"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
One hundred years ago today, Ty Cobb played his first game with the Tigers, and the Detroit Free Press has marked the centennial with a four-part series on the controversial baseball legend. Here are parts I,II,III and IV.
The same month in 1905 that the volatile Georgia Peach broke into the big leagues, his mother shot his father to death.
It is quite possible that his father's traumatic death spurred Cobb to play baseball the way he did. When Al Stump, the ghostwriter of Cobb's autobiography, asked Cobb why he fought so hard in baseball, Cobb answered:
"I did it for my father, who was an exalted man. They killed him when he was still young. They blew his head off the same week I became a major-leaguer. He never got to see me play. Not one game, not an inning. But I knew he was watching me...and I never let him down. Never."
Baseball is a red-blooded sport for red-blooded men. It's no pink tea, and mollycoddles had better stay out. It's a struggle for supremacy, a survival of the fittest.
I had to fight all my life to survive. They were all against me... but I beat the bastards and left them in the ditch.
When I began playing the game, baseball was about as gentlemanly as a kick in the crotch.
I may have been fierce, but never low or underhand.
The base paths belonged to me, the runner. The rules gave me the right. I always went into a bag full speed, feet first. I had sharp spikes on my shoes. If the baseman stood where he had no business to be and got hurt, that was his fault.
Our Father in heaven, through the powerful intercession of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, spare us from all harm during this hurricane season and protect us and our home from all disasters of nature. Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us.
-- Traditional prayer asking the intercession of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, patroness of New Orleans, to spare the city from the devastation of a hurricane.
Friday, August 26, 2005
The Long-Awaited Zeke Bonura Tribute
Seventy years ago today, Zeke Bonura of the White Sox stole home with two outs in the 15th inning to beat the Yankees – as good a reason as any to post a tribute to Vice President John Nance Garner's favorite player and wartime Czar of North African Baseball.
A fans' delight and manager's nightmare, Bonura led AL first basemen in fielding in 1936 by refusing to become involved. As easy grounders bounded by untouched, Zeke waved his "Mussolini salute" with his glove. Known affectionately as "Banana Nose," the colorful and outspoken Bonura was the White Sox' first bona fide home run hitter, with 27 in his rookie year. He continued slugging, but his nonchalant fielding, aggravating annual hold-outs, and rumored interest in owner J. Lou Comiskey's daughter got him traded to Washington in 1938…
Hugely popular with Chicago fans, Bonura was a unique trial for White Sox manager Jimmy Dykes:
A colorful member of the team was Zeke Bonura, a slugger stationed at first base who was not known for either high intellect or fielding grace. Zeke had a problem understanding signs – Dykes recalled that one game got him so flustered that he yelled out, "Bunt, you meathead. Bunt! Bunt! B-U-N-T." It didn't work – no bunt from Zeke that day.
After Zeke was traded to Washington in 1938, Dykes did not bother to change the signs because Bonura couldn't remember them anyway. Nevertheless, a surprise was in store when the teams did meet that season. After Zeke advanced to third base, he saw Dykes in the dugout swat at a mosquito. Recalling (for once in his career) that a swat meant a steal, Bonura took off for home, knocked the ball away from the catcher, and scored. Considering that he stole only 19 bases in his career, this was quite a shocking event! Bonura explained later, "I saw Dykes give the sign to steal, but forgot I wasn't on his team anymore."
Zeke was welcomed to the nation's capital by Vice President "Cactus Jack" Garner, remembered today for his saying about the vice presidency and a bucket of warm spit. A tribute site to the New Deal veep carries this account by Washington sportswriter Shirley Povich (warning: music – turn down your speakers):
Vice President Garner, Zeke's Biggest Fan
"When the announcement was made in the spring of 1938 that Zeke was coming to the Washington Senators, the happiest man in Washington was neither owner Clark Griffith nor manager Bucky Harris. It was Vice President John Nance Garner.
