Tagged: Baseball as Narrative

Baseball In Our Nation’s Capital! A Fitting Tribute!

Loyal Readers and Brewers Fans!

Welcome Back to Your Favorite Brewers Blog!


Last night in our nation’s capital the Washington Senators played against the St. Louis Cardinals.

What made the game so remarkable was it being played as a tribute to the Negro Leagues.

The Nats wore the uniform of the Homestead Grays.

Grays

And the Cardinals wore the uniform of the St. Louis Stars.

Stars

When asked about playing in the Negro League Uniforms, manager Tony LaRussa had this to say,

"I think it’s very appropriate, that kind of tribute to that era of baseball," La Russa said. "I think we always enjoy it."

I think that’s right.

The history of baseball is entwined with the history of America.

And the history of baseball cannot be made complete without an understanding of the Negro Leagues.

Having said that, there must be more than mere tokenistic tributes or self-congratulatory shows of concern on the part of MLB and its fans when it comes to understanding and appreciating the Negro Leagues.

But like many things these days, to do so is much more difficult than it seems (or should be.)

The landscape of understanding is a minefield of competing interests and ideologues replete with confusing and unproductive claims on the history of race, class, and identity.

So be it.

Under the circumstances then, I for one am glad that something is being done to commemorate and honor the Negro Leagues.

And besides, I love the uniforms.

Really.

Just sayin’.

 

Yogi’s Book Corner! Just In Time For Summer Reading!

Loyal Readers and Brewers Fans!

Something New here at Yogi Brewer!

The Book Corner!

Bookcorner

Summer is just around the corner and it’s time to pick up some good books for those lazy days at the lake, hanging out on the porch or deck, heck even on rainy days, you might want to pick up a good book.

And as always, your Pal Yogi is here to help.

Before you read any of the books from the list below, you might want to check this out:

Extra Innings-Writing on Baseball by Richard Peterson.

Extrainnings

This is a terrific book in its own right and it’s also a great source of reference for books on baseball. The list below and my paraphrased descriptions were taken from Peterson’s Extra Innings.

My goal is to read each of the Featured Books over the next few months (and certainly before the 2008 Fantasy Camp) and share with you my thoughts and comments.

Sounds good!

Here goes:

The Natural  by Bernard Malamud

Natural

The most studied and historically most important baseball book ever written.

You Know Me Al by Ring Lardner
One of the many great Jack Keefe stories written by one of baseball’s and America’s greatest story tellers.

The Glory of Their Times  by Lawrence S. Ritter
This book set the standard for oral histories and brings alive a nearly-lost era of baseball.

The Boys of Summer  by Roger Kahn

Brooklyn

Perhaps one of the best written American narratives of the 20th Century and may be the finest written book about baseball detailing Kahn’s live and love of the Brooklyn Dodgers as fan and writer as well as the players that he covered.

A False Spring by Pat Jordan
A player’s compelling autobiography and also one of baseball’s greatest books.

Babe: The Legend Comes to Life by Robert W. Creamer
This book gets at the truth of baseball’s greatest legend.

Eight Men Out  by Eliot Asinof
History, written as a novel, and the seminal account of the Black Sox scandal.

The Pitch That Killed by Mike Sowell
The incredible story about baseball’s worst tragedy.

Willie’s Time by Charles Einstein
Both baseball biography of Willie Mays as well as memoir of the writer Charles Einstein, placing both their lives in the context of several decades of American history.

Here are some additional books to consider, some I have already read and others are also taken from Peterson’s recommendations:

Sandy Koufax-A Lefty’s Legacy by Jane Leavy

Sandy

Bang the Drum Slowly  by Mark Harris

The Great American Novel  by Philip Roth

Shoeless Joe   by W.P. Kinsella

Shoeless_joe_28book_cover29

The Celebrant  by Eric Greenberg

Ball Four! by Jim Bouton

And last but not least, and perhaps first of many, let me recommend, no urge you to read these two books by the late, great, and much missed A. Bartlett Giamatti.
Giamatti

Giamatti was an intellectual Giant amongst men. His premature death is made all the more tragic by how deeply he loved baseball and life.

