Saturday, August 8, 2015

How Not To Hit .400 or What To Talk About Next Father's Day

August 8, 2015

"If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what we do, and how to do it." 
                                                                           - Abraham Lincoln, June 17, 1858, upon being named as candidate for U.S. Senator in Springfield, Ill.

If the world seems to exist in its rotating time due to a filial function involving our national pastime it is only exceptionally so as we are a nation blessed with the generational inheritances that sentimental fathers pass down to their uncoordinated sons. For those who have looked out over the sunlit afternoon grass while your father solemnly pointed farther out to what appeared to be giant tombstones sprouting in centerfield on a summer day in the Bronx or who have cherished that moment of private invocation now forever fixed and forever sacred when with two gloves and a ball your father and you stood never closer tossing that ball back and forth while the whole world tumbled in awe, or for those who have never experienced such, I hope your young days were rare for other friezes and moments of glad grace but for just now I seek to evoke the summerdays when fathers spoke baseball with their sons.  ( I like to imagine that after a particularly strenuous day drilling
Father and son. Dressed for the game.
Sorry, I thought that was a bat.
for oil John D., Sr. would slouch wearily home and even before washing the caked oil off his face and hands call for young John D., Jr. to grab their gloves from the gilded foyer and join him in the backyard for a quick catch before dinner; it has been reported that President Lincoln was a great baseball fan and was in the midst of batting when he received word he was just nominated by his party at the Chicago Convention in 1860 - a wonderful tale but I have yet to find a separate verification for the story but I can certainly imagine the Great Emancipator trying out his knuckler while pitching to one of his sons in their Springfield yard with Mary yelling at them not to break another window; I once visited Sagamore Hill and if ever there was a green-field to toss the whiteball back and forth it is here where I can see in my mind's eye Teddy Roosevelt chucking the old horsehide to Teddy III or Kermit or Archie or the brave Quentin or any of the other muppets around the big house and always with vigor;
All that man can achieve with a script
remind me to ask young Ron Reagan if his old man would pitch batting practice to him between campaigning or while trying to remember the names of the Warner Brothers and with his mom playing Doris Day would the Great Communicator re-enact his Grover Cleveland Alexander role and throw some chin music his son's way on a quiet greensward in Santa Barbara?;  the only President who was a star baseball team-player in college was George H.W. Bush, left-handed first base captain of the Yale Bulldogs (- -I believe Gerald Ford was an All- American football player at Michigan, Nixon, after years of practicing tackling with his mom, played somewhere off-sides for Whittier- -) and was a cheerleader, too, as was his father, Prescott, before him and so the family tradition of leading cheers was passed down to George W who made up for not playing baseball himself but went on to become a co-owner of a major league team-"Bull-Dog, Bull-Dog, Bow-wow-wow (Tune  and lyric by Cole Porter); The Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during the Second World War was once cut from the West Point baseball team but I'm sure that coach saw plenty of action during the First World War - nah, just amusing myself_ but that did not stop the General from passing on his love of the game to his grandson, David, who probably had a better time watching "Angels In The Outfield" with his grandfather, Ike's favorite movie, than playing hearts with his future father-in-law.)
Tuning up for the "Long Cheer" at Yale

And  its always fathers and sons in this schema-never mothers and daughters hanging out in the backyard tossing the ball back and forth or going to the ballpark together sharing their summer afternoons with a thousand other  baseball fans rooting for the home team and enjoying a hot dog and pretzel and preserving this memory for a lifetime - never- because the world would surely stop rotating at such a circumstance because it never was supposed to be about moms and daughters, right? I mean its the father-son axis upon which the baseball world whirls, right? Thats practically biblical in its foundation and dare we say it, faith? ( I really can't make too much of a hard case for this if at all as my mom and grandma were both ardent Brooklyn Dodger fans and yes they probably spent more time together at Ebbets Field than my father and his and-more to the point- my father and I)
What a resume

