Tag Archives: white sox

Jean Shepherd on New York Baseball Fans, 1963

On the way to work this morning, I listened to a Jean Shepherd radio show from April 1963 in which he discussed the attitude of New York baseball fans in general and Yankees fans in particular. The reason I listen to 50-year-old radio shows is because of how amazingly prescient Shep was, especially when discussing philosophy or commenting on media and show biz. He was no less insightful on the “lesser” topic of sports and fandom.

In this clip, you’ll hear Shep (a Chicago native and lifelong White Sox fan) talk about how nutty the WIN NOW! attitude of New York fans looks to outsiders. He relates the grumbles of a Yankee fan friend who couldn’t stand the thought of his team not winning a pennant in 1959. He also shares memories of a trip to Yankee Stadium with his old pal and fellow Chicagoan Shel Silverstein, when the two of them witnessed Mickey Mantle get booed for the audacity of not hitting a home run that afternoon. Shep provides a passable Shel Silverstein impression to boot.

Shep tops things off with some thoughts on the then-fledgling Mets, the real reason the Dodgers’ and Giants’ move to California was lamented by the press (their gravy train stopped running), and how the New York WIN NOW idea extends to all sports.

I find this fascinating because it is a contemporary account of what fan attitudes and fan experiences were like during the late 1950s and early 1960s. In our cemented memories, this era is rendered in Ken Burns-ian sepiatone nostalgia. But when Shep was speaking, the era was still The Present, and thus could be discussed in an unvarnished way.

When studying most aspects of history we accept that, in order to really understand a time, you have to get as close to contemporary accounts as humanly possible. When it comes to sports, however, we often let ourselves be swayed by myth-making. That makes this Shep clip even more rare, and valuable. I hope you enjoy it.

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Scratchbomb’s Thoroughly Compromised 2011 MLB Preview: AL Central


2010 record: 88-74

Biggest offseason acquisition: Adam Dunn, who hates the game of baseball so much he hits 40 home runs every year without fail.

Biggest offseason loss: Jake Peavey’s fleeting healthiness

What outrageous thing will Ozzie Guillen do this season?: To top previous incidents, it will have to involve farm animals.

Best name on 40-man roster: Jhonny Nunez, currently being sued by Jhonny Peralta for copyright infringement.

The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Juan Pierre, who is apparently still considered employable.

Spring standout: Would you believe me if I told you Lastings Milledge? If not, why would you not believe me? I thought we were friends, bro.

Probable Opening Day starter: Mark Buehrle, who promises to get everyone back on the road in a lean 90 minutes.

Biggest question for 2011: How long can a team run counter to modern baseball thinking and still perform reasonably well?

Strengths: Lineup well suited to home ballpark, willingness to spend stupid money if needed

Weaknesses: Hawk Harrelson

Semi-serious assessment: The loss of Peavey (for however long that lasts) will hurt them, and after Buehrle the pitching staff is not fantastic. But they do have a pretty good bullpen, and a lineup that will hit many homers at their home ballpark (Dunn and Paul Konerko for starters). I would expect them, Detroit, and Minnesota to jockey for first place this summer.

Continue reading Scratchbomb’s Thoroughly Compromised 2011 MLB Preview: AL Central

From the Scratchbomb Annals of Failure: OSS

Perhaps you’ve heard of No Mas. They’re an awesome apparel/art conglomco that focuses on the dark/weird side of sports. They first caught my eye many years ago, when an acquaintance of mine showed up at a local bar wearing this beauty. I enjoy their products because they clearly love sports, but they lack the unblinking reverence for athletes usually found in sporting media. Their favorite figures are guys like Mike Tyson and Doc Gooden, whose obvious and continued personal failings make them much more compelling than the stainless steel heroism of the Derek Jeters of the world.

Earlier this year, No Mas announced a design-a-t-shirt contest, and I immediately had what I thought was a brilliant idea. Many of No-Mas’s t-shirts play on team logos, such as this one, which combines the Padres’ horrid 1980s uni design with another horrid 80s product, Pablo Escoabar. I went a similar route, and decided to combine the cheesy White Sox logo of the mid-80s with the curious case of Moe Berg.

Moe Berg was a backup catcher with an up-and-down major league career in the 1930s. In an era when most ballplayers were nigh-illiterate farmboys, he was an Ivy League educated gentleman who knew several languages and traveled the world. But he’s still remembered nowadays because at the same time he caught in the major leagues, he also worked as a spy for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS, the precursor of the CIA).

Berg even went on major league barnstorming trips to the Far East with superstars he had no business playing with, like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, as a cover for him taking covert photos and film of the Tokyo cityscape. During World War II, his footage aided in planning Pacific bombing raids. He also parachuted behind enemy lines to aid Nazi resistance groups in Yugoslavia, and traveled Europe to interview physicists and convince them to join the American effort to build the atomic bomb.

That’s a life and half right there. I find his story so fascinating that I used it for the jumping point to a novel that I SWEAR I’m going to finish some time this year (it does not actually involve Moe Berg in any way). I thought he deserved to be immortalized in t-shirt form. And he actually played for the White Sox, which made my idea vaguely appropriate.

I slaved over my design, employing all of my Photoshopping skills, and convinced myself that it HAD to win. Just like I convinced myself for every contest I ever entered as a kid. Unfortunately, I was so convinced of my victory that I never bothered to actually send in my entry. I totally forgot about it until the deadline had long since past, and only remembered when I found the files while scouring through my computer this week.

I present the design to you now, so that it may live in some form. In case you’re wondering, Berg played in an era when most players did not have numbers, so the “34” refers to 1934, the year he took his second trip to Japan for spy photography purposes. My question is, if this was an actual t-shirt, would you buy it? If there’s enough interest, I will look into making this an actual thing you can purchase and wear. Warning: The threshold for “enough interest” is probably “one dude”.


Scratchbomb’s Thoroughly Compromised 2010 MLB Preview: AL Central


2009 record: 79-83

Local weather: Broad-shouldered

Namesake: Article of footwear whose color could be changed in an ironic fashion to indicate infamy or shame

Is Hawk Harrelson the biggest tool in all of baseball announcing?: Perhaps, though John Sterling gives him a run for his money.

Perpetually overused team-related headline: Joy of Sox, or Sox Appeal. The thought of A.J. Pierzynski in conjunction with a word that even vaguely sounds like “sex” is vomit-inducing.

Best name on 40-man roster: Stefan Gartrell. Sorry, that’s the fakest last name I’ve heard since Nick Soapdish.

The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Omar Vizquel, who I’m surprised is still on any team at this point. He’s become the Jamie Moyer of shortstops, though he throws harder than Jamie.

Spring standout: Mark Kotsay, batting over .400 and once again proving the complete meaninglessness of spring stats.

Probable Opening Day starter: Mark Buehrle, which means Chicago’s opener will probably clock in at a cool 90 minutes.

Biggest question for 2010: Will Ozzie Guillen’s Twitter account be shut down before it incurs some sort of lawsuit or police action?

Advantage to start the season: Umpires intimidated by roving bags of scumbags in the crowd.

Semi-serious assessment: A full season of Jake Peavey could push them into contention, but I don’t know how likely that is. Their lineup is Paul Konerko, Alexei Ramirez, and not much else, and the bullpen is not much to write home about, either. I foresee a thoroughly meh year on the South Side.
Continue reading Scratchbomb’s Thoroughly Compromised 2010 MLB Preview: AL Central