Follow us: Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Google+ Follow us on Linkedin Follow us on Tumblr Subscribe to our RSS or Atom feed
Saturday, December 16, 2017
Southern Weather Radar


Our Writers

  • Adam Peck
  • Alan Gordon
  • Alex Kearns
  • Alex Seitz-Wald
  • Alice Murray
  • Allison Korn
  • Alyssa Cagle
  • Amanda Marcotte
  • Amanda Peterson Beadle
  • Andrea Grimes
  • Andrea Lee Meyer
  • Andrew Bowen
  • Andy Brack
  • Andy Kopsa
  • Andy Miller
  • Andy Schmookler
  • Ann Marie Pace
  • Ann Woolner & Leonard Ray Teel
  • Anna Dolianitis
  • Anna Forbes and Kate Ryan
  • Annelise Thim
  • Anoni Muss
  • April Adams
  • April Moore
  • Ariel Harris
  • Armando
  • Arthur Blaustein
  • Austen Risolvato
  • Austin McMurria
  • Barry Hollander
  • Bert Roughton III
  • Beth Ostlund
  • Betsey Dahlberg
  • Bill Caton
  • Bill Hamm
  • Bill Mankin
  • Bill Montgomery
  • Bill Moyers & Michael Winship
  • Bill Phillips
  • Bill Semple
  • Bill Tush
  • Billy Howard
  • Bob Bohanan
  • Bob Pritchard
  • Booth Malone
  • Bootsie Lucas
  • Boyd Lewis
  • Brad Clayton
  • Braden Goyette For ProPublica
  • Brandon Collins
  • Brett Martin
  • Brian Randall
  • Brianna Peterson
  • Bruce Dixon
  • Bruce E. Levine
  • Burton Cox
  • Candice Dyer
  • Carl Kline
  • Carol Carter
  • Carson M. Lamb
  • Casey Hayden
  • Cathleen Hulbert
  • Center for American Progress
  • Chantille Cook
  • Charles Finn
  • Charles O. Hendrix Jr.
  • Charles Seabrook
  • Charles Walston
  • Chelsea Toledo
  • Chelsey Willis
  • Chris Bowers
  • Chris Kromm
  • Chris Wohlwend
  • Christopher Burdette
  • Chrys B. Graham
  • Chuck Collins
  • Cliff Green
  • Cody Maxwell
  • Collin Kelley
  • Craig Miller
  • Crissinda Ponder
  • Dallas Lee
  • Dan Kennedy
  • Daniel Flynn
  • Daniel K. Williams
  • Daniel Palmer
  • Danny Fulks
  • Dante Atkins
  • Darby Britto
  • Dave Cooley
  • Dave Johnson
  • Dave Pruett
  • David Bradford
  • David Evans
  • David Harris-Gershon
  • David Jenks
  • David Kyler
  • David Parker
  • David Roberts
  • David Rotenstein
  • David Swanson
  • Dean Baker
  • Deb Barshafsky
  • Debbie Houston
  • Deborah Chasteen
  • Denise Oliver Velez
  • Dennis McCarthy
  • Desiree Evans
  • Dian Cai
  • Diana
  • Diane Rooks
  • Dina Rasor
  • Dindy Yokel
  • Doc
  • Don Lively
  • Don O'Briant
  • Donnie Register
  • Door Guy
  • Doug Couch
  • Doug Cumming
  • Dr. Brian Moench
  • Dr. Dorothy Ann Boyd-Bragg
  • Dr. Nick De Bonis
  • Dr. Ravi Batra
  • E. David Ferriman
  • Earl Fisher
  • Eden Landow
  • Eileen Dight
  • Eleanor Ringel Cater
  • Elizabeth Shugg
  • Ellen Brown
  • Elliott Brack
  • Erin Kotecki Vest
  • Fatima Najiy
  • FishOutofWater
  • Francisco Silva
  • Frank Povah
  • Fred Brown
  • Frederick Palmer
  • Gadi Dechter, Michael Ettlinger
  • Gail Kiracofe
  • Gaius
  • Georgia Logothetis
  • Gib Ennis
  • Gina Williams
