April 1st, 2013
My old friend–and by old I refer both to the duration of our friendship as well to his nonagenarian status–Ray Robinson has written a new book(let). It has been published more or less to coincide with Opening Day, that national celebration of hope. My hope is that one day, when I grow up, I can be like him.
As an impressionable lad I read Ray’s stories at SPORT Magazine and his annual paperback volumes, published under the rubric Baseball Stars. Ray’s role in my eventual career path is uncertain, but it couldn’ta hoit. I read his later, more substantial biographies of Lou Gehrig and Christy Mathewson when I was already hardboiled as a sportswriter and was equally impressed.
The new opus is Peanuts, Popcorn & American Presidents. It is available as an ebook, as described by its publisher here: http://www.nowandthenreader.com/peanuts-popcorn-american-presidents/. Let me offer a snippet to whet your appetite.
“Reagan never lost his affection for baseball and truly adored his annual presidential role of throwing out the opening-day ball. His form and style were proof of his athletic ability. He also watched his share of baseball on television. On the September night in 1985 when Cincinnati’s Pete Rose smacked a single in the first inning at Riverfront Stadium to break Ty Cobb’s all-time hit mark of 4,191, President Reagan was well aware of what was going on. As soon as the game ended, and while the Reds players celebrated the occasion at home plate, the president put through a congratulatory phone call to Rose.
“In his soft, low-key salesman’s voice, Reagan told Pete: ‘You’ve set the most enduring record in sports history. Your reputation and legacy will live for a long time.’
“Even at such an overwhelming moment, Pete was not at a loss for words. ‘Thank you, Mr. President, for taking time from your busy schedule,’ he said. ‘And you missed a good game!’”