Episode 8: Futbol Americano


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Jonathan Tinajero

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Jonathan Tinajero was excited. He’d been scrolling through Facebook when he discovered a professional football league in Mexico. A native of East Los Angeles, Tinajero had dreamed of playing in the NFL, but his football career had fizzled in college. This looked like a fresh opportunity.

His father laughed at him. The LFA? La Liga de Futbol Americano Profesional? That’s a soccer league, son.

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Dad was wrong. The LFA is hoping to capitalize on the NFL’s popularity in Mexico, and soon Tinajero, a defensive back and wide receiver, was in Mexico City, playing for the Mayas, chasing those dreams again, and learning that the LFA is not exactly the NFL. Juan Reyes reports.

Juan ReyesJuan Reyes is a sportswriter for the Santa Cruz (California) Sentinel. He reported this story from Mexico City. For a gallery of photos of Tinajero and his Mayas teammates, click here. All photos are by Juan Reyes and Montse Lopez Flores.

Paulie Soda

The episode opens with our first story of losing from a listener. Jim Morfino called in with a memory from his childhood in the Bronx. Morfino, 74, lived across the street from Fat Nick’s candy store, which was really a bookmaking operation. “I don’t think there was a legitimate candy store in all the Bronx,” Morfino says.

Paulie Soda drove the soda truck, and was one of many Damon Runyon-type characters hanging out around the candy store, where Jim and his friends hung out after school. “Paulie was a loser,” Morfino says. A big problem for Paulie was that he hated the Yankees, so he bet against them all the time. A bigger problem: It was 1953, and the Yankees were on their way to winning their fifth straight World Series.

One day, though, Paulie let Jackie Pads talk him into betting on the Yankees. Just this once.

If you’ve got a story about losing in your life, call us up at 510-646-1082 and tell it to us. We’ll give you $50 if we use it.

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Johnny Rawls

Johnny RawlsIf you’ve been listening to Can’t Win 4 Losing, you’ve heard our closing theme song, “Can’t Win For Losing” by Johnny Rawls.  Now you can hear the story behind the song, as well as the story of how it became our theme. The Mississippi bluesman sat down for an interview before a gig in Fremont, California, earlier this year.

Music

Opening Theme: “Big Swing Band” by Audionautix. (CC by 3.0)
Closing Theme: “Can’t Win For Losing” by Johnny Rawls, courtesy of Deep South Soul Records. Visit Johnny Rawls’ website and Facebook page.

His latest album is called Waiting For the Train.

Other Songs Used

“Sing Swing Bada Bing” by Doug Maxwell
“The Duel” courtesy of Bensound.com
“Hold My Hand (Ambient Mix)” by Ars Sonor
Music by Chris Banks
Used with permission or via Creative Commons licenses.

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Bonus Episode: The St. Louis Browns


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Satchel Paige
Satchel Paige at the 1952 All-Star Game with, from left, Mickey Mantle and Allie Reynolds of the Yankees and Dom DiMaggio of the Red Sox.

We go deeper into the second of this week’s two stories, about the St. Louis Browns, baseball’s forgotten team.

The Browns check off two boxes for Can’t Win 4 Losing: They lost a lot in their hapless half-century of existence and then their city lost them. Maybe three boxes, as they’ve largely been lost to history. If you’re wondering what happened to them, they moved east and became the Baltimore Orioles in 1954.

This bonus episode includes three longer interviews with men whose voices you heard in Episode 5. We lined them up alphabetically by age.

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Ed Mickelson is one of 14 living ex-Browns. He had a cup of coffee with them at the end of their last season, 1953. He only got into seven games, but he managed to drive in the last run the team ever scored. It was in a 2-1 loss to the White Sox at Sportsman’s Park. “We went out in Brownie style,” he says. “We lost our 100th game.” Mickelson played 11 years in pro ball, including brief stints with the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs as well as his time with the Browns. He’s 91, retired from a career as a baseball and football coach and counselor at St. Louis-area high schools.

In the interview, which like the others is lightly edited for length, listen as Mick sends it into extra innings. I thanked him for his time, and he said he had more things he wanted to say. That’s when he told a couple of Satchel Paige stories.

