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Monday, October 06, 2008

The Segregated Cornfield

It’s the story of farmer Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner), who heeds a voice in his head and converts a portion of his farm into a state-of-the-art baseball diamond. Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) and some of his long-since-passed buddies appear at the diamond to play again. Eventually with the help of revolutionary author Terence Mann (James Earl Jones), Kinsella manages to reconnect with his deceased father, also a baseball player, to “have a catch.”

The ghosts, if you will, reside in the cornfield behind the field.  Presumably in a segregated neighborhood.

It’s my all-time pet peeve. Why aren’t there any black players coming out of the cornfield?

While Shoeless Joe speaks of his after-life associations with the likes of Ty Cobb and Gil Hodges, he has no black friends. It seems fitting that a fantasy of this type would have leaped on the opportunity to bring Negro League stars Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and “Cool Papa” Bell together with their Major League counterparts.

In the commentary on the FoD DVD, the director said basically that “If I could go back and change one thing in the movie, I’d put in Negro League players.”

Gamingboy Posted: October 06, 2008 at 02:51 PM | 65 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: media, negro leagues

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   1. RMc and the Respective Punishments Posted: October 06, 2008 at 03:12 PM (#2971474)
It’s my all-time pet peeve. Why aren’t there any black players coming out of the cornfield?

Isn't the whole "dead players coming back to life to play in Ray Kinsella's field" basically a figment of his imagination? If so, if Ray was your typical white guy growing up Iowa, he'd probably never even heard of the Negro Leagues growing up. I mean, it's not like the Des Moines papers were running Homestead Grays boxscores or something...
   2. UCCF Posted: October 06, 2008 at 03:55 PM (#2971522)
Were there black players coming out of the cornfield or discussed in the book? I don't remember any.
   3. BDC Posted: October 06, 2008 at 03:59 PM (#2971530)
In W.P. Kinsella's novel, of course, the "Terence Mann" character is actually J.D. Salinger himself. The film goes a step in the direction of acknowledging African-Americans by replacing Salinger with an invented black character. A tiny step, perhaps, as the FA suggests, but ...

In both book and film, the Black Sox take the field against spectral opponents, but I forget the details of who they are in the film, I seem to remember they're just generic or something - of course including Mann, Ray's dad, and Moonlight Graham in some mix or other. In the book, the Black Sox play the 1908 Chicago Cubs, with Eddie Scissons pitching, a big dynamic that was too complicated for the film to include, I think. So there is some reason in the novel for everyone on the field to be white, and it has to do with Scissons as a central character. In fact Eddie Scissons is the most important character in the novel except for Ray himself, but the filmmakers, with a choice between Scissons and the similar Graham, chose to focus on Graham. Arguably it was a good choice because the character is simpler and Burt Lancaster was wonderful as him ...
   4. Nasty Nate Posted: October 06, 2008 at 04:07 PM (#2971541)
Is/was the real J.D. Salinger a baseball fan?
   5. Padraic Posted: October 06, 2008 at 04:22 PM (#2971551)
Is/was the real J.D. Salinger a baseball fan?

Yes. He also wrote a fairly famous book about a kid playing baseball.

Edit - He is also still alive, as far as I know.
   6. Nasty Nate Posted: October 06, 2008 at 04:26 PM (#2971558)
right but he might not still be a fan
   7. GGC for Sale Posted: October 06, 2008 at 04:33 PM (#2971565)
He was a fan, but the take and rake approach soured him.
   8. Padraic Posted: October 06, 2008 at 04:36 PM (#2971568)
"right but he might not still be a fan"

Well, no one knows now what color shoes the man wears now, so that's a tough one. Based on his writing (there are baseball references in 'Nine Stories' too), I think it's fair to say he liked the game.
   9. Matthew E Posted: October 06, 2008 at 04:45 PM (#2971570)
For that matter, there could be Cuban players and Japanese players and...

