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Listen to the land a profile of a nation in terms of its living language this week. All right. I am. Going to the world. If you're a sports writer a sports participant or just a plain good sport you'll want to stay tune by sharing allow the writings of our country past and present. We can come to a fuller appreciation of those things which are meaningful to us as Americans and perhaps of the nature of our role in the contemporary world. Listen to the land is produced and recorded by station w h y y Philadelphia under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters now in T-shirt and spiked shoes. Here is your host and narrator Richard S. Byrd from the Amherst Express. Amherst Mass July 1st and 2nd 1859 an extra edition telling of a baseball hyphenated game between students of Amherst and Williams College with a chess match thrown in for good
measure played at Pittsfield Massachusetts which by the way is my hometown. The headline reads. The origin of the match at the commencement of this term it was probably a privately proposed among the Amherst students to challenge Williams College to a game of ball in the second or third week the challenge was given by the Committee of the college. Notice had been privately sent to Williams of this intention that both parties might have equal opportunity of practice. The challenge was readily accepted and in turn Williams challenges to a game of chess that there might be a quote trial of mind as well as muscle unquote. This being it once agreed upon the agents of the two colleges met at Chester factories on the 8th of June 1859 to discuss and settle preliminaries. Some difficulties were found Williams declining to play accepted Pittsfield as the challenge provided that the match should be played at some intermediate place the Amherst agent but it should be understood as fairly and
equally intermediate and insisted on this. Several places were spoken of but the agents separated without any positive agreement at this time the baseball club of Pittsfield offered by their president Mr. Plunkett. There are grounds for the match and the chess club by Mr. Davis their rooms. These courteous offers decided the question of a meeting of the colleges and were accepted with thanks. The first of July was chosen for the game of ball the following for the Chess. The rules of ball were in substance those of the Massachusetts Association recently adopted the number of players was fixed at thirteen. The number of tallies on the score at sixty five. The rules adopted in Chess were those of the New York club. Arrival at Pittsfield on Thursday p.m. the representatives of Amherst took cars by way of Palmer and reached Pittsfield at nine o'clock in the evening. Having made a journey of ninety miles they proceeded to the United States
Hotel where they were well received and expressed great satisfaction in their accommodations. The Williams players came generally on the morning of Friday as they had only twenty miles to overcome. They put up at the Berkshire hotel where we doubt not that they were handsomely lived. The chess players were most hospitably received by the Pittsfield club and entertained during their entire stay. Ball play in the memory of the present generation of students is a recent thing at both colleges originating we understand in each. When the match played last autumn between the junior and sophomore classes certainly it was only sold at Amherst. Neither colleges were neither of the colleges were represented by a regularly organized club. Both sides were chosen by ballot from the students at large. We state this to correct reports to the contrary. Williams appeared in the uniform of the club but I'm urse decidedly in undress to size and muscular development we thought amorous on the whole superior while in agility and running in
leaping the Williams boys excelled by some ridiculous mistake a report was spread but the thrower from Hurst was the professional blacksmith of the place hired for the occasion. This rumor afforded great amusement to that very fine player and his comrades. A bystander remarked that the story seemed improbable for nobody but a blacksmith could throw in such a manner for three hours and a half. Each party furnished its own ball. The Amherst ball weighed two and a half ounces and was six and a half inches around. It was made by Mr. Henry Hubbard of Northbrook failed Massachusetts. I was really a work of art. The Williams ball we judged to be seven inches in circumference and not to exceed the weight of two ounces. It was also covered with leather and some light colored drab or buff so as not to be easily distinguished by the batter. A field had been hired for the occasion. North of the town lot and east of the maple wood Institute the ground lay smooth and was well adapted to the long front and back play of the
