Results tagged ‘ New York Times ’

New books on the Library shelves

By Freddy Berowski

Known as the “Master of Alternate History,” New York Times best selling author Harry Turtledove has delighted fans for decades with his fantastic “what if?” tales.

Stories such as “World War” and “Colonization,” a series of books which follow the invasion of Earth by a Race of alien lizards during World War II and the hundred years that follow (with quite a few baseball references too, including a couple of lizard middle infielders and Mickey Mantle playing in the Major Leagues against the Yankees for the Kansas City Blues) and “The House that George Built,” a novella about Babe Ruth and baseball, if the Babe never made it. 

Recently, the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library has added to its permanent collection the manuscripts for two of Harry Turtledove’s alternate history works, the aforementioned “The House that George Built” and “The Stars and Rockets.” 

The Hall of Fame Library contains more than three million documents on baseball, including a file for every player who has appeared in a major league game and thousands of books on the National Pastime.

“The House that George Built” follows an alternate timeline where the Federal League never established a presence in Baltimore in 1914, thus Orioles owner Jack Dunn never felt the need to sell Babe Ruth’s contract.  In this reality, Ruth’s role in the game’s history was flipped with that of 1920s Pacific Coast League superstar Buzz Arlett, who became the game’s “Babe Ruth” with the Babe only getting Buzz’s cup of coffee. 

“The Stars and Rockets” is a fantastical tale that connects the Roswell incident of 1947 with Joe Bauman’s 72 home run season for the Class-C Roswell Rockets in 1954, and some fans that are out of this world. 

Harry Turtledove grew up on the West Coast and began his love affair with our National Pastime when his father began taking him to Pacific Coast League games of the Hollywood Stars and Los Angeles Angels. His Major League allegiance was to the Yankees originally, but that changed when the Angels became an MLB franchise.

“I was a Yankee fan before the majors came to L.A.; I’ve pretty much but not entirely got over that, but still generally root for the AL over the NL. The AL Angels, I like.  Dunno why, but I do.  When they finally won the Series in 2002 . . . It’s very strange getting something in your 50s that you’ve wanted since you were eleven.”

In his critically acclaimed World War/Colonization series which began in the 1990s, among those characters featured were several members of the Decatur Commodores, a Three-I league minor league baseball team in 1942. Although he didn’t know it at the time, one of those ballplayers, Sam Yeager, would become the central character in all eight books.

“I thought it would be interesting” Turtledove said. “I didn’t know what all would happen to Sam when I started writing about him – I tend to work by the seat of my pants. And it gave me an excuse to research Minor League Baseball and actually do something with what I found out, so that was cool, too. Back in the day, of course, a lot more guys made careers of the minor leagues than happens now, but there are still a few.”

Although he has no current plans for a full length alternate history baseball novel, Mr. Turtledove says “I’ll go for it in a heartbeat” if he develops “any ideas along those lines that I think people would buy.” 

When he first got out of college, before finding his true calling, he tried to get a job in baseball with the Dodgers and Angels. Turtledove described the type of work he was searching for as “Something – anything – involving PR and stats, which were the kind of things a guy who wrote halfway decently and was a stat geek could do.  I struck out twice, but at least I struck out swinging.” 

Who knows, maybe in some other reality Harry Turtledove did get a job in baseball.

Freddy Berowski is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Glanville’s journey

By Samantha Carr

Growing up playing Strat-O-Matic, waffle ball and stick ball, Doug Glanville learned to love the game of baseball from his brother.

“I give a lot of credit to my brother for teaching me the game and developing a passion for the game that I still have today,” said Glanville.

With his slight frame and athletic build, fans could easily believe that this was the same player who stole 168 bases during his nine-year major league career. Glanville will show off that speed when he takes the field along with six Hall of Famers and 20 other former major leaguers for the Hall of Fame Classic on Sunday.

But on Friday, fans got to listen to Glanville share stories from his life and career that are written in his book, The Game from Where I Stand: A Ballplayer’s Inside View during an Authors’ Series event at the Hall of Fame.

Glanville, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with an engineering degree which he finished up after being drafted his junior year of college, currently writes a column for the New York Times called “Heading Home,” works for ESPN and is on the Executive Board of Athletes Against Drugs. He played for the Cubs, Phillies and Rangers from 1996-2004.