"Cactus Jack took an early fancy to Bonura and repeatedly urged Griff to buy, trade, or steal him from the White Sox. When Garner received news of the trade, he promptly turned to Senate over to a junior member of that august body and telephoned Griff his congratulations.
"Bonura's finest hour was the Opening Game of the 1938 season. Just before the start of the game he went over to the Vice President's box for a chat with Garner. Zeke told the Vice President, "I'll hit a special home run for you today."
"On his first trip to the plate as a Senator, he slugged the third ball pitched on a straight line into the centerfield bleachers. Zeke ran around the bases at full speed, crossed the plate and rushed directly to Garner's box. The happy Vice President hugged Bonura then and there, while the action stopped."
Bonura later was traded to the New York Giants, but wasn't so happy about it, recalls Washington fan Mediocre Fred:
One of our less-famous ballplayers here in Washington was a first baseman by the name of Zeke Bonura. Zeke was a good-hit, no-field sort who played here for a couple seasons before being dealt to the Giants in 1939. The Giants were a presumed contender that year, while the Senators were projected to struggle, and yet Zeke seemed unhappy about the trade. He didn't want to leave. So a puzzled reporter asked him why he didn't seem happy about going to New York. And Zeke, in a turn of phrase that Shakespeare himself might envy, replied: "Now I won't be able to sign my letters 'Senator Henry J. Bonura, Democrat, Louisiana.'"
I ask you, friends: Who are we to argue with the wisdom of Zeke Bonura?
Thursday, August 25, 2005 The Genocide Will Not Be Televised
An advocacy group called the Center for American Progress created a TV spot for its BeAWitness campaign decrying the lack of TV news coverage of Darfur. The ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates in Washington, DC, refused to air the ad.
I am South Africa, according to this quiz unearthed by Mrs P, who observes:
There's John Edwards' Other America, Bill Clinton's America, the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan's America and then there's the latest entry, Andrew Cusack's America. In Andrew Cusack's America, everyone is elderly, except for Andrew, and sipping gin and tonics and sitting on rocking chairs on the porches of Greek Revival farmhouses overlooking the Hudson River reading the New Criterion and waiting for the liveried minibus with Andrew's crest on the doors to pick them up for Mass.
My pith helmet must be around here somewhere. In TR's America, ex-presidents decorated their Victorianswith leopard skins and elephant tusks upon returning from safaris on which they read Keats and Macaulay (bound in pigskin) in the bush.
Theodore Roosevelt IV, great-grandson of the former president, supports his first cousin Susan Roosevelt's ex-husband for governorofNewYork.
Once an enthusiastic Bill Weld supporter myself, I must confess his mid-life crisis – described in this 2002 New York magazine piece -- left me disenchanted. Perhaps disappointed is the better word.
Still, I'll be following Weld's foray into NY politics with interest. As the NY Sun's John P. Avlon comments:
It is hard to come up with another American who can count both President Bushes, Rudolph Giuliani, and President Clinton and Senator Clinton as personal friends (indeed, it was rumored that Mr. Clinton wanted to appoint Mr. Weld the nation's attorney general in the event of Janet Reno's retirement). These broad if unlikely alliances may raise eyebrows in some conservative circles, but it is evidence of Mr. Weld's healthy ability to reach across party lines in these harshly partisan times. #
Today in History: American Memory recalls America's first archbishop, John Carroll of Maryland, whose statue, above, graces the Georgetown campus, and First Lady Florence Kling Harding, whose husband could have given Bill Clinton lessons.
Cindy Sheehan & Co: Unhinged: Warn America becoming "fascist state" * US policy seen guided by Jewish conspiracy * Tell it, Cindy, say commentators at LewRockwell, making common cause with Michael Moore, former Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi, and the webmasters of the Democratic Party * Who says there's a left-right divide in this country?
