|Ring Lardner and Chicago Sports Reporting
Ring Lardner, a major figure in the tradition of American vernacular literature, perfected his craft and rose to fame while working as a sportswriter on a series of Chicago newspapers. Lardner came to Chicago in the fall of 1907 and began a 12-year Chicago sportswriting career that took him to the Inter-Ocean Examiner and the Tribune. In 1913, when he was 28, Lardner took over the widely read Tribune column “In the Wake of the News,” which freed him from the pressure of regular baseball reporting and allowed him to develop the distinctive literary gifts on which his fame rests. Combining an ironic perspective, verbal economy, and a gift for dialect, Lardner built a large and loyal audience for his “Wake” columns—including such budding young writers as Oak Park resident Ernest Hemingway, whose parodies of Lardner in his high-school newspaper suggest an important stylistic indebtedness.
Many of Lardner's “Wake” columns feature characters and dialogues that anticipate his first national success, “A Busher's Letters Home,” published serially in the Saturday Evening Post. These letters, written by an imaginary White Sox rookie named Jack Keefe to his friend in Indiana, reveal Lardner's unerring ear for American vernacular.
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