April 16, 2017


INVISIBLE MAN : Sometimes, myths become reality, like in the case of Luke Easter (Joe Posnanski, 4/15/17, NBC Sports)

There's a Luke Easter story that goes like this: A smitten young man walked up to Easter one day, late in the big man's career, and nervously asked for an autograph. In Easter's too-short life, he never turned down an autograph request or just about any other request for that matter. He smiled his big smile, chomped on a big cigar, and scribbled is signature while the boy looked up at him in awe.

"Mr. Easter," the boy said nervously. "I saw your longest home run."

Easter looked down at the boy with interest. He had mischief in his eyes when he asked: "Did you see it land?"

"Yes sir. I saw it land way over the fence and ... "

And with this Easter smiled again and turned back to his autograph. "Bub," he said softly. "If you saw it land, you didn't see my longest home run." [...]

There have been so many mythical sluggers in that time before Jackie Robinson crashed through. Josh Gibson was the most famous, of course. He was likely the greatest home run hitter who ever lived. But he, too, was invisible, and so his feats of strength are not recorded in clear and widely known statistics the way Babe Ruth's and Henry Aaron's are. They are locked in mythical stories, my favorite being that one day in Pittsburgh he hit a ball that did not come down. The umpire stared at the sky and waited and waited and finally declared it a home run. The next day, in Philadelphia, Gibson's Homestead Grays were playing a game and suddenly, in the middle of the game, a ball fell out of the clouds like a pellet of hail and dropped into an outfielder's glove. "Gibson," the umpire said as he pointed at Josh. "You're out. Yesterday. In Pittsburgh."

Turkey Stearnes carried his bats in violin cases and talked to them on nights before he games, and he hit so many home runs that after being asked for a number so many times he finally told a curious reporter, "I don't count them. I just hit them." 

Posted by at April 16, 2017 11:32 AM