"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
Above: Amy Mullane kisses her husband, Captain Neil Mullane Jr. of Ladder 14, at the scene of the fatal fire in West Roxbury last night.
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The funeral of a fireman who died in the line of duty in New York City inspired this recent post by the Random Penseur:
Today, I was walking up Fifth Avenue for lunch at a very grand private club on 5th when I started to run into groups of firemen in their dress uniforms. I knew, immediately, that today must be a funeral day at St. Patrick's Cathedral for one of the men killed downtown. The firemen milled about, in groups, smoking cigarettes, looking somber, some of them holding their children. It was very hot and not a lot of air was moving. The crowds grew thicker the closer to St. Patrick's I got. And there it was in front of the Cathedral: a firetruck hung with purple and black bunting for use as a hearse to take the coffin away for burial.
I stopped walking and, buffeted by those trying to get around me, just stood there and stared, stood there and remembered all of the 9/11 funerals when, for days and day after day, a similar truck was parked in front of the Cathedral. Some days, I would see women dressed in black holding hands with small children. Other days, just the truck, standing sentinel, waiting to carry its sometimes empty, sometimes full, coffin. It was a horrible flashback moment.
I stood, heedless of the time, and listened to the funeral remarks as they were delivered by a friend of the deceased. He was moving and the remarks touching. He even joked about the deceased's ability to spot an attractive woman from the fire truck at a thousand yards, in thick fog, and at night. I chuckled and with that little bit of laughter, the spell was broken.
As the crowd inside clapped at the conclusion, I smiled and turned to walk on.
The death was similar, the circumstances similar, but the difference I cannot express.
Anyone who is familiar only with Layton's work at Yankee Stadium will marvel at what he really had up his sleeve when left to his own devices, as can be heard in full flower here. He really didn't use a fraction of his bag of tricks at the Stadium, and these recordings show what a genius he really was.
I recommend "The Happy Organ" and "Hawaiian War Chant."
Monday, August 27, 2007
The Globe's Bob Ryan recalls a pair of games between Boston and St. Louis in 1950 in which the Red Sox beat the Browns 20-4 and 29-4.
The second game was played on "a 90-degree scorcher of a June day, so Sox management cleared the bleachers while the game was in progress, placing the displaced fans under cover in the grandstand," Ryan writes. "According to Globe columnist Jerry Nason, one press box wag observed, 'They should have invited the Browns to the grandstand instead.'"
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"Hapless" was a word often used to describe the old St. Louis Browns. The only original American League team never to win a World Series, mired for most of a half-century in the second division and perennially outdrawn by the NL Cardinals, the Brownies today are remembered for fielding a one-armed player, and sending a midget to bat.
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In 1935, the Browns drew only 80,000 fans all season. "Our fans never booed us," said Browns pitcher Ned Garver. "They wouldn't dare. We outnumbered 'em."
When Ned Garver won 20 games for a last-place Browns club that lost 100 games in 1951, he performed a remarkable pitching feat. Garver accounted for nearly 40 percent of the Browns' 52 wins that year.
He went on to become mayor of his hometown of Ney, Ohio, and looks back fondly on his days as a Brown:
Even though we were a losing team, I'm proud to be a part of the St. Louis Browns. All of my vehicles still have Browns bumper stickers on them.
The hill that is the outfield at Rockport's Evans Field is prominent in images from Game 1 and Game 3. You can also see a Townie rooter in a lobster suit.
My favorite among the spam names to recently come over the e-transom.
I imagine her singing Irving Berlin:
The gals with umbrellers Are always out with fellers In the rain or the blazing sun But a man never trifles with gals who carry rifles Oh, you can't get a man with a gun
With a gun! With a gun! No you can't get a man with a gun A Tom, Dick, or Harry Will build a house for Carrie when the preacher has made 'em one But he can't build you houses with buckshot in his trousers Oh, a man may be hot, but he's not When he's shot! Oh you can't get a man with a gun!