It is in the stories apocryphal or not that are passed down, the comments made between innings or between tosses or between swings that we begin to realize that there was a whole other baseball world that your father was part of before you were even born.  I discovered this one day not while laying out a ballfield in the middle of an Iowan cornfield but while coming upon an old volume of Gulliver's Travels, which was mandatory reading back in my old man's public school days (the only required reading I can remember was a story called "Riki Tiki Tavi" and for the life of me I cannot remember the author let alone if I ever finished reading it. As it happened by father went on to Stuyvesant and your obedient blogger managed -one might as well say - a one-way ticket to Balookaville). Written in his neatly printed hand-almost calligraphic ( and this too was a result of a public education system that somehow lifted the teaching of penmanship to a level of advanced calculus)- on the end pages and margins of Swift's great satire, throughout the entire book, in pencilled postings were full line scores and attendant box scores of the 1944-1945 Chicago White Sox and prominently batting third in the line-up was my father- his name exquisitely written in between Tony Cuccinello and sometimes a guy named Moses.
He had worked out with a deck of playing cards a whole system of the game- hits, outs, strike-outs, runs- everything you would need to play a game and evidently he did this throughout that early spring semester edging out the great Luke Appling for the high team batting average and towards the end of the semester while the Allies were pushing across the Rhine and Gulliver was returning to Downs he drove in the winning run in a game against the Detroit Tigers. I read where the great American novelist Jack Kerouac (SEE OUR BLOG PAGE "THE COMMONWEALTH") invented a playing-card based baseball game wherein the obsessive writer recorded all the statistics of all the imaginary players he invented exclusively for his game. My old man was contented to hit behind Tony C who, as a hometown boy making good goes, attended the same high school-Bryant- in Queens as my mom(see our Blog Page "AMERICAN FABLE" on the sentiment of New York City neighborhoods).

Speaking of fathers and sons, the catcher on that White Sox team was a guy named Mike Tresh who, for all you boomers who came of baseball-consciousness in the late 50's and early 60's, was the father of New York Yankee phee-nom, Tom Tresh, rookie of the year in 1962.
The Treshes
I would be remissed in not mentioning that Tony C was the uncle of Sam Mele, who as all those baseball boomers should remember was manager of the 1965 pennant winning Minnesota Twins and a standout out during his younger days at the same high school as his uncle. Funny thing my mom (b"h) never spoke of Tony C or Sam Mele, but one of the reasons she went often to Ebbets Field was to watch her classmate Billy Loes pitch for the Dodgers. He also attended Bryant High School (He once lost a ground ball in the sun while pitching against the Yankees in 1952 World Series). Astoria must have seemed like the baseball capital of New York City at one time. Mele would go on to be a star basketball player at NYU - where he probably played along side Ralph Kaplowitz ( see our blog AMERICAN FABLE) Anyway that was another blog-post a long time ago and as discursive as I can sometimes (sometimes?) be in these seldom read meditations (who can afford an editor anyway?) I was a-thinking some of this being around Father's Day and what red-blooded American boy doesn't associate the event with baseball (probably many but then you wouldn't be reading this brief posting ).

Now in my non-playing retirement years ( my wife stopped playing catch with me long ago - I kept throwing at her ankles) I can just barely recall conversations with my father- snippets really, what the savvy media heads would call sound-bytes and in my case a remembrance of complete sentences is not even a possibility. And thats a crime, 'cause my old man could be quite articulate when he wanted to be-only he wasn't very conversational in his final decades and the only memories I have with him during these times were when we would talk "sports": Did you watch the game today? Are you still betting at Hialeah? What do you think the Giants will do this year?  I always remembered him as a great fan and in my smaller baseball universe he was probably the most knowledgeable person I knew.One of the last conversations I ever had with him went like this:

  Me: "Dad, I think I asked you this once before, but I just want to make sure." Dad: "Ok...what?" Me: "Mays or DiMaggio?"  Dad: "Mays." 

