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The Games’ Funniest Characters

By John B Holway

Today my advice is to check out a blog by Gabe Schechter of the Hall of Fame. It’s (Gabe found a stray cat one April and named him Charlie.) The following is about his blog on great characters of the game.

Hi Gabe

Once more, congratulations on your blog. I'm going back and reading all the previous posts. How do you do it? They all sound spontaneous. If they're not, how do you find the time?

How can I get a copy of Uecker’s Cooperstown speech?

I think you might consider Rabbit Maranville as an all-star character. I edited his book, Run, Rabbit, Run, which has a laugh a graph. Try it, you'll like it.

Who was the reliever for Kansas City who died of brain cancer? He was a genuine American humorist if not a comedian. (“The future is much like the past, only longer.”)

Or, as Yogi would say, “You have your whole future ahead of you,” and, “The past isn't what it used to be.”

And Gomez, who invented a revolving goldfish bowl for tired goldfish.

Did Waddell make the cut?

Babe Herman? You gotta have at least one Dodger.

No Joe Garagiola?

I'm trying to remember: Did you include Stengel? His testimony to Congress alone should get him on your list.

And Veeck. I spent an afternoon with him at his home in Md. He read a book a day and drank a beer a minute, and he could talk on any subject, from Aquinas to Steinbeck, and never took a leak. He didn't say funny things, but he was a character.

What about the character known as Martin Mantle Ford? We shouldn't laugh at drunks, we should feel sorry for them. But they/he were characters.

Nick Altrock and Al Schacht? (You might add Max Patkin of the Indians.)

The Negro Leagues had a guy named Country Brown, who had some side-splitting pantomimes and monologues in the coach’s box. His pantomimes of a crap game and a dentist office sound priceless. One comedian for the Indianapolis Clowns went on to fame with the Globetrotters. Goose Tatum.

There was a gal in the All-American league who was always doing funny things and had an enthusiastic fan following – Faye Dancer. I did a piece on her if you're interested.

And Ted. He and Ruth were the only two guys you couldn't take your eyes off. Once in a while he would say something humorous, but he wasn't yuk-yuk funny. He was a hell of a personality though. Is that the same as character? The writers weren't entirely wrong about him – he was a bad boy sometimes. I last saw Ted at a Senators reunion in ’99. Frank Howard said it best: “He filled up the room.” Who else in baseball (or Hollywood or politics) could do that? He filled up Fenway at his All-Century All-Star game appearance too.

Thanks for putting me onto Heywood Broun and Dave Baldwin. I’ll check their books on Amazon.

In doing my Ted research, I occasionally run into Red Smith. I think a book of his columns would be great reading for this or any generation. (Maybe there is one.) What a phrase-maker. And funny. I once sat next to Smith and Shirley Povich in the press box and cocked my ear for deathless wisdom and witticisms. Nothing.

Reminds me of the time I caddied for Ogden Nash. (“‘A’ is for Alex, the great Alexander, who tossed more goose eggs than a popular gander.”) Everybody else in his four-some was knocking himself out trying to say funny things. He played the whole round with barely a word.

You are going to put all your columns into a book, aren't you?

Your fan,

Izzy Nutts


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