"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
At right with the catcher's mitt in the River City-style photo above is Gabby Hartnett, pride of Woonsocket, R. I., and Millville, Mass., widely considered the greatest NL catcher before Johnny Bench.
Millville, MA, oldtimers still talk about "the Hartnett arm"…
Gabby broke his arm as a child. It didn't knit properly, and his mother insisted he carry a pail of stones or sand wherever he went, to exercise it.
Here's a picture of Hartnett at his wedding with his wife and the priest.
In 1929, his arm went mysteriously dead in spring training, where he had reported with his new bride, Martha. Nothing helped the arm, and during a Cubs' series in Boston, he went to see his mother in Woonsocket, RI, after the games. She predicted that his arm would be better as soon as his pregnant wife delivered their child. Hartnett caught just one game that season. Junior was born December 4, and within two weeks, Gabby's arm soreness was gone.
He's best known for his "Homer in the Gloamin'" that helped the Cubbies to the pennant in 1938, but I like that he reportedly slept off benders in the firehouse across from Wrigley Field.
So a toast to the Toast of the Blackstone Valley: I think I shall have to make a pilgrimage to his house. Wonder if there's a statue in Millville (due west of what Dale Price dubs H. P. Lovecraft Country)?
If there isn't, I might have to make it a cause, up there with getting a monument at BU to fellow New England-born Hall of Fame catcher Mickey Cochrane (of Bridgewater, Mass., in the heart of Lovecraft Country).
* * *
Jackie42 at the Baseball Fever board went digging through the Library of Congress digital archives and posted an outstanding selection of photos from early Cubs history.
Striving to win having led only to bitterness and heartache, the current edition of the Chicago (NL) nine should get in touch with its inner Cubbiness and recapture the Zen of cheerful losing, Richard Crepeau argues at Elysian Fields Quarterly. Think No-mah ever says, "Let's play two"?
Between the dropping out and tuning in, the Elysian Fields are starting to sound a lot like Amsterdam.
* * *
I'm somewhere between a Purist and a Mudvillian according to Mudville Magazine's primer, Which Fan are You?
CHEERING: Casual fan: Shouts along with Queen's "We Will Rock You". Purist: Warbles "Take Me Out to the Ball Game". Mudvillian: Performs Sousa tunes on the tuba.
HECKLING: Casual fan: Shouts profanity; hurls quarters, garbage at hated players. Purist: Chants "Hey Badda Badda, Suh-Wing!" Mudvillian: Shrieks the piercing cry of dying rabbits; rubs balloons together.
THE WAVE: Casual fan: Ready? It's coming! It's coming! Purist: Harrumphs, shrinks down into seat. Mudvillian: Vomits due to seasickness.
SCORING: Casual fan: Scoring? Are you kidding? Purist: Has detailed scorebooks dating back to the '70s. Mudvillian: Pays close attention to game, then retreats to Stillwater caves to paint contest on damp walls. #