Ed Mickelson Cartoon

Burton Boxerman is an author or co-author — with his wife, Benita Boxerman — of several books about baseball history, including Jews and BaseballVolume 1 and Volume 2; and Ebbets to Veeck to Busch: Eight Owners Who Shaped Baseball. We talked about his childhood in St. Louis, when for some reason he chose to root for the Browns, not the Cardinals. He was 20 when they moved to Baltimore, and it took him about 10 years before he settled on a new team to root for: The Cubs. He wanted a team that could find as many creative ways to lose as the Browns had.

Emmett McAuliffe is a board member of the St. Louis Browns Historical Society and a leader in keeping the team’s legacy alive, despite being born several years after they left town. He’s an intellectual property lawyer in St. Louis, and his office is filled with Browns memorabilia. (Gallery)

Music

Opening and Closing Theme: “Can’t Win For Losing” by Johnny Rawls, courtesy of Deep South Soul Records. Visit Johnny Rawls’ website and Facebook page.

His latest album is called Waiting For the Train.

Other Song Used

“The Messenger” by Silent Partner (Creative Commons)

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Episode 5: Breaking Up — San Diego’s Life After the Chargers


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Johnny Bolt Pride

One of the most painful types of losing in sports is when a city loses its team. San Diego Chargers fans were heartbroken and angry when their team moved up the freeway to Los Angeles this year. They burned jerseys and threw eggs at the team headquarters.

But not all of them. “Not having the NFL be in your city is a win,” said writer and sports commentator Dallas McLaughlin. “There’s no way it’s not.” With the Chargers struggling to convince an indifferent L.A. to pay attention to them, Maya Kroth reports from San Diego now that the Bolts have bolted.

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Read a transcript.

Plus: The St. Louis Browns check off two boxes for this show. Their city lost them when they left town and became the Baltimore Orioles after the 1953 season, and in their half-century in the Lou, they were consistent losers.

You’d have to be at least 70 or so to even remember the Browns existing. But there’s still a St. Louis Browns fan club, and the guy who runs it, Emmett McAuliffe, isn’t even 60. Host King Kaufman talks to him about the appeal of a team he never saw — at least not before the Orioles wore throwback Browns uniforms during a road series against the Cardinals in 2003.

Also, author Burton Boxerman talks about growing up as a Browns fan, and how, once they left, he had to find a new team to root for and he picked the Chicago Cubs, because their relentless losing reminded him of his beloved Brownies.

And Ed Mickelson, 91 years old and one of 14 living former Browns, talks about his brief but memorable time at Sportsman’s Park. He wasn’t a Brown for long, but he did drive in the last run in the team’s history. It was the only run they scored that day as they went down to their final defeat.

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People in the episode

Chargers

Maya Kroth is a freelance print and audio reporter based in Mexico City. She’s available now for reporting on the aftermath of the Mexico City earthquake. You can find her work at mayakroth.com. Editors seeking coverage should contact her via Facebook messenger.

Dallas McLaughlin is a writer and performer in San Diego. His debut standup album is called An Evening of This!

Matthew T. Hall (referred to as Matt Hall in the story) is the editorial and opinion director at the San Diego Union-Tribune.

John Abundez, pictured above, is a lifelong Chargers fan better known as Johnny Bolt Pride. He says he has never worn a jersey with an owner’s name on the back. He roots for his team, and remains a Chargers fan even though they’ve moved to Los Angeles.

C-Siccness is a San Diego hip-hop artist whose song “Save Our Bolts” was used in this episode with permission.

Maya Kroth
Kroth
Dallas McLaughlin
McLaughlin
Matthew T. Hall
Hall
C-Siccness
C-Siccness

 

 

 

 

Browns

Emmett McAuliffeEmmett McAuliffe is an intellectual property lawyer in St. Louis and a member of the board of the St. Louis Browns Historical Society. His law office is filled with Browns memorabilia. Click his photo for a gallery.

 

Burton BoxermanBurton Boxerman is the author, with his wife, Benita Boxerman, of many books about baseball history and other subjects, including Jews and Baseball, Volume 1 and Volume 2; and Ebbets to Veeck to Busch: Eight Owners Who Shaped BaseballThey are working on a biography of Bill DeWitt Sr., who was a Browns executive and owner, and the father of the current Cardinals owner, Bill DeWitt Jr.

