THE AMERICAN WEST (mostly): Fact and Fiction (mostly fiction)





"NOBODY GETS TO BE A COWBOY FOREVER." -- Chet Rollins (Jack Palance) in MONTE WALSH (NG, 1970)

Monday, November 17, 2014

A CHILDHOOD: The Biography of a Place by Harry Crews






When Harry Crews died in 2012, Elaine Woo in the Los Angeles Times wrote, [t]he word ‘original’ only begins to describe Crews, whose 17 novels place him squarely in the Southern gothic tradition, also known as Grit Lit. He emerged from a grisly childhood in Georgia with a darkly comic vision that made him literary kin to William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor and Hunter S. Thompson, although he never achieved their broad recognition.

In 1968, he began a long tenure on the University of Florida faculty. Woo writes that during his three decades there, he swore, drank and generally fractured the academic mold. With piercing blue eyes set deep in his craggy face, a limp caused by one or another violent encounter, a wardrobe that ran to sleeveless T-shirts and denims, and an assortment of tattoos (including one of a skull with a line from ee cummings, how do you like your blue-eyed boy/Mister Death’), he looked like the type of person one would cross the street to avoid meeting.

I have read most of his novels and though I have to admit that they are not among my favorites, I will always have vivid memories of each of them, for they are impossible to forget. How could I forget a story about a man who sets out to eat an entire car, a Ford Maverick, piece-by-piece (Car, 1972), or a man who makes a living by knocking himself out (The Knockout Artist, 1988)?











His books never made the best-seller lists and that was because, as one critic wrote, in part because they bewildered some readers and repelled others.  But he did develop a cult following, a huge, loyal one.

Maud Newton wrote:
A Childhood, his autobiography, is by most critics' reckoning, his best work.  A Feast of Snakes, a novel about a rattlesnake revival, comes close, exposing the hypocrisy and strange allure of Pentecostalism with an intensity matched only by Baldwin's Go Tell It On The Mountain.

His novels are a bit too bizarre for some readers, but that shouldn't cause them to shy away from A Childhood: The Biography of a Place, which is a straight forward account of the first six years of his life, and is just as memorable as his novels, and will always be one of my favorites.

The son of agricultural sharecroppers, he grew up in extreme poverty in south Georgia during the '30s and '40s. In 1937, when Crews was a small boy, his father died as the result of a heart attack. His description of what happened the night after his father was buried is one of the most devastating descriptions of grinding poverty that I have ever read:

The night after the day daddy was buried, somebody went in the smokehouse and stole all the meat that had been cured and hung there before he died .... Mama knows who got the meat, not because she has any hard proof, but because in her heart she knows, and I know too, but the one who got it is himself lying in the same graveyard daddy's in and I see no reason to name him.


He was one of my daddy's friends. I do not say he was supposedly or apparently a friend. He was a friend, and a close one, but he stole the meat anyway. Not many people may be able to understand that or sympathize with it, but I think I do. It was a hard time in that land, and a lot of men did things for which they were ashamed and suffered for the rest of their lives. But they did them because of hunger and sickness and because they could not bear the sorry spectacle of their children dying from lack of a doctor and their wives growing old before they were thirty.


H
arry Crews life proved at least one thing: It is possible to overcome what appear to be the insurmountable odds of one’s childhood. How many people could have survived paralysis and a full body hot water scalding before age six?  However, it should be added that only a few people – a mighty few – could have surmounted the odds he faced. But not only did he have to survive a harrowing childhood, he also had to survive an adulthood that would have finished off anyone who was not blessed with his iron will and intestinal fortitude.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

ADVENTURES OF RED RYDER (Republic, 1940)




Serials, sometimes called chapter plays or cliffhangers, were an early staple of movie production, even during the silent era.  And from the beginning, many of them were set in the Old West.  Later it was inevitable that the producers of serials, targeted as they were toward a juvenile audience, would also look to comic strips for source material.  It wasn't long before various studios began to churn out serials starring the likes of Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Dick Tracy, Mandrake the Magician, and others.  

Since studios were looking for both comic strip heroes and Western settings as inspirations for their serials, it was only a matter of time before Red Ryder appeared on the big screen.  Created by Fred Harman, the strip had been an immediate hit when it debuted in 1938.  Two years later, Republic released ADVENTURES OF RED RYDER as a 12-chapter serial. 