“Heading Home” was really a human column that gained a lot of positive feedback and sparked the book deal. The book focuses on real elements like Glanville playing through his father’s illness and the transition that ballplayers make when they finish their career and go back to the real world.

“That transition is the moment you realize the game is no longer an option, or you choose to make a change form what everyone around you knows you for,” said Glanville. “I like to say it is when chasing the dream becomes running from the nightmare. And for ballplayers retirement happens at like 34 or 35, so they have to mature a lot faster in a kid’s game.”

Glanville has successfully made that transition. He will be chasing around his 3-year-old at home when he hears from friends that are still in the game.

“My challenges are a little different from Jimmy Rollins – who is trying to hit a slider,” he said.

Now, Glanville wants to see the human element come back to baseball. And on Father’s Day, he will entertain the crowd with his skills for families to enjoy.

“My goal is to share my human experience. So inspire people by being human,” he said. “That is the best thing about this game, you don’t have to be a superhero to play it – it can give everyone possibility.”

Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

The oldest major leaguer

Berowski_90.jpgBy Freddy Berowski

Art Mahan was born 13 months before Babe Ruth made his big league debut.

By the time Mahan died – on Tuesday at the age of 97 – Mahan had lived to see baseball evolve from a simple game to a national treasure.

Mahan, who played in 146 games for the Phillies in his only big league season in 1940, was the fourth-oldest living major leaguer at the time of his death. Ranking first on that chart is Tony Malinosky, who played 35 games for Brooklyn in 1937 and today stands at 101 years and 63 days old.

But Malinosky has a ways to go before he can lay claim to being the oldest major leaguer ever. 

12-09-10-Berowski_Hilltop.jpgThe Sept. 7, 1911 New York Times said of Chet “Red” Hoff’s major league debut against the Washington Senators: “Pitcher Hoff was in the game long enough to have his picture taken.”

This contemporary account is contrary to most published reports nearly 90 years later, largely based on the tales told by Hoff himself. But after a lifetime – the longest lifetime of any former big league player – Chet Hoff earned the right to tell a few stories.  

Chester Cornelius Hoff was born May 8, 1891 in Ossining, N.Y., and lived 107 years, 4 months and 9 days, making him the longest living major leaguer. He pitched in five games his rookie season, going straight from the sandlots of Ossining to the top of the hill in New York City, playing for the Highlanders who would become the Yankees in 1913. He even met up with Ty Cobb that season, but not in his major league debut. 

In the years shortly before his death, Hoff recalled his debut, getting the call from his manager Hal Chase in the ninth inning of a blow-out game, and striking out Cobb on three straight pitches. Hoff claimed he didn’t know who he had faced until the next day when he read the newspaper and was stunned when he read a headline “Hoff Strikes out Ty Cobb.”

12-09-10-Berowski_Cobb.jpgHoff’s actual debut came on Sept. 6, throwing a scoreless frame in a 6-2 loss against the Washington Senators. Hoff got his action against the Tigers 12 days later. The Sept. 19, 1911 New York Times stated, “Hoff pitched the last four innings and did good work.”

In his four innings of one-run ball, Hoff faced Ty Cobb and according to the Times, “fooled Ty with a roundhouse curve, which crossed the center of the plate for the third strike”. It was a rare two-strikeout day for the legendary Cobb, who also fanned in his first at bat of the day against Yankee ace Russ Ford.

Hoff pitched in 12 games for the Highlanders and Yankees over the course of three seasons and compiled an 0-2 record, with a 3.89 ERA. Hoff pitched one season for the St. Louis Browns, 1915, and went 2-2 with a 1.24 ERA. He retired from professional baseball in 1918, but his love for the game never diminished. 

He returned home to Ossining, where he went to work as a paper cutter for Rand-McNally, continued to play semi-pro ball on weekends and continued to follow the Yankees. Chet Hoff’s story made national news when he turned 100 and appeared on The Today Show in 1993. He followed up that appearance with some appearances for his old ballclub, including an appearance alongside Gene Michael and Willie Randolph at a ceremony dedicating a plaque on the site of Hilltop Park, the Yankees original home, where Hoff made his major league debut. 

Hoff passed away on Sept. 17, 1998.

Freddy Berowski is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Breaking barriers

Francis_90.jpgBy Bill Francis

Claire Smith is accustomed to working outside the status quo, so being the first female keynote speaker in the 22 years of the annual Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture is par for the course.

