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VP of Operations

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Date: Dec 10, 2010
Stocking my Baseball Library
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One of the true joys of playing Strat-O-Matic Baseball has to be learning about the rich history of the National Pastime.

Whenever I start a season replay, I always delve into the books.  I want to know not just the stats, but the people.  And the context.  Always the context.

When I started my replays of the earliest seasons, I felt I needed to learn how the game was played, and why.

That curiosity became a passion, as I learned more of the links between past and present.  The history of the game is like a huge tapestry, interconnected at many key junctures, as well as many out-of-way places like the clubhouse of the perennially last-place St. Louis Browns.

Managers taught their players.  Those players, in many cases, went on to become managers, coaches or scouts.  There is a continuity, much as football talks up the various coaching "family trees."

I've always felt that the first book in anyone's baseball library should probably be Lawrence Ritter's classic, The Glory of Their Times.  We owe more to that tome than possibly any other, except perhaps the original MacMillan Baseball Encyclopedia.

As the story goes, back in the '50's, Ritter was troubled by the lack of a recorded history from the earliest pioneers of the great game.  He spent much time, trying to find as many of the remaining voices of that bygone era as he could.

He and his son lugged his "portable" tape recorder all over the country, recording these monumental narratives.

Ritter then went to work, bringing together his seminal masterpiece.  Editing out his own questions from the transcript, and with a minimal amount of tinkering, he was able to allow these legends present their own stories.  And what stories they are.

My personal favorite is "Wahoo" Sam Crawford, as he reminisced of his home town (Wahoo) getting its first street light.  He was there to see it!

He talked of getting the town team together, hitching the mule to the wagon, and riding off to the next town to play their nines.  This is not just baseball history...it's part of the history of our nation.

Many of these players were first or second-generation immigrants.  They worked on farms, in the mines.  Then, at the end of a long day, they played ball.  They played for town teams, or company teams.

If a good player got lucky, someone who knew someone might send a telegram, telling of a great find.  A return message might come with an offer of a tryout.  There were no drafts, no intricate farm systems (though they would come, soon enough).

Many years later, someone finally got the bright idea to take the best of the interviews -- still on tape at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown -- digitally clean them up, and release them as part of a four-CD collection.  Now, you can actually hear Crawford tell his tale, a magical voice from the past.

You can hear former Giants' catcher John "Chief" Meyers, one of the great early Native American stars, talk about how -- decades later -- America had yet to come to grips with the treatment of minorities.

But, there are so many highlights, I could gush all day.

You can listen to Smokey Joe Wood, Lefty O'Doul, Davy Jones (telling of how much Crawford and Cobb hated each others' guts!), Rube Marquard, Billy Wambsganss, Goose Goslin.  Hear Fred Snodgrass tell the delightful story of Charles Victory Faust.

They talk of Cobb, and Matty.  Rough and tumble John McGraw.  And so much more.

You hear these legends -- many were giants (and Giants) of the game, the creaking sound of rocking chairs.  You hear the rumble of air conditioners.

You are there, in the midst of history.  Even more poignant, because the original interviews themselves are now more than 50 years old.

Not all of the book's wealth of interviews are represented in the CD collection, but there are plenty.

In my mind, Ritter managed to produce perhaps the most important baseball book ever written.  Read it, then realize how much we might have lost forever, had it not been for his moment of divine inspiration.



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"No cell, no car, no credit cards, he's sixty-plus and gray...
Just sitting in his basement, with a Strat game underway."



VP of Operations

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Date: Dec 10, 2010
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Collectors of historical documents often pay small (or large) fortunes, to gain possession of those treasures.  They are rare and often one-of-a-kind.

I picked up a pretty neat book at Barnes and Nobles a year ago.  It's a slipcased volume called the Treasures of Major League Baseball.

It was published by Metro Books, and features replicas of many really cool bits of baseball memorabilia.

This has actually been a craze in the printing industry the past few years.  The idea of creating these volumes on topics as varied as World War II, American history, the space program, rock stars.

