Page 21


CALENDAR OBSERVANCES June 18, 1954 Guatemalan government overthrown in CIA-supported coup. June 19, 1953 Ethel and Julius Rosenberg executed. June 22, 1970 President Nixon signs law giving 18-year-olds the vote. June 25, 1938 Congress grants some workers protection in Fair Labor Standards Act. June 26, 1947 Department of Defense created. June 27, 1869 Emma Goldman born. June 27, 1905 founded. June 28, 1969 Stonewall Rebellion in New York City marks start of modern gay-rights movement. June 30, 1982 Equal Rights Amendment lapses without ratification. FOR VICTIMS OF AIDS IN AUSTIN food, dry goods, cleaning supplies, and other useful items for people with AIDS. 458-3505. KEEP UP ON SANCTUARY NEWS For $5 you can keep up on sanctuary movement news nationally subscribe to National Sanctuary Newsletter by sending $5 to Terri English, 8419 Highway 973, Austin, 78719. NORTH TEXAS GREENS The Dallas-based Upper Trinity Greens have changed their name to the North Texas Greens. They are still seeking like minded souls who share their commitment to ecological wisdom, personal and social responsibility, grassroots democracy, nonviolence, decentralization, community-based economics, etc. They meet weekly on Sunday afternoons from 3 to 5 p.m. Call HELP FOR OLDER JOB HUNTERS The Austin Women’s Center offers a special program to assist men and women 55 years or older in the search for a job. For more information, contact Marcela Laird at the Center, 1700 South Lamar, 9666. TEXAS OBSERVER RADIO DEBATE SERIES “Dead Armadillos: Is there life for the Democratic Party in the middle of the road?” Monday, May 20, 7:30 p.m. At Scholtz Garden in Austin Victorian bourgeoisie. An off-shoot of cricket, baseball was originally played by men in straw boaters and pantaloons in front of appreciative crowds of tea-drinking ladies. Fromrner bumps Abner Doubleday from the head of the line and credits the game’s invention to Alexander Jay Cartwright, who, in 1842, began organizing games in vacant lots in Manhattan’s financial district. Within a few years, Cartwright had transformed his team, the Knickerbockers, into a restricted club with 40 members paying $15 a year in dues. Baseball might have remained a protoyuppie phenom and survived only as a feisty variation of croquet had not the Civil War and the country’s westward expansion dispersed it across the states and throughout the social classes. In the 1860s the sport was played by union soldiers in confederate prison camps and by pioneers out on the wagon trail. By the time the American centennial arrived, baseball had become a thoroughly proletarian affair. NATURALLY, as theory dictates, there was a cabal of capitalists standing ready to exploit the new market. In February of 1876, Chicago White Sox’s owner William Hulbert locked a group of eastern businessmen in a New York hotel room and badgered, wheedled, and cajoled the National League into existence. Hulbert’s team dominated the decade behind the pitching of Albert Spalding later a sporting-goods tycoon and Hulbert used his financial ascendancy to impose a sometimes benevolent tyranny on the game. Hulbert eliminated the gambling and corruption that had previously been widespread at big-city ball parks, and he worked to formalize regulations and enliven the game. The better part of his energy, however, was devoted to the complete and total subjugation of his players, a passion which his fellow magnates as owners preferred to be called ‘quickly embraced. The players, however, did not bear the yoke of capital willingly; in the era of the Haymarket riot and the populist revolts, the Irishmen and Germans who populated the majors were not about to be peacefully domesticated. In 1885 the magnates slapped a $2,000 a year salary limit on their employees a mistake that nearly cost the moneybags their empire. Athletes responded by forming the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players, the first American sports union, then in 1890 by launching their own league. The Player’s League had more attendance, higher revenues, and better play than the National League but lacked the resources to hold ranks against the green ammunition in their opponents’ arsenal. After a season of disastrous financial losses, the National League poobahs offered sufficient bribes to pry the best players away from their comrades, and the Players League folded, another noble experiment swept away by the fetid water of commerce. In the final decade of the century, baseball began to settle into a form we would today acknowledge. The owners were shrewd enough to pay their superstars the salaries necessary to keep them happy, and with enlightened regulations and stable playing schedules in effect, the ball players themselves were able to devote their energies to perfecting this kinetic artform. The lesson of Frommer’s book seems to be that as a discipline improves technically it becomes more tame socially. This is an interesting thesis, and Frommer might have given us a longer book with some real analysis of the social evolution baseball underwent in the last century. As it is, this brief work lacks the depth I would have preferred it has neither the sweep nor the impact of Frommer’s elegiac New York City Baseball: 1947-57 published several years ago. Instead, the author has served us a platter of greasy, crunchy anecdotes, salted with nuances and deep-fried in the hot fat of American myth. And, indeed, the morsels are tasty. Here is the great John Ward, a Columbia Law School graduate and three-time stolen base champion, a Manhattan socialite who nearly held the Players League together by the force of his personality. Here is Candy Cummings, who invented the curveball tossing clamshells on the beaches of Brooklyn. Here Moses Fleetwood Walker, the first black man \(pace to play big-league baseball, driven from the game by protests from fans and players. And here are the marvelous, forgotten teams the Toledo Mudhens, the Cleveland Spiders, and the Brooklyn Eckfords. There is, in the names of these forgotten teams, a certain nostalgic clatter. If primitive baseball didn’t make beautiful music at least it woke up the house. El THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21