Ed Mickelson is one of 14 living former St. Louis Browns. He was a first baseman who spent the last few weeks of the 1953 season with the Browns, driving in the last run in team history during a 2-1, 11-inning loss to the Chicago White Sox on Sept. 27, 1953. Mickelson, 91, had a solid, 11-year career in the minor leagues and played briefly in the big leagues for the Cardinals and the Cubs in addition to his stint with the Browns.

After retiring from baseball, Mickelson was a football and baseball coach and a counselor in St. Louis-area high schools, retiring in 1993. His 2007 memoir, Out of the Park: Memoir of a Minor League Baseball All-Star, is notable for its honesty about his post-career depression. This photo from a Browns Reunion Luncheon on Sept. 26, 2017, shows Mickelson, left, talking to his friend and the most famous living ex-Brown, Don Larsen.

Ed Mickelson and Don Larson
Photo courtesy of Julie Mickelson Drew.

Music

Opening Theme: “Big Swing Band” by Audionautix. (CC by 3.0)
Closing Theme: “Can’t Win For Losing” by Johnny Rawls, courtesy of Deep South Soul Records. Visit Johnny Rawls’ website and Facebook page.

His latest album is called Waiting For the Train.

Other Songs Used

“Movie Piano Theme” by EK Velika
“St. Louis Tickle” by Heftone Banjo Orchestra
“Hot Swing” and “Gaslamp Funworks” by Kevin McLeod
Used under the CC BY 3.0 Creative Commons license.

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Episode 4: At Long Last – The Cavaliers, the Warriors and the Cubs


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If you’re enjoying Can’t Win 4 Losing, please take a moment to rate and review the show at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. Thank you!

LeBron James
LeBron James (Photo: Keith Allison/CC BY-SA 2.0)

You spend a lifetime as the long-suffering fan of a losing team. It shapes who you are. And then: They win it all! Authors Scott Raab (The Whore of Akron, You’re Welcome Cleveland) on the Cleveland Cavaliers and Barry Gifford (The Neighborhood of Baseball, Wild at Heart) on the Chicago Cubs. Plus: Host King Kaufman visits yet another championship parade for his once-hapless Golden State Warriors.

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Read a transcript. (Coming shortly)

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Scott Raab
Scott Raab
Barry Gifford
Barry Gifford, 2006

I interviewed Barry Gifford at his writing studio in Berkeley, Calif., the in-law apartment of a house he owns there, and Scott Raab in the attic of his house in Glen Ridge, N.J. In both cases, I made the rookie podcaster mistake of forgetting to ask if I could take a photo. I had a quick selfie Raab had texted me so I would recognize him when he picked me up at the train station. I told him I realized that probably wasn’t for public consumption and asked if he wanted to send me a different photo. So he sent me a different quick selfie. The Gifford photo is by Tabercil (Creative Commons CC BY 2.0).

Read and watch more

Warriors Championship Parade

Warriors parade
A vendor at the Golden State Warriors championship parade in Oakland, June 15, 2017. Click for a gallery of photos from the parade.

Music

Opening Theme: “Big Swing Band” by Audionautix. (CC by 3.0)
Closing Theme: “Can’t Win For Losing” by Johnny Rawls, courtesy of Deep South Soul Records. Visit Johnny Rawls’ website and Facebook page.

His latest album is called Waiting For the Train.

Other songs used

Cavaliers
“On My Life” by Letter Box
“Walking the Dog” by Silent Partner
“Bluebird” by E’s Jammy Jams
“Down n’ Dirty” and “Right to Be” by Jingle Punks
Cubs
“Sing Swing Bada Bing” by Doug Maxwell, Media Right Productions
“Bar Crawl” by JR Tundra

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Episode 3: Casey Stengel — How to Learn By Losing


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Casey Stengel
With the Yankees in the ’50s, he had the greatest run in managerial history. But before that, Casey Stengel skippered a series of relentlessly terrible teams. Host King Kaufman asks: Did the Old Perfessor learn to win by losing? Plus: What if the worst player on the worst team in a league met the best player on the best team in that league 40 years later? And what if one of those guys was the host of a podcast about losing?

