The Baseball Iliad

        Starting out as a cub sports reporter in Colorado, Damon Runyon found the dusty sandlots of western semi-pro baseball an inadequate field for his major-league writing talent. Moving to New York City, he landed a prestigious sports beat at Hearst's New York American, where he regaled readers with detailed, behind-the scenes tales of famous sportsmen such as Jack Dempsey and Babe Ruth. Runyon later moved on to short stories and Broadway plays, with his literary focus on the gamblers, swindlers, down-and-outers and larger-than-lifes populating New York's sidewalks, bars, and burrows. The classic "Runyonesque" was a slangy and wordly-wise city dweller, but real fascination in Runyon's writing can also be found in his newspaper sketching of talented and sympathetic men, simply trying to pitch, hit and catch a small white ball.  

        As a tribute to this master of sports storytelling, The Archive is pleased to present this modest collection of Runyon's newspaper writing--all of it. At present, "9,000" is only a guess, as the project began in January, 2020, and Runyon's career in the big leagues of the American press spanned more than 30 years of near-daily columns and articles--starting in the Hearst flagship paper, the New York American, in 1911.   

Johnie M'Graw and Connie Mack 


The Woman Boss of Denver

Harper's Weekly/December 26, 1908


The Voice That Breathed O'er Eden

Buffalo Times/October 3, 1909


Matty Great in Face of Defeat

Buffalo Courier/October 18, 1911

Massacre Too Soft a Word to 
Convey Idea of the Game

Buffalo Courier/October 27, 1911


Shake Hands in Old Gray Alamo
El Paso Herald/March 5, 1912


Unique Lot of Squabs

Evening Standard/January 25, 1913

McGraw is Not Worried by Protest

El Paso Herald/May 2, 1913

Winter League Will Bring Forth 
"Retirements" and "Hold Outs"

El Paso Herald/October 17, 1913


Stage Premature Scene

Washington Herald/October 5, 1915

Mayer May Also be Important in Coming Battles

South Bend News-Times/October 6, 1915

Breaks of Luck Are a Big Factor

Washington Herald/October 9, 1915

Alexander the Hope of Phils

Washington Herald/October 11, 1915

Coffey Beaten by Frank Moran

Washington Herald/October 20, 1915

Johnny Dundee the Winner of Battle

Washington Herald/October 27, 1915

Barrett and Red Team Too Much for Pennsy

Washington Herald/November 26, 1915

Wilson, Neutral, Sees Army Beat Navy; Score 14-0

Washington Herald/November 28, 1915

Yale's Defeat Told in Detail by Runyon

Honolulu Star-Bulletin/December 1, 1915


Welter Class is Again Popular

Salt Lake Tribune/January 4, 1916

Moran Hands Kayo to the "Dublin Giant"

New York American/January 8, 1916

Sees Finish of Boxing Game

Salt Lake Tribune/January 16, 1916

This Kauff is Some Hitter

Salt Lake Tribune/January 24, 1916

Will Federal Players Stick?

Salt Lake Tribune/January 27, 1916


Willard-Moran Bout is Too Short

Salt Lake Tribune/January 28, 1916

Fight Money Talk Wearisome

Salt Lake Tribune/January 30, 1916

Gedeon is Man Yankees Need

Salt Lake Tribune/January 31, 1916

Why Not Referee's Decision?

