Oral Examination: Testing the Stories of “The Glory of Their Times”

Is everything in this hallmark book as glorious as it seems?

Is everything in this hallmark book as glorious as it seems?

I should have done this piece last year. I like round numbers as much as the next fellow, maybe a little more, and I had a chance at a good one. The Glory of Their Times, the classic book of oral baseball histories compiled and edited by the late Lawrence Ritter, was released in 1966. Last year, 2016, was the golden anniversary of its publication.

It would have been the perfect time to write about this superb book. The problem was, I began my re-reading of it, and noticed the timing element, only in late December. Some kind of 50th anniversary piece seemed in order, but there really wasn’t time to put one together and get it through the pipeline before the calendar turned.

I declined the rush job, and took a little more time to linger over The Glory of Their Times, and all the stories the baseball players inside were telling. As I did so, the skeptic’s voice inside me kept chiming in, wondering “Did it really happen the way he says?”

id_hco2015mth11tgottThere is nothing new or particularly disrespectful about such doubts. The first entry in the book, pitcher Rube Marquard, tells some of the best stories in the whole volume. Subsequent research, however, showed that a remarkable amount of it, especially around his personal rather than professional life, was whole-cloth fabrication. It may be tough to find a single page of his chapter that was fully truthful.

This is the risk of oral histories. The interviewer has to let his subjects speak, and picking at their stories is a sure way of drying them up. The reader values these participants and their words, and is thus inclined to take their word for it.

I leaned that way myself in previous readings, but not this time. And since everybody in this book has long since departed this world, who was going to resent my digging, apart maybe from some proud grandkids and great-grandkids?

So I collected some of their recollections that I found both interesting (which didn’t narrow things too much) and testable, and proceeded to test them. It will not spoil things badly to reveal that the rest of the players have a much better collective record for accuracy than Marquard. (Also to avoid spoiling things too badly, I will quote as little as I can manage from the book. For the full flavor of the experience, you need to go to its pages.)

On The Mark

One of the best-known anecdotes from Glory comes from Detroit Tigers outfielder Davy Jones, a seven-year teammate of Ty Cobb. His story was about another fellow Tiger, Germany Schaefer, one of baseball’s biggest characters in an era well-supplied with eccentrics.

Jones recounted how, called to pinch-hit with Detroit down to its last out, Schaefer walked to the plate, grandiloquently introduced himself to the crowd as the world’s greatest pinch-hitter, and declared “I am now going to hit the ball into the left-field bleachers.” Which he did, turning defeat into a Tigers victory.

The part of Jones’ story less recalled is that the Tigers returned to Detroit the next day and put Schaefer into the starting lineup. The hometown fans, having heard of Germany’s bravura performance, cheered him raucously his first time up. He struck out. They cheered him his second time up. He struck out. Silence greeted his third trip to the plate. He popped out. His fourth time up, in the ninth as the tying run, the crowd was shouting “Take the bum out!”

It was surprisingly easy to trace the games in question. In the first game, Schaefer was pinch-hitting for Red Donovan. Red’s last year with Detroit was 1906, which was Davy Jones’ first season there, so the year is pinned down. Given that they were playing that game in Chicago against the White Sox, and the next day’s contest was in Detroit against Cleveland’s Addie Joss, it’s clear the games fall on June 24 and 25.

On the 24th, Schaefer did indeed hit a ninth-inning pinch-hit home run to turn a one-run Detroit deficit into a one-run lead. Plus it did go into the bleachers in left, just the third—and last—ball Schaefer ever hit over the wall. (The rest of his career nine home runs were inside-the-park.) The next day, he did start against the formidable Addie Joss, and went hitless. I can’t speak to Schaefer’s speech or the Detroit fans’ reactions the next day, but the framework of the events is just as Davy Jones said.

Jones also had a nice trivia tidbit, one that meshed with fellow interviewee Sam Crawford’s reminiscences. Jones recalled that he was the first player ever to bat in the majors against Walter Johnson, while Tigers teammate Crawford claimed the honor of having beaten Johnson in that game. “I hit a home run off him and we beat him,” said Crawford. “I believe the score was 3-2.”