In Treasures of Major League Baseball, there are a series of brief entires about the various eras of baseball -- starting with the 1800's -- with packaged enclosures.

The 1800's enclosures include a replica of original diagrams and a cover note from Albert Spalding, "The American Origin of the National Game of Base Ball," as well as a replica of a souvenir photo card of the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings.

The first decade of the 1900's includes replica T-206 baseball cards and postcards of Mordecai Brown, Frank Chance and Johnny Evers.

An article about walkoff home runs in World Series history is accompanied by a reproduction of a 2004 World Series ticket from Game Four.

One of the really neat items comes in the section about the 1910's.  It's a reproduction of the blueprints for Comiskey Park.

The next segment is a piece about collectibles, in general, and features a reproduction of the famous T-206 Honus Wagner card.

A chapter about the Babe Ruth Yankees is accompanied by a copy of a check from Yankee President Jacob Ruppert, in the amount of $25,000, to the Boston Red Sox.

The back has the replica signature of Boston owner Harry Frazee.  Also included is a copy of a letter from the Babe to the editor of the school newspaper of Central High School in Philadelphia and a (again, a replica) signed photo of Ruth and a young child, from Oriole Park (Baltimore), dated May 2, 1930.

Other items include a copy of the letter Lou Gehrig sent to his wife, the day after he removed himself from the Yankee lineup; a replica of a diary and daily planner from 1946, belonging to Ty Cobb; and a copy of the letter President Roosevelt sent to Commissioner Landis, telling him he could proceed with the 1942 season, despite the War.

A section about the Negro Leagues has a replica of a poster, advertising a doubleheader at the Polo Grounds between the New York Cuban Stars and the Newark Eagles.  Pictured are Ray Dandridge, Terri McDuffie, Juan Vargas and Imro Barnhill.

Also included is a replica ticket for a bleacher seat ($1) for the 1946 National Colored All-Star Baseball Classic at Comiskey Park.  And a copy of the retirement letter Jackie Robinson sent to Horace Stoneham (on Chock Full o' Nuts company stationary).

In the letter, Robinson stated that his retirement had nothing to do with his trade to the Giants, and that he had heard nothing but good things about the Giants' organization.

A copy of Russ Hodges' scorecard from the '51 playoff accompanies the article about the 1950's.

Branch Rickey's typed scouting report of Don Drysdale is replicated, and enclosed with a reprinting of Drysdale's 1965 Topps baseball card.

A reproduction of Roberto Clemente's ordering history with Louisville Slugger, and a copy of the scorecard from the game Clemente collected his 3,000th are included with an article about the great outfielders.

Copies of the scorecards from Game One of the 1988 World Series, and a copy of the section of the script from Field of Dreams when Terrence Mann (James Earl Ray) gives his "People will come, Ray," speech accompany a section about '80's baseball.

There's also a copy of one of Hank Aaron's contracts with the Hillerich and Bradsby Co., with a section cut out that featured Aaron's signature, so the company could brand it onto his bats.

In the final section is a bit about the first World Baseball Classic, featuring replica tickets from both semi-final games and the championship game.  Also included are copies of the rosters from the U.S. and Japanese teams.

Obviously, the originals are well beyond the monetary means of most of us.  But, to be able to handle even replicas of such important documents is a joy.



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"No cell, no car, no credit cards, he's sixty-plus and gray...
Just sitting in his basement, with a Strat game underway."



VP of Operations

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Date: Dec 13, 2010
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One of the best books about the Negro Leagues I have in my baseball library is Black Baseball's National Showcase: The East-West All-Star Games, 1933-1953.

The book is published by The University of Nebraska Press.  They had just marked it down to $19.97.

It's a large trade paperback, 500 pages, and would have been well-worth the full $39.95 price.  It's an absolute steal at half that.

Showcase
was researched and written by Larry Lester, the co-founder and former director of research for the Negro League Baseball Museum.

