Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - November 18, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta
Solurdoy, Novemb.r It, 1972 THI IFTHSMOOI iifMID Book revieivs Profiles of Dodger baseball heroes The Voice Of One "The Boys of Summer" by Roger Kahn (Harper and Row, 442 Tributes to the baseball play- er Jackie Robinson have been many and magnificanl since his recent death. None is finer than that contained in this hook pub- lished well before Robinson's death. The book was not con- ceived as a Robinson centred narrative; it was simply un- avoidable that he was of cen- tral interest in this account of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950s. Robinson, says Roger Kahn, "did not merely play at centre stage. He was centra stage; and wherever he walked, centre stage moved with him." Few men have made such an impact on race relations as Jackie Robinson. He broke the color barrier in professional baseball and paved the way for black people in that sport and other sports and in American life in general. Acceptance of black people has not gone near- ly far enough but the distance Jackie Robinson pushed back the barriers is remarkable. Only after Robinson had es- tablished himself as a star and other black men followed him into the major leagues was Hie full measure of his courage realized. Some of the insults and assaults heaped on him both on the playing field and off are found in Kahn's book. They make a sensitive person wince. One such person was teammate Carl Erskine. He was too fine a person to engage in any of the nastiness but now, looking back, he regrets that he didn't do more to make Rob- inson's lot easier. Talking with Kahn 20 years later he said, "f sat like everybody else, and thought, 'Good. He's getting a chance to play major league bull. Isn't that And that's as far as I was at that time." Then referring to the black people who today are put- ting Robinson down, Erskine went on to say, "Carmichael and Brown can never under- stand what Robinson did. How hard it was. What a great vic- tory." Roger Kahn covered the Brooklyn Dodgers for the old New York Herald Tribune in the early 1950s. From late 1963 to early 1971 he undertook to find the men who played on that team and with whom he had associated and do a series of profiles on 13 of the best known. These are exceptionally good stucVes, full of insights into the diverse characters and almost always touching on how they reacted to their brush with history in the person of Jackie Robinson. One of the 13, of course, was Robinson himself who lived long enough to be able to read this book and savor the tribute it contains. Prior to the profiles there is a long account of Kahn's own life in relation to the Dodgers. He grew up in the shadow of Eb- bets Field where the Dodgers played and was encouraged in a love of baseball by his fath- er, a scholarly man who was the brains behind the popular radio program "Information Please." Almost miraculously Roger Kahn as a very young man got a job with the Herald Tribune and the assignment to cover his beloved Dodgers. It all rolls together in an enter- taining and informative story a necessary backdrop to the profiles. Bowie Kuhn, commissioner of baseball, may have been un- necessarily upset by Jim Bou- ton's revelations (in his book, Ball Four) of the somewhat less-than-saintly behavior and utterances of major league ballplayers. Roger Kahn ctoesn't attempt to whitewash his heroes either but if his fath- er in any way typifies the base- ball nut then the commissioner has nothing to worry about. Baseball nuts tend to be blind to anything but the game and the skill with which it is played. Roger once introduced his fa- ther to Charlie Dressen, man- ager of the Dodgers. Dressen spoke in his usual coarse ism- ion but when Roger referred to it somewhat aplogetically, his father replied, "I can tell at once that he's an intelligent man." Good sports writing has class and this book is first- class. There are marvellous phrases: "baseball spreads twenty minutes of action across three hours of a "the fan tires the clock by "Rickey had a Puritan distaste for money in someone else's "the noise (the fans) made, like sunshine, lit the "Certain athletes who grew up in the Great Depres- sion played that way, the mon- grels of poverty tearing at their calves." As a fan, an admirer of good writing, and a respecter of Jackie Robinson this book gets all star rating from me. DOUG WALKER Football squabbling "Sunday by Noel B. Gerson. (George J. Mc- Leod Ltd. 288 pages.) This is a football book with a different angle. Instead of dealing with a super-hero play- er, Gerson's main character is Robin Stephens, a general man- ager of the fictitious Chicago Cougars of uie National Foot- ball League. The story is full of intrigue, with behind the scenes squabbling over a vary- ing range of problems homo- sexuality, drugs, conspiracy, sex. It's a different slant and for the most part it reads well. Professional football is bus- iness and not a