At home at fenway

Keeping an eye on Chaim, Raffy & a few good books

Archive for June, 2012

OJ, Roger & Mike: Evil walks the Earth

Posted by athomeatfenway on June 19, 2012

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It’s always worth checking the program guide to see which of ESPN’s great 30-for-30 documentaries are being broadcast on a given day.  Who Killed the USFL and The House that George Built films are two of my favorites.  I like the former because it’s a David-Goliath struggle, and the latter because it shows how train-wreck George, narcissistic & deceptive, somehow maintained the love of most of the people he over paid.

The episode titled June 17, 1994 was on this past weekend and it brought back the horror of O.J. Simpson. 

It’s not all about O.J., though.  June 17, 1994 jumps to and fro among 6 historic news developments that day:  Arnold Palmer’s last U.S. Open, the kick-off of the FIFA World Cup in Chicago, the NY Rangers parading down Broadway with the Stanley Cup, Patrick Ewing futilely pursuing the NBA title, Donald Fehr going down the path that would lead to the cancellation of the World Series…and the slow motion chase of the white Bronco on the 415.

The documentary doesn’t take a clear stance for or against O.J..  It details his seemingly guilty behavior, and then moves onto the trial and public reaction.

A quick google around the internet reminds us of two defense strategies that kept O.J. from a murder conviction:  His lawyers got testimony thrown out that placed O.J. leaving the crime scene shortly after the murders.  They also rendered inadmissible the testimony of a cutlery salesman who said that 3 weeks before the murders he sold O.J. a 15” blade that matched the murder weapon.

In both cases, the testimony was barred because the witnesses appeared in print and on TV telling their stories.  One was paid $5,000 by Hard Copy.  The other received $12,000 from the National Enquirer.

A guilty man benefitted from his fame.

Never forget.


Now comes the news that Roger Clemens has been acquitted of lying to Congress.  Tim Kurkjian see this as a good time to repeat his HOF support for Clemens.

Tim isn’t alone.  The only problem with this is that Roger obviously did cheat.  Part of his defense was that it was his wife that did the steroids, not him.  How inexcusably transparent ! 

Also, the physical changes Roger went through, his on field rage, and his improved performance as he aged all belie his statements.

The HOF requires that a player be a good sportsman.  And though Ty Cobb, Ban Johnson and Kenesaw M. Landis are not good sports (racists), that’s no reason to induct Roger.  25 wrongs do not make a right.

So today we have the final verdict.  The lawmakers have collected their autographs.  The prosecution delivered one mistrial.  The Jury chose not to send one very flawed pitcher to jail just even though his narcissism and greed obviously pushed him to cheat & subsequently lie.

Another guilty man benefitted from his fame.


Mike Tyson will appear at a sports card show in August.  For just $129 you can have your photo taken with Kid Dynamite.  And, $139 to sign your magazine, $149 to sign your large poster, $199 to sign your glove, and $249 to sign your original artwork, should you own any of him.

I’m not sure my Mom would like me collecting the autograph of an ear-eating convicted rapist.

One more time.  Another guilty man benefitted from his fame.


One last and incredible note on the life of O.J..

O.J.’s dysfunction may be firmly rooted in childhood.  While reading And the Band Played On a few years ago, I learned that OJ’s Dad left his family when the future HOF’er was a babe.  Daddy Simpson split for San Francisco where he came out and became a well established drag queen named Jimmy Lee.  He died of AIDS in 1986.  Not a Brady Bunch upbringing, but perhaps one factor that led O.J. to a criminal life when he was young.

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Stark Facts about Big Papi & Johnny Damon

Posted by athomeatfenway on June 18, 2012

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BIG PAPI & THE AGE OF THE PITCHER:  The large father is a well-rounded hitter in 2012, batting .306 B.A., with 15 HR’s and 41 RBI in 64 games.  He is tracking to match his final 2011 numbers of .309, 29 and 96.  So, if the rest of Baseball’s hitters have been declining, why has David maintained his hitting prowess?

