Ring Lardner Sports Media Awards Tue: Lardner influenced Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald

Ring Lardner Sports Media Awards Tue: Lardner influenced Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald

Ring Lardner (1885-1933) was a legendary American figure in two of my favorite fields: satire and sports-writing. He was great both at telling a sports-related story, and doing it in a snarky way.

The Ring Lardner Awards for Excellence in Sports Journalism will be held Tuesday, April 30, 2013, at the Union League Club of Chicago. Cocktails at 5:30 PM, dinner at 6:30, and the awards to follow. The honorees this year are Broadcast: ABC 7 WLS TV Mark Giangreco; Print: Sports Illustrated/NPR/HBO Real Sports' Frank Deford; and Posthumous: Chicago Bulls and Fighting Illini icon Johnny “Red” Kerr.

Proceeds raised at this event will benefit the Union League Boys & Girls Clubs. This year Frank Deford’s award is being presented by Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times while Mark Giangreco will receive his award from Bob Vorwald, Producer of WGN Sports.

Tickets are $150; tables are $1,200 for 10 seats. There is a discounted price of $100 for current ULBGC supporters

To register, please email k.ramos@ulbgc.org

Much like his close friend F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ring Lardner was born to very wealthy parents in the Midwest. Lardner was close to many famous writers of the “Jazz Age” (that is Scott’s phrase, kind of like “STEAKS AND CAKES” is mine). Ring Lardner was published by Maxwell Perkins, the literary legend who also served as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s editor.

Ring Lardner also influenced Ernest Hemingway, who wrote articles for his high school newspaper in Oak Park under the pseudonym Ring Lardner, Jr. The two met in 1928 thanks to Perkins.

When Lardner returned to the Chicago Tribune in 1913, a singular event changed his career.

Writer Sarah Bembrey:

“In 1919 something happened that changed his way of reporting about sports and changed his love for baseball.

This was the Black Sox scandal when the Chicago White Sox sold out the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. Ring was exceptionally close to the White Sox and felt betrayed by the team. After the scandal, Ring always wrote about sports as if there were some kink to the outcome.”

For my generation, or for at least myself, Ring Lardner is best remembered for the 1988 movie about the Black Sox scandal, Eight Men Out. Writer-director John Sayles (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Lardner) portrayed Lardner as someone who realized the fix was in from the beginning. In one scene, Sayles waltzes through the White Sox train car, singing a parody of the song “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”, changed to “I’m Forever Throwing Ballgames.”

The movie was great but the book was even better!

Sayles also delivers a phenomenal Ring Lardner line very early in the film: “Sportswriters of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your bar privileges”

Eight Men Out is a movie with a lot of my favorite things: big money, big business, chicanery, ballyhoo, White Sox baseball and people being arrogant and condescending. (Boxer/gambler Abe Attel greets two fellow conspirators at the racetrack with: "hey, they don't take nickel bets here gentlemen." LOL!!!)

When you see the latest Hollywood rendition of The Great Gatsby in theaters next week, remember that the Meyer Wolfsheim character is a very thinly veiled Arnold Rothstein; the man who fixed the 1919 World Series.

Old sport!

Also, the tragic character Abe North in Fitzgerald’s last completed novel, Tender Is the Night, is supposedly modeled after Ring Lardner.

Something else I immediately associate with Ring Larnder is the Twitter avatar (pictured above) of the Chicago Tribune Sports account. It’s a great account and a must-follow. Though I am very close to de-following it for good. Why? Whoever runs that account is not following me back.

Despite the fact that a lot of my work on this very website often gets linked on Chicago Tribune.com. So it’s right there on the exact same site that the account promotes.

So wake up, get with the program, and follow me back.

Finally, wouldn’t it have been awesome if they had Twitter back in Lardner’s day? Imagine Ring Lardner tweeting from the White Sox press box:

@RingLardner “Cicotte is triumphant with his shine ball. Huzzah for the victorious Chicago nine #Base Ball let's retreat to thy gin mill!”

@RingLardner “Cracker Schalk, Chick Gandil, Hap Felsch, Dickie Kerr Swede Risberg, and Pants Rowland were superlative vs. the #StLouisBrowns #WhiteSox #OnTheTrolley"

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net. He’s also an author who also contributes regularly to MSN, Fox Sports , Chicago Now, Walter Football.com and Yardbarker

Banks has appeared on Comcast SportsNet and the History Channel, as well as Clear Channel, ESPN and CBS radio all over the world. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@PaulMBanks)

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