Pomrenke: Ring Lardner, baseball’s comedic genius

From SABR member Jacob Pomrenke at The National Pastime Museum on June 5, 2017:

In baseball, it’s important to have a healthy sense of humor. In a sport where even the best hitters fail seven out of every 10 times at bat, how else can anyone survive the long, grueling season without a little laughter along the way?

There is no shortage of amusing stories, and we all have our favorites. Blooper reels have long been a scoreboard staple between innings at a ball game, from Rick Dempsey’s rain-delay antics to the fly ball bouncing off Jose Canseco’s head for a home run. Players like Adrian Beltre and Bartolo Colon have endeared themselves to a new generation of fans thanks to an endless supply of entertaining Internet clips. Joe Garagiola, the catcher turned broadcaster and TV star, titled his best-selling first book Baseball Is a Funny Game for good reason.

And the godfather of baseball humor, a literary phenom who continues to make fans laugh more than one hundred years after his first story was published, is a man with a funny name: Ringgold Wilmer Lardner.

Ring Lardner was one of America’s greatest humorists. He was a master of vernacular literature, a sharp but cynical satirist who focused on stories about the “common man.” But his favorite subject was baseball, and he used the game and its many colorful characters to shed light on the absurdity of life in the Major Leagues. He wasn’t the first baseball writer to use comedy to illustrate his stories, but Ring Lardner made comic sportswriting an art form like no one before or since. Lardner was the first baseball writer to be selected as a recipient of the J. G. Taylor Spink Award after Spink himself, receiving the honor posthumously in 1963.

Read the full article here: https://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/ring-lardner-baseball-s-comedic-genius

Originally published: June 5, 2017. Last Updated: June 5, 2017.