Sunday, June 29, 2008

Benny Leonard: LES Ghetto Wizard

An excerpt from the sweetscience
Benny Leonard: Ghetto Fabulous Ghetto Wizard
By Pat Putnam
“Benny Leonard moved with the grace of a ballet dancer and wore an air of arrogance that belonged to royalty.” – Dan Parker, NY sportswriter
The kid in the woolen underwear cut off at the knees and the badly scuffed gym shoes thought he looked like a fighter until he saw his opponent, a redheaded Irish fireplug named Joey Fogarty but called Shorty by everyone but his mother, who never called him anything but Joseph, except when she was angry, and then she called him Joseph Francis Xavier. A veteran of bootleg boxing at the Silver Heel Club on the squalid lower East Side of New York City, Fogarty entered the club’s jury-rigged ring wearing Kelly green swimming trunks, the kind that drooped over the knees; a sash made from pink netting from a crate of oranges, wrapped twice around his waist and tied with a huge bow in the back; and a pair of old skating shoes, which, if you did not look too closely, offered the appearance of boxing shoes. Fogarty had surreptitiously lifted the shoes from the cold water flat of the boyfriend of his older sister, Maureen.
“Geez, look at John L. Sullivan hisself,” Rusty Grogan said to little Benjamin Leiner, who was studying his resplendent ring rival with narrowed eyes.
“I know that little rat,” snarled Leiner. “He runs with that Sixth Street Irish gang that used to beat up on me.”
For the opening decade of his life, before his Russian immigrant parents, Jacob and Minnie Leiner, moved the family to Harlem to be nearer Jacob’s tailor shop, Benjamin lived in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood on Eighth Street, hard by Second Avenue and two long blocks from the home turf of Fogarty and his fellow Hibernian hooligans. A public bathhouse straddled the bottom of the narrow cobblestone street. Years later, Leiner, by then recognized as Benny Leonard, the lightweight champion, said: “We had Italians to the south and Irish to the north and they were always passing through our neighborhood on the way to the baths. You had to stay in the house or you had to fight the Italian and Mick kids as they came through.”
When there was snow on the streets, the ethnic neighborhood gangs battled with snowballs packed tightly around pieces of coal, soaked with water, and frozen until as hard as cannon balls. Other times, they fought with baseball bats and bare fists, with bicycle chains and loaded canes and broken bottles. Leonard said they were the hardest fights of his life, “and many a kid, Jew, Italian and Irish, suffered permanent injury.”
There is as much fable as fact to the biographies of Leonard, but one thing that everyone appears to agree on is that it was the brothers Max and Joe Dornholz, Benny’s uncles on his mother’s side, who found their 11-year-old nephew bruised and bloodied a few moments after another one-sided battle against either the Italians or the Irish, and, after cleaning the little fellow up, hustled him off to a gym, where he received instruction in the proper fashion to bust some poor fellow’s nose.
“Benny,” Max, the largest of the uncles, told the willing youngster, “if you are going to fight, it is best if you learn how to use your fists. There may not always be an iron pipe handy.”
“Right,” said Joe, the oldest Dornholz brother, “but just don’t tell your mother and father that it was our idea.”
Unlike the Jews of New York in the early 1900s crammed, sometimes 15 to a room, into cheerless cold-water tenements on New York’s East Side, the Dornholz brothers found no shame in boxing. “Where is it written that Jews cannot be fighters?” said Max. They were in the minority. Their people were Orthodox; the men bearded and the women, as the Ribalow’s wrote in Jews in American Sport, “properly humble.” Strict Orthodox teachers, most often the local rabbi, educated the children, who honored and obeyed parents as their mothers and fathers had honored and obeyed parents in the old country. Rarely did one of the youngest generation step beyond the pale to become a fighter or, Abraham forbid, an actor or actress, and when that happened, the elders sighed and blamed each fresh moral failure on the new fast life of America that was making life difficult for “the real Jews.”
That not more fled their harsh surroundings for the uncertainties of the ring or stage is a tribute to the immigrant parents that hammered the moral codes of the old countries into their young almost from the first breath. Shortly after 1910, a year before Benny had his first professional fight, a report issued by New York City officials estimated that within the square mile of the lower East Side where the Leiner’s lived there were more than several hundred brothels, as many pool halls, twice that number of bars, and, according to the NYPD, more than 300 gang hangouts. In Patrick Downey’s Gangster City, a history of the New York underworld over the first 35 years of the 20th century, the Lower East Side of Manhattan was labeled the greatest breeding ground for gunmen and gangsters this country has ever seen. The same area that produced the Benny Leonards and Al Jolsons, produced the Buchalters and Anastasias and Releses of Murder Incorporated.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Cubs Karma Train: 9/23/1908


