Goodbye, peace. Hello, anxiety. See you later, common sense. Distraction, my old friend, where you been keeping yourself? The playoffs are here and minute by minute my façade of indifference crumbles. The twenty-fifth man on the roster is more important to my life than anything Barack Obama is going to do. I scour the internet for umpire ball/strike ratios. I forget to let the dogs back in, decide the car can go another month before I fix the muffler, and let God rake the leaves.
Dinners out can wait. We see the neighbors way too often. I never liked the movies that much anyway. Sleep is overrated. So is exercise. Forget supper – I’m running to the corner for a six pack. And some Doritos. And some Tums.
Over the last ten months I’ve mentioned in this space numerous statistics on job losses and general cutbacks in the newspaper industry. As sites like Newspaper Death Watch continue to gain traction, and papers nationwide continue to scale back their sports operations and travel budgets, it’s important to get a feel for where the industry is for the people in the trenches, past and present.
Former longtime Yankees beat man and YESNetwork.com colleague Phil Pepe agreed, but limited his answer more specifically to baseball coverage.
“This is a problem that has been ongoing for a few years and seemed to have escalated during the current economic crisis,” he said. “Sad to admit it, but today because of the blanket coverage from radio, television and the Internet, newspapers are not as vital to the game’s well-being as they once were.”
With all that in mind, I still couldn’t help thinking that additional opinions needed to be sought. So I took the the e-mails and queried New York Times Yankees beat reporter Tyler Kepner, Gertrude Ederle biographer and editor of the Greatest American Sports Writing Series, Glenn Stout, Kansas City Star columnist and uber-blogger Joe Posnanski, Pepe and another of my ex-YES men, Al Iannazzone, who covers the New Jersey Nets for The Bergen Record.
As you’ll see, I asked each writer the same basic set of questions, including one standout from Banterer YankeeMama. The e-mails were exchanged over the course of several days in late April, hence the reason some of the material in the answers may seem dated.
I was impressed with everyone’s candor and genuine love for the craft of writing, and newspapers’ place — even now — as an outlet for that voice. Each recognized how technology has influenced the industry, and how a happy medium must be forged for bloggers, beat writers, newspapers and e-media to coexist. Money matters, however, skew the discussion.
On the topic of travel, Iannazzone said, “It’s mostly West Coast games because you’re not going to get them in the paper anyway. So it’s a way to save money wisely, I guess.” There were certain elements of the conversation that due to the sensitivity of the issue, Iannazzone would not divulge, but he did offer this nugget: “I know I traveled less this year than in my five years on the Nets.”
I had the chance to talk to Stout about the book. Here is our conversation. Enjoy.
Bronx Banter: I know you are comfortable writing about history, especially in the first part of the 20th century. What drew you to Ederle?
Glenn Stout: Her story is seminal, as central to the story of American sports in this century as that of Red Grange, Babe Ruth, Jack Johnson or Jackie Robinson, yet to most people Trudy, aka Gertrude Ederle, is unknown. I wanted to change that. In many ways she was both the first modern female athlete and one of America’s first celebrities. Had she not done what she had done, which is not only to become the first woman to swim the English Channel, but in the process to beat the existing men’s record by nearly two hours, the entire history of women’s sports would be radically different. You can, I think, break down the history of women’s sports in this country into “Before Trudy” and “After Trudy.” Before Trudy female athletes were anomalies, and their accomplishments, with just a few exceptions, primarily took place out of the public eye. Many early female athletes, like Eleanora Sears, and Annette Kellerman, were sometimes seen as publicity hounds who performed stunts, and not serious athletes. The question of whether or not women were either psychologically or physically capable of being athletes was still a topic of debate – at least by the men who ran sports. Although there would still be some who would stubbornly cling to that belief, by swimming the English Channel and shattering the existing men’s record, Trudy answered that question quite definitively.
She was the answer. One can argue that had it not been for her women would not have been allowed to compete in track and field and many other sports as early as they did – women competed in track events for the first time at the Olympics in 1928. It may have been another generation – until after World War II – before there was any acceptance of female athletes. I am old enough to remember when women could not play little league, or run marathons, and when school sports were pretty much limited to gymnastics and basketball. Now of course, women can and do play everything. Without Trudy that happens much later than it did.
