Saturday, June 23, 2018

Pitching Phenom Babe Ruth Didn’t Get an Out, Still Shared No-Hitter

Young Boston hurlers Ernie Shore and Babe Ruth.  At 6' 4" Shore toward over the sizable Ruth.

Things went to hell in a hurry for the Boston Red Sox in the first game of a Sunday double header on June 23, 1917.  The team’s young phenom Babe Ruth took to the mound against the Washington Senators at Fenway Park.  The big baby faced hurler was just 22 years old and in his third full season in the majors.  But he was already attracting attention for the blazing fastball that caused American League hitters to whiff futilely more often than not.
Lead off for the Senators was second baseman Ray Morgan who like Ruth had come up to the Big Leagues from the old Baltimore Orioles of the International League.  Either Ruth was a bit wild that day or Morgan had a discerning eye and laid off some pitches that seemed to flirt with the edge of the plate.   Home plate umpire Brick Owens sent Morgan to first on a base on balls.  Ruth begged to differ.  Voraciously.
As Morgan trotted to his base, Ruth and Owens exchanged words.  Owens threatened to toss Ruth if he did not “get down and pitch.”  Ruth yelled back, “Toss me and I will break your nose!”  That, of course drew the thumb.  Ruth charged the plate and clipped Owen with a glancing blow to the head.     Player/manager Jack Barry and a bunch of Boston police had to drag the enraged Ruth off the field.  Also ejected was catcher Pinch Thomas
Ernie Shore 1916 baseball card.
In those days way before teams carried boat loads of relief pitchers and specialists, Barry had few good options, especially with a second game coming up that afternoon. To keep from completely busting his rotation, he called right hander Ernie Shore to the mound.  Shore had come from Baltimore in the same trade with Ruth.  And he was even bigger than his team mate, standing 6’4” and tipping the scales at 220.  If Ruth was star of the future for the team, Shore was decent journeyman, the kind of hurler modern sportswriters call an inning eater.
Shore had to take the mound with hardly any warm up.  At first base Morgan probably felt he could get a leg up on the new battery.  But catcher Sam Agnew quickly threw him out trying to steal second.  With that out Shore settled into facing the rest of the rotation.  And settled he did.  He proceeded to retire the remaining 26 Senators without allowing a base runner, earning a 4–0 Red Sox win.  He fanned only two and it did not seem as if he was working hard, but he handled a number of bunt attempts and kept hit balls mostly to grounders that his defense ate up.
For some years the official record books credited Shore with a perfect game.  But since Ruth coughed up the walk the game is now officially listed as a shared no-hitter.  Still it was one of the game’s epic accomplishments and set a record for a relief appearance that will probably never be matched.
As for Ruth, he was fined $100 and suspended for 10 games.  Owner Harry Frazee also ordered him to make a humiliating public apology.
The team went on to a 90-win season, finishing in second place to the Chicago White Sox.  Manager Barry and four of his team mates enlisted in the Navy and were called to service at the end of the season and spent the war year of 1918 in a gob’s navy blue instead of baseball flannels.
Shore was one of the team’s Navy enlistees.
The big pitcher was born in East Bend, North Carolina on March 21, 1891.  He was scouted for professional ball while pitching for Guilford College, a Quaker liberal arts school in Greensboro.  Despite offers, he stayed in school until he graduated in 1913.  At a time when most players did not even complete high school he was among a tiny minority of college men.

Ernie  Shore and Grover Cleveland Alexander, starting pitchers of game one of the 1915 World Series.
Shore made a Big League debut with the New York Giants in June of 1912, but he was back in the minors at Baltimore when he got packaged in the deal that featured Ruth.  Shore’s best year with the Red Sox was 1915, when he won 18, lost 8 and compiled a 1.64 earned run average. He was 3–1 in World Series action in 1915 and 1916.
After returning from his war service in 1919 Shore became part of owner Frazee’s famous fire sales to the New York Yankees that transferred most of the team’s talent, starting with Ruth, to the Bronx.  Shore finished his career with the Yankees in August of 1920.
Over his career he racked up a record of 65 wins and 45 losses, a respectable 2.47 ERA, and 309 strike outs.  He was never considered for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

When he ran for Sheriff of Forsyth County, Nort Carolia, Shore signed this capaign palm card as if it were a baseball card.

He returned to South Carolina where he was Sheriff of Forsyth County for many years.  In the 1950’s he led efforts to build a new minor league stadium in Winston-Salem.  The ball park was named for him and is still in use as the home field of the Wake Forest University Demon Deacons.  
Ernie Shore Field today.
Shore died on September 24, 1980, aged 89.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Trump Executive Order Does Not Deter Families Belong Together Woodstock Event

Actions like this Families Belong Together Demonstration have put pressure on Trump and Congress.

