Friday, November 02, 2007

10 libraries

Thanks to a new e-mail newsletter service from Carnegie-Stout Public Library, I was able to learn which Iowa libraries have copies of my Red Faber biography.

There are 10 of them. Some, such as Dubuque and Cascade, where Faber once lived, are naturals. So too for Loras College, which houses the Center for Dubuque History and which named one of its athletic fields after Faber.

I'm proud that both libraries of the State Historical Society of Iowa (in Des Moines and Iowa City) also have the book.

Regarding some of the remaining libraries, I don't see a Faber connection -- but apparently they have an appreciation for Iowa history, and I commend them for their remarkably good judgment.

Anyway, here are the Iowa libraries with the biography in their collections:

  • Iowa State University, Ames
  • Cascade Public Library
  • Cresco Public Library
  • Des Moines Public Library
  • State Historical Society of Iowa Library, Des Moines
  • Carnegie-Stout Public Library, Dubuque
  • Loras College Library, Dubuque
  • State Historical Society of Iowa Library , Iowa City
  • Manchester Public Library
  • Pleasant Hill Public Library

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It was 90 years ago today (well, Monday)

The timing was coincidental, but it was fitting that I presented my Red Faber slideshow to the Cascade Lions Club on Monday.

Monday, Oct. 15, 2007, marked exactly the 90th anniversary of the Chicago White Sox' clinching victory the 1917 World Series.

The winning pitcher in that final game -- Game 6 -- was Urban "Red" Faber, native of Cascade. In fact, Faber was the pitching hero of the series, winning three games (a record for a six-game series).

Facing the New York Giants, Faber won Game 2, lost Game 4, won Game 5 in relief and then, after a travel day, turned around and won Game 6 in a complete-game clincher.

Things were quiet in Cascade on Monday, when the Lions heard my presentation, based on my biography, and then toured the newly reopened Faber wing of the Tri-County Historical Museum. The community was much livelier 90 years ago that evening, after news of the Cascade boy's accomplishments arrived at the telegraph office.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Favorable review

When I noticed that the newest edition of the Society for American Baseball Research's Deadball Era Committee newsletter included a review of my Red Faber biography, I held my breath.

SABR membership roll is full researchers, historians and sticklers for detail and accuracy. What would the reviewer think?

I exhaled when I got to the end of Les Masterson's review. He was quite generous.

Here is the review, in PDF format. It begins on Page 5.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Faber exhibit open for business

Independence Day 2007 marked the official opening of the renovated Red Faber exhibit at the Tri-County Historical Museum in Cascade, Iowa. Immediately after Cascade's July 4, the ribbon-cutting ceremony and exhibit opening enjoyed a strong turnout.

Cascade native Don Crawford, 92, who in October 1933 played in an exhibition game with Red Faber (the last competitive game in which Faber appeared) , cuts the ribbon to open the renovated Faber exhibit. At right is Lee Simon, historical society member and driving force behind the museum project.

Baseball and local history fans line up to enter the Faber exhibit. I estimate that 150-200 people came in during the first two hours.

Don Crawford, now of Des Moines, poses with another Cascade native, Gary Dolphin, "Voice of the Iowa Hawkeyes." Dolphin donated to the museum a simulated radio broadcast of the last half-inning of the 1917 World Series, when Red Faber of the White Sox closed out the New York Giants.

Most of the exhibit features photographs -- of Faber, his teammates (including the Black Sox), Hall of Fame opponents and other baseball notables of the era. Other features include Faber memorabilia; the most recent item came in as the museum opened -- the loan of a baseball that Faber autographed at the same October 1933 exhibition in which Crawford played!

If you would like to see the Faber exhibit, it might be wise to check ahead first. Regular hours are Sunday afternoons during baseball season, or by appointment (563-852-3589).

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Faber exhibit a hit

I had the privilege of attending Monday's private preview of the Tri-County County Historical Society's new and improved Red Faber exhibit.

The official opening of the exhibit is Wednesday (Independence Day) morning, after the parade in Cascade.

The exhibition room exceeded my expectations. It's organized well, features beautiful specially made display cases, memorabilia and dozens of photos provided by the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. The instigator of the project was Lee Simon (at right in this photo), who, with Mary Lee Hostert (above) were extremely supportive of my Faber biography project.

Two of the features are audio: Gary Dolphin's simulation play-by-play broadcast of the 1917 World Series' conclusion, and Faber's brief and modest acceptance speech upon his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1964.

Fans of baseball and local history should pay the museum a visit. Regular hours are on Sunday afternoons.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Improved Faber exhibit in Cascade taking shape

Volunteers are working feverishly to finish the building renovation and displays for the new Red Faber exhibit at the Tri-County Historical Society's museum in Cascade, Iowa.

If all goes as planned, the exhibit will open on Independence Day.

