Today a verse from a revered sportswriter-poet from early in the 20th Century, Ring Lardner.

“My eyes are very misty
As I pen these lines to Christy
Oh, my heart is full of heaviness today.
May the flowers ne’er wither, Matty
On your grave at Cincinnati
Which you’ve chosen for your final fadeaway.”
–Ring Lardner

Some have thought this poem was written as a tribute to a dying Christy Mathewson, but according to John Dickson’s book, “Baseball’s Greatest Quotations,” it was actually about Mathewson’s 1916 trade to Cincinnati, which was then regarded as a graveyard for major league talent.

The back story for Mathewson is much better…read here for the story of the 1900 trading of Mathewson to the Giants. With all due respect to the infamous 1965 dealing of Frank Robinson to the Orioles, the Mathewson deal was the worst Reds trade of all time. Many question the integrity involved in the actual deal, which is ironic, especially considering the (well-deserved) reputation for integrity that has been attached to Mathewson over the years.

As for Mathewson being a “player-manager;” well, he only pitched one game for the Reds, his final career victory. That was a 10-8 complete game victory over fellow future-Hall of Famer, Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown.

4 Responses

  1. Glenn

    I love reading Lardner’s stuff. There hasn’t been a sportswriter like him in at least 50 years.

  2. Baseball_Minutia

    IIRC Matty’s last game was a planned event akin to the playing of Stephan Larkin and Pete Rose Jr. end of the year, two former greats… ticket magic. I love the fact that the Reds traded their crummy manager for 3 guys that are in the HOF, talk about a knowledge transfer.

  3. Glenn

    Its also interesting that even at the turn of the 20th century, the thought was if you weren’t playing in New York you weren’t squat. Maybe sportswriters never do change.