, though. Been reading more James Burke lately, though. He’s probably a better role model for me. Sports aestheticism is a tricky thing to write about.

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Filed under baseball, basketball, beisbol, Hoops, Maranvillains, writing

Pele As A Comedian


This essay over at Run Of Play riffs on David Foster Wallce’s essay “Roger Federer As A Religious Experience”; an essay I linked six weeks ago.

It’s heavier stuff than I’ve been able to write about up to now. It talks about the meaning of Pele. I still haven’t been able to do something as heady as writing about The Meaning of X yet. Do yourself a favor and check it out if you can. Incidentally, “Pele As A Comedian” links to a comment on another article at that blog that mentions baseball.

The perfectly symmetrical face — when generated as an artificial image, which is the only way perfect symmetry happens — is less interesting, less attractive, than the face that bears, however subtly, the asymmetries of ordinary human physiognomy. Pelé is just too damned symmetrical. What did he do excellently? — well, everything…

For the same reason I do not find it especially interesting to watch Albert Pujols swing the bat. Impressive as hell, yes, but not interesting. Everything’s too perfect: the balance, the stillness of his head, the economy of movement. How much more fun to watch Babe Ruth, with his pot belly and huge stride and prissy little mince around the bases.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past decade in virtual salons that discuss sports. Run of Play might earn more looks from me. A virtual tip of the fedora to Bethlehem Shoals at Free Darko for bring this new &^%$ to light.

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Filed under baseball, beisbol, Other sports

The Examined Life


Reggie Jackson, Cardboard Gods, and Satchel.

Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball, the rules and realities of the game – and do it by watching first some high school or small-town teams. – Jacques Barzun (I used to think this often abridged quote wasn’t really saying anything; that it was just empty words.)

Bios: I’ve read a couple of baseball biographies this year as well as a memoir. I like them as a method of learning or relearning or remembering a particular era. I’ve dabbled in the form myself on a much smaller scale than a book. You may notice on that list one that wasn’t completed; one on Bowie Kuhn. I was reading some Robert Caro a couple of years back and his subject wasn’t necessarily LBJ or Robert Moses. It was power. How to acquire it. How to use it. How to keep it. I was overly ambitious and thought about writing about Kuhn in the same vein and show how not to acquire, use, or keep power. I took copious notes but haven’t much to show for it. A few people asked “Who would buy such a book?” The queries I sent out weren’t promising. I did dash off a couple of pieces at THT that were fruits of my research. But enough about me for the moment.

Dayn Perry’s Reggie Jackson and Josh Wilker’s Cardboard Gods cover an era I wanted to tackle by writing about Bowie Kuhn. And Larry Tye’s Satchel was probably a better history lesson on the Negro Leagues than any book I read where that was the goal.

I was curious how a writer like Perry would tackle a bio. His background as a writer isn’t traditional, to say the least. He wrote for Baseball Prospectus and is sort of FOXsports answer to Rob Neyer.

Perry’s bio of Reggie Jackson was really good. I tried reading the recent bio of Willie Mays, but it didn’t capture my fancy. This one does. I liked it better than the Willie Mays bio by James Hirsch I tried to read earlier. Told Bethlehem Shoals that I found the Mays bio ponderous. 500 pages. I don’t need all that to learn that he might’ve been a good shooting guard or QB instead of a baseball player, but baseball was the only game in town when he was growing up. I didn’t need all that to tell me he could hit, run, field and throw. Or that when he ran, it was like gliding. And that’s the stuff I’m interested in.

Maybe being shorter helps, but Dayn’s book seems to flow well. I did find myself skimming over game accounts, but I usually do that in bios. Dayn was the guy who reminded me to user strong verbs and nouns but he also uses good adjectives. At one point, he said magma hot instead of hot. And his book is subtitled The Life and Thunderous Career of Baseball’s Mr. October. If you’re interested in baseball of the 70s, I recommend the book. It mainly covers his career up to 1981 or so then peters out when it gets around to his Angels career and second tour with the A’s. I learned a bit about Steinbrenner and Martin (and Bowie Kuhn) that I didn’t know. Dayn used Golenbock’s bio of Martin as a source and I never read that*. The book also portrays Jackson as some sort of racial opportunist. That really isn’t a subject I’m all that comfortable about but I’m getting a better understanding of it as time goes on. Oddly enough, I learn more about it from reading about sports than anywhere else.

I also read Cardboard Gods this summer. I’ve praised the blog before. The book had some material that wasn’t part of the blog and was more organized into an overarching story of Wilker’s childhood and other parts of his life. Josh is almost exactly the same age as me, so I relate to a lot of what he wrote. He’s also an inspiration for me, as I believe we’re both sort of late bloomers. Did I mention that he was a fellow Red Sox fan? I loved the chapter on Dewey Evans because Josh refers to this game. That was a crazy 12th inning. I called Doug DeCinces error before Joe Castiglione did. My brother can testify to that in a court of law if need be. That Sox-Angels tilt was one of my favorite games of all time. Amy Tan and Bill Nowlin put together a book of great Red Sox games in history. I nominated that one, but don’t think it got accepted.

Nowlin and I have different ideas about these bios. He’s more into relying an oral history than I am. I prefer to see what the journos have to say about someone at the time. Call it the Bill James influence, if you want. Also, I try to capture the times. I talk on occasion to a friend of mine and he also says that that’s one thing he looks for in a bio. That was a strength of Larry Tye’s book Satchel. It won SABR’s prestigious Seymour Award. I said earlier that I’ve read books specifically on Negro League history, but I think I got a better sense of that history through the prism of Satchel Paige. And a better sense of 20th Century American history to boot. Maybe Jacques Barzun was right after all.

* Golenbock isn’t much of a deep researcher from my experience. He just let’s the tape record stuff then writes it down. But he is one of the main reasons I am into sports history. His book about the Yankees from their Golden Age is probably the first adult baseball book I read,

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Filed under baseball, beisbol, Uncategorized, writing

This Would Have Been An Interesting Post-Baseball Career


Heard this guy on the radio today talking about Hurricane Earl. Thought he might’ve been John Cangeolosi and not John Cangialosi.

In other, unrelated, news Carson Cistulli showed up in my dream the other nite. I don’t recall talking baseball with him, but we discussed the Travers Stakes and fantasy football. The odd thing is that I have no idea what happened in the Travers Stakes this year. I’ve been up to Saratoga a couple of times to see it and it’s a blast, but I haven’t seen my horse racing friends much lately. As for fantasy football, a feeble attempt was made to bring the league together this year, but it looks like it ain’t happening.

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Filed under baseball, beisbol, football, Other sports, pigskin