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Like many authors, Harry Turtledove references the broad effect sports and athletes have (or have had) on society. Sometimes, these references can give a reader insight into how a particular timeline differs from OTL. Other times, they are more incidental and designed to invoke a specific era or culture. What follows is a list of such references which can be found in Turtledove's body of work, organized by athlete.
Note: As many homages are subtle, they can easily escape the notice of any given reader. Therefore we strongly encourage anyone who has found, or believes he has found, an homage not already on this list, or by an author not represented, to add it.
Adrian Constantine "Cap" Anson (April 17, 1852 – April 14, 1922) was a Major League Baseball (MLB) first baseman. Including his time in the National Association (NA), he played a record 27 consecutive seasons. Anson was regarded as one of the greatest players of his era and one of the first superstars of the game. Anson spent most of his career with the Chicago Cubs, serving as the club's manager, first baseman and, later in his tenure, minority owner. He led the team to five National League pennants in the 1880s. Anson was one of baseball's first great hitters, and the first to tally over 3,000 career hits. Anson was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.
Henry Jackson Jr (December 12, 1912 - October 22, 1988) was an American professional boxer who fought under the name Hank Armstrong. He fought in the Featherweight, Welterweight, and Lightweight divisions. He is one of very few boxers who has held the championships of three weight divisions (Featherweight, 10/29/1937-9/12/1938; Welterweight, 5/31/1938-10/4/1940; Lightweight, 8/17/1938-8/22/1939). He is also the only boxer to hold three different weight classes' championships at the same time.
In The War That Came Early, Pete McGill reflected that the United States Navy's attempts to offer battle to its Japanese counterpart did not resemble the epic bout between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling, but was more like Hank Armstrong on Benzedrine. The Navy's commanders had expected a massive engagement resembling the Battle of Jutland, but were forced into retreat by enemy aircraft without even making contact with the main Japanese naval formation.
Primo Carnera (October 26, 1906 – June 29, 1967), nicknamed the Ambling Alp, was an Italian (and for a while American) professional boxer and the World Heavyweight Champion from June 29, 1933, to June 14, 1934. While continued to box until 1944, his record was more or less average after 1934. He left boxing after having a kidney removed. He became a wrestler in 1946, and had a successful career until 1962. He also appeared in several films.
In the novel Joe Steele, Charlie Sullivan thinks that Senator Carter Glass looked like he'd walked into haymaker from Primo Carnera upon leaving a 90 minute meeting with President Joe Steele in March, 1933
Robert "Bob" Crues (December 31, 1918 - December 26, 1986) was a minor league baseball player. He is remembered for tying Joe Hauser's record of 69 home-runs in a single season, in 1948. He also drove in 254 runs throughout the year. Crues record was broken by Joe Bauman, a one-time teammate, in 1954.
Crues' record is mentioned at the beginning of "The Star and the Rockets".
Joseph Paul "Joe" DiMaggio (November 25, 1914 - March 8, 1999) was starting centerfielder for the New York Yankees baseball franchise from 1936 to 1951. He retired with a .325 batting average and 361 home runs. As of 2010 he is the only major leaguer with over 300 career home runs whose lifetime ratio of home runs to strikeouts (369) approaches 1:1. He played in ten World Series and his teams won nine of them. He is best known for hitting safely in 56 consecutive games in the 1941 season, which shattered the record for longest hitting streak and has never been approached since. He was American League MVP in 1939, 1941, and 1947, AL batting champion in 1939 and 1940, selected to 13 All-Star teams, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1955. He was briefly married to Marilyn Monroe.
DiMaggio has been referenced in several Turtledove works. In Homeward Bound, the final volume of the Worldwar franchise, in 2031, Glen Johnson, whose stints in cold sleep have extended his life span dramatically, realizes that no one left alive would have any memories of watching Joe DiMaggio play. In the same volume, when Jonathan Yeager tell his father, Sam Yeager, that being his son had hampered his career as a Lizardologist, Sam lamely attempts to cheer Jonathan up by saying "If Babe Ruth's kid had been Joe DiMaggio, he would have done all right."
Abner Doubleday (June 26, 1819 - January 26, 1893) was a soldier of the United States Army for more than thirty years, achieving the rank of major general of volunteers and brevet colonel of the Regular Army. He saw service in the Mexican War and in the American Civil War.