If you have not heard that we are living in the new Years of the Pitcher, you should read Jayson Stark’s recent essay, The Age of The Pitcher, which you can find here:

Stark provides the stats to show that a 6 year decline exists in HR’s and Runs-scored since the 50 game penalty for steroid use came into being.  Current amphetamine testing is also having an impact.  More young pitchers reach MLB with a 95 mph fastball, and an increasing percentage of first pitch change-ups are being tossed.  All of these factors confuse and constrain the already steroid-free batters.

Buster Olney and Stark chewed on this subject on-air yesterday.  Stark quoted David Ortiz as saying that he is frustrated by more and more hard throwers who keep the ball out of the strike zone and also mix in offspeed pitches, with Justin Verlander being a prime example.

So why has David actually looked more consistent, if less powerful, in recent years?  Could be that he is slimmer.  Could be that he is older and wiser.  But shouldn’t his aging bat be slowing down?

With or without his use of magic milkshakes, David has always been a very good hitter, capable of protecting the plate and getting a good pitch to hit.

As Bobby Valentine said in Hartford while appearing in November 2011 at the World Affairs Council, “It’s easy to pay one person to be your dedicated DH instead of doing it by committee when you have as good a hitter as David Ortiz to do the job.”

Couldn’t agree more.  Papi will sniff out the change-up.  He doesn’t freeze on the outside curve.  He can hit a 95 mph heater.  The hole in his swing (lower inside quadrant) seems to be gone.  And yes, he swings better without the 25 pounds he dropped.

The man is an inspiration.

Think I’ll start my diet right now. 

NO HALL FOR JOHNNIE:  There are JUST 3 players with 3,000 hits who will never be in the HOF:  Pete Rose, Craig Biggio and Rafael Palmeiro.  Gambling and steroid-use will keep those three out of Cooperstown.  But if your reputation is clean like Johnnie Damon, and you have 2,723 hits at age 37, and you just collected 152 hits for Tampa in 2011, you have a clear path to the HOF to pursue. 

Johnny needed only to produce in 2012 & 2013 as he did in 2011 to finish with 3,047 hits.  Ticket punched.

It is not to be.  The Rays went with 33-year-old Luke Scott at DH instead of Damon.  Scott is now  batting .220 with 9 HR and 35 RBI in 2012.  Scott is pacing below Johnnie’s 2011 performance of .261 BA, 19 HR and 73 RBI, 19 SB, 79 Runs and 29 doubles.

After Tampa did not re-sign him, Johnnie hunted for a job throughout the winter.  No one wanted him.  Finally, in May, Cleveland picked him up for $1.2 million annually, $4 million less than Tampa paid him last year.  $4 million less than Luke Scott is making this year.

As of June 15, Johnnie is batting .180 with 20 hits.

It is sad that Johnnie didn’t get his chance to stick with one team at the end of his career.    I’ll always remember him as a dangerous man at the plate, a fleet base runner, an able centerfielder, and a great teammate who happily took the media heat in the clubhouse. 

Johnnie certainly had enough talent to reach the HOF.   He’ll miss by a smidge.

Go Sox.

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Baseball Roundup: Boring Sox, Rocking Nats & Farting in Church

Posted by athomeatfenway on June 15, 2012

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SIGN OF THE TIMES:  The Marlins put a e-blast out to ticket-alert customers about a 50% off ticket deal for the last game of the Red Sox series on June 13.  Not only do the Marlins’ bolstered roster and lovely new stadium not fill the stands, but the Red Sox, able to pull huge crowds everywhere for the last 7 or 8 years, don’t seem to sell too well there, either. 

BEWARE, YANKEE FANS.  The Bronx Butt Heads play a 3-game set at Nationals Park against the squad with the (almost) best record in Baseball.  The Nats are 38 – 23, a whisker below the Dodgers 40 – 24 status.  Hughes vs. Gonzalez.  Pettite vs. Zimmerman.  And Nova vs. Jackson.  GG, Zimmy and EJ have recently gone an average of 7 IP’s while allowing under 3 runs.  The Yankee bats had better not cool off or  Nats fans will be getting out their brooms on Sunday night.  Just like they did in Boston last week.


