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All around the town…

June 20, 2013

east side west sideAs I’ve mentioned, I’ve been gathering up odds and ends of nonfiction, with a book or two in mind. I came across a foreword I’d written for East Side, West Side, Lawrence S. Ritter’s nostalgic survey of New York sporting life from 1910 to 1960. My piece emerged largely as a recollection of my father, in the context of the book’s theme, and I’ll have no trouble finding a place for it in the collection.

I recalled that Ritter’s invitation to supply a foreword had come out of the blue, perhaps through our sharing a publisher in HarperCollins. Along with the invitation and the text of East Side, West Side, I received a copy of Lost Ballparks, a beautiful volume that brought me memories of Offermann Stadium, where I’d watched the Buffalo Bisons—and, incidentally, where I got an advance look at Jackie Robinson when he was playing for the Montreal Royals.

That put me in the mood to write the foreword, but before I did I got hold of Ritter’s The Glory of Their Times, perhaps the best baseball book ever written, and read it cover to cover. I sent off my foreword, and Ritter responded by inviting me to lunch. His company was as good in person as on the page, and there’d have been more lunches but we were both frequently out of town. When the book came out, Total Sports Publishing ballyhooed the event with a luncheon at Gallagher’s Steak House, the ideal venue for it, and no end of sports figures showed up. My sole memory of the event is that I got to sit next to Willis Reed.

Larry’s health wasn’t good, and while we exchanged a few emails I don’t believe we ever met up again, and then in February of 2004 he died. I established as much at Wikipedia, where I found a link to George Vecsey’s touching obituary, newly pertinent with A-Rod again a focus of controversy.

But what I didn’t find on Ritter’s Wikipedia page was a listing for East Side, West Side. His other books were present, even including Principles of Money, Banking, and Financial Markets. (Ritter was an economics professor, and the book’s still in print; check out the bargain price!) But East Side, West Side was not to be found.

So I enrolled as a Wikipedia editor and added it to the list. And wound up with the great satisfaction of having contributed to the body of knowledge, along with something to blog about.

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  1. So everybody wins. And to top it all off, I’ll be bringing over a couple of tickets for tonight’s Yankees game at the new stadium for you and Lynne in a couple of hours. Turning up a good piece for the new anthology, Wikipedia-ing yourself as an editor, enhancing the world’s knowledge, getting a blog post out of it, picking up a couple of tickets for tonight’s game–all in all, not a bad morning’s work, I’d say. Good going.

  2. And all without leaving my desk…

  3. juliabarrett permalink

    Good job, LB – Love that you did that. How fun.

  4. Levin Messick permalink

    Small world, as an appraiser, I am familiar with Mr. Ritter’s Principles of Money, Banking, and Financial Markets. I was not aware of the baseball book. I went to Amazon and it looks like a good read. Thank you for the heads up.

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