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16 Responses to “Hello world!”

  1. Tim Gay Says:

    Well, let me kick things off by acknowledging the work above and beyond the call of duty of our niece, Laura House Crawford, who (or is it “whom”?, I can never keep that straight) out of the goodness of her heart put this website together. . . .

  2. Mark Donick Says:

    Tim, can’t wait for the new book! Never saw you at a loss for grammer before.. Good luck with the website and blog…

  3. Timothy M. Gay Says:

    Good to hear from you, Mark. You’re the first member of the Satch blognoscenti. Mark is an old (emphasis on old) and dear friend who practices dentistry back home in Warren, PA. Fortunately for Mark, spelling (it’s “g-r-a-m-m-a-r,” ace – somewhere the nuns who taught you at St. Joe’s Elementary are cringing) doesn’t count when you’re asking people to rinse and spit.

    Really appreciate it, pal. Beers on me next time.

  4. Timothy M. Gay Says:

    And since I mentioned our hometown, Warren, PA, I should point out that some very cool Negro Leagues barnstorming took place there in the ’30s and ’40s. Bob Peterson, the great (and sadly late) journalist and historian whose book Only the Ball Was White triggered renewed interest in black baseball, grew up in Warren, graduating Warren High in ’43. As I write in the Author’s Note, Bob was a good enough catcher to have played against Josh Gibson and the Grays when they barnstormed through town. He witnessed a titanic home run that Josh hit at old Russell Field on the East Side of town. That moment sparked Bob’s lifelong passion for blackball. His various writings and taped interviews with Negro Leagues icons, now housed in Cooperstown, were invaluable in my research. Mrs. Peg Peterson and kids Tom and Margie were terrific. . . .

  5. S Says:

    “I’ll start off with this provocative phrase, “It’s over — yes Steve, it’s over.” Our hopes and fantasies and dreams have now vanished into an eternal horizon of nothingness. I have nothing more to say. Thank you.”

  6. Timothy M. Gay Says:

    “S” is also an old (underscore old) Warren-ite and a devotee of The Great One, Roberto Clemente. “Bobby,” as he was branded by the Pirates’ redneck broadcasting crew back in the late ’50s, never played in the Negro Leagues. But he was subjected to more than his share of bigotry – not only in the Deep South during spring training but in a blue collar city that didn’t always appreciate his genius. But 125 miles upriver on the Allegheny, “S” did. So did the future Dr. Mark. If you haven’t read David Maraniss’ beautiful book on Roberto, please do. Which reminds me – I’ve got to find that 2006 tribute I did to Roberto in the Post-Gazette and post it on this site. . .

    And I should have mentioned in my earlier post that Satchel Paige never played in Warren to the best of my knowledge. He did play in Jamestown, NY (20 miles north; home of the dreaded Red Raiders of Jamestown High) at some point in the late ’50s – well after the heyday of interracial ball.

    That insipid phrase that “S” referenced above? If memory serves, that was my inscription to “S” in the 1972 Warren Area High yearbook. “Eternal horizon of nothingness”? My god, I should have been shot. Thanks, “S.”

  7. Stephen Says:

    That was indeed your inscription in my ’72 yearbook. I always liked it. Indeed, I remember it.

    Roberto Clemente was one of the best and least understood baseball players ever. Partly because of his language problems, partly because he appeared to be a hypochondriac, the media acknowledged him but never put him in the same ranks as Mays and Aaron. Indeed when they got hit 3000, both were put on the cover of SI. When Clemente got 3000 he barely got a few paragraphs inside SI.

    But, he was an absolutely beautiful player. 317 lifetime (with .834 slugging percentage with men on base). A golden glove winner for 12 consecutive years. An arm like no other and a grace in the field like never before or after. He made me and kept me a pirates fan. He was indeed a great one. The greatest.

  8. Timothy M. Gay Says:

    Geez, “S,” I can’t find a link to the Post-Gazette piece, which ran on the Sunday before the ’06 all-star game at PNC Park. But here’s the draft, which “S” contributed to and helped edit. . .

