An Enduring World Series Blooper (Or, The Ability to Move On)

In October 1912, six months after the sinking of the RMS Titanic and two years before the start of the First World War, the Boston Red Sox and the old New York Giants squared off in what would prove to be an exciting, competitive, and nail-biting World Series.  The series would go to a deciding seventh game (technically, an eighth game, as a game earlier in the series had been called off on account of darkness) as the two best teams in baseball went toe-to-toe.

 

The deciding game took place on Wednesday, October 16, in Boston’s Fenway Park, which had just opened for business that spring.  Trees were starting to turn, the air had a tang to it, and, one way or another, the 1912 baseball season was about to reach its conclusion.

 

The Spalding’s Official Baseball Guide that hit the newsstands the following spring wrote of the 1912 Series: “No individual, whether player, manager, owner, critic, or spectator, who went through the world’s series of 1912 ever will forget it.  There never was another like it.  Years may elapse before there shall be a similar series.”

 

For one player, though, the memories of that deciding final game would be far from pleasant.

Fred Snodgrass was a 24-year-old center fielder for the Giants, just three days shy of his 25th birthday.  He was a solid player–not a superstar by any stretch, but a consistent, steady contributor.  He had played in 146 games that year, batted a respectable .269, and stole 43 bases.  “Snow,” as he was called, would have been as likely as anyone in the Giants lineup to play the hero.

 

He did just the opposite.

The big game went to extra innings, the tension swirling around Fenway Park, thick as sea fog.  And when the Giants plated the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th inning, to take a 2-1 lead, it appeared that they would break the Fenway faithfuls’ hearts.  But in the bottom of the 10th, the first batter up for the Red Sox lofted a lazy fly ball to center field.

 

Snodgrass camped under the ball, reached up with his mitt, and . . . dropped the ball.  The baserunner slid into second base, safe on the error.  Later, Snodgrass tried to explain what went wrong, how he could have muffed such an easy ball.

“I didn’t seem to be able to hold the ball,” he said, unable to offer an excuse.  “It just dropped out of the glove, and that was all there was to it.”

Snodgrass made a brilliant play on the next batter, robbing him of an extra-base hit.  But the damage had already been done.  Ultimately, the Red Sox scored two runs that inning, aided by “Snow’s” miscue, and won the game, 3-2, and the Series, four games to three.  Snodgrass’s error would become known as “the $30,000 muff,” alluding to the difference between the winning and losing shares for World Series participants that year.

 

Sadly, this was what many fans and sportswriters remembered from the 1912 Series–up until that time, perhaps the best and most compelling World Series ever played.  The matchup between the Red Sox and the Giants that year included four future Hall of Famers and was the first World Series to be decided in the final inning of the final game.

 

But for Fred Snodgrass, he would be reminded of his untimely error for the rest of his life.

“For over half a century I’ve had to live with the fact that I dropped a ball in a World Series,” Snodgrass recounted in Lawrence S. Ritter’s delightful The Glory of Their Times, decades after his 1912 error in the Fall Classic. “‘Oh yes, you’re the guy that dropped that fly ball, aren’t you?’–and for years and years, whenever I’d be introduced to somebody, they’d start to say something and then stop, you know, afraid of hurting my feelings.”

 

The question was–would Snodgrass be able to move on and live his life fully, or would he remain stuck reliving an unforgiving and an unchangeable past?

***************

In The Singularity Wheel, the sequel to The Eye-Dancers, set to be released in November, Mitchell Brant has a different, but at the same time, similar dilemma.  Five years have passed since the events in The Eye-Dancers, but Mitchell cannot seem to forget Heather, the girl he met in another world, as far away from our earth as can possibly be imagined.  As the years have gone by, Mitchell misses Heather more and more, holding imaginary conversations with her, saving the gold locket she had given him as a keepsake, wishing there was some way he might be reunited with her.  He’s dated other girls since, but no one can hold a candle to Heather.  Being with other girls only serves to remind him of what he’s lacking, the one person he longs to be with but can’t.

 

From chapter 1 of The Singularity Wheel:

“He knelt down in front of his dresser, opened the bottom drawer.  This was where he stored his most valuable comic books.  It was off-limits to everyone else, even Mom, and a perfect place to stash his secret.

“He pulled out stacks of Fantastic Fours, Spider-Mans, Avengers, and X-Men, and set them aside, revealing the necklace with the gold-shaped locket tucked back in the far corner of the drawer.  This was the gift Heather had given him.  Something to remember her by, she had said.  It was cumbersome having to perform this ritual every night.  There were a hundred other places he might store the locket.  But he wouldn’t risk it.  The locket was too precious, too sacred.  No one else could see it.

“He picked it up, sniffed it, wondering if some faint, long-ago fragrance from her might still linger there.  It didn’t.  He wrapped his fingers around it, tight, held it against his cheek.  It was silly, really, what she had said—as if he would ever need anything to help him remember her.  He just wished the way she had believed in him, had confidence in him, might be able to rub off on his own opinion of himself.  Maybe it would have been different if he’d been able to stay with her in Colbyville, be near her, every day.  As it was, it was hard, even impossible sometimes, for Mitchell Brant to believe in Mitchell Brant.”