Both Tigers were on the money. Jones was indeed the leadoff batter for Detroit in Johnson’s debut game on Aug. 2, 1907, at Washington. Crawford did have an inside-the-park homer off Walter in the eighth inning of that game, breaking a 1-1 tie. Detroit tallied an insurance run in the ninth, matched by Washington, which made the final 3-2. The game-winning RBI may be a passé statistic, but Crawford got one that historic day.

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

Fred Snodgrass, whose place in World Series history you know from my most recent piece, recalled Giants teammate Rube Marquard (yes, him) pitching 21 innings against Pittsburgh in 1914, to win a game 3-1. This tale checks out—the date was July 17—as does Fred’s slightly less certain recollection that Pirates hurler Babe Adams pitched the full 21 as well. So Marquard anecdotes can be trustworthy, if Marquard’s not the one telling them.

Another recollection he had was about teammate Christy Mathewson, and one of the great legends that has arisen around that fabled pitcher. “And did you know that he never pitched on Sunday,” Snodgrass told Ritter, “or even dressed in uniform?” This is a standard part of the story of Mathewson’s career, and while I cannot test the matter of being in uniform, the rest is within a researcher’s grasp.

(I strongly suspect this story has been chased down by other folks, and that I could confirm or deny it with a few minutes on a search engine. This, however, I needed to do myself. Skip ahead a few paragraphs if you already know how this one will end.)

The Sunday vow was a big part of Mathewson’s public persona, a contrast to the irreverent, rough-and-tumble reputation baseball players still had at the dawn of the 20th century. Along with his more standard nicknames “Matty” and “Big Six,” he had the moniker “The Christian Gentleman” bestowed on him partly for this policy. This, at a time when you could use such a term un-ironically. (Not that everyone would have said it without a scoff, but you could.)

Avoiding games played on Sunday was not as difficult then as it might seem now. For the first year-plus of Matty’s career, 1900 and 1901, no city in the majors permitted Sunday baseball. Three western cities—Chicago, St. Louis, and Cincinnati—changed their laws to permit it from the 1902 season on, and those places were the refuge of Sunday play for the rest of Mathewson’s career. (And yes, Cincinnati was still considered western in those days. For perspective, 1902 is midway between the present day and the writing of the U.S. Constitution.)

All Mathewson needed to do was to dodge pitching Sunday games in three cities (plus a short-lived experiment in Brooklyn that tried to skirt the letter of the law). The Giants’ total of Sunday games each season was usually nine for the first years of the great experiment, but dropped into the five-to-seven range for the latter half of Mathewson’s career.

For Matty’s late career, 1911 to 1916, Retrosheet records sufficed to confirm that Mathewson did not play any games on Sunday. For the 1902 to 1910 stretch, I could confirm zero Sunday starts on Retrosheet, but this did not preclude the chance that he might have entered a game in relief. I went to newspaper records for the 68 Sunday games thus involved.

My discovery: zero appearances in relief. Christy Mathewson kept his promise. As a gentleman, Christian or otherwise, does.

There is a fascinating sequel. The Giants decided to test the blue law in 1917, after Mathewson had been traded away. They held a Sunday game at the Polo Grounds against Cincinnati (one of the teams that was used to playing on Sundays). After the game, both managers were arrested for breaking the law: McGraw for the Giants … and Christy Mathewson for the Reds!

The judge tossed the case. The game had been planned as a benefit related to America’s entry into World War I, and the judge ended up praising them for their patriotic spirit.

Catcher John “Chief” Meyers was, if anything, more effusive in his praise of Mathewson than Snodgrass was. Part of his reminiscences involved Matty’s superb control. “I don’t think he ever walked a man in his life because of wildness,” Meyers said. That claim is certainly not confirmable, but a similar one he made is. “In 1913,” he stated, “he pitched 68 consecutive innings without walking a man.”