Trudy also has a compelling personal story that I think resonates with any reader. She grew up in New York, the daughter of German immigrants and overcame anti-German prejudice in the wake of World War I to become arguably the most famous woman in the world. At the same time, she was partially deaf, and was able to overcome that challenge. Swimming the English Channel, while perceived to be somewhat commonplace today, is still extremely difficult – it was the first “extreme” sport. More people have climbed Mount Everest than have swum the Channel, and most of those who try to swim the Channel fail. In most years more people will succeed in climbing Everest than in swimming the Channel. When I first began to research the book, that really, really surprised me, and made Trudy’s story even more compelling.
BB: Why isn’t Ederle remembered like Grange, Thorpe, Ruth and the other greats of the first great era of sports? For someone who had such a profound impact, why has her legacy faded?
GS: Hopefully, my book will help rectify that, but there are several reasons. Trudy herself soon discovered she just wasn’t cut out for the spotlight. Within 48 hours of her return to the United States, where New York gave her an enormous ticker tape parade, she was in the fetal position in her bedroom, completely overwhelmed. She was both slow and reluctant to “cash in” on her achievement. Her attorney mis-managed her career, turning down easy money for a grueling vaudeville tour. By the time that got going a male swimmer had broken her record, and a second female swam the Channel, which stole some of her thunder – the public began to think that swimming the Channel was far easier than it is, something that holds true today. She also had increasing trouble with her hearing – she was partially deaf since a bout with the measles as a child, and that made her less comfortable in the public eye. And few years after the swim she fell and was virtually bed-ridden for a time. And let’s face it, swimming simply isn’t a big spectator sport like football or baseball.
BB: What is Ederle’s reputation in the world of women’s swimming? Is she properly recognized?
GS: Swimming historians certainly recognize her as one of the all-time greats, but in a sport like swimming, records have been broken so many times that it is difficult for any swimmer from her era to remain in the public eye. Her only contemporary recognized b y the public today is Johnny Weissmuller, and that’s because of the Tarzan films. But in the world of swimming, she has to rank as one of the top seven or eight swimmers of all-time. No one else combined her success at shorter distances with open water success, and in the world of open water swimming, I think she’s right at the top. Anyone who has ever swum the Channel, or thought about it, knows about her.
BB: How did Ederle manage to beat the existing time of swimming the channel by such a great margin? That seems almost inconceivable.
GS: There are a couple of reasons. For one, she used a stroke known then as the “American Crawl” essentially what most people recognize as the “freestyle” today. Her coach with the Women’s Swimming Association was one of the strokes pioneers and its greatest advocate. And although it had been used for about two decades, no one believed it could be used for long distance swimming – it was thought to be too demanding, physically. Long distance swimmers usually used the breast stroke at the time, with occasional use of the side-stroke and trudgeon. The crawl was much faster, and Handley recognized that women in general, and Trudy in particular, although not as strong as a man, had just as much stamina. She was the first swimmer to use the stroke in the Channel, and proved the superiority of the stroke. Secondly, her trainer for the Channel swim, William Burgess, was a real student of the Channel currents and tides, and he found a somewhat new route across that was something of a breakthrough. Also, before Trudy most of the people who tried to swim the Channel simply were not great swimmers. They had great stamina, and desire, but as swimmers were rather pedestrian. Trudy was world class at every distance from fifty yards on up. She was simply a far, far, far better swimmer than anyone else who had swam the Channel before. For a swimmer of her ability to take on the Channel would be the equivalent of Michael Phelps to do so today – if he had her stamina. And lastly, while Trudy was growing up she spent summers in Highlands, New Jersey, where she spent hours and hours swimming in the ocean. She developed a very special relationship with the water, once saying “To me, the sea is like a person – like a child that I’ve known a long time. It sounds crazy, I know, but when I swim in the sea I talk to it. I never feel alone when I’m out there.” When she was swimming, she was in her place, right where she wanted to be, and where others found only torture, she found joy, and when you love what you do, well, there are no limits.
The Globe featured such talents as Bud Collins, Ray Fitzgerald, Leigh Montville, Leslie Visser, Bob Ryan and Peter Gammons. Armstrong details how Ryan and Gammons, both locals, were sports-mad, how they were enthusiastic, competitive reporters, and how, in some cases, they had cozy relationships with the teams they covered–Gammons shagged flies with the Red Sox and even “held a locker in the Sox clubhouse.”
Talk about a time gone by.