It's not necessarily a figment of Ray's imagination, either. It's a fantasy novel.
   10. Hello Rusty Kuntz, Goodbye Rusty Cars Posted: October 06, 2008 at 04:47 PM (#2971574)
None of the players were Japanese or women, and the movie didn't support gay marriage. May god have mercy on the filmmakers' souls.
   11. Lassus Posted: October 06, 2008 at 04:49 PM (#2971577)
I think it would be kind of awesome and hilarious if the highly-aniticipated posthumous J. D. Salinger novel is entirely about baseball.


None of the players were Japanese or women, and the movie didn't support gay marriage. May god have mercy on the filmmakers' souls.

Such a sheer lack of understanding - and the application of that lack of understanding to histrionic hyperbole - is truly boring.
   12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 06, 2008 at 04:51 PM (#2971580)
The problem, I think, is none of the famous Negro Leaguers were contemporaries of the Black Sox or the '08 Cubs. Aren't they mostly from the '30s and '40s? Bell, Gibson, Paige, etc.

Joe D and Ted Williams aren't there either.
   13. Van Lingle Mungo Jerry Posted: October 06, 2008 at 04:54 PM (#2971583)
I haven't read the book, but I'm trying to remember if the young Moonlight Graham mentions any post-Jackie Robinson players when he's gawking at the field for the first time and reciting names during the movie. I seem to recall Gil Hodges' name being mentioned. Am I right and were there any others?
   14. Gamingboy Posted: October 06, 2008 at 04:59 PM (#2971586)
J.D. Salinger is so elusive that I wouldn't be surprised if he died 3 years ago and we still haven't found out about it.
   15. winnipegwhip Posted: October 06, 2008 at 05:06 PM (#2971598)
Can't blame this one on Ty Cobb. He wasn't allowed to play there either.
   16. Babe Adams Posted: October 06, 2008 at 05:07 PM (#2971600)
Gil Hodges was named. Mel Ott was another post-Black Sox player.

I think there's a lot of evidence that at least some of the Black Sox were haunted by the idea of suiting up in the majors again. My minute knowledge of them doesn't include anything to indicate that they were haunted by segregation. That says nothing about them; that's just life.
   17. Gamingboy Posted: October 06, 2008 at 05:26 PM (#2971627)
Can't blame this one on Ty Cobb. He wasn't allowed to play there either.


^So true. So true.
   18. Gaelan Posted: October 06, 2008 at 05:43 PM (#2971643)
This is an incredibly stupid thing to be upset about.
   19. My guest will be Jermaine Allensworth Posted: October 06, 2008 at 05:48 PM (#2971645)
Gil Hodges was named. Mel Ott was another post-Black Sox player.

The Hodges one really sticks out. It took me the 15th time watching it to realize how out-of-place that one was.
   20. Lassus Posted: October 06, 2008 at 05:51 PM (#2971648)
This is an incredibly stupid thing to be upset about.

Who's upset? This guy notes it as a pet peeve. Are your pet peeves any more justifiable or important?

Doesn't really strike me as a big deal at all, actually, but neither does him bringing it up.
   21. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: October 06, 2008 at 06:21 PM (#2971680)
Such a sheer lack of understanding - and the application of that lack of understanding to histrionic hyperbole - is truly boring.


Your pomposity is much more boring.
   22. Sheer Tim Foli Posted: October 06, 2008 at 06:26 PM (#2971685)
The problem, I think, is none of the famous Negro Leaguers were contemporaries of the Black Sox or the '08 Cubs. Aren't they mostly from the '30s and '40s? Bell, Gibson, Paige, etc.

Two big names from around 1919 were Pop Lloyd and Oscar Charleston. Putting them on the field with the 1919 ChiSox would have overshadowed the rest of the story - but it would be a cool story. It has been tried in the novel Shadowball (without the ghosts and a black JD Salinger).
   23. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: October 06, 2008 at 06:53 PM (#2971710)
Your pomposity is much more boring.