Eight Men Out

The trailer to the movie above
More On Eliot Asinof from Swarthmore Magazine
Ninth Man Out
By Jeffrey Lott
Occasionally, you discover a new author, and you just can't get enough. You read everything you can get your hands on, putting down one book and immediately picking up the next. You start seeing into a writer's mind--apart from the subjects and characters in his books--and you want to know more.
I came across the books of Eliot Asinof about a year ago. A Florida newspaper ran a brief profile on the publication of his latest book, Off-Season, a novel about a major league baseball star who returns to his hometown to find--and fight--racism and corruption. As a baseball fan, I wanted to read the novel, especially when I learned that Asinof had previously written Eight Men Out, a baseball book I had read and admired some years ago.
According to Swarthmore's computerized library catalog, a dozen of Asinof's books were in McCabe Library. Who was this person with 6 novels and 8 nonfiction works to his credit? I started reading, and, before long, I knew I wanted to meet him.
We talked last summer in a dark Sixth Avenue bar in New York. Tucked under his arm, neatly boxed and tied, was the original manuscript of Eight Men Out, his best-known and most successful book. As he showed this treasure to me, Asinof said that his next appointment was with an auctioneer of sports memorabilia who might buy it. But now there was time for a brandy and soda and a couple hours of conversation about his life and work.
We swapped baseball stories. I knew he was a New York-born Yankee fan; although I'm a Yankee hater from way back, I ad-mired the current World Champs from the Bronx. Only three of Asinof's books are about baseball, but I knew that playing the sport was how he defined himself as a youth.
"When I grew up, it was the game," he said. "Every kid had a glove." He spent his early years playing pickup games in New York's Central Park and later captained both his high school team on Long Island and the Swarthmore squad. At Swarthmore (where he transferred after a year at Williams), he encountered George Earnshaw, former Philadelphia Athletics star pitcher, then fire chief in the Ville.
"In his fading years as a ballplayer," said Asinof, "George threw half-speed batting practice for the College team to keep his arm in shape, and on Sundays he went up to New York to pitch for the Brooklyn Bushwicks for $200 a week. This is a guy who had pitched to Ruth and Gehrig, and I used to challenge him to throw me his best stuff. I could hit it all right--until he'd smile and fool me with an off-speed breaking pitch."
Asinof couldn't get enough baseball and soon found himself playing twilight ball for a semipro team in Chester, Pa., assuming the name Johnny Elliott to protect his college eligibility. Earnshaw thought the young first baseman might have the talent to play professionally after college and arranged for him to play summer ball in a New York-New England college league sponsored by the Big Leagues. There he became friends with Mickey Rutner, a solid player who would later get a shot at the majors--and who became the main character in Man on Spikes, Asinof's first book (1955).
The day he graduated from Swarthmore with Honors in history, Asinof signed a contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. He played two seasons in the minor leagues before joining the Army after the start of World War II.
"I played for joy, not for ambition," he later wrote. "The long, battering bus rides after night games, the inadequate lights, grubby locker rooms, sleazy hotel rooms, terrible food, low pay ... nothing bothered us, for we were playing ball."
Along the way, there were cruel, despotic managers and anti-Semitic obscenities from opposing players and fans. "It was, in many ways, a hate-ridden, competitive world, but in the end, the game was the thing, the only thing.... Baseball was played with a bat and a glove, not with a mouth."
His former teammate Mickey Rutner had taught him how to cope:
"'F-- 'em all, big and small,' Mickey used to say. This became the philosophical premise of my existence. Sometimes, you face situations where you are at the mercy of forces beyond your control, and if you try to reach a logical solution, you're gonna go crazy. So how do you save your ass? Say, 'F-- 'em all, big and small.' It gives you a sense of liberation."
Much of Asinof's work is about people who find themselves in situations like this, who struggle to hold on to their dignity and power.
There's Laurence Blutcher (People vs. Blutcher, 1970), a young black man whose entanglements with a brutal and corrupt criminal justice system become a poignant indictment of racism in America. There are Craig Badiali and Joan Fox (Craig and Joan, 1971), two New Jersey teens who commit suicide in 1969 as a protest against the Vietnam War--kids whose lives in an uptight suburb seem hopeless and beyond their control. The Fox Is Crazy Too (1976) is a portrait of Garrett Trapnell, a bank robber and con man who manipulates the insanity defense--which Asinof abhors--to evade prison.
It's the same in Asinof's fiction. Say It Ain't So, Gordon Littlefield (1977) recasts the Black Sox story as a dark but zany plot to throw the Super Bowl. The hero of his latest novel, Off Season, is a major-league ballplayer named John Cagle who confronts some demons from his past and recognizes that certain responsibilities go with his fame and fortune.
And then there's "Shoeless" Joe Jackson. Some say that Eight Men Out is the best baseball book ever written. As every fan knows, eight members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox took small-time money from big-time gamblers to throw that fall's World Series. When widespread rumors of a fix led to an investigation, the suspected players were hauled before a grand jury, where they confessed. All were banned from baseball by the team owners and their newly appointed enforcer, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Neither the gamblers who ruined the players' careers nor the owners who manipulated the scandal to further enslave their chattels were ever made to account for their actions.
Eight Men Out is the definitive book on the scandal. Asinof's sympathy lies with the players--men whose livelihood was controlled lock, stock, and jockstrap by the team owners and who became pawns in a big-money game. Joe Jackson is a particular hero, whereas the venal owners and their racetrack friends get rough treatment. An uneducated millhand--and prodigious slugger--from South Carolina, the vulnerable Jackson was first seduced by the conspirators and later forced to sign a confession that he couldn't even read. Jackson tried for years to return to baseball, playing at times under assumed names. But the ban held, and a promising career was lost.
For an author, such a book should be something to celebrate, but ultimately it taught Asinof some tough lessons about being a pawn himself. From the time he first became interested in the story, it seemed like the fix was in.
The Black Sox story was almost untouchable even before he tackled it. Asinof's first attempt came in a play he was commissioned to write for live television in 1960, but the production was killed before airtime by its sponsor, the DuPont Company. Apparently, then-Commissioner of Baseball Ford Frick told company and network executives that airing the Black Sox story would be "bad for baseball."