   


DIRECTORS: John English, William Witney; PRODUCER: Hiram S. Brown, Jr.; WRITERS: screenplay by Franklyn Adreon, Ronald Davidson, Norman S. Hall, Barney A. Sarecky, Sol Shor; CINEMATOGRAPHY: William Nobles

CAST: Don "Red" Barry, Noah Beery, Tommy Cook, Maude Pierce Allen, Vivian Coe, Harry Worth, Hal Taliaferro, William Farnum, Bob Kortman, Careleton Young, Ray Teal, Gene Alsace, Reed Howes, Lloyd Ingraham

STUNTS: David Sharpe (double for Don 'Red' Barry), Gene Alsace, Art Dillard, James Fawcett, Bud Geary, Duke Green, Eddie Juarequi, Ted Mapes, Post Park, Ken Terrell, Bill Yrigoyen, Joe Yrigoyen


THE PLOT.
Stop me if you have heard this one.  The Santa Fe railroad is planning to run its line near the town of Mesquite.  As in all such cases in the B-Western West, there are crooks that have inside information about the proposed right-of-way.  They institute a reign of terror and intimation against the local ranchers in order to grab their land and place themselves in the path of the right-of-way, which will then be purchased from them by the railroad.

In the first chapter, Col. Tom Ryder (William Farnum), father of Red, and sheriff Luke Andrews (Lloyd Ingraham), father of Red's friend Beth (Vivian Coe), decide to organize an effort to counter the terroristic activities.  Both are killed by a group of henchmen headed by One-Eye Chapin (Bob Kortman).

Red (Don Barry) then becomes the leader of the fight to defeat the outlaws.  In his efforts he is assisted by his juvenile Indian sidekick, Little Beaver (Tommy Cook), and a loyal ranch hand by the name of Cherokee Sims (Hal Taliaferro).  He is also supported by his aunt, the Duchess (Maude Pierce Allen), who is in jeopardy of losing her own spread. 

Almost from the beginning,  saloon owner Ace Hanlon (Noah Beery) is suspected of being the leader of the gang.  This could be because nearly all saloon owners in the B-Western West were crooks.  However, what is not known is that banker Calvin Drake (Harry Worth) is the real brains behind the illegal activities.  It should have been known, of course, because Drake wears an eastern suit and, especially, because he sports a thin mustache.  The combination was a dead giveaway but it took Red and his allies twelve weeks to catch on.  But they do, and in the end, the forces of good prevail over the forces of evil.






Fred Harman's Red Ryder (and Little Beaver)

THE STAR.
The directors were not pleased with the choice of native Texan Don Barry in the lead role.  And that is putting it mildly.  Here is what William Witney, one of the serial's co-directors, wrote about the casting in his memoir (In a Door, Into a Fight, Out a Door, Into a Chase):


Jack [co-director John English], Bunny [producer Hiram Brown] and I had started to look for actors to fill out the cast.  We were looking for a lean, craggy-faced western type about six-foot-six.... 

One morning the front office called Bunny and told him that they had solved our problem.  They had cast Don Barry in the part and had just signed him to a long-term contract.  None of us knew Don, so we checked him out with casting.  He had been cast in small roles in a mesquiteer series picture and a couple of Roy Rogers pictures.  We wanted to meet him.

After we met Don we all decided that he was too short to play the role and his brain matched his size.  The only thing he had that was big was his ego....

When the picture was finished we decided not to have our usual party.  The picture hadn't been pleasant.  Jack and I went across the street to have a drink.  At the bar Jack turned to me. 'Remember when we were wardrobing the midget and I said everything looks too big for him, and that hat he picked was ridiculous?  Well, I was wrong.  His head grew into the hat.  God help the next poor directors who have to work with him....' 



Little Beaver (Tommy Cook) rides double with Red Ryder (Don Barry) on Red's black stallion, Thunder.  Unfortunately, Barry's big hat makes him seem even smaller than his actual size. Fortunately, having a sidekick of Cook's stature makes him seem larger than his actual size.

Barry, who stood only about 5-5,  got the part because he was the personal choice of the man who bossed the studio, Herbert Yates.  Yates viewed the cocky, diminutive Barry as another Cagney.

William C. Cline in his account of the serial genre, In the Nick of Time, described the Barry persona in words that could have been used to describe Cagney:

With a jaunty carriage and high-pitched husky voice that clipped out his lines in an unmistakably authoritative tone, the swaggering young hero brought to mind as much as anything else a confident, self-assured gamecock.


THE DIRECTORS, SUPPORTING CAST, AND STUNTMEN.

