Friday, February 9, 2007

Hank and Jack Bauer

I just heard on the car radio that Hank Bauer died - the great hard-hitting Yankee right-fielder from the 1950s. It's a measure of how thoroughly 24's Jack Bauer has permeated our culture - or, at least, my mind - that I first thought the announcement was about another member of Jack's family, another brother, or a grandfather. Just last week, Jack's father killed Jack's brother.

But Hank Bauer was no man of fiction. He played on one of the classic of classic Yankee baseball teams, along with Mantle, Maris, Berra, and the rest. I saw Bauer many times out at Yankee stadium when I was kid. I was probably closer to him than any other Yankee, because I always seemed to wind up in the right-field bleaches.

There's something about baseball. I was talking on KNX Radio this past Sunday to Todd Leitz about the Superbowl commercials - my regular weekly interviews - and he asked me who I was hoping would win the game. The answer was, it didn't matter to me. It's football, not baseball, doesn't matter...

And there was something about Hank Bauer. He mattered. Professional, stoic, you could almost always depend upon him to come through. Casey relied upon him, just as the fans did.

Is is it stretching things to say there's some sort of similarity between Hank and Jack Bauer? Between the real make-believe of baseball and the make-believe real of 24?

Maybe ... but I rely upon them both, in my imagination.

Helpful links:

Championship Baseball Hank Bauer's 1968 book

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