Massachusetts game. The weather was glorious. Either party might have taken the omen of Austerlitz from the magnificent rising of the sun that day. It rose from her first a large and excited company of ladies and gentlemen from the place watched the whole progress of the game and cheered the players by their presence as well as by loud applause in the waving of signals. The beauty of Pittsfield was gathered to Grace and honor the chivalry of the two colleges. If we may take our quotation from the report of another ball game. The Honorable Dr. Humphries seemed deeply interested in the play and afterward sent his congratulations to the victors. Professors Lincoln and Buzz Noto of Williams College were present while the instructors of Amherst regretted their inability to attend. The young ladies appeared with kindly signals and were greeted with a hearty and respectful cheers. Adam Hirst held the first inning by lot and Williams played best at first making 10 tallies to Amhurst Swann when the latter went in to
win and made 20 to their one and kept advantage throughout making more than two tallies for one. There were 26 innings. Final score Amhurst 73. WILLIAMS Thirty two. The victory was fairly acknowledged by the Williams players Captain Anderson presented the ball as a trophy to the winning party. There's a great deal more to that I came across that going to the library when they had that account of a ball game being a hyphen. You know me from the Amherst express hammers my July 1st and 2nd 1859. It's a long way from that early game of the kind of baseball that produced such giants in the sport as Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Stan Musial Jackie Robinson and so on. From a short story entitled The word of Babe Ruth my Paul Gallico which appeared in The Saturday Evening Post issue of February 13
1954 we take this excerpt which we could subtitle the meaning of baseball in the story the word of Babe Ruth. Paul Gallico tells how the Bambino comes down from heaven to help out an old baseball fan whose grandson has a serious malady. He doesn't like baseball. One night the babe who of course is an angel and therefore cannot be seen as such by the lad's bad while he is asleep and tells him how it is with the great American sport. I think it's a very fine piece of writing if you have a young man in the house. I think you might profit too by listening to this. Babe Ruth talks to me. You listen to me. Don't you make no mistake. Baseball is the greatest game in the world and any man can be proud to have a connection with it no matter what even if it's only sitting in the grandstand and keep in a box score and yellin for the home team to get out
get them runs. You know what baseball can do Jimi. It can take a nobody out of the gutter. Maybe somebody that seen the inside of a jail reform school and make him a bigger man and the president of the United States. Now you tell me on the other game that can do that and I'll kiss your fist kid yourself Jimmy. You gotta be a man to play baseball. It's a game in the world because you've got to have everything. You've got to have coordination. Speed science no hustle and Moxie plenty of moxie son. Because if you ever show a yellow streak the pitchers will dust you. The base runners will cut you to ribbons and the bench jockeys will ride you right out of the lead. You can't let up for a minute keyed. You gotta give it everything you've got and use the old bean Besides you let one get by you in April and maybe you'll find out it's the error that's cost you the planet in September. You can't slack
off a result up when you're in there running the bases you've got nine guys working against you in a big brain sitting on the bench as well figuring how to make a monkey on a key. There never was a game figured out pretty or to test a man for speed and guts in the or whether the runner gets to the bag first and the ball beats him 90 feet between bases and guys like Ty Cobb was fast enough to steal a hold while a pitcher is winding up and letting it go. Sixty Feet Six Inches from the pitcher's mound to home plate you've got maybe a half a second on a ball is in the air to pick out when you're going to be a hero or a bum. It takes real men to put together a double play and make it look easy and graceful like. Why do you suppose so many millions of people grown up men and women as well as kids love baseball and live for so many reasons I could sit here all night long and tell you
some of the finest men that ever breathed the air of our country has been in baseball men everybody can look up to and be proud of because they never give anything but the best they had. It's a game and yet it's like life keyed in a GET you're ready for it. Maybe the score is six to nothing against you in the ninth with two outs. Half the crowd is heading for the exits because they figured you ain't got a chance when you know you ain't dead until there's three out. So you go up there to the plate and take your cut and the next thing you know the pitcher is walking to the showers. A new one a warmed up good in your clobber him. The fans stop walking out and five minutes later you got the game in the butt. Nobody ever played baseball keyed or followed down the dead. It wasn't the better for it. It's a team game to me and it's ours.
It come out of the guts of this country. That's why we're so hard to lick when the chips are down because when we get in a jam we played like a team instead of every man for himself. Soldier or sailor an air man will back up his body because maybe he's learned somewhere on some sandlot or inside a stadium that a pitcher can throw his heart out. But you got to spear those liners and pick those drives off the fences and then go out and get some runs or don't do no good. It's like you're a family or a lot of brothers working together. It's the only game you don't have to play to feel the good in it and learn the lessons that are going to help you sometime when you're in need. Now that's all for now keyed. Thank you over and good luck. And that was an excerpt from Paul Gallico Gallico
story. The word of Babe Ruth from the Saturday Evening Post a very fine piece of writing in the sports pages and on the box scores in the racing results shines real freedom of the press and some of its best and worst writing. Here's an example of some of its best. A piece by Westbrook Pegler from the New York Daily News of one hundred twenty five. The banner read civilization a joke. Sci-Fi found in the introduction comes from Star reporters and 34 of their stories edited by Ward Greene and published by Random House battling seeking a real name. Louis fall charmed the boxing public because he laughed and was tough. He was very tough. Asuna believes he won the crowd again in World War One and afterward knocked out your own idol of France and seeking became an idol of France in Emerald suits red fez
and a monkey on his shoulder. In the United States no longer light heavyweight champion of the world ciggy was first to hit then a bum whine drunkard brawler Cup fighter. He was mourned by no one the night two bullets in his back laid him dead in a gutter in Hell's Kitchen. Westbrook Pegler was then Eastern sports correspondent for The Chicago Tribune and allied papers in this story from The New York Daily News. 1025 attracted much attention. The Rev. Adam Clayton Powell preaching speakeasy funeral later that day took as his text civilization is more to blame than he was. Well you form your own opinion. You listen now to Westbrook Pegler story battling seeking. Battling seeking who tried hard to understand civilization but never quite got the idea to be
trundled out over the road to Long Island today and buried in a civilised way without a single thump of the time time a negro minister will commend him to the mercy of the Christian God and negroes will shoulder the casket from the tail board of the motor hearse at the brink of the hole. But even so there will be nobody there who really understood seeking because the difference was no mere matter of complection. In fact the one person who knew battling seeking best and loved him as a man loves a friendly but mischievous Pat was a white man. Bob Levy is Fike manager. You see he called him Papa Bob and often assaulted him with moist kisses in the same conciliatory way. But a Chicken killing Airedale with feathers in its whiskers might slap its master on the cheek with eight inches of sopping tongue. See he had heard a lot about the virtues of civilization in a dozen years of exposure to its decorous influence. But in the last minute of his life when he fell in a dirty gutter in Hell's
Kitchen where the lights of Broadway throw deep shadows and churches face speakeasies across the street civilization musta been a puzzle and a josh to him as he stumbled over the curb in his dented plug hat bounced away. You may have giggled at the irony of the matter but he had come all the way from the jungle to the hunts of the lists of civilization and chivalry to be shot in the back. It couldn't have received a worse deal back home where they make no great boast of their civilization seeking was one who could giggle with his last gasp to be laughed right in Paul Burrell in-box face throughout their fight in the old garden and the harder poets loved him the more he seemed to enjoy the joke. It wasn't that laborious sneering laugh of a suffering fighter uses to pretend that he can't be hurt when see he laughed it was no mere matter of puckering his face his mouth would gape open till he looked like a satchel with a red lining. And you'd find yourself laughing with him. I was seeking I got the idea that civilization was
something that was supposed to make men do things they didn't want to do and tried to curtail their natural enjoyment of life. Civilization was a good thing in theory but it didn't work. And see he saw a proof that it didn't work. For one thing under civilisation if a man stole your woman in Iraq so your land you were not allowed to go over to that man's house and raise rez head off and person you were supposed to call a cop and maybe after a long time the man would be locked up in a cage for a term of months or years. However it was against the rules of civilization to kill people and then civilization fell out with itself and sick he was given a gun with a knife on the end of it and invited to kill everyone he saw wearing a certain kind of uniform. Under civilization a man was allowed just one wife at a time and by the strict rule they were supposed to be true to her. But CQ rattled around Paris enough to learn that civilization was in civilised language. The bunk in this respect.
So he came to the United States and they told him civilization had made a law whereby it was wrong to drink liquor. See he had heard that civilization laid a considerable store by its laws by orderly obedience to the law did civilized man show his appearing already over the wild man. And then see he toured half of the United States and found civilized men everywhere both white and black who would sell him liquor and get him stewed contrary to the statutes. He was more often drunk and sober in a civilized land where the law plainly said there shouldn't be any liquor. You see he went to the night clubs into the weird squealing of the woodwinds and the muffled thump of the tom toms. The music of civilization. He saw half naked black and tans wiggling and squirming in the dances of an enlightened tribe. He fought in the ring and when blood showed the crowds came up from their chairs roaring.
So from what he saw of it seeking the frankly didn't get the plot of this business called civilization. The whole thing was too much for the simple mind of a primitive African who got a late start of the racket. Where the metropolitan dailies really hit home to a vast segment of their readers is in their sports pages as that fine reporter Ward Green has stated. The sports pages the rumpus room of the newspaper. It is developed by custom more than my plan a sports writer may call a pugilist names a drama critic would hesitate to brand the dreariest actor. He may review a baseball game in a language denied the quest Diest book critic. I recall seeing an amusing cartoon by the satirical newspaper cartoonist George Lichter in which a young man stood before an editor his desk applying for a job and the caption read.
I'm willing to start at the bottom sir with the editorials and gradually work my way up to the sports pages and whether or not you find it amusing certainly some of the most colorful and dramatic reporting of our time is to be found in the sports pages. I take the following introduction from Ward Green's book. Star reporters and 34 of their stories which are referred to in advance of the Pegler piece as was published by Random House and is a fine book by the way. It's a fascinating collection of outstanding stories by top reporters through the years and would make a very good follow up to this program where Greene writes a correspondent by the name of Edward J O'Neill went up to Lake Placid for the Associated Press in February 1930 to the United States and not had the games since 1904 and he kneeled rode on a bobsled and wrote a piece about it.
He wrote it just after seeing a smash up on the bobsled on the run he had completed as a matter of fact and he crumpled the pages of his story on the floor of the telegraph office because he said emotion has no place in a wire service report. But Quentin Reynolds strolling in took a curiosity peek and without any O'Neil's knowing about it filed the discarded copy to the Associated Press and it won a Pulitzer Prize citation. Here then is the story I ride with the Red Devils by Edward J. O'Neill. They took me down the most dangerous mile and a half in the entire sports world today gave me thrills enough to last a lifetime. And then before my eyes lay the picture of sudden death and destruction. Seven o'clock in the morning deadly cold on top of Mount van holding Berg and the bobsledders of eight nations men who can't have nerves laughed and
shouted at their feet lay the Frankenstein contraptions known as bobsleds five hundred pounds of steel and ope we were at the start of the Olympic Bob slide a mile and a half of ice twisting through 25 awesome bends and hairpin curves down the mounting the racing strip that in two days as eight Germans to the hospital. Today all but killed two. The starter gets the word from a telephone strung along the side all is clear. Get ready yells to the mark. Are they all murders Red Devils. You asked what. Let's go. Harry shouts. He's a pleasant good of twenty six. A civil engineer from Saranac Lake who built the slide is a pilot for lives and a steering wheel in his grasp. They say he's the greatest bobsled driver ever the Albi booth of bobsleds one hundred fifty eight pounds but his shoulders widest in the group
his world record as one fifty two for one and a half miles. We pull on brilliant red jackets leather helmets that cover the face entirely leaving slits for eyes and mouth. We settle on a sled bracing feet gripping straps with hands shielded in padded gloves. I was number three between huge Percy Bryant and the brakeman at Horton who yanked the steel jaws that clutch at the ice when we need to slow down. Solemnly men of other nations shake our hands. They do that before each run. Act as though they never expected to see you again. Particularly does for its grown German captains slap our backs. So did Albert Brame Hellmuth Hopman and Rudolf croc and an hour later they were all in the hospital grounds and brain may die.
