Curt Flood: The Pioneering “Well-Paid Slave”

Jeff Berger — In 2016, Colin Kapernick began a protest against social injustices experienced by African Americans when he “took a knee” during the playing of the national anthem before a National Football League (NFL) game. Public reaction was highly polarized. After the season ended, Kapernick was blacklisted by the NFL. (The NFL denied this.) Roll forward to 2020: This year athletes in all major … Continue reading Curt Flood: The Pioneering “Well-Paid Slave”

An Uncomfortable Truth: Tackle Football and CTE

Ron Berger — As another season of the National Football League (NFL) comes to an end, I have been thinking about the football fans who live with a peculiar form of cognitive dissonance: They certainly must know (but seem able to deny) that the athletic gladiators they enjoy watching, who perform heroic feats on the playing field, are undergoing lasting harm to their physical and … Continue reading An Uncomfortable Truth: Tackle Football and CTE

Baseball’s New Analytics

Mark Richardson — Baseball is played very differently today than when I was young. There has been a revolution going on for several years that has fundamentally changed the way players and managers approach the game, how it is taught, and how fans watch it. The changes began around the year 2000, when a group of devoted baseball fans had, some years previously, formed a … Continue reading Baseball’s New Analytics

Picture of Ty Cobb at bat.


Mark Richardson — Ty Cobb has long been considered by many to have been the greatest hitter, and possibly the greatest all-around player, in major league baseball history. His tumultuous life both on and off the field has been examined and reexamined, but very few have succeeded in getting to the core of Tyrus Raymond Cobb, “The Georgia Peach.” Rather than examining Cobb himself, the … Continue reading Peach

Baseball and Murder Mysteries

Mark Richardson — Mickey Rawlings is a baseball player. He’s also a sleuth. He does not solve murders because he has a yen to be a detective. Rather, he has murders thrust upon him–murders which neither the police nor anyone else seems to want solved. And that leaves Mickey to solve them. Rawlings is a major league utility infielder whose skills are good enough to … Continue reading Baseball and Murder Mysteries

Baseball and the World Series: Context and Contests

Bob Bates — Two months after the first “World’s Series,” Wilbur and Orville Wright made their first flight at Kitty Hawk. Baseball’s only rivals for popularity among Americans were horse racing and boxing. Teddy Roosevelt was president. Silent films were all the rage. In nine years the unsinkable Titanic would plunge to the depths of the Atlantic. U.S. entry into The “War to End All … Continue reading Baseball and the World Series: Context and Contests

Baseball’s Ol’ Perfessor

Mark Richardson — Marty Appel, author of Munson, the acclaimed biography of former New York Yankees catcher Thurman Munson, has done it again. This top-notch profiler of Yankees past has given us what may prove to be the baseball book of the year with his new work, Casey Stengel: Baseball’s Greatest Character. It is an extensive in-depth look at the “Ol’ Perfessor,” one of the … Continue reading Baseball’s Ol’ Perfessor

Jeanie’s Hope

Bob Bates — Mark Richardson’s moving essay entitled “My Mom, Baseball, and Me,”  published previously on Wise Guys, is my motivation for posting this baseball poem I wrote about someone very dear to me. The poem is a combination tribute and eulogy to Jeanette “Jeanie” Sotka Hofmeister, who married my cousin Daryl “Sonny” Hofmeister in 1954. In his baseball-playing days, Sonny was a slugging outfielder … Continue reading Jeanie’s Hope


Bob Bates — In his epic tour de force, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams has his all-knowing, all-wise Grand Computer named Deep Thought delve into the answer to the great Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. As Deep Thought assesses and ponders (in deep thought), tensions rise and suspense builds until, voila! Deep Thought authoritatively “with infinite majesty and calm” announces: “42”. Cosmic non sequitur … Continue reading 42

Lefty, Scooter, and Hankus Pankus: Three Baseball Legends

Mark Richardson — My late fall/early winter reading has recently focused on classic fiction, Tolstoy and Mann, but I have found time to squeeze in three baseball biographies, and all three are worthy of note. Biographies have always been at the forefront of the game’s literature, but in recent years there seems to have been an explosion of life stories of the diamond’s greats. This … Continue reading Lefty, Scooter, and Hankus Pankus: Three Baseball Legends

My Mom, Baseball, and Me

Mark Richardson — I came to baseball, or baseball came to me, as a very young boy. My dad was never much of a baseball fan, at least until he was in his 60s and he discovered the entertainment that was Harry Caray’s broadcasting, but my mom was an avid Chicago Cubs fan all her life.  Her grandpa (my Great-grandpa Cashore), her dad (my Grandpa … Continue reading My Mom, Baseball, and Me

Faith and Baseball

Mark Richardson — Every now and again one stumbles upon a book that addresses issues which have flitted through one’s mind throughout his/her life, but which have never solidified into one’s thought in any cohesive way. Such a book is John Sexton’s Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game (2013). Mr. Sexton is the president of New York University and a former law clerk … Continue reading Faith and Baseball

A Carefully Crafted Life

Mark Richardson —   “Moe could speak twelve languages, but he couldn’t hit in any of them.” Such was the scouting report on Moe Berg, the subject of Nicholas Dawidoff’s The Catcher Was A Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg.”   Berg was a notoriously poor hitter, a defensive wizard behind the plate who played in the major leagues for fifteen years , and most … Continue reading A Carefully Crafted Life

Baseball and the Literati: Runyon, Lardner and Farrell

Mark Richardson —     We are all aware of Ernest Hemingway’s expression of affection for Joe DiMaggio in The Old Man and the Sea, of Phillip Roth’s extensive and extended baseball metaphors in The Great American Novel, and of Bernard Malamud’s employment of the national pastime as a conveyance for his morality play The Natural, but baseball’s appeal to the literati predates these classics by decades. Before he was America’s … Continue reading Baseball and the Literati: Runyon, Lardner and Farrell

For the Love of the Game

Ron Berger — I share Mark Richardson’s interest in nonfiction baseball books (see Wise Guys, February 17, 2016) and thought I’d take the opportunity to also share a few that I’ve read over the last 14 years. But first some personal background. My bonding with baseball began in 1959, when I was eight years old. The year before the Brooklyn Dodgers had moved to my … Continue reading For the Love of the Game

Baseball in America: Two Books

  Mark Richardson — The Summer of Beer and Whiskey, a riveting history of the early days of professional baseball,  tells the story of the American Association, an early league, founded in 1883, which came to be called The Beer and Whiskey League as a result of the daring policy adopted by the club owners of being the first league ever to allow the sale of … Continue reading Baseball in America: Two Books