You are browsing the archive for baseball.

Saturday Art: Influential Authors: John R. Tunis

4:05 am in Art, Culture, Influential Authors by dakine01

Brooklyn Dodgers: Cap Logo

Brooklyn Dodgers: Cap Logo

I was probably eleven years old when I was pointed towards John R. Tunis’s works. By this time, I had read all the Black Stallion books from Walter Farley and I had progressed beyond the simple, sanitized sports biographies and was looking for something a little more advanced. I can still picture the location of his books in the then public library in my hometown.

Here’s the intro from Tunis’s wiki:

John Roberts Tunis (December 7, 1889 – February 4, 1975), “the ‘inventor’ of the modern sports story”,[1]:11 was an American writer and broadcaster. Known for his juvenile sports novels, Tunis also wrote short stories and non-fiction, including a weekly sports column for the The New Yorker magazine. As a commentator Tunis was part of the first trans-Atlantic sports cast and the first broadcast of the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament to the United States.

I know the first Tunis book I read was The Kid From Tompkinsville which is the first of a series he wrote about a fictional Brooklyn Dodgers. Again from his wiki intro:

Tunis’ eight-book baseball series about the Brooklyn Dodgers began with The Kid from Tomkinsville, a book often cited by sports writers and commentators as inspiring childhood reading. Phillip Roth used The Kid from Tomkinsville and its main character Roy Tucker in his book American Pastoral. It is also considered an influence for Bernard Malamud’s The Natural and Mark Harris’ Bang the Drum Slowly.

Tunis did not just write about baseball. One of his books I remember reading was Silence Over Dunkerque. From the Goodreads.com synopsis:

John Tunis vividly imagines the drama of Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of Allied forces from Dunkerque. Sergeant Edward Williams of the Second Battalion was among the first British troops to land in France, just across the English Channel from his family in Dover, after the declaration of war in September of 1939. Battles have been few and far between since then, in what the Germans have been calling der Sitzkrieg—the sitting war. In May 1940, under the leadership of their new prime minister, Winston Churchill, the British are hoping to stem the tide of Nazi invasion along their southern border. But now, flanked to the east and west by German troops and cut off from the Allies further south, Sergeant Williams and his battalion must retreat to Dunkerque in the north, and escape by sea is their only hope.

As a person who reviewed this book at Goodreads says, historical fiction is a way to make history come alive and I remember having a bit more appreciation of the evacuation at Dunkerque after reading this book.

As with so many other influential authors in this series, Tunis had many accomplishments. A tennis player, he was involved in the first broadcast of Wimbledon to air in the US. A graduate of Harvard, he was not overly impressed with Harvard itself. Once again from wiki:

In 1936, on the 25th anniversary of his graduation from Harvard, Tunis wrote Was College Worthwhile?, a condemnation of the Ivy League school and of his classmates that became a best seller. Jerome Holtzman, in No Cheering in the Press Box, calls it “a searing assault on Harvard traditions”.[5]:261 Throughout his career he continued to write about education, including the chapter “New Leaven on the Campus” for Democracy’s Challenge to Education,[15] and “Education and Ethics” for the Journal of Higher Education.[16]

Tunis only shows one credit at IMDB as the author of a book that was used as the basis of the movie Hard, Fast, and Beautiful. Wiki says this movie was:

…a 1951 American drama film directed by Ida Lupino and starring Claire Trevor, loosely based on the 1930 novel American Girl by sports fiction author John R. Tunis, which itself was an unflattering and thinly-veiled fictionalization of tennis star Helen Wills Moody

And finally from wiki yet again on Tunis’s legacy:

By the 1970s Tunis felt his message had been ignored or misunderstood by most Americans, saying “Nobody has paid attention… There was a time when I expected to do some good. But that was a long while ago.”[5]:272 This may seem surprising considering that his New York Times obituary referred to him as a man who “helped educate a whole generation of Americans”.[12]:155 Perhaps seen in light of Tunis’ distrust of professional athletics, it can be understood. Though he may have felt his message against the commercialization of sports was ignored, there are those who cite Tunis as having made a lasting impact in publishing and to them personally and professionally.