A New York Times report about Frick's censorship led to a call from an editor at Putnam's--and a book contract for Asinof. He set about reading everything that had been written about the scandal and covered thousands of miles tracking down surviving members of the team, many of whom would not talk about the 1919 World Series. When it was published in 1963, baseball fans embraced Eight Men Out, and it sold steadily--though not spectacularly--in the years that followed. Asinof optioned the movie rights several times. But surprisingly for such a dramatic story, no film was made for 25 years.
By the mid-1970s, after Asinof had written a half-dozen other books, he learned that David Susskind's Talent Associates was readying a show about the Black Sox for NBC-TV. Because he could not claim a copyright on history--historical events are considered to be in the public domain--Asinof says he thought little of the Susskind project until he also learned that Susskind had told the program's sponsor, IBM, that Talent Associates owned the rights to Eight Men Out.
Asinof strenuously objected. He didn't even own the rights himself, he told IBM; they were then held by a California producer--and certainly not by David Susskind. To its credit, IBM ordered NBC to stop the project, whereupon Susskind slapped Asinof with a $1.75 million lawsuit. It took many months--and many thousands of dollars--to defend himself, but Asinof finally prevailed. Later, he wrote an angry book about the Susskind affair, Bleeding Between the Lines (1979).
Eight Men Out languished after that, a tainted property. The rights returned to Asinof, and he managed to option them again in the early 1980s for $30,000.
"Not only had I not made any money on the book," he says, "but defending myself had cost me money and sapped my energies as a writer. At the time, [the $30,000] was a lot of money--a year's income--and it got me out of hock."
But, as Asinof points out, a piece of writing is "just like a painting. A painter sells his work for $100, and every guy who owns it after that sells it for more. The rights I sold for $30,000 ended up being bought by Orion Pictures for $125,000."
So it's no surprise that, according to Asinof, his first encounter on the set with independent filmmaker John Sayles went like this:
"You're on the rumor mill, El," said Sayles. "Everybody in the movie business thinks you're a troublemaker."
"Why did you hire me, then?" shot back Asinof.
"I hired you because of it."
Sayles and Asinof became close friends. Asinof calls Sayles' film "a reaffirmation. Suddenly, here comes a first-class guy who surrounds himself with first-class people. He knew what the movie business is like. Making that picture was a lot of fun at a time when I had a tendency to become cynical."
But Asinof's problems weren't over. The movie should have provided a golden opportunity for the first best-seller of Asinof's 40-year writing career. "But on the day the film opened," he says, "there was not one copy of my book in the City of New York," nor anywhere else in the country. Despite months of advance notice from Asinof about the movie, his publisher neglected to bring out a new printing to coincide with the release of the film.
In many of Asinof's books, you find a speech or passage that is clearly in the author's voice--usually a cry against hypocrisy or injustice. In Off-Season, protagonist Cagle's black roommate, Corky, makes an angry "I Have a Dream" speech about the future of race in America. In this ballplayer's dream--a nightmare really--baseball becomes the apotheosis of segregation and race war, with one all-white league and one all-black:
All games, then, will be a racial clash. I have a dream, Roomie, of high-flying spikes, of pitchers decking hitters, of body-crashing drama at home plate, of violence and rumors of violence.... Baseball will become the heart and soul of racist America, bringing in crowds beyond the greediest club owner's dream. The World Series, then, would be a modern reprise of the Civil War itself. I have a dream, Roomie, where the bullshit hypocrisy of America's quest for racial amity will once and for all be abandoned.
"Is this you? Your voice in Corky's speech?" I asked Asinof. "Do you think that the quest for racial amity is false?"
"Yes," he said quietly. "That's me. That's absolutely me.... Any black will tell you that--except those who buy in to the white world. The big leaguers now, they're all buying in."
"But you have to understand," he says. "Part of my education as a writer was the impact of all my lefty friends. In [the 1930s], that was respectable, at least until the McCarthy period, when they all went to jail or got blacklisted. You identified with the outsider because that's what you are--an alienated character in American society. It still exists in my work. In a world of people who buy in, I'm always trying to resist."
Asinof spent the late 1950s in Hollywood, married for a time to Marlon Brando's sister, but returned to New York in 1959. "I got out of LA by luck," he says. It reminded me of a passage about the film industry from his book Bleeding Between the Lines.
"Take the money. Take the money. Unquestionably, it was the sine qua non of survival in the entertainment business," he wrote. "No one ever blamed anyone for taking the money…. It was a phrase that could wear a man down, whittling away at his resistance until the wound was raw, the spirit infected.... It might take a man half a lifetime to develop his powers to resist--and less than an hour to sell them out."
Only three of Eliot Asinof''s (left) 14 books are about baseball, but the sport played a central role in his youth. After Swarthmore, he played in the minor leagues for two years with the 1940 St. Alban's [Vt.] Giants. Asinof's best-known book is Eight Men Out, the story of the 1919 "Black Sox" scandal, later the subject of a film.
Eliot Asinof hasn't bought in, and he hasn't sold out. An upper-middle class kid, a top student, a star athlete, he was by his own admission a "straight arrow." When he and some friends got caught painting a red "S" on a Haverford College building on the eve of a football game, he says Dean Everett Hunt was almost in shock to find him among the miscreants.
But Swarthmore changed him. His books are peopled with outsiders, outlaws, and outcasts--and he doesn't mind if you think of him that way too. He's the self-styled ninth man out, the uncompromising tough guy of a professional ballplayer, complete with the "F-- 'em all" attitude. Yet in his work, there's intelligence and compassion; he celebrates the individual's ability to fight life's battles, to stand in against the high, tight fastball.
He remembers exactly when the light went on in his head--the crucial moment in his education--in a seminar with legendary Professor of Economics Clare Wilcox.
"One night we went to his home for the seminar, and he said, 'Leave all your stuff here--we're going into Philadelphia.' Seven or eight of us drove into Philadelphia to see John Steinbeck's movie Grapes of Wrath.
"Then we came back to his house--it was close to midnight, but his wife made tea and served cookies--and he spent the next hour talking about the economics of Grapes of Wrath. I learned a lot about what America was like that night.
"I've never forgotten that," he said quietly.

