For reasons sufficient unto myself, I’ve been ambling through some early 20th-century newspaper archives. The best part of all this has been disinterring the sports prose of one W.J. Slattery of the long-dead San Francisco Call.
Suffice it to say, if a man like Mr. Slattery still brandished his quill (which, I imagine, he did in much the same way that decorated cocksman Aaron Rowand brandishes his bat) then the print dailies of the world would not be in such a state of crisis.
Why do I say this? Please dig his lede from April 8, 1907, in which he mourns a San Francisco Seals loss to the Portland Beavers:
The Seals had enough of the left-over victorious spirit to put it on the Beavers when the teams made their bow to the Oakland fans yesterday morning, but the afternoon mixup before a house that was overflowing was a delusion, a snare, an imposition and a joke to the admirers of the native talent who were rooting for San Franciso. Never was the score a tie.
This “snare” was particularly surprising if you’d seen the mighty Seals go through their warm-up liturgies:
The Seals rushed on to the field with seemingly an overstock of real pepper when the bell rang. They whisked the ball around in practice like a flock of two-time pennant winners. There was confidence in the demeanor of each man; In fact, the entire team made the play so strong that the majority of the spectators conceded them the game before the first ball had been pitched.
And of the villain of this story, the poised Portland hurler by the name of Mr. Groom who vanquished the Seals despite the triumphalist vigor of their infield practice, Slattery writes:
It was his curves that kept the Seals off the bases in virtually every Inning, though the willing fans did the best they could to ruffle the youngster by saying things that only a baseball rooter can say when he feels like talking.
Indeed, the things a baseball rooter will say when he feels like talking.
Yours truly is a baseball rooter, and he happens to feel like talking: Mr. Slattery, we need your like and ilk among us today.
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