News Index News Archives
August 1998 Archive

August 30, 1998
Ted Williams Turns 80

Today marks the 80th birthday of "The Kid," Theodore Samuel Williams. Considered by most smart baseball fans to be the greatest hitter the professional game has ever seen, the "Splendid Splinter" showed up ready to hit on April 20, 1939 with the Boston Red Sox. Williams played his entire career in Boston until he retired in 1960. He compiled a .344 career batting average while hittingt 521 career home runs. Also known as "Teddy Ballgame" and "The Thumper," Williams appeared in one World Series in 1946.

Today, Williams uses a walker to get around. He lives in Florida near his baseball hitters museum and he has been active in trying to get Shoeless Joe Jackson into the Hall of Fame.

On behalf of all the staff, members and friends of the Cosmic Baseball Association we would just like to say "Happy Birthday Kid."

Ted Williams at CNN/SI


August 27, 1998
Main Plate at Website Redesigned

For the tenth time, the Cosmic Baseball Association redesigned the main plate at its website. A newly designed main menu incorporates links to other parts of the website. One of the redesign goals was to make the plate less that 15 KB in size to speed up the download time. That goal was met. Senior Graphic Designer, Jessie Numata, was the overall supervisor of the redesign effort.


August 24, 1998
New Kerouac Biography Published

Ellis Amburn adds his name to the growing list of Jack Kerouac biographers with the publication of Subterranean Kerouac: The Hidden Life of Jack Kerouac. It is 435 pages long, includes over 30 illustrations, retails for $27.95 and is published by St. Martins Press.

Jack Kerouac has become a major industry in the last several years. And Amburn's book is actually the first wave of another series of books about Kerouac. Later this year Beat generation chronicler Barry Miles will be offering his contribution to the myth. The second volume of Kerouac's letters is due out in 1999. Douglas Brinkley (author of a recent biography about Jimmy Carter) has apparently reached an unprecedented agreement with the Kerouac estate allowing him unrestricted and uncensored access to Kerouac's papers meaning a definitive biography might eventually be written.

Amburn's entry is not a definitive biography. His access to the Kerouac archives apparently was limited despite claims to the contrary. Amburn, who has written three other biographies, all about Texas rock and roll musicians (Roy Orbison, Janis Joplin, and Buddy Holly) was Kerouac's last book editor. However, Amburn never met Kerouac, instead their relationship involved periodic telephone calls and letters.

Amburn's study of Kerouac's life has a very specific point to make. Essentially the point is that Kerouac was a homophobic homosexual who drove himself crazy with guilt. Further, because he lived in denial of his homosexuality Kerouac was essentially a dishonest soul.

The initial reviews of Subterranean Kerouac have not been favorable. Cultural historian Morris Dickstein in his review writes that Amburn's book is a

Prime example of what Joyce Carol Oates once called "pathography," a reductive emphasis on dysfunction that not only overshadows the subject's achievements but makes them virtually inconceivable...Amburn is just the kind of reader Kerouac feared, someone who would use his sexual confusions to discredit him. (New York Times Book Review, 8-9-98).
Kerouac scholar David Ulin in his review of this biography describes Amburn's work as
More a piece of psychosexual speculation than a biography. Simply put, Amburn is obsessed with Kerouac's sex life. (San Francisco Chronicle, 8-9-98).
Levi Asher, who maintains the Literary Kicks website devoted to information about the Beat Generation writes that,
To twist the facts around and try to portray Kerouac as deeply repressed by a secret buried desire for men is disingenuous. (Beat News, 8-3-98)
Diane De Rooy, a writer who maintains The Cult of Kerouac website which details the controversy regarding the Kerouac estate, sent a message to the Subterraneans, an internet mailing list, that captured a number of people's attitude towards Amburn's biography:
I've come to the conclusion [that] his book was written to cash in on and to exploit the brief and distant relationship Amburn had with Kerouac as editor. (E-mail Message of 8-2-98)
So nobody is buying the theory that Kerouac was a homophobic homosexual. Not even Joyce Johnson (nee Glassman) who is a former lover of the King of the Beats. Johnson wrote the very thoughtful and elegant memoir of her connection to the Beat Generation, Minor Characters published in 1983. She was Kerouac's lover when On The Road was published in 1957 and she saw firsthand how fame fell upon him. In a recent essay entitled "One Point Three- How the Kerouac Industry Betrayed My Lover" Johnson writes,
I found evidence that Amburn had consulted my memoir because many details had been taken from it. But he had not found my version of the story useful to him because it depicted a Kerouac who could sustain a heterosexual relationship and was even capable of tenderness toward a woman despite his pain and confusion. (Los Angeles Times, 8-23-98).
Johnson also points out that Amburn curiously leaves out the fact that in a letter Kerouac wrote to him in 1965 he says explicitly "I never was or wanted to be a homosexual."