Eliot Asinof

from All Things Considered, January 23, 1998
A campaign is underway to make "Shoeless" Joe Jackson eligible for baseball's Hall of Fame. Moviegoers will remember him as the first player to take his glove to Kevin Costner's field of dreams, but he is better known as one of the central characters in the infamous "Black Sox" scandal. Various players for the Chicago White Sox were accused of taking money to "throw" the 1919 World Series...among them, outfielder Joe Jackson, one of the greatest players in the history of the game. All of the men involved were ultimately banned from baseball by the commissioner who was appointed to oversee the game in the wake of the scandal. But recently, Hall of Fame members Ted Williams and Bob Feller have petitioned the commissioner's office to have the ban against Joe Jackson lifted, and make him eligible for election to the Hall of Fame. A former Commissioner of Baseball and a baseball historian talk with NPR's Neal Conan about whether it's now time to "say it ain't so, Joe."

About Asinof: Part 1
Eliot Asinof, ‘Eight Men Out’ Author, Is Dead at 88
Eliot Asinof, whose journalistic re-creation of the 1919 Black Sox scandal, “Eight Men Out,” became a classic of both baseball literature and narrative nonfiction, died Tuesday in Hudson, N.Y. He was 88 and lived in Ancramdale, N.Y.
The cause was complications of pneumonia, his son, Martin, said.
A writer whose shrewdness and insight trumped his style, which was plainspoken and realistic, Mr. Asinof was productive and versatile. He wrote more than a dozen books, including a novel, “Final Judgment,” that is set on a college campus and concerns a protest to keep President Bush from delivering a commencement address, and is to be published in September by Bunim & Bannigan.
Weeks before his death, his son said, Mr. Asinof completed a memoir of his World War II service in the Army Corps on Adak Island in the Aleutians. “Seven Days to Sunday,” his 1968 account of a week in the life of the New York Giants football team as it prepared for a game, was an early if not groundbreaking enterprise of journalistic embedding in the world of sports.
His first novel, “Man on Spikes,” published in 1955 and based on a longtime friend who spent years in the minor leagues, was a prescient condemnation of baseball’s feudal control over the players. That system was not dissolved until 1975 with the abolition of the so-called reserve clause in standard contracts, which allowed teams to retain in virtual perpetuity the services of players in their employ.
Mr. Asinof also wrote for television and the movies, although his published credits were limited, probably because he was among the many writers who were blacklisted in the 1950s. In his case, he once wrote after he got hold of his F.B.I. file, the blacklisting came about because “I had at one time signed a petition outside of Yankee Stadium to encourage the New York Yankees to hire black ballplayers.”
But he is best known for “Eight Men Out,” published in 1963, and for the 1988 movie of the same title.
The book is an exhaustively reported and slightly fictionalized account of how eight members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox allowed their anger at the parsimonious team owner, Charles Comiskey, to corrupt their integrity, leading them to welcome the overtures of gamblers, who persuaded them to throw the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. A seminal event in the history of the game, it led to the appointment of the first baseball commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
Mr. Asinof spent nearly three years researching the book, including interviewing the two members of the team, Joe Jackson and Happy Feltsch, who were still alive. In the end, “Eight Men Out” was a book that made plain the connection between sport and money and between sport and the underworld. “Here is the underbelly of baseball vividly dissected,” said Fay Vincent, the former baseball commissioner.
In the Camelot of the Kennedy 1960s, the book also made plain, if only by inference, the unsavory potential in American culture, a theme that ran throughout Mr. Asinof’s work. Twenty-five years later, “Eight Men Out” was made into a popular film directed by John Sayles, with a script by Mr. Sayles and Mr. Asinof.
Eliot Tager Asinof was born in Manhattan on July 13, 1919, and he grew up in Manhattan and Cedarhurst, N.Y. His grandfather Morris, a Russian immigrant, was a tailor who eventually opened a men’s store in Manhattan.
Eliot’s father, Max, worked there, and when young Eliot went to work there as well, it was a tenet that he had to sew a suit before he would be allowed to sell one.
The dexterity he developed served him well. Mr. Asinof was an accomplished amateur pianist and sculptor. He was also a carpenter who in 1985, with his son, built the Ancramdale house he lived in for the rest of his life. He shot his age on a golf course for the first time at 79.
“He was really proud of that suit,” said his son, who lives in Tillamook, Ore. Mr. Asinof is also survived by a sister, Betty, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
After graduating from Swarthmore, Mr. Asinof played baseball briefly in the minor leagues — he was a first baseman in the Philadelphia Phillies’ organization — before he joined the Army. When he returned, his son said, the Phillies invited him to return, but he pulled a muscle during his first practice, and that was it for his sports career. He turned to writing.
He also had a gift for finding the company of other gifted people. A compact man with a gravelly voice and a New York accent, he was gregarious and shrewdly charming.
A friend, at various times in his life, of the violinist Yehudi Menuhin and Joe DiMaggio, Mr. Asinof was married once, to Jocelyn Brando, Marlon’s sister. Their marriage lasted five years, ending in divorce in 1955. They met, his son said, in 1949, while Marlon Brando was starring on Broadway in “A Streetcar Named Desire” and Jocelyn was starring in “Mister Roberts.”
“As I always heard the story,” Martin Asinof said, “my father was on a date with Rita Moreno, and the four of them met for dinner. And Brando took a shine to Rita Moreno, and they left together. And my father was there with my mother.”

Eliot Asinof And Shoeless Joe Jackson

Eliot Asinof passed away on June 11th. Here's some information I gathered on Joe Jackson whose memory Eliot helped reestablish
Read this document on Scribd: shoeless-asinof

Friday, June 27, 2008

Glory Of Their Times

from wikipedia
Lawrence S. Ritter (May 23, 1922 - February 15, 2004) was an American writer whose specialty was baseball. He wrote one of the most famous sports books of all time, The Glory of Their Times (1966, updated 1984). He collaborated with another baseball historian, Donald Honig, on The Image of Their Greatness (1979) and The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time (1981, featuring several players who would later be dropped in favor of new players on several later all-time greats lists). In researching The Glory of Their Times, Ritter travelled 75,000 miles to interview his subjects, sitting for hours listening to them tell their tales into his tape recorder. His most difficult "find" was Sam Crawford, who shared the outfield with Ty Cobb in Detroit. After being given only cryptic hints about where he might find Crawford, i.e., "drive between 175 and 225 miles north of Los Angeles", Crawford's wife told Ritter, "and you'll be warm". Ritter ended up in Baywood Park, California where his inquiries yielded nothing. After several days, he sat in a laundromat watching his clothes spin beside an old man. Ritter asked him if he knew anything about Sam Crawford, the old ball player. The man replied, "Well I should hope so. Bein' as I'm him." Ritter died at age 81 in New York City.

