Also Read: FORGOTTEN:PART ONE PART TWO PART THREE PART FOUR PART FIVE
MAR2013: THE 119th ARTICLE FOR BASEBALL GURU
YOU KNOW ME AL?
In the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, the preeminent sports writers in the states were Grantland Rice, Red Smith, Jimmy Powers and Ring Lardner. Of all of them Ring Lardner is now considered to have been a fine writer as well.
In 1914 Lardner wrote a series of stories for the Saturday Evening Post, called You know me Al .. They later became a book, lasted as a series in the Post until 1925 and is now generally considered to be a classic of baseball literature.
The stories deal with letters from a baseball player (Jack Keefe) written to his friend Al Blanchard who lives in Jack's hometown of Bedford Indiana. All the stories start off with, You know me Al and then segue into Jack writing the pro's and con's of his baseball career.
The stories eventually ended up as a comic strip written by Lardner and drawn
by Will B. Johnstone and Dick Durgan.
He based the stories from interviews with ballplayer's that he knew and befriended. In most cases the players were delighted with the results but some of the others felt that he exaggerated what they told him and were upset with the results.
The public generally felt the stories gave them a better insight into the life and style of Major League ballplayers and welcomed the articles. Lardner would get letters from readers asking if a particular story was about such and such ballplayer. His reply was usually that it dealt with several ballplayers as one.
After awhile he felt he had said everything he could in the articles and by the late 1920s he stopped writing them.
Never in very good health, the last few years of his life he developed Tuberculosis. He passed away at the age of 43 while living in East Hampton.
His son was a Ring Lardner Jr. and was one of the blacklisted writers in Hollywood during the 1950's and served a jail sentence, For the most part it killed his career as a screenwriter although he did eventually come back and won an Oscar for best screenplay for Mash.