NonSports Forum

Net54baseball.com
Welcome to Net54baseball.com. These forums are devoted to both Pre- and Post- war baseball cards and vintage memorabilia, as well as other sports. There is a separate section for Buying, Selling and Trading - the B/S/T area!! If you give an opinion of a person or company your full name needs to be in your post. Contact the moderator at leon@net54baseball.com should you have any questions or concerns. Enjoy!
Net54baseball.com
Net54baseball.com
ebay GSB

Go Back   Net54baseball.com Forums > Net54baseball Main Forum - WWII & Older Baseball Cards > Net54baseball Vintage (WWII & Older) Baseball Cards & New Member Introductions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 10-11-2018, 04:16 PM
Hankphenom Hankphenom is offline
Hank Thomas
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 842
Default The Story Behind "Glory"

Most people reading this will know that I wrote a book about my grandfather, the great baseball pitcher Walter Johnson. From the start, I intended it to be a definitive work. After all, I had the great advantages of having access to those who had known him as well as anybody along with a considerable archive of material my grandmother had assembled into some 30 massive scrapbooks filled to the brim with newspaper articles, letters, telegrams, photos, and other memorabilia related to his life and career. At the beginning of the process, however, I had no idea of actually writing a book about him, that thought never crossed my mind. For years, it was more or less a hobby, probably inspired as much by the desire to get to know a grandfather I would never meet as much as by the fact that the more I looked into his life, the more interesting I found it. One fascinating episode after another, things I had known nothing about. The other thing that sucked me in was what I was finding out about Walter Johnson himself, by so many accounts of those who knew him a truly extraordinary human being, one whose considerable virtues appear to have remained intact despite being thrust at the age of 19 into a world of fame and acclaim few have ever experienced. In so many of the interviews I came across with those who had played with and against him, you can sense that they can barely wait to finish telling the interviewer what a great pitcher he was--the fastest and best they ever saw, by almost universal declaration--so they could get to talking about the man. “You know, Walter was a wonderful man, too,” the great slugger Sam Crawford told his correspondent some 50 years after the fact. “Always afraid he might hurt somebody with that fastball…wonderful guy.” “Sweet” was a word that popped up often, one you don‘t often see applied to athletes. Bucky Harris, Washington’s “Boy Wonder” player/manager, who was working in the coal mines of Pennsylvania at the age of twelve and one of the toughest men ever to play the game, recalled to an assemblage of reporters the day of Johnson’s funeral: “What a sweet guy he was!” I was hooked, and at the point many years later I made the decision to expand my research into a full-time pursuit of everything I would need to fill out a comprehensive biography--or to turn over to somebody else if I didn‘t have what it takes to write a good book--I was determined to leave no stone unturned, no worthwhile lead unpursued, no shortcut taken. This wasn’t any kind of publishing strategy, and had little to do with how the book might be received, but was more in the way of a sacred trust. This was a man’s life, after all, my grandfather’s life. From everything I had discovered about him, it seemed he had always done his best: as a pitcher, as a husband and father, as a man in the world. In documenting his story, I felt, how could I do any less?

So when the book came out, it was gratifying to see how many readers and reviewers seemed to appreciate that effort and the many unexpected fruits it had produced to make the story more interesting. From my perspective, though, all that work and the time it took away from the rest of my life had created a distinctly different attitude. Not that I wasn’t enormously proud of what I had done, and remain so to this day, but to me it made the idea of writing another book as unlikely as my becoming a member of the Hair Club of America. “You write my next book,” I would laugh off the seemingly requisite question of what I was working on next, “I’ve done mine.” I’m not a writer, I would tell them, I just happened to write a book. Then a small miracle occurred, one that gave me the opportunity to follow up my book with a second baseball literary project, one that would require only a fraction of the time and work but that held out the promise of being even more significant and timeless than my biography of the game’s greatest pitcher.