Co-directors William Witney (L) and John English (R) flank producer Hiram Brown

At age twenty-five, William Witney, a native of Lawton, Oklahoma,  was a veteran serial director.  He had been pressed into service when he was only twenty-one, when the director of the picture was fired for drunkenness.  He went on to become Republic's busiest and most talented director of serials and B-Westerns.  He was a director who loved to stage action scenes and he became adept at doing so.  In later years, when he was put in charge of the Roy Rogers series, he eliminated as much of the music as possible and they became much more action oriented.

John English was born in England in 1903, but grew up in Canada.  He became a director at Republic at about the same time as Witney.  Despite the age difference, the two worked extremely well as a team and were responsible for Hollywood's very best serials, giving Republic a huge advantage over its competitors.  As a team, they directed seventeen consecutive serials.  

Most serial productions utilized two directors in order to expedite production.  Each director was in charge of filming on alternate days.  While one filmed, the other prepared for the next days filming.  Witney and English were a good team because Witney did what he did best, which was staging the action scenes, while English preferred to direct the scenes involving character development and story.

Maybe Barry was too small for the part, but it is not very apparent on the screen, except when he is astride Thunder, and he was a much better actor than just about any other B-Western performer.  He was a competent rider who could also handle himself in the fight scenes -- and there were many, of course, as there were in nearly all serials.  Plus, his double made him look even more proficient.  Maybe it is true that the directors did not like the actor and that he was hard to work with, but that doesn't show up on the screen.

Barry, for his part, had higher aspirations as an actor than starring in lowly serials or B-Westerns.  He was also unhappy with the moniker that he was stuck with for the remainder of his B-Western career.  Although the above poster lists his name as Donald "Red" Barry, which the actor didn't like either, his name in the opening credits in each chapter of the serial is Don "Red" Barry.  And to his dismay, he would be billed as Don "Red" Barry for the remainder of his B-Western career.    

The supporting cast, especially old pros such as Beery, Taliaferro, and Kortman, were important factors in explaining the success of the serial.  As child actors go, Tommy Cook, who had appeared in only two short films prior to the serial, was quite good as Little Beaver.  Despite the fact that he had never been on a horse, he was athletic and became quite proficient at riding after only a few lessons. 

In a departure from Harman's cartoon strip (and the Red Ryder comic books, the subsequent feature movies, and the radio show), Little Beaver, for some reason, is identified as Apache rather than Navajo.  Also, his pinto pony has no name, while in all the other mediums it was identified as "Papoose."

Serials above all were about action -- and more action.  And that in turn meant that their success was highly dependent on stuntmen (there were practically no stuntwomen at the time) and directors who knew how to show them to their best advantage.  This serial is a veritable "Who's Who" list of stunters and in Witney, they had the best director in the business to guide them.  And while the director never had much good to say about the actors who starred in his serials, he admired and respected the stuntmen.

In many ways, the most important performer in the serial, even more important than its star, is the man who doubled him.  David Sharpe was one of the very best in the business.

It wasn't absolutely necessary, but it was helpful that Sharpe wasn't much taller than Barry was.  It wasn't necessary because Sharpe often doubled actors much taller than him.  His small stature also allowed him to double women at a time in which, as mentioned, there were few stuntwomen in the business.

Sharpe was an acrobat who had been a champion tumbler.  He could ride and fight and he could perform stunts that nobody else could.  Early in the serial he reprises the old Yakima Canutt stunt of falling from the tongue of a stagecoach, allowing the coach to pass over him, then grabbing the under carriage and pulling himself back onto the coach, at which point he proceeds to best a young Ray Teal in a battle of fisticuffs.  It was all in a day's work for Sharpe -- and Witney.  

       
 

Davey Sharpe, legendary stuntman


Davey Sharpe leaping onto a moving truck, while doubling for Ralph Byrd in one of the Dick Tracy serials.








 
 


 
 


 


  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

FRED HARMAN: Cowboy Cartoonist



Leslie Fred Harman (1902-1982) was an American artist and cartoonist best known for his creation of the Red Ryder comic strip.  The strip was so popular that at its peak it ran in 750 newspapers and reached forty million readers.

Harman was born in St. Joseph Missouri in 1902, but when he was just two months old, his parents moved back to Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  It was there in that scenic setting that he grew up on a ranch and among horses.  His formal schooling ended after just seven years and he never received any formal art training. However, it must have been a natural talent that required little or no training since his two younger brothers also became cartoonists.

