As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been gathering up odds and ends of nonfiction, with a book or two in mind. I came across a foreword I’d written for East Side, West Side, Lawrence S. Ritter’s nostalgic survey of New York sporting life from 1910 to 1960. My piece emerged largely as a recollection of my father, in the context of the book’s theme, and I’ll have no trouble finding a place for it in the collection.
I recalled that Ritter’s invitation to supply a foreword had come out of the blue, perhaps through our sharing a publisher in HarperCollins. Along with the invitation and the text of East Side, West Side, I received a copy of Lost Ballparks, a beautiful volume that brought me memories of Offermann Stadium, where I’d watched the Buffalo Bisons—and, incidentally, where I got an advance look at Jackie Robinson when he was playing for the Montreal Royals.
That put me in the mood to write the foreword, but before I did I got hold of Ritter’s The Glory of Their Times, perhaps the best baseball book ever written, and read it cover to cover. I sent off my foreword, and Ritter responded by inviting me to lunch. His company was as good in person as on the page, and there’d have been more lunches but we were both frequently out of town. When the book came out, Total Sports Publishing ballyhooed the event with a luncheon at Gallagher’s Steak House, the ideal venue for it, and no end of sports figures showed up. My sole memory of the event is that I got to sit next to Willis Reed.
Larry’s health wasn’t good, and while we exchanged a few emails I don’t believe we ever met up again, and then in February of 2004 he died. I established as much at Wikipedia, where I found a link to George Vecsey’s touching obituary, newly pertinent with A-Rod again a focus of controversy.
But what I didn’t find on Ritter’s Wikipedia page was a listing for East Side, West Side. His other books were present, even including Principles of Money, Banking, and Financial Markets. (Ritter was an economics professor, and the book’s still in print; check out the bargain price!) But East Side, West Side was not to be found.
So I enrolled as a Wikipedia editor and added it to the list. And wound up with the great satisfaction of having contributed to the body of knowledge, along with something to blog about.