If you Google “best baseball books” or something similar, high up on every list, and not infrequently at the very top, you will find the title, “The Glory of Their Times.” (This Sporting News article from two years ago is representative: http://www.sportingnews.com/…/bes…/f...a16bydcwbm3kp3)
Ty Cobb, perhaps second only to Babe Ruth as the greatest player in baseball history, passed away in 1961 at the age of 74. Among the legion of fans noting Cobb’s passing was one Lawrence S. Ritter, an economics professor and chairman of the finance department at the New York University Graduate School of Business Administration. Ritter, 39, never saw Cobb play but had vivid memories of being taken by his father to Yankee Stadium in the 1930s to see Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and the other greats of the Yankee dynasty of the time. While reading of Cobb’s passing and his life story, it occurred to Ritter that in a few years the generation of ballplayers from the first decades of the 20th century, the period of baseball’s flowering into a true “National Pastime,” would all be gone. With Cobb’s death, the entire first class of inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame at its inception in 1936--Ruth, Cobb, Honus Wagner, Walter Johnson, and Christy Mathewson--had now passed into history. Ritter surely wasn’t the only one whose mind registered and grieved over this sad milestone, but for some reason it stuck in his, and eventually he became determined to do something about it. What a tragedy it would be for the rest of the players from that seminal time in the game to be allowed to disappear without someone documenting their memories and impressions, he thought. A jazz fan, Ritter had read Village Voice columnist and music critic Nat Hentoff’s 1955 oral history, “Hear Me Talkin’ To Ya‘: The Story of Jazz By the Men Who Made It,” based on interviews with participants in that field, and Ritter decided to embark on a similar project, but with baseball the focus.

Ritter planned to use the flexibility afforded by his position as a tenured professor and department chairman, with most summers and long holidays free, to travel around the country interviewing old ballplayers about their experiences. First he went to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, to see if they could be of any help in tracking down these men who had last appeared on the national stage decades earlier. They could be of great help, it turned out, maintaining an updated file for many former players. Ritter also paid a visit to the Eastern Shore estate of legendary team owner Bill Veeck, author of a recent best-selling memoir, “Veeck As In Wreck.” Veeck couldn’t have more encouraging, telling Ritter it was a great idea and giving him some contact information for former players he knew. Ritter started calling the players, almost all of whom seemed thrilled that anyone would have an interest in their story. But early on, he did encounter some difficulty in trying to answer the recurring question: “What are you doing it for?“ He quickly decided it was just easier to tell them he was planning on writing a book about the early days of baseball, no great stretch of credibility for a man who had recently authored a best-selling business school textbook titled “Money and Economic Activity.“ By the summer of 1963, Ritter was ready to go, having set up an itinerary of interviews as he drove across the country to California, to whose sunny climes many old-time players had retired. He would take with him a brand new state-of-the-art Tandberg portable tape recorder, the best money could buy, so he wouldn’t have to take notes while he was conversing with his subjects. Ritter also brought along his girlfriend, Barbara, and his teenage son, Stevie, who would operate the recorder.

“The Glory of Their Times,” by Lawrence S. Ritter, was published in 1966 to universal acclaim and rave reviews. It was also a massive best-seller. Not a particularly religious man, Ritter had nonetheless found the perfect title for his masterpiece in the Bible, from Ecclesiasticus: “All these were honored in their generation, and were the glory of their times.” Ritter had taken the results of his interviews, removed himself and the questions asked, and fashioned the answers into the players life stories, mostly but not exclusively about their baseball careers. He had also asked them about their lives before and after baseball, and those answers provided some of the most compelling material in the book. Ritter, undoubtedly a genius based on his academic achievements (his best friend was the legendary Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker), also turned out to be a natural in the art of interviewing. His friendly demeanor and genuine interest in their lives put the players quickly at ease, and the generality of his questions and patience in receiving the answers allowed them the freedom to be as reflective as they cared to be, to travel back in time reliving memories stored away for a lifetime. Ritter developed a knack for recognizing when his subjects were finished with an answer or merely rummaging around in their brains for more material. Many other people with the opportunity to talk to these players would have found irresistible the urge to elicit arcane details of a different era, peppering them with minutia about the type of wood used in the bats or how close they played to the base when anticipating a double play, or try to impress the men with their own knowledge of baseball history, but Ritter didn’t have the slightest interest in that kind of mind-numbing trivia. “What was Babe Ruth like?” he would ask. “You faced some might good pitching, didn’t you?” would be a typical Ritter way of opening up his subject into a discussion of the four or five greatest pitchers he had faced, complete with wonderful stories illustrating their prowess and personalities.