sport to Steph- ens and he thinks of a winning team in the terms of gate re- ceipts and not necessarily the end result on the Scoreboard. From a strong beginning Ger- son gels common when he hits the football season itself, and a little unreal, as well as get- ting himself confused with his own use of numbers from time io time. A fantastic season by a questionable team is the crux of the book. All in all though it's not bad reading. The one poor aspect of the book, which has nothing to do with the writing, is the lousy proofreading. It's the first time I've noticed so many mistakes in a major novel. G. A. JACKIE ROBINSON Photo by Gordon Kahn Modern thought's structure Overcoming handicaps "Caught Short" by Donald Davidson (McClelland and Stewart Ltd. 177 pages. Don Davidson is the assistant to the president of the Atlanta Braves of the National Base- hall League. He is also the team's travelling secretary the same position Lethbridge's Eddie Ferenz "holds with the Philadelphia Phillies. Don Da- vidson, however, differs greatly from the other executives in baseball, Don Davidson is a midget. Only 48 inches high, Davidson has overcome his physical handicap and has serv- ed in one capacity or the other with the Braves for over 35 years, working with them in Boston, Milwaukee and now At- lanta. This is a heart-warming, hu- morous, deeply human account of those 35 years. The book- most assuredly serves as an in- spiration to others similarly handicapped. Davidson lives with his con- dition. He jokes about it as the title of the book would in- dicate. He also accepts jokes about his height with humor and grace Fred Haney once said, "When Don hits a golf ball he hollers two instead of four." The book is full of baseball people with Henry Aaron com- ing to the fore as one of Bon's all-time favorites. Of Aaron's 673 home runs Don has only missed seeing him hit one and he feels certain Aaron will eventually top Babe Ruth's mark of 714. Former Leth- bridge Kinsmen Dinner guest, Bob Uecker. finds his way into the book with his off-beat hu- mor. Davidson got into a major league baseball game long be- fore Eddie Gaedel, the man credited wilh being the only midget to play in a major league game. Davidson's ap- pearance, however, was in an exhibition game you guessed it, he walked. With all the books out today putting various sports down it is a pleasure to read this ac- count by a man who is etern- ally grateful for baseball and the opportunities it afforded him despite his physical dis- advantage. If not a major book on baseball this is certainly a majov book on life as it should be free from prejudice and of accepting an individual ac- cording to his talents, not his physical or racial background. G. A. Best sport writing "After the (lame: A Col- lection of the Rest Sports Writing" selected hv John McCarthy (Dodd. Mead and Company, SS.50, 275 The sub-title indicates that the focus of this book is on writing rather than snort. Some of the great names among sports writers appear ns well as some writers who do not usually cover sports. Al the beginning of Ihc bonk Is a piece about Willie Mays hy Telcr Kchrag in which liin gracefulness of the; matches tho gracefulness of I he baseball player's movements. Ending the collection is a long essay by Norman Mailer about tho boxer Muhammad Ali in ivhich the word pictures reach magnificent level. com- parison In these two writers, the so-railed of Swirls Or.inlland liiee, locsn't show tip well with his feature on baseball's Bate Ruth. Almost as intriguing as the writers' skill with words is the choice of subjects: a hostile jockey; an amateur golfer in the Crosby tournament; the beginnings of Sports Illustrated; the first black football coach at a newly integrated high school; ,1 weekend of football wilh two couples; a bit of Rtcn- gelesc; Ihc belling game in Ihc Klands at Wriglcy Field in Chi- cago; n promising Harlem plnycr who loses out Io drugs; rasslin'; the extraor- dinary skill nnd determination of Mildred (Babe) Didrikson Zaharias; Ted Green's return to hookey niter being felled hy a high stick. Kvcn I hose who do not follow sports would find rending many of Ihc ir> stories Io be tin en- joyable experience. n. W. 'Tlie Structure of Modern Thought" by J. P. McKinney (Clarke, Invin and Company Limited, SD.OO, 3M Lucretius, the great Roman poet said once: 'While you still live, death is absent; if you are dead you are so dead that you cannot know you are dead, nor regret it. You will be as much at ease as before you were born." and he was quite positive about it. Structure of Modern Thought author J. P. McKinney says 2000 years later, after much philosophical elaboration, "and if it should still be complained that in my statements I contra- dict myslolf I can only reply well then I contradict my- self." Mr. McKinney expresses his views with astonishing clarity. His book is for the greatest part void of (he usual esoteric talk confrcnling us in books of philosophy. One doesn't need a philosopher's philosopher (as for