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Read a transcript.

Casey Stengel
Stengel in 1935, his second year as manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. They finished fifth.
Casey Stengel
Stengel in 1938, his first year as manager of the Boston Bees. They finished fifth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Casey Stengel managed the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1934-36 and the Boston Braves from 1938-43. The Braves were known as the Bees from 1936-40. Stengel’s teams in Boston and Brooklyn went 581-742, a .439 winning percentage, and never finished higher than fifth in the eight-team National League.

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People in the story

Steven GoldmanSteven Goldman is a baseball columnist for FanRag Sports and the author of Forging Genius: The Making of Casey Stengel. He is also the host of The Infinite Inning podcast. He was a pioneer of the blog format with his long-running The Pinstriped Bible, and was the editor and co-writer of the books Mind Game, It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over and Extra Innings: More Baseball Between the Numbers. He was editor in chief of Baseball Prospectus and edited seven editions of the Baseball Prospectus annual.

Marty AppelMarty Appel is a longtime baseball author, publicist and historian and the author of the 2017 biography Casey Stengel: Baseball’s Greatest Character. He was George Steinbrenner’s first public relations director with the Yankees, the youngest person ever to hold that position for a major league team. He’s also led public relations for WPIX in New York and the Atlanta Olympic Committee. His many other books include Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees from Before the Babe to After the Boss and Slide, Kelly, Slide, a biography of Mike “King” Kelly, who was mentioned in Episode 1.

Steve JacobsonSteve Jacobson was a reporter and columnist for Newsday for four decades. He covered Stengel when the Old Perfessor was manager of both the Yankees and the Mets. He’s the author of several books, the most recent of which is All Bets Are Off with Arnie Wexler, about Wexler’s life as a gambler.

2nd story: Extreme Little League

Vince Beringhele
Vince Beringhele.

At 7, I was the worst player on the worst team at North Venice Little League in Los Angeles. I’ve told this story before, including the part about how the funky rules forced me to play as officially one year older than I really was. The dominant player in that league was a kid named Vince Beringhele. When he was 11, coaches around the league were talking about how he’d probably play pro ball someday. We were the extremes of the league.

He did play pro ball. He spent three years in the Dodgers organization before knee injuries ended his career. I decided to try to talk to him. He’s the head baseball coach at Cal State Los Angeles, and I caught up with him as he was getting his team ready for the 2017 conference tournament in Stockton, California. He was a lot less scary than when I was trying to hit against him!

We talked about how in sports, everybody, even the best player in the league, loses eventually.

Music

Opening Theme: “Big Swing Band” by Audionautix. (CC by 3.0)
Closing Theme: “Can’t Win For Losing” by Johnny Rawls, courtesy of Deep South Soul Records. Visit Johnny Rawls’ website and Facebook page.

His latest album is called Waiting For the Train.

Other songs used

“Aces Hight” and “AcidJazz” by Kevin McLeod (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Bonus Episode: There Is Joy in Mudville


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John Thorn and friendGo deeper on this week’s episode, “The Mighty Casey,” with longer interviews and behind-the-scenes stories. Guests are official MLB historian John Thorn and Joanne Hulbert, the town historian of Holliston, Mass. — aka the “real” Mudville.

At right, John Thorn poses in his Catskill, N.Y., house with a figure he calls George Wood, “after the 1880s outfielder.” The figure was a gift from the staff of Total Sports Publishing, a publishing house Thorn ran in the late ’90s and early ’00s. “I suppose I could call him Mini Me.”

In this bonus episode, hear longer versions of host King Kaufman’s interviews with Thorn and Hulbert about “Casey at the Bat.” Also: King reads some poetry! Two highlights from the many parodies and sequels that followed the publication of “Casey at the Bat” in 1888. It’s not so bad, really. And: Learn more about Thorn’s house, and King’s plan for it.

For more on the historical figures in the “Casey at the Bat” story, see the Episode 1 show notes.

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Music

Opening Theme: “Big Swing Band” by Audionautix. (CC by 3.0)
Closing Theme: “Can’t Win For Losing” by Johnny Rawls, courtesy of Deep South Soul Records. Visit Johnny Rawls’ website and Facebook page.