In addition to recording their memories and impressions for posterity, Ritter’s book did something else for the players, something they never would have imagined possible: it made them famous again. Shortly after its publication, Ritter and a group of the players had an entire “Today” show to themselves, an hour and a half hosted by Hugh Downs and former major leaguer Joe Garagiola. Some of them turned out to be terrific natural performers: you’ve never heard the greatest version of “Casey at the Bat” until you’ve heard it performed by Christy Mathewson’s catcher John “Chief” Meyers, a full-blooded Cahuilla Indian who was 86 years old when he recited the famous poem from memory on the show. They were also booked onto the most famous primetime hour in America, the “Ed Sullivan Show,” scheduled to have a segment of their own in which they would perform a skit harking back to old-time baseball days. During rehearsals, however, Sullivan caught the ancient players cutting up and roughhousing with each other. Worried they might get rowdy again during the broadcast as it went out live to an enormous audience, Sullivan cancelled the skit and instead introduced the players from their seats in the auditorium. Over the next few months, the players had a blast helping promote the book, and to a man they and Ritter became lifelong friends. He cut them in on the royalties--still sending checks to the last surviving players into the 1980s--to the extent that he ended up making little himself from the book despite its success as a perennial seller (now in its 14th printing), but he didn’t care about that. Although he had a long and distinguished career in his field of economics and finance, and wrote many more books about those subjects and baseball, Ritter always knew that his obituary would lead with the fact that he was the guy who did “The Glory of Their Times.”

In addition to its success and acclamation, I’ve never thought it a coincidence that the years immediately following the publication of “Glory” saw the stirrings of what would become a tremendous renewal of interest and activity in the history of baseball. Washingtonian Bob Davids founded the Society of Baseball Research, better known by its acronym SABR, in 1971 with a handful of members, now grown to many thousands in chapters all over the country. The raw, unvarnished impressions of Ritter’s ballplayers presaged a wave of adult biographies and histories of the game beginning with the publication of Robert Creamer’s “Babe: The Legend Comes To Life” in 1974. And this was also the period in which baseball card and memorabilia collecting began to take off as an organized hobby, with the first early local and regional shows, publications, and price guides of that time leading the way to its current status as a multibillion-dollar industry, with several individual baseball cards having sold for over a million dollars each. The book got another boost in 1971 and subsequent years with repeated airings on PBS of a wonderful film version directed by Olympic documentarian Bud Greenspan and featuring narration by the “Voice of God,” Alexander Scourby, and snippets of the voices from Ritter’s recordings over vintage film and photos of the players and events they were discussing. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4G0nbtLLeQ)
I saw the film on TV, particularly enjoying the segment about my grandfather, and not long afterwards wandered into a used book store near my home in Takoma Park, Maryland, to see if they had a copy of the book. They did, and I was amazed to see so many entries when I checked the index under “Walter Johnson.” I bought it, read it, and it wasn’t long before I started looking around for other sources of information about his career. I don’t think it’s a stretch for me to add my book to the long list of baseball history projects that never would have happened if not for Ritter and “The Glory of Their Times.”

It was a tremendous thrill, then, when someone sent me a copy of a publication called “Oldtyme Baseball News” several months after “Walter Johnson: Baseball’s Big Train” was published in 1995. Inside this issue was a review of my book, written by none other than Lawrence S. Ritter himself, and it was a doozy. “The definitive work on the subject and likely to remain so” was only one of the many nice things Ritter had to say in his review, perhaps to this day the best the book has ever received, and certainly my favorite because of its author. Not long after that, I was chatting on the phone with my friend Neal McCabe, who several years earlier had himself written one of the great baseball books ever, “Baseball’s Golden Age: The Photographs of Charles M. Conlon.” Neal’s book had been something of a pioneering effort in its own right, drawing attention for the first time to a distinction, among the hundreds of men out on the ballfields of the early 20th century taking pictures of baseball players for newspapers and magazines, between the pedestrian efforts of those merely plying their craft to make a living and those whose photographs could be appreciated now as actual works of art. Neal’s estimation of Charles Conlon as the Richard Avedon or Annie Leibovitz of baseball has held up to this day and helped make his original black and white prints and those of a handful of his contemporaries worth up to thousands of dollars each. Before Neal’s book and its sequel, the few dealers at sports card and memorabilia shows deigning to carry old sports photos would have them stacked in a box for a dollar or two each, take your pick.

