Thursday, March 23, 2023

Baseball Stories, Summer 1945


Cover by George Gross.  

Full Hi-Resolution scan -  Baseball Stories v02n04 1945-Summer.Fiction House (darwin).cbr

After some help from a very gifted fellow scanner, I've figured out how to use the upload system at the Internet Archive which should make access to the scans easier from some, not to mention increasing their hits via Google search and the like as primary sources and hopefully keeping my scans on permanent display.  The page for this pulp is here.  As I mentioned last time, my mediafire link will get you a copy with joined pages for splashes, centerfolds, and the like (though I don't always go that route) and scanner tag images, while the copy I put up at the IA works best in their reader, and I don't really need to be tagging up the library copy, you dig?

That time of the year is here again with the coming of MLB opening day, so I thought a scan of Baseball Stories is in order.  I've blogged in the past on sports pulp, a neglected genre that has thankfully gotten a little more attention in recent years, and will see about going back and repairing those posts.

The other night, I listened to a late night presentation from Pulpfest 2015 on Sports Pulp by Michelle Nolan which taught me a few things as well as serving as a good introduction to the genre for readers that are new to the sports pulps.  Michelle uses a similar approach in her Love on the Racks survey of romance comics which holds a spot on my reference shelves, so I'm hardly surprised at her knowledge and thoroughness regarding magazine sports fiction.  I need to track down a copy of Ball Tales, without a doubt.

I sat and read in one sitting yesterday the best book I've experienced in a bit, Pitch by Pitch: My View of One Unforgettable Game by Cardinal legend and absolutely excellent storyteller Bob Gibson with Lonnie Wheeler and was reminded at how good sports stories can be.  I wish I'd read it earlier so that I could share it with my son who was an excellent pitcher/outfielder in his playing career as well as a huge Cardinals fan.  Gibson illuminates the mindset and decision making of a pitching great which might help any aspiring hurler. I grew up a Royals fan, so my conversion to Cards faithful has been slow though sure (and it doesn't hurt we have the Redbirds here in Memphis, always a good time). I gained so much insight into the character of many Cardinals greats and Cardinal culture in a short read. 5/5 star review here at Darwinscans for Gibson as both storyteller and human being.

But on to our issue.  I haven't gotten a chance to read it yet, so no review today, just some contents and samples.  Do enjoy.  I've got some further baseball scans on deck and mean to write about my experiences as baseball coach and baseball dad and the modern culture of youth club baseball, but we'll save that for another day.

Contents.  The first story from Bill Heuman who was very prolific in the sports pulps (and wrote westerns, too).

Any baseball parent knows about the improvisation that goes into getting work in around the house.  It's a true wonder we never put out any neighbor's windows, and I caught a hell of a lot of balls thrown off of a plywood mound I built for my son and would dolly out to the driveway.  Towards the end of his pitching career I might have had a little trouble handling the 80+ mph fastball, but it was the slider and curve that really tested (and surpassed) my reflexes.

I just put my catcher's gear up last week in a garage clean-up, sort of a sentimental moment for a baseball dad.  That kid sure beat the hell out of me, gear or no.

In the panel I linked above, Michelle Nolan talks about the frequency of stories involving the coach/player relationship, something I'd never really thought about, but it's totally true. BTW, pointing at a kid and saying "when I was your age" is NOT an effective coaching method, lmao.

Nolan also points out something I've noticed, too.  There's an incredible amount of true sports stories / sports facts in these pulps.  I've learned all sorts of facts in Fight Stories I haven't seen in other boxing materials, and I wouldn't be surprised if the same is true for Baseball Stories.

Of course, looming in the back of everyone's mind during the Summer of 45, even when escaping between the pages of pulp, is the war - which does find its way into these stories as it does into almost all magazines published during this period.

Play ball, scan lovers.  Will it be the Cards' year this year?  I was hopeful last year with the virtuouso performances of Arenado, Goldschmidt, and Wainwright, but maybe this time around.  A single lapse in management  or short slump from key players can kill a whole season when it comes to the playoffs, and I feel like that's what happened in game 1 versus the Phillies last year.  

But hope springs eternal in baseball - this year, it's our year.  Viva el Birdos!


Robert Deis (aka "SubtropicBob") said...

Thanks for the scan of that issue. I love the cover painting by George Gross. Wyatt Doyle and I included it in our recently published book GEORGE GROSS: COVERED, which focuses primarily on men's adventure magazine covers by Gross and includes a reminiscence about him by his friend and protégé Mort Kunstler.

darwination said...

I'll check it out, Bob. Gross did a lot of these sports covers, some good, some great, some not so good. It's a very hard genre to work in, both in picking good subjects and also in execution. I swear some of the sports pulp artists never played a sport in their lives :D

My favorite George Gross covers are his girlie art from the Detective and burlesque sort of mags, but you can just call me girl crazy.