Is Cleveland cursed? Myths, Legends and Numbers
MORTAL FOE'S GAME OF MYTH, LEGEND AND NUMBERS
The novel Mortal Foe has the game of baseball as one of its themes. The game might turn some potential readers off. I can understand that.
It's been said that baseball is a game of numbers. Anyone listening to a radio broadcast of a Major League game would be hard-pressed to argue. Announcers often make the game seem like a deluge of statistics interrupted every now and then by some action. As if that wasn't enough, every once in a while a new statistic is created. Players' performances are measured by numbers, then compared to other players' numbers.
A new or casual follower of the game can go numb in a hurry.
But there's much more to baseball than the statistics. Pardon the blaspheme, hardcore fans.
When I was a kid, I was more interested in the rich history of the game, the stories, the legends and the myths. And there were plenty. That was the area in which some of the numbers meant something to me. I didn't care to compare levels of mediocrity—and believe me, growing up in Cleveland in the 1970's meant watching a lot of mediocre baseball. If one was lucky. No, I was struck by how some of the numbers elevated certain players to legendary status.
Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees played in 2,130 consecutive games. Think about that. It wasn't that he was never injured, or never sick. For 17 seasons he played through every ding and dent. What got him in the end is what killed him: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the neuromuscular disease named after him. His record stood for 56 years. That's how tough it is to do what he did.
Gehrig's teammate, the larger-than-life Babe Ruth, struck out 1,330 times. But he also hit 714 home runs. What a testament to sticking to it! One of my favorite Ruthian legends is the Called Shot in the 1932 World Series against the Chicago Cubs. With two strikes on him, Ruth stepped out of the batters box and pointed toward center field. He later claimed he said he would hit the next one past the flag pole. Others refute the claim. No one knows for sure whether he actually called the shot. We only know that was where he hit the ball. Home run. What a great story!
Ruth was at the center of a myth, too. He started out playing for the Boston Red Sox, as a dominating pitcher. By 1918 Ruth had helped the Red Sox win two World Series. In winter of 1919 his contract was sold to the New York Yankees. The Red Sox didn't win another Series until 2004, 86 years later.
Of course, the Curse of the Bambino ignores the fact Ruth was still in Boston in the summer of 1919, and the Sox finished the season in 6th place.
Let's not forget the Chicago Cubs' myth. Chicago went to the 1945 World Series against the Detroit Tigers. A man named William Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, got his pet goat, Murphy, into the stands for Game 4. The goat's smell bothered other fans, and Sianis and Murphy were asked to leave. Sianis supposedly cursed the Cubs, saying "They ain't gonna win no more."
The Cubs lost that Series, and didn't win another for 71 years despite numerous opportunities. But they already hadn't won since 1908. No curse was claimed for the earlier 36 seasons.
Researching these curses made me wonder about my hometown team, the Cleveland Indians. They last won a World Series in 1948. But no one has come up with a colorful curse for their 69 year drought. I toyed with these ideas myself, both the lack of a curse and a paranormal possibility.
The result is the novel, Mortal Foe.
Thank you Marty, and yes, you have now ignited my curiosity. I shall now read the book blurb, watch the video, and settle down with coffee and an excerpt!
A picture is worth a thousand words… But what if that image can only be seen through the lens of one camera? What is the snapshot can only be seen by a select few? What if the photo has its origins in the pit of Hell? What is that face belongs to an enemy bent on destruction? This is Buddy Cullen’s fate when he first dreams of his grandfather’s death and then inherits his grandfather’s antique camera and captures an image that haunts him and seeks his death. Can Buddy survive the curse that he sarcastically dubs “Popcorn”—a curse that no one wants to believe exists and stalks the city of Cleveland, beginning with its baseball team—a mortal foe?
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Marty Roppelt was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. His original profession was acting on stage, in local commercials and training films and in film. This means that he has experienced life through a wide variety of day and night jobs, from barista to waiter and bartender to security guard, amongst many others. He lives in Illinois with his wife, Becky, and their eccentric cat, Fritz.
Mortal Foe is his debut novel.
Mortal Foe is his debut novel.
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