In 1905, over a decade over Doubleday's death, National League President Abraham Mills chaired a committee assigned with determining the origins of the game of baseball. The committee's final report, issued on December 30, 1907, claimed that Abner Doubleday had created the modern rules of baseball in Cooperstown, NY in the summer of 1839. In fact, Doubleday had moved away from Cooperstown in 1838, and Mills' claims have since been discredited. Still, Doubleday's name remains indelibly linked with the history of a game which he may well never have seen played.
In "The Star and the Rockets", Joe Bauman's home run totals for the 1954 season approachs 70, he reflects that no baseball player, on any team, in any league, had ever hit 70 home runs in a single year since Abner Doubleday created the game. (Apparently Bauman is unaware of the evidence refuting the Mills Commission's findings.)
Robert William Andrew Feller, nicknamed "Rapid Robert," "Bullet Bob," and "The Heater from van Meter" (November 3, 1918 - December 15, 2010) was a Major League Baseball starting pitcher from 1936 to 1956. As his nicknames testify, the speed of his fastballs was legendary. However, he often struggled with control; he retired in possession of the record for most bases-on-balls allowed over a career, and continues to hold the single-season record for that category, with 208 walks in his rookie year.
Feller's career, which spanned 21 years, was played entirely with the Cleveland Indians. Feller led the American League in wins six times, in strikeouts seven times, in ERA once, and won the Triple Crown in 1940. He was an eight-time All-Star and won a World Series ring with the Indians in 1948. When he retired in 1956, he owned the record for most career no-hitters, three. That record has since been broken, but one distinction that continues to be unique to Feller is throwing a no-hitter in his team's first game of the season.
Feller retired with a career win-loss record of 266-162, an ERA of 3.25, and 2581 strikeouts. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1962.
In addition to his more direct role in Turtledove's work, in The War That Came Early: Hitler's War, Lou Gehrig's declining health in 1938 is indirectly referenced when Herman Szulc suggests that Gehrig might be past his prime.
Joseph Lowell Gordon (February 18, 1915 - April 14, 1978) was an American professional baseball player in the mid-twentieth century. He was the New York Yankees' starting second baseman from 1938 to 1943, at which point his career was interrupted by World War II. After the war he returned to the Yankees but was soon traded to the Cleveland Indians, where he would play four more years.
Gordon was a lifetime .268 hitter with 253 home runs and 975 RBI. He played in six World Series and won four championships, with the 1938, 1939, and 1943 Yankees and the 1948 Indians. He was a nine-time All-Star, was the American League MVP in 1942, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.
Gordon's career helps pin down the chronology of a few of Turtledove's works. In The War That Came Early: Hitler's War, Pete McGill and his fellow Marines are able to hear part of the 1938 World Series, and catch Gordon going 2-4 with a home run and three RBI. In The Hot War: Bombs Away, we learn that Gordon was hired by the PCL Sacramento Solons to manage the team and play second base just weeks before the outbreak of World War III.
Harold Edward "Red" Grange (June 13, 1903 – January 28, 1991), nicknamed "The Galloping Ghost" or "The Galloping Red Ghost", was a college and professional American football halfback for the University of Illinois, the Chicago Bears, and for the short-lived New York Yankees. His signing with the Bears helped legitimize the National Football League. He was a charter member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame. In 1924, Grange became the first recipient of the Chicago Tribune Silver Football award denoting the Big Ten's most valuable player. In 2008, he was named the best college football player of all time by ESPN, and in 2011, he was named the Greatest Big Ten Icon by the Big Ten Network.
Peter James Gray (March 6, 1915 – June 30, 2002, original surname Wyshner) was a professional baseball player best known for playing as an outfielder with the St. Louis Browns in the major leagues, despite having lost his right arm in a childhood automobile accident.
Stanley Raymond "Bucky" Harris (November 8, 1896 – November 8, 1977) was an American Major League Baseball player, manager and executive. In 1975, the Veterans Committee elected Harris, as a manager, to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In the novel Joe Steele (novel), Harris becomes manager of the Washington Senators as in OTL, and leads them to a dismal season in 1937. Thanks to President Joe Steele, the actual Senate is having a similarly dismal year.
