2012 Bison Books paperback edition

Friday, January 21, 2011

Learning From Mistakes

"Grandstand managers": Polo Grounds, NYC, 1913 World Series: NY Gaints v. Philadelphia Athletics
This is what they used to call an erratum, that little slip of paper with a correction, added to a book after it came back from the printer. The second printing of NATIVE AMERICAN SON came too quickly to get this in, but it will make it into the third!

Page 180, second paragraph, corrected, will now read like this:  
Three days before the [1913] World Series began between the Giants and the [Philadelphia] Athletics, in the second of a two-game series against the Phillies, McGraw started Jim in center field and put him at the top of the batting order. "The minute [Jim] stepped from the dugout," said one reporter, the infamous New York "grandstand managers" started their jeers: "Pick a bat that hasn't a hole in it!" Jim struck out twice and hit two weak grounders at Grover Cleveland Alexander, a great pitcher. "Each time Thorpe came to bat," the reporter continued, "there was a repetition if the grim humor in the grandstand, and each time he started back for the bench, there followed the jeers, and by the facial expression and actions, Thorpe showed how keenly it hurt him." 

My error? From a tattered, old 1913 news clip headlined "Thorpe Tragic Figure in Series," I'd conflated the two-game "series" described above with the World Series. Tip off: Grover Cleveland Alexander never pitched for the Athletics, nor did Thorpe play in the 1913 World Series. Giants manager McGraw barely let him hit at all during this, Thorpe's first, season.

I knew all that stuff, but in a last-minute edit, after all my kind, patient baseball pals had reviewed the text, I slipped it in. It seemed too sad to be true that Thorpe was jeered at a World Series. And, it was. 

Life lesson: triple-check everything and then triple-check it again. Especially when you're writing about sports, where there are scores, statistics, and passionate fans. Thank you, an alert reader in Rhode Island!