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
The Voice That Breathed O'er Eden
Matty Great in Face of Defeat
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
McGraw is Not Worried by Protest
Winter League Will Bring Forth
"Retirements" and "Hold Outs"
El Paso Herald/October 17, 1913
Stage Premature Scene
Mayer May Also be Important in Coming Battles
Breaks of Luck Are a Big Factor
Alexander the Hope of Phils
Coffey Beaten by Frank Moran
Johnny Dundee the Winner of Battle
Barrett and Red Team Too Much for Pennsy
Wilson, Neutral, Sees Army Beat Navy; Score 14-0
Yale's Defeat Told in Detail by Runyon
Welter Class is Again Popular
Moran Hands Kayo to the "Dublin Giant"
Sees Finish of Boxing Game
This Kauff is Some Hitter
Will Federal Players Stick?
Willard-Moran Bout is Too Short
Fight Money Talk Wearisome
Gedeon is Man Yankees Need
Why Not Referee's Decision?
The Making of a Fighter
Bobby Dodds, Genuine Old Vet
"Handling" a Prelim. Fighter
Jim May Break In This Year
Noise is Feature
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
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
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
The Gig-Lamp Brigade
McCoy and Darcy
The Fate of Johnny Dundee
Wolgast Very Sick
New York American/February 3, 1917
A Word About Mike Donlin
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
A Stitch in Time
Poker is Preserver of Peace
New York American/April 4, 1917
32,000 Rabid Fans Cheer
White Sox in Beating Giants
White Sox Hit Hard and Win
Benton Beats Sox Smilingly
Kauff is Hero in Giants Win Over Chicago
Giants Leave NY in Happy Mood
White Sox Land Title Series on Zim's Bone Play
Peace Talk Fails to Stir Artillerymen at Front
Huns Pleased at Arrival of Yanks on German Soil
Hurler in Danger When Ruth Bats
New York American/September 9, 1920
Big Ban Boils in Bathroom
While Frazee Flails Him
"Great to Be Champion"
Says King of Sluggers
Washington Times/June 13, 1921
Dempsey's Early Career Mostly as Punching Bag
O'Brien Fought Many Battles
"The 9,000 Stories of Damon
Dempsey Must Be Accepted in Lesson of Conservation of Earnings As Against “Game Chicken” And His Times
Dempsey and Ruth,
Kings of Two Big Realms, Contrast
Firpo Stops Brennan in Twelve-Round Bout Filled With Sensations
Charlie Weinert in Second Round
Dempsey Tells Runyon He Had Hard Time Getting Right, But He's O.K. Now
Jack Floored, Then Puts Firpo Away
Stengel’s Brilliant Play In Ninth Inning Wins Good Game For Giants
Naturals of Modern Sport
Light Up "The Great White Way"
On the Road Again With Jack Dempsey
Matching Them Out of Class Hurting Game
Death for Boxing If Tex is Ousted
Tilden Author Long Before He Started Game
Floyd Johnson to Begin All Over as a Fighter
Old Timers on Brooklyn Club
March 11, 1926
Ruby Packs 'Em In
Back to Philadelphia
Mr Woodman Speaks
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.