Lester has reconstructed all the details and compiled accurate statistical data for this series of games that rivaled Major League Baseball's own mid-summer classic for the level of talent and excitement.

Included are the box scores, and even the tallies for the leading vote getters.  Newspaper reports are also featured, and each "year" is led by a look at the news of the day, and a summary of league business.

The back of the book features a wondrous addendum, which includes East-West All-Star trivia, a list of all future Major Leaguers who played in the games, and complete stats for every player who ever played in an East-West Game, as well as single-game and career East-West statistical leaders.  Even the financial statements for the last 11 games are included.

Totally awesome!  And a welcome addition to the Negro League section of my baseball library.

But, wait!  That's not all!

UNP also publishes a wide range of books on many different topics.  And, they publish SABR research materials, of which many have been in their Bargain Books listings.

Some of their research journals were just $1.50, the last time I looked, while there are also memoirs from the likes of Rabbit Maranville and Bill Werber, and John Montgomery Ward's Ward's Baseball Book.  One book I already have: Uncle Robby, by Jack Kavanaugh, and it was invaluable to my 1920 replay.

If you go to look, check out Bargain Books, and go through the category listing.  Be sure to remember that there are separate listings for "Baseball" and "SABR."

There's more!

The bargain books are just a small part of their overall baseball listings.  They have Charles Alexander's bio of John McGraw; the Satchel Paige memoir Maybe I'll Pitch Forever; Christy Mathewson's Pitching in a Pinch; Sol White's History of Colored Baseball with Other Documents on the Early Black Game, 1886–1936; and so much more.  I could go bankrupt here, just thinking about it all.  Those are just some that I have.

Check it out.  Here's the link to their website:

http://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/pages/about_contact.aspx



-- Edited by seajaw on Monday 13th of December 2010 12:31:36 PM

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Just sitting in his basement, with a Strat game underway."



Third Base Coach

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Date: Dec 15, 2010
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thanks for the heads up seajaw . books are 75% off right now , i picked up 3 for less than $10 total .

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No-hitters- Ray Culp , Freddy Garcia , Phil Ortega , Scott Kazmir , Needle Nose Wright , A.J. Griffin , Carlos Torres , Stan Bahnsen , Mario Soto

Perfect games - Jamie Moyer , J. R. Richard , Sandy Koufax



VP of Operations

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Date: Dec 15, 2010
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stargell8 wrote:

thanks for the heads up seajaw . books are 75% off right now , i picked up 3 for less than $10 total .



Great!  I actually wrote that piece a while back, and hadn't made it back to the U of N site it quite some time.

Glad to hear the shopping's still good.



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"No cell, no car, no credit cards, he's sixty-plus and gray...
Just sitting in his basement, with a Strat game underway."



Luxury Box Season Ticket Holder

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Date: Dec 15, 2010
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I totally agree with you seadawg about using books in conjuction with your cards and dice playing.

I have an encyclopedia of world series thru 2005 that I use often when replaying world series matchups. I also have a book called Cooperstown that has short biographys of all the HOF'ers that is fun to look at while using the HOF2010 set.

And just the other day I picked 'Real Grass, Real Hero's-1941' by Dom Dimagio for 1 BUCK! with the intent of getting me motivated to open up my 41' season cards for a replay this spring. I havent opened them because I am only familar with the stars of that era so I hope to learn more about the average players of the day before diving in.



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VP of Operations

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I have always used different books to help create a more complete learning experience as I play.

I plan, over time, to re-publish the various seasons I have played, and I really need to create a bibliography to go with those seasons, so everyone can see what has spurred me on.

It all helps immensely to bring the games to life!

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"No cell, no car, no credit cards, he's sixty-plus and gray...
Just sitting in his basement, with a Strat game underway."



Luxury Box Season Ticket Holder

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Date: Dec 16, 2010
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Some good information here. I've been thinking about picking up some historical books related to the National Pastime so this will be good reference when standing in the bookstore wondering which I should go with.