Via Corbis, the caption to this pic of Annie Oakley reads:
She once shot a cigarette from the mouth of former Kaiser Wilhelm, (when he was Crown Prince), and received a medal from King Edward of England who called her the greatest rifle shot in the world, but Annie Oakley as a girl in Greenville, Ohio, where she was born in 1860, had to be good with the rifle in order to shoot game for her mother and herself. At sixteen, she married Frank Butler and with him as her manager, she joined "Buffalo Bill" Cody's Wild West Show. Although she never had a written contract with that great showman and Scout, Annie Oakley traveled with Buffalo Bill's entourage for more than seventeen years and to him she was just "Missie." She could drill a pack of cards with a bullet from any distance. Free passes to any show punched with holes the size of 34 caliber bullets have since that time been called "Oakleys."
In 1887…Buffalo Bill's Wild West sailed to London as part of the U.S. delegation to Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. That May 5, Prince Albert Edward delighted in a special performance by the company and afterward wanted to meet the cast members. Annie Oakley had heard that women would flirt with the prince in front of his wife. When the prince was introduced to Annie and extended his hand, Annie passed it by and shook the princess' hand first. She told the prince, "You'll have to forgive me, I'm an American, and in America, women come first."
On May 11, it was Queen Victoria's turn to have a command performance. It was held at the exhibition grounds after her courtiers convinced her that they couldn't fit Cody's outfit into Windsor Castle. When the American flag entered the arena, Queen Victoria stood up and bowed deeply, and Cody's company roared its approval. For the first time in history, an English monarch had saluted the Star-Spangled Banner. After…Annie Oakley had curtsied and walked up to her, the queen told Annie, "You are a very clever little girl."
On a subsequent European tour, Annie was offered a commission in the French army by the president of France, and received a proposition from an African king:
The king of Senegal said he would buy her for 100,000 francs. Oakley declined, at which point the monarch fell to his knees, kissed her hand, and left. #
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Liberalism's post-Oswald crackup
James Piereson argues provocatively in a new book that JFK's assassination led to a change in American liberalism, from a positive creed that saw America as a force for good in the world, to a negative tendency, cynical of American society, power and influence.
It is one of the ironies of the era that many young people who in 1963 reacted with profound grief to Kennedy’s death would, just a few years later, come to champion a version of the left-wing doctrines that had motivated his assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. But why should this have been so? What was it about mid-century liberalism that allowed it to be knocked so badly off balance by a single blow?
Certainly the Cold War liberalism of the JFK Era had dash. Think New Frontier and the Space Race. Think Passing the Torch and Bearing Any Burden. Think James Bond and Felix Leiter. What is "liberalism," so called, today? The puerile, embittered leftists of the Daily Kos? Michael Moore, Jimmy Carter, and Nancy Pelosi?
Piereson maintains that, after President Kennedy was killed, a meme developed that JFK had fallen in right-wing Dallas to a sort-of amorphous Hatred at loose in American society, which fit the agenda of the Sixties Left more than the truth, that JFK had been assassinated by a Communist. As a result, he argues, liberalism took its eye off the ball as far as winning the Cold War and defending the Free World was concerned, and allowed itself to become the province of prune-faced kiljoys who see America an oppressor and the source of the world's ills. (Or something like that.) I don't know that I'm 100-percent convinced, but he makes a very interesting case. Certainly, the paranoid style, once considered the trademark of John Birchers and anti-fluoride crusaders on the right, now seems entrenched among grassy knollers on the left.
Mike Andrews, former teammate: "He was destined for the Hall of Fame. There was no question in my mind. He just had everything going for him. He was as good a clutch hitter as I've ever seen."
Johnny Pesky, former Sox shortstop and longtime coach: "He was a great player. The best 19-year-old I ever saw. That's one of the tragedies of baseball. When he got hurt, he was the best-looking young player I ever saw. I've said that many times. There's a lot of coulda, shoulda. We'll never know."
Billy Conigliaro, younger brother, on his memory of Aug. 18, 1967: "The sound of the ball hitting him. It was just a big whack, a thud. The ball just went straight down. It didn't glance off. It didn't skip to the backstop. It just kind of fell right there."
His first pitch came in tight. I jumped back and my helmet flew off. There was this tremendous ringing noise. I couldn't stand it. Just a loud shriek all over me. I was trying to find some place in my mouth where I could get air through, but I couldn't breathe. I kept saying to myself, "Oh, God, let me breathe." I didn't think about my future in baseball. I just wanted to stay alive.
