From 2002–2010 Gabriel Schechter was a researcher at the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library. His first book, Victory Faust, published in 2000, was a finalist for the Society for American Baseball Research’s (SABR) prestigious Seymour Medal Award. He is also a dedicated blogger and the author of Unhittable! Baseball’s Greatest Pitching Seasons, as well as This Bad Day in Yankees History. Gabe also wrote the captions for collections of Neil Leifer’s baseball and football photos as well as photographs from the lens of baseball photographer Charles Conlon.
Most ballplayers’ careers are like a roller-coaster ride, a whirlwind succession of high points and declines that ends all too abruptly. But that of Mike Donlin was wilder than most. For the charismatic star whose strut earned him the nickname “Turkey Mike,” life was full of turmoil, triumph, and tragedy. Hitting a baseball was the easy part.
By all accounts, the 1890s was the roughest decade in baseball history for the players. The game on the field was more physically aggressive than before or since, and society regarded ballplayers as ruffians unfit for general society.
Celebrity today can be worldwide and instant and is getting faster all the time. You don’t even have to set out to do anything to earn the world’s attention. You merely have to be caught on film doing something remarkably nimble or stupid that cracks the lineup on YouTube, or look photogenic enough to land on a heavily concocted “reality” show on television. More and more, celebrity and talent are becoming mutually exclusive phenomena. They do intersect sometimes, but they don’t have to.