1908 Chicago Cubs Vs. New York Giants: Fred Merkle's Grandson's Web Site

Read this document on Scribd: Fred Merkle

1908 Chicago Cubs Vs. New York Giants: History

1908 Chicago Cubs Vs. New York Giants: Interview With Cait Murphy, Author Of Crazy 8

Read this document on Scribd: Crazy '08 - Cait Murphy

1908 Chicago Cubs Vs. New York Giants

KVers Bob and Marty joined me at the Tenement Museum in hearing Kevin Baker talk about his upcoming book on New York baseball. Here's a slide show to the tune Vive la Compagnie which was sometimes used to accompany the famous Franklin P. Adams' poem about Tinkers and Evers and Chance
These are the saddest of possible words:
"Tinker to Evers to Chance."
Trio of bear cubs, and fleeter than birds,
Tinker and Evers and Chance.
Ruthlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,
Making a Giant hit into a double --
Words that are heavy with nothing but trouble:
"Tinker to Evers to Chance.
* The term "gonfalon" refers to a flag or pennant, and Adams uses the phrase "pricking our gonfalon bubble" to describe the repeated success of the Chicago Cubs and their celebrated infield against their National League rivals, his beloved New York Giants.
About the poem
Myth and reality intersected a century ago at second base at West Side Grounds, the Chicago Cubs' pantheon in the early 1900s. The North Side chorus had for years hummed the praises of the heart of the National League terrors -- and then it was handed lyrics by a frustrated, short-winded New York reporter.
Franklin Pierce Adams' "Always In Good Humor" column in the New York Evening Mail ran short one mid-summer day. His editor, not a fan of white space, ordered him to fill it. So, on his way to the Polo Grounds, Adams jotted down a poem, his muses being the three thorns in the Cubs infield who eternally vexed his beloved New York Giants. Shortstop Joe Tinker. Second baseman Johnny Evers. First baseman Frank Chance. Certainly not the most prolific double-play combination in baseball history. However, the most creative, arguably. And the most famous -- that can't even be argued. The power of the poem: Adams' immortalizing words turned a trio of relatively modest ballplayers into Hall of Famers, and into the enduring icons of the Cubs' last World Series championship. Tinker, Evers and Chance first took the field together on Sept, 13, 1902. They collaborated on their first double play on Sept. 15, 1902. They last played together on April 12, 1912. From beginning point to end, they turned many a timely double, gladdened fans' hearts, broke opponents'. There is considerable confusion about the origins of Adams' epic 50 words -- the verse titled "Baseball's Sad Lexicon." Most references claim it first appeared in The Evening Mail on July 10, 1910, but others argue it surfaced between the covers of a 1912 collection of poems by Adams, "In Other Words."
However, there is no debate about the roles of Messrs. Tinker, Evers and Chance on the powerhouse Cubs of the turn of the last century, and thus their ranks in Cubs history.They are the Three Horsemen of this Apocalypse, the National League of 1906-1910.