[If] I could vibrantly relive something – or even experience something immortal right before the moment of my own demise - the scene I would like to be magically transmitted to in the end would not show some miraculous Red Sox team finally securing a World Series championship in the future. No. I would venture back to the early summer of 1967 – before the smoke bomb and Jack Hamilton. I would be sitting next to Daddy, alive again, watching the game that served as a bridge for both of us as long as he was on earth.
I would open my eyes and look up at the scoreboard in left – it’s the bottom of the first inning and my father and I are huddled together, sitting in our crowded seats behind the Sox dugout. Tony Conigliaro is swinging a few weighted bats in the on-deck circle. As he approaches home plate - healthy, brisk, and eager - public address announcer, Sherm Feller, blares out, “Now batting fourth, number 25, Tony Conigliaro, right field, Conigliaro.” The crowd begins to rhythmically clap around us, and we reflexively join in the refrain as well.
Tony settles into his familiar stance, his bat cocked, his coffee eyes staring out assertively at the pitcher. A fastball is tossed at the catcher’s tattered glove. As soon as the sphere is delivered, Conig’s vigorous eyes become wide ovals as the ball whistles towards the strike zone. He swings with the panache of a bullfighter; his bat strikes the red numbers on his back as he completes his stroke. In less than a second, Dad and I quickly rise from our blue seats as the white ball make its way towards Lansdowne Street. In the last moment of my life, all would be finally right with the world. #
Un qué edificio magnífico
"What a magnificent building," in Spanish (according to BabelFish).
All right, this is it, The whole season coming down To just one ball game, And every mistake will be magnified, And every great play will be magnified, And it's a tough night for the players, I'll tell ya. I know last night, being in the same situation many times With the great Yankee teams of the past, you stay awake, And you dream, And you think of what might be, If you are the hero or the goat.
October 14, 1976 AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST PLAYOFF Final game Kansas City at New York Pregame show
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Two balls and a strike. You know what they had on TV today, White? "Bridge on the River Kwai" Everybody should have gotten an Academy Award for that movie. I don't know how many times I've seen it. About forty times. Alec Guinness! William Holden! Three and one the count. I just heard somebody whistle. You know that song? That's what they whistle. Nobody out. And he pops it up.
May 5, 1987 New York at Chicago Joe Niekro pitching to Carlton Fisk Second inning, no outs, bases empty No score
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Got some chocolate-chip cookies here Murcer. So don't ask me any questions For a batter or so. All right?
June 17 1992 New York at Boston Roger Clemens pitching to Mel Hall Sixth inning, two outs, bases empty Red Sox lead 2-1
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"Prayer for the Captain"
There's a little prayer I always say Whenever I think of my family or when I'm flying, When I'm afraid, and I am afraid of flying. It's just a little one. You can say it no matter what, Whether you're Catholic or Jewish or Protestant or whatever. And I've probably said it a thousand times Since I heard the news on Thurman Munson.
It's not trying to be maudlin or anything. His Eminence, Cardinal Cooke, is going to come out And say a little prayer for Thurman Munson. But this is just a little one I say time and time again, It's just: Angel of God, Thurman's guardian dear, To whom his love commits him here there or everywhere, Ever this night and day be at his side, To light and guard, to rule and guide.
For some reason it makes me feel like I'm talking to Thurman, Or whoever's name you put in there, Whether it be my wife or any of my children, my parents or anything. It's just something to keep you really from going bananas. Because if you let this, If you keep thinking about what happened, and you can't understand it, That's what really drives you to despair.
Faith. You gotta have faith. You know, they say time heals all wounds, And I don't quite agree with that a hundred percent. It gets you to cope with wounds. You carry them the rest of your life.
(Many Sox fans no doubt are asking the same question after the Baltimore series.)
Manhattan correspondent Steve M will appreciate the photo accompanying the linked article, of capering Boston (NL) manager Casey Stengel. One of Ol' Case's other teams is making a fair bid this year to reenact the Miracle Braves. We shall see.
Above: an invitation to the 1915 grand opening of Braves Field, 92 years ago this week.
