... it ain't the boids you hear
With the impending season of baseball about to descend upon us, it is time to remind some, but inform more about an almost forgotten writer of humor. Very few will recall his name, Ring Lardner (born as Ringold Wilmer Lardner in 1885). After high school in Niles, Michigan, he hoped to attend the University of Michigan to major in football and dentistry. For an unknown reason, he ended up at Armour Institute in Chicago to study mechanical engineering. In his words, 'he passed in rhetoric and out of Armour in one semester.'
After many odd jobs, he went to work for the Chicago Examiner newspaper. Soon he was sent south to write training camp reports about the White Sox. It was this assignment that made him famous. He began his series of articles (in the form of letters about a bush leaguer who became known as Jack writing letters home to his friend, Al. The letters were later published in a book with the title, "You Know Me Al."
This book and his style of writing was unique. People believed that minor leaguers (bushers) were of low intelligence. Lardner capitalized on that belief by writing these letters to 'Al' by employing humorous slang. Readership increased and several of his coined words or phrases became well known..."I do it for the wife and kiddies/ World Serious/ solid bone from the neck up/ misjuging/ He don't look nothin like a pitcher but you cant never tell about those dam left handers/ I wished you was goin all the way/ and probily could marry the Queen of europe if you was not all ready married/ I'll do her nose in a braid."
Caushun! Unless your grandma and spellin is top grade, keep this book outa site of English teachas. The humor will sale right over there heads.
Although Ring died in 1933, "You Know Me Al" should be readily available at your local library. It may be in a collection of Ring's other humor of stories, plays, parodies, essays and newspaper columns. The titles have a 'Ring' to them, such as 'Gullibles Travels'/ 'Symptoms of Being 35'/ and 'The Young Immigrunts'.
Lardner was adept at creating interesting characters in his writing. One was 'Alibi Ike' which became a popular phrase, even when not connected with baseball. He had the ability to invent characters and make them unforgettable. Some would say his portayal of characters was not real, unlike Mark Twain. However, Ring had the knack of 'getting inside' the persons and transmitting to his readers those unique characteristics.
March 6, 2009