…snip…

In his tribute to the writer, Bernard Hayes said “Tunis has probably made good readers of millions of young people.”[63]:7 His success with the juvenile audience helped change the publishing industry. Along with writers like Howard Pease, his books demonstrated to publishers that there was money to be made in targeting books for teenagers. His influence went beyond simply creating a market for young adult books. “In his attempt to link sports with the communities in which they are played, he broached some highly significant issues in the literature written for and about America’s youth”,[62] according to John S. Simmons in John R. Tunis and the Sports Novels for Adolescents: A Little Ahead of His Time. Tunis never considered himself a writer of boys’ books, insisting his stories could be read and enjoyed by adults. He felt that the word “juvenile” was an “odious… product of a merchandising age”.[1]:11 Despite his dislike of the term, Tunis’ novels helped create and shape the juvenile fiction book market.[

I am just one of the book lovers who benefited from his introduction to Tunis. I have to say that I am (pleasantly) surprised that Tunis’s catalog appears to have been mostly re-published within the last ten years, introducing new generations to his writing, even if it is from and about times no longer alive.
Read the rest of this entry →

Today Is Opening Day

10:36 am in Uncategorized by dakine01

PLAY BALL!

DoG but I think those two sets of words, Play Ball and Opening Day, are among the best two word combinations available to us in English. Even as we have to endure so much ongoing bad news from so many directions:

And on and on it goes.

Yet for all the bad things happening here and around the world, for me, just knowing that the Major League Baseball season is back in swing puts things back in focus somehow and even lessens some of the pain. It may all be in my head but Opening Day allows me to believe that somehow things can be made right once again. Innocence or naivete? Of course. Yet it matters. Baseball still manages to overcome bad owners be they Charley Comiskey, George Steinbrenner, Marge Schott, or Jeffrey Loria. Baseball overcame segregation and racism. It has overcome betting scandals and performance enhancing drugs. It easily ‘overcame’ the revelations in Ball Four! that players were voyeurs, drunks, cheats (some on the field, some on their wives), and drug users.

Baseball doesn’t have the set time to complete like basketball or football. Those nine innings might be completed in under two hours or might take four hours or more (with the latter more the norm these days.) It takes as long as it takes. A final score of 1 – 0 or 12 – 11 or 24 – 2. Each day is a new day, each season is abundant with hope.

So today, I have The Boston Red Sox against the New York Yankees on TV, Cincinnati has their parade and traditions, the game is on and GO REDS!

PLAY BALL!

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor

A Sign of Spring: Pitchers and Catchers Report

8:44 am in Culture by dakine01

I love Baseball and I hate cold weather. These are by no means the only reasons I currently reside in Florida, but they don’t hurt.

When I’ve lived in colder areas such as New England, Upstate New York, and the upper Midwest, the first sign of Spring for me was usually reading the magic words “Pitchers and Catchers Report.” As you can see from the link, nine of the thirty major league teams have pitchers and catchers reporting today (February 13, 2011), eight more report tomorrow (Valentine’s Day present!), three report on Tuesday, eight more on Wednesday, with the White Sox reporting on Thursday and the Marlins reporting on Friday. Most teams will have their first formal workouts the day after they report officially with position players reporting starting Friday, February 18 through Tuesday February 22.

Of course, the reality is, many players have already reported to Spring Training sites and begun unofficial workouts. Some of them are players coming off of season ending injuries or off season surgery. Others have changed teams in the off season and of course, there are the hopeful rookies and veterans hanging on by a thread hoping to make a good impression on their manager, coaches, and front offices.

The whole point of this is to remind folks that even though they may be shivering at the moment, waiting longingly for the arrival of the Vernal Equinox, the earliest signs of Spring are already here. So it’s time to look for your seed catalogs for your garden and/or flower beds, time to start planning your spring and summer activities.

Pitchers and Catchers report.