    Exclusive to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    Op-ed piece for publication Sunday, July 9th

    All-Star Games Vindicated Robert Clemente
    and Helped Transform Baseball’s Culture
    by Timothy M. Gay

    Except for a few league executives, the two managers, and a handful of hard-core fans, not many people care which team will win Tuesday night’s All-Star game at PNC Park. In recent years, the All-Star game has become a relaxed exhibition – a mid-season respite that’s more like a baseball family reunion than a spirited competition. The home run hitting contest – with sluggers playfully taunting one another in two languages – adds to the festive atmosphere.
    It was not always so. A generation ago, Pirate immortal Roberto Clemente and his black and Latino compadres in the National League approached All-Star games with a vengeance. The mid-summer classic back then was an exercise in vindication, an opportunity for minority players to show the world – and, not coincidentally, the myopic American League team owners sitting in the box seats – just how brilliant they were.
    After Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the late 1940s, National League clubs grudgingly welcomed African Americans and, eventually, Latinos into their dugouts. To their shame, many American League franchises – especially the Boston Red Sox and the haughty New York Yankees – resisted integration.
    Well into the 1960s, then, All-Star games tended to pit black and Latino National Leaguers against nearly all-white American League squads. Year after year, such NL icons as Clemente, Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, and Orlando Cepeda took great satisfaction in clobbering their counterparts from the junior circuit. Between 1950 and 1982, the American League won a grand total of four All-Star games. Many All-Star contests in the 50s and 60s became tutorials in which dark-skinned National Leaguers demonstrated how baseball was meant to be played – with breath-taking imagination, speed, and power.
    No one embodied baseball’s transformation back then quite like Puerto Rico’s Clemente. Roberto’s first All-Star appearance came in 1961 at brand-new Candlestick Park in San Francisco. In his marvelous new biography, Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero, David Maraniss points out that blacks and Latinos accounted for nine of the National League’s 11 hits in that year’s game, scoring all their team’s runs in a 5-4 win.
    Roberto reveled that day in getting the game-winning hit off crafty knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhem. Yet Maraniss reveals that this obnoxious headline greeted Roberto when he returned to Pittsburgh: I GET HEET, I FEEL GOOD. It was all-too-common for newspapers back then to use exaggerated phonetic spellings when quoting Latinos. So Clemente, a proud and brooding artist, one of baseball’s enduring geniuses, was reduced to a specious racial caricature. He despised such stereotyping – but it helped drive him to become the greatest right fielder in history. Roberto’s performance in the 1971 World Series is one of our pastime’s incandescent moments – something that ought to be preserved in a time capsule, to light the way for ballplayers not yet born.
    As beautiful an athlete as Roberto was, he was a better human being, devoting countless hours to needy children. His gentle heart never stopped beating for the sick, the poor, and the dispossessed. He died tragically young while on a mission of mercy for earthquake victims.
    Think of the legacy Roberto left the city of Pittsburgh and the culture of baseball. When he arrived in Pittsburgh in 1955, Latinos represented a tiny fraction of the city’s population and kept very much to themselves. Today Pittsburgh is home to a thriving Latino community that is part of the city’s heartbeat. The University of Pittsburgh’s Latino festival every summer draws tens of thousands of visitors. Four or five decades ago, the only Spanish a Pittsburgher was likely to hear was Pirate broadcaster Bob Prince greeting Roberto’s plate appearances with “Arriba! Arriba!”– the Gunner’s plea for Roberto to “go, go” by delivering another clutch hit.
    In Roberto’s rookie year, there were only a few Latinos in the big leagues. Today, roughly a third of all major leaguers are of Latino heritage – and the figure grows larger every year.
    Roberto’s biggest impact, though, wasn’t on the diamond; it’s in the hearts and minds of fans throughout the hemisphere. When we bounce to the beat of a salsa band at the ballpark, or bone up on our favorite team’s prospects from San Juan or San Pedro de Macoris, or admire the double-play dexterity of a Venezuelan shortstop, we’re paying homage to The Great One and to the trail that he blazed. It’s only fitting that major league baseball’s humanitarian award be named in honor of Roberto; among certain stars, it’s almost as coveted as the most valuable player trophy.
    At 1:30 this Monday afternoon at the Heinz History Center, Maraniss and other Clemente admirers will salute Roberto’s life and legacy in a forum open to the public. That same evening another poignant if unwitting tribute to Roberto will be on display. During the home run contest at PNC, the flags of all the various participants will proudly be unfurled: the nations of the Caribbean celebrating their mutual love of beisbol.
    Many of the Latinos competing in the contest will no doubt vow to knock a few over the fence in their hero’s memory.
    Arriba, Roberto, y gracias.

    Timothy M. Gay, a writer and historian, is the author of Tris Speaker: The Rough-and-Tumble Life of a Baseball Legend. He was born in Warren, Pennsylvania, the year before Roberto arrived in Pittsburgh.

  9. stephen Says:

    David Maraniss did indeed write a great book on Clemente the man. And there are so many stories about Clemente that so many have never heard. But, what I loved about him the most was his purity and grace when it came to playing the game. He made baseball seem like a great ballet and he was the greatest of them all. He did it so purely that so few ever really appreciated what they were seeing. From his batting stance, his swing, his catches, his throws, his walking into the dugout. He was, to me, the most pure athelete ever to play the game, and on top of all that, he was a good man.

