|01-16-2003, 01:22 PM||#1|
NS Omnipresent Brasilian
HoF Earl Lawson, dead at 79
this, from espn:
Gustavo NDF Moderator
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. - Benjamin Franklin
|01-16-2003, 08:54 PM||#4|
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: Lawrence, KS
Earl Lawson was one of the most interesting baseball writers in the history of the game. He was also one of the most influential because of his overbearing, egotistical attitude.
He actually believed he was as important as any member of the Reds organization when it came to the teams success on the field.
You know what? He may have been right.
Lawson covered one of the smallest market teams in baseball. In his day (the 1950s through the 1970s) Earl Lawson was THE source of information about the Reds to the rest of the world. The was no ESPN, no national writers in every story. What Lawson thought about the Reds WAS the story.
Lawson was not a reporter, not was he a story teller--he was a columnist, and a very opinionated one. He was among the first generation of writers, and no doubt the boldest. He was never an apologist for the players. He was mouthy and played favorites. He was among the first group of writers that ran to the clubhouse after the game, striving to get a good quote, and, in Lawson's case, give a player that he felt messed up a piece of his mind.
Lawson often wrote great stories about certain players, namely the ones who followed Lawson constant stream of advice. But go against Lawson and there was hell to play.
The way Lawson wrote was not to sit up in the press box like a Ring Lardner, but to find "buddies" on the team, people he could get juicy gossip from to stir things up. Lawson was constantly looking for new buddies, and if he took a liking to a particular player, he would often "teach" the player a lesson on how to deal with the "press"--or rather, how to kiss Lawson's butt to avoid criticism in one of his columns.
One example of this is from the book "Hustle," shown below:
"Professor Lawson taught many lessons, but he hammered away at one theme in particular: Help the press and you help yourself. The road to riches and fame leads through the daily sports page...Lawson also showed Rose examples of what could happen to players who weren't sufficiently RESPECTFUL of the writing press. 'I remember one day Sammy Ellis, a Reds pitcher, threw a shutout', says Lawson, 'and instead of talking to the writers, he went on the radio and collected his twenty-five bucks or whatever. An in my story the next day, I wrote that his unwillingness to talk to the press was as unlikely as his shutout, because normally he was a gabby guy. This was 1963 or '64. And I said to Pete after the story appeared, 'Don't ever forget this. You'll find out in the long run that being friends with the newspaper people (chiefly Earl Lawson) will make you a lot more than the twenty-five bucks you can pick up occasionally."
In short, Lawson was a jerk and liar. When Vada Pinson first came up to stay in 1959, Lawson over-hyped the young star (as did many) as the most exciting player in the game, the next .400 hitter in baseball. Pinson was naturally quiet, and very shy. Not the type of player to win Lawson's respect.
Pinson's received wonderful press from Lawson, and everybody, until his poor play in the 1961 World Series. Lawson pounced on Pinson from that moment on. Rare was the Lawson article regarding Pinson that did not include a Lawson jab on how Pinson was not living up to his potential.
Lawson, who had been decked in the 1950s by Johnny Temple for continually degrading the player in his columns, began to treat Pinson in a similar negative fashion, know the shy Pinson would not speak up to defend himself.
Lawson, at one point, went too far, and degraded Pinson for missing a cut-off man. The other players began to tease Pinson about his treatment by Lawson. They began to circulate the article around the clubhouse, and telling Pinson to quit being so quiet and stand up for himself. Eventually, Pinson, obviously hurt, confronted Lawson about the article. Lawson looked Pinson in the eye and said if Pinson didn't like it, well, there was nothing between them but air. Lawson challenged the polite young star, but to his surprise, Pinson decked him. Lawson should have learned a lesson, but the next day he mocked Pinson again, writing how it is a good thing Pinson gets more into his batting swing than his punch.
Pinson was forever blackballed by Lawson. Nothing Pinson could do satisfied or pacified the man.
In 1963, for much of the season, the Reds were in the thick of a pennant race, Frank Robinson was hurt and provided little power. At one point during the season, Pinson was battling Dick Groat for the NL batting title. However, Pinson was asked by his manager to provide power to help out the team.