Will Mitchell get the opportunity, against all odds, to span the void and see Heather again?  And if he does, how will their meeting go?  Will she still feel the same way he does, after all this time?  Or will she no longer care?

 

Moving on is hard to do.  Coming to terms with the regrets of our past, with things we cannot change, with hopes and dreams that may seem out of reach, is one of life’s great challenges.

 

But it’s not impossible.

******************

Fred Snodgrass was never allowed to forget the error he’d made on baseball’s grandest stage.  But he didn’t let it ruin his life, or eat him up.  Perhaps Mitchell can take solace from Snodgrass’s perspective.

Perhaps we all can.

“Well, life has been good to me since I left baseball,” Snodgrass said in The Glory of Their Times.  “My lovely wife, Josephine, and I have enjoyed success and things have gone well, very well, through these many years.  In contrast, my years in baseball had their ups and downs, their strife and their torment.  But the years I look back at most fondly, and those I’d like most to live over, are the years when I was playing center field for the New York Giants.”

 

Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

40 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Christy B
    Sep 07, 2017 @ 19:21:14

    Great to read a bit of the upcoming book! Oooh he might see Heather again?! I must read more 😀

    Reply

  2. Jennie
    Sep 08, 2017 @ 01:10:13

    Snodgrass is not the lone soldier. Bill Buckner with the Red Sox is there, too.

    Reply

  3. Lyn
    Sep 08, 2017 @ 13:10:56

    I haven’t got a clue about baseball. But being an Aussie, I’m really looking forward to cricket season 😀 But catching the ball in cricket isn’t all that different to baseball. There have been some massive blunders where the fielder has closed their eyes and completely missed, or the ball just goes through their hands, or hits the tip of their fingers (remember, fielders in cricket don’t wear gloves) at 90-100mph. Ouch!

    Reply

    • The Eye-Dancers
      Sep 08, 2017 @ 13:19:33

      Hi Lyn! Ouch indeed.:) And full disclosure on my end, too–I haven’t got a clue about cricket!:( I’ve never watched it. But I know one thing–I would probably find it great to watch! In fact, I think I may start checking it out! So, I am off to watch cricket highlights on YouTube.:)

      Reply

  4. Ipuna Black
    Sep 08, 2017 @ 15:16:37

    You have always had a way with words, Mike! I love how you tie in real world events with your book. Congratulations on the November pub deadline! Yeah! That’s super exciting. I’m working on edits right now for Pitch Wars (not sure if you have heard of it). It’s been a wonderful experience so far being part of the Pitch Wars group.
    Your book sounds touching. There is nothing like chasing after a want. Have a wonderful day, Mike!

    Reply

    • The Eye-Dancers
      Sep 09, 2017 @ 13:37:58

      Thanks so much, Ipuna! And I hope your edits are going well.:) For some reason, the editing part of the process is my favorite part. There’s nothing like the “high” of writing a first draft when the words are really flowing–but, all in all, I love the editing stage. Maybe because the pressure of coming up with something new is over and done.:) All that’s left is taking what you’ve already created and making it better.

      Always great hearing from you, Ipuna! Have a great Saturday!

      Reply

      • Ipuna Black
        Sep 12, 2017 @ 15:15:13

        I like the editing process the best as well for the same reason you mention. I’m waiting on my letter from my mentor in Pitch Wars, but I will be on it after! I hope you have a great week, Mike!

      • The Eye-Dancers
        Sep 12, 2017 @ 17:43:14

        Thanks, Ipuna! You and I are in exactly the same place with out work! I finished the major round of editing with the Eye-Dancer’s sequel a little while ago and right now a couple of people are beta-reading it! So, I am taking a break from the project for a few days . . . but shortly, I will return to it. I’m enjoying the break, though, I have to say.:)

      • Ipuna Black
        Sep 14, 2017 @ 04:28:15

        I need a mental break too when I finish a project. Then, when I’m back into it, I give it my all, which is draining. I hope you get good feedback from your beta readers!

      • The Eye-Dancers
        Sep 14, 2017 @ 12:14:36

        So do I.:) This is the first sequel I’ve ever written, and I hope people who liked the first book will also enjoy the second! But I suppose that, too, is often a part of being a writer–wondering, even worrying, how your work will be received . . .:)

      • Ipuna Black
        Sep 16, 2017 @ 16:52:57

        Exactly. You wrote a great post on that once or maybe a few times. We can all relate! I’m sure it’ll be great!

      • The Eye-Dancers
        Sep 17, 2017 @ 11:21:39

        Thanks, Ipuna.:) Just the other day, I was suddenly feeling so doubtful and negative about my sequel. But then I read your comments, and your words were like a tonic, and I started seeing the book in a different, more positive light. I also put it aside again! Maybe I still need another week away from it.:) Enough time for a reset–considering how I spent so many hours working on it and thinking about over the spring and summer. But–I’m hopeful I’ll be able to look at it more objectively again by next week.:) Thanks again for your encouraging words. Hoping your weekend is going well!

