Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - November 18, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta
Jolurdoy, It, 1972 THI IETHSMDDI rifltAlD Book reviews Profiles of Dodger baseball heroes The Voice Of One -By DR. FRANK S. MORIEY "The Boya of Summer" by Roger Kahn (Harper nnd Row, 442 Tributes to the baseball play- er Jackie Robinson have been many and magnificanl since bis recent death. None is finer than that contained in this hook pub- lished well before Hobinson'3 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 centre stage; and wherever lie 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 the 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, "1 sat like everybody else, and thought, 'Good. He's getting a chance to play major league ball. Isn't that And that's as far as I was at that time." Then referring to the black people who today arc put- ting Ilobinson 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 1930s. 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 slurYes, 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- beis 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 mr.n got a job wilh the Herald Tribune and the assignment to cover his beloved Dodgers. It all rolls together in an enter- taining and informative story a necessai'y backdrop to the profiles. Bowie Kuhn, commissioner of baseball, incy 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 doesn'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 wilh which it is played. Roger once introduced his fa- ther to Charlie Dressen, man- ager of the Dodgers. Dressen spoke in his usual coarse IESJI- ion but when Roger referred to it somewhat aplogclically, 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. 57.50. 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 lor 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 lime to 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 L Phofo by Gordon Kahn Modern thought's structure Overcoming handicaps "Caught Short" hy Donald Davidson (McClelland and Stewart Lid. 177 pages. Don Davidson is Ihe assistant lo the president of the Atlanta Braves of the National Base- ball League. He is also the team's travelling secretary the same position Lethbridge's Eddie Ferenz -holds with the Philadelphia Pliillies. 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 OT Ihe olher with the Braves for over 35 years, working wilh them in Boston, Milwaukee and now At- lanta. This is a heart-warming, hu- morous, deeply human account of those 35 years. Tlie book most assuredly serves as an in- spiration to others similarly handicapped. Davidson lives with his con- dition. He jokes aboul it as the title of the hook would in- dicale. He also accepts jokes about his height wilh humor and grace Fred Haney once said, "When Don hits a golf ball he hollers Iwo instead of four." The book is full of baseball people with Henry Aaron com- ing to the fore as one cf Bon's all-time favorites. Of Aaron's G73 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 Ueckcr. 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 Ihe only midget lo play in a major league game. Davidson's ap- pearance, however, was in an exhibition game you guessed il, he walked. With all the books out today putting various sports down it is a pleasure lo 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 major: book on life as it should be free from prejudice and of accepting an individual ac- cording to his lalents, not his physical or racial background. G. A. Best sport writing "AHcr the Game: A Col- Jcclion o( (ho Host Sports Wriling" soloclcd by John McCarthy (Doild. Mend and Company, S8.30, 275 The sub-tille indicates Ihnt the focus of this book is on writing rather than snort. Some of the great names among sports wrilors appear as well us some writers who do not usually cover sports. At the beginning of Ihc bonk Is a piece about Willie Mays by Pcler Kchrag in which Ihe. gracefulness of the prose malchrs Iho gracefulness of Ihe baseball player's movcmcnls. folding Ihc collodion is a long essay by Norman Mailer nhont the boxer Muhammad Ali in K'liich the word pictures reach I magnificent level. com- parison lo these Iwo wrilors, Ihc so-rnllod "Dean of Smirls Grniillnnd like, locsn't show up well wilh his feal uro on baseball's Bate Ruth. Almost as intriguing as the wrilcrs' skill wilh words is Iho choice of subjecls: a hostile jockey; an amateur golfer in the Crosby tournament; the Iwginnings of Sports Illustrated; the first black foolball coach at a newly integrated high school; a weekend of football wilh two couples; a bit of Slcn- gelcso; [lie belting game In the slamls nt Wrigloy Field in Chi- cago; a promising llnrlom baskrlb.-ill player who loses out to drugs; rasslin'; Ihc extraor- dinary skill and determination of Mildred (Babe) Didrikson Xnharias; Ted Green's return lo hockey alter being felled by n high slick. Even I hose who rio not follow sports would find reading many nf the Ili stories lo be nn eii- Joynhlc experience. n. w. "The Structure of Mndern Thought" by J. 1'. McKinncy (Clarke, Invin and Company Limited. 