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VP of Operations

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jdeszcz wrote:

Some good information here. I've been thinking about picking up some historical books related to the National Pastime so this will be good reference when standing in the bookstore wondering which I should go with.



Don't forget the used book stores.  There are some great bargains to be had.

 



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"No cell, no car, no credit cards, he's sixty-plus and gray...
Just sitting in his basement, with a Strat game underway."



VP of Operations

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Date: Dec 16, 2010
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I have always wanted to keep up my reading as I continue to play, but the amount of time I spend on the gaming and my summary writing tends to push the reading off to the side on occasion.

I was on the topic of the Negro Leagues, so I'll continue there.

I have finally started one book, a history of the California Winter League, the one bastion of (semi-) integrated professional baseball in the United States between 1900 and 1946.

Each off-season, Major League players and Minor League stars would descend on the Golden State, where they could play ball, year 'round.  They would be joined by a team made up of the best of the Negro Leagues.

This book features a complete history of the league, year-by-year, with standings, sample box scores, and team and league leaders.  The California Winter League was a powerhouse in its best years.

Stars the likes of Walter Johnson, Earl Averill, Bob and Irish Meusel, Babe Herman, Smead Jolly, Ping Bodie, Bob Feller, and many others were regulars for at least a few seasons.

Buck Weaver and Lefty Williams also made appearances on the circuit, even after the Black Sox scandal had resulted in their being banned from the ranks of Organized Baseball.

Among the other major stars who made cameo appearances was Babe Ruth, who played three games in 1920.

The league essentially became a showcase for the elite Negro Leaguers, who sent a team each season.  Most years, the schedule was fluid, and pretty-much had all the other clubs taking turns against the Blackball stars, who mopped the floor with the establishment players.

Most of the games pitted the Wilson Elite Giants against the Pirrone All-Stars.  Joe Pirrone ran the league for many of its best years, but he couldn't assemble a white squad that could top the Negro Leaguers.

In '33-'34, for instance, the Pirrone team fielded a lineup that included big leaguers Bill Knickerbocker, Cleo Carlisle, Smead Jolley, Tuck Stainback, Bobo Newsom, Sloppy Thurston, and Larry French.  They were 3-22.

The Negro Leaguers were still segregated on one team, but they had their own home ballpark, and got a chance to show their stuff against representative squads of white players.

Satch Paige was always a huge drawing card (as he was everywhere).  In the '33-'34 season, Paige was an astounding 16-2, 18 CGs, in 20 starts, with a 1.69 ERA, and 245 strikeouts in 172 innings.  His team was 34-8 against the white squads they met.

"Wilson" was Tom Wilson, a Nashville businessman, who assembled the powerhouse Black teams for the trip each season.

You'll drool when you see this lineup Wilson fielded for that season:

CF - Cool Papa Bell
2B - Sam Bankhead
SS - Willie Wells
LF - Turkey Stearnes
1B - Mule Suttles
C - Tommy Dukes
3B - Felton Snow
RF - Bill Wright
P- Satchel Paige, Jim Wilson (14-2 in 19 starts)

One box score details a game Paige pitched against Sloppy Thurston, a one-hit, 17-strikeout, 4-0 victory.


Among the other books about the Negro Leagues that I have, but have yet to crack open, are:

Blackball Stars - Negro League Pioneers.The book features articles about 23 stars of the Negro Leagues, starting with Sol White, a pre- and early-1900's player and chronicler, who wrote one of the first histories of Black baseball.

Most of the players covered will be familiar to fans: Rube Foster, Jose Mendez, Luis Santopp, Oscar Charleston, Martin Dihigo, Judy Johnson.

Others, like Satch Paige and Josh Gibson are not included.  But they are so well-known and have had so much written about them, that one welcomes the time spent on others.

There is also a stats section, East-West All-Star records, and league leaders from the Cuban and Mexican Leagues.

When the Game Was Black and White - The Illustrated History of Baseball's Negro Leagues
, by Bruce Chadwick.

