The Airing of Grievances
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Ever lose a set of keys or glasses, then realize you had them right where they should be? Well, I had my first blogging experience with that. In my Bring It On missive below, I referenced a great ESPN article on the origins of the curse of the babe. Well, I knew I would want to link in when the Sox and Yanks inevitably faced off this week, so I saved it in my Favorites folder. Even though I looked for 20 minutes this morning on ESPN's current site and found nothing, it was right under my nose. In our quest to make the AofG as relevant as possible, to you, our Grievers, I give that article to you, even though you can get it no where else.
This article is a MUST read, even if you don't like baseball that much. The article, by acclaimed baseball historian Glenn Stout, chronicles the historical mistruths in the classic "Curse of the Bambino" story of Frazee's involvement in the sale of Babe Ruth, the reasons for the trade, anti-semitism among baseball's owners and Henry Ford, and how Frazee got blamed by the Red Sox faithful and most of the rest of the country for what was a deal that killed the Sox.
Frazee, center, sent up the river by unscrupulous Jew-hating, even though he was Scottish Presbyterian.
It may shock some to realize that The Babe was essentially the Deion Sanders of his day, only with even more God given ability. He was constantly battling with Red Sox management, and all but demanded a trade in 1919. He even pulled a Sammy Sosa and stopped showing up for work at the end of the season. Frazee was obliged to move him. He took the offer with New York because no other AL owner would trade with Frazee because of his run ins with AL President Ban Johnson (described below). More than the Ruth trade alone, the Sox of the 1920's were done in but bad luck - the other trades from Boston to NY, Carl Mays among them, turned out to be bums, and the stiffs that Frazee sent to NY miraculously became stars in New York (another trait of the Yankee Championship Machine, seems like every year there is another scrap heap hero, Sierra, Olerud, Sojo, Brosius, Duncan, Leyritz, Bucky Dent, that the Yankees have around which make a difference in their championship runs).
How did Frazee become the bad guy? He was singled out by Johnson who "outed" him as a Jew via innuendo saying things like he was too "New York" to be an owner (a classic anti-semitic backhanded insult), even though he was Scottish and a Presbyterian. Why did Johnson do this? Because Frazee was the foremost proponant of a single commissioner system, which would have removed Johnson from power in the AL. This came to pass in 1920, with the appointing of Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, brought in to lend credibility to baseball in the wake of the Black Sox thrown series in 1919. Johnson's buddy, Henry Ford, picked up on this and in his rabidly anti-semitic Dearborn Independent, called Frazee out more directly:
". . . many people wonder how Harry Frazee became owner of the Boston American club. It is very simply explained: the agreement was not observed in Boston's case, and thus another club was placed under the smothering influences of the 'chosen race.' The story is worth telling."The final key to the puzzle is Fred Lieb, a Hall of Fame sportswriter, Jew Hater, and originator of the apocryphal stories of Frazee's demise and his need to sell Ruth to fund Broadway production. Just fascinating.
-- "The Jewish Degradation of Baseball," The Dearborn Independent
Of course, the hate trail for the Sox doesn't stop there. Tom Yawkey, owner of the Red Sox from the 1930's through the end of the century (via trust) was, by all accounts, a miserable racist bastard(and probably never trusted Italian Dom Dimaggio as far as he could throw his wire-rimmed glasses). He also told Jackie Robinson to take a hike in 1945, and would become the last owner to integrate his team in 1960, 13 years after the Brooklyn Dodgers. Can you imagine what the 1946 team (that lost in the 7th game of the series by a run) would have been like with Jackie Robinson at short instead of "loveable Loser" Johnny Pesky. I'm pretty sure they would have been at least one run better than that the '46 Sox team. I'm my mind, the Red Sox futility post-WWII is probably more the Curse of Jackie than the Curse of the Bambino.
Either way, read the article. It's long (like this post) but well worth the time.