Would it be pompous to point out that this was a baseball movie, so it makes sense to look at it through baseball terms, and then to ask what possible insight is gained by bringing up gay marriage? I mean, I know it's a joke, but at least bring up Mike Lum or the House of David or something.
   24. Walt Davis Posted: October 06, 2008 at 07:01 PM (#2971717)
I think it would be kind of awesome and hilarious if the highly-aniticipated posthumous J. D. Salinger novel is entirely about baseball.

He wrote Moneyball!
   25. Cooperstown Schtick Posted: October 06, 2008 at 07:21 PM (#2971737)
The problem, I think, is none of the famous Negro Leaguers were contemporaries of the Black Sox or the '08 Cubs. Aren't they mostly from the '30s and '40s? Bell, Gibson, Paige, etc.

Joe D and Ted Williams aren't there either.


That would have been extra creepy, since they were both alive at the time the film was released.

He wrote Moneyball!


J.D. Salinger is Billy Beane? Makes sense. Salinger had a high on-base percentage during The War.
   26. Shooty is obsessed with the latest hoodie Posted: October 06, 2008 at 07:29 PM (#2971747)
I'm busy watching the market meltdown, but I just want to throw in that I was disappointed when I first saw Field of Dreams--though I loved the movie at the time--that Negro Leaguers weren't on the field. Of course, when I was a kid I was creating strat-o-matic cards for Cool Papa Bell and Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige so I was unusual in that way. The Negro Leagues just fascinated me.
   27. Gamingboy Posted: October 06, 2008 at 07:31 PM (#2971749)
I think it would be kind of awesome and hilarious if the highly-aniticipated posthumous J. D. Salinger novel is entirely about baseball.


A period piece in which Holden Caulfield gets out of the mental hospital in 1972, makes the majors and becomes the "Catcher for Gary Rye(rson)".
   28. CFiJ Posted: October 07, 2008 at 03:06 AM (#2972617)
You know, at the risk of sounding excessively maudlin, I never appreciated "Field of Dreams" until after my Dad died.
   29. McCoy Posted: October 07, 2008 at 02:39 PM (#2973151)
Shoeless Joe is one of those books that makes a better movie then book. The book reads like a movie script.
   30. McCoy Posted: October 07, 2008 at 04:54 PM (#2973399)
4 players were mentioned in the movie, Smokey Joe Wood, Gil Hodges, and Mel Ott. Ty Cobb was the one Joe told to stick it.

The movie takes place in 1988 while the book takes place from 1977 to 1979 (a few months before Munson dies). The book's Graham's bio is correct while the movie moves Graham's death up to 1972 and has him playing for the NY Giants in 1922 instead of 1905.

The book makes an error when Kinsella has Scisson's yelling out to look at Mordecai's jersey number, which of course he didn't have one.

The movie has two guys in Cardinals unifrom and I believe a Browns uniform. There is also three A's player that are probably Simmons and Foxx, and possibly Collins. The Cardinal is probably Hornsby and maybe Medwick/Bottomley, and the Brownie is probably Sisler. The movie also has a catcher as one of the 8 black sox members, Swede Risberg I believe. There is also a Yank besides Ray's dad, it might be Pennock since I think he is a pitcher. The Reds player I am guessing would be Roush.
   31. GGC for Sale Posted: March 16, 2017 at 06:04 AM (#5418158)
I somehow got into a baseball fiction jag this winter and am rereading Shoeless Joe. I'm up to the part where Jerry, Ray, and Archie pick up Kid Scissons. Compared to The Celebrant, The Natural, or The UBA it is an easy read. That doesn't necessarily make it inferior, but it seems like the message in Kinsella's book is not as deep as Coover's or Greenberg's message.
   32. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 16, 2017 at 06:41 AM (#5418161)
Is/was the real J.D. Salinger a baseball fan?


Yes. He also wrote a fairly famous book about a kid playing baseball.

It was one of the short stories in Nine Stories.

Edit - He is also still alive, as far as I know.