From the second game of a doubleheader on June 23, 1913, through to July 15, Christy Mathewson pitched in eight games (six starts, two in relief) without walking a batter. That stretch adds up to 57 innings. On July 18, he threw seven walkless innings before giving up a free pass in the eighth. That gets us to 64 innings.

In his game on June 18, Mathewson had two walks. One of them occurred in the fifth inning. I was not able to pinpoint the other from newspaper stories, except that it was implied that it did not happen in the seventh or eighth. (The body of a story mentioned the hits plus walk he gave up in the fifth, then recorded hits in the other innings without mention of a walk.) If the pass happened in the first through fourth, rather than the sixth or ninth, Meyers’ tale is true.

I could not find that last piece of the puzzle, but it is so close that I will give Meyers the benefit of the doubt. Matty’s string of 68 innings without a walk is confirmed in my eyes.

Meyers’ memory for pitchers’ streaks was not limited to Big Six. He also recalled the 19-game winning streak put together by, yes, Rube Marquard in 1912—only he recalled that it was a little longer than the record said.

He actually won 20 straight, but they didn’t give him credit for one of them. … [It] was one where he came in as a relief pitcher and we scored the winning run after that. Under modern rules Rube would get credit for that victory, but then they gave it to the starting pitcher, Jeff Tesreau.

Jeff Tesreau had five wins during Marquard’s streak, and the one Meyers has in mind easily comes into focus: April 20, hosting Brooklyn. The Giants took a 2-0 lead into the top of the ninth, but the Superbas (they wouldn’t go back to being the Dodgers for about two decades) got two walks and a hit against Tesreau to make it 2-1 with no outs. Rube Marquard came in to relieve, and let both inherited runners score, giving Brooklyn the 3-2 lead. The Giants rallied with two in their half of the ninth, and won 4-3.

Meyers was right. By the rules when he gave his interview, and of today, Tesreau would have gotten a no-decision rather than the win. Instead of carding the save, Marquard would have received a blown save, but also the vulture win. It would be cheap, but it would make Marquard’s record winning streak 20 games instead of 19.

What Meyers didn’t talk about was his role, then lack thereof, in the contest. He drove in New York’s two early runs, but was ejected late for arguing with umpire Cy Rigler. Backup Art Wilson took his place. It was he calling the pitches when Tesreau’s wheels came off. It was his throwing error on a rundown that let the tying and go-ahead runs score.

Wilson atoned in Hollywood fashion, before Hollywood had even made that fashion its own. With one out and a man on in the home ninth, Art clouted a long drive that stayed just inside the right-field pole for a walk-off home run. Brooklyn manager Bill Dahlen rushed out to dispute the fair call with Rigler, and within seconds they were in a fistfight. More fans ended up watching the donnybrook than watching Wilson plate the winning run.

Not Quite Right

Chief Meyers was good at getting his stories right; perhaps less so at getting his stories complete. For a thousand-game career half a century in the past, that is understandable. The problem only grows when stretching beyond one’s career—which brings up Hank Greenberg.

My tracer for Hammerin’ Hank involved what he said was the first baseball game he ever attended. Games, to be precise: a Sunday double-header at the Polo Grounds against the Phillies, when he was “about thirteen. I still remember that Frankie Frisch, the Fordham Flash, a New York boy, got seven hits for the Giants in the double-header.”

Giving Hank leeway of a year on either side, I checked the 1923 to 1925 seasons. The Giants had no home twin-bills in 1923 against Philadelphia, and the two they had in 1925 were on a Saturday and a Monday (and neither had a seven-hit eruption by Frisch). Of the three double-headers Philly played at the Polo Grounds in ’24, two were on Sundays, so Hank did have the age right. He didn’t have the hits right. His day was probably May 4, when Frisch rapped out five hits in the two games. On the July 6 Sunday two-fer, Frankie had just two.

But I don’t think Hank fabricated the tale of seven. There was another double-header late that season, the Giants hosting Boston, when Frisch did explode for seven hits. I believe this stuck in Greenberg’s memory, and when he looked back after many years, the really good day he saw Frisch have in May got tangled up with the great day Frisch had in September. Young Hank might even have been at that later double-header, four months after his first game, making the confusion that much more natural.

