Imagine you're living in China, trying to work your way out of the family date farming business (which garners approximately $450 annually). You do all the right things. You apply for (and receive) Communist Party membership. You study literally to the point of collapse, and despite coming from coal-town origins, you score high on your gao kao ("high test," more-or-less the only thing that matters in getting into a Chinese university). Your already-poor family goes deep into debt to send you to college, and you even manage to come out with a degree. Classic rise-up-by-your-own-bootstraps tale, right? However, finally, when you go to apply for a job—your state-sanctioned educational, occupational, and political records are inexplicably, awfully gone. What has happened to that plain manila folder (!) that serves as your only legitimate, official history in Chinese society? Probably stolen and sold so a party official's child can get everything you worked so hard for. And then, of course, your family is detained by party officials when your parents demand to know where the hell your life went. Of course. [more inside]
Josh Hamilton was destined to be an all-star baseball player, selected by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays as the #1 draft pick in the 1999 MLB draft. By 2002, though, he was a bust, beset by injuries, spending his days downing an entire bottle of Crown Royal and snorting cocaine. [more inside]
The Old Left-Hander's headed home. Joe Nuxhall was the youngest player in Major League Baseball when he stepped up to the plate at age 15, but his real contribution came later, in the Cincinnati Reds broadcast booth, alongside Marty Brennaman. "...the personification of everything that is good about baseball and, of course, the Redlegs," the Old Left-Hander is dead at age 79.
She interviewed Mussolini. She wrote plays for Eugene O'Neill's Provincetown Players. She got letters from Trotsky. Freud and Helen Keller were in her address book. She married journalist John Reed, and Diane Keaton played her in Reds. And she was nearly forgotten. Now, Louise Bryant is remembered. More here and much more here.
Joe Valentine has Two Mommies --..."It's no different than having a mother and father," he said. "These are the two women who raised me, and they are wonderful people. It's just not a big deal to me. Why should it be?" In an enlightened world, it shouldn't. But major league baseball is to enlightenment what Pauly Shore is to career longevity. ... Meet the Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher--"...a baseball player who was raised by two wonderful, loving mothers. How can anyone criticize that?"
Press Box Red For 50 years, Lester Rodney was a forgotten footnote in perhaps the most controversial American sports story of the 20th century: Jackie Robinson and the breaking of baseball's color barrier. Now, the 93-year-old Rodney is getting his due. In the decade before Robinson debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Rodney was the sports editor of the Daily Worker, a newspaper (the FBI files are here on .pdf) better known as the house organ of the American Communist Party. With strident editorials and feature stories about what he dubbed "The Crime of the Big Leagues," Rodney was an early, often lonely voice in the struggle to end segregation in baseball. But Rodney's contribution was never acknowledged, because of that "sickening Red tinge". Many baseball historians were staunchly anti-communist, and didn't want to acknowledge the contributions of the Communist Party. So Rodney's role (.pdf file) was left out of the official story. With the publication of his biography, Rodney's place in baseball's epochal story has introduced him to a new generation of admirers. "I wanted that ban to end because it was so unfair; I saw the tragedy of these great black ballplayers, like the catcher Josh Gibson, who didn't get a chance to play. It's unimaginable today, but look at Barry Bonds: Imagine if he had been born earlier and been unable to play." (login details for LATimes story in the main link: sparklebottom/sparklebottom)