Incredibly, Lawson began to attack Pinson for NOT BEING SELFISH. In article after article Lawson demaned Pinson bunt for basehits, saying that was the only way he could catch Groat (neither Pinson nor Groat would win the batting title).
Ironcially, the the book "October '64" Curt Flood is quoted as saying how well respected Groat was to all of his team during 1963 because Groat continued to sacrifice himself by moving runners over (the Cardinals were in the pennant race as well) and thereby losing points on his batting average.
Groat was respected for doing what was for the good of his. team. The Cardinals would point to Groat's unselfish team play as a key to their winning the World Series the following season.
Pinson was labeled a fool by Lawson for doing what was in the best interest of his team. And as a bonus, Lawson's constant degrading of Pinson led to another incident where Lawson told Pinson off eye to eye. Lawson always got the last word, and as he walked pass Pinson, Pinson grabbed his shirt and tore it. Lawson, as many bullies do, went crying off to the manager's office and called the police. Pinson was arrested, but Lawson later dropped the charges.
For the rest of his life, Lawson wrote lies regarding Pinson. He would write how Pinson was not well-liked by the press, and went so far as saying that is why Pinson lost out to Willie McCovey for the 1959 NL Rookie-of-the-Year. Of course, when yo actually read the literature of the time, Pinson was one of the most well-loved and respected young stars that every played the game. In fact, you will never find more articles that speak about the politeness and repsepct a young star player has towards the press than those written about Pinson. It is actually strange seeing how often the press wrote about Pinson's quiet, polite demeanor.
And if you read the literature of the time, they all say the same thing: Pinson was not eligible for the award do to six at-bats too many from the 1958 season.
Lawson was a character, no doubt about that. Like Dick Allen, if you were on Lawson's good side you were "in." If not, he had no use for you. And again, like Allen, if you were "in" it meant that all you were actually doing was kissing his ass.
I have little use for either man.
I hope up there in the sky, Lawson, who for years persuaded his fellow BBWAA writers to shun Pinson for the Hall of Fame, can stick out his hand like the MAN he only thought he was, and shake Pinson's hand and finally apologize for single-handedly ruining the reputation of a player. Pinson's peers, such a Joe Torre, Richie Allen, Bill Mazeroski, Tim McCarver, and Frank Robinson, have stated Pinson belongs in the Hall of Fame and was never given his due. But nobody seems to notice. All people remember about Pinson was the fact that we was overshadowed(? what does that really mean) by Frank Robinson and the incidents with Lawson.
Nobody knows Pinson's achievements. Nobody writes about how, for a five year period (1961 to 1965), the era Lawson degraded Pinson for not kissing his ass, Pinson had the 5th most Win Shares among position players in baseball. The only players ahead of him are Mays, Aaron, Mantle, and Frank Robinson.
As a side note, Rob Neyer had written an article citing Pinson as one of the players on the VC list that should be dropped from future consideration. I sent him volumes of evidence on Pinson's behalf, and Neyer responded to me by saying that he was wrong, that he did not realize Pinson had such a good case, and that Pinson should be serioulsy considered for the VC vote.
I live in the same town as Bill James and ESPN's John Sickels...wondering if they are hermits
|01-16-2003, 09:58 PM||#5|
Join Date: Dec 2001
Wow. While I'd have never gone so far, Rinkster, my memories of Lawson are also, at best, lukewarm. I don't remember the slamming of Pinson as directly as you do, but he was a bit before my time.
I don't think now is the time to cast aspersions though, so I just say RIP.
Last edited by Skip : 01-16-2003 at 10:01 PM.
|01-16-2003, 10:22 PM||#6|
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Mercy......Max, that is.
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|01-17-2003, 11:45 AM||#7|
Netshrine Cleanup Hitter
I thought that was Miracle Max.
Lawson was all that Rinkster says, but of course there are two sides to the story. He was also the key Reds writer of the period of the 1960s-1970s, and the most influential of same due to his position as the Reds writer on The Sporting News, giving him a national audience. While he had a doghouse, he was also a tireless promoter of the Cincinnati Reds, and did much in his lifetime to help a "small-market" team be a big player on the national stage.
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