Another error that could be an honest slip was made by Bob O’Farrell. He was the catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1926 World Series, when Grover Cleveland Alexander famously entered in relief on zero days’ rest to strike out Yankee Tony Lazzeri in a critical seventh-inning jam. O’Farrell remembers setting Tony down on three straight pitches, though strike two was a long foul that would have been a grand slam had it been straighter.

Newspaper accounts confirm the three straight strikes, along with the near miss. However, they had Alexander starting Lazzeri off with a ball before those three strikes came, something O’Farrell did not recall. That could be forgetfulness, or fudging. I can’t call it either way.

Making It Up

What I can call conclusively is Jimmy Austin’s tale involving the bibulous Rube Waddell, another standout in the golden age of baseball characters. Austin told of riding with his fellow New York Highlanders to the St. Louis Browns’ ballpark for a game, and seeing Waddell outside a saloon, holding a huge mug of beer. Rube yelled and waved to the Highlanders, then lifted his mug in salute and downed it in one pull.

Naturally, Rube was scheduled to pitch that day. He did okay for the first three innings, but had two men on in the fourth when Austin came up. Jimmy promptly swatted a fat pitch over the fence. Waddell watched Austin as he circled the bases, but the turning made him dizzy, and he fell flat on his backside. Before the gales of laughter had subsided, the Browns’ manager yanked Rube from the game.

A heck of a story, if it’s true. Which it isn’t.

Austin played for the Highlanders in 1909 and 1910, and Waddell pitched for the Browns in both those years. Rube started only two games in 1910, neither against New York, so we’re looking at 1909.

The home run log at Baseball-Reference shows Waddell giving up only one home run in 1909, to Ty Cobb, inside-the-park. The home run log for Jimmy Austin shows him hitting just one round-tripper in ’09, against Chief Bender, also inside-the-park. The incident recalled by Austin never took place.

Waddell started against the Highlanders four times that season, but one of them was a 2-1 win, so that wasn’t the seed of the story. That leaves us games on June 3, July 9, and the early game of an Aug. 3 doubleheader. Each game does have an element or two matching Austin’s tale.

On June 3, the game was scoreless through four, so Austin wasn’t performing heroics, or Waddell failing, in the fourth. In the top of the seventh, Austin did come up with two men on. However, he managed only a chopper toward third. Waddell made the 1-5 force play, but fell as he threw and was shaken up. He ended up yielding three runs that frame, then came out.

On July 9, Waddell got drilled by a third-inning leadoff liner from fellow pitcher Joe Lake, which certainly could have deposited Waddell on his seat. He stayed in to finish a scoreless inning, then came out.

In the early game on Aug. 3, Waddell did okay through three innings, giving up one run, then gave up three in the fourth, which ended his day. Austin was part of that rally: he walked, then got thrown out at third base.

This is the first clear fabrication I found in The Glory of Their Times, not counting nearly everything Rube Marquard said. It’s not the only one, though. This brings us to Hall-of-Famer Paul Waner.

Waner warmed up by telling how he got six straight hits in a game during his rookie season of 1926. He did exactly that, on Aug. 26, as his Pirates hosted the Giants. He managed three singles, two doubles and a triple, scored once and drove in two during a 15-7 Pittsburgh romp. He did err, though, in claiming he had been moved from third in the batting order to second for that game. He was actually leading off.

His claim to have used six different bats for his six times up is impervious to research, of course. For his claim that “That system stopped working the next day, unfortunately,” I can do better. He doubled and walked in four times up the next day, in a 4-0 whitewashing of New York. Not a slash line to sneeze at, but definitely a letdown.

His big set-piece story is the opposite, not a piece of bragging but a joke with himself as the butt. It came in 1942, when he was a grizzled veteran hanging on in a war-depleted league. A rash of injuries led to manager Casey Stengel of the Boston Braves promoting Waner from pinch-hitting duties to center field—right as a long string of double-headers was coming up.

