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Classic Gammons

Johnny Dickshot
Jul 29 2005 05:45 PM

[url]http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/gammons/story?id=2118859[/url]

Probably the most influential baseball writer of our time, no matter what you think of his gossip.

It was pretty cool to take shots at him back in the early days of the Internet, but this was and is good stuff.

G-Fafif
Jul 29 2005 07:29 PM

Gammons captured the feeling of being so absorbed in a post-season that you thought you were going to need a ride to the emergency room no matter who won and who lost:

]So, if the honey and lemon works on the throat and the Alka-Seltzer does the same for the heads, Fenway will not be alone tonight.


Wonderful link, Mr. D'Shot. Wonderful story. It's nice to be reminded of how somebody gets revered in the first place. Same can be said for Game 6 and 1975, the first World Series during which I can recall the phrase "greatest ever" being thrown around. Seems to me that was the fall when we lost patience for appraising what we'd just seen. Nowadays, everything gets ranked for posterity the moment the last out is recorded, a phenomenon that tends to do a number on perspective. But in the case of 1975, particularly Game 6, that rush to judgment was perfectly valid.

With the gift of hindsight, I'd give the edge to '91 over '75 ('01 a close third) among World Series that leapt out as Instant Classics. But I don't know that I read anything as unself-consciously spine-tingling in '91 and '01 as that Globe article.

I'd give Peter Gammons a J.G. Taylor Spink Award, too.

MFS62
Jul 29 2005 07:51 PM

We didn't have access to the Globe back then, and ESPN was a dream aborning. So I never had a chance to read the Gammons of that vintage. And if this is a typical example, that is a shame.

But you are right, Gammons bashing emerged as a national sport when he started issuing "rumors" as though they were gospel. I even read recently that some GMs "leak" weird trade rumors to him, just to relish in the flak he'll get when they don't happen.

But my basic impression of him still stands. He knows:
The Red Sox very well
The AL East well
The AL fairly well
and he has no idea of what's going on in the National League.
Maybe if the Braves had stayed in Boston...

But I have to give him credit if this is a typical example of what he used to be as a writer.


Later

Frayed Knot
Jul 29 2005 07:56 PM
Edited 1 time(s), most recently on Jul 29 2005 11:35 PM

That's a particularly good piece for those who were too young to remember - or maybe just not into baseball back then - what a great game that was before it ever got to Fisk in the 12th!! In the video-clip recall trend that drives nostalgia these days that game unfortunately gets reduced to that one moment, but it was a classic all night long.

I think it was also a big game in baseball history. The sport was in a downturn as the '60s turned into the '70s and it was the '75 World Series in general and that game in particular which gave it a kick start on its way to revived popularity.

Johnny Dickshot
Jul 29 2005 08:03 PM

Dad let me stay up for that one -- what I recall was how black the sky was (that coulda been the b/w TV).

Valadius
Jul 29 2005 11:08 PM

Gammons is being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

::shivers::

TheOldMole
Jul 30 2005 08:48 AM

Thinking of other classic pieces of baseball writing, in particular Damon Runyon:

]

“This is the way old Casey Stengel ran yesterday afternoon, running his home run home. This is the way old Casey Stengel ran, running his home run home in a Giant victory by a score of 5 to 4 in the first game of the world’s series of 1923. This is the way old [he was 34] Casey Stengel ran, running his home run home…

This is the way--His mouth wide open. His warped old legs bending beneath him at every strike. His arm flying back and forth like those of a man swimming with a crawl stroke. His flanks heaving, his breath whistling, his head far back…

The warped old legs, twisted and bent by many a year of baseball campaigns just barely held out under Casey Stengel until he reached the plate, running his home run home.

Then they collapsed."