Lee Simon is heading the project, which moves the Faber exhibit to the ground floor of the museum, 608 Second Ave. SW. It will feature more photographs, more Faber memorabilia and even a simulated radio play-by-play of the final half-inning of the 1917 World Series, where Faber shut down the New York Giants to secure the championship for the Chicago White Sox. The play-by-play is provided by sportscaster Gary Dolphin, a Cascade native and Voice of the Iowa Hawkeyes.

The historical society has invited me, as Faber's biographer, to take part in the re-opening the morning of July 4 by autographing copies of the book. With pleasure!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Faber to be topic at symposium

Folks interested in Iowa history and in baseball might want to check out a two-day symposium at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Aug. 17-18 in West Branch, Iowa.

"Farm Team: Iowa's Contributions to Baseball," will open at 1 p.m. Friday, August 17 with a panel discussion entitled, "Hard Ball: Memories of Life in the Major Leagues," featuring former catchers Bruce Kimm and Bob Oldis, umpire Don Denkinger and former Negro Leagues player Art Pennington.

I'm honored to be part of the lineup. I've been asked to discuss the Hall of Fame career of Dubuque County native Red Faber. at 10 a.m. Saturday, August 18.

Other programs include the Rise of the Midwest League and fall of the Three-I League (of which Dubuque was once a member), African-Americans' influence on baseball, Rudy Laskowski and the Keokuk Kernels of 1952-53, Ozzie Smith and the Clarinda Cardinals, development of the baseball cartoon, Ray Doan (the P.T. Barnum of Baseball), Iowa's historic ballfields, 19th century lithographs and photos, barnstorming teams, the Iowa state baseball championship of 1870, an all-time, all-Iowa team, Cal McVey, Iowa's first pro baseball player, and a look at the recent making of the movie, "The Final Season."

For more information about the seminar, contact the Herbert Hoover Museum 319-643-5301. Registration is required and the cost is $25.

Monday, June 18, 2007

This Moe no Stooge

Red Faber (left), Moe Berg and Chuck Comiskey

I was in Carnegie-Stout Library over my lunch hour today, working on some baseball research (for the Tri-County Historical Museum) when another patron, a man in his mid-20s to early 30s, spied baseball photos spread on the desk in front of me.

He mentioned that he had just finished reading a book about Moe Berg. He asked if I had heard of Moe Berg.

Indeed I had. Berg is one of the most interesting, intelligent and complex men to have ever worn the uniform. Just a backup catcher for the Chicago White Sox and some other major league teams over 15 seasons, Berg was a genius and a spy for the U.S. Government. He is the subject of at least two biographies.

Berg and Red Faber, the subject of my biography, were teammates on the White Sox from 1927 through 1930.

A player of modest abilities, it was said of Moe Berg, "He could speak seven languages -- but couldn't hit in any of 'em." That wasn't exactly true. He knew 12 languages.

(Photo courtesy of the Tri-County Historical Society, Cascade, Iowa)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Faber program Saturday afternoon

After being snowed out of a public presentation Wednesday (Dubuque County-Key City Genealogy Society), I am next scheduled to present my Red Faber slideshow and sign books 1 p.m. Saturday, April 14, at Borders bookstore, Kennedy Mall in Dubuque.

I plan to be there until 3 p.m. Hope to see you there!

Deadball book subject of web interview

David Jones, editor of Deadball Stars of the American League, which includes my chapter of Red Faber, on Thursday was interviewed by Casey Stern on Radio on Thursday. The 10-minute interview was archived. Though Faber, a spitball pitcher was not mentioned, Jones and Stern do discuss the spitball and its impact on the game.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

He saw Red pitch

One of the unintended benefits of my Red Faber biography project is hearing from people who have their own stories and connections to Faber or the White Sox. On Thursday, for example, I received an e-mail from a great-nephew of Red's second wife, Fran. During my research, I was unable to locate any of her relatives.

It was been nearly 74 years since Faber pitched his last Major League Baseball game. He retired at age 45 after the 1933 season, when he was the majors' oldest player.

Thus, I was pleasantly surprised Saturday when I received an e-mail from someone who saw Faber pitch one of his last games. Merrill Smith Jr., the son of a former Dubuque sportswriter and Guttenberg (Iowa) editor, contacted me after reading the Faber biography. Now in his early 80s, and living in Florida, he shared a story of own:

In 1933 I was 8 years old and went to the world's fair in Chicago. But the real highlight of the trip was that August 18-inning game between the Sox and the Yankees. I never believed the game was stopped because of darkness. It was really stopped because the Yanks had to catch the train.

I don't know about the train aspect, but it is true that on Aug. 21 1933, the White Sox and Yankees played 18 innings before the game was declared a 3-3 tie. After 4 hours and 11 minutes of play - remember, there were no night games in Chicago yet, and the contest started about 3 p.m. - visibility might well have been a factor.