His latest album is called Waiting For the Train.

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Episode 1: The Mighty Casey — Casey at the Bat, striking out for over a century


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Man in Casey at the Bat costume
Tim Wiles of the Baseball Hall of Fame in costume as Casey.

It appeared on Page 4 of the San Francisco Examiner one day in 1888, and yet, somehow, Casey at the Bat survived to become one of the few 19th century American poems most Americans have even heard of. CW4L host King Kaufman goes in search of the story behind the remarkable staying power of a poem about a guy who (spoiler alert) struck out, written by a guy who wanted nothing to do with it after it was published. 

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Read a transcript.

Note: All links to Amazon on this page are affiliate links, meaning we get a fee if you use the link to make a purchase. 

People in the story

John Thorn
Thorn with a pennant from the 19th century Knickerbocker Baseball Club.

John Thorn is the official historian of Major League Baseball. He is also an author, commentator and the proprietor of the Our Game blog, a treasure trove of baseball history and art. His most recent book is Baseball in the Garden of Eden: The Secret History of the Early Game, which goes back way further than you probably think, and has nothing to do with Abner Doubleday. He also co-wrote the seminal sabermetrics book The Hidden Game of Baseball: A Revolutionary Approach to Baseball and its Statistics with Pete Palmer.

Joanne HulbertJoanne Hulbert is an emergency-room nurse and baseball poetry researcher, and the town historian of Holliston, Mass., which, along with Stockton, Calif., lays claim to being the “real” Mudville. Poet Ernest Thayer was from nearby Worcester. She wrote about DeWolf Hopper at The National Pastime Museum.

Hal BushHal Bush is a professor of English at Saint Louis University and a writer of criticism, biography, history and fiction. His most recent book is the novel The Hemingway Files.

The recital of Casey at the Bat is by Neil Rogers.

Historical figures

DeWolf HopperDeWolf Hopper (1858-1935) was a musical-theater star who made Casey at the Bat famous by performing it with members of the New York Giants and Chicago White Stockings in the audience in 1888, causing a sensation. It became his signature piece, and he claimed to have performed it more than 10,000 times. His 1927 autobiography, quoted in the episode, was Once a Clown, Always a Clown. Voice impersonation: Jonathan Luhmann. Hopper’s real voice is also heard.

Ernest ThayerErnest Thayer (1863-1940) was the author of Casey at the Bat. The Marky Mark of poetry, a one-hit wonder. A brilliant student at Harvard and the editor of the Harvard Lampoon, he was invited to San Francisco to write humorous pieces and verse for the Examiner by his classmate, William Randolph Hearst. Casey at the Bat was his last submission. He’d already gone back to Massachusetts to run the family woolen-mill business and wanted little to do with his famous poem. Voice impersonation: Joe Goffeney.

King KellyMike “King” Kelly (1857-1894) was baseball’s first superstar. He played every position but was mostly an outfielder and catcher. He was a batting champion and great base-stealer. Kelly was the subject of “Slide, Kelly, Slide,” the first pop song to become a hit record, and his (ghostwritten) autobiography was the first by a baseball player. He was convinced Casey at the Bat was about him, and he performed it — by most accounts very badly — as Kelly at the Bat. He died suddenly of pneumonia at the age of 36 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1945. He’s shown here in his Boston Beaneaters uniform, possibly in 1888, the year Casey at the Bat was published.

Music

Opening Theme: “Big Swing Band” by Audionautix. (CC by 3.0)
Closing Theme: “Can’t Win For Losing” by Johnny Rawls, courtesy of Deep South Soul Records. Visit Johnny Rawls’ website and Facebook page.

His latest album is called Waiting For the Train.

The old-timey piano music throughout this episode is from old player-piano or pianola rolls. The music at the very beginning is “Old-Fashioned Auto Piano” by Razzvio. Similar music elsewhere is from a medley called “Follies” by Daveincamas. The artists here did the recording and manipulated the pianolas. The actual musicianship happened 100 or more years ago. The sad piano music is “Movie Piano Theme” by EK Velika. All of these songs are from FreeSound.org and are used under the CC BY 3.0 Creative Commons license.

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