FTR, J. D. Salinger died 7 years ago.
   33. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: March 16, 2017 at 07:26 AM (#5418164)
Well, the thread is nine years old, so...
   34. GGC for Sale Posted: March 16, 2017 at 08:41 AM (#5418169)
I thought it appropriate to dig up an old thread to mention a book from 1982 that discussed players from 70 +/- years before that.
   35. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: March 16, 2017 at 08:54 AM (#5418173)
I saw Shooty's #26 without realizing this was an ancient thread, and was briefly confused/alarmed.
   36. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 16, 2017 at 08:58 AM (#5418175)
FTR, J. D. Salinger died 7 years ago.

Well, the thread is nine years old, so...


Does that mean we're about to elect Obama as president?
   37. Batman Posted: March 16, 2017 at 09:24 AM (#5418187)
The Phillies are looking unbeatable this postseason. They need to extend Ryan Howard this offseason and then extend him even more next year.
   38. Rennie's Tenet Posted: March 16, 2017 at 09:41 AM (#5418192)
I saw Shooty's #26 without realizing this was an ancient thread, and was briefly confused/alarmed.


Yeah, we brought down the economy and killed a writer in a single thread. Not a bad morning's work.
   39. PreservedFish Posted: March 16, 2017 at 11:21 AM (#5418240)
When you see comments that you made 5+ years ago, do you remember actually making the comment? Does the comment feel familiar, or does it feel like you're reading the words of a stranger?
   40. Renegade (((JE))) Posted: March 16, 2017 at 11:43 AM (#5418252)
I saw Shooty's #26 without realizing this was an ancient thread, and was briefly confused/alarmed.
Same here. BTW, Shooty hasn't posted in ages but he's still alive. (Or so he claims.)

EDIT: And Andy never disappoints. (smile)
   41. GGC for Sale Posted: March 16, 2017 at 11:48 AM (#5418257)
39. PreservedFish Posted: March 16, 2017 at 11:21 AM (#5418240)
When you see comments that you made 5+ years ago, do you remember actually making the comment? Does the comment feel familiar, or does it feel like you're reading the words of a stranger?


When I read old threads, which I do surprisingly often, I'm not shocked my the comments I made. They definitely sound like me.
   42. Nasty Nate Posted: March 16, 2017 at 11:51 AM (#5418260)
When you see comments that you made 5+ years ago, do you remember actually making the comment? Does the comment feel familiar, or does it feel like you're reading the words of a stranger?
I have both experiences when reading old comments of mine.
   43. PreservedFish Posted: March 16, 2017 at 12:02 PM (#5418269)
I often feel that I actually remember the comment. I'm not sure that I really do or if it's a trick that my brain is playing on me - the context is all so familiar, and the subject matter so limited, and my opinions even more consistent, that it's easy to look at threads both new and old and get the deja vu feeling.
   44. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 16, 2017 at 12:09 PM (#5418276)
When you see comments that you made 5+ years ago, do you remember actually making the comment? Does the comment feel familiar, or does it feel like you're reading the words of a stranger?
The former. In fact, I generally remember it. But even if I don't, I recognize my style.

In fact, on occasion, I'll read an old thread, and see some comment by some other poster here, and say to myself, "Well, I would rebut this by pointing out X and Y. And maybe Z, too." And then I continue scrolling and I find out that I actually said X, Y, and Z at the time.

   45. PreservedFish Posted: March 16, 2017 at 12:21 PM (#5418281)
I heard a podcast (Radiolab or This American Life) that discussed a type of weird temporary amnesia in which the victims could only remember a few minutes at a time, so that in the course of a few hours at the doctor's office they might have that "hey why am I in a doctor's office?" thought dozens of times. An interesting thing about this was that the people are remarkably consistent in their reactions - they use the same words, make the same jokes, etc - so that virtually the same exact conversation can reoccur any number of times. It really makes you feel like an automaton: that your brain, when given a certain set of inputs, will reliably respond in the same way every time.
   46. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 16, 2017 at 02:43 PM (#5418403)
An interesting thing about this was that the people are remarkably consistent in their reactions - they use the same words, make the same jokes, etc
My kids tell me I make the same jokes all the time.
   47. jmurph Posted: March 16, 2017 at 04:31 PM (#5418529)
When you see comments that you made 5+ years ago, do you remember actually making the comment? Does the comment feel familiar, or does it feel like you're reading the words of a stranger?