59.00, 33.1 Lucretius, the great Homan poet said once: 'While you still Jive, death is absent; if you are dead you are so dead that you cannot know }-ou 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 he complained lhat in my statements I contra- dict mystclf I can only reply well then I contradict my- self." Mr. McKinncy expresses his views with astonishing clarity. His book is for the grealest part void of (he usual esoteric talk confronting us in books of pluiosophy. One doesn't need a philosopher's philosopher (as for example, Kant, whore scho- lars still arc divided today as to what he really meant) lo understand his nrpumcnls and grasp its implications. Critical of mosl of the philo- sophers, conlemnorary and pasl, he distinguishes clearly between criticism ,-id critical examination. He lakes a new look at ancienl problems, de- plores (lie intellectual vacuum left by philosophy and asks Ihc qucslion "bow do we know wlial we In his view a hap- pening and a spectator arc the origin of knowledge, wilh know- ledge being a relationship be- I ween a knowing subject and a thing known. The crisis in philosophy ho al- Iribulos lo Ibe f.nol Mini things are often so obvious il is diffi- cult lo bring them lo discus- sion. The world is ,-in "e.xpcri- ricntinl' conslruclion preceding experience and experience pre- ceding knowledge. A word bo described as a "sound (tins n meaning" and n meaning as "a common Knowledge is t o the of a n y one individual hut a function of individual experience. lie repudiates an inslanlan- cous leap from inslincl lo (bought as hi1 docs I bo empiri- cist's claim nf thought hning a natural phenomenon nnd Iho Iransccnrlcnlalisrs idea of hav- ing a suixrnnliiral origin. His world picture is a body of com- mon experience in which di- ve rsc experiential outlooks combine (o become n common focus of meaning. Meaning is not independent of nil cxpericco but "n fimolion of all expor- iccc, a relalionship between experiences. Somconn onco mid: "phllo- opsophy is not Lo talk about tilings, it is to talk about talk." Mr. McKinney doesn't show the ph'ght 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. Mc- Kinncy tries U> distance him- self as much as his handling ot 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 lhat 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 lo the slruclure of modern thought. HANS SCHAUFL God and evil probed "Cod Ihc Problem" by Gor- don D. Kaufman (Harvard University Press, 511, 27G One of Ihe truly astonishing things in the contemporary scene is the ready admission of belief in God by so many people. It is astonishing be- cause so much that is taken for granted today conspires against the acceptableness of traditional ways of conceiving Gcd. Tlie nolion, for instance, of a God who performs deliberate acls in and upon the should logically be very prob- lematical for mosl modems. It has been by excluding refer- ence lo a transcendent agent, after all. that man has gained knowledge and conlrol over the natural course of events. Harvard Divinity School Pro- fessor Gordon D. Kaufman lakes Ihe problen- of conceiv- ing Cod in Ihc modfrn world to lie a mailer of importance even if opinion po'ls thai this isn'l any problem for the Books in brief "Talcs l-'rom Iho Ifiloo" rdilrd and translated by Man- lier .Molayoi. (llnrlip rub- lishn-s. 127 pages. This is K scries of 22 F.skimn myths highlighted by vivdly col- ored illus.rations from tho brush of Eskimo artist Agnes Nanogak. Unlike Ihc legends of Ihe North American Indian, these myths draw no moral nnd in.'iny have no eliding; some are nbsolulcly senseless. Tho book in n word wierd. G. A. majority of Vieslerners. 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 clanly lo the concept of God by work- ing with 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 lalks with me' in close in- terpersonal communion, giving his full attention lo my com- plaints, miraculously extracting me from difficulties.'' By giving up the image of God as a genie, a cosmic magi- cian, and accepting Ihe idea of an 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 lhat of units of several thousand years. God's action is evocative ra- ther Mian coercive. Man's relationship is thai of a free and responsible agent in a con- text of love, lie acls, if con- sciously religious, with refer- ence to God who defines a of life and an uildorslinldiiip of the wtrld suggested by love. This is nol nn easy Imok In road but does nol monn il is the comprehension of ordinary mortals. It roquiros effort which could have some nvw.irds for thorc wlio find (heir own glib nffi.malions nnd denials of God soniewh.Tl dis- nulplinp. T personally do not know of a more satisfying dis- cussion of the problem of evil Mum flint contained in (his book. DOUG WALKER Can man survive 2000 A.D.? When I 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 leachers, 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 prophels 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 ot 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 Ihe atom bomb conclusively demolished thai fable. The most popular form of prophecy, how ever, is found in the report of the Cluh 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 modern 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 threaled by