NABOKV-L post 0010470, Sat, 30 Oct 2004 12:25:49 -0700

Fwd: more on Chapman's Homer joke

----- Forwarded message from -----
Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2004 20:17:45 -0800
From: Carolyn <>

Dear Don,

Jansy asked me for the Pale Fire reference regarding Chapman's Homer.

"A curio: Red Sox Beat Yanks 5-4
On Chapman's Homer, thumbtacked to the door."

I thought this joke pre-dated Nabokov - - and might have been an actual
sports headline so I went a-googling. I didn't find a definitive answer, but
I did find this interesting discussion:

In "Pale Fire" are the lines:
. . . Red Sox Beat Yanks 5-5
On Chapman's Homer . . .

Was there ever such a game, or is this another of Nabokov's jokes?

To which came the following response:

Could have. Ben Chapman played for the Red Sox in 1937 and 1938 as I think
an all-around utility player. In 1937 he had 7 HR wearing number 1 for the
Red Sox, in 1938 he had 6 HR wearing number 9 (in other words, his stints
with the Red Sox those two years were not consecutive). I couldn't find a
way to look up in which games he hit those home runs and what the box scores
were for those games, so I can't answer your question, but it's obviously
conceivable. From 1930 to 1946 there were 90 of Chapman's homers overall,
with the Yankees, Brooklyn, Washington, Cleveland, the Phillies, and the
White Sox. From '44 to '46 he was a pitcher, with an overall W:L of 8:6 and
141 innings pitched.

Nabokov's interest in American baseball being limited, I imagine there
really must have been such an event, even if the headline itself is just a
joke. It must have been an old joke too. Nabokov is not above recirculating
old jokes as Jansy and I discovered when we looked into the "what time's the
next swan" joke in Laughter in the Dark.


----- End forwarded message -----
EDNOTE. COuld well be a "real" headline. It looks like one of those filler items
the New Yorker is/was so fond of.