Deuce of Clubs Book Club: Books of the Weak

I'm a Lebowski, You're a Lebowski

Guy Debord: Revolutionary

No Place to Hide

Command of Office

The Christ-Myth Theory And Its Problems

The Christian Delusion

Lincoln's Wrath

How to Do Nothing with Nobody All Alone by Yourself

The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex


Zombie Spaceship Wasteland

Catching the Big Fish

Dig Infinity

The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones

Crazy for God

Basin and Range

Anarchy Evolution

The File

John Ringo

The Supremes

End the Fed

Burning Book

The Hohokam Millenium

God's Middle Finger


In Heaven Everything Is Fine

The Shunning

Wisdom Sits in Places

The Marvelous Country

Hamilton's Curse

The Secret Life of Houdini

The Trouble with Being Born

Schulz and Peanuts

First Into Nagasaki

Joe Miller's Jests

Human Smoke

Dirty Tricks Cops Use

A Futile and Stupid Gesture

All For A Few Perfect Waves


Death in the Desert

American Signs

Secret Proceedings and Debates of the Constitutional Convention

Secrets Of A Stingy Scoundrel

The Self-Made Tapestry

A Constitutional History of Secession

The Neurotic's Notebook

Interrogation Machine

Monster Midway

The Harlot by the Side of the Road

Forced Into Glory

Imperial Life in the Emerald City

J. G. Ballard: Quotes

The Compleat Practical Joker

Laugh with Hugh Troy


A Liar's Autobiography


Chasing Rainbows

Letters from Tucson, 1925-1927

The Five Fosters

The Giant Cactus Forest and Its World

How to Cheat Your Friends at Poker

World Famous Cults & Fanatics

That's Not All, Folks!

God's Problem

Will Christ Return By 1988?

Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology

The Whiskey Rebellion

FDR's Folly

Wilson's War

Bully Boy

[If] I Did It

The Dark Side

Secret Origins of the Bible


The End of Faith

Why I Became An Atheist

"Life's Calendar for 1922"

Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War

The Negro Cowboys


Monty Python Speaks

Baseball Between the Numbers

The Psychopath's Bible


J. G. Ballard: Conversations

Days of War, Nights of Love

Gospel Fictions and Who Wrote the Gospels?

The Real Deadwood


The Revolution: A Manifesto


The Secret Man

Stormin' Mormon

From Psyche to Soma

I'll Gather My Geese

The Osama bin Laden I Know

Alias "Paine"

A Man Without Words

The Wild Trees

The World Without Us

Arizona's Changing Rivers

The Phoenix Indian School

Realm of the Long Eyes

John Dillinger: The Life and Death of America's First Celebrity Criminal

Buckey O'Neill: The Story of a Rough Rider

Thanks For Tuning In

Adventures in the Apache Country

Waylon: An Autobiography

My Life: Sunrise to Sunset

Mimes and Miners: A Historical Study of the Theater in Tombstone

The First 100 Years: A History of Arizona Blacks

Enter Without Knocking

City in the Sun: The Japanese Concentration Camp at Poston, Arizona

House by the Buckeye Road

Vanished Arizona

The Big Con

The Astronomy Cafe and Back to the Astronomy Cafe

A Handbook on Hanging

The Sinner's Guide to the Evangelical Right

A Mind Restored

Mr. Show: What Happened?!

Reclaiming the American Revolution

Stumbling On Happiness

Treasure Maps of the Superstitions

Sunny Slope

Did Genesis Man Conquer Space?