  10. Stephen Says:

    p.s. I just got your book and I look forward to reading it.

  11. Timothy M. Gay Says:

    Guys: I’ve been so busy flacking the book that I’ve done a lousy job adding fresh material to the blog. But I promise I’ll get better – and move beyond baseball. But before I do, a quick couple of notes. One: our Nats have been really fun to watch of late. The Desmond kid can really play short and the team has been playing with a lot of spunk. And second, thanks in no small measure to the fine people at Simon & Schuster, SATCH has generated quite a bit of attention around the country, most of it good. I’ve had some success in placing localized op-ed pieces in newspapers – nine in all. Below is the article that ran in the Seattle Times a couple of weeks ago. Of all the stories I unearthed for the book, it’s at the top. . . .

    Off to Austin this week to research the papers of Walter Cronkite and Andy Rooney for my next book, which is on great WW II correspondents. So far the whole experience has been great.

    And once again, kudos to my niece, the lovely Laura House Crawford, fr her work above and beyond the call of duty on this website. Slowly but surely I’m getting Facebook. I feel about Facebook the way General Eisenhower felt about the weather on D-Day’s eve. To paraphrase Ike: “I don’t like it. But we’ve got no choice. We gotta go.” And I gotta go. Take care, all, and I promised I’ll put some oomph and fun into this thing.

    A baseball moment celebrating war’s end and servicemen at old Sick Stadium
    Shortly after V-J Day, pitching greats Bobby Feller and Satchel Paige squared off at Sick Stadium in the Rainier Valley in a fundraising exhibition to benefit convalescing servicemen. Guest columnist Timothy M. Gay writes there was no better way to celebrate the U.S. victory in World War II.

    By Timothy M. Gay

    Special to The Times

    PREV 1 of 2 NEXT

    SEATTLE TIMES FILE

    Legendary pitcher Leroy “Satchel” Paige matched fastballs with Bob Feller at Sick’s Stadium.

    COURTESY

    IT was just a few weeks after V-J Day and the big crowd streaming into tiny Sick’s Stadium in the Rainier Valley was still in a buoyant mood. Seattle’s Junior Chamber of Commerce had arranged for America’s two foremost fireballers, Bobby Feller and Satchel Paige, to headline a Sunday afternoon charity fundraising exhibition. The cause could not have been more poignant: The dollar-a-ticket proceeds went to purchase recreational equipment for servicemen convalescing at area hospitals.

    Seattle fans knew they were in for a treat. Feller, still only 26, was an Iowa farm boy whose countenance was “as honest and guileless as Gary Cooper’s,” as LIFE Magazine put it. As a callow teenager, Feller cracked the Cleveland Indians’ rotation. In little more than four seasons, he won 107 games. Two days after Pearl Harbor, though, Feller became the first prominent ballplayer to enlist, joining the Navy. Trained as a gunnery specialist, Chief Petty Officer Feller was placed in charge of a 24-man anti-aircraft battery on the battleship USS Alabama, earning eight battle stars.

    Bob’s old barnstorming buddy Satchel Paige may have been 12 years Feller’s senior but possessed a fastball every bit as ferocious. Yet Paige’s skin color denied him the chance to play in the majors. Instead, Satch became a Negro Leagues legend, pitching for two decades in big cities and tank towns all over the country. During the offseason, Paige would often barnstorm against white big leaguers like Feller, putting “a little dent in Jim Crow,” as Satch described it. Throughout the war, Paige visited dozens of hospitals, giving wounded warriors a chance to touch his fabled right arm.

    Nearly 300 sailors and soldiers, many in wheelchairs, were the Jaycees’ guests at Sick’s. Thousands of uniformed personnel, their spouses and kids got in for free. By roping off standing-room-only sections along the baselines, the Jaycees were able to shoehorn 10,000-plus fans into the park.

    Bob and Satch took the diamond with active-duty servicemen from teams representing the Sand Point Naval Air Base and the Seattle Coast Guard Operating Base. It was almost unprecedented for Paige to play with white teammates on the Feller tours — but Satch did that afternoon.

    Both the “NavalAirs” and the “Operators,” as they were called in the Post-Intelligencer and The Times, were stacked with one-time major and minor leaguers. The Operators, in fact, were managed by former and future Chicago Cub Marv Rickert, an outfielder who hit .247 in 402 big-league games.