Don’t you feel just a small bit warmer already?

And because I can:

It’s Here!

6:19 am in Uncategorized by dakine01

Opening. Day.

S-i-g-h

The parade (pdf) begins at 10:30 Eastern.

ESPN is broadcasting the St Louis Cardinals from Cincinnati starting at 1PM EDT followed by Cubs at Braves at 4PM. ESPN2 has the Indians at the White Sox starting at 2 EDT followed by the Giants at the Astros at 7 Eastern and the Twins at the Angels at 10 Eastern.

And there was even an "Opening Night" game last night where the Red Sox came from behind to beat the Yankees at Fenway.

The NCAA Men’s Championship game is tonight with the Butler Bulldogs taking on the Duke Blue Devils. I happen to be a member of the ABD Club so will be backing the Bulldogs in their quest. My freshman year at Western Kentucky, we went to the Final Four so I have an inkling of how the folks at Butler are feeling right now. For what it’s worth, Butler winning would NOT be all that much of an upset. They ARE a good basketball team that has been ranked all year.

The NCAA Women’s championship game is set for tomorrow night with Stanford going against the UConn juggernaut.

Stanford is the last team to beat UConn back in the 2008 Final Four. The two matched up earlier this year with UConn winning 80 – 68 (the twelve point margin being the closest anyone has come to UConn this year).

In case you might have missed it, there will be a fairly big golf tournament this week down in Augusta, GA. Some fellow named Woods is supposed to be having a press conference this afternoon as well. Think maybe he’s still trying to hide a few things?

So here we are. Opening Day is here and the rhythm of the world is back. Those of us who love baseball may sometimes seem to be speaking in tongues but all we’re really doing is re-connecting to the things and ideals that first captured our hearts as kids. For myself, I can even give someone like George Will a bit of a pass. Yeah, I know, it is George Will but the man is consistent with his Cubbie love.

And because I can:

Opening Day Is Two Weeks Away!

8:54 am in Uncategorized by dakine01

Opening Day is two weeks away. The Grapefruit and Cactus leagues are in full swing. The non-roster invitees have had their spring moments and are now being sent to the minor league camps for reassignment. Most teams are finalizing their rosters, with a few position battles still up in the air. The starting pitchers are stretching out and getting their pitch counts up, new pitches are being perfected. Bull pens are being built, as the teams try to find that set-up guy or the leftie "situational pitcher," or a closer who can nail down those last three outs (with no thanks to Tony LaRussa who is always a candidate for Over-Manager of the Year).

As we count down until the Opening Day parade (with Johnny Bench as the Grand Marshall), March Madness is in full roar.

Thanks to Kansas losing, I’m down to two of my Final Four, although I still have five of my Elite Eight predictions still dancing, (though my South Region bracket is totally wiped out). Of course, this is all subject to how today’s games shake out so by nightfall, I may be much worse off. Thankfully my Kentucky Wildcats are so far playing about as well as they can. I am hopeful that they’ve learned (finally) how to keep the foot on the throttle and not let the other guys back into the game once the ‘Cats have ‘em down.

Watching the games the past three days has once again shown the biases and the "who knows" nature of trying to predict the tournament. You always have to pick the upsets, but deciding which upsets is the key. Plus knowing when to start picking the talent of the big guys to kick in. You Kansas fans are in mourning today but Kentucky fans know what you are feeling (since we felt pretty much the same in ’04 when we were the overall number one for the tournament and lost to UAB). The so-called "mid-majors" led this year by Butler, Northern Iowa, and St Mary’s are sending their usual "fuck you" notice to the pundits and prognosticators (although Butler as a five seed can’t really be said to be underrated this year). Just for the record I did pick Butler to go to the Final Four in their hometown of Indianapolis.

The NCAA Women’s Tournament kicked off yesterday as well. Their seeding held to form a lot better on the first day than the Men’s Tournament did. Of course, the biggest issue for the Women’s tournament is if anyone can get within 10 points of UConn, much less stop their steam rolling on to a second consecutive undefeated national championship.