The world today badly needs more people like Giamatti, those in possession of great intellect, profound courage, as well as tremendous ethical and moral clarity.

Really.

Here:

Take Time For Paradise

A Great and Glorious Game.

That oughta’ do you for now.

Get out there and start reading!

If you have read any of these or other baseball books and would like to share you thoughts with all of us here please feel free to email me with your comments and I will happily post them!

Enjoy!

Why Baseball: Part I

Why baseball?

Why do we watch it?

Why do we play it?

Why does it matter?

My story begins Here:

Like most men my age, or older, it was my father who introduced me to baseball. I remember driving with him some summer day, it may have been a weekday, or it could have been the weekend, I’m not sure, and he’s not here to tell me. The year was 1968. I was four years old.

It was just the two of us which itself was a treat, my mother and three older sisters were at home. As far back as I remember my father always worked more than one job, almost always on the weekends and some nights to make extra money. My mother made certain to alert us to when my father would be home. I remember waiting for him with great excitement at the expectation of his coming through the front door.

So this day, this particular car ride alone with him was already special, it was time with my father during the day.

My father was born into poverty in 1924, the youngest of five children. Both his parents came from Vilnus, Lithuania. His father, my grandfather, worked in a sweatshop sewing pockets onto coats in Coal City, Illinois. My grandfather was born with the surname Zeigel. The name Riskin was given to my grandfather at Ellis Island.

In the throes of the Depression, at age eight years old, my father played his first game of baseball. He never had a glove of his own and was unfamiliar how to use the one lent to him. He was put in to play shortstop. The first ball hit to him took a bad hop and bounced up at him and hit him in the face. He never played “league ball” again, instead he grew up playing 16-inch softball.

This was one of the seemingly immeasurable number of stories my father told me. He was a writer, dreamer, and a great storyteller. Those who knew him loved him. I never knew my father to have told a lie, cheat at anything, or knew of any instance where someone said an unkind word about him.

To this day I can still recall seeing the buildings on Addison Avenue go by the car’s window when all of a sudden seeing a strange, large, and fantastic building with a big, red sign (that I couldn’t read) go by.

Wrigleyfield

I don’t know why, but my father turned to me and said, “That’s Wrigley Field. That’s where the Cubs play baseball. Do you want to go see a game?”

Never before (and I don’t think ever again) had my father done something so spontaneous, as wild, or exotic as going to see a baseball game, in the middle of a day, for no reason whatsoever.

In disbelief and in a state of total excitement I answered, “Yes!”

We parked, walked to the ticket window, bought two tickets and walked together to the gate.

My father handed me my ticket, “It’s better to hold your own ticket.”

Truer words were never spoken.

The entrance gate and ramps were dark, cool, and smelled badly. The game had already begun and I could hear the roars of the crowd.

We walked hand-in-hand through the dark corridors of the stadium beneath the grandstands. As we came to the entrance to our seating section, my eyes began to strain, as they had not yet adjusted to the bright sunlight and then it happened, all at once:

The field!

The greenest grass in the whole world!

Was there ever such a color green?

The infield dirt!

Red dirt!

The players!

Real, live baseball players! There they were, with their white uniforms and blue caps, playing baseball!

The biggest scoreboard I had ever seen with flags blowing on top of it!

Wrigley__scoreboard640t_1

Vines in the outfield!

There were thousands of people, screaming, eating, drinking, all watching baseball!

Wrigleyboard_8_27_05

I was at a baseball game with my father!

 

It was the greatest thing I had ever seen.

It was the greatest thing that ever happened to me.

And my father was the greatest man in the whole world for driving alone with me that day and taking me to a baseball game.

And no, I don’t remember who won, or much, if any of the game.

But the sight of the green grass is as clear to me now as if it happened yesterday, that and the feeling remains that my father was the greatest person in the whole world.

And so it goes.

More later.

Until then…

Enjoy!