Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mr. Holland's Opus

A few summers ago, when I was in Texas researching High Heat, I spoke with Derek Holland about what it was like to have Nolan Ryan as the president of the ballclub he pitched for. What kind of influence did Ryan have, if any?
"We talk a fair amount," said Holland, who was struggling at the time. "The bottom line is he wants me to step up. He wants me to become a pitcher."
It took a while but Holland stepped up in helping the Rangers square this year's World Series.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

RFK in Indianapolis

The night Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, it fell to Robert Kennedy, then running for the Democratic Party nomination for president, to tell a crowd in Indianapolis the bad news. Speaking from the heart, from little notes, he told the crowd that his family had suffered from such a tragedy. Of course, that was a reference to his brother's death in 1963.
That evening in Indianapolis, RFK quoted the Greek poet Aeschylus (Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget/falls drop by drop upon the heart) and closed by telling the crowd, "Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world."
Of course, Kennedy's speech came the night after King gave his "Mountaintop" speech in Memphis. An amazing 24-hour period that's highlighted in SUMMER OF '68, which will be out from Da Capo this spring.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lolich's other commitment in 1968

Mickey Lolich struggled during much of the 1968 regular season. His National Guard obligations often kept him away from the ballclub for weeks at a time. Stationed 200 miles north of Detroit, he tried pitching to anybody who would catch him -- high school players, weekend warriors, even a priest. It did little good as Lolich ended up in the Tigers' bullpen. In fact, Lolich's plight was played out on almost every team, where younger players tried to satisfy their military commitment with the Vietnam War at its height by being in the Guard.
"It wasn't the best of situations," said Nolan Ryan, who was also in the Guard at that time.
Of course, Lolich would go on to great success in the '68 World Series, becoming the last pitcher to throw three complete-game victories.