So let’s talk a bit of roundball trash, whether baseball or basketball, makes me no never mind. We might even try to predict how much news will be thrown out in the trash on Good Friday. (With the Men’s and Women’s Final Fours, plus Opening Day and Easter Sunday all part of that weekend in two weeks, that will be a heavy load of trash to come.)

And because I can, here’s current Cincinnati Reds and former Boston Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo along with Red Sox GM Theo Epstein jamming at the end of this year’s Hot Stove Cool Music concert:

Opening Day is One Month Away!

9:56 am in Uncategorized by dakine01

Opening Day is exactly one month away (so long as you ignore that game on Sunday night between the Yankees and the Red Sox). The Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues are in full swing. The stories about the Spring phenoms have started as have the stories about players hoping to rebound from down years or returning from injuries.

March Madness is here as well. Cornell is the first to qualify for the NCAA Men’s Tournament. The final regular season men’s games are this weekend. My Kentucky Wildcats have their "Senior Day" tomorrow against Florida (although one of the "honorees" is Patrick Patterson who is only a junior but will be graduating in June – yes, a probable NBA lottery pick will have graduated in three years).

Freedom Hall in Louisville is most likely hosting it’s final basketball game today (assuming the Cardinals make it off the bubble and into the Dance) as Louisville hosts #1 Syracuse (doG but I hate writing that) this afternoon. Freedom Hall will remain but UL will be playing their games starting next year in a new arena. If you don’t know Freedom Hall’s basketball history, where ya been? It hosted six Final Fours from 1958 to 1969. It also hosted the Kentucky High School Basketball State Tournament (The Sweet Sixteen) 23 times over the years. Believe me when I say that the Sweet Sixteen is almost more important in Kentucky than the NCAA Tournament. For many Kentucky boys, hitting the game winning jump shot from the top of the key to win the state tournament is among the earliest and strongest of sports fantasies.

Smaller basketball conferences are in the middle of their conference tournaments this weekend, with many of them getting their only ESPN exposure of the year with their championship games. These are the conferences that provide the 13, 14, 15, and 16 seeds in the dance.

So in a month we will be in the middle of Final Four weekend. Opening Day is also that weekend as is Easter. With all that will be going on that weekend, any wagers as to how much News Where We’re Abused will be dumped on "Good Friday" in hopes that no one is paying attention?

Opening Day Is Six Weeks Away!

10:04 am in Uncategorized by dakine01

It’s true! Oh, I know some folks will tell you the six week clock started yesterday and that the opening day will actually be on Sunday Night, April 4, with a game between the Red Sox and the Yankees. But they can’t fool Cincinnati Reds fans. We know it really isn’t, truly Opening Day until after the parade.

As of this afternoon, all MLB teams will have had pitchers and catchers reporting with most having conducted workouts. Position players are also wandering into camps. It’s springtime and everyone is excited for this is OUR year to win once again.

That weekend in six weeks is going to be a busy one for a lot of the folks here in the US. Saturday will include the NCAA Men’s basketball national semi-finals from Indianapolis. The Men’s championship game will be played Monday night, April 5 (can Coach Cal keep the Wildcats on the hunt all the way?). Sunday is Easter Sunday, the game between the Yankees and Red Sox (at Fenway) and the NCAA Women’s Basketball semi-finals from San Antonio. The women’s championship game will be Tuesday night, April 6 (can anyone get within ten points of the Lady Huskies?)

Baseball heralds the spring which leads us to the summer. I could very easily go into some pseudo literary bit extolling the wonders of the sport, and it would be true. But all of that has been said by others with far more skill than I possess. So I’ll just leave you with this YouTube of Otis Redding:

Roberto Clemente Died 37 Years Ago

10:43 am in Uncategorized by dakine01

Roberto Clemente died thirty-seven years ago today. He was a sports hero who took on legitimate heroic proportions by his actions in dying while trying to bring aide to victims of an earthquake.

This rememberance at MSNBC is a good read.

And because I can: