Every baseball field has its quirks, right? Your favorite park surely has a feature or two that you love and perhaps drives visiting players mad.
But what if a field had something that everybody thought was a little off? Or, perhaps, a little up?
Clark Field in Austin was the home of the University of Texas Longhorns for almost half of the 1900s. And it featured one of the most unique quirks in ballpark history.
With help from EJ Fagan, we’ll take a look at Clark Field’s, well, crazy outfield.
CSUS – Vaporize Me
BasementStudios – Chasing Dreams
ROKAFLOW -Lenti Jazz
Opening Day is once again upon us. This is, indeed, a good thing.
We get nostalgic at the beginning of the season. It brings us so much — relief that Spring has finally arrived, anticipation for our teams’ chances at contention, the promise of well-fought contests and exciting pennant races.
But over all these years, the circumference of baseball has extended beyond the foul lines. Our national pastime has prompted the incubation of things beyond the ballpark. Some of them are silly, others we wouldn’t want to live without.
Baseball is poised to bring us joy once again. This episode of Stealing Home looks at some other things our favorite game has provided us.
What makes a baseball curse? A good story, certainly. A reputation for losing always helps. But the best ones revolve around a singular figure — a singular figure that’s dead. There needs to be that ghostly presence that floats above the stadium and the standings.
The Red Sox had Babe Ruth. The Cubs had that goat, and, to a lesser extent, Steve Bartman. But Bartman was a big Cubs fan. And he’s still alive. Babe Ruth won a load of championships with the Yankees — what reason would he have to curse the Red Sox? And goats are idiots. They can’t even comprehend complex emotions like revenge, and certainly not from the grave. No, a good curse needs a ghost with a grudge. A skeleton with a bone to pick. A good curse needs a figurehead.
Randy and Harland were born in Oklahoma and Indiana, respectively, over 60 years apart. It’s hard to definitively say whether or not they met, but it’s probably safe to say they never did. Yet their lives are inextricably linked. It is for a fairly silly reason, surely, but the silliness is almost part of the charm. It starts off like a war story: two strangers’ lives are ensnared in an historical event that takes place thousands of miles from their homes. But it’s not a war story. It’s a story about baseball and chicken and a river. And how all three can create specters that haunt a city for decades.
(Illustration by Brooke Howell)
You will notice two things about Stealing Home. First off, it’s actually been updated. I’m sorry about the wait, but it ties into the second part.
First, the new episode. It is slightly different than what you’d probably expect. This is in part because some fine folks here at The Hardball Times have worked hard in releasing a really great book — When the Sparrow Sings — and I want to help promote that. It’s a wonderful story, by Jason Linden, and to help those who haven’t yet read it, or those who want to relive it, Jason has read the first chapter for Stealing Home. If you like it, please consider buying the whole book, which was published earlier today.
The second part is that I’m looking to expand what Stealing Home is, and what it means.
Part of the reason of the posting drought has been my insane schedule. It was unavoidable, and something had to suffer. I’m sorry to say that it was the podcast. But I’ve also been thinking real hard about the future of the show. To be totally blunt, it has spun into something that I’m not comfortable with anymore — it’s something I didn’t envision when I first started. This is not uncommon in the world, I suppose. But I don’t want to keep going the way I have anymore.
The idea behind Stealing Home has always been to break away from the traditional “two dudes talking about sports” model, and to concentrate on the stories. This was difficult and time consuming, and I fear that’s why I strayed from it. I tried once, but I got scared, and I defaulted back to the norm. But no more. I can’t say I know exactly what the show will sound like six months or a year from now, but I want to try some new things. I hope that you’ll still find the content engaging and thought-provoking. Give it a few episodes to get used to the new direction. I think (and hope) that you’ll like it.
Episode 23 features very little of me. And that’s OK. Because this podcast should be about stories, and Jason has a great one to share.
Thanks to all of you for listening, for all your kind words, and for pushing me out of this extended and unintentional hiatus. It is wonderful to have such a supportive and engaging audience.
(Music provided by Chino Yoshio and Peter Bille Larson)