Despite President Donald Trump’s Executive Order on Wednesday, the Families Belong Together Rally and March scheduled for Woodstock Square this Sunday, June 24, at 1 pm will go on as scheduled.
“The President’s action amounts to a bait and switch con, not a real solution to the humanitarian crisis on the border that his administration created,” said event coordinator Patrick Murfin in a blunt statement to the press.  “In fact, it is unclear how many families will be effected for how long and leaves the more than 2000 children already torn from their parents in the virtual internment camps where they are being held with little prospect of ever being reunited with their parents.  More ominously, it threatens to make indefinite family detention a reality in direct contradiction to current law.  What it does show is that massive public outrage over family separations has frightened Republicans in Congress and set the President scrambling for cover.  We need people power across the United States to keep up the pressure to finally end the injustices being perpetrated in our names.”

Lackeys  Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen  and Vice President Mike Pence look on as Trump announces his sham Executive Order.

Murfin pointed to news analysis of the Executive Order which shows it does not “grandfather in” the children currently in custody.  It codifies Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ “zero tolerance” directive requiring every border crosser be charged with a crime, prosecuted, jailed until new immigration legislation is passed by Congress that the President will sign.  It limits the definition of family to parent-child pairs excluding aunts, uncles, grandparents, or other responsible adults who may have accompanied the child. It puts families under Homeland Security custody during criminal immigration cases. Previously, children and had to be held in facilities contracted by the Department of Health and Human Services, authorizes the military to build new prisons for migrant families, allows all Federal departments to offer their buildings as prisons and directs the Department of Justice to seek relief from the Flores ruling, a standing court order requiring that children must be released from custody after 20 days. 

If that were to succeed in that indefinite family detention in camps reminiscent of the Japanese internment camps of World War II would become a reality.  Under the Flores rule, children were generally released to the custody of a parent who was also released pending trial on criminal immigration charges.  But the President has also said he would not allow so called “catch and release” brining into question what in fact will be administration policy in the long run.

About to be torn from their families, these children were be taken into ICE custody and placed in virtual concentration camps.

The prosecution of parents would be prioritized over cases of single adults to supposedly expedite family reunification.  But the Justice Department seeks jail time for all convictions before deportation.  At that point children would be separated from their parents in any event and their fate is questionable—long term detention, temporary foster care, or unaccompanied deportation.

The Families Belong Together rally is being sponsored by the Illinois League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), McHenry County Progressives; Democratic Party of McHenry County; Peter Janko, Democratic State Central Committeeman 14th Congressional District; and the Tree of Life Social Unitarian Universalist Congregation Justice Team with other endorsements pending. 

The rally, which will begin around the Gazebo on Woodstock Square at 1 pm will feature an invocation by the Rev. Lou Ness, an Episcopal Deacon; Maggie Rivera, Illinois Director of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and Interim Director of the Illinois Migrant Council;  Missy Funk, McHenry County Progressives; community leader and candidate for McHenry County Board from District 5, Carlos Acosta; lawyer Beth Vonau a partner in KVR Legal which has represented clients held in ICE detention at McHenry County Jail; community volunteer Sue Reckenthaler; Peter Atterberg, President MCC College Democrats; Janko, and a benediction by the Rev. Eric C. Fistler, Senior Pastor of the First Congregational Church of Crystal Lake.  Others to be announced.  Music and sound system services will be coordinated by Keith Johnson of Off Square Music.  Murfin will host the program.

Following the Rally at around 2 pm there will be a symbolic march around the Square using the sidewalks.  There will also be petitions circulating to help people make their voices heard on this issue.

For more information about the Woodstock event, contact Patrick Murfin at 815 814-5645 or email .

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Families Belong Together Woodstock Rally Highlights Local Protests of Border Policy