Held at the different venues at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the three-day event kicked off Wednesday afternoon with Smith’s keynote, titled “Race and Gender: Perspectives from the Press Box.” Smith is not only a female in a male- dominated field, but she’s also African-American.

06-02-10-Francis_Smith.jpgCurrently a news editor at ESPN who covered baseball for 27 years at the Hartford Courant, the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer, Smith offered a unique perspective on the trails and tribulations she had to endure as a woman and a minority in her chosen field.

Honored for her writing numerous times over the years, Smith, a longstanding member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, admits that “being a woman and being African-American in the field of baseball writing remain somewhat unique and far too unusual in this day and age.”

Smith talked about being drawn to the field because of her mother’s love of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, who faced hardships as he crossed the big league color line in 1947.

“I knew of his story from the moment I could walk and talk, I think, because my mother, more so than my father, was a Jackie Robinson fan,” Smith said. “America was always represented as what is possible. She passed that on to me.

“I wanted to know as much as I could about sports. The older I got the more I wanted to know. I was able to dovetail this interest that never made me want to think about anything other than baseball.”

Smith would late joke about another Hall of Famer: “As Yogi Berra would say, Jackie (Robinson) -  thanks for making this necessary.”

Encouraged by her mother’s love of Jackie Robinson (her father was a Willie Mays fan), Smith has always bled Dodger blue. So it should come as no surprise when visiting the Hall of Fame Plaque Gallery prior to her speech she made sure to check out the bronze likenesses of Robinson and Sandy Koufax.

Moving on to gender, Smith said that’s always been the more intriguing and difficult aspect of her life in baseball.

“It’s safe to say by the time I started covering baseball it wasn’t politically correct to show any kind of prejudice in terms of race in major league clubhouses,’ Smith said. “Not so much to show prejudice against women. It happened early, it happened often.”

Often the only women in a baseball clubhouse, Smith called it “tough, it really was tough.”

“I don’t believe there is a female writer of my generation who didn’t have a tale to tell that wouldn’t bring another female writer to tears because it was a very vulnerable place to be,” Smith added. “And often your male peers were so busy doing their job that they couldn’t interrupt their jobs and come to your aid.”

Smith then recalled her defining moment, her “tipping point,” came in the 1984 National League Championship Series between the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres when she was physically removed by players from the Padres clubhouse after Game One. While the situation was eventually resolved, thanks to Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, it left scars for a number of years.

But despite the hardships Smith suffered due only to the profession she chose, she told those in attendance to encourage their students, daughters, nieces and granddaughters to pursue sports writing as a career. Not only are there numerous opportunities with the Internet, but also it can be a very rewarding.

Bill Francis is a library associate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Rookies of the Year

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder
 
Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice are rookies all over again.

7-25-09-Muder_HendersonRice.jpgHenderson and Rice, members of the Class of 2009 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, met the media on Saturday afternoon for the last time before Sunday’s Induction Ceremony in Cooperstown. Neither seemed nervous about their induction speeches, and both have enjoyed every minute of their time in the limelight.

Even — it seems — when their soon-to-be fellow Hall of Famers are reminding them of their non-veteran status in Cooperstown.

“They told us we were going to have to sing Sunday night at dinner,” Henderson said. “I can’t sing. Are you singing, Jim?”

Rice, accustomed to vocal exhibitions in his announcing job with NESN, wanted no part of a sing-along.

“We’re not doing that,” said Rice while exchanging a solidarity handshake with his fellow Class of 2009 electee. “If that’s the tradition, then we’re starting a new one.”

However, the returning Hall of Famers — including Bob Feller, who has been an enshrined Hall of Famer for more than half of his 90 years — can be very persuasive.

“The big thing everyone told us about Sunday is not to go long,” Rice said of his Hall of Fame speech. “I think we’ll both be keeping it short.”

7-25-09-Muder_Gordon.jpgHowever, everyone wanted to hear what Rice and Henderson had to say on Saturday — as national media ranging from the New York Times to ESPN came to Cooperstown. Sunday’s 1:30 p.m. Induction Ceremony — carried live by MLB Network, simulcast at www.baseballhall.org and open to the public for free at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown — also promises to be a must-see.

“Being in front of all those Hall of Famers on that stage — with your family and friends in the audience — that’s even more pressure than coming to the plate with a runner on second with two outs,” Rice said. “But everything here has been great all weekend. There’s no reason to expect it will change tomorrow.”

Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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