 That was it. There wasn't anymore. I think Bob Costas had a similar conversation with his dad but with a different answer. Bob and I are the same age. He's still working.

You can browse endlessly on the internet machine seeking for all kinds of references and citations and quotes and images and stories about the shared experience that baseball has given fathers and sons. I have come across personal websites and blogposts of sons writing about going to ballgames with their dads or playing catch and in the intimacy of such memories it seems all other encounters during the interlude of being there with your father seem to fade-its just the father and son and the hazy background of the event itself. I can see those monuments on the horizon but the shouting multitudes and attendant noise are muted out and only replaced by the sound of my father's presence. One of those bloggers, a guy named Ian Gotts expressed this eloquently writing in (on?) his blog post, "Baseball fathers and sons":

 "Show me a boy who doesn’t remember playing catch with his Dad on the weekends, or better, on those precious summer nights when Dad would rush home from his job, shake off his work clothes, put on a T-shirt that was always a little too small, grab a mitt, and head into the backyard before the final rays faded away. Show me a boy who didn’t stare in awe at how far his Dad could hit or throw a baseball – no matter bad an athlete his Dad was, and for that shining moment Dad was transformed into a man of unimaginable ability and strength. Only baseball has that magic." 

Magic, why not?

I could imagine Doubleday himself, tossing the ball to his kid on the banks of Otsego Lake in Cooperstown if only he and his lovely wife, Mary, had had children AND if only Major-General Abner had lived in Cooperstown. He may have had an uncle near by. Ah, but such is the stuff of legends. How Abner Doubleday ever made it to Cooperstown is a fine yarn in itself and even if they did not have kids of their own I can more readily imagine Abner and Mary having a catch astride the ramparts of Fort Sumter during that fateful winter of 1860. Mary was there with her husband when the Civil War began.
The General and his bride (Baseball's first couple?)
She had previously written a letter - in righteous anger- concerning what she thought was the abandonment of the small union garrison her husband was in charge of at Ft. Moultrie in Charleston Harbor. The letter

("… In this weak little fort I suppose President Buchanan and Secretary Floyd intend the Southern Confederacy to be cemented with the blood of this brave little garrison.") 

 was intended for her sister and somehow was picked up by several "union" newspapers including the New York Evening Post  whose editor was William Cullen Bryant- a noted liberal and abolitionist and Lincoln supporter who- for those keeping score- was the person who introduced Lincoln just before his big speech ("LET US HAVE FAITH THAT RIGHT MAKES MIGHT, AND IN THAT FAITH, LET US, TO THE END, DARE TO DO OUR DUTY AS WE UNDERSTAND IT.") at the Cooper Union in New York City that may have cinched his nomination and the ensuing election. I wonder if that old gray poet/editor ever made a visit to Astoria in Queens? 31st Avenue?
Madame B.,  deciphering the hidden secrets of yesterday's box-scores

General Abner was a trip as the kids say. That field in Cooperstown might as well be named for Madame Blavatsky who personally named Doubleday in 1878 as head of the Theosophical Society in her absence while she went off to India for a year with George, Paul, John and Ringo. Talk about the myths we live by: America, notwithstanding David Brooks, in a sense, is built on myth. We fans kvell on myth. The Doubleday myth is well-known. The general is even described in biographical  and historical postings as the "mythical inventor" of baseball. But close your eyes and you can almost see him fungoing  them out to Helena in the green mythical probings behind the theosophists' library(uh?). He is a part of the story we tell about our national pastime. His myth is the reason there is a Hall of Fame in beautiful Cooperstown. He himself is not in the Hall. The guy didn't invent baseball after all ( he did invent a certain type of cable car trolley that is still used in San Francisco, however) but he lived a full and interesting life and he is part of the "magical" stories we tell regarding baseball (One of them has the ubiquitous Abner in possession of one General Santa Ana's (remember The Alamo?) wooden legs sometime after the Mexican War ( the one Trump hasn't started yet) and using it as a baseball bat.)  And if you ever visit Mr. Cooper's town ( now there's yet another father-son story to tell) you will see fathers and sons having a catch by the field that is named after him. Mr. Cooper's son by the way was James Fenimore Cooper whose hard to read novels had some sort of affect on our Madame B. herself, to such an extent that the story goes, she ventured up to Canada to find some good-looking shaman or palm reader or something and instead of finding her enlightenment was actually mugged -probably by a drunken hockey fan and so returned to New York.
Playing Catch