pollution. Sea is being stripped of fish and land ot 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 liave 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 tne "withering away" of nationalisms, which show little signs of doing so, but a man like Professor Johann Galtung of the Oslo Intel-national 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 eive you much optimism. There are men and women in- credibly saintly and good, but the majority are incredibly savage. It looks as if Iho Bible was right! The Amos 'JV Andy Oil Company By Frascr Hodgson J'M sure it wasn't an incorporated com- pany, and I don't think it teas 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 b'e quietly in its grave. But I was there and had a little to do with it, so 111 tell you what I re- member. It happened In the liUIe town of Cabrl, 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 Nels 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 wilh a quart sealer full of a clear colorless liquid. Everyone remarked that he was getting his brew better looking all the time, 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 even- farmer was after. If they could save money by side- stepping the local dealer, they were all for it. They had to borrow barrels from nim or buy their own, and then haul it theni- sehcs. or pay extra to have him haul it. Nobody used lanks because you 'ook Ihe fuel to the field, you never drove a tractor lo the farmyard. A few braved the AS mile dirt-road drive lo Swift Current and hauled fuel to save the dealer's and rail- way's profit, and that may have started the idea of forming a locse 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 [his is where I'm real fuzzy about tlu'ngs, how did [hoy get their supply of fuel, and where did it come from.? Some was brought to Cabri by farm Iruck, but 1 think most was hauled from a town on [he main line. As soon as flic so-called company was formed [hey bought a slor- nge lank, and shipped Tops in by fankcar load on Ihe CPU. The arrival of the tank- on a flalcar was the first I realized there was n company, as I h.irl lo help unload nnd jcl it up. And Ui.il dny was Ihe first I'd henrri it called by name. 1 never knew who officially hung I be name on il. bin I -ilw.ivs credited our pnrks depnrtnienl .iger Billy Lander with Ihc honor. II would take almost a life and riealh crisis lo keep him away from his rnclio at Amos 'N Andy time, so why shouldn't be be the one lo come up wilh such n wonderful name. II n.ilur.illy followed lh.nl Nels Iwamc the "Kingfish." Tlie flnlcar was spoiled Iwo clc- valors, mid tho company tad n load of gravel leveled to set it on. across the fencs on land belonging lo one of the sharehold- ers. A more affluent group would havt 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 lo roll it the ten-cent bets Hew around that it would roll anywhere from main street lo 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 "tankfann" 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 elowly 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 lo a slop. Then we had to get a tractor and cable to roll It tlie rest of the way, and then set it up. Most company members had barrels of their own for home storage, but those tliat depended on other company barrels had to do something different. Nels found a com- pany in Rcgina or Wiruupcg that built semi-finished tanks cf galvanized iron, so they sent for three to try Uiem out. I got roped into selling them up. and I've never cared for soldering since. They had tn be put together inside a small granery, be- cause they had no lop and had to be covered. The boltoni came in a big round piece about seven feel in diameter, wilh edge rolled lo take Ihe lower edge of the tank, and I had (o crimp Die hvo edges to- gether in Ihe grancry and snider the joint. Tiie farmer had lo build a board cover lo retard evaporation, and use a pump or syphon hose lo get the fuel out. A few dust storms soon proved this lype of sloragt was useless. About two weeks later a company mcm- lier came lugging the cylinder head from his tractor inio the shop wilh. "Iley como looket this.'' The intake were al- most plugged solid wilh carbon, and tho buildup was so thick on Ihe valves they were practically .stuck. It look some time lo decide Ihc IrouMc was caused by the new fuel Tops, and everybody concerned got a slight sinking feeling. Their engines were made for burning heavy fuel, so this light sluff was partly burning in the heat- ed intake manifold and intake valve ports. It worked fine in cars IKV.IUFC of Ihc cold manifold dcfign, so some tried culling holes in tmctor manifolds to relieve llto bc.il. Tho Amos Andy Oil Company wcnl on Ihc dot-line about then, and il was some years More n satisfactory ciimbina- lion manifold wn.s dr.Mcncd to burn oilher light or heavy fuel The Company didn't linger oil Its do.nlh- bed very lung, il quirk and merciful, because Ihc fuel Ihe members liad lo liavo was nearly us cheap from (he local deal- ers. Like ninny wonderful Ideas dial start wilh so much enthusiasm, it died prc- inalurtiy. nnd now there -ire von1 few left IJ'.al even remeuiSiT Uie funeral, or whtrn lo look (or Ihc of 'lite Amos 'N Andy Oil Company.