WINNER, WINNER, GET YOUR OWN DINNER.  Longtime Sox fan, co-worker, Johnny V., is not too excited about heading to Fenway this summer.  Johnny is a 50-something fan that cherishes his photo of Johnny Pesky, worships Yaz, Rice & Lynn, and himself batted .375 for Pittsfield High School.  Red Sox baseball is in his D.N.A..  But he sold his 4 tickets to the Sox-Yankees game in July.  Seems his family is not too interested in our Mediocre Sox, and thus, neither is he.  The Sox are not Winners anymore.  They are former Winners.  Feel the indifference.


THE PRIDE OF ITALY FARTS IN CHURCH.  (beat.)  Sorry.  I know how vulgar that sounds.  I wanted to write THE PRIDE OF ITALY SHITS THE BED.  Something like that…..something dramatic.  You get the idea.  Some to really punctuate how Gene Auriemma has tarnished his permanent record. 


My 82-year-old Italian father takes great pride in all of Geno’s accomplishments.  My Dad is from an era in which Italians trusted Italians, liked Italians, took great pride in the accomplishments of other Italians.  Recent news about alleged misconduct by Geno has raised many an old Italian eyebrow.


If you don’t know, a woman has filed a discrimination suit against the NBA.  In part, the suit accuses Geno of first asking the woman to bed, and subsequently demanding that she be penalized by the NBA because she rejected him. 


Of course, my Dad thinks the woman, Kelley Hardwick, is full of poop.  He thinks this is a money play.  However, if you read John Altavilla’s column today, you would know that Ms. Hardwick is not after a quick payday.  You can read the column here:


No, Ms. Hardwick is going after the female-hating NBA at large, and she is taking Geno down with the League to attract attention.  If she was just after the bucks, this would have been settled before it was made public.





COOPERSTOWN ON THE HORIZON.  In case you hadn’t heard, two fine players will be inducted on Sunday July 22 in the old village by the lake.  Barry Larkin, a National leaguer who I did not see play much, will be enshrined after earning 86% of the vote in his 3rd year of eligibility.  While I wasn’t watching he won 9 silver sluggers, 1 MVP, 3 Gold Gloves, was selected for 12 All Star Games, and posted .295 BA, 198 HR, 960 RBI with 379 SB over 19 years at shortstop with the Reds.  He might have won another 7 Gold Gloves had Ozzie Smith not locked them up through Larkin’s 7th year in the Bigs.


Another man about who I know little is being inducted, the venerated Ron Santo.  No Chicago icon is more beloved.  Beginning in 1960, he anchored the Cubs batting order and infield for 14 years.  Then, from 1980 to 2010, he came into Chicagoland homes 162 times per year as a Cubs broadcaster.


Were that constancy not enough to cement a place in the hearts of Midwesterners, Ron Santo’s contributions on the field laid the foundation of the job.  Ronny included a .277 BA, 342 HR, 1331 RBI, 5 Gold Gloves and 9 All Star Games appearances.


When Cub fans think of Santo, they could rightly remember him in 1964, when he fielded everything hit to third base, won his first Gold Glove, batted .313, poled 30 dingers, drove in 113 runs, hit 13 triples, 33 doubles, and led the NL in BB, Assists, Put Outs and Double Plays.


If you are within a 5 hour drive from Cooperstown do not miss this induction.  Make it to the great lawn with your accordion chairs and cocktails.  All 30 nationalities in the Baseball World will be gloriously present, but Cub nation is sure to be there in force to give Ron Santo the loving welcome he deserves.



Go Sox.

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A blurb or two about ‘Fire’ Trucks

Posted by athomeatfenway on June 12, 2012


There were several quick-read publications in the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s.  A magazine named Quick is the most memorable for many people.  But there were others.




I came across a 16 page booklet called Sports Shorts, sponsored by apparel maker Croll & Keck.  Published in June 1939.   Stanley B. Frank, Editor.  I had never seen it before.