    "America’s pastime has brought fathers and sons together for over a century. Sure, it’s a bit cliche, but there’s something about playing catch with a baseball that can really bond a father and son. What’s nice about playing catch with your son is that it can provide opportunities to really open up and have deep conversations with him about life. Even if you don’t get all philosophical, the time you spend in the front yard showing your son how to throw a split seam will be a memory he’ll keep for the rest of his life.
    The father/son bonding power of playing catch is so real, it even lasts beyond the grave!" -from the Art of Manliness

    (I'm sure the theosophists would agree with that last sentence.)

    Bob Feller threw faster than most mortals and played the game with a passion and a decency that too few men had. His father literally built him a field of dreams in the middle of their farm out in Iowa . 

    "I used to play catch with my father in the house. I'd throw from the kitchen into the living room and he's sit there on the davenport and catch me with a pillow. It wasn't long after that that he got a mitt for himself and a glove for me, and bats and balls...Then he made a home plate in the yard, and I'd throw to him over it. He even built me a pitching rubber. When I was twelve, we built a ball field on our farm. We fenced off the pasture, put up the chicken wire and the benches and even a little grandstand behind first base."

    In the winter, they would play in the barn and his father even electrified the place so they could play at night. 
    caption not needed

    (I wonder if Sydney and Max Blumenthal had a catch from time to time -by themselves of course as I doubt they could have found anyone to play with them)

    It should come as no surprise that the evolution of the origin myth has its roots if you will in someone's commercial enterprise. It was important that baseball have its foundational beginnings in America with a strong American narrative behind it: 

    "Modern baseball had been born in the brain of an American soldier. It received its baptism in the bloody days of our Nation's direst danger. It had its early evolution when soldiers, North and South, were striving to forget their foes by cultivating, through this grand game, fraternal friendship with comrades in arms." - Albert Spalding

    Mr.Spalding, a former player himself and one of the early "stars" of the game,was the first player of his rank to actually use a glove and is it any wonder that the man made a fortune in the sporting goods business- sold a lot of gloves I bet and was such a macher that it was he that funded the "Commission" in 1908 to research and report on how baseball began. I guess as long as it DID begin that's all that really counts. It is also interesting -both in an ironic and poignant way that A.G. thought baseball, this grand game, could be a healing grace in the aftermath of our bloody Civil War,  at the rebirth of freedom so to speak. In its way I guess it has been that, through the subsequent years of sturm und drang or storm and drink, which is how I've always mis-translated it ( it was a memory gimmick for a literature exam I managed to flunk anyway). But I'm afraid the fraternal friendship for Mr. Spalding only went so far and no further as for all his success- he also owned the Chicago White Stockings- and love of the game, he was an unmitigated bigot
    Named after his baseball hat
    "Cap' Anson
    as was his manager and star attraction, a guy named Anson who is more significantly remembered today for strongly advocating to keep professional baseball as white as the ball they played with- his fame rests not on his Hall of Fame accomplishments or his baseball "biz" savvy but on the words he allegedly shouted out across the baseball diamond one late 19th century spring day, "Get That N___ Off The Field",  which happens to be the title of the dearly missed Art Rust, Jr.'s book on Black baseball which for some unfathomable reason is not currently available through Amazon (Mein Kampf and the Protocols are always available, however). Art would have scolded me for not filling in the rest and he'd be right as usual but I'm still a "lip reader". Later in his busy career Spalding, too, joined the Theosophist Society ( I believe he still pitched and batted sixth behind Blavatsky). Doctorates, anyone?

