Sunday, October 03, 2010

Schalk honored by Litchfield

While researching my Ray Schalk biography, I observed to Litchfield civic leader Bill Dees that Litchfield is the boyhood home of a major league Hall of Famer but has nothing to inform visitors of this.

As local awareness of Schalk increased with release of my book, Dees was able to raise money to have a sign erected at the Litchfield city limits.

Dees today sent me this photo and this caption information:

Almost 95 years to the day after the first Ray Schalk Day in Litchfield (October 15, 1915) City of Litchfield Street Department workers Curt Evans, Jerry Hull and J.R. Beckham put the finishing touches on the installation of a sign recognizing the impact Ray Shalk had on future baseball players in Litchfield.

On May 8th 2010 a rededication plaque was unveiled at Ray Schalk Field. During this event a number of people indicated that the City needed a sign at the West edge of the City marking Mr. Schalk's entrance into Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame. Volunteer funds were received from the BRS Baseball Museum in Nokomis with the assistance of Steve Johnson, Litchfield Baseball, Litchfield Rotary, Litchfield Park District, Contemporary Service, Ben Schwab, Mike and Paula Hall, the Todd Neuhaus family, other anonymous donors along with the Author of the Ray Schalk biography, Brian Cooper.

Litchfield tourism director Carol Burke reviewed the graphic and local sign artist Jerry Dever produced the paint on aluminum sign with the assistance of the George Press Inc. and MD Designs by Metal D├ęcor.

It was nice of Dees to mention me, and to credit others involved, but this would not have happened without former Mayor Dees taking the lead.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Streak of perfection

For only the second time ever, Major League Baseball has had two perfect games in the same season. And, like the other occasion, in 1880, they occurred in the same month.

May 2010 is when Oakland's Dallas Braden and Philadelphia's Roy Halladay (pictured) recorded 27 consecutive outs to notch only the 19th and 20th perfect games in major league history. Some 130 years ago, Lee Richmond of Worcester and Providence's Monte Ward threw perfect games just five days apart in June 1880.

The subject of my latest published biography, Ray Schalk, was the catcher the fifth perfect game ever. On April 30, 1922, Charlie Robertson, making only his fourth major league start, blanked Ty Cobb and the Detroit Tigers.

MLB, which has gone years and even decades between perfect games, has now seen three perfect games in less than a year. Mark Buehrle of the White Sox had one last July. Note that after Robertson (with Schalk's help) threw a perfect game in 1922, the next perfecto did not come until Don Larsen's historic performance in the World Series of 1956 -- a span of 34 years. This span was less than 34 days.

Here is the list of perfect games, and a list naming the catchers with a hand in history.

Photo: Associated Press

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Higher than face value

Thanks to Google Alerts, I receive e-mail notices and web links to mentions of the subjects of my past and future books, Red Faber, Ray Schalk and Jay Berwanger.

Some alerts tag blog references. Many of those are comments by supposed experts categorizing Schalk as a terrible pick for the Hall of Fame because of his .253 career batting average -- ignoring, apparently, that he was a long-time star because of his defense.

Anyway, the alerts also notify me when memorabilia or, occasionally, my Faber or Schalk biographies hit ebay or a blog.

Today I learned that someone is trying to sell copies my Schalk biography for $33.36 (plus $4 for shipping). Thing is, the book lists for $29.95 (plus $4 shipping) from the publisher's web site.

Quite the bargain. I'd autograph and ship the book for less than $37.36.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ray Schalk Field re-dedicated

On a bitterly cold and windy Saturday morning, Litchfield (Ill.) staged its annual Little League parade to open the 2010 season.

Ceremonies included re-dedication of Ray Schalk Fields, named after the Hall of Famer who grew up in Litchfield (and was the subject of my latest biography). I was listed as the "keynote" speaker, and I had to ad lib somewhat. I couldn't hold my script and the microphone without having one or the other blow away. (Yes, it was THAT windy.)

The ceremony brought to Litchfield about 18 members of the Schalk family. The baseball star's grandson Jim Schalk (pictured), with his wife, Laura, drove all the way from Florida to be there. Other Schalks traveled the 250 miles from the Chicago area.

After the unveiling of the plaque to honor Ray Schalk, we adjourned to the new Maverick restaurant, where I presented my slideshow and visited with family members and folks from the Litchfield community. Some of the relatives had lost track of each other through the years, so they had some catching up to do.

Despite the February-like weather, it was a great day.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Nice to have been in the running

I received word today that my book Ray Schalk: A Baseball Biography was not selected for the 2010 Larry Ritter Award of the Society for American Baseball Research. The award goes to the year's best book focusing on the Deadball Era (1900-1919).

The honor went to Robert Peyton Wiggins for The Federal League of Base Ball Clubs, which was published by McFarland (publisher of my Schalk and Red Faber biographies).

The Schalk biography was among the 10 or so finalists did not advance to the top three in the judging. Congratulations to Mr. Wiggins.

Though it would have been great, obviously, to have a book rank higher, it was nice to have a book nominated for the award.

I doubt that my next book will even be considered for this award. After all, it's a football biography.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Schalk and the Super Bowl

I set Google Alerts for various topics of personal interest, including the name Ray Schalk. Usually, it hits listings for memorabilia sales and blogs by guys who look at Schalk's low batting average (.253) and decree that he should not be in the Hall of Fame, no matter how great he was at defense. (As if the Hall has no offensive stars whose defensive liabilities were overlooked by electors...)

However, about the last place I expected to see Schalk's name pop up was in a story related to the Super Bowl. Yet, there he is, mentioned in a Major League Baseball feature about ex-Major Leaguers who once played in this season's Super Bowl cities.

Schalk managed Indianapolis of the American Association in 1938 and the first half of 1939, when he "resigned." Schalk also has a link to the home state of the other Super Bowl city, New Orleans. When he was player-coach of the Chicago White Sox (1927-28), the team trained in Shreveport, La., in the extreme northwest corner of the state, some 340 miles from New Orleans.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Another review

I came across another review of my Ray Schalk biography. It is more a summary of the book than a review, but it did get this person's rating of 5 -- out of what? 5? 10? 100? I hope it's 5!