Last week OTFB brought you the first in what could very well be a recurring series of posts dealing with baseball and literature (however forced the connection might be). Because if you look hard enough, or just happen to read something that has even a tenuous connection to baseball, why not blog about it?
While we already know that Robert Coover was prescient in how his The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop. anticipated baseball culture and the state of the game today, today’s installment will take us to the pulpy streets of Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles in his short story “Trouble Is My Business:”
She tipped the key of her call box again. “Have Mr. Jeeter come in, honey.”
Let me quickly set the scene. Phillip Marlowe, Chandler’s hardboiled private eye, has been called to a business acquaintance’s office. Mr. Jeeter is a wealthy investment banker looking to reign in his son, who’s wracked up $50,000 in gambling debt, and to drive off the sultry woman who has her eyes set on young Jeeter’s trust fund and inheritance. Skulking, murder, and verbal barbs follow in the next 60 odd pages.
Could the predicament that the elder Jeeter finds himself in be a comment on Derek Jeter’s cosmopolitan lifestyle and lavish farewell treatment of the women with whom he hooks up?
The answer, of course, is yes. And just in case you attribute all of this to coincidence, consider Chandler’s description of a hotel lobby several pages after the introduction of Mr. Jeeter:
A doorman opened the door for me and I went in. The lobby was not quite as big as Yankee Stadium. It was floored with blue carpet and sponge rubber underneath.
Here, Chandler opts for a Yankee Stadium reference and even carpets the lobby in what can only be imagined as “Yankee blue.” Derek Jeter’s career slash line comes in at .316/.362/.429. He’s racked up 3,304 hits and five (perhaps questionable) Gold Gloves. His playboy smile has captured countless hearts. If there’s any player whose actions could alter the very fabric of time and influence a piece of literature written in 1934, then I think it could be Jeter.
And let’s not ignore the description of Mr. Jeeter, who represents the older version of the real Jeter, who will haunt our ESPN Sunday Night Baseball telecasts and New Yorker profiles long after he’s retired from the game:
He was a tall white-blond type in pin-striped flannel of youthful cut. There was a small pink rosebud in his lapel. He had a keen frozen face, a little pouchy under the eyes, a little thick in the lips. He carried an ebony cane with a silver knob, wore spats and looked a smart sixty, but I gave him close to ten years more.
A perennially youthful fashion sense, deceptive physical looks, debonair swagger - is that not Derek Jeter at the age of 70?