    Still, the "fraternal friendship" never deterred African-Americans from playing the game and up until the Anson-Spalding years there was even integrated team play. A little. We know, thanks to John Thorn's research and others that Frederick Douglass, Jr., son of the famous writer and abolitionist, played baseball with the integrated Charter Oak Juniors of Rochester, N.Y. in 1859 ( 1859! The year of John Brown's doomed raid on Harper's Ferry- now I wonder if John Brown himself after a hectic day of agitatin' would come home and just before dinner- nahhhh) The great Frederick Douglass maybe did. We know he enjoyed watching his sons play as we have this account cited in the (Washington, D.C.?) Clipper of July 13, 1867:

    "Fred. Douglass Sees a Colored Game"

    The announcement that the Pythian, of Philadelphia, would play the Alert, of Washington, D.C. (Both colored organizations) on the 15th inst., attracted quite a concourse of spectators on the grounds of the Athletic. The game progressed finely until the beginning of the fifth inning, when a heavy shower of rain set in, compelling the call the game. The score stood at the end of the fourth innings: Alert 21, Pythian 16. Mr Frederick Douglass was present and viewed the game from the reporters' stand. His son is a member of the Alert."

    I love the game. I loved to play it in my younger years, love to watch it in my not so gleaming early twilight. Love to hear others talk and reminisce of their games gone by and of meeting famous and forgotten players of long ago. Love to hear tell how it was when their fathers took them to their very first game; how he showed them how to throw a curve ball- my father would demonstrate the way to throw an overhand curve by snapping his fingers, see, like this, and suddenly he's like a Frank Sinatra or Bobby Darin behind the beat, and he would give a cautionary word about throwing the screw ball by twisting his entire arm and letting it sort of dangle awkwardly -with wrist turned inward, palm outward- because this is how the great Carl Hubbell has to walk around today. 

    For years after he told me this I searched to catch a glimpse of old Hubbell on TV and in the papers to see if this was true not that I didn't believe my old man but it seemed too cruel a fate to inflict on such a legendary player and yet a Canadian writer and baseball fan has confirmed this - not in the ethanfrome-ish deformity that plagued my imagination over the years but still its enough and so from Kevin Glew's "Canadian Baseball History Blog" we read:
    The unnatural throwing motion and unorthodox grip the screwball required would eventually deform Hubbell’s left hand. Later in life, the palm of Hubbell’s left hand faced out from his body instead of against it. 
    Nevertheless, the same concern of my boyhood still confronts me in my older age- Does it hurt? It has been an abiding fear this fear of getting hurt or being hurt and the accompanying pain that must attend the hurting- and conversely the idea of hurting someone else indirectly or inadvertently or unconsciously - a hurting just the same, a pain inflicted by me in either a physical capacity or out of sheer ignorance or arrogance and all the ramifications that linger ( at my side?) through the years after. Which is perhaps why I was never a better pitcher- just couldn't pitch "inside" if you get what I mean. And batting, well, I set all kinds of records well before I realized -or somebody realized- that I needed glasses.

    Nobody missed as many pitched balls in a row as I did. I must have looked good doing it, though, as I made my junior high team only because the coach "liked my swing". I never started. 

    "Learn how to bat pitched balls and train the eye to follow the ball and gauge it accurately."
    When a father (ok, or mother) pitches to their child what else besides the eternal wisdom of keeping your eye on the ball could be said? Is this the proper time to bring up "school" stuff ( see if you can hit this one) or perhaps that long avoided "big talk" of how babies are made ( aw, c'mon, pop, not while I'm hitting) or, in certain cases, why I'm leaving your mother (watch out for my fastball) .
    "Don't be afraid of being hit with the ball. Remember you are about to engage in a contest in which you will have nine men against you,
    and you have every chance of winning, notwithstanding the apparently unequal odds." 