Yet the article left me feeling unsettled. For instance, Armstrong writes, “The pieces all came together in 1975. As politicians tip-toed around Boston’s tinderbox of busing-related racial issues, the Globe prepared for an unprecedented run.” According to Howard Bryant’s book about racism and Boston sports, Shut Out, the Globe did plenty of tip-toeing around racial issues as well. Armstrong writes about Will McDonough, “a tough-talking Irishman,” with affection, but does not call into question McDonough’s attitudes on race (detailed here in an article by Glenn Stout). “McDonough wrote for all fan bases,” reports Armstrong. I don’t know if the brothers from Roxbury would agree.
But my biggest gripe with the piece is the lack of historical context. If the Globe was, as Armstrong contends, arguably the best sports department ever–and perhaps it was–who else is in the conversation? For some perspective, I e-mailed John Schulian, a former sports columnist with an encyclopedic knowledge of the great newspaper sports departments.
Here is Schulians’s reply:
Call me a cranky old man if you must, but I think the piece is missing something very important — the names of all the great sports sections that are legitimate challengers to the Globe’s alleged omnipotence. Where’s Stanley Woodward’s New York Herald Tribune? What about the two glorious eras that the L.A. Times enjoyed? What about the wars in Philadelphia between the Bulletin and the Daily News? Just for the hell of it, I might even throw in Newsday when Jack Mann was preaching anarchy on Long Island and the irreverent New York Post of the Sixties and Seventies. And what, pray tell, about the staff that Blackie Sherrod put together at the Fort Worth Press when Eisenhower was in the White House?
If those sections don’t get at least a tip of the hat, Mr. Armstrong has written in a vacuum. Worse yet, he has failed to provide some much needed perspective. The Globe was splendid, all right, but part of the reason it scaled the heights it did was because it was pushed by the competition, in Boston and nationally.
I loved the Globe that Mr. Armstrong extols at marathon length, and I’m an enthusiastic admirer of any number of its writers for both their intrepid reporting and dextrous prose. But I think it’s fair to say that none of them ever matched the Herald Trib’s Red Smith and Joe Palmer word for word. (If Woodward had succeeded in hiring John Lardner to write a column, too, it would have put this best-section-ever nonsense to rest for eternity.) The rest of the roster wasn’t bad, either: Jess Abramson on boxing and track and field and college football, and Tommy Holmes on baseball, and Al Laney writing features, and the boss, Stanley Woodward, kicking ass whenever he found time to write a column. Roger Kahn, Jerry Izenberg, Jack Mann and Pete Axthelm came along later, as if the Trib’s literary needed more gloss. Think they could play in the same league as the Globe? I do.
There must be a lot of old Philly guys who think they could have held their own in that fight, too. At the Bulletin 30 and 40 and — it doesn’t seem possible — 50 years ago, you had true giants like Sandy Grady and George Kiseda working wonders with the language and investing their stories with social consciousness. Every kid the Bulletin hired learned by their example, from Ray Didinger and Mark Heisler to Alan Richman, Jim Barniak and Joe McGinniss. They had to hustle, though, because Larry Merchant was sports editor at the Daily News and he was bent on giving the paper a reputation for more than stories about pretty girls cut in half on vacant lots. He brought Grady and Kiseda to Philly, saw them defect to the Bulletin and responded by hiring away Bill Conlin. He found Stan Hochman in San Bernadino. And he had a beautiful madman named Jack McKinney writing boxing. By the time Merchant decamped for New York in the mid-Sixites, he had established a tradition that would last for decades more. Think of this, if you will: When I worked at the Daily News, from 1984 to 1986, my fellow columnists were Hochman, Didinger and Mark Whicker — any one of us by himself would have been enough for most papers — and we had Conlin on baseball, Hoops Weiss on college basketball, Phil Jasner on the 76ers, Jay Greenburg on the Flyers and Paul Domowitch on the Eagles. When the subject of the Globe came up, we always said they had the best Sunday section going. But that was only because we didn’t publish on Sundays. The other six days of the week, we thought we were as good as anybody. Yes, even the Globe.
Forgive me for rattling on this way, but I want to make sure Mr. Armstrong realizes that history is littered with sports sections that could have given the Globe a run for its reputation. They didn’t always have a lot of money for travel, and they didn’t always have staffs that were two deep, but they were smart and inventive and indefatigable. They were also good. Think of how Jack Mann wove Newsday a world-class staff out of old-timers like Bob Waters, the boozy, eloquent boxing writer, and hot young kids like George Vecsey and Steve Jacobson. (Tony Kornheiser came later — and he was something special.) They were so good that Newsweek did a feature on them at a time when most managing editors were almost ashamed to admit their papers had sports sections. At the New York Post, meanwhile, Milton Gross — called “the Eleanor Roosevelt of the sports pages” by the Village Voice’s Joe Flaherty — was always catching a ride home with Floyd Patterson or Don Newcombe after they’d lost ingloriously. Leonard Shecter wrote a vinegary column, and when he moved in, Merchant took his place. Paul Zimmerman covered pro football and Vic Ziegel covered baseball and boxing and wrote slyly funny columns. Even Murray Kempton came down from Olympus to write a classic piece about Sal Maglie after he’d been done in by Don Larsen’s perfect game.
