Crystal Lake, IL (PRWEB) September 05, 2014
Every year as the baseball season winds down, sports writers and analysts call attention to one of baseball’s most important dates— September 23, 1908, the anniversary of the famous Merkle game. For many, Fred Merkle remains today’s greatest sports scapegoat over 100 years after the incident that led to his moniker “Bonehead.” Sports reporter, author, and baseball aficionado, Mike Cameron, stands ready to defend Fred Merkle as he did in his book Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball’s Fred Merkle (2010). And this year is likely to be a great year to revisit the Merkle incident.
Today’s social and multi-media consumers will be tuning in this month to the start of a new blockbuster Ken Burns documentary, “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.” The seven-part series begins on September 14. The Burns documentary will be one of the biggest media events this year. And the muckraking mindset of the press of the Progressive Era during the Teddy Roosevelt Presidency goes a long way to explain the Merke incident.*
In 1908, Teddy Roosevelt wasn’t the only American whose photograph was plastered all over newspapers, but it must have seemed that way at times. War hero, cowboy, reformer, adventurer, politician, and author—there was little Roosevelt did that was not newsworthy! But he did have competition for the press.
As Cameron points out in Public Bonehead, Private Hero, Baseball was a major topic in the pre-radio, pre-television era and stories of the Pennant races were hugely covered while Ford was crafting his Model T’s and the Wright brothers were helping to advance flight. Newspapers fought ferociously for the public’s attention and there were plenty of them at the time. And in 1908, a young New York Giant, Fred Merkle, received a great deal of press coverage.
While Teddy Roosevelt approached the end of his Presidency, the Merkle game took place in New York at the Polo Grounds amidst an army of fans in black bowler hats who filled the stands and surrounded the field. A young New York Giant, Fred Merkle, walked off the base path after the apparent end of a hotly contested Cubs-Giants game in the midst of a Pennant race. He was ruled out on a rarely enforced technicality. The Giants cried foul, but the press focused its muckraking venom on the unfortunate Fred Merkle and christened him “Bonehead.” The ridicule was especially merciless and calls to mind today’s social media bullying. Yet, writers continue to use Merkle’s story as a metaphor for poor play.
Media outlets looking to cover the Merkle anniversary will contact Mike Cameron who wrote the book on Merkle: Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball’s Fred Merkle, published by Sporting Chance Press. According to Cameron:
“I researched the compelling baseball topic of Fred Merkle for six years. I contacted other authors, the good folks at Cooperstown and Merkle’s family---which put aside old wounds and graciously opened up to me. The project became an obsession as I came to admire Merkle in many ways and became increasingly convinced that he got the rawest of deals. The result was the first-ever comprehensive biography of the man, and an unabashed defense of his actions concerning the fateful play. My book was included among Ron Kaplan’s “501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read Before They Die.” I am a consummate baseball addict, and love to discuss any and all topics about the greatest game on earth. But the story of Fred Merkle stirs me the most. He’s the most wrongly maligned sports scapegoat of all, yet he persevered and would not quit baseball or life. Fred Merkle is integral to the most famous and controversial play in baseball’s history. His rightful legacy is inspirational role model---the direct opposite of the pervasive “Bonehead” portrayal. Get to know the real Fred Merkle.”
Public Bonehead, Private Hero sets the historical stage for the Merkle game and covers the event itself with great skill. The book goes on to reveal how baseball fans and the press never tired of recounting the bonehead episode and seeing Merkle relive the ignominy. Author Mike Cameron discloses that the cartoon character that was Fred Merkle in the public eye was the opposite of the sensitive, intelligent man who went on with his life and career with courage and determination.
Note: Mike Cameron, who lives outside Chicago, can be reached for interviews at mcameron14(at)comcast.net or 847-502-2244. For more on Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball’s Fred Merkle, go to sportingchancepress.com. The publisher can be reached at lmj.norris(at)gmail.com . The book is available on Amazon.
*Sporting Chance Press, Mike Cameron, and Public Bonehead, Private Hero are not affiliated with Ken Burns and “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.”