Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Greatest Day In Baseball

As everyone here is no doubt aware of (or scared of), I sometimes have a tendency to experiment on this blog with different and unique (at least for me) topics to bloviate about. Today's post will fall under that particular topic of "different and unique".

From time to time on the various writer's blogs that I subscribe to and read, they will have a post that falls under the header Forgotten Books, which to my basic level of understanding, is (usually) about a long out of print book that they either enjoyed reading when they were young or rediscovered while browsing the thrift store/used book store/tag sales, etc etc etc. I always thought that those posts were interesting and informative, and for the longest time I wanted to throw my two cents in, but never found a book that I could do it with.

Until now.

Back when I was but a lad of my daughter's age (10), I discovered this nifty little book in my dad's book collection. Being both a serious reader at that tender young age and serious nut of old-time baseball, I instantly devoured the book. At that age, while I did enjoy the stories (did I mention that I was a newspaper nut as well?), I really had no serious appreciation for the historical value of the stories. But as an adult, I got a tremendous appreciation of the contents of the book.

First off, the book is a collection of interviews performed by the various sportswriters of the Chicago Daily News, which was edited by John P. Carmichael and published back in 1945. It featured stars that for the most part are in the Hall of Fame and if you're a serious aficionado of the history of baseball, you'd recognize that these players were kings of the Dead Ball Era and the early Home Run Era.

Stars like Ty Cobb, Carl Hubbell, Buck Weaver, Cy Young, Ed Walsh, and even Babe Ruth, regaled these sportswriters with stories about what they considered to be their greatest day in baseball.

For example:

Ty Cobb talks about the 1907 pennant race that boiled down to a three game series between the Tigers and the Philadelphia Athletics. Specifically, he talks about the second game, in which the game ended in a tie at 9 to 9 after seventeen innings.

Carl Hubbell talks about his participation in the 1934 All Star game that was won by the American League.

Buck Weaver talks about his participation in the 1917 World Series with the Giants and the background leading up to it.

Cy Young talks about throwing the first perfect game in American League history (1904) and briefly mentions that in his last big league game, he lost 1-0 to a young kid called Grover Cleveland Alexander.

Ed Walsh talks about his greatest game, which was striking out Larry Lajoie with the bases loaded during a late October game with the 1908 pennant hanging on the line.

Babe Ruth talks about his called shot against the Chicago Cubs.

The book also features some great photos of those Dead Ball Era/Early Home Run Era stars as well. Overall, the book was an enjoyable read then, and an interesting piece of history for research purposes now. I like to think that the stars that were telling their stories were being honest with the writers who were interviewing them, because these stories seem so outrageous that they do make the reader question their sanity.

Then again, if you can ever lay your hands on a copy of "Field Of Screams" by Richard Scheinin, you might get a better understanding on how baseball was back then.


  1. I've never heard of that book, but it sounds like a great baseball-fan book! I actually just searched on the Barnes and Noble website, and there's also a newer version that covers 1946 through 1997.

    And this is great timing for a baseball post, what with Derek Jeter about to reach 3000 hits... :)

  2. Books like that are a gem because when those icons are gone, their stories are gone. It's nice to have a record of their tales, in their own voices ... something you really can't get back again.

  3. wow, talk about some history there. Even though I'm not a big baseball fan, I bet this one would be fun.

  4. That sounds like a neat book. My dad got to meet Ty Cobb and it is a great story. Sometime in the 1930s, my dad was playing a sandlot baseball game with some other boys in Royston, Georgia (where Cobb was from) - a car pulled up and watched for a while, the door opened and out stepped Ty Cobb. He gave them lots of pointers - particularly my dad, who was playing right field, like Cobb did. I guess he was back for a visit. But it gave these boys the thrill of a lifetime.

  5. Lisa: It really was a fan oriented type of book. Baseball truly was America's game back then, and a lot of the players were still alive when the book came out I believe.

    Timing is everything as they say. :D

    Joanne: I never really appreciated that sobering fact until I was well into my 30's. It was pretty neat having a first person account to some of the more well known stories that were written in the various baseball books of the past four decades or so.

    Charles: This book was a cool readi the first time around (like I said, I was really into old-time baseball when I was young) and it was really a joy to read it again while I was writing this post.

    There is some fantastic history in that book, both from a baseball perspective and a America/World perspective that just can't be beat.

    Lynn: Say what you will about Ty Cobb as a person, but as a ball player he was second to none.

    That is such a cool story and I bet your dad cherished that encounter until the very end.

  6. That is so cool! I love finding old treasures like that. Mr. RK's mom found "Lessons in Writing" for me at a garage sale from like 1917 or something.

  7. R: I've found some strange things and books over the years, but this book was a very pleasant discovery.

    1917? I'm almost afraid to guess what the content is.

  8. That's a great idea for a blog post. Books from our childhood are an easy part of us to encapsulate into a blog post. If I can think of a special book from my childhood I might just steal this idea.

  9. Gumby: Be my guest. I've borrowered at least a dozen ideas that people have used in their own blog posts and put a nifty twist on them.

    There is a whole series of "Forgotten" posts using music and movies that are out there as well.


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