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When honesty, baseball writing went hand in glove

The Old Ball Game How John McGraw, Christy Mathewson, and the New York Giants Created Modern Baseball Frank Deford Atlantic Monthly Press: 242 pp., $24 * Best Baseball Writing 2005 Edited by Matthew Silverman and Greg Spira Carroll & Graf: 308 pp., $14.95 paper

April 03, 2005|Roger Kahn | Roger Kahn is the author of many books on baseball, including "Head Game," "October Men" and the recent "Beyond the Boys of Summer: The Very Best of Roger Kahn." Copyright 2005, Hookslide Inc.

Where then is baseball writing headed this year, next year and after that? I used to be pleased after ballgames to talk to, say, pitcher Warren Spahn, as he sat on the bench in his underwear, and ask, "What happened in that six-run fifth inning, Spahnie?" Since Spahn had total recall and was one honest left-hander, the answer was rewarding. I pitied the political writers who never got to ask Eisenhower after a State of the Union speech, "What went wrong in paragraph eight there, Ike?" Or the music critics, who didn't get to interview Bernstein or Von Karajan in underwear or tux, and were left spouting personal opinions to those who cared and those who didn't.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday April 06, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 58 words Type of Material: Correction
Baseball review -- In Sunday's Book Review section, a description of pitcher Warren Spahn in a review of "The Old Ball Game" and "Best Baseball Writing 2005" suggested that he sat in the dugout while he talked to reporters and changed clothes after games. In fact, it should have said that he did this in the locker room.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday April 10, 2005 Home Edition Book Review Part R Page 10 Features Desk 1 inches; 55 words Type of Material: Correction
Baseball review -- A description of pitcher Warren Spahn in an April 3 review of "The Old Ball Game" and "Best Baseball Writing 2005" suggested that he sat in the dugout while he talked to reporters and changed clothes after games. In fact, it should have said that he did this in the locker room.

Today's multimillionaire players may be innately as honest as the old-timers, but they have semi-millionaire agents jabbering, "Image, man, image. Watch the image!" That sort of advice does not encourage outpourings of truth. We had an honorable craft and I felt baseball writing was at the very cutting edge of journalism. I'd like to see sportswriters and editors stage a mini-revolution against managed news and, of course, I'm all for greater literacy too. If sportswriters fight for access and sports editors start reading Thomas Hardy, we will be starting back on the right pathway up the hill. *

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