Meanwhile, out in the hinterlands, there were more sports sections catching fire. In Fort Worth, Blackie Sherrod found three kids — Dan Jenkins, Bud Shrake and Gary Cartwright — who were as irreverent as they were gifted and he turned them loose on the world. There was a fourth, Jerre Todd, who is said to have been every bit their equal, but he left the business to make a fortune in advertising. So it goes. But remember this: On a lot of days, the best writer in the joint was still Sherrod.
I can understand, however, why his Press gets forgotten. Hell, there was hardly anybody buying it when it was in business. Not so the L.A. Times, which had two eras in which it could hold its own against any sports section in the business. Indeed, it was the only one that had the space and manpower and budget to compete with the Globe. The Times’ first golden era was in the Seventies when Jim Murray was at the height of his powers as a columnist. But there was lots more to read after you finished his 900-word epistle, great long rambling stories by Jeff Prugh and Dwight Chapin and Ron Rapoport and solid beat reporting by Mal Florence and Ross Newhan and Ted Green. Hard as it is to believe, the Times was even better in its second dalliance with glory. Get a load of the talent they had in the Eighties: Rick Reilly, Richard Hoffer, Mike Littwin, Alan Greenburg, Randy Harvey, Mark Heisler, Scott Ostler, Bill Christine and . . . I know I’m forgetting somebody. Talk about an abundance of talent. When Reilly left for Sports Illustrated, the Times went out and hired Mike Downey, who was as good a columnist as there was. And the section never missed a beat.
You know what? I haven’t mentioned the Washington Post and the reign of George Solomon. I know George wouldn’t appreciate that. I was there in his early days as sports editor, when he was getting it past repeated ass-kickings by the Washington Daily News (Jack Mann again, and Andy Beyer) and the Washington Star (my old friend David Israel was its rowdy young columnist). George could wear you out with his boundless energy, but damn, did he have a great eye for talent. Not just prize imports like Kornheiser, Dave Kindred and Michael Wilbon, but discoveries like Tom Boswell and David Remnick and John Ed Bradley. And, really, how many other sports editors can say that the editor of the New Yorker once covered boxing for them?
Certainly nobody at the Boston Globe.
For another take on the history of sports writing, check out this piece, originally written for GQ, by Alan Richman.
Another old friend of Bronx Banter, poet, historian, and editor, Glenn Stout, has just started a blog. Glenn’s new book, Young Woman and the Sea: How Trudy Ederle Conquered the English Channel and Inspired the World, the story of the first woman to swim the English Channel, is due out this summer. I’m in the middle of reading it. Did you know that women were not allowed to swim during the Victorian Age? Thinking about it now, it makes sense, but man, I never knew that. Terrific book, by the way, and not just for young women. I’ll get together with Glenn to talk about it as the release date approaches.
September 24, 1992. A Thursday night. The Yankees in fourth place and the Tigers in sixth, neither of them close to the Blue Jays, or, apparently, with any chance of ever getting close to the Blue Jays or anyone else atop the division for at least a few more years. A young Scott Kamienicki vs. an aging Frank Tanana, one-time hard thrower whose fastball had come and gone and left behind a pile of guts and guile.
We were down from Boston, my girlfriend and I. She’d recently moved back in with me after getting a grad degree from Columbia and living and working in Mount Vernon for a few years, and we had some business to take care of in the city.
It had already been a funny day. Taking a bus somewhere downtown I’d seen Liza Minelli poking around outside some antique bathroom fixture store. Down by City Hall I’d used of one of those high tech public bathrooms that had cost 50 cents and gave itself a shower afterwards, like something from the Jetsons. Then I saw Rudy Giuliani walking down the street.
We went to the game – a nice early fall night. Only about 12,000 people were in the Stadium, so we had pretty good seats, probably the best seats I’d ever had for a major league game anywhere at that point – the main boxes, not too high up, almost dead on a line with the left field foul line. We might have paid twelve dollars a ticket, which also would have been the most I’d ever spent on a baseball ticket at the time.