    Its in the doing with the kid, in the being there that these intimate moments should transcend the mechanical motions that are linked- between the throw and the catch, between the pitch and the swing - 

    "...confidence is half the game; and he shouldn't fear a pitched ball; the fact of being

    hit by a ball shouldn't get a man's nerve. It's all in the game, and if a player is enthusiastic over the great national game he will be willing to take the few hard knocks that go with it."

    For the parent may not get many chances to talk to his kid away from a home or workplace or a world full of any number of electronic and digitally induced interruptions - they can and will practice with other kids, later perhaps,  and you can always get them some books written of course by real players who proved their skill time and time again. 

    "If your eyes are at all bad, don't play ball, for you will never succeed.Every ball player needs two good eyes, and he must use them all the time,

    and more especially when he is at bat." 
    And just what else could you talk to your kid about? 
    Well it appears there's plenty of course. But the stuff that white folks, especially, talk about doesn't seem to be, well, cutting it. I mean once you talk about say batting it appears there's nothing else for the eager young ballplayer to learn. There's plenty of books to give him (or her) on " the science of hitting" (Ted Williams), I mean what else is there to read after that? There's an art to hitting (Tony Gwynn) and you can "hit to win" (Rod Carew). Rose, Mattingly, Mike Schmidt, Cal Ripkin, Keith Hernandez etal have all put in their 2-cents. The great Willie Mays has added eloquently to the literature.

    "When a player is at the bat, the only thing he has to consider is the ball, as it comes from the pitcher, and he shouldn't shrink back every time a fast ball comes near him."

    With all that skill and experience available at your local library there's still something about the hands on learning from your dad- Still, I seriously doubt that any father ever started a conversation with his kid while out on the diamond (or anyplace else for that matter) with the phrase "the city fathers of Cooperstown way back in the early days of the bloody nineteenth century banned the kids from playing a version of stickball on their town's streets and greenways". Can you imagine- an early incarnation of our national pastime outlawed from the very town that now enshrines it. I also can't imagine -yet- a conversation that would begin "the country fathers who owned and ran the game of baseball from the last quarter or so of the previous bloody century well into and through almost half of the even  bloodier twentieth century refused to allow a Black ballplayer to play in their professional leagues." Can you imagine? What do white fathers talk about when they talk about racism and hitting the outside curve? They talk about the curve.
    If there seems to be a disconnect here or what a canny editor would have already commented on - actually I would have flunked any essay exam worth its salt before my first paragraph was finished- and that quite clearly would include the comment-" what the hell are you talking about?!"- well, the editor or teacher would be right and I would be sorely assayed for an explanation and they would consider themselves lucky if what they got in return was a RalphKramden stammer. It would have been too prosaic- even for me - to begin this silly attempt at exposition with a simple " while trolling through Facebook one day..." Y'see I have already been through something like this before and- silly me- I tried (poorly, I guess) to get my fellow sports enthusiasts to confront our racism and was, in their facebook parlance, "booed" off the page. Back in January (the 15th) of the current year I ran a post called "Sports Talk With Sam" and was actually told by a fellow Mets fan:  

    "Sam, you're kinda a freak. Stay off my wall. The Mets are the only thing we have in common. Once baseball season ends, you're an asshole."

    So as long as baseball season lasts I'm ok. I wonder what he'd think if I told him him I'll head south for Winter Ball?  But I have stayed "off his wall", and as it so happens, there are many walls on Facebook and Twitter and if I had my way I would tear those down that breach common decency and are closed to revealing us to ourselves. And so I once again stumbled upon another ugly "timeline" while hoping to make friends on the (lose)facebook. Facing unpleasantries about ourselves is a hard nut; about the country we live in it should be a little easier- if we're all in on this together or so I think. But lets face it we're not. I mean, is there anyone who can possibly look on the eager faces of each Republican presidential campaigner and honestly think this is a good thing for America? But back to the curve.

