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Game 58: Guardians at Twins


San Diego Padres v Minnesota Twins
Should his pupil fail, the dojo master awaits to administer... severe discipline.

Time: 7:10 Central

Weather: Gettin’ sticky, 25% chance of cloudburst, 85° at first pitch

Opponent’s SB site: Covering The Corner

TV: Steve Jobs Network (instructions on synching to local radio broadcasts here). Radio: One of those local broadcast thingys

Cleveland righty Aaron Civale comes off the injured list (strained oblique) today, which is bad news for us. “Us” being, to a very loose extent, the Twins – Civale is a decent pitcher, and Twins hitters have trouble with decent pitching. (And average pitching, rookie pitching, etc.)

By “us,” though, I also mean the legions of TwinkieTown readers… for, if Cleveland had simply run out their Sunday starter on regular rest, it would have been Hunter Reid Gaddis, whose current player profile page has this image:

photo by mlb, body by Jake

That’s right. Born in Canton, Georgia (while Civale was born in – yawn – Connecticut), Gaddis looks like the guy who’d shotgun beers at parties. (Using an actual shotgun to make the can holes.) There’s only so many sorts of people who sport that Gaddis look: redneck bar bouncers, guys who play D & D until 3 AM, stoned lumberjacks, or someone who’s mastered all these skills.

Per his Twitting page, Civale enjoys long walks on the beach. Gaddis probably enjoys punching seagulls. I know which pitcher I’d rather meet.

Anyways, Civale leans heavily on his cutter, as it’s his best pitch. He also throws a low-90s four-seamer, two-seamer, and a curve.

Bailey Ober you know... but did you know 1888 Cleveland pitcher Doc Oberlander? (Possibly Ober and Verlander’s ancestor?) He pitched in three games, with a 1.753 WHIP in 25.2 innings. Oddly, though, only a 4.03 FIP, for what that’s worth. More modern digits, for what they’re worth (YTD Ober, career for Civale):

According to Wikipedia, Little League was the brainchild of one Carl E. Stotz, who started toying with the idea of organized youth baseball in 1938, in Williamsport, PA.

But what if, at at the same time, a determined single mother named Josephine Morhard was doing the same thing for youngsters in the outer Cleveland area? Was Stotz’s fledgling league inspired by hers?

That’s the claim outlined in Mrs. Morhard and The Boys, a 2019 book by Ruth Hanford Morhard (Josephine’s daughter-in law). It’s one of several free books I got in the mail over the last few years, and never got around to reviewing, for reasons I’ll explain below. But first, the summary:

Josephine Mathey grew up in a tiny farming community in southern Ohio, the eleventh of 17 children, and accordingly quite poor. Her father beat her regularly, and she ran away from home at the age of twelve. She survived on jobs like housekeeping, nannying, and stenography, then married at 19 and moved to Cleveland. Her husband turned out to be a serial conman and bigamist. She was granted a divorce and raised her two children on her own until marrying Albert Morhard nine years later. Like her first husband, he drank and abused her. (They also divorced, and Mrs. Morhard remarried him once he sobered up.)

At the tail end of the Depression, Josephine Morhard was fairly successfully running her husband’s butcher shop, and looking for something to help provide structure for her son and his neighborhood friends. Baseball was a natural fit. Through pure stubbornness, Morhard was able to put together equipment, playing fields, uniforms… then eventually more teams, help from the mayor, and the support of the Indians MLB team. Her “Junior American League” was written about in the local and national press.

Although the “league” only lasted five seasons, it was remembered for decades by many of the players who took part. And, according to MMATB, a young Carl Stotz racked Morhard’s brains for several of the ideas that helped Little League become successful.

Now, does this matter? Should you care?

Not really, but, um, maybe? Since Little League is a non-profit organization, it’s not as though who came up with which idea “first” is important in any way. Besides, there were probably numerous other semi-organized youth leagues around the country at the same time, or earlier.

Josephine Morhard’s story of survival is a compelling one, and obviously matters a lot to the author, who pieced together much of the story from her husband’s memories of growing up.

The book, however, is written in a very odd style of simple, declarative sentences, and it’s told from Josephine’s point-of-view, giving it the feel of young adult nonfiction. Here’s an example, describing Josephine’s favorite runty pig on the farm:

“Every morning, before doing her chores, she’d stop at the doghouse to see her piggy. She scrubbed him and kept him nice and clean, but she thought he was still too thin. As usual, she went to the milk house, but this time she skimmed the cream off the top and gave that to him. It worked.”

Naturally, this ends with Little Slaughterhouse On The Prairie. (At least Josephine gets some money from the sale to buy candy.)

Much of the rest of the book, though, is probably too intense for the age-level of simple-sentence readers. There’s alcoholism, physical and sexual abuse described; none explicitly, yet all too much for, say, an eight-year-old to handle (which is about the age where I read books written this way).

So I can’t really imagine what youngsters this book would be appropriate for, unless they’re really into early-20th-century poverty-class misery. And the simple-sentence style would be likely to wear thin on adult readers. It might be best appreciated as a well-researched piece of Ohio family history, for those whose own families came from the region.

(There also is a short sequence describing Morhard’s first, utterly dishonest first husband, who was into selling oil, patents, land, insurance, any scheme you could name, and apparently at one point was engaged to the daughter of famed labor organizer Samuel Gompers. I’d read a book about this sleazeball.)

So, you see why I had trouble reviewing this book? I hate to criticize an author’s hard work, and clearly Ruth Morhard put in a lot of work. It’s just not a book I can imagine any readers here enjoying.

But at least I did finish the review, only three years late!

Today's Lineups

Steven Kwan - LF Jorge Polanco - 2B
Tyler Freeman - 3B Royce Lewis - 3B
Jose Ramirez - DH Alex Kirilloff - DH
Josh Naylor - 1B Donovan Solano - 1B
Andres Gimenez - 2B Max Kepler - RF
Brayan Rocchio - SS Ryan Jeffers - C
Will Brennan - RF Willi Castro - LF
Myles Straw - CF Kyle Farmer - SS
Cam Gallagher - C Michael Taylor - CF
Aaron Civale - RHP Bailey Ober - RHP