  • Gita M. Smith
  • Glenn Carroll
  • Glenn Overman
  • Gordon Anderson
  • Gregory C. Dixon
  • Gryphon Corpus
  • Hamp Skelton
  • Harriet Barr
  • Heather Boushey
  • Henry Dreyer
  • Henry Foresman
  • Hollis B. Ball III
  • Hugh
  • Hyde Post
  • Ian Kim
  • Ian Millhiser
  • Isabel Owen
  • Ivy Brashear
  • J.A. Myerson
  • Jack deJarnette
  • Jack Wilkinson
  • Jacklyn C. Citero
  • Jake Olzen
  • James Hataway
  • James Marc Leas
  • James N. Maples
  • Janet Ward
  • Jasmine Burnett
  • Jason Palmer
  • Jason Parker
  • Jay Thompson
  • Jaz Brisack
  • Jeff Cochran
  • Jeff Davis
  • Jeff Rayno
  • Jeff Spross
  • Jeffry Scott
  • Jennifer Hill
  • Jesse Harwell
  • Jessica Luton
  • Jim Allen
  • Jim Bentley and Jeff Nesmith
  • Jim Clark
  • Jim Cobb
  • Jim Fitzgerald
  • Jim Newell
  • Jim Stovall
  • Jim Walls
  • Jim Warren
  • Jimmy Booth
  • Jing Luo
  • Jingle Davis
  • JL Strickland
  • Joan Donovan
  • Jodi Jacobson
  • Jody Wegmueller
  • Joe Earle
  • Joe Shifalo
  • Joel Groover
  • Joey Ledford
  • John A. Tures
  • John Dembowski
  • John Hickman
  • John Hickman with Sarah Bartlett
  • John Huie
  • John M. Williams
  • John Manasso
  • John Sugg
  • John Tabellione
  • John Yow
  • Jon Sinton
  • Jonathan Grant
  • Jonathan Odell
  • Joni Hunnicutt
  • Jonna Pattillo
  • Joseph B. Atkins
  • Joseph Gatins
  • Josh Dorner
  • Josh Sewell
  • Joy Moses
  • Judith Stough
  • Judy McCarthy
  • Juli Ward
  • Julian Bond
  • Julian Riggs Smith
  • Julianne Wyrick
  • Julie Ajinkya
  • Julie Puckett Fodera
  • Just Plain Will
  • Kaili Joy Gray
  • Kate Greer
  • Kate McNally
  • Katherine A. Edmonds
  • Kathleen Brewin Lewis
  • Kathleen Harbin
  • Kathleen R. Gegan
  • Kathryn Hoffman
  • KC Wildmoon
  • Keith Graham
  • Ken Edelstein
  • Ken Haldin
  • Ken Hawkins
  • Ken Peacock
  • Kevin Austin
  • Kevin Duffy
  • Kip Burke
  • Kirk McAlpin
  • Kirsten Barr
  • Kos Moulitsas
  • Kristie Macrakis
  • Lacey Avery
  • Lamont Cranston
  • Laura Clawson
  • Laura Smith
  • Laurence Lewis
  • Lawrence S. Wittner
  • Lee Leslie
  • Lee Robin
  • Leon Galis
  • Leonce Gaiter
  • Les Eatwell
  • LikeTheDew
  • Linda Hunt Beckman
  • Linda Jordan Tucker
  • Lisa Byerley Gary
  • Lisa Kerr
  • Lois Beckett, Propublica
  • Lorraine Berry
  • Louie Crew Clay
  • Louis Mayeux
  • Lovell Jones, Ph.D.
  • Lucy Emerson Sullivan
  • Lucy Guest
  • Maggie Lee
  • Maisha White
  • Mandy Richburg Rivers
  • Margi Ness
  • Marian Wang, ProPublica
  • Marie Diamond
  • Mark Dohle
  • Mark Johnson
  • Mark Sumner
  • Martha W. Fagan
  • Mary Civille
  • Mary Elizabeth King
  • Mary Kay Andrews
  • Mary Lee
  • Mary Willis Cantrell
  • Matt Blakely
  • Matt Johnson
  • Matt Musick
  • Matt Renner
  • Matthew Wright
  • Maurice Carter
  • Meg Livergood Gerrish
  • Meghan Miller
  • Melanie Rochat
  • Melinda Ennis
  • Michael Bailey
  • Michael Beckel