August 10, 1914: Defeated Cincinnati, 3-1, at the South End Grounds, Boston. Starters: Rube Benton vs. Bill James. The Braves (51-46) moved into second place in the National League, six and a half games out of first. (Baseball Library)
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At the end of the 1914 season, 22-year-old Bill James stood on the cusp of baseball stardom. He had just pitched his Boston Braves to the most improbable pennant in baseball history, and followed up on that performance by beating the mighty Philadelphia Athletics twice in three days during that year's World's Series. He was such a uniquely gifted pitcher that John J. Ward of Baseball Magazine predicted, "The further acquisition of experience should [make him] one of the greatest all-round pitchers in history." When he wrote those words, Ward probably never could have imagined that this talented pitcher, who already had 32 major league wins behind him, had but five more in front of him... (SABR)
My question about the "Day by Day" strip popular with many blogs on the right: What's with all the outthrust gazongas as the characters declaim on the Surge in Iraq or the Pvt. BeauchampAffair? It's as if the day's Michelle Malkin talking points were being brought to you by Modesty Blaise.
For cheesecake that fights the good fight, give me the old "Jane" of the Daily Mirror -- the "strip that teased," whose namesake, constantly challenged by wardrobe malfunctions, was dubbed by Winston Churchill "Britain's secret weapon" of the Second World War.
In the arena of sex...British mainstream comics were often more daring than their American equivalents. The morning after D-Day, British soldiers were given a morale boost by the Daily Mirror's cartoon glamour girl, Jane, taking the phrase "comic strip" literally. Thenceforth, Jane's undressed body ("Give me a break, I can't find my panties!") was a British icon, a pen-and-ink precursor of the Page 3 girl. An American syndicate agreed to take her on, but artist Norman Pett was obliged to scribble clothing over her naked bits and even to censor her suspenders.
Posing for Jane was an artist's model and West End showgirl named Christabel Leighton-Porter, who made appearances as her comic persona:
During one of those appearances she met the Lord Chamberlain, who asked her what she did in her act. "Well," she explained, "at one stage I turn my back to the audience, take off my bra, and then cover my breasts with my hands as I turn 'round." After a moment's thoughtful silence the King's sidekick replied, "You must have very large hands." #
The other day, a student at Woodbury volunteered to help build out our database. His name is Jo-Jo. He told me how much this blog...has opened his eyes to how great cartoons were in the 30s, 40s and 50s. He had a sketchbook full of Preston Blair drawings and enthusiasm for Fleischer, MGM and Warner Bros cartoons. So I asked him what kinds of music he listens to...
"David Bowie mostly."
My jaw hit the floor. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I gave Jo-Jo the best tip he'll ever get...
Cartoons aren't the only things that were better back in the first half of the 20th century.
Stephen Worth goes on to offers some clips of classic jazz, country music and blues to get the creative juices flowing. He writes:
If you are a student planning to be a professional cartoonist, listen to music that relates to your work- read books that inspire cartoony ideas- watch movies to learn cinematic techniques that can be applied to cartooning- LIVE THE FABULOUS LIFESTYLE OF A FAMOUS HOLLYWOOD CARTOONIST!
By the way... Jo-Jo is a big Fats Waller fan now! #
August 8, 1914: Defeated Cincinnati, 4-3, at the South End Grounds, Boston. Starters: Phil Douglas vs. Dick Rudolph. The Braves (50-46) are in fourth place, 6½ games out of first in the National League. (Baseball Library)
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Though he stood only 5'9.5" and weighed just 160 lbs., Dick Rudolph was a large component of George Stallings' "Big Three" that helped lead the 1914 Boston Braves to their miraculous pennant and World Series sweep…
Unlike the hard-throwing James and Tyler, Rudolph was a "pitching cutie" who relied on his great curveball and spectacular control. He also threw a spitball, but "about the best you could say for it was that it was wet," recalled his catcher Hank Gowdy.
…All he ever wanted to do was pitch in the big leagues. Late in the summer of 1905 [when barely 18] he mailed the following letter to [the] owner of the Cincinnati Reds:
Dear Sir, According to the league schedule your team will be in New York and Brooklyn the latter part of this month. I would like to have a chance to pitch against the Brooklyn team for your club to show my ability, as I would like to be with your team next year. Or if preferable against the New York National League team. It don't make any difference to me. All I want is a chance to show what I can do. And I think that now is as good a time as any, as I am sure you will not regret the favor.