I saw Nicolas Cage. He had better seats, right behind the plate, but still 20 or 30 rows up.
There wasn’t a whole lot of care on display on the field that night. Mattingly played hard, as always, and cracked a couple of doubles, and this new kid in center field, Bernie Williams, had a good night. But almost everyone else one either team – Charlie Hayes, Rob Deer, Tartabull – was packing it in; you could tell.
Seventh inning. Yankees ahead 4-0. Tanana throwing changeups off changeups and the occasional big sloppy curve – nothing much over eighty miles an hour. The crowd was already starting to file out.
Leading off, Gerald Williams. Rookie. I remember liking Gerald more than Bernie at first. He moved like a ballplayer, while Bernie moved like an antelope still wet from birth.
Gerald Williams hadn’t done much so far – a fly out, a strikeout. But now Tanana, thirty-nine years old and in his nineteenth year of major league baseball, gave him a pitch.
Williams didn’t miss it. I’ll never forget the trajectory – almost straight down the line, a little hook to it like a golf shot, that one bright spot against the black going smaller…
And Gerald Williams watching it, and walking, slow toward first before, barely, breaking into a trot. His first major league home run.
I was watching him saunter toward first when I heard someone yelling, not just to get someone’s attention, but REALLY yelling, I mean angry “I’m gonna ruin your face” kind of mad.
It was Frank Tanana. Pissed. Chewing Williams’ ass out every step he took all around the bases for standing there and showing him up. And Williams did speed up – not much – just enough to let Tanana know he heard but at the same time not so much to let him think he had been intimidated. And Tanana kept yelling.
Baseball-Reference tells me that Pat Kelly followed with a walk and Bernie Williams, this time running like an adult antelope, tripled, knocking out Tanana, and the Yankees went on to win 10-1, but to be honest, I don’t really remember much else about the game.
But I’ve got a great excuse. You see, when I was down by City Hall earlier that day, my girlfriend and I had applied for a wedding license. We went back the next day and got married in a ceremony that took precisely 27 seconds.
Or about as long as it took Gerald Williams to run around the bases.
by Cliff Corcoran |
September 19, 2008 12:46 pm |
The just-completed series against the White Sox had some interest beyond the impending closing of Yankee Stadium thanks to Chicago’s fight for the AL Central, Mike Mussina’s still-active quest for 20 wins, the return of Phil Hughes to the Yankee rotation, and the major league debuts of three Yankee prospects last night. This weekend’s series against the Orioles has none of that. These last three games will be about Yankee Stadium and nothing else. With that in mind, here are the three other opening and closing dates in the Stadium’s 86-year history:
April 18, 1923 – the first game at Yankee Stadium, Yankees beat the Red Sox 4-1 behind Bob Shawkey, who scored the first run at the new park on a single by third baseman Joe Dugan in the fourth inning. Ruth followed Dugan with a three-run homer, the Stadium’s first. Second baseman Aaron Ward had picked up the park’s first hit in the previous inning.
Sept. 30, 1973 – the final game at the original Stadium, Yankees lost to the Tigers 8-5 as Fritz Peterson and Lindy McDaniel combined to allow six runs in the eighth inning. Backup catcher Duke Sims, in his only start of the year, hits the last home run at the old park in the seventh. Winning pitcher John Hiller gets first baseman Mike Hegan to fly out to center fielder Mickey Stanley to end the game.
April 15, 1976 – the first game at the renovated Stadium, Yankees beat the Twins 11-4 with Dick Tidrow picking up the win with five shoutout innings in relief of Rudy May and Sparky Lyle getting the save. May gave up the first hit and home run in the remodeled Stadium to Disco Dan Ford in the top of the first. Twins second baseman Jerry Terrell, who led of the game with a walk, scored the first run ahead of Ford. The first Yankee hit was delivered by Mickey Rivers in the bottom of the first. The first Yankee home run at the redone park would come off the bat of Thurman Munson two days later.
The relocated St. Louis Browns first played at the Stadium as the Baltimore Orioles on May 5 and 6 of 1954, losing to Eddie Lopat and Allie Reynolds by scores of 4-2 and 9-0. The O’s first visit to the renovated stadium came in a three-game weekend series starting on May 14, 1976. The O’s took two of three in that series, beating Catfish Hunter in the opener. The first batter in that game was Ken Singleton, who struck out looking, but the next six Orioles delivered hits off Hunter, among them a two-run homer by O’s center fielder Reggie Jackson (!) as the O’s cruised to a 6-2 win behind Ross Grimsley.