Joseph John "Unser Choe" Hauser (January 21, 1899 - July 11, 1997) was a professional baseball player. He played first baseman in the major leagues from 1922-1929, with the Philadelphia Athletics and Cleveland Indians. Hauser's major league career was undistinguished, but he made a name for himself in the minor leagues, where he became the first player ever to hit 60 or more home runs twice in a professional career: 63 in 1930, and 69 in 1933. That record was matched by Bob Crues in 1949, and surpassed by Joe Bauman, who hit 72 in 1954. He remained the only player to hit 60 or more twice until Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa accomplished the feat in 1998 and 1999. His career as a hitter is references in "The Star and the Rockets".
Joseph Louis Barrow (May 13, 1914 - April 12, 1981), who used the sporting name Joe Louis and was nicknamed the Brown Bomber, was an American professional boxer.
Louis is well-remembered for his rivalry with German boxer Max Schmeling. The two first met in 1936. Louis, rated the number one challenger in the world heavyweight division and undefeated thus far in his career, was heavily favored to beat the former heavyweight champion; however, Schmeling prepared more thoroughly than Louis and won an upset victory by knocking Louis out in the twelfth round of their match.
In 1937, Louis defeated James Braddock to become heavyweight champion of the world. He would reign as heavyweight champion until 1949 and would defend his title a record twenty-five times, including a rematch with Schmeling in 1938, where his victory badly embarrassed the Nazi Party, and a storied, hard-fought victory over Billy Conn in 1941. Louis served in the United States Army in World War II, rising to the rank of sergeant. After the war he resumed his boxing career, continuing to defend his title but clearly no longer at the prime of his career. He announced his retirement in 1949, ceding the championship to Ezzard Charles. He returned to the sport in 1950 and briefly attempted a comeback, but retired for good in 1951 after an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Rocky Marciano.
Louis is referenced a number of times in Turtledove's work. Both Joe Steele and "Cayos in the Stream" use the metaphor of "having gone a few rounds with the Brown Bomber" (or words to that effect) in passing. In The War That Came Early: Coup d'Etat, Pete McGill reflects that the United States Navy's attempts to offer battle to its Japanese counterpart did not resemble the epic bout between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling, but was more like Hank Armstrong on Benzedrine. Later in the same volume, after enduring a heavy Soviet artillery bombardment, Luc Harcourt feels like he'd just gone 15 rounds with Joe Louis.
In addition to having had a role in the POD of "The House That George Built", Connie Mack is referenced in few other Turtledove works. For example, in The War That Came Early: Two Fronts, Peggy Druce reflects that she had admired Connie Mack since her childhood, but that by 1942, his glory days were behind him.
Shaquille Rashaun "Shaq" O'Neal (born March 6, 1972), is an American retired professional basketball player who received numerous sporting awards during his 19 years in that capacity. He has also been an actor, television broadcaster, rapper, autobiographer, and reserve police officer.
In The Valley-Westside War, "Shaquille" is used as a password at a Crosstime Traffic safehouse. Characters briefly discuss O'Neal and try to remember whether he was a star of baseball or basketball.
James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens (September 12, 1913 – March 31, 1980) was an American track and field athlete and four-time Olympic gold medalist.
Owens specialized in the sprints and the long jump and was recognized in his lifetime as "perhaps the greatest and most famous athlete in track and field history". His achievement of setting three world records and tying another in less than an hour at the 1935 Big Ten track meet in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has been called "the greatest 45 minutes ever in sport" and has never been equaled. At the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, Owens won international fame with four gold medals: 100 meters, 200 meters, long jump, and 4 × 100 meter relay. He was the most successful athlete at the games and, being an African-American, gave an embarrassing blow to Adolf Hitler's wish to use the Games as a showcase of Aryan supremacy.
Although legend says that Hitler departed the stadium early, as a snub to Owens, some reports indicate that Hitler made his decision because of inclement weather before Owens was announced. Owens himself and a few witnesses later testified that he had met and shaken the hand of Hitler, and the meeting between the two was cordial. Because this contradicted the popular post-World War II image of the event, Owens kept silent about this except to a few people.
Montgomery Marcellus "Monte" Pearson, also known as "Hoot," (September 2, 1908 – January 27, 1978) was a professional baseball player of the 1930s. His position was pitcher. He played for the Cleveland Indians from 1932 to 1935, the New York Yankees from 1936 to 1940 (playing on all four of the Yankees' championship teams from 1936 to 1939, the first time a baseball team won three or four straight titles), and the Cincinnati Reds in 1941. Pearson threw a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians on August 27, 1938 and was selected to the American League All-Star Teams in 1936 and 1940. His career win/loss record in 100-60. He threw 703 strikeouts and finished with a 4.00 ERA.
In addition to his prominent roles in various Turtledove works, Babe Ruth plays noteworthy background roles in other works.
In the novel The House of Daniel, there are several references to an incomparable player known only as the "Bambino". It's not clear if this is Ruth or a close analog.
Maximilian Adolph Otto Sigfried Schmeling (28 September 1905 - 2 February 2005) was a German heavyweight boxer. He became Heavyweight Champion of the World following the retirement of Gene Tunney in 1930. He lost the title to Jack Sharkey in 1932. Schmeling was perceived as being past his prime until 1936, when he knocked out the heavily favored Joe Louis. Schmeling fought a rematch against Louis in 1938, and arrived in New York City accompanied by a publiciste Reichsministry of Propaganda, who guaranteed Schmeling's victory, based not on Schmeling's individual merits but on the inherent superiority of Aryans to black people. This Nazi boasting led Americans of every race to rally around Louis. For Schmeling's part, he considered himself a German patriot and allowed a Ministry of Propaganda publicist to accompany him to New York because he felt obliged to cooperate in what he saw as an attempt to improve the increasingly negative international perception of Germany's domestic policies. However, he was neither a member of the Nazi Party nor a proponent of their racial theories; in fact, it was eventually learned that he helped two Jewish children escape the Holocaust.
Shortly after losing to Louis, Schmeling joined the Luftwaffe when World War II broke out and served in an elite unit of fallschimjager (paratroopers). He was badly wounded at the Battle of Crete and was honorably discharged from the service.
After the war ended, Schmeling made a brief attempt to resurrect his boxing career. He retired permanently in 1948, and went to work for the Coca-Cola Company. He befriended his old rival Louis and the two became quite close, with Schmeling footing the bill for Louis's funeral service in 1981. Schmeling himself died in 2005 at the age of 99.
In The War That Came Early: Coup d'Etat, Pete McGill reflects that the United States Navy's attempts to offer battle to its Japanese counterpart did not resemble the epic bout between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling, but was more like Hank Armstrong on Benzedrine. In the novel Joe Steele, when Charlie Sullivan sees his wife Esther after she's given birth to their daughter, Sarah, he thinks that she looks like she had run five miles and had gone a few rounds with Max Schmeling, complete with dark circles around her eyes that looked like she had a mouse under each eye.
Fernando Valenzuela Anguamea (born 1 November 1960), is a Mexican-born former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher who played 17 seasons, from 1980 to 1997, for six American teams, primarily the Los Angeles Dodgers. He retired after the 1997 season. In 2003, he returned to the Dodgers as a broadcaster. In 2015, he became a naturalized American citizen.
In "The Road Not Taken", Turtledove makes the rather grim prediction that Valenzuela will die in 2039.
- ↑ Upsetting the Balance, pg. 381, HC.
- ↑ Coup d'Etat ch 19
- ↑ Joe Steele, pg. 50.
- ↑ The Man With the Iron Heart, pg. 30.
- ↑ Hitler's War, pg. 41.
- ↑ Hitler's War, pg. 40.
- ↑ Bombs Away, pg. 36, ebook.
- ↑ Joe Steele, p. 374.
- ↑ Joe Steele, pgs. 154-155.
- ↑ Coup d'Etat ch 19
- ↑ ibid ch 25
- ↑ Two Fronts, p. 110.
- ↑ The Valley-Westside War, p. 283.
- ↑ After the Downfall, p. 214.
- ↑ Hitler's War, pg. 40.
- ↑ Second Contact, pg. 592.
- ↑ Coup d'Etat ch 19
- ↑ Joe Steele, pg. 198, HC.