Salt Lake Tribune/February 12, 1916

The Making of a Fighter

Salt Lake Tribune/February 13, 1916

Bobby Dodds, Genuine Old Vet

Salt Lake Tribune/February 19, 1916

"Handling" a Prelim. Fighter

Salt Lake Tribune/February 20, 1916

Jim May Break In This Year

Salt Lake Tribune/March 3, 1916

Noise is Feature

New York American/June 5, 1916

Runyon Names the Dodgers As Winners
Washington Herald/October 6, 1916

Ready for Series
Washington Herald/October 7, 1916

Dodgers Beaten Despite Rally

Washington Herald/October 8, 1916

Del Gainer Hero as Red Sox Win
Washington Herald/October 10, 1916

Olson's Clout Saves Dodgers
Washington Herald/October 11, 1916

Gardner Spikes Dodgers' Chance
Washington Herald/October 12, 1916​

Boston Sox Win '16 Championship
​Washington Herald/October 13, 1916

Army Team Victorious in Hard-Fought Game

Washington Herald/November 26, 1916


Much Ado About Nothing
New York American/January 1, 1917

Les Darcy's First
New York American/January 4, 1917

A Baseball Retirement
New York American/January 5, 1917

Our Busy Heavies
New York American/January 6, 1917

Improving Baseball
New York American/January 8, 1917

Good Old Mike
New York American/January 9, 1917

The Furious Fulton
New York American/January 11, 1917

Britton a Real Champ

New York American/January 12, 1917

The Gig-Lamp Brigade

New York American/January 13, 1917

McCoy and Darcy

New York American/January 16, 1917

The Fate of Johnny Dundee

New York American/January 17, 1917

Wolgast Very Sick
New York American/February 3, 1917

A Word About Mike Donlin

Salt Lake Tribune/February 4, 1917

The Close of Sport
New York American/February 5, 1917

Saving the Game
New York American/February 6, 1917

Our American Champs
​New York American/February 8, 1917

The Squire of Flatbush
New York American/February 9, 1917

A Baseball Paradise
New York American/February 10, 1917

Fulton Strong Favorite
​New York American/February 12, 1917

New York American/February 13, 1917

Mr. T. Jones
New York American/February 15, 1917

The Effect of Food

New York American/February 16, 1917

A Stitch in Time

New York American/February 17, 1917

Poker is Preserver of Peace
New York American/April 4, 1917

32,000 Rabid Fans Cheer

White Sox in Beating Giants

Washington Herald/October 7, 1917

White Sox Hit Hard and Win

Washington Herald/October 8, 1917

Benton Beats Sox Smilingly

Washington Herald/October 11, 1917

Kauff is Hero in Giants Win Over Chicago

Washington Herald/October 12, 1917

Giants Leave NY in Happy Mood

Washington Herald/October 13, 1917

White Sox Land Title Series on Zim's Bone Play

Washington Herald/October 16, 1917


Peace Talk Fails to Stir Artillerymen at Front

Washington Herald/October 19, 1918

Huns Pleased at Arrival of Yanks on German Soil

Ottawa Free Trader Journal/December 14, 1918


Hurler in Danger When Ruth Bats
New York American/September 9, 1920

Homer No. 51 A Terrific Lick
New York American/September 25, 1920

The Father of 'Krazy-Kat'
The Pittsburgh Press/November 26, 1920


Big Ban Boils in Bathroom

While Frazee Flails Him

Buffalo Courier/January 15, 1921

"Great to Be Champion"
Says King of Sluggers

​Washington Times/June 13, 1921

Good Living Has Worked Change in Jack Dempsey

Washington Times/June 14, 1921

Dempsey's Early Career Mostly as Punching Bag

Washington Times/June 15, 1921


Grandpap The Bulldogger

Washington Herald/November 19, 1922

O'Brien Fought Many Battles

Washington Herald/November 20, 1922


"The 9,000 Stories of Damon


Baker / BierceBly / Crane / Davis / Hemingway / London / Mencken / 

Roosevelt / Stanley / Steffens / Tarbell / Twain

New York American

April 4, 1917

Poker is Preserver of Peace

Impassable Barrier Between Giant and Tiger Trains Bars Further Hostilities—Storm Halts Game

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., April 3.—Jim Thorpe’s adopted townspeople did not get a chance to see him commit right field in a big league uniform this afternoon, as was threatened by the exhibition schedule of the Giants and the Tigers. A sandstorm spilled itself over the local baseball orchard with such violence that the game was called off before it started.

A good crowd had collected in the ball yard, and the gate money was returned, which was a terrible heart wrench to Secretary John B. Foster, of the Giants. It was clear enough over head, and the ball players went out in full regalia prepared to pastime, but it was soon discovered that the instrument of amusement could not be located when it was knocked into the air or along the ground, on account of the profusion of the wind-wafted sand.

Teams Have Separated

Without a baseball ball players are practically helpless, so the game was abandoned, and the athletes returned to their prospective hotels. Up to this time the boys have inhaled their ham and beans at the same hostelries, but now they have been split out.

It was feared that the practice of inviting one another to private rooms for private pugilistics might become a custom if the lads were permitted to remain in close contact. It can still be done, of course, but the separation makes it more difficult.

The Giants are at the Lee Huckins Hotel, and the Tigers are around the corner at the Kinkade. It would involve a walk of at least a hundred yards did a Giant yearn to punch a Tiger in the puss, or vice versa, and it seems unlikely that a ball player would indulge in that much exercise just for a fight. En route each club occupies two separate cars, and between these cars has been placed another car containing the club officials and the Detroit and New York baseball writers.

This car is neutral territory. The athletes cannot get at each other across this Belgium of the baseball, because a poker game in the middle of it forms an impassable barrier. The New York and Detroit baseball writers do not fight each other, as they esteem fighting a low and ungentlemanly practice, and, besides this, the Detroit writers look like very tough guys.

Tyrus Visits the Giants

Tyrus Raymond Cobb, who expected to leave the tourists at Wichita Falls, but who failed to make train connections, appeared in the lobby of the hotel where the Giants are stopping today, and made inquiry for mail. None of the Giants were present at the time, having gone on out to the baseball corral, but it is not likely the Georgia Prune would have encountered trouble even had they all been there.

Most of the Giants studiously avoid conversation with Tyrus, but they are not violently disposed toward him off the field. Anyway, the cause of all the turmoil was finally removed this afternoon, as Cobb went on to join the Cincinnati Reds. Allowing Tyrus to train with a National League ball club when he has the option to work with his own outfit is bound to meet with more or less criticism.

Jim Thorpe, who made a good showing at Wichita Falls yesterday, was brought along with the Giant regulars for the express purpose of satisfying the desire of Oklahoma City to see Jeems in a large league livery. Jim does not originate in Oklahoma City, being indigenous to a place called Prague, Okla., but he spent last winter here, owns an abode here and calls this his home town.
Thorpe a Hard Swinger

When he is not booting footballs for Canton, Ohio, or baseballs for New York and Milwaukee, he punches the bag on convenient corners hereabouts with the natives. Jeems has come along in baseball the past couple of years. He can go fetch ’em out in right field with anybody in the country, and he can take as hard a swing at that old apple, as the lads call it, as the next man, and maybe harder.

He is liable to fan out and he is liable to but up the pastime, but never can it be said of James that he is not trying. If ever a man lived who is entitled to get by in big league ball it is this simple-hearted, laughing Indian He never quits on himself. It will be a real tragedy of the game if it is his fate to again fail to make the big line.

The tourists leave here at midnight for Tulsa.


Dempsey Must Be Accepted in Lesson of Conservation of Earnings As Against “Game Chicken” And His Times

Birmingham News/January 8, 1923

Dempsey and Ruth,

Kings of Two Big Realms, Contrast

Buffalo Courier/February 25, 1923

Firpo Stops Brennan in Twelve-Round Bout Filled With Sensations

Buffalo Courier/March 13, 1923

Firpo Crushes

Charlie Weinert in Second Round

Buffalo Courier/August 14, 1923

Dempsey Tells Runyon He Had Hard Time Getting Right, But He's O.K. Now

Buffalo Courier/June 29, 1923

Jack Floored, Then Puts Firpo Away

Buffalo Courier/September 15, 1923

Stengel’s Brilliant Play In Ninth Inning Wins Good Game For Giants

The Bulletin (Pomona, CA)/October 11, 1923


Naturals of Modern Sport

Light Up "The Great White Way"

Richmond Times-Dispatch/January 2, 1924

On the Road Again With Jack Dempsey

Richmond Times-Dispatch/January 3, 1924

Matching Them Out of Class Hurting Game

San Francisco Examiner/January 4, 1924

Death for Boxing If Tex is Ousted

Richmond Times-Dispatch/January 5, 1924

Tilden Author Long Before He Started Game

San Francisco Examiner/January 6, 1924

Floyd Johnson to Begin All Over as a Fighter

Quad City Times/January 7, 1924


Old Timers on Brooklyn Club
March 11, 1926


Ruby Packs 'Em In

Harrisburg Evening News/April 2, 1927

Back to Philadelphia

Harrisburg Evening News/April 4, 1927

Mr Woodman Speaks

Harrisburg Evening News/April 5, 1927