Sports Shorts opens with 6 quick blurbs.  One is about how the Chicago Cubs signed a 12-year-old New York kid, Charley ‘Red’ Solomon.  And how the Boston Bruins bested that by signing 5-year-old Donald Clapper.  Red and Donald are not listed in the majors or minor leagues of Baseball and Hockey on    Only Donald’s Dad, Dit Clapper, the 20 year Bruins veteran defenseman and Hall of Famer, is listed.




Thus, some blurbs portend nothing.  Then again…….




There is one prescient blurb on the page.




“It was only in the Alabama-Florida League, of course, but 19-year-old Virgil ‘Fire’ Trucks gave the boys an all-time strikeout record to shoot at last year.  Pitching for Andalusia, Ala., Trucks fanned 418 batters in 273 innings – or more than 15 a game !  Among other things, Trucks pitched two no-hitters, scored 12 shutouts and won 25 games while losing 6.”




418 is a nice number.  It’s not the biggest.  Matt Kilroy of 1886 Orioles had 513 strikeouts.  Still, 418 is killer, and Trucks’ K/IP ratio of 1.53 is other worldly.


As auspicious as Mr. Trucks’ professional beginning seemed, he did not become a Cy Young winner or a Hall of Famer.  He was a very effective starter.  He completed a 17 year MLB career with a 177 – 135 record, led the league in shutouts and K’s once each, was a 2x All Star, a 3.39 career ERA, giving the majority of those years to the Tigers.




When he no-hit the Yankees in 1952, he joined Johnny Vandermeer and Allie Reynolds as the only pitchers to throw two no-no’s in one season.  (They were joined in 1973 by Nolan Ryan.)




Trucks served 2 years in the military during  WWII, rejoining the Tigers just in time to be inserted on the roster for the 1945 World Series.  Trucks started 2 Series games, getting a W, and registering a 3.38 ERA, similar to his career ERA.




He played for some bad Tigers teams after the ’45 World Series.  Run support was frequently woeful.  He was traded to the Browns and White Sox as a starter.  He was signed by the A’s and the Yankees to work out of the bullpen.  By the time he hung it up at age 42, he could still pitch but he just didn’t have the interest in playing any more.  He was done.




Done — except for one little barnstorming foray in 1960 at age 43.  Trucks and his old Browns teammate, Satchel Paige, signed on to be opposing starters in a tour of Cuban All Stars.  The tour started in Kansas and headed for Mexico.  All went well until the promoters failed to pay Trucks and Paige, causing them to leave the team.  Soon thereafter, the Castro revolution broke out and the Cubans departed for their island home, too.






The ever succeeding Mr. Trucks continues to succeed today.  The 95-year-old resides in Calera, Alabama with his 4th wife.




He may not have won a CY, but he surely is durable.




Go Sox.






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Fenway Perfection: Dice K, a nap & Evil

Posted by athomeatfenway on June 11, 2012

It was the 744th consecutive sell-out, tying the Portland Trailblazers.  Ho-hum

The Mediocre Sox featured a 29 – 30 WL record.  Zzzzz.

The repurposed-player outfield consisted of Daniel Nava/LF, Darnell McDonald/CF, and Adrian Gonzalez/RF.  Snoooore.

Still, it was a special day because Daisuke Matsuzaka was making his first MLB start in over a year.

That is what got the crowd excited.  Asian kids in grandstand 2 held up Japanese pictographic signs, which no doubt offered words of support to the Interminable One.  They screamed for him as he began to run warm ups under sunny skies in front of the bullpens.

Last we saw of Daisuke, he yielded 7 BB and 5 hits in 4 1/3 IP’s to the Orioles on May 16, 2011.  The Sox beat Baltimore at Fenway that day, 8 – 7, coming back from a 6 – 0 deficit, capped by a 2 run double by Gonzalez.