In the course of our talk, and in fact the primary reason for his call, Neal relayed to me excitedly the gist of a conversation he had just had with Lawrence S. Ritter. Larry, as Neal called him now that they had become friends, had also written a rave review of Neal’s book and Neal had meant for some time to thank Ritter, which he was now getting around to in the phone call. In the course of their chat, Ritter had told Neal that if he ever found himself in New York to call him and they would get together and have dinner. Not one to let an opportunity like that go by, Neal told me he was flying there soon and wanted to know if I would be interested in coming up from D.C. for the occasion. I jumped at the chance, and not long afterwards found myself at a restaurant in New York with Neal, Larry Ritter, and Ritter’s friend Lee Lowenfish, himself the author of several baseball books. Larry and Lee were as friendly and down to earth as they could be, and although I don’t remember much of the conversation, I do remember a distinct warmth and conviviality to the meal. The part of the conversation that will remain forever etched into my memory, though, occurred when I casually asked Larry about his recordings and whether he still had them. He answered that he had donated the original reel-to-reel tapes to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1970. I told Larry how much I had enjoyed hearing the actual voices of the players in the Greenspan documentary and the promotional LP the publisher had issued, and wondered why, in this age in which every bookstore had a sizable section of audio books available on cassette and CDs, wasn’t there an audio version of “The Glory of Their Times” containing the original interviews from his tapes? With a shrug of his shoulders, Ritter said, “Because no one ever asked.” What took place then I can only describe as some kind of “Vulcan Mind Meld” running between Neal and me. Turning to look at each other, we knew that we had the same thought in our heads. One of us, I don‘t remember which, posed it to Ritter: “If we can find a publisher, can we do it?” Without missing a beat, and to our complete and utter astonishment, he answered: “Sure.”

Neal and I couldn’t have been more excited at the prospect of taking on this project. Larry had entrusted us, undoubtedly out of respect for our previous work, with his pride and joy, with his legacy, really. And he told us from the start that he didn’t want to play any role in it, that we would have complete control, he wouldn’t be looking over our shoulders or even checking on our progress as we went along. That made it a daunting responsibility, but one we relished. Given the book’s track record, we assumed that finding an audio publisher wouldn’t be terribly difficult, and we quickly settled on one that seemed perfectly suited for the kind of quality and prestige “Glory” deserved. Highbridge Audio Company had started in the early 1980s as a division of National Public Radio to sell the audio works of NPR contributors, primarily the hugely successful Garrison Keillor and his “Prairie Home Companion,” but quickly expanding to such notables as the best-selling author Studs Terkel, “Oprah’s Book Club” selections, and many others. Highbridge thought the classic “Glory” would fit right into their catalogue, and so did we. A contract was drawn up, with Larry generously insisting he receive only a small percentage of the royalties. The bulk of the proceeds would go Neal and myself as the producers and editors, and the Baseball Hall of Fame would be cut in as the copyright holders of the tapes. We got a $25,000 advance from Highbridge to cover production costs, and by the late summer of 1997 we were ready to go.

An audiophile who lived in Los Angeles, a hotbed of recording studios, Neal would serve as the technical expert for our project, and he researched and bought all the equipment we would need. He flew to New York with some of it, and I took the train up from D.C. to meet him at Larry’s townhouse for the first phase, which would consist of us interviewing Larry about his experiences with each player for material to fashion into introductions. Since we both arrived there with plenty of time to spare for a 4 o’clock start that first day, we decided to go find someplace to get a beer and some lunch rather than pop in on Larry too early. A little bar on the corner, a classic dark dive of the type that probably doesn’t exist in New York City any more, seemed perfect for our purposes, and we went in and sat down at the bar. Neal and I were discussing our project, not paying much attention to anything else, but when we were ready to go and checking out, I happened to glance over at the only other patrons in the place at that point, a couple of guys who had taken the little front corner of the bar near the door. I said to Neal, motioning with my head to the pair, “that smaller guy looks really familiar.” Neal looked over at them and said, “that’s Noel Redding, Jimi Hendrix’s bass player.” I knew he was right, and as we passed them on the way out the door, I stopped and said to Redding, “Hey, thanks for all the great music.” He and the other guy had been hunched over their beers in conversation, but when I said that, he straightened up and motioned us over. We all introduced ourselves, and he said, “Have you got time for a beer?” Oh, didn’t we wish? Imagine sitting there listening to Noel Redding tell Hendrix stories into the evening in a tiny dark-wood bar in New York! But no, as we explained to him and his buddy, we were working on a project just down the street and expected momentarily. We didn’t mention “The Glory of Their Times,” but probably should have, they might have found it interesting. A lot of music people are also baseball fans, I’ve discovered over the years.

