Category Archives: Baseball and Football

Josh Wilker’s Life Emerges from His Baseball “Cardboard Gods”
Baseball and Football

Josh Wilker’s Life Emerges from His Baseball “Cardboard Gods”

In an isolated cabin, wannabe novelist Josh Wilker scribbles in spiral notebooks waiting for his great novel to appear. To kill time, he starts pulling baseball cards from his childhood collection, writing reflections about each one. He realizes in time that this is the book he’d been searching for, “Cardboard Gods.”

“Moneyball,” Brad Pitt’s Baseball Movie, Has a Vital Back Story
Baseball and Football

“Moneyball,” Brad Pitt’s Baseball Movie, Has a Vital Back Story

“Moneyball,” the book and movie, is a baseball underdog story of poor kids outsmarting wealthy bullies. The back story is an underdog story of nerds beating arrogant jocks.

The Racist Slur “Uppity” Was a Compliment to Baseball Pioneer Bill White
Baseball and Football

The Racist Slur “Uppity” Was a Compliment to Baseball Pioneer Bill White

Bill White was part of the first generation of African American players in Major League Baseball, the first black broadcaster for a big league team, and the first black president of a Major League. When “Time Magazine” called him angry, he said he was “direct.” When racists called him “uppity,” he took it as a compliment, even named his autobiography “Uppity.” He proudly admits he had strong convictions, said just what he thought, and did not mince words.

Baltimore’s Love Affair with the John Unitas Colts
Baseball and Football

Baltimore’s Love Affair with the John Unitas Colts

Baltimore in the 1950′s was a blue collar factory town with a declining industrial base and a municipal inferiority complex, a traffic jam between New York and Washington. In 1952, the NFL gave the city the worst team in the All-America Football Conference as part of what, in effect, was a going-out-of-business sale. The city and team bonded instantly. Baltimore writer Michael Olesker tells the story of the love affair between the city and the John Unitas Colts beautifully — the coming of age story of a city, himself, and me.

Hall of Famer Teaches the Most Intuitive Act in Sport
Baseball and Football

Hall of Famer Teaches the Most Intuitive Act in Sport

Hall of Fame shortstop and batting coach Luke Appling conducts a hitting seminar with four slumping players. All four slumps ended that night. How did he teach something so difficult and intuitive?

Charley Finley of the A’s Won It All, Then Lost Even More
Baseball and Football

Charley Finley of the A’s Won It All, Then Lost Even More

Charles O. Finley, owner of the Kansas City/Oakland A’s was one of the most innovative owners ever. But his biggest changes were unintentional, driven by his ego and greed, and they forced him out of baseball.

A Comment on A Title, not the Book
Baseball and Football

A Comment on A Title, not the Book

Mickey Mantle was boyish when he started with the Yankees, like many players from previous eras. Players aren’t boyish that way any more, but calling his new biography “the end of America’s childhood” is just another New Yorker universalizing a New York-specific experience.

Super Bowl Sunday Is a Nice Mid-Winter National Holiday
Baseball and Football

Super Bowl Sunday Is a Nice Mid-Winter National Holiday

Though the football in Super Bowl games is uneven, it’s a delightful, new national holiday in mid-winter, when people need an excuse for a party.

Fifty-six, four-oh-six, nineteen forty one
Baseball and Football

Fifty-six, four-oh-six, nineteen forty one

In 1941, the last baseball season before World War II, Ted Williams had a batting average of .406. Joe DiMaggio got a hit in 56 consecutive games. No one has hit .400 since, and the closest anyone ever came to DiMaggio’s streak is 44.

Everybody Had an Opinion of George Steinbrenner
Baseball and Football

Everybody Had an Opinion of George Steinbrenner

Yankee managing partner George Steinbrenner was an authoritarian, intrustive team owner, who loved controversy and seeing his name in the media. Though he mellowed in his final years, tumult was the order of the day in Yankeedom.

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