This Day in Reds History: We Know You Ring

Ring Lardner - Wikimedia.org

Today is the birthday of one of America's greatest sportswriters.

On this day in 1885, Ring Lardner was born in Niles, MI. Lardner was one of baseball's and American sports' all-time great sportswriters. He is best remembered for You Know Me Al, a novel that collected the letters of fictional minor league ballplayer Jack Keefe in Lardner's distinct and humorous style. The book even caught the attention of Virginia Woolf. He also created "Alibi Ike", a ballplayer who continually makes excuses for his mistakes. Lardner spent a good deal of time writing for the Chicago Tribune. After the death of Hugh Keough, Lardner took over the late sportswriter's syndicated "In the Wake of the News" column, which still runs in the Tribune. His coverage of the 1919 World Series for the paper shook his faith in baseball, which may have led him to explore other writing opportunities.

Lardner satirized other aspects of life and dabbled in theater. He had a minor Broadway hit in 1929 with June Moon, which was co-written by George S. Kaufman, who wrote The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers for the Marx Brothers. Lardner also enjoyed a friendship with F. Scott Fitzgerald. All four of Lardner's sons had careers in writing. Ring Jr. was a noted Hollywood screenwriter who won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for 1942's Woman of the Year starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. He was a member of the "Hollywood 10" that refused to answer questions from the House Un-American Activities Committee. Ring Jr. spent one year in jail, and Hollywood studios blacklisted him. He later returned to screenwriting with The Cincinnati Kid and won another Academy Award for M*A*S*H.

The elder Lardner died in East Hampton, NY in 1933 at the age of 48 due to complications from tuberculosis. Ernest Hemingway (a personal favorite of mine) noted Lardner as an influence. The young Hemingway sometimes contributed pieces to his high school newspaper under the pseudonym, "Ring Lardner, Jr.".

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File this one in Cy's drawer of best names in baseball history: On this day in 1888, former major league ballplayer Pembroke Finlayson was born in Cheraw, SC. I can't make up my mind whether Marse Pembroke was the wealthy industrialist or the butler. I'm leaning toward the former.

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On this day in 1924, former Red Bud Podbielan was born in Curlew, WA. Podbielan was a right-handed pitcher who worked as a starter and a reliever for the Reds from 1952 through 1955 and again in 1957.

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On this day in 1933, former Red Ted Abernathy was born in Stanley, NC. Abernathy spent the first half of his career as a middling reliever, but established himself as a bona fide relief ace in his first year with the Reds in 1967. That season, Abernathy threw 106.1 innings of 1.27 ERA (299 ERA+) ball while leading the league in appearances and saves. His performance earned him a few MVP looks, and he finished 20th in the voting. Abernathy had another good year in 1968, but Cincinnati traded him to the Cubs before the 1969 season.

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On this day in 1939, former Red Cookie Rojas was born in La Habana, La Habana, Cuba.

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On this day in 1978, the Reds traded right-hander Jack Billingham to the Tigers for lefty reliever George Cappuzzello and prospect John Valle.

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On this day in 2003, the Reds traded prospects Alan Moye and Damaso Espino to the Royals for relievers Jeff Austin and Brian "Rusty" Shackelford.

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FordhamRam and GrooveLeg each earned a point yesterday.

1) Ted Abernathy's 1967 season was worth a staggering 6.1 bWAR. Who was the last Reds pitcher to accumulate 6 or more bWAR in one season?

2) Bud Podbielan spent the 1956 season with the Reds' minor league affiliate in the PCL. What team was the Reds' affiliate in the PCL from 1956-60 and again from 1973-74? Either the city or nickname will count as the correct answer.

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