Citizens outraged by President Donald Trump’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border and placing them in virtual internment camps came together quickly this week to organize Families Belong Together Woodstock, a rally and march around the Square on Sunday, June 24 at 1 pm.  The event is part of nationwide Families Belong Together protests that will include marches in Washington, DC and major cities like Chicago on June 30.
“I have seldom seen such passion about any issue,” said Patrick Murfin, a veteran local activist with the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Team who was asked to coordinate the event.  “Within 24 hours of posting a notice on social media more than three hundred people have said they were going or expressed interest, and that number swells by the hour.  I would expect attendance to rival other protests on the Square over the last two years including last summer’s six month anniversary of the Women’s March, and the March for Our Lives event in response to school shootings this March.”
So far, the list of sponsors from the rally include the Illinois Migrant Council; McHenry County Progressives; Peter Janko, Democratic State Central Committeeman 14th Congressional District; and the Tree of Life Social Justice Team with additions pending.
Photo courtesy Families Belong Together.
The rally, which will begin around the Gazebo on Woodstock Square at 1 pm will feature an invocation by the Rev. Lou Ness, an Episcopal Deacon; Maggie Rivera, Interim Director of the Illinois Migrant Council and Illinois Director of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC);  community leader and candidate for McHenry County Board from District 5, Carlos Acosta; lawyer Beth Vonau, a partner in KVR Legal which has represented clients held in ICE detention at McHenry County Jail; the Rev. Eric C. Fistler, Senior Pastor of the First Congregational Church of Crystal Lake giving the benediction; and Janko.  Others to be announced.  Music and sound system services will be coordinated by Keith Johnson of Off Square Music.  Murfin will host the program.
Following the Rally at around 2 pm there will be a symbolic march around the Square using the sidewalks.  There will also be petitions circulating to help people make their voices heard on this issue.
Photo courtesy Families Belong Together.
Other events have also been organized locally to protest the draconian immigration policy including Build Bridges Not Walls—Keep Families Together, a roadside vigil and rally at Route 120 and Riverside Drive in McHenry from 5:30 to 7 pm Thursday, June 21 which was organized by Terry Kappel.  On Sunday July 1 there will be a vigil outside the ICE Detention Center housed in the McHenry County Jail in Woodstock from 2 to 10 pm. 

In addition, there will be a Families Belong Together action at Congressman Peter Roskam’s (R-IL6) office at 200 S. Hough in Barrington on Saturday June 30 at noon sponsored by IndivisibleNWIL of Crystal Lake and a major regional Families Belong Together march and rally beginning a Daley Plaza in Chicago on Saturday June 30 beginning at 11 am.
For more information about the Woodstock event, contact Patrick Murfin at 815 814-5645 or email .

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Murfin’s Seven Books in Seven Days—The Round Up.

Note:  On Suggestion of old Shimer College pal Sammie Moshenberg I undertook the Facebook challenge of Seven Books in Seven Days.  It took me more than seven days, but I got it done.  Since even folks on FB may not have seen the whole roster and because my half-assed literary tastes may be of some limited wider interest or the subject of bemused bewilderment, I am including lightly edited versions of all seven posts here.
I was not exactly sure what the rules are for Seven Books in Seven Daysfavorite books? Most influential? Fiction only? Anyway, I decided yes to all of those questions

Day 1—Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward Angel bit me while I was in high school. I was gobsmacked by the sheer power of the language: 
. . . a stone, a leaf, an unfound door; a stone, a leaf, a door. And of all the forgotten faces.
Naked and alone we came into exile. In her dark womb we did not know our mother's face; from the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth.
Which of us has known his brother? Which of us has looked into his father’s heart? Which of us has not remained forever prison-pent? Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?
O waste of lost, in the hot mazes, lost, among bright stars on this weary, unbright cinder, lost! Remembering speechlessly we seek the great forgotten language, the lost lane-end into heaven, a stone, a leaf, an unfound door. Where? When?
O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again.
I decided then and there to be a writer. This is the big, fat Bantam Books paperback edition that put a real strain on the back pocket of my pants.

Day 2:  Ernest Hemmingway is deeply unpopular these days among progressives and especially feminists. Mostly based on the macho image he cultivated later in life, he is filed under chauvinist pig and if you admit to liking him your cultural stock drops like shares in Trump University. But for me, the power of the simple declarative sentence I found in The Sun Also Rises was a much needed antidote to the florid temptations of my first pick, Look Homeward Angel.  Papa would go on to write better books, and books much more nuanced than his reputation, but this is the one that first hooked me, even though when I first read it I was too young and stupid to figure out just what the hell Jake’s problem was.

Day 3:  When I was fresh out of College and living in Chicago I was reading science fiction almost exclusively except radical stuff, mostly labor history and anarchist related. Both of those reading obsessions were rewarded in Ursula K. LeGuin's masterwork of speculative fiction The Dispossessed about an almost utopia on a planet based on the ideas of nonviolent anarchist writers such as Peter Kropotkin and Paul Goodman. It was also a frankly feminist vision in stark contrast to the vigorously macho—and often authoritarian—SciFi offered by many of the top writers in the field. The society was built on the writings and ideas of the crone Odo—an Emma Goldman-like personage. LeGuin called it “an ambiguous utopia” because unlike other anarchist writers she did not believe that either human or societal perfection was possible. Not only was the book unusually thought provoking, but LeGuin was a literary stylist of the first order and prized complex characters over moving a plot line to a predictable conclusion.