The book is full of team pics, candids, game shots, and photos of ticket stubs, pennants and other memorabilia.

There's even a team photo of an integrated semi-pro team from Bismark, ND, circa 1935, featuring Satchel Paige, Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe, Quincy Troupe and several other African-American ballplayers.  According to the caption, they won the National Semipro Championship.

Ol' Satch certainly got around.  At one time, according to the book, he even pitched for a barnstorming Colored House of David Jewish traveling team, whose players would don fake beards.

Another picture (from 1924) features the Howard University baseball team, side-by side with a Japanese team.  According to the caption, clubs from Japan would play Black teams when they were unable to secure matchups against Major League clubs.

Others:

Beyond the Shadow of the Senators - The Untold Story of the Homestead Grays and the Integration of Baseball
, by Brad Snyder

A Complete History of the Negro Leagues
, by Mark Ribowsky

Invisible Men
, by Don Rogosin

Josh and Satch
, by John Holway

Josh Gibson
, by William Brashear

Only the Ball Was White
, by Robert Peterson

Out of the Shadows
, edited by Bill Kirwin

The Encyclopedia of Negro League Baseball
, by Thom Loverro


There are more that I will mention, in various posts in this thread.



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Just sitting in his basement, with a Strat game underway."



Manager

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Date: Dec 16, 2010
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I would like to apply for a library card in your library.

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Third Base Coach

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A few more good books on the Negro Leagues to add to seajw's list are ,
1. Beyond the Shadows of the Seantors ...about the Homestead Grays
2. The Pittsburgh Crawfords : The Lives and Times of Black Baseball's Most Exciting team ..which is the basis for my current replay .
3. Satch , Dizzy and Rapid Robert ....
4. Shades of Glory ...this is one of my favorites

__________________

Go Bucs !!!

No-hitters- Ray Culp , Freddy Garcia , Phil Ortega , Scott Kazmir , Needle Nose Wright , A.J. Griffin , Carlos Torres , Stan Bahnsen , Mario Soto

Perfect games - Jamie Moyer , J. R. Richard , Sandy Koufax



VP of Operations

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Date: Dec 17, 2010
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stargell8 wrote:

A few more good books on the Negro Leagues to add to seajw's list are ,
1. Beyond the Shadows of the Seantors ...about the Homestead Grays
2. The Pittsburgh Crawfords : The Lives and Times of Black Baseball's Most Exciting team ..which is the basis for my current replay .
3. Satch , Dizzy and Rapid Robert ....
4. Shades of Glory ...this is one of my favorites



Good stuff.

I have Beyond the Shadows... and Satch, Dizzy, and Rapid Robert (which I will get around to later).

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"No cell, no car, no credit cards, he's sixty-plus and gray...
Just sitting in his basement, with a Strat game underway."



VP of Operations

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Date: Dec 17, 2010
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Don't we all  love SABR?

Two noteworthy SABR publications have been the companion books Deadball Stars of the National League and its sister volume, Deadball Stars of the American League.

These books are invaluable for anyone who is contemplating 1911 or 1920 for replay (even 1924, to a degree, as some of the players were still around).

The great stars are gathered by what team they spent most of their careers with, and represented by extended thumbnail bios.  Some have been adapted for use at the SABR Bioproject on-line site (http://bioproj.sabr.org/).

This has become a Golden Age for serious research into the early years of the game.  We have finally gone beyond the old "as told to" format so familiar from our youthful days (mine, anyway -- I'm an old fart).

Those books, largely produced in the pre-Ball Four era, brought us the image of baseball as that wholesome National Pastime, when our heroes were Larger Than Life on the printed page and in the old newsreels.  Television broadcasts were still limited to the Game of the Week.

In more recent years, however, as we learned of such things as drunken carousing, beaver-shooting, Sparky Lyle's unique method of decorating birthday cakes, baseball bios grew up.  Or, at least, became more mature reading (if not more mature).

But a number of writers have been doing serious research into the history of the game and the players, and that has resulted in a wellspring of new reading.