1960 World Series: Game 7

This game has been in the news recently. I remember it well, especially the brilliant play Mantle made in the ninth inning.
Smith reflects on 1960 World Series By Jenifer Langosch /
PITTSBURGH -- On Tuesday, Bill Mazeroski will be at PNC Park, on hand to throw out the first pitch at 6:55 p.m. ET. Dick Groat will be there, too, as will fans who remember the 1960 World Series Championship Pirates team.
Hal Smith, on the other hand, expects to be in his living room, out in the heart of Texas, in a town of just over 3,000 people. It's the place that Smith has called home since 1962. He's living in Astros country, and admits that he has since adapted the Houston ballclub as his team as well.
The 77-year-old Smith doesn't get the opportunity to watch many Pirates games these days unless they are playing the Astros. And, no, he won't go watch a game in the stands anymore -- it's too crowded there, he says.
And even as Pittsburgh is rampant with anticipation about the Yankees' return to the city for the first time since the Pirates defeated the New York club in a Game 7 at Forbes Field on Oct. 13, 1960, Smith will be spending his evening at home, his day playing golf.
Apparently, the hype of the series hasn't reached the Texas border.
"I hadn't really given it much until I started getting all of these phone calls," Smith said of the buildup to this series.
It seems oddly fitting in a way, though, that Smith will be more than 1,000 miles away from a three-game series that fans in Pittsburgh have had circled on the calendar since schedules came out last October.
His name hasn't been sketched in World Series lore like that of Mazeroski, who hit the walk-off homer in the ninth inning of that Game 7 that gave the Pirates the 10-9 win. The clip of Smith's critical three-run homer in the eighth inning of that game rarely makes the baseball history highlight reel, a stark contrast to Mazeroski's shot.
However, as Pittsburgh fans take this week to reminisce about that '60 Series, if just for one day, Smith's contribution appropriately and deservingly comes to the surface once again.
Talking to him now, Smith still speaks proudly about that 1960 club, one made up of future Hall-of-Famers Roberto Clemente and Mazeroski. It was a veteran team, led by manager Danny Murtaugh, who was in his fourth year as the manager of the organization. The team won 95 games that season, finishing with a seven-game lead on the rest of the division.
"It seemed like every day it was a different hitter, or it was a different pitcher," said Smith, a 29-year-old catcher at the time. "It wasn't like one guy led this team. It was a team effort. They knew how to play ball."
Smith also vividly remembers the New York club that they were pitted against in the Series. It was a Yankees team made up of household names -- Roger Maris, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford. The list goes on and on.
It was a team that had won titles six times during the previous decade. They led the Majors that season with 97 wins.
However, Smith also had the scouting report. Having been drafted by the Yankees, Smith had spent five years playing in New York's Minor League system. He played with Maris in Kansas City and had caught most of the pitchers that the Yankees would be sending to the mound.
"They didn't scare me," Smith said. "They didn't scare our guys even though we knew how good they were. We thought we were a good solid team."
Still, the Yankees came into the Series heavy favorites.
"A lot of people around New York and Vegas didn't think we had a chance," Smith recalled. "But everyone around Pittsburgh sure did. And all around the country people were rooting for us. People love the underdog."
Though it's been nearly 48 years since that Series, Smith can recall game details -- and pitch sequences -- with amazing clarity.
He'll talk about how the Pirates were outscored 38-3 in losses in Games 2, 3 and 6. He'll boast about how his team was sure it was going to clinch in six games after taking the 3-2 series lead. He'll tell you about the RBI single Groat hit and the job Roy Face did in closing out three games.
And he'll tell you about his Game 7 at-bat.
Smith had watched the first seven innings of that game from the bench, as fellow catcher Smokey Burgess earned the starting nod. The Pirates took a quick 4-1 lead, only to see the Yankees score six times to take an imposing 7-4 lead into the bottom of the eighth.
Smith had come into the game in the top of the inning, after Burgess had been replaced by a pinch runner in the seventh. With two hits during the first six games of the Series, Smith hadn't exactly been the team's biggest offensive force up until that point.
With New York's Jim Coates on the mound, two teammates on base and the Pirate having already closed the deficit to one, Smith fell behind in the count 1-2.
"I missed a fastball," Smith recalled, referring to the second pitch in the at-bat. "I took a hard swing."
He'd get another try at the fastball two pitches later.
"I remember very well that when I hit it that it would be a home run," Smith said. "It wasn't until I rounded second base and saw the people standing up on the dugout and going crazy that I realized that this was something special. That's when it sunk in how big this was."
The home run gave the Pirates a 9-7 lead, one that they would need every bit of when the Yankees struck for two in the top of the ninth. And that's where the story gets familiar -- Mazeroski answered with the game-winning leadoff homer.
It clinched Pittsburgh's first World Championship since 1925. It also pushed Smith's eight-inning homer -- one that was set to be one of the greatest in the storied franchise's history -- out of the national spotlight, where it seems to have since stayed.
However, Smith insists that though outdone by Mazeroski, his contribution to that Series win has by no means been completely buried.
"It hasn't been forgotten by the people that know baseball," he said. "I still get letters where fans will tell me they never forgot my home run. One guy will tell me he was overseas, and another guy will tell me he took his radio with him to listen as he was going from class to class. I've had people write me who never even saw the home run, but who have heard stories told by their grandfather.
"I haven't been forgotten," he added. "I got all the attention that I needed."
Still, with the hype of this three-game series beginning Tuesday night swelling, it doesn't hurt to give him just a little bit more.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Here Comes Summer

I'm sick of the I Like NY in June label.
HERE COMES SUMMER, by Jerry Keller - 09/10/1959
1 week at #1 - 14 weeks on chart
Here comes summer
School is out, oh happy day
Here comes summer
I'm gonna grab my girl and run away
Here comes summer
We'll go swimming every day
Oh let the sun shine bright on my happy summer home
Well school's not so bad but the summer's better
Gives me more time to see my girl
Walk through the park beneath the shiny moon
Oh when we kiss she makes my flat top curl
It's summer
Feel her lips so close to mine
Here comes summer
When we meet our hearts entwine
It's the greatest
Let's have summer all the time
Oh let the sun shine bright on my happy summer home
Here comes summer (here comes summer)
Almost June, the sun is bright
Here comes summer (here comes summer)
Drive in movies every night
(Double feature) Double feature
Lots more time to hold her tight
So let the sun shine bright on my happy summer home
Well I'll want to hold my girl beside me
Sit by the lake till one or two
Go for a drive in the summer moonlight
Dream of her love the whole night through
It's summer she'll be with me every day
Here comes summer, meet the gang at Joe's cafe
If she's willing, we'll go steady right away
Oh let the sun shine bright on my happy summer home
(Oh let the sun shine bright) here comes summer time at last

Yankee Batting Stances


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

General Grant Square Panoramic Movie

Taken at the intersection of Rogers Avenue and St. Marks' Avenue. Not my best effort since by aiming my camera upward towards the statue I threw off the proper angling necessary to maximize the stitching effect

General Grant Statue Slide Show

from nycparks. I used the Lincoln Funeral March as a soundtrack. Many of the images come from the bridgeandtunnel club
ULYSSES S. GRANT, Grant Square
This large bronze equestrian statue by William Ordway Partridge (1861-1930) depicts Civil War General and 18th United States President Ulysses Simpson Grant (1822-1885). Though Grant’s reputation was tarnished after serving as President amidst one of the most corrupt administrations in the nation’s history, he is revered for his decisive action in bringing about the end of the Civil War.
Born on April 27, 1822 in Point Pleasant, Ohio, Grant distinguished himself as a frontier soldier and commanding officer in Missouri after the Civil War erupted in 1861. Selected by President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) in 1864 to succeed a series of failed Union generals, Grant deftly orchestrated the removal of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s (1807–1870) forces from Union soil and forced their surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia on April 9, 1865. After serving two terms as U.S. President (1868-76), Grant retired to New York City in 1884 and lived at 3 East 66th Street until his death in 1885.
The sculpture of Grant was commissioned by the Union Club of Brooklyn and unveiled on April 27, 1896, the 74th anniversary of his birth. Partridge depicts a determined Grant in his military outfit, including his signature wide-brimmed hat. The work is one of the first large-scale bronzes cast in the United States. Well known in his day, Partridge also sculpted statues of New York Governor Samuel Tilden on Riverside Drive, American Revolutionary Alexander Hamilton in Washington Heights, and a Pieta in the south ambulatory of Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The monument was conserved by the City in 1991. Grant is also depicted in relief on the eastern pier of Brooklyn’s Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch, and is interred in Grant’s Tomb, located in Riverside Park at 122nd Street and Riverside Drive.