It's not so fast today. I'm Berger says. But I'll do my best to give you a thrill. One heave and we're off. The foreigners dashed for the telephone. Each station calls off our progress. I watch them stand there tense silence seeming to be praying the Beano shout they've jumped a bank. We pick up speed on our first drop the steel runners sing the wind tears at your hunched head 40 50 60 miles an hour early scream Norton up came a dazzling wall of ice I leaned hard. We sweep to the top. The runners slide catch. That was the turn call the eerie. It's 60 again I'm going up one after another come the blinding banks 10 20 30 feet high. Desperately I lean this way that way gasping for breath hopeless straining
tears streaming from your eyes. You think you can hold on another second. You fight serge and then you're out of the curve and flying on a straightaway 70 miles an hour and you get a breath. Now the curves are getting steeper. You're taking them eagerly exultation sweeps from your toes reaches your throat back goes your head then you hold with the joy of it. You're ready for par. White face a vertical some a circle of ice thirty five feet thick at 70 miles an hour. Shady corner again at 70. You fly into the wall smash it off again and just what I think you're gone on other straight away. The final test. A surge of every drop of blood through your veins the apex of sporting thrills and the end of many a bobsled career zigzag a whip to the left. A leap of five feet all four runners off the ground to straighten out a whip to
the right one last burst and you are at the finish line. Limp exhausted. A minute later we were drinking coffee and my nerves shimmer of the liquid in the cup. Slow said Hank. About two minutes we started back almost a shady we heard another Bob screaming down the course at 70 miles an hour. It swerved runners shrieked the sled swept up the incline smashed through the top four bodies hurled through the air into a deep ravine below. It was our friends the Germans. We raced up the slide helped carry the battered blood soaked unconscious forms to the ambulance. That's the way it goes. Berger sighed and 20 minutes later they were racing down again. And it's time now for us to be racing again to the finish line of this
week's program. Just 60 seconds away. Whether you're a spectator or a participant a weekender a collector of memorabilia or a pro the wonderful world of sports has a particular fascination for most people whose interest is what had by action. Competition and progress. And there is a vast literature of sports waiting at your bookstore or your library. Not only the How To kinds of things but anecdotes stories history philosophy commentary. Too often sports fans forget that it's fun just to read about sports and perhaps this week's program has served to remind you of the pleasures of that experience. I hope so. Next week we'll with journey to New England for a program that will examine the literary renaissance of one hundred fifty more years ago that took place in our northeastern states and which gave us a special flavor and character the writings of our land. I hope you plan to be
with me for that trip. Until then this is Dick Burdick saying thanks for listening and so on. Listen to the land was produced and recorded at station w h y y Philadelphia under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center and is being distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is James Keeler inviting you to be with us next week for a New England notebook. Featuring Richard S. Burdick on the Listen to the line. This is the end E.B. Radio Network.
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Listen to the land
All about sports
Producing Organization
WHYY (Radio station : Philadelphia, Pa.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-t43j2f5v).
Episode Description
This program focuses on exceptional American sports writing.
Series Description
America's literary heritage is explored through readings of short stories, poems, folklore, journalism and legends. The series is narrated by Richard S. Burdick.
Broadcast Date
Media type
Announcer: Keeler, James
Host: Burdick, Richard S.
Producing Organization: WHYY (Radio station : Philadelphia, Pa.)
Writer: Gallico, Paul, 1897-1976
Writer: Pegler, J. Westbrook (James Westbrook), 1894-1969
Writer: O'Neill, Edward J.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 60-54-17 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:22
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Chicago: “Listen to the land; All about sports,” 1960-12-02, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 10, 2023,
MLA: “Listen to the land; All about sports.” 1960-12-02. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 10, 2023. <>.
APA: Listen to the land; All about sports. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from