    America if anything is the country of the Great Disconnect. Without spelling it out if we can just cast a critical eye at Jefferson's beautiful Declaration and the noble efforts of those wigged-out patriots during that hot summer of 1787 in Philadelphia it would begin to make my metaphor somewhat clearer.

    I would have invented air-conditioning first then have written the Constitution but I'm lazy that way. Nevertheless the founding fathers do deserve their much recorded credit even though they never quite could agree on the best way to hit the outside curve. Confronting our racist selves - and this applies to whites only by the way and if I hear one more "why" I'll turn this blog around and go home - is reflective of a deeper humanity, at least we have that to look forward to. This shouldn't be a boast. It just is. How we deal with it-aye, there's the rub. 

    For the longest time I have nurtured the thought (such a proud cuss I am) that it may be easier for everyone to accept that every white person is infected with the virus of racism - not unlike the chicken pox or measles that haunt our infanthood- and if not exactly born with it for it would be a difficult nut to prove in a biologically accepted way, then certainly in a metaphorically impressible way say when a small child and even a baby first hears the "N" word. You're not even aware of it. Did somebody just sneeze? Prof Robert Jensen of the University of Texas recently had something to say about this very idea ( remember if I thought of it its probably already an old idea): 


    "So, rather than a list, I want to offer two phrases that white people should never utter.

    The first: “I’m not racist, but …” Whatever follows is almost guaranteed to be racist; if a statement isn’t, there’s no need to announce its non-racism. If you hear yourself forming that phrase, shut up and think about what you intended to say and why. 

    The second: “I know I’m a racist, and …” This is a different evasion, a more subtle attempt at inoculation. Yes, it’s true enough that virtually all white people are socialized into some kind of white-supremacist thinking (myself included) and that the struggle to unlearn those lessons is not simple and never completed (again, personal experience here). And all white people, even those who might legitimately claim to have purged all that racist training, still retain the advantages that come with being white. 
    Prof. Jensen
    But invoking the “I know I’m a racist” trope is dangerous. Instead of suggesting you have transcended white supremacy, you confess immersion in it, as if the confession is evidence of clarity and therefore whatever comes next is beyond challenge, given your heightened level of white self-awareness. But the “confession” is disingenuous; if we cannot distinguish between progressive white people working to achieve racial justice and members of the Klan—if all white people truly are “racist”—then the word has no meaning. It’s dishonest for progressive white people to claim to be beyond racism, but it’s counterproductive to pretend that none of us have made meaningful progress. 
    Checklists can remind us of important rules. 
    Checklists can remind us of important rules. But the main rule is to cultivate the instinct for critical self-reflection—which we too often suppress because it can be painful—so that we believe in ourselves enough to be honest with others. Instead of striving to be white allies doing the work, we can do our best to avoid the many traps white supremacy lays for us and struggle to be fully human. We white folks cannot expect others to treat us as if we are fully human until we believe it about ourselves.

    (We had previously cited Prof Jensen and his singer/songwriter wife, Eliza Gilkyson, in our post, It's Just The Whiteness of You on March 30, 2013.)                                                                                                       

    As usual the Professor makes a convincing point but I am obstinate or obtuse? enough to still consider my(?) infectiously imposed theory and to maintain it as a medical student would observe a fever chart highlighting our racist tendencies and machinations over a particular period of time - when it starts rising we know hopefully to increase our dosage of self reflection or at least stay in bed until the fever subsides. 

    I suppose Charlie Lau may have had a catch or two with his son during his too brief lifetime. For over half of it Mr. Lau was a major league ballplayer, a back-up catcher most of the time, and, later,  a revered batting coach. Even though most of his playing days were spent on the bench - after eleven years with various clubs, he attained a .255 batting average, hit 16 home runs, 140 rbi's, struck out only 150 times in 1170 at bats and amassed 298 total hits. He died of colon cancer at the age of 50. His last 15 years or so were employed as a hitting coach and thirty years after his death he has almost a mythic recognition as being one of the game's pre-eminent teachers. As an example of his dedication to the art of hitting one of his "students", George Brett, gives him much of the credit for his own success. He also left a checklist behind that his son has used to continue his legacy of how to hit a baseball. There are books published and websites devoted to continuing the teaching and any number of testimonies from his former students. His son's published guide is titled, " Lau's Laws On Hitting by Charlie Lau, Jr." 

