Smith on Baseball
sub-title for this sports book is "The Game's Greatest Writer on the
Game's Greatest Years". There would be many who would argue with this
there won't be many who would argue that Red Smith was among the best in a
long line of legendary baseball writers. RED SMITH ON BASEBALL (Ivan R.
Dee publishers, 363 pages, $24.95) is a collection of Red's most memorable
columns, 167 total, from 1941 to 1981. And there is not a loser in the
people Smith wrote about include: Jackie Robinson, Casey Stengel, Willie
Mays, Bill Veeck, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Yogi and Campy and Gil
(Red) Smith hit his prime in 1945 as a sports columnist for the "New
York Herald Tribune". When that newspaper went out of business, he
became the main sports columnist for the "New York Times" until
his death in January 1982. That time period and those two newspapers serve
as the well from which the columns in this book were drawn.
York Times" sports columnist Ira Berkow, Smith's biographer, wrote
the foreword to the book. He explained that while Smith "wrote on
subjects from the Olympics to harness racing, from Super Bowls to hoops,
it may be that he loved baseball best of all". Red had a lot of
practice writing about baseball, as early as 1929 when he was 24 years
book starts off with a column Smith wrote in October 1941 - Winning by
Striking Out. "It could happen only in Brooklyn," Smith begins.
"Nowhere else in this broad, untidy universe, not in Bedlam nor in
Babel nor in the remotest psychopathic ward nor the sleaziest padded cell
could the Thing be.
in the ancestral home of the Dodgers which knew the goofy glories of Babe
Herman could a man win a World Series by striking out."
is a mouthful.
And the book ends with a column called
"Leave Him to the Angels" written January 18, 1981. "A
young woman asked: 'What was Casey Stengel like?' I thought she was
pulling my leg when I realized she was nine years old when Casey, retiring
as manager of the New York Mets, dropped out of public view." The
rest of the column is a reprint of wandering, confusing, circuitous yet
insightful remarks on baseball - remarks Casey made on July 9, 1958 before
the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly. It is delightful.
The comment "Baseball is dull
only to those with dull minds," was attributed to Red Smith, who many
called "The Shakespeare of the Press Box". To browse through the
pages of RED SMITH ON BASEBALL is to realize how nuanced, how interesting
and how immortal the game and its characters are.
Ends: SLOUCHING TOWARD FARGO by Neal Karlen (Spike Books, $4.00, 362
pages) won the Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of 1999. Newly released
in paperback, the book is a humorous look at two years with the bush
league St. Paul Saints. This is a feel-good book, ultimately.
# # #
You can reach
Harvey Frommer at:
About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath,
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Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz Frommer are the authors of
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