Johnson points out that getting the facts straight about Kerouac's life has been a challenge because of the restrictions placed on every biographer by the Kerouac estate. She was denied access by the executors when she tried to use some two dozen letters that related to her involvement with Kerouac. If the archives were more available then pathographers like Amburn, Johnson writes, would have "less play with the facts."

On the other hand, if you are interested in pictures, Subterranean Kerouac contains a late photograph of Kerouac in which the caption provided by Amburn says "According to friends Kerouac...was demonstrating how to give head." Also included in the illustrations is a nice photograph of Kerouac's friend Lucien Carr taken in 1960.

Jack Kerouac is a leftfielder with the Dharma Beats, a cosmic baseball team.


August 22, 1998
Mike Barnicle Wants to Play for the CBA

Embattled former Boston Globe newspaper columnist, Mike Barnicle, has contacted two cosmic baseball teams with the intention of trying to land a spot on a 1999 cosmic team roster, according to reliable but anonymous sources.

According to these sources Barnicle has contacted representatives of the Eden Bohemians and the Newshole Muckrakers to see if either team has an interest in him.

Barnicle was forced to resign from the Boston Globe on August 19 after his editors could not validate a story he wrote about two boys with cancer in a 1995 column for the newspaper. This revelation came on the heels of an earlier controversy this month that resulted in Barnicle's two month suspension from the newspaper. In the earlier problem, Barnicle was accused of using jokes in his column that he had taken from a book by the comedian George Carlin. Barnicle did not credit the comedian as the source of the jokes. The newspaper initially asked for Barnicle's resignation but a potential backlash by subscribers and advertisers made the paper's management reconsider and instead of resignation, the suspension was ordered.

When later it became apparent that Barnicle had made-up the story of the two boys with cancer, he was asked to resign. Boston Globe editor Matthew Storin said, "Basically this was a sufficient violation of journalistic ethics to merit ending his career here." In a statement to the public, Barnicle said, "I still believe the story to be true. It was not fabricated."

Barnicle, 54, was a 25-year veteran of Boston journalism. His column was popular with his readers but he was less popular in the Globe's newsroom where staffers broke out in applause when notified of his resignation. According to a newspaper report, "Many reporters expressed resentment toward the well-paid columnist who lives in the wealthy suburb of Lincoln (MA), frequently appears on local and national television and seemed to them distant and arrogant."

Donna Britt, a columnist for the Washington Post wrote in her August 21 column that "Journalists who don't respect the trust invested in them, and their duty to present the most accurate story possible, should be doing something else. Like running for [political] office." Britt finds Barnicle's transgression more egregious than President Clinton's dishonesty. Afterall, we expect politicans to lie.

The Bohemians, CBA's team of novelists, poets and playwrights are having a dismal season this year. They could use some new blood and Barnicle might be a good fit. On the other hand, CBA's team of journalists, the Muckrakers are likely to be the Underleague pennant winners and probably will do little tinkering with a successful lineup. And, given the nature of Barnicle's case, he probably will fit in better with novelists and poets who tell the truth with metaphors instead of facts.


August 21, 1998
Cosmic Game Report: Bohemians @ Busriders

For two seasons in a row the Pranktown Busriders have been one of the best cosmic teams. This season, however, with little or no adjustment to the squad, hard times have befallen the Busriders and they find themselves sitting near the Middleleague basement. The Eden Bohemians had a better than average season last year but this season it looks like they will be the Middleleague basement dweller.

For those that believe pitching is 90% of the game and hitting the other 50%, well these two teams tell the tale differently. Both have decent pitching staffs but neither has any offense whatsoever. This game highlights this fact precisely.

The Busriders are strange. They have a couple of awesome homerun sluggers (Browning and Foster) but these guys almost never hit a roundtripper with anyone on base. It doesn't matter where they are placed in the batting order.

A combined nine hits in nine innings and nothing better than a single was swatted by any batter. It is true that Casano and Poe are top-of-the-line hurlers but come on, these are artists and writers, cultural elites, surely they can muster more punch than a few weak grounders that had eyes and just barely got beyond the infield grass. Even the two runs the Busriders scored in the sixth inning were manufactured around two walks.

It looks like both these teams need to find some offensive capability if they expect to be competitive in the Middleleague.

Click Here to View the Cosmic Game Report


August 17, 1998
Self-Serving Hypertext Links

Periodically we like to express our appreciation to the various websites who have created a link to the Cosmic Baseball Association's website. We call these "self-serving" links because they are selected solely on the basis that a CBA plate has been linked at the site.


August 15, 1998
Presidents Place Clinton on the Morally Disabled List

The Washington Presidents announced today that pitcher Bill Clinton has been placed on the Morally Disabled List (MDL), effective immediately. Team sources have indicated that regardless of any real world developments related to the legal/political scandal, Clinton will remain on the MDL for the rest of the season. A decision on Clinton's status for next season will be made later.