    Good eye

    Unfortunately what caught my untrained eye was his father's rep and so I naturally was curious as to what the son had to say about hitting (I, too, have my theories on how to hit but I'm afraid they're even more inarticulate than this post) and so visited his "site".

    Charlie Lau may have talked to his kid about hitting but it appears he never talked about being a decent human being nor if the following conversation is any indication the history of our national pastime and as copied below I was again confronted with what I know is an ugly racism and not just an opinion and once again wasn't sure how to counteract such a blatant and public posturing:                        
    Charley Lau  May 16 at 2:36pm 
     To laugh often and much;
    to win the respect of intelligent people
    and the affection of children,
    to leave the world a better place,

    Charley Lau shared Eagle Rising's photo.

    Paul S :  Barack is just as bad as the looters as for as I am concerned.

    You gotta be BLEEPING me....................
    Al Sharpton - worse than Al Capone?
    • 79 people like this.  
      Bill C : I'm no Sharpton fan, but Capone whacked people.

  • Charley Lau : Yes, and Sharpton incites racism and violence, which gets others to whack people. For example, Police Officers.........

  • Charley Lau : Agreed, Paul

  • Nick D : bigotry is alive in well with Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Obama and his wife who I believe is worse...

  • Charley Lau  : You got that right, Nick.

  • Nick D  : God help us all when Hillary Clinton wins...Don't get me wrong I am all for a black man or a woman being President, but could we get some decent human beings as candidates?

  • Johnny P Sharpton whacked people too......majority of police killings were incited by him
  • John O :  His color is his ace in the hole.
  • Joe M :  Hates white people

  • Nick D :  He doesn't even really like black people, certainly not the ones that work hard for a living or who's ancestors marched peacefully for their freedom...

  • Jeremy F :  Lol. I agree. But Capone didn't get that sentence for tax evasion. It was the way to get him

  • Tom W :  He's an ass!!!!!!
  • Donald F :  Sharpton is an fbi informant. That's how
  • Jose V :  Sharpton never killed anyone....he's just a jerk that we have to tolerate.
  • Jacqueline C : he is still breaking the law

  • Johnny P :  Saying sharpton didnt kill anyone is like saying charles manson didnt kill anybody.....neither physically did...but both talked enough to get others to do it

  • Craig C  : Need to lay the smack down on his candy ass! lol

  • Larry C :  He should be shot !!
  • Jay P :  Al Sharpton , is nothing. shooting him is to quick, A Hanging would be better.......
  • Dan J :  Here's what you don't understand ,these people believe there has to be some payback for what was done in the past... even though it wasn't done to them by us...we should experience what their fathers did at the hands of our fathers so everything can be even. That's evil.... sins of the father crap.
  • Charley Lau  : Oh no Dan J, I understand plenty.........
  • Paul S :  Many things have been done. Laws passed. programs etc. Every group has had to deal with prejudice. Itaians. Irish, Polish, Jews, Asians, etc. They all suffered and overcame. Many strugle to this day. When will the rest take resposibility and stop blaming ev eryone else?

    Like · Reply · 1 · May 16 at 7:56pm · Byron M :  Pretty sure he PAID his taxes rather than aviod like Big Al but don't let FACTS get in the way!

    Charley Lau  : Before my time, you tell me... Birch ?

    So Charlie Lau, Jr thinks that maybe some guy named John Birch was a better hitter than the guy with the highest batting average than everyone else- not that he was a peach either.

    I never got around to telling him that.