example, Kant, where scho- lars still are divided today as to what he really meant.) to understand his arguments and grasp its implications. Crilical of most of the philo- sophers, contemporary and past, he distinguishes clearly between criticism crilical examination. He lakes a new look at ancient problems, de- plores the intellectual vacuum left by philosophy and asks Ihc question do we know what we In his view a hap- pening nnd a spectator arc the origin of knowledge, wilh know- ledge being a relationship be- tween a knowing subject and a thing known. The crisis in philosophy lie at- Irihutps Io Ihe fact Mini things arc often so obvious it is clilfi. cult to bring Item Io discus- sion. The world is an "cxpcri- ricntial" construclion preceding experience and experience lire- ceding knowledge. A word ho described as a "sound plus a meaning" and n meaning as "a common Knowledge is to the experience of any one individual hut a function of individual experience. He repudiates an inslanlaii- eous leap from inslinel In I bought as he (Iocs I he empiri- cist's claim nf thought bring n natural phenomenon nnrl tlio jransecnricntalisrs itkvi of hav- ing a supcrnnlurnl origin. His world picture is a hotly of com- mon experience in which di- verse experiential outlooks combine to become n common focus of meaning. Meaning is not independent of nil experieco but "n funelion nf all exper- icce, a rolalionship between experiences. Someone, onco said; "phllo- opsophy is not to talk about Uu'ngs, it is to talk about talk." Mr. McKinney doesn't show the plight of many philo- sophers who express them- selves in most ambiguous ways. Descartes said: "words often impede me and I'm almost de- ceived by the terms of ordin- ary language." Language has developed from the ordinary but there is still the big gap between everyday talk and in- tellectuals talking to intellec- tuals. Of the latter, Mr. Me- Kmncy tries to distance him- self as much as his handling of this interesting book allows him to do. He presents his elabora- tions in for the reader a most gratifying manner and leaves him with the image that honest mistakes must be nearer to the truth than nonunderstand- able mumbo jumbo. I think you should allow your- self to journey with the author from our pre-cultural past via our cultural heritage to the structure of modern thought. HANS SCHAUFL God and evil probed "God the hy Gor- don D. Kaufman (Harvard University Press, 511, 27G One of the truly astonishing things in the contemporary scene is the ready admission of belief in God by so many people. Tt is astonishing be- cause so much that is taken for granted today conspires against the acceptableness of traditional ways of conceiving Gcd. The nolion, for instance, of a God who performs deliberate acts in and upon the should logically bo very prob- lematical for most moderns. It has been by excluding refer- ence to a transcendent agent, after all, that man has gained knowledge and control over the natural course of events. Harvard Divinity School Pro- fessor Gordon D. Kaufman Uikcs the problem of conceiv- ing God in Hie modem world to be a matter of importance even if opinion polls that this isn't any problem for the Books in brief "Tales l-'rom the Igloo" rcliled and translated hy Mau- rirr Melayrr. (llurlig ruli- lishers. 137 pages, This is ;i series of 22 F.skimo myths highlighted by vivdly col- ored illu3.rations from the brush (if Eskimo artist Agnes Nanng.'tk. Unlike the legends of the North American Indian, these myths draw no moral and iii.'iny have no ending; some aiT absolutely senseless. The book in a word wierd. G. A. majority of That may be because his profession requires him to think about the issue. No attempt is made to prove the existence of God; what is attempted is to give clarity to the concept of God by work- ing wilh the model of agent. The kind of agent that emerges is a rather far cry from the one held in pietistic circles. "This is no God who 'walks with me and talks with me' in close in- terpersonal communion, giving his full attention to my com- plaints, miraculously extracting me from difficulties." By giving up the image of God as a genie, a cosmic magi- cian, and accepting the idea of on agent working through eons of time to achieve objectives, the troublesome problem of evil is considerably mitigated. Pro- fcsso' Kaufman can even af- firm belief in progress "despite such horrifying symbols of our contemporary degradation as Auschwitz and Hiroshima" be- cause his perspective is (hat of units of several thousand years. God's action is evocative ra- ther (ban coercive. Man's relationship is that of a free and responsible agent in a con- text of love. He ads. if con- sciously religious, with refer- ence Io God who defines a of life and an underslanding of the suggested by love. This is nol nil easy Imnk In read but that does not me.