  • Michael Castengera
  • Michael Ettlinger
  • Michael J. Solender
  • Michael Linden
  • Michael Lux
  • Michael W. Twitty
  • Mike ”Hunter” Lazzaro
  • Mike Copeland
  • Mike Cox
  • Mike Handley
  • Mike Lofgren
  • Mike Ludwig
  • Mike Williams
  • Mimi Skelton
  • Moni Basu
  • Monica Smith
  • Murray Browne
  • Myra Blackmon
  • Nancy Melton
  • Nancy Puckett
  • Nancy Robinson
  • Nancy Rogers
  • Neill Herring
  • Nelly McDaid
  • Nikki Gardner
  • Niles Reddick
  • Noel Holston
  • Occupy Wall Street
  • Overman & Senn
  • Pamela Sumners
  • Pat Garofalo
  • Pat LaMarche
  • Pat Norman
  • Patrick Andendall
  • Patrick L. Ledford
  • Patsy Dickey
  • Patti Ghezzi
  • Paul Buchheit
  • Paul Krupin
  • Paul Rutledge
  • Paul Thim
  • Pete & Jack
  • Peter Crawford
  • Peter Turnbull
  • Phil Gast
  • Phil Noble
  • Philecta Clarke Staton
  • Philip Graitcer
  • Phyllis Alesia Perry
  • Phyllis Gilbert
  • Piney Woods Pete
  • Polly
  • R S
  • R.L. Miller
  • Rafael Alvarez
  • Randy Conway
  • Randy Schiltz
  • Ray Bearfield
  • Raymond L. Atkins
  • Reagan Walker
  • Rebecca Sive
  • Ric Latarski
  • Richard Eisel
  • Righton C. Willis
  • Rob Chambers
  • Rob Coppock
  • Rob Douthit
  • Robert Allen
  • Robert Dardenne
  • Robert E Hunt Jr
  • Robert Jensen
  • Robert Lamb
  • Robert M. Williams, Jr.
  • Robert Mashburn
  • Robert Weiner & Richard Mann
  • Robin Marty
  • Rodney Adams
  • Roger Gregory
  • Ron Feinberg
  • Ron Taylor
  • Rose Aguilar
  • Rose Weaver
  • Rosemary Griggs
  • Russ Wellen
  • Sam Morton
  • Sao Magnifico
  • Sara Amis
  • Sarah Ayres
  • Sarah Bufkin
  • Saralyn Chesnut
  • Scott Anna
  • Scott Borchert
  • Scott Keyes
  • Scott Wooledge
  • Sean Manion
  • Seth Cline
  • Shane Gilreath
  • Sharon M. Riley
  • Shay Dawkins
  • Sheffield Hale
  • Sheila Barnard Nungesser
  • Sigrid Sanders
  • SoniaTai
  • Sonya Collins
  • Soraya Chemaly
  • Spencer Lawton
  • Stephanie Taylor
  • Stephen Lacey
  • Stephen Wingeier
  • Steve King
  • Steve Krodman
  • Steve Valk
  • Stuart Liss
  • Sue Sturgis
  • Sujigu
  • Susan De Bonis
  • Susan Soper
  • Susan Wilson
  • Suz Korbel
  • Tammy Andrews
  • Tammy Ingram
  • Tanya Somanader
  • Ted Kooser
  • Terri Evans
  • The Barnacle Goose
  • Thomas A. Bledsoe
  • Tiger Liliuokalani
  • Tim Oliver
  • Timothy Freeman
  • Timothy Hurst
  • Tom Baxter
  • Tom Crawford
  • Tom Ferguson
  • Tom Millsop
  • Tom Poland
  • Tom Walker
  • Travis Waldron
  • Travis Waldron & Pat Garofalo
  • Trevor Stone Irvin
  • Tricia Collins
  • Troubadour
  • Valerie Evans
  • Viveca Novak
  • Waldron, Somanader & Garofalo
  • Walter Rhett
  • Wanda Argersinger
  • Wayne Countryman
  • Wayne Johnson
  • We The People
  • Will Cantrell
  • Will Nelson
  • William Cotter
  • William Hedgepeth
  • Yana Kunichoff
  • Yasmin Vafa
  • Zack Beauchamp
  • Zack Ford
  • Zaid Jilani
  • Zaina Budayr




  • Writer Login


    Southern Song of the Day: ‘Catfish’ by Bob Dylan

    by | 0 | Nov 16, 2009

    AILING HUNTERThis is a revised and expanded version of the story first posted November 16, 2009.

     Catfish Hunter had his mind made up.  He wasn’t gonna work on Finley’s farm no more.

    The son of a Hertford, North Carolina sharecropper, James Augustus Hunter, knew all about farms. He also knew when he was getting a raw deal, whether working the land or working the mound.  Hunter claimed Charles O. Finley, owner of The Oakland Athletics, breached the contract he signed prior to the ’74 major league baseball season. An arbitrator agreed, clearing the way for Hunter to leave Finley’s farm for work at a more palatial estate. A few months before the ’75 season, Catfish Hunter settled for Yankee Stadium and the 3.3 million bucks the New York Yankees offered. In Bob Dylan’s words, Catfish “packed his bags and took his arm,” becoming, due to Finley’s high-handed blunder, baseball’s first big-time free agent. The sharecropper’s son could now buy lots of his own farm land. Catfish Hunter was, according to Dylan’s song, a “million dollar man,” armed with an assortment of pitches and a big contract.

    Charles O. Finley was a baseball innovator. He was the rare owner who shaped his team. He irritated  people along the way, but he could spot talent, assembling one of the greatest teams in baseball history. When Catfish Hunter agreed to pitch for the Yankees, he left behind a team that had won the last three World Series. The Oakland Athletics were one of the last baseball dynasties before veteran players gained leeway in determining which teams they would play for. The players would also make a lot more money. Catfish Hunter, “the million dollar man,” was a quiet but vital part of those great Athletics teams. His departure was a tough loss for Finley and team management to absorb. But Hunter’s new-found freedom had a different effect on players.  How much more could they make if they could offer their services on the open market?  The genie was out of the bottle.

    Hunter’s case against Finley didn’t eliminate baseball’s reserve clause, which kept players bound — for their entire careers — wherever their teams determined.  Still the case likely hastened changes the players were advocating.  Under MLB Executive Director Marvin Miller, players began taking seriously their rights as workers in a free country.  Baseball players, generally a conservative group, now seemed radical to many observers. But players learned how much money their teams were making and demanded a more equitable arrangement.  Little more than a year after Hunter signed with the Yankees, the reserve clause was struck down.  More players began entertaining offers like the ones Hunter received.

    In his first season with the Yankees, Hunter was as terrific as the year before, leading the American League in victories and innings pitched. Saddled with the wear and tear that comes from throwing so hard so much, Hunter’s dominance tailed off in the late ’70s and he retired from the game after the ’79 season at the age of 33.  True to his roots, he went back to North Carolina where he spent the next 10 years working his thousand-acre farm.

    In 1987, Catfish Hunter was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Not only was he acclaimed for his 224 career victories but also for his easy-going, unassuming nature.  The mood conveyed in Bob Dylan’s “Catfish” mirrors the image baseball fans have of Hunter’s temperament and style.

    In a  bright and bluesy manner, Dylan sings of Hunter in command at the ballpark.

    Lazy stadium night
    Catfish on the mound.
    “Strike three,” the umpire said
    Batter have to go back and sit down.

    On both the Athletics and the Yankees, Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson were teammates.  In 1977, Jackson became a “million dollar man” with the Yankees himself, but there were a couple of seasons that Jackson had to face Hunter.  Mr. Dylan has the play-by-play.

    Reggie Jackson at the plate
    Seein’ nothin’ but the curve,
    Swing too early or too late
    Got to eat what Catfish serve.

    Dylan recorded “Catfish” in 1975 but it wasn’t officially released until 16 years later when it appeared on The Bootleg Series, Volumes 1-3 (Rare and Unreleased) 19611991.  On “Catfish,” Dylan shared writing credits with Jacques Levy.  A theater director, Levy wrote 10 songs with Dylan, most of them on Dylan’s album, “Desire,” released in early ’76.  Levy proved a valuable collaborator.  His theater background gave him a unique perspective on songwriting. In Clinton Heylin’s Dylan biography, Behind The Shades, Levy discussed working with Dylan on “Hurricane.” The first step, he said, “was putting the song in a storytelling mode.”  Levy and Dylan came up with a stunning story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter’s life.  Some of their other collaborations were dramatic as well, drawing on the innate talents both men possessed.  Levy said, “Bob loves movies, and he can write these movies that take place in eight to ten minutes, yet seem as full or fuller than regular movies.”

    Catfish Hunter’s life never made the silver screen. His life story wasn’t fully revealed in Dylan’s song either, but it captured Hunter’s spirit.  Levy and Dylan might have enjoyed incorporating other aspects of Hunter’s life into song.  In high school baseball, he pitched 5 no-hitters.  Just prior to signing with the Kansas City Athletics in ’64 (they moved to Oakland in ’68), he endured injury while hunting as his brother’s gun went off accidentally. That left 60 buckshot pellets in his right foot and it left Charles O. Finley mighty concerned.  According to Tom Clark in “Champagne and Baloney: The Rise and Fall of Finley’s A’s,” the owner said, “It scared the hell out of me.”

    Taking advice from one of his scouts, Finley flew to North Carolina and watched Hunter, 60 pellets and all, pitch his team to the state high school championship. He had already offered Hunter $75,000 to sign and was relieved that his investment was sound after all. But taking no chances, he sent Hunter to the Mayo clinic where surgeons removed the 45 pellets they could get to. To paraphrase Clark, Hunter took the other 15 pellets with him to six World Series, pitching a perfect game along the way.

    In his native Hertford, North Carolina, Hunter was known as Jimmy. “Catfish” was a moniker given him by Finley. The owner contrived a story to add color to the pitcher’s bucolic youth. Finley’s story had Hunter receiving the nickname as a child when he ran away from home but returned the same day with a string of catfish he had caught. It would be at least a decade before Hunter really challenged Charles O. Finley. Then, as we all learned, it would be over an important matter.  Regarding the nickname, he let Finley have his way.

    It’s not that far from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx to Greenwich Village or the theater district in Manhattan. As always, there was much to see and do there, but Catfish Hunter’s New York experiences pretty much started and ended on the pitching mound. He was not inclined to check out the club scene where Bob Dylan made his breakthrough in the early ’60s. Nor was he apt to see Broadway plays such as Oh Calcutta, directed by Jacques Levy.  His heart was in Hertford, North Carolina. For him, working in New York, as in Kansas City and Oakland before, simply led to a good life for his family. He looked forward to several decades back home after leaving the bright lights of the big leagues. It was to be an ideal retirement, one well-earned.

    James Augustus “Catfish” Hunter lived only 20 years after his retirement from baseball.  The stoic and hard working pitcher died at 53, succumbing  to ALS. The disease is known in North America as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after another great New York Yankee who died from its effects in 1941. Gehrig was known as “The Iron Horse,” having played in 2,130 consecutive games over 15 years, beginning during the 1925 season. He passed away at 36, little more than two years after he played his last game. Amazingly, both Gehrig and Hunter, durable and dominant, always ready to play, fell to a disease that causes the central nervous system to break down, resulting in muscle weakness and atrophy.

    Sal Bando, who emerged as an All Star third baseman for the Oakland Athletics in the same years that Hunter became one of baseball’s top pitchers, had fond memories of his old teammate. He remembered Hunter treating everyone alike, saying, “If you were an extra man, or you were a star, it didn’t matter, (he was) just a down to earth guy.” Bando also took note of what brought pleasure to Catfish, recalling,  “He was up by 4 or 5 and went fishing. He got in about noon, showered, went to the ballpark, pitched 10 innings and drove in the winning run.”

    Hunter’s life was a mix of old and new. He thrived in a time of change in professional sports but still concerned himself with his crops back home. He enjoyed needling fellow Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, particularly about Jackson’s flamboyance. He once told New York Post reporter Maury Allen that Reggie wasn’t such a bad guy. Hunter said, “He would give you the shirt off his back. But then, of course, he would call a press conference to announce it.” One can imagine Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson at Hall of Fame ceremonies in Cooperstown, New York. They might discuss Jackson hitting a home run in the last World Series game they played in as teammates. Hunter was the winning pitcher in that game, the one that clinched the ’78 World Series for The New York Yankees. Jackson might have preferred to talk about his homer. Yet Hunter could remind Jackson of how he struck him out in Bob Dylan’s song. That may or may not have fazed Jackson.  After all, he struck out 2597 times, the most in major league history. But he also hit 563 home runs, some putting Hunter in the lead during big games. As with much in life, baseball has great symmetry: a couple of million dollar men helping each other out.

    Author’s note: A follow-up to this story, will appear in Like The Dew the week of November 8, 2010.

     

    “Catfish” by Bob Dylan on Baseball Almanac:

    http://www.baseball-almanac.com/poetry/bob_dylan_catfish.shtml

    ###
    Jeff Cochran

    Jeff Cochran

    Jeff Cochran worked in advertising at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 27 years before accepting a buy-out in the Summer of 2008. In the seventies/early eighties, he handled advertising for Peaches Records and Tapes’ Southeastern and Midwestern stores. He also wrote record reviews for The Great Speckled Bird, a ground-breaking underground newspaper based in Atlanta.

     

    Print Friendly, PDF & Email

     

  • Worthy of Comment






  • Bruce Springsteen Sings "Robert Mueller's Comin' to Town"



  • Come Back, Barack - SNL



  • Indivisible at One

    Green Day - Back In The USA



  • The Most Honest Three Minutes
    In Television History


  •  
     
     
  • %d bloggers like this: