Appel: Damon Runyon’s guys and dolls

From SABR member Marty Appel at The National Pastime Museum on September 27, 2013:

Damon Runyon, a Manhattan kind of guy if ever there was one, was indeed born in Manhattan — Manhattan, Kansas — in 1881. He was Alfred Damon Runyon then, his mother’s maiden name being Damon, and he made it to the East Coast Manhattan when he was 30, joining the staff of the New York American after a dozen years gathering newspaper experience, first with the Army in the Philippines and then in Colorado, covering everything from politics to traveling hobos on passing freight trains.

Although his early adult years were marked by a fondness for alcohol, he later swore off and became a coffee drinker — as many as 40 cups a day, it was said. This certainly would have kept him well wired in pursuit of the night characters to which he seemed to gravitate — gamblers, gangsters, promoters, show people and athletes. Still, to hang with them and not imbibe with them must have been quite a challenge.

Although Runyon was on the reserved side with seldom a break for big laughter, he had a terrific gift for irony and comedy and loved to use names as a writing embellishment. Babe Ruth would seldom be just Babe to him; Mr. George Herman Babe Ruth seemed to better emphasize his points. If he needed to invent a nickname, that was all the better, like his “Uncle Wilbert” Robinson for the kindly manager in Brooklyn.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: October 1, 2013. Last Updated: October 1, 2013.