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|#2 Posted on 11.10.04 1036.10 |
Reposted on: 11.10.11 1036.13
| Wow - I had no idea about this. Definitely will make me cringe the next time someone mentions the ill-named and prejudiced Red Sox Curse. |
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|Y!: ||#3 Posted on 11.10.04 1211.15 |
Reposted on: 11.10.11 1212.25
Originally posted by Sec19Row53
Wow - I had no idea about this. Definitely will make me cringe the next time someone mentions the ill-named and prejudiced Red Sox Curse.
To be fair, most sportswriters (including George Vescey and Dan Shaughnessey)didn't know about Lieb's true nature. I think this part of the article says it best in that regard (I bolded some of the, IMO, important details)...
Fred Lieb is certainly one of baseball's most beloved writers. Lieb, who died in 1980 at age 92, began his career with the New York Press in 1911. After working for several other New York papers he entered into a lucrative free-lance arrangement with The Sporting News. Lieb covered sixty-five consecutive World Series and dubbed Yankee Stadium "The House that Ruth Built." But the primary reason he was inducted into the writer's wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973 is due his authorship of six team biographies.
They are perhaps the most influential series baseball history books ever written and have long been considered the standard historical accounts. They include the first narrative history of the Red Sox, his highly collectable and still highly regarded Boston Red Sox, published in 1947 and still in print today. A number of baseball historians still worship at the altar of Lieb. In 2001 best-selling author and Red Sox senior baseball operations advisor Bill James even told CNN in 2001 that, "If 50 people remember me the way I think of Fred Lieb, I'll be doing all right."
By all accounts the slight, fine-featured Lieb was an exceedingly genteel and pleasant person, mild-mannered and personable. Yet underneath his button-down exterior Lieb was rife with prejudice, compromised by his relationship to baseball's power elite and eager to do their bidding.
Like that of many other sportswriters of his era, his work contains elements of the easy anti-Semitism so rampant within American society during the era between the wars. An occultist and faith healer who regularly consulted an "Ouija board" for insight, such latent anti-Semitism is particularly pronounced in his two "spiritualist" titles, "Sight Unseen: A Journalist Visits the Occult" (Harper and Brother's, 1939) and his self-published "Healing Mind, Body and Purse" (1941). In regard to Harry Frazee, Fred Lieb finished what Henry Ford started.
Throughout his career Lieb consistently backed baseball's ruling class, becoming a powerful and influential voice in the game. An unabashed fan of Ban Johnson, Lieb's books are littered with instances where he used his bully pulpit to further Johnson's aims and attack his enemies.
Beneath his genteel veneer, Lieb wielded a sharp ax. He wasn't afraid to smear baseball figures he disliked. In "The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract," even James admits that "many, many of Fred Lieb's stories don't check out if you backtrack on them," but few baseball historians have ever bothered to check Lieb on the facts. For example, in one of his books Lieb charges that notorious first baseman Hal Chase threw games while a member of the Yankees and cites Chase's fielding record and performance in specific games as evidence. While Chase unquestionably threw games later in his career -- and perhaps with the Yankees -- in this particular instance Lieb was not only wrong, but he knew he was wrong. Chase played errorless ball during those specific games, got several big hits and the Yankees played their best stretch of baseball all season. In another instance a Lieb acquaintance told him that during the 1922 World Series pitcher Carl Mays' wife signaled the pitcher from the stands that a payoff had been made, after which Mays' effectiveness rapidly disappeared. Based on such scant evidence Lieb concluded Mays threw the game and later bragged that this story and his influence later kept Mays out of the Hall of Fame.
Lieb saved his best hatchet job for Harry Frazee in Boston Red Sox. The conversational, anecdote-laden history rescued Frazee from obscurity and delivered him into infamy.
Lieb gives Frazee plenty of ink in the book, all of it critical. He castigates Frazee for selling Ruth and making a series of disastrous trades with the Yankees that Lieb characterizes as part of some nefarious plot to help the Yankees at Boston's expense. Lieb resurrects Burt Whitman's notorious phrase "rape of the Red Sox" as a chapter title and identifies Frazee as the architect of the alleged assault on the franchise. The book glosses over Frazee's political battle with Johnson, ignores Frazee's many successes and misrepresents him as a theatrical failure operating on a financial shoestring. Lieb also alludes to the spurious notion that Ruth was sold to finance "No, No Nanette." In short, virtually nothing Fred Lieb writes about Frazee is accurate. As history, it fails entirely. As character assassination, however, it is thoroughly brilliant.
The portrait painted by Lieb is disturbing and underscores the degree to which the specious story of Frazee's Jewish heritage was believed in the baseball community and persisted after his death. Lieb turns Frazee into a caricature with Jewish overtones, a portrayal that was likely influenced by the misinformation about Harry Frazee given credence in the Dearborn Independent. Lieb was almost certainly was aware of the Independent. He was well read and the first editor of the Independent was journalist E. G. Pipp, uncle of Yankee first baseman Wally Pipp, who Lieb regularly covered on the Yankee beat. Detroit sportswriter H.G. Salsinger, a close friend of Lieb, occasionally contributed innocuous baseball features to the Independent, and Lieb himself periodically wrote about Ford in glowing terms.
For the next 50 years Lieb's book "Boston Red Sox" stood as the standard history of the Red Sox, the single significant source of information about Harry Frazee in book form, albeit one written decades after Frazee's tenure as Boston owner. His twisted and incomplete portrait then became the standard account of Frazee's baseball career, taken as gospel by subsequent baseball historians and sportswriters. Over time, as Lieb's contemporaries passed on and changes in society made it even less acceptable to express anti-Semitism and baseball shed it's anti-Semitic past, the notion that Harry Frazee was a Jew faded from memory.
(edited by BOSsportsfan34 on 11.10.04 1319)
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