Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Wodehouse & baseball: extra innings


Yesterday's post about P.G. Wodehouse and baseball was linked to from such disparate sources as the Village Voice books page, Bookslut, the sports sites Deadspin, MetsBlog (Let's Go Mets!), Baseball Musings and many more...and we ended up with 10,000+ hits and counting over the course of a few days. How very strange.

(Right) Jeeves climbs to the top step of the dugout for his curtain call and tips his cap to his adoring fans.

Unfortunately I couldn't find a baseball player with the nickname "Plum" to share with Mr. Wodehouse himself and bring the whole project back full circle (the closest I could come was "The Georgia Peach"), but as an homage to the wonderful names in baseball, here’s a quote from the great Roger Angell on novelists and baseball names. As one might expect, he has me beat:
“No novelist has yet been able to concoct a baseball hero with as tonic a name as Willie Mays or Duke Snider or Vida Blue. No contemporary novelist would dare a supporting cast of characters with Dickensian names like those that have stuck with me ever since I deciphered my first box scores and began peopling the lively landscape of baseball in my mind—Ossee Schreckengost, Smead Jolley, Slim Sallee, Elon Hogsett, Urban Shocker, Burleigh Grimes, Hazen Shirley Cuyler, Heinie Manush, Cletus Elwood Poffenberger, Virgil Trucks, Enos Slaughter, Luscious Easter, and Eli Grba. And not even a latter-day O. Henry would risk a conte like the true, electrifying history of a pitcher named Pete Jablonowski, who disappeared from the Yankees in 1933 after several seasons of inept relief work with various clubs. Presumably disheartened by seeing the losing pitcher listed as “J’bl’n’s’i” in the box scores of his day, he changed his name to Pete Appleton in the semi-privacy of the minors, and came back to win fourteen games for the Senators in 1936 and continue in the majors for another decade.”
Smead Jolley! Elon Hogsett! Cletus Elwood Poffenberger! Luscious Easter! How could I have missed those?
--John Mark

2 comments:

Fnarf said...

Don't forget Ping Bodie.

Linkmeister said...

Inspired by Angell, I wrote a similar post on April 20, 2003.