For the curious, the action depicted in the Merv Rettenmund card pictured here occurred on August 9, 1970 in the seventh inning of the first game of a Sunday doubleheader. With the O’s leading 1-0 behind Jim Palmer, Rettenmund led off the seventh with a double off Fritz Peterson. Andy Etchebarren then hit a hot shot to third base that Jerry Kenney either booted or bobbled, allowing Etchebarren to reach and Rettenmund to advance. The photo on the card freezes the action as Kenney, ball in hand, checks Rettenmund at third base. The O’s would go on to score three unearned runs in that inning, but the Yanks got two in the eighth and two in the ninth to tie it, the latter two on a single by Roy White after Earl Weaver had replaced Palmer with Pete Richert. White would later end the game in the 11th with one out and Horace Clarke on first base by homering off Dick Hall to give the Yankees a 6-4 win.
Finally, here’s an account of the last game at the original Stadium from Glenn Stout’s outstanding Yankees Century:
The Yankees ended the season on September 30, closing down old Yankee Stadium to accommodate the scheduled renovation. In the final week of the season, the Hall of Fame hauled away a ticket booth, a turnstile, and other memorabilia. Anticipating souvenir takers, the club had already removed the center-field monuments and a hoard of equipment scheduled to follow the Yankees to Queens.
The club hired extra security to head off bad behavior, but the crowd of 32,328 arrived at the Stadium in an ugly mood and packing wrecking tools. Disappointed at the late season collapse, banners urging the Yankees to fire [manager Ralph] Houk ringed the park.
The game was only a few innings old when it became clear that souvenir hunters weren’t going to wait. In the outfield and the bleachers fans turned their backs on the game and started demolishing the park. The Yankees took the lead over Detroit but lost it in the fifth [sic]. When Houk came to the mound to change pitchers, exuberant fans waived parts of seats over their heads like the angry they had become.
As soon as Mike Hegan flied out to end the 8-5 loss, 20,000 fans swamped security forces and stormed the field. The Yanks had plans for objects like the bases, but the mob had other ideas. First-base coach Elston Howard scooped up the bag for a scheduled presentation to Mrs. Lou Gehrig, but he had to fight his way off the field, clutching the base like a fullback plowing through the line. Cops stood guard at home plate to make sure it went to Claire Ruth, but a fan stole second base, and third was nabbed by Detroit third baseman Ike Brown. Some 10,000 seats ended up being pulled loose.
Bob Klapisch has covered baseball in New York since the heyday of the Mets in the 1980s. He is a columnist for The Bergan Record and a contributor to ESPN. Now in his forties, he continues to play semi-pro baseball. Yesterday, he contributed a terrific post about playing ball to The Baseball Analysts. Klapisch’s article has some keen insights into the pysche of ballplayers, and it is nice to see him write something longer, and more personal. But Klap isn’t just a guy who loves to play the game, at heart he’s a pitcher, and they are a breed apart:
From Little League all the way to Cooperstown, there’s a fraternity convened by the adrenaline rush of throwing a baseball. Bret Saberhagen once told me, “Nothing matches making a hitter swing and miss. It’s the greatest feeling in the world. Guys who retire, they spend the rest of their lives looking for it, but once you stop pitching you never get it back.”
…So why do I keep pitching? Probably for the purest reason of all – it’s what I do, at least when I’m not writing or helping feed the kids. To stop now would mean tearing away layers of psychological flesh. I guess I’m afraid of what’s underneath. Middle age, maybe.
I sent the article to Pat Jordan, the veteran journalist and former pitching prospect for the Braves. He replied:
The allure of pitching is about being in control and playing God. Nothing happens without you. You control the game, good or bad. also the feeling of ball off fingertips and your ability to make it spin and do things is exhilarating. I love to throw a baseball. The feeling of artistry and power in making a ball approach the plate with the speed or curve that I dictate is unrivaled in anything else I’ve ever done, including writing. I was born to be a pitcher, but taught myself to be a writer. I was an artist on the mound, but, alas, am merely a craftsman, like a brick layer, in front of a typewriter.
Which brings me to another thought. Why do the best jock-turned-writers all seem to be pitchers? Jordan, Jim Brosnan, Jim Bouton. Glenn Stout pitched in an over-30 league for years. What gives? Michael Lewis was a pitcher when he was in high school, Rich Lederer was a pitcher back in his playing days, and Will Carroll was too. Bouton thinks that it “may be that pitchers spend a lot of time sitting around.” What do you think?