As Scorecard editor, Steve Wulf gets some of our more exotic mail—and that's the way he likes it. Recently he received a letter from a former Peace Corps official that contained photocopies of a newspaper story about a boat race held near the Tonga Islands in the Pacific. "The newspaper is called The Tonga Chronicle, and its motto is 'Where time begins,' " says Wulf with a wry smile. To those who know him, that smile is a signal that something has just struck Steve's sense of the odd and the amusing. As often as not, it means he has found another tidbit for SCORECARD. (AS a case in point, turn to page 16 for the scoop on those Tongan boats.)
It was four months ago when Wulf asked if he could take a turn at putting together SCORECARD, our front-of-the-book section of editorials, anecdotes, news and humor. He had spent six of the previous eight years writing baseball, and since 1985 had been the senior editor in charge of that sport for us. The SCORECARD assignment would give him a chance to write every week—something he had badly missed during his stint as an editor. We accepted his suggestion with enthusiasm—as did his wife, Jane Bach-man Wulf, SI's chief of reporters, and, says Steve, their 14-month-old son, Bo.
Besides being the only person on our staff who can trace the historical connection between Casey at the Bat and the Perry Mason TV series (DeWolf Hopper, the actor whose readings made the poem famous, was married to Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper; their son, William Hopper, played Paul Drake on Perry Mason), Wulf is also SI's principal authority on the Menippean satire. This is an arcane literary form exemplified by Gulliver's Travels and Alice in Wonderland, and it was the subject of Wulf's senior thesis when he was an English major at Hamilton College in upstate New York.
While it could be said that Wulf is more accustomed to Brobdingnagian writing—his long pieces on baseball's Dream Team (The Team of Your Dreams, April 15, 1985) and the history of Wheaties (Famous Flakes of America, April 5, 1982) are particularly memorable—he has made a swift transition to the Lilliputian world of succinct SCORECARD items. He was greatly helped, no doubt, by his years of experience with other scorecards—the kinds he keeps for himself at the ballpark. "I have my own very weird baseball shorthand," says Wulf. "Singles are S's, doubles are D's, walks are W's. I don't see the need for all those complicated symbols." Wulf compares his scoring system with that of Yankee broadcaster Phil Rizzuto, who once marked down an at bat as WW, explaining that it meant Wasn't Watching.
August 23, 1987
We trust you won't find many WW's in Wulf's SCORECARD.