Look Homeward, America

Radicals for Capitalism

Kayaker's Little Book of Wisdom

God Is Not Great

The Echoing Green

The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll

K Foundation Burn a Million Quid

The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes and The Tao of Willie

Just Six Numbers and Our Cosmic Habitat

Wild Goose Chronicles

Behind Bars: Surviving Prison

Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce

The Gang They Couldn't Catch


A History of the End of the World

Al Sieber: Chief of Scouts

Apaches & Longhorns

Deep Survival




Bo: Pitching & Wooing

You Are Worthless

You And Your Hand

Access All Areas

Field Guide to the Apocalypse

The War on Terrorism

Those Idiots From Earth

September 11: An Oral History

Mortal Questions

The Heresy of Self-Love

The White Flag Principle

Medieval Panorama

An Honest President

Those Words

À rebours

Peterson's Incident Report Book

Boo! Culture, Experience, and the Startle Reflex

Victory Denied

Nothing, Arizona

A Porcine History of Philosophy and Religion

O Holy Cow!: The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto


¿Hablas conmigo

Thirty-three Candles

Black Monk Time

Men of Distinction

Alexander the Corrector

Space Viking

Mark These Men

Hallucinogenic Plants

Prohibition: An Adventure in Freedom

JESUS! He's Our President


How to Watch Football on Television

Merrill Markoe's Guide to Love

Lincoln: The Man and The Car

Whatever Men Know About Women

Biographies of Italian War Heroes

ABC of Espionage

Art Colony Perverts


Starting Right with Bees

Planet Earth is a Cult

Baseball Letters


Dopey Doings

Democracy: The God That Failed

Handgrenade Talk

Hi, How Are You?

het zingen van het ijs

The Museum of Jurassic Technology Jubilee Catalogue

The Rector and the Rogue

Colorful Cacti of the American Deserts

Odd Jobs: The World of Deviant Work

The Hungry Man's Outdoor Grill Cookbook

How to Get Invited to the White House

How to Work for a Jerk

Never Work for a Jerk!

The Mentality of Apes

Your Vigor for Life Appalls Me

Dr. Strange: Sorceror Supreme

Nautical Notions for Nibbling

A Short Introduction to the History of Human Stupidity

The Fake Revolt

Coup D'Etat

History of the Town of Felicity

Hood of Death

Dolls' House Bathrooms: Lots of Little Loos

Border Security / Anti-Infiltration Operations

Living on Light

God is for Real, Man

Did the Apostle Paul Visit Britain?

Twin Peaks


Power Phrases

The Truth About Wagner

The Life of the Bee


Science Looks at Smoking

The Chiricahuas

The New Dark Ages Conspiracy

The Big Question

Everybody's Book of Epitaphs

The Death of the Fuhrer


Gorbachev! Has the Real Antichrist Come?

The World's Worst Poet

Alyssa Milano: She's the Boss

Home is the Desert

Nine Lives: From Stripper to Schoolteacher

How to Start Your Own Country

How to Found Your Own Religion

Sex Objects in the Sky

Indian Oratory

Bastard Without Portfolio

The Bedside Book of Bastards

Hopeless -- Yet There Is Hope

Bible in Pocket, Gun in Hand

Margie Asks WHY

Death of a Hippie

Wake Up or Blow Up

Feeling and Form


A Mile in His Moccasins

Mojave Desert Ramblings

Passing of the Outhouse

This Way to Happiness

The Happy Life

Young Only Once

The Monkey Gland Affair

Bert Bacharach's Book for Men

The Two Babylons

For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes...

Why Christians Crack Up!

Why Do Christians Break Down?

Hava Nagila!

Beethoven or Bust

How to Abandon Ship

Livin' in Joe's World

The Last Democrat

Salvation Mountain

The Varmint and Crow Hunter's Bible

Love in the Western World

Jack the Ripper: Light-Hearted Friend

Little Men of the NFL

No One May Ever Have The Same Knowledge Again

The Secret Museum of Mankind

James Bond's World of Values

We Did Not Plummet Into Space

The Boy Who Didn't Believe IN CHRISTMAS

The Great Escape From Your Dead-End Job

All About Tipping

My Loser Godfrey

A Haircut in Horse Town

Mucusless Diet Healing System

Jefferson Returns

Lincoln Returns

Churchill Returns

Corporation Freak

Null Bock auf DDR

So You're Going on a Mission?

Nudes in My Camera

Why I Hate the Nazis

Flesh, Metal & Glass

The James Beard Cookbook

Mortal Refrains


Amy Grant: A Biography

The X Cars

We Were Five

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder

Hello ... Wrong Number

I'll Kill You Next!

Murder in Vegas

Did MAN Just Happen?

