Sunday, September 21, 2008

Faber clinched pennant 91 years ago today

Boston Globe, Sept. 22, 1917

The blog White Sox Journal reminds us that 91 years ago today (Sept. 21), the Chicagoans wrapped up the American League pennant in dramatic fashion.

Key players for the victors were the subjects of my past and future books.

Ray Schalk, whose biography I am currently writing, hit a double and scored the go-ahead run in the 10th inning in Boston.

Red Faber, the subject of my first book, pitched all 10 innings and ended the game by inducing Babe Ruth to hit into a double play.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Schalk and Faber statue-worthy

Steve on CHICAGO SPORTS LIVE takes issue with the Chicago White Sox' selection of former players to honor with statues at Comiskey Park U.S. Cellular Field.

On his list of players more deserving -- topping it, in fact -- is Ray Schalk.

Schalk, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame on this date 53 years ago, receives short shrift because of his low .253 batting average. Some "experts" don't look past that to consider his other attributes, starting with his defense, his hustle and his handling of pitchers (and, some might say, umpires).

Schalk is in the Hall of Fame and he doesn't need me to make his case. But he caught more than 100 games a year (when the seasons were 140-154 games) for 11 straight years. While being a workhorse, he suffered numerous broken fingers, bruises, etc., and kept at it. Playing hurt that often can't help one's batting average.

Anyway, considering how Schalk is so often overlooked, it is nice to see that Steve remembers.

I would add to his list Ted Lyons and Red Faber, still No. 1 and No. 2 on the Sox' all-time victories list.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Late-inning review

It's been about 16 months since the first copies of my Red Faber biography reached bookstores, so I sort of figured that the time for book reviews had passed.

As usual, I was wrong.

The book recently received a nice write-up in NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture. The journal "seeks to promote the study of all historical aspects of baseball and centers on the cultural implications of the game wherever in the world baseball is played. The Journal reflects an eclectic approach and does not foster a particular ideological bias." It is published by the University of Nebraska Press.

Reviewer Harry Jebsen, a history professor at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, described the biography as "a nicely done, easy-to-follow book on one of the lesser-known residents of the Cooperstown museum."

I'll accept reviews such as those whenever they come.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Faber biography receives surprise nomination

I received a surprise in my e-mail this morning, when I learned that my Red Faber biography is among 10 finalists for the prestigious Larry Ritter Award of the Society for American Baseball Research.

The award honors "the best book published each year, primarily set in or primarily about the deadball era."

The award subcommittee announced the books under consideration. The other nine finalists:

Balloting begins this month, and award is presented at the SABR convention this summer.

You've heard it said, "It was an honor just to be nominated"? Well, that's my feeling here. And it's a surprise to be nominated, because I had no hand in it.

I haven't read the other eight books, but I'm just finishing Macht's biography of Connie Mack, and it's tremendous. (More on that soon.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More images uncovered!

A great-nephew of Red Faber has posted more of the snapshots that Red took on the World Tour of 1913-14, when he was a rookie-to-be with the Chicago White Sox. The pictures were just now uncovered from storage in the home of another relative.

I suspect that someone using Red's camera snapped the top one. It appears that the man seated in the middle of the front row (not looking at the camera) is Red himself.

The entourage also visited the Great Pyramids and sphinx.

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Click here to see the rest of the images.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Who are these guys?

A distant relative of Red Faber recently reconnected with some snapshots that Red apparently took when he was on the World Tour of 1913-14.

He sent me this photo, looking for help with identifications. Aside from the fact that Red is not in the photo (I'd assume he was taking the photo), and it appears that we have two Chicago White Sox players and one member of the New York Giants, I'm not any help.

Anyone who can assist? (Click on the photo to enlarge the image.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Red's camera uncovered!

As I've mentioned here before, publication of my biography of Red Faber has put me into contact with a great many people -- folks I otherwise never would have met (in person or via the Internet).

My most recent episode apparently will result in a donation to the Red Faber wing of the Tri-County Historical Museum in Cascade, Iowa.

(I'll leave out the names and addresses, pending finalization of the arrangements, but I have to say SOMETHING about it now.)

During the off-season of 1913-14, before his rookie season with the White Sox, Faber joined the White Sox and NY Giants (and a few other major league teams) in an around-the-world exhibition tour. It lasted four months, and Faber saw Asia, Australia and Europe.

In the book, I wrote:

In his letter home, Faber indicated that he had a camera and promised to have many pictures to share with family and friends upon his return to Iowa. Unfortunately, his snapshots apparently have not survived the subsequent nine decades.

Well, that may not be the case. (Good thing I used the qualifier "apparently"!)

This week I opened an e-mail from a distant relative of Red's, who received my book as a Christmas gift from his wife. He read my passage mentioning the camera and contacted because, he has that camera!

Not only that, he thinks a close relative of his might still have some of Red's snapshots! He remembers seeing them many years ago.

This gets better: The gentleman would like to donate the camera to the museum in Cascade. And if some of Red's snapshots from the World Tour turn up, they might find their way to Cascade someday. What a boon that will be to the museum's collection.

The donor-to-be sent me a couple of images of Red's camera, now 95 years old.

What are your favorite nicknames?

Red Faber: Nickname too common.

An uncle in suburban St. Louis called my attention to a feature story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch concerning unusual nicknames for baseball players.

Among those the paper profiled is Hall of Famer Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourne, who, before hitting the National League played professionally in Dubuque in 1879. That team included Charles "The Old Roman" Comiskey, who later owned the Chicago White Sox and entered the Hall himself.

The article also lists "Cool Papa," "Ducky," "Big Poison" (and, of course, "Little Poison"), "Highpockets" and a host of others.

The Post-Dispatch didn't mention either of the two players I have spent the most time researching Urban "Red" Faber (pictured) or Ray "Cracker" Schalk. Not a surprise regarding Faber; it seemed that every team in every sport had a "Red" on its roster during the 20th century. "Cracker" is more unusual, and might have qualified for the Post-Dispatch, but, hey, it's a newspaper article, not a novel.

Audience participation time: What nicknames do you consider the most interesting or unusual? Send in your choices.

Photo credit: George Bain Collection, Library of Congress