Sometimes It’s Not Easy Being a Fan

Richie Ashburn, swinging for the fences and not the little old ladies.

This story comes via my (Evander’s) good friend Mike in Toronto. I believe it appeared in the Toronto Star,* the newspaper Ernest Hemingway worked for (briefly) around the period of World War I. (For several months, I lived near the large house, at the rim of a ravine, which Hemingway had resided in.) The incident involves Richie Ashburn, a bat, two baseballs, and one grandmother and grandson with good seats….

“Sometimes the trivial turns transcendent, in a moment so improbable that it endures as a metaphor for the vagaries of life. Take what happened 55 years ago (1957) at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia. The perp was the Phillies Richie Ashburn, a future Hall of Famer who slashed a foul into the stands that hit a fan, one Alice Roth, smack in the face, bloodying and busting her nose. Play was halted as medics worked on her (her eight-year-old grandson, trying to fetch the offending ball, was told by the man who’d nabbed it, ‘Go to hell, kid!’), then resumed as she was laid on a stretcher. On the next pitch, Ashburn slammed another foul—cracking Roth on the knee as she was carted out. What are the odds? Ashburn visited Roth in hospital and they became friends, forever connected by the cruel whims of the baseball gods”

* As Mike has responded and corrected me (thank you!), the above piece is excerpted from the Toronto Globe and Mail. (But it was nice to talk about Hemingway.)

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About rightoffthebatbook

Co-author of the book, "Right Off the Bat: Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life"
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2 Responses to Sometimes It’s Not Easy Being a Fan

  1. michael k. says:

    Hi Evander – well, thanks for the honorable mention; now I’m almost famous ! By the way,
    the Ashburn story is actually from the Globe and Mail in their Moment in Time section
    which I don’t think they ever list on line curously. Anyway, am off to help a friend set up
    a garden shed. And, then off to the Ex (the Canad’n Nat’l Exhibition); manning a Green
    Roof exhibit there. Hope things go well….

    Adios amigo, MK

  2. I remember the Ex well from the Toronto days, before the Blue Jays were in existence. (I hope the Green Roof exhibit went well.) Regarding the Richie Ashburn blog, I can also remember him batting .306 with the Mets. But you know, some days it just doesn’t pay to get up in the morning.

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