When we got to Larry‘s house, Neal set up a little recording studio in his living room and over the next two days we did with Larry exactly what he had done with the players he had immortalized more than 30 years earlier--we interviewed him. First, we had him read the introductions to each chapter as he had written them for the book, some of which came in quite handy, but the real magic started with his extemporaneous memories of the players and his experiences with them. Larry really had become personal friends with these guys almost to a man, and very close, indeed, to a few, like Chief Meyers, who would call Larry whenever he traveled to New York with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Larry would meet the Chief at his hotel and they would go to the ball game on the team bus and then visit the Dodgers in their clubhouse after the game for what Larry described as a sumptuous feast at the team dining tables. In the course of illustrating what a practical joker the ancient Chief was, Larry told the story of how they visited New York Mets President George Weiss in his office at the ballpark so the Chief could present Weiss, for whose New Haven team Meyers had been manager in 1919, with some “sacred stones” the Chief claimed had been given to him by an Alaskan Indian tribe. Once they had made the presentation solemnly and then left, Larry asked the Chief, “Are those really sacred stones?,” to which the Chief replied, “No, they’re just some pebbles from my basement.“ As Larry was telling the story, we knew we were supposed to keep quiet--recording in progress--but as it went on, Larry started cracking up at the memory of the Chief’s joke, and when he hit the punch line, all of us in the room just lost it, practically howling with laughter in what we assumed would be a wasted take. In the end, though, we decided that this hilarious story was a keeper, laughter and all, and it’s the only time our voices can be heard on the finished set.

Not long after that, in the fall of 1997, the harder work began on the tapes. I moved into a spare bedroom in Neal’s Brentwood apartment, where Neal had turned his dining room into a listening and editing workstation. From a technological standpoint, our timing was perfect. Larry, who had compiled a few minutes of material from the tapes for a promotional album issued concurrently with the book in 1966, had warned us how tedious and inefficient it had been for him cutting, splicing, and re-cutting the quarter-inch reel-to-reel tapes to get the quotes he wanted for the LP. But I had worked in the 1980s with Sony Beta video decks and knew that editing technology for tape had progressed to deck-to-deck transfer, with backspace editing providing almost exact cuts by ear without ever touching the tape. I assumed that that’s how we would be working with the tiny DATs--digital audio tapes--the Hall of Fame made for us, but even I was behind the times. In the now-digital 1990s we found the perfect off-the-shelf software to do our work on a computer, allowing us to make edits precisely according to the sound patterns visually presented on the screen.

Neal McCabe, a brilliant guy who had learned Russian so he could read their great novelists in the original language, had a full-time job as a mailman, so he would only be available to work on the project at night and on weekends. I had no such limitations, however, and was ready to work all day every day to finish as quickly as possible and get back to D.C. For the past year or so, as income from the book was quieting down, I had started on a path to establishing myself as a sports card and memorabilia dealer, setting up at local and regional shows with much of my inventory initially coming from my personal collection but increasingly the result of my activities as a buyer. Just at that time, Ebay was becoming a primary resource as “pickers” all over the country began scouring garage and yard sales for anything to throw up on the auction website touting itself as “America’s Yard Sale.“ Most of the time, sellers had little idea what they had, listing everything at the dollar minimum, and there were bargains to be found almost daily if you knew a particular field of collectibles and were active in it. I was making money doing something I really enjoyed, and was eager to get back to it. For two months, then, the time it took us to do the work on the tapes, that’s pretty much all we did, going out once a week or so to the Ralph’s in Brentwood for groceries, TV dinners mostly. My memories of the famous side of L.A. on that visit consist primarily of Neal pointing out such tourist attractions as the O.J. Simpson murder scene and the house where Marilyn Monroe died as we passed them on our way to and from the grocery store.

