Although its content was featured in notable anthologies, Sport Literate has been riding the proverbial pine since May 2005. Thankfully, the publication has returned to the mound and serves up this Chicago-themed issue of creative nonfiction, poetry and photographs.
Writers have always seen poeticism in baseball. Robert Funge’s poem “The Game” posits a credible explanation for this. The young have countless opportunities to compete on the field. As they age, they “play their games on paper now. / It’s a boy’s game, and grown men, / grown literate past games, / can’t put the thrill down.”
Editor-in-Chief William Meiners points out what happens when we don’t give up our athletic ambitions. At forty, he spent a season on the gridiron with a semi-pro football team. Meiners examines the intersection of sports and life to the tune of popping hamstrings. Over the course of the season, he learns the requisite lessons about life and love and the changes we undergo as we age.
Most people know about the Chicago Black Sox scandal. Donald Dewey examines another of the complicated figures of the time, Hal Chase. Indeed, he was one of countless ballplayers who squandered his talent and betrayed the game’s integrity. However, Chase was also a victim of draconian reserve clause restrictions that limited the fair market value of his skills. Dewey’s article is interesting on its own, but also entices the reader to find his full biography of Chase.
In “Getting the Story,” Felicia Schneiderhan recounts the challenge she faced as a female fiction writer assigned to interview Chicago White Sox players for a piece of journalism. Entertainingly, the players face just as much of a challenge in fielding questions that require an answer beyond the standard athlete boilerplate.
Sports have always served the same function as good storytelling. Sport Literate takes advantage of this, providing the reader with glimpses of unexpected facets of the (literal and figurative) diamond.