Terror at the Atlanta Olympics

Criswell Predicts

Your Next Ten Years

They Pay Me to Catch Footballs

The Phantom Menace

Just For Fellows

The Lopsided Gal

Astrology and Horse Racing

The Cokesbury Stunt Book

The Origin of Things

Remarks on the History of Things

U.S. Government Sewing Book

Funeral Tributes II

Blinky, the Friendly Hen

The Serbs Choose War

My Mystery Castle


Funeral Customs the World Over

The Right to be Let Alone

Mormonism and the Negro

The Church and the Negro

Preacher with a Billy Club

Fighting Parson of the Old West

Invisibility: Mastering the Art of Vanishing

How to Disappear Completely

The Gentle Art of Making Enemies

How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, How to Get Rid of a Man

Langenscheidts Konversationsbuch

Marlene Dietrich's ABC

The Bible in the Hands of Its Creators

The Echoing Green

Joshua Prager (2006)


"As long as I've got a chance to beat you," Durocher later wrote in his autobiography, "I'm going to take it. I don't care if it's a zillion to one." (8)

It takes about two-fifths of a second for a ball to whirr from pitcher to catcher. And some twenty seconds pass between each of the 280-odd pitches in every game. In that window, players and coaches communicate strategy. Some of it, like where to position a fielder, is gesticulated for all to see, barked for all to hear. But most is dog-whistled, silent directives the opposition tries to detect then decipher. Among these are orders on everything from when to run to when to swing, when to bunt to what pitch to throw, secret instruction given ballplayers in a blur of filliped fingers, tugged earlobes, swiped cap-bills, adjusted pant legs and any other motion that may furtively convey the whim of the manager. These have included the blow of a nose, the covering of a crotch, the direction of spit saliva.
Signs often hinge on an "indicator"—a motion usually indicating that the next signal given will determine the play. The indicator and the ensuing signal can get quite complicated. Consider the system used by the Texas Rangers in the early 1970s. . . .
The Texas batter peered at his third base coach, who mid-gesticulation swiped either his cap, his jersey, or his legs. If he touched the cap, the very next sign he gave was the one to follow. If he touched the jersey, the second sign was the one. If he touched his legs, it was the third.
Now the batter looked for the specific instruction. If the coach then went to his cap, the batter was to bunt. If he touched his face, the hit-and-run was on. If he touched his jersey, the runner was to steal. If he touched any place else on his body—a "dead spot" such as his elbow or belt—the batter was on his own.
Furthermore, each play had several variations. Where on his cap the coach touched determined what kind of a bunt was expected of the batter. If the coach touched the bill of his cap, the batter was to lay down a regular bunt. If he touched the front of the cap, the batter was to attempt a squeeze. If he touched the top of the cap, the batter was to try to bunt for a hit. (29-30)

Chapter 136, Section 21 of Massachusetts law stated that sports were not to be played outdoors on Sundays before 1:30 p.m. And so a contest that having swayed this way or that would have forever tipped a pennant race was instead stopped, a footnote lost to time. (111; fucking Puritans)

On June 14, 1949, a fan named Ruth Ann Steinhagen, nineteen, had shot Eddie Waitkus in the chest with a .22-caliber rifle in room 1297-A of the Edgewater Beach hotel in Chicago. (The incident inspired Bernard Malamud to write his 1952 novel The Natural.) (113)

Jacobellis raised his Speed Graphic to his glasses. He focused—thirty men framed beneath seven clubhouse windows—then pressed down his right index finger, the spirit of a team preserved. Here was Mays, the only player holding his glove, the Rawlings Mort Cooper slipped between jersey and forearm. Here were Durocher and Franks side by side and unsmiling. And here, six feet above the cap of Davey Williams, was a window within a window, a rectangular hole in wire mesh fittingly preserved in team portrait. Unknowingly, a freelance photographer had documented the secret of a team. (186)

Home team, then away, took batting practice, the park's loudspeakers serenading each with a carefully chosen song: "It's the Loveliest Night of the Year" for New York, "Enjoy Yourself. It's Later Than You Think" for Brooklyn. (192)

[Sal "The Barber"] Maglie warmed up "as nonchalantly as if this were just a World Series," joked Bill Roeder in the New York World-Telegram and Sun, and Gordon McClendon leaned into his microphone. "Twenty years from now, the fans will be talking about this afternoon's hero as yet unknown," McClendon told his audience. "If there is a goat, his name will echo down the corridor of time." (195)

