Sunday, June 12, 2011


Ok, this is a hard one to figure out.

The title is (more or less) "From the American Ballpark," and the joke goes roughly:

"Reporter: What's your name?

Player: Buzcinski - B as in bits, U as in hit, Z as in killed, C as in shreds, I as in invalid..."

Obviously, the translation ruins the whole "U as in," "Z as in" effect, but more curiously -- why is a Czechoslovakian sports magazine in 1955 running a cartoon about American football? While there had been at least one such game played in Prague (details are here -- I'd never heard about this before I started looking this up) I really don't think it was at all common. Czechs would have related to such a cartoon the way I'd relate to one about, say, cricket. I suppose the humor in the joke would be universal, but why set it against the background of an unfamiliar sport? Was football seen as quintessentially American back then? I kind of doubt it -- I'd think baseball would have been more representative (though unlikely to produce the scene seen here).

My guess is that they cribbed it from an American publication -- I can't quite make out the artist's name, but it looks like the first name is either Fred or Ford, both American style. Or, perhaps it was an American living in Prague. I've got a few issues of this magazine and I'll have to go and see if this was a regular thing.

Then there's this, which makes me laugh a bit. It's from an article headlined "Prima donnas and traders" -- the player on the left, with his fancy-dan mustache, is obviously a prima donna. The fellow on the right is obviously a trader. I don't know why he's wall-eyed. The article's a bit long and I haven't tried translating it yet.

This is most of the cover to the issue, from January 28, 1955. The full thing is too big to fit on my scanner. That's a fellow we've mentioned before, Vladimir Zábrodský, making a defenseman look stupid. While his reputation in the former Czechoslovakia is a bit mixed, Zábrodský was undoubtedly a massive talent. In most of the photos I've seen of him, he stands out -- players are giving him room (or he's creating it), and he looks stronger, more confident than the others. That sounds a bit like projection, but in this case I don't think it is. I think if I were to show a photo of a game featuring Zábrodský to someone who had never seen hockey, they'd immediately recognize him as a star.

* * *

Hey, let's do a little link catch-up, in the name of spreading the word about good sites. First off, I've been remiss in not giving props to my chum Michelle's Street Dog Dispatch, chronicling her adventures in Southeast Asia. She's a hell of a writer -- go by and encourage her to do more of it.

Then, on the Czech hockey front, something sorely needed: the Czech Hockey Report, an English-language site covering hockey in my favorite country. I think this is the first English blog covering the Extraliga since Vak Fan gave up the ghost, and I'm thrilled to find it -- wish I had known about it during the 2010-11 season. Switching sports, staying in the region -- the Slavic Football Union, with a variety of writers covering soccer all over Eastern Europe. It's good stuff. Finally, The Other 87 -- soccer again with some really interesting features, in particular the multi-part article on Antonio Cassano, and this post on Eric Cantona. All good sites, give 'em a look!


Brushback said...

That magazine cover's really cool...

Michelle said...