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Book Report: Baseball's a hit this week

Years back I remember hearing WCCO's Ray Christensen and the late Dave Moore reminisce about when they were neighbors growing up in south Minneapolis. 

Times were tough, there was little money for entertainment, but one of them had a "baseball" game up in his parents' unfinished attic. 

I don't know if many people remember them, but disks represented players and teams from the major leagues. You put one of your disks -- say Joe DiMaggio -- and you spun a dial, which would end on a number that indicated whether he had struck out, hit a double, a single or whatever. So then you retired Joe or advanced him to second.

My friend Gavin Strand I played this endlessly on rainy days.

So did Christensen and Moore 100 miles away in south Minneapolis. Only they did it a bit differently. They took turns announcing the game they were playing. 

And guess what? Ray Christensen ended up a sports announcer and Dave Moore as a much loved TV anchorman.

So what does this have to do with books? There's a new one out, called "Fathers and Daughters in Sports," introduction by Rebecca Lobo (Ballantine Books, $25). It's a collection of essays by writers and athletes who tell about how their fathers influenced them as they grew up.

Chris Evert's in the book, as is Mike Veeck, Bill's little boy. 

My favorite story comes from one of my favorite historians, Doris Kearns Goodwin, who displays a mighty range in her story telling from Abe Lincoln to Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt. This time, she tells about her father, a New York state bureaucrat who is also a Brooklyn Dodger fan. Pop teaches Doris (he calls her Bubbles) how to keep score, the runs, the hits, the errors of their beloved Dodgers. From there Kearns Goodwin segues to the career that made her famous, which reminded me of Christensen and Moore.

Mr. Kearns comes home after a hard day at the office, has a cocktail, then sits down for dinner.  He asks his daughter how the Dodgers came out this day. Doris, er, Bubbles consults her meticulously kept score card and is able to answer down to the slightest detail. 

As she gets older, she begins to craft her reports in chronological order, so her father doesn't know until the ninth inning who won.

Story-telling: That's the legacy her father left her. And, boy, can she tell stories.


I just ran across a book I reviewed years ago for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. It's a cute little number, titled "The Writer's Quotation Book," by James Charlton and published by the Pushcart Press, a small Wainscott New York Press, an outfit I haven't heard from for years. It always did good work and I hope it's still around. 

Anyway, the little book is a compendium of fine quotes by people associated with writing and the publishing of writing. Anyone who reads can relate to this clever little book.

For instance, Kathleen Norris said, "Just the knowledge that a good book is waiting for one at the end of a long day makes that day happier."

This one's good, too, from Winston Churchill: "If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or as it were, fondle them -- peer into them, let them all open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands.

Here's one for the typical non-reading college student, from Mark Twain: "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."

Here's one most people have already heard, from playwright Ben Jonson: "The players often mention it is an honor to Shakespeare that in his writing, whatsoever he penned, he never blotted out a line. My answer hath been, 'Would he had blotted a thousand.'"

Here's one my wife always tells me. I never knew she was a student of Samuel Johnson, who originally penned it: "Read over your compositions and, when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out."

Dave would like to hear from you. Call him at 426-9554.