28 July 2006

The next Spielberg...?

And now for something completely different...

So now my middle daughter, Weem, is a moviemaker. Here's her latest effort, starring a bunch of her friends, her sisters, and a couple of Hitchcock-like cameos of herself...

27 July 2006

Time traveling

So it's been a million years since I posted something here—looking back, I see that my last entry coincides approximately with girls' summer softball gearing up. So probably no surprise in that. And coincidentally, my older two daughters just played their last game of the summer on Tuesday night.

Anyway, I've sort of been traveling in time lately. Mostly I've been hanging around in the past: reseaching part of 1943 and 1905 for a story I've been working on. I started off just poking around online, next I was borrowing stuff from libraries and historical societies, and now I'm buying books and other ephemera that fit in with my research. The way I explain it to Kathleen is that the more immersed I become in the era, the more I can "see" it, and then it becomes easier for me to move characters around within it. So now the only trick is to move them around in interesting ways, I guess.

Yesterday I got a 1943 St. Paul telephone book in the mail, a book from the past. I opened it up, and there was my grandfather, living on Sherburne Street. He had about 16 more years to live. And there were some of my other grandfather's siblings living over on Simon. I was still a dozen years in the future, and my parents were teenagers and hadn't even met.

Today, I ordered a book from the future. There's an "alternate history" series called The Axis of Time, written by an Australian author by the name of John Birmingham. It's a trilogy, and the first two books are in print, with the third due in January 2007. But I just discovered that it's due to hit the racks in Australia on August 1st, just a few short days from now. Then I went to Birmingham's blog, Cheeseburger Gothic, and found out it was actually already in stores over there. So I ordered a copy online from an Australian outfit named Dymocks Booksellers. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to convert Australian dollars to US dollars, but I muddled through. So in a few days (they ship via DHL Courier Service) I should be getting a much anticipated book from the future, a good five months before it's available here.

I stumbled across another link to the past earlier today. I was checking out the Baseball Weekly website, and I noticed an article there about current fans campaigning to get ballplayers from the past into the Hall of Fame. One of those is Buck Weaver, famous as one of the "Eight Men Out" accused of trying to throw the 1919 World Series in what became known as the "Black Sox" scandal.

I've always been interested in the "Black Sox" scandal because my great uncle, Ray Hoefler, was signed by the Sox for the 1921 season after the "Eight Men Out" were banned for life by baseball's first Commissioner, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

Uncle Ray never played, at least not in the major leagues. He was apparently a pretty good ballplayer in the local leagues up around Ely, Minnesota. But after being invited to spring training in Waxahachie, he put out his eye in a hunting accident, apparently kept that from the team for a couple of months in hope that he'd recover (claiming an ankle injury), then was released later that spring when he told them the rest of the story.

I have the original letter inviting him to spring training and the one releasing him; my cousin has two others that fell in between. They're on beautiful, embossed Chicago White Sox letterhead and are supposedly signed by Charles M. Comiskey himself. The problem is, they're two very different signatures on the letters I have, and I haven't ever compared them to the ones my cousin has. It would be nice if one of them were authentic, although I suppose there's just as much chance that both were signed by someone in the office and Comiskey never touched them.

I've also got a clipping from some newspaper—I'm guessing it might have been The Sporting News, but it's not identified in any way—showing Uncle Ray's name on the White Sox roster that spring.

Anyway, Uncle Ray was a third baseman, so he would have been stepping into Buck Weaver's spot had he played.

As a kid, I always thought it was terribly unfair that Uncle Ray never got to play for the White Sox, but ultimately it was an accident that left him with a glass eye and a good story to tell. But when I got older and read about the 1919 White Sox team, I realized that the guy he would have replaced was Buck Weaver.

Weaver was never accused of taking money from the gamblers as some of the others were. His "crime" was knowing that some of them did and not telling anyone about it. Imagine if ballplayers today could be banned for life for knowing another ballplayer was breaking the rules. Who'd be left? Anyway, it seems to me that Buck Weaver got a raw deal, and his exit from Major League baseball was more of an injustice.

So I went to the website listed in the story and added my name to the petition to get Buck Weaver reinstated and into the Hall of Fame where he belongs. Not much I can do for Uncle Ray, except maybe tell his story and think about what might have been. Maybe that's why I like those "alternate histories."

Finally, about 15 years ago I was playing an early, statistics-driven computer baseball game, MicroLeague Baseball. I played and replayed that 1919 series, and the Cincinnati Reds still won it every time! I know that doesn't prove anything, but still, it seems like some things apparently were just meant to be.