Beginning at age twenty, he worked as an animator at the Kansas City Film Ad Company.  Among his co-workers were his two brothers, Hugh and Walker, and a fellow by the name of Disney.  In fact, Harman and Disney decided to go into business for themselves, but their company, Kaycee Studios, folded after a year.  It was then that Harman headed back to Pagosa Springs.

The following years saw him working at various jobs including advertising.  He and a partner formed their own agency but it failed after a few years.  He did marry musician Lola Andrews and they had a son in 1927.  Six years later the family moved to Los Angeles where he began a Western magazine that – you guessed it – failed.  Only three issues were published.


Bronc Peeler

From 1934 to 1938, he syndicated a Western cartoon strip titled Bronc Peeler, but not many newspapers were interested.  His luck began to change when he moved to New York in 1938.  There he met Stephen Slesinger, a merchandizing genius who helped him in the evolution of Bronc Peeler into Red Ryder.  The redheaded cowboy first rode the range in November of that year.




Promoting Red Ryder as “America’s famous fighting cowboy,” Slesinger began doing what he did best, which was merchandising and licensing.  What followed were Big Little Books, novels, a movie serial, a radio program, and twenty-seven feature movies and numerous merchandizing promotions including, of course, the Daisy Red Ryder BB gun, still produced to this day. Not only that, it holds the longest continuing license in the history of the licensing industry.



In 1941, Fred and Lola bought a spread in the Blanco Basin.   They named it the Red Ryder Ranch.  Harman’s studio was located on the property in a small building near the main house.

In 1964, Harman retired from the strip and devoted more time to painting.  But that wasn’t the end of the Red Ryder strip.  It was continued by his former assistant, Bob MacLeod, and others.

Harman died in 1982.
The Red Ryder Round-up is held every year as a July the Fourth event in Pagosa Springs, which is also the home of the Fred Harman Art Museum.

 
       

 






 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, October 10, 2014

THE BORDERLAND: A Novel of Texas -- Edwin Shrake


The Borderland is an old-fashioned, thoroughly researched, skillfully written, not to mention entertaining, historical novel set in Texas in 1839. The author, the late Edwin “Bud” Shrake, a native of Texas and one of its bigger-than-life, legendary writers, knew the history and geography of his state and through exhaustive research, he also became acquainted with the people of that bygone era. As a result, he was able to intermingle fact and fiction and to intertwine historical and fictional characters without the story becoming stilted, as is often the case with historical novels.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

THE BRANCH AND THE SCAFFOLD: A Novel of Judge Parker -- Loren D. Estleman




I stumbled onto Loren D. Estleman years ago when I checked out "This Old Bill" from my local library. I had never heard of the author but since the book was a fictional treatment of Buffalo Bill, I couldn't resist it. I followed up that one by quickly reading two more of his historical westerns: "Aces & Eights" (Wild Bill Hickok) and "Bloody Season" (the Earps). By then Estleman had become one of my favorite authors of western fiction.




He is not only a prolific writer, but also a somewhat unusual one, in that he specializes in two genres: westerns (especially historical westerns about real people) and crime novels. Since the appearance of his first novel in 1976, he has now written 40 crime novels, 24 westerns, two works of non-fiction, and three short story collections (one western and two crime). If you are keeping score that is 69 books in 34 years!

In "The Branch and the Scaffold" Estleman covers the same ground as the late Douglas C. Jones, who also specialized in historical westerns (and a favorite writer). It is the story of Judge Isaac Parker, the so-called "hanging judge," who battled to bring law and order to the Western Arkansas District and the Indian Nations (later Oklahoma Territory). It is an episodic novel that does not include a single fictional character. The characters, even the minor ones, were real people. That was not the case in his other historical westerns. In those stories, he created fictional characters in order to enliven the historical events.


Judge Isaac Parker
"The Branch and the Scaffold" is not my favorite Estleman novel. That may be because I have read much about the people and the events that are covered and since Estleman does nothing to embellish the story -- it reads almost like a work of history rather than a work of fiction -- and I am already familiar with that history.

But to those who do not know much about the life and times of Judge Parker and the lawmen who rode for him or the famous and infamous outlaws they brought to justice, the novel will be both entertaining and informative.

 




Loren D. Estleman









Monday, September 29, 2014

MONEYBALL: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game -- Michael Lewis


In honor of the MLB postseason, I am resurrecting a book review that I wrote back in 2009.


I hardly know where to begin in attempting a review of Michael Lewis’ Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.  It isn’t that I don’t think that the book is well written, because it is. It isn’t that I disagree with the conclusions that are reached in the book, because, for the most part, I don’t. What bothers me, as a recovering baseball fanatic, is that I don’t enjoy the game that utilizes the approaches that are proposed in this book.

Moneyball  describes how the general manager of the Oakland A’s, Billy Beane, has been able to use sabermetrics (statistical analysis originated by Bill James and others) to more intelligently draft players and win games.

 
According to the proponents of this new approach:
 
1) offense is more important than pitching; 2) defense hardly matters at all; 3) the most important baseball statistic is on-base percentage, followed by slugging percentage; 4) stealing bases should not be attempted because it is not worth the risk; 5) the same goes for the hit-and-run; 6) never sacrifice because it is not worth giving up the out ; 7) scouts are unnecessary; and 8) line-ups and game strategy are dictated to the manager by the general manager and his statistical analysts, making managers almost as unnecessary as scouts.

Beane and his statistical guru, and not the scouts, decide who should be drafted.  According to Lewis, the most important statistic to Beane and his statistician in determining what position players to draft is the ability of the player to draw walks. They look for players (only college players for they never draft high school players) who have exhibited the ability to work deep in the count and to draw walks.

 
I can’t speak for others, but I don’t watch baseball games in order to watch hitters work deep into the count, draw a walk, camp out on the bases until somebody gets an extra-base hit (or two) to drive them home. The strategy utilized by Beane and his proponents may produce a more efficient style of baseball, about that I am in no position to quibble. It may be the only way that a team like the Oakland A’s can compete with the deep pockets of the New York Yankees (the ‘unfair game’ mentioned in the book’s subtitle).

However, to repeat, I find
the emphasis on this approach to result in a game that is much less fun to watch. 




Michael Lewis




 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I'M TALKIN' BASEBALL

Tis the season!  No, not those seasons.  I’m talking about the MLB postseason. 


I’m not the fanatical fan (fan being derived from fanatic) I once was. Free agency (an overdue and absolute necessity) means that players jump from one team to another resulting in less team continuity which in turns makes it virtually impossible to root for players for the entirety of their careers (I’m looking at you Albert Pujols). To further shore up my credentials as a fan of dinosaur vintage, I will add that I don’t like the DH, interleague play or, especially, the newly instituted instant replay appeal rule, which sometimes brings an already slow game to a complete standstill.



Stanley Frank Musial: Classic stance and classy guy
I say all this in order to say that I still have a nostalgic delight in the team (Cardinals, of course) and the games they played in the past.  My first hero was Stan Musial.  Because in my youth we lived too far away to attend games and the team was never featured on TV’s Game of the Week, my picture of Stan the Man was one created by voices on the radio.  And what voices they were.  It is hard to imagine, but there was a time when Harry Caray, Joe Garagiola, and Jack Buck were in the same broadcast booth.  I don’t know how it held them.

In later years, I moved closer to St. Louis and was able to attend games on a regular basis.  But by that time, however, Stan had been retired for a decade and I was too old for sports heroes.  But I sure did admire a couple of Redbirds by the name of Gibson and Brock and later a wizard at shortstop named Ozzie.


Gibby

Lou


Ozzie

Today I am a more passive, more detached follower of the exploits of the Cardinals.  At the moment, they have a slender lead in their division as they attempt to return to the World Series to avenge the loss to the Red Sox a year ago.  But if it happens, it won’t be against the Red Sox, a team that fell from first to last in its division and has engaged in a fire sale this season ridding itself of players and slicing its payroll. 

I own over a hundred baseball books and who knows how many I have actually read.  I certainly don’t.

If you are interested, and of course you are, here is a list of my favorite baseball books.  On the list are ten nonfiction books and one novel (baseball fiction for the most part has not been great).  They are listed in no special order, except for the first, which is number one on my list.




Gibby v. Mickey, October 1964

October 1964David Halberstam


This account of a year featuring a young team (Cardinals) on its way up and an old team (Yankees) on its way down is a jewel written by an outstanding journalist.  Like all good baseball books, it is about much more than just baseball.




Ball FourJim Bouton

This groundbreaking tell all book shocked many people and made many people angry (especially the Yankees).  I loved it! Bouton wrote an enjoyable follow-up titled “I’m Glad You Didn’t Take It Personally.”  Bouton, by the way, was one of the stars of the ’64 Yankees team that was defeated by the Cardinals.





