Thursday, August 25, 2011

Schools, Libraries and Service Clubs Should Celebrate Merkle Day to Fight Bullying


Sporting Chance Press author and journalist Mike Cameron is busy every year as we approach Fred Merkle Day, September 23rd. Cameron has done much to redeem Merkle's reputation. Today, the Merkle story is even more poignant as it provides proof of how bullying can greatly injure the innocent and their families. In Merkle's case, bullying took the form of scapegoating (often sports bullying does)and also hurt the smartest and strongest of athletes. Merkle's story needs to be advanced in schools because it makes the following points:

1. Innocent people are hurt by bullying.
2. Even strong and intelligent people can get hurt.
3. The effects of bullying can last a lifetime.
4. Bullying can hurt more than the person being bullied.
5. Bullying is cowardly and totally unfair.

Sporting Chance Press's Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle tells the complete story of the number one sports scapegoat of all time, Fred Merkle. On September 23, 1908, 19-year old Fred Merkle was the youngest player on the New York Giants--slotted into the lineup at first base to replace a wounded veteran. The pressure was on when Merkle came up to bat in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied 1—1. With two outs and Moose McCormick on first, the youngster rifled a single to right field easily advancing the slow-footed Moose McCormick to third. Shortstop slugger Al Bridwell, up next, whacked a low liner that knocked the second base umpire down on its way to shallow center field. As McCormick crossed the plate with the “winning run,” Merkle turned from the base path and raced towards the clubhouse. Modern fans know that even if a team scores on such a play, the runner should advance to the next base and tag it to avoid a force-out. The score is nullified on the force out. Unfortunately for Fred Merkle, in 1908 this rule had not enforced when the winning hit traveled to the outfield. September 23 however, was different.

The fallout from that game was a complete and unceasing character assassination on the part of the press. It didn't take Facebook or other Internet tools to unfairly vilify Fred Merkle. It was done by professional newspaper men and then by fans. Merkle was Christened "bonehead" and no one let him or his family forget it. When Merkle died almost 50 years after the "play," his obituary referred back to it. Now over 100 years later, there is hardly a week that goes by without someone unfairly pointing to Merkle as one of the biggest screw-ups in sports--they still don't understand the context of the game and the ruling that was made that day.

Mike Cameron has a presentation that covers Merkle's life and historic 1908. It's a wonderful historic program that is a great for libraries, schools and clubs. If you are looking for a program that is historically rich and timely, this is it. If interested, please contact lmj.norris@gmail.com .

More on Public Bonehead, Private Hero.