Does the Cindy Sheehan Blog Swarm at Shakespeare's Sister recognize it does, indeed, inhabit the far left bank – of the fever swamp?
I've traveled more miles, been to more countries, met more people, signed more autographs, shaken more hands, thrown more baseballs ... and spent more time in combat than any other player in baseball history.
– Bob Feller, quoted by Frank Deford
At the moment I'm reading the piece on Bob Feller by Deford in last week's SI, as well as Bob Feller's Little Black Book of Baseball Wisdom, excerpted at the Baseball Library.
There was nothing about him to suggest that he could, very possibly, throw a round object harder than anybody else who ever strode upon God's green earth...
The boy was also the first athlete to be raised by his father to be a star. Bill Feller was a no-nonsense farmer, working 360 acres by the Raccoon River, but before little Bobby could walk, the father would sit on the davenport, roll a rubber ball to him and then hold up a pillow to catch the infant's return tosses. Bill Feller switched to growing wheat instead of corn because that took less labor, allowing more time for Bobby to play ball. In the winter they threw together on the second floor of the three-story barn, so that the boy could keep that magic appendage of his in shape. Bobby could throw a curve at the age of eight (and it never did any harm to his arm). He was beating whiskered high school teenagers when he was still in grade school. When the boy was 13, prefiguring that fictional Iowa field of dreams, father and son cut down about 20 big oak trees and carved out an actual diamond right there on the farm. Of course, they built a real mound. And a scoreboard and a refreshment stand, too, for the wide-eyed visitors who flocked to the farm and paid to see the boy wonder set men down.
Feller was raised Roman Catholic. One day the parish priest upbraided Bill for allowing his son to play on Sabbath afternoons. Bob still remembers. His father said this to the priest: "I'll never see you again." Thereupon he turned heel, and the Fellers started worshipping on Sunday mornings as Methodists, so that Bob might play on Sunday afternoons without sanctimonious censure from the clergy.
Here's Feller on the cover of Time Magazine in 1937.
The SI article is available online only to subscribers, but it's worth a read if you can get your hands on a copy: Deford brings his subject – and another era – alive.
Around the Horn
* Standing up for Indians (and Braves and Warriors, too) is religion writer Kenneth Woodward in an essay criticizing NCAA Puritanism on Native American mascots.
* At the new NY Sun blog, Ira Stoll comments on the Michael Moore crowd that has adopted Cindy Sheehan as the face of the anti-war movement: Ms. Sheehan's "coalition" includes a lot of people who think the people who killed her son were justified.
We likely joined the party as we were concerned about the environment, the needs of the poor, and social equality.
We weren't really looking to join a party that can hold a fund raiser using scantily clad bimbos and dimwits in the nation's business hub, while pretending the rest of the country won't notice.
Anne Coulter, the controversial conservative columnist, routinely accuses the Democrats of being the party of sodomy and abortion.
Those of us who are Conservative Democrats, which most of us outside the East Coast were, would like to dispute that. We'd maintain that out here most of us who still register as Democrats aren't Republicans, but are likely social conservatives opposed to abortion and gay marriage, for example. But the party doesn't give us any help in doing it…
* * *
An outstanding piece in The Guardian by Nick Cohen, drummed out of the Left for straying on the Islamist threat, makes a significant observation:
The least attractive characteristic of the middle-class left - one shared with the Thatcherites - is its refusal to accept that its opponents are sincere. The legacy of Marx and Freud allows it to dismiss criticisms as masks which hide corruption, class interests, racism, sexism - any motive can be implied except fundamental differences of principle.
On a Harry Potter kick: My commute these days is an hour both ways, so I've been listening my through the Harry Potter series on audio-tape, and have made it as far as Book Five, the Order of the Phoenix. I now understand the addictive nature of the books. And narrator Jim Dale is remarkable.
Apologies for the recent scarcity of posts: I've been socking away items, and haven't had time to put them up, but should be emptying the virtual desk-drawer soon.