Among the foremost of this modern generation of baseball biographers is Charles Alexander, who has produced books on an ever-widening range of baseball luminaries.

As I was involving myself my 1911 and 1920 replays, I read his books on Ty Cobb and John McGraw.  There are others I will add later.

Jack Kavanaugh wrote the bio Uncle Robby for SABR Books, and that became an excellent bookend piece to the McGraw bio.  Those two were teammates, friends, and bitter arch-enemies, before they finally patched things up again.

Kavanaugh also penned the book Ol' Pete, about the great Grover Cleveland Alexander, who became one of the legends of the game even as he dealt with the twin demons of epilepsy and alcoholism.

Philip Seib wrote a wonderful book about Christy Mathewson called The Player: Christy Mathewson, Baseball and the American Century.

The Player tells us not only the story of one of the great early matinee idols (in an era when the game was trying to emerge from the grip of the ruffians), but of the world around him, and how that world was changing.

Matty had to deal with his own demons, dying tragically young from tuberculosis.  Mathewson was one of the game's brightest stars, and fans hung on his every pitch and pronouncement.

As his career faded, he went off to war, with so many others (imagine today's game being populated by literally hundreds of Pat Tillmans, but headed off to Iraq or Afghanistan at the dictates of their government, rather than by choice).

Matty's specialty was in chemical warfare.  His job was to train the frontline troops in how to fight and survive during gas attacks.

In his own training, Mathewson and the others who participated in this program, were actually exposed to small amounts of phosgene gas, mustard gas, tear gas and others that they were told the Germans were using.

In one training accident, Ty Cobb detailed how the signal for the gas release was given improperly, and the soldiers were late getting their masks on.

Cobb related that several soldiers died during this incident, and that Matty told him he got a "good dose of the stuff," and that he felt "terrible."

To make matters worse, Mathewson was stricken with influenza during the trip across the Atlantic.

He was also exposed to lingering traces of the poisonous fumes, while inspecting trenches and ammunition dumps left behind by the retreating German troops.  The already-sicked Matty was especially susceptible.

When he returned home, it was to a world and a game that was changing drastically.

Matty had developed a persistent cough while overseas, and it was eventually diagnosed as tuberculosis.

As was the practice of the day, Matty spent time recovering at the Trudeau Insitute, a sanitarium on the shores of Sarnac Lake.

The Trudeau Institute was named after Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau, a pioneer in the treatment of tuberculosis...and the great-grandfather of Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau!

Stories like this are a part of what makes the Deadball Era so fascinating.  Eddie Grant, the former Cincinnati infielder, was killed on the field of battle.  Many others had their lived changed by that experience.

Alexander's decline can also be traced, in part, to his own battlefield experiences.  The concussive effects of artillery caused damage to his hearing.  Pulling the lanyard to fire the howitzers caused muscle damage to his right arm.

Alex also took shrapnel to his right ear, and suffered from shell-shock.  When the shrapnel was removed, the ear became infected.

Alexander pitched in the Major Leagues another 10 years, several of them noteworthy.

But his decline was certainly hastened by his combat experiences.  The epilepsy became more pronounced, as did the drinking.

It is not entirely out of the realm of possibility that Pete, who finished with 373 wins, might have made it to 400.  Or beyond.

Matty's playing career had already ended, but he missed out on the start of the 1920 season, which -- combined with his illness -- cost him his managerial job with the Reds.  He was just 45 when he passed.

Watching two of the greatest pitchers in the history of the game suffer so, is beyond the experience many modern fans.  Plays are insulated from having to worry about things like taking up arms in defense of the country, unless by choice.

There is so much depth and texture to those early years.  Here's a tip of the cap to the researchers who are making such incredible efforts to bring it all so vividly to life.



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"No cell, no car, no credit cards, he's sixty-plus and gray...
Just sitting in his basement, with a Strat game underway."



Lower Deck - Outfield Ticket

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Date: Dec 17, 2010
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so he was an achoholic?

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