I looked up accounts of that game. Some other interesting features that day:

  • The Yankees broke a scoreless contest with a run in the top of the ninth inning. The White Sox scored in the bottom of the ninth to send the contest into extra innings.

  • The Yankees scored twice in the 11th - and the White Sox again matched them in the bottom of the frame.

  • Over all 18 innings, neither team committed an error.

  • Faber, soon to turn 45, pitched seven scoreless innings and game up only two hits.

  • The game featured no fewer than TEN future Hall-of-Famers, not including Babe Ruth, who sat out with an injury. (Yankees: Pennock, Lazzeri, Dickey, Gehrig and Sewell. White Sox: Dykes, Simmons, Appling, Lyons and Faber.) Pitcher Ted Lyons' contribution was as a pinch-hitter in the 11th inning.

What a great game for any fan - let alone an 8-year-old boy -- to attend!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

This could be expensive

I was honored to be invited to a local Meet the Authors night hosted by the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque. For details, click on the graphic above. I'll be signing my biography of Red Faber.

Looking over the list of the nearly three dozen authors who will participate, I saw that I own several of the books already. However, there are many other books I have yet to acquire. And with the authors present to autograph? Impulse buying might run rampant. It could prove to be a very expensive evening for me.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The (well, some) reviews are in

In the few months since the Faber biography was released, I have received some nice comments from some tri-state folks and Faber relatives and acquaintances. However, what about other readers? I heard that some reviews had been posted on, so I held my breath and looked them up.


The three reviews were quite favorable. (You didn't think I'd mention this if they weren't, did you?) That scorecard could change, of course, but for now the early comments have been quite gratifying.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Red whited-out

My Red Faber presentation and book-signing was dealt an icy blow this afternoon. Wintry weather – with a blizzard warning issued – doomed my appearance at the Borders bookstore in Dubuque.

The only thing that could have made it worse would have been having no one show up while the weather was perfect.

Anyway, I scraped the thin layer of ice off the windshield, drove the few blocks to Borders and faced the expected – zero attendance. Actually, it wasn’t a total shutout. Gary Gansemer, an acquaintance of many years and a White Sox fan, showed up to have me sign the book he bought at Borders a few days earlier. We ended up talking about Faber, the White Sox and baseball research for the balance of the hour. A fun way to spend a snowy afternoon.

The folks at Borders want to have me back – probably in April. The weather will be better then – won’t it?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Another book

It is not that I am a prolific writer. Far from it! However, it has happened that for the second time in four months, I have a new book on the market.

Actually, this time I am just one of many authors who contributed to Deadball Stars of the American League, a compilation of mini-biographies of standouts in the first two decades of the so-called "junior circuit."

I contributed the condensed biography of Urban "Red" Faber, who is the subject of my full biography released in November by McFarland & Co.

The title refers to the period in baseball prior to 1920, when the composition of the baseball, the rules and, not coincidentally, the transition from "small-ball" to "long-ball" strategy changed the nature of the game.

Edited by David Jones, the AL Deadball book is the companion to Deadball Stars of the National League, which was released three years ago.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Public radio interviews

On Friday, I experienced role reversal. Instead of being the journalist/interviewer, I was the interviewee.

Rob Dillard, of Iowa Public Radio, interviewed me in Des Moines concerning my Red Faber biography. Rob is a fan of the game and its history, and his questions reflected that background.

A broadcast time for the segment has not been set.

Meanwhile, on Feb. 7, I will be interviewed on "About Books" on WVIK, the public radio station on the campus of Augustana College, Rock Island, Ill. (90.3 FM in the Quad Cities and 95.7 FM in Dubuque.) My interviewer will be Faye Clow of the Bettendorf Public Library.

On the road again

Three weeks after making a couple of Chicago-area presentations about Red Faber, I will be back in Chicago to promote my biography of Faber and to promote Chicago baseball history.

This event is the White Sox FanFest, at the Palmer House. I will be helping a former high school classmate promote his major project, creating a Chicago Baseball Museum, by working a shift at the museum's booth. Meanwhile, I hope to sell a few copies of the Faber book available and make some contacts for my Ray Schalk project.

I don't have much feel for how productive this trip will be, but I'm overdue for a visit to downtown Chicago anyway.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Chicago presentations Saturday/Deadball photos

I will be presenting two slide shows on Red Faber in the Chicago area on Saturday, Jan. 6.

Grayslake Historical Society
9 am Saturday, Jan. 6
State Bank of the Lakes community room
50 Commerce Drive
Grayslake, IL

Chicago Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research
1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 6
Roden Branch/Chicago Public Library system
6083 Northwest Highway
Chicago, IL

Books will be available for sale. If you are in the Chicago area on Saturday, I hope to see you there.

MEANWHILE, here is a link to a YouTube slideshow featuring photos from baseball's "Deadball Era." Though Faber is not shown, there are plenty of Chicago photos (as well as one of the great Honus Wagner). Note what access the news photographers received during game action.