      • Ipuna Black
        Sep 21, 2017 @ 18:59:56

        We love and hate our work, huh???! The life of a writer. I guarantee you will love it again. All normal feelings. So glad I could send some positive energy your way. We sure need it here and there! Weekend went well. Week is busy as usual. I hope you see you see the beauty in your book again when you are ready to get back into it! You will.

      • The Eye-Dancers
        Sep 23, 2017 @ 10:55:36

        Thanks so much, Ipuna.:) I shared my manuscript with someone recently–looking for feedback at this late stage of the process–and they just got back to me that they really liked it! So–it’s amazing what some positive feedback can do to a writer’s outlook. All of a sudden, I started having more positive feelings about the book. It helps, too, that I’ve set it aside for a few weeks. It’s starting to call me back to it again.:) I am still nervous about the reception it will get when it’s released, but things are definitely on the upswing! Thanks again for all your support! We are having a perfect weather weekend here in Vermont, so I think I’ll head outside and enjoy some of the foliage and think a bit more about the book.:)

      • Ipuna Black
        Sep 23, 2017 @ 17:00:47

        Vermont is probably gorgeous! It’s mostly brown in Vegas. So happy for you!

  5. Dragthepen
    Sep 08, 2017 @ 19:05:18

    Long read but worth the effort. Thank you for the baseball history lesson.👍

    Reply

  6. jjspina
    Sep 08, 2017 @ 23:06:16

    Wonderful post as always, Mike. Too bad we are remembered for our mistakes instead of our triumphs!
    Looking forward to your book! 😘

    Reply

  7. Donna Gwinnell Lambo-Weidner
    Sep 08, 2017 @ 23:39:58

    Thanks for the teaser…and a moment in baseball history that I’d heard of but knew the details. Nice tie-in!

    Reply

    • The Eye-Dancers
      Sep 09, 2017 @ 13:43:33

      Thanks, Donna! For the New York Giants fans of the early 20th century there was unfortunately a wealth of heartbreaking moments. There was also the 1908 Fred Merkle “bonehead” play when he failed to run to second base on another batter’s go-ahead single. They ended up calling him out, negating the run, and ultimately costing the Giants the pennant. Perhaps that will be a post for another day.:)

      Reply

  8. evelyneholingue
    Sep 12, 2017 @ 21:55:47

    “Moving on is hard to do. Coming to terms with the regrets of our past, with things we cannot change, with hopes and dreams that may seem out of reach, is one of life’s great challenges.”
    So agree with you, Mike. Since we cannot return to the past, we have no choice but accept that it no longer serves us, unlike the present that is here for us, now, until it also belongs to the past.
    Take care and good luck with the last touches to your latest novel.

    Reply

    • The Eye-Dancers
      Sep 14, 2017 @ 00:08:00

      Thanks so much, Evelyne! That is all so true–though, I have to admit, there are times when I wished a time machine wasn’t just science fiction, but rather science fact.:)

      Reply

  9. reocochran
    Sep 13, 2017 @ 01:34:00

    I love a little juvenile love and romance, Mike. When you’re young everything seems so serious and “life or death.” You have captured this level of emotions.
    I have hopes that Heather and Mitchell’s paths will meet once again. 💕 Out in the galaxies far off, where stars are lighting their way back together.

    Reply

  10. penneyvanderbilt
    Sep 13, 2017 @ 09:18:43

    Reblogged this on KCJones.

    Reply

  11. Sue Dreamwalker
    Sep 14, 2017 @ 13:04:09

    This is all new to me, Living in the UK Baseball is not ‘up there’ in our top sports.. So learning about some of the history of the game and its players was enlightening..
    It’s a shame one must be remembered for the one time it slipped from his grip..
    And I enjoyed reading the snippet from the The Singularity Wheel.
    I agree with you, Moving on is hard, but neither can we change the past.. So when we do not move on, we are staying stuck within the past, instead of creating our future..
    I am pleased Snodgrass didn’t allow his error to ‘eat him up..
    And I am sure ‘Mitchell’ will find solace in Snodgrass’s experience.

    A great tale..
    Wishing you well Mike..
    Sending Blessings your way
    Sue 🙂

    Reply

  12. Karina Pinella
    Sep 17, 2017 @ 04:54:01

    Perhaps the saying about being better to have loved than not at at all even though it hurts may also be applicable to being better to be remembered than not at all even if it’s for something not considered an accomplishment. It might be enough to pique someone’s curiosity to learn more about that person and then that person’s real accomplishments will then be known though after a not so flattering intro.

    Reply

    • The Eye-Dancers
      Sep 17, 2017 @ 11:17:12

      Hi Karina! That is a great point–I hadn’t really thought about it like that. But if Fred Snodgrass had NOT dropped that fly ball, he would have surely been relegated to a baseball footnote, with very, very few people remembering anything about him or his career. But the way things happened, he’ll always be remembered. And there is something positive in that for him for sure.

      Reply

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