Deep into this stretch, in a nightcap at Pittsburgh, a Pirate hit a gapper triple to right that Waner had to chase down in Forbes Field’s deep outfield. The gassed Waner hadn’t caught his breath before the next batter banged a three-bagger to left-center that he had to pursue. Next came a Texas Leaguer into short center that Waner ploddingly chased, dove for, and missed. He was so exhausted from this final effort that he could not move the last two feet to reach the ball and throw it in.

It’s a great tale, a bit of good-natured ribbing of his own superannuation. And there’s no way that it’s true.

Never mind that Waner was no mere pinch-hitter, starting more than four-fifths of his 1942 games in the outfield. Never mind that, yes, Boston played a huge number of twin-bills that year, as wartime travel restrictions forced teams to double up frequently. It didn’t happen because Waner did not play a single inning in center field that year. Waner started just 15 games in center his whole career, none after 1941.

There is a thin chance that something like what he describes happened in 1941, playing in St. Louis instead of Pittsburgh. It was in a double-header, though the first game, and if you change one of the triples to a double, the three hits could have happened as he described. It’s even suggestive that Waner was pulled for a defensive replacement in the ninth. If the switch had come after those three hits …

But even if this is the seed of the anecdote, it has been changed so much that it may as well carry the Hollywood tagline “Inspired by a true story.” Not “based on” but “inspired by,” the clearest indicator that they’re making stuff up. Which makes Waner’s storytelling inspired in two senses.

He does it again for the very end of his career. Playing a final few games with the Yankees, Waner hears a fan yell “How come you’re in the outfield for the Yankees?” and replies “Because Joe DiMaggio’s in the Army.” Another great anecdote is ruined by reality. Waner never played the outfield for New York: that time he really was a pure pinch-hitter.

I can guess where Waner’s wandering from the truth came from. In the era around World War II and for a few decades after, ex-ballplayers could make a decent living as after-dinner speakers, coming before various groups to regale them with captivating tales of their playing days. If your tales weren’t quite captivating enough to keep the engagements flowing, you worked on them until they were.

That’s okay, as far as it goes. It makes for good entertainment—and they were being paid for entertainment—but lousy history. When a story appears in a book that purports to give a history of a bygone era, the standards have to change. There is nothing that’s too good to check, not if you’re going to pass it off as truth.

There can be anecdotes that are too good to want to check, and my final tracer today is one of them. It involves Rube Bressler (why, yes, a lot of players in the early 20th century were nicknamed ‘Rube’) and his sometime opponent, sometime teammate, the Hall of Fame pitcher Dazzy Vance. “You couldn’t hit him on a Monday,” Bressler declared, and went on to explain why not.

He’d cut the sleeve of his undershirt to the elbow, you know, and on the part of it he’d use lye on to make it white, and the rest he didn’t care how dirty it was. Then he’d pitch overhand, out of the apartment houses in the background at Ebbets Field. Between the bleached sleeve of his undershirt waving and the Monday wash hanging out to dry—the diapers and undies and sheets flapping on the clotheslines—you lost the ball entirely. He threw balls by me I never even saw.

This is such a compelling story: a tale of licit chicanery, exploiting an opportunity that would not, could not, exist today, certainly not in such homely domestic terms. I have to try to pull it apart, but in hopes that it resists my efforts and holds together. I cannot confirm what Vance was doing with his sleeves, only the results, whether he was deadly on the mound of Ebbets Field on a Monday.

If he was, his managers in Brooklyn didn’t seem aware of the fact. Of the 431 games Vance pitched in the main portion of his career (meaning after his 31st birthday: he had just 33 ineffective innings before then), only 37 came on a Monday. That drops to 34 Monday games while playing for Brooklyn, and a mere 13 of them came at Ebbets Field: 12 starting, one in relief.

Were those performances as good as Bressler, who judged Vance the toughest pitcher he ever faced, said? The statistics tell the tale.

