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.”
Category Archives: Baseball and Football
“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.
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 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 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.