Day 4:  Not sure of original parameters of this exercise, I decided to limit my list to fiction. So how did Edgar Lee Master’s Spoon River Anthology—notoriously a book of poetry—get included?  It’s my opinion that if it was newly published today that it could be hyped as a cutting edge novel in verse. The large cast of characters—the dead of all ages, both sexes, all social classes spanning generations each speak from their graves in the Southern Illinois village cemetery. Their lives intersect in interesting and often startling ways and weave a narrative of the life of the town over decades. Masters was anything but sentimental for the backwater village he grew up in. He was clear eyed, sliding to cynical—the true son of the Village Free Thinker who was a scandal to the “good folks.” It you ever harbored delusions of fantasy small town America fostered by Disney and even by adept writers like Booth Tarkington or Thornton Wilder in Our Town, this is just the book to bury those. A great read every time I pick it up.

Day 5:  1919 is actually the second book of John Dos Passos’ USA Trilogy, one of the great achievements of 20th Century American Literature. It stands for the whole master work. Not only are these books historically significant, they are endlessly inventive and hugely influential on future writers like John Steinbeck, Jean Paul Sartre, and E. L. Doctorow. Dos Passos follows the disparate but sometimes intersecting lives of a dozen major and several minor characters of widely varying social class and prospects and both sexes through the first quarter of the 20th Century. Even these fragmented narratives are broken up by three separate intervening devices—the famous Newsreels which capture reporting of historical events contemporaneous to the stories, mini-biographies of major figures like Woodrow Wilson and Henry Ford, and The Camera Eye which were stream of consciousness autobiographical riffs on the author’s own development and relationship to his times. These are big, thick, important books, but don’t be discouraged from tackling them. Dos Passos took a radical lurch to the far right evident in his post-World War II work including Midcentury and that has deeply tarnished his reputation and legacy. Whatever anti-Communist hysteria and libertarian delusions he adopted late in life, the power of these social narratives written and published in the early 1930’s can’t be denied.

Day Six:  If you have been following this exercise you probably have noted my predilections and will not be surprised to see something by John Steinbeck here. You may be surprised by the choice. The Moon is Down is one of his least well-known works. It is a slender novel based on his own wartime play which also became a 1943 film starring Cedric Hardwick, Henry Travers, Lee J. Cobb, and Clair Trevor. It tells the tale of a small Norwegian village and the quiet resistance that mystifies and thwarts its German occupiers. The German officer in charge is not the usual war-time caricature of a demonic, sadistic Nazi. He seems largely a-political, a just-doing-his-job professional who even seems to strive to be humane and reasonable. But like the nice young men who serve under him he is the agent of a vast evil and inexorably compelled to ruthlessly serve it. The book deeply moved and impressed me when I stumbled upon it by accident. Not long after that Steinbeck returned from a Defense Department-sponsored trip to Vietnam. On return, he announced, “I am a hawk, not a pigeon” and heartily endorsed the war. It was quite a propaganda coup for the Johnson administration which was being criticized by numerous writers, artists, and intellectuals. I somehow found Steinbeck’s home address and sent him a telegram—some of you may remember those—that simply quoted a line from the book—a “The flies have captured the fly paper.”

Day 7:  If you have been following this series, you can tell that my picks tend toward major and serious American novelists of the 20th Century. I could continue on that vein, but I also have always loved a great funny book. And the funniest laugh-out-loud book I have ever read was The Mouse that Roared, the 1955 Cold War satirical novel by Irish-American writer Leonard Wimberly. T
he story was laid in the mythical micro-state of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick nestled in a forgotten corner between France and Switzerland that by an accident of history was established by English knights and remains English speaking. In fact, it astonishingly mirrors post-war British society with a tiny Parliament dominated by a stuffy Tory Prime minister with a Labor opposition leader in heavy tweeds with a class chip on his shoulder, all ruled benignly by a young Duchess. The agrarian economy depends on production of a coveted wine, but is nearly destroyed when a California winery produces an inexpensive knock off. To save the country from ruin, the Prime Minister decides to declare war on the United States, lose, and wait for scads of money that America gave to its former foes under the Marshal Plan. The State Department promptly loses or ignores the official declaration of war, and it is decided to that the Duchy must actually launch an attack on the superpower. The befuddled Forester is made Field Marshall and dispatched on a rented tub with an army of three Men at Arms and a dozen Yeomen armed with English long bows all decked out in chain mail and tin hats to invade the USA. Tully, the commander, does not grasp that he is supposed to lose the war. When they land in New York City they find the streets deserted as the city undergoes a mass civil defense drill. After wandering around they stumble upon the laboratory of an absent minded professor and his creation—the Q Bomb, a new super powerful doomsday weapon that makes the H-bomb look like a firecracker. They return home with the professor and the bomb as victors and suddenly Grand Fenwick is the most powerful nation on earth.
The book was also made into a popular film with Peter Sellers playing multiple parts including the Prime Minister, Opposition leader, Duchess and Tully Bascom.  I picked the book up again by chance a couple of years ago and it is still both hilarious and has some pointed lessons about the Cold War and international Real Politic.