The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Artifacts #28
Adventures in the National Pastime #18

Today's adventure: Special Instructions to Players, a rare 1898 document that had to be personally delivered to professional ball teams — it was considered too obscene to be issued via the postal service — admonishing its members for the colourful language they used upon the field.

Click here for a better look.

While some have cast doubt on the authenticity of the document, its provenance has been established, and it sold at auction for $32,312.50.


Brent McKee said...

There are numerous reports in the press of the 1900-1920 period of a player of manager calling the umpire "a piece of cheese." Presumably the real word would be covered under these instructions. Off hand I think it might be rather mild compared to some of what I heard yelled at the last Major Junior Hockey game I attended (which is why it was the last Major Junior Hockey game I attended).

jim smith said...

I'll buy that the flyer dates to 1898 and, to that extent, it's genuine. What rings dead false is that the "Committee" would re-iterate in print, verbatim, the language they found so abhorrent. I think the broadside was the work of some wit doing a sendup up on the bluenoses who really did give the teams grief about language on the field. I think it was passed around the dugouts and clubhouses--for laughs. Jim Smith

VP81955 said...

One wonders how much it helped. Baseball in the 1890s -- when the National League had a monopoly after the American Association folded in 1891 -- was pretty rowdy, as teams such as the Baltimore Orioles were infamous for their dirty play...and one would guess that extended to their vocabulary, as well. A fascinating document.