Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Jack Keefe

Jack Keefe, a right-handed White Sox pitcher. In his letters to Al, Jack gives a full account of his adventures; he also reveals himself to be a shameless braggart and chronic self-excuser. With complete lack of reticence, he discusses his foolish episodes with his girlfriends, his troubles with his baseball career, and later his marital misadventures and his in-law troubles. Jack is a powerful pitcher, but his laziness, alibis, stinginess, and egotistical gullibility make him the rather pathetic hero of this satire.

Al Blanchard

Al Blanchard, Jack Keefe’s correspondent, patronized and used by Jack. Al is the recipient of the letters that elaborate every detail of the pitcher’s life. Apparently, Al never does see through Jack.


Florrie, Jack’s wife and Allen’s sister-in-law. Disgusted with Jack’s stinginess, Florrie leaves him when he is sold to Milwaukee. She rejoins him when she learns she is pregnant. She names the baby after Allen.


Allen, Jack’s brother-in-law, also a pitcher.


Marie, Allen’s wife.


Violet, a girlfriend who abandons Jack when he is sent back to the minor league.


Hazel, another girlfriend, who marries a boxer.


Al, Jack’s son.


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Jack Keefe knows he is the hero of his own life. He is, in his own eyes, the most valuable member of the Chicago White Sox; his wins result from his excellence, his losses from the errors of his teammates. His egotism is so thorough and so naive that he never really comprehends that owners, managers, teammates, opponents, spouses, or even readers like the long-suffering Al might place a lower value upon his merits. He thoroughly monopolizes the narrative. His is the only voice, and his imperfect syntax and diction render a Keefeian version of the actions, speech, and thoughts of everyone else. In his narrative everyone takes a back seat to his version of himself. As a result, few other characters are individualized. Al may know Jack, but there is no way for the reader to know Al; Lardner does not present his responses to Jack's self-involved letters. Allen, a left-hander who joins the pitching staff at the same time as Keefe is a reappearing character; Jack and Allen are married to a pair of sisters, and the relations between the two couples provide some comic moments. Lardner employs actual baseball players in minor roles: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, and Christy Mathewson. Keefe's first manager, Jim Callahan, was, in fact, the White Sox manager from 1912 to 1914; his coach, Kid Gleason, was manager from 1919 to 1923.

(The entire section is 225 words.)