As I'm a parent and am thus constantly getting dumber, they read like the words of a slightly smarter stranger.

Actually truthfully I find I'm generally (with some slip-ups) much less sure of my opinions than I was in years past. Or more sure of what I don't know, and thus less willing to make overly confident statements about as many things.
   48. GGC for Sale Posted: March 16, 2017 at 05:17 PM (#5418546)
Sure about that?
   49. Renegade (((JE))) Posted: March 16, 2017 at 06:57 PM (#5418593)
I discovered only a month or so ago that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were extras in one of the Fenway Park scenes.
   50. BDC Posted: March 16, 2017 at 07:03 PM (#5418595)
I sure as hell knew more about Kinsella 9 years ago than I do today. Depressing, but potentially inspiring, as I have organized a memorial panel on him for a conference this summer & need to get back up to speed ...
   51. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 16, 2017 at 10:31 PM (#5418679)
When I read old threads, which I do surprisingly often, I'm not shocked my the comments I made. They definitely sound like me.

There are probably at least a dozen OTP regulars whose writing style is completely distinctive from anyone else's.
   52. GGC for Sale Posted: March 17, 2017 at 06:15 AM (#5418734)
Hey, BDC. Like The Celebrant, Shoeless Joe was published in the aftermath of the 1981 Strike. As a SABR acquaintance told me,the strike affected many people in different ways. The Cosmic Baseball Association was founded. The founder alluded to the UBA as an inspriation, but I don't see much similarity other than it is a game played with made up players.

Both literary revisitations of the Deadball Era seem to yearn for that simpler time. The dust jacket of the edition of The Celebrant that I borrowed from the library, implies that it was at least partially a reaction to the strike. Not sure if Greenberg thought that freeagents like Reggie Jackson were the moral equivalent of Shoeless Joe Jackson, but the jacket referred to a nation without heroes. Also, Greenberg's day job was with the American Management Association.

Kinsella was conservative in many respects. There is a interlude around pages 158-159 where his characters yearn for the simpler past. Ray and Jerry lamentthe passing of baseball nicknames like Moonlight's one and how modern players own businesses as investments and "don't want to be known as No-Neck to (their) comptroller." So, back in the early part of the century, players were paid by owners, but neither group were "professional" in the sense that lawyers and accountants are. That changed over time. Stan the Man and Joe Garigialo owned a bowling alley, for example.

These books were both about a mystical past.
   53. GGC for Sale Posted: March 17, 2017 at 06:52 AM (#5418735)
Harry Stein's Hoop La also came out around that same time.

My voice doesnt change much. If I liked a point I made about WIllie Mays once here or in an email or another forum, I will often copy and paste it and only slightly edit it when posting in a current thread.
   54. GGC for Sale Posted: March 17, 2017 at 08:24 AM (#5418743)
FTR, I haven't read Hoop La yet. I have little idea about what its attitude is towards the past.
   55. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: March 17, 2017 at 12:06 PM (#5418871)
Not a single character declares their preferred pronouns. WTF, am I supposed to just assume everyone's gender?!?!?!?
   56. GGC for Sale Posted: March 18, 2017 at 01:26 PM (#5419280)
31. GGC for Sale Posted: March 16, 2017 at 06:04 AM (#5418158)
I somehow got into a baseball fiction jag this winter and am rereading Shoeless Joe. I'm up to the part where Jerry, Ray, and Archie pick up Kid Scissons. Compared to The Celebrant, The Natural, or The UBA it is an easy read. That doesn't necessarily make it inferior, but it seems like the message in Kinsella's book is not as deep as Coover's or Greenberg's message.


