Well, hi there. Been awhile. Hope you’re doing well. A good deal to catch up on but first, my latest rant.
I was recently in Manhattan for the 47th Annual Convention of the Society for American Baseball Research. It was nice seeing old friends and meeting new ones made via social media for the first time face-to-face. (You can read about it on my other blog, Ron Kaplan’s Baseball Bookshelf.) One of the high points for me was interviewing Claire Smith, formerly of The New York Times, who will receive the Baseball Writer’s of America Association’s Spink Award this summer at the Baseball Hall of Fame. That honor is bestowed for meritorious contributions to baseball writing, so kudos, Claire. What a gracious lady. I’ll be posting that after the holiday.
Another highlight was a session about Jim Bouton, author of the seminal Ball Four, the book that changed the way we perceived our athlete heroes. Sadly, Bouton has been in poor health over the past few years. He and his wife, Dr. Paula Kurman, were going to announce the he was suffering from cerebral amyloid angiopathy at the session because they considered SABR a part of their family.
Unfortunately that sentiment was made moot when the Times published this article by Tyler Kepner — which appeared in the print edition on Sunday — on their website on Saturday, a few hours before the program. Ultimately, it was a very bittersweet moment with Bouton receiving the praise he so richly deserves for his contribution not only to sports literature, but to literary culture in general.
I’m guessing the Times did not know about the Boutons’ plans, that this wasn’t an effort to “scoop” the competition. But it does annoy nonetheless. This was news that should have come from “family.”
It’s a very poor analogy, but it’s like letting slip to the guest of honor that he’s getting a surprise party. That almost happened to me when my wife said something on the way to a Mets game at the beginning of last month. She had arranged for a bunch of friends to join us and no one said anything to make me suspicious until she and I were on the train to Citi Field and she mentioned that she had told one friend the wrong subway stop. This was someone who would have absolutely no business coming to a baseball game, so I thought it odd for a moment before focusing my intellectual energies on something else.