I can still remember when Sports Illustrated first came out in the summer of 1954. It was considered a big deal at the time and every week my father would purchase a copy and bring it home. I still have the first eleven issues of the magazine in a binder. Eventually we started to subscribe and every Thursday it would arrive in the mail. If for some reason it did not arrive on Thursday, I would think horrible thoughts about the mailman, positive that he had taken it home to read himself.
Eventually I stopped reading Sports Illustrated, about the time I discovered the Sporting News. Sports Illustrated was always a bit suspect among my friends. Too many articles about things like fly fishing and Bridge and not enough about ‘real sports.’
From time to time I would write letters to the editor and on one occasion it got printed. Looking back though haze of some fifty-nine years, it seems like I picked a rather strange topic. Trades that would help the Washington Senators. Not only was the topic a bit odd, the trades I suggested were, in hindsight, absolutely horrible. They would have made a bad team that much worse. Anyway, February 24, 1958. Here it is:
Do you ever wonder what happens to that ballot that you insert into the scanner on Election Day? Does it get shredded or sucked up into the blogosphere? Or just dumped into a trash bin?
Actually none of those things. It drops into a blue bin which is enclosed inside the black casing that the scanner rests on. At the end of the day, the election officers remove the bin from the casing, close the lid, lock it, affix a couple of seals (one of which is signed by the entire team of officers) and the chief election officer takes it in to the Government Center.
From there the bin finds its way to a vault located in the bowels of the county courthouse. There it sits until the period of time for possible recounts has passed. Once that happens, it continues to sit in the courthouse vault for two years. At that point the ballots are shredded.
That’s all and good but there is just one problem. The next election (and as we all know they just keep coming). We need those blue bins to be put back in the black casings. So the bins need to be ‘rescued’ from the vault which is what we did today. We start by making boxes. Lots of boxes. One for every blue bin. One by one courthouse employees (the only people allowed in the vault) bring out the blue bins. We remove the ballots from each blue bin and put them in the boxers, putting a label on each box identifying the precinct. The boxes go back into the vault while the bins go to the loading dock. From there trucks will take them to the warehouse where they will be reunited with the scanners.
That’s what we did today. Rest assured. The bins are safe. Democracy rolls on.
Sometimes baseball is like that. The sun is shining; warm but not too hot; not too muggy. And everything on the field goes right.
Inning one: three consecutive homeruns (Schoop, Davis, Mancini). I’d be more excited if I hadn’t seen those four consecutive homers from the Nats a couple of weeks ago.
Anyway, at the end of inning one we’re up by four. Add another one in the second. Meanwhile Ubaldo Jimenez with the wind at his back is doing reasonably well. Tigers get on base but clutch pitching and the occasional double play takes care of things.
And the Birds keep on hitting. A couple more homeruns in the fourth inning (Rickard, Machado). A string of base knocks in the eighth. Manny Machado gets four hits and ends the day a .256 (He’s come a long way in the last six weeks). Joey Rickard also has four hits. Meanwhile Detroit gets lots of hits but they don’t result in many runs. Final score has Birds a 12-3 victor. Sometimes it looks so easy.
Took an evening off from baseball to attend the Flute Society Recital. Mary was one of the performers (“C Flute”). A wide variety of selections including Yesterday, Scarborough Fair, and Mission Impossible. Outstanding!
Went up to the Yards last night to see the O’s take on the Kansas City Royals. The Royals are one of the teams the Birds need to get past if they want to sneak in to the playoffs. The last time I saw them was 2015 and they were on their way to a World Championship. Last night they looked like a very ordinary team.
The game was a rather crisp affair as both starting pitchers were “pitch to contact” type hurlers. No 98 mph fastballs. KC starter Jason Vargas’ best pitch was his changeup had he had Jonathan Schoop swinging at air all night. This was Baltimore starter Jeremy Hellickson’s first appearance as an Oriole and he did well. Men got on base but he was tough when it counted. Especially impressive was getting out of a jam in the 6th inning when the Royals had men on second and third with none out.
Except for Eric Hosmer and newly acquitted Melky Cabrera (always a tough out), the Royals batting order seemed rather anemic. Two years ago Alex Gordon was a borderline All-Star. Now he sports a .204 batting average and looked especially pathetic at the plate last night.
O’s had just seven hits but they bunched them well. Newly acquired Tim Beckham was at shortstop for the Birds. He certainly plays with a lot of energy and it was fun watching him. Of course getting a double and triple didn’t hurt. I don’t know if he is the answer to the shortstop gap (the JJ Hardy era is apparently over) but he appears to be an upgrade over Rueben Tejada who was an upgrade over Paul Janish.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve read a baseball book that I enjoyed as much as this one. The analysis is solid and the writing delightful. Reminds me of the stuff Bill James used to put out before he stopped writing for the masses. Highly recommended.
For many a young baseball fan in the 1950s, the books of Frank O’Rourke were a transition from the children’s sports books (Chip Hilton, Bronc Burnet) and the world of adult books. He wrote several baseball books during the late 40’s and early ‘50s and I read three of them: Flashing Spikes, Nine Good Men, and Never Come Back. The characters on O’Rourke’s books were intense, sincere. There was very little humor. His players believed deeply in the integrity of the game and played with honest intensity. Used by the owners, misunderstood by the fans, and frequently abused by the sports writers.
Nine Good Men contains a segment that feels in a way like it’s out of the Twilight Zone. In the book, the team has a young pitcher named Herb Score. During a game, Score suffers a freak injury, a batted ball shatters a bone in his hand/arm and he is sidelined for the season.
Nine Good Men was published in 1952.
Three years later a rookie pitching sensation joined the Cleveland Indians. For two season the hard throwing lefty was one of the best pitchers in the the major leagues. Then in 1957 he was hit in the face by a batted ball and was sidelined for the season. He tried to come back the following year but was never the same.
His name was Herb Score.
There was an article in one of the SABR publications a while back about O’Rourke and his writings. It conjectures in 1952 when Score was still in high school (and apparently getting some national attention) his name might have been noticed by O’Rourke. O’Rourke frequently used real player’s names in his fictional books. I suppose that must have been the case. It would be just so weird otherwise.