I finished the book and it seems like a letdown and it wasn't worth the rereading. The other books were better reads. Perhaps it is time to move on to The Natural and/or HoopLa.
   57. BDC Posted: March 18, 2017 at 01:56 PM (#5419290)
GGC, one of Roger Angell's best pieces, "The Web of the Game," was also written during the '81 strike. (About sitting with Smoky Joe Wood watching Ron Darling pitch a college game against Frank Viola.)

The 94-95 strike didn't produce great literature that I recall. Maybe people were jaded by then.
   58. GGC for Sale Posted: March 20, 2017 at 06:30 AM (#5419703)
One other piece of baseball cultured born out of the '81 strike was the Cosmic Baseball Association. I found a quote in the Times about how it was also inspired by the UBA.

Mr. Lampert said Robert Coover's 1968 novel, ''The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop.,'' which imbued the sport with cosmological significance, had inspired the league's birth. In the C.B.A., the book's protagonist, J. Henry Waugh, pitches for the Fictionals; he had a 3-3 record with the team in 1998.

After visiting the site, Mr. Coover said he had been entertained by the C.B.A.'s ability to refract the world's weirdness ''through the sane prism of baseball.'' Like a manager opining in a postgame interview, he analyzed his fictional character's mediocre online performance: ''Henry Waugh's problem as a pitcher is that he is encumbered with so vast an overview of the game that he cannot always see home plate.' '
   59. GGC for Sale Posted: April 14, 2017 at 06:06 AM (#5434970)


I finished up Hoopla. It is an enjoyable book but I haven't come across as much depth as I did in The Celebrant or The Natural. There is one segment were Ring Lardner describes baseball as the type of institution which we would now call a meritocracy and that's what makes the Black Sox Scandal so disappointing; they didn't try their best in the World Serious; as a Lardner character might say.
   60. Renegade (((JE))) Posted: April 14, 2017 at 08:27 AM (#5434978)
This breaking news just in: J.D. Salinger is still dead!
   61. Jess Franco Posted: April 14, 2017 at 08:32 AM (#5434980)
Iowa is very white.

Never did like that flick.
   62. Rennie's Tenet Posted: April 14, 2017 at 09:34 AM (#5435023)
I mean, it's not like the Des Moines papers were running Homestead Grays boxscores or something...


The Primer Dugout a few days ago linked to a 1917 comment by Christy Mathewson about Rube Foster. I thought it was interesting that it was in a Topeka newspaper, and there was no explanation about who Rube Foster was.
   63. GGC for Sale Posted: April 14, 2017 at 09:57 AM (#5435052)
Foster probably barnstormed through Topeka. The NeL wasn't big in New England, but I've read plenty of Hartford papers form the 1930's and saw mention of games by lower tier clubs like the New England Colored Giants coming to non-major league cities. Sometimes, the House of David or NeL teams was the highest quality live baseball available if you weren't in the biggest cities. Sometimes it was a good minor league team that was the best brand of baseball available. And, on occasion, teams like the Braves would play an in-season exhibition in New London, Conn.
   64. Rally Posted: April 14, 2017 at 10:13 AM (#5435064)
I started my league in 1982. Somehow I never read Universal Baseball Association until sometime in the 2000's, but certainly saw a lot of myself in J. Henry Waugh. Though I do have more of a life outside the game, so there's a chance through my kids the league will survive past my time.

At this point the league has been around so long that sometimes things happen in real baseball that seem like replays of what happened in our game. I should have known in 1998 what numbers Mark and Sammy would have ended up with. Just 4 years earlier the McGwire of our league, Conan, had set the record with 70 homeruns. The record he broke? Exactly 66, set in 1990 by Galvatron. Still waiting on our Bonds though.

We'll use about any source for player names - toys, characters from books and movies, musicians, pets. For the last 15 years my cat Brian has played the outfield for my team, the Miami Stars. So when the news broke this week about the cat in Marlins stadium I just figured Loria would do anything for attention, including steal ideas from the more successful team in his market.
   65. GGC for Sale Posted: April 14, 2017 at 12:05 PM (#5435203)
Arom, your league sounds a little like the Cosmic Baseball Association.

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