"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Tag: long gone

Long Gone

Check out this tender story by David Davis over at SB Nation Lonform: “‘She is Gone’: The Search for the Gibson Home Run and for the Answers to a Family Tragedy”:

Some 25 years later, the Dodgers have yet to win another World Series. Heck, they’ve yet to return to the World Series.

On this day, as the afternoon sun bakes the dugout, I ask Gibson if he thinks about the home run when he returns to Dodger Stadium. He nods and peers down the right-field foul line. “I walk in here and always look up at where I hit the ball,” he said. “I kind of named it myself: seat 88 for 1988.”

Gibson has probably talked about this moment a thousand times, maybe more, but he seems in no hurry. “It’s very vivid to this day,” he continued. “I was in the locker room listening to Vin [Scully] on the TV saying, ‘Kirk Gibson will not be hitting tonight,’ and I just said, ‘My ass.’ I really had no business going up there to the plate. But, you know, it’s what I live for. I felt like my teammates wanted me to do it.”

I’ve arranged to interview Gibson because I’m trying to figure out what happened to the home run ball after it disappeared into the scrum in right field. Gibson himself never saw the ball again, and no fan came forward that evening, or the next day, claiming to have recovered it.

It is gone, permanently.

But this quest, I’m beginning to realize, is also personal. I had tickets to the very section where Gibson deposited his homer, but I didn’t attend the game. I can recall exactly where I was when he hit it out — which might explain why, 25 years later, I am trying to locate a ball that will never be found.

[Featured Image: Kate Joyce]

Drop a Gem on ‘em

Check out this lovely tribute to the late Paul Hemphill by Richard Hyatt:

I ended up at the Atlanta Constitution writing sports. A colleague told me about a former pitcher for the town baseball team in LaGrange. He had made Ripley’s Believe Or Not by pitching both games of a doubleheader — tossing a no-hitter in one game and a one-hitter in the other.

By the time I visited him in the old mill village in LaGrange, Scoopie Chappell’s baseball exploits were relegated to aging scrapbooks and stories he told at the beer joint down the hill. I wrote a feature story about him for the Sunday Journal-Constitution.

The article got me a phone call from Paul Hemphill. He wanted Scoopie’s phone number and directions to his house. Hemphill was researching a book about minor league baseball and he figured Scoopie was someone he wanted to visit.

The non-fiction book never materialized but Long Gone did. To me it is the quintessential baseball novel and equally good as an HBO film. It came out in 1987 and you’ll find Bull Durham — as good as it is — is a ripoff of Hemphill’s book.

Scoopie morphed into Stud Cantrell, played on the screen by CSI’s William Petersen. The character of Stud is as good as you’ll find in any work of fiction. In the movie, there’s even a speaking role for Teller — the small mute half of Penn & Teller.

If you haven’t read the book, do. If you haven’t seen the movie, find it.

Amen. William Petersen’s Stud Cantrell is closer to Paul Newman in “Slap Shot” than it is to Costner in “Bull Durham.” The ending of the movie is corny but the rest of it sings. And Hemphill’s novel is a beaut.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver