SHAD’S TALE: A Fictional Retelling of a True Baseball Disappearance

The following short story was drawn, inked, and colored by Jim Mosley based on my scribbles and script. It originally appeared in Home Brew, a collection of comic book tales published in 2014 and based on St. Louis to mark the city’s 250th birthday. The book can still be purchased here. The entire six-page story has been reprinted here with the blessing of Handsome Jim on what would have been Babe Ruth’s 120th birthday.

Derrick Goold

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Writing Shad’s Tale

Image“SHAD’S TALE” — Page 1

WASHINGTON — As I plunged into Cardinals history for a book several years ago, one of the minor stories that always felt like it had major possibilities was the legend spun by pitcher Flint Rhem. A righty with the Cardinals, Rhem went missing for several days in September 1930 while the team was in New York, set to play a key series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. He returned to the team with this fantastic tale of kidnapping, thugs, and forced binging. It was all fiction, of course. Longtime Post-Dispatch columnist and Cardinals chronicler Bob Broeg wrote that Rhem had all the talent in the world but would drink himself out of the game. He certainly drank himself into this story. Still, it was fertile ground for writing. The gaps in memories are always fun to fill, and here were two days — two whole days — carved out of Cardinals history that were blank. What did Rhem do during his “kidnapping”? What could have Rhem done during his “kidnapping”? Maybe he really was ambushed by thugs and forced to chug grain alcohol for two days. Maybe there was a gambling element, because isn’t there always? Maybe he raced around New York saving cats from trees, apprehending robbers, and doing so much good that no one would believe him anyway. Or, as I thought when the opportunity to came to write this story, maybe he saved baseball.

Many months ago, I was asking at the comic shop about a local St. Louis group, Ink and Drink Comics, and the anthologies they had produced in recent years — sci-fi, romance, horror, wild west. A lapsed cartoonist with a comic sweet tooth, I always wanted to try my hand at writing a comic book story. It would be a Continue reading

“Meet Me in Dyersville”

This entry was written on Father’s Day 2011 at Busch Stadium while the Cardinals played the Kansas City Royals.

ST. LOUIS – My plan was to spend the entire summer of 1994 establishing residency in Missouri and take full advantage of living in a college town without, you know, having to attend those pesky classes that interrupt college.

I spent my mornings teaching swim lessons, my days working as a pool manager (read: lifeguard, but with better pay), and my nights sharing a house with a couple pals from the student newspaper, The Maneater. There wasn’t much sleep that summer, nor much money, but there was always something happening. My parents expected me to leave that for … Ten thousand lakes, the Mall of America, and free-range mosquitoes? They had moved from Colorado to Minnesota, officially, the previous summer and few conversations passed that year without a question about when I planned to drive up to Rochester, Minn., for a visit. I’d blame my work schedule, I’d waffle, I’d ignore their invites. It was their home, not mine. I had no emotional ties to the place, no friends to see when I got there and, selfishly, no reason to go back once I drove away for college.

If I had to visit, I suggested a neutral site. We’d meet at the midpoint.

There was this baseball field, in Iowa, Continue reading

The Promised Pujols Cartoon

JUPITER, Fla. — It was so long ago that I’ve forgotten exactly how it came up, but it happened not to far from here — down Interstate 95 and just south of West Palm Beach, Fla. I grabbed a fistful of white paper from the Xerox machine nearest by desk at The Palm Bach Post. I raided an art supply store for some sketching pencils, a trusty pica pole, an industrial-strength eraser, a Uni-Ball pen, and fine-point detailing pens. I set up a rather low-frills drawing studio at a glass coffee table. And I started drawing.

It might have been the small self portrait I included on my resume, or the line about drawing a twice-weekly cartoon at The Maneater. Regardless, the sports editors at the PB-Post had a challenge and an offer for their eager intern.

There was a spot in the Sunday paper for a cartoon, if I wanted to draw them.

(Scroll down if you’re tired of reading and just want to look at the pretty drawing.) Continue reading

The Wisdom of the Wizard

JUPITER, Fla. — For the first time in 16 years, Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith returned to the fields of Roger Dean Stadium in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform, and it took him less than four hours and all of seven words to capture what keeps so many of us coming back year after year after year to spring training and the game that captivates us.

He took a deep sniff and told a few of us, “It is nice breathing good baseball air.”

(56/366)

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A 5-year-old & the Meaning of Jeter

This entry was originally written in July 2011 as New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter approached his 3,000th career hit, a milestone that the boy wonder, Ian, had become transfixed by the number, why it was such a big deal, and how one player could possible have that many base hits all by himself.

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TOWER GROVE — The difference between 2,999 hits and 3,000 could be the reaction time of one third baseman, the decision of an official scorer, or the deluge that washes out a first-inning single. In the scope of a career, it’s infinitesimal, and yet 3,000 looms so large, so historically significant, so, well, round that the distance between 2,999 and 3,000 is a hundred hits if it’s one.

Ask a 5-year-old.

My son Ian and I were walking to a nearby park this past week with our baseball gloves for a throw. Each glove had a baseball tucked inside because, you know, keeping a pocket formed is something we’re required to pass from generation to generation. From the night I came home from the 2006 World Series reeking of champagne crossfire to a visit to condemned Yankee Stadium to the spring trainings spent away, baseball has always been a presence in my son’s life. Only recently has baseball become an interest. He asks a lot about the players. He offers play-by-play during games. He wants to know what team to root for when Arizona and Minnesota meet in interleague play (don’t we all?). And several times in the past month, he’s stirred in the middle of the night to creep downstairs and watch the late game with me.

One recent night he poked me on the shoulder until I woke up so he could ask, “Daddy, can we go watch the highlights?”

It was 3:15 a.m. Continue reading

An Experiment in Experience Journalism

JUPITER, Fla. — During my senior year at Mizzou, I finally got to take a class I’d been eying since entering the School of Journalism. I don’t recall the number — it was somewhere in the 300s — but I do remember the unofficial title we had for it: our immersion project.

An exercise in long-form journalism, the semester’s assignment was to plant yourself inside a story, wallow in it for more than a month, and then emerge with a deep, penetrating and, in some cases, personal story about the experience. In short, the idea was to immerse yourself in the story. Today, we might call this embedding. Students would work at shelters. They would ride along with a high school team for a season. They’d go through a round of cancer treatments with the family of a patient. I spent my semester entrenched in the Kenny Hulshof campaign for Congress, and by the end I was able to chronicle from behind closed doors how a Republican won Missouri’s ninth district for the first time in more than Continue reading