Saturday, June 15, 2013

Ronald Probstein – Baseball

at 12:30 AM

Baseball From Honest Sid

by Ronald Probstein

My father, Honest Sid, wasn’t much of a student in high school but he was a great ballplayer and at 17 he dropped out of school to play semipro ball around the New York and New Jersey area. He was talked about enough in ball circles that in 1913 he got an offer to go with McGraw’s great NY Giants team to spring training and a tryout in Texas.  At l8 he was heading for the chance of a lifetime and an experience that most boys in America could only dream about. Because of the virulent anti-semitism among baseball players at the time he changed his name to Sid Stone.  My father was a good pitcher but in the end he didn’t make the Giants.  McGraw told him, “I’m sorry, Sid, but I’m letting you out to Dallas. You could use the seasoning and they’re a good club.” (p. 15)”

“The Dallas Giants were in the Class B Texas League, one of more than forty minor leagues in 1913, few of which survived the advent of World War I”(p.15)

While playing with Dallas “’Sid lost heavily betting on ball games. [A common practice for ballplayers at the time.]  It wasn’t long before he got into debt with the loan sharks. One night at a meeting in the bar of the Adolphus Hotel, he was offered a way out of his debt by the sharks. [A choice that was made easy since the alternative would be broken kneecaps and worse.]  Early in the season, in one of his first appearance, he agreed to throw a game, which was always easiest for the pitcher. Word of his “laying down” quickly got back to management. He was not called in for questioning.  There were no formal charges, no lawyers, and no ajudication. Retribution was swift and to the point.” (p.17)

“You son of a bitch! Pack up your bags, get the hell out of here and don’t let me see you near here again.” And with that Joe Gardener, the lanky club president of the Dallas Giants, his elongated long-jawed face twisted with anger, tore up Sid’s contract and threw it on the floor.  Sid Stone turned and walked out of Gardner’s office and a career in professional baseball forever.  Sid Probstein was a long way from home. (p.18)

If you’re going to live outside the law, you’d better be honest. This seeming paradox was the operating principle of Sid Probstein’s life. Guileless and endlessly optimistic, he was known as Honest Sid around his stomping ground of New York’s Broadway. Sid wasn’t a tough guy, or even a bad guy. He just never had the patience for the “straight” life, grinding out a living at some monotonous desk job.

He was the quintessential American dreamer, always sure that the good life was just one big score away, a man who never stopped believing in his own good luck, even when the evidence said otherwise. He had all the tools, he was charming, good-looking, quick-witted and decent, but he had an obsession he couldn’t escape.

Honest Sid is the story of an American archetype as seen through the eyes of his son, Ronald, who loved him, and who almost lost him. It follows Sid’s adventures in the world of bookies and bettors, fighters and fixers, players and suckers set against the often-romanticized backdrop of Depression-era New York. It is also the passionate tale of the great and tempestuous love between Sid and his wife Sally, and of his son Ronald whom he idolized.

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Genre – Biographies & Memoirs

Rating – PG13

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