The Braves’ ABC, by Ring Lardner
Yesterday some Twitter pals and I were going around about all-time great baseball books, and inevitably Ring Lardner’s You Know Me Al came up. (Miss Grundy, I hasten to note that the title bears no comma.) Friend Steven Goldman, MLB Editor for SBNation.com, asked for his pick, replied, “It’s not 100% a baseball book, but I spent a lot of time with the Library of America’s Ring Lardner compendium.” He had that right. The Black Sox Scandal would sour Lardner on baseball for life, though he would continue to write on the subject now and then, concluding in 1933 with Lose with a Smile.
“I got a letter the other day,” Lardner once said, “asking why I didn’t write about baseball no more, as I used to write about nothing else, you might say. Well, friends, I may as well admit that I have kind of lost interest in the old game. A couple of years ago a ballplayer named Babe Ruth, that was a pitcher by birth, was made into an outfielder on account of how he could bust them, and the masterminds that control baseball says to themselves that, If it is home runs that the public wants to see, why, leave us give them home runs!”
But today, with a tip of the hat to a new SABR publication titled The Miracle Braves: Boston’s Original Worst-toFirst World Series Champions, I am thinking about the impending centennial of baseball’s greatest upset. To buy the book, or–better yet–join SABR and get this and many other books free, see: http://sabr.org/latest/sabr-digital-library-miracle-braves-1914.
The Braves’ A. B. C.
Ring W. Lardner
Chicago Daily Tribune, September 4 and 5, 1914
A is for August, a month that is hot.
And some people like it, while others do not.
The Braves seemed to like it in spite of its heat,
For during its progress they couldn’t get beat.
B is for Brown, and he catches the pill
When Gowdy and Whaling are both of them ill.
They say he’s descended from old Mr. Brown
And was born on a farm or perhaps in some town.
C is for Catcher and also for Crutcher;
The former’s not much and the latter’s not mucher.
It’s for Collins, Cottrell and for Cocreham, too,
Whom I never heard of and neither did you.
D is for Dugey and Deal and Devore,
And also one other — a total of four;
The other is Davis, whom I never say,
But he once went to school with my brother-in-law.
E is for Evers, whom we’ve not forgotten.
He used to play ball for the Cubs, but was rotten.
He was canned from the beautiful job that’s now Hank’s,
And ever since then he’s been murmuring “Thanks.”
F is for Fred — Freddie Mitchell’s his name.
He seldom infrequently gets in the game.
He once was a catcher, but now he is through;
He merely tells others what they ought to do.
G is for Gilbert, and also for Gowdy.
The latter I know well enough to say “Howdy.”
The dope on young Gilbert is not to be had,
But possibly old Billy Gilbert’s his dad.
H is for Hess; old, antique Otto Hess,
Who’s seventy-seven years old, more or less.
He pitches left handed and hits the ball well
And hopes the French army will finish in disgrace.
I is for me, who am writing this thing,
I followed the Braves down to Georgia one spring.
But those whom I followed have all got the can,
With one lone exception — George Tyler’s the man.
J is for James, whom his teammates call Bill,
He pitches and puts lots of stuff on the pill.
A lucky young pitcher is William Bill James,
For he pitches but one out of every three games.
K is for Kick, which is part of the pastime
And often prevents its completion in fast time.
It’s also for Kale, which the Braves will all get
If they win this here race, which is not over yet.
L is for Lose, which I’m now telling you
Is something the Braves have forgot how to do.
It’s also for Last, which is where they were at
Before they went crazy as any old hat.
M is for Mann and Moran and Maranville,
Not one of whom comes from Decatur or Danville.
And neither Moran nor Maranville now can
When size is considered, be classed as a man.
N is for Nickerson, Brave secretary.
He once was a capable, clever, and very
Efficient and breezy baseball writing cuss,
And look at him now! There is still hope for us.
O is for Ouch! Which is frequently spoken
By persons whose knee-caps and knuckles are broken
By Boston men’s wallops, both liners and grounders,
In the game of baseball, which is glorified rounders.
P is for Pitcher Perdue, known as Hub,
Who was recently swapped to the St. Louis club,
And if the Braves cop, I do hope they’ll be fair
And cut in poor Hub for a full (loser’s) share.
Q is for Quinn, now a Federal hurler,
And quite a consid’rable sort of a twirler.
A job as a Boston Brave pitcher was his,
So he’s pulling for Boston to win (Yes he is!).
R is for Rudolph, once canned by the Giants,
And now he’s one-third of the triple alliance,
Consisting of Tyler, himself, and Bill James,
Whose purpose in life is to pitcher all the games.
S is for Strand, Smith, and Schmidt and I guess
That Stallings’ last name is begun with an S.
He’s boss of the Braves, and as such he’s a star,
For look what he’s got! And then see where they are!
T is for Tyler, left handed but sane.
He works like a horse, but he doesn’t complain.
He’s awfully chesty, so I have heard tell,
Because he’s a friend of R. W. L.
U is for Unies, and I will admit
That the Braves’ Uniforms don’t look pretty nor fit,
But as long as they’re winning their games, I suppose
We would love ‘em if they didn’t wear any clo’es.
V is for Verses, things written in rhyme,
I write clever verses when I have the time.
This verse I’m now writing might be very clever,
But I can’t be working on one verse forever.
W stands for both Whitted and Whaling.
The latter’s first catcher when Gowdy is ailing.
And when Mr. Stallings wants some one to hit it,
He sometimes most gen’rallly leaves it to Whitted.
X will now stand for X-cuse me, which I
Am anxious to say to young Connolly. Why?
Because I forgot him when I was at C,
And I don’t want him to be angry with me.
Y is for You, you brave Boston brigade!
You’re made of the stuff of which champions are made!
If you win the title, you ought to feel great,
(Until the Athletics have trimmed you four straight.)
Z is for Zowie! and Zowie’s the noise
That is made by the bats of the Connie Mack boys,
When the bats meet the ball, as they usually do,
(James, Rudolph, and Tyler, I’m sorry for you.)
[Zowie, as it turned out was the noise made by Stallings’ boys, who swept the mighty A’s in four games to win the lone world championship of the Boston Braves in the modern World Series. The next time the Braves won they would be in Milwaukee, in 1957, and then not again until they played in Atlanta (1995).