-in it is the comprehension of ordinary mortals. It requires effort which could have some rewards for those, wlm find their own glib nffi.millions and denials of God somewhat dis- nuieling. I personally do not know of a more satisfying dis- cussion of the problem of evil Ihnn 1.1ml. contained in this hook. DOUG WALKEU -By DR. FRAHK S. MORIEY Can man survive 2000 A.D.? When 1 studied theology in Montreal dur- ing the thirties, only crackpots were be- lieved to take prophecy seriously. The prophets in the Bible were held to be ethi- cal teachers, speaking to the sins of their time, and this they undoubtedly did. Now the pendulum has swung in the other direc- tion and an increasing number of scholars consider that the prophets were not merely but who spoke of the climax of human history. The extra- sensory perception studies of scientists at Duke University, demonstrating that cer- tain people definitely have the gift of pro- phecy, have made such opinions highly res- pectable, while Billy Graham and scores of others have made them popular. Nor can anyone read the Bible, including the Old and New Testaments, without realizing that the prophets of Israel, along with Jesus, Peter, Paul, and John, definitely be- lieved in an historical development which would bring history and the universe to a climax. In my day in college it was fash- ionable to belive that man was evolving to a final Utopia, every day in every way be- coming better and better. Stalin, Hitler, and the atom bomb conclusively demolished that fable. The most popular form of prophecy, how ever, is found in the report of the Club of Rome, a group of 30 individuals from 10 countries scientists, educators, econo- mists, humanists, industrialists, and nat- ional and international civil servants who gathered in April 1968 in the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome at the instigation of Dr. Aurelio Peccei, an Italian industrialist- economist, to study the predicament of modem man, and who have issued one of the most important books in this or any other century, "The Limits to (Universe Books, New Man has for- gotten that he lives in a finite world where raw materials like silver, tin, and uranium are being exhausted, and growth and en- vironment are sadly throated by pollution. Sea is being stripped of fish and land o( fresh water, and the population may reach seven billion before the year Without a most rigorously rational and moral ef- fort to build a totally new type of human society, mankind can only end in disaster, possibly in the next 100 years. Many conferences Have been held, not- ably at Kyoto, Cambridge, Oslo, Moscow, and last September in Bucharest whera hundreds of scientists gathered from al- most every country on earth to discuss their common future. Reporting the meeting for the British Weekly, Brian Cooper says the experts took "a surprisingly optimis- tic" view of man's future predicting pro- gression which is not "wholly pessimis- Mankind may yet develop a plane- tary awareness with the growth of satellite information on health, crops, and culture for the poorest areas of the world and "wired communities" are brought into re- lationship. Famous scientists contend that mankind could only be saved by the "withering away" of nationalisms, which show little signs of doing so, but a man like Professor Johann Galtung of the Oslo International Peace Research Institute fear- ed the development of a new super na- tionalism, which fits right in with biblical prophecy! Robert Jungk, author of "Man- kind says that technological develop- ment must be accompanied by "individual and the quest for profit must give way to "the re-education of sensibi- lity." Brave words, Dr. Jungk, but the facts of human nature cannot give you much optimism. There are men and women in- credibly saintly and good, but the majority are incredibly savage. It Jooks as if the Bible was right! The Amos 'IV Andy Oil Company By Fraser Hodgson J'M sure it wasn't an incorporated com- pany, and I don't think it was even registered as a society or a partnership, just sort of a handshake agreement among a few friends. There was no president, secretary, or executive that I ever heard of, and today it would probably be called a "Happening." The company didn't live very long, and in fact within the organiza- tion I don't think it was thought of as a company, just a self-service to its mem- bers. I'm not sure just when it died, and really there are so many things I don't know about the affair, that maybe I should just forget it and let it lie quietly in its grave. But I was there and had a little to do with it, so I'll tell you what I re- member. It happened in the little town of Cabri, Saskatchewan, about halfway up the Em- press line from Swift Current. It was in the summer of 1930 and I was working as serviceman for Nek Peterson, the local International Harvester dealer. I think it all started one hot summer afternoon that six or eight farmers were sitting around the showroom, when in walked another one with a quart sealer full of a clear colorless liquid. Everyone remarked that he was getting his brew better looking all the tune, but he just grinned and removed the