BREAKING NEWS

BREAKING NEWS

Crankshaft starring in new book

ED CRANKSHAFT, who is featured in a comic strip in The Times Leader, now is the star of a new book,”Strike Four! The Crankshaft Baseball Book.”

Crankshaft’s experiences with the Toledo Mud Hens, a farm team, and his later years are revealed by Tom Batiuk and Chuck Ayers with a foreward by Jamie Farr. All three have connections with Ohio.

Batiuk and Ayers are both graduates of Kent State University, and Farr is a Toledo native. Crankshaft, of course, played for an Ohio team.

The Funky Winkerbean comic strip (also by Batiuk) and Crankshaft are carried in more than 600 newspapers worldwide and have an audience of more than 60 million readers.

Farr, who portrayed Max Klinger in the hit television series, M*A*S*H,* noted, “It is somewhat fitting that the pinnacle of Crankshaft’s baseball career was pitching for the only team in the world named after a sort of misfit duck.”

He explained a mud hen is a coot with some of the characteristics of a duck. He added that Toledo was built on a marsh, and “some wise soul decided to name our now famous baseball team after the coots that inhabited the area.” It has been the farm team for several major league baseball teams.

In addition to telling his personal experiences with baseball, Batiuk in an introduction for the Crankshaft book notes, “Baseball provided me with a vehicle for exploring a man’s life and allowed me to examine how only getting his fingerprints on the brass ring shaped the remainder of Ed’s life and left him a little … cranky. But he didn’t let it diminish his love for the game ….”

Crankshaft in the comic strips reminisces about his minor league pitching career and also reveals his comic attempts to recapture his youthful success on the mound. When he eventually had been called up in his early days to play for the Detroit Tigers, he also was drafted by Uncle Sam, and he didn’t play baseball after the armed services.

His experiences related to baseball with his grandson, Max, include both humorous and emotional moments.

Crankshaft also tells a young ballplayer about a black ballplayer, named Jefferson Jacks in 1947. That was the year that Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball. The comic strip illustrated how “others who followed him back then had to break the same barrier over and over again.”

Jacks in the early days was given a rough time by Beanball Bushka once described by Crankshaft as “being a horse’s patoot.” Jacks went on to another field in baseball, and he and Beanball discovered how much they had in common as senior citizens.

Shown in one strip is Crankshaft’s thick FBI file, and those familiar with the popular curmudgeon won’t be surprised at the reason given for it.

Crankshaft’s baseball exploits, which included beaning the Cleveland mayor while throwing out the first pitch as he substituted for the president of the United States, bring humor and good advice (at times) to the readers.

The 240-page softback book was published by Black Squirrel Books, an imprint of The Kent State University Press, and it costs $24.95.

Pokas can be reached at bettypokas@yahoo.com.

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