    Even though Feller was a Navy man, the Jaycees insisted that a coin be flipped to determine which star pitched for which team. “The advantage supposedly will go to the team that draws Feller,” the Times noted the morning of the game. “[Feller] has promised to go five or six innings, while the ancient Paige will be able to muster only three or four.”

    The Times got it wrong on both counts. Sand Point won the coin toss, so Feller did indeed get to pitch for the NavalAirs. But Paige and his “uncanny slants” got the better of Bob — and Satch went five innings, the same distance as his running mate. Satch was sensational, yielding only one hit, which, naturally, was a Feller single.

    “[I]t was Ol’ Satch who stole the show,” the Post-Intelligencer’s Royal Brougham opined, “with a surprising assortment of stuff for a geezer going on fifty.” In truth, Satch was only going on 40, but feigning ignorance about his real age was part of Paige’s shtick.

    Both runs that Feller allowed came in the first inning, when a line drive ricocheted off his knee. But to his credit, Bob stayed in the game and pitched shutout ball until being relieved in the sixth. When the “world’s two greatest pitchers,” as Brougham called them, departed the game, the score stood 2-1 in favor of Satch and his Operators.

    A Coast Guardsman named Ray Orteig blanked Sand Point over the last four innings, while the Operators got to NavalAir hurler Jack Wilder for four more runs. Paige and the Coasties coasted, 6-1 — but the real winners were Seattle’s recovering heroes. Satch and Bob stayed long after the game, autographing every scrap of paper thrust in their direction.

    Two years before Jackie Robinson broke the big-league color barrier and three years before Paige joined Feller on the Indians, Seattle got a brief but sweet glimpse into the pastime’s integrated future. There was no better way to celebrate America’s victory in World War II.

    Timothy M. Gay is the author of “Satch, Dizzy & Rapid Robert: The Wild Saga of Interracial Baseball Before Jackie Robinson,” available from Simon & Schuster.

  12. Timothy M. Gay Says:

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10138/1058862-155.stm

    I promise. . . . I’ll stop yakking about baseball one of these days. In the meantime, check this out.

  13. Witz Says:

    Just finished reading “Satch, Dizzy and Rapid Ropert” and thoroughly enjoyed it. I came across this link to the supposed only Dean family photo (with Elmer), I thought everyone here might enjoy.

    http://www.seth.com/coll_photographs_26.html

    By the way, I read “Tris Speaker” last year–who’s up next?

  14. James Spangler Says:

    As athetes lives become more public and their failings make front page news on a daily basis, I overcome this downward spiral with a simple exercise. Time is turned back to the sixties. I am the decider for the starter for the right field position for the National League. I have Roberto Clemente and Henry Aaron to choose from. I can consider batting average, home runs, base running, arm strength, clubhouse leadership, personal character, and humanitarian contributions.

    Cheating is not only allowed, it is encouraged. Feel free to include contributions made after the sixties, in Aaron’s case, up to the present.

    Who would you select?

    The real beauty is if you pick Clemente one day, do it again tomorrow and see if your mind has changed.

    Then revel in the joy of not having to deal with steroids and personal failings that seem to taint today’s superstars.

    Appreciate that these two offered their skills and talents to a world that cheered them by day, then would throw them out of their restaurants by night as they failed to meet the standards of those establishments.

    And the real beauty is whomever you choose, you cannot lose.

  15. johnofd Says:

    Tim–I met you @ the Alta wedding a few years ago–my wife’s mom was a mccomas. We had a little chat over breakfast. I hope you are well.
    Got a buddy writing a book on Sonny Liston. Have you any references for racism in St Louis/Philly in the 50’s? I thought you might have trod that ground a wee bit…
    Anyhow, I’m encouraging him to read your books at the very least.
    Thank you. Ed Gallagher (in Oregon)

    • Tim Gay Says:

      Ed: Geez, sorry it took me so long to respond but I’m terrible about checking this blog. My New Year’s resolution is to get better. Got to be since I’ve got a new book coming out.

      Katie’s wedding was a lot of fun and I remember our conversation. I wish your friend well with his Liston book. Amazing guy. Too bad A. J. Liebling isn’t around to opine on Sonny. But your friend should definitely check Liebling’s stuff in “The Sweet Science.” Surely he wrote about Sonny in the New Yorker or SI. Beyond checking with the old time newspaper columnists in both cities I don’t have any thoughts. A friend just finished a book that touches on racism in St. Louis in the ’60s; I can ask him to recommend some sources and report back. St. Louis is a fascinating case study: a thoroughly Jim Crow town that somehow welcomed blacks and Latinos – at least in baseball – long before a lot of other places. All the best. I’ll be back in touch.

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