The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood -- Jane Leavy

This book proves one of two things: as outrageous as Bouton’s book was thought to be at the time, he 1) didn’t tell everything he knew or 2) he didn’t know everything.  And Leavy’s book proves it. Mantle’s story is a sad, sad story of what-could-have-been and what-should-have-been.

 
 

Southern League: A True Story of Baseball, Civil Rights, and the Deep South's Most Compelling Pennant Race Larry Colton

This book by a former pro player is as inspirational as Leavy’s book is sad.  It is too bad that it is not better known, for it should be read, by not only baseball fans, but also everyone.  You can read a review here. 

 

 The 33-Year-Old Rookie – Chris Coste

Coste’s story of how after many, many years of toil in the minor leagues, he finally managed to make it to the big leagues at an age when many players have already retired or are seriously contemplating it.  He stayed there four years.


 

Hank Aaron and the Home Run that Changed America Tom Stanton
The long title pretty well tells the story of a great player, but more than that, a great man.  As far as I am concerned, he is still the career leader in home runs.


 


The Curse of Rocky Colavito: A Loving Look at a Thirty-Year Slump  Terry Pluto
A humorous, but often sad, especially for Cleveland fans, account of the strange, sometimes tragic, bordering on unbelievable bad luck of the Indians and their fans in the wake of Colavito’s trade to the Tigers.


 


A Day in the Bleachers – Arnold Hano
A play-by-play account of a World Series game at the Polo Grounds in which a young outfielder by the name of Willie Mays made one of the most spectacular catches in baseball history and broke the hearts of the Cleveland Indians and their fans, written by someone who was there. And this was before the Colavito trade.  Maybe this is where the jinx began.

 
 
The Boys of Summer  Roger Kahn
The classic account of the Brooklyn Dodgers of the ’50’s, written by a man that many have anointed as the best baseball writer ever.





1941 – The Greatest Year in Sports Mike Vaccaro
It was not a great year in all ways, of course. In fact, in many ways it was a tragic year.  But the title is correct and baseball was front and center.  It was the year that Joe DiMaggio hit safely in a record 56 consecutive games and Ted Williams hit .406.  Nobody since has come close to DiMaggio’s record and Williams is still the last hitter to top .400.
 
Bang the Drum Slowly Mark Harris

Mark Harris wrote a number of baseball novels all of which were narrated by a pitcher named Henry Wiggen who threw and thought left-handed.  They are all worth reading, but this is the best one.  As far as I am concerned, it is the classic baseball novel.







The Whiz Kids had won it,
Bobby Thomson had done it,
And Yogi read the comics all the while.
Rock 'n' roll was bein' born,
Marijuana we would scorn,
So down on the corner the National Pastime went on trial.


We're talkin' baseball (Kluzewski, Campanella),
Talkin' baseball (The Man and Bobby Feller),
The Scooter, The Barber and The Newk,
They knew 'em all from Boston to Dubuque,
Especially Willie, Mickey and The Duke.


Well Casey was winnin',
Hank Aaron was beginnin',
One Robby goin' out, one comin' in.
Kiner an' midget Gaedel,
The Thumper an' Mel Parnell,
An' Ike was the only one winnin' down in Washington.


We're talkin' baseball (Kluzewski, Campanella),
Talkin' baseball (The Man and Bobby Feller),
The Scooter, The Barber and The Newk,
They knew 'em all from Boston to Dubuque,
Especially Willie, Mickey and The Duke.


Now my old friend The Bachelor,
Well he swore he was The Oklahoma Kid,
An' Cookie played hookey to go an' see The Duke,
An' me I always love Willie Mays,
Those were the days.


Well now it's the eighties,
An' Brett is the greatest,
An' Bobby Bonds can play for everyone.
Rose is at the Vet,
Rusty again is a Met,
An' the great Alexander is pitchin' again in Washington.


I'm talkin' baseball (like Reggie, Quisenberry),
Talkin' baseball (Carew an' Gaylord Perry),
Seaver, Garvey, Schmidt an' Vida Blue,
If Cooperstown is callin' it's no fluke,
They'll be with Willie, Mickey an' The Duke.


Willie, Mickey an' The Duke,..
(Say Hey! Say Hey! Say Hey!)
It was Willie, Mickey an' The Duke,..
(Say Hey! Say Hey! Say Hey!)
I'm talkin' Willie, Mickey an' The Duke,..
(Say Hey! Say Hey! Say Hey!)


-- Terry Cashman