A routine was quickly established in which I would listen to the tapes during the day, pen and legal notepad in hand, stopping and starting the DATs to jot down a summary of anything interesting I heard, then Neal and I would work on the editing at night. We had five hours of running time for the finished product, 4 CDs of 75 minutes each, and I think we had assumed from the start that we would use some material from each of the 22 players in the book, perhaps including the four players added to a later edition and even the four interviews Larry didn’t use at all but gave to writer Donald Honig to kickstart Honig’s “sequel” titled “Baseball When the Grass Was Real.” A friend of Ritter’s, Honig had been bugging him to follow up the success of “Glory” with another one like it, and Larry finally got so sick of hearing about it he gave Honig the four interviews still on the shelf and told him to go out and do it himself. Ritter wrote five more books about baseball, but had no interest in repeating what he had already accomplished with “The Glory of Their Times.”

Whatever our original plan, though, it became painfully obvious right away that some of the interviews, though fine in print, would not be suitable for an audio version. One of the reasons for this was technical: 1930s Cleveland third baseman Willie Kamm, for example, was a decent interview, but no amount of our powerful noise reduction software could eliminate the sound of his wife and son watching the TV show “The Beverly Hillbillies” in the next room. The other reason many of the players didn’t make the cut had to do more with their voices or personalities: old-time Pirates catcher George Gibson did seven hours of interviews with Larry, but I had to listen to all of it and I challenge anybody to put together a coherent ten minutes anyone would want to hear. For him, it was all about “Gibby,” as he annoying and constantly referred to himself, and “Gibby” wasn’t nearly as interesting as he seemed to think. Paul Waner had been a great player, one of the greatest, but if he hadn’t already picked up the nickname “Big Poison” (as opposed to “Little Poison,” his brother Lloyd), Waner might have been known as “The Human Sleeping Pill.” Neal would come home from his day trodding the sidewalks and see one of my famous yellow sheets with a few notes and a big “X” crossed through the entire page. “Uh-oh,” he would say, and I would answer, “Yep. No stories.”

The great news, however, was that the players who were good to listen to were REALLY good to listen to. A dozen of them turned out to be keepers for the set, and every time we had finished editing the latest, we would turn to look at each other and say, “He’s the best.” That happened with every player, every single one, that’s how good they all were. Ken Burns, in his epic 18-hour documentary, “Baseball,” used actors to read quotes from the players in “The Glory of Their Times,” a huge artistic mistake although perhaps understandable from a promotional standpoint. And who wouldn’t want to have Paul Newman around for a while, or Gregory Peck, or Billy Crystal? But as great as they are, none of these famous actors, not a one, is as good at telling these stories as Sam Crawford, Chief Meyers, Goose Goslin, Lefty O’Doul, Rube Marquard, Hans Lobert, and the other players. Maybe it’s because of all the time they had to kill on those long train trips, or sitting around the hotels in an age before TV and radio. With all that spare time, what in the world did they do to entertain themselves? They played cards and they told stories, that’s what.

The two months flew by, and the next thing Neal and I knew, we were done. Somehow, miraculously, the finished product, with music and introductions, fit snugly into the five-hour time limitation with something like six minutes to spare. This was nothing we ever planned, we never had to. It just turned out that way. If there’s any material on Larry Ritter’s 100-plus hours of tapes that we would have wanted to include but couldn’t, it wasn’t because we didn’t have enough space. There were some instances in which there might be one great quote, one lonesome jewel, trapped inside a two-hour interview that didn’t contain anything else of value. Or a great story or two might have been rendered unusable for our purposes by crosstalk from a wife’s oblivious participation. To an overwhelming extent, though, it all worked out just so: everything we wanted on the set is on the set, and there is nothing on the set we didn’t want there. In other words, nothing left out, nothing forced in. The only possible explanation for this coincidence is that this is the way it was meant to be.