In the second, Maglie retired the Dodgers in order, and with one out in the bottom of the inning, Lockman singled off Newcombe. From his perch in the fourth window of the clubhouse, Franks watched a tiny Thomson walk to the plate. He knew that Thomson was squarely in the wanting-the-signs camp. And as Newcombe peered in for his sign, so did Thomson, looking beyond second baseman Robinson toward the bullpen. Says Thomson, "I don't know why I wouldn't have." (197)

Playoff or not, no barb was off limits when Brooklyn faced New York. Robinson, though a gentleman, cracked about Laraine Day. Durocher, though a friend of integration, screamed racial obscenities. Outfielder Earl Rapp remembered to author Harvey Rosenfield a talk Durocher gave his black players before facing Brooklyn on August 14. "If the game gets close and tense," Durocher told them, "I may be shouting 'nigger' and 'watermelon' at guys on the other side like Jackie Robinson. But I want you guys to understand that you are on my team." (201)

Not once in baseball's 278 preceding playoff and World Series games had a team overcome a three-run deficit in a ninth inning. (Nor, at this writing, has any team in the 879 subsequent such games.) (206)

Hodges, his voice high, hysterical, continued to scream. "Bobby Thomson hits into the lower deck of the left-field stands! The Giants win the pennant! And they're going crazy! They're going crazy!"
No one could say anything just once. As Thomson hit first, Stanky shot from the dugout toward Durocher, the second baseman calling out, "We did it! We did it! We did it!" Pafko, confetti flittering down about him, spoke to a wall that had given no carom: "It can't be! It can't be! It can't be!" Behind the Brooklyn dugout, a girl of eighteen in tears named Terry O'Malley turned to her father, owner of the Dodgers: "Oh, Pop! Oh, Pop! Oh, Pop!" And Chadwick [the electrician and Brooklyn Dodger fan who nevertheless was hired to install a secret signal buzzer system for the Giants], supine before his wife and daughter, repeated over and over: "I can't believe it. I can't believe it. I can't believe it." (222)

He who minutes before had peered through a telescope at Rube Walker's white fingers now held in his own a paper cup brimming with scotch. Franks was drunk. "I'm too upset to"—the coach paused, his words slurred. "I, I just don't know what the." Aro moved on and the intoxicated Franks, noted Ed Sinclair of the New York Herald Tribune, "sagged against a pillar and sobbed unrestrainedly." Bill Rigney approached his coach. "Why are you crying, Herman?" he asked. "Damned if I know," answered Franks. (235)

And so it was that Branca and Thomson came together. He who had lost stated he had done his job well. He who had won stated he had done his job poorly. In the aftermath of a home run, pitcher and hitter, by dint of disposition and fortuity, were strangely in step. (239)

On October 13, 1972, Richard Nixon welcomed the pair to Washington. The ballplayers would in twenty-five days vote for the president a second time. But the budding scandal dubbed Watergate displeased even Republican Thomson and, steps from the Oval Office, he turned now to a presidential aide. "I said, 'I don't like reading all this stuff in the paper,'" recalls Thomson. "I said why don't they do something about it, get it off the paper and get rid of it as a story? He said the president is making his own study of it. I wasn't satisfied with that. . . . Get it out, get it off the table, admit it. Why kid yourself?"
Fifty-six days after Nixon resigned his office, Thomson, fifty, chose to keep quiet a heist. (326)

That rumors continued to profane the miracle nettled Thomson. "It's reared its ugly head every once in a while," he says. And it was now, on its thirtieth anniversary, that a phone call from another reporter had the perpetrator again swearing to its sanctity. "No," Thomson told the Los Angeles Times. "I had no help from any illegal sign-stealing on the homer." Branca in turn told reporter Earl Gustkey that he had no desire to speak of the playoff, that over the years he had "talked about that day so much it was like the water was up to my nostrils." But goat then stepped from the gangplank. "The Giants cheated and stole the pennant in 1951," said Branca, "and that's the truth." And so page 11 carried word of a buzzer, word that just as Thomson had pulled a fast one—lining to left a fastball—so had a miracle team. (329-30)

Not all those I contacted were helpful, baseball fan Fidel Castro not caring to share if he recollected the game., Brooklynite Bobby Fischer willing to reminisce only for $200,000. Even some central to my book, like Ann Branca and Franks, were tightlipped, the otherwise gracious coach not so much as acknowledging to me a telescope. "I don't know anything about it," he said. Wife Ami laughed: "Oh, Herman!" (356-7)

(See also)

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