Clinton (3-3) has pitched only 97 innings this season and he has an earned run average of 3.79. His last outing on August 3 was a complete game victory against the Dharma Beats. (See related news item.)

Placing Clinton on the MDL suggests the team has concluded that Clinton did have an inappropriate relationship with the team's General Manager, Monica Lewinsky. What makes it inappropriate, according to insiders, is that Clinton is a family man who espouses family values but may not in fact truly believe in those values. Others in and around the team, including some of Clinton's teammates, think the problem is less ethical than psychological. And still others view the whole affair as a legal and political scandal designed to undermine Clinton and his ideology.

Monica Lewinsky, with whom Clinton is alleged to have had an intimate affair, is in her first season as the team's General Manager. It seems unlikely that she will return for a second season but no announcement has been made with regard to her status. An unconfirmed rumor has suggested Lewinsky might become a cosmic umpire.

When asked what would happen to Clinton's status on the team if in reality he was impeached as President of the United States, team owner George Washington answered that the League and the CBA's Board of Directors would have to decide whether or not he could remain on the roster.

Neither Clinton nor Lewinsky could be reached for comments.


August 3, 1998
Cosmic Game Report: Beats @ Presidents

The Washington Presidents are sitting in the Overleague cellar, the Dharma Beats are in a pennant race with the Pisces. President Bill Clinton faces possible personal and political disgrace. At the very least he has embarassed his wife and young daughter. Neal Cassady, along with other Beat icons is enjoying a renewal of interest by both the academic community and popular culture fans. So what gives?

The hapless Presidents beat a clearly better team 3-2 in a tight pitching duel. Clinton not only gets the complete game victory, he's the game's Most Cosmic Player allowing just six hits and striking out six Beatniks. This was Clinton's first start since last April when he was shifted to the bullpen so he could devote more time to dealing with his personal ethics problems.

No one doubts that the Presidents will ends up last in the Overleague standings. But if the Beats plan on catching the Pisces their offense is going to have to pick up. They haven't scored more than 3 runs in their last eight games.

When Clinton took the mound in the first inning the fans booed him. That's not surprising. Denizens of LaFayette Park are typically conservative and righteous types. But when Clinton jogged out to the mound in the top of the ninth inning he was met with cheers. That's not surprising. Fans, just like the politicians they might root for can be fickle.

Click Here to view the Beats @ Presidents Game Report


August 2, 1998
Piet Cross- Poetry/Interview

Rhode Island-based poet Piet Cross has published several books of poetry. Selections from Breeze Vectors and Bodies of Knowledge are linked here. It's hard to categorize Cross' work but generally speaking he seems to be a modern day troubador seeking some form of ideal love state. He doesn't write much about brake linings or use quotations from the stock market arena. New York City poet and novelist, Anne Lydel, talked with the poet for a Rhode Island arts publication. A transcript of that interview is also available.

Click Here to View the Piet Cross Poetry Plate


August 1, 1998

The homerun is the penultimate offensive feat in the game of baseball. This season, Major League Baseball and its fans, are paying close attention to several players who appear to have a chance of setting a new record for "most homeruns in a season". That record is currently held by Roger Maris who hit 61 homeruns with the New York Yankees in 1961. Maris bested Babe Ruth's longstanding hold on the honor. Ruth hit 60 homeruns in 1927. Hank Aaron holds the record for most career homeruns with 714, set in 1974.

Babe Ruth holds a couple of other homerun-related records, none of which are lkely to be broken. In 1927 Ruth hit more homeruns than every other team in the American League except his own team, the New York Yankees. Ruth also is the only major league player to hit three home runs in a game in both leagues. Ruth also holds the American League record for "most seasons lead leaguer in homeruns" at 12.

Twelve players in the history of Major League Baseball have hit four homeruns in a single game. Some of these notable players include Lou Gehrig (June 3, 1932), Rocky Colavito (June 10, 1959), Willie Mays (April 30, 1961) and Mike Schmidt (April 17, 1976.) New York Yankee Don Mattingly holds the record for "most grand slam homeruns in a season", 6, achieved in 1987.

Two players hold the Cosmic Baseball Association's record for "most homeruns in a cosmic season" which is set at 55. Hurricane Alma first set the record in 1991 when she played for the Tropicland Hurricanes and in 1993 filmmaker Ken Jacobs knocked 55 roundtrippers for the Visionville Beasts. Postmaster Wallace Brown holds the "most career homeruns" at the CBA with 285.

One final and perhaps parenthetical note about baseball homeruns: The amount of time it takes for the homerun baseball to clear the park is roughly equivalent to the duration of the male orgasm.


CBA menu

CBA News & Information Plate- August 1998 Archive Plate
Archived: September 1, 1998
Copyright © 1998 by the Cosmic Baseball Association