TheOldMole
Jul 30 2005 08:55 AM

And maybe the best ever...[url=http://www.newyorker.com/archive/content/?020715fr_archive03]Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu[/url], by John Updike

G-Fafif
Jul 30 2005 02:30 PM

[url]http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio?show=HARDCOVER:NEW:0151008248:25.00&page=excerpt[/url]

Roger Angell. Best. Baseball writer. Ever. Even in spring training. Full excerpt click above. Here's a taste:


]The Mets went ahead, 3-2, in the sixth inning, on two Yankee errors, two walks, and Zimmer's single. After that, the St. Petersburg fans began a nervous, fingers-crossed cry of "Keep it up, Mets!" and welcomed each put-out with shouts of incredulity and relief. In the ninth, though, the Mets' second pitcher, a thin young left-hander named Al Jackson, up this year from Columbus, gave up four singles and the tying run after Neal messed up a double play. With the winning runs on base, Stengel showed how much he wanted this game for his team, for he came out to the mound and relieved Jackson. (Pitchers are almost never yanked in mid-inning in spring training.) The relief man, Howie Nunn, retired Blanchard on a pop behind second for the last out. More wonders followed. Joe Christopher, another unknown, led off the Mets' ninth with a triple, and after Zimmer had fouled out, Stengel looked into his closet of spare parts, which is far less well stocked than his old Yankee cornucopia, and found Ashburn there. Richie hit the first pitch into right field for the ball game, and George Weiss nodded his head, stood up in his box, and smiled for the first time today.

I doubt whether any of the happy six thousand-odd filing out of Al Lang Field after the game were deluding themselves with dreams of a first-division finish for the Mets this year. The team is both too old and too young for sensible hopes. Its pitchers will absorb some fearful punishment this summer, and Elio Chacon and Neal have yet to prove that they can manage the double play with any consistency. Still, the Mets will be playing in the same league with the Houston Colt .45s, another newborn team of castoffs, and with the Phillies, who managed to finish forty-six games out of first place last year and will have eight more games this year in which to disimprove that record. The fight for the National League cellar this summer may be as lively as the fight for the pennant. What cheered me as I tramped through the peanut shells and discarded programs and out into the hot late sunlight was not just the score and not just Casey's triumph but a freshly renewed appreciation of the complexity and balance of baseball. Offhand, I can think of no other sport in which the world's champions, one of the great teams of its era, would not instantly demolish inferior opposition and reduce a game such as the one we had just seen to cruel ludicrousness. Baseball is harder than that; it requires a full season, hundreds and hundreds of separate games, before quality can emerge, and in that summer span every home-town fan, every doomed admirer of underdogs, will have his afternoons of revenge and joy.

G-Fafif
Jul 30 2005 02:39 PM

]

“This is the way old Casey Stengel ran yesterday afternoon, running his home run home. This is the way old Casey Stengel ran, running his home run home in a Giant victory by a score of 5 to 4 in the first game of the world’s series of 1923. This is the way old [he was 34] Casey Stengel ran, running his home run home…

This is the way--His mouth wide open. His warped old legs bending beneath him at every strike. His arm flying back and forth like those of a man swimming with a crawl stroke. His flanks heaving, his breath whistling, his head far back…

The warped old legs, twisted and bent by many a year of baseball campaigns just barely held out under Casey Stengel until he reached the plate, running his home run home.

Then they collapsed."


Old Mole,

Runyonesque homage was paid recently at Faith and Fear in a review of events that defined the third sixth of the season:

[url]http://mets2005.myblogsite.com/blog/_archives/2005/7/4/994489.html[/url]


]
Most Runyonesque* Episode
1. This is the way old "Marlon" Anderson ran last month, running his home run home. This is the way old "Marlon" Anderson ran running his home run home in a Met victory by a score of 5 to 3 in the second game of an interleague series in 2005. This is the way old "Marlon" Anderson ran, running his home run home, when there was one out in the ninth inning and the score was Angels 2 Mets 1 and the ball was still bounding inside the Met yard. This is the way --

2. His mouth wide open. His warped old legs bending beneath him at every stride. His arms flying back and forth like those of a man swimming with a crawl stroke. His flanks heaving, his breath whistling, his head far back.

3. Angel infielders, passed by old "Marlon" Anderson as he was running his home run home, say "Marlon" was muttering to himself, adjuring himself to greater speed as a jockey mutters to his horse in a race, that he was saying: "Go on, Marlon! Go on!" People generally laugh when they see old "Marlon" Anderson run, but they were not laughing when he was running his home run home last month. People -- 34,000 of them, men and women -- were standing in the Met stands and bleachers out there in Flushing roaring sympathetically, whether they were for or against the Mets. "Come on, Marlon!" The warped old legs, twisted and bent by many a year of baseball campaigns, just barely held out under "Marlon" Anderson until he reached the plate, running his home run home. Then they collapsed.

