Goldman: Doc Cramer, an allegory

From SABR member Steven Goldman at The National Pastime Museum on July 13, 2016:

Back in the last century, when I was young and had a boy’s black and white sense of right and wrong, I had an uncle named Douglas—not Doug, never Doug—only he wasn’t really my uncle. Every family has one of those, right? He was attached in some dependently amorphous way to my grandmother’s spinster sister, a vivacious woman whose major fault was him. The relationship, which predated my birth, was explained to be of a romantic nature, but they weren’t married and there was little evidence of any attraction, or even respect, between them. Their mutual antipathy was so great they could drop the temperature of any room low enough to give a penguin hypothermia, but nonetheless, they were together at every birthday party and Thanksgiving dinner, sharing their toxicity.

Separately, each had their charms. Apart from Douglas, Deborah was incandescent with a sharp sense of humor. She was always kind to me, eager to draw out a shy child. She made me understand she had been the same way, but, she said, “Look at me now!” I loved her for that. I liked Douglas because he loved baseball. A man’s man who was at Hiroshima right after the surrender, Douglas enjoyed teaching me about the game. As I grew older and read, watched, and played more, I achieved parity of knowledge with him. By the time I was 14 I had read my Bill James and far surpassed him. That was a problem. Douglas had grown up a devoted fan of the Philadelphia A’s. Given his age, this couldn’t have been a very rewarding experience, as the A’s were mostly terrible. In the 22 seasons from 1932 until they left town, the A’s lost between 90 and 105 games 14 times. Douglas didn’t care. He remembered those teams with the nostalgia of his childhood.

He had seen all the A’s greats play—Foxx and Simmons and Grove—but they were gone by the time he was old enough to appreciate them. The player who really moved him, and still did all those years later, was a center fielder named Roger “Doc” Cramer. This presented me with a moral dilemma.

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Originally published: July 14, 2016. Last Updated: July 14, 2016.