General Grant Statue History 2

from the nytimes 4/28/1896
Read this document on Scribd: grant2

General Grant Statue History

from the New York Times of 3/22/1896
Read this document on Scribd: grant-statue

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I Like New York In June 13th: Windsor Terrace

The renovation of the former pet store revealed an old stained glass candy store sign at 216 Prospect Park West. I searched to get info on the store and found it on the Gowanus Lounge site
Yes, the new liquor-store owners are indeed keeping the stained glass! They are also buffing up the old tile floors and some other details inside, and told me they’re excited about the restoration.
I spoke with some old time locals about the place. It was called Wetter’s (sp.?) and run by a German-American family of the same name from circa late 1930s-early/mid ’60s. Your basic soda fountain scene that also served burgers and the like. The counter was on the right, booths on the left. It was most recently a pet food/supply store.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lara Logan

from crooks and liars
Stewart: Do you watch the news that we’re watching?
Logan: No
Stewart: …in the United States? Do you see what we’re hearing about the war? So, we might actually know everything?
Logan: If I were to watch the news that you hear in the United States—I’d just blow my brains out because it would drive me nuts.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wake Up Little Susie

from 50 years ago on the Patti Page Show in 1958.
Susie Essman from Curb Your Enthusiasm certainly doesn't need waking up
Wake up, little Susie, wake up
Wake up, little Susie, wake up
We’ve both been sound asleep, wake up, little Susie, and weep
The movie’s over, it’s four o’clock, and we’re in trouble deep
Wake up little Susie
Wake up little Susie, well
Whatta we gonna tell your mama
Whatta we gonna tell your pa
Whatta we gonna tell our friends when they say “ooh-la-la”
Wake up little Susie
Wake up little Susie, well
I told your mama that you’d be in by ten
Well Susie baby looks like we goofed again
Wake up little Susie
Wake up little Susie, we gotta go home
Wake up, little Susie, wake up
Wake up, little Susie, wake up
The movie wasn’t so hot, it didn’t have much of a plot
We fell asleep, our goose is cooked, our reputation is shot
Wake up little Susie
Wake up little Susie, well
Whatta we gonna tell your mama
Whatta we gonna tell your pa
Whatta we gonna tell our friends when they say “ooh-la-la”
Wake up little Susie
Wake up little Susie
Wake up little Susie

Monday, June 16, 2008

HBO Comedy Arts Festival: Susie Unloads

Maybe Susie won't be of any help in terms of anger management for Mayor Mike, but she could certainly help him get in touch with it.

Mad Mike

Elliot must be serving as Mike's AA (Anger Anonymous)sponsor.
According to the nypost
June 16, 2008 -- Mayor Bloomberg is a nasty, untrustworthy, tan trum-prone liar who "has little use" for average New Yorkers - like the 1,500 workers who would have lost their jobs had OTB closed, a furious Gov. Paterson has said privately.
"He appears to be self-destructing," the governor said.
According to a source with firsthand knowledge of Paterson's comments, the governor said that during talks last week on OTB's future, Bloomberg threw the same kind of bizarre tantrums that disgraced former Gov. Eliot Spitzer had been known for.
"He has the same kind of anger that reminds you of Spitzer," Paterson said. "I think he's starting to be concerned that he can't get anything done."
The governor charged that Bloomberg has repeatedly misrepresented the facts to the point that "you can't trust him."
The normally even-tempered Paterson leveled the explosive charges in private conversations this weekend after a bitter confrontation with the mayor on the pending state takeover of the New York City Off-Track Betting Corp., the source said.
The state agreed to take over the Big Apple's 60 OTB parlors, but the mayor then raised the stakes, insisting the city should continue to receive $18 million in surcharges on bets.
A last-minute compromise was reached yesterday.
The source quoted Paterson as saying of Bloomberg, "There's some kind of destabilization over there."
"His presidential thing didn't work out, term limits is looming to force him out, he's waiting and waiting to be asked to be vice president, congestion pricing didn't happen, he lost teacher tenure, the Jets stadium, and OTB isn't going the way he wants it."
Paterson compared Bloomberg to Spitzer, whose rages during private conversations became notorious before he resigned in March.
"Eliot Spitzer's tantrums were bizarre because you never knew when they were coming or why, whether it was contrived or whether he was a psycho," the governor said.
"With Bloomberg, you know why he's upset, but he has the same kind of anger that reminds you of Spitzer."
Paterson concluded Bloomberg's behavior will prove ruinous if - despite repeated claims that he's not interested - he runs for governor in 2010.
"It's obvious that Bloomberg has little use for the kind of people who come from Queens and Staten Island, so how is he going to approach the people of Oswego and Lewis counties and Buffalo?" he asked.
"The people of New York City may be OK with the mayor taking off and flying to his private home in Bermuda every weekend, but if he did that at the state level, I think the people would send him a different message."
Paterson's tirade against the mayor also extended to his staff and the City Council.
He told friends he believes Bloomberg, a billionaire, isn't getting honest advice from his staff "because they're all afraid of him and his wealth."
And he said council members have repeatedly refused to stand up to the mayor because "he's bought most of them off."
About the talks on OTB, Paterson said, "The public generally hasn't seen the nastiness and the outbursts that were seen during the past week."
"We have a very good example of a person who had no defects with the public, and, all of a sudden, he's self-destructing."
The governor charged that Bloomberg cruelly tried to use the city's 1,500 OTB workers to "extort" more and more money from the state during weeks of secret negotiations - and then lied to the public about the agreements that were reached.
Paterson claimed Bloomberg falsely insisted Friday that he didn't know the governor would hold a press conference to announce a state takeover of OTB - even though the mayor had been repeatedly told of the event.
"Mayor, do I have to list for you of all the people you told that you knew I was having that press conference?" Paterson said.
And the governor claimed it wasn't the first time Bloomberg had misrepresented the facts.
"There have been four or five incidents starting back in April, when the pope visited New York, where he's just said things that aren't true. It's very strange. You can't trust him," he said.
Paterson also told friends he was surprised at Bloomberg's seeming lack of political sense in the OTB battle.
"The mayor totally misplayed this," he said.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

