A onetime teacher at the University of Pennsylvania, West Chester University, Episcopal Academy and Penn Charter, Paoli’s William Kashatus has authored 30 books and some 200 essays. He hopes to nab a Casey Award with his latest, Lefty and Tim: How Steve Carlton and Tim McCarver Became Baseball’s Best Battery (University of Nebraska Press, 376 pages). The book’s foreword was written by former Phillies pitcher Larry Christenson, who lives in Malvern.
MLT: So what’s the crux of Lefty and Tim?
WK: At first glance, the two appear like an odd couple. Tim McCarver was old school, Steve Carlton new age. Reunited midseason in Philadelphia in 1975, McCarver became Carlton’s personal catcher. They really were hand and glove, and they became the best battery in baseball in the mid- to late ’70s.
MLT: Doesn’t it hurt the book not to have Carlton’s participation?
WK: The product is always hurt when a subject doesn’t talk. When he finally refused, I was two-thirds finished, and I was seriously thinking I’d chuck the project. Then I talked with Larry Christenson, and he said, “Don’t do that. What you’ve written people don’t know about him.”
MLT: Like what?
WK: Carlton had a weird humor and engaged in hijinks. Headbutting was a favorite thing of his. It hurt, but he had a proclivity for doing it to younger players as a form of endearment. Also, during a road trip to Pittsburgh, it’s the middle of the night, and [Greg] Luzinski and [Christenson] are trying to sleep, but they keep hearing loud pings. In the hotel’s hallway, Carlton was using a golf iron to hit line drives off the exit door.
MLT: In writing this book, what did you learn about your connection to baseball?
WK: I was 10 or 11 when I started playing baseball. I was the fat kid, so no one wanted to play catch with me. I made virtue out of necessity and became a catcher. I was given a Sports Illustrated youth book on how to play catcher, and McCarver was featured. I consumed that book, and he became one of my favorite players. I was never a good player, but I learned that a catcher has to be the leader and know himself and his pitchers. What’s most important in the pitcher-catcher relationship is unconditional trust.