The 5-16-11 wrap-up was all about the offense.  Nary a word was written about the pitcher who would soon be lost from the rotation.  Except for one thing:  Terry Francona did say that Dice K did not look like he was allowing his arm to become fully extended, and that was something about which he needed to speak with the pitcher to find out what was happening.

390 days later, he was back and not too shabby looking either.  He went 5 innings.  He K’d 5 of the first 9 he faced, 3 of them swinging.  The guy got 15 outs and 8 of them were strikeouts.  EIGHT !

That’s damn good.  And that little 3-run Washington rally in 4th was cheaply fueled by a BB, 2 singles and a ground rule double.

I was the Dude who in March said that Doubront would contribute this year.  So, hear me now and smell me later, as Hans and Fritz often said.  Matsuzaka will contribute much more than expected in 2012.  He’ll be a solid #5.  And uncharacteristically efficient.  Watch.


The sweet sunshine of June is upon us.  These are blessed days at Fenway Park.  Even the blaring of Celtic Rock through the P.A. system cannot strip away the bliss found in the 9th row of bleacher 43, with feet kicked back and cool breeze touching the tanning skin of our faces.

No half-assed nimrod bleacher creature fool was taunting the Nats’ 19-year-old rightfielder, Bryce Harper.  No leather lunged cretin was screaming Yankees Suck on this fine day.  No snake muscled hot dog vendor knelt for an extra long period of time before us, blocking our view at a critical moment.

For long stretches, I relaxed in my seat, my arm cuddled around Little Lee, the light of my life.  The curvey one.  We basked in the warmth of the sun and the mild mannered crowd.

It was, again I say, a divine day at Fenway.  Perfect to play.  Perfect to watch.  This is God’s blessing to the Nation.  The perfect little park on the perfect day.  Amen.

Somewhere around the 6th inning, I fell asleep sitting up.  I had been whisked away to dreamland by the gentle breezes and sunshine.  Then, abruptly, I felt something was near me, the heat of another creature.  I opened my eyes and there before me was the hand of my neighbor clutching two over-priced but ice cold bottles of water.  My snooze had monkey wrenched a retail transaction.  Little Lee had left my side to shop with daughter #3 and my sister.

I snapped out of it.  Passed the Bottles.  Passed the money back.  And I was back in the living world.

A good day at Fenway can include a little nap, too.


My brother , Ben quizzed two Nationals fans on the T out of town.  Ben was adorned in a non-descript soft fabric baseball cap, sans team logo.  The Nats boyz were decked in bright crimson Nationals jersey T’s.  They were polite and low key.  Were they taking the Nats 4-2 victory with humility, you ask ?  Oh, no.  Not at all.  They were wolves in sheep’s clothing, laying low and under the radar for their own safety.  Ben quizzed them until they admitted they were Yankee Fans.  Red Sox H-A-T-I-N-G Yankee fans.  They disguised themselves so they could root openly against the Sox inside Fenway without attracting special attention.  And worse.

The evil ones, as always, were present. 

Beware children of the Nation.

Go Sox.

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10 things to like about May, Soxaholics

Posted by athomeatfenway on June 2, 2012

Nava’s .774 OBP lit the Red Sox offense in early May

Here are 10 things for Sox fans to like about May

-I like how David Ortiz suddenly thought he was Rickey Henderson twice in 3 days this past week, and getting thrown out both times.  He was first thrown out stretching a double into a triple, the throw getting there so far ahead of David that he did not bother to slide.  And second, thrown out trying to get back to the base after stumbling around first on what should have been a stand-up double.  In both cases, he drove in a run, ended the inning, and limited a rally.  But the Sox won both games.

-I like how Scott Podsednik, who last played in MLB on 9-9-10 is now seen running down balls in Fenway’s Centerfield, his red stockings showing all the way up to the knee in Trot Nixon style.   Scott is busting it going down the line, flashing speed and hustle.  The 36 year old veteran has, as of this writing, matching .444 OBP and .444 BA for the Sox.  Nice come back, Scott.

