Thursday, July 3, 2008

The First Canadian Writer To Hit Thirty Home Runs In A Season

Last Friday my grandfather took me to the Blue Jays game. He's had season tickets since the team's inception in 1975, and my cousins and I usually go with him to a few games every year. (I have six cousins, so that's around twenty-one games. He only has two tickets, and he only keeps Friday games. So, between us, we see every Friday home game of the season.)

We drive to the games--down Bathurst, Spadina, west on Queen Street, then down Davenport to Bathurst, and winding up on Front Street. He's seventy-four, but I still let him drive. It's this eros vs. thanatos thing that I'm working on. Usually we spend the time gossiping about my cousins. One just got engaged to his long-time girlfriend, and the two are ready to settle down and buy a house. So I'll say something like, "She's not the kind of girl who ages well." And my grandfather will laugh and nod.

He's been married to my grandmother for fifty-two years, so every minute away from her is like some wonderful vacation.

The man was born in Canada, but both of his parents were immigrants from Poland. I'm not sure that he's ever read a book in his life. A few months ago I showed him a book of Tom Thomson prints. "I don't get it," he said.

So we were talking about my cousins, and the conversation segued into baseball trivia. Who was the first Blue Jays pitcher to lose a game? Dave Lemanczyk, who lost on April 8, 1977. Which future Blue Jay was the final out in the 1992 World Series? Otis Nixon, an Expo from 1988 to 1990, and a Jay from 1996 to 1997. Who hit the first home run in the SkyDome? Fred McGriff.

He was getting all the answers; it wasn't even a challenge. So I decided to change the category. Just a little.

"Who was the first Canadian writer to strike out two hundred times in a season?"

"What? Writer..."

"Robert Stead in 1956. But he had such an awful haircut...A bowl they put over his head."

"Who'd he play for?"

"Saskatoon Huskies. of the CPLW."

"CPL?"

"Canadian Prairie League of Wheat-growers."

"I've never heard of..."

"Who was the first Canadian writer to win twenty games in a season. Here's a hint, he used to wear a blue sweater."

"Farley Mowat--"

"Nope. David Bergen."

"Bergen? The guy who painted Murphy Brown's house?"

"No. He wrote A Year of Lesser. That fun little book...Lots of laughs...Laugh till you cry?"

"I didn't laugh."

"Well, he's new. Try this: Who was on deck when Mavis Gallant popped out in the ninth with two men on in game three of the ALDS?"

"That's easy: Orlando Merced."

"Not even close. D.G. Jones."

"I've never even heard of any of these guys."

"Well, they never really made it."

"Give me another one."

"Okay. Who led the league in doubles in 1986?"

"You got me."

"Mordecai Richler. Seven hundred eighty-five double Chivases in 1986. All on his tab."

"But he didn't drink that blended stuff."

"Are you kidding? He kept one Lagavulin bottle his entire life, and just kept filling it with J&B."

"These are good questions. I'm enjoying this."

"One more. Who had the most caught stealings in 1991?"

"Caught stealings? Let me see. Who ran a lot..."

"Atwood. Seven. But she only had to pay a fine."

1 comment:

Kathleen Molloy said...

Hi David, looking for help here. I posted the following message on my blog:

www.kathleenmolloy.offo.ca

asking why Prairie authors so frequently write about farm folks being unkind to each other.

Kathleen Molloy, author - Dining with Death
www.diningwithdeath.ca
www.lamortaumenu.ca

----------
The October - November 2008 edition of Walrus features and excerpt from Patrick Lane’s novel Red Dog, Red Dog. Farm life, lonely isolated Prairie farm life, neglected farm woman hot for the first man who happens past the fence, and men folk doing unkind things to their daughters…did I read this story before?

Let’s take nothing away from Lane; the excerpt is superb.

What bothers me is that this seems to be another story about Prairies dwellers being unkind to each other. In Red Dog, Red Dog we learn that a father has repeatedly tied his daughter from a barn beam to write his name on her back with his strap.

Given that Walrus readers were only treated to a mini excerpt of the novel, I would like to believe that acts of kindness do run through Lane’s story. But at the same time, I would be surprised if there were so many acts of kindness that the reader would trip over them.

PrairieLit often leaves me profoundly sad. And Prairie writers keep pumping out these melancholy tales. Why is that?
Let’s ask David Adler.

He teaches a CanLit-Prairie focused course at a Canadian University based in Toronto – he is a real sucker for Prairie authors.

So David, what’s the deal with those Canadian Prairie authors who intentionally tie my heartstrings in knots?

 
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