I flew home, and Neal, the expert on baseball photographs, headed for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown to pick photos for a 32-page booklet to accompany the set. First, though, Neal flew to New York to re-record a couple of Larry’s introductions that had picked up feedback from vibrations in the microphone stand. But what Neal expected to be a welcoming homecoming for someone who had just busted his butt in the service of re-energizing the legacy of “The Glory of Their Times” turned into a bitter couple of days when he made the dreadful discovery that Larry Ritter seemed to HATE what we had done with his tapes. Neal could tell something was wrong when Ritter kept bugging him about why we didn‘t just use the photos from the book, but it took a while to pry out of Ritter’s passive-aggressiveness the real reason for his dissatisfaction. He actually liked almost all of what we had done, it turned out, but couldn’t stand listening to the segment with Jimmy Austin, the oldest player Ritter interviewed. Austin died less than a year later, the only one of the players who didn’t live to see the book. Jimmy does sound every one of his 84 years, there’s no question about that, and is a bit difficult to understand at times, but he is also everything we were looking for in our subjects: enormously charming and funny, with an infectious laughter that would explode out of nowhere: full of great stories about the legends of the game; and if that wasn‘t enough, Jimmy was on the cover of our set! It so happened that Jimmy Austin had been prominently featured in the most famous action photograph in baseball history when Charles Conlon’s camera captured Ty Cobb, Jimmy, and the ball all arriving at third base at the same time. Larry and Jimmy even discussed the photo during the interview, with Jimmy exclaiming proudly and accurately, “Yeah, they use that picture an awful lot!” In the first and only instance of Ritter playing any role in our work, he asked us to take Jimmy off the set, and we told him we would think about it. Neal and I agreed that if Larry ever insisted that we remove Jimmy, we would, of course, but otherwise the set would remain as it was. Fortunately, Larry never broached the subject again.

Five years later, in a massive 2002 profile of Ritter by David Margolick for the Sunday New York Times, the writer waxes at length on the wonders of hearing the players on the audio set:
“When several hours of Mr. Ritter’s original audiotapes were recently released on cassettes and compact discs,” Margolick wrote, “the book took on new life, and power, and charm. Its stories are even more winning when heard aloud, spun by weathered voices and archaic accents. Men who died decades ago suddenly leap back to life. Few things can summon the dead more quickly than hearing them laugh, and discussing the game and their youth, these old men laughed a lot. One of those people was Jimmy Austin, the Yankees third baseman whose rear end dominates the classic Charles M. Conlon photo of Ty Cobb sliding into third. In his interview with Mr. Ritter, Austin recounted how he’d hit a homer off a half-drunk Rube Waddell one day in 1909 or 1910, and how Waddell fell on his behind as Austin rounded the bases. ‘I will never forget it as long as I live,’ Austin joyously recalled. Within a year, Austin was dead. Except, that is, on Larry Ritter’s wondrous tapes, where he can still be heard, living, breathing, reminiscing. And laughing.”
A short while later, Neal and I both received this email:
“As you can see from the NY Times article, you guys were right to include Jimmy Austin. For Margolick, his was the most memorable interview of all! A deep bow to both of you. Larry”
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Neal, Ritter, and me.jpg (75.9 KB, 595 views)
File Type: jpg Me and Ritter.jpg (81.9 KB, 598 views)
File Type: jpg Glory cover.jpg (50.4 KB, 589 views)
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 10-11-2018, 04:36 PM
T206Collector's Avatar
T206Collector T206Collector is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 3,852
Default

Amazing! Thanks so much for sharing. Love the book, love the audio recordings on my iPhone.

Here's a couple of index cards I have where Rube Marquard and Fred Snodgrass pitched the book. As you know, they used to get royalties from Larry for sales of the book. They pitched the book in so many of their autograph replies.

Snodgrass Catching Auto SGC 30



Marquard Portrait SGC 30 Auto

From Misc. Pre-War
__________________
Signed Pre-War Card Galleries
www.T206Collector.com

Last edited by T206Collector; 10-11-2018 at 04:38 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 10-11-2018, 04:57 PM
Aquarian Sports Cards Aquarian Sports Cards is offline
Scott Russell
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 2,340
Default

I hope you've stopped pretending you're not a writer. Your post was so compelling and well-written that I now have to go get your book!
__________________
Great experience buying from edjs and mybuddyinc. Check out my ebay store, weird, eclectic, accurate, and reasonable! http://stores.ebay.com/Aquarian-Sports-Cards Also check out http://www.birminghamauctioneers.com
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 10-11-2018, 05:16 PM
Hankphenom Hankphenom is offline
Hank Thomas
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 842
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by T206Collector View Post
Amazing! Thanks so much for sharing. Love the book, love the audio recordings on my iPhone.