-And as I write this late on June 1, here is Johann Santana, striking out David Freese with a curve in the dirt to record the first no-no in the 51 years of New York Mets history.  Ryan, Seaver, Gooden and Cone didn’t do it.  Johann did.  I like that, too.

 -Josh Beckett, responding after an atrocious outing on May 10 by winning his next 3 starts. He allowed just 3 ER in the 21 and 1/3rd IP that followed.  The guy has 7 (seven) A+ outings this year.  Do you hear all the crabbing about Josh now?  No, I don’t either.  Like it.

-On March 14, I wrote that Felix Doubront would be a contributor after he threw 4 shutout innings at the Yankees.  He’s been the best starter on the staff, leading it in wins, ERA and strike outs.  Douby projects to 15 -6, 166 IP and 178 K’s.  Looks like we can trust this 24-year-old Venenzuelan to deliver 6 good innings per start from the 4 slot.

– I like the arrival of Will Middlebrooks, who is hitting .316 with 6 home runs in his first 99 plate appearances.  He hit a true laser into the Monster on May 30 off Drew Smyly that left Fenway as quickly as any ball I have seen do so.

-I like the impending departure of Kevin Youkilis, made expendable by his own lack of durability and Middlebrooks’ emergence.  Let’s hope this doesn’t turn out like when the Sox let Wade Boggs drift away because they thought Scott Cooper was the future.

-I like that the Sox lost their first 5 games, and 8 of the first 9 in May, and STILL won more than they lost in for the month. 

-I like a crazy patchwork outfield of Nava, Sweeney and Podsednik, while Crawford, Ross and Ellsbury are on the DL collecting their combined $30 Million in annual salary.

-And I like that Salty is batting .286 with 10 HR’s in 136 plate appearances while carrying the mail behind the plate.  The big kid from West Palm is having a breakthrough year.

I can’t wait for June.

Go Sox.

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Racism, Radio & Baseball

Posted by athomeatfenway on June 1, 2012

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As I said in previous posts, one finds Baseball embedded in unlikely and surprising places.


I was in an Antiques Co-op scanning book spines when my eyes fell upon an orange colored hardcover titled, All about Amos & Andy and their Creators, Correll & Gosden.


Year of Publication:  1929.


Amos & Andy was a situation comedy set in the African American community that was hugely successful first on Radio in the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s, and later on TV in the early 50’s.


Two Caucasian men, Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll, played Amos & Andy, putting on blackface and affecting an African American period dialect.  Andy is the smart one.  He is the President of the Fresh Air Cab Company.  Andy is too lazy to even bait his own hook when fishing.  He persuades his less astute sidekick, Amos, to do the baiting as well as any other dirty work that needs be done.


“Crude, repetitious and moronic” was how the Pittsburgh Courier described Correll & Gosden’s portrayal of African Americans in a 1930 denunciation of the show.  At the time, The Courier was the largest circulation African American newspaper in the U.S..


 I expected this book to be offensive.  I saw photos, dialogue and text that exemplified how dumb, dishonest, greedy, uneducated and inarticulate these black folk were.


Meanwhile, Gosden & Correll are shown to be collegial, creative, hardworking, talented and even kind to black people.


“I am disgusted!” comes out of Amos as “I’se regusted !”  “Multiplying and dividing” is “Muslyfyin and reviden” when Andy says it.


Amos and Andy were a couple of dum dums.  So dumb they were hilarious to the superior white folks who accepted the stereotype.


When I turned to page 76 I found a sepia toned photo of Correll & Gosden, sans black face, surrounded by Ray Schalk and 8 uniformed members of the 1927 White Sox.  They were entertaining Schalk and the boys with tales of a recent Southern performance tour. 


I wondered what the connection could be between these performers and MLB.  Could they have been part owners of a team at one time ?  Or a minor league team ?  Or just enormous White Sox fans who made sure this photo was included ?


I searched the web, the NY Times archives, even Google Images for any documented connection between MLB and Correll and Gosden.


In the end, I found no connection whatsoever.  Until I do, I’ll presume that Amos & Andy were just associating their brand with the wildly popular sport of Baseball, just like Charlie Sheen in a photo op at Yankee Stadium.