4. They gave out just as old "Marlon" Anderson slid over the plate in his awkward fashion with Jose Molina futilely reaching for him with the ball. "Larry" Young, the Major League umpire, poised over him in a set pose, arms spread wide to indicate that old "Marlon" was safe.

5. Half a dozen Mets rushed forward to help "Marlon" to his feet, to hammer him on the back, to bawl congratulations in his ears as he limped unsteadily, still panting furiously, to the bench where Willie L. Randolph, the chief of the Mets, relaxed his stern features to smile for the man who had tied the game. "Marlon" Anderson's warped old legs, neither of them broken not so long ago, wouldn't carry him out for the top half of the next inning when the Angels made a dying effort to undo the damage done by "Marlon." His place in the lineup was taken by "Braden" Looper, whose legs are still unwarped, and "Marlon" sat on the bench with Willie Randolph.


The caveat:


]*A classic play deserves a classic description. Damon Runyon penned this account of Casey Stengel's game-winning inside-the-park homer in the 1923 World Series when the Giants took on the Yankees. Eighty-two years hence, only the salient facts have been altered.

Valadius
Jul 30 2005 04:55 PM

My favorite sportswriter ever:

The late, great, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.

He was an absolute genius, definitely the most entertaining writer I've ever read. His articles on the Super Bowl, discussing football with Nixon, and his later work on ESPN.com are uproariously funny.

The best piece of sports journalism I've read in a long time:

Tom Verducci's "I Was A Toronto Blue Jay" for Sports Illustrated. Amazing work.

G-Fafif
Jul 31 2005 02:52 PM

[url]http://premium.si.cnn.com/pr/subs/siexclusive/2005/pr/subs/siexclusive/07/27/the.veeks0801/index.html[/url]

Here's two cents for Gary Smith of Sports Illustrated as one of the best active writers in the game. His article in the current issue (August 1) on Mike Veeck and his 13-year-old daughter Rebecca who has lost almost all of her sight. Here is a most priceless quote from the girl:

]The world is stupid, so stupid -- it fights and kills over land. I look at a baseball field, and I see this piece of land that's everybody's land. And every field I see has a piece of my family in it. I know this sounds corny, but I see my grandfather out there walking on the grass on his peg leg. I see this place where you can run and be a child somewhere besides your own home. And who made this place that way? My dad! I love him for that.


Smith also wrote some tremendous stuff during the McGwire-Sosa chase and a pretty good followup after the steroid revelations.

TheOldMole
Jul 31 2005 04:03 PM

Bill Veeck had an ashtray built into his artificial leg, and he loved to freak out strangers by pulling it out and knocking his cigar ash into it.

That's a great quote, G-F. I'll pick up the issue.

soupcan
Jul 31 2005 08:09 PM

Favorite sportswriter of mine was the late great Jim Murray of the L.A Times.

Talk about painting a word picture - the guy was blind in his later days and still covering events and spitting out weekly columns.

I read everything he wrote, whether it be about baseball, horse racing or Chinese ping-pong. He was that good.

Frayed Knot
Jul 31 2005 10:30 PM

[u:c771d04709]Gammons[/u:c771d04709]: He may already have been a bit gossipy by nature, but I think part of the problem isn't so much his writing but that his TV gig - what most people know him from - encourages him to go all football-like and predict trades and outcomes and then fans get pissed off at him for "misleading" them when his words don't come true.

[u:c771d04709]Gary Smith[/u:c771d04709]: There's a book out containing some of his collected S.I. writings (a year or 2 old). I forget the name but it's worth a look if you're a fan. Between his writing style and the subjects he comes up with some of those stories are just stunning.

[u:c771d04709]Jim Murray[/u:c771d04709]:
- On the Indy 500: 'Gentlemen, start your coffins'
- On soccer: 'I'd give you the final score, but there wasn't one'

Edgy DC
Jul 31 2005 11:40 PM

Sparky Anderson said something about Pete Rose saying during the game how fantastic it was.

Easy to forget that Gary Nolan started one of the otherwise most memorable games ever. The Red Machine had some forgettable pitching, huh?

I think Ron Darling claimed to not only have been at that one, but that the Carbo homer had landed a row in front of him in his centerfield seat. I may mis-remember that claim, but I always wanted to try and spot him if I caught a re-broadcast of that game.