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Kenneth S. Davis, the greatest historian from your state (before you, anyway), wrote a brief chronicle of Kansas for the bicentennial. Do you intend to refer to it? (I have a copy you may use, from when I researched my family's years in Mitchell and Jewell Counties in the 1870s & '80s), Thanks and good luck.
Asked by: garywmaloney

Answered: 11/16/2017
 I haven't seen it.  I don't think it is a best practice of historians to rely on the work of previous historians.   In writing the history of anything you are picking and choosing what YOU think is important.   YOUR history of the state where you live should not rely on what other historians think is important; it should rely on what YOU think is important.   There is a vast array of things to choose from.   Some historians think Politics is everything, and would never mention sports or artists.   I mean. . . I'd look at it, but in general I would be surprised if there is a lot of overlap between what he thinks defines our history and what I think defines our history.  

 

I posted an update to the loser score in the reader posts section.  The last update (2014) in the stats depository had 3 of the 5 biggest losers as the Astros, Cubs, and Royals.  All 3 erased their score with World Series wins.  I wonder if anything similar to that has happened before.
Asked by: 3for3

Answered: 11/16/2017
 Thanks.   I don't know, but I'll try to go read the article. 

 

Concerning time line adjustments for comparing players of different eras, what exactly should we try to adjust for? I would think modern nutrition, health care, coaching methods etc. would be irrelevant, since if we imagine Honus Wagner coming back today, we're also imagining him coming back with those same advantages. What I would think we should adjust for is the fact that modern baseball does a much better job of concentrating the best players in the majors than in Wagner's day--through racial integration, farm systems, better scouting, and the addition of international stars. Is that about right?
Asked by: Rich Dunstan

Answered: 11/16/2017
 That is right as far as it goes, yes.   I doesn't resolve all of the issues, but I would agree with that.   

 

Hey Bill -  
 
With the passing of Roy Halladay, would you mind opining a little (just off the cuff - not asking for a detailed statistical analysis), putting his career in historical perspective?  It would seem that his peak value was as high as any of his contemporaries (in the 2000 decade).  Maybe he would be considered in a group of pitchers that were the best in the league, but not an all time great?  Perhaps I'm underselling him.  Just curious.  He sure pitched a lot of complete games - he'd have enjoyed the deadball era...
Asked by: McReds

Answered: 11/16/2017
 I'm not sure exactly what you were asking, but in this year's Handbook, which went to the publisher several weeks before his plane crash, I expressed the opinion that he was over the Hall of Fame line, and that I expected him to be elected fairly easily.   I think he was the #1 pitcher in baseball between the injury to Santana and the emergence of Verlander in 2011, and that there were periods before and after those barriers when he was on the same level as anyone.  

 

Hey Bill,  
If a player has an injury that the team feels is hurting his performance, can the team put the player on the DL, even if the player wants to try to play through the pain and the doctors say he is healthy enough to get out on the field?  
 
Say a player suffers a hand injury but not a severe one-- no broken bones or torn ligaments. He misses a game or two, then the doctors say he is healthy enough to play, and he wants to play. But after a few games, the team believes that the injury is hurting his performance, that the sore hand that is making his hitting much less effective. They want to put the guy on the 10-day DL to see if he can heal enough to hit better.  
 
Can the team put the player on the DL in that scenario? Would they need both the player to agree, and the doctors?
Asked by: BuchholzSurfer

Answered: 11/16/2017
 My understanding, which comes with no guarantee that I am correct, but my understanding is that the Disabled List does not require any consent from the player.  If the player is hurt, you can place him on the DL over his objections.  
 
The tricky part of that would be that injuries are not always obvious.   Let's say that a player is not running well and you BELIEVE that he has a leg problem, but he doesn't want to go on the DL and insists that he is not injured.   Then you have a problem.   You can't make an injury; you can't put a player on the DL unless he is injured.   So if you're trying to DL a player over his objections, you would have to be able to prove that there is in fact an injury.    But you CAN require a player to get an X-Ray or an MRI, I believe, to resolve the issue.  

 

HeyBill, what do you think might be learned about subtle genetics from the ironman careers of brothers Peyton and Eli Manning? Eli is about to pass Peyton (208) for the number two longest streak of consecutive starts by an NFL QB. Their father Archie was a QB trooper as well on a lousy Saints team. What are the odds that two brothers would show up on a list like that? If these guys looked like Shaq and pass rushers were just bouncing off them, I'd get it, but you wonder if it is nature and tough sinews or some subtle nurture of sensing and slipping away from crushing hits?
Asked by: OldBackstop

Answered: 11/16/2017
 Well. . .I don't see right off the bat why that is nature vs. nurture.   Isn't it a more likely interpretation that the father, Archie Manning, explained to his young sons (Reggie and Jughead) how to minimize injury risk and stressed the importance of that, rather than that he passed along some mystical, not-understood genetic magic?   

 

Bill – Just finished Jason Turbow’s Dynastic, Bombastic, Fantastic: Reggie, Rollie, Catfish, and Charlie Finley's Swingin' A's. Finley’s antics during the first year of arbitration hearings (where he’d say Holtzman owed all his success to Fingers on Monday, and then the next day--in front of the same arbitrator--say Fingers owed all his success to the starters) reminded me of your contention that the worst thing you can ever do in an arbitration hearing is get clever. A broad, perhaps unanswerable question: was major league baseball circa 1973 more like the game today or more like the game played in 1947 (I'll say '47 to eliminate one obvious difference)? I was a very young fan during Oakland's Reggie-Catfish World Series run, so I still think of that game as being on a continuum with what I watch today. Reading the book, though, it often felt like I was reading about some entirely different game.
Asked by: Phil Dellio

Answered: 11/16/2017
 That's a very good question, but probably a question better addressed through research than by an off-the-cuff answer.   

 

Hey Bill-  
 
Loved TMFTT.  Read it in northern Michigan, at my family cabin, and we have a wood pile with an ever present splitting maul leaning up against it.  I was wondering if you thought any of the murders were done with a maul?  Also, I locked ours in the garage because it became too creepy in plain view.  
 
Also, do you think that TMFTT ever actually did a working stint in any of the  communities that he killed in?  Did the logging/mining companies have enough/lose enough employees regularly to have his leaving on the train not become suspicious after the news of the murder?  
 
 
Thanks.
Asked by: dumprun27

Answered: 11/16/2017
 He could have used a Maul.  Did you ever read PD James book, "The Maul and the Pear Tree"?   It's a true crime mystery about a crime that happened about 1805.   Frankly it could be a better book than it is.   Her solution to the mystery is not only unconvincing, it is incomprehensible.  
 
I would be surprised to learn that he actually worked IN any of the communities where he committed a crime.   In much of the country there are little towns scattered around typically 6 to 9 miles away from one another in each direction, so that a farmer could get to market in a half-hour with a horse and buggy.   I would suspect that when he worked in one town he committed his crime in the town that was 6 to 9 miles away.   
 
But your question is an exceptionally good one, and I would say also that I should have addressed this issue directly in the book, and regret that I failed to do so.   As you suggest, there was much more rotation in the workforce at that time than there is now.  You didn't have to show Identification to get a job; you didn't have to fill out forms and supply a social security number and apply to join the union.  There were a lot of businesses, like sawmills and mines and factories, that you could show up on Tuesday, apply for a job, they would tell you to come to work Wednesday morning and they would hand you a three-day paycheck on Friday.  These weren't GOOD jobs, mind you, but there were a lot of them.   People drifted in and out of those jobs, bouncing from one to another.   A guy disappearing from one of those kind of jobs would not have aroused any suspicion in general.  
 
A person LIVING in a community, renting a house; if the family across the street was murdered and he dropped out of sight, that would cause people to ask questions, so I'm pretty sure he was smart enough not to do that.  But just the job. .  ..not so much. 

 

Hey Bill, coincidentally on the heels of your article, The Note, on the handwriting in the Ramsey case, today the Roy Moore campaign said they wanted their handwriting expert to examine the yearbook signature presented by one of his alleged victims. I will guess now that each side's expert in the matter will come to a different conclusion.  
Since they're bringing it up, here's a link to a sizable version of it, and I'd be interested to hear what you think about its consistencies and/or inconsistencies. It appears to me like the 3 "y's" in "say", "Merry" and "Roy" all look similar. What seems odd- if it is all by Moore- is the mention of the date after already saying Merry Christmas, plus the block letters at the end.  
 
Asked by: chuck

Answered: 11/16/2017
 Appreciate your interest, but I'll stay out of it.   

 

I've done another updating of your "Dynasties" accounting system.  The Dodgers began the season at 8 points, and it was obvious by mid-summer that they would win their division and get the necessary 2 points to achieve official Dynasty status, but they blew past that with 100 wins and a pennant, and now have 12.  The Cubs rose to 9 points, and will join the list if they get something done next season.  The current Yankees and Red Sox dynasties are alive at 48 and 12, respectively, off highs of 52 and 14.  The Astros, starting from zero, racked up the maximum 6 points, which is also where the Indians sit.  The Cardinals fell to 20 points off a high of 24, and need to do something positive in 2018 or their impressive run will be over.
Asked by: Jeff

Answered: 11/8/2017
 Thanks.   

 

Bill, I am interested in your Kansas History book.  Is it going to be focused on crime or history in general?  I am a fellow Kansan, my great, great grandparents (both sides) farmed west (and a little south) of Hays in the 1880s.  My maternal ancestral farmstead is still there (my grandfather lived on his farm until a couple years ago in Ness County), but unoccupied.  Anyway, have an interesting family history story involving crime from the 1940s which I have seen some documentation on, if you are interested, but I would have to get the documents or copies of them from my mom's sister.
Asked by: bhalbleib

Answered: 11/8/2017
 Thanks.   That's actually something I hear a lot. . .I mean, a whole lot, that there is this crime story that happened in my family in the 1920s that maybe you could write about.   I did a reading at a library in Kansas City; one lady showed up who was a member of the Pfanschmidt family, story chronicled in The Man From the Train, and another lady seized my hand as I was walking the room and held me to try to talk to me about this unsolved crime that her grandfather was accused of in the 1920s.   It's something that happens very often. 
 
This is one of the reasons that I believe that famous crimes are a much more significant element of our community life than academics like to think.   A crime that touches your life today will linger in the memory of your family for 100 years; it will always be there, and it will shape in part who you become. 
 
There isn't much crime in the book--much baseball, either.   I thought there would be more, in planning out the book, but we just go in different directions.    Got to get to the story of Farmer Weaver. . . that's both crime and baseball.  
 
 

 

In the acknowledgments of TMOTT, you mention that you are working on a book with your wife Susan.  Is that the book on Kansas history, or is there yet another book project in the works that we might eventually get to enjoy?
Asked by: MWeddell

Answered: 11/8/2017
 That's the Kansas History book.   At the moment I am buried in the 1840s.   The history of the Native Americans in the 1840s is so fascinating that I wish I could stop and write a book about that.   But I can't; I have to move on.  

 

Private detectives were a huge deal in the days before there was anything beyond local law enforcement. They worked not only as investigators but very much as law enforcement, including enforcing the wills of the powerful, such as the large cattle ranchers in Wyoming, where "range detective" meant something closer to "mob enforcer" than it did "private eye."  
 
You probably know this already, but Dashiell Hammett worked as a Pinkerton detective between the World Wars. His Continental Op stories are often based loosely on things he did or had knowledge of.
Asked by: DanaKing

Answered: 11/8/2017
 Thanks. 

 

Hey Bill......Would you compare the Yankees firing of Yogi Berra after they won the pennant in 1964 to this season's firing of Joe Girardi.  
Asked by: MikeLope19

Answered: 11/8/2017
 Actually, I already have. 

 

I don't have a dog.  Did the Man from the Train avoid houses with cats?  
Asked by: shthar

Answered: 11/8/2017
 People in 1912 were too sophisticated to allow cats to live in the house with them. 

 

 
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