In 1929, MLB likely didn’t mind the association with these performers of openly racist entertainment.


In 1912, Ty Cobb was suspended for beating a fan in the stands who had called him a “half-n****r”.  Cobb said he would not take that from any man.  He was quickly reinstated after his teammates didn’t show up for the next game in protest over Cobb’s treatment.


Leigh Montville’s fine book on Babe Ruth states that the Babe had to live with taunts about his heritage, frequently referred to by opposing players as “N****r Lips.” 


When you really wanted to insult a man to throw him off his game 90 years ago, you used the N word.


It was all cool in that day and age.


So Radio and Print weren’t the only part of American society that viewed African Americans as second class citizens in 1929 — 18 years before Jackie Robinson was allowed to play in a MLB game.


Amos & Andy fit into American Society right next to Baseball.  It was a perfect.  America loved all-white Baseball just as it loved Amos & Andy, who could be heard 6 nights a week all year long.


Racism.  Baseball.  Radio.  Publishing.  It all went together.


What our grandparents regarded as normal can be thought of as an abomination today.


But Racism has not been abolished.  You will hear it spoken aloud if you listen.  I have.


It is just spoken more quietly and by fewer people than in Correll & Gosden’s times.


Go Sox !


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Next time life bites, think of Zamperini

Posted by athomeatfenway on June 1, 2012

I felt fine when I went to sleep last night.  But I must have inhaled a pound of goldenrod yesterday because I woke up today with the impossible to miss signs of early stage bronchitis.  My post nasal had been dripping all night.  It felt like swallowing a swallow (or anything the size of a small boney bird) every time I took a slug of morning joe.

Aside from the sore throat, and a worn throaty speaking voice, I felt wiped out.  I felt like I had slept 2 hours when I had actually slept almost 7.

I decided it would be smart to take a sick day.  Nip this thing right in the bud.  Stay home, watch movies, eat popcorn, and heal up.

Such thoughts made me smile ear to ear.

And then I thought about Louie Zamperini.

Louie grew up a poor little thief in Torrance, California.  He constantly stole food, bikes, money, anything.  He ran away so fast with the booty that he could not be caught.  After flunking his way into the 10th grade, he began to run track.  By the time he was 20, he had broken every amateur miler record in the books and run the 1500 meters in the 1936 Olympics in Munich.

By 1946, he had been shot down in a B-24 over the Pacific, been marooned on a raft at sea for 47 days, and been interred in a series of Japanese P.O.W. camps over 3 years.  He was constantly tortured, denigrated, forced to haul fece, do push ups in fece, and live in fece.  He dropped 70 pounds.  Finally, he was allowed to soar on the wings of liberation just 7 days before he was to be executed with every other P.O.W. held in the waning days of WWII.

By 1952, Louis had staggered through years of despair.  He was fleeced in a series of sham investments, been married to a special woman but never felt psychologically well enough to make the marriage work.  By then he had also met Billy Graham.  The preacher helped Louie find peace, and the love to forgive the men who cut him, kicked him and punched him in the face every day for 3 years.  

I choked back tears when I read how Louie felt when the prison guards ran away from the prison in August of 1945, leaving the emaciated Allied GI’s free to watch American pilots tossing provisions from the sky into the prison yard.  I welled up again when Louie found withheld mail containing family photos, beloved that he had not seen in 5 years.  The Japanese had denied him his life, his family, and his dignity.

With all of that in mind, I thought, shoot, I can go to work.  If Zamperini could be knocked down 10,000 times and come up standing with feces and blood about him, how could I ever complain about the comparatively small problems that I endure?

Louis is 95 years old now.  I hope he lives long enough to see a movie made about his life, as was documented in Laura Hillenbrand’s acclaimed best selling book, Unbroken.  Universal bought the option last year.

Louie’s life is a testament to how much a person can endure, and how even the most heinous crimes can be forgiven by its victims.


Go Sox.

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