Here's a couple of index cards I have where Rube Marquard and Fred Snodgrass pitched the book. As you know, they used to get royalties from Larry for sales of the book. They pitched the book in so many of their autograph replies.
<
Those cards, and especially the index cards with "Glory" referenced, are fabulous. At one time, I had a nice collection of related stuff including six different players' royalty checks and a ball Larry gave me with many of their signatures. I kept my file of Larry letters and postcards, of course!
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 10-11-2018, 05:17 PM
Hankphenom Hankphenom is offline
Hank Thomas
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 842
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aquarian Sports Cards View Post
I hope you've stopped pretending you're not a writer. Your post was so compelling and well-written that I now have to go get your book!
Thanks for the kind words, but I'm still just a guy that happened to write a book.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 10-11-2018, 05:20 PM
BruceinGa BruceinGa is offline
Bruce Fairchild
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Marietta, Ga
Posts: 477
Default

Thanks for sharing. I received my copy of "The Glory of Their Times" two days ago, a birthday present from my daughter.
__________________
Successful transactions with: Double-P-Enterprises, Thromdog, DavidBvintage, Desert Ice Sports, Kurtz Kardz, Cooperstown Sportscards and tenorvox!
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 10-11-2018, 05:21 PM
Hankphenom Hankphenom is offline
Hank Thomas
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 842
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by BruceinGa View Post
Thanks for sharing. I received my copy of "The Glory of Their Times" two days ago, a birthday present from my daughter.
That's a great daughter. She really knows her stuff.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 10-11-2018, 05:59 PM
Jay Wolt's Avatar
Jay Wolt Jay Wolt is offline
qualitycards
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Gettysburg PA area
Posts: 2,233
Default

Hank awesome write-up. Been a fan of Glory for over 4 decades since I read it.
I have 3 royalty checks currently running on REA, I enjoyed having them for years.
Hope I'm not in trouble for outing my own auction

https://bid.robertedwardauctions.com...e?itemid=53181
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 10-11-2018, 06:22 PM
edjs's Avatar
edjs edjs is offline
€dw@rd Sk€£t0n
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 1,609
Default

Hank, my favorite writing about your grandfather was this:

http://cwcfamily.org/wj/cc0.htm

When I read this, it really changed everything about my collecting perspective. You see, you are writing about my home, where my family has lived since my grandparents moved here. I know exactly where many of the locations are where your grandfather lived, went to school, etc. I always knew him as "the Weiser Wonder." Reading this, I could picture him playing back then, how hard it would have been just to travel to games (I often travel the surface streets to avoid freeway rush hours, I can't imagine before they had paved roads and modern cars trying to get from Carbon Canyon to Huntington Beach for a game!). It really made me appreciate the rich baseball history right here in my home. Thanks for all your effort in writing these stories, and bringing some light into my vision of my own "ol' stompin' grounds." If you have any images from when your family lived here in Southern California, I would love to see them.
__________________
Ed

Collecting PCL, Southern Association, and type cards.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 10-11-2018, 07:27 PM
Hot Springs Bathers Hot Springs Bathers is offline
Mike Dugan
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 894
Default

Hank this was just a fabulous piece! I wrote Mr. Ritter on several occasions while researching early spring training here in Hot Springs and received wonderful replies. The book drove my interest into the dead ball era from the moment I read it.

It also led me to long drives to Cooperstown and to collecting tobacco cards, all of which I am thankful for to this day some 40 plus years later. I too loved your book and do consider it one of the top baseball bios ever written.

It was with great sadness that I picked up the latest edition of the Beckett Vintage Collector a couple of weeks ago. While at first I read with excitement that there was an article on "Glory" and its' connection to the T206s, I then found Andy Broome's article in the index referring to "Red Barber's classic book" and then found it repeated again below the title in the article. While Mr. Broome's article was nice the continued mistakes in this Beckett publication render almost unreadable.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Nat Hentoff, inspiration for "The Glory of Their Times," dies. Hankphenom Net54baseball Vintage (WWII & Older) Baseball Cards & New Member Introductions 3 01-09-2017 07:11 PM
Nat Hentoff, inspiration for "The Glory of Their Times," dies. Hankphenom Net54baseball Sports (Primarily) Vintage Memorabilia Forum incl. Game Used 1 01-08-2017 09:03 PM
O/T: The movie "Babe Ruth Story" makes "The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time," list WhenItWasAHobby Net54baseball Vintage (WWII & Older) Baseball Cards & New Member Introductions 2 08-30-2013 11:16 AM


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:13 AM.


ebay GSB