baseball and race revisited

This is a fascinating update on black baseball players. It is 60 years since Jackie Robinson and yet, for all sorts of reasons, only 9% of MLB players are black. Any sharedness of baseball that DeLillo may have been suggesting (Cotter and Waterson or Nick and Sims) is vastly diminished in today's version of the game. Not only are there few black players, there are only 2 black managers, few front office types, and a dwindling fan base. Two teams, the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves, have 0 black players. There are more players from the Dominican (81) than African Americans (68) and the MLB invests 5 or 6 times more money in player/youth development programs in Latin America than in the urban U.S.

nytimes sports articles

so ive been meaning to post links to these two new york times articles for a while,

"Your Brain on Baseball" by David Brooks

this is by the times's conservative pundit and it's about the exact same type of automated brain functions that wallace attirbutes to tennis players (bottom of page 260 is one example) only with baseball players at spring training, pretty interesting stuff

baseball drama


"That wasw the baseball his dad had given him as a trust, a gift, a peace offering, a form of desperate love and a spiritual hand-me-down. The ball he'd more or less lost. Or his wife had snatched when they split. Or he'd accidentally dumped with the household trash" (611).

This section with Chuckie and Louis was interesting in that it brought back the baseball and waste themes along with a commentary on family structure. It's interesting that this baseball that everyone's looking for is originally a desperate attempt to connect to a son, then a piece of a petty breakup, and finally waste along with the rest of his household trash.

The Giants Win the Pennant!

Meant to post this before the weekend, but that obviously didn't happen. Anyway.

Russ Hodges' broadcast

The Shot Heard Round the World

My one complaint so far, Underworld makes waiting the next month and a half for baseball season that much more agonizing.

One moment that particularly struck me was the moment where Cotter he realizes his rival is indeed Bill Waterson. From my perspective it seems certainly possible that the two of them represent the Soviet and American powers and their onetime alliance and subsequent hostility. Just after Cotter finally wrests the ball away, "The man catches his eye, This is not what Cotter wants, this is damage to the cause. He made a mistake looking back" (49). The moment serves as a loss of innocence, the end of an impersonal struggle. Once the friends, united by a previous common cause, have something to fight over, it tears them apart in such a primal way. What makes this moment so stunning, however, is the the distinct sameness of the two sides, two men looking "at each other over the crowd and through the crowd." For all that separates them, they stand out to each other essentially oblivious to the swarms of people around them. For all their conviction that they each have the superior claim to that ball, they both ultimately want the same thing, the ball -- and will do whatever it takes to keep it.

Stars in our eyes


Wow, what an interesting group of people to attend a baseball game together! We have Jackie Gleason (actor, won a best supporting actor award for Hustler), Frank Sinatra (incredibly famous singer and actor), Toots Shor (a club owner), and J. Edgar Hoover (head of the FBI). This scene strikes me as so hilarious and interesting. We have paranoid, nervous Hoover just waiting for something bad to happen, and it does-- he receives information during the game! Jackie Gleason is entertaining adoring fans, playing the buffoon, throwing out jokes and bringing out some of his best characters. Frank Sinatra is incredibly uncomfortable with the fans pressed close around him and he gets more and more irritated as the scene gets on.

peanuts and crackerjacks

few thoughts/annotations after first 30 pages

By 1957 both teams had left New York. By 1964 the Polo Grounds no longer existed.

"Robinson" is Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in 1947. Played for the Dodgers his whole career. HOF 1962.

Waterson's comments to Cotter are interesting in that he praises the tradition and sameness of baseball ("you do what they did before you") in the presence of Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays, two black athletes that did more to transform the landscape of sports, pop culture, and society than anyone until Magic w/ aids and MJ's global branding.

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