Some writers enjoy doing research, others do not, but anyone worthy of being called a writer must do it. Readers or viewers pounce on mistakes and feel the entire work is suspect.
Take Eight Men Out
for example. It is an excellent book by Eliot Asinof
that tells the story of the 1919 Chicago White Sox
, the infamous Black Sox
who threw the World Series.
Later it became a movie of the same name. An excellent film, faultless in detail. With one exception. Few people would have any way of spotting that lone error concerning the pronunciation of the name of Chicago's leading pitcher, Eddie Cicotte
I am one of the exceptions because I grew up listening to Jack Graney
(shown at left)
broadcast Cleveland Indians baseball games in the late years of the 1930s. I heard him again in the late '40s and early '50s.
Jack Graney (pronounced Grain-ee) was a man of many firsts. He was the first player to wear a number on his uniform, first to bat against Babe Ruth when the Babe pitched for Boston, first former major league player to broadcast a game and first to broadcast a World Series. He was the roommate of Ray Chapman, first and only player killed in a major league game. Graney often spoke of him, and of the dark, dreary afternoon when a Carl Mays pitch hit him on the head.
From the time he joined the Indians in 1908 through the season of 1920, Jack Graney faced Cicotte many times. He knew him well. He often told stories about Eddie Sigh-COT-ee. Some were humorous, others deadly serious, and all of them touched with sadness because Jack Graney had liked and admired Cicotte.
But in the movie version of Eight Men Out, Cicotte was called SEE-cot. Why? Because in the 1950s Al Cicotte pitched in the major leagues. Not wanting to be associated with his infamous relative, Al pronounced his name SEE-cot. That was the pronunciation picked up by the film makers.
Could they have done better? Of course, but it wouldn't have been easy because few players of Eddie's era were still living at the time the film was shot. Then, too, they had no reason to suspect they had it wrong.
The point, though, is that while I enjoyed the movie and have seen it several times, that mispronunciation grates on my nerves. I always wonder why somebody didn't do a little more digging.
Like many errors, this one is self-perpetuating. Wikipedia picked it up from the movie and says the name was pronounced See-cot. Others have and will continue to make the same mistake.
Sorry, Eddie, but as long as the game of baseball is played, no one will know how your name was pronounced. Italians, of course, may be suspicious that something is wrong.
Oh, yes, I had one other source of information. For two hours in 1976 I interviewed Edd Roush, the centerfielder for the Cincinnati Reds when they played the Black Sox in that 1919 World Series. A Baseball Hall of Famer, Roush was a man who believed a sentence wasn't complete without at least one four-letter word. Two or three were better. He mentioned Cicotte several times. At one point he said, "Hell, we coulda beat that damn Sigh-COT-ee any day uh the week and twice on Sundays. Hod Eller woulda whipped that sonuvabitch's ass every time he faced him."
Ah, the voice of authority. And Edd Roush, like Jack Graney, was the authority.