Hoping that you can see your way clear to grant my wish, I beg to remain,
Yours truly, Richard Rudolph
[His letter was ignored, and he enrolled at Fordham University, making it to the big leagues five years later with the Giants. With the Braves, he became one of baseball's best and most durable pitchers, hurling more than 300 innings each season, 1914-16.] (SABR)
Hank was a landmark, the first really sexy hillbilly. Chet Atkins, who saw him perform, said he was graceful like a snake, somebody you couldn't take your eyes off. He sang at dance halls but people stopped dancing to watch him, 6-foot-1, 150 pounds, guitar extended, insinuating himself around the microphone stand, a jagged edge to his voice, darkness in his eyes. He came along when country music was dominated by novelty acts and huck-and-shuck mediocrities and comics with blacked-out teeth and Ma-and-Pops-and-Cousin-Hezzie bands and Republican daddies like Roy Acuff and Tex Ritter, and in blew this lean drifter who sang, "I don't know what I'll do-ooo-ooo / All I do is sit alone and sigh-ee-yi-ee-yi-yiii," his voice breaking into a hoarse falsetto, and "I love to hear her when she calls me sweet da-a-a-a-a-dy" and that cry, a sort of blue yodel like Jimmie Rodgers's, made women jump up and whoop and yell. He was a hot cat, he was what led to Elvis, and he wasn't some studio-designed star, his stardom was based on what he could do to people in person. He insisted on recording "Lovesick Blues" because it drove them wild in the roadhouses of the South. It made girls want to tear at his clothing.
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While I'm not one for counterintuitive Blue and Red State categories, here is some "Red State" music you'll like, whatever your state:
Grantland Rice, the prince of sportswriters, used to do a weekly radio interview with some sporting figure. Frequently, in the interest of spontaneity, he would type out questions and answers in advance. One night his guest was Babe Ruth.
"Well, you know, Granny," the Babe read in response to a question, "Duke Ellington said the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Elkton."
"Babe," Granny said after the show, "Duke Ellington for the Duke of Wellington I can understand. But how did you ever read Eton as Elkton? That's in Maryland, isn't it?"
"I married my first wife there," Babe said, "and I always hated the gawdam place." He was cheerily unniffled. In the uncomplicated world of George Herman Ruth, errors were part of the game.
Babe Ruth died 25 years ago but his ample ghost has been with us all summer and he seems to grow more insistently alive every time Henry Aaron hits a baseball over a fence. What, people under 50 keep asking, what was this creature of myth and legend like in real life? If he were around today, how would he react when Aaron at last broke his hallowed record of 714 home runs? The first question may be impossible to answer fully; the second is easy.
"Well, what d'you know!" he would have said when the record got away. "Baby loses another! Come on, have another beer." (Red Smith, 1973)
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He was the king. The boys in the pressbox stepped up their feverish competition to describe the indescribable. He was the Big Bambino, the Mauling Mastodon, the Behemoth of Bust, the Mammoth of Maul, the Colossus of Clout, the Sultan of Swat, a Modern Beowulf, the Blunderbuss, the Mauling Menace, the Rajah of Rap, the Wazir of Wham! One writer, doubtlessly fueled by a flask of bootleg hooch, called him a “dauntless devastating demon” who hit “clangorous clouts”! (Kal Wagenheim)
* * *
"Ruth was Rabelais," says Roger Kahn, smiling. "Somebody who wanted to drink up all the ale in New York and not let a cocktail waitress pass by untouched. He was a huge, excessive, barely believable fellow. That's the first thing. And then there were the home runs. Not just the numbers of them, but the distance. When he was with the Red Sox he hit one in spring training in an exhibition game at the Tampa fairgrounds. He hit it out of the racetrack, into a farmer's field, and it stopped in a furrow. Several New York writers got a surveyor's glass and said it had traveled 630 feet. While that distance taxes credulity, writer Bill McGeehan said he didn't know how far it traveled, but when it came down it was covered in ice." (Cigar Aficionado)