country of citizenship:
United States of America
educated at: University of Wisconsin–Madison
occupation: writer, journalist, economist
Lawrence Stanley Ritter (May 23, 1922 – February 15, 2004) was an American writer whose specialties were economics and baseball.
Ritter was a professor of economics and finance, and chairman of the Department of Finance at the Graduate School of Business Administration of New York University. He also edited the academic periodical Journal of Finance from 1964 to 1966. He died at age 81 in New York City. His book, Principles of Money, Banking, and Financial Markets, coauthored with William L. Silber and Gregory F. Udell, has gone through twelve editions and has been a standard college text since it was first published in 1974.
Ritter is arguably best known for writing one of the most famous sports books of all time, The Glory of Their Times (1966, updated 1984). He collaborated with another baseball historian, Donald Honig, on The Image of Their Greatness (1979) and The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time (1981, featuring several players who would later be dropped in favor of new players on several later all-time greats lists).
In researching The Glory of Their Times, Ritter travelled 75,000 miles to interview his subjects, sitting for hours listening to them tell their tales into his tape recorder. Ritter's "Existential" style of interviewing was to allow his subjects to reminisce freely, rarely prodding or probing them on anything. No questions about specific games. No questions about what it was like to face certain players. Ritter's technique was to get his interviewee comfortable around him, to turn the tape-recorder on, and shut up while his subjects spoke. Ritter's style elicited responses that other reporters never reach with questions. His most difficult "find" was Sam Crawford, who shared the outfield with Ty Cobb in Detroit. After being given only cryptic hints about where he might find Crawford, i.e., "drive between 175 and 225 miles north of Los Angeles", Crawford's wife told Ritter, "and you'll be warm" – Ritter ended up in Baywood Park, California where his inquiries yielded nothing. After several days, he sat in a laundromat watching his clothes spin beside an old man. Ritter asked him if he knew anything about Sam Crawford, the old ball player. The man replied, "Well I should hope so. Bein' as I'm him."
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