DAZZY VANCE’S PERFORMANCE AT EBBETS FIELD
Metric All Days Mondays
ERA 2.69 3.01
Total Run Average 3.24 4.01
Hits/9 7.9 8.4
K/9 7.3 6.9
BB/9 2.4 3.4

In category after category, Vance did worse on Mondays at Ebbets Field than his average. One area where Mondays did have the advantage was with home runs. Vance gave up 61 in 1,489.2 lifetime innings at Ebbets, but just one in his 107.2 Monday innings there, a rate less than a quarter as high. This softens the overall conclusion, but doesn’t change it.

A proper sabermetric analysis would dig into things like the offensive strength of the opponents Vance faced on Monday games in Brooklyn, but that would miss the point. Rube Bressler wasn’t thinking about such niceties. He was talking about Dazzy Vance dominating on Mondays at Ebbets Field, but the cold numbers say it was just the opposite.

The true bizarre twist is, Bressler wasn’t speaking from experience. If Vance had dominated Bressler personally on a couple Mondays in Brooklyn, one could understand Rube’s statements. But none of Vance’s 13 Monday games at Ebbets Field came against a Rube Bressler team. Bressler never batted once against Vance with the Monday wash flapping beyond center field.

What was shaping up as a misapprehension of Vance’s Monday skills due to narrow personal experience thus becomes a pure fabrication. There isn’t even an apparent kernel of truth from which the tall tale could have sprung, except that maybe households were hanging out their wash in the Ebbets Field neighborhood. For the story I was hoping would stay whole, my efforts took it apart until there was nothing left at all.

In Closing

This is a sorry tone on which to end my look back at The Glory of Their Times, but perhaps a properly cautionary one. An inspired concept, an accomplished interviewer, and some great subjects made for one of the true classics of baseball literature. It did not, however, cancel out some of the less admirable traits of human nature, whether the periodic frailty of memory or the urge to rewrite the past when we think nobody will catch us.

Does this make The Glory of Their Times less of a book? A little, if you were trusting it as a historical document, reflecting nothing but truths about the game of baseball. The wiser way to look at it is that the book reflects truths about the ballplayers Ritter interviewed. They were wise and foolish, expansive and reserved, truthful and fabulist and sometimes just a bit mistaken.

Read the book with those caveats in mind, and it will have just as much to say to you. Maybe a bit more.

References and Resources


A writer for The Hardball Times, Shane has been writing about baseball and science fiction since 1997. His stories have been translated into French, Russian and Japanese, and he was nominated for the 2002 Hugo Award.
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Chris
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Chris

This was great.

One possibility for the discredited stories (some of them, anyway) is that they occurred in spring training or one of the much-more-common-then in-season exhibition games. I suppose it might be unlikely that a veteran star like Waner would play CF in an exhibition, but he *would* be more likely to theatrically collapse from exhaustion in that context.

Chris
Guest
Chris

Re Vance: Maybe he got the day wrong? I have no clue what “wash day” was in Brooklyn (and kindof doubt that everyone picked the same day), but maybe Vance dominated Thursdays?

AaronB
Guest
AaronB

That’s what I was wondering as well, that perhaps the day got mixed up.

AaronB
Guest
AaronB

I read the book just a few years ago for the 1st time…loved it! I suppose I look at it this way: it’s like telling fish stories or telling stories sitting around the camp fire. There are grains of truth to them, but they’re sure embellished. I love listening to “rain delay theater” because lots of times it’s the color guys sitting around telling stories from when they played. I’ve always viewed them through the lens that they’re most likely half-truths, or sometimes flat out tall-tales, but that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable.

JD
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JD

Great read! This is what sports journalism should look like.

The Lumber Company
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The Lumber Company

I can’t be too concerned about the less than 100% authenticity about “The Glory of Their Times”. It’s more of a snapshot of baseball’s past, and these players were getting up in age when those interviews were conducted. Read the book when I was a teenager, and understood back then it wasn’t intended as an historical document.

jwbiii
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jwbiii

I am sorry that the Dazzy Vance laundry story turned out to be fabricated. I really liked it. I’m also glad that most of the rest you checked were either spot on or within the error bars of old men talking about events that happened a long time ago.