When They Begin The Beguine

from brightlights film
Cole Porter wrote "Begin the Beguine" for the 1935 Broadway show Jubilee. It holds the curious distinction of being the longest popular song ever written. The tune was not really a hit until 1938, when clarinetist Artie Shaw recorded a swing version that swept the nation and can still be heard today.
The number begins in an ultra-languorous manner, with the sensuous and sultry Carmen D'Antonio undulating in harem garb as she sings (actually, she's being dubbed by Lois Hardnett). The camera backs away to reveal a chorus of harem girls, clad in silver costumes and dancing on a set that's all-black except for the occasional silver palm tree.
As D'Antonio/Hardnett works her way through the tempestuous lyrics ("What rapture divine, what passion serene", Powell makes her entrance, also wearing a harem outfit, including a bikini top that shows us just how small her bust was, something we really didn't need to know.
Powell does a number of high kicks to demonstrate her technique and then dances away from the chorus until she's alone on a bare stage made entirely of black glass, including the floor. A curious white shape appears behind her, the shrunken figure of a man. All of a sudden Fred enters stage left. It was his reflection that we were seeing.
Like Eleanor, Fred is seriously costume-challenged, wearing a Spanish outfit that features both sequins and tight pants, two things he definitely did not need. It's frustrating that they're both poorly dressed, because the number is excellent, essentially a near-endless series of turns snapped off with perfect precision. There's no real development or story, just the pleasure of watching two great performers executing an impossibly demanding routine without the slightest hesitation or error.
As they finally click off stage we think Broadway Melody has shot its bolt, but in fact things are just getting started. The Music Maids, four bouncing babes clad in Scottish plaid, come strutting out to usher in the swing version of the Beguine.
The music here is amazingly good, a clarinet and vibraphone lead that draws its inspiration from Benny Goodman rather than Artie Shaw. The girls get our motor running, and then out come Fred and Eleanor once more. They're changed costumes, fortunately (white on white to go with the all-black stage), and they're ready to push tap as far as it can go, including a cutting contest that is, as we say, smokin'.

Buddy Rich, Something Great

audio by the HiLo's
"around the corner" in 1930 he lived at 1977 E.27th Street in Brooklyn
Could be!
Who knows?
There's something due any day;
I will know right away,
Soon as it shows.
It may come cannonballing down through the sky,
Gleam in its eye,
Bright as a rose!
Who knows?
It's only just out of reach,
Down the block, on a beach,
Under a tree.
I got a feeling there's a miracle due,
Gonna come true,
Coming to me!
Could it be? Yes, it could.
Something's coming, something good,
If I can wait!
Something's coming, I don't know what it is,
But it is
Gonna be great!
With a click, with a shock,
Phone'll jingle, door'll knock,
Open the latch!
Something's coming, don't know when, but it's soon;
Catch the moon,
One-handed catch!
Around the corner,
Or whistling down the river,
Come on, deliver
To me!
Will it be? Yes, it will.
Maybe just by holding still,
It'll be there!
Come on, something, come on in, don't be shy,
Meet a guy,
Pull up a chair!
The air is humming,
And something great is coming!
Who knows?
It's only just out of reach,
Down the block, on a beach,
Maybe tonight

Something Came, Something Big

The great Buddy Rich. There'll never be another as great

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Something's Coming, Something Big

I haven't read anywhere that Jeremy Bleich is Jewish, but I think he might be. Can the Yankees have a Koufax some day.
an excerpt from the yankee site
Yanks pick Bleich sharp in CWS
Lefty solid for Stanford in Cardinal win at College World Series
By Kevin T. Czerwinski /
OMAHA -- When the Yankees used the 44th pick in last week's First-Year Player Draft on Stanford's Jeremy Bleich, there were naturally some who wondered whether the left-hander was worthy of such a lofty selection.
He did, after all, miss eight weeks this year with a strained ligament in his left elbow. Even before the injury, some pundits and pre-Draft gurus weren't certain that Bleich would go that high after having a mediocre 2007 season. Bleich, however, has continued to prove the naysayers wrong, doing so again on Saturday in the opening game of the College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium.
Though he didn't figure in the decision, Bleich threw five impressive innings, as the Cardinal upended Florida State, 16-5. He held the Seminoles scoreless through five, before allowing a home run to Dennis Guinn on his 89th and final pitch. Bleich scattered only six hits while striking out a season-high seven. Though he found himself in trouble every inning, most of which was of his own making, he was still able to extend his streak of not allowing an earned run to 25 2/3 innings before Guinn connected.
"You don't find many lefties with his velocity," Stanford coach Mark Marquess said. "I think people saw him at the Cape [Cod League] last summer and he came back and pitched well for us in the fall. He lit it up on the Cape and scouts saw that.
"There's no question he would have been a first-rounder but he hurt his elbow and was not pitching for eight weeks. Guys do their homework, though. You don't find lefties every day with that kind of arm. I think the Yankees know what they're doing."
What was most impressive was how Bleich, who was unavailable after the game, handled the vaunted FSU lineup. The Seminoles entered the CWS averaging 13.3 runs in their eight previous NCAA tournament games. But he continually kept them off balance, while holding down Giants top pick Buster Posey, considered by most to be college baseball's most dangerous hitter, in check, limiting him to a single in three at-bats.
"He was very impressive," FSU coach Mike Martin said. "He spotted his fastball very well."
"He got the crucial curveball when he needed it," Martin said. "That pitch against Buster Posey was his best curve of the day. He was faced with a challenge and he answered it."

I Like New York In June 12th: Prospect Heights, Celebrate Brooklyn

musical version by Lucy Ann Polk
below is the path traveled