As it happens, I have a more-than-the-usual-passing interest in the goings-on at the Baseball Hall of Fame this year. My oldest friend (I say we met in kindergarten, though he seems to think it was 1st grade), Eric Nadel, who has spent the last 30 years or so down in Texas as the voice of the Texas Rangers, is being given the Ford Frick award — in essence, selection to the broadcaster’s “wing” of the HOF. A really terrific honor, putting him in some very illustrious company, including Mel Allen, Red Barber, Vin Scully, Lindsey Nelson, and other icons of our youth, and I’ll be heading up to Cooperstown this July (along with about 100 or so of Eric’s friends and family) for the festivities.
So I paid some attention to the recent news about this year’s inductees on the ballplayer side: Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and Frank Thomas, and I stumbled across Tom Boswell’s magnificent piece on Maddux in the Wash. Post. Maddux is surely one of the most interesting ballplayers ever. He seems to be one of those people who has the kind of internal constitution that would have enabled him to be really, really great at anything to which he devoted himself. He figured pitching out: hitters can pick up the spin of the ball, and the location of the ball, but they cannot pick up the ball’s relative velocity (without cues from spin or location). So then he worked and worked and worked and worked to implement that simple principle — making all of his pitches, in Maddux’s own words, look “like a column of milk” – surely one of the best sports similes ever coined by a ballplayer.
And Boswell tells this story at the end. Maddux’s father, who worked as a dealer in the [...]