My wife and I attended yesterday's Ted Williams Chapter SABR meeting. It was, as always, a great forum and there was a lively discussion. The meeting started at 0900 and ran until at least 1300; she and I had to leave to relieve our baby sitter, otherwise we would have stayed for the entire program.
John Ingham gave a talk on an article he recently wrote about the 1967 Pirates. The 1966 Pittsburgh team finished 22 games over .500 and 3 games behind the Dodgers for the NL title. Many pundits thought all the Pirates needed was improvement at third and in the rotation, which they thought they achieved through trade in the off-season, most notably by acquiring Maury Wills from Los Angeles.
That 1967 edition didn't fare nearly as well as expected, finishing at .500, 20 1/2 games behind the Cardinals. Mr. Ingham went on to say the team was reported by contemporary press as 'wracked with dissention' in the clubhouse, which likely contributed to their poor performance on the field, and what he thought contributed to that dissention. I will not give away his thoughts - the article is under consideration for publication at NINE, a journal of baseball history and culture published by the University of Nebraska Press - but I will tell you his thesis centers around three large personalities. Roberto Clemente, Wills, and manager Harry 'The Hat' Walker. It was quite interesting.
On an unrelated subject, I finally got some insight why Joe Morgan was traded from Houston to Cincinnati (Walker landed as manager there after being fired by Pittsburgh during the 1967 season), and I look at the famous Juan Marichal/Johnny Roseboro brawl in a new way.
Next we heard from David Nuffer, a Ernest Hemingway buff. One might wonder what place a Hemingway discussion has in a baseball forum. Aside from this being a learned group (yes, shameless intellectual promotion there), Hemingway was a bit of a baseball fan. According to Nuffer, he played baseball in high school, and while living in Cuba built a makeshift baseball field on his estate for the local boys to use. In fact, one of those boys became his majordomo, and eventually published a memoir of those days titled Hemingway's Cuban Son.
Nuffer is a man of some local fame; apparently he held up signs behind the first base dugout back in the Jack Murphy days. He is a character, pulling out a card which had a herald piece on it, and saying after it finished "I need a proper introduction." I would have liked to have known him when he was younger and not wheelchair bound.
Anyway he talked about The Old Man and The Sea, one of Hemingway's great works. In the pages of that novel there are 7 references to baseball, and embedded in those passages are 9 references to Joe DiMaggio - 'the Great Dimaggio', as the old man calls him. Finally he concluded by reading from the only poem Hemingway is known to have written, called 'The Opening Game' (1912). A great presentation; it was worth making the drive to Petco just to hear him speak.
After the break,
World Series Preview . . . with a 5 year-old
6 months ago