Thursday, June 30, 2011
Gone With the Wind
You could certainly say that today, but, wonderfully, it's a comment about baseball in 1884, soon after it became a professional sport. It's from Fifty-nine in '84, the story of Hoss Radbourn, a "barehanded baseball" player in the days before gloves and helmets and few regulations when players were literally putting their lives in each other's sometimes broken hands day after day of play.
Already the National Pastime in the 1860s, and as the country built itself back up after the Civil War, it was at first a joyful, fun, leisurely, healthy game played by whole towns--one early version was called "town ball"--and celebrated in poetry, notably by Walt Whitman!
Once cut-throat competitive strategies and money moved in, the game got fast-paced and ruthless. A pitcher could throw the ball straight at the batter if he wanted. And did. Hoss Radbourn was hit in the chest the season before his titular season and unable to pitch for a time but got back in the game by grit and willpower.
Sort of like Scarlett O-Hara! Gone With the Wind is 75 today.
I heard this story on NPR this morning, on my way home from lap swimming in the glittering sandy-bottomed pool. (I took swimming lessons in this same pool and did "water ballet," or synchronized swimming as it is called, olympically, today. Ah, those water ballet days are gone with the wind....)
Susan Stamberg went to Atlanta to see where Margaret Mitchell wrote her novel, in a tiny ground-floor apartment, on a Remington, while laid up with an ankle injury. She wrote it to entertain herself after she ran out of things to read!