Book Notes #2: Lawrence Ritter

Somehow we missed his obituary last month, but we can’t let the death of Lawrence Ritter go unremarked in this space. Ritter, of course, authored The Glory of Their Times, the wonderful oral history that brought the game’s deadball era to life through the words of the men that played it. Ritter collected the book’s stories in the early 1960s, travelling 75,000 miles with his tape recorder to interview bygone stars with names like Specs, Chief, Lefty, Goose, and Rube (two of them). If there’s a better book about baseball, I’ve yet to read it. The enterprise was inspired by Ritter’s desire to capture the voices of these men before they passed forever into obscurity (Ty Cobb’s death in 1961 had sparked the project). But it undeniably turned into something greater. As Ritter wrote in the introduction to the first edition, "It is about man’s hopes, his struggles, his triumphs, and his failures. It is about trying to obtain the unobtainable—and sometimes making it." Lawrence Ritter made it.

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