LP
Guest
LP

Regarding Dazzy Vance / Rube Bressler and the Monday wash… maybe Bressler mis-remembered the pitcher? Could he have been dominated by some other Brooklyn hurler on a Monday?

Dennis Bedard
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Dennis Bedard

These stories are entertaining even if embellished. A lot harder picking apart these innocent and exaggerated tales than it is trying to figure out if Pete Rose or Roger Clemens told the truth.

Cam Martin
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Cam Martin

Good stuff. Halfway through the book right now so I skipped the Waner and Vance stories as I’ve not yet read them.

wilbur
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wilbur

Terrific piece about a terrific book. Thank you for your research.

This is a book I like to pull off the shelf every ten years or so and zip through. Not surprisingly, I suppose, I have a different perspective on it each time I read it.

The mention of Rube Waddell reminds me that he is the hardest player ever for me to visualize playing. I’ve read him variously described as a drunkard, mentally challenged, or simply a half-crazy manchild. I should find a good biography of him.

reform
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reform

A lot of the impact of the book comes from the fact that it gives the answers the author received, but not the questions, thus keeping the flow intact. The apartment houses near Ebbets Field were mainly inhabited by Jewish people at that time, who may have done their washing on Monday because Saturday was the Sabbath, and Sunday they went out.

Jetsy Extrano
Guest
Jetsy Extrano

Close but just a little different, Chris Jaffe found! Vance was great on Sundays, and reportedly that was the Jewish wash day (but Monday was the gentile).

http://www.hardballtimes.com/sundays-in-brooklyn/

Jetsy Extrano
Guest
Jetsy Extrano

And there was a lively follow-up: rainy days really seemed to break his trick.
http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/newsstand/discussion/tht_jaffe_dazzy_vance_tracer/

LJ
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LJ

Here is a quote from the NY Times (10/17/1912, Page One): “Snodgrass and Murray are both within reach of it, with time to spare. Snodgrass yells “I’ve got it”, and sets himself to take it with ease, as he has taken hundreds of the sort. Murray stops, waiting for the play that will enable him to line the ball joyfully to the infield just to show that his formidable right wing is still in working order.” “And now the ball settles. It is full and fair in the pouch of the padded glove of Snodgrass. But he is too eager… Read more »

Wilbur
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Wilbur

I believe Monday was then generally considered to be laundry day throughout the country, when it was an all day chore.

John Autin
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John Autin

Thanks for this! I really enjoyed it. And I hope it brings more readers to TGOTT.

mike
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mike

Couldn’t the ‘couldn’t hit him on a Monday’ just be an expression? Also, is there an accounting of the stuff Marquard made up?

David Reamer
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David Reamer

Another thing to keep in mind when attempting to verify this book is that Ritter extensively rewrote the interviews, frequently in ways that altered the presentation of events. Rob Neyer wrote about this in his Big Book of Baseball Legends. Oral history wasn’t as established as a discipline in Ritter’s day, but he was an economics professor. He knew better than to change quotes in this manner, but he preferred fun baseball stories over rigor. If you want to verify the stories, you should utilize the available audio recordings of the interviews.

Professor Longnose
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Professor Longnose

Chris Jaffe did a tracer on the Dazzy Vance story right here on hardballtimes.

http://www.hardballtimes.com/dazzy-vance-tracer/

Steven Gietschier
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Steven Gietschier

Oral history is misnamed. It is not history. It should be called oral evidence. Statements in so-called oral histories should never be accepted at face value. They should be tested like any other piece of evidence. No professional historian would or should believe an oral account any more than he or she would believe a written account without testing the evidence.

Mike
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Mike

I once gave a talk describing the differences in the careers of Christy Mathewson and his brother Hank. When I stated that Hank did not promise his mother that we would not play on Sundays because that was some of the few says that he could find work, a well known historian set me straight, telling me he was tired of correcting the no-ball-on-Sundays Christy myth. He stated that when the Giants would be on NY on a Sunday, they would travel out of the city to where it was legal to play an exihibition game, and yes, Christy donned… Read more »

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