Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Write Right - Do the Research


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.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tuesday 29 Dec 08 1933 hrs CST

Dick,

Enjoyed reading your posts. Wishing you and Jackie a Very Healthy and Happy New Year. Hope to see you in the spring or early summer '09'.

Chet CFHS

8:34 PM  
Anonymous Ron Cicotte said...

Dick,

Your sources are clearly not so reliable. The Cicotte name is an old one in Detroit going back to the earliest settlers when it was still just Fort Ponchartrain. The reason Al pronounced it See-cot is because that is how it has been pronounced since Zacharias Cicotte came to the Fort in 1723 from Montreal. His grandfather Jean Baptiste Chiquot (pronounced Shee -cote) came from Isle de Oleron in France with a contingent of 1200 troops to protect the fort from the Iroquois indians. In Canada the name is spelled Sicotte but it is still pronounced See-cot.

People have been mis-pronouncing our name for nearly 400 years. Thanks for letting me set the record straight. This is important because others have been siting you a source for their perpetuation of the mispronunciation.

Ron Cicotte

6:42 PM  
Blogger Dick Stodghill said...

Ron, you have to remember that these were uneducated ball players 90 and more years ago. Jack Graney played in the same league with Cicotte for years so he knew how they pronounced it. French is usually mispronounced by Americans. For years I worked with a man named Dubois. No one said it Dew-Bwah as he preferred.
For eleven days I took part in a battle near a town the French pronounced Sahn-tuh-nay. To us it was Saint Eny.
Read Ring Lardner's "Alibi Ike" and "A Busher's letters Home" (You Know Me, Al) for a look at ball players of that era. They called it the World Serious.

6:29 PM  

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