top and passed it around for each to sniff. It smelled like gasoline, and burned clean when they spilled a little on the floor and set it alight. He wasn't sure where It came from, but he knew it was Anything for cheaper operation of this nearly new farm- ing era, was just what farmer was after. If they could save money by side- stepping the local dealer, they were ali for it. They had to borrow barrels from nim or buy their own, and then haul it them- selves, or pay extra to have him haul it. Nobody used tanks because you 'ook the fuel to the field, you never drove a tractor to the farmyard. A few braved the 45 mile dirt-road drive to Swift Current and hauled fuel to save the dealer's and rail- way's profit, and that may have started tlie idea of forming a loose kind of co-op. I suppose they each put some money in a bank- account, or maybe just somebody's hip pocket, for equipment that might be required. Now this is where I'm real fuzzy about Uu'ngs, how did they get their supply of fuel, and where did it come from.? Some was brought to Cabri by farm truck, but I think most was hauled from a town on the main line. As soon as the so-called company was formed they bought a slor- nge lank, and shipped Tops in by tankcar load on the CPR. The arrival of the tank- on a flalcar was the first I realized there was a company, as I had Io help unload nnd fd. it up. And Hint day was Hid first I'd heard it called by name. 1 never know who officially hung Hie name on il. but 1 always credited our parts department mnn- ,-iger Billy Lander with Ihc honor. II would take almost a life and death crisis In keep him away from his radio nt Amos 'N Andy time, so why shouldn't he be (lie one to conic up with such a wonderful name. II naturally followed dial Nels became Iho. "Kingfish." The rinlcnr was spoiled between two ele- vators, and Iho company tad load of gravel leveled to set it on. across the fencs on land belonging to one of the sharehold- ers. A more affluent group would havo poured a cement pad for the tank, but grav- el would hold it all right, and let water out if it ever rained enough to run under- neath. The tank took up most of the flat- car, and after we got two bridge timbers in place to roll it down, the ten-cent bets flew around that it would roll anywhere from main street to just fifty feet away. Someone said we should let it down with a tractor and cable, but the "Kingfish" poofed that idea with, "Naw just let 'er roll." The owner of the "tankfarm" land had already taken the fence down, and all loose spectators ran up on the elevator ap- proach out of the way. It took off slowly but gathered speed in a hurry, and its bulk set up enough breeze to move the dry Russian thistles out of the way. The fol- lowing cloud of dust was pretty thick, but we still saw it bounce over the elevator grade, and rock a few times in the ditch before it came to a stop. Then we had to get a tractor and cable to roll It the rest of the way, and then set it up. Most company members had barrels of their own for home storage, but those that depended on other company barrels had to do something different. Nels found a com- pany in Regina or Winnipeg that built semi-finished tanks of galvanised iron, so they sent for three to try them out. I got roped into setting them up, and I've never cared for soldering since. They had to be put together inside a small granery, be- cause they had no top and had to be covered. The bottom came in a big round piece about seven feel in diameter, with edge rolled Io take the lower edge of the lank, and I had to crimp the two edges to- gether in the granery and snider the joint. The farmer had to build a board cover Io retard evaporation, and use a pump or syphon hose to get the fuel out. A few dust storms soon proved this lype of was useless. About two weeks later a company mem- ber came lugging the cylinder head from his tractor into the shop with. "Hey coma looket this.'1 The intake passages were al- most plugged solid with carbon, and tho buildup was so thick on the valves they were practically stuck. It took some lime to decide the trouble was caused by tho new fuel Tops, and everybody concerned got a slight sinking feeling. Their engines were made for burning heavy fuel, so this light stuff was partly burning in the heat- ed intake manifold and intake valve ports. It worked fine in cars because of the cold manifold design, so some tried culling holes in tractor manifolds to relieve Iho heal. Tiie Amos Andy Oil Company wenl on the (let-line about then, and il was some years Wore n satisfactory combina- tion manifold w.-is designed In burn oil her light or heavy fur-! The Company didn't linger on Its death- bed von' long, il quick and merciful, because Ihc fuel Iho members had Io liava was nearly as cheap from the local deal- ers. Like many wonderful Ideas that slart wilh so much enthusiasm, it died pre- maturely, nnd now there